hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    1 Aug 2014 Best
home   ask   best   4 years ago   
Show HN: OneBody Church Directory software I've been hacking on for 7 years
1016 points by timmorgan  6 days ago   303 comments top 64
timmorgan 6 days ago 26 replies      
Hard to believe, but I've been working on this Rails app for over 7 years now! It started as a Rails 1.0 app waaayyy back when, and I've managed to bring it along through almost every major Rails version (still working on updating to Rails 4.1), which I'm pretty proud of.

You can see screenshots at http://church.io.

Being specifically church software, it might not find much of an audience here on HN, but still, I'm proud, so wanted to post about it.

Keep inspiring HN!!!

tptacek 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is really nicely done. My parish seems really fond of phone services like CallingPost; you might be able to do some integration with Twilio to annoy other church people the same way. :)

You might also consider an explicit obit feature, along with explicit features for weddings and baptisms, since those are the big "out of process" services (at least in Catholic churches) that need announcements.

makmanalp 6 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful UI! Let me bring attention to one thing that's a bit tangential - I see that you have a "church directory" function. Please make sure that proper privacy settings are in place and people are prompted to opt in rather than are opted in by default. Especially in this case, registers for places of worship have been historically used to target minorities for their associations, nationalities and beliefs. Not saying this would happen in the US anytime soon, but better safe than sorry in my humble opinion.
JunkDNA 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is really nice, I've often wondered about the dearth of such things every time I look at a church website.

In the Catholic churches in my area, the company that prints the paper bulletin appears to also have something to do with the web hosting as well. I think many of them just go with that and slap something up there.

Have you thought about actually using it to build a full-blown SaaS offering that churches can subscribe to? Similar to the WordPress model? There are a ton of Churches who probably would have someone who can set up a website, but not necessarily do the whole Digital Ocean VPS thing. I haven't explored this space, but I'd bet this is one of the nicest looking things like this out there.

breckenedge 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great work! I've got a RoR church scheduling system I've been hacking on for 4 years off and on (mostly off). In a weird twist of fate, we've used the exact same bootstrap template, although I colored mine purple. Going to have to look into integrating my system into your software, since you've got some abstractions and models that I need but have not yet implemented (families, for one).
tomasien 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is the most unlikely but deserving post to spend all day atop HN. Great, great piece of software, deserving market, it's just great. Our company was originally started to serve my co-founders church as well believe it or not (the church was worried that credit card fees were usurious and so he tried to build a solution). I hope you do commercialize it purely because it will spread and serve more people that way - doesn't mean you need to try to make a lot of money on it, but some level of commercializing helps sustain and spread a project like this.
patcon 6 days ago 2 replies      
> true # everyone can read bible verses!

must be my favourite code comment ever. :)


amcnett 6 days ago 0 replies      
I myself am not blessed with the gift of faith, and I don't particularly enjoy Rails, but I greatly appreciate your making your very mature passion project available to one and all. Very impressive!

I enjoyed: "It's like a cross between Facebook, Google Groups, and SharePoint, but it's completely free and open source and awesome." I especially like that it's awesome in addition to being completely free and open source, rather than _ just because_ it's free and open source.

davidroberts 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a pastor, and I'm technical, and I think I may just have found the Church Directory software we've been looking for! Thank you!
cicero 6 days ago 1 reply      
This looks very nice. I'm the technology director for a Catholic college prep school and we have been wanting to put up an online alumni directory, but the commercial packages we've seen are too expensive for our small school. I'm thinking your software could be adapted for that purpose, so I will show it to the lady who runs our web site and see if we can use it. Thanks for sharing your work with the world!
tdaltonc 6 days ago 4 replies      
Why can't a church use a general purpose social network framework? How are the constraints/feature-needs different for a non-church group?

I'm asking from a place of honest curiously. Could a non-religious community group use this? Could a church get by with a social networking tool built for non-religious groups?

hipsterrific 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nice app! Good to know there are other Christians here in HN. :P I've always thought about building something similar. Maybe I'll contribute, but my Rails skills is quite lacking (read: non-existant, I'm a C# guy)
nathan_long 3 days ago 1 reply      
Our church has members from age 0 to 80. Some of the oldest members have never used a computer, but we'd want to include their pictures in a photo directory. Does this software support adding pictures on behalf of someone? Can you designate "editors" or some lower-level admin ability for that?
stonogo 6 days ago 1 reply      
I remember using this years ago to build out a private social network for a fraternal organization. It works very well even for non-monastic purposes!
jakespencer 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is great! Are you aware of The City (http://onthecity.org)? Many churches pay $100/month or more for their similar, hosted solution.
ChikkaChiChi 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks simply fantastic. You clearly put a lot of thought into making it accessible to the non-technical user which means you really know the audience.

Kudos to you on taking a passion project and turning it into something wonderful and sharing it with the world!

(I'm also glad to see so much positivity in a thread that could have gotten gunked up. Just because something isn't your thing doesn't mean you can't appreciate a craft)

SEJeff 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is great stuff, how do you "market" it? There are generally not a ton of tech people at smaller churches and then at the larger/mega churches, they have entire teams, which IME, love vendor software vs roll your own.
notjustanymike 6 days ago 0 replies      
"You can see lots of screenshots here." - Amazing how many people forget to do that. Good stuff.
jpetersonmn 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks very nice. Maybe an Events feature? Maybe a backend admin type thing that can track offerings people are making, and then also a way to make an offering through the site if you can't make it into church that week.

Really nice though, great work!

ytjohn 6 days ago 0 replies      
This software looks great. I've actually looked at this before, but for a different reason. This is a space sorely lacking in options.

My amateur radio club has no coherent roster. We've got a couple people volunteering time to take all the application forms at our secretary's house and put them into a spreadsheet. But I also have spent some time looking to setup an open source club membership roster online. I even started working on a flask application, but don't really have the time to bring it to completion.

In my search I found various things revolving around subscription management and a lot of offline club roster type stuff, but nothing that really fit the bill. Most members pay their membership dues in cash, and we'd also like to denote officers of the club.

My goal was that we could add members contact information in directly. If they had an email, then they would be able to use that to login. Alternatively, members could go on the site and register themselves, with a club officer validating and activating their account. Members can update their contact information at any time. Club officers can record membership dues and when the current membership expires. While a nice option, we're not really concerned with an ability to pay online or not.

There should be privacy checkboxes: share my contact information with club members, share my contact information with with ARES (a 3rd party organization the club is affiliated with and most members are also members of).

Finally, members that are authorized should be able to download a roster of members (which is really the whole point).

vlucas 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great work! I've been watching from the sidelines, and I'm glad you finally had a big public launch! OneBody looks really good from the screenshots.

I started http://www.churchmint.com over 2 years ago, and I have not made any progress for a while now. Seeing your success and all these positive comments though has encouraged me quite a bit. There are still a lot of churches out there that are severely under-served by technology. Kudos to you for using your skills for the kingdom and donating your time to a good cause!

devOp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just for your information. There's is a simliar tool from Germany in german: http://www.churchtools.de/
boyaka 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a complete Rails noob, can anybody help me understand why after installing this my app shows up without any formatting? http://imgur.com/pQ8wOdG

I did notice that there was a Warning regarding different versions of libxml used for Nekogiri:

$ RAILS_ENV=production rake db:migrateWARNING: Nokogiri was built against LibXML version 2.8.0, but has dynamically loaded 2.7.8

diminoten 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks fantastic. Truly a great app here if it works as well as it looks.

If anything, I think you might be targeting too small of an audience with this. While I realize there's no incentive for you to make this change, I could easily see someone forking this and using it for any large-ish group of people united under any purpose, such as a PTA or soccer league.

kyrra 6 days ago 1 reply      
I know little about this kind of software, but a local church uses this site like it provides similar functionality?: http://www.onthecity.org/

Have you compared your project to this company's offering at all? I'm just wondering if they are even similar.

Eiriksmal 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this solves _so many problems_ for me! I was dreading having to hack together some ugly CRUD solution for my own church's directory-management needs. Thank you so much for doing a wonderful job working on this over the years, and creating an open source solution to boot!
Neff 6 days ago 0 replies      
The site looks really nice and polished. I just passed it along to a coworker who handles most of the IT for his church. I know he has been kicking around the idea of spinning up an online directory and some social networking aspects for a while. You may have just saved him a lot of time!
junto 5 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I noted, (which I think is really awesome), is how you outline on the main Github page how to contribute and fix bugs. this kind of thing is really helpful in getting people to participate in open source.
sjoerger 6 days ago 1 reply      
Very neat. I think that with some slight tweaks this could be very applicable to home owners associations. This model could also be offered as a hosted version like someone else commented.

(not that I really like HOA's all that much)

squiguy7 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing this. I am going to ask my church if they would be interested in using it. I could easily spin this up on a PaaS and get it up and running. Really neat and original software, kudos man.
fiatjaf 6 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand what does the software do. It is a "group manager" for churches? Something like Facebook Groups or many others of the same kind?

I really liked the aspect of the app and that it was built, because I really think group management and group data is an issue, but WHY is it a problem when there exists Facebook Groups, email groups and lots of other solutions?

Is church directory a totally different domain? Have I understood everything wrong?

maga 6 days ago 6 replies      
What if my church is called a mosque?
arikrak 6 days ago 1 reply      
Looks cool. Maybe you should change the name so it's not just focused on churches? Non-"church" denominations and organizations could use it as well.
zellyn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Quick question: have you thought about porting this to sandstorm.io? Having a one-click "app-like" install would help out many less-technical church folks.
davidradcliffe 6 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great! A few years back I built a hosted product similar to this. It was only focused on groups within a church. This looks like it has a whole lot more to it.
x86_64Ubuntu 6 days ago 0 replies      
It looks very, very pretty and user friendly. I can think up ideas, and imagine certain tasks and features, but I can NEVER make an inviting and warm UI.
joshaidan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Looks good. One positive benefit I can see from churches using this is that they won't have to force their members to join Facebook to stay connected.
aaronsnoswell 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great work! This is really cool! My church currently doesn't have a system like this, but is definitely heading this way.
tesmar2 6 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance to change the license to MIT?
jtzhou 6 days ago 0 replies      
Beautifully done. Thanks for selflessly putting all the code online as an excellent use of RoR.
dustin1114 6 days ago 0 replies      
It was refreshing to see something like this on HN. I'll have to look into it. Thanks!
c4urself 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love it, looks really nice! Can't believe you stuck with it for 7 years! Great job.
sjs382 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hah, I'm using the same admin template for a project that I'm working on right now. :)
axpence 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am so impressed with your consistency over the years. Kudos and best of luck.
jscheel 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is great work. I agree, the state of church software is absolutely appalling.
klausjensen 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think you have done a very nice job with the design and clean user interface.
cheald 6 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't dug into it yet, but that UI is really lovely. Really nice work.
jasonkostempski 6 days ago 1 reply      
What exactly makes it specific to churches and not organizations in general?
sbussard 5 days ago 1 reply      
It takes 1GB to run? dude I might have to port this to node
mrbman7 6 days ago 0 replies      
Really slick! I want to get in on the development of this!!
aarongray 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, that looks like some quality stuff. Nice work.
saj1th 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is great news! Keep up the good work.
robertmarley 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks plenty for releasing this!
AgathaTheWitch 5 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool stuff. My mother's church would benefit from using this kind of software. They are a pretty disorganized.

I like seeing labor of love side projects actually turn into something cool and useful.

joeclark77 6 days ago 1 reply      
Have you got a demo site where somebody who's interested can log in and play around with its features? Two feature questions I can't answer by looking at the screenshots: (1) Does it have a way to highlight "Mass times" (or whatever), or is that just thrown into a general calendar with all the other events?(2) Does it have any way for the pastor to post messages to the front page in a prominent way, or is his user account just another user account?

It looks outstanding -- keeping my eye on it.

esaym 6 days ago 0 replies      
Impressive. I might use it!
pvnick 6 days ago 0 replies      
What a cool idea! Great job :)
simpsn 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work, this is awesome.
trevorhinesley 6 days ago 0 replies      
This. is. awesome.
vdaniuk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised about the community response in this thread that is silencing and claiming inappropriateness of criticism. It is strange to see here the glorification of the technological augmentation/support of a most insidious form of marketing -- religion. And this is for a community that slams marketing and advertising as often as it has an opportunity.
ivanca 6 days ago 3 replies      
Is a good software, I'm sure, but 500 points? Is this some sort of communal self-assurance humble-brag about being accepting of "religious software"? Or does everyone just really love ruby CMSs?
tptacek 4 days ago 0 replies      
The majority of the downvotes you received almost certainly came from atheists, given the demographics of HN. You got downvoted because you wrote an uncivil and unproductive comment of a form the guidelines for "Show HN" explicitly ask you not to write; in other words, you got downvoted for writing like a jerk. Don't do that.
lotharbot 6 days ago 1 reply      
From the guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html ):

"Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation."

"Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them."


The sentiment 'religion is bad' is neither civil nor genuinely new/enlightening/informative. Please refrain from making such comments in the future.

beejiu 6 days ago 1 reply      
Would it not have been more efficient to build a plugin for, say, BuddyPress?
Show HN: Markov chains explained visually
1038 points by vicapow  2 days ago   89 comments top 41
jgable 2 days ago 2 replies      
Beautiful. I had seen Markov chains mentioned before, but had not looked them up. Skimming the wikipedia page made sense (it's a state machine with transitions determined by probabilities instead of defined events), but I would not have had an intuitive understanding of why they are useful. The explanation mid-way down about modeling the distribution of sunny and rainy days really made it click for me.
richcuteguy34 2 days ago 1 reply      

Here's a model of chutes and ladder using Markov http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/november12011/index.html

And another for Candylandhttp://www.datagenetics.com/blog/december12011/index.html

cscheid 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is really nice.

Minor nit #1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2meqa8hhen9ztba/Screenshot%202014-... Seems like the graph visualization is sticking to the wrong coordinates (dragging it to the left doesn't help; it moves back to the center)

Minor nit #2. I'd love to see a visualization of the "probability mixing" interpretation of markov chains and stationary distributions, which is what PageRank is really about. That is, it'd be really nice to have a visualization of the fact that Markov chains are ultimately memoryless (it eventually doesn't matter in which state you start for the distribution of events). I think it could be done by exchanging "probabilities conditioned on the past", which is most easily done by multiplying the entire probability vector by the stochastic matrix and visualizing that.

murbard2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now look up Hidden Markov models, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Markov_model

How they can be calibrated in the finite casehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baum%E2%80%93Welch_algorithm

And how they can be evaluated for arbitrary modelshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_filter

itodd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. I have encountered markov chains in my career and always thought of them as a black box. This simple visualization makes it so easy to understand what has previously been so hard for me. Thank you.
tel 2 days ago 1 reply      
The one thing to add to this is that usually each state doesn't emit a single token ("I am in state 1" then "I am in state 2") but instead you assume that each state has a range of possible actions and the likelihood of a choice of action varies with state.

So if might not be that your model is sunny versus rainy but instead cold front v warm front. Since rain is more likely during a cold front your observation of rain increases your belief that the system is in the "cold front" state.

sitk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an absolutely magical and intuitive (not to mention beautiful) way to imagine the complex mathematical concept of a Markov Chain. This is the exact sort of pedagogical tools that MOOCs and other educational software platforms need to build and adopt to bring education into the 21st Century and finally replace traditional teaching methods. How does this compare to what even the best teacher could draw on a whiteboard? Teachers will still play an essential role in the emotional and social development of students, and they can then focus their energy on these things which software probably will struggle to ever replace.
sinwave 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thought I'd point out a little typo. In your table with sliders for adjusting probabilities of state transitions, the P(B|B) probability reads "P(B|A)".

Edit 1: Also, P(A|B) reads "P(A|A)".

Edit 2: Not trying to be too nitpicky, though. It's a really nice visualization. Really excited about the growing use of d3 to visualize algorithms. Is this inspired by Mike Bostock's post by that title?

ajanuary 2 days ago 0 replies      
Presumably in the B row it should read "P(A|B)" and "P(B|B)"
beenpoor 2 days ago 4 replies      
Thank you! I understood what Markov Chains are now. Nicely done and in a simple understandable fashion.

I am also trying to understand what they call Hidden Markov Model (specifically, I just cannot wrap my head around how it gets used in speech. They just look like entirely different things). Would be awesome to see an update with the Hidden MM.

devindotcom 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've seen Markov chains applied to language generation - producing sentences that make sense grammatically but not literally. Anyone know what the connection is here? I think I have an idea but would like to see if it gets independently verified by someone else.
romaniv 2 days ago 0 replies      
dekhn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Back when I was in college (~20 years ago) I was struggling to understand generative models, and I asked my CS professor.

he said, "imagine god is sitting around emitting DNA sequences. She has sevearl 4-sided biased dice, rolls one of the 4-sided die, BAM, emit an A! Again, roll the die, BAM, emit a A! Roll again, BAM, emit a T! Now, imagine god is a fickle person, and between rolls, decides to roll a die to decide which of the biased die to roll.

For some reason, that helped.

saganus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice! I've never had to work with Markov chains but I've read about them and they seem to pop up in lots of places.

Nice and simple and interactive explanation.

jesuslop 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gian Carlo Rota is always a pleasure to quote, despite he knowing it. One from his reminiscence about Jack Schwartz, in his "Indiscrete Thoughts" Book (TL;DR: Markov Chains seen as random maps):

The first lecture by Jack I listened to was given in the spring of 1954 in a seminar in functional analysis. A brilliant array of lecturers had been expounding throughout the spring term on their pet topics. Jack's lecture dealt with stochastic processes. Probability was still a mysterious subject cultivated by a few scattered mathematicians, and the expression "Markov chain" conveyed more than a hint of mystery. Jack started his lecture with the words, "A Markov chain is a generalization of a function." His perfect motivation of the Markov property put the audience at ease. Graduate students and instructors relaxed and followed his every word to the end.

Beuatiful visualizations.

granttimmerman 2 days ago 2 replies      
I created a Markov chain generator: https://gist.github.com/grant/561834963dc526495c45

var numNodes=10;var roundNum=100;var a=[];for(var i=0;i<numNodes;++i){var connections=[];var sum=0;for(var j=0;j<numNodes;++j){var randNum=Math.random()/numNodes;randNum=Math.round(randNumroundNum)/roundNum;connections[j]=randNum;sum+=randNum}connections=connections.map(function(e){var t=e(1/sum);t=Math.round(troundNum)/roundNum;return t});sum=connections.reduce(function(e,t){return e+t});connections[numNodes-1]+=1-sum;connections[numNodes-1]=Math.round(connections[numNodes-1]roundNum)/roundNum;a[i]=connections}console.log(JSON.stringify(a))

Copy and paste the output into the side bar.

vicapow 1 day ago 1 reply      
There was a bug in the playground earlier that I just fixed that allows you to share your Markov chains via the url hash. For example: http://setosa.io/markov/#%7B%22tm%22%3A%5B%5B0.9%2C0.1%2C0%2...
dnautics 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is really great, but could you put in a bit how some transition matrices aren't markov (e.g. [0 1; 1 0]) and the convergence criterion where you can take M^n n->infinity and get the occupancy of the states?
nabeelahmed13 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is at a tangent, but I'm a fresh CS undergrad and this simple explanation really hooked me.

So my question is, where can I find more of this stuff? MOOCs are tough to manage with university, but if I wanted to learn more about these mathematical concepts presented in an interesting way, where should I start looking?

I'm a tad bit indecisive about how good I am with CS theory but I know if I took the leap and mastered some basics I would enjoy it. Any recommendations will help.

bdavisx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great! It would be nice to be able to stop the animations though, they are distracting while you are trying to read the text.

The sunny/rainy probability example is perfect as a scenario.

CharlesMerriam1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice concept; a mvp

Just on first glance:1. first diagram and others, ball jumps from beginning of BtoA arc to B without sliding along the arc.

2. second diagram box was no P(B|B). That is boxes are mislabeled.

3. strange, but arcs are sometimes at an angle. It appears to happen if they are scrolled to, but no if drawn on the initial screen.

4. while the R S on the next diagram does settle to a steady state, it starts with random Rs and Ss marching across at random rates.

Good Start!

vitd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great explanation, but wow, those animations were awful! The movement was great, but the seizure-like jump every time it hit a state was unwatchable. I had to cover them up to get through the text.
lewis500 2 days ago 1 reply      
Man the text is really well written! Am I right, everyone?
elwell 22 hours ago 0 replies      
And where is Temple OS creator's comments? I believe they are markov chains of a sort.
kevinwang 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's pretty cool. The markov chain diagrams seem very similar (identical?) to deterministic finite automota. Would it be correct or incorrect to say that a Markov Chain can be thought of as a DFA where the changes in state are determined by probability?
matthewcanty 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm outta control on this page!

[ [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1], [0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1,0.1]]

lobotryas 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone thought about or attempted to model game AI with Markov Chains instead of decision trees? Ex: NPCs, wildlife or enemies that use Markov Chains to react to their surroundings.
granttimmerman 2 days ago 0 replies      
tigroferoce 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great explanation! Very easy. It could be perfect if you added some easy to understand real life examples to play with.
_nullandnull_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful. What did you use to create the graphics?
Max_Horstmann 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Would love to see this generalized to an interactive visualization of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs).
skriticos2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This totally reminds me of SpaceChem on higher levels (puzzle game for programmers).
_raoulcousins 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can I use this for my class? Creative commons with attribution?
lnkmails 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would not "require" people to know Markov chains but I am usually surprised how many programmers have no idea what it is and how it works and how it can be used. It is a very powerful tool to model queues which is something most distributed systems deal with :).
hyperliner 2 days ago 1 reply      
"For example, the algorithm Google uses to determine the order of search results, called PageRank, is a type of Markov chain."

I had to research that to understand it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

Here is some key text from Wikipedia:

Google recalculates PageRank scores each time it crawls the Web and rebuilds its index. As Google increases the number of documents in its collection, the initial approximation of PageRank decreases for all documents.

The formula uses a model of a random surfer who gets bored after several clicks and switches to a random page. The PageRank value of a page reflects the chance that the random surfer will land on that page by clicking on a link. It can be understood as a Markov chain in which the states are pages, and the transitions, which are all equally probable, are the links between pages.

If a page has no links to other pages, it becomes a sink and therefore terminates the random surfing process. If the random surfer arrives at a sink page, it picks another URL at random and continues surfing again.

chenshu_ivory 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Look so cool! Still hard to understand
lynchdt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, nice work.
suchetchachra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent visualization!
dolom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool: well done!
mrcactu5 2 days ago 0 replies      
can I fork these?
Pinn2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with Markov chains is that they are named after a person, which makes math seem more like a "private club". For instance, why use "abelian group", when "commutative group" will do? The reasons for wanting to be a member of an exclusive group are psychological.
Game about squares
903 points by golergka  4 days ago   192 comments top 64
Sephr 4 days ago 4 replies      
The author is intentionally limiting this app to touch-only for touch-capable users. This breaks the game for anyone wanting to use a touchpad or mouse on their touchscreen laptop.

The offending code (from http://gameaboutsquares.com/game.c.js, beautified):

    (function($) {        try {            document.createEvent("TouchEvent");            return;        } catch (f) {}        var eventMap = {            mousedown : "touchstart",            mouseup : "touchend",            mousemove : "touchmove"        };        // mouse handling code follows
Never do this! Remove the entire try-catch block. There is absolutely no reason for you to be limiting touch-capable users to touch-only.

laxatives 4 days ago 5 replies      
I like the game and that it teaches you the rules as you play without needing any explicit instructions. I thought some of the comments between levels were annoying. Also the little flag in the corner indicating you're over the correct target could be a little easier to see at a glance.

Just curious, how do you design these levels? Work backwards from the solution?

edit: I'm a little further in, and I'm starting to think the annoying comment thing is on purpose...

CyberShadow 3 days ago 3 replies      
Solver and solutions:


The solver uses BFS with delayed duplicate detection for pruning visited states (instead of, say, hash tables).

The DDD part can be summed up in two lines of code:

    prevStates = (prevStates ~ states).sort.uniq.array();    states = nextStates.sort.uniq.setDifference(prevStates).array();    // ... expand states into nextStates ...
These were part of the solver's code at one point, although now I've expanded them a bit to improve memory efficiency.

I love D.

ardemue 4 days ago 4 replies      
Really liked the game, but I'm colorblind and it blocked me on level 20: I can't tell which square should go on which circle ( http://imgur.com/CX7XWJ4 ). I genuinely played that level as if the two bottom squares were the same. Maybe you could add another differentiator, like a different shape.
ashishbharthi 4 days ago 2 replies      
Advice to author. Create iOS and Android versions of games ASAP. You are just hours away from getting cloned on app stores.
malvim 4 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful, polished, fun! Contrary to most people here, I actually like the comments between levels, and the "no instructions" policy just made it better. I wish more games were like this.

Nicely done, I have no negative comments to make. I'd totally pay for this.

Monkeyget 4 days ago 2 replies      
tobias2014 4 days ago 2 replies      
It should be possible to write a solver for this with a "decision tree". There are decisions where the blocks run out of the screen - you ignore these. You only take into account "sensible" decisions (this has to be formalized). When there are multiple possible "sensible" decisions you branch. One decision consists of an action "click x times on block X and y times on block Y "
agumonkey 4 days ago 1 reply      
Suggestion : add keybindings. I'm spoiled by 2048 I want direct repeated manipulation at my finger tips. :)
Thiz 4 days ago 2 replies      
I love this kind of games. Reminds me of good ol' Sokoban.

Where are the mobile versions? I'd like to play it in my iPad.


k_os 4 days ago 3 replies      
From level 25 forward ( minus 26, spirals seem to be easy to simulate for my brain ) it's a fascinating example of how your subconscious bruteforces.. I managed to finish 25 and 27 but I honestly have no idea how I did it and if I had to do it again it'd take a while.

I was wondering, for you guys out there that went past 25, were you able to visualise how the puzzle worked and plan out the moves or did you try different stuff until you got in a situation that seemed solvable and then baffled at the realization that you actually did it?

macu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool concept, not a fan of the pointless commentary after the premise was clear (took two seconds to figure out).
lifeformed 4 days ago 0 replies      
My strategy with the harder levels was to divide it into 2 parts:

1) Ignore the colors and just figure out how to get the pieces on the goal squares (working backwards helps a lot).

2) Find a cyclical part of the puzzle that lets you swap the order of tiles.

Then you just look for any color-agnostic states in Part 2 that overlap with Part 1.

wubbfindel 1 day ago 0 replies      
psawaya 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I'm especially impressed with how the game teaches its own mechanics without ever spelling anything out.
coder23 4 days ago 1 reply      
I gave up on level 28. Solving it would require pen and paper or some serious thought. The difficulty curve is excellent.
PeterWhittaker 4 days ago 1 reply      
With cookies disabled, it tells me I have an "old and rusty" browser. How odd.

(FF 31 on OSX, why do you ask?)

fernandotakai 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm quite impressed that this works really well on firefox for android. really smooth and the interface is great.
edymax 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like that game and enjoying finally it on my mobile https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.funlab.squ...
devilsbabe 4 days ago 3 replies      
Not working with the mouse on chrome 36. My laptop has a touch screen though and that's working
joshdance 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool game. When I saw so many points I immediately thought of 2048 but it is not that kind of game. But I like the clean look, the fun premise and the slightly snarky comments. :)
remon 4 days ago 1 reply      
A very promising start and I'm very much in favor of the "randomly click to learn" approach to teaching the game rules. Can do without the comments between levels though.
maxtheman 3 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking for puzzlers of similar difficulty to levels 30-35, I HIGHLY recommend "English Country Tune" (http://www.englishcountrytune.com/). It will turn your brain inside-out.
klackerz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finished the game after some two-three hours. The last level and the 31st level were the most difficult for me. I know that the statistics page that no identifying information is showed but it would have been interesting to see some individual stats.


luigisayshello 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm stuck on the freaking 35, I just want to finish this and go eat something, any tip for the level?
maccard 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a glorious example of how to design a tutorial in a game without bombarding the user with piles of text! Love it!
outrightfree 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great game. Was it inspired by the telescope game that was on the Dyson (vacuum cleaner) website a few years ago? Seems to be gone from the dyson site now, but I've linked to a copy in a separate submission [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8092648

RevRal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Since I'm rather arrogant it would be nice to be able to easily compare my clicks against the statistics.
thret 4 days ago 0 replies      
This game is fun, and cute, I like it.

One problem with puzzles of this type though, the structure of the problem leads to the solution. If you simply play with the mechanism for re-ordering boxes, you can 'brute force' the solution fairly easily.

ugdev 4 days ago 2 replies      
Level 15 drives me nuts
bbayer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the idea and design. I also made a game [1] about squares some time ago.

[1] : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/swap-boxes/id753811885?mt=8

manicmonad 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very enjoyable! Loved the interstitial comments' specialty-barista-like attitude.
prezjordan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Add sound, throw this in a PhoneGap container, and take my $2.99.
uxwtf 4 days ago 2 replies      
Don Quichot spinning effect (level 29) is too much for my eyes...
JeremyMartinez_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please add a window where it shows you number of clicks. And if you are revisiting a level, add your previous record
netcraft 4 days ago 1 reply      
I might be dense, but all I see is a square with a triangle in it and a circle, and can't seem to make it do anything. It is throwing a 408 timeout though, so maybe its just under load?
sowhatquestion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else stuck on level 24? Halp!

Edit: I know this is a terrible comment that contributes nothing, please don't downvote it just for that... :3

ryanknapp 4 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing game, loved the stack on level 21. Made it to level 26, will have to come back and play more later. Go sell it on an app store and make some money for your time.
marxshrugged 3 days ago 0 replies      
Level 20 now. I'm a little bit color blind and 2 of the squares look exactly the same. Higher contrast between colors would be apreciated.
poopsintub 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice job. I will love seeing this type of game over-run the play store compared to something like 100 falling balls.
zwegner 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tiny bug report: after clicking on the levels and going back to level 0, all of the buttons on the sides disappear.
amenghra 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cool. Reminds me of Boxxle / Sokoban, but adapted for touch screens.

It's PSPACE to solve, right?

hamai 4 days ago 0 replies      
Simple and engaging. Nice graphics engine.
Ardeof 4 days ago 0 replies      
Decided to stop/stuck too long (around 5 minutes) at Level 21, which is pretty disappointing for me.
joallard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't click or interact with anything on Firefox 33a. Just an unresponsive start screen.
wcy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice game! I keep wanting to call it "Game Of Squares" :)
aerovistae 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm stuck on level 3, help please? I seem to be missing something re: controls.
michaelochurch 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a really elegant game. Kudos to the designer. It's quite admirable. It has a life/death property like Go: the game seems to be about recognizing which configurations are dead and avoiding them.
MWil 4 days ago 2 replies      
I liked the game until I came here and felt like an idiiot for being stuck at 10
b2themax 4 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoy the game. I just wish it wouldn't talk to me so much.
Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice simple game. Yet annoyingly unresponsive after level restart.
akbarnama 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an idea! Simple but challenging and so much fun!!
hamidr 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would definitely pay for its android app :P
harpal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent game. So much fun and very addictive.
drydot 3 days ago 1 reply      
excelent addictive game, btw, what is the trick in level 15 ? i can't go beyond
redgetan 3 days ago 0 replies      
this reminds me of Vagrant Story puzzles where you have to move box crates into the right places.
geuis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool game. The browser interface keeps appearing in ios7 Safari. Add this meta tag.

<meta name="viewport" content="minimal-ui">

Gracana 4 days ago 1 reply      
But it is! Try stacking the red and dark blue colors up in order and pushing them with the light blue block.

I got stuck on 21, and that's enough for me for now. Good puzzle game!

Kiro 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think this is the next Flappy Birds or 2048. It's just not casual enough.
pawelkomarnicki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice game :-)
ndds 4 days ago 0 replies      
I win:window.GAMEABOUTSQUARES.Interface.completeLvl()
egong82 4 days ago 0 replies      
pseudometa 4 days ago 6 replies      
And go! Tomorrow this game in full will appear on the Google Play store with the exact same colors. In 3 days this game will be rewritten in Swift, Erlang, and have a community based variation. In 4 days someone will find a way to merge this game with 2048 and Flappy Bird. In a week there will be 20 variations of this game including one called Dodge Squares on the iTunes App Store. I'm not psychic, I've just seen this script before.
dbg31415 3 days ago 0 replies      
The game sucks on a laptop.
740 points by gdb  10 hours ago   376 comments top 81
jxf 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I was able to successfully sign up and get 5,000 STR, so that worked for me at least. But then I started looking a little deeper into the blog post.

> Development is led by Jed McCaleb and Dr. David Mazieres in collaboration with a small team of others. (The technology is based on the open-source Ripple project, originally created by Jed a few years ago.)

So, is Stellar fundamentally the same thing as and/or a fork of Ripple? They've hired the same guy who started Ripple (Jed McCaleb), and as I recall there were a lot of concerns around that, as noted in a WSJ article [0] and other places. Jed is also on the Stellar board, too, one of only three members -- and so wields a considerable amount of influence.

If so, then doesn't it have all the same problems and concerns as Ripple? Centralized authority holding a large chunk of initial funds, questionable governance decisions, etc., just to name a few of the political problems, not just the technical ones.

I'd love to see the "IP layer for currency" described by Stripe succeed, but I'm not sure that this implementation of it represents a good idea. And I'm also concerned about whether Jed, the cofounder of both MtGox and Ripple, has the best interests of Stellar at heart.

[0] http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/05/22/ripple-alternative...

techtivist 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems to me Stellar (the organization) will be "the Central Bank" a la Bank for International Settlements at the global level or Federal Reserve for Stellar (the cryptocurrency).

This is what makes me uncomfortable. The biggest point about cryptocurrencies is that they are not centralized. In that sense Stellar seems a lot worse than regular currency. With a regular currency, at least the respective Central Bank or other monetary regulatory authority has credibility and accountability in the sense that they are indirectly elected by citizens as they are selected by the elected government. As such they have to have a history of integrity and monetary experience, and can be removed if they act unethically.

Stellar's board, on the other hand, is self-elected, and with all due respect, don't need to have the level of accountability or have the credibility of running such an organization, which even if it owns "just 5%" (+2% of Stripe's) of the currency can potentially have substantial control over it. And being a non-profit doesn't add a stamp of either, means little.

olouv 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The password recovery scheme is so poorly designed, that's borderline scary: You can't use the recovery code sent by email after registration without validating your email first (but since you have the code, your email is obviously valid)... which requires you to login (but if you don't have your password, well, you can't log in)... Great!... one lost account for me.
voronoff 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone else concerned that there seems to be a permanent confirmation code for resetting pw sent in plain text over email?

"Keep this code SAFE. Anyone with this code and your username can gain access to your account"

Where I'm from, that is a password.

pmorici 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This kind of looks like a re-branding of Ripple. Ripple had a lot of image issues after one of the founders quit accusing the company of unethical behavior. Kind of unfortunate that Stripe would through their weight behind Ripple in any way.
lnanek2 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Pretty strange how Stellar is paying people to sign up with Facebook. Facebook is very centralized. These modern currencies are very decentralized. I don't mind myself, but it seems like paying someone to sign up with the enemy...
danielweber 8 hours ago 2 replies      
David Mazires wrote one of my favorite papers ever, "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List"http://www.scs.stanford.edu/~dm/home/papers/ July 2005
eridius 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Site seems to have broken. It never finished connecting to Facebook, and now when I go to the dashboard the steps are missing entirely. When I go to Settings and try and enable password recovery I get "Server error". In the Console it says it got a 502 from api.stellar.org.

That's in Chrome. In Safari, I don't even get a response to clicking on a settings toggle. Merely loading the dashboard gives me a CORS error.

borski 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome idea, and we want to help support it.

To that end: how do we disclose a security vulnerability? Is there a PGP key posted, or some other system for us to do that?

loupeabody 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Agh, the Stellar client requires a Facebook login to get a share of the initial batch. :/
peter_l_downs 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Tried signing up but after a minute of waiting I was told my username was already taken. Then, I received an email saying I successfully signed up (with that same username), with a broken link to "forums.stellar.org". Managed to visit "forum.stellar.org" without an issue. I think you may have launched a little soon...

EDIT: now unable to log in with my username and password combination.

david_arcos 9 hours ago 1 reply      
> We are currently using Facebook as a verification method to avoid spam but hope to add other methods soon. We will not post on your Facebook.

Mandatory connect to Facebook? No, thanks.

scottmp10 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a Bitcoin-like, distributed, secure payment system WITH a federated protocol for gateways/exchanges. A federated exchange network allows anyone to participate, similar to email servers. But since trust is so much more important in this case, I think that network effects will result in a relatively small set of gateways that anyone will actually interact with.
tomasien 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else having trouble with the client? My whole team is trying to sign up and are having a myriad of issues, but I can't submit to the forum because my username and password keep not working even when I make new ones.
rdl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm really excited about this (I talked to Jed a few months ago, before joining CloudFlare).

I think there will need to be a strong client wallet, rather than just the web client, but that's obvious, and the web client was an easy place to start.

I'd really like to see how one would integrate chaumian blinded tokens into this. I may be an outlier in thinking unlinkability and anonymity are critical for "real currencies" over time, but I think recent events have shown this to be correct.

I liked Ripple 1.0; Ripple-of-today not as much, so since this seems to be basically Ripple 1.0 plus some lessons learned, it should be interesting.

GigabyteCoin 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So after giving them access to my facebook account I was told "Your Facebook account is too new to qualify. Stay tuned for new ways to grab stellars."

How unfortunate. And strange seeing as the account is many years old.

rjsamson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I posted this on the support forum as well, but myself and at least one other user have had this problem: I created an account, but it timed out and never took me to the next page, however I received the two confirmation emails (including the pw recovery code). When I try to log in though, I get invalid username or password, and the password recovery code is useless. So it looks like it's possible to create an account which is completely inaccessible.

EDIT: Looks like more folks are reporting the same issue.

ISL 9 hours ago 1 reply      
jakewalker 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a great sign up experience - I signed up and linked my Facebook account. Then, I went to click on the link to confirm my e-mail address (from the confirmation e-mail) and got logged out. Now, my login isn't working, nor is password recovery. Impossible to figure out whether I mistyped my username or there is some other issue, and no "Forgot My Username"-type feature to be able to make sure.
kzanul 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Was wondering what was going to come following the post on Bitcoin as an IP layer. This is great stuff - looking forward to seeing how it evolves.
Titanous 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting, this looks like a fork of Ripple (and is by an original creator of Ripple).
k2enemy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm anxious to try it out, but don't have a Facebook account needed to get the seed currency.
GregorStocks 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I registered for this and got 5,000.999999 Stellars. Kinda curious about the 0.999999 part...
tlrobinson 8 hours ago 2 replies      
"The network has been initialized with a supply of 100 billion stellars. 5% will be used to fund operations of the nonprofit (its spending, including employee compensation, will be public), and the remaining 95% of the stellars will be distributed for free as quickly as we can manage."

IIRC Ripple's founders (including Jed) kept about 20% of XRP, and Ripple Labs kept about 25%, so only 5% is a lot better, but it's still a very centralized solution to distribution.

I do like that they're distributing 20% of the Stellars to BTC (and XRP) holders, though: https://www.stellar.org/about/mandate/#Bitcoin_program

StavrosK 9 hours ago 1 reply      
No mining, instant confirmations, inflation rather than deflation? Interesting.
samirmenon 9 hours ago 4 replies      
It says my Facebook account is "too new" to get Stellars.... I've had it for over 3 months. What's the reasoning?
fela 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Something weird seems to be going on: at first I didn't get any compensation for making my first transaction, then I got 1000 STR from StellarFoundation 34 times. Now my account has 39000 STR in it...
anuragbiyani 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ref: https://www.stellar.org/about/mandate/#Bitcoin_program

Will the date for snapshotting the Bitcoin blockchain be publicized in advance ?

shawndrost 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Bug report: I was unable to get the 5000 initial coins. (The facebook auth failed twice, so I reloaded the page -- and was then unable to find the "free coins" page.)
abiekatz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What are the key differences between Stellar and Ripple?
AnthonyMouse 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I have to assume that becoming a gateway requires navigating the Byzantine Hellscape of multinational financial and banking regulations. Have they discovered some non-obvious way to avoid this or are the gateways expected to be run primarily by existing financial institutions?
neilni 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I have 'Connecting...' on the main screen, so I cannot send out anything. Possibly a bug? And every time I log out, I have to sign in again.
encoderer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I'm impressed that Stripe is that well capitalized. It's an awesome service, way to go guys.
lifeeth_ 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This just reminds me of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawala and nothing else.
aaron987 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The fact that this solves some of the problems of cryptocurrency, and the fact that Stripe is behind it, give me a very good feeling about this. To have the clout offered by Stripe while still being open source is very powerful, and I think it is what the cryptocurrency world has needed.
fuddle 7 hours ago 0 replies      
0.625% will be granted to employees for 4 years. Does this mean they won't be paid after 4 years? Also can you elaborate on how the 0.625% will be divided between developers & founders?
xmodem 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> Each week, the network will identify the winners. The winners are the 50 top voted for accounts that also received at last 1.5% of the vote. If no account has over 1.5% of the vote, then the top 50 accounts voted for are considered the winners. That weeks new stellars are then distributed pro-rata to the winners.

So does this mean that if one account has 5% of the vote and all remaining accounts have under 1.5%, that account will receive all of the inflation-creates Stellars?

corford 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Too early to tell if Stella will work but their intentions appear good and the underlying concept solid. Was very surprised though that there isn't a single advisor to the board who's career has been in finance or banking.

Seems to me that stella will only work and achieve broad adoption if the network has solid gateways operated by entities people already know and trust. Who do most people trust with their money? Existing banks and other well known exchange/trading platforms (xe.com / etrade / western union). If you want these institutions to start operating stella gateways, surely it would be a good idea to have an advisor to the board that's from that world, well connected and understands it intimately?

ankurpatel 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Curious how much do people think one Stellar is worth? Or will be in future?
mintplant2 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The "Connect with Facebook" button on Stellar's dashboard appears to be broken, or at least for me, anyway. Clicking it results in a "Loading..." message that never seems to go away.
philipDS 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting. I always thought of Ripple as semi-scam, but I can see Stellar become a thing (be huge, actually), backed by Stripe and hopefully others soon enough.

Question.. how is the password used to decrypt the secret key? Which encryption algorithm is used? Can anyone technically explain?

0x0 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like the emails coming from stellar are delivered from an SMTP origin "mailgun.info" which uses an invalid client certificate; I'm getting errors:

SSL_accept error from mail-182-5.mailgun.info[]: 0warning: TLS library problem: XXX:error:XXX:SSL routines:SSL3_READ_BYTES:sslv3 alert bad certificate:s3_pkt.c:1258:SSL alert number 42:

At least they retry without SSL aftwards, and manage to deliver the emails.

Ecio78 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Registered, verified with FB, it says I'm in the queue and I should receive my Stellar tomorrow. On the other hand verifying the email with the code received raises an error saying that I need to login before via FB (and I did it). Maybe it expects to see before the Stellar gained via FB login before releasing the other 1000
anuragbiyani 6 hours ago 1 reply      

How does that work for someone who has bitcoins in an e-wallet, like Coinbase ?

joshAg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
who is their economist/fiscal policy/monetary policy adviser? I looked on the website and there doesn't seem to be anyone with this background amongst the advisers, board, or employees.
mystik 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens when the limit is reached? 100,000,000,000/7,000 is "just" 15 millions accounts
ericb 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I get what bitcoin is.

Can someone help me with what stellar is, and why it is better than, or a complement to, bitcoin or the traditional system?

murbard2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Who is running the consensus nodes? Will people choose their consensus node, and if so can you guarantee an overlap? Are the nodes maintaining a state or a full, auditable, ledger?
wyager 9 hours ago 2 replies      
100% pre-mined? No thanks.

People complain about the distribution of Bitcoin being imbalanced. This is 100x worse.

coppolaemilio 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Damn, my open source project was named Stellar way before! http://stellar.evelend.com/
ajgrover 8 hours ago 0 replies      
just FYI - none of the sliders on the settings page work for me. The first one gives me a "Server Error" tooltip and the other 2 just do nothing.

Also, I linked my Facebook and didn't get any indication of whether it worked or not. Now when I log in I have 0 stellars and the welcome panel doesn't show up. did this happen to anyone else?

miralabs 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone give an insight to why they decided to have the stellars pre mined? Wouldn't that make stellars not valuable...
tomasien 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone interested in setting up instant funding for Stellar with ACH, let me know. We've started doing it with some Ripple Gateways and would love to work with Stellar.

tommy at knoxpayments dot com

workingBen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I received 4000+1000=5,000 Stellar. I sent 1,000 to another user. I have 3,999 Stellar remaining. What happened to my extra Stellar?
AndrewDucker 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, so now they're promising me my free stellars "tomorrow".

Which is fine in one way - feel free to take your time handing me my free stuff. On the other hand, it doesn't give me much faith they can scale to the mass market...

fragsworth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is trustless validation a thing in this system? How do they do it, I can't find any technical details.
Flavius 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There seems to be a session bug. I have to log in again every time I refresh the page. Of course, the page is updated automatically so the refresh is probably unnecessary, but the session bug is still there. :)
Procrastes 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Invalid Recovery Code" when I attempt to use the code sent via email.
waterlesscloud 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I got an email invite, curious where they harvested my address from.
alagappanr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The irony is that the emails from Stellar have been marked as spam. PS: I use live.com
deergus 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Support us engineers and send 1000 stellars to 'git' :).
IgorPartola 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So why no two factor auth right off the bat?
lazyant 8 hours ago 1 reply      
connected with FB and not sure if I verified my email, I get some "server errors" and logouts and can't change my settings
ernestipark 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty excited for what comes of this. For devs reading, auth doesn't seem to be persistent - if I refresh I get logged out.
opendais 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very exciting if it pans out. An interchange layer for money that isn't controlled by the incumbent organizations could enable all sorts of interesting innovations. <3
rwinn 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Seems off that they give you 5000 "stellars" to access your Facebook friends list and photos...
Danieru 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah... I'm not giving my phone number to Facebook...
riffraff 8 hours ago 0 replies      
how and why would stripe value 2% of the stellar at 3M$ ?
jscheel 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Came here to say, "that looks an awful lot like Ripple." Looks like I am in good company :)
waitingkuo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious about why my balance becomes 6000.
pc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes; it's because your wallet is decrypted by the client and your password is never sent to the server.
michaelmcmillan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I just created a subreddit for further discussion: http://www.reddit.com/r/thestellar
PabloOsinaga 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Who will sell me their 7,000 stellars for $10 ?
sjg007 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea. This is going to be huge.
kolev 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As it seems, the future of Bitcoin is Ripple.
simpixelated 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like it was pre-mined. They are giving away up to 6k if you connect your Facebook and verify your email.

"One key difference is that 95% of the currency is being given away for free at the outset, the bulk of it from an initial issuance of 100 billion coins created by the not-for-profit foundation that will run the project. New coins will be later added at no cost to the circulation at a rate of 1% per year."


thescorer 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Quick, everyone send me their stellar: troypayne
rxaxm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
lol refresh logs you out!
jqueryin 9 hours ago 19 replies      
Feel free to send me 1000 stellar in step 4 of the signup process. Username: corey. Had to be the first to ask :) Thanks in advance!
desireco42 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Feel free to send me 1000 stellar in step 4 of the signup process. Username zeljko. Comment so I can give you some good karma. Thank you! (btw credit to corey for coming up with this)
omghi2u 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Your site isn't ready to be launched when you try to hurd people through Facebook auth, after registering my email, and then it doesn't even work....
Choose hotels by the quality of their WiFi
671 points by gozmike  7 days ago   237 comments top 53
danielpal 7 days ago 11 replies      
One thing that I noticed, is that the more expensive the hotel, the worst is the WiFI. Same applies when I have to pay for WiFI - the more I pay, the worst it is.

I've found that 3 star hotels that offer free WiFI usually have the best speeds/service. Whereas 5 star hotels that usually charge $14.95 daily have the worst.

TimJRobinson 6 days ago 3 replies      
Tip for travellers: Learn how to set a static IP address on your devices. I've been travelling through South East asia for the last 3 months and at about 20 - 30% of the hotels I stay at the WiFi works fine but their DHCP does not. I presume this is because most routers in default config cache IP address for clients and when they run out of free IP address they just fail to assign new ones to new clients. If you notice the wifi works but your computer or phone times out when connecting set your ip settings as below:

IP Address: 192.168.1.xxx (xxx being between 50 - 200)Netmask:

This has worked for me in 90% of cases and you get your own private WiFi (as none of the other guests can access it ;)). There was one place I stayed at in hanoi where I got my own 90Mbps / 40Mbps connection due to nobody else being able to get on.

Sometimes the ip is 192.168.0.xxx and on rare occasions it's been 10.0.0.xxx.

I've tried to help hotels fix this issue as I go but it seems most either get some tech to setup their router or plug it in and keep the default settings (sooo many places have 'admin' as their router password) and don't know how to fix it.

bduerst 7 days ago 6 replies      
I used to do consulting and traveled 100%. The term "High Speed Internet" is a common misnomer with Hotels, and was a bane of my existence, because it typically meant > 56k but < 1 Mbps speeds.

These were with Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton hotels, mind you. If aggregaters like Hipmunk could incorporate this speed data, the way that they have with in-flight wifi, then hopefully there will be a push to improve this standard.

wwweston 7 days ago 1 reply      
While we're at it, can we also choose them by the actual things that let you get a good night's sleep -- whether the beds are not only nice enough but fit your preferences, whether the rooms are acoustically isolated enough you can't hear your neighbors walking (or watching TV or talking or getting busy), whether the temperature controls of the room work efficiently, and whether the room doesn't smell offensive.

Right now, hotel ratings are completely broken for personal bed comfort (I find I'm slightly more likely get a decent night's sleep at a Motel 6 than at a Fairfield, because I'm more likely to find memory foam beds at the latter -- yes, I know they're great for some people, but they're absolutely horrible for anyone who doesn't sleep well when warm and wants something more supportive than conforming).

There's some correlation between ratings and the other things (and it's nice to see more hotels going smoke free), but it's by no means certain.

I'd love to see a rating of internet reliability, but I can get internet in other ways if I need to. If I'm paying for a room for the night, there's no other way for me to sleep, and my experience is that it's generally a crapshoot as to whether I'm going to get a good night's sleep or not.

janjongboom 7 days ago 5 replies      
While the WiFi in most hotels is horrendous, wired internet is pretty awesome most of the time. A network cable is always in my suitcase and my laptop can run as an access point for my other devices. A separate access point could also come in handy (you have very small ones nowadays).

During JSDay.it people had a lot of time even connecting to the WiFi while I was running at 80 mbps.

alwaysdoit 7 days ago 4 replies      
I'd like latency as well as speed. A lot of hotels I have been to have really high ping times.
pud 7 days ago 1 reply      
Sometimes wifi is great in one room, but the signal doesn't reach another room. I HAVE A DREAM that, one day, people review the wifi of different rooms in the same hotel.

I'm so glad someone built this. I've been wanting it (or to build it) forever.

Even if I'm not picking up the tab, I'd rather stay at a crappy hotel with great wifi--vs a Four Seasons with crappy wifi.

Hopefully hotels realize this and start competing on wifi quality.

sveiss 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really more interested in packet loss/reliability than speeds when I'm in a hotel. 5Mbps, 50Mbps, or 500Mbps, all are fine if they work reliabily. When they don't, they're all equally bad. Trying to use Skype or SSH in the evenings in a hotel is frequently a horrible experience.
cpr 7 days ago 1 reply      
The potential downfall of general measurements like this is large conferences like WWDC, where if there's a geek in every room, the whole-hotel performance is going to suffer unless they've provisioned massive peak bandwidth.

(Thinking of the Marriott near Moscone.)

benzesandbetter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! I've wanted something like this for a while. Glad someone built it.

Seems like ping time is missing, which is critical to me. Also, would be great to have some measure of ping/speed/reliability over time, either via repeated automated testing or guest ratings.

I've often stayed at places which had decent speed, but unserviceable ping times, which is really a buzzkill for VoIP and online meetings.

Another issue is wifi that is fast, but unreliable. I've experienced a lot of that since moving to Brazil; Internet that just goes missing at intervals too regular to ignore.

Would be interesting if a widely-used service like speedtest.net would enable some tagging of IP addresses to pool results, so you could see the aggregated results for a given hotel over time.

andyv88 7 days ago 1 reply      
Someone should really make an 'Airbnb' for High Speed Internet Connections around the world. Hotels, universities, internet cafes, business centres - a lot of businesses would pay to find high speed internet locations around the world for business trips
mdellabitta 7 days ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to cross-correlate this with bedbug reports.
paines 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is heavily dependend on your hardware. In June I visited Australia, and technically speaking it was a nightmare using an iPhone5 (Greyhound Buses worked 80% of the time, Hostels like 30%). All Android users had a much better Wifi experience. Now back here in Berlin I see the same trend. I started a new job and I am staying each week in a different hotel. I just got an Nexus 5, and when I compare it next to my iPhone 5 in the same place, most of the time Android can connect to the Wifi, why the iPhone5 can't. Speed of course is a complete different story. I am wondering if this is an iPhone5 or iOS issue in general.
bjornsing 7 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another one: http://speedspot.org/
ejr 7 days ago 0 replies      
The key measure we should all be paying attention is "Confidence".

Ex: Some of the hotels in New York show very high speeds, but also "Confidence: 9.2%".

  Confidence value shows how thoroughly the WiFi has been tested at this hotel.   The confidence value depends on several factors, including the number of   speed tests taken, how recently the tests occurred, and the diversity of tests   in terms of the time of day, day of the week, and point within the travel season.

DigitalSea 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant. As a developer, whenever I have to travel somewhere, a decent connection for moving files around is paramount. You often see, "High Speed Internet" being advertised at most hotels, it is usually anything but high speed.

Speed is a crucial factor for me when staying somewhere. Nice hotels seem to focus on the service and aesthetics, but the poor old Wifi connection gets left behind.

cnst 7 days ago 1 reply      
I used to be fond of requiring high speed internet access in the hotels.

I gave up, upgraded to Unlimited 4G on my T-Mobile line, and don't worry about these things anymore. Problem solved! :-)

Unfortunately, you're very unlikely to be getting decent speeds and latency at the hotels, and most managers don't even care.

r00fus 7 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a tough thing to accurately score - you have issues of coverage (do certain floors or the lobby have coverage vs. the rooms), dropped connections, over subscriptions at peak times, inconvenience of re-entering user info, etc.
spacefight 7 days ago 0 replies      
Also don't forget to establish a VPN connection. This might sometimes even help with slow running DNS resolvers in place over DHCP and it helps for sure to protect both your surfing habits and your unencrypted traffic.
pjbrunet 7 days ago 1 reply      
Good reason to get a Clear hotspot, no more looking for the working WIFI connection, or cafe password, or trying to get the "I agree" TOS page to load. (PS: I'm not invested in Clear, have no affiliation.)
wahsd 7 days ago 2 replies      
I hope this catches on and it can be used to shame and blame hotel chains. I can't recall a single instance where hotel wifi, let alone wire, as even remotely fast.

These hotels normally charge $20-50 per day of internet and they provide shitty service. It drive me mad. I have learned that you can complain and get some significant bonus points out of it. I wish more people complained about the internet service in order to push for faster speeds and better latency, let alone not having your connection drop.

JohnTHaller 6 days ago 0 replies      
Better tip: Just bring your own hotspot. If you're a frequent traveler, your life will be SO much better. If you're not a frequent traveler, using the hotspot feature on your phone and paying for it just that month (if you don't already) is often faster and cheaper than a couple days of hotel paid wifi.

Hotel wifi is spotty and incredibly insecure compared to a wireless hotspot.

jonknee 7 days ago 0 replies      
Between shoddy quality and security, I just tether to LTE. That means no Netflix, but Netflix usually runs especially poorly at hotels anyway.
cblock811 7 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work in the hotel industry in everything from Doubletree up to Ritz Carlton. Wifi was one of the most frustrating amenities we offered because it was always terrible! As an avid traveler who probably spends too much time on his computer I got annoyed as a guest as well. Cheers to the people behind this website. I'm sharing it with everyone from my old industry.
mandeepj 7 days ago 0 replies      
If I experience trouble with WiFi during my stay at a hotel then I just connect to internet using hotspot created from my android phone. I understand not everyone have android phone.

Anyway, we are in a hotel for couple hours only. Rest of time either we are sleeping or we are outside either working or enjoying our vacation.

jusben1369 7 days ago 1 reply      
With the increasing amount of bandwidth (in US plans anyways) I wonder if the days of hotel WiFI is short lived anyways. We'll all be hotspotting it soon if we aren't already. Maybe if you are staying somewhere longer than a week and doing a lot of work in your room....but that seems like a small subset.
CSMastermind 6 days ago 0 replies      
Watch out for the hotels where people report 30-40 mps. People are getting those speeds when there's no one else on the network. Which is awesome until you have a full house and no per-user cap, then it will be unusable for most guests
msoad 7 days ago 0 replies      
I gave up on public WiFis on Starbucks and hotels years ago. I pay for LTE and I'm pretty happy with it. I pay $120 for two lines and 10GB data. For me it's reasonable and I never hit 10GB limit.

For people who travel a lot this website is a great resource.

kudu 7 days ago 2 replies      
Seems nice, although I have a 60Mbps line at home, and am only getting 30-40 Mbps on the speed test.
passive 6 days ago 0 replies      
Based on a stay two weeks ago, I've been craving just such a service. Their reports match what I experienced, at least on the negative end. Now I just have to convince our travel agent to use this for future bookings. :)
adamonduty 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I could add some comments while submitting the speed test. The wifi in my hotel is free, but the speed I'm receiving is only obtainable by using a code provided by the front desk. The normal speeds are quite a bit slower.
cpfohl 7 days ago 1 reply      
Tried typing "Boston" and nothing in the UI changed. Looks like it's 500-ing.
brokentone 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's hard enough to use availability of free wifi as a booking filter, let alone quality. Wonder if there isn't space for an independent filtering service -- taking the listings from elsewhere and simply sorting by your own criteria.
itazula 7 days ago 0 replies      
A number of older hotels have decent wired connections. Otherwise, if both the wired and the WiFi is bad or non-existent, I use my personal router (WiMAX) and connect that way. My phone is good option too.
elwell 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in a hotel right now, so I did the test feature. I must say I'm impressed. A couple clicks and it correctly found the right hotel instantly and did the test seamlessly. Bravo.
namDa 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope network infrastructure gets advances more quickly so hotels with lower speeds will realize they have fallen behind.
r00fus 7 days ago 0 replies      
Why are the confidence% so low across the board?
andor 7 days ago 0 replies      
What are the estimations based on? Apparently not on price, hotel category or an interpolation between other close hotels.
Robadob 7 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if the nightly rate were either localised to the currency local to the hotel or of the visiting ip.
thatben 7 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another idea I had and then assumed someone would get done. Just need to promote it (and I'll use it)!
_asciiker_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, is there an API? ...I still remember paying $10 per 30 minutes of Wifi at the Ghana Airport
GordeHead 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well, the quality of service here is actually non-existent seeing as how the entire WiFi protocol is still vulnerable to interception, interruption within milliseconds.

So, the word "quality" wouldn't necessarily be the word to identify the current capabilities of any wireless network using the standard protocol suite available to the user today.

spullara 7 days ago 0 replies      
I tried to submit a support request to add the hotel I am sitting in and it got a CSRF error...
csours 7 days ago 0 replies      
I would much rather choose a hotel on the basis of their A/C and air quality.
t4s0thcmdr 7 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer to choose hotels by the amount of bedbugs in the TripAdvisor reviews.
joshmn 7 days ago 1 reply      
Was considering doing this for all wifi networks. I have an API built in Rails for it if anyone wants it (100k+ public wifi hotspots, such as coffee shops, restaurants, etc), shoot me an email: josh@josh.mn
mark_lee 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any hotels should make wifi free and good as TV.
mark_lee 6 days ago 0 replies      
sometimes I'm really desperate to internet speed of those hotels, I wonder those hotel managers still live in the 90's.
keerthiko 6 days ago 0 replies      
These needs to also be integrated with AirBnB
Cowicide 7 days ago 2 replies      
Would like to see this for coffee shops.
known 6 days ago 0 replies      
walruscop 6 days ago 0 replies      
icantthinkofone 7 days ago 1 reply      
My wife checked us into the Sheraton in Tulsa (or was it Oklahoma City?) on the return leg of our wide circle trip out west and she turned to me and asked if I wanted to pay $10 for internet access. I almost exploded. One of the managers tried to tell me the reason they charged for it was to be up front about the costs of services they provided cause they were a "full service hotel". If I wasn't so tired, I would have asked if they also charged for soap.

The managers in the morning just stared at me blankly when I went off on them in the morning. "Why do they charge for internet but not phone service?", I asked.

Mistakes You Should Never Make
641 points by sethbannon  7 days ago   328 comments top 48
jlevy 7 days ago 8 replies      
As internal counsel for YC, it was very upsetting to learn about the ongoing troubles at Amicus. It was particularly distressing to hear about the payroll tax issues, given that YC has funded excellent companies that specialize in accounting and payroll for small businesses, such as Indinero and Zenpayroll. The tone of Seth's post suggest that YC has supported Seth in all of his recent actions. That is not true -- YC supports its companies through good times and bad, but we do not support illegality. For example, in paragraph 3 Seth writes that PG looks for founders that are "naughty" and writes about levels of rule-breaking. YC's principal tenets are to "make something people want" and "talk and listen to users/customers" -- YC may promote a culture of disruption, but that does not mean neglecting payroll taxes and breaking rules.
ChuckMcM 7 days ago 6 replies      
That had to be a tough article to write, thanks Seth.

The thing that really stuck with me is the 'technically true' aspects. Growing up in various places around the world I encountered a number of people for whom their motto was 'its only illegal if you get caught!' The advantages of this motto were very apparent as a teen, you could run a stop light at 11:30pm, there was hardly anyone around, and you could be home by curfew. You could use your parents car if it was back where they expected it to be when they next needed it. Sort of the ultimate Ferris Bueller.

And then I had as an influence my Grandfather, who was a US Attorney, and who valued his integrity over his own life. I think of him as sort of the other end of this spectrum.

I asked him about his unwillingness to do what others have done (at the time it was drive faster than the speed limit on an empty road) and he said, "Charles, the world is full of pain and anguish, when a man lives by a code he can walk among that pain and anguish and help right its wrongs without being burdened by having contributed to it." (well that is how I remembered it, there was probably a story about hunting in there too) and I didn't really understand it until much later.

xcubed 7 days ago 4 replies      
This is just awful. There's owning up to mistakes, which is very "trendy" right now, and then there's being a straight up terrible, unethical, incompetent person. It's a bit gross to reference Ben Horowitz, to try to make this seem like a "classic" startup moment that every startup goes through. E.g., "most companies go through at least two, and sometimes over a dozen WFIOs in their lifetime."

1. "And so I learned that we hadnt been paying payroll taxes for almost 3 years a particularly painful thing given I believe in taxes as a means of giving back to society." It's weird and manipulative to throw in how much you believe in giving back to society here. You majorly screwed up oversight of how investment money was being spent to not notice the difference in financials given no taxes were being paid!

"This hurt even more because Id been paying myself one of the lowest salaries on the team to maximize our runway and support our mission." Again, you're the founder. If you're going to make that statement, at least include that you have a much larger equity stake in the company - you're not sacrificing yourself completely!

2. "Mistake 3: Not being explicit about hacks" should be re-written, "Being Dishonest." Cloaking the language as "hacks" and again referencing PG to make your behavior acceptable - (he says it's ok, it's just really a grey area!)

3. "Mistake 7: Telling a half-truth" should be called "lying." If you still think it's a half-truth, you have NOT learned your lesson. It's not "rule bending." Everyone knows that when you say you dropped out of Harvard, the assumption is that you were some form of degree earning student. Seriously, it wasn't a half-truth if the people you're talking to were assuming something else - it was a lie.

Lastly, NOWHERE do I see remorse for the lives of your employees who you laid off. These people trusted and believed in you, and you let them down. Did these people find new jobs? Did you help them find new jobs? How did you structure their layoff packages? Are any still struggling? Were you able to support their next career moves in some way if not monetarily? Not really mentioned, which suggests you don't really care. You're much more focused on you.

tptacek 7 days ago 8 replies      
Of all the financial mistakes you can possibly make running a company, withholding payroll taxes and then failing to remit them is probably the worst. Be thankful you caught this before the liability exceeded your available funds, because company operators are apparently routinely held personally liable when there's a shortfall, and I'm not sure that debt is even dischargeable in bankruptcy.

What's worse, minor versions of this mistake turn out to be easy to make; I've seen (much smaller, much more easily fixed) incidents in multiple companies with things like state taxes and unemployment insurance. So: you can't assume this is a mistake that won't happen to you.

Without making any value judgements about the operations of this particular company, one valuable lesson from the post is: do not ever use the Bank of America Payroll feature.

Unremitted payroll taxes can come with a one hundred percent penalty, and you can be liable for that penalty even if you had no knowledge of the failure to remit. Payroll tax screwups are the scary story big startups tell to baby startups at bedtime. Shudder.

slg 7 days ago 3 replies      
I know this is a minor point of the article, but as someone with a degree from Harvard Extension I need to weigh in on that part of the story. I hate people who make this lie of ommission. Harvard Extension isn't Harvard College or Harvard Business School, but it still provides a very good education with great flexibility at an even better price. However, there is a small minority of people that continuely try to pass off their degree (or in this case a lack of degree, which is an even bigger crime considering that both the admission and graduate rates of the College and Extension School are roughly inverses of each other) as something more than it is. This isn't a fabricated credential on a resume; it is a lie that makes other people guilty by association. Everytime someone confesses or is caught doing this my degree becomes devalued. It establishes a repuation for HES students and alumni as unethical Harvard wannabees that are looking for any way to cut corners. The lesson to learn is not about managing your own reputation for ethics and honesty, but to also remember that you are a member of community. You don't only represent yourself. You represent yourself, your company, your friends, your family, your school, your industry, your hometown, your gender, your race, your sexual preference...

Obligatory [semi-]relevant xkcd: http://xkcd.com/385/

MortenK 7 days ago 3 replies      
It's absolutely astonishing to me that SV investors and incubators pass along ~4 million USD to a team of people with so little business experience, as to neglect hiring an accountant. End result being unpaid payroll tax for almost 3 full years!

No one ever asked what accounting firm Amicus used? No one ever just glanced at the finances and thought hey, where's the frigging payroll tax? Is valley capital so readily available as to warrant this kind of extremely low investor engagement in funded companies?

No written founders agreement either. I mean this is basics, and it should have been caught or taught by the accelerators and the investors.

This is not a shot at the OP, who I think is exceedingly brave to write such a public, honest and informative account of their screw-ups. Competence comes from experience and everybody in business has been incompetent at some point.

Rather, this is a massive failure on the investors' and accelerators part. With all the talk of "funding the team, not the idea", you'd think there was a bit deeper understanding of team experience and competence, than just some degrees from an ivy.

It's mind blowing that investors can be so careless with their cash. I wonder if it's a common occurrence or if this is an outlier situation.

smalter 7 days ago 2 replies      
Amazing article.

As advertised, it's not a self-aggrandizing "mistakes" post that points you at the end to the author's next venture. It's full of the kinds of things that keep me up at night.

It reminds me of something similar that happened to me: I was running Adwords for the first time. The dashboard wasn't showing that any of my ads had run, and it kept telling me to up my bid amount. I kept upping it and upping it, and I wasn't seeing any ads running. I said screw it and forgot about it.

When I happened to look at the dashboard 3 weeks later, I had blown $6k on Google ads. I had to get my team together and tell them what happened and apologize. ($6k was a lot of money to us.) Like Seth, this hurt a lot because I paid myself less than anyone in the company to save money.

Seth, if you're around the iDoneThis office at Great Jones and Bowery, hit me up. I'd love to buy you a drink.

michaelvkpdx 7 days ago 2 replies      
Poor founders and your VC-funded pain.

How about some empathy for each of those employees you are firing, who have to go home and face families and lives that they've shared with you and you have essentially shat upon?

They are not "resources". They are people, humans, and their lives and loves are just as important as yours. They shared a piece of their humanity with you to help you in your dream. A dream which, make no mistake, isn't making the world a better place. It's you yourself getting rich. You used these people and now they have to deal with their lessons learned.

Which aren't "lying is a bad thing" and "not paying taxes is bad" and "I need to network more with rich people." They are- "I need to find a new job and/or draw unemployment, I need to cope with this shock to my system, and I need to figure out how I'm going to pay the bills".

All the "libertarians" in this business lose sight of social agreements and safety nets, until they get screwed by someone who shares that approach.

methodover 7 days ago 10 replies      
> In the early days I would often let potential customers think we already had a feature they wanted

What. How is this even remotely acceptable? If discovered it destroys your credibility. Among your employees it destroys your credibility. If I was an employee and found out that this was happening, I'd be extremely upset. I wouldn't trust a thing you say. If you'll lie to customers, you'll lie to me.

mhartl 7 days ago 0 replies      
First I'd like to thank sethbannon for writing this valuable article. As someone with two failed startups under his belt (including one through Y Combinator), I think entrepreneurs being more open about the challenges of startups is a good trend.

FedEx, Evernote, Intuit, Zappos, Airbnb Im endlessly inspired by those founders who faced near collapse but simply refused to give up.

These stories can be inspiring, but remember that they suffer from survivor bias. The companies that do go under don't get as much attention in the financial press.

Sometimes the reality is that it's time to shut down. Give up on one thing, move on to the next thing.

todayiamme 7 days ago 0 replies      
Given, that the dominant comments over here are in some shape or form pointing out deficiencies of some sort in Seth, I would like to point out something. You're forgetting how hard it is to start something new. I'm sure that some of us might have avoided some of the items on the list, some might have even managed to avoid all of them. However, I'm also pretty sure that all of us would have made a lot of other gigantic mistakes along the way.

I'm in the process of starting a non-profit in the field of medicine and I've been taking a lot of pain to do my homework. I've spent my evenings quizzing people, reading books, talking to the friends I'm working with, and just trying to get something out of the door, but I wasn't even remotely aware that things could go wrong in half the permutations Seth mentions. In fact, in his list alone, I spotted at least 3 things that I would have inevitably messed up if it hadn't been for an hour of inspired reading based upon his post. It's hard to make something new, sometimes it feels that you're trying to push through the improbable, shift the odds to your favour, and achieve what seems to be so impossible. In that world, in that arena, it's easy to mess up. It's easy to make mistakes and it's very hard to fix them.

At the end of the day, the truth is that everyone messes up. Everyone has that one time where they should have done X, but did Y / nothing and that then resulted in bad thing Z, which could have dragged / or did drag them under. This is why - in my mind - the right question to ask over here is, what does it take to handle a crisis with Seth's grace? After all, not dying is the difference between crossing the finish line and pausing along the way.

lambda 7 days ago 0 replies      
So, revealing one of these mistakes would come off as a brave revelation of a personal mistake; a lesson learned and moved on from

All of them together seem to come across as being simply dishonest. Being years behind on taxes because you never bothered to have a proper accountant look at your finances, calling people co-founders one day and then treating them like employees, selling non-existent features to your customers and collecting credit card information with no product to back it up, saying you "dropped out of Harvard" when you "took a few courses at Harvard Extension", not telling your investors about what's going on, all adds up to pretty much being entirely dishonest with everyone you interacted with.

One of these mistakes could be forgivable; I've known some very good people who were terrible at accounting and so wound up with lots of back taxes to pay. A good salesman may sell a feature that's not quite ready yet; it's sometimes frustrating for the developers, but as long as it's more the exception than the rule it's OK. Focusing on your product more than your investors may be OK if you just have so much to do and you really are bringing them a lot of value.

But all of them at once? That doesn't leave you with very many excuses; you weren't so busy building features that you didn't have time for investors, you were using your customers, and the IRS, and your "cofounders" as extra investors and even with all of that you weren't able to make it work out.

dreamweapon 7 days ago 6 replies      
Mistake 1: Taxes

This thing about not noticing that you weren't paying payroll taxes wasn't a "mistake." It was pure head-in-assery.

How can you "miss" the fact that you weren't being subtracted for payroll taxes? One quarterly / annual review after another, for 3 years? It's like running a personal budget, and "missing" the fact that you aren't paying rent.

jacquesm 7 days ago 1 reply      
This is why you pay an accountant the big bucks and pray they don't mess up in turn, very frequently if they do the responsibility is still yours. Running a company comes with a lot of responsibilities that tend to keep you awake until the small hours of morning. Details like these can get you, especially because they are retro-active and hardly anybody is in a position to absorb an instant loss of say 7 years remittances for the 100 employees they have. Be very grateful that it wasn't a huge amount of money, bigger companies have failed over things like this.

Also, if you are conservative you'll have a spreadsheet that models your worst and best cashflow prognosis for the next 6 months to a year out. If you find yourself consistently outperforming the 'best' case in spite of an unchanged business outlook then it's high time to start checking things.

mrgriscom 7 days ago 0 replies      
This guy sounds like a complete sleaze. I appreciate that he wrote the article, as it did contribute a few moments of my day's HN entertainment, but I don't understand the praise being heaped on him. Simply "coming clean" is not commendable, in the absence of any discernible remorse. In the end you just feel like someone is still being played.

Yes, people can make mistakes. But for a pattern of mistakes, and for a person who seems to have such a casual relationship with the truth, you start to wonder if some of the mistakes were... not necessarily willful, but just plausibly-deniable enough.

nwenzel 7 days ago 0 replies      
Poor bank UI crushes startup's bank account.

Thanks for posting Seth. Must have been a tough one to write.

I can't say this enough, use Zenpayroll.

In a prior company I had one of the other payroll giants (Zenpayroll didn't exist 10 years ago). It was awful. We switched from one giant to another to make 401k easier. But in the switch, both companies reported earnings to the IRS. All my employees received notices from the IRS saying they each owed $10k+ in back taxes and penalties. No one ended up having to pay, but when the IRS comes calling, it's stressful even when you're not wrong.

Zenpayroll is fantastic. New game, new level.


carlesfe 7 days ago 0 replies      
Despite the amount of similarly titled articles that appear on HN weekly, this one is really, really good.

Don't miss out on it.

matthewmacleod 7 days ago 1 reply      
Wow - "Oops, we forgot to pay payroll taxes for three years" isn't good. How does nobody notice that?

But lessons learned and all that. I can't stress enough (at least from having run a small business) that accounting is the number one thing to get correct from the get-go. It saves such an immense amount of time, money and stress later on.

UVB-76 7 days ago 0 replies      
Although a valuable cautionary tale, is it really wise to make a post like this, associated to the company name, for the whole world to see?

As a post-mortem, I would understand, but surely not a good idea when your company is still trading.

Existing/prospective customers are going to read this, and it's not going to fill them with confidence.

fredsters_s 7 days ago 0 replies      
"Ive come to realize that technically true is a terrible ethical measure for a (non-technical) statement. I should have held myself to a higher standard. Ive also learned the importance of overwhelming honest"

So true. There is an immense amount of pressure within startups to 'bend the rules', and I think this hits the nail on the head.

jakejake 7 days ago 0 replies      
We had a deal with our landlord for paying a reduced rent amount for one year, after which it would go up by $1,500 per month. Well, we had quite honestly forgotten about the deal and the same automated rent payments just kept going through without a word from anybody. About TWO YEARS later our landlord came to us and said "oh yea, remember that rent deal we had? You guys owe us about $36,000 in back rent!"

That sucked but we don't blame anybody but ourselves. It goes to show that you do need to keep track of your own finances and not expect somebody to tell you when you are not paying things properly.

plehoux 7 days ago 0 replies      
Taxes! It is never too early to setup something like xero.com and bring outside expertise.

Knowing how much money you really have is the most important thing to know when you run a business.

At ConferenceBadge.com I spent a few days automating our accounting process with Xero API and brought some help from Xenaccounting.com (Montreal firm) to manage our books. It really helped us bootstrap the company and manage or tight budget month to month.

Accounting dept (not knowing where you are) is really dangerous and stressful.

ajaymehta 7 days ago 1 reply      
Kudos, Seth. Really refreshing to see this kind of bare honesty, and takes a lot of courage to know that this post will probably be seen by all friends/family/coworkers. Thank you for writing this.
rdl 7 days ago 0 replies      
83b elections and payroll taxes are the only two things which are really really critical from an administrative perspective, in my experience, and can't be fixed later with fairly minimal cost.
jakejake 7 days ago 0 replies      
I actually enjoyed this article and it's definitely reassuring in a way to read about other people's struggles. I have to take minor issue with the "entrepreneurs dont talk about their most difficult moments publicly" part because it seems like there's an abundance of articles lately from founders who write about their stress, depression, failing startup, etc. I feel like I see more of these articles than success stories. Even the success stories I've seen lately are more of the tone "we had to really go through some shit to get here."

I do respect that it's difficult to write about, though. In addition to just wanting to not feel like a failure, you don't generally want your employees and investors to feel like everything is about to go down the toilet. I'm glad to see more people writing about their real, honest experiences.

lowglow 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to hear the co-founder's stories as well. I think this would give us a complete story of the situation.
thom 7 days ago 0 replies      
You shouldn't really be able to go through a startup accelerator without someone hooking you up with an accountant... much less raise millions of dollars of investment.
subdane 7 days ago 1 reply      
It would be really interesting to hear Seth's former co-founders response to this well written piece.
dayjah 7 days ago 0 replies      
I often find myself saying the following: "We are the sum of our mistakes, though to re-offend is to not have learned".

So much is made of out and out success these days, it sets up society to be an incredibly unforgiving place and feeds a loop of setting unattainably high standards for ones self or for those around you, and from that comes a fear of mistakes, if you cannot make a mistake you are denying yourself an opportunity to learn.

Context: I was a manager of a software dev team dealing with high scale, and am now a technical non-management leader. Prior to that the founder of a few companies. Throughout all of that I've tried to fail a little less each day.

jeffcrigler 7 days ago 0 replies      
Seth shows a lot of courage to do this. I have done three start ups. My first one was successful and got bought by Lexis/Nexis... but it wasn't very lucrative. The second one was a complete disaster and I spend $40 million on a pipe dream and my VC's had to take me out. The third one was a success still waiting to materialize as it was sold and I have yet to see the dividend. But at ever step i made lots of mistakes (including falling behind on payroll taxes) and each of these were learning opportunities. I give kudos to Seth for sharing this and am more hopeful now than before that he can make Amicus successful in the long term.
krebby 7 days ago 0 replies      
I interviewed at Amicus last year and they were clearly some of the nicest guys in tech. It's always hard to read stories like this but it's especially tough to see a good idea go under. Best of luck to everyone involved.
tomp 7 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone clarify why dropping out of Harvard Extension School is a subset of dropping out of Harvard University? I checked out Wikipedia, but it's not very clear about Harvard's system and the different colleges (Harvard College, Radcliff College, Extension School, ...) I've always assumed there was just one "University of Harvard", but apparently it's more complicated...
bellerocky 7 days ago 0 replies      
On the co-founder thing, being a "co-founder" doesn't mean you're also endowed with as much authority as all the othe co-founders. In most circumstances one of the co-founders should be designated as the one in charge, given the responsibility of making the hard decisions.

Being in charge doesn't mean you get to win every argument, as you don't want your co-founders to quit, but it definitely shouldn't be a thing where all the co-founders have equal decision making capabilities because that may lead to never-ending strife. Most decisions shouldn't be arbitrary anyway, a decision should come with a convincing argument. It's those hard decisions when none of the answers seem perfect where you need someone to win out even though it may not feel right.

The leadership structure should be determined when the founding team forms, so there's no ambiguity later and each person needs to decide then and there if they can live with the setup and thereafter stick to it.

tptacek 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably not great advice, because the state and federal IRS (reasonably) get pissed when you misclassify FTEs as contractors, and there are penalties if they decide that's happened.
chetanahuja 6 days ago 0 replies      
The whole kerfuffle about Harvard Extension vs Harvard College just lays bare the awful reality of the value of college education today. It's basically about acquiring a brand-name on your resume. Especially in the US system, the university branding says very little about the merits of the graduates (since admissions process is a colossal clusterfuck where a very large number or rejected candidates are objectively academically superior to a very large number of accepted candidates) and everything about our obsessions with exclusive clubs.
DanielBMarkham 7 days ago 1 reply      

Thank you so much for posting this. We all make mistakes, and for each of those, there could be ten thousand HN'ers who would come along behind us and say something like "But how could you do X? That's stupid!"

Everybody wants to read business porn. Nobody wants to sit down and hear the ways they will likely screw up. Guess which one is more effective. We need this.

This took guts to do. It is one of the more useful posts I've read, and it will have a positive impact. Congrats.

dheer01 6 days ago 0 replies      
Seth - Thanks for sharing your perspective - its extremely courageous to talk about these things in the open.

I am a startup founder and have been there done that - allow me to seed you with a radically different perspective.

You made NO mistakes. None. Every lesson that you learned - you will unlearn it in the next year or so. There are lessons to learn over here, but not the ones you mentioned - they will come - just wait for it.

Everyone pointing out in this thread about your mistakes is dead wrong. They don't know what it takes - most have never been close to what you are doing - they just don't know. This is also one of the reasons it might NOT help to talk about these things in public - though I am not saying that you shouldn't.

Most successful founders make most of these mistakes - and then some. The only mistake that you really made is to not figure out the business - everything else is not important. Sales fixes everything - and it would have fixed all these mistakes. Specifically:

1. Skipping on taxes till its too late - this is a trait of a successful founder. It means you are focussed on the business too much to bother about paying taxes.

2. Poorly defined co founder relationships - the story about 'every' startup. Let me tell you the secret about founder relationships - ignore them. Figure out the 'business' - founder relationships will figure themselves out.

3. Hacks - This world is unfortunately run by people who don't see things like we do. To hack is to have tread that middle ground which keeps the peace and also lets us run things they way they should.

4. Going it alone - There is no other way. At the centre of the biggest changes the world has ever seen, there is a lonely founder. You have to do it alone - dont seek to change it - just understand it.

5. Investor relations - Investors like a good business more than you and me - you fix the business and let the investor will fix the relations.

jozefff 7 days ago 0 replies      
Dang, that's rough Seth. Thanks a ton for sharing though. It's hard enough to go through those kind of struggles, but to be honest and let others know the difficulties you faced and own up to mistakes you made is really valiant. Kudos to the max.
danielweber 7 days ago 1 reply      
No matter how smart you are, the only way it makes sense to do your own taxes is if your business is taxes. Otherwise, hire the woman who spent years learning this stuff and devotes her entire cognitive load to the task to do it for you.
krytork 7 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is totally irresponsible. The thought that he had the financial well being of other people in his hands makes me sick. There should be a law that prevents people like this from starting another company.
_RPM 7 days ago 0 replies      

I really enjoyed reading your article. It was extremely insightful, and I hope to read more articles posted on your blog in the future.

jlas 7 days ago 3 replies      
Wait, so are you telling me that in 3 years no one noticed that taxes weren't being deducted from their pay?
MattBnB 7 days ago 0 replies      
Such an awesome article. Minimal, simple and well said. Taxes would suck to f up
andrewstuart 6 days ago 0 replies      
Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone.
jasonlaramburu 7 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, sorry to hear about all this. Are you going to return the remaining investor money?
rmcfeeley 7 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the brave post, Seth. Glad to see all of the support here, deserved, and appreciate your honesty. Best wishes for the days ahead
SomeCoolName 7 days ago 1 reply      
This was a very useful read, thank you!
ajb 7 days ago 0 replies      
Really uninformative headline. Hmm, what would be better? Maybe "Management Mistakes Founders should never make" (not all of use are reading this for the startup stuff, believe it or not)
Show HN: NomadList The best cities to live and work remotely in
612 points by pieterhg  1 day ago   283 comments top 88
pieterhg 1 day ago 16 replies      
Hi HN! I made this. Here's some info on the data before everyone goes berzerk :)

Firstly, it's crowdsourced from this spreadsheet http://nomadlist.io/edit/ so it might not be 100% accurate.

Secondly, NomadCost != cost of living. NomadCost is based on short-term staying in a hostel, hotel or apartment in the center, working in a coworking space and having a basic meal three times a day. That's the average digital nomad's lifestyle. They move around every few months, so they can't rent long-term. So NomadCost will be way more expensive than cost of living for a resident.

I'd like to monetize this by selling city specific nomad guides on how to set up in each place and letting people find jobs remotely. Hope this helps! I think this is the future of work, so I'm very happy to help push this.

P.S. this is part of my goal to launch 12 startups in 12 months (see http://levels.io/12-startups-12-months)

compare 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great concept. One feature request: Better calculations for cities with Bi-modal price distributions.

Certain cities have a extremely bi-modal distributions of pricing. I.e. they can support both the "broke artist" lifestyle, and the "upper middle class" lifestyle. Two separate cost distributions. If you try to take the mean or median of these cities, you'll end up either arbitrarily landing on one of the distributions, or a nonsense number in the middle.

A good example is Manhattan. For example, pizza can actually be cheaper in Manhattan than Sofia. In Manhattan, the broke artist lifestyle of living with multiple roommates who barely know each other, all sharing a rent controlled apartment for a few hundred dollars a month is more socially acceptable and much more common. Just taking prices from the realtor-controlled apartment websites is a poor reflection of reality. Almost no one except the richer consultants bothers with a full-time coworking desk in either city. In this case, Manhattan can actually cost less than Sofia.

So, I think the "broke artist" price distributions would better reflect what a remote working nomad would be looking for, instead of the "upper middle class" prices.

peteretep 1 day ago 2 replies      
You need to include visa situation, because Bangkok is 3rd, but unless you're planning to start a Thailand-based business via the BOI, you're working there illegally if you don't have a work permit, and they're cracking down on all sorts of visa irregularities at the moment.
TheMagicHorsey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know if I'm the first one to say this, but I have discovered that Sebastapol, CA, which is an 1.5 hours north of San Francisco, has fiber internet, and a significantly lower cost of living. Its also in a fairly beautiful and wooded part of Northern CA. O' Reilly Associates is based there.

I'm surprised it isn't more jam packed with start ups.

Oh yeah ... there is nothing to do there. So you will have to just admire nature and work. And then commute to SF for your meetings.

If this explodes in popularity, I hope someone will credit me for leaking the secret.

optymizer 1 day ago 3 replies      
You need way more data points. I would add crime statistics to this for example or probability of getting arrested and beaten by the local police, and the average cost of bribing officials/administrative workers.

For example, Sofia is #5, but, having lived there for a few years, it is absolutely not the #5 best choice, by far. That said, it's not a bad choice, it works for Telerik after all.

imjustsaying 1 day ago 4 replies      
Ho Chi Minh is almost twice as expensive as Hanoi? I didn't make it to Hanoi, but everyone told me it was the more expensive of the two. HCM is really cheap everywhere you go if you just stay out of the financial sector.

Keep in mind AirBNB doesn't seem to get sites below the $15 range, and a lot of hotels that are in this range don't list on internet exchanges either. For example in Ho Chi Minh there's a few decent airconditioned hotels next to Bui Vien for $10 a night but you wont find them online. Also in Southeast Asia I've found you can rent most everywhere for 30 days at a time, which in my mind is short term when I consider all the minimum 12 month leases I had to get in the US.

Good job though, I like that you're scraping other sites. This should be good to use in conjunction with Numbeo, which has its own biases.

salih 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a Tunisian I feel obliged to put my 2 cents.

The cost of life is pretty cheap around here ($500/month is the average salary for a teacher, the minimum income is around $200/m), and its getting cheaper with the decline of the tunisian dinar Vs $ &

I live near the cities of Sousse & Monastir, and i can share few thoughts:

- rent for a decent apartement is about $300/m in the city and less than $200 outside

- food is relatively cheap around here, with a wide variety of fresh fish

- Monastir is a beatiful city, good climate, excellent beaches, the travel to the aeroport cost less than15 min and 50 cent , with weekly/biweekly flights to major european cities.

- Tunisia is actually very safe and stable, major touristic destinations(hammamat, sousse, monastir, djerba (which btw is a very decent destination) are given more attention by the Interior minister.

- internet quality is not on par with the 1st world, 8Mb cost around $40/ m

- french is widely spoken, english is understood especially by youth

- wikitravel have some good ( and accurate) articles about tunisia & tunisian cities

greggman 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm curious where the data comes from? I see that it's a spreadsheet but how is it verified?

For example, I don't know what the average price of a co-working space is in Tokyo but I do know that "The Terminal" in Harajuku is only $150 a month. It's open from 11am to 11pm and includes free drinks (soda, coffee, tea).

Co-ba, has more than one location, the one in Shibuya is $160 a month and is open 24 hours.

The Open Source Cafe in Shimokitazawa is tiny but also similarly priced as is one I visited in Koenji (sorry, I forgot the name).

So, I'm curious where that $444 a month estimate comes from.

Rent is also iffy. It currently says $70 a day but rent varies widely depending on your standards and how far out of the center you're willing to live. I know people that have had a large 3bd apt for $1200 a month only 2 stops out various main lines on the express. (which might be like 12 local stops). Whereas downtown it might be $1200 for a studio but then again it depends on the quality. I know guys living in Nishi-Azabu for $600 a month.

maga 1 day ago 3 replies      
As a nomad who wouldn't mind settling down, I'm actually more interested in a place where I can register my company with prospects of becoming full-fledged citizen in the future, preferably in somewhat colder regions of the planet. I'm not entirely happy with my current passport, and working out of off-shores doesn't do much good for that.
visarga 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pleased to find my city - Bucharest - at the top of bandwidth and pretty decent with regard to living cost, but 1312 EUR/month is absurd. I'd estimate the living cost to $250 rent, $200 food, $20 internet and $20 mobile voice+data = about $500/month. That is, if you rent a flat, buy food at supermarkets, not if you spend all day in coffee shops and eat only at restaurants.
istorical 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey guys I'm also building a similar service to this site, but more focused on the qualitative than the quantitative:


angerman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ok. The idea is great, but as other have also said, the figures seem way off. Just two examples:

Basel being cheaper than Berlin? I have a hard time believing that.


Hong Kong being cheaper than Leipzig? That just can't be true.

tom_devref 1 day ago 1 reply      
What if you prefer colder climates? Not sure why the city should be penalized for it. High temperatures make me less productive.
nikster 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I live in Chiang Mai, which is listed #1 on the list - and yeah I'm here because I love it.

But the picture you included is the White Temple in Chiang Rai. It's not in Chiang Mai. Might as well put a picture of Chiang Mai there, particularly if it's on the #1 spot. Not like Chiang Mai doesn't have any temples, there's hundreds and hundreds of them ;)

maxinnos 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone interested in joining a startup in Chiang Mai, we are based there and connect developers / designers / business folks to others in the area as well. http://tropicaldev.com/jobs/. We are always hiring!

PM if curious about the area, or if you want intros to others here

codingdave 1 day ago 1 reply      
I get that this is made for short-term stays, and being truly nomadic. But I think many of us who work remotely do it to allow us to leave the cities. Building permanent roots in a small town is way cheaper and simpler, but that isn't really covered here.

Also, one's own goals and personality have a lot more to do with the "best" place to work from than the crunchable data does.

So I like the idea of compiling a list of great places to work remotely, but I'm not sure this particular execution of that idea has a ton of value for me.

narrator 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone listen to the "Travel Like A Boss" podcast? It's done by a guy living in Chang Mai Thailand. He mainly interviews dropship entrepreneurs. It's crazy because they are making $1500/month running these crappy little niche dropshipping stores but living like someone making $10000/month or more in San Francisco. They have maid service, live in full service buildings with rooftop pools, eat out all the time. It's crazy how cheap things are over there.
67726e 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are there any good resources in getting the appropriate visa/permit to work in foreign countries? I just got the go-ahead to work remote and I'm looking into working abroad, but information on remote working and the appropriate visas seem few and far in between.

To those that have done it, where do you look/who do you ask when looking for this type of information? Do you just get ahold of someone at the appropriate embassy/consulate or is there some service you can pay for to assist with the process?

jwblackwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love this! But I'm surprised not to see main Spanish cities on here. I took a short trip to Seville and was amazed how cheap everything was (I live in London).

There was an abundance of Airbnb accommodation, eating out was cheap and you could get a bucket of beers for 5 euros in many places. About the same as a pint in London.

I'd make this list a little more interactive, perhaps have a forum/comments behind each city. Could become a really useful resource.

noeltock 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the concept for getting some new ideas, but it needs significantly more information to be useful downstream. Having been nomading around for the past year, there are things that are important to me (accomodation, gym, coworking, good food) that are made easier/harder by various factors (proximity to each other, cost, contract length, quality, etc.). There's no tool for that yet (albeit excellent blog posts, not everything has to be made into an app I guess).
vog 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it confusing that 1C is displayed in red, but 31C is displayed in green (instead of bold red).

The temperature should be checked against an upper limit.

Sly_llama 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone heard of Cluj, Romania? Probably not.

What if I told you it's the capital of Transylvania? Located 500 km from Budapest, Belgrade, or Bucharest plus direct flights all over Europe. 20 km from the western Carpathians (hence the lowest level of air pollution in Europe) and some of the fastest bandwidth speeds on the planet. Not sure what else you need for remote work.

Check out: http://www.bestcityineurope.com/



fauigerzigerk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those european rent prices seem like a complete fantasy in some cases. Sure you get all kinds of outliers in every city but rents in Paris, Dublin and Berlin are certainly not the same. Paris is twice as expensive as Berlin, and Dublin is somewhere in the middle.

This site has much more realistic numbers: http://www.numbeo.com/common/

homakov 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should also add "Visa" field. E.g. any american can live in Europe up to 3 months, but in Thailand it's just 1 m.

I lived in Bangkok for about a year, thought I love that city, now their visa policy got stupid, and I would't recommend to settle there for long period (>3 months).

brc 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone a bit further up the snakes and ladders board than a lot of younger nomadic types, I woudo like to see a specialised house swapping community around remote workers. This woudo be houses with necessary workspaces, connections and the like. I would happily swap for periods of time during the year, but with dependents in tow. This type of thing woudo be excellent for relocating into time zones suitable for specific projects.
davidw 1 day ago 1 reply      

Yuck. Worst city in Italy: it's expensive, polluted, crowded, and has little of what makes Italy so nice in many other places.

Italians move there because it's the business capital of the country, and there are jobs and money. But if you can live anywhere with a decent connection... that's the last place I'd go.

chenster 1 day ago 3 replies      
Taipei is my top choice. The healthcare is excellent (and free) if you are a Taiwan resident.
fookyong 1 day ago 4 replies      
To those in this thread saying you need an appropriate working visa to work in these countries:

Have you ever worked for a company in Country A and been sent on a business trip to Country B? Most likely your company didn't need a Country B working visa for you, just for a business trip.

I am not a lawyer, but I don't see how the digital nomad lifestyle is any different. If you're just spending short amounts of time in these countries, legally how is this any different from going on a business trip since your company and salary will be paid in the origin country.

I'm sure there's a cut off point, like once you go over a certain amount of time it becomes harder to justify your trip as a short term business trip... but what's that line?

scriptdevil 1 day ago 2 replies      
It misses Bangalore, India. You could live a good life for $750.00 a month. For an additional $35 a month, you can get a 60MBps internet connection. Weather is pretty pleasant throughout the year. You could sample quite an assortment of cuisines too. Meetups are fairly active as well.Negatives: Traffic is terrible, but I stay indoors most of the time. Vendors do not speak English, but the number of non-Indians is high and the one can speak in English in any mid-sized shop.Disclaimer: I am an Indian, but am not a native of Bangalore. I was initially resentful of having to stay in Bangalore, but of late have started liking the city.
hazelnut 1 day ago 3 replies      
Great idea, but I can't find any information about healthcare?

It might be great to live in Thailand where you have to spent just a little for living but what happens if we compare this with their healthcare system?

tet 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bucharest ~ $1800 is exaggerated, honestly, if you live alone $500 are more than enough.
wingerlang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've lived in Bangkok the last 7 months and I spend approximately half the stated sum.

I am by no chance saying that the sum is invalid, it is probably pretty damn accurate (from what I've heard elsewhere).

Just mentioning that it is not the minimum. Not even I am at the minimum because I have a /relatively/ expensive apartment. And I don't live on breadcrumbs or anything like that :)

EDIT: As the reply posted by OP saying

> NomadCost is based on short-term staying in a hostel, hotel or apartment in the center, working in a coworking space and having a basic meal three times a day.

(I am not really close to that actual lifestyle)

splitforce 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next step is to take some input about user preferences and generate a personalized ranking of places to go. Here's a quick stab at building a 'personalized' desirability index: https://docs.google.com/a/splitforce.com/spreadsheets/d/1u-6...
dewey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Small bug:

I'm not able to switch the currency, it just shows pounds even though I selected Euro in the dropdown menu at the top (http://nomadlist.io/?l=eu)

bdickason 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a great idea. I've been working from Sardegna (an island off the coast of Italy/Spain) and have barely been able to hold a skype connection to my office in NYC, even from most big cities.

I would have loved if someone went through and found great internet spots in each city (and even out in the country in some tourist-y spots) in advance so I could follow in their footsteps!!

Even at the least - letting me know that Vodafone is the best connectivity in the South, but sketchy in the northeast.

woutr_be 1 day ago 2 replies      
A lot of these cities are only good if you are a local, for example in Hong Kong it is almost impossible to get a working visa that allows you to work for a remote company.I image in Japan it would probably be even harder.
micro_cam 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very cool. To broaden the appeal I would consider expanding to include things like recreational opportunities. I spent some time road tripping around the us rock climbing and working remotely and know others who have done the same.

Knowing which small towns near climbing areas (or ski areas, or whitewater rivers, or national parks, or whatever) have reasonable coffee shops, hostels, camping etc would have been very valuable.

I guess some of this could be done by integrating a wiki or something.

TwiztidK 1 day ago 4 replies      
This comment will probably get overlooked, but how do you get into the "digital nomad" lifestyle? Basically, what kind of work allows you operate 100% remotely? Thanks.
dm2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why would being in the center of the city be important? I would think average anywhere in the city would be more reasonable.

I would also like to see the costs of a 2 bedroom apartment. I'd personally rather have an office in my apartment than a co-op space.

What would the price of a small house be within 10 miles of the city? (question that could be added)

How is the NomadCost calculated? These numbers don't add up: http://nomadlist.io/?hn

randomflavor 1 day ago 1 reply      
Local main language should be included?
product50 1 day ago 1 reply      
For working remotely, another factor which should be considered is time zone. It is very difficult to have a fruitful arrangement if you are always trying to scramble for times in the wee hours..
tiatia 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't see this as very useful. People are different, so are countries. Internet is very relative. Can be extremely slow and extremely fast in one city. Beijing 20 MBPS? Really? Maybe when you are torrenting or using Baidu. The Eardex Index http://flyingdutchman.co/cost-living-world-wide-county/ provides more info. But even this is like selecting you girl friend based on numbers.
danesparza 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love the idea.

I notice that the only factors used don't seem to mention any political unrest. For example, the top rated city seems to be in Thailand... which has experienced a lot of political unrest recently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand#2013.E2.80.932014_poli...

alessioalex 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bucharest is way undervalued. The internet speed can easily be 1Gb/s for around 15$ I think, while the montly costs for living should be around 1000$ at most in my opionion.
jeremyirony 1 day ago 3 replies      
Kek, since when Israel is in Europe?
dzhiurgis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great initiative, but I would add more smaller cities. Also temperature should have some sort of average. Surely it's not great to live in a scorching heat all the time.

That said, I dream one day to work remotely from a live aboard sailboat. Connectivity could be somewhat a problem, but 3G covers a lot of globe and if you are smart enough, living aboard can be very cheap.

skrebbel 1 day ago 2 replies      
Nice! I have some reservations about some of the data though; f.ex. I have a hard time to believe that SF has only slightly higher costs of living than Berlin.
pvnick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked. You may not see this comment, but I'm planning to travel and work remotely for a couple years after I graduate at the end of the year, and I think something like this will help a lot. Thank you!
riffraff 1 day ago 0 replies      
I honestly cannot imagine how you may end up spending 2000$/month to live in budapest.

I got by with 400 for years.

hal9000xp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Good idea! But you have to add a visa information for each country.

For example, I like Hong Kong, but you can't stay there more than 2 weeks (if you want stay more, you have to get work permit/get married/have business there etc).

But Thailand afaik is easy country for living for a long time without work permit.

gdilla 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great! Request - could you add the ability to choose your city and normalize the others? Example, I live in NYC, and I want to consider a move, how much cheaper is it? So if NYC cost is normalized to 1, then I can quickly understand the relationship to other places.
thom_nic 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would think crime rate should factor into this as well. It's at least as important as weather.
espitia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome project! I've passed by many of the cities mentioned in Asia and I have to agree with most of what is up on top of the list. Specially Chiang Mai. I spent a 2 weeks up there and enjoyed it a lot. Met a lot of great people as well.
megablast 1 day ago 1 reply      
Vang Vieng in Laos was the cheapest place I lived. Less than A$10 a day for hotel with my own room, internet, food and drinks. And it was a really beautiful place. All the restaurants had wifi, so you could sit and work there all day, overlooking amazing limestone cliffs.
dalerus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Added Phnom Penh to your list.

If you're a remote worker it's great place. In the city most people speak English, huge expat community, USD is the main currency, stable internet, a few co-working spaces, amazingly cheap to live, and a business visa is no problem.

simonebrunozzi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am not able to add a city - I can open the spreadsheet but it's not editable.
wnscooke 1 day ago 0 replies      
There have been some suggestions to add more about visas... the true nomad really should be getting that information as directly as possible and not relying on a website like this, however helpful and handy it is.
abuteau 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sidenote: http://teleport.org/ Try to do something like that, but not crowdsourced. It's from Sten Tamkivi a16z entrepreneur in residence.
AliAdams 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure where the data is coming from but I'm not convinced Bangkok is worthy of 5/5 stars for safety at the moment.
lolizbak 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great work. How can people act on the info on specific cities ? There should be a way to balance wrong/right/... for variables that are subjective (weather, friendliness to foreigners, ....)
billrobertson42 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some of the text is so low-contrast that I can't read it.
radikal_shit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could you, please, add option tochange temperature view to Celsiusand integrate option to recalculate $ toseveral major currencies?
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
The differentiation between [click to view larger photo] and [click text to go to city's page] threw me off for a few minutes.
nrzuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice :)Hopefully packing up in a months time and starting to work remotely so a list like this will certainly come in handy when investigating the next stop!
itisbiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice, I like the grid presentation. Looks Bootstrap responsive table? What are you using for the column sort?
Dewie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Using Fahrenheit (the degrees column for each city) as a measurement isn't very international.
dberglu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea -- Tim Ferris would love it.
gear54rus 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Fahrenheit, seriously?:(

Good concept though.

progx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was wondering when you have time to work, most of the time you travel and seeking hotels, internet, startups, ...
wasyl 1 day ago 3 replies      
Costs of living are definitely way off, I live in Wroclaw, you can easily live comfortably for $1000, probably even less
benwoodward 1 day ago 0 replies      
What do the points in the left-most column represent?
noahtkoch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Damn dude, nice work, I've been following your developments on /r/digitalnomads
adamzerner 1 day ago 0 replies      
What are the important cultural differences between Chiang Mai and, say New York?
coppolaemilio 1 day ago 11 replies      
Chiang Mai? You clearly haven't been there!It's nice for a holiday but not for living.
pistoriusp 1 day ago 0 replies      
The HackerNews logo in the footer is also really pretty, did you also make that?
lotsofcows 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice. Although I'd write the first four off on temperature alone...
mmanfrin 1 day ago 0 replies      
SF is 3/5 for safety? Where's that metric coming from.
motormanwrithes 1 day ago 0 replies      
super useful resource I'm sure, and I'd like to chat ideas to monetize, or at least capitalize on the knowledge too.

Is it cool to share this?

@motormanwrithes MANILA - LONDON - LA

patmcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm calling nonsense on Omaha costing more than Tokyo.
wslh 1 day ago 2 replies      
You can live in Buenos Aires for half the price in the nomad list.
AlexNeoNomad 1 day ago 0 replies      
I knew that Chiang Mai would've been there surely.
jeromegv 1 day ago 3 replies      
Anybody can vouch for Philippines? Which city is the best?
rockdiesel 1 day ago 0 replies      
How is Omaha more expensive than Tokyo?
tanmay007 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is going to be so useful!
SchizoDuckie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry but 2950 for living in Amsterdam for a month, that's insane.
adammcnamara 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing.
jahitr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those numbers are all made up.
599 points by pandemicsyn  3 days ago   110 comments top 36
cwp 3 days ago 2 replies      
How does this compare with Nixops or Disnix?

It sounds like it would be possible to plug nix-based provisioning into Terraform, and use it to manage the high-level cluster structure.

Edit: downvotes? whatever for?

diggan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some read-worth links:

Homepage - http://www.terraform.io/

Introduction - http://www.terraform.io/intro/index.html

Documentation - http://www.terraform.io/docs/index.html

Sourcecode - https://github.com/hashicorp/terraform


Seems usable and I'm excited to try it out. I like the idea of "execution plans" and the declerative way of setting up the architecture.

mahmoudimus 3 days ago 2 replies      
One of the main strengths of something like cloudformation, is that we can use libraries in languages we're comfortable with to build a programmable DSL.

A great tool, at least for Python, that exposes this is: https://github.com/cloudtools/troposphere.

This gives me the full power of python, so I can build abstractions, use inheritance and encapsulation to specialize certain things.

We've done a lot of work to automate our infrastructure provisioning, but I'm interested in the abstraction layer Terraform provides -- especially for multiple providers.

How can we bridge the gap that is left by Terraform from having a fully complete programming language to define infrastructure (which has downsides but in my opinion, more upsides)?

dkarapetyan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use HashiCorp tools and I recommend them wherever I go. The reason I do that is because the tools are built with very specific use cases and are grounded in actual practices and backed by solid theory. None of their tools are something that was hacked up over the weekend. Looking forward to Terraform taking over the provisioning/deployment landscape.
mike-cardwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does it handle failures? I.e in the first example it creates a server and then creates a dns record. What if the dns record creation fails? Does it roll back everything (i.e destroy the server)? I'd probably want a system that automatically retried x times before rolling back for some situations. In other situations I'd probably want it to not roll back or only roll back some of the tasks. How flexible is it?
akoumjian 3 days ago 1 reply      
Salt Cloud provides most of these features. If this kind of thing interests you, you should check it out: http://docs.saltstack.com/en/latest/topics/cloud/
mihok 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty awesome. My question is how well does this integrate with and already setup infrastructure? Or would I have to recreate the system to get going with Terraform?
wernerb 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have been developing a tool that is almost the same called 'ozone.io'.. It leverages CMT tools such as puppet, ansible, chef. Not by writing plugins, but rather have users write or extend scripts called 'runners' that install and execute the CMT tool per node. You can checkout a prototype chef-solo runner at https://github.com/ozone-io/runner-chef-solo.

Parallel deployment of multiple clusters is also covered. It too is handled by a directed acyclic graph based on dependencies on other clusters. I am on my own and I am writing it for my thesis which will come out pretty soon.

It is created as an engine that expects cluster state. A sample input file can be seen here which is the only state you need to launch something. https://gist.github.com/wernerb/35a06e08a4d4e6cb02aa

The whole thing works declaratively, so it converges your infrastructure to the desired state. By increasing the nodes for 'smallweb' it will undergo the steps defined in the cluster lifecycle. It will then also update the configuration of the nginx load balancer.

As you can see each cluster is pinned to a provider/instanceprofile, and one of the things I am adding are affinity rules so the cluster deploys to multiple locations/providers.

It is not ready to be opensourced but if any wants to see, contribute or see more I can give view access.

What do you think?

courtf 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just stumbled across this project with the same name, and at least some of the same goals:https://github.com/UrbanCode/terraform
rsync 3 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot wait to dive into this. We (rsync.net) will absolutely make our storage a usable component in terraform.
mongrol 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does this compare to Ansible? It appears to be operate in the same space/level.
errordeveloper 3 days ago 1 reply      
On the page about integration with Consul [1], I read "Terraform can update the application's configuration directly by setting the ELB address into Consul." The questiomn is whether I can do somewhat other way around, i.e. set get information from Consul and point ELB to it, somewhat like Synapse or SmartStack... Or may be I don't need service discovery tool for this yet and can just use TF without Consul, simply configure the components of the infrastracture and the ELB? The point is just to simplify the first step and avoid adding logic to support Consul lookups in the apps... What's the easiest way here?

[1]: http://www.terraform.io/intro/examples/consul.html

onedognight 3 days ago 1 reply      
> The ~ before the Droplet means that Terraform will update the resource in-place, instead of destroying or recreating. Terraform is the first tool to have this feature of the tools which can be considered similar to Terraform

While not multi-platform, AWS's Cloud Formation does just this, it takes as its input a stateless JSON description of a set of AWS resources and their dependencies. Given a change in the desired state, it will do its best to update resources rather than creating them from scratch when possible.

sciurus 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like Terraform is launching with decent coverage of AWS resources. Thinking of my own usage, the main ones missing are ElastiCache and CloudWatch. I'm not sure how you can setup a useful autoscaling group without the latter.

EDIT: There's an issue tracking adding more at https://github.com/hashicorp/terraform/issues/28

lkrubner 3 days ago 1 reply      
Off-topic: it is interesting to me how different companies seem to dominate a space for a few years, and then recede. It's a common pattern. I can remember in 2009 when it seemed like RightScale www.rightscale.com was the dominant force creating tools to take advantage of AWS, but nowadays I never hear of them, never see anything interesting come from them. All the interesting stuff is happening elsewhere.
clarkdave 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks everyone at Hashicorp! This tool looks awesome. I wish it had been around years ago so I might have a nice version-controlled set of configuration files instead of a bunch of wiki articles and post-it notes ;)

I have a quick question I didn't see covered in the docs. Is there a best practise way to organise Terraform configuration files? Specifically when using it to manage different environments (e.g. staging, prod, qa). I'm thinking of some sort of folder structure like this:

  /    production/      web.tf    staging/      web.tf    qa/      web.tf      test-servers.tf
So, `terraform apply production` would then plan and apply changes for production servers, `terraform apply staging` the same for staging, etc.

Would be interested to know if you have any thoughts on this, or if there's some sort of paradigm you folks are using internally.

jimmcslim 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a way to encrypt variables and provide a password to decrypt when executing a plan, so that I can commit my API keys, passwords, etc to source control without fear? I'm thinking something similar to Ansible and its 'vault' concept for variables (sure Chef, Puppet, etc have something similar).
fideloper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Feels like a big meta tool!

It reads like you can use any provisioning software, use any server provider supported, use any DNS provider supported, you just need to write a bunch of configuration.

I think I like this, but it sounds complex :D

ogig 3 days ago 0 replies      
Offtopic but i guess you, hashicorp guys, would like to know; there is a typo on the geometric animation. It says "Build, Combine, and Launch Infrastucture_", should be Infrastructure.
cetra3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would this be a good fit or are there any plans to include providers for hypervisors (VMWare, Virtualbox, Xen etc.. ) Or even containers (i.e, Docker)?
jscheel 2 days ago 0 replies      
This would be great for us. Various parts of our stack are spread around so many different platforms, and this could really take the grunt work out of that. Not to mention removing the need of dealing with fifteen various shoddy interfaces. Heck, AWS isn't even consistent with itself (just check out OpsWorks vs Route53).
lukebond 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know if an API is planned? If I want to manage infrastructure from code I would love Terraform to be an option.

As a (predominantly) Node.js developer, I'd probably use pkgcloud for this sort of thing. Terraform supports a great range of providers and has some more advanced features, so I'd love to play with it as an alternative to pkgcloud.

cdnsteve 3 days ago 1 reply      
Considering Packer is written in Go, can you shed some light on this platform, what languages did you decide to use?
devcamcar 3 days ago 1 reply      
How would you compare Terraform to something like Razor? I think it might be a good one to add to your "vs Other Software" section:


joeyspn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't keep their pace! Another amazing tool from Mitchell and his crew. Hashicorp well on its way to become a DevOps juggernaut...
earless1 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a great tool. I was going to use CloudFormation to setup a new VPC in AWS, but I will give this a shot instead.
jscott0918 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is the licensing on the source code?
arasmussen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Based solely on the name and the logo, I was really hoping this was going to be an awesome game :P
cel1ne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Computer science Better living through ever higher stacks of abstraction!
eudoxus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does Terraform have any service failure related features, ie if an instances fails?
tvon 3 days ago 2 replies      
FWIW, I find the purple and blue here a bit painful to read:


peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: Terraform is modular virtual infrastructure automation. [I would say it's an orchestration tool, but that usually implies datacenter-wide resources, and this just seems to apply to cloud service providers]

"[..] Terraform combines resources from multiple services providers: we created a DigitalOcean Droplet and then used the IP address of that droplet to add a DNS record to DNSimple. This sort of infrastructure composition from code is new and extremely powerful."

Well, "new" in the sense of "we created another thing to automate infrastructure deployment and configuration". I have worked with various amalgamated solutions that do this for the past 12 years. Of course they mention that in the software comparison section, but it doesn't take away from the fact that this isn't new by a long shot.

"Terraform has a feature that is critical for safely iterating infrastructure: execution plans. Execution plans show you what changes Terraform plans on making to your infrastructure. [..] As a result, you know exactly what Terraform will do to your infrastructure to reach your desired state, and you can feel confident that Terraform won't surprise you in unexpected ways."

So it's declarative, and it has a dry-run mode.

The thing that really bugs me is the idea that you should be creating "code" to do rote tasks such as changing resources or deploying things. You know what the single most problematic thing about infrastructure changes is? Human error. It's a simple fact of user interface design that humans are less likely to fuck up a point-and-click interface than a command line program that you have to feed a hand-edited config to. And automated config generation can arguably be more error-prone.

Automation/orchestration should not simply make things happen automatically. It should make things work more reliably, and require less expertise to do so. To be frank, any code monkey with a few weeks of free time to kill can create a tool that does exactly what this one does, and that's why there are dozens of them that all do the same thing, yet we always need a new one.... because they all stink at actually making things work better.

This comic isn't just funny, it's a truism: https://xkcd.com/1319/

bfish510 3 days ago 0 replies      
My one gripe is the font choice on your homepage. Makes it very annoying to read.
616c 3 days ago 4 replies      
Mitchell, do you even sleep? Every time I see one of your tools, I feel like I need to pay you a hefty sum to teach me how to start coding productively, cuz Hashicorp output seems ferocious. Keep up the good work.
_random_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Terraform" - seriously? Making world a better place through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility?
pdenya 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a devops tool named Terraform, nothing to do with terraforming.
Eloquent JavaScript, Second Edition
591 points by ingve  1 day ago   97 comments top 23
UnfalseDesign 1 day ago 3 replies      
In regards to the book's online version, I like how it has code examples that one can edit and run inline among the book's text. I often find myself, while reading a book on a particular language, opening up a new project in an IDE or a REPL in order to fiddle around with what the book it trying to teach. This makes it much more fluid.

It was a pleasant surprise. It is a nice concept I have not previously seen done. (I'm sure someone can come up with examples of where it has previously been done before but this is the first I personally have seen it.)

poxrud 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good read. After you finish this book I'd suggest the free Javascript Allonge https://leanpub.com/javascript-allonge/readAn excellent intermediate/advanced javascript book.
RevolverOce 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been following this book for a while now and I'm pretty thrilled to see its reception here on HN. This book is an excellent introduction to front-end development (and even a little backend since it does include a chapter on Node.js)

It has an excellent balance of design patterns and introductory knowledge to attract the new and also seasoned developers who are beginning to look at javascript more seriously.

(This book is also a great primer for anyone who did not understand Javascript the Good Parts)

aboutaaron 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was a great reference when I started learning JavaScript. It just didn't go over the language, but also gave a great history of programming in general and why JavaScript is structured how it is. A lot has changed in JS land since the first version came out so I look forward to have the author tackles it/
TelusX 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is the best Javascript tutorial out there, and I was eagerly looking forward to this update. From glancing at the text, however, it seems that it doesn't cover the very significant upgrades introduced by ECMAScript 6 "Harmony".

Seeing that the standard is already being finalized towards a release in 4 months[1], this seems like an unfortunate omission in an otherwise top-notch text.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECMAScript#ECMAScript_Harmony_....

thewarrior 1 day ago 0 replies      
Inspite of all the criticism that Javascript gets it's so easy to just dive in and start messing around. The game projects seem like a lot of fun.
kasabali 6 hours ago 1 reply      
As I understand audience of the book is both experienced programmers and who hasn't done programming before. Can anyone please comment if it will be boring for experienced programmers (who are new to javascript) or not?
geppetto 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great book but... is it finished yet? Doesn't seem so [1].

[1] https://github.com/marijnh/Eloquent-JavaScript

taude 1 day ago 0 replies      
The original version is one of the readings that I suggest for experienced engineers on our team who are new to working with JavaScript.
mkesper 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Question to author: Why did you choose CC-BY-NC when you also make your contents available under MIT licence?
greg5green 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am both quite happy and a little sad that the chapter on functional programming was nixed from the first edition.

It was way over the heads of the beginners the book was aimed at, but it sure was fun to try and figure out.

donniezazen 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I want to learn decent amount of HTML/CSS/JS to beautify and improve the usability of my webpage. What would be a good source to learn these things?
humpt 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a bit off topic but does someone know how this book is generated, which tools are used?
oweiler 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Should I buy/read the second edition when I already own the first one?
gprasanth 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been wanting to read this. Sweet: https://gist.github.com/g-P/cbdfd4a4b982ba8fa04b
mesozoic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looking forward to reading it. Is there a place to report bugs I noticed a type in the first chapter

"Casual computing has become become much "

derengel 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why is the paper book delayed until november? also the paper book says it has 400 pages, does the paper book has more content?
uptownJimmy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent. I've been awaiting this one. I'm at the perfect sweet spot to make maximum use of it.

And I do love good writing...

niix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Always wanted to take the time to complete this book. Looking forward to diving into the 2nd edition.
andreash 1 day ago 3 replies      
Mobi or epub version anyone?
silverwind 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thoroughly enjoyed the first edition, looking forward to this.
cmoon820 1 day ago 0 replies      
beders 1 day ago 4 replies      
"These ideas were initially worked out in the 1970s and 80s, and, in the 90s, were carried up by a huge wave of hypethe object-oriented programming revolution. Suddenly, there was a large tribe of people declaring that objects were the right way to program, and that anything that did not involve objects was outdated nonsense.

That kind of zealotry always produces a lot of impractical silliness, and there has been a sort of counter-revolution since then. In some circles, objects have a rather bad reputation nowadays."

Eloquent JS, maybe, eloquent writing. Not in this book.

Trello Spins Out of Fog Creek With $10.3M
589 points by moritzplassnig  7 days ago   162 comments top 36
johnyzee 7 days ago 7 replies      
Cool to see Fog Creek succeed like this. I've been following Joel for almost fifteen years (the now defunct Fog Creek message boards were some of the best on the internet for a couple of years).

From the beginning Joel made a simple assertion: Hire great people, give them a great environment, then sit back and watch them kick ass. He said this before all of this became conventional industry wisdom (and probably played a major role ushering it in). With products like CityDesk, FogBugz, and Copilot failing or seemingly meandering, it didn't really seem like much would come of it. But they kept at it and look at them now. I guess good software does take ten years (give or take) [1].

Of course it didn't hurt that Joel is one of the best bloggers who ever done it, and I'm sure at least Stack Overflow benefited tremendously from being seeded with Joel's captive audience, but they have still executed the hell out of it and continue to do so, and obviously continue to spawn awesome stuff on the side.

[1] http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000017.html

filmgirlcw 7 days ago 2 replies      
I love Trello. We use it as our editorial workflow board at Mashable (meaning it is where stories live from assignment (or sometimes conception) to the various editing/publishing phases. We use it to visually see what is publishing next, to see embargos or scheduled posts for different areas and more importantly, to see what everyone else is working on.

To me, that's the hallmark of a good tool: when it can be used in an industry it really wasn't designed for (publishing workflow) as if it was built for that purpose.

Props to Joel and to Trello!

DigitalJack 7 days ago 5 replies      
I like trello and use it for personal stuff occasionally, but the work I do just can't be hosted somewhere else. Legally. So I hate web apps and cloud this, cloud that, mostly because they are no good to me.

The type of work I do would change before the need for controlled local hosting will--in other words it might be that mine line of work will become obsolete or transform so dramatically that the requirement of controlled local hosting is moot. That would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

vojtech 7 days ago 1 reply      
Co-founder of Trello Joel Spolsky wrote a blog post about today's news. Worth reading if you're interested in the thinking behind the deal: http://indexventures.com/news-room/news/trello-raises-10m-se...
wsxcde 7 days ago 1 reply      
Great to see Trello, Fog Creek and Joel doing well.

Joel/Fog Creek are one of the few entities in the startup ecosystem that I read about and think to myself, I want to be a CEO like Joel and build a company like Fog Creek.

A lot of startups claim they want to "change the world." And I think Joel can actually claim to have done that thanks to his influential blog and the humane company culture he's setup at Fog Creek. And this is without even counting stack exchange.

jhonovich 7 days ago 1 reply      
So Trello is not currently profitably? "Fog Creek is profitable and could afford to fund Trello development to profitability." Given its growth rate and presumably low sales / marketing expenses, it would seem to be easy for them to be profitable.

What is their revenue? There's 4.5 million 'members' though less than 25% have used it in the last 28 days, from what the chart shows http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2014/07/24.html

Is it just that very few of these people are paying currently? I do see they are adding a business class tier now.

uniclaude 7 days ago 4 replies      
That's great!

Trello is one of those apps that you can dismiss too fast because you think it doesn't do enough, but which to come back to because everything else is too complex. I've been using it extensively, and it has almost gone viral around me. As in, every time someone needs to manage a project, I hear "Hey, what was this simple project management software you told me you're using for everything you do?", and there comes a new Trello user.

I even remember using it for managing my own time when I was working for a large Japanese company that was using excel spreadsheets to manage projects, so I could have a clear interface and use a quick and dirty piece of JS I wrote to generate the sacrosanct Daily Reports I was asked to provide.

weavie 7 days ago 5 replies      
It's incredible how such a simple idea could become so big.

I'm sat here trying to think up some grand scheme that's going to make me my millions. Its a great lesson that really all I need is a simple idea. The key is in the execution. Take that simple idea and develop (and market) it to perfection.

andygcook 7 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how this type of spin out works? I would imagine FogCreek has an ownership stake in the company for "seed funding" Trello with resources.
8ig8 7 days ago 0 replies      
FogBugz users: Did you know you can drag FogBugz cases into Trello cards? Spolsky shared the secret...


executive 7 days ago 6 replies      
We would use Trello if they added two things:

1) simple way to delete a card, list, or board (not this archive nonsense)

2) multiple lists in a column

nilkn 7 days ago 1 reply      
Is Trello getting its own office space or will it still cohabit the same space as Fog Creek?
chucknelson 7 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using Trello daily for over a year now to keep track of projects and tasks at work, and it has been great. While I sometimes freak out that Trello alone holds my work to-do list (instead of nice, safe paper and pen), I have yet to experience any significant downtime or lost data.

Good luck to them!

jogzden 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's really great to see good things coming Trello's way with all of this. Those guys have worked ridiculously hard at it.

I distinctly remember them keeping Trello running through a disaster and keeping all of it's users informed. Great job, guys!

juvoni 7 days ago 0 replies      
Trello's simplicity and ease of use almost makes you feel like you're using pen and paper and that's truly powerful and why so many people can learn how to use it with so little onboarding.

Trello has a good balance of blending to your workflow and having your workflow blend to it.

I was even able to find a clever way to use trello to manage all of my personal reading: http://juvoni.com/trello-book-reading-management/

ksec 7 days ago 2 replies      
$10.3M for How many %? And what is it value at?

I couldn't find the information anywhere.

Brajeshwar 7 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to Trello. I user Trello for almost everything, from planning what to buy/not-to-buy, travel planning, to choosing a school for my daughter.
8ig8 7 days ago 1 reply      
> Fog Creek, which was founded in 2000 and is owned by employees

What happens to the Fog Creek employees? Do they have a stake in the new companies?

mehrdada 6 days ago 0 replies      
> In 2010, the company spun off Stack Exchange Inc.

This is not what actually happened. As far as I remember, Stack Overflow had nothing to do with Fog Creek per se, except for Joel begin a founder of both. Stack Exchange Inc. grew from Stack Overflow Internet Services LLC which Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky were founders of. Fog Creek did not make Stack Overflow.

k-mcgrady 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great news, congratulations. I'm interested to hear what people think about it's chance of survival now. As part of Fog Creek they started monetising Trello and had a chance of building a long-term business. Now with the investment there is greater risk they will end up acquired and shut down. On all the Trello threads here people have always been very worried about that scenario.
sahil_videology 7 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on the funding from a happy gold member. I use it to manage (and not forget) all the many small things I need to do or to keep track of ideas for the future. One of the biggest features is that is does not mandate a workflow because it's just boards with lists with cards. I use it in ways partly inspired by Kanban, Getting Things Done, and the typical calendar.
krosaen 7 days ago 0 replies      
After trying so many tools, pivotal tracker, asana, google docs, Trello was so refreshing and easy to use I immediately became an evangelist. I think a key feature is you can share it with non-techincal folks and it makes sense to at least some degree right away. Yay Trello, happy you will be around for a long time to come!
fred_durst 7 days ago 0 replies      
One of the biggest things I loved about Joel and the entire Fog Creek / SO history is that it always felt like a company. A real business with real people. Not a cartoon and not a sweatshop. I hope with this news Trello continues down that path.
skrish 7 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing to see the journey of a a blogger & company I have admired for the past 15 years. His blog was one of those inspirations for me to want to start building my own business. Big fan of Trello here. Many congratulations.
chiubaka 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that's pretty cool. Didn't realize Trello wasn't already it's own thing.

What do you all use Trello for? I've tried a number of different task management systems, including Trello, but I haven't yet found a use case for Trello feels 100% perfect. Curious to hear how others are using it!

tenzinnorgay 6 days ago 0 replies      
Love how Trello is customizable to everything I want. Easy to integrate with other services, utilize their card feature and generally make task management easier. Very happy for the Trello and Fog Creek team. Look forward to seeing how it evolves on its own these coming years!
zkar 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else seeing lots of parallels in functionality between Trello and Google Keep (keep.google.com). I have been using keep a lot since google got rid of their google.com/ig homepage. Not finding a overwhelming reason to migrate to Trello.
doorhammer 7 days ago 0 replies      
disclaimer: There's absolutely no real thought about how I'd implement this as I'm saying it.

I like trello a lot. I'm practically obsessed with it.

It works really well for my small teams and my personal life.

A couple people have said it doesn't scale well to larger teams (with necessary ymmv disclaimers).

I wonder if that's because of how inherently formless and simple it is (which I think is its strength). It's a very general metaphor that narrows to lots of specific use cases easily. It'd be interesting if there were more optional constraints you could add to boards/cards/etc to formalize a specific workflow. I'm just shooting from the hip here, not sure what that would look like.

deevus 6 days ago 1 reply      
I love Trello. I have used it for several years now at work and for personal projects.

One thing I would like to know is what the hell is Yammer? Microsoft bought them out for 1.2 billion and I've never heard of it.

joshbert 7 days ago 0 replies      
Trello is such a fantastic tool, I use it every single day. It has stood the test of time for me, unlike Evernote, Clipboard and many others. This is fantastic news, kudos to the Trello team.
blowski 7 days ago 0 replies      
On a side note, Fog Creek is only linked with Stack Overflow, in that Joel Spolsky is on the management team of both - http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/53251
richardwigley 7 days ago 12 replies      
I would be interested if anyone has used this for project management?
sergiotapia 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wish Trello would allow me to keep track of time for individual cards. None of this 'addon' nonsense, just bake it right in there. :)
mark_integerdsv 6 days ago 0 replies      
Used Fogbugz at my second real job in the world. Read a ton of this guys blogs.

Good on ya man!

ireadzalot 7 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Trello team! I use it everyday to track my personal work. I used it on web and on mobile apps.
AndrewDucker 7 days ago 3 replies      
You're being downvoted because you're not adding anything to the conversation.

If you have _specific_ things you dislike about Trello, or advice for people to make it look more how you'd like, then _that_ would be something that people would be interested in (and vote up).

The Lowdown on Lidar
473 points by timdierks  11 hours ago   213 comments top 26
kudu 9 hours ago 11 replies      
Why do HN mods keep changing the title from meaningful ones, which make the reader interested in the content, to generic, vague ones? You'll see that there's definitely a correlation between the moment that HN mods change the title and the post dropping off the top frontpage spot.
taeric 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I confess I was expecting to not care for this. I'm not sure how any of it should be surprising, as it seemed fairly straight forward analysis of the tools.

That said, this was a ridiculously fun read. More detailed than expected for some parts, and always informative. I'm glad it did not come across as anti speed detectors. Really more of a "know the limitations."

ihaveajob 10 hours ago 14 replies      
Speed radars are good for speed traps, but not so great to prevent speed related incidents. They share the same fatal flaw with all other single-point speed meters: You can just slow down for a minute, while you pass by the speed trap, and then speed up for the rest of your trip. Instead, a 2-point speed meter (i.e. license plate readers every few miles, measuring time between matching reads) system is superior because a) their margin of error is negligible and b) they measure sustained speed over a long distance rather than at a single hot spot, thus making roads safer. I can't believe it's not implanted at least in all interstate freeways.
ylhert 9 hours ago 2 replies      
LIDAR sucks and there is no judicial notice on it in California. If you ever get a LIDAR ticket, do a trial by written declaration (or TBD). Just state that you dispute the validity and accuracy of the LIDAR reading and they'll usually throw it out. Remember to ask the officer(after he has given you your ticket) what model laser/radar detector he was using, and at what distance he measured you at. Anything over 800/1000 ft(this is really close, and rarely do they get you this close) will usually automatically be struck down if you question LIDAR's validity at that distance. That is a case you will win every time, if you do it right. The court cannot prove it's accuracy at these ranges and they know it. Also, rule of thumb, all CHP officers have laser only on their bikes now.source: I used to have a Lancer Evolution
MattGrommes 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As a college intern at a national lab my boss' boss got a speeding ticket on the military base we worked on. He spent some time doing research and when he presented his evidence in court the judge apparently told him he wasn't going to have to pay the fine but the judge wasn't going to find him not guilty because he wasn't going to risk invalidating all speed gun findings. I don't recall if it was lidar but it's funny the stories are so similar. It's hard to use technology to mess with engineers. :)
justinsb 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Can anyone tell me why speeding tickets aren't enforced with video cameras (like red-light tickets are)? It would seem to be much more accurate, much easier to enforce, and much harder to dispute.

Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of speed limit laws, I do believe that consistent and efficient enforcement can only be a good thing.

leephillips 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope this information, or the equivalent, filters into the awareness of judges. I was in traffic court in Virginia last year and, as I was waiting for my case, heard the judge explain to several defendants who were there to challenge their lidar tickets that the lidar was essentially infallible and could not be confused by other cars on the road. And this was an intelligent judge who seemed unusually sympathetic to the accused.
jstalin 8 hours ago 1 reply      
In Michigan, a speeding ticket is a civil infraction, not a criminal offense, so the legal standard is preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt, as the slide deck says. I suspect it's the same in California.
mrfusion 8 hours ago 4 replies      
When I was a teenager I tried to fight a speeding ticket, and prepared a presentation like this with several good points (I think).

Come court day, I got all dressed up, stood up when called and started my arguments ... and the judge simply cut me off after two sentences and said "guilty".

I'm surprised this guy was allowed to present his whole argument and it actually convinced a judge.

zinxq 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Josh Bloch is awesome.

For the non-java inclined, he wrote (among other things) java.util.HashMap. Most all Java programs run (lots) of his code.

privong 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Anecdotally, I heard of an astronomer in a similar situation, who attempted to prove the radar gun used to "catch" him speeding was incapable of measuring the speed accurately enough (presenting info on the radar gun's sampling properties and on sampling theory; I forget the specifics). Supposedly the judge maintained the speeding violation but reduced the man's fine for "entertaining the court".
darkmighty 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think he missed a couple important points. The sweep effect, shaking and aiming are more amenable to signal processing than it seems, depending on the resolution and noise in the system. I tried to illustrate in pictures:

1) Just to demonstrate that a nonuniform sweep is amenable to detection or processing, consider this picture, with the correct estimate in green:http://imgur.com/FsPAwCn

2) Now imagine the device is more sophisticated. Consider it has a very large resolution around the incoming pulse:http://imgur.com/z8UrhUwIn this case the beam width is actually beneficial, and so are large distances. The sweep effect would cause a shift in the peak intensity shown in the graph, but the object depth frustrum should be clear across samples (and dislocating at t'=t-v*dt/c).

3) Officers can be trained to recognize situations unforable, regardless of distance. One fast car passing a slow one would make it easy to confuse the equipment. A clear desert however doesn't present many threats for error.

dzhiurgis 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps anyone can explain me why Lidar is not dangerous to sight?

Whenever you see anyone working with lasers they'd wear protective glasses. Now I realise Lidar uses infrared wavelength which is not visible to us, but that does not mean it's not dangerous, or does it?

PeterWhittaker 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent presentation with considerable technical information, e.g., weaknesses in the LIDAR approach, operational realities that reduce accuracy, etc., and some legal background, e.g., limiting LIDAR to 1000' or less in some jurisdictions - but contrast with overall lack of case law.

Could be of value to anyone wishing to fight a ticket.

Shivetya 2 hours ago 2 replies      
How does the officer confirm which vehicle the LIDAR selected? I have never been clear on this point.
awjr 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The reading was taken at a distance of 1300 feet with a handheld device that is not meant to be used handheld beyond 1000 feet. That's a significant distance. I'm assuming the cop was hiding or trying to stay hidden.
darksim905 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of this is common knowledge now. You can check out guys of LIDAR who research these types of guns & how accurate their findings are. This is also why cops should be taught to do several speed readings & to point at the vehicle, not the headlights. Also, depending on the paint, it can also cloak the vehicle's speed or make it take longer to get back to the gun.
supernova87a 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So regardless of the science behind it, what is the successful legal forum / mechanism to raise doubt about the accuracy of the technology being used by police?
voidlogic 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've wondered sometimes if it would be possible to fight erroneous speeding tickets using the repeated GPS pings your phone or nav unit makes while using them for directions.
ARothfusz 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Well, he fought with half science: he came up with a set of testable hypotheses, but didn't actually run any of the tests. I guess that's as scientific as cosmology :-)
trhway 3 hours ago 0 replies      
now if only somebody published a similarly powerful defense on "traffic control device violation" :)
DEinspanjer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
All the talk in this thread about various forms of speed management and fines remind me of an article I read a while back about a Swedish test program that used fines from speeders as the funds for a lottery that people driving at or under the limit were entered into automatically:http://www.wired.com/2010/12/swedish-speed-camera-pays-drive...
xchaotic 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Exec summary: a geek/nerd gets a speeding ticket driving a porsche.5 years later he's still doing powerpoints on it rather than getting a life
chillingeffect 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The highlights:

1. Lidar gun manufacturers test them on limited and ideal circumstances

2. Beam divergence and shakiness make them less useful past 1000 feet, which is generally acknowledged.

ape4 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't Google's self driving cars use LIDAR.
thrownaway2424 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Alternate title: some guy says he was doing the limit in a Porsche.
Math Intuition Cheatsheet
474 points by jgrodziski  7 days ago   64 comments top 18
bithive123 6 days ago 4 replies      
I am often saddened by how much easier it has been for me to acquire computer science versus mathematical literacy. Embarrassingly, years after a poorly-timed calculus course left me thinking I had to be able to prove the central limit theorem in order to use calculus, the biggest barriers have turned out to be things programming as a discipline has learned to avoid; encouraging varied and/or terse notations, opaque variable naming schemes, and arbitrary use of jargon where simpler terms would suffice.

A friend of mine who is a physicist once complained to me that every time he had to install some scientific software package on his computer, he had to deal with a litany of arbitrary things which seemed to have nothing to do with his task. I countered with my experience learning math and joked that at least programmers are willing to occasionally refresh our idioms and notations to better reflect our mutual understanding.

arianvanp 6 days ago 1 reply      
I started my 1st year in college doing both math and computer science majors. I really love math but I just hate how (especially calculus and linear algebra courses) they just don't work on growing any intuition at all. in contrast, in my CS major we had a linear algebra class (ugh overlapping classes, huh) as well and we used computer graphics as a case study to learn about the basic concepts which was really fun and enlightening.

Eventually I just ragequit math because I didn't have the patience and time to search for the intuition myself, which is a pitty. I'm really happy I followed the classes about mathematical proofs, groups etc because I really enjoyed those but others were just painful.

Anyhow recently I discovered this blog too up my math concerning computer science is this: http://jeremykun.com/. It's a tad more advanced than this but I'd really recommend it. His blog is freaking amazing and always a joy to read. Math as a sidehobby it is! :)

fenomas 7 days ago 2 replies      
This is terrific. I'm mathy enough to know e to several places, and use it in programs occasionally, but if you'd asked me how it might be intuitively derived I'd have been at a loss. And that's just for something inside my comfort zone - the article on linear algebra is just as illuminating.

This looks like it will be my commute reading for the week. But more than that it just makes me happy that it exists.

akrolsmir 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'd read Yudkowsky's popular "An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem" as well as a few others, but the article on this site made me feel like I actually understood it for the first time. The examples were clever, short, and simple, while still demonstrating how powerful Bayes' Theorem can be.

The concise explanations here seem more helpful than semester-long university courses I've taken. I definitely look forward to exploring his other articles on math and programming.

gajomi 6 days ago 1 reply      
What an excellent collection of articles (well, I only ready a few, but I would like to think my experience extrapolates to the rest)! But I don't think "cheatsheet" is really the right word. Really this is a collection of short expository writings on particular mathematical concepts. And very well done, I think, to the point that calling it a "cheatsheet" (which I associate with a haphazardly conjoined sequence of facts and tricks out of context) is to do it a disservice. Or maybe the name choice has some marketing value?
jgrodziski 6 days ago 1 reply      
For me the best one from Kalid is the explanation of the fourier transform:http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-...

This article is simply amazing, moreover Kalid is an humble person and references his inspirations from several people over the web.Thank you very much Kalid for the time you dedicated to share all this wonderful resources.

NoPiece 6 days ago 1 reply      
I really like this cheatsheet, it is very inspiring actually. You should consider doing a version written for elementary school aged kids. You need to get buy in while they are still young!
adamwong246 6 days ago 0 replies      
Sure could have used this site a couple years ago when I was in school!
ithinkso 6 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea but I personally really enjoy and prefer 'math english'. At first it may seems odd but after a while you get used to it and it's actually easier, you just scan through epsilons, deltas knowing exactly what they mean. Intuition has edge-case scenarios, double-meanings and almost-truths. I don't know why, but I think intuition (pseudocode math as someone had named it) gives a little bit of a 'illusion' of knowledge. You think you got it but are you really?
omnibrain 6 days ago 0 replies      
Those explanations remind me of Feynman's explanation of elliptical orbits.
RobinL 6 days ago 1 reply      
This September, I'm starting tutoring A level maths to underprivileged kids for a charity after helping them with GCSEs last year. This looks like it will be really helpful. Thanks!
curiousDog 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is gold. Please do point to more resources like this.
agumonkey 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love the content, just wishing for some of their views on explaining electronic circuit design.
Sharma 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this! I just read a small portion of Integration and trust me, it all make sense now!
factsfinder 6 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like there are a lot of things i need to learn in maths
pawannitj 6 days ago 0 replies      
Are there other resources like this on Math?
FlyingLawnmower 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great work. Please keep adding examples!
Mistral 6 days ago 0 replies      
Super, but no induction!
445 points by antr  3 days ago   176 comments top 29
minivan 3 days ago 15 replies      
Cool, hopefully it will replace the All Songs Considered audio stream (which is great).

Side note: Is it just me, or this "scroll to reveal stuff in steps" is a bit frustrating? It seems to be used more and more often and I am sometimes puzzled by the fact that I'm missing the scrolling step. I try scrolling and get either too far (which shows half an image coming from above) or don't get anywhere (which makes me scroll more and skip steps).Here's an example: http://www.spendeeapp.com/

Am I doing something wrong?

mmanfrin 3 days ago 3 replies      
I really appreciate NPR. They truly try to embetter their offerings. It's nice that we have a source of news that is not beholden to advertisers or corporate interests (although the number of 'This content was made possible by donations from...' I hear at the end of the larger shows is a bit worrying).

I just wish Says You would release their episodes as a podcast.

ruytlm 3 days ago 15 replies      
This is all well and good, but why does everyone need to have their own damn app?

This is the biggest problem with audio apps these days - you get everyone trying to make a similar thing, and because they're all competing they all try and lock each other out of their own products.

What would be so much better is a content-agnostic platform, that'll let you play whatever the hell you want - whether it's music, talk radio, podcasts, whatever.

Seriously - why does everyone assume that if I want to listen to e.g. NPR, I only want to listen to NPR?

dctoedt 3 days ago 7 replies      
If this catches on, it might disintermediate (EDIT: or accelerate the existing disintermediation of) the local public radio stations, which will then lose donations, which will then be less able to do local reporting. (Of course I'm not sure our Houston public radio station does all that much local reporting to start with.)
arcticfox 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was hoping that I could say: "Yes, I like Radiolab" and "No, I don't like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", but that doesn't seem to be a feature. This would be perfect if they added it!
anigbrowl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Good stuff, but your feed will be 'hadcrafted'? No it won't. That specifically means a human being involved in structuring your feed at the other end I seriously doubt that's the case. Words have meanings beyond their emotional marketing value, subverting them for commercial ends will eventually erode the trust of your audience.
techpeace 3 days ago 0 replies      
Rather than some aimless techie kvetching, I'd just like to pass along a hearty congrats to the folks who made this happen. Great work, and I'm excited to use it!
CapitalistCartr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Every corporate/large organization Web site wants me to use their app. I already have an app! It's the Web browser. It already plays video and audio.
x1798DE 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand why this needs to be an app. I listen to many things that aren't NPR, and I don't want to switch between BeyondPod and NPR One just to get some sort of curated list. This reminds me of a few years ago where a bunch of podcasts were offering personalized apps that just downloaded the archives and maybe some extra content. I might have paid for the extra content, but I didn't need an app on my phone for every podcast I listen to.

Assuming the killer feature here is that it's curated or somehow personalized, and not just something that plays all NPR shows (the page is a bit vague), it seems like you could replace this with a service that generates personalized RSS feeds on the fly, server-side. That way it can integrate directly into your own podcast-listening workflow, where you might have plugins or some specific setup that you prefer to use.

marineboudeau 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug: WNYC is experimenting in this space as well with Discover [http://www.wnyc.org/mobile] - contains our local, national content but also others': NPR, PRX, etc. It works on the subway, while you're offline.

We're really excited about NPR One, too and glad to be part of it as well.

kbenson 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm relieved they have an android app. From listening to NPR, one could almost think andoid was some niche player, based on the amount of free press the iphone gets. That may have eased up some recently, but for a while it felt like they had some meeting where they decided to replace "smartphone" with "iphone" in everything they said.
ejfox 3 days ago 2 replies      
I scrolled through this whole thread looking for a mention of Swell who have been my go-to app for this purpose for the past couple of months (feels like it's been forever though, can't imagine life without it).

I pretty much get NPR hourly news updates, Fresh Air, interspersed with episodes of Marc Maron's WTF and some random stuff like A16Z and stuff from the BBC. It's pretty much ideal.

I love NPR, and before Swell would just have the local station on all day, but I find that NPR doesn't make enough content to fill up a whole day of straight listening (at least not enough content that I like) - I wonder if the NPR One app would automatically find shows from their archive that I might be interested in to fill the time.

I'd be curious if other users of Swell will be switching to this app, or if they, like me, see it as a slightly different and improved model to tie together content from a variety of different sources.

brianbreslin 3 days ago 0 replies      
My first thought was "I hope this is paid like pandora." I would love to be able to purchase content in app, or at least contribute through the app. Maybe split the proceeds with my local npr station so we can end those annoying fund raising drives.
tomjen3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Beware if you use google or facebook to login to it (what the fuck do you need to login in the first place) it requires the right to get your friends lists and to post content on your behalf.
danielweber 3 days ago 2 replies      
Scroll down broken here. First I have to click on the page to get scrolling to work. Then as I use the space bar to scroll down, the dots change but often the text does not.
jonmagic 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why does the app need microphone access? I missed the blurb when you first open the app and can't seem to figure out how to replay it now.
grrrando 3 days ago 6 replies      
Anyone else find the concept a little weird? NPR is already like this in many ways (heavily left-leaning) so this argument is already somewhat moot, but: hearing news stories tailored just for me sounds ignorant. News shouldn't be a thing which I am allowed to filter based on my biases.
meandave 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty great, I actually hacked together a little terminal interface to search through all of their stations and stream straight to your shell. Started pulling it apart to also provide a webaudio interface. Looks like they have that covered now though
rglover 3 days ago 8 replies      
Super cool. Only thing, though, is that they should be charging for this. Seeing as how NPR stations rely on listener donations, this seems like a missed opportunity to earn some extra revenue and bolster the budget for stations.
djhworld 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love NPR and listen to a few of their podcasts via PocketCasts.

Not sure if I'd actually use this app, but just wanted to say you guys in the states are fortunate to have NPR producing top quality radio!

jcburns 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh please, NPR, take the money you spend on developing fancy misguided apps that supposedly serve up "curated content" and spend it on more reporters' salaries.

Lots more reporters. Lots and LOTS more reporters. The world is a big place, and the list of crucial, complex, reportable issues is growing by the day.

Then we can enjoy the "curation" work of the producers of the fine programs you put on the air and onlinehave you heard them? They're really a pretty good example of curated content. (Of course, those programs used to simply be called good broadcast journalism.)

zellyn 3 days ago 1 reply      
On my Nexus 5, this went through the login/signup process, but now crashes on startup. Every time.

Anyone else had better luck?

thekevan 3 days ago 1 reply      
No browser version?
chris_mahan 3 days ago 0 replies      
National Personal Radio?
m1117 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like using AGOGO that includes NPR too
ck2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why not for my desktop browser too?
ForHackernews 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope it's better than the "This American Life" Android app. I'm still angry that I spent real money on a buggy mobile interface that freezes and crashes for podcasts that are free in a normal browser.
mikeash 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the idea. I listen to NPR a fair amount but it's always a bit hit or miss as to whether I'll catch it at an interesting moment, since my listening is basically "whenever I happen to be in the car, or possibly out for a walk where I don't want to enjoy quietude." I work around it to an extent with podcasts of shows I like, but that works poorly for anything related to news.
hodgesmr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Xbox One.

Pandora One.

Ubuntu One.

NPR One.

Stop it!

Australia bans reporting of multi-nation corruption case
416 points by abritishguy  2 days ago   130 comments top 20
eng_monkey 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have no doubt that Australia has significant higher levels of fraud and corruption than what is usually perceived by society. The problem is that the press here reports virtually nothing, probably as a consequence of the strange defamation and libel laws that we have.

As an example, I have witness of two significant cases of fraud in the last 5 years. In the first, a lawyer stole more than $2 million from trust accounts. The second was a professor from a major university who misused close to $100K from grants. In both cases, the matters were dealt with internally (returning money, compensating victims, etc.) and no single piece of information about this went to the press.

femto 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Followup: With the leaked court order, the Australian government has been forced to make a media release to the effect that people (such as the President of Indonesia) mentioned in the order are not accused of any crime [1]. We have the amazing situation where Australian's are expected to swallow a media release, without being allowed to know what it is about. The mind boggles.

Mind you, this is the same system that is directing doctors not to report hundreds of cases of self harm among child refugees [2], so the culture of censorship is endemic.

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/indone...

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/detention-centre-inqui...

fblp 2 days ago 5 replies      
From the article: - The court made this order to:

"- prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings.These orders are made on the grounds that they are:

- necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice that cannot be prevented by other reasonably available means; and

- necessary to prevent prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth in relation to national security. "

The court would be very careful about making such orders and Australia has one of the strongest separations between the courts and the government. This means that the decision is likely to be made for fair administration of justice rather than for political reasons.

hadoukenio 2 days ago 0 replies      
And with that, I just made my first WikiLeaks donation.
femto 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Australian media is dutifully reporting on an organisation that I will leave nameless.


jpatokal 2 days ago 0 replies      
This appears to be about the Reserve Bank of Australia/Securency corruption scandal, which has already been all over the Australia media since 2009? Given the recent dates, though, apparently there's some juicy info in the affadavit (which was not released) that hasn't been leaked to the press yet.


zmmmmm 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting how transparently self contradictory the document is. Clause 5 simply says:

    > The purpose of these orders is to prevent damage to    > Australia's international relation...
In other words, the entire purpose is political. However this was obviously insufficient grounds, so the next clause says:

    > These orders are made on the grounds that they are:    >    > necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to    > the proper administration of justice that cannot be prevented by    > other reasonably available means; and necessary to prevent    > prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth in relation to    > national security.
So suddenly it is about "justice" and "national security". So the suppression order to suppress corruption is corrupt itself, and doesn't really even try to hide it, safe in the knowledge that it, itself, is supressed.

yen223 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yet another reason for my home country of Malaysia to be in the news, and not in a positive way.

Malaysia, what happened to you?

jamhan 2 days ago 3 replies      
Typical "smear by association" (without any link whatsoever) from the left: "It is ironic that it took Tony Abbott to bring the worst of 'Asian Values' to Australia."
sjy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Arguably, the Wikileaks summary goes too far in claiming that the order "forbids any discloures (sic), by publication or otherwise, of any information relating to the court case by anyone." The order is limited to disclosure that "reveals, implies, suggests or alleges" that various specified politicians received, attempted to receive, or were intended to receive a bribe.

It is not really clear that the orders themselves (sans the Bird affidavit) "suggest" that bribes were attempted or intended. It's also unclear whether the explicit inclusion of "the terms of these orders" is supposed to resolve this question or merely state that disclosure of the orders themselves could be an offence.

Perhaps this explains why the affidavit itself wasn't leaked.

locusm 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is this around the RBA bank note printing scandal?Check out the Four Corners doco on it.http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/09/30/3857148.ht...
danieltillett 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish wikileaks would leak Gillian Bird's affidavit - this must be pretty juicy.
pithcheroo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting tidbit on the drama in vietnam. http://m.canberratimes.com.au/national/envoys-link-with-viet...
igonvalue 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't forget to click the "Read the full press release here" link for more context from WikiLeaks. For some reason, I thought that would just take me to the original document located further down the same page (so I didn't find the page until I got to it indirectly via search engine). I wonder if anyone else made the same mistake?


majika 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can I publish a link to this page on my website? Or is this link now illegal in Australia? What about a link to this HN submission?

This is ridiculous. Unfortunately, authoritarianism is the norm in Australia; we are the quintessential nanny state.

robzyb 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Subject to further order, order 1 does not prevent provision of material by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to Note Printing Australia Pty Ltd and its legal representatives, provided any such material is provided together with a copy of these orders.

Unsurprising given:


camino020 1 day ago 1 reply      
Australia's head of state is the queen of England ruling them through her Governor General. What other things don't they don't know? Oh, and by the way same goes for Canada.
tomjen3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since HN is not in Australia, what exactly is it that we are not allowed to know?
Estragon 2 days ago 3 replies      

  ...unprecedented suppression order by the Australian Supreme Court in   Melbourne, Victoria...
Minor nit: It sounds like strictly speaking, this order is from the Victorian Supreme Court (state level), not the Australian Supreme Court, which is the High Court in Canberra.



tootie 2 days ago 3 replies      
Isn't this pretty normal? In the US a judge can bar the press from covering a trial in progress if they believe it could prejudice the jury or create a circus. They will still be allowed to report everything once there's a verdict.
Free, Worldwide, Encrypted Phone Calls for iPhone
400 points by david_shaw  2 days ago   194 comments top 34
david_shaw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Many people are already familiar with Moxie Marlinspike's WhisperSystems because of their Android apps: RedPhone for encrypted calls, and TextSecure for SMS messages.

The release of Signal is a pretty big deal for iOS users; previously, we had to consider a paid option like Silent Circle, or a larger corporate option like FaceTime Audio (which isn't really the same).

Although I haven't actually used the app yet (it's registering now), the screenshots appear to be a fairly direct port of RedPhone to iOS.

Edit: Yep! And it looks like Signal users can make secure calls to contacts with RedPhone installed, too. Very nice.

FredericJ 2 days ago 4 replies      
Hey,I'm the co-lead developer of Signal.We're looking for help with translations, help us out to bring Signal to as many people as possible: https://www.transifex.com/projects/p/signal-ios/We also pay per commit if you want to help on Open Whisper Systems projects: http://bithub.whispersystems.org/
autodidakto 2 days ago 4 replies      
Please authenticate with something that's not a phone number! I guess that's the simplest for most people (look at WhatsApp), but the reason why I use things like Signal is because I despise cell carriers. I'd like to use this on a (cheaper) non-cellular device (for myself and family members).

The Holy Grail of Secure Communications: Group Encrypted Text, Voice, and Video. Right now, Skype gives you the unholy grail, but you get all three (+group). I wish Open Whisper Systems luck.

eggbrain 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's great that we have more privacy options for phone calls, texts, etc. But we still need a great "Privacy" phone, right?

There's been attempts to do so recently (Blackphone, PrivacyPhone), but both have suffered from the same fault: a binary blob for the baseband, something that renders all your privacy moot. I've heard the best recommendation is a tablet + USB LTE dongle, to put some space between the two processors ("firewalling" the baseband processor a bit).

Is there a better way than this? Has anyone kinda walked through all the steps neccesary to have a private/"secure" phone?

That being said, congratulations to Whisper Systems -- their work on things like TextSecure and Redphone have been awesome. I hope one day they do a Kickstarter for a whole secure mobile operating system.

rdl 2 days ago 4 replies      
Why is the App Store application search process so horrible? I agree, "Signal" and "Whisper" are bad things to have to search for, but there's basically no way to enter a simple memorable text string in the store and get the right app.

I ended up using a browser on the phone to go to the HN article to go to the right app store link.

I can't believe this hasn't been solved.

StavrosK 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wanted to donate $5 to BitHub using Bitcoin, but Coinbase's overlay doesn't allow you to change the amount (typing a new amount in does nothing). Does anyone know of a way around this?

Moxie, if you see this, can you publish some static address we can send funds to as well?

eliteraspberrie 2 days ago 3 replies      
It would be nice if the server software were open source as well.

Call routing information, like all metadata, can only be protected legally not cryptographically. So it's not something I trust to people outside Canada, no matter how much esteem I have for them.

13throwaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great job guys! I'm a big fan of what whisper systems is doing. Why is this not called redphone though? Does it have different features?

Edit: Looks like the article says it is part of a plan to merge redphone and textsecure.

rbcgerard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who is Riddle Quiet Ventures, LLC? They appear to be the "seller in the App Store"
dm2 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wish they had text messaging. I've been waiting so long for this and it lacks the major feature we need! Hopefully it'll come soon.

The reason why this is important these days is that law enforcement now has more access (because the technology is cheaper) to fake cell towers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray_phone_tracker

Many states are denying FOIA requests regarding this spying but there are several news stories from this year of data obtained from these fake "towers" being used in court. They can be put in vans or just be near people or be used at any large gathering of people.

I used an Android phone with RedPhone and this Signal app with iOS and it works perfectly. Very well done! Need encrypted text messaging ASAP!

They are also saying TextSecure and RedPhone will be merged into Signal. That'll be great!

I will gladly donate to this company if they will increase the speed of development.

Question: If my phone has a limited amount of minutes and I have RedPhone or Signal and I call someones phone who doesn't have one of these programs, does that use my minutes or does it only use Data (or WiFi)?

chmars 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why is Signal (the app) free? What's the business model?
supernova87a 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe a stupid question, but is the app sending this encrypted voice over the cellular channel, or is it making a data connection independent of the phone?

Also, on a different point, if I were trying to eavesdrop on someone's conversation, I would probably just try to hack the microphone with a different / already loaded app...

guelo 2 days ago 0 replies      
These guys are doing amazing high-quality work. I'm really amazed that they can pull it off with volunteers and donations. There are very few examples of polished front-end apps in the open source world.
borando 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's refreshing to see the rebrand (RedPhone -> Signal) links security with functionality, rather than with something dramatic/hide-worthy.

When your tools are secure, they work for you and not the other way around.

n6mac41717 2 days ago 1 reply      
I installed it on my iPhone. I'm able to discover and call friends that have RedPhone, but they can't see me. Is that a feature or a bug :P
dan_bk 1 day ago 0 replies      
How can you trust a product promising privacy when it runs on a closed-source platform (that is further also known to collect data on the user and to be prone to government surveillance)?

Real privacy is only possible on platforms that are 100% open-source.

trounce 2 days ago 0 replies      
As soon as I registered, I started getting "No Caller ID" phone calls every few minutes from some unknown person speaking Chinese (which I don't speak). This is pretty annoying, to say the least.

There doesn't seem to be any way to deregister your phone number? So what now?

hruan 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Signal uses your existing number, doesnt require a password, and leverages privacy-preserving contact discovery to immediately display which of your contacts are reachable with Signal."

How does contact discovery work? What happens when run on a device without a (valid) SIM?

zz1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what the userbase of Redphone is? Is it the same as Textsecure (around 10 milions)?
jtfairbank 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Jake and the WhisperSystems crew! :D Can't wait to see you in a few weeks bud.
nardi 2 days ago 5 replies      
Um. Isn't encrypted calling on iPhones already provided by FaceTime Audio?
girvo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ahhhh I'm so excited for this, but it's not in the Australian store and I can't change it to US as I have an iTunes Match sub :( Any ETA on when it'll be here?
__david__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems really neat. I tried it on an iOS 8 device and it hung on the verification screen. Is anyone else seeing that?
mahyarm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next step, no phone number required for accounts!
felix 2 days ago 2 replies      
Curious why this is different than RedPhone - same company, same product(?), diff't platform - why not keep app branding?
clarkm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is anyone else having trouble registering the app? I'm not receiving a SMS validation code.
tempodox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could theoretically be nice, if it would actually work.
motyar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Teligram should add this feature.
higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will we eventually get video calling, too? (especially in the browser version, perhaps by using a more secure version of WebRTC?)

Also, I suggest dropping SMS support, and going "data-only" for the new Signal. Or at the very least disable all SMS/MMS stuff by default, and only leave them as opt-in options in settings. Don't even prompt users about it, because most will say yes, without really knowing what they're doing, and that the app will start eating SMS credits without realizing.

But really, you should just drop it. I mean look how successful Whatsapp is, and doesn't have any SMS support, let alone an end-to-end encrypted one.

scottlocklin 1 day ago 0 replies      
"What could possibly go wrong?" I mean, besides the fact that it runs on iphones.
snitko 2 days ago 0 replies      
Distributing secure text/voice/video calls app through an app store of any kind is by definition not secure. Give me an .apk
lazyjones 1 day ago 2 replies      
Nice try, but pointless and snake oil, since the iPhone is not a secure device.

Try building a secure device that users "own" first, then spend effort on building secure services on top.

alt_f4 2 days ago 1 reply      
When the client device is compromised (and we know that iOS is [1]), it doesn't matter how secure the link is. If I were a sophisticated attacker and wanted to listen to your conversation, I could just tap your mic and audio output.

[1] https://pentest.com/ios_backdoors_attack_points_surveillance...

frequentflyeru 2 days ago 3 replies      
Next round of Edward Snowden leaks: "NSA created and funded 'open whisper systems' as a way to get people to think their calls were encrypted when in reality calls went straight to the NSA..."
How to take over the computer of a Maven Central user
404 points by akerl_  3 days ago   127 comments top 33
moxie 3 days ago 4 replies      
At Open Whisper Systems, we wrote a small open source gradle plugin called "gradle-witness" for this reason. Not just because dependencies could be transported over an insecure channel, but also because dependencies could be compromised if the gradle/maven repository were compromised:


It allows you to "pin" dependencies by specifying the sha256sum of the jar you're expecting.

technomancy 3 days ago 1 reply      
For Leiningen at least the goal is eventually to be able to flip a switch that will make it refuse to operate in the presence of unsigned dependencies. We're still a ways away from that becoming a reality, but the default is already to refuse to deploy new libraries without an accompanying signature.

Edit: of course, the question of how to determine which keys to trust is still pretty difficult, especially in the larger Java world. The community of Clojure authors is still small enough that a web of trust could still be established face-to-face at conferences that could cover a majority of authors.

The situation around Central is quite regrettable though.

heavenlyhash 2 days ago 1 reply      
SSL would have partially mitigated this attack, but it's not a full solution either. SSL is transport layer security -- you still fully trust the remote server not to give you cat memes. What if this wasn't necessary? Why can't we embed the hash of the dependencies we need in our projects directly? That would give us end-to-end confidence that we've got the right stuff.

This is exactly why I built mdm[1]: it's a dependency manager that's immune to cat memes getting in ur http.

Anyone using a system like git submodules to track source dependencies is immune to this entire category of attack. mdm does the same thing, plus works for binary payloads.

Build injection attacks have been known for a while now. There's actually a great publication by Fortify[2] where they even gave it a name: XBI, for Cross Build Injection attack. Among the high-profile targets even several years ago (the report is from 2007): Sendmail, IRSSI, and OpenSSH! It's great to see more attention to these issues, and practical implementations to double-underline both the seriousness of the threat and the ease of carrying out the attack.

Related note: signatures are good too, but still actually less useful than embedding the hash of the desired content. Signing keys can be captured; revocations require infrastructure and online verification to be useful. Embedding hashes in your version control can give all the integrity guarantees needed, without any of the fuss -- you should just verify the signature at the time you first commit a link to a dependency.

[1] https://github.com/polydawn/mdm/

[2] https://www.fortify.com/downloads2/public/fortify_attacking_...

akerl_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not specifically named in the article, but the software shown with the firewall popup is Little Snitch, and it's great:


brianefox 2 days ago 4 replies      
The project to offer ssl free to every user of Maven Central is already underway. Stay tuned for details.
femto113 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps as a stopgap Maven Central (or a concerned third party?) could publish all of the SHA1 hashes on a page that is served via HTTPS. This would at least allow tools to detect the sort of attack described in the article.
jontro 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a horrible policy made by sonatype. A better alternative of mavencentral should be created...
finnn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Evilgrade (https://github.com/infobyte/evilgrade) is a similar tool that works on a wider variety of insecure updaters. Perhaps a module could be written? Maybe one already exists, I haven't played with it in a while
MrSourz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm torn on how I feel about security being a paid feature in this case. Here the onus is being placed on the user, yet many won't be conscious of the choice they're making.

The tiff mentioned in the article was interesting to read.> https://twitter.com/mveytsman/status/491298846673473536

jimrandomh 2 days ago 3 replies      
My main experience with Maven has been downloading some source code, and having to use Gradle to compile it. It went and downloaded a bunch of binaries, insecurely. There were no actual unsatisfied dependencies; it was just downloading pieces of Gradle itself.

I would've much rather had a Makefile. Build scripts and package managers need to be separate.

avz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Exposing your users to MITM attacks in order to encourage donations? Pure evil.
tensor 3 days ago 1 reply      
The biggest problem with this policy is that new users, or even experienced ones, are likely not aware of it. This is a very serious problem that should be addressed quickly.

edit: and with websites everywhere routinely providing SSL, it seem crazy that it has to be a paid feature for such a critical service.

jc4p 3 days ago 3 replies      
jCenter is the new default repository used with Android's gradle plugin, I haven't used it myself yet but it looks like the site defaults to HTTPS for everything: https://bintray.com/bintray/jcenter
clarkm 3 days ago 3 replies      
So in principle, it's doing the same thing as:

    $ curl http://get.example.io | sh
which we all know is bad. But in this case, it's hidden deep enough that most people don't even know it's happening.

pjlegato 3 days ago 2 replies      
All of Maven central is only 180gb, according to https://maven.apache.org/guides/mini/guide-mirror-settings.h...

How hard would it be to just mirror it to S3 and use it from there via HTTPS?

GaryRowe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote a Maven plugin to avoid this.

It's available under MIT licence: https://github.com/gary-rowe/BitcoinjEnforcerRules

jnbiche 3 days ago 1 reply      
npm has the same problem of sending packages over http, but it's even worse since on average each node package uses about a billion other packages and because injecting malicious code in JavaScript is incredibly easy.

And to be clear, just http here is not the issue. It's http combined with lack of package signing. apt runs over http, but it's a pretty secure system because of its efficient package signing. Package signing is even better than https alone since it prevents both MITM attacks and compromise of the apt repository.

In fact, apt and yum were pretty ahead of their time with package signing. It's a shame others haven't followed their path.

chetanahuja 3 days ago 7 replies      
If I understand this correctly, maven based builds can contain dependencies on libraries hosted on remote servers. golang build system has (or had) something similar too. Witnessing this trend take hold is astonishing and horrifying in equal parts. Not just as a security problem (which is clearly obvious) but also a huge hole in software engineering practices. How can anyone run a production build where parts of your build are being downloaded from untrusted third party sources in real time? How do you ensure repeatable, reliable builds? How do you debug production issues with limited knowledge of what version of various libraries are actually running in production?
sitkack 3 days ago 0 replies      
luarocks has the same problem. You don't need SSL, you need the packages to be signed.
0x0 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many enterprise apps have been backdoored through this flaw over the years by now.
buckey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah have you ever wrote code on the play platform? There is your proof of concept at least on earlier versions static injection using annotations ... It's also how spring works and almost all dynamic ... Hell you can jit your code don't even need to compile it into a class the run time can do it for you ... That why I always compile my jar files so they can't be read as a compressed file anyway pretty cool sounds like you could have a lot of fun with someone doing this ... You could turn there computer into anything you want using Java command line functionality .... I.e. System.get(os.name) if windows do this if OS X do this if lunix do this using Java.lang.runtime.exec then after you open the back door to there computer time for socket connections and getoutputstream etc... Anyway point being java is a cross platform lang so there is a world of possibilities and most of the time they are running this from an IDE so if you inject a sudo call who knows what could happen
SanderMak 2 days ago 1 reply      
The vulnerability even has a name: Cross-build injection attacks. I wrote about it some time ago [1], [2]. The complete answer includes verifying the (now mandatory) PGP signatures [3] of artifacts in Maven Central. But you need a web-of-trust for that and the whole process is rather impractical currently.

[1] http://branchandbound.net/blog/security/2012/03/crossbuild-i...[2] http://branchandbound.net/blog/security/2012/10/cross-build-...[3] http://branchandbound.net/blog/security/2012/08/verify-depen...

dandelany 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry to nitpick, but you might wanna fix this typo: s/pubic/public :)
akerl_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to whomever changed the title; I didn't like the original title, but couldn't come up with a better accurate one.
wernerb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed at some point. The MITM possibility has been mentioned before at SE http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7094035/how-secure-is-usi...
passive 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you in the Python world concerned about such a thing, check out Peep: https://pypi.python.org/pypi/peep

It's a pip wrapper that expects you to provide hashes for your dependencies in requirements.txt.

There was a lightning talk at PyCon this year, it seems super easy to use (though admittedly I'm not using it regularly yet).

fiatmoney 3 days ago 1 reply      
So if they need some money, what is a better revenue model for them?

- charge some token amount of money to projects (harms the ecosystem, probably not a good idea)

- charge some amount for projects to host old versions, or for users to access old versions (same idea as the first, just less so)

- charge for access to source jars

- paid javadoc hosting

- rate-limiting for free users (the "file locker" model; particularly effective at convincing people sharing an office IP into paying up)

Any others?

joncp 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem goes deeper. That firewall (Little Snitch) updates itself over port 80, so most likely unencrypted.
iancarroll 3 days ago 1 reply      
What firewall is that? Looks nice.
qwerta 2 days ago 0 replies      
We store jars in git repo...
jgalt212 3 days ago 2 replies      
> When can this happen? If you ever use a public wifi network in a coffee shop

Just don't do this. There is no such thing as a free lunch (or wifi).

abalone 3 days ago 2 replies      
I understand the need to raise money for projects, but the attitude[1] that security is an optional "premium" feature needs to end.

It should be no different from shipping broken code. You can't just say, "oh, well we offer a premium build that actually works, for users that want that." Everybody needs it.

Evernote made this mistake initially when SSL was originally a premium feature. They fixed it.

Granted, there are degrees of security but protection from MITM attacks is fundamental. (Especially for executable code!)

[1] https://twitter.com/mveytsman/status/491298846673473536

UPDATE: @weekstweets just deleted the tweet I was referencing where he described security as a premium feature "for users who desire it" or words to that effect.

foo-licious 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's java who cares?
Today Rails turns 10 years old
394 points by chancancode  6 days ago   79 comments top 28
jaredcwhite 6 days ago 4 replies      
At this point in time, Rails is basically the reason I have a career, get paid, and provide for my family. Sure, any programmer could say that about any framework/language/platform they use regularly I suppose, but in fact Rails is the first platform I've been able to leverage to get great jobs and work with great people. Before that, various combinations of WordPress and homegrown PHP code were my bread-and-butter but I also did projects in Java, Python, and others. (I still shutter when I remember what I had to go through to work in Java...)

I think the thing that was so amazing about Rails when it really got popular was that you could build almost any sort of web app you could imagine and everything would just make sense. The full-stack, the conventions, the fact it took much less time to get something working than its competitors...it was SO much easier to build stuff and stop reinventing the wheel.

I can't tell you how many times in the PHP world I had to figure out how to write code to send hand-tuned SQL to the server just to do basic stuff. Obviously, these days you can do cool framework-y full-stack stuff in PHP as well, but in many respects that was a response to the rise of Rails. (Actually, I must admit, I built a PHP 5 framework somewhat inspired by Rails before I jumped onboard the bandwagon...what prompted that was Zend announcing their PHP 5 framework, at which point I figured I'd either drop my framework and go with Zend or...just go with Rails, learn Ruby, and stop fighting it. I'm so thankful I decided to do just that!)

So thank you Ruby, and Rails on your 10-year birthday. You have made this programmer a happy man.

Argorak 6 days ago 1 reply      
I started learning Ruby for fun roughly 6 months before the first release of Rails. Although I rarely use Rails today (more because I rarely work on full-stack projects), it paved the way for a lot of the Ruby community today. That was a lucky coincidence, but I can draw a pretty direct line between Rails and me making a living off Ruby, running two conferences in the space and having met a lot of awesome people in the community.

Most people don't realize how ground-breaking Rails was back then. It basically went against the common assumption that long up-front setup is just part of the project. I seriously had people complaining that they couldn't bill as much on small projects if that became standard. The 15-minute blog might be a joke today, but back then, it was an awesome way of showing that Rails focused on making things quick to start (I don't like to say easy, it never was).

I am also surprised on how much of the general concepts from the 0.x versions survived. Sure, things have gotten bigger and parts got replaced, but the general structure is still the same.

Thanks for all the effort and love!

100k 6 days ago 2 replies      
If you're interested in some of the milestones along the way and the context of web programming back in 2004 and 2005 when Rails came out, I made a timeline for my talk at RailsConf this year: http://www.recursion.org/looking-backward/

It was fun to research all this stuff. It's interesting to see how far back some of this stuff goes. For example, Rails gets much of its power from Ruby's flexibility. Ruby is heavily inspired by Smalltalk. The first research version of Smalltalk came out in 1972! The MVC pattern was also first developed at PARC, back in 1978.

ascendantlogic 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's easy for people to bag on Rails because like anything, as time goes on things evolve and pain points are discovered, etc. But as someone old enough to remember writing Servlets + JSP + miles of XML configs, Rails was such a HUGE HUGE HUGE thing. I remember being so blown away by how fast and easy it was to stand up a new web app. We take that sort of thing for granted today but for those of us old enough to remember stuff like Spring and JEE 1.3, it was incredible.
tcopeland 6 days ago 1 reply      
I remember going to RubyConf 2004 in Reston. DHH was there talking about Rails. I was sitting there with like 30 other people listening to him and thinking "I dunno man, cgi.rb pretty much does the job for me". If I had been thinking straight I would have rewritten RubyForge in Rails and never looked back... oh well!
tobinharris 6 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, I'm now 38 and recall falling in love with Rails at the age of 28. I was battling with .NET WebForms at the time, Rails was a breath of fresh air. Martin Fowler got me into Ruby about 6 months before Rails popped up. I still write Ruby + Rails almost every day.

Oddly, I'm starting to think Java might be the future of everything if it can shed it's huge_config.xml + FactoryFactoryFactory obsession, which I believe is happening :)

julianozen 6 days ago 1 reply      
Looking for Rails developers with 11 years experience
tortilla 6 days ago 1 reply      
It would have been interesting to see HN's reaction when Rails was introduced.

Show HN: Ruby on Rails (rubyonrails.org)220 points by DHH 3 hours ago | flag | 312 comments

pavlov 6 days ago 5 replies      
In web frameworks, "MVC" has come to mean something quite different than what it originally meant in desktop GUI frameworks like Smalltalk and Cocoa.

Was Rails the first framework to use this interpretation of MVC? Or did it come from somewhere else?

TenJack 6 days ago 0 replies      
Bahamut 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty amazing how much influence Rails has had on web development, even in ecosystems other than Ruby.

Personally I've found myself fighting Rails when trying to do things in it, but it is one of the tools I started out learning since the number and quality of tutorials out there seem vast. I too owe something to Rails for being of generally good quality.

Luyt 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in Rails, I transcribed an interview with DHH about many things, including Rails, which he had with Randal Schwartz on the FLOSS podcast:


"The architecture of Rails is that it's going to be full stack. Which means this is not going to be just one piece and then you have to go out shopping for another ten pieces to build an web application. I wanted something more... you have the entire box. With Rails today, just using Rails and nothing else, you can build an awesome application from the bottom up. That meant including the database, the templating, the MVC structure, bla-bla-bla. The core reason of why I wanted to do this was because I wanted all the pieces to fit together just as well as an integrated Apple stack. Apple products were definitely a leading inspiration for the design of this."

justinweiss 6 days ago 1 reply      
After a few years of Java and C# (especially in finance) I came really close to leaving the software industry altogether. Ruby, and then Rails, brought me back into it.

They returned the joy and excitement I felt when I first got that ASCII eye to blink from the 250 lines of BASIC I typed in from the back of a magazine.

And I've never been happier as a developer.

rco8786 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's fitting that the post above this is an app that started as Rails 1.0 and is currently at 4.1
davidw 6 days ago 0 replies      
Rails really hit a sweet spot. It has the right culture and organization to attempt to not go too far off into spaghetti-code land, yet it's also very much about getting things done in the real world rather than writing a bunch of boilerplate junk.

I started using it sometime in about 2005/6 and am still very happy with it.

hazelnut 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see Google Trends chart about Ruby on Rails:http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=ruby%20on%20rails&cmp...

Sad to see it fading away. But to be honest ... I am not using it anymore.

guard-of-terra 6 days ago 1 reply      
I suddently feel very very old. I do that a lot these days...
arthurnn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hello Brazil. First post ever in a Rails app =)https://twitter.com/arthurnn/status/492715391362154497
jdwyah 6 days ago 0 replies      
Man I feel old, but still Rails has aged fabulously. Just wrote a post last week about how Rails is still great. http://blog.forcerank.it/blog/post-natal-part-3-technology-d...

I don't know if it's just me being an old man, but every time I see people fighting with grunt / angular / ember I think of dhh and his "look at what I'm not doing".

lowglow 6 days ago 1 reply      
Rails is amazing. I wouldn't use anything else for prototyping my system. Baked-in best practices and easy-to-use, there hasn't been anything else that comes close imho.
nathancahill 5 days ago 1 reply      
After 10 years, is it fast yet?


kitwalker12 6 days ago 1 reply      
damn...didn't feel this old even when I turned 30.
sergiotapia 6 days ago 0 replies      
Happy Birthday Rails, I make a living writing software and because of you I'm happy doing it!
jgalt212 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good bless Rails. It turned developing professional web apps into a low headcount highly iterative process.

That being said, I don't use Rails. I use Django, but we all owe a debt of gratitude for the path it illuminated.

rmrfrmrf 6 days ago 0 replies      
* sheds tear * it's almost old enough to be CEO!
justinzollars 6 days ago 0 replies      
web development that doesn't hurt! (cake)
ezmobius 6 days ago 0 replies      
what up 10 years of rails.
The New York Times Calls for Marijuana Legalization
349 points by ingve  5 days ago   189 comments top 22
sharkweek 5 days ago 1 reply      
Two plugs I always make during any drug law discussion on HN:

One - The Economist's 2009 article "Failed states and failed policies" - http://www.economist.com/node/13237193 you might have to Google the title to get around a paywall)

Two - The documentary, The House I Live In - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125653/ trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0atL1HSwi8)

Both make such a fascinating case that drugs should have never been a crime and punishment issue, but rather one of public health. I highly recommend both for a read and a watch, and both will articulate the case far superior to anything I would be able to write here.

k-mcgrady 5 days ago 7 replies      
I sincerely believe the only people who are against legalisation of marijuana are those who don't understand it's effects on a person and those who are easily susceptible to propaganda and fail to do their own research on the subject. I can't think of even one legitimate reason for it's prohibition. If you argue for prohibition based on health consequences or risk to society you should also be arguing for prohibition of alcohol and it has been proven beyond doubt that alcohol prohibition was a really bad idea.
resdirector 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is a step in the right direction. I strongly believe that marijuana legalization is good for the economy -- personally I've come up with brilliant, practical ideas while stoned[0]. Many of which I have gone on to implement and generate wealth. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Think Steve Jobs and Apple etc.

[0] I hope the nomenclature evolves re marijuana. "stoned", "bong", "skunk", "chronic", etc conjure up images that are too tightly aligned with negative stereotypes IMO.

benmarks 5 days ago 1 reply      
Not a user, but after being a bartender for years - and knowing many who do consume marijuana - there seems to be no logical reason to punish (let alone _incarcerate_) people for something which is ultimately less destructive than what I was allowed to push for so many years.
krschultz 5 days ago 3 replies      
So the real question now becomes - which organizations with political clout are still fighting to keep Marijuana illegal?

I've actually never smoked weed in my entire life (seriously). I have no interest in smoking weed once it is legal either. But I'm very sick of paying to support a stupid wasteful policy. So who are the people that are actually fighting to keep it illegal? I honestly can't find them, I'd love to read their arguments.

bkeroack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't use marijuana because it would have incredibly bad effects on my life, but I support legalization.

I tend to be bored easily. Normally boredom inspires me to get out of the house, do something productive, write some code, etc. Marijuana is a boredom cure. After using it, I could stare at a wall for five hours and be deeply fascinated and content. I cannot afford to waste time staring at walls. I need to be productive. Therefore marijuana is a bad idea for me, but I don't believe the state should make that decision for everybody.

icebraining 5 days ago 3 replies      
To the Americans around here: do you think this will have any important effects? It seems to me it could have, if it had been done ten years ago, our if the NYT was a newspaper aligned with a more conservative line, but nowadays I'd expect most readers of the Times to think "took you long enough!"
pessimizer 5 days ago 1 reply      
General legalization and amnesty is the way to go. This piecemeal recreational legalization is only happening in the whitest states in the country, and not helping the primary victims of the drug war.
coreymgilmore 5 days ago 4 replies      
Full legalization has a single major hurdle for me: testing for a person's level of "high". Think of this as a blood alcohol content breathalyzer test. There is a definite method for determining the amount of alcohol inside a person's body and laws use these limits for punishment.

This is highly important. No body wants someone "high as a kite" operating a vehicle. It is not in the public's best interest to have very high people driving just like having severely drunk people driving. Its all about safety.

You could frame the argument that marijuana is similar to other medicines (OTC or prescription, labeled with "do not drive or operate machinery") but the attempts to legalize marijuana for all uses - recreational - negates this point. If people can use marijuana at all times, any time, than a method of ensuring a using person is not endangering others is needed.

To sum, legalization requires a definitive method to measure "highness" to ensure safety for the public. Once this occurs and people know the rules and levels at which they can be high, then legalizing makes sense.

tdicola 5 days ago 1 reply      
Neat animation effect as your scroll down the page. Is it using SVG to animate the morph from star to cannabis leaf?
bobbyi_settv 5 days ago 1 reply      
From the end of Part 1 of the editorial series:

> On Monday at 4:20 p.m. Eastern Time, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, will be taking questions about marijuana legalization at facebook.com/nytimes.

TheSoftwareGuy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of off topic, but can we talk about how beautiful of a webpage that is?
drewblaisdell 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm truly curious: which problems related to marijuana use (intoxicated drivers, access by children, etc.) do people think might worsen in a state where marijuana is legalized?

It seems obvious to me that marijuana legalization would alleviate the two aforementioned issues by raising awareness of marijuana-related DUIs and eliminating distribution networks that sell to children, but I probably haven't considered other problems associated with widespread marijuana use.

clarky07 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was really glad to see states starting to do something about this, but this should really be changed at the federal level. It's less bad for you than alcohol and cigarettes. The war on it is just so costly and absurd on so many levels.
bbarn 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty neutral on marijuana legalization. If anything, I'm for it as I feel like it's a bit of a red herring for the media to discuss and ignore other, more important, issues.

That said, NYT, the morphing graphic of the stars in the US flag turning into pot leafs? That's just tasteless. Let's not go from illegal to "symbolizing our country" in one op-ed, eh?

xiaoma 5 days ago 0 replies      
Even decades ago, people as influential as Milton Friedman were arguing this and explaining the costs at length:


mhb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any explanation why the editorial board of the Times is writing this now, after many decades of harm have already been done? Has something changed or do they just feel as if the bandwagon is big enough that it is OK for them to climb aboard?
bavcyc 5 days ago 1 reply      
nether 5 days ago 1 reply      
And in a decade or two, legalization of prostitution.
stevekemp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice XSS attack against the comment-page there. Oops.
andyl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've lost many friends and family to drugs and alcohol. Tremendous loss. Most can use with no consequences, but not everyone. I believe legalization will result in more casualties.
cnst 5 days ago 0 replies      
> we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

What a fucking racists! The article started so well.

We Experiment On Human Beings
359 points by dochtman  3 days ago   103 comments top 21
nostrademons 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I was still on OKCupid, I once wrote a Chrome extension to hide the pictures. I found that I had, in general, a much better experience with the site - I'd actually read people's profiles, I sent better messages, and I got more responses. I eventually gave up on it when a site redesign changed some of the #ids I was depending on and I didn't feel like revamping the code. But interestingly, my eventual girlfriend had terrible pictures - the grainy, multiple-people-in-the-background sort you're never supposed to put on a dating site. Setting up our first date, she was like "We don't need to exchange numbers, you know what I look like", and I was like "Actually, I'm not sure I do, here's mine." (Okay, I didn't actually tell her her pictures were terrible until we'd been dating for six months or so, but that was the general sentiment.)

I think it's one more example of when people's emotions and desires lead them to suboptimal outcomes. Most of the cues we associate with beauty and sexual desire evolved back in the savanna when health and fertility were very real risks; being able to pick up on which potential mates would be able to carry healthy offspring to term and nurture them until adulthood was very important then. Nowadays, the far greater risk is that you'll hate each other and fight all the time, but this has only been a concern since people started living long enough and in close enough proximity to care.

zach 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought Experiment 2 was a great example of the pain of trying to fit your users' feelings into an "ideal" model.

When we started LALife.com, it was with the idea of making a real estate site with lots of great statistics and quantitative data. We gave grades for how safe things were, how good the schools were, multiple heatmaps, assessor data, census data, nearby amenities -- a buffet of data. And sure, people who also fit in the mold of trivia collectors thought this was amazing.

But the more we talked to people, the more we found out that they really didn't use this data, even when they said they appreciated it. We had really overshot the market -- users almost never delved into the statistics, yet took our grades as absolute authority. What people wanted first of all was just insight about whether it was a "nice place" or not, a maddeningly vague concept.

Ultimately, we trashed countless tables and statistics and scaled it back to one number. Yes, one 0-99 number that shows you, well, how "nice" a place is to live. We were so afraid of generalizing things like this because everyone is different and has different priorities and so on. But trying to make things custom for everyone is a losing game, and it turned out "is it nice?" is something everyone already knew intuitively.

So insanely, we went from having 50 extra data points on a home for sale to having one "superscore". But a funny thing happened, which is it became much more successful in the site's actual mission, to help people understand a home's neighborhood without having to visit in person. And now we're providing an insight that is compact enough that we can put it everywhere and people can digest it instantly.

So although we would ultimately like to give people a more data-conscious mindset, the tool and the user need to agree on that commitment. So we're accommodating the user's actual mental model while we work towards expanding it.

PS: We have our scoring model working nationwide, but as you have seen from the Zillow thread, it's hard to get nationwide home listings. We're working on getting homes for rent on http://www.padrank.com/ so you can sign up there if you want to see how it works throughout the US.

blt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Heh heh. I recently got a message from okcupid saying "Because of a diagnostic test, your match percentage with <user> was misstated as 31%. It is actually 91%. We wanted to let you know!" I had a feeling something like this might be involved. (I messaged that person anyway, because they had a funny username, so I guess I supported their point.
ssl_love 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey OkCupid How about some SSL Love?

"For the hundreds of thousands of users searching for that special someone through one of the largest free online dating sites, the love fest may be coming to an end. OkCupid is putting users privacy in danger by failing to support secure access to its entire website through HTTPS. Every OkCupid email, chat session, search, clicked link, page viewed, and username is transmitted over the Internet in unencrypted plaintext, where it can be intercepted and read by anyone on the network."


The Heartbreaking Truth About Online Dating Privacy:https://www.eff.org/press/releases/heartbreaking-truth-about...

rockdiesel 3 days ago 5 replies      
Nice to see a new blog post from OkCupid.

They haven't updated their blog since April 2011.

andrey-p 3 days ago 2 replies      
I really enjoyed reading this.

On the flip side (as an OKC user), I've also had moderate amounts of fun trying to figure out their algorithms by trial and error.

For a while, I discovered I could figure out who scored me highly on their Quickmatch [1] feature by visiting it repeatedly - the ones who gave me a high score always came up first. This doesn't seem to work anymore.

[1]: If you haven't used OKC, the idea is: you score potential matches 1-5. You can tell if someone scored you highly (but not who) and if both of you give each other 4 or 5 you get a message "introducing" you both. If you're an A-list (paid) member, you get to see who scored you highly without scoring them.

Edit: tweaked phrasing as per comments.

galfarragem 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel very "bearish" towards dating sites. People convince themselves they are saving time meeting more possible "matches" in less time but they forget that meeting online is not the same as in person, "turn-based" chat is different than "real-time" chat.

Some years ago randomly I met a girl online, that most of men (based on her picture) would wife up. I was living abroad at the time and we were only able to meet in person some months later. After few minutes in the date I could see that we would not go anywhere. There was a lack of "real-time" empathy and I hated some details in her personality that I couldn't realise before meeting her (not her look, surprisingly she was even more beautiful in person than at photos). If I had met her in person instead of online, I would have saved months of my life.. I will not do it ever again.

edit:Because of her I met my gf of 5 years, but that was just serendipity working, not because of a dating site.

adamzerner 3 days ago 5 replies      
Is anyone surprised that only 1/5 people who are 90% matches have a "conversation"? I don't use dating sites, but I'd think that people who do want to converse, and who better to converse with than 90% matches?

But I guess there's a lot of matches, and you can't talk to everyone, which would explain the low numbers. Still a bit surprising to me.

Edit: What you guys said makes sense, thanks. My lack of knowledge of dating sites lead to a bad intuition.

rabbyte 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think the sticky point is whether or not we should be experimenting with people to find what works and what doesn't. It's about respecting users as humans and not simply data points. How does OkCupid know that conversations "went deeper" or how often emails and numbers were exchanged? Were the participants aware of that level of scrutiny or is that tucked away in the ToS? Most people I know aren't even comfortable talking about their OkCupid, they use it as a means to an end and place trust in the service to be discrete. Do these experiments fall in line with user expectations?

I'm not saying you have to find these experiments upsetting just that when people are upset it tends to be about treating users like honorable guests and not about whether or not we should be allowed to tinker with services to find the right solution.

jessriedel 3 days ago 0 replies      
> I found a similar thing: once they got to the date, they had a good time more or less regardless of how good-looking their partner was. Heres the female side of the experience (the male is very similar).

I'm skeptical it was similar, at least if you were to measure the thing that actually matters: whether or not the person wants to go on a second date. ("Did you have a good time" is probably equating to "Did the person avoid doing something terrible" in the survey.)

It's ludicrous on its face to think that men, if they choose a blind date partner based on conversations and profiles, will want to go on a second date just as often with a beautiful woman as with a plain woman.

tomjen3 3 days ago 1 reply      
>But we took the analysis one step deeper. We asked: does the displayed match percentage cause more than just that first messagedoes the mere suggestion cause people to actually like each other? As far as we can measure, yes, it does.

Hm, that is unexpected. Wonder how long it will last.

pervycreeper 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised no one has commented on the ethics of "Experiment #3". Feeding false data to users is not something that should be taken lightly.
interstitial 3 days ago 3 replies      
OKC experimented with the matching process -- the express purpose of their site. Facebook experimented with mood manipulation -- something they have no permission to do -- regardless of the fine print. Facebook is a very bad landlord, but people don't want to move.
wcdolphin 3 days ago 0 replies      
But you never did so with the intention of eliciting a negative psychological response.

That to me is a distinct difference, both in practicality and morality.

tragomaskhalos 2 days ago 0 replies      
TL;DR; people are shallow idiots.Cool article though.
ianstallings 3 days ago 0 replies      
For the record not every site does these type of experiments. I've been programming websites since the 90s and I've never experimented on my users like this. The most I've done is swap in and out user interface features to see which one has a better response in a typical A/B test. It's not the same as telling a lie to a user no matter how you split hairs about it. They're overstating their case because they happen to be in the business of matching people up.
lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Basically, people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.

Just a quote that resonates ... The design and architecture of our online environments will affect our happiness as much as anything else.

bshoemaker 2 days ago 0 replies      
krallja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't load completely in IE11.
iamleppert 3 days ago 1 reply      
What a bunch of pointless data and hubris to prove that, yes, people are predominately fueled by the laws of physical attraction.
foolrush 3 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect that the cavalier sentiment OKCupid has approached the discourse with will not go well for them.

Will be interesting to observe the sociological takedowns of this post.

Announcing a specification for PHP
339 points by keso  1 day ago   243 comments top 27
maaaats 1 day ago 10 replies      
After recently having to work with modern PHP, I have to say a lot of the criticism of the language is unfounded. It's changed a lot since I first used it.

But the stdlib is still hard to manage. Different naming conventions, different order on the parameters for functions that do almost the same thing, and every function is global. Couldn't they keep all that for backwards compatibility, but create more sane wrappers and include them as part of the stdlib? For starters, group them by what they work on (arrays, strings, numbers etc.) as static functions on some relevant class ( String::str_replace(...) ), and later have more methods one can call on the objects themselves ( myStr.replace(...) ).

Is this being worked on? Can this spec help with that?

ecaron 1 day ago 1 reply      
I sure hope Sara Golemon gets the recognition out of this that she deserves (and which the article starts to build.) Having met her at a couple conferences, she continues to demonstrate a brilliant understanding of what it takes to build a programming language WHILE being a tremendous advocate and builder of a community where being a member isn't always... popular.

Rock on, @saramg

kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Recently i feel there even is a kind of PHP renaissance. I think its a good time to revisit PHP and look at what it has to offer these days.The community is enormous and open source frameworks like symfony2, zend2 or laravel are thriving like never before with solid implementations for nearly everything. With composer there is mature packet management now and in general the code put out for these kind of projects is of very high quality. And then there is facebook pushing PHP forward with things like HHVM, however for most stuff i have worked on, php execution time hasn't really been the bottleneck anyway, but its nice being able to squeeze out even more speed.

These days i also work a lot in node and angular, but PHP (using symfony) is still my goto language for a solid REST backend and/or classic static content based websites.

lnanek2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not really a fan of having a second source of truth compared to in depth material already on php.net. The two will invariably start to disagree and php.net is much, much better than any spec or documentation I have ever read. Using Android is a nightmare compared to php.net because every single thing on php.net has extensive user generated documentation whereas Android is just some broken official docs. I submitted a bug report with a fix for the Android docs telling people to make dialogs in a way that simply crashed and didn't work and it was never merged in for years and years. So official specs tend to suck.
birkbork 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is great news for the PHP community, and I for one applaud their effort. Contrary to what many HN hipsters seems to believe, PHP is quite a capable language, and HHVM / Hack is really pushing things forward.

* Hack introduces type hinting, imo the major lacking part in PHP.

* HHVM introduces speed to php. On a personal project calculating perlin noise, I got about 8x speedup on HHVM.

* The specification helps pave the way for more implementations of PHP.

ChikkaChiChi 1 day ago 1 reply      
PHP is fantastic if you are starting from scratch and you don't necessarily need any third party libraries. PDO is very well done and the native database drivers are some of the fastest available.

With a properly tuned nginx/fpm/apc stack, I've been able to deliver solutions that truly back up the results you see from comparison benchmarks like Techempower.

In many cases in web development, PHP can be the right tool for the job!

k3liutZu 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> PHP is definitely the lingua-franca of the internet.

I think they misspelled Javascript.

Aldo_MX 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a discussion of any programming language grows longer, the probability of a bashing against such language approaches 1.

Any similarity with Godwin's law is mere coincidence.

juddlyon 1 day ago 5 replies      
Can someone explain to a layman why this is significant? I'm genuinely curious.
mehrdada 1 day ago 3 replies      
> PHP is definitely the lingua-franca of the internet.

Definitely wrong. If there's a lingua-franca of the internet, it's JavaScript.

robert_nsu 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is good and long overdue. I disagree with the claim of it being the lingua franca of the internet though.
pbiggar 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It took a while, but I read the spec and wrote a critique:

http://blog.circleci.com/critiquing-facebooks-new-php-spec/ comments at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8114919)

fabriceleal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news, now we just need to lobby for the creation of this specification in machine readable files, using something like the K Framework, instead of using the usual wall of text.


frik 1 day ago 2 replies      
The PHP grammar in BNF starts at line 10354. It not that extensive as some may think and rather similar to what Java BNF looks like. The expression statement is a bit more extensive than in most languages, as PHP also supports the little known template-style (if elseif endif;): http://php.net/manual/en/control-structures.alternative-synt...

Thanks for the PHP spec.

Btw. GitHub says "Sorry, this blob took too long to generate.":https://github.com/php/php-spec/blob/master/spec/php-spec-dr...

ZeroGravitas 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This should help the PHP-NG project too. I was a bit worried to see they were doing large refactorings to increase speed when the PHP test suite only has about 30% code coverage.
joshdance 1 day ago 2 replies      
Rookie question, but what does a language specification for PHP do or mean? I assume this is good, but don't know why. :
SimeVidas 13 hours ago 0 replies      
PHP is definitely the lingua-franca of the internet. Uhm, no.
kangax 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like PHP spec is about twice smaller than ECMAScript 5.1 (http://es5.github.io/)

~42K vs ~82K words.

cottonseed 1 day ago 0 replies      
At first I thought they were announcing a formal specification for PHP. Who's going to win the race to build the first formally verified blogging platform?
rafekett 1 day ago 0 replies      
fantastic work that's long overdue. any commitment from the zend team to implement it? if not it's a specification for HHVM, not PHP.
danso 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm missing something here...but the OP links to what must be a gigantic Markdown file that Github will not serve up...Is the spec meant to be in a giant doc, or will it be split up into smaller sections? This seems like a perfect use for Jekyll if they're going to publish on Github...

In any case, I did a quick-fork and generated a Github page from the Markdown file linked to by OP: http://dannguyen.github.io/php-spec/

xanth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Javascript is the lingua-franca of the internet not PHP.
stefantalpalaru 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Better late than Python.
ck2 1 day ago 4 replies      
Facebook first needs to bring HHVM up to full compatibility before they try altering the spec.

I also discovered Facebook makes all their "contributors" (anyone who does a pull request) sign an agreement with them, which seems weird and not cool. https://code.facebook.com/cla

spacemanmatt 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's it been, 20 years?
vithlani 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hahahah.... what a waste of time and resource. FB would rather direct their resources towards this meaningless crap then run the risk of their top employees getting bored -- and leaving them.
LBarret 1 day ago 1 reply      
A language without a spec ? Damn, php is even worse than I thought. Still, FB may turn it (with hack and HMMV) into something interesting.
CoreOS Stable Release
346 points by brynary  6 days ago   66 comments top 9
rckclmbr 6 days ago 5 replies      
We recently switched (like 2 weeks ago) our project from deployment on ubuntu servers via 'git pull' managed with supervisord to docker/coreos/fleet, and it's been epic. While coreos is built for large clusters, we run a 3 host cluster in ec2, and couldn't be happier. We switched from multiple servers running 1 instance of each service to load balancing all instances on these 3 hosts. This increased uptime, made deployment and management easier, and gave us the benefits of docker as well (verifying things work locally).

There's only 2 real problems, both of them very minor:

* fleet managing state. We've had to manually kill containers sometimes, and destroy systemd services before we could start it again.

* all EC2 amis use ebs backed instances. We haven't used a higher-IOPs ebs backed instance because the only delay we see are in startup times (which doesn't matter, just longer rolling deploys). But an instance-backed ami would be nice.

netcraft 6 days ago 5 replies      
It looks like Digital Ocean hopes to eventually support coreOS: http://digitalocean.uservoice.com/forums/136585-digital-ocea...

I can only find a tweet that linode is "considering" it: https://twitter.com/linode/status/488045339023532032

anyone have any other information re vps vendor support?

JohnTHaller 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a bit confused on the licensing here. CoreOS says it's Apache 2.0 licensed. But it also says its Linux. If it includes the Linux kernel, as it appears to, then those bits is licensed under the GPL and can not be re-licensed as Apache 2.0. So, it's a bit disingenuous to claim the whole package is Apache 2.0, since it isn't.
brynary 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm very excited about this release. CoreOS, Docker and etcd are a great fit for one another. I love the separation of concerns that is provided.

IMHO, the weakest part of CoreOS is fleet (https://github.com/coreos/fleet). Compared to the other components in the stack, it just feels very inelegant. The systemd configuration syntax is complex and ugly. I wonder if there will be work invested to upgrade fleet to something that is as elegant as e.g. etcd/Docker/CoreOS itself.

otterley 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm puzzled as to why it's called "stable," while at the same time it appears to require btrfs-on-root to be useful (i.e. for hosting Docker containers) but that part is "experimental."

Can someone from CoreOS clarify?

outside1234 6 days ago 0 replies      
Super great to see CoreOS making it to its first stable release. It really feels like the future.

I've been reading about using vulcand to do frontend deploys and traffic management (http://coreos.com/blog/zero-downtime-frontend-deploys-vulcan...) and using ambassadors to do dynamic routing to backend stores (http://coreos.com/blog/docker-dynamic-ambassador-powered-by-...)

But it is hard to get my head around this - has anyone actually tied all of these concepts together in a deployment that they've written up?

jvandyke 6 days ago 4 replies      
Flynn 1.0 release in 3, 2, 1... crosses fingers
devNoise 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using Vagrant/Virtual to run Ubuntu LTS for my Javascript dev env. Does it make sense switch to CoreOS? I generally run it as a headless server. No X-windows or GUI needed.
jimmcslim 6 days ago 2 replies      
I know Hyper-V isn't particularly sexy around these parts but it appears to work there as well. It doesn't support the Hyper-V integration services but that's par for the course for most Linux distributions.
Which is better, Adblock or Adblock Plus?
334 points by XzetaU8  2 days ago   184 comments top 36
heromat 2 days ago 9 replies      
He surely just forgot to mention that Google allegedly payed 25 million to Eyeo GmbH, the company behind Adblock Plus, in order to participate in the "acceptable ads" program, a "feature" which is turned on by default and allows users to "surf more comfortably".And that he is (or at least was) one of the directors.

I'm most certain that there are people out there who would call this business model "blackmailing", but I could also be wrong.

Source (in german): http://www.welt.de/wall-street-journal/article124441049/Goog...

miah_ 2 days ago 4 replies      
Adblock Edge, since it doesn't contain the 'paid for exemptions' (aka ads).


"Adblock Edge is a fork of the Adblock Plus version 2.1.2 extension for blocking advertisements on the web. This fork will provide the same features as Adblock Plus 2.X and higher but without "acceptable ads" feature. Adblock Edge was primarily branched off from Adblock Plus 2.1.2 source code package "http://adblockplus.org/downloads/adblockplus-2.1.2-source.tg... created by Wladimir Palant."

beaumartinez 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've posted this on previous ad blocking threads, and I'll post it again because I think it's very relevant

> "Adblock without the plus" isn't the original Adblock (from which Adblock Plus was forked), it's an extension created for Google Chrome once Google Chrome enabled support for extensions. Very disingenuous name. It piggy-backed on the work already done for Adblock Plus (for Firefox).

> Adblock Plus for Google Chrome came much later.

Nowadays, I use and recommend HTTP switchboard[0]. It's fully open[1], and offers very powerful customization on what exactly to block on a site.

[0] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/http-switchboard/m...

[1] https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard

wreegab 2 days ago 1 reply      
I pretty much all agree with all of Wladimir Palant's post.

But I also have one problem regarding Adblock Plus' "acceptable ads" openness.

When I read about their "acceptable ads" approach, I am led to believe the "acceptable ads" list contains all the sites which are whitelisted for purpose of "acceptable ads". I am invited to consult the list to see for myself which sites qualify.[1]

Problem is, many web sites are not whitelisted through that publicly available list, but through the x-adblock-key HTTP header (which is not something disclosed up front to users).

So in fact there is really a public list and a private list it appears (through the x-adblock-key header), while the public list is presented as all there is to "acceptable ads".

[1] https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads#list

616c 2 days ago 3 replies      
If people prefer more extreme solutions:

I eventually moved to Conkeror (think Firefox, but with Emacs bindings and Emacs-like extension via javascript; I know cue the egg throwing). I was looking at other browsers to replace Firefox, as I got sick of it, and I picked Conkeror.

Conkeror has a neat little feature called content-policy. I can block kinds of crap per session or site (Flash, JS, Fonts, Object tags, Images, you name it). I use this and by default all our blocked completely. I can reload a buffer when I need it (even on HN I leave all this crap off). I used NoScript before and I like this as more basic and defensive tool built into the browser core. Check it out.

For when I do use Javascript (this is on Linux of course), I uses hostsblock[0] to redirect all blacklisted sites in /etc/hosts to a local DNS proxy on 127.0.01 on my laptop (dnsmasq, which we all probably know, and you could set it up upstream on a router or server for a group of people). Then I use kwakd as recommended to serve white space for all these redirected domains.

The end result, now I open up JS when I need, and like 100,000 domains are blocked. I check when certain shady domains are mentioned to look for stones unturned, and I rarely see exceptions that are not listed (by default even no cookie YouTube domains are blocked, so JS-less pages give you a blank YouTube box on sites a lot).

So why all this effort? Because this is the second or third time I read "ad-blocking company not as dedicated as you think to your principles" articles. And people who argue "my website needs your ad revenue" you ask? Honestly, fuck 'em. I can't be bothered. Be adults, as you do not believe in legislation on Minority Report-like ads following me around in realtime while I walk in public or forcing my eyes open to read newspaper and billboards just for ads, I think I have the right to voluntarily ignore them as I will not buy your shit or shill for you anyway and it is waste of both of our time. I do not mandate everyone look away, but give me the privilege too thank you very much. And I know a company cannot be trusted long term to defend this right as it is not in their interest, especially if it is their core model ad companies (all mentioned here Adblock, Ghostery, disconnect.me will change their tune if they have not already say).

In short, do not use corporate-backed tools for this. Said companies always change their mind.

[0] More info here: http://jasonwryan.com/blog/2013/12/28/hostsblock/

UPDATE: Fixed cue typo. Thanks for pointing it out, Thomas, whoever you are.

gorhill 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see Wladimir Palant has again commented on Block in his comment section [1]:

> clear tendency to trade performance for memory use

This has been a pattern with Wladimir Palant with regard to my work. Outright misrepresentation [2], or criticism through vague statements while never specific enough to understand what part of the code he is referring to.

Nowhere in the code did I trade memory for CPU, both have always been of highest concern. Given that my benchmarks show Block does significantly better than ABP on both memory and CPU count, vaguely stating that "clear tendency to trade performance for memory use" is just plain nonsense. [3]

I did ask him to be specific about his statement regarding how I implemented element hiding without injecting gigantic CSS stylesheet in every page and frame, but never received a response, and it is understandable why: he was misrepresenting. [4]

[1] https://palant.de/2014/07/29/which-is-better-adblock-or-adbl...

[2] https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/wiki/Adblock-Plus... bottom of the page)

[3] https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/%C2%B5Block-vs.-ABP:-...

[4] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=988266#c39

Edit: added reference to CPU/mem benchmarks

sogen 2 days ago 3 replies      
modzoo 2 days ago 3 replies      

its like supplying weapons to both sides of a war.

and guys cut the "internet needs ads" crap. i have a couple of businesses and apps and make a profit because people value them and value the support i provide for them and recommend them. kind of like why hackernews works -- its legit recommendations, not some a$$w$%^ paying money for their article to float to the top...

conesus 2 days ago 4 replies      
Adblock is the #1 culprit for bugs on NewsBlur. I get at least one report a day where some functionality is broken (sharing stories, saving stories, loading a user's feed list, etc). First thing I do now is ask them to disable Adblock.

Doesn't even matter if they've told me if they have Adblock installed. I just assume if some random functionality is broken on my single-page site, it's Adblock's fault.

I suppose I should look for a way to identify if a user is using Adblock, though I bet they've made that as difficult as possible. And if I identify a user using Adblock, I should let them know it's the cause of any bugginess.

diminoten 2 days ago 4 replies      
Ooh, whitelisting of ads via partnerships. That's shady as fuck for an ad blocking company.
modzoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reply from Wladimir Palant:

"whitelisting websites if they serve only acceptable ads turned out unrealistic nobody would do that right now. There needs to be more incentive to use acceptable advertising first."


emrikol 2 days ago 2 replies      
What I've wanted for some time, and it seems hard for me to find, is a good ad blocker that only works on blacklists. I don't mind ads on some sites as long as they're non-intrusive. Once they start getting in the way of the content though, I want to blacklist the site. Everything I've seen so far (although I haven't put a LOT of time into searching) only works on all sites by default and you have to whitelist the ones you want to have ads enabled on.
callesgg 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have a long /etc/host file with many of the worst tracking/ad services that i have found.Blocks of a very large portion of the stuff that i do not like.
crb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't Disconnect.me broadly, another "tracking-blocker"? How would Adblock be able to 'monetize' through installing it?
rurban 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Privacy Badger" is the only option nowadays.

No whitelisting, and no corrupt companies behind, doing the whitelisting.

WorldWideWayne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, I heard something like this on Reddit and I still got them confused because I started using "Adblock" instead of "Adblock Plus". Reading this today I realize that I should have been using "Plus".

I think I'm going to abandon both of them and try out some of the alternatives listed here (ublock, http switchboard).

cubbage 1 day ago 0 replies      
Gabriel from AdBlock here.

Here is AdBlock's response to Wladimir's post: http://blog.getadblock.com/2014/07/adblock-and-privacy.html

avani 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since a lot of people are running out to download Adblock Plus, you guys might want to contact Google to try and get the spam app "Adblock Plus" from exgam.com removed from the store. Apps typically show up above extensions, so I've already seen several people download the wrong one :/ .
Vanayad 2 days ago 0 replies      
I keep seeing people complaining about some ads being not filtered by ABP...why not just right click those ads and block them. No more ads. Haven't had any with it on for some time (except on some sites where I want to see the ads to help those specific communities
junto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although the naming of the two projects appears to be problematic at first, I'm guessing that many users will pick the Adblock PLUS over the Adblock, simply because 'Plus' feels like a superlative.
e15ctr0n 2 days ago 0 replies      
AdBlock Plus also increases the amount of memory used by Firefox, to the order of 6070 MiB + about 4 MiB per iframe.


forgotAgain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since Chrome added "click to play" in plug-in settings I haven't used an ad blocker. With Flash ads no longer playing, my need for the blocker went away.

The changeover to canvas ads is happening quickly and that may bring back my need.

When I don't want to be tracked I rely on incognito mode.

motters 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adblock Edge is the better version, since it genuinely blocks ads, whereas Adblock Plus still lets some through by default.
discardorama 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't mind ads if they didn't completely destroy the viewing experience on many sites. From the long load times (oftentimes the browser rendering will hang because some stupid JS from an ad server has trouble loading), to the distracting ads, it's a huge mess. That is why I use Ad Blocking.
leeoniya 2 days ago 0 replies      
i havent used Adblock Plus in some time. A combination of Noscript blocking third party js (with some domains/cdns whitelisted) and Ghostery takes care of 90% of annoying stuff without bloating mem usage and improving page load speed drastically.
andyl 2 days ago 0 replies      
A great solution is to run DNSMASQ on your local network, and configure it to block unwanted domains. That way it works on any connected device automatically, with no plugins or browser overhead.

There are plenty of guides - google it!

leephillips 2 days ago 3 replies      
ksec 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any other reason to use Ad Block software other then privacy and speed of surfing the internet?
msoad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it sounds stupid, but I have both on my Chrome so whichever whitelists the other will remove. Problem solved!

I have never ever seen ads since then

nimish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use HTTP Switchboard. Faster, more powerful, and honest.
recursive 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have this problem because I just choose not to use sites that have disrupting advertising.
bowlofpetunias 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adblock Plus is malware. Period.

Besides blackmailing advertisers into whitelisting their ads for money, last year it added a "typo correction" feature that would intercept "mistyped" url's and redirect you to the correct one.

Except it blatantly redirected existing domains to that of competitors, and added referrer affiliate ID's to the URL so Palant could cash in.

Despite claims to the contrary, that "feature" was initially on by default. That is pure malware, it has nothing to do with blocking ads.

Palant is someone who's words should not be trusted. He's basically a successful malware blackmailer.

dbg31415 2 days ago 0 replies      
Changing your hosts file will work great.

* http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/hosts

plicense 2 days ago 0 replies      
Without a doubt, Adblock.
rkrkrk21 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use both of them so i wont care reading this post. All that matters to em to me is the I should not be wasting 15 seconds of my life in watching ads on youtube videos and the combo of ad block and ad block plus does it well for me.
dudus 2 days ago 3 replies      

Blocking ads is such a dick move. This should be made illegal. You are not entitled to change a website to your contempt and cut their main revenue source. If you want to use a website/app and it was made available with the Ad, then just suck it in or use a different one.

To my eyes this is not very different than piracy. Where you use a software without paying for it's price.

Advertising is the price you pay to use a service. Targeting is a technology to make that Ad as much relevant to you as possible. And yet there's a lot of negativity in here towards both. It's supposed to be a win-win-win solution for advertisers, publishers and users and yet are met with negativity and FUD.

If you are here in HN you should think the same, because advertisement is what funds the industry you are in.


Dear Instagram
347 points by stanleydrew  3 days ago   125 comments top 27
bhandziuk 3 days ago 7 replies      
Dear Bolt.co,

I truly wish you luck in your fight against Instagram. Name stealing is a rough game. I know because I have been traveling on Bolt buses for 8 years now (http://www.boltbus.com/). I know there is some confusion because you have basically the same symbol. Maybe there aren't too many ways to vary a lightning bolt shooting through an "O" in the word "Bolt" but I welcome you (and Instagram to try).

Sincerely,A bus rider.

uptown 3 days ago 3 replies      
Clickable link to the Bolt homepage: https://bolt.co/

I always find it annoying when the blog company logo doesn't bring you back to the company's homepage.

brandonmenc 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Imagine how it would have felt if Google or Apple or Facebook had launched a photo-sharing app called Instagram in 2011.

"Bolt" is a short, common word. "Instagram" is not (it's also more descriptive.)

Unfortunately, the days of naming products desirable things like "bolt," and being able to defend them, legally or not, are over.

The strange-made-up-word naming trend is annoying, but at least you're guaranteed a name no one else wants.

ivraatiems 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a well-written appeal. I'm sure, however, that there's no intention of getting Instagram to actually do anything - the fact it was posted publicly, along with the "hurts us more than it hurts you" line makes that obvious to me.

But maybe that was obviously the point to everyone, and my comment is rendered unnecessary.

goodside 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's hard to have much sympathy when your app already has an identical name (and a very similar logo) to a mobile web browser launched four years earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolt_(web_browser)
pathy 3 days ago 0 replies      
uspto.gov doesn't seem to allow linking directly to trademark filing but search for Bolt and the first two results appear to be from Bolt.co.

One was filed in the 22nd and the other on the 23rd July 2014. Seems like something they should have done earlier but I do feel for them none the less, potentially going up against FB's legal team seems less than fun.

>"IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer application software for mobile phones, namely, software for use in text, voice and video communication between users. FIRST USE: 20131014. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20131014"

baldajan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bolt - you will likely lose this case, Facebook knows this. Don't litigate.

Bolt is used too often and the only way you would succeed in a reverse confusion trial is to show that you own the Bolt trademark when it comes to mobile communication - no easy task. Just look at FiftyThree's USPTO application for "Paper" and the letter of protest that was submitted.

You only recently filed for the mark in the USPTO, and even by some miracle you get it through the PTO, Facebook/Instagram can still file a Letter of Protest or file an Opposition in the TTAB.

Unfortunately, even though you have rights to the name Bolt, you likely won't be able to enforce it. That said, neither Facebook nor Instagram can successfully litigate against you in court.

enthdegree 3 days ago 1 reply      
The #1 way to spot a mushy web3.0 social startup is to see if they named their product a generic, overloaded dictionary word. This is a really irritating recent trend. Every time I see one of these I can almost hear the 'profile picture in a circle' of the CEO pitching the name to me:

'its a really utilitarian, no-nonsense product for People Who Just Get It Done, like me & my team, so naming it out of the common English vocabulary was really the most natural expression of this'

Naming your products tired names like 'Bolt' is not bold, it's just uncreative. It helps no one: it's pretentious, it makes your product harder to find (regardless of 'how dissimilar it is to previous products'), and it makes your brand less memorable. Why would anyone want to do this to their company or their customers?

Maybe people who perpetrate this sort of situation will continue to have tensions like this one and the trend will gracefully(?) self-destruct. Hopefully the people who are capable of building valuable products will choose names which don't cost them!

dimillian 3 days ago 3 replies      
Also, Facebook have a library named bolt: https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2014/01/30/let-s-b...
chrischen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Instagram also harassed us over our name Instapainting.com. They decided to ban us from using Facebook services unless we changed our name.
daddykotex 3 days ago 3 replies      
I hope they change the name.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook and Facebook has launched Slingshot, a Snapchat rival, I'm wondering why they need another one?

coldcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
These days people seem to prefer using actual words as names which can only result in conflicts like this one. At least names like Flikr are pretty unique.
karjaluoto 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote about this topic a few months back, when 53 was upset about Facebook using the "name" Paper: http://www.erickarjaluoto.com/blog/the-perils-of-naming-your...

tl;dr Using a word to name a company is easy, but indefensible.

rahimnathwani 3 days ago 0 replies      
The app icon for Facebook Messenger has a bolt. It's a mobile messenger app. It uses a bolt as the main part of its logo.
bdcravens 3 days ago 0 replies      
The beta name for the first version of Adobe's ColdFusion Builder (IDE) was Bolt.
MichaelApproved 3 days ago 4 replies      
I don't see a trademark claim for the name Bolt on their website. I bet, had they gotten one, they would have an easier time defending the name. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
toufka 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of when Facebook did this with Papers[1] too.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7171724

eddieroger 3 days ago 0 replies      
This appeal reminded me of HipChat's situation with Messages for Mac, and the similar (but better responded to) action they took [0]. It doesn't look like Bolt did anything to lay claim to the name, and they probably don't want to go up against Facebook's lawyers. Besides, they only support Android at the moment, so to any iOS user, Bolt is completely new (and, likely, same for Android, but at least they had potential to know the product).

0. https://blog.hipchat.com/2012/02/17/they-may-just-be-chat-bu...

huntleydavis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is a risk that bolt.co and really any startup that chooses a short 'techy' word as their company name has to factor in.
enthdegree 3 days ago 0 replies      
The #1 way to spot some 'mushy web3.0 startup' is to see if they name their fledgling product some generic, overloaded dictionary word. My perception has always been that owners choose this sort of name to market their product as 'truly the most no-nonsense utilitarian solution, for people who Get Things Done like me & u.' There have been a lot of these lately. Chosing a dull name to be cool isn't helping anyone and I hope collisons like this latest groupthink help the trend die quickly.
dethtron5000 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked at a startup in the late 90s called Bolt. It's hard to protect your name when it's a short, commonly-used word.
stasy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it might actually make yours get more popular if they use the same name (hop on the bandwagon of their marketing
issa 3 days ago 0 replies      
I humbly suggest changing it to "The Bolt". It's cleaner.
TallGuyShort 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish them luck, although using the name of a common machine part as a brand is kind of asking for collisions. I'm also not sure it's wise to base one of your first steps in a potential legal battle on an open letter based on leaked information...
badman_ting 3 days ago 1 reply      
There was nothing named "Bolt" before Mr. Benton's product came around? Really?
yoavush 3 days ago 1 reply      
downloaded Bolt as the only way i can support from afar..
danvesma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lets go with "Dolt"
I created my own MMO and lost 100 pounds
315 points by dshankar  2 days ago   134 comments top 20
arrrg 2 days ago 6 replies      
Ha, Ive done similar things, but Im still in the middle of it, 62 pounds in to be exact, thats about the half-way point.

The key component turned out to be the scale for me. Automatic tracking works much better for me than manually keeping track of it. (I also got a Withings scale, but I dont think the brand matters. As long as the scale automatically logs everything without you having to do anything or even look how much you weigh in the morning its great.) Seeing your whole progress in one graph really helps me keep on track.

A week without progress even though you did all the exercise you always do and ate like you always do? With the trend-line and the chart going all the way back you can easily see that its just a statistical anomaly, most likely random noise (probably mostly dependent on when you drank your water and when you went to the toilet). It doesnt mean progress has stopped.

That 2lb setback, probably because I wasnt careful about what I eat? Now I look back all the way I have come and those 2lbs seem harmless. Thats a ridiculously tiny amount of weight to lose. Its so easy. Just some extra care to what I eat and how active I am and Im all set.

With manual tracking (mostly memorising what I weighed and remembering it the next day) I would at these points just get afraid of the scale and eventually stop weighing myself. The whole process was less transparent with manual tracking and the automatically logging scale demystified it for me. During my previous attempts weeks without any progress just doomed me and got me to this really dark place. No Im not even bothered by them. The trend-line is going down. Always.

Now, step counters may not be accurate or even a good way to track how active you are (and walking or cardio may not the best ways to aid weight loss) but the built-in step counter in my iPhone that I have always with me (plus my podcast addiction and the beautiful weather this summer) actually lead me to automatically want to beat those 10,000 steps per day. And at some point I just started doing it. I think there isnt one day during the last two months where I didnt walk at least 9,000 steps per day, without even consciously deciding to do that. I just wanted to beat those 10,000 steps. I want to see the bar turn green and the 10,000 to light up. That has helped me tremendously to stay active (and not just move less when I started eating less).

I also started driving the ergometer for 30 minutes every day and while I dont really track that Im seeing my progress (I can drive with more and more resistance and without any breaks in-between) also with my scale. The heart rate measurement doesnt work so well (it fails two times out of three) but it also shows steady downward progress. From a resting heart rate in the high 80s Im now down to a healthy one in the low 60s. I also feel much better and sleep much better. (This would certainly be beneficial for me, even without any weight loss.)

All this progress also motivates me to constantly optimise. Next step: Buy good shoes and convert some of that walking distance into running distance. (70 minutes of walking per day are a bit long, but doable. However, with some running I can bring that time down.)

(The eating story is similar. I dont particularly care about what I eat, but when you restrict how much you eat you will automatically tend to prefer food that makes you feel fuller. Thats at least how it was for me so far. I dont want to eat pasta every day because then I wouldnt ever feel full. And when I do eat pasta I would rather make the portion a bit smaller and add a salad for the saved calories to feel fuller.)

Will it work? Ask me in three years. I hope so. I think keeping up my weighing routine forever will be the key. If I can do that I see no reason why I cant keep at it and at least hold my weight (but most likely lose some more and hold the weight I want to have). Im cautiously optimistic. This is the most weight I have ever lost in my life and the longest I have been at it and I dont even feel constantly starving or demotivated or crushed (something that was common during previous attempts). I actually feel great most of the time.

Get tracking! It helped me.

SoftwareMaven 2 days ago 2 replies      
I went the exact opposite route. After losing 180 pounds via bariatric surgery and then regaining 70 of it, I dove into the science. I read books, but only books that pointed directly to scientific literature I could read. More importantly, I learned how to differentiate good nutrition studies from bad nutrition studies (hint: at least 90% of nutrition studies are bad) so I could tell when an conclusion is warranted by the data versus when it isn't. I also started completely ignoring anything said in the media, since, invariably, they get it wrong or they hype the afore-mentioned bad studies. Everything became about the science and the n=1 experiments.

What I found was that I could lose weight without effort, improve every health marker, and enjoy the foods my body really seemed to desire (as opposed to foods engineered to cause cravings). The 70 pounds disappeared without any tracking of anything[1]. More importantly, that 70 pounds was gone a year ago, and maintaining the loss has been just as straightforward.

I applaud anybody who finds the method that works for them. It's pretty clear our bodies are striving to be healthy and get what they need; once you find that, the rest comes relatively easy.[2]

1. There was some early tracking as I learned about different foods and how they interacted with me and my goals.

2. Unfortunately, some people lost the genetic lottery (less than you might think) or are so metabolically disturbed (becoming more and more) that it isn't always easy. I have a huge amount of respect for those who persevere through that and work towards a healthier life.

fivedogit 2 days ago 14 replies      
I want to upvote this a dozen more times. I've always thought MMOs could "hack" the brain into doing all sorts of cool, productive things.

Somebody needs to create an MMO for language learning. Instead of "go kill 12 dragons" the questgiver would say "matar a 12 dragones" or "matar a 12 dragones verdes" or "matar al dragn en la cima de la montaa". The immersion and addiction would have hardcore players speaking 10 languages, I guarantee it.

And I think this could be extended to quantifiable human-necessary tasks, too. Like a mechanical turk, but fun.

frankcaron 2 days ago 2 replies      
Figures that I submit this for karma myself eons ago but it only now, via another HNer, pops to the top. :)

- The fat MMO guy

brohoolio 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good inspiring article.

I recently added 3 rules to my life.

1.) No pop2.) Track calorie intake via loseit3.) Exercise everyday (even if it's just a 10 minute walk or some pushups)

Two weeks in and I feel way better. I find that I'm trying to control my calorie intake and get it where it needs to be without exerting as much effort as I would be if I was simply counting calories to lose weight. I find that I'm doing more than the minimum in terms of exercise too just because I'm already doing some exercise.

At least I found having rules helped me not push off weight loss until next week forever.

jebus989 2 days ago 2 replies      
British guy problems but I thought someone was blogging about a very small financial loss on a game they made. lbs would help.
funkyy 2 days ago 4 replies      
I am actually testing the 1 day fasting diet, exercising every day (either speed walking 5K, jogging for 5K or tennis) and limiting liquid calories.

The things people forget:-your body is unable to calculate liquid calories (pop, juices etc) - so even after drinking 2K calories in Cola you can be still hungry

-fasting for 1 day a week (200-300 intake in sugars calories like sugar tea) or 2 days a week (500 calories in fruit sugars a day) is extremely healthy as for first 24 hours since eating your body will use gathered sugars in your body to maintain itself burning all the nasty stuff logging your veins and stomach. This also helps you to say no to food - next day after fasting you wont feel like extremaly hungry and even very small meals through the day will be enough to you

-track calories - but be honest, always round it up DOWN to full 50s and 100s.

-calculate calories weekly, not daily. Make sure on the end of the week you are good. Start Monday with fasting - you will have 1,500-2,000 calories deficit already so basically you can eat most of stuff through the week.

I have lost already 10 pounds in 4 weeks, I can run easily and I feel much better. 2 more months and I am done!

4ndr3vv 1 day ago 0 replies      
This title was very confusing for an Englishman.
caster_cp 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is genius. Really. In my mind you've just "jiu jitsued" the candy bars, by applying the same mechanisms they use to keep you hooked, but against them. By creating habits that are prone to compulsive behavior (the phenomenon at play when you want to check your diet data is the same as when a teen checks his/her Facebook/WhatsApp/Whatever for messages).The surprising thing here is that you could keep this going long enough until it actually became a habit (or so I suppose). This is the trick, and I couldn't figure out what made you keep it so (willpower may be the answer here, but s there any other thing going on?) Anyways, kudos, you data aficionado diet jiu jitsu guy :D
frankcaron 2 days ago 2 replies      
For the record, and for those asking for this to be a real game, FitRPG for iOS is planning to deliver on some of that very notion. It's a super cool app; and I say that with absolutely no affiliation (srs). Google it.
thret 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised nobody has linked the obligatory xkcd yet: http://xkcd.com/189/

I think about this every time I run.

nathan_f77 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly what I'm doing, down to the MFP app and the Withings scale. The results have been amazing so far, and I look forward to writing a similar blog post by the end of the year.
smegel 1 day ago 2 replies      
> The idea is to track everything you take in and track what you spend through exercise.

Wouldn't it just be easier to weigh yourself once a week, and if your weight goes up, eat less calories the following week and/or do more exercise? Unless your memory is that bad, or your eating patterns that random, it should not be hard to cut out things you know are high calorie and you can do without.

restlessmedia 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's the guiding principal behind weight watchers. If you get into the habit of at least noticing what you are eating, you'll give yourself the opportunity to accept/deny it. The points system for weight watchers is genius and removes the complexity around nutrition as long as you how many points that thing your eating contains.
MichaelTieso 2 days ago 0 replies      
I imagine a future where we will be able to track everything we eat automatically without having to enter any data in onto an app. Imagine seeing data about your body right on your arm. I eat a sandwich and it tells me exactly how many calories it was. I'll be the first to signup for something like this if/when this comes out.
MichaelDickens 2 days ago 0 replies      
In case the site isn't loading for anyone else: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:www.pol...
norswap 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, I'd actually hoped he had coded a real MMO. Well, congratulations to him in any case.
Mz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Good for him. Though I was hoping he had actually created an MMO. This is kind of a metaphorical MMO, not a real one.
zedwill 1 day ago 0 replies      
The story reminds me of REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson. In fiction, the protagonist Richard also creates his own MMO and uses immersion as a way to loose weight.
eru 1 day ago 0 replies      
Switching from World of Warcraft to Ingress can also help with fitness and weightloss.
Rolling your own CDN for $25 in 1 hour
320 points by mxpxrocks10  4 days ago   89 comments top 17
natch 4 days ago 5 replies      
Nice. For tutorials like this it would be nice to see more details on the "how" of each step. For example:

"We setup DNS info to point here (both NS1 and NS2..."

That's great, but it would be nice to see:

"Using the geodns web-based configuration tool, we setup DNS info to point here (both NS1 and NS2..."


"Running <insert full command line here including tool and all options used here> on <insert environment here>, we setup DNS info to point here (both NS1 and NS2..."


"By editing /etc/<file> on the <some environment>, we setup DNS info to point here (both NS1 and NS2..."

In other words specifics are always really great to include.

But still this was a really great writeup, not just for the overview it gives of one lightweight approach but for the comments it has kicked off.

xxdesmus 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'd recommend CloudFlare if you want AnyCast geo-DNS, and a free CDN. We don't charge for bandwidth or our DNS service.

Disclosure: yes, I work at CloudFlare but the previous details are simply facts.

kbar13 4 days ago 3 replies      
rolling your CDN on VPS instances isn't exactly cost-effective, and is probably more of an exercise for fun than anything else. Unless you need features out of your CDN that you can't get from existing CDN providers, I don't really see the point.

also kind of unusual that this blog post is by the president of MaxCDN.

akerl_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm more than a little bit concerned that the article doesn't point out the serious risk of running a single DNS server for the records.

I get that they're trying to keep things simple for their demo, but unsuspecting folks following this guide are in for quite a shock when their GeoDNS is taken out by a single physical server fault.

edoceo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is similar to the process I used to build http://gcdn.org/ which I and a few clients + friends use on multiple projects. We used to use RR but GeoDNS has proven to be awesome and reliable. Full NS control makes it easier to do rolling upgrades or maintenance too. Excellent write up.

More notes on GeoDNS http://edoceo.com/howto/geodns

danielrhodes 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would highly recommend Varnish using S3 as a backend origin. Add to that a few 100TB.com dedicated server and you have an extremely cheap CDN with pretty decent bandwidth and minimal maintenance.

CDNs have the advantage that they control more of the stack so can do more precise routing and have more edge nodes in more places. However, under the right circumstances, you can take the above quite far before a real CDN becomes necessary.

AdamN 3 days ago 3 replies      
Now with libcloud (http://libcloud.readthedocs.org/en/latest/compute/drivers/) you can use multiple platforms in order to get all continents represented.

Including Africa (http://kili.io) where I'm at.

fakeyfake 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of this article about hosting a CDN on digitalocean for the dash documentation software.


ColinCera 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm wondering if it would be useful to plug groupcache into this. It's what Google uses for serving downloads (e.g., Chrome downloads). Inherently distributed and self-balancing. I might give that a try.
jpmonette 3 days ago 1 reply      
Definitely nice to see a real-world example of how to use Docker.
ksec 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be better on Linode? Since they have wider selection of PoP. But i wonder if the port speed would be a problem.
Oculus 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cool article for understanding the basics of a CDN. What sort of page load improvement can one get by adding geographically distributed servers?
fmela 4 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks for sharing. Note that there's a typo in the link to Ewan's github profile (should start with https, not ttps).
adarshr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is this page blocked by my UK work network?
lingben 4 days ago 1 reply      
or you know, if your concern is cost, go with cdn.net and pay as you go for a kickass global cdn network

full disclosure, I have no business or personal connection to them

leapius 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent tut!
hiddenpearls 3 days ago 0 replies      
that's awesome +Chris
My iOS Indie-Game Numbers
320 points by jazzychad  2 days ago   143 comments top 31
m3mnoch 2 days ago 11 replies      
like others have said, absolutely, thank you for writing this up.

a few observations for my fellow hope-laden game developers.

tl;dr: anyone can use today's tools to make crappy, me-too games. you need to make good games to succeed. to do that, you're going to need your 10,000 hours of game programming (not the same as web programming), 10,000 hours of game design (not just playing games), and 10,000 hours of all manner of art.

1) the marketplace is a "bloodbath"

while, yes, there are tons and tons of other apps out there, to be frank, that's just fine for quality indie developers, because the majority of those games all look like your apps. you cannot with any serious expectation, for example, think to sell like hotcakes something like "wordgrid" or "letters". i mean, the reason "tetra" got any traction at (i would bet as i haven't read the reviews) all was for its multiplayer component.

you cannot expect to have sales numbers like incredible-art-having sworcery or the incredible-paradigm-busting papers please with average-looking, average-playing, average-genre games.

if you want to succeed, you must-must-must differentiate yourself. if you can't, yes -- it's a hobby. and, unfortunately no, you're not a professional.

just because you can't throw a rock without hitting an amazingly easy toolset does not mean you'll build amazing games. it just means that everyone without the talent to build such games has an equal chance to show off the fact they can't build amazing games.

2) marketing is everything.

no. no it's not.

i'm part of the zynga/playdom facebook games generation where we instrumented, measured, and then poured on users. we thought virality was king and users were something you bought. push that k-factor through the roof!!!

come to find out, retention was king. this is why zynga is ... um ... having issues. come to find out, you need a good game.

if you have a good game and that game is easy to share, you'll get users from both channels -- app review sites and word of mouth -- without a lot of dough. you'll grow more slowly, but give people a reason, the method, and the content to share and they will.

that's not to say marketing isn't important -- it is. it's just not the most important thing by far.

3) it's a lottery.

only for simplistic, easy-to-copy games. take the "threes vs. 2048" conflict as an example:

awful 2048 grossing data:http://www.appannie.com/apps/ios/app/840919914/rank-history/...

still substantial threes grossing data:http://www.appannie.com/apps/ios/app/779157948/rank-history/...

if you make something that anyone with a keyboard can make, you'll need to have an extrodinary amount of luck (2048 from ketchapp, flappy bird, etc.) that looks like a lottery.

if you make something interesting that people want to play, you'll be just fine. especially these days when everyone is looking to discover the next minecraft or spelunky.

so, if you don't have the ability or team to make a good game, yes, you will need the lottery. and every time i hear about "the lottery" that is the app marketplace, all i can think of is nate silver's "the signal and the noise" book.

if you think it takes a lottery to succeed on the app store, you have a massive blindspot and that blindspot is: you don't have the ability -- yet -- to make quality games. you only think you do.

don't give up. keep going. you'll get there eventually.

prawn 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Chad, are you still playing all of your games yourself? I wonder if they are "sticky" enough? Bit hard to tell from the screen captures - they don't really stand out to me in the screenshots. But I like word games so will check out Letters!

While you got the OK for the Letterpress UI from the creator, I wonder if anyone else who's unaware of that would notice and think you're a clone and ignore you?

I released my first ever iOS game* last week and it's a word game like yours. Not sure if we (two man team) just got lucky, but overnight we hit millionth game played and we've hit #1 word game in 30 countries at one point or another. People are playing about 3-5 games per second at any given point of the day which amazes me. The game took us four months to make - a month on the core mechanic and the rest polishing.

I have a pipeline of game ideas I think are very good so definitely intend to make more.

* Our game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hexiled/id881274996?mt=8

diziet 2 days ago 1 reply      
User acquisition for mobile is just as important as developing an application. There are companies with larger development teams AND many folks working on user acquisition AND marketing budgets reaching a millions of dollars per month, cross promotions, international reach, etc. As an indie developer, you wear all hats, from development to marketing. It's simply not reliable to launch a title and hope it takes off by itself or hope that sending emails to journalists will be enough on acquisition. If you'd spent hundreds of hours on development - figure out to spend just as much on acquisition. Doing paid acquisition might not work as the CPI (cost per install( for installs is most likely going to be much higher than an untuned app's LTV (lifetime Value).

I'd hacked together a 'mobile marketing' checklist before, it might help: https://sensortower.com/iphone-app-marketing

josu 2 days ago 3 replies      
>In the end, I've had to chalk all these apps up to the "hobby" category as it has been a money-losing proposition.

This is what Taleb calls an extremistan world, you can't apply a gaussian distribution to this situation. It is difficult to find a mediocre filmmaker that just makes enough money to get by, or a writer, or a painter... You either become fairly succesful or you die without ever being able to "make it".

You can't really tell when your next game will become the next Words with friends, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird or Candy Crush. But if it does, you can go from a "hobby" to a full time job even needing to hire a team.

k-mcgrady 2 days ago 2 replies      
When you develop a game you're taking a big risk. There are so many ways people can entertain themselves that your game has to be something really special - and even that may not be enough. Secondly, ripping off the letterpress UI (with or without permission) was a bad idea imo. If I saw the screenshots my first thought would be. "this is a letterpress ripoff" and I wouldn't have downloaded it.

If you create an app that solves a real problem or solves a problem better than the current solutions you can do okay in the App Store. It's rare to do great but you can do well enough. Games don't solve problems. They add to a growing number of ways to entertain ourselves which includes movies, music, tv, news, the internet - and all these are accessible on a mobile device.

P.S. Not trying to sound too negative about games but making money in entertainment is difficult. People have so many options - many of which are free - and they'll take the cheapest one.

Elizer0x0309 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised nobody is talking about the actual game!? It's really not standing out. Another "Word" type game that barely innovates on the genre.

I guess people are so focused on marketing, user acquisition and not .... wait for it.... PRODUCT!

_random_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I will be the negative guy here, down-vote if you will.

What kind of profit did you expect? As a game app consumer I only buy the very best (original and/or polished) apps in their respective categories. E.g. Leo's Fortune, FTL, Limbo, Icebreaker, Reaper would be very easy purchases for me. You can see those games had _a lot_ of effort put into. In my subjective, blatant and impolite opinion your apps could be more of the cause of the over-saturation problem rather than victims. Saying that, I have nothing to show myself so far :).

acconrad 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is scary - a prolific programmer acquires nearly 30,000 downloads and can't even create a profit based on the price of his advertising. What hope is there for newcomers other than to focus more on marketing than on the product itself?
apptoss 1 day ago 2 replies      
My iOS Indie-Nongame Numbers

First published app (an educational niche): $1,832 in first three months. $1,360 in past 30 days.

Second published app (a semi-educational game-related app): $49 in first three months. $6 in past 30 days.

Third published app (an educational niche): $360 in first three months. $385 in past 30 days.

I now have over a dozen apps. Three of those earn less than $100 a month and I've all but abandoned them. Four more also earn less than $100 a month but are part of suite of clones that address different niches. Together, the suite earns over $200 a month now. My top 4 apps earn more like $100, $300, $400, and $1400 a month now. Over the past year, those iOS apps earned me just over $40,000. Not enough to live on alone but it's not a bad start.

kwhinnery 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would resist the urge to give too much credit to luck and marketing when it comes to indie game success. Notable outliers like Bastion, Sword + Sworcery, and FTL were all stunning executions. The FTL team did almost no marketing, but released a product that spoke directly to the target market of desktop gamers. Passionate people played it, liked it, and told others.

It's hard to achieve that level of success because it's hard to execute on that level of excellence with a concept that resonates with an audience.

There are other paths to financial success, surely, where monied studios can pump out derivative crap with in-app purchases and virtual goods. I guess the talent there comes from being able to tune experiences designed for shallow addiction, like food scientists creating the cheese dust for Doritos. But I don't think that's the only path.

dustinlakin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this up, it is always interesting and saddening to getting a deeper look at indie development on the app store.

It seems like more simplistic puzzle games like these have potential to completely blow up, but the market is also completely flooded with them. And I have found that it can be difficult to find quality in the genre. I would imagine that games that have heavier focus on art and polish can make a world of difference. It seems it gets attention from blogs/review sites and more probable for Apple to feature them.

Regardless, it is frustrating that your hard work that goes into these games didn't get the attention they may have deserved. Keep up the great work and hopefully we hear back from you soon about a monetarily successful game, whether that be in the app store or elsewhere.

randall 2 days ago 3 replies      
The thing is I want to know about these fun new games. I feel like discovery is the actual problem.

If I had a random app installed on my home screen every day and I could say "more like this" or "this is horrible" I think it'd be cool. But it would have to be passive.

james_hague 2 days ago 0 replies      
The App Store is EXTREMELY clogged on the low-end. If it's your first game, if you use "puzzle" to describe it, if it's a spin on Tetris or Threes or Snake or match-3 or anything well-known, if someone could clone it in a week...that's the low-end. Not only will you have trouble getting customers to notice you, but you'll also fight just to get any kind of review.

What's also happening is that developers (myself included: http://appstore.com/daisypop) think "Wow, I shouldn't have spent so much time on that; I need to make something simpler and more rapidly so I have a better chance of turning a profit." This accelerates the problem.

imkevinxu 2 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if there could be a Kickstarter for indie iOS apps (no companies allowed). Seems like an awful lot of time invested to design and build an app without really knowing if it'll be popular or make money.

The "pre-funding" model would be able to give indie developers 1) early fan base, 2) early revenue, 3) early validation instead of working in the dark

I remember reading how Threes was made and IIRC it was on the order of many many months and redesigns before users saw/heard anything. But they hit the lottery jackpot I guess

asperous 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's yesterday's blog post he was inspired by:


Here's an infographic with the sales for a much larger indie game [Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP]:


incision 2 days ago 0 replies      
>'I am not sure how to break into the App Store today except by winning the lottery.'

I'm not sure I follow.

It's a trio of side-projects, none of which have been available for even a full year yet, entering into a 'total bloodbath' marketplace.

Is it typical to expect immediate success and profitability doing this?

Traditionally, 'breaking in' is something people might spend years if not decades on and likely without the benefit of employment at a successful start-up during the week.

Things take time and persevering for longer than a year while refining and/or generating a fully original title would seem to be a good start.

passfree 1 day ago 0 replies      
$0.99 for an App is not sustainable pricing unless your product is mass-marketed in order to make up the numbers. My company have several products in iOS and Mac App Stores and none of them are near this price. In fact, one of our products (Websecurify for iOS) is $16 which you may say is an expensive app for iOS but this is a more realistic pricing. I doubt we would have achieved any effect if we had priced it $0.99. Btw, the next version of our app will probably cost twice as much because even $16 is barely sustainable.

I think it is time for iOS developers get their strategy checked up. I know a lot of people want to get their app/game to a lot of people but unless you have evidence that you app is reaching millions of people, it is not going to work.

hipjiveguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think you'd have more success if you twist your games a wee bit, and try and turn them educational. That way you'd be able to put them in the educational category, where this guy who has similar word styles games as yours, is doing very well:


Also, I couldn't find your contact info on your blog - is it there somewhere? You'd want press to be able to find it if so....

plg 2 days ago 0 replies      
the game space is VERY crowded for mobile

if I were to think about mobile apps I would aim for some specialty market segment, e.g. doctors, or lawyers, or construction, or weddings, etc. not games. too crowded. too many voices.

cix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some people may say that we are in a Idiocracy, seeing games like Flappy bird become trend setters while AAA titles are getting barely any downloads. Mobile game developers need to understand the platform is more important than the game. In that you develop what is best for the platform and demographic. Not what you perceive as being high quality and pour millions of dollars and R&D. The more you make the mobile game look like a job, regardless how difficult it was to make, it will not be enjoyed because of such complexity. Although for simple Apps that have little ways to differ from the crowd, then marketing with some quirky difference to it seems to be the most effective.
funtober 2 days ago 0 replies      
My friend and I kicked around putting some effort into building an app a few years back when people started publishing the "how to make money on the app store" posts. So thank you for posting this.

My suggestion is to find a website with an established niche (outside of the traditional app review websites) and audience who will promote your product ... and build something for that audience.

For example, my website has a ton of traffic in September and October. It's new though, so we are still working out monetization. There's a couple games in the market that would appeal to my visitors. I could probably give one a significant bump. And not one of them has ever contacted me about a review, provided a promo code, etc ... let alone a revenue share.

I didn't spend much time looking at Letters, but maybe it would do well on the blog of a english teacher?

physcab 2 days ago 0 replies      
> This also means that 74 people out of 21,309 (0.3%) paid to unlock internationally compared to 112 out of 5521 (2%) that paid to unlock domestically.

I don't know how many of these are DAU (you didn't say), but these numbers are not as bad as they might seem. 1%-5% is about industry average for % spenders in games. Where you need to tune things is figure out who the spenders are and raise your ROI. You state that you spent $700 to get $261 in revenue which is about 37% ROI. Not good, but its a start atleast. Obviously you want to be above 1. What I would do is invest a little in some analytics, figure out who your spenders are and cohort them. Then see if you can reduce your spend, become more targeted in your buying, while also increasing opportunities to earn more revenue. Just my $0.02

yeureka 2 days ago 1 reply      
Making it on the App store with games is extremely hard.I have 3 friends who each developed a mobile game and made no money, basically the games serve as portfolio for future work.I don't think the quality is the issue with what my friends produced:




Most likely marketing failures.

That being said, I am working on one myself and have all the hopes that any indie has.

jbverschoor 1 day ago 1 reply      
Same for us..

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/damian-filigree-book-thoth/i...This one had promotion through free app of the day. Lifetime revenue was around $700. Paid around $400 in ads

https://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/snap-together-free/id5770998...Spent ca $1500 on ads, made $20 revenue.

sjtgraham 2 days ago 2 replies      
The "Letters" numbers shock me, I follow Chad on Twitter, downloaded the game and found it to be very addictive, especially the mechanic of solving the daily word. Chad, I really think there is something there in Letters; it definitely deserves some push.
blutoot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel that, in the long run, apps are meant to be user interface to something bigger than being an all-encompassing entity for use cases outside of music, gaming and a few other categories. In other words, the service being accessed through an app will be equally if not more important compared to the app itself. And I just don't see indie devs being able to manage and scale on both fronts equally, yet. Maybe the more infrastructure as a code and web app development get commoditized, the better will be the chances for indies to shine/profit again? Until then, app is just gonna be a fancy (and in many cases the only) endpoint for most sustainable business models.
mkirsche 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent 6 month developing a game in my spare time:


3 weeks after the launch the game sold 6 copies and made 8,95$. I sent out 51 promo codes to various review sites but only 8 of them got redeemed.

I can already guess how impossible it is to enter the iOS gaming market.

peapicker 2 days ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find 'letters' by searching on 'letters' in the app store... too many other things came up first. By search for your other games, then going to letters I was able to try it.

Pretty fun, would be nice if it had some of the 'hip' words used these days, "Selfie" etc

(edit, had some stuff in here about would be nice if there was an undo)

Aldo_MX 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your numbers, they were an eye opener for me, and now I'll need to plan a better strategy...
programminggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't matter if it's games or not games. These numbers ring basically true to me.

I've done enough apps that the math doesn't work out to me anymore. Simply put, you're selling candy bars, but without the disposable aspect, so your customer LTV on a $1 app is $0.7. If you have a suite of 5 or 10 $1 apps, even if you had a huge cross sell of 5 of those 10 apps, your LTV is 70% of $5... $3.50.

In that scenario, to get paid $70,000, you need 20,000 customers to buy 50% of your products each year.

Honestly, if you can get 20,000 to buy your app you've either hit a top list or you are so good at marketing that it is nonsensical that you would be selling $1 apps.

So yeah, for most developers the app store business isn't much of a business at all. Maybe leveraging it to get interest in desktop or console apps where the per unit price is closer to $20-100 would help.

Even then, I don't think you will see or hear many stores about app store millionaires going forward. The money might be there, but it's too diluted to make much of a dent.

Might as well buy a lottery ticket, it costs you less time and money with basically the same outcome.

gojomo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate in-game ads. But if paired with an in-game ad-buyout option, they do tend to remind me that, if I'm going to be playing the game repeatedly, I should do the buy-out.

So even if ads earn a negligible amount... are they ever worth trying as a mechanism to boost in-game purchases?

How to find your Uber passenger rating
323 points by aaln  4 days ago   189 comments top 37
madeofpalk 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a lot easier than the Charles MITM proxy I used to intercept the Uber iPhone API calls to determine mine. I feel kind of silly now that I didnt bother checking the web API.

I also made a web scraper to get my uber trip details (incl. route driven), save it to JSON and map the trips all at once. http://i.imgur.com/Q1W59rD.jpg. Here's a quick dump of the code https://github.com/joshhunt/uber. It's pretty rough and it makes a lot of assumptions (e.g. metric system and AUD). I never really plan on looking at it again, so your milage may vary.

I also found their API structure to be quite unusual: They make a call to something like `api.uber.com/` with POST data of something like

    {        url: '/api/user/123123123',        method: 'get',        location: [lat, long]    }
and you'll recieve a response back of something like

    {        responseData: {            username: 'madeofpalk'            ...rest of requested data...        },        vehicles: [            ...list of all vehicles and their locations...        ]        ...other data that wasnt explicitly requested but comes through with every request...    }
I had never seen this pattern before, and thought it was quite unusual (especially for a 'new hip startup' that uses Python and Node.js). Anyone care to comment on why they may have choosen something like this?

po 3 days ago 2 replies      
My twitter stream is now full of people, some of whom I am sure do not have the skill to evaluate if something is a JavaScript security threat or not, who have copied and pasted a random script they read on the internet into the developer console. Granted, this one is pretty simple and easier to evaluate than most, but still you really get why Facebook hacked the console to warn people not to do that.

edit: This tweet said exactly what I was thinking when I saw all of this. https://twitter.com/s_m_i/status/493609377958723584

"Also this uber thing shows folks will copy and paste commands they dont understand without a second thought if the incentives are right"

rdl 3 days ago 8 replies      
I don't get why Uber doesn't tell me the exterior color of UberX cars coming to pick me up. I have no idea what a "Nissan Versa" is; knowing it's a blue minivan would be helpful.
finnn 3 days ago 4 replies      
I somehow have a 4, the lowest in this thread (that I've seen so far). I wonder what I did, I generally try to be polite to the drivers and I rarely use the service, so I suspect I got one extremely poor rating? I can't imagine when though.

Anyway, looks like you can go and pull the token out of the page and just do

curl https://m.uber.com/cn --data '{"messageType":"PingClient","token":"xxxxx","app":"client"}' | jq .client.ratin

to check it programmatically. Could be interesting to have a service detect somehow that you'd just finished a ride and show you the new score (and possibly the change, etc)

politician 3 days ago 4 replies      
I have absolutely zero interest in my Uber passenger rating.

If they decide to start being ridiculous, I'll decide to start taking cabs again -- at least the cabbies generally have a clue about how to get to places, and don't bother with questions about "what route would you like me to take you on". The fastest route, thanks.

zoba 3 days ago 1 reply      
Or, alternatively, you can just ask your Uber driver when you get in the car. Much easier, and likely won't be "fixed" by uber for a long time.
korzun 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to point out that customer support will be happy to give you your rating.

Just ask.

philip1209 3 days ago 2 replies      
The window.Uber variable has a lot of interesting information, like "isAdmin," data about the last vehicle I rode in (interior color, exterior color, model year, capacity), last driver's phone number, "activeExperiments" which I assume are multivariate tests being run against me, etc
narsil 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Lyft shares something similar via their API as well.

`curl -H "Authorization: fbAccessToken <fb access token>" https://api.lyft.com/users/<lyft user id>` provides some basic profile, credit card, location and referral information but nothing about ratings. The lyft user ID can be obtained by logging in at www.lyft.com/login and viewing the source.

yskchu 3 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like they closed it :-/

window.Uber.pingData.client.firstName, lastName, email all work, but rating is now "undefined".

the_economist 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've been aware of my Uber passenger rating for about a year. When I first found out about it, my rating was a 4.9. Once I realized that I was being rated, I worked really hard to be the perfect passenger. I had my rating up to a 5.0 for a few months. Then I got lazy about being perfect and it has since dropped to a 4.8.
aliston 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't get why this is included in the window.Uber pingData. It seems as though your rating is something that isn't necessary and shouldn't be surfaced client-side.

Anyone have some insight into why this data is there in the first place? Is this an accidental leak, some sort of optimization or something else?

zobzu 3 days ago 4 replies      
I've only had a few rides and ive 4.9 (ie someone didnt rate me 5.0). Meh.

Then again, I don't feel bad rating drivers because they sell me a service, I'm rating that (it wouldnt even have to include their name - it probably shouldn't. then again I'm european, we seem to have slightly different ethics).

I feel bad that they rate us because we don't provide them with anything.

That rating is going to be saved, sold and shared eventually.

chatmasta 3 days ago 4 replies      
What kind of details do you think go into this rating? My guess: how long driver waits for you to get in the car, how drunk and annoying you are, how much you tip (do they see this before rating?), how profitable your ride is.

I suspect most drivers, like most passengers, give a 5.0 to almost everyone, but dock points for being a dick. It just seems there's no other way to differentiate passengers, since they'll be paying the fee regardless.

aioprisan 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of useful data in window.Uber.pingData.client. For instance, I can see that my credit card profile is on braintree.
rlu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know why Uber doesn't easily just give you your own rating? If I know my rating is low then I know I should work on improving it if I want to continue using Uber...

Seems kind of like a win-win-win for all three parties (Uber, driver, myself)

schnaars 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've just asked my driver and they tell you.
jwilliams 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm. Suspect there is a bug with this - All my ratings are five, besides a handful of zeroes. At least a couple of the zeroes I remember being perfectly amicable rides (I mean, I'd assume something extreme is necessary to get a zero)...

My suspicion is that zero is equivalent to unrated, so shouldn't be in the sum?

lawrencegs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this reverse-rating system is only for US. Even though I'm from US, I had only get the chance to use it abroad (Jakarta). And when I check it, my rating is null. Is it something to do with the fact that Uber driver in Jakarta are actually professional car-rental driver?
rco8786 3 days ago 1 reply      

I use uber multiple time per week and have for years. So I guess I'm not an asshole.

blake8086 3 days ago 3 replies      
So if you check this after every ride, you'll know exactly what everyone rated you, right?
saalweachter 3 days ago 3 replies      
Are there any drivers in the audience who can tell us what different ratings mean?
thejerz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I live in Philadelphia and I've taken uber around 50 times. I have a 4.8.
michaeldwan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't think of a single reason the user rating is hidden from the user. If anything, knowing your score is low would help explain why rides are often unavailable.
girvo 3 days ago 1 reply      
The site now says that the mobile site is unavailable. Perhaps they've taken it down to fix this? I'm in Australia, so maybe that's it.
taroth 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice hack. I imagine using it to see if a driver gave me a good rating or not based on the delta between my new score and old score.
swang 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if `window.Uber.pingData.client.activeExperiments` is the test groups you're currently in at the moment...
Zhenya 3 days ago 1 reply      
Game's over - result is now null.
joshwa 3 days ago 0 replies      
On my browser, the rating is at


burntcookie90 3 days ago 1 reply      
this is also visible if you view the source on m.uber.com, ctrl-f for "rating".
corylehey 3 days ago 0 replies      
even easier method, ask your next Uber driver what your rating is.
sunasra 3 days ago 0 replies      
dont they show officially?
mxpxrocks10 3 days ago 0 replies      
awesome- this was great. 4.9
mrvladnov 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is dope, got a 4.8
trekky1700 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, happy to find I have a 5/5 too!
thrill 4 days ago 0 replies      
5.0 (I've never used the service - so it looks like it's all downhill from here...)
Micro heaters cut 87% off my electric heat bill
321 points by dantiberian  1 day ago   265 comments top 45
dredmorbius 1 day ago 8 replies      
OK, Paul Wheaton simply doesn't know what he's talking about:

"I think that this does produce some savings, but not as much as you might think. If you set your thermostat to a constant 70, the heater works a little at a time throughout the day. If you drop it to 50 at night or in the middle of the day, the heater stops working, but then when the time comes to warm the house again, the heater has to work at full power for a long time to get the temp back up - thus losing a lot of your savings."


Heat losses are driven by two factors:

1. The temperature differential between the hot and cold sides.

2. The thermal conductivity (or exchange) between the hot and cold sides.

That's straight out of Newton's Law of Cooling / Fourier's Law:


If you're running heat constantly, you're maintaining a constant flow of heat from your interior to the exterior. That is, you're maintaining a high heat exchange rate to the exterior, and you're constantly wasting a large portion of heat.

If you're heating only while you need a warm interior, then as the interior temperature falls, the energy flux to the exterior decreases. You're no longer pumping heat into the external environment.

Yes, you'll run your furnace/heating system continuously for a while in raising the interior temperature, but that is largely adding heat to the interior space, not to the exterior.

The net is expending less energy.

Your most efficient strategy is to turn interior heat down to the minimum essential level (ultimately: enough to keep pipes from freezing), or the minimum level the thermostat allows (often ~50F in the US). My own practice is generally to turn any heating system off entirely at night.

From a moisture management perspective, you also win as cold air has a lower absolute humidity, that is, the quantity of water it can hold is lower. Heating cold humid air reduces the relative humidity, allowing walls and surfaces to dry out.

The overnight heat loss is also a very clear sign that Paul Wheaton is dealing with an exceptionally poorly insulated structure. And a very poor grasp of thermodynamics.

The same principle holds for AC as well, though here you want to increase the temperature setting at which the AC comes on, or disable AC entirely while you're out of the home.

A better way of thinking of this is to minimize the energy input (heating or cooling) when it's not needed.





dredmorbius 1 day ago 3 replies      
Spot-heating, especially within a leaky building envelope utilizing expensive heat sources (electric resistance) is one option.

But it's hardly the only one, or the best. For northern climates, taking a whole-system approach to home/structure design gets you a tremendously greater payoff in terms of energy savings.

Among the most powerful demonstrations of this I've seen are Thorsten Chlupp / Reina LLC's experiences designing and building zero net energy homes in Fairbanks, Alaska.

His videos are long (~90 minutes) be exceptionally comprehensive. The TL;DR is:

Total envelope. He pays exceptional attention to any thermal envelope penetrations. All emissions (air, water, sewage) pass through thermal exchanges.

Thermal mass. The foundation, flooring, central masonry stove, and a 5,000 gallon stratified thermal storage tank all store and scavange thermal energy both passively and actively.

Moisture control. Heat barriers introduce thermal issues. Chlupp makes use of multiple glazings, window setbacks, and _exterior_ thermal shutters to minimize moisture buildup on windows. Moisture barriers and ventilation of interstitial spaces is designed to clear moisture.

Heat pumps. Rather than create thermal energy directly (other than the masonry stove), Chlupp moves heat using ground-loop heat pumps.

Solar and net metering. Solar panels (yes, in Alaska) and net metering help him arrive at net zero energy. His first-year goal wasn't met due to plug-in hybrid vehicles, an oversight in his energy modeling.

Though conceived as a whole-system ground-up greenfield design, the principles are applicable to a lesser degree as retrofit options.

Oh, and for heating your bed: a 1 liter Nalgene bottle, filled with boiling hot water, and slipped into a wool sock, will heat your bed cozily. Two are almost certainly too hot, but you're welcome to try. And they'll last the night.


Alaska's First Net Zero Energy Homes Performance Updatehttp://fixyt.com/watch?v=Xen_VWyDezY

Path to Net Zero Energy Series -- Alaska's first Net Zero Ho...http://fixyt.com/watch?v=AtHkvpRI6fc


arh68 1 day ago 2 replies      
Imagine how much more they could save by keeping the heated mattress pad on and never leave the bed! I mostly jest..

The author seems totally unaware of the efficiency gains that a heat pump can provide. A 300W space heater will be easily outmatched by a heat pump that consumes 300W (unless we're dropping way, way below 0C). The efficiency is likely ~3x [1]. I hope the author isn't making this mistake out of disdain for centralized hvac, since window unit heat pumps are readily available for small spaces.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pump#Efficiency

nostromo 1 day ago 3 replies      
People should check out WattVision. It's a little device that attaches to your electrical meter so you can monitor your electrical usage.

What I've found is that almost all of our home's electrical usage comes from heating (heaters, clothes dryers, and hot water).

Everything else is almost a rounding error. For example: I saw almost no change when we switched from incandescents to LED lighting (even in the summer when we're not heating the house) but I saw a large change with efficient shower heads and washing clothes on cold.

g8oz 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my experience thermal underwear (long johns) should be considered a must during winter. You don't have to live in a place like Canada or Minnesota to make them a standard part of your wardrobe.
XorNot 1 day ago 2 replies      
Looking at this as conventional power savings is wrong.

It's better to look at this as comfort. I just recently bought one of those 20 watt heat mats, for one specific reason: while using a computer it is impossible to keep my feet warm. Socks, boots, anything? Doesn't work. It was a huge problem while I was studying.

Since I got one, for 20 W, my feet are warm. In fact, my perception of room temperature as a whole has been massively improved. This is a lot less power usage then any type of whole room solution.

harmegido 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry, I'm sure this idea/post is valid, but damnit if this isn't exactly what the recent HBO show "Silicon Valley" lampooned in the finale.

I cannot stop laughing.

yxhuvud 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Good grief. If you live in a country that gets cold, learn to insulate your houses better.

Seriously, it is that simple.

/lives in a country where triple windows are standard for all new buildings intended for people.

redcap 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The bathroom is the one room in the house that is heated normally.

You can get heated toilet seats - they're quite common in Japan.One example: http://www.heatedtoiletseat.com

debrice 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well, not heating your house enough can also cost you your house as mold and ice can grow in very cold zone of your house. But I do like the ingenuity of the solution.

Shit Norwegians Say: Theres no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes

icantthinkofone 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You can eliminate the need for an electric blanket by just getting a down-filled blanket. In a normally heated house, I would actually sweat under one. You can buy them in a "half down" style, which would be cooler, but, if the point is to allow you to turn the heat down, down blankets are the perfect thing.
nkozyra 1 day ago 7 replies      
I live in Florida.

This entire discussion is bizarro world for me. It costs nearly $400 a month to keep my house at 74deg in the summer.

HelloMcFly 1 day ago 0 replies      
I take a more middle-of-the-road philosophy in my house, with primary reliance on space heaters for room-by-room heating. Why do I care if the kitchen is 72F at 2pm while I'm working at my desk in my office?
raverbashing 1 day ago 3 replies      

Most people want "summer inside the house" which is absurdly wasteful

Of course, it sucks when changing clothes or taking a shower, but there are ways of heating locally.

brusch64 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me a little bit of a company I've visited.

They cooled the office so much in the summer that some of the people in the office (I'd say 5 out of 20) used electric heaters under their desk to warm their feet.

willholloway 1 day ago 1 reply      
Energy is abundant, there is no need to shiver in the cold. Solar forced warm air is inexpensive, simple technology that is very underutilized.

Solar photovoltaics get all the attention, but solar warm air/water is less expensive and simple to manufacture.


mangecoeur 1 day ago 0 replies      
An interesting approach - though for contrast, a well built passivhaus or low exergy design can achieve similar savings or even net positive. At a cost, true, but at much greater convenience. I feel having to do this is basically admitting that our houses are terribly engineered. And yes, with this kind of system you get problems with damp and mold which can have some pretty serious health impacts.
voidlogic 1 day ago 2 replies      
>In June of 2010 I moved to a place in Montana with only electric heat.

Living that far north and depending on one heat source is crazy! Think about the power going out when its -30 out... or if you used gas, running out or having your furnace break down.

(Not to mention electric is usually the most expensive way to heat). Most houses where I live have 2 or 3 heat sources. I have wood, LP and electric...

ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
My cats are my micro-heaters. Zero extra power use in winter :-)
Swizec 1 day ago 7 replies      
This is where I really prefer the European model[1] - you heat the whole house with hot water. You make hot water with cheap natural gas. If you're lucky enough, you can even use geothermal.

Then you use insulation. This especially is something that feels nobody in the US has heard of. At least in California.

As a result, your radiators are turned down to 2 out of 10 all day (heating turns off automatically overnight), and you have to sometimes open a window when it's -13C outside so you don't sweat.

Now I don't know how much people spend on heating when they live in a house house, but my apartment's heating bill this winter was about 30 euro a month[2] and I had to keep all my radiators turned off because the one in the bathroom couldn't be regulated. So that alone was enough to heat everything to extremely comfortable levels.

tl;dr don't heat with air, insulate your fucking house, and install modern windows

[1] Could just be where I'm from, but it seems fairly common in Europe and not at all something I've seen in the US

[2] I think my gramps spends about 2k euro in October to pay for natural gas that heats his house until some time in April. So about 300/month for a ~10 bedroom house because he's got a house that's way too big.

p_eter_p 1 day ago 3 replies      
A similar approach works in hot climates. A friend of mine saved a substantial amount of money by getting an efficient portable AC unit for his bedroom, and shutting off the main air conditioner for the house at night. In a southern summer, the savings add up quick.
dmritard96 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a cool approach and actually there is some federal research money available for it. https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/ third one down)


We (http://www.flair.zone) were looking into grant funding and saw it. All I could think of was heated/air conditioned underwear lol.

smallegan 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I have often wondered why we don't all sleep in heated pods (bubbles). All of the wasted heat to keep houses warm at night drives me nuts.
bce 21 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar project is being done by the Senseable Cities Lab at MIT:

Local Warming: http://senseable.mit.edu/local-warming/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-6i6owLMQk

jmadsen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Very much the "philosophy" of heating here in Japan; heaters for single room, heavy futons on the bed with no heater, kotatsu, foot warmers, etc.

Comes from old, leaky wooden houses, but idea is the same. Lot of bad habits here still, but heating the upstairs guest bedroom all winter long isn't one of them

staunch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kotatsu tables really are great. Some pictures here if you haven't seen them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotatsu

Unfortunately even a cheap table in the U.S. is more expensive than it should be. There's an opportunity for someone to create kotatsu tables and things like them for the American market.

rrss1122 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Cut out the personal electric heaters and you save even more.

I just wear a sweater as my personal heater. Heater only comes on for visitors.

Donch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Number one link on Hacker News is an article stuffed full of Amazon affiliate links for personal heating products. Something isn't right.
cjensen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Given that he uses electric heating, it's pretty funny the electric company wanted him to switch to florescent. That buys you nothing in those months where the heater is on.

What I'd really like to know is: why not switch to gas?

sdhsdh 1 day ago 0 replies      
ChikkaChiChi 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Three ladies at my company campaigned heavily for those heated keyboards a few years ago. One shorted out within the first month and the other two stopped functioning within a year.
benjamincburns 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea of a heated keyboard is a little gross to me. Seems like it'd encourage bacteria growth.
nly 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just let my computers get dusty and run CPU intensive tasks.
lutorm 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is why changing out incandescents for CFL's in a heated house does almost nothing for saving energy... and if the heat comes from electricity, nothing for saving money, either.
vacri 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why not use the reptile heater instead of the incandescent globe? Having a light shining right in my face would end the experiment in minutes.
Lapsa 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Micro haters cut 87% off my electric heat bill
dharma1 21 hours ago 0 replies      
hot water bottles work pretty well. Probably more effective than constantly heating up air. Water is a good storage of heat
lukasm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what's the home efficiency.
moron4hire 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was a kid, we were rather poor. My parents scrounged together to buy a computer for the family, and I started to get interested in programming. But my parents were fearful I'd break their computer (not in a "don't be programmin'" way, but definitely in a "please be careful" way). And then a friend donated a computer to me. And I set it up in my bedroom. And I had my first comfortable winter in that house that year.

Of course, it made summers unbearable. But for the most part, I was used to heat.

neves 1 day ago 0 replies      
You just can't go the bathroom.
seamusabshere 22 hours ago 0 replies      
best. hn. ever.
jeffjia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's just have Nest...
jondiggsit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just install radiant heat everywhere in your house ya cheap bastard
jebblue 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I was really caught up in this story and the effort involved until ... "I wonder if these techniques caught on, could this reduce or eliminate US war for oil?" and then "If I wrote this article 20 years ago might we have never gone to war with Iraq?".

Iraq was _not_, repeat, NOT, N O T, about oil. Iraq was about stability, about a nut case leader who terrorized and killed his own people, who let his sons terrorize people. It was about all the terrorists caught who had evaded worldwide, WORLDWIDE authorities for decades in many cases, found hiding out in ... Iraq.

Hussein disregarded Bush elder, Clinton and Bush junior, covering 3 US Presidencies, both major US political parties. He shot missiles at the very ally planes charged with making him keep his army at bay.

He plotted to kill the very US President (Bush elder) who forced him to back out of Kuwait:


What was your best passive income in 2014?
297 points by ericthegoodking  1 day ago   437 comments top 111
gmays 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Residential real estate. I bought a few short sale condos here in San Diego from 2010 to 2012 at 1/3 their values from a couple years earlier and hired a property manager.

Now I get about 1.5% their purchase price gross in rental income every month. After buying them and fixing them up the majority of the work I do on them is at tax time (still do taxes myself to stay in the loop). HOA and property management fees eat into it a bit, but it's not a bad haul. In addition to the cash flow, they've all appreciated from 20%-50% in the last couple years.

These days dividends from Apple stock (not bad for a tech company) and some other investments are doing better, though not even close to as well as the real estate.

The key is often to save up enough money to be able to take advantage of opportunities. For example, we just decided last week that we're moving to Florida. We were planning to rent, but we found a 3BR condo in a high-rise gated community on a golf course about 1mi from the beach for around $300,000 that went for $800,000 before the financial crisis. Luckily, we had the cash to be able to capitalize on the opportunity. I assume the property value will at least double in the next 5 years. Even if it doesn't, if we had to rent it out tomorrow we could break even on what we pay for the mortgage + HOA fees with rent.

It's risker than other endeavors, but investing in residential real estate like this is the best kind of investment I've found for my risk profile with the amount of money I'm willing to invest.

The hard part is getting together the initial capital to do so. I started working full time at 21 and it took me until around 25 to be able to make my first investment saving most of my modest income during that time.

euroclydon 1 day ago 6 replies      
Here are the all time sales figures for http://www.makecupcakewrappers.com

They've been pretty bad the last few months. I think it's because the server was overloaded and response times were getting really bad. It was running on a GoDaddy $70/mo VPS with IIS, SqlServer. But that server was also hosting an Umbraco site and a WordPress blog. The PHP process was taking up 99% CPU nearly all the time.

Now I have it running independently on a GoDaddy VPS and all the static resources are on Amazon CloudFront. It is much faster.

My wife says the designs we have are out of date and we need to make some newer designs. This involves going to Target, looking at the greeting cards, place mats, napkins, and other nick-hacks to get ideas. Also, Pinterest is great for design ideas! Then, opening up InkScape or a D3 console and creating SVG color-in templates in the site's specific format.

   +-----------+--------+   | Mon (desc)| Sales  |   +-----------+--------+   | July      | 128.70 |   | June      | 227.45 |   | May       | 124.65 |   | April     | 301.50 |   | March     | 274.40 |   | February  | 287.35 |   | January   | 415.25 |   | December  | 128.70 |   | November  | 175.65 |   | October   | 188.60 |   | September | 132.75 |   | August    | 330.25 |   | July      | 343.20 |   | June      | 297.45 |   | May       | 505.90 |   | April     | 351.30 |   | March     | 484.05 |   | February  | 188.60 |   | January   | 248.50 |   | December  | 38.85  |   | November  | 155.40 |   | October   | 89.85  |   | September | 209.65 |   | August    | 179.70 |   | July      | 299.50 |   | June      | 329.45 |   | May       | 229.50 |   | April     | 279.45 |   | March     | 419.15 |   | February  | 249.45 |   | January   | 149.70 |   | December  | 119.75 |   | November  | 199.60 |   | October   | 109.75 |   | September | 99.80  |   | August    | 99.80  |   | July      | 70.80  |   | June      | 25.90  |   | May       | 25.90  |   | April     | 38.85  |   | March     | 0.01   |   +-----------+--------+

jawns 1 day ago 5 replies      
I am the author of two books: "Experimenting With Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid" (http://www.experimentingwithbabies.com), which came out in October, and "Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things" (http://www.correlated.org), which came out earlier this month.

One thing I didn't realize when I started pitching the first book was that there would be "passive income" in addition to the book advance and royalties.

For instance, I've had three foreign-rights deals for "Experimenting With Babies," and the only additional work I had to do was put my signature on some paperwork.

And I have Amazon referral links on both websites, pointing to each book on Amazon. Those links generate a monthly average of about $40 in commissions per month, although my monthly high has been as much as $630.

jasonkester 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's been a while since I shared my S3stat [1] numbers. I prefer to talk in vague handwavy terms rather than concrete numbers, but this should give a picture of the trajectory:

6 months: Regularly covering server expenses (which were ~$50-100/month at that point).

18 months: Would have paid for me to live nicely on the beach in Thailand.

30 months: Would cover my rent (and nothing else) at a nice apartment in a major city.

40 months: Passed the monthly take-home pay from my first (non-software) Engineering job out of college.

60 months: About what I'd have been making had I stuck with that first job out of college for 10 years.

80 months: Roughly a Senior Dev salary anywhere but the Bay Area.

As I noted a few years back for the first version of this list, this is for a SaaS subscription product that I built with the explicit goal of having a low-level income stream that I didn't have to put much time into. Early on, there were periods where I worked 80 hours or more per month to get the infrastructure ticking away to my satisfaction. These days, it requires maybe six hours of my attention each month.

This year, though, I've been back to full speed (meaning high single digit hours per week) building out and releasing a bunch of new features.

[1] https://www.s3stat.com/

TylerJewell 1 day ago 1 reply      
I may have written about this before, so apologies if this is repetitive. In 2010ish, I had gotten fairly sick due to a metal poisoning. The biggest issue was that it was messing with my cognitive abilities and that made me fearful of not being able to work and earn an income at the standard of living I had become accustomed to.

I quickly recovered, but became obsessed with finding a way to live - indefinitely - off of the savings that I had accumulated in my 20 year software career at that point. I had chosen a path around increasing responsibilities of management as opposed to startup founder (though I am one now). And I had diligently saved money, but didn't have not-work-anymore money.

I looked for a way to generate 20% returns reliably on my money, requiring little effort, manageable risk, and - mostly - passive. The stock market proved to be an answer. I ended up developing a couple of theories about how markets behave, generated some derivative trading algorithms and have been investing 100% of my spare cash since. The mini hedge fund requires activity once / week (generally) towards the end of the week, and also has two nice benefits of mostly getting taxed at long term cap gain rates along with being in all cash (fully liquid) with more core funds every weekend.

For this year, the algorithms have produced a return of 14.11% YTD. Since beginning the algorithms, they have averaged a yearly return of 24% compounded. I have traded these algorithms in a normal trading account and in an IRA, though the IRA returns are a bit lower around 20%. When the market has a flat year, vs. an up year, the algorithm is likely to perform closer to 30%. Down years that drop less than 10% will return closer to 30% as well. Up markets return lower.

I publish a white paper on this, and happy to share with anyone interested. It's a few quarters out of date, but the essence is all there. You can email me tylerjewell [at] gmail dot com for the paper.

For those that are curious, the algorithms depend upon a few assumptions:- The market has never crashed "up" - they only crash down. - As a result, the market climbs upward very orderly, but moves down very disorderly.- Time is infinite.- There is always volatility.

When you start with those assumptions, and then you apply maximum leverage (with safety nets for blue moon crashes with a max 35% loss), then you can start to derive algorithms that achieve the results expected, by using your money as an insurance provider to others in the market place by selling derivatives.

FWIW - when I started playing with the concept of the algorithms, I did not think it would be possible to achieve these results. So am quite pleased that it's possible to do so. Also, it's very easy to down dial the algorithms to be 1/2 the risk and get about 1/2 of the returns as well.

vilius 1 day ago 6 replies      
$5k per month for 18 months in a row.

Made a portfolio website for my girlfriend. Got positive feedback, refactored into Wordpress theme and published on ThemeForest. Not 100% passive as I spend 3-4 hours per week for answering support emails.

ThemeForest is a perfect place for passive income if you are a website developer. At first it challenges your skills as you need to create the concept, design it and code it. Then it challenges your business, marketing and support skills. You become a one man factory and learn a lot.

dpcx 1 day ago 4 replies      
Dividends on stocks.

I've never had an idea good enough to make an app out of, or build a company around. So instead, I started investing a small amount of my paycheck in to my brokerage account. Buying lots of stock in Dividend Kings[1], I've earned $25 this year, with another $20 through October. It's not a lot, but I'm fully thinking long-term.

1: http://long-term-investments.blogspot.com/2013/02/15-Best-Di...

parfe 1 day ago 4 replies      
Bought a house 12 months ago which included a great tenant. Rent checks showed up early every month for the last year. So far the house has been such little work I sometimes feel confused then surprised by his hand written envelopes addressed to me in the mailbox.
iD3 1 day ago 1 reply      
I purchased, gutted and renovated a 1 bed flat in the city 4 years ago. It's gained about $7,000 a month every month for the last 3 years, plus saving about $3,000 in rent. Not exactly 'income' but most certainly passive, and I do plan to sell out when I feel prices are aproaching a peak and move out the city so will yeild then. Neighbouring flats usually sell within 7 days of going to market.
dusing 1 day ago 3 replies      
My business partner and I started Snow in Seconds (http://snowinseconds.com) on the side, 6 years ago. It is a powder thats been around for decades (used in diapers) but when you get it at just the right grain size it looks, and feels like snow when water is added. We found a good source, designed a professional looking brand, made a TV spot (kinda), bought some search ads, and boom, predictable income.

Sales are online only (have not pursued wholesale yet) and is enough to live off of if all else fails. After 6 years we are have about $600K in total sales.

glxybstr 1 day ago 2 replies      
In August 2013 I released a very simple web app called Space Email - where users send out messages and read messages others have sent, totally anonymously. It had too much volume for what was built on a very poorly designed backend, and with no reporting/flagging system it had to be taken down. This past June I re-launched it on a better platform. This time users could pay a dollar or more to sign up for an account where they get a few extra nifty features.

The first week I made $1200, the last month I made around $450. Things have been slowing down with some personal things going on, so it's been mostly passive as of late. When I launched I had some real speed issues and a lot of optimizing to do, which was incredibly nervewracking as it's my first web app built on PHP and the first project I did that uses a database.

edit: forgot the link: http://space.galaxybuster.net/

rachelandrew 1 day ago 2 replies      
I keep meaning to write up complete figures but I launched my self-published ebook The Profitable Side Project Handbook in January http://rachelandrew.co.uk/books/the-profitable-side-project

Sales from that are well over 10K USD at this point. A lot of that was over the launch week, I've not had a huge amount of time to devote to marketing it over the last couple of months as our main business (which was a side project until it took off) has kept me busy, so it really is passive income at this point.

stupejr 1 day ago 3 replies      
Very proud of this, my first passive income ever: developed an add-on for a popular video game and it's been making me $60/mo.

edit: to mention that it bounces around between $1.50 a day to $2.50 a day based on usage

TamDenholm 1 day ago 2 replies      
Its not yet passive because i choose to spend most of my time on it to make it better, but i bought a cleaning business 10 months ago. I recently took a consulting contract for some additional money for expansion and it does run by itself (in the capable hands of my biz manager), however there are more optimisations i wish to make to it. Its the hardest thing i've ever done, but its at a stage where if i wanted to, i could simply take any time i wanted off and all i'd need to do is spend 15 mins a week entering payroll.

I've written about it before, if you want to look through my history.

easyname 1 day ago 7 replies      
I had a motorcycle which I had bought for 126K INR. I was not using it much except to commute from home to office. I was going to sell the bike, then suddenly this idea clicked. It took few hours to make and host indiarider.com(people can take the bike on rent). Its been two months now, I have made 15K till now, 7K last week.
dangrossman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) has more than doubled in customers and revenue since the last post, when it had recently broken 5-figure MRR. It could easily support salaries for a small staff at this point, but I still run it myself from home. I try to push out a set of new features every 1-2 months, and have to answer an e-mail on occasion to help out a new user, but otherwise it's very hands-off as a business. I don't do any outbound sales or anything else high-touch.

W3Counter (https://www.w3counter.com) meanwhile generates less than 10% that revenue from 100x the users. They're really similar services fundamentally, but worked out very different. W3Counter ends up being used by hobbyists that want to see vanity metrics like page view counts going up, most of which will not pay for analytics, while companies eagerly pay for Improvely as a profit multiplier for their online marketing.

Aside from those sites, not much has changed. I have a few e-commerce stores that essentially run themselves as passive income, and a steady stream of commissions from various business referrals I made years ago.

baudehlo 1 day ago 4 replies      
I started EmailItIn[1] to allow people to email files to Google Drive, then added DropBox and SkyDrive/OneDrive support. Premium accounts bring in about $200/m right now, and it's steadily rising.

Support is low - though it took a while to build the initial technology. I get a lot of traction from realtors and lawyers. I've tried paid advertising but the conversions are too low to make it worth it.

Initial goal was "vacation money", and it's currently on track to hit that level next year.

1: https://emailitin.com/

jadc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a few rentals properties which each brings in around $300/month after all expenses (including property management so I don't have to do anything). Each property price is around 56-60k so if you get a mortgage you only need to put down around 20% of that. It's a pretty good ROI of ~30%.

Email in my profile if you are interested in details.

mjwhansen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Geocodio (http://geocod.io) is adding 5-10 new users a day and monthly revenue has gone from <$100 to >$1,000 in just over six months. It's a self-serve product (geocoding US addresses via API or CSV upload), though there is a fair amount of support and continuing development.

I've posted this before, but I wrote up some thoughts about things I've learned about launching a side project here that you might find helpful: https://medium.com/@mjwhansen/things-ive-learned-launching-a...

mythril 1 day ago 2 replies      
iPad port of a 5 year old game of mine (which previously already paid for itself about 9 times over in its PC and Mac versions) was released a few months ago.

Didn't expect much but amazingly it pulls in consistently $70-$110 a day (about $2,500 a month) for a few months now (not counting the initial release spike).

Game is free to download with 1 In-App-Purchase that unlocks the full game.

Thinking of doing an iPhone version soon which will be a bit more involved than a straight port due to the small screen size and different screen aspect ratio, but I'm currently convinced it will be worth it since the genre actually usually does better on iphone than ipad.

Just wanted to add this to counter all the doom & gloom posts about iOS games not doing well. If you have a great and unique product for a good target market with good retention and monetization, then you can still do very well without too much marketing.

(I actually run ads with about $4 daily budget. Not sure if it actually helps, but I think it does.)

gaeappthrowaway 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have an AppEngine app that brings in $7k/mo with very little work, with about $2k/mo in server costs. Roughly 50 users paying between $30/mo and $500/mo

There's about 10 minutes of support work per day, but besides corporate customers occasionally needing some phone salesmanship and some manual tweaking, everything else is automated.

somebodysomeone 1 day ago 5 replies      
I built an information website (not USA) that now pulls in roughly $8800 a month via adsense. To get to that figure takes about 500k user sessions/month (lots of long tail traffic). Runs on a single medium website instance in Azure, takes about an hour a day in maintenance and monitoring for malicious traffic like scraping that can be a problem for info sites (I've mostly automated this).

The initial time outlay was quite large, but it was always approached from the point of view of generating a lot traffic to get the payback.

Won't share the link as it's a competitive niche.

PawelDecowski 1 day ago 2 replies      
55 in just over a year from ads on http://jquerycreditcardvalidator.com

Not a lot but its something. And I built the validator without even thinking about monetizing so its quite nice to get rewarded with some pocket money.

Its not 100% passive, as I do spend a little time maintaining it and adding new features, but what income is 100% passive?

fookyong 1 day ago 1 reply      
$1000 a month on book sales.

I was surprised since I'm a software guy I didn't write the book to make money, I just did it for something to do.

Although my software business makes much more money, I was surprised at how truly "zero maintenance" book sales are. My software I'm constantly fixing, tweaking and improving (which I enjoy). The book is just "out there" and is priced at $30 per copy. I sell > 1 per day.

The book: http://www.growthhackinghandbook.com

Cthulhu_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
About $30 a month off of AdWords for a fansite I run; it covers about 2/3rds (if that) of the server costs, so I'm content with that. I could earn more if I placed more ads, better ads, worked actively on the site / promoted it, but it's a fansite, and I think it'd be unfair for the people that actually spend obsessive hours writing content for it - if I were to make big money off of it, or would sell it (it's probably worth a few thousand due to content + google rankings), I'd have a massive headache and drama trying to distribute said money.

Effort is relatively low, a few weeks of on and off work to get it online, styling, moving servers a couple of times, etc. I need to move servers again I think, or at least upgrade all the software, it's kinda wonky for some people at times.

dotnetkow 1 day ago 2 replies      
$2-5k per month (after Apple's cut) from my Fitbit mobile app, Fitwatchr: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fitwatchr/id684005201?mt=8&i.... The unique value is Fitbit activity conversion to Weight Watchers points as well as a tougher but more rewarding calorie tracking that is based on real science (Mifflin equation). Effort on my part really depends on me/my current schedule as it's a side project. I admittedly have some bad reviews that boil down to getting users to understand how the calorie tracking works. Using Freshdesk (love it!) to answer 1-2 emails per day. It'll be 1 year working on this next month.
bengarvey 1 day ago 4 replies      
About $50-$100/month on http://kidsdungeonadventure.com a role playing game for pre-school age kids.
BryanBigs 1 day ago 2 replies      
$1000/month from adsense on my free background picture (no attribution required, use it for whatever you want) website. Kinda looks like crap, but I'm afraid to touch it because it's such a steady-eddy producer. I add a picture every month or two, and get <10% of my traffic from direct search. Has so many links from Uni's and articles on where to find free stock photos that traffic just rolls on it.
marktangotango 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a house my sister and her partner rent. Some may say never do business with family, but we've been doing it for a few years now, and they've never missed a payment. I pay down about $1k every 4 months in principal.
vlucas 1 day ago 3 replies      
I created http://jscompress.com/ several years ago as a simple online JavaScript compression tool that can also combine multiple files into a single output (and guarantees they will be compressed in the order input).

It's been making around $200-300 per month for several years, and this year has jumped up to $300-500 per month. This is only from Google Adsense: http://cl.ly/WobJ - I also always get a nice holiday spike in traffic and revenues, even though there is nothing seasonal about compressing some JavaScript.

It's zero maintenance, and sometimes I even forget about it. I spend maybe 1-2 hours updating the website to a new Uglify.js version per year. It's a simple single file node.js app hosted for free on Heroku.

bradly 1 day ago 3 replies      
A bought a vacation rental in Hawaii this January. It has been very nice. Purchase price was 510k. It rents for $260-$400 a night and has 90% occupancy rate. I can share more details for those interested.
ryanfelton 1 day ago 3 replies      
I built an niche e-commerce marketplace called http://doleaf.com.

Independent Nurseries and Garden Centers (the sellers) sign up and can instantly upload their items for sale directly to customers expanding their sales region of their niche products from just their neighbored to the entire USA. Since its niche customers who are looking for specific items customers find the site fairly easy through search.

The site is now doing about $2,000 total revenue per month. I'm taking a proportion of each sale. For now, I'm mostly covering cost, but hoping to work on some automated marketing tools to increase revenue.

As others have mentioned, my best performing referrers in terms of sales completed are often Forums (as opposed to AdWords, organic search etc).

The site does marketing via emails and some top products Google Ad Words, Facebook, and hopefully Titter soon. I'm using Google Analytics with the e-commerce plugin to build Adwords remarketing campaigns and plan to do Facebook rmarketing campaigns soon.

It's not totally passive as there's some support request, but I'm hoping to bring on an on-demand virtual assistant for support requests as discussed by the Internet Business Mastery guys: http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/ibm-218-work-less-mak...

chrissyb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I ran my own team as a non-dev and built http://drawvault.com - Took a bank loan to fund it, and ran out of money on the final straight.

I really was hoping to be earning a meagre passive income by now, but i'm searching for a second job.

Lesson learned!

MobileAppVault 1 day ago 1 reply      
Built an iPhone app which is still featured by Apple in the new selfie category. 90$/mo with no marketing costs. :) The app called Picr.https://itunes.apple.com/app/picr-everyday-photo-reminder/id...
patio11 1 day ago 3 replies      
Bingo Card Creator is still plugging along, though both down from previous years and an increasingly small portion of my business. I spend under 20 minutes a month on it on about 2 to 5 issues which make it past T1 support.

As for numbers: http://www.bingocardcreator.com/stats/sales-by-month Historically, multiplying by 60% usually gets a good approximation for profits.

ivan_ah 1 day ago 2 replies      
My math textbooks [1,2] generated over $20k since 2013. The sales are split between print and pdf sales. It's definitely motivation enough for me to continue as is, but I'm scaling the business further with better distribution.

Books are not dead. I believe there is a great opportunity for specialist to "distill information" in their field and offer it to others as books. People don't pay for the content (which can be found on the Internet) but for the analysis and the curation of this content.

It's not "easy money" because writing and editing a book takes years of sustained effort, but if you're an expert in X, you already spend your days explaining X so writing down your explanations won't be //that// tough.

[1] noBS guide to Math and Phys: http://minireference.com/[2] https://gum.co/noBSLA

PS: Anyone interested in writing a book about Chemistry and/or Biology? Get in touch with me so we can combine forces and take over the UGRAD textbook market!

KurtElster 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my best month, I did $3.3K in AdSense.

No idea is stupid if you can monetize it.

To explore projects outside of clients demands, we began a Labs initiative in March 2012. Think of it as a palate cleanser between client work. It's resulted in about ten completed projects. The formula is pretty simple. Find a problem, build a website to solve it. If it can be done in an afternoon, we don't even think about it. We just do it.

Of the ten sites we've built in the last year, the most popular are: RainyCafe, CalmingManatee, Is this Retina?, and Will there be mail today?

Getting traffic is a pretty straight forward process. Submit the site to blogs in relevant niches. In the case of RainyCafe, we submitted it as a tip to Lifehacker who posted it the next day. Once you've got a major blog exposure like that, having frictionless sharing (in the form of social media buttons) is enough to keep it going. However, this assumes the content is compelling enough to share to begin with.

Sometimes doing that much isn't even necessary. CalmingManatee was different. We tweeted it once, and about a week later it was everywhere. A million visits in the first month everywhere. We received requests for interviews from NPR, Huffington Post, and some other random blogs as a results.

The success of these afternoon projects was a pleasant surprise, and the free publicity was welcome, but what would be even better is some extra revenue. As freelancers, having recurring revenue is critical to building our business.

Our first attempt at monetization was to sell Manatee greeting cards through Zazzle. After six months, we sold so few that we couldn't meet the the threshold to get paid out. Fail.

We switched to donations. Using WePay, we allowed people to donate via three suggested donation levels. That netted about $100/mo. Better but not great. We had to reconcile dozens of micro-transactions in Quickbooks which, when you factor the time, made it a net loss. Fail again.

Then we tried making a RainyCafe iOS app that we planned to sell for $1. Apple rejected it because they found that our Rainy Cafe app provides "a very limited amount of content and a very limited set of features" specifically because it "only contains two ambient noises." Strike three.

Finally, I got off my high horse and switched to AdSense.Not only did we hit out of the park with AdSense, but it was the easiest of our four monetization attempts to implement. I wish I'd done it sooner.

Lesson learned: Simple is great. Ever since CalmingManatee, if someone in the office has an idea that can be implemented in less than an afternoon, we don't even debate it, we just implement it, put AdSense on it, and see what happens. Some work, some don't. At the very least, we always learn something from it.

solomania9 1 day ago 0 replies      
I created a website where you can pay per character using bitcoin: http://bitcoinmegaphone.com

On average it generates around $1 per day (in Bitcoin, of course :-)

cityzen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote an ExpressionEngine Add-on called Detour Pro that sells for $22 ($17.60 after the site I sell it on takes their cut). I released it back in February of 2012 and to date I've made about $15k, this year alone $4k to date.
asteiger 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Last year I made a wine cataloging app for iOS based personal gripes that I had with all the others out there. I just wanted something incredibly simple, and all the others were ugly and complicated.

I was inspired by the 7 minute workout app posted here, and set aside 8 hours to build the whole thing. All told I ended up spending about 40 hours on it and haven't really touched it since.

I started selling it at $.99, but sales were slow and I wasn't really making anything at all off it. So I raised the price 5x to $4.99 and sales didn't really change much. Now it brings me in about $50-150 / month that I use as extra cash toward paying off my student loans.

bnycum 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last September I put Amazon Affiliate codes on links in a somewhat popular post about setting up a Raspberry Pi to open my garage. I know I'm not suppose to divulge exact numbers, but lets just say I've bought games, books, toys, and a PS4 so far with my earnings. On around ~1,000 visitors a month. I wish I had it setup when that post got a ton of traffic from reddit.
gavinballard 1 day ago 1 reply      
I make about $200/m in affiliate revenue from Shopify (http://www.shopify.com/?ref=disco) <= Yes, that's an affiliate link.
chrisa 1 day ago 1 reply      
$500/month from "Play Piano HD" iPad app: http://mobilesort.com/play_piano.html I built it two years ago, and have only had to do minor bug fixes to keep it up to date. It stays on the top iPad music charts in at least a couple of countries, so it does ok without any marketing.
fabiendem 1 day ago 3 replies      
Not proud of it, but around $500/mo thanks to 3 white label dating websites. Easy money, no maintenance needed for 2 years now...Could make much more with some time invested in it!
jaymzcampbell 1 day ago 0 replies      
My best month was around 120 (in February 2014) (~$200) through Amazon affiliate links & Admob. All within a very simple shopping app 'designed' for android 2.1 back in the day and updated just once in 2 years. I've since pulled it due to changes upstream breaking data so it became useless, I didn't find the time to really fix everything.

I have just launched (like a few days ago) http://photobrix.com - but that is yet to bring in a penny from the limited adverts - I'm likely going to add a higher end/more featureful interface to generate instructions that people will spend $3 - 5 or so on. Additionally I'm aiming on allowing users to order their own prints (rather than deal with the hassle of individual bricks).

stevoski 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have an app in the Mac App Store. It is a simple app, I do no work on it, receive no support emails, it has been there for three years, and I get around 50 Euros per month.
rphlx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
An undisclosed amount, mining an undisclosed (but top-50) cryptocurrency, with an undisclosed (but legal) technology.

Mining is so rediculously hyper-competitive that I hope you'll understand the lack-of-detail. You learn to keep your mouth shut, head down, and just hope that you'll remain marginally profitable after the next difficulty adjustment.

polimux 1 day ago 1 reply      
About 500 a month with automated soccer bets. It's 100% passive but it' still a gamble. So it coud be over in a day with some bad luck ...
gtheme 1 day ago 1 reply      
My passive income, Ghost Theme marketplace http://www.gtheme.io/ Revenue around 100 USD per month. Running for half year need more marketing for better revenue. Ghost blog is the next big thing in blogging space.
v512 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get it around $200 per month (overall about $2500 till date) through my WordPress Genesis child Theme which I spent designing hardly 2-3 days.
jaymzcampbell 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's awesome and inspiring. I have similar fears about any sort of jump in terms of 'working for yourself' so have always moved from job to job rather than even go contracting. I think your stack is very sensible - whatever works, isn't it - it's easy to become sidetracked thinking everything must be shiny & new or custom built. Really well done!
michaelbuckbee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I built a Heroku add-on that handles the purchase and installation much more quickly and safely than they could do manually (about 80% of our customers get SSL installed on their sites in less than 5 minutes).


It's been more challenging to get going than I anticipated as it's a significant upfront cash investment to get good cert reseller terms.

habosa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Made an Android Snapchat client called SnapHack. It allowed you to download Snaps and send pictures from your Gallery, pretty much the only features people would want to add to Snapchat.

Powered it with an IAP to add 'My Story' support and small banner ads at the bottom of the screen. The app got about 2,500-3,500 downloads a day up to a total of 165,000 downloads. When searching for 'Snapchat' on Google play it was the 2nd or 3rd result. IAP brought in about $25 a day (after 30% removed) and the ads peaked at about $70 a day, so total was between $90 and $100 a day when things were good.

Didn't last long though, took a while to get to that daily amount and Google/Snapchat removed it from the store after the 3rd month of availability. So total was a few thousand. Still a very, very good result but not full-time income.

Side note: Java library that I made for interacting with Snapchat API hosted on GitHub (https://github.com/hatboysam/SnapHack). Contributions are welcome and it supports even all of the new Snapchat features like messaging. Feel free to recreate SnapHack!

bvogelzang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I make an average of $70/day on my app in the Mac App Store called HD Cleaner. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hd-cleaner/id836769549?mt=12. I wish I had more time to invest in making more apps like this one. I've been really surprised by how well the app has done with little to no marketing.
jhwhite 1 day ago 0 replies      
Other than stocks and mutual funds I've only got one source of passive income.

I made a Pathfinder Ability Score Calculator last year and it got picked up by d20. There's an ad on it so I get revenue from it. Right now only about $40-50/month but it's been steadily increasing since I put it up a year ago.

A friend was going to sell me his hosting business but that fell through. That would have added about $100/month.

eignerchris_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I built docklister.com in 4 months during my spare time. I started approximately 24 months ago and have a single customer that covers the hosting costs (~80/mo). I just got back from a 30 day honeymoon; anxious to get back into the flow!

Marketplaces are hard to bootstrap. For the last 6 months I've been trying to grow pageviews and leads by doing low-touch marketing experiments: post listings to Boating and Yachting FB groups, asking for feedback in /r/sailing (lots of great feedback and pageviews), replying to craigslist ads for boats suggesting they list on docklister.

I have a several great blog ideas and I have a newsletter with approximately 45 people that I plan to start actively emailing content to.

Currently doing ~100 pageviews/day.

edit: forgot active link - https://www.docklister.com/

galfarragem 1 day ago 0 replies      
40-80/month (depends on the season - college holidays are bad seasons) with adsense and amazon affiliates.

It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 3 hours monthly, so it is not exactly passive..). It's a niche blog about architectural models: http://archimodels.info that I started as a hobby to learn about web development. I know that I'm near the bottom in the hierarchy of passive income but anyway I'm leaving my 2 cents. Tips:

- Good content is better than SEO, but you only pick the fruits 1-2 years later as your work compounds. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.

- Adsense is (and probably will always be) ugly but is the fastest way to monetize a blog. I was making 15/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have a text intensive blog go for image ads and vice versa.

m-i-l 1 day ago 1 reply      
Where I live (or have lived). Aim to get other people to pay for my mortgages. Started out by renting out a spare room, then moved and rented out the whole property, then moved again and rented out both properties. When I started out the rent was around GBP300 per month and the mortgage peaked at GBP450 per month (interest rates were unusually high at the time), and now (after many years) two lots of rental income total approx GBP2700 per month after fees and three mortgages total approx GBP1800 per month (although interest rates are unusually low at the moment). Calling it passive as I've never bought a propery as an investment, just a place to live. Not entirely passive though as there can be a bit of work when there are problems with tenants. I reckon the hassle factor is worth the free accommodation though, given how large a chunk of people's income accommodation usually is.
aroch 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Administrating" a few servers that are rented out (ie, running apt-get every week and fixing the occasional symlink the tenants break).

-$2000/m in power/space/bandwidth in costs

+$4000/m in fees

Banking a little under ~$1700 after I account for taxes for what amounts to an hour of effort a month.

clarky07 1 day ago 1 reply      
So far this year I've made ~33k on my iPhone apps. I'm actively working on new apps and doing freelance work, and every once in awhile things need updated, but for the most part it's passive. I have > 20 apps at this point, the best one doing ~7500 so far this year.


seestheday 1 day ago 0 replies      
No Revenue for me yet, but I've been inspired by patio11 and Amy Hoy to build a product. I'm starting very small with a premium wordpress plugin focused on food bloggers.

Progress has been slower than I'd hoped due to personal distractions.

My plan is to spend equal parts on marketing and development. I have released a free version of the plugin in order to get it listed on the wordpress repository and to start seeding my mailing list. So far I have 20 people that signed up for "product updates and early release pricing".

opless 1 day ago 0 replies      
A friend wanted a glockenspiel app for their daughter, so I took his thrown together html demo and coded a unity3d app and made it free. http://www.simonwaite.com/apps/glockenspiel

After a little bit of feedback about "making the keys bigger" I threw together a paid for app http://www.simonwaite.com/apps/glockenspiel-plus which brought in 2.50 from the android store last month which I was deliriously happy about.

The free one has about 10-20 downloads a day on iOS and 80-130 a day on android.

searine 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wrote a Fiction Novel.

Still in the red, but I've handed out about 10,000 free copies...

dsizemore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I make $200+ with Adsense and BuySellAds from http://www.logogala.com.

It's been online for around eight years or so now. I typically work on it maybe 15-20 minutes a night or every other night uploading new designs that have been submitted.

Currently planning to re-develop it and make it so designers can sign up and manage their own profile and designs but I'm a little afraid to touch it and end up losing all of the little bit of money I'm currently making.

tjsix 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not entirely passive due to a small amount of support emails each month, but bringing in roughly $1600-$2500/mo (slower in summer) for niche WordPress themes. That's with virtually no marketing or advertising other than a $5/day adwords budget.
fsethi 1 day ago 0 replies      
My social game (for the last 3 consecutive months) has brought in about $8000 - $10,000 a month. Pretty consistently averaging about $300 a day. Generally spend about 4 hours a month on it total. To note: The developer I work with spends much more time on it than I do; but it is not a focus / priority for either of us. It took about 18 months to get it to this point. It probably got to break even in roughly 5-6 months.
stevenwilkin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The last few years I've been building up a portfolio of dividend paying shares. In the previous 12 months dividend payouts have totalled GBP 2488.31. There has also been some capital growth.

The portfolio is inside a SIPP (self-invested pension) and the funds funnelled into it have been the profits from my contracting business which would have been liable to higher-rate income tax here in the UK.

Keeping money from the taxman which then makes me more money is great, shame I can't access any of it until 2040 ;)

goofygrin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sold some Microsoft office365 to a handful of clients. Averaging 1200/month.
drpgq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been experimenting with Adsense on blogger for years. I had some ideas that the company I work for could put on the web and wanted to work with Adsense so I just started with a blog about my local sports team.

Eventually I made another blog about local and regional politics and analyzed and repackaged some government data as a whole series of posts that proved slightly popular. Now I'm up to around $1000 per year.

I'm working slowly at making a few sites based on the data I've already done and some new data.

lessmilk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote an ebook on how to make games in HTML5 with the Phaser framework. It's been out for a month now, and it has made me over $16,000 in sales. I keep making a couple hundred dollars per day with it.

Link to the book: http://www.discoverphaser.com

More sales number: http://blog.lessmilk.com/ebook-sales/

bernatfp 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not much at the moment:

Profits realized from a very long term Bitcoin investment: 10000$

Bitcoin miner: 600$ (profits) so far.

Now I'm covering the costs of running my own SaaS [1] with these profits to create a more sustainable business (I've lost confidence in Bitcoin from an investment standpoint). At this moment my SaaS has 2 trial users but no paying customers.

[1] https://calloud.com

someotheridiot 19 hours ago 0 replies      
$2500 for Dec/2013 (close enough to 2014) http://rebrickable.com - reuse your LEGO pieces to build other cool stuff. Not exactly passive yet, but maybe one day.
waterside81 1 day ago 1 reply      
Personalized kids books for the iPad:


We're completely revamping the app because it's very hard to be noticed when all your books are in one app, so we're splitting the app into individual books. But this "library" app does quite well.

markrickert 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a plethora of niche-based iOS apps for skydivers, beer enthusiasts, and people in direct sales. Bring in about 1-2k a month, but I actively maintain about half of the apps and am actively developing new apps.

Since January, I've netted roughly $13,000 after Apple's 30% cut. I also make income through Apple's affiliate links that are automatically applied to my apps on my website - http://mohawkapps.com

clarky07 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've made a few thousand on an ebook about my app business. Not as much as I make on the apps, but it is 100% passive as opposed to mostly passive.


anonu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wrote a basic strategy to sell call spreads and put spreads on various index ETFs. I only sell near-dated stuff <1 week expirations to avoid paying too much theta. A fairly consistent trading strategy can easily gross >50% returns on your capital. Not exactly "passive" - but with enough tweaks to the strategy you can get this to run with fairly minimal input time.
vbsteven 1 day ago 0 replies      
I currently earn about $1000/month after Googles 30% cut with an Android app that syncs with OmniFocus. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.quantus.app...).I'm still improving the app in my spare time so it's not completely passive yet.
dpweb 1 day ago 3 replies      
Websites. Totally autopilot. Only $300/mo. so its nothing compared to my regular income/job, but its a car payment - and it does beat working.
hughes 1 day ago 1 reply      
A good mix of ETF funds from Vanguard Canada. It has been a very good year for equities, and all I had to do was literally not touch what I had bought.
raelmiu 1 day ago 1 reply      
I build small web apps, like http://blankpage.io/Since the last thread on this I've cut my costs from $200 a month to about $5 a month, but it took months to rewrite the backend to do that.So still losing more than I'm making.
senko 1 day ago 0 replies      
Embeddable shared whiteboard (jQuery plugin + backend service): https://awwapp.com/plugin/

Around $500/mo at the moment, with very little marketing and sales effort. Putting more effort into sales now, aiming to have it cover one full-time person on the project in the next few months.

kanakiyajay 1 day ago 0 replies      
I manage a simple jQuery plugins blog http://jquer.in/ in which I list one plugin a day.Hosting costs are about 20$ a year.Average monthly advertising revenue is about 100$ not bad considering I haven't started sponsored posts yet.
ComNik 1 day ago 0 replies      
~100$ / year from an Amazon Price Tracker (http://www.rankique.com/) I wrote a long while ago.

It's 100% passive and is free to run, although some SEO should increase that, which frankly I neither have the time nor the expertise to do.

JamesChevalier 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm getting about $50/month through an IFTTT/tumblr/AdSense setup that I have running.

That pays the server costs for http://citystrides.com which hasn't generated much revenue, yet.

black_friday 1 day ago 2 replies      
My side project is www.stealengine.com

It yields about $50 a month, I'm just happy it pays for itself and requires little maintenance. During Black Friday(November) it made $400, other months are a lot slower.

I have not done any marketing and my friends like to use it so its fun.

rk0567 1 day ago 1 reply      
$300-$400 per month from my side project [0]. I spend 5-10 hours per month on updating/adding_new_features etc and the revenue comes from Affiliate/Ads.

[0] http://assembleyourpc.net - a pc builder tool

nicholas73 1 day ago 0 replies      
Best month so far has been 50 bucks. It'll take a long time, but I'm hoping eventually enough people link to it and add my widget, so that I can capture search traffic.


c0nsumer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I host a forum and website for a state-wide non-profit that I volunteer for in exchange for a single sidebar Adsense ad on the main page and in the footer on the forum. It's a hobby of mine, but the $300-$400 (gross) covers my expenses. Self-supporting hobbies are nice.
privatedan 1 day ago 0 replies      
~$50,000 USD per year in dividends from individual, public stocks, which isn't bad considering I do not seek out dividend payers specifically. Was earning another $25,000 or so renting out an apartment, but sold that recently to look for a larger property.
mindbreaker 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have some german nice sites like http://www.garten-fussballtor.de. My best website earns 100 / month. If you have any question i will try to answer it.
passive_ish 1 day ago 4 replies      
I built a B2B SAAS app about 18 months ago. I neglect it now, as I took a full time job (living in NYC isn't cheap, and I needed a better living situation).

It brings in about $1,800-$2,400/mo. I'd sell it if I had a buyer.

phatle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I earned about 100$/month from knocktocall.com product. It's okay for me because I don't do any marketing for knocktocall.com. Have a full-time job, some freelance job and I'm still making new app for my passion.
mkertajaya 1 day ago 0 replies      
Earlier this year, I helped out a friend setting up online shop selling electric bike (dropship model). It has been good this summer, average of $1000/month net profit. Traffic is still very low but constant buyers. - shopebike.com.
michaelcampbell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not "best" by any means, and perhaps not even passive, but I'm earning around 5% in my LendingClub account. I had some bad bets early on which lowered my returns a lot, but it's building up again.
ocram 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I developed some Opencart and WooCommerce extensions (payment gateways, product feeds). They've been generating ~$600-800/m for 3 years now. Not completely passive due to some service emails, but overall a very good ROI.
ghhutch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Built an e-commerce site, pro bono, for an acquaintance and get a profit share each pay period. Occasionally I monitor, upgrade, enhance, and fix it up which results in more income. Great Situation!
bprajapa 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do consulting around enterprise software and typically make about $1500/month. It's not quite passive income because it requires me to work in the evenings but its not bad.
eddievb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Publish a friend's political writings at MetricHour.com, split the AdWords revenue. Learned a bunch about Handlebars and the Ghost.io CMS in the process.
Carl_Platt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent post, I am looking to setup streams of passive income mostly for savings and to allow me to travel. Just never sure which itch to scratch :/
weiran 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get around $30 a month from a Hacker News app I made for iOS.
dmarlow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just launched http://www.smscmd.net/ so not much at the moment.
th1agofm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stock market: I'm breakeven in a meh year in my country's stock market(Brazil) and it's my only passive income.
frownie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I build a small ERP (closed source so far)... 3 customers at 100 / month => 300 /month, paid in various ways...
vicwhiten 1 day ago 1 reply      
~80$ a month from ads on http://steamroulette.net
ph4 1 day ago 1 reply      
About $75-$100 a month from a simple AdSense site that ranks highly for some key terms. Pretty lame.
snoonan 1 day ago 1 reply      
between $3000- and $18,000+/mo in online courses. The latter being more active in terms of sales, promotion, offers. It's not sustainable since customers are not responsive to this kind of thing each and every month.
gaadd33 1 day ago 0 replies      
XOM and AGNC dividends
0x420 1 day ago 0 replies      
i have a niche humor blog on tumblr that makes about 30$/mo from adsense ads. not bad considering i was doing it for free up until recently.
sourabh86 1 day ago 0 replies      
admob earning of ~$100 from 2 very small android apps catering to a very small set of users.
mahdavi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Selling 3d assets on Turbosquid.
martianmartin 1 day ago 1 reply      
hopefully the idea that i'm working on right now...:
Banned for Life
316 points by lubomir  3 days ago   281 comments top 57
_petronius 3 days ago 11 replies      
The author used other people's content, packaged them into an app, and then repeatedly submitted the same app (with one minor modification -- the use of someone else's content) to the Play store. 'Beta' apps or apps that you write for close friends/family can be distributed via other means than the main app market.

This article admits that he ignored all of the warnings he was given, and now accuses Google of unfair business practice. I don't buy it.

There's a lot of logical contortion going on to dump the blame for this back on Google. "The suspension email stated that I was trying to impersonate another company" is followed quickly by "Well since Google was silent about the exact reason for suspension..."; he even admits to intentionally ignoring the warnings he was given because "if I thought a human at Google was giving me the warning, I might have listened more carefully."

That is, at best, negligently poor reasoning. At worst, it's a contemptuous disrespect for the other party you're engaging in business with, which is pretty good grounds for them exercising their option to terminate that business relationship.

Google, Amazon, etc., are for-profit commercial service providers. If you're going to violate their policies, they will stop working with you, regardless of the impact on your business. Anyone who depends on a third party supplier for anything, in any business context, should keep that in mind -- they have no duty to you beyond whatever contract you have signed (if, of course, you have signed one).

JamesMcMinn 3 days ago 5 replies      
The author used others people's content and spammed with play store with official sounding apps, then ignored warnings to stop. Got caught and punished for it, now Google won't let him do it again.

Honestly, it just sounds like Google were doing the right thing and protecting it's users from low quality spam apps.

Cthulhu_ 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Anyone using my simplistic beta quality app would know instantly that this is not official

A silly assumption that both generalizes the audience and is ignorant of copyright laws, imo. Not a valid argument in a court situation either. I could make the crappiest Geocities site out there, but as soon as I put a Google logo somewhere, people may assume it is an official Google site or affiliated with it.

> One of my apps contained the channel id for Vice.com. Since the length of the app name is so limited I decided on Vice TV

Yup, there you go. Using a brand name, showing a brand's video - intent isn't the issue here, the author was impersonating Vice.com there.

The author is guilty of being naive and lax about copyright and trademark laws, imo.

jpwagner 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sure Google is a private company. Sure this means they have no formal responsibility to this developer. Programmatically, he seems to deserve to be sanctioned: he violated their policies for several weeks with several different apps.

I emailed Google back and asked them to tell me exactly what I need to change to be compliant with the rules. Is it the icon? The name? The disclaimer? What? Google refused to give me any additional information.

But if his story is true, he makes good faith efforts to be compliant. What, if any, is the social responsibility a company has that owns half the market of mobile development platforms to people that could potentially make a living using their platform? Monopolies/duopolies throw a wrench in the invisible hand, and I'm not sure there's a clear answer.

justinpaulson 3 days ago 0 replies      
"These warnings to me felt like the warnings on a plastic bag telling you not to put it over your head"

And yet you still put the bag over your head and took a deep breath! Why not just remove the ten apps and use common sense to determine that naming your apps after another company's product is a bad idea??

oskarth 3 days ago 1 reply      
Did OP do something wrong? Yes, definitely. Is being banned from all other Google-related activities forever without recourse proportional? No. The response - being the sum of all its direct consequences - is tyrannical, and worse, automatic and faceless. Unless you enjoy being A Perfectly Obedient Citizen (TM), the only real lesson here is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Use Google, use Apple, but beware of letting them have full control of important parts of your life.
mimog 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good. I wish all the people developing crappy and useless apps, flooding the place, would get banned. You publish 10 different apps where the only thing that changes is the youtube channel, and claim you were beta testing? I hope Apple and Microsoft ban you as well.
danielweber 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you ever find yourself making this argument:

I didnt think they would mind, I thought I was doing them a favor. Pointing people to their great content. Its free advertising

then stop. Other people don't want your "free" advertising.

M4v3R 3 days ago 3 replies      
> I continued to be an Apple fan until they announced the walled garden and the app review process for iOS. I am totally against having to get permission from a corporation to write and sell apps (...). All Apple products are banned in my household to make a statement about programmer freedom.

> Now my Google play account and Google Wallet account are both banned for life. Im no longer able to write Android apps ever again, and my family and I cant even use Google wallet to purchase from Google Play.

So much for programmer freedom. Apple is at least very explicit about its rules. Google seemingly lets you do whatever you want, but then bans you if you do something that they don't like. Now of course one can say that the ban is justified, as author clearly misused the Play store and didn't follow the guidelines.

If he did try to do that on the App Store his apps would be probably instantly rejected, but he would not be banned. The funny thing is that there's a big chance that he would then write a blog post about how App Store is a "walled garden" and that on Play store that would be OK.

true_religion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone read the list of other developers who've gotten suspended?

> http://blog.hutber.com/how-my-google-devlopers-account-got-t...

This guy here writes an app called "Sex Diaries Alpha", and has it rejected because of pornographic purpose. He then assumes that its because he used a picture a cartoon donkey as the icon, so he reploads "Sex Diaries Test" with a picture of a cartoon girl instead.

More repetitions follow. He never once thinks its perhaps the name 'sex diaries' or the stated purpose of the app. Nope, maybe its the fact that this picture has a nipple, or this is cartoon bondage.

> http://andrewpearson.org/?p=681

This guy writes an app and stuffs it with 100s of keywords (as one could see by checking the same app in the 3rd party app store), then he complains he isn't in violation because you could play all those artists through his generic music player, and google didn't cap the number of keywords you could use. So he's not in violation. He knows this for sure, because he's an attorney.

> https://groups.google.com/forum/#%21searchin/android-develop...

This guy says that Google transfered $4000 of android sales into his adsense account so they could pay him for non-US sales, but they failed to verify his account since he didn't have $10 worth of adsense budget. Then they disabled the entire account due to invalid clicks on a dead-end blog. If his story is actually true, he should get a lawyer and I feel this is really the time that Google customer service would be nice.

IanDrake 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft was known as the Borg, but that was poorly placed. Google has been more of a Borg than MS ever was.

Google has decided to automate everything. There is no way to get actual help across their entire product line. Having problems with your adwords account? It doesn't matter if you spend $20K month, you get automatic email responses to your queries with obnoxious links to the help system that you've already read.

While I agree that author did more wrong than he realizes, he also asked Google for an explanation to their objection, to which he received no response. I guess the Borg NLP engine was down that day and couldn't find the appropriate form letter.

Whatever you think about this author, you can't deny the danger of relying on one ecosystem so heavily. Google is the worst. At least Apple would have denied his app with a reason which he could have corrected.

neil_s 3 days ago 2 replies      
Summary: No sympathy for the blog author, but its still terrifying how broad Google's ban-hammer can be if you run afoul of them.
baldfat 3 days ago 1 reply      
March 25th post that was on Hacker News at least twice already. This is the only article on his blog.

Here is hi github page: https://github.com/sgehrman He is still developing. I am wondering what the updated status is on this? Seems that if he is still developing he isn't banned for life?

There already were some petition at https://www.change.org/petitions/sergey-brin-respect-the-eff...

arsalanb 3 days ago 1 reply      
After just skimming through the post, I have a question for OP. Why did you create 10 different apps? Why not just one app, that gave the user the ability to enter a channel name and check out all their videos? I think that's better, both in terms of not spamming for the lack of a better work the Play Store, as well as UX.

I'm afraid the actions taken by Google in this case can be justified, since publishing 10 apps a day is a dubious figure. However, I'll give it to you, they could've made the regulations regarding this a little more explicit and visible.

TuringTest 3 days ago 0 replies      
...and thus, the natural consequences of walled-garden markets begin to rear their ugly heads.

It was all love and rainbows while the gold rush held it promise of instant richness and fame, wasn't it?

mikehall314 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's an unfortunately common idea that copyright violation is sometimes okay because it amounts to "free advertising" for the organisation whose content you're co-opting. I was disappointed to see that argument made here.
fishnchips 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't call the OP blameless but there is a lesson here: it is dangerous for a professional software developer to become too invested in one technology or platform, especially with a capricious corporate overlord behind it.
ericfrederich 3 days ago 3 replies      
Don't believe you

You were a die hard Apple fan boy since '85 even during their darkest times... then you can't provide your users updates within hours so you...

"threw out my macs, smashed my iPhones, switched my whole family to Ubuntu and Android."


joshdance 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best comment, which was buried in the replies was this:

"There is a guide and it's pretty clear: https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ...- For example, if your app displays the brand, icon, or title from another app [...] your apps can be suspended and your developer account terminated."

tomordonez 3 days ago 1 reply      
I understand that an app is content wrapped around a concept.It is common sense not to use a known name unless you are asking for trouble.I could make a news app. Do I want to name it CNN?No, unless I am authorized to use that name.It is naive to think you can use just any name, even if you meant good. You are looking for trouble.Next time call it something else. The video app. Learn by Watching...I mean you couldn't come up with another name?
yonran 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of people think that the author deserved the punishment for his stupidity. However, I think he had an important point that needs to be discussed: that he was dismissed without a fair hearing and was banned for life from services unrelated to the one on which he committed the offense.

I think this is a growing problem that more people need to be aware of. We do not have the right to use modern marketplaces (such as the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, Google Adwords, AirBnB, Ebay, Uber, etc.) Instead, we have permission from corporations to use them. If an individual bases his livelihood on sales through one of these and then makes a mistake, the company is likely to ban him, destroying his income. There is currently no guarantee of due process or proportional punishment. When you are banned from the majority marketplace, one often has no real alternative. Can anyone make a living selling his goods on the second most popular auction site?

I think we need to fight for the right to due process and fair punishment online.

juliob 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google's culture of automated customer service continues a long tradition of poor people skills, and disdain for feelings and livelihoods, as well as their own reputation. I was contemplating switching from AWS to the Google Cloud, but it's posts like this that remind me that, oh yeah, I myself have been unjustly banned twice from one of their services.

Google cannot be trusted to handle relationships, whether with developers or companies. It's clear that they don't care and that's fine. They have their niche for providing services to those who don't mind the lack of the human touch. Just not for me.

pessimizer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would they have cut off his Nest? If google since G+ thinks of itself as a single product, it might not be smart to let them into your house, or to depend on them for anything important.

That being said, these kinds of apps are what make the phone app market a cesspool. Would the iOS app store accept youtube channel viewers?

tripzilch 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty clear to me.

First, what the guy did was wrong, and he appears pretty stupid, pretending to be stupid, or both.

Google is generally known for their abysmal communication and "customer service", but in this case they were in fact pretty clear about the problem right when the first app got suspended.

He can whine all he want but Google's decision to ban his Android developer account was not too unreasonable.

However even with that in mind I do believe that they went completely overboard with the decisions to also ban-for-life his Google Wallet and Google Music accounts. Those are completely unrelated to this matter[0], and escalated this thing out of proportion.

It is kind of frightening they will just take those things as "collateral" for violating a bunch of rules on a completely different service that just also happens to be part of the Google ecosystem. It starts to become and look like a state that way (hello, cyberpunk future), but with a state you should also have clear rules and ways of appeal. Google definitely doesn't have a meaningful version the the latter.

People depend on all sorts of services that Google provides, and the ability to take all or any of them away (there are no laws) because you violated an unrelated rule, is an amount of power that should come with mechanisms that keep it in check.

Indeed what if they instead had taken his GMail account?

[0] unless there is more that the author is not telling us, which is not at all unlikely.

pnathan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google is extremely well known for poor customer service in account management. That should not surprise anyone at this point. Automated bans and automated denial of appeal are pretty par for the course from the stories I've read.

That said, I'm not sure I actually side with the author outside of that point of agreement. Looks like the apps were mega shady.

I would advise the author to (1) not place their trust in a corporation again, and to secure their business & personal affairs against single points of failure, (2) not make shady software, and finally (3) consult a lawyer on the implementation of the law and contracts.

dictum 3 days ago 0 replies      
1. Don't repackage other people's content. Especially with their trademarks attached. If they had no role in creating the app, don't be a jerk. If you want to make a video app, make a general-purpose video app and teach your users how to add channels.

2. I can't help but appreciate the karma angle of someone who tried to repackage web content as apps getting bitten by the gatekeepers of the walled garden.

3. Ah, Google, the business that would certainly still exist (and be as large and powerful as it currently is) had it been forbidden to ever skirt the limits of copyright law...

tuhrig 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand his whole logic. He publishes the same app 10 times for different channels. One after another gets banned and he even thinks this proves that the rest is OK. He says that he made "beta apps written for my kids", but he puts it on the biggest app store in the world. He says an app to display videos is worth 50.000$, 10 times the same app is worth 500.000$. He says it was a free project, but he made it to collect user data for his commercial project.
chrisBob 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author should also do a quick search (perhaps with bing, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo) on PayPal accounts being blocked. He recommends this as the safe option, trusted option, but I have seen more PayPal banned for life rants than google ones. With PayPal you can loose your account just because your customers are using stolen cards.

The lesson should be that basing a business on any single external resource could be an issue, and you should approach it carefully.

chasing 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Because I had listened to the leaders at Google say that the open web, open source and freedom are important values at Google, and I fully agree with that ideal."

"All Apple products are banned in my household to make a statement about programmer freedom."

"I believe in freedom, not blind obedience."

This guy comes off as being a bit naive. And/or dishonest in his telling of this story...

X-Istence 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple is banned in the household, because walled garden, and yet he doesn't see the Google Play Store as a walled garden... oh boy, this guy is going to go far.
avz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm absolutely astonished by the degree of egocentric delusion, arrogance and lack of self-criticism displayed by the author:

* he smashes thousands of dollars worth of equipment because the producer's business model no longer fits his idea of freedom,

* he writes a trivial wrapper app with no original content or behavior,

* he spams Google Play with ten versions of it hard-coding different YT channel IDs in each,

* he values this contribution to the Android ecosystem on about $500,000,

* his apps obviously infringe on trademarks and possibly copyrighted content,

* he ignores multiple warnings and app suspensions, because they don't tell him precisely what to change,

* he considers Google to be under the obligation to handhold him through the nature of his violation of the terms and conditions,

* after all this he continues to think he is in the right,

* he writes a rant and expects to receive sympathy riding on general disappointment in devs community with Google's admittedly lacking customer support.


kelvin0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google's 'normal' support is horrendous and it takes forever to get someone to even pretend to help you. We had a paying google app engine account for our company... I've dealt with them, and it`s a pain to say the least.Now I can only imagine how they treat people who they consider 'deliquent' (not saying that the author is one)
pronoiac 3 days ago 0 replies      
I knew I'd seen this before. It looks like Medium's wacky URL structure is bypassing the dupe checker. If you search for the hex code at the end[1], you get the previous discussions.

From when this was first posted in March:



From May:


[1] like this: https://hn.algolia.com/?q=c62f2404f66#!/story/forever/0/c62f...

ripb 3 days ago 2 replies      
>1 app, 2 apps, 10 apps? Did it matter either way? I could have posted 50 apps if I wanted

>So I was using the app store as my beta testing platform.

>I was planning on taking all these apps down in a few weeks anyway.

>I thought I could get maybe 20-30 apps suspended without repercussions

>In this age of Google, its now obey or face an instant lifetime ban. This is progress? What does the future hold if we are forced to strictly obey and understand every legal gotcha in Googles terms of service? I believe in freedom, not blind obedience. I made some mistakes and would have removed all my apps if I had known the true consequences.

He spammed the Google Play store with multiple unfinished versions of the same applications for "beta testing", received warnings which he chose to ignore and then got banned for his gross abuse of the service.

Instead of "I messed up, here's a warning to others" it's a case of "why don't Google let me mess around with their service as much as I like? This is oppression, this is America goddamnit, where's muh freedom?!?"

Zero sympathy. Well done to Google on taking down one of the many people spamming the Play store with junk.

piratebroadcast 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used to make Android themes back in the day. I would wait until a game got really popular on iOS and count on Android users checking the Android app store for the same titles. I'd sell an "Angry Birds" phone theme for 99 cents. Many Android users werent that technologically savvy and thought they were buying the actual game. This went on for about 6 months. I was making serious money. Eventually they caught on and I was banned from the store. I was a kid and doing something a bit douchey but I definitely understand banning me.

This guy doesn't quite seem to feel the same way.

Donzo 3 days ago 0 replies      
He wants to know the difference between an app and the web: see Chubby Checker settlement.
mark-r 2 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of how you feel about this particular case, there are two things that are troubling:

1. Google is big enough to be an indispensable part of your life.

2. Google doesn't believe in allowing human contact - it doesn't scale. They've put all their eggs into the algorithm basket, and when the algorithm decides you're guilty that's it. No appeal, at least not in any real sense.

It's a story that gets repeated over and over.

izzydata 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anyway to call google help directly? I've heard plenty of stories of google automated email support that never adequately explains anything, but I'm curious if you can actually call them.

If anyone has seen the movie "The Internship" there is a scene where they all have to learn how to do phone support. I would find it very weird if that is entirely a lie and it is nearly impossible to call them.

Also he smashed his apple devices because he disagrees with their ideals? That seems kind of immature.

bg451 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The suspension email stated that I was trying to impersonate another company, and that this was forbidden.

> I decided on Vice TV

> I didnt plan on trying to sell Vice TV

> I was also secretly hoping I would get a contract job out of this or someone might say, Hey, add my blog and Facebook pages and Ill buy the app from you.

The last quotation isn't necessarily in context with the third one, but nonetheless this guy was either stupidly naive or ignorant.

aaronem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started laughing at the bit about all Apple products being banned in his household to make a statement about freedom, and I just didn't stop.
desireco42 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had this happen to me with adwords, once you get your account suspended or even before that, it is hard to get anyone to talk to you or have a way to correct issue. If you are fresh at it and clueless you are almost certain you will be banned.

Mostly this is due Google not having customer support, so you are just interacting with machines.

It would be easier if we had more options, this way if you get kicked out by apple and google, nothing else is left.

FiddlerClamp 3 days ago 0 replies      
He could sell the app outside the Play Store, of course. Nothing can stop him from doing that (trademark issues aside) and collecting payment via PayPal, etc.
the_real_bto 3 days ago 0 replies      
The escalation from written warning to banned for life is a huge leap to make in one step.

A month long suspension would get the point across.

wldcordeiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
That this guy was banned from Google Play is meaningless. He would have been banned from the iTunes Store as well for apps like this. This post is just getting traction because it's Google and HN has an axe to grind against them.
Karunamon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeahh.. I'm finding it really hard to have much sympathy here. Spammy single-content-source apps like this are a plague upon the store.

Furthermore, the author's ignorance of trademark really doesn't win them any points.

venomsnake 3 days ago 0 replies      
He is wrong. But the technology giants wield way too much power and must be tamed.
JimmaDaRustla 3 days ago 0 replies      
The ignorance hurts my bones.
0x0 3 days ago 0 replies      
If he spent even 5 minutes looking at the ios sdk, he'd see that there's no review process involved in distribution of beta apps to customers...
59nadir 2 days ago 0 replies      
The TL;DR should be:

Google suspended my Google Wallet account when they shouldn't have.

henrygrew 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google is a bully to say the least and they are not as open as you might think, i learnt this when my adsense account got suspended.
VLM 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Google could have, and still could block my gmail"

They have a different revenue generation business model for gmail.

My son's account was blocked, couldn't figure out why, and they wouldn't say. I suspect some kind of data mining thing where watching more than 5000 blitzwinger videos on youtube "proves" you're a kid or a teen. He does like his video games...

He falls into that gap between being old enough to have an account per google's rules, but young enough to not have his own credit card or a drivers license (they'd accept a scanned copy of his DL, but he's not 16 yet) so the only option to reinstate his account was to get Dad (me) to charge 50 cents on his CC to "prove" he's of legal age.

So part of the gmail business model is to hold kids (teens) accounts hostage with a threat of permanent deletion until Dad pays 50 cents. I'm not annoyed at the 50 cents, gmail is worth a large multiple of that. I am annoyed that at a random time long after BAU was initiated, they felt like charging us for fun.

It is possible the gmail biz model of randomly applied fees could be applied to play store / wallet accounts.

Not sure if OP would have flown off into as much of a rage for a $50 reinstatement fee, or if he'd be like me, pissed off at the "business agreement" being unilaterally rewritten at a later date. Either way, the gmail biz model does appear to be superior to the play/wallet/app store biz model, at least GOOG would get some revenue, however little.

I assume based on evidence Google dropped the "don't be evil" motto a long time ago.

bitJericho 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love how the tl;dr bit is at the end of the article. If I were too lazy to read the entire article, why would I scroll to the end before closing?

"If one of their algorithms thinks youre a bad guy, youre banned for life."

In his case scratch out "thinks" and put in "knows"

remon 3 days ago 0 replies      
TL;DR version "Didn't read the rules, broke the rules, :("
api 3 days ago 1 reply      
"I was a die hard Apple fan since 1985 and was an Apple developer all through the darkest days of the Apple death spiral. I continued to be an Apple fan until they announced the walled garden and the app review process for iOS. I am totally against having to get permission from a corporation to write and sell apps, and I certainly dont think I should be forced to sell my work through their store and their store only."

Regardless of the merits of this particular authors' case, I'm frankly astounded that more people don't seem to care about this aspect of mobile platforms. I remember the uproar the Microsoft caused in the 1990s with their "trusted computing" trial balloon, and the uproar that locked PC BIOSes continue to create today. Yet you change the form factor a little and nobody cares. Wow.

jeffehobbs 3 days ago 0 replies      

Honestly, why don't you just use a friend's account?

logicallee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped reading at "So, I threw out my macs, smashed my iPhones, switched my whole family to Ubuntu and Android." (Because nobody does that, specifically the first two things.) BTW until this line I was relating strongly with the author and especially the stuff about supporting a family.

Never got to find out the meat of the story. Oh well - it was promising and I was looking forward to it, I kind of wish I didn't realize what I was reading. (i.e. a fabrication.)

Basically, I don't find the sentence credible, nor am able to read it in context as an exaggeration or metaphorical, it's presented as fact, and I lost interest.

This is written by a marketer, not a developer. i.e. it's "a paid lie" (if we are cynical), or more generously it's allegory, that I don't have time to read. None of this stuff happened, in my judgment.

Granted I didn't read the 3900 word essay so I could be wrong - I stopped at word 278. It's just my impression that this story takes you for a ride.

PythonicAlpha 3 days ago 1 reply      
The OP made some grave errors with his apps. But is it really a good reason, to not tell him, what was going wrong and instead swinging the big hammer on his head (life-long ban)?

Google once started with the slogan "Don't be evil".

By being the new "Judge Dredd" of the internet, it can just become, what it never wanted to be. All that, just because Google tries to drive technology to its extremes ("customer-service from hell").

This is going to be more and more important, because there exist only very few major app-stores and very few major internet-payment systems (gladly, there the situation could still change to the better). But I know, how much Paypal was criticized because of his behavior and being a semi-monopolist in internet payments.

With our today's trend to centralization -- I don't want to put my fate into the hand of one of these new Judge Dredds.

       cached 1 August 2014 02:11:01 GMT