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Facebook Buying WhatsApp for $16B in Cash and Stock Plus $3B in RSUs techcrunch.com
924 points by vassvdm  18 hours ago   737 comments top 150
nwh 17 hours ago 38 replies      

    400,000,000 active users [0]    16,000,000,000 USD    ----    $40 per user
That's an incredible cost. We can assume Facebook is paying for the userbase, the app itself and it's infrastructure would basically run itself. It's less appealing when you realise that there's probably a miniscule fraction of WhatsApp users that don't have a Facebook account.

> WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee

Now it makes even less sense.

[0]: http://blog.whatsapp.com/index.php/2013/12/400-million-stori...

staunch 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Damn, Zuck is far more paranoid than I thought. He's going to have to come up with a better strategy than buying every company that presents a potential existential threat though. Especially at these prices!

I actually think it wasn't such a bad idea to buy Instagram. He paid 1% for something that really could have killed him. But paying $16 billion here is pretty much surrender as far as I'm concerned.

tomblomfield 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Sequoia just landed a 5x return on their fund with this one deal.

At a rough guess, they put in $8m for 15% of the company in 2011, valuing it at around $53m.

A $16B sale is a 300x increase in value, so Sequoia's stake is worth $2.4bn. Their standard fund size is around $500m.


primitivesuave 17 hours ago 5 replies      
My uncle in India runs a construction company, and literally every single aspect of company communication is done over WhatsApp. Each construction site has to constantly post pictures on WhatsApp, and basically all management and payroll decisions are made through WhatsApp discussions. Apparently this is not an uncommon practice, as businesses that were once administered by pen and paper are now using WhatsApp to improve efficiency and reach new customers.
josh2600 17 hours ago 9 replies      
For everyone saying this is a waste of money, consider the commentary around Instagram at $1B. Basically the world said that this was a horrible acquisition at the time, but in retrospect, buying Instagram was quite cheap. Buying your closest competitor for less than 15% of your market cap is usually a good idea.

Fast forward to today. What'sapp is the dominant messaging application across the world. Carriers hate it but they can't do anything to stop it. Facebook hates it and no matter how much they improve facebook messenger, they keep falling behind.

This represents a massive existential threat to Facebook's business: engagement. To kill their closest competitor for, again, less than 15% of the company, is a rational decision.

Since Viber and What'sapp have both exited the market, I think it's time for someone to build a new messaging app. There's a lot of room in a once incredibly crowded space.

notlisted 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I know What's Up. Facebook just bought the world's largest (and unlisted) mobile phone number directory:

WhatsApp's convenient 'matching by phone number' feature uploads of all of your phone contacts to their servers. Though positioned as one of the good guys, they too had their price.

With this acquisition, FB bought the ultimate data set of users and leads, and with it secured access to the last remnants of your privacy.

Your fake name/profile on FB will no longer protect you. Your friend's contact list spilled the beans months ago...

Uninstalling WhatsApp now, though I realize that after several lovely years might just be too late already.

Cat, bag, out of. Such wow. Much sad.

bedhead 17 hours ago 3 replies      
When these bubbles really get crazy, you start questioning your sanity and wondering whether maybe you're just plain wrong. You actually start wondering if the valuations are justified after all, whether it be a house, stock certificate of a tech company, the mineral rights to some acres in the Haynesville shale, or some land on the Vegas Strip. My head hurts.
argumentum 15 hours ago 1 reply      
To everyone calling this symptomatic of a "bubble", remember that WhatsApp was not hyped like SnapChat or Instagram. It wasn't associated with "sexting" or plugged by Celebrities. A few years ago, my cousin arrived from India to start undergrad here .. when picking out her new smartphone, here was only one requirement: it had to run WhatsApp. She didn't care whether it was an iPhone, android or blackberry (back when bb's were a thing). She didn't care about the camera or processor speed. Her decision was based on a measly little app that I'd never heard of. WhatsApp just made something people wanted, badly.

It's even profitable, for crying out loud.

Whether this is a good decision and price for Facebook is to be determined. Many thought Google overpaid for Youtube and FB overpaid for Instagram, and look how those turned out. In addition Zuckerberg likely thought that much like losing image sharing, losing messaging would pose an existential threat to Facebook.

Zuck's strategic track record has been stellar, all the way back to the beginnings of Facebook. The one "mistake" he admitted to (HTML5 vs native) was corrected promptly and thoroughly. I'm willing to bet he's got a much better handle on these things than given credit for. I'm long on FB and buying on any dips.

huskyr 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Facebook suddenly acquired the world's (if we exclude the US and China) most popular messaging service. I communicate with this app with all my friends, and share stuff that i have no intention of ever putting on Facebook. Everything that once seemed 'private' is now in the hands of a website that forces it users to share as much as possible with marketeers and advertising companies. It's gonna be one tough mission for FB to convince WhatsApp users they're not gonna be playing around with their data.

If there's one moment to launch an email-like distributed protocol and app for instant messaging (and somehow convince all my friends to use it), i guess it's now.

antirez 7 hours ago 3 replies      
If you have teenager offsprings like me (I've a 13 years old son) you can understand that better maybe. I heard the sentence "We don't need Facebook since there is Whatsapp" an endless number of times from him and his friends. From my point of view at first this didn't made a lot of sense, I considered Whatsapp a no-cost SMS replacement. The reality is that Groups are a killer feature: my son's school class has a group where they share what are the homework for tomorrow, or just send messages that are much alike what you would write on Facebook as status messages. Then I realized that I also created a group for my friends, like, in one group there is me, my wife, and one couple of friends of us where we plan what to do together. In another group there is our family where we share pictures of my daughter. We are using Whatsapp like Facebook as well... Under this point of view this move makes a lot more sense, I believe Whatsapp is eating Facebook traffic.
superuser2 9 hours ago 2 replies      
A lot of people on HN talk about how Facebook is pointless and on its way out. And it's true, Facebook probably doesn't make a lot of sense to people who are steeped in an email culture.

Young adults are not. Facebook is far and away the dominant messaging platform. Email in high school was for spam, communicating with teachers, and passing attachments ONLY. Short, synchorous messages that you didn't mind typing with your thumbs would go via SMS, but more verbose synchronous conversations and email-like async conversations were invariably Facebook Messenger.

I can find anyone from my real life that I'm likely to want to talk to on Facebook just by knowing their real name and identifying their face in search results. It's entirely frictionless - no exchanging identifiers or mucking around with pseudonyms. And I can have a conversation synchronously or asynchronously, transitioning seamlessly between devices and modes of communication, with conversation history, read receipts, and delivery confirmation always available.

Messaging is a more important part of Facebook than I think much of HN realizes. It makes sense that Facebook would neutralize WhatsApp's threat to its hold on messaging.

falsestprophet 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Some interesting numbers:

WhatsApp raised only $8 million (from Sequoia in 2011 http://www.crunchbase.com/company/whatsapp).

19B sale price is about 10% of Facebook's 173B valuation.

At 400 million, WhatsApp has more users than, the world's third most populous country, the United States has residents.

simplekoala 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like Brian Acton, Whatsapp's founder was turned down by Facebook in 2009. What a comeback! This must be even sweeter!


pisarzp 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is just ridiculous. As per their latest financial statement, $16B is $B more then they have in the bank. Part of that is stock, but still...

On top of that, it's 8 times more then their 2013 net income!

People say it's defensive play, but to me it looks like overly aggressive play with huge risk and very little potential. Facebook already has huge market share with their messaging platform, and they really don't need this that badly.

gamegoblin 17 hours ago 6 replies      
That is a LOT of money.

That being said, I use WhatsApp every day to chat with my friends around the world and it's really excellent. I know it's used a lot in other parts of the world even more, so I doubt this purchase is focused on US markets. It seems that every one of my Arab friends uses WhatsApp to talk to their families back home (and they use it at home, too). I don't know about other regions.

jackgavigan 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Social networking is all about network effects. The biggest threat to Facebook's position at the top of the pile is that another social network will come along, start to gain traction (most likely initially with users that aren't current Facebook users - e.g. early teens) until it reaches a tipping point where current Facebook users start migrating to the new social network because that's where the people they want to interact with are hanging out.

Once that tipping point is reached, the migration is likely to happen rapidly and irreversibly. By acquiring companies like Instagram and Whatsapp, Facebook is not only preventing them from usurping its social networking crown but bolstering its own position against future emerging competitors.

$19bn might sound like a lot but it's cheap when you consider that the risk of not buying Whatsapp is that it eventually obliterates Facebook in the same way that Facebook obliterated Myspace and the original Bebo.

billyjobob 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Maybe I'm not down with the kids, but I'm not understanding what any of these message apps offer over plain old fashioned email. It alerts me on my phone, it works on my computer, it sends to groups, everyone already has it, it sends photos, it stores a history of all my past communications in one place accessible from anywhere. It's not completely secure but at least you don't have to trust any foreign corporation (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc) with your private messages and can run your own server if you like.

Also what if Facebook lock your account because they don't like your name, or WhatsApp go bust and shut down in a few years time? Then you've lost everything, because it was locked into their proprietary little system. I don't understand how anyone would chose one of these as their primary method of communication.

Especially as they are all newcomers, and email was well established as what the world used to communicate before they arrived. No-one buys a phone and then decides 'Hmm shall I install email or WhatsApp'; no, you buy a phone, you set-up the email account that you've already had for 20 years, and then after that you maybe decide to install another app. This app offers nothing over email, yet you and all your friends abandon email and use the new app instead? That is some powerful marketing they must have done.

pbreit 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I usually don't poo-poo acquisitions but this one surprises me for a) the valuation (Facebook really couldn't convince them to exit for 5 or 10 billion?) and b) Facebook really needs to demonstrate that it can get into these markets itself.

With all the supposed ingenuity, developer talent, money and existing users, why can't Facebook build anything besides a news feed?

antr 17 hours ago 4 replies      
I used WhatsApp to stay away from FB's chat app. Telegram is picking up popularity within my circles... I'll default to that
NDizzle 17 hours ago 6 replies      
$16B for something I've never even heard of. I feel like I'm living under a pile of rocks.
dhoulb 17 hours ago 5 replies      
I just can't get my head around that valuation. For something that's basically a feature, when they already have that functionality baked in, built out to a similar scale?

It's not an acquisition for talent, or technology, so what is it? It's an acquisition for investors probably. To argue back against the people who say the kids are leaving FB. Well guess what, we BOUGHT the thing the kids are using. And it's 'mobile first'.

They can probably continue to buy the 'cool app of the week' for the rest of their existence. Probably not at THIS scale, but certainly the $1-2b range. The rest of their user base is pretty solid. As long as they can show their advertisers that they're appealing to young people too, it's probably a strong plan.

They just really screwed up on messaging, and let these guys grow too big before deciding or being in a position to buy them. Doubt they'll let it happen again! They'll have their eyes open and will snap up ANY new apps that show strong user growth in younger markets.

Tech people have a major bee in their bonnet about Facebook. We kinda assume the kids are flocking away for the same reason we are: privacy. But it's not. Kids just get bored easily so they like to try new things. Young people aren't 'leaving' Facebook, they're just using other stuff alongside it. Facebook just has to provide one or two interesting buzzy distraction apps to last until the kids turn into adults, get jobs, and use Facebook exclusively again because it's where everyone is, and they don't have time for 15 separate apps any more.

tomkin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
stfu 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Love whatsapp, hate Facebook. As soon as they are trying to integrate whatsapp with Facebook I'm deleting that thing.
flyinglizard 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Clearly this is an anti competitive move. Both functionality and users overlap with FB's own products.

So, for how long can FB pay billions a year to keep competition out of the market, when the barriers to entry are so low (as Snapchat and Instagram both demonstrated)?

Karunamon 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Welp. There's another app that I won't be accepting any updates for from now on...
shortsightedsid 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This highlights another of Yahoo's screwups, IMHO. Whatsapp is built by 2 ex-Yahoo employees. Guess what everyone used in the late 90's for messaging? Yahoo Messenger. That's right - I used Y! Messenger all the time to keep in touch with friends before Social Networking was the norm and I'm pretty sure everyone else did too.

There is one more company that had the lead in messaging and screwed up - Blackberry. They released their app across platforms, 5 years too late. Had they hit the iPhone/Android apps stores 5 years back, they would have been in a better place than Whatsapp. The funny thing is that their co-founder even wanted to do that and not go after BB10 but he got pushed out.

I remember reading that whatsapp's servers basically run using Erlang. Erlang scales massively, and is a beautiful language for messages/telecom etc.. Hopefully, this will trigger some more interest in Erlang.

minimaxir 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Suddenly Snapchat at $3B doesn't seem so ridiculous.
downandout 2 hours ago 0 replies      
$3 billion in employee RSUs/~50 employees=~$60 million each. There are some very happy WhatsApp engineers today.
k-mcgrady 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Even though at the time it seemed ridiculous I could understand paying $1bn for Instagram. Photos is Facebook's most used product and Instagram was stealing users photos on mobile.

$16bn for WhatsApp I just can't understand. Facebook has a brilliant messaging app. Lots of people use it - even people who use WhatsApp continue to use Facebook Messenger.

weixiyen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a crazy amount to pay, but in mobile software only 2 things really matter - Photos and Messaging. These are the only 2 things that are universal to every single person on this planet who owns a mobile device and if you want to be #1 overall in the mobile space, you need to win in these 2 things.

If this guarantees FB winning the messaging war, then it's worth it. I still think that Facebook needs to buy SnapChat, Line and WeChat to close the deal and fulfill their dream of connecting the world.

MichaelTieso 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I prefer Voxer. The requirement of having a phone number on WhatsApp doesn't work for me. I'm constantly traveling and and using different SIM cards in different countries. I'd rather have a single sign-on that doesn't require having to use any phone number.
samolang 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems insane. I love WhatsApp, but I recently switched to Google Hangouts because it also supports SMS and I don't really miss it. I don't understand how it can be worth this much when Google has already released a direct competitor to its product that is (and likely always will be) free.
shin_lao 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Mark Zuckerberg is most certainly very intelligent and I'm pretty certain his board is highly capable.

If they are ready to pay $ 16B for WhatsApp it means that it's worth, for them, $ 16B.

For me the take away is that Facebook struggles to grow in "underdeveloped" countries and will pay whatever it takes to make sure these zones are easy to conquer.

Those markets are the growth of tomorrow and Facebook is certainly plateauing at home.

In the long run, I think Facebook will become some sort of shell company for "anything social".

koevet 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The WhatsApp platform is based on Erlang. I really hope that putting the application under the spotlight will also benefit Erlang and its adoption.
x0054 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Could someone explain to me why WhatsApp is more popular then say Skype or any of the numerous competitors. I looked at it for the first time today. I find the design of the app to be a bit poor, at least on iOS6. Overall it's a good app that functions well, from what I can see. But so does Skype, for instance. Also, the lack of a PC/MAC client is kind of a letdown.

I know it's silly to argue with facts, clearly people really like this app. But could someone explain to me why? I mean, how is it better than Fring, or Skype, or Viber? Or is it just luck? I am curious because if they did something right, I would love know what it was, so I can do it too :)

curiousDog 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In comparison, the Airbus A380 cost $11bn to develop. Is this really wise capital allocation by the street? Imagine what valuable technology could be built with this money. I for one, sold my stock in facebook just now.
continuations 17 hours ago 3 replies      
How did WhatsApp gain traction? Presumably most of their users already use facebook, which offers the same messaging functionality as WhatsApp.

So why do people use WhatsApp instead of Facebook for messaging?

nkuttler 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Good for them!

Now on to uninstalling it :-(

hasenj 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks this is beyond crazy?

Youtube was acquired for less than $2B (and not even in cash!)

tomkarlo 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that FB chose to pay $12BN in stock for this tells you something about what they think of their current valuation.
dba7dba 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Found tumblr posts from sequoia on why Whatapp is great. http://sequoiacapital.tumblr.com/post/77211282835/four-numbe...

This is confusing for me though.

1. WhatsApp prides on:No adsNo gamesNo gimmicks

And WhatsApp doesn't collect personal data.

Facebook is OPPOSITE of those attributes of WhatsApp.

zt 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Of all the companies founded since 2000, these are the following companies that are worth more than $10B: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WorkDay, and ... WhatsApp.
adamt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is Sequoia's blog post. It was enough to make me slightly overcome my complete shock at the valuation ... http://sequoiacapital.tumblr.com/post/77211282835/four-numbe...
pdknsk 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's madness. Are the people involved aware that 16B is a number with 11 digits? It's a serious question.
blazespin 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The simple issue is that Facebook is the one that is overvalued, not WhatsApp. I'm sure it was mostly paid for in stock.

If you don't think Facebook is overvalued, that's fine, but you can't complain about WhatsApp then.

Also, I doubt this reduced Mark's control of Facebook. Just his common share equity. He still has the special class of voting shares that I'm sure all he really cares about.

tuxguy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A well-written article which traces the lives of Jan Koum & Brian Acton in some detail


Koum : I want to do one thing, and do it well.

higherpurpose 17 hours ago 9 replies      
Such a waste. Most Whatsapp users already use Facebook in parallel. Facebook will never see a ROI on this acquisition. Not even close.
cangencer 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see that they use Erlang. http://www.erlang-factory.com/conference/SFBay2012/speakers/...

I wonder if this is still valid?

yawz 17 hours ago 1 reply      
$40/user - $345m/employee

Truly amazing! If you remember the days when JBoss was acquired by Red Hat, this is the same "value" as one JBoss per Whatsapp employee. Incredible!

dredmorbius 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting to note that WhatsApp had started circulating some overly broad and ill-formed "DMCA takedown" notices a few days back: https://github.com/github/dmca/blob/master/2014-02-12-WhatsA...

By this email, please accept this formal notice and takedown request for the following content on the GitHub site. I am starting with these requests to ensure you will take action on our request. We will have follow-on requests, as the list of infringing content below is not exhaustive.


The following URLs use of the WhatsApp name and logo, use of other WhatsApp content, unauthorized use of WhatsApp APIs, software, and/or services, and provision of software and services related to WhatsApp infringes on WhatsApp's copyrights and trademarks, including those related to WhatsApp's name and logo. WhatsApp's trademarks are registered in the United States and countries throughout the world.

Note that:

Trademarks aren't subject to the DMCA.

APIs aren't copyrightable.

TOU violations aren't subject to the DMCA.

Given that the letter isn't clearly formatted as a DMCA takedown (though it uses some sample language) the effect is ... curious.

danhopwood 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As I tweeted this morning: https://twitter.com/dan_hopwood/status/436411010212454400

WhatsApp is to messaging what PayPal is to payments. Right product, right time. Slow design iteration & little innovation over time. But as we've seen, it hasn't mattered. Stripe, Line, WeChatApp know all too well that moving off such established players is tough.. but not impossible.

ulfw 16 hours ago 1 reply      
$19,000,000,000. Just making clear. 19 Thousand Million Dollars. 19 Billion. For a mobile app.
shmerl 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope they'll convert this abomination into a proper XMPP service. On the other hand Facebook doesn't federate with others anyway, so it's one selfish beast buying another.
robot 7 hours ago 1 reply      
wslh 17 hours ago 0 replies      
How this negotiation evolves until the point of reaching this sum?

Is it like bargaining in the suoq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souq) ?

sschueller 17 hours ago 1 reply      
So, now can we get someone to make an open source, distributed, and NSA secure chat client?
ThomPete 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I am speechless....

Even if I apply all my knowledge about valuation, product market fit, historical knowledge and add a glass is half full attitude to this acquisition I can't fathom that evaluation.

Then I think about instagram selling for "only" 1B and it kind of make sense. Kind of...

bagels 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I read all the comments, the whole time thinking about how crazy this number is.

I read why people use it, because it is cheaper (free?) than the ridiculous pricing of SMS.

So, I looked up the revenues generated by SMS, and it is estimated to be, according to a very cursory search:

150 Billion USD per year

This is the number that Facebook is using to compare their offer against. It is not crazy if they can capture even a few percent of that money.

jimzvz 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Now facebook will access to my contact list :( It is really difficult to remove Whatsapp as it the primary communication tool for most of my network. Really sad news.
hoi 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Makes perfect sense if you put it into the context of what is happening to other messaging apps. Wrote this a few days ago before Viber and now this acquisition.http://www.hoista.net/post/76404923258/the-rise-of-trojan-ho...
ezrameanshelp 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Zuckerberg just announced via Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10101272463589561?stream...
goatslacker 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Just to put numbers into perspective:

NASA's 2014 budget is 17.7b

riveralabs 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's official. Facebook is the new Yahoo. Buying a lot of companies at ridiculously extreme premiums.
yeukhon 17 hours ago 3 replies      
16B? That's a B, people. While there are a lot of whatsapp users (and people have to pay to use it), wow, that's still a lot of money! How can they justify revenue that way? How can any company ever consider such acquisition? I don't even think Google can even make 16B like this.

See this discussion: http://www.quora.com/WhatsApp-Messenger/How-much-revenue-is-...

$20M net revenue, at most, right? With future expansion and side commercial services, I make $1B per year, fine. But that's after tax. So WhatsApp must make A LOT more than $1B. I really don't see anything else. But that's only when WhatsApp can continue to grow and actually gain that much of commercial income. Someone who have dealt with acquisition tells me how 16B is the right number. I would pay $5B just because WhatsApp is well-established.

blackaspen 17 hours ago 1 reply      

I know Whatsapp is a big deal -- when I was in HKG a few weeks back every advertisement was Phone Number and Whatsapp number (We're talking on-bench advertising) and on TV as well.Still, crazy.

andrewfelix 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Serious question: What is so compelling about whatsapp? There are so many IM protocols out there.
CmonDev 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it even real money that those companies are exchanging? I can't believe it's same stuff I use to buy bread.
calcsam 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This deal isn't so that Facebook can sell ads. This deal is so that Facebook can protect its flank and simultaneously assault Google.
wllchng 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is definitely a defensive move against Tencent, who is using Wechat as their weapon for global penetration. Tencent must be seen as a threat, given their ability to monetize their userbase drastically better than Facebook or Twitter. There are rumors that Tencent is also a covert investor in Snapchat as well.

GGV Partner and China VC Hans Tung makes the argument that Tencent's market cap will overtake Facebook's in 3-5 years.http://www.bloomberg.com/video/could-chinese-competition-bea...

batuhanicoz 17 hours ago 1 reply      
From the press release[0]:

  "... and WhatsApps core messaging product and Facebooks existing   Messenger app will continue to operate as standalone applications."
Why is that, I wonder. I was really excited when I heard the news since WhatsApp is the most used app and Facebook Messenger is the second, they becoming one would have been nice.

And chatting my friends on WhatsApp using Facebook Messenger [on the web] would be a killer feature for me, I feel the need for a web interface/desktop app every time I receive a message on WhatsApp and my phone is away.

[0] http://newsroom.fb.com/News/805/Facebook-to-Acquire-WhatsApp

RandallBrown 16 hours ago 3 replies      
What does WhatsApp offer that regular old text messages don't?

Is it just a price thing?

I can group chat, send images, and send video with everyone, even people with dumbphones just fine using text messages (MMS).

AznHisoka 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Can someone enlighten me why WhatsApp is popular, and <INSERT ANY MOBILE CHAT/IM APP> is not? Why not Google Talk? Why not AIM?
mudil 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Disney is valued at $103B. That includes ESPN, parks, cruises, Star wars, movies, merchandise, etc etc etc. So how's What's app is 1/5th of it?
locusm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
They recently did 54B messages in a 24 hr periodhttps://twitter.com/WhatsApp/status/420373902980689920
jokoon 7 hours ago 1 reply      
what makes whatsapp so attractive already ?

I don't understand how it really avoid the SMS cost... I mean you can't have a data plan across the entire world...

paulrademacher 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I think I will nominate myself to be the single person on Hacker News, who after an announcement of a huge mega-acquisition, will skip all the high-minded analysis and discussion of business models and ROI, and simply say:

Wow, I wish I had a $19B acquisition -- I'm jealous :-)

kenshiro_o 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone put in numbers what the benefit is for FBK in paying so much for whatsapp? I just don't understand how a messaging company can be "worth" so much, even after extrapolating the expansion in user base.

Don't get me wrong - WhatsApp is a great product and very easy to use on top of that (using phone number as id is a great idea to onboard users in a very intuitive way). But I fail to see where this valuation is coming from.

napoleond 17 hours ago 2 replies      
How many active users does WhatsApp have? I'm trying to put this in perspective with the Instagram purchase and the Snapchat offer... finding it very difficult to understand the math behind this acquisition, although it is obviously linked to the recent plays with Messenger.
mknits 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook is now like American Kingfisher! Users from India will understand.
reubenswartz 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Like many people, I found the price staggering. However, given that WhatsApp is growing and may pass FB in active users in the next 2-3 years AND WA has a great monetization strategy... It's not crazy to think that in a few years 1B people would be paying $1 per year. Want to double revenues? How 'bout $2/year. $5? $20 in US and other first world markets, $2 in developing countries? Why not? In addition to the defensive move, this is about disrupting a multi hundred billion dollar wireless industry. I wouldn't have had the guts to do it, but I don't think Zuck is stupid.
fidotron 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The question here is where do FB see the value? Is it a pure defensive play about messaging or are they after the social graph you could extract (along with a lot of other juicy data) from the WhatsApp DB?
mmcclellan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For perspective, this is about Sony's market cap. LinkedIn's market cap is ~$24B and Twitter ~$30B.
meric 17 hours ago 2 replies      
They might as well go ahead and buy WeChat as well.
adventured 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This acquisition is not YouTube or Instagram. This is a peak of the bubble purchase, that will be massively marked down for accounting purposes a few years from now.

Smart to buy them? Sure. For $19 billion? Nope.

rokhayakebe 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Instead of stating the obvious, or hating, and congratulating, it would be nice to hear your thoughts on the value of this deal, what FB will gain, where do you see the IM space heading, could this be a Youtube like acquisition, etc...
jebblue 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What is WhatsApp? I saw the name somewhere before, maybe on HN, but who are they that they can command a price in the billions? Isn't it a messaging app? Why isn't Pidgin worth $16 Billion?
pcocko 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a bubble. I don't beleive it can sustained over time. So simple apps sold for huge quantity of money
dodyg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest question is off course when they will finally migrate from their Erlang backend to JavaScript.
TomGullen 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If I was a FB holder think I'd rather take a 10% dividend:

$19000000000 (purchase price)/2547000000 (number of shares) = ~$7.50 per share

booruguru 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook is barely 10 years old and they're already the new Microsoft...maintaining dominance by acquiring every major competitor that poses a threat. And I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing.
matthewhelm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"$4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares"
kayoone 17 hours ago 0 replies      
they dont buy the users or the app or the team. What they buy is massive mobile usage. Lately i always thought that Whatsapp was becoming the next facebook as event planning, foto sharing and of course messaging transitioned from fb to whatsapp. Looks like fb thinks the same, they feared whatsapp.
pyrrhotech 16 hours ago 0 replies      
crazy to think WhatsApp is worth almost as much as Netflix or Tsla. I think they overpaid. Will short the stock at open tomorrow. I was long $25 to $55, but this kind of recklessness with a young management team is destroying shareholder value.
matan_a 17 hours ago 0 replies      
$3B in RSUs for employees. Assume 50 employees and equal share - that's $60M each. Wow.
rottyguy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
A few thoughts..

I'm sure like many, I'm blown away at that price tag consider Motorola went for 12B and the recent TWC/Comcast is valued at 45B with both having hard assets. But after some reflections, I can see some positives that grounds my disbeliefs a bit.

1) As someone has already calculated $40/user is really not that bad (though how many overlap with fb already?)

2) You have trusted groups with WA, something you don't really have with FB (facilities are there but I doubt many use it).

3) With trusted groups, you tend to be a bit more open about your dialog so fb could gleen yet more, arguably better, information about you.

The other question in my mind are what other features are of value to WA? Video (facetime-esq) seems like a no brainer...

wudf 17 hours ago 2 replies      
At least we'll still have viber
berzniz 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I wish they didn't sell. Love the product, FB will ruin it.
3apo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Relevant: Why we don't sell ads : Whatsapp (2012)http://blog.whatsapp.com/index.php/2012/06/why-we-dont-sell-...
kolev 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Desperation shadows reason. I personally think Kik was a better buy.
idleworx 17 hours ago 0 replies      
And goodbye WhatsApp. It was time to move on anyway.
prosperva 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This was sorely done to retain users but I predict users are going to leave both services and join Viber. Will Facebook also buy Viber?
tulga 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook going to mobile operator business. They have very good relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft has mobile platform and Nokia and Skype. I think FB + MS will create something to change whole telecommunication platform. Many mobile operator companies afraid that.
steven2012 17 hours ago 1 reply      
In one fell swoop, Snapchat went from fools to geniuses. Unbelievable.
adamio 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Spend $19billion here in the hopes of segmenting the market with more startups hoping to cash in?
ulfw 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Blackberry should have sold BBM to Facebook and shut it's doors. Their whole market cap is about a quarter of that.
tzury 17 hours ago 3 replies      
This will be the largest Israeli Startup Exit of all times I think.
siliconbeach 17 hours ago 0 replies      
http://d.pr/i/2LPx Mark's post about it.
techaddict009 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Google placed bid of 1 billion $ and mark just multiplied it with 16 ! lol!!
yoodenvranx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can somebody explain me who gets this money and how it is distributed to the owners?
happyscrappy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe part of it is for the data on WhatsApp users.

* "In the event that WhatsApp is acquired by or merged with a third party entity, we reserve the right to transfer or assign the information we have collected from our users as part of such merger, acquisition, sale, or other change of control." [they go on to say that they may not be able to control use of information in cases which include "reorganization"]http://www.whatsapp.com/legal/

Still seems ridiculously expensive.

bobowzki 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the whatsapp people!!
awkwit 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It'll be interesting to see if we still have as many Whatsapp-type apps in future. It seems like there's already quite a few... WhatsApp... WeChat... Line... Kakaotalk...Viber...
peteridah 17 hours ago 0 replies      
WhatsApp has become the defacto medium of communication with my friends and family in Africa, emerging way ahead of phone numbers, sms, facebook et al. I am not thrilled by the service, but if you want to stay in the loop, you have to join the bandwagon.
sirji 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatsapp was popular just because of its simplicity. Are this people going to screw whatsapp? Hope they don't
vladgur 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, thats an incredible return on a $8m sequoia investment


dannyrosen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's about the user's contact graphs and making the connections stronger. They're buying user's phone books.
ksoti 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Stupid question but will "existing" whatsapp users have to use their/create a new facebook account to use whatsapp starting in a few months?
techaddict009 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like Mark Zuckerberg is turning crazy day by day!!
31reasons 16 hours ago 0 replies      
New business model: Become a thread to Facebook.
vassvdm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fascinating. To think I was trying to convince people that MySMS was better than Whatsapp...
samsquire 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Does anyone know any alternatives (with group chat)?
idleworx 17 hours ago 0 replies      
One can only wonder how many services or products that provide true value and innovation around the world could have been created with that much money instead...
vmavalankar 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You know we all know and feel the same: http://vmavalankar.svbtle.com/why-facebook-bought-whatsapp
return0 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Is that a record price or something?
KaoruAoiShiho 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a much better buy than snapchat I think. But why is FB once again the only one taking social seriously? Hello Google what are you doing...
tool 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Great, the only way I was able to stay in contact with people without using facebook is gone. Cancer.
hatred 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Today , I feel I am really bad at maths counting return percentages. Sigh $8m -> $16b.
kdot 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook just purchased 400,000,000 phone numbers.
almosnow 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Damn, from any viewpoint you want to see it, just damn.
pearjuice 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one upset with this? I don't use Facebook - haven't and never will - because I hate how I and all my data will become their product on registration. Sure, Whatsapp has its quirks being proprietary and all, but now, I am basically doomed. Whatsapp says they will stick to their core and stay independent, but I have 16 billion reasons to believe otherwise. The sad part is that due to Whatsapp, I can't escape my doom because EVERYONE I contact daily uses Whatsapp. I would basically kill myself socially if I were to delete Whatsapp. I really, really hope Whatsapp stays Whatsapp but knowing Facebook we are fked either way.
pinkskip 15 hours ago 0 replies      
OMG. Next step Facebook messenger and whatsapp are merged?
adventured 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else think the "users" obsession smells an awful lot like the "eyeballs" obsession?

Oh but these companies have revenue? WhatsApp and Snapchat have no meaningful revenue in comparison to their valuations. And the companies with revenue, are being valued at insane multiples (infinity for Twitter, 85 to 100 times for Facebook, 800 or so times for LinkedIn).

te0006 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is just sick. Does at least some tax apply to such transactions in the US?

Or think what the Gates Founation woul dbe able to do with just, say, a quarter of this money.

notastartup 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this one will be the turning point for Facebook, remember that M & A in the corporate world have history of senseless and expensive moves that end up bankrupting the company who buy it, $40 per user is an extremely risky bet when Facebook themselves can't even monetize it's own userbase. This appears to be a road to become as big as possible so that you can't possibly appear to fail when faced with companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo who are after profitability aligned with their own products.
throwaway5752 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Are you fucking kidding me?
dylanjha 17 hours ago 0 replies      
How much revenue does WhatsApp have?
domydeal 17 hours ago 0 replies      
In order to keep up FB's stock valuation the need to show continued growth which slowing at a vary rapid rate. WhatsApp is adding 1 million new users per day. That's what zuck bought. And the ROI? Will be the market applauding FBs growth and driving the stock price to $100.
vdhus 13 hours ago 0 replies      
does this mean Viber should feel ripped off at $900m?
hrish2006 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This sucks.
mrwnmonm 14 hours ago 1 reply      
why should we care about this more than other things in our lifes?
KevinAtHome 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Strange no one is mentioning threema, getting popular in germany.
gailees 17 hours ago 0 replies      
gailees 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Email is dead.
3D GIFs Created with a Simple Visual Effect mymodernmet.com
518 points by bpierre  3 days ago   105 comments top 26
wikiburner 3 days 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 3 days 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.
MarcScott 3 days 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
PeterisP 3 days 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.
rurounijones 3 days 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).

SpeakMouthWords 3 days 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 3 days ago 2 replies      

Other idea, but gives similar 3d effects

tlarkworthy 3 days ago 1 reply      
well that effect is cognitively bookmarked for the next hackathon. Presumably it will work in games if used sparingly.
pareshverma91 3 days ago 1 reply      
Showing the same gifs without those white solid lines for comparison would have been better. Anyways cool stuff :).
shmerl 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this would work without the bars, by just having the object pop out from the boundary box.
dredmorbius 3 days 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.

CodeWithCoffee 3 days 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.
vor_ 3 days 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.
samweinberg 3 days 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?
chippy 3 days 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.
the_cat_kittles 3 days 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
ahcox 3 days 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

bigfaceworm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Off topic: Captain America's throwing form is atrocious. See this for good form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0dXR6EiReY
LambdaAlmighty 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have the originals to compare?
optimo 3 days ago 3 replies      
is it okay to not be impressed with this 'effect'?
hawleyal 3 days ago 0 replies      
jazlyn 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
flibertgibit 3 days ago 3 replies      
This affect does not work on me, and, yes, I have two working eyes and neither is "lazy".
AI samaltman.com
486 points by rdl  18 hours ago   245 comments top 41
kevinalexbrown 15 hours ago 2 replies      
If the only goal is an 'artificial' consciousness, it might be more prudent to consider a functional definition of what consciousness is and try to build that. We didn't make computers by modeling how individual neurons perform mathematical calculations.

On the other hand, if you want to go the biological route, there's some awesome work to be done. If I were to study consciousness, here's the question I would ask: how do we separate our selves from our surroundings? Patients with brain-machine interfaces (like moving a mouse cursor) start by thinking about moving their arms around. Then they apparently report that they gradually just feel that the interface is another body part. So if it's set up to change the TV channel, they just imagine that they have a channel-changing organ.

So maybe you want to build a system that can identify what is a part of itself versus what is not, and it's not just a fixed list. So what does that data structure look like? How is it defined, queried, and updated? Defined by what you can 'influence?' So gradated based on my influence? These aren't just broad philosophical questions, they're more specific and actionable.

That's just one possible angle, but it's different than, say, machine learning paradigms where you want to build a machine that can do pattern classification (which the brain undoubtedly does). There are probably other routes as well.

wildermuthn 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Are we building AI equivalents of the philosophical zombie?


If P-Zombies are an impossibility, then so too true AI that dismisses the need for consciousness, or begs the question by assuming that consciousness will emerge from intelligence.

It may be that intelligence, true human intelligence, emerges from consciousness.

elwell 17 hours ago 12 replies      
Critically speaking, this article doesn't add anything. I don't know why I read it. Can anyone explain why they upvoted?
Ygg2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, wasn't creativity part solved? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_creativity I'm refering to Stephen L. Thaler's work)

I mean you need two neural nets. One that adds chaos to another neural net and a second one that returns the result. You could probably optimize by somehow making those parts parallel.

edanm 16 hours ago 5 replies      
If anyone is interested in AI, I highly recommend joining Less Wrong, a community started by AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky. He started the community to convince people to focus on the "friendly AI problem". [1] I actually recommend that everyone read LW, but especially if you're interested in AI.

[1] In a nutshell, the friendly AI problem is: assume we create an AI. It may rapidly become more intelligent than us, if we program it right. As soon as it becomes significanlty more intelligent, we will no longer be the most intelligent beings around, so the AI's goals will matter more than ours.

Therefore, we should really give it good goals that are compatible with what we want to happen. And since no one right now knows how to define "what humans want" good enough for writing it in code, then we'd better figure THAT out before building AI.

mappum 17 hours ago 7 replies      
I believe human-level general intelligence (and beyond) is already inevitable, even if we don't make significant developments in "solving" intelligence. Projects that are already developing stuff like this (e.g. IBM Blue Brain) are just copying the human brain as closely as possible. Of course, this isn't as efficient as it could be (they simulate it all at the molecular level, so you can only get 1 neuron per CPU). However, as Moore's Law progresses, even if we don't make the software more efficient, we will eventually be able to create a fully functional simulation.

But if you look at the history of technology, things we create aren't usually exactly based on models seen in nature. Airplanes aren't exactly like birds. I believe we will find a more "man made" model for general intelligence (maybe not even a neuronal model) that works much more efficiently with the hardware we have available.

Going back to the airplane analogy, we already have the people who strap wooden wings to their arms and jump off buildings (like Blue Brain), but we are looking for the first Wright brothers design.

khafra 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> artificial consciousness, or creativity, or desire, or whatever you want to call it. I am quite confident that well be able to make computer programs that perform specific complex tasks very well. But how do we make a computer program that decides what it wants to do? How do we make a computer decide to care on its own about learning to drive a car? Or write a novel?

I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

We cannot decide what we want to do--we can only decide how best to fulfill our wants; a person learns to drive a car because we want the freedom, social approval, and other stuff that comes with that.

Natural selection gave us our base-level desires, that all other desires spring from; and it was able to do that because it's an optimization process. A functional AI's desires will come from some sort of optimization process; the only question is what that process will be optimizing.

hooande 11 hours ago 8 replies      
Many people see Artificial General Intelligence as a panacea. The idea is, "We'll create artificially intelligent scientists who will solve all of our other problems for us!". I think that future generations will look back on this as a modern version of alchemy. If blogs had existed centuries ago I'm sure that people would have called the transmutation of metal the most important trend of their time. This isn't to denigrate the author of this post or the people who have dedicated their lives to AGI research. It's just that this idea probably falls into the category of "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is". [1]

We have no proof that artificial general intelligence can exist. We have numerous examples of specific intelligence: playing chess, driving cars, various forms of categorization. But we don't have a single example of an application that can handle a task that it hasn't been specifically trained and tested for. It's not to say that it isn't possible, but there is no more evidence for AGI than there is for Bigfoot, leprechauns or space aliens. The idea of artificial consciousness currently requires a leap of faith.

The most important trend today is collecting massive amounts of data and using them to make accurate predictions. Instead of lusting after one all-singing all-dancing intelligent program we should focus on tackling one form of decision making at a time. Drive cars, land planes, predict the weather and calculate the best way to get from point A to point B. One day we'll wake up in a world where artificial intelligence is all around us and the idea of a one size fits all solution will seem silly and quaint.

[1] In fairness, this was said about every amazing thing in modern life. You never know.

jcfrei 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> I am quite confident that well be able to make computer programs that perform specific complex tasks very well. But how do we make a computer program that decides what it wants to do?

Are we so sure that "we" really are in charge of what we want to do? I believe a lot of our desires and ambitions are hardcoded into our brains and we just project them onto present goals, like getting a promotion or learning how to play the piano, etc. ultimately all these desires cater to the same few desires we always had and were born with: developing a sense of social belonging and intimacy.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belongingness

dicroce 17 hours ago 3 replies      
One thing that crosses my mind whenever I imagine creating a human level intelligence is that it takes humans YEARS of constant stimulation to begin to exhibit intelligent behavior... Sometimes I wonder if we'll have the algorithm may before we realize it...
rdpfeffer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Hierarchical Temporal Memory is the closest model to the brain that I've seen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchical_temporal_memory). They are capable of generalized learning and excel in the same way that humans do. They are capable of abstraction, self categorization, and online learning.

There are elements of past AI models in the HTM model, however to reduce HTM's or any deep learning algorithm to a mere combination of past AI concepts overlooks the power of the right model when it is achieved. It would be like saying that Facebook is just a news feed. Sure, that's what gets most of the eyeballs, but there's a lot more there which would drastically reduce its value if not present.

What I think is most interesting is that we may find that Humans learn pretty inefficiently from the perspective of the amount of input data required over time. This may seem silly at first, but when you consider how many neurons cover the surface area of our ears and eyes and then consider the fact that it takes anywhere from 12 to 14 months for a child to speak its first word, you might start to agree with this line of thought. Also, when I consider the fact that this processing all happens in parallel even further pushes me in this direction.

Whatever the case may be, HTMs are definitely a cool area of research. For those who are interested, you should definitely check out more of Jeff Hawkins work at Numenta. They've been able to demonstrate some pretty novel things. He wrote a book back in 2006 that blew my mind. Went into deeper explanation about how HTMs could model everything from deep learning, to consciousness, creativity, and bunch of other things.

yogo 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting post. The way I look at it is from the perspective of a human baby. How do they become intelligent? They have the "sensors" to detect features and will be able to recognize their parents. A lot of things are then learned, like touching a hot stove and from getting a formal education. For a machine to be artificially intelligent it would have to learn from its environment but also take formal instruction. That seems like a lot of ground to cover and this is what makes it unrealistic (for now).

You can have a machine read every book in existence but how long will it take for it to understand in the same way a human reading a lot of books would need to understand it somehow.

rdl 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what other credible contenders for "most overlooked technology" are.

I think "physical tamper evidence/tamper response" is one, along with hardware security functionality (crazy secure virtualization extensions, etc.) -- essentially competing with Intel not just on power but also on security features. Although Intel is leading in this area with TXT and now SGX.

dschiptsov 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem of AI is that it has much more complexity than we used to think. Even best guys like Minsky have grossly underestimated the complexity, so they got stuck, and now are in a process of developing more subtle, refined theories. In some sense the story of modern AI is a story of how Minsky assigned to figure scene decomposition for robotic vision as a summer project, and now teaching Society of mind and calling for entirely different approach to what is intelligence. It is not, of course, some massively parallel recursive problem solver implemented in neurons, it is too naive view, so there is no use to search for one.) It is as complicated as actions of whole humanity with a billions of semiindependent agents.
temuze 17 hours ago 2 replies      
> "the part of your brain that processes input from your ears is also capable of learning to process input from your eyes. If we can just figure out this one general-purpose algorithm, programs may be able to learn general-purpose things."

This is the Holy Grail of CS. I believe we're closer than most people would expect and I think it's going to be a race to the finish line.

kordless 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm just going to stick this out there because I'm a futurist and it's my role to share with others what I'm thinking about. What I share may be flat out wrong, scary, half assed, or appear to be crazy. So be it.

We've advanced a lot in the last 100 years. We're starting to see a bigger picture forming with the advent of compute and networking capabilities. Combining simple elements of these basics give rise to surprising and interesting behaviors. See "Twitch Plays Pokemon": http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57619058-93/twitch-plays-po... as an example of suprising behavior.

The more we look in detail at the universe around us, the more puzzling it gets. Prime numbers spirals are unexplained. The two slit experiments results indicate the observer plays a part in collapsing a particle's probability wave. The effects of dark matter could be a result of parallel universes. You couldn't make up weirder shit if you tried.

It's not a huge leap of logic to assume some parts of our brain operate at a quantum level. Given that first statement comes to a truthful fruition, I don't think it would be entirely unreasonable to assume AI will do so as well. Given computers already use some quantum properties, it's also reasonable to expect advancement in AI lies in this direction.

When they announced Google was getting a D-Wave computer, I got really interested. Granted, they know beans about how it works (and whether or not it actually works at all) but it's still crazy interesting to consider.

As I said, I could be wrong or crazy. Or both.

varelse 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one of the next hot emerging careers will be connecting and interfacing traditional computational algorithms for the bits that are clearly orders of magnitude more efficient than using a multi-layer neural network to do them into neural networks, SVMs, and/or whatever comes next that figure out how to allocate such work from raw data feeds.
elwell 17 hours ago 3 replies      
10 points in 10 minutes. If multiple accounts weren't used, that must be a ready-worthy article.
skywhopper 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"But how do we make a computer program that decides what it wants to do? How do we make a computer decide to care on its own about learning to drive a car? Or write a novel?"

Perhaps it'd be better to ask: why would we want a computer to do these things? I certainly do not want to live in a world where computers have their own motivations and desires and the ability to act on the same.

Actually, I can put that more strongly: none of us will live very long in a world where computers have their own motivations, desires, and the ability to act on the same.

bohm 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote about limitations on AI imposed by algorithmic complexity here: http://paulbohm.com/articles/artificial-intelligence-obstacl...

In essence: unless we extract that "single algorithm" that Andrew Ng believes in from an existing medium, we're unlikely to rediscover it independently.

(read the papers i link to at the bottom of the article for a more rigorous explanation)

bovermyer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think going about it from a complex algorithm point of view is the wrong approach.

We should, instead, be concentrating our efforts on two things - sensing, and reacting. The predictability of the reaction doesn't matter; all that matters is that the machine reacts. Everything else will need to depend on evolutionary processes, which requires a third criterion - changing reaction based on prior data.

If the previous reaction did not lead to a negative result ("negative" meaning detrimental to one or more arbitrary values), then the reaction can continue to the same stimulus. If the previous reaction, however, elicited a strong positive result, then the reaction should be encouraged. Similarly, if it triggered a strong negative response, it should be avoided.

To a degree, you could do this without any kind of "operating system," just by using sensory data as inputs in a complex circuit.

At least, that's how I would approach it. I know nothing about A.I. research.

erik14th 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Humans have a drive, a raison d'etre, intelligence being only a mean to fulfill that drive.

Thing is that drive is uncertain/subjective.

Learning can't be an objective by itself, intelligence is just a tool, from that perspective you can say there are already AI, like targeted ads, it learns about you and acts accordingly.

So to have a "generalist" AI, like human's intelligence is general, you'd have to have an objective like staying alive and build up from that.

jk4930 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"But artificial general intelligence might work, and if it does, it will be the biggest development in technology ever."

I'd like to point interested readers to the AGI Conference series[1], the Open Cognition Project[2], and a mostly outdated (2009) but still useful list of everything AGI[3].

[1] http://agi-conf.org/

[2] http://wiki.opencog.org/w/The_Open_Cognition_Project

[3] http://linas.org/agi.html

ekianjo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Something happened in the course of evolution to make the human brain different

Not just the human brain, a great number of animals share the very same characteristics as the human brain we find ourselves closer and closer to them every single day as new researches on animal neurology and animal behavior get published. It would be very wrong to suggest that intelligence is only a human thing.

etanazir 1 hour ago 0 replies      
D-Wave AI - maybe; diophantine AI - lol.
neverminder 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In my opinion true AI must have reasoning skills and be self aware. This brings the disturbing truth: either we never get it to work or we will get it to work and it will destroy us.
forrestthewoods 17 hours ago 5 replies      
There are many classes of problems in computer science and AI falls into one of my favorites. If today the world had a machine with infinite CPU power and infinite RAM we still wouldn't have a good AI.

We just don't have the knowledge to utilize such resources to write an AI that could, for exampe, play League of Legends or Starcraft at a level beyond professional gamers. And it certainly couldn't write a best selling novel. It could solve an arbitrarily large traveling salesman problem but it couldn't do those other things. I think that's kind of awesome.

I'm not saying it can't be done. Assuming we humans don't kill ourselves I think someday it will. But it's a long, long ways off.

catshirt 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"But how do we make a computer program that decides what it wants to do? How do we make a computer decide to care on its own about learning to drive a car? Or write a novel?"

if intelligence is solved by reverse engineering the brain at a molecular level surely consciousness and creativity are?

"And maybe we don't want to build machines that are concious in this sense."

if the physical composition of the brain defines intelligence and conscience, i'm not sure you'll be able to pick and choose. i am all for artificial conscious though. yolo.

feralmoan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I dunno, the definition of intelligence is biased by our own ability to comprehend and therefore profoundly slim (even IQ can be gamed, and most people puke at emotional/lizard brain intelligence) so large chances "science" either under or overshoots its "stakeholder aware" analysis and doesn't know functional self preserving, iterative enhancement intellect when its looking it in the face. You know us monkeys, running around derping science with wacky wavy hands going 'Hai Dolphin What You do jump hoop!'. AI, rockin the casbah. Maybe one day!
youlweb 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a strong A.I hobbyist, and I just put up a website for my basic abstract algorithm: genudi. The website's implementation of the algo revolves around having a conversation with a computer. Currently in limited release, you can request a Pioneer account from there: http://www.genudi.com
davidrangel 15 hours ago 2 replies      
From a pure layman's perspective: if you believe in evolution, then what separates us from a reptile (as mentioned in the post) is almost certainly something we can figure out and replicate. There is nothing "special" there.

So if you believe computers today already have the "intelligence" of a reptile, or a toddler (i.e., ability to play pong), or something along those lines, it's only a matter of time before a computer has the intelligence of a full-blown adult human (and soon thereafter much more).

Our level of intelligence/awareness seems magical only because we haven't fully understood it yet. That will change.

byehnbye 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand the logic behind these types of posts that add no value to the poster and the people discussing it in comments.

Is it a signaling mechanism to attract people working in this area? I'm sure you have already turned them off by showing your naivete. So no value to you.

To people trying to discuss this by racking their brains and looking for new ideas, Any one with a quint decent thought/idea will never share it here to enlighten us laymen. So no value to us too.

So, what's the point HN, and why all the upvotes?

seanalltogether 16 hours ago 3 replies      
How do we develop intelligent systems when we don't know how to measure intelligence?
henrygrew 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Something happened in the course of evolution to make the human brain different from the reptile brain, which is closer to a computer that plays pong." - i beg to differ on this statement, clearly the complexity and sheer magnificence of the human brain did not come about by mere chance, if this was so it would have been easy to replicate this.This is proof of an intelligent creator.
dblacc 16 hours ago 0 replies      
AI was also the subject Gates pointed to when asked a similar question on the AMA thread the other week on Reddit, I believe.
yconst 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear HN users: If you are even minimally interested in the topics that this post "covers", please, do yourselves a favour and open up any book about machine intelligence instead of reading such uninformed and negligent posts.

I urge you to, seriously.

ygmelnikova 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Explain to me how a brain can evolve, and yet not understand how itself functions?
namenotrequired 17 hours ago 0 replies      
...and then we'll just need to figure out how to make humans more creative.
imranq 17 hours ago 1 reply      
how does this guy consistently write mini-Paul Graham essays?
dinkumthinkum 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I hate to get "meta" but it doesn't seem frontage worthy, it's just a musing about AI.
byehnbye 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Goodbye HN!
WebGL Water madebyevan.com
440 points by morphics  1 day ago   128 comments top 31
frik 21 hours ago 4 replies      
It would be great if Apple would activate WebGL on iOS!

  Officially only available through iAd on iOS 4.2 and higher, for all devices   except for 2nd Gen iPod Touch or iPhone 3G and earlier. However, there is a tweak   for jailbroken devices to enable functionality for Mobile Safari and all other   WebKit browsers.

Today, even Microsoft supports WebGL with IE 11, so hopefully Apple activates it with iOS8...

jarrett 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Simple OpenGL question: Can the refractions/caustics be computed entirely in the shaders? Or do you have to do some of the processing in the CPU* and pass the results back to the shaders? All the shaders I've seen are "local," in the sense that they only have access to the interpolated vertex data for their polygon, plus whatever uniforms have been set. It seems to me that things like caustics would require non-local information. Is that non-local information passed via a uniform? If so, I wonder what the data format of that uniform is.

* I know that shaders aren't guaranteed to execute on the GPU, depending on the OpenGL implementation. But for simplicity let's just assume they do.

jheriko 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
seen a lot of these, but this is actually interesting for a change... not just a copy of something we did 15 years ago on ancient hardware.

the simulation using renderbuffers and float textures is cool - although the method used is ancient unexciting technology (see the water effect in winamp avs which uses the same trick in software 15 years ago) it makes sense from the webdev perspective of 'javascript is damned slow' - infact probably far too slow to do even attempt to do this CPU side.

the caustics are much more interesting though - firstly because i didn't know the trick already or re-invent it during my career or even know about the OpenGL ES extension that makes it practical (which is very very old on Desktop and very generally useful).

its always cool to see some raytracing logic applied with some cleverness applied to get some more mileage out of it at real time...

double051 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Some people are mentioning that this doesn't work on iOS, and that's because Apple doesn't have WebGL available in mobile versions of Safari.

But it is. This post by Nathan de Vries [0] shows how you can hack the UIWebView to enable WebGL contexts in your iOS apps. You have to get a little more creative these days (the compiler has gotten stricter about private types and functions), but all it takes is something like this:

    -(void)setWebGLEnabled:(BOOL)enableWebGL forWebView:(UIWebView *)uiWebView    {        id webDocumentView = [uiWebView performSelector:@selector(_browserView)];        id backingWebView = [webDocumentView performSelector:@selector(webView)];        [backingWebView performSelector:@selector(_setWebGLEnabled:)                             withObject:[NSNumber numberWithBool:enableWebGL]];    }
It should go without saying that code like this will not make it into the app store.

[0] http://atnan.com/blog/2011/11/03/enabling-and-using-webgl-on...

constexpr 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Author here. I've done much more awesome stuff with WebGL since I made this demo but it's for my startup and is not public yet. We're actually looking for a backend engineer with graphics experience at the moment. Send me an email at evan@figma.com if you're interested.
rdtsc 23 hours ago 8 replies      
What is the future of WebGL? I have seen cool demos but is this the way forward. So one has a game to develop or a complicated visualization, is it worth investing time in learning WebGL or try to use Canvas directly.
namelezz 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
This should be called "WebGL Water Surface" moving the ball under the water or hitting the ball against the wall has no affects on the water.
scott_karana 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The title should be updated to reflect that this is from 2011: all the more impressive!


TazeTSchnitzel 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Still just as cool years on.
xk0der 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing! Given this is (at least) two years old: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/jjqlc/webgl_water_de...
wildpeaks 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it the same version as the one from 2011 or was it updated recently ? Because it's a [very cool but] old demo, yet it's popping up in every feed in the past days.
danteembermage 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried to dig into the source to see, but can anyone tell what algorithm they are using to propagate the ripples? Normally this would be a Finite Difference Time Domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finite-difference_time-domain_m... but I'm wondering if they didn't just use growing circles and a sine wave.
dubcanada 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of the interfacing with the sphere is a little off, like if you drag it in and out of the water rapidly it does nothing. And if you slowly drag it out, the water clings to it a little too long.

But besides that it is very nice.

trekky1700 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It's amazing the performance difference with WebGL on Chrome vs Firefox. It lagged to like 5-10 fps with Chrome, but am getting 60+ it seems with Firefox.
jebblue 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice, I don't have the talent to do stuff like this, really amazing to see incredible 3D work and fun being done in the browser.
JonnieCache 22 hours ago 0 replies      
You can pull the sphere up out of the water and make big waves. Fun stuff.
elwell 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is what HN is for! Not articles about Steve Jobs threatening Palm execs. Also, don't forget to press 'g'.
72deluxe 23 hours ago 1 reply      
OpenGL shaders are wonderful.The compute shaders in OpenGL 4.3 (?) onwards look to be useful; not sure what for, but useful nonetheless!

Let's all bully Apple into supporting something over OpenGL 4.1.

davexunit 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Really cool!

Is there a better place to store GLSL shaders than in string literals?

yzmtf2008 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really cool, I didn't expect it to be running smoothly (at least not laggy) on the embedded graphic card of i7 640M ;P
k-mcgrady 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Not working for me in Safari 7.0.1 - just says loading.

Edit: Tips below on enabling WebGL fixed it.

jztein 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Can anybody explain how this works? And since this is old, what is state-of-the-art today?
ntaso 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is incredible. Only nitpick: If you dump the ball slowly, it gets a weird water spike on top of it and the water surface looks like some gel, not like water. If you pull it out, the ball should be wet. That'd be awesome :D
Jeremy1026 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The level of awesome is through the roof on this one. Well done.
109876 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Should this work on mobile? I'm not having any luck on my iPhone 5.
nobodysfool 23 hours ago 0 replies      
And now it's offline, looks like we used up all his money.
Yuioup 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Oldie but goodie.
aceperry 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just _awesome_.
designium 21 hours ago 0 replies      
That's amazing!
mnml_ 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Old but still cool
nichochar 22 hours ago 0 replies      
So awesome
The Engineer Crunch samaltman.com
415 points by clarkm  1 day ago   420 comments top 49
tptacek 1 day ago 18 replies      
Broken record: startups are also probably rejecting a lot of engineering candidates that would perform as well or better than anyone on their existing team, because tech industry hiring processes are folkloric and irrational.

I co-manage a consultancy. We operate in the valley. We're in a very specialized niche that is especially demanding of software development skills. Our skills needs also track the market, because we have to play on our clients turf. Consultancies running in steady state have an especially direct relationship between recruiting and revenue.

A few years ago, we found ourselves crunched. We turned a lot of different knobs to try to solve the problem. For a while, Hacker News was our #1 recruiting vehicle. We ran ads. We went to events at schools. We shook down our networks and those of our team (by offering larger and larger recruiting bonuses, among other things).

We have since resolved this problem. My current perspective is that we have little trouble filling slots as we add them, in any market --- we operate in Chicago (where it is trivially easy to recruit), SFBA (harder), and NYC (hardest). We've been in a comfortable place with recruiting for almost a year now (ie, about half the lifetime of a typical startup).

I attribute our success to just a few things:

* We created long-running outreach events (the Watsi-pledging crypto challenges, the joint Square MSP CTF) that are graded so that large numbers of people can engage and get value from them, but people who are especially interested in them can self-select their way to talking to us about a job. Worth mentioning: the crypto challenges, which are currently by far our most successful recruiting vehicle (followed by Stripe's CTF #2) are just a series of emails we send; they're essentially a blog post that we weaponized instead of wasting on a blog.

* We totally overhauled our interview process, with three main goals: (1) we over-communicate and sell our roles before we ever get selective with candidates, (2) we use quantifiable work-sample tests as the most important weighted component in selecting candidates, and (3) we standardize interviews so we can track what is and isn't predictive of success.

Both of these approaches have paid off, but improving interviews has been the more important of the two. Compare the first 2/3rds of Matasano's lifetime to the last 1/3rd. The typical candidate we've hired lately would never have gotten hired at early Matasano, because (a) they wouldn't have had the resume for it, and (b) we over-weighted intangibles like how convincing candidates were in face-to-face interviews. But the candidates we've hired lately compare extremely well to our earlier teams! It's actually kind of magical: we interview people whose only prior work experience is "Line of Business .NET Developer", and they end up showing us how to write exploits for elliptic curve partial nonce bias attacks that involve Fourier transforms and BKZ lattice reduction steps that take 6 hours to run.

How? By running an outreach program that attracts people who are interested in crypto, and building an interview process that doesn't care what your resume says or how slick you are in an interview.

Call it the "Moneyball" strategy.

Later: if I've hijacked the thread here, let me know; I've said all this before and am happy to delete the comment.

GuiA 1 day ago 19 replies      
I'm starting to be a bit disillusioned with this whole "we can't find great people" spiel that a lot of startups put up.

I have friends who are extremely good engineers (i.e., a mix of: contributors to major open source projects used by a lot of SV startups, have given talks at large conferences, published papers at ACM conferences, great portfolio of side/student projects, have worked at great companies previously, frequently write high quality tech articles on their blog, have high reputations on sites like Stack Overflow, etc.) and who have been rejected at interviews from those same companies who say that they can't find talent. (it also certainly doesn't help that the standard answer is "we're sorry, we feel like there isn't a match right now" rather than something constructive. "No match" can mean anything on the spectrum that starts at "you're a terrible engineer and we don't want you" and ends at "one of our interviewers felt threatened by you because you're more knowledgeable so he veto'd you").

Seriously, if you're really desperate for engineering talent, I can give you contact info for a dozen or so of friends who are ready to work for you RIGHT NOW (provided your startup isn't an awful place with awful people, of course) and probably another dozen or two who would work for you given enough convincing.

I'm honestly starting to believe that it isn't hard to hire, but that there's some psychological effect at play that leads companies to make it harder on themselves out of misplaced pride or sense of elitism.

Unless everyone wants to hire Guido Van Rossum or Donald Knuth, but then a) statistically speaking, you're just setting yourself up for failure and b) you need to realize that those kind of people wouldn't want to do the glorified web dev/sys admin'ing that a lot of SV jobs are.

pg 1 day ago 5 replies      
"I have never seen a startup regret being generous with equity for their early employees."

Same here. I always advise startups to err on the side of generosity with equity.

x0x0 1 day ago 2 replies      
This post, I think, makes 2 mistakes.

First, sf and the valley simply don't pay engineers well enough. This is the second, striving to become the first, most expensive housing market in the united states. $150k sounds great here until you look at that as a fraction of your housing cost and compare to anywhere else in the country, including manhattan (because unlike here, nyc isn't run by morons so they have functioning transportation systems). I don't want to just quote myself, but all this still applies: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7195118

Second, immigration is a crutch to get around paying domestic employees enough. I see net emigration from the valley amongst experienced engineers in their 30s who start having families and can find better financial lives elsewhere. If companies paid well enough that moving to the bay area wasn't horrid financially, they'd find plenty of software engineering talent already in the united states. But consider my friend above: $165 total income in the midwest is (compared solely to housing cost) equivalent to approx $450k here, when holding (housing costs / post tax income) constant.

edit: not to mention, companies still don't want flexible employment arrangements or remote work. I'm a data scientist and I'm good at my job (proof: employment history, employers haven't wanted me to leave, track record of accomplishments.) I'd rather live elsewhere. 66 data scientist posts on craigslist (obv w/ some duplication, but just a quick count) [1]; jobs that mention machine learning fill search results with > 100 answers [2]. Now check either of the above for telecommute or part time. Zero responses for remote or part time workers. So again, employers want their perfect employee -- skilled at his or her job, wants to move to the valley enough to take a big hit to net life living standards, doesn't have kids, and doesn't want them (cause daycare or a nanny or an SO who doesn't work is all very expensive.)

[1] http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/jjj?zoomToPosting=&catAbb...

[2] http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/jjj?zoomToPosting=&catAbb...

lkrubner 1 day ago 3 replies      
Regarding this:

"Sometimes this difficulty is self-inflicted."

I want to emphasize how strong this point is. In most ways, the computer programming industry is a shrinking industry in the USA. There are less computer programming jobs in the USA than there were 20 years ago.

Stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (USA):


1990 Number of Jobs 565,000

2010 Number of Jobs 363,100

2012 Number of Jobs 343,700

There is a tiny subset of the industry that is growing, and we associate these with the startups in San Francisco and New York. But so far these startups have not created enough jobs to offset the jobs lost due to other factors.

This suggests that there must be a vast reservoir or programmers who would like programming jobs, but they can't work as programmers because the jobs have disappeared.

If the numbers were smaller, you could argue that the loss of jobs was due to inaccuracies in the way Bureau of Labor gathers statistics. But the drop from 565,000 jobs to 343,700 is too large to be a spurious blip.

This is a shrinking industry. Computer programming jobs are tied to manufacturing so as manufacturing leaves the USA, so to do the computer programming jobs. Don't get caught up in the hype about startups: look at the actual numbers. The government tracks these jobs. The numbers are shrinking.

Especially worth a look:


"In its 1990 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Department of Labor was especially bullish: The need for programmers will increase as businesses, government, schools and scientific organizations seek new applications for computers and improvements to the software already in use [and] further automation . . . will drive the growth of programmer employment. The report predicted that the greatest demand would be for programmers with four years of college who would earn above-average salaries.

When Labor made these projections in 1990, there were 565,000 computer programmers. With computer usage expanding, the department predicted that employment of programmers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 . . .

It didnt. Employment fluctuated in the years following the report, then settled into a slow downward pattern after 2000. By 2002, the number of programmers had slipped to 499,000. That was down 12 percentnot upfrom 1990. Nonetheless, the Labor Department was still optimistic that the field would create jobsnot at the robust rate the agency had predicted, but at least at the same rate as the economy as a whole.

Wrong again. By 2006, with the actual number of programming jobs continuing to decline, even that illusion couldnt be maintained. With the number of jobs falling to 435,000, or 130,000 fewer than in 1990, Labor finally acknowledged that jobs in computer programming were expected to decline slowly. "

jfasi 1 day ago 0 replies      
> if people are going to turn down the certainty of a huge salary at Google, they should get a reward for taking that risk.

I often see a disconnect between perceptions of expected success of founders and engineers. I've observed this is particularly pointed for non-technical founders. To generalize, a young entrepreneur with some success under his belt is starting a company. As far as he's concerned his company is all but guaranteed to succeed: he's got the experience and sophistication necessary to make this happen, the team he's hired to his point is top-notch, he's got the attention of some investors, the product is well thought out, etc. He approaches an exceptional engineer and extends an impassioned invitation and... the engineer balks.

What happened? Is he delusional about the company's prospects, thinking he's got a sure fire hit when he's actually in for a nasty surprise once his hubris collides with reality? Is the engineer a square who would rather work a boring job at a big company than live his life, and wouldn't be a good fit for the team anyway?

I propose a different resolution: our confident businessman is certain about the success of the company, not the success of the engineer as part of the company. He knows the company's success is going to rocket him into an elite circle of Startup Entrepreneurs. The engineer, on the other hand, doesn't see the correlation between the company's success and his own: even if the company takes off to the tune of eight to nine digits, his little dribble of equity is just barely breaking even over the comfortable stable position he's in now.

strlen 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are two unmentioned issues in regards to stock grants and hiring:

1) Information asymmetry or just plain symmetric lack of information in regards to stock grants.

2) The price of a home in a decent school district within a "reasonable" (< 1 hour each way, i.e., no more than 2 hours a day total) commute to any cluster of software companies in Bay Area (whether SOMA, Peninsula, or South Bay).

The two are closely related. When startups are competing for people against Google or any of the young public (or pre-IPO) technology companies, the issue at stake isn't salary (post series-A, startups may pay a slightly below market salary, but not an egregiously low one) but RSUs ("restricted stock units" or essentially outright stock grants: while these are treated as income for the purpose of taxation, there's also no strike price and AMT trap to worry about).

The reasons why these grants (which are generally very far from the "retire on a yacht category") matter is that their ball-park value is known, they're often refreshed as part of the performance review cycle (as opposed to fixed during offer negotiation time), and if you plan on staying in Bay Area and having kids, you're relying upon them to either afford a house in a decent school district and with a reasonable commute, or to afford private school tuition.

Changing grant tactics can help with information asymmetry problem (transparency about finances and valuation is nowadays the rule rather than exception in early stage companies), but they can't help with mutual lack of information: neither the founders nor the investors know with certainty a general ballpark figure of what the value of the company price will be at a liquidity event, or if there will be a liquidity event in the first place.

What this means is that unless housing problems in Bay Area are addressed, in addition to the already well discussed negative externalities, startups will have an increasingly harder time hiring engineers that haven't yet experienced a liquidity event or spent four or more years at bigger companies. They would love to join a start-up, but not at the cost of their (future or existing) children's education.


Unrelated to the above points, this paragraph is also as important as it should be obvious:

"Finally, most founders are not willing to spend the time it takes to source engineering candidates and convince them to come interview. You can't outsource this to a recruiter until the company is fairly well-established--you have to do it yourself."

If I receive a message from an external recruiter, it's hard to tell whether they really reasonably believe there's a good match between my skills and interest and the company, or if they're just employing a shotgun approach. I usually disregard these messages, even when I may be open to a new opportunity. On the other hand, if I receive a message from a founder or a tech lead, I try to reply even if (as, e.g., now) I'm not interested in interviewing: at the very least, it's likely they did actually mean to approach me specifically (not just anyone who has "Hadoop" in their profile), and I've an obligation to let them know that I'm not available at the moment as not to string them along.


Finally, to underscore something else said in the article, in general, best way to hire good people, is to work on something good people enjoy working on, whether it's a greater mission or a good technical challenge. If neither of the two is there, the most straight forward startup recruiting pitch -- "come work on something cool with other smart people" -- fails.

RogerL 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to share how inhuman a lot of the interview processes are. Some examples:* recruiter says a startup is interested, introduces me to the HR person via email. I get a 2 sentence email from HR, telling me that I have to schedule a phone technical interview in the next day or two, they need to onboard FAST.

Okay, I don't know what the job is, who the client is, and the last thing I want to do is be grilled over the phone. I'm certainly uninterested in your time crunch and am not going to rearrange my life to meet your schedule requirements (there were narrow stipulations on acceptable times).

* Talk with a company, and explain that I don't do whiteboard interviewing. Oh, a session is no problem, but the interview has to be as much letting me interview and question you. 'No problem, we just want to talk and see where you'll fit in'.

Come the day, and I barely get a 'hi', just nonstop whiteboard coding in an intense environment. Took the whole day off for that time waste. Two of the sessions had me solve essentially the identical problem - I waste my day, they don't take 5 minutes to plan out what I'll be asked. Then they call me back, and tell me I have to come in for another series a day later, which was entirely unexpected, and not communicated to me prior to agreeing to interview. And if my requests for how the interview is conducted can't be honored, fine, tell me, and either I'll change my mind or decide not to waste a day taken from work. The cap to all of that was the 'shoot the messenger' emails when I said I was not accepting due to how this all went down (and oh, I didn't respond quickly enough to that email, meaning it took me a few hours, so more grief for that).

* Just general, insistent demands as if I have nothing to do but interview with your company. If you have your resume out there, all you do is field phone calls and emails. I'm not going to pursue anything without knowing quite a bit about the job because I don't have to. There is always going to be better, low hanging fruit - cold emails with very accurate, detailed descriptions of a wickedly cool start up, recruiters that actually get to know your skill sets and desires, and so on.

* No exposure to what the work will be like. It's so secret they can't tell you, or there is a 'variety of work', or whatever. No work environment tour. No discussion of compensation, work hours, and so on until you've wasted a day or more in interviews.

* 'Go and study this book for a month, and then apply'. Um, I'm 47 and have a very successful career of inventions and products. Surely you don't have to quiz me on red-black tree implementation to access my abilities. If I need to know that, I'll open the book and learn it.

It was, by and large, very unpleasant. Perhaps it is not the best proxy, but I go in assuming the interview process is the time you are trying to impress and woo me the most, and judge you on that.

bgentry 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have never seen a startup regret being generous with equity for their early employees.

A few years ago, Zynga told some early employees with lots of shares that they had to give back some of their stock or they'd be fired:



I'm not sure if that qualifies as "regret", or if it's just greed, but it's one very public example of a company deciding they've given too many options to early employees.

pastProlog 1 day ago 4 replies      
The beautiful girl crunch

For most guys in the bay area, the beautiful girl crunch is a bigger problem than the Series A crunch (this somewhat applies to designers as well). The difference in difficulty between dating a beautiful girl and an unattractive one is remarkable--I frequently hear guys say that for unattractive girls they can find multiple great candidates without really looking but can't find a single beautiful girl for a dating role no matter how hard they look.

First, of all the canonical terrible advice advisors give, being cheap is among the worst. I have never seen a hardup guy regret being generous.

For most beautiful girls, this is as much about fairness and feeling valued as it is about the money. And of course, if girls are going to turn down the certainty of dating a handsome, confident sales guy, they should get a reward for taking that risk.

If youre going to look outside of your network of friends from your Defense of the Ancients guild (usually a mistake, but sometimes there are truly no other options), focus on recruiting girls outside of the valley.

Finally, most engineers are not willing to spend the time it takes to develop a normal social life with regular non-technical people whereas they might develop normal personality traits and meet someone nice. You can't outsource this though--you have to do it yourself.

Footnote: * Every time someone from the government asks me what they can do to help hard-up engineers, I always say a version of "The only thing you need to do is fix immigration for beautiful girls." We need more beautiful, financially desperate girls from third world countries whose standards are not as high as American ones.

OmarIsmail 1 day ago 2 replies      
The only thing you need to do is fix immigration for founders and engineers. This will likely have far more of an impact than all of the government innovation programs put together. - this is so darn true it's not even funny.

Conversely, and I know this is pretty out there, this is what I think will be the killer app of virtual reality. If I can ship a $5K "pod" to a developer somewhere in the world which allows us to work together 90% as well as we can in person, then you're damn right I'm going to do that.

I believe VR tech will get good enough (3-5 years) before immigration issues will be sorted out (10-20).

jamesaguilar 1 day ago 2 replies      
Given the offers I've heard people getting from early stage startups (engineer 2-5), I don't really get why someone would join them. Below market rate salary? 0.1% of a company that's going to exit at $80M with a 10% chance and $0 with a 90% chance? That comes out to $80k over four years of work, before taxes, in the typical successful case, which is itself atypical. And for what amounts to a relatively small bonus, I'd be expected to work 50-70 hour weeks? Sign me up!
jfasi 1 day ago 0 replies      
This implies a somewhat one-way relationship between companies and their engineers: engineers give their time and talents, and in return companies give their money and equity. Under this system, why not be selective about who you hire? If you want great work, you need to hire a great engineer.

In actuality, the truth is great people aren't found, they're made. The role of a good leader isn't to squeeze great work out of his employees, but rather to develop within them the capability to do great work. Applied to hiring, this means having an understanding of the support and growth capabilities within your organization, and finding candidates who have the most potential to gain from it, rather than hiring those who are already well-developed. Applied to hiring rockstars, this makes them even more valuable: not only would they be producing outstanding work on their own, they would actually be improving the quality of the work their peers produce.

cia_plant 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's up with the cliff anyway? You're already asking me to take a much higher level of risk and a much lower level of liquidity than I'd like in my compensation, by giving me stock options. In addition to that you want me to take on 100% of the risk of our working arrangement not working out, and in fact you insist on giving yourself a strong incentive to fire me before the first year is out? It seems ridiculously exploitative.
trustfundbaby 1 day ago 0 replies      
The other thing that is interesting to me is the ludicrously highbar, and "weed out" interview techniques that some these companies have for recruiting engineers.

They're looking for someone to work on a rails app but they won't hire them unless they have demonstrated Linus-Torvalds like ability and knowledge. But the question is, why would someone with that kind of skill level want to work for you?

What if you were able to grab smart engineers on their way to becoming engineering stars? Why not aim for getting a solid lead/architect and adding midlevel guys who you know are going to turn into superstars? Why not develop talent instead of competing all the way at the top of the market for the most expensive ones? Why not figure out an interview technique that can let you identify exactly these kinds of people?

Its all about being resourceful and nimble enough to adjust, after all, isn't that what a startup is all about?

grandalf 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the most insightful thing I've read about the engineer crunch in a while. The market needs to realize that good engineers have lots of options and that 0.1% is just not a meaningful amount. I'd like to see 5-8% for key engineering hires, even as companies approach Series A.

Does the founder really want to get greedy and keep that extra few percent when so much depends upon solid engineering execution? Also, don't forget that 4 year vesting with a 1 year cliff is standard, so it's not as if the worth of a meaningful equity offer isn't fully obvious before the shares are "spent" on a key hire (also, before vesting, the risk is totally borne by the employee).

I think the ideal situation for engineers would be to earn a solid equity offer and then have a secondary market to use to trade some of it (once it's vested) for fractional ISOs of other promising startups.

coffeemug 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my experience non-engineering roles are just as difficult to fill.

You can easily find a non-technical hire if you don't know what you want or don't care about quality. If you care about quality, you'll be stuck in the same crunch. For example, the skill of being able to write without run-on sentences eliminates 99.9% of the candidates in the pool, for any role. Want candidates who can write reasonably well? Hiring just got 100x more difficult. In a modern environment, if you're non-technical and can't write well, what can you do?

djb_hackernews 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait, I thought we all agreed that there isn't an engineering crunch?

I am not sure what immigration has to do with this, we make plenty of STEM graduates each year, and we'd make more if the professions didn't look like they were under attack by every employer and politician. The smart kids you want to hire are smart enough to go into more protected professions, if they knew their jobs wouldn't be shipped over seas or their market flooded with foreign competition, then maybe we'd be able to attract them and keep them.

I worry that focusing on equity will just exacerbate the problem, because I think that a lot of people are becoming wise to the equity lottery and just don't see a difference between 0.1% and 5% of nothing. The problem will most certainly be solved by $$, but no doubt it is tough pill to swallow for a business to pay 150k now what was 100k a few years ago...

Keep in mind I am a software developer and self interested.

Xdes 1 day ago 3 replies      
>There are great hackers all over the country, and many of them can be talked into moving to the valley.

For all this "we work remote" stuff that is flying around this seems to be a direct contradiction. Is moving to the valley really necessary? I can postulate coming for a face-to-face interview, but I would never want to move to California.

fidotron 1 day ago 0 replies      
There isn't so much a shortage of engineers as a shortage of people willing to relocate to a stupidly expensive area and gamble what they have in the process. From the outside, but as a reasonably regular visitor, the Bay Area has lost the plot completely.
sheetjs 1 day ago 1 reply      
The one part of the problem that the author missed is salary. Offering a small amount of equity is fine if you are offering an above-market salary, but it's the combination of below-market salary and minimal equity that causes the perceived crunch.

"You get what you pay for"

Pxtl 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that "get out of the valley" isn't an option for that. I mean, there are a lot of cities that produce lots of talented developers that cost a lot less than Silicon Valley rates.
jjoe 1 day ago 6 replies      
What protects an equity-holder employee from being viciously or prematurely fired prior to the exit or cash out event?
mathattack 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Finally, most founders are not willing to spend the time it takes to source engineering candidates and convince them to come interview. You can't outsource this to a recruiter until the company is fairly well-established--you have to do it yourself."

This is very important. It needs to percolate into their immediate reports too. I've seen high tech companies lose great candidates because the first line managers were too busy to interview them right away. If the right talent is available, you have to maket he time.

wpietri 1 day ago 1 reply      
My approach to equity was to offer a range. We'd offer base equity and salary numbers, and then give them an ability to trade salary for equity. If I recall rightly, they got a modestly better deal than investors did.

In doing that, it became clear that not everybody even wants more equity. That was a little hard for us as founders to take, because we of course thought the equity was awesome, and wanted engineers to feel a real sense of ownership. But from the numbers, it was clear that some people would rather we sold more equity to investors and just gave them the cash.

I get that. If you've been around the industry for a while, you can accumulate quite a collection of expired startup lottery tickets. Landlords, mortgage-holders, and kids' orthodontists don't take options; they take cash.

erichocean 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As a teenager, I came to the conclusion that I would never get a job as a result of an interview. I'd be even less likely to get past HR and get an interview.

So I haven't interviewed for a single job for the last 18 years. Sometimes people ask me for my resume; I don't have one.

What I did instead is take a problem I was interested in, solve it on paper, and then approach a company to pay me to implement that solution for them (along with an estimate of the cost). That has worked out really, really well for me.

If you find that interviewers or HR aren't sizing you up correctly, this approach might be an option. Businesses, when it comes to tech, mostly just want problems solved. If you can do that, you'll get hired. Nothing shows you can do something like bringing them the (on paper) solution, and offering to built it.

ronaldx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also, a cliff is very unattractive because we know you're motivated to fire us before the cliff - probably even if we do a good job. Indeed, you openly admit it.
prathammittal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talent crunch debate is an elusive one. No credible data is available and we interpret to make ourselves feel good- sour grapes. One thing I would say (in my capacity as having gone to high school in India) is that there are thousands of great engineers (I'm talking about my friends from IIT and IIT) who would die to work for a Dropbox or an Airbnb. I'm guessing its a similar situation in S.America, Europe, China (?) etc.

Now, as far as I know, these companies don't hire in most of these countries. But why don't they? I don't understand. Visa stuff is less of a concern actually.. its been thrashed more than it deserves. Indian consulting companies got like 30K H1Bs last year. 30,000 engineers moved from India to the US. Surely, Dropbox can get 20 good ones. And your startup could probably get a handful too.

These engineers grew up on hacker news - so culture is not the problem. They are moving seven seas - so they work hard and aren't dicks. Their options in India are limited - so the salary negotiation is less of a nightmare.

Not sure if there are any republicans here, so I'll not defend the "Indian developer taking away American job" phenomenon. Hopefully, HNers get why immigration makes sense.

We are trying at VenturePact.com to build a vetted international talent marketplace. We launched a couple of weeks ago in Delhi and a few tech hubs in India and got hundreds of apps from developers wanting to work in the valley or NY. Well, many applications were not suitable BUT many were.

Would love to read what people think of hiring internationally. And what would the preference be between getting them to work remotely vs relocate.

joesmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pay 20% or more above the so called market rate and you'll sew there is no crunch. It's that easy.
j_baker 1 day ago 1 reply      
> In fact, probably less than 5% of the best hackers are even in the United States.

Startups clearly need to be basing more of their decisions on unfounded conjectures. I have to say that startups seem to have unreasonable expectations of what kinds of programmers they can hire. We have plenty of viable hackers in the US, but startups don't want to hire them because they're not the next Knuth or they're "not a good cultural fit".


michaelt 1 day ago 2 replies      

  I frequently hear startups say [...] can't find   a single great candidate for an engineering role   no matter how hard they look. 
While I agree that offering better compensation is a wise move for individual companies, if the market has 10 job openings and 9 engineers, regardless of how much pay they offer one of the companies won't be able to fill the opening.

Offering more money might fix hiring problems for one company, stopping one person complaining, but to stop all people complaining the only solution is to increase the supply or reduce the demand.

(Increasing the supply doesn't have to mean immigration reform - it could mean training or lowering hiring standards or a bunch of other things)

rqebmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
The interview process is still something that hasn't been solved. A lot of companies make hiring decisions based almost entirely on how well someone does non-coding work under extreme social pressure, which is about the worst possible way to measure the prospects of a developer!

Personally I really like the interview process a previous empoyer used: shortly before the interview starts we had them look over a roughly CS 102-level programming project, then we ask them to design the architecture on a whiteboard while the interviewers ask questions/give guidance. What we're really looking for here is:

a.) how do they handle the social aspect of working with a superior who will often (gently) criticize your work and/or ask you to thoroughly explain why you're doing what. b.) that they have enough chops to architect a simple program.

If they can pass those test I'm confident they'll be an effective team member, because at the end of the day all you really want is someone who is competent enough to be useful, and fits into your culture/team. Everything else will shake itself out. You don't need some "superstar/rockstar/ninja" (unless you're solving a particularly hard domain-specific problem) so stop looking for them and excluding everyone else.

Instead start building an effective team.

cratermoon 1 day ago 2 replies      

There's no engineering crunch, just companies that don't want to pay market rates.

The Free Market from startup/VC perspective: It works when we profit, but when we want to hire cheap labor it's because there's not enough people.

Matt_Mickiewicz 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Third, if youre going to recruit outside of your network (usually a mistake, but sometimes there are truly no other options), focus on recruiting outside of the valley. There are great hackers all over the country, and many of them can be talked into moving to the valley."

UPVOTE!! I'm shocked at how many companies are unwilling to pay for a $500 Southwest ticket to fly someone in for a day to interview from Texas or Georgia... relocation costs are easily offset by a slightly lower salary, and the person you're interviewing is unlikely to have 4 or 5 paper offers in hand.

kreek 1 day ago 0 replies      
"For most startups in the bay area"... time to move or be open to remote developers.
timedoctor 1 day ago 0 replies      
We find it moderately difficult, but definitely possible to find great people. The secret is NOT looking in Silicon valley and the bay area where thousands of extremely well funded companies are looking for talented developers.

Totally agree with the last sentiments that if you're in the bay area why should you ONLY considering hiring in the same area? It shocks me that technology companies can be so parochial.

You can hire across the entire US, Canada is just nearby and then there is ... the rest of the planet!

chris_mahan 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Great hackers also want the opportunity to work with really smart people and the opportunity to work on interesting problems, and the nature of mission-oriented companies is such that they usually end up offering these as well."

Uh, I don't care if it's "saving the world and the whales" or "enhancing legal resolution outcomes through analytics". I care that I am granted enough latitude to design and implement a good solution, instead of being handed a software toolbox and told to "bang on nails" all day.

arbuge 1 day ago 1 reply      
Recruiting good web developers is tough, no question, but I remember trying to recruit good analog IC design engineers at my previous startup. That made hiring developers look like a cakewalk in comparison. There were maybe 100-200 worldwide who fit the bill, all of whom were already happily employed at very comfortable jobs.
frodopwns 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is no engineer crunch. Only wannabe founders who can't do anything but talk big.

"Hey do you want to join my startup? We are reinventing analytics....again."

_random_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is a gold crunch as well - I can't find 999% gold at 1$ per kg.
rgarcia 1 day ago 2 replies      
"If someone performs and earns their grant over four years, they are likely to increase the value of the company far more than the 1% or whatever you give them."

This argument seems flawed. If I think someone is going to double the value of my company, should I be comfortable giving them up to 100% equity? Put another way: percentage growth of your company from an early stage to some point in the future most often exceeds 100%.

puppetmaster3 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's bogus. There is no shortage of engineers. But there are many badly managed corps that only H1 would work at.
pistle 1 day ago 1 reply      
>"Don't hire outside your network."

If nobody in your network has a track record of results, become a sycophant? What if all the hackers in your network are US as well? You got less than a 5% chance of a hope to do anything according to Altman.

w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or, y'know, maybe locate outside of the Valley?
crassus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Double the equity. 9 month vesting cliff. Market salary.
zallarak 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent essay. This really nails what I'd want in a dream job; knowing my effort influences my payout (via legitimately sized equity grants) and working on a mission I empathize with. Best article I've read in a while on hiring.
randunel 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a non-us engineer, I've had 2 visa applications denied. I guess Europe wins :D
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not use oDesk and overseas developers? Today's teams communicate using remote tools even when in cubicles next door. Why severely limit yourself geographically in your search?
puppetmaster3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would you say there's not a shortage of lawyers, and why is that?
The future of Fiber fiber.google.com
411 points by lawdawg  21 hours ago   269 comments top 54
JunkDNA 21 hours ago 6 replies      
I know it would be painful, and the local politics certifiably insane, but if Google wanted draw attention to the dysfunctional monopoly of the cable industry, there would be no better place to wire than Philly. Take the competition right into Comcast's back yard. Start with a rollout of the Philly 'burbs where the Comcast execs live and work inward toward the city from there.
27182818284 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm really, really glad they chose Kansas City as the pilot city despite not living there. If they had just gone and chosen San Francisco, Chicago or New York, it would have been no more of an experiment than offering more cable channels to the big cities in the 1990sIt just is completely uninteresting.

On a side note, If you haven't been to KC's Startup Village, the climate is electric! It feels like something really real is going on there. It is just awesome to see someone with a coding question, you can walk literally a few doors down to a different house to ask one of the startups there. When you walk inside, you see rooms that should be living rooms with hackers on laptops and would-be dining rooms with iMacs setup on tables. Meanwhile a sleepy hacker is waking up and making breakfast in the kitchen. The climate is wonderful.

willidiots 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Full list of cities, from the FAQ:

Arizona- Phoenix, Scottsdale, TempeCalifornia- San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo AltoGeorgia- Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, SmyrnaNorth Carolina- Charlotte, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, RaleighOregon- Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, TigardTennessee- Nashville-DavidsonTexas- San AntonioUtah- Salt Lake City

drawkbox 19 hours ago 2 replies      
There is such a high demand for this product because it fulfills a great need and requirement to be competitive, but we are being held back by our providers. Our progress, held back due to lack of innovation. Google Fiber will rule the US as soon as it can get rolled out. Cable companies better be really nice and start being competitive. Please bring it to Chandler, AZ.

This article comes to mind, I recently, through normal work, started hitting Cox's 250GB max, I work on games and can easily send 4-8GB per day in assets/code to remote repos. Cringley from 2011...


This isnt about capping ISP losses, but are about increasing ISP profits. The caps are a built-in revenue bump that will kick-in 2-3 years from now, circumventing any existing regulatory structure for setting rates. The regulators just havent realized it yet. By the time they do it may be too late.

Most U. S. broadband customers dont get anywhere near that 250 gigabyte cap. The few who do hit those limits are big gamers or file downloaders for the most part. Maybe they do take unfair advantage of the system, but the question is whether this is the proper way to control their consumption? I dont think it is.

In time we will all bump into these caps and our Internet bills will suddenly double as a result, circumventing competition and ending a 15 year downward broadband price trend.

ISPs win, we lose.

Unless there is competition. Bandwidth is as needed as roads, shipping, airplanes, etc to business and economies. This is an anti-competitive hostage situation we are in in the US. This is also anti-small business as many are run from home offices and co-location etc.

benihana 21 hours ago 5 replies      
I currently live in NYC, and I've lived in Raleigh. It seems pretty clear that tearing up New York City to lay fiber is a much more expensive and tedious process than it would be in Raleigh. The state and local governments also seem much more friendly to that kind of thing.
turing 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Woo! Moving to Mountain View in June, so I'm excited to see this.

On another note, I wonder if this will have any impact on the Comcast/Time Warner merger. Comcast has specifically called out Google Fiber as a source of legitimate competition in defending the merger[1]. With the announcement that Google could increase the number of Fiber cities 10-fold, that claim might have a little more weight.

1. http://gigaom.com/2014/02/13/comcast-cites-competition-from-...

aetherson 21 hours ago 16 replies      
I guess I fundamentally do not understand what makes a city a good or bad candidate for this kind of service. Why is SF or NY not an obvious candidate? Density means that there are lots of customers for a given physical length of infrastructure rollout, they're both wealthy cities with a large proportion of techies who could use faster internet...

I'm sure they're both nightmares to deal with permitting processes for. Is that it? Or is there something else that makes mid-tier, more spread-out cities more attractive?

rufugee 20 hours ago 8 replies      
It always surprises me how excited people get about Google Fiber, yet how up-in-arms they get about GMail, Google+ and other Google services which tend to invade and/or expose your privacy. Do you really think that using a advertising company's fiber as your gateway to the internet is going to offer a private experience? Don't you see how much easier it will make it for them to gather your personal details and habits? Do you really think Google won't use your data to their advantage?
seanalltogether 20 hours ago 3 replies      
The Denver-Boulder corridor is going to start losing it's place as one of the top tech startup areas in the country if it doesn't get itself on this list of potential fiber installs.
csense 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is there not a single city in the northeast or the Rust Belt?

Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh are all major cities that are at least "on the map" as far as tech is concerned. I know for a fact that the local authorities in Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland would bend over backwards for any project that has even the slightest whiff of economic development.

I can understand NYC being a special case that they don't want to deal with, but there are plenty of other cities in the region.

kgermino 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool to see they're expanding, but I'm disappointed to see that there's no love for the upper Midwest. Wouldn't expect it in Chicago but Milwaukee (where I am), Madison, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, and possibly a few smaller cities would all seem like reasonable candidates (although I acknowledge there's issues with all of them).
jjallen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Google Fiber will pass <~0.5% of total U.S. homes[0], even after they build out Austin and take over Provo. They have to start doing things much faster if they will make a dent this decade. Google is selectively building out 'fiber hoods' - neighborhoods that bend over backwards to get the service, pre commit and make construction super easy - not full cities, by any means.

Google Fiber was announced almost four years ago and has only a few tens of thousands of subscribers. While it's fun to get excited about what Google Fiber could be, it will be years before any material percentage of the country has the opportunity to use Google Fiber.

Google is still building out small neighborhoods in Kansas City [1]


alwaysdoit 18 hours ago 0 replies      
>Were asking cities to ensure that we, and other providers, can access and lease existing infrastructure.

This is probably my favorite part. They're not just trying to get special privileges for themselves, they are trying to level the barriers to entry so that there is actual competition in this space.

Moral_ 20 hours ago 0 replies      
At least for SLC there is already _Some_ fiber around the city: http://www.utopianet.org/

Much like Provo, I think google saw that utopia already had some infrastructure in place and wanted to swoop it up.

So while people are asking, why not this x,y,z city perhaps it's due to infrastructure not already being in place.

DigitalSea 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Google needs to bring Google Fiber to Australia. The coalition have plans for a fiber/copper hybrid in which the fibre runs to a box and then you connect via outdated copper from the street to your house. It's like driving a sports car 90% of the way and a horse and cart the rest of the 10% I think what Google are doing is great, they need to expand though. I know New Zealand could use something like Google Fiber as well.
epmatsw 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Atlanta! Looks like they're targeting the nicer suburbs too. My mom's going to get fiber before I am.
malandrew 21 hours ago 8 replies      
Why not San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and NYC?

San Francisco, NYC and Boston because they are big tech hubs where a lot of Googlers live and Washington D.C. because it is the seat of politics in this country and the best way to show what good can happen when we have broadband connectivity.

In fact, rolling out Google Fiber in the capital cities of each state makes the most sense in general. You lobby the political class by giving their home base (state capitals) excellent broadband.

jmgrosen 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Got my hopes up there for a little bit... if only they came to Santa Barbara -- we have plenty of tech people here willing to pay for awesome internet! (and get away from Cox...)

I'll keep dreaming :)

baddox 21 hours ago 1 reply      
How is the residential Internet in the San Jose area cities listed? I'm in SF, and I can't believe how bad the Internet service is. It's worse and more expensive than what I had 4 years ago in my Midwest town of 100k people.
georgemcbay 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Still no San Diego, but still happy to see this as the more Google Fiber expands within different regions the more the dinosaur ISPs in those regions will be forced to compete, hopefully rising boats even in areas not yet covered by Google Fiber.
teach 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It is hard to wait for signups to begin in Austin.
cpeterso 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The FAQ does not mention details about bandwidth other than "Internet thats up to 100 times faster than basic broadband", but Wikipedia says the free service is 5 Mbps down (1 Mbps up) and the pay service is 1 Gbps down and up.


tostitos1979 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Wish they had Google Fiber in Toronto :(
Deinos 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Love to see challenges to the pathetic cable monopolies. I'd be willing to pay more than I am now if it meant sticking it to TimeWarner.
jmharvey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When I saw the headline, I cringed. At this point, whenever I see a Google article titled, "The future of [google product]," I assume it's an announcement that the product is being phased out. Needless to say, I'm glad that's not what's happening here, but I'm still not holding my breath that Google Fiber is going to take over the world.
robryan 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Would love to see Google, or anyone, come shake up the Australian market. We are still beholden to low bandwidth, almost non existent upload and data usage caps.

We also have a national broadband network that most people will never see due to the politics played by the current government.

pyrocat 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Seriously? No Seattle?
ck2 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Google should install their fiber in the cities of corporate headquarters for at&t, time warner, quest, verizon, and cox.

Should have an interesting effect on the top-down mentality of price setting.

FCC also needs to rule ISPs as common carriers.

jusben1369 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"announce the next round of cities wholl be getting Google Fiber by the end of 2014."

- announce which cities are chosen by the end of 2014? or those cities that will have fiber in them by the end of 2014?

kickme444 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Excited for Salt Lake City. We are growing our reddit office there a lot. It's a really exciting city to be in and this helps us a lot!
tehaaron 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Very excited to see Portland,OR on the list! I'm tired of Comcast and the other options are quite lacking in one way or another.
help_wanted 20 hours ago 2 replies      
So excited to to see Nashville on this list. Our technology scene has been thriving recently and this only adds fuel to the fire.
mindcrime 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The Triangle region of NC would be a great place for Google to start with this.

Seriously, with all of the technology workers working in RTP, and all the university students in the area, as well as the emerging startup hub(s) in Durham and Raleigh, the area could really put Google Fiber to great use.

jusben1369 15 hours ago 0 replies      
how do people feel about mobile networks? In a lot of locations the speeds are getting as good as or better than broadband. They're cost ineffective right now for anything but short term tethering but that problem could be solved in 2 - 4 years. I just wonder if laying down fiber house to house is going to seem outdated in 5 years or so for anyone except the hard core work at home dev.
kushti 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to save money with Fiber, it's okay. But please use VPN with encryption or other traffic-encryption methods to no let Big Brother intercept all of your your data.
ensignavenger 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish Google would publish more technical information about their fiber project. I am quite interested in what equipment they have chosen, what types of cabling they are using, etc. (and why) Also, any other information that could be used by community internet providers looking to roll out fiber!
izzydata 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome. They added Leawood to the list of cities. Now they need to complete some of the neighboring areas they have already started on and make some progress. Although I wouldn't complain if they just abandoned those and started on Leawood.
shitlord 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I live near DC... shit! I wanted Google Fiber just for the awesome TV. DirecTV is incredibly awful. Hopefully they can expand to even more cities in the future.
voidlogic 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a single city in the upper-Midwest, Great Lakes region...:(
mje__ 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems one of the biggest costs of fiber is installation; i.e. trenching. Why is it not hung from poles? It must be much cheaper and quicker, surely?
fredgrott 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a question does the cities Google picks have anything to do with their CDN locations?
maxmax 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Always wondered why they didn't buy out Surewest or Consolidated Communications. Instant fiber subscriber base, right-of-ways, and complementary service areas. And the money found in Google's couch cushions would probably more than cover the costs. Easy way to add 100K subscribers...
quarterwave 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Does 'do no evil' include canonical net-neutrality, or will it end up like Animal Farm: but already it was impossible to say which was which.
dark_night_tim 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Is mountain view count as San Jose?
shmerl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Great. Google should just push for it everywhere gradually.
carsonreinke 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand, obviously there is a demand for this, so why aren't more companies rolling this stuff out? Give the people what they want!
dav- 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How is the free plan going to work? Are they going to monetize it somehow by collecting data or serving ads?
allsystemsgo 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Why San Antonio over Dallas/Houston?
SimpleXYZ 19 hours ago 0 replies      
So I guess I have a 1 in 34 chance of getting Google Fiber. Better than nothing...
lukateake 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Pfft. I'm waiting on Google Drone/Blimp; it solves the last-mile problem.
coreymgilmore 21 hours ago 0 replies      
anything to get away from Comcast or Time Warner helps the greater population!
tmnsam 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As an Englishman, I feel left out :(
shaaaaawn 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I live in Scottsdale and this is excellent news! Cox is the longstanding primary internet/cable provider here and their speeds are good but service is atrocious.
wil421 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice try Google, I was really happy about Atlanta until I saw the cities listed.

Most of the cities they listed are in very sketchy areas that probably dont even know the difference between their regular connection and a faster fiber connection.

Avondale Estates - not so niceBrookhaven - will probably benefitCollege Park - crime area, could care less about fiberDecatur - some areas will benefitEast Point - crime areaHapeville - crime areaSandy Springs - will benefit, lots of Apartment ComplexesSmyrna - will benefit in some areas

By The Time You Give Them a Raise, Theyre Already Out The Door quora.com
390 points by ChrisBland  2 days ago   368 comments top 38
tmoertel 2 days ago 16 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.
kabdib 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

GavinB 2 days 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.

Jormundir 2 days ago 4 replies      
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.

krstck 2 days ago 8 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 2 days ago 8 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?
sbt 2 days 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.

ryguytilidie 2 days ago 10 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.
pcrh 2 days 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.

adamors 2 days ago 2 replies      
> 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.

nahname 2 days 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.

noonespecial 2 days 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.

pjungwir 2 days ago 3 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.

programminggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be blunt, when you are earning less than $100k, when someone else is offering 10-20k more than you are currently making, you are (and probably should) going to take that deal. I've worked at companies with great culture and companies with crappy culture, and the reality for both was the same. When someone else values you higher, you start to feel like you're getting a bad deal and the things that you normally sweep under the rug start to grate on you.

Having a cool culture seems like the hot thing lately, and it can be a great thing, but if you use cool company culture to be cheap on salaries, you are putting money in the wrong place. I think most people at some point would rather work in shabbier offices and get paid more than have some fancy building that only serves to impress outsiders.

When you get over 6 figures, I'm sure it's the same deal, just takes larger numbers to move the needle. In either case, lack of above market compensation is going to cause talent to move if for no other reason than because they are in demand.

arecurrence 2 days ago 2 replies      
> 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.

fnordfnordfnord 2 days ago 2 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.

scrabble 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

alain94040 2 days ago 1 reply      
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

yalogin 2 days 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?

mbesto 2 days 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 2 days 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.

chavesn 2 days 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?

memracom 2 days 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.

mindvirus 2 days ago 4 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?

throwaway-to1 2 days 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.

sjs382 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is so true.

At my previous job, my boss continually told me that I was the most profitable employee and I was obviously one of the most valuable. One year in, I requested a performance review and it kept being delayed. 18 months in, still no formal performance review or raise. So, I started looking for another position and was offered a position with a great team.

I was set to put in my 2-weeks notice, the day after accepting the new position. Already "out the door", just prior to putting in my 2 weeks, I was asked if I was available for a review later that day.

Had my review come anytime between that 12 and 18 month mark, I likely would not have even looked for another position. I'm glad I did though, all things considered.

tjmc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just out of interest - where's the best place to find market rates?
skittles 2 days ago 1 reply      
Article says to talk to your talent at least once a quarter. You should do it once a week.
dangayle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great read. Seems to me that the trend of signing people to a specific contract term limit (2 or 3 years @ $X + benes) would solve some of this. When the contract is due for re-negotiating, there's none of this uncertainty over compensation.
Eleutheria 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I don't get at least a 10% raise to match inflation without even asking for it, I start looking for greener pastures.

If I deliver, you should reward accordingly without bargaining or brownnosing.

If I don't deliver, just fire me, no questions asked.

goofygrin 2 days 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.
zallarak 2 days 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.
31reasons 2 days 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.

gangster_dave 2 days 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?
Bahamut 2 days 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.
rrggrr 2 days 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.
Fenicio 2 days ago 0 replies      
You know, sometimes I look at these figures and i have to laugh, in Spain I make about 25k$ yearly pre-taxes and I'm considered "lucky"
balls187 2 days 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.
Big Breakthroughs Come in Your Late 30s theatlantic.com
361 points by ghosh  4 days ago   105 comments top 28
lkrubner 3 days ago 9 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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")

jupiterjaz 3 days 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.
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most of these people were working extraordinarily hard up to that point, though. Not necessarily hard at one thing. But hard.
onmydesk 3 days 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.

kev009 3 days 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.

sobes 3 days 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

ja30278 3 days 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.

dredmorbius 3 days 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.


callmeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a twenty-eighteen year old, this article made my Sunday.
sireat 3 days 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.

nraynaud 3 days ago 0 replies      
- Mom, it's not that I'm a slacker, it's just that I'm only 34!
thewarrior 3 days 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.
netcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
We ned to to make some serious progress on extending youth!
bhicks005 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I took away from the OP was... the curve keeps going after 35. Phew.
danso 3 days 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.
ekm2 3 days ago 0 replies      
For immigrants from relatively underdeveloped nations,add another 10 years.
loceng 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's mostly just related to having had enough time to work on a problem.
facepalm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or not - I'm over 40 without any big breakthroughs.
arikrak 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
The timing of this submission is impeccable. My 36th birthday was yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration!
notastartup 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post! I agree with this!
flibertgibit 3 days 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.

dhfjgkrgjg 3 days 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?
As much Stack Overflow as possible in 4096 bytes danlec.com
350 points by df07  2 days ago   72 comments top 27
mberning 2 days ago 5 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 2 days ago 4 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

Whitespace 2 days 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

cobookman 2 days ago 1 reply      
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....

derefr 2 days 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.

afhof 2 days 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.
nathancahill 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really fast! Love it. I thought the real site was fast until I clicked around on this.
blazespin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive! So incredibly fast.

My only thoughts are that search is the real bottleneck.

SmileyKeith 2 days 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.
nej 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow navigating around feels instant and it almost feels as if I'm hosting the site locally. Great job!
dclowd9901 2 days 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"

I would love to investigate this further. I've always had a suspicion that the aim to make everything reusable for the sake of bite size actually has the opposite effect, as you have to start writing in support and handling tons of edge cases as well, not to mention you now have to write unit test so anyone who consumes your work isn't burned by a refactor. Obviously, there's a place for things like underscore, jquery, and boilerplate code like Backbone, but bringing enterprise-level extensibility to client code is probably mostly a bad thing.

Jakob 2 days 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 2 days 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 ...

stefan_kendall 2 days 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?

arocks 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks broken on my Android mobile, but seriously this is incredible!

Wonder how we can unobfuscate the source. It would be great if there is a readable version of the source as well, just like we have in Obfuscated C Code Contests. Or perhaps, some way to use the Chrome inspector for this.

jonalmeida 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pages load almost instantly like as if it's a local webserver - I'm quite impressed.
TacticalCoder 2 days 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):


jazzdev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Impressive, and a useful exercise, but it doesn't seem practical to give up DRY in favor of RYRYRY just because it compresses better and saves a few bytes.
kislayverma 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very very awesome.

I'd take some trade-off between between crazy optimization and maintainability, but I'd definitely rather do this than slap on any number of frameworks because they are the new 'standard'.

Of course, the guy who has to maintain my code usually ends up crying like a little girl.

timtadh 2 days ago 1 reply      
funny, his compressor must do a better job than mine:

    $ curl -s http://danlec.com/st4k | wc         14      80    4096    $ curl -s http://danlec.com/st4k | gzip -cd | wc         17     311   11547    $ curl -s http://danlec.com/st4k | gzip -cd | gzip -c | wc         19     103    4098

shdon 2 days ago 0 replies      
His root element is "<html dl>". I'm not aware of the dl attribute even existing... Is that for compressibility or does the "dl" actually do something?
tantalor 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The stackoverflow logo is embedded?

Did you try a png data url? Could be smaller.

nandhp 2 days 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.
dangayle 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see a general list of techniques you use, as best practices.
iamdanfox 2 days 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'?
scoopr 2 days ago 1 reply      
There seems to be many bytes left! :)

   $ zopfli -c st4k |wc      11     127    4050

jpatel3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Way to go!
Facebook turned me down (2009) twitter.com
329 points by zachlatta  16 hours ago   151 comments top 23
chadillac 14 hours ago 6 replies      
Turned me down in 07' after a handful of phone interviews, flying me across the country, and 8 hours of in person interviews with 3 separate departments... but not before I got their CTO so shitfaced drunk he botched a 2AM code push to production and helped convince Zuckerbergs little sister into riding a mechanical bull.

I regret nothing.

edit: Worth noting I was a 22 year old self taught programmer that hadn't experienced addressing O(log n) in a CS course, working with massive amounts of data, or large scale Linux sysadmin stuff. I wasn't fit for the ranks when compared against ex Yahoo! and Google people running for the same positions. So at least I made the most of it.

edit2: I got the interview after finding a bug in their authentication system that would allow a password hash collision to spit out the e-mail of the user that the collision occurred with. Meaning I type in a bogus email, and a password, after the post the login form would come back with the email pre-populated of the user that the hash collision had happened on, I type in the password again, and I was logged in as said user. It was a small bug I found by accident and then afterwards asked if they were hiring...

edit3: http://i.imgur.com/sePVdgI.png

integraton 14 hours ago 4 replies      
It's interesting how neither of the founders fit any of the stereotypical valley founder profiles. They don't look like Mark Zuckerberg, they are older, Brian Acton barely used twitter, and his tech background is more traditional (C, C++, Perl, etc).
gojomo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Note that per Forbes [1], Brian Acton was Yahoo employee #44.

So it's not like Facebook (or Twitter) was overlooking a diamond-in-the-rough. More likely, it was some other key-role/compensation/fit mismatch.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/02/19/exclusive-...

firloop 15 hours ago 1 reply      
staunch 12 hours ago 0 replies      
So, in the movie The Social Messenger I hope we see a scene in which Facebook made a Final and Best offer to acquire and this guy said "No. One more billion. Because you turned me down." :-
waterlesscloud 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Turns out false negatives can be pretty costly too, it seems.
curiousDog 12 hours ago 1 reply      
In this case, he was probably rejected more for fit/pay/cultural reasons but this should be a reminder for candidates to never be dejected when they're turned down by these companies. I have a friend who tried to kill himself because he failed the Google interview. Rejection by the "smartest" engineers at this companies is by no means an invalidation of your abilities. At the end of the day, none of them are solving the grand unified theory.
hendzen 14 hours ago 5 replies      
"We only hire the best engineers"
georgemcbay 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Coincidental hindsight aside, just given his background as it stood in the 2009 timeframe I'd love to be a time traveling fly on the wall to see his interviews and/or the decision making process that had both Facebook and Twitter passing on him.
NAFV_P 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask Threaders:

What code does Zuckerberg write? I've seen the film and googled "mark zuckerberg". From what I gather, he did some programming in Atari BASIC, and he's just another perl hacker. Common sense would conclude that he is multi-lingual (yeah, I'm aware he was rusty a year or two ago), but does anyone know any specifics?

erict19 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Just goes to show, on paper, founders aren't always the most appealing employees.
drawkbox 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Sweet victory. They didn't hire so he built it anyways.
return0 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What's that latest tweet of him? Probably a misspelling ;)
kldavenport 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like he won't have to worry about working for a living anymore...
ycmike 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this post now is rather appropriate http://www.paulgraham.com/determination.html Imagine a world where he would of given up.
skyebook 13 hours ago 0 replies      
And yet in both cases of being denied by Twitter and Facebook he aired the negative news and kept a positive outlook.

That's the sign of a smart person in my book.

JeremyMorgan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Fine! If you guys won't hire me I'll go out and start my own world dominating business you'll want to buy and then you'll have to.

See you in a few years suckers!

datawander 13 hours ago 2 replies      
NYTimes actually pointed out another curiously-related Tweet [0] from the other co-founder, Jan Koum:

"totally agree with Vinod Khosla. people starting companies for a quick sale are a disgrace to the valley...3:47 AM - 17 Jul 2012"

[0] https://twitter.com/jankoum/statuses/225134737285578752

edit: I am not criticizing Jan at all and would gladly do the same given the same position.

vagarwa 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Well he turned Surfmark down and decided to follow his gut :)(Some 'gut' that was!)https://twitter.com/brianacton/status/1997180708

And I have 'immortalized' this using...surfmarkhttp://www.surfmark.com/viewsm/GzFRmNKFeUqCGZBiZRzChw#page1

Untit1ed 13 hours ago 0 replies      
If success is the best revenge, this guy is god-tier.
balls187 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like a pretty smart way to get a job at Facebook.
Kiro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
He was too expensive.
kimonos 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool! Haha!
Your Path to a $16B exit? Build a J2ME App blog.textit.in
325 points by nicpottier  9 hours ago   176 comments top 41
avenger123 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The message of the article is good but it's not seeing the forest from the trees.

Having just read the Forbes artcile on the company and Jan in particular, some interesting things stood out:

1) Jan had money to start and was able to take time to build a user base and find the real value in the App and didn't need to go around "raising money". The SMS component of the app wasn't the initial focus. The company didn't need VC funding at any point. He was able to focus on product development and revenues started to come in to cover costs.

2) Jan is a technical guy. He did the initial backend but hired out the iPhone development. Either way he was involved. He developed the initial app for the first 9 months or so before bringing on Ackon as a cofounder.

3) There is real value in the app. No one needs to question this. There's no big pitch deck's, presentations, etc.The app was allowed to grow organically due to its network affect. The business can scale into the millions and billions of users.

The $16 billion exit is largely due to number 3. It's rare for a lot of businesses to have that kind of scale.

Reading the Forbes article, my takeaway is that there is no way anyone can "build a path to a xx billion exit". What one can do is find a business model that can actually scale and generate real revenue. Maybe not to billion users or hundreds of millions in revenue but enough to take it outside of the "lifestyle" business mode. Also, having money of your own and technical skills to execute doesn't hurt one bit.

I think one lesson that I would take away for the younger crowd is - slow down a bit. Go work for a big corp or even a startup that pays well. Save every penny. Instead of spending that $100 on the get together every other night save it. Build your skills. At some point, go for it. You'll have money to live off, money to test your business model and a fallback if it doesn't work (get another job).

EDIT: Another big reason for the big exit is incredible leverage by Jan. He's got the most equity. He doesn't need Facebook. He is already a millionaire and the App can only get better. This is deal making at its finest. I can only imagine how much back and forth happened, each time with a bigger number from Facebook.

coenhyde 8 hours ago 3 replies      
The key take away from this article is not to build your app in J2ME but to recognize how big the world is outside of America. American focused startups face lots of competition in a relatively small market.
antirez 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The j2me is just a piece of "it just works".

1) Covers a huge amount of devices. Yep, because j2me, but also because what could be the top-1 competitor, Apple iMessage, can't inter-operate between Apple and Android devices (very stupid tactic, it will get marginalized).

2) Does not require an account, so it is not bound to Facebook, Twitter, ... You may ask, what's the problem with having an account? That you capture in your use base non-social people. Hey mom, put this in your phone and we'll exchange messages for free.

3) Because it just works and is not bound to a specific social network / company, people see it as SMS that is both free (hugely important because of stupidly overpriced SMS are, and especially, were). And... an improved version of SMS because MMS are totally a fail: limited, costly, lame.

4) Add to this business smartness behind that: old users don't pay for premium accounts, no ADV, resist to the temptation of fixing what is irrelevant for the mass of people (security) if this impacts in any way the product aspect (no account, trivial recovery of the account if you change phone).

5) Add to this product/technology smartness: don't archive messages server side so the service runs with 1/100 of resources. No huge scaling issues.

So this is just a very very very well executed product, that was able to provide what users wanted, and this is why they did a 16B deal, not for the j2me app, every successful business is a mix of a number of critical things.

The ground that made this possible was the incredible situation where on the internet era you had to pay 10 cents to exchange 160 chars between two phones.

dhawalhs 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A comment [1] I made 829 days ago on Whatsapp

Its biggest plus is that it is cross platform. They have apps for Blackberry, Android, iOS and Symbian. So you can talk with almost anybody out there. At least in my home country, most people have Blackberry/Symbian. Imagine having a group conversation with people on different platforms and in different countries.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3231053

keerthiko 6 hours ago 5 replies      
This. This is the answer I have always looked for.

> "But, but, how is WhatsApp any different than iMessage / Facebook Messenger / Hangouts?"

I have made this exclamation multiple times, and my friends in India and Singapore and other parts of Asia just turned up their palms with a "I dunno, everyone uses it and told me to get it."

I refused to use it since I like to use as few messaging platforms as possible (just Google Hangouts right now since it has most of my contacts, voice and video) despite my friends pestering me.

J2ME is the most reasonable explanation. I see why it made Whatsapp itself popular. But still? Almost everyone I know who's using it actually uses it on an Android/iOS smart device. Who is this "everyone" of theirs using it on feature phones? I doubt their friends circle intersects that heavily with rural villagers living on $10/day.

And also, is this really a viable long-term play for Facebook? How does this contribute towards the rest of their product plays?

colin_mccabe 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Let's not forget Symbian and Blackberry either. WhatsApp also runs on those.

I don't think starting a new Blackberry, Symbian or J2ME project today is really a good idea, though. It takes at least a few years for a company to make an exit, and by the time you do, those burning platforms will have flamed out.

chubot 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty ignorant about whatsapp, but I paged through their blog a couple hours ago, before reading this post (https://blog.whatsapp.com/).

And the fact that they had blog posts about Windows Mobile, Nokia, and Blackberry clients really stood out.

I think Google, Facebook et al probably prioritize those platforms last, if at all. So kudos to Whatsapp for their contrarian thinking.

Their blog also shows the achievements of 1M and 2M simultaneous connections on a box, which I remember seeing here before on HN. So these guys are also very talented and experienced engineers.

mik3y 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Citation needed; I'd certainly love to know whether J2ME devices were a significant chunk of WhatsApp's actives, but there's zero data to back up the suggestion..
gojomo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If anyone has used the J2ME version of WhatsApp, can they describe how similar it is to the smartphone versions?

For example:

Do you get a notification as soon as messages are waiting, even if the J2ME app hasn't been run recently?

Are photo/video messages available?

Are the group messaging options the same?

ck2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty sure facebook could give a darn about the app, they are buying access to the customers, to either get their data or show them ads. The app itself will probably be bloated or ruined within a couple years.
_pmf_ 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Writing J2ME apps is no cakewalk.

It's a bizarre perversion of everything that makes software development bearable. I've created my share of horribly cobbled-together ad-hoc embedded software development toolchains, but these can't hold a candle to the abysmal monstrosity of a vendor-patched J2ME SDK.

72deluxe 6 hours ago 1 reply      
J2ME is interesting. Each phone supported Java Specification Requests (JSRs) and you could look up which JSRs a phone supported. For example, JSR82 is some Bluetooth supporty thing.

The real problem was that between different phones and JSRs, some implementations were really bad (I remember having a Nokia 6500slide with dodgy implementations) and varied between phone models. This was especially odd on Nokia phones considering that there were hundreds of phones running S40 or S60 and yet there were differences between those phones. (If I recall correctly, I had a 5200 and 5300 and there were differences between them). Highly unreliable.

But $16bn unreliable for testing? Not sure. Well done for getting bought though.

loup-vaillant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny how Paul Graham came up with "schlep blindness"[1]: It's a subset of LessWrong's "ugh fields"[2].

[1]: http://paulgraham.com/schlep.html

[2]: http://lesswrong.com/lw/21b/ugh_fields/

transfire 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome, now Facebook can spy on everybody!
brisance 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Framed another way, it goes to demonstrate the ridiculous price paid for the company. How are the "other 3 billion people" without smartphones going to contribute to Facebook's bottom line? When they don't even have Facebook? That they don't even view ads? And that the cost of switching is practically close to zero, with many other competitive products like WeChat?

It all seems to me that it's just to pad the "total number of active users on Facebook and associated platforms" column during earnings season.

dlhavema 8 hours ago 2 replies      
i dabbled with some J2ME development back in the day when palm pilots were cool, i even made a basic app for the original (early 2000-ish ) Motorola Razer.. it's not easy at all... i haven't looked for community resources for J2ME in years but back then i could find hardly any...
apunic 8 hours ago 1 reply      

Whatsapp didn't start with a J2ME app, they started with the smartphone versions first and later they provided J2ME versions when they had already significant market share.

sandeepspatil 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The article makes it sound a big deal to develop J2ME app. This app basically has just 2 screens, so I wouldn't think it would be any big deal to replicate those screens across platforms. Their challenge is more on the server-side, scaling for all the billions of users that they have - again, no big deal for plain text but mostly the pictures and the videos that are shared ...few big datacenters somewhere...again, nothing great. And hey, they dont even support voice calls. I dont buy that the app itself is a deal breaker. It's mostly their user base that they have been paid for.
doczoidberg 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The key success of Whatsapp is IMHO that it uses your phone's address book as contact list. There is no hurdle to use it what is very important for the average user.The multi platform support from beginning is second thing. J2ME as stated in the article is negligible. I can't understand why this article is on top of HN.
enscr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Really? The viral growth & popularity of Whatsapp is due to early J2ME versions rather than the widespread adoption of Android.I think it's the latter but maybe I'm mistaken.
rglullis 5 hours ago 2 replies      
On the other hand, how does Facebook expect to monetize these millions of users who are living on $10/day?

The number being thrown around yesterday was that Facebook paid $40/user. Bearing in mind that a good percentage of these users will never provide any ROI, it is one more reason to look like it was way overvalued.

vayarajesh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the key reasons whatsApp was successful was the simplicity for the user to start communicating - No registration or username creation hence allowing users not to care about remembering passwords. Another important feature was that the user did not have to search for their friends in family if they were on whatsapp and then add them or send request etc. They used the phone number and users phone book. If you have a friend uses whatsapp it will automatically show you.

WhatsApps is easy, simple, quick and beautiful! so the path to $16B exit is not a J2ME app but an idea to get users start communicating with minimum amount of effort and time.

buster 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For this article to really make sense, we will need to know how many J2ME users _really_ us Whatsapp.Yes, there are many users with featurephones. But how many of them use Internet on it? Can i afford an internet flatrate with 20$/month income? Nope.
kyberias 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just amazing example of cargo-cult phenomenon! The idea that using a particular technology (here J2ME) would allow one to get a $16B exit. Hilarious!
swah 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Also, at least in Brazil, Whatsapp became a tool for journalists on the streets. A very interesting use...
fredgrott 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Only problem is that low cost android is disrupting that, which I imagine is part of the reason for the decline in fb stock price seen yesterday.
porker 6 hours ago 5 replies      
OK, how is Whatsapp different to using SMS to communicate with friends? What am I missing?
yungether 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else chuckle at the title including "Path"?
sgloutnikov 6 hours ago 0 replies      
http://openwhatsapp.org - One example of how powerful the community around WhatsApp has been. Certainly loved it when I was on my Nokia N9.
szatkus 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"And you know what, on $10 a day you probably don't have an iPhone or an Android handset."

Most people I know who earn ~10$ a day have smartphones with Android or WP.

krisgenre 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One more thing.. I doubt anyone 'updates' a J2ME app, they had to get most of the stuff working perfectly the first time itself.
ausjke 1 hour ago 0 replies      
it looks so much like WeChat from Tencent(one of the largest IT company in China), and WeChat is totally free.
pastylegs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is WhatsApp popular in the states? I'm Irish and living in Spain and in both countries it's incredibly popular. Most of my communication is channeled through it (I'd rather send a WhatsApp then call in most cases)
webdisrupt 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I completely agree with most comments about catering for most operating systems but I also think that this acquisition was also due to Facebook "panicking" about losing ground (e.g. teens) and WhatsApp having a great number of monthly active users.
sibbl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Guess how long ICQ has a J2ME app...
trhway 6 hours ago 0 replies      
reminds me about Sun buying StorageTek for 4B - a company whose technology and market had very visible end. J2ME on smartphones - basically an oxymoron if one knows why and how J2ME was designed 15 years ago - doesn't seem to be happening (despite predictable post-WhatsApp influx of crazy VC money into such combination in the next half year) and cheap $10-$20 smartphones are the next billions of devices.
dschiptsov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I is only me who is thinking that everything that worth $16B is happened on the server side and J2ME is just a crap?)
notastartup 6 hours ago 0 replies      
can someone explain how a free app ends up generating $40 per user?

more importantly, if facebook keeps buying large MAU at costs exceeding their revenues (not profit), at what point will those purchases start generating revenues (if at all)?

at what point will they no longer have money to buy MAU or even generate revenue on those users they purchased and own?

Are we in a new economy now just like 1999?

theknown99 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Your path to happiness? Don't be so obsessed with money. Build something that's fun, and meaningful, that makes you, and others happy.
cturhan 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Facebook paid 16B Dollars for 400,000,000 active phone numbers and all the personal info bound to them. It's not the app itself it's the data, you know it well too.
teemo_cute 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You forgot the marketing and promotion. (BTW I'm a techie trying to be a humanie :)
The C10M problem robertgraham.com
317 points by z_  3 days ago   114 comments top 25
erichocean 3 days 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 3 days 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 2 days 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

jared314 3 days ago 0 replies      
joosters 3 days 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 3 days 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...

rdtsc 3 days 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.

leoh 3 days 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/).
cjbprime 3 days 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..

ehsanu1 3 days 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

Aloisius 2 days 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).

swah 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
At the risk of sounding dumb, aren't we still limited to 65,534 ports on an interface?
voltagex_ 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article on High Scalability also covers part of the problem: http://highscalability.com/blog/2014/2/5/littles-law-scalabi...
dschiptsov 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this more-or-less how mainframes work?
eranation 3 days 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?
nwmcsween 3 days ago 1 reply      
So an exokernel?
ganessh 3 days 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 3 days 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.

zerop 3 days 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 3 days 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.
I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society nymag.com
305 points by siromoney  2 days ago   101 comments top 24
jackgavigan 2 days ago 8 replies      
So it turns out that the wealthy and powerful are just like the rest of us - they like getting together in private with their friends to have raucous, alcohol-fuelled fun, and tell politically-incorrect jokes to one another.

I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

It's just as well we don't live in a glass house! It would be pretty embarrassing if tech industry people were to spend millions on, say a lavish, LotR-themed wedding. Or if our awards ceremonies attracted protesters.

mrspeaker 2 days ago 3 replies      
Comments on these kind of articles on Hacker News are always more defensive than I'd imagine. I think we have a weird mix of people where 50% are "hackers of computers" who'd do this shit for free, and will be doing it until they die and 50% are "hackers of society" who are here because they see an opportunity to make it to "big time" without having to have the right parents/schools etc.

It's strange how most of the time the two groups get along so well!

quanticle 2 days ago 6 replies      
The problem isn't with the wealthy. Wealthy and powerful people have been behaving badly behind closed doors since at least the Roman Empire, and probably before then as well. The problem is with us. Why don't we hold them accountable for their misdeeds? Why do we buy into their rhetoric that they are the job creators? Why do we give equal time to their views that they are being persecuted like Jews during Kristallnacht, when the events of the last few years have show that, if anything the opposite is true?

I think articles like this, honestly, are a disservice. They're comfortable. They're easy. They put the blame on the wealthy -- "Oh look, those billionaires and plutocrats are at it again!" -- without asking the real question: what systemic changes can we work towards today to ensure that people like Vikram Pandit, Dick Fuld and Jimmy Cayne can't wreak the same kind of havoc that they did in 2007? What can we do to ensure that people appreciate the impact that obscure financial regulations have on their everyday lives?

jrockway 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm tired of hearing the term "the 1%" used for stuff like this. The 1% is 3,000,000 Americans. I've seen income figures for that demographic ranging between $160,000 and $500,000 a year. The lower end is pretty much in reach of any professional working in New York or San Francisco with more than a few years of experience. (This is total compensation, 401k matching, stock, etc.) All this tells you is that the population mostly lives in expensive areas; rent in New York City can be 10x higher than elsewhere in the US.

I'll tell you as someone around that income range in New York... I don't get invited to parties where we discuss how to screw over the working man. I ride my bike to work, spend half the day there, ride my bike around Brooklyn, watch some TV on a 720p LCD that I bought 6 or 7 years ago, and then go to bed in my bedroom that's too small to actually contain a bed. (The mattress fits.)

Admittedly, I've accumulated some savings this way, but still, New York is really fucking expensive, and it's not hard to spend make what sounds like a lot of money on ordinary things like food and shelter in non-premium neighborhoods.

netcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
In many ways we are politically a primitive society. Technology evolves faster than culture. We are still (and this is especially evident on HN) thinking in mid 20th century paradigms, remnants of half dead ideologies and long dead political maneuvering. Just because these ideas have evolved over time does not mean they are not half baked. That doesn't stop people from treating them like a matter of personal identity.

The "Left" believes extreme wealth will inevitably corrupt the political process. It's naive to think that billionaires will not use their money to buy power and more wealth. The "Right" thinks that the state will inevitably corrupt business and/or be corrupted by wealth. It's naive to think that bureaucrats with a rubber stamps that adds a zero to the value of land or a semi legitimate patent into an 8 figure asset asset will not be corrupted by wealth. They call it regulatory capture.

IMO both these views, if we call them views are impoverished. They rely on economic and political narratives that have "capital" & "labour" as their basis. They are based on the idea that trade between Moscow & Vladivostok is different to trade between Moscow & Milan.

We're always looking for ways to address power & money and their role in our world. We're still not there.

yummyfajitas 2 days ago 4 replies      
I found this the most telling part of the article: The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting.

Based on the few I've met, these sorts of people aren't exactly shrinking violets. Yet they live in fear that the rest of society will learn their opinions and that bad things will come of it.

Back in the tech world, it makes me think of the attacks on Pax Dickinson and Paul Graham. No matter how rich, powerful and competent you are, you live in fear of the opinion makers accusing you of sexism/homophobia/insensitivity/etc.

Definitely makes it clear where the real power lies in our society.

tomp 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The jokes ranged from unfunny and sexist (Q: Whats the biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and a catfish? A: One has whiskers and stinks, and the other is a fish) to unfunny and homophobic (Q: Whats the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank? A: Barney Frank comes in different-size buns).

We've got jokes about policeman, about blondes, about the French, about mostly everybody... So, if the target of a joke is a woman, it doesn't mean that it's a sexist joke, and a joke about being gay isn't a homophobic joke. If anything, making fun of something means accepting is as normal, as part of everyday life!

rjtavares 2 days ago 0 replies      
So people who rule Wall Street are sexist and homophobic. I'm surprised... that some of those things seemed actually funny (a parody of ABBAs Dancing Queen called Bailout King" has to be funny).

On a more serious note: congrats on the reporter for having the balls to crash that party. Most things were expected, and properly offensive. But I don't understand the shock at finance themed parody songs.

spindritf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone told a homophobic joke, that's it? @GSElevator[1] does more hard-hitting reporting.

If we're going to be upvoting TMZ-style articles, they could at least be properly scandalous.

[1] https://twitter.com/GSElevator

swalsh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd bet the articles he would have gotten from these people as trusted sources would have been exponentially better than this piece.

This is just a bunch of guys hanging out with the only group of people who understand their pressures. There's no conspiracy here, there's no "great insight" to be had. I'm angry I wasted my time reading the article.

zacinbusiness 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think any of the antics of these guys should be a surprise. I mean they are all at the top of the finance ladder, and you don't get there without being a psychopath.
teddyh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Original title, and current headline: 1% Jokes and Plutocrats In Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society
ballerindustry 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really see the problem with them telling insensitive jokes and acting like idiots in their time off. How they act at work is more important. Pretty stupid article.
mercurialshark 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really hope this guys 1% reference is metaphorical. You can be in the 1% and not be able to afford a weekend stay at the St. Regis.

But you wouldn't expect accuracy from a guy who appears genuinely surprised that financial executives have a club. Guess what? Sometimes, they play golf and tennis together too. Someone alert the SEC...

junto 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'll just leave this here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Pyramid_o...

This isn't new and it is unlikely to change unless Tyler Durden comes along.

yuhong 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was a HN thread that suggested that Eric Schmidt be fired after the anti poaching scandal.
bhousel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone in the wall street secret society plz send me an invite? Email is in my HN profile, kthx.
Cless 2 days ago 0 replies      
The plutocrats are right. Of course they are being persecuted. I guess that's what happens when you have done everything in your power to redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top. But then again, trickle-down economics has worked wonders for society.
carlob 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the Simpsons' Republican party headquarters.
siromoney 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't crash the Wall Street secret society :) the article is adapted from Kevin Rooses book Young Money
etanazir 2 days ago 0 replies      
The rhetoric is competition; the reality a cabal.
michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Main takeaway: these guys aren't evil in the Sith Lord sense, but they're also completely not up to leadership. Rather than being cosmically evil, they're just a bit dumb, a bit insensitive, and a bit sad. Reality, for them, is emasculating and disempowering, but also humanizing.
Cowicide 2 days ago 0 replies      
Megalomaniacs are also sociopaths. Who knew?
winn-dixie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why did he wait two years to publish this article? Did he (attempt to) take advantage of what was revealed before publishing?
Why is the mouse cursor slightly tilted and not straight? stackexchange.com
306 points by attheodo  3 days ago   103 comments top 24
Stratoscope 2 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 2 days 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.
ebbv 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
ck2 3 days ago 1 reply      
We owe so much to xerox, did they ever make money off all that R&D ?
jere 2 days 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.
ZoF 2 days 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 2 days 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.

coley 2 days 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

Aoyagi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I tried a straight upwards cursor once. It felt terrible. The tilt gives the cursor "extended hand" feel.
cl8ton 2 days 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.

GoofballJones 3 days 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.

gchokov 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are so many little stuff left for ages due to technical limitations back them. It's fascinating.
sidcool 3 days 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.
dudus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have we run out of questions for SE?
indubitably 2 days ago 0 replies      
jokoon 2 days ago 1 reply      
still no way to change the cursors under mac os x ?
acex 2 days ago 0 replies      
or why is tilted from bottom-right to top-left. ;)
kimonos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great question!
rckrd 2 days 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 3 days 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.
Show HN: I redesigned the Microsoft employee badge alp.im
303 points by aalpbalkan  2 days ago   150 comments top 42
kayfox 2 days ago 12 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 2 days 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.

ohwp 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of designers make one big mistake. They design the content too. But content can't be designed.

For example the name. All his designs use short names because they look beautiful. But in real life names can be much longer.

And ofcourse the pictures. It's nice to have round pictures but it is almost impossible to get nice round pictures from every employee.

So when you are designing (and this doesn't only apply to graphic design): test your design using a lot of different content:

  Will it still work with longer names?  Will it still work with middle names?  Will it still work with bad / rectangle pictures?

gilgoomesh 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm fascinated by a separate point that this badge raises: the "Microsoft" logo is now the "Windows" logo.
normloman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god, what is with the stupid "face in a circle"? I get that everybody's following the circle trend, but how does putting a face in a circle make your design more functional?

Also, there's a reason why badges photos are taken from the same angle. It makes it easier to identify you from your photo. It's harder to recognize someone from an odd angle. Same goes for photographing on a white backdrop. Your personal photos have all this distracting scenery to impede identification.

This is not design. Design makes things work better. This is just decoration.

cormullion 2 days ago 0 replies      
One suggestion when doing address-book related design work is to add names such as Jet Li, Arianna Stassinopoulos, Ho Chi Minh, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Prince (or more appropriate real names) that are annoyingly short or frustratingly long, or otherwise non-standard, such as consisting of three or one components instead of the more conventional two. Better to know in advance of any layout problems you'll face ... :)
reddiric 2 days ago 4 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 2 days ago 1 reply      
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 2 days 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.

pshin45 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remarkable how much the old badge [1] resembles the original Nintendo Game Boy [2].

[1] https://ahmetalpbalkan.com/blog/static/images/2014/02/old-fr...

[2] http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Nintendo_...

jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like Google's badges:

* Dual-sided, so it's never facing the wrong way out. (No dual-sided printer required, they are glued onto the underlying RFID card.)

* RFID, so there is no sensitive information on the badge.

* The face takes up most of the badge, so it's easy to check if it looks reasonable when someone is following you through the door.

* The face is 3D, which is just plain cool.

* The first name is larger than the last name, making it a little easier to glance over at someone's badge when you've forgotten their name. (This happens to me with frightening regularity.)

Scaevolus 2 days 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.

pmorici 2 days 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.
MrHeartBroken 2 days 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...
zaidf 2 days 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.

dlevine 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was an intern at MS in 2001, and this weekend when I was going through my box of old memorabilia, I found a badge identical to the "current" badge.

Probably time for a redesign...

rlu 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sure a badge redesign is in the works. I'd be surprised if there isn't a new badge (at least with updated logo) by this time next year.

Depending on how much it ends up changing, old employees might not be forced to get a new badge. In that case, it'll eventually be a funny way to differentiate employees from before/after the "Reorg/Satya Epoch" haha.

dashster18 2 days ago 0 replies      
The colorful window logo isn't the Windows logo. Microsoft recently changed their logo to that in 2012.
tga 2 days ago 2 replies      
Trying to "think like a user", with the exception of updating the logo, the badges are identical. Nobody would really notice the change, let alone care about the text alignment on their security badge.

Take this as constructive criticism, this is the kind of thing that you can waste a lot of time on without scoring any points with your users/customer/management.

b2themax 2 days 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.
icambron 2 days 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.
pitchups 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not to be a contrarian, but am I the only one who finds the entire concept of badges antiquated to begin with. With today's technology, why not use RFIDs or a smartphone that automatically signs you in, alerts security if your tag is invalid etc. Wouldn't that be a lot easier to use, more secure, and probably cheaper too?
richardwhiuk 2 days 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

ibmthrowaway218 2 days ago 1 reply      
FWIW the IBM badge has:-

* The 8-bar company logo

* The country of issue

* Name

* Photo

On the back is a magstripe (not really used any more) and central return address in case it is found.

It has an RFID for door access and to store cash for vending-machines and the restaurant.

No employee number anywhere. I have to remember that (along with the passwords for seventy-six different systems.)

Contractors have a yellow background for the name.

ID cards have to be on display at all times, so many wear them on a lanyard or clipped to a belt loop.

urs2102 2 days 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?
bambax 2 days ago 1 reply      
God I hate badges.

Cattle wear numbers on their ears. Prisoners too, in some prison systems (but not all). How can people accept to wear a number on them, I don't know. Even a name; what's a name? I resent being defined by my birth name. I have many names, pseudonyms, handles, etc.

I'm not an employee so I never get a badge with my picture on it; when I go to clients' sites they usually give me a "guest" badge that I promptly put in my coat's pocket, only to give it back at the end of the day.

It's never happened that I needed it for anything anyway (and that includes Microsoft (France)).

codex 2 days 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.

willcodeforfoo 2 days 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.
aestra 2 days ago 0 replies      
So why is the employee id sensitive information?

Why do you care that your badge picture is ugly? Seriously? Do you also expect to take a picture of you kayaking at the lake to the DMV?

WalterBright 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd make the name larger. Not everybody has 20 year old eyesight.
magic_haze 2 days ago 7 replies      
I don't understand why a badge is necessary in the first place. Won't NFC on a phone suffice?
hubtree 2 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft employees obviously need to spend more time rafting. That's what I'm getting from this.
codex 2 days 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.
exo_duz 2 days 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 :)
Eleutheria 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! Now put some QRCodes on it so people can get bitcoin donations.

Oh, and NFC tag for auto check-in, computer log in, cafeteria, snacks, etc.

greatsuccess 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

fbeans 2 days ago 0 replies      
I literally couldn't care less about the design of a MS employee badge.
johnward 2 days ago 0 replies      
Spending time to redesign something that doesn't matter. There is an MS joke in here somewhere.
zorker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Every Microsoft employee is now on the Windows 9 development team?

That doesn't seem right.

waxy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just as an off topic, not even microsoft employees use outlook.
diestl 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a real company man, holy crap!, spending your own time redesigning the your employers badge is really quite sad.

Microsoft is known for hiring young gullible people and indoctrinating them with the idea that MS is a good company rather than the reason the software industry was held back for decades, using illegal tactics. If it could have killed open source it would have.

joncp 2 days 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.

Drawing as a programmer gameofworlds.tumblr.com
284 points by cinskiy  3 days ago   110 comments top 26
egypturnash 2 days 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.

martin-adams 3 days 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.

lutusp 2 days 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

krick 3 days 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.

Morendil 3 days ago 1 reply      
Want to make your 10-minute drawing breaks more fun? Try Drawception: http://drawception.com/
frooxie 3 days 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.)

kenshiro_o 3 days 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?

b0rsuk 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

pirateking 3 days 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.
gk1 2 days 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.)

jaegerpicker 3 days 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.

louischiffre 2 days ago 0 replies      
Long time lurker here. I am also a programmer who started to learn how to draw. I even put a blog documenting the process. http://louislearnstodraw.blogspot.ch/So here is my 2 cent.Drawing is definitely more than being able to reproduce a 3d object on a 2d surface, it's about understanding how things are constructed and work. For example if you want to draw a steam locomotive, you have to understand what are the parts of a steam engine, how power is generated and transferred to the wheels, how it is built, why the parts have this shape, ... . If you don't have this understanding, there is no way you can draw a steam locomotive from imagination. Of course you can do a nice copy with beautiful rendering that will look nice, but drawing something that is realistic will be very difficult.Since I started learning to draw, I learned a lot of things on a variety of subjects: entomology, anatomy, marine biology, history, technology,... When I visit a new city the first thing I look up are the museums, where I then go to draw.I could elaborate more on that subject but I have to run. Let me know if there is any interest.
beobab 3 days 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."
nsxwolf 2 days ago 1 reply      
I could never draw that stick figure. It has a certain flair I could never replicate. That led me to be instantly disheartened when reading this.
mcv 3 days 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.
poseid 3 days 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.
rsl7 3 days 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.
larve 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

euph0ria 3 days ago 1 reply      
Which hacker news article did the post refer to?
pjgomez 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic article. As an ex-avid comic book reader and programmer, it certainly turns on some old hopes to draw better.
sarreph 3 days ago 4 replies      
Wouldn't other left-brain activity, such as playing a musical instrument, have the same effect?
bharatFNS 2 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is "computer art". We have simple succeeded in making this discipline a science. All by deciding to call the discipline "computer science".
adcoelho 2 days 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.
loladesoto 3 days 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.)

enbrill 3 days 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.
dusan82 3 days ago 3 replies      
As a programmer, I think (y)our hobbies should be non-visual. E.g. music, learning spoken languages, etc...
Machines are better referees than humans but well be sued if we use them cam.ac.uk
282 points by inglesp  1 day ago   60 comments top 15
Blahah 1 day ago 3 replies      
Peter Murray Rust (author of this blog post) is a really great man. He's been a tireless advocate for dismantling privelege and setting knowledge free for several decades. I'm proud to say he's becoming a sort of mentor to me. Last week I spent a couple of days with his research group and saw this software in action - it's really impressive.

They can take an ancient paper with very low quality diagrams of complex chemical structures, parse the image into an open markup language and reconstruct the chemical formula and the correct image. Chemical symbols are just one of many plugins for their core software which interprets unstructured, information rich data like raster diagrams. They also have plugins for phylogenetic trees, plots, species names, gene names and reagents. You can develop plugins easily for whatever you want, and they're recruiting open source contributors (see https://solvers.io/projects/QADhJNcCkcKXfiCQ6, https://solvers.io/projects/4K3cvLEoHQqhhzBan).

As a side effect of how their software works, it can detect tiny suggestive imperfections in images that reveal scientific fraud. I was shown a demo where a trace from a mass spec (like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ObwiedniaPeptydu.gif) was analysed. As well as reading the data from the plot, it revealed a peak that had been covered up with a square - the author had deliberately obscured a peak in their data that was inconvenient. Scientific fraud. It's terrifying that they find this in most chemistry papers they analyse.

Peter's group can analyse thousands or hundreds of thousands of papers an hour, automatically detecting errors and fraud and simultaneously making the data, which are facts and therefore not copyrightable, free. This is one of the best things that has happened to science in many years, except that publishers deliberately prevent it. Their work also made me realise it would be possible to continue Aaron Swartz' work on a much bigger scale (http://blahah.net/2014/02/11/knowledge-sets-us-free/).

Academic publishers who are suppressing this are literally the enemies of humanity.

JackFr 1 day ago 0 replies      
This should be supported (both financially and ideologically) by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. The NIH doles out about $30 billion in research grants every year. If they could spend a tiny fraction of a percent to dramatically improve the quality of the rest and make such automatic checking a standard practice that would be tremendous bang for the buck.

Oh yeah -- and they're big enough to fight academic publishers.

atmosx 1 day ago 4 replies      
When I asked my journalist friend, why in football (soccer) games the ref don't use high-tech, he thought about it for 5 minutes and then told me: "If they use technology it will be really hard to set up games. If you take from a league the ability to set-up games and promote specific teams/individuals, then I don't know how the game will be shaped".

Of course it's universal, it's not like everything is a set-up but happens more often than most would likely imagine, especially since betting came into play.

So there you got it.

tomp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can they release the software to the world? Maybe, if we all make an effort to analyse whatever papers we can access, we will together make enough noise that it will be impossible to ignore, and also impossible to silence (cf. The Pirate Bay). This could be one of the most important advancements of science in the past few years.
_greim_ 16 hours ago 0 replies      
So as a non-scientist, let me see if I understand.

There are lots of uncaught errors floating around out there in scientific papers, and many of them can now be found with this software. But the exposing the errors so that they can be corrected is tricky because: A) you have to have legal access to a paper in order to scan it, and B) even if you do have access, under the current rules only the publishers have the right expose the errors, and they're not interested because they want to avoid the embarrassment.

Am I understanding it?

Shivetya 1 day ago 1 reply      
At first I thought the article would be about sports, which in itself would make for an interesting discussion about using machines to judge rules adherence, not that I would want to take that human element out of sports.

However this is more along the lines of validating what is published. Of any group you would hope that scientist and their like would jump on technology like this so as to provide the most accurate representation of their work as possible. The same for publishers, why wouldn't they want to brag the use the most advanced interrogation methods for the papers they publish?

I guess they are people too, hyper sensitive that fault will be found

Udo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I see a very exciting possibility for the future of academic papers in certain disciplines where we could have a machine validation step performed automatically, not only on submission but as a tool for the author to check their work. Like a git commit hook that forces a test suite to run. Of course, this would require some formalism to tag data, diagrams, and formulae but it's probably in our best interest in the long run to make the body of our research more machine-accessible anyway.
bloaf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
When people talk about the future, they always seem to think that it will be the scientific jobs that get roboticized last. I think it will be the opposite, it won't be long before systems like this one will be able to analyze the scientific literature, identify shortcomings, and tell us what experiments to do next. Science will become less about creativity and problem solving, and more about following directions; eventually becoming completely automated.


nl 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There is of course a way around the problems cited in the article.

If the referees ran the software on the preprint it would find the same problem.

I agree this isn't as good, but it would be a step forward.

dflock 20 hours ago 0 replies      
ylem 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I suppose one way around this would be the NSF to require any grant awardees to deposit their structures in a publicly accessible database...But, I'm a bit surprised--is there nothing like arxiv.org for chemistry? Why not?
sov 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For those curious, the 5 membered ring in cyclopiazonic acid should have a NH atom rather than a CH2.
bloaf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the dream would be to couple a literature-analyzer like this with a specialized search engine like Wolfram Alpha.
nder 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Any chance you could farm out the software to lab in a nationality with MUCH MUCH looser copyright laws, and a court system that would be problematic for outside law suits?
Bizarre Shadowy Paper-Based Payment System Being Rolled Out Worldwide ledracapital.com
276 points by user_235711  2 days ago   306 comments top 21
hapless 2 days ago 23 replies      
Satire works when you hold folly up to ridicule. Central banking is possibly the greatest human invention since sanitation. The U.S. central banking system ranks among the finest of its kind.

Bitcoin handles 7 transactions a second on a good day, has no reliable institutional actors, and I can neither pay taxes nor satisfy court judgments with it. It is an impressive proof-of-concept for decentralized trust in cryptosystems, but it is hardly a currency.

yoha 2 days ago 6 replies      
I don't think it will get popular. It needs too much infrastructure for emission and tracking. You will need to manually find a way to get to the right amount using such a restricted set of values [1]. Additionally, you cannot make backups and it is very easy for lose or destroy some of these "bills". It's a nice idea, but there is not a chance it will gain value. I don't think it's worth investing any real money in it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change-making_problem

Tloewald 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article is idiotic and disingenuous. Paper money didn't attempt to replace coin in one fell swoop. Paper money evolved from letters of credit which make perfect sense, and bitcoin fundamentally relies on similar concepts anyway.

You can't buy something online by just anonymously transmitting credits into an account -- who gave us the money? what do they want? You fill in an order form, a bunch of stuff happens, you get a receipt and a product and money gets transferred at some point. Very little of that is the currency transaction. You needed to generate a letter that said I want X and I'll pay you Y, then you paid Y and sent confirmation of the money transfer, and so on.

The bitcoin bulls think that Credit Cards are a terrible way to buy things because they charge too much for what they do (and their security sucks). This may be true, but bitcoin is only solving the easiest part of the problem. Banks can already transfer money around cheaply and securely. Indeed even market transactions are so fast and inexpensive that high speed trading is now a huge economic force.

The fact is that credit cards (a) let you buy stuff on credit, (b) provide transactional support allowing commerce to proceed smoothly, and (c) already work. A credit card is merely automated checking with overdrafts, which is a direct descendant of the letter of credit (from which cash evolved), which is in fact a more fundamental method of trading than barter. (Tracking people's accounts is the reason writing was invented.)

leobelle 2 days ago 5 replies      
Ever since POS hacks on Target and other retailers I've completely switched to cash only. Not only can't you be tracked, something I'm not sure I care about, but it reduces the chances of somebody stealing your card info.

And I only use wells fargo ATMs, because they have a nice green glowing card input, so you know nobody put a malicious card scanner on the ATM.

It's a complete reversal from a few years ago where I wouldn't carry cash and wouldn't go anywhere that was cash only. Going cash only also reduces the fees for stores where you buy things.

Cash is the way to go, despite all of our technology.

kordless 2 days ago 3 replies      
This article is entertaining, interesting and relevant. Humans are exceptionally good at rationalizing their biases, especially if they involve trust, and interest is required to alter those biases in a positive way. The biggest challenge for cryptocurrencies today is raising interest and trust in the general population. We can best effect that by working hard to raise interest in cryptocurrencies in a positive way.

This is more commonly known as "marketing".

acconrad 2 days ago 1 reply      
My issue with fluff pieces like this is that there are plenty of established tools in our lives that would not be available if they started out today. Acetaminophen (or Tylenol by it's brand name) is often touted as a drug that would never pass modern FDA regulations if it were introduced today due to it's issues with liver toxicity and link to Reye's Syndrome.

We make products and services with what we have available at the time, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are an indefinite solution, nor does it mean that we are going to hold our archaic solutions to the same standard we do with our new and improved solutions.

ashray 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing post! I wonder why everyone is called Mike Smith in the article though ? Mike Smith - VP of this, Mike Smith - a tourist, Mike Smith - etc. ?

Something else that wasn't covered is that cash is also dirty and carries grime and infections. Ideally you should wash your hands before you eat if you handle any cash. (this is less of a problem with laminated/plastic notes like the CAD or EUR)

Imagine a super virus propagating and killing people through cash. Ouch!

teddyh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I Can Barely Draw webcomic has recently had a number of comincs in the same vein as this, starting here:


beobab 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a great idea. I'd love to get some of this "cash" stuff everyone keeps talking about.
talmir 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of the fact that I havent handled, or even touched, real paper money for at least a year now. Here in Iceland paper currencly is slowly being phased out, and has been for a few years.
raverbashing 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the premise behind the subreddit r/ActualMoney

Satire is an interesting way to analyze things, especially in this case.

keithgabryelski 2 days ago 3 replies      
go home bitcoin -- you're drunk.

bank notes are a very simple system, so simple it has been used for over a thousand years.

the_watcher 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obviously hyperbolic and not a perfect comparison, but gets enough right to be pretty damn clever. The "hardware wallets" security flaws and anonymity facilitating criminals are particularly enjoyable.

The more policy-oriented economic points aren't nearly as strong, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Just to be clear: I like Bitcoin a lot, but I don't think it will ever replace national currencies. I just enjoy pointing out the hypocrisy of a lot of bitcoin detractors.

bertil 2 days ago 1 reply      
[This is satyre, imagining cash introduced now, and mocking BitCoin's critics. Some ring true, some miss the two-sided market issues behind adopting new payment forms.]

To be honest, Ive been in Nordic countries for a year (where all transaction are card-based, and there is no minimum amount for payment) and that situation rung surprisingly true especially after yesterday, when I was facing a coat valet who was expecting a ten crown in cash.

raintrees 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know if anyone remembers Bob Newhart standup shtik, but this article (abridged/down-sized) would fit right in there...
alayne 2 days ago 5 replies      
Bitcoins (and others) aren't backed by a government. One of the major exchanges used to trade Magic the Gathering cards (You know, for kids!). Bills also have serial numbers that provide some amount of traceability, at least between Federal Reserve branches and banks.
Sheepshow 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a circle jerk.
Eleutheria 1 day ago 0 replies      
The good.

Money is good, in any form. Banks are good, they help allocate resources in a capitalist economy. Central banks are good, they can help other banks in need.

The bad.

Fractional reserve banking is robbery. Inflation is robbery. Printing money is robbery.

The ugly.

Government, the fed, banksters, they are a maffia, a band of thugs writ large.

williamcotton 2 days ago 2 replies      
Our currently existing currencies evolved over time. Central banking and fiat currency were institutions delivered by liberal democracies by the process of public debate.

They were not hair-brained ideas established by anonymous individuals engaged in private debate outside of the forums of democracy.

Look, I know all of you are very excited about these experimental economic and political systems, but please realize that the existing world that you are "suffering" under was mainly developed as a slow process of evolution.

Most extreme revolutionary ideas take a long time to work their way in to the existing societal structures and way of life. When they're quickly forced on to people, all fucking hell breaks loose.

So for fucks sake, get some balance and control your zealotry, people!

And read some history books! The future is built from the past no matter how long or hard of a process that seems to be. Go with the flow!

Engage with other people. Engage with the existing institutions. Even if it is a better idea, there are billions of people who rely on the current system in ways that you can't predict.

justinzollars 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll take any unwanted bills. :)
jcslzr 1 day ago 2 replies      
they say that is why they sink the Titanic, on board was all the powerful people that opposed the creation of the Fed, (I personally don't think an iceberg can do that), but anyway one year later the Fed was born.
Game Theory: How 70,000 Pokemon Players Sabotage Themselves minimaxir.com
273 points by minimaxir  1 day ago   69 comments top 18
jfasi 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is a fascinating example of the power of biased randomness. The gameplay challenges this article points out are notable because they require sequences of inputs that are both specific and lengthy. Even if the input stream were random, there would still be a nonzero probability that the correct sequence of instructions would be realized.

On the other hand, this stream isn't random. If it were truly random, the player would just move pointlessly in a horrible Brownian motion. It's nonsensical, to be sure, but in some weird way it encapsulates knowledge about the game, and as a result the game makes progress.

It sort of enlightens other places where true randomness is required, and the presence of any information or understanding radically changes the behavior of a system. In cryptography, even the slightest weakness in the probabilistic underpinnings of a cryptosystem can render it useless. In finance, even the slightest edge over the market can be leveraged to produce gains.

KVFinn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some of the trolling isn't trolling, it's a tactic -- specifically the constant start spamming.

Since twitch.tv recently added up to 30 seconds of stream lag, you want to spam start during the trickiest movement sections to minimize latency between the stream and gamestate. This is most important in ledges and mazes!

More of the chat catches up to the current position and starts putting in the right input, which actually has a higher chance of being accepted, after the start spam delay.

Dylan16807 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not the fighting and trolling that causes 90% of the problems, it's the delay on the video that means everyone has to guess where the game will be half a minute in the future.

Such a shame that twitch changed streaming technologies recently. It used to be easy to get as low as 2-3 seconds of latency. A world of difference in something like this.

For example, that ledge, it was easy to get enough 'right' movement to overpower malicious 'down' commands, because the first input in a direction only turns the character. But there were 'down' commands needed to get to the ledge, and the lag caused them to keep pouring in after they were no longer needed.

This article is a nice overview of the spectacle but its premise is fundamentally flawed.

pdeuchler 1 day ago 0 replies      
The millennial generation's version of the Infinite Monkey Theorem[0]?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

Aissen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest problem is IMO the delay (20 to 30seconds). Many people believe the majority of the stream has no idea how it works. Even with democracy implemented, the delay is still a blocker.

But I have no idea how this could be solved (best thing would be multicast directly from source to viewers, but this doesn't work on the open internet, which it why sites like twitch exist).

yayitswei 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not much on game theory here; the article was mostly a summary of what happened so far on stream.
wudf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would be nice of you to credit the artists whose work you rehosted, minimaxir.
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is the video of ABBBBBBK( and JLVWNNOOOO being released by trolls: http://www.twitch.tv/twitchplayspokemon/c/3738870
shittyanalogy 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a game, not everyone is playing it for the same reason and the input is anything but random. There aren't really any conclusions you can draw from this other than it's entertaining.
quackerhacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well this is definitely a new take on "social," gaming. Instead of fighting each other, work together in an uncoordinated manner.

I love to see new implementations in gaming, I feel the gaming industry really cultivated me as a hacker, and Pokemon was my first hack....anyone remember getting "Missing No."

skizm 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how long it would take if the game went round robin. Everyone in the chat got a chance to enter a move and the move was guaranteed to work and everyone saw the outcome before the next person gets to press their button. I predict much faster.
Globz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This so fascinating, I am almost certain that a new genre of gaming experience has been created and people will demand more games like this one! This is complete madness!
zwdr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Using the twitch chat for anything constructive is guaranteed to fail. pls no coperino ravioli.
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favorite quote:

> If trolls have absolute power, they will use it and they will use it without mercy.

awkwit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm still amazed that anything was even achieved in that game!
normloman 1 day ago 3 replies      
Proof that crowdsourcing doesn't work in every damn situation.
nobodysfool 1 day ago 3 replies      
should have just had a vote every 10 seconds... most voted answer wins?
muyuu 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is what happens with democracy when you execute it badly.
Why we left AngularJS sourcegraph.com
264 points by route66  2 days ago   154 comments top 49
neya 2 days ago 8 replies      
I had the opportunity to work for a million dollar budget client project, about a year ago. (Obviously I'm bound by an NDA, so I won't go into specifics). You can think of this site like an oDesk/Freelancer competitor, but with some social features.

We also had another team from California working on this project, who consistently insisted that we go with Angular for a project of such complexity. Back then, on HN, everybody was writing about how awesome Angular is, and how you must use it for your next project and so on. It reminded me of the early MongoDB days here.

I was under constant pressure from my client too, since he was also reading a lot about Angular everywhere and the Californian company had him almost brainwashed in favor of angular. After already falling trap for the MongoDB buzz (I used MongoDB for the wrong use-case and suffered the consequences), I decided to carefully evaluate the decision to go with Angular for the project.

After about 6 months of using Angular for a different medium-scale project, I decided against it for my client. I realized that Angular is the all powerful Battle Tank. It can do everything you want it to. But it's very tempting to choose a battle tank when all you need is a sedan to get you from home to office.

Angular has it's own use-cases, but for the most part what I observed was that you could get a lot of mileage without using Angular, with just plain Jquery+Knockout (or any other similar framework of your choice) for most of the front-end.

In a simple calculation that I made (to pitch to my client), I estimated about easily 25% of time (and thus money) savings by not going with Angular for our project. (YMMV)

Usually I tend not to open my mouth about/against angular here because most HNers seem to like Angular a lot and they downvote without a reason just for having a different opinion. But, I am really glad someone wrote a blog post about this.

dchuk 2 days ago 10 replies      
A lot of people seem to think that Single Page App frameworks like Angular/Ember are suitable for use on the public facing client side. I've always believed that SPAs are meant to be behind a login, where you don't have to also deal with spiders and other sub-optimal browsing devices, and you have a little bit more wriggle room when it comes to routing and web history.

Just look at Blogger...their client-side rendering is annoying as all get out. It's just a blog post, render it server side and give me the content, then sprinkle on some gracefully degrading JS on top to spice it up.

I say this as a huge proponent of Angular who uses it for all his web app projects who also wouldn't ever use it on a public facing application.

randomdrake 2 days ago 2 replies      
This mayaswell be titled: "Why we're paying for re-discovering client-heavy apps are hard or bad." Angular, or <insert hot new JavaScript framework> doesn't particularly matter.

Twitter learned it[1].

Lots of us learned it when we were experimenting as Web 2.0 was being born. Things were far more obvious, far more quickly then, as bandwidth and resources weren't anywhere near what they are today. Back then, we quickly realized that just a couple of delayed asynchronous calls could cause your app to slow to a halt and feel sluggish.

That's not to say it can't be done[2], it's just to say that, thus far for the most part, folks end up discovering reasons why they didn't "do it right" too late over and over. I could be wrong, but I feel like there's been a few posts to Hacker News within the past couple months with similar sentiment.

When people start suggesting client-side rendering, I usually ask something along these lines:

Why on earth would you leave something as simple as textual document model creation up to the client's 5 year old machine that is busy playing a movie, a song, downloading a torrent, doing a Skype call, and running 15 other tabs, when your server is sitting around twiddling it's thumbs with it's 8 cores, scalable, SSD and memory-heavy architecture?

[1] - https://blog.twitter.com/2012/improving-performance-on-twitt...

[2] - http://www.quora.com/Web-Development/What-are-the-tradeoffs-...

akbar501 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is really a case of picking the wrong tool for the job. __This is in no way a slight of the author__...b/c I have done worse on more than one occasion, so thanks for sharing.

To anyone reading, you really should understand your workload before picking tools. And, you need to understand the difference between Web Application vs. Web Site: Which are you building?

Server-side rending is the winner for content sites (as mentioned by the author). Beyond initial rendering, a server-side solution allows for more caching. Depending on the site you could even push a good amount of file delivery to a CDN. In the end the author switched to Go, but Node.js + Express, RoR, PHP, Java with Play, etc. would all work just as well.

Next, are you CPU bound or network bound or I/O bound. If you're writing an application that requires heavy calculations that utilize massive amounts of CPU, then pick the appropriate framework (i.e. not Node). If you are I/O bound then Node may be a great solution.

Client-side rending (such as Angular/Backbone/etc) really shine when you need a web application (not web site). These frameworks are best when the application code is significant relative to the data such that many small JSON requests deliver better overall performance. Think of a traditional desktop application or native mobile app where the application code is in MB, but the amount of data required per request is in bytes. The same logic applies to web apps.

A few areas where problems such as what the author experienced emerged from blanked statements about technologies:

1. Gulp vs. Grunt: I use Grunt. I may switch to Gulp. But seriously, which one is "more complex", "faster", can be quantified. Lots of people pick the wrong technology because the web is littered with echo'd opinion statements. Exchange "more complex" for project A has a config file with X number of lines, while project B has a configuration of Y number of lines for the same task. Or project A uses JSON for its configuration while project B uses YAML.

2. "Or we could have used a different framework) - with a link to Meteor" - No please do NOT use Meteor for your site. I love Meteor and want it to succeed, but it is not the optimal choice for a content heavy site where each user views a large amount of data. As mentioned above, use a server-side rendering solution (like you did with Go), then cache, then push to a CDN. Problem solved. Meteor is awesome and is a great real-time framework. Use it when you need real-time capabilities...but not for a content heavy, static site.

> but they just werent the right tools for our site.

This could have been the title or first sentence and would have delivered 100% of the message if the reader read no further.

A lot of these articles about why we changed from technology A to B could be much improved if the original decision making was documented (not just the switch). As in we picked project A because we thought it would deliver A, B and C benefits based on our applications required capabilities. However, our application really needed capabilities M, N and O, which project A was not a good fit for. So, we switched to project B and experienced the following improvements. Therefore, it can be concluded that if your application needs M, N and O then project B will be a better fit.

carsongross 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been working on an Angular alternative called IntercoolerJS:


The idea is to keep a lot of the advantages of the traditional web development model, but, via HTML5-style attributes, RESTful URL design and partial driven UX, achieve a better UX.

It's not for everyone or for every problem, and it is still in pre-alpha (we are going to change from a preamble to HTTP headers for meta-directives, for example) but, if you find Angular too heavy-weight and foreign for your UI, it might be of interest.

Please contact me if you are interested in contributing.

Cthulhu_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
> 3. Slow, complex build tools

Slow... depends on what you're used to; I've worked with Java / Maven and such, and one step worse, Scala; if you want slow, go for those.

Complex. The author links to a certain gruntfile[0] as an example of a large, unmaintainable gruntfile, but apparently people forget that a gruntfile is just a Javascript / NodeJS file, and thus can be broken up into more manageable chunks - like any code[1]. Alternatively, there's newer, less config, more code build tools like Gulp.js[2].

#4 is also no longer valid; Angular's Protractor[3] wraps around Selenium etc and deals with angular's asynchronous behaviour, as long as you stay within angular's framework.

And #5 is to be blamed on the developer for not having attention to performance / total load times, not the framework.

I'm defensive, but then, I don't have a public-facing app.

[0] https://github.com/ngbp/ngbp/blob/v0.3.1-release/Gruntfile.j...[1] http://www.thomasboyt.com/2013/09/01/maintainable-grunt.html[2] http://gulpjs.com/[3] https://github.com/angular/protractor

shirro 2 days ago 1 reply      
I need to stop clicking on the "why we left x for y" articles on HN. Mostly people have picked the wrong tool for the particular job and the articles are just an embarrassment.

Obviously SPAs take a lot of extra work to make search engine friendly and are probably going to be the wrong tool for the job for any site which requires that. Much of the web isn't searchable and doesn't want to be searchable. If you are writing a web app to solve some business problem which sits behind a login angular really isn't a problem.

Think of the millions of poorly maintained and inflexible VB and Java business apps out there that are due to be replaced and the employees who are wanting to do business on the road with their macbooks, chromebooks and tablets. There is your market for Angular.

taude 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing people don't really think about is that this whole notion of SPA is kind of a pipe-dream, overkill. There might be some apps that are really a single page application (likely just those simple, demo add task apps), but most really can be broken down and composed of many mini-applications.

For example, how often do your users go to their settings page? Does that need to be part of the SPA? Have a complex Settings pages that's composed of 5 or six tabs and 20 different user interactions? Maybe the settings page is itself it's own mini-SPA

How does a user flow through your app, do they really need every screen bundled under a single SPA?

Routing issues, complexity, code dependencies, etc...are all good reasons to not make one monolithic application, even if it's behind a login.

Likely your SPA should really be an app composed of a bunch of smaller SPAs. You search functionality...mini app, your separate workflows...a mini app, your timeline...mini app. history view...mini app, etc...

Breaking your app down into a bunch of smaller SPAs has a lot of advantages and implicit modularization, as well as productivity gains when working on bigger projects with bigger teams.

andyl 2 days ago 2 replies      
We've transitioned from Angular to ReactJS with great success. Much smaller learning curve. Using Backbone to handle the models and React for the view is a great combination.
danabramov 2 days ago 1 reply      
We're using Backbone+React so this may not be applicable.


You can separate your dev and production build pipelines to improve dev speed, but thats going to bite you later on.

In my experience, you must separate dev and prod pipelines. It has never bitten me because I make hundreds dev (local) and dozens kinda-prod (staging server) builds a day.

For dev builds, Grunt just compiles LESS but doesn't touch the scripts so there is literally no delay there. In dev environment, we load scripts via RequireJS so there is no need to maintain a properly sorted list of scripts too.

For production, we concat them with grunt-contrib-requirejs with `almond: true` so RequireJS itself is stripped out completely. Production build takes time (10 to 15 seconds; we're also running Closure Compiler), but it's never a problem.

Even adding JSX (Facebook React) compilation didn't cause a slowdown for dev builds because grunt-contrib-watches compiles them on change and puts into a mounted directory.

Illniyar 2 days ago 2 replies      
All these arguments seem like lowly excuses to not do proper work and instead blame the framework you are using.If you have any kind of interactiveness the feel of a fat client is so much better then template rendering.

Look at the site:https://sourcegraph.com/github.com/tomchristie/django-rest-f...?

Is that the best interface you can get?In 2014 everything I click reloads the page? a tabbed interface that doesn't load the content in the window is noticeable by users these days.No pop ups of any kind? why do I need to reload the page to see a list of 4 contributers.You've gained maintainability at the cost of user experience, a lot of user experience for very little maintainability.

There are sites that benefit little from client-side rendering- blogs and news site for instance, but most will gain a lot.

1) Indexing with PhantomJs is a breeze, truely. Not only are there a ton of libraries that already do it, there are even SAASes that will do it for you for a fee.If you are really unable to come to terms with this, you can use react.js, which solve the SEO indexing issue completely.

2) If the only thing that you are doing on the site is measuring page loads then your site either lacks interactiveness completely or you aren't measuring everything you should.You aren't measuring to where a user left your site (and incredibly important metric) or any action he does (assuming there is any he can do) that isn't navigation.

With Angularytics (and a thousand other libraries) adding analytics is maybe 5 lines of code, and you get declarative analytics on any link you want.

3) This site's js is neither minimized nor concatenated, so I'm not sure what build tools you need for angular either then the ability to serve static content?But in any case it's js, you are going to need to minimize and concatenate it at some point for performance, doesn't matter if you use a fat client or some custom jQuery plugin.Even with Grunt, though I don't like it very much, the build file is maybe 10 lines long, and the build process takes miliseconds.

4) And the alternative is what? using manual QA on every build? You have a website with even minimal interactivity you are going to need to use a browser based testing solution.Karma is a breeze, and with the new setup, the only thing you need to install is node and karma. Takes exactly 3 seconds, and you get one of the best isolated unit testing framework for client side code.Angular is actually built around the ability to unit test it.

5) So your saying that the solution to slowness is to have 43 unique resources loaded and rendered on every navigation? Page reload slowness is one of the major hassles that Ajax, and fat clients as a consequence, are trying to overcome.Your site takes, to me, about 3 seconds to load from page to page (6 seconds to finish rendering), there is obviously no wait time indicator that you can add and no tricks to minimize this.Not to mention that rendering is slow, and server-side rendering is not only extremely slow it can also cause parallel load which will make things worse.If you don't care about your speed it doesn't matter what framework you use.

For the sake of this you are losing interactiveness, speed and lower bandwidth to name just a few.

DigitalSea 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really, this seems to be more of a case of the wrong tool being used for the wrong job than a tool with flaws and no real use. AngularJS positions itself as a fit-all solution for great Javascript based applications, when in reality it is meant for use only in an authenticated user setting. Look to an application like Asana (built on a similar internal Javascript framework), you only get the Javascript application version after you've logged in, not before.

It's like creating an online store and deciding to choose MongoDB or any other NoSQL branded database and then discover it doesn't support transactions and having to move over to a RDBMS like MySQL or PostgreSQL. The caveats listed in the article are definitely true though. As someone who's used AngularJS enough to know its downfalls, it's definitely not a one sized fits all solution and much like anything it comes with both its own pros and cons.

It's important you spend the extra amount of time when planning your project to ensure you choose the right tools for the right job (well at least at the time). If your requirement is to be indexable via search engines, choose a solution that allows that and so on. Don't use something just because it's the flavour of the day on the HN front-page.

dlau1 2 days ago 2 replies      
Have you tried react.js [1] ? If you use node to serve your content, you can pre-render the initial state of your app. When everything loads up, react will take a checksum of the rendered portions to ensure that it doesn't re-render the same DOM. This should come close to solving your SEO/test issues with minimal work.

In my opinion, a setup like this is close to what the next big wave of frameworks will use.

You can break your layout up into parts and have a site that is partially dynamic and partially static. You just pass the html that react renders to your templating engine.

Getting everything setup correctly can be a little hassle, but gulp is fast enough when doing a watch on the compilation step. Of course, because everything is javascript you share the exact same component code between client and server.

This is a good example that helped me a bit[2]

[1] http://facebook.github.io/react/[2] https://github.com/mhart/react-server-example

cies 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently playing with Fay (haskell2js compiler)... It's awesome.

It type checks like haskell and allows code sharing between serverside and clientside of the app. This means i can use code to generate a complete HTML site (for SEO purposes) when the URL is hit directly and modify the DOM from there once the app is loaded... with the same code!

Obviously this is code sharing is mostly interesting to app written in haskell. But I'm so excited about it that i had to share... :)

G'luck! The "javascript problem" (try google for that) is a hard one.

[edit] i call it "playing with Fay", but im certain this will end up on production for me.

jbeja 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am curious to know why you go for a full js app approach from the begining, knowing that your app would be very dependable from content that needed be indexed by search engines overall?
mcgwiz 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is perplexing to me.

> 1. Bad search ranking and Twitter/Facebook previews

This problem is patently obvious to the most cursory examination of single-page applications. If SEO is important, and you want to do an SPA, then you must be willing to bear the cost of addressing HTML requests. For my startup, I wanted to keep things DRY, which lead me early on to the Nustache engine for ASP.NET, allowing me to use the same Mustache templates on server and client. This doesn't have anything like the complexity described in the article.

> 2. Flaky stats and monitoring

Simply not true. Using Google Analytics and Backbone, you simply listen to the Backbone.history:route event and fire off a pageview using the Google Analytics API.

> 3. Slow, complex build tools

Complex, yes. Slow? Using r.js, no slower than a typical static language build.

> 4. Slow, flaky tests

Slow, yes, but no more so than desktop app test automation. I've found PhantomJS with QUnit (unit-testing), and CasperJS for integration testing to be quite reliable. It took a few days to get everything connected (scripting IIS Express to start and end in the background being the trickiest bit), but that was it.

> 5. Slowness is swept under the rug, not addressed

This is a UX challenge that is known and obvious up-front. Failing to address it is a design problem, not a technological one.

Overall, this seems the result of the ineptitude prevalent in inexperienced, "move fast, break things" teams. Rather than owning up to moving too fast and foregoing due analysis/research, they blame technology. Or, the article is a marketing ploy.

colemorrison 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used AngularJS + Express for a reasonably sized custom news app for a client. It does everything form payments, to security, ya know, all the shebang.

I agree with is the first but only if you're still in the days of SEO trolling. Frankly it's just not as important if you're doing your other marketing aspects right.

For #2, I think there are plenty of ways to build in analytics. We use angularlytics and it works pretty well. Took me like 5 minutes to setup.

#3 - Yeoman. Generator Angular. Here's how I do it:

1. Make a client dir, and yeoman up your project with generator angular.2. Make a server dir and setup an express server.3. Grunt serve your client dir4. Make it so express watches your .tmp and app folders for local dev5. Run your express server6. When your ready to serve it, Grunt build to a dist folder in your server folder7. For production, have express serve the dist folder

Yeah kind of dirty (since you're running two local servers for dev), but hell, it's fast as can be to setup and a pleasure.

#4 Tests? If you're doing tests of any sort, they're bound to slow you down to an extent.

#5 Isn't this applicable to all web apps? Mistakes and mismanagement of loading resources is a problem for anything.

Sure it has it's problems, but there's just far too much productivity to be gained from using it. For example, Ajax animations are beyond time saving.

The real problem with angular is the terrible docs ;)

taude 2 days ago 0 replies      
I, am/was a big fan of Angular, but on a recent project decided we didn't have the right team composition for a lot of the coding styles and complexities angular introduces. We went with a JQuery/Knockout solution, too. Some of the devs still struggle to keep the viewmodels clean, but being able to integrate from knockout to existing JQuery plugins has been a big win. Writing custom angular directives, adding another layer to existing Jquery is a pain for a lot of front end developers, and likely overkill for many projects.

(to give scope size, we're replacing a several hundred screen Adobe Flex app with our new KO/JQuery app)

jaunkst 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have to disagree with most of this article. 1. Bad search ranking and Twitter/Facebook previewsDon't force your public side to strictly angular. Serve normal pages and use angular for your interactive components. Let Google index a well formed dom. Use a full angular stack for your non public facing application(a SaaS application). You don't want to index this anyways.

2. Flaky stats and monitoringUse event driven metrics from your api and or client side. Track everything in the sense of user, controller, action, params. Blacklist sensitive data. Derive metrics with funnels, user did x actions, returned and subscribed. Conversion! It's all there just understand your events.

3. Slow, complex build tools.Your not limited to grunt, or node. For example we use rails and use our own buildscripts and generators to build fullstack angular apps. Easy Breezy.

4. Slow, flaky testsThere is room for improvement. But jasmine and phantom can get the job done. But let's not forget were also testing our api. Use your goto testing framework and let jasmine phantomn do the client frontend testing.

5. Slowness is swept under the rug, not addressedPrecompile your angular templates, only wait for api responses. Don't fragment your page load into seperate request. Resolve all the requires data beforehand in the route provider.

Eric_WVGG 2 days ago 2 replies      
Im as big an Angular evangelist as anyone, but that bit about search rankings is an absolute killer.

You talk about these server-side webkit parsers as tricks that slow things down,which indicates that you at least ultimately got them working. I never got that far.

kirushik 2 days ago 0 replies      
For sake of correctness recent versions of Phantom.js are not dependent on Xvfb or any other variant of X, and there are grandmotherly prepared binary builds on the official website (kinda statically linked, so no dependency on WebKit as well).Not that it changes the author's arguments that much, but just worth pointing out.
ChikkaChiChi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Until Web Developers stop treating the end-user as a consumer of unlimited computational and bandwidth resources, issues like this will continue to crop up.

I love AngularJS for internal desktop tools I write, but I would never use it or any other client rendering script in the wild where my applications could be consumed by unknown form factors. Specifically, you have absolutely no idea how much memory allocation you are getting when you are dealing with mobile devices, and any assumption on the developer's part is asinine.

AngularJS was not the problem in this case; and I'd wager we are going to continue to see articles like this as developers go through growing pains of learning that you should optimize for the end user first, not yourself.

m0th87 2 days ago 0 replies      
Try prerender [1]. We use it in production with backbone. This combined with keeping the most content not-client-rendered has alleviated most of our issues.

In the long-term I'd love to see a web framework that uses react on the server-side, kind of like how rendr uses backbone on the server-side [2]. Seems to make sense because react works against a virtual DOM, so it would allow you to avoid the hacky ways of working with an actual DOM in node.

1: https://github.com/prerender/prerender2: https://github.com/airbnb/rendr

ben336 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm missing something but I don't get "4. Slow, flaky tests". I understand that Selenium et al can be a pain, but how does server side generated code excuse you from using it? Are you only validating the html structure and not testing any of the interactive capabilities?
laureny 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since the author hints that they migrated to Go templates, this article is more about when you should render templates client side vs/ server side than an opinion against AngularJS.
RRRA 1 day ago 0 replies      
With all this discussion about SPA websites:

Is anyone aware of a solution to allow clients to validate a version of an SPA website (cryptographically), in the sense that once downloaded a signature is checked and then further visit, if they require an update, have to be validated and verified by the user?

I'm thinking of a way to allow user to trust their applications in the same way you would trust a dist-upgrade on Debian via the packager's PGP signature and chain of trust.

This would solve the current problem that sites can change user side code at will anytime without them knowing and thus making it quite impossible to develop proper security solutions where the user actually owns and is responsible for his own security.

With such a solution in place, we might start seeing proper p2p/webrtc security related apps, we could even imagine an in Browser (read js) Tor-like service...

wheaties 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to say thank you to the author for showing me backbone.anayltics. Absolutely fantastic and everything I had been looking for recently. Funny how one thing teaches about something else.
balls187 2 days ago 2 replies      
This isn't about AngularJS in particular. This is about using a client-side JS app framework.

Substitute any other flavor and the same problems exist.

JDDunn9 1 day ago 0 replies      
These are just difficulties that need to be addressed, not deal-breakers. All new technologies have a transitional period where the rough edges need to be sanded off (Node.js, HTML5, etc.). As for people making comments that SPA should only be made for back ends and never a content site, USAToday.com is a SPA, and they rank just fine in Google.
Kiro 2 days ago 1 reply      
> 3. Slow, complex build tools

I'm building a big AngularJS app and I'm not using any build tools. Apart from minifying, what would you use it for?

jakestl 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because I find myself going the other direction from server-side page generation to angular.

One of the main reasons is angular forces you to separate your controller logic from DOM manipulation. Without directives I tend to see a pile of jQuery on every page.

How do you address this?

ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Take a look at the prerender.io module. Also it is not impossible to render some types of angular pages in the server it is just a bit of a pain. Google angular on server. If you really don't need an interactive app then I would consider generating static pages when the data changes or when called and then don't update them more often than you actually need to.
planckscnst 1 day ago 0 replies      
I honestly don't get what Sourcegraph is useful for. They primarily seem to be cluttering up my Google results, with pretty much useless entries.
davesque 1 day ago 0 replies      
This post's title should really read: "Why we left single-page apps." Saying that they left Angular makes it sound like it's somehow inferior when compared with similar technologies like Ember. As the article describes, Angular was not so much the problem as was the mis-application of the single-page app architecture.
robmcm 2 days ago 0 replies      
> 5. Slowness is swept under the rug, not addressed

This is a joke right, asyc loading is somehow bad? If it's that much of a problem hold off rendering untill you have all your data back, of heaven forbid implement item one of Nielsen's list of heuristics, "Visibility of system status" and chuck in a loading gif.

jasdeepsingh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think you just used Angular at the wrong place. For a content based site, Angular was just not the right choice. I've made similar decision on a content site which I did in BackboneJS and totally feel your pain. I've had exactly the same problems you mentioned.

Server side generated stuff would've been just great here or on the project I did!

blueskin_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Javascript-only sites are the equally hideous 2010s equivalent of the Flash-only sites of the 2000s.
scottschulthess 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Slow tests"

Our javascript tests suites are always much, much faster than our server-side test suites with similar coverage.

seba_dos1 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you describe something as "a content site", then implementing it as "single-page app" is ridiculous by definition.

Content site is not app. Single-page app frameworks are for apps, not for content sites.

deaquino 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just noticed that you can't search on your website if you include '(' or ')'. 500 Internal Server Error.

i.e. https://sourcegraph.com/search?q=%28

kin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't ng-cloak solve the partial content loading issue? Actually, there are a ton of ways to skin that cat.
Navarajan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes Client side rendering will not give any advantages for static contents, Its more useful for Dynamic content providing applications.

And if you want to deliver your content in mobile devices with there native app then Client Side Framework will be handy for you.

mavdi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah let's stop the progress of the web because SEOs aren't getting any better.
fantastical 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any good guides on how to organize JavaScript on non-SPAs? I have a weird web development background in that I've only ever worked on SPAs, so I haven't ever done JavaScript work on a server-side rendered app.
usablebytes 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was a wrong choice of tool for that kind of a project, in the first place. The biggest problem that I've personally seen with AngularJS is the steep learning curve.
ishener 2 days ago 0 replies      
the crawling issue is simply a deal breaker. try searching in google for something in angular docs - and you'll see what i mean...
Sym3tri 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article unfairly picks on Angular. The issues mentioned are the same for any rich single page app.
sassyalex 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly the same problem with other client side javascript frameworks
miralabs 2 days ago 1 reply      
just a case of using the right tools for the right job...move along
Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks firstlook.org
262 points by ibsathish  2 days ago   81 comments top 16
r0h1n 2 days ago 7 replies      
> One classified document shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.

This is real-time surveillance of website visitors & search terms to websites that governments don't like. I'm guessing it wouldn't take much for them to correlate those visitors to IP addresses, cookies, device IDs and cell tower signals to pinpoint people in real time too?

Knock knock

Who is it?

It's the police. We know you're browsing Wikileaks right now.

Edit: Looks like GCHQ's "ANTICRISIS GIRL" [0], the tool used to monitor Wikileaks visitors in real time, was based on Piwik [1]

[0] https://prod01-cdn01.cdn.firstlook.org/wp-uploads/2014/02/pi...

[1] http://piwik.org/

aspensmonster 2 days ago 2 replies      
>Illustrating how far afield the NSA deviates from its self-proclaimed focus on terrorism and national security, the documents reveal that the agency considered using its sweeping surveillance system against Pirate Bay, which has been accused of facilitating copyright violations. The agency also approved surveillance of the foreign branches of hacktivist groups, mentioning Anonymous by name.

Good to know that the NSA is on top of that Pirate Bay threat! I was worried for a little bit. Good thing they're keeping tabs on script kiddies too. And of course WikiLeaks; that's just information terrorism. Better go ahead and classify them all as malicious foreign actors:

>any communication with a group designated as a malicious foreign actor, such as WikiLeaks and Anonymous, would be considered fair game for surveillance.

>When NSA officials are asked in the document if WikiLeaks or Pirate Bay could be designated as malicious foreign actors, the reply is inconclusive: Let us get back to you. There is no indication of whether either group was ever designated or targeted in such a way.

Knowing Greenwald, I've got a suspicion that he already knows the answer to that question. Gonna go grab some popcorn. Y'all want anything from the concession stand?


Notice of course that it doesn't really matter if the NSA classifies any of them as malicious foreign actors or not. They can always count on the GCHQ to scrape up US citizens' data for them:


That blue spot on the "Visitor Countries" map looks familiar...

oskarth 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know about you guys, but these two quotes together with the events in the life of Assange seems to paint some picture.

According to the Post, officials realized that they have what they described as a New York Times problem namely, that any theory used to bring charges against Assange would also result in criminal liability for the Times, The Guardian, and other papers which also published secret documents provided to WikiLeaks.

USA [...] urged other nations with forces in Afghanistan [...] to consider filing criminal charges against J.A. [...] focus the legal elements of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports Wikileaks (from https://prod01-cdn02.cdn.firstlook.org/wp-uploads/2014/02/as...)

Not that this came as a surprise for people who read things outside NYT.

panarky 2 days ago 1 reply      
Now we know what we've speculated darkly about all long: the NSA and GCHQ actively track users who visit sites they don't like.

Presumably your visit to The Intercept and First Look are similarly tracked and correlated with your other online and offline activity.

I for one will visit this site and open every linked document from each IP I have access to. These tactics of mass surveillance and intimidation must be resisted.

kyro 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am not surprised one bit.

Not directly related to the article, but more to the issue at large: One thing many people fail to realize is that humans can be terribly, terribly corrupt. There are those among us who, without a drop of guilt or compassion, would take the life of another. Given the means, we are capable of carrying out some heinous acts. Many believe that there is some moral or ethical boundary that these spy agencies will not cross. That given all the information that's been leaked, all the lies that've been exposed, there is still an area of corrupt behavior that is off-limits.

I have no doubt in my mind that there are those within these agencies that have abused their access to information for political, financial, and personal benefit, eg insider trading, selling damaging information to political candidates, suppressing journalists, etc. I'm not sure if it'll ever be brought to the public light, but I'm certain it's happened and is happening. The stuff that we read about is peanuts.

hooande 2 days ago 9 replies      
These findings illustrate the difference between surveillance and a surveillance state. The GCHG and by relation the NSA had plenty of information about who visited or donated to Wikileaks, but did not act on any of that information [1]. These documents could easily be construed as a vote of confidence for the agencies in question. People love to throw around the phrase "Orwellian" these days, but his seminal work does not appear to be relevant here. We all know that the government could be surveilling us at any time. We should all be afraid of it taking widespread action based upon that information. This day has not come yet.

The government can listen to what you say and watch what you do all they want. The moment they move from surveilling to censoring, from watching to interfering, the average citizen will come down on them with righteous fury. No one is coming to your door or telling you what lawful websites you can and can't look at or what you can say to people. It's a testament to the strength of our ideals that government agents can tap your phone and hear you say how much you hate them, and yet still not lift a finger against you [1].

Keeping an eye on quasi-legal websites and organizations is the government's job. Using force to harm them is a line that we cannot allow them to cross. There are many, many more documents that have yet to come to light and I'm sure that this community will be the first to point out any serious abuses of power.

[1] "That we know of"

grey-area 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it really interesting that a huge number of GCHQ internal training documents, giving away an awful lot about their operations and systems, was available on demand with no logging to poorly vetted contractors at US sites. They don't even know what he took. Contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton are a huge, soft target with a constantly changing roster of workers.

That lack of any significant firewall between the allies, combined with a huge army of contractors in the US with top secret access, means China/Russia etc have probably had access to this information for years, if not decades, and could feed CGHQ and the NSA misinformation at will, because they'll know exactly what their capabilities and aspirations are.

sneak 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess that bitcoin donation to wikileaks I sent a few years back means I should probably dump my computer's bios and ssd firmware physically out of flash with a logic analyzer and compare it with others of the same model.


eyeareque 2 days ago 0 replies      
"discovering that an American has been selected for surveillance must be mentioned in a quarterly report, but its nothing to worry about."

This is so bad. Just when you think it can't get any worse.

The worst part is that more leaks with probably even more depressing revalations are on the way.

e12e 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, page 19 (18 for context) of this presentation is kind of interesting:


Firefox: browser of choice for neurotic introverts!

(I use Firefox:)

Actually that whole slide deck is interesting. Watch how "Squeaky Dolphin" help us go from "real-time" monitoring of likes on facebook and youtube/blogger views to splunk powered(?)[1] "Battle Damage Assessment Demonstrator - City Activity"...

[1] Slide 26-32. Splunk is namedropped, wonder if NSA are big customers of http://www.splunk.com ? I guess all PR is good PR...

fredgrott 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are we surprised by this?

What Snowden taught us, the lesson we all have now, is that those with that level of internet/computer skills are not citizens of a single country but RATHER citizens of the Internet and its our actions that determine the future of the internet and its freedom.

at-fates-hands 1 day ago 0 replies      
The interesting thing is this is getting massive headlines here, but when the IRS targets conservative groups, there's barely a peep.

I'd say government overreach is starting to get to a fever pitch. People have good reason to fear their government and that's pretty scary.

zimbatm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Piwik works in the same way as Google Analytics and uses an injected JavaScript to report the stats back to the server. If they didn't modify Piwik a lot it means that the script should be visible and the address of the server too.

Just tested, not seeing any suspicious JavaScript tags from inside the UK.

f_salmon 2 days ago 1 reply      

The Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders has the U.S. ranked #46 in their 2004 report [0] - just above Haiti and just below Romania.

[0] http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php

higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who gave the order to monitor Wikileaks and its visitors? What I'd like to see at the very least is that these agencies get reformed to the point where if we do find out about an abuse of theirs, we can put pressure on the so called "oversight committees" who clearly aren't doing their jobs, to uncover exactly who monitored Wikileaks and who gave the order to do it. And then fire them.

Right now even if there was such a pressure on them, there's probably no way to link to who did it, because NSA and GCHQ seem to be run in a very chaotic way and that's on purpose, so there are no ties for specific operations to anyone.

dwbond 2 days ago 1 reply      
That screenshot of how they tracked WikiLeaks visitors... isn't that Piwik?

Edit: Oh never mind, should have kept on reading.

Frequency xkcd.com
255 points by jaimebuelta  3 days ago   82 comments top 24
wulczer 3 days 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:


deletes 3 days 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

thomasahle 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      

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

jmnicolas 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best xkcd in ages, really interesting, and just beautiful to watch.
qznc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just realized that comic 1337 is near. :)
neals 3 days ago 3 replies      
Those iPhone screens are pretty fragile, it seems.
Houshalter 3 days 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.
gkya 3 days 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 3 days 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.

doktrin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Insightful as always, XKCD.

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

ajslater 2 days 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?

sp332 3 days 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...
chrismcb 3 days ago 0 replies      
That star must be dizzy!
idan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to know where he's getting the data for these.
guard-of-terra 3 days ago 1 reply      
Watching this while listening to electronic music is priceless btw.
cs02rm0 3 days 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.

SixSigma 3 days ago 0 replies      
average frequency
cellover 2 days 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.

giantrobothead 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now, that is fun. Made the morning a bit more thoughtful.
brusch64 3 days 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.
There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written smithsonianmag.com
248 points by spking  2 days ago   101 comments top 14
srean 2 days ago 11 replies      
Moby dick's kin the sperm whales are incredibly interesting. One of their remarkable ability is to dive deep, fast and long.

Among all free diving warm blooded animals they go the deepest. They dive to depths 25 times deeper than their other equally famous and endangered cousin the blue whales. The blue whale is the largest known animal to have ever inhabited the earth.

To give an idea of how deep they dive, here is a picture http://i.imgur.com/ESp2j.jpg It needs to be magnified for perspective and for the little surprise at the bottom.

It is interesting how they manage to hold their breath for so long and yet manage to survive the bends (decompression sickness).

The whales are seriously challenging our assumptions about animal intelligence, empathy, society, culture and language. For a long time we believed that the primates were at the top. Search Ted talks and youtube for dolphin intelligence, dont miss the Attenborough ones. For lack of a better word they are just amazing.

Dolphins are for example known to build difficult to make toys (air bubble vortex rings) just to entertain themselves.

They have to discover how to make it. Sometimes they can be quite possessive, they would break the toy if someone not so knowledgeable wants to play with it. Once a dolphin figures it out how to make one, his/her peers eventually figure it out too. So it kind of spreads within a group like fashion. This behavior has been observed both in captivity and in the wild.

Dolphins in captivity try to imitate us and seem to have no trouble mapping our body parts to theirs. A story goes that a scientist observing an young dolphin from an underwater portal had blown a cloud of cigarette smoke at it. The dolphin promptly went to the mother and did the same to the scientist with milk ! It is now strongly believed that they call each other by name. They try to imitate human speech which takes enormous effort on their part because unlike for example parrots their vocal tract is not conducive for this at all. People believe this to be an indication of their strong desire to communicate with us.

And they originated from ungulates: hoofed warm blooded animals. It came as a surprise to me that that there were hoofed carnivorous animals.

exratione 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Methuselah Foundation has funded one of the research groups interested in comparative studies of the genetics of longevity, helping them to obtain the resources to sequence bowhead whales. This is one of those lines of work that is next to impossible to get funding for from the normal institutional channels at the present time:



Given the declining costs of DNA sequencing, all kinds of research that used to be prohibitively expensive even a few years ago is now becoming possible. For example, we recently awarded a $10,000 research grant to Dr. Joao Pedro de Magelhaes at the University of Liverpool to sequence the genome of the bowhead whale in order to study mechanisms for longevity in this warm-blooded mammal whose lifespan is estimated at over 200 years.

Not only are bowhead whales far longer-lived than humans, but their massive size means that they are likely to possess unique tumor suppression mechanisms. These mechanisms for the longevity and resistance to aging-related diseases of bowhead whales are unknown, says Dr. de Magelhaes, but it is clear that in order to live so long, these animals must possess aging prevention mechanisms related to cancer, immunosenescence, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases."

The bowhead whale study will be conducted at the state-of-the-art Liverpool Centre for Genomic Research and results will be made available to the research community.

madaxe_again 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are clams alive today who hatched while the Ming dynasty was extant.

There are trees alive today which sprouted ten thousand years ago. Hell, Pando (albeit a clonal colony) could be 1,000,000 years old. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)

Astounding depths of time for a single organism to persist over - but ultimately dependent on a very sedate pace of life.

samizdatum 2 days ago 4 replies      
The long lifespan of whales could actually shed some light on human evolution.

Whales, along with many other mammalian species (including humans) exhibit a perplexing divergence of somatic and reproductive senescence. Female whales hit menopause long before their lives are over, in some cases spending the majority of their lives in a non-reproductive state, which prima facie seems rather maladaptive.

A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain what seems like widespread evolutionary selection for menopause, and none of them are completely satisfactory. The "grandmother hypothesis", for example, posits that experienced grandmothers assist in the care of their grandchildren, increasing their odds of survival.

Certain species of whales, including Orcinus orca, the killer whale, exhibit early-life menopause, and form stable matrilineal groups, making them ideal candidates for testing the grandmother hypothesis. Interestingly, studies on killer whales observe no significant correlation between living grandmothers and grandoffspring survival rates, though there are plenty of unaddressed confounding factors.

Humans are the only species where the grandmother hypothesis is supported by data, but the dearth of corresponding data in whales suggests the dramatic disparity in our somatic-reproductive senescence might be more strongly selected for by factors we are not yet aware of.

zipfle 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that their evidence --a stone arrowhead found in a whale-- is actually also described in Moby Dick itself:


It so chanced that almost upon first cutting into [a whale, not Moby Dick] with the spade, the entire length of a corroded harpoon was found imbedded in his flesh, on the lower part of the bunch before described. But as the stumps of harpoons are frequently found in the dead bodies of captured whales, with the flesh perfectly healed around them, and no prominence of any kind to denote their place; therefore, there must needs have been some other unknown reason in the present case fully to account for the ulceration alluded to. But still more curious was the fact of a lance-head of stone being found in him, not far from the buried iron, the flesh perfectly firm about it. Who had darted that stone lance? And when? It might have been darted by some Nor' West Indian long before America was discovered.

gutenberg.org full text:


antimagic 2 days ago 1 reply      
And they still haven't read past the first fifty pages because, like everyone else, they get bored and put the book down.

Seriously though, I find it remarkable that bowhead populations have come back so fast considering how long they live. The oceans must have been absolutely teeming with them back in the day, if they reproduce that fast and live that long.

the_watcher 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aquatic mammals are fascinating. They are so clearly mammals, yet they've adapted the mammalian traits that we take for granted as land-based evolutions to living in the water. I'm reminded of the bomb sniffing dolphins right now.
001sky 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not related to the content, but the construct and display of this article is less than conducive to reading it.
whistlerbrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat off topic... but I encourage everyone to watch the Blackfish documentary. These are incredible, amazing, highly intelligent animals. Different nations have their own languages. They know who we are, they know what we're doing to them, they know when we're making them do tricks for them for food for other's amusement.
arunc 1 day ago 0 replies      
And, we the humans are here to destroy everything dumping nuclear wastes into the ocean.
chris_wot 2 days ago 1 reply      
We really should kill them to examine them for scientific purposes. Plus, whale blubber is yum!
vrypan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Slightly off-topic, but I can't help it: This is exactly why we picked the bowhead whale for our mascot at www.longaccess.com. :-)
lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 1 reply      
And today is the day of vengeance !

"Planet of The Cetaceans"

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot with stack overflows? embeddedgurus.com
246 points by nuriaion  2 days ago   139 comments top 23
kens 2 days ago 8 replies      
If I'm reading the testimony correctly, there is actually no evidence that a stack overflow caused unintended acceleration. The idea is that Toyota used 94% of the stack, and they had recursive functions. If (big if) the recursive functions used enough stack to cause an overflow, memory corruption could happen. If (big if) that memory corruption happened in exactly the right way, it could corrupt variables controlling acceleration. And then, maybe, unintended acceleration could occur.

But that's a far cry from the stack overflow actually causing any cases of unintended acceleration.

bjourne 2 days ago 3 replies      
Even if you work in a gc language with a vm and all memory errors are checked, here is the major, MAAJOR, wisdom you should take with you:

The crucial aspect in the failure scenario described by Michael is that the stack overflow did not cause an immediate system failure. In fact, an immediate system failure followed by a reset would have saved lives, because Michael explains that even at 60 Mph, a complete CPU reset would have occurred within just 11 feet of vehicles travel.

We have seen this scenario played out a million times. Some system designers believe it is acceptable to keep the system running after (unexpected) errors occur. "Brush it under the rug, keeping going and hope for the best." Never ever do that. Fail fast, fail early. If something unexpected happens the system must immediately stop.

rcfox 2 days ago 1 reply      
Talking about how to catch stack overflows and protect your data against them isn't useless, but it misses the point. There are rules/guidelines, like MISRA[0] (which the testimony mentions 54 times!) for the automotive industry that prohibit recursion, and tools that will check for conformance.

Toyota should not have been using recursion in the first place, and it seems they were too cheap to invest analysis tools like Coverity.

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

erichocean 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't recursioneven if it's indirectdisallowed completely when doing embedded C programming for safety-critical devices?

UPDATE: Yup, #70 on the MISRA C rules: http://home.sogang.ac.kr/sites/gsinfotech/study/study021/Lis...

cognivore 2 days ago 1 reply      
Stack overflows hate the elderly:

http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/26/toyota-acceleration-elderly... forbes.com)

tragomaskhalos 2 days ago 3 replies      
I had an "unintended acceleration case" in my old Austin Morris 1300; the cable connecting the pedal to the throttle snapped, jamming it at a fixed (fairly high revs) level, requiring me to control the speed using the brake.

The solution was to pop open the bonnet and swap in a replacement cable, which probably cost a couple of quid.

This recollection combined with the Toyota story merely convinces me that automobile automation has got completely out of control.

pwg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Example 7 on page 18 of "UNIQUE ETHICAL PROBLEMS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY" by Walter Maner seems quite appropriate here:


"A program is, as a mechanism, totally different from all the familiar analogue devices we grew up with. Like all digitally encoded information, it has, unavoidably, the uncomfortable property that the smallest possible perturbations -- i.e., changes of a single bit -- can have the most drastic consequences."


noelwelsh 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's sad that recursion is considered dangerous. Tail calls have been known about for a very long time, and the duality between stack and heap for just about as long.
xerophtye 2 days ago 2 replies      
So what's the catch? We have been developing memory architectures, and embedded systems, and OS's for decades now. So if the solution is as simple as this post says, why hasn't it ever been implemented before?

I am hoping there are experts here that can shed some light on this

raverbashing 2 days ago 1 reply      
The least specialized in SW a company is, the worse the software is.

What we are accustomed to in discussing in HN for example does not exist in these worlds. Continuous integration? Unit test? Even complexity analysis.

And very very old code that's patched over and over and shipped "when it works"

It's usually people who have had an academic contact with programming languages and embedded development and don't know anything about code quality. But you can bet their bosses incentive CMMI and other BS like that. (Yes, complete and utter BS)

Not to mention ClearCase which seems to be a constant, the worse the company the more they love this completety useless piece of crap

robryk 2 days ago 2 replies      
Would it be considerably expensive to check in runtime that SP is in an expected range every time it gets moved? This'd work with multiple stacks, too.
pjmlp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another example of C's impact into our daily life.
Gracana 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any downsides to having the memory set up the "safe" way that they describe? It seems like a win-win situation.

[edit] I guess I was thrown off by the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot scenario, where the stack grows toward fixed data structures. If the heap and stack grow towards each other, you have quite a bit of flexibility (though with some danger of collision). If you have the stack grow towards fixed data structures, its size is fixed and it can cause a dangerous overflow. The only disadvantage of the safe example is less flexibility, but for a critical embedded system, that is fine.

jmnicolas 2 days ago 2 replies      
Although I use managed languages, I wouldn't want my code audited by the NASA.

When 180+ IQ brains analyze your work they're bound to find "horrible defects" that no "competent" programmer would ever make.

laichzeit0 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm always skeptical about non-trival recursive calls and generally pass a "depth" variable in as the first param, increasing it each time I do another call, with some sane cut-off point where it just returns.
Fasebook 1 day ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: make the stack bigger! (then is it really a stack overflow?, oh by the way, this won't work in most systems due to virtualized stacks on top of the physical memory making concepts such as order of memory meaningless... but nevermind that)

The obvious solution to stack overflows is to make the stack bigger. The obvious problem with this solution is that it just kicks the can down the road.

ragecore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think cars should just come with slots where we could put in our phones and bam!, powerful computing that you could carry along.
greatsuccess 1 day ago 0 replies      
Before you wonder about stack overflows, as yourself why the occupants never applied the brakes.
pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't waded into all this, and it's been years -- and years -- since my education touched upon systems that physically separate operating instructions from data memory.

But... sooner or later, it seems, we are going to go (back) there.

Instructions will become truly privileged, physically-controlled access. Data may go screwy -- or be screwed with -- but this will not directly affect the operating instructions.

Inconvenient? As development becomes more mature, instructions will become more debugged and "proven in the field". Stability and safety will outweigh ease and frequency of updates.

My 30+ year old microwave chugs along just fine. It doesn't have a turntable nor 1000 W, but I know exactly what it will do, how long to run it for various tasks, and how to rotate the food halfway through to provide even heating.

My 34 year old, pilot-light ignited furnace worked like a champ, aside from yet another blower motor going bad. I listened to the service tech when he strongly suggested replacing it before facing a more severe, "winter crisis" problem.

The new, micro-processor based model is better in theory (multi-stage speeds, and longer run times for more even heating). In practice, it's been a misery. The first, from-the-factory blower motor was defective. When that was replaced, the unit started making loud air-flow noises periodically.

Seeing the blower assembly removed, its constructed of sheet metal. The old furnace, by contrast, had a substantial metal construction that was not going to hum and vibrate if not positioned absolutely perfectly and with brand new, optimized duct work.

Past a point, reliability starts to -- far -- outweigh some other optimizations.

This is going to become true in our field, as well.

gkoberger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Completely unrelated to yesterday's "I No Longer Need StackOverflow" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7251169

I was all excited to defend StackOverflow.com.

wirrbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
First I was annoyed at yet another upvote fishing blog post on stack overflow. Then I read it, while I was annoyed at getting caught by the catchy headline that I conciously despised. Then I saw that it was not at all about some forum on the web and now I cannot stop smiling.
jtokoph 2 days ago 5 replies      
My first thought was: How could stackoverflow.com be responsible for car crashes?
skrebbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could you at least try to read an article before you comment? Like, at least the first 5 words?
Introducing Bing Code Search for C# msdn.com
242 points by vwilson  2 days ago   229 comments top 29
maresca 2 days ago 10 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 2 days ago 2 replies      
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 2 days 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

curveship 2 days 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.
guiomie 2 days 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 2 days 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.

AlaShiban 2 days ago 7 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
nrao123 2 days 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 2 days ago 1 reply      
Visual Studio sure has lots of neat extensions that add tons of value.http://vswebessentials.com/ is my fav.
gesman 2 days ago 1 reply      
If for nothing else - it shows MSFT's commitment to the language, to the platform and to the framework.
bovermyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ignoring all of the comments *ing about the Microsoft stack, this is a cool feature. Bravo, guys. I wish my IDEs had this kind of thing.
arikrak 2 days 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 2 days ago 2 replies      
It will be quite nice if this ends up yielding results for individual JavaScript frameworks some day.
forgotAgain 2 days 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.
danabramov 2 days ago 0 replies      
To those who insist this somehow encourages copy-paste style of programming, think again. What would this so-called programmer do if they didn't have this extension? They'd put this question in Google and copy the first example that works.

This extension doesn't spoil programmers any more than Google does. And if you hire this kind of programmers, this is very likely a problem of yours.

asdf3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Having this for Monodevelop and Unity3d would be great. Even better if we have community curated suggestions.
arianvanp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a with(file) statement (instead of a finally block) be much more idiomatic in the example they give? Not to be be pedantic but I think it illustrates a good criticism. How can you ensure quality code snippets that are "idiomatic?"
ykumar6 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

josephschmoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really, really want this for IntelliJ/Android Studio. Actually, everything, can I get this for everything?
codygman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is very cool, but I fear that many will label themselves as experienced programmers with nothing but the knowledge of using this tool to piece snippets together.
mallamanis 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Programming by example" is becoming an interesting trend these days. VS seems to be the first to implement widely such a feature. This of course, suggests that this small-scale reuse is very common. But could it be a "problem" of modern languages like Java and C#?
zamalek 2 days ago 0 replies      
And there-in lies the evils of code snippets. All of the snippets he selected were evil.
banachtarski 2 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds like a great way to enforce bad programming practices.
arnie001 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would like to see this for C++ soon enough. Looks great in the demo.
k_bx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want this for elisp/emacs!
Navarajan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I will wait for "Google Code Search for C#"
leonidr 2 days ago 1 reply      
We no longer need developers we need good searchers.
kyberias 2 days ago 0 replies      
But... that is not test driven!
adventureloop 2 days 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.

Complaint-Driven Development codinghorror.com
223 points by dieulot  2 days ago   70 comments top 23
foolrush 2 days ago 2 replies      
The issue here is that it cleaves toward designing for the audience you have, as opposed to the audience you seek to appease.

Often, the design goals might exist on an alternate axis.

Random people offering random opinions amounts to random noise. However, the random noise will not appear neutral; it will appear as information.

If we consider many different things designed for particular audience members such as jet cockpits, medical tools, racing automobiles, we will see traits that exist that may seem nonsensical or otherwise when we divorce them from their designed contexts.

Bill Buxton covers this in Sketching User Interfaces when he describes Inuit coastal maps:"The Inuit have used. [...] Tactile maps of the coastline, carved out of wood. They can be carried inside your mittens, so your hands stay warm. They have infinite battery life, and can be read, even in the six months of the year that it is dark. And, if they are accidentally dropped into the water, they float. What you and I might see as a stick, for the Inuit can be an elegant design solution that is appropriate for their particular environment."[1]

Focusing on complaints of the above design in all likelihood would, given the mad rabble of audiences online, result in discarding a solid bit of design.

[1] Bill Buxton, Sketching User Experiences, pg 37

andyl 1 day ago 3 replies      
I also practice CDD. But my experience is that few people complain. Maybe 1 out of 20. The rest silently endure a bad UI, walk away from the app without comment, or badmouth the app to their trusted friends.

Complainers have to be cultivated. Complainers can be your most valuable asset.

wavesounds 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is great for a startup but can be depressing for long term consulting.

I've had the unfortunate experience of building a product for someone else where the process was driven by a combination of Complain-Driven Development and Upper-Management Wish-lists. This alone might have been fine but at the same time anything positive like the real analytics about how successful the product was or any non-complaint communication coming from the users was hidden from me for fear, I suppose, that I might try to use that information get my company more money.

This became incredibly depressing. Everyday you show up to work putting in more and more hours into something that comes back with more and more complaints. It was hell and I did everything I could to end Complaint-Driven Development to no avail because thats how the customer liked to work. Eventually I finally just gave up and left to find something more rewarding and less soul crushing.

jorgeleo 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the fact that this blog talks about the elephant in the room

It really does not matter what methodology, or tools you will use, if at the end it does not pass the user acceptance test

So why consider it a failure if you have users telling you what they want and how off you are? Better to embrace it and make a better product

yoha 2 days ago 1 reply      
Something is not clear about the character count requirement: did they set it to one or just finally found the right way to present it? If this is the former as the messages from the dialogs suggest, I think he should have highlighted the fact that the problem was not one of design (i.e. making users understand the limit), but functional (i.e. not forcing users to pad a too-short message).
mathattack 2 days ago 1 reply      
This process takes a lot of humility. It's not easy to say, "We are smart, but we don't know, so let's just get something out there." It's antithetical to the planning mania in so many big companies, and also why innovation like this is best from small places. I wish them the best!
gingerlime 2 days ago 3 replies      
I totally agree. The problem for us however is actually deciding what's the most complained-about request, and how to categorize those requests. I find that we each have our pet hates and loves, and even if we don't mean to, we develop selective hearing for complaints or praises.

We tried to add tags to support emails (via helpscout), but it's also hard to remember to tag things, and it's easy to use different tags for similar complaints.

I wonder about the best strategy to quantify complaints / suggestions and 'bucket' them correctly, so you can really choose the top ones.

RogerL 2 days ago 2 replies      
While I grasp the reasoning in the article, and sometimes practice it, I also think it is often either counter productive or impossible.

For example, I have friends that released a rather ho-hum mobile app. They quickly garnered something like a 1.5 star rating, scathing reviews, and almost no conversions. The business cycle on this was a year, and they are still trying to claw back reputation and win users. It's a debacle. (the problems weren't their fault, but that is irrelevant to this point).

Then you have companies with secrecy, like Apple. I think this advice would be terrible for them (I have never worked there, and am open to correction). They can't dog food it widely due to the internal silos, and they certainly cannot test it with the public.

Then there are electronic systems - iterations on SW is easy, iterations on HW expensive and hard, even with simulations, mock ups, and what have you. I worked on an augmented reality hardware thingy several years ago; we went from foam cutouts to a couple of very expensive prototypes, and that was it.

It is awesome when we can completely sidestep a problem, and this process lets you sometimes sidestep the serious difficulty of UI design. I worry when it gets bandied about as a truism, or The One True Way (not saying Jeff is doing that, I'm remarking on the wider industry). Yes, Agile lets you sidestep the problem of scheduling and estimation - sometimes. Try that when you are making a new airliner, building a cloverleaf interchange, making a car entertainment system, and so on.

edit: the converse problem is equally as large. Someone below mentioned the 'planning mania' of companies. I don't mean to downplay that problem, just to point out the need to evaluate each situation on it's particular needs as opposed to a 'best practices' (oh, how I hate that term) unthinking approach.

igravious 1 day ago 1 reply      
Tried installing Discourse on Gentoo. Turns out to be a non-trivial project and I'm no Ruby on Rails newb. I'm no code-jock but I'd love if the install story was a tad easier. Maybe I should quit whining and figure out how to turn my pain into an ebuild :
jchung 2 days ago 1 reply      
This definitely resonates. Although while feedback from discourse users naturally takes place on discourse, gathering feedback from users can often be much more difficult. We've enabled usersnap recently, which has been somewhat helpful, but hasn't created the kind of vociferous user-to-user and user-to-developer debates that you see on meta.discourse
jackson1988 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I've ever seen work is getting down deep and dirty in the trenches with your users, communicating with them and cultivating relationships. That's how you suss out the rare 10% of community feedback that is amazing and transformative.

This is simple but practical advice I think far too many people ignore. You've inspired me with this article. Glad to see you've been successful from it!

mrxd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Terrible design. 20 to go for the reply is comically bad UI writing. And then hiding it in a corner in grey text when the user is fixating on the field they are typing in? Not surprised at all it didn't work. And the "nuclear option" doesn't even meet basic usability guidelines of informing the user of input field requirements upfront, not just relying on error messaging.
collyw 1 day ago 0 replies      
One problem with this is that users don't know what they want or what is easy / possible / hard.

I constantly get asked to add another "excel parser" to my in house Django app. These days I refuse (it is way too error prone) and build it directly into the web interface. Then they realize, that even with all the nice auto-complete and cut and paste features that excel comes with, clicking a few checkboxes and a submit button in a web interface is more efficient (and less error prone) than cutting and pasting the data into Exel in the first place.

sopooneo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like responding to user complaints can help bring you closer to the nearest local maxima. But it often won't bring you beyond that unless your users are themselves UX designers or developers.

So it's useful to make your MVC as good as possible so that your users aren't forced to complain about the results of fundamental design shortcomings. That can result in more and more complex fixes, none of which should be necessary.

dodger 1 day ago 0 replies      
One time I was talking to a designer about doing it this way. The designer said "Yeah, that's a great way to find a (look of total disdain) _local_maximum_." As usual, some truth to both points of view.
kitd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did he consider that the way he wanted Discourse to be used may not have tallied with the way his users wanted to use it?

That's the underlying disconnection.

I am now working on my 3rd message-transformation/integration middleware product for a large corp. In each case, the issue tracker has been stock full of problems from people who took the product, read all the manuals about what they were supposed to do, then did it their way anyway. Because, well if they can, they will.

I think the basic problem is not challenging your personal assumptions about how you want your beloved system to be used.

the1 2 days ago 3 replies      
why not hire good UX experts who can capture these complains in product design phase?

Contact me if you need help. I'm a good UXpert.

xfalcox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Valve does this very well using reddit. A bad bug goes for a whole year on Dota 2, and if someone complains on /r/Dota2 it gets fixed in two days.

It's great, users fells empowered, and you get the priority list for free with reddit upvote system.

As for discourse were planning to deploy it this year at our intranet, and we've got 130.000 employees.

chris_wot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps this is something the Gnome guys could practice?
leaxdc 2 days ago 0 replies      
We in our company preferred chair-driven development - it's in case of failed estimate you are lashed out by chief's office chair.
johnny635 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've seen this works extremely profitably in the past. Hard to argue with results.
sergiotapia 2 days ago 3 replies      
Offtopic: I find it really tacky how this blog constantly links back to other posts of his hidden in the text.
Irrational Games (Bioshock Infinite) is shutting down irrationalgames.com
222 points by piratebroadcast  1 day ago   137 comments top 26
beloch 1 day ago 4 replies      
You've had critial success. You've made so much money you could retire, buy an island, and still have enough left over to turn it into a supervillain lair! I get it. You're only in it now for the love of creating, so why not leave the headaches of A titles behind? This is perfectly sensible. Handing off irrational to a protg, taking your buddies and spinning off a smaller studio would be a great way to do this. Firing half the company that brought you success, however, is a bit of a dick move.
tibbon 1 day ago 5 replies      
Maybe its just me, but there is something deeply flawed with the game industry's hiring/firing practices.

If a game does well, its time to lay off half (or more) of the team. Same result happens if a game does poorly of course. But it seems the only way to 'win' is to be at the top, or simply not play.

I've seen this now with everything from Harmonix to Irrational Games. There seems to be a huge amount of money made with these blockbuster games, but vanishingly few companies seem to be able to manage their game development cycles efficiently as to always need a staff. It always comes off as terrible management/project management.

For example, Harmonix's Rock Band was huge. There was around $299 million of bonuses paid to people at the top. Yet, I had friends work there get laid off repeatedly (once right before Christmas), sometimes shortly after the people at the top got the bonuses. Why in the world didn't they think to diversify a bit, run a few concurrent development cycles, etc...

The most sane way to do game development seems to be to start your own indie studio and keep your expenses very low. Everything else seems... irrational.

Argorak 1 day ago 3 replies      
Irrational created some of my favorite games, because of the amount of thought and attention to detail they poured into them. I loved most of them.

* SWAT 4: How cool is a multiplayer shooter where you actually have to breach a room from multiple sides to pressure the enemy into _not shooting_? And hold your guns until you saw any indication they would? We played that game for nights in one room for better communication.

* System Shock 2: Deeply flawed in some regards, but also the first game that creeped me out in a _perfectly well lit and bright environment_. Shodan, as always, was a great enemy.

* Freedom Force Series: A comic strategy game. It wasn't that hard (it wasn't easy, either), but had "comic" written all over the place. The description if you hovered the cursor over a mere building was "A proud participant of the Patriot City skyline." Someone put an ironic joke on the patriotic theme of the game in the description of a boring apartment block... How fun is that?

BioShock was a culmination of all that. Would you kindly pay them your respect?

mjn 1 day ago 7 replies      
Kind of a strange letter, especially given that Irrational Games is a subsidiary of Take Two. It makes it sound like Irrational is doing great, and Ken Levine just wants to try something different. But if that were the case, demolishing Irrational to try his new thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It'd be more sensible for him to just leave Irrational, starting a new endeavor (either another subsidiary under Take-Two, or his own independent thing), and leaving Irrational intact.

Possible explanations include: 1) there is not as much success going on at Irrational as implied; 2) Ken Levine is just really attached to the name, and so wouldn't let it continue in present form while he leaves to do something else under a new name; 3) ...?

hawkharris 1 day ago 1 reply      
This isn't the end...

Irrational Games will enter the waters of baptism, and a new studio will be born. An infinite number of Irrational Games studios are opening and closing at this moment, like lighthouses on an ever-expanding ocean. The only difference between past and present is semantics.

If what I'm saying sounds crazy, you owe it to yourself to play Bioshock Infinite. It's without a doubt one of the most beautiful and surreal games ever created.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      

   > we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally. 
Another one bites the dust. Sad to see irrational closing up but agree that 17 years is a long time for anything. My hope is that he isn't out to build the next candy crush thing.

zacinbusiness 1 day ago 0 replies      
I truly understand not wanting to do "more of the same" after 17 years (I do something different nearly every day). But I really hate it for their developers and artists. Having only ever played the original Bioshock (which was beyond amazing to me), I know that at least the senior devs and artists have the chops to get hired somewhere new, or to start their own companies. But the jr. guys might have a tough time.
dave_sullivan 1 day ago 3 replies      
Man, these guys made some great games.

    > To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable.
Candy crush with a story it is... Or less cynically, a totally awesome RPG with procedurally generated storylines so no playthrough is ever the same?

b0rsuk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I realize I'm promoting board games to the wrong people - to people who've already been trained to expect the same things from 'games' as from movies - but you should take a closer look at board games.

Outside of computer/console 'game' industry, games are rules. You distinguish two games by their rules. "How do you play it ?" is the question you need to ask. In video 'game' world, "game" has become an umbrella term for:- stories,- simulations,- puzzles,- actual multiplayer games,- playgrounds/toys (Minecraft, MMO...)

Basically any interactive software that is used for entertainment is called a game these days. I guess vlc also meets the criteria, after all you can use it to watch porn.

There's a parallel between Test Driven Development and board games. Today, computer games have become so complex and have so many moving parts that they have more in common with simulations than board games they largely came from. This is because you no longer understand all or even most of its RULES. Computer is kind enough to calculate everything for you. You don't know why a fireball deals 23 damage or why your city suffers an epidemic. It could be because it's scripted that way, because something gives it a +20% bonus (added before or after X ? Is it actually +20% or * 1.2 ? Wording is ofter ambiguous). The player is only expected to move around in a world and bump into things. Often the quickest way to learn a game is to try it. Learn the way children learn languages - not by memorizing grammar rules, but by practicing.

Why TDD ? It is often claimed that in Test Driven Development, you write tests before you write code. THEN you write minimal code to pass those tests. By definition, you have practically 100% test coverage, which can be nice.

By definition, you know all the rules of a board game. The rules tell you how and when move pieces, cards, tokens around.

Modding and house rules is rampant in board game world. It happens even accidentally - when you fail to learn rules correctly, and later decide it's more fun that way. It's absolutel fine to play with "wrong" rules if all players agree to do it beforehand. Board game players often make their expansions, variants, prettier game art.


Fun fact: "Sacrifice" spell in Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is widely considered one of worst spells in the game. Sacrifice a unit to resurrect another one ? Load game, I wasted so many resources on level5 guild!!

Unless you know the formula, which is NOT specified in the game. Then you can produce a table like this:http://wstaw.org/m/2012/12/05/imps_1.png

With a modest investment (3 skill points and growth bonus building), you can sacrifice 1 week worth of imps(level1) to resurrect 2 weeks worth of Archdevils (level7). Assuming you get the guild, it all comes early enough to be relevant in a cutthroat multiplayer game. And it gets better and better as the game progresses, because unlike with most spells the effect doesn't increase in a logarithmic fashion (experience levels), but with troop counts.

This is not good. This is devastating. The huge discrepancy between the perceived value of the spell and its actual value is due to bad documentation and hidden rules. It is extremely common for computer games to contain hidden, unexplained rules.

uchi 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those not in the knowhow, BioShock Infinite was in development for a very long time. Work began on the game in 2008 and the first public announcement of the project was made in 2010. One developer when interviewed at polygon was quoted as saying that they culled enough content to make five or six games. E3 footage of the game over the years (and hell, even tv commercials of the game,) have nothing in common with the final released product with the sole exception of Columbia as a setting and different character versions of Elizabeth and Booker.

as soon as I get to a PC I will post sources

minimaxir 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is likely correlated with the absurd sales Bioshock Infinite received after release. (Down from $60 to $20 less than 6 months after release). They probably needed money.
venomsnake 1 day ago 1 reply      
It was expected. Probably he got fed up with modern publishing and Bioshock Infinite didn't do that great either - the 2 Bioshocks were on the verge of greatness, but it slipped from their hand mostly due to publisher interference (like not releasing modding tools and shipping with encrypted and signed content packs) when all of the community was begging for them. Bioshock has the potential to be the pre skyrim skyrim ...

And bioshock infinite was threading on too safe ground. I really hope that his new studio will have bursts of creativity and success and the left out employees find better jobs soon.

lectrick 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know if anyone from Irrational Games is watching this, but from an oldish gamer, thank you so much for your creative and entertaining efforts over the years and I wish you all the best in your next adventures.
mariusmg 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really fishy (the whole situation and the studio closure).

First of all Irrational Games is (wholly) owned by Take Two. So only Take Two decides what happens with the studio. From the statement i guess they decided that is "less bad" if Levine steps up and says they "wind down" instead of Take 2 announcing they close the studio. Basically PR damage.

Regarding the reason....looking at their output it seems they had it coming. After the original Bioshock (2007) they took 6 (!!) years to release Infinite (and even that was codeveloped with 2K Australia). The financial losses must have been pretty big.

deletes 1 day ago 0 replies      
my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than weve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience.

I just read that as; we are gonna make an even more narative based System Shock 2 equivalent.

b0rsuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why I've backed 9 Kickstarter games already. It may not be perfect, but I'm not a part of the problem anymore. Traditional publishers put the carriage before the horse. They use money earned by Game 11 to fuel Game 12. When you're buying a game you like, you're NOT paying for its production costs. You're paying for its sequel production costs.

Kickstarter success is reputation/prototype based. You need either a great reputation or a great prototype. It's essentially a form of grant. Many of the games which succeed will ultimately fail in the "fun" sense. Yet I'm convinced that, as broken as AAA publishers are, throwing dice gives me a better chance.

Check out board games. There's big innovation and it's entirely game mechanic based.

david_otoole 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had the privilege of working at IG for a few years back during the SWAT4 / FFV3R / Bioshock 1 days, when the people who made System Shock 2 were largely still there.

It's sad to see the name being retired, but it's better than seeing the name ruined by a flop or diluted by endless sequels.

The announcement is pretty opaque---I expect the rumor mill to churn for awhile.

Eric_WVGG 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great news for fans of Ken Levine.

I just finished Bioshock Infinite a couple weeks ago, and I was left feeling weirdly angry. It was a great story, shoehorned into a mediocre shooter. All of the problems with Bioshock were amplified. Which was necessary; in order to justify that kind of budget, they needed to make a game that would sell to the lowest-common-denominator.

Hating on Bioshock Infinite is a bit like criticizing a Hollywood blockbuster for being dumbed-down. What did dummies like me expect?

To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. This is what fans of System Shock and Bioshock have been clamoring for. Set free of Take Two's blockbuster expectations, Levin will be free to deliver it.

troymc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone here translate "core gamer" and "core gaming audience" for me? Those phrases mean nothing to me.
exgamebiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a misconception that BioShock Infinite was a massive hit. It had the kind of budget that needed to sell 3+, maybe even 4+, million units to break even. It sold 4 million, but a lot of those were at discounted prices or via Steam sales. Remember, it took five years with a large team and had a premium marketing budget. I'm going to guess about $80-100 million prior to marketing.

Also, the crunch time was horrendous for much of the project. The project churned through people who left bitter and burned out.

I'm not sayin' BI is a bad game, but this isn't the story of a well-managed studio.

johnny635 1 day ago 2 replies      
Get out of the gaming industry while you still can. Otherwise, you'll be looking at getting out of the software industry in no time.
winslow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well this is sad. I've been thoroughly impressed with Bioshock Infinite's gameplay, plot, story, AI, art, and attention to detail. Hopefully the artists/devs/writers will find another position elsewhere.

I wonder what happened. It sounds like Bioshock Infinite didn't bring in the cash they thought it would? Reminds me of Ensemble Studios closing after AoE:III and Halo Wars.

shrnky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok, time to call most of you out. Why's this company different? When nameless corporations lay everyone off I usually here how broken capitalism is and how huge companies are evil, etc., but in this case I see more people trying to rationalize it.
leonatan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sad to see them go. Their latest games weren't as good as their early ones (too much shooting), but still sad. Hope to see Levine involved in a project soon.
grogenaut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Surprised at the lack of hate for Ken at this dick move.
wnevets 1 day ago 1 reply      
I cant forgive them for tribes vengeance.
HTTP 308 Incompetence Expected insanecoding.blogspot.com
222 points by aw3c2  3 days ago   42 comments top 7
hobohacker 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
side note: reminded me of some of these 7XX HTTP Status codes - Developer Errors https://github.com/joho/7XX-rfc
10 Questions People Ask When I Tell Them I Own an Airplane fivezeromike.com
218 points by jeiting  10 hours ago   116 comments top 15
lutusp 8 hours ago 7 replies      
It's important to say that the general aviation population has gotten much smaller over the last few decades. It was a lot more popular 25 years ago when I flew much more than I do now. A number of aircraft manufacturers have stopped building small general-aviation planes for a number of reasons including liability and a reduction in public interest.

I started flying about 1980. By 1992, 12 years later, about half the pilots I knew in 1980 (instructors as well as students) had been killed in flying accidents. That's another reason for the decline in activity.

JHof 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't like all this talk of risk and death. While it's true that more accidents happen with small GA aircraft, it isn't really the dangerous activity non-fliers make it out to be. When accidents do occur, it's almost always due to some very poor decisions made on the part of the pilot - taking off over wight, bad weather/icing, shoddy maintenance, etc.

I started out with GA flying and later became a flight instructor, then moved on to flying small turboprops (into some very treacherous airports), and now fly jets with an airline. I've never known anyone personally who has been killed or injured in an aircraft accident. Even flying for an airline, I'm baffled by the sense of danger some passengers feel by going up in a large jet.

Here's a startup that's trying to reverse the decline of GA flying - OpenAirplane.com. They launched last year and have caught on pretty quickly. It's a universal rental checkout for GA pilots, such as the OP. Get checked out in, say, a Cessna 172 in Detroit, and you're set to rent a similar Cessna 172 in Florida. The requirement for a checkout at each operator from which one wants to rent can be a roadblock for would-be renters, and this solves the problem. The company has the backing of most major aviation insurance providers and even Cessna Aircraft Company.

rsync 1 hour ago 5 replies      
Here's a question:

Tell me about single engine (what you appear to have) vs. multi engine (twin, I guess) ?

Should I be thinking about redundancy in plane engines the same way I think about redundancy in ... say ... kidneys ?

It seems to me that I would really, really want a twin engined plane...

edit: I found this [1] but I'm not sure I buy it. I am all about simplicity in systems, but redundancy in a critical component is a different thing. Further, Perrow speaks of fortuitous surpluses (or whatever) as an unalloyed good in [2]. This seems like just the kind of surplus I'd want...

[1] http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?AirplaneRule

[2] Normal Accidents (run, don't walk, to buy and read it)

jrs235 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
For those wondering how much it costs to get your private pilot's license...

You'll need to study and pass a written examine so you'll have to either purchase self-study books or take a ground school class. (This is relatively cheap, a few hundred dollars.)

You need to log 40 hours of flight training time. Depending on locale, anticipate paying $100-$150 per hour for a flight instructor and $100-$150 per hour for plane rental and fuel. So that's $200-$300 an hour times 40 hours so a ballpark estimation is $8000 to $12000 MINIMUM. Depending how quickly you get to flying solo (with your instructor on the ground) and how well you do will determine if your flight instructor will sign off after the minimum 40 hours.

EDIT: You'll need to pay for the examine and I forgot, you'll need to get an "FAA physical" and an okay from a physician which you'll also have to pay for (unless you can get your health insurance to pay for it as a yearly physical examine).

mcdougle 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've been toying with the idea of getting my pilot's license (eventually) partially for the sake of avoiding the TSA when I actually have to travel. What I'm curious about is how difficult/expensive it is to rent a plane that can fly further than stated in the article? (say, TX to CA, for instance) I imagine it wouldn't make much sense to buy a huge cross-country jet for the occasional long trips, although I am kind of surprised it's only ~$30k for a smaller one!
Udo 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I would love an app that matches passengers to GA flights going between airfields, essentially a ride-sharing option for small aircraft. Pilots could offload a bit of the fuel cost and passengers could go between short range destinations very fast if they're lucky.
nathanstitt 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey, I own your plane's sister (N8550W).

I'm surprised you didn't mention "Can you fly at night?" That's one I always get.

mmanfrin 8 hours ago 1 reply      
13 MPG is surprisingly good, I always thought it was much, much less.
noname123 8 hours ago 4 replies      
You forgot the LAQ: "Can someone who only 'trained' on a Flight Simulator be able to take-off and land in a real plane?'
DanielleMolloy 8 hours ago 2 replies      
There are a couple of websites for airplane pooling around:http://www.skypool.com/

Like ridesharing / carpooling, just with airplanes. They are clearly not as successful as the car variant, but when flight destinations / times match they might offer a little adventure on the route (and one could avoid some of the traffic jams around the Bay Area).

apunic 8 hours ago 9 replies      
Don't get me wrong but I do not get what's so exciting about flying yourself or owning a plane. Flying is for getting from point A to B. Flying just for fun missing any purpose might be fun the first couple of times but then it's like driving a bus from A to A.
jokoon 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
still wondering if today you can build a cheap airplane that just burns less fuel...
mariuolo 5 hours ago 2 replies      
How much red tape is there if one wants to cross an international border?
asjordan 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane." -Charles Morse, "The Edge" (1997)
computerslol 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a site where you can find other people that want to fly from somewhere specific too somewhere specific to share fuel costs with? I'd love to go up in a private plane for a few hours if it only cost me $200 or less.
Putin on the Ritz hackerfactor.com
201 points by yoha  1 day ago   85 comments top 32
sz4kerto 1 day ago 4 replies      
Haha, the modified photo appeared in a satirical post on Index.hu, there's nothing to see here people, move on. :)


Here're the other posts from the same series:http://index.hu/szarvas/

All entries are simple montages, they're only funny for people who know Hungarian politics, but for them they're quite obvious.

Edit: the man in the middle of the photo is the Hungarian President of the State, and well, he probably won't kneel when signing an agreement -- even if Putin's there. :)

TeMPOraL 1 day ago 4 replies      
The main angle of the post (dressing exactly the same all the time) is a very interesting one, but the end points are somewhat scary.

Think of it: if it's so easy to fake color photos so that people won't notice, isn't it easier to fake black&white photos? How do you know this is real: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Yalta_Con...? I don't. If we routinely don't trust colour pictures in newspapers, why should we trust historic photographs?

We've reached a point in time when we can start actually faking history. The only way to check if something happened now would be to find original copies of old photographs and books. But it's only matter of time before they'll be gone forever, or stuck deep in museum vaults, to be accessed by selected few. We could rewrite the history for next generation and no one would likely notice it.

aleyan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Trust is something hard to come by and when dealing with foreign sources you have to rely on translators and their issues. What is worse, even if the translators are reliable, alterations can be made after the fact, but verification is difficult because of language barriers.

Here is an example that my father found about Putin's person of the year interview with Time. Time published a full transcript [1] in English and Kremlin published the full transcript [2] in Russian. The very first question is different! Kremlin's version includes a question where the reported bungled the Putin's birthday and though he was born in 1946 instead of 1952, but Time omits it. It wasn't a very substantive question, but it did set the tone for the interview and the difference is upsetting. As far as I know this particular issue has not been widely discussed for the past 7 years.

If media and/or governments alter the smallest records for reasons of incompetence, what do they do to hide larger errors?

[1] http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/a...[2] http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=ht...

PakG1 1 day ago 0 replies      
The cool digital analysis aside, what if people who do this aren't pulling a Kim Jong Il, but rather are pulling a Steve Jobs?


No need to feed conspiracy theorists unnecessarily. Always look for the story behind the story too. Now of course, all of that evidence of digital alteration is another thing. And it may very well have been simply a newspaper who wanted some kind of photo, but didn't have the photographer to get a real one (or the opportunity didn't exist). Maybe Putin ordered it. Maybe he didn't. Maybe his people did. Maybe they didn't. Likewise on the Hungary side.

stoolpigeon 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... with some guy in the middle signing papers."

His name is in the tags with the photo. He's the president of the country. All that effort but can't be bothered to identify the president.

return0 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the storywriter's distortion lens is always more powerful than some altered digital photos.
sp332 1 day ago 0 replies      
Daniel Radcliffe annoyed paparazzi by wearing the same outfit every day. They couldn't sell the photos since it looked like they were all taken the same day. http://www.imdb.com/news/ni0051271/ Video of the interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJT0hq3lHDE
milliams 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure about that rainbow colour-scheme used.


thearn4 1 day ago 2 replies      
` PCA measures JPEG artifacts.`

Just for some clarification - how does that work, exactly? If you decompose an image using PCA/SVD and find a cliff in the spectrum, is that a fingerprint of JPEG compression?

edoloughlin 1 day ago 1 reply      
However, the biggest clue appears when we apply a basic color histogram to the picture

Can anyone explain what this means? It doesn't match my understanding of what a histogram is (i.e., a graph of values vs frequency of occurrence).

yoha 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author has up a website [1] that gives an overview of what forensics can do with photos.

[1] http://fotoforensics.com/

karon 1 day ago 0 replies      
The middle figure in the picture is Jnos der, president of Hungary. The image was created by a Hungarian blogger/artist named szarvas:http://szarvas.tumblr.com/image/76316693473

The news portal index.hu regularly republishes his work, this is where the confusion may have originated from:http://index.hu/szarvas/2014/02/11/ader_alair/you can see the post among other posts here:http://index.hu/szarvas/

Here is a thread where a commenter points out how photo manipulation is frowned upon by professional photographers on their forum, and they can't believe "how a political journalist can do this while a war correspondent can't draw smoke near an explosion.", linking to his republished image on index.hu.

Of course szarvas is not a political journalist, he is a funny guy with a tumblr:http://szarvas.tumblr.com/post/76316693473/nyomomneki-lvnte-...

I wonder how the article talks about clues detectable only by applying filters to the image, yet misses the most obvious sign of retouching: the middle figure's knees, the blur around them can be seen with the naked eye, not to mention the irregular shape.

Regarding the other conclusion of the article (the outline around Orban and Putin seen in the histogram image), to me it simply looks like sharpening. I may be wrong.

bergie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, Steve Jobs was also known for wearing the same outfit year-by-year.


Grue3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Huh, I live in Russia and I never noticed that Putin always wears the same clothes. Fascinating. I certainly wouldn't put using Communist-era photo-op tactics past him.
coldtea 1 day ago 2 replies      
>Kim Jong Il rarely appeared in digitally altered photos. Instead, he did a different type of misdirection. In almost every photo of him, KJI wore the same clothing. It's as if he only owned one set of clothing (or a closet full of the same discount gray suits). This wasn't because KJI had no taste. Instead, it allowed his counter-intelligence people to publish any photo of him over the decades as if it were a recent photo. People couldn't just look at a photo and identify when it was taken.

And that's a feature we intended to get by wearing the same clothes because?

How is the ability to publish any old photo as recent relavent at all?

anonymfus 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you enjoy conspiracies theory about Putin, I heard about two.

First is very realistic, that in 2013 he fabricated fishing in Tyva:


Second is that he has multiple doubles, including one mongoloid.

xentronium 1 day ago 0 replies      
Russian contemporary novelist Victor Pelevin explored a similar theme in his "Generation P" book (1999). The idea was that there were no "real" politicians, because all of them were fabricated digital images to sell more ads. Quite an entertaining read.

On goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9667484-generation / http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/337672.Homo_Zapiens translated version)

ohwp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Searching for 'putin heineken' gives me images of Putin dressed as an astronaut drinking beer:


So there are your pics and it did happen

robmcm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Didn't Steve Jobs always wear the same outfit? Perhaps that's so if he's in a photo now they could say it was taken years ago!
xenonite 1 day ago 0 replies      
The one table leg being longer can be easily be attributed the lens distortion.

One would expect that, being in a room, a fisheye lens has been used in the original picture. But that would have led to a barrel distortion. Instead, a zoom lens was used. This has an interesting side effect: Putin, sitting at the border of the photo, then appears larger.

joebo 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The whole pose looked off to me. It seemed odd that important papers would be signed kneeling. Is that customary anywhere?
jmnicolas 1 day ago 1 reply      
What never cease to amaze me is how secret services around the globe waste so much time on trivial things like that.

I read somewhere that the US president always traveled with its own toilets in fear of spies analyzing his "production" oO

Meanwhile people are still dying of hunger ...

kyrra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Totally offtopic, but the title reminded me of: http://putintheritzon.ytmnd.com/ (has audio
tragomaskhalos 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am currently reading Orwell's 1984 to my daughter.I am able to tell her that it is mostly fiction ...
bayesianhorse 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a very long list of Russian transparency problems, faking photos of diplomatic meetings is one of the least objectionable.

Not everyone can take a selfie with Obama!

almosnow 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't get the connection between Putin wearing the same clothes and the photo manipulation explained at the end.

Looks like he wanted to write about two different things but smashed them into just one without coherence...

Jeremy1026 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are the photos appearing for anyone? Or are we all getting unable to load?
puppetmaster3 1 day ago 0 replies      
ras-Putin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRWiqjgOyX0

You can thank me later.

artumi-richard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Putin died three years ago, fact.


noel82 1 day ago 0 replies      
IMHO even the one with Gheddafi could be a fake, the light is not the same on the subjects..
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