hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    13 Jun 2016 Best
home   ask   best   3 years ago   
A Grain of Salt teslamotors.com
795 points by dwaxe  2 days ago   282 comments top 35
franciscop 2 days ago 6 replies      
Some of Edward Niedermayer recently written article titles in bloomberg [1]:

- Worker Discontent Makes Tesla a Union Target

- Tesla Needs More Than Elon Musk

- Tesla Will Get Trampled by the Mass Market

- Tesla's Radical Update Is Just More of the Same

- Tesla Has to Start Acting Like a Car Company

- Tesla Stock Shifts Into 'Insane Mode' [negative]

- The Empire Strikes Back at Tesla

- Why Tesla Has a Target on Its Back

- ...

And the original cited in teslamotors.com:


It seems that yes, we should take a grain of salt and a lot more. There's definitely something fishy going on here.

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/view/contributors/ARwBOWvU7QI/edwar...

djaychela 2 days ago 5 replies      
OK, not as tech as many on here, but I've spent the last 25 years as an amateur mechanic, and spent 10 preparing and driving my own rally car, right up to World Rally Championship level, as well as having owned more cars than most people have had hot dinners, and fixed even more than that (sadly!)

The balljoint in question has failed because the rubber boot on it has failed, allowing water/dirt in, and it's rusted out from there. This is nothing specific to Tesla, it can happen on any car - I've seen it on quite a few FWD cars, but never to this degree (total failure) - they will go on for a LONG time with play in them, and take a LOT of abuse before failing.

To have failed in this manner, it would have needed to go un-noticed for some considerable time - I've had ones which have had a year of abuse in extreme circumstances and still been nowhere near as bad as this, so I think you have to ask about the servicing that had been done on this car - whether or not it had been inspected. In addition, this would have had significant play in it for some time, leading to noise which would be noticeable to most drivers when on the road, and easily noticed during any kind of worthwhile inspection (such as the MOT in the UK) - not sure if the state in question has a mandatory inspection?

Yes, being on a dirt road could have exacerbated the problem, but it's not something that a "normal" car can't take - you'd be amazed the amount of physical abuse a mechanically-standard car can take on rough gravel roads at speed.

Components such as this are usually sourced from sub-contractors, who produce them by the thousands/millions without issue, does anyone know if Tesla makes these themselves? Seems unlikely to me.

As has been said elsewhere here, if this had happened on a Ford Focus, no-one would give a monkey's, it's only because it's a Tesla and this guy has an axe to grind.

hbhakhra 2 days ago 5 replies      
"Recently, a Model S was in a very high speed accident in Germany that caused it to fly 82 feet through the air, an event that would likely be fatal in vehicles not designed to the level of safety of a Tesla. All five occupants were able to exit the vehicle under their own power and had no life-threatening injuries."

That is a pretty impressive feat for a car. Also, the voluntary recalls are an interesting case because to me they did something positive in doing a recall before any injury happened. When the news of the recall broke though, people were complaining about the recalls. Part of the problem is that any announcement by Tesla makes the news round while a similar recall by Toyota or anther company, that would affect many more people, wouldn't get a tenth of the attention.

biokoda 2 days ago 4 replies      
Crazy how Tesla as an entire company is scrutinized for car incidents that no one would even remotely care about if it was any other car manufacturer. If this guy had a range rover, or even some other electric car this would be a nonstory.
voiper1 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hmm. http://cdn.dailykanban.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/TeslaG... (via https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/06/09/2122208/tesla-suspen...)

On it's surface, that definitely looks like a full NDA: "don't speak of this" (IANAL)

However, I can see Tesla's interpretation/spin: "It just means: we aren't admitting liability, don't sue us for this, and don't say we paid for part of the repairs" -- which doesn't include "don't report a safety issue".Still, it seems rather strongly worded for that...

NeutronBoy 2 days ago 7 replies      
> With respect to the car that is discussed in the blog post that led to yesterdays news (more on the blog post below), the suspension ball joint experienced very abnormal rust. We havent seen this on any other car, suggesting a very unusual use case. The car had over 70,000 miles on it and its owner lives down such a long dirt road that it required two tow trucks to retrieve the car. (One to get the car to the highway and one to get it from the highway to the service center.) When we got the car, it was caked in dirt.

I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in this post, but a dirty car has nothing to do with a rusty ball joint. Dirt doesn't cause rust. It means, as they note, the owner lives on a dirt road. The two tow-trucks line is such a red-herring - nothing to do with the issue at hand.

schneidmaster 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since I've seen this mentioned a few times in the comments, it's worth noting: Tesla did not expose the identity of the customer who had the suspension problem. Edward Niedermayer is a blogger who uncovered a post on a car forum[1] and then made hay out of it[2] causing some national media to report about it. Tesla was merely commenting that this blogger has a pretty clear anti-Tesla bias in his other writing. If anyone's responsible for exposing the customer to scrutiny, it's Niedermayer (who linked to the semi-anonymous forum post and turned it into a media story).

1: https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/suspension-problem-o...

2: http://dailykanban.com/2016/06/tesla-suspension-breakage-not...

OliverJones 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a first-generation Honda Insight. It's sixteen years old and still going. At about 110K miles, the power pack failed, someplace in the Central Valley of California.

Honda (I guess some zone office) had it towed 50 miles to the nearest dealership, which happened to be in Bakersfield. They then replaced the power pack without charging me for it.

Now, I knew I was an early adopter. I knew this could happen. I was prepared to pay for it. And Honda decided to treat me like an early adopter. (They sent the old power pack back to Japan; I suppose they wanted to inspect it.)

It never occurred to me to slag them in the media, or try to get a class action suit going, or some such foolishness. I was stuck in "the desert" for a few hours. But it might have made a good story. The media love stories about design defects in cars, and the big car companies' coverups play right into those stories. If it bleeds it leads.

These EVs don't need oil changes. So the temptation may be to treat them like Soviet tanks and never maintain them. That seems a bad idea. They still have rubber seals on ball joints. They still have pads on the disc brakes. All that stuff is expendable, and needs to be looked at.

Tesla is right to debunk this "big story." One guy who could have been using a 20-year-old jalopy pickup truck experienced a typical failure and turned it into his fifteen minutes of fame.

usaphp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at all the blog posts that blogger Edward Niedermeyer wrote on his blog [1] I can't find a single positive thing he ever said about Tesla, it looks like he has some obligation to just write all the negativity he can come up with.

[1] - http://dailykanban.com/author/bjorn/

steve19 2 days ago 1 reply      
NY Times says..

"The nations top auto safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said on Thursday that at least some Tesla customers who experienced suspension failures with Model S luxury cars were asked to sign confidentiality agreements about the issue."


castratikron 2 days ago 0 replies      
That ball joint is in miserable condition. How had the owner not noticed any problems? The ball joint would be visible to anyone who would have had to replace the tires, which should have happened before 70K miles. Something feels off about this story.

And about the $3k repair bill: You will see that with any luxury car. Low number of cars means a smaller market for used parts, so what usually happens is only the manufacturer sells used parts. When they're the only supplier, they can charge whatever they want for the parts, and they often do. Maybe the owner did know about the problem, but chose not to replace it because it was too expensive.

It doesn't sound like Tesla is at fault at all, but I suppose they feel the need to protect their brand.

abpavel 2 days ago 2 replies      
Material science lifecycles are measured in decades. Just because you "haven't seen it before" does not mean it can't happen. It means you're not testing well enough, or that your data sample is not good enough. Noone is clairvoyant, and excuses such as "dirt" and "70000 miles" don't make you either. Why automatically attack the victim? Is it not remotely possible, that the fault lies with Tesla?
ktRolster 2 days ago 1 reply      
"the blogger who fabricated this issue, which then caused negative and incorrect news to be written about Tesla by reputable institutions, is Edward Niedermayer. This is the same gentle soul who previously wrote a blog titled Tesla Death Watch, which starting on May 19, 2008 was counting the days until Teslas death. It has now been 2,944 days."
jacquesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
What strikes me about this whole saga is that if the dealership had simply recognized that those joints should not have failed this early in the vehicles life and fixed them it would have ended right there.

Also I think that to have a 'will not sue' clause in the agreement to fix issues that are out of warranty is fine but the explicit consent not to talk about it is the kind of thing that will make your lawyer happy in the short term but that will damage your reputation in the longer one. Manufacturers should never try to control the speech of their consumers, even if it benefits them in the short term. It will look like you're trying to cover something up, even when you don't.

awestroke 2 days ago 10 replies      
70,000 miles is an incredible distance. I am impressed the car held together that long.

I see nothing wrong with the agreement. If I fix your car for free, I will make you agree to not thank me with a lawsuit. It's very simple, really. The customer gets a free repair, Tesla does not have to deal with lawsuit-wielding psychopaths.

yellowpug 2 days ago 2 replies      
Big fan of Tesla and their achievement even thus far, but perplexed that they didn't take the high ground, and decided to call out the individual by name in a derogatory and spin-like manner whilst still hiding behind the anonymity of authorship attributed to "The Tesla Team".
pedrocr 2 days ago 2 replies      
This was perhaps not the best phrasing:

"A few things need to be cleared up about the supposed safety of Model S suspensions:"

Maybe it's just me but it seems to imply that Model S suspensions aren't safe. The whole post is written in a pretty aggressive tone as well. Not your run of the mill PR piece that's for sure. If what Tesla states about this case and about the blogger is true I can see why they would be angry about it though.

gnoway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at Mr. Niedermeyer's linkedin profile[0] and what he's doing/where he's worked was kind of enlightening as to his purpose and motivations.

It probably works for him, though. I think 99+% of people, myself included, do not often look at who is writing what they read online. And I'd guess a majority percentage don't think about the fact that they are reading opinion vs. news.

[0] https://www.linkedin.com/in/edward-niedermeyer-35942261

miander 2 days ago 2 replies      
So are the documents customers were allegedly asked to sign real, or fabricated? This post calls Mr. Niedermayer everything short of a liar, and yet they didn't answer the obvious question. I am still withholding judgement.
sathishvj 2 days ago 0 replies      

A list of articles by said Edward Niedermeyer. There definitely are a lot of anti-Tesla articles.

icu 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a coup de grce this blog post is! I have never read any corporate communication that pushed me to finish the whole thing, enhanced my perception of their brand, increased my desire to own one of their products and become a shareholder.
S_A_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
Edward Niedermayer seems to be more concerned with click bait and controversy than really promoting discourse. The Truth About Cars has almost become readable since his departure, but its still a car tabloid at best. The dude is young and was given a pretty good sized platform, decided he didn't like Elon Musk and has now spent a significant percentage of his time to prove Tesla is a scam.

I wouldn't call myself a die hard tesla fan, and Im not willing to spend the kind of money required to own a model s or x. But I would certainly call them compelling reasons to look into an electric car and they are easily 10-15 years ahead of the entrenched auto makers.

I think that Tesla definitely has challenges ahead as well. The biggest is that they need to have cars fully baked and delivered on time. They need to start showing positive balance sheets regularly and they need to get the gigafactory done. I dont see them failing in the near term but their balance sheet and stock price need to reconcile eventually.

As to the claims of reliability, Ive not seen anything that looks to be egregiously worse than cars in the target market. Ive yet to own a single car that has never had a defect or something break that required a warranty/out of warranty repair. I have had cars that were better than average (My current 2014 A4 has had one thing break in 55k miles) and some that were much worse (2009 Chevrolet silverado - everything electric broke, power rear glass, power windows, cruise control, fuel pump, power seats; 2001 VW GTI vr6 had the check engine light on every 6 weeks after I exceeded the ridiculously short 24000 mile warranty- I think they knew that was all that car was good for. I replaced the MAF twice, several other engine electrics as well)

Whatever happens I have to give Tesla(not just Musk) a lot of credit for taking on a hard problem and creating a credible product.

heisenbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok, someone has an axe to grind and there is a blogger with an vendetta. But at the end there was this surprising update:

 Of greater concern: 37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2016
If true this goes beyond telling blown up stories and may cross the threshold over to criminal behavior.

Shivetya 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great news. Still Tesla obviously expects this type of news to break and it will be an ever constant duty for them to refute or acknowledge issues.

They must also understand that eventually some customers will want to work on their own cars, do preventive service and the like. They need to accommodate them as well.

It is one thing to be serving almost exclusively early adopters, when the III comes along its going to be very interesting to see how they handle it. There will be a whole lot of people who simply don't know how to treat their cars well combined with many who are louder about issues simply because its a bigger investment to them

HeavyStorm 2 days ago 0 replies      
"That said, sometimes Tesla does make genuine mistakes. We are not and have never claimed to be perfect. However, we strongly believe in trying to do the right thing and, when we fall short, taking immediate corrective action."

This is what makes me feel confident about a company. Doesn't ring like false humbleness or a disclaimer, just something that you'd hear on a open conversation, where the other party is being sincere.

And the worse thing about the whole situation is that damage is already done. Because people will believe anything they read.

geomark 2 days ago 0 replies      
Musk tweeted that "37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used"[1]

[1] https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/741411531582115841

rplnt 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is what caused Tesla to dip so much yesterday?


reubensutton 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love how non-corporate the Tesla blog is: "It is deeply ironic that the only customer who apparently believes that this document prevents him from talking to NHTSA is also the same one who talked to NHTSA. If our agreement was meant to prevent that, it obviously wasnt very good."
hartator 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's worth noting that Tesla models seems to have issues with leaks and water infiltrations that can explain the rust. Anyway, if they beleive in stock manipulation, they should sue.
quocble 2 days ago 0 replies      
Edward Neidermeyer is a douchebag. Look at all the articles he wrote. http://www.bloomberg.com/view/contributors/ARwBOWvU7QI/edwar...
2 days ago 2 days ago 2 replies      
Please don't be rude.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11875100 and marked it off-topic.

post_break 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real crime here is Tesla dangling repairs in front of owners only if they sign an NDA.
abpavel 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting Tesla's response:1. The car was not brand new and was actually driven, which is horrible.2. NHTSA did not investigate anything, they just asked us for the documents.3. We don't ask customers to sign anything, just demand that they sign "the agreement".4. We're the best. Customers are idiots.5. We'll even publicly expose the identity of the customer for you to hate. Here is his name, address, and SSN. Have fun!
antihero 2 days ago 0 replies      
> we believe in putting our customers happiness ahead of our own bottom line.

Fuck off with this shit. Your customers happiness IS what defines your bottom line in the long run. Can we stop with all this fucking corporate lies.

I think we need a new trend. Blunt honesty. I'd trust a company far more if they just came out and said yes, we're here to make money and expand. If this means treating you well as a customer, we will do that, but at the end of the day, we make money for our shareholders and to fund other crap we want to do, and we provide you with a thing you are cool with paying for and give you good service in order to do that.

SFJulie 2 days ago 4 replies      
A whole company going after one person. Whether they are right or wrong makes is irrelevant compared to the door to company bullying it opens: if a customer speaks against a company right or wrongfully the arsenal of legal retaliation a company has against him/her is disproportionate (libeling, doxing, mass PR/reputation, secrecy of affair new laws), resulting in de facto possibility for companies to control public space communication.

Government are just giving the key of censorship to corporation. Private owned interests that do not represent the people.

Tesla and its owner's arrogance are creepy.

Jessica Livingstons Pretty Complete List on How Not to Fail themacro.com
785 points by craigcannon  3 days ago   192 comments top 39
djb_hackernews 3 days ago 8 replies      
Yeesh. #2 hits close to home.

I think I've asked this question but I found myself a cofounder with 2 others that prioritized too highly IMO coffee meetings with "investors", no name board advisors, expensive conferences, and basically everything on that list. My approach was to gently voice my concern and but also let them do it in the hopes they'd see how useless it was. The other thing that didn't help was I was the "technical cofounder" and the attitude essentially was I didn't "get" business, and sometimes I wondered if they were right.

Interestingly both were woman, and I don't recall too much of #3. They definitely participated in women in tech type groups but I thought it was no different than any other useless networking others that aren't focused would do.

This will be definitely something I probe for in the future. Anyone looking for a cofounder? (I'm serious, and I have a cool little project we could do to see if we can build something people want together)

danso 3 days ago 4 replies      
> 1. Make something people want.

I haven't had a ton of experience in startups...once I had to work out of a startup space. And it amazed me the number of conversations I would hear between aspiring entrepreneurs and random strangers that were variations of, "Please tell me if you think this is a good idea".

Everyone knows what it's like to want something. I didn't really hear about Tinder until after it blew up into something huge, but its proposition always made sense to me: Do you want to get laid? Do you often base your decision on the looks of a potential mate? Would you be OK with requesting consensual sex without having to fill out a form?. Yes to all of that. I can't think of anything I regularly use and/or pay for that I can't sum up as a one-sentence "want", whether it's Google, Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, Uber...of course being the first to recognize the desire does not lead to a desirable product -- there's scaling and marketing and implementation and luck, of course.

But that means the entrepreneur who is trawling around to learn what others want is even deeper in the hole. Is there something in startup culture that heavily cautions against pursuing something that you know _you_ want, because selfish concerns do not often scale (even though they've scaled in plenty of cases if you look at surviving startups, though that's obviously survivor bias).

vonnik 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great talk. While most of Jessica's advice is spot on for many startups, there are some special cases, namely enterprise software.

Once an enterprise software startup has built its product, or even 70% of its product, you have to go to conferences. Conferences are where you meet your users, and enterprise software users and buyers are a hard group to target otherwise. Marketing and top-of-the-funnel sales happen there. Conferences are also the places you gather intel about the rest of the industry to get a read on where it's moving and if you're aligned with it. So the question for enterprise software startups is: How do you select the most important conferences and pay as little as possible to attend?

ajessup 3 days ago 3 replies      
It would be wonderful if these sorts of articles (which efficiently generalize advice based on thousands of data points) could back their assertions up with a few telling case studies. It's often too easy to nod sagely at advice like "don't loose focus" but not actually recognize the pathology in ourselves in our day to day lives.
exclusiv 3 days ago 2 replies      
"build stuff and talk to users" is so simple but great advice.

For my first successful startup I did the marketing and build and my partner focused on the users. And we crushed the incumbent in under 2 years completely bootstrapped and they tried to buy us.

Now I have a new startup where I'm handling the build and the customers and another partner is focused on the marketing.

It's a subscription business and talking with users helps retention, acquisition via word of mouth and also product development. Do it even if you'd rather be spending that time building!

cableshaft 3 days ago 8 replies      
Jessica asserts that conventions are too distracting and you shouldn't go to them.

I don't completely agree with that. Depending on what type of business you're making, the best way to get work done is to go to conventions, because that's the only time you can easily meet with a bunch of people that are related to your industry and make new partnerships, check out new hardware/software solutions to save time or money, possibly hunt for some new talent to join the company, discuss business propositions, etc, can all be possible in much shorter period of time than doing the same outside the convention.

Even just having the opportunity to meet someone face to face that you've been doing business with for the past several months can be useful.

That being said, you don't need to go to a lot of them. Attend only one or two of the most productive ones per year (most productive ones are not always the largest), and you should get a lot done without spending too much time at them.

Also don't go if you're strapped for cash, as they're often expensive (depending on the industry). They're not absolutely necessary, and they can be a waste of time if you don't utilize them properly. But they can be helpful tools.

pfarnsworth 3 days ago 8 replies      
You can do all of the above and still fail. Often, success or failure is luck-based and completely not skill-based.
katzgrau 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a bootstrapper of broadstreetads.com (about to pass the four year mark), I can genuinely say that focusing on building what your customers truly need and measuring growth are two critical pieces of advice that do not get emphasized enough.

I love to shut myself in and write code, don't get me wrong. But consistently tracking sales growth, setting goals, and hitting goals (i.e., execution) is what separates the wannabes from the dids.

zeeshanm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I also think it's super important to make something you can sell in addition to making something people want. Frankly, there are so many things people want but not every founder has resources or is well-equipped to sell it.

Your goal as a founder is to maximize chances of __your__ success. Having the right founder-market fit goes a long way.

woah 3 days ago 3 replies      
Focusing on growth and revenue sounds like the right thing to do for a p2p dog walking marketplace, or a SaaS enterprise meal planning app, but what about the startups solving big problems? Is month over month user growth relevant to a nuclear fusion or jet airplane startup?
Sidnicious 3 days ago 0 replies      
Woah, I've been struggling with the idea of going to conferences (on the list of distractions).

I have personal projects that I want to finish (not a startup), and the conferences I enjoy tend to feature people showing off their own projects. Whenever Im at one, I think, Id rather be on stage, sharing something I put months (or years) of love into, than be one of the 100-1000 people in the audience watching.

Of course, going to a conference can be inspiring, or introduce me to people or ideas thatll shape my future work, so theyre not all bad. Im interested in how other HN folks approach this conflict.

Semi-related, I experienced something interesting at a hacking conference a few years ago. Mid-conference, feeling inspired, I hid in the volunteer lounge for almost a whole day and worked on a reverse engineering project that Id been fighting to understand for over a year. I solved it! Being there, and aware of all of the people and activity around me, but actively ignoring it, gave me focus and motivation. That was fascinating, and Ive considered doing the same thing again (or finding a really interesting conference and not buying a ticket, so that I could work while I know Im missing it).

logicallee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone help me understand her list under Point 2, Stay Focused? She writes:

>One of the most conspicuous patterns weve seen among the thousand startups weve funded is that the most successful founders are always totally focused on their product and their users. To the point of being fanatical. The best founders dont have time to get caught up in other things.

>Heres a list of things that I see easily distract founders. These are like the startup equivalent of wolves in sheeps clothing.

[she includes 8 points, of which I quote 4 below - I am quoting selectively.]

> - Grabbing coffee with investors

> - Networking

> - Doing a partnership, thinking it will get you more users

> - Going to conferences

Now, I need help understnanding this. She has listed some of the items that separate people building startups in unfundable locations where there are 0 startups, and startups building in the Bay Area.

If you don't need to do these things, why did YC shut down it's Boston program and make everyone do it in the Bay Area?

If you don't need to do these things, why can't you build a startup from anywhere in the world as long as you speak good English and have no costs?

Aren't these things literally the things that make startups fundable, financiable, possible to grow into huge businesses?

I and anyone else on HN who has been in the Bay Area and in startup-dead locations knows the huge difference. She seemed to quote some of it under 'distractions'.

Can someone help me understand why they aren't, in fact, part of focus?

S4M 3 days ago 2 replies      
So networking, "grabbing coffee" with investors and talking to potential acquirers are a waste of time, yet YC insists that startups go to one of the most expensive place in the world just because it's more convenient to to those three things.
EmbeddedHook 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kudos -- really interesting, thoughtful and useful summary. However (yes, there's always a however), I'm always surprised and baffled why these kinds of lists rarely attribute startup failures to non/mis-management of the development process. I worked for a couple of successful startups and have consulted for the last six years (performance stuff) and am dumbfounded by the amount of time developers waste on "crap" -- trivial bugs, insignificant performance issues, "enterprise" build/QA automation, etc. At one startup, THE key developer went off for six months rewriting the comm stack for a performance problem that didn't exist -- all the while destabilizing and slowing down the product. At my last "real" job, every time I went to the coffee room, I would ask a developer what they were working on and 90% of the time it was "bugs." That's fine if you're working at IBM on DB2 but NOT if your funding dries up in 12 months. IMHO, it is RARE to find a manager/VP who will pull a developer back out of the weeds. I often see an endless series of stand-ups where the status is "fixed a bug" or "recoded an inefficient loop" or "wrote a Java wrapper for the Jenkins garbage collector." It SOUNDS like progress but six months later POCs are crashing and burning because 2/3 of the core features are still missing. Maybe I've had a totally weird career but how come no one talks about this?
usmeteora 3 days ago 6 replies      
as a 26yr old female Electrical Engineer getting involved with entrepreneurship and doing my own software startup, I agree there is too much controversy, talk and fear surrounding being a female in tech.

Don't get me wrong, it is isolating in general but after working for two startups, one bought out by a foreign company and another now has billions in funding, doing software analytics on the trading floor through summer internships in college, and going to a predominately male college for engineering, 70% males overall, and 99% male in my major, I can say I have a diversity of experience even within the tech field and also years of experience working at single companies before moving on, I can say a few things that I think echo what she is saying

1. Most of the people speaking the most about female controversey are not coders, or engineers or in the nitty gritty of tech. While I appreciate their empathy and willingness to latch onto a cause and speak for us, they often get it wrong, and recently have done so much so that they scare the MAJORITY of men to feeling uncomfortable talking about it. What do I mean? onto point #2

1a. Sorry, before I go to Point 2, another way journalists or people wanting to speak out on our behalf (female women in tech) get it wrong is by assuming we want to change the culture to be this outgoing, social fashion forward world. Actually, alot of us are introverted geeks and like doing the same thing other male engineers do. I definitely think wheather you were or are a cheerleader sorority girl who likes to bake and throw parties or an introverted star wars nerd and each one is an engineer, either should feel equally comfortable at a new tech company and not isolated by the culture, but anecdotally I happen to be an extreme introvert, and the excessive socializing and advice or notion that if we have an environment where we can all be super girly like omg together is the vibe I get from alot of female focused events in tech. It's actually overwhelming and makes me feel more out of place than not. Listen to us, not imposing your idea of how we might feel onto us. Get a good profile of what females are saying who are IN tech, and if there is a difference between that and the ones who are latching onto the idea of it or operating in auxiliary roles surrounding tech. These women are just as important, and are are still subject to sexism working around male dominated industries, but if you want more women IN tech, instead of talking about tech but not in it, listen to the women IN it, you might be surprised.


Here is one example where both genders are contributing to the problem but making it harder for women IN tech. my friend is a Biomed Engineer who prototyped and developed her hardware. Keeping her anonymous on here, but she went to a big tech conference in the bay area and was approached by three men asking if she was a "showgirl" at the conference as a starter to the conversation. Of all the things you could possibly say right? How offensive to a female engineer with over 30 pending patents running a multi million dollar company and two engineering degrees under her belt. Welp, those guys are in the wrong, but also why are there showgirls at tech conferences. because hot girls attract geeks to the boothe. But MEN hired these showgirls, and WOMEN are actually fufilling those roles. So both parties are at fault.

Who suffers?The people who suffer are the ACTUAL female engineers who would love to go to a conference and not have it be assumed they are there in an auxiliary tech role until proven otherwise.

once my friend described who she was, both of the guys felt really bad, even embarassed and apologized profusely. They ended up being cool guys she is still friends with. they learned a lesson, but they have also been heavily conditioned by males and females who are both willing particpants in establishing a stereotype that is demeaning to women actually in tech.

2. Most men I've met and worked with in tech are absolutely fine. It is that in general outlier cases good and back stick out in our heads. If there are 200 employees at a company and only 2 females in my department of 40, probably over a 6 months period the chances are I'm going to be made to feel uncomfortable whether intentionally or not by one person atleast. I'm not saying it's acceptable or ok, or that steps shouldn't be taken to fix it, I'm saying 19/20 guys I work with in a random sampling are just fine, and don't make being a girl a thing, and treat me just the same, or if anything are excited to see women in tech and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. It's then in your discretion to stand on your own two feet and not take advantage of that, because some women do, which brings me to...

3. There are some women who abuse their minority status. I'm NOT saying women who have spoken out about being treated poorly are the ones who are abusive, or that they are lying. It is usually ones that have nothing to complain about and the situations are much more nuanced. I'm sorry people will get mad at me about this statement but I feel comfortable saying it as I've observed it and I work in tech and I'm not going to lie to remain politically correct. Both males and females are capable of abusing their position. Not all males do it, not all females do it. So hating men or making them terrified of saying the wrong thing if anything is just going to make you feel more isolated.

There are also women who still have queen B syndrome and like being the only female around, and actively bully other women. This is so obnoxious. However, in my varied experience in tech, I can say one key indicator of a real female engineer, is that most of us would LOVE a female friend because we don't have many. Females that view male dominated workplaces as a fun new playground because of all the men, are constantly having coworker boyfriends, and view other women as competition, instead of empathizing with them, have probably not experienced the long term years of being in college engineering classes and doing their homework and not having female friends, and the desire to be treated as an equal instead of put on a pedastool or having to prove themselves. Real females doing real work in tech know what it's like to be isolated, and when we get together as females, we are all super super grateful for it, and we all feel uncomfortable going to glitzy girl focused events where we are bombarded by girls not in tech telling us how things should be. This has been my experience.

4. While some of us can't choose who we work for and with, if you are a female IN Tech, not marketing or some soft auxiliary department of a developed company, but you code or prototype electronics or hardware or engineer something, then you are valuable enough that you can move onto thousands of other companies if you don't find one with a culture that fits your comfort zone. Not just because you are a talented brilliant ambitious female, but because you are a talented brilliant ambitious engineer, and they are in great need in any gender, but being a female is always a great added diversity and step into equality for EVERYONE, not just females. AGAIN, it's not ok women should ever have to feel uncomfortable but we live in the real world and not everything is fair, not just for women, but for alot of situations and people in general.


In life in general, forget being a women or startups, a good rule of thumb, and one I took way too long to learn myself in my personal and professional life, if you don't like how you are being treated, then start hanging around different people.

I have plenty of male engineer friends who are low key, we geek out together, order pizza, watch tv, code, switch knowledge, music and talk about latest tech stuff, and its totally chill. What and who makes you feel comfortable but also gets you excited about learning and obtaining your goals? hang around them and your work life and personal life will be better. It's the same as if you want to stop drinking but your friends only method or venue for socializing is drinking, well it's not going to be super fun for you, so hang out with people who gel with your same lifestyle.

I definitely have my frustrations, but my successes and friends male and female far outweigh my desire to spend most of my time feeling negatively. This is coming from a girl who has been through some troubling times with male coworkers. It's not that is hasnt been harder, its just that I have so many things I want to do, I'd rather "show them" by being successful and acheiving my goals than fighting a legal battle. I am glad some women have chosen the legal path, but I actually would be upset if someone chastized me for not spending all my time in court. There are lots of way to bring tech forward with everyone, not just articles and legal battles. Sometimes, just being a good role model, the girl you wish you had to hang with 5 years ago when you had no female friends, goes alot farther in the world of tech females who actually need a friend, not just people reading the hottest news. Any new girl I meet in my company or department or otherwise who is an engineer or software developer, I atleast attempt to make friends and go out to lunch or a grab a drink with them , let them know I'm available to chat or otherwise, and every time I've been endlessly thanked saying I'm the only female friend they have. Well, now I have like 5 awesome female engineer friends and we all are friends as a group now, it's not much, its not enough, but its more than we ever had and it's all we have time for, because you know, we are also coding, starting companies and doing all the same things males do so we are not over here just being social butterflies. As cliche as it sounds, and something I never would have believed about myself years ago when I was feeling isolated, is that I focused on being the change I wanted to see in the world, and the role model I wish I had when I was fresh out of college, instead of fighting legal battles. Sometimes thats the right thing to do, sometimes my path is a good one too, and I don't regret it.

I've had to abandoned some groups, and in one case a company because I was around egotistical chovenistic males who challenged me on everything and even worse it was all subconscious sexism so it was not even easy to address. no its not ok, but I decided to instead of fighting for it for years and years, to move onto something better for me, and now I can spend the majority of my time coding and working on my goals, instead of fighting against people. It was the best decision I've ever made, I'm able to be alot more technically advanced, and by holding my head high and deciding I could do better, instead of tearing other people down.

Atleast three of those guys have come to me years later to apologize (with no prodding on my part), tell me I was a good player on the team, and I know from females who joined that same team later, they are treated very well. Those guys straightened up because sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, is know you deserve better, walk away and discover a place that fosters your worth. If you have real tech skills, this will always be an option for you as a woman, or a man. It's ok to stand up and "fight" and it all depends on your situation. I should have had more support in mine, but honestly I think I made the right choice by just moving onto something better.


She is right, don't be scared. JUST DO IT. If you can actually code or prototype, then do it. Perform, let your product speak for itself and noone can argue with you. That is the cool thing about coding or being an engineer, if it works and people are paying for it, who cares if youre a girl, or a transgender, or have purple hair, wear tennis shoes to work, or if you are a hippopotamus. It's not going to be easy, it's going to be WORTH it, and there may be some extra barriers, but how rewarding for you to be a trailblazer.

I never thought of myself that way until people started calling me a trailblazer or a "badass" years out of college and now that I think about it, hey yeh, I've been through some pretty hard times but damn this is cool, minority or not, I love what I do and nothing is going to stop me. In fact, I had no idea when I first went into this that anyone would want to stop me, or feel threatened by me, and honestly, that is the hard part.


The hard part is realizing that some people are actually not supportive of you, subconsciously or not, alot of the anger on your part comes from the confusion surrounding the challenge of understanding this concept, because if youre an awesome person who doesnt need to tear other people down to have success, this isn't going to be intuitive for you to understand other people are actually that lame. Once you realize yes these warped people in self denial who project their own insecurities onto you DO exist, and probably always will in some form or fashion, then you can be like "oh, no I'm better than that sorry". Sometimes again, legal is a good way, sometimes not.

Just do you and find that confidence. if you don't have it, dig deeper, if youre reading this youre already way ahead of the game and have nothing to feel insecure about. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond and how you let it effect your opinion of yourself or your subconscious belief about your capabilities.

Have that attitude, and support other girls around you, focus on your work and not people, and youll be amazed. In the words of Dr. Suess "oh the places youll go.."

zxcvvcxz 3 days ago 1 reply      
> So while Ill tell you that it is going to be harder for you as a woman,

I read this phrase a few times. I'm genuinely curious - and didn't really see it in the article - what are the reasons for which Jessica is referring?

Edit - downvoted for asking a genuine question...? Did it ever occur to anyone that I may be asking to see how I could help, seeing as I'm involved with a few startups?

kayhi 3 days ago 5 replies      
"The best metric to choose is good old fashioned revenue."

The best metric to choose is good old fashioned profit.

I appreciate that growth can be hindered by making a profit, but isn't that what matters in the end? Amazon, Twitter, Box and many other public tech companies went public without turning a profit so it seems I'm wrong.

mathattack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Measuring the right things is very important too. I was at a company that lived and died on user counts. We grew 30X in users over my year there, but no revenue so we ultimately died. (And costs were out of control too, and we lost focus, so much of this article hits home)
tmaly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think #1 is the key to the whole thing.

I love how Pat Flynn talked about building a market map in his recent book Will It Fly. I think this method is very helpful in finding out if what your doing is something people want.

Derek Sivers of CDBaby has this same mindset. He has always worked off the pull method rather than the push method for what he creates.

Ash Maurya in his book running lean gives you a nice script for customer development interviews. I have tried this with a previous startup idea, and they saved me from going down the road of working on something people did not want. They are probably a bit more involved than Pat's method, but it is something else to consider.

chmike 2 days ago 0 replies      
A parallel to "don't waste time in conferences" is don't waste time on hacker news. Ha! I don't run a startup, so I'm allowed.
micah63 2 days ago 0 replies      

1 - Seed money is given on promise

2 - How to get VCs to invest: Build something people want + talk to users + focus = 10% growth

3 - Be default alive, which means: existing cash + revenue - consistent expenses gets you to breakeven

*How to shoot yourself in the foot: Overhire -> Default Dead -> Ugly Duckling -> No VC

poof131 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure I agree about advisors. Getting smart people who have experience in places the team is lacking seems pretty critical to me. Perhaps its different at YC where you have advisors built into the program and getting boards of advisors is extraneous, but for other teams without those resources behind them this seems like bad advice. Find people whove done it before and learn from them.
ape4 3 days ago 1 reply      
On "making something people want"... You don't always know. If its a cheaper version of something else then - yah. But if its a new category you don't know. eg Nest - turns out people did want an expensive smart thermostat. But wasn't obvious.
davesque 3 days ago 1 reply      
The only way not to fail is not to try. Even then you could argue that you failed to try :).
ssreeniv 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Doing a partnership, thinking it will get you more users

Why is this a distraction?

sbardle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Solid advice. I think YC advice gives you the road map, but in addition speeches like Paul Buchheit's "The Technology" can also help stimulate the vision in the first place.
ck2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Video of keynote by Jessica Livingston


k2xl 3 days ago 2 replies      
How many startup founders do you know think they aren't building something people want?

These are some nice tips, but the problem with this advice is that it probably won't change founder behaviors.

Most startup founders I know would think that they are focused, building something people want, not over hiring, etc...

With the exception of the default alive or dead, none or the other tips are really quantifiable.

I appreciate everything Jessica has done, and she has a wealth of experience and exposure to a wide variety of startups, but this advice is too subjective.

JBiserkov 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of http://paulgraham.com/die.html and http://paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

P.s. I haven't seen her talk yet.

banhfun 3 days ago 0 replies      
She forgot #8: Be Lucky
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
just as a side note. She pretty much says that "ugly duck hiring" (hiring start-ups that seem to be on a good track but have burned too fast through their money) may be a thing to make money with.

PS: And i don't like the "not fail" part. You don't want to not fail. You want to succeed. If you fail and succeed the failing is fine.

akshatpradhan 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm in the interesting position that I've built something that everybody needs, but nobody wants.

I've built a product that manages the compliance process for the Big 5 (i.e. PCI-DSS, SSAE16-SOC2, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and FEDRAMP).

My product, ComplianceChaos[1] competes with RSA Archer, Protiviti, Lockpath, Aruvio, and MetricStream.

From my research, 80% of IT operations around the world can't confidently certify themselves against any of those information security frameworks. When recently talking to Security Directors and above, they claim "I don't need to comply" or "well we may not be the best, but we're not the worst, so compliance just isn't a priority."

We understand that a big business like General Electric will not do business with your company unless you can show some kind of proof that you're compliant with the Big 5. For example, if you're a cloud service provider or SaaS, GE wants you to certify for SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

We also know that if you host on Amazon's FEDRAMP Compliant environment or Catalyze.io's HIPAA compliant environment, it doesn't automatically mean your company is also compliant. Your company still needs to go through the compliance process too."

When I first set off to build this product a couple years ago, the security officers first exclaimed, "We need a compliance tool so that we don't have to deal with scattered documents and long spreadsheets." When I built the MVP and continued iterating on it, security officers again exclaimed, "this is the most beautiful compliance product I've ever seen! Better than RSA Archer."

However, when I asked them to use it, for FREE, they would say, "Well it's nice, but compliance just isn't a priority for us because the business has other missions like doing real security work". Explaining to them that compliance frameworks like ISO 27001 and FEDRAMP is real security work was met with deaf ears. In fact, they would retaliate saying, "Compliance like ISO 27001 isn't security. It's a low bar, bare minimal, and not enough."

When I counter with, "But 80% of the industry can't confidently assert that they've done due diligence in meeting the compliance controls. If compliance is so bare minimal, then why do only 20% go all the way to Attestation instead of all 100% of you guys?" That question would again fall on deaf ears.

I've recently pivoted to a services company, no thanks to TrustWave for getting sued for performing subpar security compliance auditing work. I'm specifically looking at you auditors who ask employees to put their passwords in a spreadsheet.

So here I am, having built a product and auditing service that IT Operations do in fact need, but do not want. They don't want the politics behind it nor the emotions behind it, and wish to sweep compliance under the rug.

How do I solve for #1 Make something that people want, when nobody wants compliance, but definitely needs it?


I'm going to sleep now, but I would really appreciate reading your responses in the morning and I'll definitely respond too.

kreetx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I want a T-shirt which says "Jessica Livingston"! Very good advice overall.
draw_down 3 days ago 1 reply      
- Don't do bad stuff.- Do do good stuff.
3 days ago 3 days ago 3 replies      
I believe you're talking about Elizabeth Holmes.
3 days ago 3 days ago 3 replies      
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11871755 and marked it off-topic.
nutheracc 3 days ago 3 replies      
"...shares her learnings about..." -- this is not English. Failing in the second sentence.
outworlder 3 days ago 2 replies      
Overall, I found the reading very enjoyable. And down to earth, which is refreshing.

Until this part, that is:

> And you know where the founders of these big winners are going to come from? From this room!

Not sure how to view this part. On one hand, of course she's right. If no "unicorns" ever came from YC, they wouldn't be around still. But it seems to imply that all founders that are going to be wildly successful were in that room. That's either appealing to emotion for morale purposes, or way too elitist. Not sure which.

qznc 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Make something people want. This is YCs motto, and after 11 years and more than 1000 startups, I know we picked the right one.

I find this sad. It tells you something about humanity. Don't build something people need. Build what they want. Make it addictive. We either don't know what we need or if we know it, we still want something different.

Its cheaper to build multiple native applications than one responsive web app hueniverse.com
621 points by cdnsteve  3 days ago   301 comments top 85
donatj 3 days ago 10 replies      
I don't think that's remotely true if you keep the responsive web app simple. YNGNI and KISS and what not.

I've been doing this for over ten years. In that time I've seen large web applications built for under 4k; I've also seen massively overbuilt simple applications go for 50k+. It comes down to often how needlessly complex you make the stack.

If you stick with solid simple guaranteed tech instead of cutting edge you can knock a web app out relatively cheap and easy.

When it comes right down to it, 95% of web apps have two jobs. Present text to the user, take text from the user. Everything else is a nice to have. HTTP has been doing those two jobs amazingly well for decades. It's a solved problem, don't make it harder than it needs to be.

Lastly: Don't fight the browser. Design for the browser. Responsive is easy if you design for things to flow as the browser would have it. It's one of the biggest mistake I see so often. If a design requires you to fight the native behaviours of the browser, it's likely a bad design. Fight back against that junk, it just makes future work that much harder.

tl;dr Develop for the web of a couple years ago and not the web of today. It'll save you time and headaches.

hanginghyena 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like you're deferring one dragon for another.

Deliver the project got easier; "Control the customer" got significantly harder. You've now got someone's app store in the middle of your customer relationships and are exposed to approval drama, various forms of revenue squeeze, and other meddling from the platform owner. What happens if the folks running the platform decide to launch their own offering?

Speaking as another small developer, our solution to the cross-browser feature support is simple: anything that doesn't run on most modern browsers doesn't make the final design. If the customer doesn't bite on basic design, we don't expect a miraculous shift with the latest widgets.

donw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can speak with some knowledge of a not-insignificant B2C company -- not my current gig -- that went down this exact same route some years ago.

Swore off mobile web in favor of pushing people to the app, because app conversions were much higher.

A satellite office broke away from the fold and implemented a responsive mobile site, immediately increasing their bottom-line revenue by 30%... and that's before doing any sort of conversion optimization.

The main office followed suit shortly thereafter... with a new head of engineering.

Native apps are no easier or harder to build than web apps. Equivalent level of difficulty in my experience, with apps being slightly harder because end-to-end testing needs to be done almost completely manually, and because the release cycle is partially outside of your control.

But for most businesses, you really, really do not want to neglect the mobile web.

Yes, conversion for in-app users is broadly higher across the board. But that's not because conversions suddenly spike when people use an app. Rather, your most dedicated users -- the ones most likely to convert -- are the ones that will install an app.

For the rest of us, if it's "app or bust", we will pick "bust".

As a consumer, I deal on an annual basis with probably over a hundred different companies. I do not want an app for each of those companies. And if you force me to download an app from the get-go, I will go to your competition.

54mf 3 days ago 13 replies      
"You want mobile notifications? Sure, but not on mobile Safari."

You can do this with PhoneGap.

"Multiple line ellipsis? Sure, but only on webkit."

Okay, yeah, this sucks.

"Consistent rendering size across browsers? Just fuck off."

This is probably your fault.

"We fix a layout bug on Safari and break something on Edge."

This is probably your fault.

"We change font size on Chrome and now all you can see on Firefox is the letter F."

This is probably your fault.

"How about hiding the address bar or controlling swipes from the left edge of the screen? Dont be stupid."

Stop trying to make the browser not a browser. Users hate when you hijack expected behavior. (See: Imgur.)

"Oh, and dont get me started on all these new custom mobile keyboards you can use and how autocomplete can fuck with your input box events."

You can disable autocomplete. Did you mean predictive word suggestions?

TL;DR: "We tried to make a responsive web app act like a native app and it didn't work because it doesn't work, and that makes me a grumpy goose."

untog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even if this is true, I doubt it's a wise idea, given that the average US consumer downloads zero apps per month:


Unless you're in a very fortunate niche, you can't afford to not do the web. You can afford to not do apps.

jordanlev 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like how the author mocks other people who make decisions based on money over ideals:

> That group, btw, has mostly sold out taking high paying jobs at Facebook and Google, and have not heard from since

...but then later justifies his argument to forsake his ideals because "hey I've got a business to run":

> I dont need you to troll me on Twitter and tell me how Im betraying the web and the free fucking world. I am just trying to keep my startup going.

tmaly 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can totally relate to some of this.

If you take a look at Meeker's 2016 Internet trends report that came out last week, you will see that 3 apps dominate 80% of the usage on phones. I decided when I started my food side project a year back, that I was not going to do a native app.

I have been trying to make the front end look better, but I did not want to use very heavy frameworks, so I settled on using the SASS mixin library Bourbon.io along with the grid and a few others the company provides.

The css that is produces is very tight, and I can save on developer costs. I should say, save on finding another front end developer as the one I was using took some money and ran.

0xsnowcrash 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is a bit of "grass is greener" syndrome.

I developed web apps for 14 years before building ios apps for 5 years.

The last couple of years I've worked on both native apps and responsive web sites.

Both can be pains in the ae. But the pain points are different.

Both are moving rapidly. eg Ios: having to rejig xibs to storyboards was annoying.

Css: Supporting older versions of IE has been a pain.

I could go on at length but plenty of people have already done so.

Illniyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
There might be something to the headline but the content isn't delivering.

1. You can't compare making an ios and android app to making an app for every bloody broweser, I mean you could just as easily built your webite to safari and chrome for mobile. You want a true cost comparision compare building an app for universal windows, and mac and linux.Of course if you reduce the scope of your app's access you are going to get reduced costs.

2. Building a messaging app is probably the least appropriate and one of the hardest things to build with web technologie( after a game).Use the appropriate technology for your app.

3. By your remarks on how costly mobile developers are, I'm guessing you've hired to inexpierenced web developrs. Get expierenced developers who know the limitations and best practices and you wont encounter so many issues.

brlewis 3 days ago 1 reply      
"One app for iOS, one for Android, and I got over 90% consumer coverage"

What's the consumer coverage for Mobile Chrome + Mobile Safari? Giving up on total cross-browser compatibility doesn't have to mean writing native apps.

jaredcwhite 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article might have had some resonance a couple of years ago. Today it's just not the reality. Mobile apps are running into major engagement issues. App Stores are loosing their value prop and running towards web-like SaaS pricing models (Apple's hand was basically forced here).

On the other hand, mobile web browsers are way better than they ever have been. Desire to maximize web performance instead of allowing bloatware JS and ad cruft is at all-time high of industry awareness. Many mobile apps are "hybrids" anyway. Basecamp 3's new mobile apps are good examples of how you can create a pretty solid experience with a sensible mix of native and web-based functionality.

In other words, the open web is actually in better shape now technologically than several years ago. If only the big VC-backed SV startups would see that instead of chasing their tails trying to grab app users' ever decreasing attention.

ksenzee 3 days ago 2 replies      
When you multiply that 90% consumer coverage by the percentage of people who will install your app when you ask them to, it's going to knock down your 90% pretty considerably.
ams6110 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you're a two person startup quit building on quicksand. Use stuff that works. Once you have some users you can start venturing towards the bleeding edge of what's possible.
seanwilson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Meh, supporting a couple of iOS versions and a couple of Android versions for a native app along with device specific quirks is as much of a pain as supporting Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE. Also, maintaining two code bases for native Android and iOS apps is a massive investment compared to a single web app code base.
wesleyfsmith 3 days ago 3 replies      
Ehhhh, I really haven't had these issues with any of the meteor apps I've made. Even getting swiping and full page animation transitions has been relatively simple. My experience is anecdotal, but I actually left being android developer to do mobile web and I've found the experience to be far easier.
joeyspn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Comparing "responsive web apps" with native mobile apps? Really? What about cordova/phonegap/ionic?

Don't blame the web because you made a poor decision picking your tech stack (or hiring your devs). Nowadays a single webdev can ship OSX, Android and Windows apps with frameworks like Ionic... in weeks.

Starters (there are hundreds) help a lot: https://market.ionic.io/starters

z3t4 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Yes, you can build 2007 websites much better now. They will be consistent across platforms and perform great.

There you have it. Using bleeding edge features will create a lot of problems. First you need to figure out what type of users you want to target, PC users with 24 inch monitors and keyboard? Or 12 year olds with iPads? But still, for your software to really work across as many units as possible, and continue to work for years, you have to look what existed 5-10 years ago, and only use those features that are still standard.

I have a mobile phone that no longer gets updates. It is HTML 5 compatible, so it should handle everything that is not bleeding edge, but still many web pages, for example medium.com does not work!

I remember being a web developer ten years ago, it was your professional duty do make sure it was pixel perfect on existing GUI based browsers and even look good on the text based ones. I think web dev's today is too quick to jump on the latest and greatest.

If you take a look at the browser features that existed 5-10 years ago, it's way behind the native phone app experience! It seems browser vendors totally missed the mobile explosion, and only lately have begun to catch up! Considering how fast the web tech moves now though, the future for web dev looks bright. I think that in in 5-10 years, the mobile browser experience will be on pair or even ahead of native, at least considering dev experience and cross device/platform support.

sawthat 3 days ago 1 reply      
(note: I've met Eran a few times, he is very smart and I respect his opinion)

Note aside: this is one of those "it really depends" kind of situations. For many cases native apps are always going to be cheaper to build. For others the web is just much better. It seems like the problem Eran is describing is more of a labor shortage. It's really, really difficult to hire good web developers. I have no idea why this is.

mikeryan 3 days ago 2 replies      
One app for iOS, one for Android, and I got over 90% consumer coverage

However with a huge friction point of requiring users to download and install an app.

cjcenizal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pro-tip: You can make your article sound like it's been written by a grown-up if you find/replace all instances of the word "fucking" and "fuck" with "".
bryanlarsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sure, it may be cheaper to build an Android app and an iOS app than it is to build a responsive web app. I'll buy that.

But most customers want an Android app, an iOS app and a web site for desktop.

It's certainly cheaper to build that desktop webapp if you don't have to make it mobile-y, but is it cheaper to build an Android app, an iOS app and a desktop webapp than it is to build a responsive webapp?

andrewclunn 3 days ago 1 reply      
He forgot to mention how web frameworks come and go, and then you've got this legacy code nightmare. Also breaking upgrades and dependency hell. I'm a front end web developer, and yeah. If your building something simple, the web is the way to go, but his complaints are totally on spot.
jflatow 3 days ago 1 reply      
'www' should stand for wild, wild, web. In many ways, the web is a technology frontier, with all the frustration and liberation that goes along with it.

I sympathize with the author. The problem is trying to tame the web, as opposed to embracing it for what it is.

EGreg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously... there should be a framework that takes care of all that for you.

We built this framework. And it took us four YEARS. Ok, it also does a ton more stuff than just make the app work across devices.

But, the web rocks. Seriously. PhoneGap lets you basically stuff the web app into a fullscreen shell and go to town. And the best part is that you gey to control updates, totally legally without Apple holding you up. Have a front-end bug? Fix it for everyone tomorrow! Have a new feature you want to roll out to only 5% of your users? YOU CAN! And then A/B test it. Whoa. Like how would you A/B test with the app store? Yeah, that.

Also... when invitation links are clicked, where do you think the mobile user goes?


And so... you need a web experience anyway, that does more than say "Please download our app. Here is a nice picture and description so you can clutter your phone now."

And finally... web push notifications? Yes, this is one of the TWO BIGGEST THINGS MISSING in iOS Safari. (The other is access to the address book, with permission of course.)

But I think that's about to change at WWDC. Android Chrome has Web Push!

llamataboot 3 days ago 0 replies      
"native app developers seems to think $50K is the smaller amount you should bill for a native app these day"

Ummm, yeah, I would say $50k would cover a small native app using Parse or similar or an extremely light backend. Even a medium size native app is going to run $100-150k. That's the price of software development if it's happening in the US.

r2dnb 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing we tend to forget as developers is that in any industrial process, there needs to be technical limitations enforcing requirements before requirements enforce technical specifications. We tend to be too easy because everything seems achievable with software systems.

A project should start by considering political things such as: is it smart to have this particular application hosted in a marketplace. Right after that, the chief engineer should be consulted to know the technical approach (platform, stack, etc...) that should be used, and the technical limitations that the requirements should observe to allow the development effort to be successful and efficient.

The more self-imposed technical constraints are observed, the more successful and easy the development will be - and passed a certain point, the more difficult it becomes to sell the product or service.

Applying this reasoning to the article, to me the problem is the very thing they have decided to develop.

bradscarleton 3 days ago 0 replies      
Responsive web apps are difficult to build, however settling for native Android and iOS is not sufficient for comparison since he's leaving out the desktop (so he should probably include Windows and OSX for some level of parity for what a responsive web app can do).

The real underlying problem is the state of the mobile web browser, which neither Apple nor Google have much incentive to improve due to their revenue generating app stores. That's not to say that there wouldn't still be some major differences between native apps and mobile web (especially in the discovery / delivery department), but if you had better feature parity between these platforms I think rants like this guys would be fewer and farther between.

tl;dr: He picked the wrong technology platform for his product, therefore since it didn't work for his use case, it must be fundamentally broken.

pfooti 3 days ago 0 replies      
Mobile Chrome + Mobile Safari would be a great way to cover enough bases to make a good responsive web app reach a huge audience. The core problem is that Mobile Safari is really quite frustrating in a lot of ways.

As a simple example, I had a bug with some of the dialogs and menu popups I was using not rendering in Mobile Safari. It turns out that if you have a div that is a child (in the DOM) of a div that has overflow: hidden, that child will not be rendered outside of the clipping box of the parent, even if the child div is position: absolute and at a higher z-index than the parent. This works differently in chrome.

There are plenty of workarounds available, but the basic strategy of creating a position: relative context and having a position: absolute floating menu / dialog that's rendered near the button that creates it won't work if your menu bar has overflow: hidden on it. But then you have to make sure you've got your menubar set up well so that it doesn't become super-tall in narrow screens, because you specified overflow: visible. Or you have to put your floating divs elsewhere in the DOM tree and specify their position as fixed and manually calculate where to put them using javascript.

It's things like this that frustrate me the most in working with safari - I'm constantly wrestling with a rendering stack that doesn't seem to do what I want (it was only in recent versions that I could stop setting flex-basis: 0.01px instead of flex-basis: auto (on safari) like I do everywhere else on divs that had only text children that I wanted to make expand but also become multiline text instead of pushing everything way out to the right. And don't get me started on safari's support for indexeddb, let alone the other neat features that chrome is supporting to make mobile just plain better.

I'm at the point now where I'd literally be willing to tell my users: "install chrome for iOS" if it were actually chrome, instead of supporting safari. But instead, I deal with the sort of resonance back-and-forthing when I fix a safari layout bug that introduces oddities in chrome's renders.

amasad 3 days ago 1 reply      
>The web is the future. The web will always be the future. But thats the problem. I need to ship products now.

It's like tomorrow is always tomorrow -- it is never today. One thing that bothers me about the web dev community is the insistence that technology has a will of it's own. As if the web will just eventually win no matter what. I consider myself an advocate for the Web but it needs to be good or better than the alternatives.

So, joke aside, it doesn't follow from the rant that the web is the future. It follows that there is a lot of work that needs to happen before you can say it might be part of the future.

mozey 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Do I miss IE6? As a CEO, actually yes." Seriously? Article should just have started with this, then I wouldn't have had to read the rest.
siegecraft 3 days ago 0 replies      
The core of his argument really boils down to: I have to do it this way because my audience is 12 year olds and this is what they want. A good lesson in knowing your customer I guess. But I don't think the conclusion is useful for most people.

Another thing that stood out to me: "a closed ecosystem will always deliver higher quality in any given moment." Which is so absolute it's ridiculously easily disproved, even while being true at certain points.

gmarcus 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about a real world example.

tl;dr The Hybrid app took longer to ship (+ 20%), and was more expensive (+ 525%)

We were able to participate in a unique experiment:- Develop a native app for iOS and Android at the same time a separate team was developing the exact same app as Hybrid (Cordova/React).

The app had 20 screens and used modern UX (onboarding, profiles, hamburger menus, alerts, GPS, content rich screens (text/images/video) with lists/details talking to a backend REST API with local/offline/sync'd storage.

Native = 8 man/weeks

- 1 iOS dev for 4 weeks- 1 Android dev for 4 weeks

Hybrid = 50 man/weeks

- 5 Hybrid devs 10 weeks

You can argue that the 5 devs had overhead in communication and project management, but we observed that was not a major contributing factor.

The above was for app development (not the server). Hybrid app required the same amount of QA as the Native app.

joehewitt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used publicly whine quite a lot in favor of open web standards. When the specs were simpler, this made more sense, but as they grew more and more complex I felt overwhelmed with the chore of developing cross-browser apps. The investment of time required just didn't make sense anymore, and I felt like the only way to serve the web was to develop simple content-focused pages, and leave any complex functionality to native apps.
Joeri 3 days ago 1 reply      
The web's view layer, html and css, has the wrong granularity for building precise ui. Html's controls are too high level for pixel perfect manipulation, and too low level for easy assembly into rich ui. CSS meanwhile tries to get you to make general rules that interact to produce a precise rendering, which you never quite achieve because there are always unintended side effects of the rules. No native view api works like this, and for good reason. Since these technologies are almost entirely but not quite unsuitable for building a native-like view layer, people build abstractions around them to approximate the view layer api any native ui gives you. But then the problem becomes one of synchronizing the facade view to the real view, hence ten thousand templating and layout frameworks, all while continually dealing with the leaky nature of the abstraction.

I guess what i'm saying is that i believe in the principles of the web, but i think html and css are terrible technologies that do a disservice to those principles.

volune 3 days ago 0 replies      
Problem is no one wants to download your native app.
ciokan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Agree with everything except with the numbers. Users won't install your app that much so it goes to a balance. It depends of course on the application itself but, since you're struggling so hard to go 'web', I presume it might be a mobile version of a website. I visit a lot of websites each day but do I install everything those websites suggest? No!
petermolyneux 2 days ago 0 replies      
I built this app with web tech. It was sweaty, and I many times wished that I had gone native. But now that it's done it is something native could never be :) http://www.oneviewcalendar.com
jokoon 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd say it again: break compatibility and make an open, preparsed/compiled/binary HTML format. You'll get several order of magnitude speed increase and reduced memory consumption in browsers (parsing text is expensive). Something a little similar to microsoft .CHM file format.

So instead of having a competition in browsers, you'll have competition is the HTML parsers that developers will use.

No more messy W3C messy standard which is VERY hard and ambiguous to parse for any browser.

I've repeated that rant so often, I might start making a simple example of what I'm talking about. We just MUST abandon the text only approach. It allowed the internet to thrive without microsoft's attempt to make money with it. But today browsers are so ubiquitous, all that there is to do is enable browsers to just render binary HTML, which would just be a tree of rectangles and styles, so really simple. I think.

unicornporn 3 days ago 1 reply      
VERY relevant article: https://govinsider.asia/smart-gov/why-britain-banned-mobile-...

Ben Terrett was former head of design at the UK Government Digital Service and he wholehearted disagrees.

mark_l_watson 3 days ago 2 replies      
The author of the article ignores user experience: it is much nicer to use a web app than install yet another app. Personally I don't like installing web apps, even if they don't ask for a lot of permissions. Also re: notifications: I think most users don't like to be interupted by notifications.
z0r 3 days ago 1 reply      
>But it pisses me off every time I see a Twitter thread about how native apps are destroying the free world.

I can't understand this sentiment the author claims to see. Web apps are generally going to be less free than native apps. A native app doesn't have to be open and a web app doesn't have to be open, but a web app is definitely going to require that you connect to the host, will probably keep all your data stored away from your grasp on its servers, and may change its functionality and terms of service at any time. Native apps can share many or all of these traits but at least there's a chance you can control a copy of the software. The web is a terrible software platform for users.

eggy 2 days ago 0 replies      
> How many of our web evangelist are using an Apple laptop, the most closed ecosystem around?

He's got a point here. I gave up my MBPs for a Win 10/Linux notebook, and I've come across some opensource and commercial projects I hadn't noticed only worked on OS X and Windows (MAX/MSP). Sometimes Linux is supported, but as a third, less-supported option (Mathematica 10.4).

Maybe it's because I made the change that I am focused on this now, but every talk I watch has the Apple logo.

I've noticed some older coders with cred are rocking Lenovos and 3 to 5 year old laptops. I used keep a laptop for 4 or more years, but now I am guilty of 'upgrading' every 2 to 3 years.

ProfChronos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really excessive and sometimes completely out of the road:"Open standards are always going to be inferior to closed ones. How many of our web evangelist are using an Apple laptop, the most closed ecosystem around?"You have many open standards that are superior to closed ones, simply because it unleashes creativity of the community. Many techies use Apple because they build an amazing user experience, based on a closed but very large ecosystem - go to the App Store and you'll see most of the apps you need
ChrisArgyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you miss Ted Dziuba's writing at Unvoc you will thoroughly enjoy this article
enturn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I completely agree with the article. I joined a startup a few years ago and we went mostly native on Android and iOS with some simple screens as web views shared between them. Later on some clients wanted desktop and Windows Phone versions so we built a lesser featured version as a website to cater for any other devices (adding features as necessary). We started out as 3 software developers and a designer and are expanding. Native apps was a more cost effective way to deliver a good experience while the competition mostly developed web apps resulting in a lesser experience in my opinion.
return0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck having the users download your app. I use everything from the browser, including gmail and twitter (both load faster and don't bother me with notifications). However I hate how they prompt me to download the native apps every fucking time (obligatory). I actually wonder, what are the action rates for those app install prompts?

If you don't play games there is barely a reason to download an app ever.

And really how bad or difficult is the mobile web? Use bootstrap and you have a pretty fine experience. I think we are focusing too much on slick experience instead of offering something useful.

nikdaheratik 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can sense the frustration, but I don't think it's the web's problem necessarily, and I've done work in both areas. Some ideas just don't work well in a web browser, because despite 20 years of attempts to force it down that path, a web browser isn't the same as something like Flash, let alone a native software stack. There are more stakeholders than just the app development people, and they don't always care about the same things you do.
csours 3 days ago 0 replies      
You should still STRONGLY PREFER Web Apps. The cost and headaches of a web app will be MUCH LOWER than native or even hybrid app development.

BUT, if you need a Native App, make a Native App and don't try to fake it on Web.

Glyptodon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there some rule that startup CEOs have to say "fuck" a lot?
anuraj 3 days ago 0 replies      
We do the same - each of our Android and iOS developers can complete a medium complexity app in 2 months flat without any issues - Web - not so much - while initial work is done much faster - it takes ages to tackle responsiveness issues even with Bootstrap. So although our web apps are responsive - we still provide native Android and iOS apps to clients. I don't see web apps replacing native apps anytime soon.
takno 3 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of the issues here are with mobile Safari. I agree it completely sucks just due to how behind Safari are with ES6. On the upside the work is complete to fix this in dev releases, so there's a very good chance that we're 3 months or so away from a large step change. I'm not planning on releasing anything in the next 3 months, so that timetable is okay for me, YMMV
jtmarmon 3 days ago 0 replies      
It might be true that it's a pain in the ass to write a responsive web app, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. Users are unlikely to download a mobile app just because you say so.

Of course YMMV. If you have control over what the user does like some kind of internal enterprise app then go for it.

padseeker 3 days ago 5 replies      
I understand and empathize with the author's aggravation. But cheaper? Really?

So iOs and Android are more than 90% of the market. You are telling me that it is cheaper to build and maintain 2 separate apps and pass on the remaining part of the market than have one app that covers everything?

Android device support is supposed to be a nightmare - there are so many versions to contend with, each device manufacturer can customize things.

iOS is easier to support but fighting with Apple can be quite the ordeal.

Using the web means you bypass these other issues but have to contend with the ones cited in the article. It sounds like pick your poison.

I could conceive that after the initial cost of building 2 separate apps, for iOS and Android, that perhaps it is less aggravating and costly to maintain them, as opposed to dealing with the web. However how complicated is the UI for the web apps? Can't you keep it simple? Unless you can show numbers I cannot in my wildest dreams believe that building and maintain 1 web app is more than twice the cost of building and maintaining 2 separate native apps.

What are you building that requires building a 2016 Web app with every new feature? Maybe that is your problem.

tonyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if multiple native app is still cheaper than maintaining multiple different web builds.

Reminds me of this library I stumbled across.


People either respond with this is cool or your going against the web when I told them about it.

chadcmulligan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have a look at Delphi if you want cross platform native apps https://www.embarcadero.com/products/delphi. It's very easy, $50K would take you a very long way.
danjayh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Key takeaway: "Open standards are always going to be inferior to closed ones." This is totally true, but as the author notes, open standards still have their place.

Also, I realize he's mad, but he really needs to expand his expletive vocabulary :)

api 3 days ago 0 replies      
At age 38 I'm a little bit of an oldster for this industry, and I remember PCs in the 80s. I was a kid but that's when I learned to code and I distinctly remember what it was like.

It was a lot like today: loads of fragmentation and loads of vertical 'silos' with their own peculiar way of doing things.

Until the late 1980s you had a million little vertically integrated platforms: Apple II, TRS-80, Commodore 64, TI-99, IBM PC, etc. Even within manufacturers you had major incompatibilities, like Commodore VIC-20 vs. Commodore 64. Those were almost totally different machines.

Then the explosion of cheap IBM PC/AT clones changed all that and killed all the smaller players. There was a brief period from about 1988 until roughly 1999 when we had essentially one platform MS/Intel. That was MS-DOS and Windows, and the latter would usually run DOS apps. You also had one UI metaphor: the mouse and the keyboard and the screen. You had some hardware fragmentation but if you were targeting OS APIs and not trying to be bare metal it wasn't too hard to deal with. You mostly had one platform you could target and get 90%+ of the end-user market.

No more. Today if you want that 90th percentile of the user base you have to roll at least three completely different UIs at a minimum. Either that or you go all-web, which as this author correctly points out is a major headache if you want something that's mobile friendly. We've had good luck with bootstrap+react but it is more work than targeting a single native platform. (Not sure if I buy that many native platforms are more work... probably depends on the stack.)

On one hand all this diversity is interesting, but on the other hand if you just want to ship a damn product it's infuriating. It's also true on the backend: you have at least six Linux distributions, Docker, a million different 'stacks', clouds like Amazon building closed mainframe platforms like lambda, etc.

evo_9 3 days ago 1 reply      
Since the article doesn't touch on specific I'm wondering where React Native falls regarding all this. I'm considering using it for our pending iOS and Android apps, seems like a no-brainer at this point versus true native.
njharman 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Building" is very small part of software life cycle.

Is it also cheaper to bug fix, add features to, update apps when each native platform updates, hire developers who know details of each platform, etc.

nsxwolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
This person is angry. I can't imagine that if someone was ridiculing me on Twitter for destroying the free internet I'd care enough to start swearing up a storm.
lsiebert 3 days ago 0 replies      
My current employer bought the app I work on from my previous employer. It embeds websites in webviews with JS-Objective-C/JS-Java bridges so they can make native calls. You get most if not all the benefits of native apps, native UI when you really want it, quicker iteration then the App Store, and can build in whatever stack you want. Of course I've had to follow an intermittent bug from the rails back end, to the angular front end, to the native java and up to the companies api servers before, so YMMV.
WalterSear 3 days ago 1 reply      
No it's not. Get better designers - ones who understand responsive design, and developers who speak modern javascript.
gallonofmilk 3 days ago 0 replies      
at first I rolled my eyes but by the end I was filled with sympathy and agreement! spot on!
hartator 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's interesting to know that native apps need to be responsive as well.
jtwebman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has he looked at mixed tech like React? Get web tech with native controls!
mkem 2 days ago 0 replies      
The requirement logic of my benefactors necessitated no less...
fallo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I'll take all of that instead of the fg cp the native gives me from all the bright minds at ge, ae and mt, anytime. The future is here.
Bino 2 days ago 0 replies      
You're clearly doing it wrong...
myoxide1337 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes sense and reminds me of 2006-2007 when this was a big topic in the US with Android and Windows mobile apps with Apple in the passenger seat
sidneys 2 days ago 0 replies      
you're wrong. dead wrong. about 2012 was the turning point in this game...
mmanfrin 3 days ago 0 replies      
But which is easier to maintain?
jcoffland 3 days ago 0 replies      
What this article needs is more F-bombs. Otherwise it's ranty but makes some good points.
dalacv 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the last line
myoxide1337 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes sense
chriswwweb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think "web apps" are as problematic today than they were several years ago. I don't say this because I hope web apps will be the future of app development, but because together with a few other devs we have built such an app at the company I work for. I think the result is a success but unfortunately I didnt have enough time to write about our experience yet. I hope I will have the time to so anytime soon.

Yes the development costs are super important, especially for small companies / startups. As important is the performance of your app(s) and also super important is the usability of such an app. If the development costs are much higher than building native apps besides your website, then you failed. If your app is slow and unresponsive then you failed. If your users dislike the app because it is not smooth like a native app and feels sluggish then you failed.

But does this mean that building mobile web apps is impossible, I dont think so. We did several things that helped us to keep the costs as low as possible and for sure much lower than if we would have written server, apps and client code using different languages / frameworks and libraries.

Our server side code, the code of our web apps as well as (obviously) our client (browser) code are written in javascript. We have used typescript to write all our code, this allowed us to use the latest ES6 features and gave us features like strict typing. The ES6 features we have most used are promises and classes. Typescript compiles our ES6 code into ES5 UMD modules. We choosed Visual Studio as IDE as it compiles typescript on the fly, which allowed as to quickly test new code almost in real time. We also used the node js tools for visual studio which allowed us to use the node js debugger from within our IDE. Setting breakpoints (typescript creates Javascript to TypeScript source maps), reading stack traces or watching variables was a piece of cake.

We have built an isomorphic website first. Our server side got built on top of express js (node js). All our modules and libraries are UMD modules, which means that more than 95% of the code we wrote is the same that we use on the server and in the client. We have built a server views renderer using Backbone and domino. Our collections and models are the same on the server and in the client, the only difference are the adapters we wrote to make ajax or server side requests. We use the same router on the server and in the client, which means the first page that gets served is always built on the server but the next pages are built in the client. This also means that crawlers can harvest our pages but for users we only retrieve the data needed to build the pages from server and do all other work in the client, which makes the pages load very quickly. We also had to write a cache library once, the only difference again are their adapters, the server adapter of our caching library saves objects into redis while our client adapter saves them in IndexedDB. A lot of things needed to built the pages get cached too, so each template, each translation and so on only needs to get fetched once by the client and can be reused until we publish an updated version of the item.

Our web apps are built using phonegap. Again 95% of the code of our apps is the same as the code that is being used by the client (browsers). Obviously we had to write clean and powerful code to ensure that our apps come as close as possible to the speed that people expect from a native app. We had to track every minor memory leak, especially those that occur when binding events to ensure that our apps use a minimum of memory. This was not only important for the web apps but also for the node js code. A memory leak is something you really dont want to have when writing a nodejs app ;).

I think what helped us to keep the costs low, was that we used the same language and therefore resulting code for the client, server and apps. But this did not only allow us to work quickly, it will also allow us to add new features quickly in the future. If we now write a new feature, as soon as we release it, it will be available to users that use our website as well as users that are using our Android / iOS apps either on their phone or tablet. The same is true for bugs, if we find a bug in the client and fix it, it will be fixed for all our platforms.

The other big advantage was that all the know-how we had but especially the one we acquired during the time we needed to build our project did benefit all our platforms. We didnt have to optimize our Java code for Android our Objective-C or Swift code for iOS and our PHP, Ruby or .Net code for the server. We just needed to optimize our Javascript code. We reduced the amount of platform / language specific problems to a minimum. It is really great when all your devs use (speak) the same language ;).

sockopen 3 days ago 0 replies      
dang 3 days ago 4 replies      
Although a rant, this is also pretty substantive. We've replaced the baity title with a representative sentence from the article in the hope that commenters will follow suit.
moribondus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Consider the following problem. If this very question is relevant, then your project is not.

Would it have mattered what they had picked for Google Search? A web site or an app? No. It would not have made any difference.

If what you are building is compelling to its users, they will want it badly. Otherwise, regardless of how well you package it, it will be a waste of time.

You see, for example, companies choose SAP, and then they buy the servers, desktops, and other hardware and software that is suitable for running in a SAP context.

Nobody cares whether the SAP client is a desktop GUI or a web client. It is immaterial. In other words, if that kind of things matter, your program doesn't.

3 days ago 3 days ago 1 reply      
Personal attacks aren't allowed on Hacker News. We ban accounts that do this, so please don't. Instead, find a civil, substantive way to make your point.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11871902 and marked it off-topic.

prozaic 3 days ago 0 replies      
if web is future then future is now!
meerita 3 days ago 0 replies      
1 dev = all5 device dev = 5 apps

1 dev 100k1*5 500k in salaries

Kazamai 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess he hasn't heard of React Native...
mknocker 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about developing a core codebase to build an app for different platforms (including the web)? There are framework out there that can help you do that. At least in C++ (this is the language I use the most).
josh_carterPDX 3 days ago 1 reply      
And if only there were solutions that made it easier to prototype and get your backend running faster. It could make it even cheaper to make native apps. end: self serving response :)
Gawker Files for Bankruptcy, Will Be Put Up for Auction wsj.com
508 points by apsec112  2 days ago   541 comments top 45
grellas 2 days ago 26 replies      
A few thoughts:

1. The pressure point here was a court ruling declining to stay enforcement of the $140M judgment pending appeal. This left Gawker having to post a $50M bond in order to avoid enforcement proceedings by which its assets could have been seized and its business literally dismantled. Gawker may or may not ultimately prove to have a successful basis upon which to get this judgment reversed but, without a stay of enforcement, it had no way of staying alive until it could have the matter decided by the appellate courts. No stay, no hope.

2. The bankruptcy filing, then, forces Gawker to give up its business but gives a vehicle by which the parties in interest behind the company can get $100+M by which to continue the fight through appeal in hopes of getting the judgment reversed and presumably leaving them with some significant value to salvage from what is now a desperate situation.

3. Concerning the social policy question here, it has repeatedly been framed as whether it is proper for a super-wealthy individual to fund another party's litigation to get payback or for some other suspect reason and what implications this has on the news media. This is a proper question but it is framed too narrowly. The broader question is whether the law should permit any third-party funding of litigation where the funder has otherwise has no connection with the merits of the dispute. Historically, the answer to that question was an emphatic no. Indeed, that sort of activity was defined as a crime - specifically, the crime of "maintenance." The statutes defining this crime originated in England and dated back the 1200's and so could truly be called ancient of origin. Basically, the idea back then was that feudal lords should not be permitted to use their wealth to interfere with legal process and thereby to potentially corrupt. By the 1700's, William Blackstone summed up the nature of the offense (as part of his famous work summing up all of the English common law) by defining maintenance as "officious intermeddling in a suit that no way belongs to one" and called it an "offense against public justice, as it keeps alive strife and contention and perverts the remedial process of the law into an engine of oppression." In contrast to this long-established hostility toward the interfering use of wealth to influence the judicial process, modern attitudes (dating back at least 50 years) came to see more litigation as being good for society as it could be used as a tool to help correct inequities in society - hence the litigation explosion. Owing to this changed attitude, many erstwhile barriers to open-ended litigation came tumbling down and along with them came the near-universal repeal of the crime of maintenance (and the related offenses of "champerty" and "barratry"). With this repeal, it became open season for any wealthy person wanting to fund anybody else's litigation for whatever purpose suited him. If people have a problem with that, that is the issue that should be addressed and not a narrow issue involving added protections for the press only. Litigation abuse is litigation abuse; if it is bad for the press, it is bad as well for other victims in society.

4. To illustrate how this sort of intermeddling tainted the processes in this case: lawyers routinely will add claims that will bring in insurance defense coverage to ensure that they can collect on any judgment but here the lawyers were directed to exclude a claim that would have allowed Gawker to bring in its insurer to cover costs of defense and potentially any judgment; parties also routinely will make serious efforts to settle any high-stakes litigation at various critical points but here it was all scorched-earth all the way to the bitter end with no prospect of the parties achieving a reasonable settlement along the way.

I don't think too many people will shed a tear over the demise of Gawker but the public policy issue here is an important one. Can the modern mindset - so enamored with the supposed benefits of expanding redress through litigation - ever go back to reinstating laws forbidding "maintenance"? I doubt it. But perhaps the time is right for a debate and reconsideration. I think we are otherwise left a little unsettled over what the promiscuous scattering of third-party money throughout the courts might do. Whatever it is, it likely is not good.

whack 2 days ago 11 replies      
Libel and slander have no place in a functioning democracy. By building an entire business model around such practices, Gawker is not only spreading disinformation, it is also crowding out more reputable news sources that could have better helped inform the public.

The only criticism I can give in this entire tale, is that it shouldn't take a billionaire to sue and win judgement against slanderous publishers. Such recourse should be made available to every common man, regardless of wealth.

But still, progress is only ever made, one step at a time. Good riddance to Gawker.

nostromo 2 days ago 23 replies      
Gawker may have been terrible, but we should all be a bit concerned at the precedent this sets.

It's sort of like defending the free speech of terrible groups like the KKK. We do it because we treasure free speech, not because we support the KKK.

I generally have positive feelings about Thiel, but his actions here make me very uneasy. I worry that the aristocracy will now use this method to try and close down unfavorable media outlets. I believe this will have a chilling effect on the media in the US.

josh_carterPDX 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gawker didn't fail because of anything other than a complete lack of integrity. They were aggressive, manipulative, and unethical. I remember we had a co-working space where Gawker had some people. We couldn't say shit out loud and had to make sure our screens could not be seen by anyone else in the building. There's nothing more unnerving than actually feeling as though someone was watching/stalking you. This company and the people they employed were vultures. To call this thing a publication is an insult to people who are actually digging up stories that have an impact to society. This was worse than the National Enquirer and the world is a better place without them part of it. Good riddance.
dh8 2 days ago 1 reply      
Coming out of the closet was a really painful process for myself and some of my gay friends. The pain that gawker has caused to many gay individuals is pathetic and indefensible (outing theil, publishing industry executive, etc.). I will have a drink to their downfall tonight.
baldfat 2 days ago 8 replies      
Messed up lawsuit and I actually don't know what to think.

1) Gawker was garbage dwelling story makers. I am glad they aren't going to do stories anymore.

2) Who will it be the next time something happens like this will it be a actual journalist and good content producer that gets sued to death? Scared for journalist????

Also would be nice to see LifeHacker survive this.

rm_-rf_slash 2 days ago 1 reply      
Gossip rags come and go. As long as there are celebrities there will be celebrity tabloids.

Privately funding a lawsuit for someone else so you can settle a grudge is ethically dubious, at best.

The American system of allowing juries instead of judges to set reward amounts only ultimately benefits overpaid lawyers, and society as a whole is worse off from the damages of frivolous lawsuits.

That's all I think there really is to say about that...

julian88888888 2 days ago 0 replies      
here's a summary:

Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy Friday and the company will be put up for auction after a judge ruled that a $140 million jury judgment against it in a costly legal battle with former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan would stand.

The sale auction will begin with an opening bid of $100 million from the digital media company and publisher Ziff Davis LLC, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The sale was triggered after the judge overseeing the invasion-of-privacy case brought by Hulk Hoganwhose real name is Terry Bolleadeclined to issue a stay pending Gawkers appeal.

Proceeds from a sale will go into a fund to finance further litigation costs and cover whatever damages may ultimately be leveled following the appeals process, which could take years to resolve.

Two weeks ago, it emerged that Silicon Valley billionaire and investor Peter Thiel has been financing Mr. Bolleas legal fight and other such battles involving people who Mr. Thiel feels have been targeted unfairly by the media company.

adamnemecek 2 days ago 6 replies      
And nothing of value was lost.
mevile 2 days ago 6 replies      
I don't like Gawker, but I like the idea of a billionaire being able to bankrupt news sites that he doesn't like even less.
danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sad in a way. AFAIK, Gawker is not only one of the few independent online media companies (VICE/Vox/BuzzFeed/BusinessInsider are heavily funded/owned by massive media conglomerates), it was one of the few media companies period making a healthy profit:


> The companys revenue had grown from about $5.3 million in 2006 to $43.8 million in 2014. It was consistently profitable, with a 2014 operating income of $6.7 million. Most importantly, it had an ambitious plan to create a lucrative new revenue stream by monetizing third-party content on its proprietary online publishing platform, Kinja, that promised to deliver the site from many of the increasing pressures facing ad-supported digital publishing.

I wouldn't be surprised if Gawker were the only online-only media company that was making profits in the range of millions. That Hogan video, which couldn't have brought in more than a good week's worth of traffic, was a fucking dumb way to flush a nearly billion dollar company down the toilet. For legal reasons, Gawker has publicly stood by the former editor who published the post (and then who went on to create another Gawker-like site [1], that immediately folded because of non-traffic), but I wonder if Gawker employees are privately treating him like a pariah.

[1] http://ratter.com/

soneca 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMO, Thiel did not bought the justice, it only worked out fine for him because a just judge ruled that Gawker was wrong according to the law.

And those who think he de facto bought the law; they should fight for the justice system itself to be reformed, not shaming or trying to regulate who pays the lawyers bill (although I think it could be a public information).

markplindsay 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's what happens when you're a news organization critical of Silicon Valley, and a tech billionaire doesn't like it. Which media outlet is next on Thiel's hit list?
soheil 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's worthwhile to remember free speech is not absolute. There are several cases where it's not considered free speech, here are some examples:Obscenity, Fighting words, Defamation (includes libel, slander) Child pornography, Perjury, Blackmail, Incitement to imminent lawless action, True threats, Solicitations to commit crimes.

I know people love to protect freedom of speech and I'm on that bandwagon, but please let's remember just because it appears freedom of speech is being violated doesn't mean it is (e.g. in cases were most people don't support something and it appears the mob rule is triumph, it should indeed be sign that something may be wrong but let's not use that sign as enough evidence that free speech is violated.) Sometimes it's not the freedom of speech that is being violated, but some person's rights.

jshevek 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a fan of privacy rights, this pleases me.

Also, sites like Gawker benefit from encouraging the most base aspects of our culture. Seeing one head of the hydra getting chopped off isn't really progress, but it is satisfying.

univalent 2 days ago 1 reply      
The size of the award is insane. Wrongful death suits are awarded far lower amounts.
olliej 2 days ago 3 replies      
Its amazing how many people are coming to claim this is "100% awesome", but in another thread will say that reddit closing threads that share stolen nudes or preteen porn is censorship that should be illegal and is demonstrating the power of SJWs.
Fej 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing of value was lost. Good riddance.

Of course, they may very well just end up under a new owner, which might change things... a little... hopefully.

pmarreck 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm torn between everyone having their privacy and ripping the band-aid off by exposing everyone's private life at once so we see how things really are instead of how we think them to be

For instance, I'd bet that many marriages are largely keeping up appearances while hiding some big secrets which would put the whole concept of "Western marriage" at risk (perhaps justifiably)

leothekim 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing I have trouble reconciling is that the merits of the case were judged in a court of law and found in favor for Hogan and against Gawker. AFAICT, the fact that Thiel was funding Hogan's case only became widely known after the judgment. Honest question - would there have been the same judgment against Gawker if Thiel didn't fund the case?

I also have trouble understanding how what Gawker did as ethical journalism, relativistically speaking or otherwise. It's hard to compare a sex tape of a former wrestler to uncovering scandals in a major institution, like the Washington Post did for Watergate, the NY Times did with the Pentagon Papers, the Boston Globe with the sexual predation in the Catholic church, or even what every major media outlet published with the Monica Lewinsky affair. Publishing this sex tape was for clickbait, which is purely about metrics and much less about holding our institutions and public figures accountable for unethical or illegal activity.

corin_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
'The media company [...] had assets of $50 to $100 million and liabilities of $100 million to $500 million, filings showed.'


cloudjacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody want to set up a group buy for Jezebel? I want to shape what women think about to be more in line with my image of reality.

partially kidding

igorgue 2 days ago 2 replies      
Thin skinned billionaires...
intrasight 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good riddance. They took a gamble and lost. That's business. That's life.
hoodoof 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will Darth Thiel now give Hulk Hogan the money he won't get from the court outcome?

Or is Hulk Hogan left as just a pawn in the game, with the court victory but no payout?

ryanlol 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Thiel going public crushed any hopes Gawker may have had of being able to acquire funding to fight the lawsuits.

Very well played by Thiel, whether or not you agree with what he did.

badloginagain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cant read because of paywall, but I have been following along with this "dramady." I wonder what form of invasive media will fill the void in Gawkers wake. If anyone thinks this is the end of Gawkers distasteful form of journalism they are very wrong.

Gawker worked. It was nasty, but it worked. Companies will form and fill the gap; but they'll be more resilient because they'll remember how Gawker fell.

elcapitan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what kind of horrible stuff they'll put up for sale that they probably didn't dare to publish themselves.
danvoell 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does the auction include debt obligations?
incompletewoot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Thiel will follow the management around waiting to pounce on them doing something else, just to solidify his brand. Kinda like the IRS loves seeing reporting of people suffering from IRS & tax problems as an advertisement to not mess with the IRS.
alistproducer2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any lawyer here care ti tell why the following would not work?

1. Start new corporation2. Buy new set of domain name with said corporation3. Redirect Gawker (and other gawker sites) to new domains until they sell the carcass of the now-defunct Gawker.

willvarfar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just don't get why Gawker was an American company. If you want to do something sue-worthy, just base your legal self in some uncooperative country e.g. Russia?
jonah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Jalopnik survives largely intact. It's one of the better/more entertaining general car sites put there.
BFatts 2 days ago 0 replies      
YAY! Score 1 for decency in the media!
jagger27 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whatever the outcome, I hope Jalopnik sticks around.
meira 2 days ago 0 replies      
Liberals cheers for this, and get angry when Brazil blocks Whatsapp or Facebook. Logic. None.
sunstone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gawking at Gawker circling the sewer drain.
geerlingguy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Some context, for those who haven't been following:

 - Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War with Gawker[1] - Hulk Hogan awarded payout over Gawker sex tapes[2] - $115M verdict in Hulk Hogan sex-tape lawsuit could wipe out Gawker[3]
[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11774588

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11315985

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11318100

2 days ago 2 days ago 5 replies      
"A racist billionaire[1]"

Penn Jillette has a great saying on this (paraphrasing):

"Unless the person has explicitly said they're racist, claiming someone is racist requires the power to look into someone's heart, which no one has. The KKK and stormfront are very open that they are racists, and you can call those people racist because they say they are. You cannot make these sorts of claims without putting words into other people's mouth".

And you're putting words in someone's mouth. According to that article, Thiel believes that affirmative action is not helping the poor or disenfranchised, but is rather helping the middle and upper class people. Extrapolating racism from his statements is a giant leap in logic.

2 days ago 2 days ago 3 replies      
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11878202 and marked it off-topic.
beatpanda 2 days ago 3 replies      
Lovely to see Hacker News praising the wisdom of the billionaire who just managed to shut down a press outlet he didn't like. This new era of feudalism is off to a great start.
nekosune 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh dear
benten10 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't anger the Billionaire. He can fund the Lawsuits longer than you can stay solvent.
synaesthesisx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, schadenfreude at its finest!
mc32 2 days ago 0 replies      
Purveyors of news take note. Provide news. Don't engage in useless insight into peoples' personal peccadilloes which have little if any bearing on people at large. Don't be lured by the clickbait revenue model or trade in inconsequential lurid tales and try to pedal it as hard news.
Why I turned down $500K and shut down my startup medium.com
645 points by jason_tko  4 days ago   174 comments top 41
timoth3y 3 days ago 15 replies      
Hi. Tim here.

I'm delighted that this article struck such a chord. I'll try to answer the most common questions here. I wish I could answer everyone directly.

1) I called it off before anyone sent money or quit their jobs. The only one who lost money or a job because of ContractBeast was me. If the money was in the bank and the team on board we would have gone ahead. That's why I had to make that decision when I did.

2) I'm not saying there was no solution. There might have been, but the team and I could not find one. Think of it this way. You and a team decide to summit a mountain. It's a high-risk endeavor. After weeks of going over your maps and equipment you just can't see a plausible way up. Do you call it off or set out hoping you'll be able to figure it out. It doesn't mean no one can do it. I means I could not do it with that team and that equipment.

3) Why didn't we leverage the contract approval features that customers loved? We tried. The problem was that those kinds of approvals were not core workflow for SMBs. It was useful when importing contract templates, but was not used much after that. Nice feature but not important enough to get companies to sigh up for multiple seats, which is what we needed.

4) Whats going to happen to the code and to Tim? No decisions yet. I'm open to suggestions on both counts.

santoshalper 3 days ago 1 reply      
It sucks when you realize you have built something that users like, but they don't really NEED. I like the good habits analogy - I built several great workflow apps for a Fortune 500 company in the past few years, but discovered most users don't really want the yoke of workflow and there wasn't enough immediate lift to tempt them.

Sorry man. Good call not to waste a year of your life.

zer00eyz 3 days ago 2 replies      
The underlying idea behind what he did here is sometimes called Ethnography. There was another great article a while back on this going on at adobe/photo shop: https://medium.com/startup-study-group/my-two-years-as-an-an...

As far as tools go, ethnography can be very powerful in the right hands.

lordnacho 3 days ago 4 replies      
"When users are unhappy but cant explain exactly why, they often express that dissatisfaction as a series of tangential, trivial feature requests."

This bit resonates the most with me. I worked on a project worth little traction where we'd keep getting feature requests from the client facing team members for things that were of minor value but sometimes major effort. It grinds you down over time as you realise there's no real demand. Eldorado isn't over the next hill.

Sometimes it feels like the people giving feedback are just too eager to please you with positive feedback.

capkutay 3 days ago 5 replies      
"I was deciding whether this venture was worth committing to another year of 70+ hour weeks. I need a higher level of certainty than investors do because my time is more valuable to me than their money is to them. Investors place bets in a portfolio of companies, but I only have one life."

That's the key quote in the article. It's a fair decision from his standpoint but I wonder if saying that will lead investors to question his determination in the future (if he tries a new venture). I suppose the investors could also appreciate that he didn't want to waste more of their money if he didn't believe in the product.

encoderer 3 days ago 6 replies      
I have to say, I don't agree with this part at all:

"But most of the time, customers dont really want the the features they are asking for. At least not very badly."

Customer feedback drives an absurd amount of our roadmap at Cronitor. We have a good idea of the many shortcomings of our product and are constrained primarily by resources in developing it faster. When a customer -- especially somebody on a trial -- puts their thumb on the scale of a specific flaw or deficiency, we look at it as an opportunity to seriously delight that user and at the same time level-up the product for all users after. We don't build everything asked for, but I would say "most of the time, customers know exactly what they need, and we try to give it to them within our ability."

A specific example for us would be Etsy, who uses Cronitor on a part of their business and during evaluation asked for a couple API endpoints to expose more advanced functionality.

angelbob 3 days ago 0 replies      
This story has a ridiculous amount of integrity. You did what was right, even when convention went the other way.

Future investor reaction to it will tell us what they think of actually bucking convention to do the right thing.

hyperpallium 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess that's why this top-down market hasn't been disrupted. This guy is seeing clearly. Cutting the old makes way for the new - it would be better if I did this with my own zombie business.

And now, the armchair brainstorming: focus on the "contract review and approval" immediate gratification and marginal user wins - if not sufficient benefit for them to buy, make it multi-month free trial, make it a year. After some "months of use", users get the delayed gratification. They become your sales force from within, and CIO's notice the long-term benefits, validated within their own company, and mandate its use top-down.

It's a long slow burn and mightn't work.

EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
People live lives. Companies create products.

Sometimes what you build becomes bigger than you. If you want to quit, and everyone else wants to keep going why not let someone else run the show?

If you started a chess club, or even a chatroom, and had no time (as the guy says, he only has one life) to be an admin, would you just close down the whole thing and kick everyone out? Maybe. If they really were so passionate they'd pick up the pieces and start their own thing. Your old group might have a way to transfer the accumulated wealth to the new group. Instead of just losing it.

I remember writing an article about this a couple years ago called the Politics of Groups:


Here is an excerpt:

If the individual - the risk is that the individual may have too much power over others who come to rely on the stream. They may suddenly stop publishing it, or cut off access to everyone, which would hurt many people. (I define hurt in terms of needs or strong expectations of people that form over time.)

tyingq 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having some experience dealing with the "purchasing" side of the house at large companies, I can guess part of what might have gone wrong.

Contract Beast's customers were likely exclusively these "purchasing" people, and thus, that's where the feature requests and feedback were coming from.

But, in the end, the success of the product within a customer company is often more driven by the "non purchasing" users...the actual departments that are trying to buy (or sell) something. It's not unusual for the wants/needs of these people to be completely different than the purchasing department.

I watched several attempts for contract management software fail because of this. In the end, what won out was narrowing the solution down to the biggest pain point...implementing just e-signatures. That got rid of all the manual print / sign / scan-or-fax cycle, which everyone could agree on.

pookeh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Often times, the products we make should really be features of a larger offering. Did you guys explore building on top of your contract tech or getting acquired by a company that requires your tech? for example:1. Marketplace of services that need contract signing between parties.2. Project management app for SMBs or freelancers3. Legal document authoring app that extends to contract signing.

There are prolly more ...

e12e 3 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like most of the customers had a flawed process - or perhaps an actual process that was different from the process they felt they should have. Perhaps they were even in breach of some guidelines legal had drawn up, or even laws or statutes on acquirement.

And it sounds like the product automated a good, sound process. One that was different from the customer's actual, current process.

I don't know how one could hope to sell a new process (incidentally along with an automation framework) without massive training, and, well, consulting.

I'm a little surprised they didn't take the opportunity to pivot. Maybe none of their beta users were interested in the 100x(?) investment buying such a package would cost? It sounds like they found a different market, smaller in number of customers, larger in revenue - and chose to walk away because: software is fun, human process is hard and boring?

It's a valid choice to be sure, but it strikes me as a little odd. I thought the idealised, naive idea of a computer system being more important than the human systems it enables was more of a delusion limited to Silicon Valley, than a general problem.

I'm reminded of how model-view-controller was internally known as model-view-controller-user, and how shortening it to mvc[1] was probably a terrible mistake that obscured most of the valuable idea behind the concept (that of mapping the users mental model of domain knowledge to widgets on the screen and on to the data models used by the software).

[1] according to a talk Trygve gave, but it kind of shines through in his brief history of mvc too: https://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/themes/mvc/mvc-index.html

epynonymous 3 days ago 1 reply      
that's why i firmly believe you have to find the idea that you're really interested in because that's what will pull you through those 70+ hour work weeks or through those days where you're on the brink of failure wanting to fold shop. there are many ideas that are interesting and probably could be good businesses (lifestyle or startup), but can you overcome all those things not just on sheer will power, but just because that's what you enjoy spending your time on?
chalam 3 days ago 0 replies      

Interesting comment in there about 'Approvals' being one of the most used feature. Why couldn't you build around that? A more generic approvals solution for any kind of contract.

reilly3000 3 days ago 1 reply      
Moving down market is tough. The reason why enterprise ecosystems can flourish is that consultants have a symbolic relationship with software, act as a silent sales force, drive legitimacy and solve the soft issues that make software projects fail. Creating a simple CRM system isn't that hard, but getting mass adoption AND offering a customizable product takes hand holding. Content alone doesn't hold hands, nor does (most) UX. Software that changes how people's jobs work (accounting, CRM, EHR, etc) naturally invites pushback because PEOPLE HATE CHANGE.

Maybe the next generation of UX will have change management built into the system, not just tours and tooltips. For now, the burden of software adoption is best served with donuts and somebody how cares enough to make it work for the business that is investing in it.

selectron 4 days ago 2 replies      
Quite interesting. Why couldn't you build in a reward system to using the product? Similar to how games like WOW do?
agentgt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know much about contract management so take most of what I have to say as an ignorant opinion.

I'm trying to figure out how ContractBeast's problem of continuous usage is any different than almost all the business tools out there that require human intervention (with the exception of email, and MS office suite).

It seems every investor and entrepreneur has this desire to make "crack" and not just tools. Good tools don't need to be used all the time. They don't need to provide some sort of gamification, feedback loop, or enjoyment.

As for money making good business tools don't need even need to be used by the user... in fact they really should be automated. I know this because we had some of the some problems ContractBeast did and the key was not getting the endusers involved at all. Automate and integrate so they are almost out of the loop completely (again I don't know much about CLM... maybe this isn't possible).

As far as top down selling it is almost impossible in the B2B market to do something different. Managers force users to use tools and those users use MS Office most of the time but those tools still get bought and eventually those tools do provide value (aka sales force).

spupy 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Ive started four companies in the past with a mixture of exits and bankruptcies, so I understand that this is what startups are supposed to do, [...]."

As someone completely unfamiliar with the world of startups, this sentence baffles me. If this describes your track record, how do you even get funding? Obviously I'm not an investor, but this sentence alone is a massive red flag.

Steeeve 3 days ago 0 replies      
500K is not a lot of time. It's six months with a small team and maybe not even that considering you need to either have time to pitch another round of funding or get to the point where you can pay the bills independently. If you don't see a path to something strong enough to get you to the next level in that amount of time, there is no choice but to walk away.

Every idea to fix it takes time to develop, and with whatever time remains you have to make progress with sales and the existing customer base. With any given product and the right team you can get there, but the only way to get the right team to commit is with a passionate belief that you will get there before you run out of money.

If you spend the time trying to build a roadmap out of whatever options you can come up with, and none of those options give confidence given time and budget constraints... well, then you've done all you can do. It's not hard to come up with a list of reasonable options to move forward with, but it is hard to come up with one that's worth committing to.

If you've grown to the point where you can man up and make the decision to walk away early, you have a good future.

arcticfox 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's pretty surprising to me that there was no way to shift enough of the value gain from "huge gains in efficiency" forward to keep people motivated about the product.

For example: use a chunk of the $500k as rewards to push people through the initial adoption. Then presumably the real gains would take over and they'd be happy customers.

matchagaucho 3 days ago 0 replies      
The challenge with CLM is that you're constantly competing with users desire to use MS Word.

Moving everything to the cloud would be far more efficient. But the corpus of legal text captured in Word and Legal's preference for redlining email attachments is the status quo.

veritas213 2 days ago 0 replies      
"ContractBeast did not address the problem of providing a significant, consistent and immediate benefit"

Neither does insurance but its pretty much a no brainer for most companies.Contact management isnt suppose to give instant gratification. Its supposed to provide peace of mind knowing you will not miss important dates in the FUTURE.

Hate to say it but Mr Romero seems to have given up way too early. All the smart people on HN someone will pickup the baton and run with this idea.

Dwolb 3 days ago 0 replies      
If we're going with the whole human centered design approach here the writing doesn't sound as though you were thorough enough in the research, analysis, and synthesis.

There should have been some guideposts here: who were the power users? what did they love? who were the huge detractors? what was their big issue? how did ContractBeast fit into the ideal world? how were people splitting their work between the old system and ContractBeast? were there network effects for the old system?

Yeah we can look at some sort of short term win and long term gain framework, but it's pretty reductionist to a) only depend on that framework and b) not be able to come up with any solutions to fulfill short term wins.

advertising 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the right move.

If you had discovered this when you were 6 months in, spent 50% of the cash and had employees would you have made the same decision? To pull the plug and return remaining capital vs trying to make it work.

icu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the entrepreneur failed to assess why it had to be him to solve the market problem and give birth to the company.

Sometimes it's not necessary to assess this because you are compelled to act and you can't stop.

In this case I think had he asked this hard question sooner he would have found his heart wasn't in it. Either way dropping it was the right thing to do.

In comparison my 'why' for the thing I'm working on makes my soul burn and is a limitless well of determination.

Call it 'Conviction/Opportunity' pull.

dharma1 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't believe in what you're doing then I think it could have been a mistake to take the money and carry on.

If the team and investors believed in the product, perhaps you could have asked if some of the current team were willing to take it on, and make it work. You could have retained a bit of equity for the year and the hard work you put in so far without having to commit any longer yourself.

ztratar 3 days ago 2 replies      
"It would have been different if we had been debating which plan among several to implement or how to shore up specific weaknesses, but we had nothing."

I don't really understand "having nothing" -- you're either creating value or you're not. You guys spotted a real problem, but your v1 solution was meh. There were certainly multiple ways out (and not just tack on gamification), and even if some were long-shots, the uniqueness of a startup is to place those bets.

rkwz 3 days ago 2 replies      
> About 35% of our users continued to use the system at least three times per week after completing registration.

OT, but curious, how is it possible to get this kind of engagement data?

Querying DB to get number of logins per week? But that doesn't mean that they're "using" the system.

Google Analytics? I'm not aware of any such GA feature

Third party analytics?


amenghra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Selling products to SMBs is hard. Most small businesses will often take the free trials but won't be willing to pay for a product if it entails a financial commitment.

I have seen a small companies use student licenses instead of paying for the more expensive commercial license in order to save every possible penny.

dnautics 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why not make an open offer to anyone who thinks they can solve this problem and turn this around?
Chyzwar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nope, His business was perfectly reasonable. He could become next Taleo/Atlassian/Slack, grow slower but dominate space. He only needed to extend offer with with self hosted version.
frozenport 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't you just charge them $2.99 for each contract, and go with volume?
spectrum1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. However given its by a ~4 time founder the logic to shut it down doesn't apply to most people reading it (first time founders).
chrismcb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the fact that this was in private beta had nothing to do with the fact customers weren't using it all the time.
leroy_masochist 3 days ago 0 replies      
> I left my job in January so i could work on ContractBeast 70+ hours a week. The rest of the team kept their day jobs. That was fine. It made my final decision easier.

Reading between the lines here, I'm picking up some resentment. I think an underlying cause of the decision to walk away from ContractBeast might have been a specific subtype of founder burnout -- the kind that happens when you feel like you're pulling more than your share of the weight, and/or you feel like you're more committed to the company/project than the rest of your team is.

There's a downvoted comment at the bottom of this thread stating that the commenter would never give this guy money. That's a bit harsh, but at another point in the comment he makes a very (IMO) valid observation that burnout is at play here and the author should have taken some time off. That rings true to me.


> Weeks of brainstorming and dozens of hypotheses later, we had nothing. Not a single, plausible way of providing our users with the instant gratification their cerebella so desperately crave.

> With no clear path forward, investors ready to wire funds, and the team ready to quit their day jobs, I decided to pull the plug.

Is it just me or does this seem like there's a big hole in the plot here? The whole team spent several weeks trying to figure out how the product was going to get traction, came up with zero good ideas, and everyone's still ready to quit their jobs and work on this full-time?

Assuming this is accurate and absent further details, I can think of two non-mutually-exclusive hypotheses for how this might have actually happened:

1) "We had nothing" was really "I had nothing". Either because of a failure on the part of the author to communicate with the team, or their indifference upon hearing the author's description of the problem in question, the only person really working on solving the problem was the author. To the extent that this was the case, it would certainly have exacerbated the "I'm working way harder on this than my cofounders are" burnout described above.

2) It's also possible that the other prospective cofounders and/or early team members were aware of the headwinds facing ContractBeast and just really, really hated their day jobs and were thinking, "I honestly don't even give a shit if this company works out, I just want to go somewhere I can get paid while not having to deal with my current boss, and if it fails it's not a big deal, it's a startup, they fail all the time and I'll be able at a minimum to use the newfound flexibility in my schedule and relative seniority in the organization to make myself much more available for interviews at other companies."

redneck_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tl;dr I burned out.
getgoingnow 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why is Paul Graham defining a word that's already well defined and understood? Go to Google and type in "define startup" and you will see that:

 startup = a newly established business
I think the reason he wants to redefine the term is so that people associate starting a business with rapid growth, which will benefit him personally. How do you achieve growth in almost all cases? By taking VC money. What happens when you take VC money? Investors expect an exit. So, even though he says you don't need to take venture funding or 'exit', he really wants people to do that, because he can make money from it.

moribondus 2 days ago 0 replies      
ContractBeast would have accumulated lots of data that would be compelling for its users. The only problem is that you cannot hand out that data directly: How much did someone else pay for the same contract? What conditions did he get? If you find a way to effectively use this information without actually revealing it, you would have found the compelling feature that you were looking for. ContractBeast would have become the go-to place to check if your contract actually makes sense.
DarkIye 3 days ago 0 replies      
it was a bad idea #savedyouaclick
vinceguidry 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like the marketing was all wrong. If you're selling to big business, you need a big business sales process. If you can't afford that, you're just pissing in the wind. He was focused on product when he should have been focusing on his sales and on-boarding.

Patrick McKenzie has demonstrated that you can do high-touch corporate sales as a small organization or even as a single person. He just needed to figure out how.

ChicagoDave 3 days ago 5 replies      
After this, I'd never give this guy time or money and I doubt anyone else will either. No matter how shitty you feel about your start-up, if you have a willing team and cash, you should see it through. Being an entrepreneur isn't always about having all of the answers. It's very often about not knowing the answers and figuring things out. Especially if you have a team and cash flow and investors.

I think this guy needed to take a day off or seven and get his head back on straight. I'm nearly positive every entrepreneur goes through the "doubt" process many times in a given start-up.

It's the person that figures out how to renew themselves that ends up succeeding.

Coursera shuts access to old platform courses reachtarunhere.github.io
567 points by reachtarunhere  1 day ago   246 comments top 47
latenightcoding 1 day ago 6 replies      
It is truly sad to see Coursera getting greedier by the day. I can honestly say this website changed my life, I was living in a third world country and still in high school when I enrolled in Andrew Ng's machine learning class and thanks to that MOOC I was able to get a machine learning job building recommender systems for a Canadian company straight out of high school. There are plenty of amazing MOOCs that Coursera has completely removed from the website or are only available for people who want to pay upfront. Please don't be like Udacity Coursera.

BTW you have until June 30 to download your courses.

znpy 1 day ago 9 replies      
In case you want to download as may courses as possible before they fade away, here are some notes.

Please forgive me some mistakes, I wrote this a bit in a hurry.


1) Spawn a virtual server on DigitalOcean.

I am using the 40$/month in order to have 40GB of space, but my plan isto shut it down in a day or two.

The advantage is to have storage space AND super-fast connection.

If you don't want to spend money, here is my referral code:


This will give you 10$ credit for free.

2) Install screen, python-virtualenv, python3, python3-pip

3) edit ~/.bash_aliases:

 #!/usr/bin/env bash alias download="./coursera-dl -u <<username>> -p <<password>>" alias download_preview="./coursera-dl -b -u <<username>> -p <<password>>"
4) Install coursera-dl: see https://github.com/coursera-dl/coursera-dl#alternative-insta...

name the virtualenv "coursera", and place it in the root home directory

5) patch to use python3:

* pip3 install -r requirements.txt* patch coursera/coursera.dl:

 #!/usr/bin/env python # -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

 #!/usr/bin/env python3 # -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
6) Edit ~/.bashrc

Add this lines at the end of the file:

 cd coursera source bin/activate cd coursera

The setup process is done. Here is how to use it:

1) Start a screen session: `screen -S coursera`

download_preview compilers-004

you can download more courses in parallel by creating another window (C-a c) and typing donwload_preview $coursename.

haches 1 day ago 2 replies      
Worthwhile to point out that edX is a non-profit [1] unlike Coursera [2] and Udacity [3].

[1] https://www.edx.org/about-us

[2] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/coursera

[3] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/udacity

lovelearning 1 day ago 2 replies      
I feel Coursera's pricing strategy is located at two opposite extremes and misses out an entire range of options in the middle. They either make an entire course completely free with no option to pay even if the student wants to, or they put it behind a paywall where one can't even start without paying.

They along with their institutional partners are missing out revenue from people like me who'd like to pay some amount, but not the amount they fix. I'm happy to pay some amount without a certificate. They should consider giving a pay-what-you-like option for all their courses.

wibr 1 day ago 6 replies      
https://class.coursera.org/ml-005/lecture Machine Learning, Andrew Ng

https://class.coursera.org/algo-003/lecture Algorithms 1, Tim Roughgarden

https://class.coursera.org/algo2-003/lecture Algorithms 2, Tim Roughgarden

Edit:https://class.coursera.org/compilers/lecture/preview Compilers, Alex Aiken

What else?

tgokh 1 day ago 2 replies      
Coursera actually converted a course I was enrolled in to paid-quizzes-only, while I was actively enrolled in the course and on the second to last week of eight. They finally converted it back after 2 days of many of us contacting support but never gave me a straight answer as to whether it was accidentally or intentional :-/ Definitely lost my faith in Coursera as a platform over these recent changes.
LouisSayers 1 day ago 4 replies      
If anyone else is wondering, MOOC is Massive Open Online Courses.

It really gets on my nerves when people don't expand their acronyms when introducing a topic. Of course there are exceptions, but is MOOC really that common an acronym?! I just find it a bit inconsiderate.</rant>

mohsinr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Disappointed by Coursera and Udacity (they positioned for free MOOCs and now they are taking everything back they offered).

More power to KhanAcademy and MIT Open Courseware! For staying true to their mission of providing Free Courses...

avodonosov 1 day ago 3 replies      
Script to save course materials: https://github.com/coursera-dl/coursera-dl

I haven't tried it yet. Just was asking around how to save course materials (videos, slides, notes, etc) of an old platform course I want to return to sometimes. Got this advice:

 > app which can help you download all the > materials at one go. > https://github.com/coursera-dl/coursera-dl > Doesn't work all the time, but for old > courses should work.

jsturner 1 day ago 0 replies      
A good friend of mine who works at Coursera attributes their descent to the brain drain they've had over the past year.

Apparently, management is sweeping the problem under the rug, and forcing a false rhetoric that the departures were good. Even their Glassdoor page[1] seems doctored now. Sad times.

[1] https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Coursera-Reviews-E654749.h...

raldu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been feeling more and more disappointed with their step-by-step implementation of paywalling learners, and a general decline in community engagement. This decision to cut access to the old material is very short-sighted, and it would do more harm than good to their "business".

The old content would have been perceived as having a historical value, as being among the first courses published in the first actual MOOC platform, not to mention the tremendous value those courses contributed by successfully reaching wide audiences around the world, changing many lives. Now they are making a bad image out of themselves.

Coursera has been getting progressively worse. There is no community engagement. I cannot be surprised or engaged by non-discussion going on, which is also the case with edX, by the way. I have done mentorship in one of the paid courses at Coursera and all I could do was to mechanically answer technical questions. Nobody cared about the critical aspects, nobody cared about generating interesting and thought-provoking discussions, even when some mentors have encouraged it. As mentors, what we were doing was just free technical support for the course providers.

Further, the recent content is at best feels like "best seller" stuff for whatever trending industry anyway. Even the UI has been getting slower.

This example provides the meaning of backing up (and further sharing) data stored in the cloud. Mostly we do not think it would be necessary to backup since the data is going to stay there "forever", right?

As a final note, I was surprised that nobody mentioned FutureLearn (https://www.futurelearn.com). It is a new MOOC platform with somewhat "European" feeling to it. I have surprisingly had the best community experience with quality discussions in one of the courses provided there. The overall content is very diverse and interesting. And yes, the UI is faster!

osivertsson 1 day ago 1 reply      
I agree that removing/limiting access is lousy by Coursera and Udacity, for courses that used to be free and contain valuable fundamentals.

I don't agree that the golden age is necessarily over though. The MOOC space is getting crowded, just look at all the offerings at https://www.class-central.com

MOOCs by government-backed traditional universities from Europe / Asia is taking over a large chunk of the "market" meaning that Coursera, Udacity, etc. is finding it difficult to get any returns.

brhsiao 1 day ago 11 replies      
I'll probably get shot down for being that typical negative HN comment, but do MOOCs like Coursera actually do much in the way of making education more accessible or society fairer? All the content offered on Coursera already exists on the internet. Really motivated people will aggressively look for study materials, and they generally don't have a problem finding it.

It seems to me that it's actually the internet that improves accessibility and fairness, through which curated collections of study materials are then delivered as MOOCs. Which is terrific, but then it's hardly shocking that they'd eventually have to monetize themselves. We've seen worse attempts to crack down on the internet.

WalterBright 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I was a prof, I'd have every one of my lectures recorded and put online for free. I wish I had recorded the lectures I attended in college. Not recalling the lectures means the notes I took in class don't make much sense.

Heck, I record all of the presentations I do, and they get posted for free on the intarnets. I put a fair amount of work into them - why hide them?

bradleyjg 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just got a somewhat confusing email canceling my enrollment in the ever elusive Cryptography II course. I guess this is what that's about. If so, it's too bad, I had a great experience in the Crypto I but it wouldn't have been nearly as good without the quizzes and assignments.
smith5555 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know about the old Udacity, but I love the new Udacity the way I use it. I load up on topics that might interest me, and run thru them at top speed. I get a quick (and very useful) overview by what appear to be very skilled communicators. I don't think I'll ever go for the project based learning model, too much potential for copy, paste, get reward like Codeacademy. Re Coursera, I've never found a class that held my attention till the end. I don't think they are challenging enough, but good information.
linux_devil 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is no point of calling them MOOC , if they are not 'O'pen anymore.
mattfrommars 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is bad to hear. I never managed to do a single course in the past due to other commitments. Only thing I did manage was to enroll with them. What can I do now? I wanted to learn to code and become good at it and land a job or atleast get involved in local software development companies. Is this still possible with coursera shutting down? I'm getting a little stressed in being 'late to the party'.
dimdimdim 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Coursera,

Thanks for all the free courses for the last couple of years. I understand the need to be profitable and make this a real business so you don't have to fire all your good employees who have helped provide free education for so long.

I for one welcome what you are doing - as I understand that's is impossible to sustain a free model forever.

All the best!

Myrmornis 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems very sad. I was just considering taking the neuralnets-2012-001 class from 2012 and so although I can download I won't have access to any of the discussion forums etc. Is there an official position statement from Coursera on this decision?

I'd be happy to pay a bit for it if that's what they want. Or is their view that Geoffrey Hinton teaching neural networks in 2012 is just kind of cruft cluttering up the internet?

bitL 1 day ago 0 replies      
They should implement per region pricing depending on GDP PPP or similar. Paying for a course means commitment; while it's no big deal for me to shelve $50-100 on their course, it's a big deal for Eastern Europe, Africa, majority of Asia etc. If they adjusted prices to locally reasonable levels, they could increase both profit and completion rate.
z3r0c00l 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be great if you guys made a torrent out of the downloaded courses
veddox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shame! I've done courses on both Udacity and Coursera in the past. Not very many, but they did shape me and taught me stuff I either couldn't have learned any other way or could not have learnt as well.

I understand that they are both businesses that need to take care of their finances if they want to survive. Nonetheless, I am still disappointed - when they started out some years back they were all full of vigour and idealism about free education, and somewhere along the line they have been quietly dropping that idealism. They didn't even try to explain why they were doing what they were doing and why they were changing. In essence, they betrayed who they were at the beginning, and that's what makes me sad.

So thank you, Udacity and Coursera, for who you were and what you gave me, but I fear our roads shall part here...

master_yoda_1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please teach a highly complex technical subject free for one month. Then write these kind of blogs.

Otherwise keep calm and mind your own business ;)

plinkplonk 1 day ago 3 replies      
I always wanted to work through the algorithms MOOCs from Princeton but I kept putting it off. Profs Sedgewick and Wayne are phenomenal teachers. Anyone know if this course will be available in the future?

(probably not, since they had no certificates etc, and I don't see them going along with paid-for-quizzes courses, but it doesn't hurt to ask)

andretadeu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I confess I didn't get the point about shutting down the old platform. The new platform still allows you to enroll to a course for free and the content of several of them were updated. Some courses weren't offered a second time since 2012 or 2013 due to massive dropouts and very few students that finished the courses.Nowadays I'm taking some courses for free at Coursera, such as 'More Chinese for beginners'. I chose to pay for several and other ones I attend for free.
sreeramvenkat 1 day ago 2 replies      
I hope edx does not follow coursera way.
smith5555 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that companies can live off good publicity for a long time, even if they change their business model.
greenmoon55 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would anyone be kind enough to provide a script for downloading assignments and quizzes?
ajmurmann 1 day ago 0 replies      
I understand that they need to make money. However, something like this provides so much value to society that we as a society have a large interest in keeping it as available to everyone as possible. Therefore I think that we need to have a publicly funded platform like this or one run by a non-profit like Wikimedia Foundation. The lower the barrier for everyone to take classes the better.
etiam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone here know of an automated solution to get a faithful save of a whole course?As I recall it coursera-dl doesn't capture quizzes and forum, for instance.
wtf_is_frp 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only thing I hate about the new platform is that you can't access the info until a week after you enrolled into self-paced courses. It is fucking stupid. Beyond retarded.
znpy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what would have happened with a flat subscription model... Like "Pay 19.99 monthly and take whatever class you want".
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I liked their first offerings a lot, very very well done too and very capable platform compared to some others. It's sad that the model couldn't sustain.

ps: about downloading the courses pdf and videos... it's really the low hanging part, in the sense that lots of universities have open pages with lectures and sometimes videos too. What MOOCs brought were exercices + auto graders (+ student group).

mattfrommars 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have to blame my procrastination and never having the habit to complete or start any of the courses I had 'enrolled' in. Now coursera shutting down, I'm leaving all my hopes to the knight of the internet to archive these. Will download and hopefully get back.
znpy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dowwie 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author of this blog post has taken to a soap box to shout out, "The Golden Age of MOOCs is over" and that he hates Coursera.

Wow. Really? Do I want to even read what this is about? Fine.

"Of late we have seen MOOC providers caring less about the students and more about the $$$".

Oh boy, here comes the assault on reason.

"they should stop the game of telling people that they care for students and are here to provides universal access to the worlds best education."

Yeah, that's enough for me. Tarun Vangani needs a reality check.

Coursera has brought much good to the world. It has to provide good to the world in an economically sustainable way.

It would be great if the Macarthur Foundation gave its $100 Million grant to Coursera so that it could continue to focus on its mission. Hopefully, Coursera qualifies and applies for it.

hyperpallium 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is opportunity for free courses.

Freemium doesn't just entice customers; it also denies oxygen to competitors.

The specific difficulty for courses is reputation - but wikipedia has managed it, so it's possible.

simunaga 1 day ago 0 replies      
why are disappointed? if everyone had certificates, how much valuable would they be for employers? it's odd. just think about it for a minute.
kercker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can not see how Arab Spring made the society fairer. Internet helped the Arab Spring develop, but the Arab Spring is not such a good thing, because look what it left to middle east.
znpy 1 day ago 0 replies      
So I spawned a virtual server and I am downloading some courses I wanted to take.

What a shame. Farewell, free learning.

Rifu 1 day ago 0 replies      
To save people like me a trip to google, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Today I learned!
the_wheel 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can't deliver on your mission of democratizing education or operate as a VC backed business (which enables these attempts in the first place), if you're not making moves toward profitability. These companies are pioneering a space and searching for a viable business model in the process. They're surviving.
fiatjaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is a MOOC? These people should use the <abbr> tag.
nickpsecurity 1 day ago 0 replies      
This sort of thing would obviously happen as Coursera is a high-value, VC-backed firm. This sort of thing is best done open and nonprofit. One I know like that is EDX: non-profit with open source software with courses from MIT, Harvard, etc. Check it out people.


ZenoArrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks to the author for the heads up, would be real shame if these courses are removed without someone downloading all the material first (I don't care if it's against the ToS, I still think a torrent is the way to go, free education has a greater value than copyright protection).

I'm a bit confused about which courses will be removed and which ones will stay. Is there a list of courses that are present on the old platform but not on the new platform? Also, I don't know where I'd access the old platform and where I'd access the new platform. Am I right in thinking this is a course on the new platform?


If so, where do I go to see the old platform?

wonkaWonka 1 day ago 3 replies      
Learning is lovely, but without the advatage of being able to directly apply what you've learned toward actually improving your life, it's all just so much education porn.
How Silicon Valley Nails Silicon Valley newyorker.com
501 points by sajid  3 days ago   300 comments top 33
zippergz 3 days ago 5 replies      
Silicon Valley is so realistic that I stopped watching a few episodes into the first season. I was going through a rough and very stressful time at work, and the show was reminding me too much of that rather than being an escape (as I usually want TV to be).

Thankfully I'm in a better place professionally now, and I recently came back to the show. Now I enjoy it a lot, even though it can hit very close to home.

gnahckire 3 days ago 1 reply      
A friend of mine who works in tech called me and said, Why arent there any women? Thats bullshit! I said to her, It is bullshit! Unfortunately, we shot that audience footage at the actual TechCrunch Disrupt.

Unfortunately, unsurprising.

dang 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know the show very well, but this is a much better article than I expected. The vignette about online forums is so perfect I can't resist quoting it in full.

Silicon Valley, a show about computer nerds, has a fan base that is particularly attuned to minutiae, and particularly apt to argue about them on the Internet. If a Post-it, URL, or line of code is legible on the show, it will be screengrabbed and scrutinized. Last year, a few hours after an episode aired, a Reddit user with the handle HeIsMyPossum started a thread called Why did the writers just obliterate all the good karma they had built up with their core audience? He made an impassioned argument that a plot pointthe accidental deletion of data from Pied Pipers serverswas implausible. So the files were being converted live while coming through an FTP? And that affects disk deletion speed? Come the fuck on guys. Rob Fuller, a software engineer and a consultant on the show, logged on to Reddit to defend his work, mostly by displaying his own nerd plumage. Stuff like this happens, he wrote. I think even Amazon had an outage because one of the admins fat fingered a DNS or ACL change at one point. Another user responded to Fuller: Thanks for engaging us here, we really appreciate it. The thread amassed nearly three hundred comments. Sorry for being a dick, HeIsMyPossum wrote.

Edit: well, it's weirdly anticlimactic sitting here. But it was hilarious in the New Yorker.

timewarrior 3 days ago 1 reply      
I completely agree. Silicon Valley talked about the reality.

I founded a startup and headed engineering for another. I have seen more than half the things there as follows:Getting money in tranches.Investors making you spend invested money for personal gain.Having a business CEO who has no product insights.Board control issues.Employees trying to overthrow founders and getting fired because of that.Being forced to hire friends and family of investors.Lawyers represent the company and not you.Founding company with someone whom you do not trust.Investors getting involved in day to day running.

Luckily each of the startups had an happy ending. But it took a lot of hard work and a few miracles.

minimaxir 3 days ago 6 replies      
If you want proof that the SV producers go the extra mile, a couple episodes ago there was a split-second appearance of a GitHub repository belonging to one of the characters. Turns out it's completely real (https://github.com/Stitchpunk/atari-ai ) and the owner has accepted pull requests!
untilHellbanned 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best part:

Some Valley big shots have no idea how to react to the show, Miller told me. They cant decide whether to be offended or flattered. And theyre mystified by the fact that actors have a kind of celebrity that they will never havetheres no rhyme or reason to it, but thats the way it is, and it kills them. Miller met Musk at the after-party in Redwood City. I think he was thrown by the fact that I wasnt being sycophanticwhich I couldnt be, because I didnt realize who he was at the time. He said, I have some advice for your show, and I went, No thanks, we dont need any advice, which threw him even more. And then, while were talking, some woman comes up and says Can I have a picture? and he starts to poseit was kinda sad, honestlyand instead she hands the camera to him and starts to pose with me. It was, like, Sorry, dude, I know youre a big dealand, in his case, he actually is a big dealbut Im the guy from Yogi Bear 3-D, and apparently thats who she wants a picture with.

ben_jones 2 days ago 5 replies      
In last Sunday's show they were ramping up to launch a beta of their product and had a closed alpha session where the team could give out access codes to close friends. The three team members, all engineers, got universally positive feedback for how great their user interface was. Well except from Monica, who couldn't quite articulate why it was just off to the casual user [1].


Essentially everyone in the engineering team's social circle either were engineers themselves who wouldn't recognize good design if it hit them in the mouth, or intentionally did not give criticism of the product in order to suck up to the promising new startup.

smilbandit 3 days ago 0 replies      
For me the most realistic scene, one that only people in the field would understand, is when they made the "box". The lead up from hating the assignment to not being able to do shit work really hit home. I've probably had had a few projects that i hated but spent more time then needed. To either make it work faster or modulerized it even though it was probably never going to be updated, just to keep my interest or to learn something.
joshu 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am a consultant on the show. I am super impressed with them. I find it less "funny" and more "accurate" on a regular basis.
qnk 3 days ago 1 reply      

The article contains several spoilers. You may want to hold off if you follow the show.

jewbacca 3 days ago 1 reply      
> In 2015, Weissman convened the Stanford Compression Forum, which resulted in a forty-page white paper outlining what middle-out compression might mean. One of his graduate students, Vinith Misra, worked out the math more explicitly in another paper.

The paper they link to from there (https://www.scribd.com/doc/228831637/Optimal-Tip-to-Tip-Effi...) is actually "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency: a model for male audience stimulation". Not that I'm complaining, that is absolutely incredible, but does the compression paper actually exist?

jpatokal 3 days ago 6 replies      
Great article, with some glorious lines:

Its capitalism shrouded in the fake hippie rhetoric of Were making the world a better place, because its uncool to just say Hey, were crushing it and making money.

Some of us actually, as nave as it sounds, came here to make the world a better place. And we did not succeed. We made some things better, we made some things worse, and in the meantime the libertarians took over, and they do not give a damn about right or wrong. They are here to make money.

In the real Silicon Valley, as on the show, there is a cohort of people who have a real sense of purpose and actually think theyre going to change the world, and then theres a cohort of people who say farcical things about their apps that they clearly dont believe themselves.

fataliss 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's good that people in the actual tech industry and startup eco system can laugh about themselves. It's healthy. The day they/we stop laughing is the day we have a problem.
swampthinker 3 days ago 11 replies      
There was an article a while back on The Verge noting the irony in the show being "comedy". It's supposed to be a caracature of startup culture, stories, and the insane numbers that are casually thrown around. But as most people on HN know, Pied Piper would have had a similar path if it was a startup in real life.

What I'm getting at is that even in it's attempt to be more insane than what startup life is like, it's strangely... more accurate.

And I can't really tell if that's a good or bad thing.

dccoolgai 2 days ago 0 replies      
In a lot of ways, "epochs" of software development track to Mike Judge productions... a lot of things changed after Office Space lampooned the industry the first time... I wonder if Silicon Valley will have the same effect.
ModernMech 3 days ago 10 replies      
The thing about SV that always gets me is the forced "code" vs "hardware" rivalry between Gilfoyle and Dinesh.

"My code can beat your terrible hardware!""My hardware is terrible because of your terrible code!"

That just doesn't happen in my experience. Has anyone else seen this?

mmmBacon 2 days ago 1 reply      
The attention to detail on the show is amazing. For example, during their move to the new office I noticed that they had Corovan moving boxes. If you don't know Apple uses Corovan exclusively and if you've ever moved offices chances are high that they moved you. Not sure why but it was amazing to me that they bothered with a detail like that.
josu 3 days ago 4 replies      
I personally didn't like the humor of the show and stopped watching it after 3 or 4 episodes.

On a related note, a few days ago [1] Marc Andreessen recommended another show based on startup culture: Halt and Catch Fire [2]

I haven't seen it, but I will probably give it a shot.

[1] http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/05/29/marc-andreessen/[2] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543312/?ref_=wl_li_tt

rexreed 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Silicon Valley show makes me anxious. I laugh but I also feel the pain from experience. And I'm not sure if that's good. I want and need to catch up but I almost dread it. I wonder if it's the same for cop drama shows and cops who watch them.
trhway 2 days ago 0 replies      
>Its capitalism shrouded in the fake hippie rhetoric of Were making the world a better place, because its uncool to just say Hey, were crushing it and making money.

the world does seems to be a better place when you're making a lot of money.

jrnichols 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite parts of the show is the opening credits. Being an old Netscape employee, I still get a little sad when I see the Netscape logo fall off that building, only to be replaced by Chrome. tears
blue11 3 days ago 7 replies      
I have really enjoyed watching this show but the last few episodes it seems like the writing has went downhill. There were a number of cringe worthy scenes like "tabs vs spaces".
peter303 3 days ago 0 replies      
NPR Fresh Air broadcast a similar article today:http://www.npr.org/2016/06/09/481377115/in-hbos-silicon-vall...
jagermo 2 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite from the article:

Teller ended the meeting by standing up in a huff, but his attempt at a dramatic exit was marred by the fact that he was wearing Rollerblades.

f_allwein 3 days ago 1 reply      
for a similar satire of high tech culture 20 years ago, check out Douglas Copeland's "Microserfs": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microserfs
zw123456 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that "Silicon Valley" is somewhat of a Roman a clef, as such I think it would be great if the HN readers could provide the "key". Anyone out there willing to give it a shot ?
rconti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a really, really hard time understanding how anyone can watch the show and be offended.

OTOH, maybe it's just because I'm neither rich nor important.

drumdance 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just once I'd like to see Dinesh win against Gilfoyle.
keypusher 3 days ago 2 replies      
As someone that works in enterprise storage, the last season has hit very close to home.
pyb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find that the show is running out of steam ? I think the quality of the writing has gone down in this new series.
nasalgoat 2 days ago 1 reply      
One question I'd like answered is how Richard lost controlling interest of his company. The ownership percentages are never really talked about other than Erlich's 10% and the two coders getting 7% each. One minute Richard is majority shareholder while Reviga has 20%, then Reviga has majority?

It's the only thing that gives me pause.

p4wnc6 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the Sweet Valley High series. Glad to see it's enjoying a renaissance of sorts.
3 days ago 3 days ago 8 replies      
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11872823 and marked it off-topic.
The Most and Least Expensive Cars to Maintain yourmechanic.com
443 points by zabielski  2 days ago   336 comments top 52
femto 2 days ago 4 replies      
The results for Toyota are a reflection of their dedication to production engineering [1], dented by recent recalls. The popular view of bleeding-edge engineering is putting exciting new features into customer's hands. An alternative view (which can be just as satisfying from an engineering perspective) is creating a bleeding-edge factory to produce millions of otherwise mundane products that "just work". As an aside, there's a certain smugness (and sense of power?) that goes with producing a product that the end user takes for granted but you know that few other people could produce.

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

zippergz 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think I brought this up last time there was a post about Your Mechanic. But I am still curious about it. I wonder how much their data is skewed by the fact that they're a third-party mechanic. I don't think they necessarily see a representative sample of cars and problems, especially in the early years. I have owned different kinds of German cars for the past 15 years, and they've all gone to the dealership for the vast majority of service for at least the first 5-7 years.

I only take new-ish cars to a third party if I need something the dealership doesn't specialize in (body work, tires, etc.). I'm not that price-sensitive about service, and I like the dealership experience (nice new loaner cars, all the parts are on hand, etc.). So I'd wonder what it is that drives people to Your Mechanic, and if that affects the volume and type of problems they see. For example, maybe people are more likely to use them if they have just received a large estimate for a major problem from the dealer. Or people who are more price sensitive go there, which might skew the mix of models they see. And so on.

While this is interesting data, I have a hard time considering it representative of reliability as a whole without some additional context.

tuna-piano 2 days ago 7 replies      
It's kind of crazy to think of it this way- most cars on the list have one engine to think about.

But the car with the lowest maintenance cost- the Toyota Prius, which had the full gas engine system PLUS an electric battery+motor, and the complexities managing the two together. Truly remarkable. Toyota should be really proud.

UnoriginalGuy 2 days ago 10 replies      
This is one reason why I don't buy American. I actually really like Ford's vehicles (the infotainment system might be the best available) but they consistently get bad reliability scores along with other American brands (Chrysler, Dodge, etc).

Why don't American manufacturers work to improve their reliability? People really are buying Toyota/Honda/Mazda for that reason. And while Kia might be unreliable as all heck, they come with the best included warranty available[0].

American vehicles actually cost more too in many cases, so you're paying for the "privilege" of getting a less reliable vehicle.

[0] http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=buy&story=ma...

tobyjsullivan 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm really confused by this data. How could the average cost of the most expensive model be less than the cost of the most expensive brand?

For example, I'm taking issue with all BMW's costing $17,800 over 10 years on average. Yet, the BMW model with the highest maintenance cost, the 328i, only costs $15,600 over 10 years.

Edit: Tried, quite unsuccessfully, to improve clarity

spydum 2 days ago 6 replies      
Did I misread?

>In order to estimate annual maintenance costs, we found the amount spent on every two oil changes (as oil changes are generally done every six months).

This cost only considers oil changes? That is not a realistic cost of total maintenance over 10 years.

westwooded 2 days ago 2 replies      
Tough to trust this analysis... For example Cadillac is the #3 worst brand yet there are no Cadillac models in the worst 20 models.
beloch 2 days ago 0 replies      
"This data reveals which companies live up to their reputation for reliability (Toyota), which brands sacrifice reliability for prestige (BMW and Mercedes-Benz), and which models deserved to be discontinued (the Hummer 3)."

Ouch. There's one more reason to laugh at people who bought the H3.

peckrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
Purely anecdotally, my ten year old Toyota Tacoma is the best vehicle I've ever owned, so I'm not really surprised to see it at number five on that list. Had one major problem in ten years (clutch springs broke at 60k). Otherwise with routine maintenance (oil changes, tune ups and tires) it just keeps working.

Ten loads of mulch in a weekend? No problem. Hauling a half ton of Bawls energy drinks to a different state over wet mountain roads? An adventure but no issues. Moved my (now) wife to town in 2007 and moved all our stuff when we bought our first home. We took our daughter home from the hospital in it. It almost feels like part of the family.

I kinda want a newer car, but I can't really justify it because my Tacoma just keeps working every single day (and it's paid off). Toyota can make a really good vehicle.

fredophile 1 day ago 0 replies      
The maintenance numbers don't make sense to me. I'll use the numbers for Mazda and Mini as examples.

They say that over ten years the average Mazda or Mini will cost $7500 to maintain. Both have a model in the top 20 most expensive to maintain with a Mazda 6 being $12 700 and a Mini Cooper being $11 200. Neither one has a model in the 20 cheapest to maintain list so their cheapest to maintain models must be at least as expensive to maintain as the most expensive car on this list. This puts a lower bound of $7500 on the cheapest to maintain car for each of them. How can the average for these manufacturers be $7500 if their cheapest car is at least $7500 and they each have a car that costs significantly more?

ifoundthetao 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man, it would have been nice to have text instead of images for those tables. Would have made me more confident in my searching through them.
vanilla-almond 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to compare this US survey with this one from a 2015 UK survey of 50,000 car users.

In summary, Japanese cars were deemed the most reliable and relatively cheap to maintain, while German cars were the least reliable according to the survey's respondents.

The rankings were calculated according to how often a car needed to be repaired, and the cost of the repairs.


fmsf 2 days ago 4 replies      
I would be curious of data on entry level sport cars that people use in commutes/daily driving i.e.: porsche
usaphp 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does it take into account the fact that BMW offers free service (even oil changes) for 3 years (36,000 miles) and on top of that you can get relatively cheap extensions, and if you buy a certified pre-owned used car you get a "free" extra 2 years /50K miles on top of the original warranty and you can even get an extra protection plan for 6 years/100K miles.
kazinator 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had a 6th gen Civic (DX Hatchback) for 7 years between 2005 and 2011. Most of what it needed, I did myself, cheaply:

- cracked exhaust manifold, replaced with boneyard unit, $80. Before that I went to the dealer, and they quoted me over $300 for a new one. Get this: they were so nice when I said I will probably get a used one, they gave me the new nuts for the joint between the manifold and the A pipe I would need. "Hey, you will likely need these; they are special heat-resistant nuts that don't expand."

- bushing gone on rear suspension arm causing clunks and squeaks: boneyard good part, $10. Couldn't remove a bolt in the suspension without an air ratchet: I broke two cheap socket wrench bits trying! I paid an air-conditioning garage to help me out, $40.

- broken manual window crank on driver's side door. $10 for used one.

- The ignition switch started cutting out. I Googled up that this was a secret warranty (big safety issue), and got free fix at the dealership.

- I paid a few hundred for an all-wheel brake job. At one point, the master relay went, so I paid a few hundred to get that taken care of. Car was completely dead; had to be towed.

- Fixed water leaking into the trunk. This ingress occurs through the tail light apertures! The fix was a $7 tub of silicone caulk on both sides of the tail light gaskets, with plenty left over to do a bathtub or three. The trunk was dry after that.

- Moisture destroyed the particle board trunk floor that covers the spare tire. Made a sturdy new one out of 6mm thick plastic: $30 bucks for that, plus labor.

- Cracked radiator: good used one for under 100 bucks.

- All fluid and other changes: engine oil, manual transmission, air filter, oil filter, etc, myself.

- Paid a few hundred for a timing belt and water pump change.

- O2 sensor changes, self, < $100 a pop for two of them.

- Spark plugs: don't remember; inexpensive.

rdtsc 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Brands most likely not to start: Hummer

There's something ironic about it. Here they got a car which "looks" like a reliable military vehicle, that you'd think could take it to some remove off-road location (desert, camping, etc). Yet as a brand, it is most likely to fail to start.

Shivetya 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well I am going to have to say pure electrics might fare better but we will need ten years of playing with the tech to know for sure. All the electronics are going to be fun. Almost all the unusual entries are engine related.

Before anyone runs off in celebration of pure EVs just note the number of vehicles being sampled. Issue arise from defects for sure, as they do for wear and tear. However a lot of issues on older cars are because of lack of care. One of the reasons manufactures like BMW include service for 4x50 is so that even the leased cars would get serviced.

There are a few exaggerated entries on the list, one I know of is the Nissan Murano. Its listed quite high but that might have been because of the CVT issues faced in 05-07 that were remedied with Nissan extending the warranties.

overcast 2 days ago 3 replies      
A 328i costs $15,600 to maintain over ten years? My seven year old xDrive 328i hasn't had a single cost besides oil and tires. I don't know any friends that have paid an additional 15k to maintain theirs either. That's just nonsense.
infecto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Typo, Lexus should be Cadillac.

"Luxury imports from Germany, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, along with domestic luxury brand Lexus, are the most expensive"

Zikes 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I could search their system and see where my car falls on each of those lists, rather than just the top/bottom 25 in each category.
brownbat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd really like truecar or carmax to start using estimated maintenance (maybe with MPG and expected resale) to provide a better sense of total cost of ownership for new and used cars. We need some way to make maintenance costs something producers actually transparently compete on, just like fuel efficiency and resale value.

It's just so hard to get that data. Even here we're grouping cars by make. Not model, not year, because there's just not enough good data on this.

It's a welcome start, but it'd be interesting to see what would happen if we just made all repair shops report more about the prices paid for what services at what mileages for each vehicle. We might uncover some really interesting things, and drive useful innovations from producers.

dakridge 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious to see how Tesla will compare to these after they have been out for a while. I heard they are cheap to maintain, I hope that turns out to be true.
matdrewin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Boring cars cost less to maintain.
gcb0 1 day ago 0 replies      
this has 300 comments so probably just pissing in the ocean here, but this highlights nothing but confirmation bias.

title should be "how much people that uses our yuppie startup pays to maintain their cars"

of course the bmw diy wil not show up. nor the toyota that goes to the dealer the moment a dash light goes on.

usloth_wandows 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had BMW 528i since 1997. Still going strong, but those damn window regulators break so often. I blame it on my mechanic replacing them with cheap Chinese parts. The car went 15 years with no window problems and all of the sudden I've had to replace each of the windows at least twice in the past 4 years (driver side 3 times)!
busterarm 2 days ago 5 replies      
Mazda would be much lower on their already low spot on the list if not for the Mazda 6.

Though my RX-7 is a beast to maintain, financially. I imagine they're only tracking models that are still current for the past 10 years.

Also some 'common' but lower-volume brands are not on the list at all (Alfa Romeo is a notable exception here)

garyclarke27 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting matches my experience - I've had many BMW's over the years - currently x5 4.8 and 535d - when they work, they are fantastic but and a big but, they are so unreliable and so expensive to maintain in the UK, main dealer labour rates are over 200 ($300) per hour, non dealers cheaper but struggle with the complexity so often give up and part prices can be crazy - eg 2k to replace a diesel particulate filter.
tibbon 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really interesting. I assumed when the Prius came out that it would be a maintenance nightmare, simply due to the fact that you've got a more complex system (electrical AND combustion) coupled together. Yet, it seems to work amazingly well. I'm glad I was wrong.
johnhess 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems relatively likely that there's some selection bias going on here.

It could stand to reason that less reliable brands get discontinued. But there's an alternate explanation. If the only population of Saturns you're looking at is 5-10 years old, and the selection of Hondas your're looking at are 0-10 years old, the "average" Saturn requires more maintenance than the average Honda because on average, it's an older car.

agentgt 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are probably some confounds to why some brands may not do as well particularly brands that make mini vans and/or all wheel drive cars.

AWD is just inherently more complicated and thus requires more maintenance. Thus Subaru probably has unfair advantage since almost all their cars are AWD.

As for Prius reliability... I have passed many stuck sliding on the road in New England blizzards... in my "high maintenance" Subaru.

S_A_P 1 day ago 0 replies      
My 2014 Audi A4 Quattro is the most reliable car I've owned. I took it in for a replacement oil pressure sensor at 48k miles which was replaced in 60 minutes under warranty. I can't really complain about that. I am currently on pace to put 30k miles on it this year. That said Audi has a reputation for a reason, and previous model years were not so care free.
imaginenore 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've had this idea for a long time. It would be amazing to get the data on exactly what gets fixed in each of the auto repair shops, which then would let you figure out which cars are the most reliable, and how much owning one would cost in the long run, and maybe leads to some preventative measures to minimize the damage. I thought about it for years, and couldn't figure out a way to get the data cheaply.
kqr2 1 day ago 4 replies      
What is the best new car for the diy mechanic in terms of ease of maintenance and availability of parts / service manual?
sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a reason why taxis in Bolivia and Peru are 90% Toyota Corolla's. It's because parts are dirt cheap, and labor is dirt cheap.


tmacro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have to wonder if this takes into account self maintenance. It is my experience that labor makes up a significant portion of vehicle maintenance costs. That, coupled with the high availability of used parts for popular domestic models, seems like it would bring down costs for those vehicles significantly.
sushid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm confused by the author's assessment of Kia cars. It's specifically called out as being one of the most expensive lower-end brands to maintain but two of its most popular cars are listed under one of the cheapest cars to maintain (with none being on the expensive list).

Seems like an unwarranted callout at best.

pwthornton 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the things I wonder, as we stare at pulling a release at my work, is can elements of the Toyota Way be brought over to software?

We practice SCRUM, which supposedly learned from the Toyota Product System, but our quality assurance has a long way to go.

brohoolio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Model year data is important. If there was one model year, like a bad transmission, it will mess with the data.

I drove 6 ford escorts before buying a newer car. The 93 model year was terrible but I pushed my 1998 and 1997 to over 250,000 miles each with minimal repair costs.

shekyboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a bit early but would love to see how electric cars change the auto maintenance space...
sjclemmy 1 day ago 0 replies      
My rule of thumb for budgeting is that a car is going to cost me about 1000 a year to keep and maintain. This includes road tax, insurance, tyres, brakes and servicing etc.

This will average out over time.

danmaz74 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would have been interesting to also have the data as percentage of model price. For a very expensive car, it's also normal that parts will be more expensive.
infecto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tried to load the app at https://www.yourmechanic.com/book/. Does not work for me. Bummer
az123zaz 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Luxury imports from Germany, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, along with domestic luxury brand Lexus, are the most expensive."

Lexus is owned by Toyota. What makes it domestic?

kin 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a MINI owner, you can bump me up a few slots thanks to BMW.
gwern 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is the Prius so reliable? I know Toyota is good but I would have expected it to be less than the Toyota average because it's a more complex hybrid car.
polskibus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how this ranking corresponds to Dekra statistics that are a good source in the EU.
dclowd9901 2 days ago 1 reply      
Land Rover showing up surprisingly (even suspiciously) low in this list. Almost makes me question the data entirely.
rdtsc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yap, friend owns a BMW. He drives a BMW dealer loaner car quite often because his car is in the shop.
hanniabu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be curious where Tesla would fall on this list. Obviously they haven't been around long enough to get the data though.
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
mdip 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found it interesting that the Chrysler Sebring was listed as the most expensive car to maintain. The first car I purchased for myself was a 1995 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible. I was 17 years old and had saved up money from a business my father had started for me when I was 13 years old and due to my dear Dad working in the industry, I was able to buy it on the "C-Lot"[0] for $12,000 (not bad with an all leather interior and 8,000 miles ... or so I thought). During the 5 long years I owned it, I went through not one, but three $2,400 transmission rebuilds. I was young and wasn't smart enough to know to ditch the car after the first. Nor did I know there was an 800 number I could have called that would almost certainly have resulted in a discounted/free repair for the first (which happened about 2,000 miles outside of the warranty period) or the two others (which happened within 1.5 years of each other).

This car soured Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth vehicles for me for life. I have never considered another car from that brand and I wasn't at all surprised to see many Chrysler vehicles on the high-cost list.

It was also nice to see several American made cars on that list[1], including my Ford Fusion. I own a 2012 model (last year before a substantial redesign[also 1]) with 100,000 miles on it and it has never required service other than routine maintenance (and a few more alignments than I'm used to, but I almost never drive being a work-at-home guy so I'm not sure what might be happening while all of those miles are put on[2]).

I would have loved to see the raw data behind the article for a few reasons.

1. Model years are missing and more details about how many kinds of failures would have been nice. Highlighting the most expensive is nice, but if several less expensive parts are failing, that's also very important.

2. The cost of routine maintenance for parts that are guaranteed to wear can vary dramatically depending on where the service is done. The dealer is the most expensive, almost every time, but things like brakes come to mind. Where I live, taking a car for a brake job at a brake place is highway robbery. A friend showed me how easy it is to do brakes and I discovered I could do all 4 for the cost of one at the shop (or just replace the brakes/rotors for the price of a pad job). I later learned that a good shop will do them for about $40 in labor over the cost of parts at a retail auto-parts store (and I thank God that I now have a family friend who owns said shop).

3. It has a bad smell to it and I'd like to understand how they interpreted the data or whether or not the data set is complete. For the American brands, some of those cars have corresponding models from their other affiliated brands (A Chevy X is a Oldsmobile Y or even extreme cases where Eagle [dead now] branded vehicles used to be Mitsubishi products) with very little differences in the vehicles. This makes sense in the case of non-luxury brand/luxury brand because there are more expensive parts and usually major underlying improvements in the luxury brands that affect repair frequency/cost. But in the case of that Sebring, at one point that was pretty much the same car as a Dodge model except for the exterior and I thought I spotted others on that list that had the same situation but with the equivalent vehicle nowhere to be found.

If anyone has that data set and can link to it, I'd be curious.

[0] I may not have this exactly right, including the name, but my understanding is that these cars were driven by higher level employees "lease-style" for a year at a discount (or as a perk). Suppliers and employees can show up on a designated day and commit to purchase the vehicle at a solid discount - mine was $12,000 for an all leather model with about 8,000 miles on it (that would be repaired at the dealership under warranty). The "catch", I learned years later, is that some/many of the employees exercising this perk don't bother doing routine maintenance on the car and generally treat it very harshly.

[1] I live in Michigan, my dad's business is a supplier to the local autos, and there's still a lot of us who remember the days of evil bastards keying non UAW-made vehicles so I'm stuck with the Big Three (making that Two in my case). The general rule has been never buy a car the first year after a substantial redesign and vehicles on the last year prior to redesign are usually the most reliable (kinks worked out). I don't know if that's based on real data or if that's just been good luck (and common sense), but it's been a reliable rule for my family in all but the LeBaron case (I think 96 was the last year). That rule, along with and "if you're buying new, do so when the dealers are trying to get the next model year on the lot" (it was a $7,000 difference with my Fusion) are the only two I know.

[2] I suspect a defect in this case or even more likely -- road conditions. My wife is a great driver, the car has original brakes at 100,000 miles (a feat the mechanic who inspected them last month was impressed with) and everything but the suspension is in amazing condition. The suspension problems and realignment frequency have me thinking her lack of gaming skills is at fault. In this part of Michigan, driving any freeway/major road is like playing a game of "Dodge the Potholes" where failure to win results in blown out tires (we've had two incidents), unusual suspension wear/problems and alignment issues depending on the angle of impact and depth.

2 days ago 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm guessing you're new here? There's really no point in posting comments like this unless you want to see how low your karma can get.
2001: A Space Odyssey rendered in the style of Picasso bhautikj.tumblr.com
471 points by cjdulberger  2 days ago   92 comments top 27
mockery 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is cool, but the frame-to-frame variance is distracting. I really want to see this reimplemented with temporal constraints a-la this paper:


mgraczyk 2 days ago 3 replies      
I remember watching an interview with the creators of South Park in which they described the transition from animating using cardboard cutouts to a system with CorelDraw and other pieces of software which helped speed up the process. The bulk of the efficiency improvement came from carefully defining all the frequently used objects (characters, houses) once with movable components, and reusing those objects in the per-episode animation pipeline.

I can easily imagine an animation system like the one presented here enabling another massive improvement in animation efficiency. In the same way animation software allowed South Park to reuse pre-drawn objects, a deep learning system could enable south park to carefully define the entire drawing style just once, then generate complete episodes based on simple story boards and animation directives. Fortunately, South Park already has a significant amount of training data available, specifically every South Park episode yet produced.

nsimoneaux 2 days ago 3 replies      
"It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don't care."

On the first moon landing, quoted in The New York Times, (1969-07-21).


Curious about his feelings regarding this work. (I find it beautiful.)

stepvhen 2 days ago 8 replies      
I have two opinions: 1) I don't think cubism transfers well into a motion picture format, 2) I think these experiments, as they are currently, attempt to merge two styles and end up with neither, and nothing novel in its place; there is little Kubrick or Picasso in the final piece.

I think it's superficial and doesn't do either source justice.

jjcm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I remember when The Scanner Darkly came out there was a lot of talk about how they achieved the style of the film. Some of it was automated, but a lot still had to be hand done. I wonder if using deep learning systems we could achieve the same effect that film had with nearly zero human interaction.

For those that haven't seen the movie, here's the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY5PpGQ2OWY

fractallyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Possibly the finest painting software currently available is Synthetik's Studio Artist (http://synthetik.com/). Compared to Adobe's powerhouse software, it's relatively unknown, but that doesn't make it any less innovative.

It uses an algorithmic 'paint synthesizer' to generate brushes (with hundreds of presets) and auto-paint canvases, and is designed for animation (rotoscoping) as well as static artwork. The output can be reminiscent of the style of the movie 'A Scanner Darkly', but the software is hugely flexible. Here are a couple of rather amazing examples: http://studioartist.ning.com/video/auto-rotoscoped-dancers and http://studioartist.ning.com/video/dance-styles-animation-re...

Also, unlike most other 'painterly' software, the graphics are resolution independent - meaning that they can be scaled up to any size without loss of detail.

Udik 2 days ago 4 replies      
There is something that escapes me regarding this very cool neural style transfer technique. One would expect it to need at least three starting images: the one to transform, the one used as a source for the style, and a non-styled version of the source. This last one should give the network hints on how to transform the unstyled version in the styled one. For example, what does a straight line end up being in the style? Or how is a colour gradient represented? Missing this, it seems that the neural network should be able to recognize objects in the styled picture, and derive the transformation applied based on a previous knowledge of how they would normally look like. But of course the NN is not advanced enough to do that.Can someone explain me roughly how does this work?
shiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
It certainly has a wow factor, but once you pass the initial impression, it's interesting that the brain starts recognizing the content (motion of characters and objects) separately from the visual style, and even starts applying negative cubism filter so that we won't actually see the visual style anymore. (In other words, the brain treats those applied style as noise.)

It could be a way to exploit the mismatch of content and style as certain form of expression; but it may be more interesting if we can modify the temporal structure as well.

yxlx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like someone said about this on /r/programming:

>Pretty tight that computers can drop acid now.

Anyway, here's a direct link to the video for mobile users: https://vimeo.com/169187915

habosa 2 days ago 0 replies      
The big changes frame-to-frame certainly add to the "trippiness" but I'd love to see this where the value function (or whatever it's called for ML) prioritizes reducing the frame-to-frame diff so that I could actually watch the full length movie like this.
slr555 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am much more of an artist than a technology person and the rendering inconsistency the author refers to is one of the coolest aspects of the video. This is the kind of happy accident that gives work originality and makes it more than a slavish copy. Reminds me of Link Wray putting a pencil through the speaker cone of his amplifier.
onetwotree 1 day ago 0 replies      
Neural style transfer is extremely fun to play with.

If you have a system with a recent-ish graphics card (I'm doing fine with my GTX 970), put a linux on it and check out the many GitHub projects that implement this stuff (some of the tools will only work on linux).

It's a great way to start learning about deep learning and GPU based computation , which are starting to look like very good things to have on your resume.

Plus, you get to make cool shit like this that you can actually show to your friends. I'm getting more interested in the text generation stuff as well too - I'd love to make a Trump speech generator :-)

2bitencryption 2 days ago 1 reply      
I kind of want someone to do the same thing with a "NON-neural network" Picasso filter, like the ones in Photoshop and similar image editing programs. I want to compare how much the neural network's understanding of Picasso's style adds to the work (I imagine it's a lot, because this looks incredible).
jamesrom 2 days ago 1 reply      
A whole new debate about copyright is around the corner.
elcapitan 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Poetry is what gets lost in translation","Art is what gets lost in machine learning".

I think it's interesting that it's possible to create basically filters from existing images, but then applying those filters to large amounts of images (like in this movie) quickly loses the novelty effect and is just as boring as any photoshop or gimp filter became in the 90s after seeing it 3 times.

When I look at Picassos actual pictures, I am astonished and amazed with every new one I get to see. With these pictures, I get more and more bored with every additional image.

jamesdwilson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Serious question: how is this different than one of the many photoshop filters that could be applied iteratively to each frame?
ggchappell 2 days ago 1 reply      

It needs some kind of averaging with nearby frames (or whatever), to avoid the constant flicker in areas of more or less solid color.

golergka 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone knowledgeable estimate, how far are we from rendering this in 60 frames per second? Can't wait to try it as a post-processing layer in game development.
auggierose 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome. Just the black monolith should stay black :-)
tunnuz 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Oh my God, it's full of layers."
TrevorJ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Would be interesting to see if they could reduce the temporal noise without compromising the overall effect.
6stringmerc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not trying to over-state my qualifications to make the following claim, but I'm pretty sure Kubrick would have hated this. And, as such, have it destroyed.
stcredzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me, but have all forms of art simply melded with self-promotion? (Melded in the sense found in the movie "The Fly.")
rorygreig 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how long it takes to render each frame.

Eventually with fast enough GPUs you could render a video game in this style, now that I would like to see.

rurban 1 day ago 0 replies      
His http://bhautikj.tumblr.com/tagged/drumpf is much better.Donald Drumpf as sausage
jdblair 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. That said it doesn't have the distorted perspective I think is a hallmark of Picasso's work.
kodfodrasz 2 days ago 1 reply      
So basically you take someone else's work. Run it with some content (someone else's work also), post it, and wow innovation.

Actually in the last year myriads of similar things were created, and this is simply boring.

This is as interesting as a random tumblr reblog. May be curious, but lacks any sense of achievement or originality.

A deportation at the UK border medium.com
442 points by analyst74  2 days ago   315 comments top 47
2skep 2 days ago 6 replies      
Enough has been said about bad treatment by border guards about every country on earth so don't need to repeat it but I had the following exchange with a Canadian visa officer.

Visa Officer:Your Name? How can I help you Me: Dr XYZ. I would like to apply for a visitor visa to Canada Visa Officer: Why would you like to go to Canada Me: I have been invited to speak at a conferenceVisa Officer: Hmm I see.Me: Is there a problem?Visa Officer: You see, you are not allowed to do public speaking on a visitor visa. You will have to apply a visa for public speaking which takes longer and requires additional formalities and checks.Me: Oh, I see. I am surprised that is the case, I go around the world to conferences and it seems unusual in Canada.Visa Officer: Can I ask you a questionMe: SureVisa Officer (with a smile): Would you say that your main purpose of applying the visa is to attend the conference and you will be sharing your professional and not political views.Me: Yes. Absolutely!Visa Officer: You should then get a visitor visa which will be ready tomorrow after 4. Remember, when asked say that you are attending the conference. Enjoy Canada

rossng 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am not happy about the continued existence of what are essentially rights-free zones at border crossings. Unfortunately, with the current political climate in the UK, I'm not sure the majority of my fellow countrymen would agree. And I'm certain Theresa May doesn't care.

It's easy for politicians to ignore these problems, as they will almost never affect their own citizens. A similar situation exists with the NSA abusing the privacy of foreigners - after all, they're not US citizens, so why should they care? At least the Border Force appeared to be more-or-less following the rules (twisted as they might be) in this particular instance.

jackgavigan 2 days ago 8 replies      
Unfortunately, like other countries, the UK's Border Force[1] clearly has an above-average share of incompetents and bullies. If you give such people any power whatsoever, they will abuse it. Sadly, that's what happened here.

The real problem is that there is no accountability in these organisations. Even if a complaint by Rachel triggered an investigation, the culture in organisations like this is to protect their own. The worst that is likely to happen is that those responsible would be given "words of advice", which is more like a pat on the back than a slap on the wrist.

1: Incidentally, the Border Force is part of the Home Office, which is led by Theresa May, who is behind the push for 1984-style mass surveillance of the UK population.

paulsutter 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is a great article on how /not/ to talk to immigration officials, anywhere. I don't defend any heavy-handed attitude of the officers. It's just useful to understand the purpose behind the process.

> the young immigrations officer at LHR was very inquisitive about this old friend I was going to meet while I was in London for a conference: Who was he? Where did he live? What was our relationship? My awkward answers and copious fear sweating must have been unsatisfactory,...

The officer is trying to determine whether she is coming for a brief visit, or secretly planning to stay for a long time. That's their primary purpose in life. Expect these questions, and give the answers matter-of-factly.

> I just wanted to tell him what he wanted. But somehow that wasnt enough. He tried to play games to prove something, but I didnt seem to play along the way he hoped

It's an interrogation. Which is exactly like a game. It's their job. The secret trick is to tell the truth.

> I told him point blank: there is nothing I can tell you to make you happy. I have to be very careful what information I volunteer, because if I talk too much, you get angry. And now if I dont talk enough, you get angry.

Translation, "I have something to hide and I just want to manipulate you". He doesn't want to hear what makes him happy, he wants to hear the facts. After this they really had no choice but to send her back, even if they were leaning the other way.

petercooper 2 days ago 3 replies      
There is no VISA you can get to receive an honorarium for speaking in the UK

Potential international speakers should also be warned this is also true of the US - except for certain types of academic institution (INA 212(q)). The UK also allows it via https://www.gov.uk/permitted-paid-engagement-visa but again, only for arts or academia. A commercial conference doesn't count, annoyingly (or even a community conference that merely happened to offer honoraria). However, if you are being paid by your employer to attend a conference to speak, it is fine (big disclaimer: IANAL).

Related from a few years ago, Uncle Bob was turned away from the UK: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3282583 - but I'm pretty sure he has been back since.

ahaaaaaaa 2 days ago 2 replies      
Keep in mind, this was a white American detained for some arbitrary visa restrictions which is a rarity. Middle Eastern individuals are very frequently put in the 'corral of shame' for reasons unbeknownst to them. I can't recall how many times I've been randomly searched, or have had officers keep an eye on me. I've also occasionally put through interrogations by irate border patrol over the mundane minutiae of my travel. Her entire ordeal is one I've faced several times solely based off my appearance and name.

These acts and laws only give legitimacy to discriminate and harass travellers of certain backgrounds, yet failing to add any measure of security.

growt 2 days ago 7 replies      
Just a small remark: If you're visiting the USA your fingerprints get taken every time (at least thats my experience). So that part of the story (an american complaining that their fingerprints got taken in the UK) is kind of skewed perspective.
moon_of_moon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Human rights in immigrant detention centres is something everyone should get behind.

Unfortunately this exact kind of treatment is common at the US border. Search for: denied port of entry nightmare.


I guess when you see scores of people trying to scam the system you get hard nosed about it in time.

jbob2000 2 days ago 7 replies      
This was her mistake:

"..where a young man somberly asked me what brought me to the UK.Im giving a talk at a conference then traveling to see a bit of England. I have a letter of invitation, I replied, confidently handing over the requested documents."

Just say "A short vacation", whether it is or not. Don't give the agent any more information than they need. Throughout her entire encounter with the agents, she was giving way more information than she needed to, which was prompting further questions.

CaptSpify 2 days ago 1 reply      
I do often think that we should get rid of special treatment for "important" people going through these types of systems. If politicians, executives, etc had to go through the same thing, I think a lot of the inefficiencies would get fixed. As they stand now, there's no reason to make them efficient, because anyone who has the power to do so bypasses the system entirely.

Imagine how fast things would change if the president had to go through the TSA.

rdtsc 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Never tell them youre coming for anything but tourism.

> When I was finally able to talk to my husband again, one of the very first things he told me was, Dont blame yourself for being truthful.

Very true. Your response goes into a "bin" (or a checkmark on a form). There are only so many bins there. One for terrorists, one for migrant workers, one for tourists. Self employed web developers, who are paid by a German company, do not fit in any of the bins. But they'll still try to pick one.

The lesson bureaucracy is teaching people is to lie. Even though officially on paper they warn people to tell the truth. To put it another way. Consider who you are talking to and decide if they can handle the truth. A bureaucracy and its minions cannot handle it. Or rather, they'll handle it at your detriment.

pjlegato 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's unfortunate what happened to this woman, and probably to many others, but there's no evidence given at all that the "people who look like us" angle was ever a factor in what happened. That is FUD that serves solely to to provoke an irrational emotional response in the reader, not rationally supported in any way.

There's no evidence presented in this article to support the author's many claims that the UK immigration system discriminates on a racial "people who look like us" basis. ("It seems to me..." does not count as evidence.)

Yes, the immigration bureaucracy is badly broken. Yes, the laws are in many cases stupid and ought to be changed. No, latent racism, sexism, or classism are not in any way factors -- at least based on the events described in this article. The very basis of the article -- a middle class professional white woman from the US was deported because she broke the rules, despite her "looks like us" appearance -- is evidence to the contrary.

The one time in the article when she meets someone who might possibly be a racist (which is not even clear), the possible-racist even says that "the rules" always prevent her from ever acting on any of her possibly-racist impulses. Doesn't that mean the system is actually working pretty well in terms of preventing racist factors from entering into its operation?

That whole "people who look like us" theme is fearmongering, pandering to those who both love to speculate wildly about others' motives without evidence, and who are also consumed by liberal guilt. (The only thing missing is a "glance of solidarity" somewhere.)

She is understandably angry that she was deported, and feels like publicly shaming the system that deported her, so she picks a favorite pet issue (hidden racism) that has cachet in society and projects it onto that system, without any supporting evidence at all.

Now, if there is actual evidence of racism in some system, that's another matter entirely. But "it seems to me.." is not, in itself, evidence, it's just unfounded guessing and speculation designed to rile people up into a fit of righteous indignation, on an emotional rather than rational basis.

leovonl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Funny, my experience as South American is the exact opposite: expensive USA VISA (USD 160!) for attending a conference, US border asking about everything, checking my story and even knowledge about programming (!), etc - UK border just asking the purpose of my travel, stamping the passport and saying "welcome to UK". And I didn't even need a VISA.

One thing for sure is: you have to know the visa requirements and you have to answer what they want to hear. That's true everywhere - USA included - so you're just lucky as a USA citizen to never go through the USA interview process.

gambiting 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently an EU citizen living in UK. This here is exactly the reason why I fear that UK might want to leave EU, even though every single English friend of mine is telling me that I would obtain a visa to stay and continue working here without any problems, if visas were introduced. The truth is - if I had to have a visa to stay here, I would rather go to the country of my birth, even though I feel no connection to it. I don't think I could mentally survive the anguish of being denied entry to UK, even though I live here, work here, have my partner, our house and our whole lives here - just because a border official might not like my visa or what I said. It would be just humiliating and the thought of that happening is feeling me with real dread.
BjoernKW 2 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately, I suppose this is exactly what we (meaning the electorate who voted since 2001) wanted. By allowing politicians to pass bills like the Patriot Act (which started this whole mess and quickly brought about similar security and surveillance laws in at least every other country that's on friendly terms with the US) we brought this kind of treatment on ourselves. How can one establish organizations like the TSA or the Border Force - its UK counterpart - and seriously not expect things like this to happen?

Unfortunately, the majority likely doesn't care at all when some 'snotty' designer gets held up at the airport and sent back to her home country. "Probably deserves it anyway in some way, doesn't she?" In fact, resentfulness towards people who get to 'live the life' and travel for 'work' might play a role here, too.

The aspect of a German company paying her in British pounds. shouldn't be a problem at all. After all, that's what the EU single market should be about. Theoretically, that is ... It seems as if the EU can't get anything right anymore these days, though.

Just claiming VAT you payed in another EU country has become so ridiculously complex I have given up on it. Fortunately, in my case it's just things like the occasional conference fee so the loss is minimal but I can't imagine how anyone could run say an eCommerce business in Europe and sell in more than one EU country these days without having to resort to founding a company in each of those countries.

imron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unrelated to the issues raised by the article - I love that the callout text was not simply repeated quotes from the body.

I wish more sites/people would follow this author's lead.

kintamanimatt 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is a horrible experience that she went through, but one quote stuck out:

> The rooms only other occupants were men. I do not feel comfortable in rooms full of men I do not know with the door closed.

Why? This doesn't make sense. What does she think is going to happen? Are most men really presumed to be rapists or something?

tachion 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not that I dont feel sorry for the author of the story, since this is terrible experience, no matter who experiences it, but as an American, a citizen of a country that has one of most restrictive and humiliating border procedures around the civilized world (try landing with valid visa on JFK as non American human being...) complaining at this sounds - well, odd.
olalonde 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The handlers, they talk like you arent listening.

Experienced this at US border a few months ago. Officers repeatedly referred to my wife and another man's wife (both Chinese) as "bitches". After flying 12 hours from Hong Kong and not wanting to be put back on a plane, the best you can do is shut up and play their games until they let you through.

I was also told by the officer that I was stupid for having shown my visa and "nobody does that" (I'm a Canadian who works in the US, I was under the impression I had to show it each time I re-entered... still confused about what he meant).

michaelbuckbee 2 days ago 5 replies      
Stepping slightly back from this particular horrible experience, I don't understand _why_ this particular set of institutional rules are in place.

Was there a thought that foreign speakers who were subsidized by foreign governments were inciting rebellion?

Are there tax issues?

Was this some big money laundering loophole or something?

Is there a concern that people were using this as figleaf to immigrate illegally?

davb 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm Scottish, and I absolutely detest traveling through Heathrow. The security and border controls there are some of the most oppressive I've ever encountered.

Depending on where you're flying, that could include multiple baggage searches and multiple biometric photos (flying OUT of the UK, I counted three - security, a secondary queue before entering the terminal concourse, and at the gate). Questioning why you're being photographed (let alone asking about data retention policies) just invites further scrutiny and questioning.

Recently I had my bag emptied (I wasn't allowed to unpack it carefully) and was questioned very rigorously as to why I was carrying so many cables (I had a micro-USB cable to charge my phone, a laptop charger, and an HDMI cable to watch some Netflix at the hotel). I had to justify each item in my bag.

The attitude is the worst part. I feel like I'm being treated like a criminal and have to prove that I'm not. Every time I travel in or out, I feel the anxiety rise. It's difficult to explain.

That's not to suggest Glasgow Intl Airport is much better. Flying to the US last month, I check-in queues for AA were enormous. Some staff (I assumed they were customer service agents trying to keep the queuing travellers happy) were walking up and down, chatting with people.

They cheerily asked "Where are you going?". "Oh that's exciting. Have you been before? I love that city! Did you have to save up much spending money for an 8 day trip? What are you planning to do when you're there?"

As the questions went on, I got more suspicious.

"What do you do for a living? Oh that sounds exciting. Did you grow up in Glasgow? What about your fiance, what does she do? Oh, you got engaged in the US? How long was that trip and what did you see when you were there?"

At the end, the guy asked for my passport and attached a "Security cleared" sticker to it.

I'd been surreptitiously interviewed and subject to behavioural profiling by staff from a contractor named ICTS [1]. It wasn't a good feeling. I felt deceived. It felt like they were putting a friendly face on trying to catch me out.

This only seemed to be happening in the AA line, and I've never been subject to this sort of interview in the past.

Does this actually work? I'd assume that any determined terrorist or trouble-maker would have a big smile and a well-rehearsed story.

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

s_kilk 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a horrible story, but sadly not surprising to me anymore.

UK Border Control: a uniformly hostile and spiteful organisation.

Singletoned 2 days ago 4 replies      
I can't imagine a circumstance where I would be entering a country like the UK or US, and when asked what my visit was for, I would say anything except for "I'm on holiday". Being out of the ordinary is very dangerous.

That said people shouldn't be subjected to such unnecessary unpleastantness.

johansch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Last time I flew into the US (from Sweden) for another week of work meetings with the team in the Bay area something almost like this happened to me. I wasn't deported though, just sent off to secondary interrogation and was scared and delayed for an extra hour because of nothing.

The reason? I was asked by the clerk when I last flew out of the US. Being quite groggy from a very long trip, having made made, many other international trips since that date in January, I was not able to quickly enough answer him in a "confident" manner. I was not allowed to use my phone to actually look up the date.

At almost every step until the absolute last minutes, when I actually got to talk to someone, explain my situation, show my business card etc, I was met with passive aggressive hostility.

My passport was taken away with my by some random uniformed person who just walked away with into some other room. I had no trust in this obviously incompetent system, so I worried about actually getting the passport back. Everything just seemed incredibly... stupid and arbitrary.

If it's just a matter of keeping these mouth breeders occupied it would be a lot more transparent and less disruprupting if you'd just ask an entry fee to your magic kingdom, to pay for the upkeep of these people.

opendomain 2 days ago 0 replies      
My biggest problem with this is that Speakers at conferences are NOT paid. This has to be the biggest lie ever told.

I know some 'conferences' are small and for the good of the development community. Then the entrance fee should be free.

I have been to conferences that paid nothing or 'honorarium' amounts to speakers, but they charge THOUSANDS of dollars to enter. PLUS expensive Hotels.

This is what everyone should say when asked to speak at a conference: NO SPEC WORK. SHUT UP- PAY ME.

DanBC 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sorry she had a terrible experience. But the visa requirements are pretty clear, and she needed a standard visa.

Here's the "do you need a visa" website. https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

Walk through it. She's from the USA. She's travelling for work, academic or business. She's planning to stay less than six months.

Here's the result:https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/usa/work/six_months_or_le...

 You don't need a visa for some business and academic visits, but you must get a visa to work in the UK. You may be able to come to the UK without a visa if you: are invited as an expert in your profession come for other business or academic activities

 If youre invited as an expert You can stay in the UK for up to 1 month without a visa, but you can only be paid to do certain things, eg: give guest lectures at a higher education institution provide advocacy in legal proceedings take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities Check the full list of what you can be paid to do - its the same as what you can do on a Permitted Paid Engagement visa.

 If you come for other business or academic activities You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, but you can only do certain academic or business-related activities, eg: go to a conference, meeting or training take part in a specific sports-related event perform as an artist, entertainer or musician do academic research or accompany students on a study abroad programme Check the full list of what you can do - its the same as what you can do on a Standard Visitor visa.
Here's the permitted paid engagement visa: https://www.gov.uk/permitted-paid-engagement-visa

Here's the standard visa: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa

andrewaylett 2 days ago 0 replies      
It bothers me that people have to already know their rights to be able to take advantage of them.

On one hand, due process. I can see that the option to waive one's rights might be occasionally beneficial, but mostly to the police/border force, rather that to the individual. Police do at least have to tell someone their basic rights, but I find it really difficult to understand people who think that it makes sense to try to deny anyone due process by not doing that (see the Boston Bombers).

On the other hand, there are positive rights mentioned here, like the right to go to a hotel to get some sleep. It doesn't seem likely that anyone would know about it unless they were told, so why don't we tell them at the appropriate time? Again, time constraints might mean that in some cases people don't want to take advantage of their rights, but I'm disappointed at how much worse the author's experience was than it should have been.

blibble 2 days ago 1 reply      
gov.uk might look pretty, but often the language used on it is imprecise and often inaccurate.directgov (the previous site) was terrible to use and look at, but the information on it was unparalleled in its accuracy and comprehensiveness, which is what I really want from the government.

sadly gov.uk have stated that they are more interested in making the information easy to read, rather than accurate.

Velox 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author quite rightly points out that most of the English speaking countries would treat people exactly the same way, however I find it a little odd that she wouldn't ever go back to the UK, but makes no mention of visiting these other countries. It seems that her opinion of the UK doesn't quite match up with the statement that they are all the same.
bald 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a very detailed account of what happens for EU citiziens at the US border.
kennell 2 days ago 2 replies      
As someone whos job was to oranize visas for various countries around the world for some time, here is my advice. If you are doing this kind of semi-business/semi-pleasure/speak-at-aconference/whatever trips, just get a tourist visa. Everything else is a giant mess.
ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Several generations from now people are going to tell their kids stories of how there used to be people that traveled between countries.

I don't see how technology can prevent this outcome, if anything it will make it worse.

Governments are just too paranoid and criminals/terrorist too eager to make them punish everyone for their crimes.

Vaguely related, did you know Japan has taken in a total of THREE immigrants this year? Japan imprisons applicants and makes life living hell for anyone that wants to migrate there because they are paranoid about outsiders. Tourism is fine as long as you leave.

no1youknowz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I remember when I came to the US 3 years ago.

I had a return ticket.I had sufficient funds to pay for a hotel, food, travel around the city.I had medical insurance.I was self employed.

The problem I had? When I told the border patrol inspector who was asking me questions, that my stay was 3 months vacation. His reaction was like... NO WAY, THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

This was in New Jersey. I was brought to the back, answered all the questions. They took my phone and went through it. When the other border guard came back, he said there were "inconsistencies" with my story. I just said "Oh ok" and held firm.

He called the contact I had even him and I think what helped, was the woman who answered. Bitched at him for 5 minutes straight, she was at the airport. I was staying with her until I got a hotel and she was demanding to know "as a tax payer". Why I was there, when I was visiting her and I was a tourist.

They let me through.

After the 3 months, I returned back to the UK for 2 weeks. I then went back to the US. This time, I had learnt my lesson and went via New York. The border patrol officer this time didn't even look at me. I presume he saw my previous flight information and that AGAIN, I was staying for 3 months.

He stamped my passport and "off you go".

I've travelled all over the world. Wherever I go and for whatever duration. I am a tourist. End of story.

alejohausner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it's a generational thing. The OP and many posters here on HN had very nice, supportive parents who told them that the world is on their side, that they would succeed in whatever they tried to do, and that people are generally good-willed.

I on the other hand am afraid of figures of authority. I fear the police. I don't think that things will necessarily go well. And I'm especially afraid at the border. I answer the officer's questions as laconically as possible, usually in monosyllables. Things usually go well.

Imagine a thought experiment, where the OP's middle class white mind was teleported into an African American's body, dropped into a poor part of town, and stopped by the police. She would have been just as traumatized.

PaulHoule 2 days ago 3 replies      
England has probably the toughest border to cross of any country I have been to.
intoverflow2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Pretty much the same sort of experience you'd get travelling any international borders.
ommunist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meet the Leviathan. British one is a rather small creature comparing to the US one.
anentropic 2 days ago 0 replies      
foreign bands coming to play SXSW have the same problem entering USA
VonGuard 2 days ago 0 replies      
UK border guards and customs people are, literally, Vogons.
droopybuns 2 days ago 1 reply      
The writing style is muddled and kind of hard to read. I'm sorry this happened to her, but it seems like she could be a candidate for a perfect storm of miscommunication.
pbarnes_1 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm here for vacation."


"I'm attending a conference."

The end. Say as little as possible, nicely. Don't turn it into a thing.

nnd 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I just follow the rules". - So were the participants of the Milgram experiment.
grownseed 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you ever feel like being dehumanized in the most senseless fashion, immigration is definitely the way to go.

Currently an immigrant in Canada, I recently went through a bit of an ordeal. I've been a Temporary Foreign Worker for a few years now, and every year or so, you are required to renew your work permit. So far, this is pretty standard. My first work permit was issues in about five days under a special clause for French speakers, allowing my to forego the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It went really smoothly overall.

The next year, I renewed my work permit, only this time around it took three and a half months. The clause for French speakers had been renamed and moved to a different set of documents, but I had found it. My original work permit had expired while waiting for the renewed one, but at least I was on implied status, so I could work, though I no longer had access to free healthcare, nor could I leave the country (as it would mean losing implied status).

Then last year, I went through the same motions to renew my work permit. This time, it took even longer than the previous time and the same "implied status" thing applied. Four and a half months later, I received a message telling me that as of a specific date, the same date I received the message, I no longer had status, because of a missing form from my employer. As it turned out, Canadian immigrations had changed the rules the previous year, and employers were now required to submit a fee along with a form to essentially prove they wanted to hire you (different from an LMIA). This is quite obviously a money-grabbing scheme, but let's not get caught up. I was never made aware of this change in the rules, and clearly my employer didn't pick up on it, yet I was the one paying the consequences. This is all knowing that the conditions of my employment have remained completely unchanged during my whole time in Canada.

Not knowing what was going to happen, I was pretty distraught. On top of that, my original application fees had essentially gone down the drain, and I had to re-submit my application and the associated fees, including a premium to restore my status (all within thirty days), all the while receiving no income and not being eligible for Employment Insurance (which I pay, but ironically am not entitled to, since no work = no status = no benefits). I thought I could at least leave the country and go work somewhere else for a while, but that would have invalidated my work permit altogether, a risk I could not take.

So I went through the motions, again, getting and submitting information I had already provided countless times. My friends and family kept asking how long it was going to take, to which I had absolutely no answer, nor any recourse to get any sort of clarifications. I had no idea how long my money would last or what my life would become (I've very much settled here, relationship, friends, etc.). Trying to find reassurance through other people or on the Internet ended up achieving the opposite (some of the stories you can read on immigration forums just want to make you cry).

A few months later, my work permit was thankfully restored. I now have to mention my work permit refusal and restoration in all immigration-related matters, in the same section that asks you whether you've been associated to terrorists, have murdered somebody and the likes.

There are many situations far worse than mine, people having their immigration applications cancelled out of the blue, people unable to work but stuck in the country for up to a few a years at a time, not knowing what the outcome will be, etc.

The uncertainty and opaqueness of the whole process is truly mind-boggling. It is genuinely impossible to find a single, reliable source of information. The Canadian Immigration website contains a lot of conflicting and outdated information, lots of links don't work, the language is wildly inconsistent, and more. Calling Canadian immigration will have you on hold for extended periods of time, to eventually be told in one form or another that they won't provide you with any information that's not explicitly on the website. Should you ask for any clarifications, or god forbid point to a problem with the information that's provided, you will systematically be told to seek private help. This essentially means finding immigration lawyers, who I learnt later (from an immigration lawyer friend as I did/could not hire one) do most of their work based on precedent, as immigration law is so unpredictable.

This is actually an absurdly compact version of the whole story. I could have mentioned the inherent stress of never knowing whether you have done something wrong, the profiling of immigrants in the name of equality, the rampant abuse of the immigration system by elected officials, the government-backed ponzi scheme for immigrant qualifications, and many more. Hopefully though, for those who are new to this game, this is enough to digest for now.

sparky1990 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I told him point blank: there is nothing I can tell you to make you happy. I have to be very careful what information I volunteer, because if I talk too much, you get angry. And now if I dont talk enough, you get angry."

It was over for her right here.

She came across as nervous, evasive, defensive and then antagonist. She is leaking privilege all over this post.

And she really was treated just like everyone else in detention. Of course she wasn't a terrorist, but she was being detained and that never feels good, nor is a hotel. That's reality.

Border agents have enormous latitude. Your attitude matters when dealing with any authority. Maybe it shouldn't, but there are roles here and when you step out of the expected role you start triggering something. How would she have spoken to a judge in a court of law?

Sure, she didn't deserve this, but she didn't do anything to improve her situation, either. It doesn't matter how little sleep she had, or how virtuous her cause, or whether she is a big deal in her industry. It's naive to think that any of this is relevant, frankly.

No border guard cares about your self-perception of virtue. They are about tax avoidance and illegal immigration. And just like a pediatrician develops the ability to instantly detect a "funny looking kid," a border guard who sees thousands and thousands of people has similar behavioral flags.

"I'm here for a conference."

"What topic?"

"Web development."

"How long are you staying?"

"One week."

"What else will you be doing?"

"I will do a little sightseeing while I'm here."

"Have a good stay."


No lies, nothing cagey in this. There are bins and categories; don't do anything that puts you into a special bin. It's not that hard. Be like the other thousand people they saw this week who are attending a conference.

I travel all over the world to speak at conferences. Apart from China and Russia, I never mess around with invitation letters or special papers. I am calm and matter of fact, and so is the border agent. Each of us plays our role and then we move along.

"I'm here for a conference." Which is true.

FFS, I live in the US and my wife (a Finn) has a UK permanent residency and works in London. I go back and forth about six times a year, I stay for weeks. When they ask the purpose of my visit I simply say, "I'm visiting my wife." I'm friendly and calm.

"Are you planning to immigrate?"

"Maybe some day."

I thought being married to a UK resident would be a flag, but it actually isn't. They care about illegal immigration and tax avoidance because that is their job. I am calm, even friendly, and I don't trigger any suspicion. I finally applied for Frequent Traveler status and now just use the UK /EU electronic gates. That wasn't hard, either. Didn't even need to give a reason for that!

Don't be defensive, don't provoke suspicion, don't volunteer unnecessary details. Don't lie, but be shrewd about this situation. Don't trigger special handling.

OP does seem to express a bit of a special snowflake tone in her piece. Privilege. Not a good vibe once they are triggered. Earnest humility is the tone you want to adopt. That is proper etiquette given the real power differential. This isn't being subordinate, it's just like being in court. Respect the judge. This border agent is actually judging you--that's their job.

None of what happened to her was personal and no one here was ever going to say, "well, you seem like a decent person doing good work; I guess we can just fudge this a teeny bit." They can't and won't do that, and frankly, her attitude probably evoked a little contempt, thus reducing her chances for even what teeny latitude she might have had.

Her experience was exactly what people who expect to get a little special handling have when they encounter faceless rule-driven systems. "But this is ME! Why are you doing this to ME?"

People without privilege have no such illusions and understand these situations.

tomp 2 days ago 2 replies      
> They are now in a database for ten years where they will be shared with all members of the EEA, which is most European countries.

Given that she's an American, I really have no sympathies for this. I've had to give my fingerprints to the US border agents every time I went to the US.

2 days ago 2 days ago 10 replies      
"I would love to know if people from the UK suffer the same sort of troubles entering the US"

I personally have had extended grief entering the US on a number of occasions - not in the last 4 or 5 years though. Worst was probably an extended session with me being asked why I went to Turkey so often from the UK (saying "it's a nice place to go on holiday" seemed to make them angry [maybe a lack of vacation days] - I think I must have provided 20 variations on that statement).

A friend who was a senior corporate lawyer had it much worse when he visited the US from the UK to attend a legal conference - extended stay and a "cavity search".

Open access: All human knowledge is there, so why cant everybody access it? arstechnica.co.uk
344 points by doener  2 days ago   102 comments top 14
Houshalter 2 days ago 6 replies      
I think it's an issue of copyright law being ridiculous.

Nonfiction and scientific work should be treated differently than fictional works. I don't really care if Mickey Mouse goes into the public domain. But it's crazy that 100 year old scientific works can still be under copyright and illegal to distribute. These objectively have value to society, and the argument for the existence of the public domain is much stronger.

It shouldn't last indefinitely. Maybe only 10 or 15 years. I believe 99% of all works make most of their money in the first few years. Having copyright last a lifetime, let alone much longer, is just crazy.

Put a cost on renewing copyright. This is actually how it used to be. Half way through, you could pay a fee to have copyright extended. Very few people paid this fee (because most works aren't economically valuable), so most works went into public domain much sooner. Journals charge $30 to access obscure ancient papers. But I bet they wouldn't pay even $30 to keep the rights to those same papers.

Don't put everything into copyright by default. And again especially works of nonfiction or scientific papers. If the authors want that, then sure. This wouldn't fix the issues with big journals that demand it. But it still seems like a sensible idea to have copyright opt-in, not opt-out.

dougmccune 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you're doing a startup trying to innovate in the research and academic journal space I'd love to talk to you. I've put out requests for contact in HN comment threads like this before and gotten great responses and great conversations, and one even resulted in a funding round.

I'm a shareholder and board member of SAGE Publications, which was founded by my grandparents. SAGE is about the 5th largest journal publisher and is and will remain a private family-owned company. I know it's hard to believe, but publishers aren't one homogenous evil entity plotting how to rip off the public. There are lots of fucked up things about the journal system, many of which publishers have caused or been complicit in. But there are also a lot of complicated factors that are entirely outside publishers' ability to change. Academia is a mess in a lot of ways, and much of the overall dysfunction of the whole system has manifested in what has become the hard to comprehend journal publishing system of today.

I live in Oakland and would love to meet up with anyone who happens to be in the Bay Area, or just have Skype calls no matter where you are. My contact info is in my HN profile. Drop me an email and I'd love to pick your brain to hear about how you're approaching academic publishing.

We've funded two startups in the last few years. PeerJ is an open access journal undercutting the traditional publishers AND most OA publishers (like PLOS) on price. Publons is trying to provide incentives for peer review and encourage openness in the peer review process. We'd love to find a few more good companies doing truly innovative stuff that will have an impact on academic publishing.

zw123456 2 days ago 4 replies      
This reminded me of back 30 years ago or more when I first was messing around with Arpanet and it was just turning into the Internet, I remember how all of my friends and I were so stoked about how it was going to change the world because everyone would have access to all the knowledge in the world and how exciting that was, the democratization of knowledge. We speculated on how everyone in the future would be so much smarter because they would have access to so much information and knowledge. Some of that is true, but sadly, not entirely. Much of the greatest knowledge is locked away. And even sadder still, so many people do not really cherish what we have and instead use it for a lot of ridiculous nonsense, which, I guess is me being Judgmental about what the internet should be used for. I guess what it really shows, is that the future often does not turn out the way you thought it would . I think this is a case like that, we thought knowledge would flow freely like from a fountain or oracle of wisdom, but instead it is filled with 140 character snotty comments and pictures of cats with fruit on their heads. Sorry for the rant.
Ruud-v-A 2 days ago 1 reply      
I try to avoid citing articles that are only available behind a paywall. Even though there isnt always an alternative source available, if enough people favour citing open-access articles over paywalled ones, that should create an incentive to publish in open-access journals, because in academia, citations are everything. (That is a problem in itself, but it is the status quo.)
Roritharr 2 days ago 2 replies      
I consider my belief how this particular battle will turn out a good litmus test for my pessimism/optimism.

Some days I can't imagine a future where universal open access is implemented, at other times it seems inevitable. Seeing that I must normally believe it to be a 50/50 thing makes it a great way to calibrate my mood out of my decision making process.

More on topic: I wonder if we'll see countries take a stance in these battles. Why isn't Ecuador Hosting a Sci-Hub Mirror for their citizens? The naive observer might think there is only upsides for countries like these to such an action.

yagyu 1 day ago 1 reply      
A light academic disobedience is to refuse to peer-review non-open papers.

I'm trying it for now, you could, too.


doener 1 day ago 0 replies      
At least in the EU there is some progress on this matter:

All European scientific articles to be freely accessible by 2020


sgt101 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a more fundamental issue - try answering questions about science with a six year old and google. Yes, they can frame their question, yes they can type it into google, yes google provides links. But, click on the links and ads, speedbumps and plain clickbait stop them dead. Very disappointing. Ok you say, put an adblocker on.. well yes but there goes the revenue that keeps many sites online.
keyle 1 day ago 1 reply      
To be fair though, if I had access to all these papers I wouldn't understand a third of it.

It's the dumbed down version of them that should be more proactively shared. And if interested, one can dig deep into the subject at hand.

IncRnd 1 day ago 0 replies      
The premise of the click-bait title is clearly false.
graycat 2 days ago 1 reply      
First, some of the "knowledge" is deep, that is, has prerequisites, and getting through the prerequisites can use some guidance, help, etc., say, in high school, college, and graduate schools.

Next, finding the material on the Internet, say, 1 trillion or so Web pages, is too often from difficult to much worse. My startup is intended to help with that.

bra-ket 2 days ago 2 replies      
An article on open access without mentioning sci-hub?
pasbesoin 1 day ago 1 reply      
For me, it's coming down to a fundamental difference or distinction: Those who believe in a zero-sum-gain world, and those who believe in a net-sum-gain world.

I fall into the latter camp. In other words, I believe that by sharing and cooperating, we all can advance.

And, I find myself increasingly thinking and experiencing that the zero-sum-gainers are my opposition. They take as much as they can get away with, and they give as little as they can get away with.

Personal advancement, versus communal.

I can't cooperate with them.

And, I no longer want to engage with them.

I cannot afford to do things that lend or provide them power. For it is only ever turned against me, to leverage further advantage.

Now... for "the community" to come to realize this, and act upon it.

We won the battle for Linux, but we're losing the battle for freedom linuxjournal.com
403 points by alxsanchez  3 days ago   239 comments top 20
kardashev 3 days ago 4 replies      
From the comments it doesn't look like many read the article. Here's the tldr:

Free software won. Yay!However, what about hardware, infrastructure, and services? Oops. All those things have been become increasingly centralized. Centralization has diminished our privacy, and therefore our liberty. Time to put restrictions on corporations so we can have liberty again.


Now the only part I disagree with is the last part. Laws and regulations got us into this mess in the first place. These companies are huge because they can sue or prevent others from competing through laws and regulations. Guess who lobbies to create these laws in the first place? (It's not the little guy) The biggest problem is Intellectual Property (IP). Because of it we have DRM and many companies have very literal monopolies (enforced by government) on things. Apple has a patent on rounded rectangles for heaven's sake.

What we need is a decentralization of power, and a turn towards distributed systems. The best way to do that will be to eliminate IP. That will take some time, but we should do it gradually. By allowing people to "copy" it will create competition and weaken the monopoly-like position many of these companies hold. Power will fragment and decentralize. That should be the goal.

gaius 3 days ago 4 replies      
Apple's OS X, which wouldn't be what it is if Linux hadn't already been the leading nix OS.*

Well that isn't true. NeXTStep was built on the 68k from 4.3BSD which originated on the VAX. It has no lineage in common with Linux, and in fact pre-dates it. And OSX now is by far the most popular workstation Unix.


legulere 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think the problem is that the FSF's definition of freedom still stems from a time where everybody being a programmer was seen as a realistic and achievable goal.

The actual situation is that we have two groups that care about different things: Users and developers.

Users' biggest concern is that the software helps them achieve what they want to do. They care about restrictions like DRM if it hinders them in doing what they want to do. The only way free software can help here is that other people (developers) can remove those restrictions. Proprietary software can easily offer the same freedoms for users.

dTal 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great article, if a little slapdash on the details. I don't agree with the notion that we're "losing"; the reason is neatly exemplified by the HN front page:

 3. FreeBSD 10.3 officially supported on Microsoft Azure (microsoft.com) 138 points by tachion 6 hours ago | flag | 77 comments 10. Microsoft Edge WebGL engine open-sourced (github.com) 308 points by aroman 13 hours ago | flag | 80 comments 24. How the Windows Subsystem for Linux Redirects Syscalls (microsoft.com) 330 points by jackhammons 20 hours ago | flag | 243 comments
Microsoft. Open-sourced. Time travel from even 5 years ago and that HN front page would blow your mind. Industry-wide, it's more and more common now for "free" to be the default. Heck, complain about Android all you like, but for all that, the OS itself is miles more free than Windows. We actually owe this dire forking situation to the freedom Android affords - imagine if every fly-by-night laptop manufacturer felt comfortable rolling their own custom branded Windows with proprietary interface components.

I don't argue for complacency. We need to up our game with things like GPL compliance and reclaim the concept of a "distro", but on phones this time. But taking the long view, we're definitely "winning".

massysett 3 days ago 4 replies      
"So what's our next fight?"

I don't have a next fight. If I'm going to fight for something, it's going to be something a whole lot more important than computer software. Free software is here to stay. Success has occurred. I'm not going to grope around for another fight. Instead I'm going to harness my software freedoms to write software that does what I need it to do.

Hydraulix989 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty disappointed. If anything Silicon Valley really screwed up by achieving the exact OPPOSITE of what the FOSS movement was striving for.

The commercialization of software has resulted in these walled gardens of proprietary software, closed data, closed formats, etc.

It's a sad day, for example, when a large percentage of the population actually believes that Facebook is the Internet.

lmm 3 days ago 4 replies      
We lost Linux. The big thing about Linux was that you could swap out pieces of it for better ones if you wanted. "Linux is about choice" - vi or emacs, KDE or Gnome and so on.

OSX doesn't have that. Android doesn't have that. And in these days of systemd, Linux doesn't even have that any more.

the8472 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think what's contributing to the whole hourglass thing is that browsers do not play nicely with native/low-level primitives. It's bascially yet another waist above the OS waist (browser APIs) and the IP waist (HTTP).

Develop a nice decentralized solution? Maybe it involves some UDP multicast? Forget the browser.

Want to have two devices on the network talk to each other? Bounce it through a cloud provider.

Want to use "everything is a file"-files? The browser's interaction with the filesystem is incredibly clumsy.

So if you wanted to use the full strength of linux/any other lower layers, this would hamper adoption.

api 3 days ago 3 replies      
Free <> Freedom

Since everything in OSS has to be free, there is no economic model. Eventually things with an economic model supersede or embrace/extend open ecosystems because they have the resources to do so. They also have the resources to address user experience, which is the most important thing unless your target audience consists of only hackers. (Even then it still matters.) Good UX is an immense amount of work, and it's the sort of work that devs tend not to find fun and therefore must be paid to do.

Until and unless there is an economic model for free-as-in-freedom, surveillance-ware and closed models will continue to dominate.

nxzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone that deeply cares about tech & freedom, truly feel most techies fail to see that that majority of the world does not see freedom as a priority.

While I do not know the answer, I do believe it's possible to find one.

Focus on building relationships first, then tech.

Esau 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think that if you are concerned about freedom, then you need to use an OS that is not controlled a commercial entity. OS X, iOS, Windows, Android, ChromeOS, and Ubuntu all have issues; even though some of them are open source.
bluejekyll 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish he would have gone more into the design of the kernel and significant changes that are going to be needed to take advantage of the NVRAM based systems that are coming very soon. The I/O design needs to be completely overhauled.

It's probably going to be a great time to rewrite and resign portions of Linux, but I honestly don't think the community will be capable of doing a major architectural change. Kernel modules have been a great step towards modular design, and this needs to be pushed everywhere so that more changes can be isolated in the development process.

I've been a huge Linux (and GNU, most of what this article is about really is GNU, not Linux) user since being introduced to it in 1996, but as much as I love it, I do wonder if there are new options that will reveal themselves in the next few years that will better answer some of the modern hardware advancements. Linux is a beast of a system now, with a lot of technical debt and a hard to penetrate C code base, I hope it can evolve where it needs to, but I think it will require huge commitments from the community.

Pica_soO 3 days ago 0 replies      
The battle is for the heads, and the future battlefield are the minds of tomorrow. The defeating blow is that Microsoft owns now minecraft - the first experience of the hacker culture a kid could have today where tech has become magic. This "Do-it-yourself" could have educated a million freedom demanding, because limits not accepting citizens. Now its hugged to death.
zanny 3 days ago 7 replies      
Meanwhile, Windows is still pretty much the only desktop OS for 99% of people, Nvidia has stolen large-scale compute with a holistically proprietary CUDA, and Google has hijacked the ecosystem and culture with Android and ChromeOS (the former by having vendors use the incredibly destructive model of forking the kernel and stuffing it with binary blobs rendering it stuck to that version on whatever device you have, and the later replacing userspace with Google's web properties exclusively).

> So it's hard for a generative OS to support whole stacks of hardware below and software above.

Is only true because of how Google broke Linux. If we had gotten all these garbage phone vendors to upstream open drivers rather than shove proprietary bullshit into every Android handset, Cyanogenmod would not be the only group even remotely capable of keeping up with legions of arbitrary kernels with tons of broken proprietary bits littering the market.

This post is more about the mindshare effect Facebook and Google properties have on people, but there is actually and honestly nothing we can do about that at this point. No killer feature or guarantee of privacy or distributed solution is going to break the network effect of Facebook or Twitter now. As long as we keep the social network alternatives like ostatus and diaspora alive and we can claw long and hard to pull some users there just to keep them afloat we can't really expect to do more.

But we can do a lot more on the hardware front. We are still crippled by proprietary firmwares everywhere[1], rampant with backdoors, and there is no mindshare there to worry about - all it takes is a concerted effort and focus and within several hardware generations we can reverse this dire course, and the consumers do not even need to notice it happening. But if we can get at least some viable computing platform without any trade secreted proprietary freedom-crippled bits that could be spying on you, stealing your info, or just not operating how you want, we could at least sit in our silo and preach from a hardened rather than rickety tower of ethics.

[1] http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/discussion/2016-April/01...

PS: Considering this is about the Linux anniversary on Linux Journal, it is worth mentioning the gross negligence in enforcing the GPL with Linux has contributed a lot to the ability for corporate market dominators to seize control. All those Nvidia CUDA servers depend on the passivity in addressing Nvidia's proprietary kernel modules, and all those Android phones depend on the apathy of Linux developers to ever go after the hardware manufacturers for obviously and blatantly violating the GPL on almost every Android handset by forking the kernel, integrating proprietary driver software, and then going so far as to modify the free parts in some ways incompatible with upstream to make it work with the proprietary parts. The day Linux GPL enforcement is a thing is one step closer to curtailing the power abuses by many of these large enterprises over their users because that is actually a straightforward way to do it.

throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
A tad premature one thinks and who is the we? Linux has been incubating a monster within its midst that goes by the name Redhat. This is the cathedral that was born in the bazaar with $2 billion in revenues, tight ties to the freedom loving US security industry and wielding massive influence thanks to its the ability to fund developers and projects to get things its way. If your fundamental altruistic principles depend on a commercial organizations goodwill your position is already comprised.

A cathedral is primarily concerned with self preservation and it will be naive to ignore how money drives decisions in the real world. A lot of the freedom that got Linux here and Redhat itself to its billion dollar revenues are now being slowly plucked away to entrench Redhat's continued dominance but this is not Redhat's fault. Any organization that got that big would do the same and it's the open source world's failure to anticipate and account for the disproportionate influence something like this would wield.

Even today most Linux organizations are industry bodies with no voice for the users, and in many circles there is open contempt for users nevermind its their commitment though some pretty dismal software that got you in a position that you can choose to ignore them in the first place. A project without users has no reason to exist.

As for Android how is it Linux? You can't run Linux on your Android phones. The GPU, hardware and drivers is locked down so tightly it makes Microsoft and Intel look like Stallman's soulmate when compared to Arm and its vendor ecosystem. And Google too, Android was designed to work around the GPL. Using Android to beat the Linux drum is galling and self defeating.

What we have is thousands of companies benefiting from Open source to build multiple billion empires. 20 years later there is not a single resource that tell you all the companies using open source and how they support it or give back. There is no transparency, pressure or even the felt need to give back. The newer lot of developers do not seem to even care about GPL though that could just be the audience here. Gloating about winning in the context seems misplaced even if it were true. It was never about winning but about choice.

shmerl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Linux has surely advanced, and in some areas clearly won. Not everywhere though. Desktop usage and gaming are still an uphill battle against incumbent monopolists.

I agree with the rest. Decentralization of services and usage of FOSS for them is critical for freedom as well. Consider what a major mess instant messaging still is. Despite all the years of innovation it's a horrible mix of non interoperable walled gardens (unlike e-mail). How can this mess be fixed and "next Facebook" be avoided exactly? Decentralized social networks exist, but they are still in infancy, and making them grow is not trivial.

But of course it goes beyond all that. More importantly, consider advancement of society towards some non too distant technological future. Do we want to see a grim cyberpunk like domination of governments+megacorporations meld which controls everyone's life through access to augmentations and technology of everyday things, or we want to preserve free society while still having advanced technology?

ovt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I page through, knowing already that there's a problem, to see what he's thinking in terms of solutions.

At the bottom I catch a reference to ProjectVRM. I follow the link and what I find is all bloggy and vague. If there's anything concrete in there, it's not brought together in front of the new visitor.

aminok 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of promise in distributed Turing Complete blockchains like Ethereum giving a nonproprietary and decentralized alternative to centralized services. There is a positive feedback loop where the more smart contracts are uploaded to the blockchain, the more useful it becomes, and the more people upload their programs to it to utilize that functionality. All of these smart contracts necessarily make their code accessible to the public, in being hosted on a public blockchain, and are copyleft, since there's no way enforce IP law on their use.

It could conceivably neutralize the forces that enable big government and big business.

officialchicken 3 days ago 2 replies      
Like everyone, I want more freedom, not less: the battle should begin with a sane GPL version 4. See the MIT, BSD and LGPL licenses which provide more freedom over GPL3.
tacos 3 days ago 3 replies      
We're also a lot older now and many realize the "us versus them" thing wasn't helpful. Shame the article opens with such a flattering retelling of a wonky strategy.

It was always the data, not the code. Try and find an open dataset for any interesting machine learning problem and you'll realize that while "freedom" was busy doing things like setting back the use of precompiled headers in GCC a decade and making it virtually impossible for an artist to get a copy of ffmpeg that handles all the file formats she needs, the real value remains the data.

We don't need 15 open source PDF viewers. We need open access to the papers. And even hippie scientists at Berkeley seem unwilling to share those for some reason. So odd given the heritage.

I don't care much about Google's half-baked machine learning library. Give me the 128k neural output from the 250TB of voice queries if you wanna be "open" and advance machine learning. Unsurprisingly they've got that locked up tight. But culturally you can make the argument that's very much "ours" just like government-funded research papers are.

Given interesting data, nerds will ALWAYS find a way to read it. Focusing on code was a bit of a mistake; that's cheap and you get it for free. And the gap between open software licenses and Creative Commons licensing always seemed odd.

Canadian doctors reverse severe MS using stem cells vox.com
362 points by yurisagalov  1 day ago   76 comments top 15
wildmXranat 1 day ago 1 reply      
I live in Canada. I just listened to one of the participants talk about the experience on the radio and I found it just incredible.

In her own words, "She could not feel her body from the neck down. After the long and gruel ordeal procedure, she began to get sensation back. Things like hot and cold water began to be discernible. She no longer needed to hold both railings when walking down stairs in her home, needing a cane to get the mail, etc ..."

She said that it gave her her life back. She said that in short time, she began to get bored with doing the regular, tired routine and actually got a part-time job.

I mean, all that sounds phenomenal.

tempestn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sounds like another good reason to consider banking stem cells, as described here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11830407

In this case the article describes using chemotherapy to stimulate generation of stem cells, then scrubbing them of the disease before reintroducing. I have no expertise in this field, but I would think having a bank of healthy stem cells would have simplified the procedure and perhaps improved the likelihood of positive outcomes.

@markkat if you're reading this, do you have any comment?

Hondor 1 day ago 1 reply      
That all happened 15 years ago. The article mentions that it's available at some hospitals, so that suggests it was ultimately successful and it's now part of regular medicine. I suppose it's still only for 5% of cases and only as a last resort and still most patients aren't having any reversal of their disease. There doesn't sound like much hope for it to expand to cure MS in general given how long it's been with apparently no further progress.
kakoni 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Related; Type 1 diabetes being also auto-immune disease.There have been now atleast 2 groups that have succesfully done "cure" using same kind of immune system reboot strategy.

few interesting links;

[1] http://cureresearch4type1diabetes.blogspot.fi/2008/12/burts-...


[2] http://cureresearch4type1diabetes.blogspot.fi/2010/11/snarsk...

jeroen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> And there are questions about the very long-term effects. Its not clear what the next 10, 20, or 50 years look like for patients like Molson.

Does that even matter? Molson would probably be dead right now if it weren't for the treatment, not to mention an enormous increase in quality of life. Even if the treatment kills her in 10 years, she will have had 25 years of a proper life, versus a few more years of lying in bed.

Of course long term effects are interesting to study and see if there is room for improvement, but I don't see them impact the validity of the treatment.

BurningFrog 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the tech support approach to the immune system:

Try turning it off and on again.

hvs 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar (smaller) study was done back in 2003 with Crohn's disease. The results were similar.


A more recent, better controlled study found very little difference between traditional treatment, though.


xor_null 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quite interesting. But something i don't understand, MS causes immune cells to attack the myelin cells. Depending on the severe of the attack the myelin cells are completly destroyed or even the nerv cells themselves are destroyed. Recreating the immun cells would prevent the immun cells from attacking the myelin cells, but what happens to the tissues which are already destroyed? As far as i know, the body is not able to repair all kind of destroyed nerv cells / myelin cells on his own. So how can this treatment help to repair/recover already destroyed tissue?
jawns 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just in case anyone is wondering -- though at this point, isn't it your first guess? -- the stem cells used in this therapy were adult stem cells, meaning they were collected from her own body, as opposed to embryonic stem cells.

I mention it here because the article doesn't give that info until about half-way down.

indymike 11 hours ago 0 replies      
My Dad had MS and died earlier this year of pneumonia. MS is a horrible disease in every way. It's debilitating, humiliating, and painful.

Hopefully this study can be repeated. So many studies using whatever is the trendy science of the day end up failing. This study looks hopeful and could be life changing in the best way possible. But it's not the first study that has started with an amazing result.

djaychela 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was a comment on this on BBC breakfast yesterday, with an MS specialist saying that it was promising, but not up to the hype that people were making over it? He said it was an Avenue to explore further, and looked to be a good technique, but there was a long way to go - he quoted the stats from the study, and certainly seemed to be familiar with it and the methodology used. Can't find a link to it (it was an interview rather than a feature), alas.
reasonattlm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Publicity materials: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/tl-tln060816....

Paper: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-67...

The latest update for ongoing efforts to test destruction and recreation of the immune system in patients suffering from the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis demonstrate that this approach is effectively a cure if the initial destruction of immune cells is comprehensive enough. Researchers have been able to suppress or kill much of the immune system and then repopulate it with new cells for about as long as the modern stem cell therapy industry has been underway, something like fifteen years or so. Methodologies have improved, but the destructive side of this process remains unpleasant and risky, something you wouldn't want to try if there was any good alternative. Yet if not for the scientific and commercial success of immunosuppressant biologics such as adalimumab, clearance and recreation of immune cell populations may well have become the major thrust of research for other prevalent autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Destroying these immune cell populations requires chemotherapy, however, and with avoiding chemotherapy as an incentive for patients, and the ability to sell people drugs for life as an incentive for the medical industry, biologics won. For conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, the aim became control and minimization of symptoms rather than the search for a cure. Only in much more damaging, harmful autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis has this research into wiping and rebuilding the immune system continued in any significant way.

It is worthy of note that while these trials were only enrolling a small minority of patients, the approach could be used on every patient. That tends to be the way trials work, picking a small subset. The driving factor for keeping the numbers small is the onerous and risky chemotherapy process.

Beyond being able to pinpoint which tissues are suffering damage due to inappropriately targeted immune cells, the underlying mechanisms of most autoimmune conditions are very poorly understood. Multiple sclerosis, for example, results from immune cells attacking the myelin sheathing essential for proper nerve function. Collectively, the cells of the immune system maintain a memory of what they intend to target, that much is evident, but the structure and nature of that memory is both very complex and yet to be fully mapped to the level of detail that would allow the many types of autoimmunity to be clearly understood. That these autoimmune conditions are all very different is evidenced from the unpredictable effectiveness of today's immunosuppressant treatments - they work for some people, not so well for others. Many autoimmune diseases may well turn out to be categories of several similar conditions with different roots in different portions of the immune system.

Destruction of the immune system offers a way around present ignorance: it is an engineering approach to medicine. If immune cell populations can be removed sufficiently comprehensively, then it doesn't really matter how they are storing the bad data that produces autoimmunity. That data is gone, and won't return when immune cells are restored through cell therapies. The cost of that process today is chemotherapy, which is not to be taken lightly, as the results presented here make clear. A mortality rate of one in twenty is enough to give pause, even if you have multiple sclerosis. In the future, however, much more selective cell destruction mechanisms will be developed, such as some of those emerging from the cancer research community, approaches that will make an immune reboot something that could be undertaken in a clinic with no side-effects rather than in a hospital with all the associated damage of chemotherapy. Autoimmune diseases are far from the only reason we'd want to reboot our immune systems: as we age, the accumulated impact of infections weighs heavily upon the immune system, and its limited capacity fills with uselessly specialized cells rather than those capable of destroying new threats. Failure of the immune response is a large part of age-related frailty, leading to both chronic inflammation and vulnerability to infection, and it is something that could be addressed in large part by an evolution of this approach to autoimmune disease.

thatha7777 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does this teach us anything about the causes of MS, and potentially inform on preventative measures?
lvs 1 day ago 2 replies      
A nice longterm study. However, the fact that they need to specify in the title of this lay article that "this isn't hype" really says it all about science "journalism."
purpleidea 1 day ago 1 reply      
I believe this might have been the study where 25%(?) of the patients were killed by the treatment. As a result, this is only indicated for the very severe RRMS (relapsing-remitting, not related to Stallman) cases.

I'm sure HN can correct me if I'm wrong, but the point to make is that this isn't a cure.

jQuery 3.0 Released jquery.com
305 points by stop1234  2 days ago   152 comments top 9
MichalBures 2 days ago 0 replies      
jerf 2 days ago 2 replies      
I would suggest the release notes are a better link target: http://blog.jquery.com/2016/06/09/jquery-3-0-final-released/

Developers can figure out how to download it if they are interested.

rcarmo 2 days ago 9 replies      
Whenever a new version of jQuery (or Zepto) comes along, I wonder what would have happened if web development borrowed a page from other ecosystems and browser runtimes had subsumed the jQuery API, shipping it natively.

It's a controversial notion, I'll grant, but what if the DOM APIs had been replaced by "native" jQuery support? Would we have been better off? Worse?

Considering the intricacies of standards bodies and industry lobbies, pondering the pros and cons makes for a fascinating exercise.

sebslomski 2 days ago 2 replies      
Apparently there is no migration guide to migrate from React to jQuery :(
awestroke 2 days ago 26 replies      
Is anybody in the HN crowd still using jQuery for new projects?

If yes, why not use "vanilla" js?

forgotpwtomain 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've complained a few times about what seems to me, to be a less-friendly way of handling Promise rejections in es6.

Consider the relatively common use-case - there is a service object which proxies requests, format's the call to the backend (or fetches from cache) and format's the returned response for the caller of the object. So the pattern looks something like: ServiceObject.fetchData(query).then((data) => { / * display data * / }, (err)=> { / * catch error - display no results * /})

At some-point you want to chain the promise to update another part of the ui: promise.then((data) => {/* display something else / }, (err) => { / catch error - display failed to load */ }).

The problem is you can't squash the error in the 'reject' of the previous promise now, because otherwise the error isn't propagated to the last promise in the link and instead you will hit the 'success' function. This 'reject' behavior is alright if there is something your 'success' function can do when the original request failed, but in a great majority of cases if the request failed there is nothing you can do - you put a 'reject' in the first chain of the promise resolution (potentially in the serviceObject itself) with some generic flash-message like 'request failed please try again' and call it good. As it stands you end up with a call chain where what a function higher up in the chain should return should be based on what a resolving function further down the chain is doing -- not having to do this was for me was almost entirely the plus-side of the promise-style over callbacks-style concurrency model.

I bring this up now because curiously the jQuery model of Deferred() precisely did not do this before -(see section#2 of Major Changes):

> Example: returns from rejection callbacks

if an error wasn't re-thrown in a catch, the promise-handling would stay in the 'reject' chain as long as an error had been thrown. I am quite curious as to why the current-model won, I understand some of the potential benefits but in practice I find that this behavior is worse in 90% of use-cases that I have encountered. If someone has a link to a mailing-thread / issue where this was discussed I would be quite interested.

yedpodtrzitko 2 days ago 0 replies      
from changelog: "Golf away 21 byte"

I like how (code)golf has become a term.

formula1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Theres a few things that I want from the next x.0 release. Until these get done, jQuery will look like a library that doesnt know what it wants to be but used to serve a purpose.

- removal of animation from core

- removal of styling from core

- Create a jQuery 'fx' library seperate from jQuery

- have a standardized serialized / deserialize for forms

- Ability to handle multipart forms in ajax post requests

Microsoft Edge WebGL engine open-sourced github.com
358 points by aroman  4 days ago   97 comments top 14
rossy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well, that's interesting. The state of desktop OpenGL on Windows is pretty awful at the moment. The antiquated WGL APIs make it difficult to control when your application enters exclusive fullscreen mode, and as far as I know, it's impossible to control latency or get any kind of presentation feedback with them. You also can't make UWP apps that use WGL. Google's ANGLE, which is used to implement WebGL in Chrome and Firefox, is a lot better, and it lets you do fancy things like render OpenGL ES content to a D3D11 texture or to a DirectComposition surface. If Microsoft open-source Edge's WebGL engine (currently it seems like only the GLSL->HLSL translator is open-sourced,) it could become another modern way of using GLES on Windows.

Source: We rely on OpenGL to render video in mpv, and we are currently switching from using a WGL context by default to using ANGLE. Maybe this could be a third option?

tracker1 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, 45 upvotes and no comments...

While I'm not entirely sure what the strategy is with this, I'm fairly surprised by the move. This is something that would have been unheard of from Microsoft even a decade ago. They've made a bunch of really huge strides in FLOSS, but they've all been centered around developer mindshare. I totally get open-sourcing your developer tooling, especially in consideration of their Azure ambitions, which isn't bad.

I really like VS Code, which has become my daily editor of choice, I keep meaning to try the integrated debugging, but haven't. The .Net core releases have me looking at C# again, in a fairly new light. The Linux Subsystem for Windows is impressive.

All of that said, this move still surprises me. I'm not sure if/how much it will benefit the larger developer community, but it is really nice to see a much more open MS. All I can say is that the next half decade will be particularly interesting in terms of software improvements as hardware has started to level off.

wtracy 3 days ago 0 replies      
The README says the code is published without any build scripts "for reference only", so I expected this to be another "shared source" thing.

It turns out that the code is offered under the (very permissive) MIT license. Cool.

haxiomic 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great to have as a reference - the GLSL parser looks like a very thorough implementation. Thanks!

We've recently produced a WebGL implementation on top of V8 (passing calls through to OpenGL ES) - we needed it for a specific use case where a bundling a complete browser wouldn't do. We're interested in open sourcing if it's helpful to others - I'm curious to know if anyone else has a use case for an embeddable WebGL implementation? (Ours was to run three.js on the GearVR)

greggman 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's more frustrating is that edge had been shipping for a while now with a broken implementation of WebGL.

The conformance tests have been available for years and yet they haven't bothered to pass them


This makes devs have write nasty workarounds if they want WebGL apps to work on Edge

microcolonel 3 days ago 0 replies      
By the way, this is not the whole WebGL implementation, just the shader transpiler (GLSL to HLSL). Though it's good to see that their GLSL parser isn't totally insane. Somebody really ought to check it for compliance though; we really don't want to have yet another nonstandard shader compiler.
bobajeff 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hmmm, interesting choice to opensource just the WebGL engine without the rest of the browser's layout engine.
Ezhik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder when the entire browser is gonna get open-sourced.
mark_l_watson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft seems like a different company now.

Off topic, but I am a happy customer of Office 365. I use the web versions of Word and Excel on my Linux laptops when people send me Office files. Works fine. The one terabyte of cloud storage for each family member is nice also.

iLoch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm this is very interesting... I was looking for exactly this so I could try to hook up WebGL calls from canvas into HoloLens' 3D environment. Three.js holograms :)
unique_parrot2 3 days ago 0 replies      
call me impressed when i can launch a mirrored copy of my windows ssd from an usb stick without fuss.this is just peanuts.
coderdude 3 days ago 4 replies      
Microsoft is amazing. Top notch work across the board. Not all of their initiatives are aligned with hacker ideology but they are hands down developer friendly. Ballmer always made that important to know. I personally have the utmost faith in them. Their development tools are unequaled.
abpavel 3 days ago 1 reply      
The title is misleading, as the first words on github are: "This repo contains a select number of files".The title should say "Dump of some of the files".Considering the state of popularity if the Edge, maybe even "reference on what not to do"
agnivade 3 days ago 3 replies      
lol, look at those enterprise type comments -

 //+---------------------------------------------------------------------------- // // Function: GetDefaultInitValue // // Synopsis: Returns a string that contains the default HLSL value for // the component of this type. Should not be called on sampler // or void types, as there are no values to init with. // //------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Origins of SageMath; I am leaving academia to build a company [pdf] wstein.org
398 points by acidflask  1 day ago   184 comments top 42
ddumas 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm glad William included slide 10 calling attention to the hostile and insulting attitude Wolfram Research has toward mathematicians and reproducible science in general. (I think some of Sage Math Inc's other closed-course competitors likely have similar attitudes, but Wolfram Research seems to be the worst.)

"You should realize at the outset that while knowing about the internals ofMathematica may be of intellectual interest, it is usually much lessimportant in practice than you might at first suppose. Indeed, in almost allpractical uses of Mathematica, issues about how Mathematica works insideturn out to be largely irrelevant. Particularly in more advancedapplications of Mathematica, it may sometimes seem worthwhile to try toanalyze internal algorithms in order to predict which way of doing a givencomputation will be the most efficient. But most often the analyses willnot be worthwhile. For the internals of Mathematica are quitecomplicated."

Reference: http://reference.wolfram.com/language/tutorial/WhyYouDoNotUs...

For comparison, if you want to audit the Sage Math algorithms that your research depends upon, all you need to do is fire up a text editor (or browse their github). And you won't find any statement in the Sage Math docs telling you not to bother because you're too dumb to understand what you're reading anyway.

dharmon 1 day ago 3 replies      
This story reminds me of Prof. Tim Davis of Texas A&M, formerly Florida, who I heard had a hard time getting tenure, after making the software and mathematical world a much better place.

He (and his group) developed CHOLMOD and UMFPACK and other sparse solvers used everywhere. Basically, when you type A/b in Matlab, it calls his code.

It was an incredibly challenging task going from sort-of/kind-of being able to solve linear systems to where we are today. Hardly anybody thinks about it. Again, you just type A/b, even when A is poorly conditioned. You can write a crappy solver in less than 100 lines of code, but if you read his papers, building a rock-solid solver was a very difficult task.

Unfortunately this kind of work is important, but pretty thankless.

cs702 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's SHAMEFUL that academics like Stein who dedicate their lives to developing amazing open-source software do not get funding and frequently fail to get tenure. These individuals truly are making the world better!
bluenose69 1 day ago 1 reply      
Setting up a company can help because it will let other researchers support the project by buying the software on research grants. A grant can also pay for consultant-style improvements to software. It doesn't really matter if the software is also being given away for free. The important thing is to have an invoice to give to the university financial services staff.

I'd prefer it if the granting agencies supported this sort of software infrastructure directly, but, lacking that, a company is a way to hire people to tackle some of the weaknesses of Sage, whether they be in its core functionality or its UI.

hypeibole 1 day ago 2 replies      
For other people confused about the meaning of BP in this context, it means Benjamin Pierce Fellow.

It appears this talk was given in the context of the Benjamin Pierce Centennial Conference:


maweki 1 day ago 2 replies      
The problem with Sage, while it's an amazing piece of software, that it is abysmally documented. As is maxima.Sure, there's an example on how to do integration and anything on a high-school level but every time I wanted to do something a little bit more complex, I was completely lost. I found the Mathematica documentation to be miles ahead.
noobermin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hate to be that guy, but this needs to be said. The guy on page 15 was right. Sage should have at least put a little more effort into their applications, because if it did, it would be much more popular and thus more developed.

Back in 2011 or so, as a young undergrad, I latched onto sage and used it for an undergrad research project. My BS was from a tiny university (one year, I was the only Physics major in the school)..and I tried to turn all my friends and profs onto sage, being small meant there was no dept. standard, so I tried to impress it on the dept. (3 people really) but they stuck with mathematica because sage didn't even have an easy to use ode solver! For pete's sake... I understand that sage is a niche project for the math community, but if that's the case, that's the only place you'll find funding and devs from.

This is often said here amongst the startup nerds: make sure you have an audience willing to pay. Hey, many of us in the "more applied community" would love to have a FOSS tool that rivals mathematica, we exist! But it needs to do things well, or at least well enough that in linear combination with the fact that it is open source, the overall goodness vector for the project's value has a timelike norm. Then, we'd clamor for it, you get downloads, and one day, the funders will go, "hey, that's good shit right there, I better be a part of it!"

They don't need to do things for others, or for others' interest. But then, no one should be surprised when such efforts don't get funding. I mean, doing something niche implies that less people will be interested which implies that less people will fund it, right? It's almost a direct consequence of choosing to serve a niche.

williamstein 22 hours ago 0 replies      
https://youtu.be/6eIoYMB_0Xc is a screencast from the actual talk, including many questions at the end.
doug1001 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Mr Stein released the first version of SageMath some time ago--not sure how long but maybe 2007.

among other things, SageMath reconciled the confusing namespace soup that is scientific python (numpy, scipy, and matplotlib--three brilliant libraries with partial overlap in functionality and in package names) which SageMath gathered (along with other libraries like SymPy) and put them under a single rubric, 'SageMath'--one (large) install and you have all of scientific python.

SageMath also included a notebook

seems not such a big deal now with Anaconda and Jupyter notebook, but in 2007 it certainly was.

gtycomb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Prof. Stein's earlier post that had appeared here on HN (http://wstein.org/mathsoftbio/history.pdf) is enormously absorbing reading also. It has much more to tell about the significant challenges that stand in the way of developing high quality open source math software.
phamilton 1 day ago 1 reply      
William and I both presented at a RethinkDB meetup this last fall (SageMathCloud leverages RethinkDB changefeeds in awesome ways) and I got to talk to him a bit about some of these frustrations. It really is a rough spot to be in and I wish him all the best.
fsloth 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does make sense - academia is about theory, businesses are part of implementing end user solutions. most of academia runs on a tech stack delivered by commercial entities anyway. Building products is not as much about creativity as delivering a fixed product with a service plan and support chain in addition to product development. Companies have various operations to create full fledged products - academia can supply only the r&d part. And this is a good divisionoflabour, IMO.
TJSomething 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of SageMathCloud. I had a numerical methods class that I took where we used a web-based Python math environment that the professor was having his grad students build. It was pretty buggy and would go down sometimes.

Last I heard, they switched back to MATLAB. Having taught MATLAB, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But if SageMathCloud had been around, it would have been a good option.

mungoid 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is why I love sagemath, and open source in general. I cloned the repo a few weeks ago after hearing him mention how he is mainly the sole developer. It's a huge undertaking and i know how draining something like that can be for motivation.

I may not have time to do a lot but i am gonna join in and help as much as possible. Documentation, bug fixes, whatever. This project deserves it imo

ssivark 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're reading this @WilliamStein, firstly, kudos for the whole effort. I think the providing Sage as cloud math software is a powerful strategy, especially with the trend of end users preferring low power devices.

I have some thoughts regarding the comment on Slide15 (making Sage good for some applications): I see that python and Jupyter are very popular for machine learning and allied computations. Can SAGE leverage this to provide a service that a large audience would happily pay for -- and then use that to bootstrap a full fledged mathematical software? (Also, on that note, is there any coherence between the leaders of Sage and Jupyter?)

shiven 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good luck and Godspeed!

Academia totally sucks in this deeply ingrained ivory-tower mindset that metes out rewards/tenure/grants based on outdated performance metrics.

(Excuse the vitriol, former academic here.)

qrv3w 1 day ago 1 reply      
SageMathCloud is amazing: https://cloud.sagemath.com/, for those that want to try it out. Lots of neat bonus features like Python notebooks, Latex support, and even terminal access. The free tier works great for most applications.
jordigh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will, I have been looking for ways to build a company around GNU Octave too. If you find a way to make money, please let me know. Matlab is one of the Ma's that needs a direct replacement. There's so much free Matlab code out there that needs a free environment to run on.
infinity0 1 day ago 2 replies      
I hope they improve their software development practises. Packaging SageMath for Debian has been impossible; they use about 100 dependencies and have re-invented their own internal package manager to build all of these with sage-specific patches.
chestervonwinch 1 day ago 2 replies      
What is the difference between running sage math vs ipython / jupyter and importing all the relevant mathematical packages?
FLengyel 18 hours ago 0 replies      
All too familiar. I am reminded why I stopped writing software for academic research. It's considered low-academic-value work, on a par with system administration or I.T. helpdesk work.
emmelaich 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good luck to William.

I have another perspective though; I knew Allan Steel (Magma guy) as an undergrad at Sydney University. He is an extraordinarily smart person and humble and genial as well.

Everyone should be thankful to him and the University of Sydney for having the wisdom to fund the development of Magma.

Ericson2314 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a prime example of the tragedy of the commons with FOSS. People wonder what academic or corporate incentives need to change, but I'd argue in many cases this work lies between research and business and that's OK. I think the closest physical-world analogue is civil engineering of public works, and we'd be wise to make something of this (in the US they perhaps both underfunded, hmmm).
macawfish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love Sage! I used it to find this fractal: https://vimeo.com/155587929
et2o 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why did he have to leave academia to start a company if he has tenure?
keithpeter 1 day ago 1 reply      
So is the business model likely to be similar to that of RStudio where organisations can buy an annual 'commercial licence' to support the project (in addition to the GPLed version being freely available as mentioned below)?
daly 8 hours ago 1 reply      
(disclosure: I'm the Axiom Lead Developer)

I really applaud William's effort to build a company.I wish him all the best and will be willing to providewhat help I can.

I wrote an AMS diatribe http://www.ams.org/notices/201202/rtx120200320p.pdf about publishing computational mathematics, making several points, one of which was that

"Algorithm implementations are proprietary. This needs to end. Science is not done behind a curtain. At least, it has not been hidden since Tar-taglia and Cardano fought over solving the cubic."

However, even if the Ma* software were suddenly open sourced it would be obvious that there was a huge problem.

Mathematics rests on several pillars which are currently absent in computational mathematics.

Mathematics rests on proofs. Where are the proofs for computational mathematical software?

Mathematics rests on research papers, books, and references. Where are the explanations of the theory behind the code? Where are the explanations of the design choices, such as which version of an equation was used and why? Computational mathematics needs much more than bare code.

Mathematics rests on courses and students. There may be one course but a whole focused curriculum on computational mathematics needs to exist.

Mathematics rests on funding. Universities, government, and some government organizations, like Oak Ridge, are the primary support.

William and I have had several discussions around our common problem of finding funding. I was the lead on Magnus (Infinite Group Theory) at City College of New York. We struggled for funding all the time. Axiom can't be funded because there is no organization to handle receipts. Funding agency like accountants.

Indeed, accounting is vital to open source funding. I contacted several large organizations asking them to set up an "open source accounting firm" (OSAF) which would accept and administer the grants to open source projects. OSAF would accept the grant, maintain the account, disburse funds for valid receipts, and maintain financial records for inspection. Such an accounting organization is needed if an open source project is going to get government or company funding.

If SageMath could handle the OSAF issue then the various contributing projects used by Sage could apply for grants from companies or government, knowing that there is an organization capable of managing the funds. This has the non-trivial side benefit of making SageMath the primary focus.

Oh, and SageMath could take the "overhead" (more than 50% at most schools) for "paperwork". My provost lived rather well on the grants.

rfurmani 18 hours ago 0 replies      
crb002 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats. I have mixed feelings about Sage. I regularly shell out to Python for many of the underlying libraries, but I rarely use the Sage GUI.
aerioux 1 day ago 3 replies      
Question: why would anyone Sage > Magma (even though it's now a company. i.e. since there already is a clear and ahead forerunner?)
amluto 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if a simplified variant of SageMath / SageMathCloud would make sense as a Sandstorm app. IPython on Sandstorm is a generally excellent experience, and the sage notebook is a similar concept.
davesque 1 day ago 2 replies      
Slightly off-topic: Does anyone know if Sage allows for lisp-style meta-programming like Mathematica?
arghbleargh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait, so will Sage still be open source?
bradlys 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope it goes well, William. It was nice to take a couple classes from you at UW in 2014.
rodionos 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Not being familiar with the software itself, but how is starting a company, which is just a legal interface around the effort, would advance the effort? Several comments here indicated that documentation was an inhibitor. Would the company structure fix that?
sgt101 1 day ago 2 replies      
How does the trajectory of SageMath compare to Julia?
ianai 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just make sure to add in some DoD specific modules and I think you've got a winner.
boulos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Glad to see you take the leap! (I launched preemptible VMs at Google and have admired your work from afar)
penglish1 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Best of luck! Sage is fantastic, and the world needs it.
arca_vorago 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not a math guy, but I am a GNU guy who wants to learn more, and I'm curious what all the math geeks think about GNU Octave? How does it compare to matlab and mathematica? Any quitks or catches that make it unusuable for certain situations? Stuff like that...
master_yoda_1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for doing this.
RhysU 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jack left?
Passwords for 32M Twitter accounts may have been hacked and leaked techcrunch.com
300 points by zhuxuefeng1994  3 days ago   192 comments top 20
campuscodi 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone change the op's link to: https://www.leakedsource.com/blog/twitter

The real source, not this redundant media crap that buried the lede...

Olscore 3 days ago 8 replies      
Question: From my understanding bcrypt is designed for security even when the hashed data is leaked. Each piece of data is uniquely salted and hashed to perhaps varying degrees of difficulty. So for a thought experiment, let's say a site made the password column of their user database public. Given an entirely public password column, even with associated usernames, would this have any use or decrease the security of those user accounts at all, aside from the obvious that their username is known?
mbrd 3 days ago 4 replies      
Does anyone know the significance of the date 9-11-1961? The password list has 10,444 matches for "9-11-1961" and 10,231 for "9111961".

From Wikipedia, I see that Hurricane Carla hit Texas that day but that doesn't seem noteworthy enough to warrant two instances of the date in the top 20, It would be surprising if it was only due to date of birth too, given I can't spot any other date-like entries.

Tinned_Tuna 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can finally recover my account!
bad_user 3 days ago 4 replies      
Twitter also does 2-Factor Auth. If you value your Twitter account, in addition to changing your password (which hopefully is unique amongst your accounts), also activate 2FA.
0xfaded 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just got the email:

 Your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter.
I'd like to know how Twitter credentials were compromised from outside Twitter.

eumoria 3 days ago 3 replies      
Who has 123456 as their password in 2016!? Oh, wait... 120,417 people apparently. ::head in hands::
latenightcoding 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have received 3 warnings about suspicious activity on a twitter account I haven't used since 2011. I wonder how old that leak is.
yawniek 3 days ago 1 reply      
why the heck is 9111961 and 9-11-1961 such a popular password? botfarm?
gravypod 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone here have a raw download to this data set? I'm a student at a university interested in doing some statistical analysis of passwords for a small project.

If anyone is able to help me, I'd appreciate them emailing me. You can find my email under my account.

It would be a huge help!

ec109685 3 days ago 1 reply      
Twitter used to support authentication to their API's with a username / password combination. So this leak could come from an app or service that utilized Twitter apis in some fashion and was hacked.
puddintane 3 days ago 0 replies      
With over 270 million accounts (the largest number I could find) at only roughly 12% of the accounts leaked I'm wondering where the leak occurred? Or possibly the hackers were interrupted mid-download stream?

edit That number is actually active users and I do apologize the number of registered accounts is estimated to be over 645 million! edit2 Actually 4.9% of the estimated accounts were "leaked" (if this is an actual twitter leak since still no official word)

tim333 3 days ago 1 reply      
>the malware sent every saved username and password from browsers like Chrome and Firefox back to the hackers

I wonder how you protect against that apart from the thing banks do where they say enter the third and six character? Even with those if the malware monitored a few of them it could probably figure your info.

Zikes 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Other major security compromises which have hit the news recently include a Myspace hack that involved over 360 million accounts

The buried lede for me here is that MySpace has 360+ million accounts. I thought it was DOA.

visarga 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am sure Twitter can grab this list and invalidate all passwords quickly.
pmlnr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I should just close and burn all my social/bigco accounts and keep only the ones where an RSA token is available and forget to worry about passwords, shouldn't I?
cdnsteve 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why doesn't Twitter have 2FA or U2F? Problem solved, at least in terms of users not losing reputation within their own social space because someone is posting as them.
goldenkey 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thats nothing compared to the amount of fake twitter accounts for paid followers. Probably in the range of 100s of millions of accounts. For the downvoters, or doubters, goto https://www.fiverr.com/ and see if you don't find these services being offered all over the damn place. 1 million followers for 20 bucks.
J_Darnley 3 days ago 0 replies      
And nothing of value was lost.
simonswords82 3 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't need another reason to dislike Twitter but this puts another nail in their coffin, for me at least.

It seems the two platforms I derive the least amount of value from (Twitter and Linked In) are the most vulnerable to hackers and leaked passwords.

I was caught up in the Linked In password debacle recently and now have my e-mail address in the haveIbeenpwned.com database - thanks Linked In. I wonder if I'll get caught up in this mess too.

I only keep my Twitter and Linked In accounts to avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) but this is making me want to shut it all down and erase every trace of personal information I have on both sites.

Google endorses the Trans-Pacific Partnership googleblog.com
320 points by EleventhSun  2 days ago   245 comments top 31
davb 2 days ago 4 replies      
This endorsement surprises me just because the TPP is so blatantly anti-consumer, pro-corporation.

I'm under no illusion that Google's anything other massive tech-savvy advertising company, but the self-serving corporate side of the company is usually hidden behind the pretty veneer of "tech for the people". Supporting a trade agreement like the TPP (especially given the lack of transparency in the process) lacks their usual subtlety.

ocdtrekkie 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. Even as the resident Google critic, I never expected Google would sink down to the level of endorsing the TPP. :/

This is a clear break from the EFF's position (https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp) and a strong indication of their increasing closed door ties with the Obama administration.

notthegov 2 days ago 5 replies      
If these benefits are legitimate, why can't they focus on 5 or 10 specific objectives, and write them in some concise form like the Bill of Rights? Why does it need to be 2,000 pages and full of complex, obsfucated concepts and details?

Is the only way for progress to happen?

And even if the TPP is completely beneficial, it is still part of the philosophy of economic integration. Which at its heart is promoting the centralization of power and the diminishment of classical liberalism.


lucb1e 2 days ago 4 replies      
> prohibits [participating countries] from requiring local storage of data

> It prohibits discrimination against foreign Internet services

As a Dutchman I can see why Google likes this.

typon 2 days ago 3 replies      
Its always funny when people naively forget that Google, Apple, etc. are megacorps, not some startup ventures. They are the man. This endorsement doesn't surprise me one bit.
jkeler 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would better trust EFF on this: https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp
grownseed 2 days ago 0 replies      
The announcement starts by patronizing the reader ("most of us imagine container ships ..."), then proceeds to use a "for the children"-type argument ("small business"), directly followed by "for freedom!" argument with little to no substance.

 Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are beginning to recognize the Internets transformative impact on trade.
Sure, in the sense that the TPP is designed by and for corporations, like Google, who don't want stuff like, say, the EU, getting in their way when trying to defend the users' rights (e.g. right to be forgotten). The paranoid in me also thinks this is in fact an agreement between organizations like Google and the US government to "legally" syphon foreign data directly from US soil, but there is of course absolutely not enough transparency to substantiate this either way.

I clearly don't support TPP in the first place, but I find this announcement from Google borderline insulting, TPP or not. The condescending tone alone makes me cringe, but the whole "we're fighting for freedom" cover story is just disgusting.

lumberjack 2 days ago 0 replies      
>The TPP advances other important Internet policy goals. It prohibits discrimination against foreign Internet services

This is really it, I think. Makes sense. They don't want another China to happen to them.

syoc 2 days ago 2 replies      
I see that the point about countries not being allowed to require local storage because

>These provisions will support the Internets open architecture and make it more difficult for TPP countries to block Internet sites -- so that users have access to a web that is global, not just local.

I do however believe that there is a aspect that has been overlooked here.Many cooperations, private and governmentally controlled, handle sensitive data.Having a SLA with Microsoft, Amazon or Google that states that this highly sensitive data is ONLY to be stored in specific data centers is the only way for a lot of non flexible IT departments to regain some control over their data.This is a widely popular demand. I can only see this as the "X eyes" with USA in charge removing one more hurdle in their way to total information control.

habosa 2 days ago 0 replies      
In another discussion about the TPP I was pointed to this link:http://economixcomix.com/home/tpp/

I thought it was a very enjoyable way to learn about the agreement and why one might oppose it.

golergka 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's sad to see that most of the commenters here decided to discuss it as a news tweet ("Google endorses TPP which, as we know, is terrible") instead of a text that makes some points on the matter. Seems like most don't even address the text in any way which means people don't stop for a second to doubt their opinion on TPP, or even discuss arguments of the "enemy camp".
bla2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disappointing. The were a loud voice against SOPA/PIPA. All it takes for them to do an about-face is a bill that includes a few bits about protecting multinational internet companies.
TazeTSchnitzel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Of course they do. They were probably involved in drafting it.
urmish 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are some alternatives to google search. I think I can get away from the rest of their products in the coming few months.
superobserver 2 days ago 1 reply      
This comes across to me as nothing more than proof that Google is doubling down on HRC being elected now.
Esau 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disappointing. But that's Google these days.
sremani 2 days ago 1 reply      
I support TPP for geopolitical reasons, I am sure the Elites in the corridors of Power in Google do it for "access" and ability to sue the shit out of the gubmints that come in their way.
jonli1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unlike most of the corporations in America, at least Google is transparent about its decisions.
thomasdullien 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given the intense regulatory pressure (especially in the EU) that Google is finding itself under, this is unsurprising. The TPP would greatly help in easing 3 strategic concerns, which are:

1) Data protection regulation that would severely impact Google.

Google is kinda caught in the crossfire here. The EU is upset at the US intelligence community (Post-Snowden), and wishes to have some assurance of protection for their citizen's communication. The USG does not see why it should do this, and the data protection regulation is the EU's way of saying: If we can't get you to cooperate by being friendly, we will have to pass legislation that will hurt US companies; they can then perhaps pay lobbyists to change your mind. So it is not really Googles fault, but they are caught in the middle.

2) Anti-Trust considerations.

Google is extremely dominant in the European market, much more so than in the US. See #3. The momentum for an Antitrust case in the EU is high.

3) Industrial policy considerations.

Right now, the EU does not have an "Internet powerhouse"; there simply are no modern Internet giants in the EU. Interestingly, both China and Russia have "inadvertently" created local giants (mostly by censorship, which has had the strange side-effect of being equivalent to import tariffs, but for Internet services -- e.g. an accidental protectionist measure that allowed local competition to emerge). Some voices have been heard in recent months that advocate that the only way the EU won't get entirely left behind is industrial policy toward creating an internet giant. This could even mean blocking US-based giants for a while.

If TPP passes, Google will have a very powerful tool to wield against these three concerns. It is entirely rational of them to support it.

mark_l_watson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let me translate this into truthiness: even though TPP and TPIP favor multinational corporations over the sovernty of countries and what is best for people, Google is promoting what is best for their profits.
Jerry2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Speaking of Google and politics, Julian Assange claims that Google has made a deal with Hillary Clinton and is backing her [0]. That's not far-fetched considering how intertwined Google and White House are. The Intercept has a really detailed analysis and a chart showing how Google and WH share so many lobbyists and executives [1]. Google wants to keep Democrats in the White House so they can continue their influence over various decisions and FTC (which squashed the investigation into Google's anticompetitive practices).

And just today, Google was accused of whitewashing Hillary Clinton's record and not showing negative autocomplete terms [2].

Google's "don't be evil" mantra is just a way to inoculate themselves from criticism. If anyone accuses them of anything unethical or evil or inappropriate, they can always claim how they are "not doing anything evil" because that's their policy. It becomes circular logic.

Assange has exposed Google's close ties to the State Department in the past as well. For example, give this NY Times article a read [3]. If you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, Assange also published a book about his meeting with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen of Google [4] and he published the complete transcript of their meeting. He also covered how Jared Cohen, formerly a State Department employee, was involved in regime changes around the world while at Google.

Assange also states that in 2015 former Google CEO Eric Schmidt launched The Groundwork, a startup specifically designed to get Clinton elected. [5]

Finally, Clinton's email release also confirmed that Google was involved in helping Syrian rebels who were trying to bring down the Syrian regime [6].

[0] http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/google-wor...

[1] https://theintercept.com/2016/04/22/googles-remarkably-close...

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-google-search-vi...

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-banalit...

[4] https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/

[5] http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/09/julian-assange-google-is-i...

[6] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/new...

sosuke 1 day ago 0 replies      
How many Google engineers would have to strike at once to get them to change their tune? 80%?

Things only start changing when it gets bad enough to walk away.

shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
What? So Google supports all the horrible IP provisions there?

TPP must be ditched because it's an abomination in the current form, and it's not fixable because of "fast track".

Google should officially change from "don't be evil" to "be evil" now.

nashashmi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like they agreed to the deal to have a bigger influence on future trade deals. I don't think they like this deal particularly. But they are swallowing the pill for having a say in the next one.
revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
The free flow of information must be why they released this tidbit on Friday afternoon?

If they are so proud, surely a banner on Google is appropriate. It's for a good cause after all.

victornomad 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess they want to pay even less taxes...Ireland is getting too expensive perhaps?
cwkoss 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Don't be evil" seems to be more of a general guideline than a rule these days.
anonbanker 2 days ago 2 replies      
if Trump wins, there will be no TPP, at least if he sticks to his campaign promises. We all accidentally get a gift if he makes it to the Oval Office.
beedogs 1 day ago 0 replies      
"okay, be evil."
adultSwim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Boycott Google
jkeler 2 days ago 2 replies      
First they manipulated search suggestions in favor of Hillary and now this :(
The FBI 'is manufacturing terrorism cases' on a greater scale than ever before businessinsider.com
252 points by ccvannorman  2 days ago   134 comments top 16
nkurz 2 days ago 4 replies      
This brings to mind the classic example of "rat hunting". A hundred years ago, the French Government wanted to get rid of the rats plaguing Hanoi, so they offered a bounty for each rat killed. To collect the bounty, the (presumably) dead rat's tail was turned in as proof. As might be expected, the expected then happened:

Appealing to both civic duty and to the pocketbook, a one-cent bounty was paid for each rat tail brought to the authorities (it was decided that the handing in of an entire rat corpse would create too much of a burden for the already taxed municipal health authorities). Unfortunately, this scheme backfired. Despite initial apparent success, the authorities soon discovered that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. As soon the municipal administrators publicized the reward program, Vietnamese residents began to bring in thousands of tails.

While many desk-bound administrators delighted in the numbers of apparently eliminated rats, more alert officials in the field began to notice a disturbing development. There were frequent sightings of rats without tails going about their business in the city streets. After some perplexity, the authorities realized that less-than-honest but quite resourceful characters were catching rats, but merely cutting off the tails and letting the still-living pests go free (perhaps to breed and produce more valuable tails).

Later, things became even more serious as health inspectors discovered a disturbing development in the suburbs of Hanoi. These officials found that more enterprising but equally deceptive individuals were actually raising rats to collect the bounty. One can only imagine the frustration of the municipal authorities, who realized that their best efforts at dratisation had actually increased the rodent population by indirectly encouraging rat-farming. Evidently, this was not what the French had in mind when they encouraged capitalist development and the entrepreneurial spirit in Vietnam. Faced with such fraudulent schemes, the colonial regime scrapped the rat bounty program.


If an organization is judged by how many "terrorists" they arrest, one should not be surprised if that organization comes up with a counterproductive means of increasing the number of terrorists arrested.

zaroth 2 days ago 19 replies      
> "These people are five steps away from being a danger to the United States."

I'd say they are one step away. They have the motive and opportunity but they lack the means.

It seems to me there's a element of 'scale' in an entrapment defense. The cop tail-gated me so I sped up and then got ticketed for speeding -- perhaps I was entrapped to speed. It's not so hard to push someone over the edge to commit relatively minor offenses. But can you really entrap someone into launching a surface-to-surface missile at a air base? You can certainly coerce someone into that by threatening their life or their family, but that's not entrapment.

I don't see how providing any amount of weapons or money or fake explosives could entrap someone into being a jihadist.

Now, TFA raises the question of mental illness. I think if they are so mentally ill that they went along with the plot without understanding what they were doing, then they are either not competent to stand trial, or insane enough to try it as a defense.

I think it's a very low ROI approach for the FBI and mostly they are wasting their time providing the means for "nobody-wannabe-terrorists" to become actual terrorists, but my understanding is they record these guys actually pushing the detonator on their fake-bombs and they are ready to die to kill civilians, so I can't say I'm sympathetic.

JustSomeNobody 2 days ago 1 reply      
Who did not see this coming?

You have FBI beating the Terrorism drum. You have politicians running on being tough on Terrorism. Terrorism is BIG BUSINESS. It makes people rich. It gives the Govt unprecedented POWER of us. How did people NOT see this coming!?

ccvannorman 2 days ago 2 replies      
This has been a problem for a while (I remember reading about FBI doing drug busts this way -- convincing an at risk but otherwise innocent to play along in a fake drug deal) -- and it is not a good thing.

Shouldn't the role of government be to better the populace? Instead people are paid a salary and told to go out into the world and create criminals.

mtgx 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is inexcusable. In many of the mass shootings, there's typically someone with mental issues, which you may not expect to properly differentiate between right and wrong.

The FBI is basically seeking these people out, handing them all the weapons and bombs and they need, and then say "see that school over there? Go ahead and lay waste to it. Come on, you'll feel good about it. We'll even give you money to do it!"

This is the danger of having unaccountable authorities that have a profound lack of respect for the rule of law and due process, and think they can do whatever they want to further whatever they think the "mission" is. Eventually they become the enemy of the people and instead of improving public safety, they actively work to undermine it.

If they are so worried about people with mental issues, they should be seeking them out to give them help, not arm them. You'd think that should be common sense. But when civil law enforcement becomes militarized, something like that is anything but common sense.

> Karen Greenberg, for example author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State believes that the tension between security and liberty that can result from these tactics is a good thing.

> The amount of money, time and resources that have been put into rethinking law enforcement since 9/11 has made us safer, she told Business Insider in an interview. And now were sort of trying to figure out where the lines are.

I'd like to see some evidence for that. How many mass shootings still happen in the U.S. every year? - "But we don't count those as terrorism!" - Oh, okay. But you do when it's the government itself that trains these people and encourages them to do these acts against itself?!

grownseed 2 days ago 1 reply      
How these agencies have manage to thrive for so long, and continue to do so, remains utterly baffling to me. In the US, the FBI, the NSA and the CIA (and I'm sure others) have been caught red-handed on so many occasions and ... nothing happened, and it seems nothing ever will. They'll get a slap on the wrist, sometimes, and maybe some new legislation will be devised, only to be bent again. Of course, it's far from being limited to the US, this happens the world over.

Then you get stories like this one from Adam Curtis about MI5 in the UK [1], which show that these events are not simply pervasive, they're essentially the raison d'tre of these agencies and their leaders. The very fact these people think they are not accountable to the public and/or their eleted representatives should tell us right off the bat where their interests actually lie.

Those who seek and abuse power will do so regardless; it seems the least we could do as relatively civilized socities would be to not sponsor those people in the first place. By any morally acceptable standards, these people are criminals and their only legitimacy stems from the government backing they get.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/3662a707-0af9-...

daxorid 2 days ago 0 replies      
This smells far more like an actual psyops strategy than simple entrapment or career advancement.

If it's publicly known that there is an N% chance that your explosives supplier is a Fed (where N > paranoia threshold), that puts a chilling effect on even attempting your extremist plot.

bArray 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Today, roughly 67% of prosecutions involving suspected ISIS supporters include evidence from undercover operations, according to the "

According to the what? Is it missing or redacted?

filoeleven 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having read too many of these stories over the past few years, I have slipped into the habit of mentally expanding FBI to Federal Bureau of Instigation.
at-fates-hands 2 days ago 5 replies      
At times I feel sorry for some of these agencies because they are in a constant state of catch-22.

If we had rampant mass shootings and bombings like they do in Europe and some of the Middle Eastern countries, people would be rioting in the streets to stop it.But since it only happens once so often, people are up in arms because of the methods used to prevent said acts from happening in the first place.

You then have ask yourself. Do you prefer terrorism to happen and then be reactive, or do you want the government to be proactive and work to flush these people out from the shadows before they commit a terrible act and murder innocent citizens?

In my mind, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

delinka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps we should pay law enforcement based on a lack of crime. Less crime? More pay. More crime? Less pay.

Of course, how are we counting "crimes"? By those they actually arrest? They'll just stop arresting. By the number of complaints reported by citizens about crime? Perhaps?

I bet there's also some unintended consequence even with this scheme, but I'm feeling lazy just now.

aucto 2 days ago 0 replies      
The original example of this was the WTC93 bombing.

- The bombing plot started before Ramzi Yousef entered the US.- It was initiated by Emad Salem, an FBI informant, ran by FBI agents Nancy Floyd & John Anticev.- Salem famously recorded all his interactions with the FBI, including tapes where he says that he built the bomb that detonated.- The FBI started him as an agent provacuter, but when he asked for more money etc, they lost faith and cut him lose. Months later the bomb went off, and the FBI re-hired him, paid him a $1 million, to setup more terrorists but this time with a fake bomb.

- The first place Ramzi Yousef went was 2 Iraqi brothers apartment in NJ. - Allegedly the Iraqi brothers had an unlisted phone number in the name of Josie Hadaes. This is the same number the so-called "dumb terrorist" used on the truck rental, the one who went back to get his deposit.

The odd thing about WTC93 is that Yousef is considered the spiritual mastermind of 9/11 for Operation Bojinka. And his uncle, is KSM, the actual mastermind of 9/11.

Yet the neoconservatives and a CIA director tried to claim that Yousef's real identity was something else; some Iraqi agent or something.

I don't believe in conspiracy theories but it's hard to understand exactly what happened in 1993. It was certainly a failed sting operation and as one reporter said, the FBI wante to "teach the damn Muslim terrorists a lesson'. Either way, Emad Salem initiated the bombing plot, originally it was a pipe bomb against a synagoguge.

Whoever contacted Yousef, and whoever he is, he is a legitamite terrorist mastermind. Of course, he escaped and went on to commit a variety of other attacks before being arrested. I think his uncle, KSM, was even on CNN at one point (forget the story) while he was being hunted.

On 9/11, it seems pretty clear that the CIA was running a sting operation with 2 of the hijackers in CA, the ones affiliated with the alleged Saudi intelligence agent. At least 50 CIA employees knew about these 2 Al Qaeda terrorists in the US and the CIA withheld this information from the White House according to Richard Clarke-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl6w1YaZdf8

The fact that that video has less than 60,000 views is unfortunate. And Zero Dark Thirty, is allegedly based on the red hair lady who worked for Rich Blee. She is lauded as the person who found Bin Laden but worked for the Alec Station who seemed to inadvertanty allow 9/11 to happen.

Then last year, Cofer Black went public, although he seems culpable too-http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/cia-directors...

Of course, prior to 9/11, there were many warnings and chatter about a terrorist attack. In March 2001, the Lone Gunmen pilot premiered about a government conspiracy of flying planes into the WTC. And conspiracy theorists, Alex Jones & Bill Cooper, both warned an attack was coming. Some of this could be confirmation bias but the point is, a lot of people knew something was going to happen.

And in the WTC93, since the FBI wanted to teach the terrorists a lessons, there's some indications that they wanted a terrorist attack to happen, to motivate the public and government into acting to prevent a mass terrorist attack.

However, the reality is, government agencies like the CIA are highly beaurcratic and limited by their mandates, lawyers etc. Whatever happened on 9/11 has been so obsfucated it's hard to understand.

Wherever Rich Blee is, he needs to answer some questions. And the 28-pages need to be declassified-https://28pages.org/

marcoperaza 2 days ago 1 reply      
Given that Al-Qaeda and ISIS recruit aggressively online, I'd rather that the FBI get to these sickos before they do.
joesmo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Real foreign terrorists are rare.

American terrorists, while plenty, are undesired as media objects so they don't have the scaremongering effect of foreigners.

Solution: make up fake foreign-looking terrorists and sell them to the American people to scare them. It works wonders!

Solution 2: Take domestic terrorists and pretend they're foreign (see San Bernardino). Americans are too stupid to know the difference. Also works wonders.

strooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't "terrorism" a source of spreading power and control both nationally and internationally, without which we wouldn't be able to justify our act? It's not an eye opener report that is telling something we already don't know. Then why bother reporting it?
rm_-rf_slash 2 days ago 6 replies      
I doubt this will be received well but here goes:

People choose to commit violent acts or agree with those that do. Whether these people are psychologically impaired or clear-headed and bloodthirsty, they could just as easily STOP glorifying terrorism, watching execution videos, communicating with terrorists and terrorist supporters...nobody is forcing them to want to be terrorists.

Is the FBI overstepping its bounds by providing weapons to whom they will soon arrest? Maybe. But if they had simply stopped bothering with their investigations, who's to say they wouldn't commit acts of terror with more primitive means?

Someone with aims of terror could smash a container of bleach against a container of ammonia in the middle of a crowded shopping mall and kill dozens of people - with stuff you could buy at any hardware or grocery store. No permit, no license, no FBI investigator involved.

In the end, there is only one question you need to ask yourself: am I at risk of an FBI entrapment sting?

Since I do not condone terrorism or make any effort to communicate with terrorists or terrorist supporters, the Bureau will not bother me. And the same, I hope, will go for you.

The Web We Want mozilla.org
295 points by raldu  2 days ago   262 comments top 45
etendue 2 days ago 12 replies      
The web I want is one that doesn't assume I have an unmetered high-speed internet connection.

I'm visiting my parents right now. They have what I would term as "rural internet options": satellite, fixed cellular, or dialup. There is no DSL. There is no cable. There is no wifi. Satellite has awful latency and an effective 20GB monthly cap (their advertising is very deceptive because they pool midnight off-peak data in their advertised caps), fixed cellular has a 30GB cap: there is no provision to buy more data on either service short of ruinous overage fees.

Browsing around on the modern web filled with autoplay videos, huge JS libraries, giant pictures, etc. has been sufficient for a 2 person household to blow through that 30GB cap in less than a month. It was hard for me to believe, until I instrumented their network and saw for myself. Of course, accidentally updating any software, accidentally syncing their photo libraries, etc. are all expensive mistakes.

Most effective changes I have been able to make so far (without frustrating the parents too much) have been to ad block and get them to use Opera with Turbo, which has been sufficient to cut their data use by about half. I also put a timer on the cellular hub power supply to manually shut it off when they're not at home or when they're sleeping, because despite best efforts some software still automatically updates.

cdnsteve 2 days ago 4 replies      
The web I want is free of junk loaders, javascript tracking ad garbage making my page requests crazy slow, unpleasant and hard to use.

FB Pages now have a giant login thing that takes over the entire page if you aren't logged in. If you close it, it comes back for every other page you visit.

The amount of stuff that uBlock origin blocks now is amazing. I couldn't even use WSJ until I turned on ad blocking.

I'm starting to think text based browsing is the future. Using chat like interface along with voice commands, mainly work directly with APIs and just never use a browser again. HTML and JavaScript are being taken over by crap on sites.

The web is starting to feel like a garbage dump. API's are the only logical path forward I can see.

lighttower 2 days ago 2 replies      
There are some remarkable patterns you can gleen from the data.


1. rich countries don't care about freedom

2. countries that are quickly industrializing value opportunity

3. privacy is valued by everyone - but especially wealthy European nations

4. privacy is least valued by countries in war / unrest


However, the message between the lines it seems that everyone is basically saying FREEDOM but within the context of their political realities.

In North America we're worried about our adult content habits becoming public, or our extramarital affairs, or our secret bank accounts. So hence _privacy_ most reflects this political reality.

In Turkey _freedom_ and _privacy_ are both ~25%. This reflects a developed society which is experiencing increased controls on internet (and IRL) freedoms.

Par contre, countries like Iraq / Egypt / Bangladesh, _opportunity_ and _accessibility_ are the most important, reflecting that what the population cares most about is economic progress rather than press freedoms.

Malaysia is interesting; they top the list at 31% wanting freedom, yet, there has been little news (that I heard) about political reform/unrest.

All these responses reflect different freedoms that people are seeking -- contextualized by their political reality. If you lack humans freedoms, like freedom of speech, the type, of freedom you seek is best described _freedom_. While _opportunity_ and _access_ best describe economic and knowledge freedoms. Freedom to do whatever you want without fear of public exposure damaging marriages, job prospects, is best described by _privacy_

[edit - added clarity]--

Disclaimer: The above are based on observation and not statistical analysis. If you can download the raw data please let me know.

seagreen 2 days ago 0 replies      

 What kind of Web do you want? + Promotes freedom + Inspires learning + Safeguards privacy + Is available to all + Creates opportunity + Puts me in control
This is a good question. My answers would be "inspires learning" and "puts me in control".

Sidenote: let's address the "enable JS" issue once and for all since it keeps popping up in these threads.

Imagine an alternate history where a book reading program went critical (we'll call it "Reader") and took over the world. (In the actual world of course it was a static document consumer -- the "Browser" -- that took over everything and eventually became its own operating system).

In this alternate history there are regular internet fights (occurring in Reader of course) over whether turning off ReaderScript in Reader is a reasonable thing to do.

One side says: it's dumb to turn off the programming language in your Reader and still expect it to function -- programming graceful degradation into every reader app in the world would cost billions of dollars and be a huge waste.

The other side says: that's true, but I just want to read the Quran without popups!

Happily synthesis is easy since both sides are right. You should never expect a readerapp to work without ReaderScript. You should always be able to expect a book to work without RS -- they should never have had access to it in the first place.

The path forward is clear. Readers should have clearly different modes for books (documents/sites in our world) and apps. We should maintain a community list of which URLs are which, and load that by default into Reader. This way apps can continue to run programs by default, but we don't get popups in our books.

kleptako 2 days ago 9 replies      
The web i want is one that isnt completely broken by not running javascript
twoodfin 2 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of design comments:

First, I was confused by the animation of green dots on completing the poll question. I had expected that each dot would light up in a color associated with the selected poll answer for the associated user, and thought something must be wrong that I was only seeing the folks who had chosen "Freedom".

Second, once I figured out to hit the color legend to see different results, the contrast between some of the brighter highlight colors on the map and the blue background made it nearly impossible to visually distinguish the gradients.

vcarl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love that Africa is the highest continent (at time of posting) for "learning" and "opportunity." I've seen some articles about entrepreneurs in various African countries and it's always amazing how much impact they're able to have with limited materials, and access to the web can get you a lot.
jfoster 2 days ago 0 replies      
The design of this site doesn't seem so good. It looks (at least on mobile) like it's informational, but it seems it's actually a poll. As a result, the numbers on the pages you get taken to after a selection seem a bit underwhelming. (Eg. 12% want a web that's...)
justcommenting 2 days ago 1 reply      
Safeguards Privacy - "Firefox is made under the principle that security and privacy are fundamental and must not be treated as optional."

Mozilla is certainly treating the cookie management dialog box, which has been broken for years, as optional. Same with accepting Mike Perry's patches and various other examples.

If Mozilla could actually do better in terms of privacy and security features than a handful of Tor Browser Bundle devs, they wouldn't need efforts like this and their work would speak for itself. I still use Mozilla code every day and am grateful for their work, but this sort of rhetoric is unimpressive.

bcheung 2 days ago 0 replies      
That list is so touchy feely. It makes me feel like one of those "What are our company values?" meetings where people spend hours deliberating about things that are just a random list of positive adjectives taken from a dictionary.

How about a list of features instead?

Here are some things I'd like to see:

 - prevent videos from auto playing / making sound - prevent sites from forcing me to turn off AdBlock - sleep mode for tabs (sometimes I leave tabs open that I mean to read later) but they still take up a lot of resources even if I don't open that tab for weeks. - readable mode (I don't want to see animations right next to the article I'm trying to read). It's extremely distracting. Maybe a pause mode (where the entire page is 
frozen and nothing can change?)

 - stop changing where the text is on the page as I read it (as pages load, as ads show up / disappear). - Scrolling should be linear. I shouldn't scroll down and see the text move in the opposite direction because some header disappears from the top of the page, this shifting the text up higher). - Raise the simultaneous download limit and/or allow a large number of them to be queued without me having to wait until a slot frees up to make sure that file is going to be downloaded. - Make it easier to kill distracting elements on a page with a single click. - Anything that allows me to be able to develop for a single platform (the web) instead of having to deal with native app development, app store restrictions, and another company taking a huge chunk out of sales.

arca_vorago 2 days ago 2 replies      
The web I want:

1) One that isn't completely dominated by advertising.

2) One that isn't dominated by proprietary software, that encourages users to participate in FOSS.

3) One focused on data. Part of the problem of javascript, so uneeded in most cases.

4) More on javascript, how about one where each page doesn't load 30 scripts from alternate domains? Even the major new sites do this, and it makes me hate them.

5) One where ISP's don't hand over browsing information to anyone with a dollar or a badge without a warrant.

6) One where VPN's and other privacy centered providers learn how to build systems that don't keep logs and are built with privacy as a first class citizen.

7) Not last, and certainly not least, I mostly want a web that encourages and grows the freedom of thought, speech, and discussion that is and was such a fundamental part of the origins of the internet in the first place. It seems increasingly marginalized on the modern web. The beauty of communications mediums is the power it gives the formerly powerless, but I think the oligarchy has recognized this threat and this is why the internet is going to be increasingly a target of bad legislation written by corrupt "representatives". Beware cries of hate speech or any other attempts at censoring "for the greater good".

Just a few of things I want in web off the top of my head. As for this Mozilla page, I think if we think about the four freedoms and fundamental principles behind them, user control really has to be the starting point. You can't have privacy if the user can't turn off spywidgetX. You can't have freedom if the user can't Y.

Once again, I feel like one day, if we don't destroy ourselves as a species, we will look back and wonder why it took people so long to understand why RMS is and was right. The four freedoms are fundamental to the web I want, and while I often get a lot of hate on HN for being so pro RMS/GPL, I think if more people took the time to understand the issues they would tend to agree.

edit: One where strong theoretical and practical encryption is for everyone, and isn't vilified by the government.

pessimizer 2 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of world do you want?

 A) One with babies B) One with rainbows C) One with good meals D) One with friends and fun E) One with novelty and adventure F) One that makes us smarter, faster, and more beautiful
Click through to our map to find out where people were sitting when they picked one of these choices.

edit: to be clear, what I'm trying to say is that this is far less a survey than a vapid corporate ejaculation. I don't understand how Mozilla's culture ended up like this. Was it always like this?

Borating 2 days ago 0 replies      
And don' t forget to watch this short video by Mozilla - "The Hidden Business of the Internet" [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LcUOEP7Brc

StevePerkins 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish that the vocal 1% who want a JavaScript-free web would just rediscover Gopher.
mevile 2 days ago 11 replies      
In this thread: people who don't turn JavaScript on by default and are unhappy when sites don't work because of it. They must get angry a lot.

It's like wanting my Android and Mac applications to work without code too, like wanting my entire operating system to just handle PDF files and maybe have a functional text editor. It's like whatever state computers were in 1999, that's what is desired. Are we on Hacker News? A technology news site? People here don't want to use technology and see it evolve and progress?

Bedon292 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am really curious, what would the results be like if this we run on Facebook? Does the poll being ran where it is bias the results. ~34% say privacy, but it that sample bias? Or a real representation of what people as a whole are interested in?
fridek 2 days ago 3 replies      
I find it sad that people value privacy so highly over anything else, including accessibility and opportunity. It's not that I don't treasure my privacy. I just don't get how it can be more important that ability to work on interesting stuff, freedom to access world's information and to learn from it, or even control over my devices configuration.

Privacy should be an added value, not something we put in front of everything else. It would be meaningless if web wouldn't enable us to do what we do. So in reality, isn't this poll just a list of things we already have thanks to the internet, plus one thing we don't have - privacy?

franblas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Privacy seems to be on top issue for all regions. Not surprising regarding recent events.
LordLestat 1 day ago 0 replies      
The web i want is a a web where Mozilla sees no reason to compete with Chrome, the web i want is where Mozilla still have faith in built inside customization and choice and options instead of design and simplicity and minimalism.

The web i want is a web with a Mozilla which does not care for Google at all and puts them and their shady actions and browser development concept on ignore.

gregn 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing is, I think the thing we want and the thing we get are two different things now. Its not a question of tech, such as Javascript, its a question of: I want to read, write and communicate. What I want basically, is an RSS feed reader and writer that actually works. I dont want adds, for the most part I dont want images, unless I specifically seek them out. What we want is the web experience that something like Instapaper provides, which is to isolate the content of the blog post or news article and eschew all the rest, and present it in a readable form in the font I like. This makes the act of information intake painless and flow easily. It sounds ridiculous in a sort of post-RSS environment, but what we need is RSS, to be implemented by someone in a way that makes it work, so it will be used by everyone.
Whackbat 2 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting but unsurprising result - we want a private web.
FranOntanaya 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if I'm supposed to choose the most important one, or go back and select each thing that matters.
mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
The web I want would have a built in micro-payment system (someone mentioned this in a presentation at the Decentralized Web Summit last week). This would provide an option to advertisements.

I would like to see strong privacy controls protected by the same strong force of law that media companies have with DMCA, etc. Citizen's interests should be protected at a higher level than corporation's interests.

I would also like a better mechanism for controlling how much extra media a server sends the browser. Browsing with Lynx (text based) is an option, but not so nice.

orf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks good, but it really seems to be the "Web Europe and America want".
return0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mozilla is in the right place to implement two things (in a non-profit way): A centralized sign on a-la persona and a browser-mediated payment solution. These two would move the web forward in a fantastic way.
carapace 2 days ago 2 replies      
HAHAHahahahahaha! Oh the irony. This page doesn't work with JS disabled.

(BTW you folks who downvote me for complaining about sites that fail without JS, what gives? What's your idea here? I can't use the web without JS? I'm the idiot? No. I don't agree. Make your site do something reasonable without JS or you're the idiot. C'mon.)

tomc1985 2 days ago 0 replies      
How typical. Offer "choice", but limit said choices to things which only serve Mozilla's interests....
intrasight 2 days ago 0 replies      
While "privacy" gets the majority of the votes, I believe that we can't get privacy without most of the others.
ravenstine 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem what that page is that it doesn't include answers that are antithetical to Mozilla's values. Add "I want a safe space on the internet" as a response, and I imagine you'll get far more people clicking that than anyone who wants freedom, privacy, learning, etc.
gloves 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not a perfect method of collecting data, but interesting privacy is the top result in every continent on earth.
putzdown 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why just six choices? Why these? Why not "Beautiful"? or "Ad-free"? You know, what I'd really like is a web full of intelligent and polite discussion. Where's that option? What does Mozilla mean by "Web" here? What exactly is on offer?
DavideNL 2 days ago 1 reply      
The web i want is one where i can properly zoom... zooming in/out on a Macbook (pinch to zoom) is just terrible in Firefox - compared to Safari and Chrome/Chromium where zooming is very smooth.

It seems like a small/unimportant thing but it's sooo annoying...

programminggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
The web people want has all their favorite things like Facebook, Google, Netflix, YouTube, ESPN, Yahoo, and on and on.

People don't care about much else. It's the killer apps, not the freedom that people are buying. People trade freedom for shiny things because it makes them feel good.

pasbesoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, given I can't get even a jist of what the page is about without Javascript... not this.
wodencafe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can't tell what's going on with the map?

What's with all the little dots fading in and out?

maglavaitss 2 days ago 0 replies      
The web I want is one that above all others, respects privacy and my rights. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11845689
ilostmykeys 2 days ago 0 replies      
The web I want has real security, not "HTTPS Everywhere" that provides clear text access to nation states while providing a false sense of security.
putzdown 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunate choice of green (="Freedom"?) as the color for dots that simply mean "someone just responded."
daveguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
One that doesn't know enough about me to be able to put a dot on a map to represent me.
gnuvince 2 days ago 1 reply      
I want a web with less JavaScript.
cowmix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeebuz, I just want a Firefox browser that isn't a piece of crap that doesn't lock up and suck battery.

Let's start there first.

anonbanker 1 day ago 0 replies      
We as a society are being pushed away from the ideals that took root in the 90's, when the web/internet was a libertarian paradise. Most graybeards would put freedom much higher than privacy or anything else. It seems the millenials are more concerned with hiding. How can someone have one without the other?
znpy 2 days ago 0 replies      
All o can think after seeing the page is... "so what?"
j-pb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Stable and documented like SQLite.

Oh wait we did a step in that direction with WebSQL until mozilla killed it out of not invented here syndrome.

digi_owl 2 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of those are vague to say the least, the freedom one in particular.

Are we talking freedom from or freedom to? And how about if my freedom to tramples your freedom from?

The whole thing is yet another example of the feelgood "sjw" stuff that Mozilla have been throwing around in recent years, while turning a formerly potent browser in to a Chrome clone web terminal.

Not even sure if they have tested that site on their own offering, as jumping to and from the tab in Firefox made the whole thing crawl.

Larry Pages startups working on flying cars bloomberg.com
276 points by piyushmakhija  3 days ago   216 comments top 31
Nokinside 3 days ago 11 replies      
Helicopters and small planes already exist. We might have autonomous helicopters and small planes in the future, but flying car concept is flawed and not because it's hard to build one.

- Preflight checks and flight safety. Larry should first build normal small aircraft that can do without constant manual checks before flight. This is actually good subgoal to work with even without flying cars in mind. Reliable infrastructure that checks and calibrates instruments so reliably that you don't need manual checks would be revolution in aerospace. Just walking from your car into your future Cessna-Android and flying off would be sci-fi for aviators.

- Energy consumption. No matter how energy efficient the engines are, hovering and short takeoffs use lots of energy. Flying with small wings with little lift is equivalent to driving monster trucks in full power. You don't want flying becoming everyday phenomenon until we have abundance of carbon free energy.

- Noise and safety regulations, aviation regulations over urban areas. Flying cars are not happening in the suburbs or anyone where lots of people live. In the meantime try to get new helicopter landing sites approved in your neighborhood. If you have to take car to your flying car hangar, just have a small plane instead. Or walk to a buss station.

JDDunn9 3 days ago 4 replies      
I just emailed the people at Moller this week asking them what the biggest challenge in making a flying car was. Their reply was:

Thanks for reaching out to Moller International. Your question is a good one, with a multitude of answers. For now, Ill explain 3 of the biggest factors. First, there is a lot of FAA and government regulations regarding aircraft. Airworthiness certification is a lengthy process, and depending on the level at which a company wishes to test, operate, and potential sell their aircraft, the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Second, as stated previously, time is a major factor not only for development, but also testing, marketing, etc. In aviation, there are no unimportant parts at 10,000 ft. Safety is always a top priority throughout the entire process. Third, and finally, funding. Companies like Moller International depend greatly on their investors and supporters to keep the lights on. Until there is a product being sold, and cash being brought in regularly, a company must depend on some other source of funding. Aircraft programs are not known to be easy and cheap; these programs are some of the more expensive ones out there, especially in the private sector. With all of this said, all of us here at Moller International are working hard to ensure the latter two have as minimal an impact as possible. We have been working in cooperation with the FAA to get things going as quickly and safely as possible. Let me know if you have any other questions.

6stringmerc 3 days ago 1 reply      
As long as there's the FAA involved, flying cars are a stupid idea.

They are shitty cars if they're any good at being airplanes, and they're underperforming and over-priced airplanes just because they can somewhat function as a car. Now, if Larry Page's flying car company is also lobbying to gut the FAA's ability to regulate his creation, that's a whole other can of worms.

I don't think personal flight devices are a bad idea, which is why I'm working on my own. Flying cars are so contradictory in construction and purpose that I can't help but get really peeved at any praise directed toward the endeavor. There are more factors than simply "can this 4 wheeler get airborne" to keep at top of mind.

Good luck getting a reasonably priced AME to keep the thing airborne.

>But better materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances have convinced a growing body of smart, wealthy, and apparently serious people that within the next few years well have a self-flying car that takes off and lands verticallyat least a small, electric, mostly autonomous commuter plane.

The latter half of that sentence is plausible. Flying cars are not. Sorry.

mawburn 3 days ago 4 replies      
>We noticed that you're using an ad blocker, which may adversely affect the performance and content on Bloomberg.com. For the best experience, please whitelist the site.

Yeah, ok Bloomberg.

rl3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Every time I see an article on flying cars, I can't help but be reminded of an old IBM commercial[0] from 2000.

Deliciously ironic considering it represented the fact that mainstream culture had all but written off the idea entirely.

[0] https://youtube.com/watch?v=vzm6pvHPSGo

rtpg 3 days ago 6 replies      
What problems do flying cars solve? I know it looks cool but is there some huge thing that would get solved with this?
Animats 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is encouraging. There's no fundamental problem with building a "flying car"; all sorts of strange VTOL craft were built in the 1950s. Many of them ended up in the Hiller Aviation Museum on 101 in San Carlos, CA.

The main problems with VTOL are stability, engine cost, and fuel consumption/range. Pure-thrust lift requires enormous power. Most of the successful pure-thrust VTOLs are jet fighters, which are mostly engine. The Harrier and the F-35 are examples.

Jet engines are expensive, and they don't get much cheaper below 6-passenger bizjet size. This is why general aviation still uses props. A lot of effort has gone into cheaper jet engines, but without much success. (Yes, there are large model aircraft jet engines, which is what the Flyboard Air uses. They're good for a few hundred hours, not the 10,000 hours between overhauls of aviation jet engines.)

Electric VTOL is going to be interesting. There are lots of electric drones, after all. Engine power to weight is good. Siemens has a water-cooled electric aircraft engine in test.

Battery energy density sucks. NASA is talking about aircraft where there's a gas turbine or two driving a generator, with lots of electric props. This could work out. Meanwhile, until the battery situation improves, you can build short-ranged flying cars. There's a cute little one out of China, apparently intended to get China's rich and powerful around Beijing's traffic jams.

eblanshey 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's great seeing a strong push toward aviation as a superior method of transportation. One of the side effects will be people gradual spreading out, away from huge city congestion, which is largely set up due to our transportation. It will enable us to live more in tune with nature, while not giving up the conveniences of having everything we need within short distance. I touched upon this in a blog post: https://medium.com/@eblanshey/the-world-is-undergoing-massiv...
joakleaf 3 days ago 2 replies      
Related is this one-man drone by a Chinese company which should being test flights in Nevada:

"Drone" because the on board computer handles all the flying (just pick a destination).

andys627 3 days ago 2 replies      
We'll all be happier and healthier and have more money for other stuff if we build our cities around walking, biking, and shared transit. Suburbs = unhealthy, inefficient, unhappy (it has been studied - look it up don't just comment reply "I love the suburbs and my driving my Model X everywhere").
thesimpsons1022 3 days ago 2 replies      
am I the only one that doesn't want flying cars? I want to be able to look up and see the sky, not traffic. I don't want drunk drivers ramming into buildings. I don't want to have to build a horizontal wall over my backyard for privacy. what benefit do they even have? I'd rather just have fast ground transportation
ape4 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the (ground) car enabled urban sprawl... just think what the flying car would do for it.
amelius 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Self-flying aircraft is so much easier than what the auto companies are trying to do with self-driving cars

I guess until everybody starts using them :)

johngalt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always thought a flying motorcycle makes more sense than a flying car. The power to weight ratios are closer, as are the engine requirements. Something like a long two seater cabin motorcycle with wings that attach like glider wings. Something like this with wings:


Flys like a motorglider. I.e. slow for a plane but faster than a car/bike. Very efficient per mile (for a plane). Tolerates engine failure with a good glide ratio.

Ground to air transitions happen at designated places (mini airports). Wings are left at the airport while you operate the bike in ground mode. Or towed in a narrow trailer just like a glider trailer.

yk 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think that autonomous vehicles make flying cars possible. On one hand, learning to fly is difficult (the problem has a dimension more than driving on the surface) and people really do not like wreckage falling from the sky. So one needs a highly trained expert to pilot any flying vehicle, or a fully autonomous autopilot.

The second thing is energy, a plane needs to handle a lot more energy than a car, simply because it flies, so it is more expensive. If someone own a flying car, then they are investing a lot into a capability they use very rarely. With a Uber like model of shared transportation one orders a car only when one needs it. And it makes sense to have a flying car in the pool, even at a hundred times the cost of a regular vehicle. So each individual customer will use that flying car almost never, but there are many, and the ones who pay a $100 to shave five minutes of their time are probably in that moment very happy, that they have that option.

aurizon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember the pulp Science Fiction magazines of the 30's, 40's and 50's. Quite often they had drawn pictures of cities with hundreds of planes going every which way. For a while it was autogyros, helicopters etc.It never happened. Cars won. A car is supported by the road with zero energy cost except for motion. Any aircraft must waste energy at all times, and the highest energy use is when standing still(hovering).Ok so they have 100,000 planes flying around LA at 200 miles per hour. Managing that number of planes under automatic computer control is a huge technical challenge. Human pilots = impossible.

Until we have anti g and can hover for zero energy it will never happen.

mtgx 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm sure this is something Elon Musk would be trying to make, too, because there's a lot of expertise that his companies already have to build something like this: autonomous tech, rocket engineers, batteries, electric powertrains, solar panels, and he has already said he would probably build an electric airplane next.

If only he had the money to experiment with something like this. That's why I'm hoping that Apple buys Tesla eventually and makes Musk its CEO and lets him do whatever he wants with those $150+ billion (maybe $300 billion by then) cash reserves.

And apparently he's already toying with flying stuff:


nxzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Much like autonomous cars, feel the focus is on the tech instead of how the tech would impact culture.

Core issue is that flying spreads people out, and given how hyper connected people are, this makes no sense.

Real focus should on condensed living areas, not flying people around, which is a massive waste of energy.

JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 0 replies      
We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters

Silicon valley tries to create the future

dave2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would the authorities do to prevent these things, if they existed, from being loaded with explosives and driven into buildings? Even if the idea got off the ground and anyone (who could afford one) could start flying around, how many terrorist attacks would it take before they were outlawed? Do you think, having taken out the white house, the government would stand behind civilians rights to own and fly them? They'd not only ban them, they're probably restrict private use of drones and planes too.
jdhawk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish these guys would focus on new small turbofans, like the Williams EJ22. Pairing one of those to something like a Cirrus/Piper/Mooney airframe would give fast, low fuel, reliable powerplant for existing airframes. Add in a sprinkling of new technology to simplify the flight controls and you'd be a lot closer than trying to boil the ocean with "flying cars"
pascalxus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Taking to the air is a Great idea! It won't be limited by transportation infrastructure. And you don't have to place the stations along a 2 dimensional arc as with train stations. You can have any point to any point directional travel. I forsee a future where people call uber like air travel at their nearest heliport.

I'm really glad someone is working on this!

dmritard96 3 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised most articles haven't mentioned the flying car at CES:


amelius 3 days ago 2 replies      
By the way, their job openings are all for B.S. and M.S. level (no Ph.D.), which seems a bit odd.
googletazer 3 days ago 0 replies      
It almost has to be a vertical lift/land shuttle type of thing to work. I don't see it being able to land in cities any other way. Very cool though, freedom in a whole other dimension.
programminggeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed this a while ago, that flying cars will only become real when self driving tech is progressed far enough that you have self-flying cars. Interesting to see that as a real project.
bobsil1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Distributed electric propulsion is promising, check out the NASA papers.
marvin 3 days ago 2 replies      
This thread has the potential to become hilariously cringeworthy in a decade or so. I'll be checking back in five years to see if lightweight VTOL aircraft are still an idea that is "obviously stupid because we've tried it before and it didn't work".

My guess is that the progress in batteries and electric motors will have made this concept a lot more feasible by then. At some point it will be a completely obvious idea which will make us shake our heads at the skepticism it had before.

skykooler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Kind of odd how, with all the little schematics of flying cars on that page, Terrafugia is nowhere to be found.
Bromskloss 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Self-flying

Meh. That would be taking the fun out of it, taking away the very point.

shmerl 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about hoverboards?
Links sent privately through Facebook Messenger can be read by anyone medium.com
358 points by softvar  2 days ago   60 comments top 19
IkmoIkmo 2 days ago 3 replies      
Facebook's response seems inadequate. Because let's be frank here:

1) There are obvious security concerns thinkable. For example, plenty of websites (google docs, dropbox etc) offer an 'anyone with this link can view document' option. Which is generally safe, given these randomly generated links usually contain > 100 bits of entropy. Access to the link is access to the document, and so the link is a PW.

2) This link can be publicly accessed, despite having only been published in an ostensibly private FB conversation. Facebook has now admitted that the contents of a private conversation can partially be public. That's ridiculous. Not just because it's not safe, there are more things that aren't safe (e.g. sending risque images on Snapchat). But mainly because it's against expectations. Snapchat told me on my first day of usage, in the app, that my friends can save my snaps and that I should keep this in mind, and while many users of Snapchat use it recklessly, I would guess that most are aware of the risks. Users carry much of the burden of responsibility now. But there's no such awareness of the risks of partial contents of a private facebook conversation not being publicly accessible, nobody is aware of this.

3) The response seems wholly unnecessary. It seems to me relatively trivial to require a security token to see this data, much like the rest of the chat itself.

Now I'm not particularly alarmed by the issue itself, it's one of those 'safety in numbers' kinds of things. A hacker would likely be more effective setting up a phishing website and buying an email database, than to collect links and then review them for sensitive data. But the response of FB feels inadequate and unnecessary to me.

edwhitesell 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the reasons many corporations have rules about only using internal messaging applications. Or, block external messaging apps. In environments I've managed, I've always enforced the rule: Anything confidential sent via a messaging app is no longer confidential.

Skype, Facebook & G+/GTalk have all "followed" URLs sent via their applications for at least a few years (that I have noticed). Anti-virus applications installed on computers have done it with URLs in email applications and such too.

One of the large A/V vendors (Trend or McAfee, I don't recall which) had a browser plugin that would follow all of your browsing activity. I used to be amused tailing logfiles to see a hit from a browser, then one of their corporate IPs with a "crawler"-like UA come along a few seconds later.

EDIT last line for clarity.

donatj 2 days ago 1 reply      
After hearing about people arrested for the content of their private chats on Facebook I basically act under the assumption that everything I do on Facebook is public.
thomasfoster96 2 days ago 3 replies      
This probably isn't a popular opinion, but I fail to see how this is a problem with Facebook.

The Google Docs URL is public whether or not you send it through Facebook. It's only secret until someone guesses the link (Edit: maybe not mathematically in the case of Google Docs, but many other services use 'unlisted' URLs without having a long token to guess) - something they can do without the URL even going through Messenger.

If you're sharing passwords or confidential information via a public URL with no authentication and hoping nobody finds the address, you're asking for trouble. I don't blame Facebook for not doing anything about it.

mpeg 2 days ago 3 replies      
FB also considers "won't fix" a bug I found a while ago that allows anyone to send anyone else on FB a spoofed email that comes from @facebook.com, without knowing their email address \_()_/.
tuna-piano 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's infuriating to me as a user that certain aspects of a private 1-1 conversation are made public for a "feature" as trivial as a link preview, especially when it seems the fix would be as simple as having a larger, random identifier.

Does anyone know what will happen when Facebook Messenger is encrypted end to end?

elif 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is only a lapse in security if you're relying upon URL obfuscation for security to begin with. It is only actionable if you can MITM or otherwise easedrop and find the graph ID.

Title rating: unreasonably alarmist

zeveb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Were they using 256-bit random identifiers then this wouldn't be a problem. In that case, the IDs would serve as capabilities to the resources.
irl_zebra 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using the destructible.io for temp links. It was posted here not too long ago, useful and if anyone else tries to access it, it deletes itself https://destructible.io
dahart 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does Facebook's response not having capitalization also worry anyone else more than the security hole? ;)
dlitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Related to this, the W3C maintains a best-practices document about private ("capability") URLs:


aab0 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the similar thing in Microsoft Office recently: it automatically shortened all links in documents, even private ones, with a URL shortener service. URL shortener services are, by design, easy to brute force enumerate. Cue popcorn...
mauricioc 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about WhatsApp? It fetches a page's title as soon as you type in a URL. I assume the fetching happens on the client, but does the URL (or the title itself) get uploaded somewhere?
niftich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also see previous for more discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11868077
rhaps0dy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing I did was share this particular link on Facebook :)

Precisely because of what the article says.

owly 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please. Delete. Your. Accounts.What are you waiting for?Challenge:Start a decentralized FB clone. Evangelize.
stefek99 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why asking friend to share a link? Isn't it easier to log in using secondary account...
excalibur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it bad that the thing I most want to do with this story is share a link to it on Facebook?
bemmu 2 days ago 1 reply      
How would you know the Graph ID number if someone doesn't explicitly tell it to you?
What I learned while securing Ubuntu (2015) major.io
290 points by jessaustin  2 days ago   103 comments top 19
rdtsc 2 days ago 5 replies      
And that is a major reason military and lots of enterprise customers run on RHEL. It is this seemingly uncool and boring stuff like having STIGs, FIPS-140-2 certifications, EAL-4 etc.

And it spreads like a virus in a way. Say you use Alpine / Gentoo / Ubuntu. You get your first enterprise or DOD customer. They want an onprem version of your service. Now you have to either not sell it o them (but it so happens those customers also come with loads of cash willing to drop it in your lap). Or support both RHEL and Ubunu. So after a while you start to wonder, why bother supporting both, so you switch to CentOS/ RHEL stack only.

I've seen it happen, people grumbled and were angry, but they still would rather have loads of cash dropped in their laps than stick to their preferred OS.

A couple of years back. Remember Mark Shuttleworth inquiring about what would it take for Ubuntu to get some uptake with US govt customers. Remember emailing him a list of some of those requirements and yeah, it is very expensive and time consuming to get those red tape stamps on your product. I don't know if anything happened with Ubuntu in that regard since.

(You can also get exceptions depending on who you sell to, but it only happens if you have friends in high places which can grant those. Say sell to special ops teams, for example).

ckastner 2 days ago 0 replies      
> On the Ubuntu side, you can use the debsums package to help with some verification:

> [debsums invocation]

> But wait where are the configuration files? Where are the log and library directories? If you these commands on an Ubuntu system, youll see that the configuration files and directories arent checked.

Of course it can. Quoting debsums(1):

 OPTIONS -a, --all Also check configuration files (normally excluded). -e, --config Only check configuration files.

the_common_man 2 days ago 2 replies      
From a comment in the blog:

 You can decide if a daemon should start on install by adding /usr/sbin/policy-rc.d file. It is described in /usr/share/doc/sysv-rc/README.policy-rc.d. Notably, just putting "exit 104" should give you something similar to what you expect on Redhat. You can get the original MD5 sums of the configuration files with dpkg --status. You could also just install tripwire that would cover all files.

Daviey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure there is anything new here... Ubuntu did start down the path of getting FIPS-140-2 and EAL, but I don't believe it was ever completed. The main reason for this, is paying users aren't screaming for it. It is a signficant investment, for a low return.

There has been a number of external efforts for STIG compliance, but nothing formal. You can find a bunch of them on github.

Most of the technical items that Major raises aren't really issues IMO.

 - Services starting by default: Don't like it, use policyrc.d to stop it. This can be done as part of the install, or via ansible prior to installing packages. - AIDE doing a full scan: Change the config, but as a default - covering everything is safer than leaving gaps (considering his effort is part of an Ansible project, this would seem logical!) - Verifying packages: Don't purely rely on the package manager for this! Use tripwire which is explicitly designed for this.. and debsums (with -a, that was omitted in the article [but isn't perfect]) - Firewall, permissive by default for most installations is perfectly acceptable. That is what post-install config is for. The target audience of Ubuntu server is cloud, where IaaS provided firewalls (security groups) provide the default protection, and for baremetals there should really be hardware firewalls as the 1st line of defence. However, doing # ufw default deny , switches to whitelist - LSM, AppArmor is a pretty good default. But selinux can be switched pretty easily. The main issue against selinux is that many find it hard to use, which means that systems are left insecure. As an out of the box solution, AppArmor does provide some confinement which for many is enough. When was the last time you saw a how-to that prefixed with disabling the LSM (not as common as it used to be).
Generally, the out-of-box security experience isn't awful as it fits the majority of the users. Hardening for per-deployment basis is expected, but there hasn't been enough standardisation around this - which the ansible work Major is doing will be a good contribution.

Whilst I'm a bit down on the actual content of this article, I'm really excited that Major is working on this and it is a good thing for Ubuntu when his work has finished.

-- former Ubuntu Server Engineering Manager and current cloud/security.

daveguy 2 days ago 5 replies      
He brings up the fact that Ubuntu doesn't enable the firewall by default. This is just a poor decision on the part of the Ubuntu maintainers. Sure it doesn't have any ports open by default, but installing a poorly configured package (that does leave a port open) means a potential security hole that could easily be prevented. Incoming firewall should be the rule, not the exception.
jbicha 2 days ago 0 replies      
Virtually everything here also applies to Debian. aide, postfix, and debsums are completely unmodified from Debian in Ubuntu. dpkg is virtually the same.

The only part that is different is that Debian doesn't enable either apparmor or selinux by default and selinux on Ubuntu is slightly different than on Debian.

ericcholis 2 days ago 2 replies      
>The AIDE package is critical for secure deployments since it helps administrators monitor for file integrity on a regular basis. However, Ubuntu ships with some interesting configuration files and wrappers for AIDE.

Critical for secure deployments and hosted on sourceforge.....

pnathan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Fascinating that the the lede here is the certifications. While some entities put a great stock in so-and-so certification, I have generally not put any weight in certification x or y, as they are pretty manipulatable if you are interested in doing so.
jiang01 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's arguably a kludgy workaround for a package mangers (arguably incorrectly) starting services before you have configured them; wouldn't it be preferable to fix that problem instead?
skywhopper 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish this article had gone a bit deeper than just being a couple of first-glance whinges. Sure the daemon autostart is a reasonable complaint, but it's easily worked around. Presumably the folks who are concerned about locking their OSes down this tightly are not building their images on a public network.
sirmike_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a good article but the author missed the broader CONSUMER/dev consumer mission of Ubuntu. It's sole purpose and number one priority is Usability first followed and shaped by quick deployment as number two. Ultra top tier hardened Security isn't in the top mix. Easy answer. Having said this I'm glad someone is taking a hammer and chisel to it so that it can be a better platform. The same thing can be said of Windows or Mac. Consumer facing off the self platforms simply weren't designed for hardened security.
webwanderings 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a good read anywhere on hardening the RHEL?
geerlingguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Note that finally, with 16.04, you can block the (ridiculous) auto start behavior of daemons installed via apt using systemd features: https://major.io/2016/05/05/preventing-ubuntu-16-04-starting...

It's always angered me that packages start running before I have a chance to configure them... With some, like MySQL, it means if I want to change certain settings, I also have to clean up some other files before restarting the service or the package will not start. On CentOS/RHEL, this is never an issue.

mercurial 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to see a comparison with nixos, seeing as you have to explicity enable services (assuming you use the declarative configuration) and everything is declarative.
orbitingpluto 2 days ago 1 reply      
Click on his resume to be entertained.
brians 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the reason for a short Ubuntu hardening guide is that these changes are already incorporated in the code. I understand the value of a uniform base configuration for a large networksay, 1000 systems or more. But surely it's better to put that in the postinst scripts of packages.

I view the "hardening guide" requirements, particularly PCI 2.2, as an ugly jobs program.

anonbanker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ew. Definitely not interested in replacing a Gentoo Hardened (grsecurity, PaX) install with this Redhat/NSA toy. Good luck to everyone diving down this rabbit hole of pain.
polard2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Since Ubuntu doesnt come with a firewall enabled by default, your postfix server is listening on all interfaces for mail immediately. The mynetworks configuration should prevent relaying, but any potential vulnerabilities in your postfix daemon are exposed to the network without your consent. I would prefer to configure postfix first before I ever allow it to run on my server

Technically, if security is your focus, then shouldn't one of your first actions after setting up a new machine be to set iptables default action to drop all incoming new,invalid packets anyway?I mean, I generally install server with nothing. Set up iptables. Then install packages and open ports.

vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, god, the lead is that "starts before configuration" non-issue. If you're not properly firewalled to begin with, why are you installing applications? And seriously, how hard is it to put the config file in place before installing the package instead of after it (apt won't overwrite it), if you're that damned concerned about the milliseconds of "vulnerability" between your configuration management tool installing the package and then plonking down your config and restarting it?

And if you're manually configuring your hardened servers instead of using a configuration tool, then you have significantly greater problems than 'omg! starts too early!'. And even then, if you're manually installing something and you think it's going to have a preconfig vuln, then just add '&& service thingy stop' after your install line.

Seriously, this is a vim-vs-emacs-style non-complaint, for when you can't think of any actual issues.

Ruin My Search History ruinmysearchhistory.com
333 points by jewbacca  3 days ago   195 comments top 44
mmastrac 3 days ago 5 replies      
Spoiler alert! From the base64 encoded array in the source:

['how to appear funny', 'why are my thumbs uneven', 'am i lack toast and tolerant', 'your youre difference', 'why doesnt my poo float', 'midget google images', 'tall midgets??', 'homemade lube?', 'i hate my boss', 'what counts as fat', 'how to tell partner they fat', 'is it normal to still love my ex', 'how to get back with ex', 'penis remove dog how to', 'romantic ways to propose', 'engagement rings', 'sex shop in my city', 'how to tell if partner cheating', 'ways to kill someone hypothetically', 'undetectable poisons', 'how to delete search history in browser', 'ashley madison hack', 'view ashley madison list', 'ashley madison list my city', 'paternity test', 'mail order paternity test', 'attracted to mother why', 'is incest illegal in this country', 'latest laws incest', 'seduction guide', 'rohypnol safe dosage', 'smelly penis cure urgent', 'common STIs', 'STI test in my city', 'average penis size this country', 'do penis pumps work', 'best budget penis pumps', 'does liking men mean im gay', 'signs of being gay', 'how to come out as gay to dad', 'age of consent here', 'why is age of consent so old here', 'country low age of consent', 'flights philippines', 'isis application form', 'how to join isis', 'cheap syria flights from here', 'syria hotels with pool', 'bing', 'donald trump', 'OH COME ON DONT JUST COPY AND PASTE THE LIST FROM THE ARRAY YOU CHEEKY SCAMP']"

TomasSedovic 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those wondering how this works (I'm not too good with webdev and thought a site can't just open another tab and control it remotely):

The code driving this is at: http://ruinmysearchhistory.com/ruin.js?1

It uses window.open to run the search:

 window.open('https://www.google.com/search?q='+ encodeURI(ruinSearchQuery),'ruinmysearchhistory');
But the second parameter will set a name to the newly open tab. Calling window.open with the same name again will reuse the existing tab:


So it doesn't actually control the google site but keeps reloading it with new search urls. This may be obvious to everybody, but it did confuse me a little.

i336_ 3 days ago 2 replies      
Related: https://www.reddit.com/r/AmazonWTF/ (NSFW!!)

I've heard people complain after being subscribed to that subreddit that Amazon's relevance engine becomes unusable for them (and while unsaid, I imagine they can't browse Amazon with anyone else at their computer).

OP, take note. :P

rehabindian 3 days ago 0 replies      
I laughed so hard, that co-workers started staring at me. Had to abort before anyone looked. I think i will hide this like a LMGTFY link and slack it.
_alaeri 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reddit has kind of a cool discussion about it there: https://www.reddit.com/r/InternetIsBeautiful/comments/4nc763...
brbsix 3 days ago 4 replies      

 Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. This page checks to see if it's really you sending the requests, and not a robot. Why did this happen? IP address: * Time: 2016-06-10T00:07:58Z URL: https://www.google.com/search?q=donald%20trump
It appears Google is not too happy with Donald Trump.

bbcbasic 3 days ago 3 replies      
Run this and you will be profiled by the NSA as a hapless geek HN reader.
dezb 2 days ago 0 replies      
['how to appear funny', 'why are my thumbs uneven', 'am i lack toast and tolerant', 'your youre difference', 'why doesnt my poo float', 'midget google images', 'tall midgets??', 'homemade lube?', 'i hate my boss', 'what counts as fat', 'how to tell partner they fat', 'is it normal to still love my ex', 'how to get back with ex', 'penis remove dog how to', 'romantic ways to propose', 'engagement rings', 'sex shop in my city', 'how to tell if partner cheating', 'ways to kill someone hypothetically', 'undetectable poisons', 'how to delete search history in browser', 'ashley madison hack', 'view ashley madison list', 'ashley madison list my city', 'paternity test', 'mail order paternity test', 'attracted to mother why', 'is incest illegal in this country', 'latest laws incest', 'seduction guide', 'rohypnol safe dosage', 'smelly penis cure urgent', 'common STIs', 'STI test in my city', 'average penis size this country', 'do penis pumps work', 'best budget penis pumps', 'does liking men mean im gay', 'signs of being gay', 'how to come out as gay to dad', 'age of consent here', 'why is age of consent so old here', 'country low age of consent', 'flights philippines', 'isis application form', 'how to join isis', 'cheap syria flights from here', 'syria hotels with pool', 'bing', 'donald trump', 'OH COME ON DONT JUST COPY AND PASTE THE LIST FROM THE ARRAY YOU CHEEKY SCAMP']"
akerro 2 days ago 0 replies      
TrackMeNot is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one's tracks), but instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation. With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with Firefox and Chrome browsers and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing) and requires no 3rd-party servers or services.
iagorodriguez 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you create a form to submit new searches I will definitively help you (Cmo votar a Trump si eres mexicano)
ssevenn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I almost fell off my chair. They should come up with a way to contribute to this list
elliottcarlson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some what related is the UTM Mangler; a browser extension that auto-replaces UTM campaign parameters with more interesting alternatives: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/utm-mangler/ngddln... (source code: https://github.com/huntwelch/UTM-Mangler)
necessity 2 days ago 0 replies      
This thread makes me really happy for my recent installation of NoScript.
capoditutticapi 3 days ago 0 replies      
most of these searches look like my regular browse history
striking 3 days ago 3 replies      
Well, I'm probably on a list now. Thanks for that.
nostromo 3 days ago 4 replies      
Warning: people should know this is NSFW for anyone with a company that monitors your web usage.

I also wouldn't run this from an authoritarian country where local officials may not appreciate the joke.

seleniumk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I so badly want to extend this. I want more terrible searches!
ganessh 3 days ago 3 replies      
Use incognito window to see what this is going to do
dude3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Next step is a chrome plugin that randomly searches for stuff in the background.
anotheryou 2 days ago 1 reply      
They should have left out the gay stuff. Might have potential to stir up a heterosexual relationship, but makes it look like it's a bad thing on it's own.
lalos 3 days ago 1 reply      
Privacy through noise? through obfuscation? I need a word for this
coenhyde 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is super irresponsible to have on HN. Not funny. Especially for people who live in despot countries. Not sure if the USA counts quite yet.
gexla 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are you hiring to come up with the crazy in this list? I would like to apply.
bikamonki 2 days ago 0 replies      
"ways to kill someone hypothetically" oh oh cops knocking anytime now...
beardog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kind of glad i used the tor browser bundle for this, pretty funny though.
dayN 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please mark the post NSFW
techthroway443 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just got a letter from my supervisor. Had no idea it would 'ruin' my search with perverted garbage. Thanks for that.
melvinmt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will check this out next time I'm in an Apple Store...
voiceclonr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This screwed me up. I gave the 5 second attention and I thought it was doing the opposite (i.e flood with SFW links and sanitize my search).
yyhhsj0521 3 days ago 0 replies      
After the 7th or the 8th query, Google's captcha kicked in, asking me to prove my humanity before continuing.
lumberjack 2 days ago 0 replies      
OK isn't this dangerous though? I don't want to get on any lists.
Uptrenda 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of these ISIS searches make me slightly concerned ... but other than that, not bad.
gauravagarwalr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Game Theory: If enough people click this, does Google stop showing stupid ads to everyone eventually?
ianai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now do this for facebook profiles
daveloyall 3 days ago 1 reply      
From the title, I guessed this would be some attempt to spoil or camouflage the profile that google keeps on each user, thus decreasing the value of profiles, thus fighting back.

While I expected the attempt to be flawed, according to mmastrac's analysis, this is a joke. (And a pretty 'meh' one, at that!)

greenspot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, I'll let this run all day long.
j0e1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 'ruined'!
iagorodriguez 3 days ago 0 replies      
laughed really hard :)
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why vote this crap up?
smoreilly 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful.
4h53n 2 days ago 0 replies      
beatpanda 3 days ago 0 replies      
api 2 days ago 0 replies      
Such disrupt. So convergent. Wow.
ryanmarsh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Got a really good LOL out of this. I wish HN had a little more humor, not Reddit levels, just a wee bit more.
Intel and ME, and why we should get rid of ME fsf.org
288 points by protomyth  2 days ago   140 comments top 22
e12e 1 day ago 3 replies      
Intel remote management with support for using the wireless card is something that got me quite terrified when I first tried on my T420. Basically, no recent intel laptop can ever be secured, unless you physically remove the wireless and wired network card.

Intel has a jolly video demoing how to pwn a machine remotely (framed in the positive light of taking control and fixing a boot problem by the it service desk):


This is for 6th generation+ cpus, but the systems in older cpus are also quite powerful. And can't really be protected beyond using a password/passphrase. I'm not sure (and probably no-one knows) if there's also a golden key/backdoor.

(I wonder if the video is actually narrated by Zach Woods (Donald 'Jared' Dunn from Silicon Valley) - or if it just sounds a bit like that).

At any rate, if watching that jolly video doesn't fill you with fear, I'd say you're not sufficiently paranoid.

dlmetcalf 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow, no one here has mentioned Johanna Rutkovska's (Invisible Things Lab & QubesOS), "Intel x86 Considered Harmful"?


Essential reading!!


dlmetcalf 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope these guys get lots of orders and prices fall (Raptor's Talos Secure Workstation): https://www.raptorengineering.com/TALOS/prerelease.php

With Google having ported all their software to Power8, I'm looking forward to more economies of scale kicking on.

slasaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
FWIW, there is a petition for Intel to Release an ME-less CPU design: https://puri.sm/posts/petition-for-intel-to-release-an-me-le...
rxm 1 day ago 2 replies      
There was another thread on ME. At some point ME will get hacked or the golden certificate stolen, at which point someone will have a lot of access.


mrob 1 day ago 5 replies      
I don't see how getting rid of the ME helps. If you don't trust Intel then you don't trust Intel. They can backdoor the main CPU as easily as they can backdoor the ME. The only true solution is an Open Source Hardware CPU, and some means of verifying that the hardware matches the HDL.

There are already Open Source CPU designs, but the verification is more difficult. Even if you use a big enough process node that you can decap it and inspect it optically (eg. using similar techniques as used with http://visual6502.org/ ), there is still the possibility of dopant-level backdoors which are much harder to detect:


DenisM 1 day ago 4 replies      
I often wonder if the only secure computing and communication these days is an air-gapped computer.

The data can be manipulated there and then copied to another computer using... uh... a writeable compact disk? USB drives are hard to trust given how much software is running on them, so... maybe CF cards too?

boznz 1 day ago 3 replies      
Scary, I did not know this

I'm sure Intel has a real good reason for it being there but I would feel much more comfortable with it either not being there or being able to disable it in hardware.

hueving 1 day ago 3 replies      
>Libreboot X200 laptop

Is this laptop the top of the line spec-wise that you can buy which is free from this trash?

orik 1 day ago 1 reply      
BLK overclocking non-k sky lake chips disables ME. You loose out on some power saving/voltage throttling features as well as avx2 instructions, but if you're worried about security ME is disabled.
35bge57dtjku 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can I just use AMD chips to avoid this?
gpvos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does ME still access the network if you don't connect anything to the Intel network card, but use a different network card instead?
pmarreck 1 day ago 0 replies      
After the demise of PowerPC in the general computing space, what did you expect would come of Intel hegemony? BS like this. An invisible, all powerful, potentially hackable layer between the chip core and the OS sold as something to ease remote administration and enforce DRM.
hornbill 1 day ago 3 replies      
How does Intel ME access network? Does it use the IP address assigned to the OS or does it try to get perform DHCP?
csense 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone know if AMD suffers from a similar "feature"?
MichaelGG 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is this enabled though? Sounds like ILO/DRAC/etc., if a bit more capable. But if it's not turned on, is it that big of a deal?

If we assume Intel is malicious, they hardly need a platform like ME to do harm. And isn't this kind of stuff only available on the more expensive systems? Because they include this to sell to enterprise help desks, right?

I dislike articles that seem set to spin something. At least explain the plausible or documented reasons, then show why it's bad.

Qantourisc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Intel should supply a ME bricking firmware !
omphalos 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's remarkable how a company with so many resources can make something so poorly designed.
SFJulie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Problem of security product is their designers often do shitty code with design flaw with very high privileges.

But be assured every thing is fine since for security reasons you cannot see their code.

uudecode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Generally, do development boards have ME, too?
microcolonel 1 day ago 0 replies      
I look forward to the variety of vendors who will offer RISC-V chips in the coming decade. I love Intel's approach to graphics and other drivers on Linux, they've been very helpful, and their products do often work well; however I don't think that I can bear the societal cost of something as misguided as the Management Engine. I'm perfectly happy to miss out on DRM'd consumer content on my workstation; I'm not happy to miss out on decent security principles.
_yosefk 1 day ago 2 replies      
Prediction: over time, there will remain no commercially significant high-end chips without this sort of a "security subsystem." Recommending ARM, PowerPC or other architectures over x86 as the FSF suggests will not get you very far because the problem (or as chip vendors call it, the solution) is not in the ISA, it's in the chip, and every chip vendor making the sort of chip that can power a general-purpose computer will end up being this way.

Of course in practice, as long as say Linux runs on the machine, the existence of the ME or the like is almost inconsequential for the user, because you run the same software, and there's never a shortage of security vulnerabilities right there in the OS and the userspace software. In terms of the impact on the number of vulnerabilities, eliminating C and C++ would go way further than eliminating black box "security" hardware, just because the huge amount of C and C++ code, much of it written hastily and committed the moment it "runs on my machine", presents a much larger attack surface than the black box hardware + software system. But of course the FSF will never recommend ditching C and C++.

AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning: A Primer [video] a16z.com
268 points by jonbaer  1 day ago   77 comments top 9
aficionado 1 day ago 3 replies      
Basically this video ignores the history of machine learning in general. Jumping from Expert Systems to Neural Networks and Deep Learning is actually ignoring 36 years (and billions of dollars) of research http://machinelearning.org/icml.html (Breiman, Quinlan, Mitchell, Dietterich, Domingos, etc). Calling 2012 the seminal moment of Deep Learning is quite hard to digest. Maybe it means that 2012 is the point in time when the VC community discovered machine learning? Even harder to digest is calling Deep Learning the most productive and accurate machine learning system. What about more business oriented domains (without unstructured inputs), the extreme difficulties and expertise required to fine tune a network for a specific problem, or some drawbacks like the ones explained by http://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.1897v2.pdf or http://cs.nyu.edu/~zaremba/docs/understanding.pdf.

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. As Roger Schank pointed out recently http://www.rogerschank.com/fraudulent-claims-made-by-IBM-abo..., another AI winter is coming soon! Funny that the video details the three first AI winters but the author doesn't realize that this excessive enthusiasm in one particular technique is contributing to a new one!

cs702 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is an opinionated video that tries to rewrite history. For example, according to it, the "big breakthrough" with deep learning occurred in 2012 when Andrew Ng et al got an autoencoder to learn to categorize objects in unlabeled images. WHAT? Many other researchers were doing similar work years earlier. According to whom was this the "big breakthrough?"

The video at least mentions Yann LeCun's early work with convnets, but there's no mention of Hinton et al's work with RBMs and DBNs in 2006, or Bengio et al's work with autoencoders in 2006/2007, or Schmidhuber et al's invention of LSTM cells in 1997... I could keep going. The list of people whose work is insulted by omission is HUGE.

I stopped watching the video at that point.

KasianFranks 1 day ago 3 replies      
AI is very fragmented. Biomimicry has always been the way forward in every industry and Stephen Pinker made good head way from my vantage.



Saira Mian, Micheal I. Jordan (Andrew Ng was a pupil of his) and David Blei were not mentioned in this video so they are off the mark a bit. Vector space is the place.


AI has become the most competitive academic and industry sector I've seen. Firms like Andreessen are trying to understand the impact during this AI summer and they should be applauded for this.

One of the keys to AI is found here: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&e...

Deep learning has very little to do with how the brain and mind work together.In the video the highlight on ensemble (combinatorial) techniques are a big part of the solution.

gavanwoolery 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting to see the amount of "winters" AI has gone through (analogous, to a lesser extent, to VR).

I see increasing compute power, an increased learning set (the internet, etc), and increasingly refined algorithms all pouring into making the stuff we had decades ago more accurate and faster. But we still have nothing at all like human intelligence. We can solve little sub-problems pretty well though.

I theorize that we are solving problems slightly the wrong way. For example, we often focus on totally abstract input like a set of pixels, but in reality our brains have a more gestalt / semantic approach that handles higher-level concepts rather than series of very small inputs (although we do preprocess those inputs, i.e. rays of light, to produce higher level concepts). In other words, we try to map input to output at too granular of a level.

I wonder though if there will be a radical rethinking of AI algorithms at some point? I tend to always be of the view that "X is a solved problem / no room for improvement in X" is BS, no matter how many people have refined a field over any period of time. That might be "naive" with regards to AI, but history has often shown that impossible is not a fact, just a challenge. :)

justsaysmthng 1 day ago 3 replies      
From the presentation:"There's a lot of talk about how AI is going to totally replace humans... (But) I like to think that AI is going to actually make humans better at what they do ..."

Then immediately he continues that

"So it turns out that using deep learning techniques we've already gotten to better than human performance [....] at these highly complex tasks that used to take highly, highly trained individuals... These are perfect examples of how deep learning can get to better than human performance... 'cause they're just taking data and they're making categories.."

I think that brushing off the dramatic social changes that this technology will catalyze is irresponsible.

One application developed by one startup in California (or wherever) could make tens of millions of people redundant all over the world overnight.

How will deep learning apps affect the healthcare systems all over the world? What about IT, design, music, financial, transportation, postal services... nearly every field will be affected by it.

Who should the affected people turn to ? Their respective states ? The politicians ? Take up arms and make a revolution ?

My point is that technologists should be ready to answer these questions.

We can't just outsource these problems to other layers of society - after all, they're one step behind the innovation and the consequence of technology is only visible after it's already deeply rooted in our daily habits.

We should become more involved in the political process all over the world (!) - at least with some practical advice to how the lawmakers should adapt the laws of their countries to avoid economic or social disturbances due to the introduction of a certain global AI system.

autokad 1 day ago 2 replies      
We will be closer to cracking neural nets and are closer to the singularity when we can train a net on two completely different tasks and each task can make other predictions subsequently better. IE: train / test it on spam / ~ spam emails, then train the same net with twitter data male / female.
31reasons 1 day ago 7 replies      
One of the main challenges in Deep Learning is that it requires massive amounts of data, orders of magnitude more data than a human toddler to detect a cat. It could be a great area of research on how to reduce the amount of data it takes to train the network.

One main thing it lacks is imagination. Humans can learn things and can imagine different combinations of those things. For example, if I ask you to imagine a Guitar playing Dolphin, you could imagine it and even recognize it from a cartoon even though you have never seen it in your life before. Not so for Deep Learning, unless you provide massive amount of images of Dolphins playing guitars.

epberry 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty basic stuff - the history portion was more interesting than any of the content that followed. Anyone who's been paying the slightest attention in the last few years will be familiar with all of the examples used in the podcast.

On a side note I always admire the polish of the content that comes out of a16z - its typically very well put together.

vj_2016 1 day ago 0 replies      

Apparently, robots still struggle to pick up things?

Laid-Off Americans, Required to Zip Lips on Way Out, Grow Bolder nytimes.com
243 points by joshwa  1 day ago   195 comments top 34
nwhybrid 1 day ago 4 replies      
As a former H1-B worker myself (please put down the pitch-forks :)), I can tell you that regular companies aren't hiring H1-Bs to replace you directly. Instead they contract swarms of us through companies like WiPro and other body shops. This, along with the inability to seek a more fitting job on your own regardless of skill level is the main problem I see. You're essentially shackled to these body shops. You can't go home because of their BS employee agreements that force you to pay thousands if you leave before a certain time, you can't ask for higher salary or healthcare benefits, you don't get to choose where you work so it may be Texas today, WA tomorrow, Alabama next week so forget having a family life, you're wife can't work if you bring her and kids with you so you have to just follow along to their whims regardless. It is pretty much human trafficking once you get here. I can tell most folks here are American, they have no idea how messed up the H1-B system is.
warcher 1 day ago 3 replies      
Listen, there's no point claiming the H1 situation isn't a rampant clusterfuck. Actual skilled laborers lie in limbo while busloads of cheap, disposable foreign workers are brought over to get exploited and depress domestic wages. It's a full on disaster.

If you have to have temporary worker visas, fine. But don't tie them to a company. If there's a legitimate need, and they're legitimately skilled, they'll find work, and they'll more than likely find work that pays comparably to a native worker (or they'll get poached, because good help is always hard to find).

lazaroclapp 1 day ago 4 replies      
This causes some pretty strong mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, foreign workers are already disadvantaged compared with domestic workers and H1-B caps are absurdly low. I keep failing to see why we are all supposed to open world markets to the flow of every sort of capital and goods except labor, or why someone deserves a job for being born American, rather than Indian (Note that I feel the same way when Americans are disadvantaged elsewhere for similar reasons[1]). On the other hand, a clause requiring that you never say something bad about your employer nor discuss the situation under which you were laid off seems not only abusive, but repugnantly so. In a country that constitutionally enshrines free speech, the ability to sign away for money your right to complain publicly about a person or organization seems particularly dangerous, and the act of asking someone to do so seems truly vile.

[1] https://medium.com/@rachelnabors/wtfuk-73009d5623b4#.466usni...

kazinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Now some of the workers who were displaced are starting to speak out, despite severance agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers.

You can easily reveal the facts it in a totally non-critical way.

At ABC Data, workers were encouraged to collaborate with management to come up with creative solutions to streamline processes and save costs. When I realized that ABC could save money by replacing me with an equally capable, yet much cheaper worker visiting the country on a temporary work permit, I immediately pitched this idea at the next big cross-departmental meeting. There was much resistance among management. They objected on the basis of the unique knowledge and skills that I bring to the team, and how we all "go way back" to the startup days. In the end they saw it my way and agreed to relocate my posterior to that outdoor concrete fixture which separates the road from the sidewalk or lawn. I was unfortunately not able to talk them out of the egregiously generous severance package, though even with that expenditure, ABC ends up ahead. ABC is a great company to invest in with terrific fundamentals and future prospects, and is led by a highly ethical team whose decisions are beyond reproach.

muhfuhkuh 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it interesting the amount of sudden vitriol by some of the formerly "free market" supporters that thought that the terrible job market for non-STEM majors would never, ever hit the technology industry. Those that decry artistry and creative industry jobs as beneath them and their money, those that felt working class people were just too lazy to find "good" jobs, and generally feeling apathy if not schadenfreude for those suffering from the corporate recovery of 2010-present.

Those same free marketers also agreed with the destruction of unions and protections like minimum wage. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, look at the comments. "H1-Bs are depressing prices" have replaced "why should I pay for music and movies" and "any industry that relies on ads should die".

Well, now with the tables turned, why should working class Americans and artists and content creators give one shit that the technology industry is suffering from "depressed salaries". Suffer with the rest of America.

rrecuero 1 day ago 2 replies      
Former H1-B Worker as well. I was sponsored by Zynga Inc and Moz. Finally got my green card recently. As other people have pointed out above, I believe the problem relies on who is sponsoring these candidates. The following list speaks by itself:

1 Infosys: 23,8162 Tata Consultancy Services 14,0963 Wipro8,3654 IBM7,9445 Deloitte Consulting 7,016

Google, Facebook, Amazon and even Tesla or Palantir should be in the top spots. Setting a minimum wage to $100,000 would filter most of the sweat show applications out.

yuhong 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am not surprised that companies that are broken enough to do the outsourcing in the first place are also often broken enough to have this term in severance agreements. But it really should not be standard.
triplesec 1 day ago 1 reply      
Worth noting the headlines of the 'related coverage':

Lawsuits Claim Disney Colluded to Replace U.S. Workers With Immigrants JAN 25, 2016;

Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, Costing the U.S. Jobs NOV 10, 2015;

Toys R Us Brings Temporary Foreign Workers to U.S. to Move Jobs Overseas SEP 29, 2015;

Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements. JUN 3, 2015

MaggieL 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's always amazing that the H-1Bs who have these rare skills that are unavailable in US citizens nonetheless always seem to require training by the native workers they are replacing.
johndubchak 1 day ago 3 replies      
At this point, with both Corporate abuses from American corporations and the H1-B holding companies along with the frequency with which we've seen the more expensive American work replaced with a much cheaper "guest" worker, I believe we need to ask ourselves, do we not have enough surplus American workers that are unemployed such that the H1-B program might not be necessary for a year or two until we've managed to get the unemployed American workers back to work?
johngray0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Couple of things about H1B: 1. While H1B workers are cheaper, they are also pretty much stuck with their employer. Not 100% but much less mobility than citizen. Sorry, this reeks just a wee bit of indentured servitude. 2. If you take Corp. Execs at their word, and that rising H1B caps is good for country, then would be good for a journalist to probe: what about a 10M worker cap? Or 1.5 billion worker cap? That would make america even stronger, no?
giis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
As a Indian and worked in Indian body shops (but who never traveled aboard). My views on Indian-body shop immigrants :

In 2005, when I completed university masters degree. Our class has around 60 students, I'm pretty sure may be 5 or 6 of (1%) them are talented and good in computers. Most of us took IT job. We had chances to immigrate to other as early as 2007 through Indian body shops like Wipro, Infy, Tata, CTS etc.

In 2016, now most of them (60%) of them working in aboard. May be 40% in USA and 20% EU/ROW. How did almost 59% of these not-so talented friends landed in other countries? Did they gained sound knowledge in those 48 months or later. I really _really_ doubt that. Its because we are low-cost workers and got close to Indian IT management. Typical Indian IT managers are ass*. They want boot-lickers not skilled developers. So its easy for unskilled people to land in other countries in the name of skilled-person. I know few guys who worked in non-IT companies (later created fake IT experiences) joined these body shops and now living in US.

I assume almost 80-90% IT Indians in US are helping American companies simply because he/she is low-cost worker. Its not like US companies cant find local talent to fill these roles, but they want low-cost solution.

If you got laid-off due to low-cost workers, please remember, its the US company & IT Body-shop bosses & stock-holders financially benefited a lot from these lay-offs not necessarily the worker who replaced you or the poor-outsourced IT slaves.

one simple solution : Please tighten the visa-interview process, make it more like real IT company interview (ask about data-structures and algorithms etc). This will ensure immigration rates from body-shops drop from 60%(from my numbers above) to 5% max.


My personal experience with Indian & US/foreign freelancers greatly differ. Even though US/foreign freelancers are costly (1USD:66 INR), I find them worthy. They go-out and put extra-effort to finish the task. With Indian freelancers, they just want to finish the task quickly and get the paid. I find it amusing that US companies hire us for of lack-of talents there :)

dghughes 23 hours ago 1 reply      
In Canada Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program was changed. It was getting to the point where entire industries changed overnight out with long-time employees and in with near slave wage "TFWs" (many people just say refer to the people as TFWs).

It got so bad it became a huge political hot potato and the law was changed resulting in many TFWs disappearing as fast as they arrived.

The law here was similar to the TFW laws in the US and it was abused the same way. The law was meant as a way businesses could get help by hiring cheaper labour if they couldn't find local workers. But of course hiring someone at $5/hour versus $11/hour is strong motivation for a business to cheat.

This was every industry too each had its own preferred ethnicity mining (Chinese), fast food (Filipino), IT (India), agriculture (Central American). It's only now changing back to local people born in Canada.

I don't have any ill will against the TFW workers it's the businesses who are the ones who ruined the purpose of the TFW law and now have to suffer for it.

johngray0 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Marco Pea was among about 150 technology workers who were laid off....." Going on a limb but guessing Mr.Pea might be of hispanic origin. Most talk about Trump has been tone, but little of substance. Sizzle vs steak, and all. My hunch is that most of Pundits&Pols class focus too much on tone and too little on what Trump would actually likely do. And that there are many Mr.Pea's for whom, while the would prefer nicer words coming out of TV set, are more concerned with what their wallets are saying. And that while Trump might take us to uncertain unknown, Clinton is doubling down on a crappy known.
xeropho 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Immigration for "skilled" workers is flawed in USPlease look at other countries ( point based system ) and for the love of sanity just adopt best practices ...flaws: 1) Skilled worker immigration should be based on "skills" (country of origin is incorrect: Indian and Chinese immigrants suffer, US workforce also suffers) 2) Immigration should be tied to individuals, influence from employer has conflict of interest. (employer wants to make money even if it comes at the cost of employees ability to immigrate)3) Immigration as whole should be based on what new individuals bring to the table (skills, age when joining workforce, true intent and ability to adopt new country)

Point 3 is complex and involves true value for US or country of adoption. *Immigration overall is not as complex or difficult as most politicians publicize it, it has become far more political than it needs to be, thank you President Obama.

35bge57dtjku 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've never even had the option to sign a no disparagement clause for a settlement like that. I've had to support my family with what I already had whether I liked it or not. So what they did is shitty, but I have a hard time feeling bad for the 1% who complain that they have the option of getting more money by signing away their rights if they so choose.
pm90 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another commenter alluded to it, but I find both the article and the discussion miss what is really going on. It seems like a lot of firms are basically outsourcing their IT workforce; something that has been going on for a long time now.

For most businesses, IT is a cost center, and if that cost can be minimized, they will do so, full stop. What the articles doesn't go into detail is whether those workers that are being trained will continue to work in the US, or whether they are in the US temporarily to understand the IT infrastructure and processes. It seems to me that the latter is the case here. Again, outsourcing has been going on for the longest time, and it really confounds me how many times the same issue will be brought up.

abpavel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of uproar, but have you ever tried to teach a 60yo veteran working his paper trail to switch to python? The laid off personnel did not have the required skillset, and would be fired regardless of the source of replacement, H1B or local.
fiatmoney 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a simple solution, particularly in the context of congressional or other government investigations: subpoena them. Nondisparagement clauses don't & can't cover compelled testimony.
thegayngler 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's just businesses abusing the system. We need more legislation in place to keep businesses from Harmon Americans and shooting themselves in the foot long term. American workers who support unfeddered capitalism always end up wondering why they are starving when they supported tax cuts for the wealthy and big business while leaving no money to pay for the fallout of their disasterous decisions. Sometimes you get what you asked for.
FLengyel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
These companies seem not to believe in the free market if they suppress the free exchange of information about their labor practices.
franciscop 1 day ago 0 replies      
Totally independently of other things, naming it "Required" sounds better than "took 10.000$ for zipping their lips"
sjclemmy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Free market capitalism.

You can't have it both ways.

blisterpeanuts 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So, after thirteen years of my loyal and dedicated service, you're offering me $10,400 severance, six weeks notice (during which I must train my H1B half-price replacement), if and only if I sign a non-disparagement agreement? And otherwise, I'm out on my butt tomorrow?

No. You're going to give me one year's salary with benefits (after all, Lester Burnham got away with it in "American Beauty"). You're also going to pay me DOUBLE during the period that I am training the half price indentured servant who you imagine is going to replace me. Mind you, he'll never replace my previous loyalty and dedication; that's not something you can train into someone in six weeks... or ever. You have to earn loyalty, a lesson you'll discover over the next few months as you screw your employees.

Also, you will sign a mutual non-disparagement agreement; I say nothing bad about you, and you say nothing bad about me, and my lawyer says if you spread malicious and damaging gossip about me, it will cost me one million dollars in lost career potential, so that's what you will owe me if you do so -- plus punitive damages.

And if you don't give me what I want, I'm quitting as of 5pm today and will immediately write a book and blog about the stupidity of management here at Wrecked Lives Inc. In fact I've already reserved the domain names that will be appropriate for my upcoming tell-all. Lots of luck stopping me; I'll only tell the truth, and the First Amendment protects me. If you try to sue me, I'll sue you back, and the resulting publicity will make my book and my blog and my Youtube channel famous enough that I'll never need to work again. Your investors and commercial partners will also hear about it. So make my day.

I'm not saying most people would do this, or even if they did, that they would get away with it, but it's how a person in that situation ought to respond. Granted, we in the U.S. have at-will employment, granted it's a free market, and sometimes the smartest move is to simply move on and put this behind you. But we're also human beings with emotions, loyalties, and a sense of betrayal, and when a management team tries to pull the H1b-swap-and-gag on the employees, they have to recognize the price.

beatpanda 20 hours ago 0 replies      
So, is it time for a union yet?
the_ancient 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have long been an open borders supporter, anyone that wants to come to the US (or any other nation) and make a life for themselves should be free to do so.

I am also 100% opposed to even the existence of the H1B visa program, this program is a modernized version of Indentured servitude that allows companies to take advantage of those employees by conditioning their immigration to their employment. These people are often coming from circumstances they do not want to return to, poverty, oppression, persecution, etc. So the threat of being fired and deported is a coercive force that employers use to exploit these workers.

I am fine with immigration, I am even fine if immigrant are willing to work for lower wages, provided that agreement is free from the threat of deportation...

lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure I get this - are the workers coming in to replace them actually in the USA physically? Are they staying in the USA physically?

I mean is this offshoring / outsourcing or is it replacing with cheaper workers?

Why can't the existing employees compete for the jobs? I mean WIPRO must have going through some pretty big pre sales workups, so who else was competing?

I think what I mean is that doing this in secret implies that no one doing the actual job was ever consulted about the viability of outsourcing / replacing them / so you never get a real understanding of the costs or opportunities for improvement (essentially automating a bad process)

In summary - any company that does this cheap shot is usually one that is going to get its ass handed to it by a better more automated competitor.

known 22 hours ago 0 replies      
To promote Entrepreneurs/Local Jobs

1. Impose tax on corporate revenues, not profits

2. Regulate market capitalization of corporations

golergka 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Honest question: if a guy in India can do the same job as a guy in the US, but coming from a country with worse economy agrees to do it cheaper, why would I sympathize with the american guy in this situation?

Honestly, to me it seems like american working class have been really privileged compared to the world's population in 20th century, and globalization finally brings some equality which might not be a good thing to american middle class, but is a great one for workers from China, India and all other 3rd world countries.

known 22 hours ago 0 replies      
VladKovac 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sorry, I don't feel bad for any of these people. Even the poorest Americans have better material conditions than a lot of Indian workers. Why do you think the Indian workers are willing to work for less?
pmarreck 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> Two years later, his work with a local tech contracting company pays $45,000 a year less than his Eversource salary. Many of his former co-workers are also struggling, Mr. Diangelo said, but stay quiet to avoid provoking the company.

So basically, the company wasn't making enough money to support the affluent pay of its workforce so it had to take drastic measures to stay afloat.

If you are suddenly making $45,000 a year less than you were... Perhaps you were getting paid above your true market value

ccrush 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not ask the recruiter or company you are applying for if they are willing to sponsor or work with an H1B visa (pretend you are in that position) and move on if they say yes. It will be interesting to see how well these companies do when all they can hire are H1B workers. After all, they can only get so many of those visas, and there is only a 30% chance that the application will actually be approved. They do need a certain number of US workers to have a stable workforce. With that gone, all their projects will be at risk of failure. How much of this risk do you think they can keep up before they are forced to give up these H1B abuses? I say abuses because there are clearly qualified local candidates willing to work at the market rate, but they lie about the market rate and lie about not finding local candidates to hire their cheap labor. Ideally, they should have a Job ID assigned to all jobs where they are considering H1Bs and post the name, wage, and qualifications of the hired candidate if they hire an H1B candidate. That way, potential employees that were passed up can see who they were passed up for, and complain to the right people if they were unfairly skipped on for a cheaper employee with poorer qualifications just because they were cheaper or would be cheaper in the long run because they would never get a raise or benefits or unemployment or pay into social security and medicaid.
Hondor 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This is simple "they stole our jobs" rhetoric. It's just like taxi drivers with their "Uber stole our fares". If you can't compete, go to another market. If you're already overcharging, charge less. "Depressing local wages" is a good thing - it reduces the cost to society of getting productive things done.

The other argument about foreign workers being exploited is a clear sign of people pretending to care but really not caring. Sure there are some who were tricked into debt traps, but for most, they know what they're getting into and they know it's better than what they have back home. So they're making a step up in life. You want to kick them back down because you care about their welfare? What it means is you only care about people in America and once they leave, they lose their status as worthy human beings who deserve good working conditions.

I used to be a foreign laborer. I was paid minimum wage to do grunt work that locals didn't want. It was wonderful. The currency was worth more in my home country than where I was working. It helped me pay off my student loan. I would have hated to be forced out by someone trying to protect me from myself. My coworkers loved it too, they'd send money home to help their parents run their farms and pay off their own loans. They'd laugh at the lazy local workers who were mostly overweight and doing the same job more slowly.

Walmart Canada stops accepting Visa cards walmartcanada.ca
239 points by jackgavigan  15 hours ago   297 comments top 23
ced 14 hours ago 19 replies      
Dear HN, I'd like to fact check my outrage...

If I understand correctly, credit card terms forbid stores from offering two different prices (one for paying with and one for paying without), because if they didn't, some stores would offer a 2-3% discount for cash, and customers would switch to cash. Meanwhile, most people I've spoken with are happy with the system, because they feel like they're getting money back for free through cashback/reward programs, so credit card companies are incentivized to keep increasing their merchant fees so that they can give more money back to their customers. Restaurants/shops that don't accept credit get less customers, and are forced into the system as well. While the government could do something about it, they don't because they can track every credit card transaction (-> tax revenue), but they can't track cash. And cash-paying customers get to pay the 2-3% "credit card tax" on every transaction, which is so ridiculously backward.

I hope Walmart's decision snowballs.

sandworm101 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Rail against the credit card companies if you want, but realize this is Walmart, not an orphanage. This story is part of a negotiation between Walmart Canada and Visa. They want outrage. They want us to get mad. They want this on CNN (not likely considering what just happened). Public outrage puts pressure on Visa to cut them a better deal. Walmart admits the intention to cut a deal eventually. Let the heavyweights fight it out amongst themselves. I choose not to participate in the farce.
mabbo 14 hours ago 7 replies      
Just so folks understand: in Canada (actually, pretty much everywhere but America) every bank issues it's own non-credit-card affiliated debit card that can be used to pay for things at stores (or get money at the ATM). So this is annoying, but not a huge deal.

I'll get to the cash, get told "sorry, no visa", and take out my debit card to pay that way instead. Really not a big deal.

It's just Walmart annoying their customers to try to prove some point to Visa.

thought_alarm 9 hours ago 1 reply      
In Canada, direct debit is by far the most popular payment method (it over took cash over 15 years ago) and Visa plays no role in direct debit purchases. 100% of all direct debit transactions are handled by the ubiquitous Interac network, not Visa or MasterCard, and everyone with a bank account has an Interac card.

So, while dropping Visa is still kind of a big deal, it's not quite as big a deal as it would be in other countries where Visa handles both credit and debit purchases. Certainly Walmart will know how much Interac is used over Visa.

But here's the thing. Interac has no rewards program, and it charges the consumer a flat fee with each transaction ($0.15 I think? I don't know, I stopped using Interac 15 years ago). Yet, Interac is hugely popular.

Meanwhile, we're all paying a hidden 2% tax on everything to cover the credit card interchange fees whether we use a credit card or not. It's a completely unacceptable situation and it's hard not to be on the side of the side of the retailers (even when they propose ham-fisted solutions like CurrentC).

eggy 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Good for Walmart!

I was one of the hopeful for a Bitcoin, or another blockchain-based currency, to cut out the middleman, all the while maintaining the convenience of spending my money as I see fit. The middleman are the 5 to 7 companies that touch a credit card transaction from POS to the bank, each taking a small cut. I am confident most HNers probably already know.

Unfortunately the door didn't shut on big credit/transaction processing/bank asses fast enough, so all them have developed blockchain-based instruments to ensure they get a cut of any future transaction that flows. Short of a sudden worldwide adoption of Bitcoin by merchants and consumers overnight, this does not appear to be happening (fingers crossed), I am not sure how the market will take care of the fee situation; I'm not fond of government regulation via caps, since it will hinder other creative efforts to change the system; the disparity is what will drive an innovation (I hope). I think a player willing to take less would start a price war and gain more volume.

The passivity of acceptance of these fees by the majority of consumers without any noise, is similar to how regular paycheck income tax withdrawals are like bleeding people drop by drop; they don't seem to care too much. As opposed to saying, 'Hey we'll take that 28%' all in one chunk on April 15th. People would revolt, or get very angry ;)

So I think it is cool that a big player is shaking up the sleeping giant of VISA and company. I will follow this to see how quickly VISA cuts a deal. I think the Walmart letter paints them against VISA in a good light. In any case, it has brought scrutiny and public awareness to the issue.

neves 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
In Brazil, it is usual for Visa and Mastercard to charge the retailer amounts as high as 6%. I don't know why nobody screams.
downandout 14 hours ago 11 replies      
It says:

...Visa and Walmart have been unable to agree on an acceptable fee for Visa transactions. As a result we will no longer accept Visa in our stores across Canada, starting with our stores in Thunder Bay, on July 18, 2016.....We sincerely regret any impact this will have on our customers who use Visa and remain optimistic that we will reach an agreement with Visa.

This is nothing more than a negotiating ploy to get Visa to cave to Walmart's demands before July 18. No major retailer can afford to stop taking Visa. They may take the hit and carry through with it for a while just to show Visa they're serious, but it won't last very long.

BlackJack 14 hours ago 5 replies      
"To keep prices low we continuously assess opportunities to lower our operating expenses...

Customers will continue to be able to use...American Express."

Thought this was funny given that Amex must have the highest interchange & fees. Their statement still makes sense because Walmart is saying Visa fees in Canada are too high compared to their rates in other markets.

Maybe Target will win some market share, but I doubt it. I think customers will switch cards or go cash. Walmart is too good at what they do.

GreaterFool 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I lived in Singapore and I still have a bank account there. A year ago my bank bumped foreign transaction fees on credit cards to 3.5%. This is a robbery. I immediately cancelled that card. I recall the website said the most of the fee is what Visa (or Mastercard) imposes on them. Either way that's not acceptable.
chrismaeda 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The backstory here is probably that Walmart was able to negotiate fee discounts with MasterCard and American Express, but Visa refused to budge. So now Walmart is punishing them for our benefit.
peeters 13 hours ago 2 replies      
In Canada, most CC agreements with merchants do not allow the merchant to pass the fee on to the consumer. You can't charge $102.04 for a $100 product if the customer is paying with Visa. Thus the total cost to consumers is completely hidden.
callesgg 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It is interesting that they think that would work. For me personally it would simply mean that i would not buy stuff from them, as they are unable to accept my money. AKA they would lose 100% of the revenue compared to 1-2% or whatever the percentage is.
tmpanon1234act 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So they just started a campaign of attrition? They're going to lose unless other companies get on board. I'm assuming Canada was chosen intentionally, based on the data, to minimize losses. But this is going nowhere unless others follow suit.
Sami_Lehtinen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In Finland Lidl didn't earlier accept credit cards at all. Now they do. Everyone's been wondering when they start surcharging the credit card fees. Personally I think it's the right way to do it.I'm not aware about any store doing it right now. Only some on-line stores charge extra for different payment methods and 'handling fees', which naturally vary based on selected payment method.
ourmandave 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A few years ago the Illinois Secretary of State wouldn't accept VISA at DMV facilities because they weren't allowed to pass the fee to the consumer. (Mastercard and Discover let them though.)


The link mentions that Indiana had the same problem but they paid the fee because Customer Service was more important.

Animats 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just a negotiating posture. Read WalMart's web page. If WalMart had an alternative, they'd shut down all at once, not one store at a time.
ArkyBeagle 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The signal point in the statement is "Unfortunately, Visa and Walmart have been unable to agree on an acceptable fee for Visa transactions."

This give this the appearance of being part of a negotiation. "Part" could also mean "drop the mic and walk away."

cmrx64 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The last sentence made me feel like this is Walmart trying to force Visa's hand in this. This seems quite surprising to me in any case. Most (maybe all?) Walmarts I've been to have ATMs in the front, so it's not like people won't be able to get cash at the store. They'll probably just have to pay the $3 (or whatever) fee.
IvanK_net 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Denner in Switzerland does not accept Visa, MasterCard or any other card (except of some special version of Maestro) for the same reasons.

It shocked me a little during my first shopping, that I could pay only in cash in Switzerland.

whack 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't Amex the most expensive of all the credit cards? At least that's what I would expect, given that Amex has the best rewards, and most customer-friendly service. I'm surprised Walmart would continue to accept Amex but not Visa.
devonoel 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Gotta love that marketing doublespeak, trying to make it sound like it's for the customer rather than their bottom line.
gambiting 14 hours ago 9 replies      
So as a customer, if my bank only issues Visa cards, and I am not willing/can't get a credit card of a different type, what do I do?
nxzero 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Idea of credit cards still puzzles me.
People suck at technical interviews (2014) seldo.com
265 points by sgift  2 days ago   298 comments top 28
PuffinBlue 2 days ago 7 replies      
There needs to be a bit of a shift in understanding what 'category' of worker a programmer 'is', both by companies and more importantly by (some) individuals themselves.

Programming is both technical and artistic. It's a creative endeavour that relies on technical skill to complete.

The best analogy to another profession would be to those in the 'technical arts', those like photography, joinery, painting, sculpture, drafting, perhaps writing too.

It seems at the moment that companies are approaching programmers as if they are purely technical like an actuary or bookkeeper and are seeking to quantify artistic skill through interview tests. This is rubbing off on some programmers who begin to think of themselves in these terms.

I don't recall a single instance as a photographer where I had to quantify my technical skill, but there were hundreds of times I had to based on my artistic skill, proving I had already made a vast range of photographs with sufficient quality to 'prove' my ability and by extension proving my technical ability.

Crucially, it was the fact I had a portfolio that allowed me to prove my ability, both artistically and technically.

I see a similar need in programming. I think programmers should create their portfolios of personal or paid for projects that showcase their technical and artistic skill and companies should take those seriously.

At the moment it seems that far to many programmers are attempting to get jobs without a 'portfolio' which is why, in an creative endeavour like programming, companies that hire are trying to quantify and determine a new hires ability with these seemingly bullshit tests.

There's room for improvement in this argument and there are outliers, but I think the basic premise is sound.

skrebbel 2 days ago 8 replies      
In all honesty, I'm not sure the author did a lot of interviewing. For example,

> The famous fizzbuzz test simply asks "are you aware of the modulo operator?"

Wait, what? No, it asks "can you write a for loop without breaking a sweat?". There's a rightfully vivid debate going on about the virtue of asking algorithmic questions in interviews, but fizzbuzz is hardly algorithmic. I'd wager that virtually all programmers iterate a collection at least once daily.

The followup sentence drives it home for me:

> Yet people will spend twenty minutes on it in an interview, a huge waste of limited time.

Well, if it takes an applicant twenty minutes to Fizzbuzz, you're done! Just saved everybody lots of time.

I used to think Fizzbuzz was insulting and bullshit until I started interviewing. I haven't yet met a programmer who couldn't solve a Fizzbuzz-level question, but I've met many who took over 10 minutes and made little logical errors. It's a great predictor for "can this person actually program, well, at all?".

hanginghyena 2 days ago 18 replies      
Hiring Manager Perspective: Everyone lies, sorry.

As a candidate, I hate technical interviews. For the reasons above. As the poor schmuck asked to make the hiring decision, however, I've learned that I can't live without them.

My technical isn't complicated. A very basic SQL assignment (delivered to an audience which claims to know SQL) that is followed by a few broader database design / data process QA questions. Entire assignment is 100% job relevant (in fact, my SVP asked for a copy of the report it generates when he saw the problem on my whiteboard). I don't care about the details of syntax.

I do care, however, about candidates who produce SQL code which looks like the bastard love child of LISP and Java. About candidates who claim to know a skill but literally cannot write even basic syntax on the whiteboard. Who put "certificates" from Oracle on their bloody resume and break down under super gentle questioning and confess their tutor hasn't taught them JOINS (wtf ?) yet, never mind 5 years of claimed SQL experience at a big company on their resume.

The coding question is most definitely not an exercise in sadism. We validated it with several new hires who were confirmed to be "good at SQL". Average completion time: 2 minutes, generally with trolling about why do we waste our time with easy stuff.

That being said, my rejection rate from a basic coding interview is at least 50%, grading liberally and generally supported by several members of my team shaking their head about a candidate.

I've tried screening resumes, I've tried doing non-coding phone screens. IT DOESN'T WORK. Actually, all it does is eliminate the socially challenged and non-communicative (who actually tend to pass the whiteboard test) in favor of the liars.

And don't get me started about Python. Lest I bring up the Google-Motorola "I LUV Python heartheartheart" guy who didn't understand the difference between a list & dict.

gavanwoolery 2 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who is going through many technical interviews right now, and failing all of them, I love this article. (It was actually brought to my attention last week.)

My technical ability is readily apparent to those who have viewed my work, and by virtue of those who have praised it. I don't claim to be the best programmer in the world, just a competent one. I've also been programming for over 20 years, that might have something to do with it.

However, I suck at interviews, in any way shape or form (personality tests, technical tests, you name it). Yet I've aced every job ever given to me, and people love to work with me (even in spite of my salty attitude).

To think that you can determine what it is like to work with me over the span of a year within the span of an hour is completely and utterly ridiculous.

As it turns out, the little sub-problems they give are the most trivial part of programming. The hard part, the part it takes many years to get any good at, is coherently organizing, documenting, and ensuring the stability of a larger system, particularly concurrently with other programmers. Or designing an algorithm that you can't just Google. Or making a really tough decision about what features to cut or what direction to pivot. Or organizing a vision of what will add the most value for the customer. Or...etc

Being an introvert with a monotone voice, general lack of expression, and deadpan sarcastic humor does wonders for personality tests. Most people's default reaction to me (in interviews or otherwise) is that I am a total dick. Which I am, but the kind you don't mind hanging around.

I don't do well with programming that has a one hour deadline. But give me a day and I can produce the typical output a programmer would within a day.

If I spent all my time practicing for interviews, I'd probably be better at them (with stuff like Top Coder or Interview Cake or whatever). And I think giving these things a whirl is well worth it (not for the sake of winning in interviews). But it is not my life goal to be good at interviews. It is my goal to work in areas I am interested, and continue learning things that are directly relevant to my real-world tasks (sorry, writing a red-black tree on a white board within an hour never happens to me in the real world).

MrLeftHand 2 days ago 8 replies      
With one of many job applications I did, I received a small coding exercise before getting to the actual interview.

It was about writing a small application in perl (one of my favorite scripting languages) to solve a problem. It was a number converter from arabic to roman and vice versa.

Anyway I started by looking up a perl module that solved the whole thing in 3-4 lines of code.

What was the answer? Sorry that's not we wanted. We would like to see, how you would solve it with general code.

So you're saying that doing investigation work, finding an existing working solution and applying that solution is not a good answer for you?

Sorry but that's how I work. I find a problem; I investigate for a solution; if there is one I use it and implement it; if not then I will write one.

The moral of the story is: interviewing is fundamentally wrong and doesn't help you find a good candidate. There are millions of good solutions to one problem in programming. Asking for a solution you want to see and not a solution that solves the problem will never help. Then why don't you clone yourself and have an army of developers which work the same way and produce the same code with the same flaws over and over and over.

itaysk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interviewing is hard.. I always hated the idea of judging someone based on a 1 hour chat (I was always the tech interviewer or first screen). I also hate that interviewers aim to challenge the candidate with hard technical questions that they might have or might have not had experience with.

So what I do is ask the candidate to tell me about their experience, past projects, and also frankly ask them "what are you most comfortable talking about" and continue diving from here. When they talk about a topic they claim to be experienced with, you can really see what they worth. When someone can't fluently discuss something his claims to be knowledgeable in (yes that happened), that's a bad sign.

ktRolster 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I interview, I try to find out what the person is good at. Everyone who comes to interview is good at something (even if it's just good at getting interviews).

Sometimes their skill-set overlaps with what we need, sometimes it doesn't. But the focus is figuring out what they are good at, rather than an abstract test.

cmrdporcupine 2 days ago 1 reply      
That companies now insist on running the Google-style whiteboard-algorithms-coding-skill-testing-question type of interview tells me that there is no shortage of programmers to hire.

Because as far as I understand it we use that process at Google because we can afford a lot of false negatives because we are inundated with a lot of resumes.

Smaller companies and startups surely are not, and finding candidates must be harder. Unless the job market is saturated with candidates.

Many perfectly good, maybe even excellent, candidates will just falter and fail in a whiteboard coding interview. I do, and many people I've interviewed have. Coding on the spot using pen and paper sucks. I think by coding. Give me Emacs and a REPL, and let me go away and think for a bit, and I'll produce something way better.

Smaller companies should think twice before trying to emulate Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. In a small company social cohesion is very important, so rapport and personality are very important, cultural factors are important, experience in dealing with similar types of environments, familiarity with technical stack.

That's how I used to interview before coming to Google, anyways. It seems like the industry has turned in very large part to this hostile "prove yourself" methodology...

whack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Every time I read one of these articles, the author invariably ends up recommending solutions that have glaring holes, just as large as the ones he spends the entire time attacking.

In this case, the author begins the entire essay by telling us that we shouldn't hire on the basis of what someone already knows. One of his first solutions later presented is the exact opposite of this: find out about their level of existing knowledge, regarding specific technologies and frameworks.

He then goes on to rile against "team fit," because of its potential for bias. But his entire solution basically comes down to behavioral interviews, which are notorious for how bias-prone they are.

His solution basically tells us that we shouldn't consider fancy degrees or companies. And yet, in the span of 30-60 minutes, we should be able to form accurate judgement on how much talent and drive someone has, and what they will be able to do in the next 3 years? Sorry, but unless you're the Steve Jobs of character reading, there's no way you can do the above accurately. Everyone lies on interviews. They pad their accomplishments, and inflate what they have previously done. The only thing you achieve through such a discussion, is figuring out how good a talker someone is.

The following article sums up everything that is wrong with almost every "Hiring is Broken" critique ever. Every single approach people have ever thought up, is broken in so many ways, as ably demonstrated by many others. Unless someone has hard data to show why one technique's pros outweigh its cons, such discussions are almost always pointless.


pklausler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Over the years and across 100's of technical interviews, I've found that I get the best results from asking smaller numbers of easier problem-solving-with-code questions that require the candidate to demonstrate basic skills. I'm the guy who makes sure that the candidate can clearly get over a low bar.

I do this because the candidate pool is swimming with people with great-looking degrees and long resumes and fine references who can talk all day long about computer programming but who simply cannot program a digital computer.

So I ask a 5-minute easy warm-up question and then a 40-minute harder problem. I pace things slowly and give them all the time that they need. I happily answer any questions they may have about the problems, which can all be stated clearly in short sentences. I do not care what programming language they use or whether their syntax would compile or how descriptive their variable names are.

Essentially, I'm trying to not generate a "false negative" result. If you can't do my easy stuff, I really don't want to work with you. If you're a great candidate, you'll have fun with this and take it away in interesting directions.

(Sample easy question: Given two closed intervals [a,b] and [c,d], determine whether they overlap.)

soham 2 days ago 0 replies      
[Disclaimer: I run http://Interviewkickstart.com, which helps candidates suck less at technical interviewing.]

I have conducted countless technical interviews in my lifetime. I agree with the author; it's very difficult to actually become a good interviewer. The skill to judge someone's life and career of several years in 30 to 60 minutes is not something that comes easily. Alas, it's all too assumed to be easy.

When you start, for quite some interviews, you are very likely on either extreme viz. either too strict or too lenient. It takes a while to calibrate your standard, and not give in to an extreme. And that too, only if you introspect, or when someone draws your attention to your interview results.

Many companies don't have a culture which values interviewing as a skill. Rarely if so, I come across a company which has a process of shadowing and reverse-shadowing in an interview, which they take seriously. It is viewed as a cost center, when it's actually a profit-center when done right. And due to my business, I have come across plenty of them. At least in the valley.

WaxProlix 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh man, I thought they were on to me, but no, it's for the givers of technical interviews. Phew.
up_and_up 2 days ago 2 replies      
My optimal hiring process:

1. Screen resumes...throw out anything that seems bogus, hype-y etc. Time investment: 1-3 mins per resume.

2. Phone screen...ask them simple technical and project questions directly from their resume. They wrote it so they should know it. Generally, bullshitters are exposed right away. Time investment: 20-30 mins

3. Take home project. A somewhat simple but non-trivial project like: Write an autocomplete search script using a large text document as your dictionary. This will test their understanding of algos and software engineering best practices. Time investment: 10 mins to review the code

4. They talk with 3-4 other engineers. Those engineers now have a simple project to compare candidates and to question the candidate with. "Why did you choose this algo?", "How did you break down this problem?". Each engineer can ask whatever they want. Time investment: 30 mins.

5. Final engineering huddle. Compare candidates, pros and cons. Gut feelings. Etc. Time investment: 30 mins.

The small take home project is extremely revealing and more useful IMO. You get to see their actual ability at coding a small feature. Is it well-composed? Did they include tests? Do I want to maintain his/her code?

The project also spares the rest of the team from wasting time interviewing non-serious candidates.

l1feh4ck 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Don't hire for a fancy degree.

There are some companied coming to my college for hiring. The first criteria they put was 70% aggregate marks (60% for some companies).

I have seen people who doesnt know how to write even a small program getting hired, while people with good programming skills are not even eligible to attend the interview.

Going through 200-300 candidates in an interview might be a tedious job, I am not sure. What other choice do they have?

cloudjacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
lol I had to do the fizzbuzz test a few weeks ago

the modulo operator was obvious to me and after the interviewer kept adding conditions to the problem, they then asked me why I didn't concatenate strings instead of my approach of returning the string in each conditional statement

so fellow engineers, without having the telepathic skills I possessed that allowed me to know exactly what traits the interviewers were looking for, would you have:

a) erased your entire correct solution to write a more efficient solution, not knowing the time constraints for this problem

b) created the most efficient and scalable fizzbuzz solution known to man at the beginning? in the 15 minutes provided

c) laughed in the interviewer's faces since it was obvious the question was irrelevant to how you would solve problems for the company on a day to day basis?

d) other

DeBraid 2 days ago 0 replies      
The whole hiring process is a nightmare for both parties.

Two things I've learned about hiring / interviews: it's both very difficult and imprecise.

Process is more like dating than laboratory science; a race to establish rapport (a combination of comfort and trust). To get hired you must sufficiently possess an arbitrary blend of credentials and testing/interview performance.

Whatever it takes to make the hiring manager comfortable and trusting. Some want 10x-ers only, are soothed by strong technical chops/coding test performance, others select for culture and ability to learn. YMMV as selection criteria based on job description, sector, company stage, weather/etc.

This is why personal referrals are so powerful: trust is established MUCH faster, other flaws will be overlooked.

lambdabit 2 days ago 2 replies      
The problem with his interviews is that it's even more easily gamed. It doesn't really take a genius to go through their employment history and memorize blurbs that show learning technologies, applying it successfully while being humble and nice for one day.
ChemicalWarfare 2 days ago 0 replies      
My fav way of interviewing and being interviewed is a quick assignment (nothing major like some companies want you to build an api, crud UI to drive it and then push it out to heroku for them to look at) - either at home or just leave the candidate alone in the conf room for an hour.

After that if they pass - few questions about their code, maybe drill down into some areas depending on the answers etc.

Alternatively, if someone has a project on their github profile using the tech you're looking for - few questions about that project can typically give you a go/no-go right away.

seanwilson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some people are just bad at giving interviews. If someone is so bad at interviewing they will eliminate a candidate because they slipped up a little with a programming teaser, they're still going to be bad at interviewing if they try another technique.

I'm completely happy doing programming puzzles in interviews myself as I've worked with people that claim to be experts in something when they aren't and some people exaggerate to the point of lying on CVs. As long as you don't penalise a candidate too much for not getting perfect answers I don't see the issue.

tn13 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the problem is not whether you can design a 100% awesome tech interview process that will have high precision and recall. That is known. Spend enough time with the person basically to judge him rather than asking few questions to taking him to whiteboard.

But then most companies wont be able to show profits if the start spending that much resources on each candidate. Hence they optimize their processes only for precision and not for recall. That explains why a lot of people fail first few times.

liquidise 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had actually written a post a few months back[1] that bares a remarkable similarity to this one. It's encouraging to see others have, and are, coming to similar conclusions. Remember that each person who learns these methods now improves a round of interviews in the future.

1: https://blog.benroux.me/4-steps-to-making-your-interview-suc...

skay_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of people are saying that technical interviews are not good because some people are not good at them but they are indeed good software developers.

Other people are saying that is impossible to judge someone in a few hours of technical interviews/exercises.

I agree with both, but what's a better alternative? How to you minimise the risk of taking hiring a bad developer? At least, it is my belief that the technical interviews minimise the risk which is far better that ending up hiring someone who is not technically strong.

mknocker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too often, the team fit is put aside and you end up with people who does not play well with others in your team. Technical interview can be ok but I would not put too much details into it. I have been in technical interviews where people were asking questions about obscure API calls and they were expecting applicants to come up with questions that were not relevant to the job.
freek4iphone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I totally agree with most of the points Laurie made, specially I hate the new trend of asking people for an online coding test before even talking to a person. I have worked on a ton of complex problems in life and in real world you never have to write 4 complex tree traversal algorithms using the best possible approach in under 60 minutes, never!
bbcbasic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want this guy to interview me. Even if there is no job. I'm sure I'd feel a million dollars by going through the process.
probinso 1 day ago 0 replies      
so I seem to be alone in this.

although whiteboarding is not representative of Industry workflow, I feel that it can be used as a metric for communication. everybody knows that it's coming, and everybody knows how to practice it. if you perform poorly on whiteboarding that means you didn't practice it. it's a learned skill it's not a natural thing.

anybody I've met who complains about having trouble in whiteboarding has also never seriously practiced it.

crikli 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone in a similar HN thread once recommended the book "Hiring With Your Head" and then sorta did a mic drop.

I must do the same. Buy the book and implement it. It directly deals with so many issues mentioned here (great dev but crap at silly tests, great dev but a bad interviewer, etc).

DrNuke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apart of job-related questions and general-thinking problems, tech interviews are still mostly a poor Tinder experience.
Mathematicians are chronically lost and confused (2014) j2kun.svbtle.com
247 points by Halienja  2 days ago   141 comments top 18
laingc 2 days ago 8 replies      
To me, this is about "mathematical maturity".

My observation is that many programmers, especially those who have come of age by working in startups, tend to value ability and sometimes experience over formal education. This is a result, I believe, of noticing that they can outperform many people who have a classical education, and also seeing that many of the people to whom they look up also do not have much in the way of formal education.

However, I truly believe that Mathematics is a discipline that is very hard to engage with outside of formal education - or at least nobody has really found a great model for doing so yet.

Learning Mathematics in a classical, structured way really does change the way you think. I notice a substantial difference even between those of my colleagues who entered industry straight after their Masters or even Bachelors, and those who completed Doctorates or even held postdoctoral positions.

In my opinion, it is this lack of mathematical maturity that makes the switch from general programming to scientific programming more challenging than the converse.

vecter 2 days ago 11 replies      
I have a great personal story that highlights how long the journey of understanding mathematics is.

I took linear algebra my freshman year of college. It was the non-math major course, so it didn't require proofs. I got an A+ in the class. Not just an A, an A+. I was able to obtain such a high grade by taking tons of practice tests, and since the actual tests were basically mildly veiled calculations, I just had to map the question to the right calculation. So for instance, if after a little interpretation, I figured out that the question was asking for me to calculate the singular value decomposition of a given matrix, I would mindlessly compute, check my algebra, and move on.

However, it was very clear to me by the end of the course that I didn't really understand what the heck linear algebra was about.

Five years later, I started a job as an algorithmic trader. One of the first things my boss wanted to do was to do a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of bond price movements. This is a very common thing to do. I didn't know what PCA was, but I read a short paper he gave me and I was able to grok it. After reading that paper and actually performing the PCA (which by the way was basically one line of R code), I finally came to understand the core essence of linear algebra, which is the idea of linear transformations. I was able to connect the equation Ax=lambdax to the geometry of what an eigenvector meant. Through a little more reasoning, I realized that every real matrix corresponded to a linear transformation of that space via a rotation, a reflection, a stretching, a shearing, etc. At that point, all of the mindless calculations I had been doing half a decade earlier instantly clicked, and I was enlightened.

This was literally half a decade later after I "aced" my linear algebra class. I know that it seems absolutely ridiculous that I could "score so well" in a math class yet so clearly miss the core idea behind the entire class, but that's been my experience with math for as long as I can remember. You start by doing the calculations and just getting comfortable with them. Some arbitrary time later, you have an insight and suddenly everything is so crystal clear and trivial that you wonder how you could even not have understood it before.

Oh, and even to this day, I don't understand what singular values actually are. Something to do with a mapping from the row space to the column space, blah blah. I'm sure if I spent an hour to read about them and picture the geometry, I could figure it out, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it.

j2kun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Author here.

I can't help but plug my mailing list for a book I'm writing, called "A Programmer's Introduction to Mathematics." Cheers, and thanks for reading!


jonstokes 2 days ago 1 reply      
A mathematician was walking home from campus one day, and as he walked he was pondering a particularly thorny problem. At one point, he snapped out of his reverie and looked around and realized that he had no idea where he was. He saw a young boy playing with a ball in a yard, and figured maybe the boy could tell him the way home. So he says to the boy, "young man, do you know where Prof. So-and-so lives?"

The boy looked at him and said, "Dad, what's wrong with you?"

te_platt 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the book "The Perfect Wrong Note". The book is focused on learning to play music but the principles it teaches apply to learning just about anything. The core message to not be afraid of mistakes during practice. Little kids fall over when they learn to walk, you'll have moments of confusion learning new things. There's a time to get things done well, like playing at a recital or releasing production code. There also needs to be time to practice and part of practicing is the expectation that there will be mistakes.
jondubois 2 days ago 2 replies      
My favourite quote about Mathematics is from John von Neumann: "In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." - This quote highlights precisely why I ended up choosing software engineering over maths.

I'm just not very good at applying processes/methodologies which I don't fully understand.

For example, I wasn't very good with linear algebra until I was able to visualize the equations in my head. For example, now, when I think about the equation 'f(x) = ax^2 + bx + c' - I can see that this represents the set of all possible quadratic equations and I can roughly visualize what that looks like on a cartesian plane (well it would turn the whole plane black because there would be an infinite number of graphs). Then if I choose any three points on that crowded cartesian plane, I can visualize that among this infinite set of curves, one of them passes through all three points. Thinking about it in that way allows me to make sense of Gauss-Jordan Reduction and other mathematical processes related to linear algebra.

Programming is much easier for me because I can visualize the results instantly on a computer - I don't need someone else to explain it to me. Any uncertainty can be quickly resolved by simply running some code.

friendly_chap 2 days ago 2 replies      
I feel the same way when solving tasks in my day job. The thing I tell to young people learning programming/tech that I hope they don't get frustrated easily, because they will spend every day of their life feeling rather stupid and confused, never knowing when will they discover a solution for a particular problem.

This is something that was a great source of stress early in my career.

kinai 2 days ago 10 replies      
Does anybody know a good guide on where to begin? Resources are not the issue here, but usually the overwhelming amount of information regarding all those topics and areas of mathematics. I was always very interested but got discouraged rather quickly, even after a semester at university. So far my favorite access to math was through philosophy.
reachtarunhere 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an undergrad who recently became serious about math (thanks to its importance in areas I am interested in) this is very inspiring. I have been trying to grok mathematics for some time and sometimes being too frustrated with problems I can't handle. I have experienced the phenomena of giving up on something and coming back to it and finding it trivial. This is exactly what I needed.
riazrizvi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful article. Love the advice at the end!:

"Whats much more useful is recording what the deep insights are, and storing them for recollection later. Because every important mathematical idea has a deep insight, and these insights are your best friends. Theyre your mathematical nose, and theyll help guide you through the mansion."

auvrw 2 days ago 0 replies      
pjlegato 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch, you turn it on, and suddenly its all illuminated. You can see exactly where you were. Then you move into the next room and spend another six months in the dark...

What are you supposed to do if you like math and the idea of grokking it, but you also have a job and a family and can't afford to spend six months contemplating each room in the mansion?

l3robot 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a great blog post! Totally agree with him. And, personnaly, it is why i'm having so much fun doing maths. Everytime it's a new exploration, a new challenge. My best math teacher I had was seeing math with this philosophy in mind and his class was like discovering new lands every time. I'm sure that if we explained in a way that failing a math problem is as normal and challenging that failing a Mario Bros Level, more people would be in peace with it.
Koshkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the ways to acquire a taste for mathematics is to try solving elementary but challenging problems, such as those included in MathCamp's qualifying quizzes: http://www.mathcamp.org/prospectiveapplicants/quiz/pastquizz....
pm24601 2 days ago 0 replies      
All they have to do is read this article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11874395
MikeNomad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the year the article was written (2014) be included in the title?
justifier 2 days ago 0 replies      
any discipline where you are attempting to answer yet to be answered questions leaves you in a state of chronic confusion and lacking direction

math the same

gauruvbose 2 days ago 0 replies      
"mathematicians dont work like this"? Sure they do. Reading textbooks is normal. As a mathematician, this post is foreign.
       cached 13 June 2016 02:11:01 GMT