hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    3 Feb 2014 Best
home   ask   best   5 years ago   
Mystery signal from a helicopter windytan.com
1035 points by schappim  2 days ago   78 comments top 33
jgrahamc 2 days ago 4 replies      
I love Oona Risnen's blog. She's my hero. She combines a love of figuring stuff out with lots of fun hacks. And when I read her blog it makes me happy to see someone with that joy of uncovering mysteries.
graupel 1 day ago 2 replies      
We operate news helicopters at TV stations around the US and they all use a similar system.

Basically the right channel of audio is typically the microphone from the pilot or reporter and the left channel is the audio feed transmitting what is basically modem data back with the GPS coordinates of the helicopter and some other data.

This data is used at the antenna site to track the helicopter and point the antenna in the correct direction to keep a line-of-site since the transmission system from the helicopter to the receiver is line of site (microwave) based.

It's really cool to sit and watch the receive antenna track and move responding to the movements of the helicopter miles and miles away.

The antenna is on the belly of the chopper here - http://www.imt-broadcast.com/super-pod?cat=Products

The receiver is generally centrally located on a tower - http://www.imt-broadcast.com/silhouette?cat=Products - it's a parabolic dish inside a radome like this.

nl 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love this:

Several people in the restaurant were waiting for orders with their similar devices, which suggested to me this could be a pager system of some sort. Turning the receiver over, we see stickers with interesting information, including a UHF carrier frequency. For this kind of situations I often carry my RTL2832U-based television receiver dongle with me (the so-called rtl-sdr).

I knew I was forgetting something.


habosa 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow. People on HN do a lot of cool things but that really blew me away. It all sounded so casual too.

This is real Hacker News.

GauntletWizard 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nice bit of reverse-engineering, and an impressive hack from whoever built the system.
salgernon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd had a copy of her dialup decoded poster on my wall for a while; forgot where I found it but it was immediately something I wanted to hang up... glad to see its being monetized via poster sales, its quite a lovely work of art.

Of course, I also find chip tape outs beautiful, much to my wife's dismay.


zenocon 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of article that makes HN worth coming back for.
xradionut 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I love the blog and the very clear explanations, none of this is new nor amazing to the experienced RF engineer, enthusiast, or practitioner. What's awesome is that the hardware and software are currently cheap enough that more people can discover and enjoy the larger spectrum around them. Welcome!

Now go build some antennas! :)

sehugg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another cool thing is that the author of Redis made a decoder for ADS-B to decode aircraft transponder signals: https://github.com/antirez/dump1090
werner34 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oona's work is always amazing. Loads of interesting hardware stuff in her blog. I wish I would be better at some mechanical engineering/electrical engineering stuff, my work is mostly web-related or big data stuff, never really get my hands dirty :(
quackerhacker 2 days ago 2 replies      
Amazing!!! I would have just dismissed it as static interference, and not even think twice.

Hmmm, makes me think twice about the beeping sounds I hear when my phone is right next to my radio. I know it's data being transmitted/received, but I wonder if it can be deciphered in this manner.

throwwit 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much audio compression the signal can go through before getting lost, and if joint-stereo affected it. Might have to check out the data myself :) Props to Oona.
amcnett 2 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be interesting to scrape videos for this kind of information in order to map them en-masse. Great post!
vhost- 1 day ago 1 reply      
The thing I love most about her work is it's witty, but to the point and I can always understand it.

I'm not a big fan of the tl;dr movement, but I also don't like dauntingly long blog posts. Nails it every time. Hats off!

atmosx 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Exception profile and work. I never seen anything similar and never really thought that this was possible. Really stunned :-)
niels 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is also commonly used on Model Planes flying "First Person View". See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_AnqOFAs3Q for an example.
ErsatzVerkehr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would love to try a "signals hacking" capture-the-flag.
fellytone84 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain how she plotted the car's position? Did she manually reconstruct it based on the video and the information she derived from the helicopter's noise?
c7b0rg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Suddenly, my telecom courses in CS now seem a lot more fun than they really were. It's like magic.
easy_rider 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can anyone recommend some cheap hardware to hookup my TG-UV2 [1] to my PC?


logicallee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't get how she can get so much sense out of what is basically line noise - until the comment that asked what tools she uses, and she says Perl. Ah, just a day in the life :)
tomchurchill 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Kansas City Police helicopters are also equipped with 3 of our Augmented Reality mapping Systems:


sown 1 day ago 0 replies      
I need to learn HW.

Could someone detail more information about the tools she used?

hans 13 hours ago 0 replies      
cool thing is, we can start watching them back ;/

and critique whether they're joy riding or actually working etc

mangeletti 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else see the cop hit him @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCKRe4jJ0Qk#t=1140 19min)?
lucb1e 2 days ago 0 replies      
And here I always consider myself paranoid when wondering whether odd patterns in anything mean anything. Guess I'm just too noob and inpersistent to find anything.
rikacomet 2 days ago 2 replies      
can this become/or is/ part of forensic science? if its possible to do the same on a mobile phone, and merely speaking into the phone, you give away your travel trajectory?
nolite 2 days ago 0 replies      
wow.. this girl is superhuman...
sebastianconcpt 1 day ago 0 replies      
cdelsolar 2 days ago 0 replies      
inanov 1 day ago 0 replies      
hackers rule!
codr 2 days ago 0 replies      
this is rad.
mablae 2 days ago 0 replies      
How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username medium.com
1001 points by micahgoulart  5 days ago   386 comments top 79
chavesn 4 days 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 5 days 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 4 days 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 4 days 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 5 days 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 5 days ago 5 replies      
Why is anyone still using GoDaddy?
philliphaydon 5 days ago 3 replies      
Ditch GoDaddy - They are a terrible company.

Also considering closing my paypal account now.

blueskin_ 4 days 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.

650REDHAIR 5 days ago 0 replies      
I felt very angry and uncomfortable reading that. I can't imagine being in a helpless position like that.
WA 4 days 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 :)

codezero 5 days 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.

konklone 4 days 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-...

micahgoulart 5 days 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.
Shank 4 days 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.
kristiandupont 4 days 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.

maxk42 4 days ago 0 replies      
dmak 5 days 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?
Dnguyen 4 days 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.
zaidf 4 days 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.

rdl 4 days 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.

bredren 5 days 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.

nogridbag 4 days 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.

zzzeek 5 days 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?
benatkin 4 days 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.

harryh 5 days ago 13 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.
Oculus 5 days 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?
seniorsassycat 5 days ago 1 reply      
I found it interesting how open the attacker was about how they did it.
lucaspiller 4 days 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...

mrbill 5 days 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...

owenwil 5 days 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.
patrickwiseman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Have you reported it to someone with prosecution powers?



pyk 5 days 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.
smartician 4 days 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.
yaeger 4 days 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"

quackerhacker 4 days 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.

Tepix 4 days 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!
erikb 4 days 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.

hoektoe 4 days 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...
nevi-me 5 days 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 5 days 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.
outericky 4 days 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?
rodrigocoelho 4 days 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

vysakh0 5 days 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 4 days 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.
pistle 4 days 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?

jdrenterprises 4 days 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.

abus 4 days 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.
seanlinmt 5 days 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 5 days 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.
Brandork 4 days 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.

EA 4 days 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.

RawData 5 days ago 1 reply      
So who are you planning on suing? PayPal, godaddy, twitter, or all three?
klapinat0r 4 days 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.

ksk 4 days 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.
Ryel 4 days 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.

benjamta 4 days 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?

ChrisArchitect 5 days 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?
betenoire 5 days 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?
jimwalsh 4 days 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.
edem 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was the last straw. I'm moving away from GoDaddy.
DanBlake 5 days 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.

nitinag 5 days 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?
sdaityari 4 days 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/
callesgg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't use godady is what I would take away from the story.
mannat 4 days 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.
vladtaltos 4 days 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...

amrita1306 4 days 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
barlescabbage 4 days ago 1 reply      
What if this whole story was a lie? What if it was the hacker's final attempt to steal the @n twitter name.
ivanbrussik 4 days ago 0 replies      
story archived here in case it did/does go down:


owens99 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Twitter can help this guy somehow.
GunlogAlm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why on earth are people still using GoDaddy?
twice 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is quite frustrating even to read!
ests 4 days ago 0 replies      
It was like I read some scary book.
poopsintub 5 days ago 0 replies      
$50,000 twitter username. Sigh...
metaphorm 4 days 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 5 days 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
975 points by ahjones  4 days ago   191 comments top 33
Lazare 4 days 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...

ck2 4 days 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.

praptak 4 days 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.

reuven 4 days 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 4 days ago 6 replies      
He certainly deserves it more than Obama (let's not mention Kissinger).
cb_ru 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe we can get someone to nominate the NSA for the peace prize. Would make for fun commentary.
chao- 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't be a bad consolation for being passed over as the TIME person of the year.
saosebastiao 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
2009 - Obama

2014 - Snowden

That would certainly be something ;)

informatimago 4 days 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.
hawkharris 4 days 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."

adobriyan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Attending ceremony will be tricky.
etiam 4 days 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?

callesgg 4 days ago 1 reply      
I partly think the peace is like getting a bucket of piss since the time obama got it.
blisterpeanuts 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
He did open the eyes for many, he clearly was 'sent' here to do just that. Who else?
sdaityari 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be ironical if he wins the Nobel just a few years after Obama?
richardlblair 4 days 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 4 days 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.

mh_yam 4 days ago 0 replies      
If Obama can receive it, then I don't see why not Snowden.
jabits 4 days 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.
kingkawn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Barack and him will have a good chat at the next nobel winner bbq
codex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Given that Snowden has undermined Pax Americana, I find this nomination surprising.
patricjansson 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be critisim agains the committee itself, giving it to someone pointing out previous laureates as anti-peaceloving.
daemonk 4 days ago 3 replies      
When did the Nobel peace prize become the "most-influential" prize.
sleepyK 4 days 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.

collyw 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame Obama devalued the prize by accepting a it.
mironathetin 4 days ago 0 replies      
That is a great way to make Snowdens life a little safer.
lechevalierd3on 4 days 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 ?
cordite 4 days ago 0 replies      
What does the peace prize even mean?
wanda 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nobel peace prize =! TIME person of the year
icantthinkofone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody can get nominated. Being seriously considered is more important.
You might not need jQuery youmightnotneedjquery.com
935 points by sfeng  3 days ago   347 comments top 93
efuquen 3 days ago 21 replies      
No, please no. If size is an issue for some reason or you want to have no dependencies you can use something like http://zeptojs.com/ and just embed everything in one minified file. If you do things right only the functions you are actually using will get placed in there as well.

Do not reinvent the wheel to solve problems that can't be solved in much cleaner and nicer ways. Managing dependencies can be annoying, but we all bite the bullet for a very good reason, because reusing solid well tested code is a good thing.

chavesn 3 days ago 3 replies      
The Bad:

The premise of the examples list seems a bit disingenuous.

Very few of these things take into account the full convenience of jQuery. It's much more than saving a couple lines of code or knowing the native way to accomplish the most basic version of a task. jQuery's real benefit is preserving simplicity as your needs grow more complex.

Right off the bat I feel like the getJSON[1] example is a bit simplistic. Almost anyone using ajax needs to serialize data, handle errors, prevent caching, etc. jQuery has thought about all this[2].

Don't get me wrong -- most of my work has been without jQuery, but that means I know exactly how much work it is.

The Good:

The format is a nice way to show people (who really don't know otherwise) the native JS plumbing.

"The number of people who don't know that jQuery != Javascript is too damn high". So to help combat that, I really appreciate the idea behind this site.

It's great to show side-by-side how jQuery isn't "magic", since many people seem to learn jQuery these days without even knowing the first thing about Javascript, but I just think it should be presented with a slightly different premise.

[1]: http://youmightnotneedjquery.com/#json -- side note, why did they set the handler after the `send`? It seems like that could cause problems if the result was returnable quickly, such as from cache, though I haven't tested it.

[2]: http://api.jquery.com/jQuery.ajax/#jQuery-ajax-settings

DigitalSea 3 days ago 6 replies      
I implore all developers to learn native Javascript methods, because I strongly believe jQuery has created a generation of developers who know the library but not the language. You'd be surprised how many developers I've come across think iterating over an object or array requires Javascript and how many people don't know how to write a simple for or while loop in Javascript. jQuery is a fantastic library, but it is by no means a cure-all for Javascript problems.

Now about this site itself. This is a great idea getting people to use and understand native methods, but please also understand that native methods aren't always necessarily the most efficient choice. There are a few of parts of this site I think send the wrong message. Don't get me wrong, I think this is great, but sometimes native methods are no better than jQuery's.

The first one being jQuery's each method. It is a known fact that jQuery's each method is extremely slow, it works, but from a optimisation perspective native ways of looping an array are always the fastest and most efficient.

The alternative given for a jQuery.each statement is the IE9+ supported Array.prototype.forEach now you'd think this would be faster right? It's actually still not as performant as it could be. As this jsPerf set of benchmarks shows is that a for loop is the most performant option: http://jsperf.com/foreach-vs-jquery-each/38 it might not be as pretty as jQuery.each or Array.prototype.forEach, but heck, it's a whole lot faster than the alternatives.

The second being the use of querySelectorAll (which is awesome btw). It has similar capabilities to that of jQuery's native wrapper for querying, it looks just as nice, but once again the performance isn't all that great. Looking through multiple jsPerf benchmarks, querySelectorAll is rarely the best option to use in most cases. This is an example of one: http://jsperf.com/queryselectorall-vs-getelementsbytagname/4... if your selector is extremely complicated, think to yourself, how can I make this easier to write? Do I need to query a chain of five classes and use CSS3 selectors, or can I just add an ID to the element I want and query it using document.getElementById instead.

Sometimes jQuery is needed though. It saves considerable amounts of time, especially when the budget of a project is tight and timeline is even tighter and you just need to get something out the door as soon as possible. If you have the time to properly build whatever it is you are building, consider spending that extra 15 seconds writing a for loop to iterate over that array or object.

And to those who understand and have taken a look into the internals of how some jQuery methods work like document.ready, you'll appreciate and know just how many different browser quirks the jQuery team have solved for us. There are quite a few methods where jQuery hides the gory details of a sometimes difficult to get right across all browsers feature.

Personally my favourite thing about Javascript is the power of documentFragment: https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Web/API/DocumentFragme... this is something all developers who use Javascript need to know about. It helps prevent reflowing and redrawing as well as being extremely efficient and fast for modifying and inserting elements into a page.

Over all of this I think we all need to reflect on the state of Javascript. It's a whole lot more powerful and better than it was 10 years ago, but I think because of the likes of jQuery and others, people have become obsessed with pretty code and methods. I know for loops and prototype methods might not be as nice as your one line of jQuery code, but don't take the easy way out, because you'll soon find the longer your Javascript grows in your app/site, the slower it will become.

iagooar 3 days ago 3 replies      
I would like to add a thought about the dispute about the need of using jQuery.

Let's say we know a consultant, let's call him Bob, who works on client projects. He needs to implement new features fast, and does not want to worry about low level stuff. Once he's done with a project, he moves on to another.

Then, we meet a JS-framework developer, let's call her Alice. She has to weight every line of code she writes because her decision can have have a huge impact on thousand of developers using her stuff. She needs to understand a lot of low-level details in order to make good decisions and ship rock solid stuff.

Now, both Bob and Alice have to decide whether they need to include jQuery in their projects or not. Heck, they need to justify their decisions to their teams / managers.

What's Bob going to say? He will start thinking about what will happen if he does not include jQuery to his project. Well, he will have to implement some of the low-level stuff by himself, and later maintain the code. Probably, in a month he's going to be working on another project and will have to copy & paste the same stuff over. And if there was a bug? Is he going to update all the previous projects he is not getting paid for anymore? If he's smart, he's going to say: we'll take jQuery, as it provides a nice, stable, robust and battle-hardened API. We're going to move faster if we use it, as we don't want to reinvent the wheel.

What about Alice? She will probably have to consider introducing a new dependency to her framework. Is it OK to add those additional hundreds of lines of jQuery code to an already large codebase? Is she going to be able to provide a consistent experience between different (and future) versions of jQuery? Is the core of her application going to rely on an external tool, even if it is rock-solid and lose the potential to make low-level optimizations and have full control? Maybe, she's going to say: well, I'm going to identify the elements that need some of jQuery's stuff and implement it by myself. She will be taking the time and effort needed to test it well and be sure that it works across different platforms.

At the end of the day, both will have made the right decision, even if in absolute terms they took the exact opposite action.

Software engineering is about making decisions, in a given context and moment, for a given purpose. As software engineers, we should not generalize about some of the decisions people have to make. There is no one single truth, it all depends on a variety of variables and factors. Let's be Bob and Alice, be smart and make the best decisions for our projects.

bitwarrior 3 days ago 8 replies      
I understand the desire for people to make pages like this (this isn't the first), but the examples are not completely honest with themselves, in my opinion.

One of the biggest benefits jQuery introduces is the concept of treating single selections and multiple selections identically. While using jQuery, I can emit a $(".class").hide() call, which will apply to all elements with the matching class. Simple and elegant.

However, using native JS as the page suggests, I will need to construct a loop within my function, especially if I'm using the DOM supported getElementsByClassName method, returns a pseudo-array of DOM nodes which don't have the style method available on them. You'll notice the examples already assume a selected element and leave much of this heavy lifting out.

Furthermore, jQuery offers the selection simplicities of Sizzle (ie: "#div .container .item). To do the same selection process in vanilla JS, I'll need to nest 2 getElementsByClassName functions in a getElementByID function, and return the concatenated results from each potential .container. That is to say nothing of more complex selectors.

So yes, if you're addressing the absolute simplest form of selection, this works, but otherwise I don't think it's really presenting the situation honestly.

ivanca 3 days ago 1 reply      
>post-IE8, browsers are pretty easy to deal with on their own.


- CSS browser prefixes are automatically inserted by jQuery

- Many jQuery selectors don't exist in the CSS selector specification

- Looks really really ugly and that makes it hard to read for you and other coders.

    var pairs = $(".form").not(".old").serialize();    /* without jQuery */    var pairs = [].slice.call(document.querySelectorAll(".form"));    var data = forms.filter(function(ele){      return /\bold\b/.test(ele.className);    }).map(function(ele){       var form = ele.querySelectorAll("select, input, textarea");      var pairs = [].slice.call(form).map(function(subele){        // maybe if subele.type === "select"        // but I got tired of writing this example        // but that's the point anyway        return subele.name + ":" + (subele.value || "") + ";";      });      return pairs    }).join("").replace(/;$/, "");
So be kind with your co-workers, use jQuery. Even my 5 year old android can run jQuery without freezing the built-in browser.

sheetjs 3 days ago 2 replies      
Greenspun's Tenth, updated for 2014: "Any sufficiently complicated website contains an ad-hoc, informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of jQuery"

I understand the visceral opposition, but once you start writing a fallback to support some browser (something to support IE or FF or Safari or Chrome ...) you might as well use the battle-tested solution (and write your own thing if you find performance to be unacceptable and trace the bottleneck to jQuery)

polemic 3 days ago 2 replies      
This be right on a purist level, but on every practical level there is little reason not to use [library of your choice]. If you're loading from the google/jQuery CDN (with suitable fallback, obvs.) you've got a good chance of a cache hit, and even if it misses it's a tiny one-off penalty.

And ultimately, why not? jQuery works, has a wide base of users, etc. Sure your trivial Js might not need jQuery features now, but as you add more dynamic behaviour, at some point you'll wish you had just used it to begin with.

A better message might be: make sure you know what the underlying javascript looks like, because there are a lot of people helpless without jQuery.

PLUG: if you're bored of jQuery, try Dojo. Far more power, in a less intrusive form, IMO.

nostrademons 3 days ago 2 replies      
Couple improvements to some of the modern-browser code examples:


  element.style.transition = 'opacity 400ms ease-in-out';  element.style.opacity = 1;
Each & filter (this also applies to people's complaints about browser methods not working on collections):

  [].forEach.call(document.querySelectorAll(selector), function(el) { ... })
The native versions also usually run several times faster than the JQuery versions, which is the main reason to use them. This meme that you can't build performant, jank-free HTML5 mobile apps? It's largely because of JS libraries and developers that don't know which operations are fast and which are slow.

I'll also plug my colleague's autogenerated index of the HTML5 APIs:


notJim 3 days ago 1 reply      
I recently did a project that didn't use jQuery in order to keep my code smaller. It was an embedded 3rd-party widget, so keeping the code as small as possible was a key requirement. The code I wrote supports down to IE7, but IE7 wasn't really the biggest issue.

The real problem with not using jQuery is that all of the collective knowledge we have about browser inconsistencies is encapsulated in jQuery. When you run into this, and Google it, you'll find a million StackOverflow answers telling you to use jQuery, and if you get lucky a blog post from 2007 that actually answers your question. The result is that you end up spending time reverse-engineering jQuery to get your thing working.

To be clear, in my case the tradeoff was worth it (the code for my entire widget including the bits of library I had to write is smaller than jQuery), but it's not a tradeoff I would make unless I had a good reason.

phaed 3 days ago 5 replies      
You had me convinced until I scrolled down to read the code examples and realized why I actually do need jQuery. If its between adding yet another collection of utility functions to approximate the functionality jQuery would give me vs just adding jQuery. I'd rather go with jQuery.
hawkharris 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can count on one hand the number of jQuery features that most developers incorporate into their projects. E.g.:

- Setting or getting css attributes- Querying the DOM- Manipulating and walking through arrays

Each of these features can be replicated with fewer than 10 lines of code.

_greim_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
It isn't that these rebuttals are unsound, it's the sheer volume of them. A tidal wave of irritation and defensiveness always seems to accompany posts that dare question jQuery.

Unless the headline was changed by the mods, there's no hyperbole or sensationalism here. You might not need jQuery. Obviously. But many of these reactions don't belong here, they belong in a post titled You don't need jQuery, which would of course deserve to be downvoted to hell.

Obviously you don't need to pull in jQuery for every little twenty-line gizmo you publish on github. But don't you dare brag about this or you'll offend the sensibilities of those who've invested all their mental energy into learning jQuery and therefore remained ignorant of how browsers actually work.

exizt88 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, uh, what will I gain by ditching jQuery?

I will lose a beautiful API with a simple, terse and familiar syntax. I will have to work with an ugly, inconsistent and loquacious API, which has no guarantee of being cross-browser (or accounting for various browser quirks).

And for what? I doubt 81 KB would make much difference to 99.9% of my visitors.

As for performance -- it makes sense to rewrite bottlenecks in pure highly-optimized JS. But to write vanilla JS from scratch, without even knowing whether you'd need that performance boost is a pure waste of time.

UPD: it has been pointed out that this webpage is directed at developers of JS libraries. In this case, all these points are valid, but the title, then, seems to be either misleading (as in "link-bait" misleading) or a plain truism.

hamburglar 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's hard to tell if this site is advocating for ditching this type of js library altogether and writing all those replacements inline (ick for some of those) or simply replacing jQuery with a thinner (and narrower) library.

I could be convinced of the latter but not the former.

jsnk 3 days ago 4 replies      
"You might not need Ruby on Rails. Use C to rewrite tons of shit you need."

Use jQuery please.

Rewriting jQuery methods with vanilla js usually turns out to be a hack job that is buggy and ugly. Just use jQuery.

drawkbox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Indeed you don't need jQuery. Though, there are standards and there are market/industry standards. jQuery has become a market standard wrapper. If jQuery isn't used, developers will still write a wrapper to ease some of these methods. It is better if that is a common market standard like jQuery than everyone doing it.

The amazing part of jQuery still to this day, beyond the selectors (which can now be replaced yes), is the plugin system. Just like Python, there is a plugin for everything and if you don't like them or there isn't one, developers can easily make one and share it with the world and it just works (tm). It is the most easily pluggable javascript library. It creates a baseplane that developers can be more efficient in. Everybody tries to replace the jQuery selectors, animation etc but they miss that jQuery is a platform and a pluggable one at that. It is responsible for tons of productivity.

elclanrs 3 days ago 0 replies      
"You might not need jQuery" -- But you have to cope with ugly syntax, browser compatibility hacks, and disconnected pieces of code. By the time you re-factor all of this, make it user friendly and lower the cognitive load, you're already re-inventing the wheel by building your own jQuery replacement, with the parts that you need.

The beauty of jQuery is working with the DOM as collections. I don't see how it's better to have all these helpers like `nextSibling`, `matches`, or `filter` thrown in the global scope or having to remember is this a real array? jQuery already built solutions for these common problems and exposes a nice API.

If all I need is querying the DOM and I don't have to support IE8 then I may consider using vanilla JavaScript, or building my own simple jQuery-esque library. But you'd start with some structure, and expose your own API. I re-invented the DOM wheel many times, and from my experience, although the code is smaller, I end up going back to jQuery because it covers some edge case or provides something else I need, like AJAX, or nice events, etc.

But building your own DOM library is a good educational challenge. Querying the DOM is all about collections, and if you don't need IE8 then you can use all the ES5 arrays methods, like map and filter. It all boils down to four functions to work with collections: toArray, unique, flatten and query. And four functions to work with the DOM: compose, join, dot, loop. See here for an example http://jsbin.com/EgIkega/1/edit. The article is more about techniques to build your own jQuery-like library; I wouldn't use "el.nextElementSibling || nextElementSibling(el)" when I can use "$(el).next()". C'mon!

Conclusion, you are probably going to use jQuery anyway.

Arnor 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why so many comments here seem to have skipped over the word "might" and the entire introduction. The point isn't stop using jQuery. The point isn't even don't ever use jQuery for plugins. It's simply that if you're only using a couple features of jQuery, consider eliminating the dependency. Why is there so much backlash to that?
windsurfer 3 days ago 0 replies      
eli 3 days ago 1 reply      
> in truth, post-IE8, browsers are pretty easy to deal with on their own

I totally agree, but not everyone lives in a post-IE8 world. It's as much as 10% of our traffic on some sites and several big clients use it.

justinph 3 days ago 0 replies      
You might not need jQuery 1.x.

You might be able to use jQuery 2.x instead, which is smaller, faster, and drops support for IE8 and below.

hartator 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's odd, but after reading everything and the examples at the end, I feel we need jQuery more than ever. Kind the opposite of the OP is stating. Great post though.
at-fates-hands 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is fascinating to me since I'm already moving away from jQuery. I'm always looking for other ways to do what many people use jQuery for. For example, I'm now using CSS3 animations and transitions instead of jQuery.

I've also started using Angular.js quite a bit and have found most of the time, it requires less code than jQuery. It also has its own subset of jQuery "jqLite" which has a much smaller footprint so your app doesn't need to rely on that jQuery dependency.

padseeker 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use jQuery because the DOM API for javascript sucks, and writing jQuery is fun.

You're average web app perhaps doesn't need the latest Ruby/Python/PHP framework, or perhaps it you can write it without the framework. Or perhaps you can a compiled as opposed to interpreted language because that would be faster. OR maybe you can use something that is even faster, like perhaps Assembler! Fuck it write machine code if speed is the most important thing.

Do you know why you don't? Cause writing Assembler or machine code sucks. You lose very little in load time by including a minified version of jQuery, while you gain an enormous amount of ease of use and readability. Also it'll be more fun.

Just include the jQuery and be done with it.

lowglow 3 days ago 1 reply      
Makes me think of: http://vanilla-js.com/
mortenjorck 3 days ago 0 replies      
document.title.replace(You,Your JS library);
leobelle 3 days ago 0 replies      
querySelector and querySelectorAll have bugs in IE8. Checkout the jQuery source code and search for these functions and see the comments and workarounds if you want to be sure:


Notice the rbuggyQSA variable.

Also check out Quirksmode:


lhorie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little sad to see that nowadays there's a strong sentiment of "just use the pre-packaged tool", whereas when jQuery was still in its infancy, there was a lot of lively hacker-minded chatter on the down-and-dirty of getting things to be cross browser.

It's as if there are now two "levels" of people - "regular developers" and "framework designers", and only the latter are really supposed to know about the nitty-gritty. The excitement of finding out about standard, cross-browser gems like insertAdjacentHtml is all but gone :(

I get it that people are focusing more on the entrepreneurial side of things now, but I miss the banter of aspiring tinkerers.

chrislomax 2 days ago 0 replies      
You might not need [Insert Library Here].

Although this is true, you don't really need any library. The problem comes when you start to need that library. You make a decision to not use it at the start of the project and then the dependency of lower level JS functions grow and it turns out you do need it. What do you do then? Go and get a copy of jQuery and start to rewrite all your functions?

Hindsight is the problem here, I'd rather make the decision to use the (relatively) low sized jQuery library and not have to worry about how the project grows.

As the old saying goes, "It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it".

deliminator 3 days ago 0 replies      
My colleagues and I learnt that lesson the hard way. We are working on a WYSIWYG editor (Aloha-Editor) and the first version did depend on jQuery (and jQuery UI for that matter). That caused a lot of trouble for people integrating the editor in their websites, especially if they were already using jQuery. For our particular case we really didn't need it, as it's just as easy to say .getAttribute() instead of .attr(), and we didn't use selectors much, if at all. Effort is underway to get rid of the dependency from the core library in the next major release.
rralian 2 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I was on a jQuery-hating kick before I read this article, which explains some of the beauty behind the jQuery api.


I agree that you probably only want to use a small subset of jQuery (e.g., none of the UI, none of the transitions), and zeptojs is actually a really good alternative. But it really does provide some convenience.

Bahamut 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some of the examples are flawed. The ajax one for IE8+ is a big red flag, it's not as easy as that.

However, operating in the world without jQuery is scary for a new developer. I think it has its utility.

Note: I tend to prefer not to use jQuery, especially with AngularJS around. YMMV

coldcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes doing it yourself makes sense. But most often using a well tested battle hardened tool is better. I rarely if ever build my own car.
um304 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would still stick with jQuery because it lets me achieve more by writing less. Out of many things, just see triggering custom events. It'd be horrible if I'll have to write that piece of code again and again and make sure it's bug-free. And if I contain that long logic into a function for re-use, and use this approach for everything listed on the page, I'll end up writing my own library that I'll be including in each of my projects. Wait, why don't I use jQuery instead which is battle proven and better tested than my library ever will be?
sdegutis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wondered to myself, why did he create a custom website just to present this? It seems like a great way to position yourself as a skilled front-end developer and advertise your services to potential clients. I suppose it could also have been done out of some kind of altruism, but I'm guessing the former.

Either way, this is pretty neat, and I'll probably be bookmarking it. We're using ClojureScript now and migrating away from jQuery, so this may prove handy.

maresca 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are many things you don't need to do. I'll take the time saved in development over cutting out an extra framework.
dewiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apart from size and many functions that translate 1:1, where it really doesn't make sense to use Jquery (time to learn ?) there are two extra factors:1. the extra http call to load a library, that can be optimized2. licensing, some company cares about that and avoid the the hassle of having yet another license to understand and manage, there are costs involved

I've seen thousands of js snippets using jquery just because the developer doesn't the pure js syntax, or because he is used to start from adding jquery.

very good page indeed, thanks for spreading the knowledge.

jchrisa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great resource, even though it's not really about jQuery, it's about the success of HTML5. The fact that we have a working DOM, XHR, and a better understanding of polyfills in general does tip the balance away from depending on a "fix it" library.

I can see myself reaching for this page a lot. And the author has a point as the only reason I used Zepto on my last project was one of the libraries I needed used it.

If I am gonna use a fix it library today, it's more about nodejs/browser compatibility than worrying about browser issues.

hesselink 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, is that you can create custom builds of jQuery that only include some of the functionality: https://github.com/jquery/jquery#how-to-build-your-own-jquer...
acconrad 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm psyched by the idea that you don't need a bloated framework, but between using Zepto as an alternative, as well as the fact that some of this information is just plain wrong (e.g. they claim that the classList API is supported by IE8+, when in fact it is only supported by IE10+), this won't get you too far.
hugofirth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of people in both camps on this one.

It seems to me that if you are making a library, and therefore do not want to make assumptions about the availability of jQuery, one potential solution would be to go the route of AngularJS[1] and have a 'soft' dependency on jQuery.

In this instance you would use jQuery if it was present, but fall back on the code found in this submission if it wasn't.

Are there potential downsides to this solution that I am missing?

[1]: http://docs.angularjs.org/api/angular.element

mike-- 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my opinion jquery is a hell. Because jquery is only abstraction for browser features level (events, styles, dom), but it's ugly for writen complete code, for this need some like prototype.js or mootools, because it's have oop-style level for browser.
pacomerh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think many commenters are misunderstanding the main idea here. This page makes a strong case if you're just using jQuery for a few things in your site. I can see people complaining "why would I write all that code again? if jQuery offers a beautiful API?" if you're just using jQuery to do a few simple things (Which I've seen all over the place among peers) then why not just write the native version? it's only a few lines and you're saving a whole library in your load process
JacksonGariety 3 days ago 0 replies      
The important part of ditching jQuery isn't the load time, it's aiding the transition from monolithic libraries to loosely-bound components.
Gonzih 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well... I don't like this trend. I saw project once where main frontend guy decided to do stuff without jquery and etc. He said that vanilla.js is nice and people just don't get it. After project was done it worked only in firefox properly. Lot of time was spend after that to implement fixes for different browsers. So don't do that. Don't use vanilla js. Size of jquery is issues? Well you are trying to solve problem that does not exist.
trevorhartman 3 days ago 1 reply      
jQuery or <jQuery-compatible substitute> is one of the few things I don't have to think twice about before including in EVERY WEB PROJECT I EVER WORK ON before doing anything else.

Next up: you might not need <insert abstraction>.

Really?! What does "need" mean? Go write assembly.

isawczuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's plain stupid. Your code may work for IE8+, but there is no warranty that M$ will not do something stupid in IE16, and your code will be broken. jQuery is unified bridge between all major browsers, so you don't need to support all of them by yourself. "Support for all" is why we shift from compiled to VM languages, even though at the begin they were slower.
emehrkay 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've never liked jQuery. I use it because I am forced to. However, I will not write my own animation library, selector engine, and other helper utilities it provides.
tlrobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
The worst are things packaged as jQuery plugins that don't actually need to be a plugin, or even use much of jQuery at all.
dudus 3 days ago 0 replies      
DOMContentLoaded doesn't even get close to the jQuery counterpart $(document).ready. To start if the DOM is already loaded DOMContentLoaded won't fire and won't call the callback. On the other hand ready will notice that the DOM is loaded and fire the CB right away.
zertosh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Articles like this miss the _true_ genius of jQuery that it basically wraps all DOM operations in a maybe monad. You get null safety for free.
superlupo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Recently, I have developed a small page where I wanted not to use jQuery on purpose and code against the DOM APIs instead. For IE8 compatibility I have used [1] (so I could use addEventListener and DOMContentLoaded for example), and also shims for ES5 [2] (e.g. Array.prototype.forEach) and classList [3].While I did not run in any troubles, I don't think it is worth the effort, alone just because jQuery has a much nicer and shorter API (cp. ".on()" vs. ".addEventListener()").

But I still support the case that not every plugin/library developer should depend on jQuery by default, even if it is not necessary.

[1] https://github.com/WebReflection/ie8[2] https://github.com/es-shims/es5-shim[3] https://github.com/eligrey/classList.js

cozuya 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for traversing the bounds of space and time and posting this blog post from the year 2018 when IE8 is no longer supported for enterprise.
fredsters_s 2 days ago 0 replies      
[Component](https://github.com/component/component). That is all.
kmfrk 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's a good resource to read up on how browsers handle unsupported JS, if I want to write a fall-back?

I've already got fall-back for people who've turned off JS, but I've yet to write anything for unsupported JS.

exizt88 3 days ago 1 reply      

> $('<div>').append($(el).clone()).html()


> el.outerHTML

Why not $(el)[0].outerHTML?

Yaggo 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my personal projects (and clients' too unless paid extra), I target for modern browsers + IE10 and haven't used jQuery for long time. Native APIs are good enough once you get used to them. Actually jQuery starts to feel cumbersome (this binding in .each() etc).
achairapart 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel empathy for the OP, for two main reasons:

1) The fact that some people don't realize that JavaScript != jQuery scares me.

2) jQuery born when cross-browser compatibility was a mess and today it still carries that weight. I think nowadays it needs to be more modular and less monolithic.

npongracic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is great, i was also thinking of replacing jquery functionality in some of my scripts with native methods and this helps me alot.

One question though, what is the pure javascript equivalent of $(document).on('click', '.selector', function() { // do something });

This is the new jquery .live() replacement and i need it because normal events stop working after async postbacks (eg. from an asp.net UpdatePanel).

Will this code do the trick if i attach it to the document element? Also i need IE8+ support :)

function addEventListener(el, eventName, handler) { if (el.addEventListener) el.addEventListener(eventName, handler) else el.attachEvent('on' + eventName, handler)}

addEventListener(el, eventName, handler)

chenster 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you only care about IE such as inside corporate intranet, and never had to worry about cross browser compatibility, knock yourself out. On the other hand, the scalablity and performance on the intranet usually are not a high priority. Why not just learn jQuery rather than tight yourself up to vender specific, proprietary technology?
dsego 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't you set request.onload before calling request.send?
abus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please can we embed jQuery in browsers instead of the standard being to use Google's hosted copy.
caiob 3 days ago 0 replies      
https://cloudup.com/cSLcmVC5F9h <--- Def not a good example. heheGreat website, though.
hipsters_unite 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's probably better to have it than not if you're going to be using AJAX, as at least jQuery implements promises (after a fashion).
shittyanalogy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chaining and implicit iterators.
enscr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to use a jQuery 'lite' version, just for the convenience and brevity of expressions. Some of it should be baked into javascript.
ateevchopra 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know if i need jQuery or not But your page is seriously a great "Cheat Sheet" for all jQuery Learners out there ! Thanks
6thSigma 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't get it. From the examples it seems that the jquery way of implementing things is much easier and more concise. Isn't that the entire point of a library?
hacknat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man, the front-end developers really came out of the wood-works for this one.
julie1 3 days ago 1 reply      
I may not need jquery for compatibility, I need it because it makes code in a language I find unesthetic and unconsitent more readable.Yes I can do vanilla JS, but my productivity and readability in jquery is better. And this site proves my claim: all their vanillaJS exemple are less expressive and more error prone.
Fizzadar 3 days ago 0 replies      
jQuery still has it's uses... like when it's essential to have consistent support across browsers old & new. However I much prefer to tell users who insist on using out-of-date/poorly-built browsers to upgrade or fuck off, hopefully gently encouraging them to do so.
puppetmaster3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Most CSS Frameworks require jQuery.Most designers are familiar w/ jQuery.If you use CDN, some other app likely downloaded jQuery already.

People that are not fans of jQuery are people that are are only familiar w/ MVC on client side and are not using APIs (ex: Parse, Kinvey, etc.)

k_bx 3 days ago 0 replies      
In first example:

> data = JSON.parse(request.responseText)

Maybe "var data = ..."?

LukeHoersten 3 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be cool if you could search a URL and it would analyse whether you need JQuery or not.
neduma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome site with clear message. +1
ahahah 3 days ago 0 replies      
My contribution here is that we have a possible acronym troll on our hands.

"You're [the] man now, ninja!"?

As in: Code ninja?

Re-use is fun. See?

ricket 3 days ago 0 replies      
Boy, these snippets are really cool! Some of them are a bit longer in vanilla JS, though, so I think I'll wrap them in a utility of helper functions.

Oh wait -- that's what jQuery is!

kirbyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
jQuery's overhead is so minimal. Also, virtually every example of pure js was more verbose. jQueries selectors alone is such a great selling point.
fatiherikli 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a mistake in Matches section. The `is` method is not equal to `===` operator.
_zen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why code with Rails instead of raw Ruby?Why code C++ instead of C?Why use Boostrap?

Choose one:

- Performance

- Rapid development

nfoz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I should probably register pleasedontusejavascript.com
hizldizl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seeing how many of these hand-picked trivial code examples are still made easier by jQuery just makes me want to use it all the more.
sbilstein 3 days ago 0 replies      
drop jquery and repeat yourself everywhere
scotty79 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next up: You might not need warm water.
finalight 2 days ago 0 replies      
forget it, i rather just use the jQuery

i have better things to do than merely writing my own dependency

wnevets 3 days ago 0 replies      
the dom traversal/chaining in jquery is a big reason why I use it. The native API simply isnt as nice.
westoque 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, you just showed me why I DO need jQuery. Thanks. :)
BigBalli 2 days ago 0 replies      
no one "needs" jQuery.
leterter 3 days ago 1 reply      
AngularJS is all you need.
ests 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or in other words: YMNNJQ
jbeja 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would glad to see a youmightneedclojurescript.com.
Gmail was down google.com
913 points by d1egoaz  9 days ago   457 comments top 171
simonsarris 9 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 9 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 9 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.

sillysaurus2 9 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?

avolcano 9 days ago 5 replies      
Google Plus is down.

I don't think anyone's noticed yet.

memset 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 3 replies      
Their app status page says it is up, but for me it is down as well.


ia 9 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.
IvyMike 9 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.

VonGuard 9 days ago 2 replies      
Confirmed by my own email not working.... Probably limited to a small subset of users though.
Fauntleroy 9 days ago 2 replies      
Google Music is also having some trouble. Does this affect other services as well?
dshankar 9 days ago 1 reply      
sinak 9 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 9 days ago 1 reply      
User d1egoaz just hit the Karma Lottery. First and only submission: 435 points in 18 minutes.
dsilver 9 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...

codex_irl 9 days ago 29 replies      
Say where you are located.

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

sdegutis 9 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?
wbhart 9 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.
sp332 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm also getting 503's from http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/
irunbackwards 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Also confirming down for me and my co-workers.
vhost- 9 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.

jlgaddis 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Some blogspot blogs are down as well.
rattray 9 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:


smoyer 9 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!).
pinaceae 9 days ago 1 reply      

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

ChuckMcM 9 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? :-)
msoad 9 days ago 1 reply      
Google Play is not working for me either
frik 9 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.


JGM564 9 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.

theshitlist 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Dead at my end too... :-)
adamgravitis 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Gmail for your domain (Google Apps for domains, or whatever it's called) is down as well.
staked 9 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!
spoiler 8 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?

TallGuyShort 9 days ago 0 replies      
I've been having intermittent problems with the GMail-integrated Talk / Hangouts client all day as well.
mattew 9 days ago 0 replies      
Down for me and another user.
mudil 9 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 9 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.
nostromo 9 days ago 1 reply      
YouTube comments and Google+ as well.
rel 9 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.
guynamedloren 9 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 9 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.

w1ntermute 9 days ago 0 replies      
Weird, I seem to be one of the few without any problems.

Edit: Gmail up, Hangouts down.

bsgreenb 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Started with me not being able to download an attachment about 7 minutes ago. Now down fully.
larubbio 9 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)
aabalkan 9 days ago 0 replies      
Google Plus is a big whitespace https://plus.google.com/
ngonzal 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully they get it fixed soon! But I wouldn't mind if Plus never came back..
nsns 9 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Google can be DDOSed; isn't it always?
chunky1994 9 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 9 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.
zobzu 9 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)

cl8ton 9 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

senorsmile 9 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."
Cymen 9 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)

kohanz 9 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back! 2:24pm EST here in Ontario, Canada.
btmills 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/gmail.com - more accurate than google app status
lukazar 9 days ago 0 replies      
Well, someone is having a really bad day @ google today.
tomrod 9 days ago 0 replies      

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

lewsid 9 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.
AznHisoka 9 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!

tomrod 9 days ago 0 replies      
Now all services are down.


ams6110 9 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.
ChristianMarks 9 days ago 0 replies      
Same here. The GMail status page seems at variance with the actual status.

Manhattan, New York. Verizon DSL.

tangoalpha 9 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
vermontdevil 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's been up and down for me.
vladtaltos 8 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who finds this google status page a bit difficult to interpret?
cykho 9 days ago 0 replies      
I love how their status page says they're still up. Who will watch the watchers ;p
washedup 9 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone's gmail in my Chicago office is down.
stan_rogers 9 days ago 0 replies      
Not anymore, it isn't. As global outages go, that was quick.
clarky07 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not well equipped to handle life without gmail.
bederoso 9 days ago 0 replies      
Not working for me in USA and my coworkers in Brazil, definitely widespread
igvadaimon 9 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.
jebblue 9 days ago 0 replies      
Glad Google is keeping people informed, also glad to see I'm not the only one developing GWT apps.
techaddict009 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Yahoo seems to be enjoying this news: https://twitter.com/Yahoo/status/426795724542455808
anilshanbhag 9 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 !
mikegreen 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like google decided that we should all take a break from the internet.
snake_plissken 9 days ago 0 replies      
China is probably about the dump all of their T-Bills...
arcdigital 9 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 9 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)!

brianmcdonough 8 days ago 0 replies      
I know a lot of people use gmail, but I never understood why...
codex_irl 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's back for me - bay area.
ChristianMarks 9 days ago 0 replies      
I wager 25 cents that no explanation is forthcoming fro Google.
acdanger 9 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back.
pgrote 9 days ago 0 replies      
It is back for me in Missouri, USA.
vrp101 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Reason #33 I host my own email.
dragos2 9 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if a potential incoming email would be lost when Gmail is down?
senorsmile 9 days ago 1 reply      
Was back for a minute, back down again.
stormqloud 9 days ago 0 replies      
Their uptime is excellent.

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

FR6 9 days ago 0 replies      
The free public beta is now over. ;)
MaysonL 9 days ago 0 replies      
Just came back for me
baq 9 days ago 0 replies      
yup, and talk too.
obliojoe 9 days ago 0 replies      
It is up for me now, except that I am unable to add any attachments to emails.
Pro_bity 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's like a snow day.
vezzy-fnord 9 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.

thrush 9 days ago 1 reply      
down for me. NY, NY
chmars 9 days ago 0 replies      
My Gmail is back :)
j-rom 9 days ago 0 replies      
Wow I was just about to post this here. Front page already too.
hiccup 9 days ago 0 replies      
With Gmail down, now I get a chance to catch up on HackerNews.
fjcaetano 9 days ago 1 reply      
Up in Brazil... fuckyeah!?
curiouscat321 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm back. Google Apps using SSO server. Anybody else?
ratsimihah 9 days ago 0 replies      
Someone updates this title. Gmail is up again.
NullXorVoid 9 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait to read the post-mortem about this one.
bevenky 9 days ago 0 replies      
Back now in San Francisco!
baq 9 days ago 0 replies      
guys guys it's up again
vrkr 9 days ago 0 replies      
Down in Montreal!
jbeja 9 days ago 0 replies      
Dead here as well.
codecondo 9 days ago 0 replies      
intsunny 9 days ago 0 replies      
Google voice appears to be down as well.
elwell 9 days ago 0 replies      
Back up for me.
stokedmartin 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's back!
data_app 9 days ago 0 replies      
apps dashboard says app but gmail is down for me and my co-workers as well.
momchenr 9 days ago 0 replies      
And it's back.
nikbackm 9 days ago 0 replies      
Up and running in Europe.
ozi 9 days ago 0 replies      
Annnnd it's back up!
paulrd 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's back up for me.
coreymgilmore 9 days ago 0 replies      
backup but slow...changes are most likely still propagating out
rinon 9 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, same here... oops!
mwenge 9 days ago 0 replies      
Still down in Ireland.
geovizer 9 days ago 0 replies      
...and it's back!
dingdingdang 9 days ago 0 replies      
yup down in the UK too
lhgaghl 9 days ago 1 reply      
html5web 9 days ago 0 replies      
Down for me in NYC
cunninghamd 9 days ago 0 replies      
down for me too, in Ontario, Canada.
ericcope 9 days ago 0 replies      
the mighty beast falls... Down for me in Phoenix, AZ.
jorlow 9 days ago 0 replies      
Down for us as well
washedup 9 days ago 0 replies      
dec0dedab0de 9 days ago 0 replies      
looks good now
nichochar 9 days ago 0 replies      
never seen a thread get so many votes so far. Damn you google
sethwhite1 9 days ago 0 replies      
also down in Madison wi at 1:18pm Friday (CST)
juanpdelat 9 days ago 0 replies      
Is down in Boston
lotux 9 days ago 0 replies      
down in montreal
vrp101 9 days ago 0 replies      
its back up in gandhinagar, india
rsingla 9 days ago 0 replies      
Back for me.
taigeair 9 days ago 0 replies      
that was fast
aswani521 9 days ago 0 replies      
down for me & my coworkers
lewsid 9 days ago 0 replies      
Down in VT.
ejk314 9 days ago 0 replies      
esMazer 9 days ago 0 replies      
it's been fine for me
senorsmile 9 days ago 0 replies      
adventureartist 9 days ago 0 replies      
aaaaand we're back
withouted 9 days ago 0 replies      
blogger is down as well
joeevans 9 days ago 0 replies      
back, but not sending.
yashness 9 days ago 0 replies      
Its up !
bnzelener 9 days ago 0 replies      
Back up.
lukka5 9 days ago 0 replies      
Something explode at Google
mprogano 9 days ago 1 reply      
...someones getting fired
sudeep1 9 days ago 0 replies      
down in Nepal here
petsagouris 9 days ago 0 replies      
down in Greece too
mplangley 9 days ago 1 reply      
down in sw ohio.
jonli1 9 days ago 0 replies      
up but flaky...
TinyTimZamboni 9 days ago 0 replies      
dfm down for me
atrniv 9 days ago 0 replies      
down in india
bvrlt 9 days ago 0 replies      
sudeep1 9 days ago 0 replies      
now up
mickt 9 days ago 0 replies      
charleswalter 9 days ago 0 replies      
so what? i dont use gmail
Network Solutions Auto-Enroll: $1,850 inessential.com
882 points by zdw  12 days ago   246 comments top 77
brandon272 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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 12 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 12 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 12 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.

Pitarou 12 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 12 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.

sytelus 12 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.

firebones 12 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 12 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 12 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.

zedpm 12 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.

busterarm 12 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.

chewxy 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't it their job to not illegitimately allow changes to your domains in the first place?
michaelhoffman 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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.

delinka 12 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?
arbuge 11 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.
llamataboot 11 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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 12 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 11 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 11 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 12 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 12 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 12 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.

xer0x 12 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 12 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.
johnjlocke 12 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.
jypepin 12 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!

sifarat 12 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...

pseingatl 11 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.
aquadrop 12 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.
blantonl 12 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 12 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 12 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.
elwell 12 days ago 0 replies      
I was really pleased with the instantaneous load of this blog.
jaebrown 12 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.
blueskin_ 11 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.
andrew2984 11 days ago 1 reply      
Network Solutions now says they will not automatically enroll anyone into the program. It will be opt-in only:


thrush 11 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

deepsun 12 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...
thupten 11 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 12 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 12 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.
brianzelip 12 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).
emacdona 11 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.

drdeadringer 12 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.
dschiptsov 11 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like famous "Darklord of the Internet " article got wide adoption.

Being "successful" scammer is now considered a vertue.

bjitty 12 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.

spullara 12 days ago 0 replies      
This finally convinced me to move the last 5 domains I had hosted there out.
bhartzer 11 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.
CodeWriter23 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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 12 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.
oliversong 12 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.
protez 11 days ago 0 replies      
Unbelievably sustainable business practice. It's amazing that they've been doing that decades after decades.
bebop 11 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 11 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 12 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 11 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 11 days ago 0 replies      
How hard is it for anyone to file a small claims?Not hard I think.
rrich 12 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! Definitely time to get out of there.
cranklin 12 days ago 0 replies      
People still use network solutions? lol j/k
tapmap 12 days ago 0 replies      
cheeky fuckers
US Media Blacks Out Snowden Interview benswann.com
777 points by spenvo  21 hours ago   215 comments top 49
tptacek 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Reddit takedown of this stupid blog post: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/1wddfp/us_media_bl...

Of course, on the Internet, it's not Occam's Razor that controls, but Godwin's, which states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the greatest dramatic implications must be selected.

spenvo 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Try searching CNN for "Snowden Interview" and there is NO mention of it. Same with MSNBC's search - nothing about this interview in the results.

Also, scroll down to user "Nostromo's" counter (claiming the media did cover the story) w/links and then my reply.

This kind of blatant dereliction of duty in US journalism (IMHO) presages the governments' plans for controlling the (M)essage on websites. One can only assume they have a turnkey solution to suppress submissions and comments on HN, Reddit, etc.

Support projects that attempt to combat censorship at the technological level. This is coming from someone who is working on my own* anti-censorship project. (I care more about the mission than the glory.) retroshare.sourceforge.net promises a great deal and looks OK from a mile-high view (except for mythical documentation). *check profile if interested

nostromo 19 hours ago 1 reply      
All from a few days ago:




Just search "ARD snowden" on Google News. Not front page, but not hidden either.

Giving the interview right around the State of the Union probably didn't help it get any attention in the US.

dogweather 19 hours ago 4 replies      
We need to keep our paranoia in check. That article is B.S. wrong on all the verifiable points. And the rest is just random guesses.

I went and checked the German news (I'm American but lived in Germany 5 years, and am still fluent) and it turns out that ARD screwed the pooch on this one: the two most respected media outlets in Germany are pissed off and have written about ARD's shoddy editing and refusal to provide easy access to the full interview. Here are my translations for the titles:

Der Spiegel"ARD relegates Snowden interview to the middle of the night"http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/ard-versendet-sno...

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ("FAZ")"The Snowden interview is going around the world ... or not?http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/edward-snowden-...

Now, the Spiegel linked to ARD's mini-site for Snowden stuff, which claims to have the full video and full transcript in English: http://www.ndr.de/ratgeber/netzwelt/snowdeninterview101.html

And then this article all about how ARD at first would only put the interview out with the German dubbing. Then, under pressure, ARD released it with the original sound. But, wouldn't make it accessible overseas...

Der Spiegelhttp://www.spiegel.de/kultur/tv/ndr-veroeffentlicht-snowden-...

jobu 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Occam's Razor - Which is more likely?

1) The US government has persuaded major media outlets CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NYT, etc. to bury the interview.

2) The German media company that did the inteview is asking foreign news outlets for more money than they're willing to pay for the interview (and is protecting its copyright by having internet copies taken down).

greenyoda 18 hours ago 7 replies      
I highly recommend watching this interview, in which Snowden clearly explains his motives for doing what he did and describes the scope of the data collection carried out by the NSA and its allied foreign intelligence agencies. While I've followed this story quite extensively, this is first time I've actually watched an interview with Snowden, and I was very impressed with his intelligence, thoughtfulness, depth of knowledge and eloquence. (The interview is 30 minutes long.)
ck2 17 hours ago 1 reply      
PBS Newshour mentioned the interview on ARD


but obviously cannot rebroadcast the interview unless ARD gave permission.

AP also mentions it http://bigstory.ap.org/article/german-tv-snowden-says-nsa-al...

_stephan 19 hours ago 2 replies      
In addition, the video has been taken down almost immediately every time its posted on YouTube.

AFAIK, the German company that produced the interview didn't sell the international rights to the German broadcaster, which is also why the original video is geolocked to Germany. So I'd guess it's this company that's behind the YouTube takedowns.

rdl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe this is due to stupid copyright issues, not anything particular sinister by the US media. I have approximately zero problem pirating it, so http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f93_1390833151
k-mcgrady 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Complete made up speculation. I'm in the UK, read & watch the news everyday, and didn't know this interview was happening. It's also the first time I've seen it mentioned online. It wasn't promoted properly. Re: YouTube takedowns - wouldn't it be the producer of the programme taking those videos down? You make it sound like the USG is removing videos from YouTube.
spenvo 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Other HNers 'dogwatcher', '_stephan', 'rdl' - have brought to light related copyright issues -- which might explain (in part) the lack of coverage on Cable media stations and have discredited the link. That said, the content of the interview was substantial and of eminent importance (newsworthy) for all US citizens.

Print media or long-form web articles on nytimes.com, etc, shouldn't have concerned themselves with rights to video (see my response to 'nostromo').

I was unaware of the copyright/licensing issues when I made the submission.

d0ugie 15 hours ago 2 replies      
A blackout ordered by the government, huh. Quite an allegation.

But don't forget to consider that rather than the American media, not a small bunch to corral easily, conspiring at the government's request not to report on something "juicy," that the media may have simply had things to cover that they felt were juicier or were perhaps spooked by the incendiary nature of the interview and engaged in self-censorship. And that it's possible American media has a different take on what's juicy and what's become old news versus foreign media.

Also consider that with the Internet it's not easy anymore to effectively create a media blackout over something not much worse than what's already been revealed by the media without repercussions. Plenty of hungry journalists looking to make a heroic name for themselves by defying such an order in the name of freedom.

Maybe it's true, but it's also pretty far-fetched, don't immediately presume it's true.

srl 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The reddit comment pavanky links to (by Natedogg213) does a pretty good job pointing out the fact that this story simply isn't true, and is really just another case of lazy "mainstream media sux" claims. I'd like to add something from the other end:

Yes, it's true that this snowden interview wasn't well-reported on. It certainly wasn't blacked out, or suppressed, or whatever, but editors must not have considered it front-page material. That's because it /isn't/.

On days when HN collectively has its wits about it, we're lamenting the fact that too much journalism has focused on Snowden himself, and not enough on the important stories: what was revealed, how the NSA responded, how representatives (collectively and individually), and what the likely political future is for a reform bill. These are stories that give voters important and interesting information, and they tend to be very well covered. This interview doesn't reveal interesting new information in these areas.

josh_fyi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
bonemachine 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nothing conspiratorial in the fact that the networks (correctly) assess that the American viewing public would rather watch Mad Men or Game of Thrones than The Snowden Files, any night of the week.
l33tbro 17 hours ago 2 replies      
It's not news because no one cares. You guys all live in a bubble where you think this is the most important issue in the world right now. Maybe it is. But, honestly, no one cares.
daanlo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
With regards to the video not appearing on youtube and many other places.The recording TV station that holds the rights to the interview (ARD /NRD) purposefully blocked international visitors from seeing the video through geo blocking, as they only hold distribution rights in Germany. I assume they would also force youtube to remove the video if it is uploaded to protect their copyright.

The details as to why and how are explained in the second half of this article (unfortunately in German): http://m.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/edward-snowden-un...

In short it is a copyright fck-up on behalf of the German TV channel that made a mistake when transferring the copyright from its subsidiary to itself. The international distribution right is now stuck somewhere in Nirvana in between the companies, which is why they aren't able to give/sell the video to other international TV stations like CNN, for them to show it.

At least this is my legal understanding of the situation. You can use a proxy like zenmate and see the video here: http://m.ardmediathek.de/Edward-Snowden-interview-in-english...

kevinpet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you say:

> The interview has been intentionally blocked from the US public

You need to present some semblance of evidence that that's the case. I will grant that it's interesting that this hasn't been covered in the US, but this article is a suspicion being presented as a proven fact.

morsch 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I submitted a Google translation of the German transcript right after the broadcast and the original English video shortly after that. The submissions didn't get a whole lot of upvotes (2 and 5 respectively). I just figured nobody cared.

The YouTube video is still up and I was told the video was available internationally, though I did not verify that.



zwischenzug 14 hours ago 0 replies      
NSA leader lied under oath to Congress.

Why is this not as big as Watergate?

coldcode 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Whether or not there is some kind a conspiracy, which doesn't seem credible to me, the US media could have interviewed Snowden if they wanted to anywhere in the world he felt safe. But they don't appear to care to since it might make that network lose access to politicians and government officials and be branded by rivals as traitors. That's far more likely.
maxtheman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
MaysonL 19 hours ago 1 reply      

josh_fyi and I seem to have had the same search result simultaneously.

DelightfulScone 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Well that is interesting. I typically jump to Google News in response to such accusations to show a thread of stories on the subject 'being blacked out.' In this case..

Shows some search results: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&authuser=0...

Clicking on the '73 news sources' link results in blank thread: https://news.google.com/news?ncl=dePJixL6H8f9VzMIt-2rs1GZLI9...

zeeed 18 hours ago 0 replies      
it's available in full on archive.org:


ZenoArrow 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Why are people focusing on the 'blackout' angle instead of talking about the content of the interview?
wismer 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This website, this source for "investigative journalism" includes a video that claims that there's a link between autism and vaccines.


zimbatm 13 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I think they need to cover is how he got hold of all these documents as a 3rd party contractor. Was it just available on a shared file server or did he had to hack into some kind of data store ?

I suspect that most government agencies where already aware of the capabilities of the NSA, either because they where cooperating or because it's so easy to get access. If Snowden could do it, how many others did it for private interests ?

bachback 13 hours ago 0 replies      
democracy now is a great channel. they covered it briefly. they had Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange many times in the past.


kartikkumar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it astounding to think that he's my age. His thoughtfulness and eloquence in circumstances that are nothing short of movie-like are incredible. Although this might not have been a hard-hitting interview that tasked Snowden about the manner and nature of his revelations, what is clear is that he is a definitely a thinker. As much as everyone has his flaws, I can only really thank him for attempting to open up our eyes so that we can get a glimpse of what reality might really be like below the thin veil that perceive around us.
shmerl 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What else could one expect from the Orwellian government? This only proves the point that press in the police state is just a tool of power, not an independent media by any means.
joelrunyon 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny they don't even include it on overall timelines like they have here - http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/multimedia/timeline-ed...
josefresco 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What if "the media" found that insistently reporting on the Snowden story wasn't popular among it's readership?

Much more boring than a conspiracy but plausible IMHO.

gojomo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there examples of YouTube excerpts that have been taken down? What has been the takedown rationale? (Rightsholder-objection? Law-enforcement?)
throwwit 19 hours ago 0 replies      
http://world.time.com/2014/01/27/snowden-german-tv-comments/ isn't censored as far as I can tell. The "Sorry This video does not exist." is a bit ominous tho.
smoyer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The site is down ... did his server crash under the load, or is the government getting better at blacking out the media? News at 11:00 (or not).
ulfw 19 hours ago 2 replies      
That's called "Freedom" I believe.
jlgaddis 17 hours ago 0 replies      
lovskogen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Facebook Paper doesn't allow these kinds of non-american news sources. It would totally spoil my reality.
thomaszander 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For all living in the US, proof the story-teller wrong by linking to this video on liveleak on their social media and suggesting their friends and family look at the full 30 minutes interview.

Getting to the truth is about hearing both sides of a story, so anyone not willing to listen or let others listen to Snowdens story is part of the problem.

joshfraser 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Good interview, terrible blog post.
Cowicide 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The Land of the Free, Inc. institutes 'Freedom Lite' for an "easier to digest" corporatist fantasy for public consumption. And, Americans eat it up.
heroh 11 hours ago 0 replies      
in other news UK is on the verge of passing legislation tomorrow which will allow Police to SEIZE Journalist notes/files/etc. WITHOUT ANY due process... blatant censorship.

If this bill passes there won't be news to blackout.


detcader 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems clear that the virtual blackout of this insightful interview is yet another deliberate attempt to obfuscate the truth from the view of the American public. The media has continually attempted to shill the official government lies about mass domestic surveillance programs, justifying them as necessary to fight the War on Terror, while attempting to painting Mr. Snowden as a traitor.

Say what you want about the other claims of this article, this is pretty spot-on and should be the concern of all U.S. citizens (by virtue of, y'know, citizenship). This person worked for our government, and facilitated the release of huge amounts of classified information. This is Of Interest to everyone, whether you love him or hate him.

CryptcWriter 8 hours ago 0 replies      
a lot of media seemed to cover this... even if they didn't link to the actual interview it took me about 2 seconds to find it online...
ninjac0der 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This can only be for the betterment of your country, do not resist.
notastartup 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just googled `ard snowden interview` and all the first page of results, youtube, vimeo, etc., are all inaccessible as video is not available. I think I just had a North Korean moment.
jasonlingx 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Will this get blacked out on hacker news as well?
weintrouble 8 hours ago 0 replies      
After reading this I need to find a new country mine is broken and I really no longer desire to attempt to fix it.
Confessions of an ex-TSA agent politico.com
772 points by dsr12  2 days ago   190 comments top 23
nostromo 2 days ago 1 reply      
On The Media has been running an initiative to get lawmakers to answer basic questions about TSA and DHS policy. The agency has been stonewalling reporters so they've asked that citizens call lawmakers directly and ask a series of questions.


avalaunch 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite stories came from one of the linked articles that he wrote while still on the job.


I recall one time I did a bag check on a man from Detroit, once the auto-making capital of the world. Having been informed by the x-ray operator that there was a bottle of water in the bag, I pulled it out and quickly sensed that something was slightly off. Then, I realized what it was: there was an enormous dildo rubber-banded to it. I then had an epiphany, spreading over me like a sunrise, beautiful and exhilarating: he wanted me to have to deal with the dildo. He did it on purpose. In rubber-banding that dildo to the water bottle he knew we would target, he seemed to say:

Yes, I have a dildo, federal officer. Even after the horrors of 9/11, I am still alive; full of vitality, love, sex and, later tonight, that large dildo rubber-banded to the water you are about to confiscate from me. That bottle of water, bought with hard-earned American dollars to relinquish my bodily fluids, so as to make me strong and keep the wheels of commerce of this great nation turning. In taking my water, I want you, federal officer, to know that the terrorists have won, and that you are complicit. I want you to see my dildo. To hold it in your hand; to know that I, as well as my fellow passengers and countrymen, are strong and resilient.

That we, the people of this great nation, can, and will, snap back, like that rubber band.

rosser 2 days ago 7 replies      
Im not trying to tread upon your First Amendment rights, she said. All Im saying is: Couldnt you have run those First Amendment rights past the legal department first?

Welcome to modern America.

beloch 1 day ago 0 replies      
The bit about racial profiling is spot on, but heavily understated. People who are clearly U.S. citizens are merely inconvenienced and embarrassed by the TSA's shenanigans. If you know somebody from either the middle-east or a country noted for supplying narcotics (e.g. Mexico) who has flown through the U.S., even just to transfer to a connecting flight, ask them what their experience was like. The TSA treats U.S. citizens like Hollywood celebrities by comparison! The stories I've heard frequently cross the line into what any reasonable person would define as outright abuse. Obviously, few victims stand up for themselves.

The terrorists didn't win. The TSA became the terrorists.

EpicEng 2 days ago 14 replies      
Why we don't take a page out of the Israeli's book is beyond me. They have been dealing with this for much longer, have made the mistakes we are currently making, and have learned from them.

Their airports don't have long lines and pat downs by ill-trained employees (lines of course exist, but they are shorter and not what we in the US are used to). Instead they hire fewer, educated and skilled persons, many of whom are, behaviorists to determine potential threats. It works; the last successful airport attack in Israel was in 1986, and they have prevented many since.

I remember reading about this in an interview with an ex Israeli defense minister years ago, but I couldn't find that article. This one sums it up though: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/01/11/yeffet.air.security.is...

jarrett 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do government employees enjoy full protection from the First Amendment? It's not a simple yes or no answer. Whether a given utterance is protected depends on a variety of factors, but probably the most important one for low-ranking TSA employees is that the speech must be of public concern to be protected. I suspect that a front-lines TSA officer who writes a letter to the editor about the TSA would be entitled to First Amendment protection, per Pickering v Board of Education.

Here's a bit more info, with summaries of relevant cases:


ck2 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's interesting how they mostly got a pass this past holiday travel season.

Barely saw anything about them. So even the media is looking the other way now.

btbuildem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really, nobody's gonna say it? Okay, fine. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. You, guy wearing the uniform, you the mindless meat puppet acting out nonsensical policy directives. Without you, there is no system, yet you choose to participate in it, you enable it, you make it real.

I understand some people have no choice, family to support, made bad choices in the past that limit their opportunities now.. but you, good sir? You get no pass whatsoever. Young, male, educated -- one would expect you'd try harder than to settle into a TSA job.

malandrew 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really wish more people in government had the gumption that this agent has to speak out about how public trust is being abused.

On a different not, I'm certain that I'm not the only one who read the Selectee Passport List in the voice of Yakko, Wakko and Dot.

lucb1e 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thought this was a great website with great content, reading this interesting article without annoying pagination (though the option was there if I had wanted it) at a comfortable font size.

Clicking through to the homepage, it turns out they also feature a call to censor Snowden: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/edward-snowde...

Never mind. This makes me doubt what I just read.

thorntonbf 2 days ago 0 replies      
This quote has had me thinking all morning:

"The thought nagged at me that I was enabling the same government-sanctioned bigotry my father had fought so hard to escape."

hisabness 1 day ago 0 replies      
i went through the airport yesterday on my way to watch the Broncos win the super bowl. TSA had a new procedure which required travelers to touch a screen and give up their fingerprints then get their hands swabbed in order to collect DNA. later in the procedure travelers are asked to show their ids, which are then placed under 'infrared' scanners. given all the recent discussion about the pseudo anonymity of our interactions with various software services i found this to be more almost as intrusive as body scans. essentially, the tsa could be doing the following:

1. touch screen so we have a fingerprint2. touch again if it didn't work the first time so we potentially have 2 fingerprints 3. swab finger for DNA sample that we'll link to step 1 and/or 24. place id under scanner which we'll link to steps 1-35. triangulate all these data points over many years until the TSA has a complete database with everyone's unique identifying info...

pstack 2 days ago 1 reply      
All you need to know about those performing the TSA roles can be learned from one trip through a security line, where some fat obnoxious woman screams at paying customers and american citizens like they're children and berate and segregate (for further humiliation or harassment) anyone who dares question anything or do anything but be blindly and unwaveringly obedient.
smsm42 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always opt out from the body scanners, and I have yet to see another person do it (which implies very small number do, otherwise by pure chance I'd see somebody do it by now). Looks like most of the Americans just don't care. BTW, never took me excessive time and I've never been harassed or inconvenienced in any unusual (as opposed to usual for TSA) ways for opting out.

Also, from this article, next time TSA employee tries to feel my ass looking for a bomb, it would be interesting to think about him as an aspiring satire writer. I wonder if that would change the experience.

stretchwithme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its all been lies all along. What a shock.

Our government does so much propaganda in collusion with the media. Every time anything happens, we are treated to news stories about how security is being beefed up. The reality is that there reality isn't much they can do except show more security on TV and hope you'll conclude "ah, they are on top of things."

nowigetit 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else think "Rapiscan" is a perfect name for those machines?
siculars 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the why-anonymity-is-important department.

Truth will out.

deadfall 2 days ago 4 replies      
I started questioning all the TSA security after I recently watched a demonstration on how you could make dangerous weapons with items you can purchase after you go through security. It is quite scary. The people that want to cause harm will always find a way.

I have not been outside the US, I am curious on the security around the world. Namely, flights headed towards US airports. Do they have to go through body scanners?

rmchugh 2 days ago 1 reply      
new hero! and his book seems like it will be good: http://playbooknovel.com/
dror 2 days ago 0 replies      
In a funny way I find this reassuring.

After all the worries, posting from various places, TOR, and in the end from home, no one went after him even though he clearly ridiculed the TSA. It's kind of sad that we even have to consider that, but in these days of NSA abuses it's nice to see democracy at work.

yogo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Code red alfalfa. Ok that was a little redundant :)
Intlrnt 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wasn't a bit surprised to read any of this. Even the candor with which the author shows himself to actively and tacitly promote and sustain the unprofessional and compromising conduct in which he and his colleagues engaged.

I'm not sure if that transparency is due to his arrogance, or ignorance of how much he contributed to the problems we all deal with. No matter. Business as usual.

Ballsy? Maybe. 'Hey everybody! I'm a self-identified slacker, unqualified to be entrusted with responsibility. Here's my name. Here's my picture.'

Still, very disappointing.

dmourati 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reads as if the author considers himself in league with Edward Snowden.
How Silicon Valley CEOs conspired to drive down tech engineer wages pando.com
746 points by uptown  10 days ago   468 comments top 55
aspensmonster 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 9 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 9 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 9 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 10 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 9 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.

abalone 10 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.

cromwellian 9 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.
talmand 10 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.
smoyer 10 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 10 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.
michaelochurch 10 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.

zgm 10 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?
joyeuse6701 9 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder: could the recruiters that were fired sue based on wrongful termination?
alooPotato 10 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.

deepGem 9 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.
wyclif 10 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 9 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 9 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 10 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 9 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 10 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.
dfraser992 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
defense contractors did the same to stop engineers from bouncing around as well.
AnneTheAgile 9 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 9 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
The site seems to be down, here is google cached copyhttp://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:s-e6m0J...
kv85s 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Kids, this is why you should strive to become your own bosses and bootstrap your own businesses!
yuhong 8 days ago 0 replies      
I remember another thread suggesting that Eric Schmidt be fired for this.
nathanvanfleet 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
The war on the middle class! And they are winning.
shawn-butler 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
I thought anti poaching pacts were legal, arent they?Big tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft have them.
worldsoup 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
well, we can play that same game and form an engineers' union
lucasisola 9 days ago 0 replies      
And now they conspired to bring down the site that hosted this article...
known 7 days ago 0 replies      
Unlike Capitalism, Globalization is Zero-Sum.
brosco45 9 days ago 0 replies      
We lose.
wellboy 10 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this good, because it kept the insane rents in Silicon Valley down a bit at least?
pbreit 10 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
736 points by friggeri  10 days ago   145 comments top 42
hooande 10 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 10 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 9 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 10 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 10 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 10 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.

joelgrus 10 days ago 2 replies      
This is pretty funny, although they ruined it with their "HEY GUYS THIS WAS A JOKE" at the end.
DaniFong 10 days ago 0 replies      
Big data: 0. Smart analysis: 1. Snark: 100. :-)
smoyer 10 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/).
nilkn 10 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone curious about the author of this post... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Develin
yuvadam 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
> not all research is created equal

You mean "not all linkbait is created equal?"

S4M 10 days ago 2 replies      
Call yourself "Data Scientist" and publish graphics without units. Congrats!
jjcm 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
That was... unprofessional.
abus 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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!
raverbashing 10 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?

xtc 9 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.

elwell 10 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 9 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 10 days ago 1 reply      
Google Trends Extrapolation: The Nostradamus of our times.
protez 9 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 10 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 9 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
Not to support the princeton conclusion but to initiate your debunk by pointing at "like' trends first is silly.
nonconfermist 10 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Good fun reading that, but.. an R^2 of 0.54? Not a convincing fit.
lockone 8 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Sciencey stuff didn't work? Time to call lawyers
teaneedz 9 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't Facebook a carrier of bugs?
Ind007 9 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving all these articles, facebook has to die - this is my intuition.
xordon 9 days ago 0 replies      
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
yetanotherphd 10 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.

logicallee 9 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.

jokoon 9 days ago 0 replies      
no, I still hate facebook.
dynamic99 10 days ago 0 replies      
This is just awesome
dapvincent 10 days ago 0 replies      
"What's beef?"
charleswalter 9 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 10 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.
How in-app purchases have destroyed the game industry baekdal.com
715 points by seivan  1 day ago   472 comments top 87
chasing 1 day ago 34 replies      
I suspect many game developers find themselves in an awkward spot:

1) People seem to balk at paying >$5 for a mobile or tablet game. (With some notable exceptions.)

2) The $0.99 or $1.99 price point is not financially viable for most games.

3) People do seem willing to purchase coins or lives or more daily playtime via in-app purchases. Some spend tens or hundreds of dollars on a single game.

If you're building a game for a large company like EA, you're probably forced to take the most lucrative path. EA's not an atelier for starving artists. And if you're a small, struggling game studio, you probably can't afford to leave money on the table.

So what's the solution? If people are unwilling to pay reasonable prices up-front for games, how besides in-app purchases does a game company profit from their work?

This is an honest question, because I also generally hate how IAP is integrated into most games. I'd much rather pay up-front.

patio11 1 day ago 7 replies      
Gamers have voted with their wallets for this outcome. (Dungeon Keeper retailed for $60, not $6, at launch. I couldn't afford it so I checked back weekly, and then found the best deal of my life six months later: $9.99 with a $20 manufacturers rebate.)

Minus the rebate thing this is the traditional curve for IP price discrimination: you pay more to get faster access.

Gamers thought both $60 or waiting one day, to say nothing of 6 months, were monstrously unfair, so they pirated the games. So the industry did a rethink, and figured out a way to give them what they want. Enter Free To Play.

benched 1 day ago 2 replies      
I work at a well-known and [formerly?] successful casual game company. Recently, the company ventured into the 'freemium' with in-app purchases model. It hasn't gone so well - garnered a lot of hate, and not nearly as much money as hoped. The execs have responded by doubling down and going all in on freemium.

So now there's this uncomfortable tension in the air, where lots of employees think it's a potentially company-destroying mistake, while the execs are pushing it as the type of propaganda that you either shut up and get behind, or 'perhaps this is no longer the right company for you.' And if it fails, it'll be because those employees didn't believe in the vision, not because freemium fucking sucks and core customers hate it.

Why are they doing this? Basically because of the success of Candy Crush and Puzzles and Dragons. The execs want so badly to be them. They want that money. It's revenue envy. Never mind that the company has always been wildly successful doing its own thing, these other companies are printing money doing this other thing. We gotta get that money. We gotta do whatever they're doing over there.

I just think money inside games distorts the game and is distasteful, like money in politics, or money in your esophagus.

Silhouette 1 day ago 4 replies      
Sadly, the gaming public has brought this fate upon itself, because so many people don't respect game developers and routinely pirate the results of their hard work.

I remember having this discussion on forums like Slashdot a few years ago. I argued that although pirating games was easy in the Internet age, if people kept doing it then the only surviving game developers would be those who adapted to models that prevented it. The usual response was mumbled with the eloquence of a five year old, and said something about copyright infringement not being the same as theft and whatever the developers did someone would just crack it so why should anyone pay for games?

Fast forward a few years, and almost all the AAA games are heavily linked with some on-line element and the most successful games tend to be either multiplayer subscription models or rely heavily on in-app purchases and DLC. If you actually wanted to make a good standalone, single-player, one-time-purchase game today, I wonder how hard it would be to make real money on it. It seems like the only winning options along that path are to make a relatively low-budget game like a puzzler and sell it for an order of magnitude less so it's attractive to a long tail of customers and/or to be hit-it-out-of-the-park successful. Of course, for every Minecraft or Angry Birds there are probably thousands more titles that never quite made it.

I have some hope that crowd-funding models will help to end this kind of stand-off, because they tap into a genuine desire many gamers have for good and original titles to play but they also bridge that reality gap and illustrate in concrete terms why money is needed to make them. I've seen several very promising games get funded far beyond their original goals on Kickstarter, including RPG, RTS and even space combat titles. Whether any of them will actually be able to pull off what they promised with slimmed down teams remains to be seen, as I don't think any of the really big ones have actually launched yet, but this is a field where I'm optimistic about an alternative model to the old copyright vs. piracy conflict.

ig1 1 day ago 1 reply      
When thinking about gaming business models it's important to think about the context in the history of gaming.

Since in the 1980s in addition to retail and digital sales the business models we've seen have included:

  * Pay-to-play arcade games  * Premium hint lines  * Add-on content sales  * In-game sponsorship (Zool, sports games)  * Shareware  * Advertorial games (McDonalds Land)  * Subscription fees  * Peripheral sales  * Real money betting  * UGC Rev shares  * Membership clubs  * Game rental  * In game ads  * IAP   * Virtual items
IAP is likely here to stay, but just like the many many business models that have existed before, it'll likely become one of many in use.

KVFinn 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find that even in games which are generous and you could play them just fine without paying, if I can buy consumables that effect the game it severely reduces the enjoyment. Ben Kuchera said it like this:


>Im finding it increasingly difficult to enjoy free-to-play games, even those that are designed well.

>Hitting a difficulty spike can make you unsure of whether the game has simply gotten more difficult and you must try harder to succeed, or if this is where youre supposed to be putting coins into the slot in order to move forward. Its hard to focus on the story of the puppet show when youre straining to see the strings, and thats how many of us feel when we play these titles.

>Playing free-to-play games is often a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Until it does, it's hard to relax. I don't want to have to figure out where the stress of the purchasing decision will be, and having to be faced with that stress on an ongoing basis is a major turn off.

Thank god for PC gaming. So far it has remained immune from so much of this.

The top 2 selling games on Steam for the last 2 months, even over the Steam Sale, are Rust and DayZ, which couldn't be farther from this model.

The closest you get are F2P games like LoL which are not nearly as bad as this, and Dota 2 a competitor doesn't let you purchase a single thing that has an effect on gameplay.

networked 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of an insider's-view feature written by Tim Rogers back in 2011 titled Who killed videogames? (a ghost story) [1]. Some find his writing style objectionable but it's worth a read even if you do. Page 4 of the article in particular, which somewhat confusing leads you to "chapter three: engagement wheels and compulsion traps", can serve as a pretty good introduction to F2P mechanics and their dark patterns.

The following quote more or less summarizes the piece:

>[...] The players will come for the cute characters, and stay for the cruel mathematics.

There is also an accompanying review of The Sims Social [2].

[1] http://insertcredit.com/2011/09/22/who-killed-videogames-a-g...

[2] http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=1076.

waterlesscloud 1 day ago 7 replies      
When I read a user review stating a game has In App Purchases, I don't buy it. Period. No matter how good it looks otherwise.

I'm probably just old, I guess.

micah63 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
The only way to break the in-app purchase model is to have try before you buy. I'm not going to pay full price to try a game before knowing if it's good or not. So yes, I'm potentially ignoring lots of great games that charge full price up front, but how do I know if they are good or not? I don't understand why Apple hasn't pushed for this from day 1. If I got to play even two levels of Super Mario 3, I would buy the game in a heartbeat.

Also, we rented the full game for a weekend from Blockbuster before buying.

bane 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm really into emulation and retrogaming. One thing that concerns me is how these works of art will become unplayable and "die" once their life expectancy is over. The body of work of video games is pretty large now, but I'm worried the body of games we can continue to enjoy 20-30-40-50 years from now will grow at a very slow rate from now on out. This is very different from the movie industry, where films from 60-70 years ago are still very enjoyable.
programminggeek 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is sort of like when MMORPG's were all the rage and they said that they were destroying traditional RPG's, but fast forward a decade or so and guess what, we still have great traditional RPG's. We have great MMORPG's. There's a lot of enjoyable gaming to be had.

So there's in app purchase, okay. That's another way some games are going, but it's not the only way and it probably won't be. You can't make a AAA title like Halo or Call of Duty as a F2P with IAP. that's not going to happen anytime soon. However, some devs might try and nickel and dime players more because they can, but maybe just maybe this means that game developers will have a more sustainable business and won't be going bankrupt every few years as many seem to.

zmmmmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think Apple has a big part of the blame to take. Somehow - I don't know how - they engineered a situation where the original apps were priced dirt cheap for the iPhone. 99c was the initial expectation, and companies were so keen to get in on the early app store action that they didn't care. Starting from there the industry has struggled to ever raise prices for apps to a reasonable level. No matter how much content there is in a game, no matter what the quality, the perception in the consumer mind is that a good app costs $1 - $2 and an exceptional app might charge $5, but nobody ever in their right mind would pay $20 for an app. We're now at the point where mobile games contain graphics at the same level of consoles from a year or two ago, and yet prices aren't moving. Entire office suites that might have been $50 - $100 struggle to fetch $10. It's not sustainable, has never been sustainable. The only question is how we're going to get out of the mess, and it looks like we're having to go through an IAP hell before consumers will start to be prepared to pay a premimium price to get an IAP-free experience.
wsc981 1 day ago 2 replies      
Jonathan Blow -creator of Braid and working on The Witness- also has a very nice critique on the problems with games that are designed around micro-payments. The whole talk is interesting, but he starts discussing the issues around the 20 minute mark:


jlongster 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are a few dynamics going on. In one sense, in-app "gem" systems have enabled companies to create highly social online games without a per-month fee. I've been playing Clash of Clans and it's really fun. Everything is run on their servers and you attack other people's villages. This sort of game would normally require something like $5/month.

But with the in-app gems, I can play at a slower pace for free. If I wanted to play faster, I could spend $5 on gems and do pretty good for about a month. So in some ways it's a pay-per-usage system.

The problem is that it can be easily abused and the dungeon game he describes sounds much more socially engineered. The handicap applied in the dungeon game sounds a lot worse than it is in Clash of Clans.

This could also all be a result of the downfall of LAN-centered games. Clash of Clans could have taken the decentralized host-your-own-server route and it would still be just as good, if not more interesting. That actually would be ideal setup because I do find myself wishing I could just play the game underneath the gem-fishing strategy.

I think Minecraft should remind us that it's the host-your-own-server strategy is a really good one, and I hope that doesn't die. It probably doesn't make as much money, so we need to figure out a way to balance the economic force which will eventually extinguish it.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      
It would be an interesting experiment to offer a version of Dungeon Keeper (the focus of this article) in the App store for $39.95 and without the IAP accelerators. Then compare sales with that one and the cheap one. Clearly EA just works out their life time value per customer either way.

I did hear a game developer mention that IAP is really a form of copy protection, in the sense that if you made a copy of a game that can only effectively be played by buying additional tokens, then it is more difficult to pirate.

I agree with the author that it has made for a very different sort of industry. But given the income these companies are making I don't think the industry is being "destroyed" any more than the extortionate seat prices the NFL charges to see a game in person are "destroying" football.

dsirijus 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The inception of in-app purchases on mobile games is not to be blamed on game developers - it's the markets. Specifically, AppStore discovery and refund policies.

There you were circa 2009, a mobile game player, presented with games you need to pay for, upfront, with no demo or trial, needing a credit card. You don't like what you bought? That's a shame.

On the other hand, there was Free category, install it, play it, see few ads, or options for in-app purchases, and for the the most part, it matched the quality of premium up-front-charged games. But even if it didn't, who cares. It's free.

My point here is that in-apps were reasonable evolution of money-hungry marketplaces, not developers. Developers just sort of got shoved on that path.

Your point of argument might be - "Well, aren't developers money-hungry too?" Let me explain to you why game developers are paid way below the average compared to their IT fellows in spite of doing arguably much more complex work (you say web site - i say 3d world, you say RoR backend - i say real-time MMO-powering beast, you say web design - i say asset-friggin'-pipeline) and why game market is so cutthroat...

It's because we love what we do and will take shit in order to do it. We're very oppinionated about it, and for the most of us, it's not a job - it's life, a quest, a mission.

And even if this doesn't resonate with you, how about - there's nothing wrong with in-apps? Go to any international/interstate retailer. Check the shelving, check the products, the design, the smell. The sheer amount of science to get you to purchase that particular box of razor blades, removing any rationality you might have for your purchase, is towering over anything you might encounter in mobile game in-apps infrastructure.

kmfrk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ive been really disappointed with Apples laissez-faire approach to policing this trend in their App Store, especially since their philosophy is founded on making big, sweeping decisions in favour of their users.

Honestly, I don't know why they haven't, because this is one of the biggest dark user patterns that exist outside of outright illegalities.

We - and I - are used to giving companies like Facebook and LinkedIn shit for similar things, so why are Apple tacitly supporting this abomination. They don't even make that much from games anyway.

What would the coverage be like, if the FCC fined either of those two $35.5M, as they recently did Apple[1][2]?

If we believe that the App Store is a Big Deal, we should care that this is the new normal in handheld videogames.

[1]: http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/01/apple-...

[2]: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/technology/government-and-...

kawsper 1 day ago 1 reply      
I also saw the Dungeon Keeper on the iOS App Store, and my first thought was: "DKs gameplay would be fantastic for mobile!".

Then I saw their IAP strategy and dropped the game.

I would happily have payed $19.99 (the price of XCOM for iOS) for a decent DK on my iPhone.

On the other hand I see myself paying for cosmetic items in DotA 2. They don't change gameplay, but my characters look cool. It sounds stupid, and it probably is, but Valve have really designed it well.

DominikR 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are still plenty of games that don't use in app purchase at all or at least in a conservative way (like expansion packs) on consoles and PC, so I wouldn't draw such conclusions.

I think the reason for this push of freemium games (in particular mobile games) is that people (who aren't usually gamers) tend to play them for very short periods as a way of passing the time. (while waiting, or while they are sitting on the toilet)

And since most game companies were unable to sell full priced games to this demographic they adopted this business model to make money.

Would you pay $30 for a game on a mobile phone with all its limitations? (touchscreen controls, small screen, crappy audio, battery drain)

If I'm paying that kind of money (or more) for a game I expect at least solid 15 hours of immersive gameplay. (which is impossible for me on a phone - I have my consoles&PC for that)

mattmaroon 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a silly argument.

1. Game developers aren't shooting themselves in the foot. They're catering to customers. IAP works because customers want to get a game for free, and the people who really love a game are willing to spend thousands (sometimes even tens or hundreds thereof) on it.

2. The old-school game model was struggling anyway. Console game sales haven't been doing well for a long time.

3. You can't rent an app, and you mostly don't play it on someone else's device. Both of these were ways of testing out a new franchise on consoles that no longer exist. It makes sense that something filled the void.

4. The platforms now (mobile devices) have a vested interest in you playing as many games as possible, moreso than you paying for them. Apple/Samsung etc. make their money by your buying a new $650+ phone every two years, and if you get a bunch of apps you love on one, you're more likely to get another from the same OEM later. Why try to sell you a few $10 games off of which they make $3 (minus carrier fees) when they can give you a ton of free games and hope you love a few enough of them to plunk down another $650 a year from now? Until content is no longer gated by app stores that have incentives very different from those of game devs, this business model is a natural fit.

Don't get me wrong, I don't love it either, and I make the damn things for a living. I don't think all IAP-monetized games suck. But I do think that plenty of them do, and the misaligned incentives make it hard to make a game that is both profitable and genuinely fun that way.

I just don't think the fault lies with game developers.

jerf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another interesting video review of the another incarnation of this problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_AgjWkNGew Angry Joe on the iOS app Star Trek: Trexels.

It does not amaze me that this level of depravity was tried; I always considered it a forgone conclusion that the companies would do anything that worked. It does sort of amaze me that this is working. Though I suspect rather than being the long-term future of gaming that this is the equivalent of slash&burn development. Yes, there's a huge bunch of people right now who haven't quite cottened to how nasty this can be, but they're learning fast, and while another one is born every minute, it's never quite the same as the first time the new scam goes raging through an unprepared population.

bpm140 21 hours ago 2 replies      
My hunch is the "freemium is bad" argument is primarily an oversimplification of the underlying concern -- the erosion of trust and how that manifests during gameplay.

When I play a traditional "pay" game, I trust that the developer want me to finish the entire game. After all, the team slaved away creating all that content and the player should damn well appreciate their effort.

As a result, when I get stuck at some point in a game (Dead Space 2 being a recent example), I trust that there's a way forward and with a little more effort or practice, or perhaps if I retrace my steps, I'll become unstuck and move along the path toward completion.

Because the developer and I are working with a common goal in mind -- get Eric to the end of the game -- I am confident that at any point in the game I will be capable of completing the challenges set forth (no matter how stingy the Dead Space guys are with ammo).

With freemium games, that trust is obliterated. When I can't progress, I am forced to ask a fun-sucking question -- is the developer trying to extort money from me in order to continue? Am I unable to continue because I just haven't mastered some in-game skill or is this simply the point at which I'm supposed to hand over my tithe?

Candy Crush is an obvious (if extreme) example. When you can't complete a level after the 20th try, the player begins to feel that the developer is expressly barring their passage. And at that point, the game ceases to be fun, at least for the generations of gamers who saved the princess.

Then again, my kids (eight and six) just assume that buying gems is how one progresses in a game. It's not unlike when I was eight and pumping quarters into Gauntlet in order to reach the next level -- Blue Warrior's health dropped whether or not you were taking damage.

Everything old is new again.

nnx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
(originally posted in the similar post "Optimizing Your Industry to the Point of Suicide", I thought _this_ post title had been edited [same subject, same domain] - apologies if that's against HN etiquette)

As much as I also dislike how some IAP game developers base all their gameplay mechanisms purely on maximizing the user likeliness to keep spending without even noticing, I recognize that they get the very basics of video game design very right.

Because they have to.

The goal for any game developer who treats its creation not only as an artistic piece but also has a product, is to design software that offers a positive feedback loop to the user in order to keep her engaged.

Consider how Nintendo, for instance, considers the Mario platformer franchise as an instrument (see Ask Iwata interviews). During development, designers are focused on getting the timing (rhythm) right between challenge (say ennemies or holes) and corresponding rewards (powerups or secret exits). This ultimately plays/tricks how our brains are wired (effort needs reward) in order to engage users and ultimately enjoy the game... and pay again (and again) for the sequels/updates when they need their fix.

Imho IAP is an interesting return to the origins of video gaming (and coin-based arcades) and refocuses the industry on getting the core ingredient right, the feedback loop, rather than betting it all on graphics, story, feature-creep... and marketing.

Marketing is disproportionally important when you need to convince your game is worth paying upfront, even in a seemingly minimal amount, as mobile gaming is a very "dispensable" expense in the general public.

There is no ROI in marketing an IAP game that does not engage enough of its users (enough).On the other hand, marketing heavily an upfront-cost game can draw sales, sometimes thanks to the franchise name as well, despite providing no to little entertainent to most of its users as the feedback loop is just not good enough to engage them.

For good or bad, I think IAP is accelerating adoption of data-driven practices for video game design. As an engineer/scientist, this is very interesting.

Last but not least, IAP probably helps expand the (mobile) gaming audience to people who would have otherwise either not played game(s) at all or would have downloaded illegally.

In the long term, I believe this can only be good for the industry. The bad apples of IAP will be regulated by better consumer protections for the worst "abuses" and more naturally over time by the users themselves as they get more familiar with the model and more "meaningful" IAP titles become available.

jiggy2011 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read a lot of complaints like this "OMG , all games are becoming F2P IAP" but I don't really see it outside of a niche of mobile games which seem to be modern day one armed bandit machine.

If you at the current crop of Steam games or console games there are a ton of popular games that have no IAP or IAP which are for only for cosmetic items or expanding game content.

danielweber 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm an old fogey but those 1990's graphics look awesome to me.
cdmoyer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Calling these games "the game industry" does a disservice to all the other games that aren't like this.
mcphage 1 day ago 2 replies      
Dungeon Keeper costs $6 because it's 15 years old... When it was new it cost $50.
kartikkumar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't really understand in-app game purchases, but that's maybe because I've never made any. I don't know anybody that has either, so I'm a bit baffled that it's disrupting the industry this much. Might be cultural difference too, being in Europe.

I also don't understand the sense of in-app purchases in some games. For instance, in Candy Crush I believe you can make in-app purchases to skip ahead, not have to play quests to clear levels etc. Reason I don't get it is because the whole point of playing the game is surely to play the levels and not skip them!

It leads me to believe that the only reason in-app purchases happen is because they pray on the weak: people who genuinely get addicted. I may be wrong about it since I don't have data to back up my claims, but I'm assuming that instead of a lot of people making up the industry, that the whole concept is powered by a few people making massive payments in the form of tonnes of purchases; people who I can only imagine get addicted in the sense that anyone can get addicted to drinking, smoking, gambling etc.

Perhaps someone can shed light on the nature of the in-app payment industry for gaming and perhaps explain to me what I'm missing.

Disclaimer: I'm not a big gamer, so that might explain all of the above.

PS: I find it somewhat amusing that the author's blog site offers a premium content purchase link: in-blog purchase?

ww520 1 day ago 2 replies      
The author made a disingenuous comparison. Dungeon Keeper didn't cost $5 when it was released many years ago. It costed $39.95. And there was not trial play ahead of time. Is he willing to pay for $49.95 (adjusted for inflation) for the iPad version before even playing it?

The in-app purchase got to this way because of gamer purchase behaviors. If the majority of the gamers are willing to pay upfront, you won't see in-app purchase. This is just like most people (at least in US) unwilling to pay the full price to buy the phone upfront but rather to pay for it with smaller monthly charges via the long term contract.

Gamers change their purchase behaviors and in-app purchases will go away.

6cxs2hd6 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the second video (warning for language):


1. Few things in life are more enjoyable than an angry British guy having a good rant.

2. Coincidentally I just yesterday (re)read the part of Hackers talking about the founding of EA. Times have changed.

ronaldx 1 day ago 3 replies      
I mostly agree with the premise here, but I want to play devil's advocate:

* The game isn't actually reviewed. Maybe you can play the game perfectly well without paying for gems. Maybe the game is actually more interesting to play for the fact that you have to manage your resources according to the time cost/gem count. Maybe there's a genuine reason why thousands of people have given five stars.

* There's no reason to believe that we are supposed to pay for the 70 bundle. Maybe the 70 bundle is just for the IAP 'whales' who are paying for everyone else to play. When I go to a coffee shop, I don't have to buy a triple-cream, triple-chocolate mocha latte for 8, but I also don't need to get annoyed that this is on the menu.

habosa 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do think IAP has made games less fun, but as a non-game app developer I think IAP is amazing.

The old model (for devs who don't like ads) normally went like this:

* Free Version: Limited Feature Set

* Paid Version: $0.99 or $1.99, full features

There were a lot of problems with this model, such as:

1) People didn't know the paid version exist, leave bad ratings on the free version for lack of features.

2) It was hard to gain traction since your downloads were split over multiple apps, meaning each would rank lower individually.

3) When people made the free-to-paid conversion, you had to worry about data migration including all preferences, etc.

4) Some apps just don't have a meaningful feature set for a free version.

5) Maintaining separate code.

IAP fixes this and allows be to be a more "lean" operation. Now I publish a free app with a minimum viable feature set. I watch what features people ask for in reviews, and if one seems like a non-bug feature that people really want I'll introduce it as a $0.99 IAP. In the meantime, my free app can keep gaining users which means putting the opportunity to buy my product in front of more people and not splitting my popularity across two app store listings. I also make sure to add features for free to keep moving up the charts and make most users happy. Also, people are much more likely to want to pay for a feature after they've used the rest of the app than pay up front.

bsamuels 1 day ago 0 replies      
There needs to be a distinction drawn between mobile games and console/pc. These are two completely separate industries that are only married by name. They have different target audiences, mechanics, and business models. Mobile games are played to piss some time away, and are almost never played for hours like console/pc games are. One of the big reasons the Ouya failed was because its creators didn't realize that the console and mobile markets were separated so much - they don't compete with each other on any level.

This is why I think it's silly to compare older games to mobile games. With the mobile market, you can do all sorts of disgusting slimy things and the consumer won't give a damn because they spend at max - 20 minutes on your game at a time. As long as people view mobile games as a way to blow some time rather than an interactive experience, I doubt nearly enough people will become involved with them enough to even care about in-app purchases.

kzrdude 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The consumer would only invest $40 in a game purchase if it represented durable value, but that is incompatible with the platform which is itself a consumable product -- get a new phone every two years!
scotty79 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Freemium is not a bad thing. Dungeon Keeper for iPad is just a bad game. But why it sholdn't be? Who remebers the disaster Master of Orion 3 was? It wasn't freemium. It supposed to be good because it was master of orion, but it wasn't.

There are a lot of horrible games that are basically pay to play at any fun pace. They have one of two or three very stupid mechanics that proved to be most efficient extortion schemes dressed in some graphics and story.

Good thing is you can just install them, play ten minutes, recognize what kind of beast you are dealing with, uninstall and forget.

Bad thing is, thers no one place where you can go to check if the game is pay or wait scheme. Gamers basically get nohelp from noone when they try to decide what to play next.

Good freemium is when you pay for game to be easier. Pay or wait is insane but pay or play some more on the current level before advancing is reasonable enough if it's balanced so that you can advance faster if you are more skilled.

golergka 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sadly, I didn't have time to play the iOS Dungeon Keeper myself, so I started to watch the video review in the article and in one minute, the reviewer showed that he doesn't know anything not only about free2play, but about modern games in general.

DK is clearly a Clash of Clans clone. Apart from being a clone, this means that it's supposed to be primarily multiplayer. Persistent-state, massive multiplayer. And a day of real time in this games IS NOT a lot of time. Similarly to Eve Online (which I draw as an example as the "nerdiest" game to have this kind of mechanics), this kind of games have a LOT of stuff that take hours, days and sometime even months of real time to unlock or produce. This mechanics first started as a variation from traditional PBEM on BBSes; their primary purpose was not to draw money from players, but so that regular playing would yearn a greater, or at least similar reward, to hours of grinding, that only a tiny fraction of players can afford.

_pmf_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Crappy mobile games are not "the game industry"; it's a perverted travesty, just like the rest of the disgusting app culture.
c0ur7n3y 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In the last 18 months I've entirely stopped buying mobile games because of this trend. I know that any game I buy is probably going to become less fun if I'm not willing to buy virtual cranberries.

This is not sustainable as an industry practice. People will eventually get wise.

lazyjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't pay so much attention to app store reviews. There are plenty of agencies out there offering fake reviews for pretty much anything.

I don't see how bad games full of microtransactions and fake reviews would be able to destroy the industry. They will not prevent the next Minecraft.

unclebucknasty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obviously, this is a byproduct of our "everything should be free" online culture.

What's really funny is that the author's blog itself follows the same freemium model as the games he's decrying. Free to read, but $9/month to subscribe per the end of the article:

"Baekdal PLUS: Premium content that helps you make the right decisions, take the right actions, and focus on what really matters."

How is it possible that he's overlooking this irony?

It's the culture.

feelstupid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the comparison of prices be for the original cost of the game, rather than how much it costs nowadays? Surely in 14 years time the iPad version would be indeed be cheaper if still existent?
etler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I want to know how much overlap there is between mobile gaming consumers and console/pc gaming consumers. Has mobile gaming stolen away any of the spending of the console/pc gaming demographic? Or has it instead created an entirely new market that doesn't do console/pc gaming at all?

I can only go by personal experience as I cannot find any consumer surveys, but I've spent about a grand total of 5 dollars on mobile games, all for expanded content, not consumables, but I've spent hundreds on my 3DS alone. I strongly suspect the audiences for in game purchases and the audience for deeper games hardly overlap at all.

Are kids just not going to know that real gaming exists? I'm simply not convinced that the existence of mobile non-games means that the discoverability of real games is hampered. Console gaming isn't exactly a niche market that few people know exists and never end up experiencing.

subb 12 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, this model is closer to gambling than gaming. In fact, some gamedev studio actually build some slot machine games, where you put in real money through in app purchase and you get game money in return. It's disturbingly successful.
vacri 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's quite funny how the author calls the game industry destroyed by in-app-purchases, when most of the games industry isn't mobile gaming and doesn't have that. PC or console, there isn't a lot of IAP (no real mechanism for it). The irony is that people who identify themselves as gamers generally see the mobile gaming space as a cesspool of discardable lightweight games.
th0br0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't the reason actually that people have been "trained" to favour the quick hit instead of actually savouring experiences?If that is a given, then the game industry is just trying to sate this new/modern taste of esp. the younger generation. The "guilty" here isn't really the game industry then. Who is? No idea... and most assuredly not one single industry or person.
rcthompson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll point to Blizzard's Hearthstone (still in open beta) as a counterexample. It's a collectible card game, and it's perfectly fun to play from day one with little more than the starter cards. You can earn more cards slowly by playing a lot, or you can just buy them. But while buying better cards can make you more competitive, it doesn't necessarily make the game more fun, since in any case it generally matches you up against an equally-matched opponent.
sunir 1 day ago 1 reply      
I remember arcade games that were designed to eat quarters. They did very well. People loved them.

Seems that people love these games. I don't know why either but I still burn through quarters playing Area 51 whenever I find it.

Go figure.

vinceguidry 1 day ago 0 replies      
The gaming market has ALWAYS been choked with shit. I don't understand how people can forget Sturgeon's Law so quickly and proclaim the death of the gaming industry. If anything, there are more great games now than there ever have been, if only because the barrier to entry is low.

You know all those old games that are so great that you wish they'd make now? They're still there! You can still play them! Go grab Dungeon Keeper and relive those days. So many amazing games to play, so many new technologies to make new ones with. Quit complaining and be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

pms 1 day ago 0 replies      
Simply brilliant video.

I think that people who pay for these guys are miserable. It's up to them to choose what's "fun" for them. If playing this kind of game is "fun" for them, then it's fine for me. I'll play a different game. As long as there will be people like me, there will be indie games and a lot of fun for us.

paxunix 1 day ago 0 replies      
A reddit user has started a tumblr to catalog ad-less, up-front-purchase, single in-app-purchase Android games:


tlear 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The only games that are worth playing is stuff released years ago. i have never payed a single $ to play these app store scams and never will. I however dumped close to $200 on a KS game I wanted made.. scum is scum and I will never assoicitate with them(shared office in with one of these before.. felt dirty at the end of the day)
gmu3 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to defend in-app purchases, but this isn't the first time the game industry has tried to nickel and dime you. How is it that different from the 90s when the game industry put out incredibly difficult games and charged players tokens every couple minutes to keep playing? I know I've personally spent a hell of a lot more money in the arcade than on in-app purchases. This isn't a mobile example, but I think Riot (maker of League of Legends) is a company that really gets it right with in-app purchases in a tasteful way.
dschiptsov 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't remember exact term for the idea that too efficient virus (a parasite) eventually eliminates the whole population of potential hosts and therefore destroys itself.

Too many cheaters destroys a market. Too many thiefs destroys a country.

cpks 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Virtually all games I've bought recently have had this inane obnoxiousness. One of my favorite games was 'Choice of Romance: Affairs of the Court.'

You play it. You want to go on to level 2? Pay. Level 3? Pay. Not have to wait 20 minutes to start a new game? Pay. No ads? Pay. Start from level 2 or 3 with accomplishments you achieved? Well, it claimed to be free, but restore-from-save doesn't work, so you pay. Play it on your iPhone, Kindle, Android, and Chrome? Pay four times.

It was a great game, and I would have gladly bought the rest of the games, but it's both not fun to know I can either waste hours or get blackmailed into paying, and terrifying to see where they'll try to skin me next time...

I moved on, but I haven't found any really good games that don't do this.

kilon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well I can only speak about myself and say that I have spent at least twice as much for in game purchases than I have for buying games. In my case the culprit is Heroes of Newerth , a game I am completely addicted to. Its a MOBA game , also known as DOTA clone. And I did try Dota 2 and LoL and non made me switch. I am waiting for Heroes of the Storm. In the case of Heroes of Newerth all you can buy is Alternative Avatars of your Heroes , or reset your stats, or some other accessories. None of the things you buy actually affects the gaming experience. The game is 100% free and if you dont want to spend a euro on it so be it it will be as playable to you as it is for the guy that spends thousands of euros. I really like this and this is why I decided to spent my money. They dont force me to spend , I spend because I want to support them and keep this game improving. I see DOTA 2 also follows a similar path.
Ethan_Mick 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a mobile developer venturing into building my own games, I disagree and agree.

First off, I hate, hate, the practice of slowing down the game or crippling it, and then allowing the user to use an IAP to get the game back to a normal pace.

I vow never to do that.

However, a some users (and anecdotally, quite a few of my friends) won't download my app if it costs $1. The barrier to entry is too high, and they don't know if they are going to get a good experience. They can't pick up my app and hold it, feel it, rub their hands over it's quality. They have 5 screenshots (and any reviews online) to go by. Okay, so I'll make it free to lower that barrier.

But now how do I make money? I think the best thing to do is to simply have users pay for content that they have already proved they love. Let them play through 50 levels, or the first "area" of the game. Let them buy more levels or unlock more content. This way they can play the game and decide if they like it, and if so, buy more.

I think the two rules of thumb about this sort of IAP is:1: Don't be a asshole. Give the user a lot of completely unaltered content up front, and really let them dive into the game. Ensure they know that buying the rest of the game later will cost some money, but don't take away features because they haven't bought the game yet. Let them fall in love with it.2: Price it fairly. Let users buy "All Levels Forever" for $5, or each level pack for $2. Allow them to unlock all the content at once. If they bought 2 levels packs, and want to buy all the rest later, give them a discount.

Make a game you'd want to play.

socrates1998 1 day ago 4 replies      
Here is the main problem. I don't know if I will like a game when I buy it.

I would gladly spend $5.00 on a mobile game if I really like it.

But, too many times I have spent money on a game and then not really liked it.

The reason in-app or in-game purchases work is because you don't mind spending money on something you really like.

If Apple or Google Play allowed for a testing period of a few hours, then this might solve the problem.

If I have a money back time limit of say 2 hours, then I can get my money back anytime before I spend a total of 2 hours playing the game.

This would allow me to only spend money on games I really like without the fear of spending money on games I don't like.

weixiyen 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Games are making more money than ever, destroyed is not the right word. There will always be a demand for games, and if users do get sick of IAPs then the strategy from every game company will change.
navs 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll admit, sometimes I don't want to spend more than $10 on a game especially without knowing what it's like. But that's why there's in-app purchases or rather, a single purchase. Like the golden era of PC games where you got a free demo with your PC Magazine. Play it, love it, wait a few months, buy it.
chaostheory 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't like IAPs but this blog post's argument misses a really big key point. To do a fair comparison between a real game such as Dungeon Keeper and its IAP version, you can't quote the GOG price for the real game. That's the price that arrived years after the game was fresh with healthy sales and years after the game already recouped all of its costs.

The price they should have quoted for the original Dungeon Keeper game is $49.99.

denrober 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anybody notice the bottom of the article:

Subscribe for $9/monthBaekdal PLUS: Premium content that helps you make the right decisions, take the right actions, and focus on what really matters.


protomyth 1 day ago 0 replies      
The world's sure changes since I was shoving quarters into a coin-op.

On the technical side, wasn't there something in giving a game away and in-app charging that made it harder to pirate on iOS / Mac App Store?

Dartanion7 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recently wrote a book about Freemium, in part, because I think it is vilified unfairly within the context of gaming.

Before moving to gaming, I worked at Skype. No one ever accused Skype of exploiting people, or of facilitating addiction, or of polluting the purity of telephony. Skype made money by, essentially, up-selling people to paid phone calls. Those phone calls might have been to people's sick parents in foreign countries, or their kids. Imagine that! By charging for phone calls, Skype might have been prevented someone from speaking to their sick mother!

Freemium is a business model; it's not a moral framework or an ethos. Some people make terrible games with the freemium model; they likely would have made terrible games had they gone with an upfront payment model. The difference between the terrible freemium game and the terrible paid game is that people got to choose whether or not they contributed money to the terrible freemium version after playing it. They got more information before making a purchase, kind of like a test drive. Isn't that a good thing -- more information?

WWKong 1 day ago 1 reply      
You want everything included for $5.99. Studios want more lifetime value out of the customers. Consumers want to sample the game for free and incrementally pay if they are hooked on. Studios have come up with a model that makes them a lot of money and keeps consumed happy. This is evident by the fact that studios have moved to this model. In a nutshell the market has decided the best model.
ii 1 day ago 0 replies      
There still is a sane solution: make a game free with a small number of free levels and sell unlimited levels for a fee as a one-time in-app purchase.
erikb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, I am also very disappointed by nearly every mobile game I have ever seen, but on the computer and PS3/4 I still see good things done right. So don't really see the point here. The platform is obviously for little children with too much pocket money and people make lots of money serving them such kind of games. Looks to me like nearly everybody could be happy.
kubiiii 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is incredible is that they don't even throw in the fully unlocked game to a user who would pay 70 which is > the price of a next gen AAA game.
merloen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I must have missed part I and II, namely "The game industry has been destroyed", and "It was in-app purchases that destroyed the game industry." Any links to those?
cityzen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it ironic that this blog post is filled with ads from top to bottom. Talk about destroying industries.
niklasber 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't people see that this is just a rant? The post is nothing but someone letting off some steam.
Mithaldu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Posted on HN a long while ago, here's an article that describes in-depth just how some F2P games manipulate the consumer to spend the maximum amount of money they can:


nbuggia 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the problem isn't the AppStore itself. It is so difficult to find good content, and the 'Top 10 Lists' are the primary place people go to find games. This has led to rampant spamming and other dirty tactics to get on these lists, and now there is no market for higher quality content.

I think another problem is scarcity - there isn't any anymore, making it hard for me as a customer to focus on a few higher quality products. Now there are just too many apps.

throwwit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised it hasn't been nicknamed something like the 'entertainment singularity'. It's like a philosophy of maximum productivity has encroached entertainment and now you're either working or paying. Not playing.
lumpysnake 1 day ago 0 replies      
In-app purchases are not the problem, people paying for them are.
venomsnake 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is hex editing your savegame files to get more coins, stars etc then piracy? After all I am licensed to use software and the savegame is my creation and its IP belongs to me.
NigelTufnel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think that "destroyed" is not the right word.

Yes, free to play games with in app purchases dominate the mobile market. For now. The mobile gaming is just 6 years old. We're in the 'Space Invaders' era. The quality of the top-grossing games is, how I shall put it, not great.

I think eventually the quality will grow to a level where paying up front for a mobile game will not be the stupidest thing on the face of the Earth.

scotty79 1 day ago 0 replies      
This can be fixed with better content discovery tools. There's currently no decent way to discover, if a game will be any fun for me.
jon_black 1 day ago 0 replies      
> So what's the solution? If people are unwilling to pay> reasonable prices up-front for games, how besides in-app> purchases does a game company profit from their work?

If morality is valued higher than profitability, game studios wouldn't enter into the market. That's the choice they have.

axx 1 day ago 0 replies      
* the mobile games industry.
leandot 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems many think the same way - check out this Reddit thread:


vectorjohn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This just in: The game industry is destroyed.
joesmo 1 day ago 2 replies      
The strategy of releasing part of a game for free and charging for the full product is tried and true. This frees the game from in app purchases and allows the developer to make money. Sounds like a good, workable solution to me.
jamdavswim 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not just games using these strategies now, it's everything..
lokidoki 1 day ago 1 reply      
pfft. IAP? Dude's talkin about the 90's like it was the genesis of gaming. Arcade games did IAP back when we were feeding those big machines quarters in the 80's. "Oops. You got this far and died. Want to continue? That'll be one more quarter please. 20.. 19.. 18.." The gaming world didn't end.
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that having to purchase item is a huge problem because without it you are at some disadvantage even when you enjoy the game. It completely turns me off from even trying out the game if I find out it has in game items.

On a side note that Dungeons Keeper game is simply, mind blowingly ahead of it's time. It looks insanely fun. Thought it was just another RTS but wow, you can play as any of the minions in FPS mode. It was on DOS too. Why can't games be like this more? Focus on fun instead of graphics and wallet grabbing?

LeicaLatte 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Destroyed? Sounds whiny and old.


elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
ruined quizup
What Hard Drive Should I Buy? backblaze.com
666 points by nuriaion  12 days ago   266 comments top 46
brokentone 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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.

acd 12 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...

csense 12 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.

Fomite 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad you still don't have linux client. Do you think supporting linux users anytime soon?
ck2 12 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.

kylec 12 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 12 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"?
rythie 12 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Backblaze would provide some sort of Amazon S3 competitor, Amazon always seems very overpriced.
protomyth 12 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.

DanBC 12 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?
polskibus 12 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 11 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 1 reply      
How does that compare to SSD failure rates? Are they much better?
edward 12 days ago 0 replies      
aroch 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 0 replies      
Two things I never like to see together on a hard drive: "Seagate" and "Made in China"
bovermyer 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 0 replies      
Dang! I just bought WD Green 2TB WD20EZRX drives (x4) for my NAS.
benrapscallion 12 days ago 0 replies      
Along these lines, I have done a monetary analysis; http://perenniallycurious.com/centspergb.html
izzydata 12 days ago 1 reply      
Should the larger capacity seagate drives have a higher failure rate than small ones? That chart seems counter intuitive.
wnevets 12 days ago 3 replies      
the WD reds only have 3 stars on newegg.com, interesting.
halayli 12 days ago 0 replies      
Lesson from this: buy yourself a hitachi.
madads 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 0 replies      
If only I could find the Hitachi Deskstars for cheap.
wil421 12 days ago 1 reply      
Neither you should buy an SSD.
Show HN: I open-sourced my web app alternative to Illustrator mondrian.io
618 points by artursapek  9 days ago   92 comments top 49
daenz 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Not much to say other than: Wow. Great Job.
ii 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 8 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 9 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 9 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 9 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.

Michael-XCIX 9 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!
lukaseder 8 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 :-)
watwut 9 days ago 0 replies      
Great job! Hope you find success with it and thank you for open sourcing it.
thebiglebrewski 9 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 9 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.
cashmonkey85 9 days ago 0 replies      
The is also http://vectorpaint.yaks.co.nz an online vector editor
jbeja 9 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.
webwanderings 9 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.
johncoltrane 7 days ago 0 replies      
Since when did an alternative to something stop needing to do at least as much as that something?
Sir_Cmpwn 9 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't work at all for the MediaCrush logo.


krmmalik 9 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for doing this. This may seem like an ignorant question but can your app open .ai files?
kriro 9 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool, thanks.
Fede_V 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 1 reply      
Really really impressive, you roxxPS: http://tutorsbox.com creator
Edmond 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty awesome!
dangayle 9 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. It seems very responsive, which is great.
elwell 9 days ago 0 replies      
Condition of source code got my upvote.
ajaymehta 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is so sweet, Artur!
felics 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, thanks for this!
elwell 9 days ago 0 replies      
So did you just make this for fun?
dclara 9 days ago 0 replies      
Nice try. What type of OSFS license are you using?
varkson 8 days ago 0 replies      
It's unusable on IE but looks interesting none the less.
jpincheira 9 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful code. Love it.
noaheverett 8 days ago 0 replies      
You really did put a lot of work into this, great job.
3838 8 days ago 0 replies      
you could check out http://paperjs.org/ too, was originally a plugin for ai
vrajpal24 9 days ago 0 replies      
Artur this is pretty super dope wedep. Good job homey.
JungleNavigator 8 days ago 0 replies      
Really nice.

I like it works with Dropbox

nXqd 8 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats ! This looks great :D
borplk 8 days ago 0 replies      
Great job!
ehosca 8 days ago 0 replies      
yeah ... just like Illustrator .. hardly any noticeable difference in in features ...
1/9998 = 0.0001 0002 0004 0008 0016 0032 0064 0128 0256.. wolframalpha.com
597 points by rsiqueira  4 days ago   97 comments top 39
crntaylor 4 days ago 6 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 ....


PhilipTai 4 days 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 ...

neals 4 days ago 7 replies      
Ok, I hope somebody has a really good logical explanation of this, or maybe even some other awesome examples?
aortega 4 days ago 0 replies      
You don't need wolfram if you have unix's bc:

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

rsiqueira 4 days 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.
rsiqueira 4 days 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...

Trufa 4 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of being bored in high school.
dclara 4 days ago 1 reply      
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
rsiqueira 4 days 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
thomasahle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Making new patterns is pretty easy. Just write use wolframalpha and write

sum k^3*1000^(-k) for k=1 to infinity( = 334667000/332001998667 = 0.001 008 027 064 125 216 343 512 730 ...)

Also see if you can guess which one this is:40920041/997002999 = 0.041 043 047 053 061 071 083 097 113 131 151 173 197 223 251 281 313 347 383 421...

Mmmh. Primes.

StevenXC 4 days 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:


zyrthofar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Way back, I found out that there are an infinity of such patterns. I was really awed by that!


kachnuv_ocasek 4 days 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?
Navarr 4 days ago 3 replies      
Breaks at 8,192 of course...
huherto 4 days 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.

asgard1024 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also, 1/243 = 0.00411522633..

Source: Richard Feynman, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

emillon 4 days ago 0 replies      
(2^i / (10^(5i)) = (2/10^5)^i = 1/(1-(2/10^5)) = 10000/9998

(you get the idea)

joefkelley 4 days 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

hajile 3 days ago 0 replies      
An explanation


If you wanted to extend this, make it something like 1/999999998 instead.

achalkley 4 days ago 0 replies      
What does this mean?
swayvil 4 days ago 0 replies      
at about 10^200 decimal places in we found instructions for building an ansible.
Russell91 4 days 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

dewiz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Similar nicety on tartaglia's triangle, which represents infinite powers of 11
fotoblur 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing but WTF does it mean? Are we living inside a simulation!
obfuskater 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
This one is also interesting:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daro6K6mym8
crawrey 4 days ago 0 replies      
HN just turned WolframAlpha into a porn site.
pszjmb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan of 3^-n | n > 4. Apparently Richard Feynman (1997, p. 116) also was curious about the decimal expansion of 3^-5.

Feynman, R. P. 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!': Adventures of a Curious Character. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.

chenster 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not related, but 12345679 * 8 = 98765432
mamcx 4 days ago 0 replies      
And this is usefull or simply neat?
LePoneyRouge 4 days ago 0 replies      
You can add 9 for more digits per power of 2:http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=1%2F99998
sillaroja 4 days ago 1 reply      
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]

Square thinks I dont exist kevinchen.co
532 points by kevinchen  6 days ago   252 comments top 50
pyduan 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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."


tptacek 6 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.

abalone 6 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 6 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 6 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.

mcphilip 6 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 6 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 6 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 5 days 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 5 days 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 6 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.
pmorici 6 days ago 1 reply      
And people keep asking what the advantages of BitCoin are over Paypal/Square/Credit Cards/you name it.
cordite 6 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..)

CalRobert 5 days 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.

rpauli 6 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 5 days 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"? ....

adamio 6 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.
rdl 6 days ago 0 replies      
You have to be 18 to sign up because you need to be able to sign a legal contract.
kevinoconnor7 5 days 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 5 days ago 1 reply      
Square is just another PayPal and I don't understand why people can't see that.
jayzalowitz 6 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?
ergo14 4 days 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.

Procrastes 5 days 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.
jtbigwoo 6 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.
LeicaLatte 5 days 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.

tomasien 6 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)
ck2 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have the same problem with raise.com - they refuse to sell me anything.
lhgaghl 5 days 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)

billclerico 6 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.
pbreit 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you visited and interviewed there, I'm assuming you tried emailing one of your contacts?
Beltiras 5 days 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.


midas007 6 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.
rpicard 6 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.
lhgaghl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, when I opened this page it showed me this:


rajacombinator 6 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the world of financial services. They're not designed to help you.
imkevinxu 6 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...
bambax 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Design is how it works, not how it looks.


bfish510 5 days 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.
Sami_Lehtinen 6 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 5 days 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
Does Bitcoin think you exist?
fivre 6 days ago 0 replies      
This story loaded right above https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7131231 the Bitcoin exchange arrests). Kind of ironic.
tga 5 days 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
527 points by randallma  8 days ago   841 comments top 86
blahedo 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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.

nicolethenerd 8 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?

enjo 8 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.

krstck 7 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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.
skybrian 8 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 8 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.
teddyh 8 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)

geetee 8 days ago 1 reply      
This pile of comments is such a fucking downer. Get the sand out of your proverbial vaginas.
victorhooi 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
It's like /r/ShitRedditSays has invaded HN.
maguirre 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
It should be renamed "cargo" as it encourages cargo cult programming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_programming
mattdeboard 8 days ago 1 reply      
If you like the idea but hate the name, symlinks & aliases.
codergirl 8 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 8 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...

gfodor 8 days ago 0 replies      
White Knight News
stared 8 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!

darbelo 8 days ago 3 replies      
Here's a nickel kid, go buy an operating system with decent man pages.
hodgesmr 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
man is short for manual. bro can be short for brochure. Which kind of makes sense anyway.
jtheory 8 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.

fleshweasel 8 days ago 1 reply      
If you are getting that upset about the use of the word bro you have bigger problems
shurcooL 8 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
remember when we didn't have to check our privilege before reading HN?

that was nice.

NigelTufnel 8 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.

piyush_soni 8 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.
tight_scientist 8 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.
mayneack 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 7 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 8 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 8 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.
siddboots 8 days ago 1 reply      
How about "ma'am pages"?
noodly 8 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.
Deinos 8 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.
vezzy-fnord 8 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.

vacri 8 days ago 0 replies      
Crazy that you have to have Ruby installed first.
Toam 8 days ago 1 reply      
spoiler 7 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!

ryan-allen 6 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.

donotsurveil 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
A ruby project, what a surprise.

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

ygra 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
Went to bropages.com later to install this (instead of .org). The irony, it hurts.
methodin 8 days ago 2 replies      
Bro, short for browse?
kristopolous 8 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote an identical thing 10 years ago. went nowhere. boohoo for me.
csuper 8 days ago 0 replies      
Bro, do you even code?

I like the concept btw...

zequel 8 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.
whistlerbrk 8 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.

fleitz 8 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, also dear haters if you don't like the name just fork it and change it.
spoiler 7 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!

ishener 8 days ago 0 replies      
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means. - Albert Einstein
maguirre 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 7 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely brilliant. Love the name.
c7b0rg 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, I always browse the man pages looking for examples ...
DanBC 8 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.
SrslyJosh 8 days ago 2 replies      
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?

politician 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm loving these social experiments! Reminds me of gorgasm.
jcutrell 8 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 8 days ago 3 replies      
I think it should be sis pages.
be5invis 8 days ago 0 replies      
It is the `get-help <command> -examples` equalivent in Powershell, right?
hibbelig 7 days ago 0 replies      
Sis pages: like bro pages, but with better examples.
dreamfactory2 8 days ago 0 replies      
Sticking it to the man
mumbi 8 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  9 days ago   217 comments top 36
zyb09 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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.

meerita 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm removing right now Candy Crush. Thanks for this post. I hate these ungrateful people.
higherpurpose 9 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 9 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!"

TeeWEE 9 days ago 1 reply      
Lets boycot them (as if hacker news people are playing their games ;-
rbritton 9 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...
oneeyedpigeon 9 days ago 0 replies      
Utterly disgusting. Candy Crush deleted.
jamesbrownuhh 9 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...) :)

erikb 9 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.
thepumpkin1979 9 days ago 0 replies      
King is the New Zynga, no surprise there.
CmonDev 9 days ago 0 replies      
How embarrassing would it be for a gamedev to be working for them... I hope their best coders will leave.
m0skit0 9 days ago 3 replies      
Is this a surprise to anyone? In capitalism, money is the only thing that matters. What do you expect?
benologist 9 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.

AznHisoka 9 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.
baldajan 9 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.
jgreen10 7 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.
TomiHiltunen 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
They should have trademarked Clone Cash instead
robmcm 9 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was rife in the game industry. Everything's a remix these days anyway.
abjorn 9 days ago 0 replies      
It's not like Candy Crush was original in the first place.
slr555 9 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 9 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 9 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.

The Magic of strace chadfowler.com
504 points by chadfowler  2 days ago   98 comments top 29
rosser 2 days ago 5 replies      
Small, somewhat nit-picky critique: the man pages for system calls are in section 2. If you want to see the docs for the "read()" syscall, and not the bash builtin "read", saying "man read" won't may not (see follow-up) do what you expect. Instead, you should say

  man 2 read
This should probably be mentioned somewhere.

Otherwise, great writeup. Thanks for sharing!


tedivm 2 days ago 3 replies      
So what happened with the Lotus system, and how did strace help?
Argorak 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the writeup! strace should definitely be in your toolbox. There is also systemtap, which I like a lot as well. It has some problem on Linux though, especially only being widely supported of Linux > 3.5 if the distro you are using does not ship with patches. Custom userspace probes are a real strong point.

I wrote a short article about stap using Rubys probes as an example: http://www.asquera.de/blog/2014-01-26/stap-and-ruby-2

leoh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mac OS X has a suite of tools built on a similar package called dtraceopensnoop and execsnoop. Gives really nice real time lists of all files opened on the system and all binaries executed, respectively.
yread 2 days ago 3 replies      
You can use Process monitorhttp://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896645.asp...to see a similar overview of low level activity. You won't see all the system calls, you can't pipe the output directly, but there is a UI and you don't have to look up file descriptors
gopalv 2 days ago 1 reply      
"perf top -e syscalls:statfs"

particularly when you don't know which process is calling all the syscalls.

Mix "perf record" and "perf trace" & you have the next generation of strace tools.

kev009 2 days ago 5 replies      
If you think strace is useful, wait until you try dtrace.
dave1010uk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Quick strace command that I use all the time to see what files a process is opening:

    strace -f <command> 2>&1 | grep ^open
Really useful to see what config files something is reading (and the order) or to see what PHP (or similar) files are being included.

There's normally other ways to do this (eg using a debugger) but sending strace's stderr to stdout and piping through grep is useful in so many cases it's become a command I use every day or 2.

eldavido 2 days ago 2 replies      
I use strace all the time doing ops at Crittercism. Some of the random things it's helped with/taught me:

- allowed exploring forking behavior of daemons, in particular the nitty-gritty of gunicorn's prefork behavior, and understanding the rationale behind single- and double-fork daemons generally (very important to understand for job control e.g. writing upstart/init.d jobs)

- isolated hot reads to memcache in situ, by identifying the socket associated with the memcache connection, and finding which key was read the most by a process (we built better logging after the fact, but sometimes there's no substitute for instrumenting prod during tough perf/stress problems)

- let me explore the behavior of node.js's several threads, and find one of them sending "X" over a socket to the other (still not quite sure what this is, some kind of heartbeat/clock tick?)

- helped understanding "primordial processes" and the exact details of how forking/reparenting work on linux

It's a great tool and one that every ops/infrastructure engineer should be familiar with.

MiWCryptohn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Don't forget it's userspace equiv (strace is syscalls), ltrace. This tracks all lib calls made by process.

Under windows, strace is an SSL/TLS monitoring tool (also hella useful). It shows payloads passed to CryptoAPI/CNG libs so you can easily troubleshoot explicitly encrypted protocols like ldaps. Especially useful if you use client authenticated TLS where is is not possible to use a TLS mitm proxy to snoop the layer 7 data.

mrfusion 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone heard of a program that will take strace (or dtrace) output and create a pretty diagram showing which commands call which commands and which files they read or create?

We've got a fairly complicated bioinformatics pipeline that calls about 100 other programs, and creates or reads about 100 different files. I'd love a way to create a picture of what's going on. Which files each program uses, etc.

If such a program doesn't exist, would that be worth building? Could it be something I could potentially sell?

justincormack 2 days ago 1 reply      
For OSX you need to use dtruss, for NetBSD and FreeBSD ktrace is what you need.
dicroce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also check out ltrace... Shows the calls to other libraries the process is making...

I'd also like to point out that a key to using strace successfully is the result column... Programs that fail often make system calls that fail right before they exit... You can often tell what the program is trying and failing to accomplish...

np422 2 days ago 0 replies      
Strace is easy to use, commonly available, and very useful in many situations.

More modern tools such as dtrace for the solaris and systemtap for linux addresses similar problems but with a broader coverage.

csmithuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
strace taught me that glibc never does what you think it does behind the scenes!
davyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just a few hours ago, a newly minted Ubuntu binary was crashing due a library version mismatch. I thought I had updated the shared libraries to point to the new versions. But definitely something was still hooked to the old version. I just couldn't figure out how/where. ldd wasn't of much help because everything was OK according to it. "If only I can get a bit more info when the binary is running and spit out everything before the crash."

Tried my luck with gdb. Sure enough...there was libQt5DBus pointing to the old libs leading to the crash. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can step one instruction at a time after starting. Even without debug symbols, there is quite a lot of info that be used while troubleshooting.

memracom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Totally agree that strace is an awesome tool. I've even used it with Java apps that were behaving wierdly, just attach and see what it is saying to the kernel.
chadfowler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bending to the will of the people, I have appended a conclusion, clarifying the fate of the Lotus Domino server. http://chadfowler.com/blog/2014/01/26/the-magic-of-strace/
kyaghmour 2 days ago 0 replies      
In case you're curious, this is how ltrace (strace's library equivalent) works: http://www.opersys.com/blog/ltrace-internals-140120
peterwwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of fun to be had with strace. I wrote a tiny perl script that spies on the file descriptors of another process and outputs it to your terminal: https://github.com/psypete/public-bin/blob/public-bin/src/sy...
mwcampbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's instructive to see how much simpler the strace output for a simple program is when the program is statically linked. Especially if you use an alternative libc like musl (http://musl-libc.org/).
Anthony-G 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ive used strace before to help diagnose issues with buggy software I was using and I thought this was a great article.

I just thought Id let people know that it can be a lot easier to read straces output if you read the output log file using Vim as it contains a syntax file which can highlight PIDs, function names, constants, strings, etc. Alternatively, if you dont want to create an strace log file, you could pipe the output to Vim and it will automatically detect it as being strace output, e.g.

  strace program_name 2>&1 | vim  -

kylequest 2 days ago 1 reply      
Even in the 90s Java decompilers existed, so the "We had no source code" excuse sounds a bit strange :-)
alinspired 2 days ago 0 replies      
my favorite use of strace to learn which files (especially config files) are being open by a new daemon/tool:strace -f -s1024 2>&1|grep open

also remember also useful 'ltrace' - libraries tracing

alexnewman 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first level up on java is being able to tell useful things about it via simply straceing it. Once again another win for dtrace.
Derpdiherp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Useful article. But the background of the blog flickers rather badly, it's pretty migraine inducing.
arca_vorago 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't forget that sometimes strace is overkill, and similar more easily parsed things can be used instead, for example, /usr/bin/time (vs bash time) has been coming in more and more handy for me.
LinuxIsNotUniX 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unix tools? You mean Linux....
CrispEditor 2 days ago 2 replies      
Please see

This is a tool called ptrace - which does everything that strace does and a lot more. You have working binaries in there, and most of the source - I havent extricated the full build dependencies so it all builds, but this includes extra facilities like reporting summaries of process trees, showing only connections or files, and shlib injection into a target process.

If people are interested more on this, contact me at CrispEditor-a.t-gmail.c-o-m

The email line that's client repellent letsworkshop.com
496 points by robwilliams88  2 days ago   93 comments top 37
jxf 2 days ago 8 replies      
Interesting; I ran essentially the exact same experiment a while back (June to August 2012) and had a different conclusion!

-- 68 incoming consulting leads

-- group A: responded to 34 with "let me know how I can help"

-- group B: responded to 34 with "would <date-and-time> work to discuss this further?"

-- group A: 20/34 (59%) responded, 14/20 (70%) led to contract negotiation stage

-- group B: 6/34 (18%) responded, 5/6 (83%) led to contract negotiation stage

So "let me know how I can help" outperformed (p < 0.01) suggesting a date/time.

There's a few possible explanations for the discrepancy:

* The kind of clients I had are different than Robert's clients. At the time I mostly did software engineering consulting and pair programming, and my clients were small units in mid-to-large size companies.

* I only ran mine on incoming leads, not outgoing (solicitation) leads. It sounds like Robert did it for everything.

* Content of the e-mail matters, not just the last line. Perhaps the way I write my e-mails is such that kicking the ball back to them is better for me, whereas Rob's style means a different strategy works better than him.

* Something changed about how people read e-mails in between my experiment and Rob's article.

codegeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good writing. When we say "Let me know how I can help", we are asking the other person to do work because then they have to think about what/how they need help with. Most of the times, people are lazy and you might be surprised but the fact is that they don't want to do work even for their own requirements. Instead, They want to hear solutions.

This even applies to environments at very big companies. At my current client (Fortune 100), we work with distributed global teams and we have those dreaded meetings all the time. In those meetings, we in IT will ask business for requirements which makes sense. However for projects that need quick turnarounds with tight deadlines, we sometimes don't have the luxury of getting detailed requirements. In fact, the more we discuss requirements, the more we are stuck. Asking "how I can help" usually gets a response of "Sure. what are you proposing". You cannot keep going back and forth with "depends on what you want". The reason is that even though we all would like the best solution with all features, it just does not work that way in real world because time/resource/budget is limited. Instead of asking "how can we help", we analyze the current process and then propose multiple options. So in essence, we say "Here is how we can help". It then makes it really easy for business to say "Yea we like Option 1 and if that's the best you have for now, let's go with it". Boom, you just got a decision maker to agree and you are on your way. You are also that guy who got shit done.

I used to think that we get big bucks as consultants because we are awesome devs/designers/PMs/BAs whatever. But after a decade in the industry, I got wiser. You are valued as a consultant because you get shit done by taking the initiative to propose solutions to clients. Then you deliver it to them. No one gives a shit about anything else. Really.

josteink 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a "client" (although small one) I can confirm this. I've been outsourcing some work, and when I was trying to collect offers from various professionals you definitely had two distinct kinds of actors.

Those who did suggest follow-up actions and did lead you on and those who didn't.

As a client I always felt insecure and confused by those who didn't. Where did that leave me? What was the next step? Was I responsible for the next communique? With what topic? How does this affect my agenda? Where do we go from here?

With the people who did suggest follow up items and who had specific actions and priorities, it was easy for me to respond. I already had an agenda, ready and served. The path on further was already set.

So yeah. I guess people are different, YMMV and all that, but as for me, I can attest that this sort of approach works much better.

Jare 2 days ago 0 replies      
"A good rule of thumb is: if a client can just reply sounds good to your email, youre right on"

Fantastic summary and advice. I try to apply this not just at work but also when proposing activities with friends and family.

bluedino 2 days ago 0 replies      
>> Could I really boss the client around and tell them what they needed to do?

Yes, that's exactly what they are paying you for.

We had a disaster recovery project that sat on a todo list for 6 years. It got passed around from person to person, discussed at every other meeting we had, but nobody ever did a single thing about it. We brought in a consultant who did no magic other than delegating tasks to a few people, and the project was completed in 4 months.

We paid a guy to come in and tell us what we already knew we had to do. I'm not sure if we did it because now we were spending money on it, and it'd be wasteful not to follow.

dasil003 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've done a fair amount of freelancing and this blew me away in that I had never thought about it. I guess I had developed a sort of instinctive understanding that clients want solutions not just another employee to manage, but I never thought about how common (and often vacuous) this phrase is. Excellent insight.
at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who spent a fair deal of time in sales, this is the worst thing you can do to close an email.

You're essentially saying, "If you need me, contact me." and allowing the client to just opt out of working with you.

In sales, you always had to have a path where you want to lead the client. "Let's put together a time frame for A, B, C and I follow up when A is done." or "Once the budget is approved, we're going to do A, B, and C by this date." It also shows you're invested in the client and invested in what they want to accomplish.

It does take extra work to nail down clients, and at times will feel like you're trying to herd cats, but it's quite effective in the long run.

jader201 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is this the same as "Let me know if you have any questions."?

I often end emails like this, more as an acknowledgement that while I feel that I am clear, it may not seem clear to you, and to not hesitate to come back to me if anything is not clear to you.

But maybe this also is leaving a similar impression as "Let me know how I can help."?

swombat 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very good article. Posted my response here: http://swombat.com/2014/1/31/let-me-know-if-i-can-help
brd 2 days ago 3 replies      
This philosophy is applicable to much more than just sales.

I generally try to avoid highlighting problems unless I can suggest a solution. People don't want to hear whats wrong, they want to know how things can get better.

mrintegrity 2 days ago 1 reply      
Works with online dating too.

"Would you like to go out some time?" bad

"I really like you, would you like to meet?" terrible

"Let's go out at the weekend, <barname> is really great" good

"I am free Tuesday and Friday, let's get a beer and continue this conversation in real life" good

cantbecool 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article clearly illustrates the red pill philosophy. He demonstrates a few things with his emails, his time is money, he has a plan and will make your live easier, and you get the impression he's not desperate for work, making him more attractive to future clients. I want someone successful mentality.
rwhitman 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a great article. I recently shifted my approach to client relationships in a similar way but never really did any real thought with why it was more effective or formalized my methodology. Looking at it in perspective makes a real case for responding like this consistently.
mratzloff 2 days ago 0 replies      
The secret here is that the underlying philosophy--manage the client and get things done--applies to everything. If you are a salaried employee, treat your boss that way. If you are coordinating with another group, treat them that way. If you want a date, etc. The guy or gal who gets things done is more valuable than the guy or gal who gets hung up on details.
colanderman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Similar tactics work when reviewing code. On a scale from least to most effective:

1. "I don't like how this is coded."

2. "[#1] because it can result in X happening under circumstance Y."

3. "[#2] Alternatively, structure the code as A or B."

4. "[#3] Here are code snippets implementing the change."

Almost no action will occur as a result of #1. However, #4 leaves no excuse but hubris on the part of the reviewee not to accept the modifications (obviously assuming they correct the issue and do not introduce new problems!).

mooreds 2 days ago 0 replies      
Works for internal "clients" too. Proposing a couple of solutions is almost always better than asking someone else to do so.
apinstein 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can also leverage this "problem" to your advantage in some cases... when someone wants to meet with me but I'd rather not do it soon (or ever), I will purposefully respond with "Sure just let me know when is a good time" and it gracefully delays the occurrence of the meeting. Whereas if I want the meeting to occur, I will suggest a hard time. This really helps prevent your life from being interrupt-driven by low-value activities.
rdudek 2 days ago 0 replies      
This writeup was actually a lot better than I anticipated. One of the key things in consulting that I learned over the years is that you're basically contracted to help and grow the business. You have to present yourself as an ally that can provide solutions to problems and help the client grow their business.

Don't just write in your email your products/services and "hey, let's meet up and discuss stuff". Any high school or college kid can do that. Throw solutions, it will really make you stand out.

driverdan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suggest using a common sales technique. End the email with a question instead of an open statement that requires no response. The question can be as simple as "Does this work for you?" By using a question your assuming / prompting a response. It may not always be the response you're looking for but at least you'll know one way or the other.

The OP's idea of proposing two solutions is good too, even if there is one real solution. You're allowing the client to make a decision, even if it's a forced one. It lets them feel in control. Give them two solutions and then ask something like "Which would you prefer?" You're almost guaranteed an answer.

When I get a new lead for a project I know nothing about (either incoming or outgoing) I usually do a very brief one or two sentence intro and end with "How can I help?" It's similar to "Let me know if I can help" but requires a response.

lesterbuck 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly the issue covered in depth on the direct marketing podcast "I Love Marketing". They come back to this issue over and over for the last few years, but the very first time they discussed it was the episode on converting leads[1]. Dean uses a clever analogy about inviting someone over to your house and telling them "Get anything you want out of the fridge, I'll be working in the den" vs. "I just baked a plate of cookies. Would you like a cookie?" The relevant part of the episode starts about 23 minutes in, or read the complete transcript.


munificent 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Clients were increasingly respondent to my emails.

This is tangential, but the word you want here is "responsive". "Respondent" is a noun, and an uncommon one at that. It means, "a person who responds", similar to how "dependent" means "a person who depends".

atiffany 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. Now, if you're reading this and still calling yourself a "freelancer," your next step is to stop. Calling yourself a consultant instead of freelancer is the quickest way to start asking higher rates.
hosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to do independent consulting. I don't right now. I had already been informally doing this these days for taking uncertainty out of things. I think I am going to do this deliberately for all work related matters. I seem to get better results (getting shit done, people think I communicate better).
mrcactu5 2 days ago 1 reply      
When my boss replies with "sounds good" I start looking for my next job.

I totally agree with "let me know". These simple 2 or 3-word phrases can mean very different things in different English-speaking subcultures.

Here's what UrbanDictionary says about a variant:

  > LET ME KNOW HOW THAT WORKS OUT FOR YOU    the easiest way to end an argument when your   opponent relays their intentions to do something   that you do not agree with.

or how about "good luck" ?http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=good+luck

  GOOD LUCK      a phrase used to wish someone well in an endeavor     sometimes a pointless phrase if the task at hand   does not even remotely involve or require luck.    Ex. good luck washing those dishes.   i hope the knives don't fall on your foot and slice your toes off!
This is interesting from a theoretical perspective as well. In linguistics, all languages have what are known was "particles" - words that are so frequent it is difficult to ascribe any meaning to them, and yet they shade our language.

SixSigma 2 days ago 0 replies      
This works for life in general, not just client relations.

If someone says "let's have coffee sometime" jump right to "How about next Weds afternoon?" instead of "sure, good idea" and leaving it. If they're just blowing you off you'll find out there and then, either way you won't have to initiate contact and get it back to this point once more.

Making arbitrary decisions is taxing. Give people something to agree to.

herghost 2 days ago 1 reply      
And the natural corollary is that if someone is attempting to stitch you up with a crappy piece of work that they're trying to get out of doing, if you respond to their attempt to palm it off to you with a question about the work that forces them to engage with it before they can respond, you will find that the crappy piece of work quite often never comes back your way.
instaheat 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have definitely been the subject of this article. I had a particularly demanding client that didn't seem to want to put any work in, work you and I would probably both consider her responsibility.

I was brought in for consulting on A & B - but she wanted me to do the rest of the alphabet too. Ultimately my billable hours drizzled away to nothing, and my client was impossible to get a hold of.

I did find myself using these lines in various emails whilst working on the things I deemed my responsibility.

I still don't know if they had success with their project because she decided to go at it on her own.

grimtrigger 2 days ago 1 reply      
Will definitely try this: but I'm also wary about working with clients who don't know what they want.
pbhjpbhj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't he fail with the last para call to action?

>"Want to try out this technique on more prospects? [...]

He needs to be more positive and active in his language and provide an action for us to follow, no? "Try out this technique with your prospects." ?

dogweather 2 days ago 0 replies      
I buy it. As a consultant, my #1 job is to make my client's life easier: to take tasks and problems off their plate, not give them new things to do. The method in this post sounds similar to what I do, and I subjectively feel like I get a good reply rate. I'll test though sounds fun.
endlessvoid94 2 days ago 2 replies      
I use this phrase all the time in my work. Do you think it has the same effect in an organization?
markrages 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a client, I am hiring you because I don't have time or knolwedge to do the project. So the ideal response is to lay out the plan that solves my problem, and all I have to do to make it happen is sign the contract. That is so much more compelling then "let me know what I can do". You're supposed to be telling me what you can do!
cmillard 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only time I use "let me know how I can help" is usually when I've approached the boundaries of what I can do. For me this phrase means: I've hit a roadblock, I need you to do something before I can proceed!
visakanv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good point, and well articulated. Nice.
Sephiroth87 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm just wondering, are people on the other side of the mail "actively" rejecting you when you say that kind of stuff, or is more of a subconscious thing?
arca_vorago 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. As a geek who enjoys thinking at a big picture level and have bigger and bigger world domination plans as I go on, I never realized until this post how much I use that line and how much it hurts my business relationships. I really appreciate the author taking the time to type this up, because I hadn't thought of it from that perspective.

On a side note, part of my problem is that I am a USMC combat vet, and I have worked very hard at toning down my bossy, demanding mannerisms since I got out, but it seems I may have taken it too far. Sometimes, people need other to take that initiative.

therease 1 day ago 0 replies      
smart, helpful- I get it and will run with it. Thanks!
How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love wired.com
480 points by daw___  12 days ago   182 comments top 45
crazygringo 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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 12 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 12 days ago 0 replies      
There was a woman who did something similar:


ceautery 11 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 11 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 11 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 12 days ago 1 reply      
Link to the guy's website:


Also a link to the kindle edition of his analysis:


programminggeek 12 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.
ajays 11 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 11 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.
morgante 11 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.

klipt 12 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 11 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 11 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.
thrush 12 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.

S4M 11 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 12 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

EGreg 11 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.

socrates1998 12 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".

fatjokes 12 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.
CmonDev 11 days ago 0 replies      
I am confused, what is English for an 'actual genius' these days?
lazyant 11 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 11 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?
auctiontheory 12 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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?
jsnk 12 days ago 0 replies      
Yes it does. That's why his bots were getting banned.
underlines 10 days ago 0 replies      
TED Talk: Amy Webb - How I hacked online datinghttp://www.ted.com/talks/amy_webb_how_i_hacked_online_dating...
wat0 10 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 11 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I wish he open sources his scraping script and algos.
bwhmather 11 days ago 0 replies      
Mandatory link to http://blog.okcupid.com/Less story, more analysis.
acd 11 days ago 0 replies      
I think that was a really cool hack and nerdy as hell :).
simik 11 days ago 0 replies      
They should make a movie out of it.
kimonos 12 days ago 0 replies      
True love sometimes comes unexpectedly! Best wishes to this couple!
Noelkd 11 days ago 0 replies      
Is this legal?
quenlinlom 11 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
477 points by eigenvector  7 days ago   364 comments top 43
hooande 7 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 7 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.

Mikeb85 7 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"


rosser 7 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.

jwr 7 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.

dombili 7 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.

nate_meurer 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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.

altero 7 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.
znowi 7 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.
solyanyk 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Best quote: "war is war, but everyone needs to updates pics in social networks"
menato 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Greetings from Cairo. I will you all good luck in Ukraine, especially in Maidan Sq.
twobits 7 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 7 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!
fromdoon 7 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.

koshak 6 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 7 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?
KaiserPro 7 days ago 0 replies      
Whats interesting is that this view seems to tally fairly well with BBC's world service's view.
antonmks 7 days ago 0 replies      
More videos : government building takeover in Vinnitsa, Ukraine : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi_B637FCDY
_random_ 7 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.
PavlovsCat 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have no idea what is going on in Kiev, but these images are amazing.
kulesh 7 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...
DonGateley 6 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.

PavlovsCat 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the translation!
shangxiao 7 days ago 0 replies      
Reading this to the tune of Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World
f_salmon 7 days ago 0 replies      
How well are these events being reported in the media (US), in your view?
mxpxrocks10 7 days ago 0 replies      
pretty nuts! thanks for posting!!
2014 Gates Annual Letter: Myths that block progress for the poor gatesfoundation.org
470 points by pyduan  12 days ago   307 comments top 31
crazygringo 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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 12 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.

kilroy123 12 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 12 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.

dragonwriter 12 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.

pnathan 12 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.
grecy 12 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 12 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.

bfe 12 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.
jl6 12 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.

pella 12 days ago 0 replies      
"How Occupy Wall Street Won In One Chart"

--> "income inequality has been the #1 global risk."


acconrad 12 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."

misterbishop 12 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.

jokoon 12 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.

dnautics 12 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 12 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.
humanrebar 12 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 12 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 11 days ago 0 replies      
Never mind the fact that the divide between the rich and the poor is growing, and only


agarwlGaurav 12 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 12 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 11 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 9 days ago 0 replies      
Darn, I was hoping that he was talking about the domestic poor.
excellence24 12 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 12 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 12 days ago 0 replies      
Breaks back button...
niio 12 days ago 0 replies      
ignore... testing saved articles.
Why I'm Betting On Julia evanmiller.org
462 points by mistermcgruff  10 days ago   252 comments top 45
kevinalexbrown 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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.

avodonosov 10 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]

cjfont 10 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.

sdegutis 10 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

farslan 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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.
mateuszb 10 days ago 2 replies      
rubyn00bie 10 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 9 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 days ago 1 reply      
How good is the interactive plotting experience?
blueblob 10 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 10 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.

otikik 9 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.

allochthon 8 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/

digitalzombie 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm betting on Julia and Rust really. Julia for Scientific programming and Rust for system.
rrggrr 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
Based on your comments of Cowboys, you have obviously never rode hard put up wet.
georgewfraser 10 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 9 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 10 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 10 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that Julia is great. But it's not there yet, either.
enupten 10 days ago 0 replies      
All they're missing is a cool interaction mode like SLIME.
DonGateley 9 days ago 0 replies      
I want to write audio VST plugins in this language! Somebody please make that easy. :-)
ggchappell 10 days ago 0 replies      
Figlet sighting. Font: big. :-)
lafar6502 10 days ago 1 reply      
Looks strangely similar to Lua
juleska 10 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, good to see, but, what i can do with it that i can't with another language? -.-
niix 10 days ago 0 replies      
gfodor 10 days ago 0 replies      
I too agree he makes for a poor Scotsman.
Lenovo to buy Google's Motorola handset division reuters.com
446 points by rpledge  4 days ago   252 comments top 54
mediaman 4 days ago 21 replies      
Huge announcement if true, and if this accounts for the entirety of the Motorola purchase that Google made.

That means that in less than two years, Google shredded 85% of the $13bn paid for Motorola. At the time, the high price paid was excused for the patents, because the business itself did not generate nearly enough earnings to justify the price. Now, if it is true that the patents are part of the deal (the article states they are), it's proof that these did not have nearly the value anticipated.

It's also a big statement on Google's ability to succeed in the hardware market, where they've never seemed to be able to gain real success despite their attempts with notebooks and phones.

Edit: the article states the deal would include more than 10,000 patents. Originally Motorola was estimated to have 17,000 patents at the time of its purchase by Google. So while this is still speculation, and we do not know full details, there's a good chance Google may have cherry-picked the patents they felt were important to retain.

Follow-up edit: the 10,000 patent number comes from this article:http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/2014-01/30/content_17265533.htm

Edit 3: The value destruction here isn't so bad as 85%. See Magicalist's comment below for a good summary - Google picked up a lot of cash, tax loss assets, and $2.2bn from the sale of one of Motorola's subsidiary businesses as part of that $13bn original purchase price. Still a loss but not as dramatic as the headline number.

palebluedot 4 days ago 5 replies      
Google just confirmed it, and explained some of their reasoning: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/lenovo-to-acquire-mot...

I'm inexplicably bummed about this. I was excited to see what Google would do long term with Motorola, and I thought the Moto X and Moto G was a great start. I thought eventually, a Google+Motorola powerhouse could provide a nice yin to Apple's yang.

spinchange 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that this must have been the intention all along. When Google purchased them, Motorola was about to start suing other members of the Android ecosystem because they were that desperate. So the deal was always defensive. I think the value of Motorola's IP was always overstated and Google knew that but it made for a good story for shareholders along with Google signalling they were serious about hardware. And maybe they are, but the whole "American made" angle they took and all the tax incentives they got, and for what...to sell the company 7 months after launching a flagship phone??? It's a great phone, but it looks to me like this whole thing was set-up to sell out from the start. If so, it was a brilliant unwinding of something that could have been very bad for Android at a critical time. As others have pointed out, they didn't take as bad a bath financially as it seems either.

The alternative narrative is that they suddenly had a change of heart because of Nest, but why not just integrate or put that team in charge of Motorola if it's about talent?

In any case, the Moto X is a really nice phone. I feel bad for the employees of Motorola and find this maneuvering very "corporate" and un-Googley.

zmmmmm 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's hard not to draw connections between the various events of the last week or so: 1) Google/Samsung patent deal, 2) Google purchases Nest, 3) Google sells Motorola, 4) Samsung suddenly cools on Tizen.

Theory: Google gets offered the opportunity to buy Nest. Either Larry or Sergey gets serious interested. They bought Motorola because they wanted a serious stake in the hardware market. They toss up which is better - Motorola or Nest? They decide Nest is the winner. They realize the valuations are such that they could pretty much just swap Motorola for Nest. But there's a problem: Motorola was also their insurance for making sure they would always have an OEM to make Android handsets. If Samsung ever turned - they would never find themselves unable to secure a Nexus partner. So they go to Samsung, and offer a deal: patents, guarantees of support, probably other stuff: as long as you agree to make Android your flagship each year AND GPE phone version of it. This seems good enough. Motorola not needed any more and they can get a new toy to play with - Nest is the winner.

IBM 4 days ago 1 reply      
This makes this tweet[1] from Chris Dixon hilarious:

"Which strategy wins the future: stock buybacks or investing in AI + robots + smart devices?"

I mean it really shouldn't surprise anyone that a VC would be cheerleading expensive acquisitions with no regard for shareholder value or whether it has any hope of making a significant return.

But the real answer to his question is: organic growth. And if you are confident in your ability to create organic growth, then the best way to use large amounts of cash to create shareholder value over the long-term is stock buybacks (assuming you have the cash to fund that organic growth and your shares are undervalued, which in Apple's case, both are true).


m0nastic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Despite the huge delta in what they paid for Motorola, vs what they're reported to be selling it for, other people have pointed out that the way the deal was structured may not actually wind up making it a huge financial loss for Google.

I certainly can't think of any way to spin the way this turned out to be positive for Google, but I don't think the absolute numbers will worry them all that much.

I haven't seen anyone here mention that at the time of the acquisition, Motorola was attempting to sue all the other Android manufacturers over its patents; and it was posited that Google was basically forced to buy Motorola to keep them from poisoning the ecosystem.

I assume that not happening was probably worth more to Google than what they would up having to pay for Motorola.

Psychologically, it does help reinforce the idea that Google really doesn't know what it's doing with regards to hardware (although hey, they just paid more for Nest than potentially what they're selling Motorola for).

cromwellian 4 days ago 1 reply      
Regardless of the Google specifics, we should really have some sympathy for the Motorola employees. I doubt Lenovo will stomach quarterly losses the way Google did while they restructured. My guess is, we're going to see big layoffs.
skizm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Better article: http://investor.google.com/releases/2014/0129.html

Assuming that google keeps the majority of/important patents then they basically bought the patents for $4.74 billion. They sold the "set top" division for $2.35 billion and now they're selling the mobility division for $2.91 billion. They also kept about $3 billion in cash that Motorolla was holding when they bought them for $13 billion.

That's not even counting whatever tax incentives they get from these deals. So all in all, it isn't as bad of a deal as it looks like on the surface (in fact I assume it is what Google was planning from the beginning).

footpath 4 days ago 0 replies      

"Google will maintain ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures. As part of its ongoing relationship with Google, Lenovo will receive a license to this rich portfolio of patents and other intellectual property. Additionally Lenovo will receive over 2,000 patent assets, as well as the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio."

slg 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am sure I am part of the minority on HN involved in the enterprise market, but I am intrigued by what Lenovo's plans might be for Motorola. With their already established relationships and customer base, Lenovo should have a much easier time selling their hardware than Google did. At the very least, this move might be the final death knell for Blackberry.
tptacek 4 days ago 1 reply      
They're keeping the patents, right?
ChikkaChiChi 4 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if this has anything to do with Apple's focus on the Chinese market. Google could effectively hand off a tightly wound partnership to an established Chinese company in Lenovo that can then leverage Android more effectively in a head to head battle with Apple.

In the interim, Google keeps its hands clean and doesn't enter into the discussions that plague any sort of success in the Chinese marketplace.

justin66 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a tangent but I'm a little disappointed by this latest executive-level assault on the language, from Larry Page:

> So until then, its business as usual. Im phenomenally impressed with everything the Motorola team has achieved and confident that with Lenovo as a partner, Motorola will build more and more great products for people everywhere.


"Partner." Yeah...