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How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username medium.com
972 points by micahgoulart  1 day ago   377 comments top 79
chavesn 21 hours ago 6 replies      
Why would a company ever ever ever accept 6 digits of a credit card number as a way to authenticate an identity??

Credit card numbers are not secure. Therefore, they should not ever be accepted as authentication. Especially only 6 digits of it! This is by far the most shocking part of this story. As if I needed another reason to despise GoDaddy.

[Edited to add] I would sure love to see a scarlet letter list of companies which allow such practices, so I can never use them.

markdown 1 day ago 4 replies      
I feel bad for this guy, and twitter needs to do the right thing and return to him his handle.

Then I can come back here and post nasty comments about squatters.

ck2 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This story is horrifying because PayPal was the enabler.

PayPal gave the attacker the last four digits of my credit card number over the phone

That person should lose their job if it is not PayPal policy.

I really hope by some small chance the person that did this gets some serious prison time, if not for this then anything else prior or down the road. Then maybe one of those mornings they wake up in prison they can ponder if it was all worth it.

georgemcbay 1 day ago 3 replies      
Seems like Twitter could easily verify the story based on their own logs and then restore access to his N account. He doesn't mention pursuing that, though.
Bluestrike2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Heads really ought to start rolling at PayPal. Their general approach to security is, quite frankly, appalling.

Is there any possible rational for Paypal to give the last four digits of his card number to "him" over the phone? Given that they're routinely used for verification, it's as if they've never heard of social engineering. It's simply inexcusable.

And it's almost as bad as the ridiculous "Log In Without Your PayPal Security Key" option that lets you bypass 2-factor auth and head straight to the ultra-secure world of the ridiculous security questions such as the ever-popular "what city were you born [that's also listed on Facebook]" and what not. I still can't believe they think that's a good idea.

lancewiggs 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Everyone looks bad here, but I want to focus on Twitter. For me this case is yet another demonstration that Twitter sees its customers as advertisers and places low priority on the community.

I pay Twitter nothing, and yet the service is valuable to me. So instead of continuously crippling the service in the name of goodness knows what, why not actually charge users for a premium experience. Things like customer service that works, a gold member status flag, controls on swapping account ownership, analytics and so on. Offer 3 paid levels - personal, business and corporate, and obviously keep the free level forever. Once revenue comes from customers, then perhaps it will help in understanding that while other revenue night be larger, the true value of Twitter is derived from the community.

fjcaetano 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe that it is ISO 9001 (quality assurance) that states that a company must be able to audit any stored data and data changes dating back some time. Judging by Paypal (specially for being a financial company), Twitter (for being an open capital company), and GoDaddy's size they may all comply to ISO 9001, but I'm just guessing.

Anyhow, if any of them actually comply to ISO 9001, it is possible to audit previous data to establish the true identity of the owner in some arbitrary date before any of this happened.

Quite possibly, to avoid unnecessary user annoyance, these companies will only subject themselves to the effort of analyzing that data under court order, so it's fair to suppose there is need to open a judicial process. Therefore, I believe it's possible to regain access to everything that was supposedly stolen, even though it may take quite some time.

brown9-2 1 day ago 5 replies      
Why is anyone still using GoDaddy?
maxk42 8 hours ago 0 replies      
konklone 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a terrifying story, and I'm very glad Hiroshima wrote it, because I didn't have two factor auth turned on with my domain provider. Now I do!

It seems like if he'd had 2FA turned on with GoDaddy, this may not have happened. So rather than use @gmail.com addresses to register for things, as he recommends, just turn on 2FA with your provider. And if your provider doesn't support it, leave them and tell them why.

The admonition to use a @gmail.com address was annoying enough that I actually put up a response blog post just on this point: https://konklone.com/post/protect-your-domain-name-with-two-...

kristiandupont 13 hours ago 3 replies      
>Using my Google Apps email address with a custom domain feels nice but it has a chance of being stolen if the domain server is compromised.

SighI use Google Apps exactly so that I have control over the domain and aren't subject to the good will of Google. I had never thought of this particular problem. Now I don't know what to do.

WA 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of harvesting ICQ numbers. There was a time when you could search 6-digit ICQ numbers for expired freemail addresses like Hotmail (they deleted your account after a while), register that freemail address and reset your ICQ number password to get a brand "new" 6-digit number. I think this doesn't work anymore, since most freemail hosters don't "free" expired email addresses but keep them locked.

It still works if you find an expired domain name, register the domain name and then do the whole password-reset procedure. Might be cheaper to buy a 6 digit number on eBay though :)

philliphaydon 1 day ago 3 replies      
Ditch GoDaddy - They are a terrible company.

Also considering closing my paypal account now.

650REDHAIR 1 day ago 0 replies      
I felt very angry and uncomfortable reading that. I can't imagine being in a helpless position like that.
rdl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The advice to use @gmail.com vs. a custom domain name seems kind of questionable if you use a reasonably secure registrar. Not GoDaddy.

Using an unusual/unknown address for account validation mails (maybe with forwarding of other communications) probably would make sense, though. And/or sites coming up with a better account-recovery procedure, perhaps outsourced to a startup.

There's probably a market for a super-secure email address for account login mails, but that isn't a free gmail account.

codezero 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing that people should realize in why Twitter may not respond to these kinds of issues, or may be slow to respond, is that it's probably true that lots of people buy and sell Twitter accounts, and people may report them stolen when in fact they've already sold them to someone.

This kind of thing happened a lot in MMO games which is why they try to push account security into your hands so they don't have to attempt to arbitrate in deals that may or may not have happened outside of their sphere of control.

Shank 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why Twitter doesn't have the standard 30 day wait period on handle changes that most sites have. For a while it was a standard to not let old usernames be available until 30/60/90 days after a change, so that in the event that this kind of thing happened, it could be reclaimed with ease as soon as the GoDaddy account is in his possession.
micahgoulart 1 day ago 8 replies      
An interesting point made was to avoid using custom domains for the login emails, since a DNS takeover would compromise your accounts tied to that email.
blueskin_ 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't use GoDaddy. Simple as that.

If that hadn't happened, he'd still have his twitter account.

>If I were using an @gmail.com email address for my Facebook login, the attacker would not have been able to access my Facebook account.

Just google and the NSA then. Also, Gmail has an exposed password reset and social-engineerable support. A server running Postfix/Exim doesn't.

I'd consider a domain with a good registrar far more secure than google.

nogridbag 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly OT, but someone registered a Twitter account with my primary e-mail address. I received a "Confirm your e-mail account" email with a link "Not My Account". That link brings me to a page that says "Sorry, that page doesnt exist!".

There doesn't appear to be any way to contact Twitter about this.

Shortly after, I received a second email "Welcome to Twitter, <username>"

Going to:https://support.twitter.com/forms/impersonation

..and selecting "Someone is using my email address without my permission." tells me to submit a general support ticket. That's fine except none of the general categories has anything to do with this problem and choosing "My issue is not in the list" simply redirects me immediately to the root support page. I submitted a ticket with a different topic and have not heard back from them in a week and expect I never will.

Dnguyen 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I lost a nice handle (@Houselogic) a few years back. Sent Twitter all the proof and email trail and everything, but they were useless. Every time I email their support, it's a new ticket and I have to explain the whole situation again and again. I gave up after two years.
dmak 1 day ago 1 reply      
And we all know how this would end. GoDaddy and Paypal will try to make this right because of the negative publicity. Why does it always take a post like this to call for help?
bredren 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is a scary story!

Focusing on the Twitter handle sale part: I have the twitter handle @jetsetter, and have been offered multiple thousands of dollars for it (guess who!).

Unfortunately, selling a twitter handle is against TOS. Only @israel has been officially allowed to transfer hands for money, that I'm aware of.

So trying to broker the sale of a twitter account can allow the buyer to report your 'behavior' to twitter. They can seize the account and make it so no one has it, which may be what the buyer prefers to you having it.

So no matter the price you could command, it isn't like you could just list @n up for sale and make it rain.

zaidf 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a four letter twitter handle(zaid) and I probably average a half dozen forgot-password requests daily...many of them people in the middle east with the same name as me trying to take over my account.

I've had two users offer to buy my username.

harryh 1 day ago 12 replies      
Who are people's current favorite domain registrars? I've been with name.com for the last year or so and have been happy, but I'm always curios to hear from others.
benatkin 23 hours ago 2 replies      
It's sad, but twitter's not transferring it back in a week's time gives me more confidence in twitter, not less. There isn't any evidence of the stealing of the domain names and the extortion available besides OP's copies of the email messages and information that GoDaddy won't provide. With the value twitter ID has, twitter shouldn't do anything without clear evidence.

He might have been able to get it back if it was his trademark or even name that he lost and not some witty username.

zzzeek 1 day ago 2 replies      
what's more likely, someone hacks your domain name / DNS gaining control of your MX records or someone hacks your username @gmail.com?
Oculus 1 day ago 2 replies      
If the author is reading, did you end up getting back your @n username? If so, did you simply go to Twitter and explain to them the whole story?
patrickwiseman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you reported it to someone with prosecution powers?



seniorsassycat 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found it interesting how open the attacker was about how they did it.
Brandork 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have seen great articles that document the best practices, patterns and anti-patterns for authentication within an application or storing passwords etc. But where is the gold standard for authenticating people over the phone?

Good Developers understand how critical it is to handle authentication and password storage well. It can be complicated thing and is very easy to screw up.

But all that goes out the window when somebody calls the support line. There needs to be just as much scrutiny placed on over the phone authentication as there is within an application. The problem is likely that those over the phone patterns/anti-patterns are not well documented and available.

lucaspiller 22 hours ago 1 reply      
> But guessing 2 digits correctly isnt that easy, right?

The first few digits of card numbers refer to the provider (Visa, Amex, etc) [0]. Given that Paypal gave the last four digits of the card, I'm surprised they wouldn't give out the provider as well, so guessing this would be even easier.

[0] https://github.com/stripe/jquery.payment/blob/master/src/jqu...

pistle 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You can sell twitter @'s now? #itsNotWorth50k

Follow us at @N on twitter.

Looks like a typo. Imparts zero cred since 99.999% of people will not take your ability to "possess" a short twitter account name as helpful for whatever else you may be trying to do.

As far as the "Sorry I am so technically gifted. Let me tell you what you should do to prevent me next time..." thing, what kind of cartoon caper is this?

mrbill 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's not a $50K Twitter username unless someone actually paid $50K for it at one point, is it?

"Not accepting an offer of $50K for a twitter username I didn't use" doesn't really count...

pyk 1 day ago 2 replies      
No lawyer? Any reason why none was mentioned? Extortion is serious federal crime (across state lines, multiple companies, even clear admission of guilt). At the least it would get GoDaddy's attention vs. just asking nicely.
owenwil 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, this is both interesting and terrifying. I have a two character Twitter handle that I use actively and it makes me worry that one day I might be targeted too using a similar method, although so far I've had no problems.
smartician 23 hours ago 3 replies      
That reminds me, a few months ago I had a weird Twitter experience. Someone gained access to my rarely used Twitter account @smartician and started posting spam. Somehow Twitter noticed, reset the password and notified me via email. I have no idea how that was possible.
rodrigocoelho 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Namecheap posted a tweet[1] with an offer to move domains out of GoDaddy:

How we make sure that you don't lose your $50,000 Twitter username: http://ow.ly/t4yR8 $5.99 domain transfers with code BYEBYEGD

[1] https://twitter.com/Namecheap/status/428555697882935296

yaeger 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What I take away from this is that:

a) Two Factor should be mandatory and as soon as it is, any representative of the company MUST insist that a reset cannot be done over the phone. It should be highly suspicious if someone comes up and says "Hi, I lost my email account access AND my phone so could you please reset my password via phone now?"

b) If not Two Factor, the security questions should also be mandatory. No other "data" like past addresses or cc numbers should suffice to reset over the phone if the person doesn't know the answers to all security questions.

And, speaking of these questions, of course they should be stuff that you know and cannot be "guessed" by anyone who is able to read your facebook page or similar. Maybe even some non nonsensical thing like "Favorite Food" - "Horse Droppings". As long as you remember this, nobody should be able to "hack" that over the phone. Even if you go on and on on facebook about how you "could eat your way through a giant bowl of pasta you love it so much"

outericky 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Regardless of how this all went down, and is responsible... It is still theft right? Falsifying ones identity and taking possession of @n is stealing and should be covered under some law, no?
jdrenterprises 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not a programming expert, nor a process expert, but the way I see it...

... there has got to be a multi-stage process for authentication that does NOT use any CC or SSN. Of course, the responsibility lies with the account owner for maintaining passwords/authentication information.

If you lose the information, no way to recover it.

I say this because it seems (again, I'm not an expert) that these thieves use social engineering mostly in the "data recovery" stage of the process.

The only way to tighten that from my perspective is to put maximum responsibility on the account owner to keep their logins, passwords (again, for multi-stage authentication), and such on hand. Don't have a need to recover your info, and others can't use the recovery process to get to your account.

I guess it wouldn't be a perfect scenario but... this, or lose @N.

I am sorry to hear there are companies allowing these practices, though... sad.

hoektoe 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Just find it interesting to see how different the conversation on the same topic is over at reddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1wfwfp/how_i_los...
quackerhacker 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel so bad for Naoki that he was compromised in this scary manner. While the hacker did con his way on the phone for personal information, at the minimum, it's...hmmm....not nice...but "informative/narcissistic," of the hacker to describe his method to the victim.

Makes me happy that companies are moving towards text authentication since emails are easy (or at least well practiced) to compromise.

Note: Time to change my Time To Lives on my MX records and up my security.

erikb 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it not possible to use the last bills as verification of who you are? screenshot of the bank statements and asking GoDaddy to verify their bank data and you've shown that it is in fact you who paid the bills.

Also if account data is changed they MUST keep a log of what your data was before. At least anything beside passwords.

nevi-me 1 day ago 2 replies      
My custom domain address was stolen with the Dropbox data leak, got so much spam that I set my Gmail to pull my mails via POP3. Then I changed everything to use my Gmail, and locked down my Gmail account.

I've heard people go on about how Google (and I suppose other corporations) are evil, and how they are rolling their own custom mail solutions etc. It's times like these that people lose important things.

Also, I really don't understand why US companies must store credit card details. I understand the convenience, but there's been a lot of security compromises to let this practice continue. In South Africa online retailers don't store CC info, yet we aren't being brought to our knees by inconvenience.

At least the attacker mentioned his methods, so GoDaddy and PayPal can educate their staff better.

joshmlewis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I could be wrong but what is the value of a stolen Twitter handle? Just like a stolen car or phone if someone starts using it won't it be obvious that it's the thief or the thieves buyer? That's like stealing a Porsche and then showing it off downtown in front of everyone.
abus 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does anyone believe the hacker's story of how he did it? It's possible he told the truth but it's likely he did not.
EA 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Up until late 2013, it was very easy to social engineer your way past Customer Sales Rep call screens to gain access to an AT&T account once you put together a few pieces of personal data (which was even easier to obtain) of the account owner. You didn't need to know the account password to gain access if you had other pieces of information. Those bits of information leak out through other service providers and are sometimes available through State and Federal Government systems.

That meant that anyone using SMS via AT&T for two-factor auth was vulnerable.

The extra layer of security is only enabled if you call AT&T and ask them to further protect your account from future changes.

vysakh0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since medium also depends on Twitter, his page is no longer available. I checked @N_is_stolen page, it is fresh. So, all his posts in medium is gone, just because there is a change in username?
downandout 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Was @n private before? It is now. If this kid is trying to sell the handle to someone, the buyer is likely in for a rude awakening if and when Twitter does the right thing and returns it.
jimwalsh 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another example of a compromised GoDaddy account and someone potentially losing their domain. Yet people continue to use GoDaddy time and time again.
klapinat0r 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In case OP reads HN: If your websites are hosted with GoDaddy, I would consider them compromised aswel.

He may say that he has left them alone, but you have no chance of knowing.

seanlinmt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting that GoDaddy does not keep an audit trail for account detail changes that might help detect malicious activity. I guess they'll rather lose customers and reputation than do this.
enscr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't you sue paypal or godaddy ? Or better yet, both. Shouldn't be hard to track down the attacker either if you report the crime.
ksk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The "we take X seriously at Y company" line is so tired. These companies are so incompetent that it would be funny if not for people getting screwed IRL.
benjamta 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Crumbs, this makes interesting reading - clearly lots of failings by the companies involved here.

However. If someone were to steal a physical asset in order to extort something else out of me I would go immediately to the police. I'd have thought I'd do the same if the assets involved were digital.

I've no idea if a criminal offence was committed in what ever jurisdiction this happened. But I'd have thought extortion is illegal is many parts of the world?

RawData 1 day ago 1 reply      
So who are you planning on suing? PayPal, godaddy, twitter, or all three?
Tepix 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I read the article.Sounds like an epic fail by GoDaddy, I blame them for 99% of what happened. Glad I'm not a customers of theirs...Oh btw, try to find a registrar that does 2factor authentication!
Ryel 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm still wondering WHY the hacker took a twitter handle and why he didn't blackmail his victim into keeping quiet.

$50k is hardly worth such a bold crime with no exit strategy.

edem 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This was the last straw. I'm moving away from GoDaddy.
amrita1306 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats awful.. I use both GoDaddy and Paypal for my website and this has certainly made me a more cautious of securing sensitive information
ChrisArchitect 1 day ago 1 reply      
pretty freaky stuff. Also, what was the attacker so interested in the @N for anyways? future investment in case some big company/celeb comes along wanting the username? Seems so crazy to go after it...... if Twitter can't sort this out, can't we all just shame the acct into inactivity...Is squatting on it worth all this Mitnick-attack-work?
sdaityari 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Serious lapses on the parts of PayPal and GoDaddy. Ironically, there are sites which even refuse to identify the real person - like this one posted on HN a few days back(http://kevinchen.co/blog/square-identity-verification/)
betenoire 1 day ago 2 replies      
What was up with the part with the facebook message? Why would the attacker tip him off rather than just take what he came for? Or did I read that wrong?
nitinag 1 day ago 0 replies      
No domain registrar should be taking the last four of your credit card number as proof of account identity or ownership. We certainly don't. Have you confirmed they reset the password based on just the last four of the credit card OR was your account's email address itself comprised, allowing them to reset the password via your email address?
DanBlake 1 day ago 1 reply      

Twitter added two-factor authentication back in May. If you're constantly being attacked that you ignore important emails, at least add phone authentication.


You might want to read the post before you comment. He willingly gave the twitter to the hacker.

barlescabbage 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What if this whole story was a lie? What if it was the hacker's final attempt to steal the @n twitter name.
vladtaltos 17 hours ago 0 replies      
besides the obvious stupidity of the parties involved, why would anyone pay for such an uninformative handle 50k ? @N ? seriously -- doesn't spam occur for twitter feeds yet ? I remember when google started off they didn't allow you to have email addresses less than 6 characters to avoid spam...

btw, @! google search returns 0 results. interesting... hmm, twitter apparently allows alphanumeric handles only...

callesgg 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't use godady is what I would take away from the story.
mannat 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Woah ! What a story. You can trust nobody. Well hope that twitter people are reading this and can understand how badly they are trolled. All the best buddy. All the best.
ests 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It was like I read some scary book.
bevacqua 18 hours ago 0 replies      
owens99 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Twitter can help this guy somehow.
ivanbrussik 22 hours ago 0 replies      
story archived here in case it did/does go down:


twice 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is quite frustrating even to read!
GunlogAlm 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Why on earth are people still using GoDaddy?
poopsintub 1 day ago 0 replies      
$50,000 twitter username. Sigh...
metaphorm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
this story reeks of fake to me.

what sane person doesn't call the FBI when an attacker blatantly commits fraud against them, admits to it, and then commits extortion based on the successful fraud? Furthermore, what kind of attacker explains how they attacked? Thats ludicrous.

this has got to be some kind of roundabout way of advertising for the various competitors of godaddy mentioned in the post.

pmorici 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another reason to use Bitcoin. No credit card number to give away to the attacker and identity can be verified by signing a message with a private key instead of guessing at personal information.
Edward Snowden nominated for Nobel peace prize theguardian.com
951 points by ahjones  16 hours ago   189 comments top 32
Lazare 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Some may find the list of people who can nominate someone for the Nobel peace prize interesting. From their website:

Members of national assemblies and governments of states; Members of international courts; University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes; Persons who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Board members of organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; Former advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee

Most of those are fairly small groups; but "Members of national assemblies and governments of states" is a pretty big chunk of people, and "professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology" is a simply enormous group of people.

As a result, nominations are very meaningless; any third rate history or sociology prof at some podunk community college can nominate someone if they have a mind to, and all sorts of people get nominated, often as a lark or to prove a point. I believe Bush was nominated repeatedly, for example. (Well...nominations are secret, but I know of people who have the ability to nominate, and claimed to have done so, and I don't see why they'd bother to lie, so...)

So yes, Snowden was nominated (well, unless these politicians are lying). Honestly, he was probably nominated dozens of times. This isn't news. Also, a couple of left-wing Norwegian politicians like Snowden. Also not news. :) The only real news here is if he wins...

praptak 15 hours ago 5 replies      
While I'm fond of any form of flipping the NSA-backing US administration the bird, the Nobel Peace prize has not enough reputation to matter in this context.

Al Gore got it for raising awareness of climate change. Obama got that for not being Bush. Even if Snowden gets it, it doesn't really matter.

ck2 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Everyone has already forgotten Pfc. Manning rotting away for 35 years.

I saw a "free Snowden" sign the other day which I thought was asinine.

reuven 14 hours ago 1 reply      
First of all, a huge number of people are nominated each year for the Nobel Peace Prize. So the fact that Snowden was nominated doesn't really surprise me; I'm guessing that many activists from around the world are nominated.

The list of who can nominate is somewhat restricted -- but given that any member of any parliament, or any social-science professor at any university, can nominate someone, that doesn't strike me as a very high barrier to entry.

The bigger question, in my mind, is whether Snowden contributed to world peace. Yes, he clearly unveiled all sorts of schemes that the NSA had. It's a good thing for democracy that he did such things; it's clear that the US government was doing things that it claimed not to be doing, and that US and foreign citizens alike were rather upset to hear.

So yes, I'm personally glad to hear that these things were unveiled.

However, did this really contribute to world peace? Is the world a less violent place as a result? You could make the argument that it actually is more dangerous in the world, because the US is less able to spy on people. I'm not sure if that's the case, but it's not a totally crazy argument.

Tloewald 16 hours ago 6 replies      
He certainly deserves it more than Obama (let's not mention Kissinger).
cb_ru 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's have a look at how the Norwegian Nobel Committee works, that is, the people in charge of selecting the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, the committee is made up of five members, who have to represent the political parties of the Norwegian Parliament. Here is the list of these members :

Mr Jagland (for 4 years)Mrs Kullmann Five (10 years)Mrs Ytterhorn (13 years)Mrs Reiss-Andersen (2 years)Mr Stalsett (1 year)

Jagland has been a member of the Nobel Committee since 2009. The same year, he was elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Note that Norway is part of the Council of Europe, but not of the European Union. Jagland is in favor of the EU, although Norwegian people have voted against joining the EU two times.

All of the other members are politicians from national parties. According to Wikipedia, Mrs Kullmann Five is also member of the Board of Directors of Statoil, an oil company which is the largest company in Norway. Mrs Reiss-Andersen is a lawyer, and she has written two novels. Mr Stalsett is the Protestant bishop in Oslo.

As we can see, the committee is not a group of international law experts, famous scientists or peace activists. The truth is, it seems the five members of the committee do not have the right profile to be responsible for one of the most important international awards in the world.

In fact, an additional person helps the committee to make decisions. Geir Lundestad is the director of the Nobel Institute and has been the "secretary" of the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 1990. He was a researcher in charge of international relations at Harvard for three years, and a researcher at the Woodrow Wilson Center, which is the eleventh biggest think tank in the world (according to the Go-To think tank ranking) with famous members like Hillary Clinton and Arne Duncan. Then, in 1990, Geir Lundestad came back to Norway and became the new secretary of the Nobel Committee, and went on for 23 years.

The bottom line is that Geir Lundestad is the real decision-maker. This guy calls the shots, and he will of course not choose Edward Snowden as the next Nobel Peace Prize.

coldcode 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe we can get someone to nominate the NSA for the peace prize. Would make for fun commentary.
chao- 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't be a bad consolation for being passed over as the TIME person of the year.
saosebastiao 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Well it certainly would say something about the value of the NPP if one winner was forced into refugee status in one of the worst human rights violating countries because he couldnt get a fair trial from another NPP winner.
lclemente 16 hours ago 1 reply      
2009 - Obama

2014 - Snowden

That would certainly be something ;)

hawkharris 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Snowden hasn't officially been nominated. From the article:

"The five-member [Nobel] panel will not confirm who has been nominated but those who submit nominations sometimes make them public."

informatimago 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). The Committee's composition reflects the relative strengths of the political parties in the Storting, and is assisted by specially appointed expert advisers.
adobriyan 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Attending ceremony will be tricky.
callesgg 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I partly think the peace is like getting a bucket of piss since the time obama got it.
etiam 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was disappointed he didn't win in 2013. If I remember my reading of the rules correctly the members of the Nobel Committee could still have nominated at the point when it was clear what he was revealing and how. Seems like the obvious choice by far for last year.

As a relatively minor side benefit, Snowden winning the Peace Prize would be an elegant rebuke to the rulers in the Sixth Eye of Five Eyes - Nobel's birth country of Sweden. I'd like to see that.

There are many people that would be eminently eligible to share a Nobel Peace Prize with this sort of motivation though. Only two slots left for the sharing... Bill Binney and Tom Drake? John Kiriakou? Who are the other strong contenders?

blisterpeanuts 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Hear, hear. I would love to see him get the Nobel. I think history will look kindly at Mr. Snowden, while the NSA's activities will be vilified -- assuming we are allowed to learn about those activities and those of us speaking out (or just texting each other about it) aren't fired, denied tenure, or otherwise removed from public view in the Brave New World of total surveillance.
codecondo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
He did open the eyes for many, he clearly was 'sent' here to do just that. Who else?
icantthinkofone 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody can get nominated. Being seriously considered is more important.
richardlblair 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How interesting. If he wins, he will be obtaining the same award as Obama. That just seems so ironic. You win the same award as the guy who has lied about what the NSA is doing, and what he is willing to do about it.
PythonicAlpha 12 hours ago 0 replies      
He will not get it. Since the real kings of the world will prevent it.

They will provide, that more likely a terrorist or mass-murder will get it. Or even somebody that orders unethical kills of people by drones.

sdaityari 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be ironical if he wins the Nobel just a few years after Obama?
jabits 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Here, Here! In the end, more knowledge will lead to more peace. It sounds hokey, but clandestine infinite historical data storage can only end in disaster.
mh_yam 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If Obama can receive it, then I don't see why not Snowden.
kingkawn 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Barack and him will have a good chat at the next nobel winner bbq
codex 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Given that Snowden has undermined Pax Americana, I find this nomination surprising.
daemonk 16 hours ago 3 replies      
When did the Nobel peace prize become the "most-influential" prize.
patricjansson 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be critisim agains the committee itself, giving it to someone pointing out previous laureates as anti-peaceloving.
sleepyK 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. The ability of people to only see what they want to see is amazing.

So Obama deserved a Nobel Peace prize for running a successful electoral campaign, but Edward Snowden doesn't deserve one for making one of the largest exposs of compromises of individual freedom in the history of the world.

Bravo, Americans.

lechevalierd3on 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What kind of message would it send to the world if the US gouvernement was still trying to put in jail a Nobel peace prize ?
mironathetin 13 hours ago 0 replies      
That is a great way to make Snowdens life a little safer.
cordite 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What does the peace prize even mean?
wanda 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobel peace prize =! TIME person of the year
Gmail was down google.com
912 points by d1egoaz  5 days ago   457 comments top 171
simonsarris 5 days ago 14 replies      
Very funny that me and my coworkers at nearly the same time opened our office doors to look into each others eyes and silently confirm that we were having the same issue.

Then we all turned around and went back into our offices to check HN to see if it was just us.

Very funny that everyone reading this did something similar. 84 points in 4 minutes.

mintplant 5 days ago 11 replies      
Top of the front page in less than a minute. What does it say about us that our first response is to rush over to HN?
pkfrank 5 days ago 15 replies      
This actually raises a slightly terrifying reality.

How much would someone have to pay you to never again recover your gMail account? I would demand just an absurd payout to willingly walk away right now, with all those contacts, messages, unread e-mails, organization, etc...

Scary how much faith we put in this free service.

avolcano 5 days ago 5 replies      
Google Plus is down.

I don't think anyone's noticed yet.

sillysaurus2 5 days ago 16 replies      
Why is there no alternative webmail of the caliber of gmail? Is it a difficult problem? If there were such an alternative, all they would need to do is wait until gmail fouls up, as they did here. Then they'd have a flood of new users.

I can imagine a few reasons why there currently isn't an alternative, like network effects stemming from your contact list, or the fact that you'd have to change your email address everywhere and forward from your gmail account. But what are the real reasons?

memset 5 days ago 0 replies      
Happy that the gmail team is having this much success with their product! Don't let the haters get to you, it's inevitable to have some downtime for a product that has gotten so many users. Hoping you guys are back up soon, since our startup has really come to rely on your services. Keep up the good work!
jbyers 5 days ago 2 replies      
No Google status update as of the time of the orignal post, but a quick Twitter search suggests this is a widespread problem: https://twitter.com/search?q=gmail
sheetjs 5 days ago 1 reply      
Were sorry, but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes. You can view the Apps Status Dashboard for the current status of the service.

If the issue persists, please visit the Gmail Help Center

Technical Info

Numeric Code: 93

Sakes 5 days ago 3 replies      
Their app status page says it is up, but for me it is down as well.


IvyMike 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are a million "it is down for me" but is it actually up for anyone? A few text messages to friends around the US show they are all affected.

Edit: back for me in California, too.

ia 5 days ago 3 replies      
Mine is down also. This is actually slightly terrifying. What's standard operating procedure for recovering from a lost gmail account? And I don't mean getting the account back--I mean, your account is lost forever.
VonGuard 5 days ago 2 replies      
Confirmed by my own email not working.... Probably limited to a small subset of users though.
Fauntleroy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Google Music is also having some trouble. Does this affect other services as well?
dshankar 5 days ago 1 reply      
sinak 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have the ability to write a quick Twilio app to notify people via SMS when it goes back up?

Would save us all a massive amount of time continually refreshing the page. I realize a browser extension could do this too, but SMS would be much better.

TallGuyShort 5 days ago 1 reply      
User d1egoaz just hit the Karma Lottery. First and only submission: 435 points in 18 minutes.
dsilver 5 days ago 1 reply      
Of all things, this happens as Google's Site Reliability Engineering team starts an AMA on Reddit[1].

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1w1y5m/we_are_the_goog...

sdegutis 5 days ago 0 replies      
What are some relatively-cheap ways of hosting your own secure email server that's easy to bring back up in case of power outages or other common reasons for downtime?
codex_irl 5 days ago 29 replies      
Say where you are located.

It is down for me, SF Bay Area (east bay).

wbhart 5 days ago 0 replies      
Most Google services except Gmail seem to be having issues at present. My experience was that I was corresponding with someone about a tech support query for an application they run on Google Compute Engine. Just as he asked me to hit some developer swizzlesticks in my Google Chrome, the problems started. First Google Chrome crashed on my PC, then Google chat went, then Gmail, G+ and eventually everything. A few minutes later their Apps Status Dashboard showed an outage. From now on I shall refer to that particular swizzlestick as the Kill Google swizzlestick, and shall laugh maniacally when pressing it.
irunbackwards 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's not working for me either, and there are widespread reports on Twitter of the same experience. Funny thing is, the App Status Dashboard shows green for me.
chmars 5 days ago 0 replies      
My OS X Mail.app got stuck since it cannot access Gmail at the moment. OK, using Mail.app with Gmail isn't the best idea as we probably all know ;)
xux 5 days ago 0 replies      
Status says it's up, but my Google Apps email doesn't work. Good thing I've my emails backed up.
theg2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Also confirming down for me and my co-workers.
vhost- 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not seeing any red on that status page, but the service is definitely down for me.

It is a firm reminder that Google is not bullet-proof.

sp332 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm also getting 503's from http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/
jlgaddis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Screenshot of the error message I received just after entering my credentials: http://i.imgur.com/0my28zo.png

(I'm in the Midwest and typically hit the Chicago DC, I believe.)

mtraven 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some blogspot blogs are down as well.
smoyer 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was in the midst of trying to upload files to Google Drive ... I guess I'll use DropBox for this one (I love having choices!).
rattray 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very happy at times like these that I use the gmail offline webapp. I wrote a blog post about it a while ago, which I took down (deleted the blog) but still have the gdoc if anyone's interested:


pinaceae 5 days ago 1 reply      

had gmail green for a long time, right now half orange. clearly not fully dynamic.

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 0 replies      
lol its everywhere! Both GAFYD and gmail.com are down here in N. California. Anyone have real time satellite imagery of The Dalles in Oregon? :-)
JGM564 5 days ago 0 replies      
If it's actually a widespread outage, is this a configuration problem for some anti-snooping changes that Google is making?

I don't think they've ever had a worldwide outage like this.

frik 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Google AppsStatus dashboard looks broken at least in Chrome 32 and IE 11.

The status indicators orbs are either missing and misaligned.


nostromo 5 days ago 1 reply      
YouTube comments and Google+ as well.
theshitlist 5 days ago 0 replies      
Our Google Apps for Biz is down as well.. 10 minutes or so. Getting 503's from Blogger and errors from Google Plus.

Any idea how many Google services are affected by this right now?

monsterix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dead at my end too... :-)
msoad 5 days ago 1 reply      
Google Play is not working for me either
spoiler 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how throughout the whole time Gmail was down, it worked for a coworker and me the whole time, but it didn't work for anyone else. We enemy exchanged half a dozen emails to test it!

Could it be that the Web app was down, but the actual mail servers weren't? I know I have the Gmail extension in Chrome Installed (not sure about my coworker), could this be the reason?

adamgravitis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Urgh. If only there were a simple protocol to transport mail between distributed systems so the world didn't grind to a halt when the central router died.
benburleson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Gmail for your domain (Google Apps for domains, or whatever it's called) is down as well.
staked 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's down for my (paid) Google Apps account as well. Which is nice since it means I'll get to start the weekend even earlier than planned!
mattew 5 days ago 0 replies      
Down for me and another user.
mudil 5 days ago 0 replies      
Forget about Gmail. The Mavericks Invitational is on. Watch it live now: http://live.redbull.tv/events/374/mavericks-invitational-201...
debt 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised the status board isn't nearly instant when this type of thing happens. I wonder if it's a manually switch or if it's automatically triggered after a certain number of regions become unavailable.
rel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly the page says that it has no problem but I can't log into mail.Google.com or send any mail from my phone.
w1ntermute 5 days ago 0 replies      
Weird, I seem to be one of the few without any problems.

Edit: Gmail up, Hangouts down.

TallGuyShort 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been having intermittent problems with the GMail-integrated Talk / Hangouts client all day as well.
guynamedloren 5 days ago 0 replies      
For all the startups screaming "email is dead & broken"... the top of twitter and HN might indicate otherwise.

(well, except for this very minute, because it actually is broken)

mvgoogler 5 days ago 0 replies      
Both of my accounts just came back up for me.

Note - I have no inside knowledge of what's happening. I'm just posting my observations.

bsgreenb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just realized how you could generate thousands of points of Hacker News karma without ever manually writing a post or comment:

Watch all major status pages (e.g. Google, Facebook, Heroku, etc.) and immediately auto-post the link to that page when anything goes down.

cornellwright 5 days ago 0 replies      
Per their SLA (http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/sla.html) if it's out for more than 45 minutes (0.1% of January) biz users get 3 free days. Yay?
bnzelener 5 days ago 0 replies      
Started with me not being able to download an attachment about 7 minutes ago. Now down fully.
larubbio 5 days ago 0 replies      
A friend pinged me over IM to ask if it was down. I hadn't noticed since I've been using the Gmail Offline chrome app. (Which I really wish they'd merge with the main gmail app)
ngonzal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully they get it fixed soon! But I wouldn't mind if Plus never came back..
nsns 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Google can be DDOSed; isn't it always?
zobzu 5 days ago 0 replies      
meanwhile, my self hosted mail hasn't failed yet for 15 years. but i heard self hosted mail is hard!

(just had to)

aabalkan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Google Plus is a big whitespace https://plus.google.com/
chunky1994 5 days ago 1 reply      
Google's stock just took a 3% dip (~$36), since 10 AM (close to gmail downtime).https://www.google.com/search?q=GOOG
georgecmu 5 days ago 0 replies      
I should note that only Google Apps Gmail seems to be affected. My non-Google-Apps account is working just fine.
senorsmile 5 days ago 1 reply      
Google voice also appears to be down. Outbound calls showing up as carrier's phone number, and dial screen doesn't show normal "dialing with google voice."
kohanz 5 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back! 2:24pm EST here in Ontario, Canada.
cl8ton 5 days ago 0 replies      
Funny to see all the GMail posts:

Is GMail down?^2

GMail is down^4

Gmail is still down^10

gmail is back up^2

Gmail was down

Cymen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back up for me in Chicago however I can't actually send an email:

Oops... a server error occurred and your email was not sent. (#793)

btmills 5 days ago 0 replies      
Connecting with POP3 over telnet and authenticating gives the following message:+OK [SYS/TEMP] Due to a temporary system problem, this mailbox will seem empty.
stokedmartin 5 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/gmail.com - more accurate than google app status
AznHisoka 5 days ago 0 replies      
if gmail charged $200/month, I'd tell Google to shaddup and take my money. That's how important it is to me. Hell, I'd pay $200/month for their search engine as well.

Would I pay $5/month for your SaaS? Most likely no!

lukazar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well, someone is having a really bad day @ google today.
tomrod 5 days ago 0 replies      

Thought it was just me. Glad to know I'm not alone.

lewsid 5 days ago 0 replies      
This thread has now become the most reliable way to send a message to my coworkers. Andrew, please push those changes to production, kthx.
tomrod 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now all services are down.


ams6110 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to be affecting google docs and sites as well. My site loads but some of the image assets do not.
tangoalpha 5 days ago 0 replies      
The app status @ http://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en&v=status&ts=139059123... just started showing Service Disruption for Gmail
vladtaltos 4 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who finds this google status page a bit difficult to interpret?
clarky07 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not well equipped to handle life without gmail.
vermontdevil 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's been up and down for me.
cykho 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love how their status page says they're still up. Who will watch the watchers ;p
washedup 5 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone's gmail in my Chicago office is down.
ChristianMarks 5 days ago 0 replies      
Same here. The GMail status page seems at variance with the actual status.

Manhattan, New York. Verizon DSL.

stan_rogers 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not anymore, it isn't. As global outages go, that was quick.
jebblue 5 days ago 0 replies      
Glad Google is keeping people informed, also glad to see I'm not the only one developing GWT apps.
bederoso 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not working for me in USA and my coworkers in Brazil, definitely widespread
igvadaimon 5 days ago 0 replies      
The most tragic part is that I was doing a difficult 2hour test for a company I really want to work at (frontend developer position). And right now I can't send an email with the completed task.
techaddict009 5 days ago 0 replies      
Search for Gmail in google and click on "email" which is sub link of gmail. See the magic.

Jeff Morsey is doomed with emails !

jsh7 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yahoo seems to be enjoying this news: https://twitter.com/Yahoo/status/426795724542455808
mikegreen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back up, but is anyone else's unread email count fluctuating? I have about 160 (constant #... sad.. I know), but with every third or fifth page refresh it is changing - 191, 160, 380.
johnnymonster 5 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like google decided that we should all take a break from the internet.
brianmcdonough 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know a lot of people use gmail, but I never understood why...
snake_plissken 5 days ago 0 replies      
China is probably about the dump all of their T-Bills...
arcdigital 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wasn't able to access gmail (same error 500/93), so I just closed all my tabs and went on HN for 15 mins. I then tried getting on again, and it seems to be working for me.
trillium 5 days ago 0 replies      
I remember the last time something like this happened - 4 years ago it was down for almost a day.

Impressive that it's almost always up without serious flaws (for me at least)!

anilshanbhag 5 days ago 0 replies      
Fastest rise of points seen in the past one year !On another note, for one moment I got scared as shit - if my data gets erased, I'm done !
codex_irl 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's back for me - bay area.
ChristianMarks 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wager 25 cents that no explanation is forthcoming fro Google.
acdanger 5 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back.
pgrote 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is back for me in Missouri, USA.
vrp101 5 days ago 0 replies      
400 points in 15 min (can we get updates on how the votes are changing over time? it would be fun to go through those)
macinjosh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reason #33 I host my own email.
stormqloud 5 days ago 0 replies      
Their uptime is excellent.

It's taken google hpw many years to read bell level reliability?

dragos2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if a potential incoming email would be lost when Gmail is down?
senorsmile 5 days ago 1 reply      
Was back for a minute, back down again.
FR6 5 days ago 0 replies      
The free public beta is now over. ;)
vezzy-fnord 5 days ago 0 replies      
And I thought the reaction to Michael Jackson's death was huge...

This will probably go down in history as quite a record. I'll wait for the post-downtime analytics.

MaysonL 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just came back for me
obliojoe 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is up for me now, except that I am unable to add any attachments to emails.
baq 5 days ago 0 replies      
yup, and talk too.
Pro_bity 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's like a snow day.
chmars 5 days ago 0 replies      
My Gmail is back :)
j-rom 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow I was just about to post this here. Front page already too.
hiccup 5 days ago 0 replies      
With Gmail down, now I get a chance to catch up on HackerNews.
fjcaetano 5 days ago 1 reply      
Up in Brazil... fuckyeah!?
curiouscat321 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm back. Google Apps using SSO server. Anybody else?
ratsimihah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Someone updates this title. Gmail is up again.
thrush 5 days ago 1 reply      
down for me. NY, NY
NullXorVoid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait to read the post-mortem about this one.
bevenky 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back now in San Francisco!
jbeja 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dead here as well.
vrkr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Down in Montreal!
baq 5 days ago 0 replies      
guys guys it's up again
codecondo 5 days ago 0 replies      
intsunny 5 days ago 0 replies      
Google voice appears to be down as well.
stokedmartin 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's back!
elwell 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back up for me.
data_app 5 days ago 0 replies      
apps dashboard says app but gmail is down for me and my co-workers as well.
lhgaghl 5 days ago 1 reply      
momchenr 5 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back.
nikbackm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Up and running in Europe.
ozi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Annnnd it's back up!
paulrd 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's back up for me.
coreymgilmore 5 days ago 0 replies      
backup but slow...changes are most likely still propagating out
rinon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, same here... oops!
mwenge 5 days ago 0 replies      
Still down in Ireland.
geovizer 5 days ago 0 replies      
...and it's back!
dingdingdang 5 days ago 0 replies      
yup down in the UK too
html5web 5 days ago 0 replies      
Down for me in NYC
cunninghamd 5 days ago 0 replies      
down for me too, in Ontario, Canada.
ericcope 5 days ago 0 replies      
the mighty beast falls... Down for me in Phoenix, AZ.
nichochar 5 days ago 0 replies      
never seen a thread get so many votes so far. Damn you google
jorlow 5 days ago 0 replies      
Down for us as well
washedup 5 days ago 0 replies      
dec0dedab0de 5 days ago 0 replies      
looks good now
sethwhite1 5 days ago 0 replies      
also down in Madison wi at 1:18pm Friday (CST)
juanpdelat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is down in Boston
lotux 5 days ago 0 replies      
down in montreal
vrp101 5 days ago 0 replies      
its back up in gandhinagar, india
rsingla 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back for me.
taigeair 5 days ago 0 replies      
that was fast
aswani521 5 days ago 0 replies      
down for me & my coworkers
lewsid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Down in VT.
ejk314 5 days ago 0 replies      
esMazer 5 days ago 0 replies      
it's been fine for me
senorsmile 5 days ago 0 replies      
adventureartist 5 days ago 0 replies      
aaaaand we're back
withouted 5 days ago 0 replies      
blogger is down as well
joeevans 5 days ago 0 replies      
back, but not sending.
yashness 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its up !
bnzelener 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back up.
lukka5 5 days ago 0 replies      
Something explode at Google
mprogano 5 days ago 1 reply      
...someones getting fired
sudeep1 5 days ago 0 replies      
down in Nepal here
petsagouris 5 days ago 0 replies      
down in Greece too
mplangley 5 days ago 1 reply      
down in sw ohio.
jonli1 5 days ago 0 replies      
up but flaky...
TinyTimZamboni 5 days ago 0 replies      
dfm down for me
atrniv 5 days ago 0 replies      
down in india
bvrlt 5 days ago 0 replies      
sudeep1 5 days ago 0 replies      
now up
mickt 5 days ago 0 replies      
charleswalter 5 days ago 0 replies      
so what? i dont use gmail
Network Solutions Auto-Enroll: $1,850 inessential.com
881 points by zdw  8 days ago   246 comments top 77
brandon272 8 days ago 15 replies      
I have an account with Network Solutions that they will not let me cancel without calling their sales team. I do not have an active credit card on file with them nor do I have any domains or hosting services. They send me e-mails every month trying to bill me for something that I haven't signed up for with language indicating that I'm about to "lose" my services (that don't exist) if I don't pay.

They're terrible.

It fascinates me because I wonder who the leadership team is and what the company culture is like. Do they decide to be terrible by sitting around in meetings brainstorming ways to screw their customers?

eigenvector 8 days ago 6 replies      
Using your stored CC info to auto-bill you for an unrelated product that you never consented to be billed for is quite likely in violation of their merchant agreement with the CC processor.
georgemcbay 8 days ago 0 replies      
To customers of Network Solutions who are considering moving their domains off the service:

When they (inevitably) recant on this policy, please continue your plans to transfer out of their service, even though the phone calls required will make it painful to do so.

This goes way beyond a situation in which the company (Network Solutions) needs to learn a lesson about customer management and into the area where the industry as a whole needs to learn a lesson about what happens to companies that go this far off the deep end and the best way for that to happen is the rapid death of Network Solutions.

beat 8 days ago 4 replies      
Network Solutions has always had appalling business practices that verged on the criminal. Some years ago, they poached a domain my wife had registered with another vendor, by sending her a misleading renewal letter. That particular event ultimately wound up with them at the receiving end of a class action suit.

I absolutely refuse to ever register another domain with them. Their business practices are about as evil as I've ever seen from such a mainstream company.

georgemcbay 7 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't see this tweet earlier, seems to be Netsol's primary public response:


"We are working to get you opted out."

Holy shit, what a crazy response. "Working" to get him opted out? Like they are doing him some kind of a favor and putting in effort above and beyond just not defrauding him in the first place?

gphilip 8 days ago 3 replies      
OP says he will be transferring his domains elsewhere. Seems like he is in for more suffering before that happens [1]:

A Phone Call is REQUIRED for Domain Transfers from Network Solution to Other Registrars

.. Transferring a Domain from Network Solutions to another provider requires the Primary Account Contact to make a phone call to Network Solutions technical support (average time 10 to 30 minutes).

.. Use of the Network Solutions website procedure to obtain a Transfer Code, by the Account Primary Contact, requires a minimum 3 days wait.

(EDIT: Formatting)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_Solutions#Network_Solut...

mark212 8 days ago 1 reply      
This is a violation of federal law, specifically the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act. Opt-out or negative option charges to credit cards are illegal as of January 1, 2011. So is using a credit card number on file for one reason (e.g., auto-renewal of annual registration) for a second product or service.


Note that the law doesn't prohibit 30 day free trials, which is how a lot of SaaS products are sold, so long as that's conspicuously displayed at the time of the original sign-up.

mariusz79 8 days ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer - I hate NetSol with passion.

Correct me if I'm wrong but don't the following excerpts imply that you need to opt-in first?

"In addition WebLock enrolled customers will have access to a 24/7 NOC and rapid response team in the event of any security issues."

"We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this security program and register Certified Users before the program launch date. Thank you for helping us protect you better."

"To establish Certified Users and pre-register authorized phone numbers and email addresses please call 1-888-642-0265 Monday to Friday between 8:00AM and 5:00PM EST."

"Replying to this email will not secure your services. Please click here to unsubscribe. Please note that unsubscribing from our marketing emails will not affect important transactional correspondence such as administrative and renewal notices related to your account"

Key words here are - "established", "enrolled", "encourage","marketing email","not secure your service".

To me it just looks like this is just a sales letter that makes you think like you have no choice...

Edit: added even more proof that most people have trouble understanding what they are reading.

sytelus 8 days ago 0 replies      
Simple Question: Can't you just call your credit card company and ask them to void all of these charges?

My assumption is that credit card companies are obligated to take off any charge you deem is unfair. It is their responsibility to find a proof that charge was with your explicit agreement. This is why they get to keep 1-4% of each transaction in first place. Doing this also had side advantage that merchant ruins reputation and loose their ability to charge like this in future.

Wouldn't this be the least hassle way? Just 5 minutes on call and charges are poof! gone.

Pitarou 8 days ago 0 replies      
357 words before they get round to saying "your credit card will be billed $1,850". Unacceptable.

This would be more honest:


Dear valued customer,

blah, blah, blah, blah, have you fallen asleep yet? We're going to charge you $1,850. You will not notice this charge on your credit bill. You will not request a chargeback. You will wake up when I snap my fingers in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... and you're awake.


tehwebguy 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is almost as bad as ResellerRatings.com

We signed up for something like $15 per month, a year later they upped it to $50 a month and we didn't notice. Still later upped it to $1500 per month and charged several grand before we noticed.

As soon as we realize the prices gone up we reached out, The rep on the phone instructed us to email the CEO to see if he could do anything. He replied with a straight face claiming that we had been notified (as this notifying us is enough, we should have to confirm).

Turns out the price increase had been buried three pages deep in a five-page mailer. We got a partial refund but not before threatening to chargeback.

The best strategy here is to publicize it and then issue a chargeback anyway, the only reason that we pushed was that some of the charges were too old to actually charge back.

firebones 8 days ago 0 replies      
My first thought: why this whole notion of having to call in to cancel reeks of AOL in the bad old days. So I Google "aol 'network solutions' executives" and find:


Relevant part:

>>Network Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: NSOL), the world's leading registrar of domain names with more than 10 million registrations, and America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL), the world's leading interactive services company, today announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar strategic marketing alliance to offer Network Solutions' (NSI) domain name registration and value-added services globally across America Online, Inc. brands, making it easier and more convenient than ever for businesses and consumers to create an online presence.

Interestingly, I ran across what I thought was a great anecdote about Jim Rutt, CEO of Network Solutions in a Barron's article this week:


>>The second inspiration for this memo came from a report entitled Alpha and the Paradox of Skill by Michael Mauboussin of Credit Suisse. In it he talks about Jim Rutt, the CEO of Network Solutions. As a young man, Rutt wanted to become a better poker player, and to that end he worked hard to learn the odds regarding each hand and how to detect "tells" in other players that give away their position. Here's the part that attracted my attention: At that point, an uncle pulled him aside and doled out some advice. "Jim, I wouldn't spend my time getting better," he advised, "I'd spend my time finding weak games."

Seems like he found a weak game with auto-rebilling.

llamataboot 8 days ago 0 replies      
Has to be other HN readers who have gotten similar emails if this is true (I know their twitter support person confirmed it is real, but the price seems completely outrageous to be true). Looking forward to the first person with 200 domains registered there to write here that they got auto-enrolled for a cool 100k a year?
Andrenid 8 days ago 0 replies      
This seems too ludicrous to be true. Is this something they expect ALL customers to pay? Even my dad who has 1 domain with them since the late 90s?

I'll be transferring all my domains (only a couple, most are with Namecheap these days) + any domains my family/friends have with NS out today.

busterarm 8 days ago 2 replies      
Clearly from this thread I'm not the only one who deliberately chose to forget this company's existence over ten years ago.

Talk about blast from the past. I remember having conversations about how awful NetSol was on /. in 1998-99.

zedpm 8 days ago 1 reply      
$1850/year for the privilege of having extra hoops to jump through and extra lag introduced into the process of updating DNS? Where do I sign up?

Seriously, there is potential value in having extra security steps surrounding DNS changes, since that is a known attack vector. It's not clear that this is a particularly good way to provide said service, and the cost is prohibitively high for most customers.

chewxy 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm so glad I cancelled my Network Solutions account 2 months ago. I discovered they were still charging me for a domain I no longer was interested in. Unlike most other domain name registrars, they actually auto opt-in for automatic renewal.

Pissed me off to no end. To cancel, I had to :

1) Find out that you cannot delete your domains or let them lapse. Gotta call them.

2) Call them. They will tell you to send an email instead

3) Email them at deletions@networksolutions.com.

4) Get a confirmation email, which you have to call in to verify.

I ended up cancelling my account after 4 phone calls.

NoPiece 8 days ago 1 reply      
This is my nightmare story with Network Solutions. We were running our business on a domain with Register.com back in ~2002. Network Solutions sent a "bill" for renewal, which our office manager paid without telling anyone. That triggered a transfer from register.com to Network Solutions, blasting all our DNS entries along the way. I was at E3 in Los Angeles and got the call that the site was down, and no email was coming in. I remember sitting on the floor of the convention center trying to troubleshoot over the phone what happened... I'm still angry at Network Solutions for engaging in something awfully close to a phishing scam.
jonknee 8 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't it their job to not illegitimately allow changes to your domains in the first place?
michaelhoffman 8 days ago 2 replies      
How many domains are we talking about? It's one thing if it's $1,850 for one, another if it's 100 domains at $18.50 each. Not that I'm defending Network Solutions' horrible business practices here.
philsnow 8 days ago 1 reply      
They are giving out 9-digit unique PINs required for making changes to accounts, rather than using (H|T)OTP ?

What, exactly, is that $1350 / year supposed to pay for ?

roozbeh18 8 days ago 2 replies      
Network Solutions has been doing other unethical things for years. I used to search for available domains using Network Solutions to only find that the domain instantly had become inaccessible to purchase. I later found out they were buying the domain people were searching for , for a period of 5 days so that you wont be able to purchase it from anyone else. very shady
yummyfajitas 7 days ago 0 replies      
Helpful tip - your CC provider probably lets you generate single-use credit card numbers. BankAm calls this service ShopSafe, but it is very likely your bank provides something similar. Use it.

For example, say I want to buy something for $10. I create a new CC number with a spending limit of $11 that expires in 2 months. Auto-renew, overcharge, try whatever you want. You got hacked and my CC # got stolen? Hacker can spend at most $1. You can also create CC #s with monthly spending limits (e.g., $cost_of_service+$1).

Canceling these single-use CC #s is easy (no phone call - it's one click online) and because they are single use, you only affect a single merchant.

arbuge 7 days ago 1 reply      
On a smaller scale, I just noted that my 1&1 shared hosting account bill went from $8.99 monthly one year ago to $17.99, after a bunch of questionable security features were tacked on. Only way to opt out was by phone.
delinka 8 days ago 0 replies      
Is Network Solutions trying to lose customers? How could auto-opt-in to a program costing that much be a good idea? Does anyone have a reasonable explanation from Network Solutions about this?
llamataboot 7 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the first update I've seen from the company (rather than just tweets from a CS person). Looks like the program is not targeting all users, but the top 1% of their traffic.


beedogs 8 days ago 0 replies      
I left NetSol almost a decade ago. Their ludicrous pricing was bad enough, but this is basically a scam they're running now.
Suncho 8 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh. Network Solutions is terrible. In 2003, I registered my domain for 100 years at $9.99 per year for a total of $999. Then ten years later (2013), I received a notice that they were having a problem charging my credit card for the domain name renewal? Apparently, it went into their system as a ten year registration.

I've been on the phone with them periodically for about a year now trying to resolve this, and in the mean-time I've paid for two additional one-year registrations. It was basically a miracle that I was able to track down the credit card number I used back in 2003. I had to fax them various documents as evidence and now they're supposedly doing an investigation, but I haven't heard from them in a while.

I really should follow up again. I hope I can get a refund for the remaining 90 years and switch registrars. In the end, I might just let Network Solutions keep my $900+ and switch away from them for the peace of mind.

jasey 8 days ago 0 replies      
I can confirm that network solutions engages in this type of disgusting behaviour with my own experience.

I have one domain with them which I bought through a private buyer. They had it with NS so I just stayed with them instead of transferring to another domain registrar.

Yesterday I got a email about renewal which was nice and genuine. However throughout the whole renewal checkout process they added up-sell services by default. Also they defaulted to 5 years renewable.

Finally their domains are $40 / year which is about 4x more expensive than other providers.

By the end of the process I had been through like 4-6 "upsell" screens and had to opt out of about 2-3 things I didn't want like private registration and brand protect (registers all the useless tld's for your brand).

By the end of it I vowed never to do business with them again. Im already being robbed at $40 / year

Nitramp 7 days ago 0 replies      
Here's something I just don't understand about this:

How could anybody ever just "opt out" charge you money for anything? Charging somebody requires a contract between the two parties. That doesn't need to be written or signed, but there must be an agreement between the two parties of some sorts, verbal or whatever. If not, I could just spam the world saying "I herewith unlock you for Foo Service at $5000 per month, opt out by travelling to the North Pole and doing a waltz around it". Surely, that must be illegal in US law, too?

How do these people not end up in jail? Or at least sued to death by some consumer organization?

ceejayoz 8 days ago 0 replies      
I find it fascinating that the first year is more expensive. You'd think they'd want to do the whole "first year is cheap!" trick to catch people on the renewal.
bane 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is so egregious and outrageous, why isn't this story a top result when one searches for "network solutions" in google or google news? Let's not let this die here in HN.
PhantomGremlin 7 days ago 0 replies      
To add to the chorus of "use this other registrar" posts, I'd like to add one thing: read the terms and conditions you are agreeing to.

I did that quite a number of years ago and wound up choosing to use Melbourne IT, aka inww.com for my domains. They were one of the few that didn't have Ts&Cs which they reserved the right to unilaterally change at will. Of course, I've been too lazy to read their current Ts&Cs so maybe their current terms are even worse than NetSol (but that doesn't seem possible, does it?).

crusso 8 days ago 0 replies      
I love easydns.com. Not a big player AFAIK, but professional and very responsive.

I wouldn't consider registering a domain with NetSol and wouldn't hesitate to remove any domains they house from them.

poopsintub 8 days ago 0 replies      
Something similar happened to me at one of the domain registrar sites. I can't remember, but I believe it was register.com or namecheap? I unlock a domain at the last minute to request a transfer. Of course they offered a lower price to renew it with them. The next time I logged in, I couldn't unlock the other two domains without talking to support.
gcb0 8 days ago 0 replies      
lol. They are the new AOL.

scaring old people with threats into paying recurring premiums for absolutely nothing besides their own corporate incompetence.

Also, kids, this is why you change your credit card info every year, at least.

johnjlocke 8 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't Network Solutions the company that got caught buying up domains that users would search for, if they didn't buy them immediately? Thereby forcing users to backorder domains at an increased cost? This post does not surprise me. GoDaddy isn't close to this bad.
xer0x 8 days ago 0 replies      
Network Solutions has been doing other unethical things for years. This is a pretty huge one, but I'm surprised you haven't run elsewhere years ago!
MichaelTieso 8 days ago 0 replies      
I HATE that they require you to call to transfer your domain. Every client I ever come across that still has Network Solutions I immediately transfer them out.
sifarat 8 days ago 0 replies      
is't it the registrar we are talking about, who would register a domain name himself, if you search it using their website. Only to find, you would have no choice for 5 days except to register it with them or wait for 5 days to register with someone else. 'douchebag' is seemingly an innocent word for this kind of business.

>Back in December, the domain registration and hosting company tested a new system that would automatically register any domains searched for by users of its site. That system went live last weekend, meaning users doing a search found the domain they wanted became unavailable and held by Network Solutions shortly afterwards.

link: http://www.geek.com/news/controversy-surrounds-network-solut...

jypepin 8 days ago 0 replies      
If it's only for domain name, I would definitely recommend iwantmyname.com. It's a small team and their service is really great.

Just my 2cents!

pseingatl 7 days ago 0 replies      
Remember that in order to get a chargeback you have to tell your credit card company that you specifically want a chargeback. Do not tell them that you are disputing the charge. If you do not use the term "chargeback" they will merely contact the vendor who will then advise that the charge is valid. Under Visa/MC rules, if you ask for a chargeback using that language they have to give it to you.
blantonl 8 days ago 4 replies      
I think I have over 150 domains with Network Solutions and I stay with them only out of convenience.

But each time I register a new domain name, I swear I am about to sign up for a bunch of crap that I don't need - their registration workflow is fraught with pitfalls and if you simply want to reserve a domain you must navigate a minefield to complete the transaction.

Is there a domain registrar out there that simply focuses on domain registration? If so, I'd love to hear about alternatives...

dpcan 8 days ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else afraid to check their ancient Network Solutions account to see if they have outstanding bills for thousands of dollars worth of crap they never purchased or agreed to purchase?
benmorris 8 days ago 0 replies      
Working with a new client this year and I've been coordinating with the old developer migrating their hosting to my hardware. Long story short the client wanted to move registrars also. Moving from Network Solutions required a phone call from the client to Network Solutions. They proceeded to confuse my client by explaining they really didn't need to transfer the name out, just request the new name servers from me. They also tried to up sell a garbage SEO package. I've never used Network Solutions, but the way they operate is ridiculous.
jaebrown 8 days ago 0 replies      
I saw this and had to read. I feel obligated to post after reading some of the comments. I've never dealt with Network Solutions until I arrived at my current employer, fall of last year. I've to say, that they're by far the worst in the industry. I've dealt with many registrars and I use to think GoDaddy was the worst until I came across these guys. They nickel and dime you for everything. It cost just to redirect a domain via their c-panel. Transferring domains is a pain, along with just about everything else. You'll definitely be talking to a sales guy when you call support and he'll escalate the issue because he has no idea what he's doing. The real support guy will also try to sell you. I work for a company that owns a lot of domains (in the 100s) and have found my experience with Network Solutions to be horrible. Lucky for me, we only have 30 something domains with them and I've been waiting until this year got here (new budget begins) before I paid the fee to transfer them all over to the registrar that manages majority of our domains.
andrew2984 7 days ago 1 reply      
Network Solutions now says they will not automatically enroll anyone into the program. It will be opt-in only:


elwell 8 days ago 0 replies      
I was really pleased with the instantaneous load of this blog.
deepsun 8 days ago 2 replies      
Here I collected prices for domains (only what I'm interested in). If you did that too, I'd be glad to see your spreadsheet.https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Amel5Zz4w7aLdFl...
thrush 7 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would excellent if there existed a blacklist of companies that do this. This is clearly not an isolated incident (think freecreditreport.com). All we would need are the following columns:

offender || evidence || amount || date

thupten 7 days ago 0 replies      
I think I don't have an account with them. But after reading this news, I wanted to make sure I don't have any inactive account with network solutions. So I went to their website and did a forgot userid/password and entered my email address. It appears my email is on their system because it says they have sent an email with my user id.

Its been about 15 minutes and I have not received any email from them. I have checked inbox, spam box..not its not here. I hope they did not activate an inactive account I may have with them or worse I hope they did not create an account I never had in the first place.

mmgutz 8 days ago 3 replies      
I've never had any issues with GoDaddy for domains. There are always coupons for renewals. I've never paid more than $7/yr for each of the twenty or so domains I have.

Just make sure you don't have domains autorenewing.

kiallmacinnes 8 days ago 0 replies      
This has got to be a hack? or something. No company could possibly this charging this sort of money "opt out" is even remotely acceptable.
drdeadringer 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad that the worst hosting company I got in bed with was Yahoo. Maybe I'm lucky, but sometimes a little research with a little experience does a stress-level good.
emacdona 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's been almost a day since this was posted, but I still haven't heard of any other customers having had the same experience.

Is there anyone else out there to whom this has happened? I'm having a hard time finding a colleague that is a NetSol customer -- so I have no one to ask. Can someone confirm that this isn't the only case of this happening?

I'm no fan of NetSol, but this seems ridiculous beyond belief. I just want to know if there is more to the story.

brianzelip 8 days ago 0 replies      
I've begun taking over volunteer webmaster duties for a non-profit beekeeping association (made up of non-technical >= middle-aged folks) with domain reg and hosting through network solutions. I spent an hour on the phone with NS getting to the bottom of some things and got pretty appalled fairly quick. If the org hadn't renewed their setup with NS a month prior to my stepping in, I would have canceled everything on the spot. In addition to a couple other points, they charge double what godaddy charges for a .us domain. (~$40 vs. ~$20).
blueskin_ 7 days ago 0 replies      
Why does anyone still use Network Solutions? I think that by now, I've probably heard as many horror stories about them as GoDaddy, if not slightly more.
aquadrop 8 days ago 0 replies      
I had only troubles with network solutions. I curse the day I decided to use them. I don't understand how they still got reputation of a solid registrar.
dschiptsov 7 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like famous "Darklord of the Internet " article got wide adoption.

Being "successful" scammer is now considered a vertue.

bjitty 8 days ago 2 replies      
I'm glad to see he's transferring to hover.com. I moved my domains there a little over a year ago and couldn't be happier. I didn't have issues with NS but had a lot of issues with Register.com doing shady things like this.

Hover.com is about first domain registrar I've used that didn't feel shady as far as milking every last dollar they could out of me. Trying to up sell, etc.

bhartzer 7 days ago 1 reply      
Domain Name Wire found out about this program, directly from Web.com. Essentially, if your domains are within the top 1% of traffic at Web.com, the company is going to opt you into WebLock.
spullara 8 days ago 0 replies      
This finally convinced me to move the last 5 domains I had hosted there out.
CodeWriter23 8 days ago 0 replies      
Netsol recently caused me a bit of a problem, they auto-renewed my domains for me. THREE MONTHS before they were set to expire. I decided to move my domains after that.

If you look at their site "Network Solutions is now a web.com company". Seems like the new owners are digging deep into Netsol's bowels to get that extra golden egg.

10feet 8 days ago 2 replies      
I really do not trust hosting or domain register companies, which is why I use paypal to pay them. But recently, they have been able to setup an automatic recurring payment when I do this (9web). There is no option when I entered paypal, but to paypal's credit they did send me an email, and it was easy to log back into paypal and stop this.
gr2020 8 days ago 1 reply      
Ya know what else is funny about these guys...go to their home page (https://www.networksolutions.com/index-v2.jsp) and tell us how much a .com domain registration costs, without creating an account or signing in.
Cowicide 7 days ago 0 replies      
I've always considered Network Solutions to be the worst of the worst in many ways. Just trying to get a lot of their pricing off their website is a run down the rabbit hole. Even crapster Godaddy is more upfront about pricing than they are.
shravvmehtaa 8 days ago 1 reply      
The same thing happened to me. I keep getting charged $15 for customer support I am not ordering, and I can't get it cancelled. After spending over 10 hours on the phone with customer service none of them have the ability to refund orders... Never use them.
protez 7 days ago 0 replies      
Unbelievably sustainable business practice. It's amazing that they've been doing that decades after decades.
oliversong 8 days ago 0 replies      
I just moved away from Network Solutions. Their scumbag business practices just keep getting worse. "Auto renewing" your domains and forcing you to call in to turn off auto-renew was bad enough.
bebop 7 days ago 0 replies      
A different situation, but I was just charged almost $40 dollars for a renewal that I never authorized. Network Solutions is about to loose my business. As small a sum as that may be.
rosslazer 7 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully other people that get this email will google it and see this post. I'm sure many non-technical people fall for this sort of thing.
verytrivial 8 days ago 1 reply      
And this gem from the foot of the email:

"Please note that unsubscribing from our marketing emails will not affect important transactional correspondence such as administrative and renewal notices related to your account."

i.e. Anyone whom DIDN'T get this email because they have previously unsubscribed are still going to be stealth-charged? Are Network Solutions TRYING to put themselves out of business?

ChrisNorstrom 7 days ago 0 replies      
Oh them, I searched for PolyFocus.com and another domain using Network Solutions and they registered both the next day and auctioned them off to the highest bidder. They are nasty. I've heard some registrars do that. They check the search logs for anything good and grab domains up.
puppetmaster3 7 days ago 0 replies      
How hard is it for anyone to file a small claims?Not hard I think.
rrich 8 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! Definitely time to get out of there.
cranklin 8 days ago 0 replies      
People still use network solutions? lol j/k
tapmap 8 days ago 0 replies      
cheeky fuckers
How Silicon Valley CEOs conspired to drive down tech engineer wages pando.com
739 points by uptown  6 days ago   466 comments top 55
aspensmonster 6 days ago 11 replies      
Jobs' comments:

>OK, Ill tell our recruiters they are free to approach any Adobe employee who is not a Sr. Director or VP. Am I understanding your position correctly?

>if you [Brin] hire a single one of these people that means war.

Chizen's comment:

>if I tell Steve [Jobs] its open season (other than senior managers), he will deliberately poach Adobe just to prove a point. Knowing Steve, he will go after some of our top Mac talent

Jobs sounds like a Grade-A Asshole, along with every other player involved in this mess. Makes me even less likely to relocate to SV than I already was. Though now I'm curious to know whether these wage-theft pacts extend beyond SV, perhaps to Austin... Many of the same players have a significant presence here. Seriously. If you've got info, hit me up.

pg 6 days ago 16 replies      
It seems like we should be able to measure whatever effect there was. There must be sources of data about salaries in the Bay Area. Has anyone tried looking to see if there is a depression in tech workers' salaries, relative to people in other fields, during the time this agreement was in force?
acslater00 6 days ago 7 replies      
Yeah hate to spoil the party, but this is not 'wage theft'. Wage theft is very specifically the act of withholding wages that an employee is entitled to according to the terms of his or her employment agreement.

What happened here is not even 'price-fixing', it's a fairly weak attempt at 'collusion'. Yes, it seems improper at first blush and the email exchanges are almost comically incriminating, but my guess is that it didn't really have a substantial effect on the engineer salaries write large (or even executive salaries). Agreeing not to cold-call employees is not the same thing as refusing to hire them; that latter would have had a major depressing effect on wages (kind of like if all MLB teams had a handshake agreement to never sign another team's free agent) but that clearly isn't what happened here.

It seems to me like the proof is in the pudding. If big tech companies are colluding to depress engineer wages, they're pretty obviously failing.

Anyway, I have no idea how this lawsuit will shake out, but I know that Pando Daily is doing a shit-ass job of reporting, and I regret clicking on the link and giving them the additional pageview.

firstOrder 6 days ago 7 replies      
The typical response I hear to the idea of more widespread labor unions or AMA-like professional associations for programmers and network/systems/storage/database administrators is that if someone is really talented, they can negotiate a good salary, and that labor organizing together would just protect the lazy and the slackers.

You hear this same thing when someone is lowballed a salary number, or has to put up with some other annoying workplace condition, it's said the person should negotiate this all up front with the employer, and that the person's lawyer should get involved in the negotiation.

As if one person has any chance negotiating against a Fortune 500 company's HR department, legal department etc. (or the equivalent forms coming from some venture backed firm whose VC's lawyer's help with the HR legal forms). Especially when the heads of tech companies are united ( http://www.fwd.us ) to trying to flood the Valley with low-paid workers chained to the H1-B visa, driving down wages and shortening the careers of programmers ( http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/h1b.html ).

Now on top of that, we see that the companies are united in trying to drive down wages. It's not just one Fortune 500 company doing this, it's the management of all of them doing it together. Yet the idea of programmers and admins organizing to defend their interests? Well only complainers do that. Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt organize for their collective interests, but any tech who did that must have something wrong with him - he's a complainer, lazy, whatever. We shouldn't be organized to have our interests defended.

It's a zero-sum issue with two potential beneficiary sides. There are those of us who work, and create wealth being screwed by this. There are those on this board who benefit from this exploitation and thus will pick at points in this article, in this post and so on. Why wouldn't they, they're the ones who parasitically benefit from this expropriation and exploitation.

msoad 6 days ago 14 replies      
Engineers should make more money than what they are making now. The largest number I heard lately is $240k for a data scientist from Apple. That's too low! That person can make Siri better and make millions for Apple.

Why aren't we getting paid like lawyers? If they win $20M they will get paid at least $2M. But if we make a product that generates $20M profit, at best we get $20K bonus. This has to change!

dasil003 6 days ago 4 replies      
As a programmer sure this annoys me, but I find it a bit disingenuous to tie it to growing societal inequality. Tech workers are definitely on the beneficiary side of the inequality gap, so I don't see how these conspiracies to indirectly keep tech workers salaries down to 2x to 5x of median American household income is really germane.
sbisker 6 days ago 3 replies      
Now that this is exposed and (presumably) not as present, has anyone done any work to see if salaries at Apple, Google, etc have since risen higher than salaries at companies who weren't involved with such activity?

This sort of shenanigans went on 100 years ago, but we couldn't study the consequences so tightly back then...it seems that Glassdoor's data, H1B data, etc provides a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of such federal intervention.

dredmorbius 5 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that strikes me as curious is why none of the companies involved broke the story at the time or reported the situation to the Feds. I can think of numerous reasons why, none of them particularly reassuring:

They all thought they could get away with it. The idea that there were no defectors on this basis makes me question the integrity of the entire tech industry leadership.

Nobody had faith in the DoJ's ability to to investigate, or a court's ability to place injuctions, on this behavior and/or retaliatory actions.

Everyone had dirt on everyone else, at least in iteration. It was an n-way Mexican Standoff. Every player felt at least one other had the drop on them. http://fixyt.com/watch?v=HzF_TbmDH5s http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mexican%20sta... As with the first instance, this does little for establishing trust with the industry.

The threat of encroaching action was too great. Any defector would be destroyed before the practice could be halted. There's one slim glimmer of hope here: It suggests that the threat of union action would be similarly disruptive and that a concerted action on the part of employees would in fact tend to succeed. The Achilles heel of the tech industry is that its capital walks out the door every night. If it realizes it can not come back, or merely threaten to not come back, it will have gained a great deal of leverage.

They simply didn't care. Arrogance, psychopathy, delusion. It doesn't particularly matter. Again, trust and reassurance are not promoted.

OldSchool 5 days ago 0 replies      
Steve Jobs said it well, "this means war." The engineering profession as a whole needs to play "war" like adults. This is going to cost money like anything. A permanent PR company that at least gets the engineering profession a louder voice than Marissa Mayer would be a start. A permanent lobbying budget to slowly but continually chip away at domestic and international threats to the buying power of your talent with changes in law is the other half of how grown ups play "war." No need to act like laborers and form a union or have strikes. Real change today happens via PR and lobbying. A well-funded and run professional organization formed with this as its sole agenda would do wonders for all of us.
rll 6 days ago 2 replies      
I was at Yahoo during the years in question and must have been approached 50+ times by Google recruiters. I wonder if Yahoo refused to play along or perhaps they were never invited.
PythonicAlpha 6 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody already complained, that the wage possibilities of software engineers are limited.

I would take it further: In all industry, the trend goes one way: The wages of working people (including white-collar, I hope, that is the right word) have to go down, and the earnings from investments (pure money makes money business) have to climb.

There are only very few exceptions: One are lawyers, as mentioned in an other thread, and the other are people that work in the investment business (investment bankers, traders, ...). The reason for the second exception is obvious: their work is needed to make even more money from the money and every trick is played, to have the smartest, best guys getting the job done ... and get it done better and better.

Problem is: The whole thing breaks our society. Middle classes are already melting massively in many countries. The possessions of the worlds are concentrating in the hands of very few people more and more. Those people make our laws! The other people become poorer, even in the situation that the overall worlds possessions expand massively. The countries are already so much in dept, that many of them can not pay even the interest. Even the US is so much in dept, that there seems to be no possibility to get ever rid of it.

Nobody seems to realize, that while we are talking, investment companies are roaming the world for land, for houses, for companies to buy them, exploit them and throw it away when not needed (and not useful) any more. The wealth of the world gets accumulated in the hand of investment companies and the super-rich.

By rising the value of pure money investments, the value of human labor (to a more and more extend even high-paid and high-value labor) is degrading.

wouldprefernot 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious. Are the executives who make these illegal agreements to restrain trade ever personally held liable?

It seems that would be more effective than fining the companies, or the usual "We don't admit to doing anything wrong, but here's some money anyways."

Apologies for the green account, but I would prefer not to have my real name attached to such a discussion.

staunch 6 days ago 0 replies      
Something that I think gets forgotten in tech salary discussions is inflation. Consider that a $122k salary in 2001 would be $160k/yr in 2013, adjusted for inflation.
gress 6 days ago 5 replies      
It may be that the consequences of the 'conspiracy' was to depress wages, and it should clearly be prosecuted if the legal case can be made.

However does anyone think that this was the intention behind these agreements? Isn't it more likely that they wanted to stop an insane war on one another's businesses by buying off key employees to disrupt one another's operations? It would seem as though companies with a giant stockpile of cash - I.e. MS, Google, and Apple, could stifle competitors by just taking out key employees of their opponents with large signing bonuses, regardless of whether they intend to put them to work or not. The result would be a destruction of value.

sounds 6 days ago 0 replies      
To anyone just starting their tech career in the US, pay attention to the parent comment.

Edit: parent deleted the comment, so here it is: (I sincerely hope the parent is not getting hauled off in handcuffs as we speak.)

  As a former Intel engineer the only thing that surprised me  is how high up these abuses went. These companies and their  leaders are scum to the highest degree. Between refusing to  consider american candidates, mandatority never ending  "crunch" time and suppressed wages I can only warn others  to stay as far away from the companies listed in this  article as possible, especially if you have an engineering  degree.  If you don't actually do anything its can be a pretty  rewarding career assuming you have a knack for abusing  others... such actions are highly rewarded at these  companies. The number of H1-B visas I saw pleading for  relief would astound even the Foxconn taskmasters.
H1-B visas are one of the major motivations behind the "immigration reform" being talked about in Washington DC. The purpose is to drive down tech salaries.

Don't believe them when they claim they are trying to improve labor conditions for minorities or something. To truly help non-US-citizens they would be requesting more green cards and US citizenship. H1-B leaves a person in a limbo world where they are essentially an indentured servant of the company. And the result is lower wages for everyone.

Intel's hiring and HR fiasco has been a running joke in the industry for decades now.

Read iWoz (by Steve Wozniak) to find out about Jobs' behavior at Apple.

Intuit appears to be at the center of this class action suit.

The real surprise is that Google joined them. Good thing Facebook didn't!

scrabble 6 days ago 1 reply      
Googles People Ops department kept overall compensation essentially equitable by making sure that lower-paid employees who performed well got higher salary increases than higher-paid employees who also performed well.

Serious question, is this generally considered a bad thing? Every company I've worked for has had salary bands that work like this. They don't make it a secret. Generally you know which band you're in and the range of that band. I've recently been told in a company meeting at my current workplace that they are mainly working to bring people to the middle of their bands. So if you're above the middle, expect a low raise.

On the other side, I can't help but feel underpaid since I've been told by people who know that the work I've done personally has allowed us to bring in more than 100 times my salary in recurring revenue.

d23 6 days ago 0 replies      
> These secret conversations and agreements between some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley were first exposed in a Department of Justice antitrust investigation launched by the Obama Administration in 2010.

Why is it that lines like this never quite make it into the comments section here?

pja 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ah yes, "Don't be evil": illegally colluding to line your own pockets at the expense of your employees is clearly perfectly acceptable behaviour as far as Google execs are concerned however.

Makes you wonder in what other ways Google has "not been evil" doesn't it.

quesera 6 days ago 1 reply      
The article claims that a "no-poach" agreement constitutes "wage theft". I lost count at how many times that phrase was used in the article, but it was probably fifteen times. It's completely incorrect, dishonest, and overdramatic to the point of being insulting.

I accuse pandodaily of brain theft.

HN needs a kill file, I have truly never read an intelligent article from them.

laichzeit0 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really feel sorry for the employees. There's this fascination between geeks to work at one of these "prestigious" companies, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc. yet at the end of they day you are burning all your time, effort, essentially your life, to make a few guys rich.

They pay you enough to keep you happy, give you a few "interesting" problems to work on if you're lucky, maybe a couple of perks at the office. Why are you selling your soul to these guys in the first place? I just don't get why you'd be interested in making someone else rich for some geek-cred.

cromwellian 5 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing how just a day ago, the media is carrying stories about wealthy techies hurting poor people, driving up prices, living in lavish palaces, and enjoying huge unfair perks like free shuttles to the office. Now the story is, they should have had even more money.
abalone 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think I've read anecdotal stories about companies like google paying huge sums to hold onto engineers, like 6 and 7 figures. Does anyone know what I'm talking about and is this a result of recruitment pressure by startups.. Who obviously don't have the same agreements in place?

If so that would seem to support what the plaintiffs are saying.

smoyer 6 days ago 1 reply      
I don't agree that these agreements are ethical, but can someone explain how they're different from the way a professional sports team manages the rules for players transitioning from team to team? Perhaps the leagues should have more oversight too?

Note that this completely ignores the NFL's non-profit status ... why was that ever granted?

hoboerectus 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it goes back further than that - maybe in the late '80s lobby Congress to get the "Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1990" - a.k.a. the H-1B - to get some cheap immigrant headcount up, then maybe come up with the Java programming language to get a simplified base point where they would be at equal state, or something like that, maybe ship some of them back home to train more, and then recurse. Maybe. Maybe people other than engineers do engineering.
talmand 6 days ago 1 reply      
What astounds me by all this is the idea that the HR people in all these companies seemed to have no issues with going along with these highly illegal schemes. Must make for an interesting work environment to know that your HR people were willing to screw you over for little or no personal gain.
zgm 6 days ago 2 replies      
As a new grad about to enter the workforce, I find this more than a little disconcerting. Do any experienced engineers have any advice on how to avoid this kind of mistreatment?
michaelochurch 6 days ago 1 reply      
I am so glad this is being revealed now. It's not exactly new, but this is the perfect time.

Why? Because Google Bus Protests, that's why. This is a chance for the people and the engineers to line up, shoulder to shoulder, on the same side and take down the fuckers who've become the elite of this system.

The resistance begins.

alooPotato 6 days ago 1 reply      
I remember reading that these pacts don't apply if an employee initiates contact with another company.

Seems like that would be the best way to get salaries closer to market rates - simply be proactive and always talk to other companies and get your company to increase your salary to stay.

joyeuse6701 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder: could the recruiters that were fired sue based on wrongful termination?
wyclif 6 days ago 0 replies      
Mark Ames loves overusing the word "dreary" and its variants: three consecutive times in as many short paragraphs. PandoDaily needs a copy editor rather badly.
ABS 5 days ago 0 replies      
interesting that no one (of the CEOs involved or here in the comments) thought about the natural thing to do when faced by an abuse: to report it.

That would be too much I guess :-)

jfasi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find it amusing that the author is trying to put an "income inequality" spin on an article about tech employees being forced to take low to mid six figure salaries?
trysomething 6 days ago 2 replies      
This conduct is obviously despicable, though certainly not out-of-character for Steve Jobs (all due respect for his talents). However, I generally believe this will resolve (and has been resolving) itself via market mechanisms. The mistaken assumption is that the only competition here is between Apple, Google etc and that it is focused primarily on income.

The market is a lot more subtle than that:

  1. Hackers are not simply mercenaries, esp. the best.   2. A decent % of the best are involved in startups, either as  founders or early hires.   3. "Acquihires" are a mechanism for the best engineers to get paid more "outside" the system.   4. Aside from industry, there is competition from academia etc.

cconroy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know more about how the institutions which these men and women are perched at the top of, affect there attitudes about workers and their labor?I just can't understand what their motivations are, is it really just about maximizing the bottom line? Do they look at workers as just machines, which are fungible; instead of as human beings that are indispensable from their individuality? Is the institution the sole cause of this, or are these powerful positions in a electric field, only attracting particular forms of matter (and repelling others), or a combination thereof?
warble 6 days ago 2 replies      
This seems like it takes some basic facts and then jumps to a lot of conclusions without any data (like sbisker mentions) - I'm not suggesting it's BS, but it's not clear their obvious conclusions are so obvious. I'd love to see actual wage data.
deepGem 5 days ago 0 replies      
So what if Google/Apple/Intel and everyone under the sun poached each other's talent. How high can the salaries go and how high can the money drain affect. After a certain number of years, things are bound to normalise isn't it ? Why fret over 5 - 10 billion when all of these companies put together have something like $500 billion collectively in cash. I seriously do not get this.
dfraser992 6 days ago 1 reply      
All of the excuses and rationalizations I see posted here make me ill. It's like very few "peons" understand the mentality of those who are "in charge" - e.g. the Clueless, Loser, Sociopath hierarchy of how businesses are structured. There has been a recent spate of stories across the web about how wealth affects people's mentality and behavior - I am reminded now of a story about India and how the stark class differences there motivate those at the upper end to treat those not in their own class as even human.... it is more subtle, but just as bad here in the UK. Why would it be any different in the West? How in the world is Silicon Valley, or IT in general, any much different than any other business sector? It is a fundamental characteristic of capitalism that capital will try to exploit labor as much as possible and by any means available. Engineers getting $250K a year is irrelevant - those people are still just "house niggers"...

As a middle class American, admittedly clueless, the education I've gotten over the past decade has been eye opening. And a bit late; I wish I'd learned this stuff years ago. But that is the dark side of being an engineer - the work and the creative aspects can swamp everything else. Other creative professions have this same basic problem, with the business major types exploiting them as much as possible. And basic Marxist theory is even more forbidden than rational thought about drugs in America...

i am not a raving Marxist, but after the last 4 years of my life getting shafted by one of the new crop of robber barons (an out and out sociopath) (yes, I have finally graduated from the Loser class (or been expelled)) it's... christ. Humanity is so tiresome. I've had some great bosses, mind you, and worked for some good companies. But the capital-labor relationship is fundamentally deteriorating and with the coming rise of automation and increased population and refusal to raise taxes and all these other social forces I see, the future looks very dystopian over the next 20 years. Things are getting such that the only logical position to take is that you incorporate yourself and thus you can act as sociopathic as you need to, given everyone else is acting the same. Does anyone with any sense want to live in such a world? I'd like to just do a good day's work, get paid fairly for it and not have to spend more time figuring out how to protect myself from getting screwed over - or figuring out how to screw over the next guy. I can't do my best possible work otherwise. I've got better things to do than play social games. This is something Ayn Rand touched upon in Altas Shrugged, as reviled as that book might be. Lots of capitalists these days are nothing but the social leeches that she railed against, despite their hypocritical protests to the contrary.

I guess I am a Marxist, or at least see the slice of truth about life and society that it reveals. There is a value in honest work, in creating something useful for society - that is something fundamental to being a real engineer. IT likes to claim that is a fundamental value of the profession, but I don't see that anymore (in general). There is too much money sloshing around. Things are getting out of balance. I can only hope the social strife prevalent in the 30s (go read some American history) comes about again - OWS and the protests in the Bay Area now are only the beginning. Then again, the resurgence of the fundamental social forces motivating the 60s that happened in the very early days of the rave scene got explicitly squashed by the authoritarian parts of the power structures in society.... Yes, I do have some stories.

Fortunately, climate change will smack humanity upside the head and force us to start thinking differently.

bnolsen 6 days ago 0 replies      
defense contractors did the same to stop engineers from bouncing around as well.
AnneTheAgile 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since CA is one of the few states that bars non-competes, I doubt this lawsuit could have been brought forth in any other state. Lawyers out there, am I right? In NYC for example, the non-competes are draconian, and there is far less movement between companies. In SiV, fortunately, movement is the norm.
presspot 5 days ago 0 replies      
My personal experience is that the pay structure at Google has not depressed wages at all. It's not unusual to encounter a mid-tier engineering lead pulling down $650k+/yr (with stock), working 40 hours a week. Try hiring that person away from Google. It's nearly impossible to match that kind of take-home without turning your business completely upside down.
rajesht 6 days ago 0 replies      
The site seems to be down, here is google cached copyhttp://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:s-e6m0J...
kv85s 5 days ago 0 replies      
I blame the spineless executives, who peed themselves and folded at the words "this means war". WTF did that hippy salesman Jobs know about war? Oh, you'll go and hurt someone's feelings at a meeting? Give me a F-ing break. That shitbag Jobs wasn't fit to scrape the muck off a real veteran's boot.
bitL 5 days ago 0 replies      
Kids, this is why you should strive to become your own bosses and bootstrap your own businesses!
yuhong 4 days ago 0 replies      
I remember another thread suggesting that Eric Schmidt be fired for this.
nathanvanfleet 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure why no one is talking about Schmidt in regards to this article? He is also a famous dick and even a sex creep. Neither of those two were known as being a nice guy.
leterter 5 days ago 0 replies      
The war on the middle class! And they are winning.
shawn-butler 5 days ago 0 replies      
Power-mad, short-sighted CEOs are par for the course. What is really sad is to see are references to the extent that Board members not only were aware but actually facilitated.
sarojt 5 days ago 0 replies      
I thought anti poaching pacts were legal, arent they?Big tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft have them.
worldsoup 6 days ago 0 replies      
the leaders of Apple and Google are greedy crooks...they are just way better at PR than most other corporate bigwigs
cranklin 6 days ago 0 replies      
well, we can play that same game and form an engineers' union
lucasisola 5 days ago 0 replies      
And now they conspired to bring down the site that hosted this article...
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unlike Capitalism, Globalization is Zero-Sum.
brosco45 5 days ago 0 replies      
We lose.
wellboy 6 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this good, because it kept the insane rents in Silicon Valley down a bit at least?
pbreit 6 days ago 6 replies      
Every time I read an article about this I fell like I'm at The Onion. Drive ++down++ engineer wages? Really? Does anyone on planet earth feel like engineer wages are/were artificially low?
Debunking Princeton facebook.com
735 points by friggeri  6 days ago   145 comments top 42
hooande 6 days ago 10 replies      
I hope this becomes a bigger story than the original. I can't tell you how many times someone has thrown a junk science article in my face, thinking that the issue in question was now settled. A survey with a small sample size, outsized extrapolations and numbers that don't match the accompanying conjecture.

There should be consequences for the people who publish these things. People have a tendency to believe anything that someone in a lab coat says, especially if it supports their point of view or anecdotal experience. In many cases the people who do the research present it with few qualifications while not standing behind assumed implications. If someone publishes sensational and link baity findings they should say, unequivocally, "I'm willing to stake my reputation on the idea this trend is real and will continue" or "These are just data and I'm not willing to say that they have any bearing on reality".

Facebook may not have been right to dignify the initial post with a response, but I hope it works for the best. They say that some attention is better than no attention at all. It's important that this applies to self promotion and persona creation and not science. If somebody has something crazy to say, they should start a personal blog. Those who want to intentionally attract media attention should present themselves as such, instead of pretending to be doing any kind of meaningful experiment and hypothesis testing.

devindotcom 6 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like Facebook is responding to the media interpretation of the Princeton paper rather than the paper itself. I saw no problems with the paper: it applied an epidemiologically-inspired statistical technique to Facebook using a defunct precursor as exemplar. The limitations of this technique are obvious, but it's an interesting idea.

People do "research" like this all the time - you throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. Most of the stuff that ends up on the floor never receives any attention at all, so you don't hear about it on first-tier news sites. But when it's about Facebook, it goes viral, and suddenly is the subject of intense scrutiny. They didn't bring this to the UN for a call to action. They didn't start a company around it. They just applied an idea to some data and wrote it up. And now the entire Internet is making fun of some exaggerated version of their idea, summarized by Huffington Post hit-mongers.

Personally, I applaud these guys for putting in the work to test out a theory. If it's not correct, it will go in the bin with the other ten million papers with flawed theories, premises, methods, or other aspects that have been published in the last day or two.

crm416 5 days ago 1 reply      
As a Princeton student, it's been pretty frustrating to watch this devolve into (drawing from comments on this page) a "sham study by Princeton", with this response being a criticism of "Princeton's methodology", and that "Princeton was deserving of a response like this".

It's been pointed out by a few other HNers, but this type of logic does a massive injustice and disservice to all the institution's undergraduate and graduate students, as well as its professors, who work hard to produce some of the highest-quality research in the world.

To say that this is a "Princeton study" is to present this as if it were endorsed or produced by the administration or some department or even a tenured professor. Instead, let's remind ourselves that this was a pre-peer reviewed paper posted on _arXiv_ by two PhD students (who have likely been at the university for a few years, tops). To paint this as the Princeton community getting together as a collective and putting forth their best attempt to "debunk" Facebook is just hilariously unfair.

Look, there's a thick anti-higher education slant on HN. People love referencing the higher education bubble and the 'demise' of the current university system or whatnot. But it'd be nice if we could keep things in perspective here and at least do better than the media, who can't wait to pounce on a Princeton vs. Facebook feud.

tokenadult 6 days ago 1 reply      
A suitably joking response for a "study" that didn't need to be taken too seriously (and wasn't taken very seriously by most media outlets, including the one that led a story with it). As we discussed yesterday here on Hacker News[1], the study methodology was not sufficiently validated to convince most people that Facebook will massively lose users, even if all the data were correct. More likely, the study's model was just flat wrong.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7104904

btown 6 days ago 5 replies      
What drove Cannarella and Spechler, two mechanical engineering Ph.D. students, to prerelease a paper about network theory and epidemiology, without coauthoring/consulting with epidemiologists or people experienced in viral communications theories, is beyond me. But the title "Debunking Princeton" seems to suggest this should be considered representative of all of the quality of research Princeton outputs, which is certainly not the case. Many posts have been made questioning the strength of the paper in question, and the fact that one with such a link-bait title is rising on HN is unfortunate in my view.

Once again, a reminder to everyone that there are no peer review requirements for papers posted to arXiv. There is no evidence that the original paper was ever accepted by any journal or conference, and not surprisingly given the speculative nature of the study, the advisor of the two Ph.D.-candidate coauthors declined to place his name on the paper. So as an institution, Princeton is no more responsible for this paper than Obama is responsible for that drink machine being broken down the hallway (thanks Obama), even though it happens to be a drink machine affiliated with his country. In that regard, with all due respect towards Mr. Develin, I'm going to have to "debunk" "Debunking Princeton."

[Full disclosure: I am a Princeton alumnus.]

md224 6 days ago 3 replies      
So, if this all snark, does that mean there's no "strong correlation between the undergraduate enrollment of an institution and its Google Trends index"? Because that would be a pretty interesting correlation.

I'm also curious why Princeton's search volume seems to have declined. Obviously it doesn't mean Princeton is going to disappear, but what does it mean? Could be statistically insignificant, perhaps.

EDIT: Here are some comparisons:


Interesting how the initial spread seems to narrow.

nilkn 6 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone curious about the author of this post... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Develin
joelgrus 6 days ago 2 replies      
This is pretty funny, although they ruined it with their "HEY GUYS THIS WAS A JOKE" at the end.
DaniFong 6 days ago 0 replies      
Big data: 0. Smart analysis: 1. Snark: 100. :-)
smoyer 6 days ago 2 replies      
Hmmmm ... I think I believe both articles! Higher education and social media are both in decline. Who needs critical thinking and the ability to gossip 24/7? I'm going to go rewatch Idiocracy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/).
yuvadam 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, Facebook, wanna prove Princeton wrong? How about publishing actual metrics proving that user engagement is at an all-time high?

(Oh, you don't have metrics to prove that? Is that because users are jumping ship?)

debacle 6 days ago 0 replies      
> not all research is created equal

You mean "not all linkbait is created equal?"

S4M 6 days ago 2 replies      
Call yourself "Data Scientist" and publish graphics without units. Congrats!
jjcm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Sassy, but I feel like Princeton was deserving of a response like this. It was a pretty poor study that had a lot of lazy data and speculation behind it.
dmazin 6 days ago 0 replies      
That was... unprofessional.
abus 6 days ago 1 reply      
I see this as Facebook's willingness to use its unfair influence to discredit anyone who dares challenge it. In other words, "if you have a page here, we won't hesitate to use it against you".
snowwrestler 6 days ago 0 replies      
The article jokes about "the scientific principle 'correlation equals causation,'" but I feel like I see people make this mistake all the time, particularly with statistical concepts like expected value, and epidemiological risk factors.

Statistics is descriptive--it's not predictive. It tells you about the data you have. It doesn't tell you why the systems produced that data, and whether they might produce very different data under different conditions.

lucb1e 6 days ago 0 replies      
> every Like for this post counts as a peer review. Start reviewing!

Wait did Facebook just start likewhoring themselves too?

adharmad 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nice comeback by facebook. Instead of defending facebook against the claims in the paper (facebook is not dying! - a very hard-to-defend position) they turned it around and used the same techniques used in the paper to show that Princeton is dying. Offense is the best defense!
xtc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Rather than refute the negative prediction for Facebook we're presented with a sarcastic appeal to those who don't think Facebook could ever dissipate.

This only speaks more towards an argument that Facebook isn't being serious enough with its own statistics. Of all organizations Facebook should be the first to spot a trend especially with esteemed data scientists like Mr. Develin.

raverbashing 6 days ago 1 reply      
Oh and wasn't the Facebook research based on Google trends?

Meaning: people that can't type "facebook.com" on the address bar and type it into google then click?

So... based on that, we can assume people are getting more familiar with the internet maybe?

elwell 6 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this article would exist if the first one had been by Harvard instead of Princeton (given that Harvard was the origin of Facebook).
waylandsmithers 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yikes. I found this to be shockingly childish and the fact that facebook got this defensive makes me think they believe the article has at least a kernel of truth to it.
curiousAl 6 days ago 1 reply      
Google Trends Extrapolation: The Nostradamus of our times.
protez 5 days ago 0 replies      
What is causation exactly? There's no way to prove any instance of causations at all, if we delve deep into the problem of causation. Even though all data, or correlations, support F=ma, a single exceptional case can disapprove the "correlation," therefore we cannot assert force causes accelerations, and so on, since no amount of correlations is ever enough to prove causation.
augustocallejas 6 days ago 4 replies      
One of the top comments on that page is that they loved the tone of article. Personally I hate sarcastic responses (no matter how correct you are), which sound very unprofessional. I hope to see less of these types of responses in the future.
bhartzer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think there is a big difference here between Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. Harvard and Yale clearly bought "likes" to their pages, while Princeton kept it clean and thus doesn't have any fake followers or fake page "likes".
tedsumme 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not to support the princeton conclusion but to initiate your debunk by pointing at "like' trends first is silly.
nonconfermist 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe all sites on the Internet are getting less attention as the number of things to do on the Internet increases.
joshvm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good fun reading that, but.. an R^2 of 0.54? Not a convincing fit.
lockone 4 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is that the real research is the response to the paper and not the conclusion presented in the paper. Kind of a shoot in the air to see which way people run. The information gained by observing Facebook's response could prove useful to other big companies that take a hit in today's media driven society(internet). What works and doesn't work in their PR response. They could also be tracking other data, such as stock prices of other social media companies. It's what makes research so much fun.
lafar6502 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sciencey stuff didn't work? Time to call lawyers
teaneedz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't Facebook a carrier of bugs?
Ind007 5 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving all these articles, facebook has to die - this is my intuition.
xordon 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
logicallee 5 days ago 0 replies      
If they weren't being satirical, this response would be a logical error, this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque (The logical error is that it could very well be true that Princeton is declining, and proving this would not affect the results of the Princeton study that Facebook is declining.)

However, the fact that they did so satirically sounds like when a politician says, "that's preposterous" instead of "that's false."

In addition, the data they use is pretty weak. The first chart shows that Princeton "crashed" or died between 2010 and 2011, since that's when that graph tanked. Since that data isn't good to make their Tu Quoque argument (that Princeton "will die") they are being satirical and ignore it. The second graph shows that more and more Non-Princeton articles are published. But this is due to more and more non-Princeton publications. Princeton has a fairly static amount of output, as the world's universities started outputing scholarly articles in English, you would expect Princeton's share to drop.

More interesting would be if its share of what it is trying to go for, Nobel Prize Laureates, publication in Science and Nature, whatever - were on the decline. This isn't addressed, just a global proportion of all scholarly articles: not Princeton's aim.

However, Facebook's goal is to get a majority of daily active users.

The second to last graph actually shows a pretty good case that larger institutions (by enrolment) correlate with search relevancy. But that is not a case study of an institution whose enrolment fell, which is what it would take to make a parallel case with the Princeton paper. They would have to pick an institution whose enrollment fell with its relevancy, and then show that Princeton is on the same track.

As it stands, it is not "longitudinal" but just a static cross-section of enrollment and mentions. Perhaps enrolment is static at all major institutions, regardless of search relevancy, and their enrollment remains full even if they become irrelevant?

This small switcheroo is a major one, and shows why the article has to be satirical.

Of course they did respond quickly :) It seems to indicate that Facebook did some research, but then found their results too weak to publish straight.

yetanotherphd 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. I think the bigger issue is that there is a huge amount of academic research in which a fancy model (usually involving the latest academic fads) is considered a substitute for serious statistics.

I think Facebook's models with linear time trends are actually much more believable than the original paper.

dynamic99 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is just awesome
jokoon 5 days ago 0 replies      
no, I still hate facebook.
dapvincent 6 days ago 0 replies      
"What's beef?"
charleswalter 5 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that Facebook even responded reeks of fear.

If the original article had been completely ridiculous, Facebook could've laughed it off and wouldn't have had to respond at all.

It's like if someone tells me I'm fat. Because I'm in good shape, I wouldn't react and just think the person is weird for telling me that. But if I was anywhere close to overweight, you'd see a strong reaction of some kind from me.

What the reaction is doesn't matter so much as the fact that there is a reaction.

trollingineer 6 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't take this seriously given the writer is just mad he is a Data Scientist at Facebook and not doing research at an academic powerhouse.
What Hard Drive Should I Buy? backblaze.com
664 points by nuriaion  8 days ago   266 comments top 46
brokentone 8 days ago 3 replies      
Very cool that Backblaze continues to post things like this. Few people have this experience. Of those who do, few (I assume) break it out to this level of detail, actionable for others. Of those who have good experience and records, most would consider it proprietary or just decide not to post. Kudos to Backblaze.
justin66 8 days ago 6 replies      
> The drives that just dont work in our environment are Western Digital Green 3TB drives and Seagate LP (low power) 2TB drives. Both of these drives start accumulating errors as soon as they are put into production. We think this is related to vibration. The drives do somewhat better in the new low-vibration Backblaze Storage Pod, but still not well enough.

Another reason to avoid the WD Green 3TB: these drives aggressively put themselves to sleep to save power. It's literally a matter of streaming a video from disk and if the OS caches enough of the file, the drive will see there haven't been any accesses in a few seconds and stop spinning.

The video will of course glitch when the cached data runs out and the drive needs to spin up. Great design.

deltaqueue 8 days ago 4 replies      
From the article and throughout the comments here it seems Backblaze prefers cheaper drives over a few percentage points of reliability. It would be interesting to see some data showing the tradeoff, but I suspect it reveals too much of their operation. At first glance it appears you can get a drive with .9% failure rate (HGST 7K3000) for $127[1], and yet BB really likes the WD Red, which has a higher failure rate (3.2%) and cost[2].

What might shed light without revealing too much is information about where they source drives today (their sourcing coverage during the shortage was very cool!). I suspect they're finding some nice bulk discounts somewhere.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Hitachi-Deskstar-7K3000-HDS723030ALA64...[2] http://www.amazon.com/WD-Red-NAS-Hard-Drive/dp/B008JJLW4M/(both seem to be market consumer prices)

hackinthebochs 8 days ago 3 replies      
Definitely wish I had seen this a couple months ago before I bought two 3TB seagates. Although to be fair I was already pretty sure that seagates sucked (its good to see data backing that up) but getting two for $85 each was too hard to pass up. I'm a sucker for a deal. I buy HDs in pairs now so I'm not too worried about losing anything.

I am intrigued by backblaze's service though. A part of me feels like there must be a catch somewhere. I have a good 10TB I'd be happy to pay $5/month to backup but somehow I feel like they'd pull a comcast and say their "unlimited" claim doesn't apply to the 1% of users (or in this case maybe the .001%).

cbr 8 days ago 1 reply      
Any stats on power consumption? Over 5 years the difference between a drive that uses 6 Watts and one that uses 7 is 44kWh or about $5. Double that to include cooling costs and saving a Watt should be worth something like $10 to you, so a more expensive more efficient drive could be worth it. Do these drives all use similar amounts of power?
freshyill 8 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if any of this actually applies to consumer-grade drives.

My wife's hard drive actually just died. It was 160 GB WD in a black 2006 MacBook. The drive itself was a replacement from 2007 since the original drive died just over a year into its life.

Stupidly, since her Time Machine backup was misbehaving, I reformatted it and set it to start over. I spent the weekend recovering her datawith a lot of success, so no big deal. At any rate, this machine is long past its expiration date. It's time for a MacBook Air with an SSD, once the tax refund comes in.

jader201 8 days ago 1 reply      
> We are focusing on 4TB drives for new pods. For these, our current favorite is the Seagate Desktop HDD.15 (ST4000DM000). Well have to keep an eye on them, though. Historically, Seagate drives have performed well at first, and then had higher failure rates later.

I'm a little surprised that they actually did the analysis to determine the Seagates tend to fail more, yet they are still putting most (or at least, quite a bit) of their faith in those.

Based on their own data, I would likely avoid those, or at least start leaning more toward Hitachi and WD.

Or maybe the initial cost of those is so much better that it compensates for any long-term expense.

ChuckMcM 8 days ago 0 replies      
Great post, as you get bigger populations of drives you can get a lot more visibility into their overall reliability. If there was one thing I could add to the analysis would be to split out the drives by serial number and split them out by firmware. Sometimes you find that all of the 'problem' in a set of problem drives is a single range of serial numbers.

We've had similar experiences with replacement drives, they are, by and large, significantly less reliable than "new" drives.

And last bit, we've got Western Digital drives here (a mix of 2.0 and 3.0 TB ones) They have been pretty solid performers for us.

DanBC 8 days ago 2 replies      
Do the Thailand floods make any difference to this report? How reliable were those drives, and are the factories ba k up to full speed yet?
acd 8 days ago 0 replies      
Also see hardware.fr failure rates. It shows different data than Backblaze.

French hardware site, component failure rates. Google translate it to englishhttp://www.hardware.fr/articles/911-6/disques-durs.html

So its also important to take hard drive models into account.

Then there is the Google study Failure trends in large hard drive populationhttp://static.googleusercontent.com/media/research.google.co...

Fomite 8 days ago 1 reply      
This is a pretty textbook perfect application of survival/time-to-event analysis. Any chance the data behind it could be made available for teaching purposes?
dnissley 8 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting. I had always avoided Hitachi Deskstars after having heard they were nicknamed "Deathstars" for a reason. Perhaps that was once true, but clearly it's not anymore.
olov 8 days ago 3 replies      
"If the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives."

I don't understand why they don't. Are the Hitachi drives really that much more expensive so that it doesn't justify their vastly longer lifespan? Even if they can get "free" replacement disks during the warranty period, that has a cost for them. And they mentioned that some replacement disks die even faster.

I'm sure Backblaze has crunched all these numbers - would love to see them. BTW thanks for sharing this data!

mustafab 8 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad you still don't have linux client. Do you think supporting linux users anytime soon?
kylec 8 days ago 1 reply      
This makes me feel better about the 4 HGST 4TB drives I just bought (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145...). They were the cheapest 4TB 7200RPM drives on Newegg by a non-trivial margin.
staticshock 8 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see that kind of a difference between hitachi and western digital, given that WD owns HGST. Are hitachi drives marketed as higher reliability drives, or was the acquisition by WD simply too recent for the quality of the two brands to "equalize"?
csense 8 days ago 1 reply      
A better presentation of this data would show a failure rate for each brand and month/year of purchase.

For extremely simple devices like resistors or incandescent light bulbs, failure rate is relatively constant over the lifetime of device -- the chance of a functioning resistor with 10 hours of use failing during the next hour is the same as the chance of a functioning resistor with 1000 hours of use.

For complex devices with lots of interdependent parts, some of which are mechanical, the failure rate changes over time. There's an "infant mortality" or "lemon" phenomenon, where relatively new devices have higher defect rates (because fabrication and shipping sometimes result in imperfections which quickly cause failures), followed by a steep dropoff in failure rates (because observing a device operate correctly for dozens of hours is strong evidence that it doesn't suffer from a failure mode which often results in infant mortality).

Then there may be an increase in failure rates later, especially with devices that are partially or wholly mechanical (wear or damage type problems which do not cause immediate failure, but make it easier for a failure to occur).

You need empirical data to be quantitative about this curve, and it sounds like Backblaze has it, but their presentation in this article doesn't show it.

rythie 8 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Backblaze would provide some sort of Amazon S3 competitor, Amazon always seems very overpriced.
ck2 8 days ago 5 replies      
I'm a big fan of single platter drives, I just buy the biggest single platter at the time.

Which is currently the WD 1gb blue. Very fast, very cool running.

protomyth 8 days ago 0 replies      
In the last two year, I have stopped all buying of Seagate drives. We had a rather large rash of failures in RAIDs and desktops (50% of about 50 drives). Then the "every drive shipped by HP is failing" problems of the netbooks (70 total replace 50 drives) were also Seagate drives.

We are basically an WD house now.

polskibus 8 days ago 0 replies      
HGST (Hitachi) has been bought by Western Digital. One should be able to expect a merge of their HDD lines (source: http://www.hgst.com/) .

Moreover, it seems that Deskstars are no longer manufactured (or have been rebranded). http://www.hgst.com/hard-drives/product-brands

abcd_f 7 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting stats, but I wonder if the drive usage pattern at BackBlaze is somewhat different from that of a home user. In terms of how they seek, read and write. Not that they put more mileage on them faster, but that they might be doing something fundamentally different from how these drives are tested by their manufacturer. Lots of bulk in-sequence writes or something else. The 5-7 times difference in failure rates between leading manufacturers is frankly hard to believe.
desireco42 8 days ago 2 replies      
Is this to counter bad pr from yesterday's story about that guy whose files you lost? Because it looks that way.

No matter what hd you use, if you are corrupting files, it's all the same. Same with Evernote, if their sync is losing notes, and it is, everything else is less important.

cordite 8 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting note on the WD 3TB Green.

I have one in my rig, and whenever I do any disk access, I always have to wait about 5-8 seconds for it to spin up every other half hour. It seems to aggressively turn off. I have my base system on an SSD, and my games and other things on this 3TB drive.

I guess such spin up times would be unacceptable in backblaze's environment.

caycep 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just an amateur at statistics, but I would think this would be a useful set to do generalized linear mixed models on, to see what factors could be statistically significant (manufacturer, model, factory location, etc etc etc)
jpalomaki 8 days ago 0 replies      
Posts like this are the reason why I trust Backblaze.

In general I'm very suspicious about the unlimited offerings. When they tell the technical details I get the feeling they are up to task and not just reselling S3 and hoping people pay but don't actually use the storage.

gnoway 8 days ago 0 replies      
As an administrator with an admittedly smaller sample size, this lines up with my experience with the Seagate 1TB Barracuda ES.2, 15K.6/15K.7-era Cheetahs and some normal consumer Barracudas as well. All of the nearline and enterprise stuff had 5 year warranties, and over the past 5 years we've replaced over 25%.

I've sworn off Seagate altogether, at least until they demonstrate a commitment to producing more reliable drives. I will not willingly buy them for the datacenter, and I won't buy them at any price for the home, RAID or no RAID.

Dystopian 8 days ago 2 replies      
VERY interesting. I always avoided Hitachi drives in my deck for some reason - always concentrated on WD and Seagates (personal experience has led me to lean towards WD as well, as I had a bunch of those non-LP drives that they talk about that like to conk out).

From what I read they look quite reliable over a fairly representative sample (annual failure rate v. # of drives / TBs / years).

cocoflunchy 8 days ago 1 reply      
How does that compare to SSD failure rates? Are they much better?
edward 8 days ago 0 replies      
aroch 8 days ago 0 replies      
Heh...I, too, love 3TB WD REDs. At last count I have 40 of these racked up in servers or NASes and they've worked quite well for me
goofygrin 8 days ago 0 replies      
Seagate Barracuda Green(ST1500DL003)1.5TB510.8120.0%

I've got one sitting on my desk that seagate sent me as a RMA return. Guess it won't be going back into our RAID.

nwmcsween 8 days ago 0 replies      
The worst service and hard drives I have ever had were from seagate. I had 3 separate hard drives RMA'ed _twice_ and all three failed within 3 months twice over, to this day I will not buy seagate.
happycube 8 days ago 0 replies      
Two things I never like to see together on a hard drive: "Seagate" and "Made in China"
bovermyer 8 days ago 0 replies      
I am very impressed by the transparency here, and appreciative of the data. I'd never heard of Backblaze until now, but now I'll have to pay closer attention.
chemmail 8 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't Toshiba be the drives to buy since they took over Hitachi's 3.5 drive factories when WD took over due to antitrust? http://www.wdc.com/en/company/pressroom/releases/?release=f8...
dshep 8 days ago 0 replies      
Dang! I just bought WD Green 2TB WD20EZRX drives (x4) for my NAS.
benrapscallion 8 days ago 0 replies      
Along these lines, I have done a monetary analysis; http://perenniallycurious.com/centspergb.html
wnevets 8 days ago 3 replies      
the WD reds only have 3 stars on newegg.com, interesting.
izzydata 8 days ago 1 reply      
Should the larger capacity seagate drives have a higher failure rate than small ones? That chart seems counter intuitive.
halayli 8 days ago 0 replies      
Lesson from this: buy yourself a hitachi.
madads 8 days ago 0 replies      
Should consider what Jacob Applebaum revealed in his CCC preso about Hard drives: http://youtu.be/vILAlhwUgIU?t=46m25s

Cross out WD, Seagate, Maxtor and Samsung drives. Hitachi wins!

InclinedPlane 8 days ago 0 replies      
Back in 2007/2008 or so I bought a pair of Seagate 7200 500gb drives and got bit hard by their extremely broken firmware. I haven't bought seagate drives since then, it's sad that their overall QC is still so terrible across the board.
undoware 8 days ago 0 replies      
Aside from the incredible usefulness of the data herein -- thanks, backblaze! -- this is also the kind of marketing that I don't mind.

Backblaze got egg on its face yesterday on HN when someone's critical report (rightly) got upvoted. Today they make up for it by giving us an interesting and useful data chart.

I know it sounds weird, but for whatever reason I read this as demonstrating a high level of corporate responsibility and attunement to customers. They could have compensated by instead, say, dropping a few grand on buying journalists and 'reviewers', like Microsoft does. But they didn't. Instead, they were cool. To me that signals that they'll also take care of whatever problems they've had recently. (Note: I have no affiliation with Backblaze.)

I'm currently not shopping for an online backup service but if that ever changes, I now have a good feeling about Backblaze, and I hope that other services take a similar approach to repairing customer relations when they are fraught.

Shit happens, even to backup providers. It's how you respond that matters most.

lae 8 days ago 0 replies      
If only I could find the Hitachi Deskstars for cheap.
wil421 8 days ago 1 reply      
Neither you should buy an SSD.
Show HN: I open-sourced my web app alternative to Illustrator mondrian.io
614 points by artursapek  5 days ago   92 comments top 49
daenz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great work Artur. I think this has potential, with enough contributors, to be a widely used tool. It's unfortunate that some people are getting really hung up on a specific interpretation of the submission title (that it currently has feature-parity with Illustrator), instead of talking about the seriously impressive amount of work you've put into this thing, or actual constructive criticism. Don't let it get to you, and keep up the great work :)
pvnick 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations! I know how difficult this kind of stuff can be - I tried something similar a few years back and ended up dropping the project before it got too far; although I learned a lot about object oriented programming. Great work!
mjhoy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. Love it. Love the visual history. It feels quite snappy. The UI aesthetics are great. You've got most the pen tool features I used in Illustrator, and managed to do it without having multiple kinds of arrows to keep track of, which always bugged me.
ygra 5 days ago 2 replies      
Played around a bit for a few minutes and threw a few of my usually handwritten SVGs at it with disastrous results. View boxes don't seem to work, dashed lines, symbols, any kind of shape rese in general; groups are ungrouped automatically, but apparently properties defined on groups are not propagated to child elements when ungrouping. And it manages to lock up Firefox and IE completely.

Not terribly impressed so far, but then again, I'm not a designer or an artist and I manage to write SVGs that fail in various renderers due to implementation deficiencies. But those I tested were not even complex or used advanced features.

At the moment I'd guess this is aimed at the most trivial vector graphics possible, i.e. only basic shapes, stroke and fill. It might work for that, but that's well beyond what I use of SVG or Inkscape usually.

hablahaha 5 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I'm really awful at drawing on my computer. Many failed attempts at trying to learn Illustrator, Gimp, etc. What's really cool about a web app of a drawing app is that you could use all the open source product tour JS libraries to create interactive tutorials... So impressive, thank you!
rattray 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is terrific. Been fiddling around with the pen tool. So far, not much worse than Illustrator!

A few feature requests: having the shift-c tool (convert anchor point, I think) and being able to delete anchor points would be great. Much harder to work without that. Saving also didn't work the first several times I tried (but great to see auto-saving to localStorage?)

ropz 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think that it's terrific but does a disservice to Illustrator. It's terrific because you've built it - and what's there, works, wonderfully - but does a disservice to Illustrator because the devil is in the million details that Illustrator has already implemented. But I know you want help to make and iron out those details, so really well done!
neovive 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. Have you considered contacting the SVGEdit (https://code.google.com/p/svg-edit/) team to see if there are some synergies?
jnardiello 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not much to say other than: Wow. Great Job.
ii 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can it be used to resurrect Aldus/Macromedia/Adobe FreeHand? I still can't use anything but it and I keep a windows VM on my Mac almost only for it.
auganov 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a specific reason why you choose to implement most (all?) of the functionality yourself without building it on top of any existing libraries?
ricardobeat 5 days ago 2 replies      
Artur, the linked page is almost unreadable here (Chrome OSX):


The Maven Pro font appears to be infinitely thin at weight 300, it only starts being readable at 120px+. It doesn't have a version for that weight, so the browser is [failing at] simulating that.

Kequc 5 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who struggles in general with javascript this is phenomenal and makes me feel like a programming goof. Good job.
niels_olson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is really beautiful. A few questions:

- how do I add and delete points on a path?

- how do I change the node type? Eg, if there are no handles, how do I get handles (antlers I think you call them in the code).

- How do I go from colinear handles to "broken" handles: handles that form an angle at the node, so I can have two different curves joined at an acute angle at one node?

- How do I do intersections, unions, groups, layers, etc?

But I gotta say it again, it's really beautiful...

ye 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is not an alternative to Illustrator.

It's a very very basic vector editor that doesn't even let you rotate things, import any standard vector formats (SVG, EPS, AI, PDF), have dotted outlines, distort, curve the text, etc etc etc.

I understand it was a lot of work, and you did a great job, but let's not pretend this implements even 1% of Illustrator.

seanlinehan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great job. One request: Make the CMD shortcuts work for the CTRL key too. They don't seem to fire.
davidy123 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice simple editor web based editor, though I'd still use the fuller featured SVGEdit in most cases.

One thing that would really stand out would be an 'infinite zoom' I've seen implemented elsewhere.

lukaseder 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is already a database product called Pentaho Mondrian. You may want to think about chosing another name, there are still 1-2 alternative famous artists left :-)
Michael-XCIX 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. I could have really used something simple like this in the past, and really appreciate the ability to use it in the future. Seriously, thank you!
watwut 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great job! Hope you find success with it and thank you for open sourcing it.
thebiglebrewski 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! I'm going to encourage my students to use this in my web design class to draw basic mockups.
thekingshorses 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. I have been thinking about building a web app similar to sketch (http://www.bohemiancoding.com/sketch/). This is pretty good.
johncoltrane 3 days ago 0 replies      
Since when did an alternative to something stop needing to do at least as much as that something?
jbeja 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love how this app is lay as a component base system, really great work. I think i will learn many thing through reading the source code.
cashmonkey85 5 days ago 0 replies      
The is also http://vectorpaint.yaks.co.nz an online vector editor
webwanderings 5 days ago 1 reply      
Pixlr is very popular among young crowd. This one pales in comparison in the same category (free). I don't know about open-sourced though.
Sir_Cmpwn 5 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't work at all for the MediaCrush logo.


krmmalik 5 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for doing this. This may seem like an ignorant question but can your app open .ai files?
kriro 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool, thanks.
Fede_V 5 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic effort, I'll play around with it as much as I can. I am not exactly a coffee script expert, but I might poke around internals.
SippinLean 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, but I need separate object and direct selection arrows like Illustrator. And rulers and draggable guides and a square grid.
coulix 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really really impressive, you roxxPS: http://tutorsbox.com creator
Edmond 5 days ago 0 replies      
don't know if you are interested in edtech but check out appynotebook.com ... it is an open source LMS with a vector graphics drawing layer and a lot more.
mosselman 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty awesome!
dangayle 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. It seems very responsive, which is great.
ajaymehta 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is so sweet, Artur!
felics 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, thanks for this!
elwell 5 days ago 0 replies      
Condition of source code got my upvote.
elwell 5 days ago 0 replies      
So did you just make this for fun?
varkson 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's unusable on IE but looks interesting none the less.
jpincheira 5 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful code. Love it.
noaheverett 4 days ago 0 replies      
You really did put a lot of work into this, great job.
3838 4 days ago 0 replies      
you could check out http://paperjs.org/ too, was originally a plugin for ai
JungleNavigator 4 days ago 0 replies      
Really nice.

I like it works with Dropbox

vrajpal24 5 days ago 0 replies      
Artur this is pretty super dope wedep. Good job homey.
dclara 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice try. What type of OSFS license are you using?
nXqd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats ! This looks great :D
borplk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great job!
ehosca 4 days ago 0 replies      
yeah ... just like Illustrator .. hardly any noticeable difference in in features ...
Square thinks I dont exist kevinchen.co
532 points by kevinchen  2 days ago   251 comments top 50
pyduan 2 days ago 10 replies      
(Disclaimer: I write fraud detection algorithms for Eventbrite, and work closely with the team that built the fraud systems at PayPal.)

I'm sorry this happened to you. I personally believe the burden of proof should be on the company. However, that some choose to err on the side of caution is perfectly understandable.

The thing is that companies that handle credit card payments are very vulnerable to fraud because they are liable for consumer chargebacks [1], at least in the US. This is particularly unfortunate since US cards also happen to have pretty poor security (which also has probably something to do with the fact the merchants are liable, and not the banks). Stolen credit card numbers are extremely easy to obtain (cf. Target breach) [2], and once this is done fraudsters have basically two main ways to extract money out of it:

1) Use the card number to make purchases online, or better yet, find a self-service platform that lets you become a merchant then purchase your own offerings (eBay/PayPal, Eventbrite, etc.).

2) Duplicate the card (made much easier by the US' slowness in adopting chip-and-pin), and use it to pay for goods or to load the money on some account. Square is perfect for this since you own the card-reading device, which makes it much less risky than attempting to use a duplicated card at an ATM or at a retailer.

Now, the problem is that you potentially need a lot of cushioning to withstand fraud attacks: while the processor only makes profit from the transaction fee, they are liable for the entirety of the charge, so one single fraudulent transaction can wipe out the profit of thousands of good ones. Being attacked by a fraud ring for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in a single day is not impossible (in fact we've seen this happen, and Eventbrite's transaction volume is much smaller than PayPal's or even Square's), so this is a lot of risk to take on for a company, especially a startup.

Regarding the bad customer service you've received, there is a specific reason why companies often decline to comment on fraud security checks: by allowing you a way of recourse, they would be disclosing information about how their system works, which makes it potentially vulnerable to attackers. For example, if they said "sure, just send us a copy of your driver's license and we'll lift the ban", this would be a signal for fraudsters to try to fake such documentation.

Overall, it's a complex issue and unfortunately frustration is part of the game (trust me, if PayPal could have found a way to make operations smoother and less frustrating, they'd have done it). At Eventbrite we've chosen to assume this risk and be more liberal with verification because we decided that providing a good user experience is worth losing some money over (and because we have faith in our ability to keep up with the fraudsters), but this is a decision every company that handles money has to make and it's not an easy one.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_card_fraud#Merchants

[2] fun fact: you'd be surprised to see how big this underground economy is; it's so well-oiled that some sellers even provide customer service on the credit card numbers they sold, and offer money back guarantees if the card has already been deactivated

steven2012 2 days ago 5 replies      
To the OP:

If I were you, I would check your credit report IMMEDIATELY.

I'm in the same boat as you, except I'm in my 40s. Most companies use Experian or Equifax to do some sort of credit verification by asking these questions. However, about 5 years ago, the credit agencies merged my credit record with someone else with the same name, but entirely different birthday and location.

Evidently, they don't give a fuck because it took me years to get this wrong information off of my credit records. I don't understand how this isn't libel, since they are spreading false information about me, and that drastically affected my credit, and I had to jump through hoops to get everything corrected.

The thing that really sucks is that Experian STILL has the wrong information about me, so when I'm asked these credit questions, it's mixed with the other person's data, so I always fail the credit check. Despite having nearly perfect credit, I've failed the credit check numerous times, and like you, the decision has always been final, because no one appears to give a fuck.

The problem is I have no idea how to get Experian to refresh their data, even though it's several years old now.

It might be the case that the OP's credit history has been merged with someone else, and if this is the case, they need to fix it as soon as possible. Use the yearly free credit report to make sure there is no loans or credit cards associated with your name, and if so, you need to call every single credit agency and dispute it. It really sucks, and I don't understand how we let the credit agencies have this much power, where we the consumers have to suffer like this whenever THEY fuck up.

nlh 2 days ago 1 reply      
The response "I'm sorry our decision is final and we cannot communicate any further" that vendors give (Google, Square in this case, etc.) is nothing short of stomach-clenching maddening. Just reading it fires up rage inside me.

I understand why they do it -- it's pretty clearly related to their anti-fraud / anti-spam / security systems, and I understand that by giving any further information, they're exposing those prevention measures to weakness. And I'm sure in cases of real fraud / spam / security risk, this is the right approach.

But man, does it stink for everyone involved when there's a false positive (i.e. in this case). There's got to be a better way of handling this. Some sort of escalation / appeal process?

(And if there isn't -- hint hint, companies that haven't gotten big enough to be immobile on this issue: Implement one.)

JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 3 replies      
File a complaint with the:

(1) Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/, and,

(2) New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS): http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.

This will make it more likely that you see a favourable resolution. Further, this assists due process in identifying and resolving problems in our financial system.

uladzislau 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the recent story - Square faces rancor from merchants over customer service:

"Barry said she grew so frustrated exchanging e-mails with customer service representatives that she drove two hours to the company's San Francisco headquarters to get some help in person.

Instead, she cooled her heels in the lobby for a couple of hours. No one would speak to her, she said, and the security guards threatened to call the police. Then Square deactivated her account, saying "high-risk activity was detected."


abalone 2 days ago 3 replies      
Just to add some context, this is a not unexpected consequence of Square's approach, which in many ways parallels what Paypal did in the ecommerce space.

Prior to Square the individual / very small business market was underserved (for real-world transactions). You had to go through a PITA application and due diligence process with a processor. And you typically had to pay significant up-front costs and ongoing fees to maintain your account.

There's a reason for that: the processor is financially liable for any fraudulent merchant charges. If a merchant signs up and puts through $10K of fraudulent charges and skips town with the money, it's the processor that pays.

So Square did two things. First it lowered the upfront costs by piggybacking mobile devices to turn them into low-cost swipers.

But the second very crucial thing they did is hidden on the back-end: they streamlined the signup process and support costs. They did that by doing exactly what you see here, using alternative ID and credit check methods. And making their customer support largely a self-service operation.

The good news is that the particular case you see here is probably fixable with continued improvement. But that's why it happened.. they are replacing an otherwise more costly and burdensome signup process with something largely automated. And there's a lot of money at stake if they screw it up and let fraudsters on board.

siculars 2 days ago 2 replies      
So this is what millions of low income, undesirable customers face every day when they try to join the financial system by opening a checking account. What OP has experienced is the next iteration of that. What happens to society when the gatekeepers of our technologically enhanced future decide for some arbitrary, non-appealable reason that you are an undesirable and you may not participate. Everything from accepting payments via a dohickey on your iphone to even having an iphone. Or maybe the internet. Maybe you can't have the internet cause the we say so authority says they don't like the neighborhood you live in or something that was in your credit history.

I'm getting failed on a similar knowledge based identification on coinbase right now. Failed twice already. At least it's not a final decision, to their credit.

There needs to be laws against this almost certain dystopia. That's one reason why I support the EFF.

HectorRamos 2 days ago 2 replies      
I went through this almost two years ago, with the key difference being that I was able to sign up with Square and accept payments around four years ago (whenever they launched). I even interviewed there at one point, just like you.

After two months, they closed my account because I was living in Puerto Rico at that time and there are no partner banks in Puerto Rico. Once I moved to San Francisco and linked Square with my new California bank account, I was able to accept payments again.

Then one day I got a notification indicating that my account had been closed, and that the decision is final. I contacted Support, and they reiterated that their decision was final, and could not communicate with me any further.

It is the weirdest interaction I've ever had with a company. I still use them as a payment method and I'm a big fan of the company, but I feel disappointed whenever I log in and they remind me that my merchant account is disabled.

tptacek 2 days ago 4 replies      
The comparison to Paypal is funny. Paypal has decided that I don't exist, or, if I do, that I'm somehow ineligible to buy things through Paypal using my credit card.

Buy. Things.

If your site does payment processing through Paypal then, through some accident of account processing or technology or the history of my account, I can't use any of my 3 payment cards to buy what you're selling, because Paypal believes it needs to (for reasons passing understanding) link directly to my bank account before any card with my name on it can be used through Paypal.

mcphilip 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the fine print on the linked Identity Verification Service page [1]:

>Due to the nature of the origin of public record information, the public records and commercially available data sources used in reports may contain errors. Source data is sometimes reported or entered inaccurately, processed poorly or incorrectly, and is generally not free from defect. This product or service aggregates and reports data, as provided by the public records and commercially available data sources, and is not the source of the data, nor is it a comprehensive compilation of the data. Before relying on any data, it should be independently verified.

I'd guess the failure rate of using this service was deemed an acceptable trade off to implementing an independently verified service.


DigitalSea 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am seeing some parallels between how Paypal operates and deals with their customers and how Square deals with their customers, you know the ones that make them profit from the fees they charge for using their service? Sadly, this is how big commerce works. You try and try to get a human response and you're met with the old favourite, "Our decision is final" nonsense.

I recently encountered this with Electronic Arts and their Battlefield 4 game. I forked out about $150 AUD for the base game and premium addition only to be informed my account has been permanently banned after coming back from a month in Europe on holiday because they said I was cheating. Well actually, they wouldn't give the exact reason, but that was essentially what their response implied. When I asked for whatever proof they had, they said our decision is final and we can't show you any proof.

I am in the process of getting a refund as I paid by credit card, but this is definitely a commonly recurring theme amongst larger companies who struggle to deal with their customers and ultimately retain them. What kind of business model punishes their customers?

Good luck, I think you have a real chance of getting some human response now that this is on the front page of Hacker News. My understanding is that this is how people get responses from people over at Paypal as well, create a loud enough noise for someone higher up to respond as to avoid a PR nightmare and get your problems resolved.

lisper 2 days ago 2 replies      
I had a similar experience recently when I tried to get my free annual credit report. To verify my identity they asked me questions about my financial history, mainly about my credit history. Well, I haven't had a loan in many years, so they had to dig deep into the archives and asked me about the monthly payment amount on a car loan that my wife had over ten years ago. My financial records actually go back that far, but hers don't, so I was unable to "prove" that I am me (with "prove" in scare quote because IMO it's highly questionable whether getting the right answer on a multiple-choice quiz can possibly "prove" anything about anyone).
amorphid 1 day ago 1 reply      
TL;DR => go to the top.

First, I had worked for one of California State's departments as a contractor, but hadn't been paid in two months. I called my State Senator, said I had working for the California in his district without pay for two months, and that I needed his help. I got paid the next day.

Second, I had been wrongly charged over $10,000 USD at a city hospital, and hadn't been able to fix the situation. I contacted the Mayor, explained that I was being charged for a service I didn't receive, and asked for his help. The bill went away.

Last, American Express sent me to collections (related to the hospital bill above), and the collections agency was trying to con me into paying more than I owed. I called the office of American Express' Chairman of the Board, and asked if they could help me deal with the collection agency's shenanigans. They pulled my account of out collections, and started dealing with me directly.

Recommeneation => track down Jack Dorsey or someone on their board, and explain the situation. It just might work!

geetee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really dislike these ID verification services. I had my identity stolen about a decade ago; worked it out with the police and credit bureau. To this day, I still get verification questions related to the fraudulent credit card account. Do I answer truthfully and not get verified, or play the game and choose the "correct" yet wrong answer? (answer: play the game.)
rurounijones 2 days ago 0 replies      
The whole "Prove you are who you say you are by answering questions a fuzzy computer system says you should know" seems very Kafkaesque.
tzs 2 days ago 1 reply      
So could I potentially vex an enemy by trying to sign up for Square in his name, and blowing the questions, so that he gets banned from Square?

(I realize I could possibly answer this experimentally, but I'd rather keep this theoretical)

gtirloni 1 day ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed reading all the explanations for why this is a hard problem to solve but it really boils down to a simple problem: customer support.

Any decent support operation would actually talk to this guy, provide workarounds for their broken system (which is clearly broken for this particular occurrence), apologize and promise to improve things.

The fact they they provided a shitty service would be the top on my root causes list.

jessaustin 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's sort of funny, that all three verification questions listed would be answerable by an attacker, but at least two would be easy for normal people to get wrong.
CalRobert 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was much more frustrating than I might have expected when it happened to me on Amazon marketplace. My girlfriend listed some books for sale and was a model citizen of the ecosystem, but they killed her account and held her money for 90 days after the first book sold. When I went to sell some things a few months later, my account was closed minutes after opening it. I have a stellar rating on ebay with 15 years' experience, excellent credit, and a long history as an Amazon customer.

After living in that apartment a bit longer we got some mail for old tenants that seemed to indicate some sketchy activity. I believe they may have been fraudsters. However, despite several emails and calls to Amazon I am told there is no appeal whatsoever any reason, and that's that. The callous disregard for customers is breathtaking.

Needless to say I use DigitalOcean, ebay (that a company can be more user-hostile than ebay is shocking) and avoid Amazon whenever possible.

pmorici 2 days ago 1 reply      
And people keep asking what the advantages of BitCoin are over Paypal/Square/Credit Cards/you name it.
cordite 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like how I had no problem, when I was sixteen, setting up Paypal so that I could buy some random components for some old PDA's from china on ebay.

But this is seriously upsetting, the tone of this writing wants to rip my heart out for the author. I can only wish that this gets resolved decently.

His comparison also reminds me how Amazon's customer service is absent as much as possible. Automation and all that. Yet on that topic, it seems people don't mention Google as much. (I wonder if they filter that out in their results..)

rpauli 2 days ago 0 replies      
And don't be forgetful or old... I'm way over 60 and since I cannot remember names and places I lived 30 or 40 years ago, I am constantly locked out.

So if they have the data, why couldn't a pirate, NSA officer or errant banker?

Perhaps a better test is what I choose to forget.

NAFV_P 1 day ago 1 reply      
You mentioned that your name is common, and reminded me reading about the frequency of certain Chinese surnames. So I looked up this:


I'm making an assumption that your ancestry is Chinese, I believe it is even more popular in Taiwan.

Apparently, according to a summary of the 2007 census there were 7 surnames which were shared by over 20 million people, of which one of them was "Chen".

For a comparison, the article also mentions that the most common surname in the USA, "Smith", is occupied by 2.4 million people.

Let's look at some population estimates:


China is estimated to have 1,360,720,000 people, whereas the USA is estimated to have 317,559,000. The first article states that the frequency of "Smith" is about 0.84%. A quick calculation on the old python interpreter gave the frequency of "Chen" as roughly 1.47%.

What surprised me reading those two articles is that the USA is the third largest country by population.

I though I'd look to see if my surname, "Tucker" (no prizes for guessing which expletive it rhymes with) was popular in the UK. I first looked at this:


... Listing the 50 most popular surnames. I didn't find it, but the list has a column titled "Associated Town" (I was not aware of this convention). At the bottom of the list is "Davis", which is associated with the town of Gloucester, my home town. I'll have to look a bit harder for its actual frequency, it is also used as a first name for both boys and girls. My first name is "Robert", which can also be used as a surname if appended with an 's'. I could have been called "Robert Roberts", or "Tucker Tucker". Reminds me of Rik Mayall's character "Richard Richard" off that vile comedy "Bottom", while co-star Ade Edmonson's character had the charming name of "Eddie Hitler".

Come to think of it, what's the etymology and frequency of "Hitler"? ....

rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
You have to be 18 to sign up because you need to be able to sign a legal contract.
adamio 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are also lots of reports online regarding Square holding payments to sellers, without much info why. Plus they have no phone support, only an email address.
ergo14 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I would just work with Braintree.

I was implementing payment system for https://appenlight.com from paypal to some other solution that would not require paypal account. We've evaluated Braintree and Paymill - as App Enlight is european company, so our options were limited. Before Paymill took its time to reply to me (~22 days), I already managed to validate, sign all the papers and actually implement Braintree solution to our application.

One more thing at first Braintree support told me they might not be able to work with us because of some restrictions on company legal form by processor bank, but after I have sent them all the documents, everything went fine and got approved. Maybe you can try with them.

kevinoconnor7 1 day ago 0 replies      
I ran into a similar issue trying to get verified by Coinbase. I answered all of the questions truthfully, but still failed. After 2-3 times I just began to brute force it. It turned out that one question in regards to a duration of time was completely wrong. Luckily Coinbase let's you do it as many times as you please, just with a 24 hour pause between each try. Come to think of it, they should probably send you an e-mail whenever an attempt it started.
iamleppert 1 day ago 1 reply      
Square is just another PayPal and I don't understand why people can't see that.
Procrastes 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in my 40's and have this problem with any system that attempts to use this method to identify me. My father has the same name as me. (I'm a II not a JR)This seems to be too much for these systems to handle. I've never managed to authenticate successfully with this sort of system.
jayzalowitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well crap. I have social data for millions of people. I could put togeather a backup version of this easily. Does anyone have a use?
lhgaghl 1 day ago 0 replies      
> When they cant find you in their database, they pull irrelevant questions associated with somebody elses dossier especially if you have a common name like I do.

How is this not an information leak? If I know there is only one other person with my name within the area, then I can obtain information from him this way. (Since there will be multiple choices about that person suggested in that questionare)

LeicaLatte 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a long term employee at PayPal, it has always amazed me how much of the bad rep we carry is because of the abstractions we bottle and sell as a company. Money, banks, credit, identity, regulation, fraud, cash, etc. are all loaded, fragile and complicated systems on top of which online payments is built and it is a very different problem as compared to sending and receiving e-mail. Money itself is thousands of years old and is not an invention of the internet. It is done differently everywhere and the sheer number of middle men involved is expected but still mind blowing.

A good payment system has to fix the leaky abstractions below it someday somehow, to be really great.

jtbigwoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's time for us to understand that Square is the bare-bones bottom-of-the-market provider. Just because they seem slick and high-tech doesn't mean they're Apple. They want to be the Wal-Mart of payments, driving down their costs at every turn. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's something that we, as potential customers, have to be clear about.
tomasien 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is another problem with payments that rely on the Credit Card rail. I hate the credit card rail. The CC rail doesn't know who you are, it doesn't know anything, isn't convenient online, and charges merchants insane fees. Forget it, unless you want to pay with money you don't have (aka credit, aka how only 30% of consumers use CC's)
lhgaghl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ironically, when I opened this page it showed me this:


billclerico 2 days ago 0 replies      
identity verification of small merchants is a really hard problem to solve with 100% accuracy. (or even 90% accuracy) At WePay, we use Facebook identity to help supplement KBA. It's not 100%, but does dramatically increase success rate.
Beltiras 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know that names are somewhat holy to some, but your legal name is another matter. User Kevin Chen, but change your legal name to include a middle name. Preferably something unusual but fluent.


ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have the same problem with raise.com - they refuse to sell me anything.
rpicard 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always seem to fail these kind of identity verification systems. It has made it a pain to get a bank account online and to get a credit report.
midas007 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's trying to be a non-repudiation system based on something only you and they know. Unfortunately, without a credit history or paying utility bills, credit sources alone aren't enough. So why not use other facts such as partial DoB, partial SSN, parent/s SSN, etc. only when no other details are available? It's not ideal, but it's better than either losing business or falling back on something much less secure eg facts that are in the public record.
pbreit 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you visited and interviewed there, I'm assuming you tried emailing one of your contacts?
rajacombinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the world of financial services. They're not designed to help you.
bfish510 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the same kind of issue I've run into with T-Mobile and their adult content filter. I can't turn it off because they use financial data to find out if your 18. So because I didn't have student loans or a credit card I can't disable it without going into a store.
bambax 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Design is how it works, not how it looks.


imkevinxu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Same exact thing happened with Dwolla. Couldn't figure out if the identity verification service used my old address, current address, or my parents' address. I'm still locked out...
Sami_Lehtinen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds really silly and backwards. Why they simply don't use strong online identity detection? Should be simple and secure.
wurzelgogerer 1 day ago 2 replies      
I want to quickly chime in as well. I don't want to defend Square, but they are simply using a service and are relying on its information. It sucks that your account didn't get approved, but I do not agree with your final statement: "Design is how it works, not how it looks.". Square uses a third party service, and I actually know which one it is. They regularly update their information, yet there are still issues with identities, as it is not a perfect "science". Square definitely did the best to their ability, but due to the fact that they rely on someone else, it won't be perfect. I have worked with the provider in question myself, and I know of the pitfalls. I believe Square definitely solved the issue as best as they could considering the limitations.
nathancahill 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does Bitcoin think you exist?
fivre 2 days ago 0 replies      
This story loaded right above https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7131231 the Bitcoin exchange arrests). Kind of ironic.
tga 1 day ago 1 reply      
The way I see it, this is the same as trying to check into a hotel without a valid ID or credit card. If they can't verify to a reasonable extent who you are, the hotel will just refuse doing business with you. Is that discrimination? No, they would be certain to lose money overall if they didn't do that, even if you in particular are a nice person and intended to pay cash on checkout.

As long as Stripe made clear what their position was, as to not waste this person's time or money, I don't see a problem here. It can be a business decision to flip a coin and permanently turn away all the customers that get the wrong side, if doing that magically increases profits. You can't even call it bad customer service since they are not a customer and will never be one.

Bro pages: like man pages, but with examples only bropages.org
524 points by randallma  4 days ago   836 comments top 86
blahedo 4 days ago  replies      
Great idea; shame about the name.

Here's the problem with using words like "bro" (however jokingly): the problem is not with what you[0] are thinking when you read the word "bro", but with what other people, especially newcomers, are thinking. The locker-room atmosphere that stuff like this creates is a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people, women especially, who infer that on top of all the technically difficult stuff that everyone has to learn to be CS types, they'll also have to deal with a constant barrage of "you're not our kind" flung at them by the in-group. You personally may not be intending that as your message, but I assure you that your personal intent does not matter when you are using language that has been associated with exclusion and discrimination.[1]

The problem here, if this program is actually intended to be used, is that just typing in the command would be a constant reminder of an entire subculture that is widely seen as[2] putting up walls and doors that say "NO GILS ALOUD" around the programming profession, an attempt to preserve privilege. Those of you suggesting an alias are either being disingenuous or missing the point entirely.

[0] Meaning individuals, of whatever gender/race/class/whatever, that are likely to be reading HN.

[1] If you don't believe me, ponder for a moment sentences like, "But I like Negroes just fine!" Language matters.

[2] Again, you might not mean to reference that when you use words like "brogrammer". But it's how an awful lot of us read it.

EDIT: Rereading other posts on this page, I should add that I almost certainly got the phrase "shame about the name" stuck in my head from reading dewitt's post. Four words, such a concise summary of my attitude! :)

EDIT 2: "they'll have" -> "that everyone has" to clarify argument. Thx vezzy-fnord.

paul 4 days ago 5 replies      
Awesome idea. Shame about the humorless nature of this community.

To me, a "bro" is a dumb, fratboy version of a man, which makes the name hilariously perfect. If you're feeling oppressed and excluded by a command name, your real problems lie elsewhere.

dewitt 4 days ago 22 replies      
Is the "bro" intended to be ironic, or are the creators actually not aware that the term is used to represent the worst (most misogynistic, most crass, least mature, least dependable) people currently flocking to the industry? It is by its very definition exclusionary.

I suppose "brogrammers" might be a target audience, but the concept of the tool itself is pretty good for just about anyone. Shame about the name.

raganwald 4 days ago 4 replies      
My experience is this:

Some time ago, I wrote a post about CoffeeScript. As you may know, CoffeeScript is a whitespace-specific programming language.

I am black, and there is a small cultural wiggle-room when it comes to black people making fun of colour-based cultural issues. So I thought I could get away with calling my post "White Power."

The response was immediate and scathing. Regardless of whether I was personally offended by my title, it was put to me that my title was inappropriate to go sailing round the front page of Hacker News, &c.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but you know what? These things are about how people react, not what was on my mind at the time. There is room for debate when people are doing these things specifically to provoke debate, as one finds in art and drama. But in this case, I was not an artist trying to make a point about culture, I was writing a blog post about CoffeeScript.

I changed the name, I think I renamed it after a Mondrian composition. A few people continued to rag me about it, but in time people forgot the name but continued to productively discuss CoffeeScript.

In any event, I feel for the authors. We all make our little jokes, and sometimes they land with a resounding thud. The problem, of course, is that unless we are artists provoking people into thinking about culture, these discussions are a distraction from the good work we're trying to do.

So the right thing to do as a developer is change the name and move on. If it is changed, the good things in this library will live on long after people have forgotten the rhetoric expended on the choice of name.

It would be a shame if the library is remembered for its name instead of its functionality.

enjo 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is great. I'm really just looking for examples most of the time I'm looking through a man page anyways.

As for the "bro"trevorsy that is brewing in these comments. Lighten up for crying out loud.

nicolethenerd 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a woman, and I think it's hilarious and not at all sexist. Had to stop myself from laughing out loud because I'm in a library.

Is the association that some people will make with "brogrammer" culture a bit unfortunate? Sure. But there's nothing about this program that's making any assertions about bros, or their gender, or anything else - heck, it's not even really talking about people, it's just a play on the word 'man'.

And if we can have a woman named Siri who lives in our phones who answers our questions, why can't we have a bro who lives in our computer and helps us out with the command line?

krstck 3 days ago 0 replies      
Token woman in tech here, with the disclaimer that I do not speak for "women" or anyone else but myself.

I am sensitive to the issue of exclusionary culture within tech. I think there are times when this is a necessary discussion to have. I want to see more women get involved in programming, and I am happy to point out instances of men perpetuating a sexist culture.

With that said, I don't see it here. I really don't. And I understand the concept of lots of little things adding up over time, where one joke would not be offensive, but a constant barrage would be. I think of myself as someone who isn't bothered at all by swearing, but I have a housemate who literally swears in every other sentence and it is the most grating thing to me. It's not once instance, it's the accumulation over time. But I don't think this is similar.

"Bro" being offensive seems very highly specific to particular subcultures that I guess I'm not a part of. I guess there are people for whom that word has some highly negative connotation, maybe the people who are called "bros" derogatorily, but I don't understand why this pun is offensive to women. Gender isn't some super shameful characteristic that I flinch at any reminder of its existence. If I used this tool, I guarantee you that I would not be subtlely reminded that I am an "other", that I am not a "bro"; I use git all day every day and I honestly forget that it has any other meaning.

I hate to say this, because women feeling excluded from tech is a big, real problem, but this conversation trivializes it. People who need to hear that this is a problem are going to see this discussion and think that women are being ridiculous. Women are not underrepresented in tech because of this. But thanks for contributing to the stereotype that women whine and complain about trivial stuff, bros.

gruseom 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've often wished for something like this. Most of us learn by example.

I fear that the humor in it, much as I like humor, is a mistake. First, it comes across as a gender troll. Any technical attention the tool receives will be smothered by that avalanche. (Exhibit A: this thread.) More importantly, it impedes how the tool needs to work: get to the point immediately and cut everything else. Man pages may be Byzantine, but they do this well.

If I need examples for curl, examples for curl are all I want to see. They should be laid out readably and minimally (a nontrivial design problem). The last thing I want is a joke repeated everywhere. I'd say the same about the upvoting and downvoting stuff that appears in there: it's extraneous and distracting.

When I'm stuck on a shell command, it's usually because I have a specific task I'm trying to do. All I want is for the light bulb in my head to switch on so I can go "Oh I get it!" and go off to do the task. The best way is to see an example that's close enough to what I'm trying to do that it's like a magnet that attracts my specific task and snaps it in place. That's why I like the idea of this tool. It should focus on getting the user to that moment as quickly as possible.

morsch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks similar to the established commandlinefu site: http://www.commandlinefu.com/

There are scripts to search it from the terminal, e.g. https://github.com/t9md/cmdline-fu

It's a nice complement to man pages, especially since it contains complex examples using multiple tools linked by pipes, which is where the terminal really shines.

bliti 4 days ago 1 reply      
This thread has opened my eyes to the sexist atrocities carried on throughout the tech industry. The first obvious one is my current language of choice, Python. That is the worst and most sexist name for language. Why should female programmers have to put up with it? Python == Snake == Slang for male genitalia. It is so obvious! Ladies, I'm sorry for all those years of oppressive code that I've spent writing. But let's continue. What about Unix. Yeah, Unix. Doesn't it sound like the word Eunuch? Which is a term used for a castrated man that guards a harem (full of sexual slaves). How could I have missed it? Amazing. Ever since the 1970s, we have been making women interact with a system that was named after a sexual slavery term. Just awful. I wish I were done, but no. There are still many terms out there that are just offensive. What about the server Gunicorn? It is a play on the word Unicorn, which we all know is a fictitious (I hope) animal that features an enlarged horn on its forehead. That darn horn just looks like a penis, doesn't it? Well, that's is offensive to women. I'm gonna email the Gunicorn team to give them an earful. What were they thinking? Worst is that this is just a small collection of samples. What does C stand for? Cunt? Wait, what about F? Fellatio? Oh man/woman, we need to really reconsider sexism in this industry. Cause bro, its simply not working out.
ronaldx 4 days ago 0 replies      
The concept is great and should be promoted: so many times I've just needed a basic example and been unable to find one.

Man pages are often not fit for purpose and fail at basic pedagogy. Poor man pages (alongside poor UX generally) renders good software unusable.

It's really an important task to fix this problem - I can't begin to imagine how many hours this could save. This has the potential to make it easier for people to try software out and could lower barriers to enter computer science.

The name is clever, I suppose, but it's simply not appropriate and contradicts any goal of inclusive openness, and I find that important. I feel conflicted, but I can't contribute to this project under this name. :(

Karunamon 4 days ago 1 reply      
For real? Someone does a play on words with man pages and we end up with a 546 comment thread about SJW bullshit?

Unbelievable. Someone does a cool thing and the discussion is about the name they chose for it. Not what it does, not what problem it solves, but because someone, somewhere, might have an issue with the name.

Concentration on the minutae of mostly irrelevant things instead of stuff that actually matters, like function and effect. Basically everything a developer hates.

What the fuck.

AznHisoka 4 days ago 0 replies      
To the OP: Brilliant product.About the name: Brilliant marketing. Extreme hatred or disgust is better than indifference :) Enjoy all the PR. Those who find the this useful will care less about the name you give it.
teddyh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Let me fix this with a one-line shell function:

  eg(){ man "$@" 2>/dev/null|sed -ne '/^EXAMPLE/{:a;p;n;/^[^ ]/q;ba}'|${MANPAGER:-pager -s};}
Now theres an eg command to display just the EXAMPLES (or EXAMPLE) section of a Unix manual page.

For example:

  $ eg cat  EXAMPLES       cat f - g              Output f's contents, then standard input, then g's contents.         cat    Copy standard input to standard output.
If the command gives no output, the manual has no EXAMPLES section. Consider writing some examples and submitting a patch to the manual.

There, I fixed it. Now nobody needs this program (or should I say brogram) anymore. (Thanks to pbhjpbhj for the name: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7122063)

skybrian 4 days ago 0 replies      
At this point it's not about taking offense (I think everyone understands the pun now, and it's funny the first time.) We can assume good intentions but it's still okay to say this is bad marketing.

From a marketing perspective, giving your product a name some people hate is polarizing. It might get attention in the short term and is certainly memorable, but in the longer term isn't a great move because they'll cringe every time they use it or have to talk about it and the complaints will continue. So why not pick something else?

Examples of badly named projects that were renamed, just to show it can be done and it's not a big deal: forplay -> PlayN testacular -> karma

nsxwolf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Geeks mocking bros while pretending to be tolerant and inclusive. Classic HN. Let's see you make fun of African American Vernacular English next.
geetee 4 days ago 1 reply      
This pile of comments is such a fucking downer. Get the sand out of your proverbial vaginas.
victorhooi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Are you kidding me?

Hundreds of idiotic comments on this page from Social Justice Warriors with too much time and nothing better to do.

People, it's the word Bro... get over it. It took me a second to get the joke (it's from man pages), I thought it was semi funny but whatever, it seems useful actually.

Why can't we keep the contents in topic? The authors put in effort to make this - how about we commend them for that, instead of tearing them down, when we've contributed nothing to this project.

evilduck 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's like /r/ShitRedditSays has invaded HN.
maguirre 4 days ago 2 replies      
People, calm the f@#k down. This tool appears to be very useful and its intent is to make your life easier. If you feel the name bothers you so much that you can't use it then that's your prerogative just like it was the developer's prerogative to name it whatever he/she wanted
boyaka 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a shit-fest in the comments. Why am I here... I don't even know what this website is about. I like the idea of examples though. That has always been one of the major ways for me to learn, even though my superiors throughout my educational career seemed to think it ruins the learning process.
fhars 4 days ago 0 replies      
It should be renamed "cargo" as it encourages cargo cult programming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_programming
mattdeboard 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you like the idea but hate the name, symlinks & aliases.
codergirl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Woman in tech here. I almost skipped reading the post because I instinctively thought "bro pages", like man pages but for bros. There are lots of bad ideas out there, shame this is a great idea with a name that inadvertantly sabotages it.
tzs 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Bro" can have many meanings [1] [2]. Most of the complaints seem to be coming from people who are aware of just one of these, which is not the one most people think of when the term is used.

[1] http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/bro

[2] http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/06/21/193881290/jea...

stared 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great! 'man' usually is a good reference but one of the worst place to start.

One comment: the thing with voting takes _way_ to much space, and hence not that many things are visible. (Maybe a _single_ line would be better.) But the idea with feedback is great!

gfodor 4 days ago 0 replies      
White Knight News
darbelo 4 days ago 3 replies      
Here's a nickel kid, go buy an operating system with decent man pages.
hodgesmr 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a neat idea. I won't comment on the name--but observations on the tool:

Looks like anyone can submit examples to this. Users need to be very careful before blindly copy-pasting the "example" scripts into their shell. Hopefully the voting system will remedy this, but that's not guaranteed. While not nearly as dangerous as copy-pasting from the browser[1], still proceed with caution.

[1] http://thejh.net/misc/website-terminal-copy-paste

ComSubVie 4 days ago 2 replies      
A very nice idea and I hope it will gain a lot more examples (at least I will try to add further examples)!

And I love the name and it's play on the manpages. But a lot here seems to recommend changing it - can anybody explain to a non-native-speaker what the problem is with the current name?

hinchley 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know the "man" in "manpages" is short for "manual", but when I first saw this site, I took the "bro" in "bropages" to be short for "little brother". If the "man"-page is the old, official, formal documentation for a command, the "bro"-page was the young, informal, still-evolving version of the documentation. In this sense, the name is rather apt.

The negative connotations of the word bro appear to be rather US-centric. I am Australian, and I have several friends from New Zealand who use the word bro as a term of mate-ship and affection (I've even heard one friend call his mum bro).

With that said, it's great that people are conscious of the affect of matters like this on the inclusiveness of the community - but in this case, when the word "bro" has such a variety of associations, perhaps we should judge the book by its content, and not its title.

uses 4 days ago 0 replies      
man is short for manual. bro can be short for brochure. Which kind of makes sense anyway.
jtheory 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do so many of the arguments on this page seem to think that "bro" is part of male culture?

I'm male. I'm even American. I don't think anyone including my biological brother has ever called me "bro" in my entire life. Maybe because I'm 38 and not 22?

When I see something being pitched/marketed/whatever using the word "bro", I have never imagined it could be targeted at me.

Just now I figured I'd visit the site before commenting, and I mistyped the domain (the .com is the FB profile for some frat-related group). Oops; so I googled "bro pages".

The FIRST HIT is something about the playboy mansion. Nice.

I'd be vaguely annoyed if someone standing near me noticed that tab ("bro: just get to the point!") open on my browser, so unless there's a roaring wave of approval and it's suddenly better than regular man pages (which aren't bad; I skim fast) plus StackOverflow, I'm not using it.

Eh, with a little luck they'll change it and try again. The idea seems solid.

shurcooL 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is neat; I want[1] something similar for Go types as well.

For example, say I'm looking at godoc for http://godoc.org/go/build#Package and I see all these descriptive comments for the fields:

    type Package struct {        Dir         string   // directory containing package sources        Name        string   // package name        Doc         string   // documentation synopsis        ImportPath  string   // import path of package ("" if unknown)        Root        string   // root of Go tree where this package lives        SrcRoot     string   // package source root directory ("" if unknown)        PkgRoot     string   // package install root directory ("" if unknown)        BinDir      string   // command install directory ("" if unknown)        Goroot      bool     // package found in Go root        PkgObj      string   // installed .a file        AllTags     []string // tags that can influence file selection in this directory        ConflictDir string   // this directory shadows Dir in $GOPATH            // Source files        GoFiles        []string // .go source files (excluding CgoFiles, TestGoFiles, XTestGoFiles)
I'd love to see a random sample data of that type, e.g.:

    (*build.Package)(&build.Package{        Dir:         (string)("/Users/Dmitri/Dropbox/Work/2013/GoLand/src/github.com/shurcooL/go/vcs"),        Name:        (string)("vcs"),        Doc:         (string)("Package for getting status of a repo under vcs."),        ImportPath:  (string)("github.com/shurcooL/go/vcs"),        Root:        (string)("/Users/Dmitri/Dropbox/Work/2013/GoLand"),        SrcRoot:     (string)("/Users/Dmitri/Dropbox/Work/2013/GoLand/src"),        PkgRoot:     (string)("/Users/Dmitri/Dropbox/Work/2013/GoLand/pkg"),        BinDir:      (string)("/Users/Dmitri/Dropbox/Work/2013/GoLand/bin"),        Goroot:      (bool)(false),        PkgObj:      (string)(""),        AllTags:     ([]string)([]string{}),        ConflictDir: (string)(""),        GoFiles: ([]string)([]string{            (string)("git.go"),            (string)("hg.go"),            (string)("vcs.go"),        }),
(A couple of them, putting the most commonly occurring samples on top, etc.)

Perhaps Sourcegraph will offer something like this in the future.

[1] Well, I'm slowly working on achieving this myself in my spare time.

steveplace 3 days ago 0 replies      
remember when we didn't have to check our privilege before reading HN?

that was nice.

piyush_soni 4 days ago 0 replies      
Before opening this HN article, I had a 'faint' fear that people might be discussing some made up sexist issues here rather than what it is about. Oh, how my fears were fiercely true.
fleshweasel 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you are getting that upset about the use of the word bro you have bigger problems
tight_scientist 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a real shame that the whole discussion here seems to be about the name the author chose for this project, rather than the actual project. Surprisingly, the discussion on Reddit seems to be much more constructive and interested in talking about the project itself.
NigelTufnel 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea: basically, it's a "kind of Stack Overflow in your shell".

The "bro" name is great actually - made #1 on the front page just because of it.

mayneack 4 days ago 0 replies      
3 entries for alias -- submit your own example with "bro add alias"

# make 'sis' equivalent to 'bro'alias sis=bro

        bro thanks      to upvote (1)        bro ...no       to downvote (0)

tobinharris 4 days ago 0 replies      
Learn by example is powerful. Installed. Great work.

I am also concerned about the gender situation. I solved it with these commands:

ln -s /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/bro /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/sister

ln -s /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/bro /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/lady

ln -s /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/bro /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/lass

ln -s /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/bro /Users/tobinharris/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p0/bin/sko

sgs1370 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't man pages have more examples, is it because of space, or the work to maintain them (including making sure they still work?)

Although man pages is where I go for the syntax and option definitions, stack-overflow has become my go-to place for examples. I think this "bro pages" is an attempt to fill a need but if the tool-owner is willing, a man page approved by the owner seems like it will be more authoritative.

Man pages seem like a great place for people who want to contribute to open-source to try and submit patches containing examples (unless examples are prohibited by most patch-approvers). I hate writing documentation, including examples, so I won't be adding in either spot, but lots of people on stack-overflow seem to have a desire and some have a knack for it.

HowardJ 4 days ago 0 replies      
This whole thread is silly.

The "Bro" has nothing to do with brogrammer or that misogynist culture. It's a pun on "man" pages.

And most people in tech who use the term bro are not referring to the brogrammer culture. They're using the bro slang popularized by MMORPGs/MOBAs/4chan/internet memes, since like World of Warcraft 2004.

Myrmornis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that a command giving terse examples of unix command usage has the potential to be really useful, and I was excited when I saw there were 614 comments.

I'm very disappointed to see that the comments are full of do-gooders criticizing the author's choice of name for the command. She or he is free to call it what he/she likes. Maybe those do-gooders should look up `bro alias` and discuss the project itself instead of trying to sanitize the world to better fit their personal sensibilities.

certainly_not 4 days ago 0 replies      
I use this bash function to achieve something similar using the existing (and much larger) database commandlinefu.com:

    howdoi() { curl "http://www.commandlinefu.com/commands/matching/$(echo "$@" | sed 's/ /-/g')/$(echo -n $@ | base64)/plaintext"; }

Tloewald 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea and the name is funny, but it seems to me that the obvious name, just sitting there waiting to be used, is help. Another option would simply be to subvert man (since this is far more useful than man) so e.g. man gives you the examples but gives you a keystroke option to switch to the original man page in the case you actually want it.
vezzy-fnord 4 days ago 3 replies      
Clearly this is very offensive, exclusionary and misogynistic. I mean, it's not like software has ever been named based on word play-oh, wait...






Then it's very common for forks of other software, or software that is meant to compliment another program, to humorously reference the original program. The examples are numerous.

"Brogrammer" is a very recent neologism that originated out of a perceived frat culture amongst primarily (surprise) web developers, but it's still mostly used to describe a hypothetical bottom of the barrel person, rather than any seriously observed overtaking of programming by immature frat boys.

"Bro" dates far before that. I think it's perfectly valid to use it as a pun on "man", which originally stood for "manual", yes. But that's how word play works. The GNU Project hosts jokes like these on their site, too. I haven't heard of anyone complaining.

If you can't stand it, alias it. But being dramatic about it is ridiculous.

siddboots 4 days ago 1 reply      
How about "ma'am pages"?
noodly 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good idea, but to really supplement man-pages it should also support sections e.g. "bro 2 write" for getting common-case example how to use write function.
ryan-allen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually there are really good points in this thread.

I never thought of manpages as sexist but certainly typing man this and man that all the time could offend some people.

We certainly should do something about this.

Deinos 4 days ago 2 replies      
A good idea, but I see it taking some backlash for the name, which would be unfortunate because, aside from the name, it really is not perpetuating "bro"gramming, etc.
vacri 4 days ago 0 replies      
Crazy that you have to have Ruby installed first.
Toam 4 days ago 1 reply      
spoiler 3 days ago 0 replies      
I seriously can't fathom why so many people have a problem with the name (because it may or may not affect a third party, however has not directly affected the person writing the post. Wat). Y U mad, bro?! [1]

It's a cool thing, I love the whimsical name (I find it witty and clever)!

[1] I apologise for that; it was just too tempting!

donotsurveil 4 days ago 0 replies      
The name is terrible.

Here are a few suggestions of names:

- ccex for common case examples- howdoi for how do I- comcasex for common case examples- usex for use examples- usagex for usage examples- howtouse for how to use- ill-namedpoorlythoughtoutcommand for bro- loudandobnoxiousdespicableman for bro

jrockway 4 days ago 0 replies      
A ruby project, what a surprise.

  $ bro rm  rm -rf /
I approve of this form of documentation.

ygra 4 days ago 0 replies      
A nice touch in PowerShell is that this kind of thing is already included, as the cmdlet help is structured into different sections, one of which is examples. So Get-Help Get-Foo -Examples gives you them directly.
schnevets 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the name just needs an acronym!

  B.R.O. - Brief, Reviewed Orders  B.R.O. - Big Repository of Operations  B.R.O. - B.R.O. Responds Often  B.R.O. - Bitter Ruby Organizers
The possibilities are endless!

mmcclure 4 days ago 0 replies      
Went to bropages.com later to install this (instead of .org). The irony, it hurts.
methodin 4 days ago 2 replies      
Bro, short for browse?
kristopolous 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote an identical thing 10 years ago. went nowhere. boohoo for me.
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hope someone is analysing the voting patterns in threads like these because it's pretty clear that HN has been invaded by MRAs.
csuper 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bro, do you even code?

I like the concept btw...

zequel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not offended, not sure if it's sexist but I think it's immature and unprofessional. Kinda like a fart joke.
spoiler 3 days ago 0 replies      
I seriously can't fathom why so many people have a problem with the name (because it may or may not affect a third party, however has not directly affected the person writing the post. Wat). Y U mad, bro?! [1]

It's a cool thing, I love the whimsical name (I find it witty and clever)!

[1] I apologise, for that; it was just too tempting!

fleitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, also dear haters if you don't like the name just fork it and change it.
ishener 4 days ago 0 replies      
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means. - Albert Einstein
maguirre 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the silly discussion, I do have a couple questions.Can this be used in a machine that's not always connected to the internet? Considering the ranking method is decided via votes, won't (theoretically) results change from one day to the other?
RobertLong 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad the downvote system exists but, what happens if it's the only entry for a command?

# Cleans malware from systemsudo rm -rf /

        bro thanks 4    to upvote (1)        bro ...no 4     to downvote (9)

ch 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks rather useful, though man pages should also contain examples, but a desperate command to just reach the examples would be nice. I would have called it "how."
Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Afaik, this link wasn't visible well enough. http://bropages.org/browse it should be made easier to find at top of the page.

Btw. Nice derailing with most of comments.

choicesmade 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny timing, I published a similar projects just a few weeks ago!


It doesn't have all the "bro" features, but has a few extra ones too:

- less offensive name :)- syntax highlighting of input parameters- pages are stored on Github (pull request friendly)- but no way to upload/vote on suggestions for now

Happy to hear any suggestions!

jclem 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's another tool pretty similar to this that I really like. Many of the entries actually have a pretty extensive "EXAMPLES" section (I remember the `tar` one actually being super thorough in its examples). Some of them don't, but they typically have a thorough explanation of what every flag for that specific command actually does (I'd rather...you know..learn how something works rather than just copy and paste a bunch of commands and flags). I can't remember what it's called.
AgathaTheWitch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely brilliant. Love the name.
c7b0rg 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a cute productivity hack that I will probably use.So sorry for OP that people getting offended by words and tipping fedoras is more serious than creativity.
varg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, I always browse the man pages looking for examples ...
SrslyJosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Pro (not bro) tip:

1. PAGER=less; export PAGER2. man somecmd3. Type "G" and hit ctrl-b once or twice

Examples in man pages! Who knew?

whistlerbrk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can they alias bro with sis so the name doesn't matter?

This is a great idea I'd hate if the project name overshadowed the potential.

politician 4 days ago 0 replies      
So much for just taking one quick look at HN, then getting to work. Next time, I'm going to stick to Quibb.
jjsz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm loving these social experiments! Reminds me of gorgasm.
jcutrell 4 days ago 2 replies      
The fun of programming languages and open source software is, guess what, you can change it. You don't like it? Write an alias in your bashrc.

OSS authors are not held to a standard defined by all of you - they are welcome to express themselves however they want. For instance, my mother would find Brainfuck quite offensive. That doesn't mean the author should change the name.

I think the play on words is quite clever. I also think that if anyone is being marginalized, it is the "bro" - identifying the stereotype and calling out common the stereotypical language habits ("bro ...no").

And now for my personal opinion...If you're worried about the cultural implications of the names of software (rather than things that ACTUALLY marginalize women, like lower average salaries, micro-aggression and objectification, and massive imbalance of gender in the hiring process), then I think you're probably never going to be happy with anything unless it's vanilla. The fine line between comedy and tragedy in the artistic side of programming is often misunderstood, so for now I'm going to go gem install bro.

As a second note, why don't we say things like Homebrew marginalizes the alcoholics or those addicted to coffee? Because that's silly, right? Right. Fight more important fights with the same vigor.

pencilcode 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think it should be sis pages.
be5invis 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is the `get-help <command> -examples` equalivent in Powershell, right?
hibbelig 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sis pages: like bro pages, but with better examples.
dreamfactory2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sticking it to the man
mumbi 4 days ago 3 replies      
Great idea. Never been a fan of the whole bro thing, but I say keep the name. If the women want a 'sister pages', let them make it.
King.com, makers of Candy Crush Saga Trademark Trolls with a Double Standard? junkyardsam.com
509 points by bpierre  5 days ago   217 comments top 36
zyb09 5 days ago 17 replies      
The success of King.com really bothers me. Sure their games are not cheap and made very well, but it seems the whole "game" and all mechanics are just designed to slowly get you hooked and extract money at the most susceptible time. And it's executed almost to the point of perfection.

It's a shame it's working so well, because they are eating the cake in front of a very low confidence game industry. Smartphones are powerful now, yet games that manage to match the quality and depth of an SNES-era game are basically non-existent. After seeing the success of Rovio, Zynga and King, I don't think they will be made sadly. Let's just hope this doesn't affect other platforms as well.

Argorak 5 days ago 3 replies      
By the way, King did not only file trademark for "candy", but also "saga", which turns out to be a problem for "The Banner Saga".


This is especially weird, as "saga" is quite common:


pirateking 5 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who grew up in the Golden Age of video games, this makes me sad. You are no longer the player and the thing in your hand is not the game. The player is the company the game is you.

Maybe it was always like so, and I was young and having too much fun to realize. It really does seem like the idea of painting rich immersive worlds with challenging skills to learn and master has been tossed aside, in favor of simplified Skinner boxes with the minimum required skinning of a game and pay to play. Even more sad is how successful these "games" are. A reflection of the times I suppose - no time for dawdling about reading story or exploring worlds, quick information and quick rewards please, because time is too important to waste.

leafo 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you're a game developer (or just want to make a game) then we're hosting a game jam in protest of their "candy" trademark. Make a game about candy. Check it out: http://thecandyjam.com
res0nat0r 5 days ago 2 replies      
I always thought for the 10 minutes I installed Candy Crush before deleting it, that was a clone of Bejeweled from Pop Cap (and I'm sure that's a clone from somewhere else).
dimman 5 days ago 1 reply      
How about this comparison?

BlockBreaker is a game by a friend of mine:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/block-breaker/id412901690?mt...

It won a best game award 2011 and King offered him a job after that competition. He turned it down though.

King then came out with:Pet Rescue Saga (quick google will give you images of how that one looks)

maaarghk 5 days ago 2 replies      
I hate king.com for the many hours of potential productivity that I have paid them for the privilege of losing. Whenever I talk about how I was stupid for playing Candy Crush I feel like I'm victim blaming.

Anyway, horrible company culture; I don't think they can reasonably expect great success from behaving in this manner.

chenster 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculous! The provisional trademark "Candy" should be refused under Section 2(e)(1) Refusal Merely Descriptive. Simple as that!

"...A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose, or use of an applicants goods and/or services. TMEP 1209.01(b); see, e.g., DuoProSS Meditech Corp. v. Inviro Med. Devices, Ltd., ___ F.3d ___, 103 USPQ2d 1753, 1755 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (quoting In re Oppedahl & Larson LLP, 373 F.3d 1171, 1173, 71 USPQ2d 1370, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2004)); In re Steelbuilding.com, 415 F.3d 1293, 1297, 75 USPQ2d 1420, 1421 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (citing Estate of P.D. Beckwith, Inc. v. Commr of Patents, 252 U.S. 538, 543 (1920))."

King.com must've bribed the trademark officials. Disgusting!

ozh 5 days ago 1 reply      
The main problem here is not that King copies games. Lots of games, few ideas, this has always been the situation. The main problem here is that a company is allowed to trademark a word like "Candy" or "Saga".

Evil company, maybe, retarded laws, very obviously.

waylandsmithers 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to be such a cynic here, but isn't this pretty much standard practice in the mobile gaming space? It seems to be the wild wild west as far as copyright goes.

I remember reading a piece on Zynga maybe a year or two ago that detailed the games that were ripped off (apart from the obvious scramble = boggle, words = scrabble) almost exactly from other existing but much less popular games in the app store.

higherpurpose 5 days ago 2 replies      
It may not be a rule, but why does it seem like the companies who shamelessly steal from others are usually the ones to attack others for infringement when they turn into bigger companies? I remember Zynga being in a similar situation, ripping off other people's games early on, and then attacking others for copying "their" games.

It must be some kind of "organization insecurity", or some kind of "thieves knowing thieves" kind of thing. I actually don't mind seeing companies "being inspired", even more heavily, by other companies' products, but it pisses me off when they do it themselves, too, and then start attacking others for doing it to them.

aaargh 5 days ago 0 replies      
A Double Standard if I ever saw one. Who could have guessed that a company that develops a 'human skinner box' and brands it Candy crush would be evil.

"Pssst.. want some candy? Just give this game a try, there's no reason for fear, we're not evil. Look at the sparkling colors!"

meerita 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm removing right now Candy Crush. Thanks for this post. I hate these ungrateful people.
TeeWEE 5 days ago 1 reply      
Lets boycot them (as if hacker news people are playing their games ;-
rbritton 5 days ago 0 replies      
This article is the first thing on my mind for anything King.com: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RaminShokrizade/20130626/1949...
jamesbrownuhh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly King.com don't end up looking like the good guys here - although as the article does freely admit, "Scamperghost isn't the most original game in the world. It's obviously inspired by Pac-Man" ...

Which rather does bring to mind the supposed conversation between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, where Jobs suggests that Windows has copied the Macintosh, but Gates responds that "I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox..."

No kudos to king.com either way. In cases like these I'm almost inclined to wish that someone would just come up with a really really good "inspired by..." game and release it for free just for the hell of it. (Not terribly good business, admittedly, but you have to admit it would be pretty satisfying. I don't see a "Sugar Crash" in the app store yet...) :)

oneeyedpigeon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Utterly disgusting. Candy Crush deleted.
thepumpkin1979 5 days ago 0 replies      
King is the New Zynga, no surprise there.
AznHisoka 5 days ago 0 replies      
Most businesses and entrepreneurs have a double standard. We complain when someone doesn't answer our help desk call on weekends, yet are determined not to work on weekends ourselves. We complain when an UI of an app we're using in unintuitive, yet when someone complains about your app, you tell them you got lots of bug to address and know about it.
benologist 5 days ago 0 replies      
This was an interesting part of King's history. Years ago back when they were just a skill gaming site they used to license flash games over at FGL.com which spread virally and funnel traffic back to your site from other gaming websites that host the game.

I forget the exact details but some friends of mine made the clone after the originals' licensing deal went to a competing portal at the last minute.

m0skit0 5 days ago 3 replies      
Is this a surprise to anyone? In capitalism, money is the only thing that matters. What do you expect?
erikb 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really see a problem here. You have copyright on the code but not on an idea. I think when Nintendo and the Tetris guys fight smart game developers in making games like Tetris or Super Mario it hurts me as a gamer much more than such kind of copycat.
jgreen10 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see the big deal. No one's making a fuzz about Apple being a trademark. At least Candy is a man-made object.
CmonDev 5 days ago 0 replies      
How embarrassing would it be for a gamedev to be working for them... I hope their best coders will leave.
baldajan 5 days ago 0 replies      
King.com is ridiculous for sure. I do wish someone that has used the word candy in the title of their game before Candy Crush still sells/trades in significant volume. If so, they can still contact the USPTO and have the mark invalidated - process is lengthy, but exists.
TomiHiltunen 5 days ago 2 replies      
To anyone who have played arcade games and flash games decade(s) ago knows that so many games today are pure retries of older games. Just take a look on the games of Rovio and others. One thing that pops in mind is "I've played this game before". Great thing is that they make the good, original idea of the game more enjoyable with better ramification and execution.
davemel37 5 days ago 0 replies      
This shouldn't surprise anybody. It's the very same behavior that drives stealing a game, that drives protecting yourself from being knocked off.
sebastianconcpt 5 days ago 1 reply      
The world has way too many problems to crush time and brainpower down the drain.

I'll never touch this game or games from people with this ethos

donniezazen 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why were they even allowed to trademark a generic word like Candy? Can they ask Websters or Oxford to remove word candy from their dictionaries?
rblstr 5 days ago 0 replies      
King.com have been around forever pretty much copying every game type it could. Bejeweled, Bubble Bobble, Peggle, and tons of board games. I'm not surprised at all. Their games are pretty good clones though.
viach 5 days ago 0 replies      
They should have trademarked Clone Cash instead
robmcm 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was rife in the game industry. Everything's a remix these days anyway.
abjorn 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's not like Candy Crush was original in the first place.
slr555 5 days ago 0 replies      
Best of luck trademarking the word Candy. You can put a TM next to the pope but that does make the cross yours.
wnevets 5 days ago 0 replies      
so did angry birds and most popular mobile games. There were flash trebuchet games years before angry birds with the exact same gameplay
sleepyK 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mobile games have pivoted from being short, fun to play vignettes into honey traps that lure you in and get you hooked to consume your time and/or money.

Every major studio out there makes formulaic bull that basically copies some other schmuck's idea and adds their own "StudioCoin" on top to monetize the game.

Temple Run spawned hundreds of clones, then Candy Crush clones came out and now apparently it's Clash of Clans clones.Everyone from EA to Mobage does this cloning instead of focusing on bringing new ideas to the table.If only they tried to innovate, the crappy studios like King would go out of business.

Indie developers try hard, but it takes a team to make a well rounded game with large scale mass appeal... :/

tl;dr Today's mobile games are time consuming black holes, and once done credible competition comes forth, they're sure sink.

1/9998 = 0.0001 0002 0004 0008 0016 0032 0064 0128 0256.. wolframalpha.com
482 points by rsiqueira  13 hours ago   80 comments top 35
crntaylor 12 hours ago 4 replies      
The pattern will break down once you get past 8192, which is 2^13. That means that the pattern continues for an impressive 52 significant figures (well, it actually breaks down on the 52nd digit, which will be a 3 instead of a 2).

The reason it works is that 9998 = 10^4 - 2. You can expand as

    1 / (10^n - 2) = 1/10^n * 1/(1 - 2/10^n)                   = 1/10^n * (1 + 2/10^n + 2^2 /10^2n + 2^3 /10^3n + ...)
which gives the observed pattern. It breaks down when 2^k has more than n digits, which happens approximately when

    2^k > 10^n   =>   k > n log(10) / log(2)
which comes out to 4 * log(10)/log(2) = 13.28 when n = 4.


Another pattern can be generated from the power series expansion

    x / (1 - x)^2 = x + 2x^2 + 3x^3 + 4x^4 + ...
setting x = 1/10^n gives the infinite series

    1/10^n + 2/10^2n + 3/10^3n + ...
which leads to the neat fact that

    1 / 998001 = 0.000 001 002 003 004 005 006 007...

Another example is the fraction

    1000 / 997002999 = 0.000 001 003 006 010 015 021 ...
which goes through the triangle numbers[0] in its expansion, or

    1 / 998999 = 0.000 001 001 002 003 005 008 013 021 ...
which goes through the Fibonacci numbers[1].


Getting the squares is harder, but you can do it with

    1001000 / 997002999 = 0.001 004 009 016 025 036 049 ...
[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_number

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci_number

huhtenberg 12 hours ago 0 replies      

  1/9998 is  1/(10000-2) is  (1/10000) / (1 - 2/10000)
which is an infinite sum of geometric progression with an initial value of 1/10000 and ratio of 2/10000. In other words,

  x1 = 1/10000;            //  0.0001  x2 = x1 + x1 * 2/10000;  //  0.0001 0002  x3 = x2 + x2 * 2/10000;  //  0.0001 0002 0004 0008  ...

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_progression

antimatter15 11 hours ago 4 replies      
In high school, I was pretty fond of plugging 11^n to get rows of Pascal's triangle. It breaks down at row 5, but inserting 0's in the middle extends it (e.g. 101^n, 1001^n, 10001^n).

11^0             111^1            1 111^2           1 2 111^3          1 3 3 111^4         1 4 6 4 1

Xcelerate 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a generalization for any arithmetic sequence. With first term a0, difference d, and digit "padding" of n, the fraction that will result is:

(a0 + (d - a0)(1/10^n)) / (1 - 1/10^n)^2

For instance the sequence 1, 4, 7, 10, 13...

(1 + (3 - 1)(1/10^2)) / (1 - 1/10^2) = 1.02 / 0.9801 = 3400/3267 = 1.004 007 010 013 016...

For any kind of recursive sequence, you can find its generating function G(x) and then substitute some integer power of 0.1 for x to generate cool decimal expansions like this.

The generating function for the Fibonacci sequence is:

G(x) = x / (1 - x - x^2)

Substituting in 0.001 gives 0.001 / 0.998999 = 0.001 001 002 003 005 008...

Aardwolf 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Is anyone able to do this in hexadecimal?

Wolfram Alpha interprets 1/0x9999998 or 1/0xffffffe correctly as hex input, but still shows the output as decimal approximation, while a hexadecimal approximation would be more useful here. I would be really curious what this thing looks like in other numeric bases.

Unfortunately, the "Other base conversions" section only shows up to 7 or so digits after the point and doesn't allow expanding.

EDIT: found it! I didn't know bc in linux was this awesome!echo "obase=16;ibase=16;scale=1000;1/FFFE" | bc.0001000200040008001000200040008001000200040008001000200040008001000 (....)

madcaptenor 12 hours ago 1 reply      
As people have pointed out:

1/98 = 0.01 02 04 08 16 32 ...

1/998 = 0.001 002 004 008 016 032 064 128 256 ...

but there's also a degenerate case, where you have no 9s at all:

1/8 = 0.1 + 0.02 + 0.004 + 0.0008 + ...

and what's surprising here is that everything adds up and gives you the terminating decimal 0.125 that you were expecting.

dsugarman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
everyone seems to be concerned with the point at which this breaks. You determine this, the size of the denominator gives you the precision you can calculate:

1 / 99998 will return:

0.00001 00002 00004 00008 00016 ....


rsiqueira 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I found other patterns!

  Powers of 3:  1/9997 = 0.0001 0003 0009 0027 0081 ...  Powers of 4:  1/9996 = 0.0001 0004 0016 0064 0256 ...  Powers of 5:  1/9995 = 0.0001 0005 0025 0125 0625 ...
And so on...

neals 12 hours ago 7 replies      
Ok, I hope somebody has a really good logical explanation of this, or maybe even some other awesome examples?
rsiqueira 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Since 1/9998 is a rational number, the result is a repeating decimal. The powers of 2 may sometime repeat its digits? According to according to WolframAlpha, 1/98 repeats after 42 digits. 1/998 repeats after 498 digits. And 1/9998 repeats each 357 digits.
fotoblur 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Amazing but WTF does it mean? Are we living inside a simulation!
dclara 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You are all genius. The first person found it is definitely outstanding. There are so much mathematic magic out there that always made me feel fascinating. I'm amazed by the nature of this world which can be described by math. It's unbelievable. So I made my logo utilizing one of it. http://bit.ly/1gre9Bh
Trufa 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of being bored in high school.
aortega 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't need wolfram if you have unix's bc:

echo "scale=10000;1/999999999999999999999999998" | bc

rsiqueira 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I found this division 1/9998 by chance. I was trying to remember the number from a previous HN discussion, that was 1/998001 = 1.002 003 004 005 006 007...: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3514721
joefkelley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I just put up a blog post covering this and a number of other interesting decimal expansions:



square numbers:1001000000/997002999=1.004009016025036...

explanations and proofs at:http://www.joefkelley.com/?p=635

StevenXC 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's the general formula: (copy everything between angle brackets)

<http://texify.com/?$\frac{1}{10^n-m} = \sum_{i=0}^\infty \frac{m^i}{(10^n)^{i+1}}$>

And here's OP's result where n=4 and m=2:


PhilipTai 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The techniques of constructing such sequences have been studied formally in combinatorics under the name "generating function".


In this case, the sequence 1, 2, 4, ..., 2^n has the generating function,

  g(z) = sum[i = 0 to inf] (2^i * z^i)        = 1 + 2z + 4z^2 + ...        = 1 / (1 - 2z)
Substituting a small number 10^-k, such as z = 0.0001 gives 10000/9998, and then right shifting by dividing 10000 leads to 1/9998.

What more interesting is that some other useful sequences can often be obtained from the function, by operations like differentiation and integration, or adding / multiplying with other functions.

For example:

  2z + (4*2)z^2 + (8*3)z^3 + (16*4)z^4 ...  = d/dz(g(z))  = d/dz(z * 1 / (1 - 2z))  = 2 / (1 - 2z)^2
Put z = 1/10000 = 0.0001, this yields50000000/24990001 = 2. 0008 0024 0064 0160 0384 ...

kachnuv_ocasek 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I gotta be that guy: Why is this the first post on the front page of Hacker News? Is basic arithmetic really so fascinating to the computer people?
huherto 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool.

Can we use WolframAlpha to show why 0.1 cannot be represented as a floating binary?

And why floating numbers shouldn't be used for currency operations.

Navarr 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Breaks at 8,192 of course...
emillon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
(2^i / (10^(5i)) = (2/10^5)^i = 1/(1-(2/10^5)) = 10000/9998

(you get the idea)

Russell91 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Using the sympygamma link also provided today, we can see why this is:http://www.sympygamma.com/input/?i=series%281%2Fx%2C+x%2C+10...

Look at the equation and then plug in (-2) for x

zyrthofar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Way back, I found out that there are an infinity of such patterns. I was really awed by that!


achalkley 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What does this mean?
swayvil 10 hours ago 0 replies      
at about 10^200 decimal places in we found instructions for building an ansible.
crawrey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
HN just turned WolframAlpha into a porn site.
dewiz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Similar nicety on tartaglia's triangle, which represents infinite powers of 11
obfuskater 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Just add more 9's to the divisor to make the pattern work for larger numbers:1/99998 = 0.00001 00002 00004 00008 00016 00032 00064 00128 00256 00512..
yammesicka 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This one is also interesting:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daro6K6mym8
chenster 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Not related, but 12345679 * 8 = 98765432
mamcx 9 hours ago 0 replies      
And this is usefull or simply neat?
sillaroja 7 hours ago 0 replies      
maxima code follows

fpprintprec:100; fpprec:100;s : string(bfloat(1)/bfloat(9998));makelist(substring(s,3+4i,7+4i),i,0,15); [0002, 0004, 0008, 0016, 0032, 0064, 0128, 0256, 0512, 1024, 2048,4096, 8193,broken pattern,6387, 2774, 5549]

LePoneyRouge 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You can add 9 for more digits per power of 2:http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=1%2F99998
How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love wired.com
480 points by daw___  8 days ago   182 comments top 45
crazygringo 8 days ago 13 replies      
It's funny... doing all this 'hacking' to create profiles with awesome match %'s... is pretty pointless. In my personal experience, a match below 80% is a red flag (serious incompatibilities), but above 85% there aren't any big differences.

Like he said, he went on 55 dates, but only three second dates. The 55 dates really isn't too hard to do without the hacking, it's just a question of time. And the "three second dates" means his filter wasn't even that great -- he probably would have done better just simply browsing on the site, and only directly messaging the girls he found interesting in the first place.

But the real interesting thing here is the clustering into 7 types of women -- that's fantastic! I'd love to read more about that -- if he could write it up in a blog, OkTrends-style, I feel like it could get a huge number of hits. I think tons of people, including myself, would be interested in the details, especially if he did it for both men and women.

asnyder 8 days ago 6 replies      
This is a duplicate of https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7098563

Also, here's my .02 re-posted from the comments section:

Rather than answer the questions that were important to him he decided to find a set of people he thought he would like then only answer the questions they care about, and not even the way he would naturally answer them, rather he used an algorithm to determine the weight that would be best to get the highest match %. The fact of the matter is he could've spent a fraction of the time just answering all the questions honestly and with his honest weights and he would've found high matches too. Furthermore, he could've narrowed it down to just the kind of people he wanted through a normal search and then filter their questions based on what's important to them (which is a normal question filter on OkCupid).

So in fact what he did was pretty bad, violates OkCupid's TOS in numerous ways and at the end of the day wasn't honest to himself as he created specific profiles for his targets.

Honestly, we should not be celebrating this.

To recap what he did:

1. Didn't want to answer questions, so let's find all the questions that are important to everybody from the categories of people he thinks he likes based on clustering and then browsing a profile or two of people in that cluster. (He did this by creating numerous fake profiles and having those bots answer all the questions so he could scrape his targets question)

3. Create specific profile for his targeted group. With words and information that he knew they would like.

2. Answer ONLY the set of questions deemed important to those people. He answered these with weights determined by an algorithm that determined the best weight to achieve the highest match% rather than honestly.

3. WIth new found 99% matches go on dates with these people and follow normal dating process.

Now that we see the above broken down we can see that it's really not good. In fact, he was only answering what they wanted, and created profiles for them. But he wasn't being honest with himself or with his answers. If we're trying to match with everyone, which is essentially what he did, it's not that difficult to do. The fact that he eventually found someone is great, but the information used was faulty. Obviously there's no way he would be 99% with that many people normally.

birken 8 days ago 2 replies      
I'll give the guy credit for coming up with a creative idea [1], but for a guy who was overly concerned with efficiency, going on 55 first dates and only 3 second dates strikes me as absolutely insane and a waste of time. It would be similar to having 55 in-person interviews and only making 3 offers. Something is going wrong in the funnel.

I don't see how his system was better than just using the site as it is intended, nor do I think it should be romanticized as much as it is in this article.

[1]: Though it fails the categorical imperative. If everybody did this okcupid would be much worse off.

x0054 7 days ago 0 replies      
Though unrelated to this post in particular, I figured I would post a method of finding dates that worked particularly well for me.

Post a "Blind Date" message in the M4W section of CL. In the message describe your self as honestly as you can, while still being interesting and flattering to yourself. Ask the women to describe themselves to you in the reply. Say one or two interesting things about your self, and what you are looking for. Request that the responding girl does NOT send you a picture, and wait for the messages to roll in :)

I picked up quite a few dates that way, all the girls were beautiful, smart, and very interesting to talk to. Because we weren't a "100%" match, we actually had some different points of view, which lead to fun conversations.

You might think this would lead to you perhaps going out with girls who are not very good looking. First of all, you can have lot's of fun with a girl, even if you are not sexually attracted to her. But in reality, only girls who are very beautiful and confident in their appearance would actually reply to this message.

In any case, it worked great for me. I met lot's of cool girls, and eventually found the love of my life.

hcarvalhoalves 8 days ago 7 replies      
> It was first date number 88. A second date followed, then a third. After two weeks they both suspended their OkCupid accounts.

You know... there's a damn big chance you find someone worth having a relationship after 88 dates. Something tells me his technique was no better than just dating at random.

vellum 8 days ago 0 replies      
There was a woman who did something similar:


ceautery 7 days ago 0 replies      
OkCupid is how my wife and I met. She was one of two women I exchanged messages with, and the only one I met in person. We've been married for 5 years and have had two children.

I have no idea what our match percentage was, and there were a few things in my profile that were turn-offs for her, all of which appeared in my only picture on the site: Me, with a fresh buzz-cut, jogging up a hill with my dog. She's allergic to dogs, doesn't run because of her asthma, and prefers long hair.

All of that was superficial, and she was able to look past it. She engaged me mainly because of the descriptive content in my profile. I just went nuts explaining who I was, in a chatty, stream of consciousness manner.

In the end, I re-homed my dog with her own parents, and let my hair grow to 21", which I started growing out again after we'd been married for a year. That wasn't all her; I had hair that length in high school and chopped it off to help me stay employed.

What's my point? The content matters most. You can optimize your approach to searching for matches, and you can go on lots of dates, but you can't force a good real-world match. If it's there, you'll know. No mathematical model of searching, nor red-pill-esque approach to building self confidence will be more effective than an open exchange of ideas between a couple. Get to the messaging. Give her a chance to be disinterested, because that's a hurdle you'll need to cross at some point in the relationship... assuming, that is, that you're looking for love.

mehkcupid 8 days ago 1 reply      
I did something similar 4 years ago. My OkCupid profile was receiving about 3-10 visits/week from women, and I had only a small handful that I matched 90+% with. I deleted all my answers and answered just the minimum required with complete honesty but zero possibility of controversy. My match % was 95+% with everyone and my inbound views turned into 100+/week.

The match percentage was useless as a filter, but who cares? The new filter was my profile, and women who liked it messaged me.

Within a few weeks I'd been on several dates I'm now married to the last woman I dated from then. She messaged me.

pella 8 days ago 1 reply      
TED: Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating


"Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. The dates she liked didn't write her back, and her own profile attracted crickets (and worse). So, as any fan of data would do: she started making a spreadsheet. Hear the story of how she went on to hack her online dating life -- with frustrating, funny and life-changing results."

a8da6b0c91d 8 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't the whole concept of matching on a bunch of survey questions BS? 90% of attraction is butt-sniffing DNA match stuff you only get in person.
azernik 7 days ago 0 replies      
What's interesting to me is how this guy inverted the gender roles on OkCupid. Normally (says OkTrends data) men take the initiative, and women filter incoming messages. In the later stages of this setup, the guy set up bots to get himself in the "inboxes" (list of profile views) of lots of women, getting enough incoming messages that he could take the normally female role in this online dating dance.
acqq 7 days ago 1 reply      
I am feeling sorry for all the women subjected to all that spam, not only by this guy. And talking about this guy, let's be honest, he was different from other "spam" contacts by implementing a bot-assisted spamming, nothing he should be praised for.

Math genius? More a spambot writer, but not for money, for an advantage.

kqr2 8 days ago 1 reply      
Link to the guy's website:


Also a link to the kindle edition of his analysis:


programminggeek 8 days ago 1 reply      
I think the most interesting part of this is that an algorithm told people they are 99% compatible and that changed their behavior enough to make it easy for them to go on a date. Funny that an artificially high number on a computer screen completely changed people's behavior and perception of the world.
morgante 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's a happy story, and I'm sad to see all the naysayers in this thread. I really don't see what's unethical about his behavior. He never lied about his views and his fiancee knows the whole story.

It seems like a totally rational response to the insanities of online dating. Especially as a guy, you have to message hundreds of women to even get a handful of replies. Through automation, he's equalized the playing field so that, like women, he has the opportunity to filter only amongst those who have already expressed interested in him. No more time/effort wasted on women who never reply.

I actually was working on an automated framework for batch messaging and a/b testing on OKCupid (https://github.com/morgante/abcupid) before realizing I don't have time for a relationship.

ajays 7 days ago 0 replies      
I've dated around on OKC since the early days. His lack of success on first dates points to a problem with him; maybe he was too picky or had some other issues which turned women off. If he was looking for that Hollywood-style instant spark, he was mistaken; that doesn't always happen.

When I was on OKC, about 1 in 20 messages would result in a first date; but you bet that more than 50% of first dates turned into second dates.

When women first meet you, it's almost like they're going through a checklist in their heads: is this guy a creep? A rapist? A jerk? etc. etc. (this is just the impression I got). If you don't trigger any of the alerts, you're golden.

One of the biggest mistakes nerds (like myself) make on their profiles and on dates is that we try to impress the woman with our encyclopedic knowledge of some esoteric subject. That's a sure turnoff.

Maybe we should have an "ask HN" on dating ... :-)

vph 7 days ago 1 reply      
A white guy, tall, decent looking, math professor, rock climber, guitarist. He didn't need to hack OKCupid to end up with an Asian girl of his dream.
klipt 8 days ago 1 reply      
> (I believe most people could find an interesting match even just by randomly selecting 88 people that fit their criteria)

Sure, but it's a lot easier to meet those 88 people if you can get them to message you. For most guys to meet 88 women via OkCupid they'd have to send thousands of messages, which would probably take years.

hs 7 days ago 0 replies      
i did something like it 6-7 years ago with friendster when it got 'who looked at me' new feature then. i scrapped million ids of teenagers to below-age-30 women. my friend list went from below hundred to full 3000 (the max at the time) in a week or two. facebook was not popular in my country (not usa)

the scrapper was written in newlisp (save search result pages with curl, use regex to match and collect the ids). it's probably easier to write in other languages, but that's what i knew.

i used wget and curl to loop over the ids but it's too slow because they download the whole page. later i found out about 'curl -i' (header only) and a million ids was done in about hour or two (i moved my operation from my home's 64kbps to my colo datacenter mbps internet).

my account is no longer exist (probably banned); however, i do still have a screenshot of me having 3000 female-only-friends and 70000 non-hidden-females 'look back at my profile'

initially, i talked to any interesting woman; however, later i made a strict rule to only respond to women who wrote at me. there were just too many fake female-accounts.

i got a couple of dates from this feat; however, i met my wife in a traditional catholic youth retreat. when i let her know about this friendster thingy, she just laughed. now i'm happily married with a 15-months-old boy.

llasram 7 days ago 1 reply      
At least one useful take-away: k-modes clustering. I initially thought it was a typo/miscommunication, but the soybean reference seemed bizarrely specific. It apparently actually exists, and is an extension of k-means to categorical data, using Hamming distance instead of Euclidean distance.
S4M 7 days ago 1 reply      
What I take from this article:- OkCupid is good for finding a one night stand- their matching algorithm could be improved

Disclaimer: I'm married and never used OkCupid or any dating site.

Paul12345534 8 days ago 1 reply      
Once upon a time, I was seeking a Filipina gf. At the time, DateInAsia didn't have any good search interface but it was a good place to meet people if you weeded out the scammers.

I was looking for very specific things (Catholic, educated, no kids, 25 or older, etc). I scrapped (slowly) the site content and threw all the fields in a database so I could query it locally :)

I filled out my profile as complete as possible about myself and who I was looking for. DateInAsia lets people know when you viewed their profile... so my Python script automatically viewed all the profiles that matched my search queries. Many of them viewed my profile in return and those who were interested messaged me. I met some nice ladies that way but it turned out to be a Filipina lady I met in an unrelated chatroom who I fell in love with.

My own more humble attempt at mixing geekdom with love :) but love comes in unexpected places not ruled by math

thrush 8 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone, this is a pivotal moment. This is when online dating becomes like the trading algorithms of the stock market.

You could even say that the stock exchange is like a dating site but for investors.

EGreg 7 days ago 0 replies      
There are other ways to hack dating sites that use other means completely.

Have several friends on the site, all with their real profiles. When you like a girl, have a friend with the most compatibility message her, and introduce you two. If such a "cool" guy vouches for you, how great must you be? She is intrigued. She hasnt gotten messages like this. And you go out w her. Not only that but you start w a warm introduction and something to talk about.

And if she doesn't respond to him, you can message her yourself, and bam - double your chances.

fatjokes 8 days ago 0 replies      
If only one out of 55 first dates ended up in a 3rd date, sorry buddy, sounds like he may be the problem, not his profile.
socrates1998 8 days ago 0 replies      
I applaud his effort, but that is not a very good % of second dates. I say his problem wasn't his process, it was his ability to get/want a second date.

I am glad it worked out for him, but I would recommend people to just focus on connecting with people when they are on a first date rather than worry about if they are a "match".

lazyant 7 days ago 0 replies      
"McKinlay had popped up in her search for 6-foot guys with blue eyes", I'm completely out of touch with dating but is it normal or accepted nowadays to search for narrow physical attributes? to me this is an example of shallowness.
marincounty 7 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't imagine 55 "What do you do?"--Ugh. I look back at all the women whom I would drop everything for and marry,and there was just one; I met her on fourth street, and regret not saying yes to a request in 2007. She had beautiful green eyes and dirty cuticles(don't ask). I hope you are doing well, and I have always felt bad for not doingmore(I did refer to Mills Street). I couldn't do more because I was a pussy at the time. I still think about you and hope you are doing well. She was beautiful on the outside and inside. She was not jaded, and seemed like her own version of "Zooey and Fran" with Sylvia Plath mixed in?
CmonDev 7 days ago 0 replies      
I am confused, what is English for an 'actual genius' these days?
auctiontheory 8 days ago 0 replies      
I appreciate (admire) his ingenuity, although even at a distance I can see two or three problems with the actual relationship.
BornInTheUSSR 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling that approach is no better when compared with going on dates with a random sample of 88 women (within some range of compatible age/attractiveness), but I don't have the data to prove it.
fjabre 7 days ago 0 replies      
It might be nice if people put down their dating apps for a little while and went out into the actual physical world to meet people by chance i.e. at line in a Starbucks, on a flight back home, or dare I say it: a bar - preferably during happy hour. Level of attraction in these real world situations is instantly assessed and doesn't take days or weeks of back & forth messaging before even meeting up.

Also, anecdotally I believe men far outnumber women on these sites so that clearly skews the ratio in women's favor which means by law of supply and demand women choose on these sites and not men in most cases. I've gone on dates with women I met online and many of them told me it was not uncommon for them to receive hundreds of messages a day and here we have a brilliant PhD student happy with 20. Just sayin

chalgo 7 days ago 0 replies      
He would have had better luck finding a partner by getting away from the computer, sleeping in a real bed, improving his lifestyle and learning to be a better conversationalist. Sounds like he was a recluse "Sleeping at his computer cubicle" and spending no time actually going out and enjoying life.
ben010783 7 days ago 0 replies      
> McKinlay had popped up in her search for 6-foot guys with blue eyes near UCLA...

I find it interesting that he did so much analysis based on interests, beliefs, etc. and he ended up getting messaged because of a search that was pretty superficial.

abus 7 days ago 0 replies      
How about meeting people from the site at random and then finding patterns in the answered questions of the ones you liked?
underlines 6 days ago 0 replies      
TED Talk: Amy Webb - How I hacked online datinghttp://www.ted.com/talks/amy_webb_how_i_hacked_online_dating...
jsnk 8 days ago 0 replies      
Yes it does. That's why his bots were getting banned.
wat0 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wasn't there a ted talk by a Jewish woman who did this already?

Edit:yes Amy Webb ted talk http://tinyurl.com/ktrb2f4

abhi3188 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I wish he open sources his scraping script and algos.
bwhmather 7 days ago 0 replies      
Mandatory link to http://blog.okcupid.com/Less story, more analysis.
acd 7 days ago 0 replies      
I think that was a really cool hack and nerdy as hell :).
simik 7 days ago 0 replies      
They should make a movie out of it.
kimonos 8 days ago 0 replies      
True love sometimes comes unexpectedly! Best wishes to this couple!
Noelkd 7 days ago 0 replies      
Is this legal?
quenlinlom 7 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone think that this is really creepy?

I mean, men using dating sites like OkCupid are mostly creepy people already, but actually writing programs to automate stuff on OkCupid?

That's basically fulfilling the prophecy that men are just in for the sex.

Revolution in Kiev zyalt.livejournal.com
475 points by eigenvector  3 days ago   363 comments top 43
hooande 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is an amazingly low tech revolution. The primary weapons of the protestors are: smoke, flammable liquid, rocks, shields and giant slingshots. These tools could have been used in the Peloponeasian War as easily as in 2014. It really says something about the character of the revolutionaries that they are willing to fight without modern weapons or equipment. I don't know enough about the Urkaine to asses the merit of their politics, but I am inclined to side with the group that has old women and children pitching in to help with logistics. There aren't just criminals and malcontents. Right or wrong, these people feel strongly about their cause.

The courage these activists are showing is going to do a lot to help accomplish their political goals. Every day that they hold out will increase the volume of their message. When I originally heard about this I thought it was more of a violent uprising. But the protestors are fighting with fireworks and laser pointers. This kind of aggressive non-violence will play better in the media once more people learn about the details. If the number of casualties remains low this could turn into an Eastern European Tahrir Square, with hopefully positive benefits for the whole region.

IgorPartola 3 days ago 8 replies      
Man, the amount of disdain people have for protesters in the comments to this story is really shocking. I do not exactly understand where it's coming from. Yanukovych is a corrupt petty thief and rapist, turned politician, who has very close ties with Russia, and is stealing from the Ukrainian people through corruption. He rigged an election in 2004 and only massive riots prevented him from coming into power then by forcing a new vote. In any civilized country any of these individual issues would have prevented him from being eligible to be president.

The basic political problem in Ukraine is that Russia still has lots of influence over it, and Russia sees it as its territory separated temporarily after the breakup of the USSR. Ukraine is dependent on Russia for things like natural gas, and thus cannot simply break away from the abusive relationship. Russia naturally has an interest in having a political puppet in power in Ukraine. Who better to do this than a convicted felon like Yanukovych? This is how the riots started this time around: to protest the sudden pro-Russian turn of the Yanukovych administration.

Ukraine has for some time now faced the tough choice: continue its abusive but familiar relationship with Russia or turn to Europe and risk everything to try to build a new relationship with the EU? IMO, until Ukraine grows a spine and does what's best for its people long term, it will continue getting into situations like this. Yanukovych, while completely corrupt, is not the ultimate evil. He is a lackey that will be replaced if he is ousted. The real issue here is Russia.

rosser 3 days ago 4 replies      
I feel like this kind of thing (the various Arab Spring uprisings, the Ukrainian revolution, &c) is very well served by the cacophony of amateur/citizen journalism that flows out of an individual event.

Sure, at the time, it's incredibly noisy, because there's so much primary source material being created, with such incredible depth and nuance. Once people start to be able to assemble a comprehensive understanding of what actually went down, however, it tends more accurately to reflect the reality of events, and makes it much harder for spin and propaganda to dictate the narrative. That's, I think, the ultimate goal of democratizing media.

But I'm also notoriously an optimist about this kind of thing, so, you know: cup of salt, please take with.

Mikeb85 3 days ago 11 replies      
The reality distortion field the protesters have formed is impressive. They've completely overshadowed a few key points:

- The Yanukovych government offered a power-sharing agreement with the opposition, offering Yatsenyuk the PM position and Klitschko the deputy PM job, which the opposition rejected: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-oppositions-rejects-vik...

- The fascist element - one of the opposition leaders, Oleh Tyahnybok, leads a fascist party (Svoboda) and has openly spread anti-Semitic rhetoric, and aligned itself with extremist groups. Fairly common knowledge to anyone in the know... You can see the fascist and neo-nazi symbols on many of the protesters. http://en.ria.ru/images/18519/41/185194148.jpg The flags with 3 fingers are Svoboda's symbol, the red and black ones are UPA flags, which are the symbol of a group that collaborated with the Nazis, and are used by fascist groups in Ukraine.

- The protesters have been the most violent force during the protests. In what country do police stand by when Molotov cocktails and fireworks are fired at them? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h22oHs3eiLg

- And finally, Yanukovych was not only democratically elected, but because of the split amongst the opposition factions, the PoR will likely win any election that is devoid of outside interference... After the 'Orange Revolution' the opposition united with Yushchenko, now there's 3 large opposition groups (Fatherland, 'Punch', and Svoboda). Considering half the country firmly supports the Party of Regions, the opposition are unlikely to win anything.

Edit - more fascist imagery at the protests: http://gwplondon.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/kiev-maidan1.jp... http://gwplondon.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/kiev-maidan2.jp...

Edit2 - the Svoboda/Oleh Tyahnybok fascist/anti-Semitic connection:



These are the words of Oleh Tyahnybok: "They did not fear, but took up their automatic rifles, going into the woods to fight Muscovites, Germans, Jewry and other filth which wanted to take away our Ukrainian nationhood. Its time to give Ukraine to the Ukrainians. Like them, you are most feared by the Moscow-Jewish mafia which today runs Ukraine"


dombili 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for the post.

I'm from Istanbul and I can relate to what Ukrainians are going through, even though the situation in Kiev looks a lot tougher. Reading this post made me happy in a weird way I can not explain. I sort of re-lived what we had gone through. The similarities between the two protests are really uncanny. The way people help one another, the way they communicate, how unselfish everyone become, it's really amazing to see. Seeing that gives you so much hope about the future, you don't mind the shitty situation you're in. It's really hard to put that feeling into words, you just have to live it.

Speaking of similarities, even the way police forces act is the same. Civilian police in Turkey infiltrated among protesters and used molotov cocktails while their colleagues took photos of them and they distributed that stuff to the media to make the protesters look bad. They watched hospitals so that protesters would be afraid to get medical help. Our PM also met with protesters just to save face. Hell, even the name of the pro government channel is the same (This was mentioned on the 70th photo. Turkish channel with the same name: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTV_%28Turkey%29).

People and their willingness to revolt against unlawfulness triumphs anything. I have the utmost respect for people who're fighting for their rights and I have no doubt that Ukraine will be a better country once things settled. Best of luck.

jwr 3 days ago 5 replies      
Did anyone else notice how refreshing this kind of reporting feels after being used to what the mainstream media feeds us?

This story is low-key, trying to present all aspects, trying to stay objective -- it's been a long time since I read something like this from a journalist.

nate_meurer 3 days ago 2 replies      
The photography here is absolutely incredible.

This situation is really frightening to me. I so hope that the Ukraine can get out from underneath her oppressors (yes I mean Yanukovitch and Putin) without descending any further into chaos.

sillysaurus2 3 days ago 5 replies      
A protester in Kiev did an IAmA on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1w17qn/iama_protestor_...

According to him, "Russia is trying to keep all the former Soviet Union satellite countries under control, and that is the root cause of the rioting."

memracom 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just remember that everything you read/see about Ukraine is propaganda published by someone who is trying to get you to agree with their point of view. They are careful to select their photos to not show the things that they don't want you to know about. For instance, these photos careful do not show the neo-nazi far right groups, the people with handguns, or the police being hit by flaming molotov cocktails or wounded by fireworks.

Of course the other side similarly delivers an edited message.

But the bottom line is that none of this is democracy. Whatever it is, it has to end sometime so that all the groups of people who live in Ukraine can sit down, discuss their differences, find compromises and live in peace. Only then will Ukraine really be a nation. Until then it is just a corner of the Soviet Union that has failed to catch up with the modern world.

mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 4 replies      
Reading stuff like this is a wonderful way to remind me how naive and easy to manipulate people generally are.
tsurantino 3 days ago 1 reply      
One thing really stood out to me about this protest, and that is how isolated and targeted it is against government. The writer mentioned how no shopkeepers are affected, and that protesting is specifically barricaded around the government district.

Irrespective of the violence and damage taking place, that there is no collateral means that we can't detract from the focus of the issue.

girvo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. That photography is mind blowing, as is the entire situation. I hope the small number of casualties remains low as it has. Also, props to them for not looting the businesses on the front line, usually that seems to be what happens! But this seems different, somehow.
vitalique 3 days ago 1 reply      
Two things that especially amaze about the actual 'street part' of Ukrainian revolution are complete absence of plundering or looting of local shops and that no firearms have been used by protesters.
random123455 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would like to point to another perspective on what is happening. Like most, i hope, i try to make my views fit to the events that have/are happening rather than them being defined by my views. It seems that the protestors have no other clear goal in mind except joining the EU, this is very hard for a country like Ukraine where many people daily cross the border on their way to work, what happens to them does not concern the protestors. I wonder if there are Russians living in the west part of Ukraine, how violently would the protestors deal with them. Because it seems that the protestors are driven by their hatred towards not-signing the deal with Russia instead of EU. Also the current government of Ukraine has support, it is not like the whole of Ukraine has risen against it. But it is interesting that the ones who did in their lines have nazi supporters. Still one thing is clear, Russia EVIL/BAD, EU GOOD.Since these protestors are a bit on the violent side, what would happen to a Russian or an Ukrainian who supports the government in the protestors control area? They would probably feel their hatred on their own bodies.This is not the first time that something like this is happening.And the EU/USA always support the more radical parts of the society(with media, weapon support etc..) often leading to ethnic cleansing, and suppression of rights of some group of people. As in case with many countries where the west supported someone. Iraq, the radicals are taking how many lives per year? Libya, how many are suffering now since the intervention? Turkey and Kurds.Syria, somehow the people who eat their enemies hearts got supported by the USA/UK/GERMANY/TURKEY etc, and then they did not go in because of being outsmarted by the Chinese and Russians, but somehow the media already twisted it to seem that USA did not go to war because of Obama. The nations that have lived under sanctions placed by your politicians, under governments who pushed for your interests and promised growth and progress... The only thing that grows is the hatred.If EU really practices what it speak, as it obviously does not, and neither once are/were part of societies supported by the west tolerant towards their fellow human,even if many years have passed. Are the 'evil' that had to be fought against. One only needs to check on the rights of Serbs who are outside their ghettos our country. Who do not even have the right for their written language.

The only thing EU needs is workforce, destroy Ukraine so they can get more workforce/consumers who are capable of sustaining their own economy.Some mention Baltic states as progress, because russians come and buy there since it is cheaper. But if it really helped so much, why did you lose so much of your population because of immigration to EU, is life hard but you have option to get away? Is your economy not working? At least you have cheaper products because yours were not protected by your politicians and had to close down because they can not compete?

It seems that one more part of society who are driven by hatred is supported by the civilized and superior leaders of the world to who we should look up to. I wonder when will they start directing their hatred on Russians/Ukrainians who do not support their views?

Also, because of immigration in EU how much time do you have before the radical parts of your societies collide inside your home countries?

Divide and conquer.

znowi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ukraine has been historically divided into pro-West Ukraine in the west and pro-Russia Ukraine in the east. I think the only peaceful resolution to this conflict is having two independent states.
altero 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if somebody actually read EU treaty (reason for all this protests). Signing it would pretty much kill industry and criple agriculture at Ukraine.
solyanyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
The comments here are truly amazing!

People who never had to protect their constitutional freedoms or human rights against a real, brutal, force, who were simply lucky enough to be born in places with long and established traditions of democracy (something their ancestors actually did have to struggle for), smugly judging people who risk their lives standing up for their values in place where human rights meant nothing for centuries."OMG people are so easy to manipulate", "This smoke is damn unpleasant, is it really necessary?", "Can't they just talk to each other like normal people"...


tiatia 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are two forces clashing. US supported groups (That basically want Ukraine to be part of the EU) and Pro Russian groups (supported by good ol' Putin). Let's hope it all ends well.

This is the Bozo who thought it all up:http://www.amazon.com/The-Grand-Chessboard-Geostrategic-Impe...

desireco42 3 days ago 7 replies      
Stunning photography.

What I see here is large scale destruction of presumably their city by it's citizens. I don't see how anything good can come out of mass hysteria and destruction.

Edit... I don't believe for a moment and based on numerous other reports in the media, that assertions about peacefulness of this protest are true or represent anything but something that poster would like to be. Doesn't sound likely and no-one else is reporting it, so most likely is wishful thinking.

ok_craig 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best quote: "war is war, but everyone needs to updates pics in social networks"
menato 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just for comparison: alternative photo set of same Kiev in the same time: http://tema.livejournal.com/1589937.html

Photography is a great thing: with a proper selection one could change opinion of viewer pretty strong.

dodyg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Greetings from Cairo. I will you all good luck in Ukraine, especially in Maidan Sq.
twobits 3 days ago 0 replies      
All these "revolutions", are foreign secret agencies' creations.

..Downvote all you want, and ask for impossible to find evidence. Just read history.

kolev 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am sorry, but this isn't a revolution! The protesters are a minority. Democracy works differently - at least there are free elections in Ukraine! Joining the EU or not should be decided by a referendum, not by a few criminals destroying the the city and turning it into a shithole! I only wonder why Europe is excited to welcome barbarians and neo-nazis who beat up and set police officers on fire! Well, it's easy to play a man when you know the police officers are ordered not to carry guns and not to respond to provocations! Also, a lot of people don't know that George Soros is fueling this along with the US - they don't even shy away of hiding this fact! The video with the arrested naked guy that has circulated also hides an important detail - the guy poured flammable liquid on himself and wanted to set himself on fire, yet, the journos are saving these details and only let you see what works best for them! I am really disgusted by seeing this shortly after Syria, where the US is, again and again, on the wrong side! Why didn't the US condemned Turkey's actions against the protesters there? Well, Turkey is an ally! Why isn't US condemning the way gay people are treated in Saudi Arabia? Well, Saudi Arabia is an ally! Yeah, make a boxer a president, and good luck, Ukraine! Or good luck joining the sinking ship of the EU! When Euroscepticism is becoming more stronger of a movement by every day passing and some are considering leaving the EU, others want to join! Again, good luck!
koshak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very sorry that our slavic neighbours behave so badly. It is not a revolution, it's the rampage of anarchy and laziness.Just another approval of the 95% rule. Ukraine has no strong elite. People who come to power are just short-sighted beggars. They see the golden antelope and ask her for gold, more gold[1]. And finish like the greedy raja. That's obvious and predictable.

It's the greatest diplomatic failure to push dumb poor people to power. Hi there, western polittechnology! Look at Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Ukraine(so-called "orange revo" in 2004 and now - just the same) Promote quasi-democracy and push the weak leader to power. You'll get unstabilized entity, unable to produce any decent products or services and... just.. repeat when it seems to get a little stronger than needed?!

If you want a real success story, read the fucking history of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_RevolutionWell that's the real deal.Just this for instance: "The Russian Empire, which had withdrawn from the war in 1917 after the October Revolution, lost much of its western frontier as the newly independent nations of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland were carved from it. Romania took control of Bessarabia in April 1918."

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWsP71Odht4

Oculus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been thinking about this all day. How could we, as hackers, build tools that allow for such activist groups to organize online, but yet keep these plans safe from the government?
_random_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is not a revolution. The political type of society is not going to change. The rioters are not supported by the population.
KaiserPro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whats interesting is that this view seems to tally fairly well with BBC's world service's view.
antonmks 3 days ago 0 replies      
More videos : government building takeover in Vinnitsa, Ukraine : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi_B637FCDY
fromdoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here in India, we have also witnessed a series of street agitations against a corrupt political system that runs most of the country.

Though, It hasn't crossed the line, yet, and turned into violent protests like Kiev.

There are many things which have happened in the 21st century, but the rise of frequent civilian protests around the world is certainly the one that stands out. I am not a student of history, but this is the first time I am becoming more and more aware of such restlessness in the citizens of the world.

I guess, this is a kind of cycle. Political systems rise, become stable and stay for some time and then slowly the rot begins, which when reaches a certain tipping point, forces the masses to rise to make correction and then the cycles repeats.

The only difference being the timeline of the cycle, which seems to differ from region to region and from country to country.

I am sure there must be some literature/research dedicated to this phenomena.

PavlovsCat 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of things and links here:http://www.reddit.com/r/ukraine/

A fixed cam view of a part of maidan, online 24/7 so far:http://www.ustream.tv/channel/euromajdan/pop-out

and last, but not least:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/press-club <- the live coverage is spotty, but do look for "olya" in the sidebar (you have to click "more" for them to show up) for some guided tours around maidan and interviews with protesters by an english speaking journalist. Highly recommended.

There are of course many more feeds and videos, but you will find them all in the above subreddit (in /r/europe and /r/worldnews, too)

TerraHertz 3 days ago 0 replies      
A couple more links from a Ukrainian lady I greatly respect.http://www.elenafilatova.com/http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/maydan/maydan....

Who remembers 'Chernobyl Gal? The biker who takes solitary rides through the Chernobyl closed zone, and publishes photo journals of them. These are her sites.

From an entirely different angle, there's probably a lot of truth in this person's comments too:http://www.barnhardt.biz/2014/01/23/ukraine-you-better-pay-a...

higherpurpose 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy

You'd think oppressive leaders would learn that lesson by now. But no, it seems we're more likely doomed to repeat it in cycles, over and over again. I wonder what those politicians who come up with the idea of "hey, let's make protesting virtually impossible. That will all our problems!".

They need to understand that protesting is that an effect of a cause. If the cause isn't fixed, those issues and frustrations the people have won't just go away. They will build up, until they explode.

washedup 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have no idea what is going on in Kiev, but these images are amazing.
DonGateley 2 days ago 0 replies      
The age of the fighters is truly impressive. In the U.S. it would be kids.

That makes it look a whole lot more serious to me.

kulesh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Vote it up on Reddit (I am not the one who posted the link over there, of course). http://www.reddit.com/submit?url=http%3A%2F%2Fzyalt.livejour...
PavlovsCat 3 days ago 0 replies      

> When darkness falls on Kyiv, unidentified groups of people in civilian clothes roam the city, hunting for the young people, especially those who wear the symbols of the Maidan or the European Union. They kidnap them and take them out into forests, where they are stripped and tortured in fiercely cold weather. For some strange reason the victims of such actions are overwhelmingly young artists: actors, painters, poets. One feels that some strange death squadrons have been released in the country with an assignment to wipe out all that is best in it.

And while the upvotes for the story climb, the story itself drops slowly but surely off the front page, because a killswitch has been toggled, because "HN is not for politics", not even a revolution with unprecedented live coverage on the internet. i.e. a new development.

When some guy in the tech scene -- not an engineer or hacker or anything, a marketing guy for a tech firm -- dies, the story being completely unrelated to technology, that's okay, the discussion may take it's course, going off a billion tangents because otherwise there would be nothing to talk about. He's "one of us", after all. Are those young people not also of us? Is one single frontpage slot, out of thirty, too much to ask, for people to discuss and share information?


epicureanideal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the translation!
shangxiao 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading this to the tune of Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World
f_salmon 3 days ago 0 replies      
How well are these events being reported in the media (US), in your view?
mxpxrocks10 3 days ago 0 replies      
pretty nuts! thanks for posting!!
2014 Gates Annual Letter: Myths that block progress for the poor gatesfoundation.org
468 points by pyduan  8 days ago   306 comments top 31
crazygringo 8 days ago 10 replies      
It's an excellent piece. I'll admit to being a bit confused by the assertion, however:

> "letting children die now so they dont starve laterdoesnt actually work, thank goodness. It may be counterintuitive, but the countries with the most deaths have among the fastest-growing populations in the world. This is because the women in these countries tend to have the most births, too."

I spent five months in Kenya, and a couple weeks with the Samburu tribe during a drought. All their animals were dead, piled up, because there were no more leaves to eat. We were driving a caravan of food to distribute in the region, since otherwise the people would have been next. And the dilemma was explained to me clearly: we can't just let people die. But it means we have to send food aid all the time now, unlike decades ago, because the population is simply larger than the land can support, except in its best years, and it makes the people essentially permanently dependent on outside aid.

So I'll admit to being stumped by what Melinda Gates means when she says that overpopulation isn't the result of aid. Simply asserting that "countries with the most deaths have among the fastest-growing populations in the world" doesn't explain anything -- it's just a correlation, and might very well be due to the fact that such countries already receive the most food aid, for example.

I'm certainly not arguing that I am against, or that anyone should be against, food aid. But I am utterly unconvinced by Melissa Gates saying that "saving lives leads to overpopulation" is a myth -- she doesn't substantiate it, and it seems like the weakest part of the whole post. It all depends on how you define overpopulation, but I just don't see it yet. Of course, rising income and education lowers birth rates in the future, but that doesn't change the simple fact that, at low levels of income and education, more food aid directly results in more people, which is often more than traditional local practices and agriculture can reliably and sustainably support.

mikeash 8 days ago 5 replies      
This is a fascinating letter that helps combat some of the "doom and gloom" that's so prevalent in... well, everything.

I kept coming back to one thought while reading this: why are people so mistaken about Africa in particular? The article covers misconceptions all over the place, but it keeps coming back to Africa, and it seems that the disparity between what people think and what's actually the case is far larger there than anywhere else.

It would be easy to blame this on casual racism and move on. And I'm sure that's a factor. But there must be more.

I wonder if there might just be a cliff effect in people's perceptions. The perception of China, for example, changed rapidly from "shithole" to "where all our stuff is made". India quickly switched from "shithole" to "where our IT gets outsourced". (And reminder, I'm talking about perceptions here, specifically in the US, or possibly the western world as a whole.) I wasn't around for it, but I have the impression that more or less the same thing happened for e.g. Taiwan and Japan.

If that's the case, then Africa is still in the "shithole" perception category simply because we don't see much of them. Not much of our stuff comes with a "Made in Kenya" label on it, and our experience with IT-related outsourcing to Africa is mostly limited to Nigerian scammers. Once that changes, the perception will rapidly go from "those guys have no food" to "those guys are taking all of our jobs".

A counterpoint would be South America, which is not overall perceived as "shithole" but nor is it a place we interact with a whole lot.

Perhaps it's just mental inertia. The places that are changing most rapidly will be the most incorrectly perceived.

spodek 8 days ago 16 replies      
His third point, "Saving lives leads to overpopulation," is a weird straw man. I've never heard of anyone ever suggesting letting suffering children die as some way to keep the population low. He brings up Malthus as another straw man.

I'm not sure the point he's trying to make. To stop people from stopping people from saving people's lives? I think he's trying to suggest that the planet has too many people on it but that shouldn't stop us from saving people's lives. I know a lot of people who consider the planet overpopulated and I've never heard of anyone suggesting letting babies die would help, let alone consider it remotely human.

He seems to conclude educating women and making birth control available helps most. Why not just make that point? I feel like he's trying to imply those who disagree with him or agree with Malthus are tantamount to baby-killers.

On another (lighter) note, since dromedaries are camels too, calling the "camel world" a "bactrian world" would be more clear. The fun mnemonic for camel names is that the Dromedary has one hump and the Bactrian has two, like the first letters of their names, 'D' and 'B', turned sideways.

EDIT: Moreover, these statements are at odds, or at least need more explanation to connect them.

"It may be counterintuitive, but the countries with the most deaths have among the fastest-growing populations in the world. This is because the women in these countries tend to have the most births, too."


"Human beings are not machines. We dont reproduce mindlessly. We make decisions based on the circumstances we face."

The first point suggests people have extra babies in anticipation of some of them dying before adulthood. The second implies they would target a certain number to reach adulthood, which would not itself lead to overpopulation. What would lead to overpopulation on a broad scale would be individuals benefiting from more children than the planet would, which is more like a tragedy of the commons.

If people decide based on circumstances, then they wouldn't have too many children for whatever their values decide, independent of child mortality. They'd have the right number. If they are having the right number for themselves, then food and medicine wouldn't affect their target number of children.

Bringing up food and medicine is a red herring. There may be a myth (which they don't establish), but it's irrelevant to the point made in that section: increase education and birth control. It confuses unrelated issues and paints people concerned with population as ignorant and cruel.

It's not clear to me where their logic suggests I should contribute resources. Should I favor food causes over education causes, the other way around, a mix, or neither?

dredmorbius 8 days ago 1 reply      
There are multiple problems with Gates's predition, but two of the biggest are these:1. Growth in real economic wealth is very strongly tied to growth in real resource consumption. The master resource is energy, but numerous other resources are in tight supply, with a critical set being "bauxite whose production peaked in 1943), copper (1998), iron ore (1951), magnesium (1966), phosphate rock (1980), potash (1967), rare earth metals (1984), tin (1945), titanium (1964), and zinc (1969)" (from Richard Heinberg's The End of Growth[1])

I've explored the concept of decoupling in greater length using Wolfram+Alpha data to show the relationship between energy use and GDP for the G8 nations plus China, India, and Brazil, as well as global growth, in the periods of 2000 - 2010, 1990 - 2012, and 1980-2012 (not all data available for all periods, though the 2000 - 2010 data are complete for all nations analyzed). While there's some sign of very weak decoupling of energy and GDP growth, principally in Japan and the USA, for global GDP growth, there's a very strong relationship between GDP and energy usage, and both have been increasing. With limited exceptions, global per capita energy use has also been increasing.


As I write this, I'm listening to a news story that the IEA has announced that US oil consumption, flat for years, is up 2%


2. The second major problem is that the so-called Demographic Transition which Gates and Hans Rosling like to trumpet is little more than a largely unexplained phenomenon observed in some but not all data series. Tom "Do the Math" Murphy, UCSD physics professor, has specifically looked at this with regards to oil states, and makes the observation that "surplus energy makes babies"[2]. This is significant for two reasons: it means that the demographic transition isn't being observed in all countries, and it means that population growth, and hence domestic energy consumption growth, is highest in the major oil exporting nations. Growing domestic consumption means reduced availability of energy for export markets -- a phenomenon known as the "export lands model". Other research suggests that the causality link between development rates and birth rates is less clear than popularly portrayed[3].

I could bore (or terrify) you with numerous other challenges: flat or falling agricultural productivity, EROEI deficiencies in virtually every non-fossil energy alternative, pandemics risks. There's a reason I don't get invited to parties much .... But I think these two will do.While I have respect for some of Bill Gates's work (and I'm by no means an uncritical fan of his), his optimism here seems misplaced and founded on a very incomplete portrayal of the situation.



1. Sources: http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/ and http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/597/2/

2. "The Real Population Problem" http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2013/09/the-real-populat...

3. "Revisiting demographic transition: correlation and causation in the rate of development and fertility decline." http://www.iussp.org/sites/default/files/event_call_for_pape...

Symmetry 8 days ago 0 replies      
The Gates are quite correct that we shouldn't ordinarily worry too much if some of the aid is siphoned off into government corruption. But while if 2% of the money goes into the creation of some official's new manor that isn't too bad, there are much worse things that money can go to.

In the Great Lakes Crisis[1] the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda were charging aid organizations for access to the the refugees they controlled. They were using the money to try to buy enough weapons to re-conquer Rwanda and finish what they had started. Most private aid organizations wisely decided they weren't willing to pay the genocidaires off, but the UN was willing to and the army of the new Rwandan government ended up invading to stop them, touching off the Congolese civil war.

Paying for access to refugees can also turn refugees into a de-facto lootable resource that can help sustain conflicts the same way that diamonds can.

Corruption in stable states isn't a huge problem for aid (development is another story), but it's interactions with aid are much worse in unstable areas.


hawkharris 8 days ago 6 replies      
The United States' news coverage concerning Africa perpetuates these myths.

It seems as if 95% of news stories focus on poverty, war and chaos in the continent. They rarely go so far as to differentiate among countries.

In fact, many African nations are great centers for innovation. Kenya and Nigeria spring to mind for higher education and mobile computing.

As a way of confronting condescending stereotypes, I have often fantasized about organizing a group of Nigerian school children to "help build a school somewhere in America" a twist on the cliche trip that many U.S. students take to Africa because education in some Nigerian cities is far superior to most U.S. high schools.

dragonwriter 8 days ago 3 replies      
I've been to Mexico City fairly recently, and I guarantee that in the right places -- possibly the same place the 1986 picture was taken -- you could take something very much like that 1986 picture today (which is perhaps even more tragic today, since its not just after the major earthquake). And I've seen Mexico City pictures just like that 2011 one, barring changes in fashion, from the 1980s. And even the 1960s.

On a bigger problem with Myth 1, not only are the pictures distortion, so is the main set of economic claims supporting the myth thesis they are meant to illustrate. Gates makes claims about "per person income", but the statistic he uses and treats as if it meant that is actually GDP per capita. Because much of the value of goods produced in developing countries is captured by foreign capital holders owning the firms doing the production, and because all that value extracted from the country's economy still shows up as part of the GDP of the country it is extracted from, GDP per capita, particularly in the developed world, is often very different than income per person.

kilroy123 8 days ago 0 replies      
In regards to "people believe the world is getting worse", is mostly Americans and the US media. I believe things are getting worse, or at least harder for the majority of Americans; not the rest of the world.

Unemployment, large disparity in wealth, massive problems with debt (student debt), and highly dysfunctional political system. Americans see things as getting worse, here at home. We don't really focus on the rest of the world.

sdegutis 8 days ago 16 replies      
"Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world."

I suppose I'm one of the 0% (rounded) who disagree with putting contraception in this list. When this gets thrown around, it makes me feel like an outsider in a programming community where I otherwise agree with probably everything else.

pnathan 8 days ago 1 reply      
Fascinating. This addresses one of my key concerns, that aid often is a bag of cash to high officials, who then go buy 6-10 Lamborghinis and a new apartment rather than actually helping people out.
bfe 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great and wise overview of some of the most important aspects of the state and trajectory of humanity today. I wish there were more widespread exposure to analysis like this.
grecy 8 days ago 1 reply      
> Four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or its highways closed.


jfoster 8 days ago 2 replies      
Is it just me, or is there some bias in the before & after photos?

Mexico city "before" is just one dwelling versus a full street in the "after".

Nairobi "before" is taken when most of the city was dark due to clouds, whereas the "after" is a bright, sunny day.

Similarly, Shanghai "before" looks like it was taken with an unfavourable filter on a hazy day.

I'm not doubting that the world is improving, especially in those places. I just find it unusual that they used such obviously biased photos.

jl6 8 days ago 2 replies      
I would be interested to hear how HN readers approach charity. I personally am constantly struggling with questions like: once my basic needs are met, how can I possibly justify not giving the rest of my income to life-saving causes?

My working theory is a combination of (a) my basic needs are actually quite high when you consider the many potential rainy days for which I must save, (b) I don't know enough to donate with confidence that my money is doing more good than harm (this Gates letter addresses some of my concerns here), and (c) I must simply come to terms with being selfish to the point where I would rather spend money on a candy bar than a life-saving vaccination for someone else.

acconrad 8 days ago 2 replies      
> There are still slums and pockets of poverty, but by and large when I visit there now I think, Wow, most people who live here are middle-class. What a miracle.

Overall I enjoyed his letter, but I find this quote a bit deceptive. A recent photo (http://i.imgur.com/atxDiw6.jpg) of the poverty line in Mexico City paints a very different picture than Gates' conclusion that most people there are "middle-class." Another source (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/30/us-mexico-poverty-...) claims that Mexico's poverty line is nearly 50%, far different than "pockets of poverty."

pella 8 days ago 0 replies      
"How Occupy Wall Street Won In One Chart"

--> "income inequality has been the #1 global risk."


misterbishop 8 days ago 0 replies      
This should be titled "Strawmen that block progress for the poor". Few serious thinkers actually believe any of those supposed myths.

Not one word about the exploitation of labor and natural resources in "poor nations" by rich nations (&corporations). Not one word about economic sanctions imposed on several poor nations by the US and its allies.

Gates sounds like the optimist against a world of cynics, but he ignores major reasons why these nations are poor in the first place.

dnautics 8 days ago 0 replies      
#2 is really tortured. first he makes the argument that foreign aid works, then narrows it down to "development aid" and then when it comes time to presenting evidence he really pares it down to "health aid".

And addressing the second part of myth #2(aid breeds dependence), is it not possible that the countries that escaped aid are getting better in spite of foreign aid, and not because of it? There are a lot of other things that have happened to those countries in the era in which foreign aid was given, like political shifts, introduction of technology, improvement of trade relations with neighboring countries, no longer being at war with other countries, etc, etc, etc. Seems like a standard correlation/causation fallacy.

gregwtmtno 8 days ago 3 replies      
I think myth number 3, that saving childrens lives leads to overpopulation, misses the central concern. People are concerned about world resource depletion, not overpopulation. And while it is 100% true that bringing countries out of poverty reduces population growth, it does not reduce consumption. In fact, it does the opposite.
jokoon 8 days ago 0 replies      
I view this as a political sensitization, and I think it's greater than trying to talk numbers and topics about charities and myths.

I think this foundation is showing that you can be optimistic and right at the same time for many things about charities, but it's not the organization and the means and the money sent that will effectively change things.

I don't know how this foundation works at the political level, and what are the political issues, but I hope it will make people really reflect their view on the world. You don't often have billionaires initiating a communication campaign and articles about charities, and attracting that much attention.

I don't think Bill Gates would really like to answer the question "when did you encounter politics in that work, and what was good and what was not ?", because I don't think that he's a very political guy, but at least he has enormous talent for everything else.

I honestly thinks that diplomacy and politics can immensely help charities. I wish this foundation is not just doing this mission without minding the geopolitics, and has at least a few political partners and advisors. I wonder if they tried to do some lobbying, if just think there is a lot of potential if you try to approach foreign aid with a moderate amount of politics.

humanrebar 8 days ago 1 reply      
> It is ironic that the foundation has a reputation for a hard-nosed focus on results, and yet many people are cynical about the government aid programs we partner with. The foundation does a lot to help these programs be more efficient and measure their progress.

It's not ironic. Some people value government charity spending less than they value private nonprofit spending. Gates implicitly acknowledges that government aid has weak points (poor focus on outcomes, inefficiency, and lack of good measurement). Aside from that, there are also principled concerns about using tax dollars for aid projects.

pessimizer 8 days ago 1 reply      
The myth in this article is that a per capita average of income tells you anything about the condition of the poor. Many countries can raise that number significantly by simply asking Mr. Gates to visit for a day.
Datsundere 7 days ago 0 replies      
Never mind the fact that the divide between the rich and the poor is growing, and only


agarwlGaurav 8 days ago 3 replies      
Yesterday I read the Oxfam report that 85 people own half of the world's wealth. http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2014-01-20/ri...

Now this is amazing and simple fact. This shows we have completely failed at distribution of wealth. If we could fix this many many problem will vanish. Now instead of what Gates has written this extreme inequality is blocking the progress of poor.

pikewood 8 days ago 0 replies      
I appreciated the fractal poetry in including the story of Sadi Seyni's village well (an example of the need for spreading accurate information to our fellow villagers), which is itself wrapped in a letter which calls on the reader to spread accurate information on the myths being presented.
wowsig 7 days ago 0 replies      
Some major ground has been covered in the article, and sparked a few more pointers. I come from a country receiving substantial aid, and yet I see that a lot of new initiatives could be kickstarted by the wealthy citizens themselves. Covering the reasons why the middle-class and the rich hesitate to lean in philanthropy would also instigate more people to contribute.
goggles99 5 days ago 0 replies      
Darn, I was hoping that he was talking about the domestic poor.
excellence24 8 days ago 0 replies      
best line in the letter: "As public knowledge goes up, corruption goes down, and more money goes where its supposed to."

This means you NSA and US black budget. Computers and robots have no need for money. Our black budget goes to paying PEOPLE off and keeping secrets.

higherpurpose 8 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad Gates doesn't think the Internet helps progress in countries, because technology and the Internet are huge factors in the progress and conditions of living in a country.
elwell 8 days ago 0 replies      
Breaks back button...
niio 8 days ago 0 replies      
ignore... testing saved articles.
Why I'm Betting On Julia evanmiller.org
462 points by mistermcgruff  6 days ago   252 comments top 45
kevinalexbrown 6 days ago 3 replies      
When out with friends recently, one of them mentioned how awesome Julia is. I was surprised to hear someone talk about it, even from another person in science. She turned and gushed about how awesome it was, how supportive the community was, even though she was "not really someone who likes programming." And she liked it so much she was telling her friends about it at a bar!

If you make a programming language that people who don't like programming love enough to spread by word of mouth when not near a computer, which technically-oriented people also love, that's a lot like the OSX terminal + nice GUI blend.

That's a pretty rare thing. And for collaborative science it's pretty important. Often, you'll have people in a bio lab who are very proficient in their area of biological expertise, but who would be solving the wrong problem by spending 2 years trying to become C++ hackers. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who write computational libraries, but know they have to translate them to matlab, or write a matlab wrapper and pray that their users can get it to compile which might sound simple to folks here, but is really frustrating for less computationally oriented people when something goes wrong.

kibwen 6 days ago 5 replies      
I'm excited by Julia, but I don't think this article makes a very good sell. It's neat that you can dump the generated assembly, but I'd rather see a demonstration of a robust profiler so that I know which functions I need to dump in the first place.

I also disagree that the popularity of Node stems from "getting disparate groups of programmers to code in the same language". From what I've observed, it's not that back-end programmers are suddenly giddy at the prospect of getting to use Javascript on the server, it's that front-end programmers get to apply their existing knowledge of Javascript to back-end development.

wirrbel 6 days ago 3 replies      
I don't really see the need for the author to make himself into a "cowboy" coder and point out how they ignore all those valuable insights and enlightenments of programmers.

Julia is a kind-of-fine language that is designed to appeal Matlab users first of all by its syntactical looks. Just like Javascript was designed to appeal to C and Java users by imitating their look.

Under the hood, Julia is quite a smart development, not only in terms of code generation, but also in terms of datatypes and object models.

Multiple dispatch is something that more or less only Lisps typically offer natively (and Dylan). When working with types (especially in dynamically strongly typed languages) this is often something what I am missing in other languages. Consider Python:

    if isinstance(x, Y):        ...    elif isinstance(x, Z):        ...
This feature alone shows that the authors of Julia are rather the thoughtful language-loving authors.

So I would like to leave the small scope of the article but look at the greater picture: Julia and its competitors. There are actually quite a few on the market. A few domain-specific numerical libraries exist for C/C++/Fortran for scientific purposes (ROOT at Cern, etc.). They are more or less falling out of fashion. For a long time, Matlab has been dominant in some faculties for evaluation and working with data, process signals and images. It is not by accident that Matlab was created as a convenient Wrapper to Fortran libraries at the time. From a software developer's perspective, Matlab is for Cowboys.

Next to its high price (and the vendor lock in forced upon college and university students who are trained for matlab when there exist suitable open source alternatives), the most appalling thing about Matlab is its poor performance as a programming language. While its easy to write small scripts, solve linear algebra problems and plot a few things, I have hardly seen well organized Matlab code and I just think that it is impossible. While Matlab licenses cost heaps of money, support is not good and upon a version change you have to spend considerable amounts of work getting around API changes.

The Matlab clones available (Octave) are generally unimpressive. I think this has to do with the big effort of copying Matlab and the need to develop the whole tool stack (parser, interpreter, libraries). Contributors are hard to find because octave hardly offers any benefit over the original, like ReactOS with Windows, Octave can only react. I still value the effort of the octave folks, they have done some great work!

Scientific Python has chosen a slightly different path. Taking the fairly uncontroversial programming language Python, the authors created an infrastructure of thematically separated modules. While eliminating the need to design and implement an own programming language, a lot of work could be spent on building useful libraries. Also, existing libraries were reusable (databases, XML, etc.) and Python is a really convenient programming languages for both Newbies and professional software developers. So with this pragmatic approach, the contributers have created one of the best environments for scientific software development and would be my suggestion for anyone at the moment who just wants to use one system.

What still amazes me: While working in an ipython notebook (http://ipython.org/notebook.html) on some numerical calculations, I can just pull up Sympy (http://sympy.org) and perform some symbolic computations (Fourier transforming some function analytically or taking the derivative of some other, etc.).

Oh, and have I told you about how Scipy can replace R for really cool statistical analyses?

The part where Julia kicks in now is the point that Matlab has a lot of market ground, especially with engineers who are not extraordinarily passionate about programing. For some people the burden of learning another syntax is just too big, they are not full time programmers but spend their time more with acquiring data and using the results. I really hope that some of them who are not willing to switch to scientific python can agree on switching to Julia.

Full Disclosure: I have occasionally been forced to work with Matlab (so I do have some experience with it without being an expert) and it was not fun. This is one of the reasons I would like all Scientists to have the chance of choosing a good environment that is suitable for them. If its Matlab for some, so be it ;-) I have never looked back.

candybar 6 days ago 8 replies      
I really don't like the anti-intellectual tone of the beginning.

"The problem with most programming languages is they're designed by language geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth."

can be rewritten as:

"The problem with most software is that they are designed by computer geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Information security, thread safety, modularity, hardware acceleration, system design, and so forth."

astrieanna 6 days ago 1 reply      
The author and I like Julia for nearly opposite reasons. (I write Julia for the language geek reasons. The power of homoiconicity is amazing for writing static analysis in the language you're analyzing.) It's really cool that Julia can appeal to people with nearly opposing priorities tho. :)

I'm looking forward to giving the workshop at UChicago. It'll be my third time presenting an Intro to Julia workshop.

haberman 6 days ago 5 replies      
Can Julia be a competitor to R? I love R in concept (interactive environment for statistical analysis) but the language just drives me crazy in its multitude of types and the loosey-goosey ways it converts between them.

A friend of mine is really proficient with R; when I walked him through some of the R patterns that are very confusing/irregular to me, he sort of laughed: he could see what I was saying but he said "with R you can't worry about things too much, you kind of just have to just go with it."

If Julia can serve some of the same use cases but in a better-designed way, sign me up!

elteto 6 days ago 2 replies      
To each its own I guess, but I wanted to say that I don't see "safety, type systems and homoiconicity" and other theoretical "geek" stuff as orthogonal to a programming language's ease of use, productivity and expressiveness. If anything they complement each other. The theory behind it provides a consistent framework so that you minimize the mixing of different paradigms and you can express ideas in a more consistent way. I very much doubt that a language where you just throw stuff in would be easy to use. If Julia is a great language is precisely because of all the thought that went into it, the ideas behind it didn't just materialize in someone's brain.
Blahah 6 days ago 4 replies      
Just yesterday I decided to start seriously developing in Julia. High-level languages are a bottleneck for computational biology. We need to be able to write things fast, and have them run fast. So far no language really does this. But Julia looks like the one.

I'm going to put together a BioJulia team is anyone is interested in playing.

sdegutis 6 days ago 5 replies      
This sounds like premature-optimization to me.

Maybe it's just me, but in the apps I write in dynamic languages, the bottleneck is rarely in the language. It's usually in some IO.

EDIT: some sentence in the article gave me the impression he was using this for non-math-heavy stuff which is why I said this

cjfont 6 days ago 4 replies      
> The problem with most programming languages is they're designed by language geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth. I'm sure these things are great, but when I'm messing around with a new project for fun, my two concerns are 1) making it work and 2) making it fast. For me, code is like a car. It's a means to an end. The "expressiveness" of a piece of code is about as important to me as the "expressiveness" of a catalytic converter.

You want a fast car, but don't care much for having an aerodynamic design, hmmm..

EDIT: In retrospect I now think he means he wants to be able to create the project fast, and this is not about performance.

avodonosov 6 days ago 2 replies      
The reason to bet on Julia is disassembling a function?This is a standard feature in Common Lisp (ANSI standardized in 1994)

  CL-USER> (defun f(x) (* x x))  F  CL-USER> (disassemble 'f)  L0           (leaq (@ (:^ L0) (% rip)) (% fn))       ;     [0]           (cmpl ($ 8) (% nargs))                  ;     [7]           (jne L33)                               ;    [10]           (pushq (% rbp))                         ;    [12]           (movq (% rsp) (% rbp))                  ;    [13]           (pushq (% arg_z))                       ;    [16]           (movq (% arg_z) (% arg_y))              ;    [17]           (leaveq)                                ;    [20]           (jmpq (@ .SPBUILTIN-TIMES))             ;    [21]  L33           (uuo-error-wrong-number-of-args)        ;    [33]

farslan 6 days ago 2 replies      
We have a Julia and iJulia app on https://koding.com. It's going to be used by Harvard & MIT students soon. It's public and everyone can try it by simple login to Koding. The best part is you can easily try it online, without installing anything. Here is an screenshot of how it's look like (iJulia and Julia inside Terminal):


The source of this app can be found here:


I'm happy to answer any questions :)

tieTYT 6 days ago 4 replies      
> my two concerns are 1) making it work and 2) making it fast.

What about maintainability? "Code as if the next guy to maintain your code is a homicidal maniac who knows where you live." -Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates

In my experience, making something work and making it (relatively) faster is easy. Making it easy to read is hard.

thinkpad20 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've tried Julia out a few times and been very impressed. From what I've seen it really does a great job of bridging the gap between easy-to-use and high-performance. It kind of seems like D in that way. I can definitely see lots of situations where a language like this is desirable.

I'm in Chicago (and a U of C grad!). I might come to the meetup if I can.

shele 6 days ago 2 replies      
"Julia was not designed by language geeks it came from math, science, and engineering MIT students"

This statement is built on a false dichotomy. And it is not really true for Julia, take the type system for example, sophisticated AND unintrusive.

smortaz 6 days ago 5 replies      
mini ASK HN: would there be any interest in supporting Julia in Visual Studio? (as a free/oss plugin).

i lead the Python Tools for Visual Studio project at msft and would be curious if there is interest.

as a side note, if you do you use Python & require Python/C++ debugging, PTVS now supports it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJaKQ94lBY#t=10

sdegutis 6 days ago 2 replies      
Wait a minute! Can you embed Julia into a C program like Lua? Can it interface with complex C types cleanly?? This might be the scripting language I'v been looking for in my side project!
tesmar2 6 days ago 3 replies      
> but it's poised to do for technical computing what Node.js is doing for web development

I stopped right there. Node.js has only a few great use cases where it shines and in the real world, the vast majority of shops have not switched to using it.

RivieraKid 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've used Julia for couple of projects and it's amazing, I seriously believe that Julia is better - in several ways - than all of the widely used dynamic languages like Python, Ruby, Clojure, Octave or Lua. It's a brilliantly designed language. There are so many things to like about this language.
rubyn00bie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not to be a an asshole, something I have to preface a lot on here... but, uhh,

"Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth. I'm sure these things are great, but when I'm messing around with a new project for fun, my two concerns are 1) making it work and 2) making it fast."

Uhhh... Call me crazy, but wouldn't the "so forth" be what you care about if #2 is that important to you?

tenfingers 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's a lot to love in Julia, but my biggest nitpick is the 1-based array index. I can see where it comes from, but it's not something I can praise. I use R on a daily basis, where the aim is mostly interactive analysis, and still I cannot see any reason to use 1-based indexes. For a language that is instead mostly oriented to programming, I would have not went for the "familiarity" argument.
evanspa 6 days ago 1 reply      
When I read the opening paragraph, I immediately thought of the author as a Blub programmer [1].

"The problem with most programming languages is they're designed by language geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth. I'm sure these things are great..."

Yes, those things are great. They ultimately aid in helping the programmer tackle the inevitable complexity that arises when building systems in a maintainable way.


foundart 6 days ago 1 reply      
I see the Julia home page lists multiple dispatch as one of its benefits. Since my only real exposure to multiple dispatch was when I inherited some CLOS code where it was used to create a nightmare of spaghetti, I'm wondering if any Julia fans here would care to elaborate on how they've used multiple dispatch for Good instead of Evil
zem 6 days ago 0 replies      
the interesting thing is that what excites me about julia is that it is clearly a scientific computing language designed by people who are language geeks. the feature set seems very clean and well-thought-out to me.
eonil 6 days ago 1 reply      
Does Julia have AOT compiler which produces a binary which can be linked to a C program? I am asking this because I have to consider availability on iOS - which is a platform prohibits JIT.
weichi 6 days ago 1 reply      
How good is the interactive plotting experience?
blueblob 6 days ago 1 reply      
How does Julia interface with C? Is it easy to interface Julia with C because all it does is compile the C with Clang/LLVM?
weatherlight 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love Julia, Coming from the Ruby world it was very easy to get into.

It was easy to see how useful and expressive the language was by just doing a few Project Eulers.

allochthon 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like what I see so far at this page [1] and will watch closely to see whether Julia catches on.

One thing -- can we call agree that dictionary literals begin and end with '{}', that arrays are zero-indexed and that an index into a unicode string is properly a character and not a byte? Or are we doomed to permute endlessly on details such as these? I wish any new languages would set aside a large set of tempting innovations and just go with the flow on the smaller points.

[1] http://learnxinyminutes.com/docs/julia/

otikik 5 days ago 0 replies      
> the real benefit is being able to go from the first prototype all the way to balls-to-the-wall multi-core SIMD performance optimizations without ever leaving the Julia environment.

That sounds like someone who has not had to maintain any kind of software for more than 2 days.

digitalzombie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm betting on Julia and Rust really. Julia for Scientific programming and Rust for system.
rrggrr 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm betting on Scratch.

The benefits of automation are mostly denied to me because I haven't the time to learn Julia or properly use the Python skills I already possess. I do however have the time to link and configure objects ala Scratch and Apple's Automator, or the first generation of what was once Allaire's Cold Fusion. Its not just me, either. The demand for automation tools is pervasive in business and education, but the time and innate skills needed to program effectively belong to a subset of the needy. Bring me a language that is truly a means to an end and take my money.

mpchlets 6 days ago 0 replies      
Based on your comments of Cowboys, you have obviously never rode hard put up wet.
georgewfraser 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is there reason to believe Julia is actually fast outside of microbenchmarks? Their strategy of aggressive specialization will always look good in microbenchmarks, where there's only one code path, but could blow up in a large codebase where you actually have to dispatch across multiple options. I've never seen a Julia benchmark on a big piece of code.
DonGateley 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a Julia forum anywhere. Like with a hierarchy of topics and subtopics and with hierarchical threads at the bottom level like HN? Optimally something that remembers what you've read.
Malarkey73 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is odd as a much better post on Julia v R v MATLAB v Python etc has got little attention:http://slendermeans.org/language-wars.html
bayesianhorse 6 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that Julia is great. But it's not there yet, either.
enupten 6 days ago 0 replies      
All they're missing is a cool interaction mode like SLIME.
DonGateley 5 days ago 0 replies      
I want to write audio VST plugins in this language! Somebody please make that easy. :-)
lafar6502 6 days ago 1 reply      
Looks strangely similar to Lua
ggchappell 6 days ago 0 replies      
Figlet sighting. Font: big. :-)
juleska 6 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, good to see, but, what i can do with it that i can't with another language? -.-
niix 6 days ago 0 replies      
gfodor 6 days ago 0 replies      
I too agree he makes for a poor Scotsman.
We spent a week making Trello boards load fast fogcreek.com
417 points by mwsherman  7 days ago   94 comments top 24
cmadan 7 days ago 5 replies      
We at ClinchPad, which also uses a card based layout similar to Trello, faced the same issues. For every 100 cards, it'd add another 1-2 seconds to the load time meaning when you got to about 700 cards it would be close to 10 seconds of load time.

Here's how I fixed it

1. I added pagination - Load only 300 cards, paginate to load more. We found that while some people had 300+ cards in their default view, most never actually utilised the view usually using a filter to bring down the no of cards to a more manageable level.

That still left about 3-6 seconds of page load time for 300 cards. Unacceptable. So these where the further steps I took to fix it.

2. The main culprit after some rudimentary profiling seemed to be the jQuery's .html('') tag. Apparently it does some cleanup which takes awhile on a huge DOM block with lots of attached events. Replaced it with by looping through each child node in the DOM block and removing them with removeChild. Achieved 8x speedup, loading time down to 1-2 seconds with 300 cards.

3. Second culprit was the jQuery UI's droppable and draggable initiations was taking awhile. Hacked around this by putting the jQuery UI's droppable and draggable initiations inside a setTimeout thats fired in 100ms. Of course, this doesn't affect the actual rendering time but the perceived rendering time is now <1sec because the pipeline loads instantly and it is usually 1-2 seconds before the user does an action on the UI.

All in all, just less than <20 lines of code changed but took me two full days to figure it out. At one point, I was looking through jQuery UI's droppable code and futility seeing how I could optimize it. :)

JackFr 7 days ago 1 reply      
The biggest takeaway from this should be the difference between Wednesday(0%) vs. Thursday(90+%) is the difference between optimizing on a hunch and optimizing with a profiler.
sync 7 days ago 4 replies      
To prevent layout thrashing yourself, you can use this library: https://github.com/wilsonpage/fastdom

Ember.JS (and possibly Angular?) does this for you automatically.

randallu 7 days ago 1 reply      
The "translateZ: 0" description is a bit misleading -- I wish he'd provided numbers for the improvement. In general using composited layers is more expensive (since the CPU still does rendering of the image, must upload it to texture, etc).

It might be a win if the thing you apply it to:

1. Never changes, but the content around it changes often.

2. Is hard to render (lots of shadows, etc).

The layout and paint thrashing is a really good optimization though. You should be able to insert as many things into the DOM as you like without triggering a layout SO long as you don't read back (like consulting offsetLeft). I think the Chrome inspector will mark read backs with a little exclamation point in the timeline with a tooltip "synchronous layout forced" and a backtrace to your JS...

joshma 7 days ago 1 reply      
We've had good success with the "queued rendering with interrupts" strategy as well. The 5.9s to 960ms drop is _slightly_ misleading, since a lot of the rendering has yet to be done, but as long as one remembers they're measuring "perceived" rendering time I'm in full agreement.

Other than allowing the browser to paint in the middle, I'd say it's equally (if not more) important that the _.defer calls allow user events to interleave rendering, so you get a bit of scrolling, clicking, hovering, etc. Not doing so is akin to running an intensive operation in the UI thread (for those coming from Swing or Android), and you get a frozen browser page instead.

The one caveat we've seen, though, is your code gets more complicated due to the async rendering. For us the async render was just a subcall in a larger render method, and some later calls relied on the async rendering being complete for some measurement purposes. We had to move those calls to a callback after the queued rendering was done, but ideally only wanted SOME of it to be deferred (some click handlers, etc, we wanted set up earlier so the user could interact with the page), but in a larger codebase you get into a refactoring nightmare, etc etc.

All being said, though, it was probably worth it. :)

comex 7 days ago 3 replies      
And yet there is no real reason why render time should scale at all with content hidden below the fold, and I suspect that one second of lag is considerably higher on ARM. To go somewhat off topic, on native platforms there is much more fine-grained control of when things get rendered, without hacks, and taking advantage of parallelism is easier. When will we have a stack (with a WebGL backend or something) that replaces the browser's rendering from the ground up and achieves better efficiency?
benjaminwootton 7 days ago 4 replies      
This post makes me want to move from back end coding to front end or full stack.

It seems like those guys have much more fun now more of the cross browser pain has been abstracted away.

ryan-allen 7 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but I was so glad when as an individual I could pay for Trello. It makes me feel a bit safer that they'll stick around rather than do the ol' shutdown or bought out and shutdown dance.
programminggeek 7 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a little surprised they don't do something like iOS does for rendering list views quickly... have a small subset of item views rendered and basically reuse them. You aren't displaying all 7,000 items so while maybe it makes sense to load the data in one shot, does it make sense to load all the DOM elements? Probably not.

Also, I understand why things get slow, but I will never understand why performance benchmarking doesn't seem to exist in many places as part of the QA process. Writing tests and making things work right is usually there, but making sure things are performant and the user has an outstanding experience seems to get left until it's a "problem".

Kluny 7 days ago 2 replies      
Just checked my company's Trello board. Can confirm, it's faster.
TN1ck 7 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't the way React handles the DOM perfectly to prevent layout-trashing?As far as I understand, the DOM in React is nearly write-only, so layout-trashing should never occur, but I don't know the exact implementation details.Please correct me if this is not correct, I couldn't find any hard information on this.
examancer 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how the trello approach of building more complete DOM elements in backbone prior to insertion, to avoid layout thrashing, would compare to using requestAnimationFrame batching? It seems like RAF might allow the browser to see all those DOM "thrashes" as a single render and not try to render them separately, thus speeding them up.

I'm just getting started with using RAF for some JS animations I want to be very high performance, but haven't seen what impact it would have on something as large as a huge trello board.

RAF performance may also be more variable between browsers than simply reducing layout thrashing. At this point though I'm speculating. Would be good if someone more knowledgable would do a comparison.

dbloom 7 days ago 0 replies      
While we're on the topic of layout thrashing...

The reason layout thrashing happens is due to cached layout metrics being invalidated, causing information to be re-computed over and over.

But the layout cache isn't global for the page. Browsers do their best to not invalidate cached layout metrics unnecessarily.

For example, an element's height often depends on its width (due to wrapping of text and other inlines). That height can be expensive to compute because it requires layout and word wrapping of all the element's children. But if you move the element to a different container, but the element's width and cascaded/inherited styles stay the same, some browsers will not invalidate the element's height. (Check out how fast the "Reparent" test is on http://jsperf.com/are-reflows-created-equal in Safari and Chrome )

So if you find yourself in a situation where layout thrashing is hitting you hard, try to find ways to give the browser more explicit information about your layout, so that layout cache invalidations don't propagate as far. For example, giving parent elements an absolute width and/or height can help a lot.

This way, you can often eke out the performance you need, while avoiding heavy-handed refactoring necessary to always batch DOM changes. (Unfortunately, you'll need to verify the improved performance in all major browsers -- not all will have the same optimizations. It would be great if browser vendors documented their behavior more!)

lennel 7 days ago 0 replies      
<<harsh criticism - i feel bad for, yet I also feel the standards are too low in general>>

pre-rendering the board on the server would have solved his perceived problem immediately.

then in more detail:

layout thrashing only now a consideration? (advice use a mock dom and see what your operations do in your testing if you decide to handle dom manipulation yourself)

as a developer you only started using the profiler when?

too many http request, can be much optimised (yes i realise cdn, but ttl there can be managed nicely even for a single delivery)

css not remaned and compressed

own js badly minified

using jquery ffs!

>>anyway, perceived rendering would have solved this by the metrics solved is measured here and simply rendering on the server and giving a 500ms ttl on the cdn would have been faster + not overburden their servers. I don't know their stack so perhaps the next staement is useless: is this api with the big taskboard open aka can I have a stab at it and try to explain and proof what I am talking about.

ddorian43 7 days ago 0 replies      
How has mongodb worked out for you in the long-run? Have you looked at tokumx?
michaelmior 6 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't compare with simply batching updates, but I've had big wins from using document fragments. In order to allow both batch and incremental updates with Backbone, I simply create document fragments before a batch update. Then I check when adding elements if a fragment exists, or if elements should be added to the DOM directly.
Jakob 6 days ago 0 replies      
For me it still takes one second in script only but not because of heavy scripts but because of forced layouts[0] for each page load.

In your code its mostly adding DOM children (invalidating the layout) and getting an offset later on (thus forcing the layout) for ca 25 times. The page should be much more responsive.

[0] https://developers.google.com/chrome-developer-tools/docs/de...

hessenwolf 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have a net promoter score of 10 for your product. (it means I am telling people about your product - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_Promoter - ignore the criticism, I have inside information)

I don't like the big icons. It takes longer for me to read the same amount of information. Don't take my word for it, but there you go.

Is there anything like a standalone version we can run in a large multinational? External cloud-services are no-go for legal reasons. It's really annoying me that my wife and evening-work colleagues are super-sophisticated with kanban and then I come in to work with a shitty to-do spreadsheet.

axemclion 7 days ago 0 replies      
Do you think adding something like this - http://github.com/axemclion/browser-perf into the continuous integration process would help over time ?

The project is a NodeJS implementation of the Chromium telemetry smoothness and loading benchmarks and the data from it could check perf regressions.

I could help with the integration if needed.

gboudrias 7 days ago 1 reply      
I have to say that is very impressive. Progressive rendering is somewhat obvious, but I didn't know layout thrashing could be this important.
Veejay 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've found that the use of documentFragment elements can provide an easy way to avoid reflows. They're easy to use, you can build your stuff on the side and then insert the fragment somewhere in the DOM as needed.


cheeaun 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious how do you measure the performance? 7.2 seconds means the load time, domready time or something?
elwell 7 days ago 1 reply      
After spending countless hours optimizing HTML5 mobile apps, I find that DOM size and DOM reflow are usually the main issues.
xmlninja 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great post! Thanks for sharing. Ive made my way with backbone in a similar way to optimize rendering, and I learned some new tricks with this post. We use trello on daily basis to review our app and system development.
US makes Bitcoin exchange arrests bbc.co.uk
383 points by majc2  2 days ago   308 comments top 42
eterm 2 days ago 6 replies      
A good excerpt from page 13.

"Shrem email accounts reflect that "BTCKing" not only obtained his supply of Bitcoins through the Company, but did so with extensive support from SHREM. Even though SHREM quickly realized that "BTCKing" was reselling Bitcoins on Silk Road, which SHREM knew to be a marketplace for illicit drugs, SHREM went out of his way to facilitate "BTCKing's" business. Among other things, SHREM: permitted "BTCKing" to continue doing business with the Company, despite initially threatening to "ban" him based on his illegal activity; personally ensured that "BTCKing's" orders with the Company were filled everyday; gave "BTCKing" discounts based on his large order volume; sought to conceal "BTCKing's" activity from the Co-founder and the Cash Processor to prevent "BTCKing's" orders from being blocked; advised "BTCKing" how to evade the transaction limits imposed by the Company's own AML policy; let "BTCKing" conduct large transactions without ever verifying his identity, in violation of federal AML laws; and failed to file a single Suspicious Activity Report about "BTCKing," [sic] despite the obvious "red flags" raised by "BTCKing's" dealings with the Company."

If all that is alledged is true, that's pretty damning and this isn't just a general bitcoin crackdown.

siculars 2 days ago 7 replies      
I find it hilarious that they take this guy down and nobody from HSBC does a perp walk. I guess it's who you know and how much you can pay off, ya? This has everything to do with the threat Bitcoin represents. HSBC literally paid a 2 Billion dollar fine against specifically money laundering on behalf of organized drug cartels. The investigation took years and not a single HSBC employee has done a perp walk.

Oh, and since when does selling BTC anywhere, including Silk Road, constitute a crime? It's what you buy with BTC, or any other currency, that is the crime.

jahewson 2 days ago 7 replies      
There seems to be a general lack of understanding here on HN that money laundering is incredibly harmful to society. It allows organised crime to operate with great ease. It facilitates the corrupt in any walk of life, be it political, corporate, or even law enforcement.

Any money-trading entity needs to keep track of who money is coming from and going to and to monitor their transactions. The recent billion-dollar HSBC settlement is an example of a failure to properly monitor transactions, it is not clear that there was any criminal conspiracy involved [1]. That's very different from this BitInstant charge: the operators are accused of knowing that one of their customers was reselling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of BitCoin on SilkRoad where the transaction was anonymous, which means it can be used to launder money. Worse still, they're accused of helping this guy circumvent their own monitoring systems so that they weren't obliged to report him. This is serious stuff.

[1] The criminal charges from that case were dropped as part of a settlement, but that's an entirely separate contoversy. Failure to correctly charge possible criminals in once case does not make it ok in another.

JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is not an attack on Bitcoin per se, but an attack on blatant money laundering:

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who filed the charges: "truly innovative business models dont need to resort to old-fashioned lawbreaking, and when Bitcoins, like any traditional currency, are laundered and used to fuel criminal activity, law enforcement has no choice but to act" [1].

This is different from HSBC's case because while HSBC was negligent in implementing proper anti-money laundering procedures Shrem was actively aiding his clients in their money laundering. That has not been proven in the case of any of HSBC's U.S. executives, at least so far.

[1] http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/a994436a-8770-11e3-9c5c-00144...

untog 2 days ago 2 replies      
Note that this isn't an arrest just for operating a Bitcoin exchange. It's specifically to do with Silk Road.
epaga 2 days ago 2 replies      
For me, the biggest shock is that Shrem is on the board of the Bitcoin Foundation and was involved in this stuff. The Bitcoin foundation is one of the strongest voices in Washington about Bitcoin.

This is a big hit to the credibility of Bitcoin in the near to midterm future.

jboggan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am very supportive of the Bitcoin Foundation, but it doesn't look good to have your Vice Chairman [1] taken down on money laundering charges.

1 - https://bitcoinfoundation.org/about/board

olefoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
From reading the complaint; it seems that the BTCKing guy was advertising his services on Silk Road and was active on the forums. Which means that he was knowingly violating the laws on money transmission and specifically the know your customer aspects.

It's pretty clear that in the not too distant future it will be illegal to not make a good faith effort to identify anyone you are selling bitcoins to.

CapitalistCartr 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a bit more information here, not much to be had anywhere I see, though.


rayiner 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's worth reading the indictment: http://www.scribd.com/doc/202555785/United-States-vs-Charles.... At least read the e-mail exchanges starting on pages 10 and 12.

What the article doesn't make clear is that the charge isn't for just selling BTC to Silk Road users. The charge is that Faiella purposefully targeted Silk Road users, sold them BTC at a markup, and Shrem coordinated with him to bypass BitInstant's anti-money laundering mechanisms and deliver the actual Bitcoin.

johnmurch 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am sure this will get down voted, but I can't help but find it interesting (Gov going after them after this recent HSBC news) HSBC was involved with drug cartels and much more and just had to pay a 1.9 billion dollar fine (sounds like a lot, but keep in mind its about 5 weeks of profits) http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/11/us-hsbc-probe-idUS...
mcantelon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, the US allows the Sinaloa to move drugs in the US:


dreen 2 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like they were arrested for selling bitcoins to silk road users en masse. Is this just a US law oddity or is that what passes for money laundering these days?
jbb555 2 days ago 2 replies      
If my understanding is true, then bitcoin isn't really relevant here. They could have been selling hand written money tokens to people that they then used to pay their drug dealer with. The allegations are about intent and money laundering.

If this is all as presented, this is good for bitcoin. The fact that a criminal has been caught is good. The fact that they were using bitcoin to commit their crime makes it doubly good they were arrested as it reflects badly on the community.

CodeCube 2 days ago 2 replies      
People are gonna have to learn to play by the rules. They are obviously paying attention.
zmanian 2 days ago 4 replies      
Seems like solid evidence that the reason the US govt is so comfortable with Bitcoin is that they have a handle on anonymizing the blockchain as needed.

Also maybe an example of crypto over-confidence.

ergoproxy 1 day ago 1 reply      
The legality of crypto-currencies in the US ultimately hinges on whether Wall St. execs can make money off them. If they could "frontrun" bitcoin trades, "naked short sell" into bitcoin exchanges, and execute "wash trades" to fix the price of bitcoins, then not only would bitcoin be declared legal, but we would see the US government using it and have it forced down the throats of middle-class pension funds.

But Wall St. can't control bitcoin. So JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon denounced it as "terrible" and predicted its downfall. Source: http://rt.com/usa/chase-ceo-bitcoin-terrible-downfall-100/

Then JP Morgan filed patents on its own crypto-currency, one that it can rig with frontrunning, naked short selling, and wash trades. Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e230307a-61c4-11e3-aa02-00144feabd...

As for bitcoin, I predict we'll increasingly see it in the news headlines linked to: (1) illegal drugs, (2) child porn, and (3) terrorism. These are the exact same smear tactics we've seen before used against P2P filesharing.

And we'll see lots more bitcoin arrests like these.

kumarski 2 days ago 1 reply      
This seems a bit ridiculous considering the half a TRILLION dollars that were laundered for drug cartels by the American bank Wells Fargo.

Am I missing something?

teawithcarl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's Andy Greenberg's excellent article on today's events--


nullc 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Justice Department press release is the ultimate source for all these stories and is the most informative: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/January14/Schr...

I guess this bodes poorly for the people who were hoping to get their coins back from Bitinstant: http://bitinstant.info/

mikecane 2 days ago 2 replies      
"and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business"http://bnowire.com/inbox/?id=2158

And they reveal the hand they'll use to shut it all down.

jusben1369 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how central figures in Bitcoin feel about this. The headlines aren't helpful but in the longer run if the Feds drive down or out the number of bad guys using Bitcoin that would seem to help it's image over the long run.
brianbarker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been worried about random people opening up exchanges, pools and other BTC transaction web applications. There are so many regulations, particularly in Anti-Money Laundering and Compliance that complicate business. People need to be careful and realize exchanges aren't a business you jump into on a whim.

The worst is, if you innocently run a site like this and don't have the correct AML protections, the baddies will use your service for their goals. You will be in trouble for not having the appropriate controls in place.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that they charged them with the money transmitting and laundering charges. I suspect it is hard to get someone indicted for just trading in coin since to the average lay person that probably seems like baseball collector cards or something.
kbar13 2 days ago 1 reply      
Title is very sensationalist and almost gave me a heart attack.
SoftwarePatent 2 days ago 0 replies      
A better headline: "U.S. makes money-laundering arrests"
at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
>>> Given that everyone involved was an American citizen.

I guess this is the moral of the story. Don't do this stuff within the confines of the US? Find a nice island paradise (I hear Vanuatu is nice this time of year) and do your business from a country that has no extradition treaty with the US.

dsugarman 2 days ago 0 replies      
HSBC admitted to laundering $800M for drug cartels. No arrests.
NAFV_P 2 days ago 2 replies      
> "It is unfortunate Silk Road continues to make the headlines in association with Bitcoin - this is the dark side of Bitcoin, which the vast majority of digital currency users have no association with."

Every currency or commodities of value have a dark side. A significant percentage of British notes have traces of cocaine, occasionally you see ones with blood on them. I'd consider blood diamonds to have just as sinister connotations as bitcoin.

Discussing this reminds me of the scene in Beverley Hills Cop, where the character Michael Tandino is murdered for stealing a wad of bearer bonds.


ada1981 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Drug law enforcement's job is to investigate and identify those who abet the illicit drug trade at all levels of production and distribution, including those lining their own pockets by feigning ignorance of any wrong doing and turning a blind eye."

Start with congress for making drugs illegal in the first place.

ommunist 2 days ago 1 reply      
Criminalizing BTC is a sure sign of fear from the US/UK banking system. But you cannot criminalise maths, you can only do that with mathematicians like Alan Turing.
rtpg 2 days ago 1 reply      
tangential to the story, but can someone explain to me why the government hates bitcoin(or rather, why people seem to think this)? It's a public ledger of all payments, seems like a pretty good thing for the IRS.
egocodedinsol 2 days ago 1 reply      
Without being upset, I'm curious what the difference is between this type of arrest and various traditional banks that were civilly fined for money laundering, but not criminally charged.

I doubt many FBI agents would hesitate to pursue a big bank. But they don't seem to be able to, even when there are civil fines given. What causes that, I wonder?

amiramir 2 days ago 2 replies      
How is what these people were arrested for different than what Coinbase does?
btcstanford 2 days ago 1 reply      
what about coin base and bitpay do they have any anti money laundering issues? Is the burden of AML KYC fall on the merchant or on coin base bitpay?
lama_drama 2 days ago 0 replies      
The difference between HSBC money laundering and Bitcoin's money laundering is more political hands involved with HSBC's profits.
CryptcWriter 2 days ago 0 replies      
HSBC just had to pay a 2b fine for money laundering, I guess the US gov doesn't accept BTC yet...
aerialfish 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the worst part is I went to high school in Brooklyn with this guy. Ugh.
thinkcomp 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is no different from many of the companies that Andreessen-Horowitz, Y Combinator, Sequoia, KPCB, and other big names have invested in. In fact, it's just the tip of the iceberg.

More arrests will likely follow. I wouldn't be surprised if Dwolla and/or Veridian Credit Union is next. They were one of the largest pipes to the Silk Road.


mbloom1915 2 days ago 0 replies      
so uncool, much dogecoin to invest
Fake Name Generator fakenamegenerator.com
370 points by galapago  8 days ago   159 comments top 62
teddyh 8 days ago 6 replies      

  # aptitude install rig
RIG (Random Identity Generator) is a free replacement for a sharewareprogram out there called 'fake'. It generates random, yet real-looking,personal data. It is useful if you need to feed a name to a Web site,BBS, or real person, and are too lazy to think of one yourself. Also,if the Web site/BBS/person you are giving the information to tries tocross-check the city, state, zip, or area code, it will check out.

  $ rig  Adolph Cline  739 Anton Dr  Mentor, OH  44060  (216) xxx-xxxx  $

qnk 8 days ago 9 replies      
Very useful resource!

I'm curious though, where did you get your Hispanic names from? Seems like they come from a database of funny, weird and probably offensive names. No one is called like that in Spanish-speaking countries, and yes, I know the names are supposed to be fake, but just comparing the Hispanic with the American ones, you can tell there's a big difference.

Whether or not is intentional, it could be even more helpful if you use "normal" names.

Disclaimer: I'm Hispanic.

antirez 8 days ago 3 replies      
Italian names are not realistic.

Try #1: "Dante Marcelo". Dante is a very strange name for an italian, I guess it is used in the US. Marcelo lacks an "l" (it is Marcello) so it sounds Spanish instead.

Try #2: "Berto Trentino". Trentino is realistic but Berto sounds a lot like an abbreviation of "Alberto", so not a real name even if I guess there are people actually named "Berto".

Try #3: "Pupetta Rizzo". Can't imagine somebody called "Pupetta", it is something you say to small children as "Little Doll" or alike.

adnam 8 days ago 4 replies      
I just generated an icelandic hobbit and it GAVE ME MY OWN NAME! I actually WTFed out loud.
chewxy 8 days ago 3 replies      
How very coincidental. This afternoon I was talking to my cofounders about test data generation - and names were one of them.

Here are other resources that we found that were helpful:

- http://www.generatedata.com/

- http://databasetestdata.com

- http://randomuser.me useful for frontends)

- http://gedis-studio.com/ (not free)

Also, TIL that Hipchat doesn't always pull all the links

pavanky 8 days ago 4 replies      
As an Indian I am a bit sad to see Hobbit, Klingon and Ninja in there but no option for Indian names.
11001 8 days ago 1 reply      
At least with Russian names, the algorithm seems to apply a uniform probability distribution over all names in its database. It results in way too many extremely rare names. In other words, a batch of Russian names generated using this program would not look statistically realistic.
aragot 8 days ago 0 replies      
Suggestion: Have a 'profile basket' so I can recover the birth date the next time a service asks for security questions.

Actually, generating the "first boyfriend" and "my first car color" would be great too.

Actually, what about generating a facebook and linkedin profile for the fake names?

mdemare 8 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, in my experience, 85 yo Dutch women are unlikely to drive a Mazda Miata. Although maybe mine examiners are more thrill-seeking than the average 85 yo. Fun!
Tarential 8 days ago 2 replies      
While this is very interesting, the profiles may need to be "tweaked" a bit to be realistic. For example, the first profile it generate for me was a:


-Fitness instructor

-Weighing 205.9 lbs

-Standing 5 feet 1 inch

Individually, any of these things might be ok. Any three could even be possible. All four, however, just doesn't seem to work.

possibilistic 8 days ago 2 replies      
Why are social security numbers generated? That seems necessary for supporting only dubious kinds of behavior.

Aren't SSNs only useful for banking/credit-type services? (Perhaps someone can enlighten me.)

galapago 8 days ago 0 replies      
They even support Klingon names! (after a big scandal [1])

[1]: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/blog/2013/10/response-to-ac...

joeframbach 8 days ago 1 reply      
First was a female dietitian, 5'7" and pushing 200lbs. Sounds like a great dietitian.

Next one had a hometown right down the road from me. Cool. She's 53 years old but her SSN starts with 180. PA's SSN range is 159 to 211, and everyone else my age has SSNs starting with 178. SSNs are assigned in-order. See the problem? Her SSN ought to be in the 160s I reckon.

Next was a 70-y/o timber and logging worker. I don't believe it.

linuxlizard 8 days ago 1 reply      
"Per company policy you have been denied access to the URL:http://fakenamegenerator.com/

Reason: Not allowed to browse Questionable category"

Now I'm REALLY curious!

sentenza 8 days ago 1 reply      
On first glance, the whole thing looked very shady to me, since the web pages it generates look like this:


but it seems they are all non-registered domains, so it is indeed not a scam (and Baking is not quite Banking).

Would be a funny trick, though. Get a lot of people to use your identity generator in order to produce some backlinks.

ankitoberoi 8 days ago 0 replies      
Quite useful but the site has ignored about 17.5% of the world population - Indian names are missing.
werid 8 days ago 1 reply      
The Norwegian name set generates some really strange first names. Plausible surnames though.
soneca 8 days ago 1 reply      
Brazilian names are perfect! Names, cities, phones, etc, everything so realistic!

As people are complaining of weird spanish, french, italian names, I wonder if the person who did this is brazilian.

justwrote 8 days ago 0 replies      
There are also faker libraries for various languages, e.g. the famous https://github.com/stympy/faker, https://github.com/fzaninotto/Faker and a little port in Scala (created by me) https://github.com/justwrote/scala-faker
eslaught 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, but the names are probably just pulled from US census data. If you want something to generate new names, try


which uses (admittedly simple) machine learning algorithms to generate new names.

lmm 8 days ago 2 replies      
I am highly amused that this requires a google+ login. Do they detect their own fake names?
bencollier49 8 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately the English names don't really work as they haven't taken account of name clustering in Ethnic minorities.

"Mohammed Bennett" is possible but highly unlikely.

allochthon 8 days ago 0 replies      
The fascinating thing about fake names is that they often seem to be a little off, somehow, even when they draw from real names. Hard to put my finger on it.
GyrosOfWar 8 days ago 0 replies      
The German names are all rather convincing, except for the sometimes lacking umlauts. (interestingly, only in the surnames) No one is called Jager here, unless they anglicized their name for some reason (Jger is German for Hunter).
kriro 8 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what database they are using for the ZIP codes. I tried googling around a bit and only found a bunch of "pay X$ to get all US ZIP codes". I'm pretty sure I've found these before for an ERP project I worked for...maybe the CIA? database (I distinctly remember they had some pretty good stuff
easy_rider 8 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm no API available (unlike randomuser).We need automated faking!
seanhandley 8 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of the vehicles make/models are not typical cars you'd see on British roads i.e. the marketing name is for another country, even if the vehicle itself is largely the same.
victorquinn 8 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a library in JavaScript for the browser and Node.js called Chance to generate user info and other random things:


I don't have as much internationalization, and it doesn't generate a full user like that (it's in my todo) but perhaps it would be helpful for anyone looking for this kind of stuff.

zman0225 8 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty awesome - although I keep on getting Ferraris and type two Diabetes. I guess it goes to show that you really can't have everything.
delinka 8 days ago 1 reply      
Emergency care nurse for Champion Auto. Priceless.
blt 8 days ago 0 replies      
It uses non-USA cars for the USA. We don't have the Chevrolet Matiz or Holden Senator here.
tommis 8 days ago 0 replies      
Finnish names were very good. Only thing that was a little off was the car models, which seemed very US centric. Car models have lot of regional variants (big differences in naming US vs EU vs Asia)
webjunkie 8 days ago 0 replies      
Fake names, cities, and other in python:


return0 8 days ago 0 replies      
So, I need a new dust filter for my Hoover MaxExtract PressurePro model 60 - can you help me with that?
xioxox 8 days ago 0 replies      
I don't need this website. I can go through the thousands of pages of wiki spam I've been hit with. I don't know why they think my wiki would have pages describing random teenagers from Germany who enjoy horseriding in their spare time and were medical equipment mechanics. Presumably these spammers must be using a similar database to this website.

The lack of unemployed people generated seems a bit unlike real life, however.

raphinou 8 days ago 1 reply      
There's a problem with Belgium: it generates street names in flemish for cities in the french speaking part of the country. Makes it obvious the address is fake.
vxNsr 8 days ago 1 reply      
Well that's creepy: The address of my randomly generated person is 1 block from an place I stayed at (same street name, just one block down).
sparkyrizzo 8 days ago 0 replies      
The author must think highly of American women. A random sample showed nearly all of them between 65-69" and over 200lbs.
milkers 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have used a similar service while preparing a lab assignment for a CS course this semester in my uni. But this one, whooa, just generate random users for your newest service and maybe with a little AI you can overcome the famous coldstart problem.
croisillon 8 days ago 0 replies      
Lithuanian names: http://uza.lt/vardai/

It's more of a fun read than anything useful, really

dangayle 8 days ago 0 replies      
I've used this in the past. Useful tool.
vezzy-fnord 8 days ago 1 reply      
It's a pretty old project. I know that it's been used quite successfully plenty of times for social engineering purposes.
codezero 8 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like it would be more accurately referred to as a real name generator :)
mattdennewitz 8 days ago 0 replies      
i'm only modestly talented when it comes to design and layout, but i feel strongly enough about this to make a suggestion: cover this thing in more ads.
jber 8 days ago 0 replies      
I love it! ;) Just afraid that many trolls will use it...
JSadowski 8 days ago 0 replies      
People have a UPS tracking number?
fapi1974 7 days ago 0 replies      
Major issue here is that the site is linking to www.ssnregistry.org which is pretty obviously a honeypot for SSN numbers...
incidence 8 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using this for testing webapps for years
bhaile 8 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting...one of the choices is Eritrean. Small country in East Africa. Names are pretty close to the region as well so I'm surprised.
optymizer1 8 days ago 0 replies      
Russian first names (not Cyrillic) are very strange: "Innocent Korovin" - really? Russian (cyrillic) seem more realistic though.
midas007 8 days ago 2 replies      
Super useful. Now if it only were to auto-create a G+ profile and scrape to find some profile pics.
pierlux 8 days ago 1 reply      
French Canada names are not typical. Here are examples:Franois TremblayMarc GagnonDiane CtLine Dion
eXpl0it3r 8 days ago 0 replies      
Could need some tweaking with the age. You mostly don't want information for a 60-90 year old person.
cellover 8 days ago 0 replies      
I am too afraid to realize I have been created in a random generator to use this service.
NAFV_P 8 days ago 0 replies      
My favourite was Brandon Bradshaw.
nayefc 8 days ago 0 replies      
The arabic one is pretty accurate.
darklrd 8 days ago 0 replies      
This has helped me many a time to generate test data-set.
gilney 8 days ago 0 replies      
Brazilian names are quite convincing.
nkg 8 days ago 0 replies      
I love it! Productivity : down.
thisisnotclear 8 days ago 0 replies      
no , Indian names?
devinder 7 days ago 0 replies      
Well, Let's celebrate anonymity
Papirola 8 days ago 0 replies      
no mclovin ?
Your best passive income? (2014)
369 points by kirk21  8 days ago   413 comments top 98
dangrossman 8 days ago 11 replies      
Not much has changed since the last thread. Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) is still in the 5-digit monthly RR range and growing, and I do no outbound marketing other than some PPC ads that don't need much active management. Everything that can be automated has been automated (onboarding, lifecycle mails, dunning mails for billing issues, etc), leaving me free to spend all my time on support and improving the product.

Two things that fit the "passive" mentality that have been picking up steam recently:

1) I offer an affiliate program with a revenue share commission (upfront bonus plus 10% of the referred customer's payments for a year). A couple of my best customers have become my best affiliates, recommending the product on industry blogs they write for regularly. It doesn't get better than having excited customers marketing your product for you. In the early days the affiliate program wasn't doing much at all, now it's a meaningful contributor to subscriber growth.

2) I've been running Improvely long enough now (just over a year) that some of the clients are growing their businesses significantly. I've got quite a few marketing agencies on board, and they're picking up new clients and adding them to their accounts. As their business grows, and their usage grows, they upgrade to plans with higher usage limits. Same customer base, higher revenue per customer. In the beginning, a new customer was worth $30ish per month. Today that's over $70/m per customer on average.

nickfox 8 days ago 1 reply      
I have been working on my Google Map Gps Cell Phone Tracker for several years now. Recently, I updated the project to include tracking for Android, IOS, Windows Phone and Java Me/J2ME phones. The project allows you to track a phone periodically (every 1, 5 or however number of minutes) and display them in real time on Google maps.

You can also save routes and display them later. I use google adsense on my website and also on youtube. I have been averaging about $600 per month in revenue. Now that I have done this update (which took a few months), I suspect that my adsense income is going to increase dramatically. If you want to learn more about my project, here is the landing page:


I'm 53 now and I've been a software contractor for the past 17 years. Because of the economy and my age, I was having an increasingly difficult time getting contracts. It's hard to compete with young programmers who can work a lot faster than you and at a much cheaper rate. So I decided it was time to step out on my own. It has been very challenging, a little frightening (ok, a lot frightening), but I am making slow progress.

Today, I was very happy to find out that my project was nominated for "Project of the Month" on Sourceforge. It's been downloaded about 8000 times in the past 4 days and has gotten 24 5-star reviews. If you have an account with Sourceforge and have the time to look at my project, would you please vote for me if you feel it's worth it?


Thank you. I appreciate the help and let me know if you have any questions.

viach 8 days ago 8 replies      
I've got a job where i do almost nothing. It's my passive income.
eo34 8 days ago 3 replies      
A few years ago, I wanted to build an oscilloscope in my pocket, so I went ahead and did it. Then I wanted a spectrum analyzer, and then an equalizer.

1) oScope an oscilloscope in your pocket. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oscope/id344345859?mt=8

2) Octave a real-time audio analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/octave-an-rta-for-the-iphone...

3) Fourier a spectrum analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fourier/id386084557?mt=8

I built all of these for fun in college, and I've occasionally updated them afterwards. The only thing I do now is answer a few emails a week.I've since gone back to grad school, but the yearly income has not changed, and approaches my stipend (low 5-digit).

What's been really neat is how people have found unexpected ways to use the apps. Sound engineers for halls and communities use Octave to set up the sound for concerts. Teachers use oScope to help kids understand how sound is composed of moving pressure waves of air, and how pitch is the frequency of these waves. Also, oScope had a tiny cameo in the show Homeland, as a "fancy science-looking analyzer tool for spying on people" (uncredited, unfortunately).

gmays 8 days ago 5 replies      
For me it's still residential real estate.

Between 2010 and 2012 or so I picked up some condos here in San Diego at short sale for about 1/3 of what their price was a few years earlier. I get about 1.5% of their purchase price every month in rent. At the same time, the property values have appreciated so the rents are starting to increase as well.

The longest I've had any of them vacant was about two weeks and that was only during the time I was replacing carpet, appliances, furnace, painting walls, fixing stuff, etc.

To make it completely passive I have a property manager (I live in the area, but I value my time). That along with HOA fees and real estate taxes eat into my bottom line, but combined it's only about 1/5 of the monthly rent.

These properties allowed me to quit my job, self-fund my company, and I'm actually putting money away every month. Go figure.

I'm not a real estate expert, but if you have any basic questions feel free to get in touch (contact info is in my profile). As background, I bought my first house at 21 and owned 5 homes by the time I was 27 (I'm 29 now). I was in the military until a few months ago, so I didn't make a whole lot, but I'm pretty good with money and invested wisely. I didn't grow up with much, so I learned what not to do with money. I'm also pretty deliberate about how I spend my money, which is different than being frugal.

r4pha 8 days ago 6 replies      
I'm making negative 15 USD/month hosting two side projects:

http://srctree.net - A pastebin with version controlhttp://blocksim.net - A poor man's online simulink-like thingy

I am aware that there is a _lot_ of room for improvement in both services, but the fact that nobody uses it at all is not very motivational.

simonhamp 8 days ago 6 replies      
I run Built With Bootstrap (http://builtwithbootstrap.com). It's making 4 figures a month at the moment.

It's mostly passive income as I spend no more than a few hours per week actually working on the site. Though I spend considerably more monitoring the stats and feeds etc etc

My biggest win with this site is the extremely low cost to run it - something I want to talk about more if anyone's interested. My only real regular cost is the domain name! Pretty phenomenal for a site that continues to attract thousands of visitors per day :) a model I'm proud of and hopefully can continue!

But of course, all standing on the shoulders of giants! Many thanks has to go to far more talented people than me... both for the site's foundations and it's popularity.

taigeair 8 days ago 2 replies      
Current passive income for me - blog and niche sites with articles (ads e.g. http://www.flagshipstorelondon.com/), e-commerce business (sales), ETFs (investments), and teaching a skill.

Flagship stores - I went around taking pictures of the best of the best stores for the top retail brands in London and made a directory. Created page on Blogger.

Ecommerce business is my best passive income. It's a physical product I really wanted so I made it. It's a map of London but made in the historic style. http://www.wellingtonstravel.com

I still need to spend time on it because I am customer service, legal, accounting, finance, marketing, IT, R&D, and operations. I have outsourced manufacturing and fulfillment to someone I found on https://sortedlocal.com/ and Amazon's FBA. It's great because it's more money and something I'm passionate about but it definitely takes 5-7 hours a week.

The teaching one is interesting in particular because it leverages your strengths, improves your communication, and is probably something you really enjoy since you took the time to get good at it (i.e. sailing, swimming, kettlebell workouts, or even English). I wrote a post about teaching English (http://www.taigeair.com/websites-to-help-you-teach-english-o...) for people who complained they couldn't find a job so did nothing all day, but they could be teaching a special skill which is what I did when I became unemployed. I learned code, created a few websites, interviewed, and taught swimming.

And rental income is good but definitely, not very passive...

Lastly, I'm developing a really cool website for helping people sleep which I can see being profitable.

I'd like to hear how much time you spent or are spending on these side projects. Also I heard babies are a time and money sink. So I'd be interested in hearing about people doing side projects/passive income with kids.

zrail 8 days ago 1 reply      
My book "Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails" continues to sell well, in the $2k range per month. It's not exactly passive, though, as I write blog posts and develop other related content in the same theme.


starik36 8 days ago 2 replies      
A stupid app, called That's Not Funny, that I wrote in 2008 or so to teach myself Android programming (when v1 came out) continues to make around $40 a month from ads.


I wrote it, released it, then to my surprise, it got a pretty massive amount of downloads. Over the years, I've updated it to new versions of the OS, but very minimal work.

Not a lot of money, but it wasn't a whole lot of effort either. It covers the internet bill.

driverdan 8 days ago 5 replies      
I'm currently earning around $45-60 a day mining cryptocurrencies with a little over $5000 in hardware. Once setup it's completely passive.

Edit: ROI could be improved a bit on this too since I intentionally bought hardware that was good to experiment with rather than optimizing ROI.

erikb 8 days ago 5 replies      
Why does everybody list books, webapps and mobile apps as passive income? I hope you created them yourself. Then they are not passive income but a product. Like every product they have a lifetime, then you need a new product. Therefore you actually have a first or second active business and not a passive income. "Passive income" is rent for condos you own, or having shares in your friend's profitable business that yields dividends etc. or did I completely misunderstand the meaning of that word?
drewolbrich 8 days ago 10 replies      
My iOS app that teaches you what a tesseract is and lets you manipulate it in 3D and 4D.


It blows my mind that people still find out about this app and happily buy it every day even though it occupies such a small geeky niche.

galfarragem 8 days ago 0 replies      
50/month with adsense and amazon affiliates. It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 4-5 hours each month, so it is not exactly passive...). It's a niche blog about architectural models: http://archimodels.info that I started as a hobby to learn about web development. I know that i'm near the bottom in the hierarchy of passive income but anyway I'm leaving my 2 cents.


- I agree with cdaven. Good content is better than SEO, but you only take the fruits 1-2 years later. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.

- Adsense is ugly but is the fastest way to monetise a blog. I was making 15/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have an text intensive blog go for image ads and for an image intensive blog go for text ads.

marban 8 days ago 1 reply      
If you're looking for some dropshipping insights (which the OP's link suggests), here's a nice story:http://www.ecommercefuel.com/selling-an-ecommerce-store/
guard-of-terra 8 days ago 3 replies      
Owning a flat in Moscow and renting it out? Easily 1000$/mo. You can live in Thailand on that money.
vrikis 8 days ago 1 reply      
I know this isn't entirely passive, but I occasionally rent my spare room on AirBnB. I'm quite clear that it's a basic room and if they use the kitchen etc. they need to clean up after themselves - this isn't a hotel I'm running... So there's basically no work to do other than cleaning the bedsheets, which I do as part of cleaning my bedsheets anyway... I do this for a maximum of 1week/month, which gets me roughly 4000/year and since it's tax exempt in Scotland (under lodger laws), it's the easiest money I've ever made.
TeeWEE 8 days ago 3 replies      
I created the app 3dweapons for Android about 2 1/2 years ago. (http://www.3dweapons.net) The free version was downloaded >1.7 million times. The paid version around 8k times.

I added adds from multiple sources (mopub, admob etc) and in app purchases.

For the paid app: In the top months (2 years ago) I made around 800 euro. But it dropped to 90 euro per month currently.For in app purchases: I am making 30 euro per month currently.For ads: Making about 200 euro per month currently.

earlz 8 days ago 0 replies      
My first source of passive income came this year. It's an app for rooting (and then fixing some problems on) a modem used for U-Verse(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.earlz.nvg5...). I've only made a handful of $100 bills with it, but the extra income is welcome.

The amount of work I've actually had to do was really quite little. I had to do initial development, and then fix some bugs. Then, it just sat there and brought in $5-20 a day. Eventually AT&T patched the original exploit I used for root access so I had to do research and development to find a new one and implement it, which took about 2 weeks or so. And since then, it's just been sitting there bringing in bits of money. I plan on adding some often requested features over the next month though

Also, I provided the app only for convenience. The information on how to root the modem for free is published freely on my blog, I just provide the app because I know that the steps required are too complicated for many people

qeorge 8 days ago 0 replies      
Making $2-300/month off Android apps (AdMob). Despite best efforts, this is dominated by a soundboard app. Not what I expected, but we'll take it!

Internet yellow pages, www.ablocal.com, doing quite well. Can't disclose metrics, but it makes more than you probably would guess.

Domain sales - again can't disclose specifics, but in the $xx,xxx range this year from domains. Not a huge portfolio, but some good ones.

And we just launched Gold Plugins (last Friday), a membership club for our premium WordPress plugins. Hoping it will become a good vehicle, although we do pride ourselves on awesome support, so not that passive. Previously, we were selling these plugins separately, for about $1k/month. No stats on the membership system yet.

Gold Plugins: http://goldplugins.com/

I have some others, but nothing that's making enough money to be interesting! I'll add more if I think of them; we have a bunch of random properties.

cdaven 8 days ago 1 reply      
I have a quite simple web site with some calculators for taxes and stuff, that I originally built in 2007. The Google AdSense and affiliate income has grown from about $1000 per year to almost $1000 per month.

It is "passive" in the sense that I respond to the occasional e-mail (once a month), update the data once a year, and add another calculator when I feel like it.

A few years back, I was in the same position with another (online casual gaming) website, that I sold for 2.5x the yearly revenue. Looking back, I should probably have kept that site as well.

Pro tip: quality content beats SEO in the long run. Be the tortoise.

joliss 8 days ago 2 replies      
My free-to-play Solitaire web app, at http://www.solitr.com/.

It's making a bit over $1,000 in monthly ad revenue. Traffic is at ~3k dailies.

I did this as a weekend project 2 years ago, and at some point migrated my blog to it to pick up DomainRank. Other than that I've mostly left it alone.

runn1ng 8 days ago 1 reply      
It will sound banal, but Bitcoins I bought year-and-something ago.
yummyfajitas 8 days ago 0 replies      
I make some passive income off affiliate link blogs. Not a lot, varies widely per month.

I've been making extra cash lately by running bandit algorithms to optimize the click through rate, basically choosing the optimal call to action. I've got a wordpress plugin which does that automatically which I've just made public:


nkuttler 8 days ago 1 reply      
Oh well, it's hardly an income but I created a rhyming dictionary years ago where one adsense container pays for all my personal hosting bills. http://rhymebox.com/ http://rhymebox.de/
tarball 8 days ago 1 reply      
At first I started with a Blogspot with a bunch of cat gifs and a couple of Google ads. Once I earned enough money to buy a domain name for this project, I bought http://catgifpage.com and designed a cheap-but-fun interface for the visitors I targeted.

As I am more a dog person, I decided one year (and about 1000) later to open http://doggifpage.com. It increased a bit my incomes but not so much. As you may know, the Internet loves cats, cats and cats!In 2013, I earned almost 4000 for about 10 fun hours of gif gathering!

I have some plans for 2014 but I want to keep this project fun and certainly not time-consuming.

quaffapint 8 days ago 0 replies      
Created a PHP ad server 'mySimpleAds' at http://www.clippersoft.net and continue to maintain support it. Brings in some money monthly to help with credit card bills. I get some referals from SO and the like, but also spend $ on Adwords. Last year created a hosted SAAS version at http://mysimpleads.com, but hasn't really taken off.

As always with my products - marketing and getting more people to see them is always a big problem. Once they use them, customers like them - it's getting them to the site to even see them.

I'm in the process of re-writing mySimpleAds and adding in a bunch of stuff, but I don't know if it will still be stuck in neutral and not bring in the folks. I'll also plan to write more products, figuring maybe that will bring people in.

dpiers 8 days ago 1 reply      
I made 10.35 BTC from mining dogecoins for the last month.
nader 8 days ago 2 replies      
Income is often called passive but essentially there is always something you need to do, monitor, improve or change in order to keep cash flow steady. If you don't, your income will decrease over time until reaching zero. It is surely easier to maintain "passive income" than to start from scratch.
frankydp 8 days ago 1 reply      
I have been running a simple career site for Marines for the last 2 years, and have now slowly grown to capture about half the Marine Corps monthly. It slowly drags in $400 a month and has been creeping up to the 5k mailing list mark. I work on it about a day a month, if that.
elliottkember 8 days ago 1 reply      
Running Hammer for Mac (hammerformac.com), our web-development OSX app. On a good day we might hit $100+ profit (after Apple's cut). Some days we don't get anything. It's rewarding to know that people are using it.
sirbrad 8 days ago 2 replies      
I created and sold Stickonspy (http://stickonspy.com) just after mid last year. The initial month I launched it did pretty well as the NSA news was still a pretty big deal. All in all it's made me < 1k but it's been great fun to build and ship a product from scratch. I've shipped to around 12 countries too which is cool. I also spent no money on marketing.

I'd say my time - which was evenings after work - investment was around 3-4 days initially and then fulfilling orders is simply writing a customers address and posting the stickers - which if the demand was bigger I'd probably outsource.

It's been great. I've learnt a shit tonne & the conversations it started has given me an idea for a similar product which I'll be focusing on very soon!

scotty79 8 days ago 3 replies      
Few bitcoin Antminers. They are paying as much as I'll be earning at my new job I'm starting with the beginning of the February. I basically cloned myself in terms of income by buying them. They should pay for themselves in 3-4 months. I'm not sure if that's passive income or capital gain though.
knorc 8 days ago 1 reply      
A website promoting ebooks about seduction : http://www.ebookseduction.com/ in french, english version coming soon)It's not a big business but it is good pocket money considering it takes me few hours of work per month.
kirk21 8 days ago 1 reply      
1) Selling Elon Musk t-shirts: http://www.zazzle.com/elonmuskspacemanDid not make that much but was great fun.

2) Helping my artistic friends selling their products. If you want to sell designer products, you can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dmyfzRwBbpcKAyRplHs0i2RMqsC...

easy_rider 8 days ago 0 replies      
I have great expectations of my DogeCoins!
ZanderEarth32 8 days ago 0 replies      
I've got an iOS app that I'm lucky if I get a sale or two a day. It was really more of a project to teach myself how to build iOS apps and be an accompaniment to an ebook my GF wrote that sells fairly well. I guess technically it hasn't 'made' any money since we're still in the red when factoring in the cost of the icon design, Apple dev account, etc.

I'm currently working on an app that is aimed at kids that should encourage them to write more and be creative. Hoping to get more traction with that.

aoakenfo 8 days ago 1 reply      
I make $0.70 cents (1 sale) every month from my iOS puzzle game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simpl/id672601351?ls=1&mt=8

In a few months I'll be able to buy myself a coffee! =)

dejv 8 days ago 1 reply      
I had created http://notationtraining.com in 2010 when I was learning how to play piano. I did update this project few times, but otherwise it is completely on its own. It makes only about 300 USD/month but I am quite happy with it as I am not doing anything to promote it or anything else.
smartician 8 days ago 0 replies      
Earning low three figures with my Android apps[1]. Haven't touched them since August, so I guess that counts as passive income. It's even still building momemtum[2], so maybe if I had spent some money on marketing it would have grown faster?

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Smartician

[2] https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/15...

Judson 8 days ago 2 replies      
I may have posted about this before, but http://askjud.com, a simple trick that you can play on your friends makes around $300/mo.

Its hosted on github, and costs $8/yr for the domain name.

cerberusss 8 days ago 1 reply      
Bought the app Sleep Cycle Calculator from its previous owner. Completely redid the interface for iOS 7, and I'm now finishing up a version with a custom UIView.

I paid a designer to completely redo the interface, but then iOS 7 happened. Lost a lot of customers with the transition, because I had to throw away the new design and start again.


weavie 8 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a trading simulator app for iOS. It's not a huge earner, but does give me some pocket money. It's not exactly passive either since I still develop on it, but I would probably be doing it anyway - the fact people buy it is just a bonus.


elbear 8 days ago 1 reply      
At the end of 2013 I launched http://www.comedylib.com/. It's a site with curated Youtube videos of comedians, comedy shows and comedy movies.

I built this out of my passion for comedy and because I wanted to have only comedy videos in one place and not the mix that Youtube offers. It's not making any money yet, but I haven't put much effort into promoting it so far.

jbrooksuk 8 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing as of yet. I used to receive donations from my blog and some Windows programs I've written: http://www.softpedia.com/developer/James-Brooks-12392.html but that seems to have dried up. I probably generated 100~ from all donations.

I'm now working on several iOS (http://james.brooks.so/contare-my-first-ios-app/) applications (paid) however I do intend to offer free versions with iAds.

I've also got an Android app on the Play Store that's made me a few quid; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jbrooksuk....

Apart from my iOS applications now, I intend to develop some SaaS apps that I can use to generate some more income.

rmc 7 days ago 0 replies      
Made some custom maps based on OpenStreetMap designed for reading on the Kindle. Have made about ~100 so far, but there's a lot more I could do.


The books themselves: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digita...

mhoad 8 days ago 2 replies      
Just in the middle of getting this up (was a way of teaching myself Rails) that works as an Affiliate style site for gadgets and cool gift ideas. http://fmhgifts.com/
iluvmylife 8 days ago 0 replies      
I made a super simple paid Android app with a list of interesting Physics Puzzles (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boredominn...). Took a month to make and now it is completely passive. Brings in some spare change with zero maintenance (~$50/month).

I built this in 2011 to learn app development (its a webapp built using PhoneGap). Took about a month of evening/weekend work to push out, and most of that time was consumed by collecting and creating interesting puzzles. It was featured on Google Play's Top Paid Educational Games leaderboard for a while, and that contributed to a spike in income. That apart, I haven't done/don't know of any viable means to promote it.

sgribley 8 days ago 2 replies      
I'm going to toss this out there - I've considered building an affiliate site in the porn space. I've looked at a couple API's and it looks easy. However, I have never built anything in this space - I just hear that there's money to be made so have been tempted. Let the flogging begin!
rk0567 8 days ago 0 replies      
$100+/mo (through adsense and affiliate programs) from http://assembleyourpc.net - a simple tool for assembling pc online. I spend 1-2 hours per month on some tweaks/updates.
someotheridiot 7 days ago 0 replies      
Rebrickable (http://rebrickable.com) shows you what you can build with your existing LEGO collection, including hundreds of fan contributed designs. Not truly passive as I work on it every day.
rajeevk 8 days ago 0 replies      
My first Android app: Scratchpad https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avabodh.sc...

I made it to learn Android development. It took me total of 5 days: 2 days to learn basic android stuff then next two days to develop this app and on last day creating dev account and publishing on Android store.

After publishing I forgot the password of signing key I used, so I never updated this app except for a description change. Initially there was almost no revenue but it increased over the time as the download count increased. After two year(of publishing), it is giving me around $70/per month through ads (admob).

gearoidoc 8 days ago 1 reply      
Hipster CEO - a tech startup sim. 6.5k downloads at $2.99 in the past 3 months.


jenno 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have a few things going on.

1. Income from ~5 non-fiction Kindle books for sale on Amazon. Around $100 a month, though at one point when I was more heavily marketing them it went up to $900-$1000. Would be great to spend more time on this and automate a system where I have a couple of assistants doing this for me around the clock (marketing and book creation).

2. Income from a single Youtube video which links to a simple blog (about solar power) with Adsense ads. I get about 50 cents to a dollar a day from this.

3. I used to work for a jewelry firm doing SEO, going into their office on weekdays. Had to quit later, so I asked if I could do the work from home and send a work log each week. They pay me $300 per week for simple social media and blog posts. I pay a girl in Pakistan (who has good English skills) $70 per week to do the work for me. She's very good and I'm thankful to have her. They have no clue.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to speak about these things / wanna brainstorm.

heumn 8 days ago 1 reply      
My app and side project "lolipop". An "instagram for gifs and funny images"-niche app. 100k + downloads.

Gotten hugely popular in Norway. Released a revamped iOS 7 version to the US last week (?). Things are going slow over there. Not even reached 1000 downloads.

Traffic always spike during 23:00 - 03:00 when kids should be sleeping... 99% of users lurk and browse reddit/9gag/imgur some contribute (no account needed for browsing).

Link for the lazy:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lolipop-funny-images-gifs/id...

acconrad 8 days ago 1 reply      
I bring in 5-7k a year DJing and personal training. They're technically "work" but I'm literally getting paid to live out my hobbies I already do for myself, which to me is passive income. I would, however, like to turn a programming side project into something that's passive income.
vcherubini 8 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a book titled "Expert PHP Deployments" on how to deploy any PHP application using Vagrant, Capistrano, and Phing.


It hasn't made me rich, but it usually sells about a copy a day. I love that it's entirely passive. I wrote it, published it, and it just sits there on my website making money.

It's also been a good way to build a list of people who would be interested in other things I make.

PS. Use coupon code "hn" for $2 off if you're interested.

napolux 8 days ago 0 replies      
I have 2 iOS apps that are selling something like 5 copies per day each.

One is an iOS text clipboard manager (with iCloud sync) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/copycopy-clipboard-manager/i...

The other one, for the lazy students in the italian market, is a database you can use also offline of recaps from books you study in school, with in app purchases..https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iriassunti-riassunti-di-ital...

They are both in the 4/5 star ratings

sovok 8 days ago 0 replies      
A silly project for playing with Unicode (s l) and ASCII Art. About 900 visits per day, 10 per month income. Almost pays for the server.


parax 8 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote a sci-fi short novel that received a good feedback (surprisingly not at Amazon, where nobody has reviewed it). It's placed at the iBookstore and the Kindle store, and it sells some units from time to time:



NateG 8 days ago 1 reply      
I created a web game called Pit of War (http://www.pitofwar.com) about three years ago and it has been generating enough monthly income to pay all my bills and affords me the ability to travel and live anywhere I like. It isn't completely passive but that is because I choose to add new features and updates. It is a niche game but the Internet is a big place with lots of people. :) Books like The Long Tail and The Curve have taught me that you don't need to have the #1 product in an industry to make a good living.
jophde 5 days ago 0 replies      
I make about $300-$500 a month on my Android app Valet. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.valetapp
ivanyv 5 days ago 1 reply      
12 years ago I started a vertical social network for schools. We tried to hustle and visited schools one by one to sign them up. It crashed. Hard. Over time it evolved into a simple school directory, and after 3 years or so, it started making consistently about $300/month on AdSense. Revenue continued to rise (slowly), and now somedays it breaks $200/day. In the last 10 years I've spent like a week at most on the site.

Weren't it for years of stupid decisions (and a family, the one best decision ever though), I could almost live comfortably off of that.

Motivated by breaking $100/day a few months ago and now $200, I'm using it as a sort of template to launch other sites. By this time next year I might actually break $10,000/month and then finally relax :)

qzervaas 8 days ago 0 replies      
I made this PHP library about 5 years ago:


Probably make 2-3 sales/yr which is always a nice surprise. It comes up first when you Google "escapianet php"

I also wrote a PHP book in 2007. I still get royalty cheques, although they've almost approached 0 - the last quarter was about $30 ;)

Most of my income now is from app sales.

xsNzgw8 8 days ago 1 reply      
http://pressbulgaria.com - it is a SaaS for sending press release to the media. This tool gives the citizens a lot of power to ring the alarm on certain problems. Also my customers use it as channel for promoting books, exhibition, events, etc

We have a tor hidden service for anonymous submissions. We offer free service for whistleblowers, that want to stay anonymous (and can't pay us).

tempestn 8 days ago 1 reply      
SearchTempest.com got to the point where it was my main gig about 5 years ago, although it's since leveled off. Like anything, you end up being pretty active if you want to continue making that "passive" income. :
kelu124 7 days ago 1 reply      
I've had www.rickshawart.org for a now.. two years. Not making a lot of money, still a no-loss project, and a ethical, profit-sharing one =)

The structure is a tad special in that we have no fixed costs (apart from the hosting part).

Any feedback of course is appreciated - that's really niche, and we're wondering how to move forward when our product is that special.

yozhik 8 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.dicerealm.com makes me minus $5 per month, but it was mostly an experiment to validate some of the advice from Start Small Stay Small (http://www.amazon.com/Start-Small-Stay-Developers-Launching-...), which is a fantastic book.
podviaznikov 8 days ago 0 replies      
My gf did couple of CSS animations(icons, js components etc) over the years. Then we published them to Envato marketplace and got some monthly income around 100USD per month.See link (referral): http://themeforest.net/item/animated-404-or-maintainance-pag...
mmayberry 8 days ago 2 replies      
I own/operate a luxury resale business that specializes in high end womens fashion, art, cars, and collectibles. My only time expense is picking up the items... everything else I have automated. On a good month I can clear $10K+ and on a bad month $2-3K. I do all this without any advertising and the primary selling point of my business is thats its discreet and anonymous.
namigop 8 days ago 1 reply      
I started wcfstorm (http://www.wcfstorm.com) about 4 years ago. I started out with just 1 product and has now added 2 more. The income is pretty nice. It usually exceeds my monthly salary. I love it when some stackoverflow users recommend it to others when a question gets posted about WCF testing.
peacemaker 8 days ago 1 reply      
I make about $400 a month quite passively by selling software with Envato. Just the occasional comment and email which takes 5 - 10 minutes a day at most.I also sell a beginners book on creating and selling WordPress plugins which only sells one or two a week.

I have a bunch of cool stuff out there but my biggest weakness is marketing. I can never seem to drive enough targeted traffic to my projects.

mephju 8 days ago 0 replies      
I spent more than some time to create a Shopify admin app for Android, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopify.ad.... It's up and running and generates already some money each month (60$ - 100$). Zero marketing, just Google Play.I wanted the app to be so much better than it is right now but unfortunately Shopify will release their own Android app soon which will render my app useless. It's quite devastating. So I consider this endeavor a failure. Now I am on the lookout for a new project idea. I think I will stay in the ecommerce realm since I like it very much and think it's easier to make money with merchants than with ordinary consumers. In case anyone would like to team up, my email is in my profile ;)
harvestmoon 8 days ago 2 replies      
I wrote a book on adult ADHD. I published it 3.5 years ago, and it brought in $75 last month.

It used to bring in more, but some people wrote very negative reviews which were upvoted, so its sales dropped.

I don't feel too bad because many people who read it say it is unusually helpful and accessible.

vuzum 8 days ago 0 replies      
Let's see. There's a few somewhat passive channels for us.

We just launched our product Blogvio (http://www.blogvio.com) which is yet break even. Right now we're only partnering with platforms to white label our Editor and widgets, but we'll soon release a pricing plan for all users of the website.

Our 2008 marketplace Flabell (http://www.flabell.com) (flash products... I know) is still going strong, although we too think Flash is dead. People still buy those components, so we still provide support for them. We stopped advertising though a few years back. :-)

Same goes for our Flash Components on ActiveDen, these still sell a couple of hundreds every month. So it's still passive income after 6yrs+. :)

than 8 days ago 0 replies      
The Random Amazon Product Generator brings in enough for a small book purchase every few weeks. It's still mostly for my own amusement. (http://thanland.com/projects/random-amazon/)
AJay17 8 days ago 1 reply      
Not much to mine, but they seem to be doing pretty well.

http://www.thingsunder15.com and http://www.myfancysauce.com

bernatfp 8 days ago 0 replies      
At the moment I only have a source of passive income, which is through mining Litecoin with a couple miners I have.
johnydepp 8 days ago 2 replies      
firstplanthendo 8 days ago 2 replies      
Somewhat different area, but earns me around $300 a month- Churning credit cards for rewards. So called award/travel hacking. 2 new credit cards per calendar quarter, conservatively estimate each signup bonus is worth $600 (if you know how to redeem them, usually that means for travel).

Have to live in the U.S. and have good credit to do it, but Ive been at it for a few years now and havent paid for airfares or barely any lodging costs on almost all my travel. Working on an online class that teaches how to do it, looking to sell that for some real passive income.

alain34 8 days ago 0 replies      
https://www.bankaccountchecker.com enable the validation of UK bank account (web app and API). It is not making loads of money but I get enough traffic to pay for summer holiday. I often get request for the logic behind the API. the sort code file is also selling well.I have created another saas service at http://www.conceptuel.co.uk/burnDown/ but there is not enough demand to make it a profitable passive income.
davidpaulkrug 8 days ago 0 replies      
I recently started a jobs site that makes about 10 dollars a day in affiliate revenue and adsense. Rolling out a network of them.


jesalg 8 days ago 0 replies      
Not nearly as successful as some of the other guys here but I have couple of avenues for passive income:

1) I make a few bucks a month off my reddit client: http://www.ruddl.com - I pay $0 for hosting on Heroku so I'm more or less net positive.

2) I also make a few bucks off my blog in tips: http://jes.al/blog/

I'm working on ideas for a SaaS product or even a book to add to that list.

easymovet 8 days ago 1 reply      
donniefitz2 8 days ago 0 replies      
I spent 10 minutes creating this coffee mug and I've made about $80 selling them over the past year on Zazzle. I plan to add more soon. http://www.zazzle.com/go_away_im_coding_coffee_mug-168224001...
xiphias 8 days ago 1 reply      
Bitcoin :-)
nonsens3 8 days ago 1 reply      
I have just released http://selfstream.io - a platform for event organizers to host and live stream their events. Right now making a negative $25 for hosting, without counting a small ad campaign on Google Adwords.
LaurentGh 8 days ago 1 reply      
I'll try to start an ecommerce for France, following the other ones who specialize themselves in just one kind of well made product, like socks (www.archiduchesse.com), or underpants (www.leslipfrancais.fr).Coming soon ;)
mokkol 8 days ago 1 reply      
Im currently building a client proposal service specially for designers: http://nusii.com

Not getting much passive income yet but I hope 2014 will be our year :-)

yasith 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have an Android app that's use to find local bus times for my area. It makes around 150$ per month after optimizing AbMob ads. It generated around 50$ per month at first.
blakerson 8 days ago 0 replies      
The Music Virtual University (http://www.musivu.co) does four-figure sales+RR monthly, a year after starting and just working nights/weekends.
meerita 8 days ago 0 replies      
Reading all the comments made me think the only passive income I ever had was my blog. Trough my blog I've got all the consulting opportunities and made quite a lot.
ankit70 8 days ago 1 reply      
I make around $200/month from my crappy articles at http://ankitkumar.in and affiliate marketing.
foxhop 8 days ago 0 replies      
most of the comments relate more to residual income not passive income. I think passive income is mostly a fallacy and the only thing that comes to mind is saving accounts and bonds.
leoplct 8 days ago 0 replies      
I made -20$/month hosting


0800899g 4 days ago 0 replies      
Your best passive income
delpino73 8 days ago 0 replies      
I run a couple of language learning sites. Doesn't make me rich but pays the rent. :)


burning 8 days ago 0 replies      
We're Shutting Down and I'm Scared startupsanonymous.com
363 points by danaseverson  1 day ago   188 comments top 54
tptacek 1 day ago 14 replies      
Been there.

* If your payables and debts are all in the company's name, nobody is coming for your house. The likelihood that your business was going to die before you could pay all your debts was priced into your contracts. If you have employees, pay them and get them off your books first; employee wages are, depending on the state you're in, the one likely exception to that rule.

* If they were in your name, well, that sucks, but still nobody is coming for your house. Your credit rating will probably absorb all the damage. I've had shitty credit all my life, so much so that it used to make it hard to get checking accounts (I'm not a deadbeat, I just don't have revolving credit, and do have billing disputes that I don't have time to resolve). Shitty credit is not that big of a deal. Just don't use credit.

* It sounds like your wife is right. The existence of startups isn't a guarantee that you'll never need to work for someone else again. The normal life cycle of a startup founder is, (1) work for someone else, (2) start company, (3) run company into ground, (4) goto 1. Think of it this way: had your company been successful, it almost certainly would have left you in a state where you'd be working for someone else for a couple years during your earnout. "Not working for someone else" was never really on the table.

* Getting a company funded and then running it is a resume plus. You won't have more trouble getting another job than you did getting the one you left to start this company.

* Your investors expected you to fail. The odds were always overwhelmingly that you would. The whole startup investment model is, put money into 10 companies, hope 1 succeeds. Your investors are professionals. Let their problems remain their problems.

* Are you going to get ridiculed for failing? Obviously, you're not an HN reader. You'd have gotten ridiculed for succeeding. Ridicule is the air we breathe. Why do you care?

* Most small companies start from nothing. That's good news, because "nothing" is an easy state to achieve. Give yourself a couple years, and then try again.

GuiA 1 day ago 2 replies      

As your post seems to indicate, you're scared shitless right now and it seems like the entire world is coming to an end. Trust me, even if it really seems that way, it's not.

For now, grit your teeth and go through the bad stuff. Tell your wife. Be honest with her. No matter what, she's your wife for a reason- she'll support you through all of this. If you neglected your relationship with her a bit because of the startup thing, then she comes first now. Then tell your investors. Tell your employees. Tell whoever else you need to tell. Be honest, genuine and straightforward. The next few weeks are going to suck big time, but you'll get through them.

Once the big stuff is behind you, take a few weeks to breathe, if possible financially. You're coming to the end of a long, arduous journey, and that's always something hard to process. Try to find joy in the little things that you didn't have the time for during your founder mode. Have brunch with your wife. Go take a walk alone in the forest. Read a book. Take time to recover.

You will find another job. You don't realize this right now, but having run a startup for 2 years gives you more skills and experience than others have developed in a lifetime. If you have to take a job right away because of financial hardships, take something low stress (consulting/freelance could be a good choice, for the flexibility, although it can be hard to get started with no leads). Now is probably a bad time to do another startup. Also, you probably want to use this as a lesson to remember that you should always have ~6 months of expenditures in the bank that you NEVER touch precisely for situations like this one.

Don't worry about the investors. It's part of their job - you're not the first startup that they funded that failed, and you're not the last either. Be professional with them- if you want to do a startup again in the future they will remember your honesty and ethics more than the fact that your startup failed.

You ran a startup for 2 years. Solely by doing that, you've gone further on the path of entrepreneurship than 99.999% of people who call themselves "entrepreneurs" have. Take time to grieve, but also take time to see all that you have accomplished.

If you still feel depressed after a month or two, go talk to a professional therapist/psychiatrist. Sometimes we need a little external help.

It's going to be OK. :)

dsr_ 1 day ago 3 replies      
Reminder for people who are running startups and are in serious relationships: nothing should be a secret from your spouse/partner. Especially money.

Maybe they're supporting you so you can recycle every dollar of revenue back into the business. Maybe you're gambling your shared savings on the success of your venture. Maybe you've got a good financial position and your family will be safe no matter what.

It doesn't matter. Tell your spouse. Get their advice. You don't have to take it, but they are a valuable resource to you, someone you can trust to listen to you, keep your secrets and have a different perspective.

It should not come as a surprise to him/her that the shutdown is likely; the shock of "no, it's definitely over" should only be a small bump.

Then you can both live through it, and go on to the next thing you have to do.

laureny 1 day ago 3 replies      
> But, I cant imagine working for somebody else. I wish my wife understood that.

She's understood it long enough to let you pursue the dream of your life at great costs for her, maybe now it's time for you to do some sacrifice for her and go work for someone?

You're not the first one to have to do that and, you know, survive.


pbiggar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been there. I shut down my YC startup about 3 1/2 years ago. It was covered in the press more than my launch was! Shutting down was a huge weight off my mind - we weren't successful and nothing was going to make it so.

You raised money and have employees. Worry about the employees. Get them new jobs in great startups by actively going through your network and making sure they get new jobs that they'll love with teams they'll enjoy.

Dont' worry about the investors. They've lost money before. If you raised from non-professionals, then you may have to apologize. Mean it.

Tell your wife, obviously. You probably don't need to worry about money too much - now you can take a low-stress job at high pay and get back what you lost doing the startup.

Also, please feel free to reach out: paul@circleci.com

dchuk 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you can run a startup, you're employable as a consultant to at least enough people to make ends meet. Reach out to your personal networks and try and stem the tide a bit.

We've all been there at some point in our life, there's nothing shameful about working for others to make ends meet. And even though most of us hate the idea of working for other people, at some points in life you have to put your ego and pride aside and just bite the bullet and do some damn work to pay the bills.

Life is long, failure is temporary. You didn't crash an airplane with 300 people in it, you just didn't succeed at business, an extremely common occurrence. Just keep truckin'.

(I realize OP is not the anonymous poster in question)

eoghan 1 day ago 4 replies      
If you're in SF, LMK if you want a sounding board and someone to talk to in confidence. I'll buy you a beer. Help you get your head straight. eoghan@intercom.io
akbar501 1 day ago 0 replies      
1.) I hope you are over playing the despair part, but if you really feel that every sucks then you should speak a professional to help give you perspective. Seriously, your mental health matters.

2.) Create a list of everything you need to do, then start to work through it.

a.) Have a conversation with your wife. Inform her about what's happening, what issues you're facing, and ask her about her thoughts. Get on the same page, that way there are two of you working through this. What's her game plan? She'll likely have some action items that should go onto your list.

Get your emotions out, but then move on. I've been doing the startup thing for 14+ years and married for 8+. I cannot emphasize enough that you should not overburden your spouse. She's got a lot on her plate now, so get your emotions out once (if you're into that), then stay upbeat.

b.) Schedule a meeting with your investors. Have a set agenda, use a PowerPoint (or other presentation software) that outlines your current status, etc. Also, show that you are a professional by showing them you have a plan/budget/timeline to shutdown the business.

Your investors are professionals. They know that a large percent of early startups fail. What they will want from your is professionalism.

Also, ask for their input. What do they need you to do?

c.) Legal: Speak with your attorney (this can also be before #b). Get their input on your legal checklist.

You must shutdown the business correctly. Your attorney will be a big asset. Keep your meeting with them professional and focused. Don't waste time on emotions in this meeting.

d.) Schedule a team meeting and speak with your employees. Help them transition if you can. If you're overwhelmed, which it sounds like, then tell them you'll be happy to give glowing references. This is easy and will require minimal work on your part while keeping the relationship alive.

As with #a, don't overburden your employees with your emotions. Sorry, but complaints flow up, not down. They will have their own pressures, and your job as a manager is to help assuage their fears and help them see that everything will be ok.

e.) It sounds like you don't have kids. Yah! Seriously, grab a beer. This is so much easier without kids.

f.) Fill-in this list with input from everyone above plus your co-founders.

g.)It's only Tuesday. Get moving and this done before the weekend.

3.) Debt: To any first time founders, please allocate budget to shutting down a business. Experience matters here, and it's best practice to know your shutdown costs, to budget for them, and to have the professionalism to shut the business down when you have just enough money to close up shop. You should pay debts, invoices that are due, employee salaries, legal fees to shutdown, etc.

To the OP, create a list of assets/liabilities. If you can sell assets to pay for liabilities then do it. Be cool about who you owe money to. If these are other small businesses / startups, then try to make your debt whole.

shmerl 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Im broke and its not fair to my wife to go any longer without pay... I cant imagine working for somebody else.

In such circumstances one might need to do what's required, and not what one would like to. I hope his wife will explain that to him.

flyinglizard 1 day ago 0 replies      
How you deal with the process and its fallout will be a defining moment for you as a person. Be upfront, be honest, and don't worry to much. Life goes on. You're in the best place and time there ever existed to fail and move on.

The best advice I can give you is that the sky will clear the moment you absolve yourself of the responsibilities. You'll be a free, earning man again. Things will only look up, and very quickly the ideas will start flowing again.

Take your wife for a talk. Explain to her how it's going to be, and that you'll be looking for a job the moment you've turned off the lights. You will have some peace, comfort and certainty soon that will allow you to think clearly, and later on, establish a learning process of everything you've gone through.

Someone around these parts said that the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur is managing your own psychology. It's time you get a hold on yours and own the situation.

Good luck!

mbesto 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's one of the most important lessons I've learned about startup life:

There is a fundamental difference between being poor and being broke.

Being broke implies you don't have enough cash or expected cash flow to cover your debt - but it doesn't mean you haven't accumulated wealth. Being poor means you neither have cash nor wealth. The OP is simply broke, but not poor.

Knowledge from failing a business is (IMHO) one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ways to accumulate intelligence in business. That is extremely valuable.

mironathetin 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Been there too. Here is the lesson to learn:If you got funded and have to pay invoices, employees (including yourself), never hope for more investment. Shrink and - if necessary - finally close your business before (!!!!) you run out of money. This is true for startups, businesses, household budget, pocket money, girlfriends (hrmmm), etc.

Startup is a high risk, the statistical odds are against you. Investors know that. If they see you fail, they will not tell you, they will simply stop to invest (and may be think, you will go on to save their a...). Hope that you may find new investment means, you did not start looking early enough to know the odds.

I (we) were at the same position in 2001 when the internet bubble burst. I am happy to report, that our business needed heavy investment (like yours did) and it became clear to us, that there will be no more investment for internet business in the foreseeable future. So we did shut down with money on the bank, paid our debts, bought out our gadgets from the company and divided the money that we paid for the gadgets among the shareholders (us :o). Both of us founders saw the startup as a business not as our baby. So we were able to look at it from a kind of outside perspective. This was not the reason why it failed, though, but it lifted us at eye level with the investors.

The way we handled it allowed us to book it as a very interesting experience. We were immediately able to look forward.

But, here is the positive side: You got investments (a lot even), you survived for 2 years, which is great. Now get together with your co-founders in a nice place, drink a bottle or two of good wine and analyze your mistakes.

Sorry to say this now that it is late for you. But next time ...

kordless 1 day ago 0 replies      
Speaking from experience, failure is essential to becoming a good entrepreneur. I've heard we learn more from failure than any other learning technique. At no time are you more present in this life when you are failing, of that I can personally assure you.

I applaud your ability to share your failure with others, even in an anonymous way. Wherever you go and whatever positive choices you make next will guide you to the thing you were meant to do.

poulsbohemian 1 day ago 0 replies      
About 18 months ago I was laid off from an executive position at a company I'd been with about 5 years. At the same time, I was trying to bootstrap a business on the side, I'm the sole breadwinner in our household, three little kids, and I had a house that was underwater that we couldn't sell due in large part to all the foreclosures in the area that were the competition. To make it worse, we had moved to a very remote, rural area for family reasons, so had two houses to cover, and zero job possibilities anywhere in the area. Eighteen months later, that side project has folded (which I'm ok with), the other house is sold, and I'm doing well consulting (and with minimal travel). Will your story 18 months from now be rosy and happy? I don't know, but I suspect if you are the kind that would take the risk to start up a business, you are the kind that will hustle to do whatever it takes to first reach a point of survival and then the road back to thriving.
rdl 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Most debt dies with the company. Tax debt (especially employee payroll withholdings) is really the only kind of I know which carries on, along with any personal debts which won't get reimbursed (which I got burned by, on credit cards, several times).

It's all surprisingly easy to walk away from, at least in the US, and particularly with normal professional investors.

skwirl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't have any particular advice to give, but, assuming nothing improper happened here, if you gave it your best, there is nothing wrong with failure. Failure is part of the system. Your investors and employees realize that startups are a risky venture. There are plenty of jobs out there and your employees will land on their feet.

I have nothing but respect for startup founders who did their best and came up short. I hope that the experience you've gained serves you well throughout your career and one day you can look back and appreciate the experience. Good luck going forward.

clarky07 23 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting, currently my business (bootstrapped and small) is doing just fine. Profitable, making more than I used to working for someone else, and I'm STILL scared shitless most of the time. The wife and I want to build a house and have kids and that sort of thing, and it all scares me.

The really interesting thing though is that in general working for yourself is not much if any more risky than working for someone else. Sure if you are at Apple or Google it's unlikely they are going out of business, but companies big and small go bankrupt all the time. Layoffs happen all the time. That's the way things work. You just have to make yourself valuable and work hard. Especially in our business, if you are remotely competent it isn't hard to find work right now.

I really should find a way to feel less stressed. Things are mostly fine, and I know for a fact that I could get a job tomorrow if I wanted/needed to. "Failure" for me would likely mean taking a high paying dev job at a great company that I respect. I should just relax and do good work and hope for the best. It's hard though, and I see where the OP is coming from.

eli 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some investors insist on a personal bond, but yeah, that's obviously something you should avoid if at all possible.
ojbyrne 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We didnt leave enough money in the bank to pay off our debt, so now we need to tell people we cant pay. Are they going to come after me, or my house and my car? Im broke and Im scared."

Hoping the "well-known accelerator" knew their stuff and the company was structured appropriately so that's not an issue.

paultannenbaum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sympathize with most of this post, but the one thing that I don't get is this line:

"I cant go much longer without a paycheck. But, I cant imagine working for somebody else. I wish my wife understood that."

If the author really is as down and out as he claims to be, I think somebody offering him good money to get his life back on track might be something that is welcome. He can always work for himself once things straighten out.

omegote 1 day ago 2 replies      
> I cant imagine working for somebody else. I wish my wife understood that.


piratebroadcast 1 day ago 1 reply      
Get over it and work for someone else, run a few side projects/experiments on the weekend and after hours. Your wife is counting on you.
ig1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talk to your accelerator and your other investors (assuming they're typical startup investors), they'll have seen plenty of other startups fail and will be able to give you advice how to handle the situation.

They'll also know which of their other startups are hiring and should be able to setup introductions to help you and your employees get accelerated interviews, etc. to help with the transition.

panther2k 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm there right now (minus the high-profile accelerator and funded part so I had even less success). It sucks. I'm exhausted. But I'm broke so I need a job. I can hack stuff together but I'm more of a junior level dev so not sure how attractive I am to a Silicon Valley startup.

I thought I knew what it took to be successful, so I quit my wall street job and drove out to San Francisco to JFDI. I even lived in my car for nine months to save money. It would be worth it once the business took off. It never did. So I started another one, which failed too. When you work non-stop, every waking hour for almost two years and fail at everything, you realize you don't have it all figured out. At all.

The scary part of failing is asking yourself, what the heck do I do now? And you don't know the answer.

Probably should have made this a throwaway. Oh well.

gavinbaker 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It is hard to be where you are. Thankfully life does move forward.

In my case we had a couple million invested in the world changing idea. Saying we failed was very very hard. Hard to tell my friends, our industry partners and my parents.

What I did - was take a long walk to my favorite rock on the lake. And I sat there in the cold and watched birds fly and fish eat and the sky change. I cried tears of frustration and of grief, for the possibilities that wouldn't be.

I then went back the office and made a list of things we needed to do. In my case our investors saw it coming because we'd missed key milestones for additional funding. Our team was small and I'd been open with them about missing the milestones.

We negotiated out of our contracts and made our final payments. In our case our board had made it clear we needed "wind down money" in the bank and we had it.

It wasn't easy, not by a long shot. At the end I was drained. I took two months off. I slept, I prayed, I read and I journaled. You may not be able to do all of that, but give yourself a break.

What I wished I had was someone to talk to who understood what I was going through. Plenty of people fail in business, but not many have a lot of money backing it, a lot of people believing in it and you feel like you let them down. Take up the offers of help to talk in person. I'd be glad to sit and listen if you want. The good news is that the sun will rise tomorrow and it will be a new day. And while it won't feel great, you will get through all of this.

eli 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Will [out investors] forgive us? Will any investor ever trust us again?"

These are professional investors putting money into an early stage startup, right? I'm certain they were aware going in that they might not get their money back. (And, in fact, that this was the most likely outcome.)

patrickod 1 day ago 0 replies      
Take some time to decompress. The winding down period is stressful and it seems you're already feeling the effects.

As many have mentioned you've only enriched your resume with this experience. Use it to find yourself work, your incubator network should be full of people looking to hire.

I've gone through this and it's stressful as all hell but you'll make it through. With your nose right up against it the problems seem much more formidable than they are in reality. Employees come first in terms of settling debts. Deal with vendors after that.

One point I'd really stress is that you should talk to people about it. Feel free to reach out (p@trickod.com)

aaronpeck 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think what you're going to find out is letting go will actually be a huge relief. You're going to bumble around feeling like a worthless piece of shit for a few weeks and then ideas will start boiling over in your mind. Before you know it you'll be writing a business plan or prototyping something new and you'll be armed with this failure as a roadmap of what not to do. You sir will be a-ok.

PS. Not having any money at least once in your life is something everyone should go through. You'll be surprised at how well you eat and live when you thought you'd be homeless. You'll also realize how much bullshit you have in your house or services you pay for that you really don't need. Good luck - you won't need it.

jonhmchan 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a dark time, but you can work for someone else. Most of us do.
dodyg 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been having my business for 10 years - which almost died twice.

The business is not about you. Yes you are the founder but you are just part of the machination to make it work.

When the business fails, it's not a judgement on your character or your moral. Failure sucks. Tell the truth your employees ASAP. Deal with the fall out directly.

If you need to downgrade your lifestyle, do it. It is better than having the anxiety to put up with un-affordable lifestyle.

More importantly - don't be an ass to your wife. If you need to get a job, get a job. There's plenty of time to try again in the future.

ninive 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a CTO and a serial entrepreneur, and i'm into this business since i was a kid. 6 years ago after a very intense splash in a huge famous company in US, I've decided to take a break, and fly to the Caribbean to open a sushi restaurant. My girlfriend is a successful F&B manager so i took all the suggestions I can handled from her, and opened it. After 12 months, was a complete failure. The first of my life. I was really scared to lose everything but just the time to close and open my eyes, solutions were there. Time and focus are very helpful. I didn't drop. I've found a re-start partner, took my girlfriend with me in business to advice and manage, changed style, and finally sold it to at least break even all the debts and have some vacation, ready to go back to the Internet. The break lasted 4 years at the end, and was the most important time of my life, looking at it from here now. The major growth of your soul. Keep the energy and focus, be sincere, and for sure something good is going to happen. And your second time is going to be ridiculous easier, trust me. Good luck.
sytelus 1 day ago 1 reply      
ummm... Didn't we invented a marvelous escape hatch called "aqui-hires" exactly for this situations? If you have even moderately connected investors, you should be able to get aqui-hired in a week or two, very likely sipping pina colada on a Caribbean beach to stretch out before you start the new job with giant bonus vesting schedule that beats any of your colleges. Plus you get to update your Linked-In profiles with "CEO & Founder of Fantastic Startup (Acquired by whatever)". There are no loosers in startup world anymore, AFAIK.
hidingmyname 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote http://mystartuphas30daystolive.tumblr.com

Like you, I raised money, went through a top accelerator and had a wild ride that doomed in failure.

It's ok to be terrified. It's ok to hurt. Fear paralyzes. You will pull your socks up and do what you need to do. It'll hurt more than you know. You'll quickly separate your real friends from the rest. And then something amazing will happen, your life will go on.

The first thing you'll notice is how much of life you've missed while riding the startup "high life". Big things like love, family, reality will suddenly become clearer and no longer dimmed by the tinnitus of whatever TechStars derivative you've been through.

The next is that you're a hell of a lot wiser. You'll find a job and you'll start performing. You'll look like a legend because the pace and agility you learned to work at during your startup days will make you a rockstar anywhere you decide to put your talents to use.

Your performance will bring more money, and power (to a degree) than you've ever made before. You'll make up for lost time.

And then, like all of us, you'll hear the siren song of entrepreneurship beckon you out into the world again. You'll pick up the pieces and start anew.

Ride the wave, brother/sister. Godspeed.

diydsp 1 day ago 0 replies      
yeah, my thoughts echo what most other people said: just keep your eyes wide open and observant so you can use this experience for next time! e.g. keep a journal and write stuff down so you remember...

I was at a code review recently with several people who had clearly never been through a major failure such as a start up going under (i've been through several...) and the difference in our viewpoints was apparent to me. This is valuable experience you're getting.

pdq 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the "My Startup has 30 Days to Live Blog": http://mystartuphas30daystolive.tumblr.com/
peterjancelis 1 day ago 1 reply      
You really should look for a job. There's nothing wrong with it. Look at it as starting a consulting business with just 1 client, get to know your 'client' and start suggesting ways you can make more money together - then charge a cut to do so.
smtddr 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are all kinds of failed start-ups. As long as you know you didn't scam anyone and you can explain to your investors what happened and show accounting-books detailing how it all unfolded, and you learned something during this whole experience, you'll be alright in the long term. You can always try again. Maybe YCombinator(or GoogleVentures or whoever) should have a support-group for failed start-ups so people can share their experiences and know that they're not alone. Assuming you're in tech, investors know the gamble. I'm sure they know at least half the start-ups they invest in ultimately fail.

That said, one slightly harsh bit of advice:

>>But, I cant imagine working for somebody else. I wish my wife understood that.

You need to get over that. Working for someone else(after a short break perhaps) is basically recharging your funds and your mind while you think about your next company. For all you know, you might run into your next co-founder in your new job. It's hard to think about the distant future when you're not even sure how to put food on the table tomorrow.

richardlblair 11 hours ago 0 replies      
congrats! You failed! I'm serious. I know it's hard to see now, but so often life's greatest successes are born out of failure.

Hang tight. Things will work out.

iterable 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stay strong dude. I'm sure you'll make it through and figure it out. Many have made it back from far worse situations. You can do it.
timmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are smarter than this. Why do we accept this as a normal part of our industry. There are ways to avoid this, the anxiety, heart ache, and lack of dent in the universe.

Let's learn from this.

danthewireman 1 day ago 0 replies      
A big first professional failure is like breaking up with your first girl/boyfriend - it feels like the entire world is ending. After you find out that it didn't, it can be wildly liberating because you won't really be scared of failure any more. I recommend a few massive fuckups in any career.
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not as bad as you think. You're alive. You have your health (hopefully). Tomorrow you'll most likely be alive and still have your health. This is the starting point.

Those that love you came along for the ride. If you tried as hard as you could, and you took this gamble with their blessing, you do not owe them an apology -- although it wouldn't hurt to give one. They'll still love you and you'll still be making decisions together.

Debt is bad, but they don't throw you in jail for being in debt, at least in the states. Do some studying on dealing with creditors. It's a game like any other game, and it helps if you know the rules. Plenty of folks in debt who are living happy and fulfilled lives. It's not the end of the world.

As to whether you'll be viewed as a failure or not, this depends on your peers and your culture. I suggest you hang out with people who view this as a badge of honor. Life sucks enough without having friends who stomp on you while you're down.

Family is another matter. Can't pick your family. But you can set some ground rules for interacting with them. If you need money from them, be prepared to do things you wouldn't normally do. After all, it's only fair to let them drive a bit if you're needing their help.

It's nothing but a thing. It can be hugely disasterous, or it can be a slight bump in the road. The difference is all between your ears, inside your head. You get to decide how to view this part of your life -- great adventure continues or yet another failure. I suggest you choose wisely.

atmosx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't have any advice to offer, but it's the best story/post that I've read about startups. I think is exactly what you have to read, before jumping into the startup wagon. Then, you're ready to go, if your gut can take it
tobinharris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Think of the first time you had to build a solution to a problem you didn't understand. It's scary with lots of unknowns.

Seeing your company collapsing is scary, and you don't know how to deal with it. There are lots of unknowns.

In the end, you'll find a way of coping that works for you.

There's good advice here in these comments.

Personally I'd recommend finding someone experience to guide you through the closure. That's what I did (accidentally).

You'll look back in a year and think "That was scary shit but I learnt a shit load".

fredgrott 1 day ago 1 reply      
What I am interested in is the thought process involved in balancing things like fund raising, paying one cofounder and not others to stretch it, when to pull back, etc.

Obviously, investors want the dev cofounder paid to get product out the door..

But I am more interested in the decision process...

Let me clarify.. certain small business industries have these accounting/financial tools to help determine decision trees such as pay off debt now or later, etc.

Is there a similar set of financial ratios/trends to assist in the above decision trees?

throwaway5752 1 day ago 0 replies      
It happens. Tell your wife. Inform the board. Hire a lawyer to deal with the debts. Inform the employees, giving them some idea of severance and resources to transition elsewhere . Figure out how money you have left and do an orderly wind down. Send out rfps to see if anyone will buy all or part of the company. Then get a new job.
Grokit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd say the best thing you can do is learn the lesson that you should have had a contingency plan for this situation. Particularly since failure is the most likely outcome of any startup. I know though, that only happens to the 'other' guys.
CmonDev 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought start-ups are about spending someone else's money and never your's.
mindotus 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are in the NYC area coffee or drinks on me! Just shoot me an email to john@minus.com

Just remember it's not the end and there is much more to look forward to perhaps in a future startup months or years down the road.

informatimago 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps now would be a good time to read or youtube about The Venus Project, (and perhaps also about money as debt), to get some perspective.
BeccaCory 1 day ago 0 replies      
The comments below the post are what makes this really worth reading.
asmallfish 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry to hear it. I'm sure you can land another job fairly soon if you were running a startup. Go take a small vacation to clear your mind first.
yungether 1 day ago 1 reply      
These posts are like torture porn.
wehadfun 1 day ago 0 replies      
could you sell?
The descent to C greenend.org.uk
351 points by coherentpony  2 days ago   224 comments top 28
yason 1 day ago 2 replies      
I remember when I first learned C.

I was 13 and having written assembly for years I finally got a machine that was actually equipped for running a full-blown C compiler. Compiling was slow and the produced code was slow but all I could think of was how easily I could generate [assembly] code with just a few lines of C. Loops, pointers, function calls, conditionals... just like that. Wow. So productive.

C felt like writing assembly but with much better vocabulary. C was to assembly language what English was to the caricatured "ughs" of the stone age.

I often compared the output of the compiler to what I would've written myself: the output was bloaty, the compiler was obviously not very smart, but it did do what I wanted and the computers had just got fast enough to be able to actually run useful programs written in C without slowing down the user experience. So you couldn't necessarily distinguish a program written in C from a program written in assembly, and you could "cheat" by choosing C instead. That was so exciting!

The thing is, however, that since these trivial insights of my youth it turns out that C actually never ran out of juice.

I still write C and I'm enjoying it more than ever.

In C, I've learned to raise the layers of abstraction when necessary and writing C in a good codebase is surprisingly close to writing something like Python except several dozen times faster and you can build your memory layout and little details the best suitable way you want, in various meaningful contexts.

I love doing all the muck that comes with C. String handling, memory management, figuring out the best set of functions on top of which to compose your program, doing the mundane tasks the best way in each case, and never hitting a leaky abstraction like in higher level languages.

The thing is, the time I "waste" doing all that pays me back tenfold as I tend to think about the best way to lay out my program while writing the low-level stuff. Because such effort is required there's a slight cost in writing code which makes you think what you want to write in the first place.

In Python you shove in stuff into a few lists and dicts, it just works and you will figure out later what was it that you really wanted and clean it up. But often you're wrong because it was so easy in the beginning. In C, I have to think about my data structures first because I don't want to write all that handling again for a different set of approach. And that makes all the difference in code quality.

However, I don't think you could impose a similar dynamic on a high-level language. There's something in low-level C that makes your brain tick a slightly different way and how you build your creations in C rather than in other languages reflects that. The OP said it very well: C reflects the reality of what your computer does. And I somehow love it just the way it is.

I've worked most of my career in higher level languages but I've never set C aside. It has always been there, even with Python, C++, or some other language. Now I'm writing C again on a regular basis and with my accumulated experience summed into the work it's truly rewarding.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 6 replies      
Shhhhhh! If you let them know how fun it is then everyone will want to be C programmers :-)

I got to use my crufty C knowledge to useful effect when I discovered that there is no standard system reset on Cortex M chips. That lead me to trying to call "reset_handler" (basically the function that kicks off things at startup) which I couldn't do inside an ISR because lo and behold there is "magic" in isrs, they are done in "Handler" mode versus "Thread" mode and jumping to thread mode code is just wrong apparently. C hackery to the rescue, hey the stack frame is standard, make a pointer to the first variable in the function walk backwards on the stack to return address, change it to be the function that should run next, and return. Voila, system reset.

The whole time I am going "Really? I have to look under your covers just to make you do something anyone might want to do?" As a respondent to one of my questions put it "ARM is a mixture of clever ideas intermixed with a healthy dose of WTF?"

nathanb 1 day ago 4 replies      
Professional C programmer here...

The points are great and this is generally a good primer for someone who wants to understand the C mindset.

The bit at the end is a bit off, though. It feels like the author is saying "yeah, C is weird and crufty for historical reasons and some people just use it because they're backward like that". Yeah, I write kernel drivers, but I also just plain like using C, for the same reason that I like driving a manual transmission and usually disable the safety features on stuff: C tries really hard to not get in your way.

I enjoy programming in Ruby and mostly enjoy programming in Javascript. But there are times when I think "this is an unnecessary copy...this is inefficient...I wouldn't have to do this if I were writing in C".

(There are also times where I think "this one line of code would be over 100 lines of C", but we won't get into that right now...).

benched 2 days ago 4 replies      
This looks like a pretty good summary. The stylistic way it's written as if about a 'foreign' language sure makes me feel old though. Twenty years ago, this was completely normal. When I went to work, the code was this. This is what there was. It wasn't "low level" or esoteric - just a nice language to feed through the compiler to get executable code.
laichzeit0 1 day ago 2 replies      
Recently I had to write a program for an embedded Linux router which ran on a MIPS architecture and had a 2MB flash. I only had about 40kb of space to fit the application on. I was able to get a binary that was compiling to more than 1.5mb down to 20kb through using a combination of gcc tricks like separating data and code sections, eliminating unused sections, statically linking some libraries and dynamically linking against others. It once again gave me immense appreciation for having a language and toolchain that can give you this power for those 1% of problems your career might depend on.

For amusement, the relevant section of the Makefile I ended up with:


CFLAGS=-Os -I$(LIB_NL_BASE)/include -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -Wall -Wextra -MD

LDFLAGS=-Wl,--gc-sections -L$(LIB_NL_MIPS_STATIC) -Lbuild -Wl,-Bstatic -lmon -lnl-3 -lnl-route-3 -Wl,-Bdynamic -lpthread -lm -lc

I'm unsure how many other languages/toolchains give you that sort of flexibility down to the linking level. Also it's self contained and doesn't require some kind of "virtual machine" or interpreter to run it.

rlpb 1 day ago 2 replies      
> But those aren't the reasons why most C code is in C. Mostly, C is important simply because lots of code was written in it before safer languages gained momentum...

I disagree. Certainly in the FLOSS community, I don't think this is true.

C is a lowest common denominator. No higher level language has "won". So if you want the functionality in a library you write to be available to the majority, you will need to make it available (ie. provide bindings for) a number of high level languages. The easiest way to do this is to provide a C-level API. This works well because the higher level languages are all implemented in C. This isn't because C is more popular, but because it is a low level language. The easiest way to provide a C-level API is to write the code in C. So: library writers often write implementations in C.

There are three alternatives:

1) Independently implement each individual useful piece of functionality in every high level language. This does happen, but more general implementations tend to move quicker, since they have more users (because they support multiple high level languages) and thus more contributors. The number of contributors might dwindle because of the requirement to code in C, but I don't think this has happened to a significant enough extent yet.

2) Implement libraries in a higher level language and then provide bindings to every other popular higher level language. This can be done, but I haven't seen much of it. Higher level languages seem to make it easier to provide bindings to a C-level API rather than APIs written in a different higher level languages. This may be something to do with impedence mismatches in higher level language concepts.

3) A higher level language "wins", and everyone moves to such an ecosystem. This can only happen if other higher level languages lose. I don't think there is any sign of this happening.

michaelhoffman 2 days ago 3 replies      
> If you've used Java or Python, you'll probably be familiar with the idea that some types of data behave differently from others when you assign them from one variable to another. If you write an assignment such as a = b where a and b are integers, then you get two independent copies of the same integer: after the assignment, modifying a does not also cause b to change its value.

This is incorrect when it comes to Python. a and b will be two different names for the same integer object, which is stored in a single memory location. The difference is that Python guarantees that integers are immutable.

rehack 1 day ago 2 replies      
>7. There is no convenient string type

This the reason, which stops me from going back to C. After coding in Java (mostly) for past 10 years. I wanted to switch back to C or C++. Mainly to save on ton of memory being used which I think is unwarranted.

So I experimented with a new service, and coded it in all three C, C++ and Java. When I did this I had not coded in C++ for 10 years, but it did not hurt at all. I could switch back easily with almost no great difficulty. There were some minor inconveniences of foregoing the Eclipse editor. I think, I might have missed Autocomplete the most.

But within hours after I started, I was getting my previous feeling of the Vi(m) editor coding of C++ back. And with the benefit of having STL (vectors, strings, etc.) I did not feel much discomfort.

But coding the same service in C was painful. And it was mainly because of not being able to basic things on strings easily like copy and concatenate.

But thankfully I still managed to do it. And on comparing the three services for latencies and memory usage, I found little difference between C and C++.

So eventually that service was deployed in C++ and still runs the same way.

This above episode happened about an year back, and recently I am using Go to do a lot of services (new as well as moving some old). Mainly I have been motivated by the promise of an easier C, which it seems to offer.

Some services, coded in Go, I have deployed and are already running very well. But even now, I need some more experience on the results side, to have a definitive opinion on whether Go is indeed C with strings lib (and other niceties) for me.

Edit: rephrase for clarity

rayiner 2 days ago 6 replies      
The article is good, but I disagree with this part:

"To a large extent, the answer is: C is that way because reality is that way. C is a low-level language, which means that the way things are done in C is very similar to the way they're done by the computer itself. If you were writing machine code, you'd find that most of the discussion above was just as true as it is in C: strings really are very difficult to handle efficiently (and high-level languages only hide that difficulty, they don't remove it), pointer dereferences are always prone to that kind of problem if you don't either code defensively or avoid making any mistakes, and so on."

Not really, and not quite. A lot of the complexity of C when it comes to handling strings and pointers is the result of not having garbage collection. But it does have malloc()/free(), and that's not really any more fundamental or closer to the machine than a garbage collector. A simple garbage collector isn't really any more complicated than a simple manual heap implementation.

And C's computational model is a vast simplification of "reality." "Reality" is a machine that can do 3-4 instructions and 1-2 loads per clock cycle, with a hierarchical memory structure that has several levels with different sizes and performance characteristics, that can handle requests out of order and uses elaborate protocols for cache coherence on multiprocessor machines. C presents a simple "big array of bytes" memory model that totally abstracts all that complexity. And machines go to great lengths to maintain that fiction.

lstamour 2 days ago 1 reply      
Knowing a bit of C but often programming in just about any other language, I was recently inspired to work with lower-level languages like C++ thanks to a bunch of talks from Microsoft's Going Native 2013. Specifically Bjarne Stroustrup's The Essence of C++: With Examples in C++84, C++98, C++11, and C++14 -- video and slides at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/GoingNative/2013/Opening-Key...

C++ really has changed and is changing from what I learned back in university. It's quite exciting. They seem to be standardising and implementing in C++ compilers the way HTML5 is now a living standard with test implementations in browsers. See also: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/GoingNative/2013/Keynote-Her...

spikels 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article does exactly what it sets out to do: introduce C to programmers used to more modern languages.

I started programming in C again a few months ago after a 15 year hiatus and the language I remembered loving seemed strange and tedious. This would have been a great reminder of the many differences that after a while you just take for granted. Something similar would be useful for most languages but just more so for C (or say, FORTRAN).

My only quibble would be that while malloc/free are covered many variables are simply automatically aloocated and deallocated on the stack. C's dual approach to memory management is yet another frequent source of confusion.

zem 1 day ago 1 reply      
if you're not familiar with simon tatham, do poke around his site [http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/] - he has an eclectic and delightful assortment of code and writing. probably best known for putty, but the rest of it is a lot of fun to browse through.
nadam 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article only discusses the 'extremities' (C vs. Python/Java, etc...) when there is an obvious and popular 'compromise': C++, which has most of the discussed advantages of both sides. (Although it has some drawbacks; it is a bit more difficult to master than either C, Java or Python.)
Tegran 2 days ago 4 replies      
> And there's no simple excuse for the preprocessor; I don't know exactly why that exists, but my guess is that back in the 1970s it was an easy way to get at least an approximation to several desirable language features without having to complicate the actual compiler.

Clearly this guy has never had to deal with a large, complicated code base in C. Dismissing the preprocessor as a crutch for a weak compiler shows a significant ignorance about the useful capabilities that it brings.

warmwaffles 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love C. It wasn't my first language to jump in to, but it was eye opening to see the power of pointers and low level operations. Java just couldn't get me close enough to the system.
fit2rule 1 day ago 0 replies      
Want to have fun learning C? Add Lua to the mix. ;)

All the joy and performance of C - wrapped up in a nice little language that lets you Just Get On With It. Plus, anyone who can sort out putting the LuaVM into a new set of libraries, thus creating a Framework, is one step closer to Developer God, in my opinion .. ;)

Chromozon 2 days ago 2 replies      
C is a great language- it let's you get down and dirty with the computer.

However, the one huge downside to programming in C is having to deal with strings. Let's face it, C strings are absolutely terrible. For such an important feature, the string implementation of null terminated char* is just miserable to work with. See:http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2010365

mooreds 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who swore off c after a college class and an experience with perl (three cheers for memory management), this was a great intro article to the idioms of c.
wmt 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was bit bothered that with all the talk about malloc it was never highlighted that not all memory needs to be manually freed: local (stack) variables are quite safe, why it is a common pattern to give pointers of local variables to functions to store their results in. There are some common exceptions for this when you just need to call malloc, but these should be treated as exceptions.
jheriko 1 day ago 1 reply      
interesting read. one of the later comments is a bit off the mark though:

" As a direct result of leaving out all the safety checks that other languages include, C code can run faster"

C is fast not just because of missing safety checks but because more generally you don't pay for features you don't use. Things like function calls and reading data are not complicated by run-time type logic for instance - this is very important, its why you can write an Objective-C class which has the same content as a bunch of C functions and the C functions will be (sometimes very significantly) faster.

This is one example, but many language features in high level languages suffer from similar performance problems - by being super generic and ultra late binding they can never perform as fast as a clean implementation which knows everything at compile time.

If you want dynamic late binding type functionality in C you have to do it yourself...

helicon 1 day ago 0 replies      
A great resource for learning C is CS50 on edx:


tedchs 1 day ago 1 reply      
What a great explanation. I have been doing some low-level Go programming recently (including implementing the writev syscall), and I think this document would also be useful for Go programmers.
betterunix 2 days ago 7 replies      
"the length of the array isn't stored in memory anywhere"

This is probably not true. For arrays on the heap, the size (or an approximation e.g. number of pages the array spans) would have to be stored somewhere in order for the array to be deallocated. For arrays on the stack, the size is either known at compile time, or else it was at least available when the array was allocated and could be kept in the stack frame (and in many cases would be kept in the frame anyway).

Not only that, but the common pattern of passing a pointer to an array and its length as arguments to a function implies that most of the time C programmers keep the length of the array stored somewhere. You are really talking about niche cases where the length of the array is truly and inherently unavailable.

Really this has more to do with the fact that C is meant to do as little as possible for programmers -- it is supposed to be "close to the machine."

Kiro 1 day ago 4 replies      
I thought Java was on a much lower level than Python. Why is C more low-level?
NAFV_P 1 day ago 0 replies      
This goes into more detail on pointers than some tutorials on C++, pointers are bread and butter in C.

The article should have given a link to:


The last time I visited that site I ended up crossed-eyed, incontinent and speaking in DEC-PDP8 assembly for several days.

acorkery 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really enjoyed this article. I started out programming in C, then quickly on to Java.

I didn't appreciate the language at the time, but with hindsight, the fact that you need to worry about memory allocation and performance means you've a better understanding of what's happening on the underlying system.

It should never be taken off CS courses!

collingreene 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really great. I have found myself saying some of these same things when explaining things. Going to keep this in my pocket to use in the future. Thanks!
massysett 1 day ago 1 reply      
>C is quite different, at a fundamental level, from languages like Java and Python.

I suppose, but functional languages are even more different. From Python, the ascent to Lisp or Haskell is much more difficult conceptually than the descent to C.

Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End nytimes.com
348 points by weu  6 days ago   128 comments top 15
sigil 6 days ago 9 replies      
Brand also worried that declaring that counterterrorism officials have been operating this program unlawfully for years could damage morale and make agencies overly cautious in taking steps to protect the country.

It's great to have another voice speaking up against mass surveillance. Still -- you're telling me these agencies are in all likelihood committing crimes against the American people, but we need to be careful not to hurt their feelings?

pstack 6 days ago 1 reply      
The whole "and should end" thing always makes me laugh. Oh, we just determined that violating the constitutional limitations on government is against the constitution, so we're going to stop violating the constitution, now.

None of these idiots thought they were doing anything but violating the law for the past several decades. They just didn't care. And they still don't. And they won't. This big display right now is nothing but that - a display. At most, they'll throw out some "oh, gosh, we will put in regulations or stop it all together"... while they continue to do exactly as they please behind the scenes.

There is no return from this. It is done.

hooande 6 days ago 11 replies      
The NSA has committed no crimes. As an organization, they've acted within the bounds of the law and done exactly what they were supposed to do. This watchdog report is saying that the law is not in the interest of the people and it should be changed. But until that happens, the NSA is in the right to continue with business as usual.

Our constitution prohibits ex post facto law. This means that someone can't be charged with violating a law that was not in effect at the time of the person's action. ie, if the the speed limit is lowered to 50mph on Tuesday, you can't be ticketed for having driven 55mph on Monday. This should apply to the NSA in the same way that it applies to citizens. We may not like the law, but we can't call them criminals, dictators or all around bad guys for playing by the rules as they were written at the time.

It's also important to note that the NSA currently has the support of the people and the people's representatives. If 80% of the country hated the law that allows blanket collection of business records then it would have been changed long ago. The issue is 50/50 at best among the people and much more lopsided in favor among members of congress. Changing the law will be difficult at this point, as it's supposed to be. The whole point of a democratic bureaucracy is that they are stable and slow to change. We can't routinely re-write laws that are disliked by 40% or even 50% of the people and lawmakers. In general, it's bad for business. It's difficult to plan for the future when a relatively small group of citizens can throw out the rules in a short time period.

If the NSA had some kind of effect on the life of the average citizen this law would be rescinded immediately. If that doesn't end up happening, it's going to take a lot more than personal interpretations of the constitution to get the federal government to give up capability and assets it spent a lot of time and money building. This law may change and the country may be better without it. If anything it will be a long time until the majority of people make up their minds or even form an opinion on this issue. Until then the NSA is going to what all of us do: pursue their goals while acting within the boundaries of the law.

rhizome 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'd say it was cowardly and poor leadership for Obama to get this report and still half-step his speech, if not anti-democratic. There's something he won't tell us.
zmanian 6 days ago 0 replies      
After 6 months of anti-mass surveillance activism,I'd like to share an insight with the community.

The problem with the NSA is not just one or more illegal program but their operating culture and philosophy. The NSA has gone into the business of preemptively acquiring capabilities(subverted systems,large scale databases, zero days, malware, etc) and then marketing those capabilities to other institutions from law enforcement to foreign governments. The NSA leverages the classification system, deception and parallel construction to evade judicial and legislative review on how those capabilities are used.

This approach to covert actions means that there is no part of society that the NSA will not attack to stockpile a capability for some unspecified future use.

grecy 6 days ago 0 replies      
It should be: Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and those involved must be imprisoned.

Anything less is unacceptable.

Zelphyr 6 days ago 1 reply      
I would submit that MANY of the laws our Federal government passes are unconstitutional (10th Amendment). Yet they go and do it anyway and we go and vote in another worthless fuck who got there by pandering to us and promising more unconstitutional laws.

WE ARE TO BLAME! They may be the bullet that felled the murder victim but we pulled the trigger.

IgorPartola 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess I don't see how what the NSA is doing would not be unconstitutional and illegal. I don't care about the mechanics of how it's actually done but wiretapping requires probably cause and a warrant. Fishing expeditions are not legal. The fact that it's not listened to directly by a human but instead stored for later processing has nothing to do with the fact that it's wiretapping. Creating a secret court that is a rubber stamp of approval for broad warrants does not make it legal.

I actually wonder what would happen if the government was to prosecute someone where the only evidence they had was obtained via this illegal wiretap. Would the evidence gathered this way actually hold up. I know the point of this is not the due process but to detect terrorist plots, but the legal hypothetical is interesting.

jonnybgood 6 days ago 1 reply      
According to the article, three out of five members of the board held the opinion the program was illegal. That's a little bit different than what the title of the article suggests.
zmanian 6 days ago 0 replies      
jmharvey 6 days ago 0 replies      
The NSA didn't break the law. People at the NSA broke the law. They need to be held to account.
kordless 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm OK if they want to look at my data. I just want to know who and when they look at it and how much they are going to pay me for it. 1,000 Bitcoin gets you everything I have data-wise.
martindale 6 days ago 0 replies      
Who do we send to jail?
midas007 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like a return to sanity, civility and proportionate responses.
higherpurpose 6 days ago 0 replies      
I really want all of this to go through the Supreme Court before Congress decides either way on it, because I worry they will pass some laws that make this only slightly less awful, but at the same time make all current lawsuits irrelevant.

If there's one lawsuit say regarding the Patriot Act, and the Patriot Act get repealed and then replaced with something else in the meantime, does the lawsuit still continue, for example?

But even if it does, and let's say it says it's completely unconstitutional and whatnot, that still wouldn't apple to the "new law" that is slightly less awful, would it? It would require a new lawsuit against those specific provisions, right?

So this is what I'm worried about, and why I'd prefer all this goes through the Supreme Court before Congress starts passing new surveillance laws, because then they'd have a much lower chance of passing something that's already been declared unconstitutional in a new law.

Linda Liukas' Programming book for Children has Huge First Day on Kickstarter arcticstartup.com
343 points by vesterinen  6 days ago   217 comments top 39
JunkDNA 6 days ago 5 replies      
This is wonderful. I think some of the commenters here are missing the point by insisting that how they learned to code is how everyone should learn. If we're going to get to a point where coding is a basic type of literacy like math or reading (and I'm not necessarily saying I agree with that goal), then you have to start small when kids are young. Really young kids need some kind of framework. You can't just throw existing programming books at them and say, "have at it". Do we throw high school level geometry books at kids to teach them shapes? No, we give them all sorts of fun story books that incorporate shapes (and colors, and numbers...) so that they get the basics. I suspect this book is trying to fill in that early gap with respect to programming.

My youngest child could count to 10 at 18 months most likely because she insists on me reading the infernal book "Deborah the Dozy Duckling" all the time. It's about a duck that falls asleep while playing hide and seek. The whole book is frankly awful and I hate reading it, but that one page where Deborah's friends count to 10 turned out to grab her for some reason. Books can be very, very powerful learning devices.

callmeed 6 days ago 8 replies      
The comments on this thread make me want to quit HN for good.

I don't know Linda but I volunteered at RailsGirls in SF this past weekend. It was a wonderful experience and I'm hoping to organize one here in my area. I've got 4 kids (3 girls, 1 boy) and we do everything from LEGOs to making movies to programming to SnapCircuits to building robots.

I'm excited about this book. Even if I wasn't, I honestly can't imagine anything bad/wrong coming out of its existence. It's good to know many of you can. A woman who already speaks and organizes events is writing and illustrating a children's book about programmingand some of you sit and criticize her motives, pedagogy, and presentation skills from your desks. Bravo.

I generally don't swear, but some of you are jackasses.

enra 6 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like lot of comments have concerns with the programming part, so here is my view why indirect approaches can be also important:

When we started Rails Girls with Linda, we saw that there were plenty of programming workshops, books and education available. We didn't want to create one more. Instead we focused on creating easy, one-day workshop to get you to try and see what programming and technology is about, while also building your first sample application and getting meet the local tech scene. After the workshop we tell the people that you now have all the tools and contacts you need for programming or creating something. It's up to you to learn more.

The important part was that all these people (probably thousands at this point) got over the first step and of whom many wouldn't have touched programming otherwise.

In the same way I don't think this book should be about teaching programming that much, but more as creating stories and personalities for technologies to peak interest. Children's interest usually leads to questions and to more interest. You can then use that energy, answer the questions, teach more and extend the workbook exercises to more challenging things. You can also use those characters as a basis to explaining the technology world or talking about what you do for living.

The point is that when you're trying to get a new demographic interested, you need to find a way to get them over the first step, which is to get them involved and getting them interested. The earlier this happens, the better.

Why project like this and the Goldie Box are important, is that they create a story, a world and excitement around technology, for those who might miss or haven't found their innate interest yet.

jaimebuelta 6 days ago 2 replies      
When I was ~9, my parents bought me a book called "Wrote your own adventure programs for your microcomputer" [1] (Well, the Spanish version [2]) I remember reading and reading and reading it, and not understanding it... I tried to replicate some of the ideas, but I think it was quite dense (and the translation was not very good).The curious thing is that, when I properly started learning programming in college, I remembered that book, and a lot of things started make sense...

I say all this for two thing:

- I think is brilliant that there are books specifically teaching basic programming to kids, so more of them is great news

- Making a good programming book at that age is challenging, so please let it be good

This is, IMHO, an entry point, to give a taste of what programming is, so kids can try themselves later in front of a computer. Not sure what the best approach is, and I'm not convinced about the "story" approach, as I am not sure if it's interactive enough (as showing exercises). But, hey, there should be some options, and giving Linda's experience, I guess she has a better knowledge about teaching than me. So I'm sure it will be great

So, kudos to Linda... ;-)

[1] http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3384/5718165821_2ce65d26fd_z.j...

[2] http://www.paraquenoseolviden.com/gallery2/v/electronica/pro...

sethbannon 6 days ago 1 reply      
Such an important project. Resources like this could go a long way towards solving some of the diversity problems we have in tech.
vanderZwan 6 days ago 4 replies      
I think it could be a great way of repackaging programming education in order to reach out to a different demographic, and we'll have to try out to see, so I wish this project all the best. Having said that:

> The book will be hardcover, 8x8 inches and 32 pages. The activity book is 16 pages and paperback.

I don't see how you could cover even just the basics mentioned on the Kickstarter page in so few pages without going too fast (remember this is a picture book). Maybe turning it into a series with different adventures (topics) makes more sense?

fidotron 6 days ago 10 replies      
Cynic hat on . . . I'm not sure I get this. Looks like an effort to promote an illustrator more than actually achieve the stated aims.

The reasoning is simple: Alan Kay and others have repeatedly demonstrated kids have a far greater aptitude for this stuff than is generally accepted. The packaging in this manner isn't the problem, the problem is the programming environments around today don't tend to do anything the kids are interested in without overcoming significant hurdles. i.e. unless you can do graphics easily forget it.

Back when I grew up in the 80s every 8 year old had to do Logo at school, partly to teach maths, partly to teach programming constructs. This was the part of the week almost everyone liked most. Make pictures, do maths, play with robots - what's not to love?

So, hope that theory is wrong, but it sets off too many alarms for now.

fit2rule 6 days ago 3 replies      
Want to know how to teach kids to use computers? Give them an 8-bit machine from the 80's, and all the books for the thing that you can find.

My kids have an old 8-bit machine .. and they love the thing. They can type in their own BASIC programs from tons of sources, or load up a hundred games and other educational apps from a disk that I know won't contain anything weird or offensive .. on a machine with no access to the Internet. Its a wonderful thing, hearing a 6-year old tell his 4 year old brother how to make a sound eminate with just a few SOUND and PLAY commands ..

Keyframe 6 days ago 2 replies      
Here I was open-minded as ever, prepared to see something great, also prepared to scold at misogynistic crowd because there were hints in some comments that there is such crowd here... and then I watched the video.

Everything that can go in other direction related to stereotypes and gender roles - DID. It went so overboard that I think it's a part of marketing strategy for it. This is just sad, because I think the product could've done without it as well as it did.

mratzloff 6 days ago 2 replies      
She's certainly very good at marketing, but based on the video and Kickstarter page I wonder how educational the book will actually be. A couple of sample pages would be helpful.
jcoder 6 days ago 3 replies      
What an incredibly important book for little boys, to normalize learning from women early on so they don't grow up to form stereotypes like "programming is for men". Bravo!
cromulent 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really pleased about this. I've been dismayed by the computer education my kids receive at school - Powerpoint basically. I've provided them with more, but it's so welcome to have the materials from an educator.


thrush 6 days ago 1 reply      
Recently Chicago announced that they are going to make Computer Science a core subject for students K-12. And now this children's book is announced. It's really an inspirational time for not only diversity, but general exposure of CS to the mainstream. But seriously, what an amazing idea! Good luck with Hello Ruby!
swang 6 days ago 1 reply      
After reading the comments here, I am glad none of them are writing this book. If they had their way the kids would have gotten CLRS.
kriro 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good, good, good. More of this. Inspiring children to learn how to solve problems is very important. I don't know if it'll work out or not but we certainly need more people that try.

That robot-parent programming in the gym blog post was one of the more inspiring posts I read in the last couple of years.

gregors 6 days ago 0 replies      
Most people who know how to program attempt to teach their kids how to program. That being said, we need many more resources of all kinds directed towards teaching children. I hope this leads to 100 more programming books/videos directed at children.

I think these are awesome too http://kidscodecamp.com/

robgering 6 days ago 0 replies      
Link to the actual project page on kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lindaliukas/hello-ruby

Her illustrations are really great.

guidobouman 6 days ago 2 replies      
If not truly educational, it's at least great to get kids curious about programming, or more important: the mindset.
11001 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there aren't many books like that already in English. It was a Russian children's book that spiked my interest in programming when I was a kid. I didn't even have a computer, and neither did my school at that point. I don't remember the details too well, but it was basically about some boy in some imaginary land learning about algorithms, computer viruses, etc. in a really fun way. There were tons of very clear analogies, like algorithm and a cooking recipe.
guscost 6 days ago 1 reply      
A children's book about programming is a great idea and it's very nice to see the market encouraging this kind of work.

That said, I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable giving this particular book to a young child. From the sketches it seems as if it will be light on fundamentals like logic and data structures, and a bit heavy on Ruby-specific abstractions and borderline political value judgements. I don't want to tell the younger generation which application stack they should be using, to say nothing of the completely out of place "Apple is selfish, Python is fascist" storyboards.

If you're interested in honest advice I'd remove the parts about what is wrong with all the other technologies and substitute material related to the history and engineering that made all of these tools possible. Mention how strings and floats are encoded as bits, for example. Young children are not going to be wondering why they are learning Ruby instead of C or assembly, but they will be wondering how it does all that cool stuff.

myzerox 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful idea!

Was looking for exactly such a book for teaching my 7 and 8 year old brothers the theoretical basics of programming after getting them to create their own tiny games with MIT's Scratch.

As I'm also quite confident that Linda's execution will be of highest quality, I pre-ordered the digital version.

conductr 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hatin': most of the video she's fidgeting around and flirting with the camera, anyone else find that odd?
nicolethenerd 6 days ago 0 replies      
One line of code on the whole page, and the syntax is wrong. (Need quotes on "hi computer")

But besides that, I think this has the potential to be great... but I honestly didn't get much from the video about the content of the book. It's a story, and it's about Ruby. How? What does it teach? How does it encourage kids to interact with technology, or program computers, or whatever the goal is? All I saw were a bunch of pretty pictures and a promise that kids will learn something.

csense 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why Ruby? Python would be a much better choice -- for that matter, C or assembly language [1] would be a better choice than Ruby! Here are the problems with Ruby:

- It is hard to get Ruby running on non-Linux systems.

- Ruby programs are incredibly hard to understand because the Ruby language is not compact [2]

- Rails is such a big part of the Ruby community, it is hard to find Ruby programs that aren't Rails webapps. So anyone who becomes interested in Ruby from the book, and searches online for more resources, will probably mostly get Rails-related hits.

- These hits will not just be useless to a beginner, but intimidating and misleading. Web application programming is a poor area to direct beginners into, because even the most trivial web application requires understanding a dizzying array of complicated, interconnected ideas such networking, HTTP, URL's, databases, template processing, HTML, browsers...

[1] I'm not trying to cast aspersions on anyone who started programming in these languages, and I'm not saying it's impossible to start there even today. I'm just saying that today there are much better choices available, such as Python.

[2] http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/ch04s02.html

judk 6 days ago 2 replies      
Why do you need a kickstarter before you write a 50page book? Just set up a preorder list, and bill when ready to ship the printed books.
tall 6 days ago 0 replies      
I expected more harsh comments based on all the meta comments.... I was disappointed.
BuildTheRobots 6 days ago 0 replies      
in a similar vein, I highly recommend people check out "Mostly Lost: Lauren Ipsum - A story about computer scienceand other improbable things." [1]

[1] http://www.laurenipsum.org/mostly-lost

sh1mmer 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a great project!

I'd also remind people about HN user aristus' Lauren Ipsum book (http://www.laurenipsum.org/) for kids. Every one you buy he donates one to schools, etc.

JoeAltmaier 5 days ago 0 replies      
Typically a publisher would like to see a sample chapter or a few sample pages before investing. That would be nice here.
Adkron 6 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a fantastic book. I only wish that I had thought about this before. I want one for my kids and for my niece and nephew.

It is sad that both sides of the gender gap here have decided to make this book about gender. No one made this article out about people and they great things we can accomplish. I'm disappointed.

denizozger 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just donated. Programming should be thought as early as possible and should be in the curriculums. This project servers the same vision. I don't know if the book will be structured properly or will have a great impact on kids, and I don't care, I support this vision.
Grue3 5 days ago 0 replies      
But Ruby is bad for children (and is known as the preferred language of brogrammers/women haters). Read Land of Lisp instead.
mattgibson 6 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. Clearly there's a huge demand for this, so good to see it's being done. It occurred to me that this may be just as effective (maybe more?) in promoting coding for women who have kids, rather than just the kids themselves.
chrisrh 6 days ago 0 replies      
Quality of execution is a big uncertainty but this is a wonderful idea.
vezzy-fnord 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think children will be better off reading _why's (poignant) guide instead, as it will teach them both the basics of common programming and give them a primer in avant-garde literature.

That or stop treating kids like kids, give them some standard and classic books, bootstrap an environment and let them dive in.

1angryhacker 6 days ago 0 replies      
it would also be nice to see books and resources for children going up to about 14/15. It would be a shame to see a gap in their education when they can really get going.
notastartup 6 days ago 0 replies      
She is adorable! I was mesmerized by her than the message. I I was too distracted by her overall cuteness. Is this too "boyish" to admit?

Overall, I think the book idea is for a good cause, regardless of the author.

I also think this comic was very good too for learning ruby. too bad the author disappeared mysteriously.


whatevsbro 6 days ago 1 reply      
For your consideration: Her last name means "slippery" in Finnish. She's puzzlingly good at pretending to smile and acting cutesy. Both are far from natural for a Finn. (Source: I'm a Finn)
1angryhacker 6 days ago 1 reply      
a boys one would be great too, screw equality let's just get as many kids programming as possible.
Show HN: Random Street View randomstreetview.com
339 points by hanezz  2 days ago   165 comments top 72
crazygringo 2 days ago 5 replies      
Nice! So interesting. This is the kind of thing that, 30 years ago, you could only dream about. Stuff like this reminds me how much we take things like the Internet and Google Street View for granted, and sometimes you need to step back and think how amazing they are.

But stepping forwards to a minor detail... are there keyboard shortcuts? If you click on the image, you can already use Google controls to pan/walk around using the arrow keys and +/-..., so that all works...

But it would be awesome if there were another shortcut to move to the next/previous location, so I could move around, and between images, solely using the keyboard.

Anyways, great work!

[Edit: another thing, so many locations seem to have... not much going on. Instead of picking a random spot by area, it might be interesting to pick a random spot by population distribution... so that half the locations would wind up being urban, and you'd se