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The Website That Got Me Expelled codeword.xyz
625 points by Rudism  3 days ago   278 comments top 58
acjohnson55 3 days ago 4 replies      
As someone who is both a former student with authority issues and a former high school teacher, this story leaves me with a whole bunch of feelings. You would think that teachers have the maturity to be more or less immune to the impressions of teenagers, but it's actually quite a challenge to maintain face [1] as the instructional leader of dozens of humans. In my experience in Teach For America, it was a fashionable meme that it's the adults that make education hard, not the children. But I think that's not quite honest. While adults are ultimately responsible for everything that's wrong with education, on a day to day basis, you're put in very delicate and stressful situations with children, who are impulsive, emotional, and myopic. It's really, really hard to deal with adolescents at scale.

Yet, in this case, like so many others, it's very clear that at some point, some of the adults decided that it was appropriate to wage total war on the child who offended them. They allowed their hurt feelings to suspend their sense of empathy and proportionality. Even worse, as the role models for the school, they set a standard of absolutism and intolerance. I can identify with them, while also seeing how badly they failed to take the high road.

It's interesting how this same dynamic has played out in criminal justice as well. We struggle with the ability to treat the incarcerated in a humane manner, to hold police accountable for their excesses, to provide security without domestic militarization, and to fully rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-cons into society.

I guess it's probably an inherent tension in human society, when there is a boundary of authority. I just hope we can learn and progress.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_%28sociological_concept%2...

Animats 2 days ago 2 replies      
The most famous incident like this is "neverseconds".[1] This is the blog of a primary school girl in Scotland who, each day, took a picture of her school lunch and reviewed it. The school authorities threatened her and insisted she stop. That backfired on them, badly. Coverage on TechDirt. Coverage on the BBC. Worldwide press coverage. 10 million page views of blog. Complaints in Parliament. School authorities disciplined by national education minister. Public apology by town council. Girl wins several awards for fighting censorship.

Her blog is still active, three years later. She encourages other kids to send in pictures of their school lunches, and it's a great site for seeing what kids have for lunch around the world.

[1] http://neverseconds.blogspot.com/2012/06/goodbye.html

ejk314 3 days ago 4 replies      
Ah, the good old days. I remember in middle school when I'd set up my first webpage. I got my first and only in-school-suspension for going to that site during class. Just going to the website. I just wanted to see if it was up, since I had never accessed it from anywhere but home. My teacher's explanation was "It could have been anything! You can't go to websites I don't approve of!"

Now, this would normally have been something trivial I would have just shrugged off. But my computer partner also got in trouble for "not stopping me". What was he going to do, knock me out of my chair before I pressed enter? This kid was the stereotypical teacher's pet who always did his homework and was quiet in class, so I felt particularly bad for getting him in trouble. I even offered to serve two days of ISS instead of him getting in trouble - of course that request was denied.

To this day, I still cannot understand that woman's reasoning. How is "you could have done something bad," grounds for punishment? What kind of person feels the need to punish a child who's showing enthusiasm for a subject they're teaching?

gwilkes 3 days ago 3 replies      
Loved reading this, I have a very similar story. Same year, 1997, I made a Geocities site and had teacher report cards just like in this story. I put the site up on the library computers home page and then it spread around the school immediately, kids were talking about in the hallways, teachers mentioned in class that they would find who did did it.

I also critiqued the school itself, some of the hypocrisies I saw and notably since it was a Catholic school they had a school rule against pornography even when you were at home. So of course I put up a very soft core nude photo as a sort of fuck you.

However, unlike this story I actually was expelled, but it's not very difficult to get expelled from a Catholic school, it was a regular occurrence at our school. Knowing this I kept it very anonymous and didn't tell anyone.

I got an email from the school saying they would sue me for libel unless I came and turned myself in. That made me pretty nervous and pretty soon after that a student who I knew emailed me saying he loved the site and wanted to help. I then told him who I was and it turns out it was actually a teacher impersonating a student.

My brother and I were both expelled, my brother didn't do anything but contribute a few of the teacher reviews, so it sucked pretty bad for him. For me too of course but I was kicked out halfway through my senior year so I was mostly done with high school anyway. Plus I had already applied to colleges so it the expulsion didn't show up on any transcript the colleges received.

My brother wasn't so lucky since he was only a sophomore when this happened, when it came time to apply for college he got accepted to none of the colleges he applied for. He appealed hard and finally got into one.

Ambroos 3 days ago 5 replies      
I was almost suspended at school eight years ago for using `net send` from .bat files and because I had Everest portable on my network drive (a tool that lists system specs, I was curious what hardware the PC's had).

The guy that managed the network at the time was almost personally offended and accused me of 'hacking' the network with dangerous tools. He got the school board involved, my parents had to go talk to the headmaster. My parents and I had to sign a contract which said that any other 'unauthorised' use of the school network would get me suspended for 3 days.

If you have one bitter person working somewhere and nobody knows enough about something to stop them, you can get these power-mad types. Probably happens a lot at schools with just one network administrator.

TheLoneWolfling 3 days ago 10 replies      
Some sites require JS because they do weird things like rendering stuff clientside.

This site "requires" JS because... The opacity of the article is set to 0? Everything's there, everything's rendered, but they have a CSS rule (".use-motion .post { opacity: 0; }"). Only thing I can think of is that they do a JS fade-in or something and missed the unintended consequences.

(Speaking of which... Doesn't Google penalize sites that have an excessive number of hidden keywords? I wonder if the entire article being hidden qualifies...)

ggreer 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish the post had gone into more detail about how the author was caught. Did another student rat him out? Was there some forensic evidence he didn't consider? I did much worse at my high school, but I was never caught. Chalk it up to trustworthy friends, knowledge of computer forensics, and a little luck. Even if I had been caught, I doubt there would have been any real consequences. A suspension? It's going on my Permanent Record? Pfft, who cares?

If there's one piece of advice I can impart to students, it's this: Don't worry about getting into trouble. Unless you're committing an actual crime, the consequences are entirely forgettable. Even in the author's case, a clear and disproportionate overreaction, he's glad to have had the experience. So don't be cowed. Have fun.

edw519 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds my of the first program I ever wrote, in 10th grade, painstakingly assembled one IBM card at a time, output onto green bar paper.

I changed the school motto from "Gateway High School, Hats Off to Thee" to "Gateway High School, Pants Down to Thee" surrounded by an ascii generated toilet.

The principal took away half my card deck (which would have taken weeks to reproduce), promising to return them only when my father signed my output.

My father reproduced my output by hand with his signature and a label: "Functional Specifications".

The principal returned my cards and never said another word.

donatj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Haha, this brings back memories. Starting in Jr. High some friends and I ran a website which started out as just some crudely drawn absurd comics, but later added a section called "Anarchist Times" where we would vent mostly about school in a news-article-esq manner, but also often politics which looking back we knew nothing about. We would let anyone who wanted to write and At its height we had something like 14 kids regularly providing content. A reoccurring theme was to mock the principals son, who was in our grade and acted like a prince. To my knowledge no one ever got in trouble, we did however get blocked by the schools IT department whom I went to and protested until it was resolved.

There was also some hijynx when we tried to enter the website for class president and were told a website wasn't eligible, so we ran a write in campaign and plastered the school in posters, which the school promptly took down.

This was how I learned PHP and MySQL, which has made me my living the last 10 years!

After high school it fell largely into disuse, but I have paid for the domain every year since then. I've ported it from host to host, and it still lives on my Nginx digital ocean server. Even done a few small upgrades like making the audio of our band "The Medium" playable through the site (html5). Lol, it's at the poorly chosen http://oasisband.net if anyone was curious.

A few people have asked me to change their names which I have obliged. People say some stupid things in highschool, I know I did.

spacemanmatt 3 days ago 3 replies      
Public schools are often filled with petty tyrants. I'm lucky I was not more harmed by the sadist VP that ran my middle school.
rjknight 3 days ago 0 replies      
I must be about the same age as the author. This certainly brings back memories!

Oh for the days when we could just uncomplicatedly assume that anyone who knew anything about technology was also an instinctive anti-authoritarian, too.

beerbajay 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a really similar experience when I was in high school, though I didn't get expelled. I made a website with photos of students (and their first names) giving the finger to the camera. People of course set this as the home page on library computers.

Unhappily, this was right after Columbine, so the administration was super paranoid and I was a little X-Files-obsessed black-trenchcoat-wearing weirdo... so I got a week's suspension.

bru_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can relate to this story.One of my funniest memories was when my 7th grade teacher reprimanded me for "putting a password" on my website. She was referring to the username and password fields in the sidebar. I told her everything on the site was visible without a user account, but I guess she didn't believe me, because she made one that night. Of course she didn't find anything. The best part was she filled out her whole profile, including a picture of herself, her interests "knitting, helping children", etc, just so she could have a chance at discovering an imaginary section of the site where everyone at my school was lambasting her.
atiti 3 days ago 0 replies      
I also had a similar story. It was also early 2000s and our high school had a calendar system for each student so they could look up in which room they would have what class. So a friend of mine and I have setup a proxy server which would modify rooms randomly, or randomly cancel classes. In order to "test out" our code, we ARP+DNS spoofed the the whole school network, so anyone visiting the site internally would end up on our site.Most students thought it was super fun that their classes were "cancelled" but obviously teachers didn't approve :-)

It was also a couple of months away from our graduation, and we did get into pretty big trouble, where we got suspended, and had to write a letter of apology to the principal so they would allow us to graduate.

coldcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember when I was on the school newspaper my junior year (long time ago, before the internet) we all decided to put a fake ad on the back cover of the newspaper just for fun. It was a picture of a girl in a bikini with a headline about her boyfriend loves her because she knows Calculus (or something I forget exactly). Students of course thought it was hilarious, the school did not, and actually fired the journalism teacher (who was female). The next year we were basically locked down and could do nothing without prescreening. Thankfully my family moved a few weeks into the year and I didn't have to deal with it much.
loup-vaillant 2 days ago 0 replies      
Be sure to read the comment below about how another student got into similar trouble for messing up with the school's unsecured network, but was able to blackmail his way out. (The school had committed insurance fraud.)

Funny how people change their attitude the second they realise they do not have the upper hand after all.

greggman 3 days ago 0 replies      
my self and 4 of my friends got banned from using the computers at our school for ~5 weeks. We were the geeks in the computer class.

Showing my age, but the class had 12 Apple IIs and a networked Corvus hard drive connecting them all for storage. The system had accounts. Each student got some space on the shared hard drive to save their work and could not access each other's storage areas. The teacher of course could access everything and used it to read students' programs for grading.

One time the teacher had logged in and then stepped away to deal with something or a student. One of my friends took that opportunity to do a binary save of a large chunk of memory on that machine, the part where OS/state extra was. Turned out if you loaded that save back into memory you'd become the teacher. He gave us all copies of the file.

We never used it for any kind of mischief but a few days later the teacher noticed one of us doing something we shouldn't have been able to do. The teacher wrote our parents letters and said we were banned from using the computers till the end of the quarter.

IIRC only one set of parents were actually upset. I think the rest were actually kind of proud. It didn't affect our grades. We also liked the teacher. I just thought it was his way of appropriately punishing us to make it clear even though you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should.

sarreph 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like many commenters, this post brings back memories of similar experiences...

My experience with being silly on school computers was mainly in middle school (age 14) where friends and I would find more inventive ways to wreak havoc on the network. One of the favourite tricks was to hack open the command line (using accessibility options in XP) and remote shutdown other student's machines towards the end of a lesson before they'd saved their work... rather cruel to think back to it now. Another more daring guy sent a string of offensive messages to the principal on a LAN-chat type application that caused pop-ups on the receiver's screen. Come to think of it, there were so many 3rd-party administrative 'tools' that could be run trivially without root access on XP, such as drive-encryptors (rendering machines essentially useless) that it was easy to perform a whole manner of tricks.

Personally, I was only called into the deputy's office once, regarding a server-wide DOOM game installation. They confiscated my memory stick due to it holding the DOOM installation files. However, I somehow managed to get it back the next day without them checking it; thankfully they didn't, because there were so many 3rd-party executables and 'network guides' on there it would've been far worse. I can relate to the stress the author felt in that sense, because going home that night knowing they had my memory stick was one of the most gut-wrenching feelings of my teenage years.

Thankfully, all that was required of me was a meeting with a sysadmin trying to explain why I had filled an obscure part of the server's shared area with DOOM and COD sprites...

gayprogrammer 2 days ago 1 reply      
My highschool brought me in to a meeting with the principal and police officer when I wrote the name of my boyfriend on my ticket to senior prom. They "convinced" me that I could not go to prom with a guy. End of story.
nadams 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Our plan was to surreptitiously allow our fellow students to grade and leave anonymous comments about their teachers, which we would collect and publish.

So... ratemyprofessors.com ?

jbapple 2 days ago 0 replies      
IANAL, but near as I can tell, it's still up in the air if (in the US) students have a constitutional right to be free of official retribution for off-campus speech.

There is some evidence that if the speech is truly off-campus and if it doesn't cause a substantial disruption to school functions (see Tinker v. Des Moines), students are protected. Even the famous Supreme Court "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" case was partially decided based on the speech being at a school-related event.

On the other hand, "disruption" is defined rather loosely sometimes, perhaps even lowering the bar to content that is viral, as long as it is also insulting. See, for instance, SJW v. Lee's Summit.

elwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
In high school, I made a WScript that prompted user "Network timed out on line #6. Please re-enter password:" and would surreptitiously record it. I put this on a floppy, popped it in when someone in the library went to the printer, waited, came back and said, "sorry forgot my floppy; can i get it, excuse me". Didn't use it maliciously; usually would just modify the folder settings on their home drive on the network to have repeating images of Pokemon as a background image. I suppose this all sounds quite devious in writing.
hellofunk 3 days ago 0 replies      
That sucks that your creative high-school gag was met with such hostility by the administration. I'm three years older than you and did something similar in high-school. A friend and I made a MS Word clone from scratch of the formatted template the school used for report cards. Then we filled it up with teachers' comments and grades for us, but in total sarcasm. It was hilarious. The teachers found out about it, and... they had a good laugh also. No harm done. I guess it just depends on your environment.
gravypod 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was taken to the principles office after they found out I had access to the camera systems of the schools.

I used it all the time to look for friends and check the lines for some bathrooms.

suspthrowaway 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, school. I was suspended three times for various failure to comply with authority, got straight As anyway. College, high-paying tech job, no problems :).
dblock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome story!

In college we ran a website called "The No More Bzzz Bzzz Hun Hun" about the professors at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland. It was hosted in Sweden with X-Force (mrsaint.net), a pirate group. Similar idea, but you could vote for the most boring teachers (bzzz bzzz is the noise that a fly makes in a boring classroom and hun hun is something to do with "fly f---ing", a term in French that means saying things that are boring and useless). You can see its remnants in http://dblock.github.io/nomorebzzbzz. They never found us, but I was definitely scared about getting expelled from college at some point. Unfortunately I no longer have the poll data :(

http://dblock.github.io/nomorebzzbzz/faqs.html is priceless.

michaelmior 3 days ago 0 replies      
My messing around in high school was comparably minor. Our network ran Novell NetWare and I managed to discover that there was an unsecured Website that had a number of interest. Most of them were read-only with pretty boring info. However, there was also a messaging function that allowed you to send messages to any machine on the network that would appear as a popup. A couple friends and I messed around a little and I promptly forgot about it.

Turns out someone else had found out about this and decided to make use of the much more dangerous broadcast functionality. I can't remember the message that was sent, but I believe it involved some profanities against our principal. Of course they didn't think such a message could be tracked but it was. I think this person was only suspended for a few days, but the admin learned his lesson and secured things after that.

superkuh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your website now doesn't render text unless javascript is enabled. This is bad design. Stop it.
smrtinsert 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is another good example of the complete and pervasive misunderstanding of what free speech is. Unfortunately law, ethics and morality cannot be reduced to a bumper sticker.

Churchill high school kids come from one of the richest school districts in the country practically defining the term 'privileged'. He undoubtedly could have found a more productive and healthier hobby.

geon 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have read several stories like this from the US. It baffles me how many Americans seems to think their country is the bastion of freedom of speech. Having it in your constitution apparently doesn't mean shit.
learnstats2 2 days ago 2 replies      
The initial reaction of the head of English was what surprised me the most in this article.

Shouldn't the English department be happy that their students have understood satire and 1984, without taking a personal grudge? Glad it worked out well.

hellbanner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really interesting how lack of anonymous hosting prevented the student's public critique of their teachers.

Related: http://voidnull.sdf.org/ unafilliated)

bru_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am jelly of some of my friends who got really good at programming in high school. One dude managed to replace the keyboard drivers for every keyboard on the entire network with garbage, so that if they plugged in another keyboard, it still wouldn't work. He also gave his English teacher a "wacky mouse", where she would be presenting something and at some random time her cursor switched and behaved as if attached on the end of a spring. She would often inspect the underside of the mouse in response to this problem.
msie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, young people. You can't equate students rating teachers to teachers grading students. Unless teachers are allowed to say things about students like: "She was a total bitch".
calgoo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of when i installed key-loggers on all the library computers at school :) Got a lot of interesting info during those weeks. Then my idiot-friend logs into a teachers email account using credentials we found and sends a recommendation to some university for himself... He got expelled, i explained exactly how the key loggers worked etc, and was tasked with 40hours of computer support as a "penance". I just skipped all my classes and completed the "penance" it in less then a week lol. Sometimes i miss those days :
kaonashi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could've been me if my HS administrators had a lick of savvy.
Scea91 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say that it was perfetly written. I was hooked.
edem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really liked your article and it made me remember that no matter what someone (an authority figure in your case) says, there is always a way.
autotune 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the time I attempted to use an article from The Onion as part of current events assignment back in high school. Of course it just resulted in a fail and was nowhere near taken out of proportion as OPs stunt but taught me that certain people just can't appreciate humor.
andy_ppp 2 days ago 1 reply      
You have to say these sort of anonymous reviews should be formalised and teachers questioned if their class think they are bad at their jobs. Or hungover in class.

Of course, I also think teachers should be the highest paid people in society (when I'm king), so take what I say with a pinch of salt.

neonbat 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it immensely entertaining that Rudis created his own federal reserve inside his school and immediately abused the monetary system to "buy all kinds of sweet stuff." You should have gone into politics @Rudism. You would fit right in.
wsha 3 days ago 2 replies      
Free speech is important but for some reason this story does not make me feel much sympathy for the author. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it seemed like the newsletter was posting borderline defamatory comments anonymously.
lockes5hadow 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got expelled from high school for the same reason, I made a website about the school back in 2004. The Internet was a scary place for adults back then I guess.
chuckgreenman 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's funny to think that there is a website devoted to the report card feature of your newsletter. Rate My Professor, while kind of despised, its existence is tolerated.
elwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I almost got suspended in high school for making a "virus" (just an .html page with some js to open itself recursively in a new window).
Kenji 2 days ago 0 replies      
In junior high I invented my own currencyI printed an initial run of Daddio-Dollars on my computer which I handed out to kids at school, then sold candy and some of my brothers toys to them. Once I had fostered enough confidence in the purchasing power of my homemade money, I printed up a ton of it and used it to buy all kinds of sweet stuff from the other kids.

Wow, the man invented central banking independently.

fspacef 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to that Dad for not over reacting during all of the drama and supporting his kid
peterwwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got expelled from several schools for the crime of knowing more about computers than the teachers, having an interest in computer security, and having a website. I was also used as a scapegoat by a network admin who couldn't fix his networking issues. After the first school, every other school assumed i was some kind of dangerous delinquent. It's part of what prompted me to drop out.
roflchoppa 2 days ago 0 replies      
one of the only times i got in trouble at school was talking openly about potassium nitrate in my math class, and how to make explosives out of it. I completely understand why i was sent to the VP's office.Oh and that other time i was burning leaves with a mag. glass.
xena 2 days ago 0 replies      
I nearly got expelled for learning how to use their copy of Macromedia Flash 8 for making games.
mud_dauber 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can see the same exact story playing out on Glassdoor. It's going to happen.
codewithcheese 2 days ago 0 replies      
codingdave 3 days ago 0 replies      
logicallee 3 days ago 1 reply      
What the hell is this guy doing as a coder - he should be running a media empire by now!

Everything he reported doing in high school is fantastic grassroots marketing and PR, and the content he created was great even back then. The teacher review is one of the best ideas, ever. He got everything down - content, distribution - even on slips of paper - the works.

This is exactly what you read in a media billionaire's bio: expelled from a prestigious high school for running an underground school newspaper, which printed students' uncensored teacher reviews. Oh yes.

More recently - even our HN title is clickbait! Yet his write-up is fantastic, 100% true and a great read! This guy knows how to press people's buttons.

And remember, he got free hosting because some guy thought his writing was so hilarious.

OP, get into media, stat.

Oh, and OP? You are hilarious. No rose-tinted glasses about it.

imaginenore 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's sad that the same organization is the judge, the jury, and the executioner. Even for the appeal process.

A shitty system.

nickysielicki 2 days ago 0 replies      
In highschool I made a website (in like 50 lines of web.py, easily the best framework for small sites) with the twitter API that allowed students to post anonymously to an account I ran. It was before YikYak came out, and I'm not mature enough yet to not admit that it was a LOT of fun. ~400 followers (from a school of ~1100).

There was admittedly a lot of cyberbullying, but I got the feeling it was mostly friends making fun of friends and nothing was too nasty. It was more along the lines of teasing each other with embarrassing inside jokes than anything, and I made a strict rule that anyone would be banned if they used anyone's real name so none of this would ever come back and prevent someone from getting into school or getting a job.

It was like 4 months before graduation and my favorite teacher asked me to take it down, so obviously I did. Friends were upset with me, but ultimately we had our fun and I was happy to put it behind.

To relate this to the HN crowd, I have to say that I think YikYak sucks for an anonymous platform. YikYak is so dumb because it's college kids posting either unoriginal jokes or things about buildings on their campus.

The YikYak killer is the YikYak that is only somewhat anonymous. The YikYak where you interact with your friends anonymously, not anonymously with strangers nearby you and your city of 40k people.

dang 2 days ago 0 replies      
This comment breaks the HN guidelines. Please (re-)read them and follow them when posting to this site.


iopuy 3 days ago 4 replies      
The Pixel Factory acko.net
693 points by bpierre  1 day ago   45 comments top 22
chrismorgan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any one of these diagrams is the sort of thing that in one fell swoop demonstrates a principle and how something works, where a lecturer at Uni may spend twenty minutes with a couple of diagram and plenty of hand gestures and produce an inferior result. The combination of them all together makes this the sort of thing that would be a superb basis for more complete educational/training materials.
fenomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
See also the same author's presentation "Making WebGL Dance, or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love Linear Algebra".


(Shares some slides with the new one)

desuvader 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great job, Steven. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this before on the web. This was extremely fun to watch/read. I'll be taking a look at MathBox.js and see if I can build something fun with it as well.
bendykstra 1 day ago 8 replies      
> Note: these slides have not (yet) been optimized for low-end GPUs or mobile.

Wow, yeah. I'm using an old laptop with Ubuntu. Firefox ground to a halt, crashed and then my computer spontaneously rebooted.

AshleysBrain 1 day ago 0 replies      
Exceptional visualisations! At least for me, seeing things like the camera zooming so it's placed between the perfect-vector world and rasterised world just makes it so clear. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a visualisation like that may be worth ten thousand.
fredley 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. I've learned a lot of this before, but without the awesome slides, but this presentation makes most of it so easy to understand that it becomes obvious that that's how these problems should be approached.

It really does go to show how much of a difference presentation goes to aid learning and (more importantly) understanding.

ThomPete 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but animation is worth a thousand pictures.

The way animation illuminates an understanding of the holistic wholeness rather than the discrete part normal education teaches, is so underutilized in education.

Heres to hoping someone soon will specialize in creating animated educational material.

Animats 19 hours ago 1 reply      
That's beautiful. WebGL makes you realize that all the "designers" fooling around with CSS are playing in the kiddie pool.

Of course, as soon as you use WebGL, users expect the visual quality of an AAA game. What you tend to get is crap like this.[1] It's possible to get the GPU to do great things for you.[2] But that's a programming exercise. Good 3D content is expensive. Most of the WebGL demos available either have very little content, or are recycling old video games.

All this technology, already deployed, and little good content for it.

[1] http://montagejs.github.io/beachplanetblog/[2] http://madebyevan.com/webgl-water/

wodenokoto 14 hours ago 0 replies      
What does this guy do for a living? Research, teach? Develop? Whatever it is, I'm amazed he has time to make these incredible 3D presentations.
waynecochran 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I am teaching Computer Graphics for about the 15th time this fall. I have always wanted to to an animation of the GL pipeline -- I think it would explain a lot -- maybe this will inspire me to do so.

The problem, is soon as I finish, the pipeline will change, technology will switch, and it will soon be archaic. This is a huge amount of work!

I applaud the herculean effort and great result.

axxu 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great, I'm a complete noob and I learned a lot!Something that I didn't understand though is how sampling rate and the justification for Apple's Retina are related (slide 31). I probably just don't know enough about either, but I'd greatly appreciate it if someone could explain. :)
vikrantpogula 13 hours ago 0 replies      
These slides are the best way to learn graphics! It also shows the true potential of the web !!
detaro 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great presentation, although I didn't finish it because the load times between steps got to annoying (it seems like they only load when you switch to the next slide, instead of preloading at least the next one or two slides)
hacker_9 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow this is incredible stuff. I work with shaders everyday so have an understanding of the concepts discussed, but I've never visualized them like that! Really captivating.
kelsolaar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Impressive and really efficient presentation (not surprising from Steven Wittens).
shultays 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great presentation, however I must say the transition effect on texts are a bit too much. As soon as they appear I try to read them but they move around for a half second. A bit annoying
transfire 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sigh. Running the latest Fedora on an AMD A10 with Firefox and this barely works at all.
GaiusCoffee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing! :D Learned a lot about pixels
sergiotapia 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel lucky I get to watch these slides at 5K resolution on my iMac! Amazing!
lionhearted 11 hours ago 0 replies      
My mind is totally blown.

Does anyone know if the author has written or presented on his workflow as he goes from idea, to concept, to rough draft, to finished product? I'd really love to learn how he goes about it... Pixel Factory was so dense and clear thinking, beautiful, intuitive. Wow.

matiasb 1 day ago 0 replies      
ChicagoBoy11 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible work!
Dont Build a Billion-Dollar Business backblaze.com
473 points by discreditable  4 days ago   265 comments top 35
DavidWanjiru 4 days ago 2 replies      
I say build a company. Go where it takes you. If it takes you to a billion dollars, fine. If it takes you to a million, fine. If you aim to achieve a given number, I suggest you question why your ego, as opposed to your business, needs you to achieve that number. Are you aiming to become number one or two in your business because you have substantive reasons, or is it becaused you once read about Jack Welch saying GE businesses had to be number one or two, and you took that message to heart for no other reason except Jack Welch said it? Are you aiming for the low millions coz you have a substantive reason for it, or are you doing it simply coz you admire Paul Graham who exited at those low millions and you want to be like Paul Graham when you grow up? Life is fluid, people and businesses change, goal posts get shifted all the time, businesses that shunned evil start being evil. These are just the places where businesses take people. Go where yours takes you. And if you don't like where it takes you, then by all means come back, shift your goal posts. Change your sport, even, if that's where your business takes you.
xiaoma 4 days ago 12 replies      
>Thus, in rough numbers, the chance that a funded company goes on to become a billion-dollar business is 0.005 percent to 0.016 percent. Rounding to any significant digits, thats basically zero.

I'm really getting tired of these calculations of "the chance" of a startup doing X. You are not a lottery ticket. It's not random. The 20 year-old version of Mark Zuckerberg beats the 20 year-old version of me every time. Business isn't exactly chess, but it's a lot closer to hold'em than it is to a lottery.

chucksmash 4 days ago 3 replies      
There was a similar article submitted last week that resonated with me more:


Focused more on building a small (5ish people) business with $1mil in revenue a year as the path to enlightenment.

Key insight: building a $1mil/yr business ($7/mo * 12 mo/yr * 12,000 subscribers) that focuses on delivering pure awesome is an excellent way to build a $10mil/yr business is an excellent way to....

brudgers 4 days ago 2 replies      
The thing is, building a billion dollar business doesn't require 1000x the work or entail 1000x the stress of building a million dollar one...even if it is more than 1000x less likely. It's also the case that only getting 5% of the way to a billion dollar business after six years is probably going to feel better than 20% of a million dollar business after two years...one comes with a reasonable paycheck, the other doesn't. Finally, the investors in your million dollar idea aren't going to be any less assholes, and probably moreso; your credit card and local bank are less ok with failure than angels and VC.

To put it another way, building a lifestyle business already requires a huge amount of luck and time on top of the hard work and stress. There are only so many trips to the plate and swinging for the fence may be the rationale option.

tptacek 4 days ago 2 replies      
It feels dismissive to write this, but:

Every VC I've ever talked to --- middle double digits over 3 different startups --- has told me this story about how they're not looking for "10-baggers" or "unicorns" or whatever it is they're calling them these days. They want to invest in founders, trust that a good team will come up with ways to make money if they just stay out of the way, &c &c zzz.

The fact is that the economics of venture capital pretty much depend on most/all of a portfolio's investments having some shot at becoming outlandishly successful. The winners have to pay for the losers.

jmduke 3 days ago 1 reply      
Kyle Neath wrote a very similar post last week, which IMHO is more developer-centric and less VC-centric:


nxb 4 days ago 5 replies      
Is lower goals really more founder-friendly? I'm not so sure.

A bit perplexing, but in my experience, VCs who aim lower will often put far more stress and pressure on founders to meet short-term milestones and ramp up revenues immediately. Since the distant billion dollar goal is gone, it becomes all about the short-term.

Aiming for a billion is a great filter too. At the early stages, you desperately need to be associated at least a few investors / founders / employees who absolutely believe you're on the path to something huge. Low goals allows more people to get involved who have extremely misaligned interests, who are often looking for something medium sized to milk, instead of something huge to help grow.

ig1 4 days ago 0 replies      
What missed here is that if you're operating in a market which you can build a billion dollar business, you can miss badly and still have a hugely successful company.

If you're operating in a market where your turnover is going to max out at a few million then you have a much smaller margin for error, you have to execute close to perfectly to win that market.

Building a large business doesn't have to involve raising huge amounts of money, taking undue risks, etc.

pyrrhotech 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's important to note that the numbers discussed by the New York Times were only of VC-funded tech companies founded this century. There are at least a few thousand private companies in the US worth 1 billion or more. Forbes keeps track of a few hundred here http://www.forbes.com/largest-private-companies/list/ with the lowest on the list having over 2 billion in revenue.

It's nearly impossible to start a company and have it worth a billion dollars within a decade. But if you drop the get rich quick thinking of Silicon Valley, it's much more possible if you grow slow and steady over a few decades or generations even. My family has a business started 30 years ago that's now worth in the hundreds of millions for example, and we are ecstatic if it grows 15% per year. In the next 20 years, if we don't fail, we should have a billion dollar business. We don't take excessive risk, so there's a fairly good shot. It's a bank in the South FWIW.

socrates1998 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this. I get both sides, I mean, who wouldn't want to have a billion dollar business? But building one is insanely lucky and there are a ton of super talented businessmen and engineers that haven't done it.

The problem with aiming so high, like the article points out, is that you often fail and are left with almost nothing if it fails. You took a low salary with a lot of equity, but if you work for 3-5 years on a project and then it turns out the company fails (which is highly likely), then you just worked for 3-5 years for a cheap discount.

Sure, you might have learned a lot in that time, but if you worked at a better salary for a more stable opportunity, you would have learned stuff as well (different, but maybe not less important stuff).

I get the allure, but as I get older, I don't really see the value. You don't have forever in your career to make below average wages on the lotteries chance you will make millions.

cdnsteve 3 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of having a billion dollar plan have an exit plan first, that's more impressive because you acknowledge failure head on. The chances of you failing are much greater than you even surviving 5 years. As a founder, you need to have an exit strategy that will be the least impactful to your team. Statistics Canada shows a huge failure rate folks. Everyone wants billions but everyone needs steady employement. http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/02807.html
marze 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to change the world significantly, you will need significant numbers of customers, and associated revenue. Nothing wrong with wanting to change the world.

One of the author's arguments is that you will dilute your ownership by taking on the "required" investment needed to have a chance at reaching the magic 1B. Is this true? Of the 40 mentioned private >1B firms, what fraction raised lots of VC money and experienced significant founder dilution? My guess is not that many of them; the author simply assumes it is the case.

baristaGeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the article when it poses that a product should be built because you enjoy doing so and when it becomes a company you should do it to generate revenue and not an exit.

However, it's incoherent that an article that is against the "Go big or go home" philosophy discusses how much your company valuation needs to multiply given you sell X% of shares in T amount of time.

At least in today's macroeconomic context, a company is the best platform to scale something valuable, and investors are there to help with that scaling process.

jt2190 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with Gleb's point that there's no shame in trying to achieve a small, profitable business instead of a shoot-for-the-moon billion dollar business, however, I don't understand the "if your VC-funded startup fails there is only downside for you" attitude.

Some benefits of taking funding:

* you move financial risk off of yourself onto others in exchange for a paycheck* you can get the cash to start the business today* you gain work experience, and probably get more responsibility than you'd get at an "entry level" job

alexro 4 days ago 3 replies      
The thing is - you can't by any means start building a billion dollar business just by deciding to do so.

Take google - attempted to sell at 100 mln

Take facebook - was in-college network

Take airbnb - struggled along for many years

What this article is trying to convey?

ArkyBeagle 3 days ago 0 replies      
The United States used to be planted thick with $40M/year companies. These sustained families and made modest opportunities to innovate. They could be anywhere.

I used to work at one. It doesn't exist any more.

At some point this went out of style.

Because of observer bias, this is what I see when people talk about inequality. And I see that it was quite deliberately chosen.

sparkzilla 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you have a product that has a huge potential market then go for it. You will probably only have one chance. The problem I see at YC is that, despite supposedly looking for unicorns, so many of the companies that go through the accelerator only have limited markets. I think it's dangerous to impose unicorn-style thinking on young founders whose products or psychology may actually not be up to it.
jenkoian 4 days ago 1 reply      
but, the 3 comma club...
sly010 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aiming for orbit and running out of fuel means you will probably fall back and burn up in the atmosphere.Aiming for the moon and running out of fuel means you can still get to orbit (which is still very cool) but you have to plan ahead.Mishandling rocket fuel and blowing up is always possibility.
rw2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think people choses to build a business of a certain size. It's more like people try to build a successful business, and it settles into it's natural size. Planning your company size is not what I did as entrepreneur, making sure your company survive is.
SeoxyS 3 days ago 0 replies      
Buffer has raised a 3.5M Series A. GitHub has a quarter billion dollar in funding. Bootstrapping doesn't have to be an eternal culture, it might just be what makes sense in the early days of a company, and it might no longer make sense further down the line.
DrNuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
The underlying message here is that you may be overlooking a very good lifestyle business opportunity (which is totally under your control) while looking at a startup framework that is at best casual and at worst not depending on you at all.
kristianp 3 days ago 0 replies      
The text is way too light on this site. Please improve the contrast. See http://contrastrebellion.com/
sokoloff 4 days ago 0 replies      
> If you sell 80 percent of your shares before an exit, your company needs to be worth 500 percent more for you and your employees to make the same amount.

It needs to be worth 400% more for a same founder/employee value share.

phkahler 4 days ago 0 replies      
ianstallings 3 days ago 1 reply      
To be honest I don't even think about making billions. I play the hand I'm dealt to the best of my abilities. And it works just fine.
adventured 3 days ago 0 replies      
"What I do take issue with is the fact that Silicon Valley derides almost any other kind of business."

Why care what 'Silicon Valley' thinks about that? The author is making a mental mistake there. If you want to build a million dollar business, you don't need to care what the big money in SV thinks at all. So, stop. It is that simple.

jgalt212 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's not forget that most, if not all of these unicorns are not really billion dollar businesses.

Just because a16z buys shares at year two at a $100MM valuation, and more shares at year 3 at $400MM valuation, and even more shares at year 4 at $1B valuation does not make you a billion dollar biz.

In fact, it says more about a16z bubble inflation methods than anything else.

austenallred 4 days ago 1 reply      
Kenji 4 days ago 0 replies      
ljw1001 3 days ago 0 replies      
caser 4 days ago 0 replies      
le_clochard 4 days ago 0 replies      
AndrewKemendo 4 days ago 3 replies      
kragen 4 days ago 3 replies      
How JetBrains Lost Years of Customer Loyalty in Just a Few Hours bytecrafter.blogspot.com
429 points by rograndom  4 days ago   482 comments top 95
mikeash 4 days ago 6 replies      
What bugs me about this is when I asked them about the change on Twitter and they kept trying to blow smoke up my butt about how it's better for everyone.

Their first response was that it's cheaper than before. Except it's not. Did they think I wouldn't actually go look at the prices?

Then they said it's better because you can jump in and out at will. Only need Product X for a month? Only pay for a month. Which is fine, except I've never heard of a developer who would do that.

This move wouldn't bug me so much if they were just honest about it. If you're doing it because you need the money or it makes your life easier or whatever, then fine. I don't like it even so, but I could deal with it. But when you try to convince me it's better for me, while treating me like a fool, I start to have a major problem with the whole thing.

chiph 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think JetBrains miscalculated just how much people like the current licensing model.

I liked their first model - I paid for it and just used it. The current model, with the yearly upgrade premium, I tolerated. I felt it was a scam (are they going to publish an update in the next year so I get my money's worth? Probably not) but I could deal with it.

This new model doesn't work for me at all. As someone who bought his own license, used it at work, and got 3 employers to switch to it -- this doesn't feel right. I am reminded of Altova. They turned their $120 XML editor into a $999 enterprise behemoth. I haven't recommended them in over 10 years.

fenomas 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was with Adobe during their change (as a tech evangelist meeting a lot of users), and watched it play out from both directions. And setting aside questions of pricing, one thing people overlook is that a subscription plan is a much, much better way to make software than selling annual or biannual updates.

The problem is that for a mature product, yearly sales cycles create a toxic incentive to focus engineering time on flashy demo-friendly features, at the cost of spending cycles on performance, stability, workflow improvements that benefit power users but don't impress salespeople, and so on. It's a recipe for bloat - cutting out a flashy feature never helps sales, so they stick around even when they're not useful.

I don't know anything about JetBrains or their software, or whether the above is an issue for them, but FWIW I think most of the Adobe teams are making better tools since the change, and it's due to having the feature priorities in the right place.

andrewstuart 3 days ago 7 replies      
What an incredible whinge and whine.

Why are people so resentful about paying money for their incredibly useful primarily development tool?

Often while I'm using PyCharm I'm awed by how powerful it is and amazed that JetBrains has the resources, time, brainpower and money to write it. And that's not worth a few bucks? Sheesh.

Seriously, it's a trivial amount of money and if you or your company can't afford it then you like this should go and use free alternatives.

Loving the tool enough to use it but hating on a company enough to declare it's lost all its customer loyalty makes my blood boil.

Also, how does this guy elevate himself to the all-knowing position to declare from his personal opinion how much customer loyalty JetBrains has actually lost?

I want the companies who make great software to make money and keep doing it.

This guy should just go use a different product that he doesn't have to pay for. It's not necessary to trash JetBrains on your way out the door.

steven2012 3 days ago 4 replies      
Frankly, I support this.

We need to pay more for software, not less. The Freemium model is killing products because you can't make any money from writing programs anymore unless you get a huge homerun. People only want to pay $0.99 for a program that took months of man-hours to write. $5.99? Fuck it, that's too expensive!

IntelliJ is magic to me. It's a wonderful piece of software, and I generally do not like Java. But it has transformed the entire experience.

Companies like JetBrains needs to be incentivized to write this kind of software, and innovate on it. They're not going to if they have leeches that use the free version in perpetuity. And if they change to a subscription model, then good for them.

If you use IntelliJ in a professional context, and you make a decent wage, a large part of it is because of IntelliJ, so you should pay up. $200/year is nothing compared to other things people spend money on like Starbucks, DirecTV, gas, etc.

jacquesm 3 days ago 6 replies      
I would like to encourage everybody that does not like the new licensing scheme of JetBrains to band together and produce either an open source product that is as polished so it can be used for free or, alternatively to take this apparently huge business opportunity and run with it.

I never quite understood what makes people that make 100's of thousands of dollars per year so cheap that they would balk at paying a few hundred $ for their main tool of choice.

Looking at a moderately tooled up wood or metalworking shop you'd be looking at a very large multiple for the main tools + accessories without a hope to make the kind of money we can make in software.

thisisandyok 4 days ago 1 reply      
They've posted a response on their blog:

"We announced a new subscription licensing model and JetBrains Toolbox yesterday. We want you to rest assured that we are listening. Your comments, questions and concerns are not falling on deaf ears.

We will act on this feedback."


bitserf 4 days ago 2 replies      
The problem I have with subscription model for my tools is this: It removes the option for me to decide to not upgrade because the improvements are not worth the cost.

Note that I have been upgrading my license most every year, but chances are I'll just make do with what I have next time around.

If the current pricing model isn't viable for them, I'm sorry, but it is not my problem. It's already the most I pay for any tool I use, and I have found it worth it so far, but coercion into a subscription model just doesn't work for me.

Not a great move by JetBrains.

cool-RR 4 days ago 4 replies      
I see a lot of whining in this thread. If you think that an increase of $100/year in the price of a tool that you use every day, for, say, at least 5 hours daily as part of your job as software developer as a meaningful price increase, than the cost of your IDE is not close to being your biggest problem.

Even taxi drivers invest more money than software developers in the tools that they use every day, and software developers make quite a bit more money than taxi drivers.

mkozlows 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think the critics are missing one huge benefit: Most of their licenses are bought by companies. A company that buys a perpetual license now has no reason to upgrade unless the developers complain and prod; a company that buys a SaaS subscription enables its devs to upgrade to the newest versions as quickly as they want.

For most of JetBrains actual corporate users, the upshot of this is that they'll never need to bug their managers to buy the new version, or suffer on years-old versions because of corporate inertia. That's a big win.

danieldk 4 days ago 1 reply      
I always hoped that one of these let's force everyone into software subscriptions-actions would become such an embarrassment that companies will think twice about doing this.

Given how much I like IntelliJ (and liked JetBrains until they pulled this off), I'd be a bit sad if they would be that example.

I am still hoping for a quick follow-up announcement that they have listened to their customers and decided to keep the old licensing model as-is. If not, I cannot trust them anymore. How do I know that they won't change the rules of the game again with just two month's notice?

(Note: I am not principally against subscriptions, though I do think the model puts customers in a weaker position. Just offer people an alternative, or give them plenty of heads-up time.)

silvestrov 4 days ago 5 replies      
Polishing and bug fixes cost money, but nobody wants to pay for that. People only want to pay for new shiny features.

If IntelliJ doesn't get money because developers think "old version is good enough for me", then there is no money for bug fixing and for keeping the product alive. It would end up as abandonware like most apps on the iPhone App Store.

I'd guess the IDE have now reached this "fully featured" milestone where most developers don't care to upgrade. So IntelliJ has to switch to a subscription model to survive.

So we users have the choice between paying a subscription or having the IDE end up as unmaintained software due to lack of funds.

IntelliJ can't put out a new paid "version 15" which has bug-fixes only. People would be unhappy about that too.

I feel that the core IDE has degraded in quality over the past years because the releases were feature-driven, and I'd be happy to see IntelliJ refocus on quality instead of quantity.

jrs235 4 days ago 2 replies      
This isn't even Software-as-a-Service. Most companies that offer SaaS are HOSTING the software and thus incurring ongoing monthly costs. The Service part is that the purchaser doesn't have to install the software on their own machines, pay for nor update servers, etc. Selling rights to use [but not own] software on a monthly basis should be called RtpS - Rent-to-pwned-Software (cause you're pwned, you'll never own it)
Rezo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I purchase a lot of commercial IntelliJ/WebStorm licenses for my company. Previously, the cost was $499/y for new employees, $299/y for existing employees. Now it looks like it will be a flat $319/y for everyone. Eh, I'm OK with that. Now there's also upfront volume discounts, whereas previously you had to talk to sales. In some ways it's simpler for me, and the pricing is in line with other per-dev SaaS costs we have. Consider what you pay for a software Engineer and the productivity gains, personally it's a no-brainer for me. It's the best Java, Scala, Python, JavaScript etc. IDE by far.

With this change, I hope JetBrains takes the opportunity to switch from the big-bang yearly releases to just a continuous stream of improvements. In some ways they've already been moving in the this direction, they've added some pretty great improvements to point releases this year (React/JSX, TypeScript etc. comes to mind). This will eliminate release timing anxiety on both sides (customers optimizing when the best time to buy is, and JetBrains deciding if releasing major new functionality now vs in the next big-bang release), and lets the company ship improvements as fast as possible.

HelloNurse 3 days ago 2 replies      
The social cost of subscription-based offers can be enough to make users forfeit good products.

If a developer convinces a manager to buy a perpetual license of IntelliJ, mission accomplished: the developer will be able to use IntelliJ forever.Persuading the manager to spend more on IntelliJ by making a convincing case that an upgrade is worth the money is an optional campaign, reserved for a favorable moment (e.g. when being able to use a new feature would be very valuable) in a vague future.

If a developer convinces a manager to buy a yearly subscription to IntelliJ, the developer should expect to start using Eclipse after one year due to a cost reduction effort. Persuading the manager to spend more on IntelliJ is difficult (no expected updates), urgent (the software stops working rather than sliding into obsolescence) and a recurring unpleasantness.

Moreover, JetBrains makes the sort of luxury products that are bought when money is abundant and regretted (but still used and enjoyed) in times of poverty; forcing customers who cannot pay right now to eliminate JetBrains products from their daily workflow instead of keeping them as happy users and waiting for when they'll want to spend again is a gratuitous demolition of goodwill.

pilif 3 days ago 0 replies      
On the initial blog post there was a suggestion for a very good compromise which I would happily accept:

Add a minimum duration to the subscriptions. If you cancel the subscription after that minimum duration, you can keep using the products you have subscribed to, but you don't get any more updates (like it is now).

If you want to re-subscribe, you can, but the minimum duration starts to count from 0 again.

This would give me the safety net that if worse comes to worst, I'll still be able to use the IDE(s) in some fashion while it still guarantees Jetbrains the fixed income which gives them the freedom to finally work on bug fixes some more, instead of needing to add killer-features all the time.

claar 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a psychological issue for me.

I gladly entered JetBrain's "cattle pen", and pay yearly for the privilege of being "trapped" there. Whether I might want to leave doesn't cross my mind, because I like it there.

Now they're adding security at the gate. I still don't want to leave, but now it's obvious that I'm trapped. It just feels different, and I don't like it.

aikah 4 days ago 4 replies      
To be fair , it worked quite well for Adobe products ( most of them are now using a monthly subscription scheme ) despite all the dissatisfaction voiced by some customers at first. It is both good for Adobe and good for the competition. In fact allowed some challengers to be profitable when everybody pirated Photoshop before as 95% of people using it only took advantage of 1% of Photoshop features. It will be a good opportunity for alternative products such as Eclipse or Netbeans to evolve and get better.
mark_l_watson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have built their open source community edition, from source, and it is very serviceable. I prefer to pay for the ultimate edition but I could do my work with the open source version.

Yearly subscription pricing seems OK to me, with some allowance for giving companies adequate notice to re-subscribe.

gortok 4 days ago 3 replies      
It seems likely that JetBrains moved to this model because their current revenue model doesn't allow for enough runway to allow them to make updates as needed or grow the business. So from that perspective changing to a model where they continually get money helps them stay in business.

Where they 'went wrong', if you could call it that, is that they forced developers down this new path without allowing us to 'dip our toes in'. It would have been better to open this up as a separate way of paying for their products alongside the current model, and then in a year or two simply switching over.

27182818284 4 days ago 1 reply      
Everyone I've talked to wanted a slight pricing model change with JetBrains, myself included, but nobody wanted a subscription service.

It is just that, often you find yourself wanting PHPStorm, and PyCharms, but that's it. A simple buy one-full-price-half-off-second scheme would have got people like me to say, "yeah sure, let's buy up PyCharms this weekend. Why not?"

jasonellis 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who jumps between PHP, JavaScript, Python, and a tiny bit of Ruby, I have been using IntelliJ so that I don't have to buy and upgrade multiple IDEs each year. I really miss the simplified project management of the specialized IDEs. I would gladly pay $149/year for their "All Products" package (maybe even the $199).

Unfortunately, there are a few dealbreakers with their proposed model that will have me re-evaluating my development environment:

1) Losing the grandfathered pricing if my subscription lapses. I can swallow paying $149/year for the All Products and would do so, but I don't want to feel like a hostage where I'm stuck paying more if I take a month off of using the IDE.

2) $149/year is pretty reasonable, $199/year a little tougher to swallow, $249/year is a no-go.

3) As mentioned, I made a $200 investment in an IntelliJ license with the expectation that I would upgrade each year at $100. Now I'm forced to convert my existing perpetual license into a subscription where I'm held hostage to keep the lower price or I lose access to my product if I cancel the subscription after converting the license.

4) Losing access to the software if my subscription lapses. If the prices were more reasonable (like those of the grandfathered prices, but permanent without the hostage situation) then I could deal with the fact that I need to pay to play. But I feel like we're paying a premium price (albeit for good products). I like the idea others have floated of getting a perpetual license after having paid for a full year subscription.

justabystander 4 days ago 0 replies      
Their "subscription" model was basically a year of small issue maintenance and 1-2 major versions. They spent more effort expanding into new markets than they did maintaining and improving existing tools. I don't really anticipate them spending any more time on tool improvement despite the cash grab.

I don't like companies that hold my development process hostage or treat me like a serf. I get that they want to stop maintaining old versions. But allowing people access to the full range of builds within their subscription (with maybe a slight exception of providing the next "stable" build after expiration) and some contract lingo should cover that.

Rental has its usage, but it's not for everyone.

yodasan 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author claims that indie developers will be hit who let their licenses lapse due to limited income as well as forgetful corporations who forget to renew. I always found the reasons for these issues was because everyone's licenses expire at different times and it was hard to track (even with budgeting as an indie developer). If it is moved to a monthly service model, I think these issues would actually improve.
cweagans 4 days ago 3 replies      
You do realize that they haven't really changed their pricing model, right? They just changed how it's presented. It's always been a subscription if you want new features in an IDE (which most people do). I pay like $100/year for PHPstorm upgrades, and it's well worth the cost given the benefits that one receives from using the software (mostly in terms of productivity).

Yes, renting software is a skeezy model. Yes, they should still allow people to purchase perpetual licenses (which, for the record, you can still do until November). Yes, this could have been communicated differently and with more notice.

No, it's not the end of the world. A company has to make money, and at the end of the day, I'd much rather give my money to Jetbrains than many other companies because I know they make excellent tools that facilitate my ability to produce excellent software.

hrabago 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many developers will stop promoting their products to other developers based solely on the subscription model? I know I would.

Also, I never would have tried their products if they were already on a subscription model. That would have been a showstopper for me. I may continue to use them now, because I'm already hooked. However, they'll probably lose a lot of potential customers who'll never give them a try just because of their pricing model.

wellpast 3 days ago 0 replies      
JetBrains makes an astoundingly great product in IntelliJ -- so many features and integrations that just simply work. It is so rare to find a product this sophisticated yet elegant and reliable. I want more companies and products to figure out how to deliver software like this, with the same quality and power as IntelliJ. Then maybe I'll start complaining about pricing models, etc.
hoopism 4 days ago 2 replies      
In the previous thread on the announcement I expressed some concerns (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10165919). An employee responded:

"I see this is turning into a conspiracy theory )Fortunately, there's a little thing called competition that prevents raising rates at will without facing the consequences, and JetBrains is no exception: we're no monopoly"

So the message first was "We did this for YOU!" and then quickly became "Hey! You can always go elsewhere..."

Doesn't sound like something they did for my benefit.

Permit 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we're only getting to see one side of the issue here. How does enterprise react to changes like this?

Could JetBrains perhaps compromise: Offer the current licensing for individual/independent developers, but the subscription model for enterprise licenses? Businesses are more likely to consume multiple products than an indie developer.

What do you guys think?

xirdstl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really love JetBrains software and use IntelliJ daily, and this initially had me really annoyed.

However, after looking at the detail, I'm intrigued. I have a personal IntelliJ license that's a couple versions old, and an even older AppCode license. For $149/year I can get the latest of all of the products. Do I need them all? Maybe not, but I want them!

I for one will strongly consider that subscription, even if I wish I still had the option to buy a perpetual license.

nbevans 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's really odd how the C# community took ReSharper to heart so easily and somewhat irreversibly. The amount of C# developers out there now that will literally turn down a job offer if ReSharper is not used at that shop. It is also the #1 complaint of even higher-end C# devs as to why they would never move to F#... because there is not ReSharper for it. Duh. It's sad they can't see that ReSharper is merely a symptom of a poor language; to work around all its flaws.
davexunit 4 days ago 1 reply      
At this I'd like to remind folks that Emacs has been around for over 3 decades and isn't going anywhere. Don't trust a single company with your most essential tools.
jasode 4 days ago 2 replies      
>, and most customers upgraded every year.

Is this statement actually true? Is it educated guessing or has it been substantiated by JetBrains?

(Not trying to argue. Just want to know substantiated facts.)

gdulli 4 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, they had lost my goodwill already with their old upgrade policy. If you bought a license on 01/2014, it expired on 12/2014, and you didn't need the product again until 04/2015, the upgrade you purchase in April begins on 01/2015, retroactively beginning after the end of the previous license. So you don't get the full 12 months they charge you for. When I realized that it was the end of my support for them.
trebor 4 days ago 0 replies      
My first reaction to this is gritting my teeth. But I went and looked and did the math. And I noticed that current users with a perpetual license (the "old" licensing model) can upgrade to the new pricing for the old renewal cost. EG:

 PHPStorm renewal $49 (personal) PHPStorm SaaS $49/year (from existing license, doesn't change) PHPStorm SaaS $79/year (promo) PHPStorm SaaS $99/year (after Jan 31st 2016)
> Yearly plan special offer for customers who have purchased a perpetual license. Offer to be redeemed no later than Jan 1, 2017.

For the terms of that upgrade: https://sales.jetbrains.com/hc/en-gb/articles/204249752-What...

> 1. The offer is available to customers with or without upgrade subscriptions regardless of the subscription status, provided a customer switches their existing licenses to the new model before January 1, 2017

> 2. The offer only applies to switching existing licenses to the new model. Purchases for additional users will fall under the standard pricing

> 3. Once the offer is used, the special price is available indefinitely until payments are canceled or paused.

Emphasis mine.

Looks like an irritating change, perhaps, but for existing customers you can lock your price in at its current renewal rate for the smaller products. The downside is that you will be renewing yearly, because if you pause the payment your rate might change.

cromwellian 3 days ago 1 reply      
JetBrains is in a tough market where they charge for what other competitors give away for free. They do so by making awesome products but doing that takes money and resources. If you want them to continue to invest in making the worlds best IDEs, you should be cheering this decision. They charge a pittance for such products.

Seriously, for the price of IntelliJ ultimate, most programmers will earn that in 2-3 hours of work. Your paying 2-3 hours of your time for a product that saves you hundreds of hours, and helps you earn a high white collar salary.

I just don't get people who whine about the pricing of their tools. Have you looked at the costs of video production, 3d and 2d art programs? Profession music creation software? Or any enterprise software for godsakes?

JetBrains has fought hard to survive and thrive in a cut throat market where most people use free tools and don't want to buy anything. They make a premium product and sell it for less than a cheap smartphone you upgrade every 2 years.

Maybe they can please people who want the false comfort of ownership by boosting the price of the non-rent edition.

agentgt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ironically I just switched back to Eclipse Mars from Intellij. Intellij is an awesome product and for certain development environments it hands down beats Eclipse... but if your just coding in a JVM language (Java, Scala..) Eclipse Mars is pretty decent. For me It really was never the features that made me want to use Intellij but the simple fact that shit never seems to get fixed in Eclipse version after version.

Eclipse Mars is better than previous versions but there are still ancient bugs:

Mac OSX scrolling:https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=366471

Font Line Height (thank you Atom for supporting this)https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=26765

I have like 10 more bugs that I wish I could pay to have fixed. Intellij had this problem too (but lesser) and I really wish a company had some sort of pricing option to have certain bugs/features fast tracked. Eclipse takes donations and Intellij purchaes but you can't specifically say hey I will give you $1000 if you just fix xyz bug/feature. I know there are services that do this on opensource projects... I just wish that companies did it as well.

Speaking of Atom I just created an Eclipse Color theme that looks like One Dark syntax https://gist.github.com/agentgt/fcaf75eb8acf92e08926 . Combined with the Dark widget theme (yes Mars seems to have made this better) it really looks pretty decent on Mac. Its nice because I use Atom for frontend work so I have consistency theme wise.

GordonS 4 days ago 0 replies      
For ReSharper users, some decent open source alternatives are Refactoring Essentials (previously called NR6Pack) and Code Cracker:



hbt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Intellij has no choice but to do this. Otherwise they lose revenue.

They have mature software products and people are not going to renew the license every year for a minor update. Most of their products are so mature that you can buy them once and never look back.

So how do they make up for this one time sale? Switch to a subscription model and convince users it's in their best interest.

Frankly, I don't care about paying money every month; IntelliJ is worth the price.However, I never update software unless there is a major bug or major features. Updating software is always a gamble and if you customize it, it often requires additional work (deprecated plugins, invalid keymap, new bugs etc.)

I hope they get this right and find the right business model to stay afloat without ruining the relationship they have with their customers.

vermooten 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thank god Eclipse has gotten very usable in recent years.
invaliduser 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone managing a small software edition company and selling yearly subscription licenses, I can totally get their business decision. Otherwise, you get the "Microsoft Word 97" effect, when people still use the same old software for 15 years, never upgrade, and complain about your software.

Having a recurring revenue is the best way to be able to manage a company, because it gives you a better view for your next years' budgets, and you can more easily plan investment and hirings.

What is wrong, is probably how jetbrain seems to change their pricing and businell model far too often, lacking direction, and pretending it's for the customers (it's only very indirectly for the customers benefit).Besides, I wouldn't mind paying whatever they want if they would just improve their release quality so that I don't get afraid of breaking my project everytime I update.

killface 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, if you didn't see this coming, you haven't been keeping up. Their yearly upgrades? It's no coincidence that intellij 14 came out in 2014, 13 in 2013...

If you have kept up versions as I have, it's practically no different. If this means we get features sooner rather than waiting for a whole major version upgrade, I'm happy.

Yes, Adobe had a big clusterfuck when they did it, but you know who hasn't had as big of one? Microsoft Office. I subscribe to their office 365. 10 bucks a month for 5 computers, the whole office suite. I'll happily pay that.

And besides, there's always the community edition if for some reason your 120k/yr job doesn't let you afford 100 bucks per year...

People just have a meltdown anytime anything changes... chill the fuck out for a few minutes and let's see what happens.

awjr 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest this was driven by the CFO trying to provide better predictive earnings to their shareholders. It may also enable them to plan developer recruitment better but this feels very shareholder driven.

Personally, Webstorm is exceptional and worth every penny.

ohitsdom 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Resharper is in trouble. This licensing change, the new "refactoring" features in Visual Studio 2015, and the lower barrier for new tools to be created due to Roslyn are all going to have an impact.
geophile 4 days ago 2 replies      
Will there still be a Community Edition? (Free, with reduced capabilities.)
zeveb 4 days ago 7 replies      
What I don't get is why a developer would ever use proprietary software in the first place. I codeit's what I do. I want to tools to be excellent, certainly, and I don't want to have to spend a lot of time fixing them where they aren't, but I want to be able to improve them for my use cases. Who else in the world is as capable at knowing what I need asme?

If you use proprietary software, you're at the mercy of the vendor for features and, as this shows, for pricing and pricing model changes.

mindcrime 3 days ago 1 reply      
We use a subscription model at Fogbeam, but here's the twist: all our software is open source, and you're free to use it as you like, with or without a subscription.

So why buy a subscription at all?

Because you get the kinds of things big companies care about: certification, maintenance, support, indemnification, somebody to sue if things don't work, a vendor to shift blame onto if the shit hits the fan, a discount on professional services work, perpetual upgrades, priority access to influence the roadmap and direction of the product, etc. Subscriptions are also a win for customers in that (depending on the details) they may be able to pay for a subscription out of an operational budget, rather than needing to go to some committee and get approval for a large one-time capital expenditure. And with subscriptions you are paying a portion of the cost in future, inflated, dollars instead of today's dollars.

Of course, like any vendor who does OSS, we run the risk of having a lot of people using our software and never paying, but that's just something we accept.

But here's the thing... we don't sell development tools - IDEs and the like. Our stuff is backend/middle-ware that costs in the tens of thousands of dollars and up (for companies with thousands of employees, anyway), which makes things like worrying about capital expenditures more of an issue. At the kind of price-points you are talking about for IDEs and what-not, I'm not sure the advantages of a subscription (from the customer POV) really carry much weight.

alt_f4 4 days ago 2 replies      
Yet another reason for me to stick with Eclipse.

When will people realise that true & complete OSS is the only answer.

kuyfiuyg 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is there any good Java IDE for emacs?
brudgers 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem for any company providing a workflow solution is that if you solve the customer's problem by providing a stable workflow then there is no little for the customer to upgrade. Their workfolow is profitable, and the solution is analogous to a band-saw in a wood-shop: a fixture.

On the other hand, upgrading to a new version with new features is a risk. When none of the previous version's features changed, there's still the reconfiguration cost...and usually previous version features do change if for no other reason than UI. Even a compelling new feature entails the disruption of changing processes.

Ideally, the best long term strategy for a tools company is a subscription model that pushes no features and results in more or less the same profitability for their customers in the end: for example by exactly offsetting the gains from features with the cost of switching. The sweet spot is technical progress accompanied by business stasis. AutoDesk is the master at this...they started moving toward subscriptions almost twenty years ago. They got away from selling platforms and focused on features, and their customers are all locked into yearly cycles of disrupting their workflow and looking to features for redemption.

radicalbyte 4 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like they're going to review the changes:


Personally I would find the pricing more reasonable if the "individual developer" licenses could be used by small businesses and freelancers.

steedsofwar 4 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't new, well for intelliJ at least. I bought IJ 12x, and was a little saddened when they changed to the sub model. However it's still a great tool and i prefer it over the others, therefore still use it. It just means i'm forced to use the community edition, or EAP.

Loyalty is as good as the product; if another product comes along and makes my life easier i would switch.

konradb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps if they have a model where after you've had a solid 12 months of subscriptions behind you, you can stop and use the last good versions you had, that would fix the issues people are complaining about.

That would lose you the 'renewing' discount, but it wouldn't stop the concern about the IDE's not working.

nutate 4 days ago 0 replies      
Community Edition is still totally awesome for what it is right?
bluebeard13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, really bad....b4, we had a choice of when we would upgrade, if it's worth it, was there enough innvovation, etc. now, 'you' are forced to keep paying for upgrades, even if you don't need them right away, or want to just skip one. Sucks really bad...As a longtime user 10+years, I'm out...ransom does not play well with me.
jbtule 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the .net Environment Visual Studio and frameworks change fast enough that we are 1.5 year upgrading resharper ultimate already. I don't see this as a big issue. Pricing is appropriate and seems better for individual developers than it was prior.
lewisl9029 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's really too bad.

I actually used and liked WebStorm at one point. I've since switched to Atom, but I still occasionally miss some of the more advanced refactoring and navigation features that indexing and static analysis made possible.

Every time JetBrains released a new version of WebStorm I usually try to take a thorough look through the release notes and sometimes become tempted to give it another try.

But this new subscription model has managed to completely kill any enthusiasm I had left for WebStorm and other JetBrains products.

As a side note, I really hope this doesn't mean Cursive is going to have to switch to the same subscription model.

codewithcheese 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems there is a simple solution. You pay the subscription monthly, until after 1 year you own the current version. If you stop the subscription at that point you don't get rolling updates or SLA support.
jim_greco 3 days ago 0 replies      
Jetbrains charges way too little for such a ridiculously good product.
ljw1001 3 days ago 0 replies      
No company that believes in what they're doing announces a major change on a Friday, before a major US holiday. That's what you do when you want the reaction to die quickly.
MichaelGG 4 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft recently did the same thing, requiring you to sign in with a Microsoft Account to continually re-activate Visual Studio (90 days, I think). So now, even with an MSDN sub, after it expires, you don't get the software. Rather significant change. Though, with BizSpark and other programs it will probably only impact larger companies.

Plus when customers view changes like this as unfair or unethical, they suddenly find themselves caring a lot less about using a disassembler and changing some jumps.

dec0dedab0de 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'll be renewing PyCharm this week, but will likely start brushing up on Eclipse/PyDev for next year. I find the idea of software disabling itself disgusting.
bb0wn 3 days ago 1 reply      
And this is one of the many reasons why I've not used paid IDEs. I feel bad for everyone over a barrel with JetBrains because they've dedicated so much of their time developing in their lovely IDEs (many of my co-workers use their products.)

This is not to say that a SaaS model is necessarily bad... it's just that, as a user, one is now beholden to the whims of a company for what is perhaps the most critical part of their work flow.

nadams 4 days ago 0 replies      
> I've seen companies who forget to renew their licenses promptly or who have long and convoluted processes to approve the expenditure. I guess, under the new model, development grinds to a halt until the purchase goes through.

That sounds like a problem with the company practices and policies and not Jetbrains. I'm pretty sure that would affect other things in the company as well (such as stalling to pay an internet bill or something).

adaml_623 3 days ago 0 replies      
So if JetBrains goes bankrupt and the license servers go down then we all have a month to sort out a new IDE
kailuowang 4 days ago 2 replies      
JetBrian used to have to improve the product significantly every major release so that people would pay for the new version. Just want to point out that by changing to the new subscription model, they no longer have that drive.

Of course there are still other reasons for innovating their product, it's just one less.

fridek 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's hard to make an argument that loyal customers are lost. Don't they by definition renew the license every year anyway? If not, still no one is lost - existing licenses don't magically expire. This change affects only potential new customers who are not renewing every year for some reason.
PhrosTT 4 days ago 0 replies      
steve_taylor 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was inevitable. Businesses want month-to-month licensing and now I expect JetBrains will see solid growth driven by their business customers. I would rather see a cashed-up JetBrains acquire - let's say - Xamarin than the opposite outcome, which would be an unmitigated disaster.
jbob2000 4 days ago 1 reply      
Meh, the only real issue there is the phoning home. The other issues he points out seem pretty contrived.
foobarbecue 4 days ago 1 reply      
They gave me a free version of WebStorm because I'm a hobbyist open source developer. I love it, but I'm obviously not going to pay $80 a year. Does anyone know if they're going to continue having some kind of free option for non-corporate use?
crimsonalucard 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know exactly why this is happening. It's the same for adobe: cracks and hacks.

The keygen for jetbrains currently unlocks ultimate mode on all products for 100 years. It's not hard for your average script kiddie to find.

eweise 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bummer. Been using Intellij for almost a decade. Will give Eclipse another try.
balabaster 3 days ago 0 replies      
Moving to a subscription model for 1 thing is okay, perhaps 2, or even 3. But with every company gradually moving to subscription models, it is emptying out our wallets every month and removing more and more of our income to maintain the status quo.

From my own perspective, and I know this doesn't apply to all, but I cannot imagine I'm the only person with this viewpoint:

I'm sick of other developers saying things like: "You know what? For the amount developers earn, $X is a small price to pay." You're right, $X for a single piece of software is a small price. But when you add the cost of your MSDN license here, your JetBrains license there, your Xamarin university/license, O'Reilly Safari License, PluralSight license and countless other licenses and software purchases to do our jobs - all of which are gradually moving towards month-by-month subscription models with excessively large combined annual overheads, it cuts more and more into your budget... and not to forget that the income you make doesn't just pay for an ever revolving cycle of tools to maintain your competitiveness as these arguments seem to forget [unless you're still living in Mom's basement and all your income is expendable or can feed the endless software-as-a-service lifestyle]. It's also used to ensure that your kids get a good education so they can make their own valuable contributions to society; that you're able to live comfortably and not worry about where your next meal is coming from; that your family is safe and secure and well prepared for the unexpected; medical plans; retirement plans; mortgage; vehicle payments; the list goes on... all of which costs money - every month!

I'm growing tired of companies feeling like they can reach into my pocket month after month and take every spare penny for "services rendered." At what point will people turn around and say "Enough's enough! My money is mine!" I'm happy to buy products when they move me forward, but I hate paying monthly subscriptions on the off chance that you're going to continue provide updates that may or may not benefit me in the longer term.

As a company providing software, I'm not purchasing you as a service. I'm purchasing your product. When I work for a company that pays me every month, I'm selling myself to them as a service - to do their bidding and write the code they want. If I'm to pay for you as a service, then the money I'm paying you had better be providing what I need to do my job more effectively, just like if I pay a cleaner to come clean the house, I'm not paying for them to develop makeup products that benefit their other clients while I don't wear makeup. I want the option of buying the product that does help me do my job more effectively and then I'll hold on to the rest of my money and allocate it where that is the case.

quaffapint 3 days ago 0 replies      
Biggest problem I have is the need for a live Internet connection. We do all our work in an offline dev environment.

Now trying to get some licensing server installed in an Enterprise environment is a PITA.

JeremyMorgan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meh, $19 a month for all their products sounds like a steal to me. I currently use many of their products and upgrade every year so this actually saves me money.
navls 4 days ago 0 replies      
vim remains free and free
studentrob 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a sentiment breakdown of % of usernames in this thread who agree vs. disagree on this basic issue. Does a tool exposing this exist?
rgdzz3 3 days ago 0 replies      
My main IDE right now is VS12 but once a week I use Webstorm for like 2 hours. Does anyone knows a good alternative to it? Preferably an IDE not a TextEditor.
logfromblammo 3 days ago 0 replies      
To analogize this, imagine the perfectly cromulent subscription model of printed magazine delivery. You pay $X, and they mail you a new wad of glossy paper every month. If you don't pay $X, you just don't get new magazines. You can still read all the old ones. Remember National Geographic? Remember how your grandfather kept huge stacks of them that were all only an awkward elbow away of toppling onto the floor? Presuming you could locate it in the stacks, you could re-read the article about Elbonian mud-rakers as often as you pleased.

If you subscribed to JetBrains's magazine, you pay $X, and every month they give you a new magazine, and take back the previous month's issue. If you stop paying, they would come to your house, confiscate your latest issue, and then search the premises to make sure you weren't keeping any older issues, or any photographs or copies of them. If you want to read something, it'll just have to be something else, like RMS's free gnewsletter.

What JetBrains is doing is not switching to a subscription model. They are switching to a DRM-enforced rental model.

Subscriptions are ideal from products that are consumable or otherwise ephemeral. Television shows or newspapers or foods or coupons or pharmaceutical drugs work for that. Things that are used once and discarded are perfect for subscriptions.

Rental is good for things that have a low marginal benefit in comparison to their upfront costs, such that it takes a long time to recover that initial investment. You rent a hotel room for a night or two. You rent a car when you fly to another city. You rent a pneumatic excavator when you only have one hole to dig. You rent things that you do not intend to use enough to justify paying their purchase price.

With respect to a tool of the trade--something you buy to help you make more money--you emphatically want to own that, rather than just rent it. That's a great argument for using open-source IDEs. Even the previous model was just a perpetual license with a limited-time upgrade option. The person who wants you to forever rent the tools of your own trade is not doing so with your own best interests in mind.

odonnellryan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be surprised if we don't get a good response from them out of this.
azurelogic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, looks like I'll be doing some upgrade purchases very soon...
ihsw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Atom and related packages are about to get a lot more users.
cam- 3 days ago 0 replies      
Intellij is one of the few IDEs that it is worth paying for.
edpichler 4 days ago 2 replies      
At least it's no so expensive.
chinathrow 3 days ago 0 replies      
If someone at JetBrains is reading this: Having 2 licenses paid and planned to renew when I decide what great.

This, not so much. Officially looking for alternatives.

joesmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This is terrible. I'm a user of a few of their products (PHPStorm, PyCharm, IDEA, and RubyMine), two of which I've paid for and gotten upgrades for in the past on a fairly regular basis. I've extolled Jetbrains and praised the to such great lengths you'd think I was an evangelist for them. But now, it seems like it's time yet again (something I though was over after discovering Jetbrains) to find a proper IDE.

Their products have been going down in quality. In the latest PHPStorm for example, I've had serious problems with the debugger not working and it rewriting my code to put many lines into one (fun!). Jetbrains hasn't released a new feature that I use on a constant basis for two major versions (multi-cursor is debatable, but certainly not a daily-basis feature). I seriously regret upgrading PHPStorm simply because I wasted $129 on a product that's worse than the previous version in every single way. I asked, but was not offered a refund. Not only that, but prices have already doubled in the last couple of years, with new versions being $200 instead of $100 as they used to be (and sometimes they'd have discounts like the End of The World Sale in 2012 when they were selling PyCharm for $25 and upgrades for $12).

Jetbrains, IMO, is close to failing to provide quality software and now we get this insanity. The only thing I can hope for is that someone takes this great platform and start writing plugins for these languages that are better than Jetbrains (was hard in the past but shouldn't be so now and in the future) or creates another IDE platform (Eclipse need not apply).

venomsnake 4 days ago 3 replies      
So once again the people getting the best deal will be the pirates :(

I suppose that we are at JetBrains market saturation levels - everybody is using their IDEs, so they just don't sell as many new licences to fuel growth.

trevorg75 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the rub (and the danger of SAAS). This falls into some heavy psychology so:tl;dr you're a human being, you're going to choose what you think is a deal but you aren't going to jump through the hoops to get it, you're going to be screwed.

Here's the science:So taking a simple example. Joe is a damned fine php/javascript developer. He is in a decent demand as a private contractor. Joe LOVES Jetbrains' tools. He uses youtrack to keep his work in line, he uses PHPStorm as his php ide and WebStorm for his javascript and has TeamCity handling CI.

He gets the news that this is coming in and sees the fanfare and the pricetag and is like "wow! way to go jetbrains! $19.90 a month for ALL of your tools or $199 a year?! I mean that's only slightly more than what I'm paying now for my renewals at the yearly rate and I'd get all of their tools...." but Joe doesn't have time to look into it Joe is a busy contractor, work is coming in fast and furious now and besides, his current license doesn't expire until March. Nothing to see here.

Well winter comes and work slows down as it does during the holidays, except this year it doesn't pick up in the spring. It's dead slow. It's the end of February and Joe's considering getting well...a "Joe Job" when the phone rings and it's a client with a fat contract to put him back on track. But the project needs PHP version 5.whatever-the-hell-the-new-hotness-is and PHPStorm only supports up to 5.old-and-busted. Time to download the updates! Oh crap, his license is expired. Wait didn't he see something a while back about nw licensing options. He certainly doesn't have the $178 dollars it's gonna cost him to upgrade PHPStorm and WebStorm right now and he REALLY needs it to do this project that's going to get him back on track. So he checks the pricing. Hrmmm $24.90.....wasn't it $19.90 when I looked before. Oh, it was a promotional. Damn. Joe doesn't have $24.90 either, maybe he can just buy the updates for the products he uses. Oh look it's only $9.90 for phpstorm and $9.90 for webstorm for the month...oh wow but together it's MORE than he used to pay for his renewals! What's going on JetBrains?! He used to only pay $178 a year to renew both products but now it's $198. Well that's a no go. So Joe decides to do the month to month thing and when the check clears from this job he'll just update to the full year! So 20 bucks and a couple downloads later Joe is in business. Wow this new version is great! The Jetbrains devs still have their stuff together even if their business people don't. He knocks the project out of the park. Well a month passes and Joe sees another ding on his credit card for jetbrains....oh yeah he should switch that subscription. He'll get to it later. Well a year goes buy. Another winter and another slow spring and another big project to bail Joe out. Only this time Joe doesn't have the 20 bucks to renew that month. Well no big deal Joe can just fire it up and use the old version he doesn't need the latest and greatest. Except, Joe can't. The subscription has expired and so has the tool. And so like a shallow friend when the money ran out so did Jetbrains and left Joe without the tools he needs. All told over the year, Joe spent $237 dollars on a product he used to spend only $178 and had nothing to show for it.

I realize there are some things Joe could have done better, bad business practice etc. but this could very well happen and does all to often. Sure there are alternatives but the goal of a good business isn't supposed to be to force you into the arms of an alternative...you might get comfortable there.

rebootthesystem 3 days ago 1 reply      
They need to do a better job explaining the licenses.


I can't find anything that explains the difference between the individual vs. company/organization licenses.

Are these still single-developer licenses?

Why does a company have to pay twice as much as the individual license?

That's just silly. I'll have my devs buy their own licenses and reimburse them. People are not stupid, you know? Because these licenses expire on a monthly basis there really isn't a reason for a company to "own" the product.

With the prior licensing scheme it made sense because the product never expired. You could continue using it even if you didn't need the upgrades. You were, in fact, purchasing an asset. Not too different from buying a set of wrenches for your toolbox, they might not be the latest in a year, but they work just as well.

With this setup there is no reason whatsoever for a company to pay double monthly fees. That's just silly. I'd like to see someone justify a reason to charge a business twice as much. Please don't say "because you make a profit". This is like Ford charging you twice as much for an F150 because you buy it through your business.

Regarding the company/organization license: Does one license allow one developer to work with, say, IntelliJ while another uses PyCharm? I have not ask. Again, there's precious little on the website to explain the terms and conditions of each license.

rebootthesystem 4 days ago 0 replies      
We use PyCharm and love it. Could we do without it? Yes, of course. The tool makes a number of things more convenient but it isn't indispensable. That said, I'd hate to see it go.

One thing that has always bothered me about JetBrains is the "personality" of their support. It is isn't good. We haven't needed a lot of it, maybe 2 or 3 incidents since PyCharm came out (we adopted right away). Yet, there's a bothersome lag in support (I am not talking about international time zones) as well as a lack of quality. It's almost --but not quite-- condescending in feel.

I do understand there might be language and cultural differences at play here. I also have experience with German companies (not just software). Their approach to customer service can be very dry and very different from what you might experience in the US. I am guessing the Czech Republic might be similar.

I know these are generalizations that could be way off base. In the case of JetBrains, if the product was not good we would have stopped using them purely based on the substandard support.

As far as paying monthly. No. Thanks. I want my software to work and work reliably. If I chose not to upgrade for a year or two, these tools need to work. A monthly plan with 30 day call-the-mothership is a non-starter for me. I will not, ever, buy into something like that for my business. I want less overhead, not more. And I don't want a situation where if things are tight for a few months we lose half of our tools. Buying into something like that would be a really dumb decision on the part of a business owner or manager.

I look at something like MS Office. We purchased licenses back in 2007. We have not needed any of the new features. And so, our 15 or so licenses work just fine for what we need to do and we do not need to spend another dime to use the software. From a business perspective that is the right way to use tools and the right way to make purchases. You do not want to bleed money on a regular basis for software updates you don't need or updates that don't make enough of a material impact to justify their cost.

Anyhow, I hope JetBrains reconsiders. We have been looking at some of their other products but will not even consider them if they are converted to monthly subscription products. If they insist on taking this approach I suspect products like SublimeText will see a boost in adoption. Yes, not the same thing, but not the end of the world and it is a really, really good product with a very friendly license.

gfodor 3 days ago 1 reply      
phn 4 days ago 0 replies      
oneJob 4 days ago 8 replies      
chrislgrigg 4 days ago 1 reply      
The Internet of Way Too Many Things nytimes.com
378 points by prostoalex  1 day ago   239 comments top 41
antr 23 hours ago 18 replies      
I just bought a home, and just started a considerable renovation. I'm putting in new water pipes, new electrical wiring, etc. I thought of putting "smart" devices (i.e. switches, alarms, thermostats, etc.) given the "advantages" these promise.

After considerable research, it's not worth the hussle or money. Let's put aside the fact that these are considerable more expensive, and won't breakeven in years (some devices smart devices simply don't breakeven).

The main reason I decided not to have any of these installed was due to how cumbersome they are to operate. Each appliance/brand has their own app/portal, which does not connect to other brands, making it impossible to have an overview of your "smart home". Even more scary, some of these devices are operated by startups, god knows, if they will be alive next year. Good luck getting that app to work with iOS 10! It's a true headache, it's even a headache for contractors, who have no clue how these work. It's going to take some time (and education) to have an OS that makes a smart home smart...

and don't get me started on the smart baby monitors, etc... if my siblings an I were brought up just fine in the 80's without being in a "smart onesie", I'm sure we can do just as fine today.

rollback 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Commentary about the silliness of the avalanche of IOT devices being created right now aside (99% of consumer internet startups are based on dumb ideas and fail, but that doesn't mean there is no market or trend!), it's inevitable that this stuff is going to get traction in the market and it's a vast market. I doubt it's going to happen based on a bunch of edge-case $99 devices though.

The big trend here is the cost of wifi enabled microprocessors dropping down to nearly nothing. Last year we were excited about raspberry pi dropping prices down to $30 for sensor-enabled hardware on the network.

This year you can buy a wifi-enabled microcontroller for _$3_ (search esp8266). And that's not even in volume. At that price, pretty much anything consumer electronics companies build can be addressable on the network.

Add to that voice control, which is crude but usable and built into every phone already and improving quickly. The idea of walking into your house and looking for a light switch is going to feel like walking up to your TV to change the channel did 30 years ago when the remote went into wider use.

I find the economic arguments about not saving money using IOT devices a little amusing, on HN especially. My guess is that almost everyone reading this forum spends a shitload of money buying techno gadgets for reasons beyond "it saves me money."

Animats 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I went to an Internet of Things meeting in SF about two years ago, and it was about like this. A Samsung executive was touting an Internet-enabled refrigerator, which was basically just a refrigerator with a tablet built into the door, with no special sensors, costing more than a refrigerator plus a tablet. I asked him why they'd built the product, and got an honest answer. He said the market was three types of people:

- People who just had to have the latest thing - early adopters.- People who like to show off their houses to other people (the granite kitchen counter crowd)- People who just like to buy expensive stuff and will buy the most expensive thing.

I talked to a HVAC engineer there. The room we were in was an old industrial building in SF. It had skylights with chains and toothed pulleys for opening them, openable windows, curtains for both, ceiling fans, both spotlights and light cans, a video projector and powered screen, and a standard HVAC system controlled by a standard thermostat. Controlling and coordinating all that would be a good "internet of things" application. He pointed out that companies which installed that sort of thing wanted it to work, and not generate service calls. Engineering, installing and connecting all the motors and sensors to run that room properly would be a big job. Motorizing the old skylights alone would need custom engineering.

That's the problem. Internet of Things stuff that's actually useful requires more than buying some plastic gadgets. Just an HVAC system for the home able to open and close windows would do more for heating cost and air quality than Nest's gadget, which, in the end, just turns heat and A/C on and off.

netcan 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm reminded of the online coke machine: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~coke/history_long.txt

I'm also (many times a day) reminded of some Douglas Adams bits.

1. Anything that is in the world when youre born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.2. Anything that's invented between when youre fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

And this (though you should read the full thing):

Another problem with the net is that its still technology, and technology, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is stuff that doesnt work yet. We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadnt worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often crash when we tried to use them. Before long, computers will be as trivial and plentiful as chairs...

So, since Douglas was writing (a) a lot more of us are operating in the 15-35 category where technology is cool and (b) a lot more of the stuff around us is technology in the sense that it doesn't quite work yet. It's become pretty much standard in startup-technology land to make the case that some technology "tick all the boxes," saving time, money and generally being ultilitarian and awesome. people who want to buy tecnology because its cool, play along. They need some way of justifying an internet-of-things coke machine, which they want because it's new and exciting.

Internet-of-things is still at the stage where we're throwing things against the wall. Most of it is not useful, or barely useful and the people who buy it, do so because they want to... for fun.

That doesn't mean none of it is useful or that some generally useless thing isn't useful for you, it just means you have a two legged chair.

awjr 23 hours ago 2 replies      
For anyone not familiar with the Hype Cycle http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hyp... we're still in the "Peak of Inflated Expectations". I would have hoped we'd have hit the "Trough of Disillusionment" by now but it seems to be powering along quite nicely.

One of the big problems with IoT is the cost of the connectivity bit of the hardware. You want these things to be low powered but that costs money. You want these things out in the field, but providing constant power is a nightmare.

I've been looking at Automatic Number Plate Recognition networks using Raspberry PI2s, transmitting only the number plate to do transit route analysis. By the time you've added a battery, a GSM module,and a solar charging panel, it's suddenly become a 150 piece of hardware.

IoT is so so interesting, but I think the hype around it is driving money into the domain and people are just ramming the devices anywhere they can.

Duhck 22 hours ago 2 replies      
As someone actively working in the smart home space, I refrain from calling our business IoT for exactly this reason. I've even challenged the team to stay away from smart home. We do very little "smart" home stuff and instead rely on cleverly designing a set of devices that don't require an application or future technology (AI, voice control) to work properly. They also don't take up space in your home and combine the functionality of two or more devices into one.

I'd like to think I've been a bullhorn for the "IoT is stupid" movement, but I think the author did a great job of calling it out as well.

thetruthseeker1 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I want to bring an alternate viewpoint into the discussion. For some a product like Leeo may sound superfluous and may not seem to justify the added value it provides for the rise in cost(99$+). (Note there is some added value however trivial it may be). For others they may say no to a product like https://nest.com/ or this https://on.google.com/hub/ based on their financial flexibility and their lifestyle (which you may see as 'obviously' needed).

I do think in this case, the best judge is the free market. If any product maker provides added value at a price point where there will be enough buyers and they see profit, their business will run successfully, else it will fail like any other business. How can my opinion decide what is a good product, it is the market that should decide it!

There are lot of independent products that solve mostly one problem - cars for eg:

Every product design does not have to solve multiple problems, it is just that the users need to feel that it justifies its cost based on the value it provides.

roymurdock 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I work at a market research/consulting firm that specializes in the embedded devices market. This means we cover any semi-specialized device with a CPU that is not a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

The consumer-facing home IoT stuff (Nest, smart-fridge, smart-car etc.) gets a lot of press because it's exciting and it appeals to the least common denominator - anyone from an electrical engineer to a nanny can see how these devices might affect their lives.

Most of the (pretty astronomical) growth of the embedded device market is driven by the applications of industrial connectivity. Think aerospace & defense, automotive, medical, municipal, retail automation. The industries that don't make for sexy headlines.

Ultimately, I believe the entire IoT movement is going to contribute substantially to the economy in the form of cost-savings. Companies will be able to access and analyze a lot more data which will hopefully enable leaner operations due to process refinement and resource conservation. It's a good time to be in the security and analytics business.

While cost savings are great for the bottom line, we also need to find a way to create new markets and generate new, useful products. Hopefully the government has invested enough in R&D to enable the next internet to begin to take root sometime soon, whatever that may be.

From my perspective, it would make sense that virtual reality would be a huge paradigm shift in the way that we create and consume information, which seems to be an underlying theme driving many advances in technology and overall quality of life.

IoT seems to be the maturation of internet connectivity - what's next in the world of technology?

Nickersf 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The Internet of things is starting to look like 'Sky Mall'. Time will show if the concept gains traction with the majority of people. At this point I don't see the single mom working in food service for minimum wage buying her children electric onesies.

We should be working on improving existing technologies. Not dreaming up a million more that all inherit the same flaws as the ones we already deal with.

Spooky23 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Home automation always was and continues to be a puttering around hobby or suckers game.

A friend bought a house that had a late 70s state of the art home system. Central radio/vinyl/8track player, intercoms, and a broken CCTV setup. Also cool stuff like central vacuum.

The big difference between that house and the modern gadgetry is that the 70s stuff was hard wired and still works. None of the IoT crap that is on the market now will be completely unusable in a decade.

OliverJones 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Internet-enabled house jewelry? Feh. It will be fun for a week, then boring.

Here's what I want: stuff that will make me a better neighbor and citizen of the world.

Specifically: Realtime smart energy and water consumption meters. Wouldn't it be great to get some sort of alert if there was a pipe burst or even a water trickle? Wouldn't it be fabulous to track electricity consumption? That could generate the creation of sets of light bulbs each of which consumes a different prime number of watts. Then your smart meter can say, "hey chump, you left a light on in the attic. Turn it off."

Combined with a smart grid and demand-pricing of public utilities (yeah, fat chance, I know), this kind of thing could make a dent in my carbon footprint.

srj 22 hours ago 2 replies      
FWIW I find the Whistle to be a good product. I can easily find out when our dog walker dropped our dog off, and therefore how long she has been alone. At the risk of stating the obvious: just because the author doesn't have the problems that these devices purport to solve doesn't make them superfluous.
SandB0x 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's been posted before but on this topic check out


edgyswingset 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Some of these products strike me as being created because one of the owners of the startup thought it was cool, not because they went out and actually tried to identify peoples' household problems and figure out ways to solve them.
erikb 23 hours ago 0 replies      
There are always two kinds of developments. One is where you have a huge problem and people try different things to solve it. The other thing is where you have new capabilities and don't know yet what to do with it yet. One is not worse than the other. Given some time there will be reasonable usecases. Think back to the first iPhone and Android. Nobody really knew what to do with a smartphone yet. Now everybody has at least one and uses it way too often. Internet of Things are just one of the next areas. Let's just calm down and let the market work out what's reasonable.
baldeagle 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My favorite question for any smart home product is "what happens if company X goes out of business?" Had to learn to ask that the hard, expensive way but now all my connected things have the ability to run off the local grid.
jedberg 20 hours ago 2 replies      
> I asked a young man working at the Target store how visitors felt about their every action being tracked and he said that theyd come to accept it. And that was that.

I think this is completely true. I've done research in this area, and people under the age of about 22 have no concept of privacy whatsoever (it should be noted that these people were 12 when Facebook started and basically hit their teenage years just as Facebook opened up to the general public).

Here is one of the anecdotes I collected: when one of them arrived at college, she posted a picture of her school ID and her key and said, "I've arrived!". I pointed out that with just the info in the photo someone could make a copy of the key and get into her dorm room. She said, "eh, that won't happen".

salgernon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
About 15 years ago I was working with a developer that was adding scripting support to their hardware / software combination - an X10 module controller. He was expounding on the greatness of his smart home system, for example, the lights would go out when he got into bed. I asked him what he would do if he wanted to read in bed. He seemed genuinely confused and replied that the bed was ONLY FOR SLEEPING.

All the automation, setup, scheduling and monitoring we are building now needs to be able to deal with people not being consistent. cf self driving cars.

dgallagher 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I walked through Target's Open House in SF a few weeks ago; I'd recommend visiting if you're in the area. It's pretty slick product display space. Each "room" has a projector which gives an overview of four or five products in a room, and how they tie together in your life. One of the rooms had a Kinect mounted above next to the projector; not sure what it was being used for.

The main lobby has a couple long tables with all of the products on display which were demo'd in the rooms along with some interactive Surface-like table which detects if you get near it and moves floating sprites around. They had displays on the wall listing the most popular products, and a few sales people to answer questions. IIRC there were approx 40-50 products displayed. Kudos to Target for setting the space up.

Everything being sold felt they'd fit perfectly inside of a Brookstone, or Sharper Image when they still had retail stores. Most of them were "vitamin" products rather than "aspirin", which gives way to some of Allison Arieff's criticism in the article: "What the products on display have in common is that they dont solve problems people actually have."

That's very fair to say. There were a few items which did solve real problems, like Nest which can help reduce heating costs, but most things sold didn't fit into that category. Many were "neat" things which you could entice someone with disposable income to splurge on.

joshvm 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Refuel looks like it would be much better pivoted towards the beverage industry. The BBQ going out is not a problem, beer running out is a party-killer. It looks for all the world like a WiFi-connected scale that tells you when the weight of the tank is getting a bit light.

We're poking fun at these, but this just caricatures the entire bay area startup scene. There are so many companies solving rich-people-problems that really shouldn't exist or at least are highly unlikely to scale.

11thEarlOfMar 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why we started EarthData.io. It hasn't flown due to me failing to raise money, but I still believe that the premise of every 'thing' accessible to every 'app' in 'near-real-time' where this all heads.

As long as the connected devices are all connected via their own, standalone cloud, whether it's proprietary, open source or purchased, we're not going to see the true value of IoT and the ROI of connectedness will be squelched. Yet this is how the device manufacturers still view connected devices: A marketing lever to lock their customers into their hardware.

dmritard96 20 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who is building IoT devices (www.flair.zone), I would say that many of these complaints resonate with me. There have been two motivating factors behind what we are doing:Building the Internet of Useful Things and not building the Internet of Expensive Things. So far that has worked well for us and we haven't even launched officially.

Nest (as a company) is an interesting case to examine with respect to this article. The thermostat in it of itself was a much needed upgrade for some and dropcam has a ton of potential for more complete automation triggering, but the protect was pretty marginal value add if you ask me. Fires just aren't that big of a problem statistically and while a smoke alarm that can call the fire department is great in theory, in practice people are leery of false alarms when it could be incredibly expensive. And the 'works with nest' integrations are fascinating: its largly a bunch of companies that want to be associated with Nest and its percieved superiority from a brand/acquisition/something(?) perspective and then integrate these super low value add enhancements. Like the Whirlpool integration: '[if we know when you are getting home, we can refresh your clothes so they stay wrinkle free]'. Such a ridiculous proposition for an integration.

Leeo was particularly crazy. It was a case of 'top tier founders' that all the VCs in the valley love with 30M in investment before leaving stealth mode. Everyone assumed they must be onto the next big thing but it was in fact a giant let down. I am sure the pitch was great: we are going to put a microphone in each room and have voice command in every room but somehow they lost sight and it just became a smoke alarm relay. The other angle maybe was that they could convince insures to subsidize them like (GE/Wink)? I would love to see the total number of dollars invested into residential smoke detectors by consumers annually, the number of house fires in the US/World (and aggregate damage/loss of life) all compared to the stealth mode investment of this company...The internet of things will happen and some devices will add substantial value by better managing energy adding real convinience but the author correctly found some really questionable value add and called it out.

dmschulman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Like a lot of tech products I think these devices have a niche appeal, despite the fact that of these doohickeys are answers in search of a problem people will buy these products (Target hosted this expo after all).

Unlike a selfie stick or edible gold pills however there is a deeper ethical issue inherent in selling products that transact so much data about your life (and metrics about your family and home) for the purpose of creating marketable data sets about every mundane aspect of living. Not to mention how vulnerable a person or family becomes once these devices are integrated into their house, children, car, BBQ, etc since so little attention is given to making these devices secure.

analog31 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm excited about IoT, and have ordered some ESP8266 development boards to play with.

With that said, don't get me wrong, but some of this stuff has to be failsafe, and making it smarter, makes it more complex. More like software, if you will.

I don't know if there are enough engineers out there, with the knowledge, discipline and experience designing failsafe products, to support the entire IoT industry.

known 7 hours ago 0 replies      
bedhead 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When I saw the Kolibree, the "smart" toothbrush, I realized we had passed the inflection point on the declining marginal utility curve for this stuff. Too much of IoT are solutions in search of problems. It's not too long before we see app-controlled "smart" implantable uterine devices.
jordanpg 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty underwhelmed by the IoT myself, but I don't see what the author's goal is here.

Is it not obvious that if things are too expensive or not that useful, folks won't buy it?

Does the IoT really raise that many new issues concerning integration, usability, sustainability, and privacy? I haven't studied it, but my intuition is: not really.

nicolsc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Lot of useless gadgets here .. but the Internet of Things is(will be..) much more than consumer-facing objects.

The iceberg analogy never gets old ;)

Industry, Agriculture, Logistics, Cities, etc .. all have a lot to get even more smarter.

Most IoT stuff won't be about pet tracking or fancy BLE devices talking to your smartphone.

oneJob 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's gonna be like "Beauty and the Beast" up in here. You have far too many opinions Cogsworth!
egypturnash 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There sure are a lot of stupid smart devices, yeah. There's a few useful ones out there, too. Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap") has not been revoked by the magical act of putting sensors in things.
tfranco 21 hours ago 0 replies      
And in 2007, this was the cover of the economist: http://ubikwitus.blogspot.pt/2007/05/economist-covers-coming...
huuu 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's the Internet of Way Too Many Insecure Things That Never Get Updated that worries me most...

When your house has one door and two windows it isn't very hard to lock your house.Having gadgets you forgot about is another story.

dalacv 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of the 'Home of tomorrow'


einrealist 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Everytime I hear "Industry 4.0" in Germany, I cringe!
Zigurd 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Home automation is the least likely IoT category to succeed, at first, anyway. The low hanging fruit is in things like public infrastructure monitoring by instrumenting the municipal maintenance and transit fleet. Many enterprises are going to find they can do with a lot fewer desks if they instrument their work environment and spread workers out into co-working spaces.

The people instrumenting these environments are also more-capable of calculating the benefits. Without analysis, it's just shiny toys.

larrys 23 hours ago 1 reply      
There is plenty of merchandise that people buy that they don't need and can do without. Many of the products in the article are just technology variations and extensions of the type of products that sold for years in Sharper Image, Brookstone or Skymall. (Or on infomercials) [1] Just something attractively priced, that if marketed correctly, will find a small or maybe even a large market because it's in front of people and an impulse buy (as opposed to buried on a shelf at a Walmart. Focus people and single out the product in other words.

[1] There was a commercial last year that I watched for a striped screw removal tool. The price was attractive and I thought "hmm you never know when you might need this". I then searched Amazon and found and purchased the most highly rated product of that category (wasn't going to order from an infomercial). I knew this product existed prior to that of course (my Dad used them when I was a kid) but until I saw the infomercial I had no motivation to seek this particular tool out. After seeing the infomercial I wanted one so I bought it. It actually did come in handy when having to pull a stripped screw from a washing machine.

raspasov 17 hours ago 1 reply      
100x the self-emptying dishwasher : ).
tajano 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad the "Internet of Things" is being held to task by a mainstream media outlet. The Internet of Things is just a marketing term being pushed onto consumers by Cisco, Qualcomm, Google, etc., because selling more radio chips and putting more sensors in the home directly benefits these companies.

But it's offensive marketing because these companies haven't even bothered to frame the issue in terms of solving people's real-world problems. You want to sell an overpriced thermostat or smoke detector? Fine, but don't tell me it's a revolution.

A lot of smaller players are getting swept up in the hype, and wasting time and money thinking consumers will jump at the opportunity to pay 10X the price for something that interacts with their phone. Prove me wrong, but I'm not buying it.

at-fates-hands 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Two points that jumped out at me:

>>Privacy and Security. Every one of these items is connected to the Internet

And we've seen how this has been handled by companies recently. Their idea of security is somewhere between non-existent and EPIC FAILURE status. No thank you. I have enough problems trying to lock down my Windows PC.

>>>I asked a young man working at the Target store how visitors felt about their every action being tracked and he said that theyd come to accept it. And that was that.

Maybe the young man's generation has accepted it, but those of us who have seen first hand what can happen when data gets in the wrong hands, it's not even remotely ok.

To smooth over this point just confirms PT Barum was right all along.

michaelsbradley 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is also in the works, with standards efforts kicking into high/er gear.

The two big contenders seem to be the American-led effort/s that has come together for IEEE P2413[1], and the German-led effort known as Industrie 4.0[2].

See also: Industrie 4.0 vs. the Industrial Internet[3].

[1] https://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/2413.html

[&] http://www.industrialinternetconsortium.org/

[&] http://industrial-iot.com/2015/09/ieee-pursues-standard-refe...

[2] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plattform_Industrie_4.0

[&] http://www.zvei.org/en/subjects/Industry-40/Pages/The-Refere...

[3] https://www.mapi.net/research/publications/industrie-4-0-vs-...

jsprogrammer 21 hours ago 0 replies      
>Like you, I once had many products that each fulfilled a separate function: a landline, a cellphone, a camera, a video recorder, a stereo, a calendar. Now, I have one product that does all of those things a smartphone. This level of product integration was a revolution in product design.

Is the smartphone really a revolution in product design or just the inevitability of technological convergence? There is essentially no fundamental difference between products listed. Sure, the user function may differ, but the actual implementations are all based on the same phenomena: stored information manipulable through electromagnetic fields.

How early on was a device like the modern smartphone conceived? I'd wager not long after the discovery of silicon transistors.

Immersive Linear Algebra A free interactive online book immersivemath.com
359 points by samlittlewood  14 hours ago   58 comments top 19
sudo_bang_bang 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I never studied math in college, in fact I barely studied math in high school. It was always daunting to try to parse the notation and figure out how the abstract symbols corresponded to some piece of reality.

When I became a self-taught developer I found my math skills continuously lacking. I started teaching myself on Khan Academy and really picking it up a lot better because of the simplicity of the language and the good examples. I finally realized I learned math best visually.

Interactive lessons like these are great. There are things that can be improved about this book (load times and enhanced interactivity) but all in all this a great resource for people that learn best visually. I'll come back to this soon in my future self-education.

wehadfun 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
To bad that teachers rarely have the freedom to teach using tools of their choosing
Scottopherson 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks awesome. The popup-help's are a little jarring though since there's no indication as to which words will trigger a popup. Also:

"Oh come on, you should know what a vector, v, is by now. Check out Chapter 2, for crying out loud."

seems kind of harsh to say to the reader while they're reading the first sentence of Chapter 2..

cabinpark 7 hours ago 7 replies      
I always see linear algebra on HN and many people comment on how they never understood the subject. This makes me ask: what exactly is it that people don't get about linear algebra? What makes it appear to be a difficult subject?

As someone who has used linear algebra almost every day in some form over the last decade, it's hard to get a perspective of what aspects are challenging to the beginner. And since I TA courses that involve linear algebra, it is good to know where the problems are.

something123 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
In terms of programming and linear algebra - please consult someone who is actually knowledgeable about the subject if you're implementing it in code.

Linear algebra without error analysis is very dangerous. Many many things are theoretically useful, but can't be used in practice. You can't calculate determinants, you can't count unique eigen values, you can't use certain decompositions.

Unfortunately this isn't really topic you can do a quick tutorial on and start writing new algorithms

Voltbishop 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Really great site. It's clean, look forward to seeing the complete interactive book.
cptvideo2 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm sure that this a wonderful book, but please note the error right off the bat in equation 1.3 The tangent of the angle in question is b/a NOT a/b as stated. Probably a good idea to keep an sharp eye on the math as you go along in this thing.
nicklaf 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Similar project, but for multi-variable calculus:


krat0sprakhar 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is actually pretty cool! I spent the last few weeks going through Gibert Strang's popular OCW course[0] & I'm sure this would serve as a great companion. I can't wait for the chapter on Eigenvalues to be published as that is something I don't yet grasp intuitively. Great work and thanks for making this free and accessible!

[0] http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-06-linear-algebra-...

neovive 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
From a technical aspect, this is an excellent implementation of MathJax.
thyrsus 5 hours ago 3 replies      
At some point, I'm hoping to get enough of this to solve this problem: you've taken a picture of, say, the Mona Lisa in its rectangular frame, but because of crowds you weren't in line with dead center, instead you were 5 meters back, 1 meter high, and 2 meters to the side, and not even pointed at the center. Your photo now contains some quadrangle that is a projection of the rectangle. I'd like to tag the four corners and have an algorithm map the photo to its original rectangle - I intuit there's enough information in the photo and the four tagged points, given that the original is actually a rectangle.
nstart 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Slow to load (possibly due to HN traffic), but once it does, it seems like it's got the makings of a great learning tool. Waiting for matrix chapter since that's where I stopped learning Linear algebra on both my past two attempts (Gilbert Strang made my mind explode as I tried to comprehend past 4 dimensions. And then I just got lazy). Really want to pick this up because without linear algebra it's easy to get lost in all the major streams of Machine Learning. At least that's what I felt when I tried to skip linear algebra and move on to ML.

Sigh. I sometimes wish I paid more attention to my studies while I was in school instead of goofing off and playing card games :'(

70seconds 11 hours ago 1 reply      
70 seconds to load a chapter? That's a terrible benchmark for even for some of the heaviest websites out there!

This may not be a popular opinion but I (and many ordinary readers like me) see that link as a website. Not a book.

It feels heavy and overwhelming to see a large number of 3D diagrams and visual depictions on just one web-page. Having to scroll down to read the full chapter with all that animation and "motion" is probably a bad move too. Given that this is supposed to come off like a book you can probably ditch the scroll.

Ideally, you'd want to give away few concepts in small easy-to-understand chunks with just 1 or 2 figures per page. And let the reader flip/click over to the next section like it happens with an ibook or kindle book or even a real physical book.

IMHO the idea of ripping apart a book at its spine and forcing the loose design of websites over it is a complete no-go for avid book readers. Especially for the mobile and tablet users (probably even for the desktop users!, why else would everyone insist to download PDF, ePub or other artifacts?). But I'm sure that a section of developers over here wouldn't agree with my opinion. So take it all with a pinch of salt.

Also just the place where I'd let the designers take over.

jimhefferon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not Free? That's fine, but I couldn't see a statement of that. If so, I wonder how they plan to do DRM.
snake117 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I was thinking of working in a lab that does research in the field of computational biology. However, I never took a linear algebra course before so I always felt like it would be a waste to make an attempt. I did a quick skim and this looks very promising. If I can comprehend this, then maybe I will be of some use in the lab. Thanks for sharing :)
krohling 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks amazing and well timed as I've been attempting to learn Linear Algebra on the side. However, everything after Vector Products is "coming soon". I will definitely use this once it's all there, which i hope is soon. Heck I'd be willing to pay for it if it were ready now.
jesicamila 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this available in an off-line bundle?
jjangsangy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool, well doesn't work on my mobile device, but I'll definitely check this again later since I need to review more Maths before going back to uni
generic_user 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this available in an off-line bundle? I am becoming increasing wary of online books/training/applications that can not be read locally. If I am going to take the time to read through a full book (possibly weeks of reading) I want to be able to use/reference it in 5 years like my paper books.

most of the value of a good math book is that years after reading it you can use it as a reference to look things up you will inevitably forget.

CS Unplugged: Computer Science Without a Computer csunplugged.org
403 points by avinassh  3 days ago   86 comments top 28
sophacles 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have encountered a lot of people who earnestly want to learn to program. But it is difficult as we all know - and a big part of that difficulty is learning to think in terms of process and small discrete steps. When that is confounded with annoying things like syntax pickiness, dealing with OS oddities and compiler warnings, the result is a lot of long-term confusion in folks learning.

I've found that a deck of cards and some patience can really help people understand the tiny step by tiny step thinking that is fundamental to computer science and programming. Things like sort this row of cards (following only these rules) and, yeah it's frustrating to do that over and over, lets group those together in a new rule called $X, and so on gets that thinking instilled better than any amount of explaining the programming language ever did. Later, introducing the computer in the mix actually seems easier once the student is accustomed to thinking like a computer.

artlogic 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm very happy to see this. I've taught computer science at the college level. Whether you realize it or not, learning CS has very little to do with typing symbols into a computer. While it's true the computer sometimes surprises us, I've told my students that if you can't run the program in your head, then you simply don't understand what's going on. You haven't learned anything.

More often than not, the computer facilitates a guess and check programming mentality that isn't just endemic to students, but to our profession in general. I'm certainly not immune to the temptation to fix problems by repeated runs with small tweaks: "Does it work? No... no... no... yes! Move on!" That's not computer science. It's data entry.

It's not that computers have no place in the curriculum. They can be immensely helpful in understanding of complex algorithms, much the same way performing an experiment can lead to a more thorough understanding of physics, or chemistry. However, no one would argue chemistry is about moving chemicals from one test tube to another.

jasonjei 3 days ago 4 replies      
Learning CS without a computer brings you incredibly good foundations when you do program with a computer. Algorithms, data structures, and other theory become much easier to implement. I used to think it was stupid that we had to implement algorithms on paper tests, but a lot of that makes you a better programmer. I still don't think paging memory on paper has any good use for an OS class--just busy work :).
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who studied CS in school, I appreciate this approach. But I don't know if I would if I were, say, learning to code as an adult. The reality of the matter is that computers themselves are a massive aid in learning how to program...and I mean far beyond the ability to quickly Google/StackOverflow questions.

Being adept at an interactive interpreter, for example, opens up the opportunity for fulfilling (or at least, less frustrating) interactive debugging...to me, being able to debug is at the core of understanding programming. And while that's not pure computer science, per se, it's a great way to not just understand and replicate CS concepts, but to fully test and explore them via immediate feedback. Sometimes I've found that I can only understand an algorithm by implementing it in code, and then tweaking/breaking it to test my assumptions...a computer makes it so that such exploration is not impossibly tedious.

mikeflynn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember walking in to Comp Sci 101 on the first day and quite a few people had laptops and everyone was surprised to see it wasn't a computer lab classroom. Right off the bat our professor addressed this: "Yes, this is Computer Science but it's really science about computing. You won't ever see a computer in the class room. You'll do programming assignments at home but in here we take notes, talk and draw diagrams. " Felt weird at the time but makes perfect sense to me now.
aunty_helen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a great respect for Tim Bell, someone who has put his everything into this project to make CS more accessable and get it taught at an earlier age.

I can always remeber back in 2008 when he gave a special lecture to COSC122-S208 with an early prototype of this program. It was obvious that I wasn't the only one left with a feeling of 'why didn't they just tell us that to start with?' after 10 weeks of battling beginner skills at java and trying to learn data structure concepts and algorithms at the same time.

jrochkind1 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be really good for prisoners too, who don't usually have access to a computer but are often interested in learning about computers.
geebee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Computer Science without a Computer you mean math? ;)

Joking aside, this can be a very good exercise. I did interviews on the whiteboard, and it did teach me that I have come to rely a little too much on compiling and running to understand the logic I've written.

rietta 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of competing in the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Competitions. With 3 students and one computer, you had to solve the problems offline and only spend keyboard time for entering and running your program. It really teaches a skill-set that's hard to appreciate if you always have a computer and the compiler in front of you while working out solutions.
pja 3 days ago 1 reply      
I should get round to submitting my updated version of the 'have a bunch of kids be logic gates & simulate a binary adder' exercise I found on the net a few years ago which has gone down really well the last few times I've run it.
kazinator 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is no problem with using a computer for teaching. The problem is the nature of the modern personal computer. It's too usable for things other than programming, which constitute numerous distractions.

Maybe what you need for teaching is a computer with a programming language in the firmware, which gives you that language's REPL (and nothing but that) within a fraction of a second of powering up.

jedberg 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm seeing a lot of comments here about the format and how it's not great to learn CS without a computer, etc etc.

I personally think this site is AMAZING and I plan to share it with many of my friends.

Perhaps this is because many of my friends, like my wife, are elementary school teachers and I've seen the kind of resources they usually have to work with.

As far as resources for elementary school kids, this site is far and away the best I've ever seen. They clearly took their time to do things well, knew their target audience, made a site that is super useful to teachers.

adpirz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm building a K-12 comp sci curriculum for a network of schools and we're pulling a LOT from this. Why? I previously taught an intro CS course to 8th graders with the "jump straight to the code" method, and found that many, if not most students struggled with conceptualizing and articulating algorithms, even in Scratch which is very visual.

Moving forward, our curriculum is going to build those skills up front and off-screen, then move to code. How we build those is a continuing work in progress, but CS Unplugged is a big part of that.

meeper16 3 days ago 5 replies      
"Learning music by reading about it is like making love by mail." - Luciano Pavarotti
seanmcdirmid 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the reason Europeans CS is generally much more theoretical than American CS: in the early days of computing, Europe was rich in talent but not so much in hardware, so focused on computer science in a purer sense; the Americans had plenty of hardware, so focused more on pragmatic aspects.

This still has some effects today in department cultures even though hardware is readily accessible to all now.

LouisSayers 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was at uni we took CS Unplugged around primary schools to play some of the games from the materials and teach kids some of the basic concepts. It was heaps of fun and I highly recommend that other people do the same!

In particular I love http://csunplugged.org/error-detection/ as it's a magic trick. I've used this at parties, and I find it funny that it's a computer science concept.

Tim Bell's also super nice, and it's fantastic that he developed this!

jorgeleo 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the "new" computer science, the one with no math
jot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this approach:


UK schools are teaching programming with marble runs.

b3b0p 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my intro CS course the first day the instructor said they don't teach programming and there was zero credit lab for that. He said this is the design and implementation of algorithms. The labs were 3 hours, zero credit, taught in C and on Linux. If I remember the machines in the lab were running Afterstep, I used Window Maker at the time on my personal machine. Memories...
deano 3 days ago 0 replies      
I went through the K&R C book writing out the exercises and notes in a notebook. I had limited access to a computer at the college I was attending. Thankfully I was well beyond my "Intro to UNIX" class and that granted me the free time to play with the code I had written in my notebook. I think learning to code this way can be a huge aid in conceptualizing certain CS / programming topics.
plg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a 3rd year undergrad CS class in "Programming Paradigms" where the final exam involved writing programs in Prolog, Lisp, C, and Fortran ... With paper and pen. It was awesome. As I recall I scored a 100 and was a TA for the course the following year (in my 4th yr)
alienium 3 days ago 1 reply      
i dropped out so i can get a job to buy a computer to keep studying :( very bad financial situation
DrNuke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing, will pass to fellow non-native programmers for them and their kids. I'm afraid to say that in a productive environment CS is still way more a technical effort than a cognitive one for "us". But Python helps, aha!
baldfat 3 days ago 0 replies      
HOOSERS - Basketball movie (The best sports movie ever) had the first practice was performed with out a basketball. This reminds me of this.

Love this organization with the activities and activities with videos. Great presentation to me.

avodonosov 3 days ago 0 replies      
The contents of the source seems to be good, but somewhat noise - too lot of intro, preliminary info, table of contents, etc. It's takes digging to get to actual knowledge.
abc_lisper 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is excellent. Great to get kids interested. Heck, my mom would be interested too.
MehdiHK 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is so cool! Are there any similar efforts worth bookmarking?
smaili 3 days ago 2 replies      
Happy Birthday Monkey Island grumpygamer.com
266 points by alblue  4 days ago   119 comments top 25
dirktheman 4 days ago 10 replies      
Ah... Monkey Island. I have such fond memories of not just MI, but also other Lucasarts/Sierra adventure games like Day of the Tentacle, Sam&Max, Full Throttle, Willy Beamish, King's Quest, Space Quest, etc. I owe a large part (if not most!) of my English skills to these games.

Recently, I bought my daughter an old '99 ibook Clamshell on a yard sale. I upgraded the RAM and substituted the hard drive for a CompactFlash card. Most of these games are free downloads these days, so we spend hours playing them. Some of them look a bit aged, but generally they hold up pretty well. The experience is still as captivating as it was back then.

benjaminva 4 days ago 0 replies      
Monkey Island 1/2 still remain one of the most influential games for myself. I triggered my strong interest in game programming and later programming in general. All I wanted in the 90s was to come up with programs that showed sprites moving around. Later I progressed to different fields of programming but I guess a part of me still dreams of programming an equivalent game like Monkey Island some day (2D of course!!!)
inDigiNeous 3 days ago 0 replies      
Chipping in on the memories. Lucasarts Adventure Game Pack on 5 floppy disks IIRC was the first game I ever purchased with my own money for our Compaq Presario 386-SX 25Mhz back in the day.

They used to remind to take backups of your floppies before doing anything else, so I purchased a 5-pack of 1.44 MB floppies to copy the diskettes unto. I will never forget the pain when I realized that I accidentally formatted one of the original diskettes in the process, and I could not install Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ever.

My imagination ran wild when I looked at the photos of this game in the contained cleverly disguided walk through that was in the format of a story, and I longed to install that game and play it but nobody had it. Luckily I downloaded it later from a local BBS and finally got to play it.

But back on the subject, seeing Monkey Island logo on the screen, with glorious 256-color VGA, the PC Speaker playing the theme music, in the dark cellar where our PC was, was just pure magic. Nothing has ever come close to that moment and will never come, it is one of the few rare memories that I wish I could re-live, to feel the magic of entering that Island and being there again, for the first time.

Monkey Island 2 came close, but the magic of playing my first really graphical adventure had already passed. Oh, I wish to share that feeling with my child in the future :)

guybrushT 3 days ago 0 replies      
As my username probably reveals, this is my favorite game, and one of the most enjoyable / funny gaming experiences that I have had. The part that I still remember, after all these years is sword fighting insults. Till today, my friends and I sign off our emails with some of these dialogue writing gems [1]

"Nobody's ever drawn blood from me and nobody ever will.""You run THAT fast?"

"People fall at my feet when they see me coming!" Even BEFORE they smell your breath?

"I'm not going to take your insolence sitting down!" "Your hemorrhoids are flaring up again eh?"

What a great game, and what a great era for gaming.

[1] http://monkeyisland.wikia.com/wiki/Insult_Sword_Fighting

hdivider 4 days ago 5 replies      
"I dont know if I will ever get to make another Monkey Island. I always envisioned the game as a trilogy and I really hope I do, but I dont know if it will ever happen. Monkey Island is now owned by Disney and they haven't shown any desire to sell me the IP. I dont know if I could make Monkey Island 3a without complete control over what I was making and the only way to do that is to own it. Disney: Call me."

I wonder if anyone high up in Disney could be persuaded to give Ron Gilbert enough control to make MI3a. Would surely boost their brand and create a community of grateful fans.

If selling the IP is a no-no, maybe there's another way.

midgetjones 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was so lucky to have grown up during this time and I hope it's not too pretentious to say it affected my life in many positive ways.
benihana 4 days ago 6 replies      
If anyone is unaware, they've got some pretty good versions of MI 1 and 2 on the Apple App store. I played it on my iPad a couple of years ago, and it was great. The adventure format works really well on a tablet. You can even play with updated graphics or in classic mode. Easily worth the 10 bucks or however much it costed.
ddispaltro 3 days ago 4 replies      
I still to this day think Guybrush Threepwood is the greatest character name.
Plishar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked at Software, Etc. when these games were released. I was in high school, and I got my first promotion to Assistant Manager.

I enjoyed all the adventure games during that time, but then Civilization was released, and I was hooked! Adventure games seemed flat compared to the endless possibilities in Civilization.

yannk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hello, Craig Thomson? Are you here? Did you, indeed, become a programmer?
bane 3 days ago 0 replies      
A great interview with the creator is here


I remember getting a demo floppy with it on it and being absolutely blown away by it. I had played Sierra games before that, and the artwork and interface made those games look and feel absolutely stone aged in comparison.

The excellent writing was icing on the cake.

I must have played through that short demo a hundred times before getting the retail game for a present. It's kind of amazing how much fun fit into such little disk space.

scott_s 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ron Gilbert was recently a guest on Retronauts, and he talked about making Monkey Island: http://www.retronauts.com/?p=1147
huhtenberg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Recent remakes of Monkey Island 1 and 2 are really nicely done with superb voice acting. Played through them last summer with my kids on the iPad and enjoyed every moment of it. Highly recommended.
egypturnash 3 days ago 0 replies      
oh god that font choice. Really, Ron? The c64 font in the eyestrain-inducing default blue? Do you really want to wallow in nostalgia for that? And Safari's 'reader' view isn't working.

edits the css manually so she can actually read this

dasboth 4 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone played Broken Age? It's nowhere near as difficult as the adventure games of old, it feels more of a casual adventure game, but the story, characters, art and voice acting are superb. My favourite game genre by far, happy birthday Monkey Island!
jug 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Mr Gilbert,

We do own the Monkey Island brand, but we are of course ready and willing to let go of the three headed monkeys and scary voodoo curses once again. You have our blessings. And curses.


(oops, looks like we accidentally posted on Hacker News, sorry, won't happen again!)

DrNuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
Old fart still dreaming of Lucifer's Realm, Fifth Eskadra and The Bard's Tale on Apple //c here eheheh Monkey Island good though, even if more a Carmen Sandiego kind of guy tbh eheheh
mbajkowski 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Monkey Island series along with Loom and Zak McKracken bring back some super fond memories.
0x4a42 4 days ago 0 replies      
"It amazes me that people still play and love Monkey Island."

I'm still playing Monkey Island 20 years after the first time I discovered it on the Amiga.

compactmani 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the music. You need a Creative Music System / Game Blaster or Roland MT-32 for the best experience.
_nedR 4 days ago 1 reply      
The real way to celebrate a happy birthday is with a 90% off sale (on the remastered version)! Keeps fingers crossed.
onedev 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the first games that completely captivated me. It was almost magical.
imranq 3 days ago 0 replies      
While 1 and 2 are OK, Curse is by far my favorite...so many fond memories
carbide 3 days ago 0 replies      
My name is Guybrush Threepwood. Prepare to die!
PSeitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Where is disk 22?
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces wisc.edu
311 points by acdanger  19 hours ago   34 comments top 12
dcchambers 18 hours ago 5 replies      
I had Remzi for two courses at UW, one of them being Operating Systems. He's the best professor I've ever had, and this book is an amazing tool for learning the basics of an Operating System. It's a quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a free Intro to OS resource.
trentmb 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Just a heads up- I purchased the ebook sometime ago (v0.6.1 I think) and as new versions came out lulu.com declined to offer me the updated versions without making a new purchase.

Maybe the policy has changed- I don't know. Just thought I'd let others know, as I've been spoiled by O'Reilly

nadams 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I've learned/taught from the "dinosaur book" [1] and for the price tag it's pretty bad. It's a nice overview but it has several problems. First of all the section on CPU scheduling is pretty sparse and confusing. I skimmed through this book and it seems on par. But the one thing this book skips is Rate monotonic and Earliest deadline first - which I found to be rather difficult algorithms. This is because whenever you would research it - I would find other professors using screenshots from the dinosaur book that doesn't help explain it at all. I would be happy to give you my notes on it.

I really wish that was a an open source project that took developers and/or students from start to finish of an operating system. I should preface that and say that it should be easy to understand and use. I know about xv6 and I feel like that's too complex. I've found MikeOS [2] but I will have to study/extract it into pieces.

In any case - I really think this practice should be more widespread. Unfortunately, I've found many people to offer "lazy criticism" they point out something is wrong but don't want to offer any help to make it better. The Rooks Guide to C++ is a perfect example of this - yeah it's not perfect and doesn't contain all C++ knowledge you could ever know about (there have been a lot of negative criticism about the book). But that's not the point - it's designed for people who know nothing about programming to learn about C++ in a 16 week course. It's goal isn't to replace the Stroustrup expert C++ book.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Operating-System-Concepts-Abraham-Silb...

[2] http://mikeos.sourceforge.net/

StudyAnimal 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"virtualization, concurrency, and persistence" I would have said something like memory management, interrupt handlers and system calls.
epaulson 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The Arpaci-Dusseaus are some of my favorite professors at the UW - they're not only first-rate researchers but fantastic teachers.

Remzi in particular has a very dry but hilarious sense of humor. His exams are a hoot (but are also great questions to see if you really know your material)


suyash 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking for a better OS book, hands down the best one for last 2 decades has been this one by Prof Andy Tanenbaum : https://books.google.com/books?id=9gqnngEACAAJ&dq=modern+ope...
fgandiya 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, what a coincidence! I'm just about to start my Operating Systems class. This will come in handy.
molteanu 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally, I enjoyed the "Operating System Design: The Xinu Approach", by Comer:


theoh 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Most useful thing I have picked up from this is the notion of interposablity. It captures the basic idea behind both LD_PRELOAD hacks on unix and the way servers can be stacked in Plan 9. Very useful new term.
jcr 18 hours ago 0 replies      
previous discussion from two years ago:


czmr 16 hours ago 6 replies      
So, what are the pre-reqs for studying operating systems? I'm guessing C and Architecture? Or would it be better to study architecture after an OS course/book?
Scarbutt 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks great. Besides being available for free, how does this book compare to APUE? http://www.apuebook.com
Show HN: HTML5 version of StarCraft github.com
300 points by gloomyson  1 day ago   91 comments top 19
SXX 1 day ago 3 replies      
Looks funny, but I recommend you to remove all proprietary Blizzard graphics from GitHub and possible just recreate repository without it. If you want to host assets there better to keep them in different repository.

Otherwise you'll clearly get DMCA because Blizzard has long history of banning any project even remotely copying their products no matter if it's done for fun or whatever.

PS: It's also affect repository name, etc.

hitekker 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those wishing to play without downloading:

Open http://htmlpreview.github.io/?https://github.com/gloomyson/S... in FF (or Chrome without its security stuff on)

hvidevold 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Good job gloomyson! I've been working on HTML5 version of Starcraft 2, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoPNrz2LUG0 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvhUteDp3o8 , and source is at https://github.com/emnh/rts . Only free assets are included in github repository submodule, same separation strategy as Stratagus.
galenko 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is awesome, but as others have said, the Blizzard legal team will come knocking on your door very soon. If I were you and if you're serious about continuing working on this, I would take this down immediately, get in touch with their legal team and see if you can work something out with them to get their blessing on this.

They're not evil, it's their job to protect copyrighted assets, without them Blizzard would be out of pocket and SC2 might not have been created, from my experience, there are some really friendly people there, but you have to get on their good side and I'd say you've already gone about this the wrong way (by githubbing their copyrighted stuff).

Mizza 19 hours ago 0 replies      

Anybody looking for an HTML5 Startcraft-esque multiplayer game might want to check out http://littlewargame.com

MasterScrat 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks very interesting :D

I'm currently doing the same with Baldur's Gate engine. I am using Mootools, I want to study your code more to see if Dojo would be better (Mootools introduces overhead with constructors)

Basic demo here: http://lumakey.net/labs/battleground/demo1/

For multiplayer I'm making tests with Firebase...

Also I'm looking into WebGL for some animations (explosions etc) probably it could help performance in your case as well.

xytop 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Play it online here: http://shvelo.github.io/StarCraft/

(fork with gh-pages added)

unicornporn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Funny thing, I tried to play SC on a LAN last week. No go on my MacBook though. Wine gives graphics glitches and VMWare Fusion was too slow on my ageing MBP.

I downloaded version 1.0 of this and it seems to work quite well! The version live at http://www.nvhae.com/starcraft/ is 0.1. Guess we shouldn't hope for multiplayer, which is what I'm really after.

j_s 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out the StarCraft AI competition if you need some ideas:


S4M 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or it's the "gather" function to mine resources is not working? Really nice apart from that.
jpatokal 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anybody got this running without downloading the whole lot and hosting it locally? http://htmlpreview.github.io/?https://github.com/gloomyson/S... loads up to the splash screen but no further.
Plishar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I make games all the time for myself, sometimes using copyright protected images. But I can't share the source code or publish the game in Google Play if I do that.

If I want to share or publish, I have to use free stuff or make it myself. If I want to use copyright material and publish it, I need permission and a contract with the owner of the IP, a license or agreement of some sort to use their stuff.

All this applies to everyone, not just the US, if you want to do business. If it's just for fun that's fine but you can't distribute it in anyway, including github.

jlebrech 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I would commit a change that removes the assets and see what pull request you get. or even better i'd make it load assets from a theme then anyone can theme it.
thomasahle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amazing work! I put this in full screen, and at times, playing the 'Protect Athena' level, I even forgot it wasn't the real thing. Must have taken you a lot of tuning :)
vegancap 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amazing work! Red Alert next??
iopq 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone who still plays the game sometimes, this will take way too much effort to reproduce satisfactorily. Cursors need to change on mouseover, or when a command is selected. There need to be hotkeys, ctrl groups, etc.

Not sure if you're going to finish this, because it is going to be quite hard to polish.

mentos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any Html5 game frameworks that this could/should have been built on top of? I feel like there are a bunch of games that could be made with an html5 client...
songgao 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Even the cheat codes still work!
tallerholler 1 day ago 1 reply      
this is awesome! please continue and get multiplayer but also don't get busted by blizzard...
Call Me Maybe: MariaDB Galera Cluster aphyr.com
293 points by akerl_  3 days ago   97 comments top 11
teraflop 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't find it surprising that so many distributed databases fail at ensuring consistency; it's a very hard problem. What really gets me is that they deliberately, knowingly sacrifice consistency for performance, and then claim the opposite in their documentation/marketing.

See https://github.com/codership/galera/issues/336#issuecomment-... linked from the article)

mysql_cass_dba 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to aphyr for the testing. Certainly it will help focus efforts on improving things.

I am a MariaDB contributor and operate Percona Cluster in production, so I can talk a bit about Galera.

It's recommended that writes go to one master, rather than be distributed across the nodes. That will help with isolation issues.

Also, some commenters have complained about year-old releases. PXC has improved significantly in the past year regarding manageability, so you may want to try again. For example, the startup script has a bootstrap option now.

For most people, vanilla async MySQL replication works best, esp. 5.6. But Galera gives you another option when you need something else.

Having said that, it takes 5-10 years for a database or filesystem to mature, so anybody using Galera now is an early adopter.

no1youknowz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I flirted with MariaDB Galera Cluster. This was on Amazon EC2. Frequently mariadb would just go down, not the server mind you. Frequently the whole cluster would go down as well. To bring it back up, I'd have to bootstrap the whole cluster.

Essentially, what a pain in the backside to use.

This did not fill me with confidence and thankfully did not go into production and later on went with Postgres/CitusDB.

The difference is day and night!

bsaul 3 days ago 4 replies      
Everytime i read one of those post (or other about mongodb failures), i keep thinking about this talk http://youtu.be/4fFDFbi3toc

And why noone tried to repeat their strategies for building a robust db system : start by building an extremely robust failure simulation and testing facility. Then build your product.

Actually, i think what those guys at foundationdb did was so exceptional, that by buying the company and killing the product, Apple harmed the software industry for the next 10 years. The fact the foundationdb is mentionned in OP as the only distributed db system one could recommend makes me more confident making that statement.

StavrosK 3 days ago 8 replies      
Is there any data store that has come out of these tests looking good? Every Aphyr post I've read had a pretty big failure at some point, even for datastores I considered solid, like Riak or Cassandra.
cpr 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's no mystery that the kinds of systems with massive reach--Google search, Facebook, Twitter--are really not data-consistency-critical applications.

Who'll ever know if a search result isn't perfectly up to date or perfectly accurate?

Who'll ever know if you missed a Facebook feed entry because it "wasn't relevant" or simply wasn't seen due to DB vagaries?

And who'll ever know about a few tweets going astray here or there?

In all cases, they're all likely "eventually consistent" (or close to it), but it's no accident that it doesn't ultimately matter in those massive scale examples.

And maybe that's the secret to massive scale--it can't ultimately matter.

Karunamon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can I point out that I'm utterly impressed and astounded by Kyle's ability to remain detached and professional in the faces of what appear to be outright falsehoods stated by some of these companies?

If I had gone to his lengths to critically evaluate the safety of a database system, and then it comes out that the marketing materials or the words of the developers were.. significantly misleading at best, my first response is likely to be a profanity laden rant, not a cool recounting of how and why they're wrong.

Erwin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Despite the reliability, that product sounds nice -- is there anything for Postgres with similar ease of setup for replication etc. that someone can recommend? E.g. EnterpriseDB ?
steveklabnik 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish more companies supported people like Stripe does for Aphyr. Research is so valuable, but there's so little incentive to be in academia. There's a certain irony that undergrad left me with so much debt I couldn't really consider joining a research university...
gregwebs 3 days ago 2 replies      
What about AWS Aurora? I have not used it, but I definitely would if I was using MySQL.
DannoHung 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's a series on testing durability claims in distributed computing workloads. It's a good name.
Death to Bullshit deathtobullshit.com
322 points by spking  1 day ago   206 comments top 38
Animats 1 day ago 7 replies      
Advertising in the US doesn't create demand. It just moves it around.

America is spent out. The US personal savings rate is under 5%. Everything else gets spent, and the saved money gets spent later. There's no "pent-up demand" waiting to be unlocked by advertising.

Advertising is thus a net lose for Americans. All that effort adds to cost. For some products, including movies, long distance phone service, and many prescription drugs, the advertising cost exceeds the manufacturing cost.

This is an argument for a tax on advertising. Advertising expenses should not be deductible business expenses at all.

Note that neither Amazon nor WalMart advertises much, compared to other large businesses. Target spends more on ads than WalMart does, although WalMart is much bigger.

shostack 1 day ago 10 replies      
As much as I dislike some of the current trends (and I do digital media for a living mind you), I do have to point out that this stuff wouldn't be done if it didn't work.

Ultimately this implies that there are enough people out there who engage with or...dare I say...want...the bullshit, that their collective voice outweighs those that do not simply by the fact that those are often the users who click ads, share things, and otherwise generate more value and revenue for the publishers than those that do not.

While the arms race to fight this stuff is commendable (I myself run at least NoScript at home and it is beautiful), I can't help but think the only way to win is to not play.

By that I mean coming up with revenue alternatives for publishers that not only generate more revenue than this approach, but also provide a direct incentive to not use these things.

If such magical solution existed, they would switch of their own volition. Instead, they focus their efforts and dollars (and by extension the focus of an entire industry that has been built on those dollars) on adding more items to the list of bullshit.

afarrell 1 day ago 1 reply      
This page talks mostly about interface bullshit, but people are also tired of content bullshit. To paraphrase from Harry Frankfurt, this is content produced not to conceal truth, but without regard for for it whatsoever. If to lie is to murder truth, to bullshit is to manslaughter it.

Producing bullshit is more profitable because it still attracts eyeballs (and therefore ad revenue), but is much less costly to produce. Thats why the presence of large amounts of ads, needless pagination, and interface bullshit are a reasonable indicator of content bullshit.

Encosia 1 day ago 5 replies      
Be sure to click the "Turn bullshit on?" link at the top-right for a chuckle.
Retr0spectrum 1 day ago 3 replies      
narrator 1 day ago 0 replies      
My way to avoid bullshit is to only read a very highly curated twitter feed. Anybody who mentions a "big" news story gets booted. Like if it's on the front page of the New York times, you get booted. I'll find out about it just by looking at the random media device blaring mainstream bullshit from every airport and doctors office waitimg room, so quit thinking you're the new Paul Revere by retweeting. I value niche information very specific to things I am trying to accomplish.
superuser2 1 day ago 4 replies      
The vast majority of working adults in the US are employed in the making and selling of things people don't need. A world without bullshit is total, utter economic collapse. It's the end of capitalism. It's hundreds of millions of people with nothing to do all day and no way to sustain themselves, an inevitable civil war with the landlord class, and a revolution that manages to install a government's that quite possibly worse.

Every piece of bullshit you see is how a great many people pay their mortgages and feed their children. Casting them out to the street is unlikely to make things better.

xd1936 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great. Reminds me of Jon Stewart's speech that he gave on his last show.

Video and transcription:http://leoherzog.com/jon-stewarts-incredible-bullsht-speech

jessaustin 1 day ago 1 reply      
People's capacity for bullshit is rapidly diminishing

Even though this proposition is in bold 20-pt type, no arguments were offered to support it. It isn't obviously true, and indeed there are reasons to suspect the converse. Dare I say it, but a bald emotionally-appealing assertion of this sort seems sort of like... bullshit?

nkurz 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a couple other posters mentioned, be sure to try out the understated "Turn bullshit on?" link on the upper right of the page. It really sells the point.

I sort of hoped that after clicking "I am a racist" to dismiss the "Like us on Facebook" page, that the popup chiding my brazen admission would have hijacked the OK button to post my admission to all logged in social media sites.

But unfortunately Brad seems to be to honorable for that, even after people doubly-confirm that they want the bullshit. And counter-to-reality, the pulsing read "Turn this bullshit off" link works as advertised.

interesting_att 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was just thinking yesterday how inundated we are by ads these days. You see ads on television, the radio, the internet, billboards, public transportation, sports stadium/jerseys, magazines, guerrilla marketing, product-placements and celebrity endorsements, and not to mention PR (which is just advertising by other means). Talk about mental pollution!
nickledave 1 day ago 1 reply      
Worth reading the follow-up post: http://bradfrost.com/blog/post/living-with-bullshit/He's not against ads. He's against shitty ads that piss off customers.

Anybody know if there actually are any studies that show that these ads (1) help businesses attract clients and (2) do so without alienating more clients than they attract? Or are they all just for businesses that don't care about keeping customers anyways (e.g. weight loss fads)

segphault 1 day ago 0 replies      
I couldn't help but notice that the blog associated with the site (linked at the bottom of the manifesto) is hosted on Tumblr and runs all of its offsite links through Tumblr redirects so that the clicks are all tracked. Surely that qualifies as exactly the sort of bullshit that this person is inveighing against.
andyidsinga 1 day ago 2 replies      
see also, the book, "On Bullshit" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit )

This book should have a spot on everyone's desk in hard copy. Use it as a coaster, walk around with it in the hallways, take it to meetings. No need to preach from it though - its very presence will be enough of a sign to others re: your tolerance levels of the amount of bullshit stinking up the current situation.

EDIT: BTW, I do indeed have a copy of On Bullshit, but I use "The Elements Of Style" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elements_of_Style ) book in the exact same way as I suggested above for On Bullshit. I think they are two sides of the same coin :)

icanhackit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it's a solved problem. Must it be framed as a binary thing where there's either bullshit or no bullshit? What if there's a middle ground: those who find bullshit interfaces and/or bullshit content abhorrent use tools to improve it or completely avoid it, while those who aren't the wiser continue to go along with it?

You want to argue that bullshit content is what's keeping people uninformed? I say no, it takes a certain innate sense to rise above the natural flow of misinformation. Some people can only be guided by rhetoric - they make their decisions based on consensus in their local network and too easily trust people who claim to stand for it.

What we have is a war: between those who guide the senseless and those who exploit them. Take your pick.

jordanpg 1 day ago 2 replies      
This isn't just about advertising. It's equally about bad or distracting design.

But ultimately it's about concentration. I believe, for the most part, that multitasking is a myth. When I am reading something difficult, or that I would like to remember in detail later, I need to focus on it exclusively and read it without interruption. That means ad blockers, print view, etc.

> As the landslide of bullshit surges down the mountain, people will increasingly gravitate toward genuinely useful, well-crafted products, services, and experiences that respect them and their time

This sounds like wishful thinking to me. Marketing and design are surely down to a psychological science by now.

tpeo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe this submission vindicates, to some degree, the 'nostalgia' for pre-2012 internet that was so condemned in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9960730
davemel37 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is by far the most ironic discussion in HN history! To be fair, i cant back up that statement with evidence...but wait, none of the comments here or for that matter content in this death to bs website are backed up by anything other than personal opinions and anecdotal theories.

You would hope that a rallying cry of Death to BS would invoke a slight bias towards withholding BS and focusing on facts that make a difference.

Do I agree that there is way too much noise online? Yes, but complaining about it is as noisy as things come!!!

cm2187 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the slogan "Death to Bullshit!".

General de Gaulle's comment on a similar slogan: "a vast programme".

webXL 1 day ago 0 replies      
It sounds like the author resents having to compete for attention with "bullshit", but I'm not sure if there's a realistic alternative. You're going to throw out the baby with the bath water I'm afraid.

As for advertising, paying for entertainment and information with some time and attention is not really bullshit. It's a voluntary exchange, and both sides would not engage if they did not have some inclination that they would be better off than without the exchange. There are other things you can exchange for entertainment and information, and you can completely opt out.

rythie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unless we start paying for online content, this is going to not only continue, but get worse.
tkiley 1 day ago 1 reply      
One person's "bullshit" is another person's "positioning", and positioning is arguably one of the most important communications skills for founders.

I sympathize with the author but I'm not really sure what to make of this.

paulsutter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't miss the "Turn on bullshit" link in the upper right corner.
russell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another piece of bullshit that I am running into with alarming frequency when I click on search results that leads to a local newspaper like the Des Moines Register is that it pops up with a request for a subscription. If I cancel the request, the story appears but with the text replaced by white rectangles. That's just rude. I'm from out of town, for god's sake, I just want to read one story. The New York Times or the San Jose Mercury are more respectful. They give you 10 stories a month.
andyidsinga 1 day ago 1 reply      
in the list of BS items, have to disagree a little with inclusion of "captchas, QR codes"

..these seem useful. I must be missing some nuance re their bullshittyness - can anyone elaborate?

a3n 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the flight/product plus insurance pattern, if it's difficult to cancel the insurance, I wonder what the effect of cancelling the entire product purchase would have on this problem. Just cut to the chase, pull back all your money, leaving a nice, obvious "fuck you" in the resulting vacuum. That is, assuming they haven't inserted the same bullshit cancellation for the purchase itself.
mojuba 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can't say how effective this campaign can be, but I'm glad QR codes are now officially included in the list of bullshit. Can't agree more.
pudo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lovely. An anti-bullshit manifesto that talks about "experiences" and "the rise of" various things. I'm sold.
SandB0x 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now this is cheap populism I can get behind!
halotrope 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well actually I like the "bullshit" on pages (that being of course, an exaggeration) because it makes it far easier to filter pages that have content with a low signal to noise ratio. I think content consisting of only bullshit with low substance is the far worse disease and it seems to spread just as quick.
mbesto 1 day ago 0 replies      
All of this "bullshit" exists because it works.

What's amazing is that the author pays his own bills as a result of such bullshit existing. The companies he's consulting to don't magically make money from nothing.[0]

[0] - http://bradfrost.com/web/

qwtel 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Now this is cheap populism I can get behind!

This is the lowest ranked comment right now, but I think it is great, and I want to rephrase it in a way that maybe more people can appreciate it (and hopefully doesn't get me downvoted like crazy)

So the reason I take offence at "advice" or a movement like this (not sure what it's supposed to be) is that it makes the speaker and everybody who associates with it look incredibly good, while it is barely bothering to offer any proof as to why it is actually good advice.

I am aware that this sounds cynical and I beg you to resist the temptation to downvote and/or ignore this comment. Instead I'd invite you to ask yourself: Could this argument have something to it despite the fact that it's pretty uncomfortable?

Going on, why does getting behind this make us look good? It shows that:

* we are not ignorant of questionable business practices in our field

* we don't prey on the (intellectually) weak in order to sustain our businesses

* we value ideals like craft more than money (ignoring that most of these practices are not driven by greed at all but are the only way to ensure the survival of some companies, which brings me to the next point, that)

* we are not afraid to "stick it to the man" (even though "the man" is probably a complete strawman and we don't have to fear any real retaliation for expressing this opinion)

Now there is nothing wrong with advice that makes us look good per se, but is it also good advice?

> People's capacity for bullshit is rapidly diminishing

Again, this may sound good, but it could have been said at any point in time and be true, the question is: Is it diminishing faster then new ways of bullshitting arise?

And maybe it is not diminishing at all. Take gambling for example. It is obviously "intentionally deceptive or insincere" in that it won't make you rich, it is in fact mathematically proven to make you lose money, yet people seem to have gambled for thousands of years and will probably go on to do so for thousands of years to come.

The attempt of linking bullshit to Sturgeon's law is also pretty weak IMO. It's not like anybody set out to put something in the bottom 90%, it's what happens to, well, 90% of things, and it's not at all clear that it was BS that put it there.In other words: Naively looking at the top 10% and saying: "None of those is doing BS" does not mean the lack of BS got them there. All it says is that "In the top 10% you don't have to BS (because you can afford not to)", or even just "BS doesn't get you any further in the top 10% (and that's why nobody is doing it)".

Finally, Buzzfeed is certainly in the top 10% of "lighthearted entertainment on the internet" and it is BS (and only BS) that got them there, because that's the kind of environment that "lighthearted entertainment on the internet" is like. No amount of shaming will change anything about that (but would still make us look good, so produce some quality content over there already!).

tl,dr: Be aware of advice that sounds good. People will like to offer it even when it is not practical at all, or only under very specific circumstances, that may not apply to you.

ris 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it hugely ironic that the author hosts the site's blog on tumblr, the king of user-signup-driving no-we're-not-going-to-give-you-an-rss-feed-we-want-you-to-join-our-service-to-subscribe.
bksenior 1 day ago 1 reply      
blattenshitser 1 day ago 1 reply      
stabilo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's one he omitted: "We take security seriously..."
majani 1 day ago 0 replies      
On Opera Mini, the bullshit button doesn't work...
ilaksh 1 day ago 0 replies      
War propaganda is very prevalent in US media.
Fixing Twitter dcurt.is
298 points by rkudeshi  1 day ago   132 comments top 45
geofft 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Right now, a reply to Justin Bieber by a 16-year-old fangirl goes into the ether, never to be seen again. There is zero incentive in the product to interact with celebrities on Twitter, because no one will see the responses.

This seems like speculation. Empirically, do a search for "@justinbieber" (click on "live") or look at any of his tweets, and you'll see innumerable 16-year-old fangirls who have found some incentive to tweet at him. There's also the subphenomenon of these 16-year-old fangirls getting incredibly excited when those tweets do get seen and interacted with, which indicates, one, that they don't go into the ether, and two, people have a genuine hope of interaction.

I've seen this in practice, because I do actually follow certain parts of popular culture and music and trashy television (not Bieber, as it happens, but enough others) and occasionally look at what they're up to on Twitter. It happens without fail for every celebrity.

So I wonder if the author is actually reporting on how actual people actually use Twitter, or extrapolating from the eyes of a non-16-year-old non-fangirl who cares about things like reply threading.

electic 1 day ago 2 replies      
There might be no fixing Twitter. The reason Twitter grew imho is because of the rich ecosystem of developers they had. Those developers, time and time again, found new ways to use Twitter and did the development, marketing, and educating of the public. The result was rich engagement and growth.

Everyone had a different reason for using Twitter because there were so many apps. Now, those apps are gone. How do you go and tell the developer community to come back? How do you trust Twitter? The answer is you don't.

OoTheNigerian 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Nothing great is Built On Twitter"

That quote sums it all up.

Most of Dustin's suggested extensions are things other people should have built on Twitter. Of course, it also keys into Dalton's App.Net plan where Twitter should have been the stream and people should have used a countless applications to make the stream more discernible and allow Twitter focus on ensuring the backbone stays in place.

Funny enough, that is how twitter originated. Others built their clients and they focused on the core. They lost that direction and wanted to "own it all" like Facebook. But they took that direction rather too early.

Take Tweetstorming as an example which is a niche need. My team built a tweetstorming app http://writerack.com. It pulls and pushes all it's content from and to Twitter. In an ideal case, Twitter should support it and similar ones rather than making Twitter.com more convoluted with the aim of doing everything themselves.

If Twitter had supported third patrty developers, someone/people would have built a killer app for using twitter to follow and interact live events. That would have brought another set of people into the platform and that extends to other use cases too.

Hopefully, Twitter gets it right because I have come to really find Twitter useful.

egypturnash 1 day ago 5 replies      
> Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text. Thats it.

It has? I don't follow any news organizations or famous people. Well, a couple of Hugo-winning authors. But than's not like Beiber famous. And my timeline is a vibrant place full of friends talking with each other. It's like an IRC channel where I get to decide who's there. And it works great for that.

> Secondand this one is obvious to almost everyoneTwitter needs to focus on realtime events. When I open Twitter during a major debate in the US, or when a bomb has exploded in Bangkok, there should be a huge fucking banner at the top that says follow this breaking event.

Whenever there is a major thing going on my timeline will tell me about it. Because my friends will be retweeting stuff, or tweeting news articles they saw about whatever the thing is elsewhere. I know when there are conventions going on. I know when riots are happening. I know when there is a videogame speedrun charity marathon happening. Well, I used to until I decided to preemptively block the hashtags for those. I know when my friends are musing about their gardens, or their resumes, or their angst about their core skills. I even know when some of my friends are feeling frisky if they've trusted me with access to their private accounts where they occasionally post half-naked selfies. And in the middle of that I get all these weird blips of surreality from various art project bots I follow. I don't need a "huge fucking banner" telling me to follow a breaking event, because my friends will be talking about it.

When I have a problem with some software or some corporation, if I use their @name while bitching about the problem there is a pretty decent they will reply and help fix it.

Yeah, every kid who tweets at Beiber isn't going to get a reply. Duh? Would they expect a reply on other social media? Does Beiber even run his own account? There's a lot of celebrities with mostly-dormant accounts run by their social media specialists, and they're boring as fuck because they're not really there. But a lot of people who are famous, but not Mega Corporate Media Distribution Famous, actually do run their own twitters.

Who the hell is Dustin following here? Does he actually have any friends who use Twitter as his primary mode of communication? Are all his friends on Facebook or G+ or something else instead? Because it sure sounds like he's not using Twitter anywhere near the way I use it.

atmosx 1 day ago 5 replies      
My problem with twitter is that it feels like a desert land more and more. I get more and more bot 'followers' and more ads in my timeline. The signal / noise ratio has decreased incredibly and continuous decreasing, unfortunately.
perlgeek 1 day ago 5 replies      
I think it's time to rethink the 140 charcter limit.

When people want to post more than 140 characters, they include it as an image (so not searchable), which is considerably more effort.

Why not allow longer tweets, and only show the first 140 chars by default (along with an indication of how long it's going to be), and then load or show the rest on demand?

josai 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting that no-one has mentioned weibo, the chinese "copy" of twitter (hint: it's not actually a copy). I think weibo is a fantastic product that's ahead of twitter in many respects.

Just off the top of my head, weibo has:

- the "event" grouping that dcurtis mentions and a better topic grouping system ("micro topics")

- rich multimedia as a first class citizen (photo galleries especially are very popular)

- payments built-in - you can donate to or pay anyone on the platform. This is especially used in time of disaster. Weibo escrows the money for a bit to make sure the recipient is legitimate, btw

- properly threaded conversations, easy to follow

- a much more fleshed-out verified account system and the dev integration to connect companies to the system

I'm aware that what works in china may not work for twitter, but looking at what they're doing seems like a pretty good starting point.

digisth 1 day ago 1 reply      
As I've written in past comments (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10094396), and as this post suggests, rebuilding developer relations and improving integrations would go a long way. There's a lot of potential locked in the platform right now; they should work on letting developers get access to it more easily and strive to remove the cloud of uncertainty that has built up around it (i.e., will they shut me down if I do something too popular that colors outside the current lines?) It would benefit everyone, especially Twitter.
manigandham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Twitter doesnt seem like it's capitalized on what it's good at, or anything really.

For personal: Facebook has network effect, complex relationships, share anything and everything, privacy, groups, etcs. Younger generations more focused on sharing are using Instagram, Snapchat, and all the messaging apps.

For work: LinkedIn gives value in seeing work histories, connections, companies, etc (although still a bad product but without competition)

For news: The mainstream just use news sites, search and Facebook or get alerts from all the other apps/networks/reddit and there's RSS which is way nicer for following blogs and niche news.

What Twitter has been good at is allowing people to have a easy public voice (although nobody might see it but its there) without being tied to a personal identity and giving the chance to talk to people you might never be able to reach otherwise. You can tweet at politicians, celebrities, top executives, companies and can reasonably expect a reply or exposure. That's really powerful and a great equalizer. It's also good for real-time obviously, working like a constant stream of consciousness of the collective you follow.

However like the article says, thats it. There's no movement on the product itself. Terrible UI with broken conversations, broken sharing, broken lists, no new features like deduping tweets, non-chronological ordering, better developer APIs, and the ads product isn't great either.

It's kind of sad that the network that originally began as messaging based around sms/phones has been completely overtaken by all other messaging and sharing apps while still keeping completely unnecessary limitations like 140 chars. There's just no focus here...

randomsearch 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the disaster that is Twitter is a product of its culture. If you read the history of the business, it started with a group of people who really arrived in the business quite randomly. There wasn't much thought given to building a balanced team or a strong culture. Effectively, twitter was an accident that came out of another business.

Most worryingly, the founders couldn't agree on what the purpose of Twitter was, and illuminatingly people in this discussion still don't have a clear idea of its purpose. Is it a news broadcast system, to follow current events? Or is it about sharing your personal life with your friends?

From a technical point of view, I find Twitter very confusing. I read that they were at over a million users before having any kind of backup strategy. They rewrote their systems from Java to Scala, but then seemed to regret that decision, their decisions on shutting down API access to third parties have been really nasty... this kinda thing makes me worry that they don't have clear leadership.

And then there's the politics of infighting, and some of their executives being "overthrown" over time... I can't see how you can create a good culture when people at the top are behaving like that. It's hardly rocket science - just focus on the product and your users.

I think creating a culture from the beginning is a lot easier than changing an engrained culture, so my view is that Twitter is screwed. Failing a Jobsian turnaround, the best they can do is sell and sell fast. I can seriously see Twitter losing out to a startup. Any thoughts on whether they will survive?

benjaminwootton 1 day ago 0 replies      
What amazes me is how slowly it seems to move on for users.

There's a ton you could do to improve search, UIs on top of the feed, analytics, communities, twitter lists, conversations, media embedding and interactions.

On top of that social graph they had the potential to build a better, more real time, more community led Instagram, Snapchat or Youtube.

And yet it doesn't seem to move forward as a product.

slyall 1 day ago 0 replies      
The image cropping is something that annoys me. Someone will often post a photo in the their timeline that is pointless when it is cropped. eg a Meme with the captions missing.
steckerbrett 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text.

That's not unexpected given their signup flow, it's pages and pages you have to click through where it automatically follows hundreds of celebrities unless you uncheck the boxes.

Corrado 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I really, really want to like Twitter, but I just can't. Most of the content in my stream is crap, as I (apparently) don't know the "correct" people to follow. Finding the "correct" people to follow is difficult, and even then they sometimes spew multiple boatloads of crap. :/ I wish there was a way to filter some of it out and only keep the good stuff.

Conversations are almost impossible to follow. Once you locate a good tweet, its a confusing process to find all the related tweets. Sometimes, they are below the tweet (which is confusing as I don't read from the bottom up most of the time) and sometimes they are buried inside the tweet. Grrrr!!!

Finally, putting non-text media in a tweet is turning out to be horrible. At least when tweets used to be ASCII, I could reasonably read through them. Now, I have pages and pages of little silent movies that start playing when they come into focus. How annoying is that!?

I really like the "World News Headline" feature that Dustin proposes and would probably use Twitter more if it has something like that. However, given that Twitter is transforming itself into a Vine/Instagram clone I probably won't be hitting the tweet box much in the future. :(

probdist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well twitter has just recently restructured the product team so maybe big things are in-store: http://recode.net/2015/09/02/twitter-restructures-product-te...
ghshephard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Parts of this are a little off, at least in how I use twitter.

"There is zero incentive in the product to interact with celebrities on Twitter, because no one will see the responses."

Maybe true for the 1mm+ follower people, but ironically, this is 90+% of how I actually use Twitter. I tweet at a mid-high volume (100k->500k) individual, and occasionally get a response, more often get a fave, and ever so often get a retweet.

For < 50k follower people, I almost always get a response if what I sent was thoughtful.

Also, I love looking at the responses to tweets - and often respond to those responses, and get a thread going with the responder - often dropping out the original person who tweeted altogether.

I'm not saying all is well in twitter world - but I quite enjoy (perhaps too much) the back and forth/threading/responding that twitter offers. I really, really don't need any more.

minimaxir 1 day ago 0 replies      
My main issue with Twitter now is the recent (undocumented) change to the mobile apps for "suggested tweets." (example: http://i.imgur.com/AfsmQgW.png )

As mentioned by the commentators, Twitter has a discovery issue. Twitter's solution is to put "suggested tweets" below the normal replies, but without any clear discernible division. (just "Suggested by Twitter" in light gray color). Way too many times I accidentally read suggested tweets instead of normal replies while instinctively scrolling to the bottom and I get very confused.

sushrutbidwai 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bigger issue is no developer trusts twitter any more. Just like LinkedIn. twitter has been unkind to the developers which helped it make popular. Remember things like lists, hashtags, media embed are all brought to twitter before twitter did so itself. But developers of these innovations were treated badly. And hence no developer wants to develop for twitter platform any more.
jeo1234 1 day ago 0 replies      
Twitter need to focus more on developers. The underlying concept behind the site is really solid. Allowing people to build cool things which adds value and brings in new users is good for everyone. So make it easy for them! Their API is not great, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why they don't release official libraries for the major languages?
T2_t2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Twitter's problem is simpler: it is great for power users, shite for everyone else.

Twitter needs to curate the content I see better - especially for newer users. Twitter is boring as sin until you follow a few interesting people, then it becomes overwhelming as it adds too many more.

Twitter needs to focus on the feed being more malleable, both with and without personal effort from me.

HappyTypist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very interesting point regarding the illusion of interaction that Instagram provides. I do find Twitter's displaying of replies and retweets (to the first 100) questionable.

As for how Twitter can improve in that aspect, how about a horizontally-scrolling feed of users who retweet, and a less-annoying version of such for comments? They seem like relatively easy design choices.

vit05 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Twitter is very confusing and useless to anyone who wants to use less than one hour per day. So, if they focused on interactivity between anonimous,famous and "live events", most people who do not want to live on Twitter, will have a reason to open the app at least a few times a day.
falcolas 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I encourage anyone who thinks that #2 is as easy as the OP to give it a shot. It's actually quite a hard problem, especially when you have to deal with fake news tweets and want over 80% accuracy.

Disclaimer, I work for a startup doing exactly this, so if it's something you actually want to do for a paycheck, shoot me an email.

tempodox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your word in Twitter's ear!

I seem to recognise a pattern where Twitter & Apple's AppStore fail in the same way: Failing to give end losers (er, users) intelligent filters so they can decide what they want to see, and equally important, what they do not want to see. The conspicuous absence of those options speaks loud & clear as to the platform owner's intentions.

olivermarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tech celebrities such as Guy Kawasaki have had teams of tweeters working for them for years: it seems reasonable to assume large numbers of people are employed to interact with show biz personality obsessives...just like all the faked autographs the Monkees etc used to mail to their fans...
nemothekid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure I agree about #1 and maybe my twitter experience is different from others. First, if I want to communicate with others I take it over FB/Email/Messenger of choice. Sure public conversation is nice, but its painful over Twitter and I'm not sure how it could be made better. Everyone talks about how a threaded view would be nice, but people fail to consider that Twitter conversations are never 1-to-1, its usually multiple people tweeting at one person. Having a conversation on something as open as Twitter is like trying to have a conversation with the President during his speech. Not everyone can talk at one, and no matter how you do it, the interface will drown some out. Combine that with the fact that you can tweet anything at anyone (unlike a Facebook/HN thread which is usually around a specific topic), you get a very constrained opportunity to have actually conversations.

However, Twitter does a better job at problem #1 than instagram does. Beiber is not replying to fans over Instagram - and I doubt people are actually communicating to celebrities via Instagram comments, have you seen Beiber's (or any music celeb's) instagram? Its a wasteland of spam, self promotion, and emoji. I doubt Justin Bieber has a higher reply rate on Instagram than Twitter - it's very easy to see that Justin Beiber engages fans on Twitter, not so much on Instagram.

That said, as someone who uses Twitter heavily, but never tweets - my most useful function for it is a realtime news feed (to not just news orgs, but people, parody accounts, comedians, tech nerds, sports news, ...). I place as much emphasis on the ability to "respond and have conversations" to the success of Twitter, as to the success of Buzzfeed and other news orgs (- I doubt you need an active comments section to have a good news site - most of it is garbage anyways).

The second and third points are apt though - Facebook's "trending" seems a lot more useful the Twitter's, however I'm not sure how useful either is without constant curation. Even if Twitter had a super sophisticated algorithm to automatically detect topics - without curation you end up with garbage. Facebook's trending is just as useless once you have the reason why its trending.

Lastly, FTA>Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text.

I'm not sure how Twitter can fix this, but my response to this is if this is what Twitter has become, then its because you made it that way. Reddit now has a subreddit /r/BlackPeopleTwitter which would give you a very different idea on what Twitter is if your Twitter experience was like that.

msoad 1 day ago 1 reply      
I very much like tweets be ethereal like SnapChat snaps. Many people don't like to keep a history of stuff they said previously.
sreejithr 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The fact that automatic tweets from apps are considered rude is one of the biggest failings of Twitters product team.

This is THE ONE THING they've done right. I'm come on Twitter to read what people wrote about stuff. Last thing we need is an emotionless machine generated feed.

blazespin 1 day ago 0 replies      
If the MM+ tweeter is half way savvy they'd do what Zuck does and reply to some small % of his followers. I'm sure if they did that, a 13 year old follower would irrationally hope that their tweet was seriously read and would engage in the conversation.
zobzu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thats funny, if followed it seems these advices would transform twitter into facebook

So, yeah..

joe5150 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Dustin clearly doesn't follow @cher if he thinks there's no meaningful interaction with celebrities going on on Twitter
hackaflocka 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great points all. Especially #5.

One of the strangest things about Twitter is that its search seems broken. Sometimes when I'm trying to locate past tweets authored by myself or by someone else, I can quickly find them on Topsy, but almost never directly on Twitter.

Twitter has begun to feel stale. Considering how much I love learning from people like pmarca and pg through it, this is something that worries me.

smegel 1 day ago 2 replies      
Disconnecting from twitter was one of the best moves I ever made. Being subjected to a high volume/low quality stream of garbage is not good for the mind.
reitanqild 1 day ago 0 replies      
semicolondev 1 day ago 2 replies      
michaelborromeo 1 day ago 1 reply      
If Twitter didn't exist, what would the world use instead?
mahouse 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a power user and have been on Twitter since 2007. I used 3rd-party apps until they fucked them all. I'm now forced to use their glittery official app full of ads and suggestions and things I don't care about. I follow less than 50 people and use Twitter 24/7 literally. I never miss a tweet.

> First, for normal users, Twitter feels too much like a one-way broadcast system. It needs to feel more like a community, with meaningful two-way interaction. Right now, a reply to Justin Bieber by a 16-year-old fangirl goes into the ether, never to be seen again. There is zero incentive in the product to interact with celebrities on Twitter, because no one will see the responses.

Let's force Justin Bieber to sit down and read the thousands of replies he gets to each any of his tweets.

Let's also make it so when I click on a Justin Bieber tweet, my browser downloads a webpage of 50MB with all the responses so I can read them all.

> Secondand this one is obvious to almost everyoneTwitter needs to focus on realtime events. When I open Twitter during a major debate in the US, or when a bomb has exploded in Bangkok, there should be a huge fucking banner at the top that says follow this breaking event.

No, please, please no, NOOO. Some of us are just simply not interested in real-time events and use Twitter to talk to our friends. If a bomb explodes in Bangkok, I simply don't care. If I did, I'd use the search engine. And by knowing Twitter, they would probably make the banner mandatory, or would make you dismiss it each time (along with a nice "Did you like this?").

> Third, Twitter has fucked up multimedia integration. Why the hell does adding a photo or video use up some of the 140 characters I want to use for my description? Why does it crop my photo? Why does it not show full-width images in the feed?

Because Twitter is a text-only social network... Or at least that's what it was.

> Fourth, lets talk about third party payloads/integrations on Twitter. They have never felt native, and they are stillafter three yearsin a bizarrely dire state.

Same response as before: I think media integrations should not be encouraged.

> And that leads to me to the final thing I want to talk about, which is also the most important: Twitter has fucked up its platform. Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text. Thats it.

So don't follow them. Follow only humans with real feelings that are not using Twitter to earn themselves money.

> The fact that automatic tweets from apps are considered rude is one of the biggest failings of Twitters product teamTwitter should be the place for apps to broadcast realtime information about someone.

So you want to read automated tweets all day? Don't be silly, who wants to read "Johnny has favourited this vid on youtube!!" "Mike has uploaded this pic to Instagram!!" all day? You? No, nobody, that's why these integrations with automatic tweets are RUDE. If I want to know what you uploaded to Instagram I'd follow you there, jackass!

There, I vented it.

mandeepj 1 day ago 0 replies      
dennisnedry 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love that the author is criticizing Twitter's UI, yet when I tried to find a date of the article, I had to mysteriously hover over the title of the post to see it magically appear before me.
onewaystreet 1 day ago 2 replies      
ThomPete 1 day ago 1 reply      
lovamova 1 day ago 0 replies      
StillBored 1 day ago 1 reply      
meshko 1 day ago 0 replies      
vortico 1 day ago 2 replies      
Academics are being hoodwinked into writing books nobody can buy theguardian.com
216 points by samclemens  2 days ago   91 comments top 17
patio11 2 days ago 7 replies      
Academics spend years writing books nobody will buy. That's practically the definition of academic writing. They go into incredible amount of depths for a very, very niche audience: other academics interested in, e.g., the experience of women in Japanese detective novels of the 19th century. (n.b. Actually a book, assuming I am remembering all the details correctly. An advisor spent years on it.)

This is exactly the result the market should hope for: a profitable method which gets academics to write down very-incredibly-niche ideas and then put copies of them exactly where someone would expect to find very-incredibly-niche ideas. The alternative to these $150 books is not $7.50 books. It is "no book." They do not meaningfully trade off with equally-in-depth blog posts, because academics are not scored on, and hence do not as a matter of practice actually sit down and write, book-length blog posts.

librvf 2 days ago 2 replies      
These may sound like stories of concern to academics alone. But the problem is this: much of the time that goes into writing these books is made possible through taxpayers money. And who buys these books? Well, university libraries and they, too, are paid for by taxpayers. Meanwhile, the books are not available for taxpayers to read unless they have a university library card.

In the US, taxpayers are said to be spending $139bn a year on research, and in the UK, 4.7bn. Too much of that money is disappearing into big pockets.

What is this garbage? Why not let an interesting article about a specific problem (academic publishing scams) stand on its own? Why pour on sensationalized, over-simplified, misleading "context?"

According to to study where those numbers came from, the $139bn the federal government spends on "research" is a part of a larger pool of "funding for research" that includes non-government sources, which is like $450bn. Universities (not just the libraries) are getting about $60bn from the big pool.

In other words: the study, at least the results referenced by The Guardian article, does not say ANYTHING about the flow of money from taxpayer wallets to university libraries. Based on the evidence presented, the fraction of university library funding from taxpayer dollars could be anywhere from 0% to 100%. This is blatant dishonesty from The Guardian.


Oh and one more thing: The "good" part of the article is written by an anonymous source with no verifiable facts (no publisher names, no book names). I have no real reason to dispute its authenticity, the idea certainly seems plausible, but I can not verify any of the claims being made without basically starting my own study from scratch.

hellofunk 2 days ago 3 replies      
This article could easily be expanded to include software developers as well as academics. I've seen several excellent developers with strong reputations contributing to the open source community get "hoodwinked" into rushing out shallow books for companies like Apress. I've seen other developers also get sucked into the game, only to see less income from the work in one year as you'd need to buy a modest used car -- after months of at least half-time effort. The market and problem for these books is a bit different than the market described in this article, but the symptoms on the writers is often the same.
copsarebastards 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They aren't being hoodwinked, they're just not writing the books to be bought. Nobody goes into academia hoping to write the next bestseller.
DrNuke 2 days ago 1 reply      
Broadly speaking, cheap e-books from non-stellar academics are an incredible amount of data leaked for free: top peer-reviewed journals are not cheap at all and relevant conferences proceedings are often run on a pay-for-view scheme. The non-stellar academic from Windy Hill University, Nowhere, will sell a good summary of his/her field and an up to date literature review for less than $20. Bargain.
nebulous1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't the answer be to have the libraries not buy books from unscrupulous publishers?
georgeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
One quality specialized publisher is Now Publishers : http://www.nowpublishers.com/ Quality is managed by having leading academics have a say in the editorial decisions.

Their conditions are somehow better than more established ones. Authors still hold the copyright over the material, and according to the librarians at my institution, their campus and course packs are much cheaper to other publishers.

Goladus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Has The Guardian Been Bought By The Onion?


m-i-l 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Business Secrets of the Pharaohs [0]. But does anyone actually enter in to this process without understanding what it is? Looks like is is a widely known practice [1].

[0] http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/entertainment/articles/2012-12/...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_open_access_publishi...

madaxe_again 2 days ago 2 replies      
And students are being hoodwinked into buying them. The books also often include minutiae which change from edition to edition, so you have to get the nth edition in order to take your class - because in physics, for instance, there are Q&A in the books which differ between editions.

The main book we had to get was written by two of the lecturers, and was 300. It was so half-assedly bound that you had to cut the pages open.

jordanpg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much of this is simply a function of the massive overpopulation of graduate programs and the growing need to fill out CVs with publications? I know that this has been happening for years in the form of obscure journals that no one reads or cares about.
raverbashing 2 days ago 1 reply      
And of course the question is, how much would the academic make with those sales? (I'm guessing not much
n0us 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best emails I've received in a while was from the UVA alumni association letting me know that I would retain library access, including access to JSTOR, because there is no way I could afford to outright purchase everything I want to read.
anta40 2 days ago 1 reply      
80 is definitely not cheap.I'm curious what factors make those textbooks so pricey.
Zigurd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why, if you want to be an author publishing through the more or less conventional publishing industry, you need a first-rate agent, and a knowledge of who is a first-rate publisher.

There's a big difference between a global publisher placing your book in their professional publishing imprints versus an obscure publisher leaching a bit of money out of libraries. The first-rate publisher will also get your expensive book into their subscription programs that they market to corporate subscribers, for example.

If you have a good agent, they will steer you toward the goals you are pursuing, if you communicate those goals clearly. That's where some knowledge of which publishers have the best and/or most widely read books in your field is important.

If you want to get your book into the more-widely sold trade paperback format, you need to tune your proposal to that goal. Most publishers require you to do some competitive analysis in your proposal. That's going to be important guidance for where your book ends up.

brohoolio 2 days ago 1 reply      
Better and worse ways to spot a liar bbc.com
243 points by williamhpark  1 day ago   132 comments top 34
pelario 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Clearly, such tricks may already be used by some expert detectives but given the folklore surrounding body language, its worth emphasising just how powerful persuasion can be compared to the dubious science of body language.

It strikes me to the degree that the folklore is mixed with the (so called dubious) science.I was always interested in the topic, and had indeed read a book when I was teenager, with ideas such as the iconic example of Clinton touching his nose.

About 5 years ago I went to the topic again; learned that one of the biggest authority in the topic was Paul Ekman and read a couple of his books

Surprise surprise, the main takeaways were ideas such as:

(...) not to jump to early conclusions: just because someone looks nervous, or struggles to remember a crucial detail, does not mean they are guilty. Instead, you should be looking for more general inconsistencies.


There is no fool-proof form of lie detection, but using a little tact, intelligence, and persuasion, you can hope that eventually, the truth will out.

Ekman repeated all over the place that there is no body language for lies, only for emotions, and that the emotions can have a variety of causes.And that was already clear the last century! If some security entity has bought something that promised to spot lies, it was probably folklore-based and no science-based.

piokoch 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Thomas Ormerods team of security officers faced a seemingly impossible task. At airports across Europe, they were asked to interview passengers on their history and travel plans"

It is so sad that nowdays it is not seen as absurdal that some kind of policeman is asking passangers about their travel plans. The journalist get excited that new methods of catching "cheating passangers" are beind developed.

Apparently in the brave new World we have created this is considered normal.

justzisguyuknow 1 day ago 4 replies      
This seems to me like the technique that is already employed by Israeli airport security agents. They have a normally-flowing inquisitive conversation with every passenger boarding flights to or from the country, and they are very good at detecting when the details don't add up or when the person is acting too uncomfortable.
zamalek 1 day ago 3 replies      
> According to one study, just 50 out of 20,000 people managed to make a correct judgement with more than 80% accuracy. Most people might as well just flip a coin.

Oh the irony surrounding statistics and how often it is used to lie - case in point: the mode is completely absent and some useless factoid is presented instead.

That's not to say that argument is false ("you can't use body language"); merely that because of the useless information we don't know if it's true either.

samuellb 1 day ago 6 replies      
Not sure if trying to "trap" the liar is always the right way to go. Once I had to work with a freelance web master and we were trying to cancel his contract and make him transfer the domain name to us (an association I was working for). I confronted him by asking politely for a written copy of his contract because I thought he was lying about the length of the contract. He was insulted and claimed there was a verbal agreement several years ago. I don't know if he was right or wrong about that, but after that he would make up things about basically anything (such as, that changing the owner/registrar of our domain would cause his other customers' files to be deleted etc.). We now offered him money to break out of the "contract" early, but now he was already stuck in his lies. If he would say that it was technically possible to move the domain name, he would also expose his earlier lies.

After almost a year of arguing with him, he offered to transfer the domain before the end of the "contract". But for "technical reasons" it had to be done after the hosting company had shut down the web site and e-mail, which caused some downtime for us. In retrospect it would have been much easier if I hadn't questioned him in the first time.

adekok 1 day ago 3 replies      
There are ways to work around this. The key is to not lie, but to tell a different truth. I used to do this in high school, when my parents were grilling me.

Friday night: go out with quiet friends. Saturday AM questioning: "How was your evening?" "Fine". "OK".

Saturday night, go out with less quiet friends. :) The Sunday AM questioning was rather more rigorous.

So I described what I did Friday. There were telling hesitations, of course. But 90% of the questions had immediate and honest answers. Just with the day changed.

vidarh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I read "What every body is saying" by Joe Navarro, an ex. FBI agent a few years back, and one of things it spent a lot of time on was tearing apart the notion that we can recognise liars by body language without knowing them well first. People do have "tells", but as the article says, they vary wildly from person to person.

They're still interesting to look out for, though, as they're helpful hints to let you direct your conversation to probe at areas that makes someone nervous and/or to figure out what someones different tells means.

korginator 1 day ago 4 replies      
You will find the techniques described in the article used when you are traveling into Israel. I've gone through this many many times, and am still often taken aback by the weird questions I sometimes get asked by their officers. Still, the whole process is rather smooth and I've never been detained or even treated unfairly.
benihana 1 day ago 3 replies      
>Ironically, liars turn out to be better lie detectors.

What is ironic about that? If I understand how to lie to other humans, why is it anything but expected that I would be able to recognize that skill in other people?

watsonc73 1 day ago 2 replies      
From what I understand you typically need a 'base-line' of normality to know when someone has deviated from that. People can get nervous or make mistakes at any point. The best way to set the base-line is to have a general conversation to put them at ease and then ask the more consequential questions. This could lead to longer queues though which would be an unfortunate side effect.


Use the deviation from the base-line to work out if someone is lying.

hessenwolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
But they tested it with fake liars, who, in my humble opinion, are less likely to exhibit emotions, and more likely to be too lazy to come up with good details on the fly for back stories.

Maybe it is just me that is sweatier and wilier when stressed.

thom 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practise constantly." Words every founder should live by.


yakult 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Lie detection via facial cues / body language strikes me as the sort of thing best done with a neural network: thousands of tiny noisy cues each with very weak correlations that need to be combined with solid statistics. Humans can't process this many cues at once and bias drowns out the signal, but a smart NN hooked up to a powerful camera is another story.

The 'active' method in the article is useful, but has a limitation: you need to be able to ask questions in real-time.

Collating the answers and automating truth evaluation would be a pretty interesting AI problem. It should also be possible to have an AI formulate the statistically optimum questions to ask, Akinator style.

P.s. That would be the killer app for Google Glass, right there. Would also increase chance of being thrown out of pubs by 1000%, but hey.

dovereconomics 1 day ago 0 replies      
Spotting petty liars is the least of one's problem. As normal people expose more information in the Internet, it becomes increasingly difficult to be a liar, almost impossible.

Still, the 'big lies' are just getting stronger and these techniques are useless on them. How many political identities can be dismantled by 'surprise'?

rayiner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems to bear a lot of similarity to standard deposition/examination technique. Because a lot of important things are decided on a paper record the standard techniques involve asking open ended questions and drilling down to details, often going back to cover the same ground again, hoping to elicit testimony that's implausible or contradictory.
j_s 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Any pointers on how to flip this around and purposely use body language to consciously reinforce what I'm trying to say rather than accidentally undermine it?
Sharlin 1 day ago 1 reply      
So, what's the rate of false positives, given that only 1 in 1000 is a true positive?
linkydinkandyou 1 day ago 2 replies      
One thing's certain. The U.S. Government wasted billions of taxpayer money training TSA agents--often recruited from ads on pizza boxes--in useless behavior analysis techniques.
btilly 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Reading this article reminds me of how the STAR interviewing technique manages to drag truthful answers out of candidates about what you really want to know about them:


reitanqild 1 day ago 0 replies      
> How is it possible that academic research remains so awful at disseminating knowledge - presenting results in an open, accessible manner isn't exactly difficult?

Read to me less like academic research and more like a before/after show by the training consultant. But I only read if very fast.

j_s 1 day ago 2 replies      
In the 3-season TV show Lie to Me (IMDB: 8.0), the protagonist relies on "micro-expressions" to catch criminals.


jeffdavis 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I would guess that the success of these methods is also dependent on the stakes. Asking how honest someone is might get them to confess a small misdeed, but not a nafarious plot.

The general technique is probably effective though.

smegel 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Study after study has found that attempts even by trained police officers to read lies from body language and facial expressions are more often little better than chance.

Yet juries in rape trials supposedly do it all the time...or don't they?

casion 22 hours ago 1 reply      
These sort of things really bother me, because they cause me a lot of trouble.

I am really uncomfortable in front of people, and no matter how honest I am, I am show my discomfort in interacting with people quite a lot. I look around the room while talking to people, I shuffle around, sometimes I sweat just talking about the weather... I have social anxiety obviously, but it's awkward to start a conversation with anyone by saying, "Oh hey, this interaction is going to be really awkward because I have social anxiety." I tried it for a while and most people seemed to just blow it off.

It's caused me quite a few issues with friends who frequently think I'm lying when asked 'truth-seeking questions. More importantly authority figures tend to misinterpret this as me being deceptive or uncooperative.


The most recent example was a police officer that came to my house to see if I had seen my neighbor's car recently. The car had been stolen and they were trying to determine the last known time it was present. As usual, during the rather normal questions I was rocking back and forth, chewing on my nails and shuffling my feet. I'm painfully aware of these things and consciously try to stop each little tick, one by one.

It didn't take long for the officer to ask why I was so nervous, and the he promptly switched the subject and asked if I had any hobbies. I'm fairly obsessive about my hobbies, and I pretty much immediately started rambling about what I was doing. I suspect I stopped most of my 'nervous ticks', because he interrupted my ramble to ask why I was lying about not having seen the car lately.

It was extremely offputting, since I wasn't lying. I got really nervous again, and started thinking about how I 'screwed up' the interaction. Instead of responding to his question I simply told him that I had really bad social anxiety and this questioning was really difficult for me. That didn't help at all.

I ended up with another officer at my door, with more questions that I had no answers to, and I became more and more nervous. Needless to say this went on for ~30 minutes just standing at my front door until I suppose they realized that I was either telling the truth, or was a completely unreliable witness (I was!).


Things like that aren't rare for me. It sucks, and early in my life it caused me to simply lie a lot. People almost always thought I was 'up to something' or 'not telling the true', so I would just go with it. I eventually learned the value of consistent honesty, but I am treated the same regardless.

It goes without saying that this being in my head during every single personal encounter causes me even more anxiety and unsuredness about my responses to someone.

edit: I noticed I actually started rocking back and forth and itching my head randomly while writing this post... bleh.

veb 1 day ago 3 replies      
I grew up very deaf. I went to mainstream schools, I did everything everyone else would do... except hear much at all. I wore hearing aids which helped somewhat, but that just makes all that jumbled noise louder, which isn't that helpful.

I was deaf since birth. So at a very early age I picked up body-language, micro-expressions and of course lip-reading which were rather an integral way for me to communicate!

> "The problem is the huge variety of human behaviour there is no universal dictionary of body language"

Um. Yes there is. Everyone uses body-language. Everyone uses their mouth, their eyes and their hands. Take in sign language. While it's not the same in every country, someone fluent in any sign language can understand BSL (Brazil Sign Language) or NZSL (New Zealand...), ASL etc. Why? Because sign language is the most literal thing you can think of. If I look at someone and point to them, then point to someone else, what do you suppose that means? The only issue is local dialect/slang which is easy enough to figure out.

I'd like this BBC article to try this on deaf people and see what the results would be. It would be extremely different. Even for people who just wear hearing aids: a frown, does not mean anger... it means they're trying to understand you. If that person misheard a previous question, but then didn't mishear it the second time then... are they lying? No.

For myself in particular, when I was trying to have conversation with people I had a few difficulties. For this, think of dyslexia, say the brains language processor. For some people with dyslexia an example sentence could look like: "I ___ to ___ shop ___ the ______ ____ ___ car". It's exactly the same for someone who is deaf. However, they need to be working that language processor in their head 300% capacity. Not only are you lip-reading, using sound from your hearing aids, you're factoring in context, location, the person talking to you, body-language and so on. So a deaf person, will then fill in those blanks in my above example and hope they got it right. Except, by that stage, more has been said and you're now trying to remember what was said just a few minutes ago. Then you're defeated.

However, if you watched my body language in ann airport you'd probably shoot me or whatever customs does. I'd be the ideal 'liar' that this BBC article refers to.

Since I got my cochlear implant, (I jumped from 4% hearing to something like 80% upwards) my world has grown incredibly. Not only do I have my previous skills, but I can now add verbal input into my once stressed language processor. It's incredible what I can pick up on. Now that I have that extra sense/input, I find that I can tell whether someone is not being truthful or honest. Another poster here said that "give them enough rope to hang themselves with" and that's very true. Someone rambling? Watch their hands. Someone straight to the point, confident, and uses no body language -- very confident of themselves. So simply throw them off. Does their attitude change? If it does, what does that mean? Context comes into play here, and customs simply don't have the time. Nor will Police.

Someone trying to explain the minute details of their drive to work, watch their eyes and see where they go (looks you in the eye, wall, phone?). Then stop. Who exactly remembers details that they've got no reason to remember? So they'll tell the short version, 'cos they have done it 1,000 times. Then if you're probed such as this article says... you'll end up getting anxious, and contradict yourself. "oh, maybe I did take Stuart Street...".

I am a firm believer that body language is really a good way to determine language nuances, even in different languages. It works. I've been friends with people who didn't know English, but I could communicate with them effectively enough. Giving someone a few weeks of body language training, is going to do squat. Getting experts, again I'm not sure -- have they ever had to rely on it? Perhaps they should wear headphones with whitenoise and interrogate people, with someone who is listening -- and compare notes.

I kind of feel like writing a blog post to refute this article, with proper examples etc. Would anyone be interested?

I apologise if I sound disjointed it's 3am in NZ right now, and I just had the need to go "no this is not quite right".

P.S. When I went to Singapore, a customs person glared at me and nodded to the guy with the gun and so I smiled and I said, "Hi! I hope you haven't had a horrible night so far -- hopefully my documentation is in order and you'll not have to deal with boring stuff!" and she went from >:{ to :-) and nodded to the gun guy walking behind me, who turned around back to his spot. I got all that from a split second glance. It's actually even easier for me now with my implant to do this sort of thing in case actual spoken communication is required.

EDIT: As per article, it is common sense -- but you need to know someone well enough to take judgement, which these guys have no time for. Speaking for myself, I learned over a long period of time to do that as quick as possible. Otherwise, I'd have been left to fail.

tbbreener 1 day ago 0 replies      
Crossing into the US from Canada, its seems that boarder officials have always asked those type of questions.
venomsnake 1 day ago 0 replies      
TL:DR - mostly listen and give them enough rope to hang themselves.
joe_the_user 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The whole procedure seems to hinge on catching some people assigned to engage in a naive effort at deception - people who have constructed a story from whole cloth. It seems likely that anyone attempted a sophisticated act of deception wouldn't invent a story but rather take their true experiences and rearrange them to fill holes where things they wouldn't describe are, giving them an unlimited number of true details to recite. Spending some time on learning the rearrangement would give someone a stronger grasp of their supposed itinerary than the average person has of their actual itinerary.

Which is to say this probably catches confused people and people hiding harmless but embarrassing facts but probably isn't useful against "determined evil doers".

dsfyu404ed 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Good lies are mostly truths...
pm24601 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Can an informed liar counter this technique?

It would be really cool if the liars were rehearsed in the technique.

jqm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cops have been doing something like this for a long time. Most times I have gotten pulled over for simple speeding there is always a question about where I'm going, where I'm coming from and sometimes a few more "casual" questions as well. And I'm not even suspicious looking.

I also wondered why where I was coming from had any relevance to the speed I was currently driving but always sort of figured it was some kind of fishing technique.

beachstartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
i lie every time i go on vacation by myself. after having to explain myself one time for absolutely no reason, now i just don't even bother. apparently traveling alone for pleasure is highly suspicious.

i tell them i'm traveling on business, or act vaguely rude to the border agent with very curt responses. apparently they're good at filtering the real liars because i've never been hassled since.

enesunal 1 day ago 0 replies      
India's Forgotten Stepwells archdaily.com
291 points by juanplusjuan  1 day ago   34 comments top 13
qCOVET 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks op for the link .. great pictures!

India's historical legacy is absolutely breath taking. From the beautiful palaces in Jaipur, to the ultimate gift of Love in Agra, India's rich heritage tells stories of architectural break throughs, scientific explorations, mathematical discoveries and heart wrenching sagas of love.

I used to live in India in early 1990s and I can't wait to go back and visit this beautiful land of kind and generous people, where Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christians are united by the fabric of 'Jai Hind' and where the whole nation comes to a stand still when a game of cricket is being played...lol

When I look at these architectural gems, I wonder how it might have been when it was busy with life. I am sure these structures served as focal points of communities and unfortunately now lie in absolute ruins of dilapidation and neglect.

roel_v 1 day ago 1 reply      
Any construction engineers here? How would one go about building something like this? Do you have to dig a hole big enough to build the whole thing in, then re-fill the sides with sand? Is it possible to gradually go deeper, i.e. build a level under an existing level, or do you have to wait for the dry season and then rush to get it completed before the lowest levels are flooded come the next wet season? That seems impossible, given the size of some of these things.

I'm wondering because I'd like to build a wine cellar similar in concept to these things (a spiraling staircase with an entrance from above only), but I want to get some insight into building methods before inviting contractors. (for anyone who like underground structures, see www.spiralcellars.co.uk ).

Turing_Machine 1 day ago 3 replies      
Nice architecture, but man, those things must've been a public health nightmare. Anything that got tracked in on anyone's feet when the water was low would have eventually have wound up in the water supply when the level increased.
akshayB 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have visited many of the places mentioned in the article. In terms of architecture they are beautiful but now all the places are in bad shape. The government and local population make no interest in saving the history.
sksk 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are very beautiful when dry. However, navigating these steps when there is water is not easy -- they get very slippery when the water level goes down but algae is still present in the supposedly drier steps. A cylindrical design where the steps go around the well with sealable openings may provide similar benefit with little maintenance overhead.
Camillo 1 day ago 3 replies      
They may have been forgotten by tourism, but not by videogame level design.
mirimir 1 day ago 0 replies      
OK, so a hole with steps is great when numerous people must walk down to the water level. But keeping junk out, while letting people in, is a hard problem. As historic places, they of course ought to be maintained. But today, deep cisterns with pumps make much more sense. Or maybe better, groundwater recharge, because you get natural filtration.
arihant 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I visited one of these in Agra last Fall, I assumed it to be either a bath or an aquarium to keep exotic animals. Some had so many tiny windows and grills, I thought they might be designed to use as laundry places. It's interesting that all of these were simply wells.
lpgauth 1 day ago 0 replies      
How timely! I'm currently visiting India and noticed some stairs to nowhere yesterday. That's most likely what is was :)
ngoel36 1 day ago 0 replies      
I took some friends on a sightseeing tour of the country last Fall - one of the most memorable sights was Chand Baori (Abhaneri), about 2/3 of the way between Agra and Jaipur. The place was absolutely stunning, and it had maybe 3 visitors in the two hours while we were there.

It can only be stopped at if traveling by car, and while it's a tad more treacherous than plane/train, it's the only way I'll travel between the two cities if I have the time. You'll get to experience some amazing scenery along the way, and it cost no more than $100 for the journey in a large A/C car!

shabinesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks OP! I was at the Adalaj step well in Gujarat couple of months back, Its amazing to see these structure's usefulness to the common people and beautiful carvings. Inside the step well the temperature is very cool like an AC despite the burning ~43 deg Celsius outside.
arcb 1 day ago 1 reply      
xenadu02 1 day ago 2 replies      
Public defender: its impossible for me to do a good job representing my clients washingtonpost.com
231 points by ikeboy  2 days ago   116 comments top 14
axxl 1 day ago 6 replies      
> Ive been asked by my family members, my friends and my hairdresser why I represent criminals.

That's the most sad part of this article to me. Many people have lost innocent-until-proven-guilty in their minds. Tina has a good response in the article:

> The answer is that I, and other public defenders, dont represent criminals. We represent poor people who are facing criminal charges charges on which they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. We represent members of our communities who have a right to real and meaningful legal representation, even if they are poor.

aadraple 1 day ago 4 replies      
The justice system is deeply flawed but technology can help repair it.

Let me explain.

Legal work can be split up into two buckets process based work and advisory work.

The advisory work revolves around analysis, comparison and collaboration distinctly human (for now) tasks.

The bulk of legal work however is process based, which is repetitive, routine, administrative and could actually be done through the use of machine learning and AI. Examples of process-based work are document review and legal research. Document review is when parties to a case sort through and analyze the documents in their possession to determine if they are relevant to the case at hand. Legal research is the process of identifying and retrieving the necessary information lawyers need to support legal decision-making.

If LegalTech was to do the lions share of a public defender's process based legal work, they would be able to focus their advisory work. This would allow a public defender to not only to defend more individuals but most importantly, to provide proper legal help to everyone they are defending.

The inequalities and problems in the justice system could be seriously helped/fixed with better adoption and implementation of technology. The problem is that tech must be embraced not just by individual lawyers and defenders who it would help the most, but also by the decision makers themselves, government agencies/law firms, who have the final say on whether to bring tech into their organizations.

The good news is that there are strides being made towards bringing in tech to augment lawyers capabilities with technology, the bad news is that no speed is fast enough as there are a ton of people who require proper legal representation right now that are missing out.

adanto6840 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why isn't it legally mandated that the budgets for the District Attorney's office must be less than or equal to the budget for the Public Defender's?

I'm sure there are valid reasons and what I'm suggesting may be unrealistic, but it sure seems like it'd nearly guarantee that we're upholding the intent of the Constitution if we did that, eh?

nickalewis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kind of Off-Topic, but I emailed Tina immediately upon reading this last week. It really moved me. I'd like to chat with any lawyers working as Public Defenders, pro bono or otherwise, to get a better idea of the day to day challenges they have with managing case load and communicating with clients. Things technoloy could help with. Does anyone know a good place/community/group to join?

I ask because myself, friends, and close family have all had experience with a Public defenders office at some point, the article is spot on about many clients being poor, assumed guilty, and lacking resources. I'm currently helping families navigate the criminal justice system with a company I started , but it's been on my head (and heart) to begin looking at providing resources to PD offices as well, as it's so important that these cases, particular low-level and drug offenses, are handled efficiently. I would love to get a better idea of the day-to-day challenges faced by an active public defender.

Also if anyone is interested in a amazing documentary about the courage and dedication PD's have check out Gideon's Army: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt2179053/. I think it's on Netflix.

jordanpg 1 day ago 3 replies      
That public defenders have scarce resources to do their job is about as surprising as the fact that people living in poverty don't invest in the stock market.

> My clients, like the millions of other people in the United States who are currently represented by public defenders, deserve better.

The poor are massively underserved, disenfranchised, disrespected, demoralized and more in this country -- no doubt about it.

Unfortunately, the unfair justice system is step 1000 in a chain of events with powerful institutional momentum.

We cannot even begin to address this without addressing economic disparity first.

janesvilleseo 1 day ago 3 replies      
Slightly OT: I wonder what will happen when marijuna becomes legal across the nation and body cameras are more widely used? Will there be a reduction in overall prison population, will people get better representation due to video evidence, will there be less bad apple cops? All of these may become true to varying degrees. It will be interesting to see how we as a society handle these issues in the future.
chrismcb 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"At that point, he realized that the client had never been served to appear for the court date on which he allegedly jumped bail."Why is it the public defender had to notice that? Why didn't someone else notice, why was he even arrested in the first place? There are more problems with the system...
rectang 1 day ago 1 reply      
But if we didn't convict the innocent, public prosecutors couldn't exhort the public into voting them back into office on the basis of an absurdly high conviction rate!
deckar01 1 day ago 0 replies      
> When people ask how to push back against police misconduct, how to decrease the costs of mass incarceration and how to ensure fairer treatment of our nations most disenfranchised citizens, part of the answer lies in fully funding public defenders offices and enabling us to represent our clients in a meaningful manner.

If the justice system is a funnel, these public defenders are at the very bottom. Adequate funding may relieve pressure, but the long term solution is a better filter at the very top. One solution: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9802861

studentrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is infuriating to hear that those who have stood up for the poor feel they are not able to do their best.

I hope some improvements can be made as a result of this excellent article!

a3n 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Our office represents 85 percent of the people charged with crimes in Orleans Parish but has an annual budget about a third the size of the district attorneys.

Clearly the state has weighted things for maximum convictions.

Shouldn't public defenders have exactly the same budget as prosecutors?

EDIT: I meant budget per case.

Zigurd 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you want a shock, get on a jury. If you are lucky, one other jury member might require more proof than a cop's say-so.
PhasmaFelis 1 day ago 0 replies      
A close friend of mine is a public defender, and gave me some disturbing stats.

According to the American Bar Association, it is unethical for a defense lawyer to take more than 400 cases a year; 350 if dealing with juvenile cases; three if they're capital (death-penalty) cases. Every PD my friend knows regularly goes double those limits, because they have no choice and the states aren't interested in upholding the ABA's limits.

jakobdabo 1 day ago 4 replies      
Raspberry Pi touch display raspberrypi.org
259 points by benn_88  7 hours ago   104 comments top 23
stuaxo 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Seeing that made me feel really nostalgic for gnome 2 and the simple interface it had.
omnibrain 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm dreaming of general availability of touch enabled e-paper/e-ink displays.Not just for the Raspberry Pi, but especially with it I would be one step closer to my always-on home dashboard.
microman 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I use RPis for bespoke installations for clients. One of the problems has been offering an easy way to make adjustments to the apps the RPi is running without a keyboard/mouse/monitor setup or having to SSH in. This is a great way to offer the ability to make changes. Looking forward to trying one out
tudorw 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Before shooting this down as expensive can we stick to comparing like with like, the device is intended to have a long life span so educators can build quality teaching resources based on the platform.
veli_joza 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Even though most people will use RPi as headless server or connect it to TV, it is good to have a decent "default" display option that works out of the box. The display looks very elegant in provided photos. It should be a great choice for hobby projects.
dharma1 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know why Android devices don't video inputs, or even aftermarket way of getting video in cheaply? They would be super useful as small screens for various applications
HNcow 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of people are comparing this to just buying an Android tablet and saying it doesn't make sense. You're probably right :)! The Pi has so many more use cases outside of just typical Android use however that this product does make sense for.

My example is that you can rig the Pi to work with your own Receiver as a wifi flac player with this device: https://www.hifiberry.com/. You have to control it over wi-fi, but having a console that I can go up to and interact with will be awesome. Also will be great for people like my Father-in-law, I wanted to build him a device that has all 60s/70s/80s rock for christmas, but I didn't want to have to set-up a wifi router and get a device for him just to control it.

antouank 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Could you possibly buy only the connecting PCB module, and use a touch screen from a bricked mobile phone or tablet? Many of those lying around...
mrmondo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Was excited until I saw the resolution - 800x600 will struggle to view most websites, given the resolution it seems rather expensive for $60.
nakedrobot2 6 hours ago 2 replies      
this seems expensive, considering you can buy a whole android tablet for this price.
andyjohnson0 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Doesn't seen to be in stock yet at RS or Farnell in the UK.
askinakhan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
How about we use the touch display with the raspberry Pi and a windup mechanism to charge an added battery pack then start a charity to distribute these to developing countries.
callum85 5 hours ago 5 replies      
This is disappointing. This screen is 7" at 800x480, so its sharpness is about 133 PPI (pixels per inch).

For comparison, my original Android G1 (several years ago) was 180 PPI, and it looked shit.

This is $60 plus taxes and shipping. I just found a 7-inch tablet for 28 ($43.10) on Amazon (plus a camera and RAM and stuff). Including taxes and shipping. Why is this so expensive?

jsingleton 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone know if the mouse signals from the touch input go over the DSI connection? Or if you need to plug in a USB cable? It's not clear from the post.
rhapsodyv 3 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I miss in default raspberry pi is battery support. Today I just use the filesystem in RO.
yuumei 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like there are a few ICs on the adapter board. I wonder if that means other screens could be hacked in and if the DSI connection is going to be a binary blob.
IlPeach 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Although the resolution might not be the best, this looks like a nice monitor for a POS system!
mike-cardwell 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I can't see an on/off button
jokoon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish someday they will make their own raspberry terminals.
bengale 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone know about using it with Windows 10 IoT?
elcct 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Microservices without the Servers amazon.com
269 points by alexbilbie  2 days ago   130 comments top 22
baconmania 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is Amazon's wet dream. Your app isn't an app at all, it's just a collection of configs on the AWS Console. When and if the time comes to migrate off of AWS, you realize you don't actually have an app to migrate.
paulspringett 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interesting that the article talks about load tests but omits any results.

I was trying out a Gateway API + Lambda + DynamoDB setup in the hope that it would be a highly scalable data capture solution.

Sadly the marketing doesn't match the reality. The performance both in terms of reqs/sec and response time were pretty poor.

At 20 reqs/sec - no errors and majority of response times around 300ms

At 45 reqs/sec - 40% of responses took more than 1200ms, min request time was ~350ms

At 50 reqs/sec - v slow response times, lots of SSL handshake timeout errors. I think requests were throttled by Lambda but I would expect a 429 response as per the docs rather than SSL errors.

My hope was that Lambda would spin up more functions as demand increased, but if you read the FAQs carefully it looks as though there are default limits. You can ask these to be changed but that doesn't make scaling very realtime.

raspasov 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see a lot of people disagreeing with the overall direction of "less servers, more services". I totally get it, I used to be one of those people, but I think the shift to "less hassle development" is inevitable.

5 years ago people used to debate whether we should use a virtualized server vs. a physical one. You still can see similar discussions but rarely - we all have more or less agreed that using AWS/Rackspace/etc. is good for a business in majority of use cases.

I think 5 years from now we'll still be debating servers vs. services, but the prevailing wisdom will be that "services" have won.

xchaotic 2 days ago 2 replies      
It is pretty cool but not really serverless, you are still handling http requests via Amazon API gateway and in general you are relying and paying for quite a lot of Amazon services.Not sure how much better this approach is to serving image magic via PHP for example, it would be good to see some numbers.
manigandham 2 days ago 4 replies      
Are servers really that hard to manage these days? This seems like way more work and pretty limited in what it can really do, especially compared to a few lines of code in any decent web framework that can perform a lot faster.
daviding 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm playing with these exact things now and it is very enjoyable so far.

My main worry is not on the technical side but on how things are charged for. If I build something that starts to get used I am covered in terms of scalability, but not in a way that protects me from 'cost scalability' so to speak. I know I can set up billing alerts and hit a big 'shutdown' button in response to high load, but what I don't think I can do is throttle these services based on the money I want to budget/spend. With my own services I have a hard cost limit, with a hard scalability limit, or rather I just accept that my response times will go down or fail once I've allocated all I can afford.

If there something for AWS in terms of 'cost throttling'? It may be a gap in their services, especially for people want to build things that might get traction?

pea 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great to see Lambda stepping up their serverless game. We're big fans of this approach and are hacking on something similar to this at StackHut[1], but:

* Mostly OSS to avoid lock-in

* Git integration

* Full stack specification (OS, dependencies, etc.)

* Python/ES6 support (Ruby and PHP coming)

* Client libs so you can call your functions 'natively' in other languages.

It would be awesome to hear what people would like us to build for them. Here is a blog-post on how to build a PDF -> image converter: http://blog.stackhut.com/it-was-meant-to-be/

[1] https://stackhut.com

patsplat 2 days ago 1 reply      
The current problem with this architecture is the network cannot be used as a security layer. Databases, search engines, etc need ports opened to the public rather than to selected servers.
tw04 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome, right up until you need a feature they don't want to offer, or they decide to sunset a feature you're the only one using, and you have absolutely 0 control over it.
cdnsteve 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lamda does not work inside a vpc nor can it connect to one. You cannot use RDS period. This severly limits options currently available from a database and security perspective.
zkhalique 1 day ago 0 replies      
I came here expecting to read about "distributed computing in the peer to peer network" and instead found a how-to for "servers-as-a-service" from Amazon.

Check this out instead:


amirmc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Folks interested in this might like to know that ContainerCon also had a session on Containers and Unikernels. http://sched.co/3YUJ

A write up and audio from that session is also available.


droithomme 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article only makes sense if you don't know what servers are, and believe "the cloud" doesn't use them.
loafoe 1 day ago 1 reply      
Beware, link-bait! Title should really be "Microservices without non-Amazon Services", which if you remove the double negate really says "Microservices with Amazon Services", which is well.. not that interesting IMO. I'd rather write against CloudFoundry which abstract away AWS.
seiji 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Microservices without the Servers: the Uberization of IaaS as PaaS for SaaS"

Like when you say you have no carbon footprint because you don't own a car, even though you call a taxi every time you want to go somewhere?

Are microservices different from SOA? Or is it just a more modern, streamlined buzzword?

You say "microservices," but all I see is "omg, you realize inter-node latency isn't a trivial component to ignore when building interactive services, right?"

cptnbob 2 days ago 5 replies      
Too much vendor lock in. Will keep my VMs thanks.
balls187 1 day ago 0 replies      
I built http://vat.landedcost.avalara.com/ using this same architecture pattern.

The site is served up via S3, and the back-end logic is a Lambda module that wraps a SOAP API.

jontro 1 day ago 1 reply      
I made a pretty cool lambda this week converting using mandrill inbound email api, processing this through lambda, then posting it to my redmine docker server. After a lot of fiddling (lambdas doesnt support x-www-form-urlencoded) it now works great.
drinchev 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was thinking... How can you use server less webapp with SEO-friendly dynamic url structure, e.g. Ecommerce, social network, etc. does anyone have an idea on that?
sandGorgon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is there a particular reason why Amazon chose JavaScript? I'm seeing more and more PAAS services going nodejs first/only and am wondering if there's an underlying reason.
jacques_chester 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's how I deploy code, without having to modify it:

 cf push myapp
It figures out the language/runtime I'm using (Java, Ruby, Go, NodeJS, PHP), builds the code with a buildpack, then hands it off to a cloud controller which places it in a container. My code gets wired to traffic routing, log collection and injected services. I can deploy a 600Mb Java blockbuster using 8Gb of RAM per instance or I can push a 400kb Go app that needs 8Mb of RAM per instance.

I don't need to read special documentation, I don't need special Java annotations.

I just push. And it just works.

I'm talking about Cloud Foundry. It runs on AWS. And vSphere. And OpenStack. It's opensource and doesn't tie you to a single vendor or cloud forever.

I worked on it for a while, in the buildpacks team, so I'm a one-eyed fan.

Seriously: why are we still talking about devops? It's a solved problem. Use Heroku. Install Cloud Foundry. Install OpenShift. And get back to focusing on user value, not tinkering.

Disclaimer: I work for Pivotal Labs, part of Pivotal, which donates the largest amount of engineering effort on Cloud Foundry (followed by IBM).

hackaflocka 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a misleading title. Managed cloud services run on servers. There has to be a better title. For a moment I thought they were proposing P2P hosting.
Maybe its time to talk about a new Linux Display Driver Model yosoygames.com.ar
220 points by epsylon  2 days ago   65 comments top 15
doesnotmatter 2 days ago 3 replies      
Yea, that's cute, except that DRM can handle pretty much all of it. You can split hairs and complain about GPU scheduling which is inherently rather difficult because scheduling at the command queue level is problem very much alike the halting problem. The real issue isn't that we don't have the pieces we need but rather that we can't get all the players to agree on using the same ones. On Windows you have one entity (Microsoft) that can post WLK and unless you pass it you won't be certified and on GNU/Linux "a working driver" can be anything from "not catching on fire on boot" through "actually brings up display" to "oh, hey a textured triangle!".And I get it, everyone is frustrated because ultimately displaying a bunch of pixels, seems trivial, that is, until you mix in politics. You have NVIDIA, AMD, Intel and the community at large pulling all in different directions. With GNU/Linux graphics support having marginal effect on the bottom line there's little incentive to deal with it. And you'd still miss a controlling entity that could validate that "works on Linux" means anything but "compiles with some random kernel release".

Everyone who thinks that writing great graphics drivers can be a spare time activity is delusional. The fact that we have Android with Gralloc (which in comparison to DRM is, well, a joke), Ubuntu with Mir, others trying out Wayland and folks still stuck on X11 makes this all so much more complicated than it needs to be (and SteamOS is rather terrible in this regard too, which is a shame because Valve is trying to do the right thing with Vulkan but SteamOS is just not a well put together distro, at least right now). It's just not a driver model problem, it's the politics of it all. Outside of Google adopting DRM instead of Gralloc (or Gralloc getting all of the features on DRM and effectively becoming DRM and replacing it on the desktop) there's probably little chance of unifying all the drivers under one coherent umbrella.

thrownaway2424 2 days ago 3 replies      
The thing about being able to read other process memory under Linux has always driven me nuts. Linux is fairly secure _except_ for this one giant gaping hole that nobody mentions.
tfranco 2 days ago 2 replies      
Still remember the days where one had to compile the kernel to enable sound in doom. The fact that most hardware is supported today is a blessing.

And agree with the author. X11 has aging issues.

XorNot 2 days ago 2 replies      
How much of the compositor problems will be fixed by Wayland? I know a big goal of Wayland is to address tearing and corruption.
theodorejb 2 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone else has been getting the "Bandwidth Limit Exceeded" error when attempting to access the page, here's a link to Google's cached copy:


ryanmarsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was time to talk about a new Linux display driver model 15 years ago. 10 years ago I gave up on Linux for this reason and switched to OSX
pant 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am getting this error

"Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later."

gkop 2 days ago 0 replies      
I ran into issue 3) and a variation of 4) recently trying to accomplish what should be a pedestrian task: running Xvfb on Heroku. X11 is a pain in the ass to package, I spent a day on it and gave up.
RX14 2 days ago 2 replies      
rootlocus 2 days ago 0 replies      
lololololololol 2 days ago 0 replies      
yarrel 2 days ago 0 replies      
nikanj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Animats 2 days ago 2 replies      
stevebmark 2 days ago 1 reply      
SICP Distilled: An idiosyncratic tour of SICP in Clojure sicpdistilled.com
241 points by jboynyc  1 day ago   18 comments top 6
fu86 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was a Kickstarter a year ago (i baked too): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1751759988/sicp-distill...

Unfortunately the author still not be able to fullfill the goals :/ So, bookmark this and visit it in a year or two again.

throwaway76411 1 day ago 3 replies      
I feel very uneasy about this project.

SICP is a classic text, and although it is old, it has not aged. I wonder if this is a sign of a stagnation in the field of computing, that as the machines we use become exponentially more powerful, we still know very little about how to use them. In any case, SICP is still an excellent introduction to computing and does not need to be updated just yet.

The name "SICP Distilled" feels very misleading. The programming language has been changed, in what I assume was an attempt to be more trendy, and the content has been changed to the point that it only superficially resembles the original text. There is no better language to explain the concepts of SICP than Scheme, and it appears the author understands this, as he had to remove sections of the text to compensate for Clojure's unsuitability. It appears that he changed or removed a large portion of the text, in fact, and added in their place new ideas which are arguably unrelated to the spirit of the original book. Perhaps it is merely the name "SICP Distilled" that makes me apprehensive, and I would be happy if it was marketed as something completely unrelated, with only a nod to SICP as its inspiration. However, it feels wrong as it is.

Peter Norvig wrote that SICP "is a very personal message that works only if the reader is at heart a computer scientist"[1] It is entirely possible that this project will bring some of the most important ideas of SICP to those who do not fit that description. But is that a goal we should be striving to achieve? This question makes me think back to a portion of the quote, on the very first page of SICP, by Alan Perlis: "Above all, I hope we don't become missionaries. Don't feel as if you're Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don't feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands."[2]

[1] http://www.amazon.com/review/R403HR4VL71K8/[2] https://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book-Z-H-3.html

k_bx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is awesome! One thing would be really awesome if examples would be editable and you could evaluate them via ClojureScript somehow, that would make a huge advantage I think.
keyan 1 day ago 2 replies      
"To use an analogy, if SICP were about automobiles, it would be for the person who wants to know how cars work, how they are built, and how one might design fuel-efficient, safe, reliable vehicles for the 21st century."

On that note can anyone recommend SICP-equivalents for automotive, locomotive and aerospace engineering?

kephra 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is the sense in teaching SICP in a language that has no tail optimization? McEval would run straight into the wall.
lgrapenthin 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Excercise 1.5 needs fix, def form is is invalid
Alda: A music programming language daveyarwood.github.io
268 points by daveyarwood  2 days ago   73 comments top 23
zebproj 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've had a lot of experience with various musical languages (ChucK, Csound, Supercollider, Max/MSP, PD, Faust etc.) I've even designed a few music languages for myself. For what it's worth, I did go to a music school and graduated with a bachelors degree in music, with a strong focus in computer music composition.

In the case of Alda, I'm a little underwhelmed. To be fair, it seems that the author of this software has done a good job meeting his goals. The syntax does look quite intuitive, basing it off of Lilypond syntax was a good choice IMO. I wouldn't call it a programming lanuage, and it can't do everything I want, but it seems to fit certain types of music quite well. Here is my big issue:

>In the near future, Aldas scope will be expanded to include sounds synthesized from basic waveforms, samples loaded from sound files, and perhaps other forms of synthesis.

I don't want to say Alda sounds "bad", because soundfonts, samples, and basic waveforms have their place for certain styles of music, but it is certainly quite limiting. Considering that there are massive books written about the "perhaps other forms of synthesis", it doesn't seem like sound itself to be too big a focus.

From what I'm reading, Alda is essentially a MIDI file generator. It doesn't actually produce music, rather, it sends MIDI instructions for how to play music somewhere and leaves it up some other program to make the sounds. All of the other music languages I've mentioned can actually make music internally.

Have you ever considered using other music languages with Alda. Overtone is just Supercollider + Clojure, so I'm sure you do something similar. I imagine it would be pretty trivial to get Alda to write a Csound score, since it's basically just a text table. PD has libpd, which I've had limited success with. I might as well mention my project Soundpipe as a possible DSP engine as well: www.github.com/PaulBatchelor/Soundpipe.git

todd8 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not a musician of any kind, but I wanted to congratulate the creator of Alda. I believe that (almost) everyone on Hacker News admires and respects those who make interesting projects. We are a community of hackers that are interested in reading about projects like yours. I see you just created your HN account. Congratulations!

I found a few of the comments here a bit critical of Alda, but that's just the way Hacker News works. There is such a large, diverse, intelligent, and involved community on Hacker News that there are always people that have keen insights or have already tried out related ideas resulting in useful, or not so useful, observations. Inside the most critical comments may be the best suggestions.

Keep us posted on the development of Alda; here on HN, everyone is cheering you on.

phyzicist 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd like to add to this discussion by mentioning the ChucK music programming language (http://chuck.cs.princeton.edu/). Here is a TedX talk by the co-author, Ge Wang, talking about the joys of digital instruments (http://www.ted.com/talks/ge_wang_the_diy_orchestra_of_the_fu...). In the talk, Ge Wang talks about leading the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, which uses ChucK to program all sorts of crazy digital instruments, and also talks about "Ocarina" iPhone instrument. Cool stuff!
ant6n 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is pretty neat. But I found it quickly getting very hard to read towards the bottom.

I feel if there's a computer interpreting some sort of language, that it should have a built in notion of the circle of fifths -- why should I give the computer absolute notes, when everything in music is so relative. Maybe viewing the notes in terms of do,re,mi would make sense, within the context of being in some key; then jumping to another key (like the dominant, or the minor version of the current key). Computers make computation cheap, which means it should be easy to think in terms of abstractions (that's how musicians think about music, then unwind those abstractions into absolute notes when writing the music down).

But then I look at the current syntax, how it attempts to be extremely compact, and worry that it won't be possible to extend to better abstractions very well.

excel2flow 1 day ago 0 replies      
archimedespi 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is awesome, I've dreamed about something like this for a long time.Cool that it's done in Clojure too :)
lukebennett 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get the thinking behind this, and seems a neat little tool. However, I can't help thinking that the problem the author cites with modern GUIs being too distracting to use is more likely to be solved long term by the likes of StaffPad[0]. This allows you to physically write your notation on a blank digital canvas, meaning the only difference to writing on a blank sheet of physical paper is the tactile contrast of using a stylus rather than a pen/pencil - something that is improving all the time.

[0] http://staffpad.net

gott 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a pretty advanced language, i like it much!!!I want to share what i was experimenting with lately...Its a very easy language to produce music in the form binaural audio, it helps me to sleep with my insomnia.Sbagen is the name and you create .sbg files.http://uazu.net/sbagen/Idoser is based on the same sourceUse this here to create or edit .drg files from or with .sbg files.http://binaural-spot.blogspot.de/2010/08/drg-author-installe...There is also an online converter for .drg files to .sbg and the .sbg files actually show you the source, you can create wav files but they are very large..Use the .sbg files and in case you want this mobile, here is an android version that can handle these kind of files:http://www.normalesup.org/~george/comp/binaural_player/
anderspitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Disable non-error debug messages (https://github.com/alda-lang/alda#logging):

export TIMBRE_LOG_LEVEL=error

alda repl

geoffroy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting ! Not that far from the new Common Lisp based language OMN brought by Opus Modus which was released early this year http://opusmodus.com/omn.html
ww520 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is pretty cool. Good work!

Couple things come to mind.

1. Is there a way to play a selected segment of the music rather than the whole file? While composing, replaying a segment over and over again is quite common. Don't want to start from the beginning every single time.

2. Is there a way to produce music sheet (PDF or PNG) from the source? There would be really useful.

3. Is there a way to format the notes into measures? I know the | is optional and ignored. Can the program do reformat and automatically divides the notes into measures?

4. Emacs integration would be great. Using Emacs to edit. Do ^X^E to execute the program to play the selected segment.

hpvic03 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can this language produce an actual grand staff notation, e.g. in a pdf format?

I'd like to use to write down compositions, but it would need that feature to be useful. If I could write down compositions in Vim that would be killer.

seba_dos1 1 day ago 5 replies      
Is there some "IDE" for it already or is this going to be my new side project? :)
tomcam 1 day ago 0 replies      
New to this stuff, but doesn't abc already cover this same ground? http://abcnotation.com/
rfotino 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks great, I'll definitely be doing some experimenting! Any way to save the output to an audio file when you're done rather than just hearing it through Alda?
akldjlafkjalfk 1 day ago 1 reply      
looks a little bit like lilypond
ademarre 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cool, but the tagline is redundant and awkward:

> a music programming language for musicians

I would suggest dropping one of the musics: "a programming language for musicians".

rebootthesystem 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is neat, of course. Yet, being classically trained myself and a software engineer, both for 30 years, I have yet to find an alternative music notation system that would make me proclaim I would use it.

When I look at a traditional score I see and hear the music in my mind pretty much instantly. There is zero cognitive load, at least at the conscious level. With any kind of text-based notation you have to read text.

Another point, perhaps minor, I think I can say that most of the world does not learn notes as "CDE" but rather "do" "re" "mi". That's certainly how I learned it because I did not study music in the US. Perhaps you've accounted for this?

For me paper and pencil is still the best approach and the most natural experience.

Notation is a powerful tool, in fact it is a tool for thought. I learned this in CS when I studied APL and used the language professionally for nearly ten years. Music very naturally lends itself to a sophisticated notation. I am not sure taking that away can ever produce a better outcome.

Someone more qualified on the subject can probably explain why it is our brains have evolved to be "tuned" for notation. My hypothesis is we evolved powerful image recognition capabilities coupled with high speed classification and semantic processing. We can instantly recognize shapes (predators, something flying towards you, etc.) decide what it is, access a library giving us options and decide how to react. All of that in a very small fraction of a second. Notation benefits from us having developed such capabilities in our brains.

It isn't my intent to criticize this effort. Without attempting new ideas there can never be any progress. Kudos for trying.

I'll end with a question: What would you say is the use case for Alda?

efnx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Besides this being rad - you can see in the Alda repl screeny that the author has earthbound behind it. I love that game.
TazeTSchnitzel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I installed it, but why is my console filled with debug output?
anoncoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Getting "Illegal Argument Exception" when running it.
victor9000 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do you happen to have a demo link so we can hear what it sounds like?
mapcars 1 day ago 0 replies      
well, no sound from scratch on linux, clojure-1.7 and icedtea jvm.
Procedural Dungeon Generation Algorithm gamasutra.com
197 points by ingve  3 days ago   47 comments top 6
karl_gluck 3 days ago 2 replies      
If anyone's interested, there is a Reddit post explaining this and an interactive demo from 2 years ago:



mnem 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a link to the original dungeon generation demo that Phi Dinh posted using this algorithm: http://tinykeep.com/dungen/ Flash required).

He kept an interesting blog about the development of Tiny Keep and added other posts about improvements to the generation mechanics for the dungeons, including this nifty one about generating locked areas that Ben Jones worked on: http://blog.tinykeep.com/2013/09/just-sneaky-quick-update-fr...

carlisle_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really like the idea to just use a physics engine as a means of randomizing the layout. Smart, succinct, and easy to implement.
catpolice 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've been working on an algorithm to make more playable dungeons with included puzzles (e.g. locked door/key quests etc.). The math is there to ensure everything is solvable and relatively interesting (you're guaranteed to run into a puzzle before you find all the elements you need to solve it, for instance) but I got bored when it came time to make an example game to illustrate how it works. I'll pick that back up at some point...
onion2k 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best maze generators I've ever seen was in the ZX Spectrum (Timex in the US) game of Steve Jackson's Warlock of Firetop Mountain[1]. It's brilliant, coming up with a maze full of rooms and doors, with no islands, and relatively well placed monsters and items. And all in 48K of ram. Despite browsing the source code a couple of times I've never figured out how it actually worked.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Warlock_of_Firetop_Mountai...

smlacy 3 days ago 12 replies      
I've seen algorithms that produce results similar to this before, and I find them lacking in any sort of feeling of purposeful design.

Dungeons are (in theory) built by intelligent people for a reason. There needs to be distinct working, eating, socializing, farming areas. There needs to be wider or thinner pathways between areas based on flow of people & goods.

A good starting place to look for amazing looking dungeons is to look at people who play Dwarf Fortress, and how they build & organize their forts, which are essentially dungeons.

Here are a few good links:



etc. just google image search for "dwarf fortress" and you'll see a lot.

Good algorithmic dungeon design should take into account some of these factors, like good city design would.

This week, I resigned from my position at Duke University facebook.com
277 points by Fede_V  2 days ago   132 comments top 39
qCOVET 1 day ago 2 replies      
I absolutely agree with everything in this post. When I was a post doctoral fellow, my principal investigator would publish at least one paper a month. She was celebrated in the department.

(a) The papers were published in journals like - Journal of Green Donkey Testicles, Journal of differentiation of dying mouse ... Journals that I had never heard of, had no impact and every tiny bit of an experiment that was conducted in the lab, would get published, without a full picture.

(b) Much of the data was turned into data by turning everything into being 'statistically significant' . I would do experiments and I would see no freaking difference between control and experimental, yet, through the magic of statistics, she would find the difference. It was lame and depressing.

(c) Above is an isolated example. There are countless smart, diligent and hard working professors who continue to push the boundaries of science (ex. my amazing PhD prof, whom I dearly love and admire). Unfortunately, their time is plagued by writing grants after grants, fighting inter-departmental politics, dealing with Chair of the department on regular basis ... basically stuff that distracts them from having the time to relax, think and innovate.

(d) Commercialization of innovations in schools and universities are butchered by the IP policies, where by the University would take 1/3, the commercialization office would take 1/3 and the poor researcher is left with the rest. This kills innovation + tech commercialization and the desire of a researcher to be an entrepreneur.

hyperion2010 1 day ago 0 replies      
I met and worked with JF for 6 months. I learned an enormous amount working with him. His creativity in experimental design and his approach to answering questions was inspiring. Sadly, the fact that he is leaving academia does not surprise me. People who care more about doing good science than about publishing (those are absolutely NOT the same things) rarely make it in academia. Funding for true basic research has contracted significantly and scientific communities have become incredibly risk averse with regard to who and what they give grants to. The peer review system reviews based on social norms within that field, not on what is actually good science. Finally, training and education are still based on the guild system. People who actually want to advance the state of human knowledge, not just have an academic position, find this environment toxic.

Best of luck to JF in his future endeavours. Academia is the true looser here.

Al-Khwarizmi 1 day ago 3 replies      
The CS field gets a lot of bashing for gravitating a lot around conferences rather than journals. Because, you know, journals are supposed to be the serious venue for the grown-ups. But actually, CS conferences (at least the ones I've published in) have a double-blind review system that feels much fairer than the single-blind in the top journals. Of course it's far from perfect (more often than not the reviewers can guess the affiliation of the authors anyway) but things like almost needing to talk to the editor to publish papers, or the editor using author name as an important acceptance criterion, do not happen AFAIK. In general my experience with reviews has felt much fairer in conferences with double blind system than in the typical journals with editorial boards full of sacred cows. And I don't say that out of spite for rejection, because in fact I've had more rejections in conferences than in journals.

A pity that in my country (Spain) the bureaucratic requirements for funding, tenure, etc. are one-size-fits-all and basically conferences count almost nothing and journals are everything, even if in my particular subfield no one cares about journals. So I end up playing a double game: publishing some papers where I know I should to find the right audience, and others where I am forced to to survive.

alexholehouse 1 day ago 6 replies      
Posts like this (and there are many of them) scare me.

I'm in the latter half of a PhD. I love it. I work insane hours entirely out of my own choice, because it is the most rewarding and enjoyable thing I've ever been a part of.

The idea that I've found something that I love, that is challenging, that (I hope) I'm relatively good at, and that has a definite net positive good for us as a species/society, yet I may not be able to pursue this long term because of the immense challenges facing academia as a whole (catalyzed, I would argue, by tragic lack of funding) is really concerning, on both a personal and a societal level.

plg 1 day ago 5 replies      
"I found scientists to be more preoccupied by their own survival in a very competitive research environment than by the development of a true understanding of the world."

I have found this as well. However it's important to remember that before one can do good work, one has to find funding for the good work. It's a complex problem.

krick 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't really see, what people mean when they "agree" or "disagree" with this article and the likes of it. Aside of expressing his own disappointment the author points out what is wrong with the academic research, that's true. But point out what is wrong, though isn't useless, is a lot easier than suggest (even pretty lousy) better alternative.

It's easy to imagine how everyone should be free to explore whatever he wants in his own free time, with his own money, at his own home lab (although even this isn't true, because currently even the most basic stuff needed for research in chemistry or biology is illegal to freely buy and sell, as it can be used to produce drugs or bombs or because of some other "national security" bullshit). But what the author is talking about isn't his own time and money it's expecting to be provided with all stuff he needs for research and for him to live and prosper. And if someone is about to give you all that, your promise that you'll discover something great eventually isn't really enough for him. Quite understandably so. So ideally he would like to make sure that you, both: won't use all money and lab equipment that's given to you to smoke crack and do nothing; and that you are actually able to discover something great. Which, I guess, even you yourself won't promise, because you don't know.

So, in fact, even with all that bureaucracy we cannot have any guarantees. And author wants for the system not only to work, but to work without putting too much pressure on him and his colleagues. How he imagines that? He doesn't explain clearly enough.

jordanpg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Usually we only hear this from the disgruntled. It is valuable to hear this perspective from someone who perceives themselves as happy and successful.

> because I know how they were obtained.

This is similar to one of the reasons I left graduate school.

I realized that everyone who plays ball and puts in the hours gets a PhD. And I saw incomprehensible postdoc hires. Lots of things didn't even look like significant accomplishments (or even all that hard, and I'm no rockstar).

freshhawk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a sentiment I've heard from a lot of my friends in academia.

I hope the author isn't also similar to those friends of mine in another way: assuming that the marketing job that private industry has done when comparing themselves to academia is true. That things are more rational and productive outside academia. That they won't just enter another game played by chickens with no heads that has slightly different rules. That they won't spend most of their time doing useless bullshit that the system demands they produce even though it does nothing to further the goals they are supposed to be advancing.

I liked the piece, so I do hope the author ends up preferring the different kind of pointless make-work the alternatives provide him.

luckydude 1 day ago 0 replies      
Years ago, like 1999 or so, I chaired a Linux conference.The Usenix people wanted me to fold Linux into Usenix andthought (probably mistakenly) that I could bring those peopleto Usenix.

I said sure on condition: all papers are blind reviewed goingforward. No authors, nothing that could identify the authorsin the papers until they are accepted.

Usenix flat out refused. Which sort of backs up what this guy is saying. Sad state of affairs.

chubot 1 day ago 1 reply      
I feel the same thing in huge companies in which the employees are insulated from market forces. Aren't we supposed to be, like, building stuff that users want? Rather than just trying to get promoted and game the system?

IQ and motivation are independent variables... it's a shame when people with high IQs exert tons of effort in small-minded directions, or just toward fighting each other.

w1ntermute 1 day ago 7 replies      
Another possible (unspoken) reason why Garipy is resigning is presumably that he's been a postdoc[0] for the last 3-4 years[1]. Unfortunately, the nature of modern biomedical research is such that you need an army of researchers to do the mechanical grunt work at the lab bench that leads to papers. This has led to a glut of postdocs, who are underpaid, overworked, and have little hope of ever obtaining a permanent academic position[2]. And even at top universities, industry positions are quite difficult to get without putting time and effort that you don't have to spare into extensive networking[3].

During his postdoc, Garipy's had one second-author publication in Nature Neuroscience[4], which probably wasn't enough to get a tenure-track professorship. If, like the first author on that paper, he had gotten an assistant professorship at a prestigious university[5], he probably wouldn't be airing his dirty laundry. Also note that he is a YouTuber[6] and has a book coming out according to his Twitter profile[7], so he's probably trying to leverage any notoriety he gets from ragequitting his postdoc to jumpstart his career in science journalism.

0: http://today.duke.edu/node/132805

1: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanfrancoisgariepy

2: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/04/glut-postdoc-re...

3: https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/09/02/cambridge-pl...

4: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v16/n2/abs/nn.3287.html

5: https://medicine.yale.edu/neuroscience/people/steve_chang.pr...

6: http://neuro.tv/

7: https://twitter.com/JFGariepy

bane 1 day ago 3 replies      
I keep hearing about how miserable things are in academia and have come to perhaps a surprising conclusion: research and education need to be broken up. I know that there's arguments that the two should stay entangled, and that new research feeds quickly into education blah blah blah. But I personally think that the world is far better off with large, dedicated, quasi-commercial R&D labs and institutions like Xerox-Parc, Bell Labs, Howard Hughes Medical, Battelle, Microsoft Research etc. and that those research labs operate off of a "licensed innovation" model.

It feels like these places are struggling (I might be wrong), but I'd argue for a vast expansion of this system on par with the university system, but without either being burdened by the needs of either one. Offer competitive industry pay and work on demand for commercial and public interest.

A kind of kernel of this already exists, either big National Labs that try to spin out mature research paths into companies (giving the researches a shot at making it big as CEO or CTO of these new companies) or as dedicated commercial R&D firms that get hired to produce product ideas for commercialization. But I think it should be institutionalized in the same way universities are rather than running as independent as they do now. And then universities should get out of the research game altogether.

I don't have real concrete ideas on how this should be done, but it would provide a better career track for smart people.

alexmuro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I work as a researcher in a grant funded lab, I can see where this post is coming from. There is a lot of needless politics in academia, and often the right things are not rewarded. However no matter what set of actions you choose to reward, people will find a way to game that system.

The criticism in this post, while at least partly true, is too cynical to make a difference in any way. Sure, there are a lot of poor and useless papers published and terrible labs in the US University research system, but the search for knowledge is moving undeniably forward under this system.

CSDude 1 day ago 1 reply      
I will give an example how the system is broken. I am a masters student, and my advisor assigns me full reviews without even asking, in the fields that I do not even understand anything a little bit, not even in my area. I review them for him. Some dude's approval to a conference is at my hands. I do not feel in any position to review most of the papers I have been given and talking to my advisor does not help. So, I just accept them all if they do not have major style issues, and that's it.
svisser 1 day ago 1 reply      
Relevant one-page article: "On Write-Only Conferences" - http://www.mit.edu/~irahwan/docs/IEEE-IS_letter2007.pdf

(conferences in exotic locations for which you only need to submit an article to attend)

aflyax 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every single Ph.D. on my data science team has pretty much said the same thing (independently). The way I put it: Academic science is a branch of the entertainment industry in a socialist sub-economy.
sundarurfriend 1 day ago 0 replies      
pfooti 1 day ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I have a PhD and spent five years as an assistant professor. I then went on to take a different job as a lecturer for a few years before leaving academia completely. The general complaint JF raised rings true. In my field (learning sciences), there was a TON of jank publications. The majority of the published work still is stuff that exists solely to increment the author's publication count. The term "least publishable unit" was used unironically.

The focus is flawed. There is still a lot of good work being done in the system, but that work is really only 10% of the work that is done. I had to choose between artificially inflating my pub count and not making tenure. In the end, I decided to walk away - I personally don't have the kind of perseverance necessary for that.

Of course, I now make significantly more money and am actually appreciated by my colleagues (rather than viewed as competition), and still get to contribute real work in the field in a private sector nonprofit instead. And I get to program too (in LS at least it was all publications, the software you created didnt count for anything.)

akulbe 1 day ago 0 replies      
My biggest concern with this is that it devalues education even further.

Many potential/current/former students are questioning the value of higher education.

If you cannot trust the researchers, then how can anything be trusted? If it's just one big good-old-boy system, what's the point?

noelsusman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Something like 90% of people working in academia have pretty much the same opinion. This isn't anything that hasn't been said a thousand times over already.

The real question is how do we solve it? I've seen tons of people complain about the state of academia (myself included), but I have yet to see a workable solution to the problem.

viach 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like it's a good time to start automating scientific research...
mangamadaiyan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I almost did a Ph.D.

Luckily, my prof and I didn't get along too well, and I escaped with just a Master's degree.

To this day, my prof doesn't list me in his page (all other students before and after me are listed, and the lone publication I have with him is listed too).

timtas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Science is in trouble. Before long we'll owe an apology to medieval astrologers and barbers.

Whats wrong with Science(http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/2159154...)

How science goes wrong (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-re...)

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss Here's How. (http://io9.com/i-fooled-millions-into-thinking-chocolate-hel...)

How computer-generated fake papers are flooding academia (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2014/feb/26/...)

Bad Science Study on Gay Marriage Was Fake, Gets Retracted (http://www.zmescience.com/science/bad-science-michael-lacour...)

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/10/03/22885995...)

The Mind of a Con Man (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/diederik-stapels-...)

Why Biomedical Research Has A Reproducibility Problem (http://footnote1.com/why-biomedical-research-has-a-reproduci...)

I could go on but...you know...Google.

tete 1 day ago 0 replies      
xjlin0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cannot agree with him more, on every words from this post. Using just the publication score as the measurement on the scientific research is actually killing the entire field.
fit2rule 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article speaks to me of the most destructive force in our human world: the social collective. It seems that the majority of his ills are sourced directly from the dire circumstances of the mass collective operating on itself in a negative way - that there is something broken in the peer-acceptance process; perhaps it is indeed impossible to advance science without disassociation from the collective reality of all scientists, who - psycho-socially - desire to attain a social goal as an imperative before any kind of natural observation or 'progress' otherwise; i.e. the complaints of the author would be best addressed to nobody in particular; it is the fact of the anonymous-crowd-mass which produces the conditions degrading science, today. There are simply too many social machinations in play. The desire for acceptance at a banal level (grant money), the desire for acclaim at a banal level (peer review), the desire to be heard above the din of the masses, at a most banal level (publication requirements) - all of these banal instincts have accrued much cach in the zeitgeist as reasons for doing things.

tl;dr sometimes you have to shake the sheets if you want to get a good sail on. No great explorer, adventurer, discoverer, scientist, engineer .. ever .. got that way because they followed the processes of the status quo. The fact that many of us must discover, and learn to stomach: life is not special for a majority of people. That includes scientists. It includes people who think they deserve otherwise. If you want to exceed and excel, propel the species forward: beware the collective. It will eat you.

ching_wow_ka 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am somewhat ignorant. What significant achievements does Dawkins hold in his field? All I know is that he's known for trying to convince others of his beliefs.
vonklaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is something thar is echoed all the time and it does not seem to be something limited or confined to academia, whoch makes it all the more unfortunate.
akhilcacharya 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm assuming that he'll be recruited by Google next.
JesperRavn 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone who completed a PhD and knows many people who went on to academic positions, there tend to be three stages for people who come to accept the status quo.

1. A desire to make big breakthroughs in the field.

2. A frustration with the slow progress being made in the field, the apparent inability of the field to produce big breakthroughs, and the proliferation of papers whose net contribution to knowledge is small or zero.

3. An acceptance that the stagnation in the field is (1) partly an artifact of it being hard to recognize progress when it is happening and (2) a consequence of the fundamental nature of the discipline, e.g. all the simple elegant theories have been explored already.

It's not that there are not problems in academia, but most academics (at least in my field) don't consider these to be a major barrier to progress. I was particularly wary of the claim:

I will still publish my book, The Revolutionary Phenotype, which contains an important novel theory on the emergence of life.

Surely a novel theory on the emergence of life would be of great interest in the field? At worst I imagine you would have to dress it up in some mathematical model.

EDIT: I found a chapter from a previous version of the book in progress here: http://themoralsignal.com/TheMoralSignal%20-%20Chapter%201.p... readers can judge for themselves, but it didn't strike me as work that academia would be foolish for ignoring.

kaonashi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems like the inevitable result of forcing scientists to be competitive in an activity which is inherently cooperative.
DrNuke 1 day ago 1 reply      
rch 1 day ago 0 replies      
David Eagleman is a good one, and plays a mean harmonica too.
bobwaycott 1 day ago 0 replies      
This echoes closely (for me) what I experienced as a grad student before ultimately abandoning it.

In 2005, I was pursuing my then-dream of joining the ranks of academia. I was a history & philosophy grad, and my field was 20th-century intellectual and cultural history (so, you know, a whole lot easier than and not at all like the real sciences). I'd grown somewhat tired of the expected vulture-like hovering about what had been the standard historiographical approaches of the past 30 years. Not because I did not find them valuable, insightful, meaningful, or worth continuing. I absolutely did. I continue to find them incredibly insightful. However, it just wasn't quite what I was looking for. I thought I had something better, something nobody was doing at all at that time in the field.

For an entire year, I found myself locked in an endless struggle of presenting my case, arguing my thesis and its philosophical framework and merit, with every member of the department. I couldn't succeed in convincing a single prof to head my committee. Not one. There were long and impassioned debates. They asked a ton of questions, really forced me to dig further into proving the merits and value of the idea, constantly put me on the spot to really flesh out how I was going to support this idea.

At first, I thought I was simply failing to make my case. I could accept that. It drove me to work harder to make my case. I slowly began realizing something else was up when, without fail, every prof hit a point of being no longer interested in hearing my arguments. This was signified--every single time--when they suggested they'd be willing to lead my committee if I would choose a topic that matched their research. They offered to take me on as their RA because I had so thoroughly proven my ability to quickly gain depth and breadth of understanding in a given topic. They even granted me a TA position by the end of the year to sweeten the pot (I'd been attending with no financial assistance at that point, paying the bill myself).

After this happened with the last remaining prof, I finished the semester out, then emailed them all a thanks-but-no-thanks letter. I left the program.

A month later, I received an email from one of the professors. It was a personal heads-up and invitation to attend an upcoming conference the university would be hosting. The keynote speaker just happened to be an expert on a philosopher who featured prominently in inspiring and underpinning my proposed work. The keynote topic was a talk about that philosopher's work, and a musing on how it needed to be included in historiography alongside the analytic categories employed for so long in modern historical scholarship. There was even a light-hearted mention by this prof of how much it sounded exactly like everything I'd been arguing in the department for a year, and how she thought I wouldn't want to miss hearing what an expert had to say on the topic.


EDIT: couple word choices; formatting.

hosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
stefantalpalaru 1 day ago 1 reply      
javert 1 day ago 0 replies      
dang 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's deeply unfair in the case of a non-native speaker: almost no one reaches foreign language proficiency at the level you're implicitly demanding, which is basically perfection.

I don't know if this author is a native speaker but his name suggests he may not be. On HN, you should err on the side of charitability about thisespecially since grammar peeves, though we all have them, are the quintessence of off-topic.

peterwwillis 1 day ago 1 reply      
How Secure Channels Attempted to Intimidate a Critic and Failed Spectacularly popehat.com
252 points by tptacek  3 days ago   26 comments top 10
spudlyo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ms. Murphy's bio page describes her as a "guerilla marketing expert", and perhaps that is what this is. If leveling ridiculous accusations at your critics using obviously fake Twitter accounts is "guerilla marketing" than perhaps I should look into it, because it sounds fun, and I've always wanted to have a Director level title.
RickHull 3 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr - Dee Murphy, Director of Marketing for Secure Channels, created an anonymous twitter account in order to sling mud at at a prominent Secure Channels critic. However, one of Ms. Murphy's tweets from the anonymous account was composed of a screenshot showing her original twitter profile and a browser tab titled "How to take a screenshot on your Mac".
mfoy_ 3 days ago 2 replies      
That screenshot was so outstandingly bad I almost want to believe that someone elaborately staged the screenshot to make a Secure Channel exec look incompetent... but Occam's Razor prevails.
jessaustin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I appreciated the comment on TFA from their former lobbyist. Those creatures rarely crawl out from under cover, but apparently this one is really pissed about not getting paid. I want to give NIST the benefit of the doubt on this one and assume that the "deal" he cites was actually just, "we'll call you, sometime, we promise!"
scrapcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
I almost feel bad for Murphy. This is super embarrassing "icing on the cake" of a situation that shows incompetence in not just technical ability, which I would think could be expected from an executive at such a technically focused startup, but marketing itself- which I would imagine is supposed to be her expertise.
trimtab 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Unbreakable" worked for Oracle Corp, so why not "Secure Channels?" ;-
crashedsnow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Omfg. That Android code sending the email using their gmail account was unbelievable. I'd hate to think "real" security companies have cruft this bad, but...
sp332 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could a mod get rid of the #wsa-endnote-1 at the end of the URL?
kelvin0 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's funny how the Titanic was deemed unsinkable. Every time someone calls their shiney new think 'Un'-something, nature seems to conspire against them :)
at-fates-hands 3 days ago 1 reply      
This should really serve as a lesson for startups on how not get your name out there.

In an industry (infosec) that's built on reputation and experience, you can't just go into it and start running your company like the "Price is Right" and offer all kinds of gimmicks to get people to buy into your product.

The way you win is to humbly hand over your source code to the community, have them pen test it and then graciously accept any advice or flaws they point out. Then work tirelessly to make it better and prove you take the people and the other companies in your space seriously.

Infosec is no joke either and you shouldn't treat the people in the industry like a bunch of idiots. This is a prefect example of a lifelong sales guy, using worn out sales pitches to try and sell his product like an infomercial.

The Mystery of Devil's Kettle Falls mnn.com
165 points by oskenso  4 days ago   89 comments top 18
Animats 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are mine communication devices that can punch a signal through a few hundred meters of solid rock. Here's a simple one.[1] VLF can get through, with enough power, a simple signal, and a smart receiver.[2]

There's been a lot of work on "down-hole communication" for oil and gas drilling. Modern drilling involves com links to the sharp end, with info coming up and commands going down. Some of the techniques work through the drill string, but some are VLF radios.

There are also high-powered ultrasonic pingers, with a range of several kilometers in water.[3]

If you could get info for the first kilometer or two, you'd at least know where to look for the rest of the path.

[1] http://radiolocation.tripod.com/[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010RS004378/full[3] http://www.sonotronics.com/?page_id=96

cossatot 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the record lava tubes can happen in flood basalts; I've been to some at Hell's Half Acre in Idaho, and I'm sure there are others. But these are not like karst-type cave systems; they're much shorter.

It's really unlikely that the water goes anywhere other than the lake. It just might travel through a fracture network and seep out of the lake bottom miles away, but groundwater tends to flow broadly following the topographic slope (driven by the gravitational loading of groundwater surface called the 'hydraulic head') and there typically aren't isolated tunnels where some water can flow unimpeded by regional groundwater flow.

rmason 4 days ago 7 replies      
I'm reading this and wondering why you couldn't build a waterproof beacon? At least by tracking it you could prove that it didn't exit into Lake Superior.



quarterto 4 days ago 5 replies      
Wow. So many armchair geologists, both here and in the comments on TFA. Do you really think people haven't already thought of a dozen reasons why GPS beacons/synthetic DNA/blah blah etc wouldn't work?

Should we get some geologists in to comment on your issue tracker and propose solutions for your bugs?

Ninja edit: https://xkcd.com/793/ applies to programmers, too

mirimir 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've boated the Brule. That is a definite portage ;)

Better photos here: https://roadtrippers.com/stories/revealing-the-mystery-behin...

jamesfisher 4 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone attempted to map the first few hundred meters of the kettle? That might give us a good idea of where to look. Drop a sonar on a very long, strong wire to map out the contours?
simcop2387 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't we block it off for a few months and see if it dries up?
joshontheweb 4 days ago 0 replies      
It could just go down into an underground aquifer, no?
forlorn_hope 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a great place to dump a body...
JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dump radioactive waste in, see where the Geiger counter picks it up?
FranOntanaya 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe they could use radar sounding and a big bag of passive reflectors floating upright.
Shivetya 4 days ago 1 reply      
are there any short life radioactive materials that can be used?
Gravityloss 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why not lower a camera equipped robot with a wire there?
roflchoppa 4 days ago 1 reply      
why not just cut it open and see where it goes?
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
They don't have to dam the whole thing but they could redirect the water going in the kettle to go over the falls on the right, so the hole is free to be explored via winch & harness, or remote camera.
EwanG 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ground penetrating radar?
jqm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Use a long thin cable on a motorized spool. Rig up a waterproof reinforced box with sensors that detect speed and direction (mercury switch type deals?... I don't know but I bet there is something). Hook them up to a board with some storage. Drop the box in and start reeling the cable off. If the cable goes slack the thing has probably stopped. Maybe it's hung up. Pull it back a bit and try again. If it keeps stopping in the same place it's probably all the information possible by this method. Retrieve the box, get the speed/direction information, do some distance calculations and graph it. Ideally the box will go all the way to the exit point and you will have a profile showing where the water ends up. But even if it doesn't, you will have a good idea of direction and depth the water is traveling for a certain distance at least. This will at least make better guesses in the future.
doyoulikeworms 4 days ago 0 replies      
Vega: A Visualization Grammar vega.github.io
190 points by hemapani  2 days ago   24 comments top 14
colordrops 2 days ago 2 replies      
What are the best for D3-based visualization/charting libraries when it comes to being high customizable, styleable, and performant? There are dozens of them, but with some research the most interesting ones seem to be:

* Vega - Talked about in this thread

* nvd3 - Meant to work in similar style as D3, supports extension. Seems popular

* Epoch - Real-time charts are purpose-built to be performant and low-overhead. Limited number of visualization types

* D4- Extends D3 instead of wrapping it. Separation of data from view

* C3js - Easier API. extendable.

* rickshaw - Mainly for time series data. Supports extensions. Works in similar style as D3.

cjhveal 2 days ago 1 reply      
While this looks stellar and having a serializable format is cool too, I am personally not a fan of gigantic configuration files as this.

Being declarative is much better than being imperative and configuration files seem like a natural fit for a declarative system, but they lack expressiveness. They are hard to make generic and lend themselves to repetition and fragility (in my experience).

I'd say that composition wins over configuration. If you provide a domain specific language with a set of useful primitives, users can leverage it to describe what they want with more flexibility and freedom.

For concrete examples within js-land, look at gulp.js[1], connect[2]-style middleware, and JSX[3]. All of them describe their structure with code, in a composable, pluggable, reusable fashion.

That being said, with a robust enough representation like Vega's, I bet you could write code that dynamically builds the final JSON structure.

[1]: http://gulpjs.com/

[2]: https://github.com/senchalabs/connect.

[3]: https://facebook.github.io/jsx/

1wheel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeffery Heer gave a great talk at OpenVisConf earlier this year on the whole vega ecosysthem


ThePhysicist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having worked with many different graph tools and languages (Matlab, Matplotlib, ggplot, gnuplot, Origin, D3, Raphael, Three.js, ...), I strongly believe that declarative languages are the right tool for describing visualizations. This library therefore seems to be a step in the right direction. As some people here already pointed out, pure JSON might not be flexible enough to avoid a lot of repetition for real-world use cases though, but I think it's a good start.

I think what could make this into something really useful would be the addition of special directives. MongoDB is a good example for this, as they have enriched their query language with a special operator syntax (e.g. $in, $all, $or) that allows the user to specify e.g. logical constraints.

Recently I developed a similar descriptive language for describing patterns in source code ASTs, which uses YAML as a default output format and features some regular-expression like operators that make matching of complex patterns containing e.g. repetitions, references and loops possible (for some examples, see http://docs.quantifiedcode.com/patterns/language/index.html).

Personally, I have always preferred YAML over JSON as a serialization language, since it is much more concise, easier to write (after some getting used to) and comes with handy features like anchors/references, which make e.g. self-referencing documents or variable definition much easier.

danso 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very cool project...I haven't yet had a chance to use it in production, but the fact that Winston Chang and Hadley Wickham are using it to render interactive graphics via R...i.e. the ggvis [1] library, i.e. the interactive successor to ggplot2...makes me think that it must be a pretty solid library.

[1] https://github.com/rstudio/ggvis

hliyan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I went about looking for at least a draft level spec. All I could find was: https://uwdata.github.io/vega-lite/spec.json

I love the concept, but since this is presented as a "grammar", it would make sense to provide a specification of it, in addition to the examples.

Great work!

arvindsatya1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi there, I'm part of the team behind Vega and happy to answer any questions you may have!
mindcrime 2 days ago 1 reply      
The unfortunate typo (or mistake, whatever) in the title aside, this looks wicked cool. Now to digest it all and understand how this fits in with something like Zeppelin or IPython.
sudo_bang_bang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having worked with dc.js and D3 for interactive visualizations, I'm eager to try something else like this that could simplify charting. When recharting via an API, a lot of code needs to be written to handle it. With Vega though, at least from first impressions, it seems that all you need to do is pass a payload and you can immediately re-render. There's no need to run it through reducers or unpack and massage the data to get it to fit. I'm looking forward to trying it.
DanBC 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Dozens of people spend thousands of hours and a minor spelling error in the title becomes the primary focus of the conversation.

Primary focus? A few comments mention it; none of them are high on the page, some of them are downvoted.

jmduke 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also worth noting is Vincent (https://vincent.readthedocs.org/en/latest/), a Python API for Vega, which has been my preferred method of Python data visualization for the last while -- it's been de facto deprecated since the author is not planning to rewrite it for Vega 2, but it works great.
fiatjaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
You mean grammar. I thought this was something about a "gamer".
dang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please don't be mean on Hacker News.

We've fixed the typo.

nexact 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit slate.com
236 points by fhinson  3 days ago   236 comments top 28
sandworm101 3 days ago 19 replies      
Forgetting the laws, what sort of people can so casually kill like this? There are basic human instincts not to hurt people. Armies have to train soldiers to ignore these feelings because without training most won't kill even under combat situations. So when I see someone kill so casually I have to believe that they have rehearsed the scenario in their head beforehand. That means a large number of chinese people drive around with a plan in their head covering how to kill should they injure someone. They are mentally prepared at all times to commit murder on demand. That's messed up. It does not speak well of the country or its citizens when they travel abroad.
Xcelerate 3 days ago 5 replies      
I could not finish this article. I have read about and seen a lot of disturbing things, but this bothers me far more than any horror movie or shock film ever could. The situation exposed in this article evidences something really fundamental about human nature: the banality of evil.

That someone could run over a toddler and then reverse back and forth over them just so they only have to pay $50,000 instead of $400,000 well, it's absolutely sickening.

Time and again I'm reminded that most people are really only "good" because it benefits them personally in some way. But the ease with which so many people simply rationalize away all the horrors that mankind commits I suppose that's part of the human genome.

This really depresses me.

tzs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Three questions:

1. The article notes that the monetary cost to the driver for accidentally killing someone is much less than the cost for accidentally disabling someone.

For drivers that do not have much wealth, and who are the sole source of income for their family, I can see how [1] they might decide that the harm to their family from having to pay that higher cost might outweigh the harm from killing a stranger. People tend to value their immediate family very much more than they value strangers.

However, it seems a lot of these cases were people driving expensive luxury cars. For people with the incomes or wealth to afford those cars, is the cost difference enough to actually cause serious hardship for them or their family?

2. How does this work when the pedestrian is a foreigner, such as a tourist or a business traveler?

Do drivers know that (1) these people will have their medical bills taken care of by insurance or the national healthcare systems of their home countries, so there is no need to kill them, and (2) it would really piss off their home country, which would cause severe diplomatic pressure on China to seriously punish the driver?

3. Drivers certainly cannot count on always being able to finish off any pedestrian they hit. Why hasn't an insurance market sprung up to deal with the risk of disabling pedestrians?

[1] Note: "I can see how" is not meant to mean "I approve of". It is observational, not judgmental.

rectang 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded that many land mines are designed to maim rather than kill, maximizing the cost to the enemy by forcing them to care for wounded casualties.
mirimir 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's a similar dynamic in Mexico. Causing injury can mean responsibility for lifetime care. Another factor is Napoleonic law aka presumption of guilt. So one may end up in jail until trial. The third factor is ubiquitous graft. After an accident, the party with the most cash gets to tell the official story. So yes, advice is to flee with plates and registration (if any). But I didn't get that killing victims was commonplace.
jmspring 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not the same, but...an anecdote from when I went through driver's education. This was many moons ago and it was meant tongue in cheek, with a bit of truth -- if you hit a pedestrian to the point they are severely injured, you better hope they don't survive.

Thinking seems to be -- A car versus a pedestrian (or cyclist) unless a glancing blow is going to do a lot of damage to the ped/cyclist. Personal liability could be huge in the case of injury, much more so (potentially) than wrongful death.

We see this commonly in the Bay Area in motorist killing a cyclist, the criminal penalty (if any) is often not as severe as it should be.

(The above said, even when the motorist hits and the ped/cyclist survives, getting justice can be long and involved -- classic case is the Los Gatos/Los Altos business man who severely impacted a cyclist who was permanently injured -- http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_20884491/saratoga-businessman-... )

I don't advocate such, just a story and some bay area experiences I remember.

e40 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very good example of the law of unintended consequences.
argklm 1 day ago 0 replies      
When the state only thinks about money, people will turn into objects. The population will start to see other humans less valuable than their dinner table and will do their best to exploit them. If you go to China you will see beautiful landscapes, the lineage of one of the most advanced cultures and you will see the pain and the loneliness of its inhabitants. The rest of the world didn't cure the infection in time and now has grown to necrosis at the point that sociopathy it's the norm rather than the exception.
kzhahou 3 days ago 0 replies      
The story in the intro doesnt match the well-publicized video of the accident, which is on YouTube. The driver does NOT switch into reverse, and the grandmother does not scream for the driver to stop. So unless there was another toddler run-over by a white vehicle in the same city, the driver just made shit up. WTH???
massysett 3 days ago 0 replies      
The story emphasizes laws on monetary compensation for victims, which I think misses the point entirely. The real reason people are doing this is because they can commit murder and apparently they are not punished for it. If you deliberately run over a living person to kill him, that is murder.
ausjke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everything is about money when the amount is huge, anything else, including killing, comes to the second.

I don't believe anyone enjoys killing there, however when it's tied with huge chunks of money, many of them will choose to kill instead of leaving a disabled human being on wheelchair keeping asking for lifelong financial support. It's indeed similar to the gun-shoot case in USA, either you don't pull the trigger, or you make sure the target is absolutely dead, that explains some victims have lots of gunshots on their body.

The law must be adapted to deal with this.

bohrshaw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a native living in China. After glancing over the article, I don't bother reading it in details. The title sounds ridiculous, but certainly marketable.

I see people here are generally sensible but also emotional. I don't have country level statistics related to these extreme behaviors. But people around me are all very kind and I know many having very high standard of morality. We're constantly chasing for the positive and good.

LiweiZ 3 days ago 0 replies      
People's actions are the reflection of the real laws/rules in their group. And people tend to take advantage of it. Thinking about killing someone would make you lose way less, is it still a normal world? Why didn't those "killers" take equivalent responsibilities? That's the real why.
mgraczyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did anybody watch the last video? It looks like the person with the young boy pushes the boy under the truck. http://www.fzjfw.com/xxzx/aritcle194.html

I'm surprised that wasn't explained in the article.

kelukelugames 3 days ago 3 replies      
As a Chinese immigrant I am always baffled when Americans visit third world countries.
speeder 3 days ago 1 reply      
In Brazil the punishment for murder is lesser than many other crimes, leading to people murdering investigators (or in one particularly infamous case, a mayor murdered two environmental cops that were going to investigate his farm, got convicted, but still got re-elected).

Also firing a gun and not hitting anything also has a harsher punishment than hitting someone, so unless you are a cop that need to draw attention or something, if you need to fire a gun, you need to make sure you will hit someone.

iradik 2 days ago 0 replies      
They don't have car insurance in China?
VarunAgw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please tell me this is not true. How someone can so ruthless? I just can't believe this
Retric 3 days ago 1 reply      
pwthornton 3 days ago 0 replies      
China is apparently a bigger hell hole than I could have ever imagined.
ilaksh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to hear the Chinese perspective.

Also, what penalties do people pay in the US if they accidentally cripple someone?

mikerichards 3 days ago 4 replies      
Holy cow, that's some messed up shit. I've never heard of such a thing. And that they're getting slaps on the wrists if any punishment at all because cops are believing their insane stories.

What a cultural mess.

malkia 3 days ago 7 replies      
I've heard of a similar story, but in a different context. One of the asian airlines (I don't remember whether it was Taiwan, South Korean, etc.) had problems and lots of crashes. Turns out, people were not accustomed of questioning their bosses, and if this boss was your other co-pilot you would've never even try to correct them. I can't find the article, but it went something like "a western professor" goes to the troubled company and fixes the problem "overnight" by simply retraining the employees that they should be able to judge their superiours.

I'm sorry for missing the critical part here - the actual article, but such cultural traits can definitely surprise people from other countries (like it did me with this one).

matt2000 3 days ago 8 replies      
thrownaway2424 3 days ago 3 replies      
Traffic violence in the US is absurd. If you want to kill someone you might as well just do it in a car. Nobody will even bother investigating.

The most recent atrocity was this week when a notorious reckless driver ran over a child and killed her. The driver is not charged with anything, but an outraged bystander who assaulted the driver at the scene was charged.


droopybuns 3 days ago 1 reply      
netforay 3 days ago 3 replies      
weirand 3 days ago 0 replies      
Black Screen: A modern terminal emulator based on Electron github.com
214 points by SalGnt  2 days ago   94 comments top 14
shockone 2 days ago 4 replies      
Hello. I'm the author of Black Screen, and I'm upset this post has appeared on Hacker News. The terminal is at a very early stage; I don't even use it by myself. Although, it's nice to see that people show some interest.
JulianWasTaken 2 days ago 5 replies      
One of these seems to pop up every few months, which is great, terminals are old crusty awful things, but it seems like they always die out in development before they can run existing things like Vim which makes them fun POC's and not much else :/
mycelium 2 days ago 5 replies      
Screenshot looks awesome!

I get this error on mac os Yosemite, I made a github issue here: https://github.com/shockone/black-screen/issues/21

 black-screen$ gulp [17:35:09] Using gulpfile ~/black-screen/gulpfile.js [17:35:09] Starting 'default'... [17:35:09] Starting 'watch'... [17:35:09] Starting 'clean'... [17:35:09] Finished 'default' after 359 ms [17:35:09] Finished 'clean' after 58 ms [17:35:09] Starting 'typescript'... [17:35:09] Starting 'sass'... [17:35:10] Starting 'react'... [17:35:11] gulp-notify: [Black Screen Watcher] React has been compiled. [17:35:11] Finished 'react' after 1.83 s ~/black-screen/node_modules/typescript/lib/typescript.js:35171 if (host.fileExists(fileName)) { ^ TypeError: undefined is not a function ...

blt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bringing up a whole web browser engine for the terminal is a deal breaker for me. I want it to start instantly. 1 second is too long.
lazybum 2 days ago 1 reply      
I see it is buzzword-compliant, but what is it good for?
arcameron 2 days ago 0 replies      
reminds me a lot of TermKit


looking cool!

eggsome 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I saw this post I thought it was going to be an xterm with an oldschool CRT look. I got someone to build me one of those for playing rougelikes a few years ago - see here if anyone is interested:http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1884955
mamcx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Something like this, but with performant native controls?

I will love to build a interactive REPL "terminal" for some data tool I'm building, but with a modern native GUI.

eeZi 2 days ago 0 replies      
iPython Notebook makes for a nice terminal emulator: http://jeroenjanssens.com/2015/02/19/ibash-notebook.html (inline images!).

It lacks readline support, though, and does not implement all VT100 control characters.

jestinjoy1 2 days ago 0 replies      
rtz12 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice, another application that eats away tons of RAM because it comes with it's own WebKit engine.
revelation 2 days ago 4 replies      
I kind of don't want to have my terminal emulator run a complete webbrowser because that's how all the cool kids now pull off the Delphi window skinning look of 2000.
epmatsw 2 days ago 2 replies      
Bummer. Doesn't compile with iojs.
supster 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks really awesome - can't wait to try it out!
Lost C64 Games: Daffy Duck 1992 Hi-Tec gamesthatwerent.com
177 points by ingve  3 days ago   46 comments top 10
SloopJon 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great that they were able to recover this game.

Kind of crazy that it will be copyrighted for another hundred years or so (assuming it's an unpublished work for hire), when the last copy was barely readable, and the owners probably don't even know they own it.

timpark 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a story of a lost PC game... Long ago, around the time of the first Scary Movie, the company I worked for was tasked with creating "Scary Game"... and we were given one month.

Since there wasn't much time, the game basically amounted to a few simple Flash-type minigames. Not great, but that's what they wanted.

After we finished, the client informs us that they goofed and they don't actually have the legal right to release the game. I wasn't on the project, and I didn't hear exactly how they made that blunder, but we still got paid.

The best part was that at the end, those who worked on it got T-shirts saying, "I see dead games."

foldor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I love that not only are they providing the game, they have an interesting history available. I"ll be keeping an eye on this site in the future.
atesti 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know what "Commodore Format infamously burned such things in almost ceremonial fashion." refers to? I could not find anything.
beering 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested in seeing the source code. Is that also available for viewing somewhere?
TazeTSchnitzel 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hope someone can record video of the gameplay.
Roodgorf 3 days ago 1 reply      
The page mentions Phil King as if that is a name I should be familiar with. This game was just before my time, is this some industry big-shot I should know about but missed?
StavrosK 3 days ago 5 replies      
Can someone tell me how to run this? I managed to install the emulator using this guide:


But I have no idea how to start the game.

cnvogel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dann, tried to play it but my homemade multi system joystick to USB adapter went bust. Any recommendations on a ready made adapter easily procurable on Europe/Germany?
       cached 8 September 2015 15:11:02 GMT