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Learn C and build your own Lisp buildyourownlisp.com
594 points by p4bl0  3 days ago   144 comments top 47
tomp 3 days ago 3 replies      
In the last chapter, Bonus Projects, the author mentions Static Typing & type systems. If anyone's interested in learning more:

I've implemented a few simple implementations of basic (and not so basic) type systems[1]. Currently, only 3 type systems are finished (Hindley Milner's Algorithm W, and Daan Leijen's extensible rows and first-class polymorphism), while gradual typing is almost done (based on [2], in branch 'dev').

[1] https://github.com/tomprimozic/type-systems

[2] Jeremy G. Siek, Manish Vachharajani - Gradual Typing withUnication-based Inference - http://ecee.colorado.edu/~siek/dls08igtlc.pdf

sanxiyn 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a good stuff. 4 years ago, I wrote a Lisp in 500 lines of C in one day after finishing SICP. Typing it out did made what I learned more concrete.


unwind 3 days ago 2 replies      
I always find it so hard to help out proof-reading code for causes like this.

Often, the code is more complicated than I find reasonable, while omitting things that make a lot of sense in "real" code, and it's very hard to know as an outside reader what the exact motivation for each decision was, by the author.

A few such things that caused me to WTF:

The initial few examples use a pointlessly static and global line buffer, instead of declaring the line buffer where it's being used.

There is hardly any const in the code, even for cases where it obviously should (to me) be used, i.e. for variables that are never written once given their initial value.

A magic number (the buffer size 2048) is repeated in the code, and even encoded into a comment, instead of just using "sizeof buffer".

I do think I found an actual bug (on http://www.buildyourownlisp.com/chapter4_interactive_prompt)... the readline() implementation ignores its prompt argument and uses a hardcoded string, instead. The same function also does strcpy() followed by using strlen() to truncate the string it just copied; that really doesn't sit well with me.

anateus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like this may subvert Greenspun's Tenth Rule:

"Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Common Lisp."


JasonFruit 3 days ago 2 replies      
If I decided to work through this, and thought it was really good, I'd be unable to make a donation because I don't dabble in cryptocurrencies. Why not make donating "real" money possible, as well?
blt 2 days ago 0 replies      
I dislike the use of a parser generator libary. If it were any other language, sure. But Lisp is so easy to parse. Writing parsers is fun, and it would be a good exercise. I applaud you for wanting to teach beginners how to install libraries, but this seems like the wrong choice.

Props for mentioning conditional compilation early. It's underrepresented in books but essential for real life.

mkhattab 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for writing this and sharing it for the common good. I've been wanting to relearn C since I've switched to Python for work. Hopefully this book will be good practice because I've been wanting to implement a Lisp interpreter on a micro controller for quite sometime. I have plenty of PIC18F4550 micro controllers lying around.

Also, I liked the cat pictures and hope you'll add more of those in the next edition, perhaps.

EdwardDiego 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the author is reading this, thank you very much - I've always wanted to experiment with C, but never had a project to use it on. Writing a Lisp interpreter (compiler?) is not one that occurred to me, but it definitely interests me.

Cheers for your hard work. :)

userbinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to make a complementary "Learn Lisp and build your own C."
gmfawcett 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're interested in this, you might also enjoy "Write yourself a Scheme in 48 hours." It uses Haskell rather than C as the implementation language.


lispm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fine to implement something. But I would wish that the language implemented actually looks like Lisp or Scheme.

Currently this claims to be Lisp, but it is some strange version of it.

Using a Scheme or Lisp has a lot of advantages:

* one can compare it with other actually working implementations

* there is already a wealth of material to learn from or where code could be reused

* many books exist

* the language actually has already got some thought

A good example is the book on Scheme 9:


rui314 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in this, you may find one of my Lisp implementation interesting too. It's implemented less than 1k lines of heavily-commented C, but it even supports a macro system and copying GC in addition to the common features you would usually see in small Lisps.


akkartik 2 days ago 0 replies      
In similar vein to tomp's comment: if someone's interested in the bonus project of implementing macros, I've implemented a simple lisp with first class macros (fexprs): http://github.com/akkartik/wart. Moreover, you can write anonymous macros out of more primitive constructs.

Over time it's accumulated other features: http://akkartik.name/post/wart. But hopefully it's still easy to understand, because it has thorough unit tests. If you have a question about some line of code you can try changing it. Seeing what tests break is a great way to get feedback as you learn, in my experience.

z3phyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is one excellent book I would recommend to everybody -> http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Write_Yourself_a_Scheme_in_48_H...
SixSigma 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the compiler course taught by Brucee (Bruce Ellis - one half of Mark V. Shaney - the other half being Rob Pike) he got you to do two projects : write a Lisp implementation in C, and a C compiler in Lisp. Most instructive.

If you have an HP printer with a Postscript renderer and you can get an image of it, you can find a digitised photograph of him too :)

arcatek 3 days ago 0 replies      
PL101[1], from Nathan's University, is also a pretty good way to learn the basics of programming language compilers.

[1] http://nathansuniversity.com/

adamcanady 2 days ago 0 replies      
At my undergrad institution, we have a class that does a project very similar to this. I recently completed the class and project and have a bit of advice for anyone looking to take up this challenge on their own.

First off, a small note: our project used C to implement Scheme (a lisp dialect), so it's similar but not exactly the same as this.

I'd recommend starting off with reading about the principles and coming up with a solution to each of the problems on your own instead of following a specific pattern as outlined in the book. For example, in our project, we decided to learn about the C basics, then just figure out how to make it 'act' like Scheme if given an input. Eventually, we thought of doing everything in a linked-list style to make organization and recursion easier and more natural, but coming to this conclusion on our own was very helpful.

Another thing is valgrind. As far as I could find, the text only mentions valgrind in one paragraph, but it's an excellent tool to check for memory leaks and errors.

Also, as mentioned in the book, a bonus is adding in GC. This turns out to be a pretty easy and a fun exploration of the different techniques available if you try a couple out for performance.

Our code in case you're interested: https://bitbucket.org/adamcanady/cs251_interpreter/src

quakkels 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for writing this. I find your writing style to be very easy to follow. I've wanted to play with a toy language for some time, so I'm very excited to dive into your book with both feet. I'm working on Windows and am up to chapter 6. Very enjoyable. The only suggestions I would offer is perhaps to mention that AST stands for Abstract Syntax Tree. It seems this book is targeted to less experienced programmers, so it may be helpful to mention what AST means in this context. Thank you for your hard work and willingness to share your knowledge.
pflanze 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've just begun starting a group to create a Scheme implementation from scratch in London (UK). If you're already somewhat proficient in Lisp/Scheme and interested in participating, see [1] for further info and send me a message through meetup.com or through the link on my contact page.

[1] http://www.meetup.com/London-SICP-Study-Group/messages/board...

CGudapati 3 days ago 6 replies      
How good is this book for a complete beginner? I am starting to learn C in my free time and I have no objective way to judge this book.
mcescalante 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've already programmed quite a bit of C and C++, and this seems like a great read + resource. I'd be curious to know how a non-developer or somebody coming from something like Ruby or Python that had never developed C felt about this.
zafka 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very Cool, I don't want to spend much time here now as I am at work......, but I love the concept. I have been using C for almost twenty years, and I think this would be a fun check.
wedesoft 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was trying to implement an interpreter for a minimal (lazy) language in C [1]. It uses Church encoding and other encodings. E.g. here are the definitions of false, true, identity, and pair:

    f_ = proc_self(lambda(v0));    t_ = proc(lambda(v1), f());    id_ = proc(v0, f());    pair_ = lambda3(op_if(v0, v1, v2));
For the moment I gave up on it though but maybe it might serve as inspiration ;)

[1] https://github.com/wedesoft/blc/blob/master/src/x.c#651

swah 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would tcc be good enough a compiler for this? Its very easy to install on Windows compared to Mingw/cygwin etc.
kyllo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing, this is really helping me to understand in a little more detail how compilers work. And the doge example gave me a good chuckle.
matt_heimer 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is also a pretty good Compilers MOOC going on right now https://class.coursera.org/compilers/lecture/preview
skittles 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know why clang on mac os x doesn't know about edit/history.h? The line editing portion of the book requires it.
codemonkeymike 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had made a lisp interpreter using this book I found in my schools library. http://www.amazon.com/Data-Structures-Advanced-Approach-Usin...
ilbe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, very timely, yesterday I needed to brush up on C and was wondering how I would go about it. Thanks. Very minor note: the link to "Learn C the Hard Way" on the faq page links back to the faq page.
aaronsnoswell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Got halfway through this today - most fun I've had programming in ages. Thanks for the link and thanks to the author!
yk 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should perhaps submit it to r/C_Programming/ since you looked there for beta readers.
quantabytes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your Bitcoin and Dogecoin addresses are mixed up.

EDIT: Fixed now.

stantona 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is extremely cool, for someone with some C experience but wants to dig into writing a lisp.
NAFV_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Cat cannot speak or program

A caption for a picture from chapter 5, preceding a look at the grammar of Doge - DogeLisp anyone?

sgy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course C is not the only option, and perhaps not an option at all for newbies.JavaCC can be a good medium to build your own language too. They recently added the ability to generate C/C++ code (https://java.net/projects/javacc)

Is there any tree building capabilities using C?

donniezazen 3 days ago 4 replies      
I am new to programming. What is it so special about Lisp that I keep hearing about it in Hacker's News (often in Machine Learning and from old programmers)?
gregburd 2 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite small and understandable implementation of Lisp in C is by Ian Piumarta. [1]

[1] http://piumarta.com/software/lysp/

leondutoit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Hope I can make time to go through it - looks like good fun. Thanks for putting it out there.
halayli 2 days ago 0 replies      
lval* v = malloc(sizeof(lval));v->type = LVAL_QEXPR;

For goodness sake, when teaching C, make sure to check alloc's return values.

elwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really cool. I wish I had the time to read it.
crnixon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is the source of the text on GitHub or elsewhere? I'd love to send pull requests for some of the things mentioned in these comments, like magic numbers not being in constants.
jameshk 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, I will certainly be using this to learn more Lisp.
SneakerXZ 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does it use a generator to generate lexer and parser or author is suggesting to write them manually?
osho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can i get an pdf/epub version of this book?
notastartup 3 days ago 1 reply      
Using this guide, is it possible to create a programming language in a non-English language?
JoelMcCracken 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone briefly explain what makes the lisp that the author develops unique?
pjmlp 3 days ago 2 replies      
Please don't. Rather pick something like "Compiler Construction" from Niklaus Wirth and learn how to write compilers using memory safe system programming languages.


Amazon Dash amazon.com
583 points by sheri  2 days ago   250 comments top 52
dotBen 2 days ago 18 replies      
HN'ers asking why this isn't a cell phone app take note - this exemplifies why we (geeks) don't make good use cases for consumer tech and we should always be careful looking to our own habits and values when in a Product Development role.

We're rarely the target customer and rarely behave like "average Joe". We're naturally resistant to superfluous redundancy ("My phone can already snap a barcode, I don't need a separate device") when consumers don't even see the duplication let alone the issue. They don't separate devices (or even apps) has having layers of similarity and just see things for their end functionality.

My mother would see a phone and apps as completely separate functionality to a physical device like this. She probably would have the Amazon Fresh scanner, the (theoretical) Google Shopping Express scanner and the (also theoretical) Whole Foods scanner and wouldn't even consider the duplication, let alone be frustrated by it. She doesn't care about the potential for an "open standard"/"common standard".

She also has an AppleTV and a ChromeCast connected to the same smart-TV that also has native apps within it (she mostly uses the native apps). Again, she sees no issue with that and might even buy an Amazon FireTV if she felt it was more compelling for one use.

Ultimately we shouldn't assume consumers value convergence, especially when it creates ever increasing complexity in user experience (eg opening an app to snap a barcode vs pressing a single button on an Amazon Fresh scanner)

ADDED: If you don't have parents that also work in tech, go visit them and just watch them use technology without prompting. Ask them about their experiences, their frustrations, their decisions behind purchasing specific equipment and downloading particular apps. It's very insightful.

dangrossman 2 days ago 5 replies      
Based on the comments, I'm guessing few poeople here have ever worked retail and held a barcode scanner.

Break out your phone, load up your barcode scanning app (there's 20 seconds right there even if the phone is in your pocket). Now try to actually scan something with it. You'll spend another 30 seconds lining up the little on-screen window with the code, rotating things, waiting for the camera to focus, and even having to move to another location if you're not in bright lighting. It's a terrible experience and that's why you don't see stores checking people out using the camera of an iPad.

A barcode scanner, on the other hand, just works. You point it in the general vicinity of the barcode, press the button, and it's scanned. You don't have to perfectly align anything, be in specific lighting, or wait for a camera and an app. I'm sure you've seen cashiers run multiple things over a scanner in under a second.

Amazon Dash isn't just a subset of your phone's functionality. It's a dedicated barcode scanner, which is hardware you don't have on your phone.

bluthru 2 days ago 4 replies      
Listening to a young child carefully pronounce words for the narration was a bit distracting and slightly irritating. A sentence or so would be fine, but narrating the whole video was an exercise in patience.

Or do I just have a cold, black heart?

olalonde 2 days ago 1 reply      
My first thought: people are going to bring this to retail shops to get the benefits of brick-and-mortars shopping while benefiting from the low prices / delivery of Amazon.

A lot of people already kind of do this. They go to a shop, find the items they like and look up on the web if they can get a cheaper price by ordering online.

This version of the product might not be so practical for this use case though since it requires a WiFi connection and can probably only scan AmazonFresh barcodes.

wehadfun 2 days ago 4 replies      
For some reason this made me thing of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat
donretag 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Dash ... works directly with your AmazonFresh account"

Which means it is only available in three locations (SoCal/SF/Seattle).

revelation 2 days ago 6 replies      
Why is Amazon gold plating their fresh service when they didn't manage to meaningfully expand it since 2007?
jameswilsterman 2 days ago 3 replies      
So assumedly this will work in a store also? Could I go 'grocery shopping' at Whole Foods and end up having everything shipped to me by Amazon for cheaper?

Can easily see this evolving into an Amazon price comparison tool for mobile use. Maybe I get a flash discount if the GPS has me standing in a Best Buy already.

alaskamiller 2 days ago 5 replies      
Number of steps to scan grocery by phone:

1. Find your phone

2. Unlock

3. Swipe left to home page three or maybe four

4. Visually scan for the AmazonFresh icon and tap

5. Wait for loading

6. Start scanning action

7. Confirm and pay

Number of steps to scan grocery by Dash:

1. Get device from drawer or pantry

2. Press one button and scan

3. Confirm and pay

For the target demo (30+, married, households with children), option 2 wins hands down. Because you will easily be distracted and stop using option 1 and not complete checkout.

Amazon knows CPG and commerce better than you do.

aray 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know the battery life/lifetime of these? If it's months, that's a lot more convenient to keep in the pantry. As a kitchen appliance it makes a lot of sense, but I don't have any muscle memory for "charging" appliances.
chunkyslink 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice try NSA!

Seriously though, it worries me that there are more and more 'listening devices' in my home.

We've seen what has happened recently with the NSA listening to calls. What is to stop the authorities getting a back door into all these devices and just recording everything?

mcintyre1994 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been expecting Tesco (UK) to do this for ages. They have supermarkets literally operating on this sort of device, you scan+bag as you go, and they have a decent national delivery service.
asnyder 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if this will lead to showrooming of groceries, like Amazon's done with books. The only thing preventing this is the wifi requirement, but of course one can already do this with their phone. Though it does make it even easier.
joeld42 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope that's a bottle opener on the top.
plg 2 days ago 2 replies      


next day what shows up, exactly?

6 granny smith apples?

a 15 pound bag of golden delicious?

3 MacBooks pro?


mfrommil 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon needs to scale Fresh in order for it to be more successful. On a micro level, scaling could come in one of 2 ways: (1)increase order frequency or (2)average order size.

(1) Order frequency - Right now, a typical customer likely picks up groceries when they're out and it's convenient. This very well could be on the commute home from work, later at night, etc. With Dash sitting around the kitchen, Amazon has now created a very tangible reminder in the form of the Dash device to order your groceries, rather than waiting until it pops into your mind (and possibly not buying on Amazon).

(2) Average order size - As someone posted above, it takes 1 or 2 button clicks to reorder an item using Dash. Compared to the current way of online grocery shopping, Dash eliminates a lot of possibilities of forgetting to reorder something you intended to, because it is so simple. Compared to on the PC when you may forget to browse the snacks category, for example, and you forget to order chips and cookies. Way less likely to happen with Dash.

This doesn't address price concerns, but in terms of convenience for Amazon Fresh customers & increasing Fresh orders/order size, this seems like a massive win-win for Amazon and their customers.

anigbrowl 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised this exists to be honest. Not because of smartphones, but because I thought RFID chips would be sufficiently disposable by now that we'd have smart refrigerators and trashcans. I had to buy a new refrigerator last year and I was struck by how many different kinds of ice dispensers there were (a feature in which I have no interest whatsoever) vs smart refrigerators. I found exactly one of the latter - the unfortunately named T9000 from Samsung (Komm vith me if you vant a snack...), which is really just a refrigerator with a tablet stuck on the front, didn't do very much, was completely locked down (understandable) and cost $4000.
lucb1e 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know how they connect to WiFi? There's like two buttons and one beep for I/O.

(Half joking: Or is it a Speak Friend And Enter kind of thing, where you have to speak the WiFi credentials.)

pepijndevos 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could also take it to a store and scan things there. See what you get, pay less.

I know someone who runs a book shop, and he frequently has people browse for books, only to buy them online later for slightly less.

justinpaulson 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why would they make a device rather than an app to do this? Seems pretty awesome as a service though...if Amazon Fresh was available here.
elleferrer 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like how it's a separate device - it's too bad it's only available on the west coast though. AmazonFresh reminds me of "Webvan". Webvan failed during the dot com bubble, maybe Amazon is trying to start this kind of business model up again. I think the grocery delivery service is a great idea, especially now with everyone being so connected. Webvan only failed because they expanded rapidy and weren't able to attract customers at their speedy pace, plus back then not everyone was so connected.
binarysolo 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this differ from people using the mobile app? Mainly for Amazon Fresh integration?
jds375 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a cool service to integrate with AmazonFresh. A similar promising alternative is https://www.rosieapp.com ... It's a pretty cool startup with similar goals.
ngoel36 2 days ago 9 replies      
I see absolutely no reason why this couldn't have been a mobile app with a bar code scanner and voice recognition...
alanh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The :cue cat lives!
blobbers 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone else noticed that this completely rips off Hiku?Or is this repackaging the same product?


babesh 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wait till a 2 year old gets ahold of it and scans everything 10 times.
LeicaLatte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now this feels like the future.

I am curious what the upgrade cycles of these products will end up being. Can Amazon charge a subscription and keep giving me a new one?

mandeepj 2 days ago 0 replies      
i think this is a big deal. When I am working in kitchen, i see lot of items needing refill, reordering etc...it is little cumbersome to stop your work, wash your hands and get the phone to take the note. Not to mention, once u pick your phone there are 100 hundred things going on - facebook, mails, texts etc to distract you for long time. Knowing this distraction, if I just say - "OK, I will just remember in my brain and will not pick up phone" then you know I never remember that task or things later. I think you can also use this device as your note taker incase you want to buy from somewhere else. Enjoy the convenience ;-)
vuzum 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best idea ever, wow what a great product and functionality! This should be in every house! :-)

Amazon acts like a startup still. Good for them!

joshdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
Grocery stores should be worried. Amazon is predator that will take on any market it thinks it can win. Pretty soon they will not only be competing against the store next door, but the Amazon grocery warehouse with all the advantages of scale and convenience.
paul9290 2 days ago 0 replies      
So you zap your grocery needs with dash and flying robot delivers it within 24 hours....
tetrep 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why was a separate physical device needed for this? It seems like a simple smartphone application would work just as well, if not better as I would assume virtually all of the target audience for this service already have a smartphone.
suyash 2 days ago 0 replies      
If someone has an invite, can you please send me one as well. I don't have the Invite Code needed to participate.
Dorian-Marie 2 days ago 0 replies      
And when you go to somebody else place, you like something, "ok, I will add it to my Amazon shopping cart", etc... So many use cases this is amazing.
elevenfist 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sounds like this would only real be useful for packaged, processed goods. I'd have trouble trusting the quality of perishable items over the internet...
lechevalierd3on 2 days ago 4 replies      
Fruits and vegetables to not have a bare code, right ?How to make it simple for those fresh products then ?
ngoel36 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do I get a code?
beejiu 2 days ago 2 replies      
How does the voice feature work? Is it computer voice recognition, or does your voice get sent to a person to interpret?
dgarrett 2 days ago 0 replies      
It'll be interesting to see what Amazon does to continue to get more information on people's shopping habits.
thomasmarriott 2 days ago 0 replies      
When food became mp3's Amazon Dash / Fresh = Apple iPod / iTunes. Well done, Jeff.
anandg 2 days ago 1 reply      
If its real, this is going to revolutionize grocery shopping. Also, open up a new market for such devices.
beamatronic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't see this pointed out so far - The existing Amazon app can already scan bar codes.
cnaut 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the CueCat done right! Technology is similar but their is a clear use case.
redditmigrant 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the simplified dedicated device for creating a low friction experience, however one downside of having this as a separate device rather than an app on your phone is that you are more likely to loose it, forget where you kept it, etc. etc.
ahunt09 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe this is not an April Fools' Joke.
turisys 2 days ago 0 replies      
disruptive innovation at it's best.........
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazon is making service backed devices. As opposed to selling them.
cpezza85 2 days ago 0 replies      
hook it up with an invite code :)
thebokehwokeh2 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a time to be alive.
jhprks 2 days ago 0 replies      
People! amazon is known to be more sinister than google when it comes to april fools jokes, first it was using quad-rotors for delivery (which was stupid idea by the way) especially when it wasn't even april, now it is a little stick-like device automatically ordering food for you? what's next? a flying car? lol!
jhprks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice april fools prank amazon!!! LMAO
Facebook CPC Don't Waste Your Money jamespanderson.tumblr.com
442 points by ry0ohki  3 days ago   168 comments top 56
napoleoncomplex 3 days ago 4 replies      
Like others have said, it really depends on what you're selling and who you're targetting.

Our example (country specific mobile app for doctors), spent 100 on AdWords, end result was literally 0 app installs, 0 sign-ups, 0 everything. Medical keywords are expensive, no chance of sending them directly to the App Store/Play Store (that we saw at least), and no other useful targetting.

Here come Facebook mobile install ads. 40 spent so far, 500+ app installs, 200+ sign-ups, great retention. We can roughly target medical professionals, take them directly to the app stores, and the clicks are cheap as hell.

I have no doubt that AdWords work much better in other cases, and that FB can be useless, but it's not black and white, you need to know which tool fits the purpose.

will_brown 3 days ago 6 replies      
Within the last week I performed a similar "experiment" for newly created facebook.com/AmeriStartup.

I created two FB mobile advertisements to direct traffic to the website, though the website is more eCommerce/service than any type of sign up. Budget $50 over 3 days reach was ~20,000+; the click through rate was .5% and .4% for the 2 ads; just under 100 clicks to the website with none resulting in conversion.

More disturbing was the fan page promotion through FB (paid "Likes" in my own words). $10 budget per day over 3 days; reach = 3,000+; total likes 34. What disturbed me though was when I would go to the profile page of the users who "liked" the fan page as a result of the promotion, many of the user profiles did not appear to be legit. Moreover, the majority of these users who liked the page had a single facebook post in their entire facebook timeline. As unlikely as it is that of ~30 paid likes nearly all were were inactive facebook users who were otherwise compelled to interact with my paid promotion, it is equally unlikely that facebook would be so brazen in committing fraud on advertisers by creating and managing fake accounts to click paid promotion/ads which could easily be proven. Nevertheless is begs the question what are these accounts (fake, bots, ect...) and who controls them and why?

austenallred 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a single campaign, and a single test, with one set of variables. Concluding something overreaching like "Facebook CPC ads don't work" after a test like that is like saying, "I tried mixing two chemicals, and there was no reaction, chemicals must not cause reactions."

Think of it like a computer program. If 99% of the program is right but one thing is broken, the entire thing won't work. Marketing is, in a lot of respects, the same way. You can be missing one single variable and your entire campaign falls apart.

Look at all of the variables in this campaign - title, image, targeting options, whether you do sidebar ads, newsfeed ads, or mobile newsfeed, and most importantly the product/service offered on the other side (not to mention the conversion rate of the specific landing pages). Apparently this campaign wasn't profitable, but I run a half dozen profitable campaigns on Facebook at any given time (most of them CPC), and I know people who spend $10,000/day on Facebook ads.

Facebook ads do work under the right circumstances. Concluding that they don't after one try is a little absurd.

netcan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know about the bot/fraud accusation, but do not listen to the conclusion here. Those bounce rates are not the overall average and it's irrelevant anyway. With any online advertising you need to track conversions. Optimize & spend based on those, not based on hearsay or anecdotes. Hearsay and anecdotes are for deciding to try it and Facebook is so big that you should try it anyway.

There are unlimited examples of failed advertising campaigns on every single medium where failure can be seen measured. Most campaigns fail. They are a cost of doing business. Generalizing based on those would be very mistaken. Facebook is a new but giant ad program. The tools are still rough and "best practices" are even rougher. The consultants...

That doesn't mean that good campaigns can't be run on facebook. Facebook allows campaigns to be run that would be impossible to run anywhere else. In some cases the ROI is ridiculous. In others it's one of few things that works.

The number one reason for all these Facebook sux rants seems to be "it's not adwords." People want their adwords campaign to work on Facebook. If Coca Cola wanted to tell you that they're "the real thing" on adwords, it would be an uphill battle. A budget app on Facebook might be hard going on fb. Maybe not impossible, but it's a squeeze.

If you want to advertise a local children's art exhibition taking place this weekend, Facebook ads will work like magic. 'Friends of friends of the gallery who live close by and have kids.' There is no other platform that gives you anywhere near the reach, relevance and context that FB gives you for a campaign like that. I would expect the "ROI" to be under a dollar per physical ass-through-door.

babs474 3 days ago 1 reply      
I made this comment the other day in a thread about children accidentally clicking on google display ads, but I think it also applies here. The problem is measuring the effectiveness of early funnel ads from clicks.

Here is a good presentation from the quantcast guys about the "natural born clicker" problem. The people clicking on your display ad are probably anything but actual potential customers.

Clicks is just an easy holdover metric from the paid search side of digital advertising. It doesn't make sense in the context of early funnel ads. You need to measure the effect your display ads are having on your purchasing endpoints. Which is what the whole cross channel attribution industry is about.

Its quite possible your are getting good value from facebook ads, you've just inadvertently focused in on the worst subpopulation, the clickers.


kposehn 2 days ago 3 replies      
The problem with the article is that the author draws a conclusion with far too little data, akin to signing up for NetFlix and saying it is a terrible service when the first movie doesn't buffer fast enough.

I've spent mid six-figures on Facebook CPC ads over the last several years and can definitively say that they work very, very well - depending on your use case. Mine is not the OP's use case (though I've sold a metric a-ton of SaaS on FB).

I advise everyone here thinking about FB ads to do the following:

- If you try it, dedicate a serious amount of money. Nothing less than $500 will suffice as you need to get statistically significant data across all your targeting sets.

- Focus very narrowly on your target market. Trying women age 22-29? Do that in your metro area only. Keep your targeting sets small so you have fewer variables to contend with.

- Don't lose your nerve. If you give up too quickly you'll know nothing.

Finally, I do understand the OP's frustration with click numbers from FB vs. GA. Don't let it get you down, as this is common on every platform. Optimize for your actual logged data and you'll profit.

unreal37 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the evidence of something being wrong is very compelling. But one of the problems I see is that if Facebook even attempts to fix the problem, their revenue drops by 30% and investors/advertisers sue for fraud.

They're in a tough spot. But they should at least start to turn the ship in the right direction before their total ad business collapses as "ineffective".

hagbardgroup 2 days ago 2 replies      
Oh boy. Another one of these posts.

While you can self-serve advertising, it is not necessarily a good idea, in the same way that representing yourself in court is not necessarily a good idea.

Facebook cares much less about fraud than Google does, because FB has been under much less external pressure from shareholders to do it. That is not to say that various Google properties do not have fraud issues still. This is reflected in the price differentials.

After all, entire IPOs built around Adsense fraud occurred in the mid-2000s. There have been countless small businesses built around link fraud. It is quite likely that some of the major media names built on social traffic are also based in part upon defrauding social advertisers, because as of yet, few have cared about it, and many investors will just reward companies based on trivially faked traffic metrics.

But guess what? Circulation fraud is a problem that has been with us for over a century in media. Some combination of the price system, auditing, direct response ad testing, corporate incompetence, the good ol' boy network, and other methods have kept it from making advertising either totally useless or totally risk free.

Despite this, here are some issues that could help you advertise better in the future:

1. This is not a good ad. The copy is bad. The illustration is bad. The call to action is unwieldy. The logo placement is haphazard. The headline is Wrong. The human figure is in the wrong position. The button placement is haphazard. You would be better off plagiarizing ads from Mint and swapping out the logos and colors. If you want to keep the lady accountant mascot, put her to the left of whatever copy you want the visitor to read, and make her look at it.

2. The demographics you selected might as well have been at random. Market research is not throwing a dart at the entire planet and targeting whatever the dart landed on.

3. FB != Adwords in the same way that a newspaper != the yellow pages != a niche interest magazine != radio != flyers != e-mail spam != direct mail != a catalog and so on and so on and so on.

4. Your budget is so small that it barely qualifies as a test campaign. You ran a test campaign and discovered a hazard to avoid. That is the point of the early tests. If you run out of budget before you can discover a profitable marketing strategy, your tests will uncover that you are out of business.

In this case, you are dazzling yourself with your measurements because it is easier for you to do so than it is to think at a higher level about your objectives and the methods that you want to use to achieve them given your resources. You could call this Silicon Valley Degenerative Metrics Dementia. Sadly, there is no known cure for SVDMD.

I could personally care less if Facebook goes out of business, but as long as real people with wallets continue to use it, it will have some utility to advertisers, so long as they put forth at least some good faith effort to control their bot/fraud/misclick problems.

Considering some of the things that I have seen with Facebook, I am not confident that they really care, because many investors will reward them when they count bot users (or human users living in third world conditions) as if they were humans with first world bankrolls. There is no comparable Matt Cutts figure for Facebook. I think the real money on the platform, like was the case with Google for a long time, is on the criminal side.

Hopefully some short sellers are paying attention to these stories, because terror is the only thing that will induce Facebook to stop its absurd gyrations on the product side and actually police their platform. Short sellers can orchestrate a PR campaign and either pressure Facebook to start caring or can just make a lot of money by torpedoing the firm through aggressively publicizing its failures.

All that being said, I hope that this is helpful to you, and I am glad that more businesses are learning that online advertising is difficult, complex, and risky (like advertising everywhere and always in all mediums over all time periods using all sorts of technologies).

ShaneOG 3 days ago 4 replies      
> Google also lets me target only Desktop users. If Facebook would allow this same control, I could run this test again with more confidence.

FB do let you set a Desktop Only audience for ads. You need to use Power Editor (Google Chrome only) and select Desktop under Placements.

I'd like to see a re-run with Desktop targeting only.

Edit: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/ads-api/targe...

paul_f 3 days ago 4 replies      
CPC is just the wrong model for Facebook. It turns into "spray and pray". In this case, nobody is looking for a personal budget app, it just shows up uninvited. Whereas with Google, we know someone is likely looking for it when the ad appears.

I don't know what Facebook's long term business model is. IMO, this isn't it.

willholloway 2 days ago 0 replies      
The fraudulent clicks are a fact now, and they were in 2009 too, but if your earnings per click margin is high enough FB ads can definitely be worth it.

I did really well running dating ads in every English speaking market, and a lot of Spanish speaking markets as well.

FB ads were the second step in my post-college process of bootstrapping myself as a viable economic entity amidst the fallout and financial devastation of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

So thank you Mark Zuckerberg, if it wasn't for your creation I might have had to get a real job.

NoodleIncident 3 days ago 1 reply      
How much of Facebook's traffic is mobile these days? I personally prefer the desktop version, but I spend unhealthy amounts of time at the computer anyway. I know that my mom uses FB almost primarily through her iPad since she got it.

If FB's traffic is almost or even largely from mobile devices, paying to show ads for a non-mobile site to that traffic seems just silly. The site is downright hostile to mobile users; the text loads last, it starts with a video and a worthless image, and the actual text ping-pongs across the page to accommodate the clip art and screenshots.

Given this exact same data, the OP could spend a week making at least his landing page mobile, run another FB ad, and make a blog post about A/B testing your landing page for mobile users. But no, it's all Facebook's fault, because bashing Facebook will always, 100% get you upvotes on this site...

DivByZero 3 days ago 0 replies      
The article raises some great points and it's very frustrating to read these articles as the founder of a Facebook Ads Optimization tool aimed at SMBs (AdEspresso - http://adespresso.com - Shameless plug :P).

I'm not going to say that copy was not good or that the number Facebook tracks are correct. I find the copy of the ad used pretty good overall. However I've some consideration about it:

- I totally agree that Facebook must improve its tracking and must do more to prevent clicks fraud ... a problem which is still very relevant

- Lot's of Facebook Ads traffic comes from mobile nowadays. This can be good or bad. If you're promoting a website and aiming at conversions on a non mobile-friendly website you MUST disable mobile targeting.

- Overall $50 budget is not enough to get to any relevant conclusion.

- On a product like this (budgeting, finance, etc.) it's critical to find a very good audience to target. I'd suggest using a lot custom audiences.

- Facebook Ads bounce rate & overall quality is very often lower than Google, Yahoo & Bing, this is implicit in the nature of the platform. On Google you're getting traffic from people who are actively searching for a keyword strictly related to your product. On Facebook you're targeting people based on demographic profile and a vague interest. However Facebook is very often much cheaper than Google.

- CPC & CTR are meaningless metrics. You should always have conversion tracking and measure the overall CPA to acquire a customer. Click frauds, wrong reportings etc. ... they exists. You cannot do anything about it. You should not give a crap about it. Just check your Cost to acquire a customer and see if it makes sense.

- Sometime for some markets Facebook Ads for direct conversions simply don't work. Create valuable content like eBooks, webinars etc. to get cheaper leads and then close the sales funnel with targeted emails.

My 2 cents, hope it's useful for someone :)

chrisweekly 2 days ago 0 replies      
YMMV, but as an anecdote my wife's FB CPC campaign for her new private psychotherapy practice saw a > 2% click-through rate to her PsychologyToday page, and the number smust have been close to real because they led directly to phone calls from prospective clients who confirmed they'd seen her ad, deliberately clicked it. It took her maybe 6 weeks to fill her schedule and she turned it off.

Note a photo of a smiling female is the best creative for CTR, and narrowing the demographic in her use case was simple: females within 15 miles of her office, aged 25-45, in certain income range. We think the average lead who actually called probably saw her ad 6 or 7 times before clicking.

OP may have valid criticisms of FB ads, but in our case it was a massive success. Spending a couple bucks to acquire a client w a LTV over $1000 is a no-brainer.

Again, YMMV but if you use it right FB can be a fantastic tool.

shadowmint 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is vaguely interesting I suppose, but while 123/21243 (click through rate) is significant, 61/92 (lost clicks) is not.

...and therefore every single derived stat is completely nonsense. A percentage you say, on a sample size < 100?

Whats your confidence level on that?

(I also think that Facebook ads are a waste, and the conclusion is plausible; but the stats in the post are meaningless and probably deceptive)

rfergie 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm getting fed up with these post saying "Media X" is bad (where X is usually something to do with Facebook or Google display).

Two comments:

1. This media is sold in an auction. If the quality of the traffic vs what you pay for it is bad value then the bids are set too high. If I pay over the odds for something on ebay it isn't just ebay that is at fault.

2. Doing online advertising well is harder than Facebook and Google are incentivised to make clear. In some cases this stuff is very hard which is why there are people whose full time job it is to get it right.

As someone with some expertise in biddable media reading posts like this must be like a coder reading about how a programming language is flawed because the Todo app scaffolding doesn't quite do what the author expects.

jonathanjaeger 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know enough about your business to know whether you will ever get a positive ROI on Facebook ads, but a clear call to action and more targeted copy will have a world of difference in terms of conversion.

Compare the author's: "Easy to use, free online budget" to"Scared of being in debt? Get your FREE budget report instantly. Click here to request info."

I'm not saying that's the ideal copy, but you have to get people's interest and explain more. Make it specific to a location like "Virginia" or "Sydney" or "Melbourne" or "Kentucky" and target those specific places you'll get a higher CTR and conversion. The mobile vs. desktop part is a whole other discussion.

danielsju6 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just tested the water with Facebook Ads for my startup AppBlade.com as well, budgeted some $500. Did my best to target mobile application developers, this was my exact experience. Thousands of clicks, not a single sign-up. Also the CPC was higher than Google for our keywords.

Google in the same timeframe has had a measurable ROI and is converting at ~10% for us; even mobile clicks.

This is just data, it's worth experimenting for yourself but I definitely feel that something sketch is going on. Make sure to use utm_ codes and something like MixPanel so you can track the originating source for your paying customers.

cmstoken 3 days ago 1 reply      
>I created a Facebook CPC campaign (Clicks to a Website), and targeted females aged 22-40 in the USA and Australia who like several of my competitors pages and have an interest in Personal Finance.

(Sorry, this is a little off topic.)

Can the OP or someone else fill me in on how he was able to target people who like other pages (that he doesn't own)? Is it through lookalike audience or is there a more direct way to do it? I've been trying to do the same (target similar pages) but I'm clueless as to how to do it.

aelaguiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
A CTR of 0.4% is absolutely abysmal for a newsfeed ad and the fact that the author thinks that it is "quite high for an ad like this" makes me think he has no idea what he's talking about.
fabiandesimone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure why all the hate towards Facebook lately in HN. I do FB ads exclusively ALL DAY and I can pretty much tell you it works.

FB Ads is a very stubborn creature. There's a lot to learn in order to make it work, their editorial team is trigger happy with account bans... but the volume is massive and the targeting options are amazing.

Running a 60$ is nothing on FB, you need to run volume and optimize.

I"m doing a lot of mobile right now and you can go anywhere from .10 to .50 per install and basically scale to infinity if you like.

gburt 2 days ago 1 reply      
My very rough and sloppy analysis gives you a credible interval of a conversion rate between 0.28% and 5.61%. At the upper bound of that conversion rate (5.5%), I would handwave and suggest this is comparable to your Google CPC results (depending on the actual cost per click). If I were you, I'd collect more data.

And try different ad text. Acknowledge that this is a different platform than search and you need to advertise differently. Don't be so quick to dismiss it.

Edit: and I was comparing apples to oranges anyway. If I use your Google Analytics data for both measures, we get a range of 0.39%-7.7%. This upper bound actually exceeds your Google CPC result. You don't have enough data.

rubyn00bie 2 days ago 0 replies      
So to sum up the article: advertising in an information cesspool renders bad results.

Call me a hater, I am one, and completely revel in the privilege :)

acoyfellow 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm baffled that no one has realized a simple solution to the "click farms".

Simply exclude the countries that are known to be click farms from seeing your page at all.

On your page settings, you'll see a "Country Restrictions" section. http://i.imgur.com/snkv77Q.png

When your page is not visible to a certain area, Facebook will not serve ads to people in that country.


jliptzin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook ads don't work for us anymore because they disabled them, without warning, without explanation, with no apparent recourse. The ads aren't against any TOS and our competitors continue to advertise without issue.
chromaton 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had good luck with Facebook ads. I think the targeting is key. If you target people who are already familiar with your brand, it helps a lot. You can target, for example people who already "Like" your page. And you can target their friends as well. Facebook also has a feature that lets you serve ads to people by their e-mail address.

If you stick with those, you're pretty much guaranteed to be targeting real people, and not bots or fraudsters.

Also, learn to use the Facebook Power Editor, as you get a lot more control over how your posts appear, how your ads work, etc.

easy_rider 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those visitors probably didn't make it to your server, and got lost during redirects (canceled the request).This makes sense if they are using 3G.As there are at least 1 (sometimes 2) redirects between the click and your site.They track the visitor before they get redirected obviously.

I have dev'd for an advertising company, have worked with several campaigning networks like HasOffers, and have found similar results. This is more than common.

Still very interesting that the bulk seems to be Android (mobile traffic). A must know if you are not targeting mobile..

Kiro 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm getting pretty good results from Facebook CPC. I pay $0.12 per click and get around 50% "conversions" from that. I run a service which doesn't require any registration though and a conversion is just someone doing anything in it.
arbuge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paying for traffic by the click/impression/<anything other than conversion> is the most dangerous thing to do on the internet if you don't fully trust the integrity of the payee or the quality of its network.
AznHisoka 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why are you wasting your money sending mobile users? Even mobile web users are useless as most are drive-by visitors that might not get the FULL impression they'll get through a desktop browser.

Even if you optimize for mobile web, I'm sure they won't experience the true power and wow-ness of your app unless they visit it thru a desktop.

jsonne 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a huge fan of only using FB for retargeting. You know you aren't targeting spammers, and there's some sort of legitimate interest there. The only risk here is some cannibalization and duplication, but if you use some higher end analytics and pay attention to it that shouldn't be too much of an issue.
danielweber 2 days ago 0 replies      
I grepped here and the target page for CPC but I didn't get a critical question answered:

What is Facebook CPC??

flibble 3 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't a problem. A problem occurs only if people assume a click is worth one amount when really it is worth another amount.

Simply run your campaign for $X and measure your resulting sales, $Y, and now you know if you are wasting money or not.

If Facebook 'fix the problem' then the CPC rate will simply increase.

hazelnut 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should try out the Facebook Power Editor for Facebook ads. There you have the option to target just desktop users.

It is a bit more complex but you will get more possibilities with this editor: https://www.facebook.com/ads/manage/powereditor/

danra 2 days ago 0 replies      
While it's definitely possible that OP's ad campaign sucks, that's not the main point in the article, so how come many comments focus on that?

The post's conclusion is that there's a strong indication of Facebook charging for mis-clicks and double charging for non-unique clicks.

bigmario 2 days ago 1 reply      
Running an ad on mobile for a site that's not optimized for mobile is a HUGE red flag, not some afterthought that should be mentioned in the conclusion. I'd wager anything most of Facebook's traffic comes from smartphones and tablets nowadays.
amaks 2 days ago 0 replies      
"First, note that Facebook seemed to have charged me for non-unique users clicking the ad, as well as myself clicking the ad."

This sounds like a bug (or a feature, i.e. fraud).

spamross 2 days ago 0 replies      
Desktop and iPhone traffic are better converting than Android traffic, so advertisers bid higher to display on these platforms.

For this type of website, he should be bidding desktop - will pay maybe 40% more per click, but much better site engagement.

FB Ads still have a long way before the tools are as robust as Adwords, but learn the platform and run more tests before you trash it. Unless you're going for something ultra-targeted it's rare to nail a CPC platform on the first go.

grimmfang 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have used Facebook CPC extensively for my e-commerce company and it has worked wonderfully ( with the right settings ). I have had over 5% of clicks convert in certain months.

However, I have had little luck with adsense for the same company. Honestly I think picking an ad network for your market is a much bigger decision than "tuning" a network you are set on using!

bigbugbag 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting post but it's hardly news, a few years back when facebook was struggling to make money I remember reading a detailed article about how facebook delving into advertisement could mean the end of the web as we know it and by that it meant the end of ad-supported websites.

First facebook ads would drive online ads pricing towards the bottom, then it would make obvious something almost all of us know: online advertisement is mostly an overpriced scam that doesn't work and most netizens despise.

Then the usual business model to support costs for running a website would crumble and disappear.

Sadly I can't find this article now (thanks to google tweaking its search engine, it's now hardly possible to find an old results or anythine relevant past the first half of the first results page), but I remember it pointed out that facebook users are much less receptive to ads than google search users. People using a search engine are actively looking for something and ads can be actually be useful to them, but for people looking for social interactions with people they know ads are quite useless and an annoyance.

Right now facebook lack of transparency and accuracy in their ad business means more profit and less trouble for them while hiding the elephant in the room, so don't expect the situation to change soon unless they're given incentive to do so.

skavish 3 days ago 0 replies      
we had very similar experience with facebook ads and stopped it completely. here is our post on that http://blog.animatron.com/post/79877876767/the-mysterious-ca...
pyrrhotech 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm loving my FB short. What a terribly managed company. So frivolous with their cash, and immature overall
bwb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ya we stopped all ads as well, they just had shitty results. And most of the likes for those campaigns were from people who looked fake.
nigo 2 days ago 0 replies      
For my travel startup DealScoopr, we saw similar similar results from Facebook CPC Ads - low conversion rates, mostly Android traffic. Google Adwords turned out to be much more effective.
joshdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
Try both, double down on what works. Why wouldn't you try fb ads? Many companies have success, see if you can be one.
joanojr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lol paying for marketing. Go find your customers, it's free.
interstitial 3 days ago 2 replies      
Let's fix the title: "Facebook - Don't Waste Your Time or Money." Who wants in on the Facebook cash cow? Well, you need to be on the other side of this international scam. The click farms, the fake likes, the fake pages, the dark side that actually MAKES Zuck rich and he has no incentive to block.
southflorida 2 days ago 0 replies      
with the traffic this cat is getting now for running a crap campaign on FB i think ill do a bogus writeup on how bad my campaign was put together and put it in HN too :/
viggity 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it highly depends upon how you're targeting and what kind of product your selling. I've got a friend who is using fb CPC for physical products (that includes a concierge service) and my jaw hit the floor when he told me the ROI. Admittedly, they have a pretty high revenue per customer, but my point stands that it depends on what you're selling.
notastartup 3 days ago 0 replies      

    How can Facebook fix this? They need to work like Google.
but they simply cannot/unwilling to do this because they are NOT google, otherwise they'd already have done this. I think come earnings report, they will have a lot to answer to, possibly lawsuit or investigation happening.

interstitial 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not saying Facebook is astroturfing, but there seems to be a lot "new" accounts when these thing come up.
whatevsbro 3 days ago 0 replies      
> I think half of the Facebook business model is based on people accidentally clicking things .. How can Facebook fix this?

- Why fix something that's not broken? It's working exactly as Facebook intended it.

mpeg 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why would you send mobile FB clicks to your website? Send them to a mobile app on mobile (!!!)

You can target only desktop users, if you want to send people to a website

jyu 3 days ago 0 replies      
People with no idea of how to run ad campaigns should not be bad mouthing X ad platform.

There are so many ways this post is wrong. First, a .4% CTR for a newsfeed ad sucks. That means either your demo targeting sucks, or your ad sucks, or both. Second, if android visits don't convert, change targeting to desktop visitors only. Third, traffic sources behave differently. You can't jump to the conclusion that they're scamming you just because one traffic source worked and another one didn't. Another possibility is that you haven't tried hard enough.

Apache Wave apache.org
368 points by ConceitedCode  2 days ago   111 comments top 20
bane 2 days ago 4 replies      
I used Wave on a number of projects as well as some of the biggerish discussion "waves" back when it was still with Google.

For the projects, it was awesome. This was a long time ago, so I don't remember all the excruciating details, but it made coordination and collaboration on big documents pretty trivial. We also had some group messaging and file-storage accounts that went virtually unused because of Wave.

Our use-case was in writing large-ish documents (a few hundred pages each) as a committee. And it was pretty trivial to just create a wave for each section of each document, then use top level comments in the Wave for each subsection, and capture everybody's brainstorming for each section. It was like a living collaborative outline that eventually filled itself in and turned into a section. We used links off of the discussions into Google docs for collaborative editing of the documents and when we felt everything was good, somebody would simply go in and copy-paste all the text into master good doc for final cleanup.

Having worked on similar projects in the past, coordinating this kind of activity with email and word docs (or even google docs) is a huge PIA. When we decided to move it to Wave for a small trial (to figure out the workflow) it was pretty trivial and sort of worked naturally. There was a minimum of document syncing issues, or confusion about who said what in which meeting or email. The entire past history of discussion, with threading and everything was open for review. It was amazing despite many of the obvious issues with the Wave client.

The big discussion "groups" on the other hand were mess. It was impossible to find where new comments in old threads were posted, and once the conversations got big enough, the UI slowed to an unusable mess. Wave didn't last long enough for anybody to figure out how to deal with this.

Outside of those two use-cases I really didn't use Wave for much else. I suspect I would have found other uses as time went on if it had survived (and especially if it had flowered and federated).

I've thought long and hard about why Wave failed and it really does come down to 2 things:

- lack of focus

- poor user experience that never seemed to get any better

Wave tried really hard to be all things to everybody, with some really neat tech demos to show use cases (arranging a group meeting by embedding a poll and a map etc.). I think it was kind of like the C++ of communication mediums. It's sort of everything, but you can only realistically use some subset of the functionality in practice and the parts you don't use just end up seeming useless and weird.

On the user side, carving out just the functionality for your use-case was also hard. And the slow as syrup client really was a huge turn-off. Weird, non-standard scroll bars everywhere (which never got fixed and never worked like anybody expected), nobody liked real-time global echo as they typed (brought about by a confusion of how IM actually worked in practice), and way too many half-baked widgets and bots and things.

I think Wave should have simply focused on a few simple use-cases, nailed and refined those, then grown all the other awesome ideas organically so the user-community could start to slot those into their workflows.

Wave might have worked better if it was launched simply as a threaded messageboard with real-time replies showing up in a post. Users would have also needed 1 more layer of organizational abstraction, a "Wave container" to carve out different groups of Waves. In my use-case above we really needed to have a container for each document, with each Wave for each major section. But in the most general case, a "pg" type person could have created a "Hacker News" container, and each submission and comment history would have been the individual Waves.

When Wave launched, everything was a wave and there was no way to organize them, so people ended up using top-level comments in the waves as the "topic submissions" and the Waves went on for thousands of comments across dozens of topics before they started to break. It just wasn't a good organizational metaphor, but the system and the client didn't offer a good alternative.

Then the client was clunky and slow, nothing else on the web felt as slow even with such little graphical sparkle. It was basically a side-by-side email client by look, yet acted like it was folding proteins or mining bitcoin in some worker thread.

StefanKarpinski 2 days ago 4 replies      
The crucial tactical error the Wave project made was not integrating with existing systems like email and chat. This forced people to either jump fully onboard with Wave or ignore it. Predictably, when faced with an ultimatum like that, everyone just kept using email (and IRC and wikis). If the Wave team had instead spent a fraction of their development efforts on seamless integration with email, IRC, and other relevant protocols, even at the cost of some simplification of Wave itself, the project might very well have been a success and more advanced features could have been added later once adoption picked up.
shadowmint 2 days ago 2 replies      
The current Apache Wave code base is a vast complex tangle (GWT wasn't the right decision, I doubt web sockets was either), and there's virtually no life on the developer list.

To be in any way seriously useful, this should be reimplemented as from scratch with a strict separation of UI and wave server back end, with a massively simplified deployment process. (Go would be a good choice imho).

The ideas behind wave are interesting, but the technical debt that Google dumped out when they abandoned wave is so massive, I consider the current wave code base a completely lost cause.

Seriously; interested developers drop into the mailing list form time to time; look at the code base, then run screaming. The reports barely even get done.

gyaresu 2 days ago 7 replies      
In terms of a modern day 'Wave' I don't understand why I had to find out about Slack https://slack.com/ from a Quartz article: http://qz.com/192948/slack-the-best-way-to-organize-your-bus...
bokchoi 2 days ago 2 replies      
Any particular reason why this was posted today? It seems to have been incubating at Apache since 2010. Is there a roadmap?


jdp23 2 days ago 2 replies      
Back in 2009/10, we ran our startup primarily on Wave for several months. Several of us found it very useful; I thought it was a promising combination of email, Google Docs, and chat. On the other hand, the usability was horrible and it was ridiculously buggy; several people hated it with a passion.

I can see why Google gave up on it but it's disappointing that they haven't incorporated these ideas into other products. And it doesn't seem like Apache Wave ever gained enough momentum to move forward.

What other projects are looking at similar chat/email/collaborative editing hybrids?

vertex-four 2 days ago 3 replies      
My opinion of where Wave went wrong is that it was completely non-extensible past a couple of fairly limited extension points. You couldn't build brand new real-time applications on top of Wave.

What they should've done was simply expose their real-time technology stack, then let people create documents backed by whatever (sandboxed) Javascript they want. When you open a wave, the Wave client would download the relevant Javascript, then use that to generate the user interface for the document, while managing the complexities of operational transforms and federation itself.

DomBlack 2 days ago 2 replies      
I used Wave quite a lot, it was great to arranging meet ups of groups of people as you could all have an active conversation and use the "Poll" widget to say if you where coming or not.

I also used it for other things, but organising groups of people was the main use. Once it was discontinued I tried to run the open source version, but it was never really that stable and in the end we swapped back to emails.

It's a great shame to see this dead

ecspike 2 days ago 1 reply      
I created one of widgets that launched with Wave to use VOIP services to make a conference call from inside the gadget.

Part of me wished it stayed because I had a single letter user id.

Anyways, meeting minutes were something that it did well in my observation. Liveblogging was also interesting with it especially if you had maybe 2-3 editors and everyone else was view-only. Live tweeting events is rather feeble compared to what could have been done with Wave.

kylemaxwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish every day for this to finally become usable and deployable. A bit of GitHub integration and I have tons of places I'd get Wave going again.
lawnchair_larry 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand this submission. There's no news here, it's an "about" page from 2010. What am I missing?
tomphoolery 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Allthough Googles own server was never released as Open Source itself, they did release FedOne as a reference implementation of it. It was open source, and allowed people to both run and federate their own wave servers together. It did not connect to Googles main wave.google.com server, but did connect to a special sandbox server allowing testing of the protocol, server and clients.

What idiot greenlighted that feature? :P

"Yeah let's make a distributed social network but don't let them connect to the one EVERYONE IS ALREADY ON"

jlebar 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Wave a real-time communication and collaboration tool.

Serious question: Am I a bad person for closing the tab as soon as I noticed that the first sentence is missing a verb?

Programming is all about details, and I guess I see it as a strong signal if a project can't get details right on their landing page.

On the other hand, maybe this unfairly biases me against projects maintained by non-native English speakers. And even among native speakers, perhaps I shouldn't be biased against people who choose to spend their time on pursuits other than writing perfect English.

ozten 2 days ago 0 replies      
At Mindcamp in 2009 we had a session to try to figure out how/why to use Wave. We tried to use Wave to facilitate said conversation. In my opinion, it was a wash.

Wave had amazing technology and perhaps a "before it's time" communication model, but it needed a better narrative or training step.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I liked Google Wave, and really liked being able to write software robots on AppEngine that joined waves like humans, and could read and write to waves. Potentially a nice platform to develop for, until Google Wave was cancelled.

I have run Apache Waves a few times, easy to set up and the simplified UI is very nice.

What I am missing from Apache Wave is a platform for writing software robots. Does anyone know of any useful options for this?

Zenst 2 days ago 1 reply      
I always wondered why Wave was not intergrested with Usenet as could of brought usenet into the modern World interface/interaction wise. Beyond that it reminded me of many Web 2.0 Nortel project, great technicaly but pushing the resource boundaries of the time. Hence had its sluggish moments, as in on a fat pipe was great, but consumer pipes was meh.

Still, it moves on.

harveylee 2 days ago 2 replies      
I remember when Google Wave was hyped up to the point where people were begging others for a beta invite. When I first got access, it seemed pretty interesting but oddly enough, nothing really motivated me to use it again.
jo_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
Strangely, every one of the links in the downloads page has 404'd for me. I was quite disappointed to see Wave die, since I think it was both incredibly forward looking on Google's part and, all things considered, immensely useful. I wish it could have become the email replacement it wanted to be. It suffered greatly, though, from higher latency, intermittent bugs, and lack of (very) widespread adoption.
0xdeadbeefbabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't you prefer this for a forum instead of phpBB?
pearjuice 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember back in the day people would kill for a Google Wave invite. It felt like all the cool kids were using it and if you weren't on it, you meant zero. When you actually got on it after reading all the praising reviews and begging for invites on googlewaveinvites.org or whatever shady site you stumbled upon, it was a massive anti climax. Sure, it looked really good but it felt so... I don't know... void?

I think we all just wanted to be part of the "Google Wave croud" and the hype was more of a focus than the actual product. Thinking about it, I don't even remember what Wave actually was or why Google dismissed it.

Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain stackexchange.com
370 points by aaronbrethorst  15 hours ago   47 comments top 22
pyduan 13 hours ago 2 replies      
For those who are hungry for more, Lucas Vieira Barbosa (LucasVB) has made a lot of great such illustrations for Wikipedia over the years:


Spittie 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish my teacher showed me stuff like that in high school instead of just scary numbers. While I do understand that eventually you need to get down to the numbers, my brain seems to pick up the overall concept much faster seeing nice visual representations like those.
deckar01 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I just posted a visualization of multiplication of the integers modulo n http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/733754/visually-stun... to this question.

This visualization makes it easy to notice the factors of n and the symmetry of multiplication.

cruise02 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I love these. I posted several on my blog a few years ago.

Six Visual Proofs: http://www.billthelizard.com/2009/07/six-visual-proofs_25.ht...

Visualization of (X + 1)^2: http://www.billthelizard.com/2009/12/math-visualization-x-1-...

greenyoda 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that nobody posted the visual proof for the countability of the rational numbers:


gabemart 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This page just underlines my complete mathematical illiteracy. I don't really understand any of it. I would like to get a basic grounding in math, but it seems like so wide a field I have no idea where to start.
jloughry 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This animated gif of the Fourier transformation from the time domain to the frequency domain (from the original post on stackexchange.com) is just stunning:


Where were these when I was in school?

cubancigar11 7 hours ago 0 replies      
While the most up-voted Pythagoras theorem proof [1] might be fun to see, it is rather the proof of the spectacular failure of our education - that nobody remembers anything taught in our school. The similarity of right triangles in a circle is proven using Pythagoras theorem in the first place!

Thankfully a better proof is present [2] which depends on distributive property and algebra.

1. http://math.stackexchange.com/a/733765/1411202. http://math.stackexchange.com/a/734887/141120

yogrish 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Another site that explains Mathematical concepts Intuitively.Trigonometry: http://betterexplained.com/articles/intuitive-trigonometry/ Other Topics: http://betterexplained.com/archives/
imodgames 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here's one for the integral of y=x^2:http://www.mathedpage.org/proof/integrating/
alok-g 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a great book along these lines. Not always visual, but always (and often unexpectedly) simple.


sphericalgames 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Animated / interactive Bezier curves: http://www.jasondavies.com/animated-bezier/
caio1982 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really neat representations. I've learned a lot of new stuff tonight from the original post, thanks for sharing! My favorite so far: Gibbs Phenomenon.
mattdeboard 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Kind of a meta question but is all the latex markup on that page supposed to be styled or do people just write it out like that out of habit
ryannevius 11 hours ago 0 replies      
PhasmaFelis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've often seen hypercubes pictured or described like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hypercube.svg

...which doesn't really explain much. Then I saw this animation of a rotating hypercube and suddenly it made so much more sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tesseract.gif

The takeaway for me was that, in that static depiction, the inner cube is a cube, and the outer cube is a cube, and each of the six (apparent) truncated pyramids is also a cube, just a visually distorted one. There are eight cubes in the hypercube and each shares a face with six others, just as the six squares in a cube each share an edge with four others. You could have told me all of that and I wouldn't have understood it, but after seeing the animation I was able to work it out for myself.

shitgoose 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice! My personal favorite is "The sum of the exterior angles of any convex polygon will always add up to 360".
z3t4 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The reason why you understand this better then numbers might be because you are more visual orientated.
dfc 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The topology answer is a great example of the problem some mathematicians have communicating ideas to lay people.
kimonos 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting and easy-to-understand presentations. Thanks for sharing!
ilaksh 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The last one on the page at the moment. Is this what I think it is? LOL. http://i.imgur.com/8m47tuJ.png
How I Hacked a Router disconnected.io
325 points by jackpea  1 day ago   88 comments top 19
ushi 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interesting read. On thing i do not understand is why software updates/packages are still not cryptographically signed. It's a common thing on Linux. Notepad++ provides checksums[0] for their packages - so (i assume) they are actually aware of the problem.

[0] http://sourceforge.net/p/notepad-plus/discussion/1290588

siliconc0w 1 day ago 11 replies      
Everything is feasible except the faked linkedin email - it wouldn't pass SPF and so I'm pretty sure gmail would junk it.
jlgaddis 1 day ago 2 replies      
While this is an interesting article and this is certainly feasible, I'm left with the opinion that this is fiction and didn't actually happen.
ambrop7 1 day ago 3 replies      
"It took about a week before Bill decided to upgrade notepad++ to the new version."

Which is why I'm always wary of installing unsigned software. In such cases I try to check some hashes some way. Obviously if the download page lists them I check against those, but in most cases it's insufficient because that page is not HTTPS. So I always help myself with google, both by googling the filename to find some pages listing a hash, and by googling my own hash (note that Google is accessed with HTTPS).

ivan_ah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Okay so OpenWRT stopped being optional now...

Any hardware recommendations for what I should look in for in a router? Is old better than new? Any particular model that is well supported?

svas 1 day ago 3 replies      
Curious how the author knew to seed the backdoor'ed Notepad++ before Bill clicked the link?

I suppose you could just serve up a fake backdoor program for every *.exe\msi download, and remove the honeypot on the second download? The first download would execute and maybe do nothing (or error) - prompting a second download which led to the real thing.

refurb 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm curious how the email attack worked, don't most web-based email services flag emails that come from one domain, but contain a link to another?
quackerhacker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe some NetSec guys could answer this please. What would happen with his update to Notepad++? Would it still update the package?

Even if the target set his computer to auto-update (or something that did not require admin authentication), wouldn't he have some type of notion that something went wrong during his update?

With the target being an InfoSec guy, I would've imagined he would at least be running some type of network monitoring, like wireshark or little snitch, ESP on his personal computer. Wouldn't he have to authorize the outgoing packets?

Sorry, if I come off analytical to the story...it's a great read...I just want to make sure my networks are locked down. I've even went as far as dedicated networks for my server and home usage, and preventing internal ip addresses from communicating to each other (sucks for airplay).

userbinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
tl;dr: Social engineering won. It was over the moment he got tricked into clicking on a link in an email.
pcunite 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sweet story ... and another vote for MikroTik routers for personal use.
k_os 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess it's a good thing I have my laptop setup to use google's dns no matter what network i'm on.
prez 1 day ago 2 replies      
Doesn't the target need to have an active router admin session for the CSRF to work?

Unless I'm missing something...

zurn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This doesn't sound like a router. Maybe a home wifi ap / NAT box?
frozenport 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you use a different firmware, would your problem be fixed?
icebraining 1 day ago 1 reply      
One more reason to use NoScript - it would have made the CSRF significantly harder to pull off. And a reason to use an OS with a proper package manager, of course ;)
yp_master 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about using Soekris or Alix for a router instead of Netgear?
CodeGlitch 1 day ago 0 replies      
So why was 'Bill' - an infosec expert running Windows?
conchy 1 day ago 1 reply      
How much harder would this attack have been with a fully patched OSX Mavericks target and an Apple Time Capsule router?
tsmash 1 day ago 1 reply      
Which one do you think will happen first: This guy goes to jail, or this guy gets a job offer?
Comic Sans, meet Comic Neue comicneue.com
330 points by calibwam  6 hours ago   108 comments top 31
Intermernet 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Just a quick note to the authors:

To test every letter in the English Language Alphabet use The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, and not The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

Otherwise you miss the s.

EDIT: Some fun reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pangrams

malanj 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I agree with this (http://www.snapily.com/blog/comic-sans-why-all-the-hate/) and specifically the comment by the creator of Comic Sans: If you love it, you dont know much about typography, Mr. Connare says. But, he adds, if you hate it, you really dont know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby. This meme was become a bit tiresome imho.
freshyill 2 hours ago 1 reply      
You know, there are, and have been many, many good comic fonts out there. Blambot sells them gives many others away for free. This is where actual comic book creators go for fonts.

Anytime I see someone insisting on using Comic Sans, I gently inform them that Comic Sans isn't even a good comic font, and point them to Blambot, where they can get better ones.


1_player 2 hours ago 2 replies      
As a programmer, I really love Cosmic Sans Neue Mono (which I don't think is related to this typeface) -- now renamed to Fastasque Sans Mono:


You either hate it or love it, and I find it gorgeous on Sublime Text.

computer 6 hours ago 4 replies      
> "Download Comic Neue, free for a limited time"

What does that mean? There's no real license information anywhere.

_ak 2 hours ago 0 replies      
People keep listing alternatives, here's another one: Comic Jens. http://www.netzallee.de/extra/comic-jens-en

It's even CC-licensed.

binarymax 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is headed in the right direction - but certain things still make the text look not quite right. The angle on some of the vertical lines is still off, giving an unsettling effect, and the curve on 'C/c' need to be smoothed out a bit. Now the next step is to write a worm that replaces comic sans with this on all machines.
Wohui 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of Comic Sans have been beaten into shape while maintaining the honesty that made Comic Sans so popular."

It's half as honest. It's dilute Comic Sans. It's the diet coke of casual.

currysausage 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
What is "Comic Neue" supposed to mean?

It's "Neue Helvetica", not "Helvetica Neue". It's only called "Helvetica Neue" in lists for the sake of alphabetical sorting.

German "Neue" always stands before the noun. "New Helvetica" -> "Neue Helvetica". The generic form is "Neu", so "Helvetica New" -> "Helvetica Neu".

BasDirks 6 hours ago 4 replies      
The kerning is sloppy, see "f ox".
zokier 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is too regular/rigid to be true replacement to Comic Sans.
davexunit 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Proprietary font? No, thanks.
r12e 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always loved comic sans, it's like a family Labrador that just wants to have fun.

When more discerning people around me criticise it, I send them off to read: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/im-comic-sans-asshole

Thanks for the refresh, OP. I can't wait to see where I can sneak this in.

coffeecodecouch 6 hours ago 4 replies      
First thoughts: I like it, it will be interesting to see what the typography community has to say. Slightly off topic, but it's funny how Comic Sans, a font, has become so widely hated and mocked even among non-tech savvy people. There seems to be a tipping point where something becomes cool to hate. It's absolutely impossible nowadays to use Comic Sans, even if it's completely appropriate for the situation, without being mocked by people who have never used anything else but Times New Roman.
craigrozynski 5 hours ago 3 replies      

You will notice some issues if you use Windows Chrome, which doesn't render TTF well, particularly italics and obliques.

The fix for this is to include SVG font files. I excluded SVG as they're 'advertised' as only existing to support legacy iOS. Today I found out that's not entirely the case.

As for licensing, I provide the files for free for now and state on the site 'No attribution acquired'. I'm being vague because at this point I'm undecided whether to start selling it or not.

Thanks :D

dghf 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"... perfect ... for ... writing passive aggressive office memos."


Tloewald 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The metrics on this font are a bit weird. E.g. as the type gets bolder it seems to tighten up vertically.
ChrisNorstrom 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Beautiful. Friendly. Human. More readable. You've redeemed one of the most hated fonts. You might want to fix up a few kerning issues and re-release but overall I love it. Feels friendly and personable.

If you can do the same with Papyrus you will be knighted.

factorialboy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice, a monospace variant would be awesome!
aaronetz 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but can someone recommend a good book about typography? I mean more about the history of typography, less about how to design new fonts.
BESebastian 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of Comic Sans have been beaten into shape while maintaining the honesty that made Comic Sans so popular."

Doesn't this directly make Comic Neue inferior to Comic Sans for people with dyslexia, one of the original fonts plus points.

kalms 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like it, although the kerning definitely needs some fine tuning, as others have already mentioned. I have a hard time seeing it catching on though, but I hope I'm wrong! Good job!
lngric006 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Who wants to break it to them that it should be jumps not jumped :)
symmetricsaurus 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The oblique versions don't work on Windows(7). The letter shapes are severely deformed and the sizes are all over the place.

Otherwise I think it could be a usable font (if not for the prevailing opinion about comic sans).

duongkai 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It does not support unicode characters.
joshdance 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I like it.
stuaxo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
But does it work well in comics ?
notindexed 6 hours ago 2 replies      
that kern ing
sevkih 3 hours ago 0 replies      
should've made it a banana stand, there is always money in the banana stand
ivanca 2 hours ago 0 replies      
FYI "I-hate-comic-sans" is better and is permanently free: http://www.dafont.com/i-hate-comic-sans.font

Also, Rondouillar: http://www.dafont.com/rondouillard.font?l[]=1

forrestthewoods 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Yes. How dare those mothers use Comic Sans when printing a flyer for their child's birthday party instead of scouring the internet for a free but also appealing font!
Ask HN: Idea Sunday
310 points by rokhayakebe  21 hours ago   512 comments top 107
raldi 20 hours ago 15 replies      
A way for employees to push back against their coworkers when they email too much crap to too wide an audience. In other words, I wish my Inbox had a little voting widget next to each message:

    +------------------------------------+    | 4,376 people received this message |    |                                    |    | [Cool, it was ]   [It was a waste] |    | [important and]   [of my time to ] |    | [worthy of our]   [  read this   ] |    | [    time     ]   [   message    ] |    |                                    |    +------------------------------------+
Then, as votes are collected, the sender (and maybe everyone else) gets some kind of feedback on how their message was received. Maybe the report could include a total of how much time was spent reading it: "Your coworkers spent a total of 36.4 hours reading your message. It cost the company $1458 in employee time. Sending it was therefore a moderately bad use of company resources" .. or, if the voting was favorable, "1722 of your coworkers enjoyed reading your message. When you were deciding whether to hit Send or Discard, you made the right choice in clicking Send."

Edit: As I've said in the past when posting ideas on HN, if you think this is worth doing, please run with it! I make no claim on "owning" the idea, and all I ask is that if it makes you a billionaire, you commission of bust of me to install in your parlor. (Bronze or marble only, please.)

hooande 20 hours ago 15 replies      
A solution for the "too many tabs open" problem. Need a way to save my history in an organized and interactive manner, with a nice looking UI. Sort of like the old WebMynd (http://webmynd.com). I find that most of my tabs are open as a form of reminder. If I close it, I'll forget it and might as well not have seen it. Same if I hide it away in some kind of bookmarking app. I think it would be best to apply a UI layer over my entire history in a way that makes it easy to search and recall things that I found interesting int he past.

Need to store all data locally for privacy reasons, and have a way to logically group urls by content and bring them back to the front occasionally (maybe with some kind of gamification?) so they don't disappear.

quaunaut 20 hours ago 15 replies      
This is less an idea, more something for someone to think about.

We need to figure out how to defeat the internet echo chamber effect.

Notice how often, when a community gets started between a small group of people(such as early Reddit or HN), it's a place of intelligent, productive discussion, where people measure what they say instead of just spouting extreme rhetoric?

Yet, once these communities grow, you inevitably see the "How bout dem Cowboys" problem, where it seems like the point of discussion is more to get the most approval instead of trying to argue a point, and where anyone with a disagreeing opinion feels unwelcome even if they're willing to put a lot of effort into their response?

I haven't quite figured out how to solve it, but I really want to. I've been a part of several online communities like that now, and it always ends up the same way. Once it gets big enough, finding good conversation gets very rare.

gfosco 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I want to search for furniture, and other products, based on dimensions. My girlfriend and I furnished a new apartment recently, and had to be space conscious.. This spot next to the couch could fit a 10" wide table. It's not easy to search for that, yet the information is there. My original plan was going to use the Amazon API and take a search term and page through looking for dimensions that fit. I still think it's a great idea, but obviously not huge, and I don't really have time to build it. If you do, hook me up.
nemo1618 20 hours ago 6 replies      
I have a strange fascination with knowing exactly how I discovered a particular artist, film, website, etc.

I'd really love a browser extension that could keep track of how the user reached a given site. Then they could go back later and input, say, a YouTube URL, and it would show exactly what lead them to that song.

I started writing such an extension myself, but I was clearly out of my element. So when Mozilla shut down their Firefox Add-on Builder, I lost motivation completely. For someone with experience created extensions, though, I imagine this would be pretty straightforward.

EDIT: no, using the browser history is not good enough. Browsing is a non-linear activity (especially with multiple tabs open), and to visualize your path through the web you need a graph, not just a list of sites.

d0m 17 hours ago 5 replies      
Idea: Airbnb for food. An app where you buy meals cooked by your neighbors.

I see two big trends these days.

1) People seems more willing to connect back with their neighbors and community.

2) People have less time but want to eat more healthy.

Imagine this scenario:

While going back home, a student could check on the app what's available to eat for tonight. Next to his place, there's a family willing to sell the extra tacos for a few bucks. The student would then just stop by and pick them up.

Obviously, there would be quality rating and the possibility to reserve a few days in advance.

Spittie 18 hours ago 13 replies      
I've been having this in my mind for a while:

A nice way to organize & share my knowledge. I know that lots of people have a self-hosted wiki or similar where they write nice tricks, something that they learned about and might be useful in the future, nice ideas...

Well, I'd like something like this, but more "social". Pages could be shared (or public), anyone could write a comments on something (I'd love to see comments a-la Medium), and it would be nifty to have a way to "fork" and submit a pull request for every page.

I guess it could also have the usual "follow user" that will show all of his pages in a dashboard, a "trending pages" for the most seen pages and similar.

gamegoblin 21 hours ago 16 replies      
A programmer social network. I find myself with two distinct sets of friends on Facebook: my tech friends and my normal friends. With my tech friends, I just want to post neat snippets of code as statuses and share github gists on walls and whatnot. So I'd like basically github with more social elements thrown in.

Imagine seeing a cool repo, then being able to friend the owner, and open a chat box to have a quick chat about it right there on the page rather than having to go to another communication method.

EDIT: I know this super similar to github. Really I just want github to implement the equivalent of friends, chats, and public profiles people can post things to (a la facebook wall).

benjamincburns 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Fair warning, I'm kind of a sarcastic person, and most of my ideas tend to reflect that...

If you actually want to work on one of these, go for it! Just please let me know as I'd like to hear about it (and if you'd like, maybe help out where I can). Contact details in my profile page.

My three latest ideas with variations:

#1: Kitty cooker social game (please don't actually build this): Basically Cow Clicker meets prisoner's dilemma. Everyone gets a cute little kitten. In order to earn in-game currency (find a synonym for "cat poop" for a currency name, please), you must cook your friends' kittens. Your friends cannot cook your kitten if you have cooked theirs first. If all of your friends decide to abstain from kitten cooking for the day - you either all get gold, or all of your kitties get cooked anyway. In game currency can be used to buy cat clothes, cooking paraphernalia, recipes, etc. Recipes are a tradable item, effect earnings, might cost resources to use, and have a "cool down" period. Variant: Puppy kicker.

#2: A toolbox of satirical marriage help apps. I really don't have a lot of tool candidates, but they're easy to think up. For instance, "argument score keeper."

#3: Rent-a-sheep (name taken, needs something else): Presale of wool from individual New Zealand sheep. I live in New Zealand. There are lots of sheep here. Imagine a site where the landing page is a paddock of little fluffy sheep trotting around (SouthPark style animation, maybe?). When you click on a sheep, up pops a bio showing a photo of an actual sheep, from an actual farm in New Zealand. For a fee, you can "rent" this sheep, thereby receiving its wool production from that year. In the mean time, you'll get little auto-generated notifications about your sheep, perhaps including photos. You should also be able to choose how the wool is processed. That is, scouring, dying, spinning. All to be done in small batches.

Much easier variant: Small-batch customized supply chain for New Zealand yarn sold to yarn stores in the USA (aka create your store's own brand of yarn). Interface looks a bit like a slot machine - choose type of wool, then choose scourer/washer, then choose either/both dying service and spinning service.

Both variants should be very "connection" focused. That is, if you're renting a sheep, the site should do everything in its power to make you feel a connection with that sheep. If you're a yarn store owner, you should know a bit about the people who are performing each of the services, and you should hopefully have a window into how they're processing your yarn.

rokhayakebe 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Keep Writing. I, sometimes, would like to write on a subject but I fear no one will read the material. If I had X people simply suggest to "keep writing" I would be more willing. Keep writing is something like Medium but it allows someone to post text (news, fiction, stories, anything) that is not complete. Writers set a (hidden) number of votes they should reach before they keep going then they publish what they currently have.
gfodor 16 hours ago 2 replies      
- Browser plugin that lets you have private group conversations around other peoples' posts. Pure evil, I won't do it due to pesky ethics. (Think "people gossiping about how ugly someone is in their selfie behind their back" as primary use case.) UX would be injecting thread inline on major sites, first would obv be Facebook.

- Better wedding planning software

- Tool to go through LinkedIn "Who You Might Know" recommendations to assist in job hunt

jonsen 20 hours ago 6 replies      
Downloadable sounds for electric cars.

Electric cars must make noise under new EU rules:


larrydag 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A peer-to-peer broadband solution to replace ISP dependence. Perhaps this could be used on a small scale at first for hacker communities and then grow from there. Challenges would be on interconnecting between p2p community centers without relying on major ISPs. A hyrid approach might be needed at first to establish connectivity.

Previous efforts:

Netsukuku - http://www.masternewmedia.org/the-alternative-p2p-wireless-i...

P2P Foundation Blog - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/

covercash 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Popcorn Time for quality children's programming - Bill Nye, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Avatar. Shows that are entertaining AND educational, none of that advertising filled, sassy attitude, Disney Channel crap.

edit: Seems like there is some interest in this. If anyone wants to discuss this more, email my username at me.com

kybernetikos 16 hours ago 1 reply      
A service for blind/partially sighted people where they can use a smart phone to connect to a service where volunteers (if any are connected) describe what they can see from the video streamed from the smart phone.

The volunteers are given ratings afterwards, and their video streams checked against their descriptions by other volunteers.

Monetized later via a paid service where the person is reliably connected to trained describers rather than volunteers.

yread 7 hours ago 2 replies      
A device that sits in your toilet (under the water level) and detects trace amounts of blood or other stuff that shouldn't be in urine or stool
psycr 20 hours ago 3 replies      
A web API that consumes phone camera captured photos of nutritional labels, and spits back a structured JSON response of the data.

Primary consumers would be developers who're building products that depend on the user inputting this type of data - or warehouse logistics companies who could catalog this sort of data and middleman it to everyone else.

jw2013 20 hours ago 6 replies      
Many people on hacker news have explicitly asked for this: a platform for listing your open-source project that needs contributors. I tried here:


But nobody cared. Perhaps I was doing it wrong or I have not do many/any promotion. Anybody wants to take this idea and solve it for us I will really appreciate it.

mattmanser 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Baby near me

Amenities near by with baby facilities, possibly with user ratings.

All of my recently baby-ied friends complain about finding places to go, especially groups of recent mothers meeting up in the middle of the day.

3rd3 20 hours ago 0 replies      
How about a program that watches for certain input patterns, takes calendar, location and maybe camera data to determine the best times to deliver push and email notifications without interrupting.

Maybe one could figure out moments at which the user would be interrupted the most, for example shortly after opening a new window or tab, or shortly after switching programs, since these moments are risky for forgetting things (if the same psychology applies): http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470218.2011.571...

It would probably make sense to prohibit interruptions during intense writing. I also thought about an option to blacklist certain apps or websites like Skype, Facetime etc. and to whitelist activities that dont require focus like browsing news websites or playing a game.

jedberg 20 hours ago 11 replies      
I like live shows. I would like a website that lists all the live shows in my area. Like "show me all shows at Shoreline". I haven't found a single site that tells me this.
jacabado 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This adresses a pain that I suffer:

An app to easily compare SQL execution plans.

I believe the better way would be graphical. I have needed this on MS SQL Server, SQL Sentry Plan Explorer has helped but lacks this comparison. Today I do it by diffin execution plans on XML format.

On my wildest dreams I would have a REPL accepting a DSL that would allow me to query the different DMV's (those are SQL Server data management views which give you insight on the inner state of SQL Server, Red Gate has a nice site on them http://sqlmonitormetrics.red-gate.com).

If it already exist is some form or platform please share.

manuelflara 18 hours ago 4 replies      
A place where developers can post their already launched projects, and business/marketing/sales people can get in touch with them if they're interested in becoming a cofounder . I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets all excited about building and launching new stuff, but after that, I'm kind of clueless about what to do, so I move on to the next.
eli 14 hours ago 0 replies      
An ESP (email service provider) geared towards people publishing content instead of marketers. Marketers are certainly the bigger & better market, but they have hundreds of options to choose from. Almost no one targets publishers.

(ping me if interested... I know more than anyone should about email)

rdl 20 hours ago 2 replies      
An IaaS provider which meets "paranoid" security requirements -- essentially, being able to remotely provision a box in a trustworthy way, and know you "own" that box at least as much as if you'd carried it to colo yourself.

Then, the ability to secure those boxes (and boxes you drop off in colo) against tampering short of powering them off.

(tech details: Intel TXT, TCG TPM, cheap HSMs, Intel SGX, etc.)

eli 14 hours ago 2 replies      
An automated "backup" service for your website that crawls around and builds a static copy of all the pages it can see. If the site goes does (or if you push a maintenance mode button) it switches to the static site, maybe with a small warning message. You'd probably need to run the DNS or integrate with DNS services to make that easy to implement. The key is it needs to be stupidly easy to set up.

(ping me if you actually start working on this)

elchief 19 hours ago 1 reply      
1. License Tesla or Prius chassis/drive-trains and put Golden Oldie car shells on top of them and sell them to retiring boomers (think Pink Cadillac). Industrial Design IP of exteriors should be expired.

2. A commercial version of PostgreSQL server that has row-level security and natively replicates with SQLIte over HTTP(S). Easy offline mobile apps.

digisth 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A real, smart browser bookmarking system. One that looks at your bookmarks, and based on content (and/or other factors) categorizes and organizes your bookmarks for you without intervention. Due to issues around privacy, should either run locally or be part of a large, anonymized data set if it needs to use a SaaS. Even better would be a real standard for tagging URLs that bookmarking system could just use on their own (kind of like CDDB music genres or similar.)
callmeed 15 hours ago 2 replies      
API documentation tool: If you have a REST(ish) API, the tool would allow you to:

* Describe the authentication

* Enter all the objects, methods, URL endpoints, and parameters of your API

The tool would then:

* Generate pretty documentation, including example requests/responses

* Include a working web-based API console (like Mashery has)

* Auto-generates client libraries in Ruby, Python, PHP, Node, Obj-C, etc. and keep them updated in GitHub

Bonus points for bootstrapping the API information from your Rails routes file.

zvanness 20 hours ago 7 replies      
A search engine for knowledge and facts.

I think there's huge value in a search engine of knowledge and facts, where all sources are verified. A search engine that is objective and contains no opinions, crappy blogs or tweets, content farms. A search engine where you can't game your rankings through SEO techniques or through higher add spend.

Google is amazing. Google Search is going to be here for a long time. I doubt anyone will be able to come up with a solid replacement. But one of the current problems with Google is that they have too much information.

So far, i've put together a tiny version of this concept, which i've found very useful when i'm trying to learn new things or do some research. I would love to see some smarter people turn it into something more.

rkuykendall-com 21 hours ago 6 replies      
Just for developers: Something that allowed you to change the IP your request resolves to with a modified URL instead of editing the hosts file, like this:

Benefits: Not as much work, not as permanent, you can use multiple at once, you can easily see where you are connecting.

I think this is something web developers would pay a few bucks for. I know I would.

bennesvig 18 hours ago 1 reply      
A way to get notified of new book reviews for my book across Amazon, Audile, iTunes, and GoodReads. Even better if it could also track sales from Amazon, CreateSpace, and Audible in one place.
salgernon 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Waiforpaperback.com Informs you when alternatives printings are available could monetize by showing similar titles in monthly summary emails
DanBC 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Pay for friendly email".

I would pay for faked friendly emails and messages. You'd need to price it low enough to be sensible. There would have to be strict no sex rules; and protection against scamming. I imagine it workin a bit like camming does now - there's a "menu" of available people with mini biographies and the user picks one and selects what kind of service they want (early morning motivational; late night inquisitive; etc) and pays up front for X messages. The message writer sends the messages and the site takes a cut of the payment.

This is a service, it is not an i troduction or dating or real friend site.

rahilsondhi 20 hours ago 3 replies      
A website for employees in a company to share SQL queries and their results, like Heroku Dataclips. You can write your query in your browser, the results will be shown, and you can just copy/paste the URL to a coworker for him/her to see the results.

I'm already working on this, contact me if you're interested!

khebbie 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey how about "problem monday" then.It is said that often times you should not start with an idea, but rather with a problem.So maybe posting problems could lead to great ideas...
glenstein 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I would like to see something like PhotoSynth applied to video. PhotoSynth is a program that infers three dimensional objects from two dimensional photographs.

In particular I'd like to see this applied to public events, like sports. I'd love to re-create, say, a music show or a live football game in 3D based on livestream video coming from people's phones.

ghiculescu 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I use Spotify for listening to music, it pushes data through to Last.fm, but I suck at actually checking Last.fm for its (very good) new music recommendations.

So take one of those recommendations from the Last.fm API and email it to me each week. Add affiliate links (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and take a little cut each time I buy something I discover through this.

Better yet, if Last.fm just implemented this themselves I'd be so happy.

adam419 20 hours ago 7 replies      
A way to submit any legal document, and for a fee have it returned but explained in plain english.

What do you guys think about this? And what do you think are the most common use cases/legal documents?

EwanG 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Telepresence for travel. One use case is that I don't have time to travel to location X, but would like to be part of a group who is hiking, etc there. Could see this being quadcopters with cameras with dual controls (remote for me and possible to be overridden by someone on site if there is an issue).

Second use case is my disabled daughter who I can bring back videos of places to, but it's not quite the same as sharing the moment, and of course would give her a sense of freedom to be able to zoom in and look at something I might not have thought to capture.

Given connectivity issues to many of the places I know "I" would like to be able to go to virtually, I suspect part of the problem will be convincing folks that it doesn't ruin their wilderness experience to let other folks attend virtually. Given that you would then have fewer travelers impacting the environment I would consider this a net win.

dalacv 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Crowd meets Class Action Lawsuits. A mobile or web app that shows many class action lawsuits in one place. I'd like to be able to go to one place and see a large list of pending class action lawsuits and their corresponding meta-data (deadline for joining lawsuit, company, details, link to website with more details, etc)
dgregd 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Office package for Internet and open source era. MS Office concept was good in 1990. Google Docs just replaced local drive with cloud drive.

Tools for developers are really good. IDEs and DVCS are pleasure to work with. But try to work on a spec, RfP, Offer, etc. with Word and Outlook. Online wikis are quite good but it is not possible to send them via email to a third party.

My idea for a text editor:* storage: wiki text files + embedded git repo* save all to a single file, but with possibility to access and edit the contents via web server / web app * possibility to squash all edits and send a clean copy (branch) as an attachment * possibility to incorporate changes sent back, thanks to DVCS* two edit modes: WYSIWYG and markdown style for experts * two client modes: standalone with thick client (based on Webkit) and html5 client* possibility to access and modify the contents via APIs (Java, Ruby, ...)* optimized for screens, not for A4 / US letter pages

You get the idea. Corporations would love something like this.

sage_joch 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A service that facilitates company matching of employee donations to non-political charities. Ideally, the service should make it as effortless as possible for all participants: employee, company, charity. This could be generalized into a kind of philanthropic social network.
wwwwwwwwww 20 hours ago 2 replies      
A way for me to organize hundreds of gb of porn.

Seriously, porn organization is the 1 thing I haven't been able to master over the years. A way to detect what your current preferences are and map them to a video or image set would be revolutionary.

andrey-p 17 hours ago 1 reply      
A wiki-style spoiler-free website for catching up with TV series/books.

For instance, you've only watched Game of Thrones up to series 2, episode 3. You're about to start watching it again but can't remember what Daenerys was getting up to.

You go to the Game of Thrones page on that website, pick your series and episode, and choose "Daenerys" as a tag filter. It brings up all the major plot points relating to her up to S2E3.

bambax 19 hours ago 1 reply      
A device that would let people sleep in public while letting other people around them think they're awake (business meetings, boring lectures, etc.)

This could either be glasses with realistic eyes painted on them, or opaque contact lenses (that would then require the bearer to be able to sleep with their eyes opened -- but if no light enters the eye it should be quite possible).

There are many situations when you can't really leave the room to take a nap and yet you feel as though you'll die if you resist sleep a minute more.

edw519 20 hours ago 5 replies      

  - When will the next bus/train be at this spot?  - a non-DRM ebook reader with Project Gutenburg installed  - auto convert from client/server to webapp or phoneapp  - grocery delivery for us not in SV,Seattle,etc  - reservation-only restaurants that have tables avail now  - auto turn cell phone to vibrate in certain locations  - auto forward cell phone to close land line (work/home)  - old Google maps  - a no wifi or cell Palm Pilot replacement  - cell phone direct to .txt email for all but certain callers  - mini-blogging platform: 400 chars < every post < 800 chars  - yelp you can actually believe  - forum software that filters trolls  - forum software that filters idiots  - salad bar locator  - buffet locator  - televisionless / audioless restaurant locater  - chess with n moves forward/back what if   - shock nearby driver on cell phone not paying attention  - missing commercial airliner locator

Eleutheria 20 hours ago 7 replies      
Open University.

A massive repository of all books needed for any career.

No teachers, no videos, no homework, nothing, just the books, free, forever.

DanBC 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Something like a Yubikey but:

1) with a battery or supercapacitor or something, so it can have a proper real time clock

2) with a much much better website. Yubikey needs to split the site into Enterprise users, individual users, and developers. The documentation for enterprise and individuals needs ro be much shorter and easier to understand. The documentation for developers should be as good as possible, including permissively licensed sample code in sensible languages.

I really hate the current password set up.

I want to carry my token with me and use that, and a passphrase, to unlock everything. Log into my computer, decrypt the drive, open email, perform root level actions, etc etc. i want it to work on my windows, linux, and max OSs. Across browsers. Etc.

zarify 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Manual route planning for walkers/runners/cyclers.

My idea was that there are lots of fitness style apps that track where you've gone, how fast and so on, but I haven't seen anything that lets you plan your route out beforehand, see how long it'll be and then estimate how long it will take. I was thinking drawing a simple overlay on a map interface. I recently got back into walking/running and wanted to slowly ramp up what I did, but wanted a route I could get all the way through (not run until I can't, then have to still get back) so wanted to plan ahead, and also allow for cuts through parks, bush trails and so on.

olalonde 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A package/dependency manager for C/C++. In my limited experience working with C/C++ projects, the most painful part was always getting the project to actually build (downloading all dependencies, figuring out how the Makefile works, etc.). In other words, a npm/brew for C/C++.
mikejarema 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like a way to skim through videos. Playing at 2x or 4x doesn't really do the trick.

For contrast, if I'm skimming through an article, I can quickly scan for keywords, look for paragraph breaks & sentence breaks to get the gist of what a particular section of the text is describing.

How can I skim a video the same way? I'm more interested in a solution for a 30 or 60 minute recorded lecture or conference keynote than something that let's me skim a music video or blockbuster movie. So the solution here may be more suited to one form of video than another.

https://skimo.tv/ seems to be trying to hit the mark, but from what I've seen, they've got a long way to go. And I'm not 100% sure that pulling a few short video segments out of a long video is the solution.

epeterson19 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone been to an airport lately? All open outlets are swarmed upon by people charging and keeping watch on their phones to make sure they don't get stolen.

How about mini lockers with miniusb and apple chargers in each locker. People swipe a credit card and can rent a mini locker to charge their phone is.

I realize how low tech this is but it's less so than people babysitting charging phones.

mrfusion 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Put a drain at the top of toilets to prevent overflows (like sinks already have)
Mankhool 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Create an RFID and/or NFC (Near Field Communication) READER that can mount on a DSLR and dump read data into an IPTC field.
paul7986 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Turn a crowd & their devices into a huge stereo system!
sferoze 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think 'Ask HN: Idea Sunday' is a great idea, I am definitely looking for a project to work on and this is very helpful. Look forward to seeing this continue.
benlm 21 hours ago 1 reply      
examine.com meets google scholar

Place for all scientific studies to be elucidated with plain english explanations, analysis, information on shortcomings, links to related studies, open questions, links to further information. Would be community created content, but needs some sort of community voting/moderation system to surface the best content and empower the most knowledgable/trusted contributors.

Ideally this would be where you go when you see sensationalist headlines in popular science magazines -- here you can find out what the study actually means.

Anything like this out there?

mavdi 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Do this for me and I will subscribe.

I will send a box full of my letters in month to you, you scan them and make them searchable online for me and send the box back with a label.

Later when I need something, I can search online and know which box it is in.

jrvarela56 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Im having trouble organising the information I consume. I have tried using a mix of Google Bookmarks, Youtube's watch later, GDocs, Evernote, Pocket, Dropbox (for pdfs/books) and tldr.io.

There has to be something that encompasses the full 'learning process': find content, read/watch/listen it, summarise its most important points, list actionables, revisit it in the future...

This maybe too personal to standardise, but even a 'convention over configuration' approach would keep people like me from feeling stuck.

miguelrochefort 16 hours ago 0 replies      
A single interface/application that can be used to do anything. An actual implementation of http://zombo.com.

I don't want an account on 1000 different sites, nor do I want 100 apps on my smartphone.

It can be done. Just not through incremental changes.

eli 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Heroku add-on for hosted Varnish (the freakin' awesome reverse caching proxy). You'd be able to speed up people's sites and potentially even save them money by allowing them to run with fewer dynos. Ideally you'd be able to tweak the config and view stats/graphs through a web interface.

(ping me if you actually start working on this)

edvinmemet 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Crowdbetting/Crowdtrading (etc)

A sports betting website that uses crowdsourcing to make the best bets. As a user, you predict the outcome of some match, but your final bet isn't necessarily what you chose, but what the crowd data indicates is the best bet.

Much like the CIA found crowdsourcing to be very effective in forecasting global events (http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/04/02/297839429/-so-...), I think there's a good chance you could successfully crowdsource things such as betting on sport results.

The way the CIA thing works, I assume (the article doesn't get into much detail), is you have 3,000 people, you ask them to make some predictions, and in the end you select the top 1%. When you compare the future predictions of these top forecasters with those of CIA analysts, you find that the average Joes tend to be more correct (even though they have less information than the CIA analysts).

So you can do something similar with sports betting. You have a group of top forecasters and their predictions for some game assume some probability distribution (like, 30% bet on the home side, and so on). By comparing this distribution with the average odds set by the major brokers, you can identify where the odds have been set incorrectly (according to your crowd) and exploit these weaknesses. For example, let's say that your crowd says that the odds of the Away team winning should be 2:1, but the brokers set the odds at 4:1. Then, this would be a good bet to place, assuming the crowd is 'more right' than the brokers.

cglee 12 hours ago 1 reply      
odesk for physical low/no skill physical labor. Some things just require muscle: moving, yardwork, lifting large furniture, etc. Would be nice to be able to see who's near you and hirable on an hourly basis. Bonus points for verified background checks, etc.
systematical 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I had an idea for a "plug and play" tor relay. This would be suitable for computer literate folks who are committed to privacy and such, but not necessarily up to installing linux and tor. Trick would likely be keeping this to around $50 or less. Thoughts?
jansanchez 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Netflix for Sports. But not quite the same. There wouldn't be just 1 subscription were you get all. You would be able to pay per game and as well a pass for all games of a certain team.You would be able to watch any games live or any other time of your convenience. It would be cool also to have just 'a show main highlights of the game'.

Prices per game should be relatively cheap, like 1.99 or 2.99; except some cases like championship finals.

I would try first to secure the rights to show some of the European soccer leagues and championships as they should be easier to get than any of the main American leagues. Hopefully none of the US networks have an exclusivity agreement.

duvok 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A data driven and personalized alternative to credit scores.

Credit scores lack transparency, usability, and are often inaccurate representation's of a person's financial health/responsibility. Especially regarding student loans, credit scores are useless...all a 20 year old's credit score tells you is how much his parents planned his financial life for him

pixelcort 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Smartphone Email Client with Chat UX

For Mac, http://www.uniboxapp.com/ comes close, but basically an a app for my phone for Email, grouped by sender, sorted by last message received per sender.

Most personal email nowadays are one-liners, so this UX would work well for them.

Expanding, senders could be organized into groups, etc.

findwork 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Considering this is Idea Sunday, would anybody be interested in validating my idea?

It was originally posted here:


The idea is simple:

+++Create an invite-only jobs mailing list similar to HN-standards+++

Companies want the best and talented workers wants to find the most rewarding work, so why not keep the 2 well-maintained with the best firms and the best workers?

If you're interested, read my thread above or simply go here and help me validate the idea:


All feedback welcome and I will reply to anyone that has any feedback (good or bad) on the idea.

Houshalter 20 hours ago 0 replies      
An idea originally by sdrothrock which I've been thinking about for the past few days: An app which can be trained to recognize certain sounds. You record a few examples of that sound and then it listens and gives an alert when it hears it.

Another idea, allow deaf people to "visualize" sounds. Just displaying the raw sound wave is too redundant and difficult to interpret. But what if you could display a higher level representation, perhaps obtained by unsupervised learning.

Even cooler if you can attach rough labels to the sound like is done by some object recognition systems (example: http://i.imgur.com/anp7RY9.png).

The second idea is probably unrealistic but the first is possible.

crablar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"FootTraffic.com", a social network/foot traffic planning site.

The idea is that brick-and-mortar stores/restaurants/hairstylists/etc that are located close to one another can communicate and coordinate days of the year (or month) when everyone in the area who is participating offers some sort of discount or sample.

It incentivizes consumers to make a day out of going to an area of town that might not otherwise get a ton of business.

Could lead to an interesting community of people travel around the world exploring and going to FootTraffic days.

frankus 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A "Movies I've been meaning to watch" queue. Sort of like Netflix's queue, but not limited to a particular provider's catalog. For each movie, show the cheapest (legal) way to stream/rent/buy it. Add price drop alerts. Monetize through commissions and/or ads.
lukasm 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Spotify released iOS SDK. Can someone make an app that will just have one button? Just play the goddamn music. I think Spotify works on the wrong level of abstraction. It should work exactly like a radio. Many people just want to listen some good music for running, relaxing etc. They couldn't care less about following artists and making playlists.

Also, I'd like to be able to play it while I'm on a train. Pre-fech 30min of music to play when I'm underground and I have no internet connection.

If there is a hacker (London-based ideally) that want to work on that idea give me a shout on lukasz.madon at gmail.


josephjrobison 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A matchmaking service for business owners to digital marketing and/or web development companies.

A business owner is not going to know everything that the digital company is explaining to them or selling to them, and since there's no large digital companies that are the gold standard, but just a very fractured industry, it's hard for them to really know what they're getting.

The matchmaking company would advocate for the business owner. The matchmaking company would really understand the web development and digital marketing landscape, but they are not selling the services themselves. They would ask the potential agencies the really hard questions that the business owners wouldn't know to ask on their own.

josephjrobison 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Uber for delivery via drones. Kind of reaching, and I know it's not practical yet, but the general concept is cool. I wouldn't be surprised if Uber did it themselves first since they have a knack for trying weird delivery stuff like ice cream or flowers or whatever.

You would open your Uberish app, punch in the weight of what you need delivered and where to deliver it to, it would give you an estimate, and come to your house to pick it up and make the delivery. Really not that far off, I believe the FAA has or is relaxing the rules on commercial drone flight below 400ft and the Parrot drones are capable of following waypoints on their own to a destination, and coming right back home when they're done.

EwanG 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One more pain point I'd like to solve. Something that can process my pictures, and tell me what wildflower(s) are in them. Sitting down with a guidebook is tedious, and sometimes it's hard to tell which version from a book or site is closer to the picture you have because of the angle. So I end up adding meta data that it's a picture with blue flowers. Not to mention that there are some longer term ecological studies that could be done if I can see how often flowers or plants turned up in a certain area 10 years ago compared to now...
marmano 20 hours ago 5 replies      
A voting system based on the Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System behind Bitcoin. The major reasons votes couldn't be conducted electronically is because of trust issues and today we have a technology that solves that. I think this could potentially disrupt voting if properly executed.
dome82 18 hours ago 2 replies      
An easy way for mole mapping at home and having an personal electronic journal about it. It should be possible to share a link with your dermatologist containing your mole mapping.
svetha 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Tracked changes for gmail. So instead of replying to an email in text and then changing the color/font/size of words, tracked changes will do it for you similar to how it does in Word.
joshmn 20 hours ago 2 replies      
A demo mode for browsers.

Incognito / private mode kind of solves this, but form autocompletes, and browser history when I enter a URL doesn't always contain stuff I want to show in front of my clients.

sparkie 17 hours ago 2 replies      
A social network where the users get paid for the advertising they do.
mrfusion 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Use ultrasound to measure shoe size and also see how we'll shoes fit. Sell to shoe stores.

(I heard they used to do this with X-rays before people knew better. )

phantom_oracle 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Something to keep in mind whilst sharing your idea:

Your idea may be great and may appeal to a science/tech community on HN, but be wary of building something where the audience is very small (if you plan on commercializing it).

Although quite a few of the ideas have some "mass appeal", some of them also seem so narrow that you'd be better off building them as OSS projects and releasing them into the wild (as they'd never achieve huge commercial success).

Just for the sake of guidance, plan on what you will do with any ideas you follow through with (go commercial or open-source it).

andrewcooke 17 hours ago 2 replies      
a simple, motion-sensitive sleep alarm. i just tried to find one, but they all require a phone or tablet. they're nothing simple and stand-alone with a very basic interface.
billen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
There is an easy platform for this.


Check it out!

sakunthala 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A more accessible desktop client program for "Bitcoin IPOs". Useful for crowdfunding. Kind of like this but less messy: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=133147.0
meistro 20 hours ago 1 reply      
A cheap hardwire device that I can take to the gym and not worry about breaking it. There are lot's of great workout tracking apps but I won't risk having my expensive smart phone smashed in order to record my workouts. I see more people using pen and paper even with all the amazing apps out there.
shsteimer 21 hours ago 2 replies      
A mobile app that combines flight info with airport food listings and reviews. Let's you put in your flight numbers for a connection and will make recommendations based on the time if your layover, gates you are flying into and out of, etc.
rgbrgb 21 hours ago 1 reply      
stop-the-data-orgy.com: A service that makes it easy (2 clicks) to migrate my email storage from gmail/googleapps to to s3/dropbox.
lukencode 15 hours ago 1 reply      
A screencast app (or browser extension) specifically to create those short gifs showing product interactions that have been showing up recently.
larrys 17 hours ago 2 replies      
An app that allows you to have a meeting with someone anytime both of you're available for the meeting.

So it's schedule-less.


You want to talk to Paul.Paul wants to talk to you. But not as much.

Paul is ranked "a1" in your book and you areranked "b5" in Paul's book.

Paul notes that he is in a "b5 and above" time period. Maybe he just got done exercise so he is more interested in talking to anyone (you are a b5 after all). Or maybe he is sitting in the dentists waiting room and has time to kill and is ok if he has to stop the conversation right away abruptly.

In your book Paul is an "a1" so he can call in the middle of the night and you will take the call.

Paul marks his availability as "b5 and above" and then app proceeds to start to contact anyone who matches.

Someone else is ahead of you at b3 so they get the first call. Next guy is at b4 but he doesn't answer. So you are next at b5 and your phone rings and it's Paul.

You have your conversation.

Advantage: No need to schedule calls by time. They happen by importance.

With granularity on both sides.

Why I like this:

I can make the most efficient use of time. Some people are more important and you want to take the call anytime anyplace. Others are less important and you are more picky. Also ability to use time that normally goes to waste. And prevents you from having to think "I've got a minute who should I call".

adamzerner 21 hours ago 4 replies      
TaskRabbit for businesses
bboston7 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish there was an easier way to peal oranges
dalacv 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Homework Tutor App - App that allows kids to take a picture of a homework problem and submit a question about it. Then the picture and question get submitted over to MTurk. 3-5 answers come back within minutes from folks on MTurk.
dalacv 18 hours ago 0 replies      
postsantum 21 hours ago 5 replies      
A notepad that can send my handwritten notes to the cloud. It should have a mini-scaner embedded into the top cover so when I want to backup a note, I just close the notepad, push the cover, remove the first page, close, push again.

None of these ipad apps can substitute the good old pencil drawings

zgm 20 hours ago 3 replies      
There was a discussion on an earlier thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7489401) about bringing App Stores to servers. Would people use and/or pay for something like this?
asselinpaul 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Two for today:

-a site to upload Evernote notebooks to share/view online.

-a service that saves all your snapchat stories on the cloud

antr 21 hours ago 2 replies      
A Dribbble for video creators/animators.
plaxis 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Search function for browser tabs. So hard to find pandora in the haystack, and I need a short cut to search through all the interesting things.
nroets 17 hours ago 2 replies      
An app that shows me where my friends and family are.

(Like Google Latitude used to do)

DanielBMarkham 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know if this already exists or not, but I'd like an app for iOs/droid that shows all of my installed apps and what permissions they need -- in a comparison/grid format. It's easy to agree to all kinds of stupid permissions when you're first looking at an app, but later on, having dogFood 3.0 phone home all the time when it's never used is not-so-good. I'd like to go back periodically and look at all of my apps, at one time, from a permissions standpoint.
gorax 20 hours ago 1 reply      
- Movie Quote Search - Search for a movie quote and it brings up the part of the movie where the quote starts. User can then adjust the length of the clip they wish to share. No longer than 30 seconds.

- Mobile App - Timed Deals for local businesses. Company registers their deal and how many they wish to offer. A potential customer who follows certain types of products may get the promotion, The catch is, Promotion only last 30 seconds(max) and you have to buy it right then.

Anyone wants to help me with any of these I'd love the help.

mzemel 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A website that lets you watch the second episode of many television shows. The pilot episode, I feel, is usually not indicative of the direction/feeling of the show, or is concerned with setting up the backstory, whereas the second episode sets the direction for where the show is going.
afshinmeh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in!
rsa 18 hours ago 0 replies      
awesome idea!
SuperChihuahua 20 hours ago 0 replies      
All shaving machines are crap. I also need to stop biting my nails.
The Hypocrisy Of Sam Yagan and OkCupid uncrunched.com
301 points by McKittrick  22 hours ago   274 comments top 28
pyduan 20 hours ago 9 replies      
What is regrettable in all this is that no one seems to consider the possibility that people may have nuanced views about gay marriage. According to the mob you're either a saint or a bigot, and thus Eich's value as a human being was supposedly entirely determined by this one opinion he voiced in 2008.

I'm staunchly in favor of gay marriage, which I consider to be a no-brainer -- but it seems to me the motivations of Prop 8 proponents differ a lot in nature, with some being much more excusable than others in their wrongness.

For example, there are people who have nothing against homosexuality but are attached to the symbolic value of 'marriage' as a Christian institution and would be completely fine with another civil contract with the same rights but a different name. This seems to be somewhat in line with Eich's actions (I remember reading a memo from Eich stating he had no plan to amend Mozilla's gay-friendly policies and employee benefits). Although I still think this view is guilty of being wrongly attached to outdated models of society, this is not nearly as bad as what Eich has been accused of.

There are other possible reasons one could have (for example, those who in ignorance of the many studies that showed that children of homosexual households grow up just fine could have unfounded reservations about gay adoption, but would be ready to change their mind if shown the evidence; I've encountered a couple myself), but my broader point is that there is a huge range in the degree of bigotry between those who voted Prop 8 and one should not jump to conclusions so easily as they do not all deserve the same level of condemnation.

Now, I can understand why Eich's views could make him unsuitable as a CEO because, in a purely pragmatic sense, holding views that most of your workforce despise is obviously detrimental to your ability to lead and especially so at such a peculiar organization as Mozilla where ideology matters arguably more than in other companies; it also matters because, as many have said, a CEO is the face of the company and his views and those of the company are sometimes hard to disentangle.

But going from there to making a call to boycott Firefox is a huge jump and smells like a pure appropriation of the controversy for PR purposes. This revelation about Sam Yagan seems to strengthen this feeling. Come on people, we're better than this. Being on the right side of history about an issue does not automatically waive us from intellectual rigor and moderation.

lingben 21 hours ago 5 replies      
The hypocrisy of okcupid was evident even before this little bit of info (Yagan's past political contribution) was shared. As I and others pointed out, okcupid went on using javascript!

As for okcupid occupying the moral high ground, I still remember when, right after their purchase by match.com, they removed one of the most interesting posts on their blog. It was about why you should never pay for dating web sites and why paid dating website were not worth it. As with all of their blog posts it was backed up with data and evidence.

After the purchase and change of monetization model, poof! it was gone. Why? because it was rightly critical of match.com !!

Here it is:http://www.columbia.edu/~jhb2147/why-you-should-never-pay-fo...

anonbanker 20 hours ago 4 replies      
So, bottom line: Eich was forced out by an astroturf campaign led by professional boycotters (waving the gay rights flag this time) and sleazy opportunists/publicity addicts like Yagan.

If Eich is a homophobe, I would like to replace the rest of the world's homophobes with him. While he may have disagreed in private, his public persona was inclusive and friendly. There are multiple testominies from people that never knew he harbored wishes to limit their rights before the controversy came out. Even the LGBTQ* Mozilla employees/volunteers spoke up to say this. Meanwhile, in Montana/Utah, if the CEO learns you're gay, you're likely to be found dead in the middle of the night.

But the mob had already formed, and they wanted blood. Blood is what they got. And the Mozilla project suffers as a result.

The Eich story, and the lynch mob that followed it, permanantly reduced my respect for HN. While I would not ever donate to a campaign (let alone one that denied equal rights to human beings), this made the gay community of HN (and their supporters) look like easily-influenced livestock. I used to click on the HN comments link before actually clicking the story it was about, because I could rely on the spin being kept to a minimum. I no longer have that guarantee. Similarly, I no longer have the guarantee of fair discourse, and fully expect future comments to be downvoted to oblivion (much like reddit) when one has a dissenting opinion. If someone says you hate gay people (correctly or not), the HN community has proven they will prosecute before a proper inquiry has been made.

Even more disturbing, I have now learned that the militant LGBTQ* members in Silicon Valley are just as easily-influenced, and as easily driven to boycott, as members of Stormfront, or the AFA, or the PMRC. This seems to be such a big issue in the Silicon Valley that I'm now solid in my decision to stay out of SV for any new startup ventures. Intolerance (even intolerance for bigots) is not something I want to immerse myself in.

(disclosure: this pseudonym is owned and operated by a lgBtq*)

Ryel 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I doubt this means very much, or is worth anything but FWIW...

I had arranged for myself and 2 friends to go have lunch with 2 people from OkCupid specifically about whether or not we would be a good fit into the company and what they would be able to offer. I'm only looking for an entry-level front-end dev position so my time isnt nearly as valuable, but out of the other 2 friends one is an ex-Googler, the other from Morgan Stanley, both as back-end engineers.

After this stunt by OkCupid we cancelled the lunch and will not continue on with OkCupid.

napoleoncomplex 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Things are about to get really interesting for OkCupid. Reap what you sow.
patrickg_zill 20 hours ago 3 replies      
There are 7 billion people in the world. Those posters who make the assumption in their posts, that "of course" everyone agrees with their position that Prop 8 was wrong, might want to reflect that probably less than 500 million, or less than 8%, agree with them.

The debate that such posters believe has already been settled, will be going on for a long time.

thatthatis 19 hours ago 2 replies      
There's an enormous false equivalency here:

Prop 8 groups are single issue donations. A donation means exactly and only that you agree with the cause of anti-gay marriage.

Politicians are many-thousand issue donations. I know of exactly zero people who I agree with on everything. A donation to a politician can have thousands of motives, and even be done in staunch disagreement about certain issues (especially in the case where their opponent is the same on the issue you disagree with and worse on everything else)

On net I'm conflicted about the whole thing. But I do think that people who value tolerance should be intolerant of the intolerant.

learc83 21 hours ago 0 replies      
What did OkCupid think was going to happen here?Did they really think that if they kicked this hornet's nest there wouldn't be any blowback?

They didn't think there was any C level executive at OkCupid or match.com who'd made a controversial political donation?

tasty_freeze 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The other point to make is that OkCupid's protest cost them nothing. If they really cared, their registration page could have the usual checkbox: I hereby agree to blah blah terms and conditions, and a second checkbox saying: "I affirm my support for gay marriage rights." Failing to select both boxes would bounce the user off of the OkCupid side.

But no, they wouldn't do that, because that might cost OkCupid business.

hibikir 19 hours ago 0 replies      
On this situations, I end up wondering what's the right level of intolerance to intolerance. How much hate can one pour on someone that is being a bit bigot before you end up being just the same, but with a mirror?

Then one starts to question if being intolerant with the people that are intolerant of those that are intolerant is any better, and whether we are working in a system that allocates the call stack in the heap or in a defined stack, because too much thinking in this direction would cause a stack overflow in the JVM.

mililani 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, someone who understands the true meaning of hypocrisy. Pretense is a large part of hypocrisy. People often misunderstand that by saying someone who does something opposite of their beliefs is a hypocrite. No, it's both that and pretense. And, Sam Yagan seems like the proverbial hypocrite.
otterley 20 hours ago 2 replies      
The difference between these cases is that Mr. Yagan donated to a Congressperson's election fund, while Mr. Eich gave directly to supporters of a cause many find abhorrent.

The degree of separation is important: although Rep. Cannon was anti-gay-marriage, we don't know whether that was the motivating factor for Mr. Yagan's donation. It could have been for some other reason: perhaps Mr. Cannon helped him or his company in some way, or perhaps Mr. Cannon's opponent's views (relating to things other than gay marriage) were more objectionable to Mr. Yagan than Mr. Cannon's were.

It's also important to note that this donation occurred in 2004, when few politicians openly supported gay marriage, and most publicly said they were against it.

Politicians have views on all sorts of matters, some of which we agree with and some of which we don't, and most of us aren't single-issue voters. A donation to a politician is not strong evidence of the donor's agreement with all of the views of that politician. A donation to an organization that is specifically trying to pass a law, however, is pretty strong evidence of the donor's agreement with the aims of the law.

Aldo_MX 21 hours ago 1 reply      
In my honest opinion, I think the point here is that Mozilla is an organization that promotes good principles like equality. OkCupid, in contrast, is just a dating site.

Do people really expect good principles from a dating site?

downandout 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I have no issues with gay marriage, and I don't think that individual religious views have any place in the creation of laws that will affect people's everyday lives. However, this idea that someone can't keep their personal political views outside of their workplace is the territory of small-minded idiots. A good CEO can, indeed, support causes in his personal life that don't wind up becoming policy at the company he or she runs.

See this for what it is. The left is trying to make it OK to punish anyone that has ever supported a conservative cause. Everyone should now fear that their political views will endanger their jobs. This is perhaps the most slippery of all slopes, as this marks the beginning of the end of political discourse in the US. If the right made demands like this, they would be skewered in the media. Yet, because our media has an extreme liberal bias, this has, sadly, gained traction. Just say no.

sparkzilla 21 hours ago 2 replies      
To paraphrase Hunter S Thompson: When everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught.
k-mcgrady 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone ever think this was anything more than a PR stunt? I don't agree with Eich's opinion at all but what OKCupid did was pretty shitty. They wanted cheap PR and they were hypocrits about it (continued using JS and now the news of Yagan's donations).
r0s 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The Hypocrisy of Some Blogger

Summary: The co-founder of OKCupid made a donation to a homophobic senator in 2004.

There's a lot wrong with this "scandalous" revelation. Do we have any direct word on Sam Yagan's change of heart to support the oust of Brendan Eich? This blogger does not, from Yagan's actions we have to assume he feels differently now, a decade later.

And so, these toothless allegations of hypocrisy fall apart. This point from the rant:

> This was a PR stunt, and as I show below, nothing but a PR stunt.

The stunt had the intended result, so this statement is either false or in doubt. Or, if the stunt is unrelated to Eich's removal, then it reflects popular sentiment to boost the OKCupid brand; it's familiar bland commercialism and no kind of hypocrisy.

funkyy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone with strong ties in marketing world will know that dating sites are one of the most shadies businesses balancing on the line of legal/illegal.OKCupid action was blatant marketing stunt - but thei CEO is immune.No one cares what he did etc.No one on the board or anyone working for him will be approving his departure upon this news. Mozilla case is probably one of the most ethical ways to get publicity this guys did in years...
mkr-hn 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Prediction: those who insisted that political actions and professional life should be separate will call for Sam Yagan's head, completing the ouroboros of hypocrisy.

The author's basis for the claim that this was a PR stunt is that Sam Yagan made a donation similar to Brendan Eich's. Like Brendan Eich, he has the opportunity to say he's changed his mind on the issue in the years since, or provide more context for the donation. Brendan Eich's mistake was avoiding the issue entirely.

agmartin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It really pisses me off when I have to agree with Mike Arrington.
001sky 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The IAC senior leadership has no (0/13) people of colour, and only one woman (thats 1/13). And in fact, they don't even have anyone who wears glasses. IAC is the owner of OK cupid, and Sam Yagan is on the parent company's wesite here:


Google at least has a much more diverse company leadership teams. Ya know, men and women and people who wear glasses and hair color other than "middle brown".

For Yagan to take on his own Board as a subordinate, calling them a bunch of "racist bigots" --not for their private beliefs, but for their "public" actions-- as witnessed by their hiring policy, would be quite a stunt.

kevingadd 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think you get a pass on a politician with a record like this. http://www.ontheissues.org/house/Chris_Cannon.htm#Civil_Righ...

It's like saying 'well, he's a white supremacist, but he has pretty good views on economic policy!' - if those issues are important to you (and they probably should be!) it's not reasonable to overlook them. You have to draw a line somewhere, even if you are occasionally willing to ally with people you disagree with to achieve a common goal.

adil_h 20 hours ago 1 reply      
surely banning Firefox was pretty stupid given that it's quite a large open source project?This stunt just seems like a cry for attention.
bluntly_said 21 hours ago 12 replies      
I find the entire Eich scandal disheartening. A man lost his job (one he was undoubtedly qualified for) because people find it easier to heap hatred on someone they've never met, than to act with dignity and respect.

We have some serious issues in this country, and our inability to compromise or respect a person we don't agree with is frightening. Life is filled with shades of grey, compromise is not "that nice thing your kindergarten teacher told you about" it's a critical aspect of a functioning democracy. One we seem to be losing.

slowblood 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just think of Prop 8 as an Apartheid law.
mrxd 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Yagan's personal views don't really matter. In fact, Eich's views don't matter either because in politics, perception is reality.

Yagan contributed to the growing perception that holding anti-gay opinions is socially unacceptable, something that the gay rights movement has been trying to achieve for decades. Regardless of his personal views, past actions or other motives, it helped.

Eich could have easily saved himself. The key problem was the perception of an anti-gay CEO of Mozilla, and this could have been fixed in the same way that all public figures handle shifting public sentiment: with a statement about how his views have "evolved", he realizes now how wrong he was, apologizing for the hurt he caused and so on. Clearly he chose not to do that.

Karunamon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is about as non as non-stories get.

For one, there's about 27 universes worth of difference from supporting a specific law which does a specific thing, and supporting a politician who has different positions on different laws. Maybe the other positions he has took priority over marriage equality?

For instance: five years ago, coming out of the economic mess, I'd have prioritized economic recovery (so, someone who knows what they're doing on that front) over marriage equality. That's not to say marriage equality isn't important, but it's all rather pointless if the economy is trashed and everything else goes with it.

scarmig 21 hours ago 1 reply      
No, it's not "exactly the same." I don't think anyone really benefited from this entire shit show, but stop trying to excuse and water down what Prop 8 supporters did.

Giving money to a bad politician is not the same as giving money to support a war of pure bigotry and hatred against gay people. Perhaps you weren't there in 2008, or perhaps you weren't a target. But the Yes on Prop 8 campaign deployed deeply disturbing and hateful rhetoric that relied on the worst tropes about gay people--that they want to corrupt your children into homosexuality. All this wasn't just to pass a law, but to permanently enshrine and sacralize hatred in the California Constitution.

Here's a question: many people, perhaps you the reader, oppose Eich's forced resignation because of freedom of speech concerns. Great, I'm with you! And why I think this was all a stupid idea that doesn't benefit gay rights at all. But why are we as a society up in arms about this firing in particular? Why are we not focused on ENDA, for instance, which protects you from being fired for saying you're gay? Why aren't we outraged that workers (illegally) get fired for saying they want to unionize? Or, more tech-focused, people getting fired for shit-talking their boss on Facebook? It seems that, as usual, freedom of speech is only a concern in the media if you're a rich, straight white man.

Flickr: Invitations disclosure (resend feature) hackerone.com
297 points by mathias  1 day ago   89 comments top 25
secalex 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey, HN, CISO of Yahoo here, typing on a phone at a kid's birthday, so excuse the formatting.

We run a very progressive bug bounty program that allows bugs like this to be posted publicly. Every once in a while we might miss something out of the thousands of invalid reports we receive every month, and we made a mistake in the triage of this bug. The bug is fixed and we won't make the same mistake again. We definitely consider info disclosure to be a class of issue that needs to be addressed and to infer otherwise from one mistake is incorrect.

There are a handful of companies experimenting with this kind of open bounty model, and if we want it to survive (I certainly do) then we are going to all have to be willing to iterate to fix the problem, and move on.

abalone 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love how publicly posting bugs shifts the balance of power. "schofield" probably though it was just a conversation between Yahoo and the submitter. Now it's a conversation between Yahoo and Hacker News.

Welp, the verdict is schofield is being dense. Of course user relationship pairs are potentially sensitive. Therefore enabling attackers to discover them by enumerating your tiny key space is an issue.

Either schofield needs to wisen up or Yahoo needs to put someone better in charge of their security issues.

kintamanimatt 1 day ago 3 replies      
The response to this bug is atrocious and shameful. The developer that responded to this did the same as putting on a blindfold and declaring that because they could no longer see the bug, it must not exist.

Right from the get-go, schofield showed incompetence when they declared they couldn't reproduce the bug, even though it was explained to them plainly and thoroughly!

How do these inept developers get hired?

jpalomaki 1 day ago 1 reply      
A simple fix seems to be to use longer random id for the invitation.

As d4d1a179c0f3 mentions, this kind of information could be useful for setting up more targeted phishing attacks. "Hi John, remember the Flickr invite for holiday photos I sent you two weeks ago? I moved my albums to new site, please go to blackhat.org/malwaredl.."

andrelaszlo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This bug was fixed just seconds ago. The power of HN :)

You can still load the invite/resend page, but you won't get any user info from it.

diziet 1 day ago 1 reply      
The collision rate seems pretty high and to someone with a bit of resources (say 500 ips) to go through the ids would take 3~ days at 1 request per second.

The party would have a list of of flickr users / email combinations.

The best way to fix this if they want to have the urls work for some backward compatible reason is probably severe rate limiting after x requests if they do not want to expire these requests -- right? Otherwise, something the size of UUID will make the search space too large.

jcromartie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't this basically how weev got sent to federal prison?
tszming 1 day ago 4 replies      
Actually the Yahoo! employee (schofield?) in the above link is right and you cannot blame him for this - it is because Yahoo! really think first name + last name + email are not private information AFAIK, not particularly to Flickr, there are multiple ways to retrieve these information...
e28eta 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw a similar issue with a company that sold tickets to events several years ago. They sent me an email with a link to my e-ticket. The URL had a sequential id, and there was no auth/verification that I was the one who purchased it.

So, I took a look at the person who ordered before me, and was able to view their name/address, and could have printed their tickets to the event!

zhte415 1 day ago 0 replies      
Knowing an individual's network of names and email contacts in a highly specific domain could be quite attractive for a phisher. This seems quite different from viewing the contact list on, say, Twitter, where an individual explicitly makes their contacts known to the world (and via synonym only).

The response surprises me.

chris_overseas 1 day ago 0 replies      
So I clicked on one of the example invite links listed in the bug report. I was then prompted to log in to my Yahoo account. Hmm, OK... so I logged in, at which point I was taken to a page with a form asking me to join Flickr. I did NOT fill in or submit the form because I don't want a Flickr account, though it was presented with defaults based on my Yahoo ID anyway. I closed that window and tried clicking on an invite link again. Much to my surprise, the link then worked and I received an email saying "Welcome to Flickr". What the hell?

[edit: on the plus side, Flickr make it very easy to delete your account entirely. The only obvious side effect is that the screen name you had is now unavailable for any further users]

markbnj 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we not call this a "bug?" It's clearly a design weakness and "schofield" said it was working as intended, ergo not a bug, but just a poor choice of mechanism. Pretty humorous that "schofield" thought it was fine the way it is. Guess that has been cleared up by the internet. It's pretty trivial to generate a random, non-guessable, unique code to use as a lookup key for the invitation, and I guess that's what they've done.
vletmixutechre 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Awe, I was in the middle of writing a scraper for this and it seems they have now "fixed" it.
merijn481 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yahoo has fully embraced working with security researchers. For a company their size (they're no. 1 in web traffic!) with that many different services, they're doing an amazing job. No company that size has ever moved this fast. Yes, they're catching up but they do it fast!
andenq 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well thats messed up...At least now I know how spammers get my email :D
Joshu42 1 day ago 1 reply      
it's really easy to capture contacts this way. As Mathias said, they have to limit the view of the saved form to the one who sent it in the first place... and add an expiration for deleting such data.

So what's missing ? an ID for knowing the first sender, a timestamp, a checking process and a garbage collector to delete the expired ones periodically ? Ok, we don't add a column so easily in the big DB table here, but they can add a sister table with both IDs, the timestamp and a "IsActive" boolean... and start filling the new table with no reference ID, so only the timestamp works for the existed ones. the system will repair itself at the end of the expiration date.

maouida 1 day ago 2 replies      
To fix,this, they should

- make the link protected by login

- accept only post requests

- generate more complicated, hard to guess tokens

peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why the hell do companies think it's trivial to just give away data about huge swaths of its user base? Is it some kind of ego thing, like, they aren't willing to admit it's a security issue, so just pretend like this is a feature and not a bug?
mathias 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like someone just changed the title of this HN submission. For the record, it originally said: Full name and email for every Flickr invite ever sent can be viewed by anyone, which was accurate at the time of posting.
pratnala 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shame on you, Yahoo!
yp_master 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone able to view this site without Javascript?
nilved 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have no idea why anybody would do business with a company as awful as Yahoo in 2014.
mantrax4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Schofield, you're fired!

Maybe the incentives are wrong. Less bugs, less work for the dev.

Maybe the people processing bug submissions should be paid more per bug submitted and should not be on the same team as the developers.

But there's ocean of incompetence out there, and clever processes can only get you so far when you're dealing with incompetence.

flylib 1 day ago 0 replies      
The propaganda completely unbacked license response by Yahoo to the Openstack/MongoDB fiasco and now this are making me want to delete my account on the site
ludicast 1 day ago 0 replies      
<paranoid>This is why the bitcoin thefts concern me. Now you have a bunch of bad guys with battle-tested black-hat skills and plenty of millions at their disposal.

So they can easily afford a giant cluster to throw up phantomjs instances to scape this data in an easily throttleable way. Not that they would be particularly interested in this case, but similar ones for sure.

I think we will see this WAY more in the future. If your email/name retrieval is not an intractable problem, you might as well put up a spreadsheet with the info.</paranoid>

Progress Button Styles tympanus.net
261 points by madisonmay  1 day ago   50 comments top 20
akerl_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is there a GitHub repo for this, or a version control link of some kind? The page doesn't appear to offer any way to get the code short of yanking it from source (which seems less than ideal because the page doesn't clarify a license), and the blog post linked in the top right only offers a zip.


I do realize that not everybody subscribes to the "Everything is a repo" philosophy that holds sway for me, and that tarballs and the like are still used by a significant portion of the internet to share code. I just wish I could sell more people on The Repo Way :)

andrewljohnson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of this UX Overflow post about the right way to do "Yes, delete it": http://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/49991/should-yes-delet...

I think a more contrasting approach to color is likely better - maybe you start with a green button, which goes Gray on click, and then fills with brighter green. This will avoid issues with color-blindness, or even just myopia, where people won't really see the subtle color filling in.

foz 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really love this effect. In use, I would suggest changing the text from "Submit" to "Saving", to better explain what's happening.
yconst 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'd def go for ROTATE-SIDE-DOWN PERSPECTIVE. Clear, concise and intuitive.
lostsock 1 day ago 2 replies      
This looks great, nice work.

Do people using this sort of thing (or the YouTube style top of the page loading bar) actually get back real % completed values from the server or do they just use it to show that _something_ is happening?

zhte415 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice.

I mean this as a total compliment: HTML/CSS/JS seems to be quickly catching up to the opening scenes of my two favourite news shows from the 1990s: The Day Today [1] and Brass Eye [2]. Thirty second clips of those scenes for each below:

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_nk8PzL0Zw[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuCAQnWyAiQ

Gigablah 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the top-line horizontal version. It's consistent with the new "progress bar on top of single-page application" convention.
bliker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend all of tympanus/codedrops articles and examples. http://tympanus.net/codrops/category/playground/
bendmorris 1 day ago 1 reply      
Viewing on Chromium, and I can't see a single difference in the 10 styles that have "perspective" in the name. Am I just being dense?
bjz_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love the whimsy present in some of these, especially in `flip-open perspective`.
madisonmay 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The folks at Tympanus have thoughtfully included a tutorial for these effects as well. Check it out at http://tympanus.net/codrops/2013/12/12/progress-button-style....
sahaskatta 1 day ago 0 replies      
Neat. It would be even nicer if it had hover and active states for the buttons as well.
hiphopyo 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Some might argue that buttons should remain buttons and loaders should remain loaders.
sferoze 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The site has an amazing collection of UI experiments and tutorials! Love it!
frozenport 1 day ago 3 replies      
This page is too green. Can you try with a white background?
daledavies 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this sort of thing interests you then I'd recommend following the Codrops blog. They are always coming up with very innovative and interesting stuff.
teemo_cute 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to see a version where the progress bar fill-color gets brighter colors as it nears completion.
ajkumar1992 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is exactly what i was looking for a long time.
okonomiyaki3000 1 day ago 1 reply      
veb 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why have a progress bar at all? I'd rather "Submit" and... things happen immediately.

I do realise that there's probably some server-side things going on when you've submitted, but you could do that at the very last form input, and once the button is pressed, magic appears. No loading, no progress bars.

If javascript is disabled, these buttons do not work. Always need a fallback plan.

I know this is a WIP, and it's awesome. Very green though. ;-)

My low-paying, early-morning, exertion-requiring job medium.com
258 points by markhall  2 days ago   149 comments top 53
dsr_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Optimizing for 6 hours of sleep"

"every day, getting out of bed is one of the hardest things I do"

"Every night, when I crawl into bed, Im exhausted by all Ive done that day."

Your body may be telling you that you need seven hours of sleep. Or eight.

How would your life change if you went to sleep an hour earlier, but you woke up feeling good?

GrinningFool 2 days ago 5 replies      
I used to landscape professionally. Which - in my case - is a fancy way of saying I cut grass, dug ditches, raked leaves and spread mulch. I picked up some useful knowledge along the way.

Thing is, no matter how much satisfaction I get from a problem solved, elegant or just effective code written, etc - it isn't quite the same thing as when I could look back at a yard/park/complex etc at the end of the day and say "Yep, that looks good. I did that." Something that not only I could appreciate, but everyone driving by would notice on some level.

I'd not want to go back to that full-time. Intellectually my work now is far more satisfying (mentally designing algorithms while walking behind a bobcat tends to result in both poor algorithms and a poorly cut lawn). And it's easy to forget the long days, paychecks at the mercy of the weather, being constantly sore and always finding dirt and the damndest of places...

But I am thinking about finding some part-time work in landscaping this year for just that reason. I enjoyed it, I was reasonably good at it, and it felt good to be doing. With my hands.

iamthepieman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've taken two separate part-time jobs while working full time elsewhere.

The first one was while I was working for the federal government. I commuted one hour each way and after spending two years in a mid-sized bedroom community I still had no friends where I lived. I got a job at a local coffee shop filling in where needed which was usually either opening up from 6 to 8A.M. or closing up from 6-10P.M.

I immediately got to know a lot of locals from the college students and young people who worked alongside me to the professionals who came in earl to the stay-at-home moms and dads that came in mid-afternoon.

I learned how to make a great espresso made some spending money and a bunch of friends. It was a great experience.

The second job was while working remotely as a developer in a tiny rural town. I took a job as a fitness instructor at a local studio and, again, met a lot of people I wouldn't have otherwise and got to make a real personal impact on many people's lives helping them get fit and stay healthy.

The author does a great job summarizing the benefits of this kind of job. There's so much more than money that can add tremendous value to your life.

probablyfiction 2 days ago 1 reply      
Comments here seem to be missing the larger point; that being surrounded by tech all the time can be a disorienting experience.

Really, this issue isn't specific only to tech circles. You can get used to your own surroundings in any job and forget that a wider world exists.

It is extremely important to stay grounded so that you don't lose touch with the world around you. I think this guy's approach is admirable, though perhaps he should be getting more sleep.

Taylorious 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like this guy has a good thing going. Lots of people pay for a gym and workout every morning before they go work. This guy is basically doing the same thing but he is getting paid for it.
jqm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent idea, excellent article!

A couple of years ago I was driving back to my office and a difficult programming problem which I had been avoiding. It was early fall and the weather was beautiful. On the way, I passed a field of Chile peppers and a crew was gathering to pick. It looked like so much fun to be out picking chile peppers in the sunshine instead of sitting in front of a screen in my dark office. So, on a whim, I stopped and asked the boss if I could get a job picking peppers for the day. He almost fell over in surprise but said yes, I could on Saturday which was the next day.

So, early the next morning I got up all excited and went out to the field. One of the underbosses gave me a bucket and explained in broken English how the system worked. I was paid 55 cents for each bucket of peppers and I was to leave no peppers unpicked. Ok, no problem. I was assigned a row and off I went. After about half an hour I realized my error of judgement. It was really hard work and not nearly as romantic as it looked. To make matters worse, everyone was way ahead of me and had to keep coming over to my row to help me stay up.

But I wasn't about to quit and get laughed at. So I stuck the day out and make like $40. I then went home and slept for a day and a half and could barely walk. I don't know what the point is. But this was a good article. More people should do stuff like this.

nsted 2 days ago 2 replies      
This story hilariously epitomizes the gulf that lies between the tech scene and the rest of the population. For you a low paying job is a hobby to keep you in check, I'm sure only so long that it doesn't impede your "real job". For most, these jobs are an important source of income. Doesn't it strike you as slightly obnoxious to take such a job away from someone who needs it? I can see this story ending up in Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley". Here's a better "hack": hire smart people away from low paying jobs for your startup, pay them more, and go for a bike ride in the morning.
nnq 2 days ago 0 replies      
The OP is saying something equivalent to "I snort less coke now, because I've also started drinking and smoking pot, and having a commitment to meet the pot dealer each morning helps me wake up" but translated to workaholic lingo.

When the only way for you to disconnect from the work environment and get in contact with the bigger outer world is to get another job and connect to another work environment, something is definitely wrong with you! When you need commitments to other people, like a morning job, to wake up, you have an even bigger problem.

People need to learn to self-motivate and expand their world outside of work!

gk1 2 days ago 2 replies      
A few summers ago I lived in Seattle but worked in Bremerton, which is over an hour away by ferry. To reach on time I had to take the earliest ferry possible; at 6-something AM. If I missed that ferry, the next one wasn't until 1.5 hours later, which would make me very late.

Almost every day--like clockwork--I got up slightly late, threw on some clothes, and went out with my bike. Half-asleep, cold, and worried about missing the ferry, I pedaled my heart out through Seattle's hilly downtown streets and past morning-rush buses.

It sounds miserable. But y'know what... By the time I reached the ferry--usually with only a few minutes to spare--I felt awake, full of energy, and ready to take on the day. As someone who's usually slow and tired in the mornings, this was an immensely refreshing feeling.

(To say nothing of the commute back, biking up a series of brutal, steep-grade hills...)

yawgmoth 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is surprising at all. You're brought up through primary/secondary education where there is a very definite requirement of when and where to be. College hits and that requirement is softened, and procrastination works out a-okay for all sorts of people. Finally, you land a tech job with flex hours and where remote is okay - suddenly you have to exercise self control in a manner that hasn't ever mattered before.

While it seems to me that the 'ideal' (hugely qualified and highly subjective, that word) answer is to practice that self-control (and with that, go through the ups and downs of succeeding and failing at exercising it), the solution that Jesse has found is effective and doesn't have too much overhead. I like it.

sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently picked up a consulting job with a company in a completely different time zone from my own.

I have to wake up at 4am and I'm done for the day at noon. It's been a week so far and I'm loving it!

I wake up, put on some Nujabes[1] and make myself a cup of coffee. Then get to work (I work from home). It's magnificent! By the time I have to pick up my son from school at noon, I'm done for the day with the entire afternoon free to me.

I'm going to have trouble switching back to a regular 9-to-5. Waking up early is almost pure pro's and minimal con's.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTH7XefE85A

bjpirt 2 days ago 3 replies      
When I first read this headline I just assumed he'd had a child.

Low paying: check

Early morning: check

Exertion requiring: check

Not that it's not extremely worth it of course.

patcon 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing idea. I had a similar experience working cashier at a food co-op that I realized was operating in an alley beside my new apartment. Working on cash duty for 2 hours a week is one thing, but I think the most mind-blowing idea came from being a regular shopper when not on-shift. I'm a pretty friendly and respectful guy, and I like to think I treat everyone fairly and equitably, but... this job made me realize that something was amiss. When the people stocking your shelves and charging your credit card might just as easily be a professor or small business owner, a tiny behavioural toggle flips in your brain. And I found that disconcerting. I realized that maybe I hadn't been giving the other people in my community the mindshare they deserved, if that makes sense.

Or maybe, in a funny way, a member-owned co-op is a lot like open source, more than anything else. People who are there, are there because they choose to be. Maybe that's the most important thing that informs the different sort of interaction. We assume unhealthy things about people who do not choose to be serving us.

Or maybe that's not the take-home. I'm still thinking on it :)

jon-wood 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, haven't read the article yet, but that's one beautiful 522 error page Cloudflare are displaying now.
jshakes 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm glad you appreciate the value of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. But reading this, it's easy to see why people post "Die Techie Scum" stickers around SF. You've taken a job that someone else could actually use to help pay rent and have turned it into a hobby. If I did this job for a living I would be furious at the arrogance of someone treating as an exercise in "Feeling Good". Get some perspective.
thrownaway2424 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say that this is not unrelated to the post earlier this week about startup culture in Oakland. This post and the author of it reflects, to me, the vibe of the east bay.
Jemaclus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been considering doing something similar, so this is quite inspiring. Thanks for writing this!
Bahamut 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this - keeping perspective is something I feel a lot of people in the tech industry has lost after (partly) lucking into a great career.
redsparrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
My mom has a newspaper delivery route that she doesn't need. She uses it for exercise and spends the money she earns on her YMCA membership, which she also uses for exercise...

She was selected as Carrier of the Month one time and was asked to answer the following questions so that she could be profiled in the paper:

What do you want to be when you get older?

What to you use the money for that you earn delivering the newspaper?

What are your favourite hobbies?

What is your favourite subject at school?

I only remember her answer to the first question, "wiser."

scotch_drinker 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me in some ways of John Graves. He wrote novels, most famously Goodbye To A River, but for long periods of time, he would build stone walls and houses on his farm. The physicality seemed to allow his mind time to work on the novels. I find that gardening does the same for me and refreshes me for technical work.

People are commenting that this steals a job from someone more deserving but it's not a zero sum game. By keeping his sanity through his personal way of staying grounded, he can spend more energy on his startup which very will might result in more jobs being created. This increases the benefits to the world more than letting someone else deliver bagels.

timjahn 2 days ago 1 reply      
LOVE this idea. A great way to get exercise and force yourself to step outside our little startup/tech bubble to experience more of the "real world".
ojbyrne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its a 2 mile bike ride from the look of things. I (and I'm sure others) ride to work in the morning and go at least 2 miles off the shortest route (perhaps, like me, to go on a trail). So the $35 and free coffee would be a bonus.
stygiansonic 2 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting way to get some morning exercise to start your day.

I believe each person has to find what works for them in terms of getting a healthy amount of exercise. For some that involves a gym membership, fitness classes or team sports.

Myself, I mostly run and enjoy training for a marathon once or twice a year. I am thankful that I usually do not have to start work before 9 AM, which usually allows me to get a morning workout in without waking at a ridiculously early time.

I find this energizes me for the rest of day, provided I did not stay up past midnight the night before and also gives me some alone time to think about anything: Work, problems, or just plain day-dreaming.

Some people hate running for a variety of reasons and I can understand that. You're much less likely to stick with an exercise routine if it feels like yet another chore in life's long list of chores. Experiment and find some activity you can do regularly that offers more than just physical benefits.

jostmey 2 days ago 0 replies      
The harder something is to do the more justifications we come up with to justify what it is we are doing. Employees sometimes works harder when they are paid less. Don't fall into making this same mistake.
alaskamiller 2 days ago 0 replies      
This speaks so much to how the dot-com boom has changed and how young adults are re-re-re-experiencing it.

A complete full circle to the point now where to gain an authentic real world experience means to step outside of the echo chamber to do real work just to feel something real.

When they spoke of hipsters in 2001 this... this is it.

bliti 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work a part time job at a sandwich place to do something different every day, talk to people, joke with co-workers, and learn new things. All while being a software engineer (consultant). Taught me a lot of things and it was great just doing a job that only required me to put vegetables on a loaf of bread.
pyrrhotech 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone needs 8 hours of sleep to be healthy. Being healthy is the most important thing in life, far, far above even #2 which is family. Startups, productivity are several notches below that.

Get 8 hours of sleep. No exceptions.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like this story for a couple of reasons, it forces the wakeup (always good) but it also enforces regular exercise. I'm going to have to figure out how to do something similar.
JeremyMorgan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article, short and to the point.

I think it says a lot about your character that you want to try to maintain being a real person rather than another startup founder with his head in the clouds.

As someone who would love to work from home / run a business again someday you've given me an idea on how to instill a little structure. I struggled with it when running my own company before.

pmtarantino 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great article. I've been thinking in this lately. We, which work on tech, spend all of our work time thinking in how to resolve a problem. It doesn't matter if it is backend or frontend, but we have to approach a problem and resolve it. I think I am a little tired of doing this all the time. Sometimes, I wonder how it would be to have a mechanical job where I have to think less and do much more, mainly physical tasks. Your experience seems a good example of this, and I think I am going to try if I find the time.
sanoli 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been waking up at 5 a.m. since my second child was born. Sleeping late isn't an option, and actually I've been loving it. Get stuff done, feel better, had to learn to go to bed early otherwise following day is complete crap.
binaryqueen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thats a wonderful idea. Two great points that resonated with me:1. Having a commitment that forces you out of bed.2. Involving yourself in something that's not your regular normal "world" can be so refreshing.

I would like to try this at some point. But I don't how I would start finding a job like that without contacts. Any insight on that from the OP would be great.

tarequeh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like the OP is happy with his schedule, which is great. However everyone needs different lengths of sleep for the body to process/release toxins. For me it's 8 hours at least to wake up feeling refreshed and not relying on coffee or other stimulants to go through the day. As for waking up feeling tired no matter when, the optimal timing for waking up matters and is at the end of a 90 minute sleep cycle (you need a few of those per night). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep. You can also use iOS apps like "Sleep Cycle" to aid you in waking up at the right time - really made a difference for me. Waking up to a screaming alarm is probably the last thing you want.
balls187 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting "hack."

If this works for you, and makes you more effective for your company, awesome!

Have you given any thought to the long term effects of sleep will be for you?

rch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. I'm working on a farm a few blocks away this summer (in Boulder).
suyash 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can implement structure in a much better fashion. This approach seems kind of silly to me. I'd rather have a gym/Yoga/sports session in the morning for physical activity - maybe a bootcamp that would be an incentive to get me out of the bed early.
joshrowley 2 days ago 1 reply      
looks like there are some issues with cloudflare/your server


markhall 2 days ago 0 replies      
singingfish 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoy getting a bit of labouring done in the day. Especially if the computer has recently made me very angry.
serverascode 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like this idea, but next time I move I'm going to try to make sure I'm a nice 30 min bike ride from work. Right now I'm 12 min away, which is too close and too easy.
allworknoplay 2 days ago 0 replies      
I mapped it. it's 2.4 miles. on a bike. in oakland. such exercise. many muscles. wow.
Jamie452 2 days ago 0 replies      
Today I got out of bed at 3pm, I'm a student and know I can get away with working through the night instead.

I know that, like the article, if I have a reason to get up, it makes it so much easier for me!

Defiantly a tactic i'll employ if one of my ideas starts taking off!

skizm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't a gym membership do the same thing?
mintykeen 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'd much rather do that than pay to join a gym. Feels more productive and helpful.
mjt0229 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow, I read this as "extortion-requiring", and it sounded a lot worse than it probably is.
vytasgd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this. Awesome. Just awesome. Seems like a great way to stay grounded and keep perspective (along with staying active and giving you structure). Keep it up.
fakename 2 days ago 0 replies      
so you spend ten minutes a day riding your bike, and you found a way to get paid to do it? anything else?
hanley 2 days ago 2 replies      
I could be mistaken, but I mapped the route and it looked like his job entails biking 1.6 miles. Big whoop.
huangc10 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've loved this read. Ever consider just delivering bagels all day long? :)
glareprotector 2 days ago 0 replies      
how did you find such a job, and how can someone find a similar kind?
hmgibson23 2 days ago 0 replies      
how is getting up early an achievement? I really don't get it.
chocks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful idea!
manmeet 2 days ago 0 replies      
great and insightful article
Mathematicians find way to put 7 cylinders in contact without using their ends sciencenews.org
243 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   82 comments top 17
ColinWright 1 day ago 1 reply      
It has been known for a long time that one can arrange 7 cylinders to be mutually touching. That was written about by Martin Gardner decades ago, and was set as a puzzle.

The result had the cylinders touching at the end of one with the length of the other, so the question arose, can one arrange to have seven cylinders all mutually touching, without using the ends. The easiest way to say this is to ask for seven infinitely long cylinders mutually touching.

This has only recently been settled, hence this paper. It's believed impossible to arrange eight identical infinitely long cylinders to be mutually touching. I suspect the result is in fact known, but I haven't searched diligently for it.

There is an associated puzzle that uses cylinders that are very short - think coins. How many coins can you arrange to be mutually touching?

Consider that a puzzle. I can do 5. If you can do more, there's a mathematical paper in it for you, should you care.

soneca 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great design for a no-gravity space station.

Easy to go everywhere from everywhere.

chubot 1 day ago 2 replies      
This sort of reminds me of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6mb%C3%B6c

Because it is a 3D object that was found using mathematics. Any other examples?

I think there are lots of new objects discovered in higher dimensions, but I like when there is something you can actually build and see. I also like how it appears to be very asymmetrical.

ColinWright 1 day ago 0 replies      
Question I've not found the answer to:

    It's possible to have 7 arbitrarily long cylinders    mutually touching.  Currently it's not possible to    have more than 5 coins (which are short cylinders)    mutually touching.  As the cylinder's aspect ratio    decreases, where are the thresholds: 7 -> 6 -> 5 ?

josephwegner 1 day ago 10 replies      
This is going to sound like trolling, but it's not - I'm honestly curious.

Why is this important? Is it just cool, or is there some real world application? Was someone paying for this research for some reason, or was it just a mathematician's hobby?

EDIT: For the record, I don't have any problem with "just cool" research. I do that kind of research often (albeit, not as smart), and totally understand the value in it. Just wondering if this had an application immediately.

huhtenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the original solution - http://www.mathpuzzle.com/7cylinders.gif
analog31 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ask HN: Is there an explanation somewhere of this "certification" that a layperson (college math and physics major, and self taught programmer) could understand?
josh-wrale 1 day ago 3 replies      
Manufacturing errors? I can't tell if this is plastic, but if it is, surely a machinist can do better with metal.
kang 1 day ago 1 reply      
Links from one of the best riddle website : http://www.wuriddles.com/cigarettes.shtml

Cylinder Length | Max cylinders that can touch | Min cylinders that can touch

Infinite | 7 | 5

Actual | 9 | 7

L=D | 4 | 4

thret 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is just one of many puzzles and mathematical curiosities popularized by Martin Gardner. His books and columns make delightful light reading for anyone with a curious mind.
abalone 1 day ago 0 replies      
The hippies of Marin County have known this since 1973.
DonGateley 1 day ago 3 replies      
So, given that this involves rounding errors in solutions to equations it is only an approximate solution. A solution with fuzz. Is it possible to prove that each point of "contact" is exactly coincident? Or to prove that exact coincidence is not possible. There seems to be room for deeper work on this problem.
laxatives 1 day ago 3 replies      
Never seen this sort of thing before. Does this hold for an arbitrary radius? What if these were just lines in 3 space?
Zitrax 1 day ago 2 replies      
Something special about 7 cylinders or would this be equally hard/simple for 6 or 8 ?
ebol4 1 day ago 4 replies      
Don't they just have to not be parallel?
pjbrunet 1 day ago 0 replies      
Proof the Internet is a series of tubes.
gary4gar 1 day ago 2 replies      

    they built a wooden model to demonstrate their answer  although Bozki notes     that the model doesnt verify the result because manufacturing errors     are much greater than any errors the computer could have made.
What's the point, when its not practically possible?

Alan Kay at Demo: The Future Doesn't Have to Be Incremental youtube.com
223 points by corysama  1 day ago   82 comments top 25
dredmorbius 1 day ago 5 replies      
The core idea of non-incremental progress: Xerox PARC accomplished what it did in large part by forcing technology 15 years into the future. The Alto, of which PARC built around 2000, mostly for its own staff, cost about $85,000 in present dollars. What it provided exceeded the general market personal computing capabilities of the late 1980s. This enabled the "twelve and a half" inventions from PARC which Kay claims have created over $30 trillion in generated wealth, at a cost of around $10-12 million/year.

Kay also distinguishes "invention" (what PARC did) -- as fundamental research, from "innovation" (what Apple did) -- as product development.

Other topics:

Learning curves (people, especially marketers, hate them)

"New" vs. "News". News tells familiar stories in an established context. "New" is invisible, learning, and change.

The majority acts based on group acceptance, not on the merits of an idea. Extroversion vs. introversion.

There are "human universals" -- themes people accept automatically, without marketing, as opposed to non-universals, which have to be taught.

Knowledge dominates IQ. Henry Ford accomplished more than Leonardo da Vinci not because he was smarter, but because humanity's cumulative knowledge had given him tools and inventions Leonardo could only dream of.

Tyranny of the present.

bitwize 1 day ago 2 replies      
When Tetsuya Mizuguchi left Sega to form Q Entertainment, he and his team started work on the famous puzzle game Lumines. Their stated goal was to create a game that was merely half a step forward, as opposed to their previous game, Rez, which was two steps forward -- and didn't do well at market.

Smalltalk was at least two steps forward, probably much more than that. The critical thing that put it well into the future was the fact that it made the boundary between users and programmers even more porous. I'm sure many of you have heard the stories of teenagers sitting down to an Alto and writing their own circuit design software in Smalltalk. That kind of power -- turning ordinary people into masters of these powerful machines easily and efficiently -- is just the sort of revolution originally desired and promised us by the first microcomputer marketers.

But of course it didn't do well at market at first, so we had to settle for the thing that was merely half a step forward -- the Macintosh.

exratione 1 day ago 0 replies      
Allow me to put forward a historical analogy: standing in 2014 and arguing a case for gentle future changes in [pick your field here] over the next few decades, based on the past few decades, is something like standing in 1885 or so and arguing that speed and convenience of passenger travel will steadily and gently increase in the decades ahead. The gentleman prognosticator of the mid-1880s could look back at steady progress in the operating speed of railways and similar improvement in steamships throughout the 19th century. He would be aware of the prototyping of various forms of engine that promised to allow carriages to reliably proceed at the pace of trains, and the first frail airships that could manage a fair pace in flight - though by no means the equal of speed by rail.

Like our present era, however, the end of the 19th century was a time of very rapid progress and invention in comparison to the past. In such ages trends are broken and exceeded. Thus within twenty years of the first crudely powered and fragile airships, heavier than air flight launched in earnest: a revolutionary change in travel brought on by the blossoming of a completely new branch of applied technology. By the late 1920s, the aircraft of the first airlines consistently flew four to five times as fast as the operating speed of trains in 1880, and new lines of travel could be set up for a fraction of the cost of a railway. Little in the way of incrementalism there: instead a great and sweeping improvement accomplished across a few decades and through the introduction of a completely new approach to the problem.

semiel 1 day ago 3 replies      
One of the problems I've been struggling with lately is how to arrange for this sort of work, while still allowing the researchers to make a living. Governments and large corporations seem to have by and large lost interest in funding it, and a small company doesn't have the resources to make it sustainable. How do we solve this?
corysama 1 day ago 1 reply      
For ideas on how to make non-incremental progress in technology, check out Kay's earlier talk "Programming and Scaling" http://www.tele-task.de/archive/video/flash/14029/
neel8986 1 day ago 4 replies      
Though a bit obnoxious i really liked the talk.Alan talked about 2007. If we look back it was the time when first iphone was announced. We all knew that in a timespan of seven years the processor will be much faster( Now it is almost 20 times faster)., connectivity will be faster, it will have better display and better sensors.But still none of the application that exists today (except games and animations maybe) take all this improvement into consideration. We are still stuck in old ideas of messaging app, photo sharing app, maps and news aggregators. I believe all those apps could have been conceived back in 2007. No one thought about any new use cases which can take use of the improved hardware. In fact some of the noble concepts like shazm or word lens were conceived 4-5 years back. Now we are stuck at a time where giants of internet are just struggling to squeeze few more bytes of information from user in sake of making more money from adds. It is difficult to believe after 7 years of first smartphone the most talked about event this year was a messaging app being acquired for 19 billion!!I think hardware engineers push the limits by going to any extent to make moore's law true. But we software guys fails to appreciate what is going to come in future
jal278 1 day ago 1 reply      
A practical suggestion Kay makes is that one way to brainstorm start-ups is to think of technological amplifiers for human universals [1]

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

cliveowen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thank you for posting this, the best quote so far has been this: "Prior to the 18th century virtually everyone on the planet died in the same world they were born into". This is a realization I never had, we take progress for granted but it's a precious thing actually.
leoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's amusing that the same optical illusion has been discussed by Michael Abrash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-2dQoeqVVo#t=453 and Alan Kay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTAghAJcO1o#t=1534 in talks on very different topics recently.

> Thomas Paine said in Common Sense, instead of having the king be the law, why, we can have the law be the king. That was one of the biggest shifts, large scale shifts in history because he realised "hey, we can design a better society than tradition has and we can put it into law; so, we're just going to invert thousands of years of beliefs".

Pfft, tell that to the 13th-century Venetians: http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2007/HPL-2007-28R1.pdf . Constitutionalism isn't that new an idea.

MrQuincle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps he's a tad obnoxious, but he says some interesting things.

- think of the future, than reason backwards

- use Moore's law in reverse

- an introvert character can be helpful in coming up with real inventions

- be interested in new ideas for the sake of them being new, not because they are useful now, or accepted, or understandable

- it seems good to sell stuff that can be instantly used, people however, like many other things. they might for example like to learning or get skilled. the bike example is one. but also the piano. or the skateboard.

At least, this is what I tried to grasp from it. :-)

oskarth 1 day ago 0 replies      
For an alternative and cynical view of Xerox PARC, have a look at Ted Nelson's Computers for Cynics 2 - It All Went Wrong at Xerox PARC (15 minutes video):


athst 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great excuse for buying the nicest computer possible - I need to compute in the future!
andreyf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stephen Wolfram's demo he referred to doesn't appear to be up yet, but this one from a couple weeks back is pretty sweet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P9HqHVPeik
xxcode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hacker News is the epitome of short term thinking, with projects like 'weekend projects' etc.
norswap 1 day ago 0 replies      
Totally tangential, but that intro music segment with Alan Key just looking around is total comedy gold. Ah, those cheesy conf organizers...
forgotprevpass 1 day ago 1 reply      
At 15:00, he mentions research on the efficiency of gestures done in the 60's. Does anyone know what he's referring to?
queensnake 22 hours ago 0 replies      
That 'universals' guy seems actually to be Donald Brown, and his book is 'Human Universals'. http://www.amazon.com/Human-Universals-Donald-Brown/dp/00700...

The book is expensive, here's a list:


revorad 1 day ago 0 replies      
The talk starts at 2:42 - http://youtu.be/gTAghAJcO1o?t=2m42s
rafeed 1 day ago 1 reply      
Firstly, I enjoyed his talk. It was pretty insightful into the ways so many businesses and corporations today think, and how we've lost track of building the future. However, there's one thing that really bugged me about his talk. It basically boils down to the fact that you have to take into consideration Moore's Law and have to pay a hefty sum to make any useful invention by paying for the technologies that are 10-15 years ahead of its time to do anything useful for the next 30 years. How does one "invent" in his terms today without the equity that he refers to which you need?
kev009 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know this is really trivial, but I found the extended music intro and his unamused reaction quite comical. Over-analyzing, it's a juxtaposition to parts of his talk.
sAuronas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Playing Wayne Gretzky:

30 years we will (ought to) have cars that repel over the surface by a bioether [sic], possible emitted from the street - which have become (replaced as) linear parks that vehicles float over and never crash. Because of all the new park area, some kids in the suburbs (because they will be park rich) will invent a new game that stretches over a mile that involves more imagination than football, basketball and soccer - combined.

That was an awesome video. C++ == Guitar Hero

kashkhan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone have a link to the Q&A after the talk?
LazerBear 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is very relevant to something I'm trying to build right now, thank you for sharing!
Zigurd 1 day ago 2 replies      
A lot of his talk was wasted on irrelevant complaining about lack of capex in R&D. That's only partly correct. Any one of us can afford to rent a crazy amount of computing power and storage on demand. Pfft.

In short, skip the first 20 minutes. He's being a grumpy old man. In the second part, he's a pissed-off genius and revolutionary.

Roritharr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, he really comes of as obnoxious.

Yes what was done in Xerox Parc was really amazing and cool, but can you please contain your ego atleast a little?

This talk sounds basically like him explaining to everybody in detail how awesome his achievements are.

EDIT: The best point is where he explains with charts that 80% of people are basically sheeple...

Show HN: InstaMotor Taking the pain out of selling your car instamotor.com
216 points by ValG  2 days ago   206 comments top 54
nlh 2 days ago 6 replies      
Great idea - good luck guys! Related note for the HN community, while we're on the subject:

Unless you have time & money to burn, you really should never never never trade your car into the dealership. It's the worst price you're going to get along the used car supply chain. And even if you think you're getting a good price, it's because you're probably pairing it with buying a car (and paying too much for the car you're buying).

The worst-case used car dealer supply chain works like this (going backwards):

* You buy a used car for $20,000.

* The used car dealer bought it from a wholesaler for $19,000

* The wholesaler bought it from a wholesale auction for $18,000

* The dealership who sold it at auction paid $16,000 as a trade-in.

(*I saw worst case because not all of these steps happen each time)

Note the chain begins with trade-in -- because dealerships know that people who are trading in are pressed for time and want a no-hassle deal. But in doing that, they're giving up $thousands to each step along the chain.

So when selling a car - going direct (or using a service like InstaMotor) is always going to net you more $$ than trade-in.

And now ya know :)

chadwickthebold 2 days ago 4 replies      
One point - take a look at the copy on your pricing slider. 'You Earn' makes it sound like that's all I'm going to get out of this deal. It took me a second to realize it was the difference between the dealership and instamotor.
kareemm 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm in the process of buying a used car and wrote a note to my business partner about how I wish a service like this existed.

There's often a ton of communication between me and sellers to determine things like:

- mileage

- automatic / manual transmission

- whether car has been in any serious accidents

- whether there's any major upcoming maintenance

- whether the driver smoked

- whether the title is Clean

Then I need to get the VIN and run a CarProof (Canadian equiv. of CarFax).

Then, assuming it checks out, schedule a test drive.

Then, assuming the drive is good, get a mechanic's inspection done.

Then, pay and sign papers.

It's a royal pain, compounded by the fact that CL and Autotrader individual sellers seem to be a generally sketchy or uncommunicative lot: no email replies, missed appointments, lying about the title, etc. are all common.

Car buying won't be done like it currently is in 10 years from now; glad to see you're doing something to improve the experience.

carlypso 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Guys,

Nicholas here. I started Carlypso.com last summer when Chris (my co-founder) and I had helped a number of our classmates sell their used cars after graduation.

About 9 months ago, I had the pleasure of dealing with Instamotor founder Sy when he bought his Audi A4 with our help. His feedback over email was really encouraging:

"About your idea:

1. I was looking a bit at ways to remotely unlock a car over a network connection. It seems to me that the technology story around that is a bit weak, but not completely infeasible. First, there's automatic (http://www.automatic.com/) though i don't know if they'll ever ship a product, but in theory it's really what you guys want. Second, there is a myriad of small stuff like this http://www.text2car.com/

2. I really liked the concept of being able to take the car for a drive, free of any awkward conversation with the owner. It's really pleasant actually, and it gave me the time to think about the purchase and inspect the car. The user psychology is really nailed on that one. That's the way I want to buy every used car from now on."

Long story short, Sy and Val liked our service so much that they decided to just copy it. I'm all for competition and welcome Val and Sy into the used car market. It is sorely in need of a better solution, one which will make buyers and sellers happier and eliminate the inefficiencies and scamming of the dealer model.

I'm not a big fan of plagiarism but different people are different I guess.

If you'd like to stop by our offices, meet our team and see how we're doing, just PM me and we'll hook it up. Chris might even let you drive his 500 hp formula car, which he's been building over the last couple of years! :)


Nicky and the Carlypso team Nicholas@carlypso.com

darrenkopp 2 days ago 1 reply      
"We charge <5% of your vehicles sales price""Simple 5% commission."

As an engineer, that really bothers me.

ValG 2 days ago 12 replies      
Hi Guys, Val here from InstaMotor. Were trying to be to car dealerships what airbnb is to the hotel industry.

Wed love to get some additional feedback on the service. Any feedback provided is super beneficial. Were specifically looking for some feedback on:

1. When you get to the site, within the first 30 seconds, do you understand what we do. Why or why not?

2. If you do understand what we do, would you ever use a service like this? How much would you be willing to pay for this service?

3. Whats the biggest benefit to the service that you see?

4. Any general feedback on the site the content, the service as a whole would be great.

Thanks for the help guys, We always appreciate it!

greggman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was an awesome idea and tried to post it in my facebook feed to show my friends. Unfortunately http://www.instamotor.com/ ends up with the excerpt "Landing Page Template for Bootstrap" and http://www.instamotor.com/#/ has no picture. I've found, or it least it seems to me, when there's no picture none of my friends click the link.

Apparently you need to add these tags?https://developers.facebook.com/docs/web/tutorials/scrumptio...

callmeed 2 days ago 2 replies      
You should really move the "Now Serving The Bay Area" message above the fold. I would have signed-up and used you right away (want to sell my Honda Element).
afhsfsfdsss88 2 days ago 2 replies      
Most dealer trade offers are so low because they don't even keep your car on the lot, they sell it at auction...at wholesale prices.

That is a lot different than individual sales...which is how this service sells your car. So yeah, you get a better price for your car, but the service still eats a good chunk of the sale price difference between dealer-trade and individual sale.

And "all the paperwork" amounts to downloading a bill of sale form and title transfer online with the DMV. It's not rocket science, nor time consuming. Certainly not worth hundreds of dollars.

exue 2 days ago 3 replies      
Great service! A lot of people don't have experience or simply don't want to deal with the Craigslist experience. Putting another option between a private party sale and the dealer is great.

Questions that immediately come to mind - how do you handle negotiations, and how do buyers pay? How do you pay the seller afterward? (cash, verifying a cashier's check - other comments point out the common scams etc.) (Or is Instamotor just a transaction facilitator)? Where is the vehicle listed? Do you handle smog checks as well (for California)? <- Those are the most common things I go through the used vehicle process.

Also, how do you filter out non-serious buyers, especially for performance vehicles? A lot of sellers ask for some sort of proof of payment or cash ready before a test drive. It seems like you're mainly handling high-end cars where the 5% commission will pay off too, how does the model change for say a $5K vehicle?

Finally as a buy I would want to do my own inspection unless the inspection is at a mechanic I already trust - there is way too much conflict of interest having the selling side do an inspection.

Some ways to get it more buyer-friendly would be to offer a CARFAX as well.

mattsfrey 2 days ago 1 reply      
Having to enter a phone number to create an account resulted in a closed browser tab. Might want to consider this factor, can guarantee theres plenty more where I come from.
michaelrbock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to InstaMotor on the launch; this looks like the kind of experience I would want when selling a car. Best of luck to the team!

While we're on the subject of cars and improving the car buying/selling process, I just wanted to say that Edmunds.com has opened up its car data to the world in a sane, RESTful API. Check it out at http://developer.edmunds.com and let me know if you have any questions: mbock @ edmunds . com.

We also just finished Hackomotive, a $35k hackathon focused on startups improving the car shopping experience. You can see the winners here: http://www.hackomotive.com/. We'd obviusly love to see InstaMotor apply for next year!

everettForth 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just curious, I actually have a car valued at around $20,000 that I want to sell. I posted it on craigslist, and realized that I don't have time to deal with all the crap.

Some dealer called me and left a message saying that they would sell my car for me for $200. Are they lying? Are there other hidden fees? Why should I pay InstaMotor $1000 instead of $200 to this other guy?

One advantage, I see is that I get to keep and drive my car. Except my car is parked in a lot, and I only have 1 keyfob to get it out.

orky56 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great service. Although eBay Motors and Craigslist exist for this opportunity, they are very impersonal and create just as many issues as they try to solve. Here's some feedback on the website and service. Hope it helps!

1. Redundant content: I felt like you repeated the same value proposition in nearly every section of your website. However, each section had one small tidbit that wasn't addressed anywhere else (e.g. only available in bay area).

2. Excessive calls to action: Although it's great that you have placed many calls to action (various buttons, sliders, etc.), it really confuses the user. Having one consistent message and/or placement might improve conversion. Just a hypothesis and one you should definitely A/B test.

3. Poor navigation: The "home" button in the footer navigates the user to an awkward anchor tag on the home page. The About page has a large image that makes it seem like a homepage rather than getting in to the actual content of the page. The Contact page is an overlay modal and may not even be worth creating as a separate page. Perhaps placing it in the footer is sufficient.

4. Commas: In your slider showing the different amounts you can save, you should be sure to a comma as a thousands separator or a decimal point + "k" or "thousand". This will increase impact and hopefully conversion as well.

5. Reposition: Seeing this on "Show HN" and seeing lots of copy/images in the beginning made your site seem like it was a just placeholders. It wasn't until I scrolled to the bottom did I see there were testimonials and cars that were actually sold. This content should be placed further up since it demonstrates some form of validation/social traction. It would be great to have a ticker or some other indicator of cars sold at some point when it gets bigger.

Best of luck and feel free to reach out for any clarifications.

AndrewKemendo 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like it and would like to use it here in D.C. please.

I would suggest making the sell price in the big red letters instead of the "youll earn" part. That whole section is a little confusing and I thought it was telling me I would only get 2k for my 20k car. I only really care about how much I would be getting for my car, the comparison to the dealership is important but secondary, and oh by the way I will have already probably looked that up on kbb.com.

ufmace 2 days ago 1 reply      

Wish it was more prominent that this is Bay Area only for now. I doubted that it would be in my area, since it sounded like something that required local personnel and nobody seems to do startups in Houston, but you have to scroll to the bottom to see it stated.

Some of the text looks terrible on my Windows 7 - Chrome environment. Especially everything in How It Works.

The website is all about the sell side, and you say the buy side is ebay, craigslist, autotrader, etc. Why not post the cars in a store on your site too? Last time I checked those sites, they had a terrible UI.

In fact, that idea expands the business from a seller's assistant kind of thing to more of an online-focused CarMax. I think that could be really useful to everyone. I'm thinking kind of a cross between AutoTrader and CarMax. On the buyer's side, it could be like the existing online sites, except that the photos and details are collected by your people, so they're consistent and high-quality. Maybe you take the car for a few hours, have a mechanic check it out, wash it, and take high-quality high-res photos in a controlled environment. The buyers can know and trust that you've done all this, and that they're getting a good representation of what they're thinking of buying.

The sellers get pretty much what you're already doing, all of the legwork done for them, a better price, and hopefully buyers who know what they're getting, and are vetted as serious buyers before a test-drive is set up.

I suppose the main difference between you and Carmax, then, is that you are all online, thus have a much better online presence, and don't need to maintain a car lot. Does that translate into enough of a cost savings to offer a better deal to the customers than the current incumbents, though?

petercooper 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a totally different business model to this but http://www.webuyanycar.com/ is a pretty big deal here in the UK. You get a valuation, take your car to them, they buy it. To my surprise it worked pretty well too and I got almost as much for my car as I'd have realistically got waiting for months on a classifieds site or whatever. I imagine the way the British used car market works has a big impact on the idea actually working though.
jlees 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm your target user right now. I'm desperately trying to sell my car without using Craigslist - I have a loan still, and I'm afraid of risk and scams. Feel free to ping me for a user study if you need.

I've tried another service but due to a small dent in the car I couldn't sell it - the car's actually in the shop right now getting that fixed, because using a service to sell is so much better than the alternatives. My current plan is to go back to them when it's repaired.

deegles 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could you please add a form for "Notify me when InstaMotor is available in my area"? Just with email and city. I almost signed up before I saw it was only available for the Bay area.
alasdair_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
"How much is your car worth?" on the main page: I have no idea. Isn't that the point of your service, to tell me how much I can get for my car?
canistr 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the looks of the responses here, looks like you guys should get up a "Notify me when you come to my area" up on your site.
dm2 2 days ago 1 reply      
My biggest question is about the test-drive. How do those work?

What stops someone from taking a 1 hour test-drive? (and wasting you gas on their errands)

If someone gets in an accident during a test-drive who is liable? Do all insurance plans cover this?

What does remote-key access mean? "We verify all buyers and schedule flexible test-drives with remote key access."

How quickly do you plan on expanding to other states?

Your site has a 1px left margin which is making a horizontal scrollbar which is annoying me.

@media screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 0)html {margin-left: 1px;}

joshmlewis 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've bought and sold a lot of cars the past few years. I have never once considered a dealer trade in offer. I've had relatively easy and good luck with selling my car online through Craigslist and Autotrader which I imagine is what they will probably do to unload the cars.

I like the idea of the service but I'm wondering what the difference is between dealer trade in pricing and market pricing. Even if I have to sacrifice a couple grand to not have to do the whole process, I'm ok with that but I'd rather know pricing from that point of view.

I'm also curious how you plan on doing the legal paperwork as I've done a lot of this too and it's not easy getting setup to handle all the paperwork especially if it's between two parties.

Ellipsis753 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea but wanted to point out something that confused me.Car value:$100000Average Dealership Trade-In Offer:$80,000 $85,000With Instamotor:$95,000You Earn:$10,000

The way it says "you earn" I can't help but think that that is the total amount you will get. I would prefer it to say "you earn $95,000. $10,000 more than you would have with a dealership". Or something similar.

MortenK 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hate selling cars. It's troublesome and time consuming, so you I'd gladly pay for the service. The pricing turns me off though. Selling a 50K car, the commission would turn out to 2.5K. That's net. So with 50% income tax rate, I'd have to earn 5K to pay the commission.

That's much too steep for me. If there was a cap of say 1K, I'd be a customer in a heartbeat. But 5K gross is certainly worth the inconvenience of selling it myself.

pmorici 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does this compare to CarMax? They typically offer more than a dealer would as well on cars that are in good condition and less than 10 years old.
balls187 2 days ago 1 reply      
As soon as you come to Seattle, I will sell my GTi with you (srsly)!

Ofc, you'll be awesome, so then the Seattle Government will issue legislation banning your awesome idea because Used Car Dealerships won't be able to compete, and they'll use their Good Ol' Boy network to shut it down.

vishaldpatel 2 days ago 1 reply      
This might just work! How much would it cost you to offer a free car-wash coupon that's redeemable at local full-service car washes?

I would write blog posts on interesting success stories with different types of cars and seller stories -- often cars are hard to sell for various reasons.

Offering to take a professional picture is your ultimate in.

giarc 2 days ago 2 replies      
How long have you been running this service?I recall about 3 months ago, a post on HN where someone posted a bunch of idea's they had but didn't have time to execute. This was one of them. Did instamotor flow from that?
m52go 2 days ago 2 replies      
Kill CarMax. Decentralize it.

The sheer number of resources one dealership consumes boggles my mind: all the people, the mechanics, the land, the land, the land, oh, and the other acres of land.

ryan_j_naughton 2 days ago 1 reply      
Your "Get started today" form is failing for me.

Instead I am getting this error: Sorry, we're not able to save your info at this time. And the div with that error is added each time I submit the form so you can get them to start stacking on each other.

<div class="alert ng-isolate-scope alert-danger" ng-class="&quot;alert-&quot; + (type || &quot;warning&quot;)" ng-repeat="alert in alerts" type="alert.type" close="closeAlert($index)"> <button ng-show="closeable" type="button" class="close" ng-click="close()"></button> <div ng-transclude=""><span class="ng-scope ng-binding">Sorry, we're not able to save your info at this time.</span></div></div>

delive 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was curious on how the test drive scheduling worked. It says "schedule flexible test-drives with remote key access." It sounded a bit unclear to me, and I'm not sure how that works.

I think the idea is excellent and would use it when I decide to sell my car.

Gracana 2 days ago 1 reply      
Haha, my car isn't worth enough for you to sell it. :|
elyrly 2 days ago 0 replies      
InstaMotor does put a valiant effort in changing the mundane process that filled with disagreements from the seller side. The end product will solve minor inconvenience but doesn't look kindly from the OEM's point of view. They will see this as a threat to the dealers and sustaining a flow of walk-ins to market their new models. Its generating a buzz here thats all a post like this can ask for: opinionated tech individuals that look forward to innovating various industries.
BorisMelnik 2 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent idea - we are all looking at it right now in our office. 1 person said he would definitely use this right now for his used car he is selling. Really well done, very well explained & designed.
petersouth 2 days ago 1 reply      
In addition, could you make a service where I can go into a new car dealership and buy a car in five minutes with financing. I just bought two brand new cars in the last six months and had to wait around for hours and leave dealerships after calling them up before I even left my house and telling them I want to buy x car at x price at x time of the day and they agree, but when I get there it's a nightmare.
theflubba 2 days ago 1 reply      
1. Take pic of your white van. 2. Post pic with description and mileage on craigslist.3. Don't mention what happened in the back of the van in '99.3. Get a couple emails.4. Sell it to the highest bidder.

Who's too stupid to not figure this out and needs a service?

Okay, so they pay you more than the dealership. That's a selling point. But I could find someone on Craigslist and sell it to them for more.

enscr 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Transferring vehicle ownership is confusing; that's why we take care of it.

Care to explain. I've found it extremely straight forward.

chenac 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like a really cool service!

Do you guys have a geographic limit that you are restricting service to?

TulliusCicero 2 days ago 1 reply      
Definitely a cool idea. Where's the buying side, though? Do you guys just list on craigslist?
bnzelener 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you can get this working on cars, I would love to see what you can do with residential real estate. 42Floors might beat you there, but they seem pretty focused on commercial.
radnam 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you plan to have a listing page for the cars with a email service which intimates me when a car I am interested in (e.g., brand, price range etc) is now available through you.
cianclarke 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh hi, I fixed your pricing pagehttp://i.imgur.com/N90HwsK.png
kfd1 2 days ago 1 reply      
Love the idea. This tackles a real pain point for many sellers. Good website. I like!

What are the challenges of expanding to different locations?

SimpleXYZ 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a great idea. I once scrapped a car for a couple hundred bucks instead of selling it because I didn't want the hassle of selling it.
johnatwork 2 days ago 1 reply      
Let me know if you guys ever come to Canada.
mellery451 2 days ago 1 reply      
where do we go to see what cars you currently have for sale?
duaakshay 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really like the slider with what you earn! Good job
sharemywin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't you need a dealer license for this?
stefap2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is minimum car price $5000?
pwrfid 2 days ago 1 reply      
Super nice website & really cool product. Congrats
ztratar 2 days ago 1 reply      
5% is a lot. I would expect this to be more around 2%.
rasz_pl 2 days ago 0 replies      
whatr pain and agony?
dang 2 days ago 1 reply      
This post got nailedhardby the voting ring detector, but I'm restoring it because we want to see original work on HN.

A "voting ring" is when people get friends to upvote their stuff. This is against the rules. We want stories to be on HN because they're good, not because they were promoted.

It's sadly common for a great Show HN post to get demoted because its creators, eager to get it on the front page, tried to game it. I've noticed a pattern, too: usually their gaming technique is pathetic. Perhaps that's because they're creators, not promoters. Unfortunately, it has the side-effect of making it certain that the ring detector will nail their otherwise good post, while we carry on the real cat-and-mouse game with people pushing crap.

I've got what I believe will be a sweet solution to this problem, but it awaits time for implementation.

Please everybody, don't ring-vote your posts; just take your chances with HN's randomness. If a post is solid and hasn't gotten any attention yet, a couple of reposts is ok. Be careful not to abuse that, though, since we penalize accounts for reposting too much.

I'm going to demote this comment as off-topic so it won't get in the way of the real discussion. Send any moderation questions to hn@ycombinator.com.

Why UPS Trucks Rarely Turn Left priceonomics.com
214 points by lelf  1 day ago   126 comments top 26
bunkat 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have a friend that is a UPS driver and he always rolls his eyes when somebody mentions this to him. UPS trucks definitely turn left. Sure the delivery order generally tries to reduce left hand turns, but on the routes that he drove he saw very little difference in the route when comparing them before this 'change' and after it. The biggest cost savings were done by reducing the driver and truck counts and paying the remaining drivers overtime to deliver more packages.
kristiandupont 1 day ago 10 replies      
In Denmark, the term hjresvingsulykke (right turn accident) is common, meaning when a car, typically a truck, turns right and hits a bicycle. Lots of people are killed from this every year. One theory is that it is primarily foreign truck drivers who are not accustomed to the high number of cyclists in Copenhagen.

When I initially saw the title, I was expecting it to be a mistake and actually say "Why UPS Trucks Don't Turn Right". I guess the problem is less severe in the rest of the world.

rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whenever I get annoyed at labor unions and think they're mostly inefficient rent-seekers, make work, etc. (which they tend to be, in declining industries), the counter-example of UPS comes to mind -- they're unionized, but in a stable or growing industry, and seem to have both fair (not too high, not too low) wages and great performance.
mistermann 1 day ago 7 replies      
Id very much like to know why they don't send a text+email prior to a physical delivery so I can confirm whether I will be home to take delivery and potentially offer a reroute address or simply say do not attempt, rather than the current approach of making three unsuccessful attempts.
mck- 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're running a business, and would like to apply route optimization to manage your fleet, have a look at Routific [1]

Disclaimer: I'm the founder of Routific

[1] https://www.routific.com/developers

ntoshev 1 day ago 0 replies      
You really need a data driven approach in this. Gather statistics of actual vehicles going from point A to point B so that you know the best way to do it in the future.

I'm running a routing optimization service (http://fleetnavi.com if you are curious, but it's only in Bulgarian for now, although Chrome translate works really well on the site). The routes a mapping service like google maps will give you are not that great really, in many cases the data needed to do a perfect route are just not available. We aren't using the stats from routes in the past yet, but it's a next step that would clearly be beneficial.

PythonicAlpha 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just wondered, if the parts of the trucks (specially wheels and steering parts) have uneven wear (off?) by this practice.

Apart from that, sounds like a good engineering/optimization result.

PS: But there is a solution to that problem, as I see the other posts around .... just bring the trucks with uneven wear to the UK after a while ...

michaelfeathers 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the movie 'Cop Land' Ray Liotta's character (a cop) repeatedly uses the phrase "Don't fight, go right" to refer to a tactic fugitives use: avoiding left hand turns. Apparently, if you know that you can chase better.

I think it was meant as a double entendre too - referring to one's moral compass.

guelo 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that UPS drivers have to solve the traveling salesman problem every morning with additional real-world constraints like this one.
jonalmeida 1 day ago 1 reply      
For people who don't live in North America: If you're at a stop, you follow a "free right" rule where you're allowed to go right even if the traffic lights are red, but as long as there aren't pedestrians crossing.

I can see the free-right policy also being a major factor in this as well but I don't see it mentioned.

lutusp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apropos left turns, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was involved in a left-turn accident early in his career, after which he ordered that his drivers never turn left when he was in the car.


Quote: "A small army of agents spent days planning details of the trip. The supervisor drove the car with Hoover and Tolson. Hoover insisted on riding in the back seat, on the right side. Hed once been injured in a car wreck while sitting in the left rear seat, and he refused to sit there again. Also, the accident occurred during a left turn, and Hoover no longer allowed his drivers to make left turns. This complicated the route to Austin in those days before interstate highways."

js2 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article reminded me of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_left
tehabe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can imagine that in a typical American city, but I wonder how this would work in a typical European city. Where you don't usually have so nice even blocks like in the US.

I could get to my parents w/o a left turn. So I don't think it is impossible to avoid left turns in a European city but I think it is much, much harder to do so.

ableal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aside from route optimization, something else that the tracking devices may allow is recording acceleration, braking and instant fuel consumption. This in turn makes possible to train and reward drivers for more efficient driving.

It's a big selling point for systems sold to trucking and public transportation companies.

Link- 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hasn't this been confirmed on Mythbusters (in SF) as well (Episode 145)?
grannyg00se 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's hard to imagine that a high number of intersections are so bad for left turns that a three right turn detour is warranted. I've seen some left turn lanes get severely backed up during rush hour on the busiest of streets, but as a general rule I'd expect the left turn would win. I'd be curious to see more data on this.
AYBABTME 21 hours ago 0 replies      
As a teenager, I joked that for political reasons, I prefered turning 3 times right rather than going left.

Note: This says nothing of my political views, it was only a joke.

WalterBright 1 day ago 1 reply      
It'd be nice if consumer GPS navigators offered an option like "prefer right turns".
kitd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ha, wondered why they've never caught on here in the UK.
pcurve 1 day ago 3 replies      
Amount of fuel saved is actually negligible. With a fleet of 100,000 trucks, it comes out to be less than 1 gallon per truck per year in savings.
KC8ZKF 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mythbusters covered this. http://youtu.be/ppCz4f1L9iU
protomyth 1 day ago 2 replies      
From the article: "While the no left turn rule has an appealingly simple and algorithmic quality to it, you will see UPS drivers take left turns on occasion, especially in residential neighborhoods without much incoming traffic."

So, no, they do turn left. More title mythology.

noisedom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm reminded of the one time I drove through New Jersey. Major arterials are all set up like interstates and left turns aren't an option. Usually you have to go further than your destination and take a right to get on an overpass that spits you out in the opposite direction on the arterial. It's very frustrating if you manage to get lost.
notfoss 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess it would be rather easy to identify an off-duty UPS driver, just by analyzing his/her driving pattern.
steven_pack 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope they refer to that as the "Zoolander" policy at UPS.


edemay 1 day ago 4 replies      
Could this inform urban planning?Shouldn't we ban left hand turns more often for everyone?
WebM support on 4chan 4chan.org
201 points by ivarious  23 hours ago   96 comments top 12
bstar77 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Has anyone had experience optimizing for webm? I really want to support this codec, but it's insanely slow in my experience. I'm finding that it's generally around 4x slower than mp4, but I've also had cases where it's taken up to a minute to encode a file where h264 take under 10 seconds.

My use case is to have the best performance/quality ratio for a 30 second video under 3mb.

These are my ffmpeg flags:

h264: "-vcodec libx264 -crf 28"

webm: "-c:v libvpx -qmin 0 -qmax 50 -crf 5 -b:v 1M -c:a libvorbis -aq 4"

The video I tested with these setting last night took 5 seconds on h264 and 35 seconds for webm, both outputting to a 2.6mb file.

System Specs:- Intel Core i7 4770 Quad-Core 3.4GHz- 16gb 1866mhz memory- ssd drive- 64bit ubuntu 12.04 lts

What further frustrates this is that I can use OpenCL to improve encoding times even more, but only with h264 in ffmpeg (as far as I know).

sprash 18 hours ago 6 replies      
WebM is clearly a far inferior experience compared to gif on firefox:

- at the start there is a stupid "fade in" effect.

- the loading animation does sometimes not disappear even though the video has fully loaded.

- the loading animation is generally annoying. Gifs just stop when bufffering and continue as soon as there is new data.

- a useless control bar shows at the bottom on hovering.

- Unlike gifs the video does not stop when you scroll beyond it which causes a huge amount of processor load.

valarauca1 22 hours ago 4 replies      
This is a very big moment for WebM. I feel 4chan has become the 'porn' industry of the internet. With VHS vs Betamax the largely deciding factor was which standard porn supported (this was again to a lesser extent with bluray).

The general lack of adoption of animated png's is often pointed squarely on 4chan. Since it generated most of the web's viral funny content. And since most of it was in .gif, who needs to support .apng?

Hopefully we will see the opposite with WebM. More general funny content, more drive for it to be adopted on sites like reddit (which already to some extent uses gifcat on some subs), and imgur. Which will snowball its general adoption.

stefantalpalaru 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Why not use a <video> tag with the 'loop' attribute to better simulate animated GIFs?
kalleboo 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Any reason to not support h264, which seems to have similar levels of browser support? (trades Firefox on Linux/OS X/WinVista for support on IE/Safari/iOS/Android)
kissickas 21 hours ago 2 replies      
OP's link is 404ing and moot's won't connect at all for me. There's no way HN took down 4chan. Anyone have additional info/a mirror?
shmerl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
One problem I have is that there is no way to set format priority which would override page order. And because of some Apple's stupid bugs in Safari most pages list mp4 first. Current Firefox already supports mp4/H.264 through gstreamer, so it always picks that first even if WebM is available.

I'd prefer to set some option of "free codecs first".

pippy 15 hours ago 1 reply      
WebM is a fantastic step forward. I prefer gfycat links over imgur gifs when browsing reddit (gfycat is a service that converts gifs to WebM). It does have minor teething problems (controls, loading animations, etc) but its advantages outweigh its negatives.

WebP however for some reason hasn't gained as much traction as WebM. Firefox refuses to merge support, despite the fact it leverages the same library is WebM. I'd like to see WebP gain support more than WebM, Google's mod_speed converts images to WebM if using the Chrome browser to save on bandwidth.

X-Istence 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Where can I go download a plugin for Safari on OS X?
aspensmonster 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I'm still waiting for other sites like imgur to get with the program :D

Edit: Thread 2 (Yeah, 4chan, possibly probably nsfw, etc): http://boards.4chan.org/g/res/41215438#p41215438

frozenport 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't autoplay.
Ask HN: Any hackers over 60? 70?
194 points by GuiA  1 day ago   111 comments top 33
nkoren 1 day ago 1 reply      
My father isn't a HN regular, but he's 70 and is very much a hacker. He founded a software startup (www.imatest.com) when he was 63, and now has a dozen employees and is working harder than ever as its CTO. His passion for hacking hasn't waned in the slightest -- if anything, it's increased by orders of magnitude since he retired from his day job. His hacking aptitude within his own narrow speciality (imaging science) also seems to be undiminished.

I do sometimes notice that the breadth of his hacking aptitude might be less than in a younger person; he doesn't always grok new concepts as quickly when they are outside his immediate area of interest. Eg., it took me a long while to convince him that automated testing was a really important part of modern software development. But I can understand how this would seem quite alien to somebody who first learned to program on punch-cards -- and since he's happy to delegate things beyond his immediate area of focus, it hasn't been a problem.

So, anecdotally: medical issues permitting, there's absolutely no reason you need to scale back on your passion for hacking passion as you age, although the breadth of your hacking might need to narrow somewhat.

copx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ken Thompson [1] is about as old as modern computing, and can in fact claim to have partially invented it. He is over 70 and last time I checked he was still working for Google. His most recent project well-known to the public is the Go programming language. So it is certainly possible.

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

lutusp 1 day ago 6 replies      
> Ask HN: any hackers over 60? 70?

I'm 68, and I should add that "hacker" meant something different when I first heard it used. :)

> Are you still employed or retired?

I'm retired, but I still program for enjoyment. I have a line of free Android apps published:


> How does one's passion and aptitude for hacking evolve towards this part of one's life?

If anything, programming has become more important to me as I have gotten older, for the same reason that mathematics has greater appeal to a maturing mind -- it represents a rational counterpoint to a world that, over time, seems to make less sense.

Blahah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Peter Murray Rust [0] is in his 70s and still writes code most days [1], and is a hacker in the original sense. He's retired from his professorship but still runs an active research group making awesome software to liberate knowledge from scientific publications, and he runs the Open Knowledge Foundation and various other groups. I'll ask him to respond himself.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Murray-Rust

[1] https://bitbucket.org/petermr

jxf 1 day ago 0 replies      
He's not 60 yet, but Peter Norvig is 57 and shows no signs of slowing down. If anything he's getting more prolific with age. It seems like every time he gets on a plane he's hacking on something interesting: http://norvig.com/sudoku.html
beggi 1 day ago 4 replies      
While surely there are few hackers older than 60 or 70, the history of the personal computer is still too young for the question to be a meaningful indicator of how long people keep hacking. The Altair came out in 1975 meaning that someone that was 20 at the time and started hacking on it right away is only reaching 60 next year. The first mass-market personal computer (the Macintosh) came out in 1984 and working with computers was still a niche at that time. Those hackers that are over 60 now are either super early adopters or those that started hacking late in life, so in any case a very small group. I'm sure there will be plenty of hackers over 60 in a few decades :) - Also, looking forward to fragging and playing Starcraft in the nursing home! :)
kabdib 1 day ago 2 replies      
My father-in-law retired at 75. He was writing firmware for Perkin Elmer chip steppers. I've seen his code, it was pretty nice stuff.

One guy I met was 65 and about to start up another company. He was sharp and definitely knew what he was doing.

The group I was in at Microsoft (Xbox) had David Cutler in it; I think he had just turned 70. I didn't work with him closely, but he was definitely prolific (also more than a bit controversial, politically, at MS, but he had mellowed out quite a bit when I met him).

I'm 53 and have high hopes. :-)

edw519 1 day ago 1 reply      
58, been very active on HN since the beginning, 7 years ago.

My passion and aptitude for hacking are higher than ever!

I struggled all day yesterday, trying to organize parameters to feed an engine to propagate data that would generate code for a new project. Woke up at 4 a.m. with a hypothesis, and built a working prototype before breakfast. What a great day already.

I have written over a million lines of commercial code since 1979, still work serving customers pretty much full time and have enough time left for another 20 to 30 hours per week on personal projects. I have at least one or two more start ups in me, for sure.

If this industry was like it was when I started, before PCs and the internet, and I had to sling COBOL for enterprises, I'd probably be a greeter at Walmart now, planning for social security. But fortunately our world has changed and it's so much more interesting and fun. If I ever do retire, I'll probably still keep building stuff forever.

The 2 best things: software is everywhere and involved in everything now. I can't imagine not finding an interesting application. And perhaps more importantly, things change so fast, there's always something newer and possibly more interesting right around the corner. (I wish I had more time to explore node, go, and some more frameworks, but I'm so busy...)

Between building software, riding my bike, drinking great beer, and getting laid every once in a while, I still feel like 25. I don't want it to ever end.

I think anyone who builds software should feel like I do. I hope most of you do. Prepare for a nice long ride!

dwarman 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I started age 19 in 1967. Maybe even earlier. Dropped untrained into the deep end commissioning 4100 computers at Elliott Bros near London, and turned out I could swim. Passion - always had the feeling of "You actually want to _pay_ me to do this?"

Now I am 66, still fully employed, latest thing you might have heard (of) is the WiiU Audio engine. For unrelated reasons I went through a battery of cognitive function tests a couple of years ago and came out sharper than I was at 19 by at least a full sigma. I have no plans to retire.

I would add Don Knuth to the the honors list. And Minsky. Tony Hoare. Ted Nelson. Alan Kay. The original Homebrew Club members are getting up there. And about 100 others I know but you probably won't recognize. A peer group in which I am merely average.

As to selectivity and numbers. Yes, there have been programmers since WWII. But mot that many. So my age group has far fewer members than the upcoming geriatric programmer generation. But I have noticed one very encouraging feature we share: barring serious health issues (and even in spite of in some cases), a high percentage are still very active and passionate. No comment on causality, could easily be that it takes a active mind of a peculiar bent to get into the field in the first place and these just last, or it could be that the mental excersize it takes to keep relevant keeps the mind young, or both. But I'm pretty sure I won't last long if I have to stop doing it.

rch 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My father probably qualifies too. In the early 80's we had a Bell Labs/Western Electric Energy management system with home sensors and links to the electric and gas companies. They used a Z80 microprocessor in a STD bus card rack. And at no point in the last 30+ years has he ever been without projects or machines to work on.

His skillset goes from the EPROM and PLC level, through C/C++, and on to actual 20 ton open die forging. I've seen him take a break from debugging a C++ driver for a hydraulic beam loader to replace live high voltage fuses with a hot stick rather than wait for the power company. It really puts what we refer to as 'full-stack' into perspective.

DonGateley 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I'll be 70 in November and am putting the finishing touches on a VST plugin that can make any 'phone (head, ear, canal, etc.) I can measure sound like any other 'phone I can measure with remarkable verisimilitude. The trick was not the DSP (standard stuff, that, and part of what I once got paid to do) but in devising a measurement system that worked across types. That part was empirical and took more years and iterations than I'll admit to but without retirement I wouldn't have had the time for all the experimentation that finally nailed it.

I've got to say that my coding bug rate seems worse and debug time seems substantially longer and more tedious than I remember. My first coding was assembler for an IBM 7094 as a student at the University of Illinois some 50+ years ago. Been doing it ever since.

BTW, I'm looking for someone that can transfer the tech to a paid Android app. Somebody 70ish would be way cool. Kernel level audio skills a must for global filter insertion.

lohankin 23 hours ago 2 replies      
57, employed. Latest hack: https://github.com/tatumizer/circuit-dart

Listening to good jazz helps to stay in shape(there's some scientific data that proves music activates something in the brain, not sure what exactly, but it seems to work :-).

As someone noted earlier in this thread, there's nothing new in programming for the last 30-40 years. You just need to learn 100 tricks, you learn them early, and then the age makes no difference. What changes is that you don't think of career any more, and think about money much less, which makes you a very bad candidate for bullshit work. You can imagine the consequences.

arh68 1 day ago 1 reply      
> From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.


davidw 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Not mentioned elsewhere: Richard Stallman is 61. I don't know how much actual hacking he does these days vs advocacy, but whether you agree with his politics or not, the dude is definitely a hacker.
brudgers 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ward Cunningham and Charles [Chuck] Moore come immediately to mind as hackers in their 60's and 70's respectively.
geofffox 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I am 63. I code sites. I build boxes. I touched my first computer terminal at the NY World's Fair in '64. Fortran on an IBM senior year in high school 67/68. That was my first and last computer class.

I was on the Internet before the WWW.

I am 63, but immature for my age.

robertlf 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm 57 but didn't start programming until I was 27 years old. My first summer quarter at Purdue they still had punch card readers and I remember sitting in the hall in the basement of the Math building waiting to have my deck read and then pick up the green striped output paper in the adjoining room. The following fall we had our first DEC VT 100 terminals.

I guess I would consider myself a hacker of sorts as I now work for myself doing mobile web development with Python, JavaScript, and Django. I have to work for myself because no one will hire someone my age.

rozzie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't spoken with him recently, but I believe that Dave's still the first one in the office every morning, writing stunningly tight code and driving innovation most recently in the Xbone hypervisor. The engineer's engineer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Cutler
danieltillett 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am not yet at this age, but the older I get the more I appreciate hacking. It really keeps me from falling into the 'things were better when I was young' hole that older people are prone to falling into. It is also really fun learning new things all the time.
Swannie 14 hours ago 0 replies      
John ffitch.

I was lucky enough to be taught by John. He believes he may have been one of the first people to make computer music - spending precious compute cycles at Cambridge with a speaker hooked up instead of an oscilloscope.

He's ~69, and last time we spoke a few years ago, he and some peers were still writing and selling their compiler product (http://www.codemist.co.uk/index.html), John was still active in the Csound community (C dialect for computer music), and dabbling with computer algebra.

Having known John outside of lectures (and meeting him at the age of ~58), I'd say he has a childlike fascination with the world - constant curiosity and a lot of enthusiasm. And also understanding that computer science is cyclical, that rediscovery is part of life, and he could add deep experience each time around.

einhverfr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't speak for myself I believe I have worked with some contributors to LedgerSMB who are retired.

In general, I think one has to be careful about making generalizations here regarding aptitude. LedgerSMB is hard to get into because with ERP/Accounting software the domain knowledge requirements are significantly higher than the fluid intelligence requirements and domain knowledge increases as we get older. In LedgerSMB I have generally found that older programmers contribute better code than younger programmers precisely for this reason. Some of the biggest bugs we have ever had (the ones that caused us to pull 1.2.0 and 1.2.1) were caused by overlooking a critical part of domain knowledge.

So I dont think things get particularly worse. The fields of excellence may change however.

SchizoDuckie 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great question. I'm in my 30's and I've wondered on more than one occasion what we'll all be programming in 30 years. DNA? Nanobots? What will the web look like? Will we be still hacking away in virtual reality when we're in elderly homes, drifting away with the occulus rift 8.0 lenses in?

If anything, I'm excited at getting older and being able to see where all this rapid evolution is taking us.

@People over 60 here: What is it like learning and keeping up with the flurry of new technologies at your age? Do you find it more difficult to grasp with age or does it get easier?

s1gs3gv 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I started as a software developer just around the time Intel released the 8080. I was in Bell Labs when Unix Version 7 was introduced. I was at IBM when they released AIX. I now working in scala and clojure and am active in a startup in the financial services and crypto-currency fields.

Do what you love, love what you do, throw in a generous helping of luck and you can have a stimulating, productive and enjoyable professional life well into your 70s if not later.

How does one's passion and aptitude for hacking evolve towards this part of one's life ?

Experience rulez.

blazespin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Upvoted this. Here is one of my personal heros: http://techland.time.com/2013/03/04/how-an-83-year-old-inven...
GnarfGnarf 16 hours ago 0 replies      
65, last year I learned DirectX and wrote a 3D app in C++.

This year I'm learning Python for fun.

Never gets old :o)

ludicast 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bob Martin (Uncle Bob) turned 60 a few years ago. He still programs and laments that programmers move into management as they age.
canatan01 1 day ago 2 replies      
Not me, but I hope to still be hacking away when I am 60 or older. Maybe it is actually good for the brain to keep at it, I don't know.
brickcap 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am bookmarking this thread for times when I am down/ worried about my future. So inspiring to hear from people who have been hacking for this long.

I don't think that ed wiessman(edw519) is 60 yet but his advice seems like coming from someone who has been in the business of programming for centuries.

inthefray 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It's much better to work with a motivated senior hacker than an entitled brat spewing delusions of their own grandeur.
camus2 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I really wish I can still code at 70!
ggreer 1 day ago 8 replies      
I'm happy for anyone who is productive past normal retirement age, but it's important to be aware of what happens to our minds as we get older. I think the examples in the comments are exceptions that prove the rule. The reason for the dearth of older hackers is the same reason there are few people running marathons at age 60 or 70: As we age, our bodies and minds degrade. Exercise, nutrition, and (probably) drugs can slow the decline, but we don't yet have the technology to turn back the clock.

The most depressing graph I've seen is figure 1[1] in Images of the Cognitive Brain Across Age and Culture[2]. It shows how our cognitive abilities decline soon after we reach maturity. Starting in our 20s, we lose about 6 IQ points per decade; more in our 70s and 80s. That means someone in the top 1% in high school (IQ 135) would be down to average intelligence by the time they were in their 80s.

On the bright side, the decline in raw cognitive horsepower is offset by gains in knowledge. In fact, knowledge more than offsets it in most disciplines. Our peak productivity is usually in our 40's and declines much more slowly than one would expect[3].

Still, if you want to keep building cool stuff when you're older, it's important to prepare now. The best thing you can do is stay healthy and active. To return to the marathon analogy: A 55 year-old might not set a world record, but with the right training, nutrition, and possibly performance-enhancing drugs, they can beat >95% of people half their age.

Finally, to everyone mentioned in this thread: Well done! I hope to follow your example.

1. https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_gxYAfFM1cj0/S6hXmZ4qtjI/A...

2. http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/36842.pdf

3. http://resources.emartin.net/blog/docs/AgeAchievement.pdf

graycat 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacking is easy and doesn't take a very sharp mind.

Computer science research is harder.

Math research is harder, still.

There are plenty of people well past 50and, from their research publications, stillquite productive. For them, hacking isbaby talk.

Richard Wagner? Late in his life he finishedhis four opera 'The Ring' and wrote 'Parsifal'.All that work remains crown jewels of all of musicand art.

People late in life are less likely to do hackingfor a variety of reasons, but that their mentalcapacity is not up to the challenge is notamong the reasons. What's so difficult aboutallocate-free, if-then-else, do-while, call-return,try-catch, etc.? Trivial.

clef 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What kind of hacking are we talking about?Black/white hat? (Is there another kind?)
Mailr: an open-source webmail client with Gmail-like conversations pusto.org
193 points by cocoflunchy  1 day ago   47 comments top 13
rjzzleep 23 hours ago 9 replies      
this is interesting, but in a way it's also really scary from my quick look at it it seems that is sql to store the emails. any reason to use that over mbox, or milder, which you can then easily index?

it also implements a small imap client(which may work fine for just reading gmail, but imap is a scary thing, everyone uses it a little differently)


that said i guess it's a nice example for writing a mail client in python.

you might want to use mailpile which had it's first release a while back:


but even for that, if you don't care about fancy guis, you're probably still better off running mutt, imap, mu on a shell you have somewhere

edit: i didn't pay enough attention, as was mentioned it's using imaplib, which is the same library offlineimap uses. i do believe though that a lot the work that happens is how people deal with the rfcs. i remember reading about frustrations of the offlineimap author with different servers, and clients. but basically imaplib itself is just a basic protocol implementation, everything else happens on top of it.

and while you can indeed easily store your terabytes of data in postgresql and you can easily setup full text search, it's still much more portable and easily to handle backup and syncing purposes in different formats. Archiveopteryx looks interesting though, so thanks for the hint. if i never write a service to handle mails for other people i'll revisit it.

owenversteeg 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I was enthusiastic about this being able to replace Roundcube/Gmail (what I currently use), but it's rather ugly (no offense to the author.)

If nobody else is going to, I may start work on some better styles for it. Also, I'm not really sure why there are two panels and profile pictures; neither gmail nor Roundcube nor Outlook do this. (Gmail and Outlook do put profile pictures to the side of the email itself when opened, however.)

e12e 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I welcome this new mailclient. Unfortunately it currently leans differently from what I prefer, but perhaps it is close enough that the source code will form a useful basis for what I prefer (no html (and a decent html>text renderer for the brain dead services that don't provide (useful) text parts), no rich editing, threaded -- not gmail style conversations).

At any rate it seems like a more viable (for me option) than eg hacking on prayer (because, I think it's just silly to try and work with something exposed to so much bad user input/data as email -- in C):


shittyanalogy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a project for people who like to read and write source code, not for people looking for a drop in g-mail replacement. All the feature requests and UI complaints make no sense here.
iuqiddis 22 hours ago 1 reply      
If anyone wants to use a desktop client with gmail-like conversation view, this add-on for Thunderbird does a great job: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/thunderbird/addon/gmail-con...
dfc 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Does gmail-like conversations mean "threaded email"?
CharlesMerriam2 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah, the rising tide of open source software. Whatever was done a decade ago will show up in open source. Companies need to invent new things to stay competitive.
naspeh 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Just wanted to mention. The source of this link is http://redd.it/22bvy4. I have posted link only to reddit and then it appears here. There are some my answers on questions which can be simular to this thread.

P.S. I'm an author of Mailr.

otikik 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I will wait for https://www.mailpile.is/ instead.
erikb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the killer feature of Gmail is the priority box view. It is your personal todo list, your second stage spam filter, etc. Would be great if that could be implemented in a mail client. I would instantly use it!
nor-and-or-not 17 hours ago 1 reply      
There's an existing webmail project which is already using the name Mailr (http://mailr.org/, https://github.com/lmanolov/mailr), although development seems to be on hold.
currysausage 15 hours ago 0 replies      
+1 for the possibility of merging conversations. I have wondered for so long why you can't do that with Gmail.
plumeria 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Great! Feature request: support for Markdown syntax!
American Chemical Society bans university after "spider-trap" is clicked cam.ac.uk
189 points by danso  3 days ago   86 comments top 24
freshyill 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's worth noting that many journals don't control the platform their scholarly content. It looks like ACS uses this [Atypon](http://www.atypon.com). That's the likely source of this spider trap, not ACS.

Atypon has [a relatively small client list](http://www.atypon.com/our-clients/featured-clients.php). Compare it to [Highwire](http://highwire.stanford.edu/lists/allsites.dtl). I'd be willing to bet that all journals hosted with Atypon share this spider trapeven journals that are supposed to be open access where spidering should be OK.

Scientific publishing is weird. Source: I work in scientific publishing.

s_q_b 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it bad that I'm just as insulted by the so-called "spider trap"? It's so technologically simple as to be useless against anyone who could deploy a web scraper in the first place.

I mean, it's marked by comment tags that say "spider trap" right on them! Its the worst type of disambiguation system: likely to generate false positives, unlikely to catch real violators.

Kliment 3 days ago 3 replies      
Note how this means that anyone who is tricked into clicking that link has just blacked-out their entire institution. This has massive potential for abuse.
danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reporting the content since site is down:

Tl;dr: researcher is browsing source code of a research paper's web page and finds a strange link (but same domain). She clicks and is informed that her IP is banned for automated spidering.

Apparently, this research site is meant to be open-access...


Pandora is a researcher (wont say where, wont say when). I dont know her field she may be a scientist or a librarian. She has been scanning the spreadsheet of the Open Access publications paid for by Wellcome Trust. Its got 2200 papers that Wellcome has paid 3 million GBP for. For the sole reason to make them available to everyone in the world. She found a paper in the journal Biochemistry (thats an American Chemical Society publication) and looked at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bi300674e . She got that OK looked to see if they could get the PDF - http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/bi300674e - yes that worked OK.

What else can we download? After all this is Open Access, isnt it? And Wellcome have paid 666 GBP for this hybrid version (i.e. they get subscription income as well. So we arent going to break any laws

The text contains various other links and our researcher follows some of them. Remember shes a scientist and scientists are curious. Its their job. She finds:<span id="hide"><a href="/doi/pdf/10.1046/9999-9999.99999"><!-- Spider trap link --></a></span>Since it's a bioscience paper she assumes it's about spiders and how to trap them.

She clicks it. Pandora opens the box...Wham!

The whole university got cut off immediately from the whole of ACS publications. "Thank you", ACS

The ACS is stopping people spidering their site. EVEN FOR OPEN ACCESS. It wasn't a biological spider. It was a web trap based on the assumption that readers are, in some way, basically evil..Now I have seen this message before. About 7 years ago one of my graduate students was browsing 20 publications from ACS to create a vocabulary. Suddenly we were cut off with this awful message. Dead. The whole of Cambridge University. I felt really awful.

I had committed a crime.And we hadn't done anything wrong. Nor has my correspondent.If you create Open Access publications you expect - even hope - that people will dig into them. So, ACS, remove your spider traps. We really are in Orwellian territory where the point of Publishers is to stop people reading science.

I think we are close to the tipping point where publishers have no value except to their shareholders and a sick, broken, vision of what academia is about.

UPDATE:See comment from Ross Mounce:The society (closed access) journal Copeia also has these spider trap links in its HTML, e.g. on this contents page:http://www.asihcopeiaonline.org/toc/cope/2013/4

you can find

<span id="hide"><a href="/doi/pdf/10.1046/9999-9999.99999"><!-- Spider trap link --></a></span>

I may have accidentally cut-off access for all at the Natural History Museum, London once when I innocently tried this link, out of curiosity. Why do publishers booby-trap their websites? Dont they know us researchers are an inquisitive bunch? Id be very interested to read a PDF that has a 9999-9999.9999 DOI string if only to see what it contained they cant rationally justify cutting-off access to everyone, just because ONE person clicked an interesting link?PMR: Note - it's the SAME link as the ACS uses. So I surmise that both society's outsource their web pages to some third-party hackshop. Maybe 10.1046 is a universal anti-publisher.

PMR: It's incredibly irresponsible to leave spider traps in HTML. It's a human reaction to explore.

PaulHoule 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, we used to do this when I was working at arXiv.org. We had incessant problems with robots that didn't obey robots.txt so we needed spider traps to keep the site from going down.
gmisra 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like an easy way for a university-based "conscientious objector" to have this issue addressed would be to intentionally click on the spider trap link once a day?
dalke 3 days ago 1 reply      
arXiv.org, back when it was still xxx.lanl.gov had a similar trap. Yes, I clicked on it. It gave a warning of the sort "don't this again, here's what's happening, if we see many more requests from your site then we'll shut off access."

This was in the late 1990s.

DangerousPie 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is an important topic, but that blog entry was not very well written. If I hadn't heard about this before already I would have been very confused what they actually wanted to say with this convoluted story.
specialp 3 days ago 1 reply      
I work for a (non profit) journal publisher and we do indeed cut off robot downloading but not after one click of a link. We analyze traffic to determine robot downloads. I suspect though that the whole entire university did not get cut off in this incident. Usually it is on a per IP basis and unless the University proxies all of their journal traffic through a single IP which is not common I think saying the whole university being blocked may be an exaggeration. I personally wish we had no robot monitor but then again we would get heavy spidering then of large files.
SixSigma 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's some level of incompetence - the trappers I mean. A half arsed solution because they couldn't think of a better one. A registration system with abstracts and unlock-this-article links would be a better one, off the top of my head.
k2enemy 3 days ago 2 replies      
The warning message returned by the spider-trap says that it banned a particular IP address. How does this cut off the entire university? Is everyone behind a NAT?
raverbashing 3 days ago 2 replies      
Doesn't Chrome pre-load links as well?

Not sure it checks for styling before prefetching them.

a3n 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see what conversations might happen if lots of people from lots of universities clicked on these traps.
owenversteeg 3 days ago 2 replies      
For anyone that can't load the page, here's the site from Google's cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:_EBW_po...
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 3 replies      
Sigh, did no one notice that the link is in a <span id="hide"> ? Look at the style sheet and note that class 'hide' sets the link to be the same color as the background (it makes it invisible to humans) and yet it got clicked on anyway.

There are bad actors out there, they exploit services, and one of the ways the services detect them is to create situations that a script would follow but that a human would not. When they do something bad you've got a couple of choices, cut them off or lie to them (some of the Bing markov generated search pages for robots are pretty fun))

So she sends an email to the address provided, they talk to her, she gets educated and they re-enable access. If it happens again the issue gets escalated. Its the circle of fraud.

patcon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some asshole just discovered a whole new reason to wardrive...
gcb0 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. get university with good ties to ACLU and other such movements.

2. subscribe

3. click link

4. sue them for breach of contract and damages. (they didn't deliver the content you paid for, it damaged your main source of income: providing knowledge to paying students)

5. repeat.

userbinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
I sometimes get a similar message from Google (maybe it's due to the search queries I use...), but they provide a CAPTCHA so you can (reasonably) show that you're a human.
fit2rule 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is only interesting for as long as ACS is asleep at the wheel.

Lets wait and find out how long it takes them to respond to the inevitable interest that 999999.99999 people will have sent their way ..

joshdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tack spider traps and booby trapped documents to the long list of scientific publishing problems.
keithgabryelski 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's odd that at the top of the article the author claims Pandora might be a scientist or a librarian (but they won't reveal such things)Then later claims they looked at the hidden link because they were curious (because scientists are curious).Maybe someone should have re-read their text for consistency.
notastartup 3 days ago 1 reply      
Trying to stop spidering or web scraping or making it criminal is asinine. Do not publish it online. Even if you put content up as Flash or Java applet, someone will find a way to crawl/scrape it.

This goes against the nature of the internet and information, it is bound to be free.

obastemur 3 days ago 1 reply      
last 5 mins I'm trying to reach this link. the website is not reachable any more. How many people are trying to do the same ?
nathanvanfleet 3 days ago 0 replies      
I work at a university and just clicked on it.
Michael Lewis: shilling for the buyside? scottlocklin.wordpress.com
184 points by nbouscal  3 days ago   205 comments top 21
drcode 2 days ago 5 replies      
Yeah, Michael Lewis' recent interviews do seem a bit suspect. He is yelling "Hey joe sixpack, Wall Street is eating your lunch!" and then when you hear the details of the supposed "fraud" it all revolves around companies like Goldman Sachs (who work with Katsuyama) whining that they're not getting a fair shake in the world. (Oh right, Goldman Sachs is managing Joe Sixpack's pension fund via two levels of indirection- Oh noes, poor Goldman Sachs!)

Plus, the interviews he's given on 60 minutes and Fresh Air never once mention the terms "market order" or "limit order". If you don't explain those two basic terms at the heart of the HFT controversy, you're not giving people information, you're only giving them disinformation.

That said, there's obviously lots of shady ass shit happening on Wall Street every day, but Michael Lewis is not helping the situation one iota, from the looks of it.

elecengin 2 days ago 10 replies      
I think "shilling for the buyside" is a bit strong. Lewis aggressively pursued a compelling and simple narrative in a market that doesnt have an easy story. I get the impression he didnt even recognize that the field he decided to plow was a minefield. The HFT debate is complicated and has serious implications: his treatment didn't respect it.

From acquaintances that knew Katsuyama personally, he was described as a genius marketer, not a technologist. Before even Lewis came along, he had crafted a large part of this narrative: the Thor matching technology succeeded on a compelling story. Lewis got sucked in.

The personal reactions you may have seen (William O'Brian on CNBC) are authentic: HFT participants (and those who deal with them) have been villified in an industry already viewed in a negative light. There are some bad apples, but there are also many who genuinely believe that they are doing a service for the market.

I don't blame Lewis for this. I just hope that there is an author that can create a compelling story that doesnt fall for the tired trope of the evil HFT trader. The story exists - it is just very technical and nuanced at times. Unfortunately, many HFT participants have been shamed away from standing for what they believe in so there are very few left to tell the story.

If you want to read a rebuttal and learn more about the markets at the same time, check out this analysis by Larry Tabb - a market research consultant prominent in the US execution technology market:http://www.scribd.com/doc/215693938/No-Michael-Lewis

RockyMcNuts 2 days ago 3 replies      
The market exists the benefit for the 'buyside' e.g. people who own stock, not for the benefit of the middlemen like exchanges and HFT marketmakers.

You may not like homeowners and think some of them are or should be convicted, but it's ridiculous to say someone is 'shilling for homeowners' when they point out that real estate brokers are overpaid and skimming.

Some more balanced discussion - http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=8333



In a nutshell, people who run big portfolios don't want to give away information about what they're doing, and they don't want HFT types to be able to pay exchanges to get first crack at front-running them.

On the other hand there is a legitimate market-making function, and there's a tradeoff between transparent markets and forcing people to share info that lets other people trade against them.

matthewmcg 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am still reading the book, but it seems like Lewis' main criticism in the book (vs. interviews) is against the so-called HFT front-running of orders that get routed to multiple exchanges. He is careful to distinguish market-making/liquidity providing functions from the multi-market latency arbitrage and spends a good part of Chapter 4 exploring this distinction.

Perhaps his public statements in interviews haven't been so nuanced.

Also, these rebuttals to the book don't really address the front-running issue. Is it simply an unavoidable consequence of the physical reality of separate markets? Should anything be done about it? Is it even still occurring or has competition among HFTs and savvier buy-side order routing eliminated it? I would like to read a rebuttal that discusses this.

forgotAgain 2 days ago 3 replies      
This article seems like nothing more than an overly long ad hominem attack.

The only critique that matters is whether or not front running of buy orders by HFT traders is real or bull. Anything more is just an attempt to cloud the waters.

lmg643 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was a great article. I started reading the book. Early on, one of the examples given was "Brad talked to a friend of his at SAC Capital" about how HFT firms were taking advantage of information in the markets.

That is the kind of unintentionally ridiculous anecdote which undermines the moral center of this book. SAC Capital, after all, is the same fund which ran into one of the largest insider trading cases in history, which is also about taking advantage of information in a, let's say, special kind of way.

I know a lot about this subject, probably too much to let the judgment fall cleanly in one camp or another on HFT, but with all the hubub right now, I find it might be useful to get biblical for a second - let the person who is without sin cast the first stone.

tpeng 2 days ago 1 reply      
People ITT are not making a distinction between different types of HFT. Katsuyama and Lewis do not criticize all forms of computerized trading, but specifically computerized scalping that is aided and abetted by exchanges. Their chief complaint is that HFT uses more current prices than the exchanges themselves and they use this to scalp other traders.


This is actually very simple. Natural buyers and sellers do not need intermediaries, but intermediaries do need the natural traders. So if the natural traders can coordinate, they should be able to set rules that favor themselves and disfavor intermediaries. I won't say that what HFT does is "unfair" (capitalism does not contemplate fairness), but I think it's highly ironic that HFT and their supporters are complaining how "unfair" it is that natural traders are working together, and yes, marketing their new exchange.

nbouscal 2 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting study on the topic concluded that HFT helps retail investors and hurts institutional investors: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/pub/faculty/milne/322/IIROC_FeeCh...
aasarava 2 days ago 8 replies      
Can someone explain how HFT would "provide liquidity", which seems to always be the pro-HFT response? To use an analogy, if I want to buy a house and someone is selling a house, how does a third-party buying the house first and selling it to me a slightly higher price provide liquidity?
stygiansonic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like this book is causing quite the ruckus with certain brokerages:http://pressroom.aboutschwab.com/press-release/corporate-and...

Yet they are more than happy to sell their order flow to market makers who use HFT. (To allow them to trade against it before going to the exchange - as is customary - nothing wrong with that)http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/legal_compliance/impo...

Seems like they are jumping on the populist bandwagon by claiming "HFT bad!" but I think what they mean is "HFT bad - unless it's from one of the firms we sold our order flow to!"

scottlocklin 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you think I'm a dork, or too much of a Michael Lewis hater, I encourage people to read this Amazon review, which gets into a lot of interesting small details Lewis got wrong:


JackFr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose one could add this book to

The Blind Side -- the story of how one of Michael Lewis's classmates as an Ole Miss booster, gave impermissible benefits to a high school recruit and got away with it.

Moneyball -- the story of a GM with 0 World Series appearances and a .530 WP.

skywhopper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Always good to start out an article critiquing the argument in a new book by showing a picture of the author and making a snide remark about his appearance. Immediately gives you credibility.
blue11 2 days ago 1 reply      
You don't have to agree with Michael Lewis' views or buy into the story line 100% in order to enjoy the book. The fact is that this is a well-written book that is full of mini-stories and anecdotes that present very realistic descriptions of how electronic markets and Wall Street in general work. Statements like "the market is rigged" are obviously over the top but that doesn't mean that the book on average is not true to reality. Most books about electronic trading suffer from extreme sensationalism, poor writing, and the inability of the authors to understand the subject matter that they are writing about. Michael Lewis does a better job than everyone else. He is a great writer and he is a smart guy who has some financial background and has a pretty good understanding of financial markets. Yes, there is some sensationalism here (he has to sell a good story after all) and there are many errors in the book, and, yes, the author's biases are quite evident, he's picked a side and he's sticking to his story. On aggregate, though, this is probably the best book about the world of electronic trading that I've read.

(Some people mentioned "Dark Pools" by Scott Patterson. Although also interesting, that books was often quite painful to read because it was quite clear that the author did not understand basic financial and programming concepts. "Flash Boys" is much better, in my opinion. Although if you are really interested in the subject, you should read both.)

anonu 2 days ago 0 replies      
My concern is that Michael Lewis and his books have great popular appeal. Furthermore, he is jumping on the popular bandwagon of bashing HFT. They lay person will look at these facts and simply conclude that he's right. The problem can easily extend to other buy-siders who dont really full understand (or care to understand) how market microstructure works in the US.
joosters 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many people commenting here have actually read the book? Or have they just been reading articles about it?
stevewilhelm 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an aside; I have been thinking it would be useful to have two new levels of capital gains taxes.

In addition to long term capital gains, and short term capital gains, there would be "intra-day" capital gains and "sub-second" capital gains.

I was thinking the intra-day gains Federal tax rate would be 50% and sub-second capital gains Federal rate would be 90%, but these values are arbitrary.

For both new types of capital gains, LIFO trade accounting would be used.

001sky 2 days ago 0 replies      
If your ISP packet sniffed your network and traded against your positions in advance of them coming to market would you have a problem with it? How about if they put up an MITM to get your credntials and then installed a key-logger to make it more effective and faster? One could argue that once you hit "sell" or "buy" your electrons are public information. But others might consider them NPI. I don't think that the issue is completely cut and dry, at least no just yet.
lotsofmangos 2 days ago 1 reply      
I stopped reading at 'potato-wog'.
cwisecarver 2 days ago 2 replies      
It seems this guy isn't the intended audience for the book. I, for instance, know that Netflix performance is bad on certain ISPs because of throttling and peering agreements but if someone wrote a narrative about this I wouldn't berate them for telling the public at large about it in words they would understand.
whyme 2 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't read the book, but I've followed the chatter and have been listening to Lewis on Bloomberg. I get the impression that many justify HFT by comparing current or past alternatives, however his argument is that HFT is corrupting an otherwise fairer market place. In other words the market should improve and lessen these side businesses that victimize participants and add to the discredit of the exchanges.

If anyone thinks that these side business do not victimize participants you should look back to examples like Knight Capitals glitch that most certainly caused retail investors to lose trust and pull their money from the market, taking a loss. The introduction of non-relevant code is an unnecessary risk that does corrupt the system and does victimize your average investor.

1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfina...

The right way to ask users for iOS permissions techcrunch.com
182 points by pwrfid  2 days ago   58 comments top 19
notdonspaulding 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is the only way that permissions should be implemented by any mobile platform. Without it, users are forced to decide at install time whether the payoff of having the app installed is worth the associated risk of granting ALL permissions the app requests. It's a hard choice to make before you've even installed the app.

Jeff Atwood describes the app-installation-headaches nicely here: http://blog.codinghorror.com/app-pocalypse-now/

Gracana 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is fantastic and I wish everything did this. As an android user, I'm often at a loss as to why an app needs a certain permission, and there's simply no easy way to figure out the answer. An initial dialog that explains the feature before it is used/enabled seems like the perfect solution.
habosa 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, more developers should think this way. When I worked on Google+ Developer Relations this summer there was no way to do incremental permissions, but it has since been added and makes Sign-In With Google way less scary for a lot of use cases.

Android needs this desperately. One of my apps has ~15% of users never updating because I added an additional permission and when you do that you can't auto-update. I wish I could just ask for it at runtime, since it's a Camera permission and I added picture-taking to my app. I'm sure 100% of users would say yes at that time.

theelfismike 2 days ago 1 reply      
Makes me wish Android could request some permissions at runtime.

It's painful to have a bunch of permissions in the manifest that aren't used by 100% of users, but 100% of them have to allow them if they want to install the app.

ajanuary 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really interesting to see the iterations from obviously awful through acceptable all the way to obvious in retrospect but takes a non-obvious amount of thought and design.
click170 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find I'm often surprised by the permissions an app is requesting, which turns me away from the app.

I'm an Android user, but I prefer the unix philosophy, I just want an app to do one thing and to do it well. It's hard to find apps that do that I find.

Examples that have turned me away from apps before: a filesystem viewer doesn't really need the ability to control my wifi. An ebook reader doesn't really need access to my contact list.

heywire 2 days ago 2 replies      
Part of me worries that an app could use this in a bad way as well. If an app asks a user for a permission, and the user says no, the current expectation is that they won't be asked again. However, with this pattern, the app could bother the user until they finally gave up and granted permissions. Of course, this could also backfire and cause the user to uninstall the app.
dclowd9901 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of my apps accesses a persons' contacts. The approach I took to this was to notify the user ahead of time that I would be asking for permission to use the app, and that we would never use the contacts for anything but in app convenience. It feels great and is very informative. Only thing is the code is a bit wiry, but I'm working on that.
ecesena 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested if anybody also analyzed the permissions for social accounts (Facebook, Twitter).

Our experience at Theneeds is kind of strange in this regard. We have the "classical" initial join page with social buttons, and we ask for permissions when the user tap one of them. Surprisingly, we realized that many users click on Facebook icon, but next they "Don't allow" permissions. This forced us to implement a web fallback to still be able to authenticate the users (without forcing them to go to the iphone settings).

matznerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty good article, and I've definitely noticed that it works better when you ask people at the time of usage vs on first open.
nirkalimi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very intuitive. People just need a context for permissions to make sense. I feel like this is similar to anything online. Don't ask for something right away until someone understands what the benefit of doing so entails. These rules hold true in sales, pitching, etc.
spike021 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a better workaround for the time being. I know from personal experience that I tend to either: a) somewhat trust the app I'm using, so I just blindly accept to get it out of the way, or b) don't trust the app at all since it's completely new to me, so I tap to deny immediately.

If you can make your users feel more comfortable about the legitimacy of your app and help them to feel more at ease with giving away those permissions, then you're doing a good job.

lukejduncan 2 days ago 1 reply      
The answer at install is always no:

"SuperApp would like to send you push-notifications"

sizzle 2 days ago 0 replies      
for anyone who wants apps to request permissions or the ability to deny permissions I highly recommend rooting your phone then installing XPrivacy; https://github.com/M66B/XPrivacy
username223 2 days ago 0 replies      
A modal "do-what-I-want/pester-you-later" dialog is not the right way. The right way for Vegetable Knight or what-not to ask for permissions is to give the option to say "no, and don't ever ask again," and enforce that at the system level.
bmull 2 days ago 0 replies      
lauraglu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Super helpful. Thanks for writing.
suyash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Most annoying persmission is Geo-Location for apps that don't really need it.
fjcaetano 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic post. This is a major problem with Android, when oftenly users are asked to grant permissions that apparently have nothing to do with the app.
Contributing to the F# Language, Library and Tools codeplex.com
180 points by mands  3 days ago   63 comments top 7
skywhopper 3 days ago 2 replies      
It sure feels like there's a strong force within the MS dev tools team to be far more open, and the only thing holding them back was the CEO. I sincerely hope Microsoft continues to open more and more products and truly integrate the open source philosophy into their culture.
untothebreach 3 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone give reasons why you would want to use this over, say, OCaml, when on a non-MS platform? My understanding is that the Mono runtime on *nix is significantly less {mature,performant,stable} that the Windows .Net runtime.

Are there any benefits besides the obvious 'write-once, run-anywhere' one?

EDIT: I just want to be clear that I don't have any negative opinion of F#, I am genuinely curious why someone would want to use this on a platform that is not Windows.

rjzzleep 3 days ago 3 replies      
can someone explain this to me? i thought f# was open source for years? isn't that how most people compile it on their machines?

is it just that people don't know that half the things that were open sourced have already been open sourced(like the asp.net stuff) or do we just copy and paste microsoft press releases here?

OR am i missing something crucial that someone can elaborate on please?


EDIT2: thanks to the responses, it's about accepting contributions

EDIT: for those that don't know the asp.net developments had a lot of influence from the alt.net movements. it was ms' attempt to keep the c# web developers from moving to other frameworks that let you do similar things much easier.

Flenser 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now that they're dogfooding codeplex for such high profile projects I hope we'll see some improvements to it.


I suppose if I'm complaining I ought to make some constructive suggestions:

   * central page listing my subscribed/voted issues/discussions.   * The only history link on a projects homepage is for the wiki.     It should have a prominent link to the latest changeset     with a date or age.   * Project wide search: issues, code, wiki, discussions   * In fact, remove discussions completely, everything should be an issue.

rch 2 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't looked closely -- my assumption is that despite this string of announcements we are not really any closer to simply running pkg_add or apt-get to install a real MS development environment (i.e. not Mono). I could be wrong though, of course.
mands 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty great news to complement the open-sourcing of Roslyn I think - was hoping to hear something about F# at Build.
cjbarber 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone on HN works in F#.. then you should definitely check out Tachyus.com

A few of the top contributing F# devs are there, it's an amazing company. Investors include Joe Lonsdale (founder of Palantir).

They are helping oil companies optimize oil and gas production - not your average startup problem.

Primer: Shaders underscorediscovery.com
173 points by hughsk  2 days ago   35 comments top 9
sillysaurus3 2 days ago 5 replies      
Part of the confusion is the confusing terminology. "Shader" is a bad name. How do you "shade" a vertex? That implies color, when in fact vertex "shading" is really about deforming the position of vertices. It has nothing to do with color!

"Vertex program" is a better term.

That brings us to "pixel shader." That's actually a good name in order for beginners to learn the concept, but it's imprecise. OpenGL insists on calling it a "fragment program" because with certain forms of antialiasing, there are multiple "fragments" per pixel. "Program" is also a better name than "shader" because there are things you can do per-pixel other than change the color. For example you could change the depth written to the Z-buffer, or you could cause the pixel to be skipped based on some criteria, like whether the texture color is pink.

Anyway, it's just a tiny program that executes either per-vertex or per-pixel. For example you could write a vertex program which moves each vertex in a sinewave pattern based on time. Or you could write a fragment program to change the color of each pixel from red to green and back based on time.

Then there are more advanced/recent concepts like a "geometry program," which lets you generate triangles based on vertices or edges.

Sometimes I wonder if it's overly complicated, or if the problem domain is just complicated. It took me years as a kid to finally grok this, but once I learned it, it turned out to be very simple. Honestly it wasn't until I got up enough courage to sit down with the OpenGL specs and read through them that everything clicked. They're dry reading but not difficult.

ceautery 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, thanks a lot. Great animations.

"Shader" was a term I was confused about at first when I was learning WebGL. In fact, in the WebGL world, it seems like one is expected to come from an OpenGL background and be familiar with whatever popular 3rd party libraries are en vogue. I never found a thorough guide that didn't presume one of those two things, so I built one:


(Sorry, also jumping on the self-promotion bandwagon.)

neals 2 days ago 0 replies      
To me, the thing with shaders always is: I need them at some stage in a project. I have used them before, but too long ago to remember, so I need to look up most it. I work with it a for a few weeks. That part of the project is done and I move on.

A year later, a new project comes along. It requires shaders. I don't remember how to use then and have to look it up again...


fotcorn 2 days ago 2 replies      
What shader languages are used in cross-platform games? PS3 uses Cg, PS4 PSSL, Xbox & Windows use HLSL and OpenGL on Mac/Linux/Smartphones/Tablets use GLSL. Are there converters from one to the other language? How do big engines like Unreal oder CryEngine handle this?
Jemaclus 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who is not well-versed in graphics or graphics programming, this was a very well-explained primer. I very thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned something in the process!
fescue 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guide has helped me unbend my mind about shaders: http://pixelshaders.com/
svantana 1 day ago 1 reply      
While I appreciate the effort, I think this primer is lacking what most other shader tutorials also lack: any information on how to actually do something useful. Shaders are used because they are faster than the cpu. So why isn't everything done with shaders? Because of limitations. So what are those? Most GPU tutorials only include examples of the form

FragColor = <some algebraic expression containing x & y>

That's nice, but hardly useful. To do anything of worth, I would need data from the CPU. How do I do that? What are the most common bottlenecks? What are some ways around the limitation of working with one fragment at a time? Those are the sort of questions I would like to see answered in a primer. A sort of "GPU introduction for competent CPU devs" - any recommendations?

mattdesl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice intro. Shaders definitely seem a lot more elusive than they really are.

Also gonna jump on the bandwagon with my own tutorials, using Java/LibGDX and mostly focusing on 2D applications.


Cryptocurrencies will create a fifth protocol layer startupboy.com
172 points by tikhon  15 hours ago   44 comments top 11
a3_nm 6 hours ago 5 replies      
This reminds me of a very tangible shortcoming in the OSI model that <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Host_Identity_Protocol> is trying to address and which is, in my opinion, far more important that exchanging value.

It is the fact that we always talk of machine addresses, and never of machine identities (except through DNS, but DNS is also about giving human-readable identifiers, so it cannot be decentralized <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zooko%27s_triangle>).

However, now that everyone is using public-key crypto, we should understand that a machine can be referenced by a public key, and that it can prove ownership of it to anyone who asks. (This can also be used to encrypt traffic, but this is not what I am thinking of.)

Hence, why do we connect to IP addresses, rather than connecting to public key hashes? Granted, public key hashes are not routable, but there could be a service to provide the mapping from hashes to addresses -- not DNS, because it doesn't have to give human-readable names (so doesn't have to be centralized), and because there is little penalty for receiving a wrong answer (as long as you always check the identity of who you are talking to.

I think that, had asymetric crypto been in widespread use before the OSI model came about, this would have been the natural way to do things. Now the problem is unsatisfactorily solved both in DNS (which is not the right solution, as I already explained), and in an ad-hoc way with TLS, in SSH, etc.; but this is still too high in the hierarchy, machines should be addressed with public key fingerprints unless we are concerned about actual routing.

dmix 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting read. I'm all for decentralized systems but one important consideration which will likely be different for each scenario: is whether distributed consensus in x (ie. traffic lights, water, power) is more valuable to the participants than a statistical machine-learning based approach. The latter is optimized towards some predefined metrics (minimizing total average wait times in traffic), whereas a cryptocurrency approach is distributed to the whims/needs of independent actors ("I want to cross the street now").

The benefits of distributed independent actors is clear in some areas such as economics, where the system is so massive and chaotic attempts to control it via machine or human intervention often fail. Even when they continually adapt their models over time, they will never be a full replacement for the consensus of a market.

While markets are efficient they famously at times have a habit of acting irrational and counter-productive to participants needs. This is where in the present times human intervention (occasionally) out-performs pure markets. In the future, most of us expect machine-optimized models to out-perform both markets and centralized systems.

That may be the differentiation in the long term for which is better, which can provide the best value? Human consensus -> human consensus via machines -> machine consensus. We'll likely keep moving farther to the right of that flow as machine learning (AI) becomes better.

brudgers 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Economically, adding such a layer creates perverse incentives. My router becomes profitable when I make its bandwidth scarce. The same incentive applies to everyone else with a router.

My ISP's gateway agreements become structured around a new definition of efficiency. Extract the maximum possible toll for each bit.

This new definition means, the more spam received The more my email host can raise the tariff. It can hold my incoming mail hostage.

The logic which underpins the idea is the finite pie. It ignores the possibility that network effects offset the cost of infrastructure even though that's what has driven the internet and mobile cell networks to vast scale over the past twenty years.

But it's still a great thought provoking article

lingben 12 hours ago 0 replies      
From the comments section the author writes:

"You are correct in that its technically another set of application layer protocols I was just being provocative with the title..."

sigh... so it is not a "fifth column"

yes, the bitcoin protocol did provide some interesting things but is not nearly approaching the level of hype and spilled pixels lauding it

adamgravitis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a very good summary of a future, but I don't think any sort of coin system will be particularly effective at mitigating either the spam nor DDoS problem for the wide variety of cases: if a botnet captures a computer, I expect it would equally capture whatever coin-wallet is being used for default mail transfer and network access.
rubyfan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Certainly not a new idea, this approach was discussed in the early 2000s but instead using pennies. I've always been a skeptic of this approach as anything that has value will inevitably be traded for money making it entirely possible for organized actors to create inequity in the system to their own ends.
rakoo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Note that this already exists in the form of Bitcloud [0].

I'm skeptical about putting it in every conversation. If every peer has to pay to work on the internet, it will make bigger peers more important (because they have more resources) and it will force everyone to mine (instead of having only a minority of people mining today)

[0] http://bitcloudproject.org/

spb 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need proof-of-work for value to not reject an interaction as automated / meaningless, just use a Hashcash header, which is where Bitcoin got started anyway.
higherpurpose 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Ethereum is planning to build a whole turing complete platform for new coins and other kind of P2P apps and services.


hosh 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, Brian Roemelle had talked about this on a podcast several months back.
Tesla Model S Ethernet Network Explored dragtimes.com
168 points by tty  2 days ago   107 comments top 13
AceJohnny2 2 days ago 10 replies      
I am very amused that people in this thread assume that this ethernet port allows tinkering with the automotive systems.

Automotive systems communicate over a CAN [1] bus, not ethernet. In fact, this bus is usually physically separated between drive-critical bus (which controls things like ABS) and "comfort" bus (such as electric window controls, central door locks, wheel-mounted audio controls). Ethernet has none of the industrial strength qualities that make CAN a valid automotive control bus, such as signal hardening and real-time guarantees.

As far as these users have found, this ethernet port is connected to the infotainment system: the 17" display.

I would be deeply disappointed in Tesla if the infotainment system can modify drive-control devices with anything less than signed binaries and commands. As an aside, I wonder what the legal requirements of such safeties are.

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

mitchellh 2 days ago 4 replies      
The cool things: Tesla is running Linux (!) and standard technologies/protocols such as SSH, NFS, X11, HTTP, etc. to do things in the car. That is cool, and probably highly efficient since developer test labs can probably just be basic Ubuntu-like virtual machines.

The sketchy things: Jailbreaking a car seems pretty dangerous, especially since as far as I'm aware, the electronic systems control things including the brake. I know this only because Tesla recently released a software update that added "hill assist" which will hold the brake in place for 1 second when at a certain incline to avoid rolling back. Imagine a malicious software update that disabled the brake! Personally, I would jailbreak a phone, but not a car. :) HOPEFULLY the system the ethernet port provides access to is firewalled out of being able to update any software (i.e. the software update mechanism is some other device), but who knows.

The phone home can also be considered sketchy, but any Tesla owner is well aware the car pings home and relays diagnostic data to Tesla. At the very least, Tesla owners know it must ping home to check for updates periodically.

If anything, I thought it was kind of cool that Tesla engineers detected it and reached out so quickly. Imagine if you weren't tampering with your car and it WAS a high-tech attacker. It is good to know that they can detect the basics.

jwise0 2 days ago 0 replies      
The original thread that this came from:


Interesting in particular is one poster's claim that Tesla gave him a seemingly-dismayed call...


driverdan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Tesla USA engineers have seen a tentative of hacking on my car., can be related to industrial espionage and advised me to stop investigation, to not void the warranty.

So long as you don't cause any damage they can't void your warranty in the US thanks to the MagnusonMoss Warranty Act.

mschuster91 2 days ago 2 replies      
A quick google for the source code only revealed http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/archive/index.php/t-10748.htm... - apparently Tesla has never released the source code of the "modified Ubuntu" they're using.


Also, looks like Tesla has got international deals with mobile carriers for data flatrates. I'm looking forward to see the first guy stream youtube or youp*rn on the dashboard :D

scotty79 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, inspecting a product you own is industrial espionage now?
dm2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can Tesla detect if settings or the files for one of their cars are modified?

I would like an option to contact home base to verify that all files and configurations in my car are exactly like their suppose to be, else either disable the car or download the correct software.

Maybe a way to enable a developer mode which can only be used on a non-public road.

I just can't imagine modifying an electric vehicles computers and settings for anything useful. Please offer some suggestions if you can.

rrouse 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that it phoned home
Theodores 2 days ago 1 reply      
Onto more important matters, does anyone know the track being played?

The title is 'All the things she said', which originally was a #1 Top 40 song by the Russian pop group 'Tatu'. However the picture is definitely not the Russian duo. Is this a German cover version of some sort?

csense 1 day ago 0 replies      
How can the car communicate with the Internet? Does it have a cell modem or something? Is a lifetime subscription included in the purchase price of the vehicle, or does the user get a monthly bill?

Wouldn't a real industrial espionage operation disconnect or Faraday cage the vehicle's remote communications capability as their very first step? If you were trying to reverse engineer Tesla's secrets, would you really care about voiding the warranty?

zw123456 1 day ago 0 replies      
Someone should post some wireshark pcaps.
afhsfsfdsss88 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a hacker...Cool!

As a driver who will have to occupy space around people playing with this while driving...F#&*!

Alan Kay's Reading List c2.com
167 points by lazydon  21 hours ago   47 comments top 17
arethuza 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Even more than Cosmos I regard The Ascent of Man as the documentary series that had the biggest impact on me - I was probably only 8 when it was shown on the BBC, but I can still remember watching it, particularly this:


NB The Le Szilrd he mentions was the Hungarian physicist who had the original idea for an atomic bomb while crossing a road in London in 1933, as Richard Rhodes described it:

"The stoplight changed to green. Szilrd stepped off the curb. As he crossed the street time cracked open before him and he saw a way to the future, death into the world and all our woes, the shape of things to come."


bennesvig 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's Alan Kay talking about The Inner Game of Tennis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50L44hEtVos
pfraze 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Three talks by Alan Kay that I highly recommend, particularly the first two: http://pfraze.github.io/2014/03/31/the-mandatory-alan-kay.ht...
brianstorms 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Years ago I interviewed Alan at his home in LA. First thing that struck me about his house was the BOOKS, books everywhere, bookshelves everywhere, shelves in every room, every hallway, stacked everywhere, just nonstop books. Of course, as we were walking through the house before we even sat down, I asked about the books. He proudly told me he read a new book every day. On every subject under the sun.

I knew it was gonna be a great interview... it was.

psykotic 4 hours ago 0 replies      
On several occasions, Kay has mentioned Molecular Biology of the Cell as an outstanding example of how modern technology can be used to create textbooks in the aid of comprehension rather than spectacle. An example of vulgar abuse by Kay's standards would be any of the massive, technicolored tomes with names like Calculus or College Physics.
gyepi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I read The Inner Game of Tennis based on Alan Kay's description in a youtube video. It is an excellent book.

I am glad to see Csikszenmihalyi on the list as well. Flow is a very powerful concept; we all know it, but understanding it and using it effectively is a different matter entirely.

After reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, I realized that all three books are actually talking about the same subject from different perspectives.

To this list, I would add:

anything by Robert Grudin, but especially:

Time and the Art of Living and The Grace of Great Things

How to solve it by G. Polya

Conceptual Blockbusting by James Adams

Nice to see the Mortimer Adler recommendation as well, but I think his How to Read a Book should be a prerequisite for serious reading.

As I've gotten older, I've come to the conclusion that true understanding requires the kind of depth that comes from knowing one's self intimately. It's a lot harder than it sounds, especially for a technologist.

interstitial 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I've read most of them, close to 90% -- and I still suck at life. Your mileage will vary.
applecore 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Should we add Human Universals to this list?
laxatives 12 hours ago 3 replies      
How does one even go about reading 5000 books? I know it only says his library is 5000 books, but what's the point in amassing a library if you haven't read it? That would be nearly two books a week for 50 years. Imagine if even 5% of those were text books.
solomatov 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that there's no single book on math or algorithms there.
steveeq1 16 hours ago 0 replies      
He should have listed Sussman's and Abelson's classic "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" in the "Computers" section: http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book.html
enen 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I just read his Wikipedia page and his early life. What's the point in even trying at life...
gabriel 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Did you all see at the bottom: "COMPUTERS (most of the good stuff is still in papers, here are a few books)"

Most of the good stuff is still in paper!

avodonosov 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't even complete this list, how can he read all these books...
dalek2point3 15 hours ago 3 replies      
who does this website belong to? c2.com? really cool domain name, mustve been an early adopter?
doomrobo 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Surprised GEB isn't in there
The Other Side of Depression annewheaton.com
166 points by ColinWright  3 days ago   89 comments top 13
tokenadult 3 days ago 4 replies      
I had better jump in here right away, because the last thread about depression on Hacker News basically got swallowed up by an n=1 anecdote, and while anecdotes are wonderful (we all prefer to make decisions based on anecdotes we feel we can relate to rather than based on statistics), it takes a lot more than one anecdote to represent a complicated subject.

As my last keystrokes about depression here on Hacker News pointed out, there isn't just one disease known as depression. Depression is a symptom pattern (prolonged low mood contrary to the patient's current life experience) found often in the broad category of illnesses known as mood disorders. Behavior genetic studies of whole family lineages, genome-wide association studies, and drug intervention studies have all shown that there are a variety of biological or psychological causes for mood disorders, and not all mood disorders are the same as all other mood disorders. I know a LOT of people of various ages who have these problems, so I have been prompted for more than two decades to dig into the serious medical literature[1] on this topic. (I am not a doctor, but I've discussed mood disorders with plenty of doctors and patients.) I've seen people who tried to self-medicate with street drugs end up with psychotic symptoms and prolonged unemployment, and I've seen people with standard medical treatment supervised by physicians thrive and enjoy well off family life. The best current treatment for depression is medically supervised medication combined with professionally administered talk therapy.[2]

The human mood system can go awry both by mood being too elevated (hypomania or mania) and by it being too low (depression), with depression being the more common symptom pattern. But plenty of people have bipolar mood disorders, with various mood patterns over time, and bipolar mood disorders are tricky to treat, because some treatments that lift mood simply move patients from depression into mania. And depression doesn't always look like being inactive, down, and blue, but sometimes looks like being very irritable (this is the classic sign of depression in teenage boys--extreme irritability--and often in adults too). Physicians use patient mood-self-rating scales (which have been carefully validated over the years for monitoring treatment)[3] as a reality check on their clinical impression of how patients are doing.

As the blog post kindly submitted here points out, a patient's mood disorder influences the patient's whole family. The more other family members know about depression, the better. Encouraging words (NO, not just "cheer up") are important to help the patient reframe thought patterns and aid professional cognitive talk therapy. Care in sleep schedules and eating and exercise patterns is also important. People can become much more healthy than they ever imagined possible even after years of untreated mood disorders, but it is often a whole-family effort that brings about the best results.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Manic-Depressive-Illness-Disorders-Rec...

[2] Combination psychotherapy and antidepressant medication treatment for depression: for whom, when, and how.Craighead WE1, Dunlop BW.

Annu Rev Psychol. 2014;65:267-300. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.121208.131653. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

[3] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1859039-overview

flatline 3 days ago 3 replies      
> They talked extensively about how brain chemicals work and how medications help to balance out those chemicals

The only problem with this is that it's essentially a PR line that both doctors and the general public have mistaken for science. We don't know all that many facts about how brain chemicals work with regard to mood disorders. We have empirical results from clinical trials and broad use of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, but there is no basis to believe that medications "balancing out those chemicals" serve to repair mood disorders.

If the medications helped, then great, I know they have helped a great number of people, but they also fail to help a great number more and these success stories have an unfortunate tendency to marginalize people that do not get good results from medication. It often results in victim-blaming, to make sufferers of depression wrong for stopping their medications for legitimate reasons (let's face it, all of these results are highly subjective), and for overstating the ability of our current medications to cure all mental ills.

rickdale 3 days ago 6 replies      
Damn, I know of a similar story, but very different ending. I had a family member with depression try to get help. He started on Lexapro, and ended up committing suicide a week later. I had to sit there and read testimonials of people that lost friends and family attributed to taking lexapro to the mother of the deceased while she was beside herself, yet in insistent that I read.

I self medicate with marijuana. And more than just using it to make me happy, smart, excited and hungry. I grow pot medicinally as well and that makes me feel really happy. There is loads of scientific evidence that points to having a garden and lessening depression. From my experience, I can say that growing marijuana really lends itself to a lot of the benefits of having a garden. Because you can harvest 5 to 6 times/year it makes it something you need to work on every day. Progress is relatively fast, and if you do a good job, you can take it to a shop and get enough spending cash for that new macbook apple just announced. And if you are a champion, you can find your nugs in magazines. (my ghost og kush is featured in culture this month...) But ultimately nothing feels better than smoking my own herbs on Friday night after a long week of gardening and programming.

Just throwing it out there as another alternative for someone that is struggling. Been there, you just gotta find the light.

robg 3 days ago 1 reply      
The brain is an bodily system, just like any other. Disease can strike its workings and doctors can help with modern science.

That said, we're still understanding how the brain works. One recent study showed that depression often has an associated and underlying, undiagnosed, sleep disorder [1]. Treat the depression without treating the sleep disorder and the depression comes back. FYI: This work has not been published yet.

Given that scientists have just figured out that sleep clears the brain of toxins [2], similar to the lymphatic system clearing the rest of the body of waste, these results shouldn't be surprising. We don't know the exactly reasons why people get depressed, but the evidence is clear. Depression has a root physical cause just like any other illness.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/health/treating-insomnia-t...

[2] http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2013/10/sleep-ulti...

cordite 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had been on medication for a full year and it really helped me become more stable and content with life. I asked my doctor to increase my dosage because some days it just did not seem to be enough. He did, however it did not have the benefits I had hoped and it became harder to do things. So I started to ween myself off and now I am not dele dent on it.

However, like Wil, I seem to be getting angry at the most trivial things. I am considering starting again, but I am about to graduate and take my last finals in a week or two.

I have been scared of taking medication because of what ADHD meds did to me in my youth. Though now, knowing everybody on my mothers side and my sisters needed help for depression at some time or another, I highly support getting help in this domain.

yawgmoth 3 days ago 6 replies      
What do people do when they're unsure if they're "depressed enough" to be depressed? What about people who are "used to it" and consider themselves good at "dealing with it"? Go to a doctor anyway? Where do people start? With their regular physician? How do people find a therapist that won't jump at medication unnecessarily, and won't ignore you if you think you need it?
josh-wrale 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish she would not have mentioned the kids' issues without their permission. Just the mention of such potentially brings social stigma to their life.
dpweb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Doctors are going to be very quick to put you on drugs. After taking the various drugs, talk therapy, etc..

As quaint as it may sound, diet and exercise (the only supplement to that I take is phosphatidylserine now) can really make a difference.

I'm not saying don't do the drugs (especially if your a severe case), but (at least my experience) the drugs are not necessarily as effective as things you can do without all the hassle/expense of prescription drugs.

trvd1707 2 days ago 1 reply      
I liked the post because it shows the other side of a couple living with depression. I suffer from chronic depression and it is not easy to depend on medication every day with no prospect of "cure". The hardest part is dealing with the stigma associated with it, with people insisting that you are not doing the right thing and finding a way to get over it and free your self from medication.

I know that the "chemical imbalance" explanation is a poor excuse for "we don't know exactly how it works". But there are so many progresses done in our quality of living that were done because someone had a hunch and some practical, reproducible results showing that it worked. Think about the practice of washing hands when going from one patient to another in a hospital? When it was suggested, people couldn't see a connection with dirty hands and spreading diseases.

I lost a son that suffered from a mood disorder to suicide. It is heartbreaking and it happened when he was apparently getting over the hump of his darkest moments... I have other two children that also struggled with depression and what I found that worked the best for us so far is communication. Being opened about our struggles, talk therapy in conjunction with medication.

greatdox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since 2001 I have had schizo affective disorder. I has destroyed my career.

I tried to write about mental illnesses and the startup community, which I think is something that needs to be talked about. But my submissions get deleted and censored.

Sometimes your best talent has a mental illness, how do you manage them? Most just fire that talent when they discover they are mentally ill. It is something that has to stop!

doki_pen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this astroturfing? It reads like an ad.
ajarmst 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately (and especially because of the evidence of the cycle that begins with "the doctor increased has dose" and "added another medication"), Wil has a pretty good chance of having a poor outcome. Especially because his medical advice seems to include the deeply problematic "chemical imbalance' theory.

Reading Whitaker's "The Anatomy of an Epidemic" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_of_an_Epidemic) should be required for anyone considering long-term use of neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, or anti-depressants. And for those who care for them.

Theodores 3 days ago 2 replies      
I cannot help but feel sorry for Will. It would be my worst nightmare to be processed by American psychologists to be placed on Big Pharma's latest medications.
Recreating the THX Deep Note earslap.com
163 points by nkurz  1 day ago   26 comments top 13
flycaliguy 1 day ago 1 reply      
The song Spaced by Beaver & Krause made this sound before THX, in 1970 on the album Wild Sanctuary

3:10 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xKO3KAtDZ0

Edit: additional wikipedia searching reveals this unsourced fact

"A variation of the end of their track "Spaced" from the Wild Sanctuary album became the inspiration for dual gliding synthesizer soundtrack for the copied THX Sound Logo in movie theaters, also for which neither Beaver or Krause were compensated."


FatalLogic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's a working link to the THX 'Deep Note' theme sound (the link on the page seems to be dead): http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/soundmarks/74309951.mp3
TallGuyShort 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use Deep Note as the sound for my alarm clock. It's perfect.
stuartmemo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made a version in JavaScript based on this description. You can hear it here - http://stuartmemo.com/thx-deep-note-in-javascript/
curtisullerich 1 day ago 0 replies      
I appreciate the level of detail the author goes to in describing the creation process. Very informative. I did this myself once, but using a patch I made in Max/MSP for drawing and listening to line segments on a pitch vs time plane. For this particular use case, I generated the input score with a Python script rather than drawing them manually. I found that detuning the sustained tones made the biggest difference in matching the original sound, which the article author mentions. Here's a video of my patch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl4C4zsy9LY
BillyParadise 1 day ago 0 replies      
aye 1 day ago 0 replies      
The ChucK version is worth checking out as well:


Thanks to ahmetkizilay in the comments.

rch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone ever try this with an analog synth?
pscsbs 1 day ago 0 replies      
And who can forget The Simpsons' THX introduction?


drippingfist 1 day ago 1 reply      
It reminds me of the score from There Will Be Blood.
tommydiaz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well that was well worth my time. Awesome.
linker3000 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seriously, why?
braum 1 day ago 1 reply      
The only part of this "deep note" that I like is the very end; top of the crescendo. The first part has always creeped me out worse than watching Hostel for the first time.
Can I delete my Skype account? skype.com
162 points by Splendor  2 days ago   77 comments top 16
taspeotis 2 days ago 3 replies      
As far as I know this is about the same process for HN?


lyndonh 2 days ago 4 replies      
Skype as software has a lot of issues. Before they were bought by Microsoft the software worked quite well; on my Mac I'm still running an ancient version. Why ? - it got replaced by a version that takes up half your screen, I think they were trying to make a single version for desktop and iPad. After a public outcry they reduced the size somewhat. The latest version has about 3 extra options about the amount of data you will be sharing with Microsoft/associate companies. What ? I want a phone service, I don't want my personal info datamined. OK, they give you the option to disable this but it doesn't fill me with confidence.

If you want to use Windows 8 Metro version you must "link" to a Microsoft account and change your login to use that method. It's the first thing that it does, but the UI is very subtle about it. IIRC, it even wants to change your desktop login settings. Phone software should not be changing system settings. Also the latest version removes the option to hide the fact that you have a webcam. With Skype you absolutely must read all the fine print and dialogues.

kristiandupont 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know, is this a problem? In some sense, it seems more honest to me than having a delete button that simply sets a "deleted" flag on you in a database.
emeraldd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a question, would actually deleting the account lead to the possibility of someone later impersonating the original account holder? Especially since the "buddy" lists appear to be independent?
granttimmerman 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is extremely relevant:


oakwhiz 2 days ago 2 replies      
If you contact Skype's support, they can actually delete your account directly, but before they do that, they ask you to replace your profile information with gibberish.
monsterix 2 days ago 4 replies      
I recently deleted my Linkedin account. But their junk emails continue to dirty my email even now. Next in the line is Skype, and then probably Facebook.

Thankfully, I never shared my genuine data with Facebook or opened an a/c on Instagram or Whatsapp ever so I'm good at a certain level when it comes to Facebook.

In my opinion Twitter is the only option that is sane at the moment.

JBiserkov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mandatory Dilbert http://dilbert.com/2013-11-06/

(hint: even closing the thing is not straight-forward)

acjduncan 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is completely insane. How can a company with so many developers think this is anything other than completely unacceptable.
jon_black 2 days ago 1 reply      
The question I'm more interested in is why a sane delete option isn't built into the service. On the other hand, it's at least clear that your account exists forever, although it would be better if people were aware of that during sign up. Twitter claims to have deleted my account, but I cannot verify it.

As a side note, amazon affiliate accounts are equally bad.

officialjunk 2 days ago 0 replies      
and none of that is to actually delete the account. the closest thing is to remove your name from the directory...
emersonrsantos 2 days ago 0 replies      
You never put information online, delete stuff, use anonymous accounts and VPNs, yet everyone is a victim of device fingerprinting tecnhiques. That's one way the governments finds "anonymous" TOR users.

Check the online test https://panopticlick.eff.org/ and the paper https://panopticlick.eff.org/browser-uniqueness.pdf for a good read.

notfoss 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like what GitHub does with a deleted account:


asadlionpk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe this is because of the way they store the data. It might be an expensive query (in their case) to search all contact lists with your skypeID, and remove it.
joelthelion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very professional
cshimmin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess Betteridge's law of headlines could have saved me from reading this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines
       cached 7 April 2014 15:11:02 GMT