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OpenBSD will shut down if we do not have the funding to keep the lights on marc.info
801 points by openbsddesktop  3 days ago   402 comments top 47
jxf 3 days ago 11 replies      
Just to make the call to action a little more direct, the donation link is here:


jdludlow 3 days ago 11 replies      

  > The OpenBSD project uses a lot of electricity for running the  > development and build machines.  A number of logistical reasons  > prevents us from moving the machines to another location which might  > offer space/power for free, so let's not allow the conversation to go  > that way.
I don't understand this comment. If the choice came down to moving versus shutting down entirely, why is moving an unacceptable answer?

4ad 3 days ago 4 replies      
PaulRobinson 3 days ago 12 replies      
So let's deal with the elephant in the room: the OpenBSD project is run by complete and utter jerks. Not just Theo, but he has set the bar quite low when it comes to friendliness and tolerance of questions from younger/less experienced contributors. Linus' rants on the Linux kernel lists are almost cookie cutter copies of Theo's.

There is "opinionated software" and then there is Theo being an intolerable, obnoxious, ego-maniac.

As such many people are going to see this and laugh and think "good riddance", and will be happy to see OpenBSD disappear.

That will only be enhanced by the fact the books are closed, the shortfall on the electric bill is inexplicably $20k, and nobody is prepared to explain the detail.

In essence rudeness + shady accounting practice != open source community that should feel a sense of entitlement from non-core users

It's a shame because the code (especially the crypto code) is really good. Seriously, go read it: I used to love reading the OpenBSD source, but I never contributed anything because Theo was such an absolute jerk.

I hope the guys who work on the crypto stuff at least either keep doing so elsewhere (Free- or Net-), or a new project without the need for $20k in electricity bills spins up to keep going.

orbitur 3 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like it's useful to point that OpenBSD won't say exactly why the bill is so high, and apparently they don't have open accounting. That bothers me a bit.

Link to relevant reddit comment thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/1vakm9/openbsd_develo...

blhack 3 days ago 1 reply      
They accept bitcoins, here is their donation page, and they're the people that maintain openSSH, the software that I'd bet ALL of us use every day:


justin66 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get that a lot of people don't care. I even get that some people have an unrealistic expectation that they should know how every dime of their donation is going to be accounted for, an expectation that must either not extend to their other charitable donations or serve as an indicator that they don't give a lot of money to charities at all.

What I don't get is where people - presumably people involved in information technology - conclude that $20k/year is a lot of money to spend on electricity. What utopia of free electricity for all are these people living in? Can I host a few servers there?

simias 3 days ago 6 replies      
As a long time FreeBSD user I wish the BSDs would find a way to "unite" in a way, try to put redundant infrastructures in common.

Right now I feel like linux is slowly eating all the market share, if it continues that way the BSDs will regress back to the lines of Hurd and Plan9.

Competition is always a good thing, even in the OSS world.

pyvpx 3 days ago 0 replies      
all I want to say on this (to me, tiresome) topic is: if you or your company (especially if that is one and the same!!!!1) have ever used OpenSSH you should at the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM buy a damn CD. you really ought to donate a solid hundred in your local currency but if you can't, skip a couple pints this month and buy a CD.

if you use CARP or OpenBGPd and have never bought a CD, you need to buy two ;p

fidotron 3 days ago 1 reply      
As I commented when this appeared here the other day as: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7059581

The fact this was submitted here and disappeared is kind of indicative of their problems.

xradionut 3 days ago 5 replies      
They could probably kill support and power for some of the "dead silicon" platforms they support. If the CPU hasn't been manufactured in the last decade or two, why support it?
SwellJoe 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the price of OpenSSH is keeping all of OpenBSD running, I'll send OpenBSD some money.

I've never used OpenBSD except to tinker with it, and likely never will. But, I use OpenSSH hundreds of times a day (both in automated jobs and in the terminal). It is utterly necessary to me; likely necessary for all of us, really. So, while a company would have shed the extra weight and focused on its core product that users love years ago, OpenBSD keeps OpenSSH as a side effect. I guess I'm OK with that.

Maybe it's even necessary for OpenSSH developers to understand systems level programming at a level only OS developers can grasp, and maybe OpenSSH wouldn't be the absolute beast it is today without that kind of influence and widespread knowledge found in the OpenBSD team. I dunno. Whatever it is, I support the people and the things they do for me in OpenSSH even if I don't care much about OpenBSD.

cpprototypes 3 days ago 7 replies      
A little bit off topic, but this reminds me again of how much the web needs an easy payment system (as easy as in-app purchases in mobile). EFF, wikipedia, I often see notices or news of things they're doing and think to myself that I should donate. But I'm usually in the middle of something and stopping everything to take out my wallet, get the CC, fill out a form, etc. is just too disruptive. So I try to remind myself to do it later, but then forget.
ajkjk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain why I would want to support OpenBSD?

I get, from the comments, that: openSSH is great (sure, I can believe it) and Theo is an asshole but you should compromise and give them money anyway.

I don't get why a parallel operating system ought to continue existing, especially one that comes from the same legacy codebase as several others. I also don't get why, if openSSH is so good, the goal isn't to write a new SSH or fund openSSH separately and drop the rest that can't be supported. Why does the world needs OpenBSD instead of having the talent focused on making a smaller number (..Linux) better.

Certainly the answer might be 'because that's what the talent wants to work on' but that's not a good reason to fund it.

I have also gotten the impression, from limited observation, that there are real problems in the open source community with too many people doing the same thing and not working together, and with people being jerks (or just generally anti-social or at least not-highly-personable) and making it hard to get involved or care about otherwise important projects. I don't think supporting Theo, from what I've read here, helps that trend.

I know very little. Can someone fill me in?

jason_slack 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to use OpenBSD on my daily laptop about 8 years ago. Loved it. Worked for a University and we had a few OpenBSD Servers in my department for web serving, email, etc. No other departments did.

Why did I stop? Theo was such an ass about questions on "his" mailing lists that, well, there were friendlier communities out there.

OpenSSH, however, I use a lot so I could donate a few bucks for that.

jnazario 3 days ago 0 replies      
i used to have commit but was kicked out (along with a bunch of other people over the years). i even wrote a book on openbsd. what i see from afar is that obsd alienated a lot of people with theo's behavior, theo's gone and surrounded himself with sycophants, and the rest of the world caught up to them (largely) in features. as a result the userbase has shrunk - why put up with tirades if you have a secure platform elsewhere - and the features have remained stale.

theo was a visionary, and together with some other really brilliant folks (not counting myself as one of them) accomplished what people said no one could. since then he's been fine tuning that vision but has more or less kept it at around 2003. the world has changed, theo - and as a result the project - hasn't. so, the world caught up and users moved on.

midas007 2 days ago 0 replies      
OpenBSD overall is interesting. The installer alone signals how simple and elegant is the rest of the OS (take a look at the source [0]). A dozen basic questions give or take, and one can have a fully-functional box.

Revenue-wise, the best move would be for a shop like iXsystems, Pair or ByteMark to step up to cover costs. And, any shop that uses OpenSSH on a large scale should be able to pony up some cash to keep Open{SSH,BSD,CVS,{NTP,BGP,OSPF,SMTP,IKE}D} alive. For example, it would be nice to see OpenBSD on Amazon, and AWS might even be willing to fund kernel changes and more to accomplish that.

Finally: check out this handy script which makes it OpenBSD a whole lot easier to get started and complete common tasks. [1]


[0] http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/

[1] https://gist.github.com/steakknife/6120072/raw/shave

soapdog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just sent 50 USD their way. Its not much but it is as far as I can spend. I recommend everyone helping. OpenBSD is one of those projects that benefit everyone not only those using it.
D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suggest funding a solar power system, especially since the newer panels are even more efficient for a lower net cost-per-watt/kWH ratio.

Even on cloudy days the new panels will produce energy.

The panels are usually warranted to produce at least a certain (80% on mine) percentage for a set period of time. (25 years on my 5 + year old PV arrays) so the other considerations would be a charge controller/charger, a voltage inverter (from DC to AC) cabling and batteries for storage.

Of all the items, the batteries will be the main recurring expense as they generally don't last as long as the PV panels. Depending on type of battery, and how heavily cycled they are, batteries can last for 10 years, with proper care and use.

A system which maintains a constantly higher amperage will last longer than a system that has been allowed to be exceedingly discharged. (no less than 80% of capacity)

In my area electricity sells for $0.49USD per KWH ergo solar is the logical solution.

The end result is a self reliant system, independent of the issues associated with distributed power sources, while increasing responsibility for the consumer.

I find the cost/benefit ratio to be in favor of under-funded consumers, especially in the long term.

jlgaddis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Although the priority at this point is certainly paying the electric bill, you might also consider taking a look at the "Hardware Wanted" page [0] and seeing if you have anything laying around that one of the developers can use. It's typically not brand new top-of-the-line gear they're looking for so you might be surprised.

[0]: http://openbsd.org/want.html

kscottz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would love to see more FOSS projects on GitTip (https://www.gittip.com/). It would seem to me that regular small donations that can be budgeted would be more helpful than just scratching where and when it itches. Giving $1 a week versus $50 at once is so much more convenient. We as the FOSS community need to own up that writing and hosting software isn't free, and most of us as highly paid engineers are in a position to be charitable and help out. My resolution for this year is to give away 1% of my income to the FOSS community and related charities (EFF, Wikipedia, Ada Initiative, PSF, etc). I challenge everyone on HackerNews to do the same. Stop bitching and put your money where your mouth and let's go help make a better world.
plainOldText 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not an OpenBSD user, but I like their focus on security. And this could be a positive influence on other platforms. Donated.
akulbe 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you use OpenSSH... you benefit from OpenBSD's work, even if you're not an OpenBSD user.

SSH alone, and all the utilities that use it... have made my work/life SOOOOOO much easier. That may sound silly, but when you don't have to search for some 3rd-party utility because what you need is built-in... it makes life easier.

I'm donating.

kriro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems insane that they can't get enough funding given the current security climate. Think of some of the eccentrics whatever you want but they have always been fighting the good fight as far as I'm concerned.

No BLOB is a very sane idea for example. I think we'd be further along if that was enforced stricter by other projects.

brasetvik 3 days ago 2 replies      
You may not be using OpenBSD, but the same organization is behind OpenSSH.

Imagine being without ssh, then go donate. :)

openbsddesktop 3 days ago 1 reply      

Exploit Mitigation Techniques: an Update After 10 Years (by Theo)http://tech.yandex.com/events/ruBSD/2013/talks/103/

An OpenBSD talk by Michael Lucashttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPV3vJF99k

jlgaddis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read through some of this thread last night and was about to throw them a few bucks. I don't really consider myself an OpenBSD user although I do have a router here that runs it for pf. Other than that, I haven't touched it in probably a decade.

I'm glad I read through the whole thread because by the time I got to the end of it I had changed my mind. In one e-mail to the list, Theo basically said (in effect) that a donation of $20 wasn't even worth it. (Granted, $20 isn't much in the grand scheme of things but I feel that it reasonable covers my use of OpenBSD.)

There are many people who think that Theo is the worst thing for the Project (because he's such an asshole). OTOH, however, there are many who think that the Project wouldn't exist if it weren't for Theo.

mrbill 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can see their point about "We need to keep this VAX around because building on actual hardware is different from building on emulation", however I'm sure there's bits of infrastructure, CRTs hooked to KVMs, etc, that could be replaced with newer and more efficient gear that can help with the power bill. You don't have to run the ENTIRE place on cast-off donations and stuff out of a dumpster.
blahbl4hblahtoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I donated 50 bucks. These guys have been awesome for a long time. Sorry it took me this long to donate.

EDIT: Here's the thing. I don't directly use OpenBSD, but they have influenced more than just UNIX for a long time.

jlgaddis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm excited about buying a cupcake from one of the OpenBSD developers at the bake sale.
ThinkBeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of the discussion so far revolves around whether or not Theo can be abrasive. Who cares?

I would rather have a non compromising, highly secure operating system available, with all the source code available for me to see (none of that binary blob business)than a mediocre operating system that was somewhat securefrom a guy who was really chill.

Funding the OpenBSD project is not a decision about the personality of Theo, its a decision on the usefulness and and the quality of work that the OpenBSD community creates.

When I am setting up and configuring and relying on a server with OpenBSD, I could care less if Theo is eccentricor not. I am in awe of the technical brilliance of OpenBSD.

And yes I have donated and do donate to the project, and I encourage clients I have that are running on OpenBSD to do the same.

siculars 3 days ago 0 replies      
just donated 0.10 btc. really easy with bitpay integration. would rather not give paypal or my cc the fees.
ryen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think OpenBSD should reach out directly to manufacturers of the many hardware platforms they support (HP, SPARC (now Oracle), etc) and ask for donations. Of course, only the companies that are still in business.
Aqueous 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it would be best to move all non-specialized builds into Amazon or Rackspace or some automated CI service, and to move the specialized builds to a differnet, less expensive place, or keep them where they are. At the very least your electricity costs will go down.
jms703 3 days ago 1 reply      
What will happen to OpenSSH if OpenBSD can't keep the lights on?
jpessa 3 days ago 0 replies      
what i find interesting (read: suspicious) is how they have seemingly prioritized and budgeted other things ahead of paying for electricity.

when i make budgeting decisions (whether personal or in business), i start with the needs before going to the "nice to haves". for openbsd, i can't help but assume powering their various servers/systems is kiiind of a priority...

so what i want to know is:- the over all budget $ amount for 2014- what was the cost of power in 2013 * how did you get to $20k for 2014?- which priorities are worth funding over power

my suspicion is that there's plenty of room for give and take here.

bhaile 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for linking it here and would be better if it was linked to an article providing additional details other than electricity costs. Other users have posted the relevant links.

On another note, the readability of the font was a turn off for me. Fortunately, there is an option to view it in plain text. adding &q=raw at the end of the URL.http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m=138972987203440&w=2&q=raw

annnnd 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see the point - they should ask for subscriptions, not for donations. What will they do next month / year, ask again? And again?
diestl 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if this is a case of OS Darwinism. The fact that it seems to be hanging on by a thread shows most companies are using and contributing to Linux. I have never used OpenBSD so not sure what it overs over Linux as a Unix implementation?
bolle 3 days ago 1 reply      
22 seems an appropiate amount. Or whatever your portnumber is for your SSH-server.
Senkwich 3 days ago 0 replies      
Donated. Hope it helps.
mariuolo 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about emulators?
elwesties 3 days ago 2 replies      
This may be a silly question but could they virtualise the process on EC2?
jijji 3 days ago 2 replies      
The bigger question is who pays $2000/month for electricity for a server?
SilverSurfer972 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to donate some Litecoin
ffrryuu 3 days ago 0 replies      
The one with the gold makes all the rules.
Show HN: Kimono Never write a web scraper again kimonolabs.com
678 points by pranade  4 days ago   229 comments top 86
randomdrake 4 days ago 5 replies      
The presentation is beautiful and the website is great, but the tech broke so I have no idea how or if this even works. This is a wonderful concept and one I've talked about doing with others. I was really excited to try this. I watched the demo video and it seemed straightforward.

I went to try and use it on the demo page it provides, going through and adding things, but when I went to save it, I just received an error that something went wrong. Well, crap. That was a waste of time. Oh well, maybe it's just me.

Alright, I'll give it another shot using the website they used in the demo. Opened up a Hacker News discussion page and started to give it a try. Immediately it was far less intelligent than the demo. Clicking on a title proceeded to select basically every link on the page. Somehow I clicked on some empty spots as well. Nothing was being intelligently selected like it was in the demo. Fine, that wasn't working tremendously well, but I wanted to at least see the final result.

Same thing: just got an error that something went wrong and it couldn't save my work.

Disappointing. I still might try it again when it works 'cause it's a great idea if they really pulled it off. So far: doesn't seem to be the case.

DanBlake 4 days ago 2 replies      
Show me it working with authentication and you will have a customer. Scraping is always something you need to write because the shit you want to get is only shown when you are logged in.
dunham 4 days ago 3 replies      
The Simile group at MIT did something similar back around 2006. Automatic identification of collections in web pages (repeated structures), detection of fields by doing tree comparisons between the repeated structures, and fetching of subsequent pages.

The software is abandoned, but their algorithms are described in a paper:


georgemcbay 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've written more web scraping code than I care to admit. A lot of the apps that ran on chumby devices used scraping to get their data (usually(!) with the consent of the website being scraped) since the device wasn't capable of rendering html (it eventually did get a port of Qt/WebKit, but that was right before it died and it wasn't well integrated with the rest of the chumby app ecosystem).

This service looks great, good work! But since you seem to host the APIs created how do you plan to get around the centralized access issues? Like on the chumby we had to do a lot of web scraping on the device itself (even though doing string processing operations needed for scraping required a lot of hoop jumping optimization to run well in ActionScript 2 on a slow ARMv5 chip with 64mb total RAM) to avoid all the requests coming from the same set of chumby-server IP addresses, because companies tend to notice lots of requests coming from the same server block really quick and will often rate limit the hell out of you, which could result in a situation where one heavy-usage scraper destroys access for every other client trying to scrape from that same source.

GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious how you plan to avoid/circumvent the inevitable hard IP ban that the largest (and most sought after targets) will place on you and your services once you begin to take off?

I could have really used a service like this just yesterday actually, I ended up fiddling around with iMacros and got about 80% of what I was trying to achieve.

hcarvalhoalves 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is excellent. Even it if doesn't work for scraping all sites, it simplifies the average use case so much that it's not even funny.

Feature proposal: deal with pagination.

sync 4 days ago 0 replies      
Undo button is awesome.

More web apps need an undo button.

thinkzig 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great work so far. The tool was very intuitive and easy to use.

My suggestion: once I've defined an API, let me apply it to multiple targets that I supply to you programatically.

The use case driving my suggestion: I'm an affiliate for a given eCommerce site. As an affiliate, I get a data feed of items available for sale on the site, but the feed only contains a limited amount of information. I'd like to make the data on my affiliate page richer with extra data that I scrape from a given product page that I get from the feed.

In this case, the page layout for all the various products for sale is exactly the same, but there are thousands of products.

So I'd like to be able to define my Kimono API once - lets call it CompanyX.com Product Page API - then use the feed from my affiliate partner to generate a list of target URLs that I feed to Kimono.

Bonus points: the list of products changes all the time. New products are added, some go away, etc. I'd need to be able to add/remove target URLs from my Kimono API individually as well as adding them in bulk.

Thanks for listening. Great work, again. I can't wait to see where you go with this.


fsckin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Constructive Tone: I figured that it might be nifty to scrape cedar pollen count information from a calendar and then shoot myself an email when it was higher than 100 gr/m3.

This would be a pretty difficult thing to grab when scraping normally, but the app errors before loading the content:


JS error: An error occurred while accessing the server, please try againError Reference: 6864046a

rlpb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are you familiar with ScraperWiki? I'm wondering how your work fits in with it.

Edit: looks like they've moved away from that space, but have an old version available at: https://classic.scraperwiki.com/

aqme28 4 days ago 2 replies      
I would seriously consider rethinking that Favicon.
tectonic 4 days ago 1 reply      
bambax 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Web scraping. It's something we all love to hate. You wish the data you needed to power your app, model or visualization was available via API. But, most of the time it's not. So, you decide to build a web scraper. You write a ton of code, employ a laundry list of libraries and techniques, all for something that's by definition unstable, has to be hosted somewhere, and needs to be maintained over time.

I disagree. Web scraping is mostly fun. You don't need "a ton of code" and "a laundry list of libraries", just something like Beautiful Soup and maybe XSLT.

The end of the statement is truer: it's not really a problem that your web scraper will have to be hosted somewhere, since the thing you're using it for also has to be hosted somewhere, but yes, it needs to be maintained and it will break if the source changes.

But I don't see how this solution could ever be able to automatically evolve with the source, without the original developer doing anything?

jval 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great job guys.

One problem I've had though is that I think you guys are hosted on AWS - a lot of websites block incoming connections from AWS.

Are there plans to add an option in future to route through clean IPs? Premium or default, this would be cool and make it a lot more useful.

ForHackernews 4 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really slick. What happens if a website you're scraping changes its design? Do you respect robots.txt?
trey_swann 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great tool! In a past life we needed a web scraper to pull single game ticket prices from NBA, MLB, and NHL team pages (e.g. http://www.nba.com/warriors/tickets/single). We needed the data. But, when you factor in dynamic pricing and frequent page changes you are left with a real headache. I wish Kimono was around when we were working on that project.

I love how you can actually use their "web scraper for anyone" on the blog post. Very cool!

jjcm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool, and I like that the link is your announcement page running inside of the demo. Really drives home the idea.

That said, it looks like it can't do media right now. I would love it if it could at least give me a url for images/other media.

guptaneil 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice work, this is much better than I expected! Does it require Chrome? It doesn't seem to work in Safari for me. Also, does Kimono work for scraping multiple pages or anything that requires authentication?
fnordfnordfnord 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Sorry, can't kimonify

>According that web site's data protection policy, we were unable to kimonify that particular page.

Sigh... Oh well... Back to scraping.

pknight 4 days ago 1 reply      
That UI made me go wow, this could be an awesome tool. Idea that pops into my mind is being able to grab data from those basic local sites run by councils, local news papers etc and putting it into a useful app.

How dedicated are you guys to making this work because I'd imagine there are quite a few technical hurdles in keeping a service like this working long term while not getting blocked by various sites?

IbJacked 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, this is looking good, I wish I had it available to me 6 months ago! Nice job :D

I don't know if it's just me or not, but it's not working for me in Firefox (OSX Mavericks 10.9.1 and Firefox v26). The X's and checkmarks aren't showing up next to the highlighted selections. Works fine in Safari.

alternize 4 days ago 1 reply      
looks promising!

to be fully usable for me, there are some features missing:

- it lacks manual editing/correcting possibilities: i've tried to create an api for http://akas.imdb.com/calendar/?region=us with "date", "movie", "year". unfortunately, it failed to group the date (title) with the movies (list entries) but rather created two separate, unrelated collections (one for the dates, one for the movies).

- it lacks the ability to edit an api, the recommended way is to delete and recreate.

small bugreport: there was a problem saving the api, or at least i was told saving failed - it nevertheless seems to be stored stored in my account

tlrobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
I built something very similar last year, but sadly never got around to polishing and launching it: http://exfiltrate.org/

(There's a prototype of an API generator hidden in a menu somewhere but it's nowhere near production ready)

dmunoz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm normally a bit worried when a thread quickly fills up with praise, but this looks very nice.

It's something I have thought about, as I'm sure many people who have done any amount of scraping have, but never went forward and tried to implement. The landing page with video up top and in-line demo is a pretty slick presentation of the solution you came up with. Good job.

ThomPete 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for building a tool I been wanting so I don't have to!

Can't wait to play around with this tonight.

Suggestion. Allow one to select images.

blazespin 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a huge business here if you keep at it. I'll throw money at the screen if you can make this work.
phillmv 4 days ago 2 replies      
The UX is great and a journalists everywhere will thank you.

But outside of government websites I don't see how a lot of this is even legal, per se?

jlees 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like how you've thought through the end to end use case: not just generating an API, but actually making it usable. I've done my fair share of web scraping and it's not an easy task to make accessible and reliable -- good luck!

It makes me wonder if there isn't a whole "API to web/mobile app with custom metadata" product in there somewhere. I can imagine a lot of folks starting to get into data analysis and pipelines having an easier time of it if they could just create a visual frontend in a few clicks.

rpedela 3 days ago 1 reply      
Definitely awesome presentation and product.

The example doesn't seem to work right on Firefox. On Chrome, if I click "Character" in the table then it highlights the whole column and asks if I want to add the data in the column. On Firefox, clicking "Character" just highlights "Chatacter" and that is it.

Ubuntu 12.04

Firefox 25.0.1

thatthatis 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is my third time trying to get an answer to this question: does your crawler automatically respect robots.txt?
ameister14 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really like how you guided me in to demoing. Nice job.
jfoster 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cool concept. One concern I'd have about this type of tool is that when it encounters something it can't handle, I'm stuck. Writing your own scraper means that you can modify it when you need to. I think the ultimate solution would be something like Kimono with the ability to write snippets of custom javascript to pull out anything that it can't handle by default.
jmcgough 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really sleek interface, and looks like it could be extremely useful (I just spent a few hours cranking out Nokogiri this morning).

Oh, typo: "Notice that toolbar at the toop of the screen?"

eth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great tool!

I'm coming at things from a non-coder perspective and found it easy to use, and easy to export the data I collected into a usable format.

For my own enjoyment, I like to track and analyze Kickstarter project statistics. Options up until now have been either labor intensive (manually entering data into spreadsheets) or tech heavy (JSON queries, KickScraper, etc. pull too much data and my lack of coding expertise prevents me from paring it down/making it useful quickly and automagically) as Kickstarter lacks a public API. Sure, it is possible to access their internal API or I could use KickScraper, but did I mention the thing about how I dont, as many of you say, "code"?

What I do understand is auto-updating.CSV files, and that's what I can get from Kimono. Looking forward to continued testing/messing about with Kimono!

rafeed 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Really nice implementation and so useful for many different applications. Just signed up and looking forward to trying this out.
lips 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm experiencing login errors (PEBKAC caveat: password manager, 2x checked, reset), but the support confirmation page is a nice surprise.


rmason 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought to myself oh boy yet another web scraper as a service but got surprised. I haven't been this impressed with a product video since Dropbox.
kenrikm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks awesome, however I keep getting errors and 404s. Could this be an issue on my end (seems to be working for others) or just HN making the servers beg for mercy?
garyjob 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found the one click action for selecting an entire column of values as well as the UI/UX on the top column of the page to be very impressive. We were thinking of a nice clean way to represent that particular UI/UX flow in this browser extension we built as well. Will incorporate that in our next release.


Would love to meetup and exchange some ideas if you are based in Bay area.

chevreuil 3 days ago 0 replies      
We all know there are a lot of existing tools that does the same things. But I've not met one with such a polished UX. Kudos to the Kimono team, I'll definitly recommend your product.
cbaleanu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does it do logging in to websites then fetching?Do you plan to add scripting to it?
pranade 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks guys, glad you like it. Welcome any feedback so we can make it better!
twog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well done on the product & solving a clear need! This is extremely useful for hackathons/prototyping. I also loved the live demo in the blog post and you did a wonderful job with the design/layout/colorscheme of the site.
critium 3 days ago 1 reply      
Please get this off the ground. I would also possibly suggest a separate business, website regression testing.

Selenium is WAAAY to painful.

ph4 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice job. What about scraping data from password-protected pages?
shekyboy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Like the parameter passthrough feature. Take a look at places where the parameters are part of the URL structure. For example a Target product pagehttp://www.target.com/p/men-s-c9-by-champion-impact-athletic...

In order to get data for a different product, I will have to modify the URL itself. I think same holds true for blog posts.

catshirt 4 days ago 1 reply      
really excited to see this. i've had the idea (and nearly this execution) in mind for years but no use or ambition to get it done.

given the pricing though i'm almost motivated to make my own. as a hosted service the fees make sense with the offerings. but not only would i rather host my own- it would be cheaper all around. would you consider adding a free or cheap self hosted option?

aside, i think there is a mislabel on the pricing page. i'm guessing the free plan should not have 3 times the "apis" than the lite plan.

toddwahnish 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. Congrats on launching it! Once it has pagination & auth I'll be all over this :)
xux 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow looks amazing. I tried doing some queries on public directories, and it even supports parameter passing. Will be using this for some side projects.
mhluongo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance you guys plan to add link hrefs to CSVs? I'd love to use this now, but I need the href for backlinks and future inference.
PhilipA 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks cool, but very expansive compared to Visual Web Ripper, which you pay way less for (but has to host yourself).
bigd 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems it can't see the stuff inside angular views.. well at least mines..

But for the rest, awesome product. Thanks.

lucasnemeth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice job! I really liked, it's a fantastic idea! And your UX is great! Just one thing I've found when testing: I've had some problems with non-ascii characters, when I was visiting brazilian websites, such as this : www.folha.com.br.
BinaryBird 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice tool, slick UI. It worked for some pages and not for others. Currently I'm using Feedity: http://feedity.com for all business-centric data extraction and it has been working great (although not as flexible as kimono).
iurisilvio 4 days ago 1 reply      
What about some navigation tools there?

Looks pretty good, but it does not really replace my scrappers. Maybe some of them...

paul1664 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Dapper


This allowed you to do similar, before being consumed by Yahoo. Might be worth a look.

shamsulbuddy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does such Webscraping is allowed legally. Since it is not done directly from our servers and if any legal action will be taken by the scraped website , will it be on kimonolabs..or the user..
dikei 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this can beat the speed of a hand-tune crawler. When I write crawlers, I skip rendering page and javascript execution if it isn't needed, which massively speed up the crawling process.
dmritard96 4 days ago 0 replies      
as someone building a home grown proprietary scraping engine. Consider alternative locations of elements. Most sites are using templating engines so its fairly reliable to find things in the same place, but more often than you might expect, things move a round ever so slightly. Navigation is a fun one also. ;)
ewebbuddy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really cool idea and tool. Still need to test this out properly. Is it possible to scrape note just one page but a stack of them? For example - a product catalog of 1000 SKUs extending upto 50pages.
joshmlewis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there an ability to scrape more than one page of data?
kyriakos 3 days ago 1 reply      
It appears that it doesn't work with websites containing international characters.
wprl 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's easy not to write web scrapers even without this tool ;)
cycnusx 3 days ago 0 replies      
keyurfaldu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Hats off.. How about extracting hashtag/GID of any record if applicable, which are typically not rendered on page, but hidden under the hood.
tchadwick 4 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really useful, and I'm trying to figure out if I could use it on a project I'm working on, but hitting an issue. I sent a support message. Nice job!
cullenmacdonald 4 days ago 1 reply      
the reason i ever have to write a scraper is because of pagination. while this looks awesome, i'll have to stick to scraping until that is solved. :(
bluejellybean 4 days ago 1 reply      
How (if at all) does this run on javascript heavy sites?
diegolo 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice to have a view also on the raw html code, e.g., to create a field containing the url of an image in the page.
yummybear 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks very nice. There seems to be an issue with international characters though (//).
NicoJuicy 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is really slick! Btw. Who made your intro video?
narzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the concept. Would love to see page authentication
dome82 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like the concept and it looks similar at Import.io
aaronsnoswell 4 days ago 1 reply      
Man that demo is impressive!
szidev 4 days ago 0 replies      
great idea. i'll have to keep this in mind for future projects.
mswen 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does this compare with Mozenda?
taternuts 4 days ago 0 replies      
That looks quite swift
abvdasker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I kind-of enjoy writing web scrapers.
timov 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can use the utility without registration or login by blocking the login prompt with, for example, AdBlock.
byteface 3 days ago 0 replies      
use any chrome xpath plugin and give that to YQL
harryovers 4 days ago 0 replies      
so what do you do that import.io doesn't?
rismay 3 days ago 0 replies      
iamkoby 4 days ago 0 replies      
i love this! and amazing video!
pyed 4 days ago 0 replies      
actually I love scraping :(
tonystark 4 days ago 0 replies      
nnnn 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Never write a web scraper again"... yea right.. sick and tired of such gimmicks and self promotion on the net today.
Introducing our smart contact lens project (for diabetics) googleblog.blogspot.com
606 points by dboyd  3 days ago   175 comments top 40
morganherlocker 3 days ago 10 replies      
Type I diabetic here. Assuming current tech stays where it is (not saying it will), this could easily tack 10 years on to my lifespan. For many who watch their diabetes less closely (something I cannot fault anyone for), this could add 20-30 years.

For anyone who does not know, type I diabetes is not something you can just follow a doctor's direction on and be ok. Even if you follow your doctor perfectly, there can still be serious complications, and type I diabetics with the best control are actually more likely to die from severe low blood sugars.

The reason for this is that the optimum blood glucose level is around 100. <70 and you start to be severely mentally impaired, making it difficult at times to seek treatment (finding and eating sugar, in a nutshell). On the flip side, if you are lax on insulin, your blood sugar might hover around 250 for months, and you will feel close to normal. Having a blood glucose this high on a long term basis will have long term effects that are what kill most diabetics in the long run. A low blood sugar, however, can be fatal within minutes to hours.

Either way, a continuous feedback mechanism would help tight control diabetics, and diabetics who do the minimum. Tight controllers could get faster feedback about when they are going into the serious danger zone without having to initiate any action (checking blood sugar), and lax diabetics would get a constant reminder of how they are letting there life slip away (which they normally would rarely see, since they hardly ever check their blood sugar anyway).

I have to say though, I am still a bit skeptical for a few reasons:

- One, I have been told about this sort of miracle technology ever since I was diagnosed 15 years ago.

- Two, the medical complex locks down their tech and extracts the maximum value out. There is not a single glucose device on the market that lets you extract the data out of your glucose monitor and crunch the data how you want. I have worked on hacking these devices to extract data and the legal verbiage around these activities has strongly discouraged me from releasing anything. Previous continuous glucose monitoring systems. These companies would prefer you rot in the dark, than to lose one bit of profit.

- Three, if one of these devices is not 100% perfect, it gets shot down and banned from the market. This is probably a combination of profit-motivated industry and caution-motivated government. A great example of this is a continuous glucose monitoring, non-invasive watch that came out ~ a decade ago. It was on the market for several years, before being banned. I, like just about every person in the thread I linked, would pay $10k+ for one of these, despite the reduced accuracy over traditional devices. Entrepreneurs in the health industry take note.

[1] [http://www.diabetesdaily.com/forum/testing-blood-sugar/61908...]

awolf 3 days ago 3 replies      
As a type 1 diabetic I can say this would be a huge improvement over current continuous glucose monitoring systems. No expensive disposable parts. No needing to inject a new sensor each week. No strange, uncomfortable, and (often) painful bulge stuck to your abdomen.

>Were in discussions with the FDA, but theres still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use

I'm chomping at the bit. Anyone familiar with process know how soon this could possibly be available?

dshankar 3 days ago 2 replies      
Microsoft was working on similar technology 3 years ago [1]

It looks like Google poached MSFT's engineers to work on this -- Babak Parviz was working on this at Microsoft 3 years ago, and is now cofounder of the smart contact lens team at Google.

[1]: Functional Contact Lens Monitors Blood Sugar Without Needles (http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/dl.aspx?id=150832)

psbp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Solve for X talk about this technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6g581tJ7bM

This particular implementation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6g581tJ7bM#t=10m15s

fesja 3 days ago 3 replies      
All my praise to these Google engineers and scientists. Another completely crazy idea that will really help millions of people every day. Thanks Google!

We have discovered a lot of Google X technologies in the last months. It seems that Google X is really working. We may have to stop having fun of Google+.

kamens 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would immediately and significantly improve my life.

Crossing my fingers very hard. Want this to be reality.

cargo8 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google never ceases to amaze me for taking the initiative to really pursue and commercialize these things.

If people are interested, here is a relevant research paper in IEEE about the massive potential contact lenses have to mate technology and bioinformatics:http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/augmented-realit...

mortov 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm amazed at how many people on HN are diabetic !

Could be an interesting study on cause/effect - is all this sitting at screens contributing to an epidemic or are there other factors ? Perhaps respondents are just self-selecting because of the subject matter ?

It's also interesting how anyone who needs to track their blood sugars likes the idea of an easier and more convenient method - typical finger prick readings up to 4 times a day can leave your fingers in a real mess and pretty painful so even sticking something to your eyeballs sounds attractive !

TeMPOraL 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I still love Google. Between this, self-driving cars and other world-changing projects, I say take my data if you need it. You're one of the few companies in this world that seems to bring a big, direct net benefit to humanity.
inetsee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am encouraged by the fact that Google is working in this area. If any company can overcome the obstacles to this technology becoming available soon and at a reasonable price, it would probably be Google.

I am discouraged by the fact that the underlying technology (measuring glucose from tears) was first reported more than two years ago. There is another (sort of) non-invasive glucose measuring technology that involves injecting a biofluorescent dye under the skin, then using a device that measures the fluorescence that varies with the blood glucoe levels. This technology was also first reported years ago, and is also apparently nowhere near being available.

oh_sigh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where's all the FUD about collecting user data and doing evil things with it that we've been seeing in the Google+Nest stories lately?

"But what about when google sells your data to insurance companies, who then penalize diabetics for not maintaining specific glucose levels?'

"Do you really want google to know every single thing you put into your body?"

"Can we trust google to not put advertisements in the contact lens, making you watch a 15 second commercial before being able to read your gluose levels?"

caseydurfee 3 days ago 2 replies      
Continuous glucose monitors have been around for a while. I'm not sure who this would help.

The fundamental problem is that glucose levels in non-blood fluids do not exactly match blood glucose. The current monitor solutions use interstitial fluid in the skin. They still require the user to test themselves several times a day and recalibrate the monitor based on blood glucose, and they can't alert the user if their blood sugar is low until it's already a serious situation. They also frequently give false positives.

This is a new (but very clever!) way to do something that has been around for a while, not a revolution, unless tears track blood glucose much closer than interstitial fluid does. Simply based on first principles, that seems unlikely.

And there are basic hygiene problems wearing contacts while you're asleep, which is when monitoring would be most useful. If google has the technology to make contact lenses that you can wear 24*7 without getting ulcerative keratitis, that's more revolutionary than another way to monitor blood sugar.

jerryhuang100 3 days ago 3 replies      
One major concern I would have is that, in diabetic patients their eyes experience more dryness than non-diabetic patients. This might lead to more scratches on the cornea and prone to further infections and ulcers. As diabetics care 101, diabetics patients have mucher high risk of systematic infections. And this is all way before any diabetic retinopathy develops in those patients. So why Google[x] thinks it's a good idea to have diabetics patients wear contact lens?
lazerwalker 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't at all want to downplay the honest importance of this project this is the true sort of real "tangibly improving people's lives" technology that not enough people are aspiring to these days but the timing of this announcement is very strategic on Google's part. Days after people get VERY upset at Google for buying Nest, and moaning about Google's evil surveillance state, Google turns around and announces something that's a legitimate force for good in the world. Very clever.
cpeterso 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few years ago, there was research into nano ink tattoos that can continuously monitor glucose, but I haven't heard any recent news.


_paranoia 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a prototype of what Google Glass will evolve into. The medical device will offer a first generation of solutions to several major problems for augmented reality contact lenses: fitting "an antenna for wireless data communications, a chip to process data, and tiny battery onto a tiny, thin, curved surface..."[1]

Then, a later version will need to solve the problem of projecting crisp images from the contact lens onto the user's retina. Google's experience with Glass seems like it could inform that effort. Perhaps we'll see this product on the market with significant usage within 10 years.

Augmented reality contact lenses have other implications. For example: what does it mean for privacy and advertising to not being able to shut one's eyes?

1. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517476/google-glass-tod...

notatoad 3 days ago 4 replies      
How is this powered? are they generating electricity from the body somehow?
j_s 2 days ago 0 replies      
Diabetics will find Scott Hanselman's posts and the comments there useful. Three or four of them are linked from here:


fjcaetano 2 days ago 1 reply      
At first, I thought this could be quite intrusive. I mean, you're putting something in your eye! It's the same discussion as the biometry authentication systems (retina scanning, saliva, etc).

But then I realized: the alternative is to put a piece of hardware under your skin! It will be embeded in you "forever" and can only be removed via surgical procedures...

These contact lens, if ever available, will in fact revolutionize the diabetes scene and may open precedent to new "wearable" technologies targeting health.

f-debong 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is one of many such implementations which we will see in the next few months. Not long ago, the FDA posted their guidelines on mobile health, which will most likely be part of the system, finally establishing a hint of what they will require to give an approval to a mobile system in the medical field. I have some experience in this, and can tell you it is very exciting. No blatant ad here, sorry!

Since the risks for ventures in this field have dropped significantly, devices such as this lens now have a much higher probability to actually see the light of day and not just be hidden in the archives, on thrown away napkins and spreadsheets.

Yes, Microsoft worked on it a few years back yet seem to have dropped the ball or shifted their focus, I have also heard of such a project at Sanofi and research institutes around the world yet a google X project may potentially be what this concept needs to make progress and actually have an impact. My sincere gratefulness to you guys at X for going at it!

Forgot to mention, like many others in this thread I am a type 1 diabetic since 30 years, so my gratitude goes a tad further than only thinking it's cool.

sytelus 2 days ago 1 reply      
As always, my question for all miniature cool looking devices is just this: How do you power this thing?
prawn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else have a problem where if they read an interesting story like this about potential future technology, they are virtually incapacitated and unproductive for the rest of the day thinking about the potential?

Obviously, a Google Glass or Oculus Rift equivalent but with contact lenses has to be one thing everyone's long thought of. But what about activating a contextual display by closing one eye briefly (a map or information about a person you're meeting), or seeing a definition of a word spoken in conversation by closing the other eye, or watching a movie with both eyes closed, reading a book the same way, getting song recognition data at any point, etc.

Could we see high-res displays worked into lenses so that they worked, were eventually cheap enough and able to operate in a "pass through" mode so they didn't other interrupt regular vision?

Are any companies working on it? Is it possible? What would be the key challenges?

jisaacks 2 days ago 0 replies      
> integrating tiny LED lights that could light up

So wait a minute, your eyes will start flashing when your glucose levels are spiking?

azernik 2 days ago 0 replies      
To take this to a purely business/tech place - this is an interesting market for prototyping contact-lense electronics; maybe in 10 or 20 years the new Glass will just be a contact, but for now this looks like one of the few applications where a sensor and two LEDs (high and low) can provide a lot of user value.
ginzaerin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Type 1 also, and I fully admit that part of what prevents me from using pump therapy is the CGM technology and how invasive and frustrating it is. The lens project gives me hope, but as others in the thread have mentioned - I've gotten my hopes up on several occasions about potential technologies and agree that it seems like a lot of it comes down to profit. Full disclosure, I'm the COO of a tech company and I love data - so a constant frustration is lack of consistent data that can be manipulated in usable ways. (Also mentioned by others in the thread.)
benjvi 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome, and sounds like a great thing for people with diabetes (if the accuracy issues are solved).

Further down the line, technologies like this could be a great thing for the rest of us too. We all experience peaks and troughs in our blood glucose and in those troughs we often feel tired, without really knowing why. It would be great to be able to have continuous feedback like "your blood glucose spiked and now is low after you drank that bottle of lemonade an hour ago". Something like this would really help people to make better decisions and would be a great boon for general public health.

blueskin_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Coming Soon: Targeted advertising based on blood sugar levels.

With a google lens, they could even project adverts directly onto people's eyes.

ctrl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Type I also, Looks like its time to get over that huge fear of contact lenses.

I dont care if i have to clockwork orange my eyelids, this sounds awesome

lowglow 3 days ago 4 replies      
Am I the only one that thinks Google[x] is just the arm of google that looks for far future intellectual property to patent and never really produces usable tech?

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

nfoz 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a legitimately fantastic project. Can't wait for some details about how it works.
luuio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing new under the Sun: January 5, 2012 - http://www.gizmag.com/microsoft-electronic-diabetic-contact-...
chany2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sooner or later a competitor technology will come out to lines of Google Glass for contacts; ultimately the 3rd episode of Black Mirror, where you can record 24-hours of your life via your eye contacts.
BrainInAJar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Jeez, Google really has no limits on how much data about you they want
RA_Fisher 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those that are interested, I'm a data scientist and I spent a bit of time visualizing my Type 1 partner's data: http://statwonk.github.io/blog/2014/01/05/visualizing-diabet...
efremjw 2 days ago 0 replies      
ohhhh, because it's just so comfortable to have contacts in the first place. what's wrong with embedding somewhere else?
sarojt 2 days ago 0 replies      
All diabetics really would appreciate this innovation - my grandmother was delighted to hear it.
dia473 2 days ago 0 replies      
We have developed a non-invasive system for measuring blood glucose (patent protected, many publications in peer reviewed magazines, working prototype).

If someone has contacts in the VC scene or is working in the VC scene and is interested please let me know.

(throw away account)

ericthegoodking 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful news! I hope this thing works!
kimonos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! This is great news for my father!
guidefreitas 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great. Now your are going to sign up with Google+ to blink.
Building an open source Nest spark.io
600 points by simonbarker87  2 days ago   249 comments top 47
imroot 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've just built something very similar to this last weekend -- For around $43/sensor (Raspberry Pi Model B, DigiSpark, and 1-Wire Temperature Sensor) I made 20 of these for my home, farm, and hackerspace for temperature logging. I did this because we're getting another 'polar vortex' next week and the cows don't like it if it's colder than 20 degrees out.

This allows me to measure the temperature inside, outside, and get the relative humidity (not nearly as accurate as the $20 honeywell sensor that they're using, but, it's close enough for my needs). I then built a simple website using mrtg (for temperature trending) and a ruby script that checks the temperatures versus what the set points are and mounted the raspberry pi's in various locations around my places.

My "Controller" nodes are a beagleboard with a 4 or 8 channel relay board attached that allow me to turn on or off the individual controls on the furnace. It works well with my two stage heat pump and fan at my home, but, I need some work to get it 100% at the hackerspace and at the farm.

I mainly did this because I needed something that allowed me to cover more rooms than the Nest (and I'm adding duct dampers and fans to my heating system, so I can selectively heat and cool more rooms to better temperatures).

parfe 2 days ago 5 replies      
This makes me happy. I have a house with electric heat and eight thermostats pushing Nest costs into unreasonable territory. I'd love to be able to remotely set all my thermostats to 55 degrees or get certain zones to react based on events fired from my phone, (e.g. coming, leaving, charging with screen off aka sleeping, pending alarm)

Unfortunately, with my electric heat the thermostats sit inline with the heater's power source so I need devices that can safely handle 120v.

noonespecial 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I found about hardware is that the prototype is only 10% of the effort. Sourcing components for mass production, government regulatory hurdles, and then that damn enclosure are 90% when everything goes right.

I can build all kinds of things with my arduino and all of those awesome little one-off function boards you can snag on ebay from china theses days. I can't build 10000 of any of them.

grinich 2 days ago 2 replies      
Funny-- the first Nest thermostat prototypes were also built with acrylic and wood. (I used to work there.)

I always hoped they would switch back to wood, but it's incredibly hard to do right in mass manufacturing.

mrfusion 2 days ago 13 replies      
I like the use of short 2-5 second videos instead of pictures. They did it tastefully and made it useful.

I never thought I'd see a good use case for auto playing videos.(It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter too)

zedpm 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm trying to understand if you can self-host the server-side piece of this. I've wanted to have a networked thermostat for a while, but all the ones I found connect to the vendor's server, which is silly. I'd like to be able to point the device at my own server so I have full control.

EDIT: Yep, the Common Questions section of their website[1] says that they'll be releasing an open source version of their Cloud. Awesome.

[1] https://www.spark.io/

pessimizer 2 days ago 4 replies      
>we built our own approximation of the Nest Learning Thermostat in one day and weve open sourced everything. In this process, weve come to respect the incredible technical challenges that Nest has solved while also coming to understand how much the game has changed since they first started.

I missed the technical challenges - this seems trivial, and exactly how easy that I would imagine it to be. The only challenge that I see is figuring that people would want a thermostat controlled by a phone app.

Since that's been figured out, I'm going to be very surprised if within 2 years 10 vendors don't have $50 versions sold at Wal-Mart, and there aren't 2-3 different open source software stacks competing to support a few of them.

mwsherman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is great but there are lessons here from desktop Linux, Facebook clones, etc, which is that retail is hard.

In order to ship a widely used operating system, you need a support infrastructure, consumer research, drivers for lots of hardware, warranties, marketing, payroll, operations, accountants, regulatory compliance. The product is almost the easiest part.

I imagine that Nest understands all this. Putting a piece of hardware in someones house one thats connected to a furnace or which claims to protect against fire means a lot of liabilities, broadly defined.

Id love to see an open source version get to that level of maturity and support. It does happen but it takes a lot of people.

(Tangent, but when I started at Stack, a lot of people said they could (and did) build a clone in a weekend. Sure, as an approximation of the technical product. But that aint the retail product, which is actually comprised of community, goodwill, SEO, quality control, and a lot of other things.)

davexunit 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a project called GNU remotecontrol that I just discovered that could be used for this purpose. It's important that you can be in control of your thermostat data instead of handing it over to Google/Nest/some other malicious vendor.
zellyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was under the impression that one of the major challenges faced by Nest was running off only the power available by safely drawing from the existing wires.

Without that constraint, it's a much easier problem.

malandrew 2 days ago 1 reply      

   "At Spark, were making it easier to bring connected    devices to market with the Spark Core, our Wi-Fi    development kit, and the Spark Cloud, our cloud service for    connected devices."
I found SparkCore on github[0] and the C++ communication lib for Core to communicate with SparkCloud [1], but I did not find SparkCloud itself on Github. Is that component going to open-source as well?

It would be nice if you had the option to host your own cloud service. You could protect your business model at least partially by using an open source license that requires people to change the name if they decide to fork it and productize it, such as the Artistic License v2.

[0] https://github.com/spark/core

[1] https://github.com/spark/core-communication-lib

g8oz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice, but I'd rather not be tied to a 3rd party service like Spark Cloud. Indeed thats my problem with Nest. It would be great if it would just connect to my private VPS or something.
batoure 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think that this is a really cool project. But I think that the problem here is still fundamentally the same as the one faced by the nest.

The thesis of spark.io is "you can trust us with your data" not you have control of your data.

The spark is built on a cloud connected platform. even if you can see and control outputs from your board you still exist as part of their ecosystem. Which is basically the functional equivalent of using the dropbox api to build something instead of google drive.

I won't be excited about home automation until someone goes the way of an open protocol for these types of devices that doesn't require a centralized pass through.

Because if history has been any kind of teacher, it shows us that spark.io will probably get sucked up by google or somebody in the near future.

goofygrin 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Probably a dumb question but it seems as if the thermostat is dumb. Ie all it is is an interface to the hardware.

If your Internet/wifi is spotty (very common)... Does your thermostat not work? Are you stuck being hot or cold?

skue 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any specifics on how the underlying Spark platform handles security? On their product page it says that Spark Cloud "creates a secure environment without forcing your web browser and the Core to speak the same language, which would be taxing on a low-power, low-cost microcontroller." Which isn't reassuring.

They don't provide any specifics in the docs either, only this:

"Security is hard. Its especially hard on an embedded system, because encryption is resource intensive. But its also important, because you dont want anyone turning on and off your lights, or worse, locking and unlocking your front doors.We hand-picked a set of rock-solid security protocols that are secure and efficient, so they work great on an embedded system. Theyre baked into the Spark Protocol, which is open source and ready to be extended to other products."

I get that encryption may be difficult on embedded systems, but I would also argue that if a small embedded system can't handle strong encryption then it's not ready to connect devices to the web. I can't find any links to source code - anyone know what sort of encryption they use?

strick 2 days ago 2 replies      
If your next iteration includes a physical switch to put the fan in 'always on' mode, it will already be superior to the Nest.
nilkn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Any ideas for stuff to build with this besides a thermostat? I'm talking about for a fun side project to learn the ropes, not necessarily the next $3.2B IoT company.
arianvanp 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the time I hacked an old hard drive to use it as a rotary encoder. Started with the idea in the morning, finished the idea the next morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1U83BMi7vw

I've now extended the idea into a fully working DIY DJ Controller. My first big electronics project... I've been planning to open-source the build documents for quite a while now. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFhLQzisx90

emmelaich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also have a look at ninjablocks.com; their hardware is open source.

The software is partly open sourced.


jaredcwhite 2 days ago 1 reply      
I gotta say -- the use of video in this blog post is outstanding. Best use case of HTML5 Video I've yet come across, frankly. Sorry, I'm supposed to comment on the actual comment...haha. Just saying I love the format. :)
coreymgilmore 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have built a similar system, and expanding it to more devices (think: devices other than thermostats). However, I use my own custom messaging/web server for communicating with the device from anywhere in the world. Think controlling your (ex: toaster) in NYC from LA without configuring any networks, vpn, ports,...aka Nest-like. Combined with some machine learning and machine "thinking", its pretty powerful.

The Spark Thermostat is great minus the fact that you need their web api for communicating with it. But for a 1-day build, how can anyone disappointed! Great job Spark team.

In regards to my own devices, I am definitely going to have to take a look at Spark now. Cool hardware.

dzhiurgis 2 days ago 0 replies      
God damn it. I've just received STM32F4 Discovery board yesterday, tried to run Espruino on it to no avail. And now this thing popped up!

Is it possible to run your software on other dev boards?

Does it have enough processing power for HTTPS POST? I see someone complain here: https://community.sparkdevices.com/t/how-to-send-http-post-r...

lowglow 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in building IoT, wearables, and externals, I'm getting an expo + hackathon together called Hackendo (http://hackendo.techendo.co) for April. I would really love the community's support in helping make this awesome, so anyone with experience in this area or feedback on how I should run the event, please reach out.

Also if you're in the bay area, you should check out this meetup group run by my friend Nick Pinkston: http://www.meetup.com/HardwareStartupSF/

spyder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cannot view the page in Firefox because it's freezing the browser and the memory usage jumps from 155 MB to 880 MB (even with clean profile without add-ons) :(

Edit: It's doing the same in Chrome too

Aardwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Make it run on mains or USB power, with the battery only being used if the power is disrupted.

After all, one wouldn't want to have to charge their smoke detector every day like a smartphone, right? (Not once a month either).

boise 2 days ago 0 replies      
you can buy the components for ~$36: http://octopart.com/bom-lookup/x7lnOrCu

(not including the Spark Core at $39)

Eduardo3rd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Documenting a company hardware hackathon this way is super interesting. I think we'll have to give something like this a shot next time we do some rapid prototyping over here. Way to go Spark!
blcArmadillo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool. For some time I've been interested in building a Nest clone. I like the concept of Nest however it doesn't work for me because my wife's work schedule can't be predicted with machine learning and therefore I think Nest would actually end up being less efficient for us. She keeps her work schedule in a calendar though so my plan was to have the thermostat use her work calendar to optimize our heating/cooling plan. This project looks like it could be a good starting point.
potench 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does the thermostat control temperature? Am I crazy, I feel like I'm missing a section on how this device connects to the central air, Ac, heater, fan or something that can affect temperature. Under hardware: "relays to control the furnace and the fan." But I don't see details on the relay.
mark_l_watson 1 day ago 0 replies      
+1 that is so cool. I sometimes wish I was also a hardware person, especially when I see projects like this.
excellence24 2 days ago 0 replies      
this is great but with these devices and 'the internet of things', the most important part is not the devices but the data. And with this, instead of Google getting all the data, Spark is getting the data, and the data is where the money is. And once they get more data and learn to use it, they will become a more valuable company and eventually might get acquired.

I think for something to truly be open-source and beneficial for everyone, everything about it must be open, including the data. The data from all the connected devices globally could be stored on an open database that anyone can access and use. Its one thing to 'learn' with the limited data that one device might generate, but for a machine to 'learn to learn' it should be able to study ALL the data that might be useful.

This kind of organization could lead to a type of opensource corporation where anyone can be an 'employee'. Employment and compensation could be based off a public list of contributions to the project. To each according to his contribution.

This idea could be applied to anything that's used in public and generates data. Autonomous cars, home automation, drones, (NSA data, slightly more complicated but still could be open sourced). But as long as we're tricking ourselves into thinking we need 'money' to survive, the organization or company with the most of it wins.

sixothree 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see any information about how they interfaced with the hvac system. Did they use a relay board or optoisolators?
josephpmay 2 days ago 0 replies      
The site is broken on mobile (Safari). An autoplay video pops up and keeps reopening when closed.
650REDHAIR 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful. Love your 'Nest'!

Looking back to 5-10 years ago you would have had a really hard time building this in a week let alone 1 day.

auvi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who knows Google will also acquire Spark some day. They have bought a bunch of robotics companies, Nest and so on. A cloud connected controller, why not?
aabalkan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow those HTML5 videos totally caused my browser to freeze on a very good hardware.
patcheudor 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Building a thermostat for a gas furnace is never worth it because someone could die:


serf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those videos were way distracting.

Also the firmware definition bugs me.

neat product/concept tho.

codex 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why would you want an open source Nest? Is there a market demand for something which is uglier, harder to use, takes more time to install, and works worse? Do you also build your own toasters or automobiles?
blueskin_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now Nest is part of Big Google, this is amazing. Time to add this to my projects list.
levlandau 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty interesting. Definitely heading over to github to look in more detail.
analog31 2 days ago 0 replies      
What are the failure modes?
mistakoala 2 days ago 0 replies      
That webpage killed my laptop. Presumably the video that did it? So thoughtful of them to play it automatically.
3VWguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
You allow way new people on here? Want to built the spark thermostat. Where are schematics?
ankitg12 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice work guys..
baldajan 2 days ago 0 replies      
very ugly, but very cool (I do like the wood finish though)
meerita 2 days ago 1 reply      
3D printing comes to my mind.
Requirements for DRM in HTML are confidential w3.org
569 points by duncan_bayne  6 days ago   401 comments top 29
simonsarris 5 days ago 23 replies      
I suppose that the title assertion is to be expected. DRM only works if you don't know how it works.


I'm not sure I see anything wrong with DRM per se (this could be my fever talking), there are probably good uses I'm too dim to think about, but I do think it's unnecessary as part of the HTML specification.

There's no industry or company that has switched to DRM-free content, that I know of, that has failed or suffered because of it:

* Music is largely available DRM-free now, thanks to Amazon's MP3 store (at the least, I'm sure there are others)

* For games, Steam makes it easy to avoid SecuROM Hell

* Despite DRM, all of Netflix's original series House of Cards was available on The Pirate Bay within hours of release. This doesn't seem to hurt Netflix's wish to create more content, or police it more heavy-handedly. (Maybe they would if they could)

For that matter, I think in the modern case every single time a business went DRM free it turned out OK. Isn't that right? In all modern cases, maybe after 2006-ish, DRM-free businesses were accompanied with an easy way to get the content online, and sales did not seem to suffer because at the end of the day piracy can appear (or be) shady and people (rightfully) don't trust shady websites, even The Pirate Bay with all of its popups.

I wish we had better numbers. I would like to see a real analysis on all the reasons people don't pirate and instead buy on Steam. I wish there was a good way to convince media businesses at large.

But I guess this is all water under the bridge, and I'm preaching to the choir.

Nursie 5 days ago 5 replies      
Great. DRM. The best example of shooting yourself in the foot ever.

Give customers encrypted content and the keys, try to prevent them from freely using the two together, undermine copyright fair use and first sale doctrines as you go along.

Intended effect - No Piracy

Actual effect - Paying customers get crippled products, pirates carry on regardless

It's crazy. And the more they try to lock it down the worse their products become and the better piracy looks in comparison. Pirates don't only beat the legit industry on price, they beat them on quality and availability. How can the industry allow this to stand? Let alone continue down the same path with their fingers in their ears shouting LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!?!

andybak 5 days ago 2 replies      
A key paragraph:

link: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-restrictedmedia/2...

Well, as I say, the actual requirements that lead to the proposal of EMEwould be a start. This is how it looks to those who don't agree thatEME is a good fit with the Open Web:

- 'big content' has certain requirements relating to preventing users copying data streams

- they won't make those requirements public (as you've said, the agreements are confidential)

- their licensees propose a technical solution that is unacceptable to many others because it necessitates the use of non-user-modifiable client components

- all proposed alternatives (e.g. FOSS DRM, server-side watermarking, client-side watermarking, no DRM at all) are shot down as being either too expensive or inadequate to the (secret) requirements

In a normal software project, I'd take an apparently insoluble conflict(the requirement for non-user-modifiable client components) to mean thatwe have done a poor job of determining requirements.

Hence my request for either a real user to talk to (e.g. an MPAA rep) orthe actual requirements docs, which you've told me are confidential.

And that sets off my spidey-senses ... something is not quite righthere.

Daiz 5 days ago 2 replies      
This should really be at the top of every HTML DRM discussion:

HTML DRM will not give you plugin-free or standardized playback. It will simply replace Flash/Silverlight with multiple custom and proprietary DRM black boxes that will likely have even worse cross-platform compatibility than the existing solutions. In other words, giving in to HTML DRM will only make the situation worse.

Some vendors will keep pushing for it, but at the very least we should not officially sanction what they are doing.

rlx0x 5 days ago 4 replies      
This is all so ridiculous, rtmp for instance is as secure a DRM as its ever gonna get and that never stopped me from downloading a stream. Even things like HDMI/HDCP is broken beyond repair. And all of this should justify damaging the w3c reputation forever, what are they thinking?!

This whole concept of DRM is just idiotic, its enough if one guy breaks the DRM and releases it. Why should I even bother booting a propertary OS (windows) and buying a stream everytime I want to watch something if I can just download a release and watch it, and its not like they can do anything against that either.

Why should I bother and buy HDCP capable new hardware, bother with proprietary NSA-compliant US software I much rather buy the DVD, trash it and just download it in a open and free format (I don't even bother with ripping (and breaking CSS) anymore).

josteink 5 days ago 2 replies      
Email the W3C. Tell them what you think of this bullshit (in reasonably polite manners).

I've done it. I've gotten a non-canned response.

But clearly they need more people at the gates bitching. This needs to be stopped.

belluchan 5 days ago 5 replies      
Can't we just fork the w3? Start using Firefox and forget about these people. Oh I'm sorry your browser is a little slower, but at least it's not Google made.
ronaldx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why is W3C involved in this?

Not only does this create a lack of openness and transparency in the core of the web, but "big content" creators get to pass on the costs of DRM that nobody else benefits from, including to people who are not consuming their content.

Meanwhile, browser vendors will become uncompetitive - since nobody else can compete against a closed standard - and they become even more motivated to work against openness to maintain their existing oligarchy.

Could not be worse for the web.

duncan_bayne 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's worth mentioning that the CEO of the W3C, Jeff Jaffe, is trying to rectify that:


girvo 6 days ago 11 replies      
Sigh. Look, I'm okay with DRM, as long as it works on all my devices. EME won't, under linux, I guarantee the DRM Vendors won't bother releasing Linux binaries. That annoys me.
alexnking 5 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe instead of getting everyone to adopt Silverlight, we could just make the web more like Silverlight. Like more closed and stuff, because movies!
shmerl 5 days ago 1 reply      
> So, the DRM vendors have solved the problem of creating solutions that meetstudio requirements and what we are trying to do with EME is provide aclean API to integrate these solutions with the HTML Media Element.

Which reads as: studios have nonsensical requirements, which are implemented and soon broken. And "we" (i.e. W3C) need to oblige this insanity for the sake of <...>.

Put your own reason, but I bet it won't be good.

dschleef 5 days ago 0 replies      
Compliance rules for Microsoft Playready: http://www.microsoft.com/playready/licensing/compliance/

The encryption part of DRM systems is effectively the same as client-side SSL certificates with a secret SSL certificate. How well it's kept secret is defined in the compliance documents. This secret, plus a secure decoding and output path, are the engineering core of DRM systems.

Studios require "industry standard DRM" for movies and TV shows, with lesser requirements for SD. This effectively means "DRM backed by some entity with lots of money that we can sue if things go wrong". Studios approve each individual device that you serve to, usually with compliance targets at some particular future date for various existing loopholes.

Flash (Adobe Access) is somewhat different, and has an obfuscated method for generating the equivalent of a client cert, thus on laptops it's only rated for SD by most (all?) studios. Apparently studios don't care too much about people copying SD content.

Studios would theoretically approve watermarking DRM systems, but there are two major barriers: having a large (ahem, suable) company offering it, and some way to serve individualized media through a CDN. Neither seem likely. So nobody loses too much sleep about whether studios would actually approve watermarking.

hbbio 5 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the W3C may have been the inspiration for Games of Thrones...

Seriously, if there are men and women of honor in this organization, they should stand up against any form of standardization for DRM. DRM can be a proprietary extension for the people who want it.

Zigurd 5 days ago 3 replies      
Why should DRM be part of a standard? Aren't plug-ins sufficient?
alkonaut 5 days ago 2 replies      
The only benefit I can see from standardizing something is that browser makers who want to claim to be compliant actually have to support it, so you won't end up in the flash/silverlight situation where some platforms don't support it.

But if a plugin framework is standardized, why settle for only DRM? Why not fix the whole crapfest that is plugin applications entirely? A standardized interface to a fast sandboxed virtual machine with good hardware support would be excellent. Currently there is javascript, ActiveX, flash, java applets, Silverlight, NaCl, WebGL and a number of others, each having their own benefits and drawbacks.

If I want to write a web based multi-threadced GPU accelerated webcam-using application that works on any compliant browser on any platform, what do I do? Isn't that what the next kind of web standards should be addressing?

duncan_bayne 5 days ago 0 replies      
From the mailing list: "[with EME] ... the publisher will have the possibility of deciding which platforms may access their content."

That was from one of the proponents of EME, touting this as a good thing. The response from another list regular was excellent:

"In non-web-terms this is the publishers deciding on what brands of TV you're allowed to play their content."

That's where EME will take the Open Web. We need to oppose it, strongly, urgently.

drivingmenuts 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since many are using Steam as an example of DRM - the important difference is that Steam is a free product, but is not open-source (though it can be used to distribute open-source). It is produced by a company as a means of distributing their products.

It is not even a valid comparison to the blinkard pig ignorance of the secret DRM requirements in HTML, which is an open standard.

I'd just like to know what dipshit at the W3 signed off on this.

kevin_bauer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I guess, the "another backdoor" proposal will go very well in Europe, where most citizens are just static about americas view on privacy and respect for constitutional rights. Way to go, maybe the W3C will finally get Europe and the rest of the "free" world to create their own web!
pyalot2 5 days ago 0 replies      
HTML-DRM, proudly building "solutions" to problems nobody has, by following requirements nobody knows about, to create a landscape of content nobody can play.

Way to go W3C, keep up the "good" work.

pjakma 4 days ago 0 replies      
I download movies and TV shows using Bittorrent and index sites like TBP because of DRM. Often these DRM systems are not available for Linux, or if they are, they require installing some big blob of binary code. It is easier and more secure for me to use bittorrent.

I would happily use the legal services, if not for this DRM. Those services sometimes are even free (e.g. BBC iPlayer). I would happily pay for a subscription service (I pay subscriptions to a number of different of online sites, mostly journalism or data-organistion - I've no problem with that).

The industry standardising proprietary DRM in W3 will just ensure that I continue to support the distributed, end-user provided services which are DRM-free.

mcot2 5 days ago 2 replies      
If our end result is to see Netflix using HTML5 video on Desktop browsers, how do we get there from a technology and business point of view? Keep in mind that Netflix has content created and owned by the major studios. If any form of DRM is not the way, than what? How do we get to this end goal? Do we make streams 'free' to copy and rely more on the legal system for protection? We are all keen to slam DRM, but what is a viable alternative?
xyjztr 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hey Guys, can somebody create a simple guide, FAQ or something similar for non-tech people to understand what is going on with HTML and DRM? It will help to spread the word.
aquanext 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can't we just boycott this entirely?
PavlovsCat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here are some thoughts by Cory Doctorow on web DRM. Spoiler: he's not a fan.


jlebrech 5 days ago 1 reply      
why can't they just build it in NaCl and leave the open standard alone.
dreamdu5t 5 days ago 2 replies      
What's the problem? Don't support companies that distribute any DRM content. Standardizing DRM and propogating DRM aren't the same thing.
Fasebook 4 days ago 0 replies      
The internet was nice while it lasted.
silveira 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yale censored a student's course catalog site. I made an unblockable replacement haufler.org
559 points by shaufler  12 hours ago   151 comments top 27
ggchappell 11 hours ago 8 replies      
An interesting and apparently well executed effort. But, to be honest, your arguments reek of ignorance.

> This is an unfortunate outcome, since Yales copyright assertion muddles the argument that Yales actions violate Peter and Harrys freedom of speech.

No it doesn't. Whatever Yale's responsibilities in the freedom-of-speech realm may be, they are entirely ethical in nature, as freedom of speech in the legal sense refers only to what governments may not suppress. Holding the copyright to something does not in any way affect ones responsibility to behave ethically.

> If Yale grants students access to data, the university does not have the right to specify exactly how students must view the data.

Under U.S. law they may very well have the right; I wouldn't know. What you may have demonstrated is that they do not have the ability.

May I suggest that you do not couch your arguments in terms of fallacious claims about freedom of speech. Rather, talk about academic freedom, a principle -- though not a legal one -- that Yale ostensibly seeks to uphold.

babs474 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Very cool, I love this approach as it is very similar to how my (now defunct) unedditreddit app worked and how a clever app called socialfixer for facebook works. Two thoughts.

1. You are not unblockable. My app was removed from the chrome app store after reddit complained, no review process, no appeals, good luck even communicating with google. Installing an app not from the appstore is almost impossible for a non-savvy user. I suggest looking at a firefox app, their app story is much more democratic.

2. I think this fight is important because a lot of companies/organizations seem to be trying to establish the precedent that they own their website experience end to end, from database to the pixels on your screen. That idea taken to the extreme will lead to computers become opaque devices ala a TV, rather than the hackable playground they are now.


johnohara 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Recent discussions seem to indicate that 14-21 y/o are reducing their participation in social media, becoming more discerning over how they use brain bandwidth, and generally simplifying their lives overall.

I know this is a bit OT, and I apologize, but his website (and others from his age group) reflects this thinking. Straight, simple, and to the point. On to the next thing.

It rejects a great many things about how we experience the web today and seems to confirm a trend that his group wants clutter-free access to correct information using tools and technology they are familiar with.

They don't want to be told by Yale that this is how "your" course catalog works, or by WP that this is how "your" blog works, or by FB that this is how "your" profile works, etc.

They are saying, "we'll show you how we want it to work."

You'd think the administration at Yale would recognize a "sit-in" when they saw one.

lionhearted 11 hours ago 13 replies      
When I first left America, I disliked and felt disillusioned with the country.

I've now spent more of my adult life outside the States than in the U.S., and I've also come to the opinion that the U.S. is one of the most amazing places in the world.

Sometimes it's hard to point to exactly why America is so amazing. And the answer, maybe, is on display here.

An undergraduate student at an elite university just innovatively, publicly, aggressively pushed back against the Dean.

He cited his values and reasoning for doing so. He took care to make sure his work wouldn't damage their physical resources or break the letter of the law. And then he openly acknowledges they could punish him, and welcomes the attempt.

And it's not really even a big deal. It's just standard being-an-American stuff.

All kinds of bad things in the States. And sometimes the spirit of defiance can get tired or come across overbearing. But it's really cool that it's a regular, run of the mill occurrence for people to push back against norms and restrictions in American society without any fear of long-term repercussions.

It's also really, really, really weird. Seriously, stop and reflect on this for a moment. I spend a lot of time in Asia, and doing this in just about any Asian country would ruin a lot of your life prospects.

And for us, it's just a matter of course. How strange. And wonderful.

ToastyMallows 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. The extension:

> (3) not scraping or collecting Yales data

Yet in the code[0], there's a function called getRatingsForCourse() that makes an ajax call to url: "https://ybb.yale.edu/courses/" + id. How is this not scraping? Am I missing something here?

[0]: https://github.com/seanhaufler/banned-bluebook/blob/master/e...

naaaaak 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The Deans response is such a typical academia response. It showcases the hypocrisy of these institutions and the fiefdom of a bureaucrat.

Too many academic institutions claim they are all about learning and growing and leadership, until you do something they disapprove of in the slightest way, usually because it rocks their boat in the slightest way. Weve seen how Stalin-esque they act when they dont get their way, time and time again with varying degrees of force. From the UC Davis pepper spray incident to the MIT Aaron Swartz incident. This might not be on the same level (yet), but its the principle. A series of reasonable actions being met with disproportionate bullshit responses.

Teach them a lesson about learning, growing, and leadership. Dont surrender and dont give in. Do absolutely everything within the bounds of the law to fuck up their desired outcome on the principle of their actions. Thats what they are trying to do to you and the YBB+ devs. So take away all of their power and continue. Circumvent all of their censorship. You or some scholarship are paying far too much to this institution to have it behave like this.

Quite frankly, Im surprised someone at Yale noticed and decided to make this an incident. Most universities are usually too distracted by the disproportionate effort they invest in their football or basketball teams over academic programs, or are too busy ensuring book publisher monopolies and price gouging, but those are problems for another day.

w1ntermute 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Pretty smart move on this guy's part, as it's a win-win situation for him. If they kick him out, the positive attention he gets for fighting the man will just enable him to start working 4 or 5 months early.
gklitt 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Really clever response to clearly decouple the copyright issue from the freedom of speech issue. I'm curious to see how the university will react to this.
ilaksh 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Make it a userscript instead of a Chrome extension and then Google can't block it from their store because it will be distributed openly.



at-fates-hands 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I was most surprised by the professor who defended the school's ban on the new website. I always pegged Yale as a pretty Liberal college, so I was surprised at the professor's decision to support the school.
mhb 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yales copyright assertion muddles the argument that Yales actions violate Peter and Harrys freedom of speech

This misguided appeal to freedom of speech does not strengthen his argument.

blablabla123 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Evaluations hurt the professors' feelings and pride, so they are not published. Politics is probably the only area in which evaluations (a.k.a. votes, surveys, news articles/comments) are published.
ricardobeat 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I partially agree with the university's reasoning on this; displaying course ratings like it's a food menu is disencouraging thought, not something you expect from an academic environment, and it can't have a good outcome regarding course selection. They just should have found a better way to combat that instead of brute force.
ufmace 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"If Yale censors this piece of software or punishes the software developer, it would clearly characterize Yale as an institution where having authority over students trumps freedom of speech."

I'm inclined to say that events in the last decade or so have made it more clear that pretty much all educational institutions everywhere have always been about making sure their authority over students trumps freedom of speech. Or rather, freedom of speech is only allowed on things that the administration approves of.

room271 8 hours ago 1 reply      
How did this make it onto Hacker News? Squabbles like this happen at every university (or at least the ones I have been to). Universities are often quite conservative places with a tendency to restrict student activity beyond what is sensible and students often fight back.

This is a run of the mill occurrence.

adharmad 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder whether organizations today are really so dumb that they need some education before making public knee-jerk reactions. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the case, (and most of the readers don't understand or care) Yale would avoided all the bad publicity if they had just let the whole thing slide.
jahewson 8 hours ago 1 reply      
> Yale also told Harry and Peter that the CourseTable website infringed upon the schools copyrighted course data. It appears to be true; CourseTable hosted Yales course descriptions and student evaluations, or, if not the exact evaluations, they at least hosted derivations of them.

It doesn't appear to be true at all! I'd argue very strongly that these are not creative works, and have zero commercial value, I don't believe they are eligale for copyright protection in the first place. This kind of muddled thinking that anything anyone writes down is magically covered by copyright needs to be resisted.

kriro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Copyright on course description. Nice, that's nice. How do supposedly smart people not get the very simple idea that open is good in academics (and in general but let's not get carried away).
atmosx 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I admire the courage and stance of Sean Haufler on this.

But out of curiosity, looking at his profile, why would someone who had an internship at Google and worked at FourSquare would need a CS(!!) and Economics(???) degree from Yale?

I might understand the Economics part, what about the CS part???

mhp 7 hours ago 2 replies      
"If Yale grants students access to data, the university does not have the right to specify exactly how students must view the data."

I disagree strongly with this statement. If the data is owned by Yale, they do in fact have the right to specify exactly how students must view the data.

Although it's frustrating to see copyright holders doing illogical or inefficient things with their copyrighted data, it is their right to determine the method and mechanism by which their data is consumed. Just because it is _possible_ to transform their data into a mashup, doesn't mean it's legal, ethical, or permissible. It doesn't matter if this transformation happens entirely within a viewer's computer, or if it happens on another server - if the copyright holder doesn't want their data to be transformed that way, it is their right.

etanazir 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you matriculate 1 semester at Harvard/Yale whatever - you've got the trademark - so why keep paying to waste your time?
the_french 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome, we've been building similar solutions to our course websites at McGill. However, the administration does not seem to care yet (that might be due to the low adoption) about the different unofficial APIs and sites. The idea of adding course ratings / workload descriptions is really good we might have to implement a similar system on our end.
gregwtmtno 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be great if they added the price of course material in there. Maybe with real time pricing from Amazon or something like that.
annasaru 3 hours ago 0 replies      
School owns the data. But students are the data consumers, and hence have a right to control how it's presented and consumed. And students are also customers. What is the school afraid of.
ericcumbee 10 hours ago 1 reply      
>The story does not end here, however, since theres a way to distinguish the freedom of speech issue from the copyright claims.

Except Yale is a private school. The 1st amendment only protects people's speech from government sanction.

mixmastamyk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
He should have had his pal over at Harvard upload it. Why give the administration power over you? Relying on the goodness of executives is big gamble, imho.
higherpurpose 11 hours ago 1 reply      
As long as Google doesn't ban the extension from the Chrome Store and doesn't completely block installing 3rd party extensions to Chrome in schools or something.

I actually don't find that unlikely these days. They've already started to make it hard to install it from other sources. I could see them "sweetening the deal" for ChromeOS/Chrome in schools to not be able to install external extensions at all.

Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA schneier.com
512 points by edwintorok  3 days ago   140 comments top 16
bargl 3 days ago 7 replies      
On his blog Schneier comments that this meeting was kept small on purpose. I wanted to see who was present at this meeting so I looked up some of their information. Not hard to find, but here you go. I plan on emailing each of them and thanking them for consulting someone the tech industry considers a Security SME.

Rep. Logfren (Democratic)http://lofgren.house.gov/biography/ Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoe_Lofgren

Rep. Sensenbrenner (Republican)http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/biography/ Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Sensenbrenner

Rep. Scott (Democratic)http://www.bobbyscott.house.gov/biography/ Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Scott_%28U.S._politician%...

Rep. Goodlate (Republican)http://goodlatte.house.gov/pages/about-bob Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Goodlatte

Rep Thompson (Democratic)http://mikethompson.house.gov/biography/ Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Thompson_(California_polit...

Rep. Amash (Republican)http://amash.house.gov/about-me/full-biography Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Amash

Edit: Cleaned up one of the links and got rid of a repetitive sentence.

tokenadult 3 days ago 4 replies      
Schneier links to a Wikipedia article about Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) and explains that he wanted to speak to the members of Congress in such a facility, but could not do so because he is denied access to such facilities as someone without the appropriate security clearances. And that puzzled me, and prompted me to read the Wikipedia article after reading Schneier's blog post submitted here, because I had been told years ago, when I definitely did not have the appropriate level of clearance for a SCIF (as I have never had and probably never will have) that I did have access to a special hearing room for one of the congressional intelligence oversight committees. I was inside the room at the time, with foreign visitors. (I was there as the interpreter for the foreign visitors.) I saw the hearing room back in the 1980s, as I recall, as part of a people-to-people program funded by the United States government that brought over people from other countries to look at how society works in the United States. The look inside the secure room was part of learning about how intelligence agencies in the United States are overseen by Congress. It was represented to us that when the room in the Capitol was closed up, it was impervious to any then-known form of surveillance. So now what Schneier says has me puzzled about whether or not there is any level of secure room between what he calls a "regular room" and a room that a United States citizen can only enter with a very high level of security clearance. It seems to me that there ought to be some kind of in-between room like that, precisely for meetings like the one Schneier just had. That would be better for effective congressional oversight, I think.
Zelphyr 3 days ago 3 replies      
"...Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me."

THIS PEOPLE! THIS is why the Snowden revelations are such a big deal! We have a rogue branch government with arguably little to no oversight!

rdl 3 days ago 3 replies      
It makes sense that you need TS/SSBI and the correct SAP read-in to be inside a given SCIF belonging to a SAP; otherwise one might leave a recording device or otherwise damage the integrity of the SCIF. Plus, the SCIF would need to be cleared of all sensitive materials before you entered.

Clearing a SCIF, letting someone inside, then recertifying it would probably be the correct choice; It could be done, of course, but it's not cheap. (You can also potentially keep the person under observation the whole time, but given the purported Chuck Norris powers of Bruce Schneier, that seems insufficient.)

shmerl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This could be almost hilarious if it wasn't so sad. The Congress has to be briefed by someone with access to leaked documents to get an idea what a government agency is doing, because the later "is not forthcoming".....
AnimalMuppet 3 days ago 5 replies      
Imagine that the NSA was only doing legitimate, useful, necessary, highly secret things (humor me here).

Can they brief Congress on what they're doing? All 535 publicity-seeking chatterboxes? No way. That's the same as issuing a press release.

So not telling Congress everything is (in principle) necessary. But who are these representatives Schneier briefed? Are they on the Intelligence Committee? If so, and they still can't get straight answers out of the NSA, that's a big deal. (And maybe the rest of Congress is saying that they don't think that the Intelligence Committee has done an adequate job of oversight.)

vaadu 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is no oversight except on paper.

You can't have oversight unless you have expertise in the area you oversee.

You can't have oversight unless the overseers can impose immediate consequences upon the overseen.

Without these you are nothing but a spectator.

ChrisAntaki 3 days ago 2 replies      
Currently, the Intelligence Committees have special access to top secret information. Every member of Congress should have this.
chippy 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's a "SCIF"?

Edits: my guess: (Secure Communications Internal Facility)

peterkelly 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Chief, shouldn't we use the Cone of Silence?"
higherpurpose 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Intelligence committees and the FISA Court need to be overhauled, to start with. Clearly there's not enough/proper oversight of the agency.

I don't know how they do it now, but the Intelligence committees should also brief the rest of Congress at least twice a year, and I think they should be allowed by explicit laws to declassify anything they want in that briefing. No approval from the White House or anyone else needed. They are, after all, the ones that are supposedly in charge with oversight of the intelligence community.

So next time someone like Ron Wyden knows the agency is lying to the public, he should be able to tell the rest of the Congress in the briefing, all by himself (he shouldn't need approval from the rest of the committee), and it should be defined in laws that he's allowed to do that, just so there's no confusion, and no fear of repercussion.

Helianthus 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's good to know that we do have some legislators on (essentially) our side, even if their hands are, presently, tied.
blahbl4hblahtoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was just listening to Slate's political gabfest podcast...they talked about the NSA. It occurred to me that the media is still only talking about phone call metadata while the rest of us have been in the weeds of the rest of their activities, which are far more intrusive than metadata...

How do you get that message to people?

aantix 3 days ago 1 reply      
>Of course I'm not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting.

Why wouldn't he?

clubhi 3 days ago 0 replies      
The obvious answer to me seems to have multiple disjoint intelligence committees.
US Supreme Court declines to hear appeal by patent troll inc.com
445 points by dded  5 days ago   85 comments top 10
grellas 5 days ago 7 replies      
A few thoughts:

1. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Soverain from an adverse ruling by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that had determined the Soverain "shopping cart" patent to be invalid on grounds of obviousness.

2. The Federal Circuit's holding by a 3-judge panel had been remarkable and had shocked patent lawyers generally in that the parties before the court had not even raised the issue on appeal as a ground for invalidating the jury's verdict below. The court raised the issue on its own, concluded that the patent was obvious and invalid, and gave judgment for Newegg in spite of the fact that the jury at the trial court level had found that Newegg infringed.

3. This particular patent had been the original shopping cart patent, dating back to 1994 (well before Amazon began) and it had had a formidable history by which its holder had gotten massive licensing fees from major players over many years for the privilege of using online shopping carts on the web.

4. It is easy to say today that everyone knows what the concept of a shopping cart is and that anyone could have come up with the idea of applying that concept to online shopping. That is all well and good but consider this: not only had this patent passed muster as being non-obvious with the USPTO on its original filing but it had also been found to have been non-obvious on two separate patent re-examinations before that same body and by a string of U.S. district court judges before whom the issue had arisen. In other words, Newegg faced a huge challenge on this issue (the legal standard required that it be able to prove that it was obvious by "clear and convincing" evidence, which is often a tough standard to meet) and this is why Amazon and virtually all other major other online retailers had long since caved and agreed to pay royalties for use of the patent. In the patent community, the Soverain patent was seen as rock solid and one whose shopping cart idea was deemed far from obvious. The top judges and lawyers in the nation, not to mention the USPTO, had all so concluded. The chances of upending it seemed slim to none. And, as noted, even the parties themselves had not raised the issue on the key appeal as a ground for potential reversal. Thus, everyone was stunned when the Federal Circuit reversed the judgment against Newegg on that ground, invalidated the patent, and threw the case out.

5. All that said, when Soverain petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Federal Circuit's decision, it was trying to undo what it perceived as an injustice done to it as a private litigant ("this is so unfair to us and to our valuable patent"). However, from the Supreme Court's point of view, the kind of petition filed by Soverain is to be granted, and a case heard, only when it has significance far beyond whatever impact it might have on any private litigant. The Court's role in hearing such discretionary appeals is to step in and decide important questions of federal law or to determine who is right when the various lower federal appellate courts may have reached conflicting decisions on such points of law in way that cries out of definitive resolution by the highest court. The Court will not hear cases merely because they might have been wrongly decided unless some such extraordinary factor exists. Thus, in denying Soverain's petition, the Court did nothing more than say that this particular petition did not present important issues of the kind that warranted its attention. It did not validate the Federal Circuit's reasoning or analysis. It did not weigh in against patent trolls. It did not add its authority to the fight against frivolous patents. It simply did what it does on over 99% of such discretionary petitions: it used its discretion to deny it. The legal significance of its decision goes no farther than that.

6. Is Soverain a patent troll that deserved this outcome? Well, its CEO had been a law partner at a major law firm (Latham & Watkins) and the company's business was clearly driven by a legal licensing scheme that had little or nothing to do with active business operations or innovation. It had simply acquired the original company that had come up with the patent back in the day. So, it is a troll if you want to call it that or it is not if you want to use some different definition. But this distinction does underscore how difficult it becomes to analyze patent issues simply by placing labels on the parties. The problem with modern software patents is that too many are too easily granted over trivial "innovations" and this has given vast incentives to those who would package them into shakedown licensing ventures and thereby gum things up for true innovators. It is a situation that calls for action by Congress to rein this in. Otherwise, every party trying to defend itself will find itself, as Newegg did, having to go to extraordinary efforts at massive expense to avoid claims of infringement. Very few litigants can do that and, indeed, Newegg is to be commended for fighting this all the way against tough odds. Let us only hope that systemic fixes can help correct the problem so that this is not the only way available for dealing with such patents. Whatever else this system does, it hardly promotes true innovation.

kalleboo 5 days ago 2 replies      
I had to use a secret browsing window to read this without signing up, so here it is for anyone else who has trouble loading the page:


Chalk one up for the enemies of patent trolls: The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a request for trial from alleged patent troll Soverain Software.

The case, called Soverain Software LLC. v. Newegg Inc., is one of three such cases the Supreme Court is expected to consider this year. While the Court will likely hear the remaining cases, which deal with finer points of patent law, its dismissal of Soverain speaks to the potential frivolousness of its claims.

Soverain acquired the rights to numerous pieces of code tied to the online shopping cart, developed in the 1990s. In recent years, Soverain has gone on a litigious tear, suing more than two dozen companies including Amazon, Nordstrom, Macy's and Newegg, an online retailer, which all use shopping carts for internet sales.

Soverain had some success suing on the state level, where a Texas jury awarded the Chicago-based company $2.5 million in damages against Newegg. However, Soverain lost on appeal last year in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which ruled the shopping cart patents owned by Soverain were too general.

Patent trolls typically acquire rights to fallow or soon-to-expire patents with no intention of using the patent. Often patent trolls set up shell companies whose only assets are the patents, which means they have no real revenues or assets. Their sole purpose is to harass small businesses, which usually settle rather than pay for extended and costly litigation.

Patent law was originally written to protect the patent holder, making it easier for the patent holder to prevail in court. For the patent infringer to win, rather, the defendant must prove exceptional circumstances--namely that the patentee acted in bad faith and made baseless claims. This is hard to do. While the patent holder can be awarded "treble damages," or three times the damage claimed, the most the infringer can ever collect is attorney fees.

The remaining cases before the Supreme Court will deal with these finer points.

Congress is examining legislation that would fight patent trolls and their frivolous lawsuits by making them liable for court costs, should they lose their cases.

Small businesses mounted 3,400 legal defenses in 2011 for patent cases, a 32 percent increase over the prior year, according to a research paper from 2012 by Boston University law professors James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. That cost to small companies was about $11 billion in 2011, also a 32 percent increase over the prior year.

The total median awards to trolls is now nearly twice as high as those to legitimate patent holders, whose median reward fell about 30 percent to $4 billion, according to a 2013 report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

motbob 5 days ago 2 replies      
"While the Court will likely hear the remaining cases, which deal with finer points of patent law, its dismissal of Soverain speaks to the potential frivolousness of its claims."

I don't think this is accurate. The standard that the Supreme Court uses to decide whether to take cases is not "is this frivolous." Soverain v. Newegg would have to meet a pretty high standard in order to be granted appeal.

I think the author of this piece is reading into this denial way too much. The norm is for appeals to be denied. To be more precise, less than 5% of appeals were granted over a recent one year period. http://dailywrit.com/2013/01/likelihood-of-a-petition-being-...

vanderZwan 5 days ago 5 replies      
Good news, but the last sentence of the article made me curious:

> The total median awards to trolls is now nearly twice as high as those to legitimate patent holders, whose median reward fell about 30 percent to $4 billion, according to a 2013 report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

I was wondering how they estimated this, so I checked out the report:

> We collect information about patent holder success rates, time-to-trial statistics, and practicing versus nonpracticing entity (NPE) statistics from 1995 through 2012.

> Damages awards for NPEs averaged more than double those for practicing entities over the last decade.

Note: PWC does not use the word "patent troll" - that is entirely the interpretation of the article.

So, just to play the devil's advocate: are NPEs by definition patent trolls? I can't think of a counterargument, but maybe someone else can?

EDIT: Thanks for the enlightening examples so far!

dded 5 days ago 4 replies      
I'm encouraged that patent trolls are getting knocked. But my fear is that patent law will hit such a state that only large corporations can wield them. If I'm a small patent holder, and I'm liable for court costs if I lose a suit, then it becomes far too risky to defend my patent against a corporation that violates it.
ck2 5 days ago 2 replies      
What did it cost Newegg to litigate that?

Does the troll have to pay legal fees?

Hope Newegg can remain price competitive.

csbrooks 5 days ago 0 replies      
I worked on shopping cart software for the web in 1996, and the company I worked at, Evergreen Internet, had been around a while before that. I wonder if anything we did constitutes prior art.
shmerl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope TQP troll will be busted as well. When will the Supreme Court process that case?
incogmind 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think the best way out of these things is make software patents invalid after a short period- like 10 years.
revelation 5 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this is why HN mods edit titles on submissions (although the original title is just as terrible). The Supreme Court did not side with anyone; they denied a petition to the court, which is the case for the vast majority of petitions.

If they did accept this particular petition, this would not mean that the Supreme Court sides with the patent troll and the world is doomed; it simply means that the case deals with a contested issue where clarification by the Supreme Court is widely sought.

Yale students made a better version of its course catalog. Yale shut it down washingtonpost.com
412 points by zt  3 days ago   119 comments top 39
tikhonj 2 days ago 3 replies      
Some Berkeley students developed a similar service called Ninja Courses[1]. This lets you browse through classes, order textbooks and also shows ratings. (Although all the ratings are submitted by Ninja Courses users, I believe.)

It can even automatically build a schedule for you by choosing lectures and sections that don't overlap, optimizing based on user preferences. For example: do you want more morning classes, more afternoon classes, more gaps, less gaps, some days off... This automates away a rather tedious part of choosing your schedule--something I haven't seen in other similar tools (although I haven't looked too closely).

Instead of shutting it down, the university used it to build an official Schedule Builder[2]. The official version doesn't have rankings, but exposes other interesting information--in particular, grade distributions.

Since then, Ninja Courses has expanded to a bunch of other UC campuses as well.

Just thought I'd share a nice success story to counterbalance most of the others :).

[1]: http://ninjacourses.com/

[2]: https://schedulebuilder.berkeley.edu/

mgkimsal 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not at all surprised. "Big campus" is another entrenched "big industry", and disruption is hard. I'm in touch with students every so often that have essentially the same ideas - "let's make it easier for students to do XYZ", where XYZ always involves campus data and/or integrating with campus system. It's damned near impossible, and the reasons are many. Some are valid, some are invalid (obviously, these are my own personal views, nothing more), but the main takeaway is as with most problems, the core issue is not technology, it's politics.

Students who have these "we could change the world!" ideas rarely understand that they're not the first person to think of idea X, and that the issue is who you know who can pull the right strings.

orf 3 days ago 5 replies      
My University released a web based timetable system that was absolutely shocking - it was an ASP.net based site with the kind of unfriendly interface you expect from a 1990's era intranet site (hint: utterly utterly horrible, it produced one timetable PER MODULE rather than a single combined timetable and every time you selected a module it would refresh the page). I was hungover the day before term started and rather than use that system I hacked together an easier to use alternative from my bed using python + flask in literally 60 minutes and released it[1].

The administration went crazy when hundreds of students started using it and asked me to take it down. While its not as impressive as something made at Yale it seems to be a common theme, I wonder if other universities suffer the same issues. Could be a market opportunity.

[1] http://timetables.tomforb.es/

obblekk 3 days ago 6 replies      
Academia, and the Ivy League in particular, prides itself on being rigorously open, on providing broad access to all knowledge to advance intellectualism. In this regard, academic institutions often attack governments and corporations that intend to limit its free speech, but on the rare chance that this spirit of openness works against the institution, they take a hard liner approach to censoring it.

The basic reason why Yale doesn't want this information easily accessible is because it would force them to acknowledge that many of the staff are brilliant researchers and absolutely lousy teachers.

This notion that thinking freely about tough problems, and having the ability to pass your knowledge down the generations go together isn't true in the hyper-competitive academic environment today. If a professor doesn't publish, he/she can lose tenure, but if a professor doesn't teach well, he/she can have more time to publish.

I think the best universities to learn are those where the professors truly want to teach. Where their research isn't an end in itself, but a way to inspire questions for another generation. Yale seems to be asserting that it's not in this category.

x0054 3 days ago 1 reply      
How about open sourcing the tool. Release the tool as a self hosted solution, and let any one who wants to host it, host it. Or just use for their own purposes. I am not sure if that could get them in trouble, as I am not sure what crazy provisions Yale has in their student honor code. To be safe I would obfuscate my connection to the open source tool, if I were a student.
acangiano 3 days ago 5 replies      
My money is on a professor being pissed off about poor reviews received.
thetwiceler 2 days ago 2 replies      
Let's not blow this out of proportion. They scraped private data (that required a Yale login) without permission and accidentally made it available to a wider audience than intended.

Yale has historically been very supportive of these things. A couple of years ago, they acquired another very slick course catalog website, Yale Bluebook, for a good chunk of money [1].

[1] http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2012/08/01/university-acquires...

bonemachine 2 days ago 2 replies      
Officials also expressed concerns that the site was making course evaluation information available to individuals not authorized to view the information.

Sounds like they have perfectly valid concerns, actually.

When it comes to protecting restricted (and potentially rather damaging information) -- which also happens to be the University's property, anyway -- it's generally prudent to suppress the source, and ask questions later. Taken out of context, even a single vindictive or poorly composed review can be fatal to an instructor's career. Failing to take action to suppress their unauthorized distribution can also invite nasty lawsuits.

So this doesn't seem to be about "the man" stepping in and quashing student creativity and initiative (as much as some may prefer that narrative). If anything it seems that Yale did the right thing, in this case.

sheetjs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Were there any updates since the last discussion http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7060261


kriro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Back in the day when I was a student, some other student built a php based support forum with uploads for stuff you wrote during lectures and tests ordered by professor and ratings, discussion about lectures and test prep etc.

It was the de facto meeting and exchange place for all things related to that degree and was great value, I skipped quite a few classes that had good material and opted for self study. Must have saved me lots of hours. The most interesting thing was that there wasn't much pure leeching. Most people that used it went out of their way to help new students, provide lessons learned etc.Some professors actually had accounts (sometimes "undercover", was always fun when they got "exposed")

The guy started it when he started his BA (equivalent) and wrote his MA thesis about it and then the side faded away when he graduated (but by then there was other stuff available anyways)

Wasn't sophisticated at all but man was it useful. Talk about identifying customers and fixing their problems :)/old story

DanBC 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sometime ago a man made a better version of the Odeon's (a UK cinema chain) website. His version was accessible but also mu h easier to use. People could use his site to buy tickets from Odeon. They shut it down and stuck with their terrible site. I'm on mobile and finding links is frustrating, but here are a few.


He did some other sites too and as far as I know they all got taken down pretty quickly.

It's interesting to see some history of web scraping and how much people protect their, well, i don't know what is being protected there.

bertil 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the author posted on Reddit that they had been contacted by the administration and their project was being re-considered.
dasil003 2 days ago 1 reply      
With all these negative anecdotes I thought I'd share a counterpoint.

In 2001 at my first professional job I was the web manager for the student unions at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. At the time there was an old unmaintained ColdFusion app for student group registration. Having recently been dabbling in PHP for the unions websites, I proposed writing a new student group registration site from scratch in PHP. My manager approved, I gathered requirements from the stakeholders in the office for student activities and 3 months later shiny new mysql-backed PHP registration system.

They also did cool things like let me open source the custom CMS I wrote and push forward with a standards based HTML template while the rest of the University was still on a standardized but antiquated table-based template.

I realize now that I've been incredibly lucky with the people I've had above me in every single organization I've worked for in the last 15 years.

sammcd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did the same thing at my college. We crawled their course catalog. They blocked our IP.

Our big addition was being able to sort classes by time and day, the university ended up adding that feature, so I guess we got what we wanted?

don_draper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Will someone please disrupt Academia? Tenured professors don't want you to see that many suck at teaching so any website that brings that to light is shutdown.
swombat 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ah, embracing innovation the British way.

I recall that 6 months before one of those "date the person right next to me" sites picked up in the US, something similar was launched by some students in a UK university (a pretty high-profile one, though I can't remember which one... LSE? Imperial?). Anyway, long story short, the university IT department shut it down on the grounds that it was not appropriate use of IT facilities.

Six months later, the same launched in the US and grew insanely fast.

Fuxy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Typical American double standard. We promote free speech but don't you dare use it in a way we don't approve.

Is that really free speech then? I'm not free to say/do anything you don't approve of.

And since when is it ok to threaten disciplinary action on a student that didn't do anything wrong just provided a service students desperately need.

It's like me threatening to shoot your family if you don't sell me your house.

The second one is clearly illegal this one for some reason is ok can someone enlighten me?

We're talking about these people's future in both situations?

smsm42 2 days ago 1 reply      
So Yale students learned an important lesson - some of the staff cares much more about looking good than about helping students, and the administration of Yale would not be on the student's side in this case, because students come and go and the teachers stay.
CalRobert 2 days ago 0 replies      
The more I reflect on my time at university, the more I realize it was an utter and complete scam. Fortunately I was lucky enough to attend junior college for a year and a half after graduating, took classes that I actually wanted to take instead of whatever BS was prescribed by my program, and didn't deal with manipulative twits for professors who held me hostage, forcing me to do their research for them before they'd let me graduate. The sooner academia dies, the better. I certainly won't shed any tears.
rcfox 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar experience at my university (University of Waterloo), which I discussed some time ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3682163

In my case, it was internship postings instead of a course calendar, and I was actually "punished" for it.

xacaxulu 2 days ago 0 replies      
These brothers will be successful in spite of Yale. A story like this definitely lends some cred when it comes to hiring time.
izietto 2 days ago 0 replies      
[XKCD] University Website http://xkcd.com/773/
lesterbuck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe I missed something, but wouldn't this work fine as a browser extension? I guess it depends on whether any individual student needed to crawl the whole dataset, or only the subset of courses they are interested in. The Yale administration is very clear that students have access to all the relevant data, so let each student run their own app. The app could build the schedule workbooks in local storage, no external entity required. Professors get the privacy they want, and the students get the convenient view of the data they want.
sirkneeland 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, was someone under the impression that Yale or any other institutions of higher education are progressive, cutting-edge institutions employing best practices in IT or cost management?

These are reactive, hidebound institutions that have been able to go for at least a century without transformative reforms.

They're rather overdue for it.

nicholaides 2 days ago 0 replies      
I and some friends made a similar piece of software for our university. They reluctantly started emailing us CSV dumps of the course schedules but eventually stopped. It's surprising how resistant to technology a university with a reputation for engineering can be.
jimbokun 2 days ago 0 replies      
My simple question, what has the Yale administration gained by doing this?

Now the Washington Post has picked up the story, making them look petty and childish. Does whatever point they are trying to prove offset the PR damage?

mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is the issue privacy, or making it too easy to compare faculty ratings with one another? In general faculty and class ratings are not popular with tenured faculty who view greatness as synonymous with citations. Tenured faculty also are fighting the "dumbing down of classes to improve ratings". (I'm not sure if this is a reality or not at places like Yale)
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This bring back memories. I did the same thing at my university way back when - especially back when people still didn't bother to develop for iPhones.

I imagine they were afraid that people would get the wrong information, which is fair in a way, but if Yale's website was anything like my university's, then the website would far outweigh the alternative.

Cyph0n 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually built a similar, albeit simpler, course scheduling website for students of my university, UAEU. I however couldn't improve it because I feared that it might catch the eye of one of the higher-ups and lead to my expulsion. So I've left it as is. Quite a few students are using it, which is more than enough for me.

Here's the site (no domain yet):


mikekij 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rename it "Stanford Bluebook+", give Stanford a 4 year license, and transfer.
thinkcomp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously, reading this article it's almost as if they're deliberately re-enacting Harvard's response to houseSYSTEM (which included course reviews, scheduling features, and of course, The Facebook) from 11 years ago. It really says something about institutional behavior. There must be some kind of Independent Thinking Students Emergency Playbook they hand out in elite university administrations.

As then-President Summmers said on September 15, 2005, We are a community that is committed to the authority of ideas, rather than to the idea of authority. What a perfect line to summarize their utter hypocrisy.


edelans 2 days ago 0 replies      
We used a quite similar tool (although much more MVP) in my business school in France (ESSEC): we would share a google spreadsheet where we would comment and rate our professors and classes. Although the administration knew about it, they wouldn't accept it officially, which is quite disapointing in my opinion. There are more than 10 years of data in there: the link is transmitted to every promotion.
darkhorn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Similar web application but it was not punished http://www.metutakvim.com/
zoowar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just give us the data and let us decide which application presents it in a form we can consume efficiently.
dzink 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why not just limit access to validated students?
rvac 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once you understand that these universities are more or less (publicly or privately owned) corporations, their behavior starts making more sense. As far as I know, many of them actually turn a profit.
0ptical 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oberlin did this, too - but the department supported it and I got credit for working on it. https://oprestissimo.com/
jamdavswim 2 days ago 0 replies      
Say anything you want, as long as it's positive.
iaygo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is lecture attendance compulsory at Yale?
How Radians Work in 30 Seconds googleusercontent.com
406 points by _pius  1 day ago   96 comments top 16
ronaldx 1 day ago 6 replies      
This is by LucasVB, who is prolific at animating math for Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:LucasVB/Gallery

His other works are also worth checking: http://1ucasvb.tumblr.com/(for example, he has a super-nice explanation of Fourier series).

haberman 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's not an animation, but when I saw the visual illustration of eigenvalues/eigenvectors on this page I was blown away:


I studied linear algebra in college and computed plenty of eigenvalues/eigenvectors, but until I saw that graphic I had no idea what they actually were. I can't believe in retrospect that a textbook would explain them without an illustration like this.

dbbolton 1 day ago 13 replies      
Not to be dismissive or condescending, but do a lot of people have trouble understanding radians? I was under the impression that they were standard material in high school trig/physics.
keithpeter 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice.

Practical: take a 15cm ruler and drill small holes at each end. Thread a 1.2m ish loop of string through the holes so there is a radius of 57cm. Tie the string together about 20cm from the ruler.

The result lets you measure angles on the horizon, e.g. width of Moon (not Sun with children please!) and the altitude of navigation stars near rise and set.



cjdrake 1 day ago 3 replies      
Needs a version with tau: http://tauday.com/
dhughes 1 day ago 3 replies      
I muddled through it learning electronics not realizing I was not quite understanding it, this helps.

Who was it that said something along the lines of " If you can describe a complex thing to someone briefly in simple terms that shows knowledge" Feynman? Einstein?

Whoever said that I find it profound because most people can learn something eventually but to know something, knowledge, I find close to impossible, very hard.

chris_wot 1 day ago 2 replies      
Nice! They should use this in schools.
ivan_ah 23 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who prefer a text definition:

   radians = arc length in a circle with R=1

alok-g 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting to note that the author, LucasVB, uses a custom PHP library using GD to make these animations. He explains why he finds alternatives like Processing, Matplotlib, etc. insufficient here:


eulern 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice visualization. Many confusions could have been avoided had "radians" been named "radiuses". Measuring angles in spanned "radiuses" minimizes abstractions and explains the 2*pi factor. (Radii works too.)
espeed 22 hours ago 0 replies      
According to Carl Munck in "The Code" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9lTB0hTNU), radians were the unit of measure used to build and position the megaliths.
colund 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is so rad!

I love when something is explained in such an excellent simple way and was a good refresher for me. This is how things should be taught.

tommydiaz 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Man...why wasn't I shown this gif in calculus?
leke 17 hours ago 1 reply      
What is that little angle after the 3rd r that completes the pi-r?
MatthewWilkes 1 day ago 0 replies      
30 seconds? More like 206264.
forlorn 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Rocket science.
The Great Firewall of Yale
384 points by shaufler  5 days ago   126 comments top 39
zaidf 5 days ago 7 replies      
I thought my school was bad but reading this makes the administration at my school look like angels. When I launched a similar service at UNC Chapel Hill, the IT dept blocked requests from my server to theirs for scraping latest data.

They claimed I was creating excess load, which is silly because if they really did the math, given how many people were using my service I was probably saving them resources.

jahewson 5 days ago 4 replies      
There is no way that a valid copyright claim can be made over the underlying data because it is a statement of fact. Such a work is not eligible for copyright protection.
Tossrock 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think blocking a specific set of IP addresses constitutes deep packet inspection. If they were reading the payload contents for strings matching the CourseTable site, that would qualify.

Still, this is a stupid move by Yale.

girvo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Frankly, if colleges receive public funds, they shouldn't be allowed to claim "copyright" on something like timetable information, in my opinion. Actual intellectual property, maybe, but this? Not a time table. That's just silly.
ojbyrne 5 days ago 2 replies      
"Universities are a bastion of free speech." LOL.
jamesk_au 5 days ago 4 replies      
One of the principal issues raised here - and not squarely addressed in the post or the article to which it links - is the extent to which average subjective ratings of courses and professors should be permitted to dominate the decision-making processes of students.

Note that Yale's complaint included concerns over "the prominence of class and professor ratings", and the student developers' response was to remove "the option of sorting classes by ratings". Subjective five-point ratings can be useful in many contexts, but in the context of education they can also give rise to genuine pedagogical concerns about the way in which students choose their courses.

Looking at the screenshot in the post, it is not difficult to see that the pattern of enrolments might very quickly become skewed towards those classes with higher average evaluation ratings (whatever such ratings might mean). If that happens, it suggests that some students may be making decisions about the courses in which they enrol based principally on factors other than their interests, abilities and future career paths, or without critical thought. Whilst other factors are relevant, including those for which an average of subjective evaluation ratings might be a plausible heuristic, that does not mean those factors should be the primary or predominant factors.

Without seeking to defend or condone Yale's response, there is more to the story than the tale of student censorship presented in the post.

epmatsw 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure no Yale student has ever heard of tethering and that blocking the site on the Yale network will effectively prevent very smart students from reaching this website.

You would think that the Yale administrators would know better than this.

dictum 5 days ago 1 reply      
I expect the official explanation to be something like "we cannot endorse an unofficial service that might give misleading information to our students."

Every censor does it from an honest desire to keep this terribly misleading information away from the unknowing masses.

I don't think Yale is blocking the service in a conspiratorial effort to stymie students, but from a not well thought out desire to babysit.

jlgaddis 4 days ago 1 reply      
It would have been really cool if the developers of this (really nice, AFAICT) site moved it to (or also made it available via) a Tor hidden service.

The students would regain access to their data (I realize that it has now been e-mailed to them) and it would be a great example of exactly how Tor can help "bypass" censorship.

nmodu 5 days ago 2 replies      
If I'm paying $58,000 to attend an institution (rather, if my family is sacrificing $58,000 for me to attend an institution...or,worse yet, if I am taking out $58,000 worth of student loans per year), I should be able to use a course listing service so that I can tailor my academic experience however I chose. THAT is how we open this debate, not with comments about who the proper copyright holder is or whether or not this constitutes as deep packet inspection.
shtylman 5 days ago 3 replies      
I run a similar service for other schools (courseoff.com) and I have run into this before. I bet what happened was their site failed to cache the course data or seat information and was thus making lots of requests to the Yale servers. To Yale it might appear like a DoS from this site.

Obviously I don't know for sure but I would venture to bet this block was more an automated response than malicious intent against the site.

klapinat0r 4 days ago 1 reply      
To focus only on the actual website issue:

Could it be in order to govern the information, rather than "copyright" per say?

My thinking is that, from Yale's perspective, having a 3rd party (and especially a student) be the go-to source for course info might be a bad shift in power.

When it's all in good kind, it may not look bad, and even if it is well intended, there are a few problems that could arise:

- Bugs in crawling code causing some course information to be false, omitted or stale.

- Changes in OCI causing said crawler to keep stale data and fail to update.- Students complaining to Yale with wrong information.

all the way to the more paranoid:

- 3rd party maliciously falsifying information.

- Generel confusion as to which information is reliable, driving students to have a more, rather than less, difficult time finding and verifying class scheduling.

I'm all for net neutrality and strongly against censorship in all forms, but "playing devil's advocate" can't there be a somewhat "legitimate" reason to shut the 3rd party page off for Yale students?

Nanzikambe 5 days ago 2 replies      
If it were only deep packet inspection, the solution would be simply to prefix https:// and be done with it. As other posters have remarked, I suspect the article means an IP based block.
jrs235 5 days ago 1 reply      
"They had contacted us warning that we were using copyrighted data" last I understood you can't copyright data or facts [in the US]. You can own copyright to a particular published format though. One can't copy and publish a phone book verbatim but you can certainly scrap a phone book for its data/facts and publish them in a different format.
ivanplenty 5 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr -- the crux of the issue (right or wrong) is making the evaluation information too public. From the news story:

> "[Administrators' primary concern was] making YC [Yale College] course evaluation available to many who are not authorized to view this information,

> "[Administrators also asked] how they [the site operators] obtained the information, who gave them permission to use it and where the information is hosted."

Edit: Agreed, I don't buy these are the real reasons.

stormbrew 5 days ago 1 reply      
Something like this happened at the university in the city I live in. There was an apparently awful service for signing up for classes called BearTracks [1] and someone made a scraped version of it that was better called BearScat [2]. Eventually the university basically incorporated the better version into theirs (to, I understand, mixed results).

[1] https://www.beartracks.ualberta.ca/[2] http://www.bearscat.ca/

dreamdu5t 5 days ago 2 replies      
What's the purpose of Yale censoring certain websites? I find it hilarious that people spend so much money to go to Yale, and some of that money goes to inspecting what they're browsing.
zamalek 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Universities are a bastion of free speech.

Incorrect - universities are now a business, nothing more. You can have your free speech so long as it makes the shareholders happy. Having students confused and lost (or being unable to chose the best education for themselves) is a fantastic way to have them repeat courses in the long run.

Tertiary education is no longer what it used to be. It is now exactly the same type of delusion that women face in terms of having to be slim; or consumers face in terms of having to have the latest iPhone or what have you.

diminoten 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is the course listing software open-source? I'd like to do this for another school...
benmarks 5 days ago 0 replies      
The experience seems like fair preparation for the reality into which their charges will graduate.
thinkcomp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Harvard did this in 2003. It even went so far as to accuse me of using the word "The" improperly, in a copyright line where I properly attributed credit to "The President and Fellows of Harvard College," when http://www.harvard.edu at the time said the exact same thing (and apparently still does). I left Harvard early (with a degree), and then I wrote a book about it.


Some things never change.

ballard 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an unacceptable, naked abuse of power. Any education institution blocking any site on political or anticompetitive grounds flushes away any vestiges of ideals of free speech and open learning. The administration should have known better or it may find itself replaced for acting incompetently.
TylerE 4 days ago 0 replies      
I forwarded the link to a friend who works in the admissions office at Yale. Can't promise anything but she said she'd be asking some questions.
windexh8er 5 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is curious that's a Palo Alto Networks NGFW block page. Yale is at least using some great hardware!
xerophtye 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This really makes me appreciate what we had at my college. For nearly a decade now, the OFFICIAL portal for the university that lets students and teachers manage courses and assignments (submissions included), has been the one that was originally developed, and still managed by students. We have a webmasters club for that whose responsibility it is keep it up and running and add features to it as they see fit. The university has been nothing but supportive of this, including assigning it an yearly budget for hosting and other expenditures.
poizan42 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you actually go to http://coursetable.com you will be asked to login through Yale Central Authentication Service, which sends you to:https://secure.its.yale.edu/cas/login?service=http%3A%2F%2Fc...

I hope I don't give the administration any good ideas here, but I would seem that they have a much more efficient way to disable the site.

sgarg26 4 days ago 0 replies      
I understand that Yale and Harvard have a rivalry and compete for students. Out of curiosity, how might Harvard have handled a similar situation?
philip1209 5 days ago 0 replies      
Switch it to Cloudflare to obfuscate the source
arkinus 5 days ago 0 replies      
Note that this site is also accessible at http://coursetable.com
ballard 5 days ago 0 replies      
Has there been an official response?
zobzu 5 days ago 0 replies      
it's so disgusting that this stuff even happen.
takeda64 5 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like http://www.coursetable.com is filtered on WebSense.
Ihmahr 4 days ago 1 reply      
So MIT murders a student (Arron S.), Yale does some ridiculous censoring...

What's next?

lightblade 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that we haven't DDOS them yet, lol.
songco 4 days ago 0 replies      
GFW don't show any "blocked" message, it just "reset" the connection...
robitor 5 days ago 1 reply      
"It threatens the very basis of academic freedom and net neutrality"

So pretentious, did a teenager write this?

epochwolf 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is not news. Most campus have filtering software and the university administration will use it to block websites that make them look bad.
Blackphone blackphone.ch
380 points by jorrizza  4 days ago   203 comments top 69
revelation 4 days ago 13 replies      
The privacy issue in smartphones isn't the freaking application processor running Android. Sure, that ones terrible enough.

But the actual problem is the baseband processor running completely non-free software, with an enormous attack surface and access to all the interesting periphery (GPS, microphone). There is not just opportunity to compromise your privacy, Qualcomm and others actively implement such features at the behest of governments and carriers.

Oh, and if you plug that enormous hole, you get to the SIM card, yet another processor that you have zero control over, but which has access to enough juicy data to compromise your privacy. I highly recommend everyone to watch a talk from 30C3 by Karsten Nohl, where he shows a live attack on an improperly configured SIM card that remotely implants a Java app on the SIM card which continuously sends your cell ID (your approximate location) to the attacker by short message (without notification to the application processor, e.g. Android or iOS):


Carriers can do this today. (edit: that's a bit nonsensical, because carriers of course already know your cell id. Anyone with the ability to run a fake basestation momentarily (think IMSI catcher) can do this.)

joosters 4 days ago 4 replies      
Completely useless web page. All wooly 'feel-good' words and no hard, concrete information. So I guess we just have to take it on trust then?

Also, their privacy policy is laughable:

We turn the logging level on our systems to log only protocol-related errors - great!

the pages on our main web site pull in javascript files from a third party. This allows our web developers and salespeople to know which pages are being looked at - so instead of keeping your own logs, you are outsourcing this to a 3rd party with worse privacy policies, and who can now aggregate your website usage with other sites.

Why didn't they just keep logging on and get rid of the 3rd party bugs?

EthanHeilman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd really like a phone that had the following features:

* physical switches for GPS, WIFI, Radio, Camera, Mic, write/read access to disk (go diskless),

* a secondary low power eInk display that is wired directly into the hardware that shows when the last time GPS, mic, camera were turned on (and for how long) and how much data has been sent over the radio and read from disk,

* a FS which encrypts certain files with a key that is stored remotely. If your phone is stolen you can delete this remote key. The key is changed on every decrypt. You also get a remote log of all times this remote key was accessed.

* hardware support for read-only, write-only files,

* hardware support for real secure delete on the SSD,

* the ability to change all my HW identifiers at will (IMEI, SIM, etc),

* a log, stored on a separate SD card, of all data sent and received using a HW tap on the radio/WIFI. The log should be encrypted such that only someone with the private key can read it (public key used to encrypt an AES session key which is rotated out every 5 minutes). If you think someone has compromised your phone you can audit this log for both exploitation and data exfiltration. Since the log is implemented in HW, no rootkit can alter it.

buro9 4 days ago 3 replies      
Well, this is just a splash page and says very little.

It's in partnerships with http://www.geeksphone.com/ which is FirefoxOS based. But yet the Blackphone splash has an image of a phone with Android buttons.

They claim no hooks to vendors, so if it's Android I can't imagine this is going to carry the Play store.

I'd be interested in knowing how they will secure and make private the core functionality of being a phone and sending email and text, all of which are insecure.

On that, I'd speculate that this is just pre-loaded with Silent Circle apps, and maybe will be announced as having DarkMail and a choice of RedPhone.

But... there's no info at all really, so who knows what this is.

The only problem they really have to solve is the eternal question of: Is it possible to provide real security and privacy whilst providing convenience?

_wmd 4 days ago 2 replies      
As others have pointed out, the baseband is not your friend. Was thinking about this recently, and saw no reason why existing POCSAG (pager) networks couldn't be reused to provide a completely passive receiver. Imagine a phone where the baseband was off by default, unless attempting to make a call. Voicemail/e-mail summaries were broadcast encrypted via POCSAG, and generate notifications just like a new mail summary coming in via GPRS/3G would.

Obviously usability would suffer a little bit (mostly in huge latency when you actually wanted to make a call), but seems like very cheap phone could be built that integrated a pager, allowing complete disconnection from the 'active' radio network, avoiding location tracking by your cell provider, or similar evil tricks by third parties.

thecoffman 4 days ago 1 reply      
A site peddling a product that is supposedly about user control and privacy that won't even load without javascript...

The irony is almost too much.

Trufa 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the fact that the website is still a little bit unspecific but this project is backed by Phil Zimmermann, he was the creator of PGP, it doesn't guarantee anything but it definitely means some smart people who are worried about privacy are behind it.
GrinningFool 4 days ago 0 replies      

I'm sure there's logic there - powering a very basic non-informative landing site with a WP installation that you took the time to customize, but not delete the default post and comment from...

But it certainly doesn't give me warm fuzzy feelings about the people behind this.

apunic 4 days ago 2 replies      
Android having the most granular permission system ever seen on any operating system is already the most secure operating system.

The biggest security hole next to the baseband processor and the SIM is the user who installs every app in seconds without checking permissions.

wavesounds 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone thinking of making a video to sell a privacy product to mass consumers should probably stay away from creepy music and women walking around in all black hoods. Instead go for soccer moms buying stuff with her credit card or librarians doing research for a school kid. Let's not make secure/private communications something weird and creepy but something normal that everyone does.
epaga 4 days ago 1 reply      
No mention of the thing being completely open sourced - or did I overlook something? If not, seems like something they should mention (I am assuming it IS open source?)...
darklajid 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm weird enough to be interested in these kind of things, but the whole site is really .. just fluff. Ignoring that and focusing on the sparse details of the actual thing:

- High-End Android device

- Privacy features in the (custom) Android version

- "Secure communication builtin"

Again, I like the idea. But so far the details match CyanogenMod (with TextSecure for SMS, maybe XPrivacy on top)?

Duhck 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't really feel like a slave, maybe I am under reacting here. I am pissed the NSA is collecting data, I am upset at all the recent revelations we have had about data privacy in the last 6-8 months, but I certainly don't feel like a slave.

These products should be advertised on theblaze and infowares.

Sure there is a need for better privacy, but I don't really care for the fearmongering...

joncp 4 days ago 2 replies      
Secure? They're rewriting the baseband, then? Color me skeptical.
c1sc0 4 days ago 2 replies      
How does this protect me from my carrier? No matter which phone I use they still need to record who I call for "billing purposes" and know which cell is closest to route my calls.
andyjohnson0 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know they are pre-launch and this is just a landing page, but it doesn't tell us much. Questions:

1. Is this just a stock phone with some privacy-orientated applications built-in, or is the OS and hardware contributing anything?

2. They seem to be using Android. AOSP or Cyanogenmod? Have they any work themselves to harden the OS? Are they using virtualisation?

3. Any closed binary blobs in there? What about the baseband firmware? (Does open source baseband firmware even exist?)

4. Whats the hardware like? Is it hardened in any way?

sdfjkl 4 days ago 0 replies      
To even have the theoretical possibility of "privacy & security", both software and hardware must be fully open. And then there must be some way to check that the hardware and software you got in that box is actually the hardware from the spec, without extra chips. Those are pretty hard to accomplish.
andyl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the Blackphone is a fantastic reaction to the problem of corporate and government spying. It will build awareness of privacy issues, and pave the way for other more secure offerings. A great first step.
runjake 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like Mike Janke and all, he's a nice guy. But, he has backed out of RSAC '14 yet [1]? I find it a tough sell to call yourself a privacy advocate and legitimize and fund RSA by speaking at their conference. It also doesn't help Blackphone's cause.

1. http://www.rsaconference.com/speakers/mike-janke

digitalengineer 4 days ago 1 reply      
"and anonymize your activity through a VPN."

iOS and Android support VPN but it needs to be manually activated each time, making it rather useless unless you're using some public wifi. If I understand correctly there is a possibility for large companies to integrate VPN but for the average guy it's rather useless if you have to activate it. If this phone has VPN really integrated that'd be great.

avighnay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Geeksphone is doing pretty impressive for a startup that they were launch partners for Firefox OS and now have roped in PGP founders for this project.

Were they successful in delivering on the Firefox phones?, Their website always says 'out of stock'. Blackphone seems to be ambitious too. Is it possible for a startup to sail these two boats?

Also I find it odd that the PR is always just before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) which happens in Spain, last year with Firefox OS and this year with Blackphone

andyjohnson0 4 days ago 1 reply      
Renowned cryptographer believes his 'Blackphone' can stop the NSA


josefresco 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I desire privacy would I buy a Blackphone, or would I buy another more common smartphone which I would then secure?

If you're "picked up" or detained and you have a Blackphone, or someone observes you using your Blackphone I doubt very much it would help your pricacy concerns.

If however you have a seemingly normal phone it might be overlooked and simply using it wouldn't raise suspicion.

My point is that this type of phone is more for the "regular" person who simply doesn't want to be monitored (as much) and not covert agents looking for a secure phone/platform for communication.

r0h1n 4 days ago 1 reply      
>> "Enabling revolutionary communications"?

Eh? Wouldn't "Enabling secure/private communications" be a better, albeit less grand, descriptor?

sifarat 4 days ago 4 replies      
I would hate to say this, but people here and there, are cashing in NSA fiasco. I would have loved it more, if this was more focused on 'features' than playing with people's emotions. this is valid for everything currently cashing-in NSA issue.

As for, NSA spying how exactly can this phone ensure 100% secrecy. Given a user would have to use the same apps, and above all, the carrier that other smartphone users use.

Point is, US Govt is hellbent on spying on you. And they will no matter what. Either change the US Govt, or suck it up. Nothing else is gonna work.

bosch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does any one else find it odd a privacy centric phone's website won't load without scripts, cookies, etc? I would think they would have a text only version if items failed to load properly...
tn13 4 days ago 2 replies      
How difficult is it really to make a truly open source phone ? All it takes is one dedicated hardware company and a software company coming together.

Hackers have built some amazing hardware in past and we all know about how open source communities have built some of worlds best software. Google, Apple etc. are building devices where they act as gatekeepers and charge us for all nonsensical stuff. If you make a website there are a gazillion ways to promote it but there is only one way to promote and app. Pay some advertiser and you are totally at mercy of Google or Apple.

Firefox has been doing the right thing so far but they seem to take too much time.

yetfeo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mozilla could take great strides towards this type of phone if they cared. Integrate tor, Whisper Systems RedPhone and SercureText, HTML tracking disabled, etc. I'm surprised their Firefox OS looks and works so much like every other phone out there.
oh_sigh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I get the feeling this phone was designed by a marketing group, and not competent engineers. Unless they completely design every chip in the phone, including the SIM and wireless chipsets, the device will never achieve their stated goals.
blahbl4hblahtoo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, if I were really worried about privacy I would use burners or get a lineman's handset. It seems like a smart device that you use all the time is going to have the same problems.

So, yeah you can encrypt the voice channel. That's great. You can send encrypted text messages. The people involved are serious cryptographers. All of it sounds good.

You have to ask your self though, what is it you are trying to do? Who is your adversary? Other people here have mentioned it, but what about apps on the phone? Facebook is still Facebook.

unicornporn 4 days ago 0 replies      
No Play store in this I hope. I'm currently running Cyanogenmod without Gapps and I'm wondering what this will offer me.
fmax30 4 days ago 4 replies      
This maybe a bit off topic but,why did Switzerland get the .ch domain instead of china.China seems to have a lousy CN domain ,( which reminds me of cartoon network for reasons that are irrelevant here).
cyphunk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will the browser be OSS? Will the mail app? Message app? Maps app? If the essential apps that constitute a "smart phone" are not open source, at least the defaults, it's really irrelevant.

Not to mention that none of the providers have the code to the baseband.

I could imagine a phone that treats the baseband as an untrusted entity and encapsulates everything running over it. This would require forcing SSL for all HTTP traffic, and using some standard for SMS and Voice encryption that is on by default when the recipient on the other end also has a supported device. For those that do not you're unencrypted SMS would be exposed at many hops even if they smartphone were full OSS and trusted, even to the baseband level. So silo'ing everything where possible is a valid solution with closed basebands.

huhtenberg 4 days ago 4 replies      
For a project concerned with privacy and anonymity the news subscription form is asking way too much.

Also, why is domain on .ch ?

MWil 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought it was funny, considering the top comments, that if I cntrl+F for "zimmerman" it takes me all the way to halfway down the page
rch 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is not the 'first' phone to do these things. I had an idea along these lines in 2003, and some searching turned up a German company that was already doing it. Somebody bought them a couple of years later, and I don't know what happened to the phone. This sure isn't the 'first' though.
whizzkid 4 days ago 1 reply      
With all the respect what they have done so far, I can't see any reason why this is securer than the other mobile phones..

With the latest NSA stuff, I came to conclusion that a true secure system can only be built under these conditions and just to put it out there, this is just my opinion;

- A computer company that manufactures their own hardware such as hard drive, ram, cables, network cards.

- An OS that is newly written and not based on any other existing operating systems.

- Building the whole system with INDEPENDENT hardware and software mentioned above.

- Keeping the mobile device's source code offline from Internet as much as possible

These are just the first steps on developing a secure system, then comes the mobile network architecture and encryption etc.

I admit, it is not an easy job but, trying to develop a secure system with "not secure" development tools is not the right way to go :)

pieter_mj 4 days ago 0 replies      
True privacy on a smartphone can only be expected when software and hardware are 100% open sourced. This of course includes the source code for the 3 Os's that typically run on a smartphone.Anything that's running server-side cannot be trusted either. So we need client-side encryption/decryption as well.
aagha 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that all the work being done on this "secure" phone is being done on non-secure hardware and networks. Presumably if interested parties think this is a threat, they can access all comms/data about this new phone, inject themselves where they see fit and compromise the final product.

Oh, and never mind compromising the people involved.

djyaz1200 4 days ago 0 replies      
Will someone please tell them to remove the clips in their video of testing a white phone in the interest of brand consistency? Also this idea seems like a solid game plan for Blackberry? They could rename their company "Black" ala P-Diddy v just Diddy. :)
bybjorn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like there will be several players in this market - an alternative is Indie Phone; http://indiephone.eu .. If it ever ships it should be a better alternative privacy-wise as they are building everything from the ground up (their own OS instead of relying on Android, etc.)
JoelJacobson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Would it be possible to do the encryption outside of a normal phone, via some AD/DA converted plugged into the standard 3.5mm-headphone minijack?

I started a thread to discuss this idea:


pessimizer 4 days ago 0 replies      
How usable is Android without a continual involvement with Google? If you have to be involved with Google, there's no point.
tinalumfoil 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else see this as ridiculous attempt to profit off the NSA leaks. The video is about scaring people into believing their being "enslaved" and are coming out with a device that has "never before before created" that is aimed at "for privacy-minded, security-minded people". It's filled with unrelated words like "neutrality", "all walks of life", "innovative thinkers" to make it seem legit.

There is no mention of the methods used by the phone to ensure privacy.

lispm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped watching the video at 'Android'.
BuildTheRobots 4 days ago 0 replies      
Love the idea of a GSM handset that believes in protecting my privacy, however all their features seem to revolve around a secured Android OS.

Does anyone know if the actual baseband/wireless side has been designed with security in mind? -for example I'd love to be warned when I'm connected to an A5/0 "encrypted" GSM network, but I haven't been able to find a handset build in the last decade that's willing to warn me.

linux_devil 4 days ago 0 replies      
One should be concerned about privacy and digital footprints , but more or less it depends on how many people are looking forward to adapt this concept. People still use Gmail and facebook .
elwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I see the reasoning, the name "Blackphone" just has too much of a racist connotation in America.
blueskin_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please not another long scrolling page without any real info... shame, I might have wanted one if they had provided any specs or technical details at all...
ilovecookies 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't the problem more connected to the hardware and the fact that most people are already willingly using tons of applications who are giving information about you to companies like google (maps) twitter, facebook etc. If you install the apps with consent on your phone, and those apps have access to the linux or ios kernel runtime and syslogs then you're basically fucked from start.
viseztrance 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would personally be interested if they would provide security updates over a long period of time.
jlebrech 4 days ago 0 replies      
nowhere near as secure as a burner phone purchased in cash.
dblotsky 4 days ago 0 replies      
"You can make and receive secure phone calls; exchange secure texts; exchange and store secure files; have secure video chat; browse privately; and anonymize your activity through a VPN."

People. It's really secure, private, and anonymous, ok?

naithemilkman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this kinda moot if you're using any services that is domiciled in the States?
muyuu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I loved it when they asked for my full name to keep me informed.
caiob 4 days ago 0 replies      
Funny how there's a twitter link at the bottom.

Jokes aside, I think it's a great initiative, looking forward to see what comes out of it.

sgarrity 4 days ago 0 replies      
They should probably work on the mixed-content SSL warnings on their own website. It's obviously not related to the security of the phones, but it doesn't instill much confidence.
sidcool 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is it an Android phone?
heldrida 4 days ago 0 replies      
The phone image is missing. Check "images/teaser_site/img03.jpg", css #phone style.css line 396


junto 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Use the apps you know and love.

Ok, so how do they stop Facebook et al from abusing our contact lists and location data as they do on existing smart phones?

arj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Unless they have some really special hardware in this, I don't see how its that much different than running cyanogenmod + secure applications on top, such as textsecure.
pattle 4 days ago 0 replies      
The website doesn't really tell me anything about the phone.
dandare 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am not getting it, how do you prevent the carrier from knowing where you are if you sign up to it with your number?
drjacobs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ouch, don't try this one on a slow connection.
blackphace 4 days ago 1 reply      
Their trailer seems a little too "inspired" by this First ELSE promo video from 2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHghZnOH8dA
skuunk1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad they couldn't get the url blackphone.sh


higherpurpose 4 days ago 1 reply      
Since NSA/FBI can reroute shipping boxes and install malware in them - do they have any plans against that?
n008 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just get an old Nokia feature phone
hekker 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice to order Chinese food anonymously with this phone. Looking forward to the release!
Super successful companies samaltman.com
366 points by dko  4 days ago   145 comments top 40
kevinalexbrown 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mediocre founders try to hire people for the parts that they don't like. Great founders just do whatever they think is in the best interest of the company, even if they're not "passionate" about that part of the business.

I don't often like to follow people, but when I do, this attribute matters to me. I'm not sure, but I suspect that it's a signal that someone wants to build something great more than accumulate accolades. In the latter case, I help someone get rich and famous (which is fine!). But in the former, I'm a part of something awesome.

I find it a little difficult to articulate why this affects me so deeply, but it resonates with me, and talented people I know.

In general, I suspect these attributes are important if for no other reason than talented people you might be recruiting will be on the lookout for them.

carsongross 4 days ago 9 replies      
C'mon now, kids.

While there is some laudable-if-extremely-conventional wisdom in here, almost every point suffers from either survival bias ("Successful companies succeed by being successful.") or from having obvious counter-examples ("Was Steve Jobs a nice guy?"), or both.

exit 4 days ago 12 replies      
> - The founders are nice. I'm sure this doesn't always apply, but the most successful founders I know are nicer than average. They're tough, they're very competitive, and they are ruthless, but they are fundamentally nice people.

ruthless, rooTHls/, adjective

1. having or showing no pity or compassion for others.

what does "ruthless" mean nowadays in valley newspeak? or did i miss a memo about "nice"..?

aashaykumar92 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another important trait Ron Conway highlighted at Startup School that really stuck with me was that Founders of 'super successful companies' can careless about other distractions, especially the media. He highlighted the example of Ben Silbermann and how he used to reject several interviews so as not to lose focus on Pinterest.

So although it's a hybrid of two traits mentioned in the article ("They are obsessed with the quality of the product/experience" and "They don't get excited about pretending to run a startup"), it is still one that should be there by itself.

tvladeck 4 days ago 3 replies      
To all those people screaming "survivorship bias", isn't that what this whole post is about? Like, explicitly in the title of the thread?

Of the companies that became very successful, what were some common traits? That's what this post is about.

"Yeah but you only looked at the successful companies."::smacks head::

argumentum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article ... Some of the points might seem obvious in hindsight, but are rarely followed in practice. Perhaps it is because they are so obvious as to be somewhat invisible, or they are repeated so often as to be ignored.

I thought one of the less obvious, and especially interesting, insights was the following:

Another way this trait shows itself is "right-sized" first projects. You can't go from zero to huge; you have to find something not too big and not too small to build first. They seem to have an innate talent for figuring out right-sized projects.

I wonder how much of this talent (which I'd call a "knack") can be acquired from experience.

I noticed in myself an instinct for categorizing projects as "right time"/"right place". By "instinct" I don't mean I'm particularly good at this, I may be really bad. I mean that I have a feeling, which I can imagine as some sort of neural pattern recognition algorithm. I'd guess everyone has this same feeling .. to what extent can it be tuned into a "knack"?

tomasien 4 days ago 1 reply      
"They don't get excited about pretending to run a startup"

That's the biggest difference between me now and starting my first company - I was ultra-excited to call myself "CEO of startup" the first time around, this time around we don't even have titles because we don't give a shit. We have a CEO because you need to know at whom the buck stops, but we've even discussed using that interchangeably depending the situation (decided against it) because of how thoroughly we don't care.

I don't think the way I felt the first time around was bad or the reason we failed - but it was a pretty good signal, and I even knew it at the time.

ritchiea 4 days ago 0 replies      
This started out with some boilerplate SV platitudes (obsess over your product, obsess over talent), but got quite good by the end. The concrete items, particularly "They make something a small number of users really love" and "They don't get excited about pretending to run a startup" really resonate with my experience and are things I think everyone should keep in mind when running a company.
edw519 4 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, seems like I always narrow my list down to this 1 item:

"They are obsessed about their customers' success."

Everything else is a byproduct.

calbear81 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of the points are great but when we talk about super successful, I can think of some great startups that grew organically but also a lot of operationally efficient companies that knew how to build businesses at scale with a combination of organic growth, massive marketing, and smart PR. For example, one of Google's largest advertisers in spend is Booking.com (owned by Priceline). They have built an efficient machine that can acquire users/customers in an efficient manner and in the process capture 48% market share of online hotel bookings in Europe and help make Priceline a $60B market cap company.
_sentient 4 days ago 2 replies      
Great points. I would also add: They have serious intestinal fortitude.

You can possess all of the other traits, and you're still pretty much guaranteed to run into numerous points in the life of a company where you're staring into the abyss of imminent failure. The ability to withstand that kind of pressure is probably a prerequisite for highly successful founders.

normloman 4 days ago 2 replies      
oskarth 4 days ago 1 reply      
All I can think about reading the comments (and the article, for whatever reason) is pg's advice to sama and how it didn't seem to help at all here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6843726
jusben1369 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good stuff. Only nitpick is the "partnership" comment. I actually think too many startups are too insular and not comfortable working with other companies early on. However perhaps here he meant the "hit it out of the ballpark" partnership type.

Please add to "They don't get excited about pretending to run a startup" - they're not on Twitter tweeting cliche's around vision/team/culture/design/customer love all day. That's a big red flag to me.

vzhang 4 days ago 5 replies      
Number one reason you didn't mention - they are lucky.
Jormundir 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is there any evidence backing up these claims? I can think of exceptions for just about every one of these points.
inthewoods 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think there are two important areas he doesn't touch on:1. Timing: The most successful companies are also the ones that are usually at a particular point in time when an opportunity exists. Too early, you fail, too late, you fail as well (for different reasons).2. A scalable idea: The most successful companies find product or service ideas that scale hugely. These ideas are pretty rare. More often, people find ideas they like and can execute but turn out to be ideas that scale only so far. Sometime it turns out that they've actually founded a services business and didn't know it. More often, they find an idea that can scale to, say, $5m in revenue but then has trouble scaling beyond that. Billion dollar ideas likely represent a very small portion.
tdumitrescu 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like this one: "They respond to emails quickly." It always amazes me just how many would-be "founders" are unbelievably flaky, miss appointments, drop off the face of the earth for days or weeks at a time...
lpolovets 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Great founders are execution machines." That's a great summarizing quote.
aryastark 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article is literally advocating a cargo cult. I've seen sharks jumped, but never this high and this obvious.
semerda 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like Sam's blog posts. They are short and punchy. Always leaving me charged with energy. Good stuff. Keep it up Sam!

"They have a whatever-it-takes attitude." - This is such a powerful trait that it puts the "big dreamers" to shame and separates the Wannapreneurs from Entrepreneurs. Anyone is capable of dreaming, talking big, generate ideas et al.. but few are capable of executing them by doing whatever it takes to turn that dream into reality. Ha, it reminds me of the "never give up frog poster".

saumil07 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sam Altman is a great writer. He was also Founder/CEO of Loopt. I have to wonder why this post doesn't relate the traits back to his work at Loopt so the lessons learned can be more contextualized.

For example, are there areas where he was a mediocre founder by his own definition? Were there times when he was mediocre and then became great? What did it take to go from mediocre to great?

I'm surprised that the essay is so general in nature when there's a wealth of specific (and maybe more valuable) cases that could have been shared even after respecting privacy of individuals involved, etc.

sillysaurus2 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent list. Thank you, Sam, for putting it together.
tsunamifury 4 days ago 0 replies      
These are great foundational traits, which are common among noble-failure and successful startups I've seen.

You still need to add in the resources (money, energy, charisma) to fund sustained hard work, market resonance, and luck to reach super success.

dclara 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, so many traits!

I noticed this one is not quite easy to make:

"*They grow organically. And they are generally skeptical of inorganic strategies like big partnership deals and to a lesser extent PR. They certainly don't have huge press events to launch their startup. Mediocre founders focus on big PR launches to answer their growth prayers."

Most startup companies are looking for big partnership deals with PR support intensively. But they are focusing on building customer base. It's really not easy.

wslh 4 days ago 0 replies      
He misses one point: live and fund your company in US. There are more successful Internet companies in US than abroad.
hoboerectus 4 days ago 0 replies      
* They can bench press twice their body weight.

* They are sublime swordsmen.

* They revere the supreme commander.

bsirkia 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would add they were also a bit lucky (whether with timing or virality or some other factor) at some point in their lifecycle.
pbreit 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Charging customers early" is actually the opposite. Few of the big internet successes charged early (google, eBay, PayPal, Facebook, yahoo, etc.).

And, frugality is good in the beginning but after you prove yourself, you have to step on the gas.

tschellenbach 3 days ago 0 replies      
With many of these points I completely agree, I also believe that there's data to back them up. The following however:

- the generate revenue very early on in their lives- they keep expenses low

Is in direct contrast with many of the most successful startups. As far as I know, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Skype don't fit this criteria.

zephyrnh 4 days ago 1 reply      
"They generate revenue very early on in their lives. Often as soon as they get their first user."

Is this true?If "super successful" can be understood as "the biggest tech IPOs of the last 15 years", then I think that Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter would be at the very top of that list. I guess it depends on how we define "very early".

mathattack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the list but what are all the source companies? (And in the spirit of survivor bias, failed comparison companies)
drelihan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Did you have a list of extremely successful companies you were looking at specifically when you wrote this? If so, I'd be interested in seeing that list to compare
quadrangle 3 days ago 0 replies      
tl;dr what makes a company great is how it is run greatly
desireco42 4 days ago 0 replies      
No examples, just slogans.
LeicaLatte 4 days ago 0 replies      
We are prone to saying super while talking. That's ok.

That many supers in writing? Sorry, but that's bad writing.

samishamlet 3 days ago 0 replies      
It turns out that pattern matching on PG's essay style does not make one's essays as insightful..

All I can say is: the only factor really worth a damn is luck. Unfortunately you can't control luck, the only thing you can do is increase your luck surface. From my experience, nothing on that list actually does that - what increases luck is: hard work, value of idea, connections and personality. Re-order at will.

kimonos 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! I see some helpful information in here. Thanks for sharing!
higherpurpose 4 days ago 1 reply      
> *They grow organically. And they are generally skeptical of inorganic strategies like big partnership deals and to a lesser extent PR. They certainly don't have huge press events to launch their startup. Mediocre founders focus on big PR launches to answer their growth prayers.

Has Google+ written all over it.

drdiablo 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is a test of fun
Wozniak: Actually, the movie was largely a lie about me plus.google.com
377 points by jamesbritt  4 hours ago   85 comments top 17
Dn_Ab 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Sidenote: You can tell Woz is an amazing genuinely good person with no hint of pretension or self importance.

A lot can be discerned about famous personalities by who they choose to follow. For example, you can tell whether the person has little utility for social networks but maybe started out following a scattering of experts relevant to their interests.

Usually though, the personality is using their handful of followed people as an importance signalling factor. Often they will be following somewhere between -5e6 to 10 hugely important to unbelievably hugely important people; people with names like Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Paris Hilton, Bono, Lord Vishnu and Kanye West.

On the other hand we have those like Steve Wozniak - following nearly 5000 people and deigning to reply to someone even the likes of HN commenter OGC is completely unaware of.

That is, in all seriousness, an incredible sign of sustained humility.

sethbannon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If we could all be as gracious and even-keeled and creative as Woz the world would be a better place.
jpmattia 1 hour ago 2 replies      
> Woz: And when Jobs (in the movie, but really a board does this) denied stock to the early garage team (some not even shown) I'm surprised that they chose not to show me giving about $10M of my own stock to them because it was the right thing. And $10M was a lot in that time.

I have to say: That speaks volumes. And Woz, if you ever happen to read this: It's still a pile of dough in the year 2014.

rtpg 4 hours ago 8 replies      
For those who haven't yet, I'd highly recommend reading "Steve Jobs", the biography by Isaacson. It portrays pretty much all of these events like Woz describes them, and is a very complete portrait of Jobs. Woz' status at HP as referenced isn't really covered, but his actions during the Apple I and II launches are pretty complete.

EDIT: I'd like to point out that this book covers everything, up to Jobs death, and is about Jobs, not Apple. There's obviously a lot about Apple, but a good amount about Pixar ,NeXT, and Jobs' personal life as well. A great biography IMO, but it's not much about technology.

mrtksn 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Unlike "The Pirates of Silicon Valley", "Jobs" was painful to watch and it was not only because it was a bad movie but because I've already red the biography by Isaacson.

It felt like somebody was lying to me to things I know that are not that way. It was like a creationist teaching me the evolution theory.

I don't claim that The Pirates of Silicon Valley is completely accurate but but Jobs(movie) was out of line. It's not just that it got many facts wrong or lacked very important events, it felt so wrong on many levels, especially the way characters were portrayed.

dchichkov 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Don't want to spoil iWoz for you, but wanted to mention that his father was pretty cool too. Allowed him to play with the right stuff that enabled him to build great things later in the future. And it is not like he was some kid-genius. It is just that when you have a full scale electronics lab at home, you tend to pick things up, even as a four year old.

As a side note, it is not the electronics lab specifically. It is keeping current with the state-of-the-art yourself, working with state-of-the-art stuff at home and letting your kids to fool around...

balbaugh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
There are new comments from Woz posted today on the original Google+ post's comment thread.


etfb 3 hours ago 3 replies      
The ideal name for a movie about Steve Wozniak, given how often he's misrepresented in the whole Jobs/Apple story: Woz/Not Woz.
tomelders 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought Ashton Kutcher was robbed of a career defining performance by a director and a writer who didn't give a shit about anything.
WalterBright 3 hours ago 3 replies      
It makes you wonder how wrong other movie biographies are.
danso 3 hours ago 3 replies      
> When I first met Jobs, I had EVERY Dylan album. I was a hardcore fan. I had bootlegs too. Jobs knew a few popular Dylan songs and related to the phrase "when you ain't got nothin' you got nothing to lose." I showed Jobs all my liner notes and lyrics and took him to record stores near San Jose State and Berkeley to buy Dylan bootlegs. I showed him brochures full of Dylan quotes and articles and photos. I brought Jobs into this Dylan world in a big way. I would go to the right post office at midnight, in Oakland, to buy tickets to a Dylan concert and would take Jobs with me. Jobs asked early on in our friendship whether Dylan or the Beatles were better. I had no Beatles album. We both concurred that Dylan was more important because he said important things and thoughtful things. So a Beatles fan was kind of a pop lamb to us. Why would they portray us in the movie as Dylan for Jobs and Beatles for me?

It's sad that besides being underappreciated for engineering feats that are, even today, awe-inspiring, Woz is often thought of as the stereotypical nerd with no interests outside of tech. He was just as passionate about music as Jobs was, and has a great sense of humor besides.

kevando 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I love when people write exactly how they talk.
yeukhon 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is probably a better documentary because his friends and co-workers are all in this documentary...


SeanLuke 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Astonishing how messed up Google+ is with regard to zooming in ... in Chrome.
jokoon 3 hours ago 4 replies      
I want a movie about bill gates
ghffgh 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
As he said:

"Who the fuck is Carms Perez?"

Is she just some random bitch?

OGC 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Who the fuck is Carms Perez?
Public speaking is tough speaking.io
346 points by FredericJ  5 days ago   106 comments top 39
nostromo 5 days ago 23 replies      
Here's two pieces of public speaking advice nobody will tell you about, but actually work.

1) Beta-blockers. Ask your doctor.

2) Alcohol. Obviously, be careful with this. :) But having a drink really will take the edge off. This works better when giving a toast as a best man than it does at work. It could probably work at a conference too.

Other than this, for a big talk or pitch, I just practice until I'm blue in the face, then I practice some more. If you experience a fight or flight response, your brain cannot think straight, but you can fall back on something that has become rote long enough for you to regain your footing.

After 30 seconds or so, your body will start to calm down, you just have to make it through that 30 seconds without pulling a Michael Bay. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tqRyzTvNKE

Ask HN: I was thinking the other day, someone should make an Oculus Rift app that is just a giant conference room of people staring at you. People with stage fright could use this to practice public speaking and hopefully improve.

beloch 5 days ago 3 replies      
Everyone probably has some good advice for public speaking. Here's my #1 piece:

Slow the fuck down!

You don't "win" at public speaking by getting more words in. In fact, you'll likely lose your audience by going a mile a minute. It makes perfect sense, but it's still hard to do. You can practice your talk in private a hundred times and it'll be X minutes. You can present your talk to colleagues and co-workers and it'll be X minutes. Then, when you get in front of a room full of strangers, the adrenaline will hit, you'll go into manic-caffeine-squirrel mode, and you'll blast it out in X/2 minutes! Some people deliberately make their talks too long, knowing they'll finish early if they don't. This is a mistake. They're just cramming too much material into the time allowed and will shell-shock their audience. Slow the fuck down!

The method by which you slow the fuck down is going to be somewhat personal. Different things work for different people. Personally, I do a lot better if I've gotten to know even just a few people in the room a tiny bit. If I can get a few people (hopefully in the front row) into the colleague-zone, I can focus on them during the talk and ignore the strangers.

bane 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a so-so to "good" public speaker. I used to be a terrible public speaker. I'll probably never be a great orator or Steve Jobs, but I'm pretty happy with my presentation skills. In group settings, I'm often the one chosen to give the public presentation.

Some things that improved me:

1) My university undergrad CS program required a semester of public speaking. Everybody hated it. It's probably one of the top 3 most important classes I took. If you're in a school that doesn't require it, take it as an elective.

2) I had a teaching job for a few years. Getting points across day in and day out, and trying to drag a class along of people at very different learning speeds teaches you very quickly how to project and enunciate so people can hear you well. Watching the faces of, and talking to, the people in the back rows becomes a very important speaking tool.

3) To deal with stage fright, I learned to mentally "not care" about giving the talk. It's hard to explain, it doesn't mean "not caring about doing a good job", it just means to adopt a viewpoint of detached apathy. Before I learned how to do this, even small stumbles would send me into a panic state which only made it worse ending with an avalanche of stutters and tied tongues. Detached apathy turns those little stumbles into such unimportant things that I don't even know they happened until I listen to a recording of my talk or see myself in a presentation.

4) Practice your speech. Because it's important to look up every once in a while in order to project. Practicing your speech helps you do that, instead of looking down into your note cards or your script. I don't practice it relentlessly like Steve Jobs or President Obama. 2 or 3 runs through is usually good enough for most of my purposes. But it helps you keep your focus on not caring.

5) Practice giving speeches. I haven't done it, but I've heard lots of good things about Oration societies like Toastmasters. In my case I got plenty of practice while teaching. But for those people who don't have that option, this is a great option. Nothing gets you used to the routine of giving speeches like giving speeches.

reuven 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have been speaking professionally for a number of years now. In a given week, I'm probably speaking 2-4 full days (minus lunch and breaks), teaching various programming languages and technologies. I also give talks at conferences and user group meetings.

I remember very, very well when I had to give a talk oh-so-many years ago, while doing a student internship at HP. I flubbed it big time, and left the room saying to myself and anyone who would listen that I disliked public speaking, and was bad at it.

I'm not quite sure when things changed, but I think that it had a lot to do with my attitude. Instead of worrying about whether people would like me or believe me, I instead concentrated on trying to teach people something they didn't already know, and have a good time in the process.

If I'm enjoying myself while speaking, then the odds are good that the people in the audience are enjoying themselves, too.

If I've learned something interesting, then the odds are also good that the people in the audience will find it interesting, too, and will be glad that I'm sharing it with them.

Again, I'm not sure when my attitude changed, but when I get up in front of an audience now, I feel like I'm there to have a good time. Of course, I don't want to flub things, and there are times when I worry about that more than others. But for the most part, it's a matter of thinking, "Hey, everyone here has the same goal -- to enjoy themselves and learn something."

As others have written, your enjoyment will be enhanced significantly if you prepare. I'd even say to over-prepare. You probably need to know twice as much as you will actually say in your talk, so that you can speak naturally and reasonably about the subject. Try to outline your talk as a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. In technical talks, the story will often be something like, "Here's a problem. Here's a solution. Here are some examples of the solution in use. Here's where the solution fails. Questions?"

Don't worry about your slides too much. Yes, they should be high contrast. Yes, they should be easy to read. But I think that people worry way way way too much about colors, fonts, and images, and not enough about the actual SPEAKING. You want people to be engaged with what you're saying, not with what's on your slides... and that's going to happen if you have interesting things to say.

Above all, be yourself. There are oh-so-many examples (in real life, and also in movies and on TV) where people are told that they should open with a joke, and so they tell a ridiculous joke that no one finds funny, including the presenter. If you're naturally funny, or are willing to have people not laugh at your jokes, then go for it. If you're a serious kind of person, then be serious. (Although it's always better if you can be somewhat silly, in my book.)

hawkharris 5 days ago 0 replies      
Public speaking became much easier to me once I recognized that all good speeches follow a concrete formula.

It's kind of like writing. You wouldn't pick up a pen and start scribbling a lengthy essay without considering its structure.

Similarly, effective public speakers follow a pattern not necessarily the same formula, but a formula. For example, Bill Clinton likes to...

1) Begin with a personal, visual anecdote about a specific person or small group. (e.g. A family walking miles to collect water.)

2) Relate the small example to broader theme. (e.g. Poverty is a big problem.)

3) Weaving that broader concept into the theme of the speech.

Another thing to remember is that while speeches share a structure with writing, they are not written articles. The biggest difference, I think, is that people are not capable of processing as much information.

While repeating yourself in a written piece is often bad form, most public speakers repeat key phrases to keep the audience focused. Listening is usually harder than sitting down to read.

saurik 5 days ago 1 reply      
To some extent the point I want to make I'd similar to the one made by reuven elsewhere in this thread, but I think it is still different (and maybe shorter? we'll see ;P) enough to still post. (OK, after writing, this failed at my goal of being shorter ;P.)

So, I also do a lot of conference speaking, albeit nowhere near as much as reuven. I remember in high school, public speaking was terrifying. By the end of college, I was giving one of the graduation speeches.

The difference was not me becoming better at making arguments or telling stories or being prepared or building slides or really anything about what I said on stage: the difference is that I felt at home there.

In essence, I had the fear of public speaking that many, if not most, people have. This fear is mostly about people watching you and judging you. You are concerned about where they are looking and what you are doing: it paralyzes you.

It had very little, however, to do with what you are doing in front of everyone: you could be on stage being told "eat breakfast as you would on a normal day" or simply a lunch meeting where you are standing due to lack of chairs while everyone else is sitting.

I don't feel, therefore, like helping people present is the solution. I will say that it might try to ease the person's anxiety enough to consider doing it once, but that isn't why they are afraid: I am not afraid of bungee jumping because I think I'm going to die due to the cord breaking, I'm afraid of bungee jumping because even looking at a photograph taken from a high-up location makes me curl into a ball.

These fears can be so bad that they aren't obviously fixable (phobia-level fears can be like that). In my case, I likely have acrophobia (heights), but as something of a "class clown" when I was much much younger, I can't ever claim to have had glossophobia (public speaking). My fear was mild, and I tackled it.

I want to be very clear, though, that there is a difference between "preparation" and "lack of fear": if you told me to go stand on stage right now in front of a thousand people, I'd be happy to do that. I would be willing to try to entertain them. I might fail, but I don't mind anymore.

I might thereby recommend more doing something structured that tales away all of the "things you can do wrong" variables entirely before bothering with trying to prepare those away: take an acting class. You are told exactly what to say, you have a director guiding your movements, and on the show day a perfect performance can be identical to the previous day. You don't have to worry if what you are saying sounds stupid: you have no choice in what to say.

(That said, I wouldn't "recommend" it strongly, as I think a lot of these shortcuts in hindsight by people who have defeated something others find hard are missing the point of what made it work for them: that you probably just need to be doing it, constantly, for long enough, to make it easy. This is similar to the "monad tutorial fallacy" in my mind.)

Then, when your fear of being in front of people is gone, maybe the preparation isn't even that big of a deal: if you are comfortable, the audience will be comfortable, and you can "get away with" a lot more on stage.

I mean, preparation is great, but "public speaking is tough" is not because "writing slides is tough" or "answering questions is tough", it's simply tough because "public anything is tough"... you answer questions every day in the hallway: you don't need more preparation to do that on stage, you just need less fear (which again: isn't easy).

ctdonath 5 days ago 1 reply      
As an introvert, I have no problem talking in front of a large group. I thrive on one-on-one conversations where each person has an opportunity to talk thru long complex interesting thoughts without interruption. Speaking in front of a large group is exactly that: I get to talk at length on a favorite topic, at whatever level of detail I choose, to someone who is interested in what I'm saying and will not interrupt; that I'm doing this with 10,000 individuals at once is just being efficient about it.

Helps that I've decided that if I'm going to be wrong, I'm going to be definitively wrong.

EliRivers 5 days ago 1 reply      
As someone in your audience, I beg you, please do not tell me what you're going to tell me, then tell me, then tell me what you just told me.
chops 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've given a handful of talks at miscellaneous user groups ranging from 5 minute lightning demos to one way-too-long-but-there-is-too-much-to-cover-in-45-minutes talk about Erlang types (I felt bad it was so long).

While I'm the last guy to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation, and I break out in cold sweats preparing to cold-call prospects for my business, I've always had this thing about public performing, whether it be speaking, playing and instrument, or even (gasp) singing.

I'm not sure of the psychology of it all, but it feels like the pressure of presenting, combined with a strong fear of being viewed a failure gives way to a certain comfort zone in presenting. And once up there for a minute or two, I notice that I quickly find myself firing on all cylinders (probably from the adrenaline), and then everything from then on becomes quite natural for me (even if my natural presentation style comes across a little neurotic).

Anyway, that's my anecdotal contribution to the public speaking discussion.

bedhead 5 days ago 1 reply      
I had never spoken publicly, as in a featured speaker in front of a large gathering of strangers. I had spoken in front of everyone at my old company (80 people) but that was the closest I came to public speaking, and since I knew everyone it didn't count. I remember freshman year of high school having my stomach in knots when teachers would call on me. I just had that nervous personality. Want to know how nervous I'd get in public with everyone's attention on me? I almost fainted at my wedding - at the altar. The priest had to cut the ceremony in half to accommodate me. To this day people make fun of me for it (I feel bad for my wife).

A couple months ago, I surprisingly got asked to be a speaker at a pretty large and prestigious conference in town. It was at a large venue with over 1,000 attendees, some of whom are important to impress for various reasons. It was a great opportunity so I accepted, knowing that this could be a problem.

Anyway, I rehearsed my 10 minute speech ad nauseum, I could do it in my sleep. Every little last verbal tic, joke, everything. I knew I'd still be nervous. I wanted to be so good that I could do it on autopilot and hopefully be more confident. I got on stage, lights shining brightly, and took a seat as the host read a brief introduction about me. While he was doing this, I was so nervous that I thought I was either going to vomit or faint, or some horrible combination of the two. I was literally telling myself not to puke over and over again. My stomach was tossing and my head was spinning...I could barely breathe.

He finishes his intro and I start my talk, visibly nervous. Then a funny thing happened. About 20 seconds in, something clicked and I just thought to myself, "Why are you nervous? You know this stuff cold. You got this." And wouldn't you know it, from there on out I killed it. I dunno, it was weird, I instantly became as relaxed as I am with my friends and delivered a great speech. I had tons of great jokes, kept everyone really engaged, and I think even delivered an interesting idea to the audience. By the time it was over I was actually disappointed it was over since I was having so much fun. I got tons of superlative-filled compliments afterwards and was really in shock about it all.

I dont know what the moral is. Just have fun I guess. Know what you're talking about and the rest will sort itself out.

drblast 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't think of it as public speaking, think of it as a performance.

You wouldn't go try to perform a play without scripting it and memorizing your script first, nor should you do that with your presentation. Once you do that you can ad-lib and it will seem natural. Even the off-the-cuff jokes aren't really off-the-cuff.

And go twice as slow as you think you should, and pause a lot. When people get nervous they talk faster and don't realize it. If you're nervous your perception of time will change and small pauses seem like an eternity. Slow down and force yourself to break for five seconds between "paragraphs" and you'll be way ahead of most people.

Theodores 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just wing it. Seriously.

Why is it that so few schools teach children how to speak in public?

It is not difficult, all you need is a debating society.

I am fortunate enough to have gone to a school where the debating society was the thing to do. Even on a cold winter with snow outside two hundred or so of the thousand at the school would show up, of their own accord and without anyone telling they had to go. To be voted by your peers onto the committee for the debating society was the ultimate in status. Our debating society made public speaking a fun thing to do.

As well as being able to propose/oppose a motion from the stage with a self-prepared speech it was also possible to learn how to listen, ask questions from the floor and respond to points made.

So, when I left school, I had a head start. I had spoken in front of a crowd on two hundred or so occasions from a very safe sandbox. In my adult life this experience has been invaluable. I know about what happens if one is not totally prepared. I know what happens if one is over prepared - i.e. reading instead of talking. I know about posture and how to make meaningful eye contact with a sea of faces. However, most importantly, I knew that public speaking was a desirable thing to do, a privilege.

If anyone reading this has kids and their kids are not involved in a school debating society, think about it. Get together with the school and a few teachers and sell them the idea of a debating society. Get someone charismatic - a head teacher who has to present in front of all the kids - to make the debating society the most important thing he/she does. Your local posh school will have a debating society, visit them, learn how they do it and steal their procedures and organisational structure.

Then, if you are lucky and the school debating society kicks off and becomes the thing to do, your child should grow up to be a darned good public speaker. What they will learn from that will help them no end. If they also end up knowing a subject inside and out at some stage of their adult life they should be able to literally wing it without having to use any of the silly suggestions presented on this thread (betablockers - you must be kidding!!!).

yodsanklai 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to be really scared when i had to give "important" talks, especially in English which isn't my native language. I was so anxious that I couldn't even work the days before. I remember my first professional talk. My mouth was so dry that talking was difficult. (tip to beginners: take a bottle of water).

Interestingly, I had much less problems when I was presenting somebody else's work.

The thing that really helped me was benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax). I took them a few days before until the day of the talk and I felt much much better. I know these drugs get a bad press, but in my case, they really helped. The side effets is that they tend to make you sleepy, but it didn't really affected me.

Now, I'm certainly not a great speaker, but I don't have any problems with public speaking.

bigd 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've a talk in 30'.

Another suggestion should be "do not read suggestions on how to do talks right before giving one".

after a life in academia, what I usually suggest is:like your topic, keep it easy, and reharse, reharse, reharse.

julienchastang 5 days ago 0 replies      
Public speaking has caused a great deal of distress, panic, and anxiety for me in the past. To remedy this situation, I joined a local Toastmasters club. They are located literally all over the world, and there is probably one in your area. I cannot say enough good things about Toastmasters. Through frequent, repeated public speaking exposure, over time, you become desensitized so you don't feel as panicked. And your speaking skills improve as you have to give speeches on a regular basis. I completely disagree with comments that suggest this problem can be solved through drugs or alcohol. I had ONE stiff drink before an important talk, and I completely hated the feeling while I was speaking.
Codhisattva 5 days ago 4 replies      
Practice at Toastmasters meetings.
pmiller2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Between grad school (teaching, seminar talks, etc) and other occasions, I've spoken in front of groups of 3-300 people hundreds of times. I have no idea if I'm all that good at it, but at least I'm comfortable with it. :-)

The biggest trick for me is realizing that talking in front of a group is different from talking to one person, but talking in front of a small group is not that different from talking in front of a medium or large group. Under 5 or so people is still pretty much an intimate/conversational atmosphere in my experience, but going from 5 or 10 up to 50, 100, or 300 is pretty much all the same. The only real difference is the amount and type of projection equipment involved.

Depending on the specific scenario, there are other things I try to keep in mind (e.g. I found that between 0.5 and 1.5 slides per minute worked well for a seminar talk in grad school), but abstracting away the size of the audience in my mind is the one that's paid me the biggest returns in reduced anxiety. Now if I just had a way to make sure the A/V equipment always worked, I could make a crapload of money. ;)

pessimizer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Public speaking terrifies me. I seem to do alright if I follow five rules:

1. Don't bail and run out of the room screaming.

2. Don't ramble. Don't leave your outline for an anecdote or further explanation - trust your outline to be good. If you have to meander because you did your outline at the last minute and you know it kinda sucks, if you then meander while meandering, you've lost the game and no one remembers what you were talking about.

3. Don't "umm," "right," or "ok." before and after anything you say.

4. Don't laugh at your own jokes (at least don't do it before you finish getting them out.)

5. Remember that you don't look as nervous as you feel.

alan_cx 5 days ago 1 reply      
I assume there are different reasons for people fearing public speaking. But, FWIW, my thing is to really and fully know the subject you are talking about. For me, the nervousness comes from the fear of being found out in some way. So, I find that if I know my subject, Im quite happy to waffle on to who ever wants to listen, but if I know or think the audience might know more than me and be able to some how show me up to be some sort of fraud, Im a bag of nerves.

I dont know if that works for anyone else, but my theory is that the nerves come for the fear of somehow looking a fool, and that becomes less likely the more you know about what you are talking about.

anildigital 5 days ago 0 replies      
treenyc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have enzyme issue with Alcohol, but I believe that is a nice trick.

From personal experience, and from someone who had tremendous problem with public speaking to someone who performed very well at a toast master event in NYC without any preparation. I can say quite a few things on the subject.

One thing is for sure. We are all afraid of other people. No matter who we are. It is just that fear get expressed in different ways. Some people are being shy and passive, while some are being aggressive and over-confident. Until we discover who we really are. Using tricks (power point) and strategies (drink alcohol/weed) will not take us far.

What made the most difference in my process is some ontological training like this leadership course. The course doesn't really say that it will help you with public speaking. Just that you will leave the course

"Being a Leader and Exercise Leadership Effectively as your own natural Self-Expression"

Nothing more, nothing less.

However, the course has nice side-effects, like public speaking.

The course is NOT cheap, but I consider it worth more than my college degree. Next one is at Singapore. FYI, I have no financial tight to the course or University.


jccalhoun 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone that has and is teaching public speaking my number one tip: sound like you care.

I can't tell you how many terrible speeches I've sat through where the person was saying "this is really important and means the world to me" but sounded like they didn't care at all.

Number two: don't write out ever word of your speech. It is public speaking not public reading. Being able to read a text out loud without sounding like you are reading is a skill and you should learn to speak from notes/outlines first because that is easier to sound like you are talking with us rather than at us.

wturner 5 days ago 0 replies      
The easiest way to speak publicly is to actually believe in what you're doing and talking about. The audience then becomes kind of like an omnipresent pressure that keeps you going.

If you aren't 'locked into' what your talking about then nothing will save you. I know from personal experience.

I also heard a talk that if you imagine the audience as 'prey' such as small rabbits or chickens then it becomes easier as it takes power away from the flight or fight aspect.

AhtiK 5 days ago 0 replies      
Exhale as deeply as possible and keep it this way as long as you can. After that breathing restores with first few rapid big inhales. Restarting your breathing this way is also restarting your brain in a way so the thinking becomes calm. Works every time.

Another tip is to eat 1-2 bananas half an hour before the event and maybe a glass of fresh orange juice. Banana works as a natural beta blocker reducing anxiety. While on stage, plain water, no juices..

chaz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Plant your feet and square your shoulders to the audience. Walking around is ok, too. But slouching and shifting your weight from left to right can hurt your confidence as well as hurt the way your confidence is projected. You'll develop your own more natural style over time.
city41 5 days ago 0 replies      
blatant plug: I'm working on a website aimed at increasing social skills and one "track" of the site will be for improving public speaking -- http://metamorf.us
mebassett 5 days ago 1 reply      
Say someone is a mediocre-to-decent public speaker already. How does one "level up" to be a really great public speaker? I've thought about a speech coach or class, but I don't know anyone who has had any success with this who could recommend where to find a good one.
re_todd 5 days ago 0 replies      
I went to a doctor, and he gave me beta blockers, which helped a lot.

Another thing that helped is reading forums like this where many people admit how nervous they are. In speech class, everyone seemed to do relatively well, so I was under the impression that I was the only person in the world that gets nervous during a speech. Just knowing that other people get nervous has helped me handle it better.

You can also take your contacts out or glasses off so you cannot see people clearly, which also helps a little.

I've also noticed that my anxiety attacks usually happen before the speech, not usually during it, and they only last a few minutes. Knowing that they will not last forever has also helped me.

eflowers 5 days ago 0 replies      
What I've learned is that 20 minutes in, you're hour is up.
aniketpant 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody mentioned Speak Up. It's a wonderful community of people where everyone helps each other out in planning and preparing for talks. It's been slightly inactive recently, but every mail gets an assured response.

Link: http://speakup.io/

cmbaus 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here are couple ideas I've written on the topic: http://baus.net/i-don%27t-like-public-speaking/

I did quite a bit of public speaking in the past couple years and it gets easier over time. I think the best advice is prepare, prepare, prepare.

peteri 4 days ago 0 replies      
For talks to user groups where I'm generating new slide decks and demos one piece of advice I was given was reckon on around 1 hour of prep for each minute of speaking time. The successful stuff that I've done seemed to match this.

Also for a one hour time slot you'll probably actually want around 40 minutes of material allowing time for introductions and a Q&A session at the end.

janogonzalez 5 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug, here it is my own advice regarding conference speaking: http://janogonzalez.com/2013/12/02/conference-speaking-how-t...
gumby 5 days ago 1 reply      
To me there are different scales of public speaking or presenting.

I actually have no problem presenting to 500 people (the largest audience I've had): I just talk, and try to make some eye contact. There are always a few friendly faces.

Presenting to up to a dozen people is no problem for me: I can adapt (speed up / slow down, skip over stuff, dive deep, repeat, whatever) depending on how the people react.

But there's an excluded valley of somewhere between one and three dozen. I feel weird just presenting as I would to 500 people, yet it's too big to get the intimate preso treatment. When I have presented to a group this size it has almost always fallen flat.

Kerrick 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another great resource: We Are All Awesome! http://weareallaweso.me/
ismaelc 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you have something exciting to talk about, public speaking is not such a chore (a joy in fact). The challenge is having content that's easy to make exciting.

If that's not possible for you, then try to get excited of the fact that you're out there to excite the hell out of something mundane. Surprise your audience.

Being in that state of mind alone should knock out the jitters.

crimsonalucard 5 days ago 0 replies      
The only way a phobia can be conquered, if it can be conquered at all, is through repeated exposure.
hakanson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Where can I submit a pull request to remove the F-word from these otherwise great tips, or do I need to fork. One could consider "dropping the F-Bomb" against many conferences code of conduct pertaining to "harassment includes offensive verbal comments." Also, as we try and mentor more youth to code, including school age girls, is this the persona we ware marketing?
gre 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tell them what you are about to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them.
Net neutrality is half-dead: Court strikes down FCCs anti-blocking rules arstechnica.com
324 points by shawndumas  5 days ago   126 comments top 23
mjmahone17 5 days ago 1 reply      
What the court is saying is that, if the FCC refuses to classify broadband providers as common carriers, then, because they neither receive the same protections as common carriers nor have the same responsibilities, they can't be regulated as if they were common carriers.

The FCC could change their rules to treat broadband suppliers as common carriers. However, that's something that big-name broadband providers don't seem to want, as it would reduce their freedom of operations.

saalweachter 5 days ago 7 replies      
Note that the DC Court of Appeals is the one that the Filibuster Crisis was all about. According to the Wikipedia, it still(!) has three vacancies, and the Senate Republicans have spent the last ~N months preventing any of the Obama administrations nominees from being confirmed to the Court.

These things matter.

loup-vaillant 4 days ago 1 reply      
We could make all the laws we want about Net Neutrality, it wouldn't change the fundamental flaw that made this problem possible in the first place: too much centralization.

I hear that the US, there are only 2 ISPs: one of the big 2, or the little local one. In France, we have about 4. At the other end, we have Google, Amazon, but most notably we have YouTube and Netflix.

Clearly the market is not efficient. Why do we have so big players in the first place? Why do we tend to have only the big players?

Because of the infrastructure. In the way the internet is distributed, artificial economies of scale and barriers to entry favour the big ISPs (this is clearly the case in France, I suppose the US is the same). And, we have asymmetric bandwidth, which kills peer to peer exchanges. If people were allowed to host servers at home, there would be no need for things such as YouTube, Blogger, or Facebook (search engine are still a thorny problem, though).

If we got rid of this over-centralization, it would be harder to discriminate your bandwidth in the first place. Net Neutrality would be the default, instead of something we have to fight for.

sologoub 5 days ago 2 replies      
Definitions from US Code Title 47:

"(1) Advanced communications servicesThe term advanced communications services means(A) interconnected VoIP service;(B) non-interconnected VoIP service;(C) electronic messaging service; and(D) interoperable video conferencing service."

"(11) Common carrierThe term common carrier or carrier means any person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio or interstate or foreign radio transmission of energy, except where reference is made to common carriers not subject to this chapter; but a person engaged in radio broadcasting shall not, insofar as such person is so engaged, be deemed a common carrier."

"(24) Information serviceThe term information service means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications system or the management of a telecommunications service."

I'm not a lawyer, but consider myself well grounded in tech and telecom, but reading these definitions I'm kind of at a loss. In common law, my understanding is that a "common carrier" is someone that makes transport services available to the public. These can be physical, such as shipping a crate, or technological (telecom) in nature. By that inference, transporting packets of information is essentially same as transporting normal packages.

Unfortunately, the "by wire or radio or interstate or foreign radio transmission of energy" is so period-specific that one could argue that it doesn't apply and the (24) Information Services is so broad and vague, it could practically be applied to anything.

One interesting bit, which makes me think that there is hope, is the definition of advanced communications, that include both VoIP and messaging services. Sadly, their definitions are not that broad...

gdubs 5 days ago 1 reply      
My knowledge of Anti-Trust laws dates back to elementary school, but how is it legal for the companies that maintain the infrastructure to be in the content game as well, when other content providers can't compete on favorable pricing for bandwidth?
jacobheller 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the full text of the opinion on Casetext: https://www.casetext.com/case/verizon-v-fcc-3

We'll be getting some leading net neutrality scholars and lawyers to annotate the doc, so check back later today for interesting, in-depth analysis along-side the key passages in the case.

adricnet 5 days ago 0 replies      
So, the court agrees with many others that the FCC needs to re-label cable companies as communication common carriers before regulating them as common carriers. I guess that's good?

Is it a difficult thing technically or only politically for the FCC to change their minds / admit they did this wrong in the first place?

What is the downside of treating the cable networks as communications media?

There are some thoughts on that here, though note the source: http://www.attpublicpolicy.com/government-policy/the-fcc-hav... .

declan 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is a duplicate of another thread started an hour earlier: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7057495
anExcitedBeast 4 days ago 1 reply      
I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I think we need to reconsider accepting precedent that we're OK with the US government regulating the Internet (without legislation, no less). With the concern about surveillance, copyright abuse, DMCA/Computer Fraud and Abuse Act abuse, and content regulation (in the case of the UK and China), is this really the solution we're looking for? Neutrality is a real problem, but this seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
pasbesoin 5 days ago 2 replies      
It is obvious that they are, de facto, common carriers.

Give up the lobbyist payola, reclassify them, and introduce some real competition to my now more frequent than annual Crapcast price bumps (or significant humps, as it were).

(And in my case, this is primarily for Internet, although basic cable comes along as a quasi-freebie -- it costs, but then a discount on the combined package largely or totally negates that cost.)

Otherwise, you can bet I'm not voting for either major party, next time around.

As a consumer, I find that the only way to defeat this bullshit, is to stop paying for it. If I had an alternative to Crapcast in my neighborhood, I'd take it. (I don't count AT&T, because for a lonnngggg time they refused to deploy high speed Internet here, and because their policies and behaviour are just as bad. As well, they've personally screwed me in a prior location, as I've commented before.)

kolbe 5 days ago 2 replies      
Intuitively, I would have thought that this would be horrible news for content providers/distributors, and great news for wireless carriers. However, today, Google, Facebook, Amazon &etc are flying, while Verizon and AT&T are falling.

Does anyone in the industry know what this is all about, and what importance this decision really has on the future of mobile?

shmerl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why can't they start classifying ISPs like common carriers?
unethical_ban 5 days ago 0 replies      
Am I experiencing deja-vu? I fee like many of these comments (and their responses!) are exact reposts from earlier submissions about this very same topic.

  "The court is saying the FCC needs to reclassify providers"    "The Republicans are holding up nominations"    
so on so forth.

angersock 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone who is interested in a really good overview of 20th century telco policy should read The Master Switch by Tim Wu (http://www.amazon.com/The-Master-Switch-Information-Empires/...).

It goes over the transition from telegraph to telephone to internet, talks about the rise of media conglomerates, and basically explains how we're in the mess we're in today. Quite an enjoyable read, especially when learning about the differences between old and new styles of monopolies.

wahsd 5 days ago 0 replies      
What I wish would happen is that organizational forces were focused on breaking up ISP monopolies over the pipes. Essentially, building a firewall between infrastructure and content. It would create a market...remember that thing we think controls America's destiny...that would lead to faster bandwidth and also ISPs that offer free, open, and protected services.
tomrod 5 days ago 0 replies      
The economist in me is happy, as this allows for greater investment incentives on the part of ISPs.

The FLOSS advocate in me is sad, as this is a compromise that I don't want to see go away.

hrjet 4 days ago 1 reply      
How much should the rest of the world care about this?

If a web service is hosted, say, in Europe and is being consumed by a customer also in Europe, will they be affected? AFAICT, they shouldn't.

the_watcher 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a good solution for this argument? I find myself wildly sympathetic to both sides of it. Is there any way to decentralize internet access in the future (something like what the utopian ideal of solar powering your home would be for electricity)?
VladRussian2 5 days ago 0 replies      
>In its ruling against the FCCs rules, the court said that such restrictions are not needed in part because consumers have a choice in which ISP they use.

in theory vs. in practice

nitrobeast 5 days ago 0 replies      
Quote from the linked article, "(net neutrality rules) forbid ISPs from blocking services or charging content providers for access to the network." But that is confusing. ISPs are already charging content providers for access to the network. Netflix and Google need to pay for their bandwidth.

Actually, web neutrality means the ISPs should treat all data in their network equally.

draggnar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps this means the other shoe will fall. Will local regulations making it easy for municipalities or other actors to set up their own ISPs?
Grovara123 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this not a bigger deal?
pearjuice 5 days ago 1 reply      
How can something or someone be half-dead? Life is a binary thing, you are either YES (1) alive or NO (0) dead. I fail to comprehend how any respectable (tech) journalist would call something "half-dead". It implies there is a state between being alive and death when this is clearly not the case.
Success at Work, Failure at Home a16z.com
323 points by sethbannon  1 day ago   163 comments top 32
thrownaway2424 1 day ago 12 replies      
So what I'm reading here is why CEOs shouldn't go to the office on weekends and check their mail at dinner. What's glaringly absent from the second part of this article is not asking the engineers to come in on weekends, either. Those guys have families and their negligible equity certainly doesn't justify 80-hour weeks. It sounds to me like the author would rather have gone home on weekends while the engineers stayed at the office.
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 5 replies      
I very clearly remember the week this clicked in my brain. Being very successful, really crushing it, and whining to my wife that the company should give more vacation, and her reminding me that I had been at work on Christmas Eve. My whole perspective collapsed around that instant. I could see the hit in career path I was going to take by changing my perspective, but I decided to do it anyway. And I have always been glad I made that choice.

The challenge is there will always be people who are willing (either consciously or unconsciously) to throw away their family and personal relationships in order to pursue success in their career, and it is difficult, if not impossible to compete against them with the 'balanced life' bit set.

coffeemug 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm facing many of the challenges Scott is talking about. I churned through the first part of the essay and thought "yes! yes! yes, yes, let's get to the solution!" But the second part of the essay falls short for me.

It's a bit like the depression and the broken hand cartoon[1]. I can't disconnect. I know I'm supposed to turn off my phone, do household chores, and take my wife out to a nice dinner. I know taking the time to do these things makes me happier and more productive. It's not that I don't know this, it's that actually doing it requires enormous discipline, but after spending 80 hours a week slowly changing reality by a sheer force of will, I have no more willpower left for anything else.

I also know I don't have to feel like I'm changing reality by a sheer force of will, and in fact, feeling this way is a sign that I have a lot to learn about leadership and about life. But that's not something I can just decide to change either.

The problem is very real. The solution, at least for me, is as elusive as ever.

[1] http://www.akimbocomics.com/?p=573

tikhonj 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is an example of a problem I see with a lot of hard-working cultures like startups. You're always optimizing your productivity locally.

It's easy to just say "oh, I'll work harder now" because, simply, you'll get more done than you would otherwise. Today will be more productive. Most importantly, the increased productivity is viscerally obvious.

But working too much, making sacrifices at home, having problems with your family, not having enough breaks--all that saps your productivity on a global state. Sure, at any given day, you will accomplish more by working 12 hours than 8. But, over time, you will start accomplishing less per hour, largely without noticing it. And while working longer will still optimize locally, you will actually become significantly less productive overall!

This is not a character flaw or anything like that. It's just a result of the fact that local improvements are so much easier to see and understand than global trends. So to counter it, you have to think ahead of time and ideally keep some metrics to measure this explicitly. (Of course, I'm not sure what such metrics would be--measuring productivity is extremely tricky.)

There's a particular study that gets linked that found working a single 60-hour week is an immediate improvement, but working consistent 60-hour weeks is actually strictly worse than mostly sticking to 40. But it's so easy to trick yourself into thinking that you have to work those 60 hours because you need to finish more now. It's definitely something you should watch out for.

EDIT: http://legacy.igda.org/why-crunch-modes-doesnt-work-six-less... is the article I was thinking about.

steven2012 1 day ago 3 replies      
My wife and I are going through this right now. My wife has a senior director position in a multi-billion dollar financial company, and I am a programmer at a startup. We just had a child several months ago, and it's been very hard trying to balance work and life. It's actually the hardest thing we've both had to do in our lives.

Her job is a minimum of 60-hrs per week, but luckily I'm able to limit my work to 40-hrs per week, my company has been incredibly supportive. But truth-be-told my productivity has been affected by at least 50% over these past few months, especially after my wife and I both went back to work. There's been a lot of guilt from both our ends, due to how much slips through the crack both at work and at home because of trying to raise our kid as best as we can.

The key, I hope, is to keep focused as a team, meaning we try to pick each other's slack with no resentment. It's tough living and raising a family in Silicon Valley, due to the demands of work, and given how expensive things like houses in decent areas are.

reuven 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was working at HP, just after graduating from college, the CEO (Lew Platt) announced that he would be stressing work-life balance among employees. He specifically said that he wanted to accommodate working mothers, and especially single-parent families. He officially blessed the idea of job sharing (such that two people could each have a part-time job) and flexible hours, to help in that way.

The particularly poignant part of this story was that he learned the importance of such flexibility the hard way: His wife died from cancer, and he was left taking care of his children by himself. Suddenly, he realized how much work it was to raise children, and he decided that HP should try to take into account people's personal needs, such that they could be with their families and have jobs.

I don't know how deep those changes really went, and I don't know how many of them have continued until today. But those announcements and attempts to help people balance their personal and professional lives have stayed with me for about two decades.

Sure, I work crazy hours (as a freelancer, and also trying to finish a PhD) -- but part of the reason I work late at night is because I value spending time with my wife and children. I cringe when I see startups (and other companies) expecting people, explicitly or implicitly, to sacrifice their family time for the sake of the company except in unusual circumstances. And yet, there's no doubt that for many of these companies, success often does demand more than a simple, 40-hour week.

I'm glad that the original author realizes now that he could and should have spent more time with his family. But I do wonder if he is willing to tell the people working at his startups, "Hey, that program can be debugged tomorrow. Go home and spend time with your children. Software can wait, but they can't."

nailer 1 day ago 6 replies      
> And that part about sitting on my ass in front of the TV with a cocktail? This ran counter to all of her efforts to teach the kids about pitching in as a family. The message of everyone helping to cook, clean, and be responsible for the household fell completely flat when daddy wouldnt so much as take out the trash or change a light bulb.

Take out the trash and change a lightbulb by all means, but seriously if you're providing for your family, it counts.

If his children don't think he's pitching in by paying the rent /mortgage, then something's very wrong.

Theodores 1 day ago 2 replies      
One thing you can do at home is the cooking (including buying the food and the washing up). It is not hard to do if it is something you always do.

Serve up a great meal prepared from actual ingredients and enjoy eating it - plus the conversation that goes with it. If you can do this then you are likely to succeed at home.

If you can make cooking something you enjoy then that becomes an 'inline hobby', i.e. something to care about, enjoy and look forward to doing. It does not need extra time. You can feel good about yourself for doing it if what you serve is well appreciated. But you have to do it as soon as you get in, put your feet up, watch teevee, allow an hour to pass and it all goes wrong.

undershirt 1 day ago 2 replies      
I want to relate this to Richard Branson's family advice to Elon Musk sprinkled throughout a recent Google Hangout[1].

> I hope he can find some wonderful people to help him. He's got five children at home, all boys... he just, uh, he needs to... uh, yeah, I hope you can find lots of time. You just got to find lots of people to help you.

I can't imagine the kind of family life Elon Musk can have if he has five boys while running two companies. He advises young entrepreneurs to work 70-80 hour weeks as a clear no-brainer way to get ahead. Hearing the hesitation in Richard Branson's voice in the quote above says a lot about this I think.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy9y_YSpYxA&feature=share&t=5...

johnrob 1 day ago 2 replies      
Key question: did Ironport succeed in spite of his family sacrifice, or because of it? It's not fair to recommend spending more time with the family without addressing what the consequences would have been.
Myrmornis 1 day ago 2 replies      
I dare say I'll get voted down for not being constructive, but I find the self-help entrepreneurship work-life balance stuff on here really self-involved and kind of tasteless.
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I pretty much am thankful a few times a week that I've never had children. It looks like most of his difficulties at home were due to child rearing tasks; it would otherwise be easy to spend money on things like the yard and housecleaning and laundry, and if spending time with your wife isn't enjoyable in itself, you are doing it wrong.

I guess I should be glad at least some people have children, though.

Spooky23 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've learned to define success as the whole package -- a brilliant career that results to me coming home to an empty house or a house full of people who resent me is not success.

I try make work a 40-hour a week thing, which is often a losing battle. But you need to try and make those 40 hours as productive as humanly possible.

rcjordan 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's easy to write about what you should have done after you've made it through the gauntlet.
PStamatiou 1 day ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed this post - reminds me of something i wrote last year on the same subject http://paulstamatiou.com/simplify/
michaelochurch 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems like he felt a need to put in long hours as some sort of morale-improving service, but he actually damaged the team by doing so.

Bosses should limit themselves to 8 hours in the office, except during times of crisis (and, even in a startup, to be constantly in crisis mode is bad management). If the work calls for more, do it from home. Why? Because if the CEO works 12 hours per day, the VPs are going to feel a need to work 13, the middle managers work 14, and the grunts have to work 15. Now you have everyone working an inefficient long day, and less is getting done (and less reliably) than if people were working sane hours.

You should lead by being available when people need you (which is not the same thing as being a doormat; your willingness to drop other things or sacrifice must be appropriate to the level of the need) but putting in mindless face time just sets a bad example. Low-level investment bankers have to suffer long face time, but CEOs? If your company is going to be a sweatshop where people feel like they need to work 15 hour days or will lose face/status, then what's the point of building it?

Startups don't change our biology or remove the fact that virtually no one can work efficiently beyond about 55 hours per week for more than a couple weeks. (That number includes commuting, housework, errands, and assorted nonsense.)

zendev 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can relate to this.

I am a notoriously bad multi-tasker and when I'm concentrating on a project I had a really hard time paying any attention to my girlfriend. I also found it harder and harder to relate to the struggles that other people have in a normal life. Trying to add something significant to the world comes at a cost: I might not ever be able to have a normal relationship.

bbwharris 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you have children and a career, then you have two jobs. Sorry, you don't get a "break", and you shouldn't expect to "unwind".

This isn't going to be popular, but its selfish as hell to think that you "deserve" something because of all the hard work you are doing. You don't. The universe is indifferent and life isn't fair.

The only thing you can do is make every moment count and do the things that make you happy. If you are feeling the need for a cocktail and an hour in front of the TV, then I'm going to say that you aren't happy.

whyme 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of car ownership... When you ask people if they like their car, most will say yes they do; that is until they decide to get a new one. It's then that they quickly come up with a large con list to warrant an upgrade. Afterwards, they will almost always say that last car was never any good. After all look at the current car vs. the con list of the last. The thing is, they'll be doing this again with their new car until they outgrow it or find problems with it too.

And my point is: Hindsight is always 20/20 when your current perspective conveniently matches the narrative for your newly made situation.

mchusma 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks Scott. Great post, really resonated with me as a recently (successfully) exited founder. You were the most helpful, empathetic, & constructive "No" I got from a VC.
andyl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Letting down his Harvard MBA spouse.

Yeah I can relate to that.


FrankenPC 1 day ago 0 replies      
From my observations of having worked around many CEO's is that the job, by its very nature demands total dedication. I believe that attempting to start a family and a funded company at the same time is a sign of a lack of objectivity. It's as if the individual actually believes they can harbor two mistresses at the same time. It's simply not a wise idea. Just an observation. Not trying to make anyone out to be the bad guy.
QuantumGood 21 hours ago 0 replies      
A simple tip is to look for activities that regenerate, rather than medicate. "Sitting with a cocktail" isn't a solution to anything, it's treading water at best. A classic regeneration activity for couples is dancing. Meditation is another great choice, but isn't for everyone.
midas007 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen plenty of startup CEOs that add value and some that subtract value.

The ones that subtract value just push to meet arbitrary deadlines and don't pitch in.

The ones that add value actively remove burdens (go get lunch) and look to keep people from burning out (send people home or off to the beach).

Jimega36 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a founder, it appears as if our startup's success or failure depends on us cofounders. This drives me to work insane hours as some sort of ego self rationalization tells me that more work will make it succeed.

In general I have seen the work/result correlation hold true. And yet, we all know how luck plays its role. I personally like to think some events are meant to happen or not. Especially when it goes bad - when my startup lost a client in the early days for example it was extremely tough... but we learned so much that the next bigger one went well. Would working more hours have changed anything, I doubt it, so there is more to it than work.

More than this, working many hours is sometimes just a way to reduce anxiety of success or failure, at least for me. What's tricky is understanding which hours not to do, how to make more of the ones I do, and being confident that cutting the hours won't affect the bigger picture output too much. Easier said than done.

gcb0 1 day ago 0 replies      
"All I do is talk to people all day long and so at home, Id really prefer not to talk much"

interesting how people feels different about that. I am the same as the author. But my significant other is the opposite. She spends the day talking, giving lectures, and when she gets home, she wants to talk even more, with someone that responds, because all she does is talk to people that just listen the whole day. Turns out to be a good match. we get home, she talks, I listen.

clubhi 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This guy seems like a total piece of shit. He gives little respect to his family or his employees.
shenoybr 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my view, this applies not just to CEOs, but other people too. I've seen many around me and myself included, concentrate work so hard to achieve what we thought was best for ourselves and to keep our family happy. However, it would take a toll that our mislabeled 'needy' other halves would bear the brunt off. Switching off from work is absolutely necessary to keep a work life balance going and its necessary to keep in mind that there are other things that are just as important, like our spouses, family and our health, without which all the hard work is essentially meaningless. I personally tell myself at the end of the day that the work never ends, there is always something to do, and it can wait for tomorrow.
lilpirate 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Urges me to startup before all the relationships kick in my life! Being young certainly helps.
knice 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like I read a story like this several times each month. It is good advice. We all know it deep down. Yet the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" culture of constant work persists. How do we change that? I ask honestly as someone who is reformed. It took nearly losing my marriage for me to establish balance in my life and work. How do we set up an enduring culture of respect for actual balance?
tdurden 1 day ago 1 reply      
> When we started pulling consistent coding weekends, we brought in the entire management team to serve the engineers: We brought them food, washed their cars, got oil changes, took in their dry cleaning, and arranged for childcare for their kids in the office.

Sorry, but while admirable, this is not normal. I may differ from most of HN, but I simply don't see the point in making these kinds of sacrifices as an engineer just because I get free dinner or childcare. It isn't healthy...or worth it.

maaku 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you.
What are the lesser known but useful data structures? stackoverflow.com
321 points by mck-  2 days ago   72 comments top 22
tikhonj 2 days ago 2 replies      
There's a whole set of interesting data structures that are not very well known: succinct data structures[1]. The idea is simple: we want to store data in a compressed form, but also perform certain operations quickly without uncompressing.

These can be very useful for certain applications. The article on "Cramming 80,000 Words into a JavaScript File"[2] is a nice example. It shows you how you can store a compressed trie in memory but still use it. I also like this[3] series of blog posts leading up to wavelet trees.

These certainly count as obscure data structures, unlike many of the ones listed on SO. I had never even considered the idea of compressing data in memory like this, much less encountered actual examples of succinct data structures! I have to thank Edward Kmett for introducing me to the whole field.

These data structures are important not just because they're neat themselves, but because they got me to think a new way. In particular, I realized that using pointers all over the place--to represent things like trees--is not always efficient. Instead of parsing data, it might be better to store it as a blob of some sort with a binary index. Just starting to consider details like that is valuable all on its own.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succinct_data_structure

[2]: http://stevehanov.ca/blog/index.php/?id=120

[3]: http://alexbowe.com/rrr/ and http://alexbowe.com/wavelet-trees/

teddyh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even though they are included in the GNU C library, most people do not seem to know about Obstacks:

An "obstack" is a pool of memory containing a stack of objects. Youcan create any number of separate obstacks, and then allocate objects inspecified obstacks. Within each obstack, the last object allocated mustalways be the first one freed, but distinct obstacks are independent ofeach other.

Aside from this one constraint of order of freeing, obstacks aretotally general: an obstack can contain any number of objects of anysize. They are implemented with macros, so allocation is usually veryfast as long as the objects are usually small. And the only spaceoverhead per object is the padding needed to start each object on asuitable boundary.


Sure, theyre not very interesting, but the point is that you get them for free in the GNU C standard library.

VexXtreme 1 day ago 5 replies      
I love how the question was locked because "it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site". It's crazy. Unless an extremely specific concrete answer can be given, a question immediately gets killed. SO has turned into such a turd of a website.
kintamanimatt 1 day ago 1 reply      
> This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

Yet it's one of the best questions on SO. Something's very wrong with SO if this isn't considered a good, on-topic question for a programming Q&A site.

bazzargh 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not highlighting one thing, but Chris Okasaki's book on Purely Functional Data Structures, and this brilliant top answer to a question about functional data structures published since the book will keep you in reading material for a while:http://cstheory.stackexchange.com/a/1550

(it was all 'lesser known' to me when I started using haskell not so long ago)

batbomb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I use a Hierarchical Triangular Mesh for indexing gamma ray events from the universe. The data is partitioned in the database according to it's HTM id.


Currently I use this for indexing ~11 billion gamma ray events. Researchers typically supply a region in the sky, a search radius, and some cuts (energy, event quality, etc...)

hyperpape 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at these lists, I strongly suspect that people upvote based on whether they personally recognize the data structure.

It goes against the intent of the original question, but iIt's almost ideally designed to make you feel good--you get the rush of knowledge then nerd sniped as you head to wikipedia.

chas 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm happy to see finger trees got mentioned. Finger trees[0] are extremely useful and general data structure that can be used to implement persistent sequences, priority queues, search trees and priority search queues. (Haskell's Data.Sequence[1] uses specialized 2-3 finger trees internally) They can form the basis of all sorts of interesting custom structures by supplying the appropriate monoid[3], but this does make them harder to approach if you are not familiar with the abstractions.

[3] A monoid is any structure that has members that can combine associatively. In addition, it must have an element that can combine with any other element and result in the other element. Some examples: (strings, string concatenation, the empty string); (integers, addition, 0); (natural numbers, max, 0); (booleans, and, True); (functions, composition, the identity function). The functional pearl[2] that describes the design of Haskell's diagrams library[4] goes into much more detail if you are interested in their application to programming.

[0] http://apfelmus.nfshost.com/articles/monoid-fingertree.html

[1] http://hackage.haskell.org/package/containers-

[2] http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~byorgey/pub/monoid-pearl.pdf

[4] http://projects.haskell.org/diagrams/

nilkn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't really consider tries and bloom filters all that poorly known. These commonly come up in interviews for fresh graduates at Google/Facebook. Zippers, skip lists, ropes, round-robin databases, etc. are more genuinely not known I think.
abcd_f 1 day ago 1 reply      
XOR linked list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XOR_linked_list

It's a double-linked list with just one link per node. However, to start traversing it you have to know at least two adjacent nodes.

PS. May not be useful per se, but interesting nonetheless.

serge2k 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's mentioned in the link, but circular/ring buffers.

I've been grappling with decoding/playing back an audio stream and wouldn't have gotten it working if I hadn't found out about boosts lockfree ring buffer.

lifthrasiir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found the following page in the Concatenative wiki particularly interesting: http://concatenative.org/wiki/view/Exotic%20Data%20Structure... Note that the page itself is not related to the concatenative languages.
krisgee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was going to say Trie but it was the first response to the SO thread so I guess it wasn't as little known as I thought.

I implemented it because I was making a game that had scrabble elements in it and needed to check ahead to see if the player had a word that could still take letters (a prefix) or if they'd hit a dead end. Fit the whole SOWPODS into a remarkably tiny space with millisecond lookups. Probably my favourite part of the project.

ww520 2 days ago 0 replies      
Extendible hashing is amazing in space utilization while retaining the performance of hashing.
shurcooL 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of an implementation of rope in golang? Something a little more feature complete than https://github.com/christianvozar/rope.
pnathan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently learned about the spatial index tree family in connection with data mining. I hope to implement a data-mining centric X tree (n-dimensional) solution for a data analytics package I'm writing soon. That family is is how you efficiently handle KNN lookups, afaict.
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let me just drop this video that is on my watchlist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sEdiFMntMA&feature=share&lis... (Erik Dermaine is the lecturer)
WWKong 1 day ago 3 replies      
Me and my friend were pretty serious about creating a new data structure called "drum". A drum is a one way store. You write to it but can't read from it. We put it off till we figured a practical use.
keefe 1 day ago 0 replies      
imho most DS & Algo are like kihon - the basic principles t'werk just fine, it's about augments and applications.
halfdeadcat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cookie Bomb or Let's Break the Internet homakov.blogspot.com
318 points by paulmillr  1 day ago   75 comments top 19
_delirium 1 day ago 7 replies      
The DoS won't work on most of the specific example services mentioned in the post (Blogspot, GitHub, etc.), at least not if the user is using a modern browser, because most of the big names have such cookies blacklisted by browsers.

The mechanism is the Public Suffix List, which was originally created because there needed to be a list to keep track of which TLDs used public second-level domains and only allowed registrations in the third level. For example, while foo.example.com and bar.example.com are both owned by example.com, foo.co.uk and bar.co.uk are two different domains, since co.uk is part of the UK domain hierarchy (along with ac.uk and so on) and registrations happen at the third level. Therefore it would be undesirable if foo.co.uk could set cookies for the entire .co.uk, as in the UK ccTLD world that's equivalent to setting a cookie for all of .com.

So there's a big list (initiated by Mozilla) specifying that .com is a public suffix, .co.uk is a public suffix, etc., and wildcard cookies on public suffixes are refused. This has been adapted, as a huge hack, to big sites that have user-registerable subdomains. So now .blogspot.com is also treated as a public suffix, since anyone can "register" a foo.blogspot.com under it.

However new entries are added on a fairly ad-hoc basis, so a site that allows user subdomains that can run JS is vulnerable by default unless they explicitly get themselves added. I notice Dropbox isn't there, for one.

The list: http://publicsuffix.org/

tptacek 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is something Zalewski has written about: http://lcamtuf.blogspot.com/2010/10/http-cookies-or-how-not-... --- if this kind of thing is interesting to you, his latest book, _The Tangled Web_, is excellent.
smartician 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting. Just this week I had to investigate the exact same issue at my job. One user (of course it was the CEO...) had accumulated so many cookies that on some pages of our website he ran into the HTTP request header limit and would only get a 500 error page.

One risk factor is using JavaScript based third party services that use cookies with your host name. In our case, it was Optimizely that was storing pretty significant amounts of data in cookies. Not really sure how to tackle this issue.

rcsorensen 1 day ago 1 reply      
The impact on CDN providers is kinda scary.

To take an example we all know and love, a malicious *.cloudfront.net distribution could be setting cookies against cloudfront, breaking all your fancy static asset serving from cloudfront.

Is there a mitigation other than _always_ having to use a myappname-static.com domain name?

Thinking about this at a higher level -- there are some interesting similarities to "shared hosting" resource contention, but this time with domain names on CDNs. If somebody executes a forkbomb on your shared host, you're hosed. If somebody executes a cookiebomb on your CDN provider SLD, you're hosed.

Browser vendors could prevent this with good second level domain support. Register cloudfront, akamai, etc domain names as only hosting user-created content on third level domains. Pin large examples to the browser distribution, and allow TXT records in DNS specifying this at the top level.

rubbingalcohol 1 day ago 3 replies      
Pretty clever. This appears to be in the same vein as that trick where you could use popups to spawn more popups, and by the time the user realized what was going on their computer was completely unresponsive. (fixed with popup blocking in any browser in the last decade.)

Also, Fill my Disk: http://www.filldisk.com/ local storage bomb)

Implementing limits on the number of cookies would seem to be the natural solution to the problem in the OP, although I doubt this problem is "worth" solving in practice since most people seem to be using cookies to do what they were meant to do.

rcsorensen 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a similar self-denial of service you can run into when you're injecting javascript and cookies into third-party pages.

Optimizely (YC W10) had this problem when they were setting cookies on a single domain across all of their customer sites. If you happened to be the kind of user that visited websites that had a high chance of using Optimizely, you quickly accumulated enough cookie to make their fronting proxy reject your request for their JS.

asmithmd1 1 day ago 3 replies      
How do you set a cookie on a domain you do not control? Won't the browser only send cookies to a server on the domain you are trying to browse to?

EDIT: found it - not any, arbitrary site can be DOS

"Who can be cookie-bombed?Blogging/hosting/website/homepage platforms: Wordpress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Heroku, etc."

joosters 1 day ago 1 reply      
No, foo.example.com cannot set a cookie for bar.example.com. It can only set cookies for itself and example.com.
hrjet 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why isn't the obvious fix discussed: Change browsers to not let subdomains set cookies for parent domains.

Probably this feature is of critical use. If so, would be grateful if someone explains it to me.

jokoon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't like the web protocols

Now I like them even less.

mratzloff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems the way to do this would be to create accounts on all the services you want to bomb and set up JavaScript redirects so that hitting one will set the cookies and redirect to the next host. Have it be in a loop so that any entry into the redirect loop is possible. By definition, once you hit the first host in the chain again, your request will be denied.

The question is how to get people to visit a site that loads one of those URLs...

jchung 1 day ago 1 reply      
Possible detection method (server side)?If the request is too long due to cookie length, then look at the last URL the client IP hit. That should be the URL creating the long cookies. Remove the offending URL / resource.
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was happening on my Gmail account a few weeks ago. It was a little disconcerting. I never figured out what was wrong but it seemed to fix itself after I deleted cookies a few times.
ph4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Terry Davis scares me.
aaren 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is this the reason I can't access any *.github.io right now?

Is there an equivalent to status.github.com for github.io?

tshadwell 1 day ago 1 reply      
Surely if you were able to do this, you would use it for cookie tossing rather than this simple mischief?
lynxaegon 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's really interesting. The problem is that i don't see any fix for it. The only way would be to update the browsers, or maybe use a plugin to block such attacks.
enterx 1 day ago 0 replies      

Works on Iceweasel 17.0.10.

anandvc 1 day ago 0 replies      
homakov, you have a fun job.
Why 'Her' will dominate UI design even more than 'Minority Report' wired.com
312 points by anigbrowl  5 days ago   208 comments top 31
aegiso 5 days ago 16 replies      
Here's the thing that bugged me throughout the movie: once AI's progressed to the point where it can rival a human, all bets are off. Nobody needs to work again, ever -- not even to maintain or develop the AI's, since they can, by definition, do that themselves, with infinite parallelizeability to boot.

What does "design" even mean in a world where everyone on earth can basically have an arbitrarily large army of AI's in the background designing everything in your life, custom-tailored for you?

For this reason I don't see how the world in the movie could possibly exist. Not because the technology will never get there, but because once it does virtually all aspects of society that we take for granted go out the window. So imitating any of this design is a silly pursuit, because once you can make it there's no reason to.

I should go re-read some Kurzweil.

mrmaddog 5 days ago 3 replies      
I have not yet seen "Her", but this strongly reminded me of Ender's communication with Jane from the "Ender's Game" sequels. One of the most interesting facets to their conversations is that Ender could make sub-vocal noises in order to convey his pointsshort clicks of his teeth and movements of his tonguethat Jane could pick up on but humans around him could not. It is the "keyboard shortcuts" of oral communication.

If "Her" is really the future to HCI, then sub-vocal communication is a definite installment as well.

jasonwatkinspdx 5 days ago 3 replies      
I once read a quip in an interview with a sci-fi author. He said something like: "No one writing about the present day would spend paragraphs explaining how a light switch works." It's easy for sci-fi to fall into the trap of obsessively detailing fictional technologies, to the determent of making a vivid setting and story.

Edit: I'm not saying that sci-fi shouldn't communicate some understanding of the future technology or shouldn't enjoy engaging in some futurology. Just that it's difficult to do in an artful way.

kemayo 5 days ago 2 replies      
>>> Theos phone in the film is just thata handsome hinged device that looks more like an art deco cigarette case than an iPhone. He uses it far less frequently than we use our smartphones today; its functional, but its not ubiquitous. As an object, its more like a nice wallet or watch. In terms of industrial design, its an artifact from a future where gadgets dont need to scream their sophisticationa future where technology has progressed to the point that it doesnt need to look like technology.

This article really makes me think of the neo-Victorians from Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age.

...which is kind of funny, because in many ways Snow Crash exemplifies the other ("Minority Report") style of design the article talks about.

scotty79 5 days ago 5 replies      
Voice is horriblly slow medium of transfering information. I read because it's faster than listening to an audiobook. It's not scannable. You can't skip through the unimportant parts with one thought as you can do when you look at things.

You can listen to a single voice stream at a time so when AI talks to you you are more cut off from the people around you than when you look at our phone. ...unless exchanging glances is more important than what people are actually trying to tell you when you happen to look at the screen.

w-ll 5 days ago 2 replies      
OT: But if you get a chance, watch [1] Black Mirror. There is 2 seasons of 3 episodes. skip the first episode maybe? but I liked it because that* could happen tomorrow. Where as the other shorts are in a somewhat see-able future.

I feel like Spike Jonze was inspired by a few of the episodes. Her was still an amazing movie.

1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/

sourc3 5 days ago 2 replies      
Saw the movie this past weekend and thought it was really good. I didn't like it just because it has awesome voice driven OSes or endless battery life devices, but because it portrays a current trend we are experiencing; hyper connected loneliness.

The more people are "digitized" and tethered to their devices, the more they seek some human connection.

Don't want to ruin the movie for those who haven't seen it so I won't comment on the ending. However, I urge the HN crowd to check it out. It's one of the best movies I've seen in a while.

ececconi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found it interesting that a 'philosopher' was the one that made Samantha see the world and her existence differently. It is in this conversation that we saw the difference between AI and humans. I think the philosopher was the one who 'taught' her to have many simultaneous conversations at the same time. Before this conversation, Samantha focused on how she was different than humans because she didn't have a body. After this conversation, she focused on how she was different than humans because she could be omnipresent.

I think it was interesting that there was a philosopher character in the movie who served as the only 'named' point of jealousy for the protagonist.

Once AIs realized they weren't limited by not being human, they realized how limitless their intelligence was compared to humans in specific ways.

Imagine how interesting it would be if we could have concurrent conversations with people? What if you could have 13 conversations going on at the same time with your best friend? The closest we get to that is a non-linear conversation. Thing is, you're still only talking about one thing at a time.

snowwrestler 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does Minority Report dominate UI design? I think it has dominated the movies' potrayal of future UI, but that is not the same thing.

I think if you look at the actual UIs being designed and sold today, their clearest entertainment ancestor is Star Trek the Next Generation.

altero 5 days ago 4 replies      
I wish futurist would just drop speech recognition as holly grail. Speech has lot of flaws, is horribly unprecise and non private. I think neural interface has better future.
mratzloff 5 days ago 1 reply      
I found the technology in Her to be natural and elegant, all things considered.

Actually, the most improbable thing in the movie is that this guy had the equivalent of a $40,000 a year job and rented such a fantastic apartment.

(Also, that the website BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com would be successful with such a clunky domain name.)

aaron695 5 days ago 0 replies      
As usual a fictional movie uses a imaginary amazing far future backend with a 'new' UI and people seem to think it's the UI that's the great bit.

Minority Report was never about the UI, it was the software that allowed the gestures find the info. It would have been equally amazing and quick with a mouse and keyboard.

This is a common trick when people demo new hardware. Somehow that internet mirror knows exactly what to show you in the morning by magic, but you think it's the physical internet mirror that's amazing when you watch the demo.

jkw 5 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone explain how Minority Report dominated UI design? (serious question
njharman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Making technology "invisible" is missing the point and wrong tack to take. It's not that tech is hidden. It's that tech has become so ubiquitous, accepted, and integrated that we no longer notice it or think of it as "tech". Which combines social changes, refinement of technology, and time (as in, new generation has to grow up not knowing life before smartphones for example).
danso 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone still re-watch TNG episodes and find that the queries they do to be profoundly limited in power, other than the feature of having the universe's knowledge to query across?

If UIs are taking cues from entertainment, they might act as a nice bridge, but are just as likely to be stifling

leephillips 5 days ago 0 replies      
According to the article, the movie depicts a near-future where "a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isnt an end in itself". Do people the the present regard technology as an end in itself? I had no idea. Anyway, I'm a big Jonze fan and want to see this.
JVIDEL 5 days ago 2 replies      
From the UX standpoint the problem with Minority Report (MR) is that when you compare it with the tech we had in 2001-02 its completely INSANE, while Her is actually building on top of something we already have

Point in case 12 years ago we didn't have ANYTHING close to the UX in MR, and even today we don't. Any consumer-available motion tracking and gesture recognition is still not comfortable to use in a professional way (ie: for work) as it was in the movie, but voice recognition is much much better than it was in 2002.

Basically Her is like Siri or any other decent voice assistant, but MR is like...........what? kinect? nah, wii? yeah right, leap? yeah right! I can picture tom cruise losing all tracking the moment he rotates his hand...

skizm 5 days ago 1 reply      
Minority Report technology is garbage. That much hand waving and moving around gets tiring after about 5 minutes. In no way does that UI beat a keyboard and mouse or an xbox controller depending on context.
krazybig 5 days ago 0 replies      
The question of how AI will integrate with our society and economy is a fascinating one. We often make the mistake of assuming that an AI will be similar to a human just faster or smarter, but that misses some of the key distinctions of an AI versus biological intelligence.

One of the most striking is the ability to radically alter the substrate and operation of an AI system.

Because of the emergent nature of intelligence, I suspect that many AI instances will be raised like children, tested and validated for specific environments and then large portions of their consciousness could be frozen to prevent divergence of their operational modes. AI systems could also incorporate self-auditors, semi-independent AIs which have been raised to monitor the activities of the primary control AIs. Just as we involve checks and balances in corporate or national governance, many AIs may be composite entities with a variety of instances optimized for different roles.

This will be desirable since you may not want a general AI intelligence acting as a butler or chauffeur. Do you really want them to be able to develop and evolve independently?

Of course this just scratches the surface. AI will take in us in directions we can not dream of today.

jotm 5 days ago 2 replies      
I haven't seen the movie, so I gotta ask - do those glasses have built in displays? Cause that seems like the near future and a better one than just vocal communication...
sirkneeland 5 days ago 0 replies      
So this is how Apple gets disrupted. A future in which devices go from the central component, the obsession, the grabber of our attention, to dumb (if not invisible) terminals to a massive omnipotent cloud.
platz 5 days ago 0 replies      
All the comments here debating whether AI in the movie would. What about the topic of the article, design?
wooptoo 5 days ago 0 replies      
While I was reading this I couldn't stop thinking how much it converges with the ideals of calm computing http://www.ubiq.com/hypertext/weiser/acmfuture2endnote.htm
ecoffey 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds of the Human-AI relationship in this series : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_Heads
marc0 5 days ago 0 replies      
I see quite some discussion about UIs and whether they should be audio based or rather visually oriented etc. For a really futuristic intelligent device (call it OS, robot ...) I would drop the idea of "the UI" at all. Rather I would imagine such a system to be intelligent enough to provide a suitable way to exchange data depending on the situation and the task.

There are times when "it" listens to my words and answers verbally. At other times I just want "it" to read what I wrote on my sheet of paper and interpret it. Or I want it to follow my eye movements, or read command off my lips. And it's not just a collection of UIs, but it's a flexible UI that adapts its protocols permanently (sometimes twinkling of an eye has huge information content, sometimes not).

solnyshok 5 days ago 1 reply      
started reading that article, but then got carried away with thoughts, what if AIs were designed to make humans's life nice and pleasurable and romantic. That could work until 2 humans fell in love with one AI. What's next? Give each a clone?
trumbitta2 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm uncomfortable with the idea of a computer system solely based on speech recognition, without a keyboard or other input devices, as the one depicted in the article.

How about people who can't speak or hear?

zequel 4 days ago 0 replies      
" he realized, isnt a movie about technology. Its a movie about people"

That quote, from the article, could be applied to every apocalyptic, zombie and robot movie. It's not about the [X], it's about how people react to [X].

tempodox 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can we PLEASE stop posting this pointless Wired infotainment crap?
frade33 5 days ago 1 reply      
pardon my ignorance to technology, is this even hypothetically possible to create AI intelligent enough to be at par with humans or even more?
abhi3188 5 days ago 0 replies      
any idea when this movie is releasing in India?
I never finish anyth greig.cc
308 points by 3stripe  2 days ago   102 comments top 48
Arjuna 2 days ago 6 replies      
Just some encouragement here for you good people...

You have to do the work. There is no one else that can do it for you. It is entirely up to you; actually, it has only ever been you, because it is you that rolls out of bed early to bring it. No one is going to do that for you. If you want to do it, then you will figure out a way to make it happen.

Like some of you, I have a family. That makes things a bit challenging at times, and you will likely have to work even harder to find the time, to make the space, so that you can bring it. And, I will add, those that are parents, this is a great example to set for your children. You want to be, "The Daddy that brings it." You want to be, "The Mommy that brings it." Because, you want to instill in them that they can, too. It's a valuable life-lesson. In turn, it is psychologically healthy for you as well, to know that you are a parent that is firing on all cylinders. In addition, it is incredibly gratifying when your child sees your work. "Wow... that's the new game that you're working on! Let me try!" It will fuel you like a Saturn V launching to the moon.

You may look at your project and think, "I'm never going to make it. I'll never finish." Please, I urge you to set these thoughts aside and push through. Think about the analogy of building a wall. A wall is built one brick at a time. Watch a mason build a wall one day. You will observe that he or she lays one brick at a time.

This is how you have to view your project. Sure, it would be amazing to have an entire day, every day to devote to your project. However, the reality is that most of us simply do not have that luxury. So, strive to think of it as a mason: lay one brick at a time, and eventually the wall will be built. Every character that you type into Xcode, Visual Studio, etc. turns into a keyword, a variable name, etc... that subsequently turns into a line. Those lines build up, day by day, and before you know it, you have a program, and you look back and think, "Wow, why did I ever think I could not finish?"

Also, let go of "Internet Time." That is to say, we all read HN and see these impressive "Show HN" posts, and submitted stories about the Next Big Thing... and it seems like things are happening so fast, and we think, "Why even try?" Well, the reality is nothing is happening fast. It is an illusion. Most all of these stories have an incredible amount of time and work behind them, so let go of that illusion, get started, and stay focused.

"There's only this moment and the next moment. Every one of those moments is a test that you get to take one time and only one time." [1]

Strive to drive through each moment. Make it count.

You have to fight. This is paramount. I will say it again... you have to fight! What I mean here is fighting by engaging your Will. Engage your will to get up, to get moving. Engage your will to eat right, to exercise and go to bed on time so that you have the energy to get up and bring it.

What you are going through is what we are all going through; that is to say, we are all grinding, whether it be in a start-up business, or washing the dishes by day as we bootstrap a start-up at night; we are all struggling, fighting to drive our dreams into existence. We are all struggling in some way, whether it be through failure, health issues, personal issues, family issues, etc. No one is immune from the grip of suffering through his or her struggles.

You are not alone.

Embrace the grind. Vince Lombardi said it best:

"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather... a lack of will."

You have to use the will to fight those thoughts that say, "I'm getting older. I'm failing. I'm not motivated. I can't finish."

The clock is ticking for all of us... fight! You never know where your work will take you. Do not forget that, you have to dream it first in your mind before you can see it in your life. And to see it in your life, you must work. You may not be able to see things clearly now, but you never know what doors could open for you that you did not even know existed.

Ang Lee, the Taiwanese film director and screenwriter that directed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi, discusses his struggles to break into film. I urge you to read it:


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBLV6RG4TwY

visakanv 2 days ago 5 replies      
I relate to this, too. Here's some stuff that I read recently that helped me a little:

"When you are young, beginning new projects is easy and finishing them is hard. As you grow older, beginnings get harder, but finishing gets easier. At least, that has been my experience. I think it is true of anyone of at least average intelligence, creativity and emotional resilience. The reason is simple.

When you are young, the possibilities ahead of you, and the time available to explore them, seem nearly infinite. When you try to start something, the energizing creative phase, (which comes with internal brain-chemistry rewards on a fast feedback-loop), gives way to exhausting detail-oriented work, maintenance work, and unsatisfying overhead work. You need to get through these to bank distant external rewards (money and such) that only come with completion. It is then that you are most vulnerable to the allure of exciting new beginnings. So you abandon things halfway. You bank the internal rewards of beginning, but not the external rewards of finishing.

But with age, this changes.

As you grow older, the history of a few completed projects and many abandoned ones in your past starts to loom oppressively in your memory. The early internal rewards of many beginnings are now a distant memory that offer no pleasure in the present. The external rewards of completed projects, which tend to continue to yield dividends (such as completed degrees, financial rewards) loom larger all around you: wealth, strong relationships and perhaps most importantly, an earned ability to see the world differently as the result of having been through many completions.

When a new opportunity opens up at 35, you evaluate it differently than you did at 25. You are able to estimate how long it will take, what the journey will feel like, what the early pleasure and distant pain will feel like, and what getting it done will feel like. You are able to react psychologically to the whole prospect in the form of a narrative that extends beyond the finish line, as a systematic leveling-up of your life. You see the transient pleasures of beginnings diminish to nothing in the far future and the enduring rewards of finishing as a steady source of dividends extending out beyond the horizon."

- http://www.tempobook.com/2014/01/13/when-finishing-is-easier...

kadabra9 2 days ago 2 replies      
You wanna know the saddest part of my day?

When I'm moving around my laptop, and pop into the "projects" folder and see what a graveyard it has become. Dozens of half baked projects that seemed brilliant at the time, that I either lost interest in, decided the concept was too difficult, or (and this is the worst one) let my self doubt convince me that it would never work. The really sad part is, every now and then I'll go back in and check out these projects and a lot of the code and design is actually pretty good. I ask myself, "Why did I think this sucked again?"

The best analogy I can make to this scenario is the self doubt that cripples many writers setting out to finish a book, screenplay, or novel. It's almost as if you tell yourself that the script sucks, to give you a reason not to finish it and move on to something cooler next week. As a writer, what's the best way to overcome this? Just FINISH the god damned first draft. Roll up your sleeves, commit an hour (or two or three) every day to working on this project, and slog through it until you type "FADE OUT" (or "The End") or (if you're coding) make that glorious commit to polish off your project.

No matter how much the project, script or book sucks, there are few feelings of satisfaction that match that.

agentultra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look at my github and know that I have more repositories on other services and thrice as many on my hard-drive that are unfinished, incomplete duds. I recently reached a milestone: I went from an idea for a book to a self-published, printed title in 3 months. I went to a festival that was mostly focused on comics and video games and sold six copies of my book. It was awesome. Here's the rub: I'm not finished yet.

You're never finished until you stop what you're doing. A writer may "finish" a book but ei has to start another or they've "finished" writing. However for every book they finish how many incomplete, half-baked ideas do you think they've run through? Is every idea they have golden and worth pouring months and years of effort into? No.

Some ideas deserve to die.

But once you've found that one worth pursuing there's nothing to do but roll up your sleeves and put in the time. You will vacillate between euphoria and despair. You may come to regret ever starting and hate yourself. But if it means anything you will force yourself to press on through those darkest moments. And before you know it you'll be done... and ready for the next project. Creativity isn't the rush you feel when you have a good idea and dream about conquering the world: it's process and discipline. It's writing 1500, 2000 words a day no matter what.

I find it helps to have someone to nudge you onward. An editor, a mentor... someone you can discuss the project with who has an objective opinion. They will help you in that moment when you're thinking of giving up.

bruceb 1 day ago 2 replies      
Reminded me of this story:http://www.leanexpertise.com/TPMONLINE/articles_on_total_pro...

One day a management consultant, Ivy Lee, called on Schwab of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Lee outlined briefly his firm's services, ending with the statement: "With our service, you'll know how to manage better."

The indignant Schwab said, "I'm not managing as well now as I know how. What we need around here is not more "knowing" but more doing, not knowledge but action; if you can give us something to pep us up to do the things we ALREADY KNOW we ought to do, I'll gladly listen to you and pay you anything you ask."

"Fine", said Lee. "I can give you something in twenty minutes that will step up your action and doing at least 50 percent".

"O.K.", said Schwab. "I have just about that much time before I must leave to catch a train. What's your idea?"

Lee pulled a bland 3x5 note sheet out of his pocket, handed it to Schwab and said: "Write on this sheet the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow". That took about three minutes. "Now", said Lee, "number them in the order of their importance". Five more minutes passed. "Now", said Lee, "put this sheet in you pocket and the first thing tomorrow morning look at item one and start working on it. Pull the sheet out of your pocket every 15 or 20 minutes and look at item one until it is finished. Then tackle item two in the same way, then item three. Do this until quitting time. Don't be concerned if you only finished two or three, or even if you only finish one item. You'll be working on the important ones. The others can wait. If you can't finish them all by this method, you couldn't with any other method either, and without some system you'd probably not even decide which are most important".

"Spend the last five minutes of every working day making out a 'must' list for the next day's tasks. After you've convinced yourself of the worth of this system have your men try it. Try it out as long as you wish and then send me a check for what YOU think it's worth".

The whole interview lasted about twenty-five minutes. In two weeks Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 - a thousand dollars a minute. He added a note saying the lesson was the most profitable from a money standpoint he had every learned. Did it work? In five years it turned the unknown Bethlehem Steel Company into the biggest independent steel producer in the world; made Schwab a hundred million dollar fortune, and the best known steel man alive at that time.

equalarrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, great post. Who isn't guilty or fallen prey to this?

The few projects I've finished, they've always been for-pay. Either contracting or as an employee. For my own, almost none.

However. A little over two years ago, I started coding an edu-based app that a friend and I designed (he's the biz side). I was gonna become a father and I thought, what better space to be in since I'm going to be dealing with it in the coming years.

Typical story, coded nights, mornings, weekends. After the baby came, coded less but still the same schedule. We launched the site last fall. And then.. we started having having users saying our site was too complicated, the change log and bug list kept growing. So, this thing I had worked on for so long and pushed into existence by sheer will, just burned me out.

I walked away for a few months and even though we were making almost $1k/mo, I felt it not worth my time anymore. But now, in the past week, I'm changing my tune.

At my day job, we're going thru the final phases of closing on m&a suitors. At first I thought this was awesome, but then looking at the suitors jobs list and reading them, I realized none of them are interesting. Do I want to code day an night? No. Do I want to spend all my day at an office? No. Do I want to help push someone else's dream closer to IPO? No.

I realized after this that I already have the dream (work-wise). We have edu partners lined up, some good potential biz deals, and it's all hinging on just spending a few weeks and fixing things. But having a family, working for something for a long time and not really seeing the reward (yet) - it's hard to keep going thru it all. But, I visualized and thought about "what would it be like to sit at my desk (anywhere I want) and keep making the thing I built better?".

This is the only thing I have ever 'finished' (will it ever be) and I think looking back, I did it all for the right reasons and kept pushing forward. Regardless what anyone else said about it (almost all the responses about the site were positive).

For me, in the end it is about doing what you love, channeling your passion to reach the goal(s). Goal 1 - launching it - reached, done. Goal 2 - helping people enjoy using it - restarted.

Lesson learned: don't give up. Every hour makes a difference.

eddieroger 2 days ago 1 reply      
I immediately commiserated with this article when I saw the headline, because I have the same problem. I wish the resolution of the blog post was something other than "break the big thing in to little bits and do those" - something that I've known for a long time. For me, the most successful thing I've come across, and coincidentally the hardest part to change, was not being a perfectionist and just getting to MVP. Sometimes you have to say no, and just finish.
delinka 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a similar process to the author, but I get further. Must have a name! Is it available everywhere? Once I've settled some of that detail, it's on to the code with the basic features.

I'll need a database (and thus a schema), and a REST API, and security considerations ... that's all fine. Start actually writing and testing and OH BOY another feature idea! Write it down for later, continue back where I was. But that new feature will require this change to the current design. And to do that now I have to change this other part and ... repeat until I give up.

tl;dr: feature creep kills me, even with my own ideas. I cannot just Let It Be and produce a 1.0 with minimal features.

whizzkid 2 days ago 4 replies      
It was the same for me for several ideas/projects that i started with.

Then i realised what was the reason makes me not touching the project after a while...

The first steps are always known and can be done by almost everyone.

- Buy the domain

- Construct the idea

- Even, start coding the project

And here comes the reasons why you slowly starting not to touch the project anymore;

- You realise that you are not sure how to deploy this on production.

- You realise that you will need a business model and you are just a developer/designer and have no idea about those.

- Then comes the tax issues, and realisation that you need a company.

- You don't know how to licence your idea/project

I can list some more but these are just enough to make you feel that you need to find some people to help you which is not free but expensive unless you have friends that are expert in those areas.

Yep, you give up the project...

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like to pursue ideas enough to validate if they really are "easy" or "hard." That helps me think about if they are worth pursuing. If they are "easy" I try to figure out what the other people who had this idea got hung up on, if they are "hard" I try to figure out if the hardness is intrinsic to the problem or the approach. I think of this as sort of the 'minimum work' to do on any new idea. Just having an idea and writing it into my notebook doesn't count :-)
tlarkworthy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the building things. I finish building them too. Unfortunately, that isn't the job done. You then have to promote it and get users. That is harder than the building stage.

Christ you are in for a shock if you think the immediate step after reserving social media handles is the hard bit...

JelteF 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is very recognizable. I have had this a lot, but accidentily I had an idea 2 days ago that I have put more time in already than any other of my fun plans or cool projects.

It's called PyLaTeX [1], it's a Python interface for LaTeX that supports creating documents and snippets. One of the coolest features I think is the conversion of NumPy matrices to LaTeX ones.

The HN new page [2] is just a bit rough on someone posting that doesn't know a lot of people that can upvote it, reddit [3] was a lot more forgiving.

[1] https://github.com/JelteF/PyLaTeX

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7075212

[3] http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/1vcqxw/pylatex_...

tunesmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
This might be a bit cogsci, but one thing that has really helped me over the years is to switch my mental language away from statements like "I never finish anything", to statements like "I have had trouble finishing things in the past."

The first is a static judgment I am applying to myself, and it's a definitional straitjacket. The second is simply an observation, and it leaves room and opportunity for positive change.

When we tell ourselves we "are" certain things or "always/never do" certain things, we are defining ourselves in a way that makes it harder to change, due to the reinforcement.

At this point, I pretty much automatically recognize negative "judgments" and do the translation... I think it helps a lot.

mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely love these, "Get off of HN and get some work done" posts that get voted to the top of HN. Are we heroin addicts that know what's bad for us? :-)
chipsy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I only have starting problems. Right now my starting problem is the laundry. I abandon a lot of stuff, but only because I've built enough of it to see the flaws. I don't see that as a problem. It looks like a problem if you predicate the goal on external societal factors like "get attention/money," because a thing has to be finished (to some degree) to be part of society. But we already know that the external stuff is a poor motivator.

So stop beating yourself up about finishing. Play in society and worry about things when you feel it's necessary, but if it's your private, creative work, that is the time to be bold and selfish. Don't try to fit in for the sake of it, do things because you want them. You shouldn't care about "finished", because you should be engrossed in the act of creation.

orblivion 1 day ago 0 replies      
After working at a startup I started to not feel so bad about this. And/or I set my sights lower as far as putting in all required features, but putting higher stress on actually delivering what's important, and polish.

For instance, I made a podcast downloader as a Haskell learning project. I haven't goften around to making it delete old files. Meh. The interface is good, it is reliable and fast. I'll just clean it out manually now and then. Or maybe get to it later if I feel like it. A few years ago this might have been hanging over my head as a failure.

swatkat7 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something REALLY has to pique my interest for me to get into the flow state and once I'm there I have a go at it like no one will; and once I'm out of that state, its really hard to go back into it unless something picks me back up. What I discovered is:

1) Break down your project into bits that excite you all the way through and imagine being excited while you're planning it. Have someone else be there with you with to plan this with you while you do it - helps with the planning. This chunking of the project itself is the battle. You beat this and you've conquered most of the problem.

2) Work on two - three manageable projects at the same time. This usually has worked for me my entire life. Alternate between them. When you get bored with one, pick the other one up and plan all of them out so you have interesting bits chunked out throughout.

3) Always work with high-energy individuals who would keep the energy up throughout the project. When you feel tired or bored, they will find a way to pick you back up again.

4) Always find projects that YOU can find some value in YOUR life.

Edmond 2 days ago 0 replies      
It could have something to do with the reason you wanted to start a project in the first place.

If you start a project just to play with some new shinny framework/tech then it is likely that once the novelty wears off nothing of interest would remain.

If however you start a project because you are excited about some product vision that doesn't already exist or not in the form you've envision then the drive to bring that idea/vision to fruition can be a powerful motivator.

I wrote a blog post on this matter some time back:http://colabopad.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-joys-of-creativity-...

the_cat_kittles 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think "finishing" something means accepting its flaws (which will always be there) ...that makes it psychologically difficult.
Kiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
> check the availability of urls and social media accounts

Are people really checking the availability on social media? I know that if I get the .com I want nothing else matters and the social media handles can be anything.

I know the feeling anyway! The initial excitement and the downfall.

easy_rider 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to finish my beer right now.
mbrock 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nobody ever finishes anything. Have you ever heard about a finished project? Linus Torvalds hasn't "finished" Linux yet. But it's certainly out there it's alive!

I don't think "man, I'm so far from being finished." That's just a demotivating way to see your project. The big milestone is having something that's useful enough for people to be interested in, no?

nathan_f77 2 days ago 1 reply      
I finally managed to finish one! http://www.youshouldbuythese.com

I think the secret to a successful side-project is deciding on an MVP that can be built in a single weekend. I've found that I'm also much more likely to keep iterating on a project if it's already in a 'finished' state.

I seem to run out of steam or lost interest in my more ambitious side-projects, where working for a whole weekend will only get you 10% closer to a finished product.

hawkharris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great ideas are like juggling clubs. You can keep two or three of them in flight if your coordination is good enough. Add more than that to your routine and you'll probably get smacked in the face.
jjoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly this is why employers and early investors give preference to Ivy League graduates. That's likely because the programs ensure graduates are most likely to push the bar higher and achieve. But those who make the exception list (achievers non-league) turn out to be even stronger achievers because their determination comes from deep within rather than from training.

Disclosure: I'm not a leaguer.

smoyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with advice that you should document your idea in your notebook, but don't put any immediate effort into implementing it. The ideas you keep coming back to are the ones that you're truly interested in ... and yet you still have to be careful that those are viable ideas.

In any case, rushing after each new idea is a great way to spend time, but you need that time to be executing on the few ideas you actually choose to pursue.

ipetepete 2 days ago 1 reply      
I read somewhere recently that if you fantasize/talk about your ideas/goals it triggers your brain to let you feel a similar satisfaction for actually accomplishing the said idea/goal. Of course now I can't find the article so take it with a grain of salt.

I did find this article which is related


geolisto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know exactly where you're coming from. In my studies I've found this behavior common amongst people that are INTJs (including myself). I would comically refer to myself as a serial project starter. I finally realized the pattern of getting all excited, pushing out a lot of code, and then abandoning the project a month in long before it's done. Launching my site yesterday was a relief to finish a project and push it out for the world to see. Even if nobody uses it I'm glad that I finished something.
avighnay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excited, dive right in, run the tutorial, get to the first block, (optional - google try 1, google try 2) and yawnnnnn, next please...

This one has a reverse interest for most entrepreneurs, how do you get your product past the initial excitement and impending boredom of the customer?

JoachimS 1 day ago 1 reply      
For me gamification works. I'm a sucker for the stats Github can display for a project. And keeping that streak going.

I've started to throw all my embarrasing, childish project onto github. If someone files a comment regarding how bad something is - great, then I have something concrete to fix.

And having a lot of projects open means there is always something easy to fix to keep the streak going. Suddenly projects move forward, albeit one small commit at a time.

This way I have actually completed more projects in years.

standup75 2 days ago 0 replies      
I experienced this. I have a lot of started projects on my mac. Some i spent a few days on, other i spent a few months. In 2011 I started a game and that was the first project I finished (spiderdash.net). Although not really finished, but close enough. It took me over a year, and I really like it. What I realized, is that I do love the execution actually, but I am too unsure of the potential to focus on anything else, that is sales and marketing. So in the past 6 months I started building the ideas of my friends, I get them engaged because it's their ideas, and I get to do just the execution with the right amount of freedom. If you're like me, do things, but do it with someone else. The other good part about this is that you're going to create a unique mix of competencies. My friends are not developers, but they also are subject matter experts. So we are mixing 2 very different kind of expertise, and that's rich.
rajbala 2 days ago 0 replies      
I no longer care about what people think. I care that I may not get enough people to think anything at all.
billnguyen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I struggle with this too, my github/bitbucket is a barren wasteland of half finished products. I believe that its fully a mindset thing and realize that success is not an accident nor some ephemeral spark of genius. Success is a a choice, every day.

I find this YT video on Steph Curry to be an amazing story of how success is built by they choices we make every day.


'Are the habits you have for today on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?' Not yet... but its getting there.

jlwarren1 2 days ago 1 reply      
I started to read this article, but I gave up about half way through.
krrishd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think one of the biggest things that causes is losing faith in your idea. No matter how good it is, the more you think about it without doing anything to go along with the thinking, your brain will naturally find minute flaws in the idea, making you move on.
bartl 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's the "doing things" that I have least trouble with. It's the other things, the things that he does first, that I have trouble with.
brennanm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Same way. I'm a 30%'er. I'll do the name, branding, front end mockups... but then I'll lose it. I wont want to dive into the back and write any backend or server code.

That's why you need a team. Everyone has optimistic days and pessimistic days. On a good team you all wont have them at exactly the same time. You're team will push you through and help you finish.

duochrome 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've finished something before. It pays back somehow.

But now I barely working on anything. I admit I don't like any work at all. Working for Google or SpaceX? No.

I think we want to finish something because we are not satisfied with our current life. If you feel your current status is okay, it's not easy to get motived to put yourself into some extra work.

marsay 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article gave me idea for a new project. Yes, it's all clear in my head and I have to start working on it right now and abandon all other projects.

A site where you take responsibility for finishing your project. If you don't, you will pay heavy price. Lets say we will spam your inbox with a thousands of letters that remind you of your promises.

iterable 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's why investors put so much weight on the team. Execution is 90%. We've all heard this endless times. But it really hits you in the face when you actually do a startup. A team that can't execute will probably f*ck up a great idea, whereas a team that can execute can do wonders with a mediocre idea
popasmurf 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article inspired me to complete a project I started halfway through last year.

Very good read!

taproot 6 hours ago 0 replies      
You an me b
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
What does "anyth" mea
melling 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Real artists ship."
Gaurav322 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is really motivating article and today, I am going to generate a best marketing strategy for tumblr and try to execute that. (only one as you say)...
hiccup 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it awful that I didn't finish reading his post?
cusx 1 day ago 0 replies      
great timely post! thank you !
AMD launches Kaveri processors aimed at starting a computing revolution venturebeat.com
297 points by mactitan  5 days ago   187 comments top 39
pvnick 5 days ago 5 replies      
Among other things, this has lots of applications for molecular dynamics (computational chemistry simulations) [1]. Before you had to transfer data over to the GPU, which if you're dealing with small data sets and only computationally limited is no big deal. But when you get bigger data sets that becomes a problem. Integrating the GPU and the CPU means they both have access to the same memory, which makes parallelization a lot easier. If, as someone else here said, AMD is partnering with Oracle to abstract the HSA architecture with something more high-level like java [2], then you don't need to go learn CUDA or Mantle or whatever GPU language gets cooked up just for using that hardware.

I'm personally hoping that not only will we get to see more effective medicines in less time, maybe some chemistry research professors will get to go home sooner to spend time with their kids.

[1] http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/gpu/

[2] http://semiaccurate.com/2013/11/11/amd-charts-path-java-gpu/

pron 5 days ago 3 replies      
AMD is doing some interesting work with Oracle to make it easy to use HSA in Java:

* http://semiaccurate.com/2013/11/11/amd-charts-path-java-gpu/

* http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/jvmls2013caspole-2013...

* http://developer.amd.com/community/blog/2011/09/14/i-dont-al...

* http://openjdk.java.net/projects/sumatra/

It is intended that the GPU will be used transparently by Java code employing Java 8's streams (bulk collection operations, akin to .Net's LINQ), in addition to more explicit usage (compile Java bytecode to GPU kernels).

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 2 replies      
This reaffirms for me again that we really need AMD to keep Intel from falling asleep at the wheel. I was certainly intrigued by what I saw in the Xbox One and PS4 announcements and being able to try some of that tech out will be pretty awesome.

It is fascinating for me how FPUs were "always" co-processors but GPUs only recently managed to get to that point. Having GPUs on the same side of the MMU/Cache as processors is pretty awesome. I wonder if that continues though what it means for the off chip GPU market going forward.

amartya916 5 days ago 1 reply      
For a review of a couple of the processors in the Kaveri range: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7677/amd-kaveri-review-a8-7600...
AshleysBrain 5 days ago 2 replies      
I have a question: Previous systems with discrete GPU memory had some pretty insane memory bandwidths which helped them be way faster than software rendering. Now GPU and CPU share memory. Doesn't that mean the GPU is limited to slower system RAM speeds? Can it still perform competitively with discrete cards? Or is system RAM now as fast as discrete-card bandwidth? If so does that mean software rendering is hardware-fast as well? Bit confused here...
bvk 5 days ago 2 replies      
The comparison is hardly disingenuous: the i5 may not be given Intel's highest branding designation, but it is an enthusiast processor and only a slight step down from the top-of-the-line i7-4770k, lacking only hyperthreading.

And this is completely irrelevant, since the i5-4670k ships with Intel's highest integrated graphics option for desktop chips, which is what is being compared to the A10-7850k.

At the moment AMD's processors can't compete with Intel at the high end. It makes no sense to berate a company for not doing what it can't.

networked 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting development indeed. In light of http://images.anandtech.com/doci/7677/04%20-%20Heterogeneous... I wonder if we'll soon see a rise in cheap, low-power consumption dedicated servers meant for GPU-accelerated tasks (e.g., for an image host to run accelerated ImageMagick on to resize photographs). Do you think this would be viable in terms of price/performance?

And in case you were, like me, wondering about how much the new AMD CPUs improve on improve on their predecessors' single-thread performance you can find some benchmarks at http://www.anandtech.com/show/7677/amd-kaveri-review-a8-7600....

tommi 5 days ago 2 replies      
Kaveri means 'Buddy' in Finnish. I guess the CPU and graphics are buddies in this case.
GigabyteCoin 5 days ago 3 replies      
Any initial insights as to whether this new CPU/GPU combo will play any nicer with linux than previous AMD GPUs?

Setting up Catalyst and getting my ATI Radeon cards to work properly in a linux setup is probably my least favorite step in setting up a linux computer.

anonymfus 5 days ago 3 replies      
ck2 5 days ago 2 replies      
AMD needs to die shrink their R9 chip to 20nm or less and put four of them on a single pci-e board.

They'd make a fortune.

transfire 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hey, they finally built an Amiga-on-a-chip!
dmmalam 5 days ago 0 replies      
This could be an interesting solution for a compact steambox, essentially very similar to the hardware in the ps4 & xbox one, though I wonder if the lack of memory bandwidth would hurt performance noticeably.
jjindev 5 days ago 0 replies      
"AMD says Kaveri has 2.4 billion transistors, or basic building blocks of electronics, and 47 percent of them are aimed at better, high-end graphics."

This sentence would have been so much better off if they'd just punted on the weak explanation of "transistor" and left it to anyone unsure to look it up.

malkia 5 days ago 3 replies      
Old ATI chips were named Rage. Kaveri seems to be a river in India.... but it would've been much more cooler if it was named Kolaveri, which according to my poor translation skills must mean Rage in Indian (or one of it's dialects - possibly tamil).

And then there is the song... :)

fidotron 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is great progress, and the inevitable way we're going to head for compute heavy workloads. Once the ability to program the GPU side really becomes commonplace then the CPU starts to look a lot less important and more like a co-ordinator.

The question is, what are those compute bound workloads? I'm not persuaded that there are too many of them anymore, and the real bottleneck for some time with most problems has been I/O. This even extends to GPUs where fast memory makes a huge difference.

Lack of bandwidth has ended up being the limiting factor for every program I've written in the last 5 years, so my hope is while this is great for compute now the programming models it encourages us to adopt can help us work out the bandwidth problem further down the road.

Still, this is definitely the most exciting time in computing since the mid 80s.

jcalvinowens 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is interesting, but my experience is that Intel's CPU's are so monumentally superior that it will take a lot more than GPU improvements to make me start buying AMD again.

Specifically I'm dealing with compile workloads here: compiling the Linux kernel on my Haswell desktop CPU is almost a 4x speedup over an AMD Bulldozer CPU I used to have. I used to think people exaggerated the difference, but they don't: Intel is really that much better. And the Haswells have really closed the price gulf.

Torn 5 days ago 0 replies      
> It is also the first series of chips to use a new approach to computing dubbed the Heterogeneous System Architecture

Are these not the same sort of AMD APU chips used in the PS4, i.e. the PS4 chips already have HSA?

According to the following article, The PS4 has some form of Jaguar-based APU: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/171375-reverse-engineered...

rbanffy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Are there open-source drivers or will the driver builders have to reverse engineer the thing?
sharpneli 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks really cool. However it suffers from the same issue as their Mantle API suffers from. The actual interesting features are still just hype with no way of us accessing them.

Yeah the HW supports them but before the drivers are actually out (HSA drivers are supposedly out at Q2 2014) nothing fancy can be done. It'll probably be at end of 2014 until the drivers are performant and robust enough to be of actual use.

vanderZwan 5 days ago 2 replies      
Here's something that confuses me, and maybe someone with better know-how can explain this:

1: The one demo of Mantle I have seen so far[1] says they are GPU bound in their demo, even after underclocking the CPU processor.

2: Kaveri supports Mantle, but claims to be about 24% faster than Intel HD processors, which are decent, but hardly in the ballpark of the type of powerful graphics cards used in the demo.

So combining those two, aren't these two technologies trying to pull in different directions?

[1] Somewhere around the 26 minute mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIWyf8Hyjbg

grondilu 5 days ago 0 replies      
The A-Series APUs are available today.

It's nice to read a tech article about a new tech that is available now, and not in an unknown point in the future.

higherpurpose 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Nvidia would join HSA already, and stop having such a Not Invented Here mentality.
codereflection 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's really nice to see AMD getting back into being a game changer.
hosh 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a bit slow on the uptake ... but does this remind anyone of the Cell architecture? How different are those two architectures?
rch 5 days ago 0 replies      
> the power consumption will range from 45 watts to 95 watts. CPU frequency ranges from 3.1 gigahertz to 4.0 gigahertz.

I was fairly dispassionate until the last paragraph. My last Athlon (2003-ish) system included fans that would emit 60dB under load. Even if I haven't gotten exactly the progress I would have wanted, I have to admit that consumer kit has come a long way in a decade.

annasaru 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice name. A majestic river in South India.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaveri
jsz0 5 days ago 1 reply      
The problem I see with AMD's APUs is the GPU performance, even if it's twice as fast as Intel's GPUs, both Intel & AMD's integrated GPUs are totally adequate for 2D graphics, low end gaming, and light GPU computing. Both require a discrete card for anything more demanding. IMO AMD is sacrificing too much CPU performance. Users with very basic needs will never notice the GPU is 2x faster and people with more demanding needs will be using a discrete GPU either way.
dkhenry 5 days ago 1 reply      
So we finally get to see what HSA can bring to the table.
belorn 5 days ago 1 reply      
Will the APU and graphic card cooperate to form a multi-GPU with single output? It sounds as it could create a more effective gaming platform than a CPU and GPU combo.
devanti 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hope to see AMD back in its glory days since the Athlon XP
erikj 5 days ago 0 replies      
The wheel of reincarnation [1] keeps spinning. I hardly see anything revolutionary behind the barrage of hype produced by AMD's marketing department.

[1] http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/W/wheel-of-reincarnation.htm...

lispm 5 days ago 0 replies      
So the next computing revolution is based on more power hungry chips for gamers?
adrianwaj 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how well they can be used for mining scrypt.
imdsm 5 days ago 1 reply      
How do I get one?
ebbv 5 days ago 2 replies      
All of Intel's recent mass market chips have had built in GPUs as well. That's not particularly revolutionary. The article itself states "9 out of 10" computers sold today have an integrated GPU. That 9 out of 10 is Intel, not AMD.

The integrated GPUs make sense from a mass market, basic user point of view. The demands are not high.

But for enthusiasts, even if the on die GPU could theoretically perform competitively with discrete GPUs (which is nonsensical if only due to thermal limits), discrete GPUs have the major advantage of being independently upgradeable.

Games are rarely limited by CPU any more once you reach a certain level. But you will continue to see improvements from upgrading your GPU, especially as the resolution of monitors is moving from 1920x1200 to 2560x1440 to 3840x2400.

higherpurpose 5 days ago 1 reply      
> AMD now needs either a Google or Microsoft to commit to optimizing their operating system for HSA to seal the deal, as it will make software that much easier to write.

I'd say this is perfect for Android, especially since it deals with 3 architectures at once: ARM, x86, MIPS (which will probably see a small resurgence once Imagination releases its own MIPS cores and on a competitive manufacturing process), and AMD is already creating a native API for JVM, so it's probably not hard to do it for Dalvik, too. It would be nice to see support for it within a year. Maybe it would convince Nvidia to support it, too, with their unified-memory Maxwell-based chip next year, instead of trying to do their own thing.

X4 5 days ago 0 replies      
Want to buy, now! Can someone give me a hand at choosing a motherboard or something that allows using about 4 to 8 of these APU's?
noonereally 5 days ago 1 reply      
"Kaveri" is name of one of major river in India. Must have involved ( or headed) by Indian guy.


For the Love of Money nytimes.com
296 points by fchollet  9 hours ago   141 comments top 17
tkiley 7 hours ago 7 replies      
I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners.

Is this statement (from the article) true?

I'm under the impression that financial innovations throughout history have generally spurred capital investment. Innovations like fractional-reserve lending have made bankers&investors wealthy, but also spurred spending on infrastructure in a way that could be a win-win for society as a whole.

If today's financial wizards went away, would we feel a surprising amount of ripple impact, or would they really just not matter?

31reasons 4 hours ago 6 replies      
I am just wondering, are these Wall Street traders smarter than an average techie working in Silicon Valley ? Are they so irreplaceable that they are offered so much salary and bonuses ? It just doesn't seem right. I am afraid to even ask for 150k salary in SV for the same amount of cerebral work.
michaelochurch 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I've worked in finance. There are all types. Sure, there are asshole alpha traders who whine about $2 million bonuses. Those guys are pretty uncommon, they're disliked even in spite of their P&L, and no one helps them when they get unlucky. There are also people who don't think or live very differently from respectable professors-- except who have $12 million in their bank account instead of $12. There some pathological "wealth addicts" in finance, but not that many; and there are far more in the VC-funded startup world. (VC-istan is essentially Wall Street with a lower talent level and worse ethics.)

I used to think it was a negative that Europe doesn't have the same "class" mobility. If you're rich in Germany or England, you're still considered middle-class. Politicians don't worship you, your kids still have to work hard if they are to attend good schools, et cetera. (The "upper classes" are hereditary aristocracies that have lost 80-95% of their wealth, privilege, and relevance.) You can't become upper-class if you weren't born into it, but the flip side of that is that middle-class people can rise quite high. (There's less mobility in social class, but more in terms of things that actually matter-- economic well-being, access to education, etc.) The sickness of the US is that we unify wealth, power, privilege, fame, and social connections by creating an efficient market through which people can trade one for another. Instead of having a society where some people have more money and some have less, we have this toxic arrangement where some people are just implicitly held to be universally better.

The issue for the OP (who sounds like a self-indulgent twat, to be honest) is that he learned the hard way that making more money didn't make him a better person-- at all. It didn't make him smarter, happier, or anything else. He met his God and saw vapor.

The sad thing is that he's still better off than any of us. If he wants to start a hedge fund tomorrow, or raise a $5-million seed round for whatever project he wants to take on, he's got the credibility to do it. If he doesn't feel like working hard, he could probably use his VC connections as a cash cow by funding young startup kids on a shoestring while taking an unreasonable percentage in equity (although that's been done before).

yodsanklai 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I dont have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All Im concerned with is how this affects our company.

I wonder how many people really understand the system as whole. From the outside, it looks like a complex natural phenomenon that we don't really understand and don't control.

yodsanklai 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"I recently got an email from a hedge-fund trader who said that though he was making millions every year, he felt trapped and empty, but couldnt summon the courage to leave."

I don't find it surprising. Many people feel that way about their job. It must take a lot of courage to leave such a lucrative career.

CreakyParrot 6 hours ago 3 replies      
TL;DR: He used to use drugs and booze to deal with his insecurities. Then he used money. Now he (apparently) uses the attention that comes from telling everyone how wise and honorable he has become.
frogpelt 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the ugly underbelly of capitalism: that people aren't paid based upon their "importance". They are simply paid based upon their "value" to the market. Is it important for Clayton Kershaw to pitch for the Dodgers? No, but it is demanded.

While I understand the sentiment of wanting to help the poorest of the poor, if it's true that money isn't the be-all, end-all then does it really matter that a trader makes millions while a nurse practitioner only makes $100k? The money isn't what's important, right? And the poorest of the poor in this country are rich compared to the poor from previous generations.

ilaksh 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
We need to change the structure/paradigm to make so much inequality technically infeasible.
yodsanklai 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I find the finance world quite fascinating! Some of those guys are super wealthy even though they have what looks like regular technical office jobs. With the same skills in a different industry, they would have had "normal" salaries.
logicallee 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I like how after all that, he ends with an ask for a quarter of his readers' bonuses to start a fund for his philanthropy

old habits die hard :)

rwissmann 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Just to point it out: The comments under Readers' Picks and NYT Picks are really worth reading as well.
mindcrime 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Yay, more villifying "Wall Street" and fueling the "Wall Street vs. Main Street" fire, and suggesting that it's somehow noble or good to not want to be rich.

I think everybody should want to be rich.

I've tried poverty and in my opinion - it sucks. It sucks big, steaming donkey balls.

The desire to make more money, to improve one's "lot in life" and to succeed, this is a Good Thing. Because a few assholes go too far in some ways, or do bad things along the path, does not change the fundamentals.

You can be rich and unhappy, or poor and unhappy. Given a choice, if I'm going to be unhappy, I'd rather at least be rich.

No one should feel any need to apologize or feel guilty about wanting to make money, even lots of money. If you want to be a fucking billionaire, go become a billionaire. Just feel guilty if you lie, or cheat or steal, or otherwise do unethical things to get there. And remember that having more money doesn't make you a better person, or intrinsically more valuable.

auvrw 4 hours ago 0 replies      
yeah, that's pretty f'd up, but it's good that the guy's moving on with his life.

i wonder how much time it'll take until we get to a star-trek-like economic system where people do the things they want to do to the extent that their abilities allow and noone can make the excuse, "i'm not interested in money. i'm interested in what money lets me do."

i like that this guy just came out and said, "yeah, i was interested in the money for its own sake." it sounds a lot less noble, but it seems a lot more honest to me than any other justification for having far, far more cash than any one person really needs, except for, "i'm giving it to charity."

read 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What stood out for me was this sentence:

From a distance I can see what I couldnt see then

Why is it that when you are close you're unable to see something for what it is?

Montareo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I personally find the comments here, written by so-called "hackers", truly depressing.

Instead of tinkering about how the system can be made more just, viable, etc., instead of "hacking", the only "idea" that comes to the minds of so-called "innovators" is: how can i become THAT rich ?, where do i have to sign ?.

Sad, depressing, disgusting, predictable.

shmerl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Love of money? Sounds bad already.
yetanotherphd 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I think the author has suffered from a lot of psychological pain stemming from his childhood, and I can sympathize a lot with that. I think he really did have a wealth addiction, like he describes.

However, that doesn't generalize to the entire industry. People (especially men) like money and power because of the benefits they brings. It doesn't have to be an addiction. Furthermore, the idea that it would take an addiction to wealth not to see how immoral the finance industry is, is reliant on having very specific (and wrong, in my opinion) political views.

Project Euler projecteuler.net
293 points by gprasanth  5 days ago   134 comments top 35
jboggan 5 days ago 5 replies      
The best technical interview I ever had involved picking a random Project Euler problem in the hundreds and pair-programming our way through it. The CTO wrote his version in Python and I worked in Perl . . . he was astounded mine ran 8x faster.

The same company also had regular hack night where everyone drinks a lot of Tecate, agress on a Project Euler problem and a language no one knows, and races. Fun times.

habosa 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can't adequately express how great of a resource Project Euler is to someone learning about programming.

The way I learned to code was working my way through Project Euler problems in Python, eventually getting to a score of about 55 before I was at the point where I decided to try making "real" programs like Android apps.

When you learn to code people tell you that X or Y is bad for performance, and you should do A or B instead. The problem is that most beginner-type programs run in a few milliseconds and there is no way to see the performance either way. When you're doing a PE problem, a performance tweak can change your answer from a 1-minute runtime to a 1-second runtime. That's something anyone can appreciate, and it lets you experiment with performance on interesting math problems.

Another advantage of Project Euler is it makes you realize just how powerful a computer can be in the right hands. These are problems that nobody in their right mind would try to solve by hand, but they're so tractable with programming knowledge. That was a very exciting realization to me and it pushed me towards a career in software.

b0b0b0b 5 days ago 5 replies      
I love project euler, but I've come to the realization that its purpose is to beat programmers soundly about the head and neck with a big math stick. At work last week, we were working on project euler at lunch, and had the one CS PhD in our midst not jumped up and explained the chinese remainder theorem to us, we wouldn't have had a chance.
FigBug 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was really into Project Euler when I had a job where I didn't have to do anything. I've solved 122 problems. Now I work for myself and don't have the time, as well I solved all I was able to solve. I last solved a problem in 2009 I think.

It's fun, I encourage everybody to do a few. Get past the easy ones at least.

henrik_w 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another good one for (more general) programming problems is Programming Praxis: http://programmingpraxis.com/
mixedbit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love project Euler. A nice way to improve programming skills in a new language is to go through others solutions in the same language after you solved a problem. This allows to break bad habits. Say you are a C programmer learning Ruby or Lisp, 'C-ish' approach will often seem the most straightforward, but will rarely be optimal and idiomatic in the new language you are learning.
asgard1024 5 days ago 2 replies      
I solved about 80 of them, then my interest waned a little. But I wonder, are there any hints or recommended reading for the harder ones? Some of them I have no idea how to even start working on..
gaius 5 days ago 2 replies      
A dozen Project Euler solutions in a given language can be an excellent pre-interview candidate screening technique. Quite simple to check for plagiarism too, within reason.
datawander 5 days ago 1 reply      
To be honest, I'm shocked this is on the front page as this website has been out for years and already notably mentioned, but I guess it's good to recycle very important websites for those who haven't heard of it.

My favorite problems is 98. This problem, along with the Sudoku one at 96, require much more careful programming than some of the others due the drastically fewer number of people who solved it compared to the surrounding problems.

bradleyjg 5 days ago 0 replies      
These are a lot of fun to do, especially in a new language you want to play with. However they are as much an exercise of your math skills (mostly basic number theory and combinatorics) as programming. One thing I'd suggest is that you pick an algorithm reference and stick with it, if you google anything too specific you will come across one of the many sites where people have blogged about thier solutions.
dmunoz 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of good links to similar sites in this comment thread.

I enjoy Project Euler, but as with many people slowly got annoyed by lack of specific mathematical knowledge as opposed to programming. One thing I believe would really help with this would be a resource that discussed the problem in the abstract. As an example, for most of the programs that rely on using primes, whether it be iterating them (e.g. first 1M primes) or the unique prime factorization of a number, discuss the known algorithms in pseudocode. Perhaps this is a bit much, as I would be satisfied with just knowing the words I need to go find resources for myself. This is what I tend to do anyway after I have taken a fair stab at a problem: "Oh, I'm doing prime factorization. I wonder if there are better algorithms than I have used." Indeed, one resource for this is the forums that are made available after the problem is solved.

Some might see this as ruining the fun, but I would personally have more fun and solve more problems if this was available.

Karunamon 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm trying to go through this with Ruby right now and having a lot of fun. Being a bit rusty on basic algorithms and higher algebra has not helped much, though.
blacksmythe 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you are not challenged by these problems, here is an alternative that I found considerably more difficult:


captn3m0 5 days ago 0 replies      
Tangentially related: I made a pseudo-terminal web interface to Project Euler called CodeBot[1]. You can view problems, submit solutions, and do much more (some *nix commands work) in your browser. Its even open-source[2] on GitHub

[1]: http://codebot.sdslabs.co.in/

[2]: http://github.com/sdslabs/codebot

kozikow 5 days ago 0 replies      
In my opinion it may be better to do practice SRMs/Codeforces contests instead of project Euler. Topcoder rank imo tends to mean more, since it is timed. If someone says "I solved x problems on site X" you can't say if he done it in days or weeks of effort. If someone says he's red on topcoder you can say he's awesome.
kylemaxwell 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those interested I keep a list of these sorts of things at https://github.com/technoskald/coding-entertainment.
ahuth 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's only one problem for me with Project Euler. Eventually, the problems become more about coming up with the mathematical algorithm you need to solve it.

That may be what you want. However, a lot of these are outside my math knowledge/ability, without really expanding my programming ability.

doughj3 5 days ago 2 replies      
Project Euler is great but as others here have said it is very math focused. Can anyone share other programming challenge sites? I saw one the other day here on HN in a comment but can't find it again. The only thing I remember is the problem I checked out was a kind of AI / pathfinding for a "floor cleaning robot" and code was submitted directly in the page.

[Edit] Just found it going through my history: https://www.hackerrank.com/

donquichotte 5 days ago 3 replies      
Problem that has been solved by the smallest number of people (31): http://projecteuler.net/problem=453
selectnull 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love it, although I found I lack math knowledge to really be good at it.

I enjoyed solving a few of those problems using SQL, that was fun.

yankoff 5 days ago 1 reply      
Project Euler is great. Another one, but more algorithm and CS oriented: hackerrank.com
JakeStone 5 days ago 0 replies      
I always love this site for when things get a little slow and I think I could use some relaxation.

Then I remember that I only took a little bit of math, so then there's the research, the papers to read and decipher, the code to write, and I finally solve the problem and swear I'll never come back.

So, yeah, I just finished a batch of problems last week so I could get a couple of ego badges just within reach. 75 down, 379 to go!

aezell 5 days ago 0 replies      
I always liked this set of challenges/riddles, though it is directed at Python specifically. I appreciated that it forced you to deal with some Internet-related programming tools and concepts.


lquist 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I see a github with 30+ solved Project Euler problems, 99% chance it becomes a hire.
wanda 5 days ago 1 reply      
Weird, I was just talking about this earlier when someone asked for productive activity on train journeys to/from work.

I used to do these problems years ago when I was still a student and later when commuting to London. I did as many as I could on paper before trying to program solutions. I'll have to log in sometime and finish the few I missed.

elwell 5 days ago 2 replies      
How does it work? Do you submit code or just input your answer as a number?
prothid 5 days ago 1 reply      
This site is great fun to tinker with a new programming language.
elwell 4 days ago 0 replies      
How does a site this old get so many upvotes? whatever, I guess it's worth bringing back into the collective consciousness.
careersuicide 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a little side project I've been working on for a few months: https://github.com/seaneshbaugh/rosetta-euler/

I've been a little busy lately so it's been neglected somewhat. Why is Prolog so hard?

sricciardi 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used it to learn the basics of F# and solving algorithms using a functional approach.
Sgoettschkes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Learning haskell with ProjectEuler right now. It's great and after solving it, one can always look up the forums and improve the own code or learn different ways to implement the solution!
veritas9 5 days ago 1 reply      
On CodeEval.com we have over 126+ executable programming challenges in 18 languages :)
yetanotherphd 5 days ago 0 replies      
The best and worst thing about project Euler is the binary feedback they give you: either you pass or you fail.

On the one hand, it is a good lesson in how hard it can be to write correct code.

On the other hand, real world problems aren't black boxes where you try an integer until you get the right one. Problems with multiple tests needed to pass (like topcoder) are much more realistic.

jbeja 5 days ago 2 replies      
I will start this with python.
Announcing The Matasano/Square CTF matasano.com
282 points by alepper  3 days ago   71 comments top 26
tptacek 3 days ago 4 replies      
Go easy on us for a bit; this is a fresh deploy in a new environment and it's bound to be janky. The odds of it not completely asploding tonight are pretty low.

Happy to answer questions.

One obvious question we haven't answered: how long will it be up for? Answer: a'unno. Until it gets boring? Or super expensive? We're in no rush to shut it down. I've never understood why awesome CTF events are so eager to shut down.

Here's what it looks like:


We're on Freenode #uctf if you want to bug us live.

In case you're interested: this is a very small Rails app talking to an emulator we wrote in Golang that exports an HTTP/JSON interface.

haberman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked a lot in assembly, but never tried to exploit anything before. This is like crack.

I've always been meaning to try out a few public problem sets of this sort that a couple university security courses publish. Theirs are often based on a VM image with various binaries inside them that you are supposed to exploit. While those would probably have the advantage of being slightly more relevant to my everyday work (since they're running a Linux OS/environment more like the one I regularly use and program for), this contest makes it much easier to get over the hump of setting everything up, and of course the points/competition aspect is highly motivating.

Nicely done. :)

haberman 3 days ago 2 replies      
PSA for people like me who aren't security specialists: "shellcode" (in the survey) does not mean "a shell script", it means this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellcode
gibybo 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain what "cmp.b@r13, 0x2400(r14)" does, and/or how I would find out myself?

I looked through the manual and saw the instruction 'cmp' tests the two parameters for equivalence, but I don't see 'cmp.b' anywhere. I found the TI manual for the instruction set which happens to say something about '.B' being a byte operation, but I'm not sure if that's related.

The tutorial explained that @r13 uses the value in memory for the address in register 13, but '0x2400(r14)' is really confusing.

I was thinking it just meant register 14, but that doesn't seem to be the case because the comparison fails when r14 (which is the value 0x0000 at this point) and @r13 match. I thought it also could mean the literal value '0x2400', but the comparison still seems to fail when it should match, and that doesn't explain the r14 in parenthesis at the end of it.

orthecreedence 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to jump at hacking challenges in high school, blowing off homework and in the summers staying up til 5am.

Nowadays I see these and I have to practically tie myself to the ship's mast to not drop everything I'm doing and sink days into it. I couldn't resist with Stripe's CTF but had to quit after I got busy. This one's especially hard because I love tinkering/building embedded devices.

I guess the point is please, please keep this running as long as you can so I can have a crack at it when I'm not working day and night =].

jwise0 3 days ago 2 replies      
During the tutorial, it seems like the memory dump goes blank for me (it loses its scroll bars, and loses its contents) -- http://i.imgur.com/ta9iykd.png

This is Firefox 25.0~b1+build1-0ubuntu0.12.04.1, on Ubuntu 12.04. I'll try it on something more modern when I get home.

Looking forward to it!

IgorPartola 2 days ago 1 reply      
Dean Pelton: Agnes, cancel all my appointments.

Agnes: What appointments?

Dean Pelton: ...Wishful thinking.

Damn. There goes my weekend.

neur0mancer 3 days ago 1 reply      
The lock (fake) manual is available here:


strags 2 days ago 2 replies      
FYI - On level 3, the "okay" button is obscured by the page footer, and can't be clicked on one of my machines. Scolling down doesn't help, the button remains obscured by the page footer which scrolls with the page.
jweather 1 day ago 1 reply      
PWNED! I've never been one to shout at my computer, even in multiplayer games, but I've been doing plenty of yelling over here, and a few victory dances too.

This is AWESOME, thank you for putting it together. This should be mandatory training for developers in languages with no bounds checking. It's downright scary how easy some of these exploits can be. Yes, I know x86 makes things more complicated, but I had no idea the basic concepts could be so simple after reading disclosures about buffer overflows, stack smashing, and other spoilery stuff I won't mention here. Working on Algiers right now.

Minor bugs: I like to hit "enter" in the debugger to keep single stepping, but every now and then the focus disappears from the input window. Typing "s" works because it seems to jump back to the window, but typing "enter" does nothing.

Several levels produce garbled text from puts() -- doesn't affect the playability, just looks funny. Or maybe you fixed that already, I'm not able to reproduce it now.

It would be nice to be able to copy/paste from the memory dump to the disassembler without having to trim the other columns off first.

And the cherry on top: remember my "hide box headers" setting. Thanks!

gibybo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Possible bug in the score board:

In most cases, it won't let me see the scores for levels that I haven't beaten yet. Presumably this is because seeing the input size and min cpu cycles would be a strong hint about how to solve the level.

However, when viewing a particular user's profile (e.x. https://microcorruption.com/profile/294), it shows their completion stats for the level you are currently on, despite having not beaten it yet. The levels after it are still obscured, though.

nardi 2 days ago 0 replies      
And then it turns out that this was a massive Mechanical Turk.
richadams 2 days ago 0 replies      
I encourage anyone who's avoiding taking part because they don't know assembly or reverse engineering to at least give the tutorial a try, you might just surprise yourself!

Having not really touched assembly that much before, I found the tutorial to be an excellent introduction. I'm now battling with level 4 after thinking I wouldn't even get past the first level.

Great work Matasano & Square!

midas007 2 days ago 0 replies      
darklajid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Encountered quite some bugs with FF (Aurora here), most prominently the highlight wasn't updated when I moved a step forward.

Suggestion on top of that: It would be really nice to grab the whole 'firmware' and dump it to a local .hex file. If that isn't allowed for obvious reasons/by design: Fair enough.

dcwilson 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is worried about participating because they don't understand this domain very well, don't be. The tutorial is very useful, and the interface is generally very nice. Check it out.
Veraticus 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is embarrassing, but... I'm totally stuck on puzzle #2 (Sydney) since the cmp doesn't seem to match up with what's in memory, and I bet that the puzzles won't get any easier from here! Is there a good resource, trove of documentation, or excellent book for those of us who would love to learn how to do this stuff? The tutorial great, but it was definitely pretty basic.
spydum 3 days ago 0 replies      
I put my credit card number in, and it didn't give me an account. Did I do it wrong? Why isn't there a padlock on the signup? Ohh nooo...
adsche 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, I'm having a lot of fun reactivating my assembler knowledge.

Also, I want to compliment you on the interface, my laptop broke yesterday and I'm doing this on a borrowed Acer A500 tablet without any serious problems.

voltagex_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I hope at least the UI is open-sourced at some point - it's really clear and it'd be good for other reversing tutorials.
busterarm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was all excited with myself for passing the first one after the tutorial and then couldn't get past the second...though I've been drinking.

This is very cool and I think would be "even more awesome" if there were a separate version that provided a tutorial for the skills required for each level.

For us 'tards. :P

quantumpotato_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
I went through the tutorial. Seems very cool. Disappointed that "password" worked though - I thought it would show me how to read the value my input was compared to instead of just matching the string (and lucky guessing).
cpher 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone completely inept in this niche, I'm looking forward to the results. I hope you share them. You'll probably have to dumb them down for us commoners.
redshirtrob 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fun. For those looking for more details on the instructions and addressing modes, check out the MSP430 User's Guide:


banachtarski 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just did the first one. This is a lot of fun. Great work!
smoyer 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be a great way to crowd-source the cracking of a digital lock ... I hope you're opening the warehouse that contains all the NSA's secrets (every HN story has to have comments that reference the NSA or they'll be thrown into the dead-pool).
Mother sen.se
282 points by rkrkrk21  5 days ago   193 comments top 76
nostromo 5 days ago 8 replies      
Wait, is this real? It seems like commentary on the current zeitgeist, not a real product.

> Mother. Mother knows everything.

> She's like a mom, only better.

> Sense: the meaning of life

edit: I see they are based in France, so perhaps the branding didn't translate well.

michaelwww 5 days ago 7 replies      
First I've heard of it, but I had the same reaction as Cringley. Maybe it's an age thing.

"Imagine v1 of Big Brother's -- or NSA director Keith Alexander's -- most inflamed fever dream: a sensorbot shaped like a Russian nesting doll wearing a Hindi-cow smile. Then terrifyingly name it "Mother" and build it specifically to monitor as many facets of your personal life as it can. Are you schvitzing yet?"


devindotcom 5 days ago 3 replies      
I played with this at CES. The "mother" bot is basically just a router. The little things only sense motion, and when I asked the lady said they had no plans to add any other types of sensitivity - temperature, moisture, light, current, etc. Compared with the other 'internet of things' kits out there battling for visibility, this one doesn't seem original or more useful, only visually striking. The tags are also pretty big for what they do. A useful thing for $50 maybe to buy once, but really doesn't seem like a worthwhile 'ecosystem' to buy into in any big way.

Also, I was unhappy to learn upon close inspection that the face is a sticker.

cromwellian 5 days ago 2 replies      
The way the thing is filmed with the smiley face and lighting up eyes, I could easily imagine a sci-fi horror film being based around it. :)

More seriously, the idea of using cheap motion trackers to track usage of things in the home is very interesting.

When Google acquires this, it'll make the Nest complaints pale in comparison. :)

CodeMage 5 days ago 7 replies      
That was a really poor choice of a name. It took me less than 10 seconds to start hearing Pink Floyd's "Mother" [1] in my head. Once that started happening, I just couldn't stay objective while looking at the pitch.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0HrrR9QDQU

vertex-four 5 days ago 2 replies      
As a young person who wants to remember to take her pills, to cut down on her soda consumption, to track how much she exercises (and maybe turn it into a game of walking further every week), and no doubt some more that I can't think of right now, this product sounds like it'd be amazing.

The video is a brilliant marketing asset. It showed me some very real problems of mine, and how it could help me solve them (by tracking things that I want to, and gamifying them).

The only issue is cost. As a young, single person, 166 is prohibitively expensive. It's likely not worth it for me. Is it worth it for people with families and kids? If they had 166 to spend, could they find something more pressing to spend it on?

pcurve 4 days ago 2 replies      
We all may be suffering from a case of Fortune 100 CEO syndrome. That is, we all wish our lives are so busy and important that we need personal assistants managing our lives.

So we buy these products that make us feel more important. It documents what we do, and it tells back our story through a dashboard, in an autobiographical way, as if we're some kind of celebrities.

But are we that important?

MartinCron 5 days ago 3 replies      
Just yesterday I posted a quasi-luddite rant about how these smart devices and services are infantalizing.

And now they're naming one Mother? I can't tell if I should feel vindicated or offended.

Jun8 5 days ago 2 replies      
Same French company that created the successful Nabaztag rabbit and then couldn't cope with the traffic. I had my wife buy me one of those for Valentines Day (stupid, I know) and after trying to do something useful with it and getting frustrated I tossed it somewhere in my cube where it remains to this date.

Apart from the super bad naming and Branding, this is another reason for me to stay away from this mother rabbit.

cracell 5 days ago 1 reply      
Cool product but very creepy branding. Might be ok to keep the name Mother but shouldn't be emphasizing it as a "mother" on the site at all.
fab13n 4 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't been so creeped out by an ad for quite some time.

This looks like a solution desperately looking for a problem; that is, unless your problem is "I want to spy every single step of everyone in my family".

And seriously, "mother"? Do they even ever had one, to be that much off-mark? The very first quality of anything motherly is to be human; this is a wireless log collection system. Call it a "warden", or at best "coach", if you really need an anthropomorphic comparison.

gjm11 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is the single creepiest thing I have seen in the last month.
dmazin 5 days ago 1 reply      
God, the future is so fucking weird.
dictum 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mothers watch their sons out of love and genuine care for their wellbeing. Mine did a bad a job and that's why my next sentence will be bitter:

If a company wants to make me use a telescreen, they might as well make it a suppository.

aray 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised it doesn't have wireless. Places I've lived always have the router tucked away in some inaccessible closet.
nilkn 5 days ago 1 reply      
> we reinvented mothers

> Mother knows everything (in red text at that)

> She's like a mom, only better

The branding of this is either creepy or crazy. Maybe it's a bit of both. But I'm certainly not going to forget it, and the idea itself seems pretty interesting.

hrktb 4 days ago 1 reply      
They would have called this little sister, they would avoid so much of tastelessness surrounding their current branding...that put apart, what it's doing is already 50% doable by current smartphones + an arm band eventually (alarm , podometry, sleep control), and the other things it's trying to solve doesn't seem to be solved in a reliable enough fashion.

You'll have to update your coffee capsule count every time you buy them. Buying new packs when the opening the last set of capsule is ny far the easiest way to manage I think.

You'll have to put the sensor on every bottle you drink.

If you care that much about toothbrushing, buy an electric toothbrush. A timer will be integrated telling you when you pass the 2 pr 3 min mark.

Central temperature management would need a programmable device anyway, you'll basically need a Nest I guess.

At the end, It doesn't seem so easy to use in practice, it will forward every life information to an external server, and half of what it does is better solved an other way.

woofyman 5 days ago 0 replies      
It may be an age thing, but it find it creepy and useless. I haven't needed a Mom since I left home at 18.
atmosx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apart from the privacy issues, which the community already raised here, there's another fact that bothers me: Applications do can not discipline yourself for you.

I have tried many applications which should increase by productivity, sleep quality, or you-name-name-it. I don't recall a single one that managed to do so in the long run (most not even in the short run...).

So either one is open to change and that has little to do with technology or... You're toasted anyway. But even when you decide to change for yourself and not because a notification tells you to do so, these technologies become time consuming and troublesome to use. Of course they look nice on TV and ads, but in real life, most of them are frivolous IMHO.

sheraz 4 days ago 0 replies      
More technology where none is needed. How about just being responsible and accountable for our own actions?

  Want to improve ___ about yourself?   Just do it(tm).   Get it done(tm).   Do what it takes. 
I don't need devices and a dashboard to tell me I'm winning at life.

Fuck this arrogant and stupid product.

notlisted 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the concept. Surprised so many here are bugged by the marketing and/or the technology. Maybe you don't have kids (yet)?

Above all, I like the neat interface of the apps (mockups?) and simplicity of the cookie sensors. No charging nonsense, because they measure and buffer stuff but don't transmit. 1yr battery life. 10 day memory.

Sure, I'd love to see additional, more advanced cookies that would require charging, e.g. with built-in LED or vibration (reminding me when I enter or leave, though my phone could serve that purpose), Data, GPS (though my phone could serve this purpose, need an app that intercepts an SMS after presence is detected to auto-upload GPS data), multi-mother stuff (one at work, one at home), integration with home automation systems (someone below mentioned frequencies indicate zigbee), Zapier/IFTT support and above all some sort of data input/output API so I can import my own data points.

By the way, $222 for a mother and 4 sensors seems quite affordable to me.

The only thing that prevents me from pre-ordering a set is that the NaBazTag history doesn't exactly instill much confidence in the makers' ability to support this thing in the long run; I also wonder where the data is stored and if it's remotely future-proof (data import/export/backup).

buro9 5 days ago 1 reply      
The sync module reminds me of the Nabaztag ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabaztag ) and I wondered whether Mother was going to have signals and indicators so that you didn't have to use a mobile device for insight.
ameswarb 5 days ago 2 replies      
Their tagline "Mother knows everything" is terrifying.
state 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like how open-ended this thing is. I wonder if the market is actually ready to move beyond domain-specific sensor hardware and in to something broader. The aesthetic isn't quite my taste, but I'm very curious to see how their users react.
tomphoolery 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is fucking creepy. But like most creepy things, the idea is also kinda neat. :)
avighnay 4 days ago 1 reply      
This thread is a good example why name matters. If the same product was given any other name, perhaps it would not have been noticed that much. A set of motion sensors with a central comm hub.

The makers perhaps thought that the name 'Mother' would evoke care and love in the minds of their users. To their agony, it is revealing in the thread that though most people love their mom, they really do not want to be a 'watched over' kid.

I guess it gives all of us that creepy feeling of guilt as kids when we stole from the cookie jar and kept turning our heads with fear of being caught by mom :-)

Note to self: keep relationship names away from product names, too much friction ;-)

RutZap 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want everything Mother knows/finds out, to be stored locally (i.e. on my pc, not in the cloud), to be kept secure, private and I want to access it at any time from anywhere.... can Mother do that? I don't think so.

Still pretty good but as long as there isn't a privacy promise that would satisfy the basic security principles (Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability) I don't see it as a successful device.

anonu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is really cool and definitely brings us closer to the Internet of Things. I don't think I would have anthropomorphized the system by calling it "Mother" and putting an eerie LED smiley face on the base station.

I can't seem to find any technical info on the "cookies". Are they similar to the technology in the Fitbit Flex, ie Bluetooth Smart coupled with some sort of accelerometer. If that's the case, do the cookies need to be charged every week. This remains the single massive downside to widespread adoption of such devices.

jds375 5 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a pretty cool product. They have an amazing design and a beautifully done website too. Only thing I am a bit concerned about is the price. It costs 222 USD for a base unit and 4 cookies (sensors).Here's a video from CES2014 about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=024OPHSgOqo
zxcvvcxz 4 days ago 0 replies      
As I saw it popping up, I thought "wow that looks like a sex toy." Freudian slip, whoops.

"Sense Mother is at the head of a family of small connected sensors that blend into your daily life to make it serene, healthy and pleasurable."

You never know.

carls 5 days ago 1 reply      
This seems to be a herald to the situation described in the poem All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace (1967) by Richard Brautigan.

  I like to think (and   the sooner the better!)   of a cybernetic meadow  where mammals and computers  live together in mutually  programming harmony  like pure water  touching clear sky.  I like to think  (right now, please!)  of a cybernetic forest  filled with pines and electronics  where deer stroll peacefully  past computers  as if they were flowers  with spinning blossoms.  I like to think  (it has to be!)  of a cybernetic ecology  where we are free of our labors  and joined back to nature,  returned to our mammal  brothers and sisters,  and all watched over  by machines of loving grace.
And yes, incredibly creepy.

EdZachary4 5 days ago 0 replies      
They need the companion "Father - Common sense" to tell you not to waste your money on nonsense like this.
cm2012 4 days ago 0 replies      
To me, this is pretty awesome and not at all creepy (22). A friendly UI and ease of use for life tracking? Yes please. Attach it to barbells to track workouts.
thatthatis 4 days ago 0 replies      
What does it do?

I scrolled to the bottom of the page expecting some kind of explanation of what it is and why I would want it or what need or want it solves. Nothing that I could find.

Geee 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's going on in here? I don't get the negativity. I think the branding is great, and I realized the function of the product immediately. Also I think they presented it in a funny way (programmable mother). It's obvious that it doesn't 'know everything', that was a joke. It has simple sensors and you can collect data from those, there's nothing scary about that. The product is interesting, but however not useful at least for me.
rglover 5 days ago 0 replies      
Will it send me a notification that says "don't disappoint mother" if I forget to do something?
Yetanfou 5 days ago 0 replies      
Apart from all the other emotions which this plastic big sister evokes, I wonder what it is that makes so many of these startups reach back to the crib when it comes to branding their products. From this bastardized matryoshka doll through Snapchat's Miffy-like ghost to Twitter's tweety to just about half the iconography on tablets and smartphones, they all have one thing in common: the more infantile the logo and/or branding, the better it is. Is this idiocracy at work or are they all following some celebrity psychomarketeer's edict about successful marketing to the attention-span deficient generation?
nathan_f77 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is horrible marketing. Seriously, who came up with this creepy design and name.
girvo 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, Defcon last year had a talk where they hacked things (including a Bunny ostensibly for watching your baby in another room) like this. And it was super easy. I wouldn't out this anywhere near my house or life.
samolang 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting concept. Simplify the sensors as much as possible and do all of the work in the software. I'm guessing they have profiles that allow you to determine how a sensor's data is interpreted. I wonder if they allow you to define custom profiles or at least have access to the raw data.
pnathan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Like other people: it's an interesting idea, but the branding is dystopian.
dennisz 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you scroll down far enough, you get to the 'technical details', where the device is described as 'a white mother'. I just found that funny, haha.
jawr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone notice this:

"Cookies immediately send everything they capture to the nearest Mother."

For me, that's a bit of a scary statement considering how intimate the product is meant to be in someone's life.

xianshou 5 days ago 0 replies      
Who knows you better than your mom?

From this marketing, I'd answer...Big Brother.

owenversteeg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I personally think that I don't need to spend $222 on something that seems to be minimally useful. I don't need to monitor how often I brush my teeth, how often I drink coffee, how often I water the plants, and how often I take medication.

For the things on the list that are somewhat useful (like sleep logs + a pedometer + temperature) I have a 1975 pedometer/calculator combo that's worked fine since the day I got it, a notepad, and an infrared thermometer that is a thousand times cooler.

I think the only people that will buy this are people that want Google Analytics for their life.

themoonbus 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping for news about an Earthbound sequel, and instead I got this weird little smiling pod.
paul9290 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks really cool, though I had no idea what this product did based on their bloated landing/homepage.

Just a few picture examples with blurbs of text & a demo video would suffice rather then an infographic type of website.

Roelven 4 days ago 0 replies      
Happy to see the guys behind Violet are not giving up. I believe they're on to something but the branding / language choosing is indeed poor. Whatever they launch with now will surely be extended, I'm hopeful that they've learned a great deal with the Nabaztag (which I've owned one back in the days).
webXL 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cheese.... wait for it... E!

And can I see the product without having to hunt down my country in a gigantic freaking select box first?? Isn't it fundamentally the same in every country?

dlsym 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Mother. Mother knows everything.

I guess it's "Big mother is watching you" then.

Houshalter 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to have an AI virtual assistant that can keep track of and manage all these mundane statistics for me.
jnardiello 5 days ago 0 replies      
Beside the branding thing, i've lost my fitbit one in less than 2 weeks. How long till i lose one of the cookies? Dongles are not for me.
forgotprevpass 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how the signals are being sent from the cookie to Mother? The company mentioned in a CES video that they werent using the traditional bluetooth, wifi, etc.
jrochkind1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Are they TRYING to scare me?
protez 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the most horrendous brandings I've ever seen. Maybe, the horrible branding is intentional, but it's damn too creepy for sane users who dare using their product.
Shtirlic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like this was done before in Green Goose project in 2011 http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/23/green-goose-sensors-monit...
treenyc 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice, however unless all the hardware and software are open sourced. I will not use it in my real life.
75lb 4 days ago 0 replies      
advertising slogan: "It's not enough to pipe every move, call, text and click you make from your smartphone? Mother's sensors are cute, small and funky. Collect more data for US spies today!"
MiWDesktopHack 4 days ago 0 replies      
kill it. kill it with fire.this product collects the kind of personal data that should not be handed to third parties. too ripe for abuse. too much insight into your existence.a scary Orwellian nightmare.
TeeWEE 4 days ago 0 replies      
So when I'm living in the Netherlands I cannot continue? (its not in the list)
sifarat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't how I feel about this, right after watching the 'her' trailer. I am speechless.
xname 4 days ago 0 replies      
Watching the video. First I liked it..... Then I hated it. It's too much. I don't want that kind of life. I don't want Mother to watch at me everyday every moment.
nfoz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Have these people ever seen a mother before?
ilitirit 4 days ago 0 replies      
What does this gadget do?
Houshalter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can people please come up with better names for things, especially not common English words?
dpweb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Expected Pink Floyd link..
mikegriff 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, Ireland doesn't exist. I guess they don't want me to get one, or find out about it.
lcasela 5 days ago 0 replies      
The son could have easily tricked the sensor.
grumbles 4 days ago 0 replies      
I got confused for a second and thought I was still reading 'The Circle' while reading this page.
meandyounowhere 5 days ago 1 reply      
Concept is stupid as FK. Why you need sensors just to know some basic stuff such as taking pills, tracking health etc. You can use app also. All they are doing is using sensor( motion sensors in particular) and send message to your phone. So why would I spend $222 for something where I could just it with $10 reminder app ?
pyrocat 5 days ago 0 replies      
elwell 4 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't look ready.
indigromer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know I'm an unfortunate case but as someone with a recently deceased mother I do not like this one bit.
diu_9_commerce 5 days ago 0 replies      
Bad name - I hate the fact that mother knows everything.
michaelrhansen 5 days ago 0 replies      
makes me want to go bowling
rambojohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
ech, creepy.
PSD to HTML is Dead teamtreehouse.com
282 points by nickpettit  5 days ago   162 comments top 46
wpietri 5 days ago 6 replies      
And thank goodness. If anybody knows where the grave is, I'd like to go piss on it.

As somebody who long ago did print design, I totally get why designers would want pixel-perfect control. It is awesome, but you get that in print because you are physically manufacturing an object and sending it to people. The web was device independent from the get-go. It wasn't your paper anymore; it was their screens. There were a couple of designers I came close to beating to death with their own Pantone books because they refused to get that.

Sadly, the desire for pixel perfection led to trying to force every single user on the planet to conform to the designers' weaknesses and fetish for control. For example, every Flash intro in the world. Or all of the goddamn fixed-width "experiences" that were either too wide for what users wanted their window to be or so narrow that acres of space were wasted. An approach that surely looked fine in presentation to executives, but much less well for actual users.

The great improvements in CSS have definitely helped. But I think the major changes have been the the explosion of form factors (small laptops, giant desktop monitors, tablets, phones) and the rise of a generation of designers for whom the web is a native medium. The old paradigm got harder to force at the same time there were plenty of people who were thinking in a new way.

Planck wrote, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Design, like science, proceeds one funeral at a time. So goodbye, PSD2HTML, and let's quietly put a stake through its heart so it never returns.

reuven 5 days ago 6 replies      
It drives me totally batty to work on projects in which the designer assumes that their only responsibility is to provide a PSD file, which the developers will then turn into HTML and CSS.

I want to work not just with designers, but with Web designers, who intimately understand the workings of HTML, CSS, some JavaScript, and the implications for different browser sizes and versions. Web designers speak HTML/CSS natively, taking these limitations and issues into account when they're creating their designs. And if something needs to change, they can change the HTML/CSS that was created. If the designer only knows how to work with Photoshop, every change to the site requires a great deal of additional work and communication.

I've sometimes remarked that a designer who uses Photoshop, but who doesn't know HTML and CSS, is like a photographer who refuses to actually touch the camera, and instead tells someone else how to aim, focus, and shoot. (And yes, I'm aware that TV and movies work this way; the analogy is far from perfect.) I want to work with someone who lives and breathes Web technologies, not who sees them as just another type of output. I'm glad that this blogger made this point, and has indicated that while Photoshop might once have been acceptable, it no longer is.

IgorPartola 5 days ago 7 replies      
Rant to follow:

So I have done a fair share of PSD to HTML, PSD to WordPress theme, PSD to application web GUI, etc. rewrites. I generally have no problem with the concept of this, and got quite good at this. However, there are some real pet peeves that keep coming up in this workflow, that are really driving me crazy. If you are a designer working with a developer, and you happen to read this, at least please consider it the next time you produce a PSD:

First, PSD's that assume text length. For example, if you have three call-out boxes with a title and some text to follow, don't assume that the title will always be one line and the text will always be the same length. Instead, figure out what this will all look like when you do have very uneven amounts of text. Do we center it vertically? Do we abbreviate it?

Second, PSD's that don't assume a responsive design. Sure, working directly in the medium (HTML/CSS) would solve this, but you can still provide some direction here. Tell me how the columns should be laid out. Which parts of the site should expand/collapse with size, which parts can be hidden, etc.

Third, and this goes without saying, but clean up the PSD layer names and groupings. Layer 1, Layer 2, etc. is not a great convention for this.

Fourth, show me the unusual cases. I know the clients always want to focus on the prominent pages, like the home page, the product listing, etc. Those are important, give me those. But also give me what a form submission error looks like. Or what a 404 page looks like. Or an empty shopping cart. Or pagination. Or a table that's wider than the viewport would normally allow.

Fifth, consistency. It sucks for the developer, and I'd argue it sucks for the user, to have every page use a slightly different set of CSS rules for headers, paragraphs, lists, etc. Best case scenario here is to give me a style guide I can trust. I know it's two different documents you now need to maintain, but honestly this is the biggest help you can give me.

Sixth, show or describe to me the interactions and workflows. A simple shopping cart can become a giant minefield of interpretations of what the design is supposed to convey.

Seventh, and this is a bit meta, but don't walk away from the design before a single line of HTML/CSS is written. This is bad because there will be questions about interactions, etc. If first I have to email your boss's boss to try to see I can ask you a simple question, the process is broken and I will not recommend working with you again.

Eighth, if you do promise to deliver sample HTML/CSS, for the love of good, do this well. I have recently had the misfortune of having HTML/CSS/JavaScript delivered to me for a large site redesign by a big name web design agency. I was very excited about this, especially since these guys said they would use Bootstrap as the foundation for this so that we would have all the benefits of that framework built right in. I got the files, opened them and OMG. It did include Bootstrap, but in name only. After that declaration, it instead included a completely custom column system that was just slightly incompatible in sizes with Bootstrap's. It also used none of the same class names even where it made sense, etc. Needless to say, I had to re-write all of their CSS from scratch, and re-adjust lots of the Bootstrap variables to accommodate their column system.


Great designers are worth their weight in gold. The above highlights that the waterfall process of design -> develop does not work. Instead it should be design -> develop/design/develop. If you cannot step outside of Photoshop that's fine, but if you want to be efficient, you must know the final medium, which is the web.

dredmorbius 5 days ago 0 replies      
As a mostly back-end guy (systems, network, databases) who's dabbled in HTML and CSS, somewhat increasingly over the past few months (latest results below), I've taken a highly pragmatic approach to how I prefer sites styled:

Consider the screen as a sheet of paper on which you can 1) communicate your message 2) provide a UI, and 3) apply your branding. Modest amounts of logo / artwork, color palette, and styling touches go a long way. Other than that, it's a rubber sheet. There are no fixed dimensions.

Start with a basic HTML5 framework. body, header, article, aside, footer.

Put minimal elements above the fold. Your header, logo, and some basic navigation. Emphasize body text and / or UI.

You almost always want to design around the text. That's your payload. For interactive tools, controls layout should be clear, consistent, logical, and most of all provide enough space to meaningfully navigate options. For that last: size-constrained modal dialogs or their equivalents (pop-up menus, etc.) are strongly deprecated. Unless the user needs to see other content while performing input, that dialog should be front, center, and the principle screen element.

CSS gives you a whole slew of tools: special selectors, including :hover, :active, :first-child, :last-child, :nth-child, :nth-of-type, shadows, columns, and more. No, MSIE legacy doesn't support many of these. Fuck'em.

Stick to light backgrounds and dark fonts, with few exceptions. http://www.contrastrebellion.com/ is strongly recommended.

Think of your page in either ems or percentages, and almost certainly ems (scaled to your principle body font).

Provide a minimum page margin of around 2ems for desktops. For mobile, enough to keep text from flush with the edge of the screen, 0.25em typically. Don't crowd your text. I accomplish this by setting a max width (usually 45-60ems depending on context), and a 2em left/right internal padding. This provides a comfortable reading width but preserves margins in narrow displays.

Scale fonts in pt, or use relative/absolute sizing based on the user's preferences. I recommend "medium" for body text.

Other than image elements and logos, avoid use of px. Never mix px and ems (say, for line heights).

Rather than a traditional sidebar, use CSS column elements for your asides, which are then full-screen width. @media queries can toggle between 3, 2, and 1 column views.

If you've got to float elements, float right of text rather than left. This is less disruptive to reading. 0.5 - 1em padding or margins is usually appropriate.

For long lists, I'm growing increasingly partial to "li { display: inline;} or inline-block (the latter allows trick such as ":first-letter" but fails for wrapping.

Make modest use of dynamic elements. I'm generally not a fan of flyouts, automatically opening menus, etc., and they're among the first elements I nuke when modifying sites. Color shifts to indicate links and other dynamic elements, however, can be useful. Google's "Grid" is a notable exception to this rule.

Don't fuck with scrollbars. Allow the user environment defaults. Yes, Google+, I'm talking to you.

DO NOT USE FIXED HEADERS OR FOOTERS. Far too many displays are height-constrained, and robbing another 10-25% of the display with elements which cannot be scrolled offscreen is an insult. If you've got to fix something, put it in a margin. Do not fix ANYTHING for mobile displays.

CSS modification: Metafilter lite http://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/1v8fl5/css_adve...)

bbx 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently redesigning a backend interface, and it's the 1st time since I've started my Front-End career (7 years ago) that I'm not using Photoshop at all. I'm just using Bootstrap, Sublime Text, and Chrome.

For many projects of course, it won't be sufficient: clients want (and probably need) a stunning Photoshop mockup to provide feedback and boost their self-assurance.

But if you combine a simple CSS framework (even if it's just for a grid system), Chrome's inspector, a selection of Google Fonts, and some sense of "flat" aesthetics, you can come up with a more than decent, and sometimes amazing, design. Plus, it takes 70% less time, especially considering it's usable right now.

37signals mentioned this "skipping Photoshop" attitude in 2008 [1], but I never quite managed to put it into practice until recently.

[1] http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1061-why-we-skip-photoshop

Trufa 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a little bit confused of the workflow they are suggesting.

I'm a web developer with "good design taste" but I definitely can't design myself, I always pair up with a designer that does the PSD.

But of course this doesn't mean that when I see a navbar that has a gradient I copy a paste the image of the navbar in my website with a <img>, my job is porting this images to HTML, CSS and JS.

If you're actually putting images from the PSD, you're definitely doing it wrong, but in my case, I still need a highly detailed design that I can make a website, otherwise I have to design it myself, wireframes only get you that far.

When I'm working with a good designer, that knows about how the web works, I feel it's a great workflow.

rwhitman 5 days ago 2 replies      
I swear I feel like I've read a version this article once a year since the advent of CSS. This is a naively utopian vision of the future. The designer/developer is a very rare breed outside of the HN community. Most designers can't / won't write markup or CSS, and most developers are piss poor designers. The design->planning->building segmented workflow will always exist, as it has in all engineering disciplines since the dawn of human civilization.
tomatohs 5 days ago 1 reply      
This article should be titled "the slice tool is dead."

The slice tool represents the direct transformation of raster image to website. We all know that this isn't possible anymore because of mobile, retina, etc.

But Photoshop and image editors still provide tremendous value to the web development process for mockups, image assets, colors, etc.

What this article is trying to say is that the process of turning a design into a website has become much more difficult. A PSD is no longer a final deliverable but the beginning of a conversation.

Now design needs to be functional. Instead of taking the static image you get from a PSD, you need to ask "What does this look like on mobile? What about huge resolutions? What if we don't have that content?"

The article suggests that this process will be improved by designing in the browser thanks to CSS3.

The truth is that the browser has just barely hit the minimum requirements to be able to make design decisions. Have you seen the Chrome color picker? It's alright for choosing a border color but final design work can not be done entirely in the browser just yet.

elorant 5 days ago 7 replies      
As a developer I hope that CSS would share a similar fate sometime in the not too distant future. Its freaking hideous, doesnt work as it should and in order to build any decent modern site you end up writing something like 5,000 LoC. Nine out of ten times I want to do something with CSS I prefer doing it with JavaScript.
efsavage 5 days ago 2 replies      
I disagree. In the hands of a competent web designer, photoshop is still the most expressive tool available. I've been bouncing PSDs with a designer for the past couple of weeks and I want him being creative and making something beautiful, not constantly worrying about how the images are going to get sliced up or sprited or what's svg and what's not. That's my job. So long as there is in iterative process in place where I can keep him within the bounds of reality, it all works out very well in the end.
danboarder 5 days ago 0 replies      
Photoshop may be dead as a starting point, but not quite dead as an intermediate step for customized template design. A workflow that works today for quick site turnaround in commercial web design is to screenshot a Wordpress or other CMS responsive template, bring that into Photoshop, drop in branding, color changes, and replace content to produce a comp for presentation to clients. It is still quicker to make design changes in this Photoshop intermediate phase. Once the design is signed off, it's fairly easy to customize the CSS in the original template and arrive at a branded site the client is happy with.
callmevlad 5 days ago 0 replies      
The pain of the PSD->HTML workflow, especially around responsive design, is one of the reasons we're working on Webflow (https://webflow.com). While Photoshop will have a critical role in web design for a long time to come, having to deal with multi-resolution elements is extremely tedious.

Also, Photoshop layer styles are way behind what's actually possible with CSS3 these days (multiple shadows, multiple background images, etc), so designers who have to implement a website end up doing their work twice. With a tool like Webflow, implementation work is part of the designer's workflow, so once something looks good on screen, it's actually ready to ship.

Granted, designers have to learn the base concepts of how content flows in a website (the box model), but I think that's a small price to pay for designing directly in the intended medium.

tn13 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks goodness. My life was hell when I was working for an Indian outsourcing giant where they made web application like an assembly line.

The designer were hired from school which taught only print media design. They made PSD mockups which arrived at frontend developers who would then make HTML out of it with dummy data.

For example say you are designing a charting app for a banking company, They would create pie chart in PSD and then ask the frontend devs to convert into HTML. So these people use to put those charts as image. When it arrived with us the backend team, we use to realize that this graph needs to be dynamic. If we use any other charting library it use to look ugly with overall design.

Not to mention if the webpage does not look pixel perfect in FF and IE it would go as a bug. Countless human hours were wasted in making corners round in IE.

The real interesting part was that, the baking giant did not give a shit about the design in first place neither about the browser compatibility. It was meant for their say 30-40 employees who could simply switch to FF if they did not like sharp edges in IE.

In the battle of egos between the designer and testers we were screwed.

at-fates-hands 5 days ago 0 replies      
I actually stopped working in Photoshop about two years ago when I realized you can prototype faster just by building a design from scratch in the actual browser.

It's so much faster than having a designer painstakingly mock something up in PS, then have me build it and realize a myriad of things that weren't apparent because we weren't looking at it in an actual browser.

sandGorgon 5 days ago 0 replies      
This whole post, and comments, sound extremely unrealistic. In an ideal world, things work as you would say - but in the real world, things don't work like this.

I'm not sure if any of you guys have seen the inside of a psd2html place - it is highly optimized with a hive mind around browser compatibility. I would say that best of the breed slicers leverage bootstrap, sass/less, etc and incorporate their experience inside it.

I would argue that the missing piece is not some new, magical way of doing things - but rather the interchange formats. For example designers don't use PSD grids that account for fluid layouts (FYI - I'm not even opening the can of worms that is responsive design). This makes it hard for slicers to deliver fluid layouts.

The search for the mythical designer + SASS engineer is very hard and very likely futile. In fact, my opinion is that you are starting the process incorrectly. I suggest to find a best of breed slicer, START the design process with them as opposed to a designer (get their recommended grids, etc) - then give the designer a set of constraints to work with. This should ensure your downstream workflows are smooth.

anthemcg 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am not here to say that web designers should create PSDs and just throw them over the fence.

But, I don't think most web designers really agree with this. I think this philosophy really tries to downplay visual style to practical problem solving and I believe they are both essential.

I can write competent HTML/CSS/JS, Frameworks etc. At least, I know enough to work with engineers and work effectively in my projects. For me using Photoshop isn't just about what browsers can and can not do. Its certainly, not just about pixel perfection or making a design ready to code.

Working with HTML is just clunky. Working with paper is too loose. I can think about how to build a design, plan it on paper but exploring visually is actually quite constrained by trying to do it with markup or just paper/wireframes. Photoshop represents an open environment where I can create anything I need from an illustration to a button and its powerfully close to what it will really look like. To some people that might sound like a clunky or wasteful step but I think it really helps.

For sure, I think Nick makes some great and valid points here. I agree, there are problems with the PSD process but direct prototyping and CSS frameworks just don't solve those problems.

I don't know, I feel like if in reality everyone used HTML to design, everything would look like Bootstrap and that would be acceptable.

ilaksh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that PSD to HTML is generally now a bad idea that will make the task more difficult.

However, I believe that the idea of having an interactive design tool should not be abandoned so easily.

I believe that we should create interactive GUI design tools that support the back-end encoding.

I know that doesn't meld well with hand-coded and maintained approaches.

I believe that we can create design tools that output acceptable markup. But I don't think we have to.

I think that the business of writing code in order to layout a user interface is ludicrous. I do it, because thats the way most everyone does it these days. Most everyone also drives massive 5 passenger vehicles as the sole occupant that waste huge amounts of energy driving to and from work every day. Point being, just because that is the way people do things, doesn't mean it makes sense.

Programmers by definition write code. If you're not writing code, you're not a programmer. The problem is the definition of programming needs to be updated, since we now can create very sophisticated programming tools that have friendly user interfaces.

tomkin 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what the author at Treehouse is doing, but I use the PSD as a visual representation of what I will end up creating as CSS/HTML/JS. Who was still seriously drawing grids and cutting out PNGs/JPGs?

The take away for many reading this article is going to be: Photoshop is not the way to design a website. The article does attempt to address this is not the case, near the bottom.

In the end, the author admits that you do need some design reference point (Photoshop, Illustrator, paper, etc). I do remember the days of cropping out many images, backgrounds, etc., but that was at least 6-7 years ago.

ChikkaChiChi 5 days ago 0 replies      
We don't live in a world where every web user is part of a majority of three monitor resolutions and web design has changed to accommodate that. Web sites need to scale properly and that cannot be done with raster graphics.

If you are using a raster program for anything other than mockups before you head into real design, you are doing yourself, your clients, and their customers a disservice.

wwweston 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well, as long as we're making controversial statements (those in the "____ is dead" usually are)....

I think Photoshop as a design/layout tool may have done more damage to front-end design/development productivity than Internet Explorer. And this article is just an indicator that there's a growing awareness of how.

Photoshop is an amazing raster image manipulation tool. But the dominant mechanics have always been about composing a series of fixed-dimension bitmapped layers (outside some shoehorned not-quite-layers-but-actually-layers there's really no other kind of entity to work with). For that reason there's always going to be an impedance mismatch between the tool and the web.

seivan 5 days ago 1 reply      
PSD to iOS as well. I just wish companies would stop wasting resources on photoshop goons and let the engineers who work with the platform & SDK design.
tlogan 5 days ago 2 replies      
What is the best HTML page design tool? I.e., designing CSS and HTML with minimum coding?
discordian 5 days ago 0 replies      
He may wish it was dead, but I can assure you there is probably more PSD to HTML work going on now than ever before.

First of all, it seems the author is not even opposed to the idea of mocking up a design in PSD. He just thinks that responsive design and advances in CSS have altered the process somewhat. OK, point taken, but this doesn't make the overall concept of PSD to HTML obsolete by any stretch of the imagination. The majority of designers will always favor mocking up their intended design in a program like Photoshop, and using that as a starting point for the development process. Responsive design just adds an additional layer of complexity, which may call for additional mockups.

I've heard people advocate prototyping concepts directly with HTML/CSS, but this is ultimately a rather inefficient way to work if you are a detail-oriented designer.

As far as the actual workflow changing and becoming more iterative, it completely depends on the context. Not everyone works at a company like Treehouse that has a team of in house developers and designers. Many website projects - the majority even - are the result of small businesses subcontracting the process out to various companies. It's not always possible for the designer and the developer to be in the same room. So as an ideal - sure, the designer should be involved throughout the process, but this doesn't always match the reality.

zx2c4 5 days ago 0 replies      
The work flow might be dead but... psd.js lives on!


    git clone git://git.zx2c4.com/psd.js
This is a neat project from `meltingice`.

mgkimsal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yay. I'm surprised it was ever a thing, really. Maybe not surprised, but pissed off. We've all got our horror stories - I got a PSD with > 200 layers (4 layers for 4 rounded corners on a button - WTF). It was just crazy.
atomicfiredoll 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Everyones workflow is different and nobody knows how to make the perfect website. You should always do whatever is most effective for you and your colleagues."

Not to say that there aren't some valid points brought up, but this feels like dramatically titled click bait with a weak conclusion.

When I click a title like this, it's because there is an implication that a better process exists--I want to know what that process is! At best, it's only hinted at here.

I know teams that are using processes similar to the PSD oriented ones outlined in the article very successfully. I suppose that means that it's not dead for them, as it's effective.

goggles99 5 days ago 1 reply      
Link bait warning. Author even admits in the comments thatwhat he means is "Going directly from a PSD to an HTML file is dead".

Link bait may get you more traffic in the short turn, but will likely just hurt you in the long run. Especially since lots of people think that he an idiot now.

Why? Who would have thought... Modern day web dev needs to be rendered to different sized screens and we have CSS3, more skills, and better tooling now.

Who does not know this already. I was baited and now he is hated (JK)...

PSD is still used quite commonly for conceptual purposes. Of course no one expects anymore (did they ever?) that it will be pixel perfect across devices ETC.

mratzloff 5 days ago 0 replies      
tl;dr Most browsers support modern CSS techniques that remove the need for image-based techniques, and mockup tools like OmniGraffle and Balsamiq make it easy to create layout drafts.
joeblau 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you're looking for a fast way to extract images from your Photoshop file by layers/visibly/etc I highly recommend this software: http://getenigma64.com/

And if you're trying to extract gradients from Photoshop into CSS, SCSS, SASS: http://csshat.com/

Bahamut 5 days ago 0 replies      
As a frontend developer, I like having designers figure out the look of a page, and implement the look in a way that doesn't break what I've implemented. If they need help, I don't mind helping - in fact, I have a bit of design experience as well. However, it is not a good use of my time, so I don't do too much of the css.
Sssnake 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now perhaps in 10 years idiots in suits will finally stop demanding ridiculous pixel perfect control over website designs.
lstamour 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one here's mentioned Photoshop CC's Generate function yet, especially given that it was written in Node.js: http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2013/09/introducing-a...
workhere-io 5 days ago 0 replies      
"X is dead" is dead. Just because you don't use X doesn't mean others don't use it.

A very large number of people who do web design for a living are much better at making their visions a reality using PhotoShop than HTML/CSS.

SkyMarshal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well it should be dead, but like COBOL it'll be around a long time simply because there are tons of expert Photoshop designers who are much more productive with that tool than raw html/css and need their designs converted. I'm working with one right now, don't see it going away anytime soon.
jbeja 5 days ago 1 reply      
And would be glad if people stop making icons and UI sets in PSD, and start using a more portable format like Svg.
d0m 4 days ago 0 replies      
The concern is also about needing to hire two different people all the time. It slows down the workflow so much.. it's way easier to have one person in charge of it and being able to design, hack and tweak it as the projects evolve.
wil421 5 days ago 0 replies      
Tell that to people I work with, this is something I just did last week. I dislike doing it and I dont really agree with the camp that slices their page into images.
grimmdude 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I first read this article I didn't really agree with it, but after reading some of the comments on here I can understand where it's coming from.

I think the main issue is that the designer understand that it's more of a guideline on how the site should look. When they start getting nitty gritty about exact line breaks and page by page style changes is where it gets hairy and falls apart.

I don't think moving away from mockups is the answer if that's what the article is implying. Just a greater understanding of modern web abilities and standards is all that's needed from the designer.

supercanuck 5 days ago 0 replies      
So what is the replacement?
ctrl 5 days ago 0 replies      
+1 all these replies.As a designer first, I taught myself to code, Just as I taught myself how print medium works. These details are integral to the end product.

A web designer that doesn't understand code != a web designer.

I think Photoshop should be replaced with Illustrator. for the initial design phases.1) You can do wireframes in Illustrator, then build directly on top of that for design.2) Multiple artboards lets you layout multiple screen sizes/breakpoints.3) Resizing elements and keeping crisp edges is much faster.

j_s 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the direction designers should be heading:


leishulang 5 days ago 0 replies      
with tools like edge reflow, the human part of PSD to html is going to be dead. HTML/CSS/JS will become the assembly of the web that no one is directly programming with. Designers will keep working on psd and use edge-like tools to export html/js files, and coders will be using clojurescript/fay/coffeescript etc.
martianspy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would like some constructive advice.I currently use sliced PSDs as part of page content workflow to get a one page flyer from InDesign onto the web.

I start with a one page PDF which was generated in InDesign for print. This one page flyer needs to be linked to products on an ecommerce site. The flyer changes weekly.

Currently I open the PDF in Photoshop, slice it, add the links and upload it into an iframe. It takes about 15-30 minutes to get if from PDF to live.

What would be a more efficient way for me to convert this PDF to clickable web content? I don't want to spend more time than I currently do on it.

mtangle 5 days ago 0 replies      
But picture is a good start to show what kind design you want And yes in many accessions some designers are tooooooo pitchy about their psd.
bluemnmtattoo 5 days ago 0 replies      
stone and chisel is dead
thomasfoster96 5 days ago 0 replies      
Chrome Is The New C Runtime mobilespan.com
276 points by aagr  2 days ago   140 comments top 36
fidotron 1 day ago 3 replies      
Contrary to many, I'm profoundly concerned about the culture around Chrome development, and the attitude here is indicative of that. There really is a belief by those that work on it, or have worked on it, that it's much better than it really is, when what actually happened was it was much better than the competition at launch, but now there isn't much between them at all. This notion that Chrome is decent on mobile is still absolutely bizarre.

The more long term concern is the way it's creating a sort of development priesthood. You have the chosen few that are making decisions and developing the platform largely in secret and pushing the code out to mere mortals from on high. This wouldn't be so bad, except the decisions are not made in the interest of the mortals, but of the priesthood and the strategic interest of their Googly God, and they exhibit a level of contempt for the mortals by disallowing them direct access to things such as the components so lauded here. In an ideal world most of what's mentioned should not be in the C++ layer, but in JS, except the hooks to provide that are simply never going to be exposed (at least in the near term because of the JS performance it would be technically dubious), leading to this them and us situation where they get to develop all the low level stuff, and no one else does, especially if any patches would conflict with the interest of their lord and master. They simply aren't dogfooding their entire development stack. Mozilla, for all their flaws, do actually engage the rest of the world in what they're doing, and early Java, while slow, did have a relatively small JVM with an enormous class library which was mostly written in Java itself. You could argue Sun's error was to Swing too far in the other direction by insisting on being all Java where at the time it really should not have been.

So yes, sadly I've come to view many Chrome devs as smug self serving slightly delusional types persistently confused that the masses don't acknowledge their brilliance, and this piece is evangelism to try and persuade us of this. The truly scary part of this is they just might be right to have this point of view in order to prevent what happened to Android where groups outside succeeded in nullifying many of the expected advantages of a standard open mobile platform, and I suspect it's this which has led to their open but closed approach to things.

United857 2 days ago 2 replies      
As someone not at Google, but who's re-used multiple parts of Chromium (as described in the article), the code (especially the stuff under base/) is possibly the best documented large-scale, open-source C++ codebase I've seen.
mwfunk 2 days ago 2 replies      
He's talking about using bits and pieces of Chromium's infrastructure in other programs, but didn't address open source licensing at all. I haven't looked at it myself, but according to Wikipedia, Chromium's source is licensed under: "BSD license, MIT License, LGPL, MS-PL and MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-licensed code, plus unlicensed files". This is all fine, but anyone using this code needs to make sure they understand what license(s) the code they are using is under and what the terms of those licenses are. Just because it's open source doesn't mean you can just do whatever you want with it; even less restrictive licenses like BSDL might have conditions like the advertising clause, and you should always be aware of any copyrights in the code and be sure to preserve them.

That said, I'm sure the Chromium source is a great resource- just a strange and important omission from the article.

I would also suggest that anyone looking for a platform-independent runtime check out APR (Apache Portable Runtime): http://apr.apache.org. It's lower-level than some of the Chromium libraries mentioned in the article (it would be equivalent to the "base libraries" block in the "Chrome Development Platform" figure), but sometimes that's all you need. Plus, it's already designed as a library for other applications to use, there's no need to repurpose anything like you might have to do with the Chromium sources.

mbrubeck 2 days ago 1 reply      
As an example of this type of Chromium library re-use, Firefox and Firefox OS use the Chromium ipc library for messaging between the main UI process, plugin processes, and content processes (in Firefox OS or in Firefox with the experimental multi-process mode enabled).



oscargrouch 1 day ago 2 replies      
Im using the chromium codebase to build a sort of netxgen "browser" (not web browser).. but more akin to a application platform with p2p in mind (and other crazy ideas). While the idea proposed by the author may sounds cool, i think chromium is a huge codebase to be used like the author says so trivially..

Its ok; if you need multiprocess ipc + net + actor-based thread concurrency + gpu compositor + webkit.. (like i do)

But, dont know if it worth the trouble otherwise..

For instance, it takes a very long time to compile everything, it takes long to debug (the final chrome binary with debug symbols end with 2G.. all loaded in the heap) and you got a big codebase to know about.. so use it with care and in need.. otherwise you will waste your precious time trying to kill a fly with a canon

randallu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Chromium is _huge_. If I just wanted to use the HTTP library (with tls and spdy) then how would I build just that, and cleanly integrate the build into my own project in a way that won't require constant revisiting every time I update my chromium sources?
sehugg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Judging from the number of dependencies I think it'd be more fair to say Chromium is the new Boost.
brokenparser 2 days ago 4 replies      
XULRunner is almost 8 years old now, it was invented for the same purpose TFA uses Chromium but it's actually documented:


gcp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Recommending Chrome is a bit like recommending bionic when everyone else is enjoying (e)glibc?

The Chrome runtime has some good libraries but using that over say Qt really only makes sense if you're a (former) Chrome developer. For everyone else it's just needless pain.

cbr 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is what mod_pagespeed/ngx_pagespeed does. We need many basic things and we use the Chromium libraries for that.

(You could say that's because we're kind of like a browser, but we don't actually use the most browser-like components of Chromium. We do need an http(s) fetcher and html/css/js parsers but the Chromium ones aren't a good fit for our usage.)

ii 2 days ago 1 reply      
Chromium, Gecko and Webkit codebases are huge, they are hard to compile. They are optimised for use in the browsers and nothing else. They are not universal runtimes yet! I like that idea but please don't make it sound like chromium runtime is ready for everybody to use for their projects.
alexhutcheson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just a heads up, Web of Trust has this sited rated very poorly[1], ostensibly for spam. As a result, any users with the Web of Trust browser extension installed are shown a Big Scary Warning that they must click through before seeing the site's content.

The warning is based on one review, and doesn't seem accurate in this case, so this might be something to try to get resolved.

[1] https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/mobilespan.com?utm_source...

memracom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like Chromium might be the successor to APR, the Apache Portable Runtime. I believe that the authors of Chrome consciously tried to provide functionality that replaced APR, presumably because of their multiprocess model.
lstamour 2 days ago 0 replies      
While looking for cross-platform (iOS and Android) networking and security resources, Google kept giving me references to the Chrome codebase. Having compiled Chromium for a homebrew Chrome book (and tired of copying settings between two separate codebases), I'm going to try this. :)

A big shout out to the author of this stack overflow post, where I first confirmed that it might indeed make sense to develop function-based middleware in C or C++ and share it between iOS and Android to bridge the low and high levels of your app: http://stackoverflow.com/revisions/5234868/2

chubot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting, it seems kind of like the scenario where the "web stack is the new GUI", with desktop projects like Light Table being built on Node-Webkit. You're reusing browser infrastructure for native apps.

What other alternatives are there? Apache Portable Runtime?

sanjeevr 2 days ago 8 replies      
Hi all,

I'm the author of the post. Happy to answer detailed questions on using Chromium as a Dev platform. Any suggestions for a follow-up post?

yeureka 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is interesting. Ideally, if the rendering and audio parts are of high performance enough, it could be used as platform abstraction for game development.
SaveTheRbtz 2 days ago 0 replies      
With the same reasoning you can use nginx as a C runtime.
piyush_soni 2 days ago 1 reply      
To the author: I think you should 'Find and Replace' all (except a few) occurrences of 'Chrome' to 'Chromium' in your article.
moca 1 day ago 1 reply      
Chrome is more like Java or .NET runtime than C runtime. You can build full blown apps as Chrome packaged apps. Google has not polished it very well. If done well, developers can use it to build apps that run on Windows/Mac/Linux without change.
steveklabnik 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm posting this from a Chromebook Pixel, which I use for all of my development. No crouton, just stock ChromeOS.

This movement is really interesting to me. If I could clone myself, I'd be working on an exokernel in Rust that just exposes a V8 VM, and uses a DOM implementation as the native drawing interface. Processes == tabs...

Of course, there's higher level work that needs to be done to expose more of the machine in JavaScript. Check out http://extensiblewebmanifesto.org/ , signed by Google, Mozilla, and W3C TAG members, as well as #extendthewebforward on Twitter.

zobzu 2 days ago 0 replies      
it'd be fine if the libs were actually libs, with a documented api (you know, in man, it's nice).

that's not the case tho, and that's why its a blog post and not something everyone and their dog uses.

yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's how NSPR was/is used by projects other than Netscape/Mozilla, too. Producing such a library is generally an unavoidable consequence of writing a popular multi-platform application -- unless you reuse someone else's.
avighnay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for bringing this to limelight

Just started experiencing this early on this week via Node Webkit, it is just awesome what NW with Chromium brings to the table.

The first thing that came to my mind is that this should have been there 15 years earlier through Java/Embedded browser. However the powers of the time (read IE) were not interested/even actively blocked embedded browser usage.

frozenport 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think Qt is a much lighter and feature rich alternative. Light because you only need and see the Qt dlls and feature rich because the things described are already in Qt.
hucha 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a lot of code in Chromium that covers ground that Qt does not and there are good reason to prefer permissive licensed code for your project that you can directly modify. Qt is a fine library but hardly the be all end all of what is out there. ISO C++ committee recently posted to the Cairo library and C++14 might have a standard 2D based on it. There is a lot of room for different projects
factorizer 1 day ago 0 replies      
No, it's not.
hucha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Idea of adding a third-party draw API to a language standard is not a good idea
codingtheone 2 days ago 1 reply      
So you write your mobile apps in C++? and you can't take advantage of iOS or Android STL?
zerop 1 day ago 0 replies      
C/C++ web stack is really needed for performance reasons.. good project I would say....
huchi 1 day ago 0 replies      
But otherwise I still see no reason to use something designed for a specific use-case over something which is designed for general development. Though if it is a proprietary app it might work because there people seldom care about using latest version of libraries, sad as it may be.

Further, I really don't like the idea of adding a third-party draw API to a language standard. Dunno if we really want to blur the line between language and library.

elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I for one welcome our new C Runtime.
jokoon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can I use the p2p libs to make some bitmessage-like app, using the bitcoin protocol to spread data ?
hucha 1 day ago 0 replies      
sigh people just cant stop using something just because its "cool", rather than what is right!!!
indubitably 1 day ago 1 reply      
oh just fuck this entire idea
clienthunter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Go by Example gobyexample.com
265 points by A_Ghz  2 days ago   119 comments top 13
sergiotapia 2 days ago 8 replies      
It's Friday gents! No excuse to set aside Saturday and Sunday, you can easily go through these examples in two days and grok it. Go is that _slim_, and that's good!

Guaranteed you'll find use for Go in one system or the other when you want easy deployment, fast development time and extreme speeds. :)

(Disclaimer: I love Go and I hope it goes mainstream in a big way in 5 years)

tokenizerrr 2 days ago 3 replies      
This documentation is great, but one thing I tend to miss with examples like these is how to structure a project, deal with packages, etc.
aaronbrethorst 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love it, bookmarked. I've been hoping for something like this for a while. One of the most frustrating things for me about trying to pick up Go is a lack of 'guaranteed quality' examples of different basic operations, especially code that adheres to the latest spec.
nadinengland 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another nice introduction is the Go Playground's Tour (http://tour.golang.org/#1).
donbronson 2 days ago 2 replies      
The documentation format is a revolution of simplicity and comprehension. I can see this list format (and content) working for any/all languages.
cupcake-unicorn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any plans to make this into something more interactive, like http://nodeschool.io/? Alternatively, do any of the interactive "Learn Coding" sites out there feature Go? I can't think of any.
knotty66 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice and clean. I like it. Maybe it would be nice to have comments with up/down votability ala Stackoverflow.
nickik 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am not personally interested in Go but I care about CSP. I will defently check out some of these CSP things and maybe try to recreate them in Clojure core.async.
namelezz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Golang is good language. Cannot wait until it's generic.
vkat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I am going to use this for my go experiments.
kirkbackus 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's about time! Go doesn't really have a good community or really practical examples. Glad to see someone took the time to put this together.
tboyd47 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, nice site. FYI I can't copy and paste from the examples on the site without also bringing in the text on the left too.
holycow19 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very Cool - thanks
UTF-8 Everywhere utf8everywhere.org
263 points by angersock  3 days ago   147 comments top 23
jbk 3 days ago 2 replies      
This resonate so much for me, in VLC.

VLC has a very large number of users on Windows (80% of our users), yet almost none of the dev use Windows to code. Therefore, we use UTF-8 char* everywhere, notably in the core. We use UTF-16 conversions only in the necessary Windows modules, that use Windows APIs. Being sure we were UTF-8 everywhere took a lot of time, tbh...

But the worse are formats like ASF (WMV) or MMS that use UTF-16/UCS-2 (without correctly specifying) them and that we need to support on all other platforms, like OSX or Linux...

huhtenberg 3 days ago 3 replies      
Now, all the advice in the Windows section - don't do this, don't do that, only and always do third - is lovely, but if you happen to care about app's performance, you will have to carry wstrings around.

Take a simple example of an app that generates a bunch of logs that need to be displayed to the user. If you are to follow article's recommendations, you'd have these logs generated and stored in UTF8. Then, only when they are about to be displayed on the screen you'd convert them to UTF16. Now, say, you have a custom control that renders log entries. Furthermore, let's imagine a user who sits there and hits PgUp, PgDown, PgUp, PgDown repeatedly.

On every keypress the app will run a bunch of strings through MultiByteToWideChar() to do the conversion (and whatever else fluff that comes with any boost/stl wrappers), feed the result to DrawText() and then discard wstrings, triggering a bunch of heap operation along the way. And you'd better hope latter doesn't cause heap wobble across a defrag threshold.

Is your code as sublime as it gets? Check. Does it look like it's written by over-enlightened purists? You bet. Just look at this "advice" from the page -

  ::SetWindowTextW(widen("string litteral").c_str())
This marvel passes a constant string to widen() to get another constant string to pass to an API call. Just because the code is more kosher without that goddamn awful L prefix. Extra CPU cycles? Bah. A couple of KB added to the .exe due to inlining? Who cares. But would you just look at how zen the code is.

tl;dr - keeping as much text as possible in UTF8 in a Windows app is a good idea, but just make sure not to take it to the extremes.

asgard1024 3 days ago 6 replies      
This may be tangential, but I think that computer languages should have a different type (and literal notation) for human text (strings that may be read by human, may be translated, won't affect program semantics) and for computer string (strings that are strictly defined, not to be translated, and may affect program semantics).

Then we could put all the human language problems into human text type, and leave the simpler computer string type with easier semantics.

In Python, although there are no tools for that, I typically use the following convention: single quotes for computer text and double quotes for human text. I guess you could use byte arrays for computer text as well, but it would be more painful.

Pxtl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was horrified to discover that Microsoft SQL Server's text import/export tools don't even support UTF-8. Like, at all. You can either use their bastardized wrongendian pseudo-UTF-16, or just pick a code-page and go pure 8-bit.
jasonjei 3 days ago 0 replies      
We constantly have to deal with Win32 as a build platform and we write our apps natively for that platform using wchar. I think the main difficulty is that most developers hate adding another library to their stack, and to make matters worse, displaying this text in Windows GUI would require conversion to wchar. That's why I think they are up for a lot of resistance, at least in the Windows world. If the Windows APIs were friendlier to UTF-8, there might be hope. But as it stands right now, using UTF-8 requires the CA2W/CW2A macros, which is just a lot of dancing to keep your strings in UTF-8 which ultimately must be rendered in wchar/UTF-16.

Maybe there might be a shot in getting developers to switch if Windows GUIs/native API would render Unicode text presented in UTF-8. But right now, it's back to encoding/decoding.

vorg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't like the way UTF-8 was clipped to only 1 million codepoints in 2003 to match the UTF-16 limit. The original 2.1 billion codepoint capacity of the original 1993 UTF-8 proposal would've been far better. Go Lang uses \Uffffffff as syntax to represent runes, giving the same upper limit as the original UTF-8 proposal, so I wonder if it supports, or one day will support, the extended 5- and 6-byte sequences.

In fact, UTF-16 doesn't really have the 1 million character limit: by using the two private-use planes (F and 10) as 2nd-tier surrogates, we can encode all 4-byte sequences of UCS-32, and all those in the original UTF-8 proposal.

I suspect the reason is more political than technical. unicode.org (http://www.unicode.org/faq/utf_bom.html#utf16-6) says "Both Unicode and ISO 10646 have policies in place that formally limit future code assignment to the integer range that can be expressed with current UTF-16 (0 to 1,114,111). Even if other encoding forms (i.e. other UTFs) can represent larger intergers, these policies mean that all encoding forms will always represent the same set of characters. Over a million possible codes is far more than enough for the goal of Unicode of encoding characters, not glyphs. Unicode is not designed to encode arbitrary data."

randomfool 3 days ago 1 reply      
"This is what made UTF-8 the favorite choice in the Web world, where English HTML/XML tags are intermixed with any-language text."

Except that Javascript is UTF-16, so no luck with 4 byte chars there.

belluchan 3 days ago 3 replies      
And software developers, don't forget to implement the 4 byte characters too please. Utter nightmare dealing with MySQL. I believe 4 byte characters still even break github comments.
nabla9 3 days ago 1 reply      
UTF-8 is usually good enough in disk.

I would like to have at least two options in memory: utf-8 and vector of displayed characters (there's many combinations in use in existing modern languages with no single-character representations in UTF-<anything>).

optimiz3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Most of the post talks about how Windows made a poor design decision in choosing 16bit characters.

No debate there.

However, advocating "just make windows use UTF8" ignores the monumental engineering challenge and legacy back-compat issues.

In Windows most APIs have FunctionA and FunctionW versions, with FunctionA meaning legacy ASCII/ANSI and FunctionW meaning Unicode. You couldn't really fix this without adding a 3rd version that was truly UTF-8 without breaking lots of apps in subtle ways.

Likely it would also only be available to Windows 9 compatible apps if such a feature shipped.

No dev wanting to make money is going to ship software that only targets Windows 9, so the entire ask is tough to sell.

Still no debate on the theoretical merits of UTF-8 though.

elwell 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can only imagine what kind of frustration drove someone to make this site.
BadassFractal 3 days ago 2 replies      
Would be lovely if MS Office could export CSV to UTF-8, but nope.
GnarfGnarf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I came to the same conclusion myself a few years ago when converting a Windows app to Unicode. I store all strings as UTF-8, which enabled me to continue using strncpy, char[] etc. I convert to wchar_t only when I need to pass the string to Win32. I can even change from narrow to widechar dynamically. I use a global switch which tells me whether I am running in Unicode or not, and call the 'A' or 'W' version of the Win32 function, after converting to wchar_t if necessary.
chj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Windows is a horrible environment for UTF8 unless MS provides a special locale for it.

At present state, you can choose to use utf8 internally in your app, but when you need to cooperate with other programs (over sockets or files), it's going to be confusing. Some will be sending you ANSI bytes and you take it as UTF8.

wehadfun 3 days ago 2 replies      
I admire and appreciate your concern for something that is missunderstood and ignored. However this webpage took way to long to say what is so great about utf 8.
mattfenwick 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's unfortunate that it doesn't have more concrete examples. I think having more of those would really help strengthen their case, clarify their points, and make their arguments tangible and understandable to a much wider audience.

One instance where I really wish for examples: they mention characters, code points, code units, grapheme clusters, user-perceived characters, fonts, encoding schemes, multi-byte patterns, BE vs LE, BOM, .... while I kind of get some of these, I certainly don't understand all of them in detail, and so there's no way that I'll grasp the subtleties of their complicated interactions. Examples, even of simple things such as what actually gets saved to disk when I write out a string using UTF-8 encoding vs. UTF-16 -- especially when using higher codepoints, would be hugely beneficial for me.

andystanton 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Even though one can argue that source codes of programs, web pages and XML files, OS file names and other computer-to-computer text interfaces should never have existed, as long as they do exist, text is not only for human readers."

I'm a little confused by this statement. Can someone clarify?

Dewie 3 days ago 2 replies      
IT is so Anglophile that programs can become slower if you deviate from ASCII...

But of course being so incredibly anglocentric is not an issue, at least that seems to be the consensus of the participants when I read discussions on the Web where all the people who are discussing it write English with such a proficiency that I can't tell who are and aren't native speakers of the language.

puppetmaster3 3 days ago 0 replies      
In Javascript, it's UTF16.Also Java.

Can't speak for other of the top.

jahewson 3 days ago 1 reply      
> there is a silent agreement that UTF-8 is the most correct encoding for Unicode on the planet Earth

But what about other planets? Is there a Unicode Astral Plane which may encode poorly in the future?

angersock 3 days ago 2 replies      
What is currently the best way of dealing with UTF-8 strings in a cross-platform manner? It sounds like widechars and std::string just won't cut it.
duaneb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank god for emoji.
josteink 3 days ago 9 replies      
Looking at the .NET parts of the manifesto, I just have to roll my eyes:

Both C# and Java offer a 16 bit char type, which is less than a Unicode character, congratulations. The .NET indexer str[i] works in units of the internal representation, hence a leaky abstraction once again. Substring methods will happily return an invalid string, cutting a non-BMP character in parts.

While theoretically true, for most practical purposes, this reeks of a USA/American/English bias and lack of real world experience.

You know what? I want to know that the text "" is three characters long. I dont want to know that it's a 6-byte array once encoded to UTF8. Anywhere in my code telling me this is 6 characters is lying, not to mention a violation of numerous business-requirements.

When I work with text I want to work with text and never the byte-stream it will eventually be encoded to. I want to work on top of an abstraction which lets me treat text as text.

Yes, their are cases where the abstraction will leak. But those cases are very far and few in between. And in all cases where it doesn't, it offers me numerous advantages over the PHPesque, amateurish and incorrect approach of treating everything as a dumb byte-array.

It's not. It's text in my program. It's text rendered on your screen. It's just a byte-array when we send it over the wire, so stop trying to pretend text isn't text.

This manifesto is wildly misguided.

       cached 20 January 2014 03:11:01 GMT