hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    12 Feb 2014 Best
home   ask   best   5 years ago   
Today is The Day We Fight Back thedaywefightback.org
1723 points by brokenparser  18 hours ago   230 comments top 75
sinak 17 hours ago 13 replies      
All of the people who built the site and the banner are volunteers who met on HN across various threads, and not members of any of the advocacy orgs or companies listed on the site. We're really interested in getting feedback on how future campaigns can be better, and happy to discuss some of the decisions we made. The non-profits involved did all the legal and organization lifting, and this is a great opportunity to donate to the EFF and Demand Progress if you haven't recently.

Likely the most impactful thing you can do right now is to add the banner to your own site and ask the companies you work for to do the same. We've tried to make it as easy as possible to add the banner; you can find all the options (including a Cloudflare app and Wordpress plugins) here: https://github.com/tfrce/thedaywefightback.js

Pushing for technical solutions to the surveillance is also really important. Friends at Fight for the Future are launching a campaign along those lines as soon as this one wraps up, and there are a lot of open source projects (e.g. the great work done by [Whisper Systems](https://whispersystems.org)) that deserve attention.

But legislation and technology need to work hand in hand for things to change in the long run. Even if we have decent technical solutions, legal measures can easily limit the scope of their success (see Lavabit).

suprgeek 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Why don't we (as the hacker/programmer community) also "fight back" in the meaningful & legal way that is our core strength?

Resolve to push for encryption if there is any PII data in an app that you work with especially if it is a e-mail/mobile/social app. at scale

Refuse to work with/at NSA until their policies change

Refuse to participate in any committee/standards body, conferences, with NSA employees (or their cohort companies who have willingly forsaken the public's interests)

Encourage non-tech folks to adopt stronger privacy practices

etc etc...

BobMarin 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is great post from reddit by SomeKindOfMutant:

"Right idea; wrong methods. Let me explain.An email to your legislators may result in a form letter response and a phone call to the office may amount to a tally mark on an administrative assistant's notepad.But, if you want to get their attention, a letter to the editor published in one of your state's 5-10 biggest newspapers that mentions them specifically BY NAME is the way to go.

That is the crucial thing to know--the rest of this comment is an explanation of why I know this is true.I know this because, when I interned in the D.C. office of a senator one summer, one of the duties I shared was preparing a document that was distributed internally both online and in paper format. This document was made every day and comprised world news articles, national news, state news, and any letters to the editor in the 5-10 largest newspapers within the senator's home state that mentioned him by name. I was often the person who put that document on his desk, and it was the first thing he read every morning after arriving to the office.

I began to suspect that this was standard operating procedure because several other senators' offices share the same printer in the basement of the Russell Senate Office building, and I saw other interns doing the exact same procedures that I was involved in.Since the internship, I've conferred with other Senate and House employees past and present and determined that most--if not all--offices use essentially the same procedure.

Edit:I don't mean to suggest that calling or emailing your legislators is worthless. It isn't--it's just not the most effective route to getting their attention. However, if you don't have the time to writer a letter to the editor, please consider at least calling or emailing them. In fact, there's no reason why you couldn't use multiple tactics by calling them, emailing them, and writing a letter to the editor.If you would like to go the call or email route, tools to help with that can be found at https://thedaywefightback.org/"

BrandonMarc 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm amazed that nobody's mentioned the biggest weapon we have against the political class:

Primary elections.

Not the final elections - by then the incumbents are in place and it's too late ... for national office, incumbents resign / die more often than they're beat by an opponent.

Primaries are where the action is, for two reasons:

* it's the one time an incumbent is most vulnerable

* very few people vote in primaries compared to election time, so each person's vote makes a bigger difference

Want change in D.C.? If you primary just 10% of the critters there, you'll get their full, undivided attention.

Yes, emails, letters, and phone calls have an effect. So does K Street. Politicians care about their re-election and money / resources to make it happen, so in the game of influence, I (a normal taxpayer with neither the desire nor the ability to bribe them) will always have the disadvantage. That's why I'd rather fight outside their game - in the primary race.


More info:

Yes, these links are from a tea partier perspective, but guess what? The tools they describe work for everybody just the same.


http://www.campaign4primaryaccountability.org/One of the organizations in this space; there are others out there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSib8MfaQLQLeo Linbeck describes the general strategy and how it can work.

motters 16 hours ago 5 replies      
My little fight back are some instructions on how to provide your own internet services, including encryption.


It's not ideal, of course, but in the short term since there seems to be no political appetite for relinquishment or meaningful reform then technical mitigation strategies - if they can be sufficiently popularised - may help to reduce the harm resulting from mass surveillance.

Ultimately the solution is both political and technical. When politicians or other public figures make claims that what's going on is "not mass surveillance" or try to imply that collecting metadata is unimportant then they should be challenged.

fidotron 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I honestly think this is naive at best, and at worst useful idiocy on behalf of the companies dependent on the illusion the aim is even achievable.

Mass surveillance, if technically possible, is going to happen. Therefore make services where it isn't possible. If that screws with your business model you're part of the problem.

davidw 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I support this effort 100%, but... there's something a bit off about the messaging that I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps "the day"? This is going to be a long haul, not like killing SOPA or some other bad bill. This system is entrenched, and has a lot of support. It's going to be a long fight, and it's going to be a slog.

For those in the US, though, please do call your representatives.

easy_rider 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to be the focus is a lot on the NSA ..The NSA just happens to be the best at what they do. The Brits and Germans are pretty good too. As a Dutchman I know a lot of the HUMANINT stuff here relies on hijacking SQL databases and metasploit, and what is provided from other sources. But everyone is trying to catch up and make friends with ..

We basically need a publicly audited restructuring of our entire communication infrastructure. The problem has grown to such proportions that we now know that we can not trust governing institutions like NIST, or chip manufacturers like Intel for example. What makes matters much worse is that the U.S. government will just keep playing the same card of supposed reforms, while operations will not cease, but instead will do a illusive dance to more black on black policies.

At the same time, public interest in the matter has already massively dwindled due to over saturation in media coverage. While the cointelpro is working hard to dismiss everything as essentials to provide us with a (sense of) security for the global fight of terrorism and crime, apathy will prevail.

Also I'm referring to U.S. policies a lot, since they are the ring leaders and are influencing international policy and operations at the highest level.

But obviously this is a problem across many if not all governments. The nature of intelligence agencies is to gather intelligence by any means. This will never change, never disappear unless we get full transparency on government. Which will never happen due to concerns for national security. And we know where that road will lead to.. ask how Bradly Manning is doing.

So no, I'm a bit too informed, and have become way too cynical to be counting on a revolution any time soon :(

pirateking 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It is a positive day for the freedom of information and I am happy to support it, make the calls and emails, and tell friends about it.

I also think framing it as a one day campaign where the fighting involves passive action at the individual level is not a game winning strategy. It is still a great rallying signal though, and its effects have already gone beyond the single day, and for every person too lazy to change their avatar back, they will carry on for a good while longer in some way.

However, the motivation for the average person to even think about engaging such an overwhelming and invisible force as mass surveillance is very close to zero. For those who are willing, involvement seems to be passive (donating to a more capable organization, hitting a like button, resharing links), bursty (waiting for organized events to rally around), or demoralizing (low visibility of opponent, lack of support from uninterested peers or locals, extremely slow and indirect feedback loop for any action).

For these reasons, I hope that a campaign modeled as a constantly running open source game engine emerges, because that is actually just the bare minimum required for victory - to at least continue playing the game as long as your opponent is playing, no matter whether you are winning or losing at the moment.

A game model will at least make undeniably clear that there exists a thing worth playing for (your personal information perhaps), that there are actual opponents who can and will take this thing from you, and the visibility and mechanics needed for you to take action to protect that thing.

sneak 12 hours ago 6 replies      
Nothing on this page effectively answers the single most common response to mass surveillance:

"Why should I care if they read my emails? I'm not important and I don't do anything wrong. If it helps them catch terrorists, who cares?"

Until this question is answered clearly and effectively, nobody except all those splinter groups represented by so many logos will care about this.

netcan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Snowden, the NSA scandals and the subsequent political and media responses are very clear example of our right eroding. But, they are mostly concerned with the US Government and US citizens.

This is a global fight. The perpetrators and the victims are everywhere.

lpolovets 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I think it's interesting that there are ~200k Twitter/Facebook shares at the time of this comment, but less than 10k calls/emails. The message seems to be, "I think contacting legislators is a great idea! I hope some of my friends do that.."
sethbannon 10 hours ago 0 replies      
FYI as of 11:30am ET there are approximately 5,000 calls per hour going into Congress right now through this effort. Keep it up everyone!
weego 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Hash tags to show support? History is fucking laughing at us today.
wavesounds 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy, June 6 1966 (South Africa address)

einhverfr 17 hours ago 2 replies      
As far as I am concerned, fighting back for a day is useless. The NSA is probably going to find they have already lost this battle because we now trust their co-conspirators a lot less. It's the slow, relatively minor pressure over time by billions of people that will change things.

But the real danger is with the next battle. I think we are going to see a major showdown over legality of encryption generally within the next few years with a push for legally required back-doors (since it will be harder to guarantee cooperation unofficially and there is almost certain to be a lot of effort into guaranteeing better security). That's the one we should be steeling ourselves for.

So I won't be participating in this "The Day We Fight Back" not because I think it is unimportant but because I think it is too important than to relegate to a day of action.

d23 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh sod off.

The point about things like this is that by raising awareness and getting people on board to do concrete action, we move the "collective consciousness" in the direction we'd like to see it go. Imagine if 20 years ago everyone had that attitude about gay and lesbian rights. Imagine if 80 years ago everyone had the same attitude about equal rights for minorities.

You people are jackasses. Just because someone can't dedicate their full time job to fighting this doesn't mean they don't care or are lazy. And even if they did dedicate their full time job to it, what exactly do you suggest they do? The first thing that comes to mind to me is that they should start trying to rally others. Which is, as it turns out, exactly what is being done here.

davidw 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Since you guys are reading this, a huge thanks for putting the time and effort in to organize this. Here's hoping you are able to keep that up for the long haul.
duncan_bayne 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Calling it fighting is a bit of stretch, if you're still paying taxes.
dutchbrit 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like the banner, although, in all honesty, I don't think this will have any effect on spying. I truly believe that the NSA cannot be stopped by words alone. People lie all the time. The only thing I think words can do in situations like this is drive it more underground, and make the NSA lie that everything is back to normal...

Presidents lie. Politicians lie.

Now, if every American refuses to work 1 day, and all head to the NSA's office, datacenter (and actually destroy the thing), that'd really mean taking matters into our own hands (extreme scenario, I know). The NSA knew people wouldn't like this, but they did it anyway, because nobody knew. We will never truly have 100% transparency what the NSA is doing. People can no longer trust them. Period.

kumph 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This gave me a chance to collect my thoughts. I sent the following email to my representatives. Thanks, Sina, for your role in organizing this.


I think I understand what is going on. The folks at the top look at all the huge centralized information stores like Facebook, Google, Verizon, etc., and I guess they think, "well, it's gonna get collected anyway, so we may as well have access to it." President Obama actually hinted at this line of thinking when initially caught off-guard by the Snowden revelations. Instead of responding directly, he deflected, suggesting that what we really needed was a larger conversation about mass collection of data, i.e. not just the collection by governments.

The trouble with mass data collection, either by governments or private entities, is that it gives the possessors of such information extreme amounts of power. Left unchecked, it will almost certainly lead to severe economic and political corruption. The free market is compromised when a small group of people can spy on the private communications of executives and other business people, for example by stealing trade secrets or conducting insider trading. Meanwhile, democracy is compromised when politically active people, including politicians and activists, are made subject to intense scrutiny. Since virtually no one is totally free from legal or moral wrongdoing, the possibilities for politically motivated blackmail and retaliation are massive. And of course the data collection has serious chilling effects on free speech and freedom of the press.

If no course correction is made, the U.S. will become more and more oligarchic, more and more like China and Russia. This is unfortunate not just for its implications vis-a-vis individual freedom, but also from a larger perspective. This century we are faced with a diverse array of extremely difficult problems: economic, political, social, and environmental. Non-democratic governments have a historical tendency to fight with one another rather than cooperate, so it is hard to imagine how we will effectively confront these problems in the absence of strong democratic institutions.

What worries me is that some of the people in positions of power may actually believe that this massive data collection is somehow necessary to protect Americans from terrorism. But it is patently obvious that terrorism is not, and never has been, a serious threat to the personal safety of most Americans. Over the past two decades, something on the order of 800,000 men, women and children have died in car crashes, while around 3,000 have died as a result of terrorism. If this were a matter of saving lives, we'd be much better off fighting a "War on Car Crashes" than a "War on Terrorism." If this is purportedly an economic issue, i.e. the fear that a dirty bomb will go off in Manhattan and upset commerce, well, the fact is much worse things have happened (i.e. Hiroshima) and economies have recovered. This perspective may sound cynical, but in truth it is idealistic. I am not dismissing the tragedy of the death of perhaps thousands of people, but rather saying that, for the sake of a free and democratic society, such sacrifice is worthwhile.

The idea that "collection is going to happen anyway, so we may as well have access" is not unreasonable, but it is ultimately self-defeating. What we need is real leadership on this problem. Not only is there no strong voice against mass data collection, but the overwhelming thrust of the government is to reach its tentacles as deeply into the data gathering machine as possible. Instead of working to lessen the danger, the government is acting to accentuate it, amassing and centralizing even more data, and meanwhile using its media access to legitimize such activities to the public.

Again, what is needed is strong leadership. We need a group of people at the highest levels of federal power to put up a fight in congress and explain clearly to the American people why, in fact, we are on a very dangerous road. If not corrected for, this road will lead to the end of the democratic experiment, and a very uncertain future for our children. I hope that you, as my elected representative, will seriously consider taking a stand on this issue.

aryastark 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The Catch-22 is that if I had faith in my fellow Americans, then we would not be sitting in this deep well of depravity.

If you look at where we are, today, as a nation, how can anyone have hope? We're a nation that finds it more politically convenient to kill people by drones than to close Gitmo. We're a nation that, quite probably, kills people by drones simply because our leader promised to close a prison camp that would have normally taken said people, but can't now because it would be too visible and too much of a political issue to have people arriving to a place that is supposed to be closing. So America invents remote-control murder from the sky. You can't deny that we're a crafty, ingenious people.

Today we know that George Carlin was not cynical enough.

acd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Please reply to this message with more applications that you find useful.

Self-host your email and keep it secure and encryptedhttps://www.mailpile.is/

Project Tox, also known as Tox, is a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) instant messaging application aimed to replace Skype.https://github.com/irungentoo/ProjectTox-Core

Host your own file sync solutionhttp://owncloud.org/

Torproject anonymous surfinghttps://www.torproject.org/

The invisible internet projecthttp://geti2p.net/en/

GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking https://gnunet.org/

Kali Linux - Linux distribution with security focushttp://www.kali.org/

dllthomas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Just heard a report on Democracy Now, where the EFF spokeswoman interviewed raised some important points that shouldn't be overlooked regarding privacy rights and when searches take place, &c, but seemed to accept Obama's assertion that they are only looking at collected data when there is cause. From my understanding, that is false. It is probably true that they are only supposed to look at data when there is cause, but the reports of instances of "LOVEINT" - spying on (current, former, or potential) romantic partners - seem to indicate more access, especially the fact that the instances of such abuses as have been found were self-reported (so other misdeeds may very well be going undiscovered).
lazyjones 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good initiative, but I still find it depressing that we have to fight entities operating outside the law or in violation of it, using methods strictly within the boundaries of the law. It's not a fair fight and it's not likely to be successful.
super_mario 14 hours ago 4 replies      
So the suggestion here is to "fight back" by asking politely the people who are abusing you to please stop.
sneak 12 hours ago 0 replies      
All the logos in the world aren't going to make foreign organizations trust American companies with their data again.

The blow to trust has been struck. Operating a data processing or data storage business inside US jurisdiction is now a liability.

It's time to leave.

codex 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Ultimately, uses of technology reflect a society's values. Unfortunately, mass surveillance will be a mainstream value until the fear of terrorism fades. As frustrating as it may be, all the protests in the world won't make these values mainstream.
xradionut 15 hours ago 1 reply      
If the organizers really want to make a difference, the site should replace the words "call and email" with "buy and pay".
josefresco 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and suggest that if political involvement is what we're shooting for, robo-calling your representatives isn't the best way to achieve true reform.

Pissed that the NSA (or insert gov agency here) is running amok? Get involved in your government, vote out the lawmakers who let/made [it] happen, and advocate for and vote in representatives who will invoke the change you want.

Appealing to the public in this manor encourages laziness and while it may be "practical" (as we can't expect everyone to throw themselves into the process) I don't think it's the best long term solution.

Not trying to torpedo this movement but I cringe whenever I see the words "script" when talking about invoking political or societal change.

goldbeck 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The suggested script is kind of awkward if your representative is already supporting the USA Freedom Act. However, even if they are already in support, it seems important to let them know you have their back on this, and that your future support will continue to be contingent on their stance on surveillance-related issues (if indeed it is). I know not of these things from a political angle, but the following seems reasonable to me

1. Start the call by asking if they're cosponsoring of the USA Freedom Act.

2a. If they are not, use the script, it makes sense.

2b. If they are, thank them for their support of this bill. You can also let them know how important these surveillance issues are to you and the extent to which your representative's actions on these matters will affect your behavior at the polls and in donations.

Just a heads up to those planning to call (please do!). I felt kind of silly finding out that the first senator on my list was already a cosponsor after reading through the script, and wanted to save others the minor embarrassment. It should feel good to call your representatives and express your support for such important issues!

That aside, this is a really great campaign. Thank you so much to everyone who put it together and made it happen!!

Yuioup 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Why do I have a feeling that this is like changing your Facebook picture because you think it might make a difference?
shrnky 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What disturbs me is not once was Obama's image shown in this video. More than anyone he is the person pressure should be put on to start change(no pun intended).

Before we knew the extent of surveillance we saw images like this of Bush:http://www.funny-games.biz/pictures/648-vampire-bush.html

I never had to go looking for the imagery above during Bush's tenure it was everywhere. Where is it now for the current administration?

Killah911 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Posted this up on our Meetup Group & sent out an e-mail to ask members to participate. One person left the group due to this. Funny thing is, she works for Cloudera!


midhir 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Great initiative, I've shared & supported it. But is compiling a database of (full) names and email addresses of internet dissidents really wise given that that's the very medium these organisations are abusing?

And would it be enough to deter a significant number of people from putting their details in and showing support?

throwaway125 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Including a third party javascript to protest and spread awareness about mass surveillance... That seems a little ironic.
GrahamsNumber 5 hours ago 1 reply      
You want to fight back? Turn off Google services, MSFT services, Facebook, Youtube, Yahoo, DDG, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. for a day, that'll raise awareness like never before. But all these companies don't really care, do they? A day's worth of profit is more important.
wcummings 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think some people are missing the point, this is clearly intended to raise awareness, nothing more.
worldsayshi 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it a weirdly ironic that a protest opposing government collection of personal information, such as political affiliation, from opt in data stores on the internet consist of declaring your political affiliation in an opt in data store on the internet.
whitej125 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So what I find interesting is that as of 4:38pm EST this page has:* 72,000 tweets* 312,000 FB likes* 21,000 G+ shares

At the same time... there 54,700 calls made and 114,122 emails sent.

The number of social media shares is almost double the number of people that followed through with the "call to action" here. Why?

If you are publicly passionate about the cause, I think you would do both (social media share + contact legislator). If you were privately passionate about the cause, you would just do the later; contact legislator.

But what is your mindset if you share this via social media, yet don't actually follow through with the call-to-action yourself?

nicholassmith 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice to see this is now a link at the very top of HN. Well done to everyone involved.
IgorPartola 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Odd. The call count seems to go up and down with every refresh.

Also, when you call the 202 number instead of having it call you, you the message talks about something related to the trans-Atlantic partnership, not the NSA issue.

Thanks for putting this together. I called and was pleased with the experience. Really hope some good comes of this.

gkop 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I called the three New Mexico lawmakers through the tool, and was able to reach human beings at all of the offices (Senators Heinrich and Udall and Representative Lujn). Thanks for making it so easy!
mrcharles 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So this is an NSA honeypot to collect email addresses... right?
mikhael 13 hours ago 0 replies      
In my opinion, the front page should really, really highlight the call-back-and-show-script feature. Sending this out to family and friends, this is the piece I really want them to see.
adam12 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I get the following message when going to the page to email my legislators:

Heroku | No such app

There is no app configured at that hostname.Perhaps the app owner has renamed it, or you mistyped the URL.

robotcookies 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Asking politicians who have broken laws in secrecy to stop being secretive and stop breaking laws isn't going to work. The only useful course of action is to vote them all out of office.
doctorshady 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I suppose it's common knowledge now, but a lot of people seem to think a phone call will get more attention then an email in political scenarios.
plg 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm all for this (fighting back) ... but (and I sincerely don't mean to be cheeky) but how exactly is putting a banner on your website 'fighting back' ?
arca_vorago 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The irony to me is that they have two of the worst offenders when it comes to mass surveillance advertised on the side of the page. Facebook and Google, despite their attempts to say they weren't aware of the NSA gaining access to their info, are probably just as much of a threat to privacy as the NSA total information awareness.

It goes like this: let the private companies run wild when it comes to privacy violations, and then gobble up all their data via national security letters, subpoenas, secret taps via NSA tech, and warrants for higher profile stuff and then only if desperate, and that is assuming an adversarial nature between the private sector and the government. In fact the C-levels are often directly approached and goaded into silently and secretly cooperating. (and if they refuse, ala Quest, they get targeted by the system)

Of course there is the matter that it is governments who will take the surveillance information and then act upon it, making them the slightly more evil evil in the room, but that does not negate the issue of private sector mass surveillance that is for sale to the highest bidder.

I've been one of those who has ranted about the dangers of the NSA since the late 90's, and now that it's a mainstream issue, it seems to have taken on a "oh yeah, the NSA is bad! stop that surveillance" kind of hipster social wave that lacks any kind of detailed nuance or explores the origins and destinations of this admittedly huge issue.

Yes, the surveillance is unconstitutional. So have been many of the other activities our American oligarchic powers have been engaged in over the past decade, including the assassination of American citizens without due process.

All of these things point to a much more deeply rooted issue than simply "surveillance", namely, that our fundamental governmental structure is in ruins as a result of a combination of corruption and apathy that has gutted the already precariously positioned checks and balances system.

Russ Tice has said he held in his hand the wiretap papers for a then hopeful senator from IL, who happens to now be in the Whitehouse. Are we really so naive as to think that Obama is clean coming from such a notoriously corrupt political arena? The intelligence agencies have been using the same techniques for ages, namely, bribery and threats. Russ Tice has also said he held in his hands the papers for judges who now sit on the SCOTUS, and FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has a source who was responsible for vetting potential judges (up to SCOTUS level), and according to her, he said that anytime a judge came up clean, he was immediately removed from the roster of potentials. The implication being that only controllable people are allowed.

The point is that all three branches of government are corrupt and no longer (if ever, don't mistake that phrase for golden day idealism) functioning as servants of the people and defenders of the constitution (I wonder what the legal importance of oaths really is these days, because I seem to be surrounded by oath-breakers(USMC combat vet)).

And of the three branches, it is the executive which lords it's power over the other two.

The really sad part is that it seems to be the private sector which lords power of the executive. This is the trail of breadcrumbs that truly concerned people need to start discussing, researching, and following. It's very difficult to do. It's hard to track down the global supranational corporate structure. I am still often referencing this paper: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf

Oh, and as far as technological surveillance goes, there are two main starting points. 1) open source EVERYTHING (especially our trackers ahem cellphones) 2) decentralize everything possible. That is how we gain control of our data back... but that's becoming more and more difficult.

Honestly, I think RMS was simply a man far ahead of his time, and the history books (if he isn't wiped from their pages) will refer to him as a visionary in a sea of overly pragmatic corporatists who failed to see the big picture.

I could go on quite a bit about this, but that's where I'll leave it for now.

cik 12 hours ago 0 replies      
First off, way to go with all of this. While I don't believe in "raising awareness" in general, I think this is the best way to keep this in the spotlight.

There's one thing to keep in mind though. I don't think any of us actually hate the NSA (in particular), or your local version. The piece I hate are the policies and their implementation. I'm sure that like all organizations there is some work being done by the NSA/CIA/FBI/KGB.... well maybe KGB was going too far.

I'd love to see links in this thread to the other ways people are supporting the struggle, whether it's blog postings, tumblrs, or something else. In that vein, here's my blog posting:


stefek99 8 hours ago 0 replies      

What is going to happen with the script after the campaign?https://github.com/tfrce/thedaywefightback.js/issues/98

My personal view: I still don't get why it is bad, #pleasesurveilme --> https://twitter.com/stefek99/status/433307672838819840

kbar13 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish the "send email" button is more responsive, or at least shows some kind of progress. Clicked once and nothing happened so I thought I misclicked or missed and clicked a few times more, resulting in 6 emails. womp womp!
Chirael 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of the "enter your phone #, we'll call you and show you a script, then connect you".

But I wish there was also a link for a more traditional "here are the phone #s of your representatives and a sample script".

With the latter, I could just print out that page and find a private place at work - away from my desk - to make the brief phone call.

baldfat 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It is treat as a "Tin Hat" issue, or a Occupy Wall Street movement. The people in my circle (several hundred) see this as a non-issue.

We have an issue of education and clear message. Especially how this counters the Constitution.

Maybe a push for everyone to read "1984" :)

rufugee 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So...the number it tells me to dial (202) 999-3996 tells me I'm calling to fight the Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This isn't related...could someone fix this?
spazmaster 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not getting any feedback in Chrome or Firefox (Mac OS X) that my signature has been registered... what a shame!
yincrash 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I sent an email, but I'm not a fan of the auto-opt-in of the random mailing list.
shawn-butler 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I would make the source code for the android and iPhone apps available.
durrrrrrr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's all add an external javascript file to our site, that will sure stop the tracking.
austerity 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, so much negativity here. The whole thing does seem a little disappointing, but we have to start somewhere, don't we?

Added to our (moderately large) site.

fargolime 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I felt compelled to give a fake address for fear of automated reprisal. If the NSA builds up enough of an anti-surveillance (in their minds anti-American) dossier on me, I could be added to the no-fly list or worse.
zdrummond 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea for the Call Congress feature.... however when I tried it would not accept my zip code. I hit 9-8- "Sorry we don't recognize your zip code"
chalst 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Oh, a flash protest, one that seems to have been announced with a press release only yesterday and pushed by the EFF just one hour ago.

Well, it is too short notice for me to invest the time to black out my website, so I will not be supporting this. Maybe there will be a similar action next year that I will support, if it is better advertised beforehand.

johnjay 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Just called my representative of district 7 and told her to support the USA Freedom Act. Hope more people call.
j_k_s 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"THE DAY WE FIGHT BACK AGAINST MASS SURVEILLANCE" ... by entering your phone number and email address. LOL!
broabprobe 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Man I wish campaigns like this would happen for issues I care more about. For example, guantanamo bay or climate change or corrupt elections, etc
exclipy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The privacy policy link (international version) points to a page written in Serbian. For a campaign all about privacy, really surprised about this. Sorry, I can't give you my name and email if I can't read your privacy policy.
kumarski 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Can we be a little more digitally violent in our protest?

For example, crowdsourced black hat hacking bad links to any companies funding NSA loving politicians?

LambdaAlmighty 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I got HN upvote nr. 1337!

That means my petition signature will hold a special weight.

jacquesm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
How much traffic can your infrastructure handle?

Would it be too much to ask for an easy to clone repo (github?) that would allow one to serve the content directly rather than by including some 3rd party javascript widget?

gesman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Distributed Denial of Misservice Attack
theklub 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Just one day?
pearjuice 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile in the NSA canteen: "and then they said 'today we fight back' and this time they REALLY meant it, they even had banners you could copy on your website!" massive laughter

Gotta love slacktivism.

Singletoned 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Surely this site has been set up by the NSA to harvest the details of everyone who opposes them...?
Facebook Fraud [video] youtube.com
1440 points by fanfantm  1 day ago   368 comments top 64
notlisted 1 day ago 10 replies      
Nice video. All true. I have performed tests with the same ad budget ($20k) and target audience for Google and FB. FB ROI was negative. Google ROI was 400% (travel space). The only thing that seemingly "works" has been buying likes by advertising. This video should help educate my clients of the utter uselessness of those too.

This brings up the interesting question of the general (non)value of a lot of mobile advertising. High impressions, super-low click rates, with many "falsies" because of tricks by the developer, eg where the advert is shown at random, quickly covering up parts of the user interface or extremely close to legitimate user interface elements.

Case in point, the app "Reddit in Pictures" bounces its adverts up and down at the bottom of the screen. If the advert were static, you wouldn't make the mistake of clicking on them, however, due to the bounce it has happened to me at least 20 times in the past month.

In short: for me the only valuable advert is a google advert... visible at the time when people have actually expressed interest in a topic/product, because they search for it. Note: google display network advertising is equally useless/fraudulent.

lingben 1 day ago 7 replies      
If you haven't yet watched Derek's earlier video about "the problem with facebook", you should:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ZqXlHl65g

because in it he lays bare several fundamental structural issues about facebook which 99% people don't realize. Well worth the watch.

Unless fb changes drastically, it will die a surprisingly fast death.

mp99e99 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Whats scary is from reading all this and my experience, if FB ever got their act together, it would be a serious hurt on GOOG.
mullingitover 1 day ago 12 replies      
I found a way to dramatically improve facebook. Around the beginning of the year I unfollowed every single friend and page, so my newsfeed is completely empty. Now when I want to know what my friends are up to, I go check out their pages, essentially going from a push feed to a pull. It gets me out of the empty crack addiction-esque cycle of going to the news feed and being disappointed/bored with the lives of my friends, and instead lets me focus on what facebook is actually valuable for: party planning.
kzrdude 1 day ago 3 replies      
Be sure to watch through to the end for the conclusion! I'll summarise:

Click farms like every page they can, far more than just the pages they were paid to like; the theory is that they will evade detection this way. Paying for "legitimate" facebook exposure will expose you to the click farms as well, and that will be the absolute majority of your gained likes. In this way facebook ads give a huge, but useless, gain in "Likes".

mschaecher 1 day ago 2 replies      
As someone who has helped massively grow a handful of businesses with Facebook being a significant channel, part of me wants to say "Yep, FB advertising is bunk. Everyone stop!"

But in reality I'd be saying that in a weak attempt to make my own Facebook advertising more effective.

Lemme tl;dr this in three bullets:

- It's far easier for non-sophisticated advertisers to waste money.

- The ad platform is pretty technical and nuanced

- Notice I didn't mention facebook in the previous two bullets? That's because it's true for anywhere you buy ads, even print or flyers, radio or direct mail.

So to reiterate:For any given paid advertising channel, it is far easier for non-sophisticated people to waste money as it is to see significant ROI. Any place you can buy ads is far more technical and nuanced than people who don't live and breath it could every imagine.

TeMPOraL 1 day ago 7 replies      
I have my pet theory. I'm yet to find significant evidence for or against it, but it's what my hunch tells me. The theory goes like this:

All on-line ads are mostly worthless - most clicks are from clickfarms, and the genuine parts are mostly by clickjacking or accidental misclicks. Almost no one really wants to buy stuff via ads. Ad agencies keep telling companies that advertising online will generate lots of revenue, but between all those messy, noisy metrics and people generally not understanding a thing about statistics it's hard to see what part of revenue can be really attributed to ads, and whether or not they're worth the money invested.

acangiano 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is well known among savvy internet marketers. It's great to see someone exposing it so well for the laymen and denouncing the issue at large.
eumenides1 1 day ago 1 reply      
In every Facebook HN post, there is always the "I deleted my FB account" and the "you can't really delete your FB data" back and forth.

Instead of deleting your account has anybody tried to "trash" your account via "Liking" everything you can and posting a large sets of unrelated pics? your info is only really valuable because its "true". if you trashed your account, its pretty much the same as deleting. also based on the filtering mentioned in this article, it seems like at some point your friends would just filter you out.


downandout 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are reasons that only 6% of FB advertisers are profitable, and this highlights one of the major ones. Unfortunately Facebook has a serious disincentive to fix this - namely the loss of billions of dollars in market cap. As long as the river of cash keeps flowing, they won't make serious efforts at targeting these fake likes.
lmg643 1 day ago 1 reply      
can anyone from facebook comment on this? I have a hard time believing the company can hit $7.8bn in revenue per year and have this being more than an insignificant fractional percentage of the total revenue. surely major customers would have noticed by now and reduced their spend.
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 1 reply      
The challenge here is the misalignment of interests. I agree with lingben that if someone can create a social network with the reach of Facebook but a better alignment of its users and advertisers, it will kill Facebook dead.

FWIW it makes an interesting way to evaluate Google+.

quadrangle 1 day ago 7 replies      
The ad-based revenue model is fundamentally broken. Everyone needs to run Adblock and we need to figure out an economy that doesn't rely on this garbage.
at-fates-hands 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting this is still making the rounds. Back in 2010 I remember seeing articles talking about how their ad services was a total Ponzi scheme. Nice to know not much has changed. At the time I was thinking about investing some pretty large amounts of money into advertising on FB. In hindsight, I'm really glad I didn't.


joshfraser 1 day ago 1 reply      
The way to advertise on FB is to use a custom audience and pass in a list of every Facebook ID / email address you want to target. Yes, it's a lot more work, but it's also the best bang for the buck if you do the hard work to figure out who you really want to reach. I've driven a lot of revenue through Facebook ads, but it requires unconventional thinking. Just like Google, the obvious advertising options are usually a total waste of money.
kpao 1 day ago 2 replies      
We learned this last year when we started paying for ads on Facebook. Our app is in a niche market (Flight Simulator for mobile devices), I assumed that very little people would click, but we saw a constant increase of about 1K likes/day. After looking at the analytics, I decided to cut Brazil and India. We had a huge disconnect between our App Store country data and those ads, and we also saw no noticeable change in our sales figures.

The accounts also were random like the one in the OP video, a Indian teenage girl liking a Flight Simulator? Why not... Hundreds? nope...

I feel like I've been cheated by Facebook in a way and would like my money back. They sure can find a way to figure out if those clicks are legitimate. Someone has 3K likes of random interests? That's a red flag to me.

sytelus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why everybody seem to ruling out the idea that FB is not running click farms? Theory that professional likers are clicking Virtual Cats and Virtual Bagles just so they don't get noticed by FB policing seems ridiculous.
droidist2 20 hours ago 0 replies      
You know what else is interesting? If you pay per click then your ad gets shown to accounts that click on everything, but if you pay per impression (CPM) then your ad gets shown to people who almost never click on anything.
nayefc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Twitter ads are pretty much the same. Never pay for ads for Twitter and Facebook. More than 98% of what you pay for goes to fraud followers.
nonsequ 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm interested in learning more about this. Does anybody have any thoughts?I think that, by intentionally posting unlikeable things, he guarantees himself 100% spam likes. On something that's actually likeable, these spam likes might be contained to a reasonably small proportion of likes. But what is the size of this shadow population of click farm users on Facebook? For these countries with large click farms to be the largest contingent of likes on big pages like David Beckham suggests they are not small enough to be manageable...I also don't know Facebook's revenue distribution well enough to gauge the business implications. Is it tilted towards small businesses that have serious trouble weeding out spam? Or is it concentrated with the large corporations that can garner large enough real audiences to ignore the spam?
thinkcomp 1 day ago 3 replies      
When I moved to Silicon Valley in 2006, I had just lived through the events that were eventually twisted into the movie The Social Network. My conclusion having witnessed Mark's behavior firsthand was that he was the least trustworthy individual I had ever met and that he was likely to harm others.

At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little ("the sky is falling!") I wrote a great deal voicing my point of view, including my very first post on Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24742), in which I called Mark a fraud. For expressing my grave and sincere concern, I was met with what could only be described as considerable hostility.

Aware that very few wanted to hear what I had to say, I did everything I could to move onto more interesting and useful work. I don't spend my time worrying about Facebook, so I haven't looked into their ad technology in any depth. Nonetheless, everything in the above video strikes me as spot on, which would also mean that I was exactly right. Facebook's entire valuation appears to be based on little more than false advertising and click farming. As the CEO of a publicly-traded corporation with a supposed market capitalization of $162.61 billion, Mark would still appear to be, as I described here (http://www.aarongreenspan.com/writing/essay.html?id=80), the greatest con of all time.

I hope that based on these findings Facebook finds itself the target of civil actions filed by multiple Attorneys-General and the DOJ, but I doubt very much that our justice system would render a fair outcome even then.

drawkbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well done video and yes this is a problem. But except for the possible hit on how it distributes engagement to the graph, most people will never complain about fake likes, so it will go on. Facebook will adjust to allow for fake likes to not hit engagement and it will go away.

However I think they need to add a modifier to regions. Likes count as a like but overall engagement should be less equal from bot farm areas. A bit like an electoral college or aggregated country value based on fraud/fakes.

In the end advertising is always a small conversion rate and is very thin online so tricks to kick up visibility will always be around on every ad system.

j_s 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can Facebook ads be targeted at users with less than a certain number of likes?
hrjet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Although the conclusion of this video might be right (the engagement from users who like your page is not high), I don't agree with the premise that click farms are only present in developing nations.

Moreover, an experiment with just ~10$ and ~35 likes seems statistically insignificant. A figure of at least 100$ and hundreds of likes would have been more credible.

chaz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought I read a comment here that thought that there was a cultural difference as well. The author mentioned that a couple of distant friends in some countries who would Like every one of his posts, no matter what it was about.

Regardless, the need to drive up page fans is probably over, as the value of a fan/Like was always questionable. Target your actual customer base and pay for clicks that matter. Facebook seems to still be a great place for performance-based display advertising.

taylorlb 1 day ago 0 replies      
There should be an option for page owners to clean their likes based on engagement if they want to.
Kiro 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not so sure about the explanation. I have also gotten a lot of these useless "like thousand of random pages" likes but the difference is that I'm pretty sure they are real people.

Could it be that their computer is hacked? That they are part of a like farm without knowing it? A lot of the profiles I've been analyzing seem to be really computer illiterate so it wouldn't surprise me if they are more prone to install viruses and less likely to understand that something is wrong when their feed is filled with updates from random pages.

blumkvist 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like how a bunch of programmers, mom&pop bakeries and nerd youtubers who have absolutely 0 experience in marketing/advertising expect to throw $50 on facebook and see astonishing results and ROI.

Guess what? Marketing is a difficult discipline. Pick up a book on communications and a couple more on copywriting and advertising. Then another one on marketing. Do a demographic/psychographic profile, read a ton of whitepapers and case studies.

Then map out your strategy, load your account with money and test, test, test.

You are going vastly unprepared in a space filled with people who do this for living and expect to compete with them. When you fail after your pitiful attempt, you blame someone. Human nature at its best.

tlogan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good video and but nothing new. One workaround is to create custom audience based on emails you have. That helps a little.

And I would like to point out that he might be wrong about engagement of "fake like" audience. Some farms will give you fakes which are very much engaged (I guess to prevent detection of fakeness).

The most interesting thing is to see whether Facebook will do something about this.

On one side, this definitely helps their bottom line. On the other hand, it erodes usefulness of Facebook as an ad platform.

hippich 8 hours ago 0 replies      
project i wanted to start http://PaidSo.com - basically a marketplace where you will get paid for posting stuff about local businesses. Seeing post from friends about restaurant opened in their area should give more significant bang for a buck then trying to sell something online to people reacting negatively to any online advertisement.
icpmacdo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This dude has a good channel. This video blows my mindhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcrBqCFLHIY
chris123 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not Facebook that is the problem, it's the entire Silicon Valley culture. Facebook is just a reflection of that. Rotten to the core.
raymondduke 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a fan of what works. And right now Facebook is what is working. I don't know if it's the same for you, but not a day goes by where I don't overhear someone talking about Facebook in public.

About the video, the guy ran a poor campaign for a pointless page. He was expecting advertising to work like a magic button where you click it and you get engagement. The guy had no product and no target market. He advertised nothing to everyone. Of course he's going to get poor results.

About the click farms. Yeah, they do exist. But it's not Facebook's fault. Just like it's not Google's fault if people use the internet to send spam. You have to think about the scale that Facebook operates. They're the number two website in the world. And the number one social network. Let that settle in for a second. Fraudulent activity is, unfortunately, inevitable when you have a site like that.

The bottom line: become smarter with your ads. Have an actual product and a real audience. Ironically, I know of a copywriter / marketer that made a website for the dog niche. He gets 800,000 engagements a week on it. Every one of his posts gets 500-26,000 likes and tons of comments. The site is basically a news site for dogs. He just does content right. And he knows how to advertise. He doesn't spend time making fancy videos like this guy did. He gets things done. He gets results. He partners with dog related products and services and makes a killing entirely from a Facebook page.

This video is an insult to marketers. It's like me trying to insert a floppy disk into a cdrom drive, then complaining that computer makers are all frauds.

jokoon 1 day ago 3 replies      
This makes me hate the web.

I like the internet, but facebook infested so many websites with those widgets...

If facebook keeps living, I'll say "meeeh".

If it goes down, I'll say "GREAT. Now's the chance for reddit and twitter and G+ and others".

smaddali 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having worked on Fraud Detection and Risk Management at eBay previously, I can understand the difficulty in solving this.As it was explained in the video, the fraudsters will want to look like the regular folks as much as possible. I think this is solvable problem. I will not post the features here, My guess FB folks already know how to address this specific aspect of Fraud.

Btw, has anyone had better experience/ROI with FB Mobile app installs ?? How is the effectiveness of those Ads ?

sgaunt 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I run a dating site as a side project. For me Google ads are too expensive and I couldn't target a particular country/age/sex as in facebook. (Yeah, likes are useless. But I just wanted eyeballs.)But in December they suddenly disapproved all the ads. The official reason is they want to review and removeinappropriate ads and the advertiser has to apply again on Feb 15. Then I read elsewhere on various forums thatbig dating advertisers are still allowed to advertise (I can see some ads) and this is a ploy to reduce thecompetition for big players during Valentine's Day season. Or else why Feb 15? Whatever you say about google, at leastthey strive to be fair and honest. I think being fair and honest is not in facebook's DNA. (Yeah, It is a throwaway account since I still want to advertise there :( )
raymondduke 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm so glad this video came out. People like me can continue to dominate Facebook ads. This video will scare people away that do not know how Facebook ads work. Ask any internet marketer, Facebook ads are dominating unlike anything in history.

A part of me thinks this video was made to drive people away from FB advertising on purpose.

b6fan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe Facebook could try something like Flattr: one user has, say, 30 likes per months for pages. If he or she likes 3000 pages in one month, then each like counts as only 0.01 normal like.
doubt_me 1 day ago 2 replies      
Now people understand why G+ wants real names?

Still doesn't stop the fake accounts but at the same time it pretty much patches it. I think

ye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Solution: limit the total number of likes per account to something like 50.
peasquared 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Haha, I just posted my blog post about this sort of thing yesterday! Good timing. I'll update the post with this video.http://preeminentproductions.com/facebook-ads-part-2/
knownhuman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went through a similar experience with a client - purchased targeted ads and got immediate likes. However, those likes turned into an albatross and engagement went through the floor.

And the crux of the problem wasn't that engagement dropped, it was that for this particular client "Likes" were deemed as more valuable than actual engagement. This belief that a Like is the most important conversion Facebook has to offer is something that repeatedly encountered, and one that drives me a little batty.

tharri 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't understand. If I only advertise in the U.S., why would click farms in Egypt see my ads (and subsequently like my page to avoid detection)?
jay_kyburz 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook should stop trying to sell advertising and just start selling premium services directly to users. Seriously, just ask for $10 a month from everybody, then build some genuinely good new features.
phaer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also interesting that "cairo-based" "Ahmed Ronaldo"s name is written in greek writing on his facebook page. That does not even look like a authentic, egyptian fake account
rsanaie 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So what's gonna be next? auto generated user engagement and comments?
protomyth 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would it change anything about the problem if the initial distribution of a post would favor people with fewer overall likes and people who had previously engaged? It seems like a win for the poster, but a loss for Facebook since they wouldn't get more money for payment to promote the post.
wzy 1 day ago 0 replies      
And here i was considering what advice i should give a client on whether or not to purchase facebook ads.I want to say i am shocked but these days i am way to cynical about the ins and outs of SEO/Inbound marketing. It's all a rat race
raymondduke 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not a fan of this video. One is that it's told in a very convincing way. He sure spent some time on his charts and making his opinion sound factual. The problem is that he is wrong. Facebook ads are the most effective way to advertise, if you do them correctly. It's not Facebook that's fraudulent here. Facebook did what they said they'll do. It's the way this guy ran the ad that's the problem.
Kuroi 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I understand the idea behind the video, but to me it looks like an experiment made by a very inexperienced advertiser. This guy could be a god walking between mere mortals on AdWords, but he surely lacks experience with Facebook advertising. Let me summarize why:

- wrongly setted advertising: Google AdWords and Facebook Ads work in a completely different way. If you try to do advertising with Facebook the same way you do with AdWords... you are going to fail for sure. I work in a start-up that does Facebook Advertisng (AdEspresso [1] ) and I struggle to make customers understand the equation new instrument=new things to learn. The problem with fake clicks exists and has a lot of reasons, but is marginal and partially avoidable. It worsen if you do everything to avoid really interested people (fake page, wrong targets), I don't find it strange that you only get fake clicks (and really expensive ones!).

- how to evaluate the effectiveness of an advertising campaign: the classic and easiest way to measure ROI is the LCA (Last Click Attribution) and is when you click on the ad do the conversion, some browsing or less than 30 days in the middle are usually not a problem to keep the connection between those two actions. The classic example is AdWords when you are looking for a new razor. But what happens if I see a cool advertisement on Facebook about a cruise but it's not time yet for my holidays? I may like the page, visit it, and keep in mind that there is this really cool agency that sells fantastic cruises. It will come a time when I can ask for holidays at work, I'll remember the agency name and I'll google it looking for their website, also I may click on one of their ads because is between the top results. Next I buy the cruise: who gets the goal an who is the real dealer? That's why you look for Multi Touch Attribution models (MTA). Brand building and brand awareness are serious stuff.

[1] http://adespresso.com

ry0ohki 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not entirely sure click farms are the cause. When I ran a recent "Like my Page" campaign as a test, I noticed 99% or something absurd came from Facebook mobile. I think it's just way easier for people to accidentally click the Like the page on mobile (no coincidence Facebook has reported record mobile revenue recently).
fuzzywalrus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good video except for the love everything, mono your voice track. Every-time the speaker turns his head, the audio pans to the right. Its annoying with headphones.
linux_devil 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are lots of such activities still floating around, its not the likes which matters , its the people talking about which matters , and relevant comments .
natch 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is devastating.
newyorklenny 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Exactly our experience as we tried to promote our page on Facebook. blog.pubchase.com/what-do-facebook-likes-of-companies-mean/
dayaz36 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this applies here...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8egWWkDnU8
santidarman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course I would to run a few tests to run my hypothesis, but an almost too easy feature could make this avoidable: the ability to remove from demographic people who like X. That way, if you want to target people who like Apple you can also avoid people who like HP or Dell. An easy enough solution, that Facebook should look into.
hellbanTHIS 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it can be shown that Facebook is aware of this would it put them in legal jeopardy?
ishener 1 day ago 0 replies      
i wonder if promoting posts also lead to fake/false exposure
popee 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Gief bubble
leoplct 1 day ago 0 replies      
FB stock is losing -1.21%
debt 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here we go again. It's a new quarter. Now that earnings decimated the young-people-dont-use-facebook myth, now we have the click-fraud-is-a huge-systemic-problem myth. Haters be hatin.
gfodor 1 day ago 0 replies      
look, someone just discovered the concept of click fraud.

getting ROI on FB is hard but not impossible. driving mobile app installs with good targeting at a reasonable price can be done. i can't speak to likes but i have to imagine with good targeting and a reasonable understanding of the dynamics of click fraud that for the right domain you can get your money's worth.

JacobJans 1 day ago 3 replies      
I run profitable Facebook marketing campaigns.

Here's the problem with this guy's argument:

He expects people from Somalia to be as responsive to his content at people from the United States.

That makes exactly zero sense.

These aren't "likes", these are people. And the people from Somalia apparently don't like his content.

But, according to his very own numbers, people from the United States are very responsive.

Are fake likes the obvious answer?

Or is he completely ignoring marketing fundamentals?

Girls and Software linuxjournal.com
716 points by forgottenpass  2 days ago   413 comments top 29
superuser2 2 days ago 20 replies      
>Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer

This point cannot be overstated. I'd never have been a hacker without vast quantities of unsupervised, unfiltered internet time around age 9-12.

The largest enabling step for me was when I got my own laptop which I was free to break (software-wise) and free to take into my room so I could focus away from the distracting noises of the kitchen/living room.

Much of even the HN community would consider this irresponsible parenting. Probably even my parents wouldn't have let a daughter talk to strangers on IRC about something they don't understand. But how else is someone with nontechnical parents supposed to get started?

It's sooo much different when it's something you choose to do with your free time, rather than something half-assedly forced on you by parents or school curriculum. Especially to a kid.

krstck 2 days ago 3 replies      
Oooh, this was an icy stab right at the core. She's completely right:

>Dump her in a situation that operates on different social scripts than she's accustomed to, full of people talking about a subject she doesn't yet understand. Then tell her the community is hostile toward women and therefore doesn't have enough of them, all while showing her off like a prize poodle so you can feel good about recruiting a females

This explains, better than I ever could, why I've always felt weird about all of the attention on getting women into programming.

As a kid, I loved programming. When I became a teenager, I got wind that it wasn't something "cool" and got spooked. For someone as insecure as I was, having a hobby that I couldn't really "explain" to normal people was embarrassing. Probably if I had known a single other kid/girl that liked computers like I did, I might have continued on that path and not been distracted for about 10 years.

VonGuard 2 days ago 6 replies      
themade.org teaches free programming classes to kids. We've been doing this for 2 years now, and most of the time, our ratios are 50/50. Yesterday, in fact, we had 3 boys and 6 girls for our scratch class, then had 8 girls and 2 boys for our interactive fiction class, taught in Twine.

Couple things we've learned. First, girls default to pair programming. They cluster, they work together, when they have a problem, they solve it for one another before asking the teachers. They work together and don't compete. The boys compete and try to get way far ahead of the teachers, and end up getting lost. The girls all move at the same pace except for the ones who were advanced-class level when they showed up.

Second thing: little girls are not affraid, and not any less able to do this. It's a societal thing that pushes them away. They see the girls in their classes interested in other things, so they don't get interested in computers. Instead, they get interested in facebook, not the computer itself, because their older siblings use it, their friends use it, and they then learn that computers are for socializing. Given the proper environment, they can learn anything a geek would learn, it's just that they don't get spoon fed computer knowledge, they get spoon fed facebook, Snapchat, Pokemon and Minecraft knowledge.

Third: Minecraft cuts across all genders. All kids absolutely adore Minecraft, and about 50% want to learn programming just to make mods for the game.

Finally, girls who come to our classes keep coming back. They have a little social group with the other girls, and they welcome in other girls. The boys are left out, mostly, but that's fine as they're not having trouble learning or keeping up. The girls in our classes are their own support mechanism, and they tend to become friends outside of classes.

So, learn from this what you will.

stefantalpalaru 2 days ago 4 replies      
> Last year, his school offered a robotics class for girls only. When my son asked why he couldn't join, it was explained to him that girls need special help to become interested in technology, and that if there are boys around, the girls will be too scared to try.

And that's why we can't use sexism to fight sexism (or mistakenly enforce the same composition of the general population on self-selected subsets).

mistakoala 2 days ago 3 replies      
I groaned at what sounded like another SJW article on 'teh evil patriarchy of technology'.

I'm glad I read on for an interesting and original viewpoint.

More Susan Sons' and fewer Adria Richards', please. The former have meaningful and constructive contributions to make while the latter just make political hay for their own self-interest. As a learner, the perception of an increased emphasis on identity politics is off-putting to me. Not because I secretly want to have a career and interest in tech to further my patriarchal tendencies, but because it's shifting attention away from the interesting stuff - the stuff that makes tech fun and interesting in the first place.

timr 2 days ago 7 replies      
I'm torn. I think she makes some really good points -- particularly about discouraging young girls and the futility of shoving adult humans into foreign social situations -- but I also think she might be rather narrowly defining the personality type of a "hacker", and dismissing behaviors that she doesn't find valuable (in her words: "ephemera -- popularity, beauty and fitting in").

Maybe it's possible that there are plenty of people out there who care about "ephemera", and yet are also capable of programming a computer or soldering things together? I think it's possible. And when I read stuff like this:

"Sometimes I want to shout 'you're not a programmer, what are you doing here?!'"

it makes me think: this might be a problem. Is it harder to be a hacker if you also have an interest in social media and graphic design and popularity and friendships? Are we defining "hacker" to include only people with bad social skills and no interest outside of technology? I hope not.

guard-of-terra 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a broader point that we no longer have the open source community we once had.

It was about filling every thing with good open source software - be it desktop, server, embedded. On desktop there was a variety of DEs, distributions, software and all that stuff. There was hope that open source will win.

But nowdays I see open source largely as a server side movement powering large proprietary platforms. Everybody is using these platforms without questioning. There is no longer anything to win. Plus proliferation of walled gardens.

What will new open source hackers work on? Ruby test framework? No they won't.Maybe they will be hacking mobile dev, but that makes you conformist nimble enough to crawl into walled garden.

The politics regarding gender are just a part of politics out there.

marquis 2 days ago 2 replies      
>Young women don't magically become technologists at 22

I did exactly that. I have a degree in the arts, but always loved physics and pursued that secondarily. I failed physics because I had taken arts instead of mathematics but found that that didn't stop me learning C and building all the arts programs I ever wanted. Quite some years ago now and I was an outlier but it's not too uncommon.

Good schools are now getting girls into robotics and coding before puberty. That's when you get exited. I loved messing with radios and old VHS players when I was a kid, and probably MOST importantly my father was a technologist: exposure at a young age is everything.

e12e 2 days ago 6 replies      
Many good points in this article, but I think it falls short in analysing what's changed (or what's wrong).

> Most of all, I'm disappointed. I had a haven, a place where no one cared what I looked like, what my body was like or about any ephemerathey cared about what I could doand this culture shift has robbed me of my haven. At least I had that haven. The girls who follow me missed out on it.

Well, yes. Computing and programming has become (more) mainstream -- it's no longer a tiny sub-culture free of mainstream bias. I'm sure there are disappointed skaters, surfers and punks out there too.

I don't think the best way forward is to throw out years of feminist research, or think that "if we could all just get along like before, the problem would go away". It's not that it wouldn't go away, it's just that we need to make an effort to get there. One way to do that is to have sex-segregated introduction classes. They shouldn't all be segregated, nor is it the only thing that we should be doing -- but that is one way of creating a safe and rewarding environment. If we have tutors managing to get mixed classes going, in a way that works well, then that's great too (see VonGuard's comment for example). Generally if you can grab kids before they've been hammered into groupthink about toys, fun and gender roles (which is harder and harder to do with increasing tv commercials, product placement etc) -- then kids don't need to be "de-programmed" -- they can just be allowed to be kids. And they'll play and learn by themselves. But the later you start, the more likely you'll need to have a plan of attack if you want everyone to get a fair shake, and similar participation.

I do think she's right in calling out a lot of the crap that people do in the name of "political correctness" -- without much thought about how or why, though. Being righteous isn't enough; if you're not right, you're probably just making things worse.

[edit: I don't usually comment down-votes -- but I'd like to see a comment. The general idea is to down vote submissions that don't contribute to the discussion -- while I certainly expect many to dis-agree I certainly hope this post isn't perceived as vapid?]

Fuxy 1 day ago 0 replies      
She will probably be glad to hear there's still young hackers out there who don't give a shit about this feminist propaganda.

I for one don't care what gender you are the rules are the same regardless of gender.

If i happen to have a complaint about your code or anything else for that matter and you happen to be a girl ...well what do i care?

On the other hand every girl in STEM that constantly complains about how awkward the guys are just outed them selves as not a hacker gir.

A real hacker girl knows that the guys are awkward but it's not intentional the just never bothered with social skills.

A real hacker girl also puts as much value into fasion and the likes like any other hacker which is to say very little at all.

So that well dressed and social girl in IT is most likely not really a hacker then again this is just a generalization and would gladly be proven wrong.

Hell if you happen to know someone like that i would love meet her that is quite rare.

The reality of people like us with a curious nature is the we never find time to learn social skills and fasion we're just too busy satisfying our curiosity.

I personally would love to have a better fasion sense but i really need to get that arch install working perfectly :)

Wintamute 2 days ago 0 replies      
Blimey this piece is spot on. It manages to basically sum up many of the wordless, un-expressed proto-opinions I have on on the matter into one incredibly coherent package. Lucid, rational and heart felt - great discourse.
dev1n 2 days ago 5 replies      
Growing up watching shows like "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius" definitely shaped me as a child into the tech freak I am today. Girls getting barbies thrown at them when they are 12 does not help put girls into the tech sector. We need television shows like "Diane's Laboratory" or "Jennifer Neutron Girl Genius" to get girls interested in tech. Hit 'em when they're young.
overgard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny the lack of social justice warriors in this thread to save her from herself. (Which is to say: fantastic article, thanks).
jt2190 2 days ago 7 replies      
I'm not sure I understand what the definition of "hacker" is in this article:

  > Young women don't magically become technologists at 22.   > Neither do young men. Hackers are born in childhood,   > because that's when the addiction to solving the   > puzzle or building something kicks in to those who've   > experienced that "victory!" moment like I had when I   > imposed my will on a couple electronic primates.
It seems to imply that people who simply make their living programming computers, and who came to programming when they were older, aren't "hackers". Am I missing something?

(Edit: Given that programming careers can be quite lucrative, and that careers in general are now quite long, it makes economic sense that people would want to join in later in their lives. Short of building a time machine to correct past parenting, must these people be permanently excluded from the industry?)

shurcooL 2 days ago 0 replies      
This... sounds so very spot on. I really enjoyed the article and think it's quite excellent.
tragic 1 day ago 2 replies      
Very interesting article.

The problem I have with the particular form the tech-feminist crusades have taken is that it seems to me to be diversionary at a fundamental level. Women are not just under-represented in tech, but in the majority of the most lucrative professions as a whole. So, unless we accept the bogus argument that women are just naturally worse at stuff other than babies, we must assume that this is a problem with society as a whole (the dolls-versus-lego thing is a part of that, but not the only one).

Women-only classes and so on may or may not help the particular women involved into the industry - I don't know. Presumably that can be empirically studied by people with the time and resources to do so. But the underlying problem is a matter for 'concerned citizens', not the tech industry as the tech industry.

Crusading, say, for 'codes of conduct' at conferences has the seductive appeal of a modest and realisable goal; unfortunately, there is no nice, pat answer to gender inequality in society, as the last three centuries of 'concerned citizens' have learned. To put it bluntly, it's not dick jokes at PyCon keeping women out, any more than it's dick jokes at law school that produces the gender gap in law firms.

shiven 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't upvote this enough. This article should be required reading for every HN reader.
donaq 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Young women don't magically become technologists at 22. Neither do young men. Hackers are born in childhood..."

Nitpick: I actually only started learning to program in university as an undergraduate (I was ~21). I have a female friend who had a similar start, so you don't necessarily have to start as a child. It's not gymnastics. The thrill of solving puzzles can be experienced at any time in your life, I think.

Otherwise, great article.

skybrian 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a good rant. There are concrete suggestions for improvement, and also concrete examples of where some people went a little too far.

I'm less happy about excluding people who are coming into computing late, though.

vezzy-fnord 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good to see this article getting the attention it deserves, after it was unfairly overlooked the first time.
sdegutis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Susan Sons at 12 years old was way better at open source software than I am today! We need more children like Susan Sons in the world, and we need to give them unlimited, supervised computer/internet access.
piokuc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great text by Susan on very important issue. I'm a male software engineer and the predominance of male pears has been the only major downside of being in the business for me ever since i started studying CS almost 20 yrs ago. It should be understood and fixed for the sake of future generations.
loladesoto 1 day ago 0 replies      
i am one of 10 children (7 girls including myself and 3 boys). 100% of us went into STEM. what's more, we are Latino so growing up in a thoroughly geeky environment was, well, unique.

in high school i found safety in geeky societies like Academic Decathlon. i went to a science/engineering university and dropped out to work in tech. and as much as i love my work, i have always been aware (sometimes acutely) of being one of the only women in the room.

i'd be lying if it didn't chap my hide sometimes. i have skills commonly found among the male population (i am an entrepreneur, i know how to code) but it's a lonely existence. i still look like a woman, wear heels and makeup for the fun of it when i want to, and am relatively short! my point is, i stand out from the norm and people are constantly being surprised by me/my abilities. which means i have to do a lot of explaining and seeking out of mentors, rather than spending that time thriving in the simple assumption that i am precisely where i am supposed to be.

men have that. the really self-reflective ones realize that.

the awesome thing is, the women in my family have not only been fighting the good fight in STEM, they are passing the baton. each one of my nieces--all 8 of them--is encouraged to build, tear apart, and reconstruct stuff. these kids have to be torn away from Minecraft, unglued from their laptops and iPads. i teach girls how to code and do graphic design in my free time, and one of my favorite questions is: "When is the Maker Faire? When is the Maker Faire!" with sparkly eyes.

my experience in tech hasn't been like @HedgeMage's. although i didn't start coding until later in my career, i have always been a hacker and the dirty little secret is that girls just aren't encouraged to hack.

some of us are born that way, however. and that's a pretty amazing way to be on the inside, regardless of how we look or are treated on the outside.

jami 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's great that this author's upbringing was such that a robotics class for girls wasn't needed. My mom also taught her daughters that we're people, so of course I wanted a computer like the other smart kids at school (in the '80s).

But some children are raised to think of things as "for boys" and "for girls", and for those kids, a class for girls is absolutely useful. It isn't that those kids aren't naturally smart enough; it's that everything in their lives is telling them that robots are for boys. It's a shame that someone botched the explanation of the robotics class to her son.

lukasm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember when I was 10 my dad set BIOS password so I could only play for 2 hours a day max. I manage to guess the password. It was "dad" :). When he was coming back from work I quickly turn off the PC. After 3rd time he noticed that PC was hot.
beauzero 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome article. As a father of two daughters I appreciate some of the anecdotes that you put forward.
surana90 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very well written! It points out correctly what has gone wrong with feminism movement in recent years.
forgottenpass 2 days ago 4 replies      
I resubmitted this because it seems like an viewpoint that's important in the larger gender in tech conversation, but the author seems to be outside the mainstream conversation (or at lest what I see of it on Hacker News).

Sadly it looks like this submission is dying an even more uneventful death than the first time it was posted.

arrrg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice, complete misunderstanding of feminism and what most people argue for. Nice attacking of straw men. Nice rant for the status quo.

Im sad now.

Richard Lynch, an awesome PHP community guy and former colleague needs our help richardlynch.blogspot.com
650 points by janeto  1 day ago   274 comments top 57
amix 1 day ago 10 replies      
I donated $50, but I really wish US (and other countries) would reconsider their broken healthcare systems. My dad died of cancer a few years ago and I am really glad we lived in Denmark when he got it - - with a great public healthcare system. He lived 2 years with his cancer, which is a lot when you are counting days. Not many normal people can afford these things (as each of my dads treatments cost about 20.000USD+ and he had a lot of them).

Also, just yesterday DHH posted this:"Top income tax rate for California residents is 51.6%. Top for Danish residents is 51.7%. (Kicking at $500k+ vs $70K+, though)."

Which puts things in perspective.

bestham 1 day ago 7 replies      
It's so sad that the country where Richard lived, worked and paid taxes for about 30 years can't provide for him. I'm glad to be able to help. But what happens to those that don't reach the front page of HN? No one enduring the stress of a terminal cancer should have to stress about getting ends to meet during their last months alive. EVER
radicalbyte 1 day ago 5 replies      
Just read his series of post over his ordeal. He really has had a rough time.

Guys (and gals) of HN, let see if our little community can get to together to help Richard enjoy his last days (and maybe provide a bit for his family if we do really well).

Most of us can miss $20, and Richard and his family need it more than must of us do..

mgkimsal 1 day ago 0 replies      
It took me a while to actually see there was a paypal donation button on the right. Perhaps ad-blindness, perhaps just taken in with reading recent updates - in January, Richard was given 3-6 months to live (http://richardlynch.blogspot.com/2014/01/end-game.html). Donation sent - I hope every little bit helps.
Harkins 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rich ran the Chicago PHP Users Group for something like a decade, getting a lot of people into web coding or writing better code. He's a generous, kind person who could really use a little generosity himself.
jmadsen 1 day ago 2 replies      
"PayPal does not currently support Donation Payments from buyers in JP. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Sigh Someday the govt & banks will catch up with the 21st century.

If someone can put a little extra in the bin on my behalf, I'll look for a chance to pay it forward. Thanks

benwerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This should absolutely not be necessary in a civilized society. I don't know Richard or his work, but I donated. I'm proud to do so, and ashamed that the nation I call my home does not provide adequate support.
akassover 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh jeez... seeing Rich's name made my heart jump. I worked with him in the late 90's. He's a great guy, smart dude, and he wrote some hilarious poetry about Microsoft in his code comments during his late night coding sessions. I hate to hear about what he's going through.

During the year we worked together, Rich was probably the #1 driving force in PHP support worldwide. This was a time when PHP was still gaining traction and it really needed champions like Rich. He answered thousands of questions, posted sample code, responded to emails from strangers, and basically wouldn't leave his desk night day until he'd helped everyone that came to him (often wrapping up at 2 or 3 am).

Rich is also a huge supporter of local music and when I knew him, he was as much a driving force in the Chicago music scene as he was in the PHP scene. He happily fronted the $$$ to bands to cover the costs of recording and touring with zero expectation of getting paid back and even bought a van to loan out to bands that wanted to go on tour.

Needless to say I kicked in some cash. I'm glad to see he's getting some support here. He truly deserves it.

joshfraser 1 day ago 0 replies      
The fact that this is currently #1 on HN makes me really proud of our community. I don't know Richard, but I chipped in a few bucks anyway. Let's get this guy a chair lift.
elviejo 23 hours ago 1 reply      
My father's best friend (a friendship of over 60 years).Got 3 brain tumors... They all were removed with brain surgery.And he lived for another 3 years with good quality of life.Thanks to the biweekly physical therapy he had.

Then he passed away.

His kids didn't lose their house. His kids didn't lose their opportunity to go to college.

Not to too bad for pretty small city in the middle of nowhere in Mexico.

I wonder how one of the richest nations on earth, with the biggest army, can't provide for the healthcare of its citizens when much poorer nations (mexico, uruguay, etc.)can.

A matter of priorities I guess...

tptacek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there a way someone might donate without using Paypal?
toomuchtodo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there any way to help Rich in addition to cash?

EDIT: I live in Chicago and believe Rich does as well. Looking to help.

jey 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's the device that he describes as "funny-looking headgear that makes me look like an Irish Rabbi"? From http://richardlynch.blogspot.com/2014/01/end-game.html
antirez 1 day ago 0 replies      
I donated in order to help this specific person, but I can't feel well while many others are in the same troubles.
markbao 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow. Can't even imagine what that's like. My $20 are a drop in the bucket, but hope that bucket is getting more full.

He mentioned that he suffered a seizure and that led him to be taken into the ER. Does he mention any other previous symptoms that might have led up to it? In general, what symptoms do exist for this sort of thing?

Stal3r 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone who knows this guy set up a Crowdtilt page for him? Charitable campaigns do really well there.
rubiquity 1 day ago 6 replies      
Could someone he trusts and someone capable of setting up a cryptocurrency account do so for him? I imagine a community like Dogecoin would help any way that they can.
mildtrepidation 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how to contact Mr. Lynch or someone associated with him? I attempted to comment but don't want the extra accounts created, and would happily create and host Stripe (or whatever other payment gateway) donation forms might help people that can't or won't go through PayPal (assuming, of course, someone on the other end creates the appropriate accounts and provided they're legitimately associated with him).

I can be reached at: reportemp@gmail.com

ndesaulniers 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was so excited, my digital album had it's first sale today. When I saw this post, I donated the album's proceeds. Here's to making the world a better place!
superflit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry to read about that.

I am Not in good $ituation now but as someone who had similar problems in the past(medical bills and no money) I do feel it.

Life sometimes sucks but we can make it a little better.

Donate if you feel like it is ok to donate even small amounts.

Mz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't have money to give but it pains me to see stories like this. I think there is more that can be done to prevent this type of suffering (though I don't know much about cancer per se). I have a different serious medical condition, as does my oldest son. We have figured out how to get well. What I can't seem to figure out is how to constructively share info on what we did. Any suggestions?

(Please consider emailing me. I am not trying to derail this discussion. It is just that I have spent years talking about this and I am usually pilloried. It is very frustrating.)

Markinhos 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am really sad for this guy...

Can someone explain to me why is he asking for donations? Doesn't the insurances cover with these expenses in USA?

mildtrepidation 1 day ago 0 replies      
I attempted to donate with a credit card and was rejected; I'm not sure if it's because it was previously (and not currently) registered with PayPal or whether a donation request can't be filled by credit (my successful donation was via debit). Just something to be aware of for others trying to donate.
bhartzer 1 day ago 1 reply      
So sorry to hear. Prayers.
HackyGeeky 1 day ago 1 reply      
True - I missed the donation button the right on the first pass as well. Sent. Take care bud..
conradfr 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I donated a small amount, hopes that helps. I hope it's not some "Save Walter White" scheme :)

My grand father got diagnosed with cancer recently and my mother got cluster headaches. We are in France so everything is mostly taken care of and I couldn't imagine what it would have been otherwise.

FWIW it's retirement homes that broke family around here.

tonyhb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Don't have much to give right now, but it's a great cause. Such a shame to see anyone like this, especially someone as kind and active in the community (judging by people who know him). Wishing him all the best.
narrator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can we pay him to get treatment in another country? I'd do that if I was in as bad of shape as this guy. At least there'd be some money left over for my heirs.
imagex 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Lost my mom to a series of complications, including cancer a couple years ago. A donation to help with Richard's quality of life and his family is a truly kind thing. I'm in.

Richard, thanks for your contributions.

jonthepirate 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have coded with PHP for a long while now. Thank you for your contributions, Richard. +1 donation made.
SeanKilleen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happy to donate.

The button was a little hard to see for me on the site (particularly on mobile).

The URL that the button sent me to (I forget whether Paypal makes this useless or not, but I'm hoping it works):


Legend 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I am still a student so donated $50. I know its not much but neverthless.

PHP is the first language that I ever learnt and it has had a great influence on my life. Thank you for everything you've done Richard. Please spend the rest of your days peacefully.

kostko 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is he a part of any organisation that could recieve funds for him? Someone living in the US can fill out this donation forms:http://www.redhawkcasino.com/community



And maybe there are other sites that sponsor charitable organisations.

rparsad 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The "problem" in America used to be that not everyone paid into the insurance programs. "Obamacare" aims to fix that problem but Congress is full of assholes who tend to use the Constitution as a political weapon to fight the so-called "tax" for universal healthcare. Tough a myopic lense, e
ausjke 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I donated $25, don't know this guy, but thanks for all he did on PHP that all my websites run on.As a separate note, php.net probably can have some donation button, that it can use to boost PHP community, including helping key contributors like Richard too.
ronnier 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've never heard of him, but I trust you all. Donated $50; I hope it helps his family.
inovica 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Just donated but I'll also push it to the 8,000 subscribers we have.
runamok 1 day ago 1 reply      
The other question is could we just build him a wooden ramp for a lot less than 20k or would the city he lives in et all have a problem with that?
cromulentarian 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish that there was a sufficient safety net in the US so that people who get catastrophic illnesses didn't have to negotiate stressful financial situations while dealing with extreme medical problems.

I am really glad this made to the front page of HN, it is great to see people helping him and his family out.

naveensky 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wishing him all the luck.

I have been coding in PHP and other open source languages for ages but never donated to such open source organisations. I feel should do more. This is my start. Did my bit of sharing :)

rok3 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Gave what I can right now. It's sad when I look at what I'm paying per year on health insurance and realize that most of us are a few stray cells away from being in the same situation as Richard.
krstck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dropping a little bit into the bucket.
vvatsa 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Done, added my drop into the bucket. Hope we all can add enough drops to make some difference.
zenocon 1 day ago 0 replies      
why can't we re-direct some of the trillions we spend on war and defense toward cancer research. seriously.
kostko 1 day ago 1 reply      
Don't really know anything about the guy, but I donated too.
dingdingdang 1 day ago 0 replies      
donated $5 - in the crowdfunding sense this thread will hopefully come together to make a difference for Richard and his family
bkamapantula 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I donated $20 and shared the story with friends. hopefully, more will donate.
glenntnorton 1 day ago 0 replies      
10 bucks. Wish it could be more.
adventured 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Donated. Best wishes to Richard. I had never heard of him, but I used PHP for years, and I suspect in some way he has contributed to my well being, so I consider this returning the favor.
kartman 1 day ago 0 replies      
:-(. i have seen a loved one go through this, my best wishes to you and family.
annasaru 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Donated a lunch (15)
2810 1 day ago 0 replies      
You are a good man. I have sent you love. Don't give up
lmueller 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lurking mostly, but I got this done. Your turn.
jayturley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad I had a little to give too...
UncleCarbs 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm so sorry $25 is all I can spare right now. With prayers from Cape Town, South Africa.
madengr 1 day ago 0 replies      
pr0filer__ 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Installing VLC Media Player voids your speaker warranty dell.com
467 points by mikecane  2 days ago   214 comments top 39
jbk 2 days ago 20 replies      
As the main developer of VLC, we know about this story since a long time, and this is just Dell putting crap components on their machine and blaming others. Any discussion was impossible with them. So let me explain a bit...

In this case, VLC just uses the Windows APIs (DirectSound), and sends signed integers of 16bits (s16) to the Windows Kernel.

VLC allows amplification of the INPUT above the sound that was decoded. This is just like replay gain, broken codecs, badly recorded files or post-amplification and can lead to saturation.

But this is exactly the same if you put your mp3 file through Audacity and increase it and play with WMP, or if you put a DirectShow filter that amplifies the volume after your codec output.For example, for a long time, VLC ac3 and mp3 codecs were too low (-6dB) compared to the reference output.

At worse, this will reduce the dynamics and saturate a lot, but this is not going to break your hardware.

VLC does not (and cannot) modify the OUTPUT volume to destroy the speakers. VLC is a Software using the OFFICIAL platforms APIs.

The issue here is that Dell sound cards output power (that can be approached by a factor of the quadratic of the amplitude) that Dell speakers cannot handle. Simply said, the sound card outputs at max 10W, and the speakers only can take 6W in, and neither their BIOS or drivers block this.

And as VLC is present on a lot of machines, it's simple to blame VLC. "Correlation does not mean causation" is something that seems too complex for cheap Dell support...

Maybe Dell should advise against playing Metal music and should only allow Cline Dion music, because Metal saturates more...

EDIT: more details...

PS: they even provide a BIOS update for the fix... So, of course, VLC was the issue... http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/04/KCS/Kcs...

beloch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a Dell M1330 laptop a few years ago and the speakers were crap even by laptop standards. This was fine with me, since I planned to use headphones. Unfortunately, the audio output was just as crappy! It had an insanely high noise-floor! I had to get a USB DAC/head-phone amp to make things acceptable. Lesson learned: Dell sucks at audio.

If the speakers in a consumer device like a laptop can be damaged by maxing the volume then the laptop was not properly designed. This isn't a case of a nutty audiophile mixing and matching unknown preamps, amps, and speakers and managing to blow some cones by cranking it to 11. Dell has complete control over the selection of components in this laptop and, if they cared to, could include circuitry to limit power beneath a point that will damage the speakers. They didn't. Alternatively, they could eschew a limiter and select speaker components beefy enough to handle the maximum voltage that their DAC's can output. They didn't. Bad design.

If Dell did the math and decided the number of users noticing permanent speaker damage would be small enough that the reduced part costs would outweigh the price of the resulting warranty service, that's their decision. However, they should be on the hook to fix damaged caused by their cheap/poor design.

mikeash 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that I can't find any mention of the fact that this behavior is simply illegal, beyond the blatant technical stupidity. The Magnuson-Moss warranty act in the US prohibits voiding a warranty simply due to the use of third-party parts, unless those parts can actually be demonstrated to be the cause of the problem. The mere presence of a part is not enough. They'd have to show that your use of VLC actually caused this failure, and since I doubt they're keeping the sort of logs that can show that, they have no case.

Companies like to talk about "voiding the warranty" for all kinds of stupid stuff, and consumers don't know their rights so they often get away with it, but what the law allows is considerably more constrained.

Jare 2 days ago 4 replies      
That kind of amplitude abuse is the equivalent of pounding very hard on the keyboard for long periods of time - it will break sooner than it would normally have, and can rightfully be considered abuse. However, voiding the warranty simply because of VLC installed is, again, the equivalent of voiding the keyboard warranty simply because you are a bodybuilder.

Ok enough metaphors.

lucb1e 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anytime I call tech support, I'm running Windows 7 or 8.1 (depending on which they support) with antivirus installed, firewall on, and the latest MSIE. Hardware does not include an ssd unless that's the item I'm calling about. I will also pretend trying to restart my system and router. Good to know I should add Windows Media Player to the list.
mansr 2 days ago 3 replies      
When the Samsung ARM Chromebook came out, people quickly found that careless tinkering with alsamixer caused the speakers to overheat and melt the case as a result of being driven with a high DC current. A driver update blocked the control causing the damaging signal routing.
sklivvz1971 2 days ago 1 reply      
In professional audio (and even amateur radio) one always puts speakers rated for 1.5x the nominal output of the amp. At least. This makes sure that whatever the input in the amp, the speakers are safe.

If Dell doesn't build audio properly, how can they blame the users? They really have some gut...

noonespecial 2 days ago 1 reply      
All products eventually approach "if you use this product for anything at all, it voids the warranty". How fast they get there is an indication of the integrety (and managerial health) of the company behind them.
guard-of-terra 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is stupid. They are making speakers that can't withstand some cases of within-the-bounds PCM signal.

If we had a normal society anywhere on earth they would be sued to the ground there.

donatj 2 days ago 2 replies      
VLC is incapable of increasing the actual power past 100%, all that is being done is the waveform is being modified to be louder within the allowed constraints. If this wrecks the speaker, any other non-VLCed sound could just as easily, and the speakers are therefore underpowered for the laptops internal amplifier. Class action sounds in order.
pera 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next logic step: playing DUBSTEP voids your speaker warranty
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems pretty bogus, sure you can damage a speaker hooked directly up to some audio source, but there so many components between the DirectSound API and the speaker that making a system that can be damaged using the OS API's seems quite lame.
hrjet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dell support and policies are utterly broken. I had a Dell Vostro which worked fine except at one time it started emitting fumes when running a CPU intensive task. I was denied warranty because I was running Linux!

Since then I have vowed never to buy Dell.

Aardwolf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't instead Dell make the speakers not be able to get physically damanged by software?
serf 2 days ago 0 replies      
future headline : "Dell revokes hard-drive warranty for installation of software. Cites excess read and write of sectors akin to abuse."
tokenadult 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is the current status of the vulnerability in VLC Media Player reported by Secunia? I see that there has been some online discussion of this in places outside Hacker News (which I searched the other day for more information about Secunia's vulnerability report).




I have tried to update VLC Media Player on one machine on my home network, and the update fails, suggesting that the VLC Media Player installation on that computer may already be compromised by malware (which has previously been detected on that machine). What is the recommendation for current VLC Media Player users to make sure that they have a recently updated, reasonably safe installation of VLC Media Player that doesn't open up their computer to other vulnerabilities?

__david__ 2 days ago 1 reply      
So basically, Dell's crappy speaker/amp design can't handle square waves at full volume. I suppose you shouldn't listen to loud chip-tunes either, then.
aceofspades19 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work for Dell tech support, and I used to install VLC on customer's machines all the time..woops. At that time there was no rule against it and we generally assumed that software couldn't damage hardware. When I worked there, Dell seemed to have one of the more lenient warranty policies of any company.
AndyKelley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm proud of the fact that soon my audio streaming library will be able to void Dell warranties too!


ctdonath 1 day ago 0 replies      
Possibly relevant anecdote...

I once acquired an audio geologic recording of the tragic Christmas Eve tsunami in Indonesia. It was an interesting listen, with a lot of bass/sub-base frequencies. Played at what seemed a reasonable listening volume, it managed to destroy my iPod headphones. Seems some sounds can be inherently damaging to less robust equipment when seemingly operated well within sensible limits.

(The replacement of said headphones cemented my appreciation of Apple: at a time Apple wasn't selling headphones alone, upon my consternation of not being able to buy a set, a clerk ripped open a random box and handed me new headphones gratis.)

g123g 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even HP has the same policy which I found to my dismay three years back.
jokoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
If DELL is right that would mean even if I craft a sound file with a very high amplitude, play it with another software, it should not damage the speakers.

I would have thought windows could limitate the amplitude of the sound sent to the hardware, maybe VLC is somehow bypassing this.

Seems like an odd issue though.

gautamsomani 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had once faced the exact same issue once in Mar 2009, so all I did was called them again after some time from a different number and using a different name and told them that No, VLC was not installed. And I got my warranty upheld and speaker replaced.
bmoresbest55 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is insane. It's like saying LibreOffice can ruin your HDD, keyboard or some other BS that they can come up with. I have a Dell XPS M1530, it is five and a half years old and I remember the speakers blowing out in 2009. I got them covered under the warranty no problem. I know I am in the minority when saying that I like Dell and their support, I have had other problems and they have had no problem fixing them. This my start to change my mind...
altero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe am I too big nerd, but who would send laptop for repairs without wiping out harddrive first?
acomjean 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why I use VLC. On the white polycarb apple macbooks the audio is really quiet. VLC made it useful by allowing me to turn the audio up louder (up to 200%). No damage to speakers here.
retrogradeorbit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Audio engineer here. All this means is the speakers in Dell laptops are crap.
razzmataz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this true of the Latitude series of laptops? Or just the XPS? I would think the Commercial grade hardware would be a bit tougher.
xerophtye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Random question, if my speakers get blown, and I uninstall VLC before taking in my laptop for repair, does that mean the warranty will cover it?

(Yes i suppose that is morally wrong, but so is blaming VLC for your own bad designs)

Glyptodon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dell owners should file a class action for use of defective speaker components.
jijji 2 days ago 0 replies      
sounds like buggy speaker hardware or firmware. How about don't use Dell laptops to play audio?
omerh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I Killed my speakers on Dell Latitude 6330 when increase the volume to 200% (i got them replaced cause its my work laptop)
pistle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who could stand to listen to audio from those crappy speakers, let alone at such a saturated loudness on said crappy speakers?
lucaspottersky 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, my speakers have blown up too... damn Dell and their cheap shit.
JetSpiegel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, people use laptop speakers?
zephjc 2 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of person uses crappy laptop speakers for media consumption?
intinno 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, happened with me as well in India
robinhoodexe 2 days ago 0 replies      
What the...?
zimbatm 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not speaking of Dell's behavior but VLC should maybe add a warning to the settings when the user goes over 100% if it damages the speakers.
The Weight of Rain style.org
436 points by ams1  3 days ago   28 comments top 11
mutagen 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the only thing youre doing is coming up with a single number, then youre doing arithmetic, not visualization....And I think that the goal of visualization is not finding elaborate ways to encode information. I try to encode as little as possible....But to me this feels like imposing a design on the data, and drawing attention to the design more than the data.

The whole thing is great, I'm glad I stuck with it past the first few images to see where he's going. These bits stuck out though and his work is so often things I wish I had thought of.

tptacek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everything else at style.org is equally amazing. Corum was, IIRC, a student of Tufte's.

Here's an especially great pair:



wmeredith 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I had more than one upvote to give to this talk. I was giddy half way through it and my jaw was hanging open by the end of it. What an inspiring look at the design process. I'm an interaction designer and this REALLY spoke to me.
mdda 2 days ago 4 replies      
One thing that surprised me was the statement about a sun that would soon engulf the nearby planet - and being so relatively large that the planet was 'more than half' in sunlight (~ the sun's disc shines 'around the corners').

But isn't that true on earth too (to a much smaller degree)? As long as the sun's radius is larger than the earth, then sunlight will fall simultaneously on more than a half of the earth's surface, no?

martindale 2 days ago 0 replies      
Every so often, you follow a link that you'd thought not worth the click. Therein you discover just how wrong one can be.
reneherse 2 days ago 2 replies      
Process and presentation at the level of... poetry.
K2h 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great presentation on how to effectively communicate data and it is not just putting raw data on a slide. it takes time and major creativity to communicate. Read the presentation for another reason, a good example of a catchy, relevant intro tied to a closing.... something that makes us all better communicators.
rwhitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't have a comment smart enough for HN to express how cool I think this is. I want to print it out and thumbtack it to my wall like I'm 14
ToastyMallows 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really like the layout of this talk. I hate when people just link to the powerpoint of a talk and expect everyone to follow along like they were there, with no narration.
nitrogen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although the graphics are excellent, the site's hijacking of the left and right arrow keys is not appreciated.
Gracana 2 days ago 2 replies      
Fantastically interesting.
The Egg galactanet.com
427 points by mickgiles  3 days ago   144 comments top 39
chroma 3 days ago 9 replies      
I guess I'm in the minority that doesn't find this story uplifting. The memory reset is the biggest problem, since it doesn't allow the main character to learn from his mistakes. At the end of time, the main character will have his memories and personalities merged. Then he'll look back on countless lifetimes of the same mistakes and regrets. It would be like if someone slipped you some Ambien (to prevent memory formation), played the same prank on you 20 times, then showed you a video of it after you sobered up. "Ha-ha, you fell for it every time! Classic!" Except instead of 20 times it would be billions (possibly trillions) of lifetimes. And instead of one prank, it would be countless heartbreaks, regrets, failures, and insecurities.

And that's only looking at the character's own "choices." (Is it really a choice if you can't stop yourself from becoming John Wilkes Booth?) The cruelty inflicted by nature would be much greater. Disease, famine, famine, disease, famine, typhoon, famine, rattlesnake bite, famine, tsunami, etc.

Now I wonder if a sugar-coated Lovecraftian horror story was the author's intent. No other kind of god would set up a system where you're forced to repeat the same mistakes for billions of years.

rosser 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've read this several times before, and this bit always gets me, as they say, "right in the feels":

Dont worry, I said. Theyll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didnt have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If its any consolation, shell feel very guilty for feeling relieved.

It's just so human. It's almost confrontational in its degree of, "That's just how shit is sometimes," but it's delivered with utter compassion. That juxtaposition captures so much of how I feel about the human condition.

crntaylor 3 days ago 10 replies      
This would have been a significantly more enjoyable experience if the title of the submission didn't give away the ending.
dhughes 3 days ago 3 replies      
Another good short story similar to this is Asimov's "The Last Question." http://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm
gkoberger 3 days ago 2 replies      
Completely off topic, however I read this originally right around when Lost went off the air.

I always wished this is how Lost ended: with Jack being told by Jacob that he was actually everyone on the plane (which is why they all had a weird connection), and all these lives were him waiting to be "born" into running the island.

samatman 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is within an iota of the precise cosmology of my religion of birth:


Except that, coming from that background, I expected the big reveal to be that the Egg is talking to himself, hatched.

As unprovable speculations about the nature of reality go, I rather like this one.

julianpye 3 days ago 1 reply      
On HN, we want to hack the way our systems work. We want to see through the obscurity and complexities advanced systems have brought along and find the most elegant and quickest way to challenge and control them. Why can we not look at hacking religion? Why can we not hack philosophy?I like this story, but more than that I like the fact that it has reached page 1 on HN. I think many people here are not looking for self-realisation in the form of a startup that brings them big bucks, but hey - self-realisation.
whyme 3 days ago 3 replies      
That model seems ineffective. While it operates in parallel, spawns a plethora of threads and does, I imagine, aim to end in eventual consistency, it also seems to lack any form of shared state. If I was me I would make sure I overlap myself on each new instance and not deal with that restart time. I'd also suggest picking a different tool rather than the current one... I think I might be using LISP (Lost In Self Protocol).
Xcelerate 3 days ago 2 replies      
This would be horrifying if it was true. Think of how many billions of painful, terrible lives you would have to experience.

Edit: I suppose it's just as horrible regardless of whether or not you experience them...

leobelle 2 days ago 2 replies      
What about pre-human hominids? Was he also all the Homo Ergasters? Homo Habilis? Australopithecus Afarensis? The great apes? All the mammals? All multi-celled life?

I don't get what's interesting about this story. It's pretty silly and not very enlightening.

codeulike 2 days ago 0 replies      
The central idea - ROT13 ... gung rirel uhzna guebhtu gvzr vf gur fnzr fbhy orvat er-vapneangrq ... /ROT13 is also explored in parts of Transcendent, by Stephen Baxter, in which immortal far future beings ROT13 zhfg cercner sbe gurve vzzbegnyvgl ol rkcrevrapvat rirel yvsrgvzr bs rirel uhzna gung unf rire yvirq orsber gurz. /ROT13. It is also mentioned in The Thought Gang by Tibor Fisher as a possible metaphysics.
ctoth 2 days ago 0 replies      
While we're talking about dark cosmologies, Divided by Infinity [0] is fantastic. I'll post it here as when I try to submit it as its own post it is automatically marked dead.

[0] http://www.tor.com/stories/2010/08/divided-by-infinity

otikik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well I'm glad I wrote it.
yc-kjh 2 days ago 4 replies      
Incompatible with Free Will

The story is incompatible with free will. The only way the universe could be the way it is, with the one person living all those lives, yet always choosing such that the other people (him in another re-incarnation) also always choose as they (he) did, it would be necessary for free will not to exist.

But this would also mean that the "god" in this story also didn't have free will, because the man was "of his (god's) kind".

But if God does not have free will, he isn't the greatest possible being. The universe thus described therefore fails Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God. The hypothetical God who is identical to the God in this story, with the exception that He DOES have free will, is obviously a greater being.

I conclude that this story cannot possibly describe Reality, as It actually Is.

NhanH 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd strongly suggest "Sum: 40 tales from the after lives" for anyone enjoy this story. It's a lovely collection of short stories with very similar writing style and theme.
thatthatis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Of all the religious, non religious, philosophical, etc. texts I've ever read. This is the one I most hope is true.
LukeShu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hadn't read this, but I recognized the author's name as the author of one of my favorite (no longer running) webcomics[0]. I guess that means I would probably enjoy his other writings[1].

[0]: http://www.galactanet.com/comic/view.php?strip=1[1]: http://www.galactanet.com/writing.html

... hmm, now I'm a little disapointed in myself that I didn't recognize the domain name too.

WCityMike 3 days ago 2 replies      
The author of this wrote THE MARTIAN. I recommend it:


smky80 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seemed cute the first time I read it, and it explains the "why I am me?" question that most religions just don't.

But I realized, this is would be an absolute disaster if true. True story: life more or less sucks if you aren't near a local maximum of a food chain.

squirejons 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think I will stick with cryonics. Thanks, anyway...
voidlogic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Same premise as Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mysterious_Stranger
spindritf 3 days ago 5 replies      
How can you bootstrap such a world with only one soul? (I know, not the right question.)
shire 2 days ago 2 replies      
First time reading this story would be nice if someone can explain the takeaway from this? It's a very deep story but trying to rationalize the meaning or concept behind the idea of this story. Thanks:)
sharemywin 3 days ago 0 replies      
brings new meaning to "go f* yourself"
VonGuard 2 days ago 0 replies      
I first read this on 4chan. I'm so glad to learn it wasn't created there... A truly life changing story.
stuaxo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, interesting - I've been thinking that if time isn't linear + there is reincarnation then only needing one soul is an obvious side effect, and then this story goes on to answer the next question that comes up.

Of course, it's just a thought experiment - though it is interesting.

pirateking 3 days ago 0 replies      
The theme and mood remind me somewhat of Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke - one of my favorite books.
swatkat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! That was a good read. Advaita philosophy, and Karma Siddantha in a nutshell.
terranstyler 2 days ago 0 replies      
This would mean that life is an episode in a Monte-Carlo simulation traversing the state space of all possible human lifes.

The story also suggests that the simulation is heavily parallel and complete knowledge of all episodes (rather all paths) makes you god.

bennemann 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob goo goo g'joob.Lennon
afriend4lyfe 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Gentle Seduction is a similar short story in regards to singularity that The Egg reminded me ofhttp://www.skyhunter.com/marcs/GentleSeduction.html
RexRollman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the story. Thanks for posting this mickgiles.
sillysaurus2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder when this was written?
joe_inferno 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a little reminiscent of Mormonism (minus the 'only you and me' bit)
auggierose 3 days ago 1 reply      
That makes actually a lot of sense.
z3phyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was G-Man
thenerdfiles 2 days ago 0 replies      

    The rate of information increases.
This is true of humans, gods, and all things. Some initial configuration is irrelevant to this fact of existence that information describes it, so too, is part of the configuration that you play into.

Many gods, one god, whatever it is part of a being to know what is relevant at any point in time. If there are gods, your death is something that becomes information to them.

The implication here is that even in their case, their ends become information to something else.

The first to be surprised to introduce new information doesn't "win" or "sin". What's to be felt about the falsity that

        The rate of information increases.?

phhh 3 days ago 6 replies      
Old. Seriously who hasn't read this by now.
Curse Of The Gifted (2000) vanadac.com
424 points by luu  7 hours ago   222 comments top 39
austenallred 6 hours ago 17 replies      
I am miles away from Eric or Linus, but the "curse of the gifted" is very real.

Thankfully I wasn't smart or gifted enough that I could ride it for long, but when it comes to math and problem-solving I rode it well into my high school years. I never learned to do algebra "by the book," because I didn't need to. Or maybe because I wasn't smart enough to.

The math teacher would teach "3x + 6 = 9." Basic algebraic problem-solving says you subtract the 6 from both sides, then divide by 3. So "3x = 3" then "x = 1." Easy. But I learned pretty early on that I could do it in my head. It was a little bit challenging, but then I wouldn't have to waste the time of writing it out, and I wasn't handicapped like all of those suckers who had to go through the motions no matter how simple the problem was. If the teacher wrote "x + 1 = 6" I didn't have to subtract 1 from each side, I just thought about it logically and knew the answer. Of course, the math got more complex, but I was good enough at doing it in my head that, at least for a long time, it never really mattered.

I thought it was because I just "got" math, and the other kids were on a lower level. But as the math grew in complexity, I fell behind. By the time we reached Calculus I was still doing most of it in my head, as I had never really learned to write it out on paper. And the complexity of the math outgrew my capacity to visualize. I showed up to my AP calculus test without a calculator, partially because I was forgetful and partly for fun, and it wasn't until I got my score back (a failing 2 of 5) that it finally hit me: I was actually behind. In school. I was cocky enough that this was a slap in the face.

I had to start from scratch, and I'm still not sure if I've made up for a lot of that. I ended up in more creative fields, mostly because I felt inferior to those who had learned the rules and not been cocky douchebags like I had been in the beginning.

This really sucks to write. I frequently wonder what could have been.

bane 4 hours ago 6 replies      
edit a little stream of consciousness follows

Curse of being gifted is very real. I wonder sometimes how many people couldn't break out of it and have ended up in bad jobs, or worse.

Probably like many HNers I also suffered from it mightily in K-12 and by the time I realized what was going on, I was already so far behind that escaping school, rather than redoing years of what I missed, was the easier option.

It took me a few years of milling around before I finally got my head together the right way and turned my life around into something productive.

One thing that still comes up to this day for me is a profound sense of isolation and loneliness. It's hard to relate to people because the kinds of problems most people have seem trivially simple to me and are not the kinds of problems I have and the kinds of things people want to talk about are not of interest to me. I try to stay intellectually engaged by turning the issue into one of how to communicate with people who aren't as quick as I? Adult education, how people learn, are a small hobby of mine. I even did a short stint as a teacher.

I'm consumed with relationships with mapping out the other person's cognitive limitations and patterns and trying to work within and around those. This is not a good habit, but I find I end up doing it with most everybody. The people I tend to keep around me are those that I haven't been able to conclusively do this with. I guess they keep me interested? I'm rarely surprised by people.

I remember I mentioned this to an associate one time. He asked me if I had done this with him. I answered yes. He challenged me to prove it. I went down a list of his cognitive biases, how they fed into his decision making process, and how this created a pattern of where I could even start inventorying what I thought he had in his apartment (I'd never been to his apartment). I missed the color of his couch, but guessed correctly where he bought his furniture, what kind of car he drove and was likely to buy and why, what TV shows he watched, what music he listened to (and had listened to in the past), the clothes he did and didn't have in his closet, what kind of food he liked and where he liked to shop, I picked his neighborhood, choice of home computer, where he wanted to retire and even a handful of books he probably had in his home library. I think it hurt him, or his sense of individuality, to be deconstructed like that. It was the last time I ever did this to another person. On the flip side, he tries to mix his life up, make random vectors in his life now and not be so predictable. But I know also that he does it because of what I did. It's just another behavior to slot into his patterns.

Relating to people impacts me in many ways, from coming up with product ideas to finding a mentor, to the closeness of friends. It's tough, I have very few close friends but I hold onto them fiercely. With most people I interact with I feel like we're simply in a status of mutual understanding and shared purpose, but not friendship. Maybe out for some laughs and a good time, but that's it.

I got very lucky and found a wife who's smarter than me, and she keeps me on my toes and from drawing the world down into my brain and further isolating myself with walls of internally consistent, but bad ideas. I've never figured out how to predict her thinking process beyond some high level abstract patterns. I think she does it on purpose, to keep me appreciative of her.

Not having a mentor has probably been the hardest. I feel like I have nobody helping me find my path most of the time and have to literally carve a path in the universe for myself. My parents were simply not equipped to deal with a kid like me at all and made many mistakes over the years. From moving to the country (thinking the quiet would help me grow, when it just isolated me more) to schooling choices, etc. School didn't know how to handle me and in business I've found woefully few people I look up to.

I yearn for a simpler life, but realize I couldn't live that life for long, I would quickly lose interest. I start to crave novelty and surprise. New things are interesting to me. But I've also found that once I start to understand the pattern of newness in something, an entire field will start to bore me.

Actually most of the life skills I have I learned from my school's music program. How to break a problem down, how to communicate with people of various levels, how to tutor and teach, how to lead a group and present, setting and keeping schedules etc. Most of my adult years have been spent trying to adapt these skills from orchestra into the rest of my life, while most people would have learned them in more context appropriate ways.

But I guess I turned out okay. I do not look back on most of my childhood with much fondness, I do look back on it with a great deal of sadness and regret and wish I could redo it all. I found out a few years ago that my mother had saved all of my report cards growing up, lovingly stored in a scrapbook. When I found out she had done this, in a fit of anger, resentment and deep embarrassment I tore them up and threw them away.

There's no solution, it just is this way. I live a very fulfilling life that I enjoy and I try to minimize regrets and find joy. I think I'm on a path towards simplifying my life, but I have a notion that I'll find a more minimal life dreadful and boring after a few months.

I do seek out others who I sense have a similar story, but I find that none of us ever really build close bonds with each other. We exist more in a group of mutual acknowledgment than in friendship. I'm drawn towards groups that promise an intelligent gathering, but I'm frequently disappointed by what I find once I get there.

My mother once asked me why so many smart kids end up in drugs and drink, I responded that, at least for me, it slows the thinking down and clarifies the thoughts. It's like having an engine in your car that's always at full rev, and then finally taking your foot off the accelerator for a bit. It also lets the emotions flow a bit easier, the ones that we have to keep bottled up during the day, the slow accumulation of small frustrations from dealing with people who I can't relate to. It's like a sore I can pop and let the puss flow out for a bit.

It's hard staying positive, not falling into hopelessness and depression. I've had very close scares a couple times where I thought about disengaging from everything and ending it. Feeling like you're in the wrong world all the time is maddening. I found a way to continue on, and it works for me. But that endless well of despair still sits there, but it's like I'm walking around the edge of it, like walking around the edge of a swimming pool, trying to make sure I don't fall or jump in.

nswanberg 5 hours ago 3 replies      
For those curious about the context: https://lkml.org/lkml/2000/8/23/97

Note that noone replied to Eric and the thread continued on. Also go back and read some of Linus's posts before this. Eric writes using vague generalizations about age and experience; Linus writes with specifics about his experience with the kernel. The former style makes for popularly read posts but the latter seems much more effective.

Also, compare this message from Linus earlier in that thread https://lkml.org/lkml/2000/8/22/52 with a post of his from yesterday: https://lkml.org/lkml/2014/2/10/575, especially regarding abstraction.

paul 6 hours ago 3 replies      
If Linus always did things the "right" way he wouldn't have invented git (or Linux). Sometimes, it's important to be obstinate.
OldSchool 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this curse's endgame: getting a typical corporate job.

Everything about it is against your nature: fixed schedule, dictated product and process, micro management and arbitrary accountability compared to the creative freedom of your life when delivering academic performance on a timescale of weeks or months was your only responsibility. Worse still, it's not an "X year work program," it's designed to be endless.

Not that an entrepreneurial career is for everyone, but if you can be dumb enough to try and smart enough to make it work at a sustainable scale, it sure beats a guaranteed slow corporate death.

redthrowaway 6 hours ago 3 replies      

Not that it isn't relevant, but it is 14 years old and the title should probably reflect that.

callmevlad 6 hours ago 3 replies      
It's weird to see Linus on the other side of being disciplined, and a pretty stark contrast to his own slightly more abrasive style.

For example: https://lkml.org/lkml/2012/12/23/75

alecco 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think, in context, Linus was probably right. There are some situations where having 2 very different project/modules depend on common code could be hell. Just remember the multiple WebKit debacles or the BSDs. It might be better to keep an eye on each other, pick the specific updates, but have total independency. Else, you end up in commit wars and endless arguing on mailing lists.

ESR is way overrated, IMHO.

jtchang 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone explain what "splitting a driver" in kernel parlance and code sharing is? Modularization is just breaking large pieces of the program up into small pieces right? Is code sharing just the same thing or are they talking about something different?
kevingadd 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Nothing's quite as destructive as being told over and over that you're a natural at something so it'll be easy for you. It's a shame that well-meaning parents and mentors will sometimes undermine someone's potential by discouraging them from learning necessary skills.
sp332 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Soon after this exchange, Linus started using a real source management system (BitKeeper, followed by git) for the kernel.
TacticalCoder 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Another is your refusal to use systematic version-control orrelease-engineering practices."

And then Linus went on to use Git. I'm not a native english speaker so I may be wrong on this one but I feel like there's quite some irony there: Linus got criticized for not properly using version control and... A few years later he went on to write the most succesful version control system ever!

The same person created both Git and Linux ffs! ESR was probably right: Linus is the 2nd coming of Ken ^ ^

twoodfin 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's the full thread by way of Google Groups:


mathattack 6 hours ago 2 replies      
There are now lots of articles suggesting praising people for effort rather than intelligence. Seems like Raymond was ahead of the curve.

2 examples of many:

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9862693/P...

[2] http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/chi...

adriancooney 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This is so inadvertently affectionate. It's like a grandparent trying to calm down their overconfident, arrogant child. So eloquent.

As a side note, I can't even imagine how Torvalds worked with others without source control. That sounds like absolute hell.

ArkyBeagle 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is really how to fix this:


I was an undergrad with Cary, and he got A's, I got B's with the odd C and this is exactly why. Until I took the Discrete Math course ( w/ the Eggers book - which is fantastic ) , I was floundering. I knew what the rules were, roughly, but I didn't KNOW know them.

I'm not name-dropping Cary. It's just a coincidence, but I googled him and found the essay. I bring up the "we were undergrads" thing because it's a nearly perfect natural experiment.

Use one of the Algebra sections in junior high or high school to teach rigor. There are no moves in a solution unless you name the principle by which the move was made.

I know it seems impossible to implement, but there can't be a better time than 8th or 9th grade to do this. You get exposure to rigor for the kids that aren't pointed at STEM, the kids that are will actually be prepared - win-win. If we have to hire ringers as math teachers - people outside the education industrial complex - so be it. Whatever it takes.

chacham15 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Interestingly enough:

"He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great. Failure is the test of greatness."

-Herman Melville

wellpast 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is what Alan Kay means when he says, "IQ is a lead weight." [1]

Also see Rich Hicky's talk "Simple Made Easy." [2] In which he suggests that nobody's that smart; you will always hit a brick wall without the tools to manage complexity. "A juggler can juggle 3 balls. A really good juggler can juggle 9. But no juggler can juggle 90 or 900 (paraphrased)."

[1] http://www.tele-task.de/archive/video/flash/14029/[2] http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Simple-Made-Easy

mattgreenrocks 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This should be required reading for any developer, if only to hopefully instill the belief that you will eventually reach a problem that you cannot lean on pure ability alone to solve.
nether 6 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm not gifted, I'm actually pretty dumb. Can anyone help a stupid normal person relate to this article?
incision 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So true.

The benefit of recognizing this isn't just avoiding that crunch at the limits of your talents - it's learning to the use the tools, processes and people which will allow your talents to flow most efficiently every day.

The classic example of this for me has been engineers who resist documentation, project management and delegation as if each is wasting away their valuable productive time when it's exactly the opposite.

PythonicAlpha 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Eric is plainly right.

I once heard of a developer that wanted to make programming more interesting to himself, by using just three names for all his variables. They where banana, apple and another fruit. He used only those names. I am not sure what he did, when he needed more than three, but that was what he did.

It might have made the thing more interesting for him, but made the things far more difficult for us others of the "pack".

Software development is about complexity. To manage complexity is the highest form of software development and the real challenge. Not the clever ideas, the talented implementation -- manage complexity can make your project, even your company succeed or fall.

ChristianMarks 4 hours ago 0 replies      
At least no one can accuse ESR of coasting on his native gift of bloviation. The man perfected his blowhard style more than 10,000 hours before that "it takes one to know one" email. (Which is why it's irritating when he's right.)
morganherlocker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> Another is your refusal to use systematic version-control

Pretty hilarious reading this now, considering his contributions to version control in the past several years. I am not too familiar with all of the backstory, but Linus' creation of git seems like one of the most extreme cases of "Not Invented Here Syndrome" since... well Linux itself (half-joking).

I certainly won't complain when someone gets so frustrated with the current tool-o-the-week that they go out an build something superior.

loladesoto 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
it is a real problem and two things make it worse:1) ego 2) lack of mentorship.

ego urges you to walk into situations wearing nothing but arrogance. (and why wouldn't you? you've been praised since you were a kid for your precocity. by adults!). and while you may have earned some of that praise, it's like your granny chanting your invincibility into your ear. it's a delusion that prevents you from asking questions (acquiring wisdom) and exploring your outer limits (acquiring experience).

with mentoring, that arrogance could be channelled into something else: humility. because it's really impossible to be alert to truth--academic or otherwise--when you think you know all of the things.

it's just that the educational system doesn't really know what to do with academically-gifted kids who have a bit of rebellion/arrogance in them. and there aren't enough teachers or mentors who recognize this variant even among the gifted.

so they're released into the wild, not having acquired the one thing they needed possibly more than an education: humility.

kingkong 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
Linus's issue on "shared code means less bugs" https://lkml.org/lkml/2000/8/22/12
mathattack 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I wish I saw the response.

That said, the "curse of the gifted" manifests itself in a lot of ways. One problem is also that "less gifted" see the "gifted" and say, "If they don't have to be disciplined, why do I?"

lutorm 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Obligatory reference to Carol Dweck's research:


everyone 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Working on an OS is an enormous job where teamwork, good communication, planning and so on are paramount.I am the only game coder for a small adver-game company. The projects are small and I have total control, so I will never hit that wall and have to do all that boring stuff :) (One of the reasons I chose such a job)
joehillen 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Linus' signature is shockingly relevant these days:

"...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The FirstAmendment doesn't say you have a right to speak out unless thegovernment has a 'compelling interest' in censoring the Internet. TheSecond Amendment doesn't say you have the right to keep and bear armsuntil some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn't say youhave the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBIagent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has noright to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances."-- Harry Browne, 1996 USA presidential candidate, Libertarian Party

code_duck 3 hours ago 0 replies      
That describes me pretty well. I thought I was going to get by in every field because of my raw talent. It turns out that you actually have to be organized and achieve things, however.
GFK_of_xmaspast 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Warning to the unexpecting, this was written by Eric S. Raymond.
fretfulfood 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Why is everyone here so self-bashing about how you should've seen this earlier?

The solution is to make the gifted people working on something that _is_ challenging to them. You can't expect gifted people to work on annoyingly simple problems in school, yet still develop discipline. If you want them to develop discipline, give them hard problems, that will require discipline of them.

I see this as a failure of the education system, not the gifted people.

Or, put another way, you can't blame Linus for not having discipline if he never needed it. It's the educational system's fault for not showing him he will need it.

beat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Whoa, flashback. I think I read that on Slashdot back in the day.
Orangeair 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, how I wish someone had told me this when I was fourteen. As a matter of fact, someone probably did, and I just ignored it. Public school isn't exactly challenging, and it's hard to believe that a problem could possibly be beyond your ability to intuitively grasp it when you never see actual evidence of that fact.
S4M 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the reply of Torvalds online somewhere?
scotty79 4 hours ago 0 replies      
14 years later Linus seems to be doing pretty ok. The git and all considered.
ajarmst 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Shit. An ESR ego dump. Head for the shelters.
auggierose 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice nugget.
Google turns on "Download Gmail Archive" feature google.com
409 points by thejerz  3 days ago   153 comments top 30
rzendacott 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm very impressed with the number of products and services supported so far. It has everything from bookmarks to location history. It even lets you choose the format for some products, and Drive in particular has some nice options. I'm glad to see Google opening this tool up.
jgalt212 2 days ago 0 replies      
For large archives, 10GB in our case, we had issues exporting to gzip or bzip2--it would crash before the archive was completed. Sort of annoying in that it took almost 24 hours from the start of the archive creation to the crash event. The help desk could not resolve the issue for us. Originally, we chose gzip/bzip2 formats instead of getting a series of files with zip (i.e. zip max file size is 4GB)

At end of the day, we had success choosing the zip archive format. We did not receive a series of zip files, but just one large uncompressed text file in mbox format.

Our last big data dump was down back in late December 2013, so I am not sure if these issues persist regarding bzip/gzip2 and 10GB size archives.

magicalist 2 days ago 1 reply      
grandpoobah 2 days ago 5 replies      
I ran it and it gave me a zip containing an html file called errors.html with a bunch of errors and no actual emails.
antifuchs 3 days ago 6 replies      
Easy prediction: they'll disable imap access within a year.
personlurking 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I wanted to download my mbox file from Gmail and reupload it at a later date to Gmail (possibly another of my accounts), I could do that without a problem, right? Or will they just be a jumble of emails, out of order or something? I suppose at the least, they won't retain their labels.
blackjack48 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I'm already using gmvault, is there any advantage to downloading it directly?
vicaya 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody here tried this at all?

I tried to get a takeout with my emails several times, all I got is on 2.3MB errors.html, telling "service cannot retrieve this item" over and over again.

chmars 2 days ago 0 replies      
The new option is great but I am still very happy with a (payware) app called CloudPull. It can automatically backup all your Google Apps data and is not limited to Gmail but also covers Drive.


CloudPull is OS X only. I'm sure there're are other great options to create Gmail backups independent from Google

kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope it will one day include my YouTube (favourites) - as I still get an empty result for archiving my YouTube profile. It requires Google+ to access that now, from what I've tried to research on it.
emilyst 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad they've rolled this out widely, but unfortunately, when I attempted to use it, it simply sent me a 5MB error log and not a single bit of archived data.
PhasmaFelis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this new? I'm pretty sure it's been around in some form for a couple of years at least.
jebblue 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've had 4 "Failed - Network error" messages in a row.
jason_slack 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting "Service failed to retrieve this item."

For every item I tried to export.

nikbackm 1 day ago 0 replies      
What can you do with the downloaded mail archive?

Would it be possible to load/import it into Thunderbird and get to view all the same folders as in Gmail now for example?

brohoolio 3 days ago 4 replies      
Am I missing something new? Hasn't this been in place for couple months?
coldtea 2 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps preparing to turn off 'IMAP access' feature?
biafra 2 days ago 0 replies      
It might be a coincident. But since I started creating an archive I do not get any more email to that account. And it already takes some hours.
tanglesome 2 days ago 0 replies      
amiramir 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'll just ask the NSA for mine ;-)
anilshanbhag 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just requested an archive and I will be surprised if I get it any time soon. Gmail - 5GB, Drive - 3 GB, G+ Photos - 1.5 GB - this is going to be one huge zip file !!
blueskin_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised google are making it easier to escape.
bumpy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is Google's half hearted/half assed attempt at allaying the fears of those concerned about 'what Google might do next'. As a lot of you who have tried to export out have seen, this does not work satisfactorily or does not work at all! (See other's experiences in this thread).

I myself tried to export gmail contacts out and found it does not work as expected and does not work at all for groups. Nor does it export full data in vc, like contact photos. Why not? It's supported in the file format so why not add it?

Seems like they're making the fixing of export-out bugs a low priority. So low that its not even working at all for some. To me all this seems like deliberate negligence.

equivocates 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there anyway to download using wget or curl? Google chrome isn't cutting mustard. After about 4 gigs, it gives me a fat error.
treelovinhippie 2 days ago 0 replies      
1.4MB file. I don't think it worked lol
qwerta 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should create backup every month...
intull 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wasn't this there before?
LeicaLatte 2 days ago 0 replies      
They took their time but this does look like the right way to do it.
shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Useful but you could do it with IMAP already.
notastartup 2 days ago 1 reply      
anyone else getting just a zip of error.html which contains whole bunch of "Service failed to retrieve this item." for all emails?
Bill Gates: AMA on Reddit reddit.com
390 points by justplay  1 day ago   107 comments top 23
Arjuna 1 day ago 4 replies      
For those that aren't aware, check out the "/r/tabled" subreddit [1].

From the official description: "a subreddit for tables of recent threads from places such as... /r/IAmA, /r/InternetAMA, /r/AMA, /r/AskReddit, /r/AskScience"

It makes things nice to read.

Of course, Bill Gates' new AMA will not be "tabled" yet, but as an example (and in case you missed it), here is his AMA from February 2013 [2].

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled

[2] http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled/comments/18d2n6

kevinalexbrown 1 day ago 3 replies      
You can tell it's him by the succinct and direct responses. It's a trait that's consistent across the most successful people I know.
throwaway_yy2Di 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is this his library in the background?


edit: Apparently so, and here's his reading recommendations from 2013 (w/ same library in background):


and more:

http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Books <- lots of reviews here

iambateman 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like Bill Gates.He seems like a kind, genuine guy who cares about people and doesn't mind making fun of himself.

Big contrast from Bezos, Jobs, Ballmer.

frik 1 day ago 2 replies      
He added an link to a Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZnmpDrjtDc

Interesting art style and that his assistants choose an old-school method to animate the movie. That gives the "information at your fingertip" a new meaning ;)

TeMPOraL 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynQ5ZhxYAss <-- in this video (linked by Gates in AMA), there's a moment in which there's a book shown, with "Dell #1 in laptops" written on the back cover. Had a good laugh, given the whole Dell speakers thing from yesterday.
kosei 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not gonna lie - seeing an interaction between David Hewlett and Bill Gates on a reddit AMA pretty much made my day.
blisterpeanuts 1 day ago 4 replies      
What a strange format. I'm not a regular Reddit visitor so maybe I just don't "get it" but it seems like the top level questions for Gates are pretty intelligent, all questions I'd like to ask him (well, almost all--I don't get the condom one), and the responses to those questions are mostly snide, petty, and stupid.
interstitial 1 day ago 1 reply      
They are always AMAIWAAIC anyway. (Ask me anything, I will answer as I choose). If there were pre-voted by community questions, and rules requiring answers by the AMAer, now that would be interesting.
kyle_t 1 day ago 6 replies      
I am curious what Bill Gates (or anyone who doesn't necessarily have an immediate profit making venture to promote i.e an actor) hopes to achieve with an AMA?

I can't imagine they are very much fun after the first dozen questions. Promoting philanthropy to a wider audience? Bringing the spotlight on a specific cause?

Its awesome that someone as busy and important as Bill Gates is willing to take the time to do this whatever his reasons, I'm just wondering the reason why?

m_ke 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did he really just say that deep learning started at Microsoft?
um304 1 day ago 2 replies      
anonymouslives: "What is your best personal financial advice for people who make under $100,000 per year?",thisisbillgates: "Invest in your education.". Trying to digest this bit when dropping-off to do startups is in fashion.
Splendor 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to see him doing another AMA. His AMA last year was one of the better ones I've read.
CmonDev 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are always thousands of questions by the time you get there. Do his assistants check everyone of them and summarize?
donniezazen 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The part that resonated with how I feel everyone should live this tiny universe.

    Just creating an innovative company is a huge contribution to the world.
World would be a much better place if we just go about minding our own business making our own lives easier and not interfering in other people's business.

mrmondo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Timely, given all the bad Microsoft press yesterday stemming from Paul Thurrott's public disapproval of Windows.
ntnj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Within an hour, he reached all time top 5 IAmA. His previous one is at no. 2, after Obama.
anonu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Im not sure why Bill Gates decided to do this a 2nd time. Just reading people's inane, nonsensical, idiotic comments makes me think there's got to be a better forum to host something like that...
Aoyagi 1 day ago 4 replies      
Not having a Reddit account, this makes me want to create one and ask Gates if he's going to protect us from the power of the cloud. By "us" I mean "people who don't really trust the cloud".
pmelendez 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another one? Wow.. he must like reddit a lot.
kimonos 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would like to ask him: What can you do to help the poor especially those that are in the 3rd world countries?
userbinator 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if someone has asked him about the infamous 640K quote?
theinterjection 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, he did one less than a year ago. What an attention whore!
Show HN: JS library to make your website instant
386 points by dieulot  3 days ago   174 comments top 44
VeejayRampay 3 days ago 6 replies      
Another idea: take into account the movement of the mouse to define a directional cone in the general direction of the movement, which would enable you to preload your pages even before the hover state occurs.
wesley 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish there was an instantclick link to this website..

OK, here it is: http://instantclick.io

CoryG89 3 days ago 1 reply      
After looking at the source, one thought I have is that since you are dealing with such small timescales you should use the high resolution window.performance.now function (or the Date.now function for higher compatibility) as a timer instead of using the Date object as you do.
callesgg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Realy Cool,Only real problem with this is if the clicking has side effects like: http://example.com/?action=logoutas brought up on page.

And probably a ton of other application bugs as style and script stuff wont load. like they normally would

adwf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Really awesome. I was working on something like this myself, but using Jquery ajax combined with history.pushState for partial page loads. This is much better!

There are a couple things that I had on my TODO list that could be handy though:

1) Caching - if you hover back and forth over two links, it will keep loading them every time. Dunno whether this can be alleviated or not.

2) Greater customisability. It'd be great if I could customise whether it was a hover or mousedown preload, on a per link basis. Some links benefit from hover, others it might be overkill.

3) Lastly, it would be cool if it could link up with custom actions other than just links. For example, jquery ajax loading a fragment of html to update a page. This is probably lower down on my priority list though, as the full page prefetch works remarkably fast.

Keep up the great work!

dmazin 3 days ago 1 reply      
By the way, if you don't want to listen to mouseover, merely listening to mousedown takes 50-70ms off loads [1]. Not ignorable.

[1] https://github.com/rails/turbolinks/pull/253#issuecomment-21...

primitivesuave 3 days ago 1 reply      
One way I see to move this forward in websites at scale is to run a test where you find out the percentage of hovers that result in a click. Suppose its 90% - that means that 10% of those hovers result in fruitless busy-work for your server. Multiply bandwidth + server cost by 10%, and compare that amount to the amount you'd be willing to pay for near-instant load times.

For many companies (Facebook, Twitter, etc) the desire for instant user gratification is paramount, so the push toward instant browsing experience is a very real possibility. One problem is that most people wouldn't really notice, because these websites load pretty quickly as it is.

One interesting direction is if there was some kind of AI in the background that knows what pages you're likely to visit and preloads them - Facebook stalking victims would become an instantclick away.

snitko 3 days ago 3 replies      
While interesting, I think this kind of functionality should be implemented only by browser developers and should be turned off by default. Really, I can wait 1 second until the site loads. What I don't want is some library accessing sites without my permission. I usually place mouse over links to see what URL it points to and I sometimes do not wish to click.
w1ntermute 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't Chrome already do something like this?
maxucho 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome work! I just installed this in my own new experimental (read: very low traffic) web app: http://www.penngems.com/

I set the preload to occur on mousedown rather than mousover, as per the docs, but even with this I noticed near-instantaneous page loading.

lmartel 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool!

One interesting reaction I had: things loaded so fast that I didn't notice one of the page changes and thought it was stuck. For sites like this one where different pages look very similar, maybe it could be worth experimenting with some sort of brief flashing animation (to make it look like a real page load)?

d0ugie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Note that the author, Alexandre Dieulot, opted generously to release this under the MIT license (thanks buddy).


romanovcode 1 day ago 0 replies      
So this is like a fork of TurboLinks? I've made this thing myself for website I use in couple of minutes. I would probably not rely my whole website on this plugin.
pokstad 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have an even better hack. Since most blog posts / articles are nothing more than a bunch of text, I simply download all articles in a single fetch when the initial page loads. I do this using a CouchDB view that returns all blog posts in chronological order. All successive link clicks don't hit my server (unless there's an image in the article that needs to be loaded). Check it out: http://pokstad.com
p4bl0 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure it's working for me, I don't see any special network activities in Firebug while using the website.

Also, you should take into account the focus event of links, I tried and it seems you doesn't when trying on the "click test" page to tab tab tab on the test link and then hitting enter.

westiseast 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! I used pjax for a Chinese-English dictionary project, and it was nice, very very fast.

As you mention with JS scripts not working, I had to do things like rebind functions when pjax finished, or load new JS snippets along with each HTML (page) snippet. Not too huge a compromise.

soundoflight 3 days ago 1 reply      
Prefetching really shouldn't be blindly applied to everything as users may have bandwidth limited. Even though your implementation is better than browser prefetch on users it does take the choice away from the user unless individual sites make it easy for users to opt out.
AshleysBrain 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this what link rel="prerender" does? https://developers.google.com/chrome/whitepapers/prerender
ishener 3 days ago 4 replies      
i still don't understand why in 2014 it's not possible to have an entire website with all it's files zipped and shipped as it is on the first request. how wasteful is it to have 50 requests for a server just for images and resources? have your root domain be a zip file of everything you need to view it, and then include some additional popular pages along with it. it can't get any faster than that
lifeformed 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a demo page? I want to see what it feels like.
thasmin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have you considered preloading all of the links while the person is reading the page?
auvrw 2 days ago 0 replies      
> before clicking on a link, you'll hover over it.

unless you use vimperator or similar. the demo handles this though, giving a hover time of infinity.

oneeyedpigeon 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wouldn't this ruin usage stats?
wiradikusuma 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does it work with SPA, particularly using AngularJS? (Essentially what's needed is the "prefetch on hover")
mbesto 3 days ago 1 reply      
In theory you could write a chrome extension and use it for any site, right?
insertnickname 3 days ago 0 replies      
>Click Hover =

>Click Mousedown = 2 ms

>Click Touchstart =

I win!

napolux 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wonder what happens for website with zillion of visitors per day.Could all this preload impact on servers?
ruricolist 3 days ago 1 reply      
The tricky thing with all of these (pjax &c.) is that by loading with JavaScript, you lose progressive rendering, so while reducing latency you may actually lose perceived speed.
udfalkso 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice. It would be great if the JQuery Mobile folks would integrate this.
resu 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool! I'll try it out.

Thanks for sharing :)

wololo_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does it support /#!/ (hashbangs) or just pushState ?
mrfusion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love it! Will it only work on html5 sites?
robgibbons 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would be hesitant to rely on mouse input, or even touch input. Think about things like screen readers and accessibility and you'll quickly learn there are many ways people browse the internet.
lintiwen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have problem understand "instant website",

can you provide some specific definitions? thank you

loteck 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I correct in assuming that touch interfaces can't benefit from this kind of architecture?
sagargv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome ! I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before.
matysanchez 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any demo? I mean, a implementation in a real web, like a blog or something like that?
aabalkan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a demo?
kjannis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does this require server components? Or does it also work with a static site?
davidslv 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't manage to see anything special.
toddwahnish 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic - will definitely use this!
math0ne 3 days ago 1 reply      
umm like 40% of traffic is already touch, seems too late
augustohp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Extra kudos for not using jQuery!
aehv 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is it possible to make it a Chrome extension and use it on all sites?
Godot Engine open sourced godotengine.org
319 points by beefsack  1 day ago   109 comments top 22
chipsy 1 day ago 3 replies      
The site is totally hammered right now but I managed to grab a copy and get a feel for what's in this. There's some truly exciting stuff to comb through since it's a well-used engine with a lot of history, not someone's hobby hack.

What I've seen so far:

A custom scripting language(GDScript) which is roughly Python-esque. The wiki explains that after trying the other common choices(Lua, Squirrel, Angelscript) over a period of years, they rolled their own solution that could be more closely integrated to the engine.

An in-editor help, it has some API docs.

Classes for GUI controls, including layout containers.

A fairly rich audio API, including positional audio, streamed audio, common sample playback controls(pan, volume, pitch, looping), and some effects(reverb, chorus, frequency filter).

Some networking functionality, including HTTP, TCP, and UDP(unclear?) mechanisms.

Keyboard, joystick, mouse, and touchscreen input classes.

And of course lots of rendering and physics-related stuff, including various shapes, cameras, meshes, sprites, animation, tilemaps, texture atlasing, internationalized fonts, particle systems, and multiple viewports.

xacaxulu 1 day ago 3 replies      
Godot! Just what I've been waiting for!
malbs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just playing around with this.... cross platform, doesn't try and be a "no programming required" environment, GDScript looks good enough. Whole env is intuitive. The live docs are decent. A couple of minutes in and I'm already making something. This is pretty damned cool!
wikiburner 1 day ago 5 replies      
Just curious, does anyone have any recommendations for something similar, but Javascript/HTML5 based?

What would the framework of choice be for a browser-based multiplayer game?

doyoulikeworms 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks awesome!

Sorry to go off on a tangent. I've only been into (indie) game development for the last year or so (blog: http://www.ckcopprell.com).

It looks to me like game development has lagged behind web development by decade or so in terms of the democratization of tools. Free (as in beer) and open source game development software have grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Unity, GameMaker, Unreal/UDK, Anarchy, many many others have become both viable and available.

In the 90's and early naughts, did web developers regularly write their own servers, templating engines, databases, and all else that goes into web development? Didn't game developers more-or-less have to write the whole thing from scratch or license an expensive engine?

These are not rhetorical questions. I'd love to hear the perspective of someone more knowledgeable than me.

archagon 1 day ago 4 replies      
Looks great! What are the benefits of using this over something like Unity?

EDIT: Sorry if this sounded sarcastic. I was genuinely curious. Always happy to see a new engine out in the open!

mariocesar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Impressive! I didn't know Godot. I just downloaded for Ubuntu and it works 100%, this is really awesome.
Nr7 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's a similar project. http://polycode.org/ It's still under development but it's ready enough to start playing around with it.
rdtsc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you.

Very impressive project. I looked at the code in core folder and it looks very clean and there are is a lot of good stuff in there.

negamax 1 day ago 1 reply      
S4M 1 day ago 1 reply      
Has anybody managed to run it on linux? I must be missing something obvious, but I don't know what to do once I downloaded it. Running `upx -d godot_x11.64` as mentioned on the download page doesn't do anything.
ekianjo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've seen that the editor only runs on OpenGL 2.1 supported platforms, but can it compile games for OpenGLES platforms?
beefsack 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those who want to use Sublime Text as the external text editor: https://github.com/beefsack/GDScript-sublime
lee337 1 day ago 1 reply      
Their site could maybe use some WP Super Cache :phttp://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/

This looks amazing!

moron4hire 1 day ago 1 reply      
The problem with these things is, they show you screenshots of the types of games you can supposedly make, but that is literally nothing to do with the game engine itself. That's art assets, which are a whole other ball of wax.

Most of these games, the programming itself is trivial. If you can't hack it together in Java without a game engine, then you're not going to be able to hack it together in the game engine.

If you want to make casual indie games that look great, you need to be focusing on your artwork, and how to make artwork that works well in games.

And for the love of god, do not neglect sound until the last minute. Good sound in a game can be as complex to create and program as graphics. You absolutely must develop it in tandem with the rest of your program. We are so focused on visuals, but bad sound will ruin a game more certainly than bad visuals, just as bad sound will ruin a movie more certainly than bad camera work. Bad visuals could be a stylistic choice, but bad sound never is.

klrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there any IRC channel for this project?
hpcorona 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow this engine is really amazing... Need to start stressing it out to se What's its made of...


Legend 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have never done game programming. Can anyone recommend whether it is easier to pick this up compared to Unity? Also, isn't Unity expensive [edit: for a newbie]?
nunodonato 1 day ago 0 replies      
Downloaded and giving it a try! Amazed that its under 10mb!
pjmlp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Look quite nice. I will surely give it a try.
notastartup 1 day ago 3 replies      
This looks like a solid product but any reason I should give up my unity3d? It does look much easier to pick up than unity but I wonder what are the benefits of this.

Also, if someone knows where I can find some free assets I can use. I thought of ripping game sprites from old ROM games but stopped at the thought of hypothetical lawyers rising from the dead.

Bitcoin Ponzi scheme ponzi.io
306 points by runn1ng  3 days ago   285 comments top 63
RyanZAG 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm trying to work out if this is some grand statement on the similarities of Bitcoin to a Ponzi scheme in the way it's deflationary, or just a quick way for someone to make a few BTC. Maybe it's designed as a way to teach people about Ponzi schemes?

Got to say, I pity the person who eventually deposits too much money at once, causing the payments to pause while they build up enough to cover his large deposit, in turn causing everyone else to think that the money has stopped paying out and causing no further money to be deposited. That seems like the likely end of this eventually...

bernardom 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is a beautiful piece of art/social experimentation/I-don't-know-what.
mmaunder 3 days ago 2 replies      

Ponzi Scheme Enforcement Actions

Curtailing Ponzi schemes and holding those responsible for these scams accountable is a vital component of the SEC's enforcement program.

Since fiscal year 2010, the SEC has brought more than 100 enforcement actions against nearly 200 individuals and 250 entities for carrying out Ponzi schemes.1 In these actions, more than 65 individuals have been barred from working in the securities industry. The SEC also has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Justice and other criminal authorities on parallel criminal and civil proceedings against Ponzi scheme operations.


Source: http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/enf-actions-ponzi.shtml

Keep in mind that BTC or virtual money is just another asset class.

FiloSottile 3 days ago 8 replies      

    The experiment is over.    We will pay back everyone we can. We are not making money from this.
And it's down.

runn1ng 3 days ago 1 reply      
What I realized now: if you look at their BTC balance




their "debt" - meaning, what other people have to bring into the system - is their balance + 20%. Right now, their debt is about 42 bitcoin.

lucb1e 3 days ago 3 replies      
Should have known! Like ten minutes before I expected 1.2x to be gathered and my payout to be done, the site reports "The experiment is over." Come on guys, just let it run. I would have accepted it if it just 'died of natural causes' and I lost all I put in (which is not much, 0.03); that was my gamble. Not that you'd pull the plug.

Somehow their pulling the plug just really bothers me much more than losing it would have been. Especially because at the rate at which it was going, payout was more or less ensured (300btc * 1.2 = 360. They quit 16 coins short). Right now, two hours after they supposedly would pay everyone back, I still got nothing.

runn1ng 3 days ago 1 reply      
I will add, since this hit the frontpage: nobody post any big money there. It's a Ponzi scheme. It says so in the title.
dwaltrip 3 days ago 5 replies      
No one finds this repulsive? People will lose money to this. Yes, they are dumb, yes it is obvious. But those who participate are still morally complicit. Enabling others who suffer from serious issues (addiction, gambling) seems like a pretty shitty thing to do.
sillysaurus2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's someone who recently sent 1 BTC to this ponzi scheme:



I'm going to watch and see what happens to them. If they don't lose their 1 BTC, then that's at least slightly interesting.

EDIT: It's been more than an hour; no repayment yet.

jccooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the operator had seconds thoughts--or plain got scared. I was interested in how trackable he is.

The domain is registered under a fake name and DNS is from Namecheap. It's a funny whois entry, lacking all the usual boilerplate, so I'm not entirely sure it's Namecheap; some sort of reseller? Doesn't match what I see from Namecheap itself, but Namecheap does take bitcoin now, so it seems plausible.

Hosting is libertyvps.net, a bitcoin-paid host. Hosted "offshore"; company appears to be in US.

If a US authority leans on libertyvps, they can get an email and blockchain address, and maybe an IP. Tracing the person would be hard if Tor was used for setting up (and using) the email and all host access, and a decently anonymous acquisition of the bitcoin.

A US authority could also get to Namecheap. Using the registrar safely requires about the same precautions, notably access via Tor and acquiring the payment BTC (or pre-paid card) in a non-traceable manner. Done right, they could shut the domain down, but not find the person.

Anyway, looks like the top-level bases were covered. But there's a lot of links in the chain. Perhaps the operator got nervous that he didn't cover all of them--and it only takes one. (Against a determined LE agency with jurisdiction or no scruples.)

tommorris 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure the Dogecoin Ponzi scheme will be better.
shalmanese 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you think Ponzi schemes won't work if you tell people that they're a ponzi scheme, MMM-2011 was a Ponzi scheme in Russia that hooked people despite nakedly advertising that it was a scam: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-06/is-global-finance-a...
udfalkso 3 days ago 1 reply      
So how do the creators of this make money from it?

The best solution is one that doesn't infringe on the "correctness" of the game, and it's a simple one. Simply play the game yourself. Send money in, let the system send money back. Do it a lot. Many small transactions. You will never lose, because when the game ends you are the owner of the actual account and won't get screwed like everyone else.

Right? So, perhaps many of the transactions we're seeing go into this are suspect and the total amounts aren't to quite be trusted?

a3_nm 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be cooler with one of those other cryptocurrencies that feature a Turing-complete scripting language: the code of the scheme could be public and run in the blockchain so that everyone would know the system is fair.
legojoey17 3 days ago 0 replies      
I deposited the minimum just to give it a go (80c... Can't hurt?) and the Ponzi sent me back an absurdly larger amount of bitcoins... Not quite sure what happened, but hey. When this hit the top of Hacker News the site wasn't loading any bitcoin stats or such so I feel the load must have had something to do with it possibly. (That or I just got double spent on, which would be a real sneaky trick to get a user to send back the 'perceived' amount, but coming out of their pocket.

This is personally why I wouldn't trust any programs to handle currency so openly on the web. The inability of the average user to stress test or put proper testing through applications can cause quite a fault. Having experienced the methods that banks undergo for software cycles there is a tiny chance someone would have the resources to properly engineer something so fragile (relative to money) properly.

Because of this I would assume the main reason the author actually shut the site down (or at least so suddenly) was because of scaling technical issues.

ryanskidmore 3 days ago 2 replies      
Something is not quite right.

Deposited 0.05859407 BTC ( https://blockchain.info/tx/c5411ae7ad41d6dab5dd879c158cb81f0... )

Recieved 0.0599 BTC back ( https://blockchain.info/tx/ef7f32df518dabb104812ea4a12719026... )

1.2 * 0.05859407 = 0.070312884 BTC

So, somebody owes me 0.010412884 BTC

CurtMonash 3 days ago 2 replies      
To be technical, there are multiple inaccuracies in "Get 120% back when the next person sends".

First, as per the central problem of Ponzi schemes, it is missing an "... if ever" at the end.

But further, it is oversimplified, because people can submit different amounts of bitcoins. Covering up that uncertainty -- which while apparent is not as clearly disclosed as the "Ponzi" aspect -- makes it harder for people to assess the likelihood they will get the promised return.

dror 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is almost perfect except for not including a warning:

"Warning, if people stop depositing money, you won't get 120% back, and you could lose all your money."

Also, it seems like the person running the site is not taking a cut. If that's right, he's not making a profit, and he's less likely to get in trouble when things collapse.

Kiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The experiment is over.We will pay back everyone we can. We are not making money from this."
coherentpony 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh jesus fucking christ. People have sent over 200 BTC to that. :/
makomk 3 days ago 1 reply      
There have been a few Bitcoin sites like this, I think the original one was Bitcoin Gem. Most of them turned out to be scams (and I don't just mean that they were Ponzis).
kokey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always been fascinated by ponzi schemes, or other pyramid and chain structures. Most of the legislation against it that I've looked at, attacks it from a deception angle. So, basically, if it's honest about what it is and your chances are to make or not make money from it, it may be within the law of many countries. I have never looked at it from a cross border legal perspective, that might make it even more interesting.
pmikal 3 days ago 3 replies      
Website shows they've shut it down.

"The experiment is over.We will pay back everyone we can. We are not making money from this."

sashazykov 3 days ago 2 replies      
http://bitcoinpyramid.com/r/230 is 3 years old (and still paying :))
tobz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why bother with a faceless ponzi scheme? Send your bitcoin directly to me, and I will invest it by hand, making sure to maximize your return: 1HbNxRhrv5Jocr7Q9ZqbbqCwuNNy4UsR77

This is totally legit. Seriously.

ck2 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm impressed by the vanity address, must have taken a lot of cpu power to hash that one out.
refrigerator 3 days ago 1 reply      
If I had any Bitcoin, I would definitely play this once or twice
bbosh 3 days ago 1 reply      
It is either a scam or very poorly coded. I've seen one transaction in the blockchain for 7BTC from yesterday that hasn't been paid. But, people sending 0.01BTC today are being paid. Any proper Ponzi scheme would pay back in time order, not by order of value.
3rd3 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does that work exactly? I pay in X BTC and two other people pay in say 0.5 X and 0.7 X then I get these BTC back? How exactly will my X BTC be distributed among other gamblers?
breeezzz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I threw some old satoshi-dice coins at it (0.25) and was saddened at the header mocking that "The experiment is over.".

1.5 hours later 0.30BTC showed up in my wallet! Wow, did not expect that!

Kiro 3 days ago 3 replies      
A bit OT but how do you build automatic Bitcoin services like this?
epmatsw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Huh. I got paid back. I'm actually somewhat surprised. Well, I made 0.0002.
loucal 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm wondering though how they can afford to pay some people 400% Kind of seems like a bug might be making this less sustainable than it normally would be.


randomflavor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just tried sending .2, and got back .119 - so therse a bug or he's skimming. lol, anyway interesting to make this


thrush 3 days ago 2 replies      
How much does creator make?
n1c 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, I also built something like this in December.


RRRA 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can anybody tell me how you come I've sent close to the minimum and got almost 100 time more?(this is not a joke, algo. fail?)
agent462 3 days ago 1 reply      
First, I fully understood what I was getting in to.

I first deposited .1 bitcoin to see if it was real and got 0.11978 back.

Ok, this will be fun.

I then deposited .8591 and got back 1.1999. Ha this is hilariously fun. More gambling!

I then sent 1.2001 and got back 0.8589. Wait what..

The game ended and he skimmed from me to hopefully pay someone else back and not pocket it.

Kiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just tried and got paid within 30 minutes.
harrigan 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was tried out about a year ago: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=138749.0. The rules were originally very similar to the website above; then the owner modified them so that the gem randomly "reset".
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would not wonder if it was posted by the actual author and if his advertisement here is actually successful.
kolev 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, ponzi.io is a Ponzi scheme squared?
fnsa 3 days ago 1 reply      
shameless plug: my ncurses thin SPV bitcoin client for linux/mac:


  * 100% C code,  * support for linux and mac platforms,  * console based: uses ncurses,  * home grown async network i/o stack,  * home grown poll loop,  * home grown bitcoin engine,  * supports encrypted wallet,  * supports Tor/Socks5 proxy,  * multi-threaded,  * valgrind clean.
You'll need basic dev skills to install it: check-out the code, install dependencies then build. It's all in the README file. I'm interested in all kinds of feedback you may have: feature requests, bugs, etc. Thanks!

yatakaka 3 days ago 0 replies      
Careful. I just sent .3, complained in the chat and was subsequently blocked...
RobinL 3 days ago 1 reply      
What a great illustration of how investment bubbles can rationally occur.
amenghra 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few small teaks could make this into a money laundering / mixing money trail tool.
jasonvolpe 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://coincurious.com/ is a more interesting experimental art piece as it's not a blatant scam.
jheriko 2 days ago 0 replies      
whatever happened to ethics and demonstrating problems without victimising people?

its not big or clever. :/

once again disappointed in the community...

leugim 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool cool cool

The human stupidity in one web, from the same Carlo Ponzi to Bernard Madoff. All Ponzi scheme portrayed in a web.

I love it.

sunshinerag 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bet this ponzi scheme will be much short-lived compared to the one run by federalreserve.io.
smartistone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, this is how folks get rich in the smartist era, by creating schemes like this. Or buying facebook & google stock. Or creating/investing in the next web 2.0 billion dollar company. A 9-5 chump would have to work for years to make this kind of money, assuming he paid off all his college loans.
melarina 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Transparent Bitcoin Ponzi scheme

needs more parentheses

vezzy-fnord 3 days ago 0 replies      
Charles would be proud.
xcyu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Refresh the page to see some "live" action.
gorteks 2 days ago 0 replies      
A clone is already up at ponzi.tk
tzakrajs 3 days ago 0 replies      
A ponzi scheme on top of a ponzi scheme. Brilliant.
magic8ball 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just received my 1BTC back. The "experiment is over" seems to be legitimate.
97s 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is amazing.
avodonosov 3 days ago 0 replies      
very good idea
yatakaka 3 days ago 0 replies      
dogewow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the fun has moved to http://dogepound.l8.lv/

Who wants to make some money before the prices get too high ;)

breaker05 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love people to donate a few BTC that I can use for more noble causes.


powera 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is quite possibly the worst post to ever hit #1 on Hacker News. Why are you people voting it up? Just because it admits that it's a scam (and "get your money plus 20% back for nothing ALWAYS ENDS UP A SCAM") doesn't mean that it should get posted here.
Did English ever have a formal version of you? stackexchange.com
277 points by psawaya  22 hours ago   181 comments top 30
fsck--off 20 hours ago 10 replies      
Second person used to be:


   Thou      Ye, You   Thee      You   Thine     Yours   Thy       Your
Which correspond to the nominative, objective, and possessive cases accordingly.

By the way, the "Ye" is not related to the "Ye" in store signs that say "Ye Olde...". Y was sometimes used by typographers instead of the Old English letter (Thorn), which makes a "Th" sound, so those store signs should be pronounced as "The Old..."

The usage of "You" instead of "Thou" began in the 14th century. It was originally used in token of respect when addressing a superior, and eventually began to be used when addressing equals.

EDIT: Removed part about "you all", because some things I said were wrong and others I will have to look up.

merkitt 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Greetings from a speaker of a linguistic oddity that doesn't have a universal form of the word "you".

My native language -- Sinhalese -- has two forms: written and spoken. The written form, which has a grammar very similar to Latin, does have a universal "you", but the spoken form, which is largely grammer-less except for tense, does not. You literally cannot address someone without knowing their status/relationship to you. This leads to some difficult and sometimes hilarious situations:

- Children, family members and lovers are often addressed "oya". Using this on your boss or teacher could lead to problems. More acceptable when used by women and girls than by men.

- There's no way to informally address a superior without a salutation or a name. This leads to people repeatedly using a person's name or salutation in the same sentence. E.g. "Sir, should I have that report sir asked for on sir's desk before sir leaves for sir's doctor's appointment?"

- Some old fashioned couples have entire conversations (and sometimes marriages) without using second person pronouns because they don't have a single version they feel comfortable with.

- Male friends of roughly equal age tend to call each other "machang" -- a term that is well known to those who have known Sri Lankans, and roughly translates to "dude".

- There's no safe version of "you" that a young man can use on another that he has just met. Most risk using "machang", but could result in offense if addressing someone of higher social standing. This is solved by constructing sentences that avoid the word entirely.

- Most children, especially from my generation, do not feel comfortable using second person pronouns on their parents. They just repeat "mother/father" wherever the word "you" is supposed to appear.

- Sometimes the sentences are spoken with the word entirely omitted (like in Latin) -- "Can come over here?", "Did lock the door?"

moskie 20 hours ago 10 replies      
This relates well to one of the fascinating things I realized while learning German: the fact that so many English and German words and sounds have phonetic connections, coming from their common Germanic ancestry.

For example, the letter "d" in German corresponding to "th" in English:

  die/der/das -> the  drei -> three  Donner -> thunder  Ding -> thing  daher -> therefore
and, most relevant to this discussion:

  du -> thou
I'm sure this connection can be better explained than I'm able to, but it was a mini-epiphany for me while studying the language.

gruseom 21 hours ago 1 reply      
In Polish, you don't use the plural vy as a formal singular. In Russian you do. I took Polish lessons at one point and my teacher would wince every time I accidentally called him vy. He told me the Russians used to force Poles to address each other that way in their own parliament. So sensitive was he to this long-past linguistic oppression that he couldn't help but be offended when an English speaker who happened to have studied Russian did it by mistake.
nisse72 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Swedish has du (singular) and ni (plural). Prior to the "du-reform" in the late 1960's however, ni was also used as a formal singular form, but for the last 40 or so years the formal form has been dropped, leaving ni for plural only. In fact many older people would find it mildly insulting to be addressed singular ni today.

Of course there are a few exceptions, most notably when addressing members of the royal family. If you ever get to speak with one of them, the correct way is to address them by title, in third person ("would her majesty like fries with that?").

Around 8 or 10 years ago I started to notice a trend, particularly among younger people (in their late teens maybe), typically working in shops and cafes, who started once again to use singular ni with customers, but I haven't lived in Sweden for several years now and don't know if that's continued. I hope not!

samatman 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm having trouble finding a reference, but it's my understanding that the Dissenter (later Quaker) habit of referring to everyone as 'thou' regardless of rank is precisely what lead to 'you' becoming universal. If one wasn't a Dissenter, one surely didn't want to be mistaken for such.
Gigablah 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Regarding the comment on the Chinese character at the bottom of that page: it's still very much in use (formal letters, ceremony speeches, etc).

I can't add a reply though, because apparently I need 50 reputation. I can't upvote, because I need 10 reputation. You know what, StackExchange? I'll just stay away from your site with all the barriers to participation that you throw up.

jjoe 21 hours ago 5 replies      
We're very happy with y'all here in Texas.
rootbear 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As a former Southerner, who grew up with "y'all", and a fan of Shakespearean English, I have to say that I've always been sorry that English lost its distinct second person singular pronouns. We've had to come up with all sorts of work-arounds as a result.

I always thought it odd that Esperanto adopted this "feature", presumably from English:

                Singular        Plural first person    mi (I)          ni (we) second person        vi (you) third person    masculine   li (he)         ili (they)    feminine    i (she)    epicene     i (it, s/he)
Not one of Zamenhof's better choices, in my opinion. There is an informal second person singular pronoun, ci (thou), but as I recall it was only used in certain circumstances. If any Esperantists reading this know why Zamenhof used vi for both singular and plural, I'd love to know.

_ZeD_ 21 hours ago 2 replies      
As an aside note, italian has "two" formal versions of "you".

The informal one, "tu", is common on all the peninsula.

The formal version "voi" (2nd person plural) is more common in the south of the Italy (it's a reminiscent of the spanish invasions).

The formal version "lei" (3rd person singular) is more common in the north of the Italy.

bhickey 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Hemingway's abuse of language in For Whom the Bell Tolls always drove me. He uses you in place of tu and thou as usted.
hangonhn 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The original asker made a minor error. Chinese isn't in the Proto-Indo-European language family. It is in the Sino-Tibetan family.
JoeAltmaier 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought 'ye' was a corruption, a misinterpretation of the rune for 'th' combined with 'e'; on a sign 'Ye olde boars head' was really 'The old boars head'.

So there was really a 'ye'? Explains the confusion I guess.

nolanpro 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I know a guy who got to meet Queen Elizabeth. He was required to go through a royal customs seminar before meeting her. Apparently, you NEVER use "you" when talking to the queen. You can't say "Would you like some tea?". You must say "Would Your Majesty like some tea?". Hows that for formal.
saltysugar 18 hours ago 0 replies      
We Vietnamese don't even have anything equivalent to "you".

We use "friend/friends" (we don't distinguish between plural and singular) for a generic "you". Otherwise, in social situation, we have to figure out the relative social order to address the other person, i.e. calling them by titles/roles such as aunt/uncle/mom/dad etc.

It's a big headache cause it can be very awkward to use one pronoun (for example, calling a woman was "younger sis") and she turns out to be older - it can be impolite, but then some women will be offended if you call them as "older sister" right away, because, ugh, you consider them older. God, it's a convoluted mess of pronouns :(

lexcorvus 19 hours ago 0 replies      
In case you're wondering, the "PIE" referred to in some of the answers is "proto-Indo-European" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language).
kubiiii 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned this while playing Ultima 7, serpent isle. I literally learned english as a teenager while playing that game. Thanks Origin for that.
nraynaud 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually there is another form of formal addressing that is more like the spanish and german: "her majesty", "his holiness" (with the equivalents in French, "son altesse", "sa saintet"). This closes some gap between those languages, and show that there is also a remaining formal address in modern English and there are 2 in modern french.

(next time, examples of present continuous in modern french)

rcruzeiro 21 hours ago 2 replies      
In Portuguese and German there are still the formal and informal cases:Formal : Voc,Informal: Tu

The same thing in German:Formal : Sie,Informal: Du

I am not a linguistics guy but I think that Thou, Du, Tu have all the same origin as they sound so similar.

amw 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I keep being surprised this isn't common knowledge, but then I remember I married a Quaker
evincarofautumn 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice to see English on here. Im one of the more active users there (Jon Purdy) and its a great resource. :)
astrobe_ 19 hours ago 2 replies      
About the top answer: Latin as no pronouns, but it has 2 distinct forms for singular and plural second person in conjugation. I don't remember, though, if the plural form was used as a polite form at least in the texts we have.
friendzis 20 hours ago 1 reply      
In languages I know formal version of "you" (local version of singular second person) is plural form of the same word.Historical explanation is rather simple. Remember history lessons: kings used to say "we, the king, think..." meaning that the king is a representative of some group. Due to this language quirk when addressing such a person formally you actually address whole group the person represents, hence the plural form of "you". In informal environment one usually addresses the same person directly, hence the singular form being not so much formal.Simple as that :)
hugofirth 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Trust the British to settle on the formal version.
Grue3 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not even a native English speaker and I knew that. Is this really news to people here?
VaedaStrike 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This makes me want to see a poll HN to see how many have read any amount of The KJV, and how much they've read.
dhoulb 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I was happy to be surprised by the answer!
jwmoz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
In the West Midlands we have 'ya'.
random_number 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You, sir, are expecting too much from your audience.

It's interesting in that the assumption of formality in 'you, sir,' suggests the speaker is about to be rather discourteous in the following clause.

ohearb 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that by now, you is pretty commonly accepted as both formal and informal.
Why Mt. Gox is full of shit cryto.net
266 points by klrr  1 day ago   132 comments top 22
nwh 1 day ago 8 replies      
There's no acceptable middle ground really. Practically every Bitcoin service is full of incompetence of varying degrees. Coinbase for example uses MongoDB for their accounting and apparently was hacked (and the funds returned) as an effect of that. Every other service has issues with the founders (BTC-e is run by who?) or their security record (inputs.io had a cold wallet?) in some way.

You can't trust much in this particular corner of the internet.

kens 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't think anyone has pointed out that MtGox said "We have discussed this solution [additional hash in the protocol] with the Bitcoin core developers and will allow Bitcoin withdrawals again once it has been approved and standardized." [1] A Bitcoin protocol change like that is not going to happen for a long, long time, if ever so do the math on MtGox's statement and when they will allow withdrawls.

The Bitcoin team did push out a change in 8 hours once for a critical signed/unsigned bug that threatened the whole system [3], but this problem looks to me like NOTABUG/WONTFIX. The transaction malleability is an annoyance, not a real bug. Basically the support team just needs to spend an extra 5 seconds checking a transaction instead of blindly issuing refunds.

My recent article [2] goes into the Bitcoin protocol in great detail if you want to know more about transaction signing, which should help explain technically what is going on with malleability.

[1] https://www.mtgox.com/press_release_20140210.html

[2] http://righto.com/bc

[3] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=822.0

steven2012 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone who uses Mt. Gox is a fool, especially after the first few security issues. Hearing about further issues in terms of security, etc is sort of like hearing the wailings of a person whose spouse is cheating on them... for the 5th or 6th time. At some point, the victim only has themselves to blame.
sillysaurus2 1 day ago 7 replies      
One interesting aspect of this whole ordeal is the fact that, thus far, exchanges' prices have depended on each other. That is, a huge sell order on Bitstamp will more or less immediately affect the price on BTC-E, MtGox, etc. (The exception seems to be Coinbase, which seems to use some kind of exponential weighted averaging, but even Coinbase will get dragged down if the price drop is dramatic enough.)

If people lose all confidence in Gox, but still retain faith in other exchanges, then that means we're going to witness MtGox's price drop while the other exchanges' prices rise. However, this becomes an economic opportunity for anyone who wants to do arbitrage between exchanges. Therefore it seems like the prices won't ever diverge too much.

The conclusion, it seems, is that no matter how bad one exchange is, it will simply drag the overall price of Bitcoin down across all exchanges rather than suffer punishment as an individual company. The fact that arbitrage is doable seems to give MtGox some insulation from consumer outrage.

This poses a question: Is it true that as long as an exchange keeps functioning, then it's "here to stay" no matter how badly they behave? Is there any way that an exchange could go out of business from nothing more than consumers losing faith that one exchange?

x0054 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mt. Gox is indeed full of shit. As I understand the issue, due to their bitcoin implementation, there is a possibility that someone would send bitcoins from their Mt. Gox. account to a wallet, than alter the signature of the transaction, and than claim that the transaction did not go through and contact support to request the funds to be resent.

Here are 2 easy solutions to this problem which do not require anything to be done by the bitcoin community, and could be exacted by Mt. Gox today:

1. Allow all transactions to go through as before, but state clearly that if your transaction does not go through after being submitted, it will take a long time to clear the transaction, because it will have to be checked by hand. Assuming that 90% of people are not planning to scam Mt. Gox, 90% of people would be able to get their money. The remaining 10% would have to wait a bit longer while Mt. Gox checks transactions by hand.

2. Alternatively, write a system were a user can request to withdraw bitcoins. The Mt. Gox server first generates a new wallet, than transfers the BTC to that wallet, than send the user the public and private keys for that wallet. Assuming that the user (for good reason) does not trust Mt. Gox, they than can simply transfer the BTC from a temporary wallet to a permanent one.

lispsil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of course Gox is full of shit, anybody see his php ssh implementation? Karpales is a guy who rolls his own crypto everyday and has no idea it's completely flawed, and when you point out the flaws he doesn't believe you and uses it anyways.

He's a cancer and nobody should be using MtGox. You're supposed to trade coins in IRC decentralized using the web of trust, or localbitcoins in person. Exchanges should only be used if you have a business bank account and are on first name basis with the guy who runs Bitstamp or Cavirtex on IRC otherwise you get delays and holds for identity verification, limits, other problems like your bank freezing your account when they notice wires going to Slovenia too often.

*Edit Gavin just posted a response on the bitcoin foundation blog, confirming Gox is indeed full of shit.

kordless 1 day ago 0 replies      
News flash: people don't like to admit they are wrong. They will find ways to rationalize their actions to fit a model where their fears of being wrong are temporarily alleviated. Unfortunately most people don't realize it's more work in the end to deny being wrong than just coming clean.

We've been through this several times with Mt. Gox. It's time for everyone to STOP using them and start using something else for trading. Continuing to use them and making rationalizations that things will 'get better' will only result in a global case of cognitive dissonance.

They are threatening an ecosystem that is important and which has a large potential value. In my opinion, they need to be removed from that ecosystem.

pistle 1 day ago 0 replies      
The candlestick charts are not telling a pretty story about trust right now. Bitbugs keep the faith and talk about buying with blood in the streets since it always bounces back, but every flash crash comes with a worse story.

The headline is "Largest Bitcoin Exchange Doesn't Understand Bitcoin"

What hope do retailers and any but the very-technical have in managing the risk implicit in digital currencies?

Not to mention, seeing supporting forum posts where people are discussing the parts of fractions of coin being sent around... do people really think 8-10 digits past the decimal can hope to be manageable for consumers? It's bad enough to deal with Yen conversions.

Please tip your server .00343874938239487 bitcoin. When 15% of the value can evaporate while business is happening... when do you bill the customer for lunch? When they order?

zapnap 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not wholly surprised here. As a side note, I wish it was easier to move coins out of mtgox. They require "verification" to even transfer coins to another BTC address at this point, which means sending them proof of identity and proof of address. I'm not against identifying myself but given their absolutely abysmal security record and repeated demonstrations of incompetence, I'm loathe to send them anything even remotely sensitive. which leaves me in a bad position where I'm stuck with coins I can't even access...

Ugh. Local wallets, people. Local wallets.

jasonlingx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let this be a warning to everybody with bitcoin in wallets they do no absolutely control, for example, Coinbase - you can and almost certainly will lose them at a moment's notice, sooner or later.

I feel really sorry for those with funds tied up with MtGox. It was only recently where I used MtGox to store most of my bitcoin and I am lucky to have decided to move them all to paper wallets.

This demonstrates one of the biggest issues holding back widespread adoption of bitcoin, the ability of the layperson to securely hold large amounts of bitcoin.

sscalia 1 day ago 1 reply      
In case anyone needs a reminder:

Magic The Gathering Online Exchange.

Chase Manhattan, they are not.

jere 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not mentioned in this post is that during that hack where hashed passwords were released, Mt. Gox was using md5. What jokers.
rsync 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why do these services exist at all ?

Cannot the bit coin protocol be used by end users with full features without a third party "wallet" service ?

Are these services purely for people that don't understand files and encryption utilities ?

I do not use bitcoin, but if I did, I assume I would just protect and back up those computer files like many other extremely valuable computer files I have.

What am I missing here ?

ck2 1 day ago 2 replies      
the official Bitcoin daemon (bitcoind) does not rely on a transaction ID to determine if a transaction succeeded

Sooo how does it do it? How does it determine a unique transaction id?

ewams 1 day ago 2 replies      
FTA: "The time to stop using Mt. Gox has been long overdue. Move your business to a more serious exchange, one that is willing to admit their failures, should they occur. One that has the best interests of the entire Bitcoin ecosystem in mind, rather than their own bottom line."
rainmaking 1 day ago 0 replies      
My experience exactly. I was just buying a hundred bucks worth of coins, and I had to suffer through inexplicable delays, error messages that were obvious lies, the list goes on and on. Incompetence is one thing ("sorry about the hassle, but look aren't we cheap!") but trying to obfuscate the real reason of problems is just a huge red flag.

I'm in Europe, and I like Kraken very much. blockchain.info recommended them.

angryasian 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Their implementation, against all advice, does rely on the transaction ID, which makes this attack possible.

I think a lot of the comments here and especially the article detracts from the discussion. The article seems to go on a rant of all the other mistakes mt gox make rather than addressing the issue.

What is the recommended solution by bitcoin implementers to verify a transaction succeeded, with transaction malleability existing ?

o_nate 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article seems rather biased and brings in lots of past problems at Mt. Gox rather than focusing on the current issue - perhaps because a more detailed explanation of the current issue would reveal that this problem goes beyond Mt. Gox. There is a disturbing tendency among some Bitcoin partisans to instantly dismiss any issue that comes up as being well-known and well-understood, even if "well-known" means that it was posted somewhere on a message board read by few.
kirk21 1 day ago 0 replies      
Trying to find an European alternative. Suggestions next to https://localbitcoins.com or http://www.coinnext.com/ ?
spoiledtechie 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder which side is actually telling the truth...
oleganza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today's price fluctuation only proves that people do not really understand how Bitcoin works. Many keep all their coins on the exchange because they got used to the traditional banking. MtGox says "it's a fault in the protocol" and people sell off in panic. Thankfully, over time we have more exchanges, more different implementations, more and better educational resources to learn about real risks of Bitcoin. Meanwhile, smart people pick up cheap coins while they can.
victorlin 1 day ago 0 replies      
the justin bieber of bitcoin exchange
That distressed baby" Tim Armstrong blamed for benefit cuts? Shes my daughter slate.com
265 points by selmnoo  2 days ago   270 comments top 32
ekidd 2 days ago 12 replies      
I'm delighted to hear that this child is doing well, and I'm utterly appalled at Tim Armstrong's attitudes towards the lives of his employee's children. Apparently it's possible to pay a programmer $100K/year, but spending ten times that to save the life of one of his employee's children is absolutely unacceptable. I'll be sure to keep that in mind the next time I hear from an AOL recruiter.

The whole point of insurance is that a middle-class family can afford to pay $12,000 or $18,000 in premiums per year, but they can't easily afford a $1M black swan medical event. So the insurance company spreads the risk out over a large pool. The system breaks down, of course, if the pool is too small. A company with 10 employees probably can't absorb a $1M expense either. But AOL has 5,600 employees and it had $1.05B in net income in 2012. They can afford it to cover expenses, even if they decide to self-insure.

Of course, another solution is to make the risk pool as big as humanly possible and to get employers out of the insurance business completely, so that no startup needs to worry about medical expenses. The AMA is a messy political compromise to do exactly that. But Tim Armstrong is also upset about the AMA. So I'm not quite sure what his ideal outcome is here.

paul 2 days ago 6 replies      
My daughter had a similar birth and hospital stay, which also produced a million dollar insurance bill. It costs about $10,000/day to stay in the NICU. I was never able work out why it costs so much, except that this is a major profit center for hospitals, and they use the money to cover other, money losing, departments.

Fortunately Google is run by good people, and they were never anything other than supportive. I'm grateful for having had access to the best care for her. I do think our medical system needs some rethinking though.

GuiA 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm glad this article was written. Armstrong's statements were so despicable that in this case "airing the dirty laundry" is a perfectly appropriate answer.

I'm also surprised that his statements aren't "suable" in some form in the lawsuit happy country that is the United States of America. A friend of mine immediately pointed out to the numerous healthcare privacy laws in place; and another HN commenter pointed out on the original thread the possibility that the employees with the distressed babies would get discriminated against by their coworkers, after Armstrong's statements, due to the fact that they're probably identifiable internally by their team members.

This is the same guy who fired an employee publicly during a company talk for (apparently) taking pictures. (http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/AOL...)

What a sad, sad man. I hope that he gets scared and lonely as he gets older and older, when his billions won't change anything and when he realizes that all of his misery stems from his own choices.

nilsbunger 2 days ago 3 replies      
AOL could've chosen a 3rd party insurance company instead of self-insuring. Self-insuring was probably a decision intended to save money compared to getting an external health provider.

The CEO could conclude that these outlier events create too much unpredictability for the bottom line, and thus move the company to an external healthcare provider. Heck, they could even fire the CFO or whoever made the cost-benefit analysis if it was wrong. But blaming the employees, who didnt create this situation? Unacceptable.

fiatmoney 2 days ago 2 replies      
If your company cannot afford to pay $1M insurance claims, you shouldn't be in the business of insuring medical coverage. You should be re-insuring that risk. There are many companies that will be happy to do this for you.

The fact that apparently AOL is on the hook for medical claims by its employees indicates they've made a reasoned judgement that their risk pool is diverse enough that it's worthwhile to self-insure, or they're incompetent.

Either way, it's crazy to set yourself up as an insurer and then complain about having to pay claims. That's kind of the point.

jobu 2 days ago 2 replies      
She quoted this line from some of the TV coverage:

  How many distressed babies does AOL pay this guy?
Does anyone know who said that? That's really dark, but also hilarious.

bigchewy 2 days ago 5 replies      
Tim Armstrong has an incredible ability to say the wrong thing.

The underlying topic, however, is fascinating. I do healthcare analytics for a living so I see how often a single neonatal ICU incident can consume 30% of an entire company's healthcare budget for the year (note: if you don't really understand healthcare, e.g. what self insuring means, please don't respond with comments that the insurance company pays the bills, this is what insurance is for, etc.).

The economics of healthcare combined with the inability to have a rational discussion on how to allocate resources means that doctors / researchers will apply their research efforts where they will be rewarded. The race to keep younger and younger babies alive is fueled with ego and dollars.

No one wants to talk about scarce resources and how to allocate dollars to have the most impact. I wish conversations stemming from idiotic comments like Armstrong's ended up being productive but they always end up with non-actionable ranting around taking executive pay and giving it to sick people. Unless someone proposes a mechanism to achieve that, it's just a dream / rant.

kabdib 2 days ago 0 replies      
Memo: Don't screw with someone who can write well.

[Yup, Armstrong is despicable]

iandanforth 2 days ago 0 replies      
So I believe the following is true:

1. The costs of the procedures involved are wildly inflated by the private sector healthcare system we employ.2. Regardless of 1 the effort involved in keeping the child alive was extraordinary. 3. The effort involved was disproportionate to the benefit to society.

It's unlikely the reader will agree with 3. That's ok. But I would ask anyone who disagrees with 3 to think carefully about if there is a line where the effort to save a child's life is too great, and if that line exists, how would you determine where it is, and given that method where is that line for you?

mkreef 2 days ago 1 reply      
I also had a distressed baby a few years ago that spent months in the NICU of one of the best children's hospitals, had multiple surgeries, was in and out of the hospital for the first few months of his life. Ultimately an incident occurred that left him brain dead and on life support before he was 6 months old. We decided to remove life support and held him as he died in our arms. The family insurance plan offered by my ~1000 employee public tech company covered everything. I never saw a single bill and only had to pay the requisite co-pays. Always wondered how much it all costs...
pwg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Another interesting quote from the article:

> Lets set aside the fact that Armstrongwho took home $12 million in pay in 2012

Assuming the above is factual (and I have no reason to doubt it), he wanted to cut the 401(k) plan for everyone because of an expense that was one twelfth the size of his own pay that same year.

Just a wee bit hippocritical there on his part.

gojomo 2 days ago 0 replies      
We need new words to describe new patterns of social news and commentary. For aspects of this situation, I first propose 'paraphrage':

paraphrage (v): to paraphrase in a way to maximize outrage

Tim Armstrong has been widely paraphraged as saying, "we're cutting your 401(k)s because two AOLers had distressed babies last year".

Paraphraging not only brings many profitable clicks, but it removes complicating details that interfere with an audience's offensertainment.

offensertainment (n): amusement or enjoyment felt by taking offense, and expressing moral indignation, usually in solidarity with some larger group

The isolation and individual disempowerment of modern online life has driven many people to seek a compensating sense of joy, purpose, and belonging through offensertainment. Leading offensertainment providers include Gawker, the Huffington Post, and Slate, but the full participatory experience also requires forwarding, commentary, and button-pushing through services like Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and HN.

carbocation 2 days ago 0 replies      
emp_zealoth 2 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't it how the insurance works(and the very point of it)?Spreading the risk(and cost) over multitude of individuals?I his words utterly silly
smoyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
An amazing, baring article that brought back too many memories (our first son was early and classified "distressed", though not nearly to this degree). I'm glad to see she's doing so well, and I really have to wonder why pay health insurance premiums (that claim to cover this sort of catastrophic event), if you can't cash in on that policy should you ever need to (all the while praying that you don't).

It's not like CEOs of large companies are selected for being empathetic, but in this case I'll predict that he doesn't survive the publicity surrounding his statements. Children are (and should be) important to a civilized society regardless of their present capabilities or future expectations.

therobot24 2 days ago 2 replies      
Armstrong's quotes are quite deplorable and the backpedaling is cringe-worthy but all i could think of while reading the article is Mrs. Lovejoy from the simpsons, "Won't somebody think of the children?!"
mratzloff 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think you guys understand how this works. Armstrong earned his $12 million salary. Employees, meanwhile, receive health care as an unearned benefit bestowed on the commoners by the wealthy. If they abuse this gift (by having premature babies, cancer, etc.), they will be expected to make up for these extra costs elsewhere.

Blame the law for this: clearly those employees who abuse the system should be fired outright, preferably on a conference call with 1000 people in attendance. Sadly, due to government overreach, it is considered illegal.

ZanyProgrammer 2 days ago 0 replies      
He just exposed employee health data to the world-isn't that a violation of a bazillion privacy laws?
brown9-2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The other very odd aspect of this story is blaming 7 million in new costs on Obamacare.

A large company like aol would have already provided pretty good health benefits. It is very unlikely that the ACA's provisions about mandatory coverage for procedures (such as birth control) would have cost aol anything significant.

delinka 2 days ago 0 replies      
"We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general."

Is this how health insurance works? Maybe AOL is "self-insured"? I don't understand AOL having anything to do with paying directly for medical treatment. Except, by virtue of making claims and costing an insurer money, the premiums increase. It's as if the insurers, ever-faithful capitalists they are, want to sell us insurance and can't believe we have the gall to make claims against our policies, and have convinced our employers to be equally appalled.

malkia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Helping others is something that we did for very long long time

"The third stage, based on findings from Europe between around 500,000 and 40,000 years ago, sees humans such as Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals developing deep-seated commitments to the welfare of others illustrated by a long adolescence and a dependence on hunting together. There is also archaeological evidence of the routine care of the injured or infirm over extended periods. These include the remains of a child with a congenital brain abnormality who was not abandoned, but lived until five or six years old. The researchers also note that there was a Neanderthal with a withered arm, deformed feet and blindness in one eye who must have been cared for, perhaps for as long as twenty years."


CrowderSoup 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't imagine that Tim Armstrong sits at home stewing about the high costs of distressed babies, but singling them out in this situation is deplorable.
judk 2 days ago 0 replies      
"My spouses' employer covers million-dollar expenses over 401k benefits, so the CEO is an asshole."
gaius 2 days ago 2 replies      
This guy is a walking disaster. How is it anyone is willing to work for him?
woodchuck64 2 days ago 3 replies      
Curious that AOL had to pay millions of dollars for insurance claims. Isn't that the insurance company's responsibility?
michaelochurch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Tim Armstrong shows us directly what the upper class actually thinks of us.

The mean-spirited worldview shouldn't be a surprise. What is a bit brazen is the "turn the poors on each other" behavior. Usually, it's not so obvious. He had hoped that the rank-and-file employees would, as a response to this phony scarcity (health benefits OR 401k, when the real problem is executive overcompensation) imposed from above, turn their frustrations and gripes at colleagues who get sick a lot (or have sick children, or sick parents) and that the environmental change would, perhaps, prune the company of a few sick people. It didn't work. Now everyone hates him. Good. I hope he dies alone, broke, and miserable. (The "broke" part probably won't happen, but one can dream.)

Whenever the upper class tries to turn the rest of us against each other (say, Mission lifers vs. Google bus riders, who are on the same side even if they don't know it) we should always recognize it for what it is, and attack the real enemy with our combined force.

davidf18 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would be interested in the amount that AOL paid compared with the amount that Medicaid would have paid for the same infant.

I would also like to know how much costs would be in France, UK, Germany, Japan.

mzr 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about AOL stop whining about paying for medical care, and stop employing "digital prophets"? Perhaps then they could afford both the insurance costs and 401(k)s.


skuunk1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't this the same guy who fired one of his employees on a conference call?


facepalm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand - doesn't insurance pay for such costs? Why is it an extra burden for a company if one of their employees needs money from the health insurance?
fredgrott 2 days ago 0 replies      
so wait Tim's Logic...

1. Baby born Medical cots $1 Million, INSURANCe COStS $250,00 and yet Tim decides to eliminate 401ks to balance benefits costs over something that does not increase insurance costs? You have to have a significant amount of $250,000 in an insurance pool of AOL employees before that happens..one is not the number that triggers it.

@. He also cited Obamacare. Obamacare is by design to get businesses to pay healthcare for those at-risk employees in the low income brackets so that that preventive health care spent on them decreases the huge medacaid expenses seen later by THE FEDeral Government.Lets not even mention the productivity studies that state employees are more productive when not worrying about uncovered medical expenses.

Seems tome the AOL board shold remove this CEO for gross lacking of clear thinking skills

don_draper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tim Armstrong should not only resign but leave the country. We would be better off without losers like him.
Why dont software development methodologies work? typicalprogrammer.com
264 points by gregjor  1 day ago   191 comments top 61
msluyter 1 day ago 6 replies      
It's fun to watch observations like the following re-discovered again and again. From the NATO Software Engineering Conference in 1968:

Ross: The most deadly thing in software is the concept, which almost universally seems to be followed, that you are going to specify what you are going to do, and then do it. And that is where most of our troubles come from.

Fraser: One of the problems that is central to the software production process is to identify the nature of progress and to find some way of measuring it. Only one thing seems to be clear just now. It is that program construction is not always a simple progression in which each act of assembly represents a distinct forward step and that the final product can be described simply as the sum of many sub-assemblies.

(Full transcript of the 1968 conference here. http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/brian.randell/NATO/nato1968.PD... It's a really fun read!)

pnathan 1 day ago 4 replies      
In my experience, these methodologies are best described as cultish. The form of religion but not the power.

Here's my methodology.

* Figure out what the software does, what the business cares about, and what the users care about.

* Figure out what it kinda sorta needs to be under the covers

* Write prototypes of the technically gnarly bits.

* Flesh out the prototype and start writing integration/functional tests for the system.

* Ensure CI server is live, running integration/functional/unit tests and build documents on push.

* Primary work phase: code review, write tests, write code as you go along. Figure out if features are needed or not. Don't overdesign or underdesign.

* Document subsystems as they stabilize using comments and in-repo text files.

* End of project: everything is tested, documented, and working.

Rinse, repeat.

segmondy 1 day ago 3 replies      
Because it tries to fix human problems logically. Humans are not very logically creatures. We love to think we are, but most of us are very emotionally driven. Our emotion comes into play when it comes to drive, motivation, hard work, creativity, and organization. Creating software requires motivation, creativity, organization, etc. Our emotion is behind software and we simply try to manage it with software development methodologies, but that's not enough.

How many people are over weight, who know that all you have to do is eat less, work out and then you will get in shape? It's that simple. Yet because of emotions, eating due to emotion, happy eating, sad eating, or poor self image many people don't get in shape. Likewise many students understand that all you have to do to get great grades is to avoid procrastinating, just start studying on time, study hard, study more, do most of the exercises in your text book, use multiple books and you are most likely to pass with high grades, yet lots of students put it off, poor will power, delayed gratification, it's more fun to goof off.

Same things apply to software, a lot of us know exactly what it takes to make good software, to spec it out, to plan a good architecture, to write good test units, to comment and document the code, to organize the process, to avoid over optimization, to avoid changing and adding lots of new features in the middle.

Yet, a lot of us don't do that, we start writing code before we even code before we spec out, because its exciting! Our emotions in play, we don't practice that delayed gratification of holding off and writing specs. We plan to throw away this prototype, but then somehow, it ends up being what everything is built on. We plan to refactor one day, but feature creep never allows for that. We know we ought to comment, but we understand the code now and don't, then 6 months later we are cussing and kicking the wall. Test units are boring, so we write as little of it as possible.

Until we take into account that programmers are humans, with emotions and different level of discipline, motivations and abilities our software development methodologies will keep to fail us for most projects.

Just my opinion.

varelse 1 day ago 1 reply      
IMO it's all about working with smart, motivated people who can work independently without the raging ego to cross borders to expand their computational Lebensraum. I've run remote projects with old friends over 3-5 years and it's gone spectacularly well.

In contrast, I've been on SCRUMed and Agiled projects where the resulting overhead on those who can already get work done without SCRUM Master Jar Jar's constant interruptions reduces them to people who quit within a few months.

But hey, acqui-hires rock and I can't imagine a better way to drive the talent out of a stable Fortune 500 company in order to take a chance at a startup than by driving them $%!@ing crazy and reducing their productivity to jack diddly. Ah the cycle of life...

That said, I see the use of methodologies where the talent is both junior and mediocre. But the former is better addressed with good mentoring (ha ha just joking - mentoring is for wimps, am I right? am I right?) and the latter by not hiring the mediocre in the first place (which means HR needs to be disrupted stat and since they hold all the cards they won't be - cycle of life again).

mcguire 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Surprisingly, left to themselves programmers dont revert to cowboy codingthey adopt or create methodologies stricter and more filled with ritual than anything I experienced in 1980. In fact programmers today can be much more rigid and religious about their methodologies than they imagine a 1970s-era COBOL shop was. I now routinely get involved with projects developed by one or two people burdened with so much process and 'best practices' that almost nothing of real value is produced."

Sing it, brother! Can I get an "Amen"?

I know of one project with a technical lead who, to my knowledge, has never done anything other than support the vendor program the project is replacing; the team has developed a process built primarily around avoiding Subversion merges (which is not necessarily a bad thing given that they seem to actively resist learning anything about how to use Subversion) and secondarily around adopting anything anyone has ever described as a "best practice", including inventing a few new ones. So far, I do not know of anything their project actually does, although there is a great deal of it.

Oh, and their scrum meetings seem to involve the scrum master reading a fair amount of text from PowerPoint slides (which have far too much text on them).

[Edit] Apparently, I can. http://typicalprogrammer.com/why-dont-software-development-m...

jobu 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Maybe social skills come harder to programmers than to other people (Im not convinced thats true), but developing those skills will certainly pay off a lot more than trying yet another development methodology."

Like almost any other skill, "Social Skills" are developed through practice, and they also degrade when they aren't used. People that spend a majority of their time on a computer may struggle when communicating face-to-face. (I've also seen it happen with stay-at-home parents with young children.)

beat 1 day ago 0 replies      
A couple of observations. First, we tend to push to maximize potential output. That means demanding more than could actually ever be done. I've come to the conclusion that if you're writing code that meets all requirements, on time and under budget, you're simply not ambitious enough. Pristine, perfect code is a sign of customer laziness.

The software we create today is tremendously more complex than the software we created back when I started in the 1990s. Part of that is standing on the shoulders of giants (and the libraries of giants), but part of that is also process.

The amount of process required for clear, effective communication increases with the number of parties involved. Creating good interfaces between components and the teams responsible for them is really a very difficult problem. If you're working on a three person team, it's easy. If there are 30, it's much harder. If it's 100, you probably can't even know every single person involved, much less avoid stepping on each other, not without a lot of process.

So what process does is increase the potential scope of a problem above what a small team can do (mostly by breaking it down into several interacting subprojects). That's difficult, important work, even if it's outside the realm of the average HN startup's imaginations and experience.

Refefer 1 day ago 2 replies      
An important realization I made a while back was that design methodologies do little to address program correctness, which is almost always the wildcard on deliverables; buggy software means missed deadlines and budget. Some, such as TDD, work to address the rapid building of tools to a particular spec, but often fail to promote static guarantees, especially in languages and environments where such provability is largely impossible. Dynamic languages penchant for monkey (guerrilla) patching further exacerbates the problem.

Solutions to this are tough. My first suggestion would be to use languages which facilitate correctness, although it's usually at the expense of developer availability: the pool of engineers with experience and know-how in true FP is orders of magnitude smaller than more pervasive languages. My second thought is to further embrace math as the building block for non-trivial applications: mathematical proofs have real, quantifiable value in correctness. I find it no surprise that the larger companies have made foundational maths, such as category theory and abstract algebra, the underlying abstraction for their general frameworks. This is even a tougher pitch than the first since most engineers don't recognize what they're doing as math at all - a big part of the problem. So many of us are doing by feel what has already been formally codified in other disciplines.

I'm aware that both require more (not necessarily formal) education than most engineers have pursued and makes it a difficult short-term pitch point for any company, but I think if we're serious about eliminating sources non-determinism from projects, it's important we address them directly.

AndrewDucker 17 hours ago 2 replies      
The problem here is that he defines "works" as "Deliver a predictable or repeatable software development process in and of themselves."

And that's crazy. Software delivery is at least 50% design/problem solving - and those aer neither completely predictable or repeatable.

To me a software methodology works if it _improves_ delivery. If the result with the methodology is more predictable, and less likely to go horribly off the rails than if you'd used a different methodology (or none at all) then it's a good methodology.

Looking for something that can perfectly transform any human requirement into code, in a predictable manner, is just silly.

georgemcbay 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a fantastic post and I agree with it fully.

I get why process exists, I know management sees it as a way to make software development less lumpy; to bring below average teams up to average productivity, but it isn't a one way lift. Extensive process might raise the below average toward the average, but it can also lower the above average toward the average.

Twice I've seen situations where a team of better than average developers had no really well-defined process (though not surprisingly a sort of home grown process evolved to suit everyone's needs -- agile, as opposed to Agile, if you will) that was highly productive suddenly have process dropped on them from on-high in an undeniably productivity-killing way.

One time it was because higher-ups at the company randomly decided they needed to standardize on the Rational tools (ClearCase, Rose, etc... still have nightmares about that stuff) and out of that insane decision we ended up with some stupidly strictly defined RUP-based process to tie everything together.

The other was when a team was transitioned from one company to another and the other was one of those stupidly-strict "Agile" shops that fully drank the ritual kool-aid and adopted basically every suggested "Agile" strategy they could slap together without giving much thought to the actual original ideals of why "Agile" came about.

I guess the takeaway is be really selective about introducing new process. It might entirely make sense if your project is building some mostly throwaway CRUD app for an internal company department and all of your developers are, well, the kind of developers you can find who will work on such things and the project is off-track. Or even if your developers are all good, but the project is failing for other reasons like lack of cohesive vision. A little bit of process introduced sparingly might help.

But if you have a highly productive team already, don't fool yourself into thinking that because process "improves" software development that adding more of it will make your highly productive team even more productive. Because it very likely will do the opposite.

MortenK 1 day ago 0 replies      
Like the author mentions, he subscribes to the "no silver bullet" thought. Methodologies doesn't ensure project success because it's insignificant compared to the individuals involved and the scope of the product. The focus on process, is because process is easy to implement and change, giving the illusion of control.

What good project managers do is much harder than implementing a Scrum method. It's finding good people, making the hard decisions of removing the bad people and get / make a clear understanding of product scope and goals.

The last point in particular should be a well duh, but in reality it's ridiculously common to encounter projects where the PM (and hence even the customer), have a very vague understanding of what's actually being built. Those projects are guaranteed to go massively over time and budget, or being outright cancelled.

Good process is just the icing on the cake. It should be used, process alone does not make a project success.

codeulike 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because Software is inherently complex, one of the most complex things that Humans can try and make. And whenever we successfully make something easier, we push the borders out so that Software is always stretching to the limits of the complexity we can handle. Ultimately, its just hard. Sometimes methodologies help, but there is No Silver Bullet.
Consultant32452 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my own anecdotal experience I would say the team matters way more than the methodology. I've been on teams that could have been (and were) repeatedly successful on projects that ranged widely from strict agile to strict waterfall. Every single time that team pumped out good quality software reasonably on time.

I've also been on teams that were not successful no matter what methodology they used. The team just wasn't cohesive, didn't have enough talent, and/or had poor leadership.

poulsbohemian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a buddy who went through six-sigma and Toyota Production System training in his work as a Process Engineer in a large manufacturing company. When we talked about the application of methodology to an organization, he made a keen observation on human nature: "people don't like to be told what to do." To me, this goes a long way toward explaining why "conceptual integrity" matters more than a methodology, and why it is difficult to apply a methodology to a new team or company unless they discover it for themselves organically.
ilcavero 1 day ago 3 replies      
this one of the many examples of the anti-intellectualism that is so pervasive in the software development scene. Are the inflexible, detail-prescripting methodologies he describes any good? of course not, but I haven't seen a single seriously used methodology be like that in real life unless it fell on the hands of negligent/incompetent management and/or engineers.
huherto 1 day ago 2 replies      
They work, but you still need very capable people (developers, managers, product owners, etc).

Furthermore, if you have a very capable team, you may not even need a formal "Methodology".

bitL 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just twisting an old joke:Good software development methodology is like a UFO - everybody has heard of it, nobody has seen it.

Restricting a creative process into some pre-baked confines of thinking doesn't make a sense to me. Some rules are vital thought those should not get too much in the way.

I think only organically growing your rules makes sense and you've got to accept there will be situations where you have to break them or they won't allow you to adjust your strategy. Imagine a huge company that standardized on some well-tested processes/methodologies that served well in the past and were adjusted as it was growing. Staying with the same set of methodologies might kill the company's future if the structure of its workforce changes, technology moves forward, competitor has more efficient methodology for achieving returns etc. Often methodologies are used internally for political gains, pursuing promotions and power and "change agents" don't really care that much about improving efficiency, instead riding the wave of a currently cool methodology as recognized by the upper management.

njharman 1 day ago 2 replies      
> rigorous studies of software development methodologies havent been done

A simple search proves this is false. Paired with author's other unsupported and stupendous claims I have to doubt the validity and worth of anything else author says.

mnw21cam 1 day ago 0 replies      
I absolutely agree that no software development methodology is guaranteed to work. However, there are certain things that one can do to reduce the chances of embarrassing development stalls, such as proper documentation, continuous unit testing, talking to the end user, and team communication.
rubiquity 1 day ago 0 replies      
Methodologies and process aren't created to be silver bullets. It's our human nature to try and turn things into silver bullets, I would guess this is mostly due to our laziness to try and create better process on our own. Methodologies are created to solve the problem that not every team will be a star studded team with excellent communication and cohesiveness. Methodologies address the very real problem of less than perfect teams that still have goals to reach. It's about elevating the below average to the average.
jorgeleo 1 day ago 0 replies      
From my personal experience, the article nails it

"Its common now for me to get involved in a project that seems to have no adult supervision". But my bigger problem is that the youth of today seem to have a much bigger ego than the youth of yesterday.

"Once a programming team has adopted a methodology its almost inevitable that a few members of the team, or maybe just one bully, will demand strict adherence and turn it into a religion". Recently working with an off shore team, they called their tech lead literally "God". And he was pontificating procedures and styles left and right without understanding the core of the software first. He stopped when the product start to have big performances problems. One of the ones that I liked the most was his prohibition to use class indexers in C#, backed up by an example in Java.

danmaz74 1 day ago 1 reply      
Try this thought experiment: Imagine two teams of programmers, working with identical requirements, schedules, and budgets, in the same environment, with the same language and development tools. One team uses waterfall/BDUF, the other uses agile techniques.

Problem is that with agile (as I understand and mildly practice it at least) you can't have "identical requirements", because you don't have full, complete and detailed requirements upfront.

bippi 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

--Mike Tyson

joe_the_user 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the key insight of the article is how different each person is in temperament and how that comes out in programming teams.

What is interesting is why this relates to software more than, say, ditch digging or gardening.

I would say that is because software involves dealing with the most complex situation imaginable as effectively as possible. In other situations, a person only has to mobilize some of faculties, in software, a person has to mobilize all of their faculties - or at least much more of a certain type. But this shows how different people's abilities are at the limit. Not just different in extent but different in kind.

stretchwithme 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess to answer that question, you first have to define what a working methodology is supposed to accomplish.

How do you know something is developed in a timely fashion, for example? All we really have is a gut feeling.

We could implement the same project multiple times and use a different methodology each time. Then compare. But you'd want to use people who understand the methodology and care about winning the competition.

Even then, I bet if you ran that experiment with 5 different projects, there'd probably be a different outcome every time.

michaelochurch 1 day ago 0 replies      
None of it works because Waterfall and most forms of Agile both assume closed allocation, which is a bad assumption that wrecks everything. Closed allocation dooms you to prevailing mediocrity and process can only make that worse.

Most management and process exists to turn 1.0x developers into 1.2x (in theory) but turns the 10x into 3x or 2x or sometimes -2x. When you start enforcing process, closing up definitions of work, and take power away from engineers, you lose so much more off the top than you get from bringing up the bottom.

The problem is that very few executives actually want to create an inspiring place to work where people do their best. ("Fuck you, I've got mine.") They want incremental "improvements" (of questionable long-term value) on what already exists. This hand-wringing about process sounds a lot like early communism: it trudges along happily, inventing new structures, in complete ignorance of the human motivations around it.

mathattack 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a fan of repeatability and process. Here's my take on why they don't work:

1) You can't get around that things don't work as planned, and too many methodologies assume that things will.

2) It is better to have a PM with A level content and B level process, than the other way around. Professional PMs don't have the intuition to solve the daily project problems, but they're the ones selling the methodologies.

3) Too much focus on tools. Using MS Project to keep the plan doesn't work when 90% of the project doesn't know how to use it.

4) Too much change. Rather than settling on a decent methodology that everyone agrees to, companies keep re-inventing their process every few years.

5) Wrong methodology for the wrong purpose. Waterfall methodologies don't work in research. Agile methodologies aren't the "fits every project" panacea.

I can go on, but you can't enforce excellence with formality. The formality can help outstanding people achieve excellence though.

desireco42 1 day ago 1 reply      
I actually found that rapid-prototyping works best for me and I was able to deliver fairly good results using it. In fact I am starting a consultancy in month or two that will use rapid prototyping and other best practices I observed as effective.

My goal is to provide environment where clients would feel their input is steering project and they are getting results they want, also that developers and others working on a project would like clear direction and ability to show their best skills. Sounds a lot, I know.

Dirlewanger 1 day ago 2 replies      
Maybe they all don't "work" because people suck and get lazy? Things can be very pleasing when one works with developers use the planning tools and have a leader who never relents at keeping the team on track with a given methodology, all without being a bully of course. Of course it's rare in the real world, but it does happen.
tenpoundhammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like this article, and I get it. In my personal experiences, I have found that scrum is successful when it is used to reinforce a single coherent vision and to build a tight integrated team.

It does not work when its used as a magic machine of happy fun time productivity. Sprints and stories dont translate into more productivity. Focus and teamwork do.

VSpike 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I know the feeling working on a team where everyone clicks and things just get done. What I dont understand is why I had that feeling a lot more in the bad old days of BDUF and business analysts than I do now."

I suspect it's the author that has changed, not everyone else. It's probably a combination of a nostalgic bias combined with the author's increasing age making it harder to get on with a typical team of young whippersnappers.

I say this as someone who is over forty and regularly falling into the "things were better in my day" trap (although hopefully self-aware enough to see it).

digisth 1 day ago 0 replies      
The real world and its constraints have this terrible tendency to intrude on the idyllic visions imagined around software development methodologies. Budget cuts, people quitting, timelines changing every week, internal politics, sabotage, personality issues - basically everything but the "methodology" itself.

The advice often comes (including in one of the XP books) that the answer to "bad projects/people/environments that you can't change" is to get a new job; this may work at the individual level (sometimes), but it does nothing to actually fix the broken projects, environments, or people themselves.

There is indeed no silver bullet. All these decades later, and many people still refuse to accept that.

jacquesm 1 day ago 1 reply      
In a nutshell: because by the time software companies start to look for some methodology silver bullet they are already hip-deep in trouble and no amount of 'process' will fix multiple years of bad hiring decisions, bad engineering and unrealistic expectations.
DidLog 1 day ago 0 replies      
So what this article is really saying (although reluctantly it seems) is that methodologies really do work, it's just not that they're the end-all and be-all. You need to have common vision and communication that works around the team's goals and personalities. Seems to be pretty common sense to me.
zwieback 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nicely said.

One thing I found that helps a lot is to work on a product that includes EEs and MEs, e.g. not pure software. It really drove home two points:

- process can work if people actually follow it

- the craft part of engineering takes a long time to learn but software is such a young field that practitioners are distracted by shiny objects instead of focusing on learning their craft

ErikRogneby 1 day ago 4 replies      
This made me think about the book "Shop class as soul craft". Cars use to be made by hand by skilled artisans. So did software.

As with any process of production the move to change it in to a documented repeatable process complete with middle management has taken place.

j45 1 day ago 0 replies      
Methodologies alone don't guarantee success.

I find more problems when there's less focus placed on understanding the data, manually, first, before placing it into a process.

Methodologies don't make it any less important to find, connect and understand the data first, but it seems to happen way too much.

A methodology I see missing is when we developers obsessively focus on optimizing tooling and code, instead of obsessively finding and understanding the data first.

naush 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
sharemywin 1 day ago 0 replies      
1. Most important thing: do the users want the change. If not they sabotage and you fail. Users will never be happy.

2. Do you have enough experience and do they work well together, if not your mostly screwed. Right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Takes too long to train new people usually.

3. Are estimates being treated as estimates or is date,team and scope being dictated from above? project triangle anyone. Stretch goals for managers mean long nights and weekends for the team and bonuses for other companies recruiters.

4. Has management been over sold on buzz words and marketing hype?

5. Is there some kind of incentive to come in under budget. So, much for quality.

All of the above can screw up a project quick.

thearn4 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of articles or discussions with titles that beg the question.
axilmar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It all depends on the domain.

In defense applications, software development methodologies work excellently. For example, MIL-STD-498, which I've used extensively in the previous decade, has worked wonders.

taeric 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am becoming more and more convinced that the single most important part of the development process is the creative one. Seems every successful project I have seen has been one with a very well directed creative development team.

My hypothesis is that when you get engineering and management teams to try and manage out the creative aspect of most projects, things just go poorly.

qwerta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think software development methodology 'erodes' over time.

For example original waterfall was kind of similar to agile methodology, there were re-estimations, milestones, prototyping... But I never heard anyone recently saying that our presumptions were wrong and we need to re-design and re-estimate.

Agile (scrum to be specific) in many companies is practically form of micromanagement. Number of companies are using 'agile' without automated tests and other necessary tools.

jimejim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, his post is a bit inflammatory at first, but I sort of agree that processes sometimes get in the way, even the almighty Agile (big A) that some people like to subscribe to.

Ultimately, it's more about the people involved. Bad teams are going to find a way to screw themselves over no matter what process they use. Good teams don't need a rigid process since they'll just find a way to get stuff done no matter what.

phektus 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Because they only really affect the dev team. The clients are virtually exempt, which destroys any process.
penguindev 1 day ago 1 reply      
+1 for old-timer perspective and the reference to fred brooks' conceptual integrity. And to think, the MMM said most projects suffered from too weak of management _back then_.

-1 for being too short of an article; I wanted to hear better specific examples, and was sad when I saw the comment section starting :-)

anujbatra 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my experience, a methodology should help a team get work done without having to think about the various steps/stages of the work.

Large corporations like to get everything down to a standard process (typically). A software development methodology lets them do exactly that; it promises a consistent process and (hopefully) quality.

In a way this works well - small firms innovate and come up with new methodologies which may at some point get to a tipping point where everybody wants a piece of the latest craze. Not everyone is in the business of questioning what works well or why - "if the competition is going Agile or setting up a DevOps team, then it must be good for us as well"

im3w1l 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think one part of the problem is that success is extremely non-normal with a very fat tail. To separate the effect of methodology from luck, you are going to need a lot of data.
tokipin 1 day ago 0 replies      
it seems to me that iterative methodologies (like basic "agile") are an implicit acknowledgement that development methodologies don't work. periodic re-adjustments based on local circumstances are necessary because the terrain on which our current software systems rest is too unpredictable
apolloclark 1 day ago 0 replies      


I've been a web developer for 13 years. Following a specific methodology doesn't matter, as much as focusing on the important aspects of the project, which are the customers, and what difficult problem the product solves.

The funny thing is that even if a team does this, it is not guarantee of success. If the customer base is too small, or there are lots of competitors, even the best software will fail. Conversely, if the customer base is massive, and there are few competitors, even poor quality software can succeed. Luckily for the software industry, and not for consumers, most teams do not follow these guidelines with the net effect being a TON of poor quality software.

Obviously here, Stackoverflow, and various other programmer focused sites, it's common to focus only on the coding side of the equation. The reality is that the best software comes from the collaboration between customers, designers, programmers, testers, usability experts, and sales. When each group brings their strengths to the table and focus on a common goal and solution, everyone wins. However it's very rare, since often the programmers are seen as the builders, the designers as the painters, testers as a nice to have, usability as a fad, and sales as being helpless.

To clarify a bit: design != usability, functional != usable. A beautiful design does not mean usable, look at the very confusing swipe action based calculators on iPhone. Functional is an auditorium with 20+ projects, usable is having the specific video cable dongle.

mheiler 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Summary: No article containing the word "methodology" is worth reading. Instead, spend time talking and listening and understanding exactly which problem you need to solve.
ss1111 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree mostly with the article. The most important thing about any team is its people and their individual & team dynamic. 2nd is motivation to make the project a success.

3rd or possibly lower is the methodology used. The methodology's main purpose in my opinion is to align everyone's working style to milestones, it doesnt reveal anything about whether the project will succeed, only how we will approach it.

DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of issues layered in here, a bunch of complexity that might not be obvious just by scanning the article.

Does a good team deliver solid, quality code? What if it's code the user doesn't want? Conversely, what if the team excels at delivering what the user wants, and they love it, but the code is so buggy that it only works 50% of the time? Would that be better than a solid app the user hates? (Probably yes)

Should a team working inside a large company deliver faster than the organization is able to accept change?

Just what is a good project, anyway? One in which we all had a good time and thought we did a great job? Or one in which the person paying us thought we were awesome?

No matter the criteria, everybody seems to agree that having good people is something like 70-80% of the secret. The big debate is what goes into that other 20-30%

ADD: An interesting thought experiment to play here is to posit that the team sucks -- wrong guys, wrong personalities, whatever. In that case, what would you want to happen? The answer to that should be an important part of whatever you want your process to be. Explicitly define your failure mode. (Because failure is still more often the norm than success in software development)

shizzy0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Workification, tricking people into doing useless work by making it seem productive and unfun.
graycat 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course they don't work. You expected something else?
fmdud 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think one large problem is that no matter which new-age dev methodology you're into, if you're working to an incomplete spec it won't matter.
jeffcaijf 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Form a good team is more important than choosing a methodology.
moron4hire 1 day ago 1 reply      
This would rather much be like a carpentry shop owner lamenting "why don't either electric circular saws OR handsaws work to make my mediocre workforce produce beautiful furniture without all of this wasted wood?"

First of all, creating beautiful furniture takes LOTS of time, as it rests in attention to detail and an uncompromising position towards quality. When you're uncompromising about quality, you require yourself to throw out, to waste, things that are of lesser quality.

Second of all, beginner, poorly trained, and dispassionate employees are never going to produce beautiful furniture. Mostly because of the above: they either lack the ability or the caring to have the attention to detail necessary to do great work.

And the best carpenters aren't going to come work for you unless you're willing to make it worth their time. Coming to work for you means they will have to do a lot more work in a much less comfortable environment than they are used to. Because the best carpenters have their own shop, their own tools, and work on their own time, because they love it. Going anywhere that is not their own setup is automatically worse for them.

It's the same thing in software: great software takes patience, it takes time, and it takes money to convince the best programmers that they should be spending their time on you rather than on themselves.

But at no point does any of that mean that, because Tool X can't magically turn your mediocre working into a stellar one, that means that Tool X is not worth studying. That is completely, 100% backwards. The master practitioner studies all tools, even the ones he or she doesn't like, at the very least to understand what is wrong with them and why they don't produce the results they want. A master carpenter might prefer a hand saw over an electric one because the electric saw chips the corners of the board too easily, or something. But he doesn't know that unless he's studied the electric saw.

You can't have "an absence of methodology" any more than a wood shop can have "an absence of tools". It has to be there. But they all have their pros and cons, and non of them has a pro that includes "makes men out of mice."

webkike 1 day ago 1 reply      
Because, in the end, no one actually knows how to write software.
stcredzero 1 day ago 0 replies      
pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not the methodology; it's the people.

Been around long enough to observe 100% correlation, extensively.

And it's a small minority who are competent.

Flappy Bird by the Numbers zachwill.com
258 points by zachwill  2 days ago   143 comments top 33
blackhole 2 days ago 14 replies      
What disturbs me most about this is the complete lack of empathy people have for the guy. Just look at the comments on the link explaining that Flappy Bird was removed from the app store.

Our culture is so completely and utterly obsessed with money that everyone says he's an idiot for taking down an app without realizing the chaos one goes through in a situation like that. They hurl insults like "weak" and "fragile" as though someone isn't allowed to be shy ever since the internet happened. The sheer amount of greed on display in debates about this game is deeply unnerving, and it seems as though modern culture has forgotten that there are many things that are more important than money. It seems as though our entire country is hopelessly addicted to accumulating more and more pieces of green paper, only to be puzzled when having a large number in their bank account fails to actually solve any of their problems.

gabemart 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think the story of this game exemplifies the fact that content needs a minimum amount of attention to reveal it's true value.

The journey of Flappy Bird appears to me like this:

Stage 1: Almost no attention, almost no growth

Stage 2: Some kind of grey market paid downloads / ratings service

Stage 3: Attention of minimum critical mass of early consumers (increase in audience of 1 or perhaps 2 orders of magnitude)

Stage 4: Attention of influencers on other platforms, especially pewdiepie on youtube (increase in audience by a couple of orders of magnitude)

Stage 5: Attention by large community of enthusiasts (increase in audience by a couple of orders of magnitude)

Stage 6: Mass market attention

where each stage is dependent on the one before it, with the exception of stage 2, which is performed externally.

What's interesting to me is that the qualities the game possesses, which were sufficient to carry it from stage 3 to stage 6 without promotion on the part of the dev, were not sufficient to propel it from stage 1 to stage 3. We could say that the true quality of the game was unknown in stage 1.

My personal opinion is that the vast majority of content created languishes in the equivalent of stage 1 for its particular ecosystem. Of this content, the vast majority will be garbage, a small minority will be reasonable and a tiny minority will have the potential to be a widespread hit. But of this last group, most or all of it will never emerge from stage 1 because stage 1 does not provide it with enough attention to separate it from the rest of the (bad) stage 1 content.

Increasingly I think that the journey to stage 1 to stage 3 is the most important, most difficult and most overlooked part of the progression.

For example, when something is submitted to HN, from my anecdotal observation it will typically get something like 5-10 simultaneous visitors from the new page. If it gets a minimum critical mass of votes to hit the front page, this will increase immediately to something like 50-100 simultaneous viewers and increase from there. But often, it only takes 3-5 upvotes for it to hit the front page. So the relatively trivial actions of the small critical mass of early consumers has an extraordinarily large effect on the dissemination of the content. Indeed, as a content creator, it's often struck me that the actions of those first 3-5 people have an equivalent significance, in terms of the world's experience of my content, to me as the creator.

And if you create good content, then just getting to the front page is by far the most difficult part of the process, because once there you will naturally attract upvotes from the vastly increased exposure. But with only a few random bits of cosmic entropy set differently, the creator could create exactly the same content, fail to get those first 3-5 votes, and the number of views on the article/app/etc. could be 10 rather than 10,000 or 100,000.

In my experience, lots of platforms follow the same model. Reddit is a very obvious one, but the same holds to for trying to get press interest: so much depends upon the decisions of a few key journalists, and that decision may depend on how many other emails hit their inbox that hour, or whether or not they've had their coffee yet, or some other particle of background entropy. This isn't a criticism of the press, it's just a consequence of the current system. The same is true for people who run influential blogs or social media accounts with large followings, or newsletters.

The problem is that there is less attention available per item of content than the minimum quantity of attention needed to rate the quality of that content well. When I create something new, my worry is never "Boy, I hope that people don't simply dislike this," it's always "Boy, I hope that enough people see this to give it a shot of achieving its potential, whatever that turns out to be." If it turns out people don't like it, which is of course always a possibility, that's fairly easy to handle. If it disappears into obscurity, that's much more difficult to accept.

When I create content now, my promotion strategy is 99% focused on that first stage. If it reaches that critical mass of attention among a small number of early, influential people, I feel like my job is done and the chips should fall as they may. If it reaches that initial critical mass, people will want to write press stories about it and post it on social media and ask for interviews and tell their friends about it, assuming its any good. This may be an obvious conclusion, but the interesting part, for me, is that the initial critical mass is much smaller, much more random and much more difficult to achieve than most people realize.

antics 2 days ago 3 replies      
What's interesting about a by-the-numbers account of Flappy Bird's success is how starkly apparent the weaknesses of the app store model of surfacing and distributing apps seem to be in retrospect. Think about it: the app store organizes apps almost exactly like web directories organized websites in the 90's -- there are human-curated catalogs, and a single store acts as a directory for essentially all known apps. It's like Yahoo! was in 1994.

Considering that Flappy Bird was made popular by power users on other platforms (particularly YouTube), I think that this point is really important: the app store is probably not the best platform to surface new apps.

A good exercise for entrepreneurs is to think of a better model. If anything, the success of Flappy Bird is one hell of an incentive to find out.

(Also: if you have ideas about this, like me, we should have a chat.)

forrestthewoods 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find the endless accusations of a bot network quite tiring. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. Either way there is zero evidence to support such a claim. My favorite part of this whole saga is from the polygon article.

Nguyen via Twitter: "Press people are overrating the success of my games. It is something I never want. Please give me peace."Polygon: "We've reached out to Nguyen for comment and will update accordingly."

Good job everyone. Good job.

corresation 2 days ago 2 replies      
Some externals that had a huge influence on Flappy Bird are Vine and then a couple of huge play along YouTubers (such as "pewdiepie"). I made the analogy before that Flappy Bird is the 2 girls 1 cup of games, and while I saved myself from ever seeing that video, it became famous in reaction videos. Exactly the same thing happened with Flappy Bird, first on Vine in early January, and then as the mega-YouTubers picked it up in late January. It was likely pewdiepie who yielded the enormous uptick at the end of January.
arn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bad/Funny Flappy Bird reviews became a meme on its own: http://www.thechocolatelabapps.com/is-twitter-the-fuel-behin...

So I don't know if it's as simple to suggest it was a pay-for-review scheme, but rather just its own thing.

Same thing happened on Amazon milk reviews:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/technology/09milk.html

Mikeb85 2 days ago 3 replies      
I get it. Here you have a developer who just wanted to make games, and maybe a bit of money. He creates a hit, by accident, with a game that has addicting gameplay (and it is, I personally love it).

Then everyone in the media calls his game crap and accuses him of cheating the system (without producing any proof). I'd quit too.

midhir 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few years ago I'd a much more humble experience with virality.

I'd decided to hack off a quirky part of a project I was working on into a jQuery plugin and make a landing page for people to play with it.

Nobody went to it. For months. Like not one person. It's still online today, although I've obviously broken the plugin at some point [1].

Months later my jaw hit the floor when I woke up to an inbox full of emails about this thing. The page had had thousands upon thousands of hits. Not from Belfast, but from NY and SF. It had been featured on a ton of blogs, discussions etc, all in the 6 hours or so I'd been asleep. Traffic had peaked, but it kept coming.

A friend we hadn't seen in a while called into our little co-working space to tell me "that thing you put on Hacker News" had been on the front page for hours. I'd never even heard of HN at this point!

There was no rhyme nor reason to any of this. The page had been available for months. All I can surmise is that something lit the touchpaper that started a chain reaction. And that I've a lot to learn about how virality works and what makes it function.

It makes me wonder did he really engage in some grey market stuff to push Flappy Bird a little. I kind of wonder why he would fork out for something like that when the precedent would indicate he wasn't onto a winner with this game.

In retrospect we know he had a great game, the potential for serious chain-reaction style virality was there, maybe the spark that lit the touch-paper was something innocuous that no-one would ever guess?

[1]: http://opensource.rotify.com/wormhole/

rismay 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know if I agree with this. I was just talking to my friend about Flappy Bird reviews. When I first got Flappy Bird in early February, the button to rate the game was in the same place where I usually tapped to make the bird fly. Since the "Rate this App" button appeared so quickly after losing the game, I almost rated the app like 5 times in just a couple of minutes. I would like to see the different versions of the app and when this feature / bug was introduced.
overgard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flappy Bird is pretty much the definition of a black swan. I hope people don't take too much away from it other than: huh, that's weird.
JabavuAdams 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think people are unwilling to accept luck as an explanation. This might especially be true for the HN audience, because so many of us work so hard hoping to have a success like this.
cognivore 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a good example of the "Lemming Economy" that mobile phones have created, and which I cannot heap on enough derision.

The Lemming Economy follows a model where dozens upon dozens up near pointless applications are created in an attempt find just something that will get enough momentum to drive an ever increasing number of lemmings over the cliff (purchase). Upon succeeding more lemmings scramble to create copy-cats of the game to cash in on the stampede. There's no point except to try and generate cash out of they prevailing whims of the lemmings.

This model neither creates a viable business model (because you can't rely on quality equaling sales) nor useful software (because that doesn't drive the lemmings over the cliff).

Maybe Flappy Birds isn't horrible, I don't know. But the developer obviously didn't like getting caught in the stampede and all of a sudden getting exposed to the general population. I would have taken down the app, too.

ja27 1 day ago 1 reply      
So removing the app from the store doesn't turn off the ad revenue unless he kills his ad account. Removing it could be kind of a shrewd way to boost downloads one last time before people move on.
cliveowen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the main lesson here is that the App Store isn't immune to the bias that plagues most online communities, namely that suddenly popular content benefits from its high position in the system (be that a forum board or section of the App Store) and then it skyrockets as people trust the often naive equation number of users=quality. This either creates successful franchises or an endless stream of one-hit wonders that perpetuates the winner-takes-all mechanism we all have come to know. An ideal system would surface quality content while ensuring equal footing for up-and-comers and wannabe competitors. It looks to me that the answer lies in a complex ranking algorithm that makes heavy use of statistical analysis instead of a set of unproven assumptions and a devil-may-care attitude toward keeping things simple to meet the lowest expectations and nothing more.
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the most interesting part of this is what the author points out: this is a story about a normal developer riding one hell of a roller-coaster.

On top of that, let's face it: the game ain't that much. It's not like there was some special secret sauce he put in there. I can guarantee you that there are another 1000+ games out there just as simple and playable as flappy bird out there.

So this story, aside from the marketing moves (which I would love to find out about as long as my best 40K other HN friends do not at the same time), is just about winning the lottery. Guy writes app, wins the lottery.

This kind of lottery keeps poor schmucks writing apps for walled garden playstores. You get ten thousand people slaving away over little apps, each one hoping to be this guy. He's the guy in the casino who hits on the slots. The casino definitely wants to make sure all the rubes see the pile of money he gets.

1337biz 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most interesting question to me is what is you guys' experience with seeding app store reviews?

It seems that it definitely worked in that case (any many maybe more we don't know about). Are there some white hat review services, with people that actually download the app? Or is it all just black bot spammer'y?

api 2 days ago 0 replies      
This illustrates an important point:

Information costs nothing to replicate, but it's attention that is the great scarce commodity of the information age. I expect to see extreme escalation in the sophistication of methods for getting peoples' attention in the coming years.

frou_dh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flappy Bird's the first app with onscreen banner advertising I've happened upon for years and my god it's disgusting to have these crappy looking ads constantly sliding onto the top of the screen. I sincerely hope paid or otherwise bankrolled apps continue to be prevalent.
kevando 2 days ago 0 replies      
The nerd in me is curious about factors that lead to higher scores. With so many data points, I'd love to see how android vs iphone users scored and if the color of flappy (or "time of day") had any impact on your score. Or how many other people popped a bottle of champagne when they reached level 6...
j_m_b 1 day ago 1 reply      
If "getting famous" is such a devastating thing for an app developer, quit making games for popular devices. There is plenty of scientific computing projects that are far more interesting and have tiny audiences... lack of fame surely awaits you!
josephlord 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most important number about Flappy Bird is 4.

From dying you can be back flying again in less than 4 seconds and be back at the first obstacle in less than 8 seconds. There are many games that should learn from that.

rexreed 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the linked article, the writer claims that by using AdMob, he left $1M on the table... I'm curious - where does this claim come from? The fact that he could have sold the app? Or is there a different untapped revenue stream?
fhd2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't hate the guy, but what does get me is that some unethical paid download service and a whole lot of luck seemed to be the deciding factors for success, certainly not the game's quality. I wonder if it's gonna get better or worse in the near term. Pretty discouraging if you make games.
yeukhon 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really doubt anyone really got 9999. Not being cynical but what is the odd of so many ppl getting that thigh score?
quasarj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting article.. but I'd be careful about scraping anything from iTunes. This could easily be classified as wire fraud in the US (and there is already precedent with someone being convicted).
stasy 2 days ago 0 replies      
But the question is, what did he do in December that jump started his downloads? Or, if he didn't do anything, what happened that started the rise in downloads/reviews?
liamsalcido 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel that instead of taking the game down he could use the money that he was getting from the game and give it to charity. That way he could still live the simple life that he wanted while doing something positive as well.
wnevets 2 days ago 0 replies      
Im convinced more people talk about this game than actually play it.
FollowSteph3 1 day ago 0 replies      
What was his marketing experiment?
mromanuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obviously, this is the ultimate conclusion:

1. Make Flappy Bird2. 3. Profits

kimonos 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love Flappy Bird. Period.
jsonmez 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would guess there was done kind of foul play and Apple said cut that out, here is a check for x amount of dollars. Just take the app down and let's forget about this.
jbeja 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be honest like realy honest, i couldn't careless. The guy was making more money than me and given my current situation, i can't feel not even the most tiny drop of empathy for him. Don't even like the game.
Sony sells its waterproof mp3 player inside a bottle of water thenextweb.com
245 points by mafuyu  12 hours ago   114 comments top 24
visakanv 11 hours ago 4 replies      
"Though the device itself was launched a while ago, Sony turned to Auckland-based ad agency DraftFCB to help market the product in New Zealand. And so they came up with the Bottled Walkman, which is sold from vending machines in public places such as gyms. Check out the demo video for yourself."

That's what's most interesting to me. Have we heard from anybody who's actually bought the player from a vending machine? This seems to me to be one of those cases where you don't actually need to do it to get the marketing value from it- all you need is to make a video of the idea. It's a more sophisticated form of "This Ad Was Banned!!"

I could be totally wrong, of course.

EDIT: To clarify, I'm saying I don't think Sony's actually selling their walkmans in bottles of water, they just made a video of the idea of it. Can anbody disconfirm this?

basseq 11 hours ago 9 replies      
Impactful packaging, but seems gimmicky. Also, think about it from a supply chain perspective: water is heavy. Conservatively, assume the mp3 player in normal packaging is about a pound. 16oz of water is going to double that. And distribution channels for consumables is completely different from electronics. I can't imagine this is going to be widespread.
snake_plissken 11 hours ago 9 replies      
I'll hand it to Sony, they can come up with some sweet marketing campaigns.

On a side note, do a lot of people really listen to music while swimming? In college I used to do 30 minutes of laps in the pool a couple times a week. I liked doing it precisely because you couldn't listen to music and you'd have to focus on keeping good form. It was just you and the water.

wubbfindel 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this what they call "immersive marketing"?
mhb 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Why doesn't this have the same legal issues as Kinder Eggs? Maybe the watch in bottled water also can't be sold in the US?


sspiff 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I looked at getting one of these for the holidays, but it seems they're not held firmly into your ears during swimming sessions, according to reviews. Nice marketing though.
swatkat 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like it's become a recurring theme at Sony. They had kept Xperia Z demo phones and tablets under running tap water, at their outlets in Bangalore.
josh-wrale 11 hours ago 0 replies      
(satire)... "Warning: plastic in Walkman contains lead in California"

... I wouldn't drink the water.

NAFV_P 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A few weeks ago my mate grabbed his Sony smartphone (I cannot recall the actual model since I'm clueless about smartphones), started recording a video, then threw it in the dog's water bowl. Great ten second video, including distorted sound.

Water ? lame. What about vodka? At times like this I will side with General Ripper from Dr Strangelove. He never drank water, because the commies were poisoning it to pacify the West.

iamben 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What an excellent concept. Reminded me of the '80s(?) when the waterproof Timex (or was it Casio?) was displayed in fishtanks - you immediately knew what the product was capable of, as well as it becoming one of those "guess what I saw earlier" things.
Luc 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh for fuck's sake, it's not even a product, it's an ad for an ad agency. What a waste of time.

But apparently HN commenters are not immune to being fooled...

tommyd 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Really cool idea, although a friend pointed out that a very similar idea has already been done for watches: http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2013/6/13/festina-watches-div...
dublinben 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it worked. Waterproof MP3 players have been around for a decade, but the average consumer probably doesn't know that.
bhartzer 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If you bought this at a gym, would you drink the water that it came in?
judk 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Reminds of the famous story about a Sony exec throwing a device in a fish tank and seeing bubbles.
pratkar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Gimmicky - yes.

But the larger question is whether the water is actually potable, it being in vending machines after all!

ck2 10 hours ago 4 replies      
How do they keep bacteria from growing on it inside the water?
SixSigma 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a Sony hardware fan and I would have bought this device in a heartbeat if it didn't have such awful battery life. It would be perfect on my bike rides but I ride all day, not less than an hour.

Happily I have a Sony mp3 player with 30 hours from a single charge.

pasbesoin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The water is so the rootkits grow better.

(In other words, I don't buy Sony products any more, since they insisted upon rootkitting their customers' computers some years ago.)

kimonos 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Perfect idea for me!
chenster 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I want one!
rdudek 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting marketing tactic. Is that water drinkable?
ohearb 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely going to grab a lot of attention, but a bad idea other than that. Too costly and impractical.
qwoeiu 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Fuck sony, from that blog I just found out about fan-made Robocop remake: http://ourrobocopremake.com/

How could I miss that?

Why Indie Developers Go Insane jeff-vogel.blogspot.com
245 points by jaimebuelta  15 hours ago   83 comments top 19
Arjuna 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Jeff is spot on in his blog post.

To make an analogy, Dong Nguyen essentially tapped into the modern-day equivalent of Pac-Man Fever. In the 80s, it swept the world, to the tune of billions of dollars. It was the highest-grossing arcade game ever produced. People simply loved the game, and they couldn't get enough of clearing boards of dots, power-pellets and ghosts.

Most people probably knew nothing about who made the game, with the small exception of the corporate names on the game (e.g., Namco/Midway). Certainly, I suspect only the hardcore few would be able to name the programmer of Pac-Man, Shigeo Funaki. And I suspect that no one blinked their eyes in disdain when they saw the news reports of Pac-Man's financial success.

In a similar way, Flappy Bird took very simple game-play, and combined it with a simple challenge. This is, of course, not the first game to do this, but it took off so successfully that I suspect that a very high percentage of gamers have it installed, and even some non-gamers could likely brand-identify the game, or have at least heard of it. The power of the Internet has made Nguyen's name known, and quite sadly in some circles, despised for his financial success.

No one bemoaned Pac-Man's programmer, or Namco/Midway's success, but fast-forward from the 80s to today, and you get gems like this article [1] and its intellectual lamenting with, "[...] I begrudge a society that would turn it into a phenomenon."

I suspect that the author would have said the same about Pac-Man.

Casual games like Flappy Bird do not prevent someone from playing, say, EVE Online, to their heart's content. And, what if you just happen to like both types of games? I guess you are a real outcast at that point; a non-intellectual. To put it another way, just because you intellectually eschew casual games and choose instead to rock, say, Steel Battalion with a full-on controller [2] doesn't mean that you are necessarily leading the upliftment of society.

Fortunately, there is a game in the world for every gamer.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/02/03/flappy-bir...

[2] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Steel_Ba...

patio11 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Read this, despite the title. It describes truths about public creation generally, and should be of particular interest to HNers who dream of going into indie game development.
antirez 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Whatever is the reality about Flappy Bird, it is inconceivable for me that at the same time an IT world that is incredibly capitalist, interested in big earnings, VC moneys, and where success is measured in rounds and exits, at the same time, can't accept that: 1) A simple game can earn 50k and is deserved, if people like the game. 2) That there is no need to search at any cost some hidden reason to remove the game. 3) That one does not need to get insane and/or break to go away from money.
prawks 13 hours ago 2 replies      
For anyone who this article interested, I highly recommend watching Indie Game: The Movie. To say the least, it was eye-opening for me, as someone who hasn't put much creative work in the public space in any very visible way.

It's incredibly humanizing to see these people who built indie games that I enjoy greatly go through the amount of stress that they do, all over pieces of software that most people rarely blink an eye at.

It's also completely understanding when people like Phil Fish or Don Nguyen quit the industry. It takes a certain mindset, and I don't think people who start making games for the fun of expressing themselves fully realize it at first.

krmmalik 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not a developer and I've never put something together like this, however, having spent some time in the far east in my teen years and early twenties I know what it can be like when you become 'famous' or rich overnight. You can get a lot of unwanted attention, that may even put your family in actual threat of harm and danger. That is not a nice feeling and makes it very hard to sleep at night and even think during the day.

I really feel for this guy. I don't know what it's like in Vietnam, but given it's part of the far east, I wouldn't be surprised if he's had death threats and similar. Fame and riches don't necessarily lead to a happier life in these places, you need power along with it too.

That said, it's entirely possible that it has nothing to do with the any threat of actual harm and danger from external forces but just the barrage of envy, criticism and perhaps unwarranted attention. That's a problem that can be fixed.

If there are any indie developers out there that ever find them in such a bind or position, I'm making this plain and simple offer to you all. Please feel free to reach out to me. I'll help you work through it. I've helped plenty others in similar situations, and ultimately it's all about just 'getting out of your own shell' for want of a better phrase - and I can help you do that.

Hope that helps if anyone is reading this. Contact details in my profile.

philbarr 13 hours ago 5 replies      
This might be niave of me, but couldn't he just accept his $50,000 a day and simply not read the hate he was getting? It's not like he has to go on the computer every day - he could just do something else for a couple of weeks (at the most) until it all dies down and be $mucho better off.

I spent longer than the three days he's supposed to have spent on my latest game[1] and I would love a response like he's got.

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.simplyappe...

kyro 12 hours ago 0 replies      
When you understand that the majority of people out there are followers, cannot be bothered to risk making anything on their own, are in constant search of leaders to tell them what to say and believe, and take the lowest-effort path to approval and attention (eg sensationalist simple-minded criticism), and that there are others out there who are aware of this and exploit it (eg bloggers), and that all this is the norm and has been, you'll be better prepared to deal with, or better, ignore the haters.

People are lazy and selfish and will do whatever it takes to satisfy both behaviors.

klrr 12 hours ago 3 replies      
After reading /r/gamedev on Flappy Bird I got quite disgusted by their community. I hope doesn't represent the whole game development community. They seriously compared Flappy Bird to more in-depth games and took its success as some kind of threat without even realizing that short and addictive entertainment does sell. You can't compare Flappy Birds to "bigger" games, it just doesn't make sense. Flappy Birds is an amazing game in its own right.
ses 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This article definitely rings true. As someone who has published a few apps in the past, not even games, 90% of feedback received was negative and completely nonconstructive. It takes a while to realise it is nothing to do with the quality of your work or in most cases at all related. Regardless due to the low volume of downloads I received I responded to every single email or comment requesting more constructive feedback and mostly never got a response. In some cases I actually managed to help users with the ways they were using the apps which gave me a good sense of satisfaction, but mostly it was a complete waste of time. In one instance I really regretted replying as it just encourages further abuse.

Looking back all I can say is I can sympathise with anyone who has this problem and would also like to note weirdly I've never had the same experience with web apps. I can only assume the demographic of usage and ease of commenting on and contacting developers of mobile apps/games affects the feedback and comments you get.

mcv 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This makes me want to start a blog to share and mock all the irrational hatred I'll receive if I ever make a successful app.

I'm not sure if that'd actually be a good idea, but there are so many trolls out there getting a hardon from sending despicable threats from a position of anonimity and non-accountability, that I think exposing those creeps somehow would be a public service.

vanderZwan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> One angry message has more effect than ten friendly ones.

This is something more people need to be aware of in general: these kind of messages are processed by two entirely different mental systems that do not cancel each other out, with the negative emotions having a much larger relative weight because they evolved out of the "avoiding things that kill you" mechanisms, which is kind of a big deal in evolutionary terms.

snake_plissken 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If they go insane or experience serious anxiety, it's because some of the players are nit-wit jerks who feel the need to disparage, insult and threaten the developers on forums and social media outlets, and sometimes in real life.

Seriously (in the case of the Nguyen [1]), threatening a game developer of a (arguably) very mundane and free game because the dev decided it's not worth his time nor is the game's popularity aligned with his moral imperatives? This type of shit GRINDS my gears.

[1] - http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/02/at-height-of-popularit...

yawz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't get the "everyone is a critic these days" argument.

We are entitled to our own opinions. As long as the opinions are expressed in a non-insulting manner, we have the right to utter them. We don't need a PhD, we don't need somebody's permission, we don't need to be rich, tall, fat, etc.

Remain polite but don't refrain from saying what you think!

Fuxy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a shame the developer was doing quite good with "Flappy Birds" he should probably re-consider taking it off the genie is already out of the bottle and taking it off now would not change anything.

Fuck it dude it doesn't matter just ignore anything relating to it it will go away eventually.

Give it time the internet has a short attention span. They'll see something more shiny soon enough.

baldfat 13 hours ago 9 replies      
I claim that there is MUCH MORE to this Flappy Bird story then his feelings were hurt so bad he left $50,000 a day.

The on going rumor is he bought reviews and that he was found out. The hammer from Apple and Google was going to come down, but now he can save face and come out with a game a few months later with clean reviews.

Glad the programer was able to make $1,500,000 so far it seems. Maybe he just retired and is going to enjoy life, I hope this is the real answer.

DanBC 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Dong an don nguyen are commen namesSo I bet the knife maker loves the extra hits.
jrgnsd 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it ironic that a guy with the surname vogel (the German and Dutch word for bird) writes about Flappy BIRD.
loup-vaillant 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> Nobody gets out of this world alive.

No kidding

robodale 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes because indie developers lead such horribly unique lives. Another pompous piece of shit Jeff Vogel calls his blog. Get off your ivory tower. People go nuts every day and every place.
Bitcoin Exchanges Under Massive and Concerted Attack coindesk.com
235 points by qwerty69  9 hours ago   174 comments top 22
nwh 8 hours ago 6 replies      
It's interesting to watch actually, submit a transaction to the network at the moment and there's a rogue node that will mess with the padding of the signatures and rebroadcast it faster than the original. It confuses the reference client into duplicate display, which is what Gox is relying on for the failed/success display. That they're winning races over the normal related transactions isn't that unnatural as the transaction processing stuff has a 100ms sleep() in the middle of it.
zacinbusiness 8 hours ago 6 replies      
I've not bought in to Bitcoin yet. It just seems like a massive, world-wide scam to me. I'm not saying that it is a scam, I'm just saying that Bitcoin is something that I don't really understand, and so I don't entirely trust it.

That said, this event is extremely encouraging. Not only is the security and the viability of the currency being tested. But more importantly, the communication and cooperation between the major players in the Bitcoin ecosystem is being tested. And so far, the community is kicking ass.

To me that signals that perhaps Bitcoin really is a viable currency for the long term, and that it may really be a great way to think about money and value exchange.

rtpg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In another thread, there's a comment that kinda explains what is happening exactly, in a nice analogy https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7219266
pistle 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Day one: Slander the biggest exchange and hang your neck out calming the entrenched. "They are amateurs. This is that exchange's problem. $1000 is but days away."

Day two: Uhh... "Stay calm. This is just the expression of that non-issue looking like an issue. We know what we're doing."

Bitcoin has, generally, intrinsic crash protection right now. The price can't plummet if you can't find trading partners. Nobody really knows the price. The dotcom crash was from lofty to zero. As the price eats through panic sell thresholds, pants are shat. At least with commodities, people can point to the ones that went to 0 and stayed there. Since it hasn't happened with bitcoin, people can still sing the "it always bounces back" tune.

I've kicked the dead horse of stability. I've hinted at liquidity issues, but this is a grave lack of liquidity. The only thing left is any belief that there is value. If that starts to deteriorate due to the other issues, poof

JohnTHaller 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Didn't coindesk just report yesterday that the 'transaction malleability problem' that MtGox was worried about was already known and a non-issue?
mschuster91 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny: everyone said "oh, gox is stupid, no one else is affected"... one and a half days later, all those are proven wrong.

Not to be an excuse for the consistent problems with MtGox, but everyone who is affected by the current DDoS attacks should just shut the f..k up.

plg 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Is the real goal of these attacks perhaps to drive down the price temporarily, so that the attackers can purchase at a discount, and then sell shortly afterwards when the price goes back up?
iblaine 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Didnt this same thing happen in April 2013? Somehow a DDOS attack drove the price from $250 to $75. Then it went back up. My guess is the same thing happens here. Two years ago people used to bitch when the price dipping below $15. Here it is at $650. A week is not complete unless someone claims to be witnessing the demise of bitcoin.
ChuckMcM 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Marks another interesting step toward maturity of the concepts of crypto currency. It is interesting to watch this in the context of other technologies (like air travel) which went from novelty to everyday thing, albeit through a series of 'events' which at times seemed likely to doom the idea.
yetfeo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The reason why exchanges and other software are having trouble with malleable transactions is not due to bad software using transaction ids. It's an edge case with the reference bitcoin client. See: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1xm49o/due_to_activ...

Basically the reference client allows an edge case where it allows spending an unconfirmed output if that output was generated by the wallet itself as change. This can form a chain of unconfirmed transactions. When the malleable bot modifies the original one they all become invalid. The reference client does not handle this case well, it gets balances wrong, and clogs the wallet up.

It's unfortunate that Mt Gox got a lot of heat for calling out the issue from the foundation and core developers saying that malleability was known and wasn't a bit issue. in fact it is an issue due to this edge case in the reference client.

fredsted 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This will make them only stronger. Bitcoin is not going anywhere.
arasmussen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of people are viewing this as a bad thing, hence the BTC price sliding. If BTC is going to become a global currency then exchanges and banks better be prepared for this kind of stuff. After fixing this issue, I doubt many companies will make the same mistake in the future.

Better to get these bugs out of the way now than in two years when market cap is much greater.

smrtinsert 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The most fascinating thing about this whole process is watching the btc community try to keep it moving. As someone who doesn't know anything about digital currencies, this seems like one of the first major tests of an philosophy of unregulation.
kbar13 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this why I saw a bunch of super small incoming transactions to my coinbase wallets that then promptly disappeared?
mark_l_watson 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I have no proof what so ever, this is just a conjecture: there are powerful government and private entities who profit from manipulating the current monetary system. I have to ask: is it unreasonable that state actors would try to crash Bitcoin out of self interest?
snake_plissken 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What was the intent of including something like transaction malleability in the Sotahsi client?
ck2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Massive attack requires massive resources.

Maybe foreign government? Heck, domestic government?

zcarter 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the asymmetry in the difficulty market participants have with selling (and withdrawal in fiat, in a timely manner) or shorting bitcoin, as compared to the effort involved in buying bitcoin, any news is bullish news. This should hold generally and is not specific to publicity about the attack.

Assuming equal reach for would-be-sellers and would-be-buyers, more buyers are capable of expressing their opinion in the market than are sellers.

keyme 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Setting up a rogue node that messes with all transactions is the best way of hurrying a proper fix to the protocol that will also be deployed ASAP and accepted by everyone!
cordite 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like the whole bitcoin community is immature.
smrtinsert 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Someone should pen the next James Bond story around Digital currency manipulation. What a fascinating world.
gesman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
135 new currencies at Stripe stripe.com
234 points by Tarang  12 hours ago   130 comments top 24
crazygringo 11 hours ago 6 replies      
Holy shamoly! This is incredible! I'm actually checking to make sure it's not Apr 1. I'm beyond-amazed at the sheer breadth of this list. I mean, PayPal itself only supports 20-odd currencies, I think.

I mean, the Brazilian Real? Literally almost no payment processors support that. And believe me, I've looked for them.

This is amazing news.

(As a side question, if anybody from Stripe is listening here: how exactly is this done -- via partnerships with local banks, or via dynamic currency conversion? I ask because, in the case of DCC, you will find that there are big problems involved with Brazil specifically, and many legitimate transactions will be refused. Brazil is a very special case, and calling the BRL a supported currency could mean very many different things.)

sanswork 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is excellent timing I was literally just this past week looking into switching to a different processor to get access to the local currencies in a few potential markets.

Very excited.

dylandrop 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Where are the currency codes? I couldn't find a list on https://support.stripe.com/questions/in-which-currencies-can...

In either case, this is really awesome. What sets this apart from Stripe's competitors, is that those companies (or at least Braintree) require you to set up a different account for each currency, which is a huge pain in the ass. Or at least this was the case last time I checked.

ronaldx 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Today I learned that "Gibraltar Pound", "Falkland Pound" and "Saint Helenian Pound" each count as separate currencies.
jzwinck 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I noticed the example uses "cny" in lower case. ISO currency codes are always uppercase. I imagine the API is case insensitive then. Which may pose a problem for the poor fellow who considers GBP the pound but GBp the pence. That is an established convention on some systems (e.g. Bloomberg, I think).
mootothemax 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Are Stripe going to expand any further into Europe in the near future?

I've integrated with Stripe several times now for US-based clients and am getting severely jealous!

Silhouette 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess that definitively answers my previous question[1] about whether we can charge in US dollars or Euros as a UK business, then. :-)

Quick but obvious follow-ups:

1. How do we look up the currency conversion rates that were applied for each charge? There are various hints on the Stripe page about these new currencies[2] but looking at the corresponding API documentation either I'm missing something or it hasn't been updated yet.

2. Are there any plans to support payment methods beyond the existing card schemes, at least in countries where those cards might not be the preferred form of payment? (For example, there are various European national card schemes like Carte Bleue in France, and in China there is the UnionPay system.)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7181446

[2] https://stripe.com/blog/new-currencies

kjackson2012 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Can the merchants keep the currency that they get paid in and elect to convert it at their choosing, or does it get immediately converted to whatever their home currency is?
stephen_mcd 12 hours ago 1 reply      
A slap in the face to Australian users who've been waiting patiently for half a year to use USD and still can't.
caseyf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Combined with Stripe Connect, this is great for marketplaces.

I did a test charge and was pleasantly surprised to find that Stripe's "market rate" is really the mid market rate and not something else. PayPal's spread is something like 2.5% and then there is sometimes (always?) a 1% cross-border transaction fee, so Stripe's flat 2% fee is looking pretty good.

theklub 12 hours ago 2 replies      
No crypto currencies yet...
MichaelTieso 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice! Just starting to build my first app with Stripe so this couldn't have come at a better time.
dipth 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Still waiting for Stripe support in Denmark. I'm getting seriously tired of having to deal with the old and rusty payment provider landscape here.
g8oz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow! The complacent incumbents in Canada are about to get a can of whoop ass opened on them.
jcolton 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Incredible! What I value most is the simplicity. Stripe has delivered a massive feature with almost no friction. Bravo.
Tarang 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I was just wondering, to the customer user would this cost more if the foreign currency was used or their local one given the exchange rate is sometimes very good (e.g paying in US dollars instead of the local currency)
nhangen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great feature, but now I have to write a new currency handler for all of our products.
ereckers 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Now if somebody could solve the recurring billing in foreign currencies issue (Indian Rupee in my case), we'd be in business.
joewee 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Its amazing it took so long for someone to actually make this a reality. Thanks for helping make the world flat stripe!
OoTheNigerian 11 hours ago 2 replies      

Awesome. I see Naira. Phew! :)

So if I make my charge in Naira, how do you pay me in Naira considering Nigerian banks are yet to be supported. Of course same question apples to other non supported countries whose currencies are supported.

bowlofpetunias 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is Stripe ever going to support other payment methods?

Stripe has been in beta in the Netherlands for a while now, but with credit card only, choosing between Stripe and old school payment providers (which aren't half as bad as what is apparently is the case in the US) that support all of the most used payment methods, Stripe is really not an option.

Not unless I want to tell 80% of all clients to take their money elsewhere.

billderose 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's too bad the conversion between currencies adds an additional 2% fee.
buddha25 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats amazing news! Live stripe, so well done
viana007 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Brazilian Real \o
Debian committee members vote for systemd as init system debian.org
220 points by waffle_ss  3 days ago   145 comments top 19
Spittie 3 days ago 5 replies      
Those are the votes for systemd:





For anyone wondering, 4 votes are enough because Bdale's vote (the chairman of the Technical Committee) count as two votes in case of a draw.

EDIT: see this (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7203479) comment below - if the other 4 members of the TC vote F, then systemd would not win.

jordigh 3 days ago 8 replies      
For a fun retelling of the events (I think this only works on Firefox):


jtchang 3 days ago 7 replies      
Can anyone give a quick rundown of the different init systems?

For the most part it can get confusing for a non day to day system administrator when I am trying to get a program to "run on boot". Between rc.local, init.d, run levels, etc. sometimes it is just frustrating.

kashchei 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have to remind everyone that the author of systemd is Lennart Poettering, the guy behind Pulseaudio. I think, this is one "feature" that should outweigh all supposed benefits of this program.

For those unfamiliar with Pulseaudio development, it's a third-generation audio subsystem (after OSS and ALSA with JACK forming two previous ones, and ESD being the beginning of the third) that is famous for overcomplicated, non-human-writable barely human-readable configuration procedure, development marred with huge number of bugs that ruined audio on Linux until recently, and suffering from immense number of internal interfaces and system being presented as a huge monolithic piece of software that can not be used in a modular manner except as modules that only talk among themselves.

systemd seems to suffer from the same problems, plus it tries to "integrate" init, udev and syslog into a single "product", with arcane internal interfaces and formats -- just as non-human-writable as Pulseaudio.

_wmd 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how long upstart will survive in Ubuntu after the next Debian stable
kudu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very doubtful as to whether it was within the Technical Committee's role to rule on this. After all, there is nearly a consensus on the fact that systemd is the superior init system. The question of whether certain kernels should have more features by default at the expense of portability is a matter of policy, and not a technical decision.
forgottenpass 3 days ago 1 reply      
What happened to the last vote? I saw some criticism that Ian jumped the gun by calling for votes when he did and putting two issues on at once but haven't read the archive in the meantime.

Pretty unfortunate it took this long. Even as a casual observer it's looked like they'd eventually pick systemd a month ago. Hopefully this vote is the last one.

dfc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can an HN mod change the title? The committee has not voted in favor of systemd (yet).
jiggy2011 3 days ago 4 replies      
Not a surprise, was there a compelling reason for upstart at all?
qwoeiu 2 days ago 1 reply      
OpenRC is the only sysvinit alternative that even tries to comply with unix way and yet (judging from Ace Attorney retelling at least) sadly it is totally ignored by Debian devs.
hayksaakian 3 days ago 3 replies      
Could somebody explain like I'm five?
auvrw 3 days ago 0 replies      
ran across this link, which might be helpful for people familiar sysvinit but not systemd


tl;dc: systemd replaces the bash scripts you're used to grepping through with unix .conf files that fit on the screen.

miga 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since it is vote in a technical discussion, I wouldn't be so sure, until everybody voices their opinion. After all, insight into merits and flaws of each system may change.

And that's what technical (sub)committees are for.

PS I would vote for "further discussion" in a very Debian style.

e12e 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone see if runit was ever considered? Perhaps it was considered a better alternative to just stick with sysv vs changing to runit?
herokusaki 3 days ago 2 replies      
Did Debian at any point consider launchd?
dschiptsov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now they should start to pray so it will never segfault.)
undoware 2 days ago 0 replies      
I usually just put everything in inittab. ;D
qwoeiu 2 days ago 0 replies      
fucking bureaucrats
pekk 3 days ago 1 reply      
So when are they going to vote on whether to switch to RPM?
Toward Go 1.3 golang.org
216 points by babawere  10 hours ago   205 comments top 16
CoffeeDregs 9 hours ago 13 replies      
First, I apologize for bringing up something that has been brought up since the birth of Go...

I'm surprised at the lack of progress in generics for Go. But more than progress, I'm surprised at the lack of a story about generics in Go. Yes, the FAQ waves its hands at complexity, but the lack of discussion and/or proposals puzzle me. The wiki page about it (https://code.google.com/p/go-wiki/wiki/GoVsGenerics) is tiny and feeds from this discussion (http://groups.google.com/group/golang-nuts/browse_thread/thr...). I would be much more interested in Go were there some evidence for the intent to implement generics. A related concern is that adding generics will have a significant affect on libraries and existing code, so adding generics will become harder the longer Go waits.

I would be very happy to have the Go team say: we're going to focus on adding generics to Go in 2.0 and will be considering how to get there sooner than later; that said, we don't know when 2.0 will be released, but building in generics will drive 2.0.

Note: I understand the workarounds, but they're either hacky or have terrible performance. And I also understand that users of Go say that they don't miss generics, but I'm just not comfortable believing that.

gtaylor 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The combination of NaCl support and Objective C linking support make me wonder whether we will see Go creep towards being an officially "blessed" and privileged language (like Java and C+NDK) for Android development in the future.

I would assume that the NaCl support means that we'll be able to write things for Chromebooks relatively easily?

voidlogic 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Using sync.Pool for my personal projects has made them so much faster (/ use less heap) and let me retire my custom pools. So much awesome there.

This presentation also doesn't mention the concurrent GC sweep work: https://codereview.appspot.com/46430043/

steeve 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Noting that I'm successfully running Go 1.2 binaries with CGO on android/arm, cross-compiled from darwin/amd64 (my macbook).

You can check out the Makefiles in libtorrent-go[1] and torrent2http[2]

[1] https://github.com/steeve/libtorrent-go

[2] https://github.com/steeve/torrent2http

leoc 10 hours ago 2 replies      
"Go 1.3 targets that command-line tool for 32-bit and 64-bit x86 architectures.

(NaCl supports 32-bit ARM, but we have no plans to support it.)"

epic facepalm

leothekim 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the bullet points:

- "Clean up and document the code, add unit tests. (Target Go 1.4)"

Oh sure, add features now and add the unit tests later. :-D #joking

sdegutis 10 hours ago 6 replies      
> Compiler overhaul: the plan. Not a rewrite. Translate the C compilers to Go. Write and use an automatic translator to do this. Start the process with Go 1.3 and continue in future releases.

Aww. Transliterated C code does not sound like it will take full advantage of Go idioms. Plus, an automatic translator? Unless it is extremely disciplined C code, that sounds harder than just translating it by hand.

japaget 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I had to use the Page Up and Page Down keys to navigate this; apparently either the mouse is not supported, or I couldn't figure out how to navigate this site with the mouse.
sdegutis 10 hours ago 3 replies      
> Support for linking against Objective C code

This is the most exciting part for me! Although I wish they didn't skim so much on the technical detail here.

kenshiro_o 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Forgive my ignorance but what does 100% Precise GC means?
Zenst 10 hours ago 0 replies      
From way in the slides I saw this and got excited:

"darwin/arm, android/arm: a contributor is working on these, some way to go."

clhodapp 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Either these slides mischaracterize what liblink does or it has the wrong name. The fact that it does things that the linker used to do doesn't mean it is doing linking.
pjmlp 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Instead of doing my usual comments about Go's design, I would rather congratulate the team in what they have achieved so far.
justinsb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
So "liblink" means that the compilers now generate native instructions, rather than pseudo-instructions. Seems like that would make it much tougher to implement generic methods. Anyone know if that's true?
namelezz 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow March 1, 2014. What an exciting month with Go 1.3 and Java 8.
syaramak 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Slightly off topic, but is there a mobile friendly version of this site?
Things We Forgot to Monitor word.bitly.com
217 points by jehiah  1 day ago   57 comments top 15
AznHisoka 1 day ago 4 replies      
Also:1) Maximum # of open file descriptors

2) Whether your slave DB stopped replicating because of some error.

3) Whether something is screwed up in your SOLR/ElasticSearch instance so it doesn't respond to search queries, but respond to simple heartbeat pings.

4) If your Redis db stopped saving to disk because of lack of space, or not enough memory, or you forgot to set overcommit memory.

5) If you're running out of space in a specific partition you usually store random stuff like /var/log.

I've had my ass bitten by all of the above :)

otterley 1 day ago 4 replies      
Swap rate (as opposed to space consumed) is probably the #1 metric that monitoring agents fail to report.

One thing that drives me nuts is how frequently monitoring agents/dashboards report and graph only free memory on Linux, which gives misleading results. It's fine to report it, but to make sense of it, you have to stack free memory along with cached and buffered memory, if you care about what's actually available for applications to use.

Another often-overlooked metric that's important for web services in particular is the TCP accept queue depth, per listening port. Once the accept queue is drained, remote clients will get ECONNREFUSED, which is a bad place to be. This value is somewhat difficult to attain, though, because AFAIK Linux doesn't expose it.

bradleyland 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interestingly, an out-of-the-box Munin configuration on Debian contains nearly all of these. I recommend setting up Munin and having a look at what it monitors by default, even if you don't intend to use it as your monitoring solution.
tantalor 1 day ago 3 replies      
Some people, when confronted with a problem, think I know, I'll send an email whenever it happens. Now they have two problems.
dredmorbius 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The corollary of this post is "things we've been monitoring and/or alerting on which we shouldn't have been".

Starting at a new shop, one of the first things I'll do is:

1. Set up a high-level "is the app / service / system responding sanely" check which lets me know, from the top of the stack, whether or not everything else is or isn't functioning properly.

2. Go through the various alerting and alarming systems and generally dialing the alerts way back. If it's broken at the top, or if some vital resource is headed to the red, let me know. But if you're going to alert based on a cascade of prior failures (and DoS my phone, email, pager, whatever), then STFU.

In Nagios, setting relationships between services and systems, for alerting services, setting thresholds appropriately, etc., is key.

For a lot of thresholds you're going to want to find out why they were set to what they were and what historical reason there was for that. It's like the old pot roast recipe where Mom cut off the ends of the roast 'coz that's how Grandma did it. Not realizing it was because Grandma's oven was too small for a full-sized roast....

Sadly, that level of technical annotation is often lacking in shops, especially where there's been significant staff turnover through the years.

I'm also a fan of some simple system tools such as sysstat which log data that can then be graphed for visualization.

comice 1 day ago 0 replies      
We monitor outgoing smtp and http connections from anything that requires those services.

And the best general advice I have is split your alerts into "stuff that I need to know is broken" and "stuff that just helps me diagnose other problems". You don't want to be disturbing your on-call people for stuff that doesn't directly affect your service (or isn't even something you can fix).

jlgaddis 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Be sure to monitor your monitoring system as well (preferably from outside your network/datacenters)! If you don't have anything else in place, you can use Pingdom to monitor one website/server for free [0].

I was off work for a few months recently (motorcycle wreck) and removed my e-mail accounts from my phone. Now, I have all my alerts go to a specific e-mail address and those are the only mails I receive on my phone. It has really helped me overcome the problem of ignoring messages.

[0]: https://www.pingdom.com/free/

mnw21cam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also, are your backups working.
jsmeaton 1 day ago 2 replies      
We had a perfect storm of problems only 2 weeks ago.

1. A vendor tomcat application had a memory leak, consumed all the RAM on a box, and crashed with an OOM

2. The warm standby application was slightly misconfigured, and was unable to take over when the primary app crashed

3. Our nagios was configured to email us, but something had gone wrong with ssmtp 2 days prior, and was unable to contact google apps

3a. No one was paying any attention to our server metric graphs / We didn't have good enough "pay attention to these specific graphs because they are currently outside the norm"

A very embarrassing day for us that one.

We're now working on better graphing, and have set up a basic ssmtp check to SMS us if there is an issue. Monitoring is hard.

jlgaddis 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I have gear in three different facilities and I'm typically visiting any of them unless I'm installing hardware or replacing it. Shortly after starting at $job, I realized there was no monitoring of the RAID arrays in the servers we have. That could have ended badly.
sp332 1 day ago 2 replies      
You're using icanhazip.com in production? I see from a quick Google search that Puppy Linux seems to use it in some scripts, but how reliable is it?
baruch 1 day ago 0 replies      
About reboot monitoring, I suggest to use kdump to dump the oops information and save it for later debugging and understanding of the issue. It may even be an uncorrectable memory or pcie error you are seeing and the info is logged in the oops but is hard to figure otherwise. Also, if you consistently hit a single kernel bug you may want to fix it or workaround it.
stephengillie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Between PRTG and Windows, almost all of that is handled for us. And PRTG can call OMSA by SNMP.
lincolnpark 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also, are your API endpoints working properly.
herokusaki 17 hours ago 0 replies      
How oversold your VPS provider's server is commonly blamed for slowdown but rarely measured.
The Intercept firstlook.org
214 points by r0h1n  1 day ago   36 comments top 13
aspensmonster 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're turned off by the length of the article, read it. It's worth it. This post --itself pretty damn long-- is basically pulling out the most appalling pieces regarding Greenwald's JSOC source and the source's statements regarding the drone program.

Also, make sure you don't say No Such Agency or type their acronym. Wouldn't want the article to get censored and fall off the front page. Moving on...

>According to a former drone operator for the militarys Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the [No Such Agency], the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a targets identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

What could possibly go wrong? What might the enemy do upon figuring this out? Well, it's clear that our own operatives understood the problem:

>One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the [No Such Agency]s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

So... why are we still doing it? Is there a way that this might become at least a bit more reliable?

>Whats more, he adds, the [No Such Agency] often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

You've got to be shitting me. The source continues later in the article:

>The former JSOC drone operator estimates that the overwhelming majority of high-value target operations he worked on in Afghanistan relied on signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, based on the [No Such Agency]s phone-tracking technology.

>Everything they turned into a kinetic strike or a night raid was almost 90 percent that, he says. You could tell, because youd go back to the mission reports and it will say this mission was triggered by SIGINT, which means it was triggered by a geolocation cell.

And the source does at least concede that the [No Such Agency] builds a matrix of characteristics to try and pin down a target:

>In fact, as the former JSOC drone operator recounts, tracking people by metadata and then killing them by SIM card is inherently flawed. The [No Such Agency] will develop a pattern, he says, where they understand that this is what this persons voice sounds like, this is who his friends are, this is who his commander is, this is who his subordinates are. And they put them into a matrix. But its not always correct. Theres a lot of human error in that.

I'm sure this is what the president meant by "near-certainty" of a target's validity:

>In his speech at the National Defense University last May, President Obama declared that before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured the highest standard we can set. He added that, by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.

The highest standard we can set:

>As of May 2013, according to the former drone operator, President Obama had cleared 16 people in Yemen and five in Somalia for targeting in strikes. Before a strike is green-lit, he says, there must be at least two sources of intelligence. The problem is that both of those sources often involve [No Such Agency]-supplied data, rather than human intelligence (HUMINT).

A high standard indeed. But don't worry! The [No Such Agency] insists that HUMINT is involved. After the fact:

>Hayden felt free, however, to note the role that human intelligence plays after a deadly strike occurs. After any use of targeted lethal force, when there are indications that civilian deaths may have occurred, intelligence analysts draw on a large body of information including human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage to help us make informed determinations about whether civilians were in fact killed or injured.


There's also some nice tidbits about the technical manner in which this is pulled off. The GILGAMESH program is described:

>As the former JSOC drone operator describes and as classified documents obtained from Snowden confirm the [No Such Agency] doesnt just locate the cell phones of terror suspects by intercepting communications from cell phone towers and Internet service providers. The agency also equips drones and other aircraft with devices known as virtual base-tower transceivers creating, in effect, a fake cell phone tower that can force a targeted persons device to lock onto the [No Such Agency]s receiver without their knowledge.

As well as the SHENANIGANS program:

>In addition to the GILGAMESH system used by JSOC, the CIA uses a similar [No Such Agency] platform known as SHENANIGANS. The operation previously undisclosed utilizes a pod on aircraft that vacuums up massive amounts of data from any wireless routers, computers, smart phones or other electronic devices that are within range.

>VICTORYDANCE, he [different operator from an [No Such Agency] doc, not the JSOC source] adds, mapped the Wi-Fi fingerprint of nearly every major town in Yemen.

r0h1n 1 day ago 0 replies      
Intercept has also released free-to-use photos of the NSA, NRO and NGA here: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/02/10/new-ph...

> Since June 2013, article after article about the NSA has been illustrated with a single image supplied by the agency, a photograph of its Fort Meade headquarters that appears to date from the 1970s.

> The photographs below which are being published for the first time show three of the largest agencies in the U.S. intelligence community. The scale of their operations was hidden from the public until August 2013, when their classified budget requests were revealed in documents provided by Snowden. Three months later, I rented a helicopter and shot nighttime images of the NSAs headquarters. I did the same with the NRO, which designs, builds and operates Americas spy satellites, and with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which maps and analyzes imagery, connecting geographic information to other surveillance data. The Central Intelligence Agency the largest member of the intelligence community denied repeated requests for permission to take aerial photos of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

> My intention is to expand the visual vocabulary we use to see the U.S. intelligence community.

edent 1 day ago 1 reply      

Might want to ensure it's running on the latest version of WordPress,

r0h1n 1 day ago 2 replies      
OT, but it's interesting to note that two of the most promising new media startups - Re/Code and The Intercept seem to have very similar design/branding vocabulary. Both use nearly the same shade of red along with black and white as their primary colours.

Then there's the fascination with the "/"

- "The//Intercept" - https://firstlook.org/theintercept

- "Re/code" - http://recode.net

glomph 1 day ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know how they are being funded? It is all well and good claiming they want more journalistic integrity than their old haunts, but I would like a word or two on how they can maintain impartiality and feed their families.

Not trying to be cynical I am genuinely curious.

jlgaddis 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, was created by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.

I also noticed that it uses HTTPS by default which is, of course, very cool.

mr_spothawk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a beautifully designed site. I'm happy that it works as well as it does on my phone. I'm very glad to see more of the minimal design elements like qz and less of the constant scrolling ... I mean 'continuous' scrolling.

Also, I'm glad this content has arrived...

(edit: not so impressed by the desktop version of the site, but I guess I can make it beautiful by resizing my browser)

rurounijones 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems a bit wierd that does not have its own domain.

I mean, it does (theintercept.org) but that just redirects you to https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

chopin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mmmh - reaches out to third party websites (unavoidibly with referers). And to one of the worst offenders of internet privacy. I think its a bit hypocritical to lament over state sponsored spying but they wish to spy on their users too.

When raising children I learned a valuable lesson: you don't educate by telling them. You educate by living up to what you tell them.

Don't get me wrong: I am exited as the next person about this experiment. I laud them for their effort. But I expected better.

EDIT: Spelling

morkbot 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did any of the "old media" pick up the story yet? I haven't seen anything about it on either NYT, The Post, BBC or Guardian.
sehr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Either they're getting flooded with views at midnight on a sunday, or the DDOS is already on
vonnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is really funny. the first 503 that offers biting commentary on the power of intelligence agencies... http://imgur.com/VfJhF7E
detcader 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't sleep on this.
Mbox A lightweight sandboxing mechanism mit.edu
207 points by chocolateboy  1 day ago   56 comments top 22
tsgates 22 hours ago 5 replies      
I am the author of mbox. Since I got too many emails regarding mbox, here are a few things to clarify.

  - naming: pkgfile mbox || echo looks like a good name  - support: sorry, I don't have Mac or Windows.
I particularly like to use mbox for redirecting modification to another directory. For example,

  $ mbox -- git checkout file
You can checkout a file without overwritting the current file. You can imagine tons of usecases in this vein. Of course, blocking networks, restricting accesses of other directories, and rootless pkg installations are cute. However, to be a mature tool, I have to admit that there are lots of engineering works left -- support of 32bit .. compatibility layers .. still lots of corner cases.

tghw 1 day ago 5 replies      
Seems like poor naming, what with the mbox file format(s).
oscargrouch 1 day ago 0 replies      
>At the end of program execution, the user can examine changes in the sandbox filesystem, and selectively commit them back to the host filesystem.

This is a cool idea.

jlgaddis 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Out of curiosity, why choose for the name a term that has been around for nearly 40 years and is associated with something very different?
nl 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Hmm. Seems very secure.. I can't run anything.

  ./configure  make   ./mbox ls   Stop executing pid=20987: It's not allowed to call mmap on 0x400000
Same error no matter what executable I try. I'm assuming that isn't by design?

daxelrod 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The mechanism seems similar to PRoot ( http://proot.me/ ) which uses ptrace to intercept filesystem operations to create a userspace chroot.

I wonder if there's value in creating a library for intercepting filesystem operations via ptrace...

rjzzleep 1 day ago 1 reply      
interesting, i agree with the bad choice of nomenclature though.

I wonder how hard it would be to port it to dtrace (also dtrace would defeat the not needing root requirement).

although macs already include a sandbox[1] i find it everything but intuitive to use. it's already ridiculously complicated to setup. see ironfox as reference [2]. since you have to allow all sorts of mach port process execution pasteboard mach port access, etc.

check this app, which is allowed to play music and access the clipboard, but not access the internet. [3]

[1] https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/Darwin...

[2] https://www.romab.com/ironfox/IronFox-1.5-beta.dmg

[3] https://gist.github.com/03a481b6d39912b33d52

zimbatm 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would be interesting to run a benchmark. My impression is that ptrace interceptions would add a significant overhead but I can be wrong. Still, it looks like a great project.

Alternatively they could use unshare and aufs to overlay another filesystem on top of a read-only root.

alrs 1 day ago 2 replies      

    apt-cache search mbox | wc -l    82
Ouch. How disconnected from the real world can academics get?

justinsb 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos to the authors for releasing their source code on github. The code may have some rough edges at the moment, but putting it on Github is a great way to encourage collaboration / improvements, and can only encourage greater adoption of their ideas.
Scaevolus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slides end with a few questions:

> Why 20% on tar? just rewriting path arguments doesn'tseem to be demanding work.

Is most of that the overhead from syscalls being filtered by seccomp/BPF?

aabalkan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does this have anything to do with Linux containers (lxc)?
Lazare 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool project; really terrible name.
blueskin_ 17 hours ago 0 replies      
...because this really won't conflict with the obsolete email storage format, right?
skeoh 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Sandboxie (http://www.sandboxie.com/) is a similar tool for Windows.
mrfusion 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Would this work well for sandboxing python? I want to allow users some light scripting to manipulate their data.
koenigdavidmj 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm guessing that this only works with dynamically linked binaries, similar to LD_PRELOAD-based solutions?
foobarqux 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been waiting for an app that does this for a long time.

Too bad both the deb link and makefile are broken.

bullfight 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely looking forward to seeing this progress. It certainly seems to fill a void especially in a world where it is quite common to share command line tools as seen earlier today in the post about "hr for your terminal"


mrich 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I like it!
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some people still run on 32bits machines. Time to git clone and make*.

post clone update: no i686 support.

The NSAs Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program firstlook.org
201 points by hendzen  1 day ago   48 comments top 15
dredmorbius 1 day ago 1 reply      
the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

"I've got nothing to hide..."

The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that its operations kill terrorists with the utmost precision.

Note that "accuracy" and "precision" aren't the same thing. A sharp knife is precise, but if you slice in the wrong place, it's not being used accurately. Noting that the language here isn't a quote but a description from Scahill and Greenwald.

D9u 1 day ago 4 replies      

  turns out Im really good at killing people.  The president added, Didnt know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.
Ironic words for a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

coldtea 1 day ago 1 reply      
>According to a former drone operator for the militarys Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies.

Well, it's not like they believe their targets are human, anyway. Their lives are worth nothing to those analysts, innocent or not.

farseer 1 day ago 1 reply      
>>"The NSA geolocation system used by JSOC is known by the code name GILGAMESH. Under the program, a specially constructed device is attached to the drone. As the drone circles, the device locates the SIM card or handset that the military believes is used by the target."

>>"The agency also equips drones and other aircraft with devices known as virtual base-tower transceivers creating, in effect, a fake cell phone tower that can force a targeted persons device to lock onto the NSAs receiver without their knowledge."

This is unsettling! I always suspected this technology was used by law enforcement but equipping killer robots for live missile guidance?!?!?

fredgrott 1 day ago 1 reply      
some of the problem...

Right now I get texts and voice mail from people attempting to contact the former owner of the SIM Identity I have..it happens any time you buy a prepaid phone..sometimes you get a previously owned SIM id..

Guess where this most active as far as buying a prepaid phone?

Developing countries such as Africa and Middle East..

This is a very highly political volatile situation waiting to blow up in a Presidents face.

Its not will it happen but only a matter of when

jsmeaton 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some unnamed source says that targets aren't double checked and that maybe innocents that have been lent a phone have been killed. This article is extremely light for such length.
tantalor 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is plenty of precedent for strikes based on hunches and guesses. For example, they confirmed OBL was in Abbottabad only after killing him,

"no U.S. spy agency was ever able to capture a photograph of bin Laden at the compound"


higherpurpose 1 day ago 1 reply      
Jacob Appelbaum has been saying this for a while already. They use NSA's data to do "signature strikes", i.e. strikes where they may assassinate someone only based on the "harmless metadata" they have on him. Talked to someone who may have talked to someone else from a "terrorist organization"? Well, you may now be on a drone target list.

This is going to get exponentially worse as they move to automated drone assassinations, where they just create an "algorithm" that's supposed to decide who is going to die next.

This is going to be their next logical conclusion, and to them it's "inevitable". Of course, it will be done in secret, too, probably for years before there are even leaks about it. Going by how "accurate" their algorithms are for determining who's American and who's not (there has to be only a 51 percent chance, which is almost like flipping a coin on whether someone is American or not), I imagine this algorithm on who to kill will be pretty loose, too. Better safe and kill more innocent people, than sorry and not kill the right target, is what they will choose for that algorithm.

You could say the rules for killing are already very loose right now, but the killing itself is done manually, and they are somewhat restricted to how many people they can hire for this. Once it's automated, expect the assassinations to rise by an order of magnitude, because it will just be "so easy", and also sending a drone should become much cheaper in 10 years.

Drone assassination defenders have been saying "but would it be any different if they just sent some guy with an F-16 in there to attack the target?". Well, even if such an attack wouldn't be anymore precise and it would still kill a lot of innocent people in that strike, the difference between killing people like that and killing them with automated drones or even manual ones, is about as big as spying on highly expensive targets, and doing "mass collections on everyone". It becomes so easy and so cheap technologically, that their rules for doing that action become radically more loose.

Just as for spying, they will do it simply because they can. Instead of attacking Osama's #2 with an air strike, they will be attacking a lot more people who are just very remotely associated with an organization, and in many of these cases, the decision to kill will be done by loose understanding of what is a target from the NSA mass spying (whether it's the understanding of the people deciding the drone targets now, or the algorithm for the automated drones in the future).

Recommended watching: Daniel Suarez on automated killer robots:


scrrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is all very depressing.

OT: Same picture used in FAZ-article in 2012 [1]. Can you search stockphoto dot com for "Predator drone"?

[1] http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/obamas-drohnenkri...

flavor8 1 day ago 0 replies      
The oscar nominated documentary Dirty Wars is good background on this program (basically about Jeremy Scahill & his investigation into JSOC).
Sami_Lehtinen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Was it really an accident, when Google also mapped radio networks and captured data. While they were collecting street view information. Or if it was done on purpose.
D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      

  Error 503 Service Unavailable  Service Unavailable  Guru Meditation:  XID: 1422544503  Varnish cache server
Hacker News Effect?

[edit]Scratch that, the page finally loaded for me.

zequel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm personally torn. It's asymmetric warfare. They didn't care about the thousands of innocents in the towers. If we let the Taliban regroup, another 9/11 is probable and the next strike (imo) will be at least a dirty bomb and possibly nuclear so I don't think we can afford to fight cleanly. You can be righteous as you want but if Manhattan gets nuked, the economic cost to the US is incalculable.
aluhut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Error 503 Service Unavailable

Service UnavailableGuru Meditation:

XID: 1198255034

Varnish cache server

icantthinkofone 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting how so many people now know so many things about the most secret organization in the world. There must be a lot of money in writing stories about it.
Total security in a PostgreSQL database ibm.com
200 points by amirmansour  3 days ago   58 comments top 11
tptacek 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is an interesting, detailed, and well-written article.

Let me caution you though: in most applications, if you concede to an attacker INSERT/UPDATE/SELECT (ie: if you have SQL Injection), even if you've locked down the rest of the database and minimized privileges, you're pretty much doomed.

Most teams we work with don't take the time to thoroughly lock down their databases, and we don't blame them; it's much more important to be sure you don't give an attacker any control of the database to begin with.

dizzystar 3 days ago 4 replies      
Very nice article.

The section under "the ideal administrator" is quite eye-opening. I pretty much use PostgreSQL exclusively, and I've found that every time I learn something new, there is another mile of learning to go, and that feedback cycle never seems to end.

I have a few PostgreSQL-specific book on admin and server programming, but I wonder where I would be able to go to really learn this stuff. Are there any classes or places to go for this sort of SQL training?

How does one go about becoming a total master at this? I find that, out of all the programming that I do, I love working with SQL the most and I want to dive deeper into it.

perlgeek 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is there some kind of row-based security approach in postgres?

Let's say I run a hosting company, and when a user logs in, I want to limit DB access of this particular connection to rows that actually matter to the logged-in customer (like purchased services, associated accounts) and still allow access to general-purpose information (like list of available TLDs, stock prices for services etc.). Can I do that somehow?

Then I'd use authentication outside of the database (like with LDAP), and only allow access to the database after login; that way information leaks should be pretty much contained to the logged-in customer.

EDIT: Seems it's a work in progress: https://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/Row-security

rubiquity 3 days ago 0 replies      
DeveloperWorks puts out some really great content from time to time. This article and their article on POSIX Asychronous I/O in Linux[0] are two of my favorites.

0 - http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-async/

csense 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the case where your application and database are running on the same server, you can eliminate the database password entirely by running the application in a separate user account [1] and running your database on a UNIX socket [2] with peer authentication [3].

[1] You should really be running your web application in its own user account regardless of how you interface to your database.

[2] Running daemons on a UNIX socket is better security-wise than running on localhost, because you can protect the UNIX socket with filesystem permissions.

[3] http://www.postgresql.org/docs/9.3/static/auth-methods.html#...

a1a 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are they seriously recommending the usage of unsalted md5?

Edit: Oh, the article is from 2009 (I'd say it was bad practice even back then though).

sehrope 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty good article but had to laugh when I read this:

> Common practice dictates that passwords have at least six characters and are changed frequently.

nasalgoat 3 days ago 0 replies      
An excellent article, but it brings up a question about authentication using the various load balancing tools out there, such as pgPool or pgBouncer. I've found the auth tools in them to be extremely poor, to the point that it's easier to just leave it off.

Has anyone gotten it to work transparently?

kbar13 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is very in-depth. Bookmarked for reading when I get home. Thanks for sharing!
yeukhon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't default postgres user password authentication still MD5?
angry_octet 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great read. But I was disappointed that it didn't mention other password encryption schemes, i.e. Blowfish.www.postgresql.org/docs/8.4/static/pgcrypto.html
The terrifying surveillance case of Brandon Mayfield aljazeera.com
198 points by jpatokal  2 days ago   106 comments top 15
pmorici 2 days ago 3 replies      
"The only reason Mayfield is a free man today is that the Spanish police repeatedly told the FBI that the print recovered from the bag of detonators didnt match Mayfields fingerprints. The FBI, however, continued to stand by its labs findings until Spanish authorities conclusively matched the print to the real culprit"

Even if you are hardline nut and totally support the surveillance state it has to be frightening alarming that they were so dead set on harassing this one guy that they would have let the real culprit go free had the Spanish police not called them on their BS.

atlantic 2 days ago 6 replies      
There isn't a name for the political system we find ourselves in at the moment. It works like this: you free to act as you wish as long as you respect a series of red lines that are never clearly formulated. All these red lines pertain to making changes of substance in the dominant political and economic system.

If you do cross over them, then you find yourself inside the prison system, in a psychiatric ward, or simply disappeared altogether. If large numbers of people cross these lines at once, I suspect we will find ourselves overnight in a totalitarian system, since all the tools for mass control of the population are already in place.

zacinbusiness 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is an excellent example of what I was talking about earlier. We have FBI field agents, men and women who are so overly patriotic that it clouds their rational judgement, men and women who are not trained to think rationally about data and who probably have only a high school understanding of statistics (if that), who are given access to massive amounts of data. They take this data and they match it against a theory that they've already developed, and they assume they have "cracked the case." They act in a constant state of paranoia, fueled by fear and powered by tools that act on data in ways that they can't possibly understand. And so they fill in some (likely poorly designed) form in some FBI web app, and some names get spit out. Then they look at whoever matches their "profile" which was likely developed using, again, a high school level of psychology. It's ridiculous and frightening.
zb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Possibly the worst part: the courts ruled that what they did to him was unconstitutional (duh), but that it's perfectly OK to keep doing it to other people because he already got his payout:


Broken_Hippo 2 days ago 3 replies      
Horrifying story that will change absolutely nothing. The government isn't willing to back away from the power (even after it became known) and people aren't upset enough in mass to actually do things about it - things that would probably be done in vain for some time. And changing the minds of many people in the 'innocent people have nothing to hide' I find to have a general delusion, believing the government (or at least the law) is mostly infallible.

It is not a new pattern, either. Look back to what we (americans) did to each other in the 50's (are You a communist? Do you act like one?). Had we had the tech then to spy like now, we'd have done so. Which means that despite the sensational news stories, I find almost apathy from normal people I meet - the paranoid has known for years (don't talk on that cell phone, they can listen in on those easily... does anyone remember this attitude?). Privacy intrusions simply exist. They are. You aren't escaping them. It might make one angry, but there is nothing people feel they can do about it. I personally disagree, but also feel the path to balance in this area is an uncomfortable one.

jessaustin 2 days ago 3 replies      
One of the examiners candidly admitted that if the person identified had been someone without these characteristics, like the Maytag repairman, the laboratory might have revisited the identification with more skepticism and caught the error.

I know We're All Bayesian Now, but does this really seem like the way a "laboratory" ought to work? If fingerprinting really is a science, then it's a study of patterns and how they do or do not match. I'm pretty sure we have computers for that sort of task. Why isn't this totally automated by now? From the outside, the reason that springs to mind is because fingerprinting, as practiced by the FBI, is not scientific at all, and exists merely as window-dressing for the prejudice and misjudgment of agents.

einhverfr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see this as a question of confirmation bias but rather a more deeper problem in investigative law enforcement, namely the need to see things as part of a narrative relating to the sort of investigation. This isn't confirmation bias as usually understood, but goes one step before, namely in filtering out the details one can tell a story about.

In the end what criminal investigators do is they find details and piece together a narrative from those. One huge problem with massive surveillance is the ability to piece together whatever narrative the investigator wants to put together based on a much larger field of information to mine.

revelation 2 days ago 0 replies      
The FBI is the modern day Gestapo, a bunch of poorly trained policemen with the right ideology turned secret agency.
codex 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody is perfect and institutions are no exception. However, I'd have to see more than a single datapoint to indite an entire system. Those who are anti-surveillance will no doubt exhibit confirmation bias when reading this article, which is ironic.
dllthomas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cardinal Richelieu had something to say on the topic.
rikacomet 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think some of us are forgetting and are underestimating the human capacity for compassion. This is not just about American public, but all of the humans. What is struck between this uproar is the data security of all the 6billion+ people on this earth.If someone is to think, that it would be over, if they just stop spying on American citizens and their activity, he is grossly underestimating the rest of humanity, this wave won't end until lines are drawn, about what is totalitarian and what is the right line of conformity.

Whats happening right now is a organization and its supporting organizations, finding it hard to stay on the line of justice in a world, where America is a small word, compared to what it was like before. Patriotism is nice, but it has reduced meaning today, this is no longer a world, where you can stay within your borders and hurt everybody outside it.

A good example, is from the movie Hobbit 2, where the elf king is reluctant to look outside of his wooden kingdom.

With great power comes great responsibility.. if you have power over Americans, you have responsibility over Americans, but in case of NSA, they have power over the data of all the people, thus their responsibility is towards everybody.

javajosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
No concerned citizen can allow themselves to be "terrified" by this story, if only because terror is the death of rational, effective action. We must be able to look at this situation, empathize with both sides, and determine how things could have gone better. (Empathizing with law enforcement is particularly difficult for me, but I've come to realize that it is a crucial part of the puzzle.)

It is normal for law-enforcement to chase down a false lead. Most leads are dead-ends, from my lay understanding of detective work. In retrospect, Mayfield was a dead-end, but the key question is: when should the FBI have realized this? The actions that they took would have been justified, I think, if their suspicions had turned out to be valid. (all except the 2 week incarceration - and even that would have been clearly justified if Mayfield had been charged.)

In any event, this is one of those cases which highlights a growing problem in the US legal system, which is the redefinition of "punishment" to exclude pre-trial incarceration and harassment. Law-enforcement has attained an ever growing list of exceptions and ad hoc powers that override a man's right to a fair trial before being punished. City police can "detain" you for up to 72 hours, for no reason. The FBI (apparently) can "detain" you for at least 2 weeks, again without charges. I believe that these rights to ad hoc, extra-judicial incarceration need to be rescinded, by an act of Congress, as these rights enable systematically arbitrary and abusive behavior on the part of law-enforcement at both the local and federal level. I believe they make the general population, whether they know it or not, unsafe from predatory police behavior.

mjklin 2 days ago 2 replies      
>He spent two weeks in jail, petrified that fellow inmates would learn he was somehow involved in the Madrid bombing and hurt him.

This is surprising to me, that he knew what he was being investigated for. Is there any reason why they would tell him?

Daniel_Newby 2 days ago 7 replies      
What, exactly, is terrifying? The FBI did an excellent job of making connections between suspicious facts, the sort of connections that should have been made to prevent the 9-11 attacks.

It is absurd to claim that this should not have happened. All detection methods have a false positive rate. Judging by what has shown up in the media, the FBI has a counterterrorism false positive rate of one person every few years. That is a stupendously low rate for such a rare yet politically-charged task.

Let's not forget their other famous false positive terrorism case: the anthrax case. Their needle in a haystack search turned up a false positive, but it also turned up the true positive.

The only terrifying thing here is that they suspected him of being a serial mass murderer, and then proceeded to apply such poor spycraft that a false positive was spooked. There are going to have a hard time catching real baddies being that sloppy.

XorNot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Trying to link this to the NSA data mining is absurd. They're tangentially related, but there is no process or regulation which is going to somehow help you when there's an active investigation and agents are digging through your garbage and talking to past contacts.

That's the exact purview of the FBI - they weren't mining databases, all they have to do is send a guy out to chat with some local base personnel, find out where he used to live, look up neighbours etc. This is all active, in-person investigative work.

       cached 12 February 2014 03:11:01 GMT