hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    31 Mar 2014 Best
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Tesla Adds Titanium Underbody Shield and Aluminum Deflector Plates to Model S teslamotors.com
597 points by austenallred  3 days ago   394 comments top 46
rkalla 2 days ago 9 replies      
This is what you get when a company/group/effort/community is lead by a "benevolent dictator" - someone with an absolutely pure vision of what they want their output to look like and the autonomy and strength to make it so no matter what.

I love this... I actually love that it probably pissed off Musk to no end the amount of attention the fires got and out of spite he went totally over the top and added ballistic plating to the bottom of the car as a super-constructive "fuck you" to everyone that bitched about it.

I am picturing this same thing happening at Chrysler or GM and I think 9 out of 10 CEOs would just let the whole non-issue blow over and go back to business - and the 1 CEO that would try and push for a ridiculous over-engineering solution like this would probably get shot down by the board.

That's why I like this, it's going way above and beyond because he can and because he believes in the vision he is selling so firmly that there is no wiggle room: "My cars are the best and goddamnit, I'm going to make them the best."

<standard disclaimers about personal viewpoints and preferences>

Just want to focus on the pursuit of perfection that I find so energizing - to put another way, if you had someone this passionate running each of the major airlines, I wonder what air travel would be like instead of the race-to-the-bottom experience it is now.

zacharycohn 3 days ago 18 replies      
"We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario."

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

sz4kerto 3 days ago 3 replies      
"However, to improve things further, we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds"

I know this is not specific to Tesla, but it's still really cool. :)

doe88 3 days ago 7 replies      
Why would Elon choose to post on Medium and not on the blog of Tesla? It would definitively bring more credence to post it on their official website. Until reading near the end I wasn't sure it was a Tesla employee/official or a third party story (and I use the term story here and not article on purpose because usually on Medium it is more stories than facts).
utefan001 3 days ago 1 reply      
Almost got the wording perfect! (under shield vs underbody shield)

1 point by utefan001 175 days ago | link

I am sure it is easier said than done, but it seems like the batteries simply need to be better protected. Something like a carbon fiber or titanium under shield.

JohnBooty 3 days ago 2 replies      
In a sense, Teslas are the least safe cars on the road, because I'd kill every single one of you in order to own one.
squigs25 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's really difficult to emphasize how excessive this is. As a mechanical engineer, I knew just by reading the title that this is really excessive, because the titanium alloy used is definitely a marketing stunt.

Titanium has unbelievable tensile strength for its weight, but there's no good reason to make an "underbody shield" out of titanium except for publicity. It would make way more sense to use steel (and maybe you could make a case for something ultra light weight, like carbon fiber, but probably not).

Theodores 3 days ago 0 replies      
People want to test this car to extremes, it is as if they are subjecting it it the coding equivalent of DDOS attack with some sql injection payload of a Stuxnet virus. Let's see what else the media find wrong with this car, e.g.:

'After flying into a cloud of paint and superglue the windscreen wipers failed to work resulting in a dangerous collision'.

(As if that happens every day and as if any other car would do better.)

If the naysayers keep up their petulant trolling then this car will be good for a road trip in Afghanistan some time soon.

jusben1369 3 days ago 4 replies      
"An ode to passive/aggressive and hyper defensive writing"

Did this remind anyone else of when the smartest kid in the room was forced to apologize for something and you got the classic non apology apology?

Keep building great cars Elon and changing the world. Understand that we understand that there will be (I almost said bumps in the road) and that no one expected you to be perfect in every way from the very beginning. Trust someone close to you to help write these things.

"When you're doing something as new as we are with Tesla you're going to draw an outsized amount of scrutiny. Even though these fires were both in extreme circumstances, and that fires are sadly a regular occurrence for all vehicle makers, as a brand new concept it's not good enough for us to say 'We're as safe as any other comparable high end vehicle' We have to go a step further. And so today I'm announcing......" I mean I'm just throwing something together quickly but I'm trying to put some substance here vs sounding randomly snarky.

pistle 3 days ago 2 replies      
Elon is revealing too much hubris in his messaging. You can treat people around you like that, but lining up too many people against you is foolish.

His intent is to PR+burnish the added safety feature. Instead of selling it as an objective demonstration of the leadership tact that Tesla takes in ensuring driver security, he gets passive-aggressive.

Instead of laying out a tremendous history of safety as a foundation for a vision of the future of driving, he lords it as an accomplished achievement... which means the first time someone gets stuck inside the car and is burned alive, all these statements will bite him in the ass. It doesn't matter if that happened 100 times in gas cars the same year. Those manufacturers weren't overselling it.

In aggressively projecting strength, it expresses weakness.

pocketstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the website: "Welcome! We noticed that you are in Canada . Would you like to view the Canadian version of the site? Visit the Canadian Site" as a small unobtrusive banner along the bottom of the screen that disappears if I continue to scroll through the article. This is the BEST implementation of this geothing I have ever seen. Especially compared to Newegg's massive grey screen banner that asks me every fucking time and never remembers my answer.
rikf 3 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest take away from that article for me is that they are offering the fix for free to current owners. How many other car companies would do that? Unless they where required to by law which is clearly not the case here.
eumenides1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Internet, please make a tumblr of Tesla car gifs running over things. Thanks!
crusso 3 days ago 1 reply      
"This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph"

My pity meter regarding the resulting vehicle fire doesn't seem to be moving.

andrewtbham 2 days ago 0 replies      
The risk of fire from collision was significantly higher that from conventional ICE. The figures Elon used included fires from electrical and mechanical failures, and even arson. Raising the car mitigated the risks in the short term. This is a long term solution. Kudos.

Here is full statistical analysis of why it was a real problem.


chromaton 3 days ago 0 replies      
The post doesn't mention the titanium alloy or thickness of the shield, both of which make a significant difference. Pure titanium (Grade 2) isn't especially strong compared to aluminum or steel, but it is less expensive. Heat treated 6Al-4V alloy, AKA Grade 5 on the other hand, is the stuff used in military aircraft and the like.
po 2 days ago 0 replies      
However, to improve things further, we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, substantially reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact.

This is the most crazy thing about the press release and I feel like it went largely unnoticed. Not that it is a bad thing at all but it really illustrates that we're totally living in a different world than what I grew up with. Cars are now largely defined by software.

userbinator 3 days ago 5 replies      
Very, very good idea.

Personally I think the ground clearance is still a bit on the low side.

It looks like it lost a bolt or something in the first impact image... oops.

ghshephard 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any other car manufacturers that have similar levels of clearance? I'd be intrigued to see how they perform in the same test scenarios that the Teslas were run against.
harichinnan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just had a thought that Elon Musk owning both Tesla and SpaceX, the next logical step would be an electric powered airplane or a chopper. It could be an airplane/chopper that would glide down to safety in case of a mechanical failure, or crash land on rough terrain without fear of catching fire. That would disrupt aviation industry like never before.
trekky1700 1 day ago 0 replies      
"However, to improve things further, we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, substantially reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact."

That is just so cool.

kordless 3 days ago 0 replies      
As soon as I have funds to do so, I'm buying a Tesla Model S. I'm amazed at the dedication to the process of building a superior product.
tschlossmacher 1 day ago 0 replies      
You know what I love about Tesla? They continue to innovate and create change in the auto industry, most of all as a company they are powered by transparency.

Similar to other luxury auto companies they facilitate innovation. While luxury car companies strive to create beautiful, seamless and future-forward vehicles at a high cost, they can afford (similar to startups) to bring in new ideas to not only rule out competition but give them a market advantage. For example - recently McLaren came up with a way to introduce sound waves, instead of windshield wipers, wipers are a pain! (Not to say that the device generating the waves wouldn't be) Can you imagine toyota, chrysler, or ford doing something of the sort? Of Course not - it takes probably 20 hours for them to build one of theirs, where it might take Rolls Royce 6-7 months. However there are different profit margins and reputable name sake.

I like to think Elon has engineered his company nicely in between :), he surely got pissed off by the media and had fun adding that ballistic plate to the bottom

001sky 3 days ago 3 replies      
Kudos for an engineering led solution. I have no idea what "ballistics grade aluminum" is (since nobody uses ALU for ballistics armour##), but Ti has more inherent toughness# and seems a better fit as a skid-plate.

# elongation and tensile strength.

## The ballistic standard for armour (RHA) is a 1/4 steel plate. Ballistic Alu is roughly 1/2 inch or double the thickness used here, in most applications.

pc86 3 days ago 1 reply      
> we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds

Let's just think about how awesome that is for a moment.

fidotron 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm guessing the actual titanium shield is relatively small, but either way I hope it's welded to the car well, as that stuff is valuable.
symmetricsaurus 3 days ago 2 replies      
"With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla."

I don't doubt that the Tesla Model S is a very safe car as tests have shown. With that said, how many deaths and serious injuries would have been expected considering the same number of miles driven with normal cars? Are Teslas actually substantially safer than other cars or are there just few enough out there that no serious injuries have happened?

malandrew 2 days ago 1 reply      

    "However, to improve things further, we provided an over-    the-air software update a few months ago to increase the     default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds,     substantially reducing the odds of a severe underbody     impact."
How can a software update impact ground clearance at highway speeds? Is this some special capability of the suspension in a Tesla or are more cars capable of this type of adjustment?

martin_bech 3 days ago 1 reply      
Always impressed in the companys ability to push things further. They will do to some of the current manufactures what Apple did to Blackberry and Nokia.
hyp0 2 days ago 1 reply      
love Musk's posts, esp "peace of mind", free retrofit, and that amazing crash that was walked away from.

but although there's "ballistic" grade alumimium, titanium that's usually found in "military" applications, and the steel "spear" braced in asphalt test, will it survive assault rifle fire? or anti-tank weapons? how about a tactical nuclear strike? i mean, is it really safe?

curiousDog 2 days ago 0 replies      
An OTA update to increase the ground clearance at highway speeds. Wow. Just wow. I for one welcome the future and please give this man all the money he wants.
arikrak 3 days ago 3 replies      
Nice move on their part. I think while the Tesla may be less fire-prone than other cars, Musk exaggerates it:

"The odds of fire in a Model S, at roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles, are five times lower than those of an average gasoline car..."

What matters is the miles driven by cars, not the number of cars on the roads. It seems likely that other cars are driven longer distances, and Tesla cars are probably used by many owners as a second car.

vive 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely the amount of effort Tesla is devoting to ensure the safety of passengers is highly appreciated. I was awaiting for their Cars to be launched in my country. Definitely I would buy one :) Keep rocking Tesla!
mkhalil 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tesla will need to continue to fight this PR with the truth and improvements like this; for the big 3, the oil companies, and dealership organizations will continue to try to put them down.

They need us to help spread the truth, as much as we need significant improvements in the automotive/transportation industry.

leccine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Long live Tesla and Elon Musk! People like him are the hope of humanity that we actually going forward (rather slowly but hey)...
adamrneary 3 days ago 2 replies      
Cause and effect: A statistically insignificant number of fires in Teslas caused a disproportionate amount of news coverage (there was much less news coverage about Tesla's best-ever safety rating). This perception needs to be overcome, even if it means informed consumers having to pay for titanium underneath otherwise safe cars. Tesla is doing their part, but it's a shame to see so many outside factors driving up the cost.
olssy 3 days ago 3 replies      
Did anyone else notice a screw coming detached from the titanium underbody shield after the impact of the three ball tow hitch, you can also see the shield bend on the impact of the concrete block and the hole where the screw was. It would be kind of ironic if this actually made the car less safe.
srg0 3 days ago 1 reply      
Assuming the underbody plate is only 2mm thick, the Model S is suddenly accelerating 5% slower. To put it otherwise, every acceleration now takes at least 4% more energy (> 0.01 kWh for an acceleration from from 0 to 65 mph). Sounds great for city driving.
sgy 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's another side for the story..Car Dealers Could be Napsterized


nathanvanfleet 3 days ago 0 replies      
"In short, if you ever run over a human head the car is designed to complete decimate it and break it into several pieces." Wow that's harsh.
trhway 2 days ago 0 replies      
until somebody drives Model S in Iraq and hits IED ...
notastartup 2 days ago 0 replies      
Elon Musk is the heartthrob of our generation, producing electric cars, space rockets, wish I was as successful.
jlebrech 3 days ago 0 replies      
sounds more like a tank
bsdetector 3 days ago 1 reply      
Curious that it doesn't mention battery swaps. Since this is a PR piece I'm assuming from lack of mention that you can no longer swap batteries after having the extra battery shield added.

Battery swap was always a gimmick -- you had to return to the same swap station later to get your same battery back or pay a huge fee. Come on.

It looks like they decided fires are worse PR than this gimmick is good PR.

eiji 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm sorry but my first reaction is "What a waste". Titanium is ridiculously expensive for various reasons. The best these engineers could come up with is to put a sheet of metal under the car? You got to be kidding me. I see why they have to use Titanium for it, anything else doesn't work, but it shows how far away this car is from reality and from true mass production.
kzahel 3 days ago 4 replies      
"With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla."

I recall one Tesla caused death[1], and I'm sure there have been more. Not that I really think Tesla is any more dangerous than any other car in this regard though.

[1] http://blog.sfgate.com/energy/2014/02/07/tesla-driver-blames...

Meet the People Taking over Hacker News ycombinator.com
563 points by pg  1 day ago   280 comments top 44
jl 1 day ago 9 replies      
As PG's wife, I think I am the only person who knows exactly how much time, energy and thought he devoted to Hacker News. More than most HN users would guess, that's for sure. I don't think he ever planned it that way and I'm certain this site stole valuable brain power that could have been focused on writing essays. So thank you Paul for spending so much time making Hacker News such a great place to visit each day.
tptacek 1 day ago 4 replies      
Daniel Gackle ('gruseom) is an absurdly great choice as moderator. I've never been so optimistic about HN. Great call. Daniel is possibly one of the least knee-jerk people I know.

Uncloaked human moderation is also fantastic news.

nikcub 1 day ago 7 replies      
I guess i'll hijack this thread to ask anybody else if they have noticed a slip in quality of front page? I used to check HN first thing and read 50%+ of frontpage stories, now I barely click one or two.

When there is something interesting, I've often read it elsewhere, or its an Ars re-hash of a story from yesterday. When I submit stories I find interesting and HN-worthy, I find them at 3-4 points having been submitted 12 hours ago.

My perception is that the HN frontpage is being gamed more by social marketing teams, journalists who work for re-spamming blogs and growth hackers. The types of stories are more soft news, marketing from co's etc. than much more hard-tech.

As an aside, right now the homepage is unusually good - must be because it's a weekend and the social media hackers are at home.

Titanous 1 day ago 3 replies      
Now that the moderator's identity is public, a useful next step would be a public log of all moderator actions. lobste.rs has one[1] and the transparency is great.

[1] https://lobste.rs/moderations

dang 1 day ago 1 reply      
A couple of personal points that I may as well insert here.

The account I'm now using, dang, was used briefly in 2010 by someone who didn't leave an email address. I feel bad for not being able to ask them if they still want it, so I'm considering this an indefinite loan. If you're the original owner, please email me and I'll give it back to you. The reason I want the name dang is that (a) it's a version of my real name and (b) it's something you say when you make a mistake.

Second, very minor, but I need to leave this discussion for a bit while I bike to a different location. After that, I'll be in the thread for several hours... but damned if I'm going to give up my bike ride for this! :)

sillysaurus3 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thank you for creating HN.
stefantalpalaru 1 day ago 0 replies      
So which one of you guys knows how to make non-expiring pagination links?
pron 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to make what might probably be an unpopular suggestion, but I'll make it nonetheless :)

Perhaps you should simply block all comments on those stories that are likely to cause some "nonconstructive" (I don't really like the term) controversy or those whose subject has already been discussed on other stories, rather than killing them (dropping them from the front page, that is).

The reason I'm offering this is because of an argument I had with dang (gruseom) about a week ago over a story that expressed a very clear political opinion (which was particularly pertinent to HN). The reason it's important for these stories to be featured on the front page is that much of what is done in Silicon Valley is extremely political from Uber to the latest GitHub scandal. I completely understand the desire for HN to stay away from politics, but that's not the result. Seemingly shying away from politics is itself a very powerful political statement, which is often apparent to anyone reading HN when something important is going on. It either communicates that you don't understand what politics is and your role in it, reduces the role of engineers to that of mere technicians at the same time most of them claim to be the exact opposite, or sends a message of silent agreement with the status quo. In fact, this was one of the main points of that killed story.

Just as an example unrelated to that particular argument featuring stories about Uber's success while dropping stories expressing outrage over their practices either expresses agreement with their behavior or a lack of understanding of how political is everything they do. "Outrage" over Uber isn't any less "constructive" or political than a discussion of, say, how much money they're making and how.

HN isn't /r/programming. It is not a technical discussion site (although it is that, too), but one for all things SV or hacker-related, including the effect of technology on society and vice-versa. As such, HN can't hide from political discussions over those very issues.

But because "political" stories can and often do generate heated and sometimes bigoted debates, it might be best to conserve the site's desired collegial atmosphere by simply banning comments on certain stories. Dropping them from the front page sends a clear message that leaves a very bad taste in many of the readers. Letting them be, but prohibiting debate in the comments says: this is an important opinion that many of our readers think you should be exposed to. Read it or not as you wish, or post an opposite thoughtful opinion, but don't bicker over it.

susi22 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Kat Manalac (katm) and Garry Tan (garry) will be the voice of YC on HN. They'll be the ones who respond to most "Ask YC" posts and individual comments related to YC."

but the guidelines say:

"Please don't post on HN to ask or tell us something (e.g. to ask us questions about Y Combinator, or to ask or complain about moderation). If you want to say something to us, please send it to info@ycombinator.com."

Should they be updated?

staunch 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just wish Hacker News would become a much better place for showing off and discussing projects. We have so many hackers here making things and it's almost entirely hidden from view. There's too much noise and no real place to post. A very simple but huge improvement would be a dedicated place for "Show HN" posts, but so much more could be done.
rdl 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems like a great change. A dream team, and it's interesting to learn who the secret moderator has been!

My fantasy would be some way of fixing /newest as well as adding topic tags; perhaps topic tags just within /newest. I'd be happy to read everything in /newest which matches: security, crypto, hypervisor, hardware, wireless, ...; I basically find it unusable as it is now.

I don't find the level of (in)civility to be a personal deterrent, but I grew up on EFnet and alt.*, so that would be an almost 4chanian bar. I do dislike when it deters worthwhile contributions from people who are less thick skinned. I'd generally err on the side of "let people say stupid things so they can be debunked in public" vs. "censorship", but at some point lack of filtering becomes a form of censorship of its own (crapflooding, etc.)

CamperBob2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think I've seen any mention of what's going to happen with the "pending comments" plan that raised some controversy on HN a few days ago (and which I feel is a suboptimal idea that solves a problem nobody has while creating a host of brand new ones). Is this still in the works?
stickhandle 1 day ago 2 replies      
>> I don't think he plans to change much about the appearance of the site

On the whole, that's good. I would ask @kevin to make comment threads collapsible. Works that way on my hn android app and I love what it adds to the comment reading experience.

davidw 1 day ago 1 reply      
A few comments:

I hope that with perhaps a bit more time available, dang will be able to kill more political stories as well as 'outrage' stories about things not very directly connected to tech/startups - those articles that get you riled up, but really don't lead to any productive or interesting discussions.

More importantly, a big thanks to everyone involved! I live pretty far from Silicon Valley or anywhere else where everyone eats sleeps and breathes tech, so it's always been nice to have this window into that world.

Nux 1 day ago 5 replies      
Though having a community obsessed with speed, optimisation and scale, HN is the slowest site in my bookmarks, by FAR, not to mention the times when it's not working at all, sending people to a twitter page (happens every day).

I hope this issue will get addressed, too.

nubela 1 day ago 1 reply      
pg: Might I ask now that you are leaving these "obligations" behind to great people, what will you be doing with the spare cpu cycles?
suyash 1 day ago 1 reply      
PG: '... the fact that we get roughly equal grief for HN comments being bad and for being too quick to ban people is a sign he's been doing a good job so far.'

- Not in all cases, some times honest opinions and straight talk might come across as rude but it's not meant that way. Strict Policing should also provide a way for sincere members to Voice their concern or Appeal if they get 'removed' or 'shadow banned' which happens quite often. Let me know your thoughts please.

JeremyMorgan 1 day ago 0 replies      
This place is one that really seems to "get" their community and what we really want out of this place. I think not relying on it as a revenue source gives the powers that be the freedom to really serve the community. They're lucky to be in that spot and they're using it wisely.

Nice choices and it'll be cool to how it's going to move forward.

SeanDav 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can testify personally to the effort that these guys put in. Nick Sivo (kogir) spent much more time on me with a problem than I ever would have expected. Thanks Nick and congrats to all the HN guys on their official roles!
craigmccaskill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Daniel Gackle (dang/gruseom) is a great guy. My wife and I have had the fortune of hosting him via Airbnb during a couple of his visits to MTV. Fantastic conversation from what's obviously a really smart dude.
grinich 1 day ago 0 replies      
How big is HN today? Pageviews, MAU, votes/day, etc.
ElliotH 1 day ago 2 replies      
Really excited to hear about the new tools, and mobile support.
coupdejarnac 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recently began reading HN, and I really appreciate the quality of this forum. I was on Slashdot at the beginning, and having watched it slide into irrelevance with poor quality comments, it's heartening to find a place like HN. So, thank you.
jedberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was hoping you would hire Nick too so that he'd have more time to work on the code. I've been trying to get some changes to the spam filter through for a while. :)
bakhy 1 day ago 0 replies      
"the fact that we get roughly equal grief for HN comments being bad and for being too quick to ban people is a sign he's been doing a good job so far." - lol. spoken like an economist :) it's a pretty weak sign* , but i will assume the decision is not based solely on counting emails.

(*) try banning constructive commenters on the site. you would then probably also receive complaints about banning and comment shittiness in equal measure.

darkstar999 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just out of curiosity from a business standpoint, is this budgeted as marketing for YC?
ancarda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any plans to opensource HN? A while ago there seemed to be an indication it would happen eventually but it was removed about a month later: https://github.com/HackerNews/HN/commit/350fba6dfec1c23a0b76...
hyp0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Into these winds of change, I'd like to again toss my suggestion that never takes off:

Divide HN into two "sub-HNs", one for "intellectual curiosity", the other for everything else (e.g. startup news, web frameworks, A/B testing, meta-HN... even those YC startup announcements).

compare 1 day ago 2 replies      
Killing the mean and stupid stuff is great... but wish someone would kill the genuine but dismissive and negative stuff too.
jebblue 1 day ago 0 replies      
About making it look better on mobile, I'm getting back into front end work lately and am finding jQuery Mobile to very interesting. It takes a lot of the pain out of dealing with JavaScript and looks it nice. This means it is possible to teach old dogs new tricks.
mrfusion 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was kind of hoping to read about leftover swap space on Linux :-(

What gets put there? Could passwords be on it even after you shut down your computer?

joeblau 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it still going to run on one machine, or are we going to get that cloud upgrade?

Edit: Or did we already get that cloud upgrade and I missed it?

gus_massa 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope that you are still going hang out here to write oneliners.
jasonwen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was indeed surprised when i checked HN on mobile last week. The simple layout would suggest it would scale on mobile. Glad it's being worked on.
sktrdie 1 day ago 1 reply      
If they change the UI they'll probably break 100+ apps that are using HTML scraping to get HN's data.
rafeed 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great news on the mobile front.

Thanks for HN, pg!

wdr1 1 day ago 0 replies      
On behalf of the community, thanks PG!
tsomctl 1 day ago 2 replies      
but users will be happy to hear he has a plan to make it work better on mobile devices.

iPhone 4s user here. This scares me. Unlike almost every other site, Hacker News currently works great in mobile Safari.

argumentum 16 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the things I admire most about PG is that everything he creates seem like extensions of his mind. He, more than anyone else I've ever met, seems to take life as a genuine exploration: not just of the world, but of himself.

It's kind of sad to see him "sign of" HN and YC so quickly and without fuss. Part of me wants a grander send-off, with commemorations, "look backs", speeches etc. He certainly would deserve this, though I doubt he'd want it.

But it's not really that sad, because each act of his life's play has been greater than the last. Having been so inspired by what he's done so far, I can only imagine what comes next.

Thanks PG for Hacker News and Y-combinator .. both have changed the world for the better. Also, thanks for handing them off to such awesome hackers, who will certainly carry them on and up.

orlandob 1 day ago 0 replies      
HN is my #1 source of information on the internet. Without HN (an HN ALGOLIA!) I'd be lost.
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
What are the two senses of the word thoughtful? Is it a Cali thing? :)
6thSigma 1 day ago 1 reply      
HN usernames would be helpful in the post.
jbeja 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love this site!.
jdp23 1 day ago 0 replies      
I for one welcome our new YCombinatorial overlords!
Whatever goes up, thats what we do dcurt.is
561 points by uptown  3 days ago   219 comments top 58
steven2012 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is essentially what happened in my group when I was at Yahoo. Our group spent several months on a redesign that made it significantly more modern and easier to use. After it went live, though, this decreased the number of ad clicks by a significant number, and the people in charge hurriedly reverted all the changes back, since they needed to make their revenue numbers in order to make their bonus.

When you are stuck in a company that can't innovate because a shitty site leads to more money due to inertia, then you know you are on your way down. This leads to your best developers thinking "what the fuck did I waste all my time for?" and they will leave in no uncertain terms.

akamaka 3 days ago 4 replies      
Nice theory, but I think Dustin's conclusions are wrong.

I got to use this alternative design on my second Facebook account that I used for app development, while my personal account didn't have it enabled. I really disliked like the new sidebar design. The concept was similar to what GMail has done lately, with text links replaced by only graphical icons. I found it really difficult to remember what each icon linked to, and I'd have to go through and hover over each icon one by one.

My theory (which I think has as much evidence to back it up as Dustin's) is that if the feed performed better in this design, it was because the poorly designed menu made it more difficult to navigate the rest of the site!

modeless 3 days ago 8 replies      
This article makes one big unstated assumption: that users wanted the news feed to change. In fact, users didn't want the news feed to change. Users hate change. And when I say that I don't mean that users are stupid and hate good things. Users have good reasons for hating change that's forced on them: it reduces the value of their previous experience and requires extra time and effort on their part; effort that they'd rather be spending on things they actually care about.

Users didn't want the news feed to change, and the users were right.

grey-area 3 days ago 2 replies      
This really reminds me of the depressing way that Google optimised the blue colour of a button, while ignoring all other considerations:


If you trust your metrics and nothing else, you have to be very sure that your metrics encompass every aspect of the reality you are modelling. If they just tell you about clicks and sales, they might be missing longer-term objectives like user satisfaction and retention.

dsjoerg 3 days ago 0 replies      
The core of Dustin's argument is that Facebook may not have been patient enough; they should have trusted in their beautiful new design and waited long enough for the benefits to bear fruit.

However, it's a cheap argument to make, because the Hard Thing is to decide how many months of crappy numbers are you going to withstand before you admit that your Beautiful New Design in fact isn't any good?

Six months? Two years?

And it's not just revenue you look at. How's overall engagement? Sharing rates? Communication? Discovery?

The article is a shallow snipe; the real issues here are hard, interesting, and unexplored by this piece.

swombat 3 days ago 4 replies      
Of course, because money is the only criteria that is important to any business. There couldn't possibly be anything else, like a sense of mission or purpose, that could inform decisions.
programminggeek 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'll give another way to look at it. Good design is by no means the same as optimal design. A lot of beautiful designs done by talented designers end up being worse than what was before. They might be prettier, but they are very likely worse by many conversion metrics.

Don't think of it in terms of pure design. Think of it in terms of cost. Everything has a cost and sometimes good design's real cost is in user behavior. Pageviews and time on site could go down because people aren't going through so many steps to get to what they want. There are a lot of metrics that aren't that useful without the context of the ultimate conversion numbers for your site/app/product/project.

Facebook and Google are advertising companies. The financial metric they care about is advertising revenue per user and number of users. It's not much different than a SAAS app in that way. Other metrics are important, but that is the metric that pays the bills.

A beautiful design that doesn't improve the core metrics is like a multi million dollar super bowl commercial that flops. Sure, it might be really cool and well produced, but if it doesn't sell your product, you might as well light that money on fire. The net effect is the same.

notahacker 3 days ago 1 reply      
The alternate design isn't "performing too well" by not telling you which of your friends are online to chat with, like the current version does. It's just decluttering, and relegating that important function to one of many miniscule, unlabelled icons. It's not "performing too well" by rendering links in the same colour as body text, and making the search function look like a header: it's just making them subtly less obvious, which matters when your users are in the hundreds of millions and some of them really aren't that savvy. (Possibly it matters even more with casual users who are web-savvy, in that you're missing an opportunity to encourage them to search by prominently positioning the sort of medium white box that makes them think about searching)

Whatever is cleanest and most elegant is not necessarily the most user-friendly design, never mind the optimal design from the point of view of user engagement.

waterlesscloud 3 days ago 2 replies      
What I take from this is that Dustin Curtis plays Farmville and is a member of a shadowy group named "secret group".

Actually, the question of the piece is a good one. It's really about what you're optimizing for. As every halfway decent manager knows, you get what you measure. Which means deciding what to measure is one of the most important decisions you can make.

So, in this case, do you measure user engagement time for individual sessions? Or is there some sort of "engagement longevity" which might show a better timeline keeps people visiting more often over a longer period of time?

The other possible approach would be to see what could be done to make events and profile pages more appealing to spend time on. There may not be a way to do that if the timeline satisfies people, but it would be worth investigating.

wpietri 3 days ago 0 replies      
The thing that makes me really insane about this approach is how mindless it ends up being. If you're going to abdicate all responsibility to some set of metrics, it's the opposite of thinking. The numbers become a capitalist lullaby that switches everybody's brains off.

If you're going to work strictly by the short-term numbers, you might as well be the bubonic plague. "Good news! We're up 32% in London! Quarterly bonuses for all the fleas, and gift cards for the rats at the all-hands!"

eldude 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the result of placing the burden of proof on vision and innovation. Companies optimize for local maxima at the expense of global maxima because proving that both the mountain exists in the distance and that you can reach it, turns out to be extremely difficult.

And so, in companies like Facebook and Google, it doesn't matter what you know, it only matters what you can prove. Meanwhile your competitors in the market are unburdened by the need for proof and shout down at you from the mountain in the distance when they arrive.

ignostic 3 days ago 2 replies      
> "We're blind." ... "Everything must be tested."

And your solution is to do LESS TESTING? We don't know what we're doing, so let's cut back on the amount of data we can use to inform our decisions?

> "We are slaves to the numbers. We dont operate around innovation. We only optimize."

I don't see why numbers should ever stop you from innovating. The difference between "innovating" and "optimizing" is just a difference of scale. You can make a huge change to your layout or site function and look at the numbers it the same way you'd look at a font and color change.

The quote above seems to say that people shouldn't make decisions based on numbers, and that's absurd for a company like Facebook. What should be the basis of their decisions then? Management's gut reaction? Whoever feels the strongest about a change wins?

Customer surveys and user metrics matter - both are often numbers. The real issue here isn't that Facebook uses numbers too much. If they made the wrong choice, it's because they put too much emphasis on the wrong numbers.

k-mcgrady 3 days ago 0 replies      
A depressing thought but important especially if you are running a startup. It's ok for Facebook to take a hit like this and revert but if you spend 6 months at your startup redesigning your product and even though people like it your revenues suffer massively you might not even have time to test and revert back.
nedwin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking of numbers going up, I'd love to hear how Svbtle is going these days.

Don't seem to hear much from the inside since the funding announcement over 12 months ago...

richforrester 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did some design and coding work for the adult industry for a while. The company I worked for had one large members area with all kinds of niches, with thousands of sites acting as doorways into it. Instead of a nice overview, and a smooth experience, they had built in tons of tricky ways to delay the user getting to the content. From loading delays to tricky dropdowns instead of simple buttons.

Users had access to the site as long as they stayed on the phone to our special 2 dollar per minute phone line.

It worked, but it was a pain to work for a company like that. I was fresh out of school and just wanted to get better at my trade, but wasn't allowed to do the best I could. Frustrating.

Needless to say, things have changed in that industry, gotten a lot trickier, and the company has had to switch into different avenues. They now offer payment solutions and run a huge dating site.

calbear81 3 days ago 0 replies      
... or that beauty doesn't necessarily convert better. We've seen this time and time again with sites like Craigslist and Ebay and recently 42Floors wrote about a similar experience when experimenting with radically different search result treatments.

I really do like the new treatment and I think they should have gone with this and figured out how to recover the revenue stream later. Given how much Facebook traffic is going to mobile instead of desktop, this wouldn't have a large impact over the long run.

thisishugo 3 days ago 3 replies      
It baffles me that businesses such as Facebook seem to be driven so heavily by the numbers. If I were the FB product manager given the choice between a News Feed that is pleasant to use, or one that at times feels actively user-hostile but provides better metrics, I would want to have the freedom to pick user happiness over the bottom line, in no small part because I would (I assume) be one of those users.

I can't help but feel that something has gone wrong when Facebook - or any company - will deliver its users a worse product for the sake of few more dollars.

kybernetyk 3 days ago 2 replies      
> This is truly a nightmare scenario for any CEO: do you take the risk and proceed with the better user experience/product at the expense of short term numberswith no promise that the better design will actually lead to long-term benefitsor do you scrap the new design and start over?

Doesn't this only apply to CEOs who run companies that give away their products to indirectly monetize it? If you had a product you sold to your customers wouldn't this improvement in usability/product quality be a no-brainer because better product = more sales = more revenue?

brandonhsiao 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really an instance of the general phenomenon that the eminent tend to take fewer risks. A change that decreases revenue isn't necessarily bad; it may even yield a net profit in the long run. It's just perceived as a risk because things like user happiness and product culture (a) can't be as easily measured and (b) don't yield results for a while.

I think this is actually a rational-- or at least natural-- course of action. As you get more eminent, the stakes are also higher, and when you have more to lose you tend to take less risk. In fact, it'd be surprising if a big company continued taking risks by trusting non-structural decisions.

This is probably related to the phenomenon that large organizations tend to fall into bureaucracy. In fact the two questions are probably overlapping, if not identical. How can you grow big and famous and take on big responsibilities without losing your ability to trust your intuition and care about the feel and usability of the product? How can you stop yourself from degenerating into bureaucracy?

I'm pretty confident it's possible. Steve Jobs managed it. My own hunch is that the trick is to hire people who don't care about money too much. The kind of people who think, if we lose a bit of revenue, who cares? Which is paradoxical, my hunch continues, because people like this will eventually make better products in the long run, and end up increasing revenue in a thousand different little ways.

mikeg8 3 days ago 0 replies      
If that quote at the end is accurate, that would be a very disappointing culture to be apart of.
dhawalhs 3 days ago 0 replies      
FB could probably do an open graph search to figure out who gave him that information

"Friends of Drew Curtis who work at Facebook"

jfoster 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a weakness of ad-supported business models. When users are buying or subscribing to a product, you want them to love it as much as possible so that they will always buy more. Ad-supported models untie the relationship between UX and revenue. In an ad-supported model, you do need users to like the product enough to keep coming back, but small decreases in utility that generate more impressions could be great for revenue.

The people at Facebook are extremely talented. It's a shame they're stuck with this business model. It would be awesome to see how good they could make Facebook if this wasn't tying them down.

cliveowen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook stopped innovating 4 years ago, it's become boring. I only use the Messenger app now.
tomphoolery 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would have much preferred the proposed layout as seen in this photo. In fact, it is (almost scary) similar to the most recent Diaspora single-page view that was just rolled out no more than a year ago. We designed our single-page view to focus on content, and unlike Facebook, we don't care about ad revenue, so we don't have these problems. :)
adrianhoward 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only person on the planet who vastly prefers the newer design?

Yes, the larger images were nice to look at - but they got in the way of actually viewing the content for me.

My personal viewing habits of the newsfeed are to give facebook a glance over once a day with my morning coffee. The purpose is to get an overview - quickly. The newer look got in the way of that, especially when viewing in smaller windows.

There are also all the folk who aren't looking at it on large displays, and maybe consistency of experience is important too.

Sure - maybe there's a metrics issue too. But I've seen more than my fair share of usability tests where things that my "design" persona like end up being disliked by the people who actually use the site.

mtgentry 3 days ago 1 reply      
Zuck is brilliant at many things. But when someone says he's great at product, I raise an eyebrow. Seems to me they A/B tested their way to the top. FB today reminds me of Google 5 years ago. Their 41-shades-of-blue-testing days.

But Google learned to listen to more right-brain arguments so maybe FB can too.

joulee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked on the design of the desktop Facebook News Feed. Just posted a response to the article here: https://medium.com/p/ed75a0ee7641

Actually, the older version of the design we tested would have been positive for revenue had we shipped it. But there were a number of other issues that made it harder for people to use (which also resulted in them liking it less.)

tomasien 3 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't exactly right - optimizing the NewsFeed and eliminating exploration may be a more efficient UX in a way, but that doesn't mean it's better. I don't hear "reduced exploration" and think "that's way better". I'm not saying that's why FB made the decision, but Dustin doesn't know why they made it either. I'd have made the same decision as a UX focused CEO though is all I'm saying.
apalmer 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are metrics and then their are metrics.If a new design causes the amount of money the company makes to go down... then its not a 'good' design by business standards.

And its more rational to say here are concrete numbers clearly affecting the bottomline vs well our 5 experts think this design is better so we are sticking with it.

pjaspers 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the RealNetworks [0] story a few weeks back.

[0] https://medium.com/launching-ux-launchpad/385ff833f9c8

mcgwiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook can afford not to provide an better user experience because it has no competition. Should Google Plus one day threaten Facebook's usage, Facebook may pull this design out of it's archives.

Until then, they will provide the minimal user experience that keeps them on top of the hill with as much ad inventory as possible.

nakedrobot2 3 days ago 0 replies      
This anecdote perfectly illustrates how Facebook is not playing the long game. Facebook will erode any trust and loyalty that they did have in favor of short-term gains. We see it again and again. The last thing was the "pay to access your fans" bait-and-switch that to me was rather abhorrent.

Without any "higher mission" at all, Facebook has to resort to these lowest-common-denominator values.

I only hope that someone with better values can gain an edge someday, and refuses to be acquired/neutralized by Facebook.

joubert 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that if the company's goals are the same as that of their users, then innovation will lead to profits.

But if your users are not also your customers, then you are likely to run into these counter-innnovation corners.

buckmower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Beyond, Beside or WithinThe following in response to Facebooks Newsfeed Redesign:Why do what makes everyone else do what you want them to do if doing so isnt right? If we all can determine whats right and whats wrong as a community of equals then doing whats right is a matter of doing what everyone else, for the most part, wants you to do. As is the case with Facebook and most other companies that offer products to consumers, when it comes to offering their product they arent exactly equal with the rest of us; because, they have control over the products we so willingly consume; thus, they are faced with the conundrum of what to do about product design and consumer retention. Dustin seems to be saying that Facebook does what makes Facebook users do what Facebook wants its users to do. The numbers that go up and down, it seems, are numbers related to people spending time on other peoples pages rather than just on the news feed. Whats wrong with that?
dreamfactory2 3 days ago 0 replies      
If a better UX turns out to make less money I'd say the problem to be solved is with the monetisation, not the UX
loceng 3 days ago 0 replies      
"We only optimize. We do what goes up." Deciding what you want to facilitate going up comes down to governance. If you want to give the user a shittier experience in order to earn more profits, then you can do that. But you leave yourself open to someone providing the better experience and losing them altogether.
mkbrody 3 days ago 1 reply      
Culture is internal marketing. The numbers are what really matters.
pixelcort 3 days ago 0 replies      
One fear I think about is choosing a good UI/UX for an MVP. Users might get used to it and it could be hard to significantly change it later on.
sidcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
I might be acting like a devil's advocate, but don't the metrics reflect user behavior? And it's perfectly fine if they tune their UI for revenue. They are not missionaries, but they are visionaries. They need money to keep the innovation going.

I am not a facebook fan or an affiliate, and I do resent few of their design decisions, but earning money is well within their framework of morality.

goshx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook's new design is looking a lot like the very old Orkut's design.
adw 3 days ago 0 replies      
The assumption here is that we know, because we're geniuses, what a good user experience looks like.

That's aggressive.

crazychrome 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting read. it proves one of my arguments against fb: there is not too much real value to end users.

there is no such thing in the world like "performing too well". if a better design led to less user engagements, it means the product, in its bare bone, not valuable to users.

elleferrer 3 days ago 0 replies      
At the end of the day, data and numbers are powerful. They scream credibility. They shout, "you did your homework!" But they wont be as effective as they could be if you don't use them wisely.
pbreit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Making something easier to glance at doesn't necessarily mean it's better. I think a better design for something like Facebook is something that's more engaging. This isn't search.
xg15 3 days ago 1 reply      
If we assume that the "UI design by metrics" approach actually works, I wonder, why would we need designers at all?

Shouldn't then the most rational choice be to start with a crude initial design an use a reinforcement learning algorithm to optimize it according to the metrics?

higherpurpose 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems Facebook really is going through the Google phases, and they've always wanted to "be Google" anyway. Right now they're in the Google phase of 5-7 years or so ago, when Google was still doing everything by the numbers, even at the expense of UI and UX.

Just like Google of 5-7 years ago, they're also spreading their focus on many projects, and in a few years probably forgetting about them and ignoring them, if they don't turn into big cash cows for them almost immediately. Then expect Facebook to kill a lot of services, just like Google did.

atmosx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am not sure if there's any take-away from this article. There are too many assumptions.
_wesley_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny thing - FADC (one of Dustin's groups seen in the screenshot) is getting a ton of requests today.
hipaulshi 3 days ago 0 replies      
which, like the FB employee said, is exactly, what a data-driven company should do to maximize profit. However, Dustin has a good point. CEO needs to make that very risky call if he vouched for the better design. The customer may or may not come. Short term loss is inevitable. One would need strong belief, again, needs to be backed by data, to make that call.
tinganho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Durtis didn't the "left navigation" made that they browsed the feed more than other parts. I have never thought that the left navigation was any good. Since navigation navigation is a big part of UX and hiding it in the left is not good.
Soarez 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's ok as long as you're sure you're looking at the right numbers.
roymckenzie 2 days ago 0 replies      
While it does flex, I won't be spending that kind of money on something like that until it folds up in my pocket.
imjk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brings new meaning to the adage, "What goes up, must come down."
corresation 3 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds contrived. Being the skeptical sort we should all be, there is no reason to believe the sources (if you believe they exist) regarding supposed cynical reasons they didn't proceed with a considered UI.

Maybe Facebook found that people really actually liked the other variant better? Or maybe they were just ambivalent about it, and if we've learned anything about widely deployed social media sites, it's that you need a really, really good reason to change things.

And to add just a bit more on the "contrived" notion: My Facebook feed looks very similar to the first page, with big, colourful pictures dominating my news food. If my network had people posting short twitter-like missives, I suppose it would look like that. Outside of trivial CSS differences, the only real variation is that I don't have the confusing iconography down the left, instead using that massive area of white space for descriptive text.

abimaelmartell 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate the new design, the content row is really small, it looks ugly.
sharemywin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Prefect example of the innovator's dilemma.
yyyooolll 3 days ago 0 replies      
who honestly gives a fuck what you think? waste of everybody's time. am I right, am I right?
dudus 3 days ago 0 replies      
[citation needed]
Stripe: Bitcoin Sign-up stripe.com
539 points by cperciva  3 days ago   190 comments top 30
hendzen 3 days ago 4 replies      
Awesome. Now to see how their integration works with regards to confirmation time. The best solution IMO is to use a risk analyzer to determine the number of needed confirmations. 0 conf for small payments for a merchant with a low fraud rate, with increasing confirmations needed as the size of the payment grows. I would look at BitPay's checkout flow to see the state of the art here.

Also hoping they implement the payment protocol (BIP70), which gives a much better user experience and improved security. Instead of copy pasting an address, a signed payment request is sent to the users Bitcoin wallet with a message stating something like "Bob's shop has requested a payment of 10USD (20mBTC) - accept?". Some particularly insidious coin stealing malware has been developed that modifies the payment address in the clipboard to be changed to an attackers address, and the whole UX around copying long Base58 encoded strings is horrible. Furthermore, the signed payment request serves as a receipt. With BIP70, the UX of bitcoin payments surpasses that of CC payments, IMO.

tomasien 3 days ago 8 replies      
The concept that Stripe may be moving away from strictly supporting Credit Card payments (which are awful, but necessary for now) and into alternatives is so exciting to me that I am literally shaking. We're building infrastructure to make bank-to-bank transfers palatable to consumers and drive their cost toward zero, but it's only if thought leaders like the Collisons embrace the move away from CC's that the move will happen. This is such a huge step!
josephlord 3 days ago 2 replies      
The interesting part of this from my point of view is how Stripe will manage the conversion of received bitcoin back into dollars. Will they directly sell bitcoin to consumers themselves or trade on one (or more) of the exchanges.

Stripe are obviously taking the risk of the volatility so will probably want to keep the bitcoin float that they hold fairly small. They also need to keep a reasonable margin on these transactions and watch for people who don't complete transactions unless the price moves in their favour (after the price has been quoted).

I assume refunds are of bitcoin to the agreed dollar value not the same number of bitcoins as was spent, otherwise there would be risks there too.

Edit: Found this in other story: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7481219 http://recode.net/2014/03/27/stripe-merchants-will-soon-be-a...)

Payments will arrive in their bank accounts in seven days or fewer. Neither Stripe nor its customers will hold onto the bitcoin, meaning the businesses that accept bitcoin will not be subject to the volatility of its price. Collison said his company is working with a variety of undisclosed partners to exchange the bitcoin into local currency in near real time.

dcc1 3 days ago 1 reply      
I will stick with Bitpay, thank you very much. They are also actively researching and testing bitcoin stuff > http://bitcore.io/blog/articles/cosign-our-multisignature-wa...

I used Stripe for several months, but then they said my business is "too high a risk" for them, 7 years in business (longer than Stripe), hosting company in Ireland, very low charge-back rate, all customers more than happy, good support etc!

Since then opened a merchant account with Elavon after referal from our bank for credit cards and started using Bitpay for bitcoin, not only have lower fees (0% in case of Bitpay + 30$ a month for professional account), but also registered with Mastercard 3D Secure and Verified by Visa, which Stripe doesn't offer either.

jypepin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've always loved Stripe for their innovative side and the way they made accepting / making credit card payments so easier and nicer.

I'm so glad they integrated bitcoin, which I think will be a really good contribution to make btc spread amongst normal users.

That's great to see them becoming more of a payment processor versus the simple credit card processor they were.

I love stripe, I love btc, and seeing them together is just really cool and a big step for both.

waffle_ss 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to see an easing of the "prohibited businesses"[0] restrictions for Bitcoin payments, since they aren't beholden to the credit networks for these transactions. I have a business in the works that tangentially falls under category #2 so I may not be able to use Stripe as it currently stands.

[0]: https://stripe.com/prohibited_businesses

deegles 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given the recent guidance from the IRS regarding bitcoin (it's property like stocks or bonds... http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/0325irsbitc...) I wouldn't try to use it as a day-to-day currency. Every single transaction will represent a taxable event, requiring calculating cost-basis and capital gain/loss. If Stripe were announcing today a "pay with MSFT shares" feature, people would ridicule them. That's essentially what bitcoin payment is. (in the US at least
jeffgreco 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely enjoyed the email signup placeholder: satoshi@example.com
evv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pow! Add me to the list of people foaming at the mouth for this. I'm refreshing my email every minute in anticipation of seeing their API.

Now, under one provider, we can easily accept CC and BTC. This is great news for consumers because it means coinbase and stripe are now in head-to-head competition. These are both well funded startups with great usability. Bring on the feature war and lower transaction fees!

This is most exciting because this will enable great micropayment support on stripe, enabling a whole new breed of marketplace. Also, it is now easy to offer paid anonymous consumption of an API. This is a whole new world of opportunity!

rjvir 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stripe doesn't mess around with innovator's dilemma. Bitcoin was one of their weaknesses and now they could turn it into a strength overnight.
rebelidealist 3 days ago 6 replies      
I wish all these resources spent & millions of investment dollars would go to a better version of Bitcoin. BT is a major breakthru but it is still in an alpha stage. The main problem is that it is deflationary, to support a global economy it needs to slightly inflationary. This is because for hundreds of millions of people to use BT, the supply of the coins need to gradually increase to support the flow of spending. Right now more half of Bitcoin supply is already own by someone (a lot of them stolen). The BitCoin owners are holding on their stash in hopes that they will get a return on their investment. They will sell their BT for currency rather buy depreciating goods with them.
Smudge 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how this will work. Once out of beta, will it be a default option, or will it require extra steps for both the developer and the end-user? And will we be able to operate primarily in Bitcoin end-to-end, or will everything be converted to/from a preferred currency (e.g. USD) during each transaction?
arboroia 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is quite an intriguing move by Stripe, and I assume they'll provide a similar service to Neo&Bee, where merchants will be completely shielded from the price volatility in Bitcoin. It would be interesting if Stripe adds this Bitcoin support to the Stripe Checkout by default, being one of the first mainstream deployment of Bitcoin payments. It might also allow them to reduce fees, which have been largely set by the large card processors so far.

[Edit: Fixed bad grammar]

dergachev 3 days ago 1 reply      
Actual article by cperciva about accepting bitcoin via stripe, not sure why that wasn't linked directly:http://www.daemonology.net/blog/2014-03-27-tarsnap-bitcoin.h...
richcollins 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will it have an option to retain some % in BTC rather than selling them all for fiat?

Any plans for an option to accept fiat and convert to BTC?

troyk 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish they would add ACH
akama 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how Stripe will handle customer disputes. Obviously Bitcoin doesn't have chargebacks, so will customers be out of luck if the merchant doesn't provide the services?
mcmire 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why are they doing this? It's too late. No one is going to want to make Bitcoin transactions through a US-based company now because you know the Fed is going to start creating all sorts of lawsuits unless people follow the rules. I have zero Bitcoins but if I had any I'd play it safe and put it somewhere overseas (or if I did put it in a US-based company I'd want to make damn sure they were backed by an overseas bank).
bachback 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder whether this something to do with Wells Fargo's stance, which is positive: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-wellsfargo-bitc...
newaccountfool 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is huge, maybe not for Stripe but this is huge for Bitcoin.
Dorian-Marie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anybody have screenshots of the Bitcoin integration, the iframes are down.
elwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
So all this time satoshi has been at example.com; who would've guessed?
loganu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome.I wanted to integrate BTC as an option to cut out their 3% fee. If they can handle it for 0.5 to 1.5%, I'm happy to keep them in the loop
hw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bitcoin aside, Stripe has been an awesome landing page factory IMO. Love watching them churn out landing page after landing page (Checkout, Marketplaces, and now one for Bitcoin)
ConAntonakos 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to know more about the animations they used here. :)
ertemplin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like we took down their iframes
notastartup 3 days ago 0 replies      
what sort of things can you build with this besides accepting payment in bitcoins.
dabit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that read Stripe: Bacon at first glance?
andersthue 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it april 1'st already?
pbreit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hm...it's only March 27. Is Stripe about to jump the shark?

Edit: the reason I think it could be a JTS moment is that I associate "the addition of bitcoin" with "tired marketing stunt performed by irrelevant companies like Overstock". I could be wrong.

Threes: The Rip-offs and Making Our Original Game asherv.com
512 points by gkoberger  3 days ago   207 comments top 52
GuiA 3 days ago 7 replies      
Having a foot in the indie game developer community and another in startups, it's fascinating to see the HN comments in response to this post.

The indie game developers care about originality, passion, the sweat and hard months of work, the dedication to the craft. I think the point of Asher's essay is to show how much love and effort went into it, and that they were indeed the first to ship a full, polished game with that concept. That's where their pride and satisfaction comes from.

The startup people care about end user experience, how good the PR is, and ultimately how numbers matter more than everything else.

I don't think there's a wrong or right vision - it's two very different communities.

Indie game devs dream of making amazing games with other talented, inspiring people - and as long as they make enough money to live not too uncomfortably, they're fine. Their biggest dream is to receive an IGF award and see their game on Steam. Maybe make enough money to be able to start a studio with a bunch of their friends, but definitely not to "scale" to EA-size.

Startup people dream of growing their company to Facebook size, making billions of dollars, scaling, and being on Techcrunch.

It's two very different communities, and it's fun to see the two worlds collide.

Addendum: if you feel like this post is vindictive, bitter, etc.- remember: the best way to interpret a view different than yours is to understand that there is a worldview in which those statements are perfectly coherent, logical, and meaningful. Asher, Greg, and all the other people mentioned in this post are successful, highly respected members of the indie game dev community - not a bunch of guys who are angry for whatever silly reason.

smacktoward 3 days ago 13 replies      
> We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it.

I played Threes, and I liked it. And I feel for these guys having to watch everybody and his brother pile on to the idea they had to work so hard to tease out into reality.

But here is some hard truth: none of that matters.

Nobody cares how hard you had to work to get from idea to product. All they care about is what you have produced at the end of all that work. What makes it better or worse is how it stacks up relative to the competition -- even the competition that is shamelessly riffing off your core ideas -- not how much sweat you put into it.

And I gotta say, having played 2048, 1024 and Threes (the Android versions, at least), I think of the three of them 1024 stands up the best. It takes the core ideas in Threes and sands them down into a game that is easier to grasp and plays faster, without becoming so simple (a la 2048) that it becomes a game a script can beat. Threes makes you swipe-swipe-swipe after every game to get your score and "sign" it (why do I care about signing it?) before you can play again; 1024 just moves you straight on to the next game. Mobile games need to be simple and streamlined, and 1024 understands that imperative better than Threes does.

I say all this to help others understand why I would point to this essay as an example of how not to respond to a problem like a barrage of cloners. It's because this essay sees the world entirely from the developers' perspective -- look how hard we worked! Look how long we labored! Look how subtle our decisions were! -- which is exactly the wrong angle.

You want your communications to speak from the customer's perspective, not from your own. Customers don't give you brownie points for how hard you worked on something. All they care about is how to get the best product for the best price. So if you put your heart and soul into something, and then someone comes along, tweaks your thing and makes it better, the way to respond isn't to ask people to respect how hard you worked; it's to look closely at the new thing, understand why people like it better, and then bring that understanding to your next iteration or your next product.

ghshephard 3 days ago 2 replies      
I loved threes, Played it for close to 20-30 hours during winter break. As soon as 2048 came out, I managed to get to 2048 on my second try based on my experience with threes. I play 2048 in my browser whenever I have a spare 5 minutes, and when I'm on the Bus, I still frequently hop into a quick game of Threes.

The mechanics of the two games are very similar, and obviously 2048 is a direct descendent of threes - but I wouldn't go so far to say that one is better than the other.

Threes has claim to originality, and first publication, so significant credit does need to go to Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and composer Jimmy Hinson of Sirvo for their original invention.

But, Threes does have some "issue" - one is really poor startup times. It's slow enough that I am more likely to play 2048 in my browser, than bother firing up Threes on my iPhone. The piece assignment in threes, is also somewhat less pleasing to my experience than in 2048, for whatever reason.

Also - sometimes you are looking for nice quick fun - I get a nice rush of (finger mashing) 2048 to the 512 stage, and then very, very quickly racing to 2048 instinctively (plus the crush of defeat if I make a flickering mistake and get my pieces out of place).

Threes requires a lot more attention - I can't really play it at full-key-flick-speed - Not every game has to be chess.

If you read through the emails, and design history on the "making of" - it really, really emphasizes how damn hard it is to build that original kernel of genius. And then the piling on of all the clones/knockoffs/descendants shows how trivial it is for others to stand on the shoulders of genius.

One challenge of the AppStore (and obviously the Android stores, and simply by definition the Web) - is that there is no real way to "reward" the original developers for their many months of hard work, when others can simply clone, tweak the artwork and mechanics (or in the case of Zynga, just the artwork) - and release and market their own duplicate of a game after someone else has done all the hard work.

But, sometimes this opportunity to reinvent is good - I've tried a lot of podcast apps - because I listen to podcasts for about 4-6 hours/day, and, while "Cast" is my current preferred App, I'm looking forward to what Marco does with Overcast. I would have hated it if we couldn't have lots of diversity in that marketplace. (And I would have shot myself if I had to use Apple's (original, horrible) "reel-reel" podcast player).

Another approach though are apps like Vesper - It's "another" notepad app - but the developers (Q Branch's John Gruber, Brent Simmons, and Dave Wiskus), took months and months to polish and refine till it creates a totally different notepad experience (and, in my opinion, the best one on the iPhone) - isn't it good that they had the opportunity to build something in the notepad category, in a different way?

All in all though, I hope that Sirvo's Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and Jimmy Hinson get the credit they deserve for building the "first of".

gkoberger 3 days ago 0 replies      
Threes is the original game that 2048 (and its clones) are based on. This site starts off a bit slow (talking about 2048), however the hundreds of emails / screenshots showing the progress is insanely awesome. It's a great look into what it's like to build something from scratch.

Spoiler alert: at one point it was a game about argyle socks and monsters (Argoyle).

steven2012 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have a friend who works at a successful mobile gaming company (not Zynga). He freely admits that what they do is rip off whatever games are most popular. Period. End of Story.

They even have a SWAT team that will go out and build prototypes in days and launch them on the App store as quickly as possible to get some users. They've even launched games with the exact same name as the popular game in hopes of tricking people into using their version of the game.

The entire thing is despicable to me, but I guess that's just the nature of the gaming industry these days. Most companies are ripping off each other, so true innovation is hard to come by, and isn't really appreciated anymore.

The funny thing is that he also admitted that they have run out of successful games to rip off, so they might actually have to build their own games.

paulgerhardt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Threes is a significantly deeper game than 2048 - see for instance this thread on reverse engineering the gameplay mechanics: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=3133680&postcou...

This is something the developers are known for. Greg's earlier game, Ridiculous Fishing, not only had it's own internal Twitter app ("Byrdr") with it's own ARG mini-game - including a fake website with SQL injection vulnerabilities and a voicemail hacking sidequest.

austinz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I built a decently polished open-source clone of 2048 for iOS over a weekend, and from HN's front page it's obvious many could (and did) do the same for a variety of platforms and languages. It's popular to talk about how ideas are cheap and plentiful, and implementation is what really matters. But maybe Threes is an example where the opposite is true: implementation is straightforward, but the ideas, thought, and polish that goes into making the product truly spectacular are the distinguishing factor.
huhtenberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
They are in a tight spot.

This is one of the most simple, elegant and original game ideas of recent times. One of those that make you wonder how has no one managed to stumble on it before. It is inevitable it got copied.

The reason why it got copied and why 1024/2048 got really popular is that they have overdone the original. The interface is just too funky, there's fluff, fluff and decoration. Rubbery UI makes you feel like you are fighting with the app every time you use it. There are also those smileys on tiles too. So what you have is an idea that looks more complicated than needed (with 1s and 2s being special) and the execution that looks cluttered. That's just asking for a simpler clone - exactly what they got in 1024 and 2048.

Now they have an unenviable task of trying to convince players that added complexity in their version is by design. That or try and slim down the game for faster pace (and perhaps add "basic" mode that mimics clones' simpler mechanics).

bobbles 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love Threes, and I understand where they're coming from.

But this line "Others rifled off that they thought 2048 was a better game than Threes. That all stung pretty bad. We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it. "

The fact that someone spent less time on a game, and based it on your game, does not make it a WORSE game. It's just unfortunate for you.

prezjordan 3 days ago 2 replies      
I felt the same sentiment when 2048 first landed. I was shocked at how no one had really heard of Threes!

Then the developer put "Gameplay similar to Threes" or something like that on the page. I thought it was a nice gesture.

But, overall, I felt for the Threes developers. I'm glad to see this posted to HN.

mgiannopoulos 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having seen their games ripped off and cloned dozens of times within a few weeks, the developers of popular iOS/Android game Threes could be responding with lawsuits and anger.

Instead, they are expressing grief (having been accused of cloning the... clones), understanding of how ideas evolve and an awesome release of 45,000 words of internal discussions, sketches, prototype designs of their work of 14 months to get to release.

If you're interested in game design, this is pure gold.

madsushi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been playing Threes for quite some time, so it came as a surprise to me when several commenters on HN assumed that 2048 was the original and Threes was the derivative.
nicpottier 3 days ago 1 reply      
What the wha?

Give me a break, this same diatribe could be spouted by anybody who has built anything of significance. Yes, if you build something great, people will copy it, just as your precious snowflake was inspired by others as well. This isn't anything unique to gaming, it isn't anything unique to 3s, it is an immovable fact of life.

Are people copying the product we've poured the last 18 months into? Damn right they are, and if we don't do a better job of executing then we will rightfully get buried.

The gaming industry in general is incredibly derivative, it is the modus operandi. I ran a gaming studio for a while and you bet we did our share of "being inspired" as well as our share of "inspiring others". It is just a fact of life.

I think the thing that gets my goat here is the waxing on that 2048 is a worse game because it is easier and all the people who played that just don't "get" the careful 14 months of planning that went into 3s.

Let's get something straight here, 3s is a great mobile game, but it is just that, a mobile game for playing at bus stops. And the one and only measure of success there is how much fun people have playing it.

Flappy Bird is stupid, but it is also entertaining for no real reason. Chess on the other hand, is rather smart, and also entertaining. Both have their place. And yes, we can cry about how society is going down the drain and only appreciates dumbed down games, but 3s is pretty simple so let's not throw stones shall we?

Phew, ok, who needs a coffee?

honksillet 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great read.

As someone who pooped out a low quality clone of Threes for the purpose of teaching myself d3 ( http://www.kongregate.com/games/honkskillet/menage-a-threes ), I can say that there is a mile of difference between the polish of Threes vs 2048.

Also, I agree with the 3's creator when he says that 2048 is essentially broken. I had played 3s before playing 2048. I got 1024 on my first play through, and the middle part of the game was so tedious I resorted to the alternating up, left strategy just so I could advance the game. It's a little weird that a clone of a clone got so much attention.

petercooper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of discussion already but I wanted to throw "patents" out there as that's what it made me think of first. You can patent game mechanics to protect them (to a certain extent). Is it possible to be against patents (as many geeks seem to be) while also being against people ripping off game mechanics? If so, how?
baddox 3 days ago 1 reply      
> We wanted players to be able to play Threes over many months, if not years. We both beat 2048 on our first tries.

I was addicted to Threes when I first got it. I played dozens of games per session, and multiple sessions per day. So it was definitely addictive. But, as it turned out, I only played Threes for about as many days. The flame that burns brightest burns out the soonest, I suppose.

Pxl_Buzzard 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a good look into the process of game design. Tons of communication with team members, lots of pictures and scribbles to explain ideas, and the ever-growing list of tasks that take a prototype to a shipped game. It's amazing to think about the scope and scale of games that AAA studios can deliver at given that all of this has to happen between scores of developers.
mxfh 3 days ago 0 replies      
How original can a game be? The first thing I thought back when I first heard of threes was that it looks and plays like a radically streamlined-for-mobile-adult-market version of Triple Town. While partly understand the proud and grief those devs have, I consider those guys comparably well off, at least almost everyone is giving them credit and 1024 et al. are still nowhere in blatant rip-off territory as for example the myriad of Flappy Bird clones.
dgreensp 2 days ago 0 replies      
My instinct is to side with the Threes devs on this, but someone has to say it: It sounds like they spent a year on the cute little faces. Original Tetris didn't do that. Also, I'm pretty sure Tetris was cloned immediately, at least privately, by pretty much any programmer with spare time who played it (because it's fun and easy to implement, like the Threes mechanic).

Is it a good thing that Threes is so hard it's like pushing a rock uphill, until you inevitably can't keep it up and it comes crashing down on you? If someone invented the 15 Puzzle today (the one where you slide the tiles around in a 4x4 grid), for example, but dressed it up and tweaked it so you couldn't beat it, people would probably start having fun with the possible version on the side.

hoilogoi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just looked at 1024 on Google Play, and I have to say it would really sting to work on Threes for a year then read that "If you played 2048 in Hacker News, That [sic] you should know this is the original one."
ajpiano 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's worth noting the timing of this post, which is that it came out a day after this article on the LA Times tech blog: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-2048-hit...

The article, without even so much as mentioning Threes, credited Cirulli with designing 2048 over a weekend, which rather blatantly missed the point that it was only possible to put together 2048 in a weekend in a world where Threes and then 1024 already existed. The article has since been corrected/updated, but I saw Asher tweet about it, and I imagine that their choice to put together this essay is meant to provide a comprehensive counterpoint to that school of thought.

Yacoby 3 days ago 1 reply      
Their comment that no one has yet to "beat" threes is in my opinion part of the problem. I get a kick out of beating something, having reached some goal (often in competition with someone else). So maybe 2048 is broken. Doesn't detract from my enjoyment of it.

Also knowing other people had "beaten" 2048 initially helped to made it more addictive.

clarky07 3 days ago 2 replies      
Rip-offs are sad, but the fact that you spent 14 months doesn't make it a better game. It means you took too long to make it. Threes is a great game that has done well, but the vast vast majority of mobile apps don't make enough money to justify spending 14 months on. I really hope that wasn't full time work.

Also, time/effort/money spent developing a game does not make it better or worse than other games. Some dead simple things are awesome, and some things that took forever aren't. Again, I have and like Threes quite a bit, but the time it took to make doesn't make it better than anything else. I haven't played the knockoffs, but if they are doing well I suspect they are decent games in their own right.

RaphiePS 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have any stats on Threes' sales? I wonder if 2048 has significantly boosted them.
powera 3 days ago 1 reply      
From the very end - these guys sound REALLY bitter:

"""If you read this whole thing. Thank you. Wow. If you scrolled down here and skimmed it or just wanted to see if there was a prize at the end, well, you're here. It's about the journey, man.

Hopefully this post points to what we're getting at when we say that making these tiny games is littered with hard and painful times that are full of uncertainty and self-doubt. You never know if something is really going to work. It's not easy. But cloning or ripping off a design in a week, that's a bit different isn't it?"""

notoes 3 days ago 0 replies      
PopCap have a good approach to cloning. It's basically, we love seeing clones because we enjoy seeing good games made, it increases the market size and the bad ones will sink anyway. They're confident in their ability to make really game games that will sell. They're sitting on one of the most cloned games of all time, but still manage to make good games and make money.

People seem to get stuck on the idea that a good game is good because of it's mechanic. Therefore if someone uses your mechanic, you're stuffed. A mechanic is only part of what makes a game really good. It's a similar mistake to having a feature focus in a product company.

It has been fun to see all the riffing off the Threes concept over the past couple of weeks. And I'm sure Asher Vollmer and team will benefit from it all. There is more interest in all the games, they'll have extra ideas from the clones that come out, they find out for free some ideas that don't work. It will help them raise the bar on Threes and make it a better, more successful game.

nicolethenerd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Threes shouldn't be knocking their 'rip-offs', they generated a ton of publicity for the original game. Without playing 2048, I probably never would have heard of Threes.
mistercow 2 days ago 0 replies      
>When an automated script that alternates pressing up and right and left every hundreth time can beat the game, then well, that's broken.

Except that it won't beat the game. You're lucky to get to a 256 block with that strategy.

diziet 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem (for the developers) with Threes is that it cost $1.99 to buy. If they made the app free and monetized with ads/iaps (ie, how all major apps monetize), they would have a much more successful app.
zachinglis 3 days ago 0 replies      
The original devs really care and that's lovely. I've always felt guilty about playing 2048 despite having bought Threes twice (once on Android and once on iOS.)

I don't know what I'd do in their position; feeling disheartened is definitely one. It's a great game - granted I'm not a fan of the sound design so get frustrated sometimes - the game itself is fun and addictive.

I don't think this post will convince as many people as they think to switch to the original, but I hope it does them some good.

frade33 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do not recall being addictive to any iOS game, except for Threes.
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is my very personal opinion on the matter:

It really pisses me off always I read from somebody how he got burned by a rip-off. If you do it right 2048 will make YOU famous and all future products of you will automatically get more attention, even if you don't make any money on Threes (which is a way worse name than 2048 in the eyes of hackers, btw). Talk to blogs, Youtube reviewers and to us HN users and show us how awesome your product is and if it is really better than 2048 then you will automatically win the crowd. Think about how much attention (and money) PSY now gets for everything he does, although he didn't get as much money directly from Gangnam Style as he could have gotten.

Just complaining and hoping that people will support you because it would be fair is cheap, sad, and it won't happen anyway.

baxrob 3 days ago 0 replies      
I may be alone on this, but I have difficulty distinguishing OP's argument from http://www.amazon.com/The-Quickening-Todays-Trends-Tomorrows...
tylerritchie 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, I don't particularly like the tone, but I would love to see a graph of (even relative) app downloads with the release of 1024 and announcement of 2048 (and all the various forks) on it.

I bet there's an effect there.

I bet it's in Three's favor.

And I bet any freshman-level stats student could rigorously show it.

david_otoole 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't slave for months producing easily replicable ideas in a market that is mobbed with people who replicate anything successful within days.
wudf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I probably would have purchased Threes if it weren't for the clones. Loved the process documentation. All I can say is keep up the good work. Fuck the haters.
abimaelmartell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I made this list with some of the variants of 2048


pawelkomarnicki 3 days ago 0 replies      
I tried to install Threes on Android, no ART support => I don't care anymore, playing 2048 and the clones :)
drewry 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not all bad for them, I found out about threes because of 2048 and came to the conclusion myself that threes was a better game and decided to pay for it.
cintiapersona 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is even an Atari 2600 port of the 2048 game!



voltagex_ 3 days ago 4 replies      
On Android, 2048 is 0.7mb. Threes is nearly 30! Surely that factors into some people's decisions.
javajosh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I rarely buy apps, but I bought Threes. I would hope that anyone who's played and enjoyed 1024, 2048 or the myriad knock-offs would at least go and buy a copy of the app. It's a great little game and totally worth $2 (indeed, I'd say it's on par with the quality and playability of the early Nintendo "Game Watch" devices, and that's very high praise BTW. IIRC they retailed for around $25 in the 80's, so Threes is actually underpriced.)

Threes invented a wonderful game mechanic, and I'm reminded of the amazing indie games particularly on Kongregate. It's really something special to see all the creativity and joy that a great computer game can create.

My advice to the Threes inventors would be: rise above the imitators. Indeed, see them for what they are, gestures of respect (with the exception of 1024, who's makers are just assholes). One concrete step I'd take if I were you is to request that the web knock-offs in particular at the very least mention and/or link back to Threes (perhaps an iTunes link[1]).

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/threes!/id779157948?mt=8

nvader 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Like its not ok to feel the way we do some of the time. But we do.

With that in mind, and with all fairness to the creators of Threes for their hard work, as evidenced in the article, I feel put off by their choice of the word 'rip-off'.

I say this as someone who has never played Threes, and never would have, but enjoyed many of the different forks and iterations of 2048.

aye 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who's the "Johnny" mentioned in a couple of the emails? Another game developer?
jbverschoor 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had tried threes.. But I didn't like it.I do like 2048
Quaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
That was a lot more article than I expected from the title. Wow.
brianmtully 2 days ago 0 replies      
Original Game? Ever play Triple Town?
devanti 3 days ago 0 replies      
nice, but simplicity is the key to mainstream
chubot 3 days ago 1 reply      
I saw 2048 on HN, but downloaded 1024 because I wanted to play on an iPad rather than a desktop. I like 1024 better than 2048 because it has a little more richness.

Yesterday, I tried to pay and download Threes, but it said it requires iOS 6. I never upgrade my iOS devices after too many screwups from Apple. So not sure if I will ever play Threes.

I don't know much about iOS development, but I wonder why a game which is basically a 4x4 grid doesn't work on every single version of iOS. 1024 works just fine.

nashashmi 3 days ago 3 replies      
Okay, Okay. I get the crying from the threes developers and all, but there is a key difference between why 2048 did phenomenally well and threes didn't.

2048 is a game that was HACKED together and displayed on HACKER news and made open source for the sole purpose of independent HACKING, and indie creativity.

In fact, 2048 has got to be the best case study of how HACKING went viral, not so much about how the game went viral, even if that is what theoretically happened.

From that perspective, the THREEs game is just collateral damage and not really what matters here. The Threes game's developers in effect are all crying about how people are misusing their ideas, copying all the wrong details, and not copying what is the true flattery of the game in the first place. And they wrote a blog post to brag about it all! But little do they understand that people (hackers) take what they like and leave the rest.

thought_alarm 3 days ago 2 replies      
The worst part about this is that neither the 1024 or 2048 developers do so much as acknowledge Threes as the original inspiration. It's really pathetic. Just some losers pretending to be something they're not. Common shithead piracy.
WildUtah 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a shamefully non-responsive web page design for a company that builds mobile apps. The sidebar is set to cover the main text even with my page width set to almost 1000 px wide. Even worse, the sidebar is a fixed position and on top element that I can't scroll away from or out from under.

I expect better web design from the team behind Threes, which I bought and liked.

Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions cnn.com
454 points by matttah  3 days ago   236 comments top 55
6cxs2hd6 3 days ago 22 replies      
As I type this comment, most other comments are pointing out how a 6th grader got this wrong, by failing to suggest the "correct" solution of abandoning printing.

I don't... how do I put this nicely.

This is a kid. He is smart. He looked at the problem from a new angle. He came up with a nice hack. Presumably we want more kids with more of a hacking spirit.

I hope he doesn't read Hacker News.

zeidrich 2 days ago 4 replies      
The problem with this kind of initiative is that it uses humans difficulty with recognizing the scale of large numbers.

We see a savings of $400 million and think "we should do this!" But it's a drop in the bucket even if it were that much of a savings.

If each government employee needs to change their font, or needs to set it as the default font, or needs technical support to configure the defaults in their word processor. If IT needs to modify images to use this font as a default. Just these actions are going to cost a significant portion of that $400 million when you consider it across the millions of federal staff.

This also assumes things like the government is actually paying for ink or toner in quantity, instead of, for instance, holding a contract with Xerox who charges per impression rather than based on how much ink you use.

It also assumes that there is no difference in legibility between the fonts. That people with vision impairments will not have difficulty with reading the document.

An easy way to think about whether an initiative like this is reasonable is to think about whether it makes a lot of sense for any individual to do. Do you think you, individually, could realize any significant savings by changing your fonts? If it only makes sense when millions of people do it at once, and even then only when certain assumptions are met, and then only saves a few dollars per person per year, then it actually is more likely to cost a lot more in overhead to make sure it happens than it will ever save.

R_Edward 3 days ago 2 replies      
First, I like the kid's methodology. You can eyeball the various differences between font X and font Y, and see that the same passage printed in one is going to take more ink than the other, but how do you quantify the difference? He came up with a clever hack to relate an easily measurable attribute to a not-so-easily measured one.

Second, intentionally or otherwise, he managed to divorce the savings ratio from the type of ink being used--whether you laser-print, inkjet-print, or press-print your text on paper, you're going to use x% less ink or toner with one font versus another.

However, the selection of a font should take things into consideration besides the relative amount of ink needed to produce a body of text. Human and machine readability should also be significant concerns. And I would like to point out that a cost savings of $136 million represents less than two seconds worth of spending at the US governments current spend rate of $3.5 trillion per year. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't even imagine that level of spending!

johngalt 2 days ago 4 replies      
IT perspective:

Interesting and subtle change. However it will likely be net negative. Most high volume copiers/printers are laser and/or covered by a cost per copy maintenance agreement. Meaning that most organizations pay the same price for a page regardless of how much toner is used on that page.

Contrast this with the cost of enforcing a single font family across millions of systems and documents. There are a large number of unseen costs here. Imagine 10 years from now some vendor responding to an RFP for healthcare.gov v2.0. The government insisting that the source code be converted to garamond for the weekly status reports. The HN posts that day will be about how ridiculous of a requirement this is.

mxfh 2 days ago 0 replies      
While this is arguable clever,a similiar concept has been known for ages to traditional printers.

There is a whole class of typefaces optimized for high speed, low cost/low quality printing, which pre-compensates the letterform for expected ink bleeding, so called Ink Traps[1][2]. They are highly optimized for a specific printing method, the font size and the paper-quality used, and don't translate well to non-ink based printing.

The problem with current desktop publishing fonts is that they can't possibly be optimized for every single use case on screen and for all of the myriad types of printing so robustness while maintaining legibility is key. Especially if the product is expected to be photocopied I would always go for a reasonable bolder weight, uncondensed typeface rather than losing information.

Also make sure the 8 is distinct enough from a 6 [3] (Times New Roman beats Arial by lengths in this aspect)

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

[2] http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/calculated-errors-the-...

[3] http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_...

al2o3cr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't wanna be the asshole here, but something tells me the GPO is not paying HP prices for "ink" - they're almost certainly using toner-based systems that vastly reduce the incremental cost per page. According to the LoC, a single day's Congressional Record averages 272 pages, so printing 2500 of them A DAY is 500,000 pages. At that point, you'd be worrying about how many inkjet printers you were throwing away every day...
Ellipsis753 3 days ago 1 reply      
Personally I prefer the original font. The thicker letters would likely photocopy better too.

I use a Brother printer that cost me 40 2-4 years ago.I can buy 20 cartridges from Amazon that work perfectly for just 12.90 with shipping on Amazon Prime. That's 65p each.A single original Brother cartridge can easily cost 16.44 from Amazon or 7.62 each when bought in a pack of 4 (I think the largest quantity they sell together).So these copy cartridges are over 10x cheaper.

I've used them ever since I got this printer with no ill effects. The printer still makes create printouts and prints photos great too. I've heard that perhaps they break your printer faster than original cartridges but if this is true when I'm happy to just spend the extra 40 ever few years to just buy a new printer. I'll still have saved far more than that on ink alone (I print quite a lot).

If anything perhaps this is the solution to cheaper printing instead?

Also, random note. Once I went a Korean friends house and they had a normal inkjet printer with 4 gallons of ink in large pots of top of it. These had small tubes feeding down into the cartridges. They never had to replace the cartridges and they would never run out of ink. Apparently this is quite common in Korea although I've never seen it before or since myself in the UK.From googling it was something like this:http://www.amazon.co.uk/PrinterKnow%C2%AE-Compatible-Continu...Although they had much larger ink containers. It seems it's called a "continuous ink system".

It's pretty cool to look into anyway, even if you don't do a huge amount of printing.

mxfh 1 day ago 0 replies      
This topic just irks me, it's sounds clever at first, but anyone who has just a little education in print publishing (anyone who knows what CMYK stands for) should be aware that there are way better ways make an impact on the amount of ink used (not to say, saving money).

- If they would use something like InDesign they could print everything in 50% Blackand could instantly save 50% no matter what.

- Even worse is Rich Black[1] printing which wastes 3 times the amount of ink/toner namely CMY instead of K (black).

- That the costs of getting something printed by an actual print service company by printing press are surprisingly low given digital print ready delivery and break even pretty fast, especially for colored prints, where the quality is also vastly superior.

- any school or organization of similar or bigger size should use professional office grade black only laser printers for all default print jobs, which should keep cost way below 5 cents/page. At all costs stay away from consumer grade inkjet printers. And get only one! office grade Inkjet printer with big and per color replaceable cartridges which pretty fast compensates for it's initial cost and is also superior to color laser printing.

Here is the actual study:http://emerginginvestigators.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/...

This study completely omits to differentiate between text and graphic type printing yet makes this quite thoughtful remark:

In addition, fonts may be chosen with a specific purpose in mind (e.g. aesthetics), but posters and other graphical design in which font type could have meaningful impact would usually be printed on a color printer. Color toner ink costs for printing were not tested in this study.Another related way of saving ink is the following: when an assignment is photocopied from a book, a black border in the periphery is sometimes printed. This black border gets copied, leading to a large wastage of ink. Whiting out the black periphery would further reduce the ink usage in the school district. This impact would be in addition to what was investigated in this study

Let the kids have Comic Sans if they want to, but let them know what it cost what it needs to print their essays on inkjet printers on a rainbow colored background. Normal text covers only between 2.8%[2] to 5% of a page. In other ways a page with fully colored background can easily use more than 60 times (100/5 * 3 Colors) the amount of ink than a simple text page.

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

[2] http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr.-Grauert-Brief [German DIN Standard Test Letter]

http://venturebeat.com/2014/03/24/hps-new-enterprise-ink-bas... ballpark figure for original HP colored inks here is $100/100ml compared to up to above $500/100ml for consumer grade ink portions)

mxfh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The US Government could probably save substantially more by not printing blacked out pages like this for public hearings: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lnbfetnw5V1qbqm2bo1_r1_250...

900 pages of this at 5:10 in this 2011 Daily Show clip. http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/1mdpat/the-fast-and-the-fu...

happywolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would say a 14-year-old could achieve this is pretty impressive. While we give credit to his creativity and relative scientific investigation of this matter, things shouldn't be stretched too far as to recommend everybody to adopt this font everywhere. In this case, this seems the case. A printed document is meant to be read, and it is unclear if using the said font will have any impact on readability, and other usability issues.

Think about it: for the sake of optimizing ink use, the trivial solution is 1) Use the smallest font sizes possible 2) Use the 'thinnest' font that arguably uses the least ink. However optimizing a single varible in this way is clearly not desirable, because it defeats the goal of printing documents. A document is meant for someone to read, no? :)

300bps 3 days ago 7 replies      
He's right: Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce, while the equivalent amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.

Most offices that I've seen use laser printers. Toner isn't cheap but it's cheaper by several orders of magnitude over the ink in an inkjet printer they're using for the comparison here.

the GPO's efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web.

This is the right answer. It's a permanent solution to a long-term problem.

Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions

What he's really saying is: "Spend millions changing your typeface, maybe save millions." There are laws that dictate how forms and paper must appear. Changing the font could have many unintended consequences that will need to be studied and tested for, probably by high-priced consultants. And of course you'll have to test if the new forms are as readable by low-vision citizens and people with other disabilities.

But have to hand it to a 14 year old at least thinking about this stuff.

huhtenberg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Same idea, widely ridiculed - http://www.ecofont.com
lnanek2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, but Garamond is tougher to read, and ink prices are artificial anyway. If less money is made on ink then printers will become more expensive again - or more likely the price will just be raised more since it doesn't have much relation to the cost anyway. Printer makers actually put chips in their ink cartridges to prevent refills and cost effective generics after all. It is more of a DRM thing.
ZeroGravitas 3 days ago 1 reply      
How about: "Prevent predatory and abusive pricing shenanigans by large corporations and instead create some workable semblance of a free market, save millions for yourself, save many further millions for your employers/voters, and have the warm glow of doing your alloted job to some minimum standard".
scrabble 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is the school using ink, or toner? Toner is significantly cheaper, and there are still savings by switching fonts.
zacinbusiness 3 days ago 1 reply      
The government isn't going to abandon printing entirely, ever. There are too many people who need access to documents who don't have printers, too much information that is too sensitive to email back and forth, and too many government offices with small one-off forms that visitors need right away. Besides, let's look at the cost of electricity, maintenance, insurance for broken and stolen devices, upgrade costs, and how pissed people will be when X system gets hacked and their info is stollen. I'm sorry, but paper is here to stay for a very long time.
cabalamat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would it even save the govermnent much money? Sure, if I print in a thinner font on my laser printer, the ink will last longer. But if I'm printing thousands of the same document, the print company will charge me exactly the same price regardless of what font I use, of whether I use big blocks of colour, or any other consideration of how much ink I use.

I suspect that when printing at scale, the cost of ink varying by font matters little or nothing. It's certainly less important than other considerations in choosing a font: ease of reading, what tone it sets, etc.

xbryanx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Previously considered by the University of Wisconsin Green Bay:http://nowiknow.com/an-inkling-for-ink/
colechristensen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Clever kid, but not a real solution to a real problem. Printers using ink cost orders of magnitude more per page than printers using toner. Reworking all the governments forms would cost billions.
yitchelle 3 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds of the dot matrix printer days, remember those? My 24 pin dot matrix printer had several print modes and one of them uses a 7x4 matrix to form a letter and less force for pushing the pins onto the ribbon.

I never really made any measurements, but I remember its documentation mentioned a savings of up to 40% of ink. The normal mode of the printer is NLQ [1], so it would be quite big when compare to NLQ.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot_matrix_printing#NLQ

johnvschmitt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Rather than attempt to get millions of people to manually change fonts, just make "Skimpy Print" a layer that fits in between the print button & the printer driver?


BTW: More ink is saved by image detection & changes than fonts. And, this is all half-baked.

pkill17 3 days ago 0 replies      
If only more of us thought in the same "minimal change, maximal effect" paradigm as this teen. Good work! Keep hacking!
chrismcb 3 days ago 1 reply      
While it may look better on paper, in the sample in article I'd much rather be reading a form printed with Times New Roman than Garamond. Seems a bit easier to read
bluedino 3 days ago 1 reply      
Think of all the time that would be spent in meetings, all the time it would take to re-configure documents and processes to use the new fonts, then all the little stuff down the road like some OCR system doesn't pick the new font up, handling complaints from people that the new font is too hard to see...

Not to say it's not a good idea, there's just potentially a lot of side effects.

3rd3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a good idea! While we're on it we could also focus on modernizing the overall bureaucracy by moving most services online.

Edit: Removed "Instead of", clarity

dkrich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos on thinking outside the box.

My $0.02 on why this wouldn't fly- he's examining the problem from a bird's eye view, ie, the entire government expenditure.

Documents, however, are printed by teams, usually small one's for whom even a 30% ink savings wouldn't make a dent compared to the money they spend elsewhere. Thus no motivation for each team, and thus no major movement to change behavior. If the teams are anything like ones that I've been a part of, a lead will look at a document printed in Garamond, proclaim he doesn't like it/can't read it, and ask for it to be reprinted in readable format.

jmadsen 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was done by the UW-Green Bay years ago (among many, many others, I'm sure) and was featured in Dan Lewis' "Now I Know" newsletter about a week ago. ( http://nowiknow.com/ )

Still a worthwhile thing to report, I guess, but somehow manages to still be very "the media is clueless"

rexreed 2 days ago 5 replies      
How could there possibly be "no" to this from the Fed. Govt? If you don't need to print, then don't print. If you print, then print in a way that saves ink / toner. Why not? How could the Federal Government possibly object? It's a "Yes And" solution (to use Improv Comedy lingo). If you need to print, do it in a way that saves money. There's no reason not to.
billynomates1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be about font licensing. Would the government save any money by using open fonts?
semi_colon 3 days ago 0 replies      
His best bet for making wide scale change is to have Microsoft change the default font on Microsoft Word. Probably the most cost-efficient change.
Ryel 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's always going to be a more efficient way, but when nobody else is doing anything actionable, who cares?

Congrats to the kid, he got his 15 minutes of fame. I hope it will motivate him to continue improving this world. The benefit for the rest of us is that hopefully with all of this attention, someone more qualified will come along and actually start some significant changes.

Jugurtha 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just as an exercise, do Ctrl+F in your browser and count how many "but" there are in this thread.

He's a good kid, but..

It's nice, but..

The "yes, but" men attack. The knack to find problems in each solution..

collyw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Actually I think a better cancel options built into printers / printer drivers would save far more. Loads of times that I have wanted to print one page, and ended up with a whole multi-page document.

And is it really necessary these days that Acrobat comes up with a different print dialog from Firefox, which is different from another one?

yincrash 3 days ago 1 reply      
two things:

1. is garamond less legible after photocopying than tnr?

2. why not choose a sans serif font. serifs are wasting ink.

lyndonh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Candy crush saga run via Facebook seems to really hit the processor hard. It seems to me that we could save half the artic if we could ban it.
admstockdale 2 days ago 1 reply      
I shared this with my students. We're learning about typefaces and graphic design right now. Some of these comments picking about a 6th grader are pitiful. We want to encourage these ways of thinking -- not nitpick
faddotio 2 days ago 0 replies      
This 6th Grader Stood Up To Government To Tell Them Something... And I Think The Results Were Amazing.
yannk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can we redo this study with Comic Sans MS?
northisup 2 days ago 0 replies      
Has the 6th grader ever make a photocopy in triplicate of Times New Roman vs Garamond?
macco 3 days ago 0 replies      
Look at relative numbers, not absolute. This saves next to nothing. Sorry.
floatboth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Garamond also looks good. I hate Times New Roman.
peter303 2 days ago 1 reply      
Similar hack in Craigslist and Google: changing to a black ground saves a few watts per user per year. But this adds up to tons of C02 over all users.
palakchokshi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of changing the font on screen for documents can Printers have a setting that would allow all printing to happen in Garamond or one of the cheaper to print fonts? That way you have best of both worlds. Your screen fonts will be what you like while your printed font will be the cheaper one.
seventytwo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Man, I wish I would have had that kind of support and encouragement by my school when I was 14. They were far more concerned with streamlining for the state standardized testing. I maxed out their math assessment test and all I got was a pat on the back... "Meh, fuck it", I learned...
neil1 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is the highest price for ink and not the price that government's or companies who buy in bulk pay.
ozh 3 days ago 3 replies      
gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
When he'll be 18, he'll start seeing that it's easier to change the government than convincing government to change anything.
pekk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This title is terrible, but it might be the content too. Local teen has one weird trick! The big bad government hates him!
jokoon 1 day ago 0 replies      
honestly, millions are that much money for the federal budget...
antidaily 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's build a smarter planet.
drakaal 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are legal requirements to publish many things as Paper, so the Fed will be in the business of printing for a long time.

I think for this solution to work they should actually consider even more extreme type faces, font sizes, and shades of gray. How are we to know that just making the letters "weight" lower wouldn't have the same effect?Clearly we should commission a team of 12 experts to study which fonts cost the most to print, their legibility by a group of 100 Americans who represent the diverse age and backgrounds of American Citizens, and how fast they can read them, factoring their average wage to also value the man power cost of the new fonts.

To this end I'm submitting to my senator a proposal that outlines a $1 billion earmark for research in to the cost savings available through a mandate to use an alternate, but yet undetermined font. Additionally to avoid copyright issues on fonts, $4 billion will be set aside to find a team to create a new public domain font that will be accessible to anyone.

In as soon as 5 years we should have a new font selected, and as early as 2030 all new documents will be printed in the new font. Lastly all existing public works will be reprinted in the new font. We expect completion of this project by 2050.

By 2050 the war with Russia, and China should be over, and the United States of the Northern Hemisphere will be operating in only one language Chinglussian. All documents will be printed in this.

Adding the additional characters that Chinglussian requires should only cost another 8 Bitcoin. (the rate of inflation on BTC is expected to be practically infinite as all the worlds wealth packs in to 40M coins). We have already reserved those 8 Bitcoins, so as long as they aren't lent to another group in the next 35 years the proposed budget will account for that.

olssy 2 days ago 1 reply      
400 million saved is 400 million removed from the economy, isn't it?
amykhar 3 days ago 2 replies      
Of course, the ink-sellers would just promptly raise their prices. But, it's still a very creative way to approach the budget issue.
badman_ting 3 days ago 0 replies      
5-Year-Old to government: Your employees would be happier if you gave them cookies
Show HN: My Isometric Voxel Engine 6 Months Later voxelquest.com
406 points by gavanwoolery  2 days ago   132 comments top 39
jmduke 2 days ago 3 replies      
Honestly, the only incredibly disappointing part of this project is that there currently doesn't exist a way for me to throw my money at you through the internet.

In case you missed it, a link to be notified for the Kickstarter:


OmarIsmail 2 days ago 1 reply      
The more I read the more skeptical I became, but at the same time, you acknowledged all of the criticisms I was building up in my head. You have a realistic timeframe (years, but public access this year), and you acknowledge building a game, not an engine.

Your writing is clear and easy to follow, and your intelligence definitely shines through.

I never thought I'd say this, but you may actually have a shot at pulling this off. I mean the next Minecraft, Angry Birds, etc is going to come from somewhere/someone, why not you?

Keep it up! And looking forward to the next update.

javanix 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very very pretty graphics. I love that it doesn't look like voxels.

I wonder if you could use this to import and export meshes from a physics sim?

If you could turn the brick wall, for instance, into a Havok mesh, simulate knocking it down, and then convert the results back into voxel land you could do some really neat turn-based persistent-world destruction stuff.

Scaevolus 2 days ago 2 replies      
The memory requirements make it sound like you're not using hierarchical decompositions (sparse voxel octrees, etc), is there a reason for that?

How well-supported are dynamic features like animated characters or destruction? (Voxatron-style)

I'd hold off on your claims on AWESOME EMERGENT AI before you actually have it up and running. The capabilities are simple to describe, but actually implementing them in a way that's performant and not horribly buggy has stumped well-funded teams of experienced developers.

makmanalp 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, great work, this reminds me of a lot of demoscene stuff where, when faced with space limitations, programmers aggressively used procedural generation combined with prerendering and caching.

The most iconic example I can think of is .kkrieger, the 96kb first person shooter that has (relatively) amazing graphics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.kkrieger

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NBG-sKFaB0

There might be valuable lessons to be had in that domain that might save you some time.

donutdan4114 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks amazing. Very impressive. I hope this is successful, because you deserve it.
forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 2 replies      
Congrats!, great work.

This has lots of useful applications. E.g Do you know those graphics about a submarine of the WW2, or a Spanish galleon in which you could see what is inside, like in the book "incredible cross sections"?

With your tech you could make this but dynamic and alive!! peering what you are interested in. While most of the scene is static, you could move some things a little and make it alive.

You should contact one of those amazing artist and show them what you have. There is no way they would resist an offer of working on something like this.

bane 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was expecting more minecrafty looking, totally unexpected and awesome. I thought it was all bitmaps at first until you started sectioning through the buildings. Really awesome stuff. The world sizes are amazing.
TTPrograms 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really great work! A few quick questions - is the engine restricted to rendering from a fixed viewpoint as in your demo, or is that just a facet of the game you want to build with it? Also, would it be possible to speed up rendering by identifying occlusion from the viewpoint and not rendering those voxels as opposed to the "building up" demoed in the video?

Really great stuff!

hetid 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is really cool, but I fully expect you to fail.

Something simple to say like emergent AI can be ridiculously complex in practice. I bet you really have all the experience you claim to have, but I still don't expect you to get very far.

You have quite a few descriptions of how the game will end up, but saying things like "it will be fun and all these other things" dismisses how you're going to make it that way.

I think the coolest promise was that the game would be deterministic.

I'm not sure if you have lots of experience making games, but in my experience games written from the ground up never really become complete games.

If you're not already, you may want to consider hiring a team or getting help developing this so that you can focus on the things you think you can do most effectively or that are most crucial to the final gameplay.

Anyway, I really hope this is going to be all you say it will be.

Good luck. :)

aswanson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Gavan, this is amazing. Im trying to learn game development and graphics myself. Could you give me pointers on how to get started (tools, books, online tutorials, etc)? I want to get to this level of skill one day.
VikingCoder 2 days ago 1 reply      

I do think the grass looks like those old cartoons where the character is wearing a plaid outfit, and as they move, the plaid pattern stays still...

mindstab 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the music? is it an original creation? or a remix? because it reminds me very heavily of star control 2
cyphax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ooooh this is absolutely gorgeous, it's like a moving painting! I love the style, I was very impressed by the video so now I'm going to read all about it because this is the first time I hear about it. ;
richardwhiuk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds awesome. "The entire program is only" - I think you left off halfway through?
billrobertson42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it a case of "Source (will be) Available to Licensees?"

If so, I think trying to call it, "open source," puts you in the position where you might be perceived as being disingenuous. I also think it's less clear that way.

hnriot 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe this appeals to the younger gamer community, but having been involved back in the 90s with Renderware (which got eaten up by EA), a competitor to Rendermorphics that became (sort of) DirectX I would expect graphics engines to be much further along. This still looks like things we were playing with in the 90s. I'm sure its not, and I'm sure these voxels are clever, but when will rendering engines stop looking like Sonic The Hedgehog. Having switched to other areas of software development I haven't paid any attention to these engines.
SixSigma 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bah, my comment on your site went to an error page on submit.

It was: any plans to give an opening for player written AI to function in game - writing your own group companions sounds fun too, could even use a similar codepath as multiplayer

kyberias 2 days ago 1 reply      
It looks great. It bothers me a bit that the game is named after the rendering technology. It's fun to create a game engine that renders stuff but it takes way more than that to design a game.
ebbv 2 days ago 1 reply      
I started watching your video and what you have so far looks neat but you lost me when you started talking about how proud you were of the emergent AI when you haven't even started coding it yet. Yeah, you might have some good ideas about how you want the emergent AI to work but that's very different from having it working. Execution is the hard part.

My point is, talk about what you've done more than what you intend to do. Everybody can talk about what they intend to do, almost nobody does it. What you've done so far is interesting enough, talk about that for now.

e12e 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's looks like an interesting project. I wonder if there are technical similarities with Project Spark?


albertzeyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe I missed that. But why is the view always from 45 angle? Is that fixed?
math0ne 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was like what's so special about another vocal engine. after watching the video I see now that if you can have a super super detailed voxel engine all other engines corps be rendered irrelevant.
sawyer 2 days ago 1 reply      
You forgot to include the pre-order form!
GhotiFish 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lighting in this engine looks amazing.

I'd love to see more detail on it. If you stuck a light source in your glass house, would you see convincing shadows?

whage 2 days ago 1 reply      
All this done by one man? How much time in total? This is awe-inspiring
wonderyak 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks wonderful.

The map generation looks particularly great.

everyone 2 days ago 1 reply      
Holy sh*t!! That is very very impressive!! This guy is obviously an amazing game programmer.. I hope one day to be that skilled!
efnx 2 days ago 1 reply      
@gavinwoolery - How did you get started working with voxels, graphics, etc? What are some good resources for learning about this stuff?

Awesome demo.

bas 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great! I love the lighting on the inn/house.
diziet 2 days ago 1 reply      
@gavanwoolery -- what kind of Hardware is the demo running on?
htk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just say the game is to create walls and poke holes in them and call it a day! I would buy it!
tbastos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like the perfect engine for a remake of Ultima Online... the best MMORPG ever nostalgia
Marcus316 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is quite impressive!

Have you set fire to any of the materials in your generated world yet? It would be interesting to see a fire spread through one of your houses ... fire is usually one of the things either done well or done horribly in a game (in my opinion, anyways) ...

eigenvalue 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love these stories of lone (perhaps obsessive) developers laboring in seclusion for months, only to emerge with some awesome new thing that we can all get excited about. Must be a great sense of accomplishment, and a strong incentive to keep grinding away.
3rd3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is central perspective possible or is the isometric view hardcoded into the shaders?
ErikBjare 2 days ago 1 reply      
In my days of playing with voxels in Blender I never thought something like this was even remotely a valid usecase. Incredible work Sir, I'm speechless!
ljak 2 days ago 0 replies      
It looks a lot like Little Big Adventure.
dllthomas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very pretty.
Whatevers Best For The People, Thats What We Do medium.com
393 points by comex  3 days ago   120 comments top 29
numair 3 days ago 7 replies      
Regardless of personal opinion, I hope people on HN understand that this is a talented person providing an honest opinion about their work. Which is rare, and should be commended, rather than being treated as evidence of a conspiracy.

Also, Dustin Curtis seems to forget (or not understand) that Facebook is the same company that made a decision to implement AJAX at the expense of pageviews, at a time when that decision was highly controversial (the era of the Empire of MySpace). You can ding the management at Facebook for a lot of things, but this really isn't one of them.

The bigger story, really, is that poor people use Facebook on a computer, and thus that is where web-based experience optimization is focused. If you don't have a smartphone, or your smartphone sucks, you're going to be on the web; otherwise, why aren't you using your iPhone or iPad? (And remember, that's where Facebook derives a majority of their revenue -- so if there's going to be a conspiracy, it's going to be a conspiracy to get you to stop using the website, and to buy a high-ad-revenue-generating iPhone). Welcome to the wacky user landscape of 2014, where the Web is for nerds and poor people.

I like that Julie used Medium for her thoughts, rather than a Facebook post. Experimentation with others' products and services is super cool.

nnq 3 days ago 2 replies      
You don't even need metrics to figure out that, for example:

> The old design was worse for many of the things we value and try to improve. Like how much people share and converse with their friends. [old design: http://img.svbtle.com/gpnggaky8d1gog.jpg]

The "only icons" on the left + "icons AND text labels" for "Share/Like/Comment" + much higher text density on the right constantly shift your thinking form "photo/visual" to "reading/writing", it mind-fucks you in a very subtle way, so your brain ends up focusing on the only thing that makes sense: (a) the overall visual structure (that was beautifully designed, I admit) and (b) the photos.

If you want user engagement beyond the "click like" level you need to focus people towards the "reading/writing/verbal" mode of interaction. Like, if you have to read a button's label to know what it does, this puts your mind into "reading mode" so the comment that immediately follows the link/button has more chances of actually being read and of the people actually writing a reply instead of just clicking a like and staring at a cute picture. They really got this right (either through someone's insight or metrics, I dunno) with the "Like Comment Share" links - getting rid of the icons pushed you more towards "text/words mode" thinking, which is exactly the mode you need to be in to actually post a comment, and a comment is more content so it will be a positive feedback loop for even more and so on.

(Also, another obvious bad idea was the left bar - while theoretically good for screen estate, it's essentially "mystery meat navigation" to unsophisticated desktop users. Also it puts less focus on the Apps. Also by putting the active contacts list in the bottom left corner pushes them out of your mental focus.)

EDIT+: ...now that it really got me thinking of it, I can't believe how incredibly bad the "old new" design was. How did they even chose to deliver that? It looked like textbook "design driven design", it didn't focus at all on how the users think and what they actually do on Facebook.

peterkelly 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dammit... why did I have to read this article? I was just about to post a rant in the comments of the original one about how evil and money-grabbing Facebook is, and now I find out the final design choice was made for perfectly-rational usability reasons that take into account the diversity of the user population.

How am I supposed to make myself feel superior now?

calbear81 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad Julie took the time to respond to Dustin's article and dispel the lower revenue assumption. I looked back at the articles in March of last year and it does appear that everyone reported that the new design would bring in more ad revenue via more engaging ad formats for advertisers.

One thing I want to understand is if the concern is about accommodating people on less-than-the-latest tech or smaller screens, etc. then we've solved largely for that via responsive design. It's not hard to detect that I have enough real estate to support having a 2x larger photo in my feed. Why not adjust as needed?

rdl 3 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I hate is how all these screenshots are made with unrepresentatively interesting posts and high quality photographs.

Show what the feed looks like with a news stories posted by a few people (fortunately FB is now smart enough to coalesce them), a bunch of moronic memes, one line stupid text, and a few long posts with ~100 comments with lots of debate, and that's more representative of my facebook newsfeed.

codezero 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm baffled as to why the experience needs to be 100% consistent across all demographics.

Why can't Facebook adapt the news feed to be the best for each individual, both content wise and design?

I have a 27" screen, why degrade my experience, as a minority when you are completely capable of enhancing it. Enhance the 11, 13 and 17 inch screens too, and let us all have the best experience possible.

The idea that the majority should be the only number worth optimizing is one that should be completely dismissed.

shakethemonkey 3 days ago 1 reply      
#1 design flaw on Facebook: It should be dead easy to search my newsfeed. I saw something yesterday, or last week -- there's no way to see it again. (If there is, you've hidden this feature so well that you should get an award for obfuscation)
UweSchmidt 3 days ago 0 replies      
No place on the internet feels so heavy handed in telling you what to do and trying to influence your behaviour like Facebook. You can feel like they frequency with which you are compelled to provide some missing information for FB's databases is algorithmically fine tuned to how much you can probably bear. It feels soulless, a site nearing the end of it's life cycle. I check out my friend's photos almost daily, and not too many people seem to be leaving, but no one's writing or posting anything personal any more. Hesitation, distrust.

So, you can try to roll out a layout that makes the "News Feed all about the content" (wtf?), but you can't design the love back in.

saturdaysaint 3 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously, this could just be corporate PR disguised as a blog, but it seems plausible when I consider how rarely I even go to www.facebook.com. For users not on mobile (I'm imagining grandparents), an immersive photo experience creates a nice experience but one distinctly unlike what most mobile users (which is to say, most users) experience. I can see big laptop-screen filling images deemphasizing text and overshadowing some of the utility that FB wants to assume for users. It might seem daunting to share an update that you're making tea for your granddaughter when you seem to be competing with your relatives' screen filling, HD photos and videos. "Immersive" pictures might make you less likely to check your events.
notdonspaulding 3 days ago 0 replies      
> These people may not be early adopters or use the same hardware we do, but the quality of their experience matters just as much.

This speaks to the value FB sees in low-quality, high-reach experiences. Well, this and the WhatsApp acquisition. It's a very mature and reasonable response to Dustin's armchair speculation.

karangoeluw 3 days ago 1 reply      
It took me a while to realize that you work at Facebook. Maybe add a sentence or two about that on top of the article?
pxlpshr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Her screenshot shows 2 just ads while my stream shows me 7. My block of ads is 350% larger.
byroot 3 days ago 2 replies      
Funny how her screenshot is cleared of ads.
wudf 3 days ago 0 replies      
The new design delivers headlines that I can't highlight to copy. Pain in the ass.
voicereasonish 3 days ago 3 replies      
The design is terrible. So much of the width is wasted with two sidebars that are seldom used. "People you may also know"? Really? And big areas of grey.Also don't get me started on the ridiculously persistent desire for facebook to show you random stories "Top stories" rather than sorted by date, or the ridiculously irritating auto-play videos.

People are dropping facebook. It's just becoming a worse user experience each time they change anything.

dsjoerg 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is so gratifying to hypothesize your existence, and then, like a high-energy particle, here you are. (Hypothesized here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7484795)
Dewie 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just wish I could turn off the news feed. Facebook is a great social tool, but I'm sick of all the literal status updates. I tried Facebook Purify but their CSS ,trick didn't work.


k0 3 days ago 0 replies      
What is Responsive Web Design? How could it be used to enhance the UX and UI? Why isn't Facebook using RWD? Real, scalable RWD? I must be way off base, but their issues with the News Feed design are surmountable. Not impressed by Julie.

I have never thought of FB as a bastion of design...and I have not yet been swayed to think or see otherwise.

veidr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whatever's best for the farmers, that's what Monsanto does.
watwut 3 days ago 0 replies      
If only google would learn this too and checked their new guis on smaller screens once in a while.
new_guy123 3 days ago 0 replies      
This follow up response is completely expected. No doubt, Justin's blog was incomplete information. While I am still not convinced about how the ads section got bigger, is it really so difficult to identify the user's medium?

I am using a mac book pro. My request header is yelling at you that I am. Your argument makes no sense, if you agree that you know I am not suffering from the lack of a scroll pad. What about that!

saddestcatever 2 days ago 0 replies      
Julie's argument wraps around the idea of "designing for the lowest common denominator". In an age of responsive design, I find it strange that a tech company wouldn't have the manpower to design arguably the most used website it the world to give the best experience to different types of end users.
viacoffee 2 days ago 0 replies      
kemo 3 days ago 0 replies      
And what if providing different user experiences is the next thing Facebook should aim towards? What if users would actually enjoy being able to choose from different UIs? "Which one do you use?"

I am not referring to responsive web here.

itazula 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never like it when people say they're doing what is best "for the people."
mavdi 3 days ago 0 replies      
So their new design wasn't responsive? Am I missing something here?
useraccount 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dustin Curtis is a horseshit peddler. I'm not sure why people still listen to him.
davyjones 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really understand why this explanation was even warranted. People looking from outside don't get the picture at all. Ergo, conclusions are erroneous at best and malicious at worst.
forrestthewoods 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is someone from Facebook making an official(ish?) statement via medium? Seems kinda amateur.

And, maybe it's just me, but I hate links from medium because on HN they strictly say (medium.com) with no information as to who they are. Much, much prefer personal blog links where there is some context.

Screw stigma. Im coming out. medium.com
390 points by markmassie  2 days ago   132 comments top 21
milesf 2 days ago 5 replies      
I used to struggle with Bipolar Spectrum disorder. After 9 years of medication, therapy, prayer, and a lot of ups and downs I've been declared free of the diagnosis by my psychiatrist.

I gained a lot of weight because of medications (normal weight is 210lbs, which is fine for my 6' 4" frame, but medication caused me to balloon up to over 444lbs). I have not been able to work at my peak for many years. I'm now almost 45, and I feel like I'm starting to get my life back. Now that I'm off the main drug that treated my disorder (risperidone) my weight is starting to drop.

I know people are scared of mental illness. I see it in their faces, or the way they treat me differently as time goes by. But that's okay, I have close friends who have accepted me for who I am without that fear.

My wife wishes I wouldn't tell people about my history. My health is no one's business but mine. However, I choose to tell people about it, because of the stigma. Because I'm neither ashamed or afraid for people to know. I _will_ lose friends, work, and opportunities because of my choice to be open about it, but I don't care because I want to fight the stigma.

Everyone has a friend or family member that struggles with some form of mental illness. Everyone. I have seen too many people suffer in silence, and some even take their own lives because the pain is too much.

I was suicidal years ago. I suffered horribly for many months on end, waking up in the morning and just focussing on getting through the next hour, until I finally reached the end of the day and could go back to sleep so I could have some relief.

There is no shame in mental illness. People used to be afraid of people who had heart disease, as if they might "catch something" from them. The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies, and it's prone to have problems just like any other organ.

My name is Miles Forrest. I have wrestled with mental illness for many years, and I'm happy to say I have overcome it with help from doctors, family, friends, and God (if you're offended by my attribution to God, please don't be. I respect a person's right to believe whatever they want, all I ask is they respect my right to believe whatever I want). I can't say I'm cured, because there's a possibility I might relapse at some point in the future. But I have acquired the skills, knowledge, and support network that I know, without a doubt, I would be able to beat it back down again. Mental illness doesn't define me, but learning to fight, persevere and lean on others when I need to has made me a better man.

You can mock or ridicule me if you want, but I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to the man or woman out there who is afraid there might be something wrong with their mind, and who feel alone and afraid. I know how scary it is. I know how you feel like you're the only person in the world who has felt the way you do. You're not, and you are not alone. If you are that person, email me at miles@coderpath.com, and I will walk with you as a friend and stranger to get you help.

pyduan 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a courageous article.

Sadly, it seems mental illnesses are one of the great taboos of today (and don't even get me started on the state of mental health care in the US). Similarly, mental illnesses are extremely misunderstood, and people tend to distrust people who suffer from one even though illnesses such as depression may affect 5 to 10% of the population [1] and as much as one in four adults are affected by a mental illness in general in a given year [2]. A significant portion of the population is affected, but for the most part it remains unadvisable to talk about it. It's the elephant in the room.

This is compounded by the fact American culture in particular tends to disproportionately value extroversion and appearance of happiness. This leads many people to remain closeted by fear of repercussions, both on one's social and work life. Even worse, it prevents people from seeking necessary help because of the attached stigma ("but I'm not crazy!"). There are known cases where people are punished for having seeked professional help. For exemple, people who admitted to "suicidal tendencies", however serious, may be refused US visas [3]. The discrepancy between how willingly people talk about their trip to a doctor vs. a therapist is huge and obvious, and it shouldn't be.

Now why should this be relevant for the HN crowd? As someone who's very close to these issues, it seems to me this is one of the few social issues where the tech industry is not as progressive as it could be. Our industry tends to produce myths of super(wo)men with alpha personalities; we admire leaders, disrupters, bigger-than-life personalities, sometimes even assholes. Furthermore, this is a small world where, for better or for worse, a lot depends on word-of-mouth and personal reputation, and where "cultural fit" is openly hailed as a criterion for employment despite the vagueness of the term, which can hide what would otherwise be considered blatant discrimination (cf. that article on ageism not so long ago). The same goes for founders: would you think twice about investing in a non-established individual with a history of OCD? Depression?

What I am getting at is that mental illness is a combination of neurobiological and psychological causes, not a weakness in character -- but in an industry that values strength of character above everything else, the fact many ignore this can be extremely destructive.

We can do better. The author has done the world a great service by publishing his story. I hope more follow suit.

[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1mdd_adult.shtml

[2] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-coun...

[3] http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-health-issues-can...

ds9 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is admirable and I wish the author well. His example may also help others.

It should not be taken as a signal that "outing" oneself is advisable for others in comparable situations. This guy is very fortunate that he is well established in a career and can point to good performance in his positions, unaffected (from the employer's point of view) by his condition.

Others are much more vulnerable to prejudice and discrimination, and might be better advised to stay closeted.

Jtsummers 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I'd like to add to this discussion. It may be difficult, and it may not be something you should do until they're older, but talk to your children about issues that you have and that run in your family. It can save them a lot of heartache and difficulty down the road if they have similar issues. In particular, knowing my family's history of alcoholism and drug abuse helped me avoid both. Given my issues with depression, if I was drinking like my peers in college, I probably wouldn't be here today. Similarly, I didn't know the cause of their issues (depression) until I was already deep into an episode that lasted a couple years. If I'd known beforehand what to look out for, and that it wasn't uncommon in my family, it might not have lasted as long.
quanticle 2 days ago 0 replies      
This quote seems apropos:

Though many object to psychiatrys perceived encroachment into normality, we rarely hear such complaints about the rest of medicine. Few lament that nearly all of us, at some point in our lives, seek care from a physician and take all manner of medications, most without need of a prescription, for one physical ailment or another. If we can accept that it is completely normal to be medically sick, not only with transient conditions such as coughs and colds, but also chronic disorders such as farsightedness, lower back pain, high blood pressure or diabetes, why cant we accept that it might also be normal to be psychiatrically ill at various points in our lives? The answer seems to be that psychiatric disorders carry a much greater degree of stigma compared with medical conditions. People worry that psychiatrists think everyone is crazy because they make the mistake of equating any form of psychiatric illness with being crazy. But thats like equating a cough with tuberculosis or lung cancer.


D9u 2 days ago 0 replies      
From day one here at HN my profile states that I am schizophrenic... Not that it's done me any good here, but I don't see why I should hide this fact from people I am likely to never meet in real life.

Kudos to those who could care less about social stigma.

Camillo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking of stigma keeping people from seeking treatment, how does this interplay with the fact that most people in America get health insurance through their jobs? Aren't people afraid that some information will leak out if they seek mental treatment through their insurance?And what about the "counseling" services many large organizations offer?
JackFr 2 days ago 9 replies      
I'm not sure what to think about this. I accept that the author is suffering and in anguish, and I truly wish him well. Despite his obvious accomplishments and all the trappings of success, I would not trade places with him. His subjective experience seems to be painful and is no less real to him than mine is to me.

At the same time, I don't think he is ill. While I don't doubt that he is suffering, I don't think it it is helpful to class his suffering as an illness. I don't think anyone argues that his symptoms are caused by an infection or a defect in an organ, so his disorder lacks the physical basis for a typical illness. At the same time, he has symptoms. And therapy, and possibly drugs, make him feel subjectively better. He chooses to engage in a regime of therapy which (presumably) has self reported benefits.

But I don't think it is helpful to think of his plight like we think of malaria or polio or heart disease. When we talk about 'emotional disorders', we implicitly take on an enormous amount of cultural context as well as normative judgements about how someone 'should' feel. And the danger is that one will come to believe that an unpleasant mental state in an otherwise healthy brain is something to be cured through the application of science.

That being said, I agree with the main point -- that there is no shame in his mental state. I suppose my point is that it is not necessary (and should not be necessary) to reclassify what a disease is in order for a class of people to maintain their dignity. And above all, I wish this man well and by no means mean to diminish his pain, or the courage it took to write this.

natural_capital 2 days ago 0 replies      
Showcasing your own story to set the precedent for people to acknowledge mental illness as a real illness is a bold and admirable move. I would note however, that the recovery process for every individual is wildly different and shouldn't be overlooked.

Acknowledgement of the mental illness issue is one part of the problem, which will hopefully lead to better, more integrated treatment lines in the future.

michaelochurch 2 days ago 4 replies      
Cyclothymic. That's a bipolar spectrum disorder, but it doesn't match the lay image of the manic-depressive. The episodes are milder and shorter, but they come on quickly. A "depression attack" can last 3 hours, resolve in a panic attack, and be gone 20 minutes later. Most people who know me wouldn't know that I have it. The one "insane" thing I've done (trolling, back in the day) had the specific purpose of keeping insanity out of my "IRL" existence.

As with all spectrum disorders, people seem to focus on the visible, uncontainable, and publicly dangerous 0.1% and ignore that 99.9% of people with the disorder or "on the spectrum" are not dangerous, wouldn't fit most people's image of "mentally ill", and can be very well-adjusted.

I tend to think of mood disorders as anti-psychopathy. Psychopaths have low or nonexistent mood and emotional sensitivity, which is why they're social high performers and (if ambitious) excel in the work world. Some mood disorders seem to be uncorrelated to context (i.e. episodes happen "for no reason") and that's probably more true of the severe cases, but most people with mood disorders are normal people with hypersensitivity, such as the OP whose brain would take personal criticism extremely seriously, unable to block it out or cope.

Aaron Swartz comes to mind as a archetypical anti-psychopath. They tend to be moralistic, less fearful of negative consequences when doing what they think is right, and prone to mood and anxiety disorders. Anti-psychopathy isn't a desirable thing. It can be just as ill-adjusted. Just as psychopathy tends to be good for the individual (in terms of material prosperity, social rank, and sexual access) but bad for society, anti-psychopathy tends to be good for society but harmful to the individual.

What's happening right now, in Silicon Valley, is a battle to the death between real technologists (who tend to be anti-psychopaths) and the mainstream business culture of entitled executives and board-whores (psychopaths). With Snapchat and Clinkle setting the tone in the current Valley, rents becoming unaffordable, and no-poach agreements all over the Valley, psychopaths seem to be winning.

I think that mood disorders in particular require a certain balance. People tend to do unwise or harmful things, especially when inexperienced, and those with mood disorders are not exceptions. You have to own your actions, even if you made them in a struggle that most people wouldn't understand. That said, it's also important to realize "it's not me, it's them" and keep your pride intact. Mental health issues often give you a front-row seat for how shitty people can be when they think you're weak.

Much of what comes out of these disorders isn't harmful in the least. It's just slightly embarrassing, but plenty of people will hang you out to dry just because they're weak, useless cowards. This may be why people with mood disorders (at least, the milder kind that won't interfere with ethical behavior; a truly "manic" person, noting that mania-- not the milder hypomania-- is very rare even in people with bipolar, does not know who he is) tend to evolve into moralistic, hyper-ethical anti-psychopaths.

I'll give a semi-fictional example. Let's say you're a programmer and you have a hypomanic episode. You still go to work, don't cause any issues, and spend 2 weeks building something you were never assigned to do. It turns out to be really good work and useful to the company (as much, or moreso, than putting that time in on your assigned work) but your boss is pissed off that you were working on this side project, instead of your assigned work, and tags you as "unreliable". A morally decent person would recognize that as wrong (it's health discrimination, and counterproductive, to punish people with "creative flare-ups") but, even still, stories like that are so common in Silicon Valley as to be unremarkable. Anti-psychopaths tend to need an R&D environment where they're measured by performance over time, rather than minute-by-minute superficial reliability (at which they can't possibly compete) and those, sadly, tend to be turning rare in the current anti-intellectual (and pro-psychopathic) environment.

joyeuse6701 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed that read. I think the world is a better place getting to hear his story.
markbot 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was really well written. It says a lot of things that I feel the tech industry tends to ignore.
teahat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aside from medication, for OCD in particular there are therapeutic options that can be (life-changingly) effective. The OCD centre [http://www.ocdcentre.com/about-us] is one such place. If you think you might have OCD (last I read the incidence was around 1/30) talking to someone about is the best first step. Especially as one common and pernicious effect of OCD is that it will convince you that you do not have it.
DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
People say the treatment in England is much better, and it is, unless you are under 18.

MH treatment is underfunded in England (and this has recently been written into commissioning contracts) and it is worse for children and young people.

In patient beds for children are limited. A child who needs an in patient bed may have to travel hundreds of miles to get that bed. They may even need to travel to a different country.

A child in the south of England may not have a bed available anywhere in England and might need to go to Scotland for a bed.

Apart from the obvious cost of distance and the distress of being so far from home (although getting distance from an abusive home can be useful) that child is now under a different legal system. Thus, the rules for detaining them against their will; force feeding; forced medication; etc etc are all slightly different.

rokhayakebe 2 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I would like to offer would be for American doctors to perform comparisons across cultures, countries, and societies. I am restricting the above purely to mental illness. There are many mental diseases I only witnessed in America, and not in Africa. I do not know what the meaning of this observation would be if proven factual, but I think it is worth exploring.
h1karu 2 days ago 2 replies      
In case you never considered it before there is a heavy PROFIT INCENTIVE for your psychiatrist to diagnose you with some form of mental illness that he is familiar with. You need to become a domain expert yourself in order to figure out if you're being manipulated for profit or if the diagnosis is legitimate.
mbesto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone very close and dear to me has a mental illness. She was super nervous to disclose this to me for fear that I may think differently of her. The thing she most appreciated about my reaction was that I said "Let me know if there is anything that I should know about your illness that may affect you in a way that may make you behave differently than you normally do, otherwise I will behave and act as if it simply doesn't exist." Suffice to say, I don't actually remember what illness she has.
comrh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another "coming out" story is from Michael Landsberg, a Canadian hockey analyst on TSN. His hashtag #sicknotweak inspires me when I'm feeling like crap.http://www.thelavinagency.com/blog-mental-health-speaker-mic...
insensible 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's wonderful to have a courageous person breaking the ice on difficult topics. Bravo to Mark. And the love shown by his wife is deeply touching.
TAC1234567 2 days ago 7 replies      
This will not be a popular opinion, nor is it a nice opinion, but sometimes the truth is neither and I think it is valuable to be explicit about these things sometimes.

The "stigma" against mental illness makes sense in a lot of ways.

I do not mean: that the mentally ill deserve fewer legal rights than others, deserve any kind of bad treatment or violence or ridicule, shouldn't be "accepted", or bear any "responsibility" for their condition.

I do mean: life is full of subtle social contracts that mental illness often causes people to flout. Mental illness (in many cases) makes people less predictable and reliable. Harder to deal with.

Some people reading this will say "obviously that is true, which we all acknowledge but have no reason to dwell on, and that is why it is a complex situation that demands awareness". Others will say "that is false and you are a bad person". First group, I refer you to second group.

If you are 100% committed to the goals of your organization (growing a startup, winning a war, whatever), you will be very hesitant to add a mentally ill person to your team/company/platoon. This makes sense. It sucks. Being mentally ill sucks. This is one of the ways.

That doesn't necessarily mean anything needs to or can be done to change it.

ngcazz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for posting this.

The testimony on intrusive thoughts hits so close to home, I'm considering seeking professional help. I wonder if there is a different way to think and live!

Gunshot victims to be suspended between life and death newscientist.com
364 points by Torgo  4 days ago   146 comments top 17
Shinkei 3 days ago 3 replies      
Well this is unfortunate... I came to this thread way too late and I doubt people will see my post. I am a physician and I know a lot about hypothermia and its uses in medicine. Oh boy, where to start...

First of all, death is a really nebulous concept when you understand physiology at the cellular level. We still do not know the signs that represent irreversible death at the organismal level. The heart can be restarted, consciousness can be lost and restored (coma, concussion), and even the entire cardiovascular system can be bypassed in emergency situations (Google: ECMO). I mean, we accept that decapitation is a non-survivable condition, but is that person dead at 10 seconds? 1 minute? 10 minutes? What if they could be revived in body, but their cognition/personality information was all lost... are they alive? It's really controversial and hard to define. So instead we make definitions of cardiovascular death and brain death so that we can make laws and regulations regarding the issue. But scientifically? Yeah, good luck with that.

Now accepting that there is no 'on/off' switch of life and death, we must come up with ways to preserve to most 'at risk' parts of the body to preserve life. In this case, the brain. 5-10 minutes tops without oxygen and you are death for all intents and purposes--an exception (which they kept forgetting to mention in the article) is that you aren't dead until you are 'warm and dead.' There are plenty of cases of hypothermic 'dead' that could be rewarmed and they 'come back.' Are they intact? Absolutely not! Most of them suffer short term memory loss and spastic muscle issues (the most susceptible cells to anoxic injury are namely the hippocampus and purkinje cells in the cerebellum--both of which would be expected to cause these symptoms if injured). Using rats and pigs to model recovery in hypothermia (which has been done as far back as the 80s) is misleading because you can do things to them that you can't do to humans. Namely, subject them to high-risk, experimental procedures without their consent. This is an unusual study because they WILL be doing just that--bypassing consent to give these people presumably the only chance they have to survive. In past studies of hypothermia, people could not be consented fast enough or they couldn't be cooled fast enough (an entirely different discussion). The key is the immediate cooling. If you can get their temperature low enough, quickly... you can preserve almost all brain function. Again, we know this from cases of frozen lake drownings, hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass, etc.

So, yes... this trial is promising... but I am afraid that it will be difficult to do it right. The fact is that getting central arterial access to 'replace their blood and cool them' is not as easy as it's made out to be. Plus, if they have that much blood loss... those injuries need to be repaired and that same fluid being pushed through those injured vessels, is now just pouring out of those same injuries. Yes, it may work in some cases... but overall, traumatic injury is a very heterogeneous group.

In the group that they describe who will receive this experimental treatment, I fear that they will have already had too much ischemic time--too much time without significant blood pressure. High-quality CPR is rare in the field, and even in the hospital can be sometimes missing. Assuming they have been getting 'good' CPR for the 10-15 minutes the ER team spent attempting to resuscitate them, there is still a good chance that their brain was not being perfused.

IMHO, this trial will unfortunately not give positive results. The science works in principle, but not in practice.

That being said, the 'holy grail' would be a drug/chemical that could slow cellular metabolism. Emergency responders could inject this at the point of triage and then hold them in 'stasis.' One day, we will definitely have this... but there are no good compounds in the pipeline to my knowledge.

EDIT: I think I gave the false impression that I don't support the study. Actually, I DO! I was just speaking about the existing human studies that are out there. I think it is both ethical and important that we continue to investigate these interventions.

jbattle 4 days ago 8 replies      
> At this point they will have no blood in their body, no breathing, and no brain activity. They will be clinically dead.

Is this right? That seems to imply that brain activity can be restarted from a cold, "electrically" inactive mass of grey matter. I thought brain dead was dead and there was no coming back from that.

Is the article accurate? If so, does the ability to restart the mind from an inert brain tell us something important about how thought and consciousness works?

ekianjo 4 days ago 6 replies      
There are other ways to do suspension as well. Certain gases are known to have the very same effect (induce clinical death, slow down your body metabolism) and the body can be restarted when oxygen is pumped in forcefully again.

Alas with the extremely slow state of regulatory changes, many people that could be already saved nowadays using these techniques are just ending up dead.

hawkharris 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why are the researchers focusing only on knife wound and gun shot victims? I understand that those injuries are particularly sudden and severe, but so are many of the injuries associated with automobile accidents, which occur more frequently.

Of course, they need to introduce this technology in a small, focused way, but it would seem more logical to use a patient's physical condition as the deciding factor rather than his or her exposure to two specific crimes.

olalonde 4 days ago 3 replies      
If this works, could it give some credibility to cryonics?
mdonahoe 4 days ago 0 replies      
link to the study:


"[T]est the feasibility of rapidly inducing profound hypothermia ... with an aortic flush in trauma victims"

barlescabbage 4 days ago 0 replies      
I emailed my best friend's dad who is a retired ER doc and Harvard grad, this was his response...

"We already do this with CPR survivors. It is not clear that it is helpful.It is logical, but as you know logic is the great deceiver."

tdaltonc 4 days ago 4 replies      
If the goal is just to get the patient cold why not use ice cold blood? Why use saline?

You could even use a cardiopulmonary bypass to rapidly cool a patients own blood.

DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 0 replies      
I remember reading about this research in pigs many years ago and over the years I kept wondering "what's going on with this?"

If they can make this work only in a statistical sense, reviving more people than would have died otherwise, it'll lead to even more research. My firm belief is that this is one of those things that the more we do, the more we'll be able to do. It wouldn't surprise me to see people being "dead" for 4-16 hours then brought back to life -- assuming a decade or two of research.

At that point, all kinds of weird things become possible, like head transplants, or people who have lost their body from the navel down being saved.

Very cool stuff.

logfromblammo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Science fiction is becoming medical practice. In Lois Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books, the main character is killed by a grenade to the chest. The emergency medical procedure was to dump the lower-ranking dead body already in the portable body freezer, exsanguinate the corpse by opening the carotid arteries, and pump the circulatory system full of "cryoprotectant fluid". The body is then frozen. Replacement parts are grown from the corpse's own tissues, which are surgically implanted when the body is thawed in a fully equipped, state-of-the-art medical facility.

In the context of the fiction, the procedure was imperfect, and is not without side effects. The frozen dead people often fail to revive. The main character, for instance, was left with a debilitating seizure disorder for the remainder of his life, something that was eventually treated by a neurological pacemaker implant.

Based on existing studies and technology, the fiction is a very plausible future technology. Between stem cells, volume printers, and extracellular matrix, autologous donor organ replacement seems possible. Hibernating amphibian studies tend to indicate that a blood replacement containing glycerine, perfluorodecalin, raffinose, glycogen, and drugs would help minimize human tissue damage from the freezing and thawing process. It would be an emulsion, and would probably superficially resemble the android blood from the Alien movies.

The only question, really, is whether the person that wakes up after surgery is the same person that "died" beforehand. Is it really saving someone's life, or is it just replacing them with a simulacrum that has their memories? And that question hardly matters at all.

BehindScenes 4 days ago 0 replies      
There we go, soon will see zombies like in walking dead if something goes wrong.
bicknergseng 4 days ago 2 replies      
I haven't seen that many pop up ads since 2003.
b6fan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean people live in Autarctica could live longer but think slower?
Unai 4 days ago 0 replies      
> "We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction," says Samuel Tisherman, a surgeon at the hospital, who is leading the trial. "So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation."

Because that doesn't sound like science fiction at all...

whitehat2k9 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the human body is anything like the first generation of ACPI this is not going to end well for the patients :P
j2kun 4 days ago 2 replies      
Replacing all of someone's blood with anything is extremely scary-sounding.

Also, now I can't help but imagine replacing all of someone's blood with things like jello and cream cheese.

downer76 4 days ago 0 replies      
even a tl;dr is long, but worth reading:

  The technique involves replacing all of a patient's   blood with a cold saline solution.   The technique was first demonstrated in pigs in 2002 by   Hasan Alam at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann   Arbor, and his colleagues.  Their blood was drained and replaced by either a cold   potassium or saline solution, rapidly cooling the body   to around 10 C. After the injuries were treated, the   animals were gradually warmed up as the solution was   replaced with blood.  Surgeons are now on call at the UPMC Presbyterian   Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to perform the   operation. Because the trial will happen during a   medical emergency, neither the patient nor their family   can give consent. A final meeting this week will ensure   that a team of doctors is fully prepared to try it. Then   all they have to do is wait for the right patient to   arrive. When this happens, every member of Tisherman's   team will be paged.  The technique will be tested on 10 people, and the   outcome compared with another 10 who met the criteria   but who weren't treated this way because the team wasn't   on hand. The technique will be refined then tested on   another 10, says Tisherman, until there are enough   results to analyse.  "...we don't like to call it suspended animation because    it sounds like science fiction..."   says Samuel Tisherman, a surgeon at the hospital, who is   leading the trial.  "After we did those experiments, the definition of 'dead'   changed, Every day at work I declare people dead. They    have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity.    I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they    are not actually dead. I could, right then and there,    suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag.    It's frustrating to know there's a solution."  says surgeon Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona in   Tucson, who helped develop the technique.
The suspense is KILLING me!</pun>

Introducing Michael Abrash, Oculus Chief Scientist oculusvr.com
363 points by polskibus  2 days ago   147 comments top 37
Arjuna 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, this is awesome news!

Michael and John are reunited... I mean, recall in the Graphics Programming Black Book, when Michael starts off in the introduction with, "What was it like working with John Carmack on Quake? Like being strapped onto a rocket during takeoff in the middle of a hurricane." [1]

Plus, Michael's quote from the announcement, "I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can." Great things are ahead!

If you've missed Michael's writings on VR, you are in for a real treat:

Why Virtual Reality is Hard (And Where It Might Be Going):





Two Possible Paths into the Future of Wearable Computing: Part 1 VR


Two Possible Paths into the Future of Wearable Computing: Part 2 AR


When it comes to resolution, it's all relative


Latency the sine qua non of AR and VR


Raster-Scan Displays: More Than Meets The Eye


Game Developers Conference and space-time diagrams


Why virtual isn't real to your brain


Why virtual isn't real to your brain: judder


Down the VR rabbit hole: Fixing judder


[1] http://twimgs.com/ddj/abrashblackbook/gpbbintr.pdf

staunch 2 days ago 5 replies      
When a billionaire nerd that is "one of us" buys the VR company John Carmack is the CTO of and backs it with all the resources at his disposal I get excited. When he reunites two fathers of 3D game programming and the makers of the Quake engine I start to freak out.

On the upside we have an unlimited budget to make VR real and on the downside the team can always start again with VC money if necessary.

martythemaniak 2 days ago 6 replies      
There's another thing from Snowcrash I've been thinking about - realistic faces. The most exclusive club in the Metaverse was The Black Sun and what made it special was that the avatars had extremely realistic, life-like expressions, enabling them to visually express emotions and thus enabling a higher form of communication (correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't read it in a decade).

So if we buy into the notion that social presence in VR worlds will be big, somebody's going to have to build this. The technology exists, but it looks very awkward: https://www.fxguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HBT-VFXpr...

Not only does that have to be translated into a consumer product, but you need to capture someone's face while they're wearing the VR headset, which makes it even harder. Since VR headsets already touch your face, I would imagine the product would have to be some kind of extension of that - a larger contact area filled with sensors that reconstruct your expression perfectly.

brezina 2 days ago 4 replies      
beautiful PR execution by the Oculus/FB teams. They knew this acquisition would anger members of the community, and they timed this hire/announcement so as to quiet the predicted backlash. Brilliant execution.
Tiktaalik 2 days ago 4 replies      
You can see why games people are irritated. I'm getting a strong impression that at this point that Oculus is moving away from being a games oriented company.

If I was a game studio building a VR game with an Oculus kit, I'd be continuing to work on it, but I'd be calling Sony and trying to get in line for a Morpheus.

swang 2 days ago 1 reply      
This shouldn't change your view point either way if you hated the fb acquisition or were fine with it.

What I mean is the people generally angry about the acquisition was not due to the personnel but Facebook itself so this should change nothing. All this shows was the Oculus was already going to get Abrash and that Facebook decided this would be better to announce after they got acquired.

MattGrommes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Man, I'm now simultaneously more excited than ever about Oculus and more fearful that FB will do something to screw up this chance.

I'm choosing optimism.

jzelinskie 2 days ago 0 replies      
First and foremost, everyone's priorities should be ensuring the success of the VR industry; Oculus is basically the company to do that. Sony will do their best with console hardware, but Oculus will set the pace for what's top of the line for consumers. If Facebook ever steps in and does something the [developer] community abhors, it should already be at the point where VR has had success and there will be competition. I'm super excited to see Abrash at Oculus; I just hope this doesn't mean Valve's slowing down on their work. Valve's been working for a vendor-agnostic API/configuration for these devices in their Steamworks APIs and I really hope that we don't end up fragmented by varying vendor-specific APIs.
revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've checked Wikipedia to augment my knowledge of all things Michael Abrash, and came across this quote of Gabe Newell:

been trying to hire Michael Abrash forever. [...] About once a quarter we go for dinner and I say 'are you ready to work here yet?

So between Gabe and John, Michael could probably be dining for free every day of the week ;)

aresant 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, I am over being mad at Facebook. This is huge.

Abrash has been the front facing member of Valve's efforts @ VR.

His "What VR could, should, and almost certainly will be within two years" (1) paper was mind boggling as an Oculus Dev Kit owner.

This is going to be like watching the "Dream Team" come together in one place, and I'm guessing that this ends all speculation about whether or not Carmack sticks around under FB considering the collaborative history between these two.

(1) http://media.steampowered.com/apps/abrashblog/Abrash%20Dev%2...

jtfrench 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's awesome Carmack and Abrash are working together again. I read "Masters of Doom" back in the day, and it totally rocked my mind and took me back to a time when I was too young to realize just how impactful Carmack was on the industry that I enjoyed as a kid.

I just wouldn't have predicted that their comeback to the limelight would be working for Facebook. In my eyes, they were "bigger" than that (obviously not monetarily). They "meant" more to me. This is all subjective stuff I realize, and yes I've heard a zillion times "how good it is for VR", but it kind of indirectly gives a message that the best thing a genius who is already capable of changing the world can do is work for Facebook instead of do their own thing.

Call me a softy, but something just warms my heart when I see smart people stand out on their own, unswayed by the massive "power monoliths" surrounding them, and STILL kick ass. That's what Facebook did! And that was awesome! I just hope that spirit of entrepreneurship doesn't fade, and that geniuses know their power lies within themselves not in deep pockets of any company.

Congrats to all involved though I can only imagine what kind of crazy office days are ahead. The sequel to "Masters of Doom" is yet to be written.

npinguy 2 days ago 2 replies      
If Michael Abrash is happy, then John Carmack is happy.

If those two are happy, HN should be happy.

Maybe this Facebook thing won't be so bad after all.

incision 2 days ago 1 reply      
Perfect move on multiple levels.

In the same way I thought look to John Carmack for any signs of trouble [0], I can look at Abrash being signed as a sign that everything is fine.

On a related note, I always get a kick out of this Amazon review of Abrash's book by Carmack [1].

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7469414

1: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2TWZFSQZ4RYLJ

drivingmenuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great for Oculus.

Doesn't change a my feelings toward Facebook one bit. They could wake up from their drunken bender tomorrow, say "We bought what?" and Oculus would be dead beyond any hope of resurrection by Monday.

If it was anyone except Facebook, I would feel optimistic.

It's like Microsoft buying Apple. You know the first thing they would is burn that business to ground and dance gleefully in the ashes while their lawyers geared up to sue everyone in the world.

JabavuAdams 2 days ago 0 replies      
Squeeeeeeee! Ultimate social proof.

It was John Carmack who sold me on the Oculus Dev Kit 1, now this.

mjn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like William Gibson's comment about this article: https://twitter.com/GreatDismal/status/449650461881008128
comatose_kid 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am now waiting for the Zen of Oculus Programming.
kar1181 2 days ago 1 reply      
The thing about Abrash, is not only is he brilliant, when he writes about hugely complicated things, he does so in a way that makes the reader feel smarter too.

That is an amazing gift to have.

noise 2 days ago 1 reply      
That was a very nicely written piece and he had me going until this part:"We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform the platform to end all platforms"

The problem is that under FB, this will end up being the metafaceverse.com platform, that you can only access under their umbrella, just as with the current FB "platform". And you will be subject to their terms and conditions within their walled garden both as a user and a developer.

That's not the kind of platform the internet needs. This won't be another WWW but another AOL.

mcescalante 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great timing and should settle the community after the uproar about the FB acquisition this week.

It seems as though Valve has been fairly hush-hush about their VR ongoings throughout what I'll call "Oculus' rising", so I'm curious for more detail as to what went on internally at Valve with VR, and if Abrash joining Oculus means more about their VR efforts and future (i.e. is Valve done even trying to build something? Is some other partnership brewing between the two?)

h1karu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yea but isn't the idea of VR fundamentally flawed ? I mean I can imagine how presence feels like magic when you're just sitting still looking around, but is it really possible to move your avatar around without breaking presence ? I mean your body won't feel the centripetal force, nor the tactile sensations so it seems like any movement at all would break the illusion.. and if presence is broken then you might as well just be playing a FPS on a nice monitor.
netcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
The comments on this thread make me happy. Shows that the HN interest in Oculus and the Facebook FUD feelings are cooing from a genuine place, the same place that made so many peep kickstart Oculous in the first place: people want this to exist and be as cool as it promises to be.
cwilson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not only is this amazing news, but this is a PR master-stroke on the part of Occulus/Facebook.
dylanrw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Initially I was a bit perplexed/dismayed when Facebook purchased Oculus. The news that JC and MA are both now in the same company again? /me shuffles over to buy some FB...
tdicola 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I wonder what Valve is going to do. Maybe time to buy back the augmented reality tech they squandered by firing Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson?
timfrietas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Suddenly the recent announcement of a Seattle Oculus office makes perfect sense...
booop 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm excited about these two working together, but this now reminds of when Zynga hired many industry titans.
jksmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully everyone on HN knows who Michael Abrash is AND has a copy of "Zen of Assembly Language."
jfb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I initially read this as "Michael Arrington, Oculus Chief Scientist". That was an amusing double take.
aantix 2 days ago 0 replies      
On a side note, this is just fantastically written announcement. Abrash is a masterful storyteller.
hosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that answers the question on how serious Zuckerberg is about letting Oculus have their way.
higherpurpose 2 days ago 3 replies      
This shows even more than Valve should've done its own VR headset. Now they lost this guy.
lawl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just at the right time after the Facebook debacle.

What a coincidence.

z3phyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the beginning of the golden era again. I will cry.
yiedyie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Behold, HN was invaded by Oculus!
signa11 2 days ago 1 reply      
where is notch now ?
marcamillion 2 days ago 1 reply      
WOW....I can't remember when a blog post made me so excited about the future of tech.

In one fell-swoop, all the naysayers about the FB acquisition were proven wrong.

Love it!

We lost a customer. This is how we found out ramen.is
349 points by wickedcoolmatt  2 days ago   121 comments top 29
dredmorbius 2 days ago 6 replies      
So much this.

A few bits I've noticed over 25+ years in the industry:

Tell me what your product is. What it does, where it works, how it does it, what it requires. Is it a physical product (or is it shipped in one), an interactive application, a Web service, a programming language / tool?

Tell me what the fuck it is EVERY GODDAMNED TIME YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE PRODUCT. It doesn't have to be long or detailed, you can link to your detailed description in the communication. But your press releases, emails, Tweets, blog posts, marketing collateral, etc., are going to get passed around, word-of-mouthed, and/or pulled out of drawers (or browser history / searches) for weeks, months, and years to come. Make them work for you.

The Economist's practice of briefly introducing any individual, no matter how famous or obscure, is a wonderful practice of microcontent contextualization. "Using the Economist house style offers an elegant alternative, wherein virtually all people and organizations are identified explicitly, no matter how prominent. For example, you might see 'Google, a search giant', 'GE, an American conglomerate', or 'Tim Cook, boss of Apple'." http://redd.it/1x8yky

Tell me how to try it out. Preferably for 60-90 days (a 30 day cycle can go far too fast. I've been very, very impressed with New Relic's "use it for free, convert upmarket for additional features" model, and it's apparently worked well for them. For small accounts, their cost of sales is effectively nil (and for large accounts, COS is always a PITA). But for those large accounts, you've got a proven track record with the prospect, and they really know what they're getting.

Put your tech docs front and center. As a technical lead / director, my questions are "how the fuck do I make this thing work", and if you can't tell me

It's been observed many times that those who have the best appreciation for how a product works are those who use it directly, and secondly, those who either service it or support those using it. John Sealy Brown's The Social Life of Information addresses this with both Xerox copier repairmen and support staff. Use this to your advantage two ways: let these people share and collaborate, even if informally For the repairmen, this was a morning coffee break turned out to be a hugely valuable cross-training and troubleshooting feature. For phone support, after an "expert system" and changes in technology separating phone reps from technicians, researchers noted two reps who consistently provided good advice: one was a veteran from the earlier stage, the other a recent hire who sat across from the other and learned from her. Similarly, user support groups (mailing lists, Web forums, Usenet groups), in which users interact and share knowledge with one another directly (Hacker News would be an instance) are often (though not always) far more useful than direct tech support.

Provide clear pricing information. This has been noted from Jacob Nielsen on forward as the information people are most interested in.

Make damned sure that whatever process or workflow you've created online works, and for as many possible end-user environments as possible. Keeping interfaces as simple and legible as possible is a huge bonus.

Remove distractions from your transactional webpages. Once someone's homed in on a product, focus on that, though you may mention alternatives or (truly useful) related products. Every additional piece of information on the screen is an opportunity to confuse and lose the sale. I've been restyling many websites simply for my own use (1000+), and simply removing distracting elements produces a far more productive environment.

Ensure your pages are legible. Backgrounds should be light, foregrounds light (and where, with extreme reluctance, you invert these, separation should be clear). DO NOT SCALE FONTS IN PX. On far, far too many devices this renders as unreadable, particularly from older (e.g., more senior w/in the organization) readers. Grey-on-grey is just cause to fire whomever suggested or required it. See ContrastRebellion: http://www.contrastrebellion.com/

Don't organize your website according to internal corporate structures. Your website is an outward facing tool, and should address the needs of users, not of internal departments. Lenovo's laptop site organization would be highly typical of this: I want a Linux-capable, large-display, full-keyboard, trackpoint device. The rest I generally don't give a shit about, and its product line confuses me every fucking goddamned time I try to buy something there (usually every 2-3 years). I'm not a sufficiently frequent customer that I keep up with every last change, but I've spent thousands of dollars on IBM/Lenovo products, as an individual (hundreds of thousands to millions as an enterprise customer).

And of course: test all of this, don't simply take my word for it. But yes, I've walked from far, far, far too many product pages, from free software projects to Fortune 10 companies to edgy app devs.

Life's too fucking short for that shit.

RyanZAG 2 days ago 14 replies      
It's pretty common on a lot of recent startup landing pages. Great looking design, nice little touches like animation - but very little detail on how the product actually works. The assumption is that someone curious is going to sign up to find out. Lots of people won't do this and will just bounce. I think every landing page should try to answer these questions:

  What is your product?  Why would I use your product?  How does your product work?  What does your product cost?     ("Still working on it" is fine, but say so)  What countries are you available in?

adrianhoward 2 days ago 1 reply      
Everybody seems to be missing the biggest lesson from this. No matter how obvious you think the problems with the OPs site was you should...



Because if those problems were obvious to the OP - they would have fixed them. By definition. I guarantee that everybody here has there own blind spots with there own application or service.

I've been doing usability tests for nearly twenty years now - and the number of times we've found nothing that can be improved can be counted on approximately no hands.

Use online services like peek (there are many, many others too). Do them yourselves. Do them regularly. If I could pick only one thing to help folk improve their product - usability testing would be it. Even above customer interviewing. Nothing beats watching your customers try and fail to use your product.

Here's three books to get you started:

* Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems, Steve Krug - Does exactly what it says on the tin. Short sharp guide to getting you started.

* Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, Jeffrey Rubin & Dana Chisnell - The last book but in much more depth. The first edition of this was my bible when I started doing usability testing.

* Remote Research, Nate Bolt & Tony Tulathimutte - A great guide to how to approach getting the most out of remote usability testing services like peek. The tools are a few years out of date now. The advice isn't.

Seriously. If you're not already doing usability tests go spend an hour or two reading 'Rocket Surgery Made Easy' and then go test your product with some actual human beings. You'll thank me.

JanezStupar 2 days ago 3 replies      
I like how a guy records a video in which he talks about how he has no idea what they are about.

Then they write a blog post about it. Submit it to HN, get to the front page, get lots of potential customers...

And there is still no information on their site about who they are and how it works...

rowyourboat 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I failed to explain the benefits Ramen can provide."

No, I think those came across quite clearly. He wants to know how it works, i.e. what is required of him, and what will the process of getting funded look like. That's a difference.

webwright 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you do this, it's best to do it in clusters of 5-10 testers in your target demographic and try to identify patterns. It's dangerous to say "UserX is confused, so all of our users must be confused." No matter how perfect your design, it will be confusing/frustrating for someone.
jaredandrews 2 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting comment on the bottom of the article:

  This random user is a prick.  1. Why didnt he scroll to the bottom of the page? I noticed an about us link in the footer.  2. When Im curious about companies, I look at their blogs. Sometimes they use a blog CMS system. Why didnt this guy check the links in the header, like the link to your blog?  3. This guy has a baby babbling in the background. Maybe he was distracted?
We do a lot of user testing at work and it has really opened my eyes. This sort of attitude really bums me out though. You can sit around all day and complain about customer incompetence. Meanwhile they are out using a different app/product and you still aren't making any money/conversions.

jrochkind1 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had not known about the Peek service, that's pretty awesome.

Does anyone know of anything like that, but that's _not_ random, where I could actually send volunteers from my current users to my sight, and have their clicks and voice recorded and sent to me? Is there such a business that works well at a reasonable price?

Malarkey73 2 days ago 1 reply      
Jeez. That is like sooooo many modern websites.

What is this site? What is thingumajig.io? Its a webby thingumajig? Sign up? Sign up for what? Oh it's a website for web something.

nice font.

bpodgursky 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's also odd that there's no "browse all projects" or "find projects to back" option, only a few hand-curated options. No discovery options at all.
joshvm 2 days ago 1 reply      
The information may be there, but if the user has to scroll to see it then that's poor UX design. I did wonder why he didn't scroll to the bottom, but still "About Us" doesn't scream "how the service works" to me. And indeed, if you click on the link you get taken to a page of smiling founders.

I got the impression that the designers were trying to be clever by integrating the tutorial into an actual project page - and going to the Ramen project explains a lot about the process. However, that's intuition from using the web a lot, not a logical step. It's the same kind of intuition that gamers have when crawling a dungeon and you know that taking the short route will almost certainly be a Bad Idea.

This backfires in another way: I also wonder if there are only four projects on the site? Can I search for more? It makes me think that the projects there are just dummy pages to demonstrate how the site works.

tdicola 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are user videos from Peek supposed to be public? I would be a little creeped out if I was the random user from this study and suddenly found my video plastered in a blog post.
mauricio-OH 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post but it sounds a lot like trying to sell that peek service. Would've been great to see what actions were taken to improve the site rather than wait to the new design launch.
rurban 2 days ago 3 replies      
Come on, this guy is not everything. The first link I clicked was at the bottom left: Project which brought me to https://ramen.is/projects/ramen which explains everything in detail this guy did not find and searched for.Overall, looks a fancy new kickstarter site. I care about projects not kickstarter per se, so I like the idea how the projects are presented in ramen.
harrystone 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't do web design but that Peek thing just looks brutal to me. It's probably a good tool though, I'd just hate to have it pointed at my work.
uptown 1 day ago 0 replies      
They've got three well known investors. How'd one of them not catch this problem?
wickedcoolmatt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hey y'all thanks so much for the support!

UserTesting (the folks behind Peek) shot us over a promo code to get the first 100 of you to the front of the line if you want to give it a whirl: ramenreader

fallinghawks 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's this one link at the very bottom of the page, which the Peek user kept missing, and would be the first one I would go to if I couldn't find what I was looking for: Product/Project Page. That appears to be the page that would have answered many of his questions and kept him as a customer. That should totally be at the top of the page.

However, even that's a little confusing because it is itself a project -- so a user might wonder what the heck they are looking at, site info or some other project?

htk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post, the video is as simple as is enlightening.

What I like the most about it is that the user is genuinely interested in the service. But he acts natural and realizes he doesn't see an easy way to get more info on it.

He could try to read the blog, or search for small print, but that's not what the average user is going to do.

I'm going to try Peek soon!

carrotleads 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well their main problem was they had a 2 sided market and catered to both half heartedly.

Dropbox caters to a single market and the message is more simple for them.

A "How it works" with subsection for both target market would help.

multiple sided products always have trouble selling effective messages and would like to see examples if you guys know of any.

I am doing a redesign of my site http://carrotleads.com on this topic. Was targeted at companies earlier and now I will have trouble converting network'rs. I can see the problem, but solutions need more deep thought. Working on it.

Submitted site to Peek. Want to see how it turns out.

nedwin 2 days ago 0 replies      
While you're getting all this traffic you should definitely put a couple of calls to action to check out your product.

Even just linking the word "Ramen" in the blog post would be a great start to get more conversions happening.

lingben 2 days ago 1 reply      
sorry for the tangent but I remember seeing a usability site where you could get usability testing for your site by 'pay it forward' by taking other sites for a test drive

anyone know what I'm referring to?


arnklint 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another solution to _this_ problem might be to get your site reviewed by a conversion specialist or using some sort of heuristic review. In many cases my experience is that a combination of more qualitative methods such as user testing combined and heuristic evaluations and heatmaps and with Google Analytics solves _most_ of the issues you have with your site.
borski 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just got our peek for https://www.tinfoilsecurity.com

It was surprisingly good! No negative feedback, and only positive feedback, though the tester wasn't our target market.

jusben1369 1 day ago 0 replies      
You lost a prospect not a customer. Big difference.
beejiu 2 days ago 1 reply      
The 5 W's is something taught to all school kids at an early age -- who, what, where, when, why (and sometimes, how). Your tagline should address all of these in one simple sentence.
Siecje 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where do the testers for peek come from if it is free?
throwaway112233 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a website where I can put a website and watch people's reactions?

....well, I have an idea what kind of websites I will try to submit...

edem 2 days ago 2 replies      
I LOVE this post. I actually did not read it since it contained something which I miss in every other blog: a TL;DR section. +1!!!
I am a successful software dev but I have a serious drinking problem
314 points by user249  3 days ago   223 comments top 65
Snail_Commando 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know if you'll see this, but I hope you do.

I've struggled with addiction and I've made decisions that I'm ashamed of and disgusted with. There was a period of my life when I was also hopeless. I thought that I had lost everything. In a sense, it was true. (Rather, I destroyed most of what I had and subsequently lost the remaining pieces.)

Despite all of that, it does get better. It took me far too long to accept that.

The fact that you are posting here tells me that on some level you are ready to get better. Recognition of the problem begets hope.

Maintaining an attitude of "it doesn't get better" turns out to be a recursive function. Since lives are finite, the base case turns out to be total self-destruction.

At each time step, each recursive call, sustained hopelessness only begets more hopelessness.

Not only do the effects of addiction and hopelessness compound, but you get a first row seat. You watch the function expand, you see every call. You literally destroy yourself in a slow, humiliating, dangerous, and deliberate fashion.

A friend of mine liked to quote a man named Albert J. LaChance, he wrote: "Addiction is a slow form of suicide- suicide on the installment plan."

Whichever metaphor you choose, one thing is clear: changing your attitude is a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for recovery.

You are obviously intelligent, so it should go without saying, there is no avoiding the fact a chemical addiction is a uniquely difficult problem to solve. Fortunately, it is a problem that a great deal of science is expended upon. And there are many ways to receive medical treatment.

Tedious self-help meetings and hollow platitudes are NO substitute for scientifically validated medical treatment. In your case, it is essential that you have medical intervention while you detox.

(Self-help is very helpful to some, and it does have a reported effectiveness of (last I heard) 10 - 50% (surely, a study carried out with utmost statistical rigor!)

Self-help meetings aren't right for me, but I will vouch for their occasional effectiveness.

Should you choose to follow the self-help branch of your recovery timeline, be aware that the self-help phase comes after the detox branch. All future recovery branches of your recovery timeline form after the medical detox node.)

You need medicine and science right now!

Alcohol withdrawal can kill late stage addicts. You wrote six months ago that you attempted a cold turkey solo-detox and experienced DTs. Those suck. They are also a sign that you need to be extra cautious in your recovery.

When you go to detox, go to a licensed recovery center where a doctor can monitor you. Usually this means a hospital equipped with mental health facilities. An ER will suffice if you are out of other options or are having seizures. You can also go to a rehabilitation center (with a competent medical staff)! The last option might start your detox and then segue into a 28 day (or longer) program.

Alcohol is perhaps the most dangerous drug to detox from. (Perhaps surprising to some, you won't die from heroin withdrawals.)

You can (and should) get medical leave from your employer for treatment. I'm fairly certain it's illegal for them to deny that. (Since you are a competent developer, I'm assuming you work at a company with benefits.)

If you do not have health insurance, please contact your local medicaid office.

Please do this. For your the mother of your child, for your kids. For the person in the future who you will come across who needs help with their addiction. But most of all, for you.


This last part is my favorite aspect of hacker news. I get to tell someone that they are wrong.

I used to have your attitude. I even attempted suicide. By the grace of faulty nylon, I'm still here.

"It doesn't get better." <- That quote is factually incorrect. I'm just one instance of its disproof.

Now, to break Hacker News guidelines with extreme prejudice:


If you don't post an email in your profile in the next few hours so that I can talk to you. Via email, skype, phone, whatever. I will reply to my comment with an email address so that you can contact me when you are ready to talk and/or seek treatment.

philiphodgen 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is an astonishing variety of comments here. Frankly this is not a vi vs emacs thread.

I wish commenters here would understand that the OP's glide path is currently aimed at one of two outcomes: insanity or death.

If the OP is reading the thread (and I would guess he is not) I would implore him to ignore all of the comments except those from people who have had up-front and personal experience with the damage from alcoholism.

A flippant comment -- just so you can look clever on HN -- may condemn the OP to a dismal fate. Cut it out.

OP, seek the seemingly harder way. It will turn out to be the softer, easier way. This means a new way of living (on the one hand) or a slow painful death on the other. Let the others here on HN plait their shit. You must either change or die.

Disclaimer: Anecdotal personal experience sample size for this topic is > 1.

seanccox 3 days ago 3 replies      
Have you sought help? Alcohol is an addictive chemical, and if you have a dependency, you don't have to overcome it alone.

If, on the other hand, you are like me an you simply drink too much, I can share how I got the situation under control.

First, I threw out a lot of the liquor in the house (I kept the good whiskey that I was already saving for a special occasion). Then, I stopped going out to bars as often and, to a certain extent, avoided people I typically drank with or found ways to socialize without being around alcohol. I also took up yoga in the mornings. I like yoga, but if I drink the night before, I won't feel like waking up for it. So, I remind myself before I go out to a pub or meet friends that if I drink, I'm screwing up my routine.

That combination has helped, and it's gotten me to a place where I can go out on a Saturday night, get a nice buzz going with three or four beers over several hours, without reaching that 'fuck it' moment where I start doing shots and smoking cigarettes till dawn.

subversively 3 days ago 3 replies      
As another poster mentioned, addiction is about getting away from some kind of unbearable inner pain. I'll share mine, what I did to get deaden it, and how I finally healed it. I'm 31 now, have a wife, exciting job, close friends, and most of all, I'm happy.

My pain comes form severe bullying; I got beaten up literally every day as a child for three years. After that, I finally got transferred to another school, but the damage was done.

I used video games, porn and promiscuity to deaden the pain. That distracted me from starting a career, and I ended up living on the street for six months.

I tried pretty much everything to heal myself.

* What did not work *

- Religion; God did absolutely nothing to my pain away. Religious counselors were very judgmental and made me feel worse, and their advice just caused new problems.- Cults; They had interesting teachings that were partially very entertaining, but Ashtar Sharan had nothing but a Galactic shrug to offer my very real suffering (I would have been prepared to actually believe in Ashty had he actually helped me, but it was clear that he did not)- Meditation; It helped, but only temporarily. When I missed my meditation session the pain came right back, and I grew distant from the world.- Yoga; Like meditation, it did help, but it took such great lifestyle changes I just didn't feel like me any more. I'm a child of the West, and Yoga is radically different.- Sex; obviously, sleeping around is a great distraction and can be genuinely fun, but when it's addictive it hurts in the end and you draw other people into your drama.- Counseling; Wallowing in my pain with a guy who think everything is a fascinating freak show made things much worse.

* What worked partially

- Cannabis; Smoking weed actually worked better than meditation to give me temporary relief. It also made me confused when used heavily.- New Age; There is a lot of partial truth floating around, if you avoid the obvious marketing ploys. "Think And Grow Rich" is pretty good, and so is "The Science of getting Rich". Basically, the idea is to sit down and think about stuff you want in detail. It has a similar calming effect to meditation, and can lead to actual creative problem solving. It did not, however, significantly heal my hardest pain points. But the idea of "you can reach your goals" kept my trying.- Pressure point tapping; EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is pretty good, it can stimulate and permanently remove some trauma. It has its limits though, and I felt like an neurotic idiot tapping my wrists all the time.

* What really worked

- Philosophy; Getting a genuine core philosophy and actively deciding my values gave me a lot of strength.- Openness; being extremely honest about my shortcomings with deserving people lead to a form of intimacy that makes the trauma not seem so bad any more.- "Taking the pain"; This is not the same as sucking it up. It is feeling like crap, and accepting that I am feeling like crap right now, without suppressing it. Practicing this takes the "fear of the fear" away. This is probably the real benefit of meditation when done properly, but I didn't need to sit on a cushion to do that.- Self-acceptance; This one is the kicker. I no longer slapped my wrist for slacking on the job, or being not as nice as I could be. Paradoxically, this lead to me not slacking on the job, and being nicer. It also helped find my niche, where my shortcomings don't matter.- Dimethyltryptamine (DMT); An illegal psychedelic drug, it has been used as indigenous medicine for centuries. This is the only way I have been able to permanently release my worst and oldest pain points. I stopped smoking spontaneously after a couple of trips, and have noticed a sharp raise in my productivity and overall wellbeing.

Obviously, this is just my story, but I hope that some points might help you, or someone else.

mattm 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have struggled with porn at times and have done a lot of research on addictions. I also have a couple friends who are alcoholics. IMO, Gabor Mate has been the best resource I have found on understanding addictions. His theory is that addictions start in childhood due to some kind of constant, ongoing stress. It could be something like abusive parents or severe bullying. When we find something that temporarily relieves the stress, our body latches on to it and doesn't want to let go. Personally, I've found that understanding addiction and the addictive cycle has helped me a lot. From meditation, I've also become much more aware of my body sensations and understanding the danger periods when I am getting stressed.

After I did a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, I put together https://www.programmingspiritually.com to try to help other developers that face some of the same issues. Email me if you're interested and I'll sign you up for the course for free.

mkhattab 3 days ago 9 replies      
I'm an escapist. Whether it's movies, youtube, video games, literally anything that is unproductive, I'll spend an inordinate time doing. Luckily, I don't drink or do any drugs, but I might as well since I'm pissing my life away. It is as if I'm stuck in neutral. However, I do make just enough money to get by.

The odd thing is that I can't pinpoint why I'm this way. It wasn't always like this. I guess reason doesn't matter at this point.

Anyway, I don't think my post adds anything useful to this discussion, but good luck.

forgottenpaswrd 3 days ago 2 replies      
Man, first thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are not the first human to become addicted, nor will be the only one. There are people out there that have been in a worse situation than you and that have gone out of addictions.

You should find those people, meet them and get out of drinking. Over years you made a path that you have to undo. This will take years, like it took you to create it.

Your wife and kids did the right thing: to stop supporting your addiction. It is time for you to take steps.

I have studied a lot of psychology but I can't help you because it would be like trying to explain quantum physics before learning basic math. But there is people out there that really know what steps you could take for getting out and doing great things with your life.

shawnee_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
The good news is that it's not a hopeless cause, even though it might seem that way. I used to think that mine was.. totally genetic and thus incurable; that I was doomed to the same death-by-alcohol fate as many in my biological family, so why bother?

The only people who can understand are those who've been through it and found a way to put the brakes on. It's worth testing out.. my test found the world a whole lot better with the brakes fully engaged at a complete stop, so that's where I've been for a while now.

There are people out there -- young and old, men and women, wealthy and poor, god freaks and atheists alike who've done it. Find them, listen with an open mind and among them there will surely be someone you can relate to who can help you learn about what worked for them.

zealon 3 days ago 3 replies      
Test for ADD/ADHD. Seriously.

Many people with ADD/ADHD end up in the IT business. Drinking and drug problems, nicotine and caffeine addiction, high-risk behaviours and family issues are very common among ADD/ADHD people.

The reason behind this: low dopamine and norepinefrine levels in the ADD/ADHD brain. Those low levels create a very high reward threshold, so people with ADD/ADHD tend to unconsciously seek for strong or risky stimulus.


terranstyler 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I'm impressed some of you guys share information about your personal weaknesses. AFAIK this is one of the big steps towards dealing with your problem, so congratulations already.

Also, FWIW, my wife is a behavioral therapist and already treated a number of addicted people. She says you learn this kind of "bad" behaviors if, given a problem, they are the "only" or "most successful" behaviors you know and you repeat them for a long time.

Treatment then is to identify

- why you think it's the only behavior you know or the most appropriate

- what your definition of a "successful behavior" is

- what are other appropriate behaviors

- how to deal with situations in which your "bad behavior" usually occurs and how to substitute the bad by one of the good ones.

Disclaimer: I have no psychological background whatsoever, this is just my view on the things.

goatforce5 3 days ago 0 replies      
Craig Ferguson did a good piece about his alcoholism, a year or two that went missing from his life, 15 years of being sober, etc.

It's really good, and there might be something in it for you:


middle334 3 days ago 0 replies      
Throwaway account here.

I was a "high functioning" alcoholic; 35 years in the software business, and I've worked for companies I know you've heard of, and you've almost certainly used my products. 15 years ago I was drinking 750ml of liquor a day. Lost a few jobs, was living in filth, and was about to be homeless.

Long story made short, I got into detox and then AA, changed pretty much everything in my life that wasn't working and haven't had a drink since. First couple years were intense, and I still go to AA meetings every week. It's a maintenance thing. I know I can't drink again.

It can get better, but you can't do it yourself. If you're a heavy drinker, get medical help in the first few days because withdrawal can kill you. I think you'll find your employer amazingly helpful and supportive.

[I'm extremely skeptical of solutions that involve other substances. I guess if it works, it works, but I'm not going to get much out of talking to you about it.]

stef25 3 days ago 0 replies      
151 days ago you said you'd been clean for a year and a half - what happened?
madaxe_again 3 days ago 0 replies      
You're not alone. I live in a world of perpetual insane stress, and continuously self medicate through the not-so-winning triangle of cigarettes, coffee, and weed, in quantities that'd make a mobster blush. I've had my fair share of victory, and I feel more than my fair share of loss, but don't we all.

I've tried stopping my various vices, but without treating the stimulus loop, it's nigh on impossible. When I step off the grid and go travelling for a month... I suddenly no longer feel the need for any of them. This is a huge relief to me, as it means I realise that this behaviour isn't something endemic to myself, rather a habituation as a result of the feedback loop I allowed to grow.

Step out. Do something totally different. My promise to myself that I will do this, and soon, is the only thing keeping me remotely sane. At the very least, hit the road for a month and see somewhere new, meet someone new, and see if you're the same person. You might be surprised.

ciokan 3 days ago 2 replies      
My father died of alcoholism and whatever we said to him or do wouldn't change a thing in his mind. That's a very strong addiction and he didn't stop even when doctors told him he's in terminal phase. I believe the change has to come from inside of you and you must identify where it all started and what was it's trigger and treat that first.

I have nicotine issues but I stopped smoking in favor of e-cigs. Nicotine is not that bad, the cigs are killing you not nicotine itself.

I also find doing sport to change my mentality a lot. You start looking different, you value yourself more when your body changes and you won't want to go back. Give it a try. Good luck to you!

Jxnathan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just like you -- a developer with an addiction. But my addiction is different... and illegal. I'm not motivated unless I'm high on fake aka K2. If you haven't heard of 'fake', it's basically a really strong marijuana with research chemical additives.

Since gas stations started selling it 3 years ago, I became addicted and when they were banned from selling it I had to find more. I found it online and have been ordering it every since. I leave work early sometimes so I can go smoke it. The only downside I've noticed, is that I'm less sociable (in person) because of how I look when I'm high (red eyes, droopy eyelids) and it makes me tired extremely fast. Sometimes I will wake up at my computer desk wondering when I fell asleep or how long I've been out. I'm sure it's probably not good on my lungs either, but I smoke cigarettes so I'm used to knowing I'm harming my body internally. I just love the way it makes me feel, almost like a reward. I use it as an award for coding something beautiful. "Oh that code actually worked?! Time to smoke."

I hope we both find help. We need it.

bobsgame 3 days ago 1 reply      
I struggle with nicotine, caffeine, and porn. I take Chantix and run at the gym which in combination helps a great deal, but I still relapse now and then on the nicotine. The others I seem to have overcome completely. I had to change my life and I also found spirituality, something I had denied due to insecurity and unwillingness to accept others. I wish you luck.
eob 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey man, hang in there.

Everyone in this thread has different advice from different experiences. Different things work for different people. Here's my advice: tell your friends to hold you accountable, ask them if you can call or text them when you're feeling vulnerable. Hell, move in with a friend if you're currently living alone. If you don't have anyone like that in your life, join a group like AA.

Humans can be solitary creatures if we let ourselves, and when solitary the world looks very different. Surround yourself with positive relationships and open yourself to them so they can help hold you up.

DonGateley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have 16 years sober after ending homeless and literally in the gutter (no millions passed through my hands but it was still a lot.) I had been fighting with it for 20 years watching everything and everyone slip away as you have. This is better than that.

Yes, it was AA that supported me through it. No, I am not religious now and wasn't then. I was just willing to suspend disbelief long enough to try something. I am at a loss to explain why it worked but that doesn't matter.

Despite what many people think AA requires no faith or belief of any kind beyond acceptance of the fact of your situation.

Many read "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity" as a statement of belief in a spiritual solution. It is not that at all, it is merely a hypothetical that is pretty hard to deny on the face of it. Bill and Bob were really, really smart.

Take that hypothetical, suspend disbelief, do the recommended prayer and meditation with the caveat "I don't know if this has any real meaning but, whatever" if you need that and see what happens. That's what I did. I don't question the mystery of my recovery I just marvel at it. You can choose your eventual spiritual path or none at all later in the game but you have to have a game left to play to do that.

In summary, believe nothing but try anything.

facepalm 3 days ago 1 reply      
So sorry to hear that. I hope you can still overcome it.

My theory is that addiction is best "cured" by replacing it with something better. That could be doing more satisfying things in your life, but perhaps also simply a less destructive addiction, like playing video games.

I think if you make it into a willpower challenge you are probably doomed to fail, in fact it might make it worse because you'll feel like a bad person for presumably being "weak" (having no willpower). I think modern understanding is that for willpower challenges it is better to arrange things in such a way that the challenge becomes easy (like having no alcohol at home), rather than making it a contest of iron will.

I really enjoyed the books on Willpower by Kelly McGonigal and and by Roy F Baumeister. I suppose just reading such books won't cure an addiction, but perhaps they could be of interest to you.

I'm sorry, it's easy to talk since I never had a severe issue like that. But I had a lot of therapy - what always stuck most were the points when I learned to accept myself.

hanula 3 days ago 0 replies      
First of all, it's great that you are sharing this publicly. It's a big first step to recovery. I can't tell you much as I'm only 31 and I enjoy alcohol, sometimes in larger doses but it's part of my culture and local way of life.

I can only tell you that beating the thing called "alcoholism" is to decide to stop drinking. That's it. My father after many years did it, one day, just like that. No one belived him. He's over 60 now and enjoys alcohol in very normal way. My friend, also 31, quit drinking completely 3-4 years ago and he was a person who drunk unbelievable amounts, even to me, just crazy. Now because of health problems he's 100% sober and he's fine! He's happy and can enjoy everything he was doing before.

So. People will tell you that it is a disease, that you are sick and you won't be able to quit on your own.. Wrong. It's only about you, your decision, your life. Take care and ask yourself some hard questions. Self-awareness and self-acceptance is the key.

ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of good options posted here, lots of good insights.

I'd like to see more discussion about the enzymes needed to metabolize alcohol. AFAIK, it's very much a genetic matter: some people (or, of note, peoples) just lack the genes needed to process it in a manageable manner, tend to feel the effects with greater intensity than others, and thus find it much faster to go too far and harder to get out of that state and not go back. Those who have it can enjoy a few without further compulsions; those who don't dare not a drop. All this, of course, is poorly expressed and based on fragments I've gleaned. Anyone have a better analysis, and perhaps a way to test for this genetic predisposition to alcohol tolerance or lack thereof?

toerojas 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think we've all been at a place where we feel that we're using something a little more than we should. Please remember that addiction is a behavior. When you talk with a psychotherapist and get real professional medical help, which you absolutely should, they will help you identify the triggers that cause you to drink. Maybe you're stressed and drinking allows you to relax. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and drinking lets you feel in control. Maybe your parents were alcoholics (mine were) and your drinking fills a void. Whatever it is, there's a real reason for your drinking and uncovering that reason is the key to your sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs have a high drop out rate (about 50% within the first 90 days) and are not backed by science, so you should talk with an addiction medicine doctor first (and go through an appropriate detox program).

That said, what makes 12 step programs effective is the support community you build in them, so find some people you feel safe talking with and who you can call anytime. In fact, find as many of them as you can. You have ~200 people on HN who took the time to comment, so there's a start.

Dale1 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who likes a smoke (Weed & Cigarettes) and is currently trying to lead a healthier life I feel your pain buddy!

Have you ever tried just cutting down? Even just a little bit? I don't believe in this "Just stop and never drink again" rubbish I think it has to be done in baby steps.

Anyway, hope you're okay and whatever you do don't go the religion route. It's a dangerous path to tread especially with the types who run these things.

fsloth 3 days ago 0 replies      
All my support. I lost my mother recently to alcoholism.

You have identified your problem. You can still recover, but get some external help!

You are probably aware that there is a very high risk that unless you get control of your habit you will die of it. Massive drinkers can develop memory issues - brain will develop lesions, short term memory will become poor. Not so good professionally. There are several high-risk medical complications that are likely. You might develop a liver cirrhosis. I hear this is extremely painful. You might get cancer. Also, painful.

Seriously, terminal alcoholism is something you really, really want to avoid. My mother spent the last month of her life psychotic in a hospital bed and before that she basically lost all control of her bowels. Reading had been one of the joys of her life but her memory became so poor that in the last years she could not really follow books (she did crosswords, though).

It's just not that you feel shit for drinking, the drink will turn you into a living husk in the long term. You will probably need psychiatric as well as physical treament. Get help. Any help.

annasaru 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's very hard to deal with such an issue all by yourself. Hope you get therapy or coaching , something to ease your burden . It can definitively get better with time. Drinking is notoriously hard to shake off because it is sanctioned in so many situations for adults. I know this sounds crazy , but maybe join a group ( Art of Living, Hare Krishna, Sai) where you are forced to be constantly surrounded by people. These are safe ways of delivering a mental jolt while being surrounded by empathetic folks.I don't subscribe to them , but suggest use them as a tool and it's not hard to shake them once you are cured) . OR volunteer somewhere in a group that takes your mind off. Sorry I seem to be hawking Indian spirituality - but these groups that I mentioned readily accept anyone - and make them feel at home. Am sure other ethnic communities in the USA also offer similar.. All I am saying is a mental jolt, and gentle empathetic friends and family can cure , last but not least, a qualified therapist.

Being part of a group will accelerate your recovery , drain your negativity and heal. Talk is cheap so I will stop here.

OfferSavvy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have been sober for 6.5 years. I was a blackout drinker, and then ventured into narcotics. I thought that it all used to be fun. I did it to fit in, find acceptance, feel a part of. But at some point that changed for me. Using was no longer fun at all, it was more like work. I never felt "just right" but rather was always chasing the dragon. I got to that place of hopeless despair. Its a place not unlike where Dante passed in the Inferno with the sign that reads "Abandon Hope all Ye who enter here". Everyday I would wake up in fear, and with guilt shame and remorse. When I wasn't using, I was thinking about it, planning how I was going to get it next, imagining what it would be like- how it would "Be Different this Time". Always the same torment and insanity. At that point, i would use to feel numb.. to not feel anything at all. I didn't want to think about myself, or what I was doing. I wanted to just escape and not feel.

I turned 21 in rehab, in po-dunk Rock Creek, OH. Only after a few weeks clean, and the bitter irony of where I was in life, did I have that "moment of clarity" and have a little bit of willingness to accept that I was powerless over alcohol, and my life had become unmanageable. AA does not have a monopoly on recovery, but it has worked for me. We suffer from a spiritual malady, and our recovery is contingent upon a daily reprieve. "what am i doing today for my recovery?" I think you are posting this because you need to know, and you need to hear that everything will be ok. There is hope, I promise that you are NOT Condemned to live with active addiction. Know that you are going down a path that is not unique, so many before you, who have done worse things, and lost more things, and suffered longer have gone been in your shoes. And for them too, there is way to beat this disease. Anonymity is the greatest form of Humility. We are just people helping people, from one addict to another, I can empathize with you, I know how you feel, I have felt those pains before. Call an AA central office near where you live, send me a message if you need help

motters 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's surprising because at least in my case I discovered when I was a teenager that boozing and coding don't mix. Even small amounts of alcohol make it hard for me to concentrate on any amount of programming, and so that is why I rarely consume it. I just like coding more than boozing.
cookerware 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was also a software developer, not as successful but was living in a nice flat in downtown, but I ended up getting fired a few times within the year.

The first time it was smoking heroin and cocaine. Lasted about 2 months. I used to do it at work too because I was addicted. Shortly after getting fired, I smoked crystal meth to get through the heroin withdrawl. This is how scary heroin is, I was addicted after the second time I picked up. With the help of a marijuana dealer, I got clean after he cut off my heroin dealer. I'd call like crazy but he would no longer sell it.

I still remember laying on my bed on my 25th birthday, withdrawing from heroin, thinking how seriously I fucked up.It took a few months of feeling complete apathy until I began to improve. However, I still relied on tobacco and weed to get through the hard stuff.

Few more months later I found another job, higher paying and less stressful. However, I began drinking this time. Half a bottle of vodka everyday after work and smoking weed before and after work. I'd come over with a hangover everyday and I eventually couldn't keep this up for long.

Fast forward to now, I'm totally clean from any substance. I have absolutely zero fucking desire to repeat what has been a complete wreckage of my financial savings, losing my flat, and a waste of time.

What does worry me is the health effect it might have, especially the street drugs I took during this short period of time on top of the weed and alcohol. I'm alright now but I still can't wash myself of the guilt and the regret. However, it keeps me well away from it.

Looking on to the future, I am willing to be successful, and I realized that I can't do it with dependence on drugs and alcohol. I simply couldn't allow it to get in my way.

otto12 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope it does get better for you

My mother died when I was in my early 20s after years of addiction to alcohol.

She had her ups too, which made it hard for all of us to see everything fall apart again and again.

Until there was no coming back.

No AA, family support and interventions unfortunately ever helped her long term.

I hope you will find some reason to quit, even if it's just knowing that you can get your kids back - even if it takes many years.

It took me many years to "forgive" my parents (they died within 6 months of each other), realising there was no forgiving needed - they had their struggle and unfortunately failed.

Still saddens me that my own kids have will never know their grandparents.

I hope you will live to enjoy your grandchildren.

bargl 2 days ago 0 replies      
OK so I'm just going to put this link out there. I can't do a write up like his but what he said moved me to make some changes in my life. It was a fresh perspective on how to beat some of my own failings through successful habits. Anyway. here ya go. http://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/comments/1q96b5/i_jus...
zafka 2 days ago 0 replies      
All I can tell you is that It really can get quite good after you stop drinking. Not always right away, and of course, not all the time. But I really am grateful that I am able to enjoy life as much as I do. While I regret my time as a derelict, I think I might have needed that to convince myself to stay stopped now that I have quit. ( for quite a while now)
madamepsychosis 3 days ago 2 replies      
Try Alan Carr's "Easy Way To Stop Drinking". Addiction perpetuates itself partly through false beliefs, this book goes through and debunks all of them. I used his guide to quit smoking, and it was really helpful.
venomsnake 3 days ago 0 replies      
There were examples in Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit about people that have managed to turn their life around. Probably it is worth taking a look at.

Also - as a person that has struggled with (thankfully) only weight - there are no silver bullets.

paraiuspau 3 days ago 1 reply      
TL;DR - Seek counselling to drill down into the causes for this behaviour.

I had a drinking problem for 10 years, I am/was a successful systems engineer. I think I know how you feel.. Do you maybe find that you are living a life which doesn't belong to you? Or put another way, are you just "spinning"? For me, I would go on enormous binges of drink and drugs for 3 days, then abstain for 2 weeks or so. I fixed it by "pressing play" on my life again, which involved selling my house, and going on an adventure in another land. Ended up doing the same job, but my environment was so different, new language, culture, etc.. I stuck with counselling through this time and found a keen sense of introspection. Ultimately, I drilled down to the real problems that were manifesting the symptoms such as drinking, junk food, drugs, excess pr0n, etc... they were all methods to regain "control" over a situation I felt powerless over. Ironic, really, as with drink and drugs we actually relinquish our control.

Not sure if this post is going to help you, as indeed everyone's situation is personal to them, but the common factors persist with such self-abuse situations.


mitko 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fwiw, I'd like to share some the way I approached alcohol, after going through some times where I drank more beer than water.

Now, I still drink from time to time, but it is easier for me to decide not to drink in a given situation.


Stronico 2 days ago 0 replies      
After reading a lot of the comments I think it would be useful to create a distinction between a drinking problem (loosely defined as someone drinks to much, has negative consequences, etc) and addiction (loosely define as strong, life threatening withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings).

I've heard addiction defined as a "Confusion of your survival instincts" caused by prolonged exposure to a drug which seems to be an adequate and accurate description of addiction.

alex_hitchins 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to talk to a recovering alcoholic, get in touch. I've been dry for 9 years.
hunvreus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I believe that regular exercise and switching to a proper diet (paleo) helped me give up on alcohol altogether.

I'd recommend you start kicking you own butt: go to http://www.nerdfitness.com/academy-overview-page/ and subscribe, start building a routine. Stick to it and you'll quickly see that abusive drinking isn't just an option.

practicalpants 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a male outlook and take this for what you will, but I'm a programmer, and I've found that so much of overcoming addiction (drinking and porn, mainly), bad sleeping cycles, and raw anxiety, social or otherwise, comes form improving your sex life. For me this doesn't mean monogamy, or at least I haven't met a girl in some time I'm ready to be exclusive with, mainly because I've become aware of just how many fish there are in the sea... but rather treat yourself to a dynamic and varied sex life, with multiple women. It's both a rush and a centering, re-energizing force. It fulfills biological needs and challenges you to be a better person. It's not easy, i.e. it challenges you to be a better person.

If you're feeling overly stressed, be real with yourself, do I have the sex life I want to have, am I missing out on some life experiences here? Be aware of how your sex life can relate to frustrations, addictive patterns, etc. because there is a real relationship, and it should not be discounted as a source of whatever problems you're having.

imre 6 hours ago 0 replies      
my 2 rules: 1) never drink alcohol alone2) never drink alcohol to lessen hangover
aquarin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have become passionate tea drinker and can suggest it to anyone. I also spend time during tea drinking to meditate for a moment. Recently even perform gongfu style tea preparation.
gjvc 3 days ago 4 replies      
Please find a meeting near you. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/
sixmonthssober 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate the fact that I cannot attach my real name or handle when writing on this topic, but that's just the way things are right now.

Today is my 180th day sober. If you asked me a year ago if I'd be dead or six months sober in a year's time, I'd have gone with dead.

Somehow I kept my current full time developer job through the past five years, but over the last decade have lost one job, bankrupted a company I co-founded and had my wife leave me. I offer the same advice as OP: Stop drinking now. Telling yourself you'll stop at some arbitrary point in the future won't work. The long term consequences are ugly; My teeth and skin are fucked up, my short term memory is cracked, and it's only been the past six months of my adult life that I've not been pissing away every paycheck. But I feel a lot smarter now than I was a year ago.

I decided I wanted to stop, and so I did the only thing I could: I moved away from the self-destructive social scene and habits I had been wallowing in. I just up and left (luckily could work in another city).

But keep in mind that post-stopping is really hard. I feel so productive and sharper now that it's ironically depressing; I know I wasted years and threw away dozens of opportunities. There are friendships where I fear I'll never be able to repair the damage that drunk me caused, but I will try. In the past month or so I've finally been able to man up and contact some of them to tell them what's happened. Some I owe money. I will fix this. Even if they still won't forgive me.

Having someone to talk to and an avenue to vent is essential. Big lifestyle changes helped me, especially getting out of the environment where I could get away with drinking like that every day and working from 11 or noon still drunk.

Other people here have mentioned the medical ramifications of quitting. It's no joke. I didn't quit until I feared dying from quitting as much as I feared dying from continuing. Maybe this is the choice you have now. I hope you choose life. After all, that's why we're here.

From my experience of quitting:

Read up at the Crippling Alcoholism subreddit. Lots of good resources on quitting.See a doctor, get evaluated and say, "I need help."If tapering helps, do it. I tapered for four days before checking in. It's different for everyone, but I had night terrors, sweats and I heard voices. This lasted a couple of weeks. Get medication for anxiety. But don't stay on it long. I'm back to having the occasional anxiety attack, but that's better than puking on my laptop once a month or so.Eat better, lose weight. Focus the addictive part of your personality on fitness goals. I've lost 2.5 stone so far. I almost feel like a person again.

Message me if you want.

Stronico 3 days ago 0 replies      
You should check out the documentary "Pleasure Unwoven" for the psychiatric/brain aspects of addiction http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Unwoven-Explanation-Disease-A...
MorningInfidel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found Martial Arts helpful to get myself out of my head and take the edge off the monkey energy that isn't being released through my sedentary, code -> video games -> sleep lifestyle through the working week.

In particular, pick one that's as close to actual combat as possible. MMA is great, but perhaps too intense. I've started training brazilian jiu jitsu and can't recommend it enough. Something about fighting for your life against someone who could easily put you to sleep/manhandle you that's therapeutic.

Sam Harris blogged about it here: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-pleasures-of-drowning

I wish you all the luck in the world in getting past this.

icholboy 3 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW I used these techniques to overcome tobacco addiction and stress related mental/physical problems:

i) Sport, cannot be stressed enough how benefitial it is for human body any kind of regular sport activityii) Change of current habits, which might be in turn conducting you to your current situationiii) Travel for an extended period or regularly, will effectively break your acquired habits and may open your mind to new ideas (it changes the perspective)iv) the jacobson method of progressive muscle relaxation, which can be as effective as anti-depressants and that's no marketing talk. at least it worked for me.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_muscle_relaxation

glanotte 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am an alcoholic sober for 7 years. You know you have a problem and that really is great because then you can address it. If you need to talk to someone, find me on twitter @glanotte and we will find a way to get in touch.

If you don't want to talk, get to an AA meeting or if you don't think you can control yourself, check into rehab. Strike while you care about it, don't wait for yourself to start making excuses.

caymaness 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing that helped me the most was to simply accept that I was not alone in my pain/struggles. For far too long did I imagine that my pain was unique. Once I opened up to friends I found, to my surprise, that many people were going through a very similar type of strife. Accepting that you are not alone is a major first step towards recovery.
jesusmichael 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dude... Don't feel bad, you join the ranks of 1000's of lottery winners, except you have skills... You're the 1% if not in net worth... definitely in brains... Do something
spiritplumber 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hang in there, bro.
cnp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get through the tough, deadly part, then look into Ibogaine treatment in Mexico or Canada.
patrikj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did the addiction have anything to do with the fact that you are a software developer?

Good advice, but I doubt that developers would be especially prone to alcoholism.

randomflavor 3 days ago 1 reply      
drinking is just a symptom - real problem is between your ears. you drink to quiet it. until you find a replacement you are fucked. you can't just 'stop'. maybe for a few days or weeks or months, but the consequences of your drinking won't really change.
mydogmuppet 3 days ago 0 replies      
If your drinking is costing you more than money its usually a problem. Alcoholism is an equal opportunity employer. Are you Willing to take action to stop drinking ? You are not alone; there are many who have similar experiences. Many of these problem drinkers made a decision that today was going to be the day that they started to save their own lives.
yeukhon 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hope you will feel better.

My problem is simply I can't go to bed on time. I try many times, forcing myself to go to bed but I just can't. I always stay up late and even when I feel sleepy I can stay awake =. I am getting tired of staying awake all the time. :(

PreetikaThakur 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's good that you have at least realized, for the all tings you did. There's nothing impossible if someone actually tries it. I wish you luck :) Hope you''ll soon get what you have lost.
halis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a 32 year old software developer and I've been sober for over 6 years now. Had a horrible drinking problem, that got progressively worse since my teen years.

Today, I have a wife and two sons and I don't miss drinking one bit. But I had to get pretty low to stop. Everyone's bottom is different, I was lucky that I hit mine so young.

julie1 3 days ago 1 reply      

The original study on nurses in Israel estimates the probability for stressed people to give in to addiction to be 150% more than average.

Coders are liking this culture of burn in/burn out like junkies anyway.

It is clear our way of working is health hazardous.I never saw another profession more despising that much CHSCT or usual working wisdoms or health protection.

In my former (game company) the alcohol was even bought by the company every friday and it was poorly accepted people refuses to share a toast. And I saw the casual boozing a lot in a lot of places.

The average drinking in computer development and drug use {when I include the graphists designer} are way above the average of my supposed to be unsafe with all these junkies suburb. I don't come from a favela, just one of the banlieue that gives nice rioting picture on CNN/fox news every 10 years.

The work culture in IT is the most dangerous and irresponsible I never saw. No respect for anyone, neither workers, nor providers, nor sometimes customers.

It makes me sometimes feel as if I was working with psychopaths, and I did my conscription, so I met psychopaths. But soldiers made me feel more secure.

epynonymous 3 days ago 0 replies      
same here, i like to drink scotch
newblahbl4hblah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get help. Don't put it off.
ffbellfhtlflf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kinda makes me wonder why the hell so many people are tryna tell me to slow down. Seems like motherfuckers should be shuttin' the hell up and enjoyin' the show
nitishdhar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Keep calm & write awesome code
seanhandley 3 days ago 5 replies      
Or.... you could practice moderation?

Alcohol does not make you into a problem. You make yourself into a problem, and lump alcohol in with all the other things that you could blame it on.

Grow up. Be accountable to yourself. Don't externalise blame.

homakov 3 days ago 5 replies      
That's sad, but you are not doing drugs - you can quit easily, just do it! Try to do sports or stuff like that, travel.. Seriously, alcohol is disgusting if you drink it every day.

I have a hooker problem, no joke. Since we are talking about addictions here?

Microsoft launches Office for iPad thenextweb.com
305 points by msoliman  3 days ago   273 comments top 40
sz4kerto 3 days ago 12 replies      
MS is changing, and make no mistake, this has started with Ballmer. If you watch(ed) the press conf, it's quite apparent. App store for Android, Office for iPad, AD for Azure.. quite nice stuff, that's what we expect from a software giant: just release stuff for everything, everywhere, and make things be able to work with each other nicely.

Good to see that, competition is always good for the users, and Apple, Google and MS all seem to be quite strong on their fields (although Google is the most fashionable nowadays).

mikestew 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if they aren't a little late on this. I assume that I'm not the only one that found out I can get along just fine without Office on an iPad (or in my own personal case, get along just fine without Office at all). If the free Pages/Keynote/Numbers doesn't do it, I probably need a "real" computer anyway.

That was always the real danger I saw for Microsoft as they delayed supporting iOS. Folks buy the devices anyway, despite their lack of Office. Then folks find out that they can do what they want to do despite that lack of Office. Maybe they've been using it by default, not because they really need it. Then Microsoft comes out with Office for iOS and there's a collective shrug and a "meh".

chrisdevereux 3 days ago 9 replies      
The pricing structure is interesting: Free to view, requires an expensive Office 365 subscription to edit.

Seems like they're missing an opportunity to drive adoption of Office as an online platform. Why would I want to publish using Office instead of Google Docs when I can't assume that people I send the Office doc to will be able to edit it? Sure, Office is better, but not better enough to overcome that.

If it was free to edit, but $$$ to publish, Office 365 would be much more compelling. Especially since the situation w/r/t mobile looks much better than Google Docs.

Edit: My point here is about network effects, not whether the subscription is worth it. Office previously benefited from them, but it's vulnerable as a cloud platform given the free alternatives from Google and even Apple.

iaskwhy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some comments here refer the potencially high cost of the membership for Office 365. It seems like there will be a new plan for $7/m ($70/y) supporting 2 devices[1]. Like the previous plan, it also seems to include 1h of Skype calls.

[1] http://blogs.office.com/2014/03/13/announcing-office-365-per...

bane 3 days ago 1 reply      
Before anybody thinks this is weird, or unusual. Microsoft has quite often been more pragmatic about the platform offerings for their office suite than elsewhere. After all, Office exists and has existed on Apple products for a very long time. It's more unusual that it hasn't been on the iProducts than anything.
gum_ina_package 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really hoping MS becomes a company that offers consistent and great experiences no matter who's walled garden you're in.
jmspring 3 days ago 4 replies      
A review comparing the Apple apps (native and cloud), MSFT Office (native and cloud), and Google Docs compare would be interesting. Specifically usability (touch as well as external keyboard attached), on and offline modes.

Playing up the ribbon in the presentation? Curious as ribbon really has triggered a love it or hate it reaction.

DigitalSea 3 days ago 2 replies      
Finally. Yes, there are alternatives to Microsoft Office for the iPad, but make no mistake, none of them even come close to that of Microsoft Office. I just downloaded Word and Excel, couldn't find a flaw in either of them. The subscription part for editing sucks, but subscriptions are fairly cheap.

We are witnessing a new Microsoft that began when new CEO Satya Nadella took the helm. This is his first of many acts to turn the company around, instead of the previous closed door approach Balmer preferred.

It's good to see Satya doesn't appear to be full brainwashed by the Microsoft cool-aid. This isn't 1998, Windows is no longer the dominant platform and it makes sense to open up your products to other platforms, especially given Microsoft's failure to break ground in the mobile market.

Now all Satya needs to do is bring back the start menu in Windows 9, get rid of that horrid Metro tile interface for non touch devices (or at the very least give users the option of the new Metro interface or classic desktop) and I'll be ecstatic.

plg 3 days ago 1 reply      
If it means we will have an actual word processor on iOS, all the better.

I for one am deeply disappointed with the direction Apple has taken with iWork.

Not least of which is the (a) removal of features and (b) incompatibility with recent versions of their own software [this has rendered large portions of my documents unreadable]

codeulike 3 days ago 0 replies      
While we're talking about Microsoft, it strikes me that of the big players in 2014, Microsoft are the most diversified, even if they're no longer in the lead in most areas. Will that diversification (Office, Windows, Enterprise, Azure, XBox, Phones) give them more longevity? Or are they really in danger of fading into insignificance?
footpath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the non-tablet iPhone/Android phone versions of Office Mobile have gone free to use as well, forgoing the previous requirement of an active Office 365 subscription:


mark_l_watson 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think that it is cool for Microsoft to release Office 360 for OS X and iPad.

I do a lot of writing (I am pretty much addicted to writing books). I use my iPad for lots of casual writing using a good text editor and markdown files in Dropbox (target is leanpub.com). For some writing I like having Pages on both iOS and OS X with iCloud storage.

If Office 360 ends up being a compelling product for iPad and my MacBook Air, then the $99/year is a no-brainer decision.

mattkevan 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's great to see Office on iPad - hopefully it'll encourage Google to improve their terrible Drive app.

Our company moved entirely to Google Docs about 5 years ago. Being sent a Word file is like being handed a CD ROM - a brief moment for a 'Oh, one of those' mental gear change and a few minutes rummaging in the dead tech box for an external drive. Or in Office's case something that can reliably parse the file

dudus 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Apple gets a cut of the subscription pricing.

I also bet any other company would not get away with a model like that. Apple requires that you make payments through their AppStore or in-app Payment systems so it can collect its cut. Good luck trying to publishing something with the same model on the App Store.

batoure 3 days ago 1 reply      
It is with a certain amount of amusement that I note that this version of office (which looks really cool) is significantly more optimized for touch than the version of office that I have for my MS Surface. That is some what disappointing.
vmarsy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm wondering what would happen if, without paying for the office 365 subscription, I try to edit a document stored in the cloud. Will it open a Safari tab with the free office.com online Word/Excel/Powerpoint ?

In other words : Is there an "Open with Word Online" button for non office 365 subscribers?

chmars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why does Microsoft offer not only the single apps but also one app with all single apps included? That seems to be rather unusual for iOS apps.

As a side note, App Store search is still lacking: Looking for 'microsoft office' did not result in a single hit related to actual apps from Microsoft. Googling for App Store links to the four new apps was easier in the end

tjmc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Question - does the equation editor work in Word? When viewing Word docs on iOS previously I could only see about 70% of my mechanical engineering lab reports without it.
msoliman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nadella said "Let me go to my iPad"! I bet that wasn't allowed at the time of Gates and Ballmer.
rafeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Office for iPad actually looks pretty great. This is great news for Apple and the Windows users out there who didn't want to use iPad for lack of official MS Office products.
eitally 3 days ago 0 replies      
The issue I find is that spreadsheets are really unpleasant to work with on a tablet (or any touch display). Given that, things like QuickOffice or similar work mostly just fine for viewing.
dman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean Office for linux is in the works? At least for the corporate distros like Redhat, Suse and Ubuntu?
the_watcher 3 days ago 0 replies      
To me, there needs to be a step change in information input for the Office Suite to be something I'd use on an iPad. Word processing and speadsheet manipulation are so text intensive. Interested to try it out though.
rottyguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would be nice if you can read and comment/highlight for free and edit for pay. I suspect one typical use case is to have someone send around a doc to solicit comments and incorporate them subsequent. In fact, this model kind of enforces that flow so you don't have multiple people editing it and forking the original.
rayiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
It goes to show a lot about the situation in Microsoft that they didn't manage to ship this last year for Surface RT, where it might have done the platform a lot of good.
be5invis 3 days ago 3 replies      
Microsoft releases Office for iPad just looks like that Nintendo publishes Super Mario Bros on Xbox!

So, are they going to discard Windows (|phone|tablet|...) platform and become a pure third-party? It reminds me of Sega.

dsaravel 3 days ago 1 reply      
$119 (in Australia, at least) is too much for me to try editing capabilities. How about you keep the price but only prevent me from saving? I need to know how it feels editing the documents before I commit to such price.
Pxtl 3 days ago 0 replies      
They missed the competition for IE completely and were way too late with IE7. They missed the competition from the mobile world and dragged their feet a bit with WP7. They're not going to lose Office too, which is their biggest cash-cow. Without Office, entire corporations will no longer see Microsoft as a "must-have" company.

So yeah, iPad.

dalek2point3 3 days ago 1 reply      
i wonder if it will keep getting regular updates and support too -- what product cycle will it be on? will it have clippy -- the office assistant? so many questions.
tmarman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was really hoping the "developers" portion would announce a Xamarin acquisition. Maybe at BUILD, but curiously as this talk was going on I got an email from Xamarin telling me to visit them at BUILD.
arrc 3 days ago 1 reply      
They've also started using open-source technologies like Node.js and javascript (must be typescript).

Microsoft is finally adopting open source with open arms.

source: http://inessential.com/2014/02/04/azure_takes_over

encoderer 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks very well done. This is exciting. Honestly, I've almost entirely transitioned from Office to Google Docs. I could see this pulling me back in.
beyondcompute 3 days ago 0 replies      
When will Microsoft launch it's own iPad (or a product as good as it). "Launching something for concurrents' successful platform". That's weird.
orkoden 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Microsoft Office Apps don't integrate well with other iOS apps. There's no open-in in other apps and no support for AirPrint or other printing options.
LeicaLatte 3 days ago 0 replies      
If it feel this expensive on iOS, this pricing has no chance on other platforms. And Google Docs is not going anywhere with this pricing for sure.
BadassFractal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder how astroturfed this comment section is.
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a long time MS customer their pricing strategies and product segmentation still bother the heck out of me. I get it, but I don't. I wish they'd flatten the offering to one OS and one Office suite and be done with it. Here's what's happening with the tablet versions of Office:

    A qualifying Office 365 subscription is required to edit and create documents.     Qualifying plans include:    Office 365 Home           $99.99 PER YEAR    Office 365 Small Business Premium       $150.00 per user per year    Office 365 Midsize Business       $180.00 per user per year    Office 365 E3 and E4 (Enterprise and Government)       $264.00 per user per year    Office 365 Education A3 and A4       Students: $36.00 per user per year       Teachers: $72.00 per user per year    Office 365 Pro Plus            $?????    Office 365 University       Same as educational license?
Not sure how to think about this. If I had to pay for my Office 2003 and 2007 Office Pro legal licenses every year it'd amount to a large pile of money. I don't have any issues licensing software at all. You could buy a couple of top of the line German cars with the various licenses for engineering and office software we have.

That said, monthly subscriptions I avoid like the plague. Why? All is fine while business is good. When things aren't great subscriptions bleed much-needed capital. If cancelling your subscriptions means taking away such things as Office and email you are screwed and have to take money from some other part of the business to keep them going.

That's why I've always run our own email servers and always purchased licenses of software like Office Pro. We don't have to update the software every year. When things are good --and if it makes sense-- you upgrade. During lean times you have the option to not spend any money on upgrades and still have full usage of your software. Having experienced this a couple of times over the years I don't like the idea of any mission critical service being tied to a monthly per-user licence, it's a bad idea.

Beyond that, I wish MS would stop this nonsense of having so many layers to their products. One Windows and one Office, none of this "Home", "Home Premium", "Pro", "Pro Plus", "Really Really Pro Premium Plus", etc.

zyadsherif 3 days ago 1 reply      
Finally they've accepted the fact that they need to optimize to apple products, the Gates mentality has been blocking innovation in this area and this might be the breakthrough !
amaks 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Requires subscription for editing"

This is lame, IMO, and so typical for MS.

Class Hierarchies? Don't Do That raganwald.com
290 points by johanbrook  21 hours ago   208 comments top 45
timr 18 hours ago 15 replies      
"the real world doesnt work that way. It really doesnt work that way. In zoology, for example, we have penguins, birds that swim. And the bat, a mammal that flies. And monotremes like the platypus, an animal that lays eggs but nurses its young with milk."

Former biologist here. Actually...most living things do work that way. A human ISA primate. Genetically. Functionally.

If you merely focus on outward behavior, you get to the same place that early biologists got to with what was called "morphological classification" -- you find the weird examples of convergent evolution (e.g. "OMG egg-laying mammal!"), and you're tempted to throw out the whole classification system, even though it mostly works, and the errors are merely distracting from the inherent truth of the idea (that we're all related by genetic phylogeny; we literally share implementation).

Anyway, programmers, learn from biology: when you see these kinds of errors it probably means that you're classifying things incorrectly, not that you should stop classifying altogether.

jdlshore 20 hours ago 8 replies      
Okay, having read the article, I think it goes too far.

Inheritance hierarchies have their issues, and raganwald touches on them, but there's a strawman argument here.

(Incidentally, raganwald, I've noticed this about all your OO articles. You seem to have a bias against class-based design. It's causing your essays to be less brilliant than they could be.)

Fundamentally, you can think of inheritance as a special case of composition. It's composition combined with automatic delegation.

In other words, if you have A with method foo() and B with method bar(), "A extends B" is equivalent [1] to "A encapsulates an instance of B and exposes 'function bar() { return this._b.bar(); }'."

This is very useful when you want polymorphism. Writing those delegators is a pain in the butt.

More importantly, it tells us how to use inheritance safely. Only use inheritance when 1) you want to automatically expose all superclass methods, and 2) don't access superclass variables.

Now, JavaScript does have the specific problem that you can accidentally overwrite your superclass's variables, and that's worth talking about. But I think that saying "inheritance is bad" goes too far. The article would be stronger if talked about when inheritance is genuinely useful, the problems it causes, and how to avoid them.

Edit: In particular, I want to see more about polymorphism. Polymorphism is OOP's secret superpower. Edit 2: I'm not saying polymorphism requires inheritance.

[1] Not quite equivalent.

kenjackson 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Good article, but I think the real message isn't to not use inheritance, but to use with great care.

Inheritance gives you a great characteristic -- isa relationships. And this is something you don't get with composition.

That said, the fragility with poorly constructed base classes is real. But a succinct base class can be very valuable and useful, and not that brittle. Just don't stuff cruft in it that is of questionable value. Ask yourself what's the least you can put in the base class and still provide value.

And this is where interfaces are also useful. You can get the isa relationship w/o much of the brittleness as there is no internal state associated with the interface. But you are still creating a hierarchy (just not of classes, but of interfaces).

It's a useful article, especially for those new to the idea. But the takeaway should be to use care. Not to avoid at all costs.

hibikir 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Inheritance is easily overused, but that doesn't mean that we should just avoid it altogether.

The problem IMO is that we are stuck in a view that inheritance is really about ontology, when what we really mean, and want, is code reuse. It's very hard to make a 5 level deep ontology not break down. This is why we have this whole 'prefer composition over inheritance' business.

But while we are stuck with that kind of mindset in Java (at least pre java 8), we miss the capability of using inheritance as a way of adding mixins. There is much power in using mixins as a way to clarify composition, while we still keep the inheritance tree very shallow.

That's one thing we get with judicious use of the Scala cake pattern, which you could easily reproduce in javascript: Composition without really having to write a bunch of useless boilerplate. There's a nice talk out there about it. Cake Pattern: The Bakery from the Black Lagoon.

The trick, as with most other programming techniques, is to use it carefully.

mercurial 21 hours ago 1 reply      
It's just as true in other languages. More often than not, programmers thinking about code reuse attempt to solve it via inheritance, which is almost always the wrong answer. With some persistence, you can end up with a nice four or five level deep inheritance tree with 10 methods randomly overriden at various levels in the tree. Good luck figuring out how the damn thing actually works if you didn't write it.
cwp 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The substance of the article is spot on, but I have to take issue with the terminology it uses. The problem he's talking about isn't classes, it's inheritance.

This is an important distinction. Javascript doesn't have classes, but it does have inheritance. The problems raganwald points out with the Account example come not from the organization of the code into pseudo-classes, but from the fact that it uses Javascript's inheritance mechanism.

It would be perfectly possible to write a version of the example that exhibited the "fragile prototype problem," and conversely, one can easily write a version in Smalltalk that uses composition instead of inheritance and thus has no fragile base classes.

kwamenum86 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to find these types of articles useful. But now I see them more as dogma. Great engineers don't struggle with things like JavaScript inheritance because they understand best practices and trade offs. So in general, I find it more useful to read about best practices and trade offs than "xyz considered harmful" articles that don't present viable alternatives to xyz.

That said whenever I see something on raganwald.com I'll still read it :)

nabla9 21 hours ago 0 replies      
We want to use classes because we want to want to be able to invoke an operation and have the exact behavior determined by the type of the object or objects on which the operation was invoked.

Common Lisp philosophy of classes and OO fits the thicketness of the real world better. Generic functions, multimethods, mixings etc. Just embracing the notion that classes and encapsulation might be orthogonal issue opens up the way to use class system better ways.

tmsh 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Class hierarchies are easily fragile, easily do not model things correctly over time.

The cruft, the lack of DRY as the mapping between what is being modeled and what is represented in the code -- accumulates with class hierarchies for sure.

But the idea of inheritance and tree structures has been around and strong for the past 50 years -- not because people are inherently lazy -- but because it models something very primitive about programming: the evolutionary nature of development and thinking.

This is extremely non-mathematical, but extremely non-trivial.

Tree structures (and by extension 'hierarchies') are perhaps the most fundamental way to organize data. There is nothing more sophisticated than a tree search -- it is the basis of all exponential / efficient access times and all knowledge and organization of memory. It's why evolution proceeds in tree structures. We organize data in our mind in tree structures. Life over millennia organizes itself in tree structures.

I'm sad to report that the world will not quickly become clear and abstract and orthogonal a la Haskell or other pure languages. Knowledge, life, everything proceeds via evolution, not something a priori. The sooner one really accepts that, the sooner one has new ways to interface with this reality more practically and effectively.

People sometimes make the point of use the right tool for the job - as a reason for still using OOP, etc. I'd not say that -- but that the right tool for the job where the job is an evolving code base is actually something object-oriented with inheritance. Except where the domain is very precise and known ahead of time. Otherwise, the manner in which it models evolution is actually quite useful (despite the fragility of inheritance and the quick ability to spin out of any orthogonal clarity).

People who program purely in Clojure or Haskell put the burden of this evolution in their own development as a programmer (there is no extension, there is just clarity and then rewrite). That's ok. People who use Java or whatever in the enterprise because it's easier for other people to get on board with it -- put the burden in the code. But the cost of modeling a problem that evolves goes somewhere.

cmbaus 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I am bit concerned that the standard committee is going to make the language worse while trying to fix it.

Yes it is inconvenient to do traditional OO programming with JavaScript, but I'm not convinced that is a bad thing. Encouraging subclassing, as pointed out by the author, could actually be detrimental.

al2o3cr 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Anybody have an original source for "prefer composition over inheritance"? I've heard it for years, but never with an attribution.

FWIW, I noticed that in my old C++ book (Stroustrup '91) there's some really bogus inheritance examples - window -> window_w_banner -> window_w_menu -> window_w_banner_and_menu etc etc etc.

hifier 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There are some contradictions here. For example the author the following statement about encapsulation violations being permitted, but not followed as best practice:

"JavaScript does not enforce private state, but its easy to write well-encapsulated programs: simply avoid having one object directly manipulate another objects properties. Forty years after Smalltalk was invented, this is a well-understood principle."

However, the author doesn't seem to really understand this as he makes the case that access to private state and behavior of a "superclass" violates encapsulation:

"In JavaScript (and other languages in the same family), classes and subclasses share access to the objects private properties. It is not possible to change an implementation detail for Account without carefully checking every single subclass and the code depending on those subclasses to see if our internal, private change will break them."

Well, yes they do allow access, but that doesn't mean you have to use it! This is considered bad practice when extending any class in other languages that I'm familiar with (C++, Ruby). Please take some of your own advice.

I do agree that hierarchies do not fit the real world as well the contrived examples from my first OOP classes and they should be used with extreme caution. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water, however.

dclowd9901 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Ever since I've started writing Objective-C, a lot of Javascript's glaring issues have started to melt away. Yes, JS doesn't have an understanding of protocol, but that's just a matter of implementing convention and being disciplined. JS is remarkable in that it is so malleable that one can use myriad patterns with it.

I've found that the delegate pattern, for instance, can be incredibly powerful when used in conjunction with JS, especially when it comes to extending classes functionality that may not be inherent to its topology (think class Ant, to describe an Ant, and class FlyingAnimal -- wings, etc. --, to describe a queen ant).

V-2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Only, the real world doesnt work that way. It really doesnt work that way. In morphology, for example, we have penguins, birds that swim. And the bat, a mammal that flies."

Yes but we have Single Responsibility Principle and while an animal is one object in physical world, it doesn't mean it should be a single object in OOP. Start breaking it down...

public interface BodyType {}

public class TwoArmsTwoLegs implements BodyType {}

public class FourLegs implements BodyType {}

public interface Locomotion<B extends BodyType> { void walk(B body);}

public class BipedWalk implements Locomotion<TwoArmsTwoLegs> { public void walk(TwoArmsTwoLegs body) {}}

public class Slither implements Locomotion<NoLimbs> { public void walk(NoLimbs body) {}}

public class Animal { BodyType body; Locomotion locomotion;}

Animal human = new Animal(new TwoArmsTwoLegs(), new BipedWalk());

(Code sample from an article in Software Development Journal by ukasz Baran)

tristan_juricek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This approach to discussing inheritance treats JavaScript as if you're a Java or C++ programmer, and completely lacks any clarity with how inheritance in JavaScript really works.

Best intro I've read on the topic I'm talking about is from Alex Sexton (just read the last example, it really hits the nail on the head):


So you might want a wee bit of hierarchy, if you're thinking like those "shared options" scenario, but not in the "OO type abstraction tree".

So, you might have something like a "Account.prototype.primeInterestRate" property that you can change in a running program, and then all the other types of account can calculate interest based on that shared property.

However, the more experienced jS developers I've met might take those "Account.prototype.balance" and "Account.prototype.deposit" methods, and push those into a "mixin" type (like "CurrentBalance") where those methods are copied (not inherited) onto the child class prototype, and those methods, might have initializer helpers to set up the "currentBalance" property they use. This mixin approach only gets gnarly if there's any feature envy. (Document your object properties clearly, folks. This is where javaScript's flexibility often becomes a crutch - lots of issues happen if mixin code uses "this.foo" for different things.)

Anyhow, what's interesting here is that Account carries the property that's shared, but CurrentBalance carries "behaviors", and is not shared, and your "child classes" like VisaDebitAccount embed both in different ways. It is a very different way of thinking about object relationships, and often works smoothly.

But if you're using classes in JavaScript like you would Java, well, then, you're not really using JavaScript, right? And, this whole talk about biological-style ontology just becomes the wrong metaphor, because while "humans are a primate" we can't change aspects of primates to add behavior to people!

V-2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Yet another post titled "don't do X", which actually reads as "do not exaggerate with X" or "did you know? X has some caveats".

Of course inheritance is not a solution for everything. Avoid using deep inheritance hierarchies, you'll paint yourself into a corner. It's advisable to prefer composition over inheritance. You should not be that guy who only has a hammer and everything looks like a nail to him. But it doesn't translate into: "hammer? don't do that!"

All the examples he's giving either demonstrate abusing the inheritance concept or just show that it has certain limitations. There are well known solutions and guidelines for dealing with problems such as fragile base class, other than throwing the whole paradigm out of the window

DrJokepu 20 hours ago 1 reply      
It's difficult to argue with this article. I can count on one hand the number of times non-trivial class hierarchies (that is, more more than 2-3 classes) made my life easer and every time that was the case I writing a compiler or a code generator or something similar.
skybrian 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This is generally true. On the other hand, interfaces are a good thing, especially in a language like Go where you can explicitly declare them and then pass in anything that happens to match that interface. (In JavaScript, this is unfortunately implicit, so it requires better documentation and sometimes runtime checks to ensure sanity.)

If you implement an interface using delegation, you get something quite like subclassing, except that the subclass-superclass interface is explicit and the superclass's type is entirely hidden. Sadly, few languages make this easy so it often requires some boilerplate or meta-programming.

gboudrias 18 hours ago 0 replies      
In javascript*

I think this highlights a problem with javascript more than OOP: We're trying to fit it into uses cases that are simply too complex for its design. It wasn't made to build your goddamn bank accounting system, it was made so that "nonprofessional programmers" could animate things on websites.

But it also highlights a problem it doesn't take about: Language in computer science and how it affects how we think about things.

In this instance, public and private are terrible names. They had to tell us in programming classes that they're not related to security, which means that the privacy metaphor is a terrible idea because it's not instinctual.

This in turn causes us to shoehorn class design into things they perhaps shouldn't be. At this point, for complex programs we should be describing things in a much more complex way than "accessible from the outside or not". As the article points out, it doesn't matter that the classes are external, because you can just as well break things from the inside.

This is a complex problem, but I think the beginning of a solution is to a) Depend on meta-information (or better implement a flexible, non-arbitrary "access" structure) and b) Use the right tool for the right job, in this case not JS.

einhverfr 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What is missing from the discussion here is that where domain knowledge is less important. For example, almost every widget system I have ever looked at uses class inheritance because it makes it relatively easy to manage consistent interfaces across classes. This is true of GTK, wxwidgets, and many more.

It is true that the natural world doesn't necessarily admit of perfect neat classifications generally, much less trees. However, when we are talking about purely engineered solutions, the same arguments don't apply in the same way.

Here's an example. In LedgerSMB 1.4, we use (shallow) class inheritance in a reporting framework. It works, and works well. Reports inherit an abstract class with lots of hooks for customization but a lot of defaults.

In future versions we will likely be moving away from an inheritance-based approach, not because of the arguments here or the maintenance issues (which will crop up any time you rely on external components) but because we think we can create clearer code by moving from a class/inheritance approach to a DSL approach.

I am not sure that class contracts and DSL syntax contracts are necessarily any different from a maintenance perspective other than the fact that the latter strikes me as resulting in clearer code.

_getify 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Huge fan of this article. Makes some really great points! Wish I could share and vote it up a thousand times. :)

I have been writing about exactly this topic, of why classes don't make sense (specifically for JS), in my second title of the "You Don't Know JS" book series, "this & Object Prototypes".

In particular, Chapter 6 makes the case for an alternate pattern to class-orientation design, which I call OLOO (objects-linked-to-other-objects) style code. OLOO implements the "behavior delegation" design pattern, and embraces simply peer objects linked together, instead of the awkwardness of parent-child abstract class semantics.


porker 20 hours ago 2 replies      
> It turns out that our knowledge of the behaviour of non-trivial domains (like zoology or banking) does not classify into a nice tree, it forms a directed acyclic graph. Or if we are to stay in the metaphor, its a thicket.

That completely chimes with my experience. I wondered if I was doing OOP wrong, as any time the size/complexity of a project (or module) gets above a certain level, a Thicket results in my code.

> Classes are the wrong semantic model, and the wisdom of fifty years of experience with them is that there are better ways to compose programs.

Where's your source/links? What? This needs expanding - if there are better ways, outline your evidence and show us where we're going wrong :)

aturek 21 hours ago 3 replies      
tl;dr: Superclasses make your code brittle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fragile_base_class

How many people still try to fit their software design into the class hierarchy model? I've been on the composition-not-inheritance side for so long I can't do "traditional OO" justice, but I'd love to hear the counter-arguments in case I'm wrong.

dangoor 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Something I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion so far is the Data, Context, Interaction (DCI) pattern.


As mentioned at points in this thread, some objects need different behavior based on their context. DCI is a thought provoking way to represent that (though one that not in common use and that is often described as "being done wrong" on the object composition mailing list[1]).

[1]: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/object-composition

ajuc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Class hierarchies are OK when they have one level. It's essentially object oriented switch statatement with bells and whistles.

I can't remember one class hierarchy more than one level deep that was worth it.

They save a little code - true, but at the cost of coupling, making it harder to change, and forcing early debatable decisions on programmer (which classification is more important and goes first for example).

malandrew 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I like these articles, but I think there are more than enough of them out there and not enough of those that show you how to use composition.

Everyone who has spent enough time with OO and classical inheritance knows the problems, but most have never seen how to convert a mess of classes and inheritance into a more functional approach with composition.

Don't get me wrong, there was good content here, but I was hoping that after the conclusion, the post was going to go into how to use composition as an alternative.

benrhughes 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Although I'm very, very sympathetic to the idea that class hierarchies often cause more pain than they're worth, using JS to make that point is a bad idea.

In most actual OO languages, there is a clearly defined interface between a base class and it's inheritors: eg in c# you have protected (to expose state), abstract to force implementation and virtual to optionally allow implementation. In no way are you forced to expose all internal state (even though people often do).

I think there's a case to be made against class hierarchies, and also against using OO in javascript. But I'm not sure Ragan made either of them well here.

twfarland 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My js style began with a heavy usage of classes. I then left that for prototype composition. Recently, I've arrived at a style influenced by Haskell's separation of functions and data - namespaced objects of functions that act on plain json-serializable data. Flexible, simple, and perfomant. I don't miss 'this' at all.
iamwil 18 hours ago 0 replies      
That inheritance doesn't get encapsulated was the same way I felt about modules in ruby. You could include them into a class or other modules, but the interface was never well defined, and you could cause incompatibilities by relying on the implementation of the class you include into, unless you're disciplined enough to only use methods, and not attributes.

On the other hand, defining all the interfaces all the time, like in java was painstaking. I hope for some sort of middle ground.

platz 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This is interesting, reading some of the linked documents, my naive generalization is that it pushes the entities into using things like maps and dictionaries instead of static properties. The "system manager" stuff just pulls things out of the maps and feeds them to functions to do work, so it is very much 'data-driven' and I must assume more work is put into "configuration" of the entities, just like a data-driven business process requires "configuration" of the order processing pipeline.http://www.richardlord.net/blog/what-is-an-entity-framework
golergka 18 hours ago 0 replies      
> That kind of ontology is useful for writing requirements, use cases, tests, and so on. But that doesnt mean that its useful for writing code the code that implements bank accounts.

Isn't good, easy readable code look very similar to requirements it was written upon?

sktrdie 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I believe that software design is a highly subjective art. People that are meant to maintain a piece of code are different. Some may be more creative and less pragmatic, others may be more structured and clean in their design.

The truth is that there's no silver bullet. You can build software based on hierarchy of classes because your mind works better with that structure, but others may find it completely inappropriate. We're human and our mind works differently from one another.

In that sense I truly believe software is much closer to art than engineering.

protez 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Class hierarchies are just mental tools, not how machines/programs/automatas actually work. If the mental tools implode due to exceptions and complexities, that's the problem of their uses, not tools by themselves. Before blaming hierarchies, you should blame yourself for using tools in wrong ways.
monokrome 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Hey, guys. Here's a really poorly considered hierarchy of classes, where I haven't really made any real effort to separate concerns or otherwise prepare for the problems which I am specifically creating.

Now, look at all these bad things that I've done! NEVER DO ANYTHING SIMILAR EVER."

That pretty much sums it up.

bayesianhorse 6 hours ago 0 replies      
In idiomatic Python, the only reason for class inheritance is for code reuse.

In other languages, especially Java, class hierarchies are a matter of self-esteem.

Javascript programmers could do worse than emulate Python in this regard.

mcv 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't he mostly complaining about lack of encapsulation? So what if you do encapsulate your data? That's totally possible in most programming languages, and it's even possible in javascript if you drop prototype inheritance. You can use closures to encapsulate your data.
SixSigma 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"Object Oriented design is the Roman Numerals of Computing" - Rob Pike

For more quotes see :


Another, seeing as it's PG :

"The phrase 'object-oriented' means a lot of things. Half are obvious, and the other half are mistakes." Paul Graham

vermooten 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Please can yo make the type in your blog even less readable? I think knocking back the grey so that it matches the background should do it - you're almost there just needs a tad more.
epx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Cocoa is good because, among other things, is treads lightly on class hiearchies.
buzzybee 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The most challenging aspect of inheritance modelling is to recognize it on its intrinsics - the deliberate creation of coupled properties and behaviors associated with the "isa" declaration - and not simply as a form of taxonomy.

Programmers are still inclined to use hierarchies. They are implicit to source code in a more general sense, with indentation, nested logic, etc. But we also need affordances to break up hierarchies and keep them limited.

menzoic 19 hours ago 0 replies      

  ChequingAccount.prototype.process = function (cheque) {    this.setBalance(this.getBalance() - cheque.amount());    return this;  }

foobarz24 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a design question I recently faced when building a simple multi-player game. The idea was pretty standard; The server sent events (player dies, player moves to pos, etc.) to its clients over a TCP socket. When programming the client in Java (for Android) I wanted a clean way to update the world based on the event type. In Haskell I would have done something like

data Event = PlayerDied Player Reason | PlayerMove Player Coords | ...

and use pattern matching on the event type. In C I would have used a combination of unions and structs with an event type. But how to do that in Java? I ended up with

interface Event { public update(Game g);}

and used e.g.

class DeathEvent implements Event {

  DeathEvent(String player, String reason) { ... }  update(Game g) {    g.killPlayer(player, reason);  }

Combined with a parsing function (public Event parse(String line) {...}) I could read from the socket and update the game in a convenient way, but to be fair I used that mostly because Java guys discourage you to use instanceof although it seemed clearer.

So is this the preferred way to do something like this? I think "they" (the OOP warriors) call this the Visitor pattern. However I really find the data-type encapsulation in Haskell and other languages (in Python a tuple (type, object) would do) superior. But maybe my Java just got rusty.

sgy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's pretty much a promotion/defense for SmallTalk.Why everybody has grudges against JavaScript?
graycat 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Another battle in the 60 year language warsbased on criteria that are so obscure thathave battles just over the darned criteria.
EGreg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
From a practical point of view, mixing in behavior and implementing via encapsulation is usually easier to maintain and extend than inheritance.
Amazon Is Downloading Apps From Google Play and Inspecting Them rajbala.com
286 points by rajbala  2 days ago   109 comments top 33
BrandonM 2 days ago 3 replies      
This seems to be the natural outcome of Amazon's excellent customer service policy, where they have on numerous occasions[0] refunded costs for hacked instances. When they commit to that policy, they have a huge incentive to limit customer security breaches.

I love examples like that where a company's policies result in incentives that are so well-aligned with those of their users. Does anyone have other good examples to share?

[0] https://securosis.com/blog/my-500-cloud-security-screwup and http://vertis.io/2013/12/17/an-update-on-my-aws-bill.html are two examples.

Aqueous 2 days ago 5 replies      
I don't think they are inspecting the app ; they don't need to. They can see that there are a higher-than-average number of API accesses from a given platform, using the AWS Secret Key as the login credential.
ch0wn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook does the same thing. I got a notice about an application I published years ago in March:

> Security Notice - Your App Secret

> We see that your app, XYZ, is embedding the Facebook integrations App Secret inside the Android Play Store app bundle for your app. This is a serious vulnerability that violates our published recommendations for proper login security. Someone with access to the app secret for your app can act on behalf of the app - this includes changing configurations for the app, accessing some types of information associated with people who have granted permissions to the app, and posting on behalf of those people.

> To mitigate this sizable risk, we have reset the app secret for your app. If your app is mobile-only, this should not cause any issues. If it has a server-side component, there is a greater likelihood that it has caused some issues for your app that you will need to address. Going forward, please do not include the app secret in your app bundle, or disclose it publicly. You can read more about app secrets and how to secure your Facebook app here.

justinph 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's actually kind of awesome. Good on Amazon for taking security seriously.
downandout 2 days ago 3 replies      
I see nothing wrong here. They are probably doing this now because it in fact a major problem, even with large, professionally developed apps. About 8 months ago I did a brief analysis of the then-current Vine apk and relatively quickly extracted their S3 credentials (they were not stored in plain text, but close enough). Very bad idea.
nknighthb 2 days ago 4 replies      
I understand perfectly how people end up mistakenly pushing credentials into public source repos when releasing server-side stuff. But I don't get how a seemingly sane person develops an application intended for distribution to the public which contains AWS credentials.

At what point in your development process do you say "I want this application, which will be distributed to unknown persons, to contain the means to control my AWS account."?

natch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone who reads the article can see that the author is drawing conclusions from conjecture.

"We were made aware" does not equal "we are downloading apps and inspecting them."

If they were doing that, that would be great! But let's not leap to conclusions.

smilliken 2 days ago 0 replies      
MixRank analyzes mobiles apps (android and ios) and we often see apps with embedded api secrets, private keys, and passwords. It's really surprising.

If you'd like to send an email like this to your users, send me an email (in profile) and I can query our database and check to see if any of them are including their api keys.

immad 2 days ago 3 replies      
Couldn't they just look at the user agent and know that the hit to their API is coming from an Android device rather than a server?
orblivion 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder how they would identify a string that appears to be an API secret, and queries their database for it. For every plausible string in every app? I guess they decompile it and find string literals of the correct length?
olalonde 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious why some apps need API to access to AWS. What's the use case? Surely not to spin up an EC2 instance when the user clicks a button? Save files to S3? I'm not being sarcastic, genuinely curious. And what's the proposed solution suggested by AWS?
jbert 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm being dumb. I can see that it is preferable to embed credentials for a restricted IAM acct, not your root/master AWS account.

But how does using a TVM improve the situation? Surely you still need to embed creds which allow the app to use the TVM? In that case, an attacker can extract those creds, and ask the TVM for a time-limited token any time they like.

How does using a TVM improve security over embedding the creds of a restricted account?

catshirt 2 days ago 0 replies      
great for them. i worked for an unnamed company who was shipping AWS credentials in clients for years. worse, they were not clients that required a packaged binary (no need to decompile). it's long since patched but i can't believe no one ever sniffed that out.
magic_haze 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does Google Play have a public API for downloading APKs? Does it work for paid apps as well? (I'm not able to construct good keywords for search here: Google thinks I'm looking for an APK for the store app instead)
happywolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I will think they inspect apps based on the number of hits generated to AWS.

The advantages of doing this are 1) showing Amazon thinks for the customers (well, also for itself) 2) proves it has pro-actively notified the customer and done its due diligence.

This step could serve as a solid proof in any dispute on later security issues or/and related costs.

Smart, I will say.

goombastic 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is probably a good thing and also automated.
woloski 23 hours ago 0 replies      
We wrote a blog post that shows how you can authenticate your users and get temporary security credentials from AWS based on the user tokens to avoid putting your keys on the client (both JavaScript apps in the browser or native apps). This technique is using Auth0 so you don't have to deploy a TVM and it works with all the APIs (S3, EC2, SQS, SES, etc.). Behind the scenes what we do is generating a SAML Token based on the user JSON Web Token and exchange that for AWS Temp Credentials using AssumeRoleWithSAML AWS API.


incogmind 2 days ago 1 reply      
They did a good thing, title feels slightly misguiding. Could they have figured it out based on API access locations being random?
mobiplayer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, this is very cool and an approach that some security companies are taking at the moment. "Security outside your network" they call it.

I'm myself working (side/pet project so far) in something similar. I don't have any working software at the moment but some "INTEL" and it is incredible how easy anyone would be able to compromise/hurt people and companies just using available information published by themselves.

If anyone more technical (I'm looking at you, devs!) wants to team up to create a service like this please get in touch.

Fasebook 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ultimately, Web Identity Federation or Federated Identity is the only way to secure apps in walled gardens, which means aligning yourself with a virtual land Barron. I, for one, welcome our new fiefdom overlords. Everything else is just pushing new credentials through temp credentials and obfuscating it with protocol complexity.
travelton 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope other developers see this and take action if they aren't properly securing cloud API keys. Data access by an unauthorized party is not something you want to deal with.
jhgg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if any malicious parties have been doing this as well.
rrtwo 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are common use cases for AWS in mobile apps? (where the app needs direct connection to AWS)
kayoone 2 days ago 0 replies      
a free security audit of your app, pretty cool ;)
3327 2 days ago 1 reply      
Was your source obfuscated?
bborud 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Amazon.
salvadormrf 2 days ago 0 replies      
They also scan for Keys on github. They are proactive in terms of security!
ediblenergy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or somebody else found it and notified Amazon.
hoboerectus 2 days ago 0 replies      
So am I.
snapclass 2 days ago 0 replies      
Go on you Amazon.
dalek2point3 1 day ago 2 replies      
is decompiling an app legal? does it not break someone's terms of service?
iancarroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the things that justifies the higher prices.


alttab 2 days ago 0 replies      
Conjecture, and I guess you're welcome? My guess is if you embedded your Google cloud credentials in your app and it was compromised Google would be happy to bill you, terminate your account, or otherwise provide zero latitude as a customer. At least they dropped their prices, right?
Tesla and SpaceX: Elon Musk's industrial empire [video] cbsnews.com
275 points by ahmadss  15 hours ago   114 comments top 24
coreymgilmore 13 hours ago 10 replies      
Musk is thinking 8 steps ahead of almost everyone. While Tesla is a huge play with revolutionizing the car world, there are some other parts in play.

First, his Gigafactory to produce batteries. When the other big automakers get into the electric car mindset, who are they going to buy batteries from? Musk who owns the single largest and high-tech battery factory (that produces on an enormous scale), or other battery producers who have less economies of scale and higher prices? Obviously, lower prices win and Musk ends up selling batteries to his competitors...genius.

Second, when other manufacturers get into the electric car game they are going to need nationwide chargers. Did you think that the Tesla and Supercharger of proprietary connectors for no reason? Since Tesla will have a huge nationwide system before anyone else, Musk will license the rights to use his chargers. Again, making money from the competition. Competitors will not have the ability to compete on charging when they release cars because Tesla will already have an established network.

As for SpaceX...thats a whole another post for another day.

caio1982 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I, for one, welcome Elon Musk's empire! He couldn't possibly be paying for all the hype, all the influence, backing a worldwide PR campaign about himself and his stunts. He's on the media simply because he's freaking awesome compared to other millionaires industrialists. Come on, look at what the guy has done so far... we need more Elons Musks. There, end of fanboyism :-)
pedalpete 12 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm only half way through, but so far, I find it very disappointing that CBS has not given credit to anybody else who Musk has worked with.

They discuss "you decided to start a car company", but it was started by two other engineers, and Musk came in as an investor first, and joined the company later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Motors It would have been nice to see Musk give some credit to the original visionaries. He's still very responsible for Tesla's success, but it wasn't JUST him.

Same with PayPal, it would have been nice for Musk to say "I stared PayPal with a few friends to..."

This report sadly gives nobody else any credit in the development of this empire.

bane 14 hours ago 3 replies      
He doesn't so much as say it, but show it in his eyes how much the NASA contract meant and how much passion he has.
l33tbro 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In the immortal words of Keanu Charles Reeves, "Whoa". So much admiration for this guy. For once, it's actually nice to see one of my heroes getting mainstream media coverage like this. The guy has broken through to the mainstream by being himself and staying true to his engineering roots. You look at a guy like Jobs and it was always such a hokey, patronizing, and calculated exercise with his Houdini-esque product launches. Elon's humility and grit should be an inspiration to all.
mas644 14 hours ago 1 reply      
elon = grit, as an entrepreneur when i have dark times, i'll read about him to get amped. my favorite quote: "Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; were going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, Im hell-bent on making it work." -- back in 2008 after the SpaceX Falcon rocket failed to make orbit 3 times. More context: http://dcurt.is/elon-musks-determination
antonioevans 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the parts of the interview that gave me chills was when they mentioned, Elon had seen the future and brought it back.

I think most of us on HN are building the future for a world that lives in the past and I think it's beautiful. We're trying to craft something that doesn't exist yet... but can.

Not many professions do that.

kayoone 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If he would have crashed and burned in 2008 (and he was very very close to it) mankind literally would have lost a few decades of advancement i guess.
andrewtbham 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Since the car is so quiet... I wonder if the noise the car makes on these clips is an overdub.
dingaling 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> When the other big automakers get into the electric car mindset, who are they going to buy batteries from?

Umm... LG? They have an enormous operation already supplying GM and Renault, two big rivals.

gavinpc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who got an ad for Chevrolet? Pretty awesome that GM helped pay for the segment.

(Also for Viagra... not sure about that one.)

mavdi 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Imagine the kind of scum it would take to bet against Tesla's success.

Here is Musk, improving human life, clearing our air and probably taking us to Mars one day and on the opposite, we have scumbags waiting to make a quick buck and working actively, bribing legislatures to make Tesla a failure.

tbolse 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how fast everyone forgets the real founders of Tesla: Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, and all credit is put on Elon. I am sure he deserves a lot of credit for his foresight, strategic decisions and also his execution... Bottom line he bought himself into the electric car game, which was itself a very good strategic move.
lugg 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone have a mobile link that works?

edit: link

kayoone 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is that old footage ? Just wondering because it portrays his second wife Talulah Riley, but (german) wikipedia states they have been divorced for 2 years already.
davidiach 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does it show in this interview that Musk is married to Talulah Riley? Are they not divorced?
technophilliac 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In this world, where everyone finds everything with Google, Elon is one of the few persons thinking through his mind..More here: http://techgeekforever.com/2014/02/20/elon-musk-one-man-who-...Found this on StumbleUpon
hyp0 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Be like Musk: don't give up til you've failed three times... and given it one more try.
mike2477 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely makes me want to buy Tesla stock. My guess is that Elon is on a road show to get the stock price back up. He'll probably stop by New York Times, ABC and others this week and the stock price will shoot back up to $230.
jeffreyrufino 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Love live Elon Musk!I'll be buying a Telsa when it comes to Australia
NN88 8 hours ago 0 replies      
LOL at the part about his wife.
rokhayakebe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
While we are on the subject, I would love to see "car chassis + engine + trans" as a service.
Jarred 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the most interesting thing about Tesla is it's applicability to SpaceX. If the goal of Tesla is to provide a better energy source (where "better" is defined as capacity and environmentally friendly) and SpaceX's primary constraint is the energy source, then long-term they'll be the same company.
tambourine_man 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What's important to Musk is reducing green house gas, which he believes, threaten the world

That kind of phrasing annoys me deeply, it tries to spin scientific consensus as if it's a disputed issue.

Toward a better programming chris-granger.com
269 points by ibdknox  2 days ago   181 comments top 49
kens 2 days ago 11 replies      
I alternate between thinking that programming has improved tremendously in the past 30 years, and thinking that programming has gone nowhere.

On the positive side, things that were cutting-edge hard problems in the 80s are now homework assignments or fun side projects. For instance, write a ray tracer, a spreadsheet, Tetris, or an interactive GUI.

On the negative side, there seems to be a huge amount of stagnation in programming languages and environments. People are still typing the same Unix commands into 25x80 terminal windows. People are still using vi to edit programs as sequential lines of text in files using languages from the 80s (C++) or 90s (Java). If you look at programming the Eniac with patch cords, we're obviously a huge leap beyond that. But if you look at programming in Fortran, what we do now isn't much more advanced. You'd think that given the insane increases in hardware performance from Moore's law, that programming should be a lot more advanced.

Thinking of Paul Graham's essay "What you can't say", if someone came from the future I expect they would find our current programming practices ridiculous. That essay focuses on things people don't say because of conformity and moral forces. But I think just as big an issue is things people don't say because they literally can't say them - the vocabulary and ideas don't exist. That's my problem - I can see something is very wrong with programming, but I don't know how to explain it.

freyrs3 2 days ago 3 replies      
This strikes me as armchair philosophizing about the nature of programming language design. Programming languages are not intentionally complex in most cases, they're complex because the problems they solve are genuinely hard and not because we've artificially made them that way.

There is always a need for two types of languages, higher level domain languages and general purpose languages. Building general purpose languages is a process of trying to build abstractions that always have a well-defined translation into something the machine understands. It's all about the cold hard facts of logic, hardware and constraints. Domain languages on the other hand do exactly what he describes, "a way of encoding thought such that the computer can help us", such as Excel or Matlab, etc. If you're free from the constraint of having to compile arbitrary programs to physical machines and can instead focus on translating a small set of programs to an abstract machine then the way you approach the language design is entirely different and the problems you encounter are much different and often more shallow.

What I strongly disagree with is claiming that the complexities that plague general purpose languages are somehow mitigated by building more domain specific languages. Let's not forget that "programming" runs the whole gamut from embedded systems programming in assembly all the way to very high level theorem proving in Coq and understanding anything about the nature of that entire spectrum is difficult indeed.

RogerL 2 days ago 4 replies      
There's a reason the game Pictionary is hard, despite the "a picture is worth a thousand words" saying. And that is that images, while evocative, are not very precise. Try to draw how you feel.

If you are using card[0][12] to refer to Card::AceSpades, well, time to learn enums or named constants. If, on the other hand, the array can be sorted, shuffled, and so on, what value is it to show an image of a specific state in my code?

There's a reason we don't use symbolic representation of equations, and it has nothing to do with ASCII. It's because this is implemented on a processor that simulates a continuous value with a discrete value, which introduces all kinds of trade offs. We have a live thread on that now: why is aaaaaa not (aaa)(aaa). I need to be able to represent exactly how the computation is done. If I don't care, there is Mathematica, and and the like, to be sure.

If you disagree with me, please post your response in the form of an image. And then we will have a discussion with how powerful textual representation actually is. I'll use words, you use pictures. Be specific.

j2kun 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm concerned about Chris's desire to express mathematical formulas directly in an editing environment.

Coming from a mathematician with more than enough programming experience under his belt, programming is far more rigorous than mathematics. The reason nobody writes math in code is not because of ASCII, and it's not even because of the low-level hardware as someone else mentioned. It's because math is so jam-packed with overloaded operators and ad hoc notation that it would be an impossible feat to standardize any nontrivial subset of it. This is largely because mathematical notation is designed for compactness, so that mathematicians don't have to write down so much crap when trying to express their ideas. Your vision is about accessibility and transparency and focusing on problem solving. Making people pack and unpack mathematical notation to understand what their program is doing goes against all three of those!

So where is this coming from?

PS. I suppose you could do something like, have layovers/mouseovers on the typeset math that give a description of the variables, or something like that, but still sum(L) / len(L) is so much simpler and more descriptive than \sigma x_i / n

Detrus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Toward a better computer UI

The Aurora demo did not look like a big improvement until maybe http://youtu.be/L6iUm_Cqx2s?t=7m54s where the TodoMVC demo beats even Polymer in LOC count and readability.

I've been thinking of similar new "programming" as the main computer UI, to ensure it's easy to use and the main UI people know. Forget Steve Jobs and XEROX, they threw out the baby with the bath water.

Using a computer is really calling some functions, typing some text input in between, calling some more.

Doing a few common tasks today is

  opening a web browser  clicking Email  reading some  replying  getting a reply back, possibly a notification  clicking HN  commenting on an article in a totally different UI than email  going to threads tab manually to see any response  
And the same yet annoyingly different UI deal on another forum, on youtube, facebook, etc. Just imagine what the least skilled computer users could do if you gave them a computing interface that didn't reflect the world of fiefdoms that creates it.

FaceTwitterEtsyRedditHN fiefdoms proliferate because of the separation between the XEROX GUI and calling a bunch of functions in Command Line. Siri and similar AI agents are the next step in simple UIs. What people really want to do is

  tell Dustin you don't agree with his assessment of Facebook's UI changes  type/voice your disagreement  share with public
And when you send Dustin and his circle of acquaintances a more private message, you

  type it  share message with Dustin and his circle of designers/hackers
To figure out if more people agreed with you or Dustin

  sentiment analysis of comments about Dustin's article compared to mine
That should be the UI more or less. Implement it however, natural language, Siri AI, a neat collection of functions.

Today's UI would involve going to a cute blog service because it has a proper visual template. This requires being one of the cool kids and knowing of this service. Then going to Goolge+ or email for the more private message. Then opening up an IDE or some text sentiment API and going through their whole other world of incantations.

Our glue/CRUD programming is a mess because using computers in general is a mess.

zwieback 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting work and I really liked the LightTable video but I think there's a reason these types of environments haven't taken off.

To understand why programming remains hard it just takes a few minutes of working on a lower-level system, something that does a little I/O or has a couple of concurrent events, maybe an interrupt or two. I cannot envision a live system that would allow me to debug those systems very well, which is not to say current tools couldn't be improved upon.

One thing I've noticed working with embedded ARM systems is that we now have instruction and sometimes data trace debuggers that let us rewind the execution of a buggy program to some extent. The debugger workstations are an order of magnitude more powerful than the observed system so we can do amazing things with our trace probes. However, high-level software would need debugging systems an order of magnitude more powerful than the client they debug as well.

michaelsbradley 2 days ago 1 reply      
Chris, have you read Prof. David Harel's[1] essay Can Programming be Liberated, Period?[2]

The sentiments expressed in the conclusion of Harel's article Statecharts in the Making: A Personal Account[3] really jumped out at me last year. When I read your blog post, I got the impression you are reaching related conclusions:

"If asked about the lessons to be learned from the statecharts story, I would definitely put tool support for executability and experience in real-world use at the top of the list. Too much computer science research on languages, methodologies, and semantics never finds its way into the real world, even in the long term, because these two issues do not get sufficient priority.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is the fact that the work was not done in an academic tower, inventing something and trying to push it down the throats of real-world engineers. It was done by going into the lion's den, working with the people in industry. This is something I would not hesitate to recommend to young researchers; in order to affect the real world, one must go there and roll up one's sleeves. One secret is to try to get a handle on the thought processes of the engineers doing the real work and who will ultimately use these ideas and tools. In my case, they were the avionics engineers, and when I do biological modeling, they are biologists. If what you come up with does not jibe with how they think, they will not use it. It's that simple."

[1] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers.html

[2] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers/LiberatingPro...

[3] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers/Statecharts.H...

mamcx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Natural language (like english, spanish) show why this kind of thinking lead to nowhere, and why a programming language is more like english than like glyphs.

Sometime the post not say: We want to make a program about everything. To make that possible, is necesary a way to express everything that could be need to be communicate. Words/Alphabet provide the best way.

In a normal language, when a culture discover something (let say, internet) and before don't exist words to describe internet-things then it "pop" from nowhere to existence. Write language have this ability in better ways than glyphs.

In programming, if we need a way to express how loop things, then will "pop" from nowhere that "FOR x IN Y" is how that will be.

Words are more flexible. Are cheap to write. Faster to communicate and cross boundaries.

But of course that have a Editor helper so a HEX value could be show as a color is neat - But then if a HEX value is NOT a color?, then you need a very strong type system, and I not see how build one better than with words.

crusso 2 days ago 1 reply      
I liked this article. I particularly liked the way the author attacked the problem by clearing his notions of what programming is and attempting to come at it from a new angle. I'll be interested to see what his group comes up with.

That said, I think that fundamentally the problem isn't with programming, it's with US. :) Human beings are imprecise, easily confused by complexity, unable to keep more than a couple of things in mind at a time, can't think well in dimensions beyond 3 (if that), unable to work easily with abstractions, etc. Yet we're giving instructions to computers which are (in their own way) many orders of magnitude better at those tasks.

Short of AI that's able to contextually understand what we're telling them to do, my intuition is that the situation is only going to improve incrementally.

chenglou 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a tremendous respect for people who dare to dream big despite all cynicism and common assumptions, and especially people who have the skills to actually make the changes. Please keep doing the work you're doing.
SlyShy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wolfram Language addresses a lot of these points. Equations and images both get treated symbolically, so we can manipulate them the same way we manipulate the rest of the "code" (data).
sold 2 days ago 2 replies      
The standard deviation is a poor example IMO, in many languages you can get much closer to mathematical notation.

    def stddev(x):        avg = sum(x)/len(x)        return sqrt(sum((xi-avg)**2 for xi in x) / len(x))    stddev xs = let avg = sum xs / length xs                in sqrt $ sum [(x-avg)**2 | x <- xs] / length xs

PaulAJ 2 days ago 0 replies      
The standard deviation example conflates two questions:

1: Why can't we use standard mathematical notation instead of strings of ASCII?

2: Why do we need lots of control flow and libraries when implementing a mathematical equation as an algorithm.

The first is simple: as others have pointed out here, math notation is too irregular and informal to make a programming language out of it.

The second is more important. In pretty much any programming language I can write:

    d = sqrt (b^2 - 4*a*c)    x1 = (-b + d)/(2*a)    x2 = (-b - d)/(2*a)
which is a term-by-term translation of the quadratic equation. But when I want to write this in C++ I need a loop to evaluate the sigma term.

But in Haskell I can write this:

    stDev :: [Double] -> Double    stDev xs = sqrt((1/(n-1)) * sum (map (\x -> (x-m)^2)) xs)       where          n = fromIntegral $ length xs          m = sum xs / n
This is a term-by-term translation of the formula, in the same way that the quadratic example was. Just as I use "sqrt" instead of the square root sign I use "sum" instead of sigma and "map" with a lambda expression to capture the internal expression.

Experienced programmers will note that this is an inefficient implementation because it iterates over the list three times, which illustrates the other problem with using mathematics; the most efficient algorithm is often not the most elegant one to write down.

jostylr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Both the indirect and incidentally complex can be helped with literate programming. We have been telling stories for thousands of years and the idea of literate programming is to facilitate that. We do not just tell them in a linear order, but jump around in whatever way makes sense. It is about understanding the context of the code which can be hard.

But the problem of being unobservable is harder. Literate programming might help in making chunks more accessible for understanding/replacing/toggling, but live flow forwards-backwards, it would not. But I have recently coded up an event library that logs the flow of the program nicely. Used appropriately, it probably could be used to step in and out as well.

I am not convinced that radical new tools are needed. We just have to be true to our nature as storytellers.

I find it puzzling why he talks about events as being problems. They seem like ideal ways of handling disjointed states. Isn't that how we organize our own ways?

I also find it puzzling to promote Excel's model. I find it horrendous. People have done very complex things with it which are fragile and incomprehensible. With code, you can read it and figure it out; literate programming helps this tremendously. But with something like Excel or XCode's interface builder, the structure is obscured and is very fragile. Spreadsheets are great for data entry, but not for programming-type tasks.

I think creation is rather easy; it is maintenance that is hard. And for that, you need to understand the code.

jakejake 2 days ago 0 replies      
I liked the part of the article concerning "what is programming" and how we seemingly see ourselves plumbers and glue makers - mashing together various parts and trying to get them to work.

I felt that the article takes a somewhat depressing view. Sure, these days we probably do all spend a lot of time getting two pieces of code written by others to work together. The article suggests there's no fun or creativity in that, but I find it plenty interesting. I see it as standing on the shoulders of giants, rather than just glumly fitting pipes together. It's the payoff of reusable code and modular systems. I happily use pre-made web servers, operating systems, network stack, code libraries etc. Even though it can be frustrating at times when things don't work, in the end my creations wouldn't even be possible without these things.

andrewl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Chris' criticisms of the current state of programming remind me of Alan Kay's quote, "Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves."

Thank you for all the work on Light Table, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the team does with Aurora.

jonahx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love seeing the challenges of programming analyzed from this high-level perspective, and I love Chris's vision.

I thought the `person.walk()` example, however, was misplaced. The whole point of encapsulation is to avoid thinking about internal details, so if you are criticizing encapsulation for hiding internal details you are saying that encapsulation never has any legitimate use.

I was left wondering if that was Chris's position, but convinced it couldn't be.

bachback 2 days ago 1 reply      
Leibniz wrote in 1666:"We have spoken of the art of complication of the sciences, i.e., of inventive logic... But when the tables of categories of our art of complication have been formed, something greater will emerge. For let the first terms, of the combination of which all others consist, be designated by signs; these signs will be a kind of alphabet. It will be convenient for the signs to be as natural as possiblee.g., for one, a point; for numbers, points; for the relations of one entity with another, lines; for the variation of angles and of extremities in lines, kinds of relations. If these are correctly and ingeniously established, this universal writing will be as easy as it is common,and will be capable of being read without any dictionary; at the same time, a fundamental knowledge of all things will be obtained. The whole of such a writing will be made of geometrical figures, as it were, and of a kind of pictures just as the ancient Egyptians did, and the Chinese do today. Their pictures, however, are not reduced to a fixed alphabet... with the result that a tremendous strain on the memory is necessary, which is the contrary of what we propose"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characteristica_universalis
phantomb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Historically it has been easy to claim that programming is merely incidentally complex but hard to actually produce working techniques that can dispel the complexity.

The truth is that programming is one of the most complex human undertakings by nature, and many of the difficulties faced by programmers - such as the invisible and unvisualizable nature of software - are intractable.

There are still no silver bullets.


qnaal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hate to break it to you people, but rms was always right- the #1 reason why programming sucks is that everyone wants complete control over all of the bullshit they threw together and thought they could sell.

Imagine an environment like a lisp machine, where all the code you run is open and available for you to inspect and edit.Imagine a vast indexed, cross-referenced, and mass-moderated collection of algorithm implementations and code snippets for every kind of project that's ever been worked on, at your fingertips.

Discussing how we might want slightly better ways to write and view the code we have written is ignoring the elephant problem- that everything you write has probably been written cleaner and more efficiently several times before.

If you don't think that's fucked up, think about this:The only reason to lock down your code is an economic one, despite that all the code being made freely usable would massively increase the total economic value of the software ecosystem.

programminggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
You want better programming? Get better requirements and less complexity. Programming languages and IDE's are part of the problem, but a lot of the problems come from the actual program requirements.

In many cases, it's the edge cases and feature creep that makes software genuinely terrible and by the time you layer in all that knowledge, it is a mess.

I don't care if you use VIM, EMACS, Visual Studio, or even some fancy graphical programming system. Complexity is complexity and managing and implementing that complexity is a complex thing.

Until we have tools to better manage complexity, we will have messes and the best tool to manage complexity are communication related, not software related.

arh68 2 days ago 0 replies      
> programming is our way of encoding thought such that the computer can help us with it.

I really liked this. But I think we're encoding work, not thought.

If I could add to the list of hard problems: cache invalidation, naming things, encoding things.

I think the problem in a lot of cases is that the language came first, then the problem/domain familiarity comes later. When your language lines up with your problem, it's just a matter of implementing the language. Your algorithms then don't change over time, just the quality of that DSL's implementation.

anaphor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just a few quotes from Alan Perlis:

There will always be things we wish to say in our programs that in all known languages can only be said poorly.

Re graphics: A picture is worth 10K words - but only those to describe the picture. Hardly any sets of 10K words can be adequately described with pictures.

Make no mistake about it: Computers process numbers - not symbols. We measure our understanding (and control) by the extent to which we can arithmetize an activity.

JoelOtter 2 days ago 2 replies      
Forgive me if my understanding is totally out of whack, but it seems here that the writer is calling for an additional layer of abstraction in programming - type systems being an example.

While in some cases that would be great, I'm not entirely sure more abstraction is what I want. Having a decent understanding of the different layers involved, from logic gates right up to high-level languages, has helped me tremendously as a programmer. For example, when writing in C, because I know some of the optimisations GCC makes, I know where to sacrifice efficiency for readability because the compiler will optimise it out anyway. I would worry that adding more abstraction will create more excuses not to delve into the inner workings, which wouldn't be to a programmer's benefit. Interested to hear thoughts on this!

analyst74 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am optimistic about our field.

Things have not stayed stale for the past 20~30 years, in fact, state of programming have not stayed stale even in the recent 10 years.

We've been progressively solving problems we face, inventing tools, languages, frameworks to make our lives easier. Which further allows us to solve more complicated problems, or similar problems faster.

Problems we face now, like concurrency, big data, lack of cheap programmers to solve business problems were not even problems before, they are now, because they are possible now.

Once we solve those problems of today, we will face new problems, I don't know what they would be, but I am certain many of them would be problems we consider impractical or even impossible today.

agentultra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Visual representations are not terribly hard to come by in this day any age. It's almost trivial to write a little script that can visualize your tree data-structures or relations. Plenty of good environments allow us to mingle all kinds of data.

I'm more interested in programs that understand programs and their run-time characteristics. It'd be nice to query a system that could predict regressions in key performance characteristics based on a proposed change (something like a constraint propagation solver on a data-flow graph of continuous domains); even in the face of ambiguous type information. Something like a nest of intelligent agents that can handle the complexity of implementation issues in concert with a human operator. We have a lot of these tools now but they're still so primitive.

Locke1689 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author is correct that programming is currently under-addressing a specific set of use cases: solving problems with conceptually simple models in equally simple ways; in other words, "keep simple programs simple."

However, thinking about computation as only simple programs minimizes the opportunities in the opposite domain: using computation to supplement the inherently fragile and limited modeling that human brains can perform.

While presenting simplicity and understanding can help very much in realizing a simple mental model as a program, it won't help if the program being written is fundamentally beyond the capability of a human brain to model.

The overall approach is very valuable. Tooling can greatly assist both goals, but the tooling one chooses in each domain will vary greatly.

3rd3 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this article forgot to emphasize the act of reading documentation which probably takes 25% to 50% of the time programming. I think Google and StackOverflow already greatly improved it but maybe there is still room for improvement. Maybe one can crowd source code snippets in a huge Wikipedia-like repository for various languages. Im imagining a context-sensitive auto-complete and search tool in which one can quickly browse this repository of code snippets which all are prepared to easily adapt to existing variables and function names.
dude42 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly I feel that LT has jumped the shark at this point. What started off as a cool new take on code editors has now somehow turned into a grand view of how to "fix programming". I can get behind an editor not based around text files, or one that allows for easy extensbility. But I can't stand behind some project that tries to "fix everything".

As each new version of LT comes out I feel that it's suffering more and more from a clear lack of direction. And that makes me sad.

hibikir 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are entire families of problems that would be better solved with a far more visual approach to code. For instance, worrydream has some UX concepts on learnable programming that just feel much better than what we use today.

We could do similar things to visualize actor systems, handle database manipulation and the like. The problem is that all we are really doing is asking for visualization aids that are only good at small things, and we have to build them, one at a time. Without general purpose visualizations, we need toolsets to build visualizations, which needs more tools. It's tools all the way down.

You can build tools for a narrow niche, just like the lispers just build their DSLs for each individual problem. But even in a world without a sea of silly parenthesis and a syntax that is built for compilers, not humans, under every single line of easy, readable, domain-centric code lies library code that is 100% incidental complexity, and we can't get rid of it.

Languages are hard. Writing code that attempts to be its own language is harder still. But those facts are not really the problem: They are a symptom. The real problem is that we are not equipped to deal with the detail we need to do our jobs.

Let's take, for instance, our carefree friends that want to build contracts on top of Bitcoin, by making them executable. I am sure a whole lot of people here realize their folly: The problem is that no problem that is really worth putting into a contract is well defined enough to turn it into code. We work with a level of ambiguity that our computers can't deal with. So what we are doing, build libraries on top of libraries, each a bit better, is about as good a job as we can do.

I do see how, for very specific domains, we can find highly reusable, visual high level abstractions. But the effort required to build that, with the best tools out there, just doesn't make any practical sense for a very narrow domain: We can build it, but there is no ROI.

I think the best we can do today is to, instead of concentrate so much on how shiny each new tool really is, to go back to the real basics of what makes a program work. The same things that made old C programs readable works just as well in Scala, but without half the boilerplate. We just have to forget about how exciting the new toys can be, or how smart they can make us feel, and evaluate them just on the basis of how can they really help us solve problems faster. Applying proper technique, like having code that has a narrative and consistent abstraction levels, will help us build tools faster, and therefore make it cheaper to, eventually, allow for more useful general purpose visualization plugins.

dmoney 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I'd like for programming is a universal translator. Somebody writes a program in Java or Lisp, and I can read and modify it in Python and the author can read my changes in their own pet language. I write an Ant script and you can consume it with rubygems. You give me a program compiled into machine language or Java or .NET bytecode and I can read it in Python and run my modified version in the JVM, CLR, Mac, iPhone, Android, browser. Transparently, only looking at what the source language was if I get curious.
datawander 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wholly agree with this article. The exact point the author is getting at is something that I have been trying to say, but rather inarticulately (probably because I didn't actually go out and survey people and define "what is programming and what is wrong with it").

I really can't wait for programming to be more than just if statements and thinking about code as a grouping of ascii files and glueing libraries together. Things like Akka are nice steps in that direction.

DennisP 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope the production release will be editable by keyboard alone, instead of needing the mouse for every little thing.
clavalle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm intrigued.

This is a problem that many, many very smart people have spent careers on. Putting out a teaser post is brave and I have to believe you know what you are doing.

I am looking forward to the first taste. Do you have an ETA ?

3rd3 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think a lot could be won by reducing complexity of the systems. In modern operating systems we stack too many abstraction layers ontop of each other. Emacs is a great example of a development environment which prevents a lot of complexity because everything is written in one language (Emacs Lisp), functions are available throughout the system, one can rewrite functions at runtime and one can easily pinpoint the source code of any function with the find-function command. It would actually be great to have an operating system as simple, extensible and flexible.
zapov 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who is trying to improve the situation (https://dsl-platform.com) it's strange getting feedback from other developers. While we are obviously not very good at marketing, when you talk to other developers about programming done on a higher level of abstraction usual responses are:

* I'm not interested in your framework (even if it's not a framework)* so you've built another ORM just like many before you (even if there is no ORM inside it)* not interested in your language, I can get most of what I need writing comments in php (even if it's not remotely the same)

It takes a lot of time to transfer some of the ideas and benefits to the other side and no, you can't do it in a one minute pitch that average developer can relate to.

e12e 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering, did the author ever play with Smalltalk/Self? Essentially those environments let you interact with objects directly, in about as much as makes sense. Seems a good fit for the "card game" complaint.

Doesn't help with the mathematical notation, though (Although it would be possible to do something about that, I suppose).

NAFV_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Writing a program is an error-prone exercise in translation. Even math, from which our programming languages are born, has to be translated into something like this:

The article then compares some verbose C++ with a mathematical equation. That is hardly a fair comparison, the C++ code can be written and read by a human in a text editor, right click the equation > inspect element ... it's a gif. I loaded the gif into a text editor, it's hardcore gibberish.

Personally, I would stick with the verbose C++.

lstroud 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems reminiscent of the "wolfram language" stuff a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps it's a trend, but I can't shake the feeling like I am seeing a rehash of the 4GL fiasco of the 90s.

I have a lot of respect for Chris. So, I hope I am wrong.

mc_hammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
i have to disagree somewhat. imho the difference is in abstraction. i think good forms of abstraction have allowed computing proceed as far as it has, and will allow it to proceed further.

i think abstraction may correllate with a ide or librarys usefulness, popularity, and development time, moreso than what your video demonstrates.

i have a question, how many clicks would getting this snippet from above to work?

you also have to navigate various dropdown menus? (dropdowns are pretty terrible UI, and i would think reading diff dropdown lists im not familar with would be jarring.) IMHO it would be like writing software with 2 mouse buttons, dropdowns or other visual elements, and instead of with keyboard, and would actually be slower. the opposite of my point above

    #include <valarray>    #include <iostream>        double standard_dev(const std::valarray<double> &vals)    {    return sqrt(pow(vals - (vals.sum() / vals.size()), 2).sum() / vals.size());    }        int main()    {    std::cout << standard_dev({2, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 7, 8}) << '\n';    }

sdgsdgsdg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is taking the patterns which make up a thought and approximate them in the patterns which can be expressed in a programming language. Sometimes the thoughts we have are not easily expressed in the patterns of the computer language which we write in. What is needed is a computer language which pulls the patterns from our thoughts and allows them to be used within the computer language. In other words we need to automatically determine the correct language in which to express the particular problem a user is trying to solve. This is AI, we need compression - modularisation of phase space through time. The only way to bring about the paradigm shift he is describing in any real sense is to apply machine learning to programming.
AdrianRossouw 2 days ago 0 replies      
man. i've been thinking about this stuff a lot.

especially after I saw rich hickey's presentation "simple made easy" (my notes on it [1]).

I'm actually on a mission now to find ways to do things that are more straight forward. One of my finds is [2] 'microservices', which I think will resonate with how I perceive software these days.

[1] http://daemon.co.za/2014/03/simple-and-easy-vocabulary-to-de...[2] http://martinfowler.com/articles/microservices.html

ilaksh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been saying stuff like this for years, although not as eloquently or detailed. But now Chris Granger is saying it, and no one can say he's not a "real" programmer, so you have to listen.

I think it boils down to a cultural failure, like the article mentions at the end. For example, I am a programmer myself. Which means that I generate and work with lots of static, cryptic colorful ASCII text program sources. If I stop doing that, I'm not a programmer anymore. By definition. I really think that is the definition of programming, and that is the big issue.

I wonder if the current version of Aurora derives any inspiration from "intentional programming"?

Also wonder when we can see a demo of the new version.

leishulang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds so philosophical ... almost sounds like something to do with how to get strong A.I and expecting some sort of universal answer ... such as 42.
GnarfGnarf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Chris Granger sure doesn't make it easy to contact him.
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been lucky to write at least one small application per year, although most of my work is now on the creative side: books, videos, web pages, and such.

So I find myself getting "cold" and then coming back into it. The thing about taking a week to set up a dev environment is spot on. It's completely insane that it should take a week of work just to sit down and write a for-next loop or change a button's text somewhere.

The problem with programming is simple: it's full of programmers. So every damn little thing they do, they generalize and then make into a library. Software providers keep making languages do more -- and become correspondingly more complex.

When I switched to Ocaml and F# a few years ago, I was astounded at how little I use most of the crap clogging up my programming system. I also found that while writing an app, I'd create a couple dozen functions. I'd use a couple dozen more from the stock libraries. And that was it. 30-40 symbols in my head and I was solving real-world problems making people happy.

Compare that to the mess you can get into just getting started in an environment like C++. Crazy stuff.

There's also a serious structural problem with OOP itself. Instead of hiding complexity and providing black-box components to clients, we're creating semi-opaque non-intuitive messes of "wires". A lot of what I'm seeing people upset about in the industry, from TDD to stuff like this post, has its roots in OOP.

Having said all that and agreeing with the author, I'm a bit lost as to just what the heck he is ranting on about. I look forward to seeing more real tangible stuff -- I understand he's working on it. Best of luck.

aoakenfo 2 days ago 0 replies      
demonstrates an immediate connection with their tool: http://vimeo.com/36579366
jeffbr13 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love Chris Granger's work, and LightTable, but jeeez my eyes were going weird by the "Chasing Local Maxima" section.

Turn the contrast down!

The Mill It just might Work engbloms.se
249 points by dochtman  4 days ago   94 comments top 17
Symmetry 4 days ago 4 replies      
It's really exciting, but here are a few worries I have about their ability to meet their performance claims:

1) I don't see that they'll be able to save much power on their cache hierarchy relative to conventional machines. Sure, backless memory will save them some traffic but on the other hand they won't e able to take advantage of the sorts of immense optimization resources that Intel has, so that fraction of chip power to performance isn't going away.

2) The bypass network on a conventional out of order chip takes up an amount of power similar to the execution units, and I expect that the Mill's belt will be roughly equivalent.

3) I'm worried on the software front. The differences between how they and LLVM handle pointer is causing them trouble, and porting an OS to the Mill looks to be a pretty complicated business compared to most other architectures. It's certainly not impossible, but it's still a big problem if they're worried about adoption.

All of which is to say, I think the 10x they're talking about is unrealistic. The Mill is full of horribly clever ideas which I'm really excited about and I do think their approach seems workable and advantageous, but I'd expect 3x at most when they've had time to optimize. The structures in a modern CPU that provide out of order execution and the top-level TLB are big and power hungry, but they're not 90% of power use.

If they're going to hit it big they'll probably start out in high-end embedded. Anything where you have a RTOS running on a fast processor, and your set of software is small enough that porting it all isn't a big problem.

Also, the metadata isn't like a None in Python, it's like a Maybe in Haskell! You can string them together and only throw an exception on side effects in a way that makes speculation (and vector operation) in this machine much nicer.

EDIT: Whatever the result of the Mill itself, it contains a large number of astoundingly clever ideas some of which would be useful even without all the other ideas. Like you could drop in Mill load semantics to most in-order processors and you'd have to do something different with how they interact with function calls but it would still be pretty useful.

EDIT2: I may sound pessimistic above, but I would still totally give them money if I were a registered investor. The outside view just says that new processors that try to change lots of things at once is pretty bad even if, on the inside view, they have a good story for how their going to overcome the challenges they'll face.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am really rooting for these folks, after going to a talk on it last year about this time and trying to everything thing I could to pick it apart (they had good answers for all my questions) I felt confident that its going to be a pretty awesome architecture. Assuming that reducing to practice all of their great ideas doesn't reveal some amazing 'gotcha', I'm hoping to get an eval system.

The thing I'm most closely watching are the compiler stuff since this was such a huge issue on Itanium (literally 6x difference in code execution speed just from compiler changes) and putting some structured data (pointer chasing) type applications through their paces which is always a good way to flush out memory/cpu bottlenecks.

cromwellian 3 days ago 2 replies      
I actually had high hopes for Sun's Rock architecture, which had a rather elegant hardware-scout/speculative threading system to hide memory latencies, and instead of a reorder-buffer they had a neat checkpoint table, that simultaneously gave you out of order retirement, as well as hardware support for software transactional memory.

Alas, it looked good on paper, but died in practice, either because the theory was flawed (but academic simulations seemed to suggest it would be a win), or because Sun didn't have the resources to invest in it properly and Oracle killed it.

Claiming a breakthrough in VLIW static scheduling that yields 2.3x seems interesting, but the reality made be different, not to mention what kinds of workloads would get these speedups. If you compare the way NVidia and AMD's GPUs work, in particular AMD's, they rely heavily on static analysis, but in the end, extracting max performance is highly dependent on structuring your workload to deal with the way the underlying architecture executes kernels.

If it turns out you have to actually restructure your code to get this 2.3x performance, rather than gcc-recompile with a different architecture, then it's not really an apples-to-apples speedup.

vietor 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's easy* to build a dramatically better performing and more efficient CPU than currently available if you don't have to restrict yourself to the code and compilers currently available.

The exciting thing to me is that between wider availability of open source compilers and code, and a larger amount of user level code being written in interpreted languages (so only the language runtime needs to be rebuilt), there might actually be a future in alternative architectures.

* As these things go...

dochtman 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the compilers would be like. If these guys contribute, say, an LLVM backend, that would make it so much easier to support.
dkhenry 4 days ago 1 reply      
So where do I buy one and test it myself. I love the theory, and some of the claims are awesome, but I am reminded of the Cell-BE and the chatter around it at release time. It wasen't untill we got the Cell into the hands of developers that we learned it's real limitations. I want a Mill I can write programs for and run benchmarks against. My benchmarks on my bench.
WhitneyLand 3 days ago 3 replies      
Who is this guy? Where can you teach post-doc computer science without ever having taken a course in CS, let alone a degree?

Obviously a degree is not a necessary condition for success and it's always bothered me that people like Michael Faraday had to battle academic and class prejudice before changing the world.

However I don't think it's unreasonable to see a bio of past projects/companies/research papers.

"Despite having taught Computer Science at the graduate and post-doctorate levels, he has no degrees and has never taken a course in Computer Science"

Brashman 4 days ago 1 reply      
What differentiates Mill with Itanium?

Also, what are the 2.3x power/performance improvements based on? Is there silicon for this?

rayiner 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a detailed description of the architecture: http://millcomputing.com/topic/introduction-to-the-mill-cpu-....

It describes Mill's approach to specifying inter-instruction dependencies, grouping instructions, and handling variable-latency memory instructions.

nly 3 days ago 1 reply      
My biggest concern is Intel will just buy and bury it.
Xdes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait to buy a Mill and mess around with it. Hopefully it isn't more expensive than current desktop or server processors.
comatose_kid 4 days ago 2 replies      
I worked on a VLIW processor long ago and it had a theoretical peak of 700 MIPS (iirc) back in 2000. It was a neat architecture but required fairly low level knowledge to get the most out of it.
DiabloD3 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want to replace every computer in the world with this.
JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 1 reply      
How is this different from a convention register model, where the compiler stores each result into a new register round-robin? That would be a belt too.
panduwana 3 days ago 2 replies      
If the belt operation can be changed from the current "take any two items on belt, process them, put the result to the front of belt" to "take two front-most items on belt, process them, put the result anywhere on belt", we can save some bits and make shorter instructions (good for mobile):

currently:OP load-address-1 load-address-2 // output is always put at belt's front

to:OP store-address // inputs are always 2 frontmost items on belt

klausnrooster 3 days ago 0 replies      
Soon with Memristor RAM/SSD!
al2o3cr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Verilog or GTFO.
Abstract Ideas Dont Deserve Patents nytimes.com
248 points by wrongc0ntinent  1 day ago   161 comments top 25
yummyfajitas 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I have a BS patent. It's a patent on the "conceptual system" (note: not a software patent) of using a Mechwarrior/Sims/Diablo style character builder interface plus standard search engine techniques to build a fashion search engine. I refused to sign it but somehow the patent was granted anyway.

Also included in the patent is the concept of paying humans to use the system to do searches for you (i.e., email a photo of shoes you like, someone will google it for you).


If a patent is granted in spite of being obviously derivative to the point that the inventor refuses to sign it, something is broken.

sushirain 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Abolish software patents.

A world without software patents is a world of free and faster innovation, of equal opportunity, and of open and cheap access to technology.

Firms that have patentable knowledge are strong enough to not need governmental protection. Inventing something before others gives one technical advantage and time to make profit ahead of others.

Too much effort is spent on the patent process, that could be spent directly on innovation.

In today's software world, 20 years of monopoly is like 100 years of monopoly when the constitution was signed.

The solution should probably come from the legislative branch.

linuxhansl 20 hours ago 3 replies      

The most important part about patents to remember why they exist.

Why would congress grant a legal monopoly to anybody? The reason is (or should be) to protect any investment that went into the invention; for the benefit of society as a whole - to make sure expensive research is still going to happen.

An idea does not cost anything. It might have some value if nobody had that idea before, but the idea would have been had anyway regardless of any legal protection. It might suck for the individual having the idea, but society is not served by protecting ideas that came without cost.

Copyright on the other hand is useful and needed, it protects a specific expression of an idea.

If you translated software patents to books, a patent would be like a legal monopoly on "science fiction stories", or "crime stories".Whereas copyright protects a specific store - as it should. Other folks are free to write other science fiction or crime stories.

Anyway... I am not holding my breath. Also there are so many patents already out there, these will likely not be invalidated retroactively.

mindvirus 1 day ago 6 replies      
For software patents, I'm a fan of Richard Stallman's idea that software patents should require working, annotated source code be attached. I think that this would make it easier to compare ideas to those in previous patents.

If patent filers chose to obfuscate their code, ideally their patent would be rejected for being unclear, or at least, they'd have a hard time defending their patent, as the difference between it and an alleged infringer would be quite large.

kenster07 23 hours ago 4 replies      
There is clearly no reason for software patents. To look at this issue from another angle, consider the following.

What was the reason for creating the patent system in the first place? To give people an incentive to invent new things: if someone invests the time in coming up with something novel, the legal system would give a temporary monopoly in return.

But in today's world, clearly one would imagine the vast majority, if not all software would have been invented as is, without the incentives that patent protection provides. When one contrasts this with the well-known downsides of software patents, the outcome should be clear: abolish them.

ithkuil 1 day ago 5 replies      
What deserves a patent is a, possibly large, investment needed to show that an abstract idea can be a practical.

The magnitude of the investment is one of the reasons people tend to accept the concept of patents more in some field than in others.

MCarusi 1 day ago 1 reply      
The patent situation has become a circus. There's a company claiming a patent on video advertisements preceding video content, and they're suing every online media company in existence hoping for shakedowns.

I once jokingly suggested a patent about paying online, but lo and behold, someone has that too.

netcan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Patent systems are bad because they deal with concepts which are too vague. I don't think we can fix that.

Lets leave aside economic implications for a moment. What is an invention? Is it really different to a discovery. There is no good way to distinguish between invention and discovery because they're not distinct concepts. Distinctions are semantic, even in an archetypical example of patentable invention like Edison's lightbulb. Inventing a lightbulb is discovering that electricity can heat a filament, it emits light when hot and can be prevented from burning by placing it in a vacuum.

These are exactly the types of problems the law chokes on.

fiatmoney 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Deserve" is a framing that wraps together a moral claim with what is intended to be a purely utilitarian calculus (whether a class of patent "promote[s] the Progress of Science and useful Arts"). As soon as you start framing things in terms of who "deserves" what, the side who can generate greater pathos wins.
matthewsinclair 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As a holder of a number of patents (pending and granted), I'm obviously conflicted here. My early patents came from my days at Nokia Research Centre where there was a "patent quota". Yep, we had to come up with a set number of patents per year, regardless of the quality.

My views on patents were (subsequently) very strongly influenced by this paper: "Against Intellectual Property" by Brian Martin:


I would encourage anyone with an opinion on the topic to take a look at it. I'm not sure I agree 100% with everything in there, but the reasoning is very good.

These days, I'm much more in the "abolish software patents" camp than I used to be. The only valid reason I can think to have one now is for "freedom to operate", but I can attest from bitter experience, that simply doing a defensive publication of the core idea is significantly cheaper than obtaining a patent on the pretext of freedom to operate.

In any case, a system that necessitates spending upwards of US$100k to obtain freedom to operate, has something diabolically wrong with it.

RexRollman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm against software patents, but if we must have them, can't we at least make them shorter? The software world moves too fast for these kinds of patents to have the term lengths that they do.
argumentum 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Abolish Intellectual Property. Period.

IP's time (if there ever was one) is over. There is no benefit for real inventors and artists anymore, merely for mega corporations to use the levers of government to maximize their profits at the expense of humanity and freedom. Nothing "intellectual" should be property.

I'm not against corporations or even mega corporations. I think they'd do better for themselves (and their users, more importantly) if they didn't waste years and $billions battling each other and bullying startups and individuals over IP. Instead, they should just focus of making better things.

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. - Thomas Jefferson

badman_ting 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Except for the patents that huge organizations already own, right? So they can go on using those to beat the crap out of each other and crush threatening offerings from smaller firms. Pick up the ladder after you climb it. Sweet.
joelgrus 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the ad at the bottom of the page is "How To Patent Your Idea".
rayiner 23 hours ago 2 replies      
There's not a lot of debate about whether abstract ideas deserve patents. The consensus is that they don't. The debate is about how to figure out what is an abstract idea and what isn't. On one side, you have an abstract idea like "hedging settlement risk by using shadow accounts" (the patent at issue in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp). Almost everyone on the Fed. Cir. thought this shouldn't be patentable. On the other side, you have something like whatever algorithm is the subject of the gbatteries patent: http://www.gbatteries.com/technology/ "Our patent-pending process maintains the lithium ion diffusion at optimal levels and eliminates concentration polarization and thus allows the Li-ions to be more uniformly extracted from or reinserted into the cathode materials."). That probably should be patentable, because while the charging algorithm might be simple to describe and could easily be reimplemented, it probably took a lot of R&D to design it in the first place.

The question is, how do you draw the line between the two?

josaka 1 day ago 0 replies      
An important distinction here is why the alleged invention should not be patentable: 1) because it is obvious in view of what was done before; or 2) solely because it is software, regardless of whether those in the field would regard it as a significant advance. The latter is a much bigger change from the status quo, but the article sort of conflates the two.
md2be 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Court should provide machine (processor) level protection and rule that high level programming is obvious, in that it requires only routine experimentation. The challenge for the court is how to make room for machines whose novelty is a software control. I would argue that there should be a moving element test. Is there a software/hardware interface.
JosephHatfield 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone care to conjecture the practical effects of invalidating software patents beyond saving everyone involved time and money to litigate those patents? It may be valuable for that reason alone, but I'm trying to imagine a world where suddenly, overnight, all software patents are eliminated.
thomasahle 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have a link around the paywall?
EGreg 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Make it easier to find prior art and make the loser of a patent suit pay for the suit. That will prevent the most egregious practice of patent trolls bullying small companies into settling befofe the case goes to trial. If the cost of losing a patent litigation was higher, trolling would become economically riskier.
alisnic 1 day ago 0 replies      
codeoclock 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can we talk about paywall links on HN?
diminoten 23 hours ago 0 replies      
And they don't get them. Business methods get patents.

Why is this basic, fundamental concept not understood by people who purport to know about "software" patents?

danford 23 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who is currently residing in the year 2055 and has a neuro-prosthetic, I believe corporations and governments need access to our brain machine interfaces so that when we copy a patented or copy-righted idea to our memory they can safely delete it. How could people make money in my time if I can just remember their data? Support the Data Control Agency!
grifpete 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I can't read the original article because it is behind a paywall...BUT...abstract ideas do not get patents.

This is not my opinion, it is fact. Look it up.

Servo passes Acid2 twitter.com
244 points by bpierre  3 days ago   101 comments top 13
bpierre 3 days ago 0 replies      
Servo [1] is an experimental web engine developed by Mozilla, written in the Rust language [2], which is also developed by Mozilla.

[1] https://github.com/mozilla/servo

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust_%28programming_language%2...

sanxiyn 3 days ago 3 replies      
Acid2 pass itself maybe uninteresting, but Servo also does layout in parallel (right now, not in the future). No other engines do.


joelmichael 3 days ago 3 replies      
Oddly enough I just checked and Safari is not passing the Acid2 right now. Happens on my iPhone too.


AshleysBrain 3 days ago 1 reply      
Servo's progress is impressive. How far is it off being ready to integrate in to a real browser? Is this likely in the foreseeable future?
DiabloD3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait until I can get a browser that uses this, especially on Android.
cordite 3 days ago 1 reply      
> That smiley face looks like the face of someone that just passed an acid test. -- @alekslitynski

I remember the mess I saw on my PSP when I tried it out when Acid 2 was important.

wittekm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any sites with runnable Servo binaries? Or is it seriously just the engine with absolutely zero browser chrome?
cardiffspaceman 1 day ago 0 replies      
The HTML 5 spec can be implemented from scratch, but my guess is it takes a dozen times more people than implementing a C++ compiler. My basis for this comment is the now-four-years-dormant project I worked on to implement just parsing HTML5 into a DOM tree, which wasn't even inspired by wanting to write my own browser. I was motivated more by having an interest in hacking text layout code, and the need for some sort of syntax for my test cases. Since the project had no commercial goal, it went down a tangent.

I'm impressed that a non-profit has funded two of these projects.

herokusaki 3 days ago 3 replies      
Posts like this always make me want to play with a layout engine trying to implement various features. Is there a toy layout engine made specifically for (self-) education? I couldn't find one. If there isn't, what is otherwise the easiest one to get started with?
taeric 3 days ago 3 replies      
But is it any faster at doing so than any of the competition?

Specifically, are there any real benefits to the "parallel" aspect of this?

panzi 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looks better than current Firefox on my system.http://i.imgur.com/6CN4Heh.png
porker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who thought Acid2 was something to do with a new database data integrity test?
camus2 3 days ago 3 replies      
Good,now maybe you could fix that broken IndexedDB spec and come up with something more usefull...

and implement basic stuff like Summary/Details or you know some HTML5 form controls...

And some file system api, seems to me Mozilla dont care about offline webapps,since the WebSQL debacle...

Switch from Photoshop to Gimp: Tips From a Pro rileybrandt.com
238 points by paulloz  4 days ago   125 comments top 22
jjcm 3 days ago 3 replies      
This was posted to reddit a couple weeks back, and I'll repeat the same comment I made there.

"I spend about 90% of my time in Lightroom and only 10% in Photoshop."

This is why he was able to do this. He isn't using the functionality that Photoshop provides, he's using the functionality that Photoshop Essentials provides. Look at his parity instructions - every feature is found in Photoshop Essentials. If that's all you use, then great, by all means switch over to Gimp. The bigger the userbase it has, the better off it will be.

But don't think that it's going to replace Photoshop in the near future. Non-destructive editing is the biggest thing GIMP is missing in my opinion, but supposedly the move to GEGL will allow them to start development on this ( https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gimp-user-list/2013-December... ).

Smart objects are another huge feature it's missing - not only the ability to downscale losslessly, but also the ability to edit all replicates at once. This is huge for designers. If I'm defining a user control for a design mockup, and I need to make a change to that control, in Photoshop all I have to do is edit the singular smart object source. The source edits will propagate to all the copies automatically. In Gimp I have to do this by hand.There are some minor features too that bug me. The inability to add a mask to layer groups is a big one for me. Layer effects (while often overused and gaudy) can be really helpful for design work - need to change the color of an icon that's raster art? Just drop a color overlay on it. If you have style swatches, it can be really easy to do fast mockups using this. This in conjunction with Layer Comps (also something missing in Gimp right now) can really help in switching between two or more alts.A great way to see what Gimp is currently missing in comparison to Photoshop is to look at the development roadmap ( http://wiki.gimp.org/index.php/Roadmap ). If some of your heavily used features are on that list, it might not be worth switching over to Gimp. If you don't see yourself as a user of those features though, give it a shot.

jawngee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose it depends on what you consider a "pro" or not, and what you are using Photoshop for to begin with.

I started out 20 years ago as a retoucher and digital pre-press. 20 years later, I'm back in the publishing game, but publishing on the tablet. The magazine I am producing as the "eat your own dog food" test run of our bootstrapped tablet publishing tools (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22qqsFHH1HY or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXlHFhbqzHU for more info) is almost entirely photography and video. Guess who is doing the "pre-press" work? Yeah, that's me.

So let me run you through my typical retouching workflow I use to retouch a fashion photo (discussion about perpetrating negative stereo types of female body types ignored for the sake of this conversation):

    - Open the image in Photoshop    - Duplicate the background to a new layer and convert to smart object    - Open up the smart object into a new document    - Liquify, patch tool, liquify, patch tool    - Hair, pimple removal with clone stamp    - Masked adjustment layers for very slight color correction, typically make up and teeth and eye whitening    - Save smart object    - Go back to original document    - Duplicate smart object twice    - Highpass filter + overlay blend mode on top most smart object copy    - Smart blur on smart object copy beneath high pass    - Mask the blurred smart object and start painting in skin smoothing on the channel mask    - Now at this point, I might have gone back to the smart object and made some more clean up and liquify tweaks    - Manual corrections done, I move onto color grading and color correction
All of this is done with a wacom tablet, which afaik, GIMP still has issues with (usable but not on the same level as photoshop). Liquify tool in gimp is a horrible joke. No smart objects.

Can you do this process with GIMP? You can. I have. It's not as easy or straight forward as it should be though. It can't be stressed how important Smart Objects are to the modern photoshop workflow.

So as someone who uses Photoshop not only for app design, but actual honest to goodness professional retouching, I have to say if this guy is only using Photoshop 10% of the time, he's probably not even the target market for it. Will GIMP ever make it to actual competion for Photoshop on the professional level? I sure hope so, but not anytime soon. Photoshop CC (I've been using Photoshop since 2.5 on a Mac Quadra 950) is the best version ever. I know I sound like an Adobe shill, but I have extensive expertise that goes back decades now.

Now you damn kids get off my lawn.

pessimizer 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is like using Vim-mode to switch to Emacs, or installing Lindows. If people could accept the trivial conventions of the software you're moving to ("How can I use GIMP? The hotkeys are different!") and stop treating it like a free badly-executed Photoshop clone, they might realize that it's really nice to work in.

My problems with GIMP were the CMYK stuff and a few terminology issues. I really love the GIMP interface, and I'm not the only person who finds the Photoshop interface awful.

I think that people just hate to have to learn anything new, and are willing to pay rents for the rest of their lives to fend that moment away where they might have to spend up to a week or more working in something that they're unfamiliar with. It's a bit like the fortune web developers pay to not have to figure out unix, or Apache.

Or like using a guitar tuner to tune each string separately. Maybe I'm just an angry guy:)

jordigh 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of the endless bug reports we're getting right now about the Octave GUI not being indistinguishable from Matlab. Makes me wish people weren't so inflexible about the tiniest UI differences. It's difficult to please the converts.
greggman 3 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe someday the gIMP will be even close to Photoshop. Heck, maybe it is for some people's needs. But, I'm not even an artist and the gIMP doesn't come close to meeting my needs.

"No decent OpenType typography, no layer styles, no smart objects, no dice." (from the comments on the OP)

If all I need to do is crop or scale an image than sure, I might get by with gIMP though in that case I'd arguably get by better with something simpler than gIMP.

But, I actually use vector layers with layer styles ALL THE TIME. I actually use text layers with layer styles ALL THE TIME. I actually use non destructive adjustment layers ALL THE TIME.

Photoshop layer styles are like CSS. You can declare your styles and then edit vectors or text and the styles apply dynamically.

AFAIK gIMP has no equivalents. Those are not minor features. They're what set Photoshop apart.

dperfect 3 days ago 3 replies      
If you're using Photoshop for the purpose it was designed for (editing photos, not illustration/painting from scratch), then GIMP is absolutely inferior in its current form.

If you're making edits directly to source pixel layers (or even making duplicate flattened layers and working on those), you're doing it wrong.

Photoshop is designed for non-destructive editing. An essential part of that is adjustment layers. Many serious photographers will never switch to GIMP until it can match the non-destructive features of Photoshop.

Editing photos without adjustment layers is like writing code without revision control.

fidotron 3 days ago 2 replies      
Krita may have a different aim on paper, but that just looks like a way to avoid conflict with the GIMP devs until it's clear to absolutely everyone that they've replaced it.

One of the real shockers with the GIMP is how badly it plays with Ubuntu's Unity, where the menubar will get emptied whenever you change something in a non-image editor window.

skrowl 3 days ago 3 replies      
If you use Windows, consider Paint.NET (http://www.getpaint.net) instead of GIMP. It's much quicker (particularly the 4.0 beta builds) and has a much more Photoshop-like UI out of the box.
bayesianhorse 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I never used photoshop, I also never quite liked the gimp.

I actually sometimes use blender (yes, the 3D software) to edit photos. It's not the same paradigm as photoshop or the gimp, but it lets me do advanced color grading very easily.I can use textured 3D objects for 2D Animations or non-destructive editing.As an added bonus it works for videos and the compositing setup can be reused for multiple photos.Probably if I were really adventurous I could use more of the paint mode and texture paint mode to get even closer to photoshop. But then again I'm not a pro...

th0ma5 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a developer, I've often felt that if I can't script something, embed it into my own software or service, or even redistribute it, then I haven't really done it with software. This is an unrealistic goal if I was in DTP work still, but by setting this bar, I've been amazed about how my understanding of the context of a problem has broadened my horizons. For instance I feel I now have a great grasp on Nurbs, Voxels, and 3d meshes in general from having done it all with Clojure instead of Blender. Batch processing with Imagemagick is now so second nature to me I can't stomach the idea of having to load up PS or even Gimp.

I think when the process involves subtle interactive hand touches and nuances, then an interactive editor will always win out. However rudimentary, discrete "operations" are things computers should do well, and PS and Gimp fall short in my opinion. Gimp being slightly better sort of with its open scripting.

hadem 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've always disliked GIMP's floating windows (especially with a tiling window manager) but never knew of the single-window mode. That is a great tip!
Thiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
For web developers and web designers, GIMP is a great tool.

Best of all it is free.

While I'd gladly pay ten or twenty bucks for cropping and texting images for my web properties, I'd never pay hundreds for photoshop and their invasive anti-piracy software.

elclanrs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was a Photoshop user for a long time, but haven't looked back since I moved to Linux full time a few years back. The challenge was to use libre software for everything and reduce my business' expenses. It's been 4 years since then and I don't miss Photoshop. I realized in the process the I was terribly misusing it. It was my goto tool for everything, from web design, to photo retouch, to vector, icons...

I have a background in 3D & VFX but my work today is mostly web development, and opensource software covers all my needs. MyPaint for free drawing like brainstorming, illustrations, and blueprints. Inkscape for vector graphics like icons, logos, layouts, mockups. Darktable for simple photo editing. GIMP for heavy photo retouch, and well, it's still my goto tool for those quick screenshots, image cropping jobs. And Blender for 3D work of course. I hardly do print, but when I do I use Inkscape, HTML and CSS.

TLDR; Photoshop isn't the best for every task. There are free software alternatives for everything. Using them all together provides me with all that I need, so I no longer miss Photoshop.

hunvreus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend you switch to Sketch[1] and/or Acorn[2] instead if you're on MacOS. I love Gimp, and was a long time user of Inkscape after growing tired of Adobe's products, but the UX simply is too frustrating.

[1]: http://www.flyingmeat.com/acorn/[2]: http://www.bohemiancoding.com/sketch/

virtualwhys 3 days ago 0 replies      
Man, breath of fresh air, have never bothered tweaking GIMP as out of the box it's usable but frustrating compared to photoshop or fireworks (yes, I've got the latter running in a Windows VM).

On Fedora here so GIMP is what I've been using for quick image optimizations when I can't be bothered to fire up a virtual machine.

Am definitely going to integrate some of the suggested tips, thanks to whoever posted this...

elwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
GIMP is lighter-weight. I use it all the time for web work. If it meets your needs, it's definitely preferable to PS.
0x420 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only use Photoshop to slice the web site designs my coworkers send me. I would have switched to GIMP a long time ago if they all used it, too. GIMP doesn't read their PSD files very well.
computerslol 3 days ago 0 replies      
I expected this to be a joke of some sort.
logfromblammo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is a mistake to measure GIMP against a standard set by Photoshop. If a person wants a program to work like Photoshop, they should probably use Photoshop. The standard for GIMP should be whether you can use it to accomplish your goal.

You might as well publish a guide on how to make a circular table saw cut like a band saw. That's completely useless both to anyone who doesn't already know how to use a band saw, and to anyone who already satisfies all their wood-cutting requirements with the circular saw. They are different tools; they don't need to work the same way.

Dale1 3 days ago 1 reply      
The only way to get something that works like Photoshop.....

I bet you can guess the answer!

It's a bit like all those people who try to get a PC to run OSX. Just buy a damn Mac for goodness sake!

nomadcoop 3 days ago 3 replies      
I haven't tried it myself so can't vouch for it but GimpShop (http://www.gimpshop.com/) fills a similar niche.
Coffee and its Effects on Feature Creep (2011) royrapoport.blogspot.com
229 points by shadytrees  1 day ago   43 comments top 16
pserwylo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love this. Although it is a bit more advanced than what we had, we suffered a similar problem:

On Friday when the boss shouted us pizza, we had a problem with everybody trying to order various pizza's, various half pizza's, and various sized pizzas over email. Then the orderer had to collate all of these into a coherent order for the pizza shop.

In the end, we wrote a new module for our internal project management system called "The Pizza Module".

The Pizza Module would be pre-populated with the menu of our favourite pizza shop, so that you couldn't place an order for something that didn't exist. It would then allow people to enter orders via intranet, and then resolve things like four people ordering "half a mexicana" into two mexicana's. It also came with the "fat graph" report, which always had the orderer with the fattest amount (due to people who didn't have access to the intranet ordering through him).

Finally, it was fitted with a feature that prevented ordering, unless your timesheet was complete for the past two months. For a long time, it was very successful, and worked perfectly as intended).

However, in the end, it broke down when we moved away from it as we shifted to a different project management system. Nobody could be bothered writing a new pizza module (or refactoring the old pizza module to work with various project management systems), so we now use a collaborative Google doc with a table that people can place orders in. This is a Bad Idea, and is far more open to gaming than the system described in the article. However, it is good for 5 minutes of entertainment on a Friday morning, watching people going back and forth on the shared doc.

Systemic33 1 day ago 3 replies      
In Denmark, the biggest bank have made an app where you sign up with your bank account and payment card. Then you can transfer money between friends (sending, asking and splitting). And it only requires you to login with a PIN code, and then you just use peoples mobile nr.

There's obviously limits on how much can be transferred, but it's ideal for those small purchases.

It's available on iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.Link to Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dk.danskebank....

Currently free to use, but in some years there's a minor percentage fee.

wahnfrieden 1 day ago 0 replies      
This sort of thing is why we had free lunch for employees, ordered via Seamless out of a spreadsheet of your regular order per restaurant. It wasn't a benefit - it was just a way to save the company time. It was costing more to pay for people's time spent coordinating what to do for lunch on their own than it did to just buy everyone lunch.
fennecfoxen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Debt tracking can also be done with Splitwise: https://www.splitwise.com/

which is good for when you don't have cash money at the Redwood City taqueria.

keithpeter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent story. The comments from previous workmates give the sense that this was a nice place to work.

Here is a puzzle...

In my old pre-ubiquitous-computing physics lab we did something similar to the system described in the OA with a large piece of graph paper and a collection of coloured pens. It was called the Who Buys Next Chart.

We made our own coffee and tea, you understand. Axes were drawn with number of cups made along the bottom and money up the side. A thick black line of gradient equal to the average cost per cup was drawn(1). Each member had a different colour pen.

When you made a drink you extended your line along an amount equal to the number of drinks. When you bought something you extended your plot with a vertical line equal to the amount you spent. Equitable contributions implied a plot approaching the thick black line.

When we ran out of a crucial ingredient, the person whose plot had reached furthest left below the line (i.e. who had made the most drinks but not bought much) had to go and buy the stuff.

The system was gamed in various ways - or more accurately various strategies evolved to avoid having to go out in the rain and various issues about equitable contribution arose.

Can you spot some of the more obvious ones?

(1) The gradient was determined by the accumulated result from the previous WBNC. This tradition had been in place for some years, and a large sheet of graph paper lasted for a couple of months.

Kortaggio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did you notice an expansion in the total money supply in your office due to deposit multiplication?[1] I can conceive of a situation where three people who wanted to prank you can game the TCNW statistics by circularly assigning debt to each other. For example, Alice says she owes Bob $20 billion, Bob says he owes Charlie $20 billion, and Charlie says he owes Alice $20 billion.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_reserve_banking#Exam...

MWil 1 day ago 1 reply      
I always enjoy good "gaming the system" reads. Nothing beats the story of LucasArts' Habitat.
endlessvoid94 1 day ago 1 reply      
> yes, I implemented coffee drink definition ACLs

This is so excellent

abalone 1 day ago 3 replies      
I stopped reading at "venti non-fat 180 degrees vanilla latte with two equals, extra squirt of vanilla, and whipped cream".

That is not coffee.

adwf 1 day ago 0 replies      
One man's feature creep is another man's Agile iterative development. Started with an MVP and iterated onwards :P
SamReidHughes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Instead of assigning person-to-person debt relationships, my company just tracked the sum of each person's net debt on the whiteboard, with a circular buffer log so we can go back and fix things in case the sum doesn't add up to 0. The trouble with that is when people are too lazy to update the sum, so they end up hoarding a bunch of receipts and then update it way later. Eventually some numbers got really big, so I put some offsets on the board so that infrequent participants' contribution to the sum was zero. And then people left the company with nonzero debts...

Another option that we've started doing is to just randomly assign the task of paying for a meal, weighted by each person's proportion of the cost.

Once somebody has a debt to a coworker, though, the most efficient way of paying it off is to bet double-or-nothing on a coin flip until the debt is zero or the debtor is uncomfortable increasing it further.

a8da6b0c91d 1 day ago 1 reply      
Credit card roulette is the only sane way to pay group tabs. It's also much more fun.
merrua 1 day ago 0 replies      
Our office has free tea/coffee/milk.
benrhughes 1 day ago 0 replies      
We just have a company supplied expresso machine and try to convince the team leader to put work lunches on his company credit card. Much simpler :-
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this would end up being the story of how Ripple came to be.
dang 1 day ago 2 replies      
scott_s posted this a few weeks ago, so normally we would bury it as a dupe. But it's so perfect for HN, and got so little of the attention it deserved, that I'm going to leave it up.

On a trivial note, damned blogspot's auto-switching between .ca, .au, .in, .co.uk, .com, and every other suffix under the sun is some of the most annoying nonstandard bullshit I have to deal with on this site.

After seven years, exactly one person gets off the government no-fly list arstechnica.com
229 points by RougeFemme  3 days ago   68 comments top 19
suprgeek 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is tyranny sneaking up on us one "No-XYZ list" at a time.

They can put you on it for any reason (lets say you oppose one of the Govt. policies - Drone Bombings for example), you will be unable to find out why you are on said list or even if you are.

Since you cannot confirm that you are on said list you will not be able to get off it. Your life becomes that much more difficult.

Next you will be put on another "No ABC List" - rinse and repeat until you life is truly miserable with NO recourse (unless you can afford $4 Million) .

If this is not a textbook case for violation of the due process clause then we may as well throw out that whole deal.

revelation 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here is Eric Holder invoking state secrets privilege (DoJ was a defendant in the case, among many others), basically trying to kill the lawsuit outright (they invoked all sorts of laws and administrative orders around classified info, there are multiple overlapping systems):


Note in the same document, on page 8:

[DoJ] will not defend an invocation of the [state secrets]privilege in order to:

(i) conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error;

(ii) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States Government;


or (iv) prevent or delay the release of information the release of which would not reasonably be expected to cause significant harm to national security.

Change you can believe in!


Based on my personal consideration of the matter, I have determined that the requirements for an assertion and defense of the state secrets privilege have been met in this case in accord with the September 2009 State Secrets Policy. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

ghoul2 3 days ago 3 replies      
"""Ben Wizner <snip> remarked at SXSW that problems with the no-fly list aren't going away; the world we're facing will look more like Kafka than Orwell. <snip>

Wizner said:

And I worry about a worldnot a world that looks like Orwell. """

I have noticed a tendency for US-media to use "world" for things which are essentially US-only phenomena. (I have never heard of the equivalent of a no-fly list outside the US and UK). The same statement, but referring to "USA" instead of world, would carry more impact to US citizens reading it, might make (some of) them work on the cause. But saying "World" depersonalizes the problem, and distances all readers from it.

I have not seen this "USA is the World" tendency from media in other countries. Seems unique to US media.

theatraine 3 days ago 3 replies      
"As explained in Alsup's opinion, the whole dispute stemmed from an errant check placed on a form filled out by FBI agent Kevin Kelly"This sounds very similar to what happened in the movie Brazil, where an errant fly resulted in the incarceration and death during interrogation of Mr. Archibald Buttle instead of the suspected "terrorist", Archibald Tuttle. Albeit the movie was an highly exaggerated and over-the-top evil bureaucracy, it's a disturbing parallel.
ElliotH 3 days ago 2 replies      
It amazes me that legal costs aren't going to be definitely paid here. That alone makes this system almost impossible to appeal, pro-bono lawyers aren't likely to work on this issue after the first one or two high profile cases if there isn't a payout.
ars 3 days ago 1 reply      
What I don't get is why the government even fought the case.

I can understand the idiotic bureaucracy that can make it impossible to challenge the list. But once you finally do challenge it - why would the government fight it?

jqueryin 3 days ago 1 reply      
The "no fly" list does not mean you can't fly, it just means they're going to make your life difficult in the process.

My wife made the no fly list back when she was consulting with IBM a number of years ago. She was no longer allowed seat assignments, had to check in in person, and was always subjected to full swab testing and a pat down. She eventually made it off the list, but there was no telling what got her on it. When her tickets were printed, they would have no seat assignment and be covered with a number of large X's which was an indicator she was going to be subjected to search. We made a few assumptions as to her travel behavior that likely attributed.

She had purchased too many one way tickets and wouldn't cancel them if she had to re-schedule (as is the ways of consulting). There were also a few incidents of getting a cheaper ticket and skipping later segments.

Either way, it really puts a damper on travel when all you want to do is get in and sit down.

ggchappell 3 days ago 3 replies      
It is possible that the headline is incorrect.

According to the article,

> Last month, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that Ibrahim must be removed from the government's various watchlists. At Tuesday's hearing, a Department of Justice lawyer said that the government did not intend to appeal the ruling.

So we have an unchallenged order to remove the name. However, the article presents no evidence that Ibrahim's name has actually been removed from any lists.

leccine 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess this does not matter to the ignorant US society, because they don't understand that this is coming to all of us, these no-fly lists establish great precedence that US government can do whatever. As some might say, ignorance is a bliss, in this case it is more like a disaster.
iambateman 3 days ago 0 replies      
When society needs to reduce liberty, we pass a law. When society needs to increase liberty, she often finds she must fight a war.
chiph 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is bureaucratic self-protection at work. Because taking her off might actually be the mistake, and she might turn out to actually be a terrorist after all. So no one wants to risk their job by doing it.

Better someone you don't know doesn't get to fly to the US than you lose your pension.

DrJokepu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The judge in question, William Alsup is the same judge who was presiding over Oracle v Google, ruled that APIs are not patentable and learned Java in the process. He's quite a character.
PythonicAlpha 3 days ago 0 replies      
It just does not speak for the implementation of a Democracy, when democratic principles are violated or corrupted, just because the system has to stand pressure (terrorism in this case).
puppetmaster3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't tell me about bill or rights or democracy anymore.
jksmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
No fly list == jobs program
lhgaghl 3 days ago 0 replies      
> After seven years, exactly one person gets off the govt no-fly list

Sounds like they know what they're doing.

tim333 3 days ago 2 replies      
Shame you can't crowdsource it. We could all vote up or down who gets no-fly'd.
ElComradio 3 days ago 0 replies      
This story is being discussed based on some misinterpretations.

It does not sound like whether she was on a no fly list was relevant to the case per se. She was allowed to fly after the first time she was stopped at the airport. What happened later was that she was denied entry back into the US, a non-citizen.

While what happened is certainly wrong in this case, there is oodles of precent for it. Routinely, foreigners are denied entry into the US if e.g. the agent believes there's a high likelihood you plan to overstay your visa and live here illegally. Non-citizens have no right to enter the US, period.

It sounds like this was more "take me off your terrorist list so I can get back into the country" than "take me off the no-fly list".

ARothfusz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I firmly believe more [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX] or else we're all [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX]!
Turkish government takes down YouTube too webrazzi.com
223 points by boolean  4 days ago   144 comments top 27
ljd 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's interesting to see a country dismantle internet access site by site. It challenges our notions of what we think will always be there.

If your site has a dependency on YouTube, your site isn't going to be functioning in Turkey.

It's like Netflix's Chaos Monkey [0], but in real life.


shna 3 days ago 4 replies      
I am a native Turkish speaker and I listened the recording. For one thing I did not hear anything you would not expect to hear from most of the statesman in the west in a similar situation.

Conversation is about the future stance of Turkey for the civil war in Syria and lack of enough resolve for the last 3 years to intervene properly, and that does not mean directly involving but not supplying ammo to rebel groups against Assad regime. They are complaining that the civil war took a turn toward total destabilization of the region, especially after Al-Qaeda linked group called ISIL[1] started taking over anti-Assad rebel groups. They fear that if ISIL becomes an armed power next to Turkey's border it will be a huge security concern. The head of intelligence agency says that if Turkey going to engage against them in the future it should be done so on their terms but not the other side's choosing. The mention of alleged provocation of the head of intelligence by his minions firing rockets from the Syrian side into Turkish side is correct. He says his men can do that. However he says that in the context they want to be the one starting the assault on ISIL, not the other way around. They argue that if they should wait for the ISIL to attack first. So again it is about engaging al-Qaeda linked group but not starting war with Syria. In this recording foreign minister mention that they want to avoid any conflict with Syria due to their capabilities. I do believe that any war with Syria destabilizes Turkey grossly and it is definitely something they would want to avoid and they did.

The al-Qaeda linked group (ISIL) invaded one the Syrian village about [4] 30-40km away from the Turkish border about a week ago. And like many Turkish I learned something new last week. In that village there's the tomb[2] of the grandfather of the founder of Ottoman Empire. Surrounding of that tomb which is a tiny tiny land in that village belongs to Turkish Republic. The monument is protected by Turkish soldiers who reside there permanently. After ISIL invaded the surrounding village they demanded [5] that Turkish soldiers leave the monument. However that land is part of Turkish sovereign land and Turkey reacted that she would intervene forcefully. Even we have been reading that couple of F-16 fighters are kept ready to take off on the tarmac and special ops can intervene in 90 seconds.

In the recording, foreign minister mentions the option of intervention to ISIL using the Tomb as an excuse, even if they do not attack monument and the soldiers. They mention that world would support such intervention since this is a al-Qaeda linked group. So they would like to attack ISIL fully in the whole region.

They are not warmongering against Syria, and they fear that ISIL's presence could become permanent and can become something of huge security concern for years to come.. In the recording, head of Turkish intelligence mention about lack of resolve of the government. He says if they did not intervene while thousands of people died, still attack on the Tomb of Suleyman Shah is a weaker argument to start an attack.

Probably we need to consider how US would react if an Al-Qaeda linked group starts taking over northern villages of Mexico while a civil war is going on in there.

However the main post is about YouTube ban due to this recording. I just wanted to give another perspective.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_L...[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Suleyman_Shah[3] https://plus.google.com/109044970213631232914/about?gl=us&hl...[4] https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tomb+of+Suleyman+Shah/@36....[5] http://www.worldbulletin.net/turkey/132062/isil-deadline-for...

hocaoglv 4 days ago 5 replies      
After Twitter, this was expected. Just couple of hours ago, leaked audio recordings were uploaded to Youtube which show "Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolu, National Intelligence Organization (MT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirliolu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaar Gler are heard discussing possible intervention into Syria and possible reactions from the world"

They were planning to organize artificial attacks from Syrian border and put the blame on Syria and strength Erdogan's position before local elections.

zmanian 3 days ago 2 replies      
It is amazing the DNS system lasted this long. Turkey seems ready to push over this house of cards. Hopefully a namecoin type system will rise from the ashes. Trust without cryptography is dead.
nine_k 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Internet was designed to withstand damage due to nuclear warfare and other external disruptions. It apparently was not designed to reliably withstand serious attacks of malicious third parties controlling some segments of it.

Time to adapt.

DickingAround 3 days ago 3 replies      
Blocking social media sites and expecting it to reduce tension is like turning off TV & radio broadcasting and expecting people to remain in their homes; it's a failure to understand modern systems of control. Orwell doesn't work at all. Huxley is your only hope Turkey :P
frade33 3 days ago 2 replies      
Question of the day!

I am not supporting Turkish Govt here, nor I have any concern with this country.

If a classified video is made live on a Turkish Video website, would US Govt block it or not?

or Do you approve of releasing classified videos or calls?., because according to my understanding regardless of the content of those videos or calls, they are in violation of 'privacy' and perhaps are classified too.?

I am just making sure, that I do not become a victim of double-standards here... :/

corkill 3 days ago 2 replies      
This will just push everyone sharing info to Facebook.

Next move bye bye Facebook...or internet.

Any way to build a mobile app that rotates servers enough to circumvent this kind of blocking?

twobits 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's because of this leak: Turkish top political and military leaders, organizing a false flag attack, to have an excuse to attack Syria:


erichurkman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hope enough copies of whatever damning evidence the Turkish government wants to suppress are being disseminated outside of Turkey as well as inside the country.

Long live Sneaker Net.

tzaman 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's sad that one corrupt politian has this much power
blendergasket 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's really interesting to me is that it seems like some very, very powerful and well-connected player, who either has access to the communication networks or people at the top of the Turkish totem pole is trying to use social media to destabilize/overthrow a government.

I don't know much about what's going on in Turkey and the corruption that's being exposed is definitely hugely damning, but I'm curious if there is any credible idea as to who is behind all this leaking? It definitely isn't a group of your average concerned citizens.

spoiler 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this the wrong approach, though? I mean, sure you can try to block people form finding the truth, but at least be covert about it; this is plain nave.

Their methodology is just putting them (the government) into the spotlight. Shouldn't they try and divert the attention?

This ensures people find the truth sooner rather than later. I feel like they've been played by some high-up in the government techs person who just got sick of the corruption and decided to add a catalyst.

MimiZ 3 days ago 1 reply      
They can't cover up their corruption.

It's like the whole world is watching...how could they be so stupid.

What are they going to do next? Block Google? Apparently they top the list of "government requests that request content removal": http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-tops-google-content-...

stephengillie 3 days ago 1 reply      
At least we have a Redundant Array of Independent Social Networks to help us route around this intentional damage.
theverse 3 days ago 1 reply      
bayesianhorse 3 days ago 0 replies      
And in the following week some court will take down the takedown...

On some part, yes, the Turkish government tries to restrict free speech, on the the other hand they seem to be abysmally bad at it!

MCarusi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Since the Twitter block was working just so well.
_nato_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Q: do embedded videos on other domains (such as fixyt.com) get blocked, too? How does that work?
BgSpnnrs 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Earlier, what appeared to be a leaked audio recording of Turkish officials discussing Syria appeared on YouTube."

A bit light on the details there, auntie beeb. This is some pretty damning evidence.

Translation here: http://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar/comments/21ib4d/leake...

jotm 3 days ago 0 replies      
How can they do this knowing what's going on in Ukraine and Egypt?
cturhan 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was expected and it was late than I expect. Now, they will block facebook and this will be their ending.
witty_username 3 days ago 0 replies      
Technically videos could be accessed as they are served from googlevideo.com
higherpurpose 3 days ago 0 replies      
Decentralized (federated) video sharing alternative:


mrkickling 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is how you start a revolution.
PetoU 3 days ago 1 reply      
and the next revolution comes to...
pearjuice 3 days ago 6 replies      
All my support goes to the Turkish government for trying to abrupt the Western propaganda and disrupting the influences of American secret national agencies. It is no secret that the protests and revolutions in Syria, Egypt, Tunis and the like were caused by internal fabrications from American soil so they could use the uproar for settling marionettes and proper satellite states instead of having to deal with nations which are against America and Israel.

Hopefully the Turkish government is successful in its endeavors to protect its citizens from a faux-revolution fed by propaganda easily spread in this digital age (i.e. Youtube and Twitter, Facebook is of high concern too).

The only counter-measure is to shut. it. down.

Rendering Head in WebGL alteredqualia.com
216 points by itamarb  1 day ago   76 comments top 29
bd 1 day ago 2 replies      
Author of the demo here. Some background info about origin of the head model (of which my WebGL rendering is just a pale shadow, check following links for really high quality offline renders and also animation capture).

The head model was based on 3D scan using DIY scanning apparatus created by a single very talented person in his spare time - artist Luk Hajka:


He documented his process here:



At first it was just static model, later on he created a pipeline also for capturing animations:



Luk deserves most of the praise, the model is just great. Shading I used here is actually pretty simple, I used more complex techniques elsewhere yet the overall results didn't look as good as this model with a simpler technique.

Here are some of my earlier attempts, each using a different technique:




quaunaut 1 day ago 2 replies      
The glowing eyes before the skin had loaded was a bit scary, but overall, good work. However, is it possible to easily disable the heavy depth of field? I feel like that might be exaggerating the quality in a way that wouldn't be realistic for practical use, especially in terms of the hair/stubble over their skin.
taspeotis 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's quite a few good WebGL demonstrations to choose from on the home page [1].

[1] http://alteredqualia.com/

nlh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing realism. I just had a vision of meeting a character like that in a game - up close - wearing my Oculus (or better...)

And it was awesome.

Lots of exciting stuff ahead folks. This is going to get good.

User8712 1 day ago 5 replies      
Anyone else running into blurring issues? I tested it out on Firefox and Chrome, and in both browsers the face texture is a blur. The high resolution only appears when I have the browser scaled horizontally small enough to cut off half of the head. If I scale it larger, it blurs out again.


doktrin 1 day ago 3 replies      
slight tangent : can anyone recommend resources or entry level project ideas for anyone getting started with rendering APIs (OpenGL, WebGL, d3d, etc.)?

I'm not opposed to any of the JS wrappers (three.js), but would like to develop some intuition about the APIs that more closely interact with the GPU.

idoco 1 day ago 0 replies      
cottonseed 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Creepy. I think we found the NSA mascot. "We're watching."
JabavuAdams 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, that's terrifying. It needs to blink and should bee smiling.

I understand that it's a lot easier to acquire a static mesh than one that's rigged for animation.

Bjorkbat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm going to bookmark this, in case I ever feel the need explain the Uncanny Valley to others through example.
bluepnume 1 day ago 1 reply      
Vaguely interesting: how much his emotions seem to change only based on his head/eye angle: http://imgur.com/a/6QEIq
Geee 1 day ago 2 replies      
Incredible result. Eyes are not on par with the rest, however. Could you add SSS material on the eye-white, I think that would bump up the realism a notch.
hamburglar 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like the way the limited depth-of-field makes it feel like he's really close to you. Creepy as heck.

By the way, I think a less disturbing title would be "Rendering A Head in WebGL" :)

Sander_Marechal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty cool/creepy how the eyes keep looking at you when the head rotates.
filipedeschamps 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing! And it's 15fps in my Macbook Air with Chrome.

Setting DOF to false bump fps up to almost 25.

jeena 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, what a difference between Chrome and Firefox.
stesch 1 day ago 1 reply      
OK, a shadow of a head. Do I miss something?
chii 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish the author wrote an explanation on how it works!
bariswheel 1 day ago 0 replies      
The initial black mask adds to the overall creepy vibe of this unsuspecting giant face presented before me. I wasn't going to sleep anyway.
marcosscriven 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm getting really fed up of WebGL not working on iOS!
troels 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is this? Is it just a high res texture mapped polygon or is it some kind of ray tracing?
Jamie452 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow that's so awesome! I'd love to see more things in that level of detail!
Eleutheria 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Could you try using Megan Fox's head next time?


SimeVidas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok, it's starting to get creepy :P
teejaygreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Click link. Listen to video card fan speed up dramatically.
trigoman 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's too fucken creepy!
lowglow 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's amazing.
ByronT 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first step toward Oculus and Facebook integration...
SimHacker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fun With Your New Head

Heads are so funny, and there are a thousand laughs in store for you in the new, improved HEAD. Everyone enjoys a talking HEAD, from young to old. Taste, see, smell, and "pain" with a HEAD. Experience every emotion known to the HEAD. And if you already have a HEAD, remember what the HEADS say: "Two HEADS are better than one!"

Everyone enjoys a talking HEAD. Every minute is different from the next minute in incredible thought-chaos of a HEAD. And every single HEAD is different!

HEADS are so funny. Listen to the limbless talking HEAD talk about "Freedom," "Death," "Beauty," and "God-Father." Make the HEAD fall in "Love" with you. Any HEAD can be made to "Love," if training manual instructions are carefully observed. Watch the worn-out HEAD die, talking, talking, talking till the moment in decays. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say HEADS are so funny.

Taste, see, smell, and "pain" with a HEAD. Every HEAD purchaser receives absolutely free a "Life-time" supply of "Food." Put "Food" in the HEAD's Mouth, then insert consensual Apparat into Left Collarbone. You will taste every molecule of the Mouth's "Food." Only those who have "eaten" with a Mouth can understand the incredible sensations of "Food."

Left Collarbone is likewise Input/Output source for Right Eye and Left Eye. See the strange little world of the Right Eye, looking at you! See through the Left Eye too! Then see through both the Right Eye and th eLeft Eye together. Every Exo-Export HEAD has two eyes. Don't accept less!

Left Collarbone is likewise Input/Output source for Nose. Now, with the new, improved HEAD you can experience the disconcerting primeval world of "Sex," as the center of the new HEAD's sex-tropic response is removed from obsolete and unsightly sacral area and redirected to the graceful Nose. Just one more reason why two HEADS are better than one!

Left Collarbone is likewise Input/Output source for "pain"-sensitive Chin. Throughout the galaxies there are creatures, often the most insignificant, that can experience the famous "Negative Pleasure," and now with a HEAD you can too! The new, improved HEAD is thirty percent more sensitive to "pain," thanks to refinements in the Chin.

Left Collarbone is likewise Input/Output source and control center for Adam's Apple. Nothing is easier than to take over your HEAD's talking- function. Amuse your friends by talking through your own HEAD! What could be funnier than to talk to another HEAD that thinks you are just a HEAD too?

Everyone enjoys a talking HEAD, from young to old. Even more fun than talking-function of the HEAD is thought-function. Insert compassional Apparat into Right Collarbone, and experience every emotion known to the HEAD. You will feel the HEAD's amazing "Love." You will be paralyzed with the HEAD's consuming "Fear" of pain and of its own inescapable death. You will hate your own self -- perhaps the most exciting sensation of all.

HEADS are educational. Everyone should have his own HEAD to grow up with. HEADS provide an easy and stimulating introduction to basic concepts of xeno-language and xeno-culture. Each HEAD is given a thorough grounding in the astonishing cultural traditions of its autochthonous planet. A third of a lifetime is devoted to the education of every Exo-Export HEAD.

HEADS are perfectly safe for the young. The sharp, skeletal teeth are extracted from each HEAD's Mouth at the time of assembly and refitted with harmless, hydraulic pseudo-teeth.

Many designers consider HEADS to be an attractive addition to the decor of one's environment, especially in arrangements with contrasting xeno-flora and xeno-fauna. For the fashion-conscious HEADS are available now in a range of natural tincts from brown through pink. When treated with new, special-formula Fungi-X, HEADS can also be cultivated in more agreeable colors, though fungifying processes will abbreviate markedly the lifetime of the HEADS so treated.

Everyone should have his own HEAD, and now everyone can! Thanks to the diminished Chest volume of the new, improved HEAD, the result of recent advances in biominiaturization, HEADS are cheaper than every before. They eat less and take up less space too! So why don't you buy your new HEAD today?

Any HEAD you buy from Exo-Export is guaranteed to be the native handicraft of its autochthonous planet, where bioengineering has long been practiced by the wild-four-limbed progrnitors and manufacturers of the HEADS.

There are a thousand laughs in store for you in the new, improved HEAD. Why don't you buy your new HEAD today? Why don't you buy your new HEAD today? Why don't you buy your new HEAD today?

Only 49.95 from Exo-Export Monopolies.

Copyright 1968 by Thomas M. Disch An earlier version of this story, entitled "Cephalotron," originally appeared in Playboy Magazine, copyright 1966 by HMH Publishing Co., Inc.


Tarsnap now accepts Bitcoin daemonology.net
216 points by cperciva  3 days ago   51 comments top 9
minimax 3 days ago 3 replies      
I tell them I want to get paid X dollars in bitcoins, and they tell me how many bitcoins I should ask for and what address they should be sent to. Stripe then gives me the dollars I asked for (minus a small processing fee, of course).

How much is the fee? Is it a fixed amount or proportional to the transaction value? How does Stripe set the dollar denominated bitcoin price? One easy way to make a bitcoin payment look cheap is to offer a low fee but offer a slightly inflated exchange rate and take a profit out of the difference between the rate used for payment and the rate you can get in the market (exchanges or dealers). It's hard to compare the economic value of dollar denominated bitcoin payments (relative to credit cards) without knowing these details.

gregimba 3 days ago 2 replies      
Stripe seems to be the default payment processor for tech startups. Especially now they are going to support Bitcoin.
mitchellh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hopefully it is a temporary thing but the iframe is not loading for me in any browser. "Server refused the connection"
fpgaminer 3 days ago 1 reply      
@cperciva, slightly off-topic: I had a curious question this past week about one aspect of the scrypt algorithm. If I recall correctly, it sandwiches the memory hard function between PBKDF2, and uses Salsa20 as the mixing function internally. In the spirit of reducing code, I'm wondering if it makes sense to replace Salsa20 with HMAC, SHA256, or just SHA256's mixing function? It would reduce the number of crypto primitives in the implementation. Not that it really matters much, but just curious (and partially curious if Salsa20 had specific properties that are useful in scrypt's design). Sorry if this is a dumb question; I was going to read back through your scrypt paper, but have been busy all week.
Scaevolus 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's strange that Stripe doesn't support paymentiframe.com's feature directly-- I'm sure many have similar concerns about embedding arbitrary JS into their domain.
datr 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is Tarsnap going to drop prices in response to the AWS S3 drop?
akama 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how Stripe is going to handle the tax implications of Bitcoins. It may not have an impact because they shouldn't be holding them, but it could be complicated.
mhartl 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is great news. One quick suggestion: I recommend dropping the material on Bitcoin's unsuitability as a store of value or unit of account, or at least softening the language to sound less certain. It's possible that these views, which are shared by most mainstream economists, will prove to be true, but Bitcoin's design is a test of the contrary position. It seems reasonable to concede that there's some uncertainty in the matter.
prirun 2 days ago 1 reply      
The IRS just ruled that Bitcoins are property, not currency, and are subject to capital gains taxes when they are spent. IOW, you have to keep track of your basis every time you buy and spend Bitcoins, just like stock.


Why doesn't GCC optimize a*a*a*a*a*a to (a*a*a)*(a*a*a)? (2013) stackoverflow.com
215 points by Doublon  4 days ago   83 comments top 14
tikhonj 4 days ago 7 replies      
Because, of course, floating point addition and multiplication is not associative. This turns out surprisingly easy to demonstrate:

    0.1 + (0.2 + 0.3) = 0.6    0.1 + 0.2 + 0.3 = 0.6000000000000001
and the same for multiplication:

    0.1 * 0.2 * 0.3 = 6.000000000000001e-3    0.1 * (0.2 * 0.3) = 6.0e-3
It actually isn't "surprising" if you understand how the format works. It essentially uses scientific notation but in binary, with a set number of bits for both the mantissa and the exponent as well as a few changes thrown in for better behavior at its limits (like denormalization). This means that it can't directly express numbers which are very easy to write in decimal form, like 0.1, just like we can't express 1/3 as a finite decimal. It's designed to manage this as well as possible with the small number of bits at its disposal, but we still inevitably run into these issues.

Of course, most programmers only have a vague idea of how floating point numbers work. (I'm certainly among them!) It's very easy to run into problems. And even with a better understanding of the format, it's still very difficult to predict exactly what will happen in more complex expressions.

A really cool aside is that there are some relatively new toys we can use to model floating point numbers in interesting ways. In particular, several SMT solvers including Z3[1] now support a "theory of floating point" which lets us exhaustively verify and analyze programs that use floating point numbers. I haven't seen any applications taking advantage of this directly, but I personally find it very exciting and will probably try using it for debugging the next time I have to work with numeric code.

A little while back, there was an article about how you can test floating point functions by enumerating every single 32-bit float. This is a great way of thinking! However, people were right to point out that this does not really scale when you have more than one float input or if you want to talk about doubles. This is why SMT solvers supporting floating point numbers is so exciting: it makes this sort of approach practical even for programs that use lots of doubles. So you can test every single double or every single pair of doubles or more, just by being clever about how you do it.

I haven't tried using the floating point theories, so I have no idea how they scale. However, I suspect they are not significantly worse than normal bitvectors (ie signed/unsigned integers). And those scale really well to larger sizes or multiple variables. Assuming the FP support scales even a fraction as well, this should be enough to practically verify pretty non-trivial functions!

[1]: http://z3.codeplex.com/

octo_t 4 days ago 2 replies      

floating point is hard. Programmers get it wrong, compilers get it right.


Khaine 4 days ago 1 reply      
sheetjs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Always a great read: "What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic"

PDF rendering: http://www.cse.msu.edu/~cse320/Documents/FloatingPoint.pdf

HTML rendering: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19957-01/806-3568/ncg_goldberg.ht...

TeMPOraL 4 days ago 4 replies      
One thing I always wondered about is why are we using floating point arithmetic at all, instead of fixed point math with explicitly specified ranges (say, "here I need 20 bits for the integer part and 44 for the fractional part")? What is the practical value of having a floating point that would justify dealing with all that complexity and conceptual problems they introduce?
willvarfar 4 days ago 2 replies      
pkulak 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Um... you know that aaaaaa and (aaa)(aaa) are not the same with floating point numbers, don't you?

Why would so many people upvote such a condescending comment?

d23 4 days ago 1 reply      
Random sidenote, but I've never seen an SO answer be upvoted in realtime until now. Didn't even know they programmed such functionality.
pygy_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
I already knew about the lack of associativity of IEEE floats, but TIL that `pow(x,n)` is more precise than chained multiplications.

Good to know.

jevinskie 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a discussion from today and yesterday on llvm-dev that deals with floating point guarantees and optimizations: http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.comp.compilers.clang.devel/358...
woodchuck64 3 days ago 0 replies      
floating point in short: computer representation of scientific notation(1) with sign bit, exponent(2) and coefficient(3) crammed in the same word.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_notation

2. base 2, biased by 127, 8 bits (IEEE float)

3. base 2, implicit leading 1, 23 bits (IEEE float)


username42 4 days ago 1 reply      
The non associativity of addition is obvious, but for the multiplication, I understand why it does not give always the same answer, but I do not see why a change of the order could change the accuracy.
ww2 4 days ago 2 replies      
How would a functional language compiler deal with this case? like GHC?
picomancer 2 days ago 0 replies      
It actually does, if a is an integer.
Sony Digital Paper e-ink PDF tablet for notes and forms sony.com
212 points by fidotron  3 days ago   176 comments top 42
jwr 3 days ago 10 replies      
This would look great if it wasn't made by SONY. They have a history of building devices that seem great, but on closer inspection it usually turns out that the user interface is horrible, overall usability is poor, and to use the device you have to install a proprietary piece of Windows-only SONY software that might be maintained and updated for a while or not. So after a couple of years you might be left with no way to access your data.

After I had this experience two or three times I figured I'd stay away from SONY products.

mdip 3 days ago 2 replies      
This looks fantastic. When the e-reader craze was going on, I avoided buying one because I wanted one pretty much like this. Most of my e-books are PDFs that display really well in a larger format device. My wife had a nook, and I tried it out for a bit, but the size/resolution made viewing PDFs designed for letter sized paper look just below adequate.

Is it wrong for me to also admit that ever since the "Root Kit Debacle" from Sony, I cringe a little at the idea of plugging a Sony product into my PC? Or am I just being paranoid?

unicornporn 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like a dream. Here's the product page for DPTS1:http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-digitalpaper/cat-digitalpap...

I imagine it's terribly expensive. "Pricing available upon request".

EDIT: That's right. $1000. http://www.golem.de/news/dpts1-sonys-digital-paper-kostet-me...

SeanDav 3 days ago 0 replies      
If this thing supports epub as well it would be perfect. I have been looking for a full A4-sized e-ink reader for ages now but aside from my Kindle DX, (which has to be hacked to read PDF's and epub) there has been very little.

I am not interested in the note taking, although it may prove useful at some point, I want it as a large e-ink reader for technical books.

bazzargh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to have one of these:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILiad

The iRex Iliad had a big screen and you could write on it with a stylus. It ran linux and didn't use proprietary file formats, so was great for actually doing stuff.


The refresh rate on the screen meant that doing anything with the stylus was painful. It lagged way too much. I see nothing in the specs for the sony device that refers to this problem with e-ink, and no video demo. Anyone have better info?

discardorama 2 days ago 2 replies      
The resolution seems to be about 150DPI. Unfortunately, I've been spoiled by Apple's Retina display :-(

But still: $1100? When an iPad (which can do so much more) is ~$500 ? Once again, Sony seems to be miscalculating.

hrktb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The hardware seems really great. Sony has a ton of experience in e-readers, I trust their capability to pull out marvelous hardware, and this is a product that feels a really valuable spot on the market.

Except, there is so few informations on the software.It seems the supported sync service is worldox [1], as it's the only link in the sidebar and there is no explicit mention of any other solution. Does this means one has to contract this service provider just to wirelessly sync this device ?

Of course, no mention of an SDK or any third party integration.

As usual with Sony, the hardware seems perfect and the software an afterthought.

[1] http://www.worldox.com

mbq 3 days ago 0 replies      
Onyx made something like that already; the software is terrible (although hackable) and there is no place to attach stylus to the reader, but it is only ~300USD


froo 3 days ago 0 replies      
If they really wanted to go after the note-taking market hard, they should have created a way to have the "eraser" in the opposite end of the stylus rather than have to go through a menu system to modify notes.

For me then, it would go from "yeah, its kinda neat" to "I really ought to consider giving them my money for this"

eponeponepon 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's thoroughly disappointing that they're sticking to PDF for this. In every other way, it looks like progress, but not supporting EPUB is a pretty long step backwards, imho.
kin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The demand is no doubt there. This needs to be executed well and priced well also. I'm going to bet it's neither. Sony is notorious for high prices. Also, who's to say the writing feels as natural as they're making it look?
codezero 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first ebook reader I bought was a Sony and it was great. I preferred it to the kindle at the time because it let me import any format file into it via USB. So I have no issues with the brand as others do. Sony has a solid presence though on the periphery of the eInk scene. My only concern with this device is input latency. Every eInk screen I've used that takes input has too high of a latency for annotation to feel as natural as pen and paper.
rayiner 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm looking for a relatively paperless legal workflow, and I have been surprised at how hard it is. It's hard to pull out a laptop in a meeting to take notes, if only because in a 1:1, you are often in someone else's office and don't have a desk handy. I've been looking at the Livescribe for digitizing handwriting, but to date the software has been shitty. The new version that integrates with iPad/OneNote seems to be a step up, though.

The problem with the iPad, however, is that it's not good for marking up documents. It's great for reading legal cases, but not for marking them up and taking margin notes. Personally, I'm one of those people that gets a lot more out of having paper in my hand and scribbling on it than I do just reading something off a computer screen. I'm really intrigued by this product: http://www.thedigitalink.co.uk/products/capturx-markup-for-p..., which lets you print out PDF's onto special paper so that when you write on it with a digital pen, the markings are reintegrated onto the digital copy. Unfortunately, it's really expensive!

Also, 10" is on the small side for what's ideal. A standard piece of paper is 13" diagonal. I've been looking at the 12.2" Samsung, which also has a digitizer, but Samsung's Android skin is just god-awful. It's a shame nobody makes a 12"+ Baytrail Windows 8 tablet with good battery life...

This product seems to really tackle this niche. Apparently Sony is going to be showing it off this week at the ABA tech show in Chicago.

thu 3 days ago 1 reply      
I see an on-screen keyboard on one of their promotional pictures, could this be used as a lightweight dumb terminal ?

If not, what would be a possible e-ink device to display an SSH terminal over Wifi and pair with a bluetooth keyboard ?

Edmond 3 days ago 0 replies      
If this is real it may finally be the dream of anyone who's ever wanted an electronic notebook!

I will go back to school just to use this!

BugBrother 3 days ago 1 reply      
The probable killer problem: What is the page switch time? Can I browse pdf manuals on this? (My iPad 3 is a bit too slow imho. Will get an Air)

Speed in general? How is it to write notes on? Linux/wireless support?

frik 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why Amazon doesn't release a new version of Kindle DX (9.7" E Ink Display).

Its hardware is comparable to the old Kindle 2. The Kindle DX was withdrawn from sale in October 2012, but in September 2013 was made available again. An improved Kindle DX with touch support for $199 would be awesome. Color e-ink displays exist for years, add one.

The new Sony Digital Paper for $1100 is too expensive .

T-zex 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its always great to see new e-ink products. I think they are unreasonably overshadowed by the tablets.

[off topic]Are there any recent product launches which would not feature a cup of coffee on their landing page?

bryanthompson 3 days ago 2 replies      
I remember when http://noteslate.com/ launched their site & demos and being excited, checking back weekly, then monthly, then realized that it was all a big cloud of vaporware.

I hope Sony actually goes through with this. I currently use an ipad mini & notesplus with a jot pro - it's a good setup and works well, but I still find myself reaching for legal pads half the time.

lrem 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is still a pretty significant delay between writing and the text appearing. Nothing like the prototype display Microsoft was showcasing some time ago.

I wonder if this may be a limitation of e-ink.

thorntonbf 2 days ago 1 reply      
A device like this has such awesome potential, but I am so underwhelmed by Sony's execution.

$1000 +, closed to common eReader document types and no path to openness for developers.

Add in Sony's miserable record for supporting their customers after they move to the next flavor of the week and this is a great illustration of their march towards increasing irrelevance.

fuzzythinker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know this sounds like nitpicking, like complaining about the cup holder in a luxury car, but the stylus holder is just too ugly and an afterthought for a $1k device. Why they even bother to point out the design as if they were proud of it? Why can't they just use the palmV or many other push to eject design? That holder thing sticks out so much that I not only feel embarrassed to show it off, but fear it'll break any moment. And this is from SONY?
jber 3 days ago 0 replies      
I want it now!!But I bought a Sony E-Reader before a Kindle 5 years ago. Their customer service was very bad :(
taylorbuley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Except the "Click here to be contacted for more information about Digital Paper" leads to a "Contact Us" form. Do I use a "Contact Us" form to ask Sony to "Contact Me" whenever it releases this?
accidc 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Bridgestone Aerobee was another device that seemed fit all the specifications for a electronic notebook. Bridgestone had teamed up with a Delta Electronics to bring these out but killed it.

Does anyone know how qr-lpd compares to e-ink?


srd 2 days ago 0 replies      
eInk based ebook readers have been around since at least the iRex in '06. My current jetBook in the same format as the Sony here even has 4096 colors. The thing that always kept theory from practice for me was the high latency when doing the actual annotations. 150ms is too much when writing and your pen is 3 strokes ahead of the display.

Is this reader any different? Just looking at the page, I don't quite get what makes it different and HN worthy?

hamxiaoz 2 days ago 0 replies      
$1100 price will kill it unless it doesn't target normal customers.
0xdeadbeefbabe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some grep would be nice, and I don't mean the kindle touch search experience: tap, wait, tap search, wait, type, wait, type, wait, type, enter, wait, browse results, tap to scroll, wait, browse results, tap to scroll.
sebnukem2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can I read my large collection of Kindle books with it? A negative answer is a deal breaker, and I suspect I'm not alone.
njharman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thought Finally! But, too soon $1000 is way, 2-4 times, too much. Back to waiting.
sizzle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember getting a Sony Clie PDA, the software was a pain to sync and then they stopped supporting it. Really irked me back then
sergiotapia 3 days ago 0 replies      
That battery life is delicious. That's the first thing I looked for and I'm happy Sony came through!
therealmarv 2 days ago 0 replies      
What we need is a android tablet, combined e-ink and the power of a Samsung Note. Then we have a kindle reader (through the app), a note taking device and can also read something from apps like pocket and Evernote... at least I can dream about it.
happyscrappy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks nice but I don't see a way to zoom in, which is a deal breaker for using it with building plans.
Altenuvian 2 days ago 0 replies      
finally! looks great and I hope sony doesn't mess this up.

and please make a external monitor version! preferably 24" so I can have a secondary monitor dedicated to word-processing.

even though refresh times might be slow for anything else having an e-paper external monitor for word-processing would make total sense from an ergonomics perspective. a lot of people spend many hours a day writing/editing text and e-paper is much more eye-friendly.

higherpurpose 3 days ago 4 replies      
Didn't they just kill their e-book store recently?

Also, from the images it does look like it would be "e-ink" but I see no mention of it on the page. Is it really "e-ink" (like Kindle) or just "e-paper", which is just a transflective LCD (Pebble, Notion Ink Adam, etc).

ihaveone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want this so bad, I have a Kindle DX that's pretty good but I just want to be able to 'print' directly to it and have it automatically turn on and show it. This is getting there with the pen, I love that idea. They should have it sync back after you annotate it automatically. That's friction free.
vapour 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to charge my paper thanks.
blisse 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pricing doesn't matter until this gets into a good reviewer's hands (Anand!). But yeah this is amazing if it functions perfectly eventually at ~$400
dragontamer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems good, but the honest competition to this would be all the other tablets with styluses.

Surface Pro, Galaxy Tab, Asus Vivotab Note. Each hit vastly different price ranges (Surface Pro ~$900 high-quality device, Galaxy Tab rounds out $500 mark, and Vivotab Note hits $300).

I doubt Sony can beat the Vivotab Note on price / performance, and I doubt it can win on flexibility vs Android or Surface Pro.

MLB.com is using my Google Analytics code websanova.com
205 points by rduchnik  4 days ago   134 comments top 29
rduchnik 4 days ago 4 replies      
Well mystery solved. I did a bit of sleuthing and noticed they have a scratch card at the bottom of the page. I had written a scratchpad plugin so I did a quick search for "wScratchPad" and sure enough it's there. They copied my sample code from http://wscratchpad.websanova.com, div's css and all and, you can even see the same `id` and `class` names.

I guess they copied a little too much.

dangero 4 days ago 3 replies      
I once hired an offshore developer on ODesk who stole my code and resold it. I discovered he was doing this because he left my analytics code in. Same deal; I woke up one day to analytics showing traffic on a domain I didn't own, so I went to look and it was basically a mirror of my site.
rduchnik 4 days ago 3 replies      
There is a comment on my blog from a developer from MLB.com for anyone who is interested:

"Hi -

Engineer from mlb.com here. It appears this goes a bit deeper down the rabbit hole than meets the eye. Apparently theres some code laying around in our tests run by a CI setup that randomly generates a tracking code to mock third party scripts (Google analytics, ad tracking, etc) instead of using our actual IDs as to not mess with our marketing guys numbers (we run a LOT of tests on CI).

The strange thing is that your IDs arent being pulled from your site, but have randomly been generated the same way many, many times and then been shipped out to our production server by mistake.

We cant figure out why this is happening, but are looking into the build system and how it caches data. Luckily I read HN or we might have never caught this!"

jrockway 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good thing the author didn't ask for "express written permission" to use his code. The irony would have been too much for me to handle.
sergiotapia 4 days ago 1 reply      
So you share this hilarious bit and leave out the juicy details!?

How large of a spike are we talking about here? Share your digits bro!

seanalltogether 4 days ago 0 replies      
Back in 2003 Sony Pictures hotlinked some javascript code I had created for handling Flash->javascript communication. Back then all I could think of was using it to float a dancing robot over their content. These days I guess you can get away with a lot more.
dalek2point3 4 days ago 4 replies      
I wrote an example for graduate students in the US to create a webpage and directed them to look at my webpage for an example template. Now they all copy my analytics tracking code, and I have like tens of student websites that I'm tracking me. It annoys me. I think we should have some sort of two-way authentication or atleast a way to "mute" certain domains or only whitelist certain domains in the reporting side of GA. Perhaps it exists?
jacquesm 4 days ago 1 reply      
One day Microsoft (msn.com) to be exact hotlinked a small gif from one of my servers. Support did not respond at all to my inquiries to please have it removed (the msn.com homepage had a lot more traffic than I was used to dealing with) so I replaced the gif on my server with the "netscape now" button.

This was at the height of the browser wars.

ApolloRising 4 days ago 1 reply      
For anyone else experiencing this problem what you can do is simply setup a filter in Google Analytics to only allow your domain to add traffic to your google analytics profile.

Inside google analytics goto filter,create new filter,select custom filter,select include filter,Enter hostname in the filter field,enter your websitename\.com in the filter pattern box,

Apply this filter to your profiles for websitename.com and you should be good to go

gkcgautam 4 days ago 1 reply      

But why are you generating those random IDs at all? That means you guys are sending false tracking data to so many websites using those IDs.

Stop doing this! Create a different tracking ID for testing or something!!

bhashkarsharma 4 days ago 1 reply      
One morning, we woke up to see Google Analytics sending us data from an external site. When we opened that link, it turned out to be a clone of our website.

They had crawled the entire site (which was designed by our partners) and replaced the logos and text. The GA code was still there.

6a68 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would have been cool to ping one of the MLB.com developers, not write a blog post and laugh at them publicly/without warning. Just sayin'.
fekberg 4 days ago 3 replies      
Doesn't Google Analytics cost money after a certain amount of hits per day/month? If that is the case and the gap was hit, would MLB.com be liable to pay the fees?
Brajeshwar 4 days ago 0 replies      
People usually steals my designs. Well, I stole better but that's another story.

I once had my site's design stolen complete with my CSS, Javascript errors, the Analytic and the Adsense Code. I think I have the screenshots somewhere on Flickr.

The irony was that, mine was powered by a WordPress theme that I designed and was available as a free download.

ColdHawaiian 4 days ago 0 replies      
On a side note, when I visited the blog, it triggered a Web of Trust warning because it got flagged as spam: https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/websanova.com.

It looks like a legit programmer's blog to me, so I gave it a full positive review.

tericho 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hilarious. You probably aren't seeing a huge traffic spike because it's a microsite that hasn't been launched yet. It also appears to be outsourced or in some sort of BETA since the script management is atrocious. Run a Chrome audit - it's only a landing page and still makes 37 different JS file requests & 13 different CSS file requests, none of which are minified. Granted many "professional" sites ignore client-side asset performance but regardless, 120+ HTTP requests for a landing page is laughable.

Edit: Might be same shop as mlb.com, they don't appear to care about asset performance either.

patmcguire 4 days ago 1 reply      
What if I steal your GA code for my app, which has such routes as:



gk1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meta comment: This thread has seemed to attract more nonsense comments -- many are almost entirely whited-out -- than usual. Why? Whatever happened to the endorsement idea?
untog 4 days ago 3 replies      
FYI (the author, if they're here), your site doesn't load in Firefox for Android. Not sure why.
pa7 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've created an open source project and forgot to remove my tracking code too. The only thing was, I was hosting my own analytics with piwik, so the tracking code came from my domain. Although I marked the code with comments lots of people still left it there.

If I was a bad guy this would be an easy and subtle XSS attack vector

vojant 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have seen something similar, when three companies stolen award-winning design of digital agency I used to work for. They just copied whole code (including comments in javascript) and changed logos/texts but they haven't change our ga code.
i_like_robots 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've had this issue too with some of my old, Open Source jQuery plugins and even keeping the scripts separated (into the document head and at the end of the body) and commented didn't seem to work. Developers looking for the cheap and easy copy and paste I guess don't recognize the difference. Fortunately GA supports simple filtering to mitigate it.
nness 4 days ago 1 reply      
I thought GA was tied to specific domains; wouldn't GA not track MLB.com traffic?
enterx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reviewing the comments made regarding this and other "Stackoverflow is down" kinda threads I start to wonder... are there so many so-called developers that just copy-paste 9-5?
lurchpop 4 days ago 0 replies      
hanswang2013 4 days ago 0 replies      
z3bra 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice unintentionally linkbait.

But does their code looks similar to yours?

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 2 replies      
Now if you can get them to steal your AdSenseForContent code you are golden!
mahmud 4 days ago 1 reply      
Someone done goofed. Google Analytics and other KPI chew-toys and gadgets are what keeps executives busy while people get work done.

This will not go unnoticed.

       cached 31 March 2014 15:11:01 GMT