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1
All Our Patent Are Belong To You teslamotors.com
1839 points by gkoberger  1 day ago   311 comments top 73
1
patio11 1 day ago 6 replies      
So an informal non-aggression pact is nice, but absolutely no automobile manufacturer would rely on that when a new car costs a significant fraction of a billion dollars to bring to market. (If I were a cynical man, I might think this didn't escape their notice.)

If it were me, and the true intent was to distribute the Tesla patents as widely as possible, I would have said "Tesla pledges to license its entire patent portfolio, on a worldwide non-exclusive no-royalty basis, to any interested party. We will ask for consideration in the amount of $1 for a 99 year license. Your lawyers and accountants can reassure you that these sort of symbolic commitments hold up in court. They'll also no doubt ask to see the full terms, which are about as boring as you'd expect, and which are available from our Legal Department."

2
Arjuna 1 day ago 3 replies      
Assuming that this search represents nearly all of them, that is approximately 133 patents:

https://www.google.com/?tbm=pts&gws_rd=ssl#q=inassignee:%22T...

Edit: Nice catch, peter_l_downs ... I didn't realize that the estimated search result of 6,430 would be off by such a large factor.

3
rayiner 1 day ago 5 replies      
I love Elon Musk, and kudos to them for doing this, but it's useful to read between the lines:

> Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters.

This is consistent with my view of how engineers in the traditional disciplines view patents.

> At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla

This is the precise thing that patents are designed to prevent: to keep the market from turning into a race to see who can outsource most efficiently to China and inundate the public most completely with advertising.

> The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesnt burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

So the other manufacturers didn't copy Tesla's technology, either because they are incapable of it or because they didn't feel there was enough money in it relative to their traditional markets.

> We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

In other words, it helps Tesla more to have lots of companies developing electric cars to push back on regulatory barriers and consumer perceptions than it does for them to protect themselves against larger manufacturers copying their technology. Also buried in here is the assumption that Tesla is, now, far enough ahead of its potential competitors that it doesn't matter if they copy the technology.

I think this is the right move for Tesla, but there's a lot of dynamics at play that have nothing to do with the usefulness of patents in general.

4
mwsherman 1 day ago 10 replies      
There is no legal covenant here. I imagine Teslas definition of good faith is we evaluate on a case by case basis.

Which amounts to if we like you and we reserve the right. If they wanted these patents to be open source, they would license them explicitly.

5
nbouscal 1 day ago 1 reply      
Alex Tabarrok comments on this: "I believe that this announcement will be discussed in business schools for years to come much like Henry Fords announcement of the $5 a day wage."

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/06/tes...

6
graeham 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds to me like the "in good faith" clause is to retain the patents for a defense should someone try to come after Telsa for infringing.

Quite an interesting business move and pretty unprecedented as far as I know, at least for a non-software company. Presumably he is hoping that this will encourage improvement to infrastructure. He is also probably thinking he can build higher quality cars and cheaper than others, irrespective of if they are electric or not (probably this is true).

7
ekanes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Volvo famously acted similarly with their invention of the seatbelt.
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hengheng 1 day ago 9 replies      
> Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

I'm not familiar with US legislation, but from my perspective this is just Musk on his soap-box making a statement. It's not something I can rely on while building a business that possibly (!) infringes one of Tesla's patents. They may retract their statement and reconsider at any time, especially when times get tough.

It's nice to hear this, sure, but I fail to see the meat in this announcement.

9
smackfu 1 day ago 6 replies      
"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology."

What exactly does that little "in good faith" clause mean in there?

10
fidotron 1 day ago 0 replies      
The interesting subtext here is that for Tesla to fulfil its potential more support for electric cars in wider society is needed, and while everyone else struggles to build electric cars the infrastructure won't catch up.

Opening up, in this sense, could be seen to be a selfish endeavour, but still a positive one, aiming to position Tesla as the Apple of the electric car market, only mildly less litigious.

11
pnathan 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see this as essentially an open note to hardware tech companies asking them to come by and talk about licensing and interop deals without worrying that Tesla will be a hardcase about any possible IP infringement.
12
aresant 1 day ago 2 replies      
In the biotech space there exists a system called "patentleft" which theoretically provides royalty-free licensing of patents with the stipulation that any derivative works / improvements also be licensed under the same terms.

Seems like there is good potential to build on the momentum of Tesla's announcement to formalize the process, and answer the questions that I'm sure will emerge in this thread - eg more akin to an Creative Commons (which is very well defined and practical).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patentleft

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sytelus 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are almost no instances where patents turned out to be good for community. Wright Brothers stifled all competition by patent litigation causing US to be lightyears behind airplane tech. Edison similarly stifled lighbulb development causing Americans to pay for bad quality at higher prices than European counterparts. Steve Jobs tried to extinguish smartphone revolution causing funny things like removal of fairly generic features like pinch and zoom.

One would argue that they might not have been encouraged to invent these stuff if there were no patents. Even if that was true, the fact is that they had already ammassed massive fortunes even before they started patent wars. One would expect these visionary geniuses to let go patents in interest of advancing the state of art after they have gotten more money than they know how to reasonably spend. Elon Musk is the only one doing this here on the top of risking everything on fields that few entrepreneurs would dare. Hats off to him.

14
beltex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun aside: Tesla patent wall in question via Steve Jurvetson

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/14405402742/

15
ajsharp 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting point:

> At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldnt have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesnt burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

I read this as effectively saying that it's easy for them to take this step, relative to companies in other industries (Apple, Google, Amazon, et al) because none of Tesla's competitors even have the ability to make use of their technology. Makes me wonder if Musk would have done the same thing if Tesla were a software company.

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rasur 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I find hilarious about the discussions going on here is the fact that everyone's generally concentrating on the terrible pain of 'patent abuse', instead of the spectacularly obvious Elephant in the room which is trying to do as much as possible to stop the only home we currently have slowly turning into Venus (the hot, inhospitable planet, not the fictional Goddess of old).
17
bthomas 1 day ago 1 reply      
He makes an interesting implicit argument - that it's okay to use patents to block established players from innovating with you, but not to block new startups from challenging you.
18
jaekwon 1 day ago 1 reply      
What can an innovator do besides filing a defensive patent?

I've heard of various strategies like publishing the work in as many forums as possible; publishing it on IP.com; filing a patent application and withdrawing it; filing it and pledging; etc.

It would be nice if there were a step by step guide written by an attorney--ideally an ex-patent attorney--that goes lists the steps in order of priority/cost/ease for both individual innovators and companies with deeper pockets.

19
sidcool 1 day ago 0 replies      
Inspite of all the negative reactions here, I applaud this move. The preceding statement to the one with 'good faith' is pretty important

>"If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal"

20
chrisbennet 1 day ago 1 reply      
"We have essentially no patents in SpaceX. Our primary long-term competition is in China," said Musk in the interview. "If we published patents, it would be farcical, because the Chinese would just use them as a recipe book."

Perhaps Tesla relies on trade secrecy as well?

21
ibrad 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a bold move, and of course open to interpretation. But I am still optimistic about it. You can argue why they have patents in the first place, remember that if they didn't or sold it to a third party it will come back to bite their ass.

It is much better to hold the patent and allow others to used without being worried about getting sued. I am sure the big auto makers may consider taking advantage of this situation to crush tesla, but Elon Musk is known for not getting distracted by the petty things.

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couchand 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't help but think of Howard Aiken's words, "don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."
23
yaddayadda 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this will spur WikiSpeed (an open source car group) to also support an electric engine module?

http://wikispeed.org/

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notdonspaulding 1 day ago 2 replies      
These are big words, even coming from the extreme underdog in the auto industry.

What exactly is Elon committing to here? Is Tesla planning on releasing any design documentation, or technical specifications or manufacturing process information?

It's great that they won't enforce patents in an effort to not stifle innovation, but do they plan on taking any actions that will encourage innovation?

25
iancarroll 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any legal documents that certify this? I'm not a lawyer, but would this post actually count as a "license"?
26
capkutay 1 day ago 1 reply      
This may be the wrong venue to say this, but the war against proprietary technology and patents doesn't totally make sense to me. I've read about many of the popular cases where large corporations use patents as a legal tactic to stall competitors, and I understand how it hurts innovation.

On the other hand, can't patents protect smaller companies? Open sourcing projects and technology has its case-by-case pros and cons. I agree the increase in open source adoption has had a largely positive impact on the development community. But there seems to be a lot of stigma against 'proprietary' as a whole.

How is your company supposed to grow if you can't protect your technology from being easily replicated by competitors?

27
nullz 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I were building a giant battery factory, I would also encourage others to make electric cars.
28
Alex_MJ 1 day ago 1 reply      
(1) I love this.

(2) Having limited legal knowledge, I'm curious what he means with "a lottery ticket to a lawsuit". Is he indicating that patenting something would make a company more likely to get sued? My basic understanding is the opposite, that patents yield protection from lawsuits rather than create exposure to them. Is this flawed?

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ISL 1 day ago 0 replies      
Without an explicit licensing agreement, one should consider the fate of Troy, even if Tesla's present intentions are good.
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ma2rten 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

What does that even mean? How do you make cars in bad faith?

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haberman 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's great. I wonder if they will do a similar thing with their proprietary supercharger plug. They'd need a way to charge non-Tesla drivers for the energy though.
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syedzbadar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really admire Elon Musk--a lot. His insight that Teslas real competition isn't the Fords, Chryslers, etc., but rather its the momentum behind gasoline cars. And, if that momentum is the actual competition, then that momentum/competition can be broken by open sourcing Teslas technology I think that his specific move on patents (as it relates to the auto industry) is an excellent example of having the perfect balance of having customer obsession and being competition aware.
33
ww520 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a pretty good gesture. It will be good to spurt innovation since smaller players in the area don't need to worry about infringing.

What about the defensive measure? To defend against being sued. It would be good if Tesla pools the patents with others to form an "open patent" club where all the interested parties can join and use the patent to defend against infringement lawsuits.

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bld 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of the most clear & succinct - and more importantly high exposure - statements on the value of open source that I've seen to date. The same message from other sectors like 3D printing has been thoroughly muddied by the proprietary side of the market - who have benefited from the expiration of key patents & widespread open source designs.
35
nchlswu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Didn't Twitter declare something similar?

Is there anything they can do that's binding outside of a declarative 'we won't sue you unless...' statement?

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phkahler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some speculation: This is necessary to close a deal on the huge battery plant. Not sure why I didn't think of this immediately given the timing.

Reason? The partner(s) want to sell all the capacity even if Tesla can't buy it all, and they want everyone to know there won't be any issue buying Tesla batteries.

37
andrewtbham 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is the title a reference to "all your base are belong to us?"
38
NicoJuicy 1 day ago 0 replies      
It i were Google (and manufacturing cars) or Volvo (who also has a impressive driverless car: http://goo.gl/qWU7DS ).

I would go all in on this. A niche product (in the current condition) and usable driverless electric cars.

You aren't really competing with Tesla, because you have a total different audience.

39
iamjdg 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is another marketing ploy. this is also the beginning of Elon preparing for his next career move. Elon's realizing he has hit the technical and economic limits of all battery vehicles and can't deliver. now that he has given away all his patents, he will make moves to distance himself from Tesla. he will hand overthe reins to someone else. step away. start another unrelated business. and when tesla crashes and burns (no punintended) he will be able to say it wasn't his fault, that he left them with all the tools and "they" couldn't make ithappen. in the executive world they call it the "sideways shuffle" or the "Teflon shoulder".
40
anuraj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good move! At this point Tesla knows that market needs to be created and it is impossible to achieve unless auto industry works in tandem. Once the market expands, the pie is bigger for everybody.
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codewiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny how the companies with the best engineering also tend to be those with the best business ethics. Kudos to Tesla for being once again disruptive and innovative in the risk-averse and ailing automotive industry.
42
beamatronic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does Tesla want the big automakers to build cars with equal capabilities as the Model S? Assuming they did so, would they not be more cost-competitive due to economies of scale? Their mission of promoting sustainable transporation might be at odds with their fiduciary duty to their shareholders then.

If Tesla really wanted to see the big auto makers build more capable electric cars, AND if they also want to be a profitable enterprise, THEN, the best course of action would be to OEM the powertrain parts that they have already invested in inventing and building.

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askar_yu 1 day ago 1 reply      
"All Our Patent Are Belong To You" this sentence sounds grammatically incorrect to my non-native-English ear (O_o)
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hyp0 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love Elon's PR. He reframes himself as a champion of humanity, above ego competition, to make you feel good (and I do!). He simultaneously criticises the competition, in those terms.

And I also agree he was right to fear the better-resourced incumbents to duplicate his tech for free, unfounded though it was.

He doesn't mention this, but at this point, he is also well ahead of his real competition (fellow disruptors) in market terms, and so it won't harm him to release these patents.

45
WhoBeI 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it was anyone else I'd be a lot more skeptical. There is something different about this guy so he might just mean exactly what we would like him to mean. Mmm hmm, yeah, I'm going to stay positive until proven I shouldn't be.
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obelos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Translation: our pinch point is supplier scaling.
47
josephschmoe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm curious Mr. Musk, does this mean "Give us a call and we will license you our patents at no cost."?
48
colanderman 1 day ago 3 replies      
FFS, change the title back to what it was submitted with! "All Our Patent Are Belong To You" makes no sense out of context. At least the original title said something about Tesla Motors.
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reas 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome and inspiring even if it's just PR.

"Tesla, other companies ..., and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform"

Indeed.

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lsv1 1 day ago 0 replies      
So Telsa Keeps their patents but anyone can use them? What are some cool non-automotive applications for their patents?:)
51
ihatecommenting 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally Good PR actually means doing something good!hopefully companies/firms will do more advertising, marketing and PR that consists of contributing value to society and CSR. This will hopefully also shake up the awful inefficiencies within charities (not taking anything from the amazing work they do)instead of polishing a turd or diverting money to ads.
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dmritard96 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they will consider more open source also?
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Istof 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is Tesla getting worried of other technologies like fuel cells? http://www.hyundainews.com/us/en-us/Media/PressRelease.aspx?...
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tonygan 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am more interested in the mentioning of "the spirit of the open source" part. Just image that if one day we are in a world that full of all those "open source electronic cars", to me it will just be too beautiful to see.
55
anvarik 1 day ago 0 replies      
lol, in germany if you are an employee in a company like BMW, you are not even allowed take your personal cellphone with you
56
jermaink 1 day ago 0 replies      
So Tesla goes Android.
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briantakita 1 day ago 0 replies      
I seem to recall that there is a precedent to this in the microcontroller market in the 1970s and 1980s (and possibly further in the past). Does anyone have link(s) to this business practice.
58
Fando 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally, progress. A great lesson to all!
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vacri 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not all give, there is some take. By bringing other manufacturers on board, Tesla gets more assistance in building their recharging network, which is a formidable undertaking. Similarly, the more manufacturers of viable electric vehicles there are, the more mainstream they are, and the larger the overall pie. Tesla does stand to gain something out of sharing.
60
DogeDogeDoge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty awesome :) if it will not be empty words we maybe could have much more momentum in the field of electric cars.
61
larrys 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if Musk requires non competes of Tesla's employees?

Separately using the "All Our Patent Are Belong To You" meme (as has been pointed out below by peterarmstrong ) appears to be a clear "in your face" to "the man".

Most people I would imagine aren't aware of this meme (I wasn't) and using it in a public press release seems a bit odd to me.

62
reiichiroh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love the Zero Wing reference.
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samstave 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, would this mean that Tesla would be open to a cottage industry where anyone could start a company building a different body type on top of their drivetrain?

More specifically - could you just buy the S chassis/drivetrain from tesla and build say a delivery van body on top of it?

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briantakita 1 day ago 0 replies      
But, but, how will Tesla find the incentive to innovate without patents?
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narendra_l 1 day ago 0 replies      
one who takes patent for buttons should learn from tesla's move.
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natural219 1 day ago 12 replies      
If you want to track the death of the cultural vision of Silicon Valley -- the belief that some people, at least, can rise above petty human squabbling and competition and are legitimately working to better humanity -- look no further than this thread. Every top comment is a skeptical one. "This is clearly a great PR move, but has no teeth." "How do you enforce this guarantee?" Etc.

These are reasonable questions, but as Shaw said, all progress comes from unreasonable men. I cannot help but be fundamentally depressed as I read these comments. In my view, Elon Musk has, moreso than any other human except maybe Bill Gates, given every absolute inch of human effort and genius to fight to solve the world's biggest problems. And all we have for him, after benefiting freely from the fruit of his labor, is skepticism. We want more. It's not enough. It's never enough.

Yes, Tesla Motors is a company operating in a media-hyped 2014 America. I know some of you are butthurt that he engages in the same "dishonest" PR tactics that other companies do. GET THE FUCK OVER IT. The end product he's producing will save humanity. That all of America has not rallied behind Musk and Tesla as the most important movement and achievement in the last 100 years of human history absolutely blows my mind.

Not only do we not recognize his goals or his achievements, we actively try and bring him down and shit on his accomplishments. "Well, they invented a pretty cool electric motor, sure, but they were kind of dishonest in that one press release that one time."

Go fuck yourself.

I want to say "I'm done with Hacker News", but we know that's not true. I'm supremely disappointed in all of you. Godspeed, Musk. I thought this was a great announcement, and I'm behind you 100%. I just hope you can finish your work before our shitty, myopic, destructive society tears you down. Here's to faith.

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vonsydov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Holy shite.
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siscia 1 day ago 0 replies      
You want to make money or you want to change the world ?

I really liked Tesla here, there is the "good faith" deal, but still...

69
notastartup 1 day ago 1 reply      
Elon Musk is a heartthrob.
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hatred 1 day ago 0 replies      
Elon Musk #Respect
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volandovengo 1 day ago 1 reply      
How can you not love this guy?
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supergeek133 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perfect move by Tesla, they've hit a wall on progress that the big auto companies and government will allow.

Let's see what a mob of similar armed companies will do.

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kirk21 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to learn more about Elon Musk, you can start here: http://everyelonmuskvideo.tumblr.com/
2
Vermeer's paintings might be 350 year-old color photographs boingboing.net
706 points by famousactress  4 days ago   154 comments top 44
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bane 3 days ago 8 replies      
It's really clever, and I enjoyed the process involved immensely. The whole project is a work of art IMHO. I'm looking forward to watching the documentary of it all.

I also like this conclusion.

> My experiment doesn't prove that Vermeer worked this way, but it proves that he COULD have worked this way.

I do take issue with the hypothesis.

>The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision. If you were standing in the room that Vermeer painted, you would see that wall as a pretty even shade of off-white. The retina in your eyeball does some image processing to minimize the effect of light and shadow. To your eye, the wall appears to have far less contrast than it actually has. And if you can't see it, you can't paint it.

Then you can't see it through this device either.

I'm not an artist, but I've taken a few art classes, and one of the transformative things that happens during formal art training is that you learn to look at things in non-intuitive ways. For example, when most people are told to "draw a dog", even if they're looking at one, they reach back into their semantic memory, look up the mental function for "draw dog" and reproduce that.

The same thing is true for colors, brightness values, etc. A great deal of formal art education is learning to detach your visual stimulus from the semantic association you would otherwise naturally make...and perhaps reattach it to new semantic associations like "negative space" and "comparative brightness" and "relative white value". When you get really good you can even start reprocessing a scene or a model, deconstructing it in your mind and then reconstructing it via some other technique. You can go from photorealistic reproduction to complete abstraction.

http://www.etsycreative.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/vince...

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/_94URbVj_t8A/SZ7v2Iw28qI/AAAAAAAAA...

http://uploads2.wikiart.org/images/vincent-van-gogh/the-star...

https://gs1.wac.edgecastcdn.net/8019B6/data.tumblr.com/e8b99...

http://www.mde-art.com/art-blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/a...

I think a better hypothesis might have been "techniques at the time weren't suited to such exact reproduction of scenes, even great artists slightly distort objects and subjects in their work. Yet these paintings don't appear to suffer from such distortion, the shape and color reproduction is as exact as a tracing or photograph. There must have been a technique or tool used to assist the artist in not only tracing the shape, but reproducing the colors."

2
lisper 3 days ago 4 replies      
Wow, this guy is seriously hard-core:

> I needed a CNC lathe to make the legs for the harpsichord and the blue chair. I couldn't find a CNC lathe large enough to make these parts so I came up with the simple hack of bolting a cheap wood lathe onto the bed of the milling machine. Then, I programmed the mill to trace out the contour of the leg while the lathe spun the wood underneath the mill head.

...

> The legs of the instrument turned out to be a few inches too long for my wood lathe so I pulled the lathe out of the milling machine and cut it into two pieces on a band saw. I then bolted both pieces back into the mill, separated by a few inches. Now the lathe could accommodate a longer piece of wood.

Adam and Jamie would be proud.

3
m0nty 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's interesting to see David Hockney there, since he made a documentary many years ago (the 90s?) about how Vermeer might have used lenses and mirrors to create his paintings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynrnfBnhWSo

He points out that the intricacy of Vermeer's paintings, and peculiarities of perspective, strongly suggest the use of a camera obscura (or other optical device) to aid his work.

This is not to detract from the investigation in the OA, just point out that others have been this way before.

4
11001 3 days ago 3 replies      
There is so much more to Vermeer's art than just clever use of tools. I like this article much better (it got completely ignored on HN):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7254447

5
famousactress 4 days ago 1 reply      
FYI, the trailer for the documentary at the bottom of this article has a clip that makes it clearer what exactly he does with the mirror to help him paint photo-realistically. It wasn't super clear to me until seeing that.
6
freshyill 3 days ago 7 replies      
I've been waiting for this to come out on DVD. Time to add it to the Queue.

Is it wrong for me to think that Tim's Vermeer is better than Vermeer's Vermeer?

Vermeer: http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/xl_mu...

Tim: http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ML2s....

7
rquantz 3 days ago 1 reply      
The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision. If you were standing in the room that Vermeer painted, you would see that wall as a pretty even shade of off-white.

For an untrained eye casually glancing at the wall, sure, the brain edits out variations. But a big part of training to be a painter is learning to see, and even with an untrained eye, if you stare at a wall long enough you'll start to see color and texture variations. Not saying he couldn't have used a camera obscura or some other machine, but this in itself is hardly evidence that he had mechanical help.

8
huxley 3 days ago 0 replies      
There was a Kickstarter done to build a modern camera lucida, they are still building batches of them (they even have DYI including prescription lucidas):

http://neolucida.com

(not affiliated, just an art geek)

9
jacquesm 3 days ago 4 replies      
Very interesting article but this:

"I couldn't find a CNC lathe large enough to make these parts"

Makes absolutely no sense. I've worked on CNC rigs that would turn shafts for ocean liners and wheels for cranes, a couple of table legs should not have been a problem.

As for the theory, very interesting.

Here is the artist painting himself in his studio:

http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/image-paintings/ar...

I don't see anything like lenses, mirrors or other tricks, mostly just brushes, paint, canvas, the artist and the subject. There is that little black stick on the top right of the canvas, wonder what that is? Maybe there is a mirror at the end of it ;) It would be funny if the evidence for all this was sitting in plain view for a few hundred years but likely there is a more ordinary explanation for that stick, maybe someone with more experience in painting can chip in about what that is.

The about box at the bottom lists Tim as the guy behind DigiPaint of Amiga fame, and his company is also the one behind LightWave 3D.

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roschdal 3 days ago 2 replies      
I tried to buy the video, and got this error message from Amazon: "We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions."

Where can I buy this in Europe? In today's globalized world, online videos should be available everywhere at once.

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zedshaw 3 days ago 3 replies      
I had been waiting to see this movie forever and finally did right when it came out, and I can tell you it is awesome. It's a fantastic example of science and technology being used to solve a problem that just happens to be art. It's also a very compelling theory about the possible ways Vermeer did his more photorealistic paintings. Pretty much after this and spending the last year teaching myself to paint I can safely say if it looks like a photo, it's from a photo.

Another great book to check out is David Hockney's "Secret Knowledge", which covers how this is done in other ways, how projection devices were used by Kepler and others, how it could have been considered a guild secret among painters, and how when the photograph first came out people remarked how much the looked like "finished" paintings. His latest exhibit at the De Young was actually based on the research from this book where he cranked out a metric ton (quite literally) of art using various projection devices.

Another fun thing to do is "spot the laptop". You know how people are doing impressive hyperrealistic paintings like this:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/pictured-eloy-morale...

These are amazing, until you realize he's getting the fidelity he needs by making the paintings huge, then taking pictures of them from farther away. Can't tell a painting's size on the internet, so it looks super realistic until you see it in person. Next, if you look carefully at that first photo, he's looking off in the distance at....a laptop most likely, or a projection. If you look in youtube or at various artist's blogs you start to catch them with a laptop sitting right there, or an ipad stuck to their easel with the image right on it.

If you check out these hyperrealists (they don't say photo 'cause that's a bad word) you can sometimes catch them with a laptop, image on it squared off, sometimes even zoomed in.

What modern "Vermeers" are doing is they're using computers and screen technology to get very exacting details and color harmony using combinations of large size projections (you can see Eloy's pre-drawn lines), gridded images, and zooming on a computer screen. So the awesome thing about Tim's Vermeer is he shows that if someone's using enough technology to make art then they become just a mechanical photo printer. Might as well be a photographer.

Here's another artist you can see copying a photo:

http://www.littleobservationist.com/2013/05/22/artist-interv...

Franoise Nielly at least interprets them, but I bet if you looked she probably uses the hell out of computers at first to get studies right.

What's interesting is many artists use technology like this, and many of them get into this "cheating" when they run into disabilities or time constraints. The problem isn't the technology though, it's whether they pretend they don't use any, which is what a lot of these hyperrealists try to get away with. But, take an artist like Richard Schmid and you find he started using a computer after a major back injury and he freely admits he uses photos and computers to do painting.

What I liked about Tim's Vermeer is it's at least proof that someone with zero talent can use technology to create an equivalent to what's considered a masterpiece. David Hockney's book also demonstrates that much of the art we consider painted using pure skill is actually just clever uses of technology to do photo reproductions with oil paint.

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mzs 3 days ago 1 reply      
This will be a neat documentary and the idea clever to recreate the painting, but the camera obscura idea has been pretty well know for a while. Here is some evidence due to the quality of 17th C lens: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/camera_obscura/co_three.html I can't find a link but there was also good evidence of how the image shifts as focus changes in another painting. Some people even claim it's visible here: http://www.archiviobolano.it/img/arnolfini_SPECCHIO.JPG
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jwallaceparker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Norman Rockwell painted over projections of photographs to achieve his photo-realistic results.

This article shows his paintings and photo sources side-by-side:

http://petapixel.com/2012/12/27/the-photographs-norman-rockw...

14
avani 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin at CMU reconstructed the Camera Lucida, which was a common artists' tool up until the last century, and describe the history of it here: http://neolucida.com/history/lucida-history/

Basically, it's a tiny prism on a stick that projects what is in front of you to your drawing surface.

(disclaimer: I have no financial connection to these guys, but I did buy one of their Neolucidas, and it is a lot of fun)

15
cabirum 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every year some ancient artist becomes a photographer. The last time it was Caravaggio using mercury salt and a pinhole camera setup.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/mar/11/caravagg...

16
malloreon 3 days ago 0 replies      
This post reminded me of Adam Savage's "Obsession" TED talk.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEg-ZNB3qyI

"...maybe, then maybe! I will have reached the end of the exercise. Except, if I'm being honest with myself, reaching the end of the exercise was never really the point of the exercise, was it?"

17
emmelaich 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to have a look at some Vermeer paintings in great detail, go to the Rijksmuseum (Dutch Royal Museum). They digitised all their paintings (not just Vermeer) in great detail.

You can zoom in and see the flecks of paint.

https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/explore-the-collection/overvie...

18
ludwigvan 3 days ago 3 replies      
Here is some criticism from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/20...
19
acomjean 3 days ago 0 replies      
I saw the documentary. Its good, I enjoyed it.

I'm involved in arts (open studios board and website operator) in massachusetts and have been talking to painters about this (none had seen the documentary yet). Generally they don't see it as changing things, unless a lot of people start doing this. Also painters enjoy the freedom to create stuff that doesn't exist, where is this technique is kinda like a photograph where what you capture has to exist.

Makes you question art and its valuation (a lot does these days). No matter how its done the end result is what should be judged.

20
awestley 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am going to add my own useless commentary and say that I absolutely love things like this. It is the idea of applying a scientific approach to something for fun and because why not? This is Having Fun + Learning = Win in its purest form.
21
userbinator 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having not seen any of Vermeer's paintings before, I was astonished for a few moments as I thought the very first picture in the article was a painting. Then I scrolled down...
22
mgr86 3 days ago 1 reply      
did anyone else notice the photo/painting's caption read "Click to Embiggen"?

Could this be a subtle nod to the animators who painstakenly produce live cartons at the sacrifice of their wrists?

23
taternuts 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just finished this movie and I have to say it was awesome. The near obsessive lengths he took to re-create this painting was amazing to watch - it was probably some of the worst burn-out that veteran software engineer ever experienced
24
brianmcdonough 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was recruited to work as editor on this project about two years ago. My reason for not taking the job at the time was that it would be hard to make the ending interesting enough to justify the effort. Two years have passed and now that I see the reproduction, I've changed my mind, it was impossible to make the ending interesting enough. Would have made a good magazine article in the Smithsonian though.

"what a sweep of vanity comes this way!" - Shakespeare

25
cinitriqs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Saw the documentary which was enlightening, whether or not Vermeer actually produced his works like this, doesn't do it less good. An artist is still an artist, no matter which tools he uses (of course, printing a photograph with a 3d-printer to get some relief i still a 3d-printed photograph, reproducing it by hand however is still a wholly diff thing, and if you can see how much time "Tim" spent on his Vermeer, you can only applaud the fact that he persisted in his try to copy one of the greater works in history).

Nice docu and a fun way to get acquainted with some artsy work. In the end, "photorealists" are just that, "photorealists" who like to get as close to the real deal as they possibly can, whatever means necessary. (what or what isn't "photograph" is not up to discussion here at all)

26
atiffany 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is getting philosophical, but even if this was incontrovertible proof that Vermeer used these techniques to produce his works, it wouldn't detract from my appreciation. It would reshape my appreciate a bit, but I think that discovering these methods (by both Jenison and potentially Vermeer) is remarkable in itself. All artists use tools to produce their work - Vermeer may have just been innovative to find some really unique ones in his time.
27
grondilu 3 days ago 0 replies      
If that's true, and after having watched the documentary it's hard for me to believe it's not, then Vermeer was kind of like a magician : his paintings were made with a trick that he kept secret. On one hand the whole story is charming but on the other hand I have the feeling Vermeer was kind of a dick not to reveal this technique to the World.
28
Splendor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an hour long interview with Tim Jenison where they discuss some of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D0AMvdt11g
29
mknappen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps if art were taught in US schools with the systematic rigor of mathematics and rhetorical essay composition, as it should be, people would cease being surprised that artists exploit technological advances like everyone else. The LAX International Terminal features digital installations, not frescos.
30
tubelite 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Teller's article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/teller-reveals-hi...

"..You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest."

Teller's friend Tim appears to have taken the same attitude towards checking out his Vermeer hypothesis. Amazing effort.

31
gojomo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sci-fi author Greg Egan has a disturbing short-story on similar themes, 'The Caress', part of the collection Axiomatic. (The full collection is just $2.99 via the author's self-published ebooks: http://gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au/BIBLIOGRAPHY/Ebooks...) It could make a great Blade Runner-like movie, and then that movie would be a perfect double-feature with Tim's Vermeer.

And in digging up links about 'The Caress', I came across a cool word, ekphrasis, that also applies to Tim's Vermeer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekphrasis

32
shmerl 3 days ago 1 reply      
While the theory works fine for static objects, how can it work for people? Did they have to precisely repeat their position while posing? Wouldn't it ruin the copying aspect?
33
kyleowens10 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another interesting post on the topic from awhile ago:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6823528
34
mavdi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just watched the film, absolutely mind blowing.
35
ssdfsdf 3 days ago 0 replies      
For what it's worth, for all the people I never told that I thought this to be true. I told you so :)
36
kauphy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, wonder how Johannes Vermeer did all of his self portraits ...
37
autokad 2 days ago 0 replies      
this was really i^3 (interesting, informative, and innovative). thanks!
38
NAFV_P 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tim did a damn good job of the rug on the table.
39
Marinlemaignan 3 days ago 0 replies      
he's so cool, clever and can do anything
40
JustSomeNobody 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good grief, talk about yak shaving.
41
andrewliebchen 3 days ago 2 replies      
OMG! Vermeer used a camera lucida! I'm surprised!

...Said no art historian ever.

42
spacecadet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tim's is better. ;D
43
kelvin0 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bis? This story has already ran ... I guess this is fine for the 'new' crowd at HN
44
Htsthbjig 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the process he follows, but Vermeer the biggest painter of all time?. He must be kidding.

Vermeer painting is ok, but there are better paintings and certainly better painters.

Rembrandt or Velazquez run circles around Vermeer in photorealism, but if you consider other things Vermeer is not even in the top ten, probably in top 100.

3
With 'The Machine,' HP May Have Invented a New Kind of Computer businessweek.com
537 points by justincormack  2 days ago   289 comments top 39
1
jawns 2 days ago 6 replies      
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a memristor is, as I was, HP has an easy-to-understand analogy on its FAQ page about memristors:

"A common analogy for a resistor is a pipe that carries water. The water itself is analogous to electrical charge, the pressure at the input of the pipe is similar to voltage, and the rate of flow of the water through the pipe is like electrical current. Just as with an electrical resistor, the flow of water through the pipe is faster if the pipe is shorter and/or it has a larger diameter. An analogy for a memristor is an interesting kind of pipe that expands or shrinks when water flows through it. If water flows through the pipe in one direction, the diameter of the pipe increases, thus enabling the water to flow faster. If water flows through the pipe in the opposite direction, the diameter of the pipe decreases, thus slowing down the flow of water. If the water pressure is turned off, the pipe will retain it most recent diameter until the water is turned back on. Thus, the pipe does not store water like a bucket (or a capacitor) it remembers how much water flowed through it."

Source: http://www.hpl.hp.com/news/2008/apr-jun/memristor_faq.html

2
Arjuna 2 days ago 3 replies      
Dr. Leon Ong Chua [1] wrote this paper [2] in 1971 entitled, Memristor - The Missing Circuit Element, where he first outlined the theory of the memristor.

Admittedly, this is not my field, so my fascination may appear to be quite naive to the well-initiated, but I find it simply intriguing that the memristor was first theorized to exist; that is, it is somewhat analogous to the Higgs boson, in that the mathematics precedes the discovery.

To my point (from the paper):

"Although no physical memristor has yet been discovered in the form of a physical device without internal power supply, the circuit-theoretic and quasi-static electromagnetic analyses presented in Sections III and IV make plausible the notion that a memristor device with a monotonically increasing -q curve could be invented, if not discovered accidentally."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_O._Chua

[2] http://www.cpmt.org/scv/meetings/chua.pdf

3
valarauca1 2 days ago 10 replies      
A memristor is the 4th fundamental circuit component, along with capacitors, resistors, and inductors.

The important part of memristors is that they can be arranged to form a crossbar latch, which acts like a transistor.

This crossbar latches are very very small, and very low power. HP plans on achieving data density of 100GB/cm^2 [1] with read write speeds approximately 100x faster then flash memory while using 1% of the energy. Also with lower energy costs, expected data density is 1 Petabyte per cm^3 (due to 3D stacked circuitry)

Basically when this technology comes of age we'll see smart phones reach the order of terabytes of storage.

[1] http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1168454

4
achille 2 days ago 4 replies      
I encourage folks to watch this tech talk by HP Research Labs on the discovery of the memristor and implementation details.It goes into the gory technical details, from the low level physics to the construction of the gates, the truth tables, and the high level computation possibilities once chips are assembled in a crossbar package.

> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKGhvKyjgLY

5
haberman 2 days ago 3 replies      
> If you want to really rethink computing architecture, were the only game in town now, he said.

Another way of putting this: because of patents, we're in a privileged position of being the only people who are allowed to work on this problem.

So instead of the whole world rushing to make something interesting with this new tech, we get a group of people working in an ivory tower trying to come up with the perfect thing.

If we're lucky, they'll execute well and deliver a compelling product that they have monopoly power over for 10 years, or however long the patents last.

If we're not lucky, they'll bumble around like cable providers trying to develop "valuable add-ons", and the only reason they'll have any success is because no one is allowed to compete with them.

Sorry if that's overly pessimistic, but that's how this article came off to me. I guess patents do have the benefit that we are getting to hear about this development at all instead of it being a tightly-controlled trade secret. And this kind of payoff is what funds the R&D gamble to begin with. I just hope that they actually deliver reusable parts that other people can build into bigger innovations instead of trying to control the innovations themselves.

6
ambler0 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the last paragraph:

"The Machine isnt on HPs official roadmap. Fink says it could arrive as early as 2017 or take until the end of the decade. Any delivery date has to be taken with some skepticism given that HP has been hyping the memristor technology for years and failed to meet earlier self-imposed deadlines."

So, does anyone actually know whether significant new progress is being made on this project, or is this article just a win for HP's PR department and nothing more?

7
drcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me HP saw the marketing power of "Watson" (a platform for marketing AI technologies) and are trying to create "The Machine" to build a marketing platform around advanced computer architecture concepts.

Just like IBM had at least a few interesting ideas to give Watson credibility, HP hopes its memristor work will give "The Machine" enough credibility that they won't get laughed out of the room once they parade it around the MSM.

8
squigs25 2 days ago 3 replies      
Soooo... this is basically just persistent memory right?

HP has been working on the memristor since 2008. Memristors have already been produced in labs by U of Michigan:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor

This article seeks to give the image that this is a novel idea that investors can take advantage of. In reality, it is not.

9
cliveowen 2 days ago 6 replies      
I so much want this to be true, I can't wait for it. Not having a layered memory architecture means no VM, everything has be rethought from the filesystem down.On a related note: "Operating systems have not been taught what to do with all of this memory, and HP will have to get very creative."Anyone knows what this could possibly mean?
10
dvanduzer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this about a storage breakthrough with memristors, about alternatives to Von Neumann architecture, or just an incomprehensible press release?
11
untothebreach 2 days ago 2 replies      
Link to the printable version, for those who don't like paginated stories:

> http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/206401-with-the...

12
sushirain 2 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest difference the memristor brings is to Machine Learning. The memristor is a first step towards a hardware implementation of Hebb's rule - "neurons that fire together wire together". Hebb's rule variants are used in machine learning algorithms to do things like web-search, image/object recognition, etc. (Specifically, Hebb's rule can be used to compute PCA.)

It's interesting to note that the brain does not have separate components for memory and computation. Every neuron computes and stores at the same time.

13
twic 2 days ago 2 replies      
It really is incredible, the innovation that comes out of these Silicon Valley startups!
14
cwyers 2 days ago 2 replies      
"HPs bet is the memristor, a nanoscale chip that Labs researchers must build and handle in full anticontamination clean-room suits."

So... it's a chip.

15
al2o3cr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds really neat, but "2017 - next decade" is the engineering estimate version of "sometime, maybe never".
16
inportb 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Most applications written in the past 50 years have been taught to wait for data, assuming that the memory systems feeding the main computers chips are slow.

... and they'd still have to wait for data, knowing that modern apps love pulling data from the network.

17
tlb 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to start developing for this class of machine, you can build a prototype using DRAM, which is equivalent as long as the power stays on.
18
wmf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another article about HP's future monopoly on computing that doesn't mention PCM, RRAM, STT-RAM, etc.
19
rntz 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article mentions that

> Fink has assigned one team to develop the open-source Machine OS, which will assume the availability of a high-speed, constant memory store.

I have to ask: if this is open-source, where is it? Perhaps my google-fu is weak, but I can't find anything but news articles talking about "The Machine".

EDIT: Aha, found mention in some articles that it "will be made" open source. Future tense. That makes more sense.

20
yellowapple 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's pretty awesome. Memristors are very promising for creating fast, high-density, non-volatile storage, and it's good to see that HP's seeing that in the midst of the solid-state flash memory craze and working on commercial applications for them.

What's also awesome is that - according to the article - HP plans on open-sourcing its custom "Machine OS"; rather refreshing coming from a company that's traditionally released its own operating systems under non-free licenses.

I'm not normally a fan of HP (aside from their printers), but seeing them go after this kind of stuff is certainly exciting.

21
grondilu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Totally bought ten shares of HPQ after learning about that. Who knows, their plan might actually work. Go HP!
22
chrisweekly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now THIS is "Hacker News". Perhaps a slightly unlikely source (does businessweek usually have this quality?) but v interesting article and discussion here. Sorry not to be adding more substantively to it, just glad it's here. :)
23
marvin 2 days ago 2 replies      
In case there's anyone in here who knows: Why does the Wikipedia page for memristors say that this 4th circuit element is proven to be impossible to create in physical reality, due tp the laws of thermodynamics?

Either HP must be lying, physics must be wrong or whomever figured out this "proof" must have screwed up.

24
rasz_pl 2 days ago 1 reply      
TLDR they are hyping up Memristors and hinting at HP trying to bundle it with some of their proprietary crap if/when they finally deliver.
25
Shivetya 2 days ago 1 reply      
as for a new OS, single level store OSes should work just fine in such an environment.
26
shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Fink has assigned one team to develop the open-source Machine OS, which will assume the availability of a high-speed, constant memory store.

It's great that they decided to make it open from the start.

27
alyxr 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's the long-term reliability/durability of memristors? Do they die after too many reads or writes?
28
goblin89 2 days ago 0 replies      
This computer may take as long as a decade to build, according to the article. Why did HP choose to reveal their hand so early? Isn't it preferable to take everyone (especially competitors) by surprise?
29
api 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a test platform for memristor tech.
30
DonGateley 2 days ago 0 replies      
They talk about memristors being the fourth type of circuit element and the final element at that.

It's just a resistor with memory. i.e. its R value can be changed by current and remembered. Wouldn't an inductor with memory in the sense that it's L is changed by voltage or current and remembered be a fifth and a capacitor with a C that is changed and remembered be sixth?

31
Eleutheria 2 days ago 0 replies      
> could replace a data centers worth of equipment with a single refrigerator-size machine

Ten years later it will fit in your pocket.

32
christianbryant 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm looking forward to the list of exploits that emerge post-release. Exciting stuff, particularly in terms of moving OS development forward independent of the usual suspects.
33
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am happy to see them emerging as an R&D power. They haven't had much to show for themselves lately, so I wish them well on this.
34
scythe 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a catch, of course -- always a catch: a truly nonvolatile memristor violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But see:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n4/abs/ncomms2784.ht... open access)

The physics is (unsurprisingly) rather involved and I don't have time to decipher it, but, yeah, here's the guts.

35
jayantsethi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone please explain how can light be used to transfer data in computers?
36
rogerdpack 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first thought is "whoa, they are going to have to figure out how to make those screaming fast to be able to keep up with the speed of SSD's by the time memristors are released" (though I guess the appeal of practically unlimited storage is nice...
37
srbryers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Professor F(r)ink??
38
marincounty 2 days ago 0 replies      
HP need to show up at my door with a check for $599.00 plus tax for a laptop that I used 5 times and died on the day of 366! Nerds remember. I don't think this Podunk company realizes once you lose a customer, you lose them for a long time. The reverse is true; once a male buys a product he likes--you have a customer for life. It's taught in every business school? Men just want the dam thing to work? Oh, and hire a CEO who knows a little bit about engineering? That last sentence goes to all hardware companies.
39
bayesianhorse 2 days ago 0 replies      
The government has a secret system: a machine ...
4
For Sale: 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins usmarshals.gov
533 points by jc123  1 day ago   391 comments top 31
1
marme 1 day ago 8 replies      
What people should be more concerned with is the fact that the government is selling off someone elses property before they have even been convicted of a crime. Dread pirate roberts plead not guilty and has still not had a trial yet. He has not been convicted of any crime so if these are his coins they are selling them before the trial is even finished
2
artursapek 1 day ago 6 replies      
The price has tanked today as a result of this. http://cryptowat.ch/btce/btcusd/1hr/

Market started going crazy earlier today when DPR's seized coins started to move. https://blockchain.info/address/1FfmbHfnpaZjKFvyi1okTjJJusN4... The downtrend is only accelerating.

3
vijayboyapati 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is good in a way. It's yet another tacit admission of the legal legitimacy of bitcoin by USG. It's not like USG would seize 20kg of cocaine then sell it into the market in an auction!
4
joosters 1 day ago 10 replies      
Isn't this a bit presumptuous?

Ross William Ulbricht hasn't yet been convicted of anything. I know that they aren't selling his personal bitcoins, but in the (highly unlikely) event that he is found innocent, wouldn't that mean that the Silk Road assets need to be returned to him? How then can they sell them now?

5
wmf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since you get a bill of sale from the US government I guess these will be the cleanest Bitcoins ever.
6
viraptor 1 day ago 7 replies      
Could someone explain the logic behind the price drop? Is that related to the fact that those 30k will be sold below the standard price? For some reason it seems counter-intuitive for me, since the money connected to those coins have been already paid once (whether for mining them or via exchange). So in practice it's more like they've been actually paid for ~twice now, so the effect "should" be opposite.
7
0x0 1 day ago 2 replies      
Will they announce the winning bidders?

Those coins will then be linked to the winners' identities permanently in the block chain. Talk about painting a target on oneself.

9
chuckup 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is only what is currently being minted every 8.2 days. I predict the price will go up due to the media attention - this is a very cool story, expect lots of news coverage. When/if a Silk Road based movie ever comes out, expect "the moon".

You couldn't ask for a better story - the opposite of what Bitcoin really is when you think of it - finance, computers - stuff that bores the hell out of most people. Instead: drugs! conspiracy! magic internet money! Now, add "Satoshi" - mysterious inventor who's vanished. Seriously, you can't write this stuff!

10
GigabyteCoin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is anybody else surprised by the urgency with which they seem to be selling these coins?

They only made the announcement today and you have to be registered to bid by this coming monday?

Is this typical of government auctions?

11
JacobAldridge 1 day ago 0 replies      
"All bids must be made in U.S. dollars."

Which dents my plan of offering to buy each of the BTC 3,000 blocks with an offer of BTC 2,000 each.

12
Benferhat 1 day ago 0 replies      
The price of bitcoins has already dropped 10% since the news.
13
lifeformed 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Why must they sell all of them as one bundle? Can't they sell smaller amounts to many different buyers? Or is that too complicated?
14
saganus 1 day ago 3 replies      
Anyone care to take a guess as to how will this affect Bitcoin price?
15
Glyptodon 1 day ago 6 replies      
This seems insane. Shouldn't it be cheaper and more efficient to just sell them on an exchange or something? (Over time, even, rather than all at once, obviously.)

"Let's sell them all in blocks of 3000 and require a deposit of $200k to bid" ... yeah ...

16
gojomo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love this part:

The USMS will not transfer bitcoins to an obscene public address, a public address apparently in a country restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a public address apparently associated with terrorism, other criminal activities, or otherwise hostile to the United States.

So, be sure to pre-calculate your auction-winning vanity-address to be some simple transformation of your obscene/anti-American message, rather than the message itself!

17
deadfall 1 day ago 1 reply      
They should try http://coinbase.com $591.11 right now
18
imrehg 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Transfer Fees. Any transfer fees associated with the transfer of the bitcoins will be paid by the buyer."

Dear officers, these are zero fee transactions, if there were any :)

19
CoreSet 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Probably a dumb question, but I seem to have trouble understanding the post: Are the bitcoins being sold in one discreet chunk (you buy the entire wallet or nothing) or are they being parceled out (it mentions auctioning off blocks)?

Also, is it possible to use these bitcoins in a transaction, or would you simply be paying for the still-encrypted wallet?

20
smoorman1024 1 day ago 0 replies      
They could probably get more value out of the bitcoins by selling them slowly in the market rather than issuing a block sale. That's like Ackman running to the market and yelling for sale 20,000,000 shares of JCP. He instead slowly acquires or divests his stake.
21
mschuster91 1 day ago 1 reply      
Insane. The USMS with this announcement massively devalued it.

It would have been far better to quietly sell these BTC evenly spread across the major exchanges at market prices.

22
DogeDogeDoge 1 day ago 1 reply      
$200 000 seems to be a big anti troll bid blocker. But i bet someone is going to get rich and buy them way below market price.
23
kyledrake 1 day ago 0 replies      
I doubt these are going to be liquidated once purchased. Someone is going to buy them cheaper than market rate and probably go long with them.
24
lutador1986 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a crowdfunded bid to win the bitcoin:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7889904
25
Rulero 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is very shocking.

So the government makes it illegal to sell narcotics, regardless, some individuals take a risk and deal drugs to be able to sustain themselves or finance a lifestyle of their choice.

Now the government start prosecuting someone, seize their assets (Which were turned over through illicit methods) and release this dodgy money back to the market.

What's more disturbing about this whole scenario is the fact that someone is getting done over. What if the government kept prosecuting dealers and then selling their assets back to the market? Those assets should be "destroyed" - just the way narcotics are destroyed when dealers get caught.

This is a joke.

26
cinitriqs 1 day ago 0 replies      
So... they are selling off "illegaly claimed" BTC now?Ah but of course, they have been doing the same thing with everything else for years... (supporting their own departments, making them able to buy tanks, cars, houses and plenty more).

Nothing new here, carry on, carry on!!!

27
Intermernet 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there much difference between this, and if the DEA had busted some meth dealers who had a bunch of gold sitting around? Or if the FBI had busted some mafia family with billions in property?

What are the precedents here? Does this style of US government confiscation / sale have any analog in realms outside the net?

I'm honestly curious, I know that governments are completely within their (self defined, but generally accepted) rights to profit from these seizures, but what are the implications of profiting from the proceeds of crime, and has this raised it's head in more "traditional" areas before?

28
codeddesign 1 day ago 7 replies      
wait...so you have to deposit $200k in order to bid???
29
adambom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Someone should steal these before they can sell them
30
TamDenholm 1 day ago 3 replies      
Surely this creates precedent of US government recognised legitimacy? While it might hurt the markets in the short run, i reckon it'll overall help bitcoin as a currency in the long term.
31
bsder 1 day ago 3 replies      
It would be funnier if the bitcoin exchanges blocked those blockchains as having been permanently compromised.

It would prevent the feds from having an incentive to seize bitcoins.

5
Netflix responds to Verizon scribd.com
466 points by chrisacky  4 days ago   258 comments top 26
1
dctoedt 4 days ago 2 replies      
Nice jab with (what seems to be) an allusion to the New Jersey bridge-closing scandal that engulfed Gov. Chris Christie: "... like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour."
2
ColinDabritz 4 days ago 5 replies      
I hope Netflix makes this a standard feature for all ISPs. Bonus point for more transparency, e.g. network graphs comparing peak to off-peak.

This sort of visibility into the real problems means the ISPs can't hide behind their lies.

3
Osiris 3 days ago 5 replies      
I believe the core problem here is that ISPs and infrastructure are owned by the same companies. Based on evidence from other countries, like Japan, these problems would largely go away if it was illegal to own both the infrastructure and provide service to customers.

Is it possible that anti-trust laws could be used to force these large ISPs to break up into separate companies, one that owns and provides the network and the other that only leases the lines and provides service?

Such a breakup would allow new, smaller, ISPs to leverage the infrastructure while provided superior service and potentially better pricing models.

Of course there would still be the problem of competing infrastructure companies. Some of that could be alleviated by increasing competition through public/private fiber installation projects.

4
gnu8 3 days ago 3 replies      
How about a link to the document instead of some fly-by-night web host with a cheesy flash PDF viewer?
5
jusben1369 4 days ago 2 replies      
Written to Verizon but written for everyone but Verizon. This is a PR battle started by Verizon but I think Netflix just went up 3 - 0.
6
dmethvin 3 days ago 4 replies      
They are saying "The Verizon network is crowded right now" but in the letter they say that the problem is with "interconnection congestion". So yes the problem lies with Verizon and its hesitancy to open up peering points, but if I were a Netflix lawyer that wording would have me concerned since Verizon's network is not crowded. It's like having a crowd outside a bar waiting to get in.
7
chernevik 3 days ago 3 replies      
Kudos to Netflix, this is great strategy. But I wish the letter were a touch better written. They might attach a written-for-laymen description of the interconnection problem (so they can keep the response itself punchy).

As I understand the problem, the congestion builds at the interconnection because Verizon's routers at that point at working at capacity. Verizon could solve the problem by adding routers at that point. I honestly don't understand what Verizon wants Netflix to do, unless it is to extend the Netflix data provision deeper into the Verizon network -- essentially adding routers at the point where Verizon is supposed to be maintaining routers. (I wonder if that is what this Open Connect program is about?)

If that's right, I wish Netflix would provide some further detail explaining the problem. Otherwise they risk having readers -- and politicians -- go into glazed eyes and presume that this is just some inscrutable battle among corporate giants.

8
taylorwc 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh. Good for Netflix. Any consumer who doesn't have a strong opinion in favor of net neutrality should read this sort of thing. It's hard to think of a relationship I detest more than my relationship with my ISP/MSO.
9
gdulli 3 days ago 13 replies      
Am I the only one who doesn't use streaming video and doesn't want my ISP rates to go up because a vast majority of the traffic they now have to deal with is video and their architecture needs to be built out in a way that it otherwise wouldn't?
10
crazy1van 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is so aggravating to have Verizon pitch an upgrade to FiOS Quantum(!) every time I turn my DVR on. If my 25mbps connection can't stream a 5mbps video why would I pay extra for 50mbps?

No thank you, Verizon.

11
nhangen 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is that real? It doesn't read like it was written by an attorney, and there was even a grammar mistake in the first paragraph.
12
uptownhr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm thinking from a Consumer's stand point right now. No matter how I see it, it looks like ISPs are at fault in this matter but I've been questioning what the outcome will be for the Consumers in the end.

If Netflix doesn't pay, wouldn't Verizon and other service providers transfer the cost to Consumers? Or will this also be not allowed for ISP to do? If ISPs want to make more money and charge more, why would they not transfer the cost to Consumers if they cannot charge Netflix and the likes.

13
panabee 3 days ago 1 reply      
hopefully netflix continues this push toward broadband transparency. as justice louis brandeis said, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." it seems unreasonable for verizon and broadband providers to advertise, and charge consumers for, high-quality networks -- then try to pry money from data suppliers like netflix when usage rises. that said, is there a fair counterargument that justifies verizon's desire to charge both consumers for high-speed access and netflix for increased network usage?
14
higherpurpose 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hope Netflix doesn't give in, and calls Verizon's bluff. It's highly unlikely Verizon will sue Netflix, and even if it does just because they are so angry with Netflix over it, it will most likely come out in favor of Netflix, once the Court orders Verizon to show what's really happening behind the scenes and who's fault really is.

In fact, from what I've noticed, Verizon has already lowered their tone about this, and is backing away from threatening Netflix with the lawsuit. So carry on!

These ISP's promised good service to their paying customers, regardless of the conditions. It's their responsibility to live up to those expectations.

15
tieTYT 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know how Netflix figures out that it's Verizon that's slow, but lets say it's with some software that anyone could use. Wouldn't it benefit the entire Internet to open source that software so that anyone could use it? Or, barring that, provide an API that anyone can query.

This way, any company can use the software and report the same thing to their customers. Lower the barrier to entry for Amazon/Google/Hulu/your startup to join the fight and inform the people.

16
thatthatis 3 days ago 0 replies      
They might as well have addressed that letter to hacker news with a cc to verizon. Well executed PR move.
17
cipherzero 4 days ago 4 replies      
What's the Open Connect program they mention? how does it work?
18
oldmanjay 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I find most interesting about these topics is how many people come out to contribute to them. Nothing gets people riled up like vaguely threatening the free flow of entertainment.

I wish I know how to direct this energy into something a little less disappointing.

19
autokad 3 days ago 1 reply      
doesnt this reek of hoax to anyone? Not just the 'response' letter, but the initial twitter 'screen shot' as well. Why in the world would an executive scan a letter like that opening them up to litigation? even if they were 'right', they would probably get fired for it.
20
dokem 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm all for what Netflix is doing, but this read like a cheesy publicity stunt. The whole thing seems like it was written to be read by the public, not Verizon's lawyers. I mean, it contained a simile/metaphor.
21
bryondowd 4 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I'm nitpicking, but in their bridge analogy, wouldn't the drivers be more analogous to the users than to Netflix? If anything, Netflix would be the city full of employment opportunities that drivers are commuting to and from across the bridge. So a more fitting comparison would be 'like blaming the city at the other end of the bridge for traffic jams..'

Either way, brilliant response, and hopefully Verizon gets the hint.

22
asc123 3 days ago 2 replies      
Netflix should just stop serving to Verizon and Comcast. the outlash would force the FCC and companies to recognize.
23
gettingreal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is this just a USA problem?

Why for example has SKY or TalkTalk in the UK not tried this? What is stopping them?

24
knodi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Google needs to bring its ISP services to all US markets faster. Kill these shitty/pos ISPs. I'm really hoping Google is willing to throw enough capital at this problem and change some of the laws to open up the market to all new comers.
25
mantrax5 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's becoming a habit that every week either telco responds to Netflix, or Netflix responds to telco.

I'm slightly sick of these silly public letters. Why the hell either Netflix or said telcos feel like they need to bother the public with their internal problems, instead of solving them privately like adults?

This is not about net neutrality. It's about who foots the bill for upgrading the network to handle the capacity that Netflix users need.

Meter the damn traffic and let Netflix (and other heavy) users pay the telco and be done with it. God damn.

26
ajainy 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is it only me, who thinks, this letter might be FAKE. Though it's professionally written but it doesn't look like real one. For example: three DOTs right after word doorstep. I tend to use multiple dots in my personal emails but even in office, talking to clients, using multiple dots, is not professional. How we can confirm, this is REAL letter not just nice job done faking it.
6
Anti-Tesla sentiment and the death of optimism cjohnson.io
431 points by natural219  1 day ago   196 comments top 54
1
nostromo 1 day ago 7 replies      
I've been thinking of patents as nukes during the Cold War lately.

Superpowers (US/USSR, Apple/Google) acquire very large nuclear/patent arsenals under the guise of protection/defense. These arsenals are relatively cheap for superpowers to build, but they are expensive for small states (small countries/small businesses) to acquire.

The US and USSR were roughly equivalent in their arsenals so it made little sense for either party to act offensively. However, the implied power behind the arsenals gave them a lot of power when dealing with smaller actors. The superpowers benefit greatly from acquiring these arsenals. Even without using them publicly, the threat can always be used behind closed doors (as Jobs has been shown to do).

But there's a third actor; the most universally feared actor: terrorists/patent trolls. These actors behave only offensively because they have nothing to defend. These actors are best poised to benefit from nukes and patents and can send an otherwise orderly system into chaos.

Anyway, just a fun but flawed analogy to play with in your noodle. :)

2
ajsharp 1 day ago 6 replies      
I enjoyed your post. I have a couple of thoughts / suggestions for you.

I got the impression that the underlying motivation for writing the post, and tactic you used for justifying your positions was largely in response to what I would consider the overly myopic hacker news user base. That is, disproportionately white, male, curmudgeoney programmers. I sympathize with your frustration, but urge you not to let their world-view cloud yours, or cause you to search for complicated answers to simple questions.

An example of what I mean:

> I believe the current skepticism around Silicon Valley's "Make The World a Better Place" mentality is deeply rooted in historical anxiety about institutional capitalism.

On this point, I urge you to consider a much simpler explanation: that people are skeptical because there is much to be skeptical of. People like Musk are a rare breed in Silicon Valley. Today's tech "entrepreneur" rarely looks like Elon Musk, someone who genuinely seems to want to do good things for the world. The skeptisism exists because there are a lot of startups doing plain silly things, masked in global do-goodery marketing narrative.

Startups are the new gold rush, today's investment banking. But the west coast has much different cultural norms towards opulent wealth than does the east coast. Put simply, we like to hide it out here, they like to flaunt it out there. Thus, "we're making the world a better place" instead of something like The Wolf of Wall Street.

Still, I enjoyed your post and your choice of using macro-economic theory as a lens through which to view this. Thanks for writing.

3
hibikir 1 day ago 2 replies      
Trust is not a binary decision, it is a continuum. And within that continuum, the US is way further to being a trusting society than not. When we sign a contract, we have an expectation that it will be fulfilled, and that if it isn't, the courts will work, albeit slowly. You get a job, and you tend to get paid. Go in a cab, not expect to get robbed, or murdered. If you hire an employee, you expect him to at least attempt to do his job. Is someone does a good job, there's a chance there's some reward behind it.

There's a reason Southern Europe has worse economic outcomes, and that's trust. You get even worse results as you move towards the development world. And many parts of South America make Southern Europe seem downright trustworthy.

It's important to have a high trust society, but it's really more of a systemic trust than anything: About having negative consequences to breaking trust, not about taking leaps of faith to trust companies.

4
x0054 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Patent discussion aside, I just want to point out that battery powered cars are NOT the solution to global warming, at least not at the current state of technology. Aside from all the environmental damage involved in producing the lithium cells them selves, you have to also consider that to charge those cells we are still burning cola and then transmitting that power over an incredibly inefficient, almost 100 year old power grid (in US).

In fact, given the environmental damage from production of a new car combined with environmental damage from production of lithium batteries, combined with CO2 emissions from the cola burning power plants and nuclear waste from the nuclear power plants, I would argue that the earth is better off if you were to drive an older F150 pickup truck for another 300k miles, rather than buy a new Tesla. If you have an option though, you should choose something more efficient.

But overall, I just wanted to point out to anyone who is honestly concerned about global warming. Driving your current car for longer (assuming it's reasonably economical), and investing the money into fixing it up and getting more miles out of it is way better environmentally than buying a new car. Remamber, repair > reuse > recycle > replace.

5
darkmighty 1 day ago 1 reply      
Playing devils advocate, I'd say sure, it sucks that some (or most) people are selfish dickheads leading to mutually degrading situations. But it would suck almost as much to always be at mercy of your competitors good will (that he won't arbitrarily screw you, leave unpunished and with a better outcome), even if it happens sparsely. The obvious solution to this fabricated game theory dilemma is regulation, which is nothing more than eliminating those scenarios which are undesirable for society altogether. Not only it avoids the risk of being screwed, or the costs associated with being screwed, or the loss of optimality of outcomes -- but most importantly it simplifies greatly the game. Markets are quite complex already and the added constraint of having to think hard about your oponents and consider all the scenarios to make sure you're not screwing them is enormous. I think this behavior is distinct from bad faith, it's just a matter of responsibility and scope.

This, to me, is ideal capitalistic behavior: oblivious, but with good faith (not trying to 'unfairly' or 'destructively' bring down your opponent) -- and it should come with swift regulations and laws flexible enough to punish edge cases.

We have a truly unrecognized gift as a species: morality. Not because it's cute or honorable (that would be a circular assessment), but because it allows us to reach those Pareto optimal spots. We just have to use it in proper settings, with proper rules.

6
rayiner 1 day ago 3 replies      
The idea that the Pareto-optimal situation is the one where everyone freely copies from each other may be appropriate for the market Tesla finds itself in, but is in general directly contradicted by the actual experience of the technology industry.

The experience of the technology industry is that innovation happens in periods of monopoly. That monopoly might arise from first-mover effects, network effects, lock-in effects, or IP protections (patents, copyrights, and trademarks). This has been true from Bell Labs to Xerox to Google to Facebook. Bell Labs had its heyday when AT&T was a government-sanctioned monopoly. The Xerox Alto, which pioneered the GUI, the mouse, and networking, was invented at a Xerox that had 100% of the U.S. copier industry, a few years before an antitrust consent decree forced it to license its patents to Japanese competitors, quickly destroying its marketshare.[1] If another search engine could easily copy Google's data and algorithms, they wouldn't have the money to be working on self-driving cars and AI. Facebook is a textbook example of network effects precluding perfect competition.

In comparison, look at the PC industry, which is based on open standards and an OS licensed on non-discriminatory terms. What has happened to the PC? They have become commodities and innovation is essentially dead. Companies like Lenovo eke out single-digit profit margins, and nobody can afford to spend money on R&D.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox#1970s

7
robbrown451 1 day ago 2 replies      
This explains, at the very least, why rampant partisanship is an inevitability in a large Democracy, despite it being worse off for everybody (including politicians themselves).

Instead of saying "in a large Democracy" it should say "in a large Democracy which uses plurality voting." Some voting systems (for instance Condorcet compatible ones) do not encourage partisanship in the same way as plurality does. In fact other systems actually encourage cooperation and favor candidates that are more in the center.

And I think that points to a flaw in the conclusion of the article: attempting to directly change human nature (or culture, as the OP suggests) is a fool's errand.

Instead, changing the rules of a system, such that the Pareto optimal result and the Nash Equilibrium align more closely, is a much more realistic approach. And I believe that when you do set up good systems where people are rewarded for cooperating, the culture changes with it.

(Regardless I think it is an excellent article and the more people who understand the Game Theory stuff he explains, the better. And I absolutely agree with his sentiment than Musk should be lauded for what he is doing rather than being met with cynicism.)

8
yomritoyj 1 day ago 2 replies      
The author is seriously mistaken about game theory. The Nash Equilibrium requires every player to be maximizing their payoffs given what the other players are doing. But game theory itself does not say what the nature of the payoffs are: there is no problem in modelling altruistic players who attach a high payoff to outcomes which are good for everyone and low payoffs to outcomes which benefit only themselves.

The Pareto Optimal is not an outcome which is best for both, since the whole point of this concept is to avoid giving a definition of "best for both". Rather it is an outcome from which no player can be made better off without making some other player worse off. So, for example, for two greedy people sharing a cake, any division of the cake, including one which gives the entire cake to one person, is Pareto optimal.

Anyone seriously interested in understanding what game theory really says and avoiding superficial mistakes in its interpretation should read at least the first chapter of Binmore's 'Playing for Real'.

9
carsongross 1 day ago 3 replies      
The only hope is cultural change.

The only hope is cultural trust, and the only way to achieve that is to allow like-minded individuals to separate themselves into autonomous political units.

This is dangerous thinking Chris, if you start following these thoughts through to the end, rather than spinning off into happy-clappy "change the world's heart" wishing...

10
mythz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Elon Musk's response: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/477223079421046785

"Apparently, lots of confused media inquiries about blog title. Look, we just to make sure they don't set us up the bomb."

11
ntoshev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just having the right culture is not a solution. You can have a culture that routinely goes for Pareto optimality. If that's not an evolutionary stable strategy, the moment you introduce agents that choose the Nash equilibrium instead, they would start winning and gaining ground.

I wonder about a different solution though: can you design a mechanism that transforms the Nash equilibrium of a Prisoner's dilemma game into the Pareto optimal outcome? Something similar to escrow?

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

12
MarcusVorenus 1 day ago 0 replies      
You are being melodramatic. There is no anti-Tesla sentiment, at least here on HN. People were simply asking why didn't Tesla release the patents under an irrevocable, royalty-free defensive patent license instead of just blogging about it, which is a perfectly legitimate concern.

Also optimism has never been as high as it is now with all this talk about full automation of the economy and people living happily ever after with their guaranteed basic income.

13
smutticus 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the inherent assumptions of neo-classical economics is that we're all selfish, rational, utility maximizing, humans. That's built into our understanding of markets and how they function.

Now I understand where the author is coming from, and I agree there is a terrible lack of trust in modern America. I just don't agree that the cynical view, that all humans are untrustworthy shit-bags, is all that terrible. Cyncism causes parties to make explicit their assumptions about future behavior. We can then codify this assumed behavior in contracts.

If I was a battery manufacturer and I wanted to use Tesla's patents, I would approach Tesla and ask for a contractual agreement whereby Tesla agreed not to use those patents against me. If Tesla were unwilling to enter into this sort of contractual agreement with me, I would assume they were reserving the right to later use these patents against me.

14
crusso 1 day ago 3 replies      
The thing about capitalism, and our dismal history with capitalism-at-large, the "assume the other party is a shitbag" idea is so fundamentally ingrained in our cultural

What's that got to do with Capitalism? Correct me if I'm making a straw man, but the alternative to capitalism is to remove negotiation from individual interactions by implementing more State-heavy mechanisms like Communism. Isn't creating a crap-ton of government bureaucracy, rules and regulations to tell people exactly how to live and interact with each other institutionalizing the idea that people are shitbags and shouldn't be allowed the freedom to behave freely?

I liked your original HN post and tend to be similarly disappointed in the lack of giving some people like Musk his due for trying to do the right thing... not to mention the nit-picking posts that assume that Musk and his people are too mentally deficient to properly allow use of their patents.

15
greatzebu 1 day ago 1 reply      
> A "Pareto optimal" solution is one which, given all the possibilities of action, produces the best outcome for both parties (with some negotiable surplus).

This isn't quite right. In a Pareto optimal solution, there's no way to improve things for one party without making them worse for another party, but there's no guarantee that the outcome is good for everyone. "I get everything, you get nothing" is a Pareto-optimal way of diving things up.

16
hueving 1 day ago 4 replies      
The author makes some big statements about what Elon is doing and then wonders why everyone isn't guzzling the kool-aid like the author. It has nothing to do with the prisoners dilemma.

First, there is a large portion of the population that doesn't believe global warming is an issue.

Second, there is another large population that doesn't believe global warming can be stopped by a slow transition to electric cars.

Third, there is a large majority of the population that can't afford a 90k luxury car so they fail to see how Tesla will revolutionize the world. This is compacted by the fact that the batteries will need to be replaced in 6-10 years and it will likely cost 20k+. These cars are out of reach for the majority of Americans it's not really going to reduce CO2 output by anything significant enough in time to matter.

Fourth, Elon made a fat stack of cash selling PayPal to Ebay. With that being his primary historical success story, it doesn't make it sound like he is doing just what is optimal for humanity. SpaceX is great for space exploration, but that's not really optimal for humanity considering our current problems.

The article had a nice write up on pareto optimal solutions and the prisoner's dilemma but they are completely irrelevant to the skepticism observed here.

17
rowyourboat 1 day ago 1 reply      

  I believe the current skepticism around Silicon Valley's  "Make The World a Better Place" mentality is deeply rooted  in historical anxiety about institutional capitalism. 
OT rant here: I don't think this is related to Tesla opening up at all. "We make the World a Better Place" is self-important bullshit in 99.9% of cases. The most likely outcome is that what you are doing has no measurable impact on the "goodness" of the world. In most cases, what you are doing matters only to a tiny fraction of the world's population. "Making the World a Better Place" is simply self-important hyperbole to the extreme.

18
autokad 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Of course, this applies way beyond Tesla. I believe the current skepticism around Silicon Valley's "Make The World a Better Place" mentality is deeply rooted in historical anxiety about institutional capitalism."

silicon valley really needs to get over itself. the only thing different about silicon valley and other companies is that silicon valley is to naive to realize they are just like every other company, no matter how much they doth protest.

companies dont set out to make the world a worse place for the most part, even hated companies like BP have good intentions. but if you want to be a publically traded company, and if you want to make money, you have to make profit.

i mentioned on HN before that its funny how Amazon is loved and Walmart is loathed. all the reasons why walmart is loathed Amazon has in spades.

i also feel your view on how capitalism works in the western world. in fact, it has always been a prisoners dilemma / golden rule do onto others as you would have them do onto you economy. thats actually a reason why capitalism has worked so well for the west, and one of the reasons why it took longer in places like China.

19
hawkharris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting article, but the font is very difficult to read. I had to change it using the Web Inspector before I could finish reading.
20
absherwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reputation should solve this problem given that life is a repeated game as long as we also are able to be long-sighted. A more formal argument can be found here: http://economics.mit.edu/files/4754

That suggests the cultural problem is decline in longer-term thinking or more likely a decline in arbitrary codes of behavior without a concomitant increase in longer-term thinking that would recreate many of those same norms.

American business used to place a high value on trust:"A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom. I think that is the fundamental basis of business." -J. Pierpont Morgan

As another example, Warren Buffet seldom does diligence to determine an offer; he trusts those from who he buys to deal and report honestly.

21
osmala 1 day ago 0 replies      
Comment to claim in that large scale democracy automatically becomes more partisan.

In large scale democracy partisanship is not necessity.American system has some specific methods to cause it, compared to Finland where it isn't really a problem. And its really these TWO issues that make the american politics more partisan than rest of the world.

A) Election system is strongly geared towards creating two party. When new party has gained enough support it replaces one of the previous two parties at the control, and there is new TWO parties which compete each other. Compare that to systems in which allows smaller parties to get seats. For examble in Finland there are 3-4 big parties that total 60-70% of seats and rest goes to smaller parties.That means to pass anything you pretty much have to have two big parties agreeing on the matter and either third big agreeing or some small parties agreeing.

B) Executive branch is Winner takes all.In Finland the parliament(legislative branch) selects Executive branch and because no party has half or near half seats there is need to be enough parties agreeing on the matter. So if you are REALLY uncompromising you NEVER get to be part of executive branch EVEN if you become the biggest party of elections, since you didn't get more than half the seats anyway in multiparty system. The biggest party gets first attempt to create the cabinet, but they still need to get enough others onboard. The cabinet pretty much needs majority of legislative branch to support it. They need a program which over half the legislative branch supports and usually give seats in the cabinet to enough other parties that have over 50% of parliament. If biggest party fails to create agreement of the program the responsibility of trying to form the cabinet goes to next largest party. And if all else fails parliament may agree a minority government OR even putting some professional bureaucrats instead of politicians in top positions of executive branch. Both are extremely rare situations in here.

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wtbob 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I think he's making a grave error to attribute mistrust to capitalism; in any other system dishonesty is also possible.
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E_Carefree 1 day ago 1 reply      
If Tesla did this in the early game, would they still be in the position they are today? I think this open source movement works but only if you have the next thing in hand or after you've taken your fill and are ready to move on. In Tesla's case, I think both are true.

If a hunter goes out, learns out how to kill an animal, and then teaches everyone else in the tribe how to do the same, he is shooting himself in the foot because he is no longer useful. The tribe can get their own food and his specialization is no longer special. So he dies off. Unless, he's ready to retire the hunting business and/or holds the monopoly for creating the weapons.

In Musk's case, he seems more interested in what SpaceX is doing and just built the largest electric car battery factory.

It's amazingly philanthropic and evil genius at the same fucking time!

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dabernathy89 1 day ago 2 replies      
> under the assumption the other player is a selfish dickhead. In a capitalist environment like America's, with no social controls or other factors besides ruthless logic, this is the default behavior.

Sigh. One of the most prominent features of capitalism is that it relies on mutually beneficial exchanges.

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highCs 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the prisoners dilemna, you know the outcomes - mostly because the game has a short life span. In life, you don't know the outcomes since the game has no end. So you never know if you've ultimately chosen the right solution. It's all about your own moral at some point.
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zby 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a body of literature on the subject how self governing groups escape the tragedy of the commons. For example: http://www.amazon.com/Governing-Commons-Evolution-Institutio...

This is all empirical studies.

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noodlehead 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anti-Tesla sentiment certainly wouldn't have anything to do with Tesla's defrauding taxpayers, would it?http://doubtingisthinking.blogspot.com.es/2013/10/tesla-carb...
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jleader 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't the ultimate socially-optimal answer for the "guess 2/3rds of the average" game be to convince everyone to answer 0? Because 2/3rds of 0 is 0, so everyone wins.
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recursive 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The Prisoner's Dilemma demonstrates that a Nash equilibrium solution is not always Pareto optimal. The "confess-confess" solution is the Nash equilibrium. You will always be better off screwing the other person over, whether they are honest or dishonest. The "deny-deny" solution is Pareto optimal. If both parties can somehow trust each other, they will both be better off selecting this solution.

This part is very confusing to me. I've always understood that deny was the screw-over move in the prisoner's dilemma. But this segment suggests that confessing is a local optimum. Have I misunderstood the prisoner's dilemma all these years?

30
nickbauman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really great post. There's another angle here that has implications around the notion that the Nash Equilibrium is the norm: Path dependence. Getting out of this mess may be less possible because of that notion because how we can proceed is path dependent upon all of us thinking that, underneath it all, Musk is also a shitbag.

We've got a lot of problems facing humankind right now. The stakes get higher every day. Whatever it is we have to do to solve the toughest one we need to do _whatever it takes._

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Q6T46nT668w6i3m 21 hours ago 0 replies      
While a Homo economicus plays the Prisoners Dilemma, a Homo sapien plays Calvinball.
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matnewton85 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article expresses perfectly why:

a) I'm very cautious about working with American companiesb) Why my contractors nearly all bitch about working with American companies (I use a lot of contractors on oDesk and they tell me the same thing).

America's great but the lack of trust in business is the one thing that really grates on me.

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babenzele 1 day ago 1 reply      
Any company would be stupid to develop car manufacturing based on another company's held patents. But just ask your lawyer to talk to Tesla's lawyers to buy a very cheap, almost free license. Then we'll see if they're serious about this or not.
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snarfy 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a lack of leadership, and it's endemic to society. The Prisoner's Dilemma highlights this. Trust on both sides isn't the only Pareto optimal solution. A leader dictates the correct outcome and does not require trusting a subordinate's decision. If both sides were leaders, they would reach the optimal outcome.

Elon Musk is one of the few leaders in the world.

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gojomo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Author is very unfair to the "capitalist environment like America's". Our market-driven society requires, and rewards/trains, a level of trust that's less-common elsewhere. Just two data points:

(1) Americans are "The Weirdest People in the World", per one review of psychological studies, in economic games. They're more willing to punish 'unfair' offers in the 'Ultimatum Game', and offer higher shares against naked self-interest in the similar 'Dictator Game'. See for more details:

http://www.psmag.com/magazines/magazine-feature-story-magazi...

(2) We've had a number of explicitly "anti-capitalist" nation-states in the last 150 years. They haven't been paragons of collective action for the greater good, or protection of the common environment. In particular, the ex-Communist societies and emigrants-from-same sometimes take a while to adjust to new economies where every stranger, government and non-government alike, isn't constantly trying to screw them under false pretense of shared-sacrifice.

The actual games in "capitalist America" are only very occasionally dog-eat-dog zero-sum affairs. More often, they're iterated games rewarding not just consciously chosen cooperation but an optimistic, cooperate-by-default mindset. Politics, with its zero-sum elections and redistributions, is an exception. Its partisanship shouldn't be attributed to market processes, but to electoral/governmental ones.

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WhoBeI 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got to love this.

I'm reading the comments on the earlier thread and thinking 'shit, people are really negative'. I refresh the page and this thing shows up. Nice to see that at least on HN people possess Second Thoughts or would this be Thirds Thoughts?

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Liz0 23 hours ago 0 replies      
So first off I also want to say I found this a great read -- I studied poly-sci and business and work in the tech scene, and when they all collide it gets really interesting.

This raised a lot questions for me though. I was trying to draw the payoff matrix for adopting Tesla technology. How would this look? How to estimate relative gains for each player? I was hoping he'd go through it a-la Khan Academy.

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smackfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm just generally skeptical of Musk. He is great at putting out blog posts that people don't treat like the press releases they are.
39
markbnj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm willing to overlook that horrible font because I learned what a "Keynesian Beauty Contest" is. Excellent article.
40
cubancigar11 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I believe the current skepticism around Silicon Valley's "Make The World a Better Place" mentality is deeply rooted in historical anxiety about institutional capitalism."

I am sorry, but that statement shows misunderstanding the issue at such level it is hard for me take his argument as something based on facts.

No. The skepticism around Silicon Valley has always been because of its coziness with the gub'mint. From internet to Siri, DARPA funds large parts of our research. And when this research reaches the public via SV, it automatically divides people into two groups - those who can use it and those who have been replaced. The group which can trump this research, though, keeps disappearing.

It doesn't, by definition, follow the principals of capitalism. That institution in 'institutional capitalism' is the government and it cannot be whitewashed over.

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AndrewCoyle 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Individuals and corporations are not rational machines. Things are much more complex then an equation.
42
typingduck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great article. Very well articulated.

If you haven't seen it already, there's a BBC series called "The Trap" which raises interesting questions too around game theory reflecting human behaviour versus game theory driving human behaviour through modern capitalism.

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chollida1 1 day ago 1 reply      
> OP here. I'm working with a 1GB DigitalOcean box. Didn't expect hacker news haha.

Umm, you posted this article yourself to hn. You also plastered links to hn on the article.

It's very hard to believe you in this instance:)

Having said that, great article, keep them coming!

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guelo 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if we could all just trust Elon Musk and never question anything about him or his companies we could save the environment, and capitalism and our culture and all of humanity?

OK then.

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teawithcarl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks Chris - a superb article, deeply meaningful.
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rooodini 1 day ago 0 replies      
> between 1 and 100

I think this should be between 0 and 100 (for the Nash equilibrium to work, anyway.)

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stringbeans 1 day ago 1 reply      
really like this article... but your font (or font weight) hurts my eyes :(
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xtx23 21 hours ago 0 replies      
making anti-tesla looks like supporting everything that is wrong with establishment and patent system is exactly the kind of connection he wants people to make. Just another PR gimmick there.
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bindley 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if a foundation of multiculturalism is why America's business culture is so distrusting.
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lsalamon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Testa try new battery design now: CarbonBatteryThe Ryden dual carbon battery developed by Power Japan Plus is balancing the energy storage equation of performance, cost, reliability and safety. http://powerjapanplus.com/
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pmarca 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great piece.
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E_Carefree 1 day ago 0 replies      
So much win in this! Let's move together towards Musk's Pareto Optimal solution!
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nipponese 1 day ago 0 replies      
David: What is the primary goal?Joshua/WOPR: You should know, Professor. You programmed me.David: Oh, c'mon. What is the primary goal?Joshua/WOPR: To win the game.
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skepticalone 1 day ago 0 replies      
<place holder for skeptical comment>
7
Founder Depression samaltman.com
362 points by RRiccio  17 hours ago   177 comments top 49
1
EvanMiller 15 hours ago 17 replies      
Dig deeper, Sam.

Achievement-oriented people are given to depression both when they fail and when they succeed. If your identity is tied up in your work, then you feel bad about yourself when work isn't going well. That's obvious, and that's the message of this blog post. The implicit message is that you're depressed because you're not succeeding, so get your shit together and succeed and be happy like everyone else.

But then if you do succeed, you start to wonder, why did I just spend my youth in this masochistic, narcissistic path, and why the fuck am I not as happy as I was expecting, and is this really all there is in life. This is a classic "achiever in crisis." The problem is that you realize all along you've been doing things that OTHER people wanted -- that is, you've been doing things that make you valuable in society -- perfect summed up in the raison d'etre du jour, "making the world a better place." And nobody stopped you, because who can argue with making the world a better place? (Or being a doctor, or whatever.) But upon reflection, you quickly realize that this was in many ways easier than asking yourself what YOU wanted out of life. I.e. you've pushed aside your innate feelings and desires, whatever they may have been, and replaced them with the external motivation of achievement, under the rationale that you'd be able to "figure it out" after you had "made it".

Unfortunately achievers aren't really sure what they want "deep down" because achievement is inherently defined by society, and then after they've "made it" they freak out because they start to wonder if there even is a "deep down" or if they're just a highly educated donkey chasing a carrot.

If you talk to e.g. people who've gone through rigorous Ph.D. programs, you'll find a number of them were severely depressed after their defense. It was just kind of a let-down after such a long buildup, and then they started to wonder why they invested the entirety of their twenties into it and question whether that's really what they wanted their life to be. At least before the defense they could have something look forward to, and the various requirements provided a source of manic energy to propel the achiever forward.

Anyway I don't think the problem here is "not enough success," and I don't think the solution is having more coffee meetings. Founders need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves why they're doing what they're doing and whether their depression is truly a function of their free cash flow or if there's a deeper dissonance between the founder's feelings and the expectations of society, i.e. the heroic mythology of the founder that Silicon Valley has been inculcating in susceptible teenagers for the last 20 years.

Just my 2c. I am not a founder just an observer and aspiring societal psychiatrist. If you want to learn more I highly recommend "The Wisdom of the Enneagram":

http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Enneagram-Psychological-Spiritu...

It looks a lot like astrological pseudoscientific trash but read it and see if things in it resonate with you.

Ok back to work.

2
earbitscom 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I qualified to chime in? We just shut down today after 4.5 years. ;)

This is very true, and unfortunate. It makes it easy to feel like everyone is being successful except you. I realized this a couple years ago and, when talking to other founders, I just stopped sugar coating things about my situation. I would tell them about our struggles, what was going on, and its affect on me. I don't think I've ever been brought to tears as many times as this year. It is super painful, but lying about it is bad for all involved. You can't get the support you need, nor provide proper support to others.

I can definitely vouch for the dark days. I feel fortunate to be an eternal optimist who knows these things are temporary, but the startup lows are about as low as they come. On top of that, you have things like breakups, family emergencies and other tragedies that are already hard enough to deal with when you are not nursing a struggling company. When those things hit at the same time, it can feel impossible to do anything.

Seriously, as a founder, find a few people you can really confide in and do so. And, don't be afraid to say things aren't going well. You never know what people can do to help. On that note, though today isn't the best day for me to cheer up others, I'm available to chat for any founder going through dark days. joey@earbits.com

3
pbiggar 16 hours ago 2 replies      
> Youll also be surprised how much you find other founders are willing to listen.

This is super important. Non-founders often will not get it, in my experience. If you haven't started a company, you often will not have experienced the intense ups and downs, and just how fucked everything can be, even when you pour your life and soul into it, and that there really can be a light on the other side of the tunnel.

One brief tip: it is OK to give up your startup - don't feel that you can't.

If you're in a dark place, do take up the kind offers that people are making in this thread. (I'm paul@circleci.com if you want to chat, and I've publicly fucked up one startup, so I understand.)

4
njloof 16 hours ago 2 replies      
My first thought on reading this: "Great, but who shouldn't I talk to?"

I've known founders whose VCs took their "down" moments as weakness. They "helped" them dilute to pave the way for future takeover. They exploited founders' weakness and talked about them behind their backs. Who can you really trust when you and your company are at their weakest?

5
coffeemug 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been to some really dark places and back. If anyone needs to talk, shoot me an e-mail -- slava@rethinkdb.com. I'll buy you coffee, listen, and try to help you find a better place.
6
robg 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The latest brain research is showing two powerful trends worth talking about in any conversation among friends and advisers:

1) The key role of sleep appears to be flushing toxins from the brain:http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2013/10/sleep-ulti...

2) Sleep disorders appear to precede mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression:http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/30/health/conditions/sleep-apnea-...http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/...

Your brain is your performance and health computer. Please remember to take care of it.

7
kyro 16 hours ago 6 replies      
Can someone provide insight on life after a failed startup, in terms of career prospects? Often depression can make you feel as if you're failing on all fronts, that nothing will get better in the foreseeable future. Most of the time that really isn't true. You're often stuck in a temporary rut that your mind drastically exaggerates. But for a founder who's going through a dark time and whose startup ultimately fails, is it easy to pick yourself up again? Can you realistically transition into a more stable job where you'll have more energy to improve your life? I've heard from quite a few that the years spent on a failed startup do not improve your career options, and for a founder that may find themselves depressed running a company, I can't imagine such poor prospects lending any hope.
8
shantanubala 17 hours ago 11 replies      
If anyone feels like they need someone to talk to, send me an email (in my profile).

If you're in San Francisco, we can also get coffee.

9
hkmurakami 15 hours ago 0 replies      
While the situation is most acute for founders, I feel that the general situation is true for most if not all professionals with strong aspirations.

You can't show weakness in public (web) for fear that a potential employer will flag you. You can't express your lament to many coworkers since it can come back to bite you.

Non-founders generally aren't subjected to the kind of lows that founders are, and have more room for camaraderie and confidants. But no matter who we are, it seems that were need to put on an air of invulnerability, and this bothers me immensely.

(And in general, I play the game as well)

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holri 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Greek philosopher Epiktet has the solution.From http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html:

The Enchiridion

By Epictetus

Written 135 A.C.E.

Translated by Elizabeth Carter

1. Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.

Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must not allow yourself to be carried, even with a slight tendency, towards the attainment of lesser things. Instead, you must entirely quit some things and for the present postpone the rest. But if you would both have these great things, along with power and riches, then you will not gain even the latter, because you aim at the former too: but you will absolutely fail of the former, by which alone happiness and freedom are achieved.

Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance, "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be." And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not; and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.

[...]

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mclenithan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I worked up the restaurant industry, opened my first restaurant in 2007. Second in 2009. In 2009 I was 24.

Leased the first location, bought the second for about $2 mil, ($100k down)... Economy took a crap, road work, city restrictions, fking Denny's decided to open right next to my first location. I closed in 2010. Sole-Proprietor. Combine taxes, bills, loans, etc.. I was looking at around 1.5 mil in debt. I had $400 about at the time. The newspaper had me front page for closing, social media blew up, everyone wants to know wtf happened.

I made ALOT of mistakes, not saying I am a complete victim but it hurts... REAL bad. So I ran and hid. Couldn't own a bank account, had to move. All those "friends" ain't friends we you are in the gutter. Worked random jobs just to eat and pay rent on a shared room in a new town. Decided to code because it looked better than my bartending/sales jobs.

Learned code and now in the industry. Its fun to hear people get VC help, a co-founder, community support, nothing really on the line but other peoples money and time. Not saying that it's everyone or even the OP, but things could be sooooo much harder when falling from grace. When you get on your knees in front of all your staff and beg the power company rep not to shut off the lights, you are pretty close to that wonderful feeling. "Run it till the wheels fall off.."

12
gregorymichael 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a developer with bipolar disorder. I gave a about it last year at Business of Software called Developers, Entrepreneurs and Depression that some founders have found useful:

http://businessofsoftware.org/2013/11/developers-entrepreneu...

13
wting 13 hours ago 2 replies      
> If you ask a founder how her startup is going, the answer is almost always some version of Great!

This is not founder-specific but a fairly typical American greeting. "How's it going?" "Pretty good, you?" "Not too bad, how 'bout the weather / sports team?"

By comparison, the next time someone initiates the standard greeting try responding with something out of the ordinary. "I'm having a difficult time with foo" or "My wife and I just did this". Breaking the pattern will result in a lot more meaningful conversations.

14
trevmckendrick 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It will go a long way to have more people like Sam say "it's okay to talk."

It's not like people have to open their souls on their blogs.

But when high profile individuals like Sam "proclaim" that it's okay to talk about this, somehow it feels a lot safer to open up to people in person.

Especially if they're in a similar situation.

15
mikeleeorg 13 hours ago 1 reply      
When I first became a manager at a large corporation, I often felt stressed out and alone. So a year into it, I created an informal "support group" of other new managers. We'd trade stories, tips, and beers.

This was nowhere near the pressure of founding a company, but I took that experience and created an informal support group of founders amongst my colleagues too. It didn't last unfortunately, but I later got into an accelerator and found the same support group.

No matter what the cause of your stress or depression, having a good support system is extremely helpful. It ranges from Mommy/Daddy groups to AA to even a single good friend.

Unfortunately for many people, it's very difficult to find and/or build a support system.

P.S. I vaguely recall seeing an organization (maybe a startup) listed on HN that basically helped people find someone to talk to. Anyone remember the name?

16
georgewfraser 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Another good resource is the classic "Feeling Good" [1], which describes basic cognitive behavioral therapy in a self-help format. It's old but good and has been validated in clinical trials.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0380810336?pc_redir=1402628516...

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mindcrime 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I can definitely relate to this. There are definitely times when it's hard to talk to anybody... and I don't know about you guys, but with some topics I actually find it harder to talk to someone I know, than, say, a random stranger at a bar. Luckily I have at least one or two friends, who, for whatever reason, I can talk to about "founder depression" issues more easily than other people. Strangely enough, it's not even that they're my closer friends, they're just people where the nature of the relationship feels "different" in some subtle way.

I also find that being more frank, than is probably expected, on forums like this is somewhat cathartic. If you were to dig through my old posts (don't waste your time, it's not actually that interesting) you'll find my admitting to suicidal ideation, and talking openly about how I think I'd off myself in the "doomsday" scenario. I hope it never comes to that, and I doubt it will, but something about this almost pseudonymous forum leaves me feeling more comfortable about saying certain things. This is true even though my "real life" identity is clearly spelled out in my profile and is trivially easy to find. shrug

Anyway, I'm no mental health expert, but if anybody just needs a friendly ear to listen to them vent, feel free to give me a shout. If you're in the RTP, NC area, I'm happy to meet for coffee/food/drinks or whatever. Email and contact info in profile.

18
tossmeaway 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Father died in final year of college. Only child moved home to mourning mother(of course!) Went on huge sarge to find a women. Did side work, but focused on 2nd startup(1st one in back of my mind to reboot.) Failed. Arrogant and never found a full time job. Was in love and my girl needed to marry to stay in country. She was fine I thought while i went after my dreams. Finally found my 3rd idea and was working on skills. Eventually wife lost faith and cheated(multiple times and not just sex on one, successful man.) Found out, blew my retirement(roth) I made working when I was younger on booze. Lost faith in myself, saw no point in my great idea, mother attacks, no real man to fend off. Sleep in a truck, brain so fried from settling divorce and lack of self confidence or a dime. Idea still viable, even after all this time, timing might be right. "If you are going through hell, keep going."
19
paul9290 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As they say start ups are a roller coaster ride.

All the lows are worth it for the highs, because the alternative is working n wasting ur life away at a desk job. Which after experiencing many highs sitting at that desk makes you hate it and for me I only keep jobs for a year because of my incessant need to start up. Needless to say I don't lead the normal societal life as I have sacrificed such for my startups/dreams.

But oh the lows(depression) and instability... Like today because of my startup addiction it's time to find a new desk job.

This stuff is crazy HARD, but I can't stop!

20
ibisum 7 hours ago 0 replies      
On the flipside of this is the fact that, as a founder, you are a clear target for subconscious repression by everyone, thanks to the tall poppy syndrome. So, many times, discussing the issues and problems with others is precisely what you shouldn't do, because you will trigger the syndrome.

Its very important, thus, to have established trust with your support network before you go into the founder seat. If you don't have a support network that consciously navigates around such things as TPS and mobbing-mentality, then you're going to be in for a hard time. The fact of the matter is that humans are subconsciously hard-wired to dissent against organizational structures requiring hard work and honest production, and a founder getting up there on the hill and attempting to work hard and produce new things needs to understand that the most difficult thing about organizing humans, is humans.

Disclaimer: founder who just went through all of the above, and still working hard to survive in spite of it all.

21
arnonejoe 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear Sam,

It's interesting to hear you speak about founder depression as you sit on top of the world.

Our team, openhospital.com, interviewed at YCombinator 6 weeks ago for the current batch and we failed (rejection email below). The $1100 interview reimbursement we received from YC only covered 1/3 of the cost of the trip and the time/energy spent applying could have been time and money spent coding and developing our product (and paying rent).

In the last 7 months I've managed to burn through my 401k from years software engineering jobs in pursuit building a cash medicine marketplace. I barely have enough money to pay my rent next month. In a desperate attempt to find capital, I also charged a trip to San Jose on my credit card 2 weeks ago to knock on doors up and down Sand Hill Road.

If you or anyone on this forum is interested in starting a cash medicine marketplace there is an opportunity to change the world and this needs to be done. Ironically my wife has horrible stomach problems and I spent two hours calling GI/colonoscopy doctors trying to find a cash price as I will be charging this on my credit cards as well.

I am desperate to start this and I don't care if I end up with 1/10000th of founder ownership at the end. We have a working provider site with several providers (18k lines of code). The other engineer on my team is smart (Stanford educated) and an awesome co-founder to work with.

Am I depressed? Yes. Am I giving up? Never.

My contact info is joe (at) openhospital.com if you Sam or anyone on this forum would like to chat.

Joe ArnoneFounderOpenHospital.com

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d0jz58wmd8ynsup/Photo%20Apr%2026%2...

22
mkempe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need help with depression and would rather try to figure it out yourself, consider Julian Simon's "Good Mood: The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression". Some of it didn't make sense to me, but I know much of it has helped me and a few depressed friends.

[1] http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Good_Mood/

23
joshdance 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Feel like I should offer this as well. If anyone feels like they need someone to talk to, send me an email (in my profile).

If you are in Utah, we can grab food.

24
lsh123 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Just remember that the failure of your startup/project does not mean that you are a failure. In the last years you most likely "merged" yourself with your startup, you need to keep reminding yourself that your are more than it. You have friends, family, other ideas. You always can try again. And yes, would be happy to have coffee/lunch/whatever to chat (I am in the Bay Area).
25
zoba 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The app Secret seems to be a big vent for this feeling. I regularly see people posting about their own companies and feeling overwhelmed. The replies are always supportive and typically several are along the lines of being in the same boat.
26
zeeshanm 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Lots of interesting comments here. I'll put some thoughts here, too... I have always thought there are two kinds of people in this world. One who do things that make other people's life better. Others who reap benefits of things done by the former group. To me the question is about whether you want to be selfless in the service of others or live a steady life. Once you have figured out, there is no shame in failing if your goals are high and intentions are right. If you base your success based on how people perceive you that is a very wrong way to think. The only reason because public opinion tends to change very so often. So, for me at least, being successful implies reaching for a bigger goal than the self. Being principled and finding happiness in doing the right thing.Just imagine if Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Dr King, etc would have only thought for themselves what kind of a messed up world we all would have been living in?With greater goals come even greater challenges in some shape or form of "failures." "If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress
27
derwiki 16 hours ago 0 replies      
When I went solo-fulltime on my startup, I started a Mailchimp newsletter and asked all my friends who I thought cared about the startup to join (I'm just shy of 100 subscribers now). It's been incredibly useful for battling loneliness; every few weeks I talk about a success, a failure, or maybe just something random. It's helped make the whole process less isolating; I always get personal replies after I send one.
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lifeisstillgood 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I listened to a surprising podcast from John Lloyd (UK comedy producer deity (Spitting Image, BlackAdder etc))

He talked about his breakdown, about how he was fired from ten or so jobs and slowly came to a realisation that I think is worth repeating - that you can accept your life is yours, if possible live "with no fear and no blame"

I certainly don't suggest his approach is perfect but I is interesting to see someone widely successful and respected talking about the same fears and depression pervasive within us.

Look for Seun Hughes / John Lloyd on iTunes

29
stefek99 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Recommended talk: http://businessofsoftware.org/2013/11/developers-entrepreneu...

Seek specialist advice.

I personally try to limit success stories and get back to work :)

30
salman89 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think it is as simple as learning that you can talk about it - you have to learn who to talk about it too. Not everyone wants to hear that things are not working quite as planned - most people would rather just hear "Great!"
31
gautambay 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've found it super helpful to surround myself by other entrepreneurs (they "get it" more easily). With the best ones, we can both speak with our guards down, and be open about our vulnerabilities.

I don't have data on this, but I actually believe you increase your odds of success by being open about your insecurities. Among other things, it helps you form connections that are more human.

If anyone in SF would like to talk through stuff, my email is in my profile. I've seen my share of lows, and been helped by other entrepreneurs. Would like to pass it forward.

32
daveslash 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In San Diego. Like Utah poster, let me know if you'd like to grab food. I haven't been a founder until recently, but I've worked as an employee at three previous startups. I'm familiar with some of the feelings and would love to share my experiences if it helps others. Let me know - my twitter handle is on my HN profile.
33
taylorhou 17 hours ago 1 reply      
for the significant others of founders - http://lifeofastartupgf.com - being in a relationship with a founder is tough and sometimes, extremely stressful.
34
mrev19 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Try dedicating your life to music its freakin brutal. Write some songs and go sing em in a public forum, thats some serious vulnerability. Not saying its tougher than being a founder, but no way the opposite is true. Anyway my point is that these days many people who are attracted to being founders tend to be shocked by the costs because they don't have the natural temperament to sharply veer from the path of established norms. Many don't believe in something greater than themselves or money which would allow them to suffer the pain as a cost of doing business. This is a given in the arts. Its like the marines, pain is part of the practice.
35
XERQ 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in Orange County running two startups with plenty of ups and downs. If you're in the area and want to grab a coffee and talk, my contact details are in my profile.
36
raminassemi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this was a really good talk (and associated thread with it) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4357037 on entrepreneurial depression and happiness.
37
Patrick_Devine 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I usually tell people it's "peaks and valleys". The peaks are really, really high, and the valleys are really, really low. But that's the whole point, isn't it? It's the ride that makes everything worth it.
38
yaelwrites 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to see this being discussed.

Relevant: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/jessica-bruder/psychologi...

39
aosmith 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm crazy but I'm a solo founder (I have a great support system of other founders) and I rarely find myself depressed. At times I'm angry at myself for decisions I've made but hindsight is 20:20.
40
5943d536-f360 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wanted to chime in here to whine about my founder problems (loneliness, destruction of personal relationships, total chaos in one's life, no time for oneself etc) and I realized that I can't even anonymously talk about this without feeling like a spoiled entitled brat. I feel that no matter how much I lose to this absurd path I've forced myself into, I still have no right to complain about it, otherwise I'm obviously not "founder material".

I think to myself "Well, I've certainly turned my life into a clusterfuck, but at least I'm not like some of these guys who went bankrupt, couldn't afford medical for their children or who died from overworking. Can't really complain, right?"

I guess I find it very hard to whine about my struggles and all the fuck-ups when it's self-imposed martyrdom. Nobody asked me to quit my cushy 6 figures 9 to 5. I was miserable at it, but doesn't mean I needed to do a startup instead.

41
peachngrapes 8 hours ago 0 replies      
At the beginning most founders getting some kind of depression but the better founders quickly adapt to the situation and answer 'some version of great' when asked how their startup is going.

The reason is quite simple -- successful founders are always positive because every event which happens has some positive impact in their perception, even if it might feel as a failure. Successful founders don't use the word failure, nothing is a failure to them.

People who are depressed -- it doesn't matter if those are founders or not -- tend to let external circumstances determine the mood or happyness level. Most people are happy when it's good weather and sad if it is raining, successful people do not let something like rain influence their mood level.

The question is rather why the topic 'depression' pops up quite often on HN.

My theory: I had very successful times as a founder and also -- let's call them -- 'slow' times as a founder, in particular in the beginning. When I had successful times I didn't check HN for months a single time, when I had 'slow' times, I checked HN every 30 minutes.

-

42
krantiveer 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Doing what you love is the key to happiness. This may not make you a billionaire but will certainly make you very happy. There is just too much pressure in wanting to be a billion dollar startup. If you take a VC's money as a means to your happiness, you will end up working for the VC's happiness and not yours.
43
yslhall 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish I could explain what I'm going through right now, as a founder, but I legally can't. The few people that know what I'm going through have said it's the hardest situation they've heard a startup founder in, ever. I hope to one day tell my story.

Let's just say, it involves dealing with somebody that developed severe mental illness, quickly.

44
dennisgorelik 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy people are less likely to start risky ventures.
45
wjessup 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is also a good way to filter out who is actually your friend or who is hanging with you because "you're killing it."
46
wellboy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
You might also checkout http://www.startupsanonymo.us/. Two great guys, also founders who have been there and who just listen, for free and offer some feedback.

Great project, way too little exposure for them though.

47
jonathanehrlich 12 hours ago 0 replies      
amen. Glad you put this out there.
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sinak 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Great post. I wonder whether organizations like YC might consider offering compensation for seeing a therapist during and after their batch, and even perhaps going as far as recommending a particular local therapist.

I've experienced depression while running a startup, and seeing a therapist was immensely helpful. A therapist who regularly sees founders as clients would have a stronger-than-usual feedback loop on what sorts of advice and recommendations can help.

Edit: While I think the advice of talking to other founders about depression is really excellent for those who have that option, I think back to when I've experienced depression and wonder whether it would have helped. Specifically I'm not sure I was even in a state to be able to act upon that advice. Generally my sense of self-worth was so deflated that it was very difficult to discuss it with anyone, and particularly anyone who I wasn't close friends with. Beyond my co-founders, few of my close friends were entrepreneurs.

49
logicallee 16 hours ago 4 replies      
You can't afford to follow this advice. Saying you're crushing it is part of your 24/7 job description.

There is a story of the founder who had just put a round together with a VC. Then, privately, the founder confided to a mutual friend, over dinner, about some of the difficulties. Result? The friend told the VC, the VC pulled out, and cited this conversation, saying that it was because his mutual friend said the company was having difficulties.

You can't afford to talk.

8
I hate stacked area charts (2011) leancrew.com
338 points by dmitrig01  3 days ago   64 comments top 23
1
nostromo 3 days ago 8 replies      
I agree with the problem but disagree with the solution. I'd much prefer removing the stack completely and using overlapping plots, like this:

http://i.imgur.com/zO7CuQG.png

In a chart like this no data is lost in presentation. You can easily answer questions like "when did Android overtake iOS in marketshare?" and "is Windows Phone marketshare growing or shrinking?"

2
LeoPanthera 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was going to leave this as a comment on his blog but apparently comments are closed now.

Stacked bar charts are better, but only a little better.

Line charts overlaid on top of each other are most clear, to me.

Like this: http://i.imgur.com/kyvpiax.png

3
cscheid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a recent paper about how to compensate for this very illusion, by Heike Hoffman and Marie Vendettuoli: http://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~pang/visweek/2013/infovis/papers/...
4
arnarbi 3 days ago 1 reply      
The stacked bar chart is no better. Yes, it doesn't have the same distortion of making green look smaller towards the right, but it is very hard to see the slow growth.

Just use a normal line chart.

5
badusername 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I agree to some of the points made in the post, I don't think the author provided a better alternative. Stacked bars are not any better for looking at how the percentage change on the green one.

http://i.imgur.com/jfuJGu5.gif

Here is my solution:

* It retains the line aspect of it, which is essential as we are talking about a trend here.

* It easily allows you to see it both in stacked and overlapped lines. Each one of them is good at communicating clearly a certain point about the data.

* It also mitigates the problem in nostromo's comment, where a whole bunch of lines could overlap without a clear view on a single point of interest.

6
russelluresti 3 days ago 1 reply      
Rabble rabble rabble.

The solution described is incorrect. Area charts and column charts are used to display different types of information. Area charts (and line charts, similarly) are used to display continuous data - data that must pass through point B to get from point A to point C. Column charts are used for non-continuous data.

Some examples:

You should use an area chart (or just a line chart) when tracking your weight. If you weigh yourself on Tuesday and you weigh 150 lbs, and then weigh yourself on Thursday and you weigh 155 lbs, because of how weight works, you can assume that between Tuesday and Thursday your weight traveled through all the points required to get from 150 lbs to 155 lbs.

If you're tracking the amount of hours you sleep every night, you should use a column chart. Just because you get 6 hours of sleep on Tuesday and 8 hours of sleep on Thursday doesn't mean you got 7 hours of sleep on Wednesday. The data isn't continuous.

For market share, that data is continuous - you can't get from 10% market share to 15% market share without passing through all the percentages in-between. Therefore, a column chart is very much the wrong way to display that information.

7
stevewilhelm 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the things I dislike about stacked area charts (or stacked bar charts) is that are in many cases are used to show percentage breakdown over time.

The problem with representing percentage breakdown over time this way is that it visually eliminates the size of the sample, be it size of market, number of users, page visits, etc. It is visually implying that the same size has stayed the same over time.

Take these two charts representing the breakdown of smartphone shipments by manufacturer: http://s831.us/1kmFK28 and http://s831.us/1kmFrEz

The first displays the percentage of market by manufacturer over time. In this chart, Apple's performance looks mediocre.

Then look at the second graph that displays the number of units shipped by manufacturer. Here the amazing growth of the smartphone market is visually captured along with the breakdown of which manufacturers are driving or benefiting from the growth.

8
dllthomas 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are things stacked charts can show you much more clearly than other things. For a particular process I'm working on, I have a timing breakdown rendered as an area chart (not normalized, ordered by total time) that showed something I'm not sure would have been visible any other way.

My ascii art skills are failing me, and this is going to be hard without visual aids, but I'll try...

Overall, there was a significant and stable jump from best case to worse case (not worst case). What was interesting was that a chunk of time the size of that delta always fell in a single region but it was not always the same region but always roughly the same amount of time from the start. Since the process is small scale and kicked off at varying times, this means it was something asynchronous but triggered by our activity (or activity we were responding to).

9
jakejake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always felt like I had some deficiency when it came to viewing stacked area charts. I rarely liked them but couldn't put my finger on why (not that I really gave it much thought). This article's explanation of our eye's tendency to see thickness rather than the vertical distance is spot on. I find the stacked columns way easier to read, although if you had a lot of data points I agree with several of the other posters that a boring old line chart is going to be the easiest to read.
10
owenversteeg 3 days ago 0 replies      
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dsugarman 3 days ago 0 replies      
we use them on internal dashboards and they can be extremely useful. One use case is keeping track of bad orders, we work on the dropship model so the top line is our total bad order percentage and each area is the bad orders from a certain supplier. When the goal is to lower the top line we focus all our efforts on the largest areas.
12
capkutay 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gauges and 3d area charts are other examples of misleading visualizations that take up a lot of space without deriving much meaning. Why do we keep seeing them? They're flashy and make my dashboards look like the one my competitor is using! That's just the world we live in.

After studying data visualization, it's surprising how most popular dashboard widgets/visualizations are relatively bad at encoding data versus simple things like sorted tables.

13
thanatropism 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hahaha. The solution described works if you have t=6. Try having t>>25.

The perfect use case for stacked area charts (but not pinned to 100%) is when there are many categories, but one is very predominant, and you're interested in (a) the sum of all quantities and (b) the participation of the principal category.

Example: a country is mainly reliant on hydropower for domestic electricity; there are years where it doesn't need any other source (it's still cheapest....). So we want to track (1) the evolution of domestic consumption and (2) the share of hydropower (3) which years it hasn't been enough.

14
jessaustin 2 days ago 0 replies      
You don't have to stack it like that:

http://bl.ocks.org/mbostock/582915

15
kahaw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this more illustrates a problem with trying to generalize solutions. The final stacked area chart with green at the bottom works perfectly for this data set. Even the author's proposed solution fails to emphasize the growth of the green section.
16
noswi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not meta enough. When was the last time you designed the chart for a book or other static media?

I'd like to think that in this age there's no need to force a static, unexplorable view of the data to the user at all.

17
merusame 3 days ago 1 reply      
Talking about fancy visualisations, you should definitely have a look at horizon graphs

http://square.github.io/cubism/

18
rwain 3 days ago 0 replies      
Making a stacked graph interactive can help like this one I prepared earlier:

http://theopenindex.org/

19
yellowapple 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate stacked charts, period. I would much prefer a line graph - and with absolute values rather than percentages.
20
darksim905 3 days ago 0 replies      
Color me dumb, but that chart/graph made perfect sense to me as it was.
21
misaelm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stacked charts are no better when trying to compare categories other than the one closest to the x-axis against each other.
22
001sky 3 days ago 0 replies      
To be fair, its 'mis-use' that is the problem here. Like any tool, the right one should be selected for the job. There are people out there that generalize this same logic to "charts" without qualification (they prefer tables).
23
quotient 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yeah, that's a fair point. These charts are misleading. Then again, if you generally trust charts for an easy interpretation of data, you're probably going to be misled anyway. Perhaps I express an unpopular opinion, but the only way to really get a handle on the data is to read the data. (I find it to be a rare occurrence that a chart exposes --- rather than oversimplifies --- relationships in the data. They're mostly okay for a cursory glance, but not for more. In this example, they're not even okay for a cursory glance.)
9
Why we're suing the CIA muckrock.com
322 points by morisy  2 days ago   70 comments top 9
1
te_platt 2 days ago 11 replies      
As bad as governmental abuses can be in the U.S. I find it somewhat comforting that suing the CIA doesn't mean some people are going to start disappearing. I'm guessing not too many Russians sued the KGB.
2
toomuchtodo 2 days ago 0 replies      
MuckRock and the Beacon Reader are also working on uncovering law enforcement across the country using "Stingray" rouge cell tower equipment: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/the-spy-in-your-pocket

Please chip in $5 if you can towards their goal.

3
jacquesm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Recursive FOIA requests. Very neat :) Breadth first or depth first is going to be their main problem. The plus for the government is that if they lose a document they now have an off-site backup. Presumably the CIA is not playing ball because they have their own backups.

What a fantastic project.

4
SandersAK 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love these guys!They're doing a Beacon crowdfunding project as we speak - help em' out!http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/the-spy-in-your-pocket
5
Mizza 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah MuckRock! Get 'em!

I use MuckRock to FOIA the CIA quite often, and they are probably the third-worst agency to deal with (behind the NSA and the US State Department). They don't even accept FOIA requests via email!

Hopefully, this will lubricate them a little bit.

6
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really appreciate these guys following through with this. I've benefited from the information they have set free. That we have to pull it kicking and screaming out of the bureaucracies is sad.
7
coldcode 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice try, but likely nothing will happen. Even if a judge in a moment of insanity ruled in your favor, the CIA will simply say it's a national secret or whatever and nothing will change.
8
stevejyim 2 days ago 0 replies      
yes, you should sue the cia.
9
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Who's right doesn't matter, who has the power does" --Thucydides
10
Response by Ray Kurzweil to chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test kurzweilai.net
305 points by ca98am79  3 days ago   155 comments top 37
1
ambler0 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think most people misunderstand the intent of Turing's paper in which he describes his eponymous test. I agree with Chomsky's reading, which he laid out in "Language & Thought":

"There is a great deal of often heated debate about these matters in the literature of the cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, and philosophy of mind, but it is hard to see that any serious question has been posed. The question of whether a computer is playing chess, or doing long division, or translating Chinese, is like the question of whether robots can murder or airplanes can fly -- or people; after all, the "flight" of the Olympic long jump champion is only an order of magnitude short of that of the chicken champion (so I'm told). These are questions of decision, not fact; decision as to whether to adopt a certain metaphoric extension of common usage.

There is no answer to the question whether airplanes really fly (though perhaps not space shuttles). Fooling people into mistaking a submarine for a whale doesn't show that submarines really swim; nor does it fail to establish the fact. There is no fact, no meaningful question to be answered, as all agree, in this case. The same is true of computer programs, as Turing took pains to make clear in the 1950 paper that is regularly invoked in these discussions. Here he pointed out that the question whether machines think "may be too meaningless to deserve discussion," being a question of decision, not fact, though he speculated that in 50 years, usage may have "altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted" -- as in the case of airplanes flying (in English, at least), but not submarines swimming. Such alteration of usage amounts to the replacement of one lexical item by another one with somewhat different properties. There is no empirical question as to whether this is the right or wrong decision.

In this regard, there has been serious regression since the first cognitive revolution, in my opinion. Superficially, reliance on the Turing test is reminiscent of the Cartesian approach to the existence of other minds. But the comparison is misleading. The Cartesian experiments were something like a litmus test for acidity: they sought to determine whether an object has a certain property, in this case, possession of mind, one aspect of the world. But that is not true of the artificial intelligence debate.

Another superficial similarity is the interest in simulation of behavior, again only apparent, I think. As I mentioned earlier, the first cognitive revolution was stimulated by the achievements of automata, much as today, and complex devices were constructed to simulate real objects and their functioning: the digestion of a duck, a flying bird, and so on. But the purpose was not to determine whether machines can digest or fly. Jacques de Vaucanson, the great artificer of the period, was concerned to understand the animate systems he was modeling; he constructed mechanical devices in order to formulate and validate theories of his animate models, not to satisfy some performance criterion."

http://www.chomsky.info/books/prospects01.htm

2
jgrahamc 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a nicely written and clear explanation of why the announcement by the University of Reading is bullshit. In fact, it is was more than they deserve. Way more.

I would suggest shunning them is the right response.

The University of Reading is, of course, the august institution behind:

http://blog.jgc.org/2010/05/inside-rfid-virus.html

http://blog.jgc.org/2006/12/midas-number-or-why-divide-by-ze...

3
drzaiusapelord 2 days ago 6 replies      
The answers Ray got back are borderline embarrassing. They're designed to deflect the question by ignoring the request and asking another unrelated question or deflecting by humor. These are common ploys in faking AI chat. Hell, what 13 yo calls himself a "little boy?" I was in 8th grade at 13 and looking forward to high school. I can't imagine calling myself a "little boy" at an age when some of my peers were sexually active.

I think this proves that the Turing Test is more or less crap. Humans, who are easily fooled/socially engineered, can't just decide that "this is AI," like its some kind of American Idol-like contest. There should be some rational metric at work here. A bunch of different tests and human judgement as only one part of the testing suite.

Look at what IBM has been doing with Watson. It may never pass this test, but its probably the closest we have to AI (generalist self-learning system). Maybe this event will be the excuse we finally need to lay Turing's test to bed, permanently.

4
peeters 2 days ago 1 reply      
I already created a bot that would pass the Turing Test, according to these specifications anyway:

<Josiah, an 8 month old from Nashua, has entered the room>

S: Hi Josiah, I'm Steven. What do you like to do?

J: <no response>

S: Josiah, are you there?

J: <no response for 4 minutes>

J: uhqtuhq a

S: Excuse me?

J: <no response>

<Steven has left the room>

5
jere 3 days ago 1 reply      
First thing I've read by Kurzweil that didn't make me rage. I fully expected him to chalk this up as more evidence that the singularity is well on schedule or he's going to win Long Bet #1. Glad to hear him being critical:

>I chatted with the chatbot Eugene Goostman, and was not impressed. Eugene does not keep track of the conversation, repeats himself word for word, and often responds with typical chatbot non sequiturs.

6
zeidrich 2 days ago 0 replies      
I could design chat bot that passes itself off as a human using speech to text.

  Interrogator: "Hello, how old are you?"  Bot: "I'm 2 and a half."  I: What is your name?  B: Keegan  I: I live in the Capital of the United States.  B: Why?  I: Because there was a job open and I needed one.  B: Why?  I: Because I need money in order to live.  B: Why?  I: You know, to buy groceries and stuff.  B: Why?   I: What do you mean?  B: I like butterflies!  I: Oh, really?   B: Yeah, do you know butterflies come from cappilars?  I: Yeah, I knew that.  B: Do you like butterflies?  I: I guess so.  B: Why?  I: They look nice I guess.    B: Why?  I: I don't think you're a person, this is shit.  B: SHIT!  I: What?  B: SHIT!  I: Stop saying that.  B: SHIT SHIT SHIT hehehe!  I: Oh God damn it what did I do?  B: SHIT SHIT GOD DAMN SHIT HEHEHE!  I: I gotta go.  B: OK, bye!  B: SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!
I take issue with the example given in the article because nobody's going to reply with 2 sentences for every simple question. Likewise, it's bad with memory and reasoning. It should have had some trouble when he said he lived in the capital of the US and the capital of the country that built the great wall, but then again it was obvious that it didn't remember where he lived at all.

At least in my example a 2 year old doesn't care what you're saying. It's able to learn better than the other example, but still not a lot is expected.

I bet there's some cognitive age level that we're able to emulate well enough to pass off as human, at least in terms of verbal communication. I think it would be useful if we were better able to measure that, and raise that level slowly. Maybe we actually can impersonate a 2 year old well, then what about a 3 year old? 4 year old? Where do we get hung up?

If we can't get a 2 year old's cognitive processes down without a doubt, we should build on that first instead of trying to do something more complex without an understanding of how to make the foundations of that intelligence work.

7
computator 2 days ago 3 replies      
Kurzweil's and Mitch Kapor's rules on how to judge a Turing Test are well thought out ( * 1), but I'm finding that it's actually biased against the computer (and therefore unfair to Kurzweil). There's a significant chance that a computer with a breathtaking performance will lose by probability alone.

Look at this rule: The Computer will be deemed to have passed the Turing Test Human Determination Test if the Computer has fooled two or more of the three Human Judges into thinking that it is a human.

Suppose the Computer is absolutely perfect its responses (i.e., it should pass the Turing Test). The judges know that they're speaking to 3 humans and 1 computer, so if the judges are chatting with 4 equally-good subjects, they'll decide that one of the four is a computer on a whim. There's a chance that Kurzweil will lose just by arbitrariness.

It's like being asked to sample 4 glasses of wine to pick the worst. Unbeknownst to you, all 4 glasses have the same wine. Even though they're equally good, you'll reject one glass by some arbitrary measure. Maybe you felt an itch on your neck while drinking from the second glass, so that one is the bad wine.

( * 1) http://www.kurzweilai.net/a-wager-on-the-turing-test-the-rul...

8
Zikes 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've had more believable conversations with CleverBot. It's hard to believe this hoax has gone as far as it has.
9
fidotron 2 days ago 1 reply      
Warwick is just an attention seeking fruitcake, and an utter embarrassment to the entire British computing ecosystem. This isn't some new revelation either. Quite why he's tolerated at all is beyond me.

Kurzweil is being too kind.

10
netcan 2 days ago 1 reply      
'Apparently, we have now entered the era of premature announcements of a computer having passed Turings eponymous test'

What this Eugene stuff has made me realize is that we need milestones around the Turing test in the pop-science lexicon, rather than just a pass fail. Kurzweil's right, this bot isn't a pass in anything like the spirit of the test. But, getting attention is a good thing. It encourages potential students and engages the public.

Maybe there could be a few variants of the test based on bot age, bot native language, judge age, judge proficiency, etc. These could be scored these by the percentage of judges fooled.

That way a new bot could break a previous record on one or more variant of the test. PR fodder. Legitimate accolades. The headlines could mean something. Fewer cranky nerds.

Kurzweil could do promote this.

11
Tloewald 2 days ago 1 reply      
Kurzweil is right to be unimpressed. This chatbot is actually less impressive than Racter which dates back to the early 80s (and used similar and cleverer distraction tactics such as going off on tangents and basically being completely nuts).
12
noonespecial 2 days ago 1 reply      
Turing test and all it's connotative baggage aside, the first chatbot that will impress me is the one where I can't for the life of me figure out how it's creating the responses it is.

"Eugene", I can imagine creating when I was 12.

13
x1798DE 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article's title is "Response by Ray Kurzweil to the announcement of chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test". Pretty critical distinction between that and reacting to it actually passing a Turing test. If the HN title is going to be changed for brevity, then it should probably be changed to something like 'Response by Ray Kurzweil to chatpot Eugene Goostman "passing the Turing test"', or something else that conveys the actual sentiment of the post (which is that this chatbot isn't anything special and isn't close to being able to pass any real Turing test).
14
ogig 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised by the impact of Eugene. After trying the web interface I felt like myself could have written a similar chatter bot that of course would have been ignored by everyone, with good reason.
15
notahacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
> In 2002 I negotiated the rules for a Turing test wager with Mitch Kapor on the Long Now website. The question underlying our twenty-thousand-dollar bet... was, Will the Turing test be passed by a machine by 2029? I said yes, and Kapor said no. It took us months of dialogue to arrive at the intricate rules to implement our wager.

If this was a sci-fi short, the twist would be "Ray Kurweil" admitting at the end of these negotiations that he was a bot that had borrowed the futurist's email address.

16
jaryd 2 days ago 0 replies      
In regards to his prediction that a machine will pass the Turing test by 2029 Ray writes: "Today, my prediction appears to be median view. So, I am gratified that a growing group of people now think that I am being too conservative."

Great stuff!

17
TeMPOraL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Between this and Nobel Peace Prize I notice that one after another, the things that used to have some meaning are being bastardized by people looking for attention. Those people are destroying important cultural symbols for five minutes of fame.
18
throwawayaway 3 days ago 0 replies      
When are they going to start considering the other side of the Turing test - if a robot passes - a human fails it.
19
rickhanlonii 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can anyone clarify this for me?

> Professor Warwick claims that the test was unrestricted. However, having the chatbot claim to be a 13-year-old child, and one for whom English is not a first language, is effectively a restriction.

Kurzweil seems to say that the bot lying is a restriction, but the Kapor-Kurzweil Turing Test Session rules explicitly allow the bot to lie about who they are[1]:

> Neither the Turing Test Human Foils nor the Computer are required to tell the truth about their histories or other matters. All of the candidates are allowed to respond with fictional histories.

I suppose he's just addressing Professor Warwick's claim. Nevertheless this point doesn't seem to make any difference to what Kurzweil would consider a passing bot and the casual reader is baited into saying "The bot failed because it lied it's history."

[1]: http://www.kurzweilai.net/a-wager-on-the-turing-test-the-rul...

20
blauwbilgorgel 2 days ago 1 reply      
The chatbot Eugene Goostman did not pass Ray Kurzweil's version of the Turing Test. It passed the Turing Test as set up by the organizers.

Turing never even mentioned the criteria that participants should be aware that they are possibly talking to a computer. This single criteria should not matter for intelligence IMO, because the whole point of the test was to abstract away the appearance. The other way around: a chatbot doesn't pass the test if a participant mistakes a human for a machine.

People fail the Turing Test all the time when unaware of chat scripts. Even some upvoted Hackernews comments may have been artificially generated without being detected as such.

The best way for me to detect if something is up, is to ask the chatbot about Alan Turing, 42 and the Turing Test. Then to curse at it. Most chatbot makers can't resist adding lines specifically for these questions, or they show feigned annoyance that is easy to pick up on. I got Goostman to admit that he was a Turing Test and then we talked about bots some more. Eugene ended with:

I call all these chatter-bots "chatter-nuts" due to their extremely high intelligence. I hope you recognize irony.

Full conversation here: http://pastebin.com/Wf4uiCRf

21
andrewla 2 days ago 0 replies      
In thinking of this as a binary question (pass/fail) it feels like we're missing the point. As Kurzweil points out when quoting himself, "By the time there is a broad consensus that the Turing test has been passed, the actual threshold will have long since been achieved."

What we need is more of a Turing "score". The design would be a website (say) where each human participant will be presented with both "defend your humanity" challenges (as a subject) or "judge other's humanity". For the former, you'll try to convince an interviewer that you are human; for the latter, you'll be presented with two subjects, and asked to identify which is human (possibly with a "both human" or "both robots" option).

Based on this, individuals will get an ELO score (like chess) on how often they "win" the contest as a subject, that is, are identified as human (or as "more likely to be human than their opponent").

Computer programs will participate as subjects; the requirement will be that the behavior is deterministic given a random seed presented (to them only) at the beginning of the conversation,is to prevent cheating and allow reproducibility.

On an orthogonal level, participants acting as judges could be scored on how often they are correct in making the identification; and there's no reason that computer programs could not compete on this side as well. And this could even feed back into the score for humanity; you get more credit for fooling a good judge than fooling a bad judge, etc.

22
DonHopkins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ben Shneiderman wrote an interesting essay entitled "Beyond Intelligent Machines: Designing Predictable and Controllable User Interfaces", that explained why he is strongly opposed to suggesting that computers are 'intelligent' or 'smart', and suggested better approaches to human computer interaction.

https://code.google.com/p/micropolis/source/browse/trunk/mic...

He wrote that back in 1992, and I think it's still very relevant now.

Limits to Imagination

I think we should have much greater ambition than to make a computer behave like an intelligent butler or other human agent. Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), hypertext/hypermedia, multi-media, information visualization, and virtual realities are powerful technologies that enable human users to accomplish tasks that no human has ever done. If we describe computers in human terms then werun the risk of limiting our ambition and creativity in the designof future computer capabilities.

23
ascotan 2 days ago 0 replies      
As I've written chat bots before this is standard stuff that all bots do:

1. regex the input and spit back canned responses:Question: I live in the |||<<capital of the United States>>|||. Do you know where that is?Eugene: Every nerd knows that the |||<<capital of The United States is Washington>>|||.

2. if you get confused spit back out something from the chat historyQuestion I live in the capital of the country that put a man on the moon.Eugene:: Well, if you want it, the |||<<capital of The United States is Washington>>||.

3. if you haven't been able to find a regex pattern match in a while try to derail the conversation.Question: How old were you when you started to wear glasses?Eugene: No I was not! How can you think so?! If Im not mistaken |||<<you still didnt tell me where you live>>||. OR its a secret?:-)

In fact this bot is pretty bad. You can tell from the output that it couldn't pattern match virtually any of the inputs and responses 3,7-10 are an attempt to change the topic of the conversation. Responses 4,5 are pattern match misses that are regurgitating from the chat history. Only 1,2,4 are response matches from the parsing engine.

24
higherpurpose 3 days ago 3 replies      
The whole thing sounded iffy to me from the first second I heard about it, despite the fact that most of the tech media was going ga-ga over it. I mean, the AI being only a teenage Hungarian boy (meaning the judges should've expected it to be "less intelligent than a normal native adult")...and only fooling 1/3 of the judges? That sounds like a whole lot of cheating to declare that it "passed" the Turing test.
25
rcucinotta 2 days ago 1 reply      
Kudos to Kurzweil for calling them out. That chatbot doesn't look especially sophisticated.
26
trhway 2 days ago 0 replies      
the Turing test is to fool into "believing it is a person". In this case the judges were fooled into "believing it is an Ukranian 13 years boy" (with development disability probably). I think "a person" in the test means at least average IQ and average education/knowledge volume.
27
byteface 2 days ago 0 replies      
We also should specify the intelligence of the human...

Maybe one-day there'll be a test where we have to convince a super intelligent sentient machine that we can be more than just human...

28
tim333 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's quite interesting to read Turing's original article (A. M. Turing (1950) Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Mind). I don't think he would have been that impressed by Prof Warwick's claims.

http://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/471/papers/turing.pdf

In fact if you read it, the whole claim that you can call more than 30% of the judges getting a test wrong one time 'passing the Turing test' is rather contrary to what Turing actually was saying.

29
metaphorm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good on Kurzweil for calling out a self-aggrandizing researcher at U. of Reading. the Goostman bot is pretty poor as far as chat bots go. utterly typical in capabilities (below average if you ask me) for this type of bot, and utterly unconvincing to non-naive judges.
30
lnanek2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, did they put any work into that thing at all or just hook up the default chat bots we've had for a decade? It would be pretty trivial to just have it keep track of what it said and never repeat exactly, never ask where someone lives after a location has been mentioned in any way, not call itself a little boy and use correct punctuation, etc..
31
mVChr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure I'd be able to detect almost any bot that tries to pass a Turing test. They always seem to try to answer every question. What if you did something like this in rapid succession...

Me: heyMe: hola!Me: que pasa?Me: 'sup?

If the bot/person on the other end tried to respond exactly 4 times that would be a very strong indication that something's amiss. And most likely they would trip up on the slang term at the end.

32
dragonbonheur 2 days ago 0 replies      
I notice that in his conversation with the chatbot, Mr Kurzweil himself fails to meet his own criteria for the Turing test. Shouldn't the machine expect the human not to behave like a machine and thus have a sensible conversation?
33
mantrax5 2 days ago 0 replies      
After all the indiscriminate B.S. published in the media for this software "passing the Turing test", kudos to Ray Kurzweil for calling it like it is, despite he of all people has very serious reasons to be in the "I want to believe" team. Respect.
34
CmonDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's basically a software automaton, not an AI in any way.
35
dubcanada 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found it very easy to tell it was a computer. Way too many emoticons for a real person.

It also seems to have problems with slang.

36
blazespin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Until computers can think with the same levels of cognitive problem solving and emotional complexity that real people have, the turing test will not be passed. 2029 is an aggressive date.
37
chaos0 2 days ago 0 replies      
until an AI can answer this:define something abstract (e.g. emotion, intelligence).and be able to answer follow on questions without sounding like wikipedia, there is no chance the turing test will ever be passed.
11
Firebug 2.0 getfirebug.com
299 points by sroussey  3 days ago   119 comments top 28
1
gkoberger 3 days ago 6 replies      
I use Chrome or Firefox built in developer tools, however I still think Firebug fits my workflow the best. Unfortunately it's too slow to use.

The thing I miss the most is the inline display of AJAX call responses, and being able to write/run multi-line snippets of JavaScript (without ctrl+enter).

Somewhat interestingly, Firefox built their entire add-on architecture because Joe Hewitt wanted dev tools (for debugging the actual browser moreso than websites), and Firebug was split off from Firefox and made into an add-on. A decade later, this has reversed and every major browser now ships with integrated dev tools.

2
JoshTriplett 3 days ago 4 replies      
I used to use Firebug extensively. These days, the built-in Firefox developer tools seem to cover everything I need.
3
ep103 3 days ago 4 replies      
Still the best developer toolset, on any browser. Unarguably once its combined with FF native tools, and the webdevtoolbar.
4
Sindrome 3 days ago 3 replies      
I really need to stop being so dependent on Firebug. I've done coding sessions or interviews where the other developer only has Google Chrome. Since I use Firebug so much, I am not as proficient with Chrome Dev tools. It makes me look like an amateur when I fumble around. Half the time saying I am used to Firebug is useless since they don't even know what it is.
5
frik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Firebug 2 finally supports prettified JSON preview of XHR that start "while(1);" and "for(;;);" that is commonly used (also by G+ and FB). Thanks! I prefer Firebug over the other bundled DevTools in FF, Chrome and IE.

@Firebug 2 devs: Please make the JSON preview table-rows-width adjustable - the JSON "key" row-width is too wide!

@Firefox DevTools devs: please finally fix support your JSON preview (see above)

6
tambourine_man 3 days ago 1 reply      
The first thing I see is the glaring lack of anti-alias on the Firebug logo.

It looks like a variant of Open Sans, if anyone would point me to it, I can fix it.

7
natmaster 3 days ago 2 replies      
But does it not slow everything down horrendously?
8
mmastrac 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty-printing: awesome! Unfortunately it's a little buggy when setting breakpoints. I tested it using the minified version of jquery on the Mozilla pages and it quickly went out of sync while stepping into a function.

I'd consider dropping Chrome for this feature, as Chrome broke pretty printing in some cases in a recent update.

9
sroussey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Video walk through of what is new: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtgLX5vZZSI
10
ArtDev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Once Firebug support Sourcemaps, I can start using it again.https://code.google.com/p/fbug/issues/detail?id=5765

I prefer Firebug over other dev tools but it is useless without this feature.

11
josteink 3 days ago 0 replies      
A word of warning to others: Not a good start. Trying replace my current installation of Firebug with this one caused my Aurora to enter a constant crash-loop.

Entering safe mode, uninstalling the existing version and attempting to close all tabs related to Firebug seemed to fix the problem.

So you may want to try removing your existing Firebug before installing.

12
conradfr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great, it seems console.log works now (it seems other extensions were making it non-effective since FF29).
13
KNoureen 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is good news, Firebug is a steady companion in my work.The UI is consistent, no elements moving around between releases. It works with Django web applications, which the built-in devtools does not. And allows me to persist the log of network connections between page reloads.
14
n0body 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one mentioned ie dev tools. I had to use them in ie 11, and I was very impressed. Firebug ftw though
15
wnevets 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used to use firebug religiously, however I've been using chrome's tools for the past two years and haven't felt a need to go back.
16
_karthikj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not sure why Firefox chose to build their own developer tool when firebug was one of the compelling reason to use firefox and started the trend of having an extensive tool for debugging/inspecting webpages.
17
schobesam 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that i would love to see the callback on event listeners. And one feature that i was missing a couple weeks ago in the firefox dev tool was the ability to preserve network logs when changing page.
18
lampe3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe someone can help.

Can I inspect Websockets with Firebug?Or maybe newer Firefox versions ?

19
dillon_easyeda 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used Firebug to debug the javascript, but nerver use it again when I use Chrome. Firefox's development tool is better than Firebug.
20
pbreit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't a promise of Firefox that the energy spent on something like Firebug could instead be utilized on the built-in dev tools?
21
ibarrajo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one using firebug for javafx webview debugging?java lacks a proper javascript debugger.
22
skybrian 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any plans for sourcemap support?
23
razorshine 3 days ago 0 replies      
this was one of the original must have extensions in the early days of FF.. haven't been back though since the browsers integrated them in by default. not sure why i would?
24
psilva261 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's indeed really fast. Also it's possible to deactivate Firefox' default "Inspect Element":

about:config -> devtools.inspector.enabled -> false

25
doque 3 days ago 0 replies      
Firebug is still the best tool set on any browser. I still recall the times where you had to debug IE using alert() statements without any sort of debugger.
26
nodweber 3 days ago 1 reply      
I switched from Firebug to Firefox new DevTools and I didn't have any problems, yet. maybe I'm not developing for front-end too much.
27
dc_ploy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Still no SASS integration?
28
esalman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Firebug had proper JS stack trace. I find Chrome/Webkit's implementation essential for debugging.
12
Share: The Icon No One Agrees On pixelapse.com
296 points by lominming  2 days ago   160 comments top 72
1
ggchappell 2 days ago 10 replies      
The problem that comes before this one is whether share is a well-understood action.

If I "share" via e-mail, then I transmit a document to others. After this, each recipient has a separate copy which, thereafter, is completely out of my control.

If I "share" via social network, then I upload a document. This makes a single copy, accessible to previously chosen people. It is (depending on the social network) somewhat under my control. Others can comment on it.

If I "share" via something like Dropbox, then I make the document accessible to others. No copy is made. If I share via URL, then I give read access. If I make a shared folder, then I give both read and write access.

Now, we techies know these are different things. Our mental model of non-technical users' thinking might suggest that, to them, these are all the same kind of action.

But are they?

Does an average non-technical user think of folder sharing, Facebook posts, and e-mail messages as the same category of action? I'm not sure he does.

2
mrtksn 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is particularly interesting article because they have the answer to the question on the bottom of the page: http://i.imgur.com/0NdMB4S.png

The share icons are Facebook, Twitter and Google+ logos. The share icon that nobody agrees to is actually just the icon that is going to reveal the interface of the actual share icons.

I think that users don't want to share, they want to post on facebook, tweet or do the thing that people on google+ do(sorry, never used it) because the context of the thing that you are going to share is often appropriate to one of these and the reflex of the user is something like "I should post this on facebook so that my friends see it" or like "I should tweet this so that my audience sees it".

You can't find the logo for the share icon because the action is fundamentally something else. I don't know, maybe the button that will open the interface for the sharing buttons should just represent the logos of the services available.

3
robert_tweed 2 days ago 5 replies      
Apple gets this spot on by having an icon represent the action actually being performed, i.e., sending some information somewhere. That could be to yourself (a bookmark) to another person, a group of people, or the public at large. It doesn't really matter.

Many of the others are trying to represent the abstract concept of "sharing", which doesn't fit the use case at all. That's why those icons don't make any sense. Others are representing specific technical concepts like graphs that again, only make sense for certain specific uses and aren't especially intuitive.

In many ways, it makes sense to outsource this kind of design to someone that doesn't speak any English and run the brief through a translator. That way you're forced to explain the concept that the icon needs to represent, instead of having the icon represent the English word that happens to be (perhaps wrongly) attached to the concept.

Distilling the concept down to an arrow pointing outwards to represent sending something is the kind of minimalist, universally intuitive design that Apple are often brilliant at. Approaching the design task like an engineering task is likely to lead to this as the optimal solution. I find it endlessly interesting that good designers tend to do this intuitively, in spite of not thinking anything like Engineers, whereas Engineers tend to do the opposite if forced to do design.

4
kbutler 2 days ago 2 replies      
Rather than "Share", read the action as "Send to".

This clarifies the author's preference for icons with the arrows, fits with the usual mix of upload/post-to-social-app/open-in-other-app actions, and removes the motivation for the somewhat out-of-place milkshake icon.

(You can keep the 'share' label for marketing purposes if you want...)

5
zippergz 2 days ago 2 replies      
It seems like "just pick something arbitrary and everyone agree on it" is a better solution than "find a small simple icon that effectively evokes 'share' to a brand new user." In other words, this is confusing not because the icons don't represent sharing well enough, but because they're different on every platform. There are lots of things on computers that aren't immediately obvious, but once you learn the convention, you don't forget it. I don't care which one we use, but we need to be consistent. (Ok, not the milkshake.)
6
morsch 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think the Android icons are fine. The old one is a bit easier to understand due to the explicit arrow direction, but the new one is implicitly directed correctly for people who are trained to read left to right. It's abstract and consequently vague, but I don't think that's a big problem: I expect there to be a share functionality, and in that context the icon is easy enough to understand.

The new Apple icon is less abstract, but it does seem to scream upload/send to server, which is also a function I might expect in similar situations as a share function; I think the old one is better because it points to the side signifying communication towards a peer.

The Windows 8 one is fine, easily understandable in context for the same reasons as the new Android one, but it lacks any semblance of directionality. It's a bit hilarious that it's almost identical to the Ubuntu icon.

The other two are terrible and I probably wouldn't expect them to signify sharing even in a context where I'd expect the functionality.

Edit: Of course I am an Android user so this may just be (confirmation?) bias at work. :)

7
ripter 2 days ago 2 replies      
Upload and Share tend to be the same thing for most users. You want this on that. I don't think it's coincidence that the share icon looks like an upload icon in iOS7.
8
epmatsw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a meaningful difference between share and upload any more? "I have something on my device, I want to put it somewhere else" is how that icon is used in iOS and OSX, and for almost all of my use cases, that seems to be correct.
9
Kequc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've never used a "share" button if I could avoid it and so haven't thought about what the icon should look like. The concept probably doesn't have a good icon because the concept itself is one born out of laziness and ineptitude on the part of users.

If I want to share something on Twitter I'll use Twitter. If I want to share something on Google+ I'll use Google+. Why should I be expected to try interacting with those services through Javascript or any other third party application that needs to authenticate?

I just have a bookmark. Google+, bam. Twitter, bam.

My phone uploads all photos to Google+ whenever it finds Wifi and if I want to share a photo it's because I'm using Google+ at that moment. I don't need to share photos from anywhere, at most I generally need to export photos.

But the share button has become to ubiquitous that now it seems to have taken the place of export in iPhoto, as an example. I need to navigate menus to find the export option.

I don't need functionality spelled out for me while I'm using a computer like it was something designed by Fisher Price. If I want to send an email I'll start composing an email. If I want to share something on Google+ I'll go use that application.

iPhoto doesn't have an upload to Google+ option, in the case that I'm trying to manage photos from my digital camera. Which brings up another problem, which is that Facebook and Apple are in each other's pockets. Once these share buttons are ubiquitous then companies when they feel like it omit options.

10
radley 2 days ago 2 replies      
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_icon

The Android share icon has been around since (at least?) 2006 and was used a lot on websites, particularly Wordpress-based sites.

It was initially open source but then sold Share This and trademarked. Most services use the icon shape without ST's green button background.

11
probablyfiction 2 days ago 7 replies      
I vote for a megaphone of some type
12
saganus 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm just thinking out loud here, but after reading the Milkshake concept, I thought that maybe the problem is in the word "share" as the driving concept and not the icon per se.

In terms of the milkshake, that's the perfect icon. You actually share something when you stop having "a whole" and now you have "a part" but then someone else has "a part" as well. That's what I've seen parent teach their kids over and over again. Sharing the ball: we both use it, share your candy we both enjoy it, even if it means I'll have less.

With electronic articles and other media that gets shared, you actually share nothing in that sense, you just let someone know about it, whilst still keeping the whole yourself.

I know that semantically you can also "share information", and you lose nothing by doing it. But my point is that maybe most people associate sharing with "losing a bit to give to someone else" instead of just "letting know".

I am thinking hard and haven't come up with a better word, I admit it, but maybe there is actually a better word for describing that "electronic share" action?

The bullhorn looks promising, but like someone said, it looks like an axe is too small. And also someone else said it would have to be different enough from a volume icon.

Maybe two hands apart, one with a piece of "the whole" and the other hand with the other piece?

In that regard I liked the Android icon a lot, even though it's a bit too abstract. But it conveys the idea that you just multiplied the information, without losing anything yourself. Maybe a diagram of an "information bus" could work? like a straight horizontal line with a perpendicular line protuding from it, indicating that you keep going but still produced a new path/road/source?

Edit: added clarification

13
Pxtl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd think an arrow to the world would be the right icon, at least if you're doing a "publicize". I think grouping email in with other forms of broadcasting is part of the problem. I'd like to see two icons - one for "broadcast" which would be arrow-to-world (for FB/Twitter/Instagram/etc), and one for "send to a person" which would be an email-like letter icon, (for direct-messaging, emails, SMS, etc). While it may be similar to us developers, to a user the idea of "share" vs "send" is semantically different. "send" operations have recipients. "share" operations do not.
14
thrush 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the milkshake is a step in the right direction. Many other popular icons (envelope for e-mail, key for authentication, gear for changing inner working aka settings) borrow from a non-digital analogy, and I think that's what the author was trying to represent with the milkshake. The milkshake unfortunately does not quite meet the analogy. When you share content, you are not sharing something that is limited physically (like a toy, food, or drink). Rather you are spreading the word about a piece of information. Two more accurate representation that I can think of would be one person whispering into another's ear (for DM), or a person on a podium like he/she is giving a speech (for broadcast).
15
eitally 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm perfectly ok with the Android icon, which looks different from just about everything else and is easy to remember once learned. The Apple icon looks too generic, and there are already way too many icons that look document-ish. The Windows icon looks too much like Ubuntu to me, and it additionally isn't intuitive that a circular icon means sharing. The Dropbox & Google Apps icons are great, but are also large and wouldn't necessarily be easy to distill down into a square, single color representation.

By far my biggest pet peeve re:action icons these days are the Android copy/paste icons. Here's a screenshot I found: http://i.stack.imgur.com/87bDm.png pardon the annotations -- I found it in a Stackexchange thread).

I challenge anyone to tell me what each one does (without testing first).

16
adrianpike 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Windows 8 one is frighteningly similar to the Ubuntu logo.
17
busterc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just yesterday, while developing a Cordova hybrid app intended to target iOS, Android & Windows Phone 8, this very notion became unsettlingly apparent for me. BTW, http://icons8.com is a great place to do icon recon.

Personally, I like the iOS 6 icon over the iOS 7 version. They're almost the same, except the new one places too much emphasis on "up." For example, when using the Meme Producer app and you want to save the picture to your photo library, the app uses the iOS 7 "action" icon but it feels awkward to then immediately go to the "download" icon to actually save. http://i.imgur.com/YtVd5WZ.jpg

18
hyperion2010 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is amazing to me is that when I ctrf-f for 'publish' on this page I get not a single hit (in tfa or these comments).

A huge part of what 'sharing' is today is actually publishing albeit to a controlled group of people. Often on social sites sharing is in fact publishing in the classic sense since many posts are public.

I wonder whether this is a branding thing. 'Sharing' seems to be a more intimate and special or exclusive one-one activity (think secrets), while 'publishing' seems to be a far more public one-many activity. Strange then that so many companies try to use 'share' to cover many to one. I guess you can 'share' a story around a campfire, but again, you probably know everyone you are sharing with.

Given the association of sharing with familiarity I think it is quite devious of companies to use such a term to describe an activity which is actually publishing.

19
jpswade 2 days ago 0 replies      
The open hand is more like serve or broadcast than share.

The outgoing or upload are nouns that don't mean share either.

The Google Android - three dots approach seems to be the simplest, most logical, where one becomes two (or more).

20
bluthru 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you're holding a mobile device, an up arrow is away from you and towards others. Sharing essentially becomes sending. I think iOS 7's representation is the most literal.
21
craigc 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article reminds me of conversations that we had at Vimeo when redesigning our video player.

Our previous share icon was two arrows facing diagonally in opposite directions. The main problem with that was that it was very close to our "embed" icon. We knew we wanted to change it, but we didn't know what icon to use.

We had a bunch of mockups that included some of the icons found in this article.

Ultimately, we ended up deciding on a paper airplane. It definitely is familiar to people in terms of sending email, but we also thought it was a playful and fun way to indicate sharing. Really it was the only icon that we all liked.

It might not be immediately clear at first, but hopefully after using it you get the hang of it.

You can check it out here:https://vimeo.com/76979871

And yes, I am the one in the opening shot of the video who throws the airplane :)

22
GraffitiTim 2 days ago 0 replies      
What do people think of an "Outgoing Speech Bubble" icon? Here's a quick mockup I just did:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r9f0w2tsrbc3c55/arrowbubble.png

and at 32px wide:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qe6t169zgobdwih/arrowbubble-small....

23
lclemente 2 days ago 1 reply      
As an Apple user, everytime I see Android's share button I think of the Steam icon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steam_logo.svg).
24
hashbanged 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like this article, and I tend to agree with its conclusions about which ones are most common on most platforms, but isn't this at best heuristics and at worst wrong assumptions?

Like, I would use these as my heuristic guidelines if I was on the job and constraints dictate that I can't spend time on researching icons. But I wouldn't write a blog post authoritatively telling people that one icon is more recognized that the other without having some kind of research to back it up.

Then again, the author does say at one point that their research is extremely informal, so maybe I'm just projecting my feelings about the cowboy nature of the UX profession right now. But I still feel like they could do more to qualify that these just appear to be their best guesses about how people interpret the share icon.

25
tjohns 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author seems to be quite fond of Apple's iOS6-era Share icon. It would be interesting to ask somebody who isn't familiar with Apple's products what that icon means. I've always found it a bit confusing.

In general, this kind of thing would actually be a interesting research project.

26
piokoch 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's very interesting indeed.

In the old days Microsoft was creating an icon and everybody used that, otherwise people would not understand what a given button is doing. Web and mobile devices with multiple os changed all that.

Another thing is how much iconized guis are. In theory it would be enough to create an icon with "Share" written on it. Nobody even tries that now, not even icon + text.

This is also a beautiful example of how much text/speech is sometimes more powerfull then picture. It seems that not always "picture is worth a thousand words".

27
Tloewald 2 days ago 0 replies      
The writer misses the fact that Apple has a more general and consistent concept of "sharing" (and has had consistently for nearly a decade -- before iOS and before the iOS sharing icon) than the others.

Share -- exemplified by iPhoto -- means share by any means (e.g. email, youtube, twitter, facebook, burning a DVD). Thus, Apple's icon makes perfect sense -- more sense than the Y -- based on this. You might be sharing with one specific person, or everyone. The point is that you're sending stuff OUT.

Most of the others treat sharing as something special that is "distribute by any method except the other things we have icons for".

28
bztzt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Incidentally, early prerelease versions of Windows 8 used the "Open Share" icon: http://www.neowin.net/images/uploaded/195351i26jesbggjt18g0i... ; wonder why they changed it.
29
nezza-_- 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to ask people if they recognise what the "Milkshake-icon" represents.. I don't think "A drink with two straws" would've been my first guess.
30
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always thought a megaphone pointed at a rendition of the world would be a great sharing icon. But its too complex to render easily.
31
ddebernardy 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is quite telling that the article itself, towards the very bottom, prompts to share with facebook, twitter and google+ buttons -- but no share icon of any sort.

For good reasons, too: when you want to share something, you invariably want to do so in a specific manner, meaning email, FB, twitter, HN, etc., rather than plain "share".

32
nob 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this one is easy. We take the RSS icon and use it for sharing instead. Such a waste to have such a good icon only be used for such a specific data stream.
33
breadbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is no doubt in my mind that the "milkshake" one is the most sticky, and once it caught on people would definitely remember it, which is really what you need to make an icon become universal. Getting it to catch on in the first place ... that's probably not going to happen.
34
Glyptodon 2 days ago 0 replies      
The milkshake idea was in my head before I even got to the section where the writer mentioned it, so it's at least got some sort of universality (for an American).

It also makes sense to me because I most frequently want to share specific things with specific people rather than everyone.

I wonder if there might be two different share icons - one to share with someone specific, and one to share with the world at large.

35
rssaddict 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author seems to contradict himself in the conclusion: while earlier he states that the Android share icon is also used by ShareThis, and that variations on it comprise the majority of search results for the term "share icon", he then concludes by saying that the Apple/iOS icon is "suitable to use in a general site/app", while the Android icon is "suitable to use in an Android app".

I think the author's own greater familiarity with one icon (by virtue of being an OSX/iOS user) has led him to make an overreaching conclusion about the wider population.

36
mncolinlee 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first time I saw the iOS "uploader" icon on my iPad, I thought for certain that it was for Up navigation in the app. There's nothing intuitive about it.
37
alexvr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, I'm glad I'm not the only one who cringes at the sight of the iOS Safari share icon. My brain starts panicking a little while trying to decipher its meaning.
38
jbranchaud 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a cultural component here as well. How do you create an icon that represents sharing across many cultures and many countries? I am thinking of things like Facebook and mobile devices.

For instance, while the milkshake icon is an interesting new approach, I wonder how much sense it makes in many cultures and countries.

39
oldspiceman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Translating 'share' into chinese yields this nice character:

It's unique and memorable after you learn it. Not like the million other arrows we have in icons.

40
phkahler 2 days ago 0 replies      
The larger question: All platforms seem to eventually converge on icons to some extent. What I see here is that the concept of sharing is new, and I don't think that's limited to computer uses. We live in a very competitive world where we consume, buy, compete. Sure we share things, but we discriminate in the physical world. I think the notion of sharing non discriminately with ALL our connections is fundamentally new and this is contributing to the lack of a standard symbol.
41
spb 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://i.imgur.com/80fMIju.png - here's a quick mockup I made in Inkscape of the best icon I know for "share". It's two people handing something off to each other.

When I was a kid, this is what I thought the old "Find" binoculars icon from Microsoft Word / Netscape was. It seems to me that an icon that brings this association inadvertently is better than a contrived abstract symbol that requires explanation.

42
cratermoon 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a reluctant social media user, I think a can of SPAM would be perfect.
43
spankalee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really prefer the "many people" icon, and disagree that it should only mean collaboration. I think it has the least abstract form and most intuitive meaning.
44
baddox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this really a problem? It doesn't even seem like there is less consensus on Share icons than for other common icons.
45
melloclello 2 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like if somebody did what Apple did for the cloud icon (i.e., came up with a canonical geometric representation[1]) to the 'Graph Diagram'[2] mentioned in the article, then you'd find that everyone would just wind up using that.

[1] http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ThereIsOnlyOneCloudIconInTheEn...

[2] https://bold.pixelapse.com/minming/share-the-icon-no-one-agr...

46
cobralibre 2 days ago 0 replies      
A milkshake icon is certainly easier to draw than a Daniel Day-Lewis icon.
47
Yetanfou 2 days ago 0 replies      
May I suggest an octopus, stretching its arms out, the tips curling around hapless victims? Something resembling the NROL-39 logo [1] would do fine.

I tend to stay away from any 'Share', 'Mail', 'Like' and related buttons. If I want to share something, I'll use my own server so that only those who I intend to share with are party to the conversation.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NRO_Launches#mediaviewe...

48
ajaymehta 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the Y-shaped old Android logo, but for some reason I feel that it looks upside-down. Could be one dot on top, with 2-3 arrows pointing downwards.

Fascinating article!

49
gdubs 2 days ago 0 replies      
The box with arrow icon originated as an "action" icon -- like, "take some action on this item".
50
wunderlust 2 days ago 0 replies      
While the milkshake icon is in part for humor, it doesn't represent the same concept that the other icons represent. The acts of 'sharing' a piece of music and 'sharing' a milkshake are different. When people share a milkshake, the implication is that they're both there drinking it. Sharing a milkshake like you'd share an article would be to give the milkshake to someone else. You wouldn't even need two straws.
51
dotnick 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Overall, the idea of this design is not immediately intuitive and the association of sharing with this symbol is purely because users have learned what it means over time.

I honestly believe that this is the case for all the icons. As an Android user and developer, I wouldn't associate the box with the up arrow with a "share" action, much less the Windows 8 circle thing.

52
kzrdude 2 days ago 0 replies      
The open hand must actually have been a representation of _Serving_ files, i.e. like a server.
53
anshublog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Me likes iOS. It seems to be the easiest for me to understand.
54
paul_milovanov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't believe nobody has thought of a syringe with a needle as a metaphor for sharing. </sarcasm>

Ok, ok, how about wrapped candy?

55
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
a small take on the subject http://imgur.com/a/rXXro#0
56
Nihei 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've always thought a megaphone would make for a good share symbol. It makes much more sense (in my head) than most of these in the link.
57
gukov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not a fan of icons with a grid or connected dots. To me that means "viral." Usually I don't care whether the video goes viral, I just want my friends to see it, a one-to-many connection. How about a megaphone?
58
zuck9 1 day ago 0 replies      
If any Apple designer reading this, please propose on replacing the share icon with a milkshake!

It's just perfect!

59
harsh1618 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Windows share button and the Ubuntu logo aren't abstract as the article claims. It's a top view of three people standing in a circle and holding hands.
60
sammyd56 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me 'sharing' is about communicating, about passing on a message. A speech bubble is the best representation in my mind... but that is already used for comments.
61
s0me0ne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the hand icon, the milkshake might work but make the milk transparent with a line for the top of it
62
andreash 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "share-icon war". The new browser-war that will haunt us for years. We'll be cross-device share icon compatibility experts.
63
bitwize 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those "graph diagram" ones look like the Spathi Eluder to me. Not quite the image that you want to invoke.
64
mlnhd 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be about how I don't agree the icon should exist at all.
65
egfx 2 days ago 0 replies      
What would be the best SHARE representation in Emoji???
66
4rt 2 days ago 1 reply      
on a tangent - when the hell did "zoom" and "search" icons become identical.

i find it confusing.

67
gsmethells 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's the word "share" that needs changing instead.
68
webkike 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the icon most appropriate might be a fax machine
69
brainburn 2 days ago 0 replies      
No reason the icon can't be animated.
70
whoa-duder 2 days ago 1 reply      
Words, why not use words?
71
higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
iOS7 one definitely conveys uploading. The Windows 8 one is just stupid.
72
gcb0 2 days ago 0 replies      
The solution clearly is to spin a SAS (share icon as a service) startup: offer a single endpoint URL that returns one image of the requested size.

It will be a random share icon.

until we can measure how many times each user clicks on individual icons, and optimize in the future to use that previously used icon for that user. After some data collection period the user will be served the icon he identifies more readily.

Some heuristics can be added initially, like showing the android icon if the user agent is android for 90% instead of random.

Will be taking round A tomorrow by noon. thank you.

13
3% use IE9 and 14% have a disability. Why do we only cater for the former? fionatg.com
290 points by fionatg  2 days ago   242 comments top 50
1
joblessjunkie 2 days ago 12 replies      
I have poor vision.

This website uses a herd-to-read font and disables pinch-to-zoom (an essential feature) on my iPad.

2
ColinDabritz 2 days ago 6 replies      
As a side note, designing well for disabilities often translates to better design as well. Those alternate text labels and better layout for screen readers can make your site easier for the googlebot to read. You can find navigation and flow issues. Buttons that are hard to click are harder for everyone to click, even if some can manage. Or those buttons are really hard for everyone on tablets to hit because they are too small.
3
Tomte 2 days ago 4 replies      
Probably because those 3% are homogeneous, while the 9% decompose into lots and lots of categories, all with specific needs, and all much smaller than 9%.
4
hluska 2 days ago 4 replies      
I don't agree that accessibility is a training issue and I certainly don't agree that it would take a month to become familiar with accessibility guidelines.

Rather, download a screen reader (for Windows I like Windows Eyes), learn to use it, shut off your monitor and spend one hour trying to use the web. That will give you all the context that you need. Once you're armed with this experience, make navigating through your site with your screen reader part of your regular QA process.

If you follow these steps you will:

- craft sites that are significantly easier for people with visual impairments to use.

- build sites that are easier for search engines to crawl.

- gain an understanding of WCAG that you can apply to everything you develop.

This method will not prevent usability nightmares like horrible font/icons, but it will get you most of the way to WCAG.

5
xbryanx 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's important to remind developers and clients in the United States that some aspects of web accessibility are required by federal law:

http://www.ada.gov/

Does the ADA apply to the web? Yes. This has been supported in court, when the National Federation of the Blind successfully sued Target over their e-commerce site:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Federation_of_the_Bli...

The ADA is a great example of important legislation that protects the rights of a minority group that is regularly ignored by the market.

6
roberthahn 1 day ago 1 reply      
With this one weird trick, you can make the web better for up to 20% of your visitors! Let me tell you for free!

    Please caption your videos, or make transcripts available.
Did you get that?

    Please caption your videos, or make transcripts available.
Yes: 20% of people over the age of 12 have some degree of hearing loss[1]. That's 6% more (two IE9 marketshares!) than the total of vision and mobility disabilities. And if you caption, it's easy for you to see if you did it right!

[1] Google "percentage of people with hearing loss" to see multiple sources converging on this number

7
methodover 1 day ago 2 replies      
I work at a small startup with a somewhat large user base (1M weekly users or so) and every time I bring up accessibility issues I get shot down. Just the other day I was told "You talk more about accessibility than anyone I've ever met."

Well, yeah, because apparently no one fucking cares. Including you. (I said this not out-loud, to be clear.)

Thing is, making accessible sites is usually not super difficult. It's mostly just about making sure your site follows semantic HTML standards and you're not doing funky javascripty bullshit that a screen reader can't figure out. (e.g., hover-over states on elements that pop up important help information, etc.)

8
jiggy2011 1 day ago 2 replies      
I imagine the main reason is that catering to disabilities is much much more expensive when you consider the variety of disabilities that there are and how much they differ in severity and how they will affect different individuals in different ways.

I also guess that people with more severe disabilities are less likely to control large corporate or personal budgets than the general population and those that do are either very good at working around their disability of simply have others to who do it for them.

It's also possible that making a site easier to use for somebody with one disability might have the effect of making it worse for a person with a different disability.

9
vegardx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Speaking as a colour-blind person (protanopia) I welcome this kind of thoughts with open arms. There's actually not much you have to do in order to make a website at least readable if you just have some basic concepts in mind when designing.

The latest fad with soft pink and grey is really bad, almost unreadable for me. Luckily, I can usually just select the text and get blue/white contrast, which makes it more readable, but lately I've seen people override this too, or simply just hijack the ability to select text. I could open it in a screenreader or something similar, but usually I just close the tap and move along. Just keep that in mind if you decide to override how the browser behaves.

A funny side note, which was very clear on this website: When you're using pie charts, also know that it's almost impossible for colour-blind people to read them. The only two I could pick out was Chrome and IE11.

10
eknkc 2 days ago 5 replies      
I hate the font choice of this article.
11
__xtrimsky 2 days ago 4 replies      
Well to be honest I can test my code in IE9 to see if it works. But I have no idea how a disabled person is experiencing my website, I do put all the "alt" attributes etc...but it's hard to imagine it.
12
jakub_g 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want your site to be accesible, there are a number of things that are a good way to get started:

1. Contrast. Don't use gray text on gray background [1]

2. Keyboard accessibility. Avoid adding onclick handlers on elements that are not an <a> / <input> / <button> [2]; use tabindex to make certain page element focusable and CSS's :active, :focus pseudoselectors (adding border, outline, changing background color etc.) to clearly indicate where's the focus for the keyboard users so they can navigate the page easily.

3. Avoid quickly-disappearing menus and everything that requires precise mouse pointing (elderly people tend to have problems with that) and can't be triggered from keyboard.

There are lots of websites failing at those basic things. When you fix that, you can start going further and making site further accessible for certain minorities.

[1] http://contrastrebellion.com/[2] http://jakub-g.github.io/accessibility/onclick/

13
evunveot 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to get started with WAI-ARIA and don't want to read hundreds of pages of documentation, these two references are very helpful:

http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/roles#role_definitions

http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-aria-in-html-20131003/#recommen...

Then you can test with the screenreader NVDA (if you have access to Windows or a Windows VM):

http://www.nvaccess.org/

I'm no expert, but the process of using ARIA in HTML feels very much like trying to employ "semantic" HTML5 tags, except that ARIA provides a much richer vocabulary. It can be good inline documentation, too: when you come back later and wonder, "What is this div for?", seeing a role="presentation" attribute is a handy thing.

It starts to feel like ARIA takes over the responsibility of semantics and HTML becomes just a scaffold, even moreso than it has been in its relationship with CSS (tags that serve no purpose except as hooks for styling). Which I appreciate, because "semantic HTML" has always felt limited, awkward and a bit pointless, apart from the small part of the effort that has known SEO implications (h1 elements and so forth).

14
jordanlev 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those that are interested in learning more about building accessible sites, I found this tutorial to be quite helpful: http://alistapart.com/article/accessibility-the-missing-ingr...

I agree with the OP that the reason most developers don't build accessible sites is because they don't use the accessibility tools and hence have no understanding of how they actually work and the experience they provide for their users. Reading the List Apart article I linked to was rather eye-opening to me (no pun intended) because I didn't realize that I could just use a Chrome plugin or my iPhone's voice-over as a screen reader to actually experience it myself. I am now wishing I could go back and change a lot of html structure on sites I've built in the past to make it easier to navigate via screenreaders!

15
thefreeman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Where are those numbers from? 3% seems really low. I would guess the IE8 (being the highest version that can run on XP) population is much higher then that, but IE9 was chosen to make the number look better.
16
bsimpson 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those who are going to I/O next week, there are over a dozen sessions on Accessibility:

https://www.google.com/events/io/schedule

17
coherentpony 1 day ago 1 reply      
Couple of things.

First, these two groups may or may not be mutually exclusive. Catering for the former may take care of some of the latter too.

Second, this question is actually very easy to answer. Catering to disabilities makes almost no money. Catering to IE9 gets the customers that forgot or don't know how to upgrade. That's a wash when it comes to advertising.

Edit: Just to be clear, I'm not playing devil's advocate. I do my best to cater to people with poor vision for anything I write. That includes anything I use colour for. I'm simply answering the question as if I were the CEO of a company, where my goal is to make as much money as possible, and not care about anything else.

18
btbuildem 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I'd like to start this post with a disclaimer: I don't know much about creating accessible websites.

As your font choice and general blog layout seem to indicate, yes.

19
dep_b 2 days ago 1 reply      
Because IE9 is the first browser by Microsoft that supports standards sort of reliable like more than 70% of the other browsers out in the wild. So we support it because doesn't take much effort to support it. The choice IE9 or better is because of the quality of that browser, not because we care a lot about the actual marketshare.

Furthermore I always try to optimize the "dry" HTML and use semantic HTML not because of the blind and disabled but because I like my documents be read by non-humans that apparently are blind and deaf and have bad JavaScript support in their browsers to boot.

Don't do it for the disabled.Do it for the blind and deaf unstoppable corporate robots.

20
bitJericho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't you use the spec to learn HTML5? Of course I use books and samples, but I also use the spec quite a bit.
21
seanbehan 2 days ago 6 replies      
Show me a virtual machine that I can test with, that puts me in the shoes of a user w/ a disability, and I'll develop with accessibility in mind.

But the inability to replicate the experience in full, I think , inhibits catering to that demographic.

22
jl6 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are there stats on whether having a disability makes you more or less likely to make a purchase in a given product category? E.g. does having a disability correlate with not having a job, which correlates with having less disposable income, which correlates with making fewer purchases?

Or does a disability correlate with going out less which might correlate with spending more time and money online?

23
smackfu 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know that I agree that looking at this from a market share perspective is useful. If only 1% of your audience uses screen readers, should you use that fact to decide it's not worth supporting them?
24
joedevon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post Fiona! I wrote a similar post ~3 years ago here: http://mysqltalk.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/challenge-accessib... which turned into GAAD, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a few months later. http://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/

I could never have imagined how huge the movement can grow, and I hope you help us celebrate it next year.

25
thathonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great all the comments are ignoring the (pretty damn interesting) point made in the article and rather just attacking the aesthetic of the blog. Way to go HN!
26
legacy2013 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been wondering about this for a while. For my thesis project in college, my class created a web app for a school for the blind and visually impaired. We were greenhorns when it came to creating a production ready system, but we were able to meet the standards for usability by implementing them while the project was going, not as an after thought.
27
yawgmoth 2 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that her site uses a hard-to-read font has nothing to do with her point. The merits of each should be considered individually.
28
tempodox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Indeed, the question in the title has long been overdue.

And, yes, bad no, really BAD readability of web sites seems to be quite standard these days (including HN). And, on top of that, the worst offenders block the zooming functionality in mobile browsers. Mankind never had a shortage of torture specialists.

29
bunchjesse 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really glad to see accessibility on hacker news this morning!

There was a talk at WWDC about improving accessibility and usability in web apps if anyone is interested in learning more: https://developer.apple.com/videos/wwdc/2014/#516

30
broseph 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see so many developers demanding an easier way to test whether a website is accessible.

> Show me a virtual machine that I can test with, that puts me in the shoes of a user w/ a disability, and I'll develop with accessibility in mind.

> Well to be honest I can test my code in IE9 to see if it works. But I have no idea how a disabled person is experiencing my website, I do put all the "alt" attributes etc...but it's hard to imagine it.

Turn off your monitor. Turn your laptop brightness all the way down. That's what it's like to use your website while blind. Basic screenreaders for the web cost zero dollars and could not be easier to install [0]. A screenreader for Mac OS [1] costs zero dollars and is already installed on your machine.

Stop pretending that these tools are mysterious. You or someone you know might have no choice but to become an expert screenreader user tomorrow. Have a little bit of compassion.

[0] http://www.chromevox.com/

[1] https://www.apple.com/voiceover/info/guide/

31
hkdobrev 2 days ago 0 replies      
OK, the topic is great. So could anyone write a decent article about it and post it to HN?
32
optymizer 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find this font ridiculously hard to read. I clicked the back button after the first paragraph.

It's also hard to take the author's opinion on web-design seriously when they make such decisions for their own site.

33
aidenn0 1 day ago 2 replies      
Because people with disabilities are used to not gettting what they want.
34
vanadium 1 day ago 0 replies      
I prefer just hitting WebAIM's periodic surveys and using those metrics instead. http://webaim.org/blog/survey-5-results/
35
JohnHaugeland 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the question is flawed.

1) We don't cater to IE9, which is at 5.11% according to stat counter. IE9 is a bad choice point for this - it's the first IE that had auto-update. Everyone left. We're catering to IE8+; 8 is currently at 6.5%.

2) You don't count the version; you count the version and all its successors. That is, we're not catering to 8, we're catering to 8+. 8+ is at almost 35% and is still the dominant aggregate browser.

3) Where does 14% come from? This says 6.8%, or roughly half what's claimed, in the same neighborhood as the browsers mentioned: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/1417-Accessibilit....

4) You can't cater to disabled users. They're not one thing. What you do for the colorblind isn't the same as what you do for the blind, which isn't the same as what you do for people who have specialty control systems, which isn't the same as what you do for micro-screens, which isn't the same as what you do for people who have motor control circumstances, et cetera.

5) The web solution for this is WAI-Aria, which began in mid-2012, and became a candidate recommendation three months ago.

6) Microsoft has been requiring WAI-Aria for store apps since late 2012.

7) Most people have never heard of WAI-Aria.

8) As far as I know, no single group of disabled users reaches 1% of the userbase.

9) Supporting old browsers is way, way easier than supporting disabled users. Old browsers mean installing a shim and fighting a couple bugs, and that level of effort leaves people writing angry blog posts for five years. Supporting disabled users means learning how (there's basically no tutorials, but ample angry blog posts with bad statistics) then finding someone who has the equipment to test it on, then learning that you have to re-order everything on the entire site because the reader software can't be told that the source order isn't the reading order, then adding several properties to every single tag on every single page, then having no way to audit.

10) Many of us /do/ cater to the disabled. Your site has no aria markup at all, is peppered with empty iframes (which will wreak havoc on older readers,) and is covered in images that have no reader equivalents. You are actually substantially less disability friendly than the average webpage.

11) Even people with full sight find a font and color scheme like that very difficult to read.

12) In short, because like you, most small web authors are more comfortable writing about the problem than being part of the solution.

36
tendom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I write sites for a government, and I most certainly write code to standards, then to aria, and finally pick apart any IE weirdness. This has been quite the fight over the years, but if we want to be considered professionals and called engineers, then we follow standards, and when an employer says "I want you to ignore standards because we don't need it" you have to say no, I'll do this right, or you can find someone else to do it. If we all did this from the start, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.
37
emehrkay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have to write specific code for Safari users?
38
fnbr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, that's a terrible font, especially for an article talking about catering to those with disabilities. I found it hard to read, and I have perfect vision.
39
peterwwillis 2 days ago 1 reply      
> So why do we think it is perfectly acceptable to spend time ensuring that our websites work in IE9, but not that you can navigate them with a keyboard?

Lack of empathy, basically. There's very little financial or technical incentive to supporting disabled users. People just don't give enough of a shit to help people who have a hard time using technology. Sadly it's going to take a strong push from an advocacy group for disabled users to be taken seriously, just like they were necessary to get ramps and rails as required for all businesses.

40
samuirai 2 days ago 0 replies      
related: Great thoughts about "WHAT ACCESSIBILITY HAS TO DO WITH SECURITY" by Anna Shubina:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6phwEoiqLTM

41
bitbandit 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am guessing that 14% = color blind + users with cataract + various other visual impairments.

You usually can't have a design that makes all of them happy at once.

For example, high contrast UI themes often leave large white areas on the screen that users with glaucoma find blinding, but other users like a lot.

42
germs12 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because our managers use IE9.
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obvious_throw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because "a disability" is extremely broad, and covers such things as back injuries, diabetic neuropathy, and mental illnesses. I would expect that percentage to come down considerably when factoring specific disabilities that actually impede browsing.
44
daktanis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unpopular Opinion Puffin: I like the font on her site...
45
robot_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
xScope provides a great tool for testing common vision impairments. What I'd love is a well written overview for keyboard accessibility within websites.
46
azinman2 1 day ago 0 replies      
That font is giving me a disability
47
SeniorDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
it concerns me that you think you can call yourself a senior web developer without even once reading the w3c specification, because that would be crazy
48
pyrrhotech 2 days ago 0 replies      
worrying about either is financially dumb until you already have millions of customers and economy of scale calls for it*

*there are exceptions for some industries

49
Nanzikambe 2 days ago 4 replies      
IE9 isn't a disability? Colour me shocked

Apologies in advance for the poor (attempt at) humour, I don't mean to trivialise a real issue, only to ridicule IE9 users.

In all seriousness it's due to the complexity of catering for certain disabilities each of which require entirely different technical solutions, and some of which depending upon OS and various devices can be seamlessly provided for.

I would say a better question here is why isn't there more standardisation on the technology and approach to better serve the needs of people with a disability.

It's not a purely technological issue either, I've never seen a tender for website or application development with any provision for it. And I've seen a fair few.

50
autokad 2 days ago 1 reply      
"3% browse with IE9 and 14% have a disability. Why do we only cater for the former? So why do we think it is perfectly acceptable to spend time ensuring that our websites work in IE9, but not that you can navigate them with a keyboard?"

if she is so concerned about making websites accessible for those with impairments, why in the heck did she choose that font?!?

2nd, you are really twisting things. first you take ALL people with disabilities (term used generously), and use that to justify websites having to comply with an issue that effects less than 1% of the population. the vast majority of disabilities falls under visual impairment, and all websites should strive to make them readable.

Then you do the complete opposite to IE. you disregard all the IE versions and focus on just one. in short, you lumped all disabilities to validate your point about one specific part of it and bifurcated the IE market to make it seem smaller to prove your point.

14
Clever piece of code exposes hidden changes to Supreme Court opinions gigaom.com
282 points by adelevie  1 day ago   92 comments top 15
1
konklone 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is such a great example of a small bit of tech that completely changes the dynamic of how we understand the Court's work.

The NYT spent a whole high-profile article highlighting the issue of a silently shifting court record. This completely removes the "silently".

2
ww520 1 day ago 4 replies      
It would be a good idea to put the legal documents in a version control system. Then all the revisions can be tracked.

It's time to adopt the ideas we've learned in CS to other professions.

3
rmchugh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice piece of work. It would be cool if you could OCR the text out of the pdfs (perhaps using ocrad.js) and push the text in as a GitHub commit. In that way, you would have a full history of all changes to a document.
4
stagas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting acronym, SCOTUS, in Greek[0] means darkness, blindness, obscurity.

[0]: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CF%83%CE%BA%CF%8C%CF%84%CE%B...

5
charonn0 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is so much potential in applying version control to legal and legislative documents. Imagine being able to git blame a bill in Congress.
6
hyperliner 1 day ago 3 replies      
This reminded me of an idea somebody else had of publishing everybody's votes in a federal or state election to the web. Everybody would get a unique, secret key right after voting with your voting choices. The machine would publish that key and the vote, but not your identity. You would then be able to, in the privacy of your own home, confirm that your vote has not been altered, while keeping your vote secret unless you choose to make your secret key public. Assuming enough people found discrepancies, a major revolt could be created in the event of the elections officials altering results in closely contested elections.

If only we could get a transcript of legislators' or government officials' conversations with influence groups...

7
andrewfong 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're interested in this, you may also want to check out https://www.courtlistener.com/, a service that regularly crawls court websites for opinions. Not sure if they show multiple versions though.
8
rdrdss23 1 day ago 6 replies      
Holy shit. How is this not highly illegal? That's like if Congress started changing laws without telling anyone...

And you can't really sue the guys...

9
WhoBeI 1 day ago 0 replies      
This smells of mitigation and not patch. Simply require the supreme court to publish all their opinions, rulings and changes so that they are available to the public.

We can review them... We have the technology.

10
Fando 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing. An effective and simple way of increasing transparency and maybe even accountability. Great work!
11
comrh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another victory for opendata! Great project.
12
JOnAgain 1 day ago 0 replies      
Back to paper.
13
thinkcomp 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my case against Ben Mezrich, Judge Collings cited WikiAnswers (wiki.answers.com) to define the term non-fiction. Except that he cited a page on WikiAnswers that was off by one character from the page he intended to cite. I didn't know this, and assumed he'd just made everything up, since nothing matched what he quoted. It took me over a year--after appealing based in part on his error--to accidentally realize that the link was bad.

He still refuses to admit that he made any sort of mistake.

I filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which you can find here:

http://www.plainsite.org/dockets/download.html?id=34312001&z...

Other judges refuse to cite wiki citations at all. When I brought the issue to the attention of the First Circuit as misconduct, they dismissed it, carefully refusing to use the word "wiki" in their public Orders because that might admit that judges cite wikis whenever they feel like it. I appealed; they refused to use "wiki" in the Order once again. Instead, they refer to an "on-line source."

http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/sites/ca1/files/01-13-90016.O.pd...http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/sites/ca1/files/01-13-90016.J.pd...

Wiki citations can be edited by anyone, including adverse parties, during or after proceedings, presenting the exact same problem as silent edits in opinions after they have already been issued. Whenever there is a better source they should never be cited. The behavior of Judge Collings, the First Circuit, and the Supreme Court does not inspire much confidence in the Courts.

14
fiatjaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Node, an application written in JavaScript"
15
grecy 1 day ago 0 replies      
That strikes me as eerily similar once again to 1984. The government retro-actively changes recorded history when it suits.

We've always been at war with Eurasia.

15
An interactive exploration of Boston's subway system mbtaviz.github.io
281 points by mbtaviz  4 days ago   63 comments top 12
1
tibbon 4 days ago 12 replies      
I wish the MBTA was more transparent with this type of data and visualization. If they themselves charted things like this for the public, and then made commitments to improve (or at least not get worse) based on metrics that the community agrees are important, then I think that would be a significant move forward. The GM of the MBTA right now just doesn't seem to really care about addressing these issues in a clear and accountable way (ie. fire the people who cause systemic issues).

There are some absurdly obvious ways to improve the T. One study was done in NYC which showed that making the busses free would actually save them money, as the gas/time spent idling (and delayed) actually cost them more than fares. I wouldn't go this far, but I'd say that if there are 50 people in line to get on a bus, that they shouldn't charge a fare to just get things on-time. As-is, I see bus drivers hold up things all the time for one person counting their nickles to get on the bus; that is simply inefficient. - http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2013/06/fares

Other places like Park St could be massively improved. Have one side of the platform (outer side), be the side that people get on the trains from, and the center area be the place that people get off the train. This would streamline foot traffic in the station. Make some stairways one-way to additionally streamline foot traffic.

For some reason, Boston never planned for bypass capability, for trains to be able to get around stations, run express or in parallel. NYC did it, and it helps a great deal with construction, disabled trains, express trains, etc... Not all the the T is 100+ years old, and for newer lines/stations such certainly could have been done.

I could probably sit here all day and think of basic improvements to help with things like this, but it takes the T forever to implement anything. How many years did it take to get the signs on the Red/Green lines operational for tracking train positions (a trivial problem in my mind, from an electrical and implementation side. These days, I'd just use iBeacons...)

And, you might have missed at the bottom of the page... here's a realtime version: https://mbta.meteor.com/

2
chrisBob 4 days ago 3 replies      
One of the most significant issues in the Boston Subway system will not show up on a chart like this one. Right now, one of the busiest stations in the T system is shutdown with a planned closure of over two years.

Do you commute from the north part of the city to the west part of the city? Plan an extra hour per day for the next 30 months or so.

3
ErikRogneby 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an incredibly beautiful visualization and analysis. The details are well thought out and easily discoverable. Example: mousing over one of the lines and seeing the train position on the left map. An inspiration. Thank you!
4
Eduardo3rd 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just moved to Boston in May and this data almost perfectly matches up with my experience riding the T to and from the office each day. I really enjoyed the way this information was presented as well - great job!
5
tsunamifury 3 days ago 1 reply      
UC Berkeley grad students did the same type of visualization 6 years ago with BART if anyone is interested.Older tech back then so be warned, its in Flash.

http://barthood.news21.com/system/

6
crashandburn4 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm in the UK and the time on the chart seems to be displayed in UTC (which isn't even the timezone I'm in right now). The time shown starts at 10:15am when it should be starting at 5:15am according to the legend:

>Service starts at 5AM on Mondaymorning. Each line represents thepath of one train. >Time continuesdownward, so steeper lines indicateslower trains.

Has anyone else noticed this issue? (Arch Linux, Chrome: 35.0.1916.114)

7
danso 4 days ago 1 reply      
I just have to ask the OP...since one of the inspirations for this interactive's elegant design is Edward Tufte, did you take inspiration from his version of Harper's annotated hospital bill? Because that was the first thing I thought of when seeing the beautifully-done annotations alongside the dense subway arrival time data.

The chart I'm talking about is in Tufte's Envisioning Information, and is one of my favorite examples in all of his books: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BpxpK-1CIAAl2yH.png:large

8
nichochar 4 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful data visualization, very well done, thanks for making it
9
spb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Source code? https://github.com/mbtaviz only seems to have minified/built dists.
10
jcromartie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody's been reading Tufte.
11
el_tonno 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or you could watch the system as a whole, on a real map:

http://tracker.geops.de/?z=14&s=1&lat=42.3529&lon=-71.0458

12
aashishkoirala 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing.
16
Bret Victor: Seeing Spaces [video] vimeo.com
277 points by zindlerb  2 days ago   80 comments top 19
1
tsunamifury 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think software engineer and the fundamentals of coding have always had a bias towards those who can conceptualize ideas in the abstract, then build with the assumptions that those concepts are happening regardless of their ability to see them.

This is fine, except that it limits those who need to tinker in order to find out how those concepts work. When the elements are visually recognizable and physically manipulatable, you can tinker without having to hold the entire chain on concepts in your mind. It reduces the load and increases the likelyhood of 'playing around'.

I hope some day more of Victor's ideas can be realized through the understanding that visualizing processes allows us to use more of our brain to design and develop or products -- not to mention stumble upon and explore unexpected outcomes.

2
jayvanguard 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great presentation as usual. One fundamental tension I see in much of the work he does is between purpose-built and general-purpose tooling and environments.

The challenge in both the maker space as well as much of the visual learning and programming material he has done previously is that each of them is incredibly time consuming to adapt to each new different project. In the real world even similar tasks within projects in the same domain often have enough subtle differences that re-use is not possible or very costly.

That isn't to say these are insurmountable but maybe much of the focus needs to be on meta-tooling that can accelerate the work of experts to build these purpose-built environments (as opposed to making generic tooling).

Inspiring stuff.

3
mrspeaker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Every time I realize I'm guessing about (rather than directly seeing) the behavior of my code I think of Bret's talks. I never actually improve my workflow, but at least now I'm angry about it!
4
primigenus 2 days ago 2 replies      
It blows my mind that Bret keeps giving talks in public and sharing his ideas for free when pretty much each of them could have been used as a startup pitch in return for likely investment. But I guess he's more interested in inspiring others than just committing to one idea for years. I'm glad we have him around.
5
greggman 2 days ago 7 replies      
I love Bret Victor's talks, blog posts, etc. They're super inspiring.

2 things came to mind though.

1. It seems, possibly, the exact wrong time to make rooms with giant displays. With things like Google Glass and Oculus Rift as first gen (2nd?) VR/AR you could project all of that info virtually and cheaply and be able to have all the visualization he describes wherever you are, not just at a makerspace that only a few people can use at a time.

2. I'm always super inspired by the Bret's visualizations but when I actually try to figure out how they'd be implemented I'm clearly not smart enough to figure out how that would happen.

In this example in particular, he shows graph toward the end where the system tries every setting and graphs the results so it's easy to pick out the best setting. How would that happen? How does the system know what "good" is? It seems to me it can't know that. You'd have to program it which in itself would be pretty hard. Worse, most system have not just one adjustment but many. Just a few and there'd be tens of thousands of variations/combinations to try to figure out "best".

I'm not saying we can't get there. Maybe the first step is building a framework that would make it easy to make systems like that with various kinds of visualizers, analysers, time-recording, searching features etc, and maybe somewhere along the way we'd figure out how to automate more of it.

I'd love to help work on such a system.

6
cing 2 days ago 2 replies      
In other words... a meatspace debugger? Cool idea, but I don't quite buy the comparison to "spaces laden with sensors and visualizations" like the NASA control center, Large Hadron Collider, etc.. All of those spaces revolve around monitoring, not the design/making process. In a similar vein, in my field of computational science, heaps of money has been invested in spaces for data exploration/visualization [1], unfortunately, they are essentially useless for the scientific process.

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

7
seanmcdirmid 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some of this is extremely similar to Jun Kato's research.

http://junkato.jp

More specifically see phybots:

http://junkato.jp/phybots/

Kato leverages the overhead camera trick in this system, though in a bit different way. See "A Toolkit for Easy Development of Mobile Robot Applications with Visual Markers and a Ceiling Camera:"

http://junkato.jp/publications/uist2009-sakamoto-andy.pdf

8
kentpalmer 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A theory that I have been developing that might be a basis for understanding the possibility of Seeing Spaces is called Schemas Theory.

See http://SchemaTheory.net for a draft presentation that is still in work. Audios are still in production for the tutorial.

Other papers on Schemas Theory are at https://independent.academia.edu/KentPalmer and http://emergentdesign.net and http://archonic.net

A good book on Schemas is Umberto Eco Kant and the Platypus.

Basically schemas theory tells us what it is possible to see and also give us the intelligible templates for our designs.

http://kdp.me

9
hartror 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of the software shown in the first minute: http://vimeo.com/66085662

Some pretty tools in there.

10
Htsthbjig 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with Bret Victor here. I already have something similar of what he is proposing. Not so great, but my prototype is real and works. You can make one of this using "inexpensive" TVs for most of the room. Cheap cameras with HDMI and framegrabbers, a PC with CUDA-OpenCL cards. Arduino sensors work anywhere with all OSes and super easy to use, albeit not very efficient.

My experience with years of embedded programming is that NO HUMAN BEING is made for working with the cold, brainless machine or metal if you don't visualize your data.

Even the person who tells you she likes doing it, she can't work on it for long periods of time without burning.

It is like climbing over 7.000meters of altitude. Humans could survive for some time with those conditions, but depleting internal resources fast.

11
vanderZwan 2 days ago 0 replies      
BTW, for good reading material on control rooms, look on Google Scholar for papers by Paul Heath and Christian Luff. They're very thorough in their analysis of how people in control rooms communicate and "spontaneously" synchronise their actions.
12
vidar 2 days ago 1 reply      
He just keeps knocking stuff out of the park.
13
cma 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think spaces like this would do well to incorporate projected augmented reality ala CastAR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpmKq_qg3Tk

You could collaborate, sharing the same view, or each individual could project different views, or mix and match.

14
pseud0r 2 days ago 0 replies      
These kind of things would be really great for science labs also.

Let say you're doing some medical research, growing some cell cultures and you add some compounds to the cell cultures to see what happens. Then something weird happened to some of the cell cultures, and you don't know exactly what caused it. Perhaps that thing was really an important scientific discovery waiting to happen, but you missed it, because you didn't have all the data.

The process is normally recorded with a lab diary, where you write down everything deemed important. The problem is, you're not going to notice everything, and there is also a lot of things that you can't see without more sensors that just your eyes.

The system Bret describes here is basically an automated lab diary. With enough sensors it could record much more data, much more accurately than a person, and it has a way to query the actual data rather than having to either manually browse through pages of text or searching through it with just a basic full-text search engine.

A problem with many scientific experiments is that you might a lot of measuring equipment and sensors for the thing you are doing an experiment on, but you don't have the same thing for the experiment itself, to easily be able to debug the process and to see where something went right or wrong. Why was one lab able to reproduce an experiment, but another couldn't? This kind of questions can be very difficult and time consuming to answer.

15
Sarien 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am totally in favor of good tools with good visual representations but those almost always have to be handcrafted for every specific problem. Which is probably why Bret has never delivered anything useful.

And if you're going to talk about ideas and inspiration: Lighttable does nothing that emacs didn't do 20 years ago except a little prettier.

16
ohwp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is how the NSA became the NSA as we know it today. When your task is to prevent terrorism you need to see. You need to see in time and detect patterns. So you need to store as much data as possible because.

So it's good to stick to some boundaries. In the example of the robot: you could measure room temperature, because maybe the sensors are acting to it. Or you could measure the amount of people in the room because sensors could act to it. Heck, maybe the sensors are acting different to different people, so track there faces and store it. Well maybe sensors are sensitive to somebodies smell so track that too.

There are limits to what is useful to track.

17
nchlswu 1 day ago 0 replies      
After a while of reading the replies, Iron Man came to mind.
18
nickbauman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bret Victor is the Leonardo DaVinci of the age. A curator, assembler and presenter of the great ideas of our time.
19
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Augmented Breality
17
Facebook open sources Haxl facebook.com
276 points by ainsej  3 days ago   75 comments top 13
1
AaronFriel 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a fascinating project. Haxl is the brainchild of former Glasgow Haskell Compiler lead* Simon Marlow.

The tl;dr of Haxl: what if you could describe accessing a data store (a la SQL) and have the compiler and library work together to "figure out" the most efficient way to perform queries, including performing multiple queries in parallel? That's what Haxl does, it allows you to specify the "shape" of your query, the type checker verifies its correctness, and the library executes it in parallel for you, without the developer having to know about synchronizing access or anything.

Here's a link to their paper (PDF): http://www.haskell.org/wikiupload/c/cf/The_Haxl_Project_at_F...

* - I am not sure if he's still committing, or if he's only doing application development. His accomplishments in Haskell land though, are many.

Edited: I removed my comment about GitHub issues, seems it's a known problem. :)

2
lbrandy 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hi. I'm one of the engineers who has worked on this so if anyone has any specific questions I can help answer and/or get someone to answer.

As said by @nbm, we also have a blog post up: https://code.facebook.com/posts/302060973291128/open-sourcin....

3
nbm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The release blog post is here - https://code.facebook.com/posts/302060973291128/open-sourcin...

It contains a lot more information about the problem it was originally created to solve, and potential other use cases.

4
simonmar 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here's our paper about the ideas behind Haxl: http://community.haskell.org/~simonmar/papers/haxl-icfp14.pd...
5
JonCoens 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm an engineer on the Haxl project and am really excited to launch this today.Ask me anything!
6
fiatjaf 3 days ago 3 replies      
http://hackage.haskell.org/package/haxl

Why do Haskell libraries on Hackage doesn't come even with a single example, getting started, how to use, quick start, nothing, really, just function declarations? This scares Haskell newbies.

7
edofic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Slides from Marlow from 9 months ago about Haxl and it's workings https://github.com/meiersi/HaskellerZ/blob/master/meetups/20...
8
polskibus 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does the functionality of Haxl differ from a mature ORM system? I'm thinking about .NET Entity Framework + LINQ in particular since it not only does the mapping but also assists in query generation, scheduling.
9
radnam 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool ! Are there any alternatives out there, especially to deal with fault tolerance especially when if we want to establish connection with 100's of varied databases?
10
mkesper 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be cool if you could transform those tables into HTML tables. They would look prettier (not nice JPG noise) and would also be more accessible.
11
EGreg 3 days ago 2 replies      
How do you guys batch requests in PHP? You don't, right? So this is an intermediate layer basically, and it sends requests every few millisecods and waits to batch things in between?
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skyahead 3 days ago 0 replies      
are there similar things for iOS?
18
How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution npr.org
270 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   180 comments top 39
1
mdesq 1 day ago 8 replies      
... the best way to proceed is to interview (or date) the first 36.8 percent of the candidates. Don't hire (or marry) any of them, but as soon as you meet a candidate who's better than the best of that first group that's the one you choose! Yes, the Very Best Candidate might show up in that first 36.8 percent in which case you'll be stuck with second best, but still, if you like favorable odds, this is the best way to go.

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee this morning. Can someone explain how you would get second best in this case? Wouldn't you never meet a candidate better than the best of that first group and exhaust the rest of the candidates?

2
smoyer 1 day ago 5 replies      
I married the first girl I dated because I waited to date someone I was truly attracted to, that I felt was my mental equal and who could hold a real discussion (plus she's beautiful). We've now been married 27 years ... I hope it's not a fluke!
3
oskarth 1 day ago 1 reply      
This formula is great for "good enough" problems. The way I use it is to mark the first thing that is good enough, but then keep looking for something that is better than that, then stop. Works great for apartments, books and ice cream.

The key is to realize time and effort is finite, and that you can always keep on looking if you don't have a stopping point.

4
maurits 1 day ago 2 replies      
For those who are interested, this is a nice write-up: Knowing when to stop [1]

[1]:http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/id.5783,y.2009,no.2,...

5
kghose 1 day ago 2 replies      
The 38% sample allows you to build a model of the population distribution based on which you take your decision.

But this does not mean you have to do this EVERY time. Say you have done a round on interviews before and you are tasked with interviewing for a new position: you might hire the first person you speak with because you know the population model, and they are high up with respect to that.

In common parlance, this is called "being experienced"

6
feltmind 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Immediately reminded me of this:

A store has just opened in New York City that offered free husbands. When women go to choose a husband, they have to follow the instructions at the entrance:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are 6 floors to choose from. You may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you CANNOT go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the store to find a husband. On the 1st floor the sign on the door reads: Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs

The 2nd floor sign reads: Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

The 3rd floor sign reads: Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids and are extremely Good Looking.

Wow, she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the 4th floor and sign reads:Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

Oh, mercy me! she exclaims. I can hardly stand it! Still, she goes to the 5th floor and sign reads:Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, help with Housework and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the 6th floor and the Sign reads:Floor 6 - You are visitor 71,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that you are impossible to please.Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

7
sarreph 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is great; however, I don't quite understand how you can 'be stuck with' (i.e. choose) the second-best option if the very-best occurs in the first 37%... Surely you wouldn't be able to realise/decide that there is no one better than the best from the first group, if that is the case, until the end by which point it's too late?

Am I missing something? Surely...

8
dba7dba 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Forget about finding the right girl only. You also need to pay as much attention to her family and HER mother. Your wife will very much likely turn out the way her mother did, in terms of how well she keeps the home in order, raise kids, and AGE as time goes on.

IMHO, it's remarkable how a girl ages the way her mother aged. And some age well while other don't (both in physical/emotional).

So, don't get hung up with the girl only. Think about her family in your 'equation' too.

9
lesterbuck 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The OP makes the rookie mistake of confusing the Marriage Problem and the Secretary Problem. The Marriage Problem is the famous article by Gayle & Shapely (1964), on optimal matching (two-sided), and is the basis for The Match, used to place medical residents into hospitals. The Secretary Problem is a problem of optimal choice (one-sided).

As an aside, the best thing about the Marriage Problem is that it shows that it is much, much better to be the side making invitations instead of the side awaiting invitations. So being a guy is a pain in (generally) having to invite the woman, but that power translates into guys tending higher in their ultimate stable matching range than women. (Surprise! Hospitals make invitations to residents, not the other way around.)

10
peterkelly 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I have another alternative to "It's not you, it's me"
11
beejiu 1 day ago 5 replies      
I've always wondered if this is a sensible way to buy shares. Say I wanted to buy Google shares in the next 30 days. I could monitor the price for the first 36.8%, and then choose the best price in the remainder. Does that make sense as a strategy?
12
netcan 1 day ago 2 replies      
it does give you a 36.8 percent chance

My understanding is that this also give you 36.8% of not finding a wife at all because the best one is in the learning set. So 36.8% chance of success (picking the best one), 36.8% chance of no wife and 26.4% chance of picking the wrong one. I suppose there are different algorithms for different types of bachelors. Bachelors working under marry-or-lo-your-inheritance conditions are better off using different algorithms.

Using this method on a population of 100 prospective wives, what are the probabilities that: (1) you will pick the best wife (2) you will pick a wife in the top 3.

Thinking of this problem and eating a fun-blog level understanding of them is one of those things that give you "mental thinking models" of the Charlie Munger kind. Very useful.

EDIT: clarity

13
3pt14159 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that utility doesn't come in here anywhere. Imagine a bimodal distribution, one set of matches that you hate, and a much smaller set of matches that you love. Why try to wait for the best after the first 1/e? Why not just pair off with someone that is 99% as good as #1?
14
dnc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Meticulously detailed account of Kepler's bride computing process can be found in his letter to unknown nobleman (dated from Linz, 23 October 1613). I've read just fragments of it from "The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe", the book by Arthur Koestler.

Introductory paragraph (p. 399): "Kepler's first marriage had been engineered by his well wishers when he was penniless young teacher. Before his second marriage, friends and go-betweens again played a prominent part, but this time Kepler had to choose between no less than 11 candidates for his hand...".

What follows could hardly IMHO put in any proper mathematical formula. In the best case it has to be modeled by some stochastic process with exponentially increasing number of random variables.

Anyways, the book is more important than that and I cannot recommend it enough. There is nothing else to my knowledge that so convincingly describes how process of scientific discovery can be arbitrary, fragile and random. The mentioned 'choosing ideal bride' episode is merely anecdotal chapter in the book that better explains Kepler's role and importance in the history of science.

15
gburt 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't work in the event higher quality participants are pairing off earlier (i.e., attractive partners get committed earlier in their lives) or in the event attractiveness isn't life static. The Secretary Problem provides a lot of great insight, but you need to be very careful applying stylized stories to real problems.
16
dahart 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like this article, and I love Krulwich & Radiolab. Its a lesson in statistics and not in marriage though, just in case you weren't sure. So just for fun, my inner monologue while reading...

Now that's love. "Honey, you were better than the 37% of women I was going to try. It is statistically likely that you're probably the best, or at least second best, of all my immediately available options. Will you marry me?"

I'm somewhat amused that the conclusion is to date (sample) for a while, then start getting serious once you get an idea of what you want. Sounds a lot like what everyone does already, at least the ones whose marriages aren't arranged for them.

Kepler got what he wanted and sampled 100% of his options. He didn't get a statistically likely "Right Girl", he got "The Right Girl", and he never wondered whether or not he got the best one.

17
brador 1 day ago 0 replies      
This solution only applies if you have a finite number of secretaries that is known at the start to interview. Anything else and the equations get freaky. You can also add probability distributions for how many interviewies you expect.
18
adamzerner 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The title is link bait and inaccurate. It's not about "how to marry the right girl". It's about "how to marry the right girl, given an unrealistic set of constraints".
19
mirajshah 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Interestingly enough, this is a topic that has been studied in behavioral economics, where the described strategy is known as "satisficing" (as opposed to "maximizing"). The model assumes that when humans try to make choices, rather than trying to pick the "best" choice (the choice with the maximum benefit), they attempt to find the first choice which meets or exceeds an internally set "threshold" benefit and pick it. The relative optimality of the two strategies has not been conclusively decided on, but "satisficing" generally appears to be more in line with how humans naturally behave based on experiments. The details have been given in a paper by Caplin, Dean, Martin [1]

[1] http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/mark_dean/Pub_Paper_6.pdf

20
andrewstuart 3 hours ago 0 replies      
For most "computer guys" the real question is "how to be the guy worth marrying."
21
Justsignedup 23 hours ago 0 replies      
this also assumes every candidate is fully willing to accept the offer. what if your first best candidate accepted the offer but was in the 36%. Then the 2nd best candidate after 36% rejected the offer, leaving you with potentially a bad choice in candidates. This seems highly probable too...

If everyone did this, you have to assume the other candidate is doing the same, thus your choice after 36% may end with you being insider their 36% bracket. This works only at a selfish scale and dubious at best.

This only really works for a gameshow situation. You have 20 boxes with money inside. You don't know what is the minimum or maximum amount, you get to look at a box and determine yes/no. So you do the 36%. Then the very next box that is close enough or above the maximum of the first 36% is what you chose.

22
kpga 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Another version of this is "the last torpedo problem": A submarine with only one torpedo left is hiding in a cave. In front of it an enemy convoy is passing. The number of ships in the convoy is known in advance, but not the individual ships, and through the opening of the cave the submarine can see only one ship passing each time. So the question is how to decide in which ship to fire its last, unique torpedo?
23
squeakynick 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a blog article about this (contains a bit more math) http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/december32012/index.html

A slightly different variant, is how to make it totally random selection http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/june52013/index.html

24
adiM 23 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested in how the solution is derived, one alternative is to use dynamic programming. For example, see these lecture notes: http://www.cim.mcgill.ca/~decinfo/courses/ecse506/winter-201...
25
mherrmann 1 day ago 2 replies      
Couldn't this be applied to startup ideas? Say you have savings to last you 12 months. Try one startup idea (/MVP) every month for 12/e = 4 months. Then keep going producing 1 MVP per month until you find one that looks more promising than the best of the first four. If the article is right then with a probability of 36.8% you will have found the best idea with some time to spare in your 12 months to make some money with it. No?
26
agrealish 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Optimal stopping theory can be applied to many things where you need to make a decision without full information, like finding a job for example ... http://www.roletroll.com/blog/the-plight-of-the-long-term-un...
27
marriedlong 6 hours ago 1 reply      
A bayesian approach. If you know what you real aspirations are act according to it, if you haven't the fanciest idea then use the first 25% as a sample and from that sample estimate the mean and the variance, make a chi-square test to see if the population is normal, now you can compute and estimate for the probability of finding a candidate in the rest of the sample according to your valuation. The length of this interval is related to the risk of your election. If you are not very picky you have a long interval and a high probability to succeed, if you put high stakes then you can get the best girl for you, but you are risking to live alone or to miss good opportunities. (Sorry for the English).
28
erikb 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is that in real life the number of applicants is unknown and might change drastically depending on your luck and behaviour over the years.
29
WorldWideWayne 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems like it works on the same principle of the Monty Hall problem, where statistically you win more often by always throwing away your first choice - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem
30
hexscrews 1 day ago 0 replies      
This formula doesn't account for non-monogamous configurations. I'd be interested in seeing a mathematical representation of the maximum bonding pairs a person could reasonably handle.
31
Swizec 1 day ago 4 replies      
So how do you select 36.8% of an infinite pool? (3.5 billion is an infinite pool for all intents and purposes)
32
api 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like some of the girls were practicing some form of queueing theory.
33
ssw1n 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am sobbing mathematically out of sheer joy !
34
marincounty 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Advise from an old man--I have no reason to lie: Don't evertell "the one" you love her. If you are somewhat good looking don't marry the first girl who gives it up. She will change mentally and physically. Never tell them you have money, or have the potential to make money. Keep a large portion of your money buried--she might leave you.Twice about having spawn--you have a say these days. If she loves you after you have a nervous breakdown she's a keeper--do anything for her.(Make sure she's not using your bad luck to feel better about herself. Charles Bukowski,'She loved me when I was broke, and humble.' Ordisregard this "advise", I spent my twenties looking for the perfect person, and never found her, or was too stupid to know I found the right one? I think the latter. I used to say, "But she's too nice, and conventional?" Yea--I screwed up, but I'm still glad I didn't get married. oh yea, make sure to listen to her talk to her friends and mother; that's the real girl you are living with a long time.
35
contingencies 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Ahh yes, the constant magic of e. More concisely, it can be explained as thus: If you're both on e, you're guaranteed to find the right partner... straight away.
36
jgrahamc 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a good way of choosing a song on your iPod while shuffling. Assume you have a tolerance of shuffling through 40 songs before picking one.

You should click through the first 40/e (roughly 15). Then start clicking until you come across a song better then the best one in the first 15.

Listen to that one.

37
epx 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The only way to win this game is not to play
38
judk 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Yay, sexist and inaccurate metaphorical framings for math problems.
39
RRRA 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a "you should never get married" solution? ;)
19
Cross-platform Rust Rewrite of the GNU Coreutils github.com
268 points by doppp  2 days ago   206 comments top 13
1
pixelbeat 2 days ago 3 replies      
Note GNU coreutils has a good test suite which just calls out to the various tools from shell and perl scripts. It should be easy enough to run this implementation through it.More effort goes into the coreutils tests than the code.

One of the hardest parts of coreutils is keeping it working everywhere, including handling that buggy version of function X in libc Y on distro Z. That's handled for GNU coreutils by gnulib, which currently has nearly 10K files, and so is a significant project in itself.

Some stats:

coreutils files, lines, commits: 1072, 239474, 27924

gnulib files, lines, commits: 9274, 302513, 17476

2
DCKing 2 days ago 6 replies      
I was already secretly imagining a future where Rust will completely replace C as the low level language for everything. Even the Linux kernel rewritten in it eventually. It'd be a much better world with no #ifdefs, strong type safety and memory safety depending on compilers instead of fallible programmers.

But I was expecting it would take a while before people had the ambition to start doing these things, even when it comes to the smaller ambition of rewriting the GNU coreutils. Rust is a great language already, but it's not a stable language yet.

I wonder if my imagination will become reality eventually. There's really good buzz around Rust now, and it's not even 'production ready'.

3
cageface 2 days ago 2 replies      
How stable and usable is Rust's ABI? Can I easily call Rust code from C or other languages that can easily call C functions? I ask because I think this is one area in which C++ has really failed. C++ is a bad language for building frameworks and libraries for consumption from other languages because interfacing with C++ code is such a nightmare. I'd hope any language that aspires to displace C++ has a better story here.
4
reirob 2 days ago 4 replies      
"uutils is licensed under the MIT License - see the LICENSE file for details" - funny to see GNU software reimplemented in another open source license.
5
loudmax 2 days ago 4 replies      
While they're at it, I hope they write complete man pages rather than pointers to info pages.
6
fernly 1 day ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting when they get down the to-do list to fmt, which contains the Knuth-Plass paragraph reflow algorithm -- the only C-language version I've been able to find, and about the only readable one, after Knuth's "literate" one.

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/spe.4380111102/ab...

7
krick 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. However, I feel there're two things really needed to be done here: move all that cat|du|... to some src|source|whatever directory and add 'tests' directory with somewhat more robust tests layout than the current one. It would be really cool to replace (seriously, just for the arts sake) coreutils with this one, but I wouldn't dare to do it if I'm unable to easily verify that they both work and work at least almost as fast as coreutils on my platform. It's important stuff, you know, otherwise it wouldn't be called "coreutils", really
8
mhd 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks like it's handy for learning purposes, but is there actually any practical use for this? I don't think that the code size and the pace of development really require changing the core language.

Past re-implementations have focused either on the learning experience, code size (for embedding or Unix "purity" reasons) or the license (i.e. not GPL).

9
gkya 2 days ago 3 replies      
> However, [other ports of coreutils to Windows] are either old, abandoned, hosted on CVS, written in platform-specific C, etc.

I don't get how on the earth can using CVS for version control be an appropriate reason to consider a software project bad. Yes, CVS is old and centralised, but, is it that big of a deal that it's usage by a project per se projects the project old and inactive?

10
elktea 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's not really cross platform - whoami for example depends on libc which afaik isn't native on Windows.

I wrote one of the first utilities for this when it was first opened up for collaboration, so I hope it succeeds :) I need to go back and write tests for my util.

11
bronson 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love this idea! When I get a few hours I'll have to try porting a small coreutil... Seems like a great way to learn Rust.

Any chance of Rust taking over embedded systems programming? That's still mostly done in C and quickly devolves into horror.

12
lukasm 2 days ago 13 replies      
Why Rust? Is it better at this than, say, Go?
13
SeanDav 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting project. Why is there no grep in this, or on the to-do list?
20
Firefox 30.0 mozilla.org
249 points by 01Michael10  3 days ago   189 comments top 26
1
ToastyMallows 3 days ago 5 replies      
> Ignore autocomplete="off" when offering to save passwords via the password manager

Love this change. There's some good conversations in Bugzilla about it. [0]

[0]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=956906

2
JoshTriplett 3 days ago 4 replies      
I love the change to prohibit non-whitelisted plugins. Together with the changes to Chrome to move away from NPAPI, hopefully we can kill off the majority of plugins across all browsers.

If we can get it down to just Flash and nothing else, hopefully a few years from now Mozilla's HTML5 implementation of Flash will take off (similar to PDF.js), which pushes Flash inside the browser sandbox, and ensures that it has no more privileges or capabilities than normal in-browser content.

3
scott_karana 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, I'm surprisingly stoked about this change:

  Use of line-height allowed for <input type="reset|button|submit">
Firefox was the only browser who didn't allow you do that!

4
3rd3 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm still eagerly waiting for per tab volume control [0], a per tab activity monitor/profiler [1], the possibility to suspend tabs with practically no memory usage [2] and more options for searching the browsing history [3]. Besides that I find it counterintuitive that a revisit of an URL removes the entry of the previous visit. The result is an incomplete history. I wished they would change that.

[0]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=728046

[1]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=400120

[2]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=675539

There are add-ons for suspending tabs but in my experience not very robust ones

[3]: Full text search and search operators for time intervals would be great.

5
notjustanymike 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would it really be so hard to support a calendar?

http://robertnyman.com/html5/forms/input-types.html

6
jonaldomo 3 days ago 6 replies      
Am I only one who thinks it is crazy that all the web browsers look the same now? http://jmoses.co/2014/06/10/which-browser-is-which.html
7
xkarga00 3 days ago 5 replies      
This Firefox is already running bug is really annoying. I love Firefox but it's some poor UX when i manually have to shutdown the process.
8
skrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best browser just keeps getting better!

Hopefully this gets some more people over from the closed-source Google Chrome.

9
bluthru 3 days ago 2 replies      
CSS scale transition performance is still janky on OS X. Are they ever going to fix that?
10
leorocky 3 days ago 4 replies      
Firefox is getting more awesome with each update, but admittedly I'm kind of liking Chrome's implement first, standardize later approach to new features, which is why you can get a directoryReader in Chrome and drag and drop support for uploading entire directories. I wish Firefox had that, but it's not a standard so they're not implementing it.
11
benjaminpv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Based on the notes in #812695[1] the longstanding text-corruption bug that's appeared in past releases should be fixed thanks to a change in how the layout's handled.

[1]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=812695#c414

12
cauterize 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does it strike anyone else as odd that they don't highlight security updates as Chrome does? Example, http://googlechromereleases.blogspot.com/2014/05/stable-chan... Maybe it's psychological, but I like the reassurance security is a focus for Chrome.
13
aleksandrm 3 days ago 3 replies      
I love Firefox, but since I upgraded from 28 to 29, it has been crashing for me on Win 7 on a daily basis. Looking in about:crashes I have close to 30 crashes reported. The moment I upgraded to 30, it crashed. sigh
14
Siecje 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why in the inspector does it convert the markup to xml?

So it adds < / input > etc

15
creatio 3 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know if array comprehensions are also supported in chrome?
16
throwq 3 days ago 1 reply      
Still no keyring/OS password storage support? I'm all for storing all passwords in the password manager (including those with autocomplete="off") but anything that can read signons.sqlite has access to all passwords in cleartext (no average user uses the master password)
17
arenaninja 3 days ago 0 replies      
There seems to be a bug on the dev-tools in the Network tabs, I cannot see the labels that are normally at the bottom ("All | HTML | CSS ... "). It seems that the container that's wrapping them doesn't have enough height to show the text. This is on OS X 10.9.3. Anyone else having this issue?
18
AtomicOrbital 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why limit yourself to just firefox 30.0 I'm using their Mozilla Nightly currently at 33.0a1 (2014-06-10)
19
shmerl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately no gstreamer 1.0 in official Mozilla builds yet.
20
darkhorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a telephone in Firefox Nightly.
21
mantrax5 3 days ago 0 replies      
It was only yesterday when Firefox was 3 and look at it now. Isn't it about time we start telling it to get married and have children or?
22
kent13304 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've uninstalled Firefox since Mozilla ousted Brandon Eich
23
easytiger 3 days ago 2 replies      
So I guess minor updates are how we do things now.
24
cozuya 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is my favorite firefox specific "bug", still around in 30 I would guess:

http://jsfiddle.net/rk7ke/

Works fine in literally all other browsers. Oh well.

25
gedrap 3 days ago 4 replies      
While it's quite off topic, what's with FF version numbers? I mean just a few years back it was FF 3, 4, 5, and while I am not using it daily, I don't think it's a major change every time.

I guess my kids are going to use Firefox 142...

26
huhtenberg 3 days ago 5 replies      
Very nice, but those designer tabs from FF29 still make my eyes bleed every time I see them, so I'm stuck on FF28. I wonder how many people are in the same situation :-|
21
Massive 'ocean' discovered towards Earth's core newscientist.com
249 points by uptown  1 day ago   128 comments top 16
2
3rd3 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems to be a confirmation of a study that what was published in March: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2579584/The-v...
3
fennecfoxen 1 day ago 7 replies      
Coming next: creationist interpretation of this in a Biblical flood narrative with reference to "opening up the fountains of the deep".
4
daveslash 1 day ago 6 replies      
I know that truth can be stranger than fiction, but am I the only one a little hesitant to believe that underneath the U.S. alone is a reservoir that is three times the volume of all the oceans combined?

EDIT: I didn't mean to imply that this exists only under the U.S. and nowhere else. I meant to imply "so far, the existence of this reservoir has only only been confirmed under the U.S.; the rest of the world is unknown at this point".

5
iM8t 1 day ago 6 replies      
Just hypothetically.

If the story of the great flood (Holy Bible) is real - could it be that this is where all of the water has gone? Could this water some time in the future "rise up" once more and create a second worldwide flood?

6
vixin 1 day ago 2 replies      
An ocean as imagined by Jules Verne in Journey to the Centre of the Earth. A splendid bit of early fantasy fiction. I recommend 'Lost' - the chapter where the narrator gets separated from his Uncle in caverns 70 miles underground.
7
orthecreedence 1 day ago 2 replies      
It would be so cool to get a sample of that water (assuming it does in fact exist) and see what type of life is in it (if any). It would be almost like seeing life from another planet.
8
johnchristopher 1 day ago 0 replies      
The quote would better be placed around 'discovered' rather than 'ocean' considering it's all lab experiments and a pair of wet diamonds. Not to dismiss the hypothesis/theory, which seems pretty solid (no pun intended), but it's not like we discovered a new ocean like the Europeans discovered a new continent centuries ago.
9
NAFV_P 23 hours ago 0 replies      
After reading this article, I was reminded of [0]. The Earth's core is hot due to the presence of radioactive isotopes, both the uranium-238 and thorium-232 series occur in substantial quantities. This could alter the chemical composition of the water present due to radiolysis.

Anyone up for a hydrogen peroxide cocktail?

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

10
zebranky 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems like a pretty nice place for a Great Old One to fhtagn.
11
Mz 1 day ago 6 replies      
Excerpt:

By measuring the speed of the waves at different depths, the team could figure out which types of rocks the waves were passing through. The water layer revealed itself because the waves slowed down, as it takes them longer to get through soggy rock than dry rock.

Jacobsen worked out in advance what would happen to the waves if water-containing ringwoodite was present. He grew ringwoodite in his lab, and exposed samples of it to massive pressures and temperatures matching those at 700 kilometres down.

To me, as someone who knows not that much about all this, that sounds like it could well be hooey. It could be voodoo. It could be a Tall Tale.

Can anyone explain to me (like I am 5 years old) how such things get vetted or taken seriously or whatever?

No, I am not trolling.

Thanks.

12
kristopolous 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it a closed biosphere? What's in it?
13
trhway 1 day ago 2 replies      
and the moment we learn how to do fracking through 700km deep well...
14
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
One would think that water's density is smaller than the rock. Why wouldn't it eventually rise to the surface above the denser material if the surrounding rock wasn't solid?
15
timmyelliot 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope they find the dinasouars like in Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth
16
orky56 1 day ago 2 replies      
In the not too distant future, when water becomes a valuable commodity, we'll have "I drink your milkshake" situations that will get geopolitical very fast.
23
Trashing Chromebooks systemcall.org
241 points by mafuyu  3 days ago   61 comments top 15
1
userbinator 3 days ago 4 replies      
Those swollen batteries are rather worrying - unless these laptops are being subjected to temperatures far outside of their design spec or the charging circuitry is (very slightly) overcharging them, they should not be swelling at all. Although in more gentle conditions they'd probably last long enough for the few years design life these have.
2
mmastrac 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a curiosity -- why not use QEMU to test ARM? Or is that risking incompatibility with real ARM hardware?
3
justincormack 3 days ago 0 replies      
My current ARM build machine of choice is the 2G quad core Utilite http://utilite-computer.com/web/utilite-models with internal SATA SSD.

Only annoyance is stupid power connector, which really needs fixing as it comes out too easily.

Its fast, and I run it fairly heavily although builds are not continuous, but it is on 24x7.

4
ojn 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Samsung Chromebook is a fanless machine, relying on cooling from the ambient air around it. Having to remove the lid switch to allow the machine to power on with the lid closed should have been a pretty strong signal of this.

Since they are far, far into voided-warranty land already, I would say just remove the lid completely and thus get better airflow and cooling for the board.

5
aidenn0 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you put the devboards in an enclosure with vents on opposite sides and a small exhaust fan on one vent, you will get much better longevity, as that keeps air moving across the hot parts. I don't know if it's a better solution than the chromebooks though.
6
bitL 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why not use Android sticks instead? For $60 you can get a quad-core with 2GB RAM, USB + HDMI + WiFi + BT and passively cooled. You can place dozens of them on a single rack. What would be Chromebook advantage here?
7
BaryonBundle 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like the NVIDIA Jetson TK1 would be a better alternative to the odroid products.

https://developer.nvidia.com/jetson-tk1

8
myrandomcomment 3 days ago 2 replies      
So what about cross compiling on x86? My company make SW for switching hardware which is mostly PPC (P2020) and we compile everything on large x86 systems.
9
jimmcslim 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are there not ARM Chromeboxes around?
11
chillingeffect 3 days ago 1 reply      
Needlessly provocative title/link bait.

The Chromebooks are not trashed, they are simply re-installed with Linux and have their batteries removed so they can rest in racks for long-term testing.

tl,dr; There aren't enough reliable ARM servers yet, so for developing Linaro (optimized release of gcc), they use Chromebooks.

12
blueskin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems 'cheap ARM linux platform more powerful than a Raspberry Pi' is the chromebook's primary use these days.
13
Pxtl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised they didn't go for the various rk3188-based tv-player android devices. There's got to be one hackable enough for Ubuntu.
14
doobiaus 3 days ago 1 reply      
15
mianos 3 days ago 3 replies      
Was this written in the 2000s? "The only problem is, there arent any ARM rack-servers or workstations." There have been commercial rack mountable ARM servers for years now. Even the simplest Google search shows a wide range of ARM rack mountable servers. You can even special order them from Dell. What are don't seem to be is great value. I am sure a few netbooks would be better value. (ps re-installing the operating system is not what anyone except maybe ma and pa, would call trashing one).
24
Expedia Starts Accepting Bitcoin for Hotel Bookings wsj.com
231 points by peter123  3 days ago   100 comments top 16
1
vijayboyapati 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's interesting to think what announcement like this have in aggregate on the price of bitcoin. Counter-intuitively the price of bitcoin should face downward pressure as merchant adoption of this sort increases. Expedia doesn't hold any of the bitcoin they receive. The bitcoins are instantly converted to dollars on a market exchange. This means that holders of bitcoin, especially those who are sitting on large capital gains, now have a new outlet to realize their gains.

On the other hand merchants who choose to accept bitcoin using Coinbase (or Bitpay) and who also choose to keep some fraction of their profit in bitcoin (thereby exposing their profits to currency volatility, which may even be a good thing for growth of their profits) will tend to increase the market price of bitcoin.

Overall it seems like most merchants accepting bitcoin are not holding any of the bitcoins they accept. It would be great to see more merchants choosing to keep some fraction, however small, in bitcoin itself.

2
doctoboggan 3 days ago 3 replies      
The common thread in many of these announcements seems to be coinbase.
3
rmason 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well it seems that Expedia did a great thing by allowing you to use Bitcoin to pay for hotel bookings. So that means I dont need to use my credit card any longer when I check into the hotel?

Not exactly:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/27vc4x/expedia_star...

If you read down in the comments you see hotel workers saying they will still apply a 2X block on the daily rate of the room to your credit card, even if you've paid for the room with Bitcoin. A block that can take up to two weeks to be released.

Obviously the standard hotel procedures will need to be revised but until then Bitcoin buyer beware ;<(.

Rick

4
avd74 2 days ago 3 replies      
When I first read this I thought, why would they start with hotels? may be because the big profit they make out of reservations?

Then I remembered what an accountant friend once said to me: "Hotels are big portals between the black and white worlds".

So you may have black money in bitcoins (and a Hotel which is your "legal business"), and want to "wash" it? now you can do it through Expedia (they having a bite in the process, hence their motivation).

5
malloreon 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does Expedia hold any bitcoin reserves? Do they interact with bitcoin at all?

Nope. They let someone else do it and just accept real money.

6
kleer001 3 days ago 6 replies      
This seems good. But at the heart of it I fear it defeats the whole point of Bitcoin the payment system. Why? I thought the whole point of Bitcoin was to create a decentralized payment system. And here is Coinbase (or Bitpay) becoming centralized payment systems...
7
jordigh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this as big as it seems to me? This seems huge. Is it huge? I can't tell. Should I be excited? I am.

Now if only I could make it easier for people to pay me in bitcoins for small freelance work...

8
kolev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Expedia accepts Coinbase, not Bitcoin. This is no different than accepting PayPal. Did you pay with PayPal balance, credit card, or bank account - it doesn't matter. You implement PayPal APIs and you receive dollars from PayPal. The rest is just speculation, but seems that price is dropping as "acceptance" like this can only lead to selling pressure if it ever gains any traction, of course. I'm really surprised all these merchants implementing Bitcoin for the PR, but confusing their checkout routine. The path to checkout should be as short as possible with as little decisions to be made along the way. Any distraction can lead to abandonment. Is the cheap PR all worth it? I personally doubt. It's obvious that the general public is not interested in Bitcoin and is, in fact, getting bored. I keep polling non-techie friends, the common theme is "Bitcoin is a scam". Even most tech people aren't much interested except the small share who invest in stocks, i.e. the speculator by nature.
9
stevehawk 3 days ago 2 replies      
Has there been much talk about how stores using Bitcoin reduces the anonymity of Bitcoin by tying IDs in the transaction of acquiring that coin to the person that ultimately uses it?

I'm sure the uber nerds were already aware of this but has it been brought up enough that the general community thinks this through? One booking on Expedia and you've revealed any possible Silk Road or other curious transaction you've ever made, right?

10
mrfusion 3 days ago 3 replies      
Side note, I'm noticing a lot of merchants accepting bitcoin asking for more information than they should need.

For example I tried to buy an ebook recently and it required my home address.

For Credit cards I believe that's required to verify the billing info, but there's no reason bitcoin purchases should need it for non-shippable products. And it cancels out a lot of the benefits of using bitcoins (fast purchase, anonymous from marketers)

11
taariqlewis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Speculative bitcoiners will not spend their hard-earned BTC on travel goods and services.

They will HODL and continue to buy their air and hotel with fiat cash which will be cheaper, faster, and easier.

12
coryking 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this deal with damage deposits? Why would I pay with bitcoin when many rewards cards pay out extra when you use them for travel-related use?

Honestly, the cynic in me says the use case for spending bitcoin is a quick way for speculators to "cash out" in a way that makes it easier to hide earnings from the tax-man.

13
justme123 3 days ago 0 replies      
These is very good news overall, taking into account that we are now in the first-stage-of-adoption of bitcoins, where the most important is to spread the info about bitcoins and increase its usage.

In a later stage, when bitcoins are more diseminated and people feels bitcoin more "domestic", then there will be a interest for "personal-wallets" and "business-wallets", which may be hardware-wallets, or multisig-insured-online-services...

TLDR; this is a good-first step toward bitcoin adoption, further later will be another step towards personal-wallets.

14
abc123xyz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is only in US, I went to expedia, no bitcoin option, well that was a let down.
15
pistle 2 days ago 0 replies      
The common thread is coinbase creating a low-friction opportunity for merchants to accept another form of payment, but to be paid in - most likely - USD as far as they are concerned.

This does nothing to disperse bitcoin into many little places. In other words, accepting bitcoin by online merchants everywhere doesn't make many people want to go trade fiat for a volatile currency with all the inconveniences inherent. You need a frictionless means and stimulus for many swathes of people and organizations to accept and hold BC instead of wanting fiat conversions immediately.

"We take Discover/American Express etc." only really got so far to help with consumer adoption of those networks. This keeps coming around to a currency without a country is a PITA.

What are return policies around goods bought with BC? Do you get BC back or fiat? Do you get spot prices at time of return request, etc?

16
vundervul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad, I liked expedia. Now I have to use travelocity.
25
Amazon Prime Music amazon.com
224 points by samiq  2 days ago   165 comments top 42
1
L_Rahman 2 days ago 8 replies      
1. Given my listening habits, the library feels limited. Tried searches for the three albums I listened to the most this month (http://www.last.fm/user/labibrahman/charts):

  Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso  Chet Faker - Built on Glass  Tycho - Awake
None are available for streaming. For a standalone service, this would be damning. As one of the perks offered with Prime this has the potential to become a compelling part of the package.

2. Amazon's store interface is not well suited for consuming media. I tried watching a few episodes of Friday Night Lights on the service instead of Netflix. Spoilers in episode descriptions meant that I had to very specifically control where I let my eyes over the UI. Next episodes don't auto play. Perhaps most annoyingly, there isn't a standalone URL I could go to for my streaming needs. To watch an episode I had to carry out the following steps:

  Navigate to amazon.com  Search for Friday Night Lights  Skim the results to click on the TV show  Remember what season I was on  Skim the episode descriptions while avoiding spoilers  Click to stream, and make sure I don't accidentally click  on the 1-click buy button which is annoyingly right next  to the stream button.
My flow on Netflix:

  Navigate to netflix.com  Click on the continue watching pane on top left corner of my screen.
I want Amazon to be a legitimate competitor in the space, but running everything through the store interface is killing any chance of me using Prime as a media consumption service.

3. I suspect that this works many orders of magnitude better on the Kindle Fire line of devices and that's great for people who already own Kindle Fires. If I don't already own one though, the Prime ecosystem should be driving to make that purchase and right now it is failing at that task.

2
bradleybuda 2 days ago 3 replies      
The UX for this is very awkward (unless I'm missing something) - the "store" and the "player" are completely disjoint experiences with only a few marketing links between them. You can't actually add new (free) "Prime Music" to your collection from the player - you have to jump to the "store" to discover the music you want and add it to your cloud library. Nor can you play full songs from the "store", even if you have Prime and they are free - you are limited to 30 second samples.

The amazing thing about Rdio and Spotify, and what makes streaming services different than their MP3 purchasing predecessors, is that you can think "I want to listen to Kanye", type "Kanye" in to the search bar, press enter and listen. Amazon is making this whole process very awkward by adding a "buy" step (even if no money is changing hands).

The reason that Spotify is disruptive isn't that the music is paid for via subscription pricing - it's that it eliminates the distinction between "music I own" and "all of the music ever recorded".

3
andrewguenther 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is seriously a usability disaster. I have to go through the normal Amazon store to add music to my prime library? I have to leave the player to find music to listen to? No thank you.
4
ctz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Note that this only applies to US Amazon Prime accounts.

If you are an Amazon Prime customer in another region, Amazon will ignore that and ask you to start another Amazon Prime subscription. But I doubt your second Prime account will actually come with any of the advertised benefits.

Which, for an international company with accurate knowledge of my billing address, is misleading and hamfisted.

5
adamnemecek 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well this product is dead on arrival

http://i.imgur.com/hBVq7pp.png

6
taskstrike 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of comments seems to be negative on this.

As a amazon prime subscriber, this is great for me, here's why:

1. I have amazon prime for their delivery, and this is basically a free music service for my mobile that is unmatched by anything else. (Free spotify sucks on mobile in comparison, and can't be used offline)

2. Downloaded songs basically gives me a library and allows me to use the song everywhere.

3. A million songs is a lot, unless you listen a lot to very esoteric bands, it works well.

The app is crashing on search for me, but it doesn't matter, the content is so great I will keep going back. Amazon Prime video already trumped netflix with their HBO library acquisition. I am psyched to see what they will try next.

7
millstone 2 days ago 2 replies      
Prime subscriber here. Cool beans. I found some of my favorites.

But I also found a lot of spammy crap. I searched for Smashing Pumpkins, and it's pages of "1979 [A Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins]" or "Disarm [In The Style Of The Smashing Pumpkins]". It takes some work to figure out, no, they don't actually have them.

I'm reminded of Steve Jobs's line with the introduction of the iTMS:

"This number [of songs] could have easily been much higher, if we wanted to let in every song. But we realize record companies do a great service. They edit!"

Here's hoping they can grow their library, but in the meantime, please don't give me piss when I search for rain.

8
psychometry 2 days ago 7 replies      
Isn't anyone interested in owning their music anymore? Have we all become such casual consumers of music that the concept of building a permanent library of music they like is unnecessary?

I will never understand the appeal of subscription music services.

9
quotient 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. This is outstanding. Amazon is solidly developing a one-stop centralized base of entertainment. Even more enticing is that it's free with prime, and even if you don't have prime, it's worth getting prime for: a small fee for a year's access to most music/films you could want. And then you have prime, which makes it much more enticing to buy products on Amazon (due to cheaper, faster delivery). Smart.

(I am aware that Amazon's music library is currently not as large as that of its competitors. I think it is reasonable to assume that this will change in the near future.)

The more significant thing to note here is that the general trend in online businesses (obvious examples will include Google, Apple, and Facebook) is that every business is trying to create its own walled garden --- they try to provide all the services that any user could need, such that the user would not do business with any competitors, and so the user would interface with the business as much as possible. Apple did a remarkably good job at this with iTunes back in the day --- they were the first to provide access to a massive online store of entertainment and to integrate it very heavily with their products.

Amazon, however, is taking the cake in this respect. Their products are extremely well-integrated: www.amazon.com is gradually becoming a one-stop-destination for most media and for general shopping. Perhaps this is due to Amazon's perseverance: I've never seen Amazon weaken its hold on a particular share of any market.

10
digitalsushi 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am a USA prime account holder with an account that was renewed in January of this year (2014). I was curious why the amazon prime music page indicated I needed to upgrade my account, so, I clicked 'upgrade for 99 dollars'.

It went ahead and renewed my prime account with today's date, and sent me a new welcome email.

It's completely unclear if it has consumed my previous subscription with over half a year left.

So be cautious... probably I did not read enough!

11
kmf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like the library is a little limited. As of tonight (2014-06-11 23:19 PST), two of the top songs on Rdio and Spotify are "Problem' by Ariana Grande and "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea. Neither are available on Prime Music, only for purchase on the normal MP3 Store. I suppose the advantage is a lot of people already have Prime, but I don't see any reason to jump ship from either Rdio or Spotify for this.
12
TheCraiggers 2 days ago 1 reply      
This has the same problems that I have with Prime Video:

1) The interface is rather horrid when compared to services in the same category, like Netflix. Others have already expounded on this though, so I won't waste the bytes.

2) I hate, hate, HATE being told I have access to all these movies/songs, only to find that the content I searched for isn't available to stream unless I pay extra money on top of the service I already have. Logically I say that it's better to have extra options- but I've never gotten as mad at Netflix for not having what I want to watch as I've gotten at Amazon for having what I want to watch, but needing to pay extra.

13
sytelus 2 days ago 0 replies      
It costs $10 per month for on-demand streaming of 16 million songs in Rhapsody. By that calculation, this offer would cost $7.5 annually. So it's a smart move for Amazon to lure people to Prime by sacrificing small fraction of revenue.

I'm a user of Rhapsody for almost 13 years now and love it not having to buy individual 100s of artists I listen to. Amazon's 1 million song collection is peanuts for me but for most others it might be enough. I see we are now only few months away from true commoditization of music business (i.e. pay monthly subscription to use all you want like electricity and water).

14
greenyoda 2 days ago 1 reply      
In addition to the music that's available via Prime, they have an "auto-rip" feature that automatically adds to your music library any tracks from physical CDs that you've purchased from Amazon in the past. Very nice.
15
lzlarryli 2 days ago 1 reply      
The classical collection seems to be small. For example, 24098 out of 658027 (3.7%) pop albums are prime, but only 894 of 171251 (0.5%) classical albums are prime. I expected the other way (wishfully, as a fan of classical music), that older less popular music is cheaper to be made prime for Amazon. Strange.
16
joshstrange 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is another case (IMHO) of Amazon being a "Jack of all trades, King of none". Prime delivery is awesome, they are king in that arena but video/music is seriously lacking in the UI/UX department.

They have decent content for free on Instant Video but it doesn't keep track of what you have watched and navigating is a massive PITA. Their music selection is sparse and that's me being kind... I paused my Spotify to check out their OS X app and couldn't believe how terrible it is. Search is confusing and navigating my library is not intuitive at all.

I will keep an eye on it but they should not have released it in this state.

17
weisser 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Over a million songs and hundreds of playlists.

This line reads like it's by Rhapsody in 2002.

18
mynameishere 2 days ago 1 reply      
Searched for a number of things unsuccessfully then found that Neil Young is on it. Okay, tried to play "Harvest" and it refused. The previews for the same album work, but only after letting the Flash widget run (I use flashblock). The Prime videos use Silverlight, so that was never an issue. I can't find a widget hiding anywhere for the prime music, so I'm guessing that's a bug on their part. Or maybe I have it all wrong. Not going to waste time debugging their issues.

Has anyone tried the amazon lending library? Absolute rubbish. At least this has Neil Young, but the problem is, you have to have nearly everything for it to work. And also you're competing with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8odlwI94uFA

19
curiousAl 2 days ago 2 replies      
If this can match spotify's catalog any time soon, AND be available as an app or (usable) mobile site, ad free: RIP music services. This is an enticing offer for those on the fence about prime, given that spotify premium is $120 a year. For the same price, you get prime, spotify, a bit of netflix/hulu (hopefully more to come on the video end).

Pretty brilliant move.

20
hkmurakami 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was a playlist I actually wanted to listen to. I added it, and I was okay with the awkward checkout flow until it prompted me to enter credit card information, despite being logged into my regular Amazon account.

At this point, I gave up and closed the window. I couldn't be bothered to enter this information when I already have various other streaming services. I wonder what their stats are like for the sign on funnel...

21
avalaunch 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those wanting to compare this to Spotify, Amazon Prime Music has about 5% of the number of songs that Spotify does (1 million vs 20 million). Most notably, it's missing the entire Universal Music Group catalog as well as most new releases. At 20 dollars less per year than Spotify, while also offering Prime shipping and Prime movies, I can't imagine Amazon will be able to reach any sort of licensing arrangement where they have anywhere near the library Spotify has.
22
minimaxir 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was smart for Amazon to increase the price of Prime right before launching music streaming. :p
23
MikeTV 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I want to like this... with Amazon video, I can read reviews, see related items, and play the video on the same page. With Amazon music I can read reviews and find related items, but to play it I must first 1) add it to my library, 2) navigate to the cloud player 3) search for the album in my library, 4) click play.

After finding an album using Amazon reviews and related items, this is faster: 1) Search GrooveShark/YouTube from the Chrome URL bar, 2) click play.

24
yellowapple 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the idea, but it seems to be poorly executed with the absolutely-dismal selection of Prime-eligible music. Good albums missing, good songs missing, even entire artists missing (even ones that were at one point pretty mainstream; Sublime, for example).

Amusingly, when searching for "Let It Go", I ended up with virtually every song titled "Let It Go" that's not sung by Idina Menzel (speaking of which, the only Idina Menzel songs available are from Glee, and there are a whole two of them that are actually sung by Idina Menzel). Disney's probably to blame for that one, but still.

25
zak_mc_kracken 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can't wait to compare this with Spotify.
26
willu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was actually pretty excited about this because they happen to have a lot of music I listen to (electronic). I loaded up about two dozen albums and downloaded their Android MP3 app. Tried to play a track and was told the track was no longer Prime eligible. The whole album grayed out and when accessed says "We're sorry but this album is no longer available in Amazon's catalog".
27
veidr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. Unlike most things Amazon, such as Prime video, this service works in Japan, using a US Amazon account.

(I tested quickly using the Mac client for it.)

28
paul_f 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon loves running experiments. I am sure they will learn and improve. I'm not gonna drop Spotify for this, but imagine Amazon will improve this over time and make it more useful. Hopefully enough to where I can drop the $100/yr Spotify subscriptions.
29
nickfox 1 day ago 0 replies      
After reading about this on Hacker News, I went straight there to find my current favorite song, Happy, by Pharrell Williams. It wasn't there so I bought it for a $1.29. I wasn't happy. Then, I listened to the song a few times and I was happy again.
30
scdc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would love to see this work in the Sonos app. I'm a Prime member & just added a bunch of albums to my Amazon Music Player via web browser. Switched to Sonos and the AMP, but only see the ones I've purchased.
31
pessimizer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish they would quit rolling all of this shit into a giant monoproduct. I just want to prepay for postage.

edit: Is this why they raised the prices for Prime? If so, the fact that I will never use it means they're saying that they don't want me as a customer.

32
joeblau 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Over a million songs and hundreds of playlists.

When applications like Hip Hop[1] exist and are advertising 45 million songs, a million doesn't seem that impressive.

[1] - http://gethiphop.net/

33
kolev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Limited selection like Prime Instant Video, but at least it's available on Android (although the app doesn't seem to support the new service yet and is butt-ugly). On a side note, I don't really get why Amazon is twisting our arms and doesn't offer Instant Video on Android outside of Google TV and Kindle Fire. I care less about their free videos, but I've purchased digital content and I'm not able to watch it on my Android tablet. Do they really think they can make me buy Kindle Fire just for that?
34
scottm01 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazon's cloud player was the first music locker I tried (I believe in the US it predated Spotify along with google music and certainly icloud/itunes integration). I keep forgetting to cancel my prime account, so I thought I'd check this out.

Beyond the comments above about UX and library content, I was surprised to find I no longer have access to my uploaded songs unless I upgrade to something called "Cloud Player Premium". No thanks.

35
Semaphor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't use it as Amazon knows about my German account. Weird that it isn't a problem for Instant Video.

But I guess my next prime subscription will be on a new account that is only connected to the US. Maybe it will finally allow me to buy TV shows as well.

36
theplaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure why I have to "add" to listen to Prime songs. Can't I play the full song before adding it to my library? I want to be careful what I add - it's kinda like a bookmark. I should be able to try it first.
37
TwistedWeasel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Free (with purchased subscription)
38
rtanaka 2 days ago 2 replies      
Just in time to go along with their phone that's coming out.
39
fargo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody knows if this is going to be available in the UK?
40
tendom 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wooohooo, yet another amazon prime thing that isn't offered to Canadians. Considering we pay more, get "2 day shipping" which is actually 3 days because Amazon cant' seem to do math, and get no other services, and Amazon prices are rarely something to get excited about here, well Amazon, we're done. I just cancelled my amazon prime account. Apple, Netflix, and Google figured out ways to get media to Canada, but Amazon decided to suck donkey nuts... again.
41
rjvir 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see the point - it doesn't have Jason Derulo's latest album, nor does it have Ariana Grande's.
42
Lennu 2 days ago 3 replies      
At first I thought it is free music without ads: "Unlimited, ad-free streaming. Free with Amazon Prime." I noticed "Listen free for 30 days", so there is some kind of trick here.

I logged into the system and on the next screen they were asking for my credit card information which is needed to start a 30 day free trial on Amazon Prime (after it is $100/year). Prime is some kind of premium service for Amazon services.

So, Amazon Prime Music is FREE if you BUY Amazon Prime. In my opinion that is not anyway free, well okay it is for 30 days after that you will get automaticly charged.

26
Math for seven-year-olds hamkins.org
220 points by liotier  1 day ago   60 comments top 22
1
j2kun 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised he used the formal terminology here. When I teach graph theory to a younger audience I usually make up (or have them make up) names. I think it gives them a feel for inventing mathematics, but then again it's usually aimed at high school students who have already been convinced as to what math is and isn't, and saying words like "chromatic number" turn them off. I imagine these girls don't suffer from the same afflictions.

Still, this blog post was excellent. I don't understand why all elementary math education isn't in the form of games and activities like this.

2
blisterpeanuts 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! I'm going to print this out for my 9-year-old daughter to play with, and to teach to her friends when they come over (she loves to play school teacher). This is the kind of intuitive math games that I've been looking for to challenge her a bit without scaring her off with dry, boring stuff.

There's also the game of Sprout (or Sprouts) that is easy for kids to learn and has interesting mathematical implications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprouts_(game)

3
peteretep 1 day ago 0 replies      
4
zhte415 1 day ago 0 replies      
I appreciate the polish of making this into a small book. When educating kids, the 'take away' of having things in a format to take home and play with / show parents makes a big difference (as it does for adult learners).
5
lifeofanalysis 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting co-incidence. Just last week, I sent out an email to my friends, saying that I want to teach mathematics to their kids by a math-by-email service, kinda like the chess-by-email of the old days.

The idea is quite simple: I will send out a daily email with a grade appropriate set of math questions and/or games. Your child provides the answers back by email. I check the answers, provide corrections/feedback. And the next day's worksheet is customized to the child's history. If there is an interest, I could follow the child all the way from pre-K to graduate level Math subjects. Think about that -- wouldn't it be awesome if when you are getting your PhD, you could look back over 20 years of daily problems you solved and how you progressed in your conceptual understanding?

Naturally, you want to balance the gaming aspect with the rigorous aspects. You can start learning Graph Theory with diagram filling, but as you get more serious, there is no substitute to solving several hard problems to get a deeper/intuitive understanding of the concepts. There is no question that people learn different ways, some visually, others through games, and others through mental modeling. I am convinced that if we could tailor math teaching to each kid, we could get rid of the stigma that "Math is hard", or, worse, "Girls can't do Math".

Math, as I say, is a contact sport, not a spectator sport. You have to grab a pencil and a piece of paper to work on 20-30-40 harder and harder problems to master each concept. But to learn new concepts, you also have to cross the significant hurdle of climbing the first few rungs of each concept, so to speak. So let's learn by balancing games and theory.

6
aidos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great project. Strangely enough I was thinking about going through something similar just yesterday (to teach my work mate about graphs).

My daughter isn't even 3 yet so this would still be a little beyond her. Not by much though, given how approachable it has been made.

I've downloaded the kit for later in life.

7
vanderZwan 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Next, we considered Eulerian paths and circuits, where one traces through all the edges of a graph without lifting ones pencil and without retracing any edge more than once. We started off with some easy examples, but then considered more difficult cases.

Wait, there's math devoted to that? I used to do that as a kid for fun!

8
remon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Amazing project! Does anyone know why a (2D?) map will need at most four colors while avoiding neighboring areas with the same color?
9
slackpad 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is the kind of experience would never be allowed with the Common Core type approach. I can't imagine people spending a classroom day on something like this (even though it's awesome and super valuable), but alas it's not content that will appear on the standardized tests.
10
shirro 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks, this was great. I got through the coloring with my 6yo this morning. I printed out two copies and we shared a desk and did it together. He enjoyed it and got mostly optimal answers. He got bogged down in the maps because coloring big areas frustrates him. So he is drawing robots now. I would suggest not trying to do this in one session with easily distracted boys.
11
kneth 1 day ago 0 replies      
I introduced graph theory to my son when he was about 8 or 9 years old. By Nature, he's a networker (like to connect to people) so "friends of a friend" was very intuitive to him.

I have also tried to introduce the concepts to teenagers. In Denmark, we have an annual, national science weeks in primary and secondary schools. I have given http://www.slideshare.net/geisshirt/naturvidenskabsfestival-... as a talk/lecture at 4-5 schools and most 13-15 years old children get the ideas quickly - Facebook and other social medias are a big help :-)

12
pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 1 reply      
What I'd like is a companion booklet that looks with a bit more rigor and formalism at the topics - but not too much! - that would suit a Y13 (17-18yo) or an introductory lecture at undergrad level. I've never really had a proper introduction to graph theory.

Incidentally this has come at the perfect time. I was just discussing with my 8 yo different fields of mathematics and which symbologies he's used and starting him on Boolean set operations. Graph theory was mentioned (by me!) so this will be a good flexi-day if he wants to follow up on it.

A nice accompaniment might be a lightbot like game for exploring Eulerian paths.

13
oldbuzzard 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If this sort of thing interests you, then either the modern Moebius Noodles[1] material or the vintage Young Math[2] materials like "Maps, Tracks, and the Bridges of Konigsberg: A Book about Networks by Michael Holt" would also.

[1] http://http://www.moebiusnoodles.com/[2] http://www.valerieslivinglibrary.com/math.htm

14
mollerhoj 1 day ago 1 reply      
This! Graph theory should be taught very early to all children. It is as fundamental and important as simple algebra, and yields great insights without requiring tough computations.
15
Pxtl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember when my wife took a course on set theory I was fascinated with the graph theory stuff. I wonder if there are other academic fields of math that you could customize for elementary schoolers - I know my dad taught me Boolean algebra and logic gates in Grade 4, so there's one.
16
arctangent1759 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Using CHILDREN to solve NP-Complete problems? What have we become? Monsters, I tell you.
17
nemasu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, pretty sure I learnt this stuff after high school...kinda awesome/scary.
18
keppy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great material! Can we get a follow up article for seventy year olds? Not a lot out there for the elderly.Math for seventy-year-oldsThanks!
19
danielweber 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Google Drive download link isn't working for me. Are there any mirrors?
20
leorocky 1 day ago 0 replies      
The coloring of vertices is a great idea. I'm going to try that with my daughter.
21
jestinjoy1 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Graph Theory for Maths :D
22
mathattack 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great - thanks for sharing!
27
Amazon orders subject to replacement fraud (still) gmcbay.com
216 points by georgemcbay  2 days ago   86 comments top 23
1
sdrinf 2 days ago 7 replies      
Here's a working hypothesis:

| Why is Amazon's security for replacement orders so lax?

Amazon values customer satisfiction above their fraud write-off.

| Why would they send a replacement to an address that has never been associated with me, and is in a wholly different state than the one the original item was sent to?

Because the time between ordering an item, and defect can be sufficiently large to cover moves: people shift around all the time. It's entirely concievable you'd like to exercise replacement rights from Texas, even though you've ordered it from NY.

| How did the scammer know about my order in the first place to social engineer the replacement request?

Via: either buying order requests, using third-party honeypots to capture your info, using the domain registrar, or a combination of any of these.

| Why haven't Amazon black-listed the 13820 NE Airport Way; Portland, Oregon address as a destination for replacements? This package drop address shows up again and again when you Google around for people who have been hit by Amazon scams.

I suspect this might be http://reship.com/ Alexa rank: 166K). This is entirely legit: if you're a UK customer who'd like to buy stuff that are exclusively US-only, reshippers are the cheapest way to do so. Based on their Alexa rank, I suspect Amazon makes quite a money on these customer segments. Blacklisting them also wouldn't help this case: reshipping companies can easily buy up a handful of different addresses in a range of cities, making this a game of whack-a-mole.

| Can I really trust this company to hold multiple credit card numbers of mine in their database, one click away from someone potentially ordering thousands of dollars of merchandise that they can apparently easily redirect to an address that should have been black-listed years ago, if there were any kind of sane security policy in place?

Note that no credit card, or password database has been compromised in executing this attack. This is social engineering corporate goodwill at it's vilest.

I suspect the root cause of this issue to be the friction-less execution of this engineering. A proper solution for this problem might be as simple as sending out an email with clickthrough-link-confirmation before replacement shipping; this would raise the bar from "knowing about an order" to "knowing about an order, and having an active compromise on the mark's inbox".

2
rtpg 2 days ago 2 replies      
The way this is played up makes it sound like a security issue, but it's a social issue above all else.

A story I've been meaning to write for a while, but aligns well with this: I bought a kindle a while back, with the (kinda expensive) case because I knew I would break the screen if I didn't.

I broke the screen anyways (some badly aligned books in my bag I think). I sent a kinda annoyed email at amazon about how their case didn't seem to help me much.

The next morning somebody from Amazon called me, trying to help me out with seeing if they could fix the screen (reboot style things). I was fairly confident I destroyed the screen, but they offered to replace it for me for free if I sent them back the old one at their cost.

The issue was that I was heading off to Japan the day after (from France), and so it would be a bit complicated for me to go to the post office on a sunday night to send it off. Instead, they offered to just send me the replacement to my address in Japan, no questions asked.

At no point did I prove anything about my story, I could have walked away with 2 Kindles (granted, one is probably blacklisted now, if I put it online). They did know I had bought one recently (which let them get my phone number through my account), but still.

Amazon has some pretty great customer service, and honestly requiring "proof" would, although for a rational human being would seem normal, have caused me great grief and I would just think about my 300g brick that I used for all of 1 week.

Anyways, I like Amazon a lot more than I probably should and take any opportunity to tell this story. Fraud is the small cost to pay compared to the goodwill you end up with by trusting (or at least pretending to trust) your customers.

The wifi on the replacement Kindle stopped working though... been too lazy to figure out why though.

3
disillusioned 2 days ago 4 replies      
George, do you have any domains with your whois/registrar information matching your Amazon account information? I guessed that was the vector they used to attack me. I had several domains with my home address as my address, along with my email and name. Voila. The entire triangle of data the CSRs need.

I was able to get a CSR to show me some of the logs of the chats with the scammer, which was particularly enlightening:

http://www.htmlist.com/rants/two-for-one-amazon-coms-sociall... (Thanks also for linking to my post in your article. It's insane this is still going on.)

4
quackerhacker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing that the scammer is even able to have the fraudulent replacement item sent to a different address than where the order was originally sent not once, but twice and an address not associated with the account nor confirmed/verified and could possibly be linked to multiple accounts.

Seems like a blatant oversight in loss prevention and fraudulent data sifting. Not only does it admit that an account has been compromised in some shape (socially most likely), but it disappointingly shows incompetence in Amazon CSRs.

5
aestra 1 day ago 1 reply      
My experience with Amazon customer service hasn't given me any faith in their competence.

Years and years ago I ordered a few items, mostly DVDs. I got the items. Months later I get an email from Amazon customer service saying I owe them money from that order because I never paid for it. I said "huh?" I call customer service and I found out it was because there was a chargeback. I didn't do a chargeback so I was confused.

Eventually I figure it out because the CC number shows up on the invoice with the last 4 digits. I accidentally transposed the last 2 digits of my CC number. I combed through my CC statements and found out that I indeed wasn't ever charged for the original items. Apparently the card was valid and was charged even though it was someone else's card. That means they didn't even do the least bit of checking to see if the billing address was the same or even name.

I call up and told them what happened. They just were dumbfounded and confused about the whole situation and didn't know how to handle it. They just kept insisting I return the items and they'll give me a refund. I think she was confused as to what I was even trying to tell her since I received the items. I said I didn't want to return them and even if I did they were now used items. They said "what's the problem then?" I told them they THEY sent ME and email saying how I owe money. I wanted to take care of it. Well finally the customer service rep just took down my right CC number and presumably wrote it in as a note in the logs or something.

I was never charged for the order.

---

Even more years ago my college boyfriend told me that when he was like 17 him and his friends played some kinda "prank" where they ordered some expensive cameras shipped to the school and put in some fake name and credit card. Apparently according to him the cameras shipped. Kids freaked out they would get in trouble, they told a science teacher. Science teacher took care of it and called Amazon before the cameras arrived to say that it was just some kids messing around.

6
brador 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just a note that Amazon have been known to ban accounts if you action too many returns. The bans are very rare, but they are for life and across all Amazon properties. Hit up Google for more.
7
habosa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another angle: this is why I shop at Amazon, and make a point to buy items fulfilled by them directly.

Any time I have had a problem with an Amazon item, they have made it insanely easy, and cheap, for me to get a new one.

With the Kindle 2 (first one with the directional nub) the screen was VERY fragile. I used the official case but just putting it in my bag caused the screen to crack 3x in a year. When this would happen, I'd call Amazon and they'd have a new one on my doorstep the next morning. Then I'd use that box to send the old one back, no questions asked. Sure I could have been a fraudster and probably could have somehow kept 2 Kindles, but I appreciated the customer service.

[Aside: no I'm not just an idiot, the Kindle 2 really was that fragile. I've had a Kindle of every generation and never broken any other screen, but broke that one 3x].

8
lilt12345 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yodel (especially poor UK courier) lost an expensive item once. Once I got through to a human at Amazon, they took me at my word and the replacement item was on its way that day. A few weeks later the original turned up, looking very battered.

The amount of goodwill I have towards Amazon because of that experience is tremendous. I took out Prime, and I look there first for everything now. I can absolutely see that being worth the shrinkage.

9
patcheudor 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Also, our secure server software (SSL) is the industry standard and among the best software available today for secure commerce transactions."

Hey! What the heck? I'm in the security industry and had no idea about this new "secure server software" and why is the TLA SSL? What the heck? I've been on vacation for the last week, when did it hit?

On a serious note, I understand that some security teams hire non-technical types into the team but it's always the responsibility of senior staff to make sure they are at least understanding the basics, especially when communicating with customers. Say it with me: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). There's a credibility problem here somewhere.

10
jmnicolas 2 days ago 0 replies      
It happened to me in a brick and mortar shop : I went to the shop to have my laptop repaired and they told me it was impossible since I had been reimbursed when I gave them the laptop back 6 months ago (the same laptop I had in my hands).

They never told me what happened but I suspect someone in this shop took the money and declared the laptop returned.

11
enscr 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Amazon is out quite a bit of product and a lot of trust from me.

The product is still a drop in the bucket for Amazon. Hopefully some of you actions will trigger their fraud protection dept. to blacklist the address or maybe they think it's not worthwhile blacklisting a whole address with multiple suites for a tiny amount. Anyway, I don't think it's reason enough to lose trust in Amazon. As long as they got the honest customer covered, it's OK to lose some when you are running a business of Amazon's scale.

As @sdrinf mentioned, it's social engineering at play. Maybe they can raise the bar to placing phone orders/replacements. Or maybe they think, they'll lose more business by adding a teeny hurdle than gain on fraud recovery.

A times B times C equals X. If X is less than... we don't care kind of thing (Fight Club recall reference)

12
jebus989 2 days ago 0 replies      
Presumably there's some Durden-esque equation for costing this, wherein increased earnings from customer retention and goodwill more than offset estimated losses through fraud.
13
danielweber 2 days ago 1 reply      
UI complaint:

If I click on a picture to view a larger version of it, I should not have to hunt around the page for a blue button to stop viewing the large image.

14
heffer 2 days ago 2 replies      
I found it also pretty odd that I could use my Prime account to order things for a friend using my address for shipping and billing and his bank details for direct debit (which is the most common means of payment here on Amazon.de, I guess).

The other way around (his address, my bank details) also works without any further verification.

So I could basically just enter someone's bank details and hope the order ships to my anonymous forwarding address before they notice. The victim will then order her bank to refund the fraudulent direct debit transaction (thanks to SEPA she now has 13 months to file the request). Amazon will probably suspend the account but the perpetrator will obviously not care.

Even if it's less convenient (because not instantaneous) Amazon should be doing something similar to what PayPal does: transferring a few cents together with a verification code to the account for verification.

This scenario would hopefully only work if the account itself was compromised. But when looking at how overcredulous customer support seems to be it might well be possible to pull this off without actual access to the account.

15
jastorific 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used to be an Amazon customer service rep. I know for a fact that replacements can only be sent to the original address. However, you can change the address after the order's been made. Calling into customer service to change this address is going to be risky, so doing it self-serve online is probably what's being done here. These hackers had access to your account I suspect.
16
ars 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you happen to notice this before the item is delivered you can call UPS and have the package returned to sender.

If you really want you can have someone stake out the home and see who comes, but that's really something for Amazon + the Police to do.

17
lvs 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are you somehow on the hook to return a defective item because of these replacement requests?
18
jacobgreenleaf 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would think that if Amazon is failing to rectify the problem, then they at least have a very clear and obvious incentive to do so.
19
gellpak 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it really that hard to craft a title that uses normal english? For example:

"Amazon orders are still subject to replacement fraud"

There, I won't have to sit there and swap emphasis in my head until it makes sense with that one.

20
deltron 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bet there's a thread on socialengineered dot net about this. I'd do a google search for "site:socialengineered(dot)net amazon replacement"

Obviously I'm not going to link to a scam site, but you can get in through and read the articles through Google so you don't have to register with them. I saw this site with another Amazon scam where people were requesting refunds saying not shipped, etc.

21
bencollier49 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are Amazon actually making money on these? Do they charge costs and shipping back to the supplier above trade price?
22
abc123xyz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon themselves have actively recommended this reship.com when I asked about delivery before for certain product.
23
jrockway 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could this just be a database querying problem, and maybe no items were actually shipped as a result?
28
Ars tests Internet surveillance by spying on an NPR reporter arstechnica.com
212 points by wglb  2 days ago   65 comments top 10
1
Smerity 2 days ago 4 replies      
I really appreciated this story. It's so hard to make people care about "small" data leaks when they have no idea what many "small" data leaks can lead to. The bug the journalists discovered that revealed Skype's contact list is the perfect example -- the programmer just did something completely "reasonable" (grabbing avatars) that ended up leaking a vital set of information. Imagine if surveillance was your full time job and you did more than just grab the low hanging fruit.

I was also quite surprised by Google's HTTP Maps flaw in HTTPS search. I'd have previously imagined this would be a standard security pentest that Google products would need to go through. Given how pervasive and important Google is to the digital ecosystem, even small flaws can have a profound impact.

I'll again state that this is why I feel so strongly that Google Analytics should be updated to be HTTPS by default[1]. If you hit a non-HTTP site, you're leaking all the information you would send to Google Analytics to anyone that's listening -- it goes across the wire unencrypted. Considering Google Analytics is on 60+% of the top 100,000 domains, this is a lot of information leakage. Referrers, time on page, browser details, operating system details, everything that Google shows a webmaster in Google Analytics also ends up in the hands of the passive observer.

[1]: http://smerity.com/articles/2013/google_analytics_and_nsa.ht...

2
helper 2 days ago 4 replies      
Looks like the "Pwnie Express PwnPlug R2"[1] is just a Mirabox[2] with an extra wireless card in the Mini PCIe slot and an external antenna. The PwnPlug R2 sells for $1095; the Mirabox sells for $150.

[1]: https://www.pwnieexpress.com/penetration-testing-vulnerabili...

[2]: https://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/p-58-mirabox-develop...

3
adamfeldman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Scary that Google Maps wasn't encrypting significant amounts of its traffic (at least for the reporter in this article, since I know Maps has HTTPS support). Location data can be the most revealing of all.
4
ojilles 2 days ago 1 reply      
At this point, should we not just drop non-SSL traffic on the web completely?
5
exelius 2 days ago 3 replies      
None of this is shocking except for maybe how unavoidable sharing all this information online actually is. The default settings on most devices are not designed with privacy in mind. In order to avoid this type of data collection, you'd have to walk around with a dumbphone, avoid using any bank-connected services and basically only log on to the Internet via a VPN. Ironically, this usage pattern is so far out of the ordinary that it would make you stick out like a sore thumb.

In the decade between this type of data collection becoming possible and the mass populace becoming concerned about it, I fear we've passed a threshold we can't un-cross. This type of technology is so intertwined in our daily lives that avoiding it isn't a realistic option.

Things like Apple using random MAC addresses to scan for Wi-Fi APs are a start; but too many devices (Android included) use default settings that are far from secure. But it's up to the companies that make usable, mass-market devices to ratchet up the security, and I fear that they have little incentive to do so when their own ambitions include the same type of data collection.

6
TeMPOraL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much sensitive data from governments and companies leaks this way. It doesn't sound unrealistic for an attacker (a spy, a competitor, an inside trader) to pick a coffee shop frequented by low-level government officials and set up a fake Wi-Fi access point. I doubt people doing mundane administrative tasks are security-conscious enough not to leak important data this way.
7
lsh123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Realistically, it is really hard to protect your privacy online unless you decide to stop using 3rd party services like email, calendar, file sharing, social networks, etc. All these services collect enormous amounts of information about everyone. The internet protocols (TCP/IP, HTTP) have not been designed with privacy in mind and the only way to ensure real privacy for internet users is to start from scratch and rethink the whole stack. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen thus users pretty much have a tradeoff: either to accept privacy violations from various parties or to (significantly) limit the use of internet services.
8
jessaustin 2 days ago 0 replies      
We contacted both AT&T and Apple for comment; Apple pointed us to AT&T, but AT&T didn't respond.

I'm shocked.

9
coffeecheque 2 days ago 2 replies      
How far would an always on VPN go to solving parts of these problems? At least it'd be encrypted to the VPN data centre.

I suppose from there it'd be in the clear, but at least it'd stop snooping at an ISP level. Or am I missing something, and would it be useless?

10
Bassetts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any guides on how to get started on penetration testing yourself? I'd quite like to run this experiment on myself and see just how much information I actually leak online.
29
HTTPie is a command line HTTP client, a user-friendly cURL replacement httpie.org
210 points by grhmc  19 hours ago   68 comments top 20
1
suprgeek 18 hours ago 9 replies      
This is one of the little known gems I recommend often.the readability difference is just amazing for me.On that note for those of us having to use Windows at the workplace there are a few things that make life easier:

1) Chocolatey (package manager)

2) HTTPie

3) ConEmu (Shell)

4) gow (Unix command line utilities in Windows)

5) WinMerge (win diff)

6) TortiseSVN

7) SourceTree (git)

Makes day to day stuff much smoother....

2
cobralibre 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I seem to spend my every waking moment reporting defects for HTTP APIs. HTTPie's interface is far more intuitive than cURL's, and pretty-printed responses are a kindness not just for me but for the people who have to read the bug reports, too.
3
halayli 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I'd just wrap a simple program around curl to improve its argument passing complexity if that's your pain point but I wouldn't go on rewriting an HTTP client.

Curl is a very mature code base by now and that's something to appreciate. It handles all the edge cases well and has dealt with all the mess that you'll discover over time.

4
todd3834 19 hours ago 1 reply      
At first I thought, what is so unfriendly about cURL? Then I saw the screenshot that shows a comparable cURL request behind the HTTPie request and I'm convinced.
5
barosl 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Determining the type of an argument by looking up the presence of ':', '=', or '==' is brilliant. I liked it.

It can also be used to replace Wget, which not only breaks a multibyte filename sometimes, but also requires the --content-disposition option to handle the Content-Disposition header.

6
SimeVidas 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a curl replacement written in Node (for us Windows users who don't have a proper curl out of the box)?
7
kernel_panic 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing! Will definitely be switching away from using curl.I put a the basic examples here to easily play with httpiehttp://runnable.com/U5wOrMxHLYsVkYbX/basic-httpie-examples-f...
8
aikah 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Somehow I used to hate curl because I began using it through the PHP Curl extension,which has the most horrible API(no,the other API for HTTP requests in PHP is even worse, it creates adhoc variables,yes variables can appear like that in PHP which leads to "variable name collisison"... ).

But with time,using it in the shell it happened to be quite powerfull for testing apis.

HTTPie coloring is a plus,does it work with XML too?

9
hcarvalhoalves 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Now if I could pipe the request from Sublime Text and get the results back in a buffer it would be awesome to deal with JSON. Any idea?
10
aroch 14 hours ago 1 reply      
D'oh! HTTPie doesn't support SNI
11
tilltheis 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any chance get this into Homebrew for an easier installation on Mac?
12
lukasm 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Instead of curl I was usually writing https://github.com/kennethreitz/requests
13
bdevine 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The sessions, the wget-like download mode, the binary detection, the upload capabilities... there is a lot to like here. I will definitely be checking this out. Thanks for posting!
14
tomphoolery 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Big fan of this one. HTTPie is a lovely replacement for cURL, especially when you just want to quickly test a JSON API.
15
amrit_b 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I use this tool on a regular basis and just love it. Thanks for building HTTPie :
16
_RPM 14 hours ago 0 replies      
While I don't think it will EVER replace curl, it does seem like a fun piece of software to play around with. Great job!
17
fibertera 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Tried it, works great! Nice work!!
18
nroose 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I will keep using wget.
19
hernan604 17 hours ago 0 replies      
HTTP::Tiny
20
_nullandnull_ 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Poor choice of name. All I can see is HTTP Internet Explorer.
30
A Programming War Between 545 Wizards codecombat.com
209 points by gsaines  22 hours ago   35 comments top 12
1
tibbon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I want to play in one of these, but this one has ended. Can we spin up another one somehow?
2
otoburb 21 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a brilliant platform! Didn't realize the company was YC-backed.

Curious to know if there has been any interest from junior or high schools to adapt to a classroom curriculum? Current CodeCombat business model seems to be connecting employers with budding Javascript programmers, but the educational angle may be a possible recurring revenue stream to explore.

3
waterside81 20 hours ago 1 reply      
If any of the Code Combat gang is lurking:

1) What did you use (javascript libraries, gaming engine etc.) to make the intro/tutorial?

2) The intro/tutorial is fantastically well done. Like really, really well done.

4
highsea 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It was a blast playing! Thank you CodeCombat team!

PS. Here's my entry code: https://gist.github.com/mpolyak/8af627cbdf596b5e294a

I wish I had more time to optimize it as well as develop additional army building strategies.

See you at the next tournament!

5
asselinpaul 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Finished 30th woo! Really enjoyed the challenge. Thank you Codecombat team.

Hope to see some more in the future.

6
serf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is neat, and I just started playing with it.

Please fix how it scales for vertical displays. I know that's a strange case, but it's near unplayable on a large 1200x1920 due to the graphics being scaled by the horizontal size of the browser.

Perhaps when a display like that is encountered, logic moves the code editor below the gameplay window and keeps them equally sized horizontally?

7
josephschmoe 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm worried that these sorts of things can 'railroad' programmers, by giving them well-defined problems instead of truly open-ended ones.

The real difficulty in learning programming isn't syntax - it's semantics. And when you finally become skilled in that, it's separation of concerns and modularization. Any programming learning tool should mirror those notions as players develop "skill". Otherwise, as a user, you'll end up great at programming simple AI's...without any knowledge of how programming actually works.

8
doctorKrieger 4 hours ago 1 reply      
i would love to play one of these, provided it would be c++/python/haskell based.
9
Vektorweg 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Actually, to see lots of elite programmers makes me sad. Because i try to be a good programmer long enough to be frustrated about myself.
10
Siecje 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a video of 'how' you play?
11
jimmyislive 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome work George....
12
rossjudson 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone can play at a game like this. It's called Linux Kernel Development.
       cached 14 June 2014 15:11:01 GMT