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Moon typesetinthefuture.com
656 points by edj  4 days ago   90 comments top 30
biot 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just a warning: if you haven't yet seen the movie, the article contains significant plot spoilers. Moon is a fantastic movie, so go watch it on Netflix then read all about the typography afterwards.
dmazin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Something I excitedly noticed I've never been able to tell anyone because it's too specific:

Moon (2009) opens with the line "Where Are We Now?," the title of the first single off Bowie's new album (2013).

David Bowie is, of course, Duncan Jones' father.

Pxtl 3 days ago 2 replies      
I notice a recurring theme of '80s retro-futurism in Moon. It all looks like the way we imagined the future at the peak of the Space Shuttle, but with little nods to modern technology to avoid obvious anachronisms. Brilliant design.

For example, the black-backgrounded GUIs with wide text on them remind me of old DOS-era applications, but they're displayed on modern high-resolution flat-panel displays.

The T-shirt is also painfully '80s, as directly noted. The only music mentioned is an early-'90s song that was hokey the day it came out. The Flowbee and the magazine are other noted '80sisms.

The rescue-crew-manifest with poor-quality black-and-white images on a color screen? That could've been lifted directly from the '80s-era Alien films.

Which really, all makes sense - the '80s were the end of the space race. For space-travel nostalgia, that's where you go for modern Gen X movie fans.

lcrs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I worked on the post-production of Moon, particularly the titles and the screens in the base and Gerty's face. Pretty humbling to have someone pay so much attention to what we did!

It's funny to hear about the Microstile/Eurostile differences - when we had to replace type that was on the real set we made new elements using Eurostile, so there are probably some inconsistencies.

The Bank Gothic/gradient fill/outline choice definitely haunted us for a while after - it was already a bit of a scifi poster trope but it's got out of control since. I've cringed a few times seeing posters on the tube and wished we'd picked something slightly different. I remember being keen on an outlandish faux-Cyrillic face at the time but it wasn't legible enough. I did win the argument about colour though - my boss at the time did a bunch of concept frames with translucent orange type for the main credit lines... there's a little interview with him here: http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/moon/

Maybe it's too obvious to bear mentioning but there's a big foreshadowing in the shot where Sam Rockwell's credit appears - a second copy of his name dissolves up out of focus further back inside the base...

The OCR-1A type was set by me, in a slight hurry as I recall, type-on effect and all. It had to look different to the Bank Gothic credit lines, and I'm sure we tried the obvious Eurostile and it wasn't readable or was too heavy for that amount of text. It feels a bit of a case of too many faces in succession, in retrospect. I love machine-specific typefaces. I think I first got into them after reading The Computer Contradictionary, which mentions E13B a couple of times, the type used for the numbers printed in magnetic ink on cheques: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_ink_character_recognit.... That book is worth a look if you appreciate a bit of cynical tech humour... http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tZKCZje8178C&printsec=fro...

The dot-matrix background on the text fields of the "big board" with the countdown on it was probably my bad also... we replaced that whole board wherever it appears in the film because the real prop had light leaking into the four harvester status lines and you could see they were acetate. We definitely tried having the letters formed by the actual dots but they weren't legible enough, and making the dots smaller made them not legible enough. Sense of nerd embarrassment. I guess it's some kind of future display technology with... big dots? Err...

Trivia: the postcard reading "wish you were here" was inserted in post because we had to cover up the real one which couldn't have its rights cleared ;)

More trivia: there was a spelling mistake on one of the panels on set, the one which says "satellite uplink" when Matt Berry is yelling at Gerty. It was caught by QC and I have some memory of fixing it for that shot since we'd inserted the video into that screen anyway, but it might be visible in other shots. It had "satellite" spelled "satelite".

Looking forward to more from that blog. I've thought of starting something similarly one-track, favourites being "over-obvious ND grad filters in film" or "non-circular lens vignettes done badly in post through the ages" or "10 worst skies graded without highlight rolloff" ^_^

shmageggy 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Hes keeping count of his days on the Moon with a dry-wipe marker on the bathroom wall. By my reckoning, this is 146 days and counting not quite the nearly-three-years mentioned in the plot:

No, but 3 years is remarkably close to 146 weeks.

kitcar 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a phenomenal Easter egg:http://companycheck.co.uk/company/06346944(A corporate Id number for the fictional space mineral extraction company is flashed on a screen in the movie - a search on that corporate Id in the UK database shows its in fact a real registered corporation!)
louthy 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great.

I remember the first time I watched Moon and felt like I recognised the style of the design. Then later in the film when I saw the vehicles I thought to myself "That looks like massively like Gav's design"; referring to Gavin Rothery who I'd worked with a number of years earlier at a games company called Pure Entertainment.

We both worked on a title called Lunatik, which was a futuristic space game - I did the Playstation 3D graphics engine and he worked on the concept models for the spaceships, cities, etc. Very bladerunner-esque.

When I left the company we lost touch, so it was very nice to see his name up in lights on the credits 10 years later - and to just recognise his style without knowing that he'd worked on it.

jmduke 4 days ago 1 reply      
What an absolutely wonderful idea for a blog.

I'd beseech you to do Metropolis, but I feel like that'd be a relatively short post, so to speak.

taliesinb 3 days ago 1 reply      
That was a fantastically entertaining analysis!

Not a typographical Easter egg, but one I noticed while reading: could the Eliza rescue team be a reference to the early 'robotic psychologist' ELIZA? That would fit with the other playful human/machine blurring in the movie.

CoffeeDregs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Before this post, I was thinking about watching Moon again. It's such an incredible and unknown film. I will watch it again.

If you haven't seen Moon, then the following song will not make sense, but the sense of desolation and uncertainty rhymes with the film. The ending of the song captures the denouement @ 7:20.


Moon was fantastic.

ChuckFrank 4 days ago 1 reply      
Simply astounding. Wonderfully done. The wealth of typographical research into various movies is almost Limitless. Twelve Monkeys couldn't pull me away from this. Regardless of what Her's got to say about it.
catmanjan 3 days ago 2 replies      
The haircut machine in Moon blew my mind, I can't believe it actually exists, and on such a prestigious domain name!


timClicks 3 days ago 0 replies      
Two posts in and already my favourite blog. The editorial rigour, attention to detail and depth of knowledge are outstanding.
morsch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Read this! I feel like having to rehydrate after all that dry wit. Here's a spoiler (seems only fitting) that illustrates the writing style:

Maybe I should go and have a lie down for a bit, and come back when the conspiracy theories have subsided. Its a shame sci-fi films dont have intermissions these days. Lets transplant the one from my 2001: A Space Odyssey post, and go and have a cup of tea while the [characters] work out what to do next.

<embedded http://typesetinthefuture.com/postfiles/2001/2001_intermissi... >

mcguire 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not really a font nerd, but I disagree with:

"Moon uses an interesting angular typeface for its location-establishing shot... This typeface is OCR-A, which was designed in 1968 for use in optical character recognition systems.... Moreover, it looks like THE FUTURE, and so it makes a perfect choice for on-screen interstitial positioning shots."

OCR-A does not look like THE FUTURE; it looks like the future in 1968. To me, it looks like bitterness and cynicism. Apparently, it looks that way to others, too, since it or something similar is used in the same way for every other similar movie.

I haven't seen the movie. Is that message typed out on the screen, complete with teletype noises? That has to be one of the weirdest anachronisms ever adopted as a trope.

jmount 3 days ago 0 replies      
derefr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another good blog on a similar topic: http://www.scifiinterfaces.com/
Ntrails 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just FYI there is a mildly NWS image in here, (a shower scene bum). Not the end of the world, but my scroll timing was suboptimal :(
biffa 3 days ago 1 reply      
Moon's score written by Clint Mansell is perfect.

Here's a link to a section often used in documentaries:


dangayle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love it when fellow font nerds come out and proclaim their love of typography with wild abandon. People who are into type are really into type.
sogen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The "friendly rescue crew" have names like Rap14 and Dop1, so they are clones too!
_nato_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was really jazzed when this came out. For me, it fell flat. Perhaps it needs a second viewing. Kudos for the use of models instead of cgi for this filmmaker, though -- pretty awesome decision. The results speak for themselves. Striking visuals!
arc_of_descent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful beautiful movie! Sorry didn't read the article though. I'm going to watch the movie again today. Work can wait!
bwhmather 3 days ago 0 replies      
For similar stuff, don't miss the link at the bottom to the blog of the designer behind the film:


chiph 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can I nominate the Aliens franchise for your next post? The Weyland-Yutani logo looks similar to Eurostile, but the W is much broader.
gerjomarty 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favourite thing (among many) about this article is finding out that Lunar Industries Ltd. is actually a registered company. Duncan Jones is indeed registered as a company director.

I'm not sure when filming started, but the company was registered just about two years before the film was released.

It's those small touches that make me really appreciate it.

Corvinex 3 days ago 2 replies      
Soylent is in this film! Predicting today's Soylent future food. http://soylent.me

I wonder if this is how Rob came up with the name for his future food.

beachstartup 3 days ago 0 replies      
moon was a great movie. it was the movie oblivion could have been.
untilHellbanned 3 days ago 0 replies      
looks like Dogecoin just got another font
personjerry 3 days ago 1 reply      
3D GIFs Created with a Simple Visual Effect mymodernmet.com
494 points by bpierre  1 day ago   99 comments top 26
wikiburner 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was submitted last week, but didn't get many upvotes, so I'm glad to see this submission taking off today:


The following was a really interesting discussion, that I'd love to hear more opinions on:


pedalpete 8 days ago | link

This is really interesting. I wonder if the lines have to be so solid, or if a similar effect could be accomplished without breaking the image so much.

Would a bunch of almost imperceptible lines work? What about a smallish change in colour saturation or similar?reply

gojomo 8 days ago | link

I was wondering the same thing. Might a finer mesh/grid work? Or bars with some dimensional shading themselves? Or slight transparency?

Could the bars/layer even be animated, along some consistent plane, so that there's no static background part of the scene that's always obscured. (That might allow even thicker bars, if that's otherwise helpful for the plane-of-reference establishing effect, but which aren't as distracting, since the mind's persistence will 'see around' them.)

Combining these, maybe there could be more than one synthetic depth plane active at once, distinguished by color, translucence, or direction-of-motion? There'd be some perceptual dimming with all that layered-in non-native 'depth chrome', a little like looking through lenses or filters... but hey, other stereo 3D tech has similar tradeoffs.

neals 1 day ago 2 replies      
Kinda reminds of that other visual effect, where they add circles to a photo and give the illusion of the people in the picture being naked. Won't post the link here cause NSFW, but I can imagine it being a related effect: adding visual markers to change perception.
rurounijones 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For me the success of the effect was determined by how smoothly the object went in front of the lines.

The black and white image of the puppy didn't work for me at all because you could see the "pop" as it suddenly went in front.

Ice-Age and the Avengers clip seemed to stand out much more for me because it was smoother (To my eyes at least).

PeterisP 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do note that the effect is much stronger (at least for me) if the moving object goes outside of the perceived image bounding box - the http://bit.ly/1bUkBJQ example in the original article.
MarcScott 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think these appeared on Tumblr a year or so ago. Found a nice looking tutorial for making them here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmAWiVxOyto
SpeakMouthWords 1 day ago 1 reply      
One particularly interesting thing about the origin of this effect is that it spawned from the file size limit on .gif files on tumblr. If users wanted to exceed the balance of gif length, frame rate, and detail that they wanted, they would upload multiple sections of the same scene side by side. Tumblr's formatting would then add in the white bars automatically. This presumably gave the inspiration to use this for a 3-D effect.
s-macke 1 day ago 2 replies      

Other idea, but gives similar 3d effects

tlarkworthy 1 day ago 1 reply      
well that effect is cognitively bookmarked for the next hackathon. Presumably it will work in games if used sparingly.
pareshverma91 1 day ago 1 reply      
Showing the same gifs without those white solid lines for comparison would have been better. Anyways cool stuff :).
shmerl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why specifically GIFs? It's a generic animation technique, works with any video format.

As was pointed out many times, if you have control over your site, don't use GIFs for video and animation. Use proper video formats (WebM and etc.). It will only save space and loading time and improve quality.

hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this would work without the bars, by just having the object pop out from the boundary box.
CodeWithCoffee 19 hours ago 0 replies      
To answer other commenter's questions about the color, my perception is that it has to be the same color as the page background. This gives the illusion that the image is behind a 'window' in the page that is covered by the bars. Then when something moves from 'behind' the bars to 'in front' of them it gives the illusion of depth.
dredmorbius 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd seen this a few times in recent weeks and wasn't overly impressed, but yeah, sure, whatever. Clicked to open the link in a new tab, continued to other tasks for a while. It took me some time before I navigated back to it.

I flinched when I did as Capt. America's shield came flying toward me.

Maybe there is something to this after all.

vor_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, I don't perceive the effect (I'm assuming there's supposed to be an optical illusion of 3D). The animations all look flat to me.
chippy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
In my opinion it's very clever and interesting, but it's not particularly nice. It's very obvious in it's cleverness.
samweinberg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how prominent the bars have to be for this effect to still work. Can they be translucent or a color other than white?
bigfaceworm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Off topic: Captain America's throwing form is atrocious. See this for good form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0dXR6EiReY
ahcox 12 hours ago 1 reply      
They look particularly good expanded out to fill the page:

   http://hoog.li/g?g=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.viralnova.com%2F3d-images%2F&cimw=480   http://hoog.li/g?g=http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/3d-gifs&cimw=320

flibertgibit 1 day ago 3 replies      
This affect does not work on me, and, yes, I have two working eyes and neither is "lazy".
the_cat_kittles 1 day ago 1 reply      
lets see- i wonder if you could take a 3d scan of a scene (still or moving) and then superimpose a 3d lattice of white lines or something, and automatically generate the correct occlusion? that would make this effect very precise. that might be kind of cool. sort of like projecting a 2d lattice on a golf green to read the break
LambdaAlmighty 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Didn't work on me.

I didn't understand what the "visual effect" is supposed to be until I read the description.

I still see animated 2D GIFs with bars over them (=no real difference if the bars were removed).

Siecje 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have the originals to compare?
optimo 1 day ago 3 replies      
is it okay to not be impressed with this 'effect'?
hawleyal 12 hours ago 0 replies      
jazlyn 12 hours ago 1 reply      
its really an awesome gif collection. You may also like: http://www.thephotomag.com/2012/12/collection-of-30-still-ph...
obamasupporter 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Losing graciously markshuttleworth.com
485 points by ash  3 days ago   202 comments top 22
cs702 3 days ago 5 replies      
Some individuals in the Linux community regularly criticize Canonical for "not playing along well with others" and taking Ubuntu in directions that go against "the community's wishes." I think those individuals are misguided. Canonical does try to collaborate with other projects and distributions. It's just that such collaboration is not the company's priority.

Canonical's priority, as best as I can judge, is to make Ubuntu the world's leading Linux distribution for desktops and other platforms -- cloud, tablet, phone, etc. So they will use whatever F/LOSS code works best to achieve this goal, regardless of whether it's internally or externally developed. They are not letting 'ego' and 'pride' get in the way of achieving their goal.

If using systemd will help them achieve their goal more than using upstart, they will use systemd. Ditto for Unity versus Gnome, and for Mir versus Wayland. For them, it's not about "winning the argument," but about "winning the #1 spot."

chimeracoder 3 days ago 5 replies      
> I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously.

Well, this was a pleasant surprise.

I honestly thought that Ubuntu would continue to use Upstart regardless of what Debian decided. It'd have been a monumental amount of work to take on, but on the other hand, there's already been a lot of NIH-syndrome in Ubuntu-land for a while (Upstart, Mir, Unity, etc.)

Ubuntu's been slowly moving in the direction of becoming a "silo", spearate from other Linux distributions for a while now (a direction I dislike). If Ubuntu had decided to double-down on Upstart against the tide, that would have been the final nail in the coffin for them (in my books - they'd still find success for at least a while no matter what they did).

EDIT: Upstart may actually not be a great example of NIH, but Mir certainly is.

TeMPOraL 3 days ago 3 replies      
> From my perspective the fact that good people were clearly split suggests that either option would work perfectly well.

It's a nice rationality gem right here. If the costs and benefits of both options you're choosing from balance each other out, instead of carefully searching for optimal solution that will yield little marginal utility benefit you may as well toss a coin and be done with it.

awjr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to him for this. Could not have been an easy decision but does sound like he listens and wants what is best for Ubuntu in the long run.
themartorana 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's a tad annoying for us kinda-sys-admins that run full stacks in AWS (or other cloud services) and have to maintain not only domain knowledge for the code we're writing to run on the stack, but the server architecture and services of the OS we choose. My time is limited, and Upstart scripts have been written and run wonderfully.

Ubuntu smooths out many things, which is why I (and I guess many others) choose it for my main server OS. I'm glad to hear 14.04 LTS will still have Upstart support, but this means I have to put "move to systemd" as a medium-range ticket, which is sadly more time wasted.

Go progress! But comon, progress! Stop making more work for me. :)

buster 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, i wouldn't have thought that. Since i moved away from Ubuntu to Debian mostly because all this upstart, mir, advertising solo attempts, it's nice to hear that.

Now i'm waiting for the same blog post about supporting Wayland and i may even switch back sometimes.

nly 3 days ago 3 replies      



ZenoArrow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Losing graciously is always deserving of respect. Thank you Mark.
saosebastiao 3 days ago 1 reply      
So when will we see them drop Mir?
ForHackernews 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting he doesn't mention that at least one significant factor against Upstart (from the perspective of Debian) was the Canonical Contributor License Agreement.


azinman2 3 days ago 0 replies      
The headline made me think he was going to talk about losing the desktop and mobile wars!
mpnordland 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now that's a surprise. I've never known Canonical to give up like that.
LukeHoersten 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really sad about this. I love Upstart and think it's an elegant init process implementation. Anyone more informed than myself care to summarize the key points in making the decision?
mverwijs 2 days ago 0 replies      
The flipside is that diversity in software is usually mentioned as a Good Thing. Losing Upstart means losing diversity, no?
curtis17 3 days ago 0 replies      
Canonical are making a bet on the graphical subsystem re Mir/QT/QML/Oneclick to crack touch/mobile. Similar to Apple going all-in on Objective C/Cocoa(Touch).

But for the low level non-graphical parts of Ubuntu it makes a lot of sense to stick to standard Linux/Debian. At the terminal/sysadmin/command line level a standard setup is desirable.

kungpooey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Canonical, and more personally, Mark have been targets of my frustration with the Linux desktop, I moved like many others to Mint. This is a very welcome reminder that even if phrased negatively as 'lessor evils', Canonical contributes and attracts people from various backgrounds to something I sincerely want to overtake the current selection of OS options (more philosophically than anything). Canonical may not listen very well, and ultimately that may hurt any chances of desktop success for linux, however this reminds me they're still in a very small circle of 'lessor' evils.
ruben_varnish 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am an Ubuntu member and I was deeply wondering what I was going to do next... Tollef had me realizing systemd is the future for quite a while now :-)

Mark reminds us once again what the mission of Ubuntu is, why it is the best alternative for end-user computing in the FLOSS world and, for me personally, that I have a home already and do not need to go anywhere.

And... onward to build on top of the great foundation we already have.

vidoc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice move indeed!Let's just hope that there will always be viable alternatives, just in case the systemd project ends up like pulseaudio.
angersock 3 days ago 1 reply      
"(today our focus is on the cloud and on mobile, and we are quite clearly leading GNU/Linux on both fronts) "

How is targeting two widely-different platforms focus?

And how exactly is Ubuntu leading Linux in the cloud?

dhfjgkrgjg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Upstart although being first was never going to win against the marketing forces behind systemd.In the old days, tech was evaluated on technical merit, today the slickest marketing hucksters win.Yet another piece of lennart-ware to bring down the linux experience. Thank you BSDs for providing a sane alternative.
greatsuccess 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "new stewards of PID 1" == welcome to your imminent doom.
jericevans 3 days ago 3 replies      
Flappy Space Program itch.io
474 points by ski  3 days ago   110 comments top 57
T-hawk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm incapable of playing something like this without laying out some strategic principles:

When launching, hover the bird at the edge of the atmosphere for a few clicks, to give it time to tilt into horizontal orientation, so your thrust can affect the orbital parameters. If you don't do this, you'll just thrust vertically into the outer barrier.

Circular orbits are best. Two objects in circular orbits at different altitudes can never collide.

High-altitude orbits are best, where there's more room for more objects.

So circular high-altitude is best, but it's not easy to get there. Standard orbital astromechanics apply: to circularize, thrust at apogee to raise your perigee. Problem is, it's not easy to tell when the bird is at apogee, and it may not even occur before you lose control of the bird and the next appears. Also, the thrusting resolution is rather coarse: if the apogee is any higher than about halfway to the edge, two clicks will send the bird into the barrier, so you only get one attempt. These details and coarse controls make the game a lot harder than it looks, just like the original Flappy.

Finally, if you just need that one more point to break your high score, launch the next bird into the lowest fastest orbit possible. That altitude should be clear if you launched all the other birds higher, and it will register quickly before any more collide. I managed 8 thanks to this.

geuis 3 days ago 4 replies      
Suggestions. Decrease the number of clicks slightly when using a mouse. The fingers hurt trying to go that fast. Alternatively, add spacebar support.

Absolutely unplayable on a phone. Bind to touchdown events on mobile. Click events have a 300ms delay. Make the game full screen for mobile.

mxfh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Once you figure out the space bar cadence, that Flappy Kessler Syndrome[1] is gonna hit you hard any time above 3 bird's.

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

thewarrior 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read through the source and was surprised at its simplicity and readability.


No funky frameworks , just plain old jQuery and some JS.

I've just begun learning JS and the source was very informative.

sharkweek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Speaking of orbiting... http://www.kanyezone.com/
valtron 3 days ago 2 replies      
Are you supposed to get it to go through the space between the "stars"? Is it even possible?

Edit: Got my first point (50 - 100 tries?). You need to make it go a full orbit without touching the outer circle. This seems obvious in retrospect.

Edit 2: And they knock each other out of orbit. This is fun.

salmonellaeater 3 days ago 0 replies      
For a real treat, try Desert Bus[1]. The scoring works like soccer: 1 point and you've basically won.

[1] http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/07/the-w...

jff 3 days ago 2 replies      
"The developer has not uploaded a game yet..." are we overloading the server?
kzrdude 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's an infinite game -- you don't die and score can go both up and down. This is a new kind of game for me.
qwerty_asdf 3 days ago 2 replies      
The graphics are kind of blurry and fuzzed-out by scaling. It seems to be a by-product of re-rendering the the sprite images within a <canvas> object.



This would be top notch if the images were resized to provide crisp, well-pixelated edges. The spritesheets look great, in and of themselves, but the browsers scale them poorly.

catfive 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hope I'm not at all stepping on the developer's toes by pointing out you can fullscreen it by going to the iframe's source, where you can also have some fun trying to script it.

I'm in the early stages of designing a junior high programming curriculum and think this may be a great example of an engaging, practical experiment.

  boost = function(duration, interval){      setTimeout(function(){          clearInterval(window.kp)      }, duration)      window.kp = setInterval(function(){          $(document).keydown()      }, interval)  }

aabalkan 3 days ago 1 reply      
So bad, why don't they support the space key and instead use click? Trackpads/touchpads are not good for that at all.
blueskin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Flappy Bird meets KSP.

This is possibly the best Flappy Bird -type game I've seen.

jonmrodriguez 3 days ago 2 replies      
I set up some really crazy orbits :-D


One of those birds is in a circular orbit one bird-height above the ground!

Another is in a very eccentric orbit that skims the ground when it comes to the bottom-right of the screen, then almost grazes the asteroids in the top-left.

allochthon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am very much enjoying the new flappy meme. It's pretty cool that a game came and went and became a legend in such a short time. And now the "flappy" adjective is a byword for simple, nearly impossible games.
rtkwe 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish there was a way to control when a new one spawned, I had loads in really good setups to make nice circular orbits and then a new one spawns.
egypturnash 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't work on my ipad (ios7). The screen just tries to constantly resize to fit all the content, and my taps are thrown away before they ever get to the game.

The recent "Flappy Bert" http://www.sesamestreet.org/cms-static/flappy_bert/ doesn't have this problem.

improv32 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else getting "The developer has not uploaded a game yet..."?
chrismorgan 3 days ago 0 replies      
There, I finally got a bird to stay in orbit and a new one appeared on the ground. Score: one. I triumph!

(Now I'd better leave it alone or the next hour or two will disappear.)

kosei 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat idea. Probably would improve if you go with click-hold rather than tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, or at least enable the ability. Also, needs more Mario pipes :)
etler 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I double click on the canvas it selects it.

You can fix it by adding:

    user-select: none;    user-drag: none;
With appropriate vendor prefixes.

dgant 3 days ago 0 replies      
The game also serves as political commentary on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris
gbl08ma 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was going on pretty well, really enjoying the game and taking advantage of the fact that I have two mouse buttons (external + laptop's) to avoid breaking a single mouse (or my finger) with so many furious clicks. At some point the X server crashed - I wonder if due to so many clicks, or due to clicking on both mice. Did anyone experience the same issue?
cpeterso 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one has made "Flappy [Lunar] Lander" yet.
apunic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Flappy Bird will be the biggest merchandise for free in 2014. There will be more Flappy Bird teddies than Angry Birds and nobody needs to be paid.
sarhus 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would you mind sharing how you've made the game?
rblatz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks cool, but I'm traveling and on mobile. Maybe add touch events so us mobile users can enjoy too?
ximeng 3 days ago 0 replies      
kookiekrak 3 days ago 0 replies      
judegomila 3 days ago 0 replies      
So this is the ornithological version of Gravity
vxNsr 3 days ago 0 replies      

Really cool though.

cpncrunch 3 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent game - congrats!

Just wondering what the revenue is for your donation button vs having adverts.

Also, have you considered creating ios/android apps?

quentinp 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the whole point, albeit unexplained: you need to launch as much birds as possible in continuous orbit.
randall 3 days ago 0 replies      
taigeair 3 days ago 0 replies      
Makes me feel like Elon Musk.
scotthtaylor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well there goes my spacebar from ferociously whacking it.
neals 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great! Now add the green tubes for extra difficulty :p
btbuildem 3 days ago 0 replies      
Way more fun than the original!
sreyaNotfilc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good God is that game addicting!
joelgreen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't get past 5 without them colliding, at least with the minimal effort I put into this game. Really cool though.
mauricio-OH 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is so addictive I just lost 20 minutes of my life for no reason.. and got only 4 birds in orbit!
szatkus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fun fact: this game is much easier on my gaming mouse than using mere Dell mouse at work.
PhasmaFelis 3 days ago 0 replies      
It appears that any mouse or keyboard button works, additively. Tapping any two keys at once will put the bird just above the clouds in one hop. Three rockets it straight into oblivion. Holding down several keys produces impressive fireworks.
snake_plissken 3 days ago 0 replies      
all 3 of mine are in polar orbits!!! :0
sdegutis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Out of all the Flappy variants, I played this one the longest (20 sec) and had the most fun with it! Kudos! I could really see a lot of people buying this as an iPhone program.
pawelkomarnicki 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's just awesome ;D
bdamm 3 days ago 0 replies      
piyush_soni 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ha. Nice game :)
jdipierro 3 days ago 0 replies      
This.. Is the best flappy game ever!
TheSOB888 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey. Dude. This game is awesome.
entelect 3 days ago 0 replies      
if you zoom out on the page the icon and points board do not scale well.

Nice game

data-cat 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fun game. Good job.
gdiocarez 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not working.
robodale 3 days ago 0 replies      
We have a winner, folks.
Ryel 3 days ago 0 replies      
wtf hard
badusername 3 days ago 1 reply      
These flappy clone brigade is just dumb.
alperkosaxpower 2 days ago 0 replies      
alper slym
A 60-Hour Work Week is Not a Badge of Honour jeffarchibald.ca
438 points by thearchvolta  2 days ago   306 comments top 75
x0054 2 days ago 3 replies      
To everyone who jumped in to comment that 60+ hours at work is just fine, because they can do it. I have to say, stop equating work with progress. Busiest time in my life was when I was studying for the California Bar exam. According to the program I was doing, I was expected to study 12 hours a day. Most people I knew did 12+ hours of studying at least, all of them passed the bar. I did about 6 hours a day (+ other stuff for my startup), and still got the same results. The truth is, I actually observed the study habits of my friends. About 7 hours into their study sessions their brains would start to shut down slowly. Questions they would normally take seconds to answer would take them minutes to comprehend.

The point of the article is that working 60+ hours is fine, if you need to, but being proud of it is silly. Be proud of the work you produce, not the amount of time it took you to produce it. And certainly don't be proud putting in 60+ hours for some one else, even if they are buying you with stock options.

To be clear, some of us are lucky enough to make money by doing things we would otherwise do anyway, there is nothing wrong with devoting you life to your hobby and have it bring you a ton of money in the process. But don't kill your self for someone else and feel proud about it because you think it's somehow manly to work 60+ hours.

zxcvvcxz 2 days ago 19 replies      
This false dichotomy is seriously getting annoying. If 60 hours is sustainable for you, do it. If only 30 hours is sustainable for you, do that instead. But stop imposing onto others what is right or wrong when there are so many factors at play.

Some of my most productive memories are summers studying and working for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week (= 72 hours). I didn't get tired, burned out, or anything. Another summer had me working at a company making "apps" for 40 hours a week, and it fucking drained me... despite taking far less intelligence and brain effort. I suppose that's not true, the brain effort was constantly justifying why I wasn't quitting haha.

Regarding friends/partners/etc. If the amount of hours you want to work isn't compatible with your partner's expectations... get a new partner. Seriously. Your priorities aren't aligned. I don't know what I'd do if my partner expected me to be home for dinner at 6pm on weeknights... Oh wait I do, I'd get a new partner, which I did. Now everyone involved (myself, previous partner, new partner) are very happy.

Finally regarding productivity vs. hours put in. Again, this is completely irrelevant if you're following the right metrics - results. Long hours obviously don't make sense if they're making you too tired to deliver results. If you're delivering but not in a sustainable way, well, you need to calibrate and lower expectations so you don't under deliver.

In short, people should optimize for long-term productivity appropriate to their goals. This, combined with your unique physiology and work circumstances, will dictate how many hours you should work. Oh and definitely exercise every week.

nickbauman 2 days ago 1 reply      
The army has done a lot of research on this topic from WWII onwards. I've read some of the studies. I've also read some papers done in the private sector on this topic in the construction industry. What they found was about the same: people who work more that 40 hours a week can do so for a short period of time before it starts to impact a lot of aspects of their health, which translates directly to their performance. This is not controversial.

What I haven't seen much of is how it affects people who don't soldier for a living or who don't work with their hands outdoors for a living. People like me who code. I'm sure the studies are out there, I haven't taken the time to read them. My guess is that the negative impact of working longer hours to outcomes is even more pronounced, not less.

I can cite an internal audit at a large software company I worked at back in the 00's. They found that having people work longer hours wasn't worth it. Period. It didn't improve linear increased output, it produced a negative output ratio per hour overall, furthermore it increased attrition and problems with engineering implementations. Note that said software company's goals were well aligned with getting people to work as long as possible for the same money and they still reached this conclusion.

So go ahead. Work those longer hours. Just be aware that the all the best numbers we have don't support you doing it for long for any good reason.

wazoox 2 days ago 2 replies      
When I was 25 to 29, I used to spend a lot of time at work. For a while, it just came naturally because I was so eager to learn; I'd stay at work reading books, programming, looking for information on the web and newsgroups (I hadn't internet access at home back then).

But at some point in 1998, for a few months we entered in death march after accepting to be the rescue team for a doomed, undoable project; I've worked 100 to 120 hours a week for 4 months, one of my colleague burnt out like a candle (I remember him asleep the face literally on his keyboard, late at night, while waiting for compilation to end; two days later he lied on an hospital bed) and after that I had serious health problems repeatedly for several years. We had the satisfaction to actually save the project and make the deadline, but two of us ended in hospital, and most on the team had serious family, health of other serious problems afterwards.

So what to say? Know your limits. Don't try to push it to far; it's actually very easy to kill oneself, for instance falling asleep at the wheel, late at night, on the way back home after a very long day.

sergiotapia 2 days ago 10 replies      
I work 40 hours a week at maximum - most weeks I work about 34 to 38 hours. You 80 hours a week guys, what the hell are you doing with your time? Are you divorced? No family? No friends?

Is 'disrupting' an industry really that important to you?

AutoCorrect 2 days ago 3 replies      
I had a boss tell me at an end of year meeting that another employee had worked 1000 more hours that year than I had. I looked my boss in the eye and said "then he's doing something wrong". Consistent 60 hour weeks is a failure of management and of the employee to better manage their time. Especially if you are salaried.
gregholmberg 2 days ago 2 replies      
We forget so soon. Labor movements within recent memory were fought at great cost to secure the possibility of shorter working hours. People were killed at factory gates trying to get labor laws enacted, in part to reduce employer demands for long working hours.

One argument in favor of capping work hours: unrestricted overtime discriminates against workers unable or unwilling to compete. A race to the bottom is not in the long-term best interests of any participant or the society.

An imbalance in society might show up as (under|un)employment in groups outside the core demographic -- in this case, anyone who is non-20-something, non-male, or non-white, who is not "crushing it" at work after nine on weeknights.

alexandros 2 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if the author would give the same advice to famous workaholics like Paul Erdos?

Here's my issue: I'm an entrepreneur. Doing a startup is my dream. I'm having fun and creating amazing memories. I work as much as I possibly can. Stopping me from working on my startup is like keeping a child locked in a room. I don't force my team to do the same (and they don't). I don't brag about it, I am not burning out, not messing with my sleep, not jeopardising my health. Moreso, when I force myself to stop it takes me a long time to start again. That's how my brain works. Why is 40 the golden standard? Do I have to apologise for the amount of work I do?

nnq 2 days ago 1 reply      
...will we ever get to a point of normality and sanity where:

1. guy A who want to work just 30hrs a week can say that this is how much he wants to work and get paid a fair hourly rate (same as guy B if he's just as good)

2. guy B who wants to work 70+hrs a week can say that this is how much he wants to work and get the same fair hourly rate (same as guy A if he's just as good, a reasonable 25% more for hours worked about a certain threshold - let's say 40hrs per week mandated, to set an arbitrary bar and stimulate employment of more people over exploitation)

3. guy A and B can have a coffee together and both see each other as equal value guys but with different life priorities, both ok

4. employers will not favor type B guys over type A guys (if this happens, mandatory extra-payment for overtime or extra-taxation could sway things to an equilibrium).

...it all boils down to Bertrand Russel's idea: why not have two people working X hrs a day instead of one guy working 2X hrs a day, and at the same time let the guy who wants to work 2X do it but don't discriminate in his favor (http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html).

jewel 2 days ago 1 reply      
So far I've only accepted jobs that will let me be paid by the hour, instead of salary, with 1.5 times pay for overtime. I feel like it much more reasonably aligns expectations, and in 10+ years of working that way, I've only done a few hours of overtime here or there during true emergencies.
seivan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Who the fuck brags about this? Who the fuck thinks this is a good thing?

This happened to me recently. More than 70h per week.

But that's not. The fact of the matter is, I was the sole programmer on the product and the product is so attached to me that if it fails, I fail.

I don't see it that way, but the employees at the place I work at do. The clients who were brought in to meet me, do.

gedrap 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am doing do a degree and paying the bills by freelancing. So 50-60hr/wk, combined education and work, is something regular.

It is possible to sustain it, if you are an introvert like me. It's just important not to do the same thing all the time. My degree is focused on low level programming and hardware, and I mainly do AngularJS development for living. So this kind of switch definitely helps.

Other thing which is important, at least personally, is that when you take a break, you must do something that counts. Browsing internet just drains more energy, personally. But I find playing an action packed video game (if you can't bother to go outside - or if you live in North England like I do) quite recharging. [0]

[0] I wrote more about that in my blog http://blog.gedrap.me/blog/2014/02/09/its-all-about-the-shor...

Ryel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I started software development recently, and coming from the restaurant industry it's extremely hard to wrap my head around the way most people in the tech industry think when it comes to work ethic. Personally I think it has a lot to do with being spoiled with an over-abundance of jobs. Most of you are very comfortable and wouldnt be worried about finding work if you were fired tomorrow.

In the restaurant industry it is part of the culture that no successful chef rises from the trenches of building a well-regarded establishment working less than 60-70 hours a week. That is the minimum.

I've worked nearly every position in the restaurant biz (I love the industry and would do it everyday if it paid anything decent) including a couple well-regarded NYC places where I worked consecutive 100+ hour weeks for extended periods of time, 24 hour shifts, and often times ended up sleeping somewhere in the restaurant so instead of spending an hour to get home and an hour to come back, I could use 2 extra hours of sleep. When I was 17 I saved a paycheck with 112 hours on it.

At almost 21 now and having recently completely left the industry (except for occasional catering gigs) I was up until recently still working consecutive 70-90 hour weeks.

It's likely because Im young and maybe naive but the appeal for me has always been the camaraderie and for the life of me I cannot find that in a startup. I've interviewed in person with over a dozen startups now in Manhattan and Brooklyn and I've turned down offers from the majority of companies I interviewed with because at 5pm, they all turn off their computers and go home.

I want to work with a team that's put all their chips into the company. Financially, physically, emotionally. I want the blood, sweat, and tears that make up the restaurant industry. Not because I think my hours are "cool" or "impressive" because I know I wont be able to maintain those hours as I get older and have real commitments. For now what I want is a team that has it all on the line. I know the risks are high but I know the reward is higher, the friendships that come out of those experiences have always been the strongest ones for me and the experiences have taught me how to handle the worst.

As I get older I'm sure I'll come to learn the differences between being paid for physical labour and being paid to develop software. Eventually I'll be in the same boat as most of you but for now I'll continue to work a 12 hour day and wakeup excited to check my emails and excited to hack on the next feature for my next side-project.

mjn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Two relevant articles from a few years ago, on the culture around taking pride in being overworked:

"The cult of busy": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1187353

"The busy trap": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4184317

daviddaviddavid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I probably average around 60hrs per week and my biggest reservations about this are:

1. That's 60hrs of being a sedentary lazy-ass

2. The more I work outside of work, the less well-rounded I will be

I'm a fit person and take regular walking/stretching breaks and switch between standing and sitting but I still feel like I'm spending way too much time being motionless.

Regarding being well-rounded, I've spent large chunks of my life focused on music, philosophy and learning new (natural) languages. I find that it makes me happier and makes me a more creative programmer, so I tend to feel guilty when realize at the end of the week that I've spent all of my evenings coding and reading RFCs.

mtkd 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's not that binary.

Some weeks 60+ hours can be very productive - but it's important to recognise when you're not being productive and take a proper break - I still find that a challenge.

a3voices 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does 60 hours mean you're doing work the whole time, or is 1/2 of it browsing the Internet?
einhverfr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am not sure that the question is whether a 60 hour workweek is fine. There's a huge difference, like it or not, between on one hand answering tech support calls for 60 hours in a week, or coding 60 hours in a week, or the like, and working as a self-employed individual for 60 hours every week.

I probably work 60 to 80 hours a week, most weeks. During slow times I work less. It includes everything from software development to discussing tech support issues with customers, to doing my own billing, to accounting, to any number of other tasks. If I worked less than 60 hours a week I wouldn't have time for real work most weeks.

But a few points:

1. I don't have a commute. When I used to work at Microsoft I would work 40 hours a week, spend at least ten hours a week stuck in traffic, and have at least 5 hours a week in unpaid break time. That adds up to 55 hours by itself. Had I lived a little further away, those could have added up to over 60 hours committed to work for 40 hours of pay. I also find being stuck in traffic significantly more stressful and draining than working.

2. I don't spend more than 40 hours a week doing any specific kind of work. Most weeks, I do less than 20 hours of work software development, and I know that if I am doing particularly heavy software development work, that going above 20 hours a week is courting burnout (I would rather put in 20 hours of really good effort than have to throttle effort in order to stay sane). For lighter work? Sure I could go up to 40.

3. The 60 to 80 hours includes a lot of time that would otherwise be hobby or personal project time, but which I can count because I am self-employed ;-). For example, I spent 20 hours worth of work this week on a strategic project that has no immediate impact regarding revenue, etc, but is fun and I think will make the rest of my work a lot more fun (when I have examples of how I will certainly submit them here on HN). That counts.

4. I work from home so all kinds of break time are usually family time unless I am on HN ;-).

So my point is that there are so many factors that go into this. I think the author is talking about working 60 hours for a business, particularly where you don't work from home, doing just one job. That's fine for short bursts but I wouldn't recommend it as a lifestyle. On the other hand there are certainly contexts where over 60 hours a week for the long run makes sense once you escape the idea that "it's a job."

codegeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is definitely many sides to this whole argument of "x hour work week". For many, it makes sense to push their limits and clock up 60+ hours/wk while many are productive working just about 40 or less. And we can certainly discuss the pros and cons of both. But one of the fundamental things that I believe we should all think about is the ability to control what/how/when you do things. This includes work hours as well. As an example, I know many colleagues who take pride in working a lot of hours and they even login from home just to reply to emails. Do they really need to do that ? In most cases, I would challenge that they don't. But it is a tendency that develops over time and one day you suddently realize that you are clocking 60+ hours/wk and don't even know why.

But then you could argue that everyone else on the team does that, my boss likes it that way blah blah. Again, totally understood that if everyone else is doing it, why wouldn't you but the fact still remains "you can control it to an extent". That's the point.

I have made it a point to set some strict boundaries. Sure, I have the luxury of doing that after being in the industry for a while as a specialist and my clients depend on my expertise. So it is more about value than time. Focus on creating that for your employers/clients and you are golden.

joesmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more. Sometimes it is the fault of the worker, but unless that worker is an executive, this is almost always the fault of management. I have occasionally worked more than 40 hours because something was engrossing, but this is unusual as I know when to stop. In almost every single case of working more hours it was because of bad management. Unfortunately, a lot of these management decisions are do or get fired and I have left many a job because of it, usually to my detriment.

The other problem is that somehow people want to make an exception for their startup. Their startup is special. Their startup won't suffer from these problems. As if their startup has found a way to make humans efficient and healthy without sleep. Please. That kind of thinking (I'm staring at a comment right now) is exactly what leads to this kind of mess. Where does the 40 hours a week come from? Years of experience by both workers and their managers and executives.

Why then are executives nowadays so clueless, especially the ones at startups?

cgag 2 days ago 1 reply      
60 hours a week is a big much, but if you're working on your own company then I have no problem with it. Working on your own stuff, for your own benefit, is a totally different thing than working for someone else. If you're doing 60 hours a week to make someone else rich, you're most certainly doing it wrong.
nonce42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Going the opposite direction, I'm working 80% (32 hour weeks) by choice and it's awesome. I have so much more time for other interests and family and it's much less stressful. Of course I only get paid 80%, but that works for me.

I'm doing this at a major computer company and my management is supportive. Nonetheless, it took months of discussion and needed to get approved by the VP. And it's probably hurting my "career path".

Culturally, I find people don't understand working less than 100%. You have Friday off? Is that vacation? Is that a partial layoff? (I'm male, and in the US for context.)

Overall, it would be nice if working less than 40 hours were an option for more people.

theorique 2 days ago 0 replies      
One 60 hour week in isolation is not a problem. Sometimes it's crunch time and deadlines happen.

Endless 60 hour weeks are a problem. Perpetual crunch time means that expectations are misaligned with the resources needed to meet them.

shitgoose 2 days ago 0 replies      
If most of you 60hrs/weekers would work just 6hrs/week, the world would hardly notice. And some people need to be paid more to work less, so they can inflict less damage. It is sad to see so many proud slaves in this industry.
eddieroger 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I hadn't been reading this on a Saturday at 11:30 local while waiting for my regression tests to finish, I may have been more enthusiastic to the message.

Speaking in extremes rarely doesn't do anyone any good. Yeah, this weekend is capping out a 60 hour week for me (and then some), but the problem isn't that this occurred. Its when this becomes the norm. I look at it like peaks and valleys. This week I'm working long. Last week, I did, too. But, this weekend's testing will be testing a prod bug we've been chasing for three weeks. My boss knows, and he's going to trade me some time in the upcoming weeks. Likewise, there have been plenty of weeks that I worked sub-40. As long as work doesn't take over your life unwillingly, things are probably fine. Paraphrasing a TV theme (the source of all wisdom) - you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life.

ksk 2 days ago 5 replies      
This article doesn't pass the smell test. There is nothing magical about 40 hours per week. 60 hours is just as arbitrary as 40. Also, it probably originated when people did actual physical labor, and so it wont apply to dev work. Countless people in the sciences have toiled day and night to bring about great discoveries - and that's a good thing.

Question: Do non-software people (I'm thinking Scientists, Mathematicians, etc) ever complain about this?

pyrrhotech 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a decent software engineer with a couple years of experience, you need to be making at least 80-100/hr or you are cheating yourself. If you are working 60 hours a week, you better be making at least $250k/year
coldtea 1 day ago 0 replies      
No -- it's a badge of failure. "I am not succesful enough to be able to work less. Plus, I'm not bright enough to be able to understand that my business is in the grand scheme of things a means to an end".
bmahmood 2 days ago 1 reply      
Agree that the # of hours worked in a week is by no means an indication of productivity, and sometimes perhaps a product of a misaligned culture.

However, I do find long hours may result out of necessity for the sheer work involved as well. Especially in the earlier days of a company, you compensate for an initial lack of resources and staff by performing multiple roles.

On the business side, you could easily see your mornings taken up by customer calls (especially if you have an international market), the afternoons spent on ad campaigns and marketing content, the late afternoons on general office management. In the evenings when there's less client interaction, I would spend time on product feedback, some data analysis and metrics reporting for the day/week's past. This could easily extend to a 60-80 hour work week, and I would consider fairly typical of early startups.

As you grow there's less need for sure to work so long, as the company grows and responsibilities become more focused. But overall, I think there are circumstances where a 60-80 hr workweeks are necessary, and not necessarily an indication of a problem.

Bahamut 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've never done a 60 hour work week, even on crunch mode - you run into the risk of your mind deteriorating too much and putting out sloppy work that needs to be fixed when you come in for the next day.

I don't know why anyone would pride themselves over it.

j45 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find working a lot of hours can lead to confusing activity with results. When you're gaining experience you don't know what to focus on so you spend your time focusing on things that don't matter in the end. As you get wiser, you learn to focus on what matters more, and have the choice of doing it more, or not.

One other very big caveat is this type of a conversation with me when I was 20 would have been tougher because I had much less of a clue of what else was out in the world that I couldn't live without and wanted to have as part of my life. It's also what allows young people to give up their 20's pursing startups that have little to no chance in hell of setting them up to chase their interests for the rest of their life.

It's also why I very much agree with PG's advice to simply solve actual problems as a student, as the closer you are to solving problems, the closer you're to value that can carry you forward into the next thing you work on.

Invariably, many 20-somethings don't know much about the world, or what's in it. The more time spent behind a keyboard the more once can be left behind the eight ball in becoming well rounded enough to interface with the problems that are out in the world that need solving.

Life hasn't been binary for me so far, there's no specific generalization available to follow. Instead of focusing on one thing for 60 hours a week, I've found that paying attention to make sure I'm growing and having experiences that are helping me grow in a meaningful, satisfying, fulfilling, and lasting way was enough to kind of get the hang of.

Getting caught up in the echo chamber of doing what others doing got me what most others got -- not much that I valued for those hours, until I changed it up.

blueskin_ 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll work 60 hours if I'm paid for it.

Otherwise, barring some disaster (as then I get time in lieu), I'm out of the door once hours are up.

It's not just a money issue - working stupid hours just makes people tired and they make mistakes, and in many jobs, extra hours just stretch things so they are spending lots of time sitting around waiting for other things.

EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it very interesting.

When people want their time to be respected, they show how little free time they have. They basically are saying they are dirt-poor in time.

Imagine if people all announced they were dirt-poor in money. And when they met up with their friends, they kept saying, somewhat with pride, how little money they have saved up. In the USA that would seem ludicrous.

overgryphon 2 days ago 1 reply      
From a manager perspective, you wouldn't want an employee working 60+ hours on a regular basis. When actual crunch-time happened, that employee wouldn't have room to work more. You likely wouldn't be able to meet expectations, because your under-staffing problem had been hidden by regularly overworking some employees.
WalterBright 1 day ago 0 replies      
A study of this was done during WW2. They found that 60 hr weeks initially boosted productivity, but that boost faded over time to less than that of a 40 hr week. (And this was with a motivated work force.)

They discovered that going back and forth between 60 and 40 hr weeks did produce a sustained production increase.

ditoax 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am 29 and did several years at a large blue chip on 60-80 hour weeks (when the odd month at 100 hours!) and it gave me a break down. Perhaps I am just not as "strong" as others but I much prefer being in control of my own life (social, work, personal). I learned a lot but personally I don't feel it has done me any good in the long run. Interestingly the people who have done "the best" when it comes to promotion/salary are the ones who didn't slave away for 60+ hours a week so I question why others do it.

With the exception of your own business of course.

lazyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
People have worked more than 60 hours a week for hundreds of years (farmers, soldiers, ...). There's nothing normative about the 40 hour (or 38,5 hour in this country) working weeks we are used to because we grew up with them.

We should worry more about getting our minds occupied with useless information. How healthy is a strict 40 hour week when 20 more hours are spent browsing the web and another 20 or more watching TV? Do we even still know what else we could do with our time? We might as well do some productive work ...

ausjke 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just curious, as human race, what makes us think 40-hour(or any numbers of hours) is the norm that everyone should stick to?

if we switch to 4-weekday in the future, we will then consider 4*8=32 hour per week is typical, and work 40+ hours a week will burn you out? where and how to draw the line?

I agree that there is no point to brag about your 60+ hour work style, but, what really decides the 'normal' work hours each week?

protomyth 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still find it a bit odd that the 3-day week before I go on vacation is probably my most productive, focused week. It probably has to do with focus and weeding out the distractions with the "I need to get this done by Weds night, so can we talk when I get back?".

I've worked a sustained 60 for a lot of years and done back-to-back 80's. I just don't think I was super productive. My most personally productive run was on a job that I had 4 hours in the morning to program and was doing something completely different in the afternoon.

thekevan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like a 60 hour work week. There are several projects or even different "jobs" in that 60 hours. I like getting a lot done because I like the money it gets me.

I like the momentum of those 50 - 60 hour weeks. More importantly, makes it easier for those weeks I want to do a 20 hour or a 0 hours work week.

zacinbusiness 1 day ago 0 replies      
A 60 hour work week? Jesus. I pulled those before college at a factory. And during college at a gas station. But now? Hell no. I average 20-30 hours a week with a daily nap. But then I don't really care about money so long as my family is happy and comfortable.
pattisapu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first draft of the Fair Labor Standards Act had a 30 hour workweek, past which you'd get overtime.

Many laws before the FLSA (like the New York law famously struck down as unconstitutional in the later-reversed Lochner v. New York) capped the workweek at 60 hours.

Imagine if either of these laws were the standard for the country ... maybe that would change our perspective on what is healthy and what is unhealthy.

the_french 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every time I see these X0-work week (where X > 4) posts I keep on thinking of this: http://visitnormandy.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/1mai.jpg?w=...It took us a long time to have the right to a 40 hour week, lets not give that up especially for salaried employees.
kenster07 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, it is almost universally admired when a person pushes him or herself. One way to do that happens to be to work harder than other people. Now, it can get to the point where you become so inefficient that it's stupid. No, we don't typically admire stupidity. But let's not kid ourselves -- hard work is respectable.

As an extreme example, I'd wager that most people instinctively admire those who can make it all the way through Navy SEAL bootcamp, and one of the reasons is that participants are literally working NONSTOP during that period, at a level of physical exertion that most people nowadays could not sustain for a few hours, let alone days on end.

ezl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
yeah, seriously. anything less than 70 and its like you're not even trying.
memracom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kudos for writing about this. So many people in the startup world like to brag about how they do things without a whole lot of evidence to back them up. Usually it is about some cool tech that they use, but as you point out, the long hours meme is also something that is going around like a virus even though there is no evidence that it does any good.

There is a lot of talk about big data in our industry, but it seems to me that some small data experiments would be useful as well because there is so much that we do with no data to back up the practices.

mcv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm proud of my 32-hour work week. That makes more sense to me than being proud of working 60 hours.
maj0rhn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hours-per-week is not the issue. The issue is the tradeoff between productivity-per-week (which is related to, but not identical to, hours-per-week) and how worthwhile the project is (in terms of what you'll sacrifice to achieve it).

So, if you're Jonas Salk working on a vaccine for polio, you're quite right to leave everything else in the dust and save people's lives (being highly worthwhile, sacrifices are made to get peak productivity).

If you're working for your ego, or for something ridiculous like letting people share pictures in a new way, or to silence some inner demons, then you may need to be a little more clear-eyed about the costs of your time investment.

venomsnake 1 day ago 0 replies      
And what about when you have two jobs - 40 and 20, when they are unrelated lets say - front end development to pay the bills and number crunching side project for fun - they exhaust differently. There are a lot of developers that put more than 20 hours weekly on side projects or professional level hobbies.

It is probably the more of the same that makes the quick decline after 40 hours.

mathenk2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually think less of those working 60+ hours and being proud of it. You're being self destructive and trying to make it sound like a good thing...
just3ws 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was just let go from a company the day before yesterday and this was a primary reason. It was a startup and the CEO said that it's just how things had to be. I did in the end explain my position and why what they were doing was chaos and unnecessary. They were in a constant state of breaking or incomplete but they think that spending nights and weekends is how it's supposed to be so they will continue on down that destructive path and just keep on patting each other's backs for being so dedicated.
josephscott 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the big problems with doing 60 hours every week is that it leaves no buffer for emergencies. If normal weeks are roughly 40 hours, then when an emergency comes up you can usually make room to absorb that.

That means emergencies can't be every week.

Chapstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I totally agree that a long work week is not a badge of honor and that the results of your work should speak for themselves. Things take time and sometimes you can't rush things.

I've worked crazy long weeks and its not glamorous and, in my opinion, just straight unhealthy on so many levels.

I think the challenge in working 45+ hours/week is maintaining adequate sleep/diet/exercise/social so that you can remain productive and happy over the long-term. Best of luck.

auggierose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hell, I'll do 60 hour work DAYS!
bestrapperalive 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the headline if only because "hours present at desk" is a completely facile metric for performance. What matters is what was accomplished, not how much time was taken. Is your feature or project closer to (successful) completion? Have you automated away the busywork time-sink that has has been slowing down your team? Is your organization now more able to effectively use its scarce resources? If not, fuck your "hours."
fredgrott 2 days ago 1 reply      
Somewhat interesting..

The productivity studies of Navy military groups on ships is moving them away from 60+ hour weeks to 40 hour work weeks.

They are finding that it hampers alertness/awareness

just3ws 2 days ago 0 replies      
What seems to be misunderstood is that working more than 40 hours per week isn't the problem. It's what and where one is working and how much they value their time. I regularly work and study well over 50+ hours per week but not all of it is on my primary job. I also work on personal projects, small side jobs, learning new skills, etc. This whole concept is like the conversation a few years ago about the 5 o'clock developer. Our profession demands a great deal of time and dedication but that doesn't mean you have to subordinate your life to your employer. ---- For the people who think that chaining yourself to working 80+ hours to an employer is good, you need to step back and ask what do you think you're going to own after you finally burnout? Might setting up boundaries and investing in your own projects and external skills leave you with something you can own and take pride in or are you going to have to leave everything you've built behind and have no ownership when it's all said and done? I've been down that path and regret it. Learn to value your own time and invest that extra energy and time in building something for yourself.
craigvn 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can tell a developer who works 60+ hours regularly, they have the most buggy code.
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, fair enough call with the humblebrag -- many times people talking about how many hours they work are simply socially posturing: look at how much more important I am!

Also, it's bad for you. Bad for your health and bad for your performance.

Having said all of that, there's nothing wrong with 1) pouring yourself into something that's bigger than you, and 2) living a life that's dedicated to something aside from yourself, one which doesn't have traditional work-life boundaries.

That's probably only true in 1% of these cases, but I don't want to lose those folks while giving lectures to the other 99% about values and performance.

ADD: Rephrased, articles like this are also a form of social posturing, and please don't kill the next Thomas Edison with your well-meaning advice to ten thousand corporate drones.

goggles99 1 day ago 0 replies      
What 60hr/week worker is asking for a badge of honor? Do you really think that a Badge of Honor and pride is why they are working all these hours? I have never seen this in all the startups that I have worked at.

In my personal observations there are three reasons that people work long hours. Money, self advancement (skill wise or other) and a loyal commitment to finish a large task within a time span.

ohwp 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author is right but I think he misses an impotant point. The bigest problem is that people think there work is there identity.
Havoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
It depends on circumstances. e.g. Right now I'm working 17 hr days on occasion. Knowing that its temporary makes it 100% easier to endure though.

The whole X hours per week greatly underestimates surrounding factors. X hours of what? Hard manual labour? Staring at a CCTV screen?

coherentpony 2 days ago 0 replies      
Try telling this to anybody in academia. Your funding is based on your deliverables, not the number of hours you work.
rrggrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
To all you twenty and early thirty-somethings concerned over long hours I say this... You'll soon be in your 40's. If working 60+ hours a week enables 30 hour weeks in your 40's, it will be worth it.
mindcrime 2 days ago 1 reply      
For most people, I'd agree. But as a startup founder, given how resource constrained we are (and we've chosen the self-funded, bootstrapping model for now) I don't have a whole lot of choice if we're going to succeed. Especially when you factor in that I still work a regular job to pay the bills.

So, 40 hrs at the regular job + x hours working on the startup, where x consumes almost every evening and almost all day on Sat. and Sunday, I'm regularly doing 70+ hour weeks.

Humblebrag? I don't know, and I don't care. I just care about getting this damn thing going and achieving my dreams.

Luckily I enjoy this, because I'm working on something I am actually passionate about. Not that it doesn't get frustrating on occasion, but most of the time it's more pleasure than pain.

So why do all this? Well, as theorique says here:

It isn't about disrupting an industry. It's about money.

That's a little bit of an oversimplification, but there's a lot of truth there. There are things I'd like to do, dreams I'd like to live out, that I can't do at my present level of income. But it's more than that for me (and, I'm guessing, for a lot of other people). I work on building a startup because A. I enjoy the act of building and creating something, and B. as the founder I'm in control and get to call the shots. Here, succeed for fail, it'll be down to my decisions and actions, not some random $BOSS. (Yeah, yeah, go ahead and chime in "everything is luck" crowd. I don't care about you either).

Anyway, when I get tired of working I just imagine myself cruising through New York or London, driving a Ferrari while getting sucked off by a gorgeous readheaded supermodel, and remind myself that there are reasons for doing all this work...

Brando_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Same as with anything else in life, really. Take fitness for example- I hear guys bragging about how hard their routine is, how they train every day till exhaustion. That doesn't necessarily mean anything. Trying to constantly be busy with something is a form of laziness if you think about it. It means not doing the things that really make the difference- those annoying ones, the ones we always leave for later.
knodi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please, if I want to work 60 hours I'll work 60 hours. If you don't like it don't do it.
souravray 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bang on! 3 years back I twitted "if u r working 14 hrs a day, then possibilities r - either u building a Large Hadron Collider on ur own, or u r doing it awfully wrong" Guess what? It was a YC gradg & they hv never moved far!
ericecook 2 days ago 0 replies      
I do agree with the author that there is an inordinate number of us who brag about the number, but this isn't something that is likely to just go away. Unless a new and objective measure of 'productivity' comes along people will still humblebrag about how long they work
wellboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's about what the 60h is for. As a salary man, completely agree, what are you working for? So that you make $180,000/year in 5 years instead of $100,000? Not worth it.

But 60h/week for your own startup? Gosh, when I just started out, I loved every single minute of work on my startup, I even didn't want to sleep, I wouldn't get more joy of doing anything else than my startup, because it wasn't work, it was me. I was building my very own future.

I think a 60h week is a completely different story if you compare it to being a salary man and building your own company --> your own life.

m0g 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just wanted to say that being asked not once, but twice in a very intrusive manner if I want to suscribe to the blog is a pain in the ass for me. Please adjust that.
scottydelta 2 days ago 0 replies      
I dont think 60 hours a week is much, its like 10 hours a day, 6 days in a week and no matter what, it just sounds right to me.
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
At a company I worked at few years ago in Vancouver, the ratio of project managers to developers was 4 to 1, on average a designer or a developer was dealing with 4 different project managers at a time, sometimes more, switching back and forth between projects with impossible deadlines. This led to people working on the weekends, often leaving after hours (because people think it's selfish to leave on time and leave others behind with more work).

What's even worse is when the executives started to delegate tasks outside of one's job description because they were undermanned. That's where I drew the line, call them out on it, and got canned. What's even more funny was being outcasted where a typical company lunch or gathering would always be about who has done the most hour of work or have become "heros" by saving the project by working beyond the work hours.

At one point the vice president called me at 1 AM (after leaving work at 10 pm) on the commute back home as I walked him through logging into the company backend used to power mobile applications.

It's quite interesting because they got funded 6 million dollars but they couldn't afford to hire more staff and they insisted on breaking even when it clearly was not scaling.

What I realized about the tech market in BC is that a lot of it is huff piece by local media and the continued image of "grass is greener over here" where none of it highlights the exploitative work environment for highly skilled technical engineers in the software/web industry. With the rising real estate prices and people basically living check to check to keep a roof over their heads, I wouldn't be surprised if Vancouver turns to a resort town with people leaving for tech jobs outside of BC to where the cost of living and wages are justified. Already many of the engineers at the company I worked for have left for United States.

I'm not alone with this story there are many many horror stories I hear from other local engineers and designers. In fact the only people I hear that are happy are freelancers charging higher wage.

presorted 2 days ago 0 replies      
A humblebrag: when you make your use of the word 'humblebrag' a hyperlink to its definition.
dhfjgkrgjg 2 days ago 0 replies      
the problem is that in most locations companies seem to have the upper hand, and IT staff work in a cost centre, and the drive is on to reduce salaries to less than that of a french deodorant salesman.
Keybase.io keybase.io
373 points by andybons  4 days ago   119 comments top 28
malgorithms 4 days ago 8 replies      
Hi everyone, Chris here, I've been working with Max on Keybase. I can't help but feel this ended up scooped a bit early. (Crap!) Not a surprise, because HN is quick.

The alpha site's changing every day, and we're working on the documentation now. I don't use the term "alpha" loosely. There will be extensive security details published, explaining every aspect of the identity proof system, client sessions, etc. They will be on the site before we open general access or turn beta. Right now only a few friends are on there. All that said, Max and I can answer questions here.

My profile on the site is https://keybase.io/chris if anyone wants to look. My profile demonstrates early examples of how identity proofs will work, including both twitter and github. We'll of course be adding other public identities in the future.

The site design is also very iffy at the moment; I was about to move into firefox bugs tomorrow.

sneak 4 days ago 3 replies      
I really, really want crypto, specifically, safe and secure-by-default crypto, to become much more usable.

Despite this hope, I can't seem to help the fact that the first thing that popped into my head when I read their webpage is "oh, they're wrapping and abstracting important key authentication and critical key trust configuration to make it more user-friendly, and implementing it all in javascript. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?"

Even if I got whacked on the head one day and suddenly loved javascript, I would not use it for certain projects when I wanted to be taken seriously by, say, cryptographers.

Then again, look at all the success cryptocat has had!

sneak 4 days ago 2 replies      
If this talks to keybase's API over https and any large groups come to rely on this, we've then effectively replaced the decentralized safety of the Web of Trust used for authenticating PGP keys with the PKI that's used in browsers, which is completely and totally fucked.

I cannot support a project that doesn't build and strengthen the underlying WoT. Getting https involved for authenticating unknown keys is a huge step backwards. Madness.

read 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is it really impossible to make browser crypto a reality?

Browser crypto can be scary! Do you have a malicious extension installed? We can't tell. Further, how can you guarantee we haven't been tortured into serving you custom, targeted JavaScript? Hopefully you're not that important.

I realize malicious extensions can currently do as they please, but can't browsers allow extensions to define a security policy that forbids all other extensions from modifying a page? This policy could be specific for a single website: Keybase.

Because if browsers could do that, they could then support proof carrying code, which could be used to verify Keybase hasn't been tortured into serving a custom, targeted JavaScript.


IgorPartola 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cannot tell what this does on a mobile browser.
electic 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is totally off-topic however I really like the graphic at the bottom of the page. The graphic really sums up the challenges developers have in creating secure communication channels. There are so many threats now a days it seems overwhelming.
zobzu 4 days ago 4 replies      

Advantage: it's distributed

pknight 4 days ago 2 replies      
Just want to say cool art work on the landing page
Stealth- 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. Proper cryptography is the solution to so many of the problems the modern internet is facing right now, but the key problem with cryptography is that it is never user friendly enough and never distributed enough.

This looks like a great step in the right direction.

theboss 4 days ago 3 replies      
Where are the security details published? I think that's what we all want to see...

On top of this....I think this is cool in theory but bad in practice.

The assumption that Root CA's are trustworthy is already hard enough to make, how do I know that Maria is actually Maria? How will you verify that ``Maria'' actually owns that twitter, github, gmail. Maybe it is possible to devise some type of scheme for those sites, but how about more obscure services?

One mistake in one single account causes the entire thing to fall apart...

IgorPartola 4 days ago 1 reply      
OK, finally looking at it on a desktop...

So my first question is this: if I know "maria" and I want to look her up to get her GPG key, how does keybase handle that? Does it just do an email address lookup, as in goes to, say, GitHub, grabs her email address, maria@example.com, then goes to a public key server and grabs the key that corresponds to maria@example.com?

If that's the case, there is a security issue: what if Maria never published a GPG key, but Chloe did using Maria's email address? Moreover, what if Chloe has access to Maria's inbox and can read these messages I believe to be only readable by Maria?

Edit: I see from responses below that various online presences of an identity tied to "maria" are checked. Is this not then susceptible to its own attack? For example, if Maria does not have a Twitter account and I create one, or compromise hers and post a different key, will I be able to at least introduce doubt into her identity, if not take it over outright?

mbreese 3 days ago 0 replies      
What does this do? The mobile site has zero information, just a form to sign up.
carbocation 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I correct in thinking that this would not prevent a targeted MITM where an attacker generates a "valid" cert that allows them to serve up a modified response for the Twitter and Github public key verification requests (say, providing you with an alternative public key)?
yeukhon 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is effectively the same idea to provide your ownership of a domain. For example, if you want to use webmaster tool from Google you'd either insert a text in some file or modify the DNS A record to contain the expected text.

One thought is vouch and level of credibility by the person's profile. If a lot of people vocuhed for Maria or if Maria has a lot of active tweet and/or a lot of Github activity there is a good chance this is a real Maria. However, the activity-based credibility is easily forged and defeated so probably not a good idea to add, bur worth thinking about :)

Sir_Cmpwn 4 days ago 2 replies      
Styles are broken on Firefox, text is flowing off the right side of the screen. Why do lots of sites seem to have forgotten about testing on Firefox recently?
addisonj 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks very cool, but one piece of feedback: Let the user know it is in invite-only beta on the homepage.

I downloaded the command line util and tried to login, only to be let down :(

Excited to try it out!

geerlingguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
On iPhone, I only see a graphic and login/registration links; can someone describe/summarize the service?
dmix 4 days ago 0 replies      
There should be a big sign-up call-to-action button. You're missing out on tons of potential users.
jszmajda 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Unix `finger` is back! I loved that tool!
rinon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool idea. The idea of automatically verifying public keys over publicly accessible and known channels is great. This is more or less the manual process I follow when I want to verify a key remotely. Looking forward to seeing where this goes!

Also, being able to use this with arbitrary crypto software (eg GPG) would be even better!

jonesetc 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a way to remove an associated account?
sfeng 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've got to say this site does 'responsive design' the exact wrong way. On small screens all the words are hidden explaining what it actually is, instead you just get a giant meaningless image and buttons with no context.
diasp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Another approach is https://encrypt.to/ which loads the public key from key servers and encrypts client-side via JS.
jlafon 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty cool! I like the story flow.

You might want to include some links that explain what the keys are, what PGP is, etc - because not everyone who lands on your site will know.

fiatjaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. We didn't anyone did this before?
luke-stanley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it FOSS?
jl2975 4 days ago 0 replies      
sweet site
g3orge 3 days ago 0 replies      
but... node? really?
Big Breakthroughs Come in Your Late 30s theatlantic.com
342 points by ghosh  1 day ago   99 comments top 28
lkrubner 1 day ago 8 replies      
A distinction I read somewhere, that I think is useful, is that people tend to be either primarily conceptualist in their thinking, or they are empiricists who learn from experience. Conceptualists have their big breakthroughs before the age of 35, and empiricists have their big breakthroughs after 35.

In conceptual fields, such as math and physics, the big breakthroughs happen young. Werner Heisenberg was 27 when he came up with the Uncertainty Principle, and Einstein was 26 when he discovered relativity.

In fields where progress is primarily empirical, such as biology, the big breakthroughs tend to happen later. Alexander Fleming was 42 when he discovered penicillin and Jonas Salk was 40 when he invented the vaccine for polio.

This distinction can be extended to artists. To write a great empirical novel, one rich in observed life experience, one must live a long time, and therefore Tolstoy was 41 when he wrote War and Peace. But to write a novel where one demonstrates new techniques for grammar and structure and pacing (a novel noteworthy for conceptual innovation) then one will be young, and therefore Hemmingway was only 26 when he wrote The Sun Also Rises.

vidarh 1 day ago 2 replies      
I co-founded my first startup at 19, and several more before I was 25. I've done a couple since. I'm now nearly 39. Not had the big payoff, but I'll try again sometime.

To me, it feels like the biggest thing is the combination of willingness to take risks coupled with outlook on life and experience.

At 19 I had no business experience, no experience at the business I went into (4 of us started an ISP), had never set up a router or a Linux server. We all had to learn everything from scratch. I ran board meetings, did phone sales, configured Cisco routers, took support calls from users using Trumpet Winsock - a program I'd never seen on anything but screenshot - using Windows 3.x, an OS I'd never spent more than 10 minutes consecutively with. I negotiated with suppliers, and creditors at times. I negotiated contracts with partners. And so on.

Five years later, I knew just how unprepared we had been. Had I known what I did then about how tough it was at 19, I would likely not have started the company (but had I known what it led to in terms of contacts and opportunities - I still would have; did not get an exit, but it still paid off). Had I had the knowledge and experience I have now on the other hand, with the willingness to take a risk and life situation I had then, I'd have jumped right into it.

What has changed apart from having had 20 years to learn is partly that I make far more money and have far greater outgoings, and a family. I can't take the same risks, and my potential loss if a company can't pay a good salary is far greater.

I'm also more risk averse simply because my experience makes me far more likely to spot fatal problems with many potential startups I might have jumped at in my youth. But of course there's also the risk that I'll overlook things because of changes in perspective or because I misjudge the risks, or because I would have gotten lucky if I'd taken the risk.

Another major change is simply life outlook. While I was never the totally reckless type, and never all that obsessed with money, today the money just isn't particularly important. I want enough to ensure security, and it'd be nice to have enough to just work on my own projects, but I don't particularly care if I get rich. That changes my assessment of any startups drastically - I'm no longer prepared to jump at an opportunity to get rich if it's not something I'm sufficiently excited by. I don't feel I'm in a hurry to prove anything. I have what I need, and then some. I'm far more secure in myself in every way than I was at 19. I'm not going to pretend like I wouldn't love to get that multi-million exit, but it's not something that matters to me now (I'm sure it'd matter to me if it happened, though).

Instead, what I do think about, are ideas that fascinates me. And some of those ideas have been germinating for 20 years. Maybe none of them, nor any new ideas will ever click. If so, no big deal. But if something "clicks" I am vastly better prepared, and I believe I'd be far more likely to succeed.

cscheid 1 day ago 0 replies      
But look at the variance on those distributions. "Late 30s" is a poor description. How about "half of the winners are between 28 and 45"? Not so exciting then, I would guess.

Better yet: look at distribution of "age when paper was written", modeling the generating process is scientist X at age Y writes a paper with Z=0 if no award is won, Z=1 if award is won. Is it obvious that this distribution conditioned on Z=1 is different from the unconditional one? Not to me.

phillmv 1 day ago 1 reply      
The corollary is Cheap, Easy To Exploit Labour Is Most Readily Available In Your Twenties.

(The VC lemma being, "Labour costs are a big majority of web startup input costs")

kevinalexbrown 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most of these people were working extraordinarily hard up to that point, though. Not necessarily hard at one thing. But hard.
jupiterjaz 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just finished Marvel Comics: the untold story by Sean Howe. One thing I was really surprised to learn was that Stan Lee was in his 40's and had already been a comicbook editor for 20 years before he co-created all the famous Marvel heroes like Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Hulk.
onmydesk 1 day ago 3 replies      
As someone in my late 30s I think the main reason is this- Its time then to stop fking around and just get it done. It dawns on you at this age where you are in your life, how far you've got to go and it annoys you that thus far you didn't get 'it' done yet.

You're not staring death in the face but you're close enough to feel its influence. If not now when? That spurs you on, beyond any motivation you ever had at any age before. The experience helps, the realisation that those before you weren't any more special than you helps, but the ticking clock motivates like nothing else.

Here's my own personal motivator that has meant the most at this age.. 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.' - Henry David Thoreau. That should scare the hell out of you, unless you're not old enough yet.

sobes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems to be corroborated in tech by some nice examples:

Jimmy Wales: founded Wikipedia at 35 and Wikia at 38; Marc Benioff: started Salesforce at 35; Mark Pincus: started Zynga at 41; Reid Hoffman: founded Linkedin at 36; Robert Noyce: started Intel at 41 with a 39 year old Gordon Moore; Irwin Jacobs was 52 and Andrew Viterbi was 50 when they founded Qualcomm; Pradeep Sindhu: founded Juniper Networks at 42; Tim Westergren: started Pandora at 35; Robin Chase: founded Zipcar at 42; Michael Arrington: started TechCrunch at 35; Om Malik: started GigaOm at 39; Reed Hastings: started Netflix at 37; Craig Newmark: started craigslist at 42

... and the list goes on and on. check out this Quora post (source of the above) for more interesting examples: http://qr.ae/tG78W

kev009 1 day ago 0 replies      
Correlation != causation

To me, a lot of these folks are artificially limited by slow and encumbered education methodologies. The data seems to confirm that, as a physicist can more easily begin independent work, while the others need to wait until they have accreditation/equipment/funding/etc.

I think this delay of productivity would be especially avoidable in high school and undergrad programs.

If you could begin advanced fields in your early 20s, instead of your 30s, I speculate the distribution would shift left quite a bit.

ja30278 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am in my middle thirties now, and I feel that I'm probably the best I've ever been. Part of this, I think, is that true understanding comes from the ability to contextualize ideas into some larger framework of knowledge. I find myself revisiting things that I've learned earlier in life, but am now able to see them in a more meaningful way because of the experience and knowledge that I've gained in the interim.

In some ways, the idea that knowledge in combinatorial is perfectly obvious, but it can be really encouraging to realize that the things you learn today are making you more capable of learning and internalizing new things later.

callmeed 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a twenty-eighteen year old, this article made my Sunday.
dredmorbius 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually, Khazan is losing the plot. The whole point of the research she's referencing through 3 levels of indirection (the Atlantic, NBC News, Nature News, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) is that key breakthroughs in Phyiscs are occurring at ever increasing age with time.

Granted, the research looks only at Nobel Prize winners in physics, but the general reason stated: that there's more information to learn and assimilate, suggests a general principle of increasing complexity and decreasing returns to innovation, which is a key point raised by Joseph Tainter (The Collapse of Complex Societies).

See Weinberg & Jones: "Age dynamics in scientific creativity" http://www.pnas.org/content/108/47/18910

Also highlighted in an earlier Nature News item on W&J is the increasing reliance of breakthroughs on expensive equipment, not always accessible to the most junior researchers, an observation also consistent with increasing complexity and diminishing returns with time:

Other experts in scientific creativity welcomed the study but note other reasons why the age of laureates might have increased, such as improvements in health or the fact that, in many fields, research now requires expensive equipment. "21- and 22-year-olds simply don't get access to this kind of equipment," says Paula Stephan at Georgia State University in Atlanta, who provided some data for the Nobel study. She adds that it isn't always possible to pinpoint "one magic date" when scientists made their discoveries.


sireat 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It goes without saying those achieving breakthroughs have been building up to that moment basically all their adult (and most likely teenage) life.

As a soon to be 40 year old jack of many trades but master of none, I am still looking for someone achieving anything meaningful starting from scratch later in life.

What I mean by this is someone achieving a mastery of some skill, when one has not done deliberate practice previously.

I suspect the answer is that unless you have been building your inner pattern recognition for basics of your field of expertise since late teens/early twenties, you are unlikely to get very far starting at the later age.

For example Einstein already had fluid mastery of calculus at 15 (just like Feynman), which was a nice building block for later work. I am not even going to start on Von Neumann.

netcan 17 hours ago 0 replies      
We ned to to make some serious progress on extending youth!
flibertgibit 23 hours ago 1 reply      
There may be hope for me yet according to this, but at the moment, I really have no fucking clue what to do.

My early thirties were filled with great ideas for startups. My early fourties are filled with depression that I'm past my prime, don't have the energy, risk tolerance, or money to do a startup, and don't have money to go back to school, so it really doesn't matter what my passion is. Somehow I still need to find a passion and change, though, because my death is impending. Maybe my fifties will be the realization that I am who I am and I'm fine just being bad at everything.

bhicks005 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it possible that studying Nobel Laureates skews these numbers? It would be extremely difficult to receive a Nobel for an achievement late in life because of the usual lag time between the achievement and the award and the fact that Nobel prizes are not awarded posthumously.
jv22222 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I took away from the OP was... the curve keeps going after 35. Phew.
nraynaud 1 day ago 0 replies      
- Mom, it's not that I'm a slacker, it's just that I'm only 34!
ekm2 20 hours ago 0 replies      
For immigrants from relatively underdeveloped nations,add another 10 years.
thewarrior 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's an interesting exception :The poet Rimbaud wrote all of his poetry before the age of 20 and is considered to be one of the greatest poets of all time.
danso 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd like to see this data evaluated across different time frames. Maybe prodigy was more pronounced at a young age in the past century because people, well, became full adults and died at earlier ages? Now that in today's Western democracies, we've essentially delayed adulthood to at least the mid-20s, marriage until the 30s, and retirement into the 70s...this time delay, plus the fact that the discoveries we make now are more specialized and require more domain knowledge...it seems that the average age for breakthroughs will continue to rise.
facepalm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Or not - I'm over 40 without any big breakthroughs.
loceng 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's mostly just related to having had enough time to work on a problem.
arikrak 1 day ago 1 reply      
A 25-year old brain may have more raw "horsepower" than a 45-year-old brain, which would make a big difference in math and physics, but wouldn't matter as much in e.g. poetry.
olsonea 1 day ago 0 replies      
The timing of this submission is impeccable. My 36th birthday was yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration!
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish that I could have a breakthrough this year, at the age of 27 my life's mission was to make it before turning 30 and times running out and I'm super anxious that I have not had much success.
kimonos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post! I agree with this!
dhfjgkrgjg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Who would have thought? That in your late thirties, you have gained experience, knowledge, contacts, maybe even a degree of financial support, all of which lend towards the formation of breakthrough ideas. Now, where is my prize?
How the US Treasury imposes sanctions on me and every other "Stephen Law" stephenlaw.blogspot.com
322 points by slyall  3 days ago   172 comments top 34
codegeek 3 days ago 17 replies      
Stuff like this makes one wonder that even though unfortunate, it is time to consider naming your babies with names that are extremely unlikely to be common. heck, may be even add a salt to it while we are at it. Ok the salt part is a joke but seriously, one has to feel for those who share their names with people on these "special" lists by Governments.

May be a start-up idea for prospective parents to run the names and ensure that before they name their babies, those are not on some list. But then what if someone gets on the list later on ? So it seems like a very unique name is really the option.

Also, do these special lists really flag people just by their names ? really ? I mean how many John Smiths can there be in this world and god forbid if one of them decides to do something "special". What about other attributes ? Is it really hard to have the unique key as (first name,last name, gender, age, place of birth, citizenship, blah blah) instead of just (first name, last name) and boom, you are flagged.

EDIT: Based on some comments, it might be a good idea to have a legal name that is very unique and a social name/nickname that is the usual John Smithy type. This way, when you deal with legal/customs whatever, use the crazily unique legal name while on the internet, use a nickname.

Also, while we are discussing names, I seriously suggest you to register domain names (and gmail/fb whatever) for yourself and kids if not already. Again unfortunate, but reality of this era. I have already booked domains names for my 1 year old and another one who is coming soon.

kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this represents a change in government mentality. Probably more a shift in technical capability. Before, requiring every bank and merchant to check every order against a list would have been onerous. Now, it's fairly easy.

I find it curious how so many specific powers that have been granted to government were allowed not because they were universally acceptable, but because they were impossible to enforce widely.

As automatic monitoring and enforcement get easier, I suspect we'll have a more robust debate on what types of laws are acceptable, because there will be so little room for leeway.

tdees40 3 days ago 5 replies      
We were flying with my son (then six months old) recently, and he has a reasonably uncommon name. He was flagged by the TSA as being on the no-fly list, which caused us to have to submit to onerous additional security procedures and miss our flight. So, ya know, way to go, TSA.
coldcode 3 days ago 2 replies      
Having had to learn this in our "ethics training" requirements at work (what a joke), I was astonished that they actually intend it to be illegal to have any commerce whatsoever with anyone on with a name on this list. I also realized that no US company actually filters their sales and order forms against this data (to my knowledge) and thus everyone is essentially guilt of trafficking illegally with anyone who has a name on this list. Order a trinket from Amazon and use a name on the list? Amazon is breaking Federal law. Rent a hotel room to a name matching one of this list, your OTA is violating a Federal Law. Other than customs and maybe banking I doubt anyone is even aware of this much less actually spends any time filtering their customers this way. Despite the addresses being on the list, like the no-fly lists, the name is the only requirement to match.

I've always wondered if the President matched a name on the list, would they hassle him/her as well?

DennisP 3 days ago 5 replies      
It keeps astonishing me that the U.S. government treats firstname/lastname as a unique key.

I don't see a workaround for shipping, but for wire transfers there's bitcoin, if there's an exchange somewhere that won't have to deal with this when converting money back to your national currency. (Perhaps someday, bitcoins will be spendable enough so that step won't be necessary.)

kiba 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that the governments try to keep coming up with new ways to punish lawbreakers like drug traffickers without regard to the effect it has on the larger society and the economy.

If you're a criminal or marked as such, you couldn't 1) keep your ill gotten money, 2) make money from selling your stories about your criminal exploit, 3) can't make legit money once you get out of jail since nobody hire felons, 4) branded even more if you're a sex offender, 5) can't get on planes due to no-fly list, 6) can't get sent money if you're on the treasury list.

All of these are of course, "well intentioned", but it does collateral damages. If your name is even "Stephen Law", you can't get wired money. AML laws forced banks to spend a shitload of money spying on people's finance that would otherwise be spent on more productive activities. Oh, it disallow banks and other money related services from forming, creating olipologies and monopolies. People who aren't terrorists are now on the no-fly list for no reason or because of procedural mistakes. Now they drive and die in motor vechicle accidents. Felons cannot contribute to society or get because nobody wants to hire them, so they became the underclass in societies and some of them will turn back to criminal behaviors.

Obviously, there are measure worth implementing, but they must be judged not on just preventing crimes, but also the cost to societies. Heck, some of these measure aren't even effective, and wastes policing resource.

zacinbusiness 3 days ago 2 replies      
People basically can't just "Google" me. Why? My name is Zac Brown. That's already a pretty common name. But the musician pretty much shields me from everyone.

Interesting side note:

I occasionally get email that is directed at that Zac Brown. Including a guy asking if I would play a gig at their company retreat (I agreed to), a guy asking about boat decals (I didn't like them), and a guy just looking to catch up for old times sake (I informed him that I was the wrong guy but wished him the best).

Somebody who works for the guy even added me on LinkedIn (I accepted because why not).

jey 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is unlikely to get resolved until one of these "terrorists" adopts the name of a Member of Congress as an alias. Until then, this ham-fisted policy is for your protection.
omarali 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had rebate cards blocked because my name "Omar Ali" matched the alias "Ali Omar" of someone who is in detention in the Philippines but still on this list http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/AQList.htm

Adding a letter to my last name was enough to not match anymore.

mcv 3 days ago 1 reply      
The workaround for shipping goods seems easy: put a different name on the shipment. As long as the address is correct, it should be fine. Will US customs check the names of everybody who is officially registered at that address in the UK? I suspect not.

And if it has to be a real name, just put the name of your spouse, friend or family member on it.

Of course all of that just illustrates how utterly ineffective such an OFAC blockade is.

opensandwich 2 days ago 1 reply      
Previous sanctions data analyst here. At my previous bank I worked for they follow a process like this:

1. Screen by name and date of birth (sometimes only year of birth only) for all lists (EU, US, Australia, etc); with some tolerance 2. Manually match against address, sex, etc

Now for some of these lists, depending on the vendor which is used, they may also have information on where the person(s) were last seen (perhaps they're from China and recently visited UK based on public information); not only their country of residence. So this means, if you happen to have a birthday sufficiently close to someone on the list (+-2 yrs) and they happen to be last seen in the country you reside in, then they would have to do the whole manual checking.

Now this seems like a lot of work, but when you consider things like reputation risk of getting caught and the possible fines, banks would rather screw over their own customer (or outright refuse to do certain transactions to certain countries) than doing what is best for their customers.

For the other attributes which are available like sex, it is sometimes used, but often for manual checking. Data is often too messy to have a viable real-time solution for screening. It is often cheaper to get someone from India to do it for you, rather than re-haul a whole database to have it done "properly". This is the unfortunate reality.

timrogers 3 days ago 3 replies      
The full list is pretty incredible. http://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/t11sdn.pdf
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
The silly part here is that while it is a pain, it is certainly possible to change your name legally. And in so doing "vanish" from the list. Of course regular folks won't go through the trouble but terrorists will ...
qbproger 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's so easy for this mistake to happen and inconvenience the wrong person. It seems all they check is your name. What happens if they change their name? Does the entire hassle go away?
uiri 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else notice that "Peter Griffin" is on this list?


DannyBee 3 days ago 1 reply      
"email letter to OFAC "

I really hope he at least sent a real letter.

tnuc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why doesn't he just get stuff sent to Steve Law.

Problem solved.

ck2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Imagine the hell they are going to go through if they ever try to visit the US.
fredgrott 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now imagine the increases in difficulty when we deal with non-Latin names, which often have 2 to 3 ways of being translated to Latin name schemes.

This is why any list does not work as its non-specific whereas if we get specific about metadata that is combined with the name than we have an effective block list instead of a government cluster fuck.

juliendorra 3 days ago 0 replies      
It can go very far, sadly: I found the story of a guy killed because he was homonymous when I wrote http://ils.sont.la/post/is-your-name-web-ready some time ago.

Homonymity is never really an asset: you don't control it as you can control anonymity and pseudonymity.

vonskippy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Easy solution, setup company name, use company name for all package shipments, wire transfers, checks, etc. Should solve everything but the travel.
lilsunnybee 2 days ago 0 replies      
This scattershot approach to inconveniencing suspected criminals seems similar to how the US conducts drone strikes: it doesn't matter how much collateral damage you cause, as long as you're targeting the right guy.
wobbleblob 2 days ago 0 replies      
My dad, who travelled the world for his work, was denied entry to the USA in the 60's because he had the same surname, initials and DOB as a local member of the communist party.
300bps 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was thinking about this the other day. My last name is extremely rare; less than 20 people in the world have it.

As such, I am completely unable to maintain any level of anonymity in the world today. It's trivial to find anything I've been up to by using Google or Bing. You can even see my entire family and what they've been up to and there's no doubt they're my family because my last name is so rare.

I seriously considered changing my last name to Smith. I think it's better to have nefarious people drown in a sea of false positives than it is to give them pinpoint accuracy directly to me (as I have today) or few enough false positives (as Stephen Law has) that they catch a lot of innocent people in their wide net.

I actually know some people with the Smith last name. Every time they buy a house, the title insurance company provides them a list of deadbeats with their exact same name and they simply sign a form saying, "Not me" and their transaction continues.

Imagine if they wanted to put John Smith or Joseph Brown on the OFAC list. They'd never be able to.

joshfraser 3 days ago 1 reply      
Names should never be used as primary keys. I am amazed that our government does not understand this or simply doesn't care. I would even question whether we should be imposing these types of sanctions in the first place -- feels like punishment without trial.
adambom 3 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one who thought, "Maybe he is the Burmese Stephen Law, and this is just a cover story?"
jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a stupid system. If customs is blocking packages, can't the real Stephen Law just have it mailed to Steven Law or Foo Bar or anything?
fosap 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the word for this is "Kafkaesque".
joesmo 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's amazing with all the spying that the US Government can be so incredibly stupid.
johnchristopher 2 days ago 0 replies      
Couln't he set up an alias of some kind to manage his earnings and international money related stuff ?

It seems common for criminals to get fake ID and associate it with their bank accounts, etc. So it might be an (illegal?) solution.

linuxhansl 2 days ago 0 replies      
The NoFly list for banks.
NAFV_P 3 days ago 0 replies      
In double entry this could be termed an error of commission, four entries are required for correction.
judk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Treasury is Breaking the Law
nctalaviya 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the update
The C10M problem robertgraham.com
292 points by z_  23 hours ago   110 comments top 25
erichocean 21 hours ago 3 replies      
What's significant to me is that you can do this stuff today on stock Linux. No need to run weird single-purpose kernels, strange hypervisors, etc.

You can SSH into your box. You can debug with gdb. Valgrind. Everything is normal...except the performance, which is just insane.

Given how easy it is, there isn't really a good excuse anymore to not write data plane applications the "right" way, instead of jamming everything through the kernel like we've been doing. Especially with Intel's latest E5 processors, the performance is just phenomenal.

If you want a fun, accessible project to play around with these concepts, Snabb Switch[0] makes it easy to write these kinds of apps with LuaJIT, which also has a super easy way to bind to C libraries. It's fast too: 40 million packets a second using a scripting language(!).

I wrote a little bit about a recent project I completed that used these principles here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7231407

[0] https://github.com/SnabbCo/snabbswitch

wpietri 22 hours ago 10 replies      
On the one hand, I love this. There's an old-school, down-to-the-metal, efficiency-is-everything angle that resonates deeply with me.

On the other hand, I worry that just means I'm old. There are a lot of perfectly competent developers out there that have very little idea about the concerns that motivate thinking like this C10M manifesto.

I sometimes wonder if my urge toward efficiency something like my grandmother's Depression-era tendency to save string? Is this kind of efficiency effectively obsolete for general-purpose programming? I hope not, but I'm definitely not confident.

alberth 10 hours ago 2 replies      
WhatsApp is achieving ~3M concurrent connections on a single node. [1][2]

The architecture is FreeBSD and Erlang.

It does make me wonder, and I've asked this question before [3], why can WhatsApp handle so much load per node when Twitter struggled for so many years (e.g. Fail Whale)?

[1] http://blog.whatsapp.com/index.php/2012/01/1-million-is-so-2...

[2, slide 16] http://www.erlang-factory.com/upload/presentations/558/efsf2...

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7171613

joosters 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are going to write a big article on a 'problem', then it would be a good idea to spend some time explaining the problem, perhaps with some scenarios (real world or otherwise) to solve. Instead, this article just leaps ahead with a blind-faith 'we must do this!' attitude.

That's great if you are just toying with this sort of thing for fun, but perhaps worthless if you are advocating a style of server design for others.

Also, the decade-ago 10k problem could draw some interesting parallels. First of all, are machines today 1000 times faster? If they are, then even if you hit the 10M magic number, you will still only be able to do the same amount of work per-connection that you could have done 10 years ago. I am guessing that many internet services are much more complicated than a decade ago...

And if you can achieve 10M connections per server, you really should be asking yourself whether you actually want to. Why not split it down to 1M each over 10 servers? No need for insane high-end machines, and the failover when a single machine dies is much less painful. You'll likely get a much improved latency per-connection as well.

axman6 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems we've already passed this problem: "We also show that with Mio, McNettle (an SDN controller written in Haskell) can scale effectively to 40+ cores, reach a throughput of over 20 million new requests per second on a single machine, and hence become the fastest of all existing SDN controllers."[1] (reddit discussion at [2])

This new IO manager was added to GHC 7.8 which is due for final release very soon (currently in RC stage). That said, I'm not sure if it can be said if all (or even most) of the criteria have been met. But hey, at least they're already doing 20M connections per second.

[1] http://haskell.cs.yale.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hask03...[2] http://www.reddit.com/r/haskell/comments/1k6fsl/mio_a_highpe...

jared314 22 hours ago 0 replies      
rdtsc 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is how C2M<x<C3M connections problem was solved in 2011 using Erlang and FreeBSD:


It shows good practical tricks and pitfalls. It was 3 years ago so I can only assume it got better, but who knows.

Here is the thing though, do you need to solve C*M problem on a single machine? Sometimes you do but sometimes you don't. But if you don't and you distribute your system you have to fight against sequential points in your system. So you put a load balancer and spread your requests across 100 servers each 100K connections. Feels like a win, except if all those connections have to live at the same time and then access a common ACID DB back-end. So now you have to think about your storage backend, can that scale? If your existing db can't handle, now you have to think about your data model. And then if you redesign your data model, now you might have to redesign your application's behavior and so on.

cjbprime 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> There is no way for the primary service (such as a web server) to get priority on the system, leaving everything else (like the SSH console) as a secondary priority.

Just for the record -- the SSH console is the primary priority. If the web server always beats the SSH console and the web server is currently chewing 100% CPU due to a coding bug..

leoh 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Projects such as the Erlang VM running right on top of xen seem like promising initiatives to get the kind of performance mentioned (http://erlangonxen.org/).
Aloisius 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the current state of internet switches? Back when I used to run the Napster backend, one of our biggest problems was that switches, regardless of whether or not they claimed "line-speed" networking, would blow up once you pumped too many pps at them. We went through every single piece of equipment Cisco sold (all the way to having two fully loaded 12K BFRs) and still had issues.

Mind you, this was partially because of the specifics of our system - a couple million logged in users with tens of thousands of users logging in every second pushing large file lists, a widely used chat system which meant lots of tiny packets, a very large number of searches (small packets coming in, small to large going out) and a huge number of users that were on dialup fragmenting packets to heck (tiny MTUs!).

I imagine a lot of the kind of systems you'd want 10M simultaneous connections for would hit similar situations (games and chat for instance) though I'm not sure I'd want to (I can't imagine power knocking out the machine or an upgrade and having all 10 million users auto-reconnect at once).

ehsanu1 22 hours ago 0 replies      
An implementation of the idea: http://www.openmirage.org/

A good talk about it by one of the developers/researchers: http://vimeo.com/16189862

swah 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Those two articles, http://blog.erratasec.com/2013/02/multi-core-scaling-its-not... (from Robert Graham) and http://paultyma.blogspot.com.br/2008/03/writing-java-multith..., seem to say opposing things about how threads should be used.

Having no experience with writing Java servers, I wonder if any you guys have an opinion on this.

memracom 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Just what are these resources that we are using more efficiently? CPU? RAM?

Are they that important? Should we not be trying to use electricity more efficiently since that is a real world consumable resource. How many connections can you handle per kilowatt hour?

EdwardDiego 21 hours ago 1 reply      
At the risk of sounding dumb, aren't we still limited to 65,534 ports on an interface?
voltagex_ 22 hours ago 3 replies      
>Content Blocked (content_filter_denied)

>Content Category: "Piracy/Copyright Concerns"

I'm starting to use these blocks at my workplace as a measure of site quality (this will be a high quality article). Can someone dump the text for me?

ubikation 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think cheetah OS, the MIT exo kernel project proved this and halvm by Galois does pretty well for network speed that xen provides, but I forget by how much.

The netmap freebsd/linux interface is awesome! I'm looking forward to seeing more examples of its use.

BadassFractal 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This article on High Scalability also covers part of the problem: http://highscalability.com/blog/2014/2/5/littles-law-scalabi...
eranation 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What about academic operating system research that was done years ago? Exokernel, SPIN, all aim to solve the "os is the problem" issue. Why don't we see more in that direction?
dschiptsov 18 hours ago 0 replies      
So, he is trying to suggest that pthread-mutex based approach won't scale (what a news!) and, consequently JVM is crap after all?)The next step would be to admit that the very idea to "parallelize" sequential code which imperatively processes sequential data by merely wrapping it into threads is, a nonsense too?)Where this world is heading to?
porlw 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this more-or-less how mainframes work?
ganessh 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"There is no way for the primary service (such as a web server) to get priority on the system, leaving everything else (like the SSH console) as a secondary priority" - Can't we use the nice command (nice +n command) when these process are started to change its priority? I am sorry if it is so naive question
ksec 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I think OSv or something similar would be part of that solution. Single User / Purpose OS designed to do one / few things and those only.

I could only hope OSv development would move faster.

nwmcsween 22 hours ago 1 reply      
So an exokernel?
zerop 20 hours ago 1 reply      
One more problem is cloud. We host on cloud. cloud service providers might be using old hardware. Newest hardware or specific OS might be winner but no options on cloud. How do you tackle that ?
slashnull 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The two bottom-most articles (protocol parsing and commodity x86) are seriously pure dump, but fortunately the ones about multi-core scaling are pretty damn interesting.
The French way of cancer treatment reuters.com
269 points by MaysonL  2 days ago   195 comments top 28
nolok 2 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting bits from one of the linked articles

>In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the French health system as the best over all in the world. Do you agree?

>I question the W.H.O. methodology, which has serious problems with data reliability and the standards of comparison. A study I would take more seriously is one published last year by Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee in the journal Health Affairs. They examined avoidable mortality that is, deaths whose risk of occurrence would be far lower if the population had access to appropriate health care interventions. In that study, based on data for the year 2000, France was also ranked No. 1, with the lowest rate of avoidable deaths. The United States was last, in 19th place, with the highest rate of avoidable deaths. Thats a severe indictment of our health care system in my judgment and calls attention, quite justifiably, to the high performance of the French health care system.


yoha 2 days ago 7 replies      
As a French, I must say that we are so much used to this system that it seems obvious. And, French being French, we like to complain about the flaws (well, there are some). But whenever I read this kind of article, I realize that this is not obvious at all and that, in the States, you have to pay for your health like for any groceries.

This is when I understand what people means when they say that France is a socialist country: we have very strong public service. This means that police, fire fighters, healthcare, school and so on are mostly public: we have no militia, prisons have no incentive to get more people jailed by bribing judges, fires are fought without caring if the flat's owner can pay for it, people are being taken care of without delay for checking if there private insurance will accept it, and kids from poor families have a firm chance of getting a good education.

The amusing part is that having this critical services being managed by the state seems so obvious to us that we don't think we are specially socialists (well, the French social party seldom wins the presidential elections). I guess it would seem odd for the government to nationalize a company, but it would be nearly impossible for them to try an privatize a critical public service.

hartator 2 days ago 4 replies      
Am I the only one who doubt that this is the truth?

I am living in both Paris and the US. It's not what I have experienced.

In Paris, one of my friend has been hit by a motorcycle. The motorcycle run away. She hits the ground and nobody cares. She was disoriented with weird bubble on the skull. I call the french 911, they send the firehouse department who came for finally asking me to go get my car to get her to the hospital. When she can walk, they don't have to take her. I mean WTF?. I took her to the hospital, lot of homeless people, cold waiting room. We wait for 2 hours for her to be taking care of and after that we wait for another 4 hours. The hospital staff were making fun of her because she can't remember her first name and a lot of stuff because of the disorientation (She is pretty so maybe they wanted to take advantage of the situation or something, wtf). Duh? They finally say the scanner didn't revealed anything and send us home. Actually she had blood in her skull and suffer from permanent brain damage now. I mean WTF? Yeah we've paid something like 7 euros I guess, but what's the point if it's for getting treatments from the middle ages?

In opposite, one of my friend got in a car accident in Austin. They wanted to run away, they were DUI but finally get caught. He get to the hospital by an ambulance. Duh? And I finally join him in the hospital. Wahoo, this is day and night. The hospital have scanners or IRMs in every rooms and he has been take of right away. Someone was checking on him every 15 minutes or so. Plenty of devices with computers (duh!) and electronic devices (duh!). And the hospital food was not that bad (for hospital food I mean)! Everything clean and warm, people professional. He didn't get to pay anything because of good coverage.

jokoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just like chomsky said it in the corporation documentary, some institutions do a much effective job if they operate at a loss. For the simple reason that those insitution makes sure the whole country benefits from them. Often profit will bring more destruction.

Profit driven economy is important for competition, it applies for many market, like luxury, automobile, housing, furniture, etc, and it's also important when the government need to make expenses: they will buy from the company who offer a good service at a fair price.

That's where capitalism fails. Capitalism doesn't directly make the poor wealthier, but if you make programs that help the poor, it will always have benefits to the rich. That's what I don't understand when the wealthy wants the poor to not be given aid: it might increase the wealthy's relative wealth, but not their absolute wealth.

I think the wealthy don't like socialism not because it doesn't reward their effort or their wealth, but because it gives them less decision power in general. Which is stupid, since wealthy people have a career in business, not in politics. I guess it boils down to an inferiority complex.

Also don't forget france's budget is mostly financed by the valude added tax, which doesn't exist in the US.

pilooch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Both my parents, and my sister have faced life threatening diseases, with lifetime treatment required. Call it bad luck. They benefit a 100% health insurance coverage for these diseases, for free. Had it not been the case, our family would not have been able to cope. This shared insurance system builds the society I want to live in.

IMO France now needs to rebuild its economy so it continues to support this gold standard system. Let's not let it degrade.

tluyben2 2 days ago 0 replies      
As others have said; this is normal in the EU (I'm not aware of exceptions in the EU). And I have never had to talk about finance at all in relation to healthcare; I think it's insult to injury to have to navigate insurance policies, bills etc while you or someone you love is ill, dying or died. Especially when you have insurance companies wiggling out of their responsibilities by not paying is a side of this much loved capitalism which I would not like to see appear here.
danielhunt 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'll be the first to admit ignorance on the Medicaid fiasco in the US, but stories like this really drive home the difference between European and US mentalities to healthcare

Being Irish, I'm used to a public healthcare system that, while slow and filled with red tape, does actually work.Private health insurance is expensive and quickly becoming something that can mean the difference between paying your mortgage or not, but still is seemingly better than whatever is going on across the pond

Definitely worth a read, if only to highlight the stark difference in approaches.

negrit 2 days ago 2 replies      
French living in the US here(California). I had to go to the general practitioner and I still don't understand how they can come up with prices as high as $400 when it cost me 22 euros back home for the exact same service.

Also my insurance company in France would rather pay for my flight ticket to go back home instead of going to the hospital in the US.

I've been in the US for almost 2 years now and it still puzzle me that I had to pay for STD test(!) and I still don't understand the US healthcare system.

scotty79 2 days ago 0 replies      
US hospitals created entities to negotiate with the suppliers to get better deals for them. At some point they stupidly decided that these entities can finance themselves by taking percentage on transactions (as opposed to being financed by the hospitals according to entities needs as it was till then). Then the thing went downhill from there. Entities got free, became for profit, concentrated, and now they stand in the middle between hospitals and suppliers taxing the trade between them and punishing everyone that wants to get free by making deal with other business partners of that hospital/supplier more expensive.
beilabs 2 days ago 0 replies      
My father passed away from cancer, he was given 3 months to live. I often believe he received a sub-standard level of care and wonder would things have been different if he lived in a country like France.

Work hard and pay high taxes all your life. Your country should take care of you when you need it the most.

ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The US will never have humane health care like France as long as we are locked into the insurance driven model.

And that fate has pretty much been sealed now for the next few generations, maybe even hundreds of years.

There are now many millions of people in the US that will never have health care under the insurance model because of the medicaid gap caused by the loophole the supreme court made and the states that refused medicaid expansion.

kremlin 2 days ago 3 replies      
French care for mothers giving birth could be better. My wife had to pay for a private midwife because the standard French treatment is to drug up the mothers as a matter of course and perform c-sections something like 10 times as often as necessary. Maternity wards are basically treated like baby drive-thrus. In and out as quickly as possible.

Which isn't to contradict that French health care is good; just pointing out an area in need of improvement.

puppetmaster3 2 days ago 0 replies      
In USA, we have legalized corruption to pay more for less:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Ignagni
nickpp 2 days ago 1 reply      
One advantage Western Eropean health car has that is not very often talked about is the brain drain from Eastern Europe.

Countless well prepared doctors from countries like Bulgaria and Romania leave to work and live in France, UK or Germany.

They are happy with the higher standar of life and better income in the west. However their education is subsidized by the East with the losses never recouped.

Without those doctors, the health care in Western Europe would be significantly worse, kind like how Silicon Valley would be without immigrants.

joesmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
A similar system in the US would allow millions to stop being dependent on their jobs for health insurance and possibly not accept the horrible working conditions they have here simply to avoid dying uncared for in a hospital.

We can't possibly have that here however. "Capitalism" (meaning oligarchy / monopoly based market control to Americans) must be applied dogmatically to everything, regardless of outcome.

michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
After all, people come from the all over the world for treatment at Sloan Kettering.

This is one of those claims that has to be attacked. Day after day, I hear people defend our horrible healthcare system by claiming that people on the "global rich list" still come "to the US" for healthcare. That was true in the 1980s. Not now.

No one who knows anything thinks highly of our healthcare system in general. Even if you have insurance, the quality of care is inferior to what many countries have for free.

What is true is that very wealthy people (for whom money is no issue) travel to specific doctors for treatment, especially when getting an experimental procedure. If that doctor's at Sloan Kettering, they go to New York. If she's in Paris, they go to France. If she's at Hopkins, they go to Baltimore. If that doctor's in London under NHS, they go to the UK. No one comes "to the US"; some people come to specific specialists.

Anyway, if you're an average American-- little wealth, no connections, unable to afford treatments insurance won't cover-- you're probably not going to be able to get appointments with those specialists no matter what.

The U.S. insurance-dominated healthcare system is a world-class embarrassment. It's the first sign that we're no longer a first world country.

rwissmann 2 days ago 1 reply      
This. All this hate for the European health care systems is just misguided and ignorant. Health care delivery is one of the few sectors of the economy that the US is not world class in (despite having the best medical research).

We all have our national pride and there are real philosophical difference on how to organize societies - and these differences matter. Being smart however includes the ability to sometimes ignore one's ego, compare solutions based on their merit, and learn from each other where possible.

vasilipupkin 2 days ago 1 reply      

US has better cancer survival rates than France

DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 1 reply      
As an American, I've been reading these kinds of articles for decades: country X has awesome attribute Y, why can't we have it?

Best I can figure, country X also has these undesirable attributes A, B, and C. The premise here is that you can pick and choose various best features of wildly divergent societies and then combine them, like eating at a buffet bar.

I do not believe this premise is valid. If you want socialized French-style medicine, then you also get national strikes that shut everything down, Mediterranean time reckoning, really bad enviornments for startups, and so on.

That doesn't make the effort worth abandoning. American healthcare is broken and it has remained broken through major political turmoil designed, presumably, to fix it. Just at some point, you have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to form political opinions based on how emotionally moved you can be from listening to just part of the story, or whether diving deeper is worth it for you. I applaud the French system's strengths and the efforts to improve our own. I'm just not sure how much here is useful. There's much more to this than "But if we could only just expand Medicaid!"

cognivore 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is apples to oranges. The French system is designed to provide medical care. The American system is designed to make money.
ThePhysicist 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think you could call this article the (North) European way of cancer treatment, since overall the healthcare systems and standards are pretty comparable in most of European countries (with the exception of some new member states and a few southern countries). In fact, as a EU citizen your public health insurance card will even cover treatment in other member states in some cases, although "health tourism" is in general not possible (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Health_Insurance_Car...). Personally I lived in Paris for three years and always tried to go back to Germany to see a doctor (which rarely happens) since I perceived the hygienic standards at hospitals and private practices to be a bit lower than in Germany, but maybe I'm a bit biased there as a German ;
prestadige 2 days ago 0 replies      
My suspicion is that both health care systems are unsustainable because of rising geriatric care costs. To counter this we'll be forced to navigate the minefields of legal euthanasia and life extension technologies.
Fizzadar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to see this on the HN homepage, it's about time americans started questioning why their insurance/healthcare system is focussed on money and not health.
yread 2 days ago 1 reply      
Even though the article started with saying it's stage 4 I kind of expected he would survive :(
mnml_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
You also need to understand something about French healthcare : money is where the risk is. Our Intensive care services are amazing, however basic depts are not that great.
duedl0r 2 days ago 1 reply      
welcome to Europe
fuckpig 2 days ago 0 replies      
Flogging the old "European socialism is the best" dead horse again, I see.

Comparing radically different countries always yields good results, right? It's important to also note the French are bankrupt and have massive internal problems.

It's great they shifted all of their effort into health care. It will make a nice epitaph.

bsaul 2 days ago 11 replies      
All of this is true, but americans have to realize one thing : all the drugs for cancer are created in the US. Because your system in general is expensive but that makes it possible to do research. Our doctors are not billionaires, our private hospitals aren't making an insane amount of money, and the state is collapsing under its debts. So almost nobody has the money to run research, and when they do, drug companies look for the american market to cover their costs.
Why is the mouse cursor slightly tilted and not straight? stackexchange.com
260 points by attheodo  13 hours ago   93 comments top 24
Stratoscope 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to see how misinformation propagates.

The second-highest-rated answer on Stack Exchange (46 votes and climbing) claims that another reason for the left arrow cursor in early GUIs was to put the hotspot at (0,0) to save time in the mouse position calculations:


The answer cites this Reddit comment as its source:


That comment is a direct copy of this Yahoo! Answers comment from 2009, which says that the Xerox Alto worked this way, but cites no source for the claim:


In fact, the Alto did have multiple cursor shapes, and the hotspot wasn't always at (0,0). For example there was this cross in a circle:


and a right-pointing arrow:


Let's ballpark the CPU overhead. According to this article, the Alto executed about 400,000 instructions per second, with an instruction set modeled after the Data General Nova 1220:


Here's a brief description of the Nova instruction set:


There are four accumulators, with an ADD instruction that adds one accumulator to another (and a similar SUB). There are LDA and STA instructions that load and store memory, addressed with a displacement and an optional accumulator (e.g. to access into a structure using a pointer).

It seems reasonable to assume that at some point in the mouse refresh code, we will have the mouse's X value in one accumulator, and a pointer to the cursor structure (containing the cursor bitmap, hotspot, etc.) in another.

So to adjust our X value using the hotspot X from our cursor structure, we simply need an LDA to load the hotspot X into another accumulator, and an ADD or SUB to do the calculation. Repeat that for Y, and we've added a total of four instructions.

At 400,000 instructions per second, these calculations would add a 1/100,000 second overhead to the mouse calculation.

A worst case might be that we don't have a free accumulator when we need it. So that would be another STA and LDA to spill one temporarily.

If we have to do that for both X and Y, it would put us at eight instructions total, or 1/50,000 second.

Still probably worth doing it to get the flexibility of custom cursor hotspots. :-)

eterm 13 hours ago 10 replies      
I remember windows 3.1 had a utility for drawing custom cursors. I had great fun making cursors (I was around 10 at the time I guess) and had completed forgotten about it until now!

I think that utility was a 16x16 grid, and indeed the easiest to see arrows utilsed the vertical, although actually a cursor which uses the horizontal and diagonal isn't bad either.

darkmighty 12 hours ago 6 replies      
Nobody seems to mention a pretty good reason also: standard western text (and content in general) is oriented right-to-left; therefore covering only one side seems to me intuitively less obstructing (we can read perfectly up to the click spot, instead of being confused by what's underneath it)
agumonkey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's funny how as a kid in the 80s, this was something you'd notice, think and feel about. I have no idea what were the computer system I was using[1] but I vividly remember staring at the cursor with interest.

[1] at my father's office, govt agency, something like an early x window system... can't recall

ps: actually, both physical interface mesmerized me, keyboards were curious creatures for me, here's a similar model of what was used http://goo.gl/gyD7R6 I love the non flat keys and the 0, 00, 000 series )

ii 9 hours ago 0 replies      
When an average right-handed person points at something his hand has a very similar shape. Imaging a large screen with some kind of a presentation and you are explaining something to the public and pointing at some object on the screen. The shape of your hand in this moment is the most natural thing for a pointer, immediately understandable by anyone.
ZoF 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I always assumed it was tilted slightly in order to have one of the sides of the default cursors triangle be parallel to the side of the screen.
memracom 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Jlio Turolla Ribeiro's answer is far better. I guess that young people have lost the ability to think outside the computer. Some of us still remember school classes, and business presentations in which presenters pointed at the board with their finger, or with a two meter long stick called a "pointer". The pointing was almost always in the same angle as the photo that Julio included, either from the left or the right. Of course, from the right is more natural for the right-handed majority.

The fact that some engineer tinkered with the computer representation of the pointer for code efficiency reasons, does not change the fact of hundreds of years of history in which teachers pointed at an angle from the right. I'm sure that if you hunt up old movies (black and white ones) where there is a school/university lesson being portrayed, you will see a pointer in use in this pose.

jere 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not really a "historical" reason though. A cursor is still a very small icon. It's pixel art. Choosing angles that look crisp is a foundation of making pixel art and I don't think screen densities are high enough to ignore that.
ebbv 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I always assumed because the point of the diagonal arrow cursor is located at 0,0 in the image, making the origin location of the mouse cursor image and the click point of the arrow the same. Whereas with any vertical arrow cursor, the click point would no longer line up with 0,0.
oneeyedpigeon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
ck2 12 hours ago 1 reply      
We owe so much to xerox, did they ever make money off all that R&D ?
cl8ton 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I was told a long time ago by someone who should know.

The tilt had a symbolic hidden meaning... It is pointing to the North-West to MS headquarters in Redmond.

Aoyagi 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I tried a straight upwards cursor once. It felt terrible. The tilt gives the cursor "extended hand" feel.
GoofballJones 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember drawing my own mouse pointer on my Amiga. Made it really small, could barely see it, but didn't take up as much space as the default.

Actually, quite easy to put anything you wanted as a mouse pointer on the Amiga.

indubitably 2 hours ago 0 replies      
coley 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know if this went into the decision making process, but with the cursor at an angle the OS can use the x,y coordinates of the cursor to find it's target, instead of having to offset the coordinates to compensate for a straight cursor.

I'm not sure if that's how cursors work.. just a thought.

edit: grammar is hard

sidcool 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A very interesting fact! I never even thought about it. Now I cannot stop thinking about all such small things. Great post.
gchokov 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There are so many little stuff left for ages due to technical limitations back them. It's fascinating.
dudus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Have we run out of questions for SE?
kimonos 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great question!
acex 5 hours ago 0 replies      
or why is tilted from bottom-right to top-left. ;
jokoon 10 hours ago 1 reply      
still no way to change the cursors under mac os x ?
rckrd 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always been confused as to the success of the computer mouse. It doesn't seem like the ideal solution. Then again, neither do trackpads.
lallysingh 12 hours ago 4 replies      
For HN, I expected a much deeper explanation than "it looked better on low res displays.". This isn't worth our time.
Frequency xkcd.com
250 points by jaimebuelta  18 hours ago   82 comments top 24
wulczer 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Almost two years ago the "The Pulse of Spain" was made, based on the same idea (disclaimer: the designers of this are also designers for our product (and dear friends)).

It's in Spanish, unfortunately. You have to click on the tiles to activate them and they'll start pulsating. If you have Flash, there'll be sound.

The link is:


thomasahle 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm struck by the PSR J1748-2446ad...

How can something with twice the mass of the sun spin a thousand times a second. An equator speed of 24% light speed...

The Universe is so strange...

jaimebuelta 17 hours ago 1 reply      

It should be noted how it's done, they are a bunch of individual gifs with different cyclic times. Genius.

deletes 16 hours ago 5 replies      
Thus far I have seen every gif blink except, for someone hits a hole-in-one, earthquake 4 and old faithful erupts.

I'm tempted to open the gifs and check the frequency.


I have looked at GIF format: http://www.onicos.com/staff/iz/formats/gif.html

Then I opened the image with fhread and found the offset for the delay time. Look for: Delay Time (1/100ths of a second). ( Since the delay time has only 2 bytes reserved that means the max delay would be 65535. That is why some gifs have more frames than the other, when by logic all would need to have the same count )

Then I opened the image with photoshop which shows every frame on a separate layer.

Then you just multiply the delay with the number of frames.

I got the ratio of 3786.72 to 1 for earthquake-1 to earthquake-4. e1 is about ~3s so that would make e4 occur every ~3 hours.

The ratio should be correct. But my seconds calculation was off by a factor of 4 for some reason. Maybe I missed some format specific stuff. You can try it for the rest of the GIFs if you want.


A very quick estimate, looking in the other files:

hole-in-one: ~50 minutes

old faithful erupts: ~4 hours

Wiki says 45 to 125 minutes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Faithful

jmnicolas 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I love how this XKCD guy has always new and interesting views on the world.

He must have a really rich inner life.

And I'd like to thank him for sharing his insights with us regularly.

dudus 14 hours ago 3 replies      
I haven't seen a single comment about the turn lights gifs.

that's something that always intrigued me. why mine and the one from the car in front of me never matches? I wonder if there's a reasonable explanation other then "by chance".

crucialfelix 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The first time I loaded the page each of the gifs would appear spaced a few seconds apart. So the table kept loading and adding rows and I could read each one as it was added. The requests are still being initiated 1m after initial page load.

That was a great effect, prolonging the initial experience. Its important in UI to pay attention to the time element - how the experience progresses for the user as they explore.

Now they are all in the cache so they appear right away. You have to clear cache to get the initial effect again.

MattBearman 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Best xkcd in ages, really interesting, and just beautiful to watch.
ajslater 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Its not HTML5 video. Shame.

Does anyone know enough about I-frame frequency limits in H.264 or WebM to tell us weather Randall could have included the pitch drop experiment?

qznc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I just realized that comic 1337 is near. :)
Houshalter 11 hours ago 1 reply      
That's a lot of babies. And a disconcerting number of deaths as well. I'm also surprised the number of mocking birds getting killed by cats isn't that far from the number of humans dying.
doktrin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Insightful as always, XKCD.

I'm a little surprised at the number of sharks being caught.

neals 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Those iPhone screens are pretty fragile, it seems.
gkya 14 hours ago 2 replies      
My stupid RSS reader showed this to me as a single, static image. I wouldn't see it in animation if it wasn't posted here, so thanks a lot for posting!
martypitt 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't help but feel that those damn North Dakotans should get out of bed and go adopt a Dog.

Alternatively... Amelia - Put away the Pepsi Max, and save a kitty.

sp332 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this Usenet Oracle response from 1990: http://cgi.cs.indiana.edu/~oracle/bestof.cgi?N=101-125#102-0...
idan 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to know where he's getting the data for these.
chrismcb 17 hours ago 0 replies      
That star must be dizzy!
cellover 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have always been amazed by the fact that the 2004 tsunami in Indian Ocean (227'000 deaths) cancelled the global human growth of one day...

Enlightening link, thank you for posting.

cs02rm0 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Somehow it gives me the (obviously mistaken) impressions that people have sex in North Dakota in the time it takes the gif to blink and that people in Phoenix put condoms on but aren't then having sex but are perhaps doing something with those new shoes.

Looks like there's scope for a startup or two around vibrators with the size of that market.

guard-of-terra 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Watching this while listening to electronic music is priceless btw.
SixSigma 14 hours ago 0 replies      
average frequency
giantrobothead 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Now, that is fun. Made the morning a bit more thoughtful.
brusch64 16 hours ago 1 reply      
reading this in my RSS reader i didn't understand it all. Seems like it couldn't show the GIFs correctly. On the web site I finally understand it.
By The Time You Give Them a Raise, Theyre Already Out The Door quora.com
252 points by ChrisBland  4 hours ago   166 comments top 33
tmoertel 1 hour ago 5 replies      
On the other hand, if you're an employee and not getting paid what you think you're worth, don't jump to the conclusion that you're being exploited or disrespected, and don't jump to the conclusion that you have to leave in order to get market rate. If you're happy with the team and with the work, consider just asking for what you want. Founders are crazy busy and, believe it or not, sometimes lose sight of "little" things like comp. Talking to them may be all it takes.
GavinB 2 hours ago 4 replies      
I've seen this claim over and over, but never any sort of citation or numbers. Lots of people get competitive offers, get a counteroffer, and then stay for years. I know a number of them personally.

The reason it seems like they never stay is that they don't talk about the offer they didn't accept. The negotiation happens over the course of a few days, and they don't mention it to the other employees. So there's a big bias in how frequently you hear about the negotiation. Whereas if they leave for another company, of course everyone knows about it.

sbt 2 hours ago 2 replies      
If this contains one great truth it's this

> By The Time You Give Them a Raise, Its Too Late.

I have seen this happen often. If you get a higher offer from a second company, you will think that the first employer paid you below par, which leads to a feeling of being taken advantage of. At that point, it doesn't really help if the offer is countered, the feeling of being exploited has already taken root.

Unfortunately, most managers just don't get this, or they somehow believe that they can counter offer. Maybe that works in sales/marketing, who knows, but I think it's different in dev.

krstck 2 hours ago 7 replies      
Can we quit with the "rock stars", "ninjas" and all that? We're not teenage boys, stop talking to us as though we are.
JunkDNA 59 minutes ago 4 replies      
This thread is both illuminating and depressing for me. I hire engineers at an academic medical center who work on really tough biomedical problems. Let's just say that I would have to move heaven and earth to get annual percentage raise amounts that are being thrown around here. I wonder how industries like healthcare can hope to have the best people with this job market. At some point, even if you are doing work that really matters in a big way, you can't be stupid about your career and leave money on the table. I wonder if this further drives non-IT focused organizations to SaaS offerings since they can't get talent to do things in house?
ryguytilidie 1 hour ago 8 replies      
My last boss, when I asked for a raise, said "Explain to me why I should give you a raise". I said nevermind, started looking for a new job and left. Shockingly, when I informed them, there was a higher offer waiting. You seriously wonder what goes on in these people's brains.
Jormundir 39 minutes ago 1 reply      
Though not the focus of the article, I have a huge problem with the idea that leaders should pick out their best employees and reward them, while leaving the others treading water on their own.

I am in the middle of watching a team constantly churn, unable to retain many talented developers, specifically because the managers are only rewarding those they think are the best engineers, but are actually rewarding very mediocre employees they trust. My advice to everyone, especially managers, is do not try to pick out your "best" employees and reward them exclusively!

My team has hired 6 engineers over the last 2 years; the distribution has been pretty even: 2 really great engineers, 2 decent ones, and 2 sub-par ones. Going in to the 2 years, the team had 5 engineers 1 really great, and the rest swimming between mediocre and great. The two managers try to follow the advice in the article, and it has been disastrous. Of those 6 engineers they hired, the two really great ones were out the door in 8 months and 1 year respectively, and just last week the 1 great engineer already on the team announced he was leaving. The problem feels like failure to launch. These talented people come in, are doing good work, and then feel there's no room to grow. The source is obvious, the managers have picked out 2 of the mediocre engineers who they feel are their "best", the "talent" doing the most work and attracting other great "talent". The "talent" is rewarded with the big projects, which in turn makes management think they're working harder, while the other engineers are left with the scraps. The result is simple -- genuinely great engineers take a few steps in the door, quickly realize the problem, and turn around to get out the door as fast as they can. It's really sad.

The advice of the article is good for the most part, just really be incredibly careful about choosing your "best" as a manager. It's far better to make sure you're fostering your whole team.

pcrh 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't know if it is the writing style or something else, but this comes across to me as being written by someone who has difficulty empathizing with their employees.

After all, the opposite of the advice presented would be to ignore the ambitions of your most important employees, underpay them, and never speak to them.

The fact that not doing the foregoing is seen as a novel insight is not encouraging.

kabdib 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What drove me from Microsoft was:

- A culture of burnout (really, really bad death marches, mostly because upper management had fucked up by dithering about what products to make)

- A lack of respect for engineering quality (when the build for your project is broken for weeks at a time, you'd expect management to get a clue -- I mean, what are managers for? -- rather than ask about how things are going with the schedule)

- A lack of respect for your time, realized as a reluctance to buy equipment (I got my build times down to two hours, from four hours, by buying my own computers. Yup, I probably spent $5K on computers while I was at MS because my managers didn't see the benefit in buying faster hardware), and by scheduling tons of nonsense meetings.

- Politics (oh God, the politics). MS needs to fire about half of its "partner" rank people. There are good eggs there, really smart people, but then there are the ones who . . . aren't. (When they do get around to axing half of the partners, I'm betting it'll be the wrong half).

A year and a bit later, I'm at a place where they realize that the most valuable thing is your time, and equipment is Not A Problem. It's a great thing when you're the bottleneck.

adamors 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> Pay market, or above, as soon as you can. Its a sign of respect.

And just as importantly, the lack of a decent compensation/raise is a sign of disrespect. I also factor here places that expect their developers (especially young ones who advance exponentially at the beginning) to either stay at the same pay grade for years or suck it up with a 5% raise.

fnordfnordfnord 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I've jumped to a greener pasture a couple times. I always gave plenty of signals but I never made threats about leaving. He's right, by the time I've made the decision to look elsewhere and found another job, there isn't much that can be done to reverse that course of action.

Also, if you don't pay severance or have me on contract, you aren't likely to get much notice.

nahname 3 hours ago 4 replies      
>The thing is you cant counter. Its too late by that point.

Unless the employee is leaving for money. Junior employees HAVE to jump jobs 2-3 times to get to their market rate.

alain94040 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fine, I'll share my true story of how to negotiate a raise when you are an introvert and without being seen as a job-hopper.

Tell your boss: I'm getting unsollicited offers for 20-30% more than I'm currently making here. Can you fix that?

This has worked successfully to go from low $100K to >$130K.

It works for two reasons

  1. It shows you know your market value - this is not a number you are making up  2. You are not being unfaithful to your boss, you didn't go out and sollicit those offers, they just happened

arecurrence 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> Pay market, or above, as soon as you can. Its a sign of respect.

This is the best advice I can give any software engineering firm. I've left companies large and small chiefly because they waited until I gave notice to bring my salary in line with my performance. If you have a top engineer and haven't given them a raise in 9 months, they are seriously considering their options.

A lot of people act like compensation shouldn't matter. All the senior people in your company care VERY MUCH about their compensation. If you become good friends with them you will see this very clearly.

You deserve it just as much.

scrabble 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not getting paid as much as I would like. I've brought it up with my manager on multiple occasions. I'm now about 18 months with no raise, and I've been told that this round of performance reviews does not come with a raise either. But I'm constantly reminded of just how valuable I am to the company.

So, I've done what I think anyone else would do and have talked to someone at another company about another position. If I get an offer, I'm likely to take it. I'm highly unlikely at that point to accept a counteroffer.

It feels like I'd maintain a better relationship with my current employer by quitting for a better offer than by seeking and accepting a counteroffer and then leaving later.

Accepting a counteroffer would feel like the company would expect me to "owe" them, and I don't owe anything to any employer.

yalogin 3 hours ago 4 replies      
First off a link on Quora did not bug me about a login - weird.

Second, all this talk about hiring "rock stars" and retaining them but I heard no one talking about bad hires. Does any one want to share stories about bad hires and why it was a wrong decision? I believe companies put too much emphasis on hiring the correct person. I understand if its the first few employees but after that does it really matter? Unless the person is a real asshole (and he did not care enough to hide it during the interview) does it really matter?

pjungwir 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I was very happy to see this one:

> Find a Growth Path for Everyone, Especially the Great Ones.

I've done a few interviews in the last few years, and whenever I ask about career path, they always stumble, even companies with 50+ employees. "We have a flat org chart." I've pretty much decided that it's up to me to advance my career via freelancing, because as an employee you hit a ceiling very fast.

noonespecial 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'd go even further. If you're in the mentality where you're trying to jjjuuust time that minimal raise to prevent desertion, you've already lost in the way the author is pointing at.

The best companies see high performing employees as systems(1) that receive relatively small amounts of money as input and produce great amounts of value in output. The more money in, the more value out. The question should be how much money they can shovel in the front end before the "unit(1)" burns out. (Active cooling via free food, daycare, and flexible schedules doesn't hurt either)

(1) Yes they see you as a simple value proposition. As an employee, you are accounted for in exactly the same way as the contract for that big Xerox printer out front. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Any company that leans too heavily on that "part of the family" schtick is a place you want to be wary of.

mbesto 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is solid. I constantly remind my co-founder he can walk out and get a $100k+ salary somewhere else (I actually told him to go interview elsewhere - and I would provide a reference - just to prove it). By doing this it opens the discussion for why he wants to stick it out, and I'm quite confident by the aforementioned actions that I know I'm not wasting his time nor is he wasting mine.
devrelm 3 hours ago 3 replies      
> There are some very tell-tell signs of someone interviewing. Out of the office at weird hours. Talking on their mobile phone on the sidewalk

I've been that employee. As my dad (a farmer) says, "the hired man wants a day off to go look for another job." There are many tell-tale signs that an employee is looking for another job, and the article is absolutely right thatuntil the they put in their noticeit is rarely too late to change their mind.

zallarak 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
I believe a handful of motivated, and skilled engineers is more valuable than a large team. I think it is very wise for employers to spend lots of time finding a few great engineers and motivating/retaining them with high salaries and equity exposure. The advantage of having a smaller yet more talented team also has a wide variety of business-level benefits including better cultural direction, less management overhead, more accountability, etc.
chavesn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This goes along with my One Universal Truth: "You get what you pay for."

The only real way to win on price is to find employees who don't know any better, and then, well, you have employees who didn't know any better. Did you really win?

tjmc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Just out of interest - where's the best place to find market rates?
memracom 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Feedback, yeah!

It's odd how so many software companies claim to be Agile and when it comes to employer/employee relations they toss the Agile Manifesto out the window. Agile is founded on communications and short feedback loops.

Please apply this wisdom in all of your internal business affairs, not just in development activities.

31reasons 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How about this algorithm ?Whenever someone leaves, present two choices to the team:1. Divide the salary of the person just left equally among the peers. For example, In the team of 5 developers, Joe was making 100k per year and he left the position. Give $25 raise to each developer in the team.OR2. Hire new person.

There should be a self-stabilizing compensation system where employee don't have to leave purely on the issue of low compensation.

skittles 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Article says to talk to your talent at least once a quarter. You should do it once a week.
goofygrin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think a harder thing is making the decision to cut someone if they aren't making the cut. A lot of times it's like a bad girlfriend. The thought of being alone is worse than the pain you're going through... Especially if it's early and everyone is drinking from the proverbial fire hose.
mindvirus 2 hours ago 2 replies      
A good senior engineer these days costs somewhere around $200k/year (if not more) in a major US tech hub, factoring in overhead costs of salary and benefits. This is something that most seed or series A companies can't really afford.

So my question is, as salaries rise, how will this affect the startup industry? Where $1 million could buy you 8 people for a year before, now it can only buy you 6. This seems to make bootstrapping much more difficult. It also seems like this may end up causing certain startups to be impossible, since they require much more money than they would have normally.

Anyway, thoughts?

rrggrr 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fit. Fit isn't about any one thing: money, manager, work or culture, but any one thing badly out of alignment can destroy fit. Retention means having lines of communication open with important roles and important people (not always the same) and judging the health of the fit.
gangster_dave 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have good resources that describe what new engineers should expect in terms of salary during the first few years of their career?
throwaway-to1 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm presently confused about what to make of my renumeration where I am now...

I was supposed to have my yearly review three months ago, and the owners are out of office or busy so much I can't get a moment of their time.

Last year I got an 8% raise and 8% bonus. This year I got a 2.5% raise and a 10% bonus. I don't know why, and feel communication is unattainable to me now. I've been pondering looking for jobs... I know how hard it is to simply find a skilled and well rounded programmer in Ontario, much less one who can write clean complex systems. I just want to know why that was my deal this year. It doesn't help that I'm paranoid I'm grossly incompetent at what I do, and fearful others think that about me despite the fact I have stronger skills than most programmes I meet in this city.

I look at careers sites more and more as my career-paranoia fluctuates.

I'm posting this as a data point in the model of programmers looking to quit.

Bahamut 2 hours ago 1 reply      
As the type of employee described here, I think companies would do well paying their employees what they're worth. The only reason I've had to consider switching so far is due to significant pay differences.
balls187 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Rather than say "givem a raise" have the constructive dialog: are you happy, and what can I do to keep you happy.
De La Soul to Make Entire Catalog Available for Free rollingstone.com
236 points by grahamel  3 days ago   125 comments top 25
jfasi 3 days ago 7 replies      
Here's my thinking about the decision on the part of an artist to release their entire catalog to the public for free: if digital distribution has rendered direct sales to the customer significantly less worthwhile than it once was, they need some alternate source of promotion and revenue. A move like this would likely increase the artists' visibility in the public's eye without significantly harming their total revenues.

Notice that they give out copies of their songs, but don't release their copyright: want to download their music to listen to it on your iPod? Awesome, enjoy. Want to remix it or use it in a commercial setting? The music isn't licensed for that, you're going to have to talk to their agents.

This move is genius: it increases artists' exposure, ultimately leading to increased sales, licensing, and presumably also concert revenues. There's basically no downside to this.

dorfe 3 days ago 1 reply      
The context here, which I haven't seen mentioned, is that De La Soul cannot release much of their catalog digitally given the way their contracts are structured. As a result, all material before Grind Date (2004) is not available on digital stores/platforms like iTunes, et al.

De La negotiated their contracts well before Internet distribution and revenue was germane. Oddly, this is sometimes described as distribution "throughout the universe". This is actually not an uncommon problem for artists from this era who relied heavily on samples (i.e., hip-hop).

Would they have cleared samples used on their albums "in perpetuity", giving De La the widest distribution license available (read: for use forever), we would not be talking about De La Soul releasing music for free online. We'd be buying it on iTunes and they'd be compensated for it. End of story.

Instead, De La makes most of their money off CD sales and touring, which is a tough spot as CDs are entering obsolescence and touring, especially at their age, must be grueling. On the flip side, the good news here is De La Soul and early hip-hop pioneers are seeing a resurgence (IMHO well-deserved) and getting the music out there by any means necessary is a crucial step to be heard. Go see them on tour, buy their gear or even a CD (ha) if you're feeling it.

Tashtego 3 days ago 3 replies      
One thing I don't see anyone in these comments taking into account- this is music that, for various sampling law / licensing reasons, they have never been able to sell or stream online. They seem to be giving it away because they've run out of options for getting it in the hands of their fans otherwise.
darklajid 3 days ago 3 replies      
Well, that was an interesting idea.. They decided to distribute the files via ... Dropbox.

Missing AOI: Bionix now, because

Error (509)This account's public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!

Jacqued 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those wondering, I've just started to download them, the albums are 100-160MB each, so that seems to be in the range for FLAC or 320 MP3

Edit : I can confirm, they are 320 mp3s

Edd314159 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's funny is one of the albums they've put up for download ("De La Soul is Dead") seems to itself been downloaded from a piracy website. This album lacks any ID3 data except for a link to "http://rappalata.net/". I can't read Russian, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't look too legitimate. (EDIT: Correction: all tracks have that link)
dylanz 3 days ago 1 reply      
They take the marquee up out of the biz.

As a long time De La fan, this was a great thing to wake up to. They fell out of my daily playlist for a while because I'm horrible at keeping my devices synced. Now I have it engrained in my mind that I can download their catalog at anytime, so they'll probably be the first "go to" music in a lot of future situations.

yardie 3 days ago 1 reply      
To me "Stakes is High (1996)" was their first album I really liked. And I can't find it online anywhere (not the warez servers, I support my artists). At the moment all I have is an empty CD case as someone has absconded with my CD.
eponeponepon 3 days ago 2 replies      
If this turns out to be all 128k mp3s, I am going to be thoroughly irked.

...and then proceed to grab the lot anyway, of course.

orblivion 3 days ago 1 reply      
I entered my gmail address with a "+" in order to differentiate mail coming from this direction, and it considered my address invalid.
waylandsmithers 3 days ago 0 replies      
...for 25 hours starting at 11AM Eastern, not indefinitely
hiphopyo 3 days ago 3 replies      
Check my homage to the guy who produced their best beats:


http://bit.ly/1dOAbq9+ preview)

aye 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is huge. This is amazing. Not only are De La Soul incredible artists, but their work isn't available on Rdio. I had De La Soul is Dead on cassette -- I definitely know what I'll be doing at 11 am (servers willing).
ItendToDisagree 3 days ago 2 replies      
Do we think Trent Reznor, Thom Yorke, and others may follow suit? I really hope so!!
NAFV_P 3 days ago 1 reply      
Talking about sought after hip-hop, the article reminded me of this:


majani 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Much more than they can see is how it'll always be, believe me"

De La Soul - Much More http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VojfkAZZqXA

cycojesus 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Error (509)This account's public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!"
antocv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesomeness, De La Soul is the cream of Hip Hop.

More artists should follow this example, and we HNers should listen to Stakes is High and "What we do for (love)" when nature calls. Its valentines after all.

grahamel 3 days ago 1 reply      
They've started now - http://www.wearedelasoul.com/Process is: choose an album/albums, enter an email, click link in email, get message saying they'll be ready in about an hour
n2j3 3 days ago 3 replies      
So who's gonna be the one to tell De La Soul of the BitTorrent file distribution system?
jgeerts 3 days ago 1 reply      
Noooo... I want to give them my money.
barlescabbage 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's some bands like wilderness survival(http://www.wildernesssurvivalmusic.com)that have always given away their music. Perhaps, this is how things will work going forward.
ndrake 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Dropbox links are working for me now.
vfarmm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Received my download link downloaded to my galaxy phone but reads file cant be opened
bashcoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not a good enough offer - they would have to pay me to download these.
Hacking Flappy Bird with Machine Learning sarvagyavaish.github.io
228 points by sarvagyavaish  2 days ago   50 comments top 22
habosa 2 days ago 4 replies      
I really want to build a Lego Mindstorms robot (or similar) that watches my phone with a webcam, holds a stylus, and plays Flappy Bird. I have played enough (high score 194) that I am pretty sure I know the right strategy, I just want to take human error out of the equation.

Are there open source vision libraries that are low-latency enough to play this in real time? Assuming the robot could keep up with some regular servos. Would be a very interesting project.

Edit: I'm thinking I could run an Android emulator, and then use MonkeyRunner with Python OpenCV processing my monitor to do the work. Anyone who has any relevant experience please reply, I'd love to hear if this is feasible.

brandonb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool! It's remarkable that you can get a good score with effectively only two features: vertical distance from the lower pipe and horizontal distance from the next pair of pipes.

I suspect you could cut the training time by an order of magnitude with a different optimization algorithm, or just by varying alpha. For example, have you considered trying something like a line search? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_search

Blahah 2 days ago 0 replies      
By far the most interesting 'flappy bird' post so far.
dwetterau 2 days ago 0 replies      
Neat AI approach to play it. When this first blew up 5 or so days ago I threw together a simple javascript bookmarklet that played the game at: http://www.mrspeaker.net/dev/game/flappy/

It's really poorly formatted and has unused code in it but it was fun to automate and watch. http://pastebin.com/yTmdWgfC

To use it just install the bookmarklet, click on it and then start the game. Press space to make it die.

primaryobjects 2 days ago 2 replies      
Neat. You could also probably do this with a genetic algorithm. Thinking out loud here:

- Have a neural network with 6 inputs for:

   - player x   - player y   - acceleration speed   - acceleration direction   - next pipe mid-point x   - next pipe mid-point y
- Two outputs of 0 or 1 for click or no-click

The fitness score would be how close the player is to the pipe mid-point. Hopefully, this would cause the bird to stay as close as possible to fly between the pipes. The genetic algorithm would select the best neural network that knows when to flap based on the current input state.

potash 2 days ago 2 replies      
How hard would it be to solve this deterministically?

Can someone comment on the game's physics? I am assuming:

  - constant horizontal velocity  - gravity  - flapping implemented via impulse  - collisions are handled with bounding boxes
Maybe someone who knows something about optimal control (ODE) say whether this is analytically solvable? Of course there's still the practical stuff (numerical integration, I/O lag) to deal with but I'm optimistic.

pilooch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reinforcement learning (RL) is the future of real-world AI. Bear my words ;) RL has been around for a long time, it is the mix of optimal (in the optimization sense) decision making along with machine learning (ML). It does benefit of most recent advances in ML. As such it is likely to power the next batch of 'intelligent' applications and services.
ronaldx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The video seems jerky in a way which suggests the engine is taking longer to make decisions at certain points in the cycle.

Is that plausible? Or just my imagination?

mrtksn 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was waiting for something like this, but I expected somebody to build a flappy bird playing robot :)

Do you know some good literature for machine learning 101? Where to start?

fogleman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a two-dimensional chart that plots Click vs Do Nothing for the two input parameters. (Vertical distance from lower pipeand Horizontal distance from next pair of pipes
shurcooL 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me (vaguely) of the AI I made for a worm-in-tunnel game long ago.


(It's there in the background of the main menu.)

fogleman 2 days ago 0 replies      
The GIF shown on this page makes it look like the input space could simply be pipe height and bird height.


judk 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you learn that all actions `a` from state `s_i` have very low reward, does that propagatet backward to `s_j,a` that feed into `s_i`?
nathan_f77 2 days ago 0 replies      
Had the same idea when I first played the game, but didn't do anything about it. Well done for doing it!
vinchuco 2 days ago 0 replies      
good job! now you have to do it with http://corpsmoderne.itch.io/flappy-space-program and deal with the complications
bjd 2 days ago 0 replies      
How funny is it that I find this post by searching for monkeyrunner and opencv? When I was looking into this for the same silly reason.
bamos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool post! Minor typo: Monekyrunner -> monkeyrunner
kookiekrak 2 days ago 1 reply      
can you build one for this? http://kookiekrak.itch.io/flappy-pipes
FlyingLawnmower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Beating the unbeatable with science. I like it.
geek90 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome work!
dpanah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tre sweet
kevonc 2 days ago 0 replies      
impressive work man!
Show HN: A simple IP address API ipinfo.io
229 points by zvanness  3 days ago   116 comments top 43
jgrahamc 3 days ago 9 replies      
I use https://freegeoip.net/ which gives you output in JSON, CSV or XML and has a limit of 10,000 requests per hour. The limit of 1,000 per day on this service is too low.
WestCoastJustin 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are looking to build something like this, check out MaxMind @ http://www.maxmind.com/en/city
jfasi 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is interesting. IP address databases are typically bought and sold for figures in the thousands. This service presumably purchases one or some of these and attempts to make up the cost by providing it on an as-needed basis.

I wonder if there are any additional data sources that can just be bought wholesale and sold in pieces? Think of all the applications that needed very precise IP address data but couldn't afford the whole dataset. They can now exist!

I could also be wrong and this isn't at all the approach this service takes...

throwaway420 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks very well done and useful.

Usually though I just use http://www.moanmyip.com for the weirdness of it. Or pretty much any search engine includes that up top when you search for "ip address".

squeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to be a huge jerk - I think the service is cool - but IPv4 exhaustion is months away! All of the major GeoIP vendors have IPv6 support. It's simultaneously saddening and frustrating that it might as well not exist.
msantos 3 days ago 2 replies      
I use http://ip-api.com/ and I find it works great (docs: http://ip-api.com/docs/).

It provides response formats: xml, json, csv, newline separated, serialized php. And enforce a limit of 240 requests per minute (that's 14,400 per hour for the lazy).

Fun fact, if you're running tor (tor- as proxy not the browser) you'll see the tor exit node in "IP:" and your actual ip i "Real IP:", thanks to gdns' EDNS (https://gdns.re/edns-demo/)

disbelief 3 days ago 2 replies      
I just finished integrating geo IP lookups into an app I'm working on, using a library that queries a number of the free IP lookup services out there. Something that I've learned from this is just how hard it is to stay on top of IP geolocations. Most of the free services use incomplete or outdated databases, and if you want decent accuracy you probably need to opt for a paid package from a company who has the resources to track IP address location changes, and keep their database up to date.

So, I'm wondering, does ipinfo.io maintain their own database, or do they sub-license someone else's database? If they're maintaining their own, how good are they at keeping it valid and updated and what is the coverage like?

zvanness 3 days ago 1 reply      

I posted this for a friend: https://twitter.com/coderholic

He's the guy behind Lighbox.com which Facebook acquired, really awesome guy!

I guess he'll be wondering where all the sudden traffic is coming in from!

jfasi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Recommendation: I have the feeling your sales would be significantly boosted if you added some sort of tiered service plans on top of your free tier, instead of requiring the frictionful process of reaching out to a sales address.
chbrown 2 days ago 0 replies      
About 8 miles less accurate than MaxMind -- 11 miles wrong vs. Maxmind's 3. I'm always curious: what is the provenance of services like this one / MaxMind my ISP? Some past inadvertant GPS-enabled requests that leak out?
zaphoyd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any plans for IPv6 support?
antoncohen 3 days ago 1 reply      
In a shell script you can do:

    MYIP="`curl -s http://ipinfo.io/ip`"
http://myip.enix.org/REMOTE_ADDR is similar.

colmmacc 3 days ago 2 replies      
zvanness, would you be interested in also implementing this;

    http://whatsmyresolver.stdlib.net/    curl -L  http://whatsmyresolver.stdlib.net/resolver/      
? It should be relatively easy to add (happy to explain how it works), and I'm personally longing to turn off my service!

whitehat2k9 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm on a campus network that reverse proxies all HTTP traffic. The service shows my internal 10.x.x.x IP. Just a heads-up that you might want to fix your handling of X-Forwarded-For headers.
lpgauth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone done research on quality of geo DB? I've personally prefer Maxmind because of the format of the DB, but Netacuity seemed to be giving more up to date results.
brokenparser 2 days ago 0 replies      
A strange site, it doesn't support IP at all: http://ip6.nl/#!ipinfo.io

It merely does legacy IP, so what's the point?

doktrin 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's the underlying GeoIP database?
aabalkan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't support IPv6 :)
mike-cardwell 3 days ago 1 reply      
Noticed this:

JSONP support: http://ipinfo.io/?callback=test

Paid JSONP support: https://ipinfo.io/?callback=test

owenversteeg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm. For me it was off by 20 miles. Not bad considering that most other GeoIP services get my location off by several hundred miles.

I'll probably be using this. Thanks!

angryasian 3 days ago 1 reply      
"city": null,"region": null,"country": "US"

At least it got the US part right.

corford 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my case it was off by 55 miles so the address, lat/lng and postcode were wrong but other than that ok (my ISP is Andrews and Arnold).

Why not just use Maxmind though?

vertex-four 3 days ago 3 replies      
This believes that I am in London. I am most decidedly not in London.

FreeGeoIP thinks I'm in Edinburgh, which is only slightly better.

Phil_Latio 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why would anyone pay for this? Maxmind is the industry standard and way cheaper.
NigelTufnel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting latitude = 60.0000, longitude = 100.0000 for my IP. Which is about 1000 km away from me.
niklasber 1 day ago 0 replies      
I created a Bash script using this service: https://github.com/niklasberglund/ipinfo
seanalltogether 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are you placing all virgin media uk customers in London? I'm in belfast.
jimmytucson 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just like the fact that this could have been called "iPapi".
vld 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://ip-api.com/ is also a nice alternative, with JSON, CSV, XML, and others.
motyar 3 days ago 1 reply      
http://ip-api.com/ provides correct details. http://ipinfo.io/ showing that I am in US.
natch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice... can we have a trailing newline on the JSON?
sinzone 3 days ago 0 replies      
ishener 3 days ago 0 replies      
here is a free, simple, and accurate geolocation service:http://free-geolocation.appspot.com/
brohee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Complete with completely wrong geolocation...
elbii 3 days ago 0 replies      
It incorrectly states my IP is a Tor exit node when in fact it's just a relay.

I'll go ahead and file an issue with the github lib.

tomasien 2 days ago 0 replies      
You just got yourself a customer!
watson 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the hostname is unknown, the json hostname property should probably be null instead of the string "No hostname"
koloron 3 days ago 0 replies      
"postal" and "loc" are a bit off in my case. My true location is about 6km away from "loc".
mivv 3 days ago 0 replies      
You have a typo on the /developers page. It says client-sde I'm assuming it should say client-side.
danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was going to say that there was a small typo when trying out

" is a bogon or private IP address that should not appear on the Internet."

But then I learned that "bogon' is actually a word:


And re-reading the sentence, I'm not sure what "bogon" would be a typo for anyway..."Vogon"? Anyway, good handling of an edge/nonsense case!

lifeeth_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
You should probably add -> "add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=31536000;" to your nginx config.
gregw134 3 days ago 0 replies      
my-ip.heroku.com is a very simple alternative.
limsup 3 days ago 1 reply      
awesome! what technology do you use?
The Star Trek Economy medium.com
228 points by FD3SA  3 days ago   229 comments top 44
thaumaturgy 3 days ago 12 replies      
So, economic models are more or less based on, or at least constrained by, human psychology, right? Communism and socialism don't work because peoples' brains aren't wired to do lots of work for little or no or unequal reward. This isn't restricted to just people, either, it's been observed in monkeys (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0917_030917_..., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKhAd0Tyny0 -- it's a short video and pretty hilarious, worth a watch).

At the same time, capitalism has serious flaws, also exploited by human psychology. Capitalism rewards not just work and the investment of capital but also greed and cheating.

So, when looking for a new economic model, why not go back to psychology? Is it really true that most people don't want to work? There are some people who are content to receive a small stipend and spend their lives jut getting by without doing very much, but does that describe enough people to cause the collapse of a strong welfare society?

I think we probably are headed towards a post-scarcity (or low-scarcity) economy. Food costs as percentage of income in the U.S. have fallen quite a bit just in the last thirty years (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-28/americas-shr...). People are already going to find that it takes less real effort to survive (http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21596529..., posted earlier to HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7235810). A different economic model seems inevitable.

Likewise, there will probably always be jobs that people don't want to do. Take oil rig work for example: hard, dangerous work, and it pays well, starting at the U.S. median wage for unskilled, inexperienced labor (http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/10/news/economy/oil_workers/) and going up from there.

As long as demand for this labor doesn't fall, if the available labor pool continues to shrink, those jobs should net greater incomes.

Maybe we'll see an economy, not quite like Star Trek's, but with a large leisure class and a well-paid class of plumbers, construction workers, mechanics, and technicians.

That would be kinda neat.

harshreality 3 days ago 8 replies      
I think this is a useless exercise. The economics of Star Trek won't be coherent, because it was pieced together through multiple series and some wishful thinking while retaining certain properties needed for the universe to be interesting. You can't have a TV show about drone ships flying around and beaming back exploration data via subspace.

Without Star Trek replicators in the foreseeable future, all the 3d printing and robots in the world will not give us unlimited amounts of basic materials needed. Concrete and glass might be virtually unlimited, but certain metals are definitely not. If those resource constraints lead to energy constraints, we'll have problems getting to any sort of proto-post-scarcity stage at current standards of living. AI might solve the problem, but the consequences of AI are unpredictable (singularity).

A few books on the subject worth mentioning, but not mentioned in the essay:

Doctorow - Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (fiction, set in a speculative world where the economic system is based on units of social status called whuffies; everyone is born with some, if I recall right (nope, apparently I was wrong, it's not zero-sum), and from there it's a free market).

Rifkin - The End of Work (nonfiction, takes a look at how society might function as jobs gradually disappear due to technology).

Iain Banks's Culture universe is mentioned in the further reading section, but it's completely post-scarcity on planet and orbital scales, with AIs running everything. The aforementioned books are much closer to home.

landryraccoon 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
Here's a problem with the post scarcity economy. There will be long lines everywhere.

Let's suppose Sisko's restaurant is actually good. Now people want to eat there. There are two options: either Sisko raises the price until the number of people that can eat there matches the number of seats (supply and demand) OR there's a huge line outside the restaurant until the wait time is high enough that most people don't want to eat there anymore. Since there is no money in this hypothetical society, option #2 is the only possibility. And in fact, this is going to happen at every good restaurant in the Federation. The only restaurants without lines will be the ones that suck, and the length of the line will be exactly proportional to how desireable it is to eat there.

Now you could say that there are tons of restaurants as good as Siskos. But unless human beings have radically changed and there are NO FOODIES whatsoever, there will be some restaurants that are better than others, and a significant fraction of people will prefer the better ones. And the absolute quality of the restaurants relative to today doesn't matter AT ALL - all that matters is that some are better than others. The only plausible reason for Siskos to not have a line is that it is at best an average place to eat. (I shudder to imagine how long the lines must be for the best restaurant in the Federation on Valentine's Day! I think a black market based on Latinum would emerge based just on that).

So, one thing that the article doesn't realize is that the absolute amount of resources available is fairly tangential to the issue of money. The issue really is that people have differing preferences. Even in a society where nobody starves because you can produce an infinite amount of food, some people will want to eat at a nicer place. "Nicer" is always relative to what is commonly available so no matter how good the restaurants are, unless they are all equally good, there will be higher demand for the better ones.

See, you don't get around this problem by making more of everything. Suppose the Macdonalds of the future is the quality of a three star michelin restaurant today. Some people will want to eat at the magical 4 star michelin restaurants, but there won't be enough of them to go around. So there will be a line, or a cost.

Udo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The fundamental take-away here is that old systems die, whether proponents of the old system believe it's possible or not. I think parallels can be drawn between a lot of articles written by people so deeply embedded in the status quo they literally can't fathom their pet concept might go away at some point in the future. And sure enough, this one is written by a venture capitalist.

Of course, a post-scarcity world is inherently incomprehensible to people who are economists, in much the same way a rational world motivated by ethics is incomprehensible to a religious person. The first sign of this is vocabulary, they'll insist on a "post scarcity economy" or a "religion of science" respectively. While it's probably true that there will always be aspects of supply and demand, and it's likely also true that people will always believe in certain ideas, it's really questionable if these terms as they're being used still mean anything.

These word choices are a subconscious expression of the perceived impossibility of an idea. For example, a world with (almost) no manual labor. Or a world where things are so abundant that for practical purposes of daily life there is no shortage of supply.

When looking at Star Trek it's first and foremost important to keep in mind that these are stories intended to entertain. As such it's moot to try and incorporate every episode of every show into some kind of big common canon. The issue is not whether "Federation Credits" (must) exist, the trick here is to look at the broader concept presented.

There are scientific indications that the general idea of the Star Trek "economy" is valid. When a civilization gets access to advanced robotics, the ability to mine entire star systems for resources, and advanced 3d printers, it generates a setting that pretty much speaks for itself. The interesting aspect here is that this state of affairs is very likely in the cards for humanity's future.

Of course, there are extremely strong aspects of our society still prominent in Star Trek. This is grossly unrealistic, but probably necessary for storytelling purposes. For example, DS9 was really out of touch with the in-universe realities of manufacturing and labor, but it made for some pretty awesome stories.

I believe in the future we have a choice to make when it comes to scarcity, and the battle lines are already drawn today. People who are invested in the status quo will not only tell everyone it's impossible but they will go to great lengths in keeping scarcity alive. Artificial scarcity perpetrated by big powerful players is already a big staple in today's system, and that's only going to get more audacious with growing technical capabilities. I think a good argument could be made that this will lead to horrific social and economic pathologies, and it probably already has.

The big reason the alternatives are scary to a lot of people is not just because they fear a loss of traditional values and social cohesion. It's scary to them because this kind of future is inherently experimental and so far doesn't seem to yield itself to planning from on-high. This means there will most likely be a huge loss of power and influence in the turmoils ahead and it's going to be very difficult to port existing power structures to that new kind of society.

Whether this fundamental transformation is even stoppable in the long run is an open question. There are certainly scenarios imaginable where we just stagnate instead of moving on. It's also not inconceivable that the human civilization might fracture and split up into different groups pursuing their own trajectories - and at least one of them might elect to keep scarcity alive indefinitely.

JumpCrisscross 3 days ago 3 replies      
One capitalist hybrid which does not distort the market is a free market with a basic income [1], i.e. an unconditional income as a right of being a citizen. At what level - survival, comfort, or luxury - the income is set is an open question to each society. Too high and scarcity erupts in the form of inflation, too low and inequality and populism corrode the society.

Post-scarcity economics is more the study of localised phenomena. As alluded to in the post, some things will likely always be in short supply somewhere.

[1] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

transfire 3 days ago 2 replies      
The main hurdle facing post-scarcity economics is not actually scarcity. Rather it is the elitist class, who will do everything it can to ensure continued scarcity in order to keep their socioeconomic positions. We already see this today in a number of ways. For instance, if a commodity isn't scarce, it can be made scarce by effectively creating a monopoly (even if it doesn't appear to be a monopoly from the outside) and hording the commodity. The diamond industry is a good example of this. Another technique is using complex laws to ensure a great deal of labor and supplies are needed to comply. Tax laws are a great example of this. How many accountants would loose their jobs if taxes could be done in five minutes on the back of a napkin? Probably the worst tactic of all is simply the promotion of continued population growth. We really do NOT have enough resources on this planet to give everyone on it a modern life style. And it is imperative for populations to shrink. Until we are well on our way to the stars this is not going to change. But our current economic models crumble in the face of decreasing population. So we can only expect more scarcity in the future, not less.
kijin 3 days ago 1 reply      
> If it were, the credit would be too much like money because a) accounting is done in it, b) it is issued by a governing body (like a fiat currency) and c) it is fungible, i.e. you can already buy things with it and if you could buy things with it AND a and b were true, it would pretty much be a currency.

By that reasoning, the Joule is the currency of the Federation.

a) The article already supposes that "the accounting is done in energy units", so a) is satisfied.

b) Energy isn't exactly "issued" by a government. But neither is gold, and this hasn't prevented gold from being money through most of human history.

c) Finally, energy is fungible, especially if you have replicators. 1KWh of electricity in your battery is as good as any other 1KWh of electricity.

It doesn't matter whether the people who live in the Star Trek universe actually call it "money" or not. If it walks like money and quacks like money, it is money.

And once there's technology to convert anything to and from energy relatively easily, a Joule does sound like a good candidate for a universally accepted unit of value. An alien species might not give a damn about some shiny yellow metal, but they need good ol' Joules just as much as we do.

dbcooper 3 days ago 3 replies      
The Volokh Conspiracy post, How Federal is Star Trek's Federation?, was probably the best thing I've read on Trek's political economy.


nhaehnle 3 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting read, but there is one paragraph in particular that sounds a bit like an elaborate troll. Take a look at this:

The most notable is participatory economics, or parecon. This is a worthwhile attempt, I think, but to me it doesnt quite pass the smell test of being sufficiently un-communist, what with its workers councils and lack of any sort of ruling class. All very un-American, [...]

Did the author just imply that they are in favor of having a ruling class? Then, just after that:

When you start thinking this way you start getting into the dodgy world of heterodox economics and, well, thats a world of a lot of crackpots. Some good ideas, sure, but a lot of crackpots, and more to the point, its a world devoid of empirical research, which is a serious problem.

Uh yeah, go talk to a real heterodox economist, and they will explain to you how a lack of listening to real world data is actually the core problem of orthodox economics.

By the way: What's lacking in the initial brief discussion of alternative economic system is that aside from capitalism (i.e., firms are privately owned, compete in the market) and centrally planned communism (i.e., firms are state-owned and follow a central plan) there are also variants of market socialism (i.e., firms are typically state-owned and compete in the market).

bubbleRefuge 3 days ago 0 replies      
A fiat currency backstops its value at least with the issuing government's willingness to accept it for payment of taxes. What is wrong with current monetary regimes? Sounds like you are suggesting a return to fixed/commodity money regimes which have failed many times over.

As you suggest , fiat currency issuers backstop the value of their currency via taxation. But its not their willingness to accept the backstops it, its the power to impose mandatory taxes on the population that gives value to the currency.

Warren Mosler -one of the founders of Modern Monetary Theory- has a great allegory to describe how it all works: ( I paraphrase) A group of people are in a room and I have business cards in my pocket. I have a gun in my hand and no one else does and I am standing in front of the only exit. Now I decree, in order to exit the room it will cost you 1 business card. Suddenly, the business cards have value and folks in the room will provide me goods and services in exchange for payment in business cards.

mempko 3 days ago 3 replies      
The way people talk about socialism and communism in the west show the sad state of our education system.

communism is already a big part of our lives. When you sit at the dinner table and ask for the salt, you get it. When are at work and you ask for a code review and the person gives it to you. If the need is great enough, or the obstacles to ability are small enough, people do things.

From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Our economy is firmly based on communist actions and the capitalists exploit this.

but the way that people talk about communism, as a centrally planned economy, shows great ignorance of both the literature and a blindedness to "already occurring communism"

sabbatic13 3 days ago 0 replies      
Umm, documentary fallacy much? That and pretending like hundreds of scripts written by dozens of hands somehow cohere.

Oh, yes, and that thing about people not living according to economic theories, but having societies and cultures, only a slice of which economic theories try to capture. And while I'm at it, the fact that economic theories float above the actual behavior of humans and only thinly capture what they are up to, while floating below any serious philosophy that explain why people should or do anything in the first place.

bayesianhorse 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't use Star Trek as a canon for post-scarcity economics, it's more like an inspiration. In fact we are seeing the elements of the vocational aspects already:

Look at all the Bloggers, the Kickstarters, Youtubers, Justin Bieber at the start of his "career". Aren't they essentially taking a ton of infrastructure and a weird "diffusive" sort of income already?

Joseph Sisko's restaurant in our terms might be more like a kind of hobby rather than a serious economic enterprise. The guests might not pay anything at all, it's just that owner and guests do this because they enjoy making food and eating food, rather than eating from a replicator.

You just don't see all the shitty restaurants noone ever goes to...

calroc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been saying for years now that Star Trek forms the best commonly-known model for what future "economics" will be like. It's really awesome to read a well-thought-out treatment of that idea.

Some points in no particular order:

* In the limit of nanotechnology and fusion power we can produce anything (physical.) This forces us to confront our essential challenge which is the development of good character. All forms of government are attempts to manage human wickedness. Corollary: it very nearly doesn't matter what form of government obtains if the people in that government are virtuous.

* Permaculture (modelling agricultural systems on natural ecologies) is a non-technological mode of abundance.

* Communism: The Smurfs.

* It seems to me that the "natural" economic system varies with personal "distance". Broadly: immediate family/friends -> communistic; (Are the Amish commies? No.) neighbors -> barter / reciprocal gift-giving; strangers -> capitalism.

* If there is something to that last point then as the Internet shrinks personal distance we should expect a general trend from impersonal capitalistic forms to more personal "altruistic" forms (Gittip, etc...)

* As technology advances we are forced to become unwilling to "solve problems with bullets". If you are willing (for any reason) to commit violence you will perforce be kept from the really potent weapons. Already so-called "psych-ops" have become the cutting edge (no pun intended) of warfare: eliminate the enemy's desire to fight. It is only a matter of time before hippy-dippy shit becomes the obvious counter to hostilities by the intrinsic logic of warfare itself. ("Men Who Stare at Goats" is a documentary.)

gress 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's worth emphasising that a great deal of work in unnecessary for improving net happiness and consumes resources in the process and so undermines long term prosperity.
temuze 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the logical conclusion in post-scarcity economy is that more things will be determined as a basic human right.

Consider "the right to privacy", "the right to a job" or the "right to healthcare". Less than a century ago, many of these rights didn't exist. Now, some people are saying access to the Internet is a basic human right!

So here's my theory - in a society where technology advances so much that the basic needs of humans are met with the need of little human interaction, two things will occur:1) More things will be determined as basic human rights. A certain baseline for wealth, even.2) We will shift more and more to being a generation of artists. I believe an AI complete being that we create will never be able to replicate a fundamental understanding of being human. Books, plays, shows, art will be a human endeavor, for humans, by humans.

I believe that some sort of social capitalism will exist, where the baseline is met and those who achieve great success through art (or rarely, science), will have the opportunity to create more wealth.

oelmekki 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like the exercise and the thoughts developed, but all of it is based on the fact that a post-scarcity state is happening. This is very XIXth century like : "science will abolish work !".

A proof of post-scarcity happening presented is the amount of obesity in US. Let just pretend obesity is just a problem of having too much food, and not at all a problem of bad nutrition or genetics. The fact still remains that while there are a lot of obesity in usa, there still have a lot of hunger in other parts of the world. Could not it be just a repartition problem rather than abundance ?

There's an other sign that could lead to think we're indeed not at the edge of post-scarcity. Currently, many previously called poor countries are getting wealthier. What do we observe in previously called rich countries ? Economical crisis hitting harder and harder. That may not be a coincidence.

jedmeyers 3 days ago 2 replies      
What are those "we" the author keeps talking about?

- "we" actually have the capacity

- "we" don't have the will

I have the will but don't have the capacity. I am assuming that author also has the will. So, again, who are those "we" that don't have the will? And how is the author planning to make them to go against their will to not have the will?

stefanobaghino 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The article forgot to mention that in the Star Trek timeline things didn't go so smoothly: a third World War eventually occurred and only the invention of warp drive and the first contact with the Vulcans turned things around.But I think the point is another: for as much as I love Star Trek and advocate a smooth transition to a post-scarcity economy, I don't think Roddenberry and the writers that succeeded him are experts in currency, economics or even in the techologies that made that fictionary society a perfect post-scarcity economy.There are, however, some interesting thoughts that could serve as a basis for a more deep look into the post-scarcity economics. Organizations such as the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement tend to advocate it under the "resource-based economy" name and I find their views interesting, relatively to this topic.
teddyh 3 days ago 0 replies      
This should be read in the context of the grand-daddy of such posts, The Economics of Star Trek (http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Essays/Trek-Marxism.html), written back in 2000.
powertower 3 days ago 1 reply      
> But we actually have the capacity to feed them, to feed everyone, even now, even if we dont have the will.

Careful, having the capacity to do something does not mean you should do it.

An excellent way to grow a starving population from 80MM people to 800MM people in about 80 years is to feed them (these numbers aren't made up).

Then all you have to do is just feed their children, and their children, and their children, until that population hits some type of a pivotal point where everything becomes great, they become independant, responsible, have a self-sustaining economy, government, start having only 1.4 children, etc.

The chances of it all going horribly wrong is very high, but why not balloon the population of the world, and have all those new soles competing over limited resources.

terranstyler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Post-scarcity economics sounds to me like post-human anthropology or post-matter physics, i.e. economics is by definition science on "managing" scarcity. No scarcity, no trade, no economics.

Honestly, capitalism would be a good system if we had just one example. Closest example is maybe Hongkong or Singapure, see http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

dec0dedab0de 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just wanted to chime in that his link that says We have capitalism, of course, the proverbial worst model except for every other one actually points to http://wais.stanford.edu/Democracy/democracy_DemocracyAndChu... which is about democracy. Democracy and Capitalism are not the same thing. That is all.
dredmorbius 2 days ago 0 replies      
The fundamental problem with any post-scarcity economy is that it presumes a world in which resources aren't fundamentally constrained. It's been argued that this is in fact one of the limitations of orthodox / neoclassical economics, in that it assumes that unlimited growth it possible.

That's a view that's championed, interestingly, by both the far Left (Marxist and Socialist economists) and the Right (business lobbies, various cornucopian ideologues, putatively much of the Koch-backed propogandasphere, and their Libertarian sycophants). Curious bedfellows.

I've only recently run across an essay of Garrett Hardin's (of "Tragedy of the Commons" and "Lifeboat Ethics", with whom I've long been acquainted), "The Feast of Malthus" (http://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles_pdf/feast_of_ma...) which explores this idea further. He notes specifically:

I think that a single overarching view accounts for these and many other invectives put forward by Marxists and liberals during the past century and a half: this is the tightly held denial of limits in the supply of terrestrial resources. Friedrich Engels, Marx's collaborator and financial supporter, asserted baldly that "The productivity of the land can be infinitely increased by the application of capital, labour and science."

Much of the essay continues on to discuss population. The upshot being: you can accept unconstrained consumption (but limits on population), or unrestricted procreation, with severe restrictions on individual consumption.

There is no universal freedom.

Shivetya 3 days ago 0 replies      
The major problems with capitalism in Western economies is that the government regulations corrupt the process and create artificial scarcity. There are lot of areas where competition does not exist because regulatory hurdles prevent or discourage it. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, if not everywhere, game the system. The put in rules/roadblocks to help out favored groups which in turn damages the system.

As for the planned economies, well we saw how well those worked. I know, I know, the people coming up with ideas now will of course do better than THOSE people. Yet that is the typical lack of hubris politicians always show, just like ACA - of course it will be better than how those other people did it because we are so smart.

Keep telling me about the EU safety net and I will keep pointing out Greece and riots in other EU countries. Sorry but I tire of hearing about a safety net then reading how bad off some of these people are. Whats the point of a net when so many slip through or never had a chance to get caught.

motters 3 days ago 1 reply      
You don't need to speculate because there already is a model for post-scarcity economics in the form of free and open source software. The free software economy is more like an economy of attention or allegiance. It has sometimes been called a "doocracy" in that those folks who do things tend to get the most attention.
vinceguidry 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the author overlooked a much more elegant solution to the problem of menial labor. People simply don't do it, except when they want to, and rely on automated / robotic solutions to do it for them. At some point, it will get far easier and cheaper to design and implement robotic maids than it will to convince a human to do anything resembling a good job at something people are bound to shit on him for.

The economy will simply optimize all such tasks out of the system. Surfaces won't need more than the quickest of spot cleaning, people will get used to checking out their own groceries, they'll go get their own drink refills and clean off their own tables.

etler 3 days ago 4 replies      
>The big challenge here is how does society get someone to do the menial jobs that cannot be done in an automated manner.

Are there examples of menial jobs in the Star Trek universe? I would imagine by then there simply are no menial jobs. I'm not sure what menial job examples there are that can't be automated.

The jobs left over are interesting jobs. I'd imagine the motivation to do so are on par with the same motivation to get a phd. Few people get phds solely to get better job prospects, but rather do it for personal enlightenment and passion.

Also the same goes for the infinitely wealthy. If you accumulate billions of dollars and die donating those billions to charity, you weren't motivated solely to have more wealth, but something greater than that.

novalis78 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see how a complete planetary financial/economic system would look like that was built on top of the blockchain: http://marscoin.org

An early Mars colony would probably resemble organizationally a family/village but as soon as you get distinct locations that produce various raw materials and are run by different communities you'd probably have to fall back to facilitate free trading. It would be interesting to observe if the growing planetary GDP tied to a deflationary cryptocurreny would lead to similar boom and bust cycles as the 1870-1920s. On a planet that's close to the Asteroid belt with its resources that might lead to fascinating trading opportunities :-)

Tycho 1 day ago 0 replies      
In reality,the market already basically dictates this, for who can claim that a Wall Street banker works more than a teacher?


facepalm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not well versed in Star Trek, but it seems to me there is at least one limited resource: jobs as captains of star ship Enterprise, for instance.

Another resource that will probably always be limited: attractive mates. I think that is a good example to think about when you think about Utopia. Of course plastic surgery will be free, too, as well as psychotherapy, so perhaps we all can be perfect mates, too.

loahou04 3 days ago 1 reply      
Human greed pretty much takes over. Social pressures won't work because people will always want to "keep up with the jones" or show off what they have done. The only way you could have post scarcity is if everything and anything in the living reality could be created, which of course is just highly improbable if not impossible due to the emotional nature of our species as well as differences in individual needs and wants (I.e. Not everyone can fall in love and be married or be just as popular or be just as good I sports). Personally, I don't think there is a reason we can't have a better welfare system, I just don't think we should care about those who do not contribute to society. If all people in Star Trek are now in it for the bettering of the human race than that would mean not a single person is thinking of themselves, which much like greed, is a natural human state of mind. Do we know what/who is going to better society, no we don't. However, with capitalism people democratically choose what does and doesn't. To have government subsidize specific items/ideas we leave capitalism and start having a centrally governed panel who picks the winners, or at least subsidizes them. Let the free hand of capitalism decide who can contribute the most to society and let the people also decide who much they should be rewarded. If anything it's not economics that needs to be changed, rather the human psychology that needs to be reformed.
tian2992 3 days ago 0 replies      
I liked the overarching idea, however the author proves himself ignorant of the basic economic ideas and concepts. The main keys of communism-socialism are the redistribution of the surplus value and the control of the means of production. Even private ownership of the land is not a requirement, even more so in a highly developed society, where land is no longer a resource highly sought to produce.

I'd suggest the writer reads his Marx and Engels, and even some Adam Smith before venturing into writing on topics like this.

tiatia 3 days ago 3 replies      
Scarcity was a problem, is a problem and always will be a problem: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-e...

And sorry to break the news to you: A capitalistic system can not be run without growth and nobody has ever been able to show how it is possible to run a "steady-state" economy,

The end is near. Enjoy the ride!

blueskin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing article. Explained it roughly how I always assumed it as being, but far better than I ever could have.

Also, interesting link from there on The Culture, another of my favourite scifi universes: http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm

firstOrder 3 days ago 0 replies      
> we have the centrally planned systems of Communism and Marxism, not particularly effective, as it turns out.

Sure, China only has the second biggest economy in the world.

Also for the USSR, once the civil war ended and the American soldiers and so forth had been kicked out, and Stalin gained political control - the economy had incredible growth. While the West was mired in Depression, Russia was going gangbusters building steel works and such. European and American workers went there to work, because there was work there and not the West. American companies went there as well as they were hiring contractors while American businesses were not. Russia's economy did very well under Stalin. People talk about the stagnation during the Brezhnev years, which is true, but they ignore the booming economy from the 1920s to the 1950s/1960s.

Xdes 3 days ago 1 reply      
How do you give everyone a basic income without leading to overpopulation?
johnrob 3 days ago 1 reply      
There will always be scarcity; if not we'll keep making more humans until there is.
patrickphilips 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminded me of Krugman's Theory of Interstellar Trade (http://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/interstellar.pdf)
skyshine 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've recently gone public with a an economic system I've been developing that can bridge the gap between a free market and a post scarcity economy. http://babblingbrook.net
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 0 replies      
Capitalism isn't a model that we try on, like we would try on a new set of pants. Capitalism is just trading stuff. Capitalism drove the accumulation of things easily tradeable, which then, by convention, we started calling money.

You can add all sorts of political systems on top of capitalism, but it never goes away. The only thing you end up doing is hurting people.

I liked this article because it's an example of fiction learning from reality, then scientists trying to learn from fiction. There's a wonderful feedback loop at work between fiction and science that's neat to watch.

But this post-scarcity nonsense is tripe. I trade with you, not only because I need to eat or have shelter, but because you have something I want. And I have something you want. It is our _desires_ that cause the trade, nothing else. And I don't want to live in a world where humans stop wanting stuff. Sounds horribly stagnant and/or medicated.

So I liked the writing style, loved the theme, and kudos to the author for having such a good grasp of Trek lore. But from a rational-thinking standpoint, this guy ain't hitting on much. The quality of analysis itself is what's missing.

bnolsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is pointless. star trek describes no real society and ther are conyinuity holes everywhere from multiple series, writers and directors. a nice dream but in no way deployable.
sdegutis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very good points.
squozzer 3 days ago 0 replies      
My reading of history tells me the human hunger for wealth and power (what some call greed) would easily adjust to any increase in prosperity, no matter how large.

And some materials would still be scarce. They could not replicate dilithium, it had to be mined. So like oil is today, such materials would become the new next of power.

As much Stack Overflow as possible in 4096 bytes danlec.com
223 points by df07  8 hours ago   40 comments top 19
TacticalCoder 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
In a different style, the "Elevated" demo, coded in 4K (you'll have a hard time believing it if you haven't seen it yet):


mberning 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Very impressive. I wish extreme performance goals and requirements would become a new trend. I think we have come to accept a certain level of sluggishness in web apps. I hate it.

I wrote a tire search app a few years back and made it work extremely fast given the task at hand. But I did not go to the level that this guy did. http://tiredb.com

jc4p 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Some of the workarounds he mentions at the end of his Trello in 4096 bytes[1] post seem really interesting:

- I optimized for compression by doing things the same way everywhere; e.g. I always put the class attribute first in my tags

- I wrote a utility that tried rearranging my CSS, in an attempt to find the ordering that was the most compressible

[1] http://danlec.com/blog/trello-in-4096-bytes

stefan_kendall 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Maybe part of the story here is that gzip isn't the be-all-end-all of compression. A lot of the changes were made to appease the compression algorithm; seems like the algorithm could change to handle the input.

A specialized compression protocol for the web?

cobookman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
First off, nice work.I've noticed that St4k is loading each thread using ajax, where-as stackoverflow actually opens a new 'page', reloading a lot of webrequests. Disclaimer I've got browser cache disabled.

E.g on a thread click:


GET https://api.stackexchange.com/2.2/questions/21840919 [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 212ms]18:02:16.802

GET https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/dca03295d2e81708823c5bd62e75... [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 146ms]18:02:16.803

stackoverflow.com (a lot of web requests):

GET http://stackoverflow.com/questions/21841027/override-volume-... [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 120ms]18:02:54.791

GET http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.7.1/jquery.min... [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 62ms] 18:02:54.792

GET http://cdn.sstatic.net/Js/stub.en.js [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 58ms]18:02:54.792

GET http://cdn.sstatic.net/stackoverflow/all.css [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 73ms]18:02:54.792

GET https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/2a4cbc9da2ce334d7a5c8f483c92... [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 90ms]18:02:55.683

GET http://i.stack.imgur.com/tKsDb.png [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 20ms]18:02:55.683

GET http://static.adzerk.net/ados.js [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 33ms]18:02:55.684

GET http://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 18ms]18:02:55.684

GET http://edge.quantserve.com/quant.js

....and more....

Whitespace 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious if a lot of the customizations re:compression could be similarly achieved if the author used Google's modpagespeed for apache[0] or nginx[1], as it does a lot of these things automatically including eliding css/html attributes and generally re-arranging things for optimal sizes.

It could make writing for 4k less of a chore?

In any case, this is an outstanding hack. The company I work for has TLS certificates that are larger than the payload of his page. Absolutely terrific job, Daniel.

[0]: https://code.google.com/p/modpagespeed/

[1]: https://github.com/pagespeed/ngx_pagespeed

edit: formatting

SmileyKeith 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. As others have said I really wish this kind of insane performance would be a goal for sites like this. After trying this demo I found it difficult to go back to the same pages on the normal site. Also I imagine even with server costs this would save them a lot of bandwidth.
blazespin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Very impressive! So incredibly fast.

My only thoughts are that search is the real bottleneck.

nathancahill 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really fast! Love it. I thought the real site was fast until I clicked around on this.
derefr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> I threw DRY out the window, and instead went with RYRYRY. Turns out just saying the same things over and over compresses better than making reusable functions

This probably says something about compression technology vs. the state of the art in machine learning, but I'm not sure what.

nej 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow navigating around feels instant and it almost feels as if I'm hosting the site locally. Great job!
Jakob 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I didnt realize that the original site is already quite optimized. With a primed cache the original homepage results in only one request:

    html ~200KB (~33 gzipped)
Not bad at all. Of course the 4k example is even more stunning. Could the gzip compression best practices perhaps be added to an extension like mod_pagespeed?

masswerk 1 hour ago 1 reply      
And now consider that 4096 bytes (words) was exactly the total memory of a DEC PDP-1, considered to be a mainframe in its time and featuring timesharing and things like Spacewar!.

And now we're proud to have a simple functional list compiled into the same amount of memory ...

jonalmeida 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Pages load almost instantly like as if it's a local webserver - I'm quite impressed.
afhof 6 hours ago 1 reply      
4096 is a good goal, but there is a much more obvious benefit at 1024 since it would fit within the IPv6 1280 MTU (i.e. a single packet). I recall hearing stories that the Google Homepage had to fit within 512 bytes for IPv4's 576 MTU.
nandhp 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Code is formatted in a serif font, instead of monospace, which seems like a rather important difference. Otherwise, it is quite impressive.
iamdanfox 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The simpler UI is quite pleasant to use isn't it! I wonder if companies would benefit from holding internal '4096-challenges'?
dangayle 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see a general list of techniques you use, as best practices.
jpatel3 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Way to go!
What did Persona get right? Why did Persona fail to gain wide adoption? mozilla.org
219 points by cpeterso  2 days ago   143 comments top 39
buro9 2 days ago 4 replies      
We use Persona at Microcosm, so you can see it in action on sites such as http://forum.espruino.com/ and http://forum.islington.cc/ , just click sign-in and you're there.

For our use-case Persona is great. I've personally built the "web account" solution several times for different clients and I did not want to build it again. Persona is the lightest drop-in and easiest to implement solution you can imagine, and it works extremely well.

We've had a couple of issues, but nothing of significance. Mostly these have been us doing things unexpected, i.e. pre-loading user accounts obtained face-to-face and the case of the user@ part of the email address differing from the Persona provided email address.

I personally also wish that persona.js is added to CDNJS to increase the speed by which it's served.

What we found through asking, was that people feel very protective of their Google, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. They will sign in with them, but there's a wariness of doing so as they do not want to be spammed, have things posted on their behalf, etc. These fears mostly apply when people first arrive on one of our sites. We wanted a lower friction to that initial sign-in, and we feel that Persona gives us this.

We also found that on interest-based communities there is a reticence to associate real-identity to the nerdiest of their interests. This meant that not using Facebook and Google is a good thing in our scenario.

One of the things we like about Persona is the user experience. For our product, simplicity and ease are core goals. Persona helps rather than hinders on this front.

We really like Persona and hope that it remains under active development for a long-time.

We are not of the belief that it's failed, simply that it's a slow-burner and needs some marketing support.

patio11 2 days ago 8 replies      
In the spirit of helping out my fellow developers at Mozilla, who I respect a lot, I would like to add one additional cause of failure, in the knowledge that it is a bit bracing but is really important and should inform project selection in the future:

Persona fails to solve a problem which either end-users or people who operate websites for profit actually have.

clarkevans 2 days ago 3 replies      
I simply don't understand this blog entry. I guess it's their official project resignation... OK. Even so, it seems misinformed about the adoption problems. Persona, to me, seems a truly lovely solution to a difficult problem. It was successful, just at the beginning of a hard adoption curve.

What's missing is fully functional, advertised implementations of the Service Provider, that work with LDAP and ideally older Kerberos backends. What's missing is the native, built-in interface. What's also missing is a SLA... big players can't adopt it unless Mozilla says they are going to support it. What's missing in Persona is a promise to have the code security audited and get it passed federal agencies. What's missing is some grass-roots effort to get it into universities.

What they list as failures arent exactly. So, there are some UI issues.. but those arent the problem. The Persona service was meant as transitional, till native implementations appeared. It's not going to adopt itself, they need a "Sales Engineer" full time working on adoption. Hell, they could even charge people for that sales engineer and many would pay for it. The alternative to Persona is Shibboleth/Kerberos, and Persona kicks it.

onli 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like Persona. I use it (with the browserid gem for sinatra) for a couple of my side projects, as the only login option. It works great when it works and developing without having to bother about password management is great, though I first had to get my head around how that concepts works, serverside, that I have to remember an email address of a user in the database to assign him special rights (example: admin of a blog). What I didn't like, though granted, some of that is not very universal:

1. I made a small user test with it, and all user failed to complete the login, iff the email was new to persona. Because then, the new account has to be activated by email, and the link in that email lead to the persona account management. All users were confused by that and asked for confimation what to do, when confronted with the email confirmation message, and all of them got stuck in the new tab with that account management and were unable to return to the registration page on its own.

I understand that it is possible to change that link, though I didn't find that parameter at that time and marked it as an issue to fix later (A quick search just now showed nothing). And it might be a gem thing. Still, bothered me.

2. I would have loved a demo mode that works offline (maybe that exists?). Had spotty internet for a while and it was very bothersome to test the persona part of the project, as the registration/login worked only every 10th time, if at all. That was so cumbersome that I stopped working on it till I got a better connection. Which also means that a user with a bad connection won't have fun with persona, not resilient enough.

3. I don't like that the name was used for another FF-Project before (FF-designs, if I'm not mistaken) - if that confused me at first, it might confuse users. Have no better alternative though (maybe I would just brand it Email Login).

4. The browserid-gem for sinatra doesn't work with ruby > 1.9.3, and the maintainer does not fix the issue even though there is a working patch in a pull request. So instead of just having to specify the gem in my gemfile, I have to provide the link to the alternate github implementation. I hate that, that does not feel safe. I tried to look up how a gem might be replaced with another one and found nothing about how that (or the gem infrastructre in general, note that this was while having no really usable internet connection) work.

drdaeman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could we please consider not implementing something completely new, but fixing TLS client certificate auth, finally making it usable? Every browser out there supports this already, but UX is horrendous. All what was relatively polished over the years was the presentation of server certificate when you click on lock icon in location bar. The rest (selection of client certificate, generation of a new one, viewing a backing up of installed ones) remains needlessly scary to use by ordinary humans, so it can't be used except if we know users are quite tech-savvy.

Instead of bringing a new technology with known downsides (like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7219034) we could give a second life to a known and provably working one. Doing so we could promote security (HTTPS), anonymity (not giving email address by default, unless one's provided with a signed certificate, chosen by user's decision) and independence from any service providers (including email and domain registrars) at the same time.

(Added after an hour) To illustrate my point: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fn4nuwszt5buuzd/tls_auth_ui.png mad design skills and windows 8, sorry for both; wording is not changed but I suppose it needs improvements, too)

RaphiePS 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think they're spot-on with the idea that it needs to be integrated into sites rather than appearing as a separately branded popup.

I tried it out on a site I was building a couple months ago. Every time I had a non-"techie" user try it out, they got confused. What's this popup? What's Persona? What am I signing up for exactly? It was just bad UX.

That said, I think there's a very real need for what they're offering. I don't want to store passwords myself, even if they're hashed. I also don't want to re-implement forgotten usernames, passwords, reset emails, etc. It's a bother, I'd rather focus on my app rather than a solved problem like this, and to be honest I don't quite trust myself enough to get it 100% right.

So, I think it would be the best of both worlds to offer auth as an API rather than providing their own experience. As in, I could just call Persona.login("username", "password", ...) and get back an assertion. I really hope they go in this direction.

inopinatus 2 days ago 1 reply      
I rejected Persona out of hand at the time[1] for the design gaffe of using HTTPS at the root of a corporate website[2] (worse, via a DNS apex A record[3]) as the identity-provider infrastructure discovery mechanism.

I haven't reviewed the protocol since maybe a year ago, but my view then was that system administrators within enterprises could only adopt Persona as identity providers if federated discovery was via records in the DNS, as the lords of protocol design intended, preferably SRV records at that.

Not the only barrier to adoption, perhaps, but definitely one of them. No-one substantial was likely going to use anything but the Fallback server, and there is no commercial reason to choose that rather than social-media-SSO where you'll enjoy the marketing bonus of reaching their outbound feed.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5447097

[2] a !! blunder because marketing won't let you in many organisations. also because most sites won't even have a port 443 https listener, let alone a valid certificate, on the apex A record. all this indicative of lack of real-world experience by the designers.

[3] a !!!! blunder see e.g. https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/apex-domains

Aissen 2 days ago 3 replies      
Another point. Not everything is web-based (I know it might be hard to believe at Mozilla), and the fact that you have to use javascript to access the API is also a limiting factor.
muyuu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Lack of promotion. Most people don't know what is it. Possibly this will improve over time.

Also, why are you guys talking about Persona in past tense? sounds like you're dropping the project.

blueskin_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
Because it's Yet Another Pointless Single Signon.

I don't see the point compared to having separate logins so if one is compromised, others aren't. Even past that, that space is already hugely cluttered with OpenID, OAuth, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter...

Persona is a solution in search of a problem.

TeMPOraL 2 days ago 1 reply      
How about

* we didn't give some people a way to join?

I don't know whether it is my Internet disability manifesting, or some kind of weird region limiting or sth., but in last 6 months I tried to create a "Persona account" several times, followed the instructions precisely, and always ended up with a nonexistent "register"/"create account" button.

Was Persona account creation disabled at some point in time? Why wasn't it clearly stated anywhere on the page? Or am I that stupid and can't see a register button?

cryptolect 2 days ago 1 reply      
It failed to get wider adoption because the average consumer doesn't see the problem they solve as a problem. There's a far small potential userbase who recognize the privacy benefits of the Persona system.
aragot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have hard times explaining the added value of Persona over OpenID. It's just the privacy and even tech people don't see that as a point.

So I searched on Google, and this probably didn't help Mozilla: http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/5323/what-are-th...

return0 2 days ago 3 replies      
I was put off by the name. BrowserId was an OK name, but FirefoxId would be better, to leverage the good name of firefox in the user's mind.
talex5 2 days ago 0 replies      
The page is more positive than the title. It recommends:

* Persona should be pared down to its core: a decentralized email verification and login API for the web. No more session management, no attribute exchange.* Persona should be built natively into Firefox, Fennec and Firefox OS to make the JavaScript shim unnecessary on these platforms. The base functionality should be cross-browser, but the experience should be optimized for the native platforms.* Sites should control most of the user flow and Persona should be almost invisible to users.* Sites should be able to offer these benefits to their users with a native UA implementation: better UX, reduced login friction and phishing protection.

All of which sound great!

BTW, has Persona reached 1.0 yet? Last I was aware, it was still in beta, which might partly explain the lack of adoption.

enewc 2 days ago 0 replies      
What did it get right? It can be useful and it's backed by a solid brand.

Why did Persona fail to gain wide adoption? For the most obvious reason: because nobody cares. People don't want to use something new unless there's a pressing reason. Trivial conveniences don't cut it.

rpwverheij 2 days ago 0 replies      
"We made Persona a user-visible brand but that competed with a site's own brand."

This would indeed have been the main reason for me not to use it. I have not been in a position to implement login functionalities recently, but when I do, I will still strongly consider Persona, and even more so if the Persona brand can become almost invisible as it says in the post.

abofh 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Users and developers trust Mozilla and want us to fix identity on the web."

Maybe it's just me, but I trust iceweasel, a firefox derived browser that originates from Mozilla, but their continued increased interest in accumulation of browser and user data (albeit more anonymized than google et al), does not lead me to trust them.

I accept persona is designed to protect against id-provider leakage, but when my id provider also has hooks to my browsers anonymous statistics and crash logs - I don't accept it's really private or trusted. (Same reason I don't login to chrome either...)

belorn 2 days ago 1 reply      
When Persona was released, they split the FOSS crowd between OpenID and Persona adoption. Having two similar tools that solve the same problems (regardless of which one is better) did nothing beyond create two incompatible camps, each advocating for one while discouraging adoption of the other. I see it as a rather large blind spot of Mozilla to not recognize this.

As an administrator, I would also like to complain about this behavior from a practical viewpoint. Spending first mindshare and time implementing OpenID to solve a real problem, Persona came like an unwanted alternative to a solved issue. Had they joined like an upgrade (i.e. backward compatible with OpenID), my reaction would to be an advocate rather than skeptic.

jeena 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure why I don't see other people complaining about this but I myself tried to be my own Browser ID provider and after trying to install it for a couple of days I failed. Now I still have to use it with Persona which is just another centralized login system.
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't find Persona compelling, but I do think they offer an interesting value proposition for people - and framework developers - who have to implement their own user authentication.

Even Django - which is about as close to the proverbial bicycle with training wheels as you can get - can be a pain, especially after django-registration was abandoned. The Django documentation was never really good either, to make matters worse.

It also makes writing guides that much simpler, so although Persona doesn't hold much sway in a vaccum, it's great to have as a pragmatic option.

brianbreslin 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a FORMER firefox developer (add-ons), I think my reasons for persona not taking off are as follows:

1. value proposition for developers was never clear

2. many saw it as a firefox only thing

3. chrome usage is overtaking firefox

4. I felt burned by developing for firefox in the past, why was I going to do it again (this is me personally, and is likely my #1 reason)

5. Never saw how it simplified my users lives.

6. I saw it as another waste of time like openID ended up being (and I loved the idea of openID, but so few people ever used it).


hippich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tried to register on forums posted here as an example of Persona integration. Have gmail email, so no password authentication (OAuth or OpenID instead.) Did not work due third-party cookies blocked in my browser. Sorry, this is not going to work for me.
Oculus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wait, is this a postmortem as in Persona is being discontinued?
usrusr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Users are very much accustomed to accepting the security and privacy implications of conventional web logins. Persona promises to improve on that by introducing itself as a third party. However, users with a trace of security awareness will be skeptical of promises like that and will subconsciously do a simple equation in their heads: if everything else fails (the promised improvements), then more involved parties imply less privacy/security. Getting beyond that point requires at least a level of understanding that allows for a rough estimation on a scale between "totally bogus" and "this might actually work if done right".
alanh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is Persona dead? Why does the post say did fail instead of has failed (so far)? The latter would imply that ongoing efforts will be made.
paulftw 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is really great that they have guts to admit the failure. Though this confession is a bit overdue, I hope they've learned the lesson and some day will come back with a better solution. No doubt that the problem is really worth solving.
neil_s 2 days ago 0 replies      
what would make Persona a killer solution for me is if it could hand out disposable email addresses to every site I sign into, that forward transparently to my main address (a la Gishpuppy). This way, I can identify which site is the cause of me suddenly receiving a bunch of spam (whether they're doing it themselves or their email database was hacked). Then its a simple question of disabling that disposable address from forwarding to my private one, and notifying the site that their database might be exposed.
maho 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never even knew what it was, because I confused Mozilla Persona (some authentication thing) with Firefox Personas (themes for Firefox - note the s).
Siecje 2 days ago 1 reply      
So I want to use Persona. So I go to https://login.persona.org/ and there is no "Sign Up" just "Sign In". So I enter my email which is through GMail and it is asking me to choose one of my Google Accounts.

1: I want Persona not permission to use my Google Account with another service.2: I entered an email why would I want to use a Google Account with a different email?

TazeTSchnitzel 2 days ago 1 reply      
The session management Persona does is a pain. It's great for single-page apps and awful for traditional web apps.
dcc1 2 days ago 1 reply      
I use it on several sites, and it works quite fine, The problem is with users they are so used to registering with "omgonies/1234568" into sites that federated login is weird to them
woah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope it works out. So easy
zobzu 2 days ago 0 replies      
for the record the main reason for adoptions issues around me seem to be:i got a fb/googke/twitter account that let me login too. i aint making a new account/pass. privacy? i care but not enough for that
Osiris 2 days ago 1 reply      
A classic case of less is more (or better).
novaleaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
make it work with oauth, then at least i can support it without redoing my entire session system.
crystaln 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like persona should have just been a trusted oauth2 provider.
chris-at 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does Persona support native iOS/Android apps? And if not, why?
aaronsnoswell 2 days ago 1 reply      
What was Persona?
HTTP 308 Incompetence Expected insanecoding.blogspot.com
218 points by aw3c2  1 day ago   42 comments top 7
hobohacker 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the author of this blogpost has a few things off:

- HTTP2 != httpbis. Both work is being done by the same working group "httpbis". http://datatracker.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/charter/ covers this. httpbis (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/9105639/httpbis-what-does...) was originally chartered to revise HTTP/1.1 (RFC2616) The working group will refine RFC2616 to: * Incorporate errata and updates (e.g., references, IANA registries, ABNF) * Fix editorial problems which have led to misunderstandings of the specification * Clarify conformance requirements * Remove known ambiguities where they affect interoperability * Clarify existing methods of extensibility * Remove or deprecate those features that are not widely implemented and also unduly affect interoperability * Where necessary, add implementation advice * Document the security properties of HTTP and its associated mechanisms (e.g., Basic and Digest authentication, cookies, TLS) for common applications

As for the HTTP/2 work, here's a snippet from the charter on that: The Working Group will produce a specification of a new expression of HTTP's current semantics in ordered, bi-directional streams. As with HTTP/1.x, the primary target transport is TCP, but it should be possible to use other transports.

- He seems to think the httpbis folks gratuitously redefined 301. It should be noted that RFC2616 (which, by definition, predates the httpbis work since httpbis is defined to revise RFC2616) had already noted the issue with 301 (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2616#section-10.3.2): Note: When automatically redirecting a POST request after receiving a 301 status code, some existing HTTP/1.0 user agents will erroneously change it into a GET request.

- It's unclear to me whether or not the author acknowledges the existence of buggy implementations as noted in section 10.3.2. It's an open question as to what to do in the presence of buggy implementations. From a server standpoint, if the client is buggy, and you don't want to break the client (willingness to break clients probably depends on how many of the server's users use that client), then you will attempt to work around it, irrespective of what the standard says. Therefore, it's simply pragmatic to ignore the spec if it doesn't mirror reality, and pragmatic spec editors may update the spec to acknowledge this difference.

- As far as current status of the various 308 usages, Julian (author of the 308 draft) is lobbying major user agents to adopt this, and has written up a status update on the Chromium bug tracker: https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=109012#c....

aprescott 1 day ago 1 reply      
While browsers can probably "do anything" with a 301 or 302, I think in practice it's simpler.

I think the issue here is that 301 and 302 were originally intended to preserve the HTTP method but they became permanent and temporary versions of "issue a new request with a GET". So to try and fix that they provided 307 (and now 308) as temporary and permanent versions of "this resource changed location, so reissue this request at the new URL".

I actually wrote a post about this a couple of days before RFC 2616 got marked for official deprecation: https://aprescott.com/posts/http-redirects

I plan on updating that with more information once a proper RFC deprecates 2616 and 308 makes its way into something other than a referenced alternative, as it is in the current draft last time I checked.

Also, for fun, try pointing curl at a server returning various response codes and see what it does with `-X [method]` and compare it with the latest Chrome and Firefox.

lightcatcher 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can anyone here provide any explanation of how the changes in HTTP2 might not be idiotic?

The changes discussed in the post just seem dumb to me, but I assume there has to be some reasoning behind them.

mikeash 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently attempted to redirect a POST request being made by Apple's NSURLConnection. I say "attempted" because I could not find any status code that didn't make it revert to a GET for the subsequent request. 301, 302, 303, and even 307 didn't work. I finally ended up telling Apache to proxy the request to the real URL rather than trying to redirect the client.

(It is possible to override this behavior in the client with a bit of code, but I was trying to make this work with software that had already shipped.)

al2o3cr 1 day ago 1 reply      
One quibble: in re "So now you can use a new status code which older browsers won't know what to do with", I feel pretty confident in saying that "older browsers" won't be talking HTTP2...
hk__2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Side note: dont use serif fonts such as Georgia with small characters. I changed the font to Helvetica and the readability was much better.
ChrisArchitect 21 hours ago 0 replies      
side note: reminded me of some of these 7XX HTTP Status codes - Developer Errors https://github.com/joho/7XX-rfc
Drawing as a programmer gameofworlds.tumblr.com
220 points by cinskiy  15 hours ago   98 comments top 23
b0rsuk 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm a beginner programmer who is attracted to aesthetic aspects of creativity ('art' is a dirty word for me because of people associated with it). I tried to learn playing a recorder, because I like the way it sounds, and I adore music in general. I couldn't stand it, and I learned something about myself in the process. I'm dreadfully bored by repetitive tasks. For me it leads to routine, and routine leads to terrible errors. I intend to try this book and drawing in general.

Drawing has the potential to suck me in just like playing an instrument failed. I think drawing is to playing an instrument like solving nonograms to solving sudoku. Sudoku is inherently repetitive to solve, you need to check for all numbers in a square, one by one, then all numbers in a line, line by line... In contrast, nonograms usually have non-linear solutions - there is no single way to get to the final result. This makes the process of solving a nonogram vastly more enjoyable for me.

I have no illusion that learning to draw won't require days, months, years of practice. But you can - should - try new things, and you improve in the process. No endless repetition of one piece until you can play it perfectly.

Sounds a lot like Starcraft, doesn't it ? :> I think Starcraft players who like to invoke comparisons to Chess have an inferiority complex and can't enjoy Starcraft for what it is. And it is a lot more like playing guitar than Chess. It's just that Chess much more accumulated prestige.

One of things putting me off Starcraft is that learning to play it violates the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle. A few years from now you may be vastly better at Starcraft, and I'll be able to draw many /different/ things.

I think it's a wider problem with most games. I know very few that really reward creative thinking rather than memorization of strategies and their counters, and practicing to execute them perfectly. Board games have it easier, in absence of computers they can afford to be less strict about rules, and the focus in boardgame industry is still on developing interesting mechanics rather than building on a few established genres.

egypturnash 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Professional cartoonist here.

If you want to move on to the next step of drawing whatever the hell you want to out of your head, in any angle, I strongly recommend you go to http://johnkcurriculum.blogspot.com/2009/12/preston-blair-le..., get the Preston Blair book, and start doing these exercises. You will get a lot better, a lot faster.

You can build on the simple cartoon characters in these lessons and do super realistic stuff, or you can keep on being a cartoonist. Whatever works for you.

larve 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
we have a tiny blog with a friend (programmer too) where we put up our drawings, both learning to draw from various books and sources on the internet. I started 4 years ago at 28, don't know about my friend. I'm all for messy and sketchy, he likes the clean things :)


I haven't posted much lately, been in a kind of slump and not producing much.

martin-adams 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I do believe that anyone can draw with enough time. In 2009 I took 8 days holiday, one per week and dedicated it to drawing. I could see the improvement vastly:


Then in 2010 my new years resolution was to do a sketch a day. Hard going but very enjoyable:





I didn't dedicate enough time to each sketch so only got a handful of good drawings. I've fallen out of it again so would have to get right back to basics, but it shouldn't take too long before you start to feel fluid again.

Being able to draw is like a muscle.

frooxie 13 hours ago 7 replies      
From what I can tell, Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain teaches you to draw things you already see, which is nice, and can help you impress your mom if you practise a bit, but as far as drawing ability goes, being a human copy machine is an extremely basic skill.

Don't get me wrong, basic skills are valuable, but reading the book and practising for a couple of months will not make you a skilled artist any more than learning to touch-type and adding an existing Javascript menu to a web page will make you an expert programmer. It can be a first step, but if you want to be really good at drawing, you probably want to to spend years practising composition, perspective, anatomy, the emotional effects of lines and shapes, color theory, storytelling, creating variation/contrast/depth/movement, etc. There's much, much more to drawing than just being able to copy what you see in front of you.

(I'm not writing this to discourage anyone, I just want to put the book into perspective.)

krick 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I really don't like how much that book (and other books of the same author) is promoted. I am into drawing for quite a long time already (and I also think it helps me as a programmer etc.) and I've heard about that book like thousand times, so I've finally read it. I understand why it's impressive: because author delivers the material like "so, there are some techniques to use your right side of the brain instead of the left one and woah you see, you draw much better now! It's magic! By the way, I have million students who couldn't draw, but they took my courses and now they are master-artists and own their own design saloons." And you probably actually will draw better than you expect (especially when you don't expect you can draw) after some simple guidance and a few tries.

What I'm saying it's very populistic, but explains many thing the wrong way, which may cause some problems if you'll want to improve your techniques later. If you are learning to draw I'd better recommend you start with Andrew Loomis: "Fun with a Pencil" or even Vilppu Studio tutorials if you have serious mindset.

lutusp 9 hours ago 3 replies      
One can't fault a simple pencil and pad of paper, but I think if technologists become interested in drawing (which seems both likely and desirable), over time there will be more ways to do this with a tablet and stencil, with all the advantages. For me personally, notorious for moving lines around in my drawings, that would be very nice -- one would be able to delete lines that didn't work out.

I've always envied people who are actually gifted draftspeople -- people who lay down the exact right line on the first try, and whose drawings are paragons of minimalism. R. Crumb, for example -- there's a video showing him drawing with a pen and never laying down a bad line. Whenever I watch that video, I have an envy meltdown.

My point? With a tablet and stencil, by being able to delete things, I could pretend to have actual drawing talent. :)

One of my old drawings: http://i.imgur.com/hRQY84G.jpg

Morendil 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Want to make your 10-minute drawing breaks more fun? Try Drawception: http://drawception.com/
gk1 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Aside from the mental stimulation or distraction drawing provides, it's an incredible tool for solving or communicating problems... Especially to non-programmers.

What other tool or method allows you to explain a development challenge or solution (at a basic level) to a non-developer, in a matter of minutes? Being able to stand up in a meeting, walk to the whiteboard, and sketch out basic concepts for everyone in the room to understand makes you a goddamn hero. You'll go from being just a developer to the developer who can communicate with the biz guys, the sales guys, the designer guys, etc. That's valuable.

There's a good book on this topic, which I highly recommend: http://www.danroam.com/the-back-of-the-napkin/

(I have no affiliation with the author or the book.)

kenshiro_o 13 hours ago 4 replies      
I'd love to become good at drawing because I believe it can help presenting your ideas in a very visual and straightforward way.Moreover it is an activity that stimulates the creative and imaginative part of the brain. My main issue, aside dedication, is that I "suffer" from a natural tremor in my hands which I have been unable to shake off, even after seeing a doctors years ago and undergoing a battery of tests which showed nothing conclusive nor serious (I also took some pills which showed no results).

So my main questions would be: - Can I still be good at drawing despite my trembling? - How do I cure my trembling?

pirateking 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I recommend Fast Sketching Techniques by David Rankin. Of course, nothing beats practice and the book will help you focus your practice in a very rewarding way. I have been drawing my whole life, and still always keep an open notebook and pencil right next to my keyboard when I program.
jaegerpicker 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I tie flies, for fly fishing when I'm working from home and it has the same effect. It's a different way of using my brain that helps me refocus. It's also really nice to physically produce something. Plus then I have a better selection for fishing. Doesn't work so well when in an office setting though.

This article does make me want to draw again, I used be an amateur comics book artist/cartoonist but I haven't drawn seriously in years.

beobab 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I also heartily recommend the book that the author of this piece recommends. I'm currently about half-way through it, and the reaction to my drawings from my family has been: "Wow! I had no idea you could draw so well."
rsl7 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to keep paper taped on my desk under the keyboard. whenever I was working something out mentally or just taking a break I'd push the keyboard to the side and add to an ever growing elaborate abstract drawing.
mcv 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I used to draw a lot as a kid, and was pretty good at it, but I now realize that the more I programmed, the less I drew.
adcoelho 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I bought this book and did find it amazing, the first exercises are very good in showing how you Can draw, specially the inverted picture exercise. However, I struggled to find the material with which to do some of the later exercises and ended up putting it aside.
poseid 12 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, the important question in this article, is whether drawing (or music, dancing, acting, yoga, sports), actually helps you solving problems? Not sure, what helps solving problems is talking about them, discussing them, etc. and this can be done with social networks (or writing, tweeting, etc.) too.
pjgomez 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic article. As an ex-avid comic book reader and programmer, it certainly turns on some old hopes to draw better.
loladesoto 11 hours ago 0 replies      
if you like drawing living things (and you care about proportion, realistic renditions) studying the underlying musculoskeletal structure helps.

i just try to capture something fleeting. i identify the most salient element and try to communicate that in my drawing. the most useful exercise in that book imo was the technique of trying to draw something once, then turning it upside down and trying again. ("disorienting" the object trains your mind to better identify spatial relationships.)

sarreph 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Wouldn't other left-brain activity, such as playing a musical instrument, have the same effect?
enbrill 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't get the bit about the video (the kings speech). I've never seen the movie. Seemed like a random throw in. Wish there would have been at least one sentence to tie it in.
euph0ria 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Which hacker news article did the post refer to?
dusan82 14 hours ago 3 replies      
As a programmer, I think (y)our hobbies should be non-visual. E.g. music, learning spoken languages, etc...
Important Kickstarter Security Notice kickstarter.com
196 points by citricsquid  2 days ago   194 comments top 30
tptacek 2 days ago 3 replies      
Will you at some point consider telling us how the compromise happened? This information is useful even at a very high level; it's useful to know whether companies are breached by leaked admin passwords, or inadequately protected admin consoles, or in-app appsec faults like SQLI.

Best of luck dealing with this incident. You're in great company, unfortunately. :|

carbocation 2 days ago 2 replies      
From here forward, I will consider any disclosure involving stolen passwords that does not include a description of the password hashing/encryption/etc mechanism to mean "plaintext-equivalent passwords were taken".

Edit: Changed "plaintext passwords were taken" to "plaintext-equivalent passwords were taken"

larsberg 2 days ago 3 replies      
Ugh. That reset procedure did not play well with LastPass.

I logged in (old password), hit change password (old password), then had LastPass generate a new password, which it handily saved over the old one in LastPass. Hit Save. And then the site asked me for the old password a third time.

Whoops! I don't have that anymore...

dublinben 2 days ago 4 replies      
>For additional help with password security, we recommend tools like 1Password and LastPass.

It's really too bad that they are recommending expensive, proprietary, commercial apps for this when free, open source alternatives like KeePass exist. If users are unconvinced on the value of a password vault, charging money for it certainly isn't going to encourage adoption.

mecredis 2 days ago 7 replies      
Hi! I work at Kickstarter. To answer everyone's question regarding the encryption used for our passwords: old passwords used salted SHA1, digested multiple times. More recent passwords use bcrypt.
arjn 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty active on Kickstarter, backing multiple projects.

What's really worrying is that the Kickstarter folk didn't detect the breach themselves. It was law enforcement (I'm assuming FBI) who contacted them about it.

On the security notice, Kickstarter writes they "set a very high bar" on how they serve their community. What a load of crock!. If they had a high bar this would never have happened. I wish they wouldn't rub salt in the wound by publishing such blatant rubbish.

I'm extremely disappointed with Kickstarter right now.

huhtenberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Have you leaked physical addresses that were provided to completed projects for shipping of the rewards?

2. Given the wording - "access to some of our customers' data" - will you provide a way to check if specific account was affected? Or was it "possibly all customer data"?


f055 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about the people who logged in via Facebook? (i think they don't setup passwords) Are access tokens compromised?
mcgwiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had an incensed reaction to their email, which had only stated that the passwords were "encrypted". Not until I searched these comments here for the text "encrypt" did I learn that they actually hashed with bcrypt.

I humbly suggest all security notices like this that are sent in the future, if written with the word "encryption" rather than "hashing" for the layperson's sake, have an asterisk next to the word "encryption". At the bottom of the email, the explanation "hashing with {{algo}}" where "hashing" links to [1] would be included. Laypeople get their simple explanation, technical people don't get too angry. And some laypeople may click through the link and learn something.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographic_hash_function#Pas...

akerl_ 2 days ago 4 replies      
Has anyone received this as an email (or any other notice besides reading it on their blog / news sites)? It looks like it may have been emailed to people running Kickstarter campaigns, but this really ought to be sent to all people with affected information (which sounds like all users). If they don't do that and/or expire passwords currently stored to require that users reset them, it's highly likely that a lot of users won't ever notice or change their credentials.

EDIT: I did just talk to someone who is not a campaign owner and received an email regarding this, so it does look like they're in flight.

areeb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the mail:

On Wednesday night, law enforcement officials contacted Kickstarter and alerted us that hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers' data. Upon learning this, we immediately closed the security breach and began strengthening security measures throughout the Kickstarter system.

No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. There is no evidence of unauthorized activity of any kind on your account.

While no credit card data was accessed, some information about our customers was. Accessed information included usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.

As a precaution, we strongly recommend that you change the password of your Kickstarter account, and other accounts where you use this password.

To change your password, log in to your account at Kickstarter.com and look for the banner at the top of the page to create a new, secure password. We recommend you do the same on other sites where you use this password. For additional help with password security, we recommend tools like 1Password and LastPass.

Were incredibly sorry that this happened. We set a very high bar for how we serve our community, and this incident is frustrating and upsetting. We have since improved our security procedures and systems in numerous ways, and we will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we are doing everything in our power to prevent this from happening again.

Kickstarter is a vibrant community like no other, and we cant thank you enough for being a part of it. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. You can reach us at accountsecurity@kickstarter.com.

Thank you,

Yancey Strickler Kickstarter CEO

rybosome 1 day ago 0 replies      
Didn't store my credit card info with them, used a long, random, unique password from a password gen, not terribly concerned. The peace of mind this buys me is absolutely worth the hassle of setting it all up, and the accusations of paranoia from more relaxed friends and family.
beefsack 1 day ago 0 replies      
When will big companies value personal information enough to encrypt it along with credit card information and hashing passwords? We encrypt all personal information at Miniand, and I do realise it makes it very difficult to query data, but I believe that's an inconvenience that needs to be accepted.
yeukhon 2 days ago 1 reply      
We recommend you do the same on other sites where you use this password. For additional help with password security, we recommend tools like 1Password and LastPass.

Please don't make such recommendation. This won't change the fact that password is stored in your database. In a security breach, don't ever make such recommendation.

In fact, the alert doesn't tell me exactly what happened. Are just two accounts stolen from phishing attack? Or was it a server breached? We need that detail.

For disclosure, please do the following:

1. time of incident reported and the time of impact.

2. how the incident was reported

3. the severity of the incident

4. how the incident happened

5. resolution

I don't mind having a first notice and then follow up by a more detailed post, but don't forget...

cpach 1 day ago 2 replies      
So I received a mail from Kickstarter and I changed my password and went on with my life. I dont think the intruder will find any use for the bcrypt hash[+] of my password. Especially as that password has never been used for any other site.

[+] Or whatever the cryptograhpers call it :)

LukeB_UK 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why did law enforcement officials have to tell them that they were hacked? Surely they should have mechanisms in place to detect this themselves?
daigoba66 2 days ago 2 replies      
How is it that databases of password hashes can be stolen in te first place? It seems that you need a pretty severe firewall and server breech for that to occur.
ameen 2 days ago 7 replies      
As a longtime Kickstarter user, I'm going to have to delete my account. If they couldn't handle security and rake in Millions if not Billions in annual revenue. What else were their priorities?

If my security is an afterthought to you, then you don't deserve my business.

sillysaurus2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ah yes, here's another website that stores "encrypted passwords." What's an encrypted password, again?

More seriously, why is the social convention to lie in these situations? Why not just say what methods they were actually using?

I suppose it's possible they were storing encrypted passwords. But then an attacker would be able to break all of them at once.

aaronsnoswell 2 days ago 0 replies      
When the data that was stolen crops up on a forum somewhere, can someone please make one of those stub-websites that helps you check if you got stung by the breach?
larrys 2 days ago 0 replies      
"No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. "

Ironically there is at least a clearly defined system and procedure setup to mitigate a stolen credit card number. Essentially most if not all credit card companies will wipe out any malicious charges and cheerfully replace your credit card. And hopefully if you have more than one card that's not even a problem that you have to wait.

All the other information though that is:

"some information about our customers was. Accessed information included usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords"

...well to me that's actually more of an issue. Ironically.

Kiro 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is bcrypt better than SHA-1?
devinegan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Time to get LaunchKey (https://launchkey.com). Seriously, any Kickstarter employee wants to talk about integration and protecting users contact us. LaunchKey is password-less multi-factor authentication. These user data breaches don't have to include the password hysteria and weaknesses.
nodata 2 days ago 0 replies      
So how do I reset my name and address?
Rapzid 2 days ago 0 replies      
"however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one."

Aaaannnnddddd I'm guessing they lost the salt >.<

Ssyeo86 2 days ago 1 reply      
Already got got hit with a PayPal phish trying to get my PayPal password. Clearly they are different... But seeing as they had my email they tried.
Ladeeda 1 day ago 0 replies      
How can snail mail addresses and phone numbers be obtained through kickstarter, since credit card info is 'safe'? Are there instances, other than customers providing this information for rewards to be sent, in which this information can be accessed?
Ladeeda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since credit card info is safe, is there a way for names, addresses and phone numbers to be obtained through kickstarter other than through customers providing it to projects so they can have rewards sent to them?
robomartin 1 day ago 2 replies      

I was trying to go 60 days without posting on HN. I't been 42 days. This is important enough to break my silence and at least make a request.

Kickstarter: You deal with personal and financial data. Could you please enable two things for those of us who understand security issues and want better security:

1- Give me the option to not use my email as the login user id.

I've warmed-up to the idea of using randomized user names on sites that allow it. Something like "aoc4sour*!Z". On such sites I have completely different and randomly generated user id's and passwords. Pretty much impossible for an intruder to associate those accounts with any other accounts.


They can access personal information such as real name, email, mailing address, phone and other personal identifying data that could contribute towards social engineering into other sites.


2- Please enable an option to choose two factor authentication.

This should be there as a firewall to access any personal data at all, even email and real name. It should also be required for any financial transaction, including pledging any amount on a project.

I'd say make it optional because the less informed (or less paranoid) might not want to bother.


3- I love questions such as "What's the name of your first pet?". How about some of those?

I am being a bit sarcastic here. When answered honestly these questions are really dangerous. It doesn't take a lot of social engineering to figure out most of them when armed with enough personal data.

However, I like to answer such questions with a random set of words. So, the name of my first pet might be "blue ladder tent aquifer". In other words, pretty much impossible to guess even if I gave you access to my facebook and linkedin accounts.

When used in this fashion these questions, I think, are actually useful. I'd venture to guess that most people don't do it this way because they don't understand the implications of providing straight answers.

These kinds of breaches have been accelerating. At least that's the feeling I'm getting. This to the point that I had a sit-down security meeting at home to make sure everyone at home understands what's going on and the fact that we need to make sure we use different passwords for every site and service and even different user names where possible. Pain in the ass but far less so than having your life turned upside-down by one of these idiots.

Any thoughts, comments or improvements on the above will be highly appreciated.


In the meantime, I am going to see about going back into mostly lurking mode on HN. I found it quite revealing to take a real break from reading and posting on HN. For the last 42 days I've checked HN's first page nearly daily and only scan a few threads very quickly, dismiss most of them and refrain from posting comments (until this one).


I wanted to initiate a thread to share my observations and reflections after, well, now 42 days of just glancing at HN and not posting. However, either I am the subject of a strange hellban or something is broken. I can post comments all I want but I don't seem to be able to start new threads. Not sure how to fix it. Too bad.

areeb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got a mail from them about it.
Servo Layout Engine: Parallelizing the Browser [video] paulrouget.com
194 points by paulrouget  3 days ago   57 comments top 10
tikhonj 3 days ago 3 replies      
Mozilla is one of my favorite tech companies. Servo is a great example: Mozilla is willing to engage in fundamental CS research. Not only are they trying to put together a parallel, secure browser engine from the ground up, but they even created Rust to do so. This is truly long-term work, which seems rare in an increasingly short-term world.

And Rust isn't just another C clone with OOP or CSP bolted on: it's principled, relatively elegant and takes full advantage of the last few decades of PL research. All while being practicalit has to be, since it's evolved with a Servo as a concomitant project. A non-trivial companion project like that seems great for naturally guiding a language! Not many other languages can say any of this, much less ones actually poised to replace C++ or at least do actual systems programming.

And Mozilla is doing all this in a completely open and transparent way. I think this is incredibly important: anybody can get a glimpse into active development or even contribute. Just go to the relevant GitHub repo[1][2] and you're set. This is the way open source is supposed to work, rather than having companies develop behind close doors and dump source code occasionally (although that's also better than nothing).

I really wish more companies would take this sort of approach with their open source or basic research work. This gives me more confidence in Servo, Rust and Mozilla as a whole, especially compared to many of Mozilla's competitors (both in the browser space and in programming languages).

[1]: https://github.com/mozilla/servo/ [2]: https://github.com/mozilla/rust

metajack 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is an amazing and challenging project to work on. If you'd like to join us, we hang out in #servo on irc.mozilla.org or just dive right into the code[1]. You don't need previous browser hacking experience, and we're happy to mentor you through a bug.

We're opening three full-time positions on the Servo team at Mozilla Research within the next couple of days; they should be up on the careers[2] page soon.

Also, if you're a graduate student, Mozilla Research is still looking for summer interns for Servo, Daala, Shumway, and other projects. Those positions are also on the careers page.

[1]: https://github.com/mozilla/servo/[2]: https://careers.mozilla.org/en-US/

TacticalCoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's the relation between Servo and the Quark browser kernel mentioned on the Servo page?

Quark is a formally verified kernel made of a few hundreds of lines of (C ? C++ ?) code. It's been verified using Coq and hence I take it it's guaranteed from a whole class of bugs typically leading to security exploits (buffer overrun/overflow/underrun, dangling pointer, null pointer, ...).

Is Servo using Quark? If not, is Servo formally verified using Coq?

To me formally verified software are one of the most interesting development we're seeing (that and deterministic builds seems to be huge steps forward towards more security), so I'd like to know more...

(gone building Servo on my Debian box)

al2o3cr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one that hopes this has a companion technology called "Crooooow!" ;
kibwen 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those having trouble seeing the slides in the video, you can find them here: http://www.joshmatthews.net/fosdemservo/
sandGorgon 3 days ago 3 replies      
Since Rust was born out of a vision to build the next-gen browser engine, does anyone know why Rust does not have bindings to GTK ? The only two projects (on github) are 1-2 years old.

I was hoping Rust could overtake Vala as the goto language for desktop software in the GTK world.

jbrooksuk 3 days ago 3 replies      
If this is ever implemented into Firefox properly, will see the difference in speed or is this mainly focused on security?
higherpurpose 3 days ago 3 replies      
Will Servo take advantage of GPU compute, too?
higherpurpose 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why doesn't that video expand to full screen? So annoying. I can't see what's on the slides.
The Man Who Built Catan newyorker.com
193 points by route66  1 day ago   107 comments top 14
chimeracoder 1 day ago 8 replies      
Catan was my first German-style board game[0].

I've since "graduated" on to more complicated games, so I rarely play it anymore, but I find that it's an effective "gateway" German-style board game. Almost all of my friends who have played it love it, and have gone on to try (and enjoy) other German-style games. Catan is nice because it's sufficiently more complex (and well-designed) than Monopoly so as to be interesting, but not so complex that the rules take ages for newcomers to learn (as is often the case with many more complicated games).

My personal favorite at the moment is Through the Ages[1], though I'm also a fan of Puerto Rico[2], as it's a rare example of a good game that has (almost) no random elements to its gameplay, such as rolling dice or shuffling a deck. (There is one set of tiles that is shuffled, but it's rather inconsequential and could easily be made deterministic if desired).

Here in NYC, there's a cafe dedicated to board games and which was funded on Kickstarter[3]. As a huge board game geek, I'm really glad they're catching on.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-style_board_game

[1] http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/25613/through-the-ages-a-...

[2] http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3076/puerto-rico

[3] http://www.uncommonsnyc.com/

TacticalCoder 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've got a little story as to how addictive Catan can be to some people...

About 15 years ago, a friend came to visit in my country with Catan. The simple, original box. He stayed at my place and for days my friend, my roommate and his girlfriend and me kept playing it. Then my friend left back to its country and took his Catan with him. We were so addicted and wanted to play really badly, but it was saturday evening.

Shops wouldn't open until monday and we wanted to play. We had played the game so much in a few days, non-stop, that we knew it by heart.

So I told my roomate and his girlfriend: let's build it. I was working in the book publishing business and had a very nice color printer at my apartment. I fired up Gimp on Linux (IIRC) and Quark XPress (that I'm sure of) on the old Mac and started designing basic hexagons and cards layout while my roommate started drawing and his girlfriend started writing down everything she remembered. Then we printed everything on the color laser printer and started cutting.

In about three hours (!!!) we had a functional game (we'd put a huge table glass on the map once randomly distributed). And we played the whole Saturday night, the whole Sunday... And when we woke up on Monday, we went to buy the game.

We were so into it that the three of us couldn't wait 36 hours or so to buy the game: we had to have it immediately. And we built it.

There's one word I'm thinking of for this game: addictive ^ ^

habosa 1 day ago 2 replies      
"The company originally sourced all of the materials for the game from Europe, but, when demand began to take off, the manufacturers didnt have enough wood to keep up."

Couldn't they have traded some grain or ore?

talmand 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who might be interested:


This is a Table Top episode hosted by Wil Wheaton playing Settlers of Catan. There is also another episode where they play the Star Trek variation.

Also, if you haven't seen this series and are interested in board games I highly suggest you watch other episodes. The level of interest will vary from episode to episode based on whether you like the type of game they play. But they give you a decent idea of how the game works and how it is played.

I have made several board game purchases based on this show.

Pxtl 1 day ago 3 replies      
The great thing about Catan is how it's a wedge. It's a gateway drug into the world of modern boardgames (I don't say Eurogames because there's some fantastic Ameritrash). People who play Catan are then amicable to try out other fun great games like Ticket To Ride and Small World.
habosa 1 day ago 4 replies      
My friends and I just got into Catan and it's really great. We used to play a ton of FIFA and Madden when we were together, now it's always "who wants to settle?". It really is a great game because it can't be completely beaten like Monopoly can and there is no best strategy that we've found. I play totally differently than my friends and we all win sometimes.

I also love the social aspects of trading and the robber. We have a LOT of table talk when we play, and it's hilarious to see what people will say to convince someone to put the robber on a spot they don't own. Also the desperate trades we get into "I'll give 5 wool for a grain! 6 wool for a grain!". It's really the best board game I have ever played by far.

locusm 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I never played Catan but wondered if it was suitable for kids 8-12 yrs old?

Also, anyone play "Escape from Colditz"? man I loved that game as a kid.

nnnnni 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like there is a fairly active IRC channel for modern boardgames called #boardgames on Freenode. http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=%23boardgames

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/ is the IMDB of boardgames.

the_watcher 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Catan is incredible to me. We picked it up in a thrift shop in a rural eastern Washington town, thinking it was some relic of the 70s (this was probably 1998 or something). We played it on family vacations and never thought about it outside of them. Then, all of a sudden, it exploded in popularity. Really cool story.
geddes 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is Catan really Silicon Valley's golf, like the article claims? I'd love to think so but I haven't seen any deals cemented over a game of Catan. Anyone have any stories?
michaelochurch 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish we had more of a board game culture in the U.S.

It seems that most adults end up, just because society is so demanding and competitive these days, with a lot of low-level social anxiety. It's rarely enough that most people notice it, but it keeps people from really relating to each other or learning from each other, and it's a major part of why people become so damn boring, one-sided, and narrowly careerist once they leave school.

There seem to be two antidotes to this low-grade but ubiquitous social anxiety. One is games, the other is alcohol. I don't mind an occasional drink but, most of the time, I prefer the one that sharpens the brain over the one that dulls it.

tylero 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a fun (and pretty long) podcast interview with Klaus and Guido: http://jeffrubinjeffrubinshow.com/episode/16-settlers-of-cat...
awkwit 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Played it for the first time a year ago. I've been addicted ever since.
yourmind 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Best game ever.
Introducing Bing Code Search for C# msdn.com
193 points by vwilson  8 hours ago   164 comments top 22
maresca 7 hours ago 4 replies      
C# and .NET get a bad rap for being created by Microsoft. But one thing that can't be ignored is how polished their development tools are. I absolutely love coding in Visual Studio.
bruceboughton 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that the example code shown is so clunky. It uses try-finally to manually dispose the resource when the idiomatic way would be to wrap it in a using block:

  using (var file2 = new StreamReader(file))  {    while ((line = file2.ReadLine()) != null)      Console.WriteLine(line);  }
It's possible this is a badly picked example but it shows one big downside of this -- the lack of discussion about the sample code that you would normally get at e.g. Stack Overflow or a blog.

rjzzleep 5 hours ago 0 replies      
mandatory crossplatform cli alternative howdoi [1]

vim howdoi plugin [2]

one of the few emacs plugins [3]

not sure if there are any other plugins, but that should cover a decent portion of interest here.

[1] https://github.com/gleitz/howdoi

[2] https://github.com/laurentgoudet/vim-howdoi

[3] https://github.com/arthurnn/howdoi-emacs

EDIT: sublime version https://github.com/azac/sublime-howdoi-direct-paste

guiomie 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Everytime something C# is posted it's all about MS and why some like or dislike C# or .Net, rarely are the comments related to the actual article.

Personally, I think this new feature is cool, but I've come to realise that my visual studio freezes way more then initially, I think this might be because I've got a few addons installed (ex: Demon, Resharper ...etc) I wonder what will be the overall performance impact of this.

seanmcdirmid 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Science fiction becomes reality:


> The Qeng Ho's computer and timekeeping systems feature the advent of "programmer archaeologists":[2] the Qeng Ho are packrats of computer programs and systems, retaining them over millennia, even as far back to the era of Unix programs (as implied by one passage mentioning that the fundamental time-keeping system is the Unix epoch:

> Take the Traders' method of timekeeping. The frame corrections were incredibly complex - and down at the very bottom of it was a little program that ran a counter. Second by second, the Qeng Ho counted from the instant that a human had first set foot on Old Earth's moon. But if you looked at it still more closely ... the starting instant was actually about fifteen million seconds later, the 0-second of one of Humankind's first computer operating systems.

> This massive accumulation of data implies that almost any useful program one could want already exists in the Qeng Ho fleet library, hence the need for computer archaeologists to dig up needed programs, work around their peculiarities and bugs, and assemble them into useful constructs.

curveship 4 hours ago 4 replies      
As someone who has recently been hiring .NET engineers, I have to admit that this inspires mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can see huge power from combining AI and search with the structured context of programming. On the other hand, a disappointing number of the people we interviewed weren't software engineers, they were IntelliSync engineers. We'd give them a problem, and their first instinct was to hit a period and start hunting through the method options that IntelliSync gave them to see if one got them closer to their goal. Instead of stepping back and thinking about the problem generally, they'd try to solve it by stringing together IntelliSync suggestions, like stepping stones across a pond.
AlaShiban 7 hours ago 6 replies      
If you want more info about the extension let us know. There's alot of cool contextual and semantic pieces in there that makes it a smarter search
ykumar6 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
One problem with this approach is it requires a change in user behavior. Unless Visual Studio can get a developer to an answer every single time, it may not be sticky enough to form a habit.

Google search reliably produces an answer each time, regardless of what the question or problem is

This is why search is very sticky (and habit forming). MSDN (and even Stackoverflow or Github) suffer from this problem because they only have a subset of content that developers want/need. Google brings all these sources together into a single search.

nrao123 7 hours ago 2 replies      
What a co-incidence!

Fred Wilson posted on this very topic this morning.http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2014/02/inspired-by-github.html

From his post:

"I was at a hackathon up at Columbia University last weekend and one of the hacks was a development environment that automatically queried StackOverflow and GitHub as you are writing code so that you always have in front of you the answers to the questions you are most likely to ask. The developer who did the hack introduced it by saying something like "programming these days is more about searching than anything else". That reflects how collaborative the sharing of knowledge has become in the world of software development as a result of these cloud based tools for developers."

Nate630 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Visual Studio sure has lots of neat extensions that add tons of value.http://vswebessentials.com/ is my fav.
gesman 7 hours ago 1 reply      
If for nothing else - it shows MSFT's commitment to the language, to the platform and to the framework.
forgotAgain 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Visual Studio could be so much more for Microsoft. Why do they need a phone? Let them make Visual Studio cross platform and developers would come back to Windows as their base platform. All other IDE's pale in comparison. Too bad that advantage is being wasted as far as new developers go.
adventureloop 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, I find the microsoft documentation particularly terrible.

I always had a chuckle when the first result for a simple C# concept and the result isn't a MSDN site. I also chuckle when the result is a forum post from 2005 that drops me into a link loop.

Thankfully I won't have to write C# for a long while. I can't say I will miss the MVC stack or the legacy burden you get with forms.

arikrak 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the beginning of a practical StackSort:


A lot of programming can involve Searching, but it doesn't have to involve searching with plain-text. One would have thought Google would work on this, but they closed down their code search and haven't offered anything else.

rl3 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It will be quite nice if this ends up yielding results for individual JavaScript frameworks some day.
asdf3 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Having this for Monodevelop and Unity3d would be great. Even better if we have community curated suggestions.
josephschmoe 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I really, really want this for IntelliJ/Android Studio. Actually, everything, can I get this for everything?
banachtarski 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This sounds like a great way to enforce bad programming practices.
arnie001 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Would like to see this for C++ soon enough. Looks great in the demo.
k_bx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I want this for elisp/emacs!
leonidr 3 hours ago 1 reply      
We no longer need developers we need good searchers.
kyberias 7 hours ago 0 replies      
But... that is not test driven!
Ask HN: What'd you do to get your first 100 users?
181 points by brandonhsiao  1 day ago   142 comments top 53
jonnathanson 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This is going to sound overly reductive, but I promise it's not:

1) What existing solution do you believe your product (or prospective product) is better than?

2) Where can you find a critical mass of people who use the existing solution?

3) Go there. Talk to them. Show them your product.

Now, none of this is trivial. First, because assuming you're operating lean, you start with no real clue if you're "better" than anyone or anything else, or on what dimensions that actually matter. You start with a hypothesis, and you have to seek out opinions (customer development). Second, because the existing solution might not be what you think it is. Or it might not be a product at all. It might be a behavior people are doing, or an "off-label" use of another product.

But by and large, this method works. It might not get you scale. But it'll get you in front of potential users, and those users will be primed to try out your product. The trick is in identifying the existing solution, finding people who use it, and getting some of their time.

I'd definitely advocate doing this before doing any "Show HN" posts. Show HN is a (potential) way to get a lot of traffic and attention in one blast. You don't want to play that card until you know you can benefit from it: either in terms of feedback (you'll want to have vetted out basic users and assumptions first), or in terms of users (aim for some indications of fit before firing the shotgun). The other problem with relying on Show HN, or Reddit, is that there's luck of the draw involved. Sometimes your post gets buried or washed out by the noise. Being good is no firm guarantee of charting to page one.

gabemart 1 day ago 15 replies      
I haven't done any promotion for http://asoftmurmur.com besides posting to reddit and HN, and it now has 400-500 regular daily users. It depends entirely on what type of product or service you're offering.

Another key thing is to understand the community. There is radical cultural diversity between subreddits which manifests in very different reactions to self-promotion. It's essential to engage appropriately and respectfully.

Something I've used for other projects is searching for coverage of competitors in the same space, then pitching to people who have already featured them. Again, very important to hand-tailor each pitch and offer value to the person you're contacting.

gbelote 1 day ago 2 replies      
One cool technique I saw recently (which isn't always applicable) is from a talk by Jason Cohen: http://vimeo.com/74338272 around minute 7)

In a nutshell when he was building WPEngine he went to LinkedIn and found folks who were Wordpress consultants. He then sent them a follow email and said he's building a product for "folks like you and would love to talk to you about your pains, needs, etc" (customer development stuff) and offered to pay for their time. It worked well - he sent 40, 100% agreed to talk, actually talked to 38, and 0 asked for money. He suggests this worked so well because the offer to pay showed he was respectful of their time so they were happy to help. YMMV.

lobotryas 1 day ago 2 replies      
It can be a working strategy if you're building a lifestyle business and don't care about hockey-stick growth or making millions.

I'm an armchair entrepreneur for now (just getting that out of the way), but the advice I've seen over and over again can be generalized as: "Go out and talk to peope". You'll want to avoid starting with a sales pitch. Instead, talk to them about their business (or life) and see if your product is a fit (ie: don't try to sell a social network for cats to a dog owner). If it seems like there's some product fit, ask how they are filling the need now. If appropriate, give the the elevator pitch and a 1min demo on your live product. Ideally, convert them by having them sign up for a trial right then and there on your computer, followed by walking them through the COOLEST thing they can do on your product.

Rinse, repeat.

That's my 2 cents. Also interested what others think.

mgl 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you have a product that may generate profit, e.g. a SaaS application targeting businesses, not a money burning consumer-app train (see: twitter or another photo album app) one of the strategies that work is cold emailing:

0. Identify and name your target group, e.g. commercial real estate agents in CA.

1. Find these people on Linkedin using advanced search option and invite them to connect.

2. Once connected you have their e-mail address, so send them a short e-mail (better response rate than InMails) describing the business problem and your solution. Short means 3-5 sentences, no attachments, just try to attract their attention.

3. Don't forget about follow-ups.

4. They will reply if interested and bam, you have a lead! Now it's time to set up a call and go into details.

5. Rinse and repeat. Stay persistent, you should send at least 20+ every day. Track response rates and adjust, you should achieve at least 5-10% easily.

cl8ton 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tried many options to get to our first 100 users.

Tech Blogs (they thought we were to boring to cover)

HN (no interest)

Reddit (no interest)

Ad Words (I think I sucked at it)

So I shrugged and kept improving then one day out of the blue, a big Mommy blog covered us for ways to keep up to date on coupons.

This one coverage leads to our first 200 users, and then another blog (MakeUseOf) covered us, which then lead to other industry specific blogs to cover us. Now we are getting 70+ new accounts a day and have over 120k users.

My advice (if the OP is asking) would be to target industry specific blogs/sites that would find your product useful and covers news that relates to your websites offerings, that is what I do now.

dbla 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my opinion reddit is very underrated in terms of customer acquisition. It's a target community of early adopters who are willing to start a conversation with you. For my start-up, 900dpi, I got our first 400 users from reddit after failing miserably through other channels. We found our best success in /r/web_design but have also looked at /r/frontend and /r/webdev. Sometimes your best traffic comes from comments in other peoples posts (where redditors are asking for a product like yours or discussing a problem that you solve). Our product has been picked up on a couple blogs too after being discovered by the bloggers via a reddit post.

I've also had luck with some other niche community sites such as Designer News. The important piece here is to try and integrate yourself into the community instead of just spamming them with links to your website. Get involved in conversations about things other than your start-up (people notice this and appreciate it). Make friends with the moderators. When Designer News was still private with no search capabilities I wrote a quick search engine built on sphinx to index all of the posts and make them searchable. Not only did this get me an invite to the community but also sent some nice traffic to my start-ups site via a small link on the search page.

I've had little to no success with twitter and facebook, although I might be doing it wrong. Some of the targeted communities that you can find through google plus look somewhat promising, but I've yet to fully explore these.

Our most vocal power users are people we know personally, or met at local events (our local co-working space).

shazow 1 day ago 1 reply      
For Briefmetrics[0], first 10 users were basically the people I was building the product for. About half of those immediately and enthusiastically converted to paying customers.

The next 100 were friends, people who follow me on Twitter/Facebook, and Show HN[1]/Show Lobsters[2]/Show Reddit[3]. Got a few more paid customers from this segment but the conversion rate was not great at all.

Now I'm working on the next 1,000 which will probably involve some "real press coverage" and some reviews on niche blogs or guest posts. This part has been the hardest for me and would love any advice/intros.


[0] Briefmetrics [https://briefmetrics.com/], email summaries of your Google Analytics.

[1] Show HN [https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6641385], which annoyingly got flagged pretty early on and never got any traction. Considering doing another Show HN, but kind of worried about annoying the HN hivemind.

[2] Show Lobsters [https://lobste.rs/s/ppcmud/show_lobsters_i_built_briefmetric...], some good feedback, this went as well as I could have hoped for the size of the audience. Been really enjoying the Lobsters community.

[3] Show Reddit [http://www.reddit.com/r/analytics/comments/1uk9na/briefmetri...] Got a chunk of visitors, but all the comments were from people I knew so the feedback was a bit of an echochamber.

neals 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've got 3 people cold-calling and driving around the country showcasing our product. They started last week. This is the first time I'm trying selling an online service this way, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the feedback and the signups.
loomio 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Our first customer for our collaboration tool Loomio (htp://www.loomio.org) was the coworking space we were working in and the social enterprise hub that was based there.

We built a tool that was instantly useful to them, and in exchange we instantly had 100+ users. We released an extremely "M" MVP and had real users from day one. Because they were using it free and we were building features in response to their direct feedback, they were very understanding about it being a rough prototype. Two years later, they voluntarily opted to generously backpay us for use of the tool (we didn't even ask them to).

If you can get real users from very early on, even if your tool is rough, do it! It will help you build what's really useful to people, and involving early users in the design process actively means they are motivated to use the tool early and help you make it work as well as possible as quickly as possible.

eli 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is almost the exact same question as this front page post from an hour earlier: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7248460

In essence: Go where your users hang out. With few exceptions, this is probably NOT the same place as where startup geeks hang out.

One example: my startup has a website for the Energy & Utilities industry. We got a bunch of early users by forming a partnership with a trade organization for energy providers.

itengelhardt 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here's a tactic that has worked for me so far

1. Set up a blog on your domain

2. write 20+ articles on industry-related topics (this alone will bring in some traffic)

3. get a number of emails from prospective customers

4. write a PERSONALIZED email to everyone on the list and ask if they are interested in an interview to be published on your blog. Offer a link from your blog as additional incentive

My response rate so far was >80%

Jasber 1 day ago 2 replies      
My friend and I just started a site to help do this: http://leaklist.org/

It's super early, but we've already gotten 500 users who are looking to beta test software and we've already started sending out codes.

Our goal is to make it the best platform for developers to get their first 100 users and the best place for users to get early & free access to awesome apps.

If you're interested please sign up either as a user or a developerwe're sending out stuff weekly!

DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't appear to have any links to your product on your HN user page!!!
girasquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was after people who used iTunes to listen to their music for Beathound (http://beathound.com), so I created a survey asking them about their listening habits and offered a $100 iTunes gift card as a reward in the hopes that folks filling it out would self-select based on how much they cared about the gift card. I posted a link to the survey in a handful of survey-oriented subreddits (/r/SampleSize is good) as well as some specific ones (like /r/music and /r/itunes).

I had them leave their email if they wanted to be notified of the survey results, and then when Beathound was ready to go I sent them a nice email that said "Thanks for filling out my survey! You didn't win the gift card, but [here] are the results, and [here] is what I built using them."

I had a terrible time giving the gift card to the person who won it, because they were in Australia and I'm in Canada - if you're going to give something away for your survey, make sure that you can easily do it internationally.

wuhha 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We had a idea for a group messenger tool to bridge teams and their customers (http://peer.im). Then we signed up an advisor to help us on sales and marketing. His is a sales director so he started used this tool in his team. Then we had a media press covered which brings us several dozen of real users who can give us feedback and iterate on features.
muratmutlu 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://betali.st/ got us our first 300 users for http://www.marvelapp.com, it's free to submit, I recommend it, great way to get momentum.

To get our first 1000 I used a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and my own blog and newsletter

lgilchrist 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's your product and who is your target user? Where do they spend their time? LinkedIn, Reddit, and HN won't help if you're trying to reach, for example, teenage girls.

I collected some thoughts on this that you might find helpful:http://lgilchrist.github.io/how_to_get_your_first_100_users/

TL:DR;- get a splash page up and start collecting emails- guest blog - particularly in places you know your would-be-users will read- organize an event - play around with paid marketing

dsugarman 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Focus on getting a product to the point that some small group (as small as one person) really loves the product. If you focus on that getting to 100 will be easy. Of course you will need to pick a product that at least 100 people have a use for.
bredren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Friends and family count for your first dozen at least, hopefully. After that, consider looking for online communities that need your product. For example, vbulletin forums that focus on them.

Ingratiate yourself to these communities by participating in discussions unrelated to what you're working on.

By then, you should be able to post a full thread describing what you've done, offer a few screenshots and ask if people will try it. By replying to people's questions and being friendly, you will keep the thread reasonably topped and pick up users that way.

This also works in general interest internet forums, so long as you are a reasonable participant and posting in the correct areas.

davidw 1 day ago 1 reply      
With LiberWriter, I targeted forums where our users actually hang out, and gave useful answers to questions, with the URL at the end of the message as a sort of '.signature'.

HN is far, far away from our target audience, so posts here - even on the top of the front page - have gotten me pretty much 0 conversions. That's fine, though.

morisy 1 day ago 1 reply      
30% from mailing lists where I was already an active member.30% direct referrals from people I knew in field.30% referrals from when I would find people not interested in product, and ask them if they knew anyone who was interested.10% media coverage of product.

Super labor intensive.

shasa 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Back in Dec 2012, when we were planning to launch TripTern we were bootstrapped and didn't have any money for marketing. So we relied heavily on Facebook for promotion. One thing that we used to spread the word was to create promotional material based on movie posters ( see the links below). It helped us in getting the initial signups and also was instrumental in us getting featured on Mashable.




You can see the entire album here


trevordev 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I created a website chatleap.com about a month ago and I had moved on since I was unable to get people to use it. I saw the twitch plays pokemon post and realized that it was hard to chat in the twitch chat due to all the people spamming commands so I decided to post my website there in hopes to get 1 or two people to visit my lonely chat. I ended up getting around 130 people and even had others posting my link in the twitch chat. So thats how I got my first 100 users but I am afraid they wont stay for long.
vetleen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of great answers here already, however if you just do everything at once, you have no idea what works and not. Therefore, my advice is to take all of the great strategies mentioned here and write them down in column A in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Then write todays date in column B. Then choose one of the strategies in the list, preferably one you believe in. In the intersection between the date and the strategy write Procedure: <exactly how you plan to proceed>, Measure: <exactly how you plan to measure the result, i.e. pageviews, signups etc.>, Result: <the results per metric>, Comments: <any comments that you think youd like to remember when you read this in three months> . Then do exactly what you planned to do, measure the results and write them down in the designated field. Next day (or when the first strategy is done) pick a new strategy and repeat the process.

I work with a lot of startups, and one of the things we keep learning is that it is a lot harder to get customers than it is to build something. Therefore try to think of marketing as a puzzle, a challenge to be solved. The key is to keep experimenting, and measure everything until you find something that works, then keep experimenting and measuring.

dangrossman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Advertising. AdWords PPC and banners on relevant sites. You can use tools like http://mixrank.com/ YC S11) to see where your competitors advertise and what ads they use.
nhebb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Before launching my first product, I wrote ten articles on related subjects and put up an email sign-up form. The article were static html pages, not blog posts. They were howto's and other reference pieces that had lasting traffic value.
helen842000 1 day ago 1 reply      
Adwords, Forums, facebook groups, blog audiences, commenting, twitter, pinterest.

Go and find out where you customer hangs out online. Who already has your perfect audience on their mailing list? See if you can write something of value for their audience and tap into existing groups.

When you do get users, ask how they found you then double down on promoting in that channel.

junglhilt 15 hours ago 0 replies      
At Jungl VPN we do the following:

1) Personally craft a unique, thoughtful reply to every sales question.2) Use our own VPN ourselves on a daily basis so we can empathize with our customers and improve our product3) Provide stellar support for our product. For example remotely troubleshooting issues on customers computers or setting up a custom VPN server temporarily if customers are in a pinch. 4) Reward our influential customers by offering a referral fee.


adambrod 1 day ago 0 replies      
Striking up conversations in targeted areas works well for Blonk [0].

We're targeting software engineers & smaller startups looking to hire in the bay area. Find an icebreaker and when they naturally ask what you do, have your elevator pitch ready. If they're interested they'll ask you for url info or start downloading it on the spot. If not, no worries.

We often work at coffee shops in that area. When someone starts talking, we're happy to chat. Typically when they need to plug in a laptop or they ask you to watch their stuff. Attending meetups that your target audience goes to can be very worthwhile.

[0] http://blonk.co is an job finding app that connects job seekers to co-founders or their potential dept. leader in large companies, skipping the recruiters entirely.

Sindrome 1 day ago 0 replies      
It really depends on the business. But ideally you want to find a place where your ideal user is and promote there.Some Example:- If you are doing something entertainment based try posting branded content on Tumblr and promoting it through social media.- If you are building a SaaS application for developers, try to speak at a conference.

Be sure not to fall into the trap of using users/straight growth as a vanity metric. Any website can get decent growth with a spammy strategy. You want quality users that will help grow the product.

yaur 1 day ago 0 replies      
My last personal project was a fan site for an MMORPG where I was doing around 250k monthly uniques before the game tanked. Promoting it was just a matter of establishing a presence on the official forums prelaunch, looking at referrers and extending the presence to other sites that were generating traffic.

My last commercial project was an OTT IPTV startup which we mainly promoted through adwords, some premium online ads in our target demographic, and doing interviews with media outlets that were serving that demographic. In terms of CPA adwords were by far the most cost effective.

My current project is in the entertainment. We are looking to get buy in from a couple of prominent people in the space before we go live and expect that a "we like it" from them will give us critical mass very quickly.

spencerfry 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've grown https://www.uncover.com (a simple tool to give employees perks and rewards) in various different ways. A lot of it began with telling my network of friends who run startups. Getting them signed up. Then getting them to tell their friends how much they liked it. Once that source was depleted, I began to do a lot of content marketing. I started writing for a lot of different blogs, websites, etc. That helped get out name out there and brought in about a third of our current customers. I'm now beginning to experiment with buying ads. It's still too early to tell how well that will work out, though.
Bartweiss 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's your general field? B2B, especially for big industries, tends to call for networking and possibly cold calls. Individual sales tends to call for advertising with a focus on high relevance sites. Social or two-sided markets (think credit card companies and users) tend to call for narrow early focus via outreach to online or physical communities. This simulates widespread use by creating a regionally high use space.

If you're in a specific field (e.g. online cello sales), do outreach to things like relevant forums and subreddits. You'll get targeted use which will provide quality feedback, hopefully. If it's a broad spectrum project, buy up relevant and cheap(ish) ads in several venues. Push use with some definable group that you can interact with directly, get emails via a newsletter, etc.

blase40 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I struck up a partnership with the owner of the largest forum in my vertical. I just published this blog post about the whole process a few days ago:

How One Strategic Partnership Generated Hockey Stick Growth For Our Online Community http://justinblase.quora.com/How-One-Strategic-Partnership-G...

vetleen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I work with a startup that sells education games to elementary schools in Norway. We did a survey, where we sent out 600 forms to teachers and got 154 responses. At the end of the form we had an extremely short description of the concept and a check-box for yes, I would like to try this product together with my students. We got 94 signups from that.
ry0ohki 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who is your customer? You need to go to where they are. Depending on your customer there will be wildly different marketing strategies.
mrborgen 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few years ago I started a norwegian Fiverr.com clone, called Mikrojobb.no. We got our first 100 users by:

1. Telling all of our friends to create accounts and post some 'gigs', so the site didnt look like a ghost town.

2. Going to various forums for bloggers, web developers, part-time entrepreneurs etc and asking them for feedback. (In other word, finding communities that we thought would use the site and asking them for feedback.)

3. Pushing some press releases to local news sites.

Quite straightforward.

arikrak 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you have a project associated with your startup, you can launch it on Kickstarter and get both users and money. That's what I did for Learneroo.com.
BorisMelnik 23 hours ago 1 reply      
cold called - I hired interns and commission based workers to call people they thought would buy our product. I didn't have to worry about selling it to the customers, I just had to figure out how to sell it to our sales reps. Cold calling worked great, just got tired of the bS that came along with it.
pypetey 1 day ago 0 replies      
How should I acquire users for classified ads website?I've done this site recently, it's my first personal project:http://oglos.info/

I managed got some ads etc. I will appreciate feedback :) and suggestions related with the site (it's not in english but it's extremely easy so it should be understandable).

cmelbye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Advertising on social media and lots of instrumentation.
GnarfGnarf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not post on HN or Reddit, that's for sure.
MarkIceberg 20 hours ago 0 replies      
HN got me the first 260 users for http://crushify.org(Reddit was a no show.
elgrito 14 hours ago 0 replies      
We don't have budget for marketing at http://www.cloquo.com so the only way we can do in order to promote our platform is by inviting bloggers, related with our service, to try out what we have develop so far, and we got some good feedback and reviews. Other way we are experimenting is to listen on twitter what kind of upcoming events people is interesting to not miss out and we add some value to them by sharing an alarm to easily activate it and being reminded when time comes. As a Google Mentor told me once, is better to reach first your primary audience instead going mad to be reviewed at big tech media.

Maybe our experience can help others...

pekk 1 day ago 0 replies      
What kind of customer are you trying to get?
mbesto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talk to people. In person.
mehulkar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reach out to 100 strategic people individually.
prottmann 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thats the holy grail of marketing, and you will not get the answer here.
sharemywin 1 day ago 0 replies      
you might try your local chamber of commerce. I believe one the mail apps tried that. probably need a general business app.
enra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Told friends, twitter, HN.
pikachu_is_cool 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got my first 50,000 users in a few days by posting to reddit. And literally doing nothing else.

If you're trying this hard to market then you're probably making a bad product.

jarnix 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would give a kidney.
Why I Dropped Out Of YC wikichen.is
169 points by daniellegeva  3 days ago   145 comments top 22
birken 3 days ago 10 replies      
Look, startups suck. Failed startups suck. Successful startups suck. Silicon Valley sucks. But so does working regular jobs, and so do a lot of things. The problem here is probably that you had the wrong expectations, and then when reality hit, it hit really hard.

If you want to play the game, you better be mentally prepared for dealing with a lot of shit. Egos are going to clash. Friendships are going to be strained. Stress is going to occur. To use one of my favorite quotes my dad always said to me, "that is life in the big city". Startups are not romantic -- they are a slog.

But... if you are building something you want to build, it can be worth it. Just don't expect it to be easy.

einhverfr 3 days ago 4 replies      
If I have learned one thing from reading HN here it is:

If you want ownership (and by that I mean an equal say), you want to do a lifestyle business, not a startup. Once you start accepting other people's money, you get trapped into their expectations of an exit strategy.

That exit strategy ends in one of three ways:

1. Your startup is sold and either you have a regular job or you no longer have any say. Either way you hopefully have some money.

2. Your startup goes public, makes you very wealthy, and now you are beholden to the SEC, tax lawyers, accounting lawyers, etc.

3. Your startup fails and ends.

That's it. You may have a great idea, with scalable revenue, etc. But if you want control you have to fund it yourself. That's one reason why I doubt Efficito will ever take investment money (my co-founder and I are on the same page there) from outside parties.

Where startups are better is where you want help to achieve greater rewards and don't mind being beholden to investors. That's the decision that has to be made before even looking at incubators.

zaidf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Did you leave the startup that got into YC or did the whole start up(your cofounder(s)) also leave YC? Your writing hints at the former in which case it sounds like you left a start up that got into YC, not as much YC.
wisty 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author is a very good writer, but they don't actually say why they dropped out of YC. At best, they say "I'm glad I dropped out, because it wasn't much fun". (Yeah, they say that's the reason, but I believe that's a post-rationalisation).

Apparently, the company was stalling, and there were lots of disputes. It's a startup. I guess the author walked earlier than usual - that's either smart or dumb .... it's hard to know which without knowing more.

But there's not enough meat in the article to have a sane discussion on, other than making wild allegations about the author or YC or starups or Moleskin journals.

apunic 2 days ago 2 replies      
> lifes too short to wear hot pants.

Yes and now get back into your comfort zone.

Sorry, to be harsh but I just couldn't figure out why you left whom--YC, your startup, your cofounders? And what's all about this Moleskine? Happy about any clue or tl;dr

rdl 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm still confused what happened: did you have a cofounder dispute? Aaron is probably the most chill partner at YC, so you got good advice I'm sure.
YuriNiyazov 3 days ago 2 replies      
I dropped out of YC in '08. It's really OK, I am not out on the street with glazed-over eyes wondering what could've been.
jseliger 2 days ago 0 replies      
I left this (very small point) on Jonathan's blog but think it worth noting here too:

Taking the new Moleskine from the shelf and removing it from its plastic wrap, I turned to the first blank page and picked up my pen.

Good luck on the next steps. One small suggestion, however: consider a Rhodia Webnotebook next time (I wrote about it here: http://jseliger.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/product-review-rhod...). It's more durable than Moleskines and the paper is consistently better. I use a pocket-size notebook but there are A4 versions too.

yanivt 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sorry to say this but it sounds like you're not a right fit for startups. Startups aren't for everyone. If you want to be a founder it is absolutely a gut wrenching challenge. You have to put yourself out there and then be torn apart a million different ways. You have to adapt and change, listen to others. Be relentless. Work is a grind, you don't get to work on what's fun. You have to work on what's right. And if you can't get a very deep sense of fulfillment with all that sacrifice, it doesn't mean you're a bad person. It just means you should get a normal job, or be employee 100 at a company, just don't be a founder.
courtf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel a certain amount of empathy for the author, mostly due to having been adrift through some lengthy segments of my own life. I will only say that spending much time navel-gazing is a largely futile exercise, particularly when the fruits of that labor are so decidely ambiguous and unfocused. Put some distance, in the metaphysical sense, between yourself and these events.
aelaguiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I sometimes wonder if people like this wake up one day and realize they tossed one of the most important opportunities of their lives because they are stubborn. Probably not.
msutherl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to say you're not alone in being jaded and disillusioned about "Silicon Valley at large". There are a lot of things about it that are fucked up and you should absolutely blaze your own trail or look elsewhere if it doesn't sit right with you. There are a lot of people in tech who deliberately steer clear and they're not hanging out on HN either. For some reason I'm still stuck on this site though.
qq66 2 days ago 0 replies      
Irrelevant to the article, every business dreams of the brand loyalty that Moleskine enjoys. Look how often the article uses the brand name for a largely commodity product.
zxcvvcxz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish the author would have talked specifically about the clash with his partner(s), that would have been actually insightful/interesting. But maybe privacy concerns prevent that which is understandable.

I've actually been in a similar position with an incubator startup-thing where my cofounders couldn't carry on working on what we (perhaps mostly I) initially set out to do. Working on anything else certainly feels like hot pants to me. But alas, I'm taking the other route and seeing what happens when I swallow my pride and decide to try learning about something that I think is otherwise bullshit. Just this one time though... can't let the rest of the world tell you to work on shit you don't want to work on forever ;)

Anyone else relate to this for an incubator-type thing? How did staying a path you didn't initially like vs. quitting work out for y'all?

throwaway7808 3 days ago 1 reply      
The thing about YC, is that it is the 'Steve Jobs way', the way of brilliant showmanship. But also the way of blatant lies and distortions fields. It is not the 'Wozniak Way'.

(I'm also a YC dropout.)

wslh 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like he was into YC to write about how he dropped.

He could enjoy the ride just for fun.

Void_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just came to say I love this style of writing. Easy to read and funny. Good job.
ryanatkn 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious how the OP found his startup partner(s) and what the irreconcilable differences were.
sillysaurus2 3 days ago 2 replies      
But if you asked me for the one reason why it didnt work out, the truth is that it just wasnt fun anymore

Is YC fun? Not the dinners. The work you're there to do.

It seems like doing a successful startup is closer to this than to fun: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7222850

Maybe in the wake of a failed startup I deluded myself into thinking great teams are predicated on great friendships, a truism that no longer holds absolute truth.

Perhaps there's a misunderstanding of what a friendship is in a business context. The cofounders have to have been friends for quite awhile, otherwise the stress will tear them apart. But they probably don't have to be dear friends, or the kind of friend you hug. It's just business.

to those like me who held the institution on a pedestal

This seems the central issue. YC is ultimately about business. It's awesome, it's changed the world and my life, but having expectations that it's going to be fun and that you're there with dear friends seems off the mark. But I've never done YC, so this is just speculation on my part.

par 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure this says why you dropped out. Is your primary reason because it wasn't 'fun'? I'm not sure startups are supposed to be 'fun'. They are incredibly hard ventures to solve problems where others have failed.
theklub 3 days ago 0 replies      
Was that a commercial for moleskin?
sizzle 3 days ago 0 replies      
reddit is leaking again
Show HN: I redesigned the Microsoft employee badge alp.im
168 points by aalpbalkan  5 hours ago   76 comments top 23
kayfox 4 hours ago 10 replies      
* The circle makes it hard to see at a glance if the face matches the badge, this is a big deal.

* The employee number should be on the front, because this is often needed for identifying people who security cant stop (for whatever reason), but are doing bad things.

* Printing on the back is expensive, the badge printers that do this cost often twice as much. Printing color is even more expensive, your talking increasing the cost of the badge by about a third. This also leads to other problems like heavy head wear because of the smart card contact, having to define avoidance areas because of the same and jamming issues with the added complexity of using the card flipper.

* Employment classification (Employee, Intern, Vendor Name, Partner, etc) should be printed in text on the front.

* Smaller companies would be encouraged to avoid printing the company logo or name on the badge, as this tells people where it will work.

* Same with the address, and the cost of replacement and expedience means returning the badge is useless. This wasn't true when Motorola Flexpass badges were first rolled out at MS, but its true now.

* Badge photos need to be standardized for various security reasons.

* Your current badge does already emphasize your first name, its not as prominent on yours as it was on mine, but it changes from time to time as they much with the access control software.

Where I'm coming from: I am a security engineer, I previously worked on physical security management and had started out in the industry at Microsoft. I work on systems that print hard cards for a paying hobby.

PS, I was fired from MS for posting an image of myself online where my badge was clear enough to copy. Might be something to check on.

mpyne 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Well I'll be the constructive voice. I like it.

You should be able to find email address in the corporate directory services, it's not like people are going to memorize them from looking at a badge. We already have business cards or mobile devices w/ NFC if it's necessary to transfer the email address in a persistent form.

Plus having names instead of email serves the more-important purpose of allowing people to more easily socially interact in meetings, social gatherings, etc.

Since it would almost be impossible to completely anonymize the purpose of the badge (especially with the request to return to Microsoft) using the current visual branding certainly beats using the 1988 visual branding.

I can't speak to "Former Metro" branding but it certainly looks pleasing enough.

gilgoomesh 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm fascinated by a separate point that this badge raises: the "Microsoft" logo is now the "Windows" logo.
reddiric 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Great job putting together a prototype. Although I'm going to list specific complaints, I appreciate the effort in creating and risk in sharing, so good job and thanks.

- I don't follow the circle photo fad. It seems like an unnecessary complication (implementation and design element)

- By moving information to the back, you're assuming that the facilities which create these badges have the ability to do double-sided prints on the badges, and if they have the technical ability that it won't increase the time or work required to print a badge.

- You're assuming that the badge printer can print completely to the edge.

- Removing the "Employee" text and relying on the blue color is an accessibility problem (color-blind people need this information)

- Customizing your badge photo adds security policy complications.

DanBC 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The photos have two examples of employees with their face at an angle - you can see only one ear of the woman with red hair and one ear of the man with grey hair.

Since these photos serve a purpose (identifying the bearer, not making the bearer feel good about the photo) they probably need to be standardised and use something like passport photo criteria. (Although perhaps gently relaxing those standards).

There's no accessibility or diversity information either. It'd be nice to at last think about the needs of visually impaired users, for example.

But the cards are nice! Nicer than the original example.

Greenisus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I love it, but I have one suggestion: show the employee's name on both sides.

For some reason, I have a hard time remembering names (but never forget faces), so I often glance at badges to try and remind myself what the person's name is. It's always a bummer when the badge is flipped around and I can't tell who it is.

pmorici 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Cool, but they probably won't be able to adopt that design. Badges like this are made with special printers which have a minimum margin which is why most/all badge you see out there have that ugly white margin around them.
zaidf 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Did you consider left aligning the name? By centering the name, you're not letting the eyes get trained on where to look instinctively. Someone named "Jim" has a much different starting point than "Mohammed".

Also, I'd have made the last name much smaller.

Scaevolus 4 hours ago 0 replies      
First names aren't necessarily the 'most important' -- especially for names that aren't of European origin.

Employee number isn't sensitive information.

MrHeartBroken 4 hours ago 1 reply      
On the note of minimalism the actually Apple badge looks like this. http://cdn-static.cnet.co.uk/i/c/blg/cat/mobiles/jordan-id.j...
icambron 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The only thing I don't like here is the way the last name is printed. I'm all for emphasizing first names, but there's something about the way it's printed that make me read it as a title. Like Ahmed is a Balkan at Microsoft.
dashster18 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The colorful window logo isn't the Windows logo. Microsoft recently changed their logo to that in 2012.
b2themax 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't like it. Its look is too reminiscent of Google's design language, especially their 'circles' in Google+. The look is very soft, while Microsoft's design language (formerly metro) is much more modern.
richardwhiuk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So what you've changed is to center the information (not a big deal, move a whole load of useful information to the rear and use a more up to date logo.

Seems pointless. Microsoft have updated their logo four times in the past four years. People update their favourite photo once every couple of months. It also require that corporate directory services allow updating of photos significantly more often, just so people can have a photo of themselves they like. Finally you've ignored practicalities of printing logos. Sounds like a typical design with no understanding of the limitations involved or requirements.

Most of the offence here seems to be because you didn't like the photo (because it's passport / security style instead of Faceboook / Instagram esque?) and the 8 bit colour printing. Both of these are intrinsic to the requirements caused by printing badges.

By the way, the logo was valid in 2012, not just 1998 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft#Logo

exo_duz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great job! I'm a big fan of minimalistic design which unfortunate to say most of MS products aren't. Looking forward to more design ideas from you :
urs2102 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan of the colors and typeface, but doesn't Microsoft's design style push for more of a rectangular/angular look all around?
codex 4 hours ago 2 replies      
- The photo is the most important feature of the badge; for security reasons, it should be as large as possible.

- First and last names are not as important as one's email address

- The logo is a security risk; should a badge go missing, it's a clue as to where to (mis)use the badge.

codex 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This particular design doesn't take a lot of skill to create, and I'm not sure the author knows what problem to solve. The triviality of the redesign should be embarrassing to the creator.
willcodeforfoo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes me think large companies like this should invest just a tad bit more in taking quality photos. Ditch the DMV backdrop, on-camera flash and low quality photo and invest in a couple umbrellas and just an entry-level dSLR. As often as they are seen, you should make people feel good about it.
magic_haze 4 hours ago 6 replies      
I don't understand why a badge is necessary in the first place. Won't NFC on a phone suffice?
waxy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just as an off topic, not even microsoft employees use outlook.
greatsuccess 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
The badges wont look like this with the standard security camera mugshot that security offices use and the picture is probably too small to make them happy as well.

Other than that nice job. I don't think it will be implemented.

joncp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a pretty badge, but unfortunately it's a security risk. Putting identifying information on there is an opening for social engineering attacks. The employee name and anything tying it to Microsoft shouldn't be on there. Really, just the photo and badge id (not the employee ID) should be there. If there's a "return to" address, it should be a nondescript PO box that's not in Redmond.

Edit: Also, the employee number shouldn't be on there for the same reason.

Bup: Efficient file backup system based on the git packfile format github.com
166 points by tekacs  2 days ago   61 comments top 10
tobias2014 2 days ago 3 replies      
Another backup possibility I currently use: ZFS on a backup server (not necessarily ZFS on the system that should be backed up), pull data with rsync on the backup host to a ZFS, after that make a snapshot for an "incremental backup".

So simplified it's like: rsync -avx remote:/etc /backup/ && zfs snapshot backup@`date`

With zfSnap (https://github.com/graudeejs/zfSnap) you can tell how long incremental backups/snapshots are kept, "rsync && zfSnap -d -a 1w backup"

You can take advantage of the /backup/.zfs/snapshot directory to access all snapshots, built-in compression and possible data deduplication.

If you also have ZFS on the remote host, you can use zfs send and zfs receive to transfer the snapshot directly to the backup server, instead of using rsync for the diff.

leephillips 1 day ago 2 replies      
Not really closely related, but another solution that uses git infrastructure to back up large files is git-annex:


mattdeboard 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm assuming you're not the author. But just in case the author wanders by: How did you decide which parts to write in C?
natch 2 days ago 8 replies      
How do people who would use this kind of thing manage to have remote servers with terabytes of available disk space on them?

Anything is possible with money, of course, but how is this anything other than really expensive?

For example AWS S3 would be $235/month (that's $2,820/year!) for 3TB not even including any data-out transfer charges. Sure there are others that are cheaper but only marginally so.

Is this really what people are doing? Makes the commercial services sound really cheap.

gcr 2 days ago 4 replies      
Bup is lovely. I used it to back up my huge home folder and only switched away to rdiff-backup because (at the time) there was no support for deleting old revisions.

Is there any support for that? (Of course, for a large enough hard drive, it's not much of a problem...)

atmosx 2 days ago 1 reply      
The most efficient backup system for operating systems I've used so far is 'tarsnap'. The only drawback is that restore is really slow.
atso 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hear about rdiff-backup, but I think its two main drawbacks are:

* on the webpage, there is no new release since 2009.

* has no de-duplication.

I was considering moving my 5+ years old rdiff-backup system to any of those new, promising programs:

* obnam [http://liw.fi/obnam/]

* attic [https://pythonhosted.org/Attic/]

They both do automatic de-duplication, old backup deletion and remote encryption.

brimstedt 1 day ago 2 replies      
so, its 2014 and still people use homegrown variations of tar, rsync, git and whatnot. Or a half done solution like this, or an abandoned solution like box backup.

why on earth isnt there already a perfect cross platform open source backup program? :)

I know,i know..why dont i make one myself? because we dont need a nother half done solution :-b

gesman 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is an outstanding project with great potential.

Killer for many commercial, overpriced services.

kimjotki2 2 days ago 3 replies      
a 'backup system' that runs on python. how oxymoron.
Why Loneliness Matters in the Social Age wikichen.is
150 points by PakG1  2 days ago   55 comments top 14
iterationx 2 days ago 4 replies      
There was an interesting article recently about teens and social networking, and insight of the article was that teens want to socialize IRL, but there is nowhere for them to go without parental supervision.

I would argue that this approximately true for adults, American cities don't have pedestrian-only town squares, the public transit is abysmal (because long ago they ripped out all the streetcars, which led to the destruction of many social places, like Excelsior Amusement Park and Wonderland Amusement Park),

[warning anecdotal evidence]

The few dynamic social spaces I've known have been

Paved (Hidden Beach),

Pushed out due to rent increases (Loring Bar, Little Nikkis Cafe, CyberX),

Turned into a Bank of America (Filter in Wicker Park),

Out of business due to the smoking ban (The tobacco shop next to Filter in Wicker Park)

Purposefully destroyed by fake art to prevent gatherings (That little area next to the Subway on State Street in Madison, WI (where I used to play hackeysack))

Not to mention that we destroyed all the beer gardens during WW2 (this really happened), because that was too German, you can't drink a bottle of wine in a park like the French do, because I guess the drunks would abuse it, and the parks we do have generally don't also have any commercial activity whatsoever, not even a little kiosk where you can buy a coffee.

That's not even considering the destruction of ethnic neighborhoods by intersecting them with freeways (the old Catholic neighborhood [that no longer exists] that used to surround the Basilica in Minneapolis)

You know we're doing something wrong with urban design (which I argue is directly related to loneliness), when you see statues of children playing and not actual children playing.

Further reading/viewing:

James Howard Kunstler: The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs

James Howard Kunstler: Geography of Nowhere

The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing

Streets for People: A Primer for Americans

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community

noname123 2 days ago 5 replies      
Related but an off-shoot question, people who are "settled down," in your late 20's/30's/40's/50's/60's, have families and various obligations, how do you deal with loneliness?

As someone who is on the precipice of turning 30 (27 currently), speaking strictly for myself - I've found that loneliness for me and my older peers is different from the angst of adolescence a la Holden. Tbh, younger people tend to think in more black and white terms and very ambitious but most haven't gone through the "test" of one's vulnerability and limitation. Unfortunately, we also live in a marketing society that sells products and dreams on the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that exploit the impressionable young people (e.g., the "MTV" high school memories with the "Coke" concert experience with friends; the "Ivy League" class room experience, the "Liberal Arts" self-exploration, the "Sexy-Times" with la-femme-de-Zooey Deschanel and "Peter Thiel/Steve Jobs entrepreneur" iconoclasm).

Whereas I was a jack-ass when I was 21, thinking I was special and therefore deserved and expected external tokens of accomplishments at every stage in my life (I was crestfallen at age 21 after being rejected by YC because I couldn't post a smug post on FB to snub all of my classmates and friends; and most importantly, have that as a validation to my insecure self-worth; a loneliness stemming out of FOMO). My loneliness nowadays is more centered around the splintering of between mine and my friends and acquaintances' goals and vision.

Some of my friends are still going at it with early twenties vision of grad school, startups and traveling, albeit with some bruises and splints. Some of my friends have fully "embraced" adulthood, complete with jumbo mortgage loans and X month into pregnancy and parenting books and diapers. Friendships/liasons have changed from one-on-one interaction to couples or single "dating" another couple or single. But most alarmingly, how much less I care and am affected by my peers' ideas and vision because how much I've fully embraced my own vulnerabilities/personality and focused fully to vest on my own ideas.

People who have past their 20's, how do you deal with loneliness? Do you focus on your family or really close friends after twenties, or do you focus on pursuing your own ideas with a community of likely-minded people, or do you come up with some kind of philosophical reconciliation?

PeterWhittaker 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first year or two of university were somewhat similar, with periods of significant loneliness, which I can now, many years later, compare to grief in its intensity and debilitating effect (knowing full well that my recollections of those affects is hazy at best).

Part of this was the feeling of isolation caused by being in a new place without the "support network" I had in high school.

"Putting myself out there" didn't help much (I was involved in several groups, including drama productions, where one literally puts one's self out there).

What helped immensely were one or two intimate relationships, in one case a summer romance (yeah, I know how clich that sounds) between second and third year and in the other a sometimes rocky and difficult two year relationship over my last two years (fourth and fifth).

Thinking about these relationships Vs friendships Vs acquaintancies prompts me to speculate that there is a strong positive correlation between the amount of time one spends with another person and one's sense of well being: Acquaintances were little blips of goodness that drained away quickly when the other left (minutes, say?), the feeling of goodness from being with a friend could last hours or even a day or two, but with highs and lows, but living together had me feeling good about myself all the time, even after a bad fight, with amount of time spent with the person directly related to the depth of the relationship: You don't spend as much time with your acquaintances, even if you want to, because they have other acquaintances and friends and lovers, and they want to spend time with them; you spend more time with friends, because you are their friend too; and you spend so much more time with lovers because that is the choice you have both made.

In 20/20 hindsight, I am quite glad we didn't have the Internet (it would one year after leaving U that I learned to spell TCP/IP and another year before I got my first email address) and that phones calls were so expensive: If I had had "anchors" elsewhere that I could easily reach and hold on to, I don't know that I would have stayed where I was.

As it was, I had to "bear down" and "barrel through" until better times came by. Sure, a different path could have led to just as good a life, but I'd hate to travel back and take that chance: Things are good, very good.

rm445 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting article, but I can't help feeling that for the author the feeling of loneliness is a symptom of something underlying. Which makes the loneliness itself much less interesting.

The reason I say this is, because it affects reaction and treatment. If someone complains of persistent leg pain, you don't delve too deeply into the nature of the pain and whether society is sufficiently kind to leg-pain-sufferers, if it turns out their leg is caught in a bear trap.

The Stephen Fry quote makes that particularly clear. If a well-loved public figure, by his own admission possessed of good friends and many social engagements, can feel tremendously lonely - and if the post author, who can discuss feelings of tremendous loneliness with friends and counsellors yet still feel lonely, then it doesn't seem worthwhile discussing "public discourse on the cultural ramifications of technology" or "our growing dependence on technology to communicate" as the article does. Because the author, actually being in a state of depression, might well feel just as lonely if those things were totally different.

dschiptsov 1 day ago 1 reply      
Because nothing could be accomplished without avoiding constant distractions which comes from society. When Sartre said his famous "the hell is other people" he probably meant this too. Others, like Mishima, Rand, Nabokov, Hesse also emphasized if not loneliness but certain safe distance from so-called society. It is perfectly ok to be alone from all that socially constructed reality they created for themselves. Like Tibetans said "the hell is a not a place, but a consequence of behavior of inhabitants".

So loneliness is required, at least it is more bearable and natiral condition for those who is labeled as by society as "introvert" or "autist" or other words they cannot understand. Introversion is an effect, not a cause, and with good books, like "Catcher" cited by OP one is never alone, and it is a better condition than being "social animal" before TV set, or with a bottle on the street.

einhverfr 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting article. I found myself agreeing with it most of the time. At the same time, as someone who has overcome a lonely path, I can't help but put a lot more emphasis on culture than on the others.

American culture is a lonely culture, as my wife is always pointing out. We send our kids to college alone. We retire alone. We look at social problems like poverty as if they are held by the individual alone. Loneliness is the price of freedom but it is also the price includes lack of real social and physical support.

When I moved to Indonesia two years ago, things went downhill with my marriage fast. My wife was always threatening to send me back to the States (every couple weeks) and I couldn't develop a sense of place in the midst of the uncertainty. I felt like I was half-way around the world from anyone who cared about me except for the kids. It was a very dark, depressing, and crippling place to be (business-wise, personally, and more). And so things continued for most of two years. Eventually we did overcome our problems (in no small part due to me eventually deciding I had to ignore her threats).

Here's the basic thing. It doesn't take many people to combat loneliness. Quality matters far more than quantity. Getting out there and meeting people is a smallish part of the battle. A much larger issue is building real friendships with a small number of people.

Having two or three close friends makes a world of difference.

wmnwmn 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think we're mainly lonely because we learn to value sex as the primary goal in interpersonal relationships, thereby devaluing everything else. There is a linear relationship in western culture between the rise of emphasis on sex, which at first seemed "liberating", and the decline in feelings of connectedness with other people. Read some of the older literature which seems "repressed" by today's standards, and you will see that people had a better appreciation for life's other blessings, placed a higher value on friendship, and had more substantial friendships with other people. I don't think it has much at all to do with technology or the "pace of life", or even materialism; it's mainly about sex and where it lives in our value system. We don't want to go back to being repressed, but our current value system needs some adjustment, which will be difficult because it is a form of addiction. Like other addictions, it gradually drains meaning from the rest of life. Ironically the epic glut of pornography could help turn the tide, as people just overdose and realize how empty the whole thing really is. The recent rise of mainstream sadistic fantasies like 30 Shades suggests the end of the line for this kind of thing; what would be next?
matryoshka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loneliness can't be addressed easily via social networks as you are not really authentic self when you are on them. When you are on Facebook, you want to project a positive image of yourself so you can get more Likes as a 'way to go'. On LinkedIn it is professional you and you have to be careful how you brand yourself there to be viewed by potential employers or customers. Twitter is not expansive enough to form meaningful connections though it can be done over time with a small group of people. The best way is still connecting in person seeing the person's face and body language. 'Find better people' is the advice to live by.
anaphor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Louis C.K. had some good points on this: http://youtu.be/5HbYScltf1c
weland 2 days ago 2 replies      
This advice is far better than it sounds:

> Find better people, he replied.

I began feeling very much like the author describes in my late high school years. I was nothing like the unpopular guy stereotype though. Yes, between my passion for programming and my introversion I was not exactly a lollypop, but I wasn't the nerd that everyone hated. I was a drummer trying to start a band, occasionally rebellious towards the teachers, and while I wasn't quite the most popular person in the school, my girlfriend was. I went out regularly and thought I had a lot of friends.

Truth is, though, I didn't. I felt increasingly lonely and trapped and misunderstood. My passion for programming was regularly getting at odds with my social life and I felt stigmatized for not giving my friends the attention they needed. Instead of talking to them, I gradually moved my coding sprints later and later in the night which, coupled with some problems I had with my parents, destroyed my sleep schedule (which has actually been messed up ever since).

I gradually shut every door I could shut, in everyone's face, until the loneliness I felt was matched by the lack of human contact; my social life became bleak, my love life pretty much ended as I gave up fighting for a five-year relationship that I was, by then, considering hopeless, and got stuck in a complicated relationship with someone who was about as mentally disturbed as I was (and, to some degree, still am).

Professionally, things weren't bad, but intellectually, I thought they were. Initial good results made me hopeful towards a career in academia, which contributed even more to my reclusiveness, as I spent most of the time I didn't spend on my undergrad courses doing hopelessly narrow-topic research. However, I felt my mind degrading every day, perpetually trailing what I could have achieved if I'd have been, you know, like every normal person. Having your line of thought interrupted by suicide plans every couple of hours is not exactly conducive to steady intellectual improvement. About five years into this, I was battling depression first-hand, and my aversion to therapy meant I avoided seeking help like the plague. I started smoking and began drinking more and more heavily every day. I gave up heavy drinking, but I'm still stuck with the nasty pipe smoking as an occasional relief. I still went out a lot, but almost always alone, to the extent that the owner of the bar I became a regular client of got a small table in a corner, with a single chair, only for me.

"Better people" doesn't sound cliche to me now. Most of my then-friends haven't spoken to me in a long, long time now, but some of them stayed, even as I was shutting doors in their faces. Some of them felt powerless to help me and kept a polite distance from me, and I was hearing from them only on anniversaries or the occasional gathering when I felt strong enough to bear human presence. But they never got away, and stuck by, even though they did all the friendship work by themselves. I never asked them out, rarely asked how they felt and never called them to see how they were doing (so yeah, in retrospect I was an asshole!); but somehow, every few months, I'd still see them for a drink. I still got invited to New Year's Eve parties and, when things were going really rough, someone who I hadn't seen in months popped up with a good word.

My love for programming also brought me close to good people. Between my low self-esteem and my disdain for flipped meritocracy, I was sure I could never get a job (low self-esteem) in a large, well-established company, and I was sure I'd end up hating it even if I somehow managed to trick them into hiring me. I got my first real job in a startup; my programming and electronics skills were, apparently, good enough for my colleagues to respect me professionally, and their kindness and good-temper also meant we ended up getting along as friends -- to the extent that, a long time after the company got disbanded and we no longer work together, we still go out for drinks.

I don't think I will ever come back to my pre-depression self. I always feel it lurking in the back of my head, like a shadow that dangles over me, and it tainted so many things that I no longer see the world like I saw it before. On the other hand, I'm pretty much a functioning individual now. Some things are still hard for me, like going to large parties with people I don't know, but I can do it without breaking down when I get home and spending the rest of the week hugging the pillow and crying myself to sleep on and off. A lot of things helped me here; getting back to my old hobbies again, getting a job I loved, but none of these were as incredibly important as being surrounded by honest friends was.

What's most incredible is that many of these guys didn't even think they did anything grand. They were genuinely surprised when I told them how much they helped me. Many of them felt somewhere along the lines of "I actually felt bad for calling you so rarely and thought you didn't want to hear too much from me because I'd been kind of an asshole". To "normal" people, it probably feels this way, but to someone whose phone rings for weeks at a time only because of SMS spam and payment reminders from the operator, an SMS with "so what's up dude?" is incredibly important.

rk17 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a very interesting and well-documented article. Everything is actually summarized in the 4 minute video half-way through the article, if you're short on time. Basically our need for self-actualization and the lens that our social platforms offer (idealized)is killing our social experience, by emphasizing quantity (connections and likes) over quality (content)and an easy excuse not to admit you're lonely: but I have x-amount of friends on...

Nice post :D

rakeshsharmak 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful discussion thread. Keep it coming!
thenerdfiles 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm quite lonely day in and out. My manners and Way are generally nonconformist/self-deprecating.

Thank goodness for childhood schizophrenia, or else I'd have not one singleton of a friend.

Oh, and thanks Zermelo-Fraenkel Set Theory too, I guess..

       cached 18 February 2014 03:11:01 GMT