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Why I was forced to shut down Lavabit theguardian.com
740 points by cottonseed  2 days ago   222 comments top 29
tptacek 2 days ago 21 replies      
This summary is probably misleading. A different perspective on the facts of this case is on display in the 4th Circuit ruling on Levison's contempt charges:


In short: Levison claims that the DOJ demanded access to the content of all his users messages, and implies that after he complied with that order, they escalated to demand his TLS keys.

But that doesn't seem to be what happened. A fuller timeline of Lavabit might (please correct me) look like this:

t-n..t: Levison complies with numerous court orders demanding information about users of Lavabit.

t: Levison is served with a court order demanding the metadata associated with Snowden. It is unclear whether this demand is actuated by a device that DOJ mandates installation of, but what is clear is that there was a debate between Levison and the DOJ about Levison's capabilities w/r/t/ furnishing the DOJ with information about Snowden's account.

t+1: Levison refuses to comply with the DOJ order, while indicating that he has the technical capacity to comply with at least some of it.

t+2: DOJ escalates with a magistrate court order requiring that Lavabit use its technical capabilities to defeat its encryption of Snowden's information --- a capability that Levison acknowledges having, that is obvious from the design of Lavabit, and that has a precedent in other "secure" email providers.

t+2..t+13: Levison spends 11 days stonewalling DOJ, refusing not only to comply with the order but also to meet with the DOJ. Per the 4th Circuit: "As each day passed, the Government lost forever the ability to collect the target-related data for that day.". Levison is playing chicken, and DOJ is now furious.

t+13: DOJ arranges to compel Levison to appear at a district court hearing, while reiterating that it requires only the metadata information surrounding Snowden's account.

t+14..t+17: Levison delays 4 more days.

t+17: Levison, via his attorneys, replies to the DOJ's order with a counterproposal that involves billing DOJ for his time, collecting a limited set of information, and furnishing it to DOJ only at the conclusion of the entire collection period.

t+20: DOJ, furious and contending that they've lost all reasonable faith in Levison's cooperation with their investigation, demands the TLS keys for Lavabit in order that they can control the collection of the data they need from Lavabit.

Again: please correct details here where I'm wrong.

Most readers of this thread will have enormous sympathy for Levison and his efforts to stymie the DOJ's investigation of Snowden through his account on Lavabit.

However, a jaundiced, cynical, or purely pragmatic reader might also find grave flaws in Levison's response to this situation. His position on the matter does not appear to have been content-neutral: he complied with previous orders. More importantly, when an order came in for an account he had a personal interest in, he escalated matters so that DOJ would end up compromising everyone's information, by playing a game of chicken he was sure to lose.

liquidise 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article, which simply confirms what many speculated took place with Lavabit, makes my blood boil. I don't know what is worse: this specific technology instance, or the idea that similar instances have existed for some time.

Either way i find then entire paradigm infuriating and undermining to our supposed liberties.

pdknsk 2 days ago 3 replies      
> My company, Lavabit, provided email services to 410,000 people including Edward Snowden, according to news reports [...].

Does he write "according to news reports" for legal reasons? Obviously he should know, I think.

> The government argued that, since the "inspection" of the data was to be carried out by a machine, they were exempt from the normal search-and-seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment.

That's insane.

primitivesuave 2 days ago 2 replies      
I applaud Ladar for making the right choice on this one. On one hand, there's a lot of skepticism about an email service whose security breaks as soon as the private keys are stolen. On the other hand, assuming Ladar is a smart individual who knows how to securely store the keys (he is), he couldn't possibly have foreseen that the government would embroil him in a cat-and-mouse game.
auston 2 days ago 4 replies      
So what can we do about this as Americans?
tom_jones 1 day ago 0 replies      
It reads like a an unbelievable chapter from Orwell's 1984, and it occurred in the United States of America, the oft stated bastion of democracy.

At every possible opportunity resistance was stymied, with the presumption that the will to resist would eventually collapse.

They lost because they never once contemplated the possibility of you being willing to shut down your business because of your principles, something they couldn't fathom or conceive of, since such a concept is anathema to their wholly illegal and unconstitutional activities.

rrggrr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just donated $25 to the EFF. I hope everyone else will do the same or more.
pekk 2 days ago 2 replies      
This again? Lavabit was forced to shut because of the way it was implemented, and its proprietor has been cashing in on that design flaw ever since. There is no reason why complying with one search warrant should EVER require disclosure of the SSL cert for the whole domain, or any other disclosure sufficient to read data from customers other than the one covered by the warrant. But this is just what everyone claimed when Lavabit was closing.

If you build a business on selling security to people and you make such a mistake in the design of your software, you failed to deliver what you promised to your customers and you deserve to fail.

And not get bailed out because you thumped your chest about having to service search warrants when you chose to set up in US jurisdiction. If you don't want to be obligated to comply with lawful US requests like search warrants then don't set up in the US.

biotech 2 days ago 4 replies      
Is there an open-source, decentralized service that can be used for encrypted email? Something like that could be much more difficult to compromise.
listic 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, the encrypted email is illegal in the USA. Is accessing the Internet over VPN legal?

Pardon my ignorance, I am new to the issues of encryption and privacy. Always assumed I can worry about it later, but the time has come at last. About time, when my native country is enforcing the laws that permit internet censorship an increasingly wide scale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Internet_blacklist

eyeareque 1 day ago 1 reply      
This sounds like something you'd hear about in a communist country. We are in a lot of troue if we don't do so drying about what our government is trying to do. Eric Snowden and Lavabit are two examples of people who will be seen as heroes in the future.
retrogradeorbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
roma1n 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the Lavabit author would be amenable to e.g. a kickstarted with the goals of

- open-sourcing lavabit- making it ready for instant deployment e.g. using Docker

A kind of "just add a VPS" platform...

snambi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Overall this is not good. Sure, the govt can do what they want. But what useful information they got from these emails? Did it make the country safer? Did it make the world a better place?

Using the law is one thing. Using the law for the intended purpose is a different thing.

Not sure whether the law is really used for the right purpose.

ommunist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Following guelo. I agree - Levinson is a hero. I am almost sure he is the last American hero. Once the US citizens loose their right to privacy, they will not be able to produce such heroes anymore as a nation, and will transform to something like complacent Russians (who lost their rights to privacy much, much earlier).
S_A_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly maddening stuff. I applaud the guardian for running this...
agarwaltejas 2 days ago 1 reply      
One doubt which I have is what if the servers are moved outside the United States to any other country? Would the agents still have rights to get access to it?
erjjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Open Source your code and the community will help you see it a reality
jokoon 1 day ago 1 reply      
what would have happened if he just decided to delete snowden's mails and account to save his company ?
h1karu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why would any privacy related service provider operate within the United States of America ? It's one of the worst jurisdictions for that kind of thing.

To me that makes no sense whatsoever, so this start-up was doomed from the very onset.

gdonelli 1 day ago 0 replies      
hellbreakslose 1 day ago 0 replies      
May the force be with us!
redthrowaway 2 days ago 2 replies      
The original article, which was likely buried due to having 'Snowden' in the title:


room271 2 days ago 3 replies      
I submitted this link 6 hours before the OP but it didn't gain much traction. I though Hacker News had a way to prevent double submissions?


superduper33 2 days ago 1 reply      
Careface. If you don't like the laws here, GTFO of the country.
AaronBBrown 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was half expecting this to be about Apache Kafka.
arcolife 2 days ago 0 replies      
For all those looking for an encrypted email service, take a look at https://protonmail.ch/
3327 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is fucked up. This type of court due process is not America. That being said Snowden is a Russian pawn and traitor but thats another matter.

Regardless of what might be the case even if its sealed there needs to be a process that allows fairness. "search" needs to be well defined its pretty general when it comes to software and tech and can be interpreted any way you want.

Perhaps time for some digital legislation?

Level3 is without peer, now what to do? cringely.com
723 points by mortimerwax  2 days ago   379 comments top 35
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 16 replies      
There is an interesting unbalance because Comcast has so much leverage by owning the last mile, they can push around Tier 1 providers. I'd like to fix that, mostly by creating a public policy around municipally owned Layer 1 infrastructure between customers in their cities and a city exchange building. Conceptually it would be no different than the city owning the sewers and outsourcing the water treatment plant to a contractor (or two). Creating a new "ISP" would involve installing equipment in the City Exchange(s), providing compatible customer premises equipment to subscribers, and then patching their 'port' at the City Exchange to the ISP's gear.

Its going to be a long conversation :-)

mokus 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Nobody paid anybody for the service because it was assumed to be symmetrical: as many bits were going in one direction as in the other so any transaction fees would be a wash.

The justification for peering is not equal traffic, it's equal value - my customer wants to communicate with your customer. Regardless of the direction of traffic, the traffic is equally valuable to both of us because the traffic is the primary thing our customers are paying us for.

Unless, of course, I can get you to pay me for it anyway because of some unrelated advantage such as the fact that your customers can leave you more easily than mine can leave me. Comcast and others are attempting to leverage exactly that - in many regions they have no viable competition whereas Netflix and L3 are much more replaceable in their respective markets. This is a prime example of abuse of a monopoly.

mhandley 2 days ago 9 replies      
Would be very interesting to see what happened if the big CDN providers just depeered Comcast for 24 hours. Would certainly cost Comcast a fair amount in customer support calls, bad publicity, and properly bring the debate to the general public.
JoshTriplett 2 days ago 7 replies      
Somebody has to pay the money to upgrade the equipment and bandwidth available at these exchange points. The very reasonable argument in this article is that the ISPs should pay that cost, which seems reasonable given that their customers are demanding it. It sounds like the ISPs are playing a game of chicken, trying to see if their peers like Level3 will throw money in to pay for the ISP to upgrade its equipment and bandwidth. That's certainly something the ISPs can try to do; on the other hand, what are their customers going to do, not use Netflix and YouTube? If a pile of customers of one ISP start reporting that they're all having a poor experience with high-bandwidth video, and there are a pile of well-publicized press releases blaming the ISP, customers will start complaining to the ISP, and they'll have to upgrade their infrastructure eventually. (And in areas where they have competition, there's an incentive to upgrade before the competitors, to avoid losing customers; while there isn't such competition in every locale, there are enough locales with more than one ISP choice to make those customers painful to lose.)

But what does any of that have to do with mandated peering requirements at the NSFnet exchanges? Who would enforce that, and why, when any two major networks can set up peering at any number of meet-me rooms? Requiring that an ISP peer as much traffic as is available or not peer any at all seems ridiculous; some ISPs will suck more than others, but that's the problem of them and their customers, not a problem for the entire Internet.

Meanwhile, I'm surprised there aren't more startups and VCs looking to bet that "new ISP that doesn't suck" is a viable business model. People are chomping at the bit for Google Fiber, which seems unlikely to grow to a national level without developing competitors. This is a space with very few competitors, and there hasn't been serious competition in that space since DSL stopped being a viable option.

pessimizer 2 days ago 2 replies      
This cable-menu style image from the comments is scary: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1567010/original.jpg
jrochkind1 2 days ago 1 reply      
You would think, okay, if Comcast is terrible at maintaining sufficient peering for it's customers needs -- and if the OP proposal to throw Comcast out of peering exchange points happened, that would certainly lead to increased terribleness for it's customers -- then eventually it's customers would choose a different ISP. The market would solve it.

The problem is that in many many markets, Comcast (or another ISP) are pretty much the only choice. Customers don't have another option, no matter how much Comcast underfunds it's peering infrastructure or gets thrown out of peering exchange points.

So what is the consequence to Comcat for underfunding? What is the consequence to Comcast for even such a disastrous outcome as getting kicked out of the peering exchange point? Not a lot.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but 'regulate them as a common carrier' is certainly part of it, since they are a monopoly, and the common carrier regulatory regime was invented for exactly such a monopoly.

cobookman 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've previously interned at one of the mentioned Cable Companies, and I see both sides.

The solution is to make it 'capitalistic'. Change all of our internet contracts from Unlimited (up to 'x' GB/month), to a simple $/gb cost.

It would be in the ISPs best interest to provide their customers the fastest internet connection as possible. E.g, if a customer can stream a 4k video vs SD then the ISP would make more money per unit time.

Think of it this way, if comcast charges $0.25/GB, and a netflix SD show is say 1GB and HD is 4GB, then comcast grosses $1 for HD and $.25 for SD for the same customer streaming request.

Over time its likely the price per GB would decrease, just like it has for cellular.

On a more evil side, this would also stop chord cutters. Pirating content is no longer 'free', and Netflix would cost significantly more than $10/month ($10/month + 'x'GB * $/GB).

As for what rates to expect, if comcast charges in ATL $30-55 for 300GB, that'd be about $.10/GB to $.20/GB. As for speed tiers in a $/gb system, your guess is as good as mine.

signet 2 days ago 2 replies      
If a customer is paying for an internet connection, they are paying for access the full internet, to the best of their ISP's abilities. This is the net neutrality law we need: ISPs should be compelled to upgrade their backbone links as they become congested, to satisfy their customer's demand. Congestion can be easily monitored and often these peerings are "free". (Yes there is a non-zero cost to increase switch and router capacity and to have someone plug the cables in, but it's not like Level3 is charging for the bits exchanged.) But the point is, since most ISPs are de-facto monopolies in this country, we need rules telling them they have to upgrade their capacity to meet their customers demand, if they are promising broadband speeds.
brokenparser 2 days ago 2 replies      
This wouldn't happen if those ISPs didn't have local monopolies. Networks should be opened by selling traffic wholesale to other companies so that they can compete for subscribers on those networks. The network owners would have more than enough money for upgrades and if they don't, downlevel ISPs will sue them.
fragsworth 2 days ago 0 replies      
The proposed solution is at the bottom of the article (which is why everyone seems to have ignored it):

> The solution to this problem is simple: peering at the original NSFnet exchange points should be forever free and if one participant starts to consistently clip data and doesnt do anything about it, they should be thrown out of the exchange point.

I do have a couple questions though - who is in charge of the original NSFnet exchange points, and do they have this authority?

jamesbrownuhh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The UK experience is, broadly speaking, that any ISP who is sufficiently tall to have the appropriate interconnects can offer a service to a customer via the incumbent's last-mile infrastructure. (This is for telephone-based ADSL broadband - the UK's only cable operator is not bound by this.) But, furthermore, competitor ISPs are enabled to install their own equipment and backhaul directly into local exchanges, known as LLU - local loop unbundling. LLU allows competitor companies to provide just your broadband, or your voice telephone service, or both.

There is one further step, whereby the prices of the incumbent monopoly are regulated in areas where no competition exists. Ironically this works in the opposite way to how you'd think, as it forces the incumbent NOT to offer their lowest prices in that market - the intention being to make monopoly areas prime targets for competition and to ensure that potential competitors aren't scared out of the area by predatory pricing.

It's an odd system with good and bad on both sides, but it seems a lot better than being stuck with a single source of Internet access.

timr 2 days ago 3 replies      
People keep claiming that there should be a "free market" for bandwidth...but then they say that the ISPs should have to absorb the costs of peering (which can be significant -- the hardware isn't free) without passing the costs on to anyone. The backbone providers complain when the cost is passed to them; the consumers scream bloody murder when the costs are passed to them in the form of a bill.

Obviously, there's no free market in the status quo: we (consumers) basically expect to pay a low, ever-declining price for bandwidth, while someone else eats the costs of a growing network infrastructure. There's an economic disconnect, and legislating that it shouldn't exist seems worse than futile.

I say: pass the costs on to the consumer, and break down the monopolies on last-mile cable service. If the cable companies had to compete for subscribers, they could still pass on the costs of improving their infrastructure, but they'd have to compete with everyone else to do it.

In other words, the problem here isn't "net neutrality" -- it's that we've got a monopoly at the last mile that we need to destroy.

ry0ohki 2 days ago 1 reply      
"and make their profit on the Internet because it costs so little to provide once the basic cable plant is built."

That's some big hand waving, because laying the cable costs a fortune, and takes many years to recoup the cost which is why there is so few are competing for this "super profitable" business.

guelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
If the peering ports are congested that means that either the ISP needs to add more ports, or they are oversubscribing their capacity. Just make it illegal to sell more capacity than you have and the problem is solved.
rrggrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Godaddy, Rackspace, Google, Amazon, etc. have skin in this game. With multiple redundant network connections they could, for a day or a week, defend neutrality by shaping their traffic to the lowest common denominator or routing their traffic to avoid the peer's punitive bottlenecks. Today its Level 3 and Netflix, but tomorrow it could easily be them.
xhrpost 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like the article overall but I don't understand the author's proposed solution. The issue as it stands is apparently a lack of peering, in that big ISPs are using transit to reach large content providers rather than directly peering to those networks. So how would "kicking them out" for a maxed out connection work? If I buy transit from Level3 and my connection maxes out, I'm no longer allowed to be a customer of Level3?
guardiangod 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know why everyone is up in arm over this. Here is reverse thinking and a perfect oppoturnity for everyone.

The current situation is that Comcast doesn't have the equipment/resources to handle extra internet traffic at its peers. Most people want Comcast to buy more stuff to handle it, why don't we think the opposite way- get Comcast to decrease its amount of traffic?

If we can get Comcast to consume less traffic, they wouldn't have to complain to other peers about load asymmetry.

The best way to decrease traffic? Make Comcast has less customers.

Why does Comcast has so many customers, even though their resources cannot handle it? Because they have a government mandated monopoly in the last mile, so they are forced to have more customers than what they can handle.

We can come to a conclusion that last-mile monopoly -> network congestion -> forcing L3 to pay for peer.

If Comcast has to compete with other ISPs for last miles, the traffic load would shift from 1 single entity (Comcast) to 10+ smaller ISPs. In such case the traffic load problem would not exist.

Another solution is to breakup Comcast.

See? This is a perfect opportunity. Comcast can has its multi-tier network, but at the price of the last mile monoploy. After all, if they want to have the right to choose peers, we customers should also have the right to choose ISPs.

sbierwagen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Regulate ISPs as utilities.
mncolinlee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but wonder if the RICO Act applies to this sort of extortion. My first thought was FCPA, but none of the ISPs involved can likely be construed as "foreign officials." The behavior can be described as demanding kickbacks, however.
jvdh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just for scale, backbone links these days are not 10 gigabits/sec, more in the order of 40-100 gigabits/sec.

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange is the largest and most important exchange in Europe, and it's peak traffic each day reaches 3 terabits/sec.

eb0la 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is not to peer or not to peer. The problem is WHERE to peer.

I work for a european ISP and the problem we have is the location of the peering. Big content providers will happilly peer with you in, say, Palo Alto or Miami; but they will refuse to add a peering connection in Europe. Why? because today the problem is about WHO pays the Intercontinental route (which limited and is expensive bandwidth).

Level3 is known in the industry as a pioneer for bit-mile-peering agreements. This means you have to sample the origin and destination of the IP packets and make some calculations to know how many miles the packet has traveled and pay / get paid if someone dumps long haul traffic to a peer. Getting to this is complicated with current tecnhology and many companies are refusing to peer with Level3 because they don't know what will happen with their business with bit-mile-peering agreements.

neil_s 2 days ago 1 reply      
Since everyone is pitching their own solutions, how about I post mine. Let's take the example of Netflix and Comcast. Instead of no deal with Comcast, and thus giving Comcast Netflix users really slow or no service, Netflix should make the deal for now, and tell subscribers that if you use Comcast the Netflix rental is higher. By passing off the higher costs to the users, Comcast customers are given the incentive to switch ISPs.

Everyone shows loss aversion, and so will be determined to find out why being on Comcast gets them penalised. They will learn about its dick moves, and complain to Comcast to make them remove these fees so they can access Netflix, which they have already paid for access to.

Rezo 2 days ago 0 replies      
The extreme download vs upload traffic asymmetry between Comcast and L3/Netflix has been mentioned several times as a straw man argument for why Comcast is justified in charging Netflix directly.

Maybe Netflix could find some creative uses for all that idle viewer upload capacity to reduce the deficit ;)

- Have every Netflix client cache and serve chunks of the most popular streams P2P-style. You could have a DHT algorithm for discovering chunks or have Netflix's own servers orchestrate peer discovery in a clever way, for example by only connecting Comcast customers to peers physically outside of Comcast's own network. This would reduce Netflix's downstream traffic and increase viewer uploads.

- Introduce the Netflix-Feline-Image-KeepAlive-Protocol, whereby every Netflix client on detecting a Comcast network uploads a 5MB PNG of a cat to Netflix's servers over and over again while you're watching a video. Strictly for connection quality control purposes of course.

rossjudson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Level3 should drop the same percentage of outbound packets from Comcast, that Comcast drops on the inbound. If every tier 1 did, Comcast's internet service wouldn't look all that good any more, would it?
tom_jones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Along these lines, can someone ask whether net neutrality ever existed at all? Akamai and F5 have been helping big corporations like Disney circumvent internet bottlenecks for over a decade now. Those who have had the money have managed to purchase faster delivery schemes for over a decade.Could it be, then, that telecommunications companies are consolidating so that they can extort money not from the small guys, but from the big guys? Are Hulu, Netflix and others willingly submitting to the extortion because they see no other way out?To be sure, the telecommunications industry is in desperate need of regulation because providing good service at a reasonable price for a reasonable profit is not good enough for them.
Havoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Its about money and American business, because this is a peculiarly American problem.

Hardly. We've experienced the whole interconnect brinkmanship locally too (South Africa). Its actually quite the opposite - the interconnect things are a lot nastier in other countries because it tends to be paid for (powerful co vs underdog) whilst the bigger US setups seem to run mostly open peering.

api 2 days ago 5 replies      
While I agree with the general thrust of the article, there is one fallacious argument here.

Cringely argues that cable breaks even and money is made on the net, but that's an artificial distinction. What if cable disappeared? Would they still make money if they had to pay for the upkeep of the network with only Internet fees? The desperation and risk of this game of chicken convinces me that the answer might be "not much." The loss of cable might very well be apocalyptic for these companies, at least from a shareholder value and quarterly growth point of view.

What's happening is very clear to me: the ISPs are trying to either harm the Internet to defend cable or collect tolls on streaming to attempt to replace cable revenue. That's because cable is dying a slow death. This is all about saving cable.

The fundamental problem is that cable ISPs have an economic conflict of interest. They are horse equipment vendors that got into the gas station business, but now the car is driving out the horse and their bread and butter is at stake.

Eye_of_Mordor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lack of competition all around - just break up the big boys and everything will be fine...
keehun 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I'm nave beyond any recognition, but shouldn't the ISP's or whoever is peering charge based on the bandwidth amounts? It sounds like they have a flat-rate contract with each other and now they're charging more?
GregFoley 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem would disappear if ISPs used metered pricing. Why do we have unlimited commercial broadband?
swillis16 2 days ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting to see how gaming download services such as Xbox Live, PSN, Steam, etc would be affected as there as the file size of video games gets larger due to advances in the video game industry.
snambi 2 days ago 1 reply      
why there are no last mile providers like comcast and ATT?
droopybuns 2 days ago 4 replies      
So on the one side is the fat-cat ISP who doesn't want to make expensive capital investments ih their transport.

And on the other side is the fat-cat vc funded video content providers, who don't want to pay for the their mp4-based saturation of all the pipes.

This is a negotiation. There are two active media campaigns that are trying to gin up our anger against The Other Guy (tm) as part of their negotiations. I just can't get invested in this nonsense.

lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 2 replies      
1. Peering is based on equal traffic both ways.At the moment we tend to download gigabytes with a few bytes of request. As video-communications really takes off (yes chicken and egg - see below) this will get lost in the noise

2. rise of ad-hoc local networksThis might come out of mobiles, this might be me dreaming, and it might come with sensible home router designs, but ultimately most of the traffic I care about probably originates within 2 miles of my house - my kids school, traffic news, friends etc

A local network based on video comms - that will never happen. just like mobile phones.

3. electricity and investmentIn the end this is down to government investment. Let's not kid ourselves, gas, water, electricity, railroads, once they passed some threshold of nice to have into competitive disadvantage not to have, governments step in with either the cash or the big sticks.

Fibre to the home, massive investment in software engineering as a form of literacy, these are the keys to the infrastructure of the 21C and it's a must have for the big economies, and it's a force multiplier for the small.

spindritf 2 days ago 11 replies      
Except its actually right (not wrong) because those bits are only coming because customers of the ISPs you and me, the folks who have already paid for every one of those bits are the ones who want them.

What is the source of the notion that, because you paid for your consumer broadband, all bits are paid for and the charge for carrying them cannot be split with the other side of the connection? Why is it so bizarre that both sides of the connection have to pay for it? Because you're used to your phone working differently?

As an analogy, you know how you used to pay for a subscription to a magazine and there were ads inside which advertisers (the other side of the connection via the magazine in this case) also paid for? The magazine split its fee in two: you paid part of it, and the advertisers paid the other part. It's the same here.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with charging both sides. You may prefer a different fee structure but a better argument than "I already paid for it!" is necessary.

New DuckDuckGo design duckduckgo.com
578 points by ashishk  2 days ago   212 comments top 75
Spittie 2 days ago 2 replies      
That's awesome! I've been using the beta for a while and it's been much better than the old site.

A bunch of ideas/complains:

- It's awesome that you're showing me a nice map when I search for places/address, but let's be honest, I'll probably need to load it into an online map (OSM, MapQuest, Google Maps) to get directions. So a "open in map" button would be great (yes, I can copy/paste the address and !bang it, but it's not exactly a great experience)

- Sometimes I just want to search for images or videos. Yes, I can search "Images X" or "Videos X", but it's not nice. Also you get the minimized image/video box. I'd add two bangs, !i and !v (those right now alias to Google Images and Youtube, which have !gi and !yt anyway) to search for images/video and that will auto-open the images box.

- Auto-suggestions are neat, but please add an option to remove the "select-on-hover" behavior. It's really annoying to casually move the mouse and select something else.

That's mostly it, otherwise I'm really, really happy with DDG. Thanks, and I wonder what the future will reserve!

yegg 2 days ago 4 replies      
Here's the announcement I just posted on our blog: https://duck.co/blog/whatsnew

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback to us during our public beta period! Please keep the feedback coming so we can quickly iterate. We really do listen to it all.

ianstormtaylor 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is a really amazing direction in terms of design. Like most people probably, I've pretty much ignored DDG because it didn't seem to be doing anything more than Google already did, but this design is really interesting for going in a new direction.

The only thing that stands out to me as less useful than the equivalent Google search at this point is the hiearchy of the results. Google uses a link-like blue color for the titles of each result, which seems like a leftover from a past age of the web, but is actually useful for scan-ability because the text of the headers stands out.

Compare the current DuckDuckGo... https://i.cloudup.com/vrwZgUkOty.png

...to Google... https://i.cloudup.com/eFCFEE5TYG.png

...to an adjusted version of DuckDuckGo... https://i.cloudup.com/jluIYZWtzz.png

Having an extra color for the headings lets you scan the page much more easily, which lets you get to the result you wanted faster. The downside is that since their brand color is red, it feels "best" to have the highlight color red. But then that has some negative emotional connotations. Tried green as well, but it didn't stand on it's own enough since there's so little green on the page.

Anyways, I've switched to DDG as my default and will try it out for a while again. I also love those favicons that show up next to the domain names.

Walkman 2 days ago 5 replies      
Honestly, I don't care how clean or nice the page design is, until it can't give me good results. Here is an example:

The other day, I was searching for a Django core developer's contact. I knew his exact name was Baptiste Mispelon so I searched that directly.

On Google [1] after his Twitter and Github accounts, the first picture is correct, and I did not have to do anything else, the contact infos are there, his picture is there, great.

On DuckDuckGo [2] the picture is not even close, and the first couple of results are not as useful as on Google [1].

I think it is a mistake to concentrate on clean design on a search engine until the searching algorithm is not that good. AFAIK Google's page ranking algorithm is well known, when I were in university I even heard stories that a student (going on the same class as me) reproduced the algorithms only on his own!

TL;DR: I want to search relevant information with a search engine, not to look some nice webpage.

[1]: https://www.google.hu/search?q=Baptiste+Mispelon

[2]: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Baptiste+Mispelon

k-mcgrady 2 days ago 2 replies      
Instead of putting a large box at the top of some search results with what you think I want, why not put it to the side (the way Google does) and make use of the large amount of waster whitespace. I have tonnes of horizontal space available, not much vertical.
mike-cardwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
I use <alt>d to select the text in my address bar. If I am on a duckduckgo search results page, it seems this keyboard combination is intercepted and I'm bounced off to one of the results (well, the 'd' on it's own does this too). I can also use <ctrl>l, but I've gotten use to using <alt>d.

[edit] I have bug reported this. They have a very good feedback system on their website.

joosters 2 days ago 4 replies      
White text over white images on https://duckduckgo.com/whatsnew - not very readable!

(Edit: How odd; a reload caused the page to be displayed differently, with the images below the text and icons.)

james33 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've never really bought into DDG, especially for its lack of features. It still can't match Google, but this is certainly a step in the right direction and gives me pause to think about using it at least once in a while now. Glad to see progress in search outside of Google for a change.
egfx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Arnor 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've tried DuckDuckGo a couple times before. Today I decided to give it one day and see if I felt more comfortable with it. I was having a really hard time parsing the results so I did a search side by side in Google and DuckDuckGo. I looked at Google and thought "yeah, I know I want link #3" then I looked over to DuckDuckGo and saw that the same link was result #2 but I couldn't identify it as the page I wanted just by looking at the results page. Further analysis helped me to understand the process I use for parsing search results. It turns out that the most important part is the URL and I've trained myself to look for that in the format Google renders it (right after the link). When I realized that this was what I was actually looking for, it all became much easier.
Patrick_Devine 1 day ago 0 replies      
The new design looks pretty slick. I really dig the bootstrappiness of it. I do, however, have a couple of nits. I couldn't figure out how to make the weather in centigrade, so I tried searching for this:


It came up with some interesting results. The images opened automatically for me (not sure why) and were a little off the mark. Ideally there would be a link to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit, with maybe even a cookie to save your preference, although I don't know if that's very anti-DDG (does DDG store cookies for anything?).Yahoo "solves" this by having you go to weather.yahoo.ca to default to metric. At any rate, given that 95.5% of the world's population uses metric, it'd be a nice feature.

shmerl 2 days ago 1 reply      
The fonts look messed up for me (Debian testing / Firefox 29.0.1). In some cases letter i has a shifted dot (see the word Wikipedia in the last search result in the image below):


The fonts come from here:

* https://duckduckgo.com/font/ProximaNova-Sbold-webfont.woff

* https://duckduckgo.com/font/ProximaNova-Reg-webfont.woff

gejjaxxita 2 days ago 1 reply      
Small but surprisingly annoying thing about DDG: I have to hit TAB too many times to start cycling through search results, on google one TAB takes me to the first search result, on DDG it's an unintuitive series of links.
edwintorok 2 days ago 1 reply      
What changed since the preview was announced? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7700192The contrast on the main page is still too low.
skizm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Unrelated UI nitpicking: I feel like I should be able to scroll on this page. Just seeing the top of the virtual screen is annoying.
Geekette 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow DDG, you guys are on fiyah! I just rebooted Firefox and saw the new new look; love it. What I noticed:

* Someone looking to search immediately may be confused/frustrated as the text entry field is currently not visible until the slideshow ends.

* Consider relocating the "press" button away from bottom right; I almost missed it and only saw it because I'd been on the page for a few minutes, finished the slideshow and was looking for more.

* Also, when I saw that button, I thought it meant "press this to see something cool", so I was disappointed when it only took me to the company press page.

* I really like the background colour scheme on the front page but you might consider switching it off as it doesn't carry over to other pages. I.e I found the visual discontinuity a bit jarring when the search and press pages didn't reflect it; that's when I realized that the biggest message I got unconsciously was that my default DDG pages would now be in this colour (with ability to change it). I see now that the pages depicted on "inner" screen were the usual white, but I honestly didn't see/process that against the bolder background.

bluthru 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really like the new update, but I still don't like how there is a dead click space between the results, and I find the background hover to be unnecessary.
clarry 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the old version, the instant answer box would usually load after the results and with some delay. Very often it would materialize the very moment I click on a result, causing the content to move, leaing me to a place I did not want to visit. That was my biggest issue actually.

I can't seem to trigger it now. So I guess it's an improvement.

dredmorbius 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the page layout: one very positive sign is that my custom stylesheet appears to make no difference whatsoever to how the page displays. Which means that either the CSS classes have all been changed or my suggestions (recently here on HN) were all adopted.

I noticed the change, and it didn't annoy me much (any change is a bit discombobulating), which is actually high praise. I haven't stumbled into any "woah, that's cool!" features yet (though I'm noticing a few things and nodding appreciatively).

Just checked the "what's new" and I'm pretty much liking.

I'd still love to see time-bounded search provided. That's one of the very few uses that will draw me back to Google for general Web search (Google's special collections: books, scholar, news, etc., may bring me in more often).

I've been using DDG off and on for a couple of years and solidly since last June. It's definitely working for me.

frik 2 days ago 1 reply      
Your intro says:

  Smarter Answers  Answers to your questions from the best sources,  developed by our open source community.
Where is the open source repository located? I would like to browse the templates/recipes/sources. Found nothing on http://duckduckhack.com

yalogin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The main thing to me is they still do not have driving directions. That to me is really needed to make it useable to the mainstream public.

Also searching for say chicago, IL does not show the maps tab. We need to search for Chicago IL for that. Not sure why the comma is throwing them off.

chimeracoder 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for almost three years.

It's improved fairly steadily in that time (as measured by how often I end up falling back to appending "!g" to my search), but this is the single biggest improvement I can remember in my time as a user.

Aside from the auto-complete (which is nice), it feels significantly faster, and it's also easier to parse visually.

I'm really excited about seeing DuckDuckGo evolve, and it seems more and more people are as well: https://duckduckgo.com/traffic.html

dredmorbius 2 days ago 1 reply      
More search results than layout, but as a friend pointed out, "open source office suite" produces notably and significantly different top results in DDG and Google.

Specifically: the DDG results don't rank the arguably top-rated open source offic suite (LibreOffice) at the top of the results page, instead showing an order suspiciously similar to that of Bing. Google (both logged in and out) puts LibreOffice at the top of results, as does StartPage.

Some argue a bias against free software by DDG. I apply Hanlon's razor, but this is one example where improving results would be a bonus.

Screencaps of results:


donbronson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adding images makes DuckDuckGo now a legit competitor for Google for my usage. The usability has also dramatically improved as well as load times. Their mobile javascript needs to recognize gesture swiping and other minor UX improvements. But this is a leap forward for them.
tripzilch 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks absolutely gorgeous!

And thank you so much for not including the large(-ish) position:fixed header/banner that we saw in the preview last week. Vertical screen estate is so precious on today's widescreen netbooks.

hngiszmo 2 days ago 3 replies      
The first time I saw that (so called) design I literally hit refresh 5 times to hopefully get that missing CSS file. Having all in just light grey and white doesn't really help finding anything quickly and why hide the path of the url onMouseOut is beyond me.

DDG is my search of choice and the pain induced yesterday is not enough to swap back to google but still, not happy at all :(

TheLoneWolfling 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not sure if anyone at DDG would ever read this, but my comments on the preview are still valid.

The contrast is way too low, it prefers vertical over horizontal (I, like any people, have a widescreen monitor. Displaying 3 search results by default is a little absurd), a couple other issues.

It feels like a mobile interface.

Oh, and there's no way to revert to the old version. The options merely change the color scheme, as far as I can tell.

orrsella 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting to see that many of their "whatsnew" examples use Yandex[1]. Is that a new partnership?

[1] http://imgur.com/3tBrS7h

hysan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the new design, but I'm still hoping for better discovery of bangs. Perhaps DDG could include links to suggested bangs alongside Images and Videos based on the search term. With the final link being a dropdown of all other available bangs (sorted by potential relevance maybe). Another possibility would be to include the list of bangs (or a shortened one) in the pull out side menu. For me, bangs are one of the best features of DDG, and it's disappointing that they aren't more discoverable.
ankurpatel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good design but disappointing that the search and Menu option disappear when the browser size is shrunk to tablet or mobile phone resolution. Not responsive.
okbake 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think I found a bug. I'm using the dark theme and customizing the colors. If I set my background color to #000001, all of my text will turn blue (#0202FF).

Also, setting the Header option to Off is the same as On With Scrolling. This is on ff29.

Other than that, I think I'm finally switching over to ddg.

rane 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used DDG as my main search engine instead of Google for two weeks just now, but ended up going back because very often DDG just couldn't find the results I'm used to finding with Google in that amount of keywords.

Usually I had to add "github", "npm" or some other word that would narrow it down for DDG, while Google just knew what I wanted and/or already visited.

Maybe it's the lack of personalized search results or Google is just smarter. Either way non-personalization is a double-edged sword.

lazyjones 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks good, but they really need to weed out some spammy websites from their index.

For example, all the <domain>.<something>stats.com sites that try to get traffic when people search for various brands, or this strange one: http://www.loginto.org/<domain>-login apparently it tries to steal login credentials, or I don't see the point).

scrabble 2 days ago 1 reply      
Still not totally in love with it, but it's still my primary search engine. While looking for ways to alter the UI, found the Dark theme -- so that was a plus.
rakoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very good job DuckDuckGo team! I was just thinking that I'd have to switch back to Google because of the poor results... but this new experience has given me some hope.

What saddens me though is that we (as in "the users") still don't have a strong guarantee on the respect of our privacy. We still have to trust the DDG team. I know there is no easy technology to do it, but still, the whole thing is only marginally better than using Google.

cvburgess 2 days ago 1 reply      
The UI is super slick. Bravo!!

I miss some of the simplicity of the old DDG but after adjusting the only thing i find missing is the StackOverflow integration. It may totally be there, i just haven't had the right query yet...

dvcc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like this hasn't been really tested in Chrome on Windows. The gray, detail information on search results is pretty hard to get past. I kind of just give up using it halfway though, looks like it might be better on other browsers though.
cgag 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've started using ddg instead of consistently skipping it by using g! since the new design came out. I didn't really grok how much the design played into my trust of its results until now.

Big improvement imo.

webwanderings 2 days ago 0 replies      
All the more power to competition and diversity of choices. But I see these reinventions and makeover campaigns and I really wonder if things are going well or not.

I use search engines for a niche blog, and I have a need to keyword search certain specific terms which are not common words. I have consistently tested all the available search engines (there aren't many). And I have always arrived at the same conclusion: there is no better search engine out there then what Google maintains.

I am no blind Google lover, but when it comes to practicality of effective and useful products, you have to have the best, in order to make your case.

bm1362 2 days ago 0 replies      
When it loaded, it failed to load the CSS etc. I saw the typical white page with black text and thought maybe this was their way of chiding those critical of the redesign.
tzury 2 days ago 1 reply      
Dear Gabriel Weinberg, after so many posts on HN, I am still missing the point behind DDG.

Can you tell me, the end user, what are other benefits of using DDG aside _privacy_ (given I am using chrome/incognito by default)?

backwardm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo for a self-initiated 10 day trial. All the work you've put into the new layout / results look great.
me_bx 2 days ago 1 reply      
The "Meanings" feature is a great thing, semantic and ubiquitous at the same time.

It works well with "orange" as in the example, but searching for "Apple" directly shows result for the company without displaying the "Meanings" panel. We can't see the fruits' search results using that term, which is quite disappointing.

It gets more puzzling when you search for "Apples" and are displayed with the meaning tab

try: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=orange vs https://duckduckgo.com/?q=apple

Edit: apart from that this redesign is very pleasant :)

pubby 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope a setting gets added to make the images and videos tab always display fullscreen results. The default display of only 4 images at a time is pointless to me. Good work otherwise.
Holbein 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like the low contrast and drab grey of the result page. It makes it much harder to jump between results with the eyes.

Luckily, there is a "classic" mode. Please Gabriel, make classic mode the default mode again.

blueskin_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Horizontal scrolling on a desktop is FAIL.

I also hate the way results have no apparent division between them, not even a prominent title; it makes them all blur together when I am scanning the page.

wtbob 2 days ago 1 reply      
'Sorry, this page requires JavaScript'
gdonelli 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice. first thing I tried was to scroll down.. (I was on my Mac). I think because of the cut iPad(?)/Screen... Was it just me?
gcd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never really gave DDG a shot until now. I tweaked the link color as suggested above to the DDG orange #C9481C (surprised blue was the only option.. had to use custom color and dig into your CSS to find that) and I think I'll give it a shot for at least a week. !bang seems to make up for any deficiencies (I'll probably be using !gm the most, for when I need directions).. right now things are looking great. Keep up the good work!
anilmujagic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a way to filter results by time, like on Google? I can't find it.
fotoblur 2 days ago 0 replies      
First I'm the founder of Fotoblur.com, a creative photo community. I just went to check out the site. What I'm concerned with is when I search for fotoblur (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=fotoblur), and go to images, it looks like you've slurped the image source and not the source page the image comes from. You're also providing a link to download the image. Don't you have any thoughts for user's copyrights or even content providers of which you've swiped content from? Boooo.
izzydata 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really neat. I played around with the site awhile back and I found it particularly displeasing due to its layout and design, but now I'm really liking this modern and more minimalist look.
mstade 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm loving the new version. I tried switching some time ago, but found the results lacking and the experience just annoying enough to not help me get to where I wanted. Now with this new version it's a whole different ball game. I've been using the beta for a while, and it's just so good .

I'm loving it excellent work!

ixmatus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome change, results are much improved too, using it as my default.
geekam 2 days ago 1 reply      
How to turn off auto-scroll and turn pagination on?
PaulKeeble 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am a not a big fan of all the results being down the left hand side of the page. Considering how the top fancy gadget thing seems to extend well past the right of my page with silly right arrow buttons it seems a lot of the screen is just being wasted and it would be nice to have the results at least centred.
hrjet 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like DDG, but have to ask, what is the revenue model? Is it going to serve ads eventually?
vohof 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wish they'd add pronunciation to their definitions https://duckduckgo.com/?q=define+duck
nchlswu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please. There's no need to have the non-descript hamburger icon on a page designed for desktop
Thiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I could change the name of two great ideas doing great stuff they would be Ubuntu and DuckDuckGo.
shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is image search new functionality or I just missed it in the older UI?
deathflute 2 days ago 1 reply      
A question for DDG or anyone who might know: How does DDG plan to monetize this without storing any data?
s9ix 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty awesome! Good to see them doing well.Sad realization: 'what rhymes with orange' did not give a cool response. I expected it to at least try according to smart responses, haha.
wuliwong 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow this looks great. Just set it as my default search engine. Thanks Gabe and company!
sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love the recipe search! This is fantastic!
brent_noorda 2 days ago 1 reply      
On my iPhone 4 browser, I don't find any way to close the DuckDuckGo web page. Until I figure that one out, this new DuckDuckGo is YuckYuckNo (ha ha, I made that one up myself, I'm so Ducking funny!
Asla 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool duckduckgo.

A question.Where do ddg guys get this massive taste for color red?

Thank you.

FlacidPhil 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the Forecast.io integration, by far the most beautifully done weather app out there.
api 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tried DDG about six months ago and went back to Google, but I recently tried it again. The gap is closing fast. As of now it's my default search. Google still does a better job seemingly "understanding" queries sometimes, so occasionally I go over there, but I'd say I'm only doing that about 5% of the time.

One of my favorite things about DDG is that I do not have to worry about "search bubbles." I don't have to worry that DDG is profiling me and de-prioritizing results it doesn't "think" I would want to see. I know Google thinks search bubbles are a feature but I think they're a bug. I don't want some algorithm trying to reinforce cognitive biases for me so I don't experience the shock of a dissenting opinion. I've observed a few times that DDG seems to do a better job finding really obscure things, and I've wondered if this might somehow be related to profiling algorithms or lack thereof.

I also find the level of data mining Google (and Facebook) engage in to be creepy, invasive, and to hold a high potential for abuse. I'm certainly open to alternatives whose business model does not revolve around that kind of intrusive personal profiling. I'm aware that DDG does have an ad-and-analytics business model, but they seem to be taking the high road with it.

Prediction: "privacy is dead" will in the future be regarded as an idea that greatly harmed several multi-billion-dollar companies. I think it's firmly in the realm of utter crackpot nonsense, and anyone who thinks this is either hopelessly naive or delusional about the political, social, and economic realities of the world. A full-blown user revolt is underway.

idealform01 2 days ago 0 replies      
doh! I kept trying to scroll down the page to see the rest of the image that looks like 1/3rd is cut off
higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to cause some problems with the WOT extension?
whoismua 2 days ago 0 replies      
DDG is my default SE. Once in a while i ave to go to other SE (Bing second, Google third) but it's a small price to pay to give them a shot.

Hopefully the market share will be more evenly distributed among SEs. Let's do our part

finalight 1 day ago 0 replies      
why duckduckgo instead of google?
oldgun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks good.
newbrict 2 days ago 0 replies      
since when does noch rhyme with duck
Using the wrong dictionary jsomers.net
574 points by jsomers  2 days ago   132 comments top 42
grellas 2 days ago 2 replies      
This piece - beautifully written - reminds me of an old PBS documentary I once saw about how a savory-looking new food offering got flattened and homogenized into something really unappealing as it went through the fast-food commercialization process. So too with words as they populate modern dictionaries with trite and sterile definitions in tow.

A word does not stand still. It can mean one thing in one era and something related but different in another. It can mean one thing in one place and another in a different place where people came to use it differently. It can have a literal meaning, constituting some tangible thing. That meaning can then be applied by analogy or metaphorical usage to some intangible attribute. As it is ported from one time or place to another, it can continue vibrant in its home tongue or it can die and be absorbed by another tongue. Or it can continue in its original tongue, die in its original meaning, and continue vibrant in other meanings. Caesar's ferre or latus (same word, different forms) could mean "to bear" (as in bear a load) or "to bring" in his day and can today have spawned such words as rich and varied as "superlative" (connoting borne or carried above) and "circumference" (connoting "brought around") (see my write-up on this here: http://www.grellas.com/article_word_origins_fero.html). Wycliffe's "knave", or "young boy" as it meant to him in the 14th century, is today a far more sinister character than originally meant. Sinister itself derives from the Latin, meaning left-handed. And so on and so on, almost literally ad infinitum.

So how does the compiler of a language go about capturing what it all means when putting together a dictionary? First, by deciding to be either prescriptive (stating how words ought to be used) or descriptive (stating simply how words are used). Second, by deciding how much to bring in of the historic origin or etymology of a word. Third, by deciding how much to illustrate its usage with examples from existing literature. And, of course, by deciding how to formulate the meaning or the various meanings of the word as used in then-current usage or at times in historic usage (anachronistic words).

As pointed out in this piece, modern dictionaries tend to do this task superficially, by committee. They are serviceable. They are helpful. The are easily accessible. Thus, they have utility. But they rarely go beneath the surface of a word's meaning and, in so limiting themselves, even leave the false impression that words mean only what the flattened, homogenized, "fast-food" version says they mean - that is, something not very interesting. As the author of this piece points out, when a dictionary is so done by committee, it misses much of what is valuable in words.

But there is a reason too for the fast-food character of the modern dictionary and that is that people have limited ability or patience to want to dive into the deeper or subtler meanings of words. That takes hard work and, while a joy to the one coming at it from a specialty angle, is off-putting to many modern readers or even writers. People want something fast and to the point, without too much nuance.

For those who value the joy of words, and who seek to write with some measure of nuance and precision, there is (for English) the old Webster's (as noted by the author), there is Samuel Johnson, and of course there is the OED (a stupendous achievement with huge emphasis on word origins, illustrative usage, and subtle shades of meaning). There are also major (and very thick) Latin and Greek dictionaries that go deeper into many of the words from which the English words were derived. So too are there medieval dictionaries capturing the English of Chaucer and Wycliffe, as well as dictionaries of Old English, which bring out the Germanic origins of many of the words that predated a good number of those we use today. But of course this brings us back to the point that massive complexity this way lies. Word meanings can have a priceless fascination just because their study can take you into many times and many eras and many languages. For those inclined to dive deeply, and to work hard in seeking to excel in expressing themselves, the resources are there for the taking. Just don't expect an easy path.

The author of this piece does a splendid job of suggesting the joy of words as one uses a solid dictionary to help bring them to life. This is an excellent read and one to be highly recommended. The rest (the hard work) is up to you.

AaronFriel 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite works of literature is the preamble to A Dictionary of the English Language, by one of the first lexicographers, Samuel Johnson. Perhaps I'm so fond of it because I can beat his prose over the head of prescriptivists and Francophones in an argument, but whatever the reason, I find it beautiful and captivating.

Here's a passage (joined from two paragraphs) describing the futility of prescribing language or fixing it with a work as diminutive as his dictionary:

    When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from    century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a    thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who    being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words    and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his    language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to    change sublunary nature, or clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and    affectation.        With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues    of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their    vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and    subtile for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are    equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its    strength.
I suppose early lexicographers had to become a master of language themselves - or persuade themselves it was so. If they didn't, how could they presuppose to describe the entirety of their language in such a tome?

The full text of the preface can be found here: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/preface.html

mrspeaker 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow - that was a fantastic(al) and fun read - and then ends up with a cool bit of hacking to actually fetch and add a dictionary from 1913 as the default on your 'puter. The perfect HN post, I say!
loevborg 2 days ago 1 reply      
My secret weapon for writing English prose is the "Kenkyusha Dictionary of English Collocations".

A collocation dictionary gives you words that commonly go together with another word. In particular, you find the right verb to go with a given noun, or descriptive adjectives to further chacterize that noun. It's helpful for brainstorming. It also helps a lot (but not only!) if English is not your first language. In my view, a collocations dictionary is more useful than a thesaurus.

The Kenkyusha dictionary includes Japanese translations (unreadable to me), but the collocations are given in English. It's very comprehensive, more so than any other list of collocations I've seen.

It's hard to find as a book, but a digital edition can be found on a well-known Swedish sharing platform.

madaxe_again 2 days ago 6 replies      
And you'd still be using the wrong one if you use Webster's. The correct (inasmuch as anything can be correct in this world - correct for me!) choice is the compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is quite possibly the most glorious duology of volumes of infinitesimally minuscule type ever published, from Aa to Zyxst. Many happy childhood evenings of eyestrain and ebullient exclamations of sesquipedalian rhapsody.

It even comes with a magnifying glass.

kemayo 2 days ago 2 replies      
I know I'm going to come across as un-romantic or anti-intellectual, but I don't like the "literary" writing style this seeks to emulate. The quotes provided in the article from McPhee all seem over-written to me -- topically, I suppose I would call them fustian.

I like prose which adheres to the "as simple as possible, but no simpler" rule. I'm well aware this is a matter of taste.

apetresc 2 days ago 3 replies      
While I appreciate the author's love of language, and I also enjoy his examples, he's being a bit disingenuous when he acts mystified and offended about why dictionaries these days aren't written like those a hundred years ago.

It's obvious. Dictionaries these days are used to help literate people learning a new language (of which there are many more than 150 years ago) rather than aspiring playwrights. Comparing a "flash" with "eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew" is fanciful, not what an immigrant trying to decode an instruction manual needs.

literalusername 2 days ago 1 reply      
The dict protocol, and dict.org in particular, provides easy access to Webster's 1913 as well as other dictionaries.

I normally use Webster's 1913 from the command line, since I usually have a terminal in front of me. I keep this in my .zshrc:

    function dict () {        if [[ $1 == (d|m) ]]; then                curl dict://dict.org/$1:$2 | $PAGER        else            echo 'Unknown command. Use (d)efine or (m)atch.'        fi    }
That allows me to issue queries such as `dict d example` to define "example", or `dict m exampel` to figure out how "example" ought to be spelled.

languagehacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
The reason for the difference between Webster and Oxford is pretty simple if you do a little studying on the history of language documentation between the 18th and 20th Centuries.

Probably the most important, seminal dictionary was from Samuel Johnson. The two-volume Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755. It was an incomplete catalogue, full of opinion and jokes (see the definition of "oats" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Dictionary_of_the_English_Lan...). But it was a big deal at the time, and very much in the same vein of Diderot's Encyclopedia -- a great philosophical idea born of the Enlightenment, but certainly incomplete and not necessarily easy to distribute.

When Webster started in 1806, Samuel Johnson was the best precedent he had to work off of. So it served as a major influence for his format and approach. Webster's goal, of course, was to provide an adequate account of American English to provide additional national identity to a growing nation.

The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, had an entirely separate goal. They wanted an objective academic reference to fully catalogue the functional meaning, language of origin, and first documented use of each word.

So what happened between 1805 and 1878, when James Murray met with the Oxford University Press to set the groundwork for what would become the OED? Well, over the 19th Century, comparative philology became a big deal academically. This coincided significantly with the increase of nationalist movements in Europe. As vulgar Bibles had established the linguistic boundaries of major mercantile polities between the 14th and 17th Centuries, a combination of historic and scientific research into those languages helped to formulate an intellectual sense of nationality for different states during this time. In other words, the political situation in Europe created a market for a more objective, historical tool for cataloguing language, and not a companion for generating flowery prose. And you can see that as this happened about 70 years after Webster started, the emphasis on science over editorial had amplified over time, as scientific academies and universities increased their influence in their respective nation states.

So to say that something like the OED, which has an amazing history (really, look up The Professor and the Madman), is devoid of soul just because it adequately fulfills its historical, scientific, and political purposes is nothing short of melodramatic. I actually think it's a good thing dictionaries don't editorialize too much.

Each speaker already injects bias into each definition they write simply based on their local dialect and how they individually evaluate word meaning. Why make this bias worse by letting them crack wise when you're just trying to look up a simple word?

arooaroo 2 days ago 1 reply      
[Self-declared interest: I'm an ex-employee of Pearson Education, the publisher of Longman Dictionaries, and I used to work on the dictionaries team.]

The author may appreciate English learners' dictionaries as a possible source of greater lexicographic stimulation, such as Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English or Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. These are aimed at learners of English at an advanced level and therefore can be quite insightful for natives too.

On the negative side most dictionaries in this space compete for having definitions expressed as simply as possible. But on the positive they outline significant language nuance, enumerating a word's usage in to multiple fine-grained senses. An entry such as 'go' will have 30-40 different senses of the raw word itself, and then as many again in various phrasal verbs and idiomatic usage.

Synonyms and antonyms are a common and significant feature in learners' dictionaries too.

Sure, the examples aren't from Shakespeare either but they are usually modern language, derived from vast language corpora of real world language use.

Edit: I am of course in British English mode; whilst the dictionaries I referred to do accommodate American variants of usage and spelling they are primarily British English titles. There are exclusively American titles such as Longman Advanced American Dictionary and Oxford Advanced American Dictionary which would suit American readers too.

Despite sounding like a salesman I have no interest in either company or publication - just the language!

ecmendenhall 2 days ago 1 reply      
You're probably using the right thesaurus. The default on Apple devices is the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus, which is great at conveying little shades of meaning. I'm always delighted to find a "Word Notes" entry by an author I like. Try "bourgeois" for Zadie Smith or "feckless" for David Foster Wallace.

(Here's a list of all the word notes by author: http://lasersoptional.com/2012/08/21/it-was-wonderful-marvel...)

dang 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful! Anyone who has such feeling for English at its most alive is someone I want to read more of. It's an exemplary piece of intellectual detective work, too, with a satisfying reward.

I think the article should be called "Using the Right Dictionary". It is far too good to commingle with the shite genre that is internet bait titles.

tobinfricke 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a beautiful essay, thank you.

What is the literal meaning of "a diversion of the field"? Is "diversion" used in the sense of "that which diverts, and makes mirth; pastime; amusement", and "of the field" in the sense of "pertaining to a large grassy open area where one might kick a ball around"? If so, it seems a bit of a stretch to apply the phrase to an activity that takes place on water. (Though Webster does also give a broader meaning for field: "An unresticted or favorable opportunity for action, operation, or achievement; province; room.")

mcguire 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dictionaries are all kinds of good, clean fun. From http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?resource=Webster%27s&word=potat..., potato:

In 1913, "Potato (?), n.; pl. Potatoes (#). [Sp. patata potato, batata sweet potato, from the native American name (probably batata) in Hayti.] (Bot.) (a) A plant (Solanum tuberosum) of the Nightshade family, and its esculent farinaceous tuber, of which there are numerous varieties used for food...."

In 1828, "POTATO, n. A plant and esculent root of the genus Solanum, a native of America. The root of this plant, which is usually called potatoe, constitutes one of the cheapest and most nourishing species of vegetable food; it is the principal food of the poor in some countries, and has often contributed to prevent famine. It was introduced into the British dominions by Sir Walter Raleigh or other adventurers in the 16th century; but is came slowly into use, and at this day is not much cultivated and used in some countries of Europe. In the British dominions and in the United States, it has proved one of the greatest blessings bestowed on man by the Creator."

...which may go a certain distance towards explaining why the modern default dictionaries are not Webster's.

This message brought to you by the word "esculent", because it's lunch time.

timdierks 2 days ago 4 replies      
This article began with John McPhee, who begins many great things. Somers' article is the most practical single bit of writing advice I've seen in a long time (it even includes software you can install).

If you're not familiar with McPhee, you're missing out. He's one of the greatest English-language essayists of the 20th century. My favorite is "Coming into the Country" (on Alaska), but the Hacker News set in general may prefer "The Control of Nature".

stcredzero 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is the place where all the words live and the writings no good.

The New Oxford American dictionary, by the way, is not like singularly bad. Googles dictionary, the modern Merriam-Webster, the dictionary at dictionary.com: theyre all like this. Theyre all a chore to read. Theres no play, no delight in the language. The definitions are these desiccated little husks of technocratic meaningese, as if a word were no more than its coordinates in semantic space.

This is the article that's complaining about where all the words live and the editing and writing's no good. (Perhaps this is intentional or tongue in cheek?)

EDIT: the clamour of pedantry Could be the motto for the 21st century tech industry.

thinkersilver 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a teenager I collected dictionaries for this very reason,it was exciting because each word became more than the sum of its letters but a treasure hunt that would last hours. Halfway through the article I thought he should just use an old edition of Merriam Webster or an Oxford Dictionary that predates the early 80s only to find that he does mention it. My word toolbox now consists of:

* Old Dictionary , Oxford and sometimes Websters

* Roget's Thesaurus

* Online etymology tool

* English Wordnet

* Oxford's Modern English Usage by Fowler ( 2nd or 3rd edition ) - it's a hoot to read.

* Samuel Johnson's Dictionary - if you want a nice bedside chuckle.

There are many ways of slicing and dicing this data set to fit a particular writing style( e.g like Stephens King's no adverb policy,); If the data is ingested in a tree form , searching for word replacements based on Part Of Speech, sound or syllables , mitre is not that hard.

Using these techniques doesn't necessarily make you a better writer but it sure does make it more fun!

anywhichway 2 days ago 7 replies      
Stephen King seems to disagree: "Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule."
leephillips 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article is superb and beautiful. Just go read it. I love it when procrastination is repaid.
wodow 2 days ago 1 reply      

        I applied myself to the perusal of our writers; and        noting whatever might be of use to ascertain or        illustrate any word or phrase, accumulated in time        the materials of a dictionary. --Johnson. [0]
To use the dictionary files he has hosted on S3 [1] on Linux, GoldenDict [2] works well.

[0] Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913

[1] https://s3.amazonaws.com/jsomers/dictionary.zip

[2] http://goldendict.org/

Sonthun 2 days ago 0 replies      
He lists the http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters website as a way to read the 1913 Webster's dictionary. As soon as I saw that I started looking for a plugin to put in my Firefox search bar. Turns out they offer a plugin right on the site:http://machaut.uchicago.edu/plugins
e12e 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a little shocked that anyone would not be using a proper dictionary (be that Webster's or Oxford). I always aptitude install at least "dict-gcide" and "dict-moby-thesaurus" -- and usually also "dict-devil" as well.

Clearly not everyone do -- great way to bring attention to proper tools for writing.

However, a small aside -- the phrasing: "In fact [the definitions are] so much better that to use another dictionary is to keep yourself forever at arms length from the actual language." is somewhat unfortunate. Arm's length is exactly the distance one should be from one's dictionary of choice (be that an actual book, or accessed via a keyboard/screen) ... ;-)

If anyone feels the need for a little balance against the flourish of this text, I can recommend reading an essay or two by George Orwell, for example:

"Politics and the English Language"http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200151.txt

pauleastlund 2 days ago 0 replies      
I clicked on this thinking it was going to tell me what substitute I should be using for /usr/dict/words. The payoff I got was much better.
phkahler 2 days ago 0 replies      
For the wordsmiths out there, you can visit Websters actual house at Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, along with a number of other historic buildings. Note: I didn't say "home" because that's not where the house - nor any of these buildings - originally was. However, they are well preserved and all in one place. Mr Ford's idea of a history museum was rather unique.
mmorris 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone wants to install the Webster's Revised 1913 Dictionary as a Chrome Search Engine, you can find it listed on the Mycroft project [0]. Just click on "Webster's 1913 Dictionary" and set the Keyword field to whatever you'd like to type into the Chrome address bar to activate the search engine.

[0]: http://mycroftproject.com/search-engines.html?name=webster

markbnj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I probably enjoyed this post more than any other I've read so far this year, and would have enjoyed it every bit as much even if it had not mentioned one of my favorite authors of non-fiction. Whether we have actually lost something or not I can't say, but at least it seems certain there are no more Noah Websters, just as there are no more Bertrand Russels, etc.
skybrian 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the article, but I think it implicitly encourages elitism through reliance on an old authority. Not all writing styles or writers will benefit from mining a well-written dictionary of flowery language from many decades ago. What about the various dialects of English that have sprung up since then? We should be borrowing new words as well as old.
lotsofcows 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use etymonline.com for similar purpose. Searching for the etymology of words gives you something akin to older dictionaries.
egypturnash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh my god it ends with a way to get the 1913 Webster's into Dictionary on a Mac. Installing that so hard right now. Because most of the time when I pop open Dictionary it's to look for the same kind of inspiration he describes John McPhee as finding.
sitkack 2 days ago 0 replies      

    ARCTIC    Arc"tic, a. Etym: [OE. artik, OF. artique, F. arctique, L. arcticus,    fr. Gr. ursus bear, Skr.        Defn: Pertaining to, or situated under, the northern constellation    called the Bear; northern; frigid; as, the arctic pole, circle,    region, ocean; an arctic expedition, night, temperature.        Note: The arctic circle is a lesser circle, parallel to the equator,    23 28' from the north pole. This and the antarctic circle are called    the polar circles, and between these and the poles lie the frigid    zones. See Zone.

jc123 22 hours ago 0 replies      
http://tinyurl.com/ddddictI created a short link in case using someone else's computer.
MasterScrat 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "js" in the URL led me to believe this article was about Javascript and its object notation ^^
cratermoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I was studying writing and composition in college (well before computerized dictionaries and word processors were common), all of my professors had strong opinions about dictionaries, and made specific recommendations about which ones to choose. I still have and sometimes use my Webster's New World Dictionary 2nd College Edition from back then.

I'm really glad to see someone writing up about how to not just use the dictionary built into your software, but to evaluate and it change it to suit.

alanning 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was beautiful. I am very glad that I clicked on that link. (I need to study that dictionary...)
zem 2 days ago 0 replies      
beautiful piece of writing. it reminds me of why chambers was my favourite dictionary when i was growing up; the definitions had a definite sense of style and individuality to them.
marc_omorain 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would love to see a homebrew package to install this dictionary on a Mac (or better yet, for it to be the default in OSX 10.10).
H4ssi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love this post!Does anyone know about a german dictionary of such a quality that s/he could recommend?I really enjoy disecting words/sentences/speech and to find those pin-point-descriptive paraphrases/expressions :-)(pls do not judge my english, I r no native speaker :O)
joncrocks 2 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this a function traditionally fulfilled by a Thesaurus?
vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a weird essay. The author doesn't want a dictionary, but a thesaurus, which gives you alternate ways of communicating your concept.
niix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thought this had to do with dictionaries in CS.
stblack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can we please stop linking to websites with meta viewport tags that set the maximum scale to 1.0?
ryandrake 2 days ago 0 replies      

"New Oxford American Dictionary is the TLDR of dictionaries. There are others out there if you have extra time to look up a word."

Google is Breaking the Internet jeremypalmer.com
463 points by kposehn  4 days ago   296 comments top 45
Matt_Cutts 4 days ago 14 replies      
I talked about this phenomenon recently on This Week in Google with Leo Laporte and Gina Trapani: http://twit.tv/show/this-week-in-google/248 Skip to 4:15 in to listen to the discussion.

Note that there are two different things to keep in mind when someone writes in and says "Hey, can you remove this link from your site?"

Situation #1 is by far the most common. If a site gets dinged for linkspam and works to clean up their links, a lot of them send out a bunch of link removal requests on their own prerogative.

Situation #2 is when Google actually sends a notice to a site for spamming links and gives a concrete link that we believe is part of the problem. For example, we might say "we believe site-a.com has a problem with spam or inorganic links. An example link is site-b.com/spammy-link.html."

The vast majority of the link removal requests that a typical site gets are for the first type, where a site got tagged for spamming links and now it's trying hard to clean up any links that could be considered spammy.

If you read the original post closely, it's clear that this is a site asking for a link to be removed--the quoted email isn't from Google.

ronnier 4 days ago 6 replies      
I own http://ihackernews.com which reformats HackerNews for mobile phones.

I had a DMCA takedown notice sent to me on behalf of a website owner who didn't want me linking to their site. My hosting provider gave me 24 hours to remove the link or else they'd cancel my account.

The owner of the link claimed that their Google rankings were dropping because my site, iHackernews, linked to their site. With this, they were able to force me to remove it via a DMCA takedown notice.

milesf 4 days ago 4 replies      
My solution has been to recommend friend and family to switch to http://DuckDuckGo.com or just http://ddg.gg)

This may seem to be an impossible task, but in days not too long ago people switched search providers often. I went from the curated links of Yahoo, to Lycos, to AltaVista, to Webcrawler, to Google, and now DDG.

Google got a lot of mileage out of my in my mind with their motto "Don't be Evil", because I had some trust for them. I don't trust them anymore, and I regularly explain to others why they should no longer trust them either.

sbierwagen 4 days ago 7 replies      
Jeremy Palmer is a SEO marketer, who also appears to be doing some scammy affiliate thing. Google considers his links low quality because they are low quality.
jawns 4 days ago 3 replies      
"As a publisher I refuse to nofollow any links, outside of banners and advertisements. I compel you to do the same."

I believe you mean "implore."

andybak 4 days ago 2 replies      
From my understanding Wikipedia adds nofollow to stop incentivising people from constantly trying to sneak links into Wikipedia to boost SEO.

Any ranking system that gave any value to links would suffer this problem.

nofollow is a necessary evil if you allow untrusted sources to publish content on your site that contains links. It's a way of saying "I don't vouch for these links in the same way I vouch for other links on my site".

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

franze 4 days ago 1 reply      
is google breaking the internet? naah (well at least not with google search - G+, google local and the new horrible google maps is a complete other story)

are webmasters breaking the net because they follow SEO worst practices? definitely.

i wrote this article for techcrunch in 2010 http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/07/startups-linking-to-your-co... the tl;dr: pagerank is thoughtcancer, if you start thinking of links as some flow of mystical pagerankjuice you will make bad decisions, decissions that will hurt your business, your users and in the end the internet.

the stupid "remove link emails" are just the newest iteration of this thoughtcancer.

my recommendation stays the same: link to whatever you like and link to whatever your users like, want or need, oh, and also link to your competition. but for gods, your sanities and the internets sake: don't do it for any kind of page/trust/magic-rank or any kind of link/penguin/panda-juices....

my name is franz enzenhofer / i'm the most successful SEO in europe / i do not care about links

jonknee 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Site owners and publishers are now afraid to link to each other because they dont know how Google might respond to that link. For example, Wikipedia and the New York Times have added the nofollow" attribute to most of the links outside of their editorial control.

I'm a little confused why he cares about nofollow links--if Google doesn't "own" the internet, what does nofollow matter? It's certainly better than not having a link at all.

Furthermore, the "credit" he so desperately wants publishers to receive is only a thing because of Google Page Rank in the first place.

mixedbit 4 days ago 0 replies      
To support the point from the article. StackOverflow had to put significant effort to figure out a policy that would allow some links to have a 'nofollow' attribute but wouldn't impede organic traffic from Google (see a discussion around this questions: http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/51156).

Such things should be handled automatically by the ranking algorithm. High quality sites shouldn't need to research what are the ranking algorithm internals. Today most sites prefer to stay on the safe side and put 'nofollow' on everything, which is detrimental for original content creators.

thu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Do I understand correctly that Google will try to punish you (or the other party) if you host links in exchange of money but that Google is doing it in its search results ? (And I receive from time to time unsolicited regular paper mail from Google so that I advertise my enterprise through them.)

Page Rank is a neat idea, but making everyone listening to Google so that Page Rank remains meaningful is stupid. What do you do if suddenly Google thinks Twitter or Facebook are to be considered spammy link farms (which would be true) ? Do you ask everyon to delete their tweets linking to you ?

userbinator 4 days ago 0 replies      
What really needs to be changed is Google's algorithms. The number of links to a site may be correlated with content quality and relevance but shouldn't be taken as an indicator of such, since it basically promotes large sites with lots of links - but not too many - while penalising the "less developed" (in terms of linkage) parts of the Internet, the parts that in my experience also tend to have the most interesting and valuable content.

Basing ranking on characteristics of the page content is also going to pose its own problems, since instead of linkfarming, the SEOs will just focus on generating useless content (they are quite good at that already.) Without very strong AI, it's difficult to tell whether the content was there just to spamdex or if it's something that may be equally low-entropy (for example) like tables of useful information. In my mind, even a totally random ranking (not one that changes every search, but maybe ~monthly) would be better than one based on links or page content. At the very least, it would expose many users to more parts of the Internet that they might not otherwise experience if they stayed within the first 1-2 pages of search results (if I'm looking for something that happens to be relatively obscure, I routinely go into the 100th or more page of results, since there is often good content there too!)

I haven't received any such link removal requests (the sites I have a relatively small), but I do not care about SEO that much and if I did receive any my response would basically be "go complain to the search engines, not me."

gordaco 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a distorted variation on Goodhart's law [1], although in a non-economical environment. In other words, poorly thought incentives generate poor behaviour (this is not the core of Goodhart's law, but rather a common consequence). I'm not sure if all the blame for those incentives is on Google, or SEOs are culprits in some way.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_Law

toddh 4 days ago 1 reply      
This has happened to me too. A client who bought ads on my site wanted the links pulled so as not to make Google mad. That Google would think me a spammer is very very broken.
alexandros 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that this is coming up again. I'd written an essay on the fundamental pattern behind what is at play here, it was well received on HN at the time:


cromwellian 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why are being saying 'nofollow' "breaks the internet". First, it's the wrong terminology, nofollow is an aspect of the Web, not the internet.

Secondly, nofollow applies to crawlers, not human beings. It doesn't even "break the Web", it has zero impact on an end-user's experience of navigating links.

What you could say is that excessive "nofollow" breaks PageRank and other search engines. Less melodramatic and link-baity, but more accurate.

What you could claim is that search algorithms are opinionated and 'mold' content and link structure across the Web. That would be true, but unavoidable. It's impossible to have a search engine that would not editorialize in some respect, and any engine that gained prominence for sending lots of traffic would quickly be descended upon by people like Jeremy trying to figure out how to mold content to game the algorithm.

Even if we had some sort of incredible AI based search engine that could understand meaning and nuance like spam, it might still have an editorial opinion that people would optimize around.

mcv 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel the article misrepresents the content of the email:

"We have discovered that a company we hired to help promote our website have used a variety of questionable techniques to secure links to our website. These links were placed purely for SEO purposes, with the intention of manipulating search rankings."

So basically the company hired people who spam links in order to game search results. Google is totally right in fighting that. The "natural" links on the author's site are not made by the SEO company, so those links are fine.

The probem is not linking to content you want to link to, the problem is hiring people to artificially boost your search ranking by spamming links in places they don't belong.

wmkn 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is this omnipotent master somewhere in the cloud. His power is large, but his ways are unknown. To please the Lord of cloud, strict rules have to be followed. Rules, that, when not followed, will cause the cloud Lord to strike you down with vengeance. Unfortunately, the cloud Lord is intentionally vague about these rules.

Some people have taken upon themselves the task to discover the rules that please the cloud Lord. In the process these priests have found a large number of arbitrary rules that have to be followed strictly. Breaking any of these rules is a reason for the cloud Lord to banish you to the dark corners of his empire - or so the priests say. For only a small fee the priests will give you a glimpse of the rule list that might you good standing with the cloud Lord. It may work, or it may not, because the cloud Lord works in mysterious ways.

richdougherty 4 days ago 0 replies      
The nofollow attribute is a way for site owners to say "I don't endorse this link". nofollow is very handy for site owners because it removes the incentive for users to include spam links in user contributed content.

Howeverand I think this is the point of the articleuse of nofollow doesn't just disincentivise spam links, it also means that many valid and useful links no longer contribute to PageRank.

It would be great if we could have a way to allow all to links contribute to PageRank, but still protect ourself from spam.

Which got me thinking

At the moment the only options for site owners are to say "yes, I endorse this link" or "no, I don't endorse this link" (by adding nofollow). Instead I could imagine something more fine grained, a system where site owners could tag specific content within their site as coming from specific users.

Content tagged like this is neither endorsed nor disavowed, instead responsibility is pushed to the user who wrote the content. In other words site owners would be able to say something like this to search engines: "this content is created by user X, don't blame me if it's spammy!".

Smart search engines could use this more fine-grained content ownership information in their search algorithms. That means they wouldn't need to throw out all user contributed information on the internet just to protect the internet from spam.

There are a few challenges, of course. :)

* How to identify users? (Anonymously?)* How to have users endorse content on different sites?* How to work out which users are trustworthy?* Building a PageRank algorithm that incorporates fine-grained trust information.

But it's fun to think about technical solutions.

spindritf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nofollow link to a human user is just as good as a regular, do-follow link. From reader's perspective this changes nothing so who cares? Game the link attributes as best as you think you can and let robots figure it out.

They're only breaking their own ranking algo.

nso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I run a decent sized discussion forum. I literally get 3 of these emails a day. I have an auto-reply that goes something along the lines of "Unless you previously have hired shady companies to do shady SEO for you on the forums, these links are organic. Do not contact me again regarding this subject."
znowi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reading the comments from Matt Cutts here, I see the worst is ahead of us.
soheil 4 days ago 0 replies      
That email is perfectly legitimate. I can see why now someone doesn't want their website linked from a shady website, that maybe at some point wasn't as shady. To say Google is "breaking"the Internet is easy to proclaim maybe only if to get enough attention on HN. He's using the same exact tactic as the one he is accusing Google of using, namely FUD. How is removing links and placing nofollow attr on links breaking the Internet exactly? If anything this will make the Internet more relevant. The opposite doesn't even make sense from the point of view of Google. They're making money by showing you the most relevant search results so if the Internet is broken and less relevant no one will be using their search anymore and they'll lose too.
crististm 3 days ago 0 replies      
This post convinced me to replace google.com as my default search engine. It's better to do that at my own convenience, than to be forced later when the switch costs become too large.

It's incredible how google shaped my expectation of looks of a search page results. I was like - WTF is that page? - oh... I've changed my search engine... Go figure.

willu 4 days ago 0 replies      
In some regards I agree. The rules are constantly shifting and they are unevenly enforced in a way that favors large, established sites which is frustrating for smaller players. Good examples here:http://nenadseo.com/big-dogs/At least the person mentioned in this article received an unnatural link notice. In other cases Google will just sink your site into oblivion overnight with no explanation or recourse.

At the same time, they have to deal with an entire industry that exists to exploit the very metrics they rely on to rank results so I don't blame them for just saying screw it, let's just float up our own content and well-known brands for every search and call it a day.

peterhunt 4 days ago 1 reply      
false positives happen. let's move on with our lives.

- a facebooker, working at a google competitor :P

davidgerard 2 days ago 0 replies      
IME, this is pretty much always a spammer trying to get their past comment spam removed.

So although I acknowledge the general message, the specifics really don't help the poster's case.

humain2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have website since 2007 and 90% of my visitors is Google visitors. 2 months back i lose 85% of my traffic without any reason. I don't have any message in Google webmaster. Google is applying filters to reduice my traffic on search results. Sometime it go to normal so i receive all my visitors and 2 days after penality comeback. I don't undertand how google works and i am not using any spammy links or other. So google is kelling the web ....
hrjet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to the OP for standing their ground and not complying with the request.

Apart from the principles, there is also a practical problem with complying with such a request. How can one verify that the request is genuine? It could be a hacked email account from that domain. Or a rogue employee. Or someone who doesn't have sufficient authority within that company. How is the recipient of the request going to verify it?

d0ugie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Jeremy: Sing it sister! But do you know what I like even less than occasionally not seeing eye-to-eye with Webmaster Tools? Link farming.

While I'm not sure I understand your objection to nofollows as a compromise, have you any alternative methods in mind to improve the web without "breaking" the internet?

pgrote 4 days ago 0 replies      
Matt ...it is clear Google has no way of dealing with search past the no follow attribute. Is there anything cooking to make search good again without no follow?
caseya 2 days ago 0 replies      
And the Panda 4.0 update rolls out today to shift the topic of conversation. Well played, Matt. Well played.


eddie_catflap 4 days ago 0 replies      
I get a regular drip feed of these requests. Depending on my mood I check the outgoing link. Usually it's from someone recommending the service or product that the site asking me to remove the link offers. I've mailed quite a few of the requestors back. I explain that I've set all links to be nofollow and that it was a real person that created the link. Only 1 person has ever understood this. The rest all demanded the link still be removed with varying degrees of politeness. I just don't think site owners get it and to echo several comments here perhaps Google could make some clearer instructions about what they want.
al2o3cr 4 days ago 0 replies      
"linking with nofollow set" != "not linking". Repeatedly equivalencing the two does not lend the author much authority.
TerraHertz 3 days ago 0 replies      
It appears to me that Google has a long term ambition to become the sole means of navigating the Internet. Inter-site links are fundamental to topic-related navigation, as the Internet was originally intended. It appears that Google is trying to depreciate inter-site linking in general, and skilled PR misdirection on the topic by a Google employee doesn't reassure.

One has to wonder to what extent the entire phenomenon of link spamming sites might be a Hegelian Dialectic tactic by Google - ie a manufactured problem, intended to prompt a 'solution' that is in fact more beneficial to Google's unstated intent. Are we really to believe that there's no algorithmic solution to mitigating the link-spamming nuisance?

Another dimension of this same ambition, is the movement to obfuscate URLs in browser address bars. Traditionally, Web users could copy, save and manipulate links directly as another means of navigating the Internet and maintaining their own records of Web places. As browsers progress further in the direction of eliminating direct user visibility of true URLs, this navigational method becomes less available. The Google-promoted alternative? Just search via Google!

As for why Google would want to do this, the obvious answer would be the usual 'money and power'. If Google succeeds in virtually eliminating all navigational alternatives to Google-searching, they then own the Net. For instance, if they wanted to make any given web site disappear, they could simply de-index it. That's a politically very dangerous power. Even if Google has no political agenda now (a debatable point), given such power they'd be guaranteed to become political. Power corrupts, etc.

We've been through this before, with a gold ring and a volcano. It's generally a bad idea to create 'one thing to rule them all', and Google is no exception.

bryan_rasmussen 4 days ago 0 replies      
If sites can make spammy links to another site and google would then hurt the linked to sites ranking it follows that a profit model would soon arise -> Make spammy links and charge to have links removed.

Has this been seen? Can anyone show a case?

the_watcher 4 days ago 0 replies      
>> webmasters are going out of their way to control the flow of page rank from their site to other sites.

I agree with 90% of this piece. But this particular comment isn't new. Webmasters have been looking to control flow of PageRank since they learned what it was.

drivingmenuts 4 days ago 1 reply      
>As a publisher I refuse to nofollow any links, outside of banners and advertisements. I compel you to do the same.

No. No, you don't. You implore. If you compel, I rebel.

Also, if someone doesn't want you linking to their site, shouldn't it be more a case of "Whatever. Your loss."?

It's one thing if you're pointing out fraud, abuse, illegal acts or unethical behavior (in which case, you'd probably be posting the evidence on your own site), but if it's a friendly link and they don't want it, don't give it to them.

kevin_bauer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe we should change <a href="..."> to <google="...">. or insert a google-search into the href-url!
pompano 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I have never understood is why google has put so much concentration on punishing the Websites that receive web spam. Why not balance it and punish the sites that don't prevent it. Punishing them sites will firstly de-value the link + push webmasters to actually do something on the other end. Sometimes it is out of the site owners control because they cannot prevent that link from being created. The google updates right now encourage negative SEO because that webmaster has no control of that link creation. If you start punishing the people who have control and are able to prevent spam then it makes them focus on being better at moderating that and allowing more relevant links from blog comments and such.
justinngc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google and Matt will get things right.

We have to acknowledge that Google has been performing up and down the perfect margin (but not getting it perfectly right), but it is because, presumably, they are in the last part of the equation to make it all perfect.

The only thing is they can't simply solve it relying only to technology because search engines deal with people. People are emotional beings, search engine robots, are, not bring funny, just robots.

Consider this as equation Neo (of the Matrix).

javajosh 4 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any documented cases of a black hat attacking a site by linking to it too much? This would seem to be a difficult attack to thwart.
jqm 4 days ago 2 replies      
I understand the point.

But you could be friendly and agree to remove the links in questions since they seem to believe it will harm their business. Not doing so "out of principal" may effect others as Google believes your links are low quality.(although it sounds like their SEO company is mostly to blame for their problems).

judk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Mods please fix flame bait title.
neurobro 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't help but wonder why Google thinks links from OP's site are "unnatural" (assuming they're all natural). E.g. is this a consequence of allowing do-follow links in comments - and if so, does vigilant moderation make a difference? Or perhaps an indication that the site was compromised and there are pages of spam hidden off in a corner somewhere?
Don't mess with Newegg newegg.com
425 points by keerthiko  3 hours ago   58 comments top 26
mixmax 3 hours ago 7 replies      
It seems to me that the legal system in the US is largely broken, and that just about anyone can be sued if only you find the right grounds. Being sued and defending yourself is enormously expensive which is what patent trolls exploit.

Why not use this offensively against patent trolls? Find all sorts of ways to take them to court, the American legal seems to have plenty of opportunities in that regard. There are some problems with standing, but I'm sure that a concerted effort could be effective.

Sue them into the ground with guns blazing. Sue them for everything from not upholding workers rights, to misleading advertising and spelling mistakes. Make them taste their own medicine.

The effort could be crowdsourced.

suprgeek 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome Principled Stand by Newegg!This is one of the reasons to support buying from them.

However this only underscores how easy it is to sue over flimsy patents and how expensive and time-consuming it is to go after and shut down these horrible trolls.Add to this the fact that Patent reform was killed in the Senate by Pat Leahy & Harry Reid (Both of whom are notorious supporters of trial lawyers & pharma) and it is a net loss for the tech industry this week

miles 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Despite rarely buying from NewEgg (outside of the continental US shipping is a bear), I'm signing up for their Premier membership simply to support them in the fight against patent trolls. Their product photos and customer reviews have also offered a lot of value to me over the years.
slaven 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel it's really important for us, as consumers, to support companies like Newegg. This strategy is really risky for them (despite all the good PR it brings).

It's easy for patent trolls to just move onto different targets and avoid suing combative companies like Newegg, but if we vote with our dollars maybe more companies will see that they too should take a stand.

TheMagicHorsey 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
Lee is a hero. Most patent lawyers talk in very measured tones when it comes to patent trolls, because they don't want to foreclose the possibility of feeding at the money faucet themselves.

Lee doesn't give a fuck. He straight up calls them thieves and asshats. Baller status.

thedaveoflife 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The lesson from this article: PR can be an effective legal deterrent. Publicize your victories.
tdicola 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow I love that they're taking a stand, and got quite a laugh out of the image. Definitely makes me want to support Newegg as a customer much more in the future.
danieltillett 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know why these cases are so expensive to defend? They can't be that complex given the troll basically has nothing. Could you not just hire a junior lawyer out college for next to nothing and put them in charge of running all the defences?
ArtDev 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a longtime customer of Newegg. No where will you find product reviews written by such a dedicated base of geeks. Newegg customer service is also really really good. I buy virtually all of my hardware on Newegg, even if its a few dollars more.That said, I am an even more loyal customer after reading this article.
takinola 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that there is a good way for the industry as a whole to address the issue of patent trolls without waiting for legal reform by attacking the economics of the business.

Trolls make money by simply1. Amassing patent portfolios (the only real fixed costs for this business)2. Sending infringement letters to victims (sorry, targets)3. Walking to the bank to cash the checks of companies who cannot afford a legal battle.

Once a troll goes to court, the economics of the business start to fall apart as the legal fees add up and eat into profits. Also, they risk invalidating their patents which jeopardize future revenue streams.

It should be possible to create an alliance of companies (Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft are obvious candidates) that have an interest in a strong ecosystem of innovation to put together a fund that makes legal defense grants available to anyone in the mobile/web space who can demonstrate they have a plausible defense case. The amount needed would not be large (less than $20 million a year should be sufficient to cover the entire industry) since just the fact that every kid on the playground now has the ability to face up to the bullies will reduce the bad behavior considerably.

onedev 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is so beautiful, I am going to support the hell of out Newegg extra deliberately from now on (e.g. buying stuff even if it's more expensive, takes longer shipping).

I absolutely love this. Lee Cheng, rock on!

hkmurakami 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally, I love the fact that this title evokes the "Don't mess with Texas" line, given that it's the East Texas courts that aid patent trolls so greatly.
finkin1 2 hours ago 0 replies      
As the CEO of a small 5-person startup, getting sued by a patent troll scares the shit out of me. Seeing Newegg take it to these asshats puts a grin on my face. I'll be voting with my dollars by shopping at Newegg.
swang 3 hours ago 2 replies      
NewEgg and Nintendo seem to be the only companies willing to actively fight patent trolls. Anyone else?
ajju 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well done Newegg. From now on, Anytime I buy electronics, i am going to check Newegg first.
hollerith 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Right now was a good time for me to learn that Newegg takes a principled stand against patent trolls because I've been thinking of starting to buy from Newegg because I keep on hearing bad things about how Amazon treats its employees.
us0r 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Acacia Research has been at this for a long time now. I remember when they went after porn. They claimed to own streaming media and thought the adult industry would settle. While some did, one company took them up and won. If I remember he said it cost them $500k to defend.
sgdesign 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> Thanks to the efforts of Lee Cheng and his legal team, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a trial court to reconsider its earlier denial of Neweggs request for attorneys fees and costs in the patent infringement lawsuit brought on by SUS.

Wait, so what did the trial court conclude? Are they making the troll pay or not? I feel like I'm missing something?

Also, isn't it worrying that they had to appeal in the first place?

heyheyhey 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> Most companies choose not to recover their legal fees in patent suits because prevailing defendants are required to demonstrate that a plaintiff acted in bad faith. This is extremely difficult to prove and its usually easier to just walk away and count your losses unless your name is Lee Cheng.

Interesting. So if you're a patent troll, there is little to no downside to constantly suing companies aside from the legal fees?

zinxq 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Whenever I can, I buy from Newegg for this reason.
joshjdr 1 hour ago 3 replies      
I agree with the principle presented here... but before we all hail Newegg, I'll explain why I have not conducted business with this company since 2009...

Here is a letter I wrote Amex then, disputing a nasty transaction with this company. https://www.dropbox.com/s/8b8dg9diowqz48y/Amex%20Dispute%20R...

This is real, and I won.

arjn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Newegg is my hero!
rbanffy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Is there a "Patent Troll Response Command" to coordinate the response of companies being sued and to facilitate the creation of groups to fight such lawsuits together?
bsimpson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> "those asshats"


the_watcher 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I really wish NewEgg had shirts that looked better than the ones they sell.
shmerl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That's one of the reasons I avoid Amazon and prefer to buy on Newegg.
State of MetaFilter metafilter.com
365 points by danso  3 days ago   176 comments top 34
sinak 3 days ago 4 replies      
I've gotten far more value out of my Metafilter subscription than the $5 I originally paid for my account. It really is an excellent (and very well-moderated) community.

If you're interested, you can donate to help cover Metafilter's ongoing costs using this link:


patio11 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's not my section of the Internet most of the time, but I'm professionally obligated to know a little about it, so in case anyone here runs a massive consumer Internet property and can't make the bills with AdSense: you should strongly consider having a direct ads sales force. AdSense is very effective at fulfilling the role it was designed for, which is algorithmically filling your least valuable advertising slots. It is not good at getting top dollar for brand advertising, in fact, it is optimized in entirely the other direction. Brand advertisers sneeze out numbers which pay for the entire salary bill in a month.

This is particularly true if you have an anomalously strong community or an audience which is more valuable than "a generic Internet user in your company."

Even if you're not a massive B2C company, there are plenty of niche publishers who quietly receive $500 to $X,000 a month for each of ~6 ad placements rather than taking $125 in "webmaster welfare" from Google. At that level you don't even need a sales force -- just "your ad could be here" leading to a contact page works.

IvyMike 3 days ago 5 replies      
> Jessamyn, who has worked in some capacity on the site for almost 10 years and was instrumental in shaping the voice of Ask MetaFilter, is taking a voluntary layoff.

Holy crap. I think this is a giant mistake; IMO she's the heart and soul behind that site.

DangerousPie 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was actually surprised to hear that they are employing multiple full-time moderators for a site like this. Is there any word on how much they were spending per moderator?

When I read things like "current response times to contact form emails of less than a few minutes will increase" I am tempted to say they might have actually had too many until now, but I don't participate enough on that site to judge this.

Maybe it would pay off to invest some money in the development of better "crowdsourced moderation" features (like rating/flagging of posts) to save on staff in the long run?

mutagen 3 days ago 3 replies      
I just commented on HN yesterday on the success of Metafilter's model of charging a gatekeeper fee for posting. Maybe a one time fee is enough to keep spam at bay but not enough to pay moderators.

The bigger issue seems to be Google's algorithm changes. I don't think anyone would argue that Metafilter is a low quality site or that they should appear below some of the spammy and generally worthless sites that continue to stay near the top. Relying on ad revenue is difficult, especially when your core audience is the crowd that is typically running ad blockers and search traffic changes at the whim of a search engine.

mrbill 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't think highly enough of Matt and the staff / family at MetaFilter.

This is why:



and finally


I've made lifelong friends and had many enjoyable meetups with local folks. It's going to be hard to think of Jessamyn as a not-moderator.

ronaldx 3 days ago 2 replies      
MetaFilter is a site which I always value, when I read it, but am rarely directed to: I don't remember ever noticing it in a search engine result.

I'm sorry to hear this and I will endeavour to more actively support MetaFilter and other uniquely valuable sites in the future.

ap22213 3 days ago 3 replies      
I used to love ask.metafilter.com!

I went there almost every day, up until a couple of years ago. Around then, I sort of lost interest, as most of the popular questions became 1) Can you recommend me a recipe X for Y?, 2) I hate my life, now what?, 3) Can I ask this question so that we can all bash men?

That's just my opinion. I'm sure it's not the reason for their downfall. It does make me sad, and I hope the data doesn't disappear.

(Losing karma is worth it sometimes, to state an opinion against the masses. Political correctness be damned.)

guelo 3 days ago 4 replies      
Damn, basically fired by a computer algorithm. We are living in the future. But is Google too powerful?
distantparts 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is supposed to be a softer Panda algorithm coming soon (Matt Cutts announced it in March 2014 - http://searchengineland.com/google-working-softer-gentler-pa...). Maybe that will help?

Google definitely caused a lot of collateral damage with Panda, especially to large sites with user generated content. And unlike algorithms that target aggressive use of links or ads, it's still very unclear how to fix a site that's been hit by Panda (I should know, my car review site was hit by Panda, and never really recovered, despite 2 years of improvement work).

Now that content farms are not such a pressing problem, Google should be able to dial things back a bit, so that good sites like Metafilter aren't ranked lower than they otherwise would be.

3pt14159 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why doesn't MetaFilter update their layout / aesthetic? If google is hammering them, I'm sure a large part of it is the insta-bounces a site this old looking has.
csense 3 days ago 1 reply      
Two problems with the site that I can think of:

(1) It's somehow 14 years old and this article is #1 on HN, but somehow I've never heard of it.

(2) I haven't been able to figure out what the site actually is, or what it does. I looked at the FAQ and the orientation page on the wiki, but I still have no idea what I want to accomplish by going to the site.

Tomte 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sad to hear this.

I got into some ugly argument right on the very first try at participating in a discussion on the site, wasn't really impressed by how the mods handled it (although the one I PM'd was actually quite okay), and never really gave it another try.

I always felt like I'm really missing out and this was probably all just bad luck and a bad combination of personalities in this specific comment thread, but whenever I went back to the site those memories kind of killed the fun for me and I never commented again.


wmeredith 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a failure of Google's algorithm to recognize and rank appropriately quality web content. Shame.
franze 3 days ago 1 reply      

internal duplicate content, might not hurt (might hurt), definitely does not help.

force lowercase, always. 1 page == 1 URL, 1 URL == 1 page

always set a canonical, the canonical is content dependent, not URL dependent.

also, your tag pages are wasted, as you do not target a sensemaking phrase i.e.: "Posts tagged with lawschool" nobody searches for that.

also there is no sitemap.xml reference in the robots.txt, which is at least a warning signal.

also i got a very concerning result while doing a webpagespeed testhttp://www.webpagetest.org/result/140519_H1_10TE/1/screen_sh...i only got the first result of a tag page

i could see this with a first request no cookie (on firefox), too, this is very strange, and if this is communicated to google this will definitely lead to traffic loss. have you done an extensiv "fetch with googlebot" using webmaster tools?

my name is franz enzenhofer, i'm the most successful SEO in europe, write me a twitter message, so like now. hope you read this.

in just 5 minutes i have seen 3 warning signs, if this is all new to you, please just fire your SEO instead of your moderator staff!

nkozyra 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a major bummer, but never having delved too deeply into metafilter, it seems like it's been basically unchanged for sometime, no?

I don't believe in change for change's sake (and this juncture somewhat reminds me of where Digg was a few years back), but the whole thing seems like it could use some modernization.

Maybe it has iterated a lot and I've just missed it or not noticed through the years of my casual encounters.

jedanbik 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those who are wondering what MetaFilter is, it's a meta-filtered internet space, a well-moderated community where people can talk about things on the internet, without making it all about themselves.

The About page is a good place to learn more about the site: http://www.metafilter.com/about.mefi

petercooper 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only advertising I see on there is The Deck which is divided up over so many sites I can't imagine any of them make much money from it. If I log out, I see Adsense too, which as far as I can tell isn't a good source of returns nowadays either, it's more in the last-ditch "I can't sell advertising myself, give me anything!" school of advertising.

I think they should take the Reddit approach: gold + directly sold ads. Directly sold ads would surely make a better CPM than Adsense and it could go on all pageviews rather than just non logged in ones..

oskarth 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder where they would be today if they took a monthly or yearly as opposed to a one-time fee. It seems to me like recurring revenue would turn the main problem into keeping users, rather than recruiting them.
noelwelsh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ravelry, the social network for knitters, in its early days had several fundraisers that keep it going for a while. The amazing thing is these fundraisers (called "For the love of Ravelry") were actually organised by the community.

I think if Metafilter gave its community a chance to keep the site afloat they'd step up.

nervousvarun 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would hate to lose the Big Blue :(.

A site I've visited at least once a day every day for over a decade.

brianbreslin 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would you guys say is metafilter's core objective now? I used to read it a lot between 2004-2007, then got bored. So if you could describe metafilter & its community, how would you?
opendais 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, damn. :/

That sucks but at least MetaFilter will live on.

atmosx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry for the silly question, but what is metafilter?! Like HN for general content with a price tag?!
whoismua 3 days ago 0 replies      
A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.

Amazing power Google has. We desperately need this power distributed to 4-5 search engines, not one. I have been thinking about the changes, and I suspect that a lot of the "lost" traffic went to ads (Adwords) and YouTube. In other words it shifted from sites like MetaFilter to Google. Great ain't it? Google decides that it's own properties (where it keeps 100% of revenue) are more relevant than sites where it keep just about 30% of it. Proof for the shift are Google's own numbers: in house ad clicks have been grown by double-digits, quarter after quarter.

Oh, I have heard the "Chinese Wall," "Church and State" but frankly I no longer buy it. Something stinks , as we hear of a lot of losers and one winner, the one that also ranks.

Too many coincidences, too many punishing updates for non Google sites, and a very suspicious increase of Google's own ad clicks.

joshdance 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the only thing I know about MetaFilter is that I heard they are a well behaved community. That is it. Know nothing else about the site. What it does, why I would visit etc.
darksim905 3 days ago 4 replies      
If a site like MetaFilter is barely surviving, how is that Stack Exchange, Reddit, et al can just keep going? Is it because those sites have VC backing or roots in YC?
sergiotapia 3 days ago 2 replies      
Really sad to see that even if you 'make it' and make a lot of money, you can (and probably will) lose it all given enough time. Never put all of your eggs in one basket. :/
lectrick 2 days ago 0 replies      
So Google killed Metafilter?
Mz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Old HN discussion of mefi moderation: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1711995 I had not seen it before. I thought it might be of interest.
techaddict009 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why dont they try Adsense?
kvirani 3 days ago 0 replies      
After a heartfelt letter to the public, and layoff decisions final, you are willing to pitch in some donation? How nice.

But would have even clicked the donation link prior, even if it were a prominent "Please donate. We need it!" button?

That's the real question folks.

JDDunn9 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't realize this was a legitimate site with real users. I always thought it was just a spam site scraping from somewhere based on the horrible design and excessive ads...
massysett 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm stunned there was staff to lay off.

I've seen such disappointing vitriol in the comments of the main MetaFilter that I stopped reading it long ago. I do continue to drop by Ask, though. I'm surprised there was anything on MetaFilter that required so many full-time staff and looking back on years of reading MetaFilter still doesn't give me any appreciation for what they must have been doing. In particular, the quality of comment moderation on the main MetaFilter did not, to me, reflect the level of quality one would expect from several full-time staff.

YouTube to Acquire Videogame-Streaming Service Twitch for $1 Billion? variety.com
364 points by Ocerge  4 days ago   234 comments top 45
minimaxir 4 days ago 12 replies      
It's worth noting that Twitch partially became popular because it wasn't YouTube, and gamers could stream without content restrictions (e.g. copyright and region)

Miraculously, this could end up making YouTube comments even worse.

arrrg 4 days ago 3 replies      
Thats sad. Less competition, worse both for those watching and making content.

Makers of (gaming-related) content for YouTube worried about the future of YouTube have often already been relying on Twitch to provide them some stability, to stand on more than one leg. This competition also insured that YouTube couldnt do literally anything. Makers of content had a place to go if things didnt work out.

This is a potentially great move for Google and more specifically YouTube, but I dont see any upside for anyone else (ignoring those profiting from the sale for the moment).

tomasien 4 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats to Justin and everyone involved in Twitch!

As a side note: most of my friends are LoL fans, and I seriously believe professional gaming will be one of the major professional sports in the next few years, perhaps on the level of Hockey. They're super normal, social, extroverted people - yet they'll interrupt a trip to make us watch a LoL match on Twitch. They all came of it independently too.

I really believe Twitch could have been a big, independent company. They did what they thought was right and I NEVER want to be that guy that craps on acquisitions, but I wish this one hadn't happened. I was rooting for Twitch big time. Still, very happy for them, hope YouTube does this right! I assume if everyone doesn't Riot (pun intended) the technical chops at YouTube will actually make Twitch a much more pleasant place.

dshankar 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is now probably Y Combinator's largest acquisition!
Maarten88 4 days ago 5 replies      
Compared to recent other aquisitions, 1 billion somehow seems like a bargain. Twitch has clear potential to play an important role in the future in TV and entertainment. Compare that to i.e. Snapchat...
tpeng 4 days ago 0 replies      
WSJ confirms talks -- "early stage" "deal isn't imminent"


tjmc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow - what an amazing ride to acquisition. To think it all started when Justin strapped a camera to his head! Congrats guys!
smoyer 4 days ago 3 replies      
My son watches a lot of Starcraft tournaments on Twitch and his immediate response was that YouTube might actually improve the infrastructure so that they could handle streaming to everyone who wants to watch.
Nanzikambe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Twitch is massive in the Eve Online community along with other MMOs precisely because it isn't Youtube and allows streamer to play whatever background music they chose.

I can a fairly substantial move away from it if Youtube begin applying the policy that removes all audio, if even a snippet of something copyrighted is detected.tracks for

owenwil 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is disappointing. YouTube's 'community' is extremely toxic, I can imagine if Twitch is rolled into it, it'll die a long, slow death.
burritofanatic 4 days ago 0 replies      
One summer night in 2007, I found myself playing poker with Justin Kan in a living room of the "Y-Combinator" building in San Francisco. Emmett Shear may have been there, but amongst the crowd in the living room was Steve Huffman, who was playing around with a new electric guitar, and Alexis Ohanian who was doodling on paper. I didn't know what reddit was at the time, nor did I know that the acquisition by Conde Nast had occurred -- I only connected the dots a several years later.

After seeing this headline, I can't help but think that the power of networks is real, as is the results of deliberate, focused dedication to one's direction and craft. Pretty awesome stuff, congratulations!

robryan 4 days ago 1 reply      
If they do acquire Twitch I hope that they still let it run separately and just improve the back end (as while it has improved it still lags for a lot of people around the world).

I worry if they tried to roll it into youtube that it would turn people away. Their numbers are pretty dependent on a small number of League/ Dota/ Hearthstone and a few other games casters and steamers.

bobbles 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how companies like Sony feel about this considering a part of their service is now owned by Google.
dang 4 days ago 1 reply      
Since this is unconfirmed, we added a question mark to the title.
scotty79 4 days ago 2 replies      
Semi-related question... Do you know who came up with an idea of allowing companies to own other companies (and when)?
Orangeair 4 days ago 4 replies      
Why on Earth would Twitch let themselves be bought by a company that was in the news just a few months ago for systematically destroying the Let's Play community?
sergiotapia 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hate YouTube with a passion, this is terrible news for Twitch users. YouTube is absolutely dreadful and makes design decisions that just go against common sense. This is a terrible loss. :/

Will I still be able to see Twitch streams on my PS4? Blergh.

programminggeek 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that YouTube is acquiring Twitch and not Google. I realize that's sort of a smallish point, but it's interesting how that might be announced officially. Google obviously owns YouTube, but in terms of branding and identity and control, it's interesting.
nedwin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Justin Kan = 2 acquisitions in 2014. Not a bad result.

Has anyone else done that?

mhartl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, congrats to the Twitch team!
wildmXranat 4 days ago 1 reply      
Time for for Twitch V.2. in my opinion.

There is so much copyrighted material on Twitch streamed by users, whether it games, music etc that it would throw youtube TM-auto filter into overdrive.

bdz 4 days ago 1 reply      
You now need a Google+ account to spam Kappa

And in before every popular channel gets shut down for copyright infringement...

tomasien 4 days ago 0 replies      
This tweet from a friend I assumed hated YouTube and loved Twitch sums up why this might actually be a home run https://twitter.com/macpheed/status/468237136882597888
trevmckendrick 4 days ago 3 replies      
Was Twitch a YC company?
tomeric 4 days ago 1 reply      
Twitch has rapidly become the site I stay on the longest, mostly for Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering streams. It's the first time I enjoy watching a "sport" live. Just a few hours ago I decided to pay for a Twitch account in order to not see ads, something I wish YouTube would allow me to do (I don't want to use AdBlock, because I think it's unethical).

I hope that if this is true, it's a feature that YouTube will copy and not one that will be disabled in the future.

vdaniuk 4 days ago 3 replies      
If confirmed, this would definitely be a smart decision. Twitch will be extremely important in ecosystem development as e-sports break in the mainstream worldwide. Lots of engaged eyeballs.

Google near monopoly on online video market bugs me though, community at large would benefit from multiple players and more competition.

KalobT 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of people are saying this is a bad move because insert reason that contradicts YouTube's existence. But consider Tumblr's sale to Yahoo! and nothing changed. Google bought YouTube when Google has 1% of the internet traffic. YouTube already had 6% [2006] (and is the worlds most popular site per unique visitors).

To be honest, I'm surprised MSFT didn't try to buy them first.

J_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone roughly know what Twitch's revenue/profitability is? I know that they're pretty profitable, but I'm not sure to what extent.

1 billion USD seems somewhat low considering Snapchat was valued at 3.5 billion, and I'm pretty sure their revenues are non existent in comparison to Twitch's revenues.

karangoeluw 4 days ago 2 replies      
> Reps for YouTube and Twitch declined to comment.

Yeah. I call this just a rumor.

cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this labeled a "YouTube acquisition" instead of Google?
free2rhyme214 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an idea: Google buys Twitch and shuts it down. Thus making people go directly to YouTube to stream.

But something more realistic is they buy Twitch and then integrate it into YouTube so everyone has to use YouTube to stream everything. Smart.

rinon 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have any other confirmation of this? Seems like a crazy rumor, but... maybe?
relampago 4 days ago 0 replies      
After reading this headline my first reaction was a verbal "aww man!" I don't really know why. Is it that I don't trust google? Maybe, but I think it's more that I like supporting the little guy and not the BnL's of the world. When I hear of an acquisition like this, thinking of Valve, I fear the brands I love will never be the same.
hookey 4 days ago 1 reply      
I know of some Twitch streamers who migrated to Twitch entirely and stopped using YouTube because of what it had turned into.Where will they go to now?
elinchrome 4 days ago 0 replies      
Newbie question here. How can youtube acquire things? Wasn't youtube acquired by google? So isn't it google acquiring?
creativityland 4 days ago 0 replies      
This will be interesting given the recent Google Plus integration into YouTube. Will the same happen to Twitch?
Natriceus 3 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is that people who fled from Youtube to Twitch will just move on to other streaming sites, which in turn just helps to splitter up various communities even more.
free2rhyme214 4 days ago 0 replies      
Justin Kan is now going to be pretty rich. Good for him. Congrats!
room271 3 days ago 1 reply      
Surely this is a massive competition concern and should be blocked on such grounds?!
sjg007 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Justin and co... including ycombinator. Big exit.
firat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Twitch.tv + Google Glass will be interesting.
toastedzergling 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many more months I have until I'm required to use a Google+ login to chat on twitch.
tyrrvk 3 days ago 0 replies      
curious is Twitch is seeing the writing on the way wrt net neutrality? They see big fees incoming from the ISP's to stream their content and decide to get under Googles wing now...
benguild 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why is this worth $1bil?
vecio 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what this means to my startup Shou.TV
How I bypassed 2-Factor-Authentication on Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn shubh.am
365 points by sounds  5 days ago   143 comments top 27
Shank 5 days ago 5 replies      
I love how Google's response is akin to "well, if the password is compromised...anything is possible" logic and tagged as won't fix. Facebook and Linkedin of all people immediately triaged and started fixing the issue.

Unacceptable response from a company promoting its services as identity and communication platforms.

kabdib 5 days ago 3 replies      
Google's response _The attack presupposes a compromised password, and the actual vulnerability appears to lie in the fact that the Telcos provide inadequate protection of their voicemail system. Please report this to the telcos directly._

... is reprehensible. It's a problem with the design as a whole, Google's customers are going to experience the flaw, and just passing the buck doesn't make the problem go away. I'm really disappointed in Google.

jameshart 5 days ago 1 reply      
Seems to generally demonstrate that sending a token to a voicemail is secured at best by voicemail PIN; he's demonstrated effectively that it certainly doesn't require possession of the phone. That turns two factor authentication -something you know, something you have - into 'wish-it-was-two-factor-authentication' - something you know, and something else you know.

Sounds like the right approach is indeed to not give away 2fa codes when the recipient hasn't demonstrated that they have the user's phone in their hand

danielpal 5 days ago 6 replies      
Sorry, couldn't resist. Shameful self-promotion, but this is why companies shouldn't implement their own two-factor authentication. Getting everything right is hard and chances are that you aren't reading or informed of the latest attacks.

At Authy we are obsessed with Two-Factor Authentication and spend a huge amount of time looking at whats happening in the ecosystem, which new attacks do we need to be aware of etc. It might look easy to build a quick two-factor authentication system, but history will repeat itself, and like passwords we'll see lots of bad and insecure implementations because its harder than what people think.

JulianRaphael 5 days ago 3 replies      
Maybe Google's incredibly irresponsible response hints at their general strategy regarding authentication on the internet: they are already pushing for the replacement passwords.I'm quoting: "[Google plans] to release an ultra-secure and easy to use identity verification platform that eliminates the need for long, user-generated passwords. Dubbed U2F (Universal 2nd Factor), the consumer-facing side of this initiative will be a USB dongle called the YubiKey Neo. Built to Googles specifications by security specialist Yubico, the YubiKey Neo is a small, durable and driverless device that requires no battery. Plugged into your computers USB port it will add a second, highly secure layer of verification when you point Googles Chrome browser to your Gmail or Google Docs account. Youll initiate the login by typing your username and a simple PIN. The browser will then communicate directly with the YubiKey Neo, using encrypted data, to authorize account access. With U2F verification, if someone wanted to login surreptitiously to your account, he or she would need to know your username and PIN while simultaneously having physical possession of that specific YubiKey Neo."

Furthermore, they had Regina Dugan, former DARPA director and now their VP of Engineering, Advanced Technology and Projects, on stage at All Things Digital in 2013 talking about electric tattoos and edible passwords which would turn your whole body into an authentication token with a 18bit ESG light signal. (Link to talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzB1EcocAF8).

So maybe they just don't care because they won't use 2-factor-authentication for much longer anyway.

crb 5 days ago 3 replies      
Would recording a DTMF tone as your voicemail greeting get around the "press any key to get your code" prompt?
cturner 5 days ago 1 reply      
A different issue - but around phone companies and security.

When your contract is running low, they call you and ask you to tell you them your security information as part of resigning you under new terms.

To emphasise: they cold call you and claim to be from the firm (which you don't know - it might be a phishing attack), and then ask you for your security details. They socialise their customers towards being vulnerable to phishing attacks.

I had this ages ago with an Australian provider (Telstra), and recently in the UK (O2).

Having followed up, I know it to be O2 policy that they are happy to do this. They... defended it on commercial grounds around practicality.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one to have though this is crazy. I raised an incident but as you'd expect it went nowhere. Has anyone else tried to pick it up with firms that do it?

Imagine a simple piece of legislation that banned calling and asking for security information. Would there be edge-cases that would make this a bad law?

rdl 5 days ago 1 reply      
I hate 2fa based on SMS or voice auth. Requiring proving control of a number is decent as an anti spam or flooding technique, but is horrible for authentication of anything high value enough to justify 2fa.

I also strongly prefer 2fa systems which allow me to enroll my own hardware token or use a software token (eg AWS IAM) vs systems which supply the seed so I can't (CloudFlare is depressingly the only service I use which still suffers from this, despite being otherwise pretty awesome.)

thret 5 days ago 6 replies      
Here's an idea: get rid of voicemail completely. The only person, the ONLY person I know who has used mine is my father, and his message is always "Sorry I missed you, call me when you can." Which I know already, thanks.
cstrat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Probably should note, for all Australian readers:

    All vulnerable endpoints for Optus Voicemail have been fixed. Including the endpoint I used to bypass their initial fix.

enscr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very comprehensive and will written post. Also, good job on the due diligence of alerting all concerned parties and posting detailed responses.

Google's reply is too complacent. Despite this being Telco's fault, Authy & Duosecurity are better at mitigating it.

izacus 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hmm around here in EU pretty much noone uses voicemail (and is disabled by default on most mobile accounts).

Is that such a huge issue in US?

raesene3 5 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting article, I've always thought that phones are one of the weaker links in the 2FA chain (but a lot cheaper than dedicated tokens).

The general use of SMS/voice mail has another potential weak point which is where people start using VOIP services a lot. If an attacker has compromised someone's client computer with the usual set of trojans and they use something like Skype to receive SMS and voice calls, 2FA which relies on tokens via SMS or voice could be easily compromised as the attacker will already have access to them..

mjs 5 days ago 0 replies      
At least if you have a recovery email address configured, you can only initiate the process that sends codes to phones via a link sent to the recovery email address.

So being able to intercept codes sent to a phone is not enough: you also need to have control over the recovery email address.

nwh 5 days ago 1 reply      
For the Optus (and their MVNO) it's fairly trivial to just nuke the voicemail completely with a call to a specific code. Seriously, who even uses it anyway? Bear in mind that in Australia we are charged a clear dollar a minute to retrieve voicemail messages.
currysausage 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, this Open Sans font is just plain unreadable on Windows (7) machines. It might be the fault of Windows' subpar font rendering, but here, the font is just too thin and blurry to be read.

Damn, how I miss the days of simple HTML pages with no styling at all. Not beautiful, but readable, usable, fast, and ... yes, somehow beautiful in a pragmatic and very nerdy sense.

monsur 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hang on. The first step of this exploit is that "The attacker logs into the victims account on a 2FA enabled web application". How does the attacker do this if the account has 2FA enabled in the first place? And if the attacker can already log into the victim's site, why are the other steps even necessary?
iLoch 5 days ago 0 replies      
I never use TFA if it's SMS based. I don't understand why every company isn't using the standard TOTP TFA with a secret key, that way I can manage who has access to my TFA codes very easily. I just scan a barcode on my phone once and I'm able to generate TFA codes for myself, what's better than that?
noisy_boy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something or the fact that once gmail password is compromised, the attacker could easily change the phone no. or set it to use Google Authenticator? Further steps regarding voicemail etc. will be moot after that.
beyondcompute 5 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, the Google's response (if it is real) to this problem is embarrassing. "It is not our problem that we practically post your credentials to open access at some occasions" [as this post shows using voicemail is akin to doing this in case of significant number of providers]. That's so disregarding to customers.
tedchs 5 days ago 0 replies      
If your telco has broken voicemail, I suggest using Google Voice and doing the dance to forward your no-answer/busy calls there.
kolev 5 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft and other services don't use 2FA for all services. I'm sure this can also be exploited to log into vulnerable service without 2FA and then being logged, change the password.

My favorite is services that use secret challenge responses to reset passwords. Some of those "secret" questions are colors, car makes, etc., which narrows down the choices to just a few.

It's unfortunate that many idiots carry the title of "software engineer" when they completely hack basic analytical thinking and basic math skills to prevent such exploits!

kolev 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can those services that require interaction be tricked by hacking the voicemail and recording a message with touch tones in them? Fortunately, most that require # also use it in voicemail greeting recording to end the recording, but the example, there are some that require any key, which probably is vulnerable.
PythonicAlpha 5 days ago 1 reply      
2FA based on mobile phones is a very weak method of security. It goes worse, when using smartphones. When you use your smartphone to access internet services (worse: make banking) secured by 2FA, your 2FA is reduced to 1FA, Trojaner prone security.

There are also already cases known, where attackers just made phone companies send a "replacement" sim card and the attackers intercept those. Thus the second factor was very simple out. Some phone companies are more aware now, but all is very much prone to social engineering.

So: 2FA is only a good idea, when using some dedicated device, else it just makes the barrier a little higher, sometimes not so much, as you think.

Siecje 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why is it a phone call and not a text message
kolev 5 days ago 2 replies      
Third comment on this post, but anyway. Why are 2FA providers still using SMS and not USSD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unstructured_Supplementary_Serv...)?
Theodores 5 days ago 0 replies      
To use an automotive analogy this is a bit like using social engineering techniques (e.g. pretending to be from the electricity company) to enter someone's house and then, once in, getting paperwork pertaining to their car. Theoretically you could then ordering a new set of keys from a locksmith, doorstepping the locksmith (when he arrives with the replacement key). You could then steal the car. Realising this stunt could work with any of the manufacturers that the locksmith can get keys for, you could then complain about how useless their cars were, that their locks were essentially broken. Of course, the attack would be entirely theoretical as the car 'stolen' would be one's own (because you were testing this attack vector so you could blog about it).

He should have got a job with News International. Essentially their 'phone hacking' relied on standard, factory set voicemail codes and their 'work' only came to disgust the general public when they deleted voicemail messages off a murdered teenager's phone, in so doing giving the parents false hope that she was still alive (as they were able to leave new messages as the voicemail inbox was no longer full).

Had the 'journalists' at News International known about this little trick for 2FA then, would they have really been able to glean anything useful? Yes, however, it would have been a one-time trick.

As soon as some junior royal (or footballer or politician) realised that they could no longer login to Facebook/whatever (because the password had been reset), they would have to reset it for themselves, plus they would have emails in their main inbox stating that their password had been changed. During this time the Facebook/whatever account could be thoroughly gone through, however, on-going access would be unlikely. So, in practical situations, e.g. getting scoops for 'newspapers', there is still limited use to this technique.

The greatest bug I never fixed (2010) makandra.com
352 points by triskweline  1 day ago   61 comments top 16
kemayo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Blizzard added a function to get around this, in response to this sort of chat-tunneling: SendAddonMessage [1]

It stops the drunk text-transform, and also doesn't have to worry about hiding the text from the channel you're trying to talk into.

Overall, Blizzard has been very good about adapting to what their addon community is trying to do. They add official support for hacks if they like what the addon does for the game, and deliberately break some if they don't like its effect.

[1]: http://www.wowwiki.com/API_SendAddonMessage

patio11 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author is the principal of the company which produces RailsLTS, which I was involved in as a customer. I wasn't aware that we shared the WoW connection, but that makes me like them even more. (I sort of hope we do not need an advisory about RCE via session cookie tampering because Rails is drunk.
twic 1 day ago 0 replies      
So getting drunk makes it harder to make new friends? Oh computers, you so crazy!
heterogenic 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can verify that, when inebriated, I am a terrible judge of character, and trust many people I shouldn't (even when my friends try to warn me off)... The number of times I've gone out questing while drunk and ended up in the company of some loser (while wearing sub-optimal gear) is uncomfortably high. The next morning my memory is almost always corrupted. Only by sheer luck have I not yet been fragged in a PvP area (and having rolled female this life, I wouldn't have much chance of defending myself.)

Clearly, this is not a bug, but a feature.

vitamen 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a Game Master we could see all these hidden communications betweens addons, and it would dwarf the amount of true communication a player would participate in. A raid group could be filled with 1,000 lines of addon chat a second, often contributing to lag that they would then complain about. Addons were powerful, but were certainly a source of many issues, and nobody wanted to hear that they needed to disable their addons to fix their issue.
akx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ahhh, how I do miss the times of WoW pre-1.3, when addons could trigger spells and such at will.

I wrote a (likely very unsuccessful, as it's now disappeared from the internets) addon called DancingGnome, that allowed one to bind arbitrary input series to spells -- it was meant to bind dance pad moves to spells. Up-Up-Up for Fireball, Down-Up for Fireblast, those were (some of) my binds.

More successfully, though, I wrote Chatr, which popped up "IM" windows for private chats.

And another addon that allowed covert chats that looked like (to people with the addon) they were being said in public channels.

Ah, those were the times (for a given value of times).

markbnj 1 day ago 12 replies      
That's a great story. How would you have fixed it without having to find another channel to transmit over? Could the plugin sense the character's condition and delay until it abated?
_asciiker_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of the most clever ways to blame a bug on booze I have ever read!
esquivalience 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this could be exploited by registering usernames that accord with the errors? The user would[0] then be trojanned in to people's friend list with a presumed level of trust they did not deserve.

Not sure if this would have any value, but I'm sure someone enterprising could find a way to exploit others trust. That's not a new concept.

[0] (This of course assumes that the only lisped-up content is the usernames, not the whole syntax, which I think is an acceptable assumption given that it's fully out of date anyway)

lugg 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a newish add on called oqueue it does a similar p2p hack to form groups across servers for rbgs and now raids (no in game feature for rbg forming). Very fun to hack the code and give yourself impossible stats for jokes and invites. Haven't done much more than that but the hack was useful when you are playing an under geared alternate character that punches way above its weight and can't find groups due to gear level.

I'm almost certain you could get yourself invites and hijack group leadership with it (the addon takes over those functions)

cryowaffle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not to be that guy, but how was this hard to find if WoW was adding the ...hic to the text? Couldn't you examine the exchange, see the ...hic and immediately recognize that would be added because drunk?
joeblau 1 day ago 0 replies      
MIM attack from the server! Great post; I've never played WOW but I can see how this would be very hard to track down.
legacy2013 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish I had thought of this when I was trying to develop a WoW Addon. I was building an advanced party gui and wanted to communicate the whereabouts of each user, but was stmyed about how to send information between each instance
chris_wot 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if there would be a way of sending drunk text that forces it to sober text?
akc 1 day ago 0 replies      
So you're saying it's a lossy format.
superduper33 1 day ago 0 replies      
PDFium: Chromes PDF rendering engine is now open-source code.google.com
350 points by andybons  1 day ago   90 comments top 18
atesti 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I found it interesting that it seems to use Antigrain by Maxim Shemanarev in https://pdfium.googlesource.com/pdfium/+/master/core/src/fxg... Chrome uses Skia). Unfortunately the author of Antigrain died: http://beta.slashdot.org/submission/3154635/rip-maxim-sheman...It's nice to see the fascinating Antigrain code to be used for PDF viewing every day!
yincrash 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's really interesting to see that there are foxit employees on the list of committers. I assume that means that it was initially a fork of the foxit PDF reader?
reedlaw 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is good news because it renders PDFs a lot faster and better than pdf.js that Firefox uses. Also, I would have to install this binary blob to get Chromium to render PDFs. It seems Chromium could easily adopt this, but I'm not sure about Firefox.
ferongr 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that this came, seemingly out of the blue, a little after it was made widely known (from the mozhacks article [1]) that Opera developers were working towards integrating pdf.js into their Chromium fork.

[1] https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/05/how-fast-is-pdf-js/

scrollaway 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought Chromium's PDF engine was based on Foxit; did they change that?

EDIT: I see there are Foxit employees in the commit list. Well, that explains that!

Anyway this is great news. Kudos Google.

By the way, for those confused, the source is not on svn like Google Code fails to communicate but on https://pdfium.googlesource.com/.

zx2c4 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great because it is now the best open-source PDF rendering library. GhostScript, Poppler, XPdf, pdf.js -- they all sort of work alright, but are pathetic compared to FoxIt, on which this source code is based. What we now have with this source is a high performance highly compliant clean codebase of C++ PDF rendering code. Excellent news. Expect lots of future PDF innovations to be based on this.
async5 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like they did it in a hurry (on the next day) just after https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/05/how-fast-is-pdf-js/ was published? Competition FTW!
wooptoo 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe this is the source of the PPAPI plugin, and not something built into Chrome.

Anyway, this is great news for Chromium, as the PDF plugin can now be shipped to distro repos.

e98cuenc 1 day ago 3 replies      
In case the authors are lurking here, what are the main differences between this and poppler?
steipete 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly no tests, no documentation (except the documentation from FoxIt). Not even source code documentation.
nppc 21 hours ago 1 reply      
For some one using PDF.js (which works great both on Chrome & Firefox) for my company's enterprise app - does this matter much ?
gkya 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Just glanced the source code, and, isn't it bad to #include "../../../sth.h"? Wouldn't it be better to set the include path while compiling and just #include "sth.h"?
crazysim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Read the description of the project. It's hosted here:


ksec 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Why did they close down something like Google Reader and Not Google Code Hosting? Do anyone actually use it?

I wish they could either make Google Code decent or simply kill it and use GitHub instead.

Is this a new implementation? Of did Foxit release it as Open Source?

ahmett 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously, releasing on Google Code Project Hosting instead of GitHub? Even CodePlex is better than that.
runn1ng 17 hours ago 0 replies      
So, apparently somebody still uses Google Code.

edit: .... just not for the actual code.

rushi_agrawal 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't it annoying to see code.google.com as the medium of sharing code? I've got so used to Github that google code seems like an old 20th century thing..
gue5t 12 hours ago 1 reply      
In typical corporate code-dump style, no README and no clear instructions on how to build or what form the output takes. I installed gyp to try it and get a variety of errors depending on what I try (the furthest I got was complaints about v8.gyp being missing; does this have to build within the Chromium source tree?). Does any Google insider want to explain their internal build practices so a mere mortal can try to compile this code?
What are common mistakes that new or inexperienced managers make? quora.com
343 points by asianexpress  3 days ago   146 comments top 32
IgorPartola 3 days ago 12 replies      
So at one point I took on a management job, stepping up from a (lead) developer. I felt like the whole thing was kind of a train wreck and I am still slowly analyzing the black box recordings from it. This was my first time having direct reports that were not one or two interns and managing a team of seven other highly intelligent people was quite a chore in itself. What bugged me is that I could never tell if the problem was the environment or something I was doing. I tried to be fair. I mentored people when I could help. I tried to not be overbearing when I had nothing to add. I present challenging problems to the people who I thought would find them interesting. I advocated for my guys to the upper management, trying to improve working conditions. I insisted on being flexible, discarding what was slowing us down, and adopting what was good. None of that seemed to help: my dev team learned to resent me for delivering the bad news (for example the dev team was the fallback for doing data entry for weeks on end when nobody else could handle it and we had no time to finish better data entry tools because of it), and my boss(es) learned to resent me for not delivering what they expected.

I know that there were quite a few problems above me. Lack of leadership carries far and wide and there was a disconnect between what the products did and what the management thought it did. Lack of money (think lack of compensation, lack of tools, lack of time for anything but immediate returns) did not help either. I do keep questioning whether I was doing all the wrong things or if I was put in a situation designed for me to fail, or perhaps both.

After I left I understand the company hired three different people to replace me: a manager, a dev lead, and a support engineer. I suppose that's some kind of a sign that I was trying to do too many things at once. Most of the engineering team also left after I did. The least I could do is give them the great recommendations they all deserved so all of them moved onto exciting new pastures. However, I cannot help but feel like I failed at this task that I felt sure I could tackle and I don't understand why.

Please excuse the rant. These types of topics always trigger those same feelings in me.

Edit: now I work as a developer on 2-3 person teams. I have no reports. I get to be productive again! I can write code that doesn't have to suck to compensate for poorly chosen deadlines. This is good for the soul. I do miss leading a team though; not managing but really leading. One of my proudest moments was when I was allowed to follow a system of estimates and sprints I put together and for 8 weeks my team delivered on schedule and exactly what was promised. That was one of my more joyful moments.

kabdib 3 days ago 4 replies      
Good managers realize they have to be managers and can't do an effective job of engineering (this is certainly true of a first-level manager with more than a few reports).

The best managers I've had have sighed wistfully and wished out loud that they could do engineering, but made a conscious decision not to. The really good managers will be very interested in how you are getting along with your career, and it will often not come as a surprise to them when it comes time for you to leave ("time to go, grasshopper").

The bad managers were bad for numerous reasons, but many of the worst were micro-managing, getting in the way, having technical arguments, dishing out unreasoned mandates to solve things one way or another, or generally trying to be Boss Engineers without actually being part of the team. Sucked hard. The times I've switched jobs underneath these bozos, I've called it "Firing my boss."

polemic 3 days ago 1 reply      
Those answers are great, but they're also very high level and general.

One of the best pieces of advice, badly paraphrased below, I've heard from a military context.

   "Any time you instruct a subordinate, you must be     prepared to deliver the same instruction every single    time they perform that action, and expect it to be     performed in that way until otherwise instructed."
This is a warning about micromanagement, flippant decisions and how to delegate. For example, if you tell someone off-hand not to bother you with X, be prepared to never be bothered with X again. If you tell someone how to shine their shoes, be prepared to tell them how to shine their shoes every single day.

Again, this is an a military context where orders flow downhill, but the same applies in other areas of business. An experienced manager knows where they need to set the boundaries within which their staff operate, with as much autonomy and initiative as possible. An inexperienced manager doesn't understand how to balance this equation.

PS if anyone has a better formulation of the above, please share =D

incision 3 days ago 2 replies      
I surely agree with most of what's posted there - a majority of it is straightforward common sense that's barely even specific to management.

"Don't procrastinate, communicate clearly" are to management what "eat less, exercise" is to losing weight or "only buy things you need, spend less than you earn" is to saving money.

The problem isn't managers that they haven't read this compilation of checklists or its equivalent in any of the thousands of management books out there.

The problem is the brokenness of management as a role in general.

Too many organizations are stuck in an broken structure which makes management the most direct if not only way to advance in terms of status, pay, autonomy or all three.

The end result are incompetent managers who need to be taught common sense or unhappy ones who are far better suited to other roles, but recognize them as dead-ends.

If becoming a manager stops being desirable for all the wrong reasons you won't have to remind your new, inexperienced managers not to be lazy or not to manage by intimidation.

sambeau 2 days ago 0 replies      
The single most common mistake I see managers making is assuming that their job is to manage the people rather than the project, closely followed by trying to micro-manage the project itself. Trust and delegation are key to all of this.

A good manager looks after a project not its people, concentrates on the big picture while letting others deal with the small details. A good manager achieves this by delegation.

Assuming you've hired the right people in the first place you should be able to let people get on with their jobs if you try to do their jobs for them you will fail through lack of expertise or lack of time.

I would add that iteration is also key - a manager should check on a regular basis that what has been planned is what is being done and that if not ensure there is time to change what is being done as early as possible. Good staff and good managers appreciate that some things will take a few iterations to get right but it is better to iterate than to take the first version of everything (and foolish to plan for this) - not iterating leads to over-design and slow progress as everyone desperately tries to second-guess all the situations their work might have to cover.

Iteration is also the best way to get a feel for individual workers' pace and abilities.

sheepmullet 3 days ago 4 replies      
Problems I found with the top answer:

Performance management: It is highly unlikely as somebody new to the team, and brand new to management, that you can work out who the high performers are and who the under performers are within the first few weeks. If you get it wrong then by making it official and documenting by email you will get the entire teams backs up.

Not explicitly managing resources: Really bad advice. How do you know what is important within the first few weeks? Often you will only have a high level view of what the team does within the first few weeks. Try and do this too quickly and again it can backfire.

mp3jeep01 3 days ago 2 replies      
When I first started work out of college I kept a notebook of "things I like/don't like" about my managers, mostly as a training piece for myself. One of the top qualities one of my managers had was his comfort level with admitting to me "I don't know the answer to that, but I think I know where we can find it".

Probably summed up as something like "check your ego at the door".This goes for not only managers, but any member of an organization -- pretending to know something when you really don't and being afraid to ask questions is a huge red flag to me for both managers and employees alike.

And back to the list, IMO that's a pretty good list, especially coming from one person's experiences.

TwistedWeasel 3 days ago 0 replies      
The hard part for me was that managing engineers takes a lot of time and energy, it's not possible to be a full time engineer and a full time manager.

Over time your understanding of the technical details of the work your team is doing will atrophy and where once you may have been an expert on all aspects of the system you must now rely on the judgement of the senior members of your team when making decisions. This is hard for a lot of people, to know that you don't know enough to make a decision and then to trust your team enough to help you make the right one.

Building that trust is important, because without it you'll make bad (or at least uninformed) technical decisions. it's easier if you moved up into a managerial role from a team you worked on instead of being hired to manage a team you just met.

ryanburk 3 days ago 3 replies      
the top answer is really well done, but lacks the gem from the second answer: "One of the major rookie mistakes I have made and see many others make is the assumption that human motivation is tied to economic outcomes"

put another way - you might have a personal ambition to have a title like "VP of Engineering" or make $500k a year, but most others don't. so if you project your motivations / world view on those who work for you, you will have a bad time building a great team with a great culture. knowing what your people value is really important and will help you get the best work from your team.

hessenwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are some old IEEE articles on management for techies that, in my humble opinion, are simply brilliant.

Delegation: (usually the first failure I see)http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art5.html

And the rest:http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/index.html

vidar 3 days ago 1 reply      
My experience is that the more experienced the manager, the more he will remove himself from all conversations, the rookies always talk about themselves.
pascalo 3 days ago 0 replies      
What really always rubbed me up the wrong way was approaching me to come up with the question "OK, how long then?". Because "managers" tend to ask this when neither scope nor current state of the project are visible, and are then getting offended when one points out to them that it's an impossible question. They then usually proceed to ask you to just make something, clearly demonstrating that they don't want to improve the disaster state of the project or care for your opinion in any shape or form, but instead prefer some randomly made up number.

So whenever I hear this question in that very particular tone, I already plan my exit strategy because I know it's going to be a train wreck.

deathanatos 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Lowering the bar - Inexperienced managers have low standards, or lower their standards, in an effort to make a hire. Good managers know that they're much better off keeping a high bar and waiting for the right candidate.

I'm facing this argument right now, and it's unclear to me on what my manager's opinion on this is. I'd rather not trade quality. While I agree with the quoted answer, I can't think of a good argument to back it up, and the answer doesn't provide one. Can someone give something more concrete here, especially something more concrete than, "well, a weak hire will cost you more in training / patience / bringing them up to speed / constant mentoring"? (or is that really the argument?)

abdinoor 3 days ago 1 reply      
A number of the points in the top answer are really symptoms of not being aware of what is going on with your people. One of the fatal flaws (for the manager if not the company) I have observed in poor managers is a lack of spending time with the team members.

At least in tech, many managers are promoted from individual contributor roles and they only carve out a little time to be a manager. Usually that means they don't know what is going on, and when issues do come to their attention those issues have been festering for quite a while.

bjelkeman-again 3 days ago 2 replies      
I probably have made all of those mistakes at one time or another. Some of the mistakes where bad enough to nearly sink a company. Hopefully I make fewer of them now.

It is humbling to have a great team actually letting you manage them, especially when you mess up and the tell you and they let you learn from your mistakes.

When you have teams like that it is easy to manage. If you do, take really good care of your team. They are worth it.

edderly 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the biggest mistake new managers make is to forget that you are principally managing people. Even though day to day there's a lot of email, meetings, project management and office politics it pays to remember that you succeed through your staff as much if not more than through your personal efforts.
emilioolivares 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mistake #1: It's not about you, it's about them.Mistake #2: Not having frequent one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. For this I recommend you listen to: http://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics. One-on-ones are considered the core of the management trinity.Mistake #3: Not giving timely, frequent feedback.Mistake #4: Not coaching your team to help them grow.Mistake #5: Not wanting to let go of your individual contributor responsibilities.


Tactic 2 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest mistake I see managers make is that they think they are there to deliver completed projects to upper management. They are playing project manager when they should be playing people manager.

A good manager's job is to make sure their direct reports have everything they need to get their job done. The proper information, tools, training, time, motivation, etc. If they have the proper staff the rest of the success will stem from that.

I have employed that as a manager and expect it as a direct report and have only ever seen success when it is employeed both in the military and the private sector.

zhte415 2 days ago 0 replies      
A handful:

Not delegating.

Not working through others.

Not managing a group's resources.

Promoting one's self while failing to support one's boss.

Appropriating others' work as one's own.

Not growing relationships with other groups in a non-protective, non-clique, non-silo'd way.

Following, rather than questioning, organisational policies (i.e. not managing upwards).

blisterpeanuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Micromanagement is the #1 problem I've seen with inexperienced managers (and some experienced ones, too). I'm surprised the article didn't mention that, although a couple of the commenters did, at least.

You have to hire good people that you can trust to do the job, up front. Then you have to trust them to do the job. It's as simple as that.

Dolimiter 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can't we ban links to the Quora website? It doesn't let people read the page without logging in.
JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 0 replies      
OP lists all the issues from the point of view of management.

From the employee point of view, here are some common manager problems:

Employee comes in earlier, leaves earlier than manager: manager assumes employee is only working the hours they see; they act on this and insult/piss off the employee with their assumption of slacking.

Manager optimizes group for his own metrics e.g. maximize resources/minimize commitments to increase likelihood of meeting all objectives. Company loses (spending way too much for the minimal accomplishments); employee loses when manager won't permit taking on anything but the most mundane projects.

Manager cherry-picks opinions in group to justify the approach manager Wants to take, instead of letting the experienced employees make their own plan. Managers don't 'get to' make decisions; they are supposed to gather information to make the Right decision.

alien3d 3 days ago 0 replies      
Software development.1. Don't have experience programming(medium is okay for fast debug).2. Don't have experince in meeting room.AltitudeE.g don't play with your phone in meeting room don't voice opinion.. It you don't talk how people would knew it ?3. Follow Up Client And Vendor .Some new born or over experience take think as simple.(Serious Issue).4. No Money Manager.Just wanted to request people work for them without money(Serious issue).

There's a lot to write here.. but above seem important to me dealing with problematic manager.

iQuercus 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Thinking too small - A successful leader is going to create growth and opportunity for their team. A leader who thinks small is unlikely to do either. Instead of planning how to grow your business 100%, plan how to grow it 10x or 100x."

This attitude could potentially backfire. It can lead to a closed-loop that eventually results in dishonesty to meet unattainable numbers. Better to plan growth empirically and adjusting for things like regression to the mean at the team and company level.

peterwwillis 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish there was a way to share this list with a manager without seeming like a dick.
snarfy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Praise publicly, criticize privately (with the person you are criticizing, not behind their back).
Shivetya 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not knowing when someone has to go or worse, having the confidence to make them go. Far too many cannot organize their thoughts properly to justify it to themselves or even HR.
novaleaf 2 days ago 1 reply      
off topic, but wow, quora is actually letting me read past the first answer without logging in. they are finally wising up after I ignore the call-to-signup for the umpteenth time?
doxcf434 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I didn't see on any of the lists is ethics. Truly world class managers and team builders are also very careful about ethics, and see it as more important than their project, job and career.
jaunkst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Listen. Don't think. Keep it simple stupid. Let the leads lead, and we'll just listen.
himanshuy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wish, I could post it on my company's intranet.
klodolph 3 days ago 1 reply      
In other news, Quora doesn't blur out the second answer and ask for you to log in?
OpenStreetMap is now navigation-ready stevecoast.com
338 points by dalek2point3  3 days ago   131 comments top 29
schabernakk 3 days ago 5 replies      
I tried switching to OSM in an effort to get away from google maps. People always say 'OSM is consumer ready' but forget that OSM first and foremost is the dataset. And as far as i am concerned, there is no good maps app on the iOS appstore that even comes close to google maps. and i think i tried pretty much all relevant ones. skobbler (which i just found out is part of coast) seems to be the most polished. but as long as there is no unified search and you have to enter streetname/adress/city in seperate boxes which excludes searching for the names of buildings (for example university buildings) for which the names clearly exist in the database and are shown onthe map, i have no choice other than switch back to google.

i really hope this changes soon and the UI/apps catch up to the greatness that is OSM.

edit: i have an iphone and although i live in canada i still use the german appstore (CC requirement).

that's why i can't comment on the app the original post was about as it's only available in the US store. it was more of a general remark about my frustration with the state of apps using the osm dataset. I want to get rid of google maps and I feel the maps part of osm would be ready for that. I can tolerate if the commercial store data is not as up2date. But if the general usuability suffers, i rather opt for gmaps.

thrownaway2424 3 days ago 2 replies      
Android really needs to do something about the permissions model. This app asks for every permission in the book, but I have no way to tell if the app will use these permissions for a good reason.
pedrocr 3 days ago 2 replies      
>were pumping all the good stuff that we can back in to OSM. This takes time due to OSMs consensus on not importing the masses of fixes we generate.

This seems strange. Anyone know the story?

Justsignedup 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm just gonna point out something: OSM is 10 years old, and after countless hrs and investing its finally ready for prime time. People who think a new internet is coming via some disruptive technology need to read this article and realize that real, long-term, awesome change takes time.
dewey 3 days ago 3 replies      
Not really related to the post but they are talking about making OSM cosumer-ready and every time I try to use OSM instead of Google Maps I realise it's just not on the same level yet.

It doesn't have to be on par in terms of error correcting input or location based search result because they just don't have the data on me like Google does (locations close to my work place, home,...) but even just the basic task of searching for my street on OSM [0] will give me a bunch of information the end-user doesn't really need to know like:

- tags

- created by

- version

- changeset #

- location ID

Is there a "cleaner" more consumer friendly web interface for the maps, maybe with a prettier mapstyle like the ones used in apps like Foursquare (afaik they are using OSM)?

[0] http://www.openstreetmap.org/

ronaldx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Privacy policy says:

"Personal information does not include anonymous or aggregate information, which after processing may not be associated with a specific person or entity."

But I find this a dishonest definition of personal information.

The concept of the app depends on personal journeys being recorded and stored ("indefinitely"), which would very often and very easily identify a person via their home or workplace. There should be consideration for this in the privacy policies.

riquito 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Feel sorry for how proprietary maps are currently built. When theres a new road built, they all have to scramble to add it.

I'm not into the business of maps, but don't the major players pay Nations/Cities or third parties that have the latest data about roads to be promptly updated? (whoever build the roads must have the data, and they'll be happy to sell it I suppose).(ok, probably every city uses a different format or has the maps on paper...)

Then we can talk about if this data should be free or not.

janus 3 days ago 3 replies      
What's a good navigation app for Android that works outside the US? (Scout doesn't)

I have a couple of apps in my phone (Navigator and Waze), but the UI is really cumbersome compared to Google Maps. I use them because OSM maps are better in small tows in my area than Google Maps, plus you can keep offline maps.

netcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
"This item cannot be installed in your device's country"


clarry 3 days ago 5 replies      
So for those of you who live in the US, congrats.

The situation in my area is nowhere near as good. I've got a couple Garmin GPSes as well as a GPS capable phone, and I would just love to map every road and path in a 100km radius from home. Unfortunately all the mapping software I've tried is so horribly slow I'd have to buy a new computer to be able to do much at all with the data I can collect.

cheetahtech 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have totally converted to OSM with my startups.

We use it soley for all our mapping needs and it does quite well.

See it in action: https://rdnation.com/roller-derby-leagues

thrownaway2424 3 days ago 2 replies      
I installed this app and it seems fairly gross. Is it really just for driving through places and not stopping? Because it seems to have close to zero points of interest. In my town it is incapable of finding any restaurant or other eatery which is not part of a huge national chain like McDonalds.
GvS 3 days ago 2 replies      
"US and on iOS only"
whatts 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well, skobbler did all this for iOS and Android. And TeleNav bought skobbler for $24M in January [1] -- so it's obvious why TeleNav might be able to do this now.

But will skobbler support stop? Why switch from skobbler to TeleNav's own products at all? With skobbler, you can get your whole continent's maps for roughly $7.50.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/30/telenav-buys-skobbler/

mjcohen 3 days ago 1 reply      
And then they charge you US $25 per year or $5 per month for maps!!!!

I'll stick with Co-pilot and Navigon. At least when you get the maps they are yours forever.

Semaphor 2 days ago 0 replies      
OSM has better maps than Google in my 200k pop town in the north of Germany. Recently google even tried to have me walk through a closed company to get where I wanted to go.

Sadly searching sucks (unless you know the specific address) and the reviews for the international scout app make me very wary of using it.

throwaway7767 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will the routing data be fed into OSM, or will telenav be building their own closed routing database that they use in conjunction with OSM? I didn't see an answer to that on the linked page.
mauriziopd 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those looking for a good Android app that uses OSM. I use Mapfactor Navigator and think it is great (I've used it in Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Crozia). It let's you use it with OSM data or Tom Tom, you can use Google for address search and use it offline if you need.

I'm not affiliated, just a happy user


tgb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Play store says the app is incompatible with both my 4.4 nexus 7 and my aging gingerbread phone, but doesn't say why. Anyone know?
twothamendment 3 days ago 2 replies      
Consumer Ready? It is about 8 years behind in my neighborhood. My street doesn't exist and it there in 2006.

Google has a street view of it and has been able to find my address since 2007.

cnbuff410 3 days ago 0 replies      
So the more we use this app, the more contribution I can make back into OSM AUTOMATICALLY, is that correct?

Hopefully they will release Android version app soon.

zmh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I overlook? Are there turn-by-turn navigation api yet? Over the last year, every time I check it seems to be not available yet. I believe most or all streets in OSM only support up to street level rather than street NUMBER level. Well, please point me to some counter-examples if I am wrong.
chromelyke 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you asking about Global options, it sounds like this will happen over time per the press release - http://www.telenav.com/about/pr/pr-20140519.html
justizin 3 days ago 3 replies      
Scout app is nice, but no cycling routes - something only Google seems to do. :/
gchokov 3 days ago 0 replies      
The last I saw a similar post, couple of months ago, the map was not ready in my home area. Now tough, it's pretty advanced. Awesome progress!
thegeomaster 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hope they start doing Europe soon, OSM datasets definitely need some love over here. And a big respect to all the people who made this possible.
leccine 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am glad to see OSM getting more popular because Google Maps is just getting worse by every day. The new WebUI is absolutely terrible, I had to permanently disable it because I could not even use my laptop while a GMap tab was open. They removed features I used and added many I don't care. On the top of these, the routing algo in GMaps is just laughable. It does not have the updated version of no left and no right turns, if you have 2 routes one with no highway one with highway it is going to pick the highway one even though it is 2 times the distance and so on. The traffic information is pretty much useless, only got better when they merged in Waze information but still bad.
chatman 3 days ago 0 replies      
How is this such a big news? There is no navigation option in default openstreetmap.org experience. And there have been several other navigation/routing websites based on OSM data before. I sense nothing new here.
Pain we forgot lighttable.com
328 points by Morgawr  5 days ago   153 comments top 26
weland 5 days ago 8 replies      
I also wish that programming were a lot different today than it was when I started learning it. That being said, a lot of this article's points are things I've heard before. They led to the development of Visual Basic & co., mostly by people who had no contact with the Smalltalk and Lisp environment in the 80s, while people who did were shrugging and throwing tantrums like WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU FUCKING LIKE IT TEN YEARS AGO?

IMHO, all these things went down to the bottom of history because things like these:

> Anon the intern needs to be able to open up Programming and click 'New Web Form'

are adequate for people who usually don't program, and extremely inadequate for people who usually do. Generally, and for good reasons, programmers will dislike a tool that hides implementation details for ease of operation. Past a certain level of complexity, the time spent manually doing the right cruft becomes significantly smaller than the time spent manually cleaning up after a smart tool.

I sympathize with Anon the intern, but perhaps he should rethink his expectations about complexity; if discoverability is a problem, perhaps he could switch to something that's better documented?

And at the risk of sounding like an elitist schmuck who rants about how things were back in his day, maybe he ought to start with something other than web programming. The size and complexity of that tech stack is humongous, to the extent that a large proportion of those who use it don't understand it more than two layers of abstraction down. Programs are also hard to pack and the environment that runs them is hard to setup. Because it involves at least two servers, possibly with several add-ons in order to allow the server-side languages to run, learning at least three languages (assuming server-side JS is an option), two of which (HTML and CSS) aren't quite being used for their original purpose. This is a beginner's nightmare and it has exactly nothing to do with the development tools.

And then there are things that are far harder to solve than they originally seem:

> I want to just type 'email' and see a list of functions and libraries relating to email.

Related how :-)? Should MIME-related functions, needed to reason about attachments, also come up here? HTML parsing/converting, in case you need to deal with HTML email? Information cluttering does nothing to alleviate the opposite problem of information breadth: if Anon the intern's problem is he doesn't know how to Google for libraries or how to make efficient use of documentation, an IDE that presents him with a gazillion of possibly related things won't help him. Especially when, like all beginning programmers, one of his main difficulties is correctly defining the problem he's working on which, in turn, makes it likely for the solutions presented by the IDE to be nowhere even close to the one he needs, because the IDE (like Anon himself) thinks Anon is trying to solve another problem.

There is, on the other hand, a lot more truth in this:

> Tightening the feedback loop between writing code and seeing the results reduces the damage caused by wrong assumptions, lightens the cognitive load of tracking what should be happening and helps build accurate mental models of the system.

I do think that the real resolution to this problem is writing simpler programs whose state is easier to track. On the other hand, programming tools today suck considerably at presenting program meaning. Things like evaluating what an expression comprising entirely of constants, or at least evaluating it based on the default values of the variables involved, are well within reach for today's tools, and yet programmers' calculators are still employed because 99% of the available IDEs couldn't evaluate ADDR_MASK & IO_SEGMENT if the life of every kid in Africa depended on it.

This is wicked cool: http://repository.cmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1165&c... . However, I also find myself thinking that the very fact that we need debuggers that are this smart is proof enough that we don't reason about our programs well enough. Except for the fringe case of having to quickly debug a (possibly horrible) codebase I haven't written, I'd much rather prefer being good enough a programmer to avoid the need for a debugger that can tell me why foo is not 8 despite the fact that I fucking said foo = 8 ten lines above, than being a programmer with good enough tools to help me when I'm stupid.

ggchappell 5 days ago 1 reply      
What a wonderful article.

I'm not allowed to forget a lot of this pain. I teach programming, so I see it anew every semester.

And of course I still experience much of it in my own work. So, yes, let's deal with these issues better.

One little disagreement. In the "What?" and "Why?" sections the writer present some ideas for debuggers. While these are good ideas, I prefer to think of the inadequacies of existing debuggers as motivation for good practices: modularity, loose coupling, unit testing, etc. Certainly, it would be nice (say) to be able to examine the entire state of a running program easily. But I would rather code in such a way that I do not need to.

So to those who would write the World's Greatest Debugger, I say, "Good for you." But even better would be to turn your efforts to producing languages, libraries, frameworks, and programming environments that make such a debugger superfluous.

gedrap 5 days ago 1 reply      
I totally agree. It's true even for us, experienced Web guys (and gals), in this mess ruled by packages and their managers.

For example, I am trying to make my first Rails app outside a tutorial.

Okay, I want to use bootstrap. Should I use gem? Guess that's the ruby way. Okay seems like there a few of them. Tried one, another one. Doesn't work. Don't know why, since I am just copying half-cryptic stuff because I am new to Rails.

A friend suggests to use Bower. It's easier. Right! I had totally forgotten about bower, it rocks! Google: bower rails. Okay, there is that thing sprockets which I apparently need to configure. Googled, a few blog posts opened, they offer a bit different advice each, let's try. Doesn't work. Nope. Not really... Google: bower rails bootstrap sprockets. And yay! Works.

Two hours later, I have included Bootstrap. Properly.

cclogg 5 days ago 1 reply      
Oh man, I've definitely felt this pain many times lol:

"The samples will be missing lots of implicit information such as how to install the necessary libraries and how to deal with missing dependencies and version conflicts. Transcribing and modifying the examples may lead to bugs that suck up time. It's not terrible, mostly thanks to sites like stackoverflow, but it's still a lot of unnecessary distractions from the task at hand."

So many times, the actual programming isn't tough, it's just getting all of the stuff around it setup that is hard.

fragmede 5 days ago 3 replies      
> I want to just type 'email' and see a list of functions and libraries relating to email.

Do people even remember what life was like before Google?

I type 'email python' and get back a link to an email module. Am I being closed-minded in thinking that can't get much easier?

Yeah, I need to understand a bit as to how email works, smtp and imap/pop and what not, and how to send vs receive email, but some level of understanding is just necessary.

ilaksh 5 days ago 2 replies      
Can't be sure but it seems like the surveying has resulted in most of the right conclusions and the right direction for the project.

HOWEVER, I still think most everyone is missing the REAL issue here. As evidenced by the powerful tools cited in this article that address various aspects of the "programming" problem, there have been numerous efforts to move the state-of-the-art in software development forward. And to a great degree those efforts have _proven_ quite a few superior paradigms.

And yet, we haven't seen those new paradigms become truly mainstream for most programmers. Why? I do NOT believe it is because the approaches haven't integrated the right new concepts, because there are so many existing useful tools combining many different new ideas effectively which have failed to become mainstream among programmers.

I think many of those new approaches could and should have become normal operating mode for programmers.

I think the reason they did not is this: the core definition of "programming" (and by extension "software engineering" etc.) is an antagonistic and largely manual process of creating complex textual source code that can be used to describe system behavior. Period.

For example, if I want to call myself a web "developer" I DARE NOT use an interactive GUI tool to generate and maintain the source code for my web site. Web developers will always say, for example, they avoid this because the source code generated that way is less maintainable by hand. In many cases that may be true. In some cases with advanced code generation it is not. Regardless, I don't believe that is the actual reason. Its just a rationalization.

What do we call someone who's entire job entails creating a web page using a graphical user interface? In other words, this is a hypothetical person who has found a hypothetical GUI tool that can accommodate all of his web site design and implementation needs without any manual edits to source code. If he builds a web site or web application this way, and writes zero lines of code, do we refer to him as a very smart and advanced web "developer"? Or do we call him a web designer or simply a WordPress user (for example)?

We do NOT refer to him as a web "developer". He has no right to refer to himself as a "developer" or "programmer" because he has not wrestled through an antagonistic manual process to create complex textual source code. And that's what people are not understanding. The reason we don't call him a programmer is NOT because he didn't create an effective program or website. Its because the way he did it wasn't hard enough and doesn't match our outdated definition of what "programming" is.

To create a POPULAR system (among "real" "programmers") that makes programming more practical or easier using new paradigms, you must either redefine programming to include the possibility of new paradigms and a non-antagonistic process, or perhaps somehow trick programmers into thinking what they are doing is actually harder than it is. Maybe if there are a few places to type a command to generate source code, that will be sufficiently complex to still be considered "programming".

If you are too successful without doing those things then you will just have another tool that only "users" or "beginners" would ever admit to using.

unwind 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was somewhat surprised, but very happy, to see Verse mentioned in this context (although he did get Eskil's last name wrong, it's "Steenberg").

I co-developed the initial version of Verse with Eskil; I think it was a bit before its time perhaps. It was hard to get real traction for it, but at least the things Eskil has gone on to build on top have gotten some real attention. Great, and very well deserved!

shortstuffsushi 5 days ago 1 reply      
The analogy to me seems similar to that of programmers and compilers. I want to write programs to do xyz, but I don't particularly care to know the lower-level to machine level implementation. Instead, I know a roughly-english set of instructions to tell the compiler what I want to do, and it takes care of the rest for me.

Could it not be possible to take this even further, to the point where I say "I want to do ..." and all of the "code," be it high or low level is generated for me.

I realize making something capable of this level of abstraction would be incredibly difficult, but it would certainly be fun to try.

mkozlows 5 days ago 0 replies      
Articles like this one annoy me, because it's easy to diagnose big problems -- here, watch me do it: "Why should compilers choke if you forget a semicolon? If they can diagnose a syntax error, can't they also fix it? Can't functions be smarter about seeing when they're used improperly and tell you while you're writing the code instead of when you're running it? Why can't the code be understandable to anyone who knows English?"

What's hard -- and often impossible -- is fixing those big problems, because a lot of times they're genuinely intractable; and when they're not, they're often so difficult that they might as well be.

So just sitting around and complaining about them sounds insightful, but it doesn't really get anything done. And yeah, I know that they're allegedly working on "fixes" for these issues, but based on the track record so far (LightTable promised all sorts of revolutionary views of what an IDE could be; it's delivered... not a whole lot of revolution), I don't have any faith that Aurora is going to amount to much either.

And I don't want to be too negative, because sometimes a previously-intractable problem turns out to now be tractable, and it takes someone who was willing to question long-accepted pain to find that out. So I'd be pleasantly surprised if this project delivered something that had even as much effect as the development of, say, git or xunit. But I'm not holding my breath.

tim333 4 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding Anon the intern wanting to build lunch_app I've been in a similar position learning programming from the basics and wanting build some apps. I'll put in a vote for web2py as being a good tool that gets around a few of the gripes in the article. It's largely one click to install server, editor, db, debugger etc. and was specifically designed for teaching beginners (it has versioning as well using mercurial but I wasn't able to get that going with one click). It also does most stuff you'd need and is all in Python so you can use the libraries and rewrite bits if you can't get the framework to do something. Even so it would take Anon a while to make his app but I think it's some sort of progress. The creator talks about it here youtube.com/watch?v=iMUX9NdN8YE
lemming 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to see IntelliJ getting some love there for making much of this easier - few companies have worked so hard at it, and the results are amazing. Looks like Microsoft is making some great steps too, Bing Code Search gets a bad rap for pandering to blub programmers but I'd love something like that in my editor.
rafaelferreira 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not often I can read an essay that leaves me at the same time so excited and so disappointed.

Excited because I found myself agreeing with every point: isn't it obvious to everyone that the programming experience could be so much better? We created wonderful tools for graphical expression and number crunching, that keep getting better [1] [2], while our own day-to-day tools remain basically in a rut.

Disappointed because it seems LightTable is foregoing an incremental path to reach the goal, choosing the boil-the-ocean approach. We do need more long term start-from-scratch rethink everything kind of projects; like what VPRI's STEPS project aims to achieve [3]. But there is a lot that can be done to improve the programming experience today, and I don't see enough work in this area. IMO, the latest meaningful improvement in software development tooling was Intellij Idea around 2001 (arguably the functional programming renaissance represents another meaningful improvement, but the real breakthroughs there happened in the 70s). LightTable moving to the Blue plane leaves the PinkPlane unattended.

[1] http://www.adobe.com/technology/projects/content-aware-fill....[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UccfqwwOCoY[3] http://www.viewpointsresearch.org/html/writings.php

Goopplesoft 5 days ago 0 replies      
> We still program like it's 1960 because there are powerful path dependencies that incentivise pretending your space age computing machine is actually an 80 character tty. We are trapped in a local maximum.

Love this (although I don't like extra long lines). He's talking to you Pep8.

iammyIP 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe every tool that we invent and use is two-faced: it makes life both easier and harder, and therefore the wish to make programming easy could result in one of the most difficult journeys so far, comparable with inventing an AI indistiguishable from a human. If i imagine a success in 75 years, then i would probably sit infront and talk to a human-like android: "play me some music based on Bach with the voice of Eddie Murphy, mellow, with a hint of tragedy, but not too sad" - then it would in the blink of an eye play me some music and sing along with it. Chances are i would change Eddie Murphy to some other singer that is readily available at the huge human voice archive this machine has access to. But i am bored with archived and old fashioned music, i want something new and exciting. So i try to teach the machine a new voice. As it turns out it is pretty good at mixing characteristics of multiple voices and synthesizing a new one out of it. I let it do some hundred random variations with hints on what parameters i prefer. "that rough whiskey vibe - keep that and mix it with Presleys guttural hiccups"... "no , not like this, listen". I try to sing what i have in mind, but i am no good singer, so the next test comes out worse than before. "go back ... one more". We spend the rest of the day analyzing Presleys archive and filtering out the guttural characteristic that i meant. I heard i am an expert programmer, my grandma called me that, and i sit down with this android for a whole month and explain in all details the music i want to hear, constantly listening and tweaking my instructions in a flawless instant feedback cycle. The most time spent, or what i sometimes feel - wasted, is actually searching for the right words in my own head to describe what i mean. After 2 weeks i found out that we have broken down the characteristic of a singers voice into twohundredandeighty relevant parameters. Relevant not for everyone of course, but for me and this music i am working on. Maybe i am taking this too far. "delete MelodramaticChorusAccentuationTongueModulationMode two to four". I spend the next week with condensing these parameters down to thirtythree. At some days in the next week i am really without any inspiration and just let the android play thousands of random variations based on the current version that i judge on a 1 to 10 basis while doing some gardenwork. Sometimes i would only change a little note, or the single expression of a syllable. "uah insiide meeee... you see the "siide" must sound more desperate because this guy is on the verge of losing his lifelong dream at that moment." - we spend the rest of the day tweaking that "desperate" thing. This android is amazing. After a month and three weeks the music is ready. I save it and do some other things, mostly gardenwork and watching the drones fly at the evening - they really got some nice new formation techniques that i enjoy greatly. The next day i speak with Andreas (another real human) and tell how good the android has learned my personal preferences for singing voices and how fractalising Bachs harmonic structures to the fifth degree is worth it but no further without structural simplification at the base while keeping the dimensionalitys denominator intact (that was really a complicated talk, i cant get into all the details here). We agree to exchange our Androids preference patterns - my bach-presley11786 for Andreas painting-images9904, and our androids get automatically updated. Next day i try it out. This may take a while, Andreas has warned me. But over the next days i can watch the android painting a really amazing photorealistic but nonetheless astonishingly dreamlike image with Andreas pattern, although the process is, as he said quite slow by design, and one image at a size of four square meters takes about 3 weeks to finish since it includes a complicated technique of iterated de- and reconstruction with additional time for the oil paint to dry up inbetween. But the result is definately worth it. After the image is finished, i call Andreas and congratulate him for his exceptional good taste on imagery (afterall he worked two and half a years on it). He also thanks me for the musical pattern and asks if he can use the guttural Elvis thing in one of his next Crazy Donkey Singalong Performance. That asking just being a polite convention, i naturally give him full permission. We agree to hold another meeting to talk in detail about his structural approach to synthesize dreams without crossing over to kitsch in two weeks. The rest of this day i am back in my garden, the drones fly really low this week... maybe a thunderstorm is coming... but this is great! Every human is a programmer now, which essentially means that he tells other beings what to do, in more or less detail, and of course the fact, that these to be told are not humans anymore, but human-like machines. So, if one of these humans does not tell a machine what to do, he usually enjoys not telling other humans what to do (besides the endless debates about how to tell another machine best what to do (and not to forget - the debates about how it could be better to directly think to a machine rather than speak to it and why it has not been implemented yet)).
perrygeo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or the pain we remember with fond memories. Like anything good in life, the struggle to do it well, to fully understand it, to master it, is what makes it worthwhile. It's also what makes programmers effective - we revel in solving complex but tractable problems.

There is an inherent tradeoff in creating any system: you can make the system very simple and it becomes too simplistic for the advanced users who want more control and detail. You allow too much control and detail and you alienate users who want simplicity.

A programming language/IDE is a system that affords advanced users the ability to solve an immense set of problems. That unrestrained ability comes at the expense of simplicity. The more constrained and specific that ability becomes, the simpler it can be (i.e. Excel is more constrained but far simpler than a Hadoop cluster)

dreamfactory2 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great article but isn't a lot of this more about using different levels of abstraction i.e. frameworks, DSLs and specific to those? That could either take the form of being sufficiently focused that a simple text editor is adequate (e.g. high level commands, no cruft), or a full-featured managed environment (state, docs etc) specific to the framework. I'm not seeing how this is a task for a generic IDE unless I missed something about light table and they are creating a new language.
webmaven 4 days ago 1 reply      
While I am watching the development of LightTable with interest, it seems to me that the example used in the OP is missing the forest for the trees. It isn't hard to imagine Anon Intern managing to cobble together a solution for lunch_app that isn't an 'app' at all, just a form created with a builder like WuFoo or Google Forms, and some 'recipes' in a tool like IFTTT that has built in integration points for email, the accounting system, etc.

Arguably this wouldn't much of an improvement over the VB6 + Access status quo (or Visual FoxPro, or FileMaker Pro, etc), except that the individual components can be much more robust and scalable, monitored, auditable, and so on, without Anon Intern having to worry about any of that.

zem 5 days ago 0 replies      
solving this problem was part of REBOL's dream.i really wish it had been properly open-sourced from day one and built up a good community and momentum around it; it was a very promising language.
politician 5 days ago 0 replies      
"The samples will be missing lots of implicit information such as how to install the necessary libraries and how to deal with missing dependencies and version conflicts. "

Docker pretty much solves this problem. Writing samples for your new project? Start with step 1 `docker pull yourproj/your_tutorial_image`.

SolarNet 5 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I think this is an extremely important topic, we need to change the way we program. It isn't the 70's anymore, why do we still program like it is.

Why does it take teams of developers to create and manage applications which do really simple tasks in the grand scheme of things (and I realize the amount of complexity in building applications is staggering, but large portions of it could be better automated). Where are the auto generated GUIs, where is the ability to ship execution control to arbitrary devices, where is a hypermedia layer with independent view and presentation code?

I'm approaching this from a different angle than the light table guys appear to be (I agree with everything they are saying). My angle is an attempt to build a cross platform module system (where platform includes runtime and programming language as well operating system and architecture): https://github.com/OffByOneStudios/massive-dangerzone

My argument is: before we can build the next generation of useful tools, we need a framework for managing both generations. massive-dangerzone is an attempt at bringing next generation usage (like that described in the article) to existing tools. It's still a big work in progress though, and is barely useful at the moment.

logicallee 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'll delete this if you don't like it, but I think this is why non-engineers like Steve Jobs, Jony Ives, and a person at HP I won't name, were able to make remarkably good consumer products without knowing how they work. It may be better for a non-engineer to design a laptop than for someone who actually knows how it is put together and exactly how it works.

Of course, in a narrow sense, this means such a person isn't really designing it at all: the real engineers are, which may cause resentment. There is a very good chance that a non-programmer can design a programming IDE that is two or three orders of magnitude better (by whatever standard) than the status quo. This means such a person can't actually implement any part of it, or even know exactly what it's doing.

Quite a surprising conclusion.

By the way I have experienced this myself, when designing for a target I didn't know yet: after/while I was learning it, the resulting design iteration process was much worse than when I didn't know the implementation details. It's harder to think from the user's perspective, after you have been forced to think from the implementation's perspective.

SSLy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Edit: I've mismatched deps and imports, indeed that could be useful. Disregard my post.

If I select a function from autocomplete, its dependencies should be automatically added to the project without any fuss.

For the point, that that post makes, this one is at least available if you use IntelliJ with Java or Scala.

naturalethic 5 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty sweet article. Needs a once over from the author for some edits though. "if you don't have something useful to say, don't say nothing at all" made me giggle.
zan2434 4 days ago 0 replies      
Saved. Can't wait to look back at this in a few years.
dclowd9901 5 days ago 4 replies      
Are these guys ever going to actually finish the IDE, or postulate on what it means to program, ad infinitum. I'm glad they're being considerate in their design, but this whole project is starting to reek of over-aggrandized vaporware.
rch 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this project was about improving the programming experience for programmers, not students (or interns) who will in all likelihood never excell as programmers.

Edit: after downvotes I decided to read the whole thing afterall, but remain unswayed. This guy has an important opportunity and I sincerely dislike seeing it squandered.

A Windows 7 deployment image was accidently sent to all Windows machines emory.edu
311 points by slyall  6 days ago   138 comments top 36
perlgeek 6 days ago 10 replies      

"To make error is human. To propagate error to all server in automatic way is #devops."

Frankly, I'm surprised things like this don't happen more often. Kudos for the incident management. Also a big plus for having working backups, it seems.

miles 6 days ago 9 replies      
Snark and sarcasm aside, I am impressed with the level of detail that the IT department is sharing; it is refreshing to see such a disaster being discussed so openly and honestly, while at the same time treating customers like adults.
beloch 6 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of my undergrad CPSC days. The CPSC department had their own *nix-based mainframe system that was separate from the rest of the University. The sysadmin was a pretty smart guy who was making less than a third of what he could get in industry. Eventually he got fed up and left. About a week or two later the servers had a whole cascade of failures that resulted in everyone losing every last bit of work they'd done over the weekend (This was a weekend near the end of the semester when everyone was in crunch mode).

Long story short, the sysadmin was hired back and paid more than most of the profs. Academia may tend to skimp on salaries for certain positions, but sysadmins probably shouldn't be one of them.

Fuzzwah 6 days ago 2 replies      
I've just been hired to run a project using SCCM to upgrade ~5000 PCs from XP to Win7.

This was amazing reading. Reading such a detailed wrap up of an IT team going through my worst possible nightmare was enlightening.

8ig8 6 days ago 3 replies      
Mistakes are made. In related news...

Lawn care error kills most of Ohio college's grass


Fomite 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of some emails that went out at my old university during a cluster outage, and got progressively more informal as the night went on, detailing people leaving dinners with extended families, a growing sense of desperation, etc. The last email might as well have ended with "Tell my wife I love her."

It was both direct and funny enough that I was only mildly annoyed that the cluster was down.

jonmrodriguez 6 days ago 2 replies      
Forgive my beginner question:

Since a reformat was done to the affected machines, does this mean that researchers' datasets, drafts of papers, and other IP were lost? Or were researchers' machines not affected?

facorreia 6 days ago 1 reply      
> A Windows 7 deployment image was accidently sent to all Windows machines, including laptops, desktops, and even servers. This image started with a repartition / reformat set of tasks.

Wow. That is very unfortunate, to say the least...

rfrey 6 days ago 0 replies      
My nomination of the top bullet point of 2014:

* As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off however, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted.

Fuzzwah 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was just watching the "Whats New with OS Deployment in Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit" session from TechED and hit the section on "check readiness" option which MS have added to SCCM 2012 in R2. It sounds like having this in part of the task sequence at Emory would have (at the very least) stopped this OS push from at least hosing all the servers.


randlet 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reading that just made me feel sick to my stomach and my heart goes out to the poor gal/guy that pushed "Go" on that one. Shit happens, but a screw up that big can be devastating to ones psyche.
mehrdada 6 days ago 0 replies      
As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off however, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted.

I guess that's how robot apocalypse is gonna look like.

chromaton 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of The Website Is Down, episode 4:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0mwT3DkG4w
stark3 6 days ago 1 reply      
There was a similar catastrophe at Jewel osco stores many years ago. Nightly, items added to the store pos were merged back with the main item file at each store location. The format of the merged data was exactly the same as loading a new file, except the first statement would be /EDIT instead of /LOAD.

One of the programmers decided to eliminate some code by combining the two functions, with a switch to control whether /LOAD or /EDIT was used for the first statement.

There was a bug in the program, and the edits were sent down as loads.

A guy I knew, Barry, was the main operator that night. He started getting calls from the stores after around 10 of them had been reloaded with 5 or 6 items.

Barry said it was the first time he got to meet the president of the company that day.

smegel 6 days ago 3 replies      
Automation can also mean automated disaster.
pling 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not quite as disastrous but when I was at university the resident administrators configured the entire site's tftp server (everything was netbooted Suns) to boot from the network. This was fine until there was a site-wide power blip and it was shut down. When it came back it couldn't tftp to itself to boot because it wasn't booted yet (feel the paradox!). Cue 300 angry workstation users descend on the computer centre with pitchforks and torches because their workstations couldn't boot either...

Bad stuff doesn't just happen to Windows networks.

rfolstad 6 days ago 0 replies      
On the bright side they are no longer running XP!
grumblepeet 6 days ago 0 replies      
I _very_ nearly did this whilst working for a University back in the early noughties. Luckily I managed to get to the server before the "advert" activated and wiped out everything. It was so easy to do I am surprised that it is stil possible. I feel for their pain, but it does sound like they are doing a good job of mopping up. I did allow myself a snort of laughter when I read the bit about the server being re imaged as well. That is pretty darn impressive carpet bombing the entire campus.
svec 6 days ago 0 replies      
With great power comes great responsibility.
sergiotapia 6 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this more the fault of the system architect than the guy who accidentally fired the bad deploys?

It's similar to a database firehose: If you accidentally start deleting all data you should have a quick working backup ready to quickly bring the dead box up to production.

ww520 6 days ago 0 replies      
Disasters as well as mistakes are unavoidable, such is life. A hallmark of a competent organization is how they handle the situation and recover from disasters or mistakes.

So far all the signs have indicated they are doing great in recovering. I just hope there won't be onerous processes and restriction afterward due to desire on "make sure it won't happen again" stance.

zacharycohn 6 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this "accident" may have been on purpose... until they mentioned the servers.

In my days of university tech support.

durkie 5 days ago 0 replies      
hah! delighted to see this here.

my roommate works at the emory library and has had a fun slow week there of coming home early many days because no one could do work. they were apparently also given laptops as an interim solution, but those somehow also wiped themselves eventually (?).

poor IT people...just as they're starting to get a handle on the actual sitation it starts blowing up on the internet.

deckar01 5 days ago 0 replies      
"As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off however, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted."

Unicast fail.

keehun 6 days ago 0 replies      
I asked my friend attending Emory right now, and he didn't even realize anything was going on. He says that the Emory IT department has a notorious distinction on campus as being regularly terrible, mostly with an unreliable internet connection.

However, it looks like they handled this accident the best they could! Perhaps this accident would not have happened at a more reliable IT department.

mantrax5 6 days ago 1 reply      
You know how in movies you need at least two people to bring their special secret keys, plug them in, and turn them at once to enable a self-destruct sequence?

That is a real principle in interface design - if something would be really, really bad to activate unintentionally, make it really, really hard to activate.

If you design a nuclear missile facility, you don't put the "launch nukes" button right next to "check email" and "open facebook".

Same way it shouldn't be easy for users to delete or corrupt their data by accident due to some omnipotent action innocently shoved right in between other trivial actions.

I wouldn't blame the person who triggered this re-imaging process. I'd blame those who designed the re-imaging interface, to allow it to happen so easily by accident.

tbyehl 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've built a few systems for deploying Windows... and the last thing that every one of them did before writing a new partition table and laying down an image was to check for existing partitions and require manual intervention if any were found.
imgur 6 days ago 0 replies      

  > As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off  however, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted.
That made me laugh. Poor SCCM server :)

sorennielsen 6 days ago 0 replies      
This happened at one a former workplace too. Only the Solaris and Linux servers was untouched.

It "mildly" amused the *nix operations guys to see all the "point and click" colleagues panic.

k_sze 6 days ago 3 replies      
Funny how they mention iTunes as one of the "key components" that are restored first, whereas Visio, Project, Adobe application are relegated to a second round.
nissehulth 5 days ago 0 replies      
Next time I'm about to complain about a bad day at the office, I will read this story again.
CamperBob2 6 days ago 1 reply      
stark3, you seem to be hellbanned.
gojomo 6 days ago 0 replies      
"... to the cloud!"


"Yay, cloud!"

lucio 6 days ago 0 replies      
reads like a short dystopian novel
leccine 6 days ago 1 reply      
We accidentally re-imaged all of the Windows servers with Linux the other day. Nobody noticed though...
filmgirlcw 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've never been prouder of my alma mater. /s
The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas firstlook.org
305 points by uptown  3 days ago   114 comments top 14
suprgeek 3 days ago 2 replies      
What is most disturbing is that NSA & DEA seem to have such a Cozy relationship.

Given that one is a mostly domestic agency and the other is supposed to focus primarily on Foreign Intelligence, this incestual relationship sets up many troubling opportunities for abuse.

Absolutely needs to be stopped.

United857 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm guessing the other unnamed country is Afghanistan. It's a major drug producer which would justify DEA's involvement but also has general terrorism/national security concerns for the NSA's own interest. The word length also is a good match for the blacked-out area.
frik 3 days ago 2 replies      
Don't forget Iraq and Austria.

  Translation:  As part of "Mystic" apparently the NSA monitored not only   all communications in Iraq, but also in Austria.  The   basis for this was a secret treaty, by which the   government knew about it, writes an Austrian magazine.   [...]

CurtMonash 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sounds a bit like a proof-of-concept, on the way to doing it for larger countries.
leeoniya 3 days ago 2 replies      
i will just say that if you're in the business of smuggling drugs and are dumb enough not to use secure communication channels, you deserve to be caught.

keeping that in mind, the only ones who end up in the dragnet are small-time stupid smugglers and your average innocent citizen. the value of the former at the expense of the latter is likely inconsequential.

rdl 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm interested in the technology they use for this -- record on-site, requiring someone in the country maintain a pretty decent hard disk farm, or send every call back to the US over expensive bandwidth?

For the Bahamas, you could clearly do either, but for the Philippines, sending back all content would be seriously difficult. Which is why it looks like they just do metadata from the bigger countries.

For the unnamed full-data country, I'd probably bet on the Caymans. Antigua or another small Caribbean nation would be a possibility.

I assume there is another entire program for actual jihadi communications (Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.) under different cover and pretense; the other countries in MYSTIC appear to be DEA LI based.

a3n 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The documents dont spell out how the NSA has been able to tap the phone calls of an entire country. But one memo indicates that SOMALGET data is covertly acquired under the auspices of lawful intercepts made through Drug Enforcement Administration accesses legal wiretaps of foreign phone networks that the DEA requests as part of international law enforcement cooperation."

"lawful intercepts." As opposed to what the NSA does with them later.

Hopefully the Bahamas won't indict anyone from the NSA, as we just did with China. /s

stefantalpalaru 3 days ago 0 replies      
We have always been at war with the Bahamas.
cgusto 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is anyone else curious on what data setup the NSA is using? Do they have some crazy non relational ZFS setup that makes Hadoop seem like a kid's toy? Or is it just a bunch of off the shelf enterprise SQL servers duct taped together?

My bet is on the latter.

kevinburke 3 days ago 5 replies      
Why are Greenwald & Poitras writing this in The Intercept and not The Guardian, or Washington Post?
aenean 3 days ago 4 replies      
Is there a list of every NSA revelation?
xacaxulu 3 days ago 2 replies      
Let's call this what it is: some government employees trying to get stationed in the Bahamas. It's an old ruse but effective :-
sexmonad 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yes, this is the NSA's job - foreign SIGINT. If you don't like this, you need to use encrypted communications.
pistle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is that thing with the two wheels on it some sort of high-density, digital storage device? It looks like a Mickey Mouse robot head.

There was one at my local second-hand audio shop in a dusty corner. I bet they didn't know they were sitting on such a device.

Osmo playosmo.com
297 points by choult  12 hours ago   99 comments top 36
GuiA 11 hours ago 2 replies      
The company introduces Osmo, an iPad suite of games for children which uses the iPad's camera to use physical tiles on a traditional tabletop as input. The demonstrated games include tangram, a tile based word guessing game, and a physics-engine based game in which players must draw a path for falling objects to hit targets.

While the product describes itself as using "reflective artificial intelligence, a groundbreaking technology that bridges the real and digital realms for unlimited possibilities of play", it falls under what we in academic HCI call "tangible interaction", following Shaer & Hornecker's definition:

"Interfaces that are concerned with providing tangible representations to digital information and controls, allowing users to quite literally grasp data with theirhand and effect functionality by physical manipulations of these representations." [0]

The four claims typically made when introducing tangible interfaces in products for children are usability benefits, learning benefits, collaboration benefits, and fun benefits [1]. Osmo does not escape to the rule, claiming all 4 in its marketing copy.

While Osmo does not include any information about research conducted with it that would demonstrate those claims, similar systems have been proposed in the past.

The word game is mirrored in Dekel & al's Spelling Bee [2], a game which uses wooden letter blocks instead of Osmo's Scrabble tiles, and LEDs embedded in the cubes to provide player feedback. The authors report high engagement from the test audience (children 7-12), but no learning assessment or long term engagement study was performed (arguably 2 of the most important metrics).

The tangram game is mirrored in past research projects, including Scarlatos & al's [3] tangram game. Xie & al's [4] paper performs a user study on 3 implementations of a puzzle game: physical, GUI based, tangible. The authors report finding same self-reported level of enjoyments from the test users on all 3. However, they report that repeat play was more significant in the physical & tangible version of the game, which does not create an argument in the favor of Osmo. They do report significant gender effects in the way of collaboration, which could be relevant for Osmo:

"While all gender pairings mean scores on the Interest and Enjoyment subscale were nearly the same for the TUI condition, the boy-boy pairs had significantly higher scores than the girl-girl and girl-boy pairs for the GUI condition. In addition, the girl-girl pair scores were significantly higher for the traditional PUI condition than for either of the computational conditions (GUI, TUI). For girl-girl pairs mean scores for Perceived Competence subscale were also higher for the PUI condition than for either of the GUI or TUI conditions. Mean scores for boy-boy pairs were highest for the GUI condition."

The last game implemented by Osmo, the physics game, is the least interesting of the 3 as it has less claims to educational value than the other 2. However, it is reminiscent of several similar tabletop based tangible systems and augmented reality systems. [5]

Unfortunately I have to go work now, and the edit window will be over when I'm back online :( But for readers who found the above interesting, I will leave a few more relevant papers [6][7][8][9]

[0] Shaer & Hornecker, "Tangible user interfaces: past, present, and future directions", 2010

[1] Zaman & al., "Editorial: the evolving field of tangible interaction for children: the challenge of empirical validation", Personal Ubiquitous Computing, 2012

[2] Dekel & al, "The Spelling Bee: An Augmented Physical Block System that Knows how to Spell", ACE, 2007

[3] Scarlatos & al, "TICLE: using multimedia multimodal guidance to enhance learning"

[4] Xie & al, " Are Tangibles More Fun? Comparing Children's Enjoyment and Engagement Using Physical, Graphical and Tangible User Interfaces ", TEI 2008

[5] Krzywinski & al, "RoboTable: A Tabletop Framework for Tangible Interaction with Robots in a Mixed Reality"

[6] Antle & al, "Hands on What? Comparing Childrens Mouse-based and Tangible-based Interaction", IDC 2009

[7] Resnick & al, " Programmable Bricks: Toys to Think With", IBM Systems Journal, 1996

[8] Price & al, "Let's get physical: Learning Benefits of interacting in digitally augmented physical spaces" , 2004

[9] Resnick, "Edutainment? No thanks I prefer Playful Learning", 2004

Greenisus 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't understand all the hate in this thread. This is a clever and creative use of technology that combines a favorite toy (iPad) with the one thing it lacks: physical interaction with real world objects. From what I understand (I'm a new dad so I'm still reading and learning), this sort of thing is very important for a developing mind.
vinkelhake 12 hours ago 2 replies      
That looks awesome. I'm considering ordering one for the kids.

This paragraph is pretty hilarious though:

"Osmo is crafted for kiddurability and always ready to go: no batteries, or Wi-Fi required."

Well, yeah.. Except for the actual iPad.

timdiggerm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
>Top educators from over 150 elementary schools nationwide, including the Bay Areas best preparatory institutions, are raving about Osmos natural ability to foster creative, social, and emotional learning and how much their students love it.

If there's one thing I, as a teacher, do not trust, it's when teachers (sorry, I mean "educators") get excited about technology.

(Doubly so if educators = administration)

eykanal 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who saw this and was hoping it was an online remake of Cyan's Cosmic Osmo [1]?

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

Pxtl 11 hours ago 2 replies      
It's a neat concept - a nice, polished AR kit. The actual tangram concept is a bit disappointing though - dragging simple objects around on a flat surface is already something the iPad excels at. In this case it feels like it's somewhat obsoleted by modern touch-screens.

Obviously there are cases where touch-screens fail, but simple tangram puzzles work just fine with them.

I'd be interested in seeing this expanded to things that require too large a play-area to do conveniently with a tablet, or that involve manipulation that doesn't correspond to simple dragging (which you can already do well on the iPad).

Either that or focus on vision-impaired students. Maybe a set of braille algebra-tiles[1]?


minalecs 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know I just get the overwhelming feeling that a lot of people aren't parents in this thread. My daughter loves these types of puzzle games on our touch devices. As soon as I saw the video, I have a good feeling she will like it. Really it looks fun , and the word game looks like something we can do together. I'm excited about this product. I really could care less about the actual learning aspects and more interested in the technology + fun aspect.
sendos 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Great product (at least from an ingenuity point of view; would be interesting to see how kids react to it)

Side question: What is this style of info presentation called? Basically, a full-page-width webpage, with very sparse information that slowly shows up as you scroll down. I'm not too fond of it, but I see it a lot lately, so I assume it has been shown to lead to higher conversion rates. Does this presentation style have a name?

furyofantares 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I played with this at the NY toy fair in February. The words game is really cool, you find yourself digging through letters as quickly as possible while trying to form the word but you also have to watch to make sure you are actually on the right track before you shove too many out there, and watch the other player too. The game is scored by giving you points for getting the word but you also lose points for every letter you shove in that isn't right. If you want you can just shove the whole stack in front, you'll instantly solve the puzzle but with an enormous negative score.

Something about that particular game is an experience I haven't had with either physical or digital games before, whereas most physical/digital hybrids I've seem could just as easily be done purely in one or both realms.

The tangram seemed like a bit of a dud for that reason, for example. It is nice to be able to get hints while playing physical tangrams (it can show you just the outline but tell you if you have a piece in the right spot), but that isn't really that much of an improvement over just having the pieces or just an iPad game.

The physics game where you draw on the pad is a strange demo to me. You can just do it as a drawing game without the paper, which is a bit less social, but again, this isn't much of an improvement. What is really cool, though, is the interactive outline of your hand or any object you put in front of it. But it doesn't really encourage that in any way, it just feels like a tech demo.

All that said, this product does excite me just because the word game gave me a feeling I haven't gotten in either a purely physical or purely digital space.

sutterbomb 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks interesting. I want that technology but just to transfer paper notes/sketches to digital. I've tried using stylus on iPad for wireframes etc. but I can't quite get it to work same as sharpie & paper.
cJ0th 11 hours ago 1 reply      
How do these games benefit from including a tablet?From what I can learn from the video the tablet assists you with counting points and lets you know when you've arrived at the right answer. Sure, it makes things more convenient. But what is wrong (from an educational point of view) with letting children add their points/checking their solutions themselves?
mcosta 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The hate here, I believe, is because the ad is very artificial and the the children are clearly acting. Too obvious.
mikeash 12 hours ago 5 replies      
OK, seriously, why is it so hard for companies to just tell me what their product is?

I guess it's some sort of augmented reality thing? With a clip-on mirror? (???) And a standard Tangram game?

"For the first time, fun knows no limits." Did somebody redesign zombo.com for the 21st century and try to attach a product to it?

There are so many beautiful product pages out there which completely fail at the basic task of telling people what they're selling. It's baffling.

mmcclure 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have siblings with kids (and iPads) so this looks like a perfect timeline for a Christmas present...but it's never a good sign when you try to give someone money and they won't take your CC because they're doing validation wrong.


fiatjaf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
At first I thought this was a stupid, idea. In the, I became excited and envisioned a lot of opportunities for cool games.

I don't know why there are people in this thread talking about school and education. This is a toy. A toy should not be designed to educate. Kids play videogames the whole day these days. Osmo could bring them out of the videogame, make them interact with objects, not to learn, but to play, only. This should not be confined to small kids games, but also to all kinds of games, and other uses as well.

coreymgilmore 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great product. To me, the video (while marketing) showed exactly how kids would react to something like this. Nowadays, all kids know how to use an iPad so throwing in the physical pieces as well brings back the "legacy" way of playing. Plus, it has a nice teaching aspect and i could imagine a dual iPad "versus" mode to encourage a little competition.
tbolse 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a similar "augmented reality puzzle game" for adults called Reflow.


It was released Jun 01, 2012.

cmiller1 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Did anyone else get excited expecting something related to this?


danielweber 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Okay, I don't get the product, but I'm impressed that as you scroll down the screen, the Osmo drops onto the iPad, and then the iPad drops into its holder.
rwhitman 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there are other use cases for a little iPad augmented reality app on a stand beyond kids stuff
bullfight 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like this. It seems to me to be an early approximation of Neal Stephenson's A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer from The Diamond Age.

A commensurate companion, guide, and teacher. Sure this may only be a few activities but the responsiveness and seeming magic to it is fantastic.

I particularly like that you can set down a toy in front of the camera and it renders out a flat illustrated version of that toy.

TruthSHIFT 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this so much. But, when I step back and look at what you're getting for $58, I'm wondering why I can't build one myself. It looks like I'll need an iPad stand, a small mirror, and a fisheye lens.

Then, I'll just use the same apps as the other Osmo users.

druidsbane 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I would love to see this with a giant screen. The iPad is great but kids needs space and room to play. Great start and I really feel that things like this will have a great impact in the future.
sergiotapia 12 hours ago 2 replies      
If I lived in the states I would buy one for my kids in a heartbeat. The newton game looks like something even I would enjoy! Great job guys!
GhotiFish 12 hours ago 0 replies      
To be fair, tangrams are pretty fun. Young me would rather it just show me the silhouette than showing me where to put the tans though.
huhtenberg 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks great, but it really needs an independent review.
joshcrowder 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't have any kids but I'm buying one this is awesome - Looking forward to getting one of these to play with.
rainmaking 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Needing to give kids an iPad raises all sorts of issues: Cost, breakage, internet exposure...

I would be very likely to buy a self-contained colored digital etch-a-sketch that logs everything ever drawn on it, which I can later put on my computer.

I know that would be very big brother of me, but it's for cute's sake!

rainmaking 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a bad idea in the last, but I strongly suspect my kids would be more interested in creatively disassembling the iPad than playing with Osmo.
artellectual 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I am definitely getting this for my daughter.
pastaking 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant! Amazing job guys!
camus2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks SO awesome! that's the kind of article i like to see on HN!.Looks great,cant wait my kids to try that.
cristyansv 12 hours ago 0 replies      
looks like a google product
digitalpacman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This blew me away.
radmuzom 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Poor website. Till I read the comments here, I could not figure out in 30 seconds what the product does except that it uses artificial intelligence.
rplnt 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What's with the weird space between "Pre" and "Order Osmo" in the header? Also, the percentage doesn't add up. Or is it supposed to be with shipping?

By the way, the price is ridiculous. Even the discounted one. That puzzle sells for about 4$ (that's with profit), let's be generous and say that the app itself is worth $10 (which it isn't) and we are left with $85 for a mirror embedded in plastic? Shipping not included?!

That being said, nice idea, I haven't seen it done before. Possibilities to extend this are great.

Arrakis washington.edu
281 points by conductor  1 day ago   83 comments top 27
teraflop 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is pretty interesting, but unfortunately their intro page doesn't do a good job of explaining why. (For instance, they use the word "unprecedented" without really saying what makes Arrakis different from previous exokernel-like designs.) I'll try to summarize what I got out of skimming the paper[1]:

When you have multiple applications running on the same machine, you need some way to safely share resources between them; for example, incoming network packets are a resource. A kernel handles this by keeping a data structure mapping sockets to processes, and demultiplexing data that comes in from the network card. Hypervisors work the same way, except at the level of virtual machines rather than processes.

Arrakis does the same thing, but relies on hardware support in the network card to dispatch packets to the right process. This relies on a standard called SR-IOV[2] which allows the OS to configure a PCI device to present itself as multiple virtual subdevices. The kernel programs the NIC to dispatch packets to different buffers depending on the incoming MAC address; after that, packets can be dispatched with no kernel involvement at all. Similarly, you can tell a disk controller to present a particular extent of a disk as a new virtual storage device.

The blurb about memory protection seems to be a red herring, because as far as I can see they haven't done anything to change that. There's still a kernel, which handles requests for resource mappings, and processes are still isolated from each other. But once they've requested the mappings that they need, the normal execution path doesn't involve any syscalls, and so there's no kernel overhead. The real contribution of the paper is designing an API around this idea and proving that real applications like Redis can be ported to it.

[1] http://arrakis.cs.washington.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/...[2] http://blog.scottlowe.org/2009/12/02/what-is-sr-iov/

GuiA 1 day ago 5 replies      
"Applications are becoming so complex that they are miniature operating systems in their own right and are hampered by the existing OS protection model"

Sure, that's true for browsers, as they mention, and a few other degenerate cases (eg. virtualization software?) - but that's certainly not the case for the vast majority of applications I run (text editor, terminal, mail client, IM client, etc.). How does this argument hold?

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting, its a fork of Barrelfish [1] which is the one-core-one-OS OS. When I first heard about it, it sounded like Multi-DOS (several instances of MS-DOS running at once) but its a bit more sophisticated than that :-). Other than cache contention (which is always going to be a problem) its an interesting approach.

[1] http://www.barrelfish.org/TN-000-Overview.pdf

akavel 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is this the same idea as "exokernel", and thus a (probably valuable) attempt at implementation of one, or does it differ in some important points?


pygy_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
In reply to many comments about the lack of safety of the approach: They claim that "[they] demonstrate that operating system protection is not contradictory with high performance".

Abstract of their latest paper:

Recent device hardware trends enable a new approachto the design of network server operating systems. In atraditional operating system, the kernel mediates accessto device hardware by server applications, to enforce pro-cess isolation as well as network and disk security. Wehave designed and implemented a new operating system,Arrakis, that splits the traditional role of the kernel intwo. Applications have direct access to virtualized I/Odevices, allowing most I/O operations to skip the ker-nel entirely, while the kernel is re-engineered to providenetwork and disk protection without kernel mediation ofevery operation.

We describe the hardware and softwarechanges needed to take advantage of this new abstraction,and we illustrate its power by showing 2-5x end-to-endlatency and 9x throughput improvements for a popularpersistent NoSQL store [i.e. Redis] relative to a well-tuned Linuximplementation.


michaelmior 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you like this concept, you may also find Mirage[1] interesting. Mirage compiles the application code into the kernel to run directly on the Xen hypervisor. (Thus system calls become ordinary function calls. They do some tricks to maintain security.)

[1] http://www.openmirage.org/

na85 1 day ago 2 replies      
>"The application gets the full power of the unmediated hardware, through an application-specific library linked into the application address space."

This is pretty concerning, actually. I don't think I want or trust shady companies like Adobe to be running DRM-laden code directly on my hardware.

Vendor lock-in is an increasingly common phenomenon and I'm picturing a really alarming future if this sort of OS takes off. I like that the linux kernel sits between my software and my hardware.

Want to watch a Sony DVD? Better hope you have a webcam so that the media player application can directly access your facial reactions to the media being played and upload it to Sony's servers.

leorocky 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hrm, I wonder what they were using for their source control before making it available on GitHub, they've squashed all commits into one giant commit which is really, really unfortunate, especially for people who might want to contribute or understand the code base better. There are tools to port commit history over into git, they should have used such a tool.


jmtame 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to say that I love the naming of the OS. Brings back memories to the classic Dune games I played when I was younger.
gumby 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like they have reinvented part of a capability-based Multics system. Perhaps they should go read Organick:


molsongolden 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was really excited when I saw "Arrakis" on the front page but after looking at the project I'm not sure why they chose the name.

If anything should be named Arrakis it should be a terraforming project...or a worm farm.

erikb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Although this might be the best operating system ever in existance, I think it's quite hard to get anywhere in the desktop OS market. How can they find users? And if they don't find users, how can they find people who work with them on their software?
getmailpin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
No abstraction is better than having abstraction. See http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/exo.html
auggierose 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't Arrakis something out of Dune?
spiritplumber 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't this what DOS did?
yazaddaruvala 1 day ago 2 replies      
Where exactly is the framework to build operating systems?

I just want a layer (ie all current linux drivers) without virtual memory or a protected mode (context switches) or process management.

Just a nice API to run code on a core of my choosing, and read and write data from device "streams".

drivingmenuts 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty much sounds like they're trying to turn my laptop into a PS3.
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see the benefits to performance and arguably flexibility. I don't see why this provides "unprecedented reliability".
tempodox 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish our office coffee machine had a direct demultiplexing port into my mouth. For the coffee, that is. Not the waste.

application-specific library: Yeah, all my circles are squares, too.

falconfunction 1 day ago 1 reply      
what language is it being written in?
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
OK but how do you do pre emptive multitasking?
phillmv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Heh, this sounds analogous to what Gary Bernhardt finished "The Birth & Death of Javascript" with: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/the-birth-and-death...
npsimons 1 day ago 4 replies      
Been done before (some would say to death), and the reason we have memory protection between applications is forgotten because people don't realize how nice it is. Sure, sure, your big "well engineered" web browser needs direct access to the hardware for speed, but painful experience has taught us that giving apps programmers direct access to hardware is a recipe for failure. Besides, there are already plenty of workarounds to get faster (eg, mmap) or even direct access to hardware from userland, not to mention the myriad of virtualization and protection schemes and levels in userland (eg, SELinux). This seems like a solution in search of already solved problems. Although as a research project, it does seem interesting . . .
peterwwillis 1 day ago 2 replies      
If I understand this correctly, they want all userspace applications to be Ring 0? That sounds.... problematic, to put it lightly.
paraiuspau 18 hours ago 1 reply      
arrakis...dune...desert planet...


mahyarm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is embracing the second system effect & NIH syndrome that many large apps eventually get.
cobolorum 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an operating system for a dedicated, single purpose server this may be okay. As an operating system for mobile phones, this may one day be alright (when phones get about 12 cores). As an operating system for workstations and desktops, this is probably the worst idea I have heard in a long time. It sounds like a hipster version of multidos. At one application per core (or at least I think that's the idea), you are severely limiting the ability to multitask. So, on an 8 core system I have one core running the exokernel (1), another core running a gui (2), another core running an audio application (3), another running my web browser (4), another with my editor (5), another with git (6), another with a torrent going (7), and another with email (8). Due to the description, I am hoping that the GUI using a core and other applications having access to it is possible. I also hope that audio services don't need a core, or else the audio application developer will need to reimpelement OSS4 and/or ALSA in his/her application. That's just about idiotic... oh well...
Some of the work we did at Danger medium.com
276 points by kaptain  21 hours ago   73 comments top 30
notlisted 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
I loved the HipTop. It really was one of the first "smart" phones on the US market. The article's claim "we all started microblogging/lifestreaming" needs a little context as it claims credit that I feel belongs to someone else...

While Danger had a very basic implementation running internally (pretty cool, see [1]), they surely didn't have a clue of the potential/value of lifestreaming/public status updates.

Neither did I. As an initial beta-tester in May/June of 2002 I too had developed a HipTop mobile blogging site for private use (CF/SQL/Email, mostly cat and food shots!) -- demoed it to Om Malik who introduced me to T-Mobile -- but it was really Mike Popovic's HipTopNation [2], the first communal moblog launched on Oct. 4th 2002 and his Oct. 31 Halloween Photo Scavenger Hunt that sparked the popularity and showed the potential.

After HipTopNation quickly gained traction [3] with 1000+ mobloggers, Danger decided to launch a "hiplog" service/site to consumers on Jan 13, 2003 [4]. Joi Ito has a nice timeline [5]

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20041205233554/http://www.spies....

[2] http://hiptop.bedope.com/index.php?FILTER=zvxr@gevny.qnatre....

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20050915215559/http://www.guardi...

[4] http://joi.ito.com/weblog/2003/01/13/danger-announce.html

[5] http://archive.today/e4Ie#selection-685.35-685.47

mcculley 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried developing for the Sidekick when it came out. I had one and was very happy with it. The API and the hardware were a delight.

I remember being frustrated that the only means of technical support was a terrible walled garden web forum. There was no email gateway, so one had to keep checking that site for answers. I would have much preferred mailing lists and a public website indexable by search engines.

The bigger frustration was that T-Mobile was the gatekeeper for app distribution. If you wanted to get an app to a phone, it had to be on the store, you had to get T-Mobile's blessing, and they had no plans to support free apps. The carriers were very much still oriented around the ringtone economy and were terrified that you might put something on your phone without getting a cut of a fee.

People complain now about Apple and Google and the processes that impede app distribution, but the iOS and Android ecosystem is way better than what existed when the carriers were in charge.

I remember thinking that the Danger folks were very responsive and very sharp, but it didn't matter because they were in the end beholden to T-Mobile and T-Mobile didn't get it. There's an ecosystem lesson in there for anybody trying to build a new platform.

zurn 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder what this means:

> the world owes a debt of thanks to Jeff Bush who was the first person we know of to get a full TCP/IP stack working on a cellular data connection

IP is natively supported by GPRS and worked from day 1, and before that regular GSM-data had been used for TCP/IP for a long time.

cwyers 14 hours ago 2 replies      
"As an interesting historical side note: the engineers who developed the Java runtime for hiptop would later join Google and lead the Android kernel engineering team; and develop Dalvik, the Java language runtime for Android."

I'm pretty sure that's less a historical side-note and more an invitation for Sun to subpoena you to testify the next time Google says their version of Java was a clean-room implementation.

rospaya 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really nice story, but I have to react to all the people swooning over this - Nokia (Symbian) had a lot of these functions back in the day, but it was never popular in the US so people often forget about it.
tlrobinson 20 hours ago 6 replies      
Random question: Does anyone remember a (translucent?) device (toy?) that was about the size of a graphing calculator and had a little antenna sticking out the side, and you could wirelessly send messages to other people nearby (within a couple hundred feet probably) with the same device? This was probably around 2001.
bonaldi 17 hours ago 2 replies      
That web dashboard that combines mail, notes, calendar and to-dos in one screen is great - I would like that today, and I don't think I can get it.
Tiktaalik 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't help but wonder how much better off Nintendo would be right now if they had bought Danger when they had the chance to partner with them.
lelandriordan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the Sidekick/Hiptop 2 back in high school because my mom had T-Mobile through her work. To this day I have not been stopped by more people asking about a device (not even the original iPhone I saved up for as a freshman in college). T-mobile was spotty at best in the DC area so nobody else I knew had it, everywhere I would go people would say things like "It has a browser!?!" or "I thought only Treos and Blackberries had email!?!". It was a sad day when my mom changed companies and we switched to AT&T(aka Cingular). I salute you Danger, I wish there were more small innovative hardware companies like you these days.
rdl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Kind of amazing that Danger's VC partner knew more about cellular networks than the founders did. I wonder who he was and which firm.
davb 18 hours ago 3 replies      
And if anyone's wondering - the revolutionary audio engine the author mentions was the Beatnik Audio Engine (BAE), open sourced as the Mini Beatnik Audio Engine (miniBAE) [1].

[1] http://www.minibae.org/

msh 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I am sad that the keyboards have disappeared from smartphones :(
zachlipton 20 hours ago 2 replies      
The Danger Hiptop was an incredible device. At a time when RIM basically thought the web was a useless feature on a mobile device, Danger built an amazing mobile browser (discussed in the article) that wouldn't be matched until the iPhone. Instead of a handful of limited text-based WAP sites, the Hiptop rendered full desktop sites and did a pretty darn good job of making them usable on a mobile device.

I still miss that General Magic bunny though.

nppc 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Nostolgia ... I remember those days.

Developers try so hard these days to implement push notifications from their apps & services and boast about all the IFTTT stuff.

Carries here in India used to provide email-to-sms as a free service. You would just send an email to +91PhoneNo@xyzprovider.com and that message would be sent to PhoneNo as an SMS (160 chars from subject).

Now a days if you want to send a message, you need to have developer accounts, install Software on the devices to receive the notifications, need to have a data connection on the phone, talk to push notifications clouds and a few other things.

bmalicoat 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The best part of the hiptop IMO, was the development community. It was ultra tight knit and accepting of newbs. I have many fond memories of side loading apps from skdr.net and eventually reaching the point of uploading my own creations.
sscalia 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a Sidekick Color and a Sidekick II. I also carried a Moto RAZR while I was in high school.

The sidekick was a phenomenal device. Battery lasted all day -- I could text and had unlimited data over GPRS (maybe EDGE?) - and I was one of the only students who could Google and read in class. I browsed forums, looked up answers, even started essays on that keyboard.

You had a persistent AIM -- and the interface was prettier and more fluid than Android (up to the latest release).

What a delight that device was.

dasil003 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Having spent 3 years from 2008-2011 biking by the Danger building every day on my way to work in Palo Alto (until one day it unceremoniously changed to Microsoft), but only being vaguely aware of the Sidekick this was quite interesting.
bch 10 hours ago 0 replies      
fjarlq 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The main problem I had with my Sidekick was T-mobile's crummy coverage, even in the middle of silicon valley. I could endure the slow performance, but the coverage was so spotty in 2004 that I stopped hauling the damn thing around.
sleepybrett 6 hours ago 0 replies      
He didn't mention the coolest bit, which was the crazy fliparound screen. Best nervous tic screen ever.
decktech 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a Sidekick B&W in high school, and later a Sidekick Color, and people would ask me about it every single day. I remember having long AIM conversations under my desk in class. I later upgraded to a Sidekick 2, which was nice but had some build quality issues. I must have gone through at least four of them. To T-Mobile's credit, they were very good at replacing them quickly. I remember sitting at dinner one night, flipping it open to answer an IM, and the screen detached and flew across the restaurant. I replied that my screen flew off and that I would have to respond later :)
nopakos 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice story! Imagine that around the same time, in a parallel universe, Nokia was making the 9210 and 7650 smartphones with similar capabilities.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_9210_Communicator
koonsolo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to create games for the HipTop, and was invited to those "Danger Developer Days". Really nice people to work with.
wilsynet 10 hours ago 1 reply      
A few of my friends had a Danger device. My second hand observation (and you have to remember this was many years ago now) was that they were somewhat fragile.

One friend was on his 5th hiptop in 18 months, and another was on his 3rd in about the same amount of time.

If you drop an iPhone on concrete, it survives just fine so long as you don't shatter the glass. As for a wood floor or carpet, my various iPhones have survived several falls this way without any issues.

As for Danger, the devices would break frequently, even minor drops would result in the screen cosmetically undamaged, but something got loose internally and the device would stop working entirely.

I wanted a Sidekick / hiptop, but the perceived fragility was too much to overcome.

If anyone reading this worked at Danger, was my perceived fragility of the phone more anecdotal than real?

nicholassmith 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I always wanted a Hiptop but they never really seemed to show up in the UK. Great bit of technology history to read over though.
doxcf434 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've yet to see a mobile SSH client that's as usable as Terminal Monkey.
Zigurd 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I found out about why deaf people used the Danger Hiptop once when I was already working on Android software development. I saw a young woman on the T commuter rail intently typing at almost unbelievable speed on a Hiptop, faster than I had ever seen anyone use any Blackberry or other device.

I knew about many of the Android team having worked for Danger, but I had never seen one "in the field." When she stopped for a moment, I asked her about the device. It was apparent she was deaf, so we used my pocket notebook to communicate. She told me all her deaf friends had Danger Hiptops.

fulafel 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I never saw these devices. Did they make it to Europe?
jetzz 19 hours ago 0 replies      
One more random and offtopic question: there was a tv show centering around handheld computers like epson hx20s back in 80s. actors are somehow fighting with bad guys using those devices. Does anyone remember such a show?
threeio 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome read, thanks.
When AES() = a crypto-binary trick speakerdeck.com
264 points by ange4771_  2 days ago   34 comments top 14
aidos 2 days ago 2 replies      
That was a great read. I saw the title and figured it would quickly go over my head but it's all pretty understandable.

Does anyone know where I can download the src to have a look through?

Edit: found it https://code.google.com/p/corkami/source/browse/#svn%2Ftrunk...

drdaeman 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's also a word play in the title. "AES" transliterates to "" (acronym for " ") in Russian (and some other Slavic languages), which means "nuclear power plant". Thus, the "" sign.
krick 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's amazing. Didn't think it's even possible, however it turns out to be surprisingly simple. Also, laughed out loud because of that guy's twitter nickname on the 3rd slide.
thristian 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love the "HexII" hex-dump format he links to, it's so much less cluttered than the traditional one. I'm definitely going to have to try that out the next time I'm picking apart some binary file.
JoachimS 2 days ago 1 reply      
A good example of why a MAC after encryption is also needed. And blocking length extension attacks.
silsha 2 days ago 0 replies      
dikei 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cool trick, I have encountered something like this in a steganography wargame before, the only difference is they used Base64 encoding on the original picture instead of AES :)
reblochon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does any one know the name of the hex editor used in these slides, the one showing the PNG chunks and JPEG information?
hzc 2 days ago 0 replies      
this is awesome. now I hide secret information in a seemingly innocent image. no one would want to use AES to decrypt it if the image looks fine.
BrokenPipe 2 days ago 0 replies      
impressive! a very cool hack!
glial 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's the benefit of AES using such small blocks?
ShowNectar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where do you store the IV? Do you just append it at the end of the file?
frik 2 days ago 1 reply      

That's also the reason why one should limit the max-length of a password field (something reasonable), if one is using the salted-password in db approach. Otherwise someone could enter a very long password to do the trick (MD5/SHA1), see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MD5#Security .

Hoodie Fast web app development hood.ie
264 points by madhukarah  3 days ago   143 comments top 29
primitivesuave 3 days ago 1 reply      
Giving full email privileges to the client is a terrible idea. Even if you do rate limiting, you're essentially allowing anyone to get your mail server(s) blacklisted and all future mail from anyone marked as spam.

In general, most people would be naturally apprehensive about federating their entire user authentication system through a third party. However, I suppose that by using hoodie you are supporting a group of people whose only job is to ensure security and fix vulnerabilities in your login system. It's also open-source, so you can vet it for yourself.

The JS library needs more work though - I could think of several basic use cases that it can't handle. It would also be great to see some full examples. Overall this is very cool stuff.

egeozcan 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you wonder how the synchronization works, it's currently using a custom solution which is built on top of local storage. However it seems[0] that they are planing to switch to the awesome Pouchdb[1].

[0]: https://github.com/hoodiehq/hoodie.js/issues/8

[1]: http://pouchdb.com/

billyhoffman 3 days ago 6 replies      
So let's just deliver all our business logic as JavaScript to an entirely untrustworthy client! Whats the worst that could happen?
cmelbye 3 days ago 1 reply      
Broken back button, bleh.
janl 3 days ago 11 replies      
Team Hoodie here. Happy to answer any questions you might have :)
preek 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know @gr2m, one of the guys behind Hoodie - he's one of the most awesome and holistic engineers I have met in my professional career! Also he's a regular speaker at conferences and devoting his time for charitable work.

If you don't have a backend ninja in your dev team, you should take a serious look into Hoodie!

owenwil 3 days ago 2 replies      
We're working on a similar no-backend product called Hoist that does most of what Hoodie is but is a hosted solution. We do all the 'server' work so you can just build your app. We provide API's for everything from Data management (just post and get JSON) and user management. We're also working on integrating other cloud company API's so you can quickly get hooked up to them (and do the auth with tokens) on the server side and then use their API's in a fully client-side app.

Check it out: http://hoistapps.com

Would love to hear what anyone thinks if you give it a go. I can be emailed on ow@hoistapps.com

lazerwalker 3 days ago 1 reply      
So this appears to essentially be a Parse-like service that's self-hostable? Interesting.
auvrw 3 days ago 1 reply      
looks cool on several levels: empowering people to build the things they want w/o being "1337", volunteer driven, a "noBackend"/"One Backend Per User" (http://www.infoq.com/presentations/private-backend) default for a freer internet, and named after one of the most versatile articles of clothing ever invented.

the hoodie-server repo clocks in at just under 3k lines of javascript, though. i mean, there are a bunch of plugins, and wc is far from the best metric, but it's the only one that i've time for while this is still near the top of the list, so i'll just ask:

is this whole project to be viewed more as kick-ass-but-still-in-progress codebase or more like a socio-political statement about what happens when you make creating a single user's experience the priority (vs. trying to roll out an app that could scale your user base while still managing to own all their data)?

anyway, it seems like some of each.

sergiotapia 3 days ago 5 replies      
>It took less than 15 minutes for a person with no experience in any part of the stack to take an existing single user app and make it a multi-user application with robust security and data storage. [] Bravo, hood.ie, brav-fucking-o.

I find that extremely hard to believe.

nailer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly enough this is a very similar business model to GetAngular, where AngularJS originated, a few years ago.


More details: http://www.niden.net/2009/12/world-with-part-1-reviewhow-to....

runawaybottle 3 days ago 1 reply      
So I'm looking at their "Account" api, and I wonder if something similar like that exists for node just for the backend.
reconbot 3 days ago 3 replies      
Moving from a request based business logic to data based business logic (processing incoming data, as opposed to processing incoming http requests) is an interesting shift. Does anyone know what this kind of system is called? I'd love to do more research.
hammadfauz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't realize there there was a name for it. Nobackend. catchy. I use SharePoint server as a nobackend solution. All the apps I write are client-side JavaScript. User profiles, permissions, and authentication are left to SharePoint to deal with. I create lists, query and update them via web services provided out of the box. Even search is provided by a web service, so I don't have to worry about indexing content. All I have to do is build user-centric clients for dealing with the data. It's brilliant.

Hoodie sounds like a great generalization for that, in a public/non-corporate domain. Plus it has events for displaying data changes immediately. What's not to like?

smegel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose it's better than "Bro"...
dahjelle 2 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect this is in the documentation, but I'll ask here anyways: what does Hoodie do with the browser-cached data when a user signs out? Is it entirely removed from the local machine, or does it persist so the user can login while the machine is still offline?

(I suspect there is an attack vector there, though I've not looked into it at all.)

sneak 3 days ago 0 replies      
Getting .ie domains is a pain in the ass. Tons of great domain hacks there but requires a physical presence in Ireland. Good work.
hmslydia 3 days ago 3 replies      
How does this compare/contrast to Meteor?
twunde 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this means that the sample web app no longer breaks if it's kept running for 15 minutes? Or is that problem still around?
coherentpony 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if it's just me, but I think this site hijacks my 'back' button. I'm trying to get a recreate but I'm having some trouble.

Will report back shortly.

josephjrobison 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just realized .ie is an excellent TLD for cute website names
HackinOut 3 days ago 0 replies      
As discussed before here on hn (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5514284), this seems like a great successor (or at least a well-maintained alternative) to CouchApps and Kanso. I will definitively give it a try once PouchDB becomes a dependency :)
thomasfromcdnjs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't find the example link? Is there one?
smrtinsert 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like I should've seen this on the latest episode of Silicon Valley.
itsbits 2 days ago 1 reply      
I see you can add , update data to the db using javascript...is it using nodejs?
mrfusion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't appjet (yc 20xx) try this same idea a few years ago?
alien3d 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice.but the website i see only source code. so kinda confuse how large system can build fast by noob.
fit2rule 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice tool, quite convenient .. having just picked up a MeteorJS requirement for a project, this looks like a nice distraction. ;)
EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
You guys should take a look at http://github.com/EGreg/Q

Not released yet -- but if someone has PHP / JS / PhoneGap skillz and wants to work with us, you can be an early member of the community.

Microsoft announces the Surface Pro 3 theverge.com
260 points by sz4kerto  2 days ago   314 comments top 53
ggreer 2 days ago 16 replies      
That's a really nice piece of hardware. I've used MacBook Airs since 2010, but the Surface 3 looks to be strictly dominating in the hardware department.

Unfortunately, I don't think Microsoft will convert many OS X devs unless they make some changes to their software. One of the advantages of OS X is that it's a Unix, and lots of Unix software runs on it. It's not hard to compile tools such as nmap, Vim, or steam locomotive.

It would be very interesting if Microsoft made Windows a Unix. They could bundle bash or zsh, add the typical BSD tools, and (most importantly) build a cc front-end for the Visual Studio compiler. They'd also have to ship a libc of their own. To save effort, they could base it on BSD's libc. It'd be like Cygwin, but installed by default and officially supported and maintained.

With such a set-up, you'd be able to run your unix tools alongside Adobe CS and Outlook. You wouldn't have to worry about driver support, since Microsoft made the hardware and the OS (just like Apple). The only thing missing would be the ability to dual-boot OS X (to test on Safari or other OS X stuff).

bane 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm starting to see more and more Surface devices in my area. It seems to be getting popular with the Starbuck's salesguy crowd who need something as compact as a tablet, but they can use real applications on. I know that's kind of cliche, but you don't really "get" that meaning until you walk into a coffee shop and see 2 or 3 people sitting around with tablets sticking up on the tables. The Android and iPad guys are usually surfing the web while the Surface guy is editing a spreadsheet or doing something in Powerpoint.

Actually a great network effect is getting a presentation of some business proposal off of a Surface. Everybody who see the presentation usually asks what kind of Android tablet it is, and it suddenly turns every real-estate sales guy in the area into an impromptu Microsoft sales guy, extolling the virtues of the device and OS.

They're still too pricey by my estimation. You should be able to get one of these (maybe a low-ebd 32GB model) with keyboard for $799. I don't get why the keyboard/cover is an optional buy.

iandanforth 2 days ago 5 replies      
Warning, rant. Why the duck isn't there information on the Surface Pro 3 on the MS website? Apple has done this so well, for so long, I am pissed-off MS can't get its act together. You make an announcement, you need presence on the web. You need to start your customers expectations building, whet their appetite, and tease them. Their experience starts now and right now that experience is reading news articles and reading a press release. Pathetic. Where is the video of the announcement? Where are the beautiful images and specs. Where are the carefully and lovingly crafted pages that sell this hardware to me? Tomorrow isn't good enough. Next week is utter failure. You step off stage, your site is live. Period.
skrebbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just when I was "boohoo"-ing over Sony Vaios entirely leaving (WORLD & ~JAPAN), MS does this. Awesome. I would probably buy one if I didn't just buy a new laptop 2 months ago.

The slightly bigger screen also makes this a worthy competitor to "real" laptops (as in, 13" and up) - a first for the Surface IMO.

mikerg87 2 days ago 7 replies      
Small things continue to kill the surface pro acceptance:

- The Surface site on the surface site hasn't updated with surface pro 3 info/pricing. The run way for this is long, why isn't the site updated or ready to go?

- Accessories are notoriously out of stock. Why are they hard to get? Docking station, keyboards, mice. Fix that.

- The dock has 10/100 Ethernet. In 2013-2014? Why?

- Updates for firmware and drivers assume enterprise infrastructure. Without the infrastructure you need a manual upgrade using command line tools. The updates don't come through the normal windows update channel. You have to discover them on your own.

- The track pad on the type/touch cover is flaky . Its forever getting stuck in a fixed place and stuck on gestures you cant turn off or control. You end up having to disconnect the cover and reconnect. this is stupid for an elite/pro device.

Despite the gripes these devices continue to show promise and I see them more and more around airports and coffee shops.

sz4kerto 2 days ago 2 replies      
3:2 screen ratio is a killer feature. The size (800g, 9.1 mm) is quite unbelievable as well.
josefresco 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft needs to keep at it. While this iteration is great, the platform will not flourish if they falter or take a release cycle off. Consistent upgrades to the Surface hardware, and support of the developer community is key to winning the overall tablet war for MS.
ldd- 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a proud Gen 1 Surface Pro owner, this looks spectacular.

My Surface replaced my laptop, and while I definitely had my issues with the transition (trackpad sucks so often use external mouse, aspect ratio is inconvenient for Office, display angle is limiting, and no built-in LTE), I've ultimately come to enjoy using it.

I've almost always got it with me, and I've found I've become nearly as productive on it as I was with my laptop. I've been willing to make the "nearly" tradeoff since I have it on me more often, so more opportunity to be productive, and I do use it as a tablet in ways that I obviously couldn't with my laptop.

The updates in the Gen 3 address nearly all of my gripes (why can't they integrate LTE??). I'm not sure if I'll pick up a 3, but only because my Gen 1 is less than 2 years old and still under warranty. If not a Gen 3, then a Gen 4 will definitely be on my shopping list.

I can't imagine I'll go back to a normal laptop. I guess I'm exactly who they are targeting.

themodelplumber 2 days ago 1 reply      
I look at the environment in which the product was presented and it's just one no-no after another. Check out this photo:


They've picked some awful desaturated blue/green wallpaper image that clashes with the tiles that are supposed to be so great in Windows. Then the tiles themselves have this weird whitespace issue that creates an imbalanced appearance and even allows some tiles to use a right-aligned symbol rather than the default center.

To say nothing of the shirt Panay is wearing. Nice and shiny, I'll give it that.

Then I watch the MS dubstep ad for this product and it's just a bunch of meaningless flash. You don't even get to see people smiling, just music and lights (dah dah-dah). Oh and a pen writing on the screen, as if that's some miracle of modern technology. You can take notes with pictures in them, too.

This is a step up from most Windows laptops, I'm sure, but the presentation really needs improvement. There is amateur work that is so much better than this. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugmR9nq3Yiw -- Wacom review done by an Australian cartoonist.

yulaow 2 days ago 2 replies      
Did I miss that or they said nothing about the battery duration? For me that's a very important information. For the rest is a really great piece of hw


Yep I missed: "Over ~20% more battery life than any product Surface has shipped before"

and: " battery life is up to 9 hours on the Surface Pro 3."

Rudism 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a Surface Pro 2 a while back, mostly excited about the digitizer. I was definitely not disappointed.

From a casual digital artist's perspective (read: I draw a webcomic and occasionally dabble in hobbyist animation), this is a dream device. The ability to sit at my desk with the tablet hooked up to KVM via a USB hub, write and edit my script like on any desktop computer, then simply unplug and start drawing right on the screen is an amazingly satisfying work-flow. Looks like the Surface Pro 3 will only make that even better with the larger screen area.

With the right tools that are touch-enabled for panning, zooming, and rotating, it's basically the perfect way to work.

bcoates 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was holding out for this announcement to upgrade my Surface Pro, which I've been happily using as a main work PC for more than a year now. I'm not big on the size/aspect ratio change--I don't carry a bag around, and the current surface is about as large as I'd want to handle. A bigger, presumably floppier keyboard isn't too enticing either.

3:2 makes the portrait mode go from silly to potentially useable, except for the part where almost no Windows programs are actually usable in portrait mode, and of course the keyboard requires landscape mode anyway.

With no interesting spec upgrades over the Pro 2 (I was hoping for LTE, or more ports) I think I'll get one of those instead.

tdicola 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really akward that they made a point of saying the device is 'fanless' when it clearly has a fan and vents around the side. Sure it might be a very nice and quiet fan, but it sounds disingenuous to be saying there isn't one.
tompagenet2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really impressed by this, especially the 3:2 ratio screen which will be great for writing and for browsing, and amazing for photos. The pen looks great. I've recently been given an iPad by work as part of a trial. It's great for quick e-mails, but really seems hard for me to get 'proper' work done. This might be the thing - shame I have to pay for it.
iaskwhy 2 days ago 2 replies      
For reference:

Surface Pro 3: 12" @ 2160x1440 => 216 PPI

MacBook Air 11": 11.6" @ 1366x768 => 135 PPI

MacBook Air 13": 13.3" @ 1440x900 => 128 PPI

MacBook Pro 13" (Retina): 13.3" @ 2560x1600 => 227 PPI

(Rumor) MacBook Air 12" (Retina): 12" @ 2304x1440 => 226 PPI

evanmoran 2 days ago 0 replies      
Notice in the video he didn't weigh an iPad, he weighed the MacBook Air. Microsoft is going after laptops not tablets with the Surface. This makes sense to me because when I'm working I need a keyboard (typing is just too important). When I'm in a meeting I want to jot notes down with a stylus (feels more personal then typing). This is a pretty impressive bridge between these ideals.
rbanffy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Looks good, but I was expecting a screen with the same specs as Google's Chromebook Pixel. I understand that, beyond a certain point, pixel density ceases to be relevant, but the different numbers mean this is a different part.

Now, I wonder how good would Linux support be.

Also, weighting a keyboardless tablet with a MacBook air is disingenuous at best.

codeulike 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some interesting decisions here. No RT version. Home button on the short edge not the long edge. Clear marketing message: "The Tablet that Can Replace Your Laptop" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t7rSZT_77E I think they might finally be figuring out what they've got here.
vondur 2 days ago 0 replies      
While the device is nice, I still see it as very niche-y item. It's too expensive once you add in a more reasonable amount of storage and the keyboard. For those who benefit from the stylus, I can totally see it being a really useful device. I don't think it will fare any better than the previous iterations.
crayola 2 days ago 3 replies      
$799. Impressive. I think this is a big moment for Microsoft.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would love to see Microsoft come out with Windows/Developer which targeted people who were creating applications rather take existing Windows, which focusses on the big market of App users, and bolting on some developerness.

I could imagine something like CTRL-Alt-F4 on Linux where you press the key combo and the Windows/Apps view is replaced with the Windows/Develop view. Easy access to terminal screens, build tools, layout creators, etc.

bch 2 days ago 0 replies      
If this has good support from *BSD (or perhaps, Linux) -- this sounds like it might be the device that'd tip me from laptop to tablet user as a primary machine.
err4nt 2 days ago 1 reply      
> According to Microsofts Panos Panay, This is the tablet that can replace your tablet.

Does that man have his doctorate in Tautology, or a PhD in saying the same things twice?

archagon 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the battery life and graphics performance are like? If they're decent (6+ hours of moderate use, plays CS:GO at 60fps), this will be a really great machine. The latest i7s tend to have pretty good integrated graphics, so I think at least that won't be an issue.
interpol_p 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how the N-Trig digitiser compares with Wacom? I'm interested in this as a Cintiq replacement.
pjmlp 2 days ago 0 replies      
The ability to use Visual Studio on the go, while keeping the capabilities of a tablet is quite nice.

It sure is on my list, in case I need a laptop replacement.

JimmaDaRustla 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome.

I always say I won't buy a tablet until it is as useful as my laptop - this is a great step in that direction with the multi position stand, 12" screen, core i7, thin and light...Will I actually enter the tablet world?

tdicola 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was anyone else really uncomfortable with Panos singling out Joanna Stern during the event? I don't know if he was trying to praise or berate her, but it just looked terrible and made me feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. Really weird why they would do that--I have no idea what message they were trying to send but it doesn't seem like a good one.
bratsche 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that Microsoft could learn from Apple is to have their online store ready immediately.

Sure, you can't always buy Apple stuff immediately when it's announced (see Mac Pro), but you can always go onto the online store and 'window shop'.

doczoidberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a notebook killer literally. It is for taking notes as a notebook should do. Maybe it is a laptop killer for some too.

Comparisons with Ipad and ohter tablets are ridiculous. This is a working machine.

I think this will be my next machine.

Nobody in the press has mentioned the new power connector by the way. If you look at the docking station all connections are done by this connector. I hope there will be a cable based adapter for usb+dp+power too.

sswezey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unrelated to the actual article content, but what kind of website autoplays two videos when loading the page?! One is annoying enough, but to have two videos start simultaneous doesn't even make sense. That is a terrible user experience.
dudus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see GPS anywhere mentioned in the article or the specs on Microsoft site[1]. Is this taken for granted or did they really not included a GPS sensor with this?

It even mentions the digital compass and gyroscope sensors. I'm having a bad feeling about this.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/products/surface-pro-...

MikusR 2 days ago 0 replies      
And there goes Samsung Note Pro 12.2. The Surface Pro 3 cost's the same, is only 1mm thicker and 50g heavier. And runs full Office and Photoshop.
nmolo 2 days ago 2 replies      
The only downside to this is the HD 4400 graphics unit. [1] I'm worried about it running everything smoothly at 2k. The HD 5000 is much better suited to run at that resolution.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/download/presskits/surfa...

listic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Which CPUs are there in Surface Pro 3?

I was sure the Broadwell Microsoft won't release them for another half a year, because Broadwell CPUs are not announced yet and are expected early next year, or for Christmas season at best.

I wonder whether they are the same Haswell CPUs as in SP2, or did MS get a very special treatment from Intel for Broadwell CPUs?

garg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quite a lot of digital artists were using the surface pro 2 instead of buying the Wacom companion. I think the n-trig stylus will scare a lot of them away from the surface pro 3.
codeulike 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any word on the batter life, what with it being thinner and lighter the previous models?
mung 2 days ago 0 replies      
How can it be 3:2 aspect and HD at the same time? It's one or the other or it has rectangle pixels.

Edit: nevermind... comes in 3:2 AND HD display. This is what happens when you read while doing something else.

olegkikin 2 days ago 0 replies      
What strange pricing.

    i7/256GB = $1,549    i7/512GB = $1,949
That's a lot of money for a slightly larger SSD.

shawn-butler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have any actual working experience with the new pen/stylus capabilities?

The only interesting part of the surface pro was the Wacom digitizer and they are ditching it.

Pricepoint is more attractive, that is for certain.

c0ldfusion 2 days ago 1 reply      
No wonder it's cheaper - N-trig instead of Wacom. (I'm not commenting on the technical merits of either choice, just that one tends to be cheaper than the other.)
bitwize 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awwww, man. N-Trig pen.
sadris 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this an x86 or ARM cpu?
higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Figured that Tom Warren would write the most hyped-up sensationalist Microsoft PR-fed headline for this.
borgchick 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else felt like the presentation was done by the Shamwow guy?
jlockfre 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's nice but it must suck when faced by the behemoth that is the iPad.
ssdfsdf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why are they still trying to turn a tablet into a desktop? They are different things, with different purposes - not everything needs to be the same thing.

Tablet All The Things!!

jarnix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone tried the keyboard on this model ? It's unusable, it's too soft. Did someone try another keyboard for the Surface ?
pling 2 days ago 1 reply      
I still can't get my head round paying for one of these at 1000+ when it's effectively disposable if anything goes wrong. I bought a used i7 Lenovo T410 a couple of weeks back for 150. Totally serviceable and the battery it came with lasts 6 hours. This will be my workstation for a couple of years, plus if its like my T400 it lives in the back of the sofa and takes a beating every day. I'd kill a surface in about two days.
agscala 2 days ago 8 replies      
This sure is a bummer for people who recently bought a Surface Pro 2 (like me). It's unreal that a 6-month old $1200 machine already is outdated
ihsw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Price is too high, it'll never sell in the volume they expect to get (unless their expectations are quite low).
rubiquity 2 days ago 2 replies      
> When you write notes using OneNote you can then click the top of the stylus again, just like an ordinary pen, and it will sync those notes up to the cloud instantly so they're available elsewhere.

Elsewhere -- as in the laptop you will inevitably go crawling back to when it's time to get real work done. It's always humorous when an article about a device that is supposed to kill the laptop ends on a note like that.

aw3c2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone wanna sponsor a broke but aspiring student (me!) with one? :)
China bans use of Windows 8 on government computers reuters.com
261 points by yiedyie  2 days ago   141 comments top 27
xiaq 2 days ago 4 replies      
Chinese here, would love to share some observations:

1) It's likely that the ban on Windows 8 has nothing to do with "power-saving". To me power-saving is just a buzzword in the title of the notice.

2) This notice is concerned with a specific round of bid. So it's not an administrative order, but rather a requirement list for the bidders. If I understand correctly this only applies to computers to be purchased during the bid. I'm not sure about how large the scale of the bid is, though; it may affect 1% of the government computer installations, or 99%. Either is possible without further information.

3) This notice doesn't say anything about Windows 7. What this means that bidders are allowed to provide computers pre-installed with Windows 7 and IMO this is pretty likely. Yes there are conspiracy advocates who would rather stick with Windows XP (I have never been able to understand their reasoning...), but I believe the computer vendors are more sensible. After all it's they who have to provide customer service.

4) This notice is also only concerned with the pre-installed OS. It's totally possible that the government officials may replace the OS with anything they like (which are, unfortunately, most likely pirate copies). I don't know about the central government, but it's common practice in local governments. The central government has very weak executive power when it comes to such detailed things. (Why bother enforcing such regulations after all?)

msvan 2 days ago 6 replies      
There could be a wide range of reasons for this, but I'm pretty sure a large part of it is protectionism. The Chinese government is pretty hostile towards foreign software in China, and they are probably displeased with China's dependence on Windows.

When I lived was in China, I contemplated starting a business there. Burgeoning market, and all. But I came to understand that it's a terrible idea. If you're a foreign national that manages to successfully launch a business in China, you are either morally corrupt, have given substantial bribes or have connections within the government. And if you were to become too successful, the Chinese government will make sure that you either cooperate or become insignificant.

I can't help but think that this strategy will damage their economy in the long run, but for now they are doing pretty well. Kudos to them for being one of few countries that actually manage to resist the massive influence of the US. If the PRC hadn't been protectionist, the Chinese would be using Google and Facebook just like the rest of us.

levosmetalo 2 days ago 11 replies      
China can say whatever they want as a reason for banning, but the fact that they don't believe a US company to provide them with an operating system that even has a slight chance to be NSA secure feels quite sensible.

I guess in the long run we would see a Linux or *BSD sponsored by Chinese government to be used as an official OS. It's not like they lack talent to do it.

BuildTheRobots 2 days ago 2 replies      
Germany did similar 9 months ago; except they specifically state the TPM is _not_ to be trusted [1]

[1] http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-08-26/german-gover...

ntakasaki 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is Windows 7 banned too? Otherwise this doesn't make much sense regarding the so called security reason.

EOL for Windows 7 is 2020, EOL for Windows 8 is 2023. If security is the real issue, they should be banning Windows 7 in favor of Windows 8 (or perhaps Windows altogether in favor of some OS that is a lesser target for malware etc., but I don't see any hint of this).

piokuc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel it may have something to do with the recent news that US charges "five Chinese army officers with espionage charges for hacking into major US companies":http://nypost.com/2014/05/19/us-to-charge-chinese-military-o...
yulaow 2 days ago 2 replies      
I do not understand what they are planning. So they do not want to upgrade to win8... are they considering win7 or they just want to keep using xp indefinitely? There was not a plan of Ubuntu to ship a personalized os version in china some time ago? Where it ended?
Thiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
A super power that doesn't have their own OS is not really a super power.
dawkins 2 days ago 0 replies      
8 hours ago I read this and the reasons where because Windows 8 was expensive in China, now they are talking more about security: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-05/20/c_1333472...
sz4kerto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Prediction: they are going to get to an agreement pretty soon. MS seems to react quite quickly recently.
gtirloni 2 days ago 2 replies      
"windows 8" site:.zycg.gov.cn returns 1050 results. Too bad I can't open them from the US to verify the news myself. Anyone with access can confirm it with details?
alandarev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is not that an irony? Microsoft closes support of XP in hopes people move to W8, while China bans W8 because Microsoft closed XP support.
Ihmahr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can I start hoping for linux and FOSS funding!?
jeveloper 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's definitely political and its no secret.However, they should follow what city of Munich did by systematically switching to Linux (MuLix)


jiyinyiyong 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's also a discuss on Zhihu (think it as Chinese Quora..). Some assumptions:http://www.zhihu.com/question/23831190?rf=23837828

* maybe its for pushing Ubuntu Kylin OS to market * The gap on user interface might bring difficulties in govenment * might be some time bofore the source code is examined. * might be new startups on this market

tom_jones 1 day ago 0 replies      
The idea that competing governments, financial institutions, telecommunications and energy companies, etc use the same software when its proven that there is no such thing as real security is ludicrous. Perhaps Microsofts next big profit will be through developing unique software for single government and corporate entities with connectivity for general information but totally secure for trade and government secrets and personal identification.
njharman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm somewhat surprised they didn't do this long ago. Unless they have the source I'm surprised any government uses any operating system.
ant_sz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think even windows 8 is banned, the government may still keep buying win7 PCs.

Although there are many company in this country are developing linux distribution such as Deepin, the products are still far from easy to use.

But as a Chinese I support this action because this may contribute to free this country of a heavy dependence of MicroSoft's products. Let the younger generation knows there exists not only one operating system in the world will help improve this countries' average computer knowledge.

seanliuxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Both peers are bad, but hate the ideas to make this proceed.

Also a funny to find another post that "Game of thrones author" working on DOS... Lol


shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
They probably worry about backdoors?
nitrobeast 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is very likely that the Chinese government prefers Windows 7 to Windows 8. Why the fuss about XP, protectionism?
sidmkp96 2 days ago 0 replies      
This link won't open up in Safari 7.0.3. Every time I try, CPU shoots up to 100% and nothing happens. Works fine in FF though.
diabloneo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Chinese government will use Windows 8 together with government sponsored Linux based OS.
whoismua 2 days ago 1 reply      
IIRC, large customers--and China's Govt is one of them--have access to the Windows source code so safety and security probably aren't the top concern. They can surely audit the code, they have the expertise, money and manpower.

My guess is that US and China went to war over cyber-spying...

sirdogealot 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be honest I am surprised that they ever sanctioned the use of Windows software at all in China given their general distrust of the west.
leccine 2 days ago 0 replies      
What they mean is, you are not supposed to install a paid copy of Windows 8 on any government computer. (downvoters, hint irony)
superduper33 2 days ago 0 replies      
tl;dr Windows 8 is a piece of crap.
Why I Dont Do CrossFit erinsimmonsfitness.me
244 points by r0h1n  4 days ago   171 comments top 36
omegaham 4 days ago 5 replies      
I deal with CrossFit a lot, as a lot of my coworkers do it and my unit's PT seems to be going in that direction.

1. As said by other posters, CrossFit is huge. And it's not like McDonald's - there's a large amount of variation that's inherent in an organization that barely looks at its members. Instructors are free to come up with whatever program they want.

2. Most personal trainers know absolutely nothing about actually training people. They know what works for them, but they have a very hard time in applying workouts to other people. The workout plan that fits a 220-pound male rugby player is not going to fit a 110-pound female volleyball player or a 350-pound couch potato who is trying to get into shape. Applying the same program to these three people is going to lead to disaster.

3. Crossfit is different from traditional weightlifting, which seems to attract a certain class of people. These people basically say, "I made this switch, and it's done wonders for me! The old paradigm is flawed, and you're an idiot for sticking with it!" You'll notice this incredibly annoying group of people whenever there's an alternative - religion, programming languages / frameworks, etc.

4. Apply #1, #2, and #3, - a very large organization with idiots who loosely fall under it, and a group of people who look down on anyone who isn't a member, and you get a group of people who are really, really easy to hate. And, to some extent, it's completely true. You get the stereotype of the typical CrossFit user who won't shut the fuck up, makes fun of people who go to "regular" gyms, and doesn't actually know what he's talking about. It leads to the jokes of "The first rule of CrossFit is to talk about CrossFit" and "A CrossFit workout isn't complete until you post it on Facebook."

My own experience with CrossFit is that some parts are perfectly fine; there's absolutely nothing wrong with circuit courses, and there's nothing wrong with explosive movement. The problem is when you start doing exercises that require lots of weight and proper form and then CrossFit them - doing as many reps as possible as quickly as you can. Push-ups? Go for it. Burpees? Be careful, but go for it. Snatch, deadlifts, and pull-ups[1]? No, and run far far away before you tear your rotator cuff.

The last thing is that CrossFit doesn't seem to have a goal in mind. As Mark Rippetoe states, "Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout or right after you're through. Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to produce that goal."[2]

This is supremely important. Even someone whose goal is as simple as "Lose weight" and "Look more muscular" needs a training goal, not an exercise goal. CrossFit doesn't seem to deliver that. They talk about their goal being all-around fitness, but they don't have a good methodology for doing so. Take a look at what decathletes, strongmen, and even the CrossFit Games athletes are doing - it certainly isn't CrossFit. That, in and of itself, should let you know that something is badly wrong.



Jabbles 4 days ago 7 replies      
Another article on CrossFit, written by Mark Rippetoe, a famous and influential strength coach, is here:


He makes many of the same points, but I find the arguments more persuasive. It's also interesting to note the arguments in favour of CrossFit.

Finally, Mark seems to have completely different opinions about deadlifting; he regards them as a staple to strength training, whereas the OP "doesn't do" them for unknown reasons. I find the disagreement among professionals to be intriguing.

mitchellh 4 days ago 5 replies      
Disclaimer: I've done crossfit for over 2 years at this point.

This is actually one of the best written anti-crossfit posts I've come across. Most are anecdotal "I went to one gym that didn't focus on form so all gyms must be bad" posts, which are tiring. This post goes over some great details which as a crossfitter I would say are true.

That being said, after doing CrossFit for 2 years I have a few tidbits of advice:

  * Find a gym that focuses on form over workout. They exist, and crossfit is popular enough at this point that you should be able to find it.  * If you don't plan on being SUPER into CrossFit, ask for substitute workouts for the gymnastic moves: handstand pushups, most things with rings, parallel bars, etc. It just isn't worth the time learning how to do these, and you can hurt yourself. Just do something simple, they always have substitutes.  * I personally, like the author of this post, don't do deadlifts and rarely do kettlebell swings. I am not a professional athlete or trainer, but I really primarily only heard of people getting hurt with these workouts, so I chose to avoid them. Sounds like this was a good decision. There are substitute workouts for each.
My goal with CrossFit isn't to be ripped and exploded. My goal with CrossFit is to remain in good physical health based on the fact that I sit (or remain still standing) for 10+ hours per day. To that end, its been a HUGE success. The team environment of CrossFit is a great motivator both to workout hard but also to show up (social pressures). The diversified workouts of crossfit keep my strength up pretty high.

All this being said, listen to the linked post of this entry. It has really good info.

king_magic 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not going to refute the author, merely, here is my experience: I've done CF for 2+ years, and frankly, I've gotten a lot out of it. I like/trust my coaches, I like the community, and I like the challenge. I never thought I'd be capable of what I can do these days, and so for me, it's a success story.

I go twice a week, and have been doing so (roughly) for the past two years, except for a period of a few months where I had a hernia repaired. The origins of the hernia were 5-6 years old, and it never was very painful or caused much in the way of problems, and I actually think that a year of CF actually helped reduce the severity of it (and my surgeon agrees).

Thess days, I take things much easier, but am still making progress against my personal goals.

So at the end of the day, does the author have valid points? Sure. But I think, like pretty much everything people are passionately for or against on the internet, the truth is in a gray area. It's not as black and white as I think the author is making it out to be.

CrossFit has helped a lot of people, myself included. CrossFit hasn't helped some people who have tried it.

You could replace "CrossFit" with "college" (or a lot of other things in life), and I think you'd find that again, the truth is really in a gray area, somewhere in between the opposing factions.

jff 4 days ago 4 replies      
Here's a crossfitter who severed his spine with a poorly-done lift, be warned it's a bit disturbing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qc3kDCB7bA

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/AoClAei.gif

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/uLWrijU.gif

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/s4GWEmj.gif And again! http://i.imgur.com/7gCoxY7.gif and again! http://i.imgur.com/uOXc113.gif

Crossfit! http://i.minus.com/iZUsT11hiMbCz.gif

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/MPSXRUT.gif

Crossfitttttt! http://i.imgur.com/Y2yrqPS.jpg

Crossfit! http://gifsoup.com/view3/4092663/crossssifttt-o.gif

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/gs28aPU.gif

Crossfit! http://i.imgur.com/0iQG9fx.gif

A lot of what you see in there is either officially encouraged ("kipping" = basically cheating at pullups/lifts/whatever for more reps with shit form) or arises from a total lack of proper training on anyone's part (the guy who just powers up the weight with his arms and back rather than using his legs)

Remember, Crossfit: not even once.

krick 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the medical point of view what author says is true. Actually, it's not something new, there are many complaints about crossfit from knowledgeable people. Especially often I see powerlifters ranting about crossfit being harmful.

But here's the problem. As you know HN isn't sports resource, yet article about CF is on top. Why? You see what I mean? It's extremely popular amongst people that don't want to be powerlifters or swimmers or sprinters, that don't really care about competing at all, they just want to have some exercising program to follow and stay fit. Which is totally fair. For which crossfit is better than nothing (at least until you injure your ankle while doing box-jumps). And I completely understand those who doesn't follow advices like "don't do crossfit, do powerlifting" as powerlifting competitions cannot be the goal for them.

What I'm saying is when there is counter-advice there should be advice as well. Now, Erin isn't a powerlifter and sure she provides something like "fitness training plan", but while the idea of crossfit training is clear (maximizing intensity whatever exercises you do) neither she nor others provide enough material for self-education to be able to do some "not-harmful crossfit". And people essentially want "not-harmful crossfit", not training for judo or sprinting or powerlifting unless they do judo or sprinting or powerlifting of course.

So, tl;dr: crossfit is harmful nothing new here. "Train like an athlete, but train safely." not informative/constructive enough.

natejenkins 4 days ago 1 reply      
For the most part, I think people want a workout to follow, they want to be part of a gym, and they want fellow sufferers and coaches to motivate them.

I don't think the motivation for people doing CrossFit is worded correctly. People want to do CrossFit because it's fun. For most people, going to a normal gym is boring. I tried gyms on and off for years but could never stick to going more than 4-6 weeks at a time before losing interest. While I don't do CrossFit, I do another sport that replaces lifting, climbing in my case. I get most of the benefits of going to a gym plus it is insanely fun and I've met countless friends through it.

There is a huge market out there for fun replacements for the gym. I'm guesstimating that 75% of the people in a regular gym are not having a good time and would swap their current workout routine with something enjoyable and social. There simply aren't many choices. I can think of climbing, CrossFit, the up-and-coming parkours gyms (looks awesome: http://www.apexmovement.com/), probably boxing (although surprisingly getting punched in the face sucks), what else? In principle yoga could be on this list but in practice the yoga centers I've been to feel a bit uptight and certainly aren't social. Team sports are great fun but all I can think of are cardiovascular and don't give you any muscle building exercises.

peteretep 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why I don't do CrossFit: I got tired of getting injured.
micro_cam 4 days ago 1 reply      
The popularity of cross fit can be explained, at least in part, because it promises to cram an extremely effective workout into a short period of time that is easy to fit into ones day using short intense intervals and paired opposition exercises. It is almost presented as a hack to get fit in a small amount of time (and is not, to me, out of place on hacker news).

Setting aside the idea that the culture can contribute to people doing exercises wrong and risking injury the debate over cross fit become about weather short, intense, interval workouts are effective.

Famed alpine climber (and trainer to the stars of the movie 300) Mark Twight was an early proponent of the cross fit style work outs but has since returned to including longer endurance style workouts in his programs. He stated in an article titled something like "There is no free lunch" that he saw initial gains from the cross fit style but that endurance began to suffer seriously after 18 months. [1]

Another great climber/multi sports athlete Will Gadd has a number of posts and articles on cross fit and is generally a fan but uses it between sports specific training and with more emphasis on correct form and less on time. [2]

A balanced conclusion would seem to be that cross fit style work outs are better then nothing, can be effective as part of a large training plan even for serious athletes but that we should be aware of the risks of injury and must take personal responsibility for doing exercises correctly. And should still find time to get out for long hikes, bike rides etc if we are interested in having true all day endurance fitness.

[1] The article has since disappeared from his "Gym Jones" website but excerpts can be found here:http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2008/07/intervals-f...http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5963


jasallen 4 days ago 1 reply      
While I agree with the end sentiment "Crossfit is not a great program" I've got several problems with this article.

1) A lot of discussion of being sore. Sure one of the first things mentioned is "I've been sore before", but then we move on to more complaining about it. That is a natural part of doing any new movements, no matter how in shape you are overall.

2) No appreciation of the value of high rep movements. True, they are not good for hypertrophy (probably, even there the research is shakey whether low and high should be mixed), but they are good for building connective tissue strength, for burning calories, for increasing range of motion in a movement, for bone density...

3) Author links a balanced WebMD article but the link text implies it fully agrees with the negativity.

4) Article doesn't talk much about joint issues which are probably the biggest concern a lot people have with crossfit movements. The violence of many of the movement can lead to muscle and connective tissue problems, but those heal and are obvious.

So, what are my issues with Crossfit?

1) Quality control. The excuse of crossfitters to "just find a better gym, they aren't all like that" is inadequate. Its a single program and a single franchise making money off each gym-goer, not an abstract concept like say HIIT. Ask Krispy Kreme or Quiznos how the no-quality control franchise theory works.

2) They rely on joint stability and momentum as much or more than on muscle. You are simply getting no benefit from that.

3) The movements are violent unnecessarily, this I agree with the author on. The joint reliance, the tugging at muscles and tendons, are all high risk for injury. While there are things that type of work can build that regular weight training cannot, the risk/reward is only worth it for people with specific training needs and doing specifically valuable movements. Kettle bells and kipping pull ups are pretty much never as valuable as good mornings, dead lifts, assisted pullups, and lat pulldowns. Clean and jerk has valuable movements taken separately, but combines them with high joint risk moves in between.

eshvk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Crossfit was my first introduction to Weight lifting. In that sense, I am very grateful to CrossFit. However, the process of learning form is incredibly hard. I went to one of the best Crossfit boxes in SF and while I have complete faith that they did emphasize good form, being overwhelmed by the number of new things I had to learn while maintaing good form was too much for me. This came to a culmination where I hurt my knee while doing fast reps of deadlifts.

Since then, I follow my own program of mixing strength and cardio-vascular activity. It took me two years to learn good form. And good form is really really hard to learn. Mainly because you have to go beyond prescriptive advice from books, coaches or the internet and find out what works well with your body. For example, I have relatively long femurs and a narrow squat stance ends up creating additional pressure on my knees. It took me a long fucking time to get over the prescriptive instructions that one's squat stance has to be shoulder width.

Another thing that I personally realized was that very few people understand the principles behind a fitness goal as opposed to cargo cult practices. For example, for a long time, I thought that the only way to build strength was to do barbell exercises. On the other hand, there is a place for machines. This surprised me. Especially since the internet (bodybuilding.com/reddit) seem to chant about how anyone who doesn't do barbells is doomed.

Also, learn the limits of your body. If you are not 17 and filled with natural testosterone or pump your body with steroids, it is going to be hard for you to achieve the kind of transformations that a lot of people appear to achieve. As you grow older, your body just doesn't want to keep gaining muscle.

blue11 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was probably the best critique of Crossfit that I've read so far. Personally, I've been doing Crossfit for 2+ years and I've got a lot out of it. In fact, I have been in the best shape of my life because of it. At the same time I've always had issues with some things. For one, the nutrition principles that they advocate, basically the Paleo diet, is quite questionable in my opinion (although not really harmful , since it's basically a low carbm, high protein diet). And, yes, there are lot of practices that predispose to injuries. In fact, I'm currently recovering from an injury that I am pretty sure I got at CF, although it wasn't the type of injury that you can pinpoint to a particular moment. Even though I believe that it was mostly my fault, because of bad form, and because of underestimating the damage for months and making it worse, at the same time it is true that the CF environment is such that it increases the chance of people injuring themselves.

However, this and other articles criticizing CF don't really understand the appeal of CF to most of the people that go there. The criticism is usually coming from serious athletes (and I use the word broadly to include professional athletes, semi-professional, and people that have always been just good at sports). Guess what, most people are not athletes, they do not have the knowledge or the motivation to come up with a proper training program and execute it on their own, and they are easily discouraged when sports do not come naturally easy to them. Most people are like me, they want to show up 3 times a week, do whatever workout has been prepared for them, and have an instructor advise them on what their doing. There is not much out there that comes close to CF. There are two big strengths of CF: Variety and Accessibility. Variety: CF is an all around training program, which might be bad for professional athletes, but it's great for people who just want to be fit. Where else would you go if you wanted to "properly" train on your own? Regular gyms like 24-hour Fitness don't have some of equipment like climbing ropes, GHD sit ups, pull-up bars (they might have one for the whole gym), and they have limited areas for doing things like barbell squats. (There was recent story about a popular gym eliminating the squat frame because it was "intimidating".) Accessibility: CF welcomes _everyone_. The complaint that the WOD is one-size-fits-all is not quite valid. Any exercise can be scaled down appropriately for each member. That means reducing the weight, reducing the reps, exercise substitution (e.g, doing inclined push-ups for beginners, or doing 3 pull-ups & 3 dips instead of 1 muscle-up, etc.), reducing the workout length and so on. That's how everyone gets to do the WOD. This is a big deal when you are a beginner! Even if you can't do a hand-stand or a musle-up, there are other things you can do and actually make progress. An finally one other thing: price. Yes, CF membership is expensive, but it is also several times cheaper than a personal trainer, and if you go to classes that are 5-12 people you basically have a trainer when you need one.

I've tried different things before, but nothing was as easy to follow or as effective as CF. Right now I'm kind of worried about going back to CF after I recover, as I realize that the chance of getting another serious injury is significant. But at the same time I don't see anything else that has all the benefits. I'd be kind of curious to hear if other people have found alternatives. Most of the suggestions so far are a long of the lines what a motivated athlete would do, but they don't work for people who just want to exercise casually for 5 hours a week and get a balanced workout.

danielodio 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm seeing lots of opinions from people who don't do CrossFit.

Here's one from someone who actually is doing CrossFit:

I'm a member at the CrossFit Palo Alto (CFPA) box (that's what we call the gyms, because they're typically a sparse box-shaped gym). I've also dropped in on other boxes across the country, which I do when I'm traveling.

The #1 thing to know about CrossFit is that while it's a 'brand,' it's not a consistent experience between boxes. It's actually very, very different. Erin's post doesn't make a ton of sense to me because it's as if she's saying "I don't date men, because all men are jerks." Some men are, but some aren't. It's the same with CrossFit. I'm sure that the things she described actually happened to her at a CrossFit box, but they've never happened to me at CFPA.

I've been to boxes where I wouldn't go back. But CrossFit at CFPA has been life changing for me as an entrepreneur. It's one hour, three times per week. I get a very high ROI off of those three hours of commitment. I've been at it for a year now and while I was intimidated when I first started, I've gotten to the point where I look forward to the workouts now. The thing that's great about CrossFit is how it makes the other things you do in your daily routine easier. I'm a new dad and I carry my daughter in a bjorn, which means I have to squat when she drops something and I have to pick it up. CrossFit has made squatting easy, for example.

CrossFit can be disastrous if you don't know how to keep from pushing yourself harder than you should. Everything at CFPA is tempered with weight decisions that are very personal. I've never once felt pressured to go to a higher weight; if anything I was frustrated early on because the coaches wouldn't let me go as high as I thought I could. Some boxes likely aren't as good at monitoring that.

United Barbell up in SF is good, as is Horsepower in LA. Those are the three boxes I've been to that I thought were very professionally (and safely) run. Hope that helps.

theboss 4 days ago 1 reply      
cross fit is really an infiritating thing. The people who do it are sometimes diehard fans with absolutely no knowledge of how to build strength or an "elite athlete". A lot of people just like the brand...

But the diehard fans aren't the worst part. Cross fit the organization loves to shut people down who speak poorly of them. They also have made a lot of unsubstantiated claims about the type of results that can be expected by following cross fit programming (which is laughably bad). Its also thought that they run the cross fit games unfairly since there is a conflict of interest in sponsoring their top athletes and putting on the cross fit games where their sponsored athletes and no sponsored compete.

The worst part is the bad programming and the dangers of having a coach who is instructing you to do things that are obviously bad ideas. Extremely high rep oly lifting is a reciepe for disaster since the lifts are very skill based.

With all that said. One thing about cross fit is really good. They have got people training with barbells and started a lot of people down a path where they can start getting information they need to train better and smarter. But I'll be saving my 100 a month..

AndrewBissell 4 days ago 0 replies      
One thing no one has really mentioned yet, which I will throw out as a major positive impact from CrossFit, is that it's often a member's first exposure to more paleo styles of diet. I've personally found that to be hugely beneficial in reorienting my attitudes toward fat and meat, which are still unfortunately (and baselessly) viewed as dangerous in both pop culture and mainstream diet orthodoxy.
rrosen326 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm an ex-crossfitter and thought this and the Rippetoe article mentioned were excellent. They have the ring of truth. I loved Crossfit, miss it, and yet probably won't go back.

It wasn't the suffering - that was a positive. It wasn't the injuries - I had chronic shoulder pain that ultimately led to a torn bicep tendon during a set of high-rep cleans for time (of course). The problem was one that Rippetoe mentioned - I just wasn't improving. I suffered extravagantly. Most days I was prostrate on the floor. Many days took me hours till I wasn't nauseous. But I just wasn't getting better. I actually switched to Rippetoe's Starting Strength program and now Wenders 531 and have made steady progress (on strength, at least).

So Crossfit was super fun, but didn't work for me. But the weird thing is that there were many INCREDIBLE athletes in my gym. They were SUPER fit. And they got that way doing Crossfit. So somehow this random variation of high-effort work does work for some people.

Another challenge is what to do if you want to improve but not do Crossfit? There are 3-5 CF gyms within 15 minutes of my house. There are a couple of lame normal gyms. My old CF gym had world-class knowledgeable instructors. I have not been able to find a replacement. And while learning from a book like Starting Strength is ok at the beginning, eventually you need expert help. CF is easy to find. World class strength coaches for the recreational athlete are not.

jttam 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am an injured crossfitter. I herniated my L4 vertebrae's disc, and I will likely never be the same. That being said I also used to be a 305 pound man who became a 192 pound man on Crossfit and its concepts. I have never been a "zealot" but I do have some problems with this article.

My problems with this article are multiple, but the big glaring one which people seem to be repeating here over and over again are that Crossfit level 1 certified coaches only "spend a weekend". They make it sound like these people literally came off the street never having done Crossfit before and got certified that weekend.

Maybe that's true. But I've never met a person who took the level 1 let alone became a coach at a box that didn't already have a good chunk of time actually doing WODs and improving from them under their belt. They have gone through the discipline in their own practice and have decided coaching that would be something useful for them. Unlike NASM where you can read a book and get certified, there is a hands-on/lab teaching component. This should be lauded. And no, not everyone is a great teacher, and the best judgment is on the community to determine if someone is working or not. (I've seen Crossfit instructors be dismissed from boxes.)

I would like the OP to quote some articles and provide some science around why the Crossfit HIIT/circuit style training is actually dangerous. I understand the concept, that when in fatigue doing additional work is dangerous, and that Crossfit encourages this at some level, but it's always on the discretion of the participant to put the bar down, to stop doing the pull-ups, and to stop where they got to that session in a WOD. The real challenge in Crossfit is not to leave it all out on the floor, it's to know when to stop leaving it.

What Crossfit does that I see a lot of personal training and individual training programs neglect are concentrations on proper mobility, warm-up, and form. And this comes from a guy who started Crossfit basically near the worst possible shape you can.

Another thing is I was able to study for a year+ with a multi-year Crossfit Games placing athlete, and they used Crossfit WODs to train. Pretty much exclusively. The volume was amped up for sure, but the same movements and the same formats. Maybe the really, really successful people don't do that? But the interviews I see with Rich Froning and Mikko Salo tend to basically say they do three workouts a day in the crossfit-style format. Metcons, endurance, strength. Oh well, I'm late to this party, but my $0.02.

bmoresbest55 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am was a college basketball player and have played some professional ball as well. I lift on a daily basis and have been doing so (not daily) for just over a decade. I honestly don't know that much about CrossFit. I don't get caught up in all the hype of different weight lifting exercises or different name of workouts.

The number one thing that I can gather from reading this article and understanding how people typically act when exercising, trying to make themselves better, is that they judge others harshly. Even the OP is quite harsh on CrossFit. She has so much "experience" because of her championships and whatnot but I, to a certain degree, have to disagree with her. Not because she is right or wrong but because of her lack of experience in CrossFit. She is telling others not to do it under any circumstances simply because she never experienced these workouts in her collegiate career. Maybe this is something new and better (probably not) but I do not like how she has given herself power to proclaim so many others wrong. Just as they would do to her if given the chance. I think the OP should have been more understanding or even more persuasive in her post. That, I feel, is a make better way to get people on your side. (Not that we are not all on the same side.)

CrossFit on the other hand does not seem to be a proper vehicle for getting the masses in a proper routine. Trainers should not be deemed as such in a weekend and that is sad. However, as always people are lazy and do not read the fine print. This is a problem deeper than CrossFit or exercising in general.

I guess overall my comment is here to say make your own path and earn it. Do not rely on others to do so and also if your do have experience and truly think your can help others become a trainer or coach (after YEARS of training) and help others reach their goals. Don't post an off-the-cuff article about how you are awesome and everyone else is not and expect things to change.

jonas_b 4 days ago 1 reply      
FWIW. Here in Oslo, everyone has to do a weekend-intro just to become a member. And instructors are here are really thorough. Other than getting a personal trainer, I don't see how you could get more attention/correction than going to entry-level workout at my gym.
decasteve 4 days ago 2 replies      
As a former athlete I like the direction CrossFit took even though I have similar complaints to the article. I try not to paint all CrossFits as the same. I know a few that are exceptionally well run. I like that CrossFit got people away from the 1980's muscle-mag workouts--isolation exercises, i.e. everyone training like Arnold.
socrates1998 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have always said people like and do Crossfit not for the workout, but for the atmosphere.

It's a subpar workout done in an unsafe manner, but they have created a strangely cult-like culture that people are dying to be a part of.

People want to be a part of something that is "cool" and "advanced".

This is the primary draw of Crossfit. And the girls.

barsonme 4 days ago 0 replies      
CF is so easy to hate on, and for good reason. My only issue is that the idea behind CF (work till failure, repetition, and so on) isn't bad in and of itself. Doing 50 cleans isn't bad, per se, it's how you do it that makes it bad. And CF tends to be run by people who propagate bad form, too much weight, and that leads to people getting hurt.

I think it brings both good and bad things to the table, and gets loads of hate because the bad is really bad.

I still won't do CF though. And it does tend to be much like a cult, as ZenPro said. That's weird as well.

steffenhiller 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finally a better anti-crossfit post with details and references.

My question: Whats a good alternative?

Ive been only to one crossfit gym for half a year (and stopped because I went to a place without a crossfit gym nearby, I plan to start crossfit again).I think I got lucky to have been at a good gym,and as others have pointed out, the author cannot simply assume all gyms are bad.

Heres my personal experience:

- Before a WOD, we ALWAYS did a refresher on the form of the WODs exercises WITHOUT weights

- The gym offered weekly special classes from professional weight lifters and gymnasts for working on form

- Sometimes, at the end more often, there were 2-3 coaches for a group of around 5 - 15 that watched the form

- I think we never did deadlifts within a WOD, only before as a separate exercise

- In WODs with time-limited sets the coaches always said we can take a minute time out if we reach the limit of a set

- I never saw coaches screaming boot camp-style

- I didnt like partner WODs as they pushed me too hard and therefore made me neglect my form. Those partner WODs were only done once a week, so I simply didnt go at that day.

Overall, my experience in terms of coaching and results was multiple times better than at any normal gym I went before.

DennisP 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering whether CrossFit's approach is especially hard on the heart. A friend of mine, in his mid 40s, had been working out for a year, then went to his first CrossFit class. At home afterwards he laid down for a nap, had a heart attack, and died.

It's entirely possible that it was going to happen anyway, but for us older folks maybe a little extra caution is warranted for this type of exercise.

newaccountfool 4 days ago 1 reply      
I get coached at Olympic Weightlifting and all the people in our circle slag of Crossfit due to the cult nature of it, the lack of form and the cost. Is it really that expensive how much is it to train at a Corssfit gym in the states?
eterps 4 days ago 3 replies      
The problem is that other than having a personal trainer I don't see anything better than CrossFit gyms. The 'normal' gyms are usually a lot worse than CF ones, at least around here (I am living in Amsterdam). Would love to hear other experiences though.
paulbaumgart 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've only done it at http://www.crossfitv16.com so my experience may not be typical, but in the classes I've been taking, there's a strong emphasis on good technique and no pressure to push yourself past reasonable limits. It's definitely a bit amateur compared to what top coaches can offer, but it's also affordable to amateur athletes.

Finally, the workouts are clearly not optimal for strength gain, but the idea is to train coordination and balance as well.

So I guess my point is, YMMV when it comes to Crossfit gyms, perhaps unsurprisingly given that it's a franchise.

iblaine 4 days ago 0 replies      
The first rule of crossfit is to tell everyone that you are taking crossfit. I went to crossfit in the bay area. Seriously some of the most annoying people in the world.
huherto 4 days ago 5 replies      
But it doesn't answer the question. How would you modify crossfit to make it safer and more effective and keep it fun.
the_watcher 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not commenting on CrossFit, but the author makes some simply incorrect assertions (kettlebells aren't beneficial? Empirically untrue. Doesn't mean everyone has to do them, but that doesn't mean there is no benefit).
ZenPro 4 days ago 0 replies      
A well written and comprehensive rebuttal to the cult-like CrossFit. Thanks for the link.
cyphunk 4 days ago 1 reply      
WTF, this is frontpage HN?
QuantumChaos 4 days ago 0 replies      
Many people have commented on the safety of deadlifts in the article.

I believe that there is a cognitive bias towards attributing injuries to form as opposed to random chance.

Suppose that even with perfect form, there was baseline injury rate (and the injury rate increased beyond this with bad form). It would be very easy to attribute any injury, ex-post, to bad form. Reasons for this might be that a person doesn't want to appear unknowable/unskilled, wanting a feeling of control over their future outcomes, or feeling guilt about not having accomplished their goals.

When I injured my knee doing squats (patellofemoral tracking/pain), I related my symptoms to a doctor friend, who correctly diagnosed the issue, and commented that it usually happens when people try to squat too much weight. I was about to correct him that the weight in itself is not the issue, if perfect form is used. At that point I realized that the bias I described above might exist.

paltman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a mistake to apply one-size-fits-all advice to CrossFit. Can it be dangerous? Sure. Can it work well if you are not an idiot? Sure.

Bottom line is, you, as the athlete, must listen to his body first and foremost.

Push through soreness, sure. But acute pain? No way.

The problem is, perhaps, that non-athletes come into CrossFit and haven't learned the difference and are not coached on the difference. As a former college athlete (football), that nuance had become second nature to me and therefore I know when to use the coaching prompts to push through to motivate me and I also know when to ignore them because I feel a potential injury coming or realize my form is breaking down.

I think part of the problem might lie in how easy it is to become CrossFit certified, not with the regimes themselves.

Huggernaut 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do CrossFit and I think CrossFit has many problems. I do not however, think that given proper instruction and supervision, the exercises and rep ranges are particularly problematic. The key point to keep in mind regarding CrossFit is the end goal, the CrossFit games. CrossFitters are not training to be bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen, football players or sprinters, they are training to be CrossFitters. If they do a WOD, it is not designed optimally to make them aesthetic or strong, it is designed to improve them in competition. Much like you would not go to an athletic track and complain that the sprinters are not optimally training for a marathon or go to a powerlifting gym and complain the players are not training optimally for bodybuilding, why would you go to a CrossFit gym and complain they aren't training optimally for any number of other forms of competition that involve weight?

That said, it should be clear to people when they sign up to a CrossFit gym that this is indeed the case and other benefits are side effects.

skizm 4 days ago 5 replies      
First let's start with a lesson on affiliate vs franchise. Crossfit (the company) is an affiliate model. You pay $3k a year to use their name and $1k to be "certified". That's it. You can start whatever kind of gym you want now, as long as you don't bash the Crossfit name. Crossfit cannot enforce quality control measures as an affiliate which is why so many gyms are shit. If Crossfit enforced quality control, they would be pushing themselves into the franchise category and open themselves up to all kinds of liabilities. They don't want this so they stay hands off and just run the games each year.

Back to the article...

Welcome to every single Crossfit argument for the last 10 years. Coaches are bad, high rep oly moves are bad, everyone's form is bad, blah blah blah.

The answer to every single complaint this guy has is that he is in a terrible crossfit gym with terrible coaches. Granted, there are a lot of terrible crossfit gyms out there and a lot of terrible coaches. That doesn't make crossfit in general bad.

Crossfit is a sport, just like boxing, MMA, and skateboarding are sports. Sports come with inherent risks. Deal with it or don't do it. Some people do these sports with the main purpose of getting in shape, but also want to have a little fun since benching by yourself in the morning can get boring. They dumb down the movements to remove some of the risks but still capture the nature of the sport. This is exactly like people who take kickboxing classes at the YMCA. Kickboxing is dangerous, yet no one is arguing that we should cancel all kickboxing classes.

It boggles my mind sometimes. Why are people so offended by Crossfit? Who cares what other people do to get in shape? There are people doing parkour on the top of buildings, jumping dirt bikes over the grand canyon, and snowboarding down mountain sides and no one cares about them. Why is Crossfit special?

Is It Better to Rent or Buy? nytimes.com
242 points by ovechtrick  16 hours ago   130 comments top 22
mbostock 9 hours ago 12 replies      
Author here. Thought Id highlight my favorite, perhaps non-obvious feature: the slope of the charts tells you whether the variable is positively or negatively correlated with the cost of buying. And depending on the settings, that slope can change from positive to negative.

For example with the defaults, the down payment chart is flat. This means the total cost of buying is relatively unaffected by the size of your mortgage. Felix Salmon pointed out this demonstrates the ModiglianiMiller theorem:


Of course, theres still a big intangible difference between having debt and not having debt, like your ability to respond to market or income changes. And in an inefficient market, loans can be more or less expensive.

Playing with the variables and seeing slopes change from positive to negative or vice versa is interesting, too, because these suggest different optimal decisions. Like as your investment return rate goes up, the down payment slope becomes increasingly positive meaning when stocks are doing well (and assuming mortgage rates arent also going up), its better to have a smaller down payment and put more money into investments. To a lesser degree, your marginal tax rate changes the slope of the down payment as well, by discounting the mortgage interest payments.

The magnitude of the slope also gives a sense of your risk: you can see how sensitive the equivalent rent estimate is to small changes.

jbarham 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This calculator ignores the fact that the market for real estate buyers is increasingly global but the rental market is local.

If you are in your 20's and grew up in a middle class family in Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland, and have a middle class job, it is virtually impossible for you to be able to afford to buy a house in the city in which you grew up. E.g., here's a New Yorker article on the impact of the global property market in Vancouver: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2014/05/26/140526ta_....

The political fallout from the intergenerational inequality over property ownership in Canada, Australia and NZ is going to be very interesting to watch...

millstone 8 hours ago 4 replies      
My wife and I found a great apartment to rent. It was spacious, quiet location, reasonable rent. We were happy for a few years.

Then the owners sold the complex, and the new owners set out to remodel everything, very much against our wishes. Construction crews started entering our apartment. They came in while we were out, laying down plastic sheets and moving our furniture around. They sometimes came in while I was sleeping, and while I was getting dressed. It was humiliating: I felt stripped of my privacy and dignity.

Buying allows you to control your property, but more significant to me is what renters must endure: arbitrary changes to their home, allowing unfamiliar men to enter their homes uninvited, etc. As a homeowner, nobody enters my home uninvited, unless they have a search warrant!

jleyank 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I said this when such a thread came up the last time: If you can (easily) switch jobs without moving it might make sense to buy. If you can't, however, renting is the safer option as you can move if/when there is a problem with the job. Domiciles can be rather illiquid at times, which sucks when you need to move for work.

It's a separate question if it's worthwhile to buy at all, as that's dependent on geography, present and future market trends, lifestyle choices, ...

marknutter 10 hours ago 5 replies      
If you buy, you can do whatever the heck you want to with the house or your yard. That's true freedom and to some people - myself included - worth every penny.
gfodor 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem with this (admittedly very good) calculator is there are two key knobs that require massive amounts of speculation but have a huge impact on the decision: projected return on investment and expected home price growth. Good luck predicting either of these over the next 10 years.
blue11 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Buying a home is not an investment, it's a quality of life improvement. Something that I usually don't see mentioned in rent-vs-buy arguments is that the housing stock that's available for sale can be very different from what's available on the rental market. The two markets are similar only at the low end. If you want something nicer, the chance that you are going to find exactly what you want is very slim. Even "luxury" apartments for example typically have beige carpet, cheap appliances, cheap bathroom fixtures, etc. For a private landlord it doesn't make sense to upgrade the property above the bare minimum either. It's just not cost effective. And if you are looking to rent a single family house your choice will be even more limited. Now, if you buy your home, with some reasonably priced improvements you can improve your level of comfort significantly. Of course, not everybody cares about these things. If you don't care too much about where you live then renting makes perfect sense.
Shivetya 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I will tell you my reason to own a home, large at that, even though I am single. I have seen friends/coworkers have to move after leases were not renewed. I have seen friends/coworkers lose put up with stuff about their rentals I would not tolerate as an owner. Sure it go fixed, but damn. I have also seen them held hostage to rising rents just to renew.

Yeah it can be more expensive at times, more work definitely, but I never have to worry about someone else deciding they don't want me living here.

iamthepieman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I resisted buying for a long time for mostly flexibility reasons. Eventually, with a 2.85% 15 year rate and a roughly 2.5% home price growth rate it was just stupid not to buy.

This is a great tool. I would have to find a rental for nearly half (60%) the going rate in order for renting to make sense in my area.

mcarvin 10 hours ago 1 reply      
For full disclosure I am a founder of the company but many of the mistakes in math / modeling made in the NYT Tool are corrected at SmartAsset. One example is the tax consequence of ownership - which because of the standard deduction is overestimated for lower value homes (<$250,000).
refurb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The calculator is surprisingly accurate based on some math I did late last year when thinking about buying a house.

A small (1300 sq ft) house in SF can be bought for $750K in some neighborhoods in the south of the city. The ones in between the fancy ones and the crappy ones.

I did a pretty detailed analysis of what everything would cost. Loss of investment income on the down payment, insurance, property taxes, etc. And came out to around $4100.

You can rent the same house in SF for around $3750/month, so unless you're assuming a pretty spectacular rise in home values, it doesn't make sense to purchase.

adamkittelson 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd personally find this more useful if I could start with what I'm paying for rent and get a result of "If you can buy a similar home for less than $xxx,xxx then buying is better."
al_gore 10 hours ago 1 reply      
There is nowhere that I particularly want to live that I could possibly afford to buy in, though.
re_todd 2 hours ago 0 replies      
My uncle bought his house and pays $300/month in a neighbourhood where rent is $1,500/month on a similar home. He is near the end of a 30-year loan, and will retire soon, paying just property taxes and upkeep. Keeping the long-term in mind, it seems better to buy.
Tycho 9 hours ago 1 reply      
zappo had a list of uk cities comparing rent prices with interest only mortgage price. Some cities eg. Edinburgh showed hardly any difference (for comparable sized properties).

What I'm not sure about though is how it compares to a traditional principal and interest mortgage. Obviously your interest payments fall as the mortgage amortises... So then how does total interest compare to money spent on rent in that case? That's what most people would be wondering when it comes to evaluating renting vs buying...

snarfy 8 hours ago 3 replies      
When interest rates are low, prices are high, and when rates are high, prices are low. It's fairly straight-forward. Your payment works out about the same. You should buy when rates are high and prices are low because you can renegotiate the rate later. You can't renegotiate the price.

Rates are still pretty low now, and thus I continue to rent.

lazyant 7 hours ago 1 reply      
We need one like this but Canada; no tax breaks on mortgage interests or property taxes up here :-(
hashberry 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Two important adjustments when using this:

"Investment return rate" -- Only 4%? An index fund will return higher than that.

"Monthly common fees" -- Required if you are considering buying a condo. This changes the per month rent comparison dollar-for-dollar.

wkd415 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Would love to see this for lease or buying cars...
aet 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the NYT has redone this interactive piece like 50 times now.
So Youre Not Desirable nytimes.com
236 points by wallflower  5 days ago   132 comments top 22
Udo 4 days ago 6 replies      
The article makes a good case for "when they get to know you, some of them will fall for you."

When I was still young and at least somewhat cute, I remarked to a friend how depressing it was that women always go for rich and arrogant men. My friend's reply absolutely changed my perspective on this: by choosing socially well-accepted and successful men they actually place a lot more emphasis on the inner values than males do. In a very real sense, women love you for who you are (=rich and successful) as opposed to what you look like (=a characteristic you can't do much about).

Contrast that with male perception, if you think a girl is attractive, everything she says suddenly sounds meaningful and important. Of course the article is correct, once you actually get to know people, this changes. But for getting the foot in the door so to speak, attractiveness and an aura of importance respectively are probably still the most important vectors.

I just want to mention for completeness' sake, and only because it would be taboo to express this in a magazine article: if you're really unhappy with the dating rat race, and it's genuinely not realistic for you to improve your chances by optimizing these superficials, it is possible to just opt out of everything. I know it's controversial and for some reason it upsets a lot of people when I tell them that I just stopped. Contrary to popular belief, this mating thing is not something which you absolutely must accomplish. I've crossed to this other side, and it's really really peaceful here. ;)

te_platt 4 days ago 2 replies      
I remember during my first year at college looking through a friend's high school yearbook remarking on some of the girls I thought were cute but he didn't. He made comments that didn't have to do with their physical appearance - like "she was mean" or "she was rude". When he looked through my yearbook the same thing happened, we just switched sides. I thought it was interesting how knowing the person actually changed the assessment of how physically attractive someone was. Not overwhelmingly so but definitely enough to notice.
rjknight 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel that this could have been stated much more simply:

1) There are personal attributes which are easily observable (mostly physical, also charismatic and possibly social status). This is basically what we can know about a person from appearance alone.

2) There are personal attributes which are less easily observable, and these include temperament, interests, response to various situations, behaviour outside of group situations. To know these things requires much greater time interacting with a person, possibly in smaller groups or one-on-one.

People's tastes in #1 are mostly uniform. Someone rated highly for #1 by one person is likely to be rated highly by any other person. The same is emphatically not true of #2, where ratings vary wildly.

As exposure to #2 increases, it increases in importance over #1. Let's say that #2 constitutes 80% of your overall "rating" of a person, and you really like them so they're a 9 despite scoring only a 5 on the initial assessment. Their total score is 8.2. Someone who scores a 10 for #1 but a 4 for #2 scores 6.2. These numbers might be off and they might vary between people but I think it's a pretty simple idea.

Most people are taking this as a suggestion about their own attractiveness, but the flip-side argument is possibly even more important - the person you're most likely to be really attracted to isn't necessarily the person who scores most highly on #1, and if you're using #1 as a filter then you're ruling good people out.

greggman 4 days ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure how this is helpful. I've known I'm personally more attracted to personality than looks. That's not the problem.

The problem is it's hard (at least for me) to get the opportunity to be around members of the opposite sex long enough for them to see my "uniqueness"

Personal examples. My last job of 5 years had 100 people on my floor only 2 of which were women. My friends are generally all geeks who have no women friends to include in our activities.

I'm not whining. Only pointing out that telling me it's okay because my uniqueness will win over my consensus desirability is not helpful because no one gets the chance to learn my uniqueness

spindritf 4 days ago 0 replies      
if you do not have a high mate value, take heart. All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you

Or increase your mate value. In traits like conscientiousness or intelligence 40-60% of variance is genetic. There is no reason to think that somehow charisma is a weird outlier with which you're stuck. She thinks anyone can act much more charismatically https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMu_md_5PQ4 Feels a little newagey but otherwise completely reasonable.

It's the same with meeting people. You probably live in a large city with millions of them. Even with strict selection there are at least a few thousands of potential mates. Why wait until you end up in a small group with one of them?

It also means that you have as many attempts as you want. Blowing out with one person will not haunt you through that social group forever.

This is one of those articles that is supposed to make people feel good about themselves, and maybe it does, but at the cost of bringing counter-productive advice.

socrates1998 4 days ago 0 replies      
I usually disagree with papers like these but this one is a little more accurate to real life.

The concept of "value" in dating is absurd. Everyone judges value differently. Being attracted to another person has so many variables it can't bit factored in.

Are there some "universal traits" that make people physically attractive? Yes, but that doesn't mean the dating world is a hierarchy with the beautiful people at the top.

And having a super beautiful girlfriend isn't always great. I know models who are insanely insecure about their bodies and are just a pain to be around because they are constantly worried about how they look.

I think I generally date cute girls, but I once dated a that was definitely physically more attractive than most of the rest. She would get tons of attention when we went out. Guys would constantly check her out or give me "Great job man!" looks and comments. I knew she was constantly getting invited to social events, parties and probably dates as well.

This amount of attention can really be unhealthy to a relationship. If she is constantly being tempted by tons of guys and opportunities every day, then its just a matter of time when she starts to think, "You know he is nice, but that other guy was really cute."

And thats really how it ended. She just stopped returning my texts and phone calls one day, so I am pretty sure she just moved on to something else. It wasn't too bad for me, she had a lot of flaws even though she was gorgeous.

bambax 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is a blog post on OKCupid that discusses the same concepts:

> the more men as a group disagree about a woman's look, the more they end up liking her


If everyone agree you're ugly, that's bad. But if some people lilke you a lot and some people dislike you a lot, that's much better than if everyone agree you're "okay", or "cute".

However, the OP has a rather floating concept of uniqueness that they seem to conflate with intimacy or friendship; of course once you become friends with someone they're unique to you, but that doesn't mean much about their "uniqueness" as a property of their being.

personlurking 4 days ago 1 reply      
I spent my teens and 20s working hard on my uniqueness out of a feeling that I was different. I forced myself to like anything that was out of the ordinary (this manifested itself in attaching myself to any concepts, interests, and preferences that were non-American). I allowed my search to be different to overtake me, making me a bit of a vagabond, more interested in exploration than in work (discovery-oriented rather than goal-oriented).

Liking interesting things can act as a repellent because it becomes so much harder to find others who have worked a lot on their interestingness or who can appreciate your differences, knowledge and tastes.

Now in my 30s, I've let it go (due to a realization that I don't need to try so hard) and it feels as if a lot of it just disappeared. Like a great meal, I loved it while I was eating it but afterwards there's just an empty plate and the memory of the meal.

hypron 4 days ago 5 replies      
>In a related study of approximately 350 heterosexual individuals, we collected these same measures in networks of opposite-sex friends, acquaintances and partners. Among these well-acquainted individuals, consensus on measures of mate value was nearly zero. These are the people who know what authors you like, what you wore for Halloween six years ago and what obscure movie you will quote the next time you all get together. But they cannot agree on your mate value. Over the years, it has evaporated before their eyes.

I'm curious if this is the cause of the so-called "friend zone". A guy and a girl meet and become friends. After getting to know each other, the guy still thinks the girl has mate value, whereas the girl doesn't think the guy has mate value.

31reasons 4 days ago 2 replies      
>>All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you, and a more level playing field should follow.

And a different career than engineering, so you can find more time and possibility of meeting possible mates at work.

enraged_camel 4 days ago 0 replies      
What this article seems to be saying is that uniqueness has a multiplier effect on attractiveness. You can have a "base attractiveness" of 5 out of 10, but the more unique you are, the higher (and lower) you will appear to various people as they get to know you better.
kyberias 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find it hard to grasp the concept of charisma. Its definition seems to be vague and highly subjective. It was mentioned in this article like it was something very specific. My pet peeve I guess.
bambax 4 days ago 1 reply      
The existence of ugly people is proof that their ugly parents did mate.
jedrek 3 days ago 0 replies      
A 100+ comment thread about relationships without the use of the word "companionship" once. Wow.
streetpickup 4 days ago 1 reply      
> One recent study of a representative sample of adolescents found that only 6 percent reported that they and their partners formed a romantic relationship soon after meeting.

> It seems most likely that it is the consensually desirable people who pull off the rare feat of quickly leveraging an initial positive impression into romance, while a vast majority of us get to know our romantic partners slowly, gradually, over time.

I think anyone can learn how to do this.

galfarragem 4 days ago 0 replies      
The smartest blog I know to understand relationships. A must read:


FD3SA 4 days ago 1 reply      
The most interesting aspect of the modern mating paradigm is the opportunity costs associated with mate-seeking behavior, and the impacts on successful societies.

Most primate societies are focused on mating and survival, without much surplus effort remaining for any other tasks. Humans, by virtue of technology and social engineering, have gained a rare ability to dedicate an incredible amount of time to creating heretofore unfathomable works of the imagination such as science, engineering, art, music and literature.

Though many believe this was natural progression, there still exist a few human societies that are effectively hunter gatherers, and expend little energy in advancing their societies technologically. The trillion dollar question is this: what role do mating paradigms play in determining societal structure?

My own hypothesis, and one shared by a surprising number of old scholars, is that mating paradigms are a fundamental determinant of societal structure.

There is a very strong correlation in history between societies that practised very strict mating policies and those that are considered successful. In fact, it seems increasingly likely that the purpose of strict religious practices was to tightly control the mating marketplace in order to prevent the devastating opportunity costs associated with a no holds barred mating market.

As such, I'm interested where the increasingly liberal sexual marketplace will lead societies. Men who spend too much of their time creating wonderful works of art, but fail to reproduce, will be unsuccessful in the long run. Many born in this day and age believe modern civilization has always existed, and will always continue. However, as many countries around the world demonstrate, advanced civilization is an extremely unstable equilibrium. A perturbation of even one pillar can have disastrous, irreversible consequences.

We live in interesting times.

lsv1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this article was about not being desirable in the job market for some terrible fact or harsh truth. Instead I was greeted with a fluffy article. I'm question the value of this article on HN.
sizzle 4 days ago 0 replies      
anyone ever been in this situation? what was the outcome like?
Dewie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Romance is funny. On one hand, people believe in some intrinsic uniqueness in people that make a few of them destined to be their "soul mate". This is purely a matter of being-who-you-are, which can't be measured as objectively good or bad, but is perfect for the few that are your destined "soul mates" (some people won't call it 'soul mate' or have such a mystical aura around it, but may believe in the same thing just as well).

On the other hand, people believe that people can be objectively measured and that they can be assigned a dating market 'value'. Then people have to assess their own value in order to be realistic about who they can date, lest they (gasp) overshoot and try to be with someone who is out of their league.

These two viewpoints are polar opposites. Yet it seems that people seem to either concern themselves with one or the other, at some point in time.

There is nothing like this league-stuff for friendships (perhaps except for in high school) or any other human relationships. Why? Perhaps it's because of the seemingly almost universally accepted concept of monogamy.

hellbreakslose 4 days ago 0 replies      
I seriously don't like this article...

Why should we try and scientificaly explain the only things that keeps us human? Then come out with a pattern and become robots?

Also in the other hand of the article, my attractivness is medium to low, and I don't attract women easily (my looks are ok, but I got that weird mindset that drives them away).I've had a relationship with a woman that was hot 9/10 very very smart studied in ivy league with scolarship and she was very attractive to the point that we had guys coming after her when we were going out... My life experiences proves that article jibberish ...

jamesaguilar 4 days ago 1 reply      
I definitely know some unique folks, and that does really seem to work for them in romantic settings. Like those other qualities -- wealth, attractiveness, power -- only a few can be the "most" unique. Maybe it's cynical, but I guess that most people aren't that exceptional, and that's OK.
Guide to Landing Page Optimization moz.com
232 points by ra00l  1 day ago   25 comments top 8
gk1 1 day ago 1 reply      
An okay summary of landing page basics.

The part about 1,440 more new trial signups equaling over a million dollars per year is plain silly. Not all trials will convert into paying customers--especially when plans start at $49/month.

The main lesson you should take away from this is to A/B test your hypotheses. (By the way, that means starting with a hypothesis.)

Also, keep your expectations in check. Reading stories about a single test resulting in +$1,000,000 will delude you into thinking that every test will result in huge improvements. In reality, most tests don't have a conclusive winner. Optimization is a process... It is not a one-day or get-rich-quick affair.

Edit: Apparently it's not OK to mention I'm a marketer...? I removed that bit. If you're downvoting for some other reason it would help me if you explained.

bhartzer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I totally agree, never send people to your site's home page. Unless your site's home page is a landing page.
monotypical 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't comment much on the subject for my lack on knowledge, but that was a very well written, entertaining article that I enjoyed reading.
malcolm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone else notice that Mozilla's advice mentions nothing about mobile and looks terrible on mobile browsers.

Have they not heard of this new "mobile" thing?

mrfusion 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are there any simple ways to build a simple landing page for a product idea I'd like to test?
sayemm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great list of tips, thanks for posting.
ra00l 1 day ago 0 replies      
For the last few years, I've read a lot on conversion optimization articles.

Reading this, summarizes 90% of the tips and tricks that I learned. Glad you HNers enjoy it!

Eduard 1 day ago 0 replies      
1. User clicks CTA

2. ???

3. Profit

Basics of Machine Learning ed.ac.uk
228 points by luu  4 days ago   32 comments top 8
3pt14159 4 days ago 3 replies      
If you want to get into machine learning, it is actually pretty easy, provided you studied Math, Engineering, or Science in University. The papers are hard at first, but they don't hide like other papers do. Everything is laid out there for you to code and run with your own data. In a field like, say, Structural Engineering, the paper writers can make claims about the structural resilience of an Ultra High Performance Concrete that they tested, without you ever being able to hope to repeat the exact experiment. You may not even be able to get your hands on the proprietary compound they used.

In ML, you might not be able to use the same corpus / training set, but you're usually able to recode the actual algorithm and you're usually able to find a compatible type of data set to work off of.

Also, most ML people are lazy, so if they don't work for Google or Facebook they're usually using open data datasets anyway, which are trivial to drop in and verify.

imurray 4 days ago 1 reply      
The main course website is here: http://www.inf.ed.ac.uk/teaching/courses/iaml/

There are more notes and so on there. It isn't an online course though, so don't expect too much.

petulla 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure these lectures are great but my computer was none too happy about 100 embedded videos in a single Web page.
jds375 4 days ago 0 replies      
I also highly recommend these lectures from Cornell. The lecturer is well-known for his free SVM-light implementation. http://machine-learning-course.joachims.org
Legoben 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance we can get the lectures before #5?
frozenport 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have 32GB of ram and this nearly caused my computer to lock up.
graycat 4 days ago 2 replies      
Best I can tell, it comes in a Champagne bottle with a cork held in by wire and a nice, new label, but, when open the bottle and pour out the contents, what get is 99 44/100% pure, old cookbook-style, applied statistics, some curve fitting, some hypothesis testing, some statistical estimation with definitions, theorems, and proofs mostly filtered out. Also not much in experimental design and only little in 'resampling' techniques.

Right: Since we need a computer to do the data manipulations, the computer science people want to conclude that the statistics is also part of 'computer science'? Now bookkeeping, accounting, numerical solutions of differential equations, etc. are also part of 'computer science'? Or, what the heck ever happened to the field of statistics, biostatistics, quality control, etc.?

How did we get so busy? newyorker.com
224 points by ust  3 days ago   138 comments top 36
nlawalker 3 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of this article, which was also here on HN ages ago: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-tra...

"Busyness" is a social defense against other people making us do things we don't really want to do and a mechanism for coping with feeling guilty about things we know we should do, but don't. My intuition is that people have had to project themselves as busier and busier over the last couple decades as technology has made us more efficient in order for this strategy to continue working.

If you're always "so busy!", your boss is less likely to give you more work; your spouse is less likely to ask you to do more around the house; you're not going to feel as guilty about only seeing grandma once a year or refusing to help your friend move; you can feel a little better about yourself when a friend lands an awesome new job or plans a cool vacation and you haven't really done anything. When you haven't seen someone in a long time and they ask how things are, you can give them the impression that things must be even better than the last time you saw them, because you've clearly been so busy improving your lot in life. Well, that's the idea, at least.

After I read that article I decided to try to be more honest with myself and the people I know about how busy I really was (which is often "not very" - I, like the author, am the "laziest ambitious person I know."). It's a very hard habit to break, and it forces you to be more honest about the things you really want to spend your time on and the things you're avoiding.

zach 3 days ago 1 reply      
We do have a lot more leisure, but it is distributed at the tails of our lifespan, the times of lowest productivity. We sure don't start full-time work at the age that kids on the farm do. And even a century ago, most kids outside of big cities did live on a farm. On the other side of a career, many of us will spend a decade or two in retirement and good health.

But inbetween... well, the typical young upper-middle-class couple (as usual, the real point of fascination here) has committed themselves to huge expenditures of interactive time with their kids. That's really where the time went.

Today, highly-educated parents bring their kids home from soccer or tae kwon do practice, pick up dinner on the way home and read to each of them for a school-mandated half-hour after helping them with homework. This is crazy different from a few generations ago. Ask even your grandparents how much time your parents spent in a "play pen" as toddlers, or roamed their neighborhood after school when they were older. Now there's a competitive cultural expectation that you need to invest in your children's development daily, so they become socially self-realized and not economic roadkill.

zenogais 3 days ago 1 reply      
Or we could look to Marx, who predicted exactly this state of affairs succinctly by showing that, at the most basic, there are three traditional ways to increase competitive advantage:

1. Work more intensely over the course of a fixed working day (eg. the 8 hours most people normally work in the United States)

2. Work longer hours thereby generating more surplus value while only being paid for a smaller proportion of your overall work. Today, this typically involves creating a culture that incentivizes overwork and disincentivizes the normal working day.

3. Revolutionize the means of production thereby gaining an ephemeral advantage over the competition. Think the Japanese in the 80s with just-in-time production which allowed them to dominate the automotive industry. Automating work would also fall under this category. Notice this can require (1) or (2) as a pre-requisite to such innovation.

Under this analysis being busy would be a natural byproduct of the reigning economic ordering of society.

nnq 3 days ago 2 replies      
> There is so much to learn and produce and improve that we should not spend more than a dribble of time living as if we were in Eden. Grandchildren, keep trucking. - Richard Freeman, of Harvard

...somebody shoot this guy. Please.

When will we realize that so many great thought were thought because smart people have had free time to "let their minds wonder around". Think Darwin, the leisure-class naturalist with lots of time to travel, and the theory of evolution. Think Einstein, the underachiever working in a patent office with too much free time to think and the theory of relativity. Who will have time to integrate all the knowledge that we "mine" into useful theories, when we've build a society where the smarter we are, the less time to think you have?!

This became obvious since the '30s, when Bertrand Russel realized the direction we were heading (http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html), despite the fact that thinking about such things was not his job, and most likely because at that point in his life he had a lot of free time to think around. As opposed to Keynes, whose job was to think at this, but was probably to "busy" to see the big picture and totally ignore the "red queen effect" of consumerism.

EDIT+: oops, I always forget that Americans can take any invitation to violence seriously :) I toned it down a bit.

dredmorbius 3 days ago 0 replies      
By way of Andreas Schou at G+: Malthusianisms


Why, in real life, do we ever encounter hard instances of NP-complete problems? Because if its too easy to find a 10,000-mile TSP tour, we ask for a 9,000-mile one.

Why are even some affluent parts of the world running out of fresh water? Because if they werent, theyd keep watering their lawns until they were.

Why dont we live in the utopia dreamed of by sixties pacifists and their many predecessors? Because if we did, the first renegade to pick up a rock would become a Genghis Khan.... [See Aldus Huxley's Island for a particularly depressing exploration of this concept.]

Again and again, Ive undergone the humbling experience of first lamenting how badly something sucks, then only much later having the crucial insight that its not sucking wouldnt have been a Nash equilibrium. Clearly, then, I havent yet gotten good enough at Malthusianizing my daily lifehave you?

brohoolio 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Suppose that a Walmart clerk and a hedge-fund manager both decide to take the afternoon off to attend their kids baseball game. For the clerk, a half-days forfeited pay could come to less than forty dollars. For the hedge-fund manager, an afternoons worth of lost trades may cost millions, which is a lot to give up to watch little Billy strike out looking."

This is bullshit. If you are working at Walmart you can't just take the day off on a whim nor would you because you can't afford it.

This quote from the article pulled me out of whatever fantasy bullshit land the authors are writing from.

People are busy because they want meaning in their lives. Doing things gives you a sense of purpose.

charlespwd 3 days ago 12 replies      
Hi, I've been a lurker here for some time now. I rarely ever comment on stories because, well, I have better things to do. But now, I really need to broaden my perspective. I just don't get it.

*Disclaimer : I am young (23), broke but happy.

This past year, I spent four months in Asia travelling. I rock-climbed for a while, tried bungee, canyon swing, diving, trekking and the motorcycle. I was able to afford all that on my student's salary working and studying for my degree. I met amazing people and I'm just excited about everything since.

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the 80 hours work weeks and quite frankly, I just don't get it! I did work 66 hours work weeks this past fall for my honours thesis. I started getting anxiety attacks. It wasn't healthy.

I don't mean to make a point. I want to hear some. I want to understand how some of you do it, and, more importantly why. I keep thinking that "Hey I was able to have this experience with less than 20k a year. Imagine what I could do with the salary of a `real` job! (Or freelancing)"

Why do you do it?

zackmorris 3 days ago 1 reply      

My hunch is that we're so busy because capitalism seeks to find local maxima in the possible space of all profits, and because so many people are involved in it, it works pretty well (as far as hill climbing algorithms go).

What keeps me up at night is knowing that there is a higher point that can only be found by going down the descending side of the hill, potentially for an extended period of time.

So here I am at the bottom, wondering if I should turn back or try another hill. It was a lot more work walking downhill than I thought it would be. I keep wondering if theres some other search function I could employ that would reveal where the peaks are or even transport me to them. Sometimes I picture where a hill would be but nobody listens. They are too busy climbing their own hills. Then it vanishes and reappears under someone else, and people admire how hard that person climbed. Lately the best strategy seems to be doing as little as possible and riding the hills as they grow around me. As someone born and raised to climb, I dont know what to make of this.

king_jester 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned one of the key components of busy-ness for the average worker: unemployment. Labor force participation is down even though productivity for the average worker is historically way up. Owners of capital get can more done with fewer workers today than ever before for many different kinds of businesses, so it is not surprising that people work harder and are busier while more folks are finding themselves unable to find work in traditional ways.
ochs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the winner-take-all hypotheses best. A lot of people are employed in advertising, marketing, PR, sales, lobbying, law, etc. and even those who are not might be required as part of their job to do some of those things from time to time.

The problem is that it's more lucrative to manipulate people to buy things they don't need or to trick them to pay more. Note that there are industries where marketing costs are outrageously high, sometimes higher than production and/or R&D. A company that doesn't spend the same amount on marketing or lobbying might make less profit (e.g. due to network effects, other scaling effects, special protections or subsidies) and thus seem like a bad investment.

This leads to a sort of arms race: everybody needs to hire more and more marketers, patent lawyers, etc. and donate more to political campaigns.

Solution: Heavily regulate advertising and lobbying. Some kinds of advertising could just be outlawed, and the rest could get (time or space) limits. Anonymous electronic cash would also help to make internet publications independent from corporate advertising money. Tax money could be used to support independent institutes or publications that try to spread actually helpful consumer advise.

I think some winner-take-all mechanics might also be at play on a personal career level. Note that there are actually lots of people with nothing but free time, though usually not by choice. Many governments deny those people a decent standard of living (some even a home, food or medical care), forcing them take shitty, low-paying, insecure jobs. The constant threat of losing your income to someone else who will work harder or for less money kind of naturally creates a situation where you either work long hours or not at all.

jpb0104 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like this idea:

Change your language. Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your rsum, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

src: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405297020335870...

nugget 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a naturally competitive individual and I like to out-compete my peers at work - in other words, to win. I don't think this part of human nature will ever lessen no matter how far technology advances.
jhwhite 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how you can expect to work less hours in a capitalist economy. Basically the whole point is to make money and if you're freeing up time that means you're more productive for other work.

If my job is to do a, b, and c and using technology I make it so I only have to spend time doing a, then an employer is going to find something for me to do. Could be busy work, could be letting someone go and giving me their job to save money.

If I don't they'll find someone else who will.

Technological advances that were suppose to help the employee work less, has only helped business run at lower operating costs.

mey 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why are we busier?

Go herehttp://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/productivity change the start of the graph to 1959. I would argue that technology has radically helped our productivity but at the end of the day, people are always expected to get better.

Honestly I don't know if this is sustainable but the idea of always growing from a gut check doesn't seem to be. The question could be what is the breaking point and what will break?


jmzbond 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a combination of many reasons, many of which the article cited, but then from other articles I've read as well.

At least for myself, I've noticed that I have used busy-ness as an excuse to not do something I dislike. A rapidly growing synonym by the way, is I'm "tired."

As for why people stay "busy" beyond the excuse factor, I buy most into the argument about keeping up with the Joneses. We live in a very consumption-driven society and people are always scaling up their "needs" rather than being happy with what they have. Consider the consultant that buys a house upon making manager, and then a bigger house upon making partner. Were any of those upgrades truly necessary for the 2-person couple? No, but they"felt" necessary because that's what we do. We climb ladders and scale up.

I'm less inclined to buy the argument that people stay busy because working provides meaning. It's not that I don't think work provides meaning, it's that I don't think most people find meaning in their work today. Rather, work is the tedium that you experience so that you can climb a ladder and get stuff, and continue the up-and-to-the-right cycle.

tim333 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was reminded of something written by George Bernard Shaw, a contemporary of Keynes and as well as a playwright, a co founder of the London School of Economics, saying the harder he works the more he lives. Maybe people are busy because, to some extent, they want to be. The finding mentioned in the article that the richer people are the busier would fit with that. Quote below:

"This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

rumcajz 2 days ago 0 replies      
One analogy to consider is that peoples with argiculture had much worse living standard than hunters-gatherers. Yet, given that they were tied to a patch of ground, they've drove the hunters-gatherers out of their traditional hunting-gathering grounds and eventually took over the world.

The progress doesn't necessarily prefer better standard of living.

11thEarlOfMar 3 days ago 0 replies      
An evolution-based theory is that we are genetically programmed to ensure our offspring's survival. This means that whatever tools, knowledge and experience parents have picked up along the way are improved and applied to raising their children. Parents will therefore observe and learn from other parents and their own research for healthier foods, better education tracks, both leadership and teamwork development activities, and whatever else we are convinced will help.

That drive then gets co-mingled with the need for acceptance and competitiveness (also evolution-based). The soccer mom satisfies all those drives concurrently: Improved survival rate for offspring, need for acceptance by a group, competitiveness for resources.

Thanks to evolution, we are pretty much spring-loaded to drive ourselves crazy busy in our 21st century world.

klunger 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was surprised that the author did not include the Puritan American work ethic as a possible explanation. That is, the idea that work = virtue.


whirlycott1 3 days ago 0 replies      
That "Overwhelmed" book is excellent. Halfway through it now and it's really altered my perspective on everyday life.
voteapathy 3 days ago 1 reply      
My guess is that we as humans tend to look at what we've missed out on rather than what we've gained. During Keynes's time there wasn't quite as much competition for one's time and attention, and whatever they had probably wasn't as cheap. Now we just have so much entertainment at our disposal that we can't feel satisfied with what we have.

I'll call it the Deal or No Deal irrationality. Essentially, if you go on that show hoping to win $1,000,000 but end up with just $100, you probably feel pretty disappointed. The $999,900 you didn't win ends up eclipsing the fact that you won $100. $100! A free night out with your friends! A nice fancy dinner! Who doesn't want that sort of bonus?!

[I might have accidentally stolen the above example from a Dan Ariely book. If I did then I do apologize]

Now in our society we have competing forces of remaining sociable, watching TV, browsing the Internet, maintaining hobbies, going on vacations, and (as the article notes) trying to work and more more in the process. I mean, I've had to sacrifice watching TV and playing video games just because I need to to have 'more productive leisure.' Board games, lifting weights, going out with friends, and programming are things that I like to do, sure, but that doesn't quite fill in the gap a video game may do in the same way. At the same time I'd like to do more biking and get into other more artistic hobbies, but the time cost to learning is so great and the ROI relative to what I already have on my plate.

chondos 3 days ago 1 reply      
How did we get we busy? (or did we?)

Average American watches 5 hours of TV per day: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watch....

Perhaps people spend more time at work then they used to, but while not at work they spend way less time working on things like mowing the lawn, cooking, washing clothes, ETC.

Women blaming men for them being too busy need to weight their options IMO. If you are too busy, quit your job and stay home. To maintain the quality of life that existed while Keynes wrote this book, a single income is often adequate. It's not worth killing yourself over.

I think what much of what explains the wealth gap is free trade and illegal immigration. We import everything from China today. We would not allow these sweat-shops in our country with children working in dangerous conditions for pennies an hour. We wouldn't allow it here, but we do support it by buying these products. This breaks the whole premise that Keynes was basing his predictions on (Illegal immigrant employment as well). People can get rich paying illegal workers almost nothing, or importing a product from China and marking up it's price by 8-10x.

This throws things out of the balance that he envisioned.

pyrrhotech 3 days ago 1 reply      
You are only busy if you choose to be in this country. However, how you make the choice is implicit by your level of consumption. I am happy to live on 30k/year even though I make almost 200k, because in 5-10 years, I don't want to be so busy.

You can make the choice--either live an extravagent lifestyle and remain busy, or live modestly for a decade or less and then do whatever the fuck you want 24 hours a day.

eggnog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is there no consideration of unemployment in this exploration? In order for leisure time to be evenly-distributed, in an anti-freeloader society, work would have to be evenly-distributed as well. That means having two employees working 20 hours, instead of one working 40. However, employers would need to be able to supply the workers the same salary they now pay the 40-hour worker, or else the workers would have to be willing to consume less.
michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you look at corporate employment (the situation of the lower classes is a different matter) people are doing about 5-10 hours of real work per week. Real work is so rare that it's a political token allocated as a favor. If you pay your dues and make your bosses happy, you might get a real project after a couple of years.

The rest of that time is spent acquiring and maintaining social status.

Under corporatism, you don't get a leisure society. You get total disenfranchisement of those who lose in (increasingly noisy and degenerate, over time) political tussles and end up with "the wrong kind" of resume, and a frenetic but wasteful contest in which those who are still in contention beat the piss out of each other to make themselves eligible for the (dwindling) supply of real projects.

When you have such a large number of people with nothing better to do but jockey for social status, you have a lot of cheap labor and it's easy to assign pointless grunt work that doesn't need to be done, and that does little for a person's career or general employability-- and people will do it.

That, above, is what happened. Also, read nlawalker's post, because (s?)he nailed it.

bikamonki 3 days ago 1 reply      
Email+IMs+notifications, everywhere, anytime, that's how.
keithpeter 2 days ago 0 replies      

It is possible to make a business out of being idle, although I suspect Tom and Victoria are quite busy really.

Kiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I naive to believe that we're on a good way of fulfilling Kenyes's prediction and that it's all thanks to capitalism? The world is a much better place today than it was 100 years ago.
wycx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Usury.The only way money is generated is by debt. Debt, by definition is encumbered by interest. Thus, the only way to generate money to cover the interest is to generate more debt, this is a feedback cycle, requiring accelerating borrowing just to stay where you are. I think this is a large part of why we are so busy today. We are always behind the eight ball, at every level.
wturner 3 days ago 0 replies      
tldr. I'm basing my below comment on the title of the article.

I think it's just an out growth of our evolution. I mean throughout human history we've had to be 'busy' to survive. Now there is a small historical ripple in that pattern where we empirically don't have to adhere to the same ethic to survive, but it's still ingrained into us from our history.

greedyBrah 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome article. I don't have much to add, but it's interesting how "funny" we are as a species in that we're never fully content. What we think of as a "perfect life" today will be trivial in 100 years and that society 100 years from now will yearn for their own perfect life.
marcosscriven 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really can't help but read the diaereses, they insist on using, as umlauts.
jmnicolas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why people need boolean logic as in "Keynes was right OR wrong" ?

Contrary to computer science you can be right AND wrong.

erikpukinskis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mandatum 3 days ago 3 replies      
Offtopic, but the date on the article says 6 days from now..
maerF0x0 3 days ago 3 replies      
Of course they blame men. Never mind blaming misguided feminism, pushing women to endlessly new heights of perfectionism, elitism and competition both within and across their fairer sex.

And strangely its not OK that the man knows how to relax, minimizes extraneous work and does a sufficient job...

Hits a nerve for me if you can't tell.

Questions for Donald Knuth informit.com
223 points by robinhouston  2 days ago   58 comments top 17
ghswa 2 days ago 2 replies      
"I did write a compiler manual in 1958, which by chance was actually used as the textbook for one of my classes in 1959(!)"

How many people in the world could claim something similar?

jbapple 2 days ago 2 replies      
This part confused me:

"My job is to go beyond correctness, to an analysis of such things as the program's running time: I write down a recurrence, say, which is supposed to represent the average number of comparisons made by that program on random input data. I'm 100% sure that my recurrence correctly describes the program's performance, and all of my colleagues agree with me that the recurrence is "obviously" valid. Yet I have no formal tools by which I can prove that my recurrence is right. I don't really understand my reasoning processes at all! My student Lyle Ramshaw began to create suitable foundations in his thesis (1979), but the problem seems inherently difficult."

There are formal tools to prove recurrences are correct.

First, any proof assistant like Coq or Isabelle could be used to verify recurrences.

Papers like "A Machine-Checked Proof of the Average-Case Complexity of Quicksort in Coq" show that this is not limited to just the recurrence, but can also be applied to programs and random input data. The Certified Complexity (CerCo) project does similar work.

Maybe I misunderstood what Knuth meant by "formal tools" or "recurrence is right". Here is a link to the abstract of Ramshaw's thesis:


YAYERKA 2 days ago 1 reply      
What an amazing exchange of ideas;

Knuths response to Tarjans Q15 was particularly interesting since he was able to illustrate his insight with a concrete example;

>Thus I think the present state of research in algorithm design misunderstands the true nature of efficiency. The literature exhibits a dangerous trend in contemporary views of what deserves to be published.

> Another issue, when we come down to earth, is the efficiency of algorithms on real computers. As part of the Stanford GraphBase project I implemented four algorithms to compute minimum spanning trees of graphs, one of which was the very pretty method that you developed with Cheriton and Karp. Although I was expecting your method to be the winner, because it examines much of the data only half as often as the others, it actually came out two to three times worse than Kruskal's venerable method. Part of the reason was poor cache interaction, but the main cause was a large constant factor hidden by O notation.

huskyr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love the fact that Donald Knuth, one of the most knowledgable minds about computer science, hasn't had an email address since 1990. He used to have one for fifteen years (between 1975 - 1990) but it killed his productivity so he no longer uses it.


hatred 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome Read.

Picking out a line:

"For simplicity, let me say that people like me are "geeks," and that geeks comprise about 2% of the world's population."

sytelus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing. This is just amazing!

Few favorite tidbits:

- Only 2% of population seem to have aptitude for computer science

- Knuth writes 2 programs per week even today

- He is leaning towards P=NP

- Most software projects fails because they are not entrusted to geeks

- 50 years in writing 3000 page bible of CS. I would suppose it takes probably same time to read all of that material.

redshirtrob 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been to couple of Donald Knuth's Christmas Tree Lectures. While he was signing my copy of 'TAOCP Volume 1', I asked him if he thought anyone in the world had read all of TAOCP, himself excluded. I didn't clarify, but he seemed to assume (correctly) that by 'read' I meant 'read and comprehended.'

His reply was yes, but not many. He mentioned a guy in Germany who goes over his books again and again looking for errors. This guy is the leading recipient of Knuth's checks.

That was the question I'd wanted to ask Knuth for several years. It was a good question for a thirty second interaction and photo.

mcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm picturing this as all of them sitting around a big table in a hotel bar, chatting while the writer records their questions and answers.

Andrew Binstock, Dr. Dobb's suddenly asks, "At the ACM Turing Centennial in 2012, you stated that you were becoming convinced that P = N P. Would you be kind enough to explain your current thinking on this question, how you came to it, and whether this growing conviction came as a surprise to you?"

Don Knuth replies, "As you say, I've come to believe that P = N P, namely that there does exist an integer M and an algorithm that will solve every n-bit problem belonging to the class N P in nM elementary steps...."

Scott Aaronson, MIT immediately has an aneurysm and after all of the convulsions and frothing is over, when the EMT's leave, they prop him back up in his chair and he only has the wherewithal to ask, "Would you recommend to other scientists to abandon the use of email, as you have done?"

akkartik 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was surprised to hear that the hardest program he had to write was a simulator for MMIX. This seems to have the scoop: http://mmix.cs.hm.edu/doc/mmix-pipe.pdf
thebear 2 days ago 3 replies      
Given the facts that functional programming has been all the rage lately, and that advocates of functional programming tend to emphasize its mathematical roots, I would find it interesting to get Donald Knuth's take on the subject. Web search came up empty for me. Does anybody know of any statements he's made on functional programming?
justin66 2 days ago 6 replies      
The unpopularity and inherent goofiness of literate programming, and the way Knuth always mentions it in interviews, feels like a sort of elephant in the room whenever a new interview appears.
natural219 2 days ago 1 reply      
"So who were the geeks of the early 19th century?"

This question made me pause and ask another question: Who are the geeks of the early 21st century, specifically, 2014? I fear in my heart that software development is becoming less and less of a "geek" hideout over time.

I did, however, go to Maker Faire last weekend. It was a geek wonderland. There were so many cool projects on display and a huge emphasis on getting you started. It shocks me when I hear people say how "commercialized" and "mainstream" it's gotten -- for me, it seems like the hardware market is just starting to open up to some really cool innovation, and there's a huge community of people doing it right in their backyard.

A more long-term question might be: what's going to be the next "geek" hideout after hardware?

aeberbach 2 days ago 6 replies      
In the Q&A Knuth mentions TAOCP conversion to ebook several times - I did a quick search and found only millions of pirate sites. Does anyone know the legitimate source where the ebook can be bought? Informit seemed likely but there are only two digital volumes available there.

(edit: there is a note saying "as they become available". I guess TAOCP is only partially portable so far, more to come.)

(brag: I got a decimal dollar by check from Professor Knuth for finding a typo in 2010. Nothing clever, just a cheap typo, but I was happy.)

mcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
The paragraph that jumped out at me:

"My work on introduced me to applications where 'correctness' cannot be defined. How do I know, for example, that my program for the letter A produces a correct image? I never will; and I've learned to live with that uncertainty. On the other hand, when I implemented the routines that interpret specifications and draw the associated bitmaps, there was plenty of room for rigor. The algorithms that go into font rendering are among the most interesting I've ever seen."

Intermernet 1 day ago 3 replies      
I found the reply to Robert Tarjan interesting, and I wonder how many people who conduct programmer job interviews would have guessed that the Big O derived value vs the actual performance of the algorithm would be so unpredictable!

"Another issue, when we come down to earth, is the efficiency of algorithms on real computers. As part of the Stanford GraphBase project I implemented four algorithms to compute minimum spanning trees of graphs, one of which was the very pretty method that you developed with Cheriton and Karp. Although I was expecting your method to be the winner, because it examines much of the data only half as often as the others, it actually came out two to three times worse than Kruskal's venerable method. Part of the reason was poor cache interaction, but the main cause was a large constant factor hidden by O notation."

Question: in what ways can having a large constant factor in an algorithm cause such a dramatic performance difference on modern hardware. Can anyone give examples? I can only assume that the "large" constant factor in this example was large enough to be always overflowing, and needed some bignum functions to work.

inappropriate 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Most of the techniques that have turned out to be important were originally introduced for the wrong reasons!"

How inappropriate.

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