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Nexus 6
1001 points by myko  2 days ago   675 comments top 110
computerjunkie 2 days ago 35 replies      
5.96 - A phone just under 6". This is possibly the biggest disappointment about the phone. Its simply too large for the average user. The nexus 5 was already quite difficult to reach the top corners with one hand in my opinion with its 4.95.

you get over 24 hours of use from a full charge. - too many times I have heard this phrase from other smartphone manufacturers and its never true. Since this phone is made by Motorola(which I think is a great company that builds good products)there is hope but that screen is going to be a battery drainer. Motorola had their [0] Motorola Droid Maxx which held a 3,500mAh battery and its at least kind of true for that statement above.

If they had put the 3220 mAh battery (or larger) in a 4.7" - 4.9" phone, I would gladly pay for that. Why can't smartphone manufacturers understand that a longer battery life is whats lacking in mobile devices?

All the goodie features like Google Now and other location hungry services completely drain your battery in a short time. All I want is a smartphone that can last for at least one day on one charge.

Lastly the price. The nexus line is known for the competitive price/performance being greatly competitive. If this phone asks for more than 350, does it really have the nexus characteristics anymore?

I hope there will be android phones still produced with 5" or less screen size in the next 4 years. A significant portion of the population don't have unimaginably big hands (or pockets) to carry these so called "mobile" phones.

0. http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/16/motorola-droid-maxx-revie...

IkmoIkmo 2 days ago 16 replies      
Can anyone explain to me what the fetish is with pushing the same amount of pixels as a freaking 27 inch display (which, by the way, I've always considered gorgeous)?

I mean, does anyone actually notice the difference? Because if that difference means I'm paying $100-200 extra for a better screen, a better graphics chip etc, and it means my battery life is reduced, I really just don't get it.

I elaborated a bit on this question here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8459761

Anyway... my biggest gripe is really price point. The Nexus 4, 5, 7 weren't any more interesting than devices coming out from Samsung or HTC. What made them unique was a sick performance/price ratio, the best mid-level entry device range for people who aren't interested in $500 a year fees for their phone+plan, yet like running the latest android on a nice device.

Now we seem to get another high-range flagship-type phone and tablet. I kinda get it, you want a benchmark device and you've got moto filling the lower-mid range quite nicely, but I really wish they'd have kept the Nexus series below the $500 range.

Love the thickness by the way. 10mm or so is great. Not a thick slab, but it's got some real grip to it. iPhone 6's thickness really sucks for me. (although it's a slightly different story when you add a case, I did like the thickness of the iphone 6 with a case when I tried it)

benmorris 2 days ago 7 replies      
I bought the Nexus 5 as soon as it was released and have really liked it, however, I'm not sure I'll be buying this one. The biggest issue I have is the screen size. I just think 6" is over my threshold. At $649 I can basically buy any other phone off contract. One of the original appeals of the Nexus 5 was the low price.

No wireless charging either? Not a dealbreaker, but I did use it on my 5.

codezero 2 days ago 4 replies      
Very nice that all the physical buttons are on one side and also in the middle of the phone. The biggest gripe I have with the iPhone 6 Plus is that every time I try to lock it, I turn up the volume, and vice versa. The buttons are also way too high on the device.

Not that it's particularly important, but the Nexus 6 was the model of the androids in Blade Runner, but I'm not sure if this phone is "more human than human." :)

metabrew 2 days ago 8 replies      
I've bought every nexus phone when they were released, but I'm not sure about this one. The nexus 5 is already a bit oversized IMO. This thing is ridiculous.
vijayboyapati 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've owned an EVO, a Note 2 and a Nexus 5. The form factors being small, large and medium-to-large, respectively. I went from small to large, and while I thought the Note 2 had fantastic specs, it was too unwieldy for me and I decided to downsize to the Nexus 5. I still find the Nexus 5 a bit unwieldy with one handed use, but it's at least possible. Which brings me to my current conclusion: I want a smaller phone which doesn't give up too much in the screen resolution. Which brings me to my question: What makes ideal specs for you? Here's what I want, but cannot seem to find (something is always missing):

* Size: 4.9" screen

* Resolution: 1080p (it's really hard to find any phones this size with this resolution, which is disappointing because the PPI is possible, especially given the quad HD resolutions being slapped on phones now).

* SD expansion slot: One thing I really liked about the Note 2 that the Nexus phones don't have. I could upgrade with a 64G SD card which didn't cost much. 32G can fill up pretty quickly with videos and photos and it's annoying Google has a philosophy which shuns SD cards.

* Battery: At least 2600mAmp (should last at least one day).

* Stock android: No bloatware and no touch-wiz. This isn't as important as the other considerations though.

* CPU: This doesn't matter too much to me. 99% of what I do doesn't need a latest generation processor

* Memory: 2G is fine. Memory again isn't the main thing that's bothering me about the current android offerings.

What really bothers me is no-one is catering to this market segment and the trend is increasingly into the phablet market.

untog 2 days ago 2 replies      
I had a Nexus 5, but I bought a Sony Z3 Compact a few weeks ago, and I don't regret doing so. This phone is simply too big.

For anyone interested, I would highly recommend the Z3C. It's a fantastic phone and a really great size.

chdir 2 days ago 2 replies      
The trend of correlating device number (i.e. Nexus 'X') with screen size is going in the wrong direction. 6 is already too big (and heavy) for some. Next year, there'll be no distinction between phones & tablets.

Edit: Disappointed with the pricing too: $649. Google had set a good trend with Nexus series - Awesome devices at exception price. All that's gone. Kind of against the Android One initiative.

omnibrain 2 days ago 3 replies      
So apparently there is no 7" tablet anymore. I think that makes sense, since the 7" tablets get cannibalized by the ever growing smartphones. After I bought a Nexus 7 I started to carry it around all the time. I used my Galaxy Nexus less and less (only for calls and whatsapp) so after a short time (when the Galaxy Nexus started to show its age) I decided I can live with an even smaller (and not so flexible) phone and bought an 5s. Now, with the Nexus 6 I may be able to retire both and get back to only carrying one device with me.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
Fascinating arguments about size. It isn't the only phone on the market, so the size question is resolved by market acceptance. Granted there are confounding factors, Lollipop vs Android 4.x, cost, availability. But in general larger screens seem to sell well (compare the iPhone 6+ backlog to the iPhone 6 for example [1]). I get that this might not be a "good" thing for some people, but it is pointless to argue that Apple or Google should take less money by selling phones the market doesn't want (a strategy which is being employed by RIM at the moment)

[1] http://9to5mac.com/2014/09/12/iphone-6-and-6-plus-already-se...

pisarzp 2 days ago 2 replies      
Many people here complain that phone is too big without ever using phablet. I was in this camp too until I started to use N6. I was testing this phone for last couple months. It's an amazing device, and even though sometimes it does feel big, on day to day basis it was never an issue for me. Consuming any type of content was much easier and more pleasurable. I noticed the difference especially when I sometimes moved back to Nexus 5 which I thought was perfect size. Well, it turns out I changed my mind now:)

If you can, try to use phablet at least for 1-2 days before discarding it.

One thing that might have helped is that I'm also using a smartwatch now and I take out my phone less frequently, but I don't think this change anything much.

bcohen5055 2 days ago 6 replies      
Can anyone confirm what is driving this larger screen war? I know when LTE was rolling out manufacturers needed space for larger batteries but couldn't make the phones thicker due to market backlash so bigger screens began to trend. Now I can't help but think it is completely consumer driven but if that is so what are the larger screens enabling users to do? Is it the resolution? The multitasking? This just doesn't look like a valuable tradeoff for less portability and 1 handed use.
PhrosTT 2 days ago 5 replies      
The fact that this has a thunderbolt resolution display shows how lame it is most desktops haven't adopted 4k yet.
cryptoz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yes! Google continues to add barometers to phones!

Although, it's disappointing that the Nexus 9 does not also include a barometer. I suppose they've decided that the use case for fast GPS and altitude works better in a phone than a tablet - that, or, since the 9 is built by HTC it would be their first time adding one. Oddly, though, Motorola put its first barometer in a tablet (the Xoom) before they tried any phones.

gregwebs 2 days ago 1 reply      
> front-facing speakers

Great! This is why I bought an HTC One M8 instead of a Nexus 5. Great for speakerphone or if you do watch a video on that high resolution display.

It amazes me how the essentials get sacrificed really easily and that consumers often don't demand better when they are purchasing. I would buy a Mac, but I do have to demand a matte screen instead of just getting accustomed to glare.

suprgeek 2 days ago 4 replies      
This thing is a beast in every sense of the word! also with dual front speakers! That can make a huge difference in sound quality.

However it looks like this is heading to $500+ territory so the days of a cheap good Nexus may be coming to an end. Looks like the Moto E etc is filling that niche.

wodenokoto 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm visiting Japan, but I don't read Japanese. When I visit this site everything is in Japanese without any button to change local.

Apple and Ikea will redirect you to a url with country code in it (ikea.com/ja/en/bedroom kind of style) making it easy for people on the tech savvy side to manually change locale. But Google? No way in hell am I allowed to read this in English if I'm not physically in an English speaking country.

nradov 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does it have a removable battery or is it another sealed device? That's not clear from the web page.Everything else looks great about this device but if it lacks a swappable battery then that's a deal breaker for me and I'll have to get a Samsung Note 4 instead. Even a 3220 mAh battery is insufficient and external battery packs are just too much hassle to deal with.
Coding_Cat 2 days ago 2 replies      
>With a large 3220 mAh battery, you get over 24 hours of use from a full charge.

I would hope so, call me old-fashioned but I would say that once a day is the absolute limit on how many times I'd accept having to charge my phone.

Of course, you don't use your phone 24 hours in a day (at least I hope you don't) however, marketing being what it is they generally mean "very very light usage" when they quote battery-life.

darklajid 1 day ago 0 replies      
As ~always~ with Google sites my Accept-Language header [1] is ignored and I end up being redirected to a different, 'more suitable' site. But yeah, those people can talk about SPDY and HTTP/2 and new standards all day long I guess. I'm sure that makes sense..

1: en-US,en;q=0.5

paulannesley 2 days ago 3 replies      
iPhone 6 Plus: 5.5" 19201080 (401 ppi)

Nexus 6: 5.96" 25601440 (493 ppi)

The iPhone 6 Plus is comically enormous. This thing is ridiculous. And the same resolution as the current 27" Apple displays.

2.7 GHz quad core vs iPhone's 1.4 GHz dual core (but 32-bit, vs Apple's 64-bit).

That is some serious hardware.

jordanpg 2 days ago 6 replies      
I see an important question looming on the 5-year horizon: how are people going to be carrying these large devices? Clearly carrying large phones in pockets is impossible for many, increasingly impractical for many more, and simply undesirable to the curious.

Will handbags or hip bags become common for all? Will the average size of phones rebound and approach some smaller-screen equilibrium size near 5"?

Everything depends on the adoption of these devices by younger people -- whatever becomes "cool".

My prediction is that phones will become strapped to arms or shirts somehow. I see some sort of arm-hoslter or dedicated shirt pocket that comfortably, securely houses a mini-tablet.

munchor 2 days ago 3 replies      
Everything about it looks great except for the 6'' screen. I understand the appeal of big screens, but 6'' is just too much.
pshinghal 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see how a 6" phone is convenient at all. I can only assume that the reason major brands are making oversized phones is because there hasn't been enough technical innovation in the past year to create an adequately exciting "update" to an existing phone (the Nexus 5, for example).Is this the case, or am I missing something?
pierrec 2 days ago 1 reply      
Slightly off topic, but is it just me or does this page brutally ignore your browser's language settings? (as well as those of your google account.)

Apparently it guesses a language based on your IP address and serves you an inappropriately localized version. Kind of a noob-ish mistake to make for such a campaign. Too bad for you if you're abroad! There's a language drop-down in the "help" section, but it's not stored in the session and it's completely ignored by the other pages. So you simply cannot view the landing page in your own language!

jasonkester 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anybody found a way to force it to display in English? I'm in France at the moment so I can't even read the text on the site. None of the usual tricks (?hl=en, etc.) work. No links on the site to change language or redirect.

Seems silly to have to VPN into a box in the US just to read a website.

sytelus 1 day ago 2 replies      
After long back and forth I ended up buying iPhone 6 over Nexus 5. So the news of Nexus 6 was exciting but it still seems bit behind on hardware front:

* No 128GB memory option. This is absolutely important for me and it seems Apple is the only one of few company who gets this. I started running out of 64 GB long time ago.

* No TouchID equivalent which is excellent and works flowlessly on iPhones.

* No slow-mo videos at 200+ frames per second.

* From hardware perspective N6 still stuck in 32-bit world. Plus it lacks motion processor that monitors my movements and fitness data all the time without draining batteries.

* 8MP camera is actually better than 12MP and gives better low light performance. Higher MP is actually deal breaking for me (if sensor size remains same).

* At 10mm thickness, that's actually going backwards from 7mm for iPhone 6. Every mm of thickness adds perception of "hugeness" dramatically.

zkar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nano Sim. Do they really need the space saving from micro to nano? Prepaid carriers charge extra for nano sim. Not sure if it is because it is more expensive to manufacture. Requires more delicate handling for those who swap sims which is more common in Asia.
crucialfelix 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ah, but the Nexus 6 only has a 4 year lifespan. Then .. time to die.

I thought that Google decided not to release a phone named Nexus-6 out of deference to Blade Runner and Phillip K Dick's family who were annoyed that they used the name.

smackfu 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do you announce a phone without a price? That is always a terrible idea.

Edit: I guess it's $649.

bicx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm thinking the real deal-breaker for me will be the camera, which seems to be the same as the mediocre Moto X camera. Otherwise, it looks like a nice device. Nothing particularly amazing, except for stock Lollipop.
primo37 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order through the Google Play Store in late October starting at $649."

This is from Motorola http://motorola-blog.blogspot.fr/2014/10/nexus-6-from-google...

joliss 2 days ago 1 reply      
Full specs: https://i.imgur.com/S0ifg2B.png

Of note: Nano SIM, 493 ppi display, 4K video recording.

(The specs on the Google page have a button to expand them. It's a bit hidden and not linkable, hence the screenshot.)

nstart 1 day ago 0 replies      
Like many others here, I agree on the screen size issue. I'm actually at a bit of a loss as to what phone to use next. I want something that's future proof for several versions of Android, runs smoothly, runs vanilla android by default, and doesn't exceed the screen size of the galaxy nexus (the one that's currently stuck without a stable upgrade to kit kat due to firmware issues), and has a great resolution. I'd gladly pay good money for a device like that.
AlyssaRowan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well, I want to see it, and hold it, but I fear the size is probably too big for my small hands, and I know the price is too big. The battery being big is nice, but with a screen that size I don't believe the battery life claims until I see independent reviews.

Given that the battery isn't removable too, this makes for a very shitty development phone. (What do we do if it freezes? How do we hard-remove power?) I think this won't do.

I'm also rather disappointed this isn't the Snapdragon 810 or 808. For a phone this expensive, it doesn't measure up.

Overall this is not what I hoped for from a new Nexus. Perhaps Android Silver will deliver something better, but I doubt the Nexus 6 will be my next phone.

51Cards 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sadly this will bring the Nexus buying streak for me to an end. 6" is too large... the price is too high. Too bad though, that battery and camera would have been nice. I think the Nexus 5 will hold for another year.
diltonm 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems like we just got the Nexus 5, the Nexus One is still fun to pull out and mess with. The One was the perfect size. I'm not even sure the 6 would fit in my pants pocket? Seems like it would jab into my groin when driving. Storage isn't even listed or Chrome's Ctrl+F can't find it? Does it have external storage or expandable storage? The 5 messed this up.
dferlemann 2 days ago 0 replies      
Feel more like marketing data collecting, to see how size the phone relates the sales... I'm interested to know the result. Personally, it's definitely too big.
q2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Without going into specifics, Apple's event(whatever they reveal) is scheduled for tomorrow and so today is Google's day.

Today, some startup/enterprise somewhere in the valley may be making final touches to a press release on some bad/shocking news such as layoffs...etc tomorrow so that little attention will be paid to that, since most tech press may be glued to Apple's event.

Life repeats on and on as before.

icelancer 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Nexus 6 not having a high-speed camera sensor is really disappointing. I was hoping Apple and Google would eventually break down the high-speed / slow-motion camera market, because industrial applications cost well into the multiple thousands of dollars for cameras not much better than the iPhone 6 with the only exception being that it is PC-controlled via software.


cooperpellaton 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find this an interesting departure by the trend which has been set by the previous phones in the Nexus program. Prior phones followed an average lower price that what is most likely to be seen here. Given that the Nexus program has stood as the pinnacle of the Android environment more so than just simply being "reference" hardware it does seem logical to me that Google would want to escalate the quality and produce a true flagship. That being said, this is also atypical and as much as it plays into the trend of higher quality for the entire ecosystem, it also undermines their tenant of simply finding hardware which promotes the qualities that the OS does. In the end it is most likely I will still buy the phone, but still, on morals, I dislike the anticipated pricing.
timetraveller 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is this obsession with having to use the phone with one hand? I have big hands and even with iPhone4/Nexus One I found myself using two hands to get things done more quickly.
pjg 2 days ago 1 reply      
What will the screen resolution default to ? The resolution mentioned i.e. 25601440 (493 ppi) is too high for human eye to decipher on 6" frame. MacBook Pro's with retina displays have 2560x1440 resolution available however the highest viewable is 1920x1200 (unless you use 3rd party software like SwitchresX to override the maximum )
hit8run 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone remember the HP Veer?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Veer

This phone was advertised for beeing as small as a credit card. Now Nexus 6 is as tall as a whole opened wallet.

fataliss 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see any details on the body anywhere. I'm assuming the sides are in aluminium, but what about the back? I always hated the cheap android phone for their glossy cheap plastic feel. (Also the reason why I can't stand any case on my iPhone) But with a price point around 650$ I'm expecting some more premium feel.
dmix 2 days ago 3 replies      
Was the Nexus 5 refreshed at all? I can't tell by the website.
Noughmad 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a missed opportunity in the tagline. Instead of "More space to explore" it should have said "More space for Activities". Because, you know, the Activity class.
4k 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why the storage on all high end phones is stuck at 64gb? I honestly would like to have more storage space.
mladenkovacevic 2 days ago 1 reply      
With the increase in price and out-of-the-gate contract subsidies, the Nexus line has now transitioned from a developer-targeted effort to a full-fledged mass-consumer brand.

Having said that, this transition demands that they compete with the iPhones and Samsungs. Taking that into account they should've released an additional 4.5" phone, along with the 6". This could steal away the people who hesitated in getting the 4.7" iPhone 6 due to the size, and if someone is into getting a humongous 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus, they'd be even more into getting a 6" device with not much larger physical dimensions. The goal should be find the perfect two offers to cover the whole spectrum of buyers.

blisterpeanuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
So it's announced, and the price is a surprising $649, nearly double the price of the Nexus 5 ($349). I suspect the Nexus 5 will continue to fill the "budget development" niche.

In fact, now that I've seen the official N6 specs, I'm going to go ahead and order an N5 to replace my Galaxy Nexus because I need a device that does BLE. In a couple of years, perhaps it will be time to upgrade to a refurb N6 or maybe a less expensive N6.5, if they decide to go back to the loss-leader pricing of the older Nexus models.

I'm disappointed that the N6 doesn't come with memory expansion. A MicroSD slot might have tipped the scales for me.

julianpye 2 days ago 2 replies      
What keeps me off buying another Playstore device is Google's terrible customer support, especially before they can command such a premium price. I have an unresponsive Nexus 4. I cannot just send it in for warranty repair. In order to return it, I have to go through a list of steps on their website, then get on a phoneline on which they state I have to wait for 45 minute to get a customer rep. Often the line is interrupted. I haven't been able to get my number for two weeks now.

Eric Schmidt recently said in Germany that Amazon is their biggest competitor. For that to be true, they need to seriously up their support.

davidw 2 days ago 0 replies      
1440x2560 leaves my laptop in the dust. That's insane... I want that kind of resolution for my laptop too!

Seems kind of big for a phone though. This Nexus 4 that I have is about as large a phone as I'd want.

eva1984 2 days ago 1 reply      
This one is huge...And seems like Google didn't upgrade their Nexus 5 model?
tgmarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
The screen is a deal breaker for me too. I was super excited for this phone. It's a Moto X with all the stat bumps I really wanted. Sure the camera and battery are the weak points but both better than what I have in my 1st gen Moto X. But I don't want a phablet, so i'm out of luck.
laacz 2 days ago 0 replies      
As I see it, there are tree reasons for ridiculous six inches.

1) To fit a larger battery, better screen, more horsepower, better camera with OIS they just have to make them bigger.

2) Nexus line has gone out of control and people instead of buying other phones are queuing up for nexuses which initially were meant to be just reference devices for new android oses. Instead they became so popular that had an impact on sales of other Android devices.

3) They got focus groups or questions all wrong.

gesman 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Available for pre-order starting late october ..."

Sort of like "you can watch this movie as soon as you'll grow up ..."

jerkywez 1 day ago 0 replies      
I reckon they should have just gone with HTC for both tablet and phone.. it would have resulted in a much better outcome on the latter.
evv 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is RAM not a worthy technical specification to list? I think its pretty critical.

Until somebody corrects me I'll just assume this thing has the 1GB of RAM which is pretty standard these days.. But not enough IMHO

follower 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember being mocked when talking on my Treo 180 due to its size when fully open...I find the increased dimensions of new phones amusing in this light.

I'm still looking for a replacement for my Nexus One that matches three criteria: metal case, stock Android, not stupidly large. With the noticeable exception of the tiny amount of app storage the N1 still holds up well for my purposes.

Siecje 2 days ago 5 replies      
> Camera

> 13MP front-facing with optical image stabilization> 2MP rear-facing

Is it really 13MP front-facing? Selfie optimization!

chdir 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Google, Please announce a 'Nexus 6 Mini' someday in the near future. Just trim the screen size to a sub 5" level and price to sub $400. Rest all features are welcome. The reduction in battery size proportionately is acceptable.

- Sincerely, A long time Nexus user !

Touche 2 days ago 2 replies      
Going to wait and see the reviews about the camera. The Nexus 5 had the absolute worst camera I've used in a smartphone. It takes 3 or 4 seconds to focus and gets unfocused super easily. I have so many terrible pictures and am embarrassed giving my phone to someone else to take a picture with.
rafaqueque 2 days ago 0 replies      
Being a long time Android user with fairly large screens (+5"), I'm now using an iPhone 5C for three days and I really love its size. I guess that even the iPhone 6 is way too much for me. Around 4", it's the ideal size for me.
JimmaDaRustla 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many people don't realize that the Nexus 6 is not the next iteration in the Nexus line. It is Google's entry into the phablet market.

To me, the follow-up to the Nexus 5 is the Moto X. Decent specs, moderate price, stock Android, etc.

imacomputer2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm casting my vote for "Screen Size Too Big!" I can't imagine using a device larger than the Nexus 5. I'll test out similar size phones in stores, but it looks like the size is a deal breaker.
kaahne 2 days ago 2 replies      
If I scroll to the "Introducing Lollipop, our sweetest release yet" section, there's a google now card for a coffee place I've been to recently (in Portland, OR for that matter ...).

It's uncanny...

jusben1369 2 days ago 0 replies      
The pricing is really high. Seems like Google is now no longer interested in forcing great phones out of Samsung/HTC etc. Now that great phones exist they raise the prices and no longer upset the hardware chain.
PankajGhosh 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the reason for nexus devices to not have fingerprint scanners?
hbhakhra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they took the design that was widely praised with the Moto X and used it for the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 looks like just a bigger version of the X (obviously better specs).
dschulz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Using the N5 I already have a problem distinguishing the top from the bottom at a glance. I'm sure with the new design this will be much more than a minor nuisance.
AsakiIssa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although a bit too big for my liking (still using a Galaxy S2) I wonder if that LCD will be in the next Oculus Rift iteration, having 1280x1440px per eye!
balaclava9 2 days ago 1 reply      
Deckard, I need your magic, I need my old Blade Runner.
piyush_soni 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still have heard no word on whether this will support a Moto X like 'always on listening'. Anyone can comment on that?
joshmn 2 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing I've waited for is the DSP support so I can just say "OK Google" and go instead of having to do a long-press.
laacz 1 day ago 0 replies      
"4 inches in a smartphone? That's too large!" /Everyone, 2008/
kgarten 2 days ago 1 reply      
great ... I'm in Japan (signed into Google/Gmail in English) and the whole page is in Japanese without any obvious way.Great Job Google ...! (sorry for the rant, my Japanese is not so bad now, still it annoys me ...happens very often with google pages)
PButcher93 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shame they didn't release a new Nexus 7.
BigBlackCamry 2 days ago 0 replies      
$650!!!! for that price, i'll get me two nexus 5.. this way I can talk to myself, never get lonely....
chetanahuja 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well I'm not letting one anywhere near me until someone runs the Voight-Kampff test on them.
baby 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone knows how I can display this page in english? For some reason it displays in french.
fixedd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any news yet on whether Verizon is going to fumble it as badly as they did the Galaxy Nexus?
scope 1 day ago 0 replies      
off topic (i think)

for a "phone" that has 493ppi, you expect the site introducing the phone to be retina ready (couple of images and the favicon)

Cakez0r 2 days ago 2 replies      

    Display    5.96 1440 x 2560 display (493 ppi)

rahilsondhi 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those looking who were looking for a new Android and disappointed by this release, have you considered the Galaxy Alpha? http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_alpha-6573.php
nly 2 days ago 1 reply      
This thing has a screen resolution higher than my laptop, and 4x the RAM...
bonzaipez 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Wasn't Nexus 6 the last model of replicants in Blade Runner? Just sayin'...
acadien 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean they won't be releasing a new 5" nexus this year?
usav 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a typo in the spec area where they mixed up front and rear cameras
Datsundere 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like buying the one plus one was the smarter choice.
ccozan 2 days ago 0 replies      
ccozan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Finally, a Motorola Nexus! A mighty succesor to the Moto X-es.
0x006A 1 day ago 0 replies      
localized version without an option to change the language? really are they smoking crack?
pawelkomarnicki 1 day ago 0 replies      
The price killed it for me :-(
piyush_soni 2 days ago 0 replies      
Completely off-topic, but I can't help but notice how posting a new-device link gives you a lot more Karma in one day than I earned in a few years. :)
andrewstuart2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nexus 9 as well.
jeffcaijf 1 day ago 0 replies      
comparing with N5, obviously it's too expensive.
whizzkid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Come on, stop with making bigger and bigger phones.

I do not think, this is how technology should evolve.

chimeracoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the biggest surprise here is that it will be available on Verizon.

I thought that Verizon and Google parted ways permanently for the Nexus line after Verizon botched the Galaxy Nexus so badly in 2011 - this is the first Nexus available on Verizon since then.

notjustanymike 2 days ago 0 replies      
3220 mAh battery. Wow.
Siecje 2 days ago 1 reply      
No Wireless charging?
72deluxe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does this have a flash? I can't see one, unless I am being dumb?
ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess all icons are going to have to be SVG to scale on these new devices, otherwise they are going to be impossible to see.
mohap 2 days ago 2 replies      
that is one thick phone.
BigBlackCamry 2 days ago 0 replies      
for $650, i'll pass...unless nexus 6 can answer my emails for me.
notastartup 2 days ago 0 replies      
i can't fit this phone into my pocket. i guess im gonna wait till nexus 4 or 5 drops in prices and buy that instead.
tatqx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The nexus font is too big on the back of the phone.
sabmd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whatever version it is. NEWS is best. NORTH OR EAST WORLD IS BEST!!!
GeorgeMac 2 days ago 2 replies      
Another beautiful device and it is only at the cost of your privacy.
ChrisClark 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was a mistake. They updated the page to list the Nexus 4 now too.
Rolling Shutters
704 points by hazz  5 days ago   41 comments top 14
zorpner 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nice! Whenever I see rolling shutter photos on flickr/etc I always think about this old page where a fellow built a long-distance camera from a flatbed scanner to get the effect intentionally: http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/tech/scanner.html

(There's a great image of a garage door opening & closing about 2/3 of the way down the page if you don't feel like reading the whole thing.)

pbnjay 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's a neat analysis from a mathematical perspective, but (especially for a rotating component like this) wouldn't the lighting be all wrong for the remapped pixels? The slow-speed scanning examples use a fixed image (note the highlight doesn't change) so it's likely not usable for real-world digital photography without updates to account for lighting.
britta 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ha, my friend used the same photo as the example for his mathematical analysis of the rolling shutter effect: http://danielwalsh.tumblr.com/post/54400376441/playing-detec...

The questions he investigated: "Can we figure out the rate at which a propellor is spinning by analyzing this kind of photo? And can we figure out the real number of propellor blades in the photo?"

salimmadjd 4 days ago 2 replies      
Sony is making steady advancements in the global shutter with CMOS sensors. A bit harder on DSLRS with larger sensors and more pixels to read but the smaller sensors with smaller megapixels already have them [1]. So it's matter of a time that most CMOS bases videos will be free of rolling shutter, starting with higher-end video cameras that have sensors with just enough pixels to cover 2k-4k videos [2]

[1] http://www.sony.net/Products/SC-HP/new_pro/december_2013/imx...

[2] http://www.newsshooter.com/2014/09/11/io-industries-4k-super...

Fuzzwah 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see this effect happening in skydiving videos quite often.

The rolling shutter is also why stills from gopro videos never quite live up to how clear the videos look in motion.

The cover photo from this month's parachutist magazine is a great example:


Notice the right leg of the jumpsuit, its flapping in the wind as the shutter rolls over the scene.

When people use the slow-mo feature for gopro videos everything kind of morphs rather than moving naturally. I've always found it to be a cool effect:


themgt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat relatedly, check out this awesome new camera technology which essentially captures a rolling diff of the image rather than the image itself, with impressive results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LauQ6LWTkxM
andmarios 4 days ago 0 replies      
A very cool article, indeed; but I believe he uses the term exposure wrong.

Exposure is the total time our whole light sensitive area is exposed to the light coming from our scene. You can think of it as an integral of the sensor (or film) area exposed as a function of the time, divided by the total sensor area.

In the examples he uses the term exposure to describe the total scantime of the sensor, whilst it seems that his actual exposure (which is equal to the time each row of pixels samples the scene) is much smaller.

It may sound as a small difference but if one wants to reproduce the effect, we will essentially need to match two parameters: exposure and scantime. While exposure is easy to set, scantime is pretty much hardcoded and depends on the physical characteristics of the camera. Even an analog shutter has a scantime on small exposure times.

kitd 4 days ago 1 reply      
If I understand this correctly, it is effectively doing what a photo-finish camera does at race sports events, except that the slit moves across the scene, rather than the scene moving past the slit.

Photo-finish shots also end up looking pretty weird:http://coachdeanhebert.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/100-photo...

carsonreinke 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome animated GIFs, definitely helps explain the concept.

This effect was manipulated to extract more information for this: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/algorithm-recovers-speech-fro...

Magi604 4 days ago 4 replies      
I can see it now. Soon Adobe will include some tool or setting in Photoshop that will automagically "fix" rolling shutter.
GuiA 4 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely check out other articles on the author's blog; he's a great technical writer.
sp332 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite rolling-shutter video, of an upright bass: http://vimeo.com/4041788
kordless 4 days ago 1 reply      
The radial graph half way down the page reminds me of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulam_spiral#mediaviewer/File:Sa...
Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 1 reply      
Rolling shutters were also used by traditional cameras. This effect is really old school stuff. Rolling shutter providers better exposure than circular shutter. I remember that most of professional photographs taken in 80s also used rolling shutter.
iMac with Retina 5K display
609 points by davidbarker  1 day ago   410 comments top 46
ChikkaChiChi 1 day ago 6 replies      
Thank you, Apple!

They put the "Retina" display in the iMac. This means people will buy it. Higher volume means whoever (LG, I think?) is manufacturing the screens will have to produce more, driving the cost down. That means they will sell variants. Then their competition will also sell competitive options because nobody will want 1080p on a computer screen anymore.

Monitor technology has been stalled for years. This is going to be a gigantic kick in the pants to the industry!

pptr1 1 day ago 9 replies      
I am really curious about the technology behind the 5k iMac. I am not sure if there is any off the shelf GPU out there that can drive that display using retina type rendering.It's interesting they did a custom controller for the display timing (Timing Controller (TCON)) . They must have had to do deep customizations to use the AMD R9 M290X (comparable to the Radeon HD 7870) to drive it.If this is not innovative I am not sure what is, in terms of an engineering standpoint.
bsimpson 1 day ago 5 replies      
FWIW, the only other 5k monitor I can find is from Dell. It's also $2500.[1]

In other words, buy a Retina Cinema Display, get the computer to power it for free.

[1]: http://www.maximumpc.com/dells_5k_monitor_pre_reviewed_2014

Fuzzwah 1 day ago 6 replies      
I'm normally firmly in the "I hate websites that mess with the normal scrolling of a page" crowd.

The scrolling transition at the top of this page really impressed me.

sillysaurus3 1 day ago 7 replies      
I was curious what the exact resolutions were. A quick google search claims:

"4k monitor": 3824 x 2160

"5k monitor": 5120 x 2880

That's a lot of pixels.

It might be a good idea to be skeptical about spending >$1,500 on a 27-inch monitor in Q4 2014. It's difficult to notice any pixelation on a 27" screen at a resolution of 2560x1440, so clearly the reason to upgrade to 5120x2880 is for the extra screen workspace. But unless you have very good vision, you're probably not going to be able to read text at 5120x2880 without zooming. What's the advantage?

For $1,000 you can buy two 27" 2560x1440 monitors, which is a huge amount of workspace. Also, a single $300 midrange GPU can drive both monitors at full resolution. A couple years ago, that was cutting-edge tech, but it cost ~$2600. Also, two monitors offer a better user experience than one monitor, since window management is a bit easier.

Would anyone mind explaining whether the pros of a 5k monitor outweigh the hefty pricetag?

mrb 1 day ago 2 replies      
This might be off-topic, but I instantly recognized the waterfall image at http://www.apple.com/imac-with-retina/ as being http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sk%C3%B3gafoss / https://www.google.com/search?q=Skgafoss&tbm=isch :)
gmays 1 day ago 4 replies      
Hopefully they'll release an updated 5K version of the Thunderbolt Display. They haven't updated it in years, I was really hoping for it today.
lprez 1 day ago 8 replies      
As much as I'd love that display, I can not believe that a $2500 computer is shipping with 8GB of RAM in almost-2015.
fuzzythinker 1 day ago 2 replies      
Very nice presentation of background image transforming into image on monitor.
post_break 1 day ago 1 reply      
Better spring for the 4GB video card, 5k is going to eat up 2GB of video memory fast.
jbarham 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks like a perfect 4K video editing rig: the 5K display is big enough to play 4K at 100% with lots of extra space for editor controls. Pair it with the Panasonic GH4 and you can shoot and edit cinema quality 4K footage for under $5k, which is amazing.
MatthiasP 1 day ago 0 replies      
That price is cheaper than I expected, since Dell announced that they would charge $2500 for their 5K display. It is about time that 'retina' comes to the desktop, hopefully this will put more pressure on Microsoft and third party devs to actually make high DPI displays work with Windows. As it stands now, Apple has a monopoly on a usable high DPI environment (Assuming the usual quick adaption to this display of the OSX dev community). That may be enough for me to change over to OSX as daily driver, just think about how nice coding on this thing could be.
elnate 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I always enjoy the irony of the pictures in these ads. Those displays look awesome while using a quarter of my 1080 display.
Skywing 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've owned and used both a 4k monitor and a 144 Hz refresh rate monitor. I personally value the higher refresh rate over the higher resolution. My 4k monitor is actually difficult for me to use, because it feels like the software has not caught up to the resolution yet. Very little is optimized for 4k desktops, yet.
kbutler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am far from an Apple fan boy, but I am so glad they are pushing the move for resolutions higher than 1920x1080, where monitors were stuck for far too long.
pdknsk 1 day ago 2 replies      
When Dell announced their 5K monitor (which does almost certainly have the same panel, albeit probably not the same circuitry) about a month ago, barely anyone registered. This show the brand power and marketing might of Apple I guess.


rsync 1 day ago 6 replies      
For. The. Love. Of. God., where is the retina macbook air ?

Are we 3.5 years, or 4 years now since the original retina macbook was introduced ?

fynd 11 hours ago 1 reply      
5K is great an all, if your GPU and connection interface can handle it.

It takes roughly 17.2Gbps of bandwidth to drive a 4K @ 60 fps signal in a single stream (Single Stream Transport); DisplayPort 1.2 has just enough bandwidth to support a single 4K @ 60 fps SST stream, but 5K is far too large for the standard. This iMac comes stock with an R9-M290X(2012 GPU) which supports up to DisplayPort 1.2. To get the bandwidth needed for 5k@60hz on DP1.2, Apple would have to overclock the DisplayPort signal by 50-100% on single stream transport.

It seems like the M295X upgrade is a necessity for this thing to render well.

72deluxe 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Very impressive. I notice that the new Mac Mini has dropped in price to 300 here in the UK, although of a significantly lower (rubbish) spec than the lowest model we've seen before. If this runs fine, it looks like an attempt to make inroads into the "PC" market, as 300 + a screen is really in the economy PC market area, no?
vidyesh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It is great for media professionals to have such a great display but consumer level isn't this bad? Isn't anyone concerned how horrible all our exiting media will look at this resolution? By horrible I mean, windowed of course would look excellent but beyond a certain size not so much maybe?

Most media consumption is done on 1080p or below, not everyone is fortunate to stream 2K or 4K content yet and we are pushing to 5K.

swframe 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder if apple will prevent rendering at full resolution like the retina macbook pros because the max font/icon size for many apps is too small.This would mean you are paying for a screen that can't render at the new fancy resolution because the resulting info would be too small to resolve by most people.

Many computer users suffer from eye strain because they have to stare to resolve the information; their eyes dry and then each blink causes tiny scratches which over time causes serious damage.

KobaQ 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmmm, impressive. But I (honest question) wonder how this will handle blu rays or other full HD content at full screen? All those pixels need to be interpolated an 60 (50) Hz ...

Highly peronal: I hate all the marketing retina HD bla bla shit from Apple, but I love these beautiful iMacs. I want one :-).

Xcelerate 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. I've been waiting for a screen like that for a decade now. My first Mac purchase (retina display Macbook) was made only on the basis of the screen, and I don't regret it at all. I hope they come out with a standalone display soon, but I'll have to upgrade my laptop I guess to power it. I don't think the current MBPR's can even drive a 5K screen?
sremani 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have Lenovo Y50 4K and use Seiki 50-inch TV 4k TV which I sometimes use it as a monitor for my machine. 4K resolution is amazing but there is definitely diminishing returns. I am sure 5K would be definitely amazing but do not expect a lot if you are power user or a programmer. Designer and other artistic folks may have more to mine here.
ttty 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar screen would make win display correctly? From past experience windows is a mess at scaling when the DPI is high.
lazyjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the specs, but am wondering whether it is as quiet as a 2008 iMac 24" (I have one now). The parts are probably rated a bit higher TDP-wise. Any experiences yet, is there a noisy fan?
ambler0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone figured out what the refresh rate of this display is going to be?
Kiro 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this mean you have to do stuff differently when adapting your website for retina?
Robadob 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that they have dropped NVidia graphics, hopefully they won't for the rmbp line in spring seeing as I'm hoping to buy one then for CUDA development.
activeplum 1 day ago 0 replies      
The specs for the new retina iMac claim it supports an external display @3840x2160. But: 1. Will it be 60Hz? 2. Only one such display, right? Thanks.
autism_hurts 1 day ago 0 replies      
God DAMN Apple's product pages are unparalleled.
BillyParadise 1 day ago 0 replies      
Get jiggy with that parallax scrollin'
ceejayoz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whatever it is, my 2011 Macbook Pro despises it.
vans 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Master Xtrem top most over ultimate power.Penta HD 3D dolby monster hugely powerfull master.Chef sergeant ultra hydra peta wonderfull ultimately bestest....To the max !...

throw up

visarga 22 hours ago 3 replies      
MacBook Air 11'' - scrolls smoothly in Chrome

MacBookPro 13'' Retina - choppy scroll in Chrome

So, the more advanced, 4x higher pixel count laptop was the worst in speed.

smenko 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Samsung had this in bla bla....
fuzzythinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Spec doesn't show what resolutions are supported...
rmbe 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the average power draw is.
thegenius 1 day ago 0 replies      
bogomipz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does each new Apple product really need a separate post on HN? Is there not enough media coverage on this stuff elsewhere?
activeplum 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can anyone tell me please will my 2013 Mac Pro handle two such new iMacs just as external displays at 60 Hz? Thanks.
ultrabenosaurus 19 hours ago 1 reply      
5K? Seriously? This shouldn't make me anywhere near as furious as it has done. Fucking Apple, yet again, does whatever they can to make sure their users aren't compatible with the rest of the world.
adnam 1 day ago 1 reply      
_ 6 apple.com links on the homepage
activeplum 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anyone tell me please will my 2013 Mac Pro handle two such new iMacs at external displays at 60 Hz? Thanks.
skrowl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Funny how in their keynote they went on and on about how having a high resolution display is great... a month after they released the sub 1080p iPhone 6.
call 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can really FEEL the retina with this page.


Why Inequality Matters
585 points by mhb  1 day ago   441 comments top 50
r0h1n 1 day ago 15 replies      
I must say Bill Gates, in his post Microsoft avatar, continues to surprise me constantly. This is a refreshingly candid and sanguine review of Piketty's book from someone who was a ruthless capitalist not so long ago.

Gates rightly (and self-servingly) also points out that Piketty does not consider philanthropy as a means to correct some of capitalism's imbalances. Here's a few of Gates' conclusions:

> Piketty is right that there are forces that can lead to snowballing wealth (including the fact that the children of wealthy people often get access to networks that can help them land internships, jobs, etc.). However, there are also forces that contribute to the decay of wealth, and Capital doesnt give enough weight to them.

> I am also disappointed that Piketty focused heavily on data on wealth and income while neglecting consumption altogether. Consumption data represent the goods and services that people buyincluding food, clothing, housing, education, and healthand can add a lot of depth to our understanding of how people actually live. Particularly in rich societies, the income lens really doesnt give you the sense of what needs to be fixed.

> Pikettys favorite solution is a progressive annual tax on capital, rather than income. He argues that this kind of tax will make it possible to avoid an endless inegalitarian spiral while preserving competition and incentives for new instances of primitive accumulation.

> I agree that taxation should shift away from taxing labor. It doesnt make any sense that labor in the United States is taxed so heavily relative to capital. It will make even less sense in the coming years, as robots and other forms of automation come to perform more and more of the skills that human laborers do today.

But rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think wed be best off with a progressive tax on consumption. Think about the three wealthy people I described earlier: One investing in companies, one in philanthropy, and one in a lavish lifestyle. Theres nothing wrong with the last guy, but I think he should pay more taxes than the others. As Piketty pointed out when we spoke, it's hard to measure consumption (for example, should political donations count?). But then, almost every tax systemincluding a wealth taxhas similar challenges.

Like Piketty, Im also a big believer in the estate tax. Letting inheritors consume or allocate capital disproportionately simply based on the lottery of birth is not a smart or fair way to allocate resources. As Warren Buffett likes to say, thats like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics. I believe we should maintain the estate tax and invest the proceeds in education and researchthe best way to strengthen our country for the future.

michaelvkpdx 1 day ago 6 replies      
I appreciate Gates' analysis of Piketty, but Gates is still blind to an important point- he came from a middle-class background and therefore had enough capital to gain a footing in the world and to be able to write his initial code without worrying about the basic needs of survival.

40% of youth in the USA today do not even have that, and as such, have virtually no chance at all of being able to even play in the capitalist economy. They will be successful if they avoid homelessness and hunger, which will be a daily struggle.

Gates, Buffett, and others who claim to be philanthropists work from a point of ignorance, believing that all youth at least have their basic needs covered by this society. They are blind. Piketty at least acknowledges the underclasses.

These so-called philanthropists depend on the existence of a permanent underclass to support their "charity".

I was raised on the edges of this underclass and even today, after 20 years in the business doing quite well, I worry every day that I will soon be homeless or hungry. I have no inheritance to count on,other than debt from my family. The idea of taking a couple of months without income to make a startup is laughable- how would I eat and make my house payment? Most of the peers from my youth are on public assistance, in jail, ill, or worse. They are easy prey for the tech titans, who fill their eyes with glittery visions that make them forget their hunger and cold. This is in the Bay Area, mind you, less than 20 miles from the Valley.

Gates' idea of a consumption tax would heavily penalize these people, who have been enslaved into a consumer lifestyle by the wealthy who exercise control over their lives.

The whole "inequality" debate laments the demise of the middle class. But it never acknowledges the permanent underclass that is a necessary component of a society that can take the time for the inequality debate.

I got out, though you never lose the psychic clutches of abject poverty. Most folks never get out.

ska 1 day ago 4 replies      
"I dont see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since."

What you do see though, in the same Fortune 400 list is that 6 of the top 10 people on that list didn't build their companies (in the sense that Bill Gates did), they inherited them.

I don't know how much the current crop Kochs or Waltons are responsible for the current success of their ventures, but this is the type of thing I believe Piketty had in mind as much as the "parcels of land" approach. Also rent seeking is a problem distinct from a rentier class.

Can you argue convincingly that these people would have been just as successful without the advantages of their births? I suspect that would be quite difficult.

ap22213 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I dont see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since."

Piketty makes it clear that America is a special case because of all of the 'almost free' capital in terms of land and population growth that had existed over the last couple hundred years. But, he claims that America in the future will more resemble Europe of the last few hundred years.

Also, although Gates claims that half of the richest people in the US have gotten rich from their businesses (I haven't checked if that's true), he almost ignores the fact that most of these richest people have come from upper middle class background, at the least. He also ignores the huge number of richest people who have attained their wealth from financial instruments.

chollida1 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just a heads up about the book. Its dense, like a Nassim Taleb book dense. it took me over a month to get through it so if you choose to read it, its not a weekend read.

If you want the highlights, this economist article does as decent a job of summarizing 400+ pages as you can hope for in 4 paragraphs.


As for the content, the main take away, is his r > g argument which is illustrated by the following chart:


One of his other big ideas Bill hits on is his tax on captial. Bill proposes a tax on consumption instead.

> But rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think wed be best off with a progressive tax on consumption.

Maybe not surprisingly since I work in finance, most of my colleges are on Bill's side and not Piketty's here. To be fair to Piketty, he chose a tax on capital because he's coming from a perspective of how do we prevent the accumulation of wealth over generations, where as Bill is coming at it from how do we raise enough taxes to pay for the the services the government needs to provide.

I would recommend reading this book, its clearly a labor of love for him and he's spent the time to back it up with data, just don't expect to agree with all his conclusions.

vannevar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Contrary to Pikettys rentier hypothesis, I dont see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since.

Bill, you didn't read far enough into the Forbes 400 article, which says:

"We didnt include dispersed family fortunes. Those appeared on our Americas Richest Families list, which came out in July."

That money from 1780 is far from 'long gone.' In fact, most wealthy people started life rich and got richer, largely because they could afford to place bigger bets in life and take advantage of opportunities for labor-free capital gains that simply aren't available to people born without capital.Contrary to Gates' assertion, a 2012 study found that two thirds of the Forbes 400 were born wealthy (http://www.faireconomy.org/bornonthirdbase2012).

plehoux 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gates described three personas :

1. One guy is putting his capital into building his business2. A woman whos giving most of her wealth to charity3. A third person is mostly consuming, spending a lot of money on things like a yacht and plane

All three actually spend their wealth. The problem with extreme inequality is that really wealthy people can invest, give and spent AND still sit on massive amount of wealth that get past to the next generation.

A progressive tax on consumption wouldn't be enough to fight this.

One core argument of Piketty is that the actual debate has been highly distorted by the massive wealth redistribution that happen in consequence of the first two world wars, something Gates doesn't acknowledge in his review.

[UPDATE] I overlooked the estate tax Gates proposed in his review.

netcan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bill gates is impressive. It's a hard subject to stay objective with. The validity of the data has some level of uncertainty (by its nature). The interpretation of the data too. I have yet to find an explanation (by Pickety or others) that made me understand the mechanics of the "Snowball Effect" at the centre of it all: 'r > g.' Once you get into the soup of morality and policy, well

I like how he starts with the things he broadly agrees with. Even just agreeing that extremely uneven distribution is a problem and why, gives us a starting point. I personally take a slightly Marxist view on this. I don't think that extremely uneven distribution is politically stable, or compatible with democracy.

I am slightly doubtful of taxation as a solution. Taxation is stuck really. The problem is that most tax regimes are designed to maximize tax revenue while minimizing damage to the economy.

Consumption/sales taxes, income taxes and other middle class taxes are convenient in that they are very hard for people to avoid and they don't affect behavior much. marginal income tax of up to 60% is generally assumed to have a negligible effect on how much people work.

A 1% annual tax on wealth equates to a $10m annual cost of living in a country for a billionaire. Would they move (themselves and/or their wealth) to avoid it? Can some of that $10m be used to find ways of avoiding the rest of it?

I think that ultimately, wealth accumulation needs to change in order to change the structure of the economy.

Also, I like that Gates considers cultural norms, not just policy. What Gates & Buffet have committed to is a partial solution. If 20-30% of billionaires do this, it might be enough to change overall distribution somewhat.

In any case, more questions than answers.

bsbechtel 1 day ago 6 replies      
>High levels of inequality are a problemmessing up economic incentives, tilting democracies in favor of powerful interests, and undercutting the ideal that all people are created equal.

I agree with generally all of Gates' thoughts here, but there are two actors to consider when discussing how to address problems associated with inequality - the government, and those who own capital. There is an implicit assumption by both Gates and Piketty that a government is always powerful enough to control what portion of wealth flows to capital owners, and what portion flows to labor.

The risk with a powerful government that can do this is it can be bought. A perfect example of this is Gates own story with The Common Core. From everything I've read, his own foundation basically bankrolled the lobbying, acceptance, and implementation of this program, much to the dismay of many educators I know. As long as a democracy bequeaths power to its government, there will be moneyed interests lining up to tilt that power in their favor.

The other option is to limit the power the government has to control the flow of wealth. No one wants to buy a democracy that doesn't have any power to protect their interests. What ends up happening is wealthy actors have to figure out other ways to maintain their wealth - consumption in things like yachts and fancy cars goes down and investment goes up. As investment goes up, g goes up because that investment is creating more jobs and more competition for employees, and r goes down because the capital markets become flooded.

selmnoo 1 day ago 3 replies      

    I fully agree that we dont want to live in an aristocratic society in which     already-wealthy families get richer simply by sitting on their laurels and     collecting what Piketty calls rentier incomethat is, the returns people earn     when they let others use their money, land, or other property. But I dont think     America is anything close to that.    Take a look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. About half    the people on the list are entrepreneurs whose companies did very well     (thanks to hard work as well as a lot of luck). Contrary to Pikettys     rentier hypothesis, I dont see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a     great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by     collecting rents ever since. In America, that old money is long gonethrough     instability, inflation, taxes, philanthropy, and spending.
This was a little disappointing to read. Rentier income, in the context of the book I think includes passed down positions in which the children of the rich continue receiving that high income. That is to say, could the current owners of Walmart have been individuals other than the direct descendants of Sam Walton? If they had been other individuals chosen by a meritocratic criteria and process, Gates' point would stand. As-is, it does not.

GuiA 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Take a look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. About half the people on the list are entrepreneurs whose companies did very well (thanks to hard work as well as a lot of luck). Contrary to Pikettys rentier hypothesis, I dont see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since. In America, that old money is long gonethrough instability, inflation, taxes, philanthropy, and spending.

The USA are somewhat of an edge case here due to their youth. Look at older countries, such as France (where Piketty and I are from) and you'll see a marked difference.

k-mcgrady 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been meaning to get a copy of this for a while. When it first came out there were a lot of people shouting he (Piketty) was wrong and there were problems with the data and other people shouting that those first people were idiots. The debate continued even after Piketty released more data in his defence. That shouting put me off a bit. It was nice to read a balanced review from someone I respect and I'm definitely going to read it soon.
jotm 1 day ago 1 reply      
"A third person is mostly consuming, spending a lot of money on things like a yacht and plane. While its true that the wealth of all three people is contributing to inequality, I would argue that the first two are delivering more value to society than the third."

Really? I always considered this kind of spending a good thing for society. Other businesses and people get that money, they create technology, materials and processes that would likely not exist otherwise, there's still tax being paid along the way and we get a bit of cultural heritage as a bonus (castles, boats, planes, cars, the Sistine Chapel, a lot of paintings - all of which exists only because some rich man decided he wanted it).

Taxing luxury is a mistake and a potential slippery slope IMO. IIRC, the US tried it in the past with disappointing results.

esfandia 1 day ago 4 replies      
Philanthropy strikes me as anti-democratic. Why should the rich get to choose which causes are more deserving of their generosity? Let the elected government pool the money and make this determination.
CharlesGust 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bill Gates gives sound reasons for maintaining the estate tax, and I agree with the general proposition of having something like a consumption tax. But, I have a different take on the social utility of capital transfers.

Yes, what you invest in you tend to get more of. But, each capital transfer does not destroy the capital. So, if you are buying a yacht, that capital goes to the designer, the builders, the welders, the suppliers, etc. Now, the point is that these people now have their own choices to do something with the capital received. Some of it will go for food, some of it will go for BBQ grills, some of it will go for big screen TV's. And, then the people receiving that capital will make their choices ad infinitum.

(Perhaps a performance artist alighting a million dollars in cash would actually destroy capital. They are undoubtedly more examples of waste)

I guess I can still see the incentives that would be built into a tax system (as they are built into ANY tax system) to alleviate what may otherwise be burdens on government into encouraging more social utility. But, I just wanted to emphasize that it is not that luxury spending has NO social utility, it just diffuses the social utility into multiple second order spending decisions.

mgulaid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Economists don't consider philanthropy a strong factor in economic development or advancement. Philanthropy IMHO has never contributed significantly to lift millions of people out of poverty. Although Gates Foundation and similar NGOs are doing wonderful deeds in Africa and the USA, it will not have the same impact as tax structure/incentives, trade policy, labor laws, access to education, immigration laws, etc. Also how do you define philanthropy, the work of the Koch brothers can be considered philanthropic in some peoples' opinions. Philanthropy is personal and political exercise.

I think philanthropy is great, but only few people are doing it. And those who do it, dont do it effectively, do it too late, or focus on the symptoms rather on the causes, which are much harder to deal with. Philanthropy has become an accessory or a career suffix for those have got lucky.

Gates talks about the middle class in China and else where is getting bigger. True, but philanthropic has little to do with this improvement. Aggressive and central economic management, and free trade policy with the US helped above mentioned countries to sustain a healthy middle income class in China, Mexico, Colombia.

grondilu 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I fully agree that we dont want to live in an aristocratic society in which already-wealthy families get richer simply by sitting on their laurels and collecting what Piketty calls rentier incomethat is, the returns people earn when they let others use their money, land, or other property.

This is debatable. For one, aristocracy is not exactly this, as it is a system based on the notion of privilege, not just wealth. Concretely, it often means the same but still, using the word is quite misleading.

Secondly, one may argue that people, and thus families, should have the right to build stuff in the very long term, that is in a multi-generational way. Even if this thing they build is merely a framework of financial comfort. I doubt anyone would question the morality of offering gifts to children. So it's not clear to me why it would be wrong to give a child the means not to worry about money in life, and do it recursively through centuries.

taeric 1 day ago 1 reply      
"For example, a medical student with no income and lots of student loans would look in the official statistics like shes in a dire situation but may well have a very high income in the future."

Not that I really disagree with the point here, but I can't help but wonder whether or not the people in the categories he listed exist in large enough numbers to get out of the noise category. Heck, I would think there are about as many literal lottery winners as there are folks in this category.

penprog 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why would we want to tax consumption of the wealthy (or anyone)? Don't we want to promote spending? The tax code should reward those that make investments, purchases, and donations. Not punish them. They should punish those that sit on their wealth and do nothing with it.
tn13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whether or not inequality is a problem can be debated but we must be beware of that "I am from Government and I am here to help" trap.

--- Governments can play a constructive role in offsetting the snowballing tendencies if and when they choose to do so. --

Governments of course could play a constructive role into many things just the way my son could spend more time doing math instead of watching cartoons. The sad problem about human beings is that unless they get something out of it they wont do anything. Government have a strong incentive to tax everyone more and more in the name of inequality and environment but they have 0 incentive to anything about inequality using that money.

I would rather live in a world with extreme inequality rather than a world where government is trying to bring "equality".

sharemywin 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is where it gets complicated for me. Gates value judges the rich person spending money on a yacht and plane. Planes and yachts are pretty complicated gadgets that employ a lot of engineers and others. The plane makers technology might even contribute to some other kind of businesses similar to the space program in the sixties and seventies. Where as tech companies sitting on piles of cash because they don't know how to spend it seems like a bad use of capital to me.
mempko 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am going to repeat here, what I posted on hist site.

Mr Gates,

I am hoping you posted this not only to express your opinion, but to engage in conversation. And it appears you certainly are.

My criticism with your response is that philanthropy distorts economic resources through a similar mechanism that consumption does.

That is, by dictate.

I believe in the idea that people who are affected by decisions made should have a say in those decisions. This is the value of democracy.

And just like consumption of fine wine and jewelry distorts the economy to produce more of those things, philanthropy moves vast economic resources for what I would call "the pet projects of philanthropists". Typically the people affected by the philanthropic expenditures have no say. More often than not, no democracy processes take place.

A king who lives a modest lifestyle, who spends all his wealth on what HE thinks is just and good, is still a king. And I hold contempt for his arrogance.

quantumf 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So Gates wants heavy taxes on consumers, but no taxes on entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Interesting. I wonder which of these categories applies to Gates?
zachrose 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"Imagine three types of wealthy people. One guy is putting his capital into building his business. Then theres a woman whos giving most of her wealth to charity. A third person is mostly consuming, spending a lot of money on things like a yacht and plane. While its true that the wealth of all three people is contributing to inequality, I would argue that the first two are delivering more value to society than the third."

Of course buying yourself things you don't need delivers less value to society than commerce or philanthropy. Of course. Absolutely.

But maybe...

Maybe buying yourself things gives you the chance to have unique experiences. Maybe hitting golf balls into the ocean from the deck of your megayacht gives you the relaxing moment you need to figure out how to boost profits by 300%. Maybe doing a ton of blow and driving a Jaguar give you the necessary experiences to write awesome rock tunes that inspire millions. Maybe if Galileo Galilei hadn't bought himself a lump of clear glass in 1609 we wouldn't know about space.

stuaxo 12 hours ago 1 reply      
He mentions three kinds of wealthy person and what they spend most of their money on.

Surely the 4th is the most important - the one who is NOT spending most of their money.

harmonicon 1 day ago 3 replies      
I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates because of his philanthropic efforts. However, I am very skeptical of the consumption tax argument. To me that sounds like a sales tax and sales tax is regressive. i.e. Tax on French baguette hits the poor more than the rich, since as a group they consume way more baguette.

Even if it is just a special sales tax that targets the rich only, discouraging spending by people with money can hardly be a good thing; that's how recession happen and the rich will continue to capture a bigger share of the total wealth. For an economy to flourish we need the wealth to flow from individual to individual. If all the water on earth is stuck in the ocean we'd have serious problem. Same with wealth.

Joeboy 1 day ago 5 replies      
> I think wed be best off with a progressive tax on consumption

In theory I like the idea of a "tax on consumption", because it suggests a penalty on conspicuous consumption and wasteful spending. In practice, taxes on consumption are seen as regressive, ie. they affect the poor more than the rich. Is there a way to tax "bad" consumption, without penalizing people who "consume" a large proportion of their income simply because they don't have much of it? I'm picturing some byzantine tax code system where functionaries make value judgements about the morality of various kinds of goods.

spenrose 1 day ago 0 replies      
Piketty cites 1914->1945 over and over in his book as the one period when r < g, and discusses the implications for his theory over dozens of pages. Yet Gates somehow seems to think WWI and the Great Depression are a gotcha! he has come up with.

Gates: "Far more peopleincluding many rentiers who invested their family wealth in the auto industrysaw their investments go bust in the period from 1910 to 1940, when the American auto industry shrank from 224 manufacturers down to 21. So instead of a transfer of wealth toward rentiers and other passive investors, you often get the opposite."

lsiebert 1 day ago 0 replies      
Okay, I want to talk a little bit about how wealthy people would benefit in a more egalitarian society. But if we assume they are objectivist, there are some issues.

It's difficult to do so, because it's hard to say what can benefit a person who is wealthy already.

I mean I can point to data that suggests that people who earn better wages, get headstart, have libraries in their community, get a college education, etc are less likely to commit crimes, but your wealth probably means that you can afford good security.

I can say that in a more egalitarian society, vaccinations would be free, and thus you are your children are less likely to get diseases, but you have good health care, and so this isn't a huge issue.

So I guess the best way is to point out that in a more egalitarian society with free or low cost education and funding for research, general progress in the sciences would happen faster. You get better medicine, better technology, can potentially live longer. Also such an economy will grow more quickly, and while if there were more stringent taxes you may not gain as much of the pie as you could, a bigger pie would cancel that out.

pastProlog 23 hours ago 0 replies      
At some point in the Matrix movies, Neo learns he is not the first Neo. If you read Hegel, you learn that capitalism is not the first economic system. It was preceded by feudalism, which was preceded by the slave latifundia of Rome and Babylon which was preceded by the hunter-gatherer bands that the world was solely covered with 10,000 years ago. Hegel saw enlightened, capitalist Prussia as the epitome of human civilization, but like those biologists who note that even humans are still evolving, Marx and Engels noted that the fourth economic system the world had thrown up might not be the last one, and that crises (like the one we had in 2008) were signs of the cancer it was dying from.

The interview question on stages nowadays seems to be what does someone believe in that is not commonly believed, and I supposed the out idea now is the people who control production, the people who own capital are not interested in economy growing as fast as it sustainably can. They want a slower rate of growth in order to maintain more control of the system. This idea not only goes against current economic thinking, and investor's chasing of maximum returns, it's an anti-Marxist idea as well. It seems to be happening though. It's why people like Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold pour money into patent companies. It's why the joint chiefs of staff beg the Congress to cut funding for old Cold War tank factories every time the military budget comes up, but the billions for useless tanks, or the hundreds of billions for the designed by committee F-35 boondoggle etc.

As Marx notes, something like a "war on poverty" is a joke, since people are not only purposefully kept poor but purposefully thrown into poverty, like during the enclosure of the commons in Europe. A surplus army of labor is a major tool to keep workers from keeping more of the wealth they create.

Sooner or later, the good ship USS Wall Street will inevitably run aground, and the economy will grind to a halt in a way that will make modern Greece or 1930s USA look good. Then it will just be a question of what working class people and professionals do in their new situation. It's not really the working class people, who are familiar enough with reality, who one has to wonder about, it's more the US professional classes, who are more highly indoctrinated than probably any group of people in the world. I hold my mouth in awe as I hear US professionals pontificating about things going on half-way around the world in which they know absolutely nothing about. NPR is ultimately a heavier propaganda outlet than Der Strmer, or Fox News.

bigdubs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't read the book, and not sure Gates reaction covers this.

It's fine to have a progressive tax. That progressive tax becomes useless if you gut entitlement spending and instead spend on programs or services where the money ends up back in major corporations hands (defense spending, private contracting etc.)

In order for a progressive tax to be corrective it has to put the money to work for people in the lower end of the tax curve.

ajcarpy2005 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the comments on the site:>>>A poor person, will spend all his income on consumption of food, clothes, water and all the basic things that he can pay.

>>>A rich person, will only spend a small fraction of it's income, so in the end, proportionally, poor people end paying more taxes then rich people, and that's actually something that's hurting poor people here.

^^^This seems to actually be a sensible argument for there being a problem with a simple flat consumption tax.

A solution might be to have a progressive tax on consumption which becomes more meaningful when levels of spending on consumption reaches a level beyond that of the lower 33% of the populace or something like this. The problem would be figuring out how to apply this tax since it couldn't be done through the sales tax as it currently exists.

IanDrake 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Imagine three types of wealthy people. One guy is putting his capital into building his business. Then theres a woman whos giving most of her wealth to charity. A third person is mostly consuming, spending a lot of money on things like a yacht and plane. While its true that the wealth of all three people is contributing to inequality, I would argue that the first two are delivering more value to society than the third."

The problem with this line of thinking is that yachts and planes don't grow on trees. They're built and maintained by people who have jobs (typically well paid jobs) because someone with wealth is paying for it.

So, to me at least, there is only one type of wealthy person who doesn't add value and that is the hoarder.

ash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Philip Greenspun has written a whole series of posts reviewing this book: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2014/06/17/book-review-pi...
clairity 22 hours ago 0 replies      
i think what gates is ultimately saying is that "good" wealth (gates's main concern, since he's rather invested in the topic) has a potentially higher multiplier effect than bad (wealth solely used for consumption).

so in his example, investors and philanthropists have more volatility around the potential effects of their wealth, so the multiplier can be >1, <1, or =1, but the key is that it can be >1, which means that it can be value generating. consumers' multipliers are necessarily <= 1.

as an aside, i'm also intrigued by the idea of economic velocity as an indicator of economic health (as opposed to the gini coefficient, which is a rather static measure) that's tangentially related to the idea of economic inequality. of course, for capital to have a stabilizing effect on the economy, it needs to have a high dispersion coefficient, but that's another discussion.

georgeecollins 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like his comparison of how the emergence of the auto industry was a way new wealth was created by entrepreneurs and old wealth was destroyed through bad investments. He says he sees a similarity in tech booms. There is a real value in the frothyness of tech bubbles. Capital can't accumulate forever. People need to be convinced to make bad investments. In that sense unsuccessful VCs serve a useful purpose.
foobarqux 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't understand how someone so intelligent can misread Piketty so badly. For example, Gates focuses on individuals in some of his critiques but Piketty is talking about classes of wealth, the constituents of which may change but, Piketty argues, whose characteristics do not.
pappyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
For a more in depth review of Piketty's book, I posted a review I found a while back.


rumcajz 1 day ago 1 reply      
In what way would consumption tax address capital accumulation?

Also, using 1910-1940 period as an example to show that Piketty is wrong doesn't make much sense given that Piketty's data show that inequality have actually lowered in that particular period.

jokoon 1 day ago 0 replies      
> wealth decays

I don't understand this. I mean you just get poor much quicker when you have less wealth. I understand that you don't stay rich, but it secures your kid's futures.

mkempe 1 day ago 2 replies      
Gates, and Piketty, would benefit from considering the insights of the Austrian school of economics, instead of accepting then regurgitating Marx & Engels with a veneer of civilized discourse. Neither seems to have read a single page of Ludwig von Mises or Eugen von Bhm-Bawerk. Piketty certainly quotes Marx ad nauseam.

George Reisman has offered a thorough critique [1] of Piketty's arguments -- arguing across a range of topics, from David Ricardo's insights in the role and formation of capital to the meaning and value of inequality in both income and wealth.

[1] http://georgereismansblog.blogspot.com/2014/07/pikettys-capi...

cyphunk 1 day ago 0 replies      

    And when does inequality start doing more harm than good?
First up, please explain when inequality does any good

michaelochurch 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "r > g" debate is interesting. I think the problem is more subtle than that.

One of the problems is that people get different r's. Just look at VC firms. A pension fund that invests in venture capital funds gets mediocre returns: nothing much better than they'd get from an index fund, and often less. VC partners collect 2-and-20 and get to allocate favors (because it can benefit their careers to make decisions that are suboptimal for the portfolio, and they often do). The "real r" in that engine might be higher (if VCs focused on technical excellence rather than their own careers, I think we'd see quite a respectable r) but the delivered r is mediocre. That's just one example.

To go further, and I don't know how to solve this: if you have good relationships with various counterparties (especially, banks) you can get a low-risk r > 15% in arbitrage. Contrary to stereotype, arbitrage is neither risky (it's low in risk, and most arbitrage blow-ups occur because some hotshot trader got bored and started taking unauthorized positions) nor is it socially harmful (it provides liquidity to markets, which is a good thing). It is, however, not open to most people.

There are many things that cause "wealth decay" or normalization. I'll name four. Hyperinflation and violent revolution are the most disruptive (sorry San Francisco, but disruption is a bad thing). Taxation is the smoothest but can be ineffective (loopholes). Wealth management is yet a fourth: at some point, a large fortune has management overhead and, as its owners become less interested in day-to-day running of the money, much of that excess "r" goes to the agents than to them.

As for "r >? g", I'd prefer two things. First: I'd like that everyone have access to the same r, but I don't know how to achieve that. Second, g isn't constant. World economic growth is 4.5% per year. I believe that it could be 8% or 10% with some heavy R&D investment, and with better (and, quite frankly, smarter) people running the world. The all-time record high for world GDP growth is 5.7% in the 1960s, but we have so much more technology, and the shape of economic growth is (while I don't believe in a "singularity" of the theatrical sense) faster-than-exponential.

Even now, we have a world in which programmers (not 10x or 2.0+ engineers, but just regular programmers) become 10-12% more productive each year due to tool improvements. Motivated, ambitious programmers can do 30% per year. The bad news is that it's almost impossible for a programmer to grow her income at any rate near that. In fact, as she becomes more experienced, she's also more specialized and dependent on her employers (or clients) for great projects. They'll pay her pennies on the dollar relative to what she's worth, that charge being for the "favor" of allocating the good work. The reason why 10x engineers only make 1.3-1.5x salaries (until they become consultants, at which point it's more like 2-3x) is that their employers are very good at playing the "we can give you a raise, or we can give you career-positive work" game.

The software economy is at the fore of what's happening to other industries, but people in most sectors are a good deal poorer. We're comfortable upper-working class people complaining about our slide into the upper-middle-working class, but people outside of tech don't have anything to lose.

What we actually need to focus on is g, and r_labor. We want a high r_capital and an even higher r_labor. Sadly, badly managed economic growth tends to make r_labor negative. That happened in the American 1920s with agricultural commodities (contributing to spiral rural poverty, which led to the Great Depression) and it's happening to all human labor in the 2010s.

ommunist 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's easy! Inequality matters until some people are more equal than the others.
lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not your average book review ("Piketty kindly spoke to me on a Skype call ...")

And oddly chimes very well with my own views on Piketty. (Yeah, me and billg, great minds you know:-)

The Tl;dr is perhaps rd >g is a better formula where d is rate of decay of wealth. And "yes we need a wealth tax, can we make policy to differentiate between good wealth (used for socially beneficial purposes) and bad wealth (yachts, coke and hookers)

I agree but that is a solution to late - "if we have robber barons we should encourage them to be philanthropists" is missing opportunities to use regulation and competition and externality pricing to flatten the profits accruing to monopoly holders and so reduce the amount of wealth horsing in the first place.

That said nice piece, and billg still gets my vote for top ten nicest billionaire.

squozzer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think what people miss about consumption taxes - beyond its' regressive nature - is that everything in the end is a form of consumption.The distinction between capital, labor, and consumption is false - it only has meaning once you account for expected outcome.

Capital = purchases expected to generate a profit.Labor = purchases expected to generate work. It need not generate a profit necessarily - e.g. paying someone to mow your lawn.Consumption = purchases expected to generate pleasure, or avoid pain.

I'm sure the basis of these distinctions rest on some idea of social utility - that trying to turn a profit has more social utility than eating a Twinkie. Maybe we should examine that assumption also.

And consider how these notions entangle themselves in practice. A company car intended for non-personal use is considered an asset to the company, and treated as capital. But a similar car used for commuting is considered a consumption item.

auggierose 1 day ago 0 replies      
r > g is not an equation, it's an inequality
PythonicAlpha 1 day ago 2 replies      
Must be some American specialty. At the end, Bill Gates sees Philanthropy as (part of a) solution. This must have something to do with the US-American history and background? I heard that opinion so often and we are in deed in an era of big philanthropists (like Bill himself). But I (no American, and maybe missing some genetics for it) can not see any solution in it. The biggest philanthropists today are in the US, but also the US is one of the countries, where inequality rises fastest. So, by this viewing alone, there must rise some doubts about it.

Also, you could compare philanthropy with the "foreign aid" that western countries give to poorer ones for decades now. Did it help? In many cases, it made things worse, because the money did not help the people to help themselves, but made them addicted to the aid.

The point is also that philanthropy -- as it might silence the own conscience -- is often the overflow of the overflow. We give, because we have more than we need and than we give what we need least. But what people really need, is not somebody that throws pennies in your hat, so you can buy some old bread -- but what they really need, are equal chances -- to be able to visit the same universities, to have the same jobs and to earn the same money as other people with the same talents.

You might argue: But Bill also fought his way from "rags to riches" -- no, that is not right. Bill already was born in a well being family and visiting visited Harvard College. With such a background, it is much easier to come from rich to riches, as if you come from Uganda slums (or even Harlem).

peter303 1 day ago 1 reply      
ironical from a multiple times convicted monopolist
naland 1 day ago 0 replies      
Gates on notes in vinyl oh boy Girl you know it's true.And I blame myself can't read this.
My Philosophy on Alerting: Observations of a Site Reliability Engineer at Google
563 points by ismavis  4 days ago   119 comments top 24
beat 4 days ago 6 replies      
This reminds me of an excellent talk my friend Dan Slimmon gave called "Car Alarms and Smoke Alarms". He relates monitoring to the concepts of sensitivity and specificity in medical testing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitivity_and_specificity). Sensitivity is about the likelihood that your monitor will detect the error condition. Specificity is about the likelihood that it will not create false alarms.

Think about how people react to smoke alarms versus car alarms. When the smoke alarm goes off, people mostly follow the official procedure. When car alarms go off, people ignore them. Why? Car alarms have very poor specificity.

I'd add another layer of car alarms are Not My Problem, but that's just me and not part of Dan's excellent original talk.

falcolas 4 days ago 6 replies      
> Err on the side of removing noisy alerts over-monitoring is a harder problem to solve than under-monitoring.

Absolutely this. Our team is having more problems with this issue than anything else. However, there are two points which seem to contradict:

  - Pages should be [...] actionable  - Symptoms should be monitored, not causes
The problem is that can't act on symptoms, only research them and then act on the causes. If you get an alert that says the DB is down, that's an actionable page - start the DB back up. Whereas, being paged that the connections to the DB are failing is far less actionable - you have to spend precious downtime researching the actual cause first. It could be the network, it could be an intermediary proxy, or it could be the DB itself.

Now granted, if you're only catching causes, there is the possibility you might miss something with your monitoring, and if you double up on your monitoring (that is, checking symptoms as well as causes), you could get noise. That said, most monitoring solutions (such as Nagios) include dependency chains, so you get alerted on the cause, and the symptom is silenced while the cause is in an error condition. And if you missed a cause, you still get the symptom alert and can fill your monitoring gaps from there.

Leave your research for the RCA and following development to prevent future downtime. When stuff is down, a SA's job is to get it back up.

praptak 4 days ago 2 replies      
Having your application reviewed by SREs who are going to support it is a legendary experience. They have no motivation to be gentle.

It changes the mindset from "Failure? Just log an error, restore some 'good'-ish state and move on to the next cool feature." towards "New cool feature? What possible failures will it cause? How about improving logging and monitoring on our existing code instead?"

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great writeup. Should be in any operations handbook. One of the challenges I've found has been dynamic urgency, which is to say something is urgent when it first comes up, but now that its known and being addressed it isn't urgent anymore, unless there is something else going on we don't know about.

Example you get a server failure which affects a service, and you begin working on replacing that server with a backup, but a switch is also dropping packets and so you are getting alerts on degraded service (symptom) but believe you are fixing that cause (down server) when in fact you will still have a problem after the server is restored. So my challenge is figuring out how to alert on that additional input in a way that folks won't just say "oh yeah, this service, we're working on it already."

jakozaur 4 days ago 2 replies      
That's harder problem than I originally realized. It's easy to write noisy alerts, super easy to not have them (or not catching some issues).

It's hard to tune them so signal to noise ratio will be high.

jonbarker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Where I work, at a mobile ad network, they put everyone on call on a rotating basis even if they are not devops or server engineers. We use Pager Duty and it works well. Since there is always a primary and secondary on call person, and the company is pretty small and technical, everyone feels "responsible" during their shifts, and at least one person is capable of handling rare, catastrophic events. I often wonder which is more important: good docs on procedures for failure modes or a heightened sense of responsibility. A good analogy may be the use of commercial airline pilots. They can override autopilot, but I am told rarely do. The safest airlines are good at maintaining their heightened sense of vigilance despite the lack of the need for it 99.999% of the time.
leef 4 days ago 2 replies      
"If you want a quiet oncall rotation, it's imperative to have a system for dealing with things that need timely response, but are not imminently critical."

This is an excellent point that is missed in most monitoring setups I've seen. A classic example is some request that kills your service process. You get paged for that so you wrap the service in a supervisor like daemon. The immediate issue is fixed and, typically, any future causes of the service process dying are hidden unless someone happens to be looking at the logs one day.

I would love to see smart ways to surface "this will be a problem soon" on alerting systems.

shackattack 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for posting this! I'm on the product team at PagerDuty, and this lines up with a lot of our thinking on how to effectively design alerting + incident response. I love the line "Pages should be urgent, important, actionable, and real."
gk1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another good writeup on effective alerting, by a former Google Staff Engineer: http://blog.scalyr.com/2014/08/99-99-uptime-9-5-schedule/
Someone1234 4 days ago 9 replies      
Why does a company the size of Google even have call rotations? Shouldn't they have 24/7 shifts of reliability engineers who can manually call in additional people as and when they're needed?

I can totally understand why SMBs have rotations. They have less staff. But a monster corporation? This seems like lame penny pinching. Heck for the amount of effort they're clearly putting into automating these alerts, they could likely use the same wage-hours to just hire someone else for a shift. Heck with an international company like Google they could have UK-based staff monitoring US-based sites overnight and visa-versa. Keep everyone on 9-5 and still get 24 hour engineers at their desks.

ecaron 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the link to it as a PDF for anyone else wanting a printable copy to pin to their wall: https:/docs.google.com/document/export?format=pdf&id=199PqyG3UsyXlwieHaqbGiWVa8eMWi8zzAn0YfcApr8Q
AloisReitbauer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good article. Alerting system unfortunately are still at the same level they where decades ago. Today we work in highly distributed environments that scale dynamically and we finding symptoms is a key problem. That is why a lot of people alert on causes or anomalies. In reality they should just detect them and log them for further dependency analysis once a real problem is found. We for example differentiate between three levels of alerts: infrastructure only, application services and users. Our approach to have NO alerts at all but monitor a ton of potential anomalies. Once these anomalies have user impact we report back problem dependencies.

If you are interested you can also get my point of view from my Velocity talk on Monitoring without alerts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqqb8zEU66s. If you are interested also check out www.ruxit.com and let me know what you think of our approach.

icco 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is huge. One of the big things dev teams benefit from bringing an SRE team onto their project is learning things like this and how to run a sustainable oncall rotation.
dhpe 3 days ago 0 replies      
My startup http://usetrace.com is a web monitoring (+regression testing) tool with the "monitor for your users" philosophy mentioned in Rob's article. Monitoring is done on the application/feature level -> alerts are always about a feature visible to the users.
omouse 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was very informative, I like the idea of monitoring symptoms that are user-facing rather than causes which are devops/sysadmin/dev-facing. I'm just thankful that my next project doesn't require pager duty.
annnnd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't access the site, seems like there's some quota on docs.google.com... Does anyone have a cached version? (WebArchive can't crawl it due to robots.txt)
0xdeadbeefbabe 4 days ago 2 replies      
So I guess the author uses a smart phone as a pager, but given his passion for uptime, reliability, latency etc. I wonder if he has experimented with an actual pager.
sabmd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any alert should be for a good cause sounds good according to me.
wanted_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article @robewaschuk :)

-- Marcin, former Google SRE

lalc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to say: HN is bursting with great articles today.
peterwwillis 4 days ago 1 reply      
Most of this appears to be just end-to-end testing, and whether you're alerting on a failure of testing the entire application stack or just individual components. He probably got paged by too many individual alerts versus an actual failure to serve data, which I agree would be annoying.

In a previous position, we had a custom ticketing system that was designed to also be our monitoring dashboard. Alerts that were duplicates would become part of a thread, and each was either it's own ticket or part of a parent ticket. Custom rules would highlight or reassign parts of the dashboard, so critical recurrent alerts were promoted higher than urgent recurrent alerts, and none would go away until they had been addressed and closed with a specific resolution log. The whole thing was designed so a single noc engineer at 3am could close thousands of alerts per minute while logging the reason why, and keep them from recurring if it was a known issue. The noc guys even created a realtime console version so they could use a keyboard to close tickets with predefined responses just seconds after they were opened.

The only paging we had was when our end-to-end tests showed downtime for a user, which were alerts generated by some paid service providers who test your site around the globe. We caught issues before they happened by having rigorous metric trending tools.

jsmeaton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stop it. Your spam is obvious.
djclegit 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool
zubairismail 4 days ago 0 replies      
In todays world, 90% of bloggers rely on google for their living
The Great Robocoin Rip-off: How We Lost $25,000 Buying a Robocoin ATM
566 points by metalab  2 days ago   127 comments top 36
nikcub 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you're wondering how you should do these types of transactions without putting cash up front, the field is called trade finance.

Call your bank - most of them have a trade finance desk, or Google the term. A slightly cheaper way of doing it is to have a lawyer draft a terms of trade or supply agreement with either the funds in escrow with the firm or a bank guarantee.

Having your bank finance the trade is worthwhile as interest rates are so low at the moment. Common terms are 60, 90 or 120 day delivery with FED/LIBOR + x% (where x is the risk profile of your business - shop around to get prices) cost over the term.

The agreement would contain delivery timetables, warranties, customs clearance, liabilities, indemnities, guarantees, who pays what, etc. and you are protected legally without handing over tens of thousands of dollars or more upfront. These contracts are protected by law in almost all jurisdictions.

You don't finalize the transaction and pay for it until all conditions have been met and you have the goods in hand and have verified. The seller is trusting an international bank or a law firm escrow, and they should also have a lawyer or bank on their end (a trusted seller can receive the cash upfront for a fee with the bank picking up the risk, although I doubt any bank would finance a bitcoin atm without verified trade volume and a lower risk profile).

Talk to your lawyer and talk to your bank, having expensive items delivered without risking the full cost is a solved problem as old as finance itself and trillions of dollars annually are traded in this way. The extra $1k or so you'd pay on a $25k deal are worth it for the guarantee. If you ship goods regularly the costs are amortized as you can use the same contracts and finance suppliers. Don't deal with anybody shipping $20k+ valued products that doesn't deal with a bank trade finance desk or law firm and is instead asking for a bank transfer.

This is how most high cost goods are traded - from oil and other commodity supply contracts through to companies like Boeing and Airbus supplying planes, or GE supplying turbines for a power plant. Most people without experience lead into it thinking that buying something that costs $25k, $100k or millions of dollars is just the same as purchasing something at your local store just with bigger numbers. It isn't.

Bitcoin multisig transactions, or m of n transactions are also worth investigating as they cut the costs - although there is currently a lack of escrow/intermediaries who are as trusted as major law firms or an international bank. There is a huge opportunity in cutting the costs and fees associated with trade finance with bitcoin.

kyledrake 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've helped work on Project Skyhook, which is a $1000 Bitcoin ATM: http://projectskyhook.com

Orders ship within 2-3 weeks. Shipping to Canada is no problem, customs is no problem. Assembly is in Portland, Oregon, so it's a quick ship to Vancouver. We've shipped hundreds of units.

Setup is completely on the owner's end. Owners don't need the company to configure the unit, and the company doesn't need to run servers for them. Skyhook ATMs use blockchain.com for the wallets (using accounts the owner creates independently), and the exchange price source is the owner's choice, all controlled through the interface. This isn't to avoid having a setup phase - it's to allow owners to have complete control over their money, because then it's a trustless system (the source code to the ATMs is open and auditable: https://github.com/projectskyhook).

I'm astounded at the prices on some of these ATMs. For $25,000 they could have ordered 24 Skyhooks (a little padding for shipping, which I believe can be palleted to save money). Bitcoin ATMs shouldn't cost the down payment on a house, IMHO.

Skyhook is also completely bootstrapped by the founders (no VCs) and a result of that (and careful burn rate management) is now profitable, despite the low price point. The cofounders have been using some of the money (and their free time) to help clean up and build out a new hacker/makerspace in Portland that's going to be awesome. Easily the best group of people I've ever had the privilege to work with.

I wish more people approached startups this way. There's a real pride to making companies on your terms that you control, and succeeding at it. Startups shouldn't be about overvaluing your company and having Kid Rock do a rock concert in your back yard.

Animats 2 days ago 3 replies      
The fraud level in the Bitcoin world is so high that it makes South Florida look good.

There's a working Robocoin ATM at Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, CA. Nobody uses it. Nor should they. 15% bid/ask spread, 5% fee.

Incidentally, the retail price for an ordinary ATM machine is $2,000 to $4,500, depending on the features ordered. A standard through-the-wall bank ATM is about $9,500. Even if you order every option from cash deposit through biometrics, they don't cost $25,000.

aleem 2 days ago 5 replies      
Jordan Kelley has posted his response on Reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/2jakg4/the_great_ro...

Judging from the replies, it seems to have backfired probably because he did not acknowledge the errors on his side (shipping a lemon, unresponsive over email and not having provided a refund yet).

Worse, he doesn't seem to realise that the name-and-shame was a result of his and ultimately RoboCoin's actions.

Edit: The correct response would have been to issue a refund immediately, acknowledge and apologise for the issue, highlight the trouble area (upstream supplier issues or whatever lead to this), and commit to solving or already having solved this problem for future clients + internal review of this mishap.

sgentle 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Just so we're perfectly aligned, I want you to understand the relationship that Robocoin has with our manufacturer. We are actually just a reseller of their kiosks with our software."

I've heard this from smaller retailers of all kinds of products and, as pointed out in Andrew's reply, it's complete bullshit. The company that took your money is the company you formed a contract with. Any nonsense about "yeah, but the manufacturer..." is a smokescreen designed to dodge responsibility.

(Wimpy disclaimer: this isn't legal advice and maybe it's not true if you live in Yemen or something, I dunno)

jmathai 2 days ago 4 replies      
Absolutely terrible.

I have the feeling that Jordan knows exactly what he's doing. The amount of $20,000 is a lot but it's not that much once you start to hire lawyers and file a suit or go into arbitration. Sounds like he's stringing them along waiting to see how much more cash they're willing to invest to recoup that $20,000.

Even worse Jordan might be setting himself up for a settlement of less than $20,000 where he keeps some of the money but knows it's a better offer for Andrew and Rajiv than hiring lawyers.

Been there. Done that. I'll never look at a purchase or legal document the same again. Jordan's got the upper hand here.

Blackthorn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am shocked, shocked that a Bitcoin-related vendor was crooked.

Really, this story does totally suck for you guys but there should be absolutely zero trust or respect for anyone selling anything related to bitcoin at the moment. You're just begging to be ripped off.

cstrat 2 days ago 6 replies      
wow that sounds like a horrible experience!it is unfortunate that you got stung like that.

out of interest, what was the expected ROI?I mean, you sunk $25K into it.even if you were charging 5% fees - you would need half a million in transactions to break even, and that isn't including the monthly rental fee for the location.

is there really that big of a demand for BTC in a pub?

armenarmen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was looking at going in on one of these with a friend. Thanks for the heads up. Good luck getting your money back, the whole thing seems hellish.
epaga 2 days ago 0 replies      
Robocoin CEO (Jordan) has responded here: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/2jakg4/the_great_ro...
jhonovich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Important lesson for expensive capital goods: Pay upon delivery or net 30. Do not pay in full before shipment.
nashequilibrium 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow and the ceo acts like he is killing it on twitter. If this is how you guys were treated,i guarantee you there is lots more. Thanks for going public as this will save a lot of other people time and money.
conductr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to place/sell regular ATMs. This Stuff sounds pretty standard for the industry. Nobody, even the biggest companies, seem to know what they're doing.
AYBABTME 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sad story but:

> Were prepared to take legal action, but we figured wed give Jordan a taste of internet justice first.

IANAL but, I don't think you're helping your case by seeking internet justice.

smileysteve 2 days ago 0 replies      
This type of experience is why I don't understand "No Chargeback" or "Replace the credit card" type marketing.

If I purchase this with my credit card and don't get the product before the price goes down, I have the option to cancel the order or get the lower price. If the product gets stuck in RMA or support is not as promised, I can chargeback.

The 'advantage' of bitcoin is that now I have to deal directly with the vendor, who is not my advocate.

blt 2 days ago 1 reply      
First warning sign: smiley faces and hashtags in Robocoin's initial email responses. I would expect nothing but professionalism from someone who just sold me a $20,000 product.
vmp 2 days ago 4 replies      
Is it such a good idea to invest in something that's built on deprecated software (Windows XP)? And to handle money, no less.I'm a layman in regards to this, but is there a valid reason to choose XP over, lets say, a LTS Ubuntu release? Maybe some PCI ruling or something like that? Just seems strange and I've had a bad vibe ever since I read it.
lazyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have had some dealings with fraudulent merchants (while running a popular price comparison site and dealing with customer complaints, criminal charges against mervchants etc.) in the past 14 years and my gut feeling with this is that this Jordan has already spent your money on his expensive lifestyle.

It's the repeated false promises and claims he makes in his e-mails that create this impression, for example the quick refund. A serious businessman only promises this if he can make absolutely sure that the customer will get it (and it doesn't matter that he wrote "we hope to ...", it's a clear message). I've also read Jordan's reddit posts, sounds fishy as hell.

tim333 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious if anyone has seen a working Robocoin ATM? Jordan says on Reddit there are "65 out an live in the world"
josu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeff Berwick, one of the founders of the project withdrew from it back in May 2013.


ObviousScience 2 days ago 1 reply      
From my experience with one of their ATMs (both myself and two friends using it), they're incredibly error prone and not even shitty-ATM levels of usable. (I'm loathe to name locations, since the owners of the ATM are friends of mine and have dealt promptly with any problems I've had stemming from the ATM. They're often at the bar where it's located, as bar customers, and I've seen them deal with other upset ATM users. Great businessmen, bad equipment.)

That being said, it doesn't really surprise me that people with that poor of a user experience have poor customer service.

What is it about the bitcoin market that seems to attract less-than-ideal business practices?

skyjacker 2 days ago 4 replies      
Personally, I've tried five times to make small purchases with Bitcoin (this was several years ago). In all cases I was ripped off and never received product.

It's not going to be government regulations that kill Bitcoin, its the associations with illicit drugs, child pornography, and dishonesty of vendors like Robocoin.

AJ007 2 days ago 0 replies      
This wouldn't be the only company selling Bitcoin related hardware that probably should not be in business:


(Butterfly Labs)

hatty 2 days ago 0 replies      
Full refund processing.

"Hey [omitted], http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/2jakg4/the_great_ro...

It was really poorly handled. I take full accountability." -Jordan

tobiasSoftware 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was just reading the reddit thread and Jordan posted a picture of a transfer of $25000 to Andrew. However the details were not blacked out properly, you could see the address easily and could probably figure out the account numbers given a bit of time. The picture has since been removed.
jafingi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, what a devastating story! Really feel sorry for you guys.I have retweeted your tweet.

But let this be a reminder that you should never pay the full amount up front.

Hope you will get in court with that smarmy Jordan Kelley.

wyager 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've heard nothing but bad reviews about these things from the user end as well.

I have no idea why one would buy a Robocoin machine when there are a number of evidently superior alternatives.

runn1ng 2 days ago 0 replies      
A Bitcoin - related company committing fraud and acting scammy? I am shocked.
joshmn 2 days ago 0 replies      
For things like this, I find great "relief" in using BananaTag (http://bananatag.com)
tyang 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next time pay using a credit card. :)
geobz123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing.

That guy Jordan deserves to be brought in Justice.

kreinba 2 days ago 0 replies      
That is a really sad story...
lazyant 2 days ago 0 replies      
google "translate robo"
pearjuice 2 days ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile: Dorian Nakamoto - alleged Bitcoin founder - is trying to raise a fund because this whole Bitcoin entourage and goldrush has destroyed his personal life. Hopefully if Andrew gets a refund he will be so nice to donate a bit to The Dorian Nakamoto Legal Defense Fund.


everydaypanos 2 days ago 2 replies      
1. Going public on this shows lack of common sense, since the guy there said that contract had 0 refunds in it...

2. Expecting to pay $25k and pressing a button and then making $2k per month for eternity is NOT wise.

Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details
555 points by geophile  2 days ago   348 comments top 56
nabla9 2 days ago 11 replies      
I'm not seeing any top physicists working in this program (McGuire is not one). I would be willing to bet 1000 EUR that their math and modeling does not add up, or they have skipped some details.

Problem with fusion research like this is that the closer you get self sustainment or energy generation, the harder it gets and problems pile up. This project looks like many other similar projects that have gone bust. They start by solving the easiest problems first, get some funding and hit the wall.

The main problem with any reactor design is how to handle the 14 MeV neutrons produced by the fusion reaction (no mention in the article). They tend to damage the reactor and make it economically unfeasible. At this point being able to create fusion reaction is not the main challenge. It's the sustainment and economics of limiting the damage. If they really have solved all the problems and demonstrate economically sound fusion in 5-10 years, they will be handed Nobel price in physics for sure.

nerdy 2 days ago 4 replies      
I know there are some very smart people at skunk works who've done incredible things in the past but humans have cried wolf so many times on fusion it's sort of hard to just accept until they've actually built a working reactor, shown it and had it independently verified.
etiam 2 days ago 6 replies      
> U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers run on nuclear power, but they have large fusion reactors on board that have to be replaced on a regular cycle.

sigh To the extent this is true I suspect those "large fusion reactors" are tuned not so much for generating electricity and a great deal for annihilating whatever the carrying missile is pointed at.

But never mind fuzzy thinking at Reuters right now. This is amazing news if holds up. Fingers crossed.

ihnorton 2 days ago 2 replies      
Content-free article, but presumably it is this:


This is not the first time they have gone public with this - Charles Chase gave a talk at Google X last year, recorded and publicly-available:


Animats 2 days ago 2 replies      
This might work. It's from Lockheed's Skunk Works, which has a very good track record and tremendous respect in the aerospace community. With the basic physics laid out, this is mostly an engineering and construction problem. Their plan is to build and test a new prototype every year. The Skunk Works can do that; they've been doing it for decades. They're a manufacturer of prototypes, and have in-house capabilities for building things fast. They don't have to contract out much, and where they do, they have a contracting operation and supply chain they can rely on.
wcoenen 2 days ago 8 replies      
> 100-megawatt reactor measuring seven feet by 10 feet, which could fit on the back of a large truck

A typical thermal power station has an efficiency below 50% for electricity generation, so the plant dissipates at least as much heat as it generates electrical power.

I wonder how you could get rid of 100MW of waste heat from a volume small enough to fit on a truck. That's a heat flux of more than a megawatt per square meter of surface area.

27182818284 2 days ago 6 replies      
> could be ready for use in a decade.

That's the standard issue joke. "Nuclear fusion has been just ten years away for the last fifty years"

It is so common as a joke I'm surprised the article didn't mention it.

cmsmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure why this article is focusing on things like whether the reactor can fit on a truck, where you get deuterium, and how many coal power plants it can replace - instead of the actual question which is how they managed to produce a stable exothermal fusion reaction.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting when you compare to the recent dynomak paper announcement[1]. The pointer to 'superconducting magnets' doesn't get a lot of ink though. I went by Fry's the other day and they were out of them :-) I wondered about them because to date such things usually are sitting in a cryogenic bath (think MRI machine) and not next to a million degree hot plasma. Even in the LHC there is a lot of space between the beam and the ring magnets. Dr McGuire in the article suggests -- We should be able to go to 100% or beyond, which is quite the challenge from the thermal management perspective.

It is however another great example that there is money going into lots of different fusion ideas. And that can only be a good thing as far as I am concerned.

[1] http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/10/08/uw-fusion-reactor-...

jburwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
This appears to be further development of the novel nuclear reactor approach described by Charles Chase at Solve in 2013 -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY. The video provides a basic overview of fusion reactor designs and their breakthrough.
waterlesscloud 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes YC's choice to invest in a fusion startup all the more interesting.


orkoden 2 days ago 2 replies      
>U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers run on nuclear power, but they have large fusion reactors on board that have to be replaced on a regular cycle.

I don't think so.

dmfdmf 2 days ago 2 replies      
25 years ago my nuke professor used to scoff at some of the claims of the fusion researchers. The problem is the high energy neutrons flying out of the reactor will neutron-activate every material within the vicinity. He thought the radioactivity and nuclear waste of a fusion reactor could be worse than a fission reactor. Also he thought that fusion researchers were vastly underestimating the problem of neutron embrittlement of the reactor structures and components. This is a very difficult engineering and material science problem that would have to be solved even if they did get the fusion process to work.
JohnnyLee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Based on the image of the machine, this is a magnetic mirror with neutral beam injection. Mirrors were some of the first plasma confinement devices. An issue they have is that they lose charged particles out the ends in a way that depends on the ratio of perpendicular to parallel velocity and the magnetic field strength. It may be that they think they can use the neutral beam injectors to inject the fuel in such a way that it's well confined in the machine...

Never mind, another linked article says that the injectors are only used for ignition.

ph0rque 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of building a 100-megawatt reactor measuring seven feet by 10 feet, which could fit on the back of a large truck, and is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire said.

So that would power 50k to 100k typical houses in the US... not bad!

leephillips 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote about this when the project was first revealed, in March 2013: http://lee-phillips.org/LockheedFusion/

I didn't find much to inspire confidence.

Everhusk 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The team acknowledges that the project is in its earliest stages, and many key challenges remain before a viable prototype can be built."

No doubt that Skunkworks is world class... but claiming a "breakthrough in fusion energy" before a prototype has even been built is pretty bold of them.

salzig 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the "Solve for x" talk from last year (2013-02-11)


robin_reala 2 days ago 3 replies      
the first reactors [] could be ready for use in a decade.

Im sure Ive heard that somewhere before

ridgeguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks like a real thermal engineering challenge in one respect. The superconductive magnet coils are exposed to the neutron flux that transfers fusion reaction energy to the absorptive thermal blanket. I don't know offhand the neutron cross-sections of likely superconductor materials at whatever neutron energy spectrum this reactor will produce, but I suspect energy absorption by the magnet structure won't be small. I wonder how they plan to keep the magnets cold. Never mind the other effects on materials of high-flux neutron absorption.
mletonsa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Two of their patents were published few days ago:



Both have publication date 10/09/2014. Maybe connected with the press release?

startupfounder 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The early reactors will be designed to generate around 100 MW and fit into transportable units measuring 23 X 43 ft."[0]

These reactors will be similar to the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and potentially only require refueling every 25 years through a process known as ROH.[1]

100MW capacity in the size of an international shipping container? The implications of this are massive if this technology can be brought to scale, and that is the key term - SCALE.

The cost of solar is plummeting and by the time fusion technology can produce 10% of our energy demand the cost of solar will be heading to $1/Watt, battery storage will be competitive and that is hard to beat even if the footprint is only a fraction of a solar farm.

[0] http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compa...[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimitz-class_aircraft_carrier#...

al2o3cr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to know how they're planning on disposing of heat in the magnets themselves - most of the available high-current superconductors prefer to stay close to liquid helium temperatures, which is a challenge when you've set them next to a ten megakelvin plasma that's emitting a 100MW neutron flux...
karcass 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's exciting to see that fusion has gone from being perpetually 20 years away to being perpetually 10 years away. ;-)
peteretep 2 days ago 1 reply      

    > Lockheed shares fell 0.6 percent to $175.02 amid a broad     > market selloff.

peter_l_downs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Crazy. Vernor Vinge has an excellent short story called "Bookworm, Run!" [0] that, among other things, discusses the effects of cheap, clean, compact power being distributed around the world. In particular, it describes a wide-spread economic depression. Kind of interesting to think about, and definitely worth reading if you're into sci-fi.

[0]: http://books.google.com/books?id=tEMQpbiboH0C&pg=PA15&lpg=PA...

was_hellbanned 2 days ago 0 replies      
The ".NET Rocks!" podcast did three GeekOut shows this year on nuclear fusion, which will probably make you only more skeptical of fusion research claims.

Fusion Power GeekOut:http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=1013

Fusion Power GeekOut #2:http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=1022

Cold Fusion GeekOut:http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=1037

hliyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who still remembers the excitement and the disappointment due to Pons and Fleischmann (I was a teenager at the time), I'm going to wait for independent verification. But I can't deny I'm a bit excited.
KhalilK 2 days ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile, work on an actual fusion reactor continues; http://www.iter.org/newsline/-/2020
knappador 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aneutronic fusion would be lighter-weight, but it's good to see another concept we can learn something new from. There are two aneutronic fusion projects to look at. Polywell has become a Navy project last I heard and focus fusion (DPF) is working on an all-tungsten electrode, after which we might see the very first experiment without electrode contamination from arcing in the contacts vaporizing metal.
mrisse 2 days ago 5 replies      
From the article: Lockheed shares fell 0.6 percent to $175.02 amid a broad market selloff.

Shouldn't the market be a little more excited about this?

WalterBright 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes me wonder if the modern Lockheed Skunkworks bears much relation to how Kelly Johnson ran it in the 50's and 60's.

Many companies have tried to set up a skunkworks since, but didn't have the guts to run it like Kelly did, and didn't get the results, either.

lnanek2 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article is completely wrong about US Navy ships having fusion reactors. They have fission reactors, not fusion. I wonder if they are even reporting the breakthrough right since they clearly don't know the difference. For all we know the breakthrough may be smaller fission reactors too, which isn't a big deal at all.
jacknews 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hmm, are they confusing fission and fusion?
gpvos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how to get around the paywall?
jscheel 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, they've come up with a way to make a fusor that produces more energy than it consumes? Also, I'd be interested in knowing what kind of scram mechanism they develop. If the superconductors were to fail, the expansion of the plasma would be catastrophic, right?
adamzerner 2 days ago 5 replies      
I don't know much about fusion. It seems that the breakthrough they're talking about is that reactors are ~10x smaller. Why is this a big deal? Square footage is plentiful. I thought the problems are safety and how much energy it could produce.
silviorelli 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a coincidence.. Few days ago has been released the report on the alleged LENR/cold fusion E-Cat reactor...https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8436419
anigbrowl 2 days ago 1 reply      
On a tangent, is there any fundamental reason that reactors are always built to drive turbines rather thermocouples - do they simply not scale up to the amount of heat a typical reactor puts out, or what?
csdrane 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can we assume that their reactor isn't energy positive? Because if it were, I would imagine that they would be announcing so--rather than this nebulous "breakthrough."
JustSomeNobody 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everything is always a decade away.

(And then it rarely happens)

aortega 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMHO the best thing is how they pitch this as a power source for carriers and military ships, that are mostly used to fight wars for oil. Well played, Lockheed.
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
nevermind, this is hype - buried in the article

The team acknowledges that the project is in its earliest stages, and many key challenges remain before a viable prototype can be built

This falls under the xkcd 10 year plan:

"we haven't finished inventing it yet, but when we do, it'll be awesome"


Tloewald 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Ultra-dense deuterium is an isotope of Hydrogen" (1) ultra-dense?, (2) and tritium which is denser (but hardly ultra-dense) and also an isotope of hydrogen.

Ah science reporting.

jacknews 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hmmm, are they confusing fission and fusion?
spellingnazi 2 days ago 1 reply      
For christ sake fix the title.
zwieback 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mr. Fusion!
vegabook 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ready Steady (govt) Grant!

"Partners in industry and goverment". Translation: 10 years to product (but hey, prototype in 5) so please give us lots of dough. It's the technology of the future and always has been.

higherpurpose 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess that's somewhat game-changing. This, however, would be much more game-changing (if we can get confirmation once and for all whether it's real or not):


flexie 2 days ago 5 replies      
Here is more on the tech, including a drawing:http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compa...
flexie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here is a link with more info on the technology behind:http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compa...
_-__--- 2 days ago 0 replies      
This title makes me engery
ck2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Very cheap energy means cheap war and lots of it. This could be bad.
problame 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm happy if that is true, but guys: the first thing you think of is putting a potentially massive explosive on the back of a truck? Driven by humans? What could go wrong...
cowkingdeluxe 2 days ago 4 replies      
"McGuire said the company had several patents pending for the work and was looking for partners in academia, industry and among government laboratories to advance the work."

I'm guessing this means that they will try and maximize profit rather than maximize cheap and clean energy for the entire world. That is a bit disappointing if true.

bluedino 2 days ago 2 replies      
Then the dilemma becomes: Does the USA share this with other countries? Or do we keep our clean, plentiful power for ourselves, become energy independent, have clean skies, and keep (exploit?) this technological advantage over the rest of the developed world for the next 20-30 years?
Humble Mozilla Bundle
515 points by Osmose  3 days ago   117 comments top 13
laurent123456 3 days ago 5 replies      
With all these impressive advancement in browser technology, it looks like supporting non-qwerty keyboards in games is still a struggle. Or maybe developers aren't aware of the problem since no matter how big the game is, something as basic as keyboard controls is sometime completely wrong (at least on azerty keyboards). I don't know much about videogame development, but is it really difficult to somehow detect the user keyboard?
Osmose 3 days ago 3 replies      
If you're using Firefox and can't see the promotional game for this on about:home yet, go to about:home and open up the Web Console. Run "gSnippetsMap.clear()" and then clear your cache. When you refresh about:home, you should download the promo. Otherwise it should hit all Firefox users' about:home page within the next 24 hours.
ANTSANTS 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've sunk countless hours into FTL, this bundle is worth getting for that alone.
Touche 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! I love web games but the crap to quality ratio is really bad. It's hard to find good games. I hope Humble Bundle continues to create curated list of web games, not just 3D ones.
puzzlingcaptcha 3 days ago 2 replies      
OK, so how does it work. Native code compiled to asm.js somehow?
YokoZar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some of these games use data files for user save data - what's the story with them? Do they migrate with, say, Firefox sync?
ZeroGravitas 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just glad Mozilla found an easy way to remind me that I like them and should give them some money.
dancole 3 days ago 4 replies      
>> Pay more than the average of $4.56 to unlock!

I find that to be an interesting idea, since the average will only increase over time.

androidb 3 days ago 6 replies      
That's a great package, but what I don't get is why the "mozilla bundle" name if this works just as well on Chrome?
Ygg2 2 days ago 1 reply      
For some reason the Aaaaaaa! for the awesome game has the screen blank out after a short while. I'm using Nightly, so that is probably expected. Anyone had similar problems?
TazeTSchnitzel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else unable to rename crew members in FTL? I can press backspace to delete characters in names, but not letters to add characters! (Firefox, OS X)
wildpeaks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh sweet there is a WebGL version of Osmos, loved that one on mobile a few years ago.
thisandthat 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what javascript libraries they're using for games like voxeltron?
Nexus 9
477 points by agumonkey  2 days ago   157 comments top 23
Symmetry 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wait, they're using the 64 bit K1 as their processor? That's Project Denver[1]! I'm super excited to see how that thing benchmarks. This is basically Transmeta's Efficeon (same IP and team, even) with a bunch of improvements. They mentioned in the Hot Chips talk that they had made improvements like enabling native execution while the optimizer works - they benchmarks they provided said that it was very effective but I'm eager for third party tests.


EDIT: And here's Anandtech's article on Project Denver http://www.anandtech.com/show/7622/nvidia-tegra-k1/2

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 3 replies      
And of course the day before Apple announces its new iPad (allegedly). I really like having two very well funded companies in all out competition, it makes for some really great features and options in both products.

The size thing is what I'm interested in though. I'm waiting to see if there actually is a 12" iPad pro tomorrow, otherwise I'll pull the trigger on a Note Pro. I get the pocket/purse argument for 9" but my iPad has become pretty much a replacement book. Between 1dollarscan, Oreilly's drm free ebooks, and my pdf library of papers and data sheets, and various magazines, nearly all my space is being consumed by reading material. So for me (weird case I know) it is my library in my hand, and I really would like it to be a 12 - 13" screen.

That said, the Nook HD+ is my 'budget' 9" Android tablet that is my 'look up things' / 'play music' / 'cast netflix' device and this could easily replace that.

pisarzp 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was using this device for last couple months. It's by far the best tablet I've ever used. It feels great when you hold it and thank god for better aspect ratio! (compared to N7). I also have N10, but never really liked it, it was quite cumbersome to hold it. N9 feels much better in hands.

The thing I loved the most though was keyboard cover. It's narrow but you get used to it very fast. Typing on it was such a pleasure! I was not allowed to travel with this device but I could easily see myself just taking N9 instead of laptop for short trips.

zastrowm 2 days ago 1 reply      
The price is $400 [1], in case anyone else was wondering:

> Googles Nexus 9 goes up for pre-order on October 17th, and should hit the shelves on November 3rd. The 16GB model will go for $400, the 32GB for $480, and a 32GB model with LTE built in will set you back $600.

[1]: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/15/google-nexus-9/

izacus 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love the 4:3 aspect ratio - after switching from iPad that was the thing that bothered me the most on Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 models. They were either not tall enough or too narrow for comfortable web browsing and reading (also, holding N10 in portrait was pretty tiring due to weight balance).

So finally having a good 4:3 Android tablet is good news for readers :)

AdmiralAsshat 2 days ago 3 replies      
Sad to see no SD card slot. I know that's not Google's thing, but Asus and Samsung have defied them in the past to include them in Nexus models and I was hoping HTC would follow suit.

That said, I hope this sells well. HTC badly needs some success.

taylorbuley 2 days ago 3 replies      
It bothers me that we've lost the meaning of "memory" in the technical marketing of mobile gadgets.

"Memory: 16 GB & 32 GB." Google, of course, means storage.

jbellis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Apple finally admitted that bigger phones are better. Looks like Google is finally admitting that 4:3 is the right tablet aspect ratio.

I'm kind of curious what the secret sauce is that makes Google think they are ready to sell a premium-priced tablet. Lollipop may be better than iOS 8 but is that enough to overcome the app gap?

(Anecdata: my wife had her ipad mini stolen last week. We have 5 Android devices in the house, but as long as Civilization is only available on iOS this isn't a serious contender for a replacement.)

Bud 2 days ago 3 replies      
They're releasing a big expensive tablet in 2014 and the top-end storage size is 32GB? Really?
zmmmmm 2 days ago 1 reply      
This marks an interesting if subtle change in direction for Google. Suddenly they are talking about productivity on their tablet and even including a keyboard. Also recently we've seen massive upgrades to the Google Docs suite of apps as well, after they long languished as almost comically useless on Android for a long time. Once again, it makes me question whether Pichai taking over has had the unexpected effect of boosting Android and making it into their premier platform across a range of form factors instead of what seemed before to be mainly pigeon holing it as a phone / small tablet platform mainly for entertainment. Interesting times.
cwal37 2 days ago 1 reply      
I assume this is the real, official end of the dream that I will ever get the case they initially showed off for my Nexus 10.

I enjoy the Nexus 10, but I really feel like I've kind of just been left in the cold. Android updates haven't been kind to the device in my experience.

WildUtah 2 days ago 6 replies      
So is it confirmed that there's no new Nexus 7? What is the best new alternative with some kind of clean Android mini tablet?
mattgreenrocks 2 days ago 5 replies      
Anyone have experience installing Linux on an Android tablet to use for development work? I'd love to use it with tmux/vim to hack on stuff.

Is battery life worth it?

tdicola 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm impressed this is even lighter than the current iPad air (although it remains to be seen what happens with Apple's announcement tomorrow), and not by a trivial amount--almost 50 grams lighter. I've been a happy Nexus 7 user but am starting to feel I need a little bit bigger screen, and the 4:3 aspect ratio is much nicer for web browsing.
donniezazen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where do you guys think Nexus 9 fits? I have gotten used to Nexus 7 for reading and Nexus 10 for writing/media consumption reading graphically rich stuff like magazine. Do you think Nexus 9 replaces both of those different types of works.
4ad 2 days ago 5 replies      
It has an arm64 CPU. It looks like this will be the first cheap, easily obtainable and hackable (?) arm64 hardware out there.

I'm writing the arm64 Go compiler. I wonder if it's feasible to start testing on this machine too (e.g. how open it really is, how hard is to get a sane working environment, etc).

davidw 2 days ago 0 replies      
My Nexus 7's battery went kaput, so this looks like it'd be a nice replacement. Overall, I'm quite happy to use the Nexus stuff: the experience is very consistent, and they get regular upgrades.
nutjob123 2 days ago 0 replies      
4:3 aspect ratio on an andriod tablet! This should be interesting.
superbaconman 2 days ago 2 replies      
What's up with keyboards that lack a right side ctrl key? Is it bad form to type using right-ctrl or something? Can someone shed some light on this? :\
imaginenore 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a step back from Nexus 10.
benaiah 2 days ago 2 replies      
A bit suspicious that there's no resolution announced, especially considering the Nexus 10 had its resolution advertised ad nauseam from the day it was announced, and the Nexus 6 has its high resolution hyped up as well. It'll be curious to see if they've pulled back on the resolution arms race in favor of something like battery life or price range.
Zigurd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm aware that Nexus devices have lacked SD card slots seemingly as a matter of policy, but I still don't understand the logic of it for a tablet this powerful. You can buy micro SD cards with mind boggling capacity now. All the other specs are state of the art. And then you are limited to 32GB.
stormcrowsx 2 days ago 1 reply      
> The 8.9" screen is big enough to work and watch on, but small enough to carry around in one hand.

Really I could carry that in one hand? That's amazing! Know what else I can carry in one-hand? My fucking 17 inch macbook.

Docker and Microsoft partner to drive adoption of distributed applications
444 points by julien421  2 days ago   261 comments top 26
amarraja 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is hands down the best news I have heard in the MS development space in a long long time.

We have 3 apps over 32 servers and 5 environments, and operationally it's like pulling teeth. This has the chance to change everything!

nickstinemates 2 days ago 8 replies      
Nick Stinemates @ Docker here. I run BD/Tech Alliances. A lot of blood and sweat went in to this one! I'm here to answer any questions you may have about the announcement, the details, or anything about Docker.
jimmcslim 2 days ago 3 replies      
Also announced by Microsoft:


"Microsoft Corp. and Docker Inc., the company behind the fast-growing Docker open platform for distributed applications, on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership to provide Docker with support for new container technologies that will be delivered in a future release of Windows Server."

I strongly suspected that Windows Server vNext would have some sort of 'container' support after the wild success of Docker.

Rapzid 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reading the comments, this is the official announcement of the bifurcation of the docker ecosystem. This completely shatters docker's original promise of a universal application container. Now we will have standard gauge cars that won't run in the South. Maersk containers that can't be shipped on MSC.

Congratulations to MS though, I think this is a good initiative. Not sure why you even need a partnership with docker TBH as they didn't create the underlying OS technologies that make containerization possible on Linux.. But, with the acquisition of Mojang it is apparent MS is placing a lot of emphasis on acquiring mind share.

micah_chatt 2 days ago 3 replies      
Theoretically I'm guessing this could enable multi-platform gaming? Ex: "Download this docker image, and play our game: Windows or Linux, or boot2docker Mac!"

Secondary, a native Darwin Docker server would be killer.

The mobile implications could be huge if this made it out of Windows Server.

valevk 2 days ago 4 replies      
Would be awesome to have Microsoft Office as Docker container.
megaman821 2 days ago 4 replies      
What would a base Windows image look like, just a PowerShell prompt? How would you use the build file to install your dependencies without a package manager?
johngossman 2 days ago 1 reply      
John Gossman from Microsoft here. I'm an architect on the Azure team and have been working with Nick and others from Docker. Happy to answer questions.
randomsearch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great move for MS.

Not sure this is a good idea for Docker though. Doesn't it mean they lose their focus on Linux? Seems to complicate things a lot, and potentially introduce conflicts when prioritising what to do next. Simple is good. Serving a closed source operating system looks unwise, given the nature of their business.

ed_blackburn 2 days ago 1 reply      
This has been coming for a while, because it screams common sense..however with Microsofts previous I'm still a little surprised.

I wonder if Steven Sinofsky would have been game for this?

A lot of Windows developers use commercial Windows for development (i.e. Win7) with these features I anticipate more developers using (the more expensive) Windows Server.

If your build output could be a container (VS build process?) that you can ship, or as in a lot of "enterprise" organisations pass on to QA / UAT then this is a big deal and a massive huge step.

tkubacki 2 days ago 1 reply      
Things like this make me wonder if Windows (Server) ecosystem will be able to compete with Linux in long term.

I do realize corpo-world is filled with Windows Servers now but it seemed Linux/Docker could change this with containers as a 'standardized server app format' with super easy provisioning process.

Now since Windows will get more or less the same - Linux/Docker and Windows/Docker will compete on tools and raw perf.

NicoJuicy 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does the licensing work for Docker (Apache2 license, i know... It's more about the pricing behind it) together with Windows? I can't seem to find any info about this. I don't assume Windows is suddenly free of charge. The Windows virtualization licensing isn't obvious anyway: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/virtualiz...
geertj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does this change one of the fundamental tenets of docker, namely that docker images are portable (thanks to the linux kernel providing a very high degree of backwards compatibility).

In order words, will there now be Windows images and Linux images, and Windows images will run on Windows hosts and Linux images on Linux hosts?

yarrel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Partnering with Microsoft [almost] never ends well.

Good luck to Docker.

discardorama 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this the "embrace" step of "embrace, extend, extinguish"?
alisnic 2 days ago 1 reply      
very smart move from Microsoft's part.
mrmondo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope this doesn't distract from Linux development - there are a number of bugs that have been hanging around for some time without updates now.
UnoriginalGuy 2 days ago 1 reply      
> To me, this makes it sound like Microsoft is slowly starting to join the rest of planet earth, and adding features to its OS kernel to make it more Unix-like

Could you be more specific, what "features" precisely? Windows NT already takes a lot of concepts from traditional UNIX kernels and builds on them (unlike, for example, Windows 9x).

> From what I remember, Windows Server is already a step in that direction, but Microsoft hasn't advertised much of that functionality so far, maybe in order to maintain customer lock in.

Could you be more specific, I know a lot about modern Linux and Windows Server, and that comment is mysterious to me. Are you talking about the deprecated UNIX Services for Windows which has existed for well over fifteen years?

edwintorok 2 days ago 1 reply      
The site apparently only accepts RC4 as the cipher, I get: Error code: ssl_error_no_cypher_overlap
Akkuma 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how this will impact spoon.net, since they recently launched their windows container tech.
tonyplee 2 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of Windows server/kernel features does Docker need/want/like from MS?
hamiltont 2 days ago 1 reply      
DockerHub-based Windows Package Manager - coming soon to an OS near you
ilaksh 2 days ago 1 reply      
It mentions extending Docker to support numbers of distributed Docker containers. I am building a PaaS around Docker so can I get a hint how that will work? I would rather add value than duplicate an existing effort.

Is it something like an integration of Mesos, Fig and Docker?

jokoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
microsoft has been cornered for a long time, it has lost many ooportunities, glad it's not reacting.
SlipperySlope 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft is going about this the wrong way. They should adopt GNU/Linux, supporting containers, file systems, etc. as their kernel, and then add the proprietary Windows layer on top, e.g. WINE.

Otherwise existing Dockerfiles will not build on Windows - right?

antocv 2 days ago 2 replies      
Worst news ever.

Docker people will spend more time fixing and making bugs due to Microsoft, the documentation will become a mess (it cant possibly be same documentation for that different systems), the Linux-side of docker will be more mediocre compared to what it could have been if all effort went to it.

Remember Internet Explorer 6, Visual Basic, the horror that is Excel and the whole Office suite, Asp.net, Windows Millenium, The attempt to kill Linux by Microsoft through SCO.

Reddit Acquires Alien Blue, the Most Popular Unofficial Reddit App
434 points by ajacksified  2 days ago   165 comments top 30
britta 2 days ago 11 replies      
I moderate a midsize subreddit where many of the 35k daily readers use Alien Blue, and this is a bit of a headache because Alien Blue makes it hard to find the subreddit sidebar, where we list important FAQs and rules. Our sticky post is dedicated to explaining how to find the sidebar in Alien Blue (http://www.reddit.com/r/jailbreak/comments/2ic349/how_to_see...).

I actually installed a bunch of other iOS Reddit apps to see if I could find one that supported sidebars better, so that I could officially recommend that app to my subreddit instead. The other ones didn't support sidebars at all though!

What I want most is for Alien Blue's tiny arrow buttons that lead to subreddit sidebars - http://i.imgur.com/ygWOV91.png - to be detail disclosure buttons instead, with a tiny "i" (https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/userex...). I believe that icon makes more sense and will help readers realize they should tap there for sidebar information.

spicyj 2 days ago 4 replies      
> One thing to note: if youve already downloaded the app, youll need to download it again a side effect of them transferring the app from Morriseys App Store developer account to reddits.

I was under the impression that Apple allowed transferring apps between accounts without wiping out the history

smackfu 1 day ago 3 replies      
Maybe they'll dial back some of the quirkyness. I use it, but some stuff that should be really easy is messy, like subscribing to reddits. And their iOS 8 update (which was the first update in forever) has all sorts of "unique" interface ideas.
8ig8 1 day ago 0 replies      
3rd3 2 days ago 6 replies      
They should buy the Reddit Enhancement Suite too.
Terpaholic 2 days ago 2 replies      
You can upgrade to Alien Blue Pro for free this week:


mirsadm 2 days ago 3 replies      
I use Alien Blue on my iPad Mini and it is the best Reddit app for iOS that I've tried. Oddly enough I find the Android Reddit Sync app to be quite a bit better and easier to use. I say oddly enough because it's probably the only category of apps where I've found the Android version to be better than the iOS.
TazeTSchnitzel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Remember when Twitter bought one of the more popular iOS clients, and ever since, people have just known of it as Twitter for iOS?

I think it'll just become Reddit for iOS. The default, official client. The one 90% use.

resca79 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love when a company acquires a small app or startup in general.Basically because it allows us to dream to build something that a big company can incorporate in some of its famous product or just it will become famous itself.

After an acquisition like that, I ask to myself :

Does Reddit have smart developers to build a mobile app like that?

Why do they need to do an acquisition to get a good app?

The questions seem trivial, Reddit has great developers, but looking forward the last acquisition by Apple( that never done before), I think that in the next future the company employees will be no single person, but startups.

netcan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Reddit can, at this stage, have big hairy ambitions for what they might still become.

Thinking back about 8 or 10 years when "social networks" and online communities were becoming something obviously substantial there were a lot of excited ideas about what they would become. Ning's idea of basically extending forums and creating lots of online communities seemed attractive. When they're first taking on online communities are exciting. But, they seem to age. It's almost like being in the same conversation forever.

What can Reddit still accomplish?

rebelidealist 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is Reddit going to make Jason Morrissey move to SF from Melbourne?
EricBart 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm probably in the minority, but on mobile I use i.reddit.com

What's the future for that?

cjbarber 1 day ago 2 replies      
Reddit is a vital product in my life.

Necessary move by reddit. If someone was going to be able to compete with reddit, and succeed, Alien Blue had a very good shot.

Cool to see reddit making moves since their new round of funding, too.

Semi-related segue: Since this $50mm funding round happened, I've recommended to a couple people that they apply for jobs at reddit. [1]

Reddit has maintained impressive growth since 2005. I'm expecting them to be doing very interesting things over the next 5-6+ years.

[1]: http://www.breakoutlist.com/reddit/

untog 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit is following the Twitter path, then. I wonder if they'll end up blocking other third party clients some day.
needle0 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm reminded of the time when Twitter bought Tweetie and its developer to make it its official iOS app. Sure hope it won't follow similar paths.
skrowl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Title misleading. "The most popular unofficial reddit app FOR iOS" (which is 1/5th as used as Android).

Presumably there are more popular unofficial reddit apps out there when you start counting Android.

epmatsw 2 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome for the developer, totally deserving. Alien Blue is pretty unmatched IMO, and I've spent forever looking for anything even close to it for Android. Flow is the closest I've found, but it's not supported any more :( I'd love to see them port Alien Blue, but I don't think the UX would fit very well on Android unfortunately...
MrBra 1 day ago 4 replies      
Just a note to check if there are any like-minded people:

Everytime I approach Reddit, I got a feeling of being overwhelmed by the interface complexity, to the point that a part of me wants to know more and finally get to use it, and another part, simply feels frustrated. The latter has always won so far, even after forcing me to create an account.

It just doesn't click with me. And I don't want to read no freaking 101 guide, because a clearly done interface needs no guide.

Anyone feels like that?

PiracyIsAwesome 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Reddit is complete garbage , filled with heavy moderation from all sides , your mods , your admins , your mod bots , and the community of reddit , and finally the shadow bans designed to waste your time for a LOL.

It's the absolute worst place to post anything you want to say. I don't know why people keep using it.

Reddit also likes to spam top youtube videos with solicitation attempts to get people to go to reddit.

mmahemoff 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit launched their own first app just last month. I wonder if they'll be closing down AMA now that they've negotiated this deal.http://www.redditblog.com/2014/09/announcing-official-reddit...
frewsxcv 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any word on whether it will be open sourced? I'm satisfied with my current app I use with reddit https://github.com/QuantumBadger/RedReader which is open source
pknerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great. I use Alient Blue day and night on iPad and without any doubt it's an awesome Reddit Client.
hiby007 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to the developer.
nitin_flanker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now Jase can make it even more awesome.
xasos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flow is a really good Android reader.
aikah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Alien Blue,their app is great!
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
how much was it acquired for? Undisclosed figure of Reddit Gold.
bubble_boi 1 day ago 1 reply      
They should buy http://www.bubblereader.com/ too!
craigching 2 days ago 3 replies      
Ugh! Ok, I shouldn't complain, but I originally chose the iAlien app only to run into the scam that that developer put on by claiming a takedown based on the name by Alien Blue (IIRC, I'll try and provide a source if someone requests it) requiring users to buy the new app. I was really happy with iAlien, but I wasn't going to pay the extortion for the "new" app.

Only about 6 months ago I bought Alien Blue + Pro, now I have to do it again.

It appears that if I get it this week I will probably be able to save $4, so that's good, but I feel a bit scammed by the iAlien developer that I don't trust some of these apps anymore. I do trust that reddit is a good thing, so I'm probably set from here on out.

And, in the end, I know it's only $8, but I hate being scammed, it's the principle.

Alien Blue is a good app so I'm happy for Jase the developer and I forget why I originally chose iAlien over Alien Blue now, but hopefully we get some good advancements in the mobile interface which is my primary means of accessing reddit.

EDIT: Adding links to controversy here as well:



The Emails Snowden Sent to First Introduce His NSA Leaks
423 points by secfirstmd  4 days ago   108 comments top 6
noir_lord 4 days ago 6 replies      
> Assume your adversary is capable of one trillion guesses per second

Jesus, one trillion passphrase checks a second.

Well I know what I'm changing this afternoon.

> My personal desire is that you paint the target directly on my back. No one, not even my most trusted confidant, is aware of my intentions and it would not be fair for them to fall under suspicion for my actions.

Snowden has always had my respect but the more I read the more he has my admiration as a person.

iandanforth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow these emails were more powerful, personal, and meaningful than all the previous coverage. It's you they are watching and it's you they are watching all the time. Reading these emails I imagine they were addressed to me and there's no way to avoid feeling like you're under a microscope. Even when you snap out of it and remember the emails aren't addressed to you, you then have to remember they apply to you, they could have been addressed to you, and yes, you really are being watched.
joelanders 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how they "confirm[ed] out of email that the keys we exchanged were not intercepted and replaced by your surveillants." Key exchange is the hardest part.
desdiv 4 days ago 7 replies      
Does anyone know if "Citizen Four" (what Snowden signed his first email with) is a reference to anything?
ck2 4 days ago 3 replies      
Let's also take a moment to remember James Risen who will likely be sent to prison in January for exposing what the NY Times refused to print.

(and of course Manning who will be left to rot for the next 35 years by each president)

alimoeeny 4 days ago 0 replies      
Chilling, very chilling.
OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The Ars Technica Review
396 points by Braasch  1 day ago   217 comments top 27
Osmium 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Somebody asked in another thread about Yosemite's new Hypervisor:

"Hypervisor (Hypervisor.framework). The Hypervisor framework allows virtualization vendors to build virtualization solutions on top of OS X without needing to deploy third-party kernel extensions (KEXTs). Included is a lightweight hypervisor that enables virtualization of the host CPUs."

Any news on if anyone is actually using this yet? Stability matters a lot more to me than raw performance in VMs, so I'd be very keen to know if Parallels/Fusion/VirtualBox have adopted this--assuming that it would actually improve stability or, if not, what the pros/cons are for using Apple's own Hypervisor over a third party's.


smutticus 1 day ago 18 replies      
None of these reiews answer the one question I always want answered; will this cause my MBP to crash more often than 10.8.5? I have all the features I need, I want fewer GPU panics.

I know these reviewers cannot answer this question, I just want to point out that it's the only relevant question for me. Given Apple's track record, this release will most likely cause my MBP to crash more often, but I want data on that. I want a review to actually explore this angle as opposed to simply talking about features that honestly mean nothing to me.

sxates 1 day ago 6 replies      
What's missing here for me is some kind of performance evaluation. If I upgrade my 2011 MBA from Mavericks to Yosemite, should I expect any change in performance, for better or worse? Did the power management change in any significant way?

Apple's mobile OSs have a way of obsoleting older hardware. I'm curious to know if their desktop OSs are trending that way as well, or if they're making performance gains instead.

wiremine 1 day ago 2 replies      
Off topic from the review but handy since people were talking about crashing:

Learned a cool trick tonight: Yosemite was taking a while to install, so I did some googling and learned you can see the installer's log by typing CMD-L during the install process.

dutchbrit 1 day ago 3 replies      
I really don't like the new design. The dock bar looks weird to name one thing, also the new buttons, bars and the window design is just ugly and plain (it feels like a Linux flavour trying to look like OS X designed by someone's neighbour's kid) - don't let me even mention the folder icons. Photoshop stalled once but that's the only quirck I've had in the past 2 weeks of using the beta so that's not too bad. Design wise however, I don't feel like this is a good replacement. Have to admit that iOS 7 did grow on me and I felt the same about that back then but I don't think the same will happen in this case.
tlo 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to do a fresh install, you can create a USB install drive: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/10/how-to-make-your-own-bo...
mlex 1 day ago 0 replies      
"...If Retina desktop Macs still havent been announced by the time you read this, Apple had better hurry up."

Near the bottom of page 3, just thought it was funny considering today's 5K iMac announcement.

72deluxe 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Very informative review, particularly the part regarding Swift towards the end, although I did feel like he was going over the changes in a perfunctory manner as opposed to the Mavericks review.

Anyway, it did help me know what to expect in Yosemite so thanks John.

I also discovered the "purple" full screen button from yesteryear - I much prefer that to the fullscreen arrows in Mavericks, and dislike the new default "FULLSCREEN" behaviour of the zoom button. Fullscreen makes the menubar and all that sits in it (MenuMeters, clock etc) useless. On a laptop, the indicator about the battery is kind of important to me, and I don't find the clock distracting or require it to be removed in order to help me read text on other parts of the screen. I think it is a foolish move.

tehabe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried it yesterday and for the first time I downgraded my Mac back to the previous version. I think Yosemite wasn't made for my 2009 MacBook Pro. It works w/o a problem but the font is really hard to read, in the sense it is an exhausting experience.

What is funny about Yosemite, many dialog boxes remind me of KDE.

matt-attack 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I find the new Spotlight to be quite painful. Apple again, makes design choices not based on improving the quality but just because they feel they need to keep changing things.

They've done two things wrong with Spotlight. By moving it down from the top of the screen, that immediately reduces the number of results that can be seen. Then if that wasn't enough they further limit the quantity of visible results by not allowing results to flow to the bottom of the screen. A double whammy if you will.

I can live with a slightly slower experience (yes, my indexing is done) but reducing the result count for absolutely no good reason is unacceptable.

And yes, I know I can scroll down.

Edit: Oh and while I'm complaining, please tell me which one is selected: http://i.imgur.com/Szj3Yag.png

dopamean 1 day ago 1 reply      
The upgrade to Mavericks totally borked my Displaylink adapter that I use to plug an extra monitor in. After some updates its finally stable but still not great. I'm afraid to upgrade again because who knows what will happen.
locomoco 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone know how to turn off the Macbook pro screen with the lid open while using external monitors? On Mavericks this worked just fine:


Now no dice... anyone know a way to keep the screen off with the lid open?

To execute in Terminal:

sudo nvram boot-args="iog=0x0"

To undo in Terminal:

sudo nvram -d boot-args

Once you type it into terminal I believe you need to enter your password. I then restart my machine. Now the TRICK is to either restart your machine with the lid already closed (hit restart then slam the lid!) OR turn the machine on for the first time (then quickly slam the lid!) once you are past the login screen you can open the lid.

l33tfr4gg3r 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm on a 2013 MBP and I upgraded to Yosemite yesterday. It was a textbook upgrade for me - zero hassle and everything works just as it should (so far anyway). A couple of quirks I've noticed vs. Mavericks is that a) the animations seem to stutter sometimes - I almost never had that with Mavericks. Perhaps since this is 10.10.0 that's to be expected but hope they fix that to buttery smooth in the performance update down the road. The other thing is RAM usage seems to have gone up significantly. I used to average around 2-3 GB used out of 8GB and now I find 5GB used - I haven't installed any additional software or tweaked any configuration settings - this is purely a Mavericks --> Yosemite in-place upgrade. Its still early hours so I've yet to explore the system fully, but apart from these 2 things it seems fairly solid so far. Contrary to the other comments, I don't quite seem to mind the full screen mechanics, although I would not have minded a '+' button and more discernible buttons in general.
cdbattags 1 day ago 2 replies      
I actually read this all the way through... Quality writing.
deepforg 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I can accept almost all of the UI changes but these horrible blue folders.
jimeuxx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope developers make good use of the changes to the title bar. It completely breaks the flow of the design of a lot of apps, and kills precious vertical space on my 13-inch MBP. A keyboard shortcut to toggle the menu bar would've been nice too. Neither of those would be big issues if it weren't for the slow, eye-melting, completely superfluous fullscreen animations though.
ksk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Have they improved the Mac App Store updates yet? It shocks the mind to think that forcing users to re-download entire apps rather than just the stuff that's changed is apparently a hard problem to solve for Apple.
Shivetya 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a personal note.

I really don't need the grays/white/blacks of past operating systems. The initial setting for my quick bar just looks horrid, little icons on a dark gray background.

Everything looks so 16bit. I understand it bleeds through the background color, I would just prefer to have no background on the dock and have the icons float

blisterpeanuts 1 day ago 2 replies      
Upgrading now: 5.16 gigs. Hah! This is going to take all night. Looks like everyone's downloading it at the same time.

I was quite impressed by 10.10 from the Keynote a few weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to experiencing some of that. No iPhone so can't enjoy that level of integration, but perhaps my iPad will be happier.

Meanwhile I have a Nexus 5 on order, and I'm debugging problems with my Linux PC's new motherboard. Certainly Linux on a roll-your-own hardware platform is a different world from the slick, smooth Apple experience. I like both for what they can do but the Apple is becoming my go-to front end while the Linux machine is becoming more of a server and back-end tool.

super_mario 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely ugly and tasteless design. Default theme is hideous black bold font on white background, large swaths of white everywhere. Dark theme is just inconsistent. Window titlebars are pale whitish, with black menu bar with white font on it.

Dock, is 2d until you roll over it, then icons pop out of it and it looks like it is 3d.

This is it, Apple is the new Microsoft. Frankly, and I can't believe I would ever be saying something like this but Windows 7 now looks better and more consistent.

blackkettle 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Mavericks is not an obscure surfing destination.
k_bx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I really hope it has dark theme as I imagined it to be, since current light-grey really distracts me when programming in dark theme editor/terminal.
hsshah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if Mail app now supports "cloud" search for Gmail? i.e. you don't need to download ALL your Gmail to local machine to be able to search. My SSD is quickly getting filled up and this is becoming one huge pain point.
mohamedattahri 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Just installed it. It freed 7GB on my Macbook Air's flash drive. Nice!
dman 21 hours ago 0 replies      
On my 2013 Macbook pro the wifi seems to be exceptionally slow after upgrading to Yosemite. Seeing speeds < 600K after the upgrade. Usually see ~6 MBps.
vacri 1 day ago 4 replies      
I can't wait for the 'flat' fad to be over.
goeric 1 day ago 0 replies      
My camera on my 2013 Retina Macbook Pro doesn't work post-upgrade, FYI.
This POODLE bites: exploiting the SSL 3.0 fallback
389 points by ch0wn  3 days ago   102 comments top 28
tptacek 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not entirely sure, because I'm in a car waiting to pick up my daughter from play practice while I consider it, but I think this is worse than BEAST. It's slower, but it's easier.

POODLE seems to be a padding oracle based on SSL 3.0's inability to fully validate padding. The oracle only gives you the last byte of a block; a full extended padding oracle gives you successive bytes, but this vulnerability doesn't. The authors sidestep that problem by using application-layer control of the boundaries of blocks to repeatedly line up the byte they want to learn with the last byte of padding the vulnerability reveals. C l e v e r !

The difference, I think, between POODLE and BEAST is that BEAST needed not just blockwise "chosen-boundary" control over plaintext, but also a continuous channel that would provide the client with fine-grained control over the first N bytes of each request. It didn't work (IIRC) with vanilla Javascript.

This attack, however, seems to.

brians 3 days ago 3 replies      
Apparently independently discovered by Thomas Pornin with a few hours of work: http://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/18151930#18...

We saw this with Heartbleed too: given sure confidence that there is a vulnerability in a particular diff, skilled security researchers can find it very quickly. It makes me want to find such and firmly tell them that there are vulnerabilities in TLS 1.2.

xt 3 days ago 6 replies      
Here's relevant nginx configuration to disable SSLv3:

  ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;  ssl_ciphers EECDH+AES128:RSA+AES128:EECDH+AES256:RSA+AES256:EECDH+3DES:RSA+3DES:EECDH+RC4:RSA+RC4:!MD5;  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
This ciphersuite is recommended by CloudFlare.

cesarb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mozilla is going to disable SSL 3.0 by default in Firefox 34: https://blog.mozilla.org/security/2014/10/14/the-poodle-atta...
turingbook 3 days ago 0 replies      
Adam Langley from Google explained this in more details https://www.imperialviolet.org/2014/10/14/poodle.html
AbeEstrada 3 days ago 2 replies      
Disable SSLv2 and SSLv3

For Apache:

SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3

For Nginx:

ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;

Source: http://blog.rlove.org/2013/12/strong-ssl-crypto.html

jerf 3 days ago 3 replies      
Check me on this: The TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV will prevent downgrade attacks, yes. However, any "real" SSLv3 connections will still be SSLv3 and still fully vulnerable to the described attack. Downgrading is not a necessary component of the attack, it just increases the number of vulnerable client/server combinations to include those that would normally not be vulnerable due to negotiating TLS1.0+. Therefore, if you are in a position where you truly care about security and the fact the SSLv3 has such an enormous hole in it is unacceptable, you should still be looking at simply turning off SSLv3 as the only acceptable mitigation, even if that does cut some clients off.


(Except please note for the purposes of this question I'm assuming as a given that cutting off SSLv3 is considered preferable by the entity in question to a very weak SSL negotiation. Whether or not any given entity should have that opinion is a different question; I politely ask that you get into that question elsewhere.)

pjl 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you're using AWS' ELB, Amazon has already added a new Predefined Security Policy with SSLv3 disabled: ELBSecurityPolicy-2014-10
davidgerard 11 hours ago 0 replies      
We are in the horrible position of supporting some straggling IE6 users. Thankfully disabling SSLv3 means they can no longer log in.
rcthompson 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm starting to wonder how many other important vulnerabilities I'm missing because their discoverer didn't come up with a catchy name like Heartbleed, Shellshock, or POODLE.
Cybershambles 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm starting to collect articles of merit related to the new attack.

I'll continue to grow the list the more I see/read.


justinweiss 2 days ago 0 replies      
FYI, if you're using Twilio: https://twitter.com/twilio/status/522446663130963969

"If you are encountering trouble with inbound Twilio requests while mitigating the SSLv3 vuln, contact help@twilio.com for direct help."

(That is, they have to manually enable TLS on your account.)

Also, if you're using GET requests with ExactTarget, you'll run into the same thing, but I haven't heard back from them if / when they'll have that fixed.

omh 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that this is an attack on the CBC-mode ciphers but doesn't change anything about the RC4 ciphers.

RC4 is mentioned in passing as having weaknesses, but is it actually broken? If we can't disable SSL3 completely would using only RC4 ciphers be an option?

michaelbuckbee 2 days ago 1 reply      
I made a "non-technical" Poodle scan reporter at: https://www.expeditedssl.com/poodle if anybody needs to convince someone in their organization that a problem needs addressing and to take action.
userbinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Usually, the server will reject this record, and the attacker will simply try again with a new request. Occasionally (on average, once in 256 requests), the server will accept the modified record

This suggests to me that a possible workaround could be to detect this attack because it will generate the characteristic pattern of a successful record amongst many invalid ones, and then expire the relevant cookies; by the time the attacker has figured out a byte or two, the cookie has already become useless. It could potentially turn into a denial-of-service, but that's something anyone with MITM capability can do trivially anyway.

nutmeg 2 days ago 0 replies      
How to disable SSL 3.0 in IIS: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/187498
IgorPartola 2 days ago 2 replies      
Practically speaking, how broken is SSLv3.0 now? Are we hours, days, weeks, months, or years from someone actually getting out there and exploiting this?
laumars 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry if I've have missed this if it's been posted elsewhere, but is there a way of having Apache log which SSL protocol version is being used for SSL/TLS connections?

I've seen people post figures like 0.85% of HTTPS connections have been SSL 3.0 and was wondering how those figures were compiled.

jvehent 3 days ago 3 replies      
To business owners and large sites operators out there: before disabling SSLv3, make sure that none of your clients/customers/users are stuck on IE6. We still see significant IE6 traffic coming from China. Some legacy clients are also stuck on SSLv3.

As a general rule, review your logs before disabling things. And ask your users to use modern browsers as soon as possible.

aburan28 1 day ago 0 replies      
This vulnerability is being downplayed and details are being kept secret until they can patch this bug because of how severe this is
ctz 2 days ago 0 replies      

An old writeup of mine on TLS downgrade, if anyone's interested.

olov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disable SSL3.0 in golang ListenAndServeTLS: https://gist.github.com/olov/eb60ab878eb73a7c5e22
mikelat 3 days ago 1 reply      
This has pretty large implications for countries (namely china) with still a sizable IE6 userbase. IE6 doesn't support TLS by default, making https effectively completely unsupported for that browser.
rb2e 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading https://www.openssl.org/~bodo/ssl-poodle.pdf may also be helpful if you want to fully understand this exploit.
borski 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can check to see if you're vulnerable using our free tool: https://www.tinfoilsecurity.com/poodle
cmdr_keen 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://zmap.io/sslv3/ - "POODLE Attack and SSLv3 Support Measurement"
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Firefox 34 will disable SSLv3 entirely:


Already using the beta, it is very stable.

You can also set security.tls.version.min to 1

In Chrome set the command line flag --ssl-version-min=tls1

justcommenting 3 days ago 1 reply      
this may help clarify why Firefox dragged its feet for so long to enable TLS 1.2 support by default...from the timeline, we could probably make some guesses as to when certain agencies took notice of this attack.

the real question is why it took major site ops this long to realize. given a trove of handshakes (which Google has been saving for years), user-agent headers, and expected ciphersuites, it perhaps should not have been too difficult to detect downgrade attacks in the wild. that doesn't in itself give you POODLE, but it probably offers some clues...especially given other information available to them.

Nexus Player
368 points by gulbrandr  2 days ago   238 comments top 39
moskie 2 days ago 13 replies      
I fear the release the this new Nexus Player portends we're not going to see an update to the Chromecast anytime soon, if ever. That makes me sad.

I guess I'm just not the average user, but the Chromecast handily beats what this (and other options in this genre, i.e., Apple TV / Fire TV / Roku) have to offer. I don't want another remote control. And making my phone the best remote control is an awesome solution. And the Chromecast doesn't take up any room in my living room / entertainment center. And it's only thrity-five-goddamn-dollars.

I guess the downside is that I can't play crappy games on my big screen. Darn.

josteink 1 day ago 3 replies      
What? A media-hub with NO wired ethernet? How am I supposed to take that seriously?

I don't care about what people saying about wifi having gotten "better". By every single measurable criteria, it is slower, is less reliable, has lower capacity and higher latency than wired gigabit ethernet and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

I demand wired ethernet on my devices, and I know a bunch of other who do too.

smackfu 2 days ago 4 replies      
$99 plus $40 for the controller. Since Google doesn't seem to want to provide that information.
dangrossman 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wish this was a real Google TV replacement.

My 4-year-old Google TV box (Logitech Revue) -- with Android 3.1 -- is really showing its age. The app store is pretty empty and it only supports things like Amazon Video and HBO Go because Android still had Flash back then.

The missing key is an HDMI input. My TV is always tuned to the Google TV input whether I'm watching live cable TV, a Netflix movie or casting a YouTube video. I have a single remote control (the Google TV one) for all of them. It changes channels and settings on my cable box with HDMI CEC.

All these new boxes make you switch inputs and remotes all the time. I have too many remotes already.

nogridbag 2 days ago 0 replies      
I realize the controller is sold separately, but I did find it a little odd that the controller says "ASUS" at the top instead of "NEXUS" since it seems to be the official controller.
tachyonbeam 2 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder why they went with an Intel Atom CPU instead of using ARM chips as they do in the Nexus phones. Seems like a strange choice.
dchuk 2 days ago 3 replies      
There is so little innovation going on in the apple tv-esque space. All of these devices look and act exactly the same (Fire, AppleTV, this thing, Roku, etc)
dataminded 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lack of Ethernet is a deal breaker for me. Ethernet is the only thing my chromecast is missing. I don't want games or apps, just a stable internet connection.
apayan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've had the pleasure of using one of these for the past month and it's been really great. I have a Chromecast that I used all the time before, but because I can cast to the Android TV (Player), I don't use the Chromecast anymore (I only have one TV).

The whole UI feels very snappy, and videos load very quickly.

The game pad feels great in my hands. No complaints there.

The selection of games on Google Play isn't huge (yet?). I currently see 16 games listed on it for download/purchase. My favorite so far is Leo's Fortune. I enjoyed it on my Nexus 5 when it came out, but after playing it on Android TV, I won't even play it on the phone anymore because I've experienced how much better the game is with a controller. I suspect that's going to be the case with a lot of games that come out for Android in the future. Touch interface only games have a lot of limitations.

Besides Netflix, you can also use Plex (PlexPass subscribers only right now) and that works pretty flawlessly as well.

I've been very happy with the whole setup and I'll be recommending it to all who are in the market for a set top box.

cfontes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hum... interesting.

OUYA was almost dead. Now it's done.

thefreeman 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a legitimate question, not a troll. Are there actually any mobile games out there that you would want to play on your tv with a controller?

Pretty much every mobile game I have ever tried has been a cesspool of micropayment dark patterns, or else something that really just serves to kill time when there is nothing else to do (riding the bus, waiting at an office, etc.)

wnevets 2 days ago 5 replies      
With the chromecast, I have no interest in another box that plays video content. Having a dedicate box to play casual android games on my tv isnt very appealing to me either.

Is there really a big market for this thing?

mahyarm 2 days ago 2 replies      
Now we need a $20 google audiocaster. It would kill the airplay speaker market for android devices. You can hack it with a $20 hdmi to 3.5mm audio adaptor, but then it becomes a $55 device.

I'm somewhat surprised there is no ethernet in this player. For some places, wifi just doesn't work in their environment.

omnibrain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like "Nexus Q reborn". It looks very similar to the Amazon Fire TV.
jewel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been anxiously awaiting this. We're thinking of shipping an enterprise product on the Amazon Fire TV, but it's relative lack of control is quite limiting. Hopefully this is priced similarly.

I've tried nearly every android TV stick, and while they are pretty close to what we need, and infinitely customizable, we had trouble getting consistent hardware. It seemed like each batch would behave slightly differently.

taeric 2 days ago 1 reply      
This really looks just like a circular version of the FireTV. The remote looks very similar. To the point I'd assume they are the same design.

Is this just a case where Amazon got a reference implementation out the door before Google did?

UK-AL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't get this. I have a Chromecast + nexus 7 as a remote and its already my preferred way of watching Netflix etc. Much better than a clusmly remote.

I hope this doesn't mean there backtracking on Chromecast.

gagege 2 days ago 4 replies      
Did anyone else not see Amazon in that list of apps?
kin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google Cast sounds a bit too good to be true, just like the Chromecast was. I hated the Chromecast 'cause it simply didn't have enough content for me and the performance was terrible.

I'll have to wait and see how the performance for the Google Cast is. I'd like it to at least be as good as my ability to airplay HD MKV files to an Apple TV.

Pxtl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now that every company is releasing gamepads for their set-top devices hopefully we'll see android games support them properly.
wfjackson 2 days ago 3 replies      
>Get your apps on Google Play, or rent a movie if your app doesnt have what youre looking for

What? Are they exclusively targeting movie content with this? It doesn't make much sense to rent a movie if store apps don't have a feature I am looking for.

d23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me, or do the controllers (both of them) look just like the Fire TV's controllers?

I just don't get it. Does every company have to jump in head first to any emerging market just because the others are doing it?

izacus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, this will replace my RPi with XBMC (for local playback) and Chromecast combo nicely - not having to use two devices will clear up some HDMI space on the receiver :)

The Android TV interface looks pretty sleek as well.

AdmiralAsshat 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the question on everyone's mind is: how well will it run XBMC?
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Surprisingly not mentioned on the fr_FR main page https://archive.today/zYpBZ

edit: ha... probably market limited.

xngzng 2 days ago 0 replies      
Feel quite certain we will see Apple announce 4th generation Apple TV tomorrow with a gaming capable A7 processor for Metal games, and voice capable remote control the same as Nexus Player.
ccozan 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Start here, finish there" is one of the good features. However is not really new, I can do the same with Amazon Prime ( w/ App from Smart Tv and App on Tablet ).
devin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sad that a bunch of designers can't come up with an original thought. Looks exactly like the Apple TV.
mmanfrin 2 days ago 0 replies      
So this is a Fire TV + Chromecast - Amazon Siloed Content.
general_failure 2 days ago 2 replies      
This kills Roku.

Roku is dead, long live Roku.

Igglyboo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wanted this ever since I saw the Amazon Fire TV, will no doubt be much more "hackable" than Amazons version of android.
baq 2 days ago 0 replies      
intel inside. interesting times.
thedangler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it is just me but I do not see it in the play store. (Canada)
acgourley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if it has miracast?
cbeach 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Your favourite apps are on Nexus Player"

Spotify and iPlayer are my favourites. Notably absent.

notastartup 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remember ouya?
swartkrans 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is that running Google TV?
cbsmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
A.K.A.: Nexus Q 2.0
higherpurpose 2 days ago 2 replies      
Shame it comes with a much weaker Atom processor instead of the new 64-bit Tegra processor, that's already in the Nexus 9 tablet. That decision doesn't make any sense to me, which shows once again that Google's Intel-related decisions are all political, and not technical.
Apple Built A SIM Card That Lets You Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, And T-Mobile
372 points by calvin_c  1 day ago   179 comments top 27
IkmoIkmo 1 day ago 7 replies      
Probably the most interesting thing from Apple today, in my opinion. The ability to buy short term plans from different providers effortlessly can turn my tablet into a much more versatile device, and increase competition and reduce long-term carrier lock-in.

It's pretty sweet and if it can set a standard for phones then we'll see carriers become true utilities between which customers can switch easily if they get poor service. In short, pretty awesome.

Today's carrier system kind of feels like this dinosaur, like a landline... archaic and unnecessary. With so many people travelling, changing places, changing technology etc, it makes a lot of sense to move from subscriptions to short-time payments, and eventually, pay-per second of use on the fly, directly, without an account or monthly statement, with a push payment instead of a pull payment. (digital currencies being a key element here). Anyway, getting a bit too off-topic here, but cool first move by Apple for sure!

apayan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apple filed a patent on this Virtual SIM card in 2011. More info here:http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/11/apple-in...

The linked article suggests it's a method to save space in the hardware design so the SIM is not user serviceable. However, it also forces you to only buy data service from Apple approved carriers. Notice in the screen shot from the OP's article that Cricket or any of the more affordable MVNO's are not available as options.

This change is just as much about control over where you spend your carrier dollars (and, possibly, Apple getting a kickback) as it is about saving space.

maximumoverload 1 day ago 6 replies      
I admit, as an European, I see no point to this.

If you want a new SIM card, and you don't have a contract, just buy a new SIM card and put it in your phone / tablet.

If you have a long-term contract, this won't help you anyway.

Where is the catch? (Sorry if I am sounding stupid)

davb 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really don't like the sound of this. The SIM card is the one thing that keeps mobile service relatively divorced from the hardware. I can keep the same phone but change SIM whenever it suits. I can also take change hardware and just move the SIM.

I don't need to ask my provider or hardware OEM for permission. I have control. In the Apple scenario I'm giving this up. I vaguely remember some wrangling with GSMA over this.

Ultimately, as with many Apple products, we'll be trading control for convenience.

BuildTheRobots 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm slightly amazed at the awed coverage this is getting.

As others have pointed out, multi-IMSI SIM cards are nothing new, though points to Apple for getting the network carriers on board and sharing keys.

Getting a replacement SIM card is not a problem (certainly not in the UK). Most of the networks will happily post you out one for free and you can buy them for virtually no money in all phone shops, most supermarkets, market stalls... everywhere -even in this tiny backwater technophobic village where I work.

My worry is that this is the start of a path down to devices having embedded SIM cards that are not user replaceable, or even have no SIM at all and just use the secure storage module built into the chipset. This seems like a bad hole to be heading down as it would directly take choice and power away from the end user.

silveira 1 day ago 1 reply      
In Brazil people have been using things like these for about a decade. http://www.dx.com/p/triple-sim-cards-adapter-for-iphone-4-4s...
hazmatter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually this feature is not Apple exlusive.

I created a little project that allows remote usage of multiple SIM cards as a Software-SIM on MTK based Android phones. Forward the commands via TCP from a modified Baseband-firmware.This means you could e.g. have multiple SIM cards for your business trip without changing the card in your phone. Also malicious people could steal your SIM authentication if you use a vulnerable Android phone and use it:



gcb0 1 day ago 2 replies      
that probably overrides/ignores the SIM card and use hardcoded GSM ids from the device. as if it has a sim slot plus 3 hardcoded sim, that you can select which one to use on software.

so i doubt you will be able to activate those hardcoded sims with any plan that easily. i doubt you will even be able to activate it without apple help.

but of course, im just guessing. have no idea if that is the case.

Evolved 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I pay $176/month for 3 lines with AT&T and all 3 lines still have the unlimited data @$30/month on them. I can buy 3 subsidized iphone 6s for $600+tax total ($200 each) or I can buy them each at $650. The price per month works out to about $27/month per phone. Will AT&T knock $27 off per month per phone if I buy them outright? The answer is no. I've talked to supervisor after supervisor about it and there is no discount if I upgrade and buy the phone outright up front. So I ask, where's the incentive?

AT&T is by no means perfect but given all the traveling I've done and my experiences with Verizon and T-Mobile (never tried Sprint) I've found that AT&T and Verizon are interchangeable and T-Mobile is not quite on the same level.

I know my rate plan hasn't become more expensive when I upgrade so how can I expect that it will become cheaper if I bring my own device?

akandiah 1 day ago 0 replies      
The concept is called multi-IMSI. It's been possible to do this for a while now.
wy 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really an interesting feature (let's say 'feature' at this moment). Actually, in person, I do really consider this is an tremendous improvement for any carrier-required mobile devices.

It makes mobile devices really "mobile". Customers do not have to physically enter a local carrier store to add a new line/data-plan or transfer to another carrier. It might save a great amount of time and efforts especially when traveling overseas.

Hope it came to iPhone in near future. Due to the easiness of switching carriers, hope it would help bringing down prices.

deadweight3 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've known about this for a while, though I don't remember my source. I seem to recall that it was first envisioned under Jobs, and AT&T started swinging punches when they caught a whiff. Although the source appears solid in hindsight, I chalked it up to a subterfuge project. Can anyone who has since left confirm this was the same initiative?
defen 1 day ago 2 replies      
So with this tech, how long until Apple starts offering MVNO services? And eventually completely destroys whatever profit margins the current operators have?
hayksaakian 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why would they NOT talk about this today?

It baffles me.

burn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow this is a serious game changer, I was thinking about this the other day. I would be great to be able to turn off and on a sim card in your smartphone. So if you were using an iPhone and wanted to use your Android phone you just turned the iPhone sim off and used your android phone without having to call and de-activate it everytime.
lurkinggrue 7 hours ago 0 replies      
But makes it harder to switch devices... Nice one Apple.
jpkeisala 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember some years back Nokia made software SIM but it disappeared from the radar probably due Telcos pressure. Glad we get something to that direction finally.
jlarocco 1 day ago 2 replies      
How does this work?

I have an iPhone 5 with Sprint, and I thought I was more or less locked in because they used CDMA. I thought I would need a new phone if I wanted to switch to anything else.

Would love to know I've been wrong and can switch without buying out my contract and buying a phone...

kleptco 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is about trading carrier lockin for apple lockin, that's all.
Animats 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why not have a phone with three SIM card slots? Avoid the kickback from the carrier to Apple.
seanmcdirmid 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was in Thailand, one carrier had the ability to co-opt my China unicom SIM and provide service there. I don't think my SIM was a soft one, I think they were actually co-opting the numbers!
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting they don't mention Verizon. They do mention that participating carriers are subject to change though, so presumably they can add (or delete) carriers from the device.
67726e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Easier to track for whom? If you think Apple doesn't already have a way of uniquely identifying a device, regardless of location and connection, you're out of it.
wlesieutre 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does it work with prepaid, or just contracts? If you could just temporarily swap over to T-Mobile's $30 prepaid unlimited data, that would be a big deal.
tapsboy 1 day ago 2 replies      
With Multipath TCP across multiple LTE networks, this could enable substantial improvement in network performance.

Edit: I meant it as a future possibility

rbcgerard 1 day ago 0 replies      
This will be great for people who have different mobile phone #'s in different countries if it evolves that far...
airencracken 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is less about switching providers more easily and more about preventing users from modifying even the SIM card. Apple wants you to never open or modify the device in any way possible.
Android 5.0 Lollipop
352 points by koesie10  2 days ago   108 comments top 21
fakename 2 days ago 9 replies      
"Improved network selection logic so that your device connects only if there is a verified internet connection on Wi-Fi"

jfc, I can't believe this is just now being fixed. This has to be the most infuriatingly stupid thing about android.I don't have hopes of them adding the ability to intelligently switch from a weak wifi signal to a strong cell signal, but this is a step in the right direction.No more assuming I have no new emails/texts when I'm in an airport because my phone quietly joined a wifi network and is waiting for me to open a browser and log in.

spindritf 2 days ago 3 replies      
Motorola will also update their older phones to Lollipop. Including Moto X and G starting with the 1st gen.


obsurveyor 2 days ago 2 replies      
> As previewed at Google I/O, Lollipop is our largest, most ambitious release on Android with over 5,000 new APIs for developers.

As a developer not initiated to the Android platform, the second half of this sentence is a very scary thing to read.

eggoa 2 days ago 1 reply      
A guest user mode is a great idea. It would be nice to be able to lend someone my phone without effectively handing them the keys to my entire life.
UnoriginalGuy 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am really curious to see if there will be noticeable "real world" battery life improvements. On paper they have done things which SHOULD give us improvements (ART, and "Project Volta" scheduling), however it remains to be seen just how well those theoreticals will translate into improvements on the ground.

I have read reports from people who have tried the developer preview, however their anecdotes vary so wildly (e.g. 10-60% improvements) it is hard to believe any of them. Need something more scientific than people's vague "I got more hours today than yesterday."

solrwnd 2 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like no fine-grained control of app permissions, either dynamic/on-demand or manual. This approach (all or nothing) is one major issue that cripples Android usability for me. :(
chris-at 2 days ago 0 replies      
Privacy isn't even mentioned in its features :(


4lejandrito 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you read the whole article you'll find that the nexus 4 will be supported
jastanton 2 days ago 3 replies      
6 hours of battery life for 15 minutes of charging? Wow.
avree 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I'm curious as to when the AOSP public repos will be updated to contain the release version of L.
dotBen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wondering if Google will clarify the upgrade path for those of us with Android L side loaded onto our phones.

My guess is it will require a re-flash back to KitKat so that Lollipop can be auto-upgrade over the air. In which case I might as well get that going now...

mtck 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all of your Android devices."

Catching up to Apple but I'd love to see this across laptops as an app or through Chrome.

mpthrapp 2 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone know if there's a way to find out if my phone (HTC One M8) will be able to upgrade to 5?
higherpurpose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Siecje 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to be able to view battery as a percent.
hayksaakian 2 days ago 0 replies      
No SDK until the 17 though.
k-mcgrady 2 days ago 10 replies      
So the Nexus 4, which is just under 2 years old, won't support Lollipop? Considering the device is from Google and not through a carrier I would expect better. No pricing on the Nexus 6 but I would expect it will cost a lot more than Nexus devices have in the past. And at only 1 inch less than their Nexus 7 tablet it seems ridiculously large. At what point is it a tablet that makes calls and not a phone?

Nexus Player is very interesting though - but again it all depends on the price which they haven't mentioned.


As people below have pointed out they changed the page to include the Nexus 4 after my post.

ryandvm 2 days ago 0 replies      
a.k.a. iOS 9
jarin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Darn, I was hoping for Lemon Cakes.
twobits 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your chains are more golden now.
valinor4 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, will also be available on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks."

I don't understand why people keep saying that it won't come on Nexus 4.

One Less Password
379 points by cpeterso  5 days ago   156 comments top 51
abalone 5 days ago 5 replies      
Not a bad idea but the chief drawbacks I see:

1. Needs a very long-lived session to be convenient. Elsewhere they note their's is a whole year.[1] That's a long time to go without reauthenticating a client!

2. Authentication is or should be a much more common event than recovering a lost password, and now that's totally dependent on your email provider. One concern is latency.. a minute can feel like an hour while waiting to log in to your account to do something urgent. But also worrisome is provider downtime, spam filters, etc. all can block you from accessing your accounts.

Of course the way they "deal" with #2 is by just trying to avoid authenticating you very often (#1), which is not a generally-applicably awesome security practice. Might be ok in some cases but I wouldn't classify that as an overall "better" way to sign in.

I think a better way to solve this is at the browser/OS level with built-in password generation and management. And that's actually a third drawback to this approach.. it's incompatible with password managers.

[1] https://chrisdecairos.ca/one-time-passwords-pt-2/

janfoeh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea. The downside is of course having to switch between the site and your email.

One could bridge that gap by adding two headers to the authentication emails - one containing the URL where the sign in request originated, and one with the sign in URL that must be visited.

A browser extension could then check your emails, and if an incoming mail matches the sign-in page of the current tab, log you in directly.

thedufer 5 days ago 1 reply      
I implemented this style of login in the app I'm currently building. I don't think its necessarily appropriate everywhere; the reason I decided to use it is that its the type of service you very rarely log into. For things like that, a large portion of logins are (anecdotally) going to end up going through the forgot password flow anyway.

I will admit that not being responsible for storing passwords was one of the reasons I used it. I'm by no means a security expert; one less thing I can screw up seems like a major plus.

atmosx 5 days ago 2 replies      
A modern password manager (e.g. 1Password) seems like a way more natural solution that this. Not to mention that many services do not use smtpd+ssl/tls.
ChuckMcM 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this, I was thinking the other day when I used a site that I rarely use, and went through the whole 'forgot resend reenter' password thing that just that could be the 'standard' way of dealing with low impact sites and wouldn't force a password to be generated. It does imply the mail path is workable but that seems pretty common these days.
BinaryIdiot 5 days ago 4 replies      
It's clever but I wouldn't use it. First the user experience of going from one channel (web) to another (email) isn't very natural but the second and biggest reason is that it turns an email account into a central authority to access my other accounts from.

Some say email is already like that but it isn't with services using two factor authentication.

I don't think there is an easy and intuitive way to get rid of passwords without involving some sort of physical component that stays on yourself.

downandout 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is still nothing more than a password...it's essentially just a password that is emailed to you. I've never understood why we can't instead authenticate ourselves to our browser or device, and get people out of the habit of authenticating to individual websites. This would eliminate phishing and greatly enhance security. Touch ID is a big step in this direction, but still can't be used for websites.

When authenticating, the browser could just send the user's public key, and if a user with that key is in the system, it replies with a session key encrypted with the user's public key. If browser companies would get their act together, we wouldn't have as many authentication issues as we do today.

pmichaud 5 days ago 2 replies      
I remember this idea from a while back, and I still think it's not going to work. It's too cumbersome to have to access your email every time you want to log into something. I love the creativity of the solution, but I just don't think it's workable on a large scale.
sarahj 5 days ago 1 reply      
This essentially mimics my login flow to every site I only use occasionally (e.g. twitter) and therefore can never remember the password for:

1. Go to login

2. Forget password - click reset password

3. Go to email, find reset password email

4. Login.

I wouldn't really mind if this became more common. I don't trust password managers (and access the internet from so many different devices that the only common thing they share between them is that I can access my webmail client or email on my phone.)

mderazon 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like this idea for mobile apps a lot.

In mobile the sign up flow can even be more streamlined using deep linking:

1. User enters email address.

2. Opens email client and click the link.

3. Link contain app specific schema myapp://login?token=cold_fish etc.

4. App opens and verifies the token with the server.

5. User is logged in.

User has to enter only email address as opposed to email + password (and sometime password confirmation)Then only needs to click a link in email client to sign up.

jordanpg 5 days ago 2 replies      
The cynic in me observes that although this post is couched in the language of an improved UX, what it also does is absolves Mozilla from keeping any (hashed) passwords stored in their databases. Only tokens with a very short shelf-life.

(Hashed) Password storage is moved to a third-party database (the email provider). Presumably the client "remember me" links are meaningless by themselves.

netheril96 4 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't email transferred in plain text? This is not very secure in my mind. Granted, nowadays a lot of service lets you reset your password through email, but that is only a one time thing. Now the whole system is dependent on someone not introspecting the packets flowing in the Internet.
scottmotte 5 days ago 0 replies      
I too would "like to see [this approach] used and pushed further by other designers and developers."

I'm one of those who have been trying to do so. I created an open source approach called Handshake.js that is re-usable for developers. [1]

I presented this topic to a good crowd at JS.LA [2].

At the current time, I'm finding developers still hesitant to jump into the approach. Passwords are familiar and there are many developer tools/libraries to quickly setup the defacto username/password approach to authentication.

[1] https://sendgrid.com/blog/lets-deprecate-password-email-auth...[2] https://vimeo.com/90883185

rakoo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ah ! I built this a few months back:


It uses the same idea as in the post, ie the "lost password flow for login", but with XMPP. The latter gives you much higher flexibility in that it actually is thought out as a programmable protocol. You try to login, the server sends a token to any of your connected clients via a bot message, you just repeat it to the bot and you're then granted access.

I feel there is high potential here, and there even is an official XEP (http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0070.html) for this.

RexRollman 5 days ago 1 reply      
Playing with NetBSD the other day, and bored, I created an SSH key for the first time and was amazed that I had not been using this for forever. I think keys could replace passwords, or at least, cookie based logins.
MicroBerto 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's funny is that we're basically doing a very similar thing at my startup, PricePlow (https://www.priceplow.com), and it was actually inspired by discussion earlier here at Hacker News.

It works very well for our purposes. We don't need crazy security because we store no important personal information -- just product preferences. It's insanely easy on the users.

I guess I should get back to blogging about my entrepreneurial lessons learned, as this has been one of many of them....

thesumofall 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is a fully fledged implementation for Node.js https://passwordless.net Disclaimer: I'm leading the development
harigov 5 days ago 1 reply      
So instead of directly logging in using the ID provider like FB/Google/Microsoft, which are also the email providers, you send an email to those accounts and ask user to take one extra step of checking and clicking the link. It seems to be inefficient. A much better solution should be for the devices to support accounts natively and integrate authentication directly into the platform.
codinghorror 5 days ago 1 reply      
How is this any materially different than the "I always forget my password and I always use the forgot password link"? I guess you don't have to pick a new password each time? But you could just rapidly type in gibberish and achieve nearly the same effect, no real password, login via email.
jplarson 5 days ago 1 reply      
The biggest reason for me to pass on implementing an approach like this is what I THINK is the actual most common use case for a typical user when logging into a site at which they are a regular:

They're doing so for the nth time, and on the (or a) device they usually use, and thus their browser (or other password manager) has already got their password remembered and thus it is pre-filled in.

Having to click back and forth between email every time you log in seems way clunky relative to that, which for me is something above 90% of the instances I log in to some web application.

Couple that smoothness with picking a non-reused, strong password for a web application (which password managers make actually practical) and the friction in the user login experience seems to have little if any upside.

LukeB_UK 5 days ago 2 replies      
Every time I've heard of this system, I've thought that it would make it clumsier to access an account.

I go to a site and my intention is to stay on that site throughout whatever I'm doing there. If you force me off your site for something like logging in (where it's the point of 'I trust your site, give me access') then I've lost focus and you've put your experience in someone else's hands.

If I was doing this, I'd have to open a new tab, go to GMail, wait for it to load, find the tab within GMail that has the email and then click the link. Every so often, I'd probably have to put my Google password in too. That's a lot of effort, considering that your site probably isn't that significant to me.

pulkitpulkit 4 days ago 1 reply      
I really like the way TranferWise (transferwise.com) automatically signs me in when I load the page. It's a way to transfer money online so has to be secure, but uses my email authentication to verify it's me. I don't even have to click a sign-in button! I'm surprised this hasn't caught on more...


imrehg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Startup Digest event submissions use similar method: no account, every login is an email sent to you. The problem I have is that I do use a password manager and like that much a lot more than switching back and forth of email and the site. If I go to your site, I don't want to go to my email...

It really feels like they want to solve my password storage problem for me, in a very opinionated manner without any alternative for me, and while it might be a good solution, it does not feel like one (for me).

FlailFast 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like this idea a lot, but given the centralization of authority to a user's email account, I do think it requires beefed up security for however the user accesses their email---i.e., would be great to allow this only for users who have 2FA enabled on their webmail, although I have no idea how you'd check or enforce that.

Actually, the "lost password" flow already assumes email as a single point of failure, so I suppose my 2FA comment is moot (in other words, we should be pushing for 2FA for accounts regardless of their password approach on other accounts).

joesmo 5 days ago 0 replies      
The main flaw with this idea as well as pretty much every password reset flow is that email itself is insecure. If I want to attack the login system and I have the ability to intercept the emails at some point, I essentially get access to the link/code in plaintext and now have access to the account. The difference might be that there will be a much higher volume of emails from a system like this than from one that just uses email for resetting passwords, though that's not guaranteed. I'd like to see a system that address this issue.
lazyjones 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does this handle concurrent logins from multiple devices reasonably? If every login essentially resets the "password", either all other existing sessions are terminated (bad usability) or kept (possibly insecure).

The linked more technical description suggests that the latter is done (sessions on trusted devices are valid for 1 year), so you apparently cannot stop someone with a stolen device from accessing your account (while the session is active / the cookie persists).

cpeterso 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the Mozilla Webmaker blog post with a more user-centric discussion of the password-less system: https://blog.webmaker.org/one-less-password

I was initially concerned that email is insecure, but then I remember sites already use email for password reset. :) My bank does something similar by also remembering my personal computers by browser fingerprinting and/or IP address.

jsudhams 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the service is not going to contain any privacy related stuff or need not be so secure why not just keep the cookie after typing in email address.

What i do is i keep all worthy sites'password on the password manager and the rest of the site follow a pattern based password or a common simple password. For e.g. i typically use some this "keepass"or domain of visited web + keepass

marco1 5 days ago 0 replies      
We shouldn't abuse email for this. Any one of LastPass, 1Password, KeyPass etc. or SSO with Google, Facebook or Twitter can do this way better. You will probably be using extremly long and random strings, i.e. you're storing secure tokens there. You can't call those passwords any longer -- and we should forget about the notion of manually creating and then remembering passwords to sign-in.
TomGullen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Submit phone number, and it SMS's you your password.

If I steal someone's phone, I get access to any system using this.

If I buy a sim card off someone, or buy used sim cards, I could also gain access to some potentially high value targets if they use this.

If I 'borrow' my phone of someone, I can steal things from them if the sites using this have value.

etc etc.

esolyt 5 days ago 0 replies      
This makes a lot of sense. On every device you would use to login to some kind of service, you already have access to your primary email. Clicking a link is easier than typing your password. It also seems to be safer. Your account is safe as long as your primary email is not compromised, in which case the attacker would gain access to your account by Forgot Password anyway.
kylequest 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good option for B2C services that are not that important (pretty much most of them actually :-)).

Email delivery problems is a factor that needs to be considered though.

Stolen "remember me" cookies is another factor... The password stealing malware will start harvesting those cookies instead of passwords (it's already happening in some cases).

aidos 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've wondered for a while why this pattern isn't more common.

In the past I had thought it would be great if instead of email it could push to your phone so a message would pop up saying "confirm login? Yes/no". It would be a really simple option from a ux perspective but screw going anywhere near making the crypto tech to support it.

droopybuns 5 days ago 2 replies      
https://fidoalliance.org/ is a much better idea and worth investing in instead.

Passwords must die. We need to get to the point where there is a modular mechanism for authentication so that individual devs never are tempted to create a users table and add a note field for password storage.

frewsxcv 5 days ago 3 replies      
Less -> Fewer
mcmillion 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd much rather just use a password.
flowerpot 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting, I would like to see how non-tech users evaluate the user experience of this.
nicarus1984 4 days ago 0 replies      
What if I want to have this authentication process on my email account itself? :)The only other option (soon to be available) is SMS. Seems a bit too limiting and maybe not completely practical.
alexsmolen 5 days ago 0 replies      
I built an open-source Rails engine for something like this: https://nopassword.alexsmolen.com.
bibonix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a good idea, but how many sites/companies will adopt it? There are tons of similar ideas, but none of them are as popular as login/password...
cpeterso 5 days ago 2 replies      
How does the user log in if they've changed their email address (e.g. switched ISPs and not using a gmail address)? Authenticate using SMS?
nathancahill 5 days ago 0 replies      
Flask-Security supports this experimentally. I love it. It's much less of a hassle than you might imagine, having to click a link in an email.
skion 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Passwords might be useful for someone who works on a public computer at the library."

Key loggers anyone?

cameronehrlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this could be a very elegant solution.
jchysk 5 days ago 1 reply      
LaunchKey. No Passwords. https://launchkey.com
davidkhess 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think storing authentication tokens in people's email is good UX and raises expiration issues.

Here's another take on how to get rid of passwords: The Password Manifesto


ilitirit 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is (partially) only as secure as your email provider's authentication system.
amino 5 days ago 0 replies      
Oculus have been doing something similar with their order tracking for quite a while now.
imaginenore 5 days ago 0 replies      
I actually prefer Reddit's version - email is optional, while password isn't.
mbrain 5 days ago 1 reply      
What to do with projects those have both web and mobile apps?
peterwwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
(edited down for size)

Problem with this system: it requires input on a single device (the computer), removes an out-of-band authentication option (password), and pushes the requirement for authentication down the stack to a system without a secure connection (e-mail, SMS).

In this new system, the password becomes an optional secondary authenticator. Your primary authenticator is now moved to some pre-authenticated service, such as your e-mail (which you have already logged into, presumably with a password) or SMS messaging (which you have already logged into, presumably with a swipe or pin on your phone). On top of that, neither of these uses a secured connection, so MITM/interception are trivial, to say nothing of phishing+CSRF.

One of the major flaws with existing out-of-band authentication access is that we assume the user only has one form of input: the computer. If the computer gets hacked [via malware] the user cannot protect themselves. But the future is here, and we carry [networked] computers in our pockets! Turns out the most secure way we can authenticate is via two separate networks and two separate computers using two secured connections. Example:

  Step 1. User requests to login to HTTPS Site A.  Step 2a. Site A prompts User for a password.  Step 2b. Site A sends an SMS to User with an HTTPS link to click.  Step 3a. User enters password on site.  Step 3b. User clicks link on SMS in mobile device.  Step 4a. Site authenticates password.  Step 4b. Mobile site reads cookie on User's mobile browser.  Step 5. User is authenticated; both mobile device and computer have access to site.
Here you have two different authentication factors on two independent devices which are combined to authenticate the user. The attackers now have to steal a cookie or auth token from two separate devices at once. This is of course completely plausible, but is a much more expensive attack than any currently implemented. Best of all, the user doesn't have to remember the password if they use their browser's password manager or a cookie is stored locally.

It would be trivial to add this dual-auth method to their existing system, so hopefully they implement that instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

For what it's worth, of course, here's an attack that could compromise that system. Attacker shows user a phishing password prompt page that uses a browser hack to steal a cookie. Attacker sends an SMS to the user (assuming they found the user's phone number) with a link to another site which also exploits the mobile browser to steal that cookie. Now the attacker has the two cookies and can log in, assuming the site does not use an Authentication Manager that detects attackers who steal credentials (only large-dollar sites use these).

Always bet on text
350 points by walrus  4 days ago   193 comments top 44
ajuc 3 days ago 7 replies      
People can read much faster than they can speak, and they can google a new words.

You can Ctrl+F arbitraly big text files for keywords. Good luck with doing the same with 2-hours-long video file or mp3. You will need to listen to the whole thing. That's what annoys me about the new trend to do tutorials as video.

You can easily diff text.

Text works with version control systems.

Text works with unix command line tools.

You can trivialy paste relevant fragments on wiki pages, in emails or IM discussions.

Google translate works with text.

Screen readers work with text.

GuiA 3 days ago 3 replies      
I agree that text is undervalued in our current media happy era; I say this as someone who uses terminal applications as much as possible (email, twitter, accounting, programming, etc. - I secretly pray for a return of the text only internet)

On the other hand, there are things that pictures can convey in ways that plain text couldn't approximate.

To link to a famous example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Minard.png

Just looking at this, in half a minute or so, you get a pretty good idea of the quantities involved, how they evolved over time, how they are linked together, etc. Conveying the same information with pure text would be much more lengthy.

I'm not going to make an entire case for this right here - just read Edward Tufte's books if you aren't too familiar with those ideas.

ap22213 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was just telling my wife the other day about how much I'd hoped that text went away in favor of better communication mediums.

I feel shy to admit it, especially here, but I dislike text. I dislike it because it's unnatural. I view it as a hack that was adopted to help communicate ideas through time and space. It's a cool hack, but still unnatural. It requires huge amounts of training to participate, and it has other issues.

I dislike it at a more fundamental level because it tends to leave ideas 'set in stone'. Text, like architecture, seems to have an unnatural tendency to remain unmodified through time and space. It creates dogma and worship and takes up the space where new structures could have potentially formed. It creates things like the bible and the constitution - things that morph from their original intent into an unbreakable form of reverence. Since it disconnects the 'bodies' of the reader and the author, the reader has a tendency to mistake the text as something different from the author and his ideas.

Text has a place - to store the facts of the world at a given time and place, certainly. To store ideas that can be accurately represented with discrete symbology. To transmit the ephemeral. But, I truly hope that we abandon text as a 'serious' medium for ideas in favor of video, audio, simulation, and virtual reality.

Many of us have a bias toward text because that has been how we have lived our lives, through its symbols. Text has altered our brains. But, imagine that you could relive your life without it, with other forms of communication, would you still want it?

Detrus 3 days ago 2 replies      
Doug Engelbart of Mother of All Demos fame talked a lot about artifacts. Books are an artifact of paper and text. WISIWYG is an artifact of print media.

The technology of the medium determines the best way to convey information through it. And on top of that, whatever people are used to may influence what they do in a newer medium. For example we write to imitate speech. We use books on screens and try to recreate the world of print with WISIWYG design tools.

Text may be an evolutionary winner so far, but it is by no means some ideal artifact for communicating when computers are widespread.

Chris_Newton 3 days ago 2 replies      
There are plenty of advantages to text formats, to be sure. Others have mentioned many already, so I wont repeat them. But lets also consider both the disadvantages and how many of the advantages are accidental rather than inherent benefits of using a textual format.

One disadvantage of text is its lack of expressive power. Try reading the equation shown in the article aloud. Now try giving a one hour lecture on advanced quantum mechanics without the aid of mathematical notation. We can often represent information far more concisely and accurately with a good notation than with text alone, particularly when there is some inherent underlying structure that goes beyond what we can conveniently represent with some linear sequence of a tiny set of symbols. Computers are good at that kind of thing, but we dont read Shakespeare in binary, and we certainly dont draw the Twitter icon from the article using nothing but 1s and 0s.

Another disadvantage of text is how much it relies on everyone to use the same conventions, even though in the real world they dont. Go just about anywhere in the world and you can recognise what the little pictures of a man and a women on the two doors in the restaurant mean. Replace them with M and F and youll see people who dont speak English waiting outside to see who comes out of which door. We use different languages. We use different alphabets. In technology, we use different encodings for glyphs and invent all kinds of other concepts in an attempt to standardise how we represent written text, and we still create numerous bugs and portability issues and lost-in-translation problems. Weve been using computers for half a century and change, and we still havent standardised what the end of a line looks like. Or was it the end of a paragraph?

Now, certainly the simplicity of a text format has big advantages today in terms of things like searching for data and programmatic manipulation. But how much of that is just convention and historical accident? Right now, Im typing this using an input device heavily optimised for text, because thats what my computer comes with. If I want to input some graphical notation, say an equation, my choices are probably limited to using some awkward purely textual representation (TeX notation, etc.) or some even more awkward half-text, half-mouse graphical user interface. Neither is an appealing choice, which is why it takes those of us working in mathematical disciplines forever to type up a simple note or paper today.

Technology does exist that can interpret a much wider range of symbols drawn with a stylus or other pointing device as an alternative means of input, but usually as a niche tool or a demonstration of a concept. Until we routinely build user interfaces that parse freeform input and readily turn it into whatever graphical notation was intended, a lot of us are still going to reach for a pencil and paper whenever we want to draw some quick diagram to explain an idea. But I bet a lot of us still do draw that diagram instead of speaking for another five minutes to try to explain it.

Personally, Im looking forward to the day when source control doesnt show me a bunch of crude text-based edits to my code, but instead a concise, accurate representation of what I actually changed from a semantic point of view. But to do that sort of thing, we have to have more semantic information available in the first place, instead of relying on simplistic and sometimes error-prone textual approximations.

Daishiman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, and this carries over very well when talking about code and programs.

Whenever I hear about the stories of the potential of graphical programming languages, "live" code environments living in their own VM, and graph-based logic stuff, the first thing that comes to mind is how come those systems have such a short shelf-life even when some of the concepts behind them are so brilliant.

Between the increased storage space, the interoperability issues, and the exponential difficulty in dealing with non-text media in a variety of operations, there's so much more additional friction to these systems that in the end they're not worth it. Unless, of course, they can be trivially converted to plaintext and parsed as such, then they have a fighting chance.

ukoms 3 days ago 4 replies      
Every letter, number or any sign is a "picture". In fact every written text is in fact structured array of simplified pictures, which happens to be understandable under conditions of given language rules. What should be bet is information. It doesn't really matter what communication tool will be used - information is the creme de la creme. Think about this - I can write simple text: "Mother should love their childrens". Would you still bet on text, if i wrote this in different language? "Kada matka powinna kocha swoje dzieci" or "Kila mama lazima kuwapenda watoto wao" isn't as understandable by most of people, despite the fact letter I used are almost identical. And how about other characters? " " or "" (thanks google translate ;))? In the end what matter is not text itself, but message behind it.
kerkeslager 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Text is the most efficient communication technology. By orders of magnitude. This blog post is likely to take perhaps 5000 bytes of storage, and could compress down to maybe 2000; by comparison the following 20-pixel-square image of the silhouette of a tweeting bird takes 4000 bytes: <Twitter Logo Here>.

My reaction when reading this was, "Yeah, but that's because you encoded it in PNG. That's a 'good-enough' encoding, but you can definitely make it more efficient by making it an SVG, since that image is of the kind that's ideal for vector graphics." And then I remembered SVG is a text-based image format.

Touch, frog hop. Touch.

Adding to the point: karma system on sites such as Reddit has incentivized converting text into images, because text posts don't get karma. For example, r/quotesporn[1] (safe for work) has many more users and quotes than r/quotes[2] which allows only text.

As a collector of quotes, this annoys me to no end, because I can't copy/paste the quotes into my personal quotes collection.

[1] http://reddit.com/r/quotesporn safe for work)

[2] http://reddit.com/r/quotes

bluerobotcat 3 days ago 3 replies      
'Always bet on text' is a catchy slogan, but the author fails to define 'text'. This is confusing because the post contains a lot of pictures of things that I don't know we would all agree are text.

Let's start with a radical position. Is something text iff it can be directly encoded in UTF-8? What, then, about symbols that have not yet made there way into Unicode? Like an i dotted with a heart. Does it become text when the Unicode Consortium says so?

Nowadays memes tend to be distributed as (animated) bitmaps. But if we wanted to, we could encode them more efficiently. So are they text?

If 'text' = Unicode then that would also mean that many mathematical expressions (matrices, fractions) are not text. Math texts before symbols were not very readable: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2014/06/bef...

ASCII-encoded math is not without problems either.

Does 'text' include semantic markup like 'emphasis', 'heading', or 'list-item'? Does it include visual markup like 'italic', 'underline', 'blue', or 'Times New Roman'?

Does 'text' include newline and tab characters? Is it correct to say that newlines and tab characters exist on paper? If they don't then why do we use them to indent blocks of code?

If a sheet of paper with scribblings can be text, then can a bitmap be text too?

Now that I've brought up mathematics, HTML, and code, should we think of text as a linear medium or is it better to think of texts as trees?

What about handritten class notes that include arrows that link together different text fragments? Are these arrows part of the text? Does that mean that texts are directed graphs?

I'm even wondering if the author might actually have meant 'always bet on language', although that seems kind of obvious.

Or perhaps he meant 'don't needlessly throw away information', which is what would be happening if your CMS served pages as HTML image maps.

That is to say, even if we're all inclined to say that text is awesome, which we probably are, we might still be saying quite different things.

Ygg2 3 days ago 2 replies      
I did some research on textual vs graphical representation for my master. According to that research (not on my comp so I can't reference it) - one of main advantages of text is a near universal set of symbols (like Ascii for images), more constrained relationships (images are 2D while text is essentially 1D).
pdkl95 3 days ago 0 replies      
Early in science education is the very important lesson that you always write units for your answers, as they are more important than any numerical value you happened to get. The best teacher I ever had liked to use an example of a simple cake recipe: "2, 8, 9, 2.5" tells you nothing, while "flour, butter, eggs, sugar" is something you could experiment with to find the specific values. The text units (labels) convey far more information.

I propose that this is one of the key reasons why text files are vastly superior to binary formats. While they end up very similar in normal use, the readability enables investigation and experimentation, while writing a raw struct out to a file keeps the meaning in the (possibly lost or unobtainable) original program files.

// if speed is needed, you can always cache the parsed version of the text file

wuliwong 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the purpose of this post.

"Text wins by a mile." Wins what?

"Text is everything." I don't get his point.

The opening of this post has the feel more of a fan blog about their favorite baseball team than something intellectually serious.

In the second paragraph the author says "text is the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology ever, period." I suppose this is the purpose of this post? I guess if he is saying if he could only have one form of communication, he would choose text (removing speech from the list). I guess, but is this actually a debate? Are there really different "camps" that prefer images over text or video, etc?

I could delve into the arguments presented in the article but I think first I need to understand the thesis.

EDIT: To the down-voter, do you have anything to ask or say? Or are you just down-voting because you disagree? Everyone is interpreting this article to mean "there is too heavy a bias towards multimedia on the web today" but this is not the thesis of this article as I see it. The author is making arguments that text is better than multimedia in an absolute/complete sense. This is an entirely different argument.

analog31 3 days ago 1 reply      
A couple more points about text:

1) In addition to being searchable, text lends itself to other forms of automated processing such as translation and text-to-speech for the vision impaired.

2) I'm prone to debilitating eyestrain headaches when I try to do any kind of graphical work on a computer, yet I can write text without looking at the screen.

malandrew 3 days ago 0 replies      
Text also has a history and toolset that is hundreds (printing presses with moveable type) to thousands of years old (writing systems usable with some sort of scribe tool to mark clay tablets or draw on papyrus scrolls). The ability to quickly communicate in images is remarkably new relative to all that. In the renaissance you had three proper types of intaglio processes (drypoint, engraving, etching), but novel ideas required someone to create new printing blocks from scratch in a laborious process, especially relative to moveable type. Only since the advent of GUI computing systems have we had tools that make it easy to effectively communicate with images (CAD, vector and bitmap drawing apps, image manipulation apps, video editing). These tools are still very much in the realm of professionals, but tablets have done a lot to democratize the ability for laymen to use them to communicate. Furthermore, memes now form a basic form of communication, which you can see through reddit and hipchat integration.

In 100 years, what the average person will be able to communicate quickly with images is likely to be unimaginable to us today.

Anyways, I'm not saying text isn't superior in many ways, just that its way to early to judge images given technical limitations.

I think writing systems like the Chinese writing system is instructive in this respect. It had roots from thousands of years ago, like western writing systems, and both were about as effective until the end of the 19th century with the linotype machine and the mid to late 20th century with 7, 9, 14 and 16 segment liquid crystal displays. Western writing systems enjoyed a big advantage from a technical perspective until only recently because they were simple enough in form to be conveyed by simpler technologies than the Chinese writing system.

If such a gulf can exist, even if only for a few decades, between two "text" systems, then it's not a stretch to see image-based systems as comparable, but requiring better technology to become a powerful as text in the sense that Graydon is talking about here.

gear54rus 3 days ago 2 replies      
I tend to agree. Yet human thoughts are presented in the form of pictures (dreams? you don't really see text in front of you when dreaming).

It's one thing that a computer cannot make sense of 4000 bytes of a tweeting bird, but human brain instantly recognizes the rendered sign.

Also, videos and music are very hard to describe in text: it just does not have this unique feel video or music piece does.

antonyme 3 days ago 2 replies      
Not only is text durable, but plain text data is universal.

Take a document written in the word processor du jour 20 years ago. It is highly unlikely you could mount the physical media, let alone import the data with high fidelity. But plain text can be read by just about any tool, whereas binary/proprietary formats are limited by the longevity of the hardware/software that created them.

gokhan 3 days ago 2 replies      
If Chinese can be read faster (I don't know), than it's the picture that matters. Here, try to represent this picture in text:


It's 28K, a full text definition might be smaller but will be hardly accurate. My brain can process this single picture faster than a possible text representation of it.

Text is more practical 99% of the time but it's actually small pictures, known as letters, used together to symbolize concepts. I don't think my brain interprets letters individually, but my eyes mostly catch word by word, hence a picture.

Derbasti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am actually somewhat worried about the longevity of our current tools. When we die, what will happen to our digital photos, and writings? Will our children find our diary in our home directory like they do when it sits on the bedside table? Will they look at our wedding pictures like they do when they find old photo albums? Will they remember our PhD thesis when it was never printed, but only ever a pdf?

Quite possibly, we might end up a forgotten generation, since procedures for cataloging digital memorabilia will only be invented after the lessons learned from the deaths of the first digital natives. One can only hope that archive.org will at least have an ugly copy of our blog.

RivieraKid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure what the fuss is about. Sometimes text is optimal, other times images, video or something else is more suitable. I don't really understand the point of this article.
jokoon 3 days ago 1 reply      
People can read text and understand it. Computers need parsers. Parsers are hard to write, and the time needed to parse one text will be just proportionate to the length of the text. Parsing can't be parallelized.

I'm sure the browser industry could benefit from a open, compiled html format, it would be so fast. I still wonder why there is no such format.

It's not about filesize though, gzip does a really great job at compressing text, but it's just about making a page load faster. It's no surprise to see web browser use so much memory: html is very flexible (there's nothing better), but it's fat.

That is a problem somewhat similar to the RISC vs x86. Risc has a simpler set of instructions, is a faster processor, but executables are much much bigger, requiring more cache. x86 has a more complex set of instructions, so it's slower, but the executables are much smaller. It's a balance to find.

I wonder if you could extend battery life by using compiled html. I would love to test that kind of tech on "normal" cellphones and see if how it performs.

brockers 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are 20 year old binary formats that we cannot recover because we have lost their decoders. There are 4000 year old texts we have been able to decipher because text is so many orders of magnitude easier to decode. There are anthropologists who argue that it wasn't tools or speech that led humanity out of caves, but writing (and the abstract thought that is facilitates.
xg15 3 days ago 5 replies      
Please describe an average Git commit graph as text in a way that you can actually draw some insight from it. And no, ASCII art doesn't count.
vph 3 days ago 0 replies      
If done properly, multimedia can convey information that text cannot possibly do. Text just lack the dimensions that multimedia have. An example includes the RSA Animate series, which take really good books written by really good authors and condensed that into very informative 5-minute videos.
Chirael 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know there are reasons for it, but I'm still sad to read that HTTP/2 will use a binary format instead of text :(http://http2.github.io/faq/
ThomPete 3 days ago 0 replies      
Although it's certainly true text is powerful, text is also a reduction of reality.

There is a whole universe of things phenomena text it's sub-optimal for. Experiences being one of them.

damian2000 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get the point of this to be honest ... things that can be stored as text generally are, those that aren't, e.g. videos, photos, sound files, can't be represented by text - they're media.
netcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
text is the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology

True, and very interesting to consider.

OTOH, if you can simulate a person who knows how to express themselves speaking to you personally, there's and even technology you tap into. That's a technology we have actually adapted to biologically.

Everything else is just hijacking faculties designed to allow your uncle to explain to you how to make rope from bark.

duaneb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to point out that cave art far predates any substantial 'text' we might have. Even if just as a shape to form a glyph, images are by far the most powerful method of human communicationno language is at all necessary. Language can add power, but at such a cost (learning a language takes years).
elliotec 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great argument for text over icons in design. I wonder if in 250 years people will still know what the 3 bars (hamburger?) icon did.
xioxox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Text is great, but graphs and diagrams are often better for representing certain kinds of information or relationships. When I read a scientific paper, the figures are often what I look at first after the title, sometimes even before the abstract.
Istof 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Text is the oldest and most stable communication technology [...]"

I don't really know but text is probably not the oldest...

joeheyming 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why scripting/interpreted languages are vastly faster to produce than compiled programming languages.
tempodox 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's why Unix uses text, and not some binary form, for most data exchange.
cLeEOGPw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess I'll have to drop Blender and use text files to create 3D models, because some guy on the internet thinks that text is "the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology ever, period".

If the point of the article was to trick people into clicking, then it succeeded in that I guess.

chj 3 days ago 0 replies      
The vast information in DNA is also represented in "text", sort of.
bnjs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some stuff is good for stuff. Other stuff is good for other stuff. :)
0xdeadbeefbabe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Text is just small pictures, so always bet on small pictures.
huhrly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm disappointed the author has illustrated their article.
sanxiyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why Snapchat is a chat, in addition to being a snap.
adnam 3 days ago 0 replies      
And then there's XML...
PhasmaFelis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I liked the article, but in retrospect I'm not clear what it's arguing against. What are the technologies that people have promoted to the author but are trumped by text? I feel like there's an interesting story there.
VLM 3 days ago 0 replies      
No discussion of labor? You guys are missing a major part of the argument.

Looking at OPs article, if my purpose is to explain human rights, text is staggeringly more efficient in labor of creation, not just time spent interpreting it or storing it or searching it.

An artists life work might produce a painting that conveys the entire meaning of the definition from the article of human rights. Maybe. I bet that would be an amazing painting and I'd enjoy viewing it. But ... aside from high art, can we afford general commerce in an artistic style? Is it affordable for society to create an interpretive dance implementation of my mortgage statement and is that a wise use of limited artistic skill and labor?

Its possible to create deeply meaningful works of art, at staggering expense of materials and labor both creation and interpretation and storage and archiving. That doesn't mean that most human creations (my water bill, the instructions for my TV, the receipt Amazon included with my $4 HDMI cable) are worthy of artistic labor.

If a graphics artist or painter is any good, I don't want that artist to waste time on my electric bill, I'd much rather have the fruits of their labor hanging on a wall in a frame. If they're not any good, I don't want them screwing up my electric bill making it incomprehensible.

anilshanbhag 3 days ago 4 replies      
The arguments presented are highly biased. Text is great but images conveying the same meaning are always better. Why ? We can grasp the same information when conveyed via image. Say you are conveying an idea to someone or speaking to a conference - you always try to minimize text and use graphics to illustrate concepts as people tend to understand faster that way.
Tsukiko 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fuck Hacker News.The comment system here sucks camel's ass.

After 5 comments I couldn't post for -1.5- 3 hours.That's fucking retarded.And your fucking emotional downvote shit.Worst fucking site for discussion ever.

I thought I could come back but after being involved in more free communities this site feels like a fucking prison where you get beaten and put in a quarantine cell for saying nigger or jew or fucking anything that might offend someone's fucking ass.

Fuck you Fapper Jews.

From Novice to Master, and Back Again
345 points by walrus  6 days ago   27 comments top 6
petercooper 5 days ago 4 replies      
This is the hardcore version of the more common "Google for help on something and get your own blog post/Stack Overflow answer coming up"! :-)
beat 5 days ago 5 replies      
"Geez, what idiot wrote this code? Oh yeah, me."

I hate that feeling.

onedognight 4 days ago 0 replies      
Given that he is listed as an author for ls, cp, mv, ln, rmdir and yes, yes as well, I can see how he might forget that he wrote su.
akbar501 5 days ago 0 replies      
This article is a good reminder of why writing documentation (and commenting code) is important. Often the reader of your docs is you.
bobowzki 5 days ago 1 reply      
I did not expect that ending.
segmondy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Use it or lose it, it happens to the best of us. There is only so much I can remember at one time, I don't even worry about it, so long as I can find a way to look it up. I wish I had a photographic memory. Knowing that I don't, I don't obsess about remembering the details only the high level over view of things.
Firefox 33
330 points by digitalcreate  3 days ago   239 comments top 34
romanovcode 3 days ago 5 replies  &nb
       cached 18 October 2014 02:11:01 GMT