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Alan Kay has agreed to do an AMA today
1374 points by alankay1  2 days ago   842 comments top 211
dang 19 hours ago 3 replies      
This is one of the best threads HN has ever seen and we couldn't be more thrilled to have had such an interesting and wide-ranging discussion. I know I'm not the only one who will be going back over the wealth of insights, ideas, and pointers here in the weeks to come.

Alan, a huge and heartfelt thanks from all of us. The quality and quantity (nearly 250 posts!) of what you shared with the community surpassed all expectations from the outset and just kept going. What an amazing gift! Thank you for giving us such a rich opportunity to learn.

(All are welcome to continue the discussion as appropriate but the AMA part is officially done now.)

guelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
When you were envisioning today's computers in the 70s you seemed to have been focused mostly on the educational benefits but it turns out that these devices are even better for entertainment to the point were they are dangerously addictive and steal time away from education. Do you have any thoughts on interfaces that guide the brain away from its worst impulses and towards more productive uses?
di 2 days ago 5 replies      
Hi Alan,

In "The Power of the Context" (2004) you wrote:

 ...In programming there is a wide-spread 1st order theory that one shouldnt build ones own tools, languages, and especially operating systems. This is truean incredible amount of time and energy has gone down these ratholes. On the 2nd hand, if you can build your own tools, languages and operating systems, then you absolutely should because the leverage that can be obtained (and often the time not wasted in trying to fix other peoples not quite right tools) can be incredible.
I love this quote because it justifies a DIY attitude of experimentation and reverse engineering, etc., that generally I think we could use more of.

However, more often than not, I find the sentiment paralyzing. There's so much that one could probably learn to build themselves, but as things become more and more complex, one has to be able to make a rational tradeoff between spending the time and energy in the rathole, or not. I can't spend all day rebuilding everything I can simply because I can.

My question is: how does one decide when to DIY, and when to use what's already been built?

satysin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Alan,

I have three questions -

1. If you were to design a new programming paradigm today using what we have learnt about OOP what would it be?

2. With VR and AR (Hololens) becoming a reality (heh) how do you see user interfaces changing to work better with these systems? What new things need to be invented or rethought?

3. I also worked at Xerox for a number of years although not at PARC. I was always frustrated by their attitude to new ideas and lack of interest in new technologies until everyone else was doing it. Obviously businesses change over time and it has been a long time since Xerox were a technology leader. If you could pick your best and worst memories from Xerox what would they be?

Cheers for your time and all your amazing work over the years :)

ianbicking 2 days ago 1 reply      
1. After Engelbart's group disbanded it seemed like he ended up in the wilderness for a long time, and focused his attention on management. I'll project onto him and would guess that he felt more constrained by his social or economic context than he was by technology, that he envisioned possibilities that were unattainable for reasons that weren't technical. I'm curious if you do or have felt the same way, and if have any intuitions about how to approach those problems.

2. What are your opinions on Worse Is Better (https://www.dreamsongs.com/RiseOfWorseIsBetter.html)? It seems to me like you pursue the diamond-like jewel, but maybe that's not how you see it. (Just noticed you answered this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11940276)

3. I've found the Situated Learning perspective interesting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situated_learning). At least I think about it when I feel grumpy about all the young kids and Node.js, and I genuinely like that they are excited about what they are doing, but it seems like they are on a mission to rediscover EVERYTHING, one technology and one long discussion at a time. But they are a community of learning, and maybe everyone (or every community) does have to do that if they are to apply creativity and take ownership over the next step. Is there a better way?

sebastianconcpt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

1. what do you think about the hardware we are using as foundation of computing today? I remember you mentioning about how cool was the architecture of the Burroughs B5000 [1] being prepared to run on the metal the higher level programming languages. What do hardware vendors should do to make hardware that is more friendly to higher level programming? Would that help us to be less depending on VM's while still enjoying silicon kind of performance?

2. What software technologies do you feel we're missing?

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

losvedir 2 days ago 7 replies      
At my office a lot of the non-programmers (marketers, finance people, customer support, etc) write a fair bit of SQL. I've often wondered what it is about SQL that allows them to get over their fear of programming, since they would never drop into ruby or a "real" programming language. Things I've considered:

 * Graphical programming environment (they run the queries from pgadmin, or Postico, or some app like that) * Instant feedback - run the query get useful results * Compilation step with some type safety - will complain if their query is malformed * Are tables a "natural" way to think about data for humans? * Job relevance
Any ideas? Can we learn from that example to make real programming environments that are more "cross functional" in that more people in a company are willing to use them?

IsaacL 2 days ago 3 replies      
What do you think of Bret Victor's work? (http://worrydream.com/) Or Rich Hickey?

Who do you think are the people doing the most interesting work in user interface design today?

LeicesterCity 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Alan,

Previously you've mentioned the "Oxbridge approach" to reading, whereby--if my recollection is correct--you take four topics and delve into them as much as possible. Could you elaborate on this approach (I've searched the internet, couldn't find anything)? And do you think this structured approach has more benefits than, say, a non-structured approach of reading whatever of interest?

Thanks for your time and generosity, Alan!

edwintorok 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi, I have a few questions about your STEPS project:

- Is there a project that is the continuation of the STEPS project?

- What is your opinion of the Elm language?

- How do you envision all the good research from the STEPS model could be used for building practical systems?

- STEPS focused on personal computing, do you have a vision on how something similar could be done for server-side programming?

- Where can I find all the source code for the Frank system and the DSLs described in the STEPS report?

coldtea 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

On the "worse is better" divide I've always considered you as someone standing near the "better" (MIT) approach, but with an understanding of the pragmatics inherent in the "worse is better" (New Jersey) approach too.

What is your actual position on the "worse is better" dichotomy?

Do you believe it is real, and if so, can there be a third alternative that combines elements from both sides?

And if not, are we always doomed (due to market forces, programming as "popular culture" etc) to have sub-par tools from what can be theoretically achieved?

alankay1 2 days ago 4 replies      
-- I was surprised that the HN list page didn't automatically refresh in my browser (seems as though it should be live and not have to be prompted ...)
fogus 2 days ago 2 replies      
I can think of no better person to ask than Alan Kay:

What are the best books relevant to programming that have nothing to do with programming? (e.g. How Buildings Learn, Living Systems, etc.)?

testmonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jaron Lanier mentioned you as part of the, "humanistic thread within computing." I understood him to mean folks who have a much broader appreciation of human experience than the average technologist.

Who are "humanistic technologists" you admire? Critics, artists, experimenters, even trolls... Which especially creative technologists inspire you?

I imagine people like Jonathan Harris, Ze Frank, Jaron Lanier, Ben Huh, danah boyd, Sherry Turkle, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Rushkoff, etc....

jarmitage 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

What advice would you give to those who don't have a HARC to call their own? what would you do to get set up/a community/funding for your adventure if you were starting out today? What advice do you have for those who are currently in an industrial/academic institution who seek the true intellectual freedom you have found? Is it just luck?!

germinalphrase 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

As a high school teacher, I often find that discussions of technology in education diminish 'education' to curricular and assessment documentation and planning; however, these artifacts are only a small element of what is, fundamentally, a social process of discussion and progressive knowledge building.

If the real work and progress with my students comes from our intellectual both-and-forth (rather than static documentation of pre-exhibiting knowledge), are there tools I can look to that have been/will be created to empower and enrich this kind of in situ interaction?

nostrademons 2 days ago 1 reply      
What turning points in the history of computing (products that won in the marketplace, inventions that were ignored, technical decisions where the individual/company/committee could've explored a different alternative, etc.) do you wish had gone another way?
16bytes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I'm preparing a presentation on how to build a mental model of computing by learning different computer languages. It would be great to include some of your feedback.

* What programming language maps most closely to the way that you think?

* What concept would you reify into a popular language such that it would more closely fit that mapping?

* What one existing reified language feature do you find impacts the way you write code the most, especially even in languages where it is not available?

fchopin 2 days ago 3 replies      
Hi, Alan!

Like many here, I'm a big fan of what you've accomplished in life, and we all owe you a great debt for the great designs and features of technologies we use everyday!

The majority of us have not accomplished as much in technology, and many of us, though a minority, are in the top end of the age bell curve. I'm in that top end.

I've found over the years that I've gone from being frustrated with the churn of software/web development, to completely apathetic about it, to wanting something else- something more meaningful, and then to somewhat of an acceptance that I'm lucky just to be employed and making what I do as an older developer.

I find it very difficult to have the time and energy to focus on new technologies that come out all of the time, and less and less able as my brain perhaps is less plastic to really get into the latest JavaScript framework, etc.

I don't get excited anymore, don't have the motivation, ability, or time to keep up with things like the younger folk. Also, I've even gotten tired of mentoring them, especially as I become less able and therefore less respected.

Have you ever had or known someone that had similar feelings of futility or a serious slowdown in their career? If so, what worked/what didn't and what advice could you provide?

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to everyone you have here. It definitely is much appreciated!

CharlesMerriam2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Many mainstream programming tools feel to be moving backwards. For example, Saber-C of the 1980s allowed hot-editing without restarting processes and graphical data structures. Similarly, the ability to experiment with collections of code before assembling them into a function was advance.

Do you hold much hope for our development environments helping us think?

trsohmers 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

We met at a retreat last fall, and it was a real treat for me to hear some fantastic stories/anecdotes about the last 50 years of computing (which I have only been directly involved with for about 1/10th of). Another one of my computing heroes is Seymour Cray, which we talked about a bit and your time at Chippewa Falls. While a lot of HN'ers know about you talking about the Burroughs B5000, I (and I bet most others) would have had no idea that you got to work with Seymour on the CDC 6600. DO you have any particular Seymour Cray/6600 stories that you think would be of interest to the crowd?

Thanks again for doing this, and I hope to be able to talk again soon!

kartD 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, What do think about the current state of language design (Swift, Rust, Go)? Anything that makes you happy/annoys you?
discreteevent 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

A lot of the VPRI work involved inventing new languages (DSLs). The results were extremely impressive but there were some extremely impressive people inventing the languages. Do you think this is a practical approach for everyday programmers? You have also recommended before that there should be clear separation between meta model and model. Should there be something similar to discipline a codebase where people are inventing their own languages? Or should just e.g. OS writers invent the languages and everyone else use a lingua franca?

logicallee 2 days ago 2 replies      
1. What do you wish someone would ask you so that you could finally share your thoughts, but nobody has broached as a subject?

2. (This question is about interactive coding, as a dialogue).

Human dialogs (conversations) are interactive. I think in the past computers were limited, and computer languages had to be very small (as compared with any human language + culture) so that a programmer could learn what the computer could do. But now that services can be connected (programming as a service?), would it make sense to have a dialogue? My example is that in the 1980s it wouldn't have made sense for any programming language to have a function called double() that just multiplies by 2. There's * 2 for that.

But in 2016, it makes sense for a beginner to write "and double it" and considerably less sense for a beginner to have to learn x *= 2 if they wanted to double a number.

Human language is also ambiguous. It would make sense for an interactive language to ask:

"Did you mean, set x equal to x multiplied by 2?" which most people would select, but maybe someone would select

"Did you mean, set x equal to the string "x" appended to the string "x"?"

For these reasons: do you think it would make sense to have an interactive programming language that is connected with a server you "talk" with interactively?

Or should programmers still have to learn a fixed programming language that has no room for interpretation, but instead a strict meaning.

Among other things, this means programmers can never write "it", "that", "which" to refer to a previous thing (since the referent could be ambiguous if the compiler doesn't confirm.) But every human language includes such shorthand.

I'd love to hear your thoughts regarding a connected, interactive programming process similar to the above (or just on whatever lines).

nnq 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, the question that troubles me now and I want to ask you is:

Why do you think there is always a difference between:

A. the people who know best how something should be done, and

B. the people who end up doing it in a practical and economically-successful or popular way?

And should we educate our children or develop our businesses in ways that could encourage both practicality and invention? (do you think it's possible?). Or would the two tendencies cancel each other out and you'll end up with mediocre children and underperforming businesses, so the right thing to do is to pick one side and develop it at the expense of the other?

(The "two camps" are clearly obvious in the space of programming language design and UI design (imho it's the same thing: programming languages are just "UIs between programmers and machines"), as you well know and said, with one group of people (you among them) having the right ideas of what OOP and UIs should be like, and one people inventing the technologies with success in industry like C++ and Java. But the pattern is happening at all levels, even business: the people with the best business ideas are almost never the ones who end up doing things and so things get done in a "partially wrong" way most of the time, although we have the information to "do it right".)

erring 2 days ago 1 reply      
In a recent talk, Ivan Sutherland spoke in the lines of, Imagine that the hardware we used today had time as a first-class concept. What would computing be like? [1]

To expand on Sutherland's point: Today's hardware does not concern itself with reflecting the realities of programming. The Commodore Amiga, which had a blitter chip that enabled high-speed bitmap writes with straightforward software implementation, brought about a whole new level in game programming. Lisp machines, running Lisp in silicon, famously enabled an incredibly powerful production environment. Evidence is mounting that the fundamental concepts we need for a new computing have to be ingrained in silicon, and programmers, saved from the useless toil of reimplementing the essentials, should be comfortable working in the (much higher and simpler) hardware level. Today, instead of striving for better infrastructure of this sort, we are toiling away at building bits of the perpetually rotting superstructure in slightly better ways.

The more radical voices in computer architecture and language design keep asserting in their various ways that a paradigm shift in how we do infrastructure will have to involve starting over with computing as we know it. Do you agree? Is it impossible to have time as a first-class concept in computing with anything short of a whole new system of computing, complete with a fundamentally new hardware design, programming environment and supporting pedagogy? Or can we get there by piling up better abstractions on top of the von Neumann baggage?

[1] This is from memory. Apologies for a possible misquotation, and corrections most welcome.

textmode 1 hour ago 0 replies      
alankay1 says UI's have declined in usefulness. But aren't there hordes of UI programmers today, getting paid handsomely for their "work"? How to explain this?
wdanilo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Alan!I've got some assumptions regarding the upcoming big paradigm shift (and I believe it will happen sooner than later):

1. focus on data processing rather than imperative way of thinking (esp. functional programming)

2. abstraction over parallelism and distributed systems

3. interactive collaboration between developers

4. development accessible to a much broader audience, especially to domain experts, without sacrificing power users

In fact the startup I'm working in aims exactly in this direction. We have created a purely functional visual<->textual language Luna ( http://www.luna-lang.org ).

By visual<->textual I mean that you can always switch between code, graph and vice versa.

What do you think about these assumptions?

emaringolo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you still see an advantage of using Smalltalk (like Squeak/Pharo) as a general purpose language/tool to build software or do you think that most of its original ideas were somehow "taken" by other alternatives?
asymmetric 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you agree with the POV that sees Erlang as implementing some of the core tenets of OOP, namely message passing and encapsulation of state? (Cfr. for example http://tech.noredink.com/post/142689001488/the-most-object-o...)
tlack 2 days ago 1 reply      
Have you spent any time studying machine learning and how it might affect the fundamental ways we program computers? Any thoughts on how the tooling of machine learning (TensorFlow, ad hoc processes, etc) could be improved?
ducklord 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hey Alan, you once said that lisp is the greatest single programming language ever designed. Recently, with all the emergence of statically typed languages like Haskell and Scala, has that changed? Why do you think after being around for so long, lisp isn't as popular as mainstream languages like Java, C or Python? And lastly, what are your thoughts on MIT's switch to use Python instead of Scheme to teach their undergraduate CS program?
ontouchstart 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

We know you are not a big fan of web. Regardless how we got here, what is your view on how we should address the real world decentralization problems in the context of http://www.decentralizedweb.net/ ?

_mhr_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is HARC currently working on? Is it for now a continuation of the old CDG Labs / VPRI projects or are there already new projects planned / underway?

Also, how do you organize and record your ideas? Pen and paper? Some kind of software? What system do you use? I ask because I'm fascinated by the idea of software that aids in thought, collaboration, and programming - meshing them all together.

I've seen elsewhere (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11940007) that you agreed that many mainstream "paradigms" should be "retired". Retiring implies that you replace. In particular, I'm curious what you would like to see filesystems or the Unix terminal replaced with?

adamnemecek 2 days ago 0 replies      
What are some opinions (CS related or not) that you completely changed your mind on?
panic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

There's a lot of economic pressure against building new systems. Making new hardware and software takes longer than building on the existing stuff. As time goes on, it gets harder and harder to match the features of the existing systems (imagine the effort involved in reimplementing a web browser from scratch in a new system, for example), not to mention the massive cost benefits of manufacturing hardware at a large scale.

Many people working in software realize the systems they use are broken, but the economics discourage people from trying to fix them. Is it possible to fix the economics? Or maybe we need more people able to resist this pressure?

walterbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you see further research paths for metacompilers [1] to reduce code and enable customizable user interfaces?

With containers and hypervisors now in desktop OSes (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), could an open-source research OS (e.g. KSWorld) be packaged for developers and end-users who want to test your team's experimental UIs?

Is there long-term value in "private machine learning" where some data and algos are focused on user/owner interests, with "public machine learning" providing variably-trusted signals to user-owned algos for intelligence augmentation?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8297996

defvar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, do you still do coding (any kind of, for any purpose) these days? If you do, what's your comfortable setup (say, language, editor, tools and etc)?
iyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for doing this AMA.

Q: How do you think we can improve todays world (not just with technology)? What do you think is our species way forward? How as a civilization can we 'get to higher level'? Specifically, I'm interested in your views on ending poverty, suffering, not destroying the Earth, improving our political and social systems, improving education etc. I understand that these are very broad topics without definitive answers but I'd love to hear some of your thought about these.

Thank you and I just want to mention that I appreciate your work.

torstenB 2 days ago 1 reply      
Beside objects one true revolutionary idea in Smalltalk is the uniformity of meta facilities - an object knowing about itself and being able to tell you.

I see so many dev resources burnt just because people build boring UIs or persistence bindings by wiring MANUALLY in traditional languages. All this is a no-brainer when enough meta infos (objects and relations) are available and a program is reflected as data as in Smalltalk (not dead text). You can not only transform data but also your code. Pharo now makes some more additonal steps to enhance reflection (metalinks, slots, etc).

What do you see as next steps in using metadata/-infos for (meta)programming ...

pizza 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, how do you think that object-oriented programming and distributed computing will intertwine in the not-so-far future?
siteshwar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

You have an interesting reading list at http://www.squeakland.org/resources/books/readingList.jsp. However it seems that it was created long time back. Are there any other books that you would like to add to this list ?

tmerr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I watched an OOPSLA talk where you described how tapes were used when you were in the air force. The tape readers were simple because they stupidly followed instructions on the tapes themselves to access the data. You seemed to like this arrangement better than what we have with web browsers and html, where the browser is assumed to know everything about the format. One way to interpret this is that we should have something more minimal like a bytecode format for the web, in place of html.

So I'm interested on your take: Is WebAssembly a step in the right direction for the web? (Although it's not meant as a replacement for html, maybe it will displace it over time).

snowwrestler 2 days ago 4 replies      
I recall reading an article about 10 years ago describing a PARC research project in which networked computers with antennae were placed throughout a set of rooms, and the subject carried a small transmitter with them from room to room. As the computer in each room detected the transmitter, it triggered actions in each room. I think it was called "ambient computing."

Does this ring a bell for you? I have searched for this article recently and not been able to find it again.

diiq 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a community, we often think on quite short time-scales ("What can we build right now, for users right now, to make money asap?"). I feel like you've always been good at stepping back, and taking a longer view.

So what should a designer or a developer be doing now, to make things better in 10 years, or 100 years?

psibi 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think about functional languages like Haskell, OCaml etc ?
kens 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at your 1972 Dynabook paper [1], would you make any changes to the Dynabook vision now? Also, what do you see as the biggest missing pieces (software or hardware) today? What current software gets closest to the vision?

[1] Everyone should really take a look at the Dynabook paper: http://history-computer.com/Library/Kay72.pdf

miguelrochefort 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you believe that the gap between consuming software and creating software will disappear at some point? That is, do you expect we will soon see some homoiconic software environment where the interface for using software is the same as the interface for creating it?

I feel like the current application paradigm cannot scale, and will only lead to further fragmentation. We all have 100+ different accounts, and 100+ different apps, none of which can interact with each other. Most people seem to think that AI will solve this, and make natural languages the main interface to AI, but I don't buy it. Speech seem so antiquated in comparison to what can be achieved through other senses (including sight and touch). How do you imagine humans will interact with future computer systems?

brogrammer6431 2 days ago 1 reply      
I remember a few weeks back, you said that you wanted to take a closer look at the Urbit project (www.urbit.org). Just wondering if you had gotten the chance to do so, and, if so, what your thoughts were.
unimpressive 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

One of the concepts I've heard you talk about before in interviews and the like is simulation. I think simulation is huge and we should be seeing products that cater towards it, but largely aren't.



Do you still think simulation is an important promise of the computer revolution, and are there any products you know of or ideas you have that are/would be a step in the right direction?

agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Sir Kay,

How do you feel about the role of computing technology in society today ? is it still important or should be work on other domains (education, medicine, ecology, and the industrial tissue that is our interface to reality nowadays).

While I'm at it, just did a MOOC about Pharo (~ex squeak) and ST was indeed a very interesting take on OO (if I may say so ;). So thanks for you and your teammates work along the years (from ST to STEPS).

qwertyuiop924 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hey Alan,

You seem very disapointed and upset with the way computing has gone in the last decade. Speaking as a younger (15) and more satisfied (I still think the UNIX abstraction is pretty solid, despite what others may say) programmer, how do you not get depressed about the way technology is going?

Also, what do you propose to eliminate the "re-inventing the flat tire" problem? Should every programmer be forced through a decade of learning all of the significant abstractions, ideas, and paradigms of the last 50 years before they write anything? Because I don't see another solution.

oooooppmba 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is your one piece of advice to college students studying CS?
s800 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any conventional paradigms that you'd like to see retired? FS, Unix, signalling/messaging, etc.?
dookahku 2 days ago 2 replies      
You invented a lot of what I'm using this very instant to compose this message.

I yearn to do great works of engineering and art, which I consider what you have done.

How do you come up with ideas?

Bystroushaak 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have two questions:

1. It is known that you read a lot. Do you plan to write a book? You have been a big inspiration for me and I would love to read a book from you.

2. What is your opinion about Self programming language (http://www.selflanguage.org)? I've read STEPS Toward The Reinvention of Programming pdf and this feels related, especially to with the Klein interpreter (http://kleinvm.sourceforge.net/).

throwathrowaway 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there any instructions for getting the Frank system (that you show off at talk) on a Linux computer? Even instructions with some missing steps to be filled in. It would beat recreating things from scratch from glimpses.

I find it much easier to explore with a concrete copies that can be queried with inputs and outputs, even if they are far from their platonic ideals. For example, the Ometa interpreter I wrote recently was much easier to make by bootstrapping the creation of an initial tree from the output of an existing implementations of Ometa.

spamfilter247 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan. What are your thoughts on how rapidly GUIs are evolving nowadays? Many apps/services revamp their UI fairly often and this oftentimes hurts muscle memory for people who have just about gotten a workflow routine figured out.

Also, what big UI changes do you foresee in the next 10 years - or would like to see. Thanks.

gnocchi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I'm part of a generation who didn't grew up with the PDP but had LOGO and basic available in computers and calculators.With the Amstrad CPC it was possible to interupt a program and to change a few lines of code to make it do something else which was a great way to keep interested. And with calculator it was possible to code formulas to resolve/check problems.

But how would you teach programming today to a kid?Would you choose a particular medium such as a computer, a raspberry pi or even a tablet?

And if I may, do you recommend any reading for bedtime stories?

Thanks you, Kevin

pascient 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

You mentioned Bob Barton's lecture a few times [1], emphasizing the role he played in debunking some of your (and his own) ideas about computing. Could you touch on some dogmas that haven't yet been evoked in this thread or in your videos on YouTube ? Either from the 70's or today. Let me link to Ted Nelson's remarks about the tradition of files/lumps [2] for a start.

Bullet-point may not be the ideal form for an answer but feel free to get away with that :)

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyIQKBzIuBY&t=7m39s

[2] https://youtu.be/c_KbLKm89pU?t=1m46s

fcc3 1 day ago 1 reply      
[Earlier](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11945254) you mention "good models of processes" and [elsewhere](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11940688) about model building. Which models have been the best for you? Have you read [Robin Milner](http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/archive/rm135/Bigraphs-draft.pdf)? Do you consider his work to be a good foundation for processes? If not, who do you consider to give a good foundation?
filleokus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you believe everyone should be thought, or exposed to, programming in school? I'm afraid that universal inclusion of programming in the curriculum would have an opposite effect and make the next generation despise programming, in the same way some people feel about math today.
auggierose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

what do you think about interactive theorem proving (ITP)? Assuming that you are aware of it, is it something that you have tried? If yes, how was your experience, and which system did you try? If no, why not? What do you think about ITP's role in the grander scheme of things?

pdog 2 days ago 1 reply      

Computers have been a part of education in the United States for several decades, but you've argued that technology isn't used to its full potential.

1. Why has technology in schools failed to make an impact?

2. How would you design a curriculum for your children that uses technology effectively today?

anildigital 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you think Java is an Object Oriented programming language?
vainguard 2 days ago 1 reply      
How important is finding the right language?
testmonkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think about a "digital Sabbath," [1] specifically in the context of touchstones like:

Engelbart's Augmenting Human Intellect [2]Edge's annual question, How is the Internet Changing the Way you Think? [3]Carr's Is Google Making Us Stupid? [4]...and other common criticisms of "information overload"

[1] http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/[2] http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/augment-3906.html[3] https://www.edge.org/annual-question/how-is-the-internet-cha...[4] http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-googl...

shkaboinka 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've seen similarities between your work (OOP) and that of Christopher Alexander (Patterns).

Do you have anything to say about how your/his works tie together?

(Note that Alexander's work is perhaps even more misrepresented in software than OOP has come to be).

For example, he talks a lot about how anything that is to evolve naturally, or even properly serve the human component, must be composed of living structure.

video of C.A. addressing the software community's (mis-)application of his work at OOPSLA:https://youtu.be/98LdFA-_zfA

stuque 2 days ago 1 reply      
What language do you think we should teach first to computing major students these days? What about non-major students?
0xdeadbeefbabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well what is thinking about then? What was the mistake the greeks made? In this video[0] you said thinking is not about logic and that was the mistake the greeks made.

[0] https://youtu.be/N9c7_8Gp7gI?t=45m45s

ldargin 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think of Chris Crawford's work on Interactive Storytelling? His latest iteration is "Siboot" http://siboot.org/

Note: He mentions being inspired for that from discussions with you at Atari.

paulsutter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Alan, what is your view of deep/machine learning as an approach to programming? The Deepmind Atari player is only 1500 lines of code, because the system learns most of the the if/thens. Software is eating the world, but will learning (eventually) eat the software?
juliangamble 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

My understanding was that you were there at the keynote where Steve Jobs launched the iPad. From what we've heard Steve came up to you after the event and asked you what you thought (implicitly acknowledging your work on the Dynabook).

Subsequent interviews suggested you thought that the iOS range of products "were the first computers good enough to criticise".

My question is: what has to happen next for the iPad to start achieving what you wanted to do with the Dynabook?

mempko 2 days ago 1 reply      

You have inspired me deeply, thank you. I love working with man's greatest invention, but I have a deep sense of dread. HN is very good about projecting a fantasy about the future, that technology can solve all problems. I would love to see a world where people use computers to compute. However, global warming is a real threat and my biggest fear is that our pop-culture will prevent us from solving our problems before the chance to solve them is taken away from us.

With such a huge threat to humanity on the horizon, do you maintain a sense of optimism here? Or will humanity forget how to "compute" the same way Europeans forgot how to make Roman concrete?

compute_me 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since you care about education so deeply, but also seem to be critical of a lot of recent technological developments that appear to be more accessible than some of the systems / approaches we had in the past:Do you think that it is a reasonable path to embrace technologies with shortcomings, and perhaps even to utilize a reduction in expressiveness of UIs, such as hiding the ability to multitask, or to employ the power of games to "draw us in [and keep us spellbound]" (where [this] part may be a danger), if this can form points of entry for young people who may otherwise not have found their way into technology (think smartphones in rural areas without reliable other means to guarantee access to information to large numbers of people; e.g. lack of mentors and role models), or would it be more promising to rather focus on developing alternative means for "on-boarding"?
jfaucett 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Do you think we'll ever have a programming language that isn't fully text based and gets closer to a direct mapping of our own thoughts than current systems? If so any ideas what properties this language would have?

kirkdouglas 2 days ago 0 replies      
What are you working on now?
diiq 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do you seek out the people you choose to work with, now or in the past? Is it an active process, or do you find interesting people naturally glom around a nucleus of interesting work?
testmonkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you were to design your own high school curriculum for gifted students, what would it look like?
kgr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

In your paper "A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages", where you introduce the concept of the DynaBook, you explicitly say that the paper should be read as a work of science fiction. I understand that you're a big fan of science fiction. Do you draw any inspiration from science fiction when inventing the future?



Related: I've given a talk on "What Computer Scientists can Learn From Science Fiction":


corysama 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are the first 3 books I should read on the topic of teaching tech to kids? Thanks!
dflock 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

You've said here a few times here that maybe "data" (in quotes), is a bad idea. Clearly data itself isn't a bad idea, it's just data. What do you mean by the quotes? That the way we think about data in programming is bad? In what context?

I've been thinking & reading about Data Flow programming & languages - datalog, lucid, deadalus/bloom etc... in the context of big data & distributed systems and the work that Chris Granger has been doing on Eve, the BOOM lab at Berkeley, etc... - and that seems like a lot of really good ideas.

What's your opinion on data flow/temporal logic - and how does that square with "maybe data is a bad idea"?



xt00 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, do you think privacy on the web should be guaranteed by design or malleable such that in special cases the government can look up your google searches and see if you follow terrorists on twitter? When I say guaranteed by design, I mean should people be creating a system to obfuscate, encrypt, and highly confuse the ability of people who wish to track/deduce what people are doing on the web?
lootsauce 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is your take on the future of our general relationship with technology in the light of the new optimistic view of AI with recent advances in machine learning? I can't help but think we are over-estimating the upside, and under-estimating the problems (social, economic, etc.) much like the massive centralization of the net has had downsides hi-lighted by Snowden and others.
lispython 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Alan, I'm an editor at Programmer Magazine in China[1], could you allow me to translate your answers into Chinese, and share with readers in China?

[1] http://programmer.com.cn/

mathattack 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan. A lot has been made of the visions that your colleagues and you had that ultimately became the fabric of our industry.

Did you have any ideas, predictions or visions which ultimately didn't play out? (And any ideas on why?)

Thank you very much to your contributions to our industry. Anyone blessed to be working in this field today owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. You have made a dent in the universe.

david927 2 days ago 1 reply      
You have stated before that the computer revolution hasn't happened yet. It seems we stopped trying in earnest back in the early 1980's. Why?

And what could be done to re-spark interest in moving forward?

My gut feeling says that it would require a complete overhaul in almost every layer in the stack we use today and that there's reluctance to do that. Would you agree to some degree with that?

username3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any site that lists all arguments from all sides and reach a conclusion? If they don't reach a conclusion, do they have an issue tracking system and leave the issue open for anyone to find easily and respond?

Debates should have a programming language, have CI for new arguments, have unit tests to check logic, have issues tracked and collaborated on GitHub.

melloclello 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, what do you think of the Unison project? [1]

On the surface it's a structured editor for a type safe language in which it's impossible to write an invalid program, but the author has some pretty lofty goals for it.

[1] http://unisonweb.org/2015-05-07/about.html

drzaiusapelord 2 days ago 0 replies      
How has your relationship with technology changed, especially in regard to its use politically and socially, as you've gotten older?
OoTheNigerian 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I have read a lot about you and your work at Xerox.

Do you enjoy travel? What continents have you been to? What's your favorite country outside the US?

How many hours a day did you sleep per day during your most productive research years? Cos i usually wonder how very productive people seem to achieve much more than others within the same 24 hours we all have.

Greetings form Lagos Nigeria.

arloc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Can you confirm that a message is a declarative information sent to a recipient which can (or can not) react to it?And what is your opinion about inheritance in OOP? Is it absolutely essential feature in an OOP language?

annasaru 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I am sometimes involved with mentoring younger people with STEM projects (arduino etc). Its all the buzz. But I heard one of my younger relatives lament about the tendency of young people to gravitate towards a quantitative field of study / training - is there too much hype?. "Learning to Code" is a general movement that is helping many youth to improve their career prospects. Do you think it's being effective in improving education on a meaningful scale.

What kind of educational initiatives would you like entrepreneurs (of all shades) come up with. Do these need to be intrinsically different in different parts of the world?

Finally, as a person who gets scared away from bureaucracy ("the school district") - what would you advise. School districts don't always make the best technology investments on precious dollars.

adamgravitis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I've heard you frequently compare the OOP paradigm to microbiology and molecules. It seems like even Smalltalk-like object interactions are very different from, say, protein-protein interactions.

How do you think this current paradigm of message-sending could be improved upon to enable more powerful, perhaps protein-like composition?

zyxzevn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,Since you may spend another day answering questions.. a got some more for you :-)

What do you think about the different paradigms in programming?

And what do you think about type theory, etc?

Bonus question:I am trying to develop a new general programming system for children. I was inspired by Smalltalk and ELM.

http://www.reddit.com/r/unseen_programmingIt is a graphical system that uses function blocks connected with flow-logic. So basically it is functional,but much simpler.The function-blocks form a system, very similar to classes/objects in Smalltalk. What do you think about such a system,or what tips do you have about designing a new language?

sandgraham 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hello Mr. Kay, Are you still going to be active with VRI or CDG now that HARC! has formed?


I once ran into you in Westwood and you invited me to check out the CDG lab. Unfortunately I missed you when I came by. I'm always tempted to try again, but I'd hate to interrupt the serious thinking of the fellows stationed up there.

stop1234 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Thank you for spending some of your time here and writing your thoughts.

I would like to ask you for some advice.

The idiom "Everything old is new again" is currently picking up steam, especially in the hardware and software scene.

Amazing stuff is happening but it is being drowned in the mass pursuit of profit for mediocrity in both product and experience.

What would you say to those who are creating wonderful (and mostly educational) machines but finding it difficult to continue due to constraints and demands of modern life?

Most don't have the privilege to work at a modern day Xerox PARC. Then again there is no modern day Xerox PARC.

Thanks for all the inspiration!

josephhurtado 2 days ago 1 reply      

What do you think will be the impact of Cognitive Computing, and AI on the way software will be built in the next 5 years.

Do you think AI may automate fully some jobs, or part of the jobs people do today in IT & Software Development?

If so what do you think is the best approach professionals should take?

Thanks in advance for the answer, and thanks for doing this AMA.


Dangeranger 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hello Alan,

Something that I find striking about you and your work is your cross discipline approach to hardware, software, and "humanware".

Can you speak about people and subjects which have inspired you from fields other than computer science and how they have changed you as a person and technologist.

pierre_d528 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you very much for all you have done and will do.

How can we apply to join the HARC and make the Dynabook a reality?

antoinevg 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Do you think we're yet at a position where we could catalog a set of "primitives" that are foundational to programming systems? (Where "systems" are fundamentally distributed and independent of software platform, programming language or hardware implementation)

hydandata 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

1. Do you think the area of HCI is stagnating today?

2. What are your thoughts on programming languages that encapsulate Machine Learning within language constructs and/or generally take the recent advancements in NLP and AI and integrate them as a way to augment the programmer?

wslh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, are you envisioning a way to participate/connect-to YC Research as an independent researcher? I don't mean as an associate since many of us have the daily focus in startups but as a place where our ideas and code would be better nurtured.
0xdeadbeefbabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I get the impression from the book Dealers of Lightning that Bob Taylor played an indispensable role in creating Xerox Parc. What are the Bob Taylors of today up to, and why aren't they doing something similar?

Edit: just noticed HARC and YC-Research. I'll check it out.

icarito 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hello Alan,In light of the poor results of the OLPC project, in reference to the Children's Machine, leaving aside commercial factors, do you think the Sugar user interface is appropriate for the task? If not, how can it be improved, what is good/bad about it?


dredmorbius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have any thoughts or favourite authors on the topic of technology and innovation, and the process of that specifically?

I've been particularly interested lately in the works of the late John Holland, W. Brian Arthur (of PARC & Stanford), J. Doyne Farmer, Kevin Kelley, David Krakauer, and others (many of these are affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute).

In particular, they speak to modularity, technology as an evolutionary process, and other concepts which strike me being solidly reflected in software development as well. Steve McConnell's Code Complete, for example, first really hammered home to me the concept of modularity in design.

IonoclastBrig 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have been designing and hacking my own languages (to varying degrees of completion) for almost as long as I have been programming. A lot of the time, their genesis is a thought like, "what if language X did Y?" or, "I've never seen a language that does this, this, and that... I wonder if that's because they're insane things to do?"

When you're working on a system, how do you approach the question, "Is this really useful, or am I spinning my wheels chasing a conceit?" Is the answer as simple as try it out and see what happens? Or do you have some sort of heuristic that your many years of experience has proven to be helpful?

lispython 2 days ago 0 replies      
Recalling those past days, is there any idea that not yet really played an important role, but to be forgotten?

Especially we are losing the initial generation of programmers.

nwmcsween 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan, a few questions:

1. Do you have any recommended books to read?

2. Why do you think current programming paradigms are bad?

3. What changes to current operating systems need to happen?

[2] My view is you want to pass terse but informative information to a compiler in order for optimizations to take effect and there are three roads programming languages take: abstract away by layering which burdens the programmer to unravel everything (C++), abstract away from the hardware so much that specifics are hidden (most high level languages) or something similar to C.

grincho 2 days ago 1 reply      
I admire the compactness and power of Smalltalk. What advice would you give language designers looking to keep the cognitive load of a new language low? What was your design process like, and would you do it that way again?
azeirah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan, this is a bit of a long shot, but I'd like to try anyway. I've been following CDG from early on, and am really interested in the exploratory research that's going on in there. I'm a 20 year old computer science student looking for an internship, would it at all be possible to pursue an internship at CDG? My primary selling point is that, given the right environment, I have a lot of motivation.

I understand this is not the right place to discuss these matters, but I know it's highly likely that this message will be read here, I am happy to take this topic elsewhere.

GregBuchholz 2 days ago 0 replies      
At the OOPSLA keynote speech in 1997, you mentioned that "The Art of the Metaobject Protocol" was one of the best books written in the past ten years. Any new candidates for "best" books?
mythz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you still code today? If so what's your preferred language, editor, OS?
dineshp2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan!

From your comments, it's clear that you are not happy with the state of programming languages as it stands.

You mentioned that the current languages lack safe meta-definition and also that the next generation of languages should make us think better.

Apart from the above, could you mention more properties or features of programming languages, at a high level of course, that you consider should be part of the next generation of languages?

jsprogrammer 2 days ago 1 reply      
You say the problem with Xerox is that they were only interested in billions (instead of trillions).

Should we currently be interested in quadrillions, upper trillions, or, perhaps, larger? Once we become interested in an appropriately large number, what preparations should we be taking so that we can operate at that level? Do we just start putting product out there and collect the value on the open markets, or, do we need to segment markets to maximize value? Can you tell us about any other mistakes you feel Xerox might have made in realizing the value of PARC?

rjurney 2 days ago 2 replies      
How satisfied are you with the tablets that finally satisfied your vision (did they?) of a personal computer? How much were you able to infer about how they would work? Any lessons from this?
bachback 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think of Bitcoin and use of computers for money and contracts?
mythz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

You've been a long-time proponent for creating educational software (e.g squeak etoys) helping teach kids how to program and have been fairly critical of the iPad in the past. What are your thoughts on Apple's new iPad Swift playground (http://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/) in teaching kids how to learn how to program in Swift?

Do you think UI aesthetics are important in software for kids?

amasad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

You've been involved in visual programming environments like GRAIL and Etoys for kids. What do you think of the current state of visual programming for both kids and adults?

gbenegas 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, I'm a CS student thinking about graduate school.

1. Would you suggest going into a popular field that excites me but already has lot of brilliant students? (for example AI and ML)

Or rather into a not-so-popular field where maybe I can be of more help? (for example computational biology)

2. If I had to choose between studying my current favorite field at an average research group, or another still interesting field with a top group, would you suggest going with the latter for the overall learning experience?

alehander42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is syntax important?

Do you imagine a future where there would be just several programming languages semantically using a lot more bidirectional "syntax skins"?

akeck 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's your most successful problem solving technique?
smd4 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan - the innovation from PARC appears to be the result of a unique confluence of hardware, software, market forces, recent government research investment, and Michelangelo-level talent for bringing big ideas to fruition.

Do you think that any factors that were significant back then are going to be difficult to reproduce now, as HARC gets started? Conversely are there novel aspects of today's environment that you wished for at PARC?

state_less 2 days ago 1 reply      
When will we get better at saying what we mean? I don't think this just important when speaking with computers, but also human-to-human interaction.

What is the best interface for computer programming? I have settled on the keyboard with an emacs interpreter for now, but I'm curious if you believe voice, gestures, mouse or touch are or will be better ways of conveying information?

smegel 2 days ago 0 replies      
What do you think about 4GLs - do you think they still hold any promise and/or represent a solution to today's language woes?
noobermin 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that dynamic or at least sloppily typed langauges like javascript and python have become more and more popular. Do you think typeless/dynamic languages are the future? I personally really like "classless OOP[0]".

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSGEjv3Tqo0&t=6m

yan 2 days ago 0 replies      
What most recent topic in the field of programming languages, or computing more broadly, have you changed your mind about in a substantial way?
pnathan 2 days ago 1 reply      

I'm curious what you think the most interesting line of research is today in the 'computering' world.

Thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A.


patrec 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan (and others!),

Logo is ~50 years old now, squeak 20 and olpc ~10. Do you know innovators who are now in their 20ies, 30ies and 40ies and who at least partly credit their mental development to childhood exposure to logo, e-toys, mindstorms, Turtle Geometry etc?

0xdeadbeefbabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Did you guys ever talk about Man-Computer Symbiosis in terms of the computer unfairly benefiting some men over other men?

One example could be, give me money and I'll give you a computer that can translate English to Spanish.

Another example could be, Apple share holders profit from iphone sales, and the iphone UI leads naive/normal people to think texting while driving is ok.

testmonkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any memories or thoughts about Gregory Bateson?
huherto 2 days ago 1 reply      
A piece of advice for software engineers on the mid of the careers ? How do you find challenges and leverage their experience ?
poppingtonic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Alan,Thank you for doing this AMA!

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to "train" "System 1", in order to make "System 2" more powerful. Not necessarily here, due to the time factor, but if you find some time to think more deeply on this, please let me know and we can think through this together.

AndrewCrick 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

I came up with an idea that seems a bit like the Dynabook. It helps the user to understand design decisions. Here's a short video about it (under 2 mins):


In this case it's about how to build a digger.

I'd love to know what you think about it.

olantonan 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's still no good languages for young kids in my opinion. Should we get LOGO back, including a turtle robot?
duck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan, how do you keep up with technology/news? Do you subscribe to any newsletters? Visit HN regularly?
miguelrochefort 2 days ago 0 replies      
What are your thoughts on Ethereum and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations)? Do you believe they will lead to a new way to think about and distribute software? It kind of reminds me of the "fifth generation computer", with constraint/logic programming, smart contracts and smart agents.
ehudla 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are your thoughts on work/life balance in the computing industry? On growing older in our industry?
anildigital 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think of statement "Erlang is the only true object oriented language in use today."?
bouh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Alan,

What do you think about EAST paradigm which tries to revamp the original spirit of OOP you stated ?

Do you think that the machine learning community suffer from the syndrome of "normal considered harmful". Like using vendor hardware instance of designing their own (FPGA for instance)

blendo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any thoughts on UC Berkeley's "Beauty and Joy of Computing"? (http://bjc.berkeley.edu/)

Should AP's new "CS Principles" course count towards the math requirement for college admission?

olantonan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have an opinion on text based vs visual programming languages? I think the latter is good for learning, but feel impractical in my day-to-day job. Is there a sweet spot?
cardmagic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why haven't machine learning and neural networks been applied to programming languages with as much interest as human languages? Wouldn't AI augmentation of writing computer code lead to faster breakthroughs in all other fields within computer science?
westoncb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I'm curious whether you think it might be an important/interesting direction for program editors to depart from character sequence manipulation to something along the lines of AST editors. Or is this only a red herring, and perhaps not so deep a change?

syngrog66 2 days ago 1 reply      
hi Alan!

Q: I've always been a big fan both of text console accessible UI's like CLI's and REPL's as well as of GUI's. In my mind they each clearly have a different mix of strengths and weaknesses. One way a user might have a bit of the "best of both worlds" potentially is an app or client featuring a hybrid input design where all 3 of these modes are available for the user to drive. Any thoughts on that?

I'm writing a paper in my free time about some architectural ideas in this area and would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to tell me this is a FAQ and that I should go read a particular book/paper of yours, and/or to get off your lawn. :-)

thank you!

Atwood 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is durufle Requiem hindered or helped by a full pit? Does Chip excite you the way OLPC XO did/does? Salutations/felicitations, appreciation for the ama.
nextputall 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

What do you think about the Newspeak Programming Language (http://www.newspeaklanguage.org)?

brebla 2 days ago 1 reply      
What impresses you the most about american free enterprise? What most disappoints you about it?
collint 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hello Alan,

I'm curious if you've read much about Activity Theory. (in particular, Yrj Engestrm's Learning by Expanding.) I feel like it's compatible with much of what I've heard you discuss in lectures. Is it something you have an opinion on?

miguelrochefort 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are your thoughts on the Semantic Web? Why do you think it hasn't succeeded yet?
duncanawoods 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Whats the next step to improve remote working? Face to face still seems to be so superior for relationship building and problem solving despite the wealth of video conferencing, social and collaboration tools we have. I don't want to wear goggles...


man2525 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is a web browser sufficient to provide rich and meaningful experiences on the Internet?
alehander42 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

Do you think the object ~ biological cells metaphor can be related somehow to automated programming using GP or neural networks? (I've sometimes imagined neural networks as networks of many small objects with probability-based inheritance)

acd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan!

Biggest thanks for helping create the modern computer and its peripherals and helping advocate programming for children! Computers is the base which I enjoy the most as a hobby and make my living off.

What is your vision for the future of computing?

BrutallyHonest 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

Could you please answer:

1) What is your opinion about Actor Model? Does it have a potential? What is the next step for OOP?

2) Do you think software of the future should be end-user modifiable?

3) What would be the Dynabook of 2016? Smart contact lenses with a gesture interface?

Thank you very much!

msutherl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I'd like to go deeper into your notion of "pop cultures" vs. "progress", in the context of innovation, but also the arts. Can you recommend some readings that might fill out those concepts?

quakeguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
He is a great guy, i just want to thank him via this textfield i am given.
huherto 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do you become a lifelong learner ? How do you stay excited about the future ?
kafkaesq 2 days ago 0 replies      
So what do you think of Scala?
lispython 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Comparing how you think about doing research now with how you thought when you were starting out, what is the biggest change in your thinking?

Ericson2314 2 days ago 1 reply      
Alan, while trying come up with a good question, I learned you are a musician. Great! As a fellow musician (also jazz and classical) I'm curious whether you feel this has influenced your engineering.
mti27 2 days ago 0 replies      
What TV show or movie have you seen that has realistically portrayed advanced computer technology, or is growing into it? In other words, now that we have Amazon Echo is the Forbin Project more realistic?
ksec 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think of Steve Jobs? And the Current Apple. Do you have any meaning friendship with him? Do you miss him? Any Story to share?
Woodi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

Do current OO languages miss or unuse good ideas/features already invented ?

Is programming "with GUI only" a sensible for the future ?


corysama 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could you recommend a small number of historic papers in computer science for undergrads to read so that they can have a bit more context for the state of modern tech? Thanks!
lpalmes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan, If you are familiar with Go, what do you think about it's simplicity as a language? It's something other languages should start thinking about in their design?
rudedogg 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are your favorite talks you've given? Can you link to the videos if they were recorded?

I enjoy watching your presentations, but I'm sure there are some I've missed.

lispython 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

Have you ever made serious mistake? That if given an opportunity, you would start over with a different approach.

olantonan 2 days ago 1 reply      
No language today is able to improve itself like Smalltalk was able to. That's pretty sad, wouldn't you say?
alehander42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you think artificial human languages designed with strong logical rules (Lojban..) can be succesful?

Do you think they can act in a-la Newspeak(the 1984 Newspeak) way?

arkj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Consider a kid starting to learn programming, which language would you suggest him to learn first?

Also is there a minimal list of must know languages?

childintime 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

What skills would your (hypothetical?) apprentice need to have?

If this were more like a partnership what would be the subject to work on?

For that matter, what are you working on now?

mbrock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you recall any interesting work on discussion forums or alternatives to them for promoting collaborative thinking?

Or for another approach, how do you like HN?

dillonforrest 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are your pet peeves within your field of work?
ldargin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you consider the recent advances in AR/VR as a useful trend, or is it's emphasis on spatial movement mostly superfluous?
musha68k 2 days ago 1 reply      
How can I get my thinking out of the/my box?
nxzero 2 days ago 0 replies      

What research have you been a part of that is the most promising, yet least known, and why do you feel it failed to become more well known?

agentgt 2 days ago 1 reply      
What other interests do you have that are not technology related. For example what kind of music do you like? Do you like art?
slrigevol 2 days ago 0 replies      
this is a spectacular thread. I gave up everything and traveled to the U of U in 1976 because alankay1 had done his thesis there. They got so much right in such a short time - Eliot Organick (Multics), Tony Hearn (Reduce, symbolic OS for TI 92, 89). All inspired by Alan Kay.
olantonan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Reddit commenter implying this AMA is fake. How are HN accounts verified? How do we know this is a real AMA? Just curious.
olantonan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does it suck getting old for you? Do you have stamina to make new stuff?

I'm old, very hard to stay on top of all the changes.

uptownfunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Alan, what are your thoughts on lbstanza and it's class-less object system?


bitmadness 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

I'm a CS PhD student at Caltech. What advice do you have for young computer scientists, especially for PhD students?

ehudla 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do you like the culture of Silicon Valley?
buzzkills 2 days ago 1 reply      
In terms of real, in use, user interfaces, what do you think are the best examples? What do you like about them?
osense 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is your opinion on the so-called Function-level programming, and languages such as J?
atarian 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is your stance on the future of AI? Is it something we should be concerned about?
mej10 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is your recommendation to someone wanting to get into the kind of research you do?
olantonan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm no doubt your biggest fan. What do you think of the Simula inventors work?
anildigital 2 days ago 1 reply      
Statically typed programming languages or Dynamically typed programming languages?
BrutallyHonest 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is Actor Model lacking?
nekopa 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

What is your view on Literate Programming and why it hasn't taken off (yet)?

gorlist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can you name a few of today's Michelangelos?
cardmagic 2 days ago 0 replies      
What do you believe that many programmers your know don't agree with?
jyotipuri 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Alan,

What do you find most frustrating about software development at current times.


pyed 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do we "really" need more programming languages ?
Adam-Kadmon 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the best language to learn OOP concepts ?
icc97 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you do to keep focus during the day?
EGreg 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is Alan Kay doing these days?
chews 2 days ago 1 reply      
Given that tablets have lived up to the Dynabook concept, what do you think about seeing 3 year olds with iPads?
kev009 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is your opinion on Operating Systems research and industry? I find the Linux monoculture tiresome.
seccess 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are you familiar with (the programming language) Go? What do you think of Go's approach to objects?
philippeback 2 days ago 0 replies      

What do you think of the Pharo project?

samirm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Alan,

Tabs or spaces?

skull205485 2 days ago 0 replies      
i need help because i do not know how to hack so can you help me?
alankay1 2 days ago 3 replies      
Hi Folks

Thanks for all your questions, and my apologies to those I didn't answer. I got wiped out from 4:30 of answering (I should have taken some breaks). Now I have to. I will look at more of the questions tomorrow.

Very best wishes


testmonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
What role do people like Terry A. Davis (and his TempleOS) serve in imaging what's possible in computing? I'm thinking of Jaron Lanier's idea of society getting "locked in" after certain technical decisions become seemingly irreversible (like the MIDI standard).
mischief01 2 days ago 4 replies      
It is not unlikely that you will never get to the same league as 'the inventors'.

Most people are mediocre at everything they do and will always be. Most likely that includes you. We live in a culture that doesn't just tell everyone that they can easily outgrow mediocrity, no, this culture tells people they are above it from the very start.

The following advice doesn't apply to geniuses or those who can be, but it applies to the majority who will read this:

The best you can do is look back on your life and see if there is only mediocrity. If there is, you have to be honest with yourself and recognize if it's so because of factors that you can still change, or not. For most people reading this the latter will be the case, which means you simply have to live with it and stop trying to influence the world, because everything you end up doing is going to make things worse (for you, and everyone else).

Avshalom 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are you 2 years old?
olantonan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not into quackery.
ycombinatorMan 1 day ago 1 reply      
>this is stealing my life

Really? Because I quite enjoy my "Wasted" time. I can't imagine what situation you could possibly be in that not only is it not enough for you not to "waste" time being happy, but you need other people to do the same. You are whats wrong with the world.

PayPal has demanded that we monitor data traffic as well as customers files seafile.de
1021 points by zolder  2 days ago   334 comments top 42
josteink 2 days ago 5 replies      
> PayPal has demanded that we monitor data traffic as well as all our customers files for illegal content. They have also asked us to provide them with detailed statistics about the files types of our customers sync and share on https://app.seafile.de

That's a pretty big WTF right there.

I know PayPal has a on overall pretty scummy reputation, but I still I cannot imagine PayPal doing this because they themselves think they'll benefit from this data.

To me this seems like a demand which comes "upstream" from above PayPal, from its payment providers (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, etc). Would I be overly paranoid to imagine these demands and claims are the result of lobbing by entities like RIAA and MPAA? They do have a history for blocking payments to known pirate-friendly services after all.

And as such, they clearly have too much power, and there needs to be some anti-discriminatory financial regulation to stop business-hostile practices like this from being lobbied and put in place.

Because this is just madness.

nakodari 2 days ago 2 replies      
Another victim of Paypal here. I run Jumpshare, a file sharing and collaboration service for creative professionals. This is what Paypal sent us:

"May 8, 2016: When you signed up for your PayPal account, you agreed to our User Agreement and Acceptable Use Policy. Because some of your recent transactions violated this policy, we've had to permanently limit your account.

Please remove any references to PayPal from your website."

They never mentioned which transactions violated the policy, we have never had any complains from our customers. There was no prior warning. We called them and they asked us to email them. We sent multiple emails and nobody bothered to respond back. We lost 30% of our recurring monthly revenue right away!

We now use Stripe as our sole payment service provider. After this experience, we will probably never accept Paypal again.

rio517 2 days ago 4 replies      
Given that we've all read similar situations happening all over the web, I'm surprised organizations aren't including "paypal drops us for arbitrary reasons" or "paypal freezes our funds with them for arbitrary reasons" in their risk assessments when choosing vendors. In almost every case, that risk should probably push decision makers away from Paypal.

It is also a little entertaining that their "brand risk" department is probably doing so much unintentional damage to the brand.

Draiken 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm once again astonished with how much control of our businesses is simply out of our hands.

When looking at practices these financial institutions use it makes me wonder what can't they do?

Everyone cites "regulations", but as far as I understand, they make the regulations. Directly or indirectly.

Take for example the known cases where PayPal freezes accounts holding people's money. If I take someone else's money and refuse to give it back to them, it's a crime in pretty much every nation. But when banks and financial institutions do that, they get away scot-free (with maybe some small rants from the internet) and keep doing this systematically profiting in almost all cases.

If we're not bound to middle men like Stripe and PayPal, we're bound to Visa and Mastercard. Is there any way out of this madness?

MichaelBurge 2 days ago 8 replies      
File sharing services are listed as requiring pre-approval, so Seafile should've sent them an email before accepting it as payment:


They're well within their rights to decline your business. If a bank told the government, "We have no absolutely no idea what our customers are doing with their money or who they're sending it to. Maybe they're sending it to terrorists or drug lords, maybe they're not; it's none of our business and we respect their privacy", they'd get shut down in a heartbeat.

I can understand if Paypal doesn't want to appear on the front page of the news for funding an underground child porn ring that signed up as one of your "enterprise clients".

howfun 2 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently the other filesharing companies spy on user data,that is why they are on Paypal.
xavier9050 1 day ago 0 replies      
Compliance Officer in financial sector in Luxembourg here. The request you have received is related to anti money laundering regulations. As you guys seem to be based in Germany. So bear in mind that PayPal operates across the European Union as a Luxembourg-based bank. Anti-money laundering regulation is typically stricter in Lux than in the USA. The Lux regulator is the "CSSF", and you can find the detail of the regulation here: http://www.cssf.lu/en/supervision/financial-crime/aml-ctf/la...
jeena 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, suprise suprise, my 6 years old blogpost continues to be spot on https://jeena.net/paypal that is when I deleted my PayPal account. But it was not all dance on roses after that, suprisingly many only offer PayPal as a way to pay them, so I always have to try to contact them and to try to explain and to ask for another way to pay. Most of the time they won't/can't help me.
contingencies 2 days ago 2 replies      
Had to use Paypal today to make a payment to a company who can't otherwise find a reasonable way to take credit cards online. I feel their pain, having been in that position. Paypal randomly saw that it was reasonable to demand I answer a phone in another country (though I haven't been based there for perhaps 15 years) if I wanted to log in to my account. I had to work around this by having them send a payment request, then paid about USD$1000. Wish they accepted Bitcoin, I was livid at the experience. Every time I deal with Paypal it's the same. Their PR crap a year or two back about "sorting things out" was obviously empty. Stripe isn't much better: after a reasonable start, last time I wanted to use them I couldn't because my address is in a different country to my card (ANYONE LISTENING?). These abuses are reaching a breaking point, nobody is going to deal with credit cards soon. Here in amusingly progressive mainland China, they are a minor mode of payment and shrinking: good riddance!
mootothemax 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's PayPal's page on what they require for file-sharing services:

>Merchants offering file-sharing programs or access to newsgroup services must monitor for and prevent access to illegal content.


raverbashing 2 days ago 4 replies      
Paypal only exists because the current infrastructure of payments in the US is a joke

Nobody needs paypal in Europe. Of course, they try to sell themselves as "the easiest way" (which is right to a point) but it's mostly unneeded

adrianmsmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
Presumably with TTIP harmonizing laws between the US and EU, violating the privacy of users will stop being illegal in the EU at some point.
reitanqild 2 days ago 0 replies      
Improvement: PayPal at least asked first, IIRC that was not always the case.

Still I advise people not to depend solely on PayPal because of their tendency to freeze funds over nothing.

Matt3o12_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if legal action can be taken against PayPal for demanding this kind of information. PayPal blackmailed them into breaking a law (they didn't break it but they suffered financial loss from not doing it).

If I told a customer who absolutely depends on my business to harass/attack somebody, I would certainly hold liable as well.

benevol 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's time to share & spread information about PayPal's competitors:

What has your experience or market research yielded (stripe.com and paymill.de probably being the most obvious ones)?

morganvachon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think I just found my new cloud provider. It's rare to see a company stand firm on their values like this.
joopxiv 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have quite some personal experience with PayPal, and their policies seem quite random. If one person gets it into his or her head that something is not allowed, no voice of reason will change the decision. I wouldn't shed too much tears over it though, there are many better and cheaper alternative forms of payment.
leommoore 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is the most disappointing is PayPal's lack of Customer Service. Why would any vendor want to use their services when they are so badly treated? It also throws into question the data security of other vendors's cloud storage. Is everyone looking at my stuff?!?
premasagar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Shenanigans like this will only hasten the onset of a bitcoin economy.
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since complying with this demand would violate German / European data protection laws (and also be morally wrong in our opinion) we have declined to comply with this demand.

Is everyone in Germany going to have this issue?

infodroid 2 days ago 1 reply      
To a corporate lawyer, every file sync and team collaboration solution looks no different from Megaupload.
ohitsdom 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone made a site yet detailing all of these horror stories? Paypal's behavior is unacceptable and needs to change, yet years later things still seem just as bad for their customers.
sandworm101 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those thinking this has something to do with "regulation", it does not. Paypal has done this sort of thing for years. In the past it has been the "cyberlockers" and VPN services, even Wikileaks. Someone is putting soft pressure on Paypal. Someone in government or, more likely, someone within the copyright-lobby is threatening them. That has been the pattern in the past.
kriro 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a pretty huge WTF request.

Can you sue Paypal for basically telling you "break the law or don't use us" (I think that's a pretty bad idea on ideological grounds but I wonder if it's technically possible)? Especially since Paypal has to be regulated within the EU in some way I'd say such a request should result in at least a cursory check if the EU license (iirc. they operate as a bank) of Paypal should be revoked/suspended/investigated.

mk89 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another great example of the so called "democratization".
herghost 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the reason I stopped using Paypal.

The want to position themselves as a financial services provider equivalent to traditional banks, except that they reserve the right arbitrarily - and without recourse - remove their services.

As a customer this means you can be cut out from your ability to use "currency".As a business this means you're beholden to arbitrary decisions that you can't really risk assess against - and if you've built your business on this service it could be devastating.

mzd348 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was under the impression that European wire transfers were cheap (free), fast, and reliable. If that's true, why is something like PayPal even needed? Can't Seafile just have their clients transfer money to Seafile's account? Or are wire transfers not free for "retail" use like this?
0xmohit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Paypal apparently has plans of coming up with a sequel to "The Lives of Others" [1]

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

derFunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
AFAIK PayPal only do this if they have internal proof that laws are already being broken on the according websites. I don't know Seafile, but the same happened to other file hosters in the past which silently and willingly accepted that copyrighted material is exchanged by using their services.
reiichiroh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've seen detractors lambaste Seafile as an untrustworthy Chinese company/app originally. Anyone know if there's any truth to this?
lucaspottersky 2 days ago 0 replies      
This means that it's easier than ever to spot companies that are monitoring YOUR data: just check whether they accept PayPal or not.
mrbill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last year I worked for a Dropbox-like service, and PayPal was continually giving us grief over using them as a payment service as well. I don't recall them asking us to monitor every user's traffic, though.
Taylor_OD 2 days ago 1 reply      
I use PayPal often for online stores where my Discover card isnt accepted but I cant believe they are still around and have a huge market share. The platform is so broken.
INTPenis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, sorry paypal, but I've seen a host of new payment services crop up lately. Now is not the time to push your clients around.
sschueller 2 days ago 1 reply      
A little of topic but has anyone else noticed the paypal website being extremely slow?
CommanderData 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't this why we pay paypal fees in the first place?
nxzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone have a link to the notices PayPal sent Seafile?
mertens 2 days ago 0 replies      
OP, are you from Zolder, Belgium???
sjreese 1 day ago 0 replies      
"AML" this is all cover for CIA economic espionage as always the people asking the questions are the competitors. Who need know how, who and where your customers are marketing reasons to undercut your prices for selected customers! You see never hand over your member list when you don't know who the end users are. Think T-mobile and at&t then about the switch offers to selected user based on data usage.
phyyl 2 days ago 0 replies      
faith in humanity restored
uncletammy 2 days ago 7 replies      
I don't think they need regulation. I think they need to carry on like they are for a few more years so I can watch them be eaten alive by crypto currencies and other fintech innovations.
tn13 2 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped using file-sharing software long back. I use s3 now.
How a comment on Hacker News led to 4 new Unicode characters unicodepowersymbol.com
862 points by adamnemecek  11 hours ago   277 comments top 42
agumonkey 2 hours ago 7 replies      
I'm a bit confused about Unicode. It was a repository of linguistic symbols, not raw symbols. More and more it looks like wingdings. Isn't this putting burden on font support and Text processing (what's the lexicographic order of such symbols, using the abstract name ?) ?
kens 8 hours ago 5 replies      
The success of the unicodepowersymbol proposal inspired me to suggest a couple characters to Unicode (the Bitcoin sign and IBM's group mark from 1960s mainframes, which were accepted). The point is that Unicode really is open to proposals from random people; you don't need to part of a big company to influence Unicode.
tangus 9 hours ago 3 replies      
How did the Unicode Consortium turn around. I remember 10 years ago they were refusing to add standard media icons because

>The scope of the Unicode Standard (and ISO/IEC 10646) doesnot extend to encoding every symbol or sign that bearsmeaning in the world.

>This list has been round and round and round on this -- regular as clockwork, about once a year, the topic comes up again. And I see no indication that the UTC or WG2 are any closer to concluding that bunches of icons should start being included in the character encoding standards simply on the basis of their being widespread and recognizable icons.

>Where is the defensible line between "Fast Forward" and"Women's Restroom" or "Right Lane Merge Ahead" or"Danger Crocodiles No Swimming"?


Now it looks they add whatever somebody thinks of. I guess it's related to the liberation from the BMP.

hackuser 10 hours ago 4 replies      
As the story mentions regarding the off symbol (a circle), there are many visually identical code points that have different semantic meanings. But in this case, they added an additional semantic meaning to an existing code point.

So which is it? Does each code point represent a visual image? A semantic meaning? Both? It depends? Something else?

I've tried to decipher that on my own and only learned that the answer to these sorts of questions are complicated, because it's very complicated to represent all written human language via one set of rules.

So I know some of the answers to my questions above, but I'm hoping someone with real expertise can provide the fundamental rules/policies - if there are any.

peterburkimsher 9 hours ago 2 replies      
TIL that the SI units all have Unicode symbols. http://www.marathon-studios.com/unicode/categories/So/Other_...

If people actually used these, it would make searching text for formulae much easier. Wikipedia editors and academic publishers, please note.

Also, there's no Unicode for screwdriver. Perhaps iFixit would like to campaign for that?

Congratulations on getting the power symbols in! When @edent writes "Will update ... when I stop dancing", was it "I got the power"?

smegel 11 hours ago 5 replies      
> Ask the people behind your Operating System and those who design your favourite fonts to start supporting Unicode 9!

Surely not every font has to create glyphs for every Unicode character...how does that work? Is there a kind of "fall-back" font for characters not implemented?

DiabloD3 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The only problem I see is OSX/iOS, Windows, and Android don't ship with some universal, but shitty, font that has every single last glyph ever, always immediately updated to the new Unicode standard.
Animats 9 hours ago 6 replies      
But why? The trend towards putting icons into Unicode may be a mistake. Unless it's a symbol one uses in a sentence, there's no real reason to have it in Unicode. Unicode should not be viewed as a standard clip art library.
wooptoo 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Legitimate question: Why is Unicode littered with all those useless symbols?

I can see the reasoning behind the standard (or very common) symbols or things like emoji, but having every possible glyph in UTF8 seems like a horrible waste.

What if we want to add new glyphs in the next 10 years for emerging standards?

nabla9 7 hours ago 1 reply      
At some point, someone realizes that there is need to standardize fixed practical subset of Unicode that contains all essential symbols over the world so that all devices that comply with the standard can __actually__ interchange text in readable, printable and visually presentable form.

It's nice to have catalogue of symbols and tight encoding for them, but full support of Unicode encoding has very little to do with support for Unicode in an application.


yk 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I already ranted about unicode earlier today, my main argument is, that unicode is what happens if everybody qualified thinks: "That's a great idea, of course you have to handle X and Y and Z and I just remember that I forgot to fill out several warranty cards."

This blog post is a nice example, I have absolutely no idea how these new code points are supposed to look like, since I only spend an afternoon to implement the unicode best practices from the Arch wiki, instead of subscribing to some unicode standard mailing list. (Except the one symbol which was redefined to a symbol that does not carry the semantic meaning of "standby symbol" anywhere outside of the unicode standard.)

In my opinion there are two ways forward, one burn the entire thing. Or alternatively, force the unicode committee to produce an authoritative and complete font, in triplicate, and in their own blood.

c3t0 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations! Following through all that work specially with a consortium of such significance is great feat of perseverance.

Thank you for stepping up and making a difference.

piotrkubisa 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope that ligatures will be more popularized than using characters like "", because it is very difficult to find them in text with standard ASCII characters, i.e. in Firefox by typing 1/2 in quick find (ctrl+f).
VMG 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Hope pause/play/rewind etc come next: http://fontawesome.io/icons/#video-player
bArray 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Truly amamzing man!

I was actually wondering about the electrical symbols for logic gates, such as AND, OR, NOR, XOR, NOT, etc. I would hope they were universally accepted by now and would help when writing books or describing logic. A quick Duck Duck search revealed nothing...?

mirekrusin 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Would they consider "fuck you" (middle finger) character? I think it would be very useful and quite popular.
systemfreund 6 hours ago 3 replies      
From the Unicode 9.0.0 announcement [0]:

> Important symbol additions include:

> 19 symbols for the new 4K TV standard

I am wondering, why did they add symbols for a standard which will become obsolete eventually?

[0]: http://unicode.org/versions/Unicode9.0.0/

singularity2001 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I first thought they are the ones responsible for this 'character':



WalterBright 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I always wondered what was wrong with the glyph "ON" to denote on.
dclowd9901 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Unicode symbols... seems like we should've developed them the way languages develop: start with the most important symbols, ones for food, water, shelter, danger, etc, then expanded them into the abstract mess they are today.
gerbilly 3 hours ago 1 reply      
For all the animals they have in unicode(rabbit, hamster, cow, ...) how come there is no squirrel?
shurcooL 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice! That looks like a long journey, so congrats on seeing it through and being successful!

On a related note, the main character of my unfinished game [0] will be pleased about this.

[0] https://github.com/shurcooL/eX0#readme

rbanffy 8 hours ago 0 replies      

I'll add these (and the IBM-related symbols @kens mentioned, which are specially appropriate) to https://github.com/rbanffy/3270font for the next release (this weekend, I think - still lots of Cyrillic cleanup to do in the develop branch).

bbcbasic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
&#x23FB; To The People!
yingnansong 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for making the contribution :)
xvilka 8 hours ago 0 replies      
World also need better support for BiDirectional text in every kind of software. Especially poor support in terminal emulators and console tools.
lacker 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Will there just eventually be one emoji for each distinct concept?
idanga 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Takes a character to make a character :P

Well done.

WalterBright 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Where does adding new Unicode symbols stop?
anhtran 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I read this because the title reminds me about the latest release of Steven Wilson.
EdiX 6 hours ago 1 reply      
And yet still no klingon...
yuhong 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder when will Windows add support?
gcb0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
was this a clever ploy from the awful-and-unusable-incident-management-system-as-a-service i have to use at my job whose logo is ?
jgalt212 3 hours ago 0 replies      
How long before we need a defusedunicode to protect users and programs from confusion and scams?


acqq 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anybody see how the characters look like? Wouldn't it be good to have the pictures of all 4 and half? Some link?

I see there was a proposal here in PDF:


But there's a lot of glyphs there. What was accepted then? If the circle was reused, what are the remaining four?

GauntletWizard 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm still waiting for a Unicode codepoint for Love Symbol #2 (aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince). There are codepoints for dead Chinese emperors, there should be one for Prince.
digi_owl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Emoji, the megapixels of messaging?
bsder 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The past tense of "lead" (rhymes with bead) is not also "lead".

When did the word "led" disappear from the English language?

FuturePromise 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.
andrewclunn 11 hours ago 0 replies      
LELISOSKA 10 hours ago 2 replies      
maybe there should be like a universal unicode for all the icons that apps might need that represent common functionality and they should be animated to represent an either on or off state for some of them. also top brand square logos should be added into the unicode as well. and then different forks/variations can be submitted for the unicode and be accepted if they are useful and good looking. also they should all be black and white and have the same theme/look similar. u like my idea?? :DD
krapp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if HN is going to complain about the frivolity and uselessness of these the way they incessantly complain about emoji every time a Unicode thread comes up?
Tesla Makes Offer to Acquire SolarCity teslamotors.com
697 points by runesoerensen  1 day ago   383 comments top 42
rjdagost 1 day ago 6 replies      
Some people are questioning the reason behind this offer. Read between the lines here, folks. Musk has borrowed heavily to invest in SolarCity and Tesla, and with the ongoing rout in SolarCity shares he is facing a margin call:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/business/dealbook/tesla-so..."But the transaction highlights the unusual moves that Mr. Musk continues to make to support the various arms of his empire, where he is the largest shareholder of each company.

He has taken out loans to buy up shares in Tesla and SolarCity, some backed by his personal stock holdings in both companies a risky move that leaves him exposed to margin calls if their stock prices slide too far."

And if there's a margin call, Musk has to sell a lot of his shares to cover, which imposes considerable risk on the stock price of his companies. From Tesla regulatory filings:

"Tesla has warned investors in U.S. regulatory filings what could happen if Musk had to sell the shares. "The forced sale of these shares pursuant to a margin call could cause our stock price to decline and negatively impact our business.""

This is just CYA for Musk, dressed up with happy talk about vertical integration and increasing synergy and such.

Edit: I completely forgot about the massive debt that SolarCity owes to SpaceX- all the more reason to prevent SolarCity from collapsing: http://electrek.co/2016/03/22/elon-musk-spacex-solar-bonds-s...

"Last year, SpaceX already purchased solar bonds from SolarCity on two separate occasions: another $90 million followed by $75 million. SpaceXs involvement in SolarCitys Solar Bond Program is set to total around $255 million"

a13n 1 day ago 12 replies      
Some people think SolarCity is doing terribly because they're losing so much money. Actually them losing money is an incredibly great sign for the long run (assuming they don't run out of money - which Elon won't let happen).

Here's how their business model works:

- They will install solar panels on your house for free (or cheaper than the full cost).

- You pay them a much lower rate than what the public utility company charges for the electricity generated from those solar panels.

- You save tens of thousands of dollars and lower your carbon footprint by hundreds of thousands of pounds of CO2 over 20-30 years.

- They lose a ton of money installing those expensive panels but make a TON of money in the long run selling you that electricity that is generated for next to nothing.

So as you can see, SolarCity losing money is actually a good thing because it means they're making so many damn sales that in 10 years they're going to be reaping the profits from those sales like crazy.

SmallBets 1 day ago 4 replies      
This could be an all time Machiavellian move just to punish the Solarcity shorts on Wall St., which include Jim Chanos and others. The after hours bump to SC is killing the shorts and that might be the point more so than the deal actually closing.


marricks 1 day ago 5 replies      
One simple way this could really help is just in naming. Tesla Energy is sure to turn more heads than SolarCity as Tesla is a household name now that people generally have good associations with. SolarCity always sounded a bit generic.
rock57 1 day ago 2 replies      
In retrospect I find this 3-days-old publication quite... amusing)) "... I [SC CEO and Musk cousin L. Rive] asked, 'Elon, hey can I have a family discount' and his answer is, 'Yeah absolutely. Go to TeslaMotor.com, buy the car online, and the price you see there is the family discount,'" Rive told Tech Insider. "Everyone gets a family discount."

So there you have it: Musk does not believe in preferential treatment for family members.

"I give Elon credit beyond the fact of being the best entrepreneur in the world he treats everyone the same. Everyone. Theres no nepotism at all," Rive said.http://mobile.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-response-when-so...

coliveira 1 day ago 2 replies      
Elon is using a public traded company to save his other failing businesses. In a sense he already did this before using his private loans guaranteed by Tesla shares. But at least in that case it was his own money. Now he wants to use other shareholder's money to bailout his floundering solar energy investment.
hackguru 1 day ago 2 replies      
So two companies with great potential. One (Solar City) has a problem convincing investors and is exposed to wide fluctuations and the other (Tesla) is pretty good at managing expectation and enthusiasm in the market. So I guess the idea here is to limit exposure in one of them by absorbing it in another. Might work but goes counter intuitive to the idea that I always thought was the most important in Musk companies: Focus. Focus on delivering one main value. Hope this works out.
sl8r 1 day ago 1 reply      
Others have already made this point[1] but to me, SolarCity has some aspects that make it look like more of a of a tax-arbitrage business than a solar panel retail business. It reminds me a bit of the ethanol blending tax credit, which led, in some cases, to companies mixing ethanol with petrochemicals solely for the tax benefit.

[1] http://www.newsmax.com/BradleyBlakeman/solar-kroll-subsidy/2...

pfarnsworth 1 day ago 2 replies      
What a disaster. The purchase makes no real sense, unless you bend over backwards to try to force a rationalization. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea can't read a financial statement. Solar City as an investment is terrible, and even Goldman Sachs recently said they were one of the worst performing companies in the sector.

I'm expecting a ton of shareholder lawsuits at this point. The idea that Tesla was buying SCTY bonds is sketchy enough, the idea of buying the entire company is just insane.

minimaxir 1 day ago 7 replies      
SCTY up 23% after hours (http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SCTY), TSLA down 7%? (http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=TSLA)
abalone 1 day ago 6 replies      
you would be able to deploy and consume energy in the most efficient and sustainable way possible, lowering your costs and minimizing your dependence on fossil fuels and the grid

Naive question: Why is minimizing dependency on the grid more sustainable? Doesn't connecting with the grid allow you to distribute excess power more evenly?

dhaivatpandya 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is conflict of interest generally handled in this sort of situation?

Given that Elon Musk is personally major investor in SolarCity and Tesla is a publicly traded company with obligations to its shareholders, would Elon be removed or limited in his ability to control negotiations with SolarCity? Even though it seems like an acquisition of SolarCity would fit within Tesla's overarching strategy, price negotiation could probably be affected by Elon's interests within SolarCity.

fencepost 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems to me that if Tesla can bundle things from companies/divisions they own it may work out well for them. Driving a Tesla? Bring it home and plug it in to pull power from your PowerWall, which was charged during the day by your SolarCity panels. Charge a little less on the secondary items, but increase your volume by trying to drive sales to Tesla vehicle owners who might otherwise have never considered such a thing.

If they can combine the PowerWall with the vehicle charging station, that just makes it better.

partiallypro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given that both companies have insane cash burn and negative cash flows. This would make me very worried if I'm an investor. Not that I wasn't worried before. There's a reason short interest in both companies is fairly high. Their financials are pretty bad.
aerovistae 1 day ago 5 replies      
Trying to work something out here, need input, as I've never had this happen before:

I advised a friend to buy Tesla and SolarCity stock some time ago, and they did so. The SolarCity stock was much higher at the time than it is now, perhaps $60-70.

I see that the offer from Tesla involves "0.122x to 0.131x" exchange for Tesla stock. So what does this mean for people whose positions in SolarCity were currently down? They have to hope the Tesla stock eventually goes up enough to recover the loss they suffered on SolarCity?

sabertoothed 1 day ago 1 reply      
In combination with the battery business this just makes sense. It is perfectly vertically integrated.
yyyuuu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Tesla, Solarcity and SpaceX are eventually going to merge together to create an hyper advanced ecosystem of extremely fast travel, within and outside the confines of Earth. Hyperloop is going to complement this ecosystem quite well.

Basically, Elon Musk is walking into the history books and folklore and we are the ones to witness his humble beginnings.

His efforts/ventures, if successful even marginally, will play a large part in the next technological jump that Humans are going to take as civilization, the previous one being the Western Industrial revolution of the 19th century.

cespare 1 day ago 2 replies      
Isn't it unusual to make an offer as an "open letter" like this? I thought these discussions generally happen behind tightly closed doors.
r3pl4y 1 day ago 11 replies      
Now SpaceX only needs to start producing electric rockets, then they can all be unified.
paulsutter 1 day ago 0 replies      
The key here is they feel that Tesla customers will be interested in solar, and that Solarcity customers are interested in Tesla. Offering new products to the same customers works great - the core of every business is acquiring customers, and selling more (and related) products to the same customers conserves that core effort.

The disaster is when a company takes on a new product for /new customers/. That is when a company's efforts are diluted.

suavesav 1 day ago 2 replies      
With 98.1 million shares outstanding and an offer price of $26.5 - $28.5 per share. This puts the potential cost of acquisition between $2.6 billion and $2.8 billion.
restalis 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not "market penetration" anymore, now we have "customer penetration"?! The Tesla Team must have a truly disruptive view on the world.
avipars 1 day ago 0 replies      
Conflict of interest? Elon Musk is on the board of SolarCity and his cousins started the company
ricw 1 day ago 2 replies      
this is the future of energy! end to end energy production, storage as well as one of the greatest energy users all under one roof. combined in a useful package, this could change the energy market dramatically.

if tesla now produces a range of trucks and thereby also enters the transportation sector, they're completing the full circle.

imanagedog 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fortuitous timing for me. Interestingly (to me), I had a stop loss set to sell all my TSLA at 220.50 today if the stock started to drop again. It did today, so my order was executed. Suddenly this happens.
ForHackernews 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it legal to use one of your companies to bail out the other? What about obligations to shareholders?
foota 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, it does fit with their mission statement "Teslas mission is to accelerate the worlds transition to sustainable energy."
anonymous7777 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is this guy doing? I think he is trying to transfer money from one account to another?!
markokrajnc 1 day ago 0 replies      
This may be >>very good<< for SolarCity and >>just good<< for Tesla.
gist 1 day ago 0 replies      
For anyone who doesn't know Musk is also the Chairman of Solar City.
vishnuks 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it common to make the offer letter public before the deal is made?
heurist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking forward to the day when SpaceX finds a way to launch satellites with massive batteries that harvest solar energy from orbit and transports them to and from Earth (to feed Tesla's recharge network).
seesomesense 1 day ago 0 replies      
Related party transactions smell bad
datamingle 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think this is a great move for Elon to devote more time for SpaceX. His cousins will eventually be running the combined Tesla/SolarCity company.
setheron 1 day ago 3 replies      
didn't his brother start SolarCity or something like that ?
adventured 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tesla will be picking up an additional $2.6 billion in long-term debt, and only $413 million in cash, if the deal completes. They'll also pick up the interest tab at about $120+ million per year in fresh red ink.

It'll bring Tesla's total long-term debt up to $5 billion or so, and push their net tangible assets negative. They'll likely get some debt downgrades out of this.

dang 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Your argument is shallow, specious, and ignorant.

Please (re)-read what the HN guidelines have to say about not calling names in arguments (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). We ask people to edit this kind of thing out of their comments here. That will not only make your comments more polite, but more substantive too.

ams6110 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why did you post the same comment in two places?
Zelphyr 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't help but wonder if this went down:

Elon Musk: I want to buy Solar City. Can I get a family discount?

Lyndon Rive: Everyone gets a family discount.

-- Sometime later --

Lyndon Rive: Hey Elon, can I get a family discount on a Model X?

Elon Musk: ...

jonknee 1 day ago 4 replies      
A bad name isn't why SolarCity is an awful business.
jpeg_hero 1 day ago 2 replies      
SolarCity moves 100% of their product through churn-and-burn tele-sales.

Elon may have a rude awakening transitioning from"pull" marketing to "push" marketing.

You can't do a 1hr webcast and get 400k solar "pre-pays."

niels_olson 1 day ago 1 reply      
The divided tenor in this thread makes me wonder how many people don't realize just how fast tech is accelerating.
Bloody Plant Burger Smells, Tastes and Sizzles Like Meat npr.org
653 points by nradov  1 day ago   439 comments top 53
ergothus 1 day ago 29 replies      
I've been a vegetarian for the last decade and change, and I simultaneously think that finding a cheaper, appealing alternative to meat is both a fantastic opportunity for the world and a really difficult thing.

I used to love meat when I was a meat-eater, and I'm a fairly picky eater that dislikes many vegetable options. (Green peppers are nasty and food-destroying in my opinion, which immediately removes over half the vegetarian options out there, just as an example), so I consider myself a decent bellweather for people who like the tastes of meat but want to actually eat less of it for various reasons.

The options that already exist today are quite varied. Boca, Morningstar, Beyond Meat, and Quorn are all big names that offer meat alternatives that taste VERY different from each other. Most of my meat eating friends won't even try any of these, sight unseen. (When they see them, they tend to have even more reluctance). So, while I think it's absolutely worthwhile to make alternatives that seem more "real", there is still a stigma to overcome just by virtue of being fake. And in america, at least, where meat-eating is tied to masculinity and bacon is worshipped, that's a tough stigma to shake.

Decent imitations of highly processed meat exist already - I've had chicken nuggets that meat eaters had no idea were fake, and I fed my in-laws a "turkey loaf" dinner for Thanksgiving for years without them realizing - but matching the taste of "quality" meats hasn't yet happened.

pappyo 1 day ago 5 replies      
Meat enthusiast here. There is no one who wants a viable meat alternative for meat eaters than me. The bleeding heart (pun intended) in me cares about the sustainability of meat and the sheer cost of ethical farming. Fact of the matter is though, I won't give up eating meat. I love it, so so much. And I have a leery eye towards meat substitutes. This product for example:

- How well does this product replicate the Maillard Reaction [0]? This is key when we're talking about taste and texture.

- Why did the author taste the burger with 82 toppings slathered on top by a professional chef? That's like testing out a new 21 speed, strapped to the top of an SUV.

- Why are they (presumably) trying to recreate chuck? Ground chuck is a terrible thing to replicate. It's like burger meat designed by committee[1].

- Is the sizzle coming from only extracted water from the plant burger (water vapor, decreasing heating temp)? Or are their lipids present spiking the flame, positively contributing to the cooking process?

That said, I'd love to give it a shot. Proper seasoning, a nice medium rare with a slice of American. But I'm not holding my breath. Meat is very hard.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction [1]: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/10/the-burger-lab-b...

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 4 replies      
I would definitely like to try the products (another reason to make a trip back to Colorado).

Lots of questions long term though. Is this the "Ethanol of Meat" ? Where the total cost/impact of producing the good overwhelms the benefits? Ground chuck roast is $7/lb and currently this stuff is more expensive than that. Can it be less expensive than that? Way less expensive?

The fundamental question is does this move us toward a more efficient use of the resources we have to feed us, or is it more the high tech / high energy lifestyle? I am always wondering is this this increasing the kilowatt / person ratio or decreasing it.

buckbova 1 day ago 6 replies      
> "When I tried a mini burger slathered in vegan mayo, mashed avocado, caramelized onions and Dijon prepared by San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardin at the company's headquarters in Redwood City, I was floored."

Honestly a good chef can make cardboard taste good. But as a daily meat eater I'd love a good ground beef alternative.

sp332 1 day ago 0 replies      
Meat that you buy in a store, including ground beef, doesn't have blood in it. The red color is almost entirely myoglobin, not so much hemoglobin. Your burger doesn't bleed. What comes out is just water with some protein including myoglobin.
sethbannon 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a noble effort. Animal agriculture is pretty terrible. It's massively wasteful in terms of land use and water use. It's incredibly inefficient when it comes to energy use (beef cattle production requires an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1 [1]). And, of course, there are the animal welfare concerns.

Even given all the problems, I'm convinced that people won't stop eating meat unless there is a market alternative that's at least equivalent in terms of price, taste, smell, texture, and nutrition. While the plant-based alternatives are getting better and better and I'm a big fan, I'm much more excited about the cultured meat alternatives.

Basically, you can think of a cow as a biological machine inside which certain processes occur which lead to things humans like to eat (milk, meat). If you can replicate those process in the lab instead of in the cow, you can get real meat without the negative side effects mentioned above.

Until very recently, this field had been relegated to academia, but there are now several companies working on commercializing it, like Memphis Meats, Mosa Meats, and Modern Meadow. In my mind, this is the only solution: give people real meat, made without the animals.

[1] http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-80...[2] disclaimer: I'm an investor in Memphis Meats (http://www.memphismeats.com/)

iagooar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I eat meat, love the taste of it, but would be the first to switch to a plant-based alternative.

I know it's tough to acknowledge it, but lots of people like me are a bit hypocrites when it comes to meat: we hate killing animals, but we love the outcome.

wamatt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice to see how HN sentiment appears to have shifted towards greater acceptance or even excitement towards meat alternatives.

For comparison here is the thread from 2012 on the Twitter founders investment in Beyond Meat


sosuke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm super excited by these startups. It seems to be the most promising meat alternatives around at least judging by the articles I've read. The faster we can stop maintaining livestock for meat production the better. It takes the 'middle man' out from plants to people. I love meat and I'm hopeful they can make a steak someday.
andrewfong 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've had the good fortune to try an Impossible Foods burger. It really does taste like meat. I'm not sure I would say it's indistinguishable from a beef burger. But I would definitely have a hard time telling it apart from a ground turkey burger. Or an ostrich burger from Fuddruckers.
pillowkusis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've tried the beyond burger[0], which is similar in that they're both trying to be meatless meat burgers. I don't know if they taste anything alike.

The beyond burger was interesting. It was the closest to a meat patty I've eaten, of all the beef substitutes. It cooks and looks like a beef burger. However, the taste and texture is only reminiscent of meat. Against, it's the closest I've seen anyone get. But it's not a beef burger, and it's worse for inviting the comparison. I'll stick to bean burgers for now. I hope this impossible burger is better.

[0]: http://beyondmeat.com/products/view/beyond-burger

timdellinger 1 day ago 3 replies      
Adding heme is a brilliant idea - and I think high amounts of iron would make it a great product. There are a few things that are important to watch to make sure you get enough of when you're a vegetarian, and iron is one of them. (Women who donate blood have their blood tested for iron, and are sometimes surprised the learn that they're low in iron.)
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome! If this is close to meat in macronutrient profile (no carb, protein/fat based), I'd be fine switching >90% of my ground beef consumption to it as soon as commercially available as long as it is less than $10/pound (cheaper would be better, though).

Even if a great steak is still better/worth eating, no one will say that fast food hamburger patties, taco bell mystery meat, etc. are in any way exemplars of amazing meat. If an animal is going to die for me to eat, it should be something like steak, not the lowest quality ground beef possible.

They're really smart going after the carnivore market.

riot504 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Do we really believe our body's are going to process 'fake meat' as 'real meat'? I am highly skeptical of that aspect as well. Moreover, we are removing a very natural element out of food (killing an animal for meat) out of the picture by growing meat in a lab, this is a very primal element that technology has forgotten.

The problem stems from current livestock farming practices. Fixing that problem is far easier than trying to create lab grown meat, and in the end will be healthier as it doesn't require a change in our biological system.

Plus food is not complicated. Humans have made it complicated over the last 50-60 years. Food has been a basic necessity of life, yet most struggle with every aspect related to food, from acquiring it to cooking it.

Don't get me wrong I see this type of innovation as being very important to long-term space travel or planet colonization but for everyday human consumption I view this as a waste of time and energy.

broahmed 1 day ago 0 replies      
Family member made me watch Cowspiracy on Netflix, a documentary on the effects/unsustainability of large-scale animal agriculture. I'm sure someone on HN can prove the movie wrong, but it did scare me into wanting to reduce my meat consumption. If these faux meats can be produced large-scale sustainably and with significantly less negative impact than raising the real meats, I'd say that's a win.
DINKDINK 1 day ago 0 replies      
I took part in a taste testing for a "revolutionary new vegetarian burger" in the past few months in the SF Bay Area. It was marketed for upscale locations.

That said, it was incredibly good to the point I asked one of the researchers who was making it so I could buy it. Unfortunately they couldn't disclose to me that information, maybe it was this product.

verisimilidude 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I love the science and I love watching these engineers get closer and closer to mimicking meat with each passing year. If they can succeed in creating a cheaper, tastier alternative to real meat, there could be untold benefits for both our health and the environment.

On the other hand, the article mentioned that this particular patty uses coconut oil. Well, I happen to be allergic to coconuts, so that leaves me out. I'm weary of encountering in daily life yet another highly engineered foodstuff that requires close scrutiny. I'm especially worried about eating something like this on accident someday, if they get close enough to the patina of the real meat, and having an allergic reaction.

There's a part of me that hopes the mimicry is a passing fad, and instead they use the techniques to create new tastes and experiences. That's more fun in general, and it's easier for guys like me to distinguish and avoid if needed.

lindseya 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a vegan, I'm very excited by this news because it might convince others to give it a try. Today someone told me that they recently ate a chicken burger at Veggie Grill and she didn't know until later that it was not chicken. She said at the time she thought, that was a really good chicken sandwich!
Sami_Lehtinen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Pulled Oats are also aiming for same market.http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/pulled-oats-are-newest-meat...
daveheq 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't the point of being a vegetarian to avoid eating meat? Then why would you want to eat vegetables that look and act like meat?

If you really prefer your food to look like meat, maybe you're not actually a vegetarian and your body is telling you to get some meat.

asciimo 1 day ago 0 replies      
The SF Bay Are Vegans in Technology meetup group organized a Future of Food panel last month featuring some local biotech companies in this space (http://www.sfvtech.org/oakvegtech). Memphis Meats is one of the SF Indie Bio accelerator companies that is working on cultured meat (http://sf.indiebio.co/mentor/memphis-meats/)
dharma1 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was a vegetarian from 14 to 32 or so. I think eating less meat (than most people currently do) is definitely desirable, both for the planet and your own health, but you don't need to stop eating meat altogether.

There is so much we don't yet understand about nutrition or metabolism that I would take a very low tech approach to diet. The more we process things the more chance there is of things going wrong.

I find it fascinating to look at diets of groups people who live relatively long and disease free lives. It's almost always minimally processed food

MarkMc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone is talking about the environmental effects, but what about the huge economic shifts that would come with the introduction of a viable meat substitute?

If the substitute is cheaper and tastier, a large chunk of the agricultural industry will disappear almost overnight. For many poor countries agriculture supports a large percentage of the workforce.

And if the company that develops the meat substitute can protect their manufacturing process from being copied through patents or simply keeping it a secret, then it will become enormously rich and powerful.

So you'll effectively have a transfer of wealth from poor farmers to a large US corporation on a massive scale.

Is that a good thing?

(And yes, I recognise that poor people will also benefit by having a cheaper source of 'meat')

qq66 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Last year, Impossible Foods turned down Google's offer to buy the company for $200 million to $300 million.

Looks like there isn't any business that Google won't get into.

kriro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like a pretty neat "engineering feat". I'll certainly try it if it ever becomes available here (I'm an avid meat eater and low&slow bbq lover).

Since I'm sure many vegetarians/vegans will read this thread I'm curious why so many v-products try to imitate the look and feel of meat. This has always startled me a bit. Why not create awesome new/distinct stuff instead of the typical "tofu shaped like a piece of meat" I see so often.

(apart from the fun engineering/optimizing aspect of recreating something with different ingredients which is fun).

mmgutz 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> By taking the soybean gene that encodes the heme protein and transferring it to yeast, the company has been able to produce vast quantities of the bloodlike compound.

GMO is OK now?

maerF0x0 1 day ago 2 replies      
IMO they need to not only replicate flavor, but also macro nutrient profiles and a few other things like omega3s and CLA found in grass fed beef.

I think we're better off cleaning up the meat industry than trying to make plants into meat. Fixing things like CAFOs and our corn subsidies could go a long way to a more sustainable meat.

icelancer 1 day ago 1 reply      
I feel like I see these posts regularly on HN and reddit from various companies with "meat killing" veggie meats, but they are never for sale. I sign up for the newsletters and no one ever has products for sale, just more hype. When can I try these?
bcheung 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish they kept the fat.

I try to eat Paleo / Ketogenic and it is so hard to find quality fat in foods because of an unjustified fear of fat.

Cholesterol is correlated with health issues in the same way that firemen are correlated with fires. It's not a causal relationship.

tracker1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tastes like meat is something I'm really doubtful of... Resembles the taste of meat maybe... but the coconut oil, while relatively mild definitely adds a definitive flavor. And while I appreciate the sentiment, saying something tastes like something else doesn't make it true. Similarly, I think bison tastes better than beef, and that alligator tastes better than chicken.

I'm also not sure if this is better than processing mealworms and similar actual meat that can be fed algae and mass-produced would be, if at all.

tobr 1 day ago 0 replies      
There seems to be a lot happening in this area lately.

There's a new soy based meat substitute called Oumph, which I believe is only available here in Sweden so far. The texture and taste is fantastic. It's the first time I've tried a meat immitation where I don't just feel like I should have gone for the real thing. I'm not a vegetarian but I've actually found myself buying it more often than real meat lately.

It wouldn't work in a burger though - it's more chicken or pork like.

billmalarky 1 day ago 0 replies      
From what I've previously read, the challenge isn't creating meat-alternatives that taste and smell like meat. The challenge is recreating the texture of meat.
step1profit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was excited when I saw the Impossible Foods burger on Hacker Newsmy wife, who's Hindu, could finally enjoy a what I've been enjoying for years I showed her the video and she said: "gross!" wtf lol
insaneirish 1 day ago 1 reply      
> And because it's plant-based, this "meat" has no cholesterol.

This statement is loaded with judgment. In response, I'd love if the author could provide some good data that shows a link between dietary cholesterol and blood serum cholesterol, let alone between dietary cholesterol and mortality.

mgraczyk 1 day ago 5 replies      
Interesting. As somebody who is not at all familiar with the "alternative meat" industry, my first question is, why not use real cow blood?

You wouldn't need to kill the animal to use its blood and you could extract more blood from an animal than meat. Presumably the environmental impact of a blood only farm would be substantially lower than that of a meat farm. Or is that not the case?

JulianMorrison 1 day ago 0 replies      
It sounds like they also have ended up producing synthetic blood. Someone should package that up for the vampire groupies.

Oh and incidentally, could it be developed into a medical blood replacement?

holri 1 day ago 0 replies      
Taste is also a matter of habituation.The easier, healthier and better solution is to learn to love natural vegetarien food. I went this way. I do not miss meat at all, although I ate a lot of it years ago.
orbitingpluto 1 day ago 1 reply      
Possible benefit. Less chance of food poisoning over real meat? If a cow has a soul it has been clearly exorcised in most fast food beef patties by the lengths they go to to make them safe.

Humorous but relevant: https://vimeo.com/18160094#t=665s

madengr 1 day ago 1 reply      
"So, he decided to use yeast instead. By taking the soybean gene that encodes the heme protein and transferring it to yeast, the company has been able to produce vast quantities of the bloodlike compound".

So it sold out at Whole Foods, and it's GMO. LMAO.

PerfectElement 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think most people are already 95% vegan, since they are against causing unnecessary suffering and inefficient resource management. The issue is that there's a variable level of sacrifice that goes into making a practical transition to plants.

For some, there's enough motivation to do it; for others, the inconvenience of changing habits and their emotional attachment to certain foods are greater than their desire to reduce animal suffering and environmental degradation.

I hope that plant meats become so close to animal meat that the complete experience can be replicated, except for the slaughtering. I know some people like the slaughtering part, but that's a small minority.

wfunction 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those of us looking for something similar that's actually in the market right now, what's the closest alternative?
joshfraser 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a content carnivore but have no problem enjoying vegetarian meals on a regular basis. I don't understand the market for fake meat. Give me a salad or give me a proper steak, but you can keep your slimy tofu substitute. Garden Fresh in Palo Alto, I'm looking at you.
placeybordeaux 1 day ago 0 replies      
No mention of what the price will be. The best way to get converts is to undercut the price of meat.
bnolsen 1 day ago 0 replies      
so being allergic to wheat, peas (beans) and parsley (celery, carrots, etc) all this stuff is pretty much poisonous. if they replace the wheat proteins perhaps...
fakemeatsubs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting topic. Not a vegetarian here, but when I'm eating outside the home I'll often act as one (no chicken/red meat. Fish/seafood acceptable but I'm not adventurous. Egg dairy okay). I went to a local chain restaurant that opened in a nearby shopping center that serves meat substitute. It's called lord of the fries (does this exist in other countries?). They dont specify on their website what substitute they use. My views (tried in burger form):

- Beef. This was terrible. Texture was best described as processed mush. Nothing like beef, even the processed type. The taste was worse. it was for some reason sweet. Didn't feel like I was eating beef at all. You'd fool no one with this. The appearance was convincing, but thats all the praise I had for it.

- Chicken: Actually pretty good. Friend was convinced it was real. It did taste pretty good, actually a little milder than 'real' chicken and without the sometimes unpleasant strong chicken-y taste (my opinion, im referring to the slight offputting taste that old/non-fresh chicken sometimes has). So i could definitely see the utility in this. It still didn't feel indinstinguishable, if you were paying attention I think you can tell the difference. Arbitrarily i'd give it a 90% there.

I havent seen the brands other posters discussed in my supermarket (Australia here). I wonder if meat substitutes are more of an American thing?

A point I wanted to bring up was safety. The experimental nature of these substitutes leaves me feeling a bit uneasy. The primary reason I never went back to the above discussed food outlet despite liking their fake-chicken was because I am unsure what is really inside it. Yes I know its vegetable based. My guess is soy protein? But how do I know that it's safe, for example too much soy milk has been shown to have increased estrogen like hormone and potentially a risk factor for cancers in females, and altered hormonal profile in males. Ideally I'd like to eat something that's been tested and through a strict approval process (treated like a pharmaceutical would get my confidence) to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot later. Yes I'm aware the verdict currently out on red meat isn't great either. But between chosing the devil I know vs the devil I don't know, i'd rather know what I'm getting myself into. Interested to hear what others think about this. I admit I'm not as knowledgeable with the regulatory processes for these things. I inherently dont trust companies on face value (they have too much conflict of interest, see tobacco companies or even meat companies for example). I've kept myself basically informed via documentaries, but so far it feels like we're all in an experimental phase.

logicallee 1 day ago 0 replies      
interesting, but

>chef Traci Des Jardins served the Impossible Burger (pictured uncooked) with vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, mashed avocado, caramelized onions, chopped cornichon, tomato and lettuce on a pretzel bun.

I think I'd probably enjoy a single postage stamp served in the above configuration (in place of the patty). Obviously my review of the postage stamp would be heavily influenced by these trimmings.

Given the rest of the article, they should have just browned it and served it on a $0.50 store-bought hamburger bun http://www.walmart.com/c/kp/hamburger-buns with some lettuce and ketchup.

Or is it not actually up to the task? The rest of the article fawns that it is, but they don't put their hamburger where the reviewer's mouth is. They put mashed avocado, carmelized onion, and chopped cornichon on a pretzel bun there.

mucker 1 day ago 0 replies      
No one has a problem with releasing hemoglobin producing yeast? No one? That sounds terrifying in that many _other_ industries rely on wild yeast.

This goes beyond the general case for GMO (where wild growth is generally crippled) and involves actively modifying the wider environment. This is a serious problem.

peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's disturbing how much they focus on blood and sizzling. I'm not a vampire. I just want something that tastes really good.

Honestly, if plant-eaters took a fraction of the time they take replicating meats and just spent it making tastier vegetables I think we'd all have different diets by now.

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope it becomes half the cost of meat.

That's the only motivation I fear will change people.

Maybe it will be like gasoline and it will double in price giving electric a chance to become more robust and popular/adopted.

exabrial 1 day ago 4 replies      
Believe it or not, some of us don't want to be vegans. I quite enjoy the taste of meat. I harvest my own by ethically hunting when I have the time. No I do not want a vegan substitute.
OOPMan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ahhhh vegans.

Hate meat.

Keep trying to replicate it.

Seems like a bit of a mental disconnect there.


I'm an omnivore.

alrs 1 day ago 2 replies      
If they can do it close to zero carbohydrates per serving, I'm in.

If they can't, it's just another over-processed frankenfood greasing the slicks to a diabetic future.

riot504 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why waste all this money and time designing something that is great the way it is? Give a cow some land, feed it some grass, wait a few months, kill the cow and now you have real beef. Nature intended it to be this way.
The Monaco Code Editor microsoft.github.io
720 points by algorithmsRcool  2 days ago   169 comments top 27
tiles 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does anyone know on a technical level why the Monaco editor feels so much faster than the Atom editor? Is there any mechanism Microsoft is employing that Atom could adopt, or are the two editors that fundamentally different?
satysin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sigh I select C and it gives me C++. That perfectly sums up Microsoft's attitude to C :(
tracker1 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's pretty nice seeing the work to bring this out of VS Code, IIRC it started as a separate project for Visual Studio Online, but embedded/enhanced as part of VS Code.

Either way, it's definitely one of the better performing code editors in JS/Browser usage. For that matter VS Code works surprisingly well compared to Brackets and Atom.

lobster_johnson 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks pretty great. I've been frustrated trying to implement ACE in a project for Markdown support; it turned out to not work on iOS and Android at all, and it has a ton of bugs elsewhere, too. I ditched it for CodeMirror, which turned out to be nearly as bad on mobile.

A quick test shows that Monaco does work on iOS, although there's apparently no selection support within the editor. Surprisingly, double space produces "." as it should, but it seems iOS autocompletion doesn't work (not sure if it can be enabled).

amasad 2 days ago 1 reply      
The JavaScript IntelliSense support looks really solid. Does it use TypeScript under the hood for type inference?

Also, any plans to add intellisense support for other languages?

numlocked 2 days ago 1 reply      
I maintain an open source project for writing SQL queries[0] that currently uses codemirror. I find it a little sluggish to load. This looks like it could be a good option -- the one thing that would make it a codemirror killer for me is the ability to resize the editor window; something text areas obviously natively support, but codemirror does not. Any idea if Monaco does?

[0] https://github.com/groveco/django-sql-explorer

kentor 2 days ago 1 reply      
how does this compare to ace editor[0]?

[0]: https://ace.c9.io/

pkill17 2 days ago 2 replies      
In their diff example, line 33 on the left and 35 on the right are shown to be unchanged, however the indent isn't the same... Seems like they've hardcoded this example incorrectly unless I'm missing something? Left line 32 is removing a bracket at indent level 2, left line 33 is unchanged bracket at indent level 1, but there's now one less bracket at level 1 in the right side, even though no bracket at level 1 was removed?
sdegutis 2 days ago 1 reply      
<off-topic> You know, my first thought was that it's weird for the scroll bar to disappear like that. My instinct is that I want to know what part of the document I'm on. But then I remember that I have (scroll-bar-mode -1) in Emacs, so I guess I don't really care that much. </div>
rattray 2 days ago 4 replies      
Very impressed with the diff-editing feature.

... turns out there's a similar package for Atom: https://atom.io/packages/split-diff

Mahn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Surprisingly responsive for a web based editor, really well done. I guess it's time to give VS Code a try!
ruste 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I had to pick any single example of C code to put the fear of god in young programmers and make sure that they never wanted to touch C in their life, the example on this page would be it. That is the single ugliest piece of C I have ever seen. C can be a beautiful language. This is not that. I take it this is Microsofts fancy new checked C?
Secretmapper 2 days ago 5 replies      
Even Micrsoft doesn't use IE. Their github's screenshot uses Google Chrome... in incognito.

EDIT: I'm actually getting downvoted. This statement is just made in jest people, chill :)

rsrsrs86 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just downloaded Code. Looks pretty fast. Really like the integrated terminal!
nilved 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting choice for the name since that is Apple's monospace font.
ausjke 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://ace.c9.io/ ACE has been the choice for many, how does Monaco compares to?
petemill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting choice of names - Monaco was the name[1] of their web-based Visual Studio editor that looked very similar to Visual Studio Code, except it came a couple of years earlier. It's pretty clear they're the same evolution of code

[1] https://dzone.com/articles/first-look-visual-studio

deanclatworthy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone got this on a CDN yet? I can't find an actual github repo on github that contains a bundled JS file?
Matthias247 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there some documentation of how to integrate some kind of intellisense for a custom language to it and not only syntax highlighting?

I might need to integrate an editor for a custom DSL into a webapp soon, and Monaco could of course be an interesting alternative to codemirror or ACE.

leeoniya 2 days ago 0 replies      
btw, if anyone has some time (i don't unfortunately, since the env setup is pretty lengthy [1]), it would be great to be able to disable the always-on semantic highlighting [2].

[1] https://github.com/Microsoft/vscode/wiki/How-to-Contribute

[2] https://github.com/Microsoft/vscode/issues/5351

GreaterFool 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just tried the editor in Opera and I have a strange issue where the cursor inverts and turns gigantic when I hover over some elements (line numbers for instance)
blahi 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if RStudio can switch to this. Probably will never happen :(
undoware 2 days ago 1 reply      
The dropdown language picker is busted (at least in Chrome). It's got an off-by-one (or possibly 2) bug.

i.e. Pick 'javascript', it shows JS below... but says 'less'.

shirro 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is the key to get out of insert mode and into normal mode?
profeta 2 days ago 4 replies      
you see github is dead when even microsoft moves faster than they do.

Still waiting to be able to have decent by 1970 standards code diff on their site.

benologist 2 days ago 3 replies      
Web based vscode in 10 ... 9 ...
rodionos 2 days ago 1 reply      
How is it different from notepad++?
The Fathers of the Internet Urge Todays Software Engineers to Reinvent the Web ieee.org
641 points by jonbaer  3 days ago   227 comments top 43
pfraze 3 days ago 6 replies      
Ok, a lot of people don't know the context for this.

Last week, the Internet Archive ran the Decentralized Web Summit. It was an opportunity for new projects [1] to gather with prominent people in the industry [2]. It was productive and very fun. It also resulted in a bunch of news pieces, like this one, which have been hitting the HN FP for a week. Some of those articles have been better than others; a lot of them feel like fluff to me. (There are some semi-interesting bullet points buried at the bottom of this one.)

What was interesting, was the level of focused energy that this event was showing. The Internet Archive did a great job organizing it, and the speakers were compelling, but the real drive came from the different teams that were present. The news orgs all focus on "Recognizable name calls for new Web," but those speakers only offered spiritual guidance to something that's moving entirely on its own. And, I think they'd be the first to say so.

There was plenty of self-awareness and open discussion. Kahle gave a good talk at the end of day 1, where he pointed out that nobody quite knows what the end-user's interest is here. Are we talking about "open-source websites?" What's the big picture? Doctorow, Baker, Kahle, and Lee all talked about values. Cerf talked about Named Data Networking, which is about content-addressing, an idea that's definitely at the heart of the new work. Zooko threw cold water on everybody ("Is this just 1999 again?"). It was very interesting. A lot of it is online [3]

1 IPFS, Dat, WebTorrent, ZeroNet, InterLedger, MediaChain, Neocities, many others

2 Vint Cerf, Mitchell Baker, Tim Berners Lee, Brewster Kahle, Cory Doctorow, many others. RMS even made an appearance.

3 http://www.decentralizedweb.net/

dang 3 days ago 3 replies      
Before posting something dismissive about this, please remember how easy it would have been to dismiss the internet and the web themselves as things that couldn't ever happen, nice visions but impossible in the real world, etc. etc. and so on.

When the people who actually made these things talk about what needs making next, we should hear them with an open mind, not rush to think of objections.

sanderjd 3 days ago 7 replies      
> That utopian leveling of society, the reinvention of the systems of debate and governmentwhat happened to that?

Only speaking personally, what happened for me was that I noticed that these utopian online communities that we reinvented are not really particularly wonderful because a lot of the loudest people in such communities are really nasty people with really nasty things to say. On the other hand, the internet has proven incredibly useful for enabling people to keep up their deep high-trust relationships (usually forged offline) across longer distances and more life changes. It makes me a bit sad too, but it doesn't appear that being open and distributed is an important ingredient in building these types of communities, as Facebook, WhatsApp, and others have shown.

It's always amazing to me how much more down on technology we technologists seem to be than the majority of people I know, who just think it's amazing that they can stay so connected with their friends and family all the time. If I told them that Tim Berners-Lee is bummed that they're sharing pictures and liking posts instead of creating their own web pages, they wouldn't understand why, and I don't think I could really explain it to them (or myself).

Animats 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Web has already been reinvented, but not in the direction that Bernars-Lee wants. We have HTTP2 running everything through one pipe to big sites. We have Javascript that puts the site in control of the user's machine and makes web pages display-only, like PostScript.More than half of all traffic is coming from the top 10 sites. The federated systems, email, IRC, and Usenet, have been replaced by Gmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook.
jokoon 3 days ago 4 replies      
Whatever the solution is, I really believe data must be on user's devices, not on proprietary servers.

Open source won the battle of software. The next battle will be about data itself.

It surely implies very hard problems when it comes to standardization and how data is exchanged. It might involve something like flatbuffers. How data is exchanged, what rights you have on it, how it is made secure, there are no ubiquitous idea or software that can reinvent the web because network programming is just hard and it wont change soon.

What I think could really be relevant is a database that syncs itself like the kinds of bittorrent sync and syncthing. Once you have atomic data that is spread across users, nobody needs to rent servers, and the data belongs to the users. That is a true and real way to reinvent the web, it also solves some of the controversial problems of the internet: advertising and surveillance.

pudo 3 days ago 5 replies      
The argument to re-decentralise the web wildly confuses economic, technical and political concerns. The reason that Facebook runs a centralised system isn't that it cannot figure out a technical alternative, it does so for economic reasons. To assume that making incremental advances in decentralised technologies will somehow fundamentally alter those economics is wishful thinking.

Instead, we need to recognise the fact that all of this is not ultra-new and never-seen-before, but rather an issue of market failure and growing monopolies and that there's an existing mechanism to deal with it: government regulation.

We can treat Facebook & co as utilities, as monopolies - there's a whole range of regulatory options and those in relevant agencies could really use the help of the tech community to figure out how to apply these tools.

Instead, the web community is out on the playground building DHT sandcastles with a bitcoin moat. Let's grow up.

z3t4 3 days ago 2 replies      
The web is already decentralized, but lack the convenience of Facebook et al. where you have a virtual identity, a friend list and can choose who get access to your images etc.

This can however be accomplished with something like SSH keys, where your "friend" list is basically a list of public keys. And a small daemon that will let "friends" make queries like "is this a friend or a friend", etc.

With a identity system in place, other things get more easy to solve, like spam, and micro-payments based on chain-of trust and reputation.I also think it would be fairly easy to implement in current web tech like browsers and http servers, e-mail servers, and chat services.

Note that your id will only be a hash (public key), and you will thus be anonymous until you tell others that this is you, and the client software could also ask the user before giving it away to a server.

It would also work with something like TOR, where your IP is hidden, and the hash is your fingerprint, witch you can change whenever you want.

danjoc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have they forgotten an important area in need of decentralization? I didn't see any mention of the internet networks in the article. The network is currently very centralized. Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, etc. Communities need to own their network, not rent it from a giant corporation. I can't run my own server, because my ISP says I have to pay extra for business class. All they've done is block ports on the network to my home. Municipal fiber and wifi networks have actually been outlawed by these big companies in various places around the country. When the network itself prevents running peer nodes, I don't see how any amount of software running on top of that will help.
doublerebel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think there is a ton of validity in this desire and I've collected a long list of projects, articles, and leaders that are pointing towards a similar conclusion.

Most of us are too deep into the status quo or our view of technology to break in a different direction. Most of the projects so far aim to reinvent "from the ground up" like Urbit or IPFS -- which is an impressive goal but misses what I think is the main point: the average person should be able to grok and contribute to the Internet. We can do that with the simple tools already included with every computer. Ground-up can come later.

I think that posting global knowledge should be as accessible as posting to Twitter. And sharing that knowledge should be as simple as email or Airdrop. This is what I've been working towards with Optik.io. It's in stealth but I'm always looking for like-minded people to join with to achieve such a knowledge freedom for all of us.

michaelfeathers 3 days ago 1 reply      
The deep learning is that there are forces that lead to centralization: generally they are variations of human choice and seeking economies of scale.

For instance, it's no accident that we started with hundreds of thousands of small websites and ended with most traffic going to a few. Ask yourself how the internet could have been constructed that would have prevented sites like Facebook or Twitter winning the popularity contest. The 'Power Law' dynamics behind this are the same ones that lead to some airports being hubs and others not, the fact that there is a backbone rather than everything going point-to-point, and many other phenomena.

We can have decentralization but there are costs. Someone has to pay them.

LukeB42 3 days ago 2 replies      

I'm working on something else right now but when it's feature complete I'll port synchrony to Go.The plan is to give full consideration to potential pitfalls of multiple overlay networks, the contacts list, and of course peer-to-peer streaming hypermedia.

"ENABLE_WEB_APP" is also going to be a configfile option.

Users should also be able to modify a list of domains they won't utilise overlay networks for.

It will also have to perform the necessary alpha transforms on javascripts to prevent them from modifying the proxys' interfaces' objects whilst presenting a public API, so that in-network resources can do friends list operations for things to the tune of "network/nodeid/uid would like to play grand theft space wizards with you".

textmode 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can the "Fathers of the Internet" offer a financial incentive or even a stipend to nerds that want to work on these projects?

I was reading a book a while ago on peer-to-peer technologies written some years ago and there was a chapter by a very talented, well-known programmer.

Today, like Cerf, he's on the Google payroll. Needlesss to say he will not be working diligently on releasing finished projects that help to decentralize the web.

krapp 3 days ago 2 replies      
>Think about some sort of publish/subscribe system, in which a web-page creator can regularly hit a publish command that makes it available for archiving, and various web archives can subscribe to receive updates

This seems like something we could (should?) have right now. Maybe IA should write a Wordpress plugin, if they haven't?

>Think about creating an archive of software as well, that perhaps may have to include emulations of defunct hardware and operating systems to make the Web always backwards compatible.

A site that archives software and runs it in js-based emulators sounds like a great idea. It would probably be illegal, though. And it almost certainly wouldn't work properly for everyone, as long as it depended on the browser. But still a great idea. That any runtime and software can have a URL is incredibly compelling.

Maybe we need to leave the browser model for documents and come up with something else for using what amounts to streaming software?

>Change the naming system, and stop thinking of the URL as a locationits a name, a format he picked to look like a Unix file name simply because people were comfortable with that.

YES. No TLDs, just unique arbitrary strings.

tmpanon1234act 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can say with some confidence that the blame lies almost entirely with the stewards. Until we learn how to converge faster towards consensus, things are going to remain painfully broken for long stretches of time. The inhibitor here isn't technological and it has nothing to do with the people on the ground relying on the web. It has to do with how things get run at a top level.
GroSacASacs 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Lee and other speakers at the event pointed out a key problem of the Web today is its ephemeral nature

Why is it a problem exactly ? If something great appears on the web it will be shared, saved and discussed and not forgotten. If something is useless or bad, it will be lost when the server stops, and that's good right ?

Same happened with paper books the last 2000 years, great one were replicated, shared etc. others went lost.

Not every website has open useful data for the long term.

tracker1 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm thinking that there is a lot to look forward to when the browsers start supporting the likes of IPFS, along with some DNS hints for IPFS nodes... perhaps something similar to a CNAME record, that points a DNS name to an IPFS published directory... Although, that would need a relatively low TTL, as it should be possible to publish, then update said reference quickly.
jlg23 3 days ago 2 replies      
* The technology for a lot of things is there (e.g. diaspora instead of facebook, etherpad instead of google docs) but hosting these costs money. And people don't want to pay and they don't understand they currently pay with their data/privacy.

* Making the data behind a commercial site open is a great, noble idea - but all of the current big, consumer facing players make money with the customer data. They have no incentive to open their data.

* Big players have absolutely no incentive to inter-operate with new competitors and this means that those who use new, decentralized services have to maintain two identities or lose contacts.

I think the only thing that has a chance to get us out of this is intervention by the government:

a) Make running your own node a human right.

b) Give every person on the planet a free node if they cannot afford one (paid for but not controlled by governments).

c) Make IPv6 mandatory (so b can work)

d) Subsidize open source efforts that enable us to have a virtual presence hosted on our own node, interconnected with our friends' nodes.

e) Elevate all electronic communication to the legal status of snail mail: If your MTA blocks my host, you have to have a damn good (security) reason, tell me exactly why and timely unblock me when I have fixed the problem (Yes, AT&T and 1&1, I am talking to you.)

f) Enforce net neutrality.

g) Force current big players to allow machine readable, convenient exports of user generated content by the user.

hNewsLover99 3 days ago 1 reply      
So... these internet-founding Einsteins actually think that Bitcoin should be a part of "our" future Utopian web? Well what do they (and all the other blockchain fan-kiddies) think of the fact that Bitcoin has now replaced Western Union as the preferred getaway car for ransomware and other extortionists around the world?

Businesses, universities, and even hospitals whose critical activities grind to a halt at financial gunpoint, and who are advised by law enforcement to roll over and pay up because nothing can be done for them - must be delighted to know that the tools of their demise are so "Utopian".

The internet isn't never was and never will be securable. Even the most resourced orgs are unable to defend their data. The founding fathers of the internet and W3C should admit this, apologize, and stop holding out false hope for the future.

skywhopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some good ideas, but I find some of them at odds with the rhetoric. Decentralize the web with new centralized naming and archive systems. Come up with new ways of doing things that there are already multiple failed solutions for.

Separate content and presentation layers, URLs as names, open pub/sub systems--these all have good solutions. They haven't failed to catch on because the technology wasn't there.

Anyway, to a large extent we already have a re-invented, private, encrypted, Bitcoin-funded, de-centralized web. It's called Tor, and it's not always very pretty.

LinuxFreedom 3 days ago 0 replies      
What is the current state of diaspora and similar things?

Is there a cough centralized collection of decentralized software alternatives, like an "awesome-decentralized-net" on cough even harder github?


rajanchandi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess it's time to do away with the web (as it is) and build something entirely 'ephemeral' without that heavy HTTP protocol and 'web pages'. The new thing should be real-time by default and work across web/mobile. Ephemerality is the best way to protect privacy and real-time is the best way to create an amazing experience!
yugai 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think Internet is great in it's current state. The most popular sites are among the worst in my opinion, but there are others. Internet offers diversity. Internet would be pretty much the same without Google, Facebook and Apple because there are equivalent alternatives out there.
manju_sharma 3 days ago 0 replies      
extra credit if we can make it that people can make money by publishing without going through a third party.

Why is Google sponsoring this event?! Won't they lose big chunk of revenue if this happens

qwertyuiop924 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not optimistic for this effort succeeding, but it's doing the right things to make sure that success happens eventually. Instead of having a big get-the-corporations-to-work-with-us feel, this very much had the "screw it, let's do this shit" feel. It doesn't guarantee success, but no technical project ever succeeded by having people sit around talking.
carlsborg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Re-posting a link to the key part of Tim Berners-Lee's talk at the summit:


Rathor1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think we should reinvent the net, in its present day shape it wasn't supposed to be monetized or for statistics mining. I'm certainly frightened of the internet 2.0
bertan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Aral Balkan and his small team are already working to develop a p2p web and they need help and funding.

[1] https://ind.ie

ionised 3 days ago 0 replies      
They can't reinvent the web, they are too busy coming up with ways to fill the current incarnation with advertisements.
zkhalique 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's funny, they are basically describing our platform.


aboveL4w 3 days ago 1 reply      
security flaws are racking up like crazy. the dom was designed for the 1990s. it will happen. but its going to be one hard transition. we all know how hard small scale migrations can be. now consider that on the scale of the internet. they need to enforce new password schemas, disable capchats , they are irritating and mak eppp leave and bots get by them anyway, and windows needs to fix their api. you can never fix a bug before someone exploits it, but you design standards that force the user to follow best practices and force tech giants to stop using oaml. vulnerabilities on large traffic sites should be jail time for the person responsible. i may just active my vpn and use tor for now on for everything, compromise my bandwidth to protect my information. btw, im sure all the cloud competition does not share data with affiliates to profit enabling black hat to exploit and use targeting techniques to launch dox attacks against individuals. im not a sec major. just my 2 bytes. also, critical 0 days need an amber alert like system that forces you to change all affected sites.
tylerlarson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't build all of this by myself but I would be happy to help.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
What is the web, essentially? Connection. Connecting communication, connecting content, connecting media, connecting communities, connecting trade. The Web is designed to connect things.

The web is already decentralized; just ask anyone who was at one time restricted to the "online service providers" like AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. But whether or not the web is decentralized, it still connects things. I don't think decentralization will improve the connections; rather, as anyone who has ever run a large network will tell you, decentralization causes almost as many problems as it solves.

In many ways, making the web more decentralized could make it easier to defeat its simple design and raise new problems. So to my mind, we need to be addressing more specific challenges and design with the intent to address those challenges, and not simply to make change for change's sake, the way most technological improvements have haphazardly occurred.

As a very simple example of the decentralization of the web, let's look at the real new Web: mobile application platforms. On Apple's platform, pornography is not allowed. This is the result of the kind of "social protections" that our societies have traditionally been governed by. But if this was instead totally decentralized, there could be the potential for "harming children" and other persons sensitive to certain content, and as a result, governments both local and around the world may enact laws forbidding certain content on the network, or even the whole network itself.

Is the loss of certain content like pornography - specifically in a _centralized_ marketplace like the Apple Store - worth the access to such a large marketplace of content and applications? Or should we tempt society at large with unrestricted access to content? One could argue that if we were not so dependent on the internet already, modern uses could have resulted in it being banned around the globe long ago.

Here's an example of a targeted solution: an open platform, with subscriber-specific controls. Imagine a universal mobile network and platform, so apps would just run on Android, iOS, etc. But now, to find and access the applications, you would pay $1.99 a month to a company that curates the content for you. Less of what you consider garbage, more practical content. And you could use the company that restricts pornography, or the company that promotes totally unrestricted content. Suddenly there is both increased freedom, choice, and universal compatibility.

Then there's questions of how connected we really want to be. YouTube comments and Twitter are some examples that to me exemplify the kind of harsh environment that the human mind is capable of creating. Will decentralizing the web further result in an increase in this kind of damaging combination of anonymity and unrestricted communication? Is humanity really ready to have an unrestricted, unlimited form of connection?

Now keeping that in mind, let's imagine a new decentralized web: platforms that provide the same content in different ways. Imagine being able to browse YouTube comments, and only see the ones flagged as positive, uplifting, and helpful - but not by YouTube users, but anyone who used that specific browsing platform. You could choose a platform that conforms with your particular world view, and thus see primarily content that you agree with. But wouldn't this simply breed new forms of closed societies that don't take into account things that you don't like, or information you wouldn't have normally wanted to see or hear? Could this not actually set humanity back by reducing exposure to the parts of life we may not like, but are ultimately real and part of society?

We are as flawed as we are complex, and the unforeseen side-effects of the changes we implement will affect the future of how humanity is connected. I think we should tread carefully.

mxuribe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I - for one - am quite excited about this future!
tootie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Their goals seem at odds with the economic incentives in the entire developed world. It's a beautiful dream, but we're not sufficiently civilized to make it reality.
pasbesoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
cough physical layer cough
sidcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Seif project is an attempt in that direction
ObeyTheGuts 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maidsafe is comming dont worry!
kowdermeister 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I don't see among the raised call to action questions is "who pays the bills"? It's a very important question that explains the existence of silos they feel sad about.

The number of people using the internet won't shrink, but grow steadily. Facebook, Google has enormous operating costs and if they want to offer an alternative, a better future, those costs (at least bandwidth) should be factored in. The infrastructure is not free, but Facebook and Google users are not paying for it now (well, not with money). But imagine if we say that hey, here's the new web, it's awesome: it's decentralized, privacy is baked in and works everywhere. You just have to pay 0.01 to access the New York Times. Per page. Then it would be a different situation if costs are not baked in the beginning.

Then there's video. Gazillion of videos are created per day and it grows exponentially as devices get better and better at recording ultra high resolution. Now, again, YouTube pays the bills and users get it in exchange for watching advertising. How do you want to offer an at least as good service as YouTube, but decentralized, privacy concerned and universally accessible and free?

What I see here is a problem that really exists, but the proposed radical new solutions are a bit misguided. You won't convince people with a sub par (but technically better) alternative you have to propose a iPhone level of wow, because only then you can get people's attention.

> Change the naming system, and stop thinking of the URL as a locationits a name, a format he picked to look like a Unix file name simply because people were comfortable with that.

That's a problem again, most people use Windows. Don't assume that the end users will instantly "get it" because it's more Unix like. This leads my to the next point.

Another question I haven't seen raised is User Experience. UX. Today's web is rather good at it, at least the top players embrace it very well. Most company websites now pay attention to get it somewhat right. Startups also pay a lot of effort to get UX right.

How about baking in good UX too to the new web? Today I only need to buy a $500 phone and I'm ready to consume the web. How? I type in a string and the rest is magically handled for me. I can read, watch anything. Can yo do the same with the decentralized web? I don't want to install anything, nor download terabytes of blockchain data, no encrypted distributed filesystem of somebody else's cat videos, waiting for hours to sync in. I also don't want pay for hosting somebody else's cat videos. Torrents work well for TV shows, but what would it look like on YouTube scale?

That's they key part here. To have a radically new internet, getting technologies right doesn't stop at replacing HTTP, HTML, CSS, DNS... you need to replace ISP-s and infrastructure providers too or at lest factor them in so that the new system is not born dead.

nickpsecurity 3 days ago 0 replies      
Alright, a lot of statements made by bright people. Now, lets evaluate them one-by-one to see which get praise or reality checks. :)

re silo effect

Schneier calls this the Feudal Model of Security or Convenience with nice write-up here:


We can also look at it as a form of lock-in. In any case, recent discussions on Elsevier and other scientific publishers shed light on where it might take us. Many academics gripe about not knowing the state-of-the-art or even prior work in their field since they can't afford access to the silos its stored in. Many, despite being customers of Elsevier et al, rushed to download all kinds of stuff from Sci-Hub when it appeared. Now lets imagine that effect applied to most knowledge or content to see how bad it could be for progress of both knowledge and society. Let's, if not paywalled, think of how restricted search and selective promoting can create similar effects by preventing people from connecting dots or even experiencing new things. Then, we see that the siloing could have tremendous, negative impact on people in many ways. Better to switch to something similar to old web where all kinds of content appeared, was easily accessible, and easy to build on.

re trading privacy for free stuff is a myth

It's actually a reality given users dumped their freedom, privacy, and paid offerings in mass for ad-supported, web content/services. The demand side of this was so strong and so many experimental alternatives failed that providers were largely pushed in the direction of ad-support just to survive. It also came with significant, financial rewards. Good write-up here:


So, he needs to quit pretending people are ignoring some solution that works in favor of ad-supported, free-for-users content in a target market that almost exclusively goes with ad-supported offerings. The rational choice is to do what works in a market or with given demand. If they want privacy, they can pay for it or take steps to get it. It's why I have a paid, MyKolab account w/ GPG keyring. Many others used Fastmail or Lavabit for years. Yet, vast majority uses surveillance platforms (eg Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft) that sell them out to advertisers but also reliably handle the email on the side. I can't remember the market share but I put money that it massively contradicts those arguing against ad model in terms of what people actually do versus what they say.

re sites blinking on and off. Big problem. Needs to be eliminated in next architecture or at least Wayback Machine-style thing with greater integration/convienience. Think snapshots or rollbacks at the browser level.

re sketchy privacy controls. User's fault. They didn't care in practice. They do business with scumbags whose whole model is selling them out and who have a string of abuses. Most won't pay even $2 for private messaging app or $5/mo for private email. Yet, they gripe about privacy issues. I say stick with self-selection plus reboot a simpler, effective model for evaluation of product/service privacy or security along lines of Common Criteria. Security experts, esp experienced in realities of fielded programs, would contribute to it from many different countries to reduce risk of subversion or simply unworkable ideas. Baseline of features & assurance activities critical to privacy and security of product or service plus independent review they're implemented & trusted distribution. Nothing more unless company volunteers as differentiator.

re Vint Cerf. Good ideas across the board with products/services actively attempting to deliver all of them except copyright. That one isn't legal yet, though. The pub-subscribe is a decent idea given there's many robust implementations, even high-assurance schemes, for that sort of thing. Even military is deploying something like that now with at least one high-security demonstrator (below). Commercial/FOSS sector has things like ZeroMQ, which has other benefits. Much field experience out there in doing it right. The older & more field-proven something is, the more likely it will work right the next time. Tried and true beats novel and new.


Note: DTIC is another source of wisdom in terms of old papers with great ideads or implementations in them if you know how to find them. Can't help there but keep the DTIC link to anything you find that doesn't have a steady link elsewhere. DTIC link usually stays available longer than average website. CiteseerX and obviously archive.org as well.

re Lee. His idea on URL has been implemented many times over. Just doesn't get acceptance due to bootstrapping problem where all the web browsers have to support the alternative but they're not adding something with little demand most of the time. Dot-archive is nice and could integrate with archive.org. Might even do it with a small fee that simultaneously supports archive.org (or its replacement) plus gives clean link in return similar to subdomains or shortcut links. "Surface the data" is idea behind Semantic Web. It was largely a failure. Market went with API's instead. They're probably better but mixing two might create interesting hybrids.

re Kahle. Decentralized clouds like Amazon definitely worth imitating. Google applied principle to RDBMS's nicely with F1 RDBMS. Awesome stuff. JavaScript will be necessary evil due to market share, ASM.JS, and so on. However, still room for another Flash to happen across a significant chunk of market if done well enough. Don't think of blockchains as about every goal we've listed has been solved in isolation & sometimes decentralized without them. Its inefficent alternative. Now, Merkle or hash trees will likely be useful at some point. Keybase.io & others working on public key angle. That "Wordpress" and "Wordpress alternative" are typed into Google many times a week make his last point solid. Even Freenet and I2P support forms of blogging.

re Doctorow. Vulnerability research being legal is a must. "Computer obeys owners" is a good principle but lay owners vs technical attackers make that a weakness. Feudal model gives up control for safety with good results on Apple, etc. So, maybe an override the user can activate locally or maybe physically. I'm still a fan of jumpers or physical switches for write-protect of critical storage. :)

So, that's my take on these statements.

johan_larson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too much rough consensus. Not enough running code.
teraformer 3 days ago 2 replies      
Job 1: Advertising interests be damned, this mass surveillance thing has got to go.
tsunamifury 3 days ago 4 replies      
Most of these guys are a disconnected from where the global market is going and are proposing preposterous ideas for west coast tech scenes own problems.

The web was based on a Western educational reference model that is not the normal mode for 3/4ths of the planet.

The new web would need to be pushed based, not pull based. It would need to be need to be instantly authorable and aware of people and devices, Not document based.

In Newly Created Life-Form, a Major Mystery quantamagazine.org
531 points by DiabloD3  1 day ago   133 comments top 20
davnn 1 day ago 15 replies      
TL;DR: Venter and his collaborators originally set out to design a stripped-down genome based on what scientists knew about biology....With the right tools finally in hand, the researchers designed a set of genetic blueprints for their minimal cell and then tried to build them. Yet not one design worked,"...So the team took a different and more labor-intensive tack, replacing the design approach with trial and error. They disrupted M. mycoides genes, determining which were essential for the bacteria to survive....Venter is careful to avoid calling syn3.0 a universal minimal cell. If he had done the same set of experiments with a different microbe, he points out, he would have ended up with a different set of genes....In fact, theres no single set of genes that all living things need in order to exist....They found that not a single gene is shared across all of life. There are different ways to have a core set of instructions,...Venters minimal cell is a product not just of its environment, but of the entirety of the history of life on Earth....He and others are trying to make more basic life-forms that are representative of these earlier stages of evolution....Some scientists say that this type of bottom-up approach is necessary in order to truly understand lifes essence. If we are ever to understand even the simplest living organism, we have to be able to design and synthesize one from scratch,...We are still far from this goal.

As @sixQuarks has already written, finding the minimal amount of genes when there are 175 unknown ones and you don't know anything about their dependencies and relationships seems to be pretty much impossible.

> In fact, theres no single set of genes that all living things need in order to exist. ... They found that not a single gene is shared across all of life.

That's the most interesting point to me, I deeply believed that organisms share the same basic set of genes.

no_flags 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting work, but it reminds me of the famous "Could a biologist fix a radio?" paper [1]. The paper imagines biologists trying to determine what parts of a radio are essential using a similar trial and error technique. As you can imagine, this technique would lead to many erroneous conclusions, especially when paired with the "publish or perish" and "gold rush" mentalities so prevalent in academia. It makes you wonder if we are trying to understand biological systems with a fundamentally wrong approach.

[1] https://www.cmu.edu/biolphys/deserno/pdf/can_a_biologist_fix...

sixQuarks 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm afraid it's not the individual genes themselves that are important to life, but a specific combination of those genes. Further complicating the problem is that we have no idea how many genes comprise an "essential group". Is it a combination of 2 genes? 3, 5, 10?

When you're talking about 175 unknown genes, the combination of all of these is a huge number. It's like finding a needle in a haystack the size of the solar system.

I don't think this brute force approach is going to work, we need a different way to figure this out, but I'm confident that once figured out, it will seem simple looking back on it.

daemonk 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder how they removed the genes? I am not an expert in microbiology. I work with mainly eukaryotes, but I am guessing intergenic distances are not a huge factor here? What about spatial arrangement of the genes? Did they generally leave that alone?

Genes are not independent functional modules. Their placement and arrangement on the genome matters. Did they only mess with coding features (genes)? Or did they also mess with other genomic features? Or do such things just not matter with bacteria?

kazinator 23 hours ago 1 reply      
That's like forking someone's program, but not understanding two thirds of the code. (What's the big deal? It happens!)

If you take someone's 4000-5000 line program and whittle it down to 473 lines which are still somehow useful, "newly created" doesn't apply in full honesty, let alone if you don't know what a third of those lines do.

darawk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great. This is the proper engineering approach to understanding life. Whittle it down to the minimal reproducing test-case, and poke it with a stick until you understand what all the parts do.

This is just excellent science. It seems like it should be very easy to get these unknown genes to reveal their function now. Very exciting times.

sevenless 1 day ago 6 replies      
I find it fascinating we still don't really know how life works. I have a hunch we are going to find the large scale 3D structure of the chromosome is a big deal, and these genes regulate it. There aren't many good tools to study chromosome structure and it's quite possible there's a whole layer of information we've missed so far.
fauigerzigerk 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Forgive my complete ignorance, but how do they even count genes? Given a very long string of base pairs, how is it possible to know where one gene ends and the next one begins? Do genes overlap?
haberman 20 hours ago 2 replies      
How much information is 473 genes? How many bytes does this represent, in a compact but "raw" encoding? What about if you compressed it with gzip?

Also what are the raw/compressed sizes for a human genome?

I have wondered this for a long time but never seem to find a concrete answer.

rgtk 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
That should be us.
meursault334 1 day ago 1 reply      
Article summary and Article http://www.cba.mit.edu/docs/papers/16.04.minimal.pdf

edit: appears to be the full article (scroll down past summary)

misiti3780 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Has anyone else here read Nick Lane's new book - The Vital Question - I just finished it and this article really seems like a continuation of some of his theories he talks about.

I found about the book from HN, and have since bought every single other book by him, almost done with Life Ascending now, which is also amazing

callesgg 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If the cell had a log it would be filled to the brink with warnings and errors :)

Thinking if it like:Just remove files from the OS until it wont start :)

otto_ortega 21 hours ago 2 replies      
"The function of 79 genes is a complete mystery.'We don't know what they provide or why they are essential for life maybe they are doing something more subtle, something obviously not appreciated yet in biology' "

It is the activation key God puts on each living being... Ain't gonna work without it. =P

LionessLover 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The actual study can be accessed for free on "The Pirate-Bay of Science publications" Sci-Hub:


About Sci-Hub: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub

coldcode 23 hours ago 2 replies      
If I were a biology/biochem/genetics/etc type of student today this is exactly what I would love to work on. Perhaps someday we will actually understand how life works. That's both exciting and incredibly scary.
drabiega 22 hours ago 1 reply      
My take-away: Work like this is somewhat akin to attempting to determine the specification of Intercal through reverse engineering given a working program and a compiler.
k26dr 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody else find it suspicious that 2 quanta magazine stories were the top two stories on HN today?
phieromnimon 20 hours ago 0 replies      
So it's like a unikernel of life?
peter303 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Four months old news.I will Dr Venter in Aspen Saturday.
Lenin was a mushroom wikipedia.org
567 points by Smaug123  1 day ago   170 comments top 38
ProfChronos 1 day ago 7 replies      
While reading the wikipedia article, I couldn't help thinking about two things: - the Big Lebowski scene when Walter jumps on the Dude's attempt to quote Lenin and mixes Lenin with Lennon- one thing I recently read about natural language processing [1]: "NLP began in the 1950s as the intersection of artificial intelligence and linguistics. (...)Early simplistic approaches, for example, word-for-word Russian-to-English machine translation,2 were defeated by homographsidentically spelled words with multiple meaningsand metaphor, leading to the apocryphal story of the Biblical, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak being translated to the vodka is agreeable, but the meat is spoiled.[1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168328/
mendelk 22 hours ago 3 replies      
This is great :)

On a related note, someone posted a question to r/newzealand if it was true that having a vegetable garden is illegal in NZ[0]. The entire subreddit then spontaneously decided that indeed it was.

The deadpan was so well done, that it had lots of people actually confused, if not convinced!

r/OutOfTheLoop post "outing" the hoax: https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/4ovxb1/is_the...

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/2nem47/can_you_...

quantumhobbit 1 day ago 10 replies      
"one of the top regional functionaries stated that "Lenin could not have been a mushroom" because "a mammal can not be a plant.""

I love the the logic here. As though "Lenin was a bottle nose dolphin" would have been more plausible. Also did the Soviets have the same taxonomy as the west, meaning mushrooms would be fungi and not plants?

pierrec 1 day ago 2 replies      
The US today isn't in much of a different boat. Granted, a human being a mushroom is quite an extreme one, but I'm sure a well-crafted documentary reaching a wide enough audience could still have a deplorable impact. Here's a 2013 poll on conspiracy theories:


I was in high school when one of the "moon landings were a hoax" documentaries made the rounds. A significant portion of my class was instantly converted by the documentary. I lost a little of my faith in humanity at that time, though much of it was quickly recovered thanks to an excellent math teacher who paid attention to his students, found out about the phenomenon, and dedicated half of a class to thoroughly debunking it.

maheart 1 day ago 2 replies      
Haha, hilarious, thanks for sharing.

I had to see this for myself.


Video, part1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2cs8QLnxlU

Video, part2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExXDxpBFFR0

The "revelation" occurs at 2m36s: https://youtu.be/ExXDxpBFFR0?t=156

vizzah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well, I watched it on TV when I was 14 years old and shortly after USSR break up, obviously having no experience of mockumentaries before, having seen Lenin in the mausoleum few years earlier.. all that stuff was really mind blowing, even though it was hard to believe and raised mock suspicions - I remember I questioned my parents about it =)
radiorental 1 day ago 1 reply      
Let us not forget the exceptional spaghetti harvest of 1957https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU

Thanks, in part, to an unusual lull in population numbers of the notorious Spaghetti Weevil.

pandaman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the English wiki article is brilliant because the article itself is what it's describing.

Kuryokhin told a tall tale on the TV and people enjoyed its absurdity and humor. I would not say nobody believed it (you can find somebody who believes any given bs) but I'd bet the 11.25M number in the wiki is exaggerated many orders of magnitude. The whole statement of the article about many Soviet people falling for this is as true as that a lot of Americans believed that the film Borat is a documentary. Or, that Lenin was, indeed, a mushroom)).

dkaigorodov 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It was a very important step for people of USSR to understand that TV != truth. The movie was to the very point. Quite an important topic for USSR with an absolutely absurd statement just forces people to think and rely on their own judgement only. And it simple to do in this case.

Now people not just was given a freedom to think. Now it is a must. To think and to have OWN opinion.

Artlav 1 day ago 2 replies      
And this was just the first in the long line of hoaxes that included the world's largest pyramid (Ponzi?) scheme and legal homeopatics, which filled the faith vacuum left followed the dissolution of the union.

People had no clue that a TV can lie about "X happened" (rather than "X didn't happen"), what else you can do with money besides earn, buy and sell, and so on.

It was such a rich scam market.

Graham24 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's up there with the great spaghetti tree hoax: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU

"The last two weeks of March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer..."

Gravityloss 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gullibility research is an established area, as these things are important for selling products and getting people voted to office.

For example, things people believe about the EU will affect their vote on Brexit tomorrow. Here's an egregious example of a widely circulated totally false myth:


sonthonax 1 day ago 0 replies      
The artist/prankster, Sergey Kuryokhin was also a fabulous pianist


And quite possibly one of the greatest artists of 90s Russia.

moopling 1 day ago 0 replies      

Is in Russian but has English subtitles

MBCook 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've never heard of that before, pretty cool.

But now I've got the idea of trying to write lyrics for "Lenin Was A Mushroom" (to the tune of Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog) stuck in my head, but I can't because I have too much work to do today.

lunchTime42 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Mario ( a working class plumber) made a career out of squishing mushrooms, to get the princess in the castle.

Once your deducation goes whack, you can never go back.

StavrosK 1 day ago 8 replies      
Does anyone know the argument chain? I'm curious how someone made this outlandish claim sound plausible.
100ideas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's one of the articles (JSTOR) referenced on the en Wikipedia page:

A Parasite from Outer Space:: How Sergei Kurekhin Proved That Lenin Was a MushroomAlexei YurchakSlavic ReviewVol. 70, No. 2 (SUMMER 2011), pp. 307-333


alanh 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A Parasite from Outer Space: How Sergei Kurekhin Proved That Lenin Was a Mushroom Author(s): Alexei YurchakSource: Slavic Review, Vol. 70, No. 2 (SUMMER 2011), pp. 307-333Published by:Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5612/slavicreview.70.2.0307 .

On Sci-Hub:http://www.jstor.org.sci-hub.bz/stable/10.5612/slavicreview....

botfly 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone ever classified forms of gullibility before? For example, is there a name for the form of gullibility that will make otherwise smart people believe ridiculous things if it reinforces their belief that they are smarter than everyone else?
vittore 1 day ago 0 replies      
"What I want to say here is that Lenin was not only a mushroom , but also a radio wave" (C)
Finnucane 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I for one believe that a person can turn into a mushroom: I have seen it on the TV.


avdicius 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think many people believed it. Actually it was more of a satire than a hoax. A mockery of the BS wave that befell on gullible and unprepared audience upon Perestroika.
davesque 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I love how that official chose to correct the people: Don't worry everyone. Just remember that "a mammal cannot be a plant" and everything's going to be okay.
aluhut 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Great to see Carlos Castaneda in this. The ultimate Troll and still good enough for New-Age ideologies.
dghughes 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Now it's "Well I saw someone Facebook say that ... "taken as 100% truth.
justaaron 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah the "Lenin Grib" story- tv announcers taken too seriously apparently...
narrator 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I read the headline and thought he was kept in the dark and fed excrement by Stalin.
tobymather 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wrote my dissertation on this
golergka 1 day ago 0 replies      

Here's the 55min version I've found - I think it's the longest one available on youtube.

Random phrases that I just had to translate to illustrate the whole tone of the video:

"Do you know that Quran allows jews to eat mushrooms only one day a week - on saturday?"

"So you would think that this is an ordinary small mushroom... Although really, it is a huge, spherical, energy-intensive, cosmological matter, spreading it's dome into open astral space. -- So where does it grow? -- Excellent question. The thing is, it grows nowhere. I reaches out and finds a human - see, it's mushrooms who are picking humans, not humans picking mushrooms."

"We are looking at a mushroom culture - not really a culture, but a geodynamic, geopolitic sphere of the mushroom world - as a certain telescopic object"

"A great group of mushroom geneticists work in the Nuclear Physics Institute."

"So, it's been said that mushrooms look like flaccid phalluses, so I thought that they carry within them a manly spirit - or corrupted manly spirit, actually, since they're flaccid."

muterad_murilax 1 day ago 1 reply      
And yet his embalmed body was there all along for everyone to see.
tn13 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I am amused but not surprised and there this nothing unique about Russian people either.

Many times survival in society vastly depends on believing absurdity because cost to sticking to obvious truth could mean death. That is why women in Saudi Arabia were Hijab and take beating from husband even though for any sensible human being it should sound ridiculously stupid.

Americans are no different either. One has to only look at the irrational fear of guns, terrorists or Muslims that schools or media promotes on regular basis and sometimes well supported by laws too.

To give an example, one of my friends bought a simple bow and arrow to his kids who practiced in a safe environment of his backyard. The bow itself was not very powerful and the arrows did not have any harmful tips. So one day cops showed up on his door and claimed that the neighbor had complained.

The cops told the guy that a "Bow and arrow" is considered a "Gun" in California. A gun can be fired only in a range as per the law and what his kids just did was "discharging a firearm in an harmful manner". This is a felony that required them to arrest the father and send him to jail. What father had done was completely common sense thing. The law was absurd. The cops were gracious to let him go but later the father told me that if tomorrow anyone tells him that it is a felony to make barbecue in your backyard without FDA approval I might as well believe it.

FuturePromise 1 day ago 0 replies      
It reminds me of the Yip Harburg song:

 Napoleon's a pastry Bismarck is a herring Alexander's a crme de cacao mixed with rum And Herbie Hoover is a vacuum Columbus is a circle and a day off Pershing is a square, what a pay-off Julius Caesar is just a salad on a shelf So, little brother, get wise to yourself Life's a bowl and it's full of cherry pits Play it big and it throws you for a loop That's the way with fate, comes today, we're great Comes tomorrow, we're tomato soup
(See http://genius.com/Lena-horne-napoleon-lyrics )

hodder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's another clue for you all,The Walrus is Paul.
avodonosov 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's a well-known fact (as well as that Putin is a krab)
alva 1 day ago 0 replies      
Probably not a fungi to be around at least
Atwood 1 day ago 0 replies      
In communist Russ Golden Teacher B+'s YOU!
Hello, Tensorflow oreilly.com
589 points by lobsterdog  3 days ago   38 comments top 9
ajschumacher 3 days ago 4 replies      
Wow! I was going to post this but here it is already! I wrote (with a lot of help) the article there. I also jotted down some notes on the process of writing it with O'Reilly in case anybody's interested in that side of things: http://planspace.org/20160619-writing_with_oreilly/
tromobne8vb 3 days ago 2 replies      
As I've been reading about tensorflow lately I feel like I'm missing something regarding distributed processing. How can Tensorflow 'scale up' easily if you are outside of Google? We have big datasets that I want to run learning on but it seems awkward to do with tensorflow. We're big enough that the team managing our cluster is separate than development and it is a huge pain if we need them to go install tools on each node. Even with Spark support it seems like the tensorflow python libraries need to be set up on each machine in the cluster ahead of time.

Am I missing something?

50CNT 3 days ago 5 replies      

 TensorFlow is admirably easier to install than some other frameworks
I thought most frameworks are fairly easy to install in python, usually with a single call to pip. NLTK takes one "pip install nltk" and then "python", "import nltk", "nltk.download()" to download all the corpuses and miscellaneous data. Installing tensorflow seems complicated compared to that.

 # Ubuntu/Linux 64-bit, CPU only: $ sudo pip install --upgrade https://storage.googleapis.com/tensorflow/linux/cpu/tensorflow-0.8.0-cp27-none-linux_x86_64.whl # Ubuntu/Linux 64-bit, GPU enabled. Requires CUDA toolkit 7.5 and CuDNN v4. For # other versions, see "Install from sources" below. $ sudo pip install --upgrade https://storage.googleapis.com/tensorflow/linux/gpu/tensorflow-0.8.0-cp27-none-linux_x86_64.whl
Not that either are particularly complicated, but saying other frameworks (assuming they're referring to python frameworks) are "a lot harder to install" seems disingenuous.

That said, I haven't played around with AI frameworks too much, so I might just be missing a real stinker.

anilshanbhag 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the clarity of thought and structure of the article. I have used Tensorflow and had to explain it to a friend. So many times, I end up assuming things which are obvious to me but not to someone getting started. As said in the article, Tensorflow stands out for the ease of use and is to the best of my knowledge first distributed learning framework. Theano, Torch et al are faster but do not come with goodies like Tensorboard.
farresito 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love this short tutorials that give you an introduction to anything in an hour. They help you get interested in stuff you wouldn't have gotten interested in otherwise.
tedmiston 3 days ago 0 replies      
> For more on basic techniques and coding your own machine learning algorithms, check out our O'Reilly Learning Path, "Machine Learning."

This learning path is also available free for Safari Books Online subscribers.


bduerst 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic - thank you for doing this. When paired with the browser tool it makes a lot more sense: http://playground.tensorflow.org/

Is this planned to be released as an intro in a book about tensorflow?

Fenntrek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder when we will see the day when an O'Reilly book is written by AI.

Could be a nice little loop if part of the creators of the AI that would accomplish this learned part of their craft from O'Reilly books.

JPKab 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey Aaron! Hello from one of the people you taught in your first GADS class in DC.
Bought and returned set of WiFi home security cameras; can now watch new owner reddit.com
452 points by tshtf  3 days ago   150 comments top 25
mmaunder 3 days ago 4 replies      
If something like this happens to you - where you gain unauthorized access inadvertently to something - I'd be careful. Under the CFAA you can be charged criminally and the penalties are severe.

So for example, if the OP was to casually drop a few photos the camera took and a badly worded warning in their mailbox trying to help, the 'victim' could report it to the police and an inexperienced DA might try to bag their first cyber prosecution.

I'd definitely not contact the customer. Contact the vendor instead with an email and immediately remove your own access to the system. That way you have it on record (the email) and mention in the email you immediately revoked your own access.

The CFAA is a blunt and clumsy instrument that tends to injure bystanders.

Here's an extract from the CFAA:

Whoever having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;


matt_wulfeck 3 days ago 5 replies      
These types of exceeding invasive products need to have their damages tested in courts. After a few lawsuits and payouts the liabilty will begin to increase and that will force companies to adapt/improve or go under.

The problem is our entire generation doesn't care about privacy. They willingly hand over everything about them to an app and care not a single drop that their government spies on them without a warrant.

Mister_Snuggles 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a handful of D-Link cameras, and plan to buy more.

D-Link offers some sort of cloud service, but I've never used it. I keep the cameras segregated onto a separate Wifi network that can't access the internet, and they work just fine in that configuration. The cameras have built-in HTTP servers and present what they see as an MJPEG stream. I use 'motion' running on a machine to handle motion detection, recording, etc. I use a VPN server to handle my remote access needs.

I get everything that the cloud stuff offers, but all hosted locally.

What's described in the article scares me, which is why I've set things up the way I have. Even if the cameras were used (they weren't) and tied to someone else's account, they can't send anything back to the cloud service.

louprado 3 days ago 1 reply      
"I'm not mistaken, anyone could get the serial number off your cameras and link them to their online account, to watch and record your every move without your permission."

There's a name for a hacking strategy where you mass purchase products, modify it or acquire relevant information, then resell them or return them. "Catch and release" comes to mind, but I can't find any references.

userbinator 3 days ago 3 replies      
I set up an online account

The title is missing an important fact: these are not traditional network cameras, they're ones that apparently stream video into the cloud.

Those cameras that do not "phone home" to a cloud service don't have this problem; the ones that you can set up with a username/password and then connect directly to from the network. Ironically it's the cheap no-name ones that usually work like this, as the company just sells the hardware and isn't one to bother with their own set of servers/accounts/etc.

IMHO these cameras that do rely on a third-party service are to be avoided, since what happens to that service is completely out of your control.

RickS 3 days ago 1 reply      
HN readers: Do you think the engineers knew?

I ask because I've worked on various products, and single units change hands between engineers constantly. Phones for testing, accounts with shared dev passwords, the actual hardware, all kinds of test units get spun up and passed around, even on crappy products where the engineers' imaginations are the only QA.

Surely one engineer set up a camera, passed it along to another engineer, who set up the camera and encountered this error?

There are lots of classes of error that can hide in a product, but this feels like one that it's nearly impossible not to hit.

jedberg 3 days ago 1 reply      
Props to Dropcam/Nest for solving this problem.

My brother gave me his Dropcam after setting it up for himself, and I had to prove my identity and he had to prove his to get them to move the camera to my account. It was a hassle at the time, but I was glad to know that they at least had decent security.

JChase2 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've tried finding a camera that has a server that can encrypt traffic, and I can't. It'd be nice to have access from outside of my network but I don't trust it. It really took me by surprise how bad at security these things are. I guess I could set up some kind of vpn but I assumed when I bought it I could enable ssl or something.
markbnj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Systems that provide an online account tied to a physical device have to be carefully designed for transfer of ownership scenarios, and it sounds like they didn't do the work here, or else something went wrong and the resulting error state is unfortunate.
nateguchi 3 days ago 2 replies      
You can more than likely pick up the serial through the web-admin panel that these cameras expose on the local network.

God forbid they have a wireless AP with the serial number somehow encoded in the SSID.

How is it that these companies still don't give security a passing concern?

geofffox 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had the same problem with a WD home server. I returned it when it wouldn't do what it was supposed to do. Later, I started receiving emails from the server as it kept me up-to-date on its status.
Aelinsaar 3 days ago 3 replies      
Until people start demanding security, and become willing to pay for it, the IoT is going to be positively defined by this kind of nonsense. That, or some kind of legislative action I guess, but that seems like pure fantasy.
mtkd 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess the devops team can view all of them
nxzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seen this same method applied to used equipment for sale, especially if it was stolen.

Basically, someone steals a laptop, wipes it, reinstalls the OS with backdoors, sells the laptop for cash, exploits backdoor access to own other devices, exploits owned devices, etc.

NETGEAR 1 day ago 0 replies      
NETGEAR has previously informed our resellers that retailers are not to resell cameras which have been returned. The Arlo camera system in this instance was resold without our authorization. When setting up a previously owned camera it is advised that all Arlo cameras be reset from the original base station, which will clear connection with any previously existing account. The configuration for the camera needs to be cleared as the settings may contain associated account information of the previous owner. NETGEAR is aware of this concern and takes the security of our customers seriously.
NETGEAR 1 day ago 0 replies      
Additionally, NETGEAR has tested for various scenarios in which unauthorized access to an Arlo video might be possible (including using randomized serial numbers). From the testing we have conducted, NETGEAR has not seen a possible scenario where an unauthenticated user plugs in random serial numbers and has unauthorized access to a video stream.

The Arlo camera system is secured by design and has been tested by independent auditors and security researchers. NETGEAR also conducts bug bounty programs to further ensure the security of Arlo customers video streams and other NETGEAR products.

wepple 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is a general class of problems that is only going to get bigger.

When I returned my lease car I had to have a bit of a think about what might be sync'd from my phone via bluetooth with it, and what functionality existed to erase that. The answers didn't make me feel great.

The fun pastime of buying old HDD's off ebay and carving deleted files off them to see what might be kicking about is going to get a whole lot more interested with everything-connected society moving forward.

takeda 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's with the "cloud" security systems? Why don't they just provide hardware where you store the information locally?

Ignoring the privacy implications mentioned here, and that you esentially pay monthly/yearly for storage, if your ISP has an outage your security system is becoming useless. It also is a weak point for smarter thieves (just make sure that Internet access is cut).

arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yet people still recoil as if in horror when I try to explain that this is one of the core reasons why gplv3 is so important. Look, we've lost the hardware freedom wars so far, but we still have software, and we can work on improving our hardware side as we progress.

One of the Common arguments I hear in response is, "But open source doesnt pay, and therefore doesnt innovate as much."

While the lack of funds coming arent ignorable, innovation is always happening in the foss space, often surpassing the proprietary alternatives, often falling far behind as well. It still gives you the power to control your own systems, which is the freedom you can choose to not give up.

The only way you surrender your freedom is voluntarily.

happyslobro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. You know the situation is bad when you are actually better off implementing you own security as a bunch of Arduinos with webcam shields on the LAN and a server with a feature phone in the closet.

LOL, just look at this vigilant little bastard :p http://www.arducam.com/arducam-porting-raspberry-pi/arducam-... No one is sneaking up on that without leaving a mugshot.

reiichiroh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't tell but it doesn't seem like the OP reset the devices before he returned him. Isn't this his or her fault then? Like having nude selfies on a phone and returning it without wiping the phone to factory defaults?
dboreham 3 days ago 0 replies      
fwiw I recently started using the Samsung network camera sold by Costco (SNH-V6414BN), after various homebrew and RPi solutions over the years. It has an on-camera password that is set as part of the WiFi pairing process so is not open to this kind of attack. This password is separate from the cloud account credentials, so provided you don't ask the web site or mobile app to retain it (optional), without that password the camera content can't be accessed remotely (of course the firmware could be compromised and I don't know if the password is adequately protected from eavesedropping).
andrewclunn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Holy shit. Never buying off the shelf consumer grade security equipment now.
hackney 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the security part is sorely lacking. That and someone needs to get a life.
New Life Found That Lives Off Electricity quantamagazine.org
402 points by aethertap  1 day ago   41 comments top 10
devindotcom 19 hours ago 1 reply      
If I'm not mistaken it's not like just-now new, but of course still fascinating and relatively new. Just from a quick search:


AncoraImparo 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Can we get an experiment done immediately to see if they will survive off of the electricity inside a vacuum?
Zenst 1 day ago 1 reply      
If these microbes eat hydrogen then would they not equally be present and more common upon say a rusty electrode as more hydrogen produced via chemical reactions with the water.

So I wonder if we have yet to find there niche environment

jostmey 23 hours ago 3 replies      
So what if life hasn't evolved yet to feed off of our power lines, but the potential for it to happen is there?
ericfrederich 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't remember much from my biology class but I seem to remember nearly all life utilizes some ATP cycle. Plants get it from the sun, animals from food, etc. I'm curious to know if this electic life is still ATP based and just utilizes free electrons to create it.
zanalyzer 17 hours ago 1 reply      
my breakfast this morning basically consisted of electrons
ikeboy 1 day ago 3 replies      
A recent episode of Limitless (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5146006/) had this as a subplot.
jhoni365 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Layman here...Is it possible life could likely live in the emptiness space as well then?
mpnagle 20 hours ago 1 reply      
pika pika
manaskarekar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another item to add to the list of things/ideas explored by Star Trek before being discovered/invented.

A somewhat related and interesting read: http://www.physicscentral.com/buzz/blog/index.cfm?postid=792...

Were pretty happy with SQLite and not urgently interested in a fancier DBMS beets.io
397 points by samps  3 days ago   145 comments top 29
SwellJoe 3 days ago 8 replies      
I never stop being impressed at how often people will jump to odd, unsupportable, conclusions like, "using MySQL will make this thing faster".

I've seen it so many times over the years regarding users and email configurations. I can't count the number of times I've dropped into someone's badly behaving mail configuration and found they had MySQL hosting the users, and explained it was for "performance" reasons. Somehow they didn't grasp that /etc/passwd fits entirely in memory, and the map files Postfix uses for various lookups and stuff are already a database (just one specifically designed for the task at hand) and also fit entirely in memory. Putting that MySQL layer in there is disastrous if performance matters; it is orders of magnitude slower for any case I've seen...still plenty fast for most cases, but it's ridiculous that this idea gets cargo-culted around that if you store your mail users in MySQL your mail server will be faster.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, is what I'm trying to say, and people who know MySQL is "fast" may not know enough to know that it's not the right tool for the job in a lot of cases...and is probably slower for many use cases. I'm pretty confident this is one of those cases. SQLite is wicked fast on small data sets, and being smaller means more of it will fit in memory; I can't think of any way MySQL could be a more performant choice for this workload.

Also, I don't even want to try to imagine shipping an installable desktop application for non-technical users that relies on MySQL!

Annatar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, the article is such a fresh breath of air, primarily because the author demonstrates common sense.

He (they?) picked SQLite for all the correct reasons:

- best tool for the job for their situation;

- write-light and read-heavy;

- zero configuration;

- easy to embed;

- understanding that optimizing queries by far gives the best performance in the shortest amount of time.

As an aside, I'm currently using SQLite for Bacula and Postfix, and it's a joy to use; the only drawback I found so far is lack of REGEXP REPLACE in the SQL dialect which the database supports (must be loaded with .load /path/to/lib/libpcre.so, but it is not part of the language). I used the Oracle RDBMS for my PowerDNS deployments, but in retrospect, the way PowerDNS works, SQLite would have been an even better match. All in all, it is great to read that someone picked it for all the correct reasons, rather than some fashion trend, as is often the case in computer industry.

chjj 3 days ago 5 replies      
Premature optimization is evil, but preemptive optimization is necessary unless you want to paint yourself into a corner. I realized this after implementing a bitcoin full node.

In my bitcoin implementation, as an experiment, I tried storing the blockchain in sqlite, postgres, and leveldb. I gathered up a bunch of data from the first ~200k blocks of the blockchain and benchmarked all three databases. I queried for something like 30,000 utxos out of a set of a couple million. What took 300-400ms in leveldb took 1.6 seconds in postgres (on the repl. in my actual node it would have taken longer due to deserialization of the utxos). What took 1.6 seconds in postgres took over 30 seconds in SQlite.

Now, you can tell me I did the benchmarks wrong, and "oh, if you just did this it would be faster!", but 30+ seconds is slower to an absolutely insane level. Needless to say, I went the key-value store route, but I was still astounded at how slow sqlite was once it got a few million records in the database.

I actually like sqlite, but when you know you're going to be dealing with 70gb of data and over 10 million records, preemptive optimization is the key. If I were the author, I would consider switching to postgres if there are over 500k-1m records to be expected. That being said, if they're partial to sqlite, SQLightning (https://github.com/LMDB/sqlightning) looks pretty interesting (SQLite with an LMDB backend).

edit: To clarify, these weren't particularly scientific benchmarks. This was me timing a very specific query to get an idea of the level of data management I was up against. Don't take my word for it.

int_19h 3 days ago 1 reply      
While we're speaking of SQLite; one thing that has little exposure that could probably use more is that it now ships with Windows as a system DLL:


Between that, and packages readily available on most Linux and BSD distros out there (and, in most cases, installed by default), it's well on its way to become a de facto standard system API for relational storage.

c-smile 3 days ago 0 replies      
If to speak about desktop applications then any embedded DB will be unbeatable.

So I am speaking about embeddable DBs here.

Konstantin Knizhnik have implemented impressive set of various embedded DBs: http://garret.ru/databases.html

Like his POST++ has direct mapping to C++ classes so if you use C++ then you don't need any ORM.

In my Sciter[1] Engine I am using his DyBase library [3] as a bult-in persistence for Sciter's script [2] (JavaScript++).

With the DyBase in script you have features similar to MongoDB (noSQL free-form DB) but without any need for ORM and DAL - you can declare some root object as be persistable and access those data trees as if they are JavaScript objects. The engine pumps objects from DB into memory when they are needed:

 var storage = Storage.open(...); var dataRoot = storage.root; // all things inside are persitable dataRoot.topics = []; // flat persistable list dataRoot.topics.push({ foo:1, bar:2 }); // storing object /* create indexed collection with string keys, keys can be unique or not */ dataRoot.titles = storage.createIndex(#string);
DyBase has Python bindings too.

[1] http://sciter.com - multiplatform HTML/CSS UI Engine for Desktop and Mobile Application

[2] TIScript - http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/33662/TIScript-Language-...

[3] DyBase - http://www.garret.ru/dybase.html

niftich 3 days ago 4 replies      
I was unfamiliar with this project and assumed it was a hosted service at first. Not so, this is a local application, so an embedded database makes sense.

It took until the very last paragraph for the blog post to make that point.

Feneric 3 days ago 3 replies      
SQLite also does remarkably well with recovering from all manner of power loss / crashes / worst case scenarios. We created a "power loss" rig just to test this facility for one particular system. Really SQLite's biggest weakness is concurrency, and if your app needs that in any serious amount you probably ought to look elsewhere. If you're just dealing with occasional concurrency though SQLite shouldn't be dismissed out-of-hand.
coleifer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Classic HN bait.

You don't even need to read the comments to know what people will say:

"SQLite is a great fit for this type of application. It's a replacement for fopen people. fopen."

"What about ALTER TABLE?"

"It's just a toy database, it doesn't even support concurrent writers"

----- "WAL mode"

"Hey, golang, rqlite"

----- "Whoa I wrote something similar for a ..."

----- "Why would you use this? Just use postgres"

"SQLite is the best database ever"

"SQLite is the worst database ever"

omarforgotpwd 3 days ago 1 reply      
For any database that isn't huge, a library embedded into your application is going to be faster than anything that has to communicate with a server over a socket connection. Though both execute SQL queries, SQLite is completely different than relational database servers and appropriate many places where running a full RDBMS is not. For example, you can't run MySQL or Postgres on the iPhone, but you can use SQLite.
chillacy 3 days ago 3 replies      
> were read-heavy and write-light

> we have almost no indices, no principled denormalization

Sounds like an easy win. People are probably suggesting a database switch because they're finding issues with the current speed, but they're not using their current database to its full potential yet.

jwatte 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sqlite is fine for small scale systems. It is not a "web scale" database, but not every web site is "web scale."SQLite does have performance limits, and will break at certain load, but until that, it's okay.For single user databases, like desktop applications, SQLite is awesome!What the others bring to the table is concurrent sever performanc, user management, and such.There's nothing surprising about this, right?
cyberferret 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a long time user and lover of SQLite, since way back when. Use it in a lot of our projects (web and Win32) that require local databases for logging etc.

Sure for larger or concurrent user access to a db, we use other databases, but nothing beats the 'zero footprint' install of SQLite. I even enjoyed the fact that earlier versions of SQLite forced me to think optimise my queries due to the lack of nested SELECTs.

SQLite still kind of reminds me of my early days in MySQL. I was recently trying to downgrade MySQL 5.7 to 5.6 after a slew of issues, which forced me to reminisce about how simple things used to be when MySQL was a lot like SQLite still is now...

nickysielicki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beet is an awesome program, you should really check it out if you still are among the minority of people who actually have a music collection and don't rent access from spotify/itunes/etc.

I'm glad to see this post; one of the reasons that I like beet so much is that everything is self-contained.

pskisf 3 days ago 0 replies      
You're doing it right for your application! MySQL or PostgreSQL would most probably be slower and introduce a lot more overhead as they are client/server oriented systems. Don't listen to those armchair architects!
oppositelock 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get the point of this article. SQLite is fine, especially in an embedded database, but once you have concurrent access, it starts to suffer because it has very coarse grained locks, so a "real" database is better for a distributed single-DB design. It's more about using the right tool for the job, and the author seems to be talking himself out of some kind of guilt for SQLite being the right tool for him.
jedberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't blame them. I've been a huge fan of SQLite for years. Anytime I need storage it's my default choice unless there is a specific reason to use something else.

Another nice advantage of it is if you are distributing something that requires a small dataset[0][1]. If I give you both the code and the data already imported into a sqlite database, then you can use the code right away, or you can dump the data to a different database very easily.

[0] https://github.com/jedberg/wordgen

[1] https://github.com/jedberg/Postcodes

zaphar 3 days ago 0 replies      
What people actually seriously suggest that a desktop application needs more than sqlite offers in the way of databases?

Desktop apps are like the sweet spot for sqlite. It's practically made for them.

qwertyuiop924 3 days ago 0 replies      
Suggesting you add a server dependancy to your desktop app as a solution to a problem that isn't there is pretty braindead.
tedmiston 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have used SQLite for similar use cases, but occasionally it's led to a corrupted db. I had a cron task writing to it once a day, but an issue with the scheduler led to 2 tasks one day with the latter one finishing before the former.

Of course I can add locking or something in my code, but I'd prefer to handle at a lower level for example, have SQLite take the latest write without corrupting. I'm hoping someone has solved this problem with SQLite elegantly.

therealdrag0 2 days ago 0 replies      
For everyone loving SQLite, you should consider donating to them. I remember a post this last year about the maintainers working on it full time, but making much less than most of us probably do.
franciscop 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know beet, but it looks exactly like what I've been wanting for years.
partycoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even a file can be convenient. It's all about how you integrate it into the system.
kefka_p 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some people are unfamiliar with the phrase "right tool for the job".

As the developers behind the project, I'd have to think the authors are in the best position to make the determination about which tool is appropriate.

chmike 3 days ago 1 reply      
SQLite is Ok, but write access must be synchronized. I used it for my Flask (Python) application and was forced to switch to PostgreSQL because of synchronization problems. I would prefer sticking with SQLite which was simpler to manage.

The author doesn't say a word about synchronization when writing to SQLite.

ww520 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish HTML5 storage standardized on Sqlite. The inconsistent story on HTML5 storage across browsers is kind of sad.
Ultimatt 3 days ago 0 replies      
The bigger news here is they arent using an ORM to make moving between databases trivial.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Firefox uses SQLite
smegel 3 days ago 1 reply      
This was a useful and informative post.

Where on earth do you think the author is asking for a 'pat on the back' in this?

coleifer 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have written several "Use Sqlite!" posts that have made the rounds on hackernews... reading this watered down post, which is devoid of any new, surprising or usable info, it strikes me that repping SQLite has achieved meme status.

If you want tangible info you can actually use, read sqlites documentation. There's a wealth of information there.

Here are some of posts, for the Python crowd:




When everything else fails, amateur radio will still be there and thriving arstechnica.com
363 points by Tomte  3 days ago   186 comments top 22
davidwihl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was a volunteer ham working a first aid station during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The cell bandwidth was rapidly overwhelmed. Ham continued to work, including amazing professionalism on the part of Net Control when things got really busy. It's battle proven.

FMI http://www.arrl.org/news/radio-amateurs-provide-communicatio...

grandalf 3 days ago 4 replies      
Amateur Radio is a great hobby if you're interested in radio wave propagation, RF engineering, radiosport, digital modes, satellites, etc.

It's surprisingly easy to get a license, and you'll find that many of the older generation of radio amateurs are among the most young-at-heart oldsters you'll encounter.

walrus01 3 days ago 4 replies      
When everything else fails because a massive catastrophe has hit your local area, even something as big as a 9.2 earthquake destroying most of California... Everything satellite based (that is not dependent on teleports in CA) will still function fine. Amateur radio is nice and all for voice communication, but for IP data you could still use:

a) C, Ku and Ka-band VSAT terminals via geostationary satellite, to earth station anywhere else in the same hemisphere. Example: 1.2m VSAT in CA, teleport in TX.

There are all sorts of mobile VSAT systems including auto-aim/auto tracking antennas and military grade ones that will fit into a large backpack.

b) Handheld satellite phones: Iridium phones will work fine after a huge clusterfuck disaster. And run on a lot less power than a ham radio rig. They use a LEO satellite network. The Inmarsat iSatphone talks to the I-4 series of geostationary satellites and will work fine.

c) Portable L and S-band laptop sized Inmarsat terminals (BGAN), again speaking to the I-4 series satellites. These are about the size of a fat laptop and also require a lot less power than a ham radio setup. Speeds from 100 to 500 kbps depending on spot beam capacity/utilization and TDMA contention ratio. Some have built in wifi hotspots, others have a 100BaseTX interface to plug in your own router.

You can do all sorts of useful VoIP tricks with Iridium and Inmarsat satellite phones - both services offer regular US NPA DIDs that ring on your phone, and it's easy to set up a phone with a short 50 ohm coaxial cable to an exterior roof antenna if you need to semi-permanently install one on the desk of an indoor command center/disaster relief comms post.

edit: The major use of geostationary satellite in a disaster is to repair and bring back online a broken/islanded TCP/IP network. You can show up to a completely off-net command center (for example: Disaster operations HQ for City of San Francisco) and bring it back online to the outside world by parking a 1 to 2 meter sized VSAT dish on the roof and connecting a satellite modem to the WAN uplink of their router. Satellite serves a different and complementary purpose to ham radio which is almost purely analog voice in a disaster scenario. Two people can carry the equipment needed to bring a 5 Mbps x 5 Mbps pipe with 0.0% packet loss.

slr555 3 days ago 1 reply      
For me the best thing about HAM is that it makes you learn before you can play. For a non-engineer such as myself, having to learn the electronics, physics, antenna design, FCC rules etc. forced me to acquire knowledge I probably wouldn't have otherwise gone out of my way for as an adult. I got my General class license a few years ago and keep trying to get myself motivated to go for my Amateur Extra license but doing HAM in NYC is hard. Unless you are lucky enough to have someplace you can put up some kind of antenna you are largely limited to a 5 watt HT. There is so much that is exciting happening in HAM today. SDR systems are very exciting as is all the internet hybrid. It is super fun and I do hope a new generation gets psyched about it and drives innovation.
brian-armstrong 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the things I like about amateur radio is that it teaches you to respect a common good (in this case, the spectrum). Hams seem to really understand this concept. It's easy to be defeatist and cry about tragedy of the commons but in amateur radio people are largely respectful and abide by the etiquette.
kqr 3 days ago 2 replies      
So for someone completely uninitiated: what's the smallest and cheapest possible step into this world? I'm not ready to dive into it fully, but I feel like a good first step might be to just get portable, cheap equipment that lets me tune in and listen to broadcasts on various frequencies. Does my thinking make sense?

Background: I have ADHD so I have to force myself to not jump in at the deep end whenever I hear of something novel and cool.

qwertyuiop924 3 days ago 2 replies      
I got my license in the 6th grade. Which wasn't all that long ago for me. We helped establish a local radio club. Like programming, amateur radio can be very intimidating, but isn't ultimately that complicated.

On a side note, megabit speeds on HAMNET? Holy Crap. Most packet radio only talks maybe 9600 baud max. Hmm. Come to think of it, Linux does have kernel-level AX.25 networking support... Anybody up for Quake over radio? :-P

peterkshultz 3 days ago 0 replies      
My father introduced me to amateur radio at a young age. I got my license as a teenager.

I play with a mode of communication called Earth-Moon-Earth, or EME. The idea is to bounce signals off the moon and have them get picked up by a pre-arranged partner back on Earth. It feels cutting-edge.

Were more people exposed to such off-the-wall applications of ham radio, I think there'd be a resurgence in the hobby.

whamlastxmas 3 days ago 4 replies      
Amateur radio will thrive but only relatively speaking - it will still be pretty useless.

1. Without repeaters, which in the best situations only have enough battery for less than a day, you will not be able to reliably communicate farther than 10-20 miles in most circumstances. With handheld devices, only a couple of miles.

2. For repeaters that do manage to stay up, even less than a day, they are usually exclusively for emergency response use only.

3. Anyone you need to talk to has to have a radio. Most people don't. Most people don't even know someone who has one.

I looked in amateur radio as a tool for emergency situations and found that its usefulness was pretty limited. If I had a natural disaster in my city and needed to communicate to family in a city 300 miles away, it's pretty complicated and expensive to do so without a repeater, and repeaters can't really be relied upon in situations like that. My state even has a repeater network that accesses most major cities in the state, but given that only a single person can talk on it at a given time, the opportunity to talk to my family over it during a natural disaster seems pretty unlikely.

mikegioia 3 days ago 5 replies      
This is really cool. The article mentions that encryption is illegal over these radio frequencies, but why is that? Are people actively detecting encrypted data?

It would be cool to experiment with these radios but have it all communicate using TLS or something.

vanous 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have an antenna ready to be raised and station in a box.... but other then feeling like a prepper I have no practical use for it. Network effect applies here too, like for any other social network. Only old people here on waves, checking weather daily. I was excited years back, but now it feels like dying breed.
agumonkey 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are videos on youtube where some guy scans very long range (across continents; maybe leveraging atmosphere reflections) and randomly connecting with dudes up high somewhere in Siberia. I felt living 2001 a space odyssey in real time. Since I want to go into HAM.
gp10 3 days ago 0 replies      
The intersection of Ham radio and SDR (software defined radio) is proving to be quite interesting.
joeyspn 3 days ago 3 replies      
My neighbour (next door) is a radio aficionado and a thing that worries me is that sometimes when I'm with the headphones or speakers connected to the computer, I can hear him speaking... Does anyone knows how is this possible if the macbook does not have receiver? this has me puzzled...

I find the amateur radio somewhat interesting, but on the dev level. I was about to buy a HackRf, and I'll probably do it when I have more free time...

carlesfe 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems there are some ham radio operators here, I hope someone can help: I'd like to get introduced in this world, is there some guide I can read to know what I'll need to learn and which equipment I'd need to buy in order to get started?
imglorp 3 days ago 2 replies      
> When everything else fails...

What about nuclear war or a solar mass ejection event? I'm thinking a big fat EMP will smoke the semiconductors in most amateur rigs: they often have big antennae and sensitive pre-amps.

Is there any RAD-hard amateur gear?

wprapido 3 days ago 0 replies      
amateur radio was used in the civil war in yugoslavia back in the 90's as a way to spread news and as a way for friends and relatives on conflicting sides to kind of get in touch


omginternets 3 days ago 2 replies      
This might seem like a silly question, but what does one do with a HAM radio license? Just talk to other people?

I have trouble seeing where the creative, build-cool-shit part comes in, though I'd love to be wrong about this!

nxzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given the lack of privacy, security, etc. - using amateur radio is a no go for me.
tmpanon1234act 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty fun read. I've been into amateur radio for a while, so here's hoping it one day proves more useful than just a frivolous hobby :)
elcapitan 3 days ago 0 replies      
When everything else fails, I'll write the message on a piece of vellum.
nateguchi 3 days ago 0 replies      
*if everything else fails
More awful IoT stuff mjg59.dreamwidth.org
368 points by edward  1 day ago   232 comments top 25
CaptSpify 1 day ago 15 replies      
I just blogged about this yesterday. In short:

> The line in the sand for me is: network vs cloud-based systems. I want things to be network connected, but I want it for my own network only. I want to be able to control my coffee pot, but only from home. If I choose to expose this over the internet, great! It's up to me to make sure it's secure. I don't want anyone making that decision for me.

I also want it to be upgradeable, and hackable. I'm willing to pay a lot of money for standalone quality devices, but nobody is supplying!

diggan 1 day ago 6 replies      
So there is a great amount of lists, blogposts and information about awful/bad IoT things, but if someone like me want to have a list about IoT things that are actually secure and well-working, where would I find that?
Klathmon 1 day ago 3 replies      
>It's running Linux and includes Busybox and dnsmasq, so plenty of GPLed code. I emailed the manufacturer asking for a copy and got told that they wouldn't give it to me, which is unsurprising but still disappointing.

Has the GPL really lost it's power that much? I mean not responding to inquiries is one thing, but outright saying no?

bedhead 1 day ago 2 replies      
@internetofshit is a great follow and pretty quickly illustrates just how absurd the IoT rush has become. Solutions in search of problems.
apozem 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Eventually I plugged my phone into my laptop and ran adb logcat, and the Android debug logs told me that the app was trying to modify a network that it hadn't created. Apparently this isn't permitted as of Android 6, but the app was handling this denial by just trying again. I deleted the network from the system settings, restarted the app, and this time the app created the network record and could modify it. It still didn't work, but that's because it let me give it a 5GHz network and it only has a 2.4GHz radio, so one reset later and I finally had it online.

Madness. And people wonder why there's so much skepticism about IoT being adopted by non-techies.

Chris2048 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm enthusiastically waiting for this: https://espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp32/overview

oh baby!

alexmingoia 18 hours ago 2 replies      
The principal reason devices need to be connected is so that business can hold your devices ransom and charge you money to use them.

Turn on lights with a phone? No need for Internet.

Open doors with a fingerprint? No need for Internet.

An auto-adjusting energy-saving thermostat? No need for Internet.

A fridge that knows the milk is low? No need for Internet.

Charge people money to use their toaster? You need the Internet for that.

Feneric 1 day ago 2 replies      
IoT devices can be fine, but there are lots of companies involved in it that don't know what they're doing and would be better off staying out of the market. I always advice friends / family to look for upgrading capabilities, ability to do useful work when not connected to the Internet proper, user control (do you own this device or effectively borrow it per licensing etc.?), and other similar things before purchasing any IoT device. Some IoT devices are great, but some are abysmal.
jsondata 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I also mentioned this in a recent blog post: https://www.jsondata.io/blog/2016/iot-needs-a-cloud/

> Right now, the cloud - especially for IoT - isn't a healthy ecosystem. Your shiny new smart thermostat might as well be dialing into AOL on a dedicated landline. And unlike public services, these proprietary service providers lack long-term guarantees of service availability.

> What we need is a push for openness and interoperability in the cloud, and that will only happen if consumers demand it. The service providers are incentivized to do just the opposite.

almostarockstar 1 day ago 3 replies      
Sounds like there is a strong need for a standard OS build for IoT devices.

I'm not expert in the area, but I would imagine a standard API could be implemented to handle the vast majority of use cases. Connecting to an app securely, turning things on and off, basic scheduling.

m12k 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel that the people who are now talking about IoT are the same people who were totally into 'semantic web' back in the day. And it's pretty much the same kind of story: "Wouldn't it be neat if all these systems could interoperate?" and again the answer is "Yes, but not neat enough justify the cost and hassle of actually making it happen".
stcredzero 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The short version: they introduced terrible vulnerabilities on your network, they violated the GPL and they were also just bad at being...

Overall: the hardware seems fine, the software is shoddy and the security is terrible

This article begins and ends with two great tl;dr for IoT. There is value in this. Just look at the prevailing cluelessness, and be much better than that to stand out from the pack. In fact, how about applying that formula to the next nascent big thing that comes along?

SEJeff 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug to a 100% OSS IoT / home automation system I contribute to that agrees. Everything IoT should be fully open source and not rely on cloud connections:


steven2012 1 day ago 1 reply      
The stuff from wirelesstags.net are generally very good. I have a bunch of sensors and their Reed sensors for detecting opening and closing of doors are very good. I hook it up with ifttt and turn on my Hue lights when I open and close my doors. Clearly not ground breaking stuff but useful.

The Hue lights are great but expensive. The Hue switch made things a lot more useful as well. I'm waiting for them to come out with a compatible light switch so I can control my recessed lights the same way as my light bulbs.

What they need to work on is a better outdoor camera with motion detection that doesn't get triggered by shadows or wind moving a tree branch. I've tried almost every solution and none is acceptable.

coldpie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone still need convincing? Don't buy anything that connects to the Internet that isn't built and maintained by a major software company. Even then, be careful. Duh.
Serow225 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Alright so this is mostly OT, but I figured people who are into IoT might be able to help; does anyone know of a setup that would easily let me control a remote AC outlet by plugging a sensor into an existing hard-switched AC outlet? I'd rather not deal with installing a hub and programming scenes etc. Thanks!
nkg 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I enjoy reading this kind of article about lousy security, because I say to myself "Wow, that was lousy!" and laugh. BUT I still don't know how I could avoid this. I genuinely ask: could anyone share with me the "2016 Guide of the best pratices for securing an API/ a web app"?
ufmace 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Hold on - it sounds like this thing is running Android. Has reference to connecting with ADB, apks, and Android versions. But it's also running a SSH server and OpenWRT? What's going on there, is it running 2 different OSes for some reason, or did they somehow merge Android and OpenWRT?
jussaskin 1 day ago 1 reply      
IoT is all about unsecured devices generally?
manyxcxi 1 day ago 2 replies      
Funny timing... I just bought an LG LFXS30776S refrigerator and the first thing I noticed was that all of a sudden I had a new WiFi broadcast. Turns out that according to tech support there's no way to shut this off.
FussyZeus 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's so much potential in the market for proper, well made IoT devices that would bring around the hardcore skeptics like myself. I mean really well made products, properly encrypted with well made API endpoints that come with good apps for the uninitiated -AND- the ability to be scripted and automated by the techies. (You can do both, there's no reason why you can't and I don't understand why everyone refuses to). Oh, and not having them phone home to who-knows-where-istan around Australia, or at the very least, having the ability to TURN THAT OFF.

Seriously why have NO companies come forward with products like this. I'd buy a house worth if someone did.

DrNuke 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just offload your entire IoT project to a big firm / provider instead of cherrypicking devices?
mschuster91 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like regulation agencies to mandate, as a condition of market entry, for each and every electronic product:

1) Full firmware source code and required toolchains/sign keys/... be submitted to the national libraries, to be kept for secure archival until the device is officially unsupported by the manufacturer.

2) For networked products, the full source code must be either published, or licensed institutes must perform a security check.

3) There must be provisions in place to ensure timely reactions in case of security issues. If the manufacturer does not respond to security issues, national libraries have the right to release the source code.

4) Required tools, service manuals, datasheets etc. must be submitted to the national libraries.

This should basically kill off GPL-abusing companies, as well as ensure serviceability, even for discarded products.

dimino 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Sorry, but what does he mean by "infringing on my copyright"?

Is he the author of one of the libraries it uses?

peterwwillis 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Has anyone ever bought a consumer network appliance that didn't have shitty security?
Docker Betas for AWS, Azure, Mac, and Windows docker.com
314 points by petemill  2 days ago   103 comments top 13
dang 2 days ago 0 replies      
We merged the threads on these announcements. The Mac beta is at https://www.docker.com/products/docker#/mac and the Windows one at https://www.docker.com/products/docker#/windows.
tacos 2 days ago 2 replies      
They never emailed me from the last "private beta" before announcing this. And now deploying this on AWS or Azure requires me to sign up for yet another "we'll get back to you..." private beta.

Love the tech, hate all this marketing runaround.

EDIT to add: either your beta is ready or it ain't. I understand a gentle initial seed to verify it's not an utter catastrophe but no need to play nanny with my bits across 20+ beta releases. I'm a grown up. Make a disclaimer and let me assess the risk. Your corporate logo looks like a 1970s Carvel ice cream cake--I know what I'm getting myself into.

parent5446 2 days ago 7 replies      
What happened to the good ol' Unix philosophy? The docker command used to be about containers, not service and network scaling in the cloud.
julienchastang 2 days ago 5 replies      
Slightly off topic. What are people doing about user data persistence on the cloud/Docker? Specifically, we are porting a desktop application to the cloud via application streaming technology with Docker, but we would like the users data and preferences to not go "poof" when the cloud instance disappears. Ideally, we would like some automagic way to attach, say, the user's dropbox account or the equivalent to the cloud instance. Is anyone working on that problem?
Sanddancer 2 days ago 1 reply      
They need to put a note on their page that docker for windows is not compatible with docker for windows containers. I've been playing around with docker for windows containers for a few days, then saw this and thought, "cool, an update." I installed, and discovered that while the client is compatible between the two, the daemons they run cannot see the containers created in the other daemon. MS and Docker need to sort this stuff out, because right now, windows containers are nicer for the few images that have been released, but docker for windows allows for the full docker ecosystem.
andor436 2 days ago 2 replies      
As usual with AWS (or anything I guess) there's more than one way to accomplish a particular goal. How much of Amazon's Elastic Container Service is replicated by Docker for AWS? I'm currently using ECS + Docker but this looks potentially simpler.
jowiar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Long-term, where does using something like this make sense vs. Mesos?
mwambua 2 days ago 0 replies      
IBM's Bluemix has supported Docker Containers for a while now, but hasn't gotten much limelight... probably as a result of the size of their community and Bluemix's sketchy [but improving] stability. Does anyone have any experience using their container service? And would this be a big improvement?
spilk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not a fan of the new Windows version as it requires you to enable Hyper-V, which stops any other virtualization (Virtualbox, VMware, etc.) from functioning. The only workaround I've found is rebooting to enable/disable it on demand.
GordonS 2 days ago 1 reply      
And the Windows version is still Windows 10 only :/

Many large organisations are going to be tied to Windows 7 for a good while yet...

FloNeu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now even docker wants me to upgrade to windows 10 ^^Keep up the great work!
zymhan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one getting SSL errors trying to connect to their blog?
pgz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand why Docker for Mac is a GUI application. I'd rather get the same features from the CLI.
A Third of Valve Is Now Working on VR uploadvr.com
296 points by jn1234  2 days ago   197 comments top 21
jn1234 2 days ago 7 replies      
The by far most interesting comment from the thread is this one (It's by Alan Yates who works on Vive/SteamVR) https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4osav8/lighthouse_tra....

>Of course. We want AR/VR/MR to be ubiquitous.Over the past four years or so I've seen many companies big and small bring their demos to show and tell. They all have bits and pieces of the larger puzzle. Good eye tracking, interesting haptic techniques, next generation display technologies. But most of them are narrowly focused on their thing, and struggle alone to make a successful product. Partially this was just because the market didn't exist but also many of them were/are just trying to boil the ocean. The minimum viable product is now a pretty high bar and that can stifle innovation. We can offer a running start, the traditionally "hard" parts of HMD technology, the things other than GPUs that kept VR niche for so long.In return we ask that your device leveraging our technology works with our platform. And mostly that is it. We won't ask that it only works on our platform, we won't stop you from targeting other industries. This gives both you and your users freedom of choice and security that isn't dependant on either party's future decisions. It is a pretty good deal really. Our platform has a rapidly growing collection of great content for your end-users so your product won't be an orphan and you don't need to convince anyone to author for it. Day one people can fire up Tilt Brush and have their minds blown by your awesome new hardware.

If Valve games are "locked" to SteamVR and won't play on Oculus, then nobody is going to buy an Oculus. Does Facebook really think that people are going to choose Lucky's Tale over Portal 3 or Half-Life 3? Facebook is going to have to capitulate and focus on their hardware advantage.

partiallypro 2 days ago 9 replies      
In all of my experiencing of the new VR products, I am firmly in the position that it's not ready for public consumption yet and won't be for quite some time. The only real reason it's being pushed hard is because people have a fear of missing out. Meanwhile, if I were a company I'd be focusing on AR, because at least there you can push for enterprise customers which won't need the full immersion yet that a general consumer will clamor for. (I also think AR has a much brighter future)

I expect a lot of VR units are shown off to friends and thrown into the closet or put on a shelf to collect dust. It's something you show off, but not something you'll (at least 98% of people) use.

danso 2 days ago 4 replies      
The Valve publications page has a few slides and documents relating to Valve presentations regarding VR:


One of my favorite tidbits comes in the presentation, "Lessons learned porting Team Fortress 2 to Virtual Reality", on preventing VR motion sickness: http://media.steampowered.com/apps/valve/2013/Team_Fortress_...

> Dont change the users horizon line, ever. You can see here how the camera follows the motion and rotation of the characters head and so it rolls. Your actual head isnt going to roll when you get killed by an Eyelander, so the mismatch will make you sick.

Here's the presentation's video, bookmarked at the aforementioned insight:


For those of you non-TF2 players, the "Eyelander" is the name of a player-wieldable sword, and when it connects, the victim's head flies off and rolls around the ground. Apparently simulating that effect (changing the user's "horizon line") will make people very sick.

kendallpark 2 days ago 2 replies      
Of all the gaming companies, Valve makes the most sense to be this heavily invested in VR--given their stake in the PC-industry.

Or maybe too many devs thought VR was the coolist project to work on and moved to it. (Valve is known for their flat structure http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.p...)

baldfat 2 days ago 4 replies      
Half-Life 3 on VR would be the killer app. It would be this generations Lotus 1 2 3.

Though I personally feel VR for video games are a lot like Wii its awesome for a while then its collecting dust throughout the world. I really think the future is Augmented Reality and VR will be for mostly media consumption.

joezydeco 2 days ago 3 replies      
Jeri Ellsworth of CastAR (ex-Valve AR/VR hardware guru) did an interview recently* where she mentioned that Valve was kind of "painting themselves in a corner" by gearing their system's performance to play AAA-title games.

Now owners of those consoles will expect every game to be an AAA title.

* http://embedded.fm/episodes/156 @ 53:20

vocatus_gate 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish they would get back to what they used to do - make actual computer games. I still can't shake the nagging suspicion that the recent VR hype is just the product of the every-decade-or-so fad cycle (similar to what happened in the 80's with it).
ksec 2 days ago 2 replies      
Side observation.

So Valve now has an better VR Set then Oculus. And all of a sudden every news on VR seems to flowing in Valve direction.

This reminds me a lot of the early days when we move from iD 's Doom to Valve's Half Life.

Note: ( John Carmack = CTO of Oculus and Founder of iD )

fnazeeri 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been using an Oculus Rift for a few weeks and the experience is breathtaking. For example, there is an Apollo 11 educational game where you get to experience the mission from the point of view of Neil Armstrong or Michael Collins. I think it is hard to argue that "experiencing" history isn't far superior than reading about it. And the pure games like EVE Valkrie give you a cold sweat they are so immersive. Just my The cost right now are high, but no more than an iPhone. I think mainstream isn't too far away. My $0.02 at least.
JanneVee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't they? The computer industry is stagnating because people can use phones and tablets for most of their computing needs. VR has the potential to drive sales of high-end hardware again. And Valve has skin in that game.
contingencies 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've just spent a week here in Shenzhen, China. What was the most impressive thing? There are literally entire floors in the electronics markets here filled with VR headsets. Even if it's early stage hardware, someone has to be buying them.

As for killer apps, like every other technology it's a fair bet that commercial success #1 will be porn.

From a more cognitive standpoint, I've long felt that what segregates spatial awareness from other senses is the sheer volume of data that can be presented, reasoned with and remembered. As old school hunter-gatherer-wanderer primates, it's our highest bandwidth input. This reality will eventually be utilized for problem solving (eg. VR excel spreadsheet visualizations and black box / static code analysis may become a non-gimmick norm).

alimbada 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've come to realise that Valve is no longer a game developer.
diziet 2 days ago 2 replies      
VR is amazing and the opportunity is incredible. However, I am worried worried that the technology to produce high enough resolution displays will take some time to get here. Without smartphones driving the demand, will we get to 5-10k dpi displays for VR tech? We have 800 or so dpi displays rolling out, with current generation devices filling their FOV with about 500 dpi screens. We're driving 1.3-1.8m pixels per eye, but that is not enough if you want to pretend to gaze at something 20 meters away. The pixel density, especially in the center area of the display, should be much higher. Otherwise only abstract low polygon count content will work.
techdragon 2 days ago 2 replies      
So one third of Valve is working on VR... absolutely definitely not working on Half Life 3 or Portal 3. Which pushes their possible/probable/hypothetical release dates even further into the future. :-(
blastofpast 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wish Valve was publicly traded so that I can invest.
intrasight 2 days ago 0 replies      
After reading this thread, I have to comments:

1. Exclusivity on a headset? Replace "headset" with "monitor" and you get how childish, stupid, and impractical that will be.

2. I don't think monitor based games will transition well to headsets.

giskarda 2 days ago 1 reply      
And in the meantime no Half Life 3. What about priorities?
erikb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Half Life 3 will have VR confirmed!
josefdlange 2 days ago 0 replies      
Half-Life 3 Confirmed
ProAm 2 days ago 0 replies      
totoz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Erlang/OTP 19.0 has been released erlang.org
278 points by johlo  1 day ago   41 comments top 9
rdtsc 1 day ago 2 replies      
* Like the gen_statem new state machine.

* mnesia_ext : means a whole set of new possibilities to scale Mnesia. I think Klarna started that work and was using it in production. LevelDB was used for the backend.

* 3-5x faster open_port means being able to start and execute external executables. Forking was basically moved to fork a special process as opposed to main VM.

Tracing should be a lot faster as well. This is the one I mostly exciting. Been using tracing instead of adding log statement but if it is faster, it means can do more in production with it. Saw they have lttng as well. Also worth playing with.

* Code loading is now parallelized. So hopefully startup should be faster.

* Domain sockets. I know some people wanted this for ages. This should be nice. There were external project which did it, but it is nice to see it in the VM.

* os:perf_counter/1 function. Probably a read out of rdtsc or such instruction. That should be fun to use.

* ++ operator for lists now uses a single pass, so should be faster (before used to use another pass to check if list is proper).

* Observer now has configurable update frequency and length for graph windows. I'll be using that. I like observer.

Very impressive. Not a lot of 30 some year old languages make such kind of updates (yes Erlang is 30 years old this year, that is probably older than most HNers here).

smegel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Erlang is written in a ton of quite readable C and assembly. If you like delving into the internals of advanced software, it's well worth a read. Take the HiPe compiler for example:


It deals with running native and interpreted program code together, just reading the comments gives you a feel for the kind of low level concepts that go into making such an interpreter. I like this one:

 /* * Native code calls an emulated-mode closure via a stub defined below. * * The closure is appended as the last actual parameter, and parameters * beyond the first few passed in registers are pushed onto the stack in * left-to-right order. * Hence, the location of the closure parameter only depends on the number * of parameters in registers, not the total number of parameters. */

im_down_w_otp 1 day ago 2 replies      

 gen_statem a new state machine behavior
Very cool! For reasons not the least of which are the community involvement in its evolution.

 dialyzer: the support for maps is very much extended both the type specification syntax and the type analysis.
OMG! Yes! Finally `maps` don't have to be a giant escape hatch in the type-checking system.

 Experimental support for Unix Domain Sockets
Sweet tap-dancing Moses! This is awesome. I've wanted this for, so so so long. This should pave the way to all kinds of useful things. Better database clients, better Redis clients, more straightforward integration with things like libfiu and tcsd.

willyk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone who's interested, we have some relevant community-run, regional conferences coming up in NYC next month:

- Erlang Camp (Sat Jul 16), http://erlang.camp/

- Elixir Camp (Jul 15-17), http://elixircamp.io/

- Phoenix Camp (Jul 15-17), http://nyc.phoenix.camp

- Nerves Camp (Sun Jul 17), http://nerves.camp/

We've got a good mix of speakers coming together and the conference open to all (with suggested donation pricing for tickets).

We also still have a few session slots open if anyone wants to present (particularly around Erlang/OTP).

X4lldux 1 day ago 2 replies      
Exciting two days in Elixir world! Elixir 1.3, Ecto 2.0, Erlang/OTP 19 - amazing!
brightball 1 day ago 1 reply      
Everything around the Erlang\Elixir ecosystem just seems to be in a dramatic climb these days.
tbrooks 23 hours ago 1 reply      
And others think building on top of BEAM is risky...


anfroid555 1 day ago 1 reply      
erlang:open_port(spawn, ...) 3-5 times faster

mnesia_ext: plugin of external storage solutions to mnesia

andy_ppp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Amazing! Now how do I use Elixir 1.3 with the new Erlang VM?
Ethereum is Doomed nakamotoinstitute.org
298 points by kushti  2 days ago   208 comments top 28
DennisP 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have actually tested this attack technique (using my own contracts on a local test chain), and I've been in discussions with some Solidity developers and the guy who first published the attack. The situation is not as bad as this article claims.

For starters, you can use address.send(x) instead of address.call.value(x)(). All computations on Ethereum have to be funded with "gas" (transaction fees), and send() only forwards a small amount of gas. The recipient can write to the log but that's about it. TheDAO used .value() which forwards all the available gas.

If you do use .value(), then you can do it safely by doing it only once per method, as the very last step, and only using it in top-level methods. Then any sort of reentrant callback will find any required state changes already done. E.g. subtract from the user's balance, send the funds, and if the send fails then throw. The recipient can call back but the balance is already decremented. Using a mutex is another option. I've tested all this and it works.

There are a lot of reasons Ethereum is designed this way. The most common reason for a contract to run code when receiving funds is to prevent users from accidentally losing their money. E.g. in any contract that holds ether and maintains a ledger with balances for multiple users, if anyone sends ether to the contract address, they'll lose it, unless the contract either throws an exception or automatically adds to the user's balance on its ledger.

User addresses and contract addresses are interchangeable, because it lets you do things like use a multisig timelocked vault to receive funds and anything can send to it just as if it were a regular user account.

All that said, the devs are working on improvements too.

SlipperySlope 2 days ago 3 replies      
The programming classic "Mythical Man Month" had a chapter for the "second system effect". Its where developers put lots of complicated features in to the second system in a series. Its a pattern for failure.

In this case, Ethereum developers built a much more complicated cryptocurrency by making it Turing complete - to the extent of writing their own new computer language and virtual machine to run it.

They skipped over the halfway step of declaring parameters in the payment transactions, that open source enterprise library code, e.g. Java, could execute for for required behavior. No. They made the new code itself a user-contributed and immutable! part of the system.

munificent 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Solidity is like programming in JavaScript, except with your bank account accessible through the Document Object Model.

Such a beautiful, terrifying sentence.

mmanfrin 2 days ago 3 replies      
Having a little bit of trouble parsing how the attack worked -- so when a transfer happens, the destination account gets to run a command; they then ran a command that called the source's send-ether command, which ran because it was still in 'we owe destination account money' mode because the full initial contract had not concluded?

Then at some point it terminates itself before emptying the source account (and thereby causing a rollback that would cascade back?)

rwallace 2 days ago 1 reply      
The problem with Turing completeness is that if it's not there from the start, people inevitably end up needing features that aren't present in the restricted language, and then a Turing complete language is added to either the original system or a successor, and being an afterthought it usually ends up being a hack job.

Examples: SQL was supplemented with procedural languages for stored procedures, Excel was supplemented with VBA, HTML was supplemented with JavaScript and, well, Bitcoin was supplemented with Ethereum.

So providing a Turing complete language was the right decision as far as it goes, but it's not enough by itself. If you need reliability - which this does - it needs to be the case that typical code does not involves arbitrarily complex computation. Typical code needs to fit stereotyped patterns whose behavior is predictable.

If Ethereum is to continue, it's clear that exhorting people to try even harder not to make mistakes in the current version of Solidity, won't cut it. The language needs to be supplemented or replaced with something that makes it easy to write correct code for the kind of things people typically want to do.

erikpukinskis 2 days ago 1 reply      
People (rightly) make the same critique of Bitcoin: it is very easy for regular people to lose their money. To keep it safe you need to be a security expert, and even then there are no guarantees, and mistakes are forever.

My response is the same for both Bitcoin and Ethereum:

Even if these technologies are only used by trained professionals, they can still be revolutionary. Almost no one can safely operate a printing press, and yet that invention has toppled empires.

At worst, these are back office technologies. At best in a decade or two someone will figure out how to design a good enough GUI that a novice can safely explore a powerful subset the technology, trusting that bumpers are in place around the sharp edges.

3pt14159 2 days ago 8 replies      
Ethereum isn't doomed. I don't think it will ever have as much backing as Bitcoin because of institutional buy-in; but the world needs programmable smart contracts. Some rich soon-to-be-dead billionaire tech nerds want to be able to do something every year without worrying about a judge taking that away from them. Individual will is what cryptocurrencies are about. Bitcoin in terms of international payments and store-of-value; and Ethereum in terms of contracts and computing.
aakilfernandes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a better explanation of the attack: http://vessenes.com/more-ethereum-attacks-race-to-empty-is-t...

Ethereum is not doomed. But devs do need to be educated of this attack.

bithive123 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I thought again about my early plan of a new language or writing-system of reason, which could serve as a communication tool for all different nations... If we had such an universal tool, we could discuss the problems of the metaphysical or the questions of ethics in the same way as the problems and questions of mathematics or geometry. That was my aim: Every misunderstanding should be nothing more than a miscalculation (...), easily corrected by the grammatical laws of that new language. Thus, in the case of a controversial discussion, two philosophers could sit down at a table and just calculating, like two mathematicians, they could say, 'Let us check it up ...'" --Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
dkarapetyan 2 days ago 5 replies      
I didn't know the language was turing complete. Isn't this computing 101? If you want a secure thing then you must be able to reason about it statically. Making things turing complete means any non-trivial property of program correctness can not have a generic solution and so you've just opened yourself up to a world of hurt.
AceJohnny2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting a strong Accelerando deja-vu here.

(ref: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera... )

odrekf 2 days ago 0 replies      
As expected, "Ethereum is turing-complete" turned out to be just a marketing meme (or a horrible idea at best), just like "Litecoin is silver", "Doge is community", and all the others.
bobjones201606 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could the person who got the DAO's ETH create a contract to pay out miners who vote against a hard fork with the "stolen" ETH?
endergen 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love that Smart Contracts act basically as bug bounties to make the Ethereum systems, community knowledge, and open contracts improve dramatically.
anaphor 2 days ago 2 replies      
What if they had used a language without the possibility of recursion and without loops? I'm being serious. Languages that disallow certain types of recursion, and disallow loops exist. You'd think they would've used something that actually allows for total functions that are guaranteed to terminate in a certain way, instead of a JavaScript clone...
pt1988 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its too bad, I really thought Vitalik was the Chosen One, but I think he reacted incorrectly here by panicking and showing concern.

If I had been him I would have let DAO fail without even discussing any fork. Be as emotionless about it as the code itself. Admit mistakes were made, somebody (DAO investors) will lose some money in the short term but stay true to the principles of Ethereum.

PLUS even after all this drama, $ETH has a market cap of ~$1B as well as independence (fingers crossed) from government intervention making it an alternative to Fiat currency, as well as a much better block rate than BTC lending itself to mining on consumer-grade GPU's for the moment at least. I'm looking at litecoin LTC as my next crypto-bubble investment as well.

There's still lots of good to be said about Ethereum. DAO is toast, long live DAO2! Ethereum will come out stronger long term.

barisser 2 days ago 1 reply      
Software is almost always flawed to a certain extent.

The problem with Ethereum is that you can't push a fix to your contract.

thelollies 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if a language like Haskell with a strong type system and strict typing could help. If you were able to express exchange of currency with the type system.
apapli 2 days ago 0 replies      
Surely an issue here irrespective of technology flaws or not is the economic impact on the time taken to write smart contracts.

If it now takes substantially more dev time to write a smart contract that is "secure" (ie by spending lots and lots of time testing for vulnerabilities) this will invariably come at a cost.

So while the theory of smart contracts is brilliant this recent hack might go down in history as a case study as to why writing contracts is too expensive to do in all but the top 1% of situations.

lquist 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Coinbase founder that a month ago called ethereum the future of cryptocurrency looks kind of silly now.
Animats 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's now clear that Ethereum's contract system has major security vulnerabilities. This is a killer flaw for something which exists only to secure transactions between mutually mistrustful parties. Maybe someone else will do this again, better. Etherium itself probably is doomed.

There are also hard questions to ask the people involved. The same people seem to be behind Etherium, the DAO, and the programmable door-lock startup which the DAO was supposed to fund. This is suspicious. This might be an inside job. At least three times in the Bitcoin world, some Bitcoin exchange claimed they lost money due to a "hack", but in the end it turned out to be an inside job.

xoa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote this originally in response to a post by cyphar (https://news.ycombinator.com/reply?id=11942889), but I'd really love a response from anyone with more knowledge or thoughts on how the law might interpret this situation in relation to already existing "virtual legal systems". cyphar wrote:

 "It was definitely fraud. Either it was a contract, in which case "taking $50 million without anyone's consent" doesn't pass the officious bystander test. Otherwise it wasn't a contract, so the default is still fraud (though in that case, the DAO would be the thing being defrauded rather than the investors)."
I'd like significantly more details on your legal theory for how this was "definitely fraud" or how "the default is fraud" if there was no legal contract, the split executor was a direct party to the agreement, and the terms of the agreement were followed. "$50 million" was not taken, 3.6 million or so "ether" was split out from the original smart contract/account, which may or may not end up having some dollar value.

In at least two previous threads [1, 2], comparisons were made to the MMOG EVE Online (developed by CCP Games), and I think the analogy raises some interesting questions. EVE is a self-contained artificial system that, so long the system framework itself is not exploited, is ruled entirely by code. It has a digital currency (ISK) that has an official conversion rate from real world fiat currency to ISK, and an unofficial ToS breaking (but non-criminal AFAIK) conversion rate from ISK back to fiat. CCP has nothing to do with this exchange, but exchanges for ether to other currencies are also 3rd party. Virtual items as well as ISK itself thus have calculable value, both within the system, in terms of time/rarity, and in terms of nation-state issued money. There are person-actor driven "contracts" of various sorts, and people driven markets. There is fraud, piracy, and pure chaotic destruction as well, and that's considered entirely within the system framework so long as the overall code rules of the world are not violated.

Given that, what exactly is the legal difference between the DAO and EVE Online? In EVE, if Alice attacks Bob, or infiltrates his organization, and steals/destroys a few hundred billion in ISK (equivalent to a few thousand dollars at current exchange rate), or sets up a fraudulent bank/scheme that makes off with hundreds of billions or trillions (this has actually happened), do you think Bob should be able to sue in a real world court of law? The essence of the situation looks similar/identical to me: that the parties are operating under a non-contract non-legal agreement to be governed within the a specific set of world rules, and that therefore any interactions within those world rules, however angry they might get about it on a personal level and whatever colloquial English they might use to describe it, creates no legal standing of any sort outside. If EVE client/server were hacked (the world rules distorted) it'd be an issue (though still not necessarily a legal one), just as if the Ethereum VM was hacked it'd be an issue, but if those were operating entirely as they should be then what's the basis of legal complaint? What's the generalized objective basis for court involvement in people agreeing to mess around with made up numbers on computers, even if other people decide to try to exchange those numbers for money?

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11925904

2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11929208

baybal2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Fiy, i recently came upon this company http://m.imgur.com/Hv9n7fk,55JgdgK that wants to sell ETH to Chinese. I checked the company registry, and found out that the guy has registered a proprietorship back in 2013.

Apparently a friend of Vitalik

anonbanker 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Doom articles mean market debasement is happening.

If you have the ability to invest, this is a good time to do so. you're about to see massive increases in valuation.

yarrel 2 days ago 0 replies      
....to succeed. ;-)
teslaberry 2 days ago 0 replies      
run for the bitcoin hills!.
heliumcraft 2 days ago 0 replies      
Absolute trash article.
cheez 2 days ago 3 replies      
> They created a situation in which bugs would be expected to arise in an environment in which bugs are legally exploitable. That is hacker heaven.

Every single system has this problem. You think banks aren't hacked?

Tech Companies Fight Back After Years of Being Deluged with Secret FBI Requests theintercept.com
260 points by uptown  1 day ago   73 comments top 11
bgentry 1 day ago 6 replies      
The FBIs decision to ask companies for everything and let them figure out what theyre required to turn over has had the effect of potentially putting smaller companies with fewer resources at a disadvantage, say national security attorneys. Without expensive legal representation and a familiarity with the law, companies might turn over more content than is necessary.

You'd think the FBI wouldn't be able to just demand all kinds of stuff they have no legal right to.

It's sad that the current state of our legal and political systems allows this sort of tactic to be effective and go unpunished.

kyledrake 1 day ago 3 replies      
One not-perfect trick: Stop retaining sensitive information. There is nothing in law that forces you to do retain things like IP addresses.


Then they can harass you for data all the time with illegal shit "court" orders and you can give them garbage and they can do nothing about it.

This is the best method I've seen for dealing with this problem on a budget. Unfortunately the tradeoff is losing a lot of not-especially-effective tools for dealing with spammers and the like.

rsync 1 day ago 2 replies      
The rsync.net warrant canary is 10 years old this year.


jfoutz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if companies could just invoice the FBI for document processing or administrative fees. Just follow the FOIA fee structure. Or, charge a whole lot.

You can't make the NSL public, but it's not like you're complying with a warrant or something that would be immune from fees.

Of course the government will refuse to pay, so you sue. Presumably you could subpoena the emails around the NSL without disclosing the NSL. "We need to get this information from $tech_company", $tech_company provided the information. pay me.

walid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Had the FBI put a reasonable position on the table five years ago they probably wouldve got that through, Gidari argues. Theyre their own worst enemy on this stuff.
arca_vorago 1 day ago 0 replies      
The FBI et al issue NSL's without a court order and on their own prerogative correct?

In that case the FBI can get a warrant like the constitution they swore to uphold demands of them.

I'm tired of people bending over backwards for unconstitutional poppycock like warrant-less surveillance. It's a fundamental part of the supreme law of the land, the constitution!

ianpurton 1 day ago 3 replies      
Just playing devils advocate but...

Aren't the FBI the good guys going about catching criminals and terrorists? So aren't we morally obliged to help rather than stamp our feet and say no and then publish a blog post about how we are fighting back against the tyranny of law enforcement. FFS.

rhizome 1 day ago 0 replies      
vonklaus 1 day ago 3 replies      
> The FBIs decision to ask companies for everything and let them figure out what theyre required to turn over has had the effect of potentially putting smaller companies with fewer resources at a disadvantage, say national security attorneys. Without expensive legal representation and a familiarity with the law, companies might turn over more content than is necessary.

Tech companies should jst turn over more than they're required. If they demand info on 5 users, send 10K gzipped blend of fake & real users and random images from imgur.

beedogs 1 day ago 0 replies      
At this point, I honestly fail to see why the FBI is allowed to continue existing. They seem antithetical to a democratic society.
nxzero 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would be curious to know if given the choice of supporting mass surveillance or not being able to use services and products from brands like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Wikipedia, etc. - what consumers would choose.

If they'd opt to use those brands, seems like the answer to change maybe very simple.

But he does good work. medium.com
412 points by jarcane  2 days ago   260 comments top 33
danso 2 days ago 6 replies      
I typed this response to a comment that called the OP "mostly bullshit" and that if someone does wrong, it is incumbent upon the victim to file charges or forever hold their peace. The comment was flagged so I couldn't submit what I typed, so I've pasted it here.

I agree that it's hard to find black and white in accusations...but I'd argue that even the judicial system leaves more than enough gray to argue over. And because of that, I don't believe that things are ever as simple "if something is wrong, file charges" -- just like it's never as easy as "if you love someone, put a ring on it."

I'll likely have the privilege of never having to file charges for rape, but once I had to file charges as a victim of armed robbery. Even though I had plenty of evidence, in hand and forthcoming (Android location tracing)...I had a hell of a time convincing a detective that I wasn't faking a robbery for insurance purposes, just because I wasn't clear exactly what block i was on when it happened. I can't even fucking imagine what it is like convincing the system that sexual assault (or even harassment) has happened, but I imagine the friction is enough to deter people from taking necessary action until it's too late. It seems that some of these victims are able to talk themselves out of thinking that a colleague truly did wrong, and when others step up, they realize their mistake in being quiet.

epberry 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wow this is messed up. This guy is clearly a predator and it's pretty shocking that he was able to operate in this way for so long. As much as women can be marginalized and harassed at tech companies I can easily see how the problem could be much worse with organizations like the Tor Project or Wikileaks that don't necessarily have professional management.

> These are causes, not just jobs or consulting gigs. They are symbols for fighting injustice, and crusading for those at risk of exploitation. Their reputations are fraught and fragile. To attack a person in them is to attack the movement. They are also male-dominated organizations, in the male-dominated realm of hacking, where very few of the men are willing to accept that their hacker heroes, team bosses, and conference buddies might be doing really, really fucked up things to women.

Above was the passage that struck me the most and seems like the most contributing factor for Jake's inexplicably long tenure. When you are constantly under attack by the powers that be it might seem rational to brush aside accusations against one of your most prominent members and plow ahead. Obviously this was a disastrous decision, both for the women involved and the organization.

EDIT: a word.

kendallpark 2 days ago 2 replies      
This one of the most disturbing pieces I've read on this topic. Disgusting.

"When harassment, sexual or otherwise, requires a cost-benefit analysis, you have failed."

pwenzel 1 day ago 0 replies      
> CULT OF THE DEAD COW is known for a lot of things, but treating people horribly is not one of them. If communities are to thrive and remain relevant we have to do some housecleaning from time to time. As we have become aware of the anonymous accusations of sexual assault, as well as the stories told by individuals we know and trust, weve decided to remove Jake from the herd effective immediately.


fhood 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sometimes the hardest part about dealing with people like this is that they seem to have multiple personalities. Thus a person that to me (white male) seems like a great guy, may not be that same person at all when they interact with others (women or minorities for instance). It can be really difficult to reconcile the person you know with the person that other people are interacting with, and when glimpses of this less pleasant personality show through in casual comments and the like, it is all too easy to write them off as jokes, because no one wants to believe that their friend is a bad person.
adwn 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Most of the outlets are having a hard time wrapping their heads around how this could go on so long within arenas whose missions are to fight against injustice and power imbalances, and to champion whistleblowers.

I see no dichotomy whatsoever. In fact, I would even say that individuals and organizations that pursue a "higher calling" (in this case, freedom from governmental authority) are more willing to sacrifice some less-valued members for the higher good as evidenced by statements like "But he does good work".

Besides, not everyone who belongs to an ideological organization is in it for the ideology; some are there for the power and influence they can achieve from rising through the ranks. Judging by the descriptions given in this article, Jacob Appelbaum appears quite power hungry and manipulative.

camperman 2 days ago 6 replies      
A blog is no substitute for due process. Appelbaum may be guilty of all of the things he's been accused of, he may be guilty of none of them. Let's see some formal charges, sworn witness statements and court proceedings before we decide. False accusations can and do happen all the time.
infodroid 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why does it seem like people working in tech have such a hard time keeping their personal and professional lives separate?

I'm not just talking about incidents of poor conduct.

It's also the fact people are exchanging insults and serious accusations over blog posts.

It's not like the observers have the facts and evidence to make fair judgements on these matters.

The whole trial by social media is really embarrassing to the profession.

smoyer 1 day ago 6 replies      
From an older guy (and happily married) guy to the male population in tech.

If you see behaviors like this and let it happen, you're complicit ... if you're in a position of authority (someone's boss) and you let it happen, you may also be criminally liable.

But it's far worse ... what I hope is a small minority of bad actors are defining the definition of male in our culture. Since there's an even smaller number men who are willing to speak out against them, and an ocean of those who don't want to be involved in the middle, only a mere whisper of voices are countering those who, to be honest, tend to be the loud-mouth, misbehaving misogynists. It's time for the gentlemen to step up their game.


If you're being harassed, sexually or otherwise, within my earshot, I will take action to stop it. I'm not offering hugs of consolation but rather to stand between you and the abuse. I will protect you (potentially a stranger) as I would a member of family or any of my close friends. Those of us with spouses, daughters (and sons) want safe places for them to work too!

I originally wrote "If you're a woman being harassed ..." but realize there are many cases where a bully is harassing someone who shares their gender. And in the corporate world, there are always predators taking credit for others work (according to recent studies, it's the psychopaths that rise to the top).

I've had a long career in technology, and in theory have enough of a reputation that I can afford to spend some political capital. I think the younger men who are "just starting out" have a bigger voice than they realize, but they need to band together. Let's take back the organizations that have degraded to this point ... when there's nowhere left for people like Applebaum to work, I still won't feel sorry for him.

What's it going to be boys? ... are you willing to step up your game? To behave like men? Or better yet, to become a real gentleman?


lusen 2 days ago 2 replies      
our cultural environment gives us a bias toward downplaying the problem of rape and sexual harassment. i've found this thought experiment helpful in exploring bias:

rape is torture. for some it is worse than murder.

sexual harassment is aggression. for some it is worse than being punched in the face.

how would you feel if someone at your work murdered or punched someone else?

how would you feel if there was a systemic cultural inequity such that 1 in 3 people could expect to be murdered or punched at some point in their life?

ps - the opposite of rape (bully) culture is nurturance (support) culture.

adrusi 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article presents evidence that Appelbaum was a creep, but theres a big gap between creep and rapist. Pseudonymous accusations don't make for very compelling evidence.

Regardless, my intuition is inclined to accept his guilt, not that I, or almost any of the internet commenters, are really qualified to pass that judgement.

But when these cases arise, I can't help but think how easy it would be to manufacture a rape scandal, especially against a charismatic man, especially if they're a creep. I would think that security-minded people would be the first to realize this, but alas. Every time there's a public reaction like this, with the accused being fired and publicly shamed before any rigorous investigation even begins, we show potential defamers that the strategy works. It's a hard problem, because we want to support victims, but we can't ignore the fact that the accused could be the greatest victim of all.

We have to postpone judgement in cases like these, until stronger evidence emerges, else we risk creating an environment where everyone has to live in fear of false scandals. We can't let that get in the way of reporting on the case, but at least we shouldn't give any credance to crap like the "skewering" article refuting Appelbaum's denial [1] (what statement of denial would have convinced the author?) and we shouldn't be respecting statements like in the Wired article [2]:

Shepard also says shes spoken directly with one of Appelbaums alleged victims, who told Shepard in February of this year that Appelbaum had raped him or her. Sadly I think its the damn truth. Hes a charismatic, socially dominant manipulator, Shepard writes to WIRED. I absolutely believe the accusers.

He's a charismatic, socially dominant manipulator, therefore he raped this woman? Does muscularity implicate someone in a mugging? The fact that you spoke with someone who spoke with an alleged victim and they were convinced, is meaningless, considering how many people are convinced of Appelbaum's guilt without knowing almost anything about the case.

[1] https://medium.com/@frabyn/decoding-jake-appelbaum-9fa75d060...

[2] https://www.wired.com/2016/06/tor-developer-jacob-appelbaum-...

mcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, there is a bright side to all this.

Social engineering is still the easiest, most successful approach to breaking any security infrastructure. Intelligence agencies have a long history of using sexual-antic-related blackmail as a lever against their opponents.

But if nobody cares, it becomes somewhat more difficult to apply the lever.

gooseyard 2 days ago 6 replies      
If a guy like this were to get a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis, what do you suppose it'd be? Not that I feel bad for the guy, mind you, rather I feel it'd be helpful to the community of people who have been affected by this kind of behavior to have an accurate name for it other than just saying the guy is a douchebag.

I knew a guy in college who had some aspects of this guy's behavior and was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (tragically, he fully embraced his condition), but I only have an armchair knowledge of psychiatry and I'd be interested to hear what somebody with experience has to say about it.

Bartweiss 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can anyone fill me in on more details of the Snowden connection there?

The rest of this article is quite thorough, and this topic certainly deserves more public discussion of what went wrong and what should be done in the future. Obviously this episode should unsettle those who have concluded that the claims are true, and even those who are uncertain should take a look at how these issues circulated for so long without being brought to a head.

The Snowden comment, though, confused me. Appelbaum accepted an award on his behalf, but as far as I knew that's about the extend of it. CCC and Assange have been tied into the community for long enough to have heard these things, and I can understand the comment about how they should have vetted Appelbaum.

Snowden (to my knowledge) had no real connections in this community, and Appelbaum only stepped up to bask in his glow once he was in hiding and largely restricted from 'vetting' others. There might be questions about why no one else who knew the claims stepped in, but barring more evidence I have trouble with the claim that Snowden has something to answer for.

I don't want to push too hard on one off-hand comment in a much larger piece, but I've already seen this used as ammunition to discredit Snowden: "If his actions are so good, why did he have anything to do with Appelbaum?" It seems like a bad meme to spread without some explanation of why he should have known about as-yet-unpublicized accusations.

srtjstjsj 1 day ago 1 reply      
> I turned to Jake and said, I think you have me confused with a certain blonde blogger,

Who is that referring to? Is the audience supposed to know, or was that in inside reference

_greim_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Setting aside for the moment the facts of this particular case, I thought the article makes a good point in general.

> When harassment, sexual or otherwise, requires a cost-benefit analysis, you have failed.

NetTechM 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, if he did it, he deserves whatever the judge gives him.

Seems like there is a ton of twitter drama surrounding this, which I tend to avoid so I'll leave it at that.

CGamesPlay 1 day ago 0 replies      
All of the commentary here is hedging against this anonymous rape claim. What bothers me is that if we throw that argument out there is still clearly some huge injustice going on here. With this hook the commentators here are seeking to disarm the entire rest of the argument. The nail in the coffin for me was when the Tor leadership acknowledged the harassment evidence but allowed it to continue. That's inexcusable.

The actual criminal allegations should be settled in court.

clavalle 1 day ago 2 replies      
Perhaps I am being stereotypically Texan here, but sometimes I wish there was space in our legal and ethical system to kick someone's ass for behavior that doesn't reach the level of provable criminality but that still calls for more than a sharp rebuke, public shaming, or ostracism. Our current status quo of 'violence is never the answer' seems to give assholes a bit too much wiggle room to make the rest of us suffer.
ihsw 1 day ago 0 replies      
So why hasn't anyone smashed his face yet? Surely an insufferable sexual failure like Applebaum should've attracted that kind of attention.

Did every single person -- every victim, bystander, and authority figure -- deftly slink away or obediently succumb to his forcible coercion?

Maybe I'm just a violent individual with anger issues but I would've had no problem with physically correcting his behavior.

peterwwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Most of the outlets are having a hard time wrapping their heads around how this could go on so long within arenas whose missions are to fight against injustice and power imbalances, and to champion whistleblowers.

So, again, this was basically personal power within an in-group. It can happen in literally any in-group, because it's a social dynamic, and social dynamics don't follow the ethos of an organization, they follow human heuristics.

The "stories" make for juicy reading, but the details of this case aren't special. Jake's is one of the most blatant, obvious, ongoing examples i've heard of, but similar situations happen in a variety of ways, usually far less obvious. Since the hacker scene is very much an exclusive in-group of outsiders, this kind of person is much more accepted there. But you'll still find these kinds of situations everywhere.

serg_chernata 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am completely on her side and this dude seems sketchy.

However, Macrina's story mentioned in a different article[0] sounded very very strange to me. I simply don't understand how Macrina, a working professional adult, can follow that kind of logic. To me it simply sounds like she made a mistake and now regrets it.

[0] - http://gizmodo.com/another-woman-has-accused-jacob-appelbaum...

moon_of_moon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Applebaum's side of the story:http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1soorlp
HarryHirsch 2 days ago 2 replies      
Everyone who advocates for codes of conduct needs to have a hard look at the Appelbaum story and answer cogently how a code of conduct would have defended against Jacob Appelbaum. That's the great weakness, they do not work at all against anyone in an elevated social position.
DanBC 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's really important that we understand why it's hard for people to stand up against abuse. It's very easy to say "I would", and maybe you would, but we see time and time again that it's hard for people to make that stand.
srtjstjsj 1 day ago 0 replies      
How did the Kink thing stay quiet so long? There you have a corporate situation, with real lawsuit money on the table, and (I expect) sympathetic management.
simula67 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does the flags on the comments affect if the story itself get flagged ?
33a 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well. Now I'm disgusted and freaked out for the rest of the day.
throvwavvay 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is the point of having a trial by media like this? If we want social change, could we first define the requirement for trial by media?

We got statements from the accusers. We got statement from the accused. We got statement from people who are not victims but claim to speak for them (ie prosecutors). We got people who are neither the accuser nor accused, but instead talks in favor/against a conviction (ie lawyers). We got a jury, ie all the comments here on HN and articles on media platforms. All that is missing from a real court is the unbiased judge who can specify the rules and finalize a judgement.

For those 100+ comments in here, particular those that make a direct or implied judgement, do you think we should replace the court system by articles like this? The current justice system has problems. It requires time, energy, and often capital from victims. Sometimes the guilt gets away. Sometimes the innocent get locked up. There is a lot of fear of not being believed. A lot of self-doubt. Privacy is lost for both the accuser/victim and accused/perpetrator. Social relationships can be destroyed, and risk of retaliation is high. Trial by media really sound as a tempting solution, and all we need to give up seems to be that of a impartial judge and the rules.

notes: Its fun to see the up and down votes in real time. 1->4->2->5->1->3. The Zero replies make for a interesting discussion.

shasta 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is there really a big problem with acceptable/legal behavior not being agreed upon? Isn't the problem usually that the guy claims "it was consensual?" Similarly, when police consider what a woman was wearing, isn't usually in the context of figuring out who's story they believe? In other words, the police aren't thinking "well, she wore a sexy dress and followed him to his room and therefore deserved to get raped" but rather "well, she wore a sexy dress and followed him up to his room so maybe his claims that it was consensual are true." I get that you don't want police to blame the victim, but isn't it just as/more important that they correctly figure out who the victim is?
moon_of_moon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reflagging the comment, because it's wrong in predictable ways.

Firstly, the conspiracy-theory reference to "establishment-mandated"; and secondly peer-to-peer situations are quite full enough of power relations. Especially as between men and women.

js8 2 days ago 5 replies      
I disagree with the black and white view of morality that the article espouses. If people do something wrong, they should be punished, but banning them from community entirely seems a little medieval to me.

People are human, and sometimes they are complicated, and can do good and bad at the same time.

Where have all the iOS games gone? minotaurproject.co.uk
301 points by chadaustin  18 hours ago   189 comments top 28
fnayr 18 hours ago 14 replies      
I hear this myth perpetuated incessantly. (That there's no more middle ground in the app store, only the Clash of Clans and Candy Crushes and the rest with no downloads). People paint the picture that it's the top 0.1% and everyone else with an unsustainable business.

The truth is there's plenty of us in the middle still. My two person iOS dev studio has pulled in 6 figures a year for the past 4 years. The problem is not that there's no middle ground, it's that the everyone used to get guaranteed downloads, and with the removal of new releases and the never ending flood of apps, 90% of apps will get just about zero downloads after launch nowadays.

But there's still plenty of room for small studios like us who know their target audience and what works on the app store to make a sustainable business. So I'd say top 0.1% for the insane successes that can support hundreds of employees, but for a small studio, just getting in the top 5% can work.

If you're curious about numbers, check thinkgaming.com, to see that the top 200 grossing game is still pulling ~$10K a day on iPhone in the US alone. When you add all countries, tablets, and Android devices, you start to see you don't need a top 10 or even top 100 grossing app to make some serious cash.

So while it has gotten a lot tougher in the app store and it's increasingly difficult for newcomers with no experience to hit it big, there's still very much a thriving middle ground between the insane successes and the utter failures. I suspect that it's not well known is due to the fact that those in similar positions to us don't want to dish out the valuable knowledge they've acquired through years of experience that could only increase the competition.

billyjobob 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel it's worth pointing out this isn't just some blog by any old indie development studio. This is a blog by Jeff Minter. The man practically invented home computer gaming. I was buying his games with my allowance 35 years ago, because they were great. And I still buy them today, because they are still great. If Jeff Minter can't make the App Store work then no-one can. (Although he probably could have done if he had been willing to make crappy games with in app purchase rather than make good games. )
buserror 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Weird, I was a die hard mac developer (since 1984), and I immediately stopped when iOS came out with the app store. Like, stopped /dead/.

The reason I could be a Mac Developer was the small pond; There wasn't a LOT of work, but there was enough for good people, and it paid well. On balance I /never/ developed anything for windows, because of the 'tree vs forest' problem : Even if you are REALLY fantastically good, there are so many people on the market that you can't possibly stand out.

And that's why I never even wrote a single iOS app, even tho i was a wiz at ObjC and OSX (Imagine a Classic MacOS dev thrown together with a UNIX wiz, and that's me); it was guaranteed to bring in the 'forest' to OSX as well, and make any 'edge' more or less pointless.

Also, from what I've seen, if anyone comes out with a nice app/game, there's a dozen or more group of people who will throw their dev team at copying it immediately, diluting any hope of revenue. It's these guys business model after all, you just can't win, and it's not like you can defend your IP anyway.

So, 2016, I wonder what took people so long to realize it was all doomed but for a tiny fraction of apps.

eludwig 18 hours ago 5 replies      
The amazing thing to me is that at WWDC, Tim Cook (I think that's who announced it) seemed genuinely thrilled that there are over 2,000,000 apps for iOS. So sad and useless. You could hear the barely contained horror of the assembled developers. iOS has become a victim of its own success.

I guess the market will eventually sort it out, but when? 2030?

eirikref 17 hours ago 1 reply      
As a user who frequently opened the AppStore just to browse, discover new apps, and who used to buy a lot, I've just stopped opening the AppStore over the last three-four years. Browsing and discovery has become too hard for me, and I feel like they're pushing games too hard.

I used to buy a lot of games as well, but often I was just in the mood to look for some neat applications. If I could somehow filter out all games and just browse apps across all categories, I might still browse the AppStore regularly and still buy apps (including games, when I'm in the mood for that). The end result now is that they've lost a customer who used to buy new apps every week.

jarjoura 14 hours ago 3 replies      
How is it that Sony PS4/Vita stores can sell these same indie games for $20 a pop? Sony pushes these games hard and gives every one of them a fair amount of free marketing. They also celebrate their game developers by writing about them on their blogs and press-releases.

The Apple App store in its current iteration is just mentally exhausting. Everytime I open it up I'm presented with a new grid of app icons and no context to why I should care.

To further detriment, Apple has trained the market to stay away from 3rd party curation of iOS apps in any kind of useful way. So we're left only with a gateway of lists. That's nice, but not worth my time.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but ultimately an indie game has limited replay value because they're just so small in scope, but they're usually a lot of fun. So a one time upfront payment to enjoy for a few weeks is a great business strategy I think.

Edit: Not to sound like I'm bashing Apple here, as I don't think the Google Play store does it any better.

makecheck 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I recently tried for about 10 minutes to find a game that met my criteria, using the iOS version of the App Store. I wasnt asking for much (at least, so I thought): I wanted a game that could be purchased once (no In-App Purchases), and I wanted a particular category. The search was practically futile; every single match was In-App Purchases. I even decided to stop caring about the category and it was the same.

The browsing experience was almost unbelievably inefficient; I found myself scrolling through handfuls of games when I should have been able to rule out dozens. Apple likes to show you only the icon most of the time, which is really quite a terrible way to browse; you keep having to go in, out, in out, to learn anything about whats in the list.

I ended up buying nothing at all because I couldnt even tell if there were games that supported buy-once without any of the usual bullshit gem-buying tactics. Despite having simple goals, the App Store just failed me.

retromario 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Yeah it's a challenging market.

Just to add another data point, we're small indie (games) developer, we spent over a year on our first title with very little marketing budget and these are our sales figures from our launch: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/YacineSalmi/20160519/273030/E...

In short, decent sales but not enough to recoup our costs. Still, we never expected that we would hit gold on the first try. I think to be as sustainable on iOS you either have a successful niche product or a collection of product, with each release building a further revenue stream.

diziet 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It's often hard for indie developers without marketing budgets, but in the same vein the whole gaming market on iOS is doing tremendously well. Here's a high level snapshot of iPhone earning by country, month by month:


The industry grew a lot - surely driven by the most successful titles, but also for the longer tail of developers. More of the total revenue and earnings are captured by the top 100 publishers -- but still, even compared to 2012 or 2013, the 10000th biggest app is earning more due to the opening of all the new territories.

The game earning model moved from a hits based model, where you launch with lots of hype and reviews and generate a lot of earnings in the initial months to a model where long playing loyal players stick with the game over many months & years and monetize via longer term in app purchases. It's not possible to bring back 2010. We need to be ok with that and learn to engage users over longer timelines.

ascotan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's sad. You don't need to see income metrics to support this, just look at the quality of the games. I'm an avid consumer of iphone games and the quality of them has been getting worse and worse.

Really neat and creative games seems are gone and we're left with 'Qbert' and 'Bejeweled' clones being recommended as 'featured games'. Most of the great iOS shops seems to have left the market or have been drowned out in a sea of 'crapware'.

It seems that to be successful in this market you need to go back to advertising. Apple makes it very very hard to sort crap from quality, so you have to get your brand/name out there.

mmanfrin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There are only so many combinations of the words [Lord|War|Clan|Battle|Fight|Clash|Of|Reign|King].
NEDM64 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, try your luck at Android or Consoles or PC.

Never noticied the AppStore was some kind of heaven where money rained.

Seriously, so much entitlement. If you want to make money selling games, you have to spend a lot in advertising, how much does Clash of Clans and etc spend? It's the rules, it always has been, what's the surprise? Maybe it worked for a couple of months out of novelity, but it doesn't work any more.

Get real, people.

And yes, it's free games with IAP the rules. Because they are designed for kids without credit cards that at most buy iTunes gift cards. And yes, it's jewel and candy games, because that's what there is for girls, which are 50% of the population that the "mainstream gaming" has abandoned.

highCs 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Aside some interesting comments here I find very true, my theory is that you should treat your game has a startup product: customers will not come, you have to chase them. And get them talk to their friends about your game. Just launching a game and making some marketing wont work. You need: feedback loop + word of mouth + growth.
douche 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Someday, we'll realize that games on a tiny, fiddly touchscreen with no tactile response, is kind of a stupid idea. I would much rather play games on my dusty old Gameboy Color than struggle with a phone.
joeblau 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a game that I made over a 4 day period on iOS and Android. It's not brining in much revenue, but it was a cool challenge. My game isn't really that great, but I haven't touched it in over a year as well as there is no motivation to keep working on it. Once too many bugs start showing up, I'll probably pull it from all 3 app stores.
kmiroslav 14 hours ago 0 replies      
You know the situation is bleak when even the legendary Jeff "llama" Minter says he can't make money on the app store.
projectramo 17 hours ago 6 replies      
Wait a second:

" the first non-iOS game I did after spending two years on iOS, released on a Sony handheld that many describe as being obscure, generated literally thousands of times more income for us than two years and ten games on iOS with its potential billions of users."

What was the platform? I wonder if there is a strategy to be carved out making games for Windows 10, Linux mobile, etc.

ajeet_dhaliwal 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Same reason I stopped making games for iOS years ago. I too did truly enjoy making them though. I created original games and the effort all outside working hours overnight and weekends did at least teach me skills I still utilize today.
reiichiroh 13 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who enjoyed Tempest, isn't Minter a bit of an industry grump now? Albeit someone who's shipped games unlike Chris Crawford.
triptych 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Toucharcade is a great site / resource to find and learn about iOS games.
jpeg_hero 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Apple needs to move the "standard price" from 0.99 one time download -> 0.99 per year

Delete app to unsubscribe

Remove 0.99 one time pricing

$5.00 minimum one time download price

profeta 16 hours ago 1 reply      
history will look back on this iphone era we are living as the second dark age.
bolasanibk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The site seems to be down.

Link to the Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:-8QtKz9...

mucker 18 hours ago 3 replies      
The platform cratered with the dominance of pay to win games and the "freemium" model. This allowed the store to be cluttered with junk. I can't shop there, because I'm not sure what I am buying.
ccvannorman 17 hours ago 1 reply      
One iOS game I enjoyed and recently rediscovered is GeoDefense. I highly recommend it (at $3.99 I think) and it is definitely a middle-ground app. I estimate they made between 500K - 5M lifetime sales over 4 years with both games.
alttab 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So much conversation and not a single reference to App Annie? Look at the data yourselves.
melling 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw this article yesterday about how more and more apps have become abandoned:


The App Store will keep growing but it won't be good if half the apps are abandoned.

golergka 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Apple, goddamn. You had a potential major gaming platform on your hands but almost 10 years later, we're stuck with $5-10 CPIs and store that doesn't even try to do anything with the long tail. Just open up Steam sometimes if you wonder how it should've been done.
Apple confirms iOS kernel code left unencrypted intentionally techcrunch.com
293 points by shritesh  13 hours ago   114 comments top 13
headShrinker 11 hours ago 4 replies      
A move like this fits with a more general ideology Apple has been advocating for the last three years. Privacy, security, and ultruism. Tim Cook has put is mark on the company. One of the first things he did was apologize, (for maps) something unheard of in Apple's culture. I haven't drank the cool-aid and Apple has a lot of issues. I do see they however are making attempts at differentiating from the general corporate behavior of the telecoms and Google. Cook is differentiating from Jobs as well.
AdmiralAsshat 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I suppose this is the only way to definitively stop any three-letter agencies from asking you to backdoor your kernel.
gcr 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there any modern kernel in widespread use that runs while encrypted in RAM?

What kind of attacks would encrypting a running kernel prevent? The kernel and hardware work together to enforce memory safety, so it can't be to prevent a rogue process from reading kernel memory...

Edit: Is this talking about encrypting the kernel image in permanent storage, or encrypting a running kernel in RAM? When booting Linux for example, the boot loader will load the Linux kernel image into memory as a gzip-compressed blob. The kernel's first instructions are a small decompressor program that unpack the rest of the kernel image into memory and then jumps into the uncompressed kernel. Did previous iOS versions do something similar to their saved kernel image?

justinsaccount 13 hours ago 2 replies      
"The kernel cache doesnt contain any user info, and by unencrypting it were able to optimize the operating systems performance without compromising security," an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch.

"Apple confirms iOS kernel code left unencrypted intentionally"

Which is it, cache (of what?) or code?

ericmsimons 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Could this be an invitation for researchers to find a backdoor the NSA required Apple to put in there? Or are they just utilizing the crowd to help secure against NSA attacks?
comex 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The kernel and the root FS are now unencrypted - but not other things, such as the bootloaders (iBoot, LLB) and the firmware for the SEP (Secure Enclave Processor, used to handle things like Touch ID).
gionn 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The kernel cache doesnt contain any user info, and by unencrypting it were able to optimize the operating systems performance without compromising security,

This is probably the only true part of the article, it means that they disabled a kernel feature of cache encryption to speed-up performances.

It has nothing to do with source code nor binaries of the kernel.

fowl2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully they didn't tie their integrity/authenticity enforcement to their encryption...

Although I'm guessing the whole segment is loaded into ram and verified by the bootloader at boot then never touched again.

majewsky 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> This would have been an incredibly glaring oversight, like forgetting to put doors on an elevator

You mean a paternoster? :)

peterkelly 12 hours ago 1 reply      
In other news: Google admits source code used in Android kernel can be accessed by hackers
chronid 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> The kernel manages security and limits the ways applications on an iPhone or iPad can access the hardware of the device, making it a crucial part of the operating system.

The kernel technically is the OS, TC! Come on... :)

dguido 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is stupid. Anyone interested in writing jailbreaks for iOS would have already had access to these binaries. People are blowing this way out of proportion.
NEDM64 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Must be a revolutionary new feature called "jailbreak bait"...
Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores techcrunch.com
249 points by pavornyoh  1 day ago   170 comments top 23
plg 1 day ago 8 replies      
I took my kid to one of these last year. It was fairly useless. They drag around little action-icons into a list to make an animated character move around and do stuff. My 11-year-old was bored stiff.

Edit: PS the Apple Store employee who ran this thing (he was a very nice guy) admitted he had zero coding experience himself

coleca 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few years back my daughter went to movie camp at the Apple Store. It was really well done and they taught the kids all about making movies, how to edit, and at the end they had a big screening of all the movies the kids in the class made for all the parents. She even got a nice apple t shirt and usb keychain.

Glad to see they are now expanding it to coding.

s3r3nity 1 day ago 4 replies      
It seems like a lot of folks don't give Tim Cook enough credit in the post-Steve Jobs world for a lot of the philanthropic work Apple has done for education (as well as for the LGBTQ community.) Kudos to them for this initiative - and I'll be excited if this expands to adults at some point.
gshulegaard 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am pretty surprised by the general lack luster comments bordering on negativity here. Personally, I think it is great to see a major retailer take even a misguided stab at improving child tech education which has quickly fallen behind demand (in America).

Do I think the approach is more than a little bit wrong? Sure, GUI programming a non-useful task wouldn't be my choice.

Would I prefer a more robust longer-term program? Absolutely.

Does this fall well short of actually being useful/addressing the original problem? More than likely.

But despite of all that, I would much rather have Apple try this and hopefully improve on the offering pending demonstrated interest than not have it at all.

danso 1 day ago 4 replies      
Ironically, I sometimes fear Apple would be the harbinger of programming's death, what with how much can be done via consumer-friendly app and touch-screens. It didn't help hearing about OSX becoming macOS, which would be well in line with a dystopian future in which the only people who need to know about plaintext and file systems are the full-time Apple programmers.

But this sounds like a great initiative...and also, one that seems to be nearly all upside for Apple. Great PR, good benefit to society, increased buzz at the brick and mortar stores, and the cost of running these camps seem like it would be more than paid for by kids who are not only buying the programmable peripherals (anyone have experience hacking the Sphero?), but Apple products for all of their coding lives.

rjvir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember going to Apple Camp as a kid (around 2006). At the time, they had different sessions teaching kids how to "edit movies", "make music", "build websites" etc. They were showing us how to use iMovie, GarageBand, and iWeb.

After attending those camps, I so badly wanted a Mac.

reedlaw 1 day ago 0 replies      
As much as I want to cheer this it leaves me with the sour thought that modern Apple robbed kids of the joys the original Apple afforded. Growing up with the Apple II+ in our home I was programming from an early age because that was the primary activity you could do with one right out of the box. Look at the loops you have to run through to unleash the power of the iPad. Developer accounts, EULAs, closed APIs. Where is the modern equivalent of computer clubs where most members could code or at least were interested?
sangnoir 1 day ago 3 replies      
I find this program ironic since Apple locks down iDevices pretty hard - their App Store rules prohibit coding[1] on iPhones & iPads. If anyone were to attempt to make an interpreter/port Scratch or Python to iOS, the app would not be approved.

1. 3.3.2 An Application may not download or install executable code. Interpreted code may only be used in an Application if all scripts, code and interpreters are packaged in the Application and not downloaded.

s_dev 1 day ago 2 replies      
People often suggest that we should be teaching programming in primary/elementary school to kids.

I'm skeptical that that would encourage kids to code. This opinion is particularly espoused by politicians who can't code but want to be seen as technically progressive.

I think part of loving programming is discovering it on your own and seeking it out. Events/Sessions like this and CoderDojo that we have here in Ireland are more effective at evangelising kids to code because it endows a greater sense of autonomy to the individual that what you get in a classroom and I think thats a more conducive environment to encourage coding.

alongub 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's a really good idea to make the future developers learn the Apple platform. But Microsoft had a better one; to buy Minecraft and add it to Visual Studio.
dschep 1 day ago 1 reply      
Microsoft already does one day events in their stores. My SO who's an elementary school teacher took her class to one of them.
Michie 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like Apple's initiative but why use a third party application instead of their Swift Playground? It seems more appropriate and based on what's shown on WWDC, it's not that hard to learn.

This is a possible sign that Tynker can be bought by Apple soon to be integrated with Swift Playground.

iamleppert 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would be more useful to teach them an ultra-simple language like BASIC (there was an article posted about it recently -- the early DOS version -- still being the best language/IDE to teach kids), or even a stripped down version of javascript. Imagine the advantages in pure thought that would come for those kids that are able to grok functional programming at age 8?
thenadamgoes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can I do the coding camp? I'd like to learn...
sten 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else ever wonder if this is part of a long term strategy to reduce costs by inflating the pool of developers? Corporations can think long term.
skocznymroczny 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why aren't there any white people on the pictures?
LELISOSKA 1 day ago 0 replies      
for a second i thought it said walmart in the beginning
dublinben 1 day ago 10 replies      
I don't think it's necessarily fair to call this program "philanthropic." It's teaching kids how to use proprietary and commercial software, like iMovie, iBooks, and Tynker, when completely free alternatives exist like Blender and Scratch.

This is essentially building a new generation of future Apple customers.

taytus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why surprised? This is HN
fjrjfjdjjdd 1 day ago 2 replies      
We've banned this account. Creating throwaway accounts to break the HN guidelines with is an abuse of this site.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11948160 and marked it off-topic.

jshevek 1 day ago 2 replies      
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11948160 and marked it off-topic.
goldenkey 1 day ago 2 replies      
You've repeatedly posted uncivil and unsubstantive comments to HN. Please stop doing that.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11947087 and marked it off-topic.

robertcorey 1 day ago 0 replies      
They're taking our jobs!
Elixir v1.3 released elixir-lang.org
446 points by andruby  2 days ago   117 comments top 21
eddd 1 day ago 4 replies      
I use phoenix and elixir, I agree with the statement that Elixir is awesome. But don't drink too much cool-aid - Elixir might be dangerous as well.

It is essentially a big pile of macros, so sometimes number of keywords that you have to keep in your head is staggering. Also, Elixir is a pretty big language - I knew Erlang before diving into it - so the barrier and number of concepts that you have to get familiar with is huge. Don't get me wrong - all these concepts/design patterns are necessary (I am thinking about BEAM and OTP here). Erlang (and therefore Elixir) is complete as development environment, that's where the amount of knowledge is coming from.

Cool intro to erlang/BEAM: http://www.slideshare.net/BrianTroutwine1/erlang-lfe-elixir-...

bcardarella 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you're looking for a reason to migrate from a stack like Ruby/Rails to Elixir/Phoenix you should check out my RailsConf talk on that exact subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxhTQdcieQE
constantlm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great! We're busy rewriting a part of our Rails app that we are having difficulty scaling in Elixir. So far what I've seen is phenomenal. Coming from Ruby/OO, it's a bit weird sometimes, but the code is very readable and it's insanely fast. Really the first language since Ruby that I'm quite happily riding the hypetrain for.
insulanian 1 day ago 3 replies      
Anyone here switched from a statically typed functional programming language (Haskel, OCaml, F#, Scala...) to Elixir? How would you describe the experience? What do you miss? What do you like/love? Overall, would you recommend taking that step?
andybak 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've never really looked into Elixir. I'm a Python guy and readability is the first thing that makes me love or hate a new language. Considering I've always found Erlang fairly obtuse visually I am surprised by how easy on the eye Elixir is.

I found this quote very telling:

> "Elixir is simply the first language since Ruby to really care about code beauty and UX of the language, libraries and ecosystem."

(found here: http://ruby2elixir.github.io/posts/2015/12-29-what-makes-eli... )

(Of course they meant 'Python' instead of 'Ruby' but hey ;-) )

antipax 1 day ago 2 replies      
Super excited for this release.

I have to say that learning and using Elixir has been more pleasant than any other language I have ever worked with. Code is easy to follow due to the functional nature of the language, and the community is one of the best out there.

The applications I've written and deployed have been more stable and fault-tolerant than anything else I've ever done, and I've yet to have any performance issues with the language in production.

matthewrudy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Elixir 1.3 and Ecto 2.0 are now both released.That means Phoenix 1.2 will be released ASAP.

Definitely give the Programming Phoenix book a read if you haven't already.The Elixir/Phoenix stack should be ready for most production environments now.


TY 2 days ago 4 replies      
Awesome! Elixir is quickly becoming my new go to language for the web apps and more.

Come for concurrency, stay for metaprogramming. :-)

sergiotapia 2 days ago 1 reply      
`mix test --stale` sound like a tremendous gain in productivity, can't wait to use it.

Is there a way to have `mix test` just call --stale steamlessly for me in my terminal?

The other updates to testing in general signal how important testing it to the Elixir core team, and should be a flag letting you know how robust this language and it's tooling is. Take a look for sure, it's a great language.

flocial 1 day ago 2 replies      
l used to be/still am a ruby on rails developer. I wrote a very naive web crawler in elixir within a week while learning elixir and I'm blown away by the performance. It basically maxes out my 2011 macbook air's cpu while staying under 200MB of RAM (and maybe another 500 for multiple postgres connections). It basically runs in the background on a computer that can barely handle Firefox with multiple tabs open. The only real bottleneck of my crawler is bandwidth (my internet speed). The performance you get out of the box is insane. And my app really sucks (individual database inserts, saving the entire html to the database, etc).

The transition to a functional language is not exactly a cakewalk and I honestly still miss ruby's ability to be able to hack through arrays (no way to easily get the nth element of an array, it's all head|tail recursion) and hashes (nothing like hash[:key]) to make something "work" but the pipe operators and pattern matching are addictive. The eco system is not "opinionated" at all aside from the constraints of erlang. Documentation is crystal clear. Most of the phoenix stack can be used as stand alone libraries/dependencies. There's a lot less magic and most of the "magic" comes from macros which are much more transparent.

I'm honestly excited for web programming again after being burned out on legacy rails app development and deployment. Mix is like gems/bundler/rails {console, server, etc.} in one neat package done right and minus the headaches. Jose Valim and Chris Mc Chord are brilliant but are very approachable and all around nice people to interact with. In my short time with Elixir/Phoenix I'd say the "hype" actually understates the true potential of BEAM for web development and tiny startups. Also there's also LFE (lisp flavoured erlang created by one of the creators of erlang) you can add to the mix (similar to what you have with Scala/Clojure + Java only with concurrency and multicore out of the box with a tiny RAM footprint).

Learning Elixir was one of the best investments of time I've made in learning a new language and made programming a "hobby" again for me. Being able to write a naive implementation/prototype of an app and not dreading a "real" deployment (pulling out a bag of deployment tricks or stringing together a slew if external libraries/dependencies) is the most liberating experience I've had in a long time.

tomekowal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am working full time with Elixir and Phoenix for more than one year now and worked with Erlang before that. It is great to see how well thought out all the abstractions are (both in the language and in the framework). I saw couple of companies cautiously introducing Phoenix in their stack and then going all in. One of such stories will be presented at Erlang User Conference: http://www.erlang-factory.com/euc2016/ben-marx

Comparing to Ruby: Phoenix promises to be as productive as Rails, but more performant and it keeps the promise if all the libraries you need are already ported to Elixir. Even if not, people consider writing them from scratch.

Comparing to Erlang: Elixir fixes a lot of problems like encoding or inconsistencies in standard library. It introduces many new concepts borrowed from Ruby so it might be a little overwhelming for Erlang developers (Erlang is really small and simple language - the hard part is OTP).

Learning Elixir is like learning to touch type. Initially it slows you down, because you have your habits. You need to learn new abstractions, because old solutions just don't work. After short period you are as productive as before. After a month you can deliver hight quality code quicker which is the ultimate goal of every programmer :) And it magically scales on more machines or at least utilizes all of the cores.

ngrilly 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is Elixir/Erlang/BEAM a good fit to write small command line programs (the kind of programs you could write in Python or Go for example)?

I have three specific questions about this:

- Can you make your program executable directly from the command line, by using a shebang and building an executable binary?

- What about the startup time?

- Do you need a lot of "boilerplate", or can you put everything in a single file?

rafadc 2 days ago 0 replies      
The diffing in the tests is absolutely beautiful!


oblio 1 day ago 1 reply      
How are the resource usage and performance for Elixir/Phoenix compared to Ruby/Rails and even something like Java/Spring Boot?
ch4s3 2 days ago 3 replies      
Looks great. Any clue when this will be up on Homebrew?
davidw 1 day ago 1 reply      
Without digging into it, the Calendar stuff looks like a strict improvement over Erlang's tuply handling of dates, times and timestamps, which are all tuples with three numbers. This can be confusing/problematic, and something that would benefit from typing to avoid mixing up Dates with Timestamps, say.

Can anyone who knows both confirm?

revo13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks Elixir team!!
rcarmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is good news, since a few tooling improvements have made it back to the Erlang ecosystem in general (and to lfe.io in particular, which I prefer over Elixir).
biot 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any best practice guides for running Elixir in production? How do you handle deployments, hotfixes, multi-node scaling, etc. in an automated way?
brightball 1 day ago 0 replies      
Building my first project with it now and loving every minute of it.
josevalim 2 days ago 8 replies      
The proper announcement can also be found on our page: http://elixir-lang.org/blog/2016/06/21/elixir-v1-3-0-release...

It is slightly better formatted and contains images from the graph commands and ExUnit diff format.

CIA Director John Brennan Pretends Foreign Cryptography Doesn't Exist schneier.com
267 points by CapitalistCartr  2 days ago   98 comments top 9
chopin 2 days ago 5 replies      
As commented somewhere in the Schneier thread:

Presumably Brennan refers to the big players, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel (ME) et al. These companies are delivering crypto and/or hardware for the masses and could be subverted maybe with small short term effect.

Of course, the terrorists will switch. And Mr. Brennan knows that. This is the revealing part: It's about mass surveillance of people who are not terrorists by any means.

yarper 2 days ago 3 replies      
Interestingly it seems that GPG is originally from Germany [0] (a headline act from the first crypto war, I expect there are many other examples!)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Privacy_Guard

Rathor1 2 days ago 1 reply      
He is not dumb, he is deliberately lying.
Bromskloss 2 days ago 2 replies      
> US companies dominate the international market as far as encryption technologies

When do people turn to "companies" for encryption instead of using publicly available libraries or applications?

frandroid 1 day ago 0 replies      
At this point, Brennan knows that there are no consequences to lying to Congress, so why wouldn't he do it?
e12e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really strange. Surely Keccack (SHA-3, among other things) is "foreign" encryption? Although, I suppose it might be a bit theoretical in the sense that no one yet has a product that uses it in a configuration for encryption, rather than just hashing?

I suppose SSH doesn't exist, and isn't from Finland either.


nxzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really depends on the requirements for encryption. Unbreakable encryption is easy to do with basic math.
golergka 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well, if he's talking about consumer products, he's absolutely right Telegram is about the only widely popular non-US consumer product offering encrypted communication I know.
vaadu 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is SOP for this administration. If you deny a problem exists it does not exist. The same state of denial exists when they refuse to use the words Islamic terrorists.
Google Fiber agrees to acquire Webpass webpass.net
283 points by dweekly  15 hours ago   108 comments top 21
atburrow 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is exciting news! In Chicago, I'm currently living in a high rise where the fastest plan I can get is 24 Mbps for around $80/mo. My high rise has an exclusivity contract with AT&T U-Verse. I've spoken with AT&T reps and they can't offer any higher speeds. I also talked to property management and they said there's nothing they can do for me. They are locked into an exclusivity contract with AT&T for the wires in the building.

Does anyone have experience dealing with properties who claim to have exclusivity contracts? I talked to people at Webpass, and they've stated it is available in my area. They'd come in and set everything up free of charge. I don't see the downside for my building to allow Webpass to come in. I do know the FCC has regulations about exclusivity contracts with video providers, but I couldn't find any documents on things like internet. It seems like my only option is to find a place that does not have exclusivity contracts with providers.

nurblieh 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Huge fan of Webpass. 1 Gbps of IPv4/6 with great customer service for $55 a month. It can't be beat, if it's available to you.

I hope this is a win for the Webpass employees, in the short and long term. Thanks for all the bits!

tlrobinson 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear Google: If you fuck up Webpass, you're dead to me.

p.s. I'm watching you: http://i.imgur.com/rS9LGZ6.png

jordanthoms 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, unexpected. I used Webpass when I was in SF and was very happy with the quality of their service, so them getting more capital to expand is a great development.
dsk139 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Former Webpass employee here. Was one of the first software eng. hires. This is a great example of a bootstrapped business focused on customer experience that built up with no outside funding (that I know of). Congrats Charles & team.
xeno42 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting.. I've been very happy with Webpass for the past 8 or 9 years (though my building's crappy wiring can "only" support 100Mbit).

A Webpass engineer I spoke to last week mentioned they're rolling out fiber to the building to provide redundancy for the wireless mesh. Surprised me as I could count on my fingers the number of outages webpass has had since I started using them. Perhaps it'll replace the wireless portion in the longer term.

shadykiller 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I use Webpass. Get 600mbps on my wifi AC router. It's amazing and I'm super happy with it. Hoping with google fiber speed gets even faster.
tekklloneer 14 hours ago 0 replies      
While I worry about large carriers absorbing small ones, this could be an excellent big step in real competition for bay area internet access.
aquilaFiera 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you listen, you can hear the sound San Francisco rental managers rejoicing they can advertise they have Google Fiber.
jboydyhacker 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I have webpass with 1gb for 550 a year. I've had it for 7 years or so.

The bummer is- it's actually cheaper than Google charges in other cities- hopefully the price does not go up.

kevenwang0531 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this will speed up Fiber's rollout in San Francisco. I remember Google's announcement regarding Fiber in SF a few months back. This acquisition is a no-brainer for both companies!
codemac 13 hours ago 3 replies      
God, I hope the support doesn't end up like most other Google product's support. I have webpass and my heart dropped. My project fi experience has been bad enough already.
slg 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I was a happy Webpass customer for about 3 years before moving to an area not served by them. I would be curious to see if they are folded into Fiber or if they are kept as a separate brand. As it currently stands Webpass has much stricter limits on who they are willing to serve. Last time I checked they required that all customers lived in multi unit buildings that were built within the last 20 years. I imagine this was meant to keep their installation costs low while hopefully benefiting from economies of scale. That makes sense for a new niche ISP, but Google has the resources and motivation to abandon those restrictions.
tbrock 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I hope this reduces the cost of their business offerings. I love the service, and the home offering is the deal of the century, but $500/month for 50Mb/sec symmetric or $250/month for 20Mb/sec symmetric is hard to swallow for our business (or any other).

They offer faster service (gigabit and probably more) but what startup can pay 10k/month for their business internet?

What's worse is monkeybrains and webpass should seemingly compete on price for business offerings but it seems like they actually collude. Their pricing for businesses is exactly the same.

TheMagicHorsey 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a Webpass customer. Pretty amazing service. Although lately they have been suffering from some slow speeds at peak times. I think its just growing pains due to large increases in their customer base. I believe it will be back to high speed soon.

speedtests put me at around 100Mbps consistently when its "fast" and about 20-30 Mbps when its slow.

BWStearns 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm pumped. I live in a Webpass market so hopefully Comcast starts doing their damn job now that it's a Google market.
cardigan 14 hours ago 1 reply      
So will Webpass be faster now?
gkop 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Webpass has only been doing fiber for 10 months [0], as far as I know the bulk of their customers in SF are on fixed wireless. I'm discouraged by this announcement - now it seems there's zero chance of widespread Google Fiber in SF.

[0] https://webpass.net/blog/fiber-is-here

shmerl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope it's not a sign that Google is slowing down fiber rollout and plans to switch to "new hot" wireless, but rather they'll push both.
mmwave 9 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested, you can get an idea of Webpass' network (with downloadable KMZ) by searching for their 70/80 GHz link registrations here: http://www.micronetcommunications.com/LinkRegistration/Query...

Search on Licensee Name Webpass

andrewfromx 5 hours ago 0 replies      
does anyone know the eta for los angeles?
Docker 1.12: Now with Built-In Orchestration docker.com
273 points by sashk  2 days ago   160 comments top 21
d33 2 days ago 12 replies      
I chose Docker for my project with hope that it would help me create an easily reproducible development environment... And I'm not really sure if it was a good idea. There's so many moving parts and I can't name one that actually works well. Configuring storage is a hell (running out of disk space can lead to errors that are really difficult to debug), the dance with bridges makes configuring firewall a terrible experience. I definitely wouldn't recommend it as a stable container solution.
csears 2 days ago 3 replies      
Just based on the details mentioned in the keynote, the services API and swarm features look very similar to what's offered by Kubernetes... service discovery, rolling updates, load balancing, health checks, auto-healing, advanced scheduling.

I guess this was to be expected, but it's also kind of sad. I think it would have been a more strategic move to embrace Kubernetes instead of trying to compete with it.

namidark 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wish they would address stability issues first, like this bug[1] that has been around 2 years and is still happening on the latest versions.


ShakataGaNai 2 days ago 3 replies      
This seems like a really exciting, albeit natural, evolution of the Docker "platform". It's really true that no one cares about containers, everyone just wants their apps to work.

That being said the one giant omission from Docker is still seems to be management of volumes/data. Great, we can run 100 nodes on AWS in a matter of minutes, but if your system has data storage requirements (ex: Almost every database ever) ... You're kinda left up to your own still. How does Docker Orchestration migrate the data volumes?

They really tried to sell this as "You don't need to do anything but the AWS beta, the DAB and a few commands" which would be wonderful. However with the need for reliable data storage... you're still stuck doing everything "the old fashion way".

(Edit: No, I don't mean store data IN the container, I presume no one is that silly. I meant the attached volumes. No volume mgmt = less greatly less helpful).

hosh 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm not surprised the Kubernetes primitives got copied into this. I had stated before that Kubernetes was what Docker wants to be when it grows up -- and maybe that time is here. Having used Kubernetes in production, I don't know robust the Docker orchestration primitives are in comparison. But I'll probably find out soon.

The big advantage having a built-in Docker orchestration is that Kubernetes is painful to install from scratch. (Yes, there are scripts to help mitigate this; yes, GKE is effectively hosted Kubernetes). I'm involved in another Dockerization projection, but we don't know if we want to invest the time into setting up Kubernetes (though GKE is an option). This would be a good time to check things out.

Just to show how quickly things change. In 2015, I tried the docker compose, AWS ECS, and Kubernetes for production deployment, and of all of them, Kubernetes addressed the pain points in a practical way. The Kubernetes project ended in late 2015, and now six months later, things changed again ...

waitwhatwhoa 2 days ago 1 reply      
At first I was worried that this is yet another Raft implementation, but it seems they're building on etcd's version [1] which should be a win for everyone trying to prove correctness for the various implementations.

1. https://github.com/docker/swarmkit/blob/a78a157ef66adf0978f0...

geodel 2 days ago 2 replies      
I also noticed that now 'Docker for mac' is available without beta invite. I just downloaded and installed though its version is 1.12.0-rc2.

Maybe they will make formal announcement when 1.12 for mac is released.

eddd 2 days ago 7 replies      
I wish docker released lite version of docker. Only containerisation, no networking configurations, weird cache mechanisms - just something small and easy to use locally.

No one sane will run docker on prod anyway.

boulos 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it super amusing that GCE isn't mentioned, that ostensibly Kubernetes is the source of lock-in (despite being open-source and likely having more cycles on EC2 than on GCE/GKE), and that this proudly uses gRPC for http/2 and protobuf goodness. So which is it, is Google an evil vendor trying to lock you in, or are we actually doing work in the open and just hoping you'll choose us when you want infrastructure?

Disclaimer: I work on Compute Engine, and think of the Kubernetes folks as friends.

lvh 2 days ago 1 reply      
The new orchestration looks based on Swarm and possibly Compose; have they resolved the issue where the lack of lifecycle semantics means that your services don't work if they have any sort of cluster semantics, like Riak, Cassandra or Zookeeper? These previously always required outside hacks to work, and work flawlessly with Kubernetes. It looks like there's some service discovery support; which may or may not fit the bill.
foxylion 2 days ago 1 reply      
If someone else also want to see the keynote, they have a recording: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/88610090
cdnsteve 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have two code bases that are microservices. I thought using Docker would be easy to setup and share a redis instance between these services. After spending a day trying various thing I just gave up and did 'brew install redis' and got back to real app dev. Docker isn't streamlined enough, does have great examples and is still changing lots. Sometimes doing it the old fashioned way is what lets you ship features faster.
kstenerud 2 days ago 2 replies      
Omg their navigation bar covers half my screen! Seriously, why do companies inside upon reducing my screen real estate for stupid shit?
heurist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great, now make it a first class citizen in compose and mix in docker-machine's provisioning capabilities!
Annatar 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article is lots of blah blah plus "lock-in" for good measure, with exactly zero code or configuration examples, and it reads like a snake oil salesman brochure. I'm still skeptical about the purported advantage of Docker / Linux over zones / SmartOS.
estefan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have they sorted out storing secrets yet? That's one thing I noticed that Kubernetes manages that docker is still scratching it's head over.

But this looks like it could be great progress. Orchestration was always the main pain that stopped me from using docker.

ssijak 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was using osx beta but uninstalled it for now because docker was eating all my space without recovering it after deleting containers.Anybody using rkt for dev wants to share their experiences, I am thinking about trying it but would not invest time if it is not ready yet.
tapirl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Docker is great (wonderful in fact) for building development/CI environment. I never use docker for production.
rcarmo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. I can't wait for an ARM build, though.
curiousDog 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe i'm not uptodate or misunderstanding, but doesn't Mesos/Mesosphere do something similar?
webaholic 2 days ago 0 replies      
is docker as good as rkt nowadays?
Mozilla Awards $385k to Open Source Projects mozilla.org
264 points by nandaja  19 hours ago   87 comments top 19
luso_brazilian 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The full list:

> Tor: 152k

> Tails (secure-by-default live operating system): 77k

> Caddy (HTTP/2 web server that uses HTTPS automatically and by default via Lets Encrypt): 50k

> Mio (asynchronous I/O library written in Rust): 30k

> DNSSEC/DANE Chain Stapling (standardizing and implementing a new TLS extension): 25k

> Godot Engine: (high-performance multi-platform game engine which can deploy to HTML5): 20k

> PeARS (lightweight, distributed web search engine): 15,5k

> NVDA (open source screen reader): 15k

I agree with the highlight given the open source screen reader. Accessibility is very important and unfortunately very neglected, mostly because (IMO) the tools to properly test can be very expensive or incompatible.

andyjdavis 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I am curious about the mechanics of how the projects will spend this money. I have had quite a bit of professional experience working as a developer within an open source project and I honestly don't know what we would have done had someone showed up with a one time payment of this size.

The dollar amounts are too low to hire a full-time dev. They presumably have insufficient volunteers or they wouldn't need this money. So I am guessing that they will be offering existing volunteers some money to devote more time to the project.

Another alternative would be hiring in some contractor who has no prior relationship with the project but having someone who doesn't know the project come in and implement something before vanishing and leaving everyone else to maintain their stuff is unappealing.

squiguy7 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm impressed that MIO is getting funding. It will be great to have a safe library to create event-driven apps in Rust.
tcdent 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope this type of funding continues to grow. A significant number of people getting paid to contribute to public software sounds like some utopia to me.

More people could strive to create projects that actually make the world a better place, instead of another SaaS product to pay the bills. Some (many, all?) open source projects provide exponentially more to the world than was ever invested both monetarily and in donated time. There is not often an obvious gain for investors, though, so the practice of selfless funding remains a privilege to few.

christophilus 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd never heard of PeARS. I was just discussing this very idea with a friend of mine. I'd love to see a decentralized web, but search seems like a really tricky problem in that space. This is a clever solution.
piotrkubisa 17 hours ago 1 reply      
That's awesome news, NVDA and Caddy awarded for contributors work. I hope, in future there will be more companies donating money to attractive open-software projects.
Perceptes 16 hours ago 1 reply      
What do security folks think of the DNSSEC/DANE award? This isn't substantiated, but my understanding was that those technologies were considering kind of a joke by the security community.
chachram 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news. More companies should donate money to useful open-software projects
kriro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
PeARS looks very interesting I had never heard of it before not had I considered P2P web-search to be honest. That is a pretty exciting idea and I'll follow them closely :)
arthursilva 19 hours ago 2 replies      
30K for mio, that's a bold move!
AdmiralAsshat 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice to see Caddy getting some dough.
ndiscussion 17 hours ago 8 replies      
TOR and MOSS are both extremely deserving recipients, but I'd say Mozilla is borderline unethical with their spending.

Of the millions (yes millions) of dollars they've received, little seems to have gone toward Firefox development.

Mozilla received over $121 million in 2010 from corporate sponsors. This is the same Mozilla that placed ADS in their new tab views. Really, they placed Paid Ads on the new tab screen. What were those for again?

I do understand that Mozilla's mission is to improve the web. Donating to these causes certainly helps with that. But I'm still troubled that they put ads (with aggregate user tracking) into their core product.

EGreg 11 hours ago 2 replies      
How do we apply? Our open source platform aims to re-decentralize the web.


piotrjurkiewicz 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Also miserably failed, see:http://buildbot.net/img/overview.png

But as Hegel taught us, it is really the master that is indentured to the slave!

_pmf_ 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't they use part of it for making an awesome browser instead of playing the role of benevolent patron for other projects?

But obviously, I don't know whether they have already given up going against Chrome.

EdSharkey 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Mozilla, please help fund Privacy Badger for Firefox on Android. Thanks!
dave2000 16 hours ago 1 reply      
That's great. Now if I could just read www.theonion.com on Firefox for Android without it crashing every time, that would be sweet.
Jommi 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Would have been cool of them to support Django. https://www.djangoproject.com/fundraising/
timwaagh 6 hours ago 2 replies      
cool that they are awarding funds, but giving tor this kind of money, it being a spy/insurgent/criminal tool and after all the scandals it is involved in, is not great. tails is, of course, another such spy tool. it gives the impression mozilla is mostly concerned with undermining state/rule of law/formenting political instability. i think they might contribute more to projects that benefit everyday digital citizens rather than activists. I like Caddy, Pears, godot and NVDA though.
Scammers Game Amazon A-Z Policy By Replacing iPhones With Clay coryklein.com
302 points by coryfklein  2 days ago   230 comments top 38
jliptzin 2 days ago 5 replies      
This happened to me about 5 years ago on ebay when selling an iPhone. I was an eBay member since 1999, 100% positive feedback, occasional seller (about once a month). I sold a perfectly fine iPhone, buyer with no feedback history complains to eBay he never received the phone despite tracking showing it was delivered. He also leaves me negative feedback (in broken English). eBay sided with the buyer immediately and attempted to withdraw the money out of my paypal account which I'd fortunately already withdrawn. They demanded for over a year that I pay them the money they claim I owe them or they'd destroy my credit. Fuck eBay, fuck PayPal, terrible companies that should have gone out of business long ago.
soyiuz 2 days ago 6 replies      
I've had a similar thing happened to me a few years back when I sold a no longer needed but still unopened Windows Vista DVD that I purchased directly from MS Store (on Microsoft campus). The buyer returned the package, but the returned merchandize was clearly counterfeit. The box was of a light material, missing holograms, faded colors etc. The buyer's history was full of similar purchases.

I've been careful about documenting shipments since. Overall, I am reluctant to sell on Amazon these days because of the A-Z guarantee, which is only sustainable for large sellers.

Fraud is a sticky problem at scale. A few bad actors poison the well for everyone. As a buyer I appreciate Amazon's policies, but as an occasional seller I find them completely draconian. There is very little you can do to contest a decision against you.

ericabiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote about this back in 2013 (and made it to the front page of HN): "Scammed By Amazons 'A-to-Z Guarantee'"


tl;dr I sold my old cell phone on Amazon and the buyer claimed it was stolen. Amazon refunded him in full and took the money out of my bank account.

I also sold a computer on Amazon around the same time and the buyer tried to do the same thing. That one I caught and argued successfully for, but it was still a pain to go back and forth.

I had another laptop I wanted to sell online, but because of these two experiences I was really gun-shy. I ended up stuffing it in a cabinet for over a year and eventually sold it to a friend for significantly less than I would have sold it for online--but at least I knew I wouldn't get scammed.

I've had better luck with the Amazon trade-in program, especially since they sometimes do incentives. I've traded in two Kindles and ended up getting a new Paperwhite for only about $40-50 after all the incentives from both old Kindles were in my account.

Someone1234 2 days ago 2 replies      
These might be buyer scammers, or sellers themselves have been scammed upstream. This article is right you'd have to be bonkers to try and pull this on Amazon as a seller. But he's assuming the seller knows there is no iPhone in the sealed box.

Perhaps Amazon Sellers are attempting to buy iPhones on the grey market at a discount, in order to resell them on Amazon at a profit. However the person they're dealing with upstream is actually shipping them clay or similar and plans to disappear when discovered.

Don't get me wrong, buyer scams exist, and that might be what is happening here. But why even post a review at all? The A-Z guidelines don't require it. He's also making the assumption that an Amazon Seller is going to open a sealed phone, or that their channels never get fraud in them.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
As others have pointed out, dealing with fraud at scale is really really difficult. As a result its cost are often priced into sales (either transaction costs or product costs).

While the privacy implications are large, it is an area where the more data around the transaction can identify systemic fraud. (which is to say organized group that spread their activity across a wide area to keep it below the radar of fraud detection algorithms).

In the case of phones, the seller has a lot of power. They can record the serial number/IMEI data from the box prior to selling it. At which point you can track where the phone is and if its being used. The challenge has always been taking action against the scammers. So perhaps there is a startup idea for a private investigation group in large cities that would go get scammers and recover merchandise. Such action would quickly reveal if the scammers were part of a larger organization or acting independently.

AJ007 2 days ago 6 replies      
Interesting conclusion to the article. I stopped buying Apple items off Amazon a really long time ago because they let counterfeit chargers list as real Apple products and did jack shit about it. To some extent this has begun flowing in to other product categories for me as well.

"Meanwhile, the product page is flooded with fraudelent (sp) reviews, poisoning the well and moving future customers away from Amazon and towards trusted Apple retailers. Amazon and customers lose, but Apple possibly gets more customers."

codecamper 2 days ago 4 replies      
Another thing that could be done... is that shippers could help out.

UPS, Fedex, USPS could all offer last step photo verification of packages, as a service. A few more dollars and you get a photo of what is inside and the handler packs the box up.

bambax 2 days ago 1 reply      
This doesn't make much sense: why would supposedly fraudulent buyers bother with leaving a (public) review with photos of the clay??

This is not only a waste of time and energy but could potentially be harmful to them since it's usually possible to extract clues from a photograph.

Isn't it possible that the story is rather this:

- bad buyer 1 buys a phone, takes the phone out of the case, replaces it with clay, re-seals the box and returns it, claiming he didn't even open it

- seller restocks the package without verifying it

- good buyer 2 buys what they think is an iPhone and turns out to be a box full of clay, is upset and leaves a review

jimrandomh 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a couple hypotheses the author hasn't considered. It's possible the buyer stole the phone, yes, but it's also possible that it was a warehouse company employee, a shipping company employee, or a previous buyer who made a return.
username3 2 days ago 2 replies      
Trusted buyers. Amazon can have options for sellers to only sell to buyers that have bought from Amazon X amount of times or X years.
bdrool 2 days ago 6 replies      
Amazon is complete crap these days.

It's becoming more and more difficult to figure out who you are buying from, and as a result there are outright scams sitting on Amazon's store at this moment that they continue to do nothing about:


See that? That's the infamous "dangerous" counterfeit Apple Macbook charger that made the rounds[1][2] a while back. Notice how it says "by Apple-Computers"? This is a scam. It's not by Apple. It's a dangerous fire-hazard knockoff. Yet it's tagged in a way that will no doubt mislead people into thinking it's safe and "official". People were pointing this out months ago[3], yet it's still there on Amazon's store, no doubt along with countless other dangerous misleadingly-branded ripoffs.

This is fraud, pure and simple. And Amazon continues to profit from it, right out in the open. It's disgusting.

 [1] http://www.righto.com/2016/03/counterfeit-macbook-charger-teardown.html [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11325150 [3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11325464

aandon 2 days ago 1 reply      
My guess is sellers absorb this as a cost of doing business. As long as fraud rates remain in low single digit percentage, it's probably not worth it for the seller or Amazon to fight it.

It is always fun to dissect these scams. There's an interesting e-commerce scam prevalent in India that popped up as the country embraced e-commerce without much credit card infrastructure in place (most online orders are paid to the delivery person in cash) https://simility.com/delivery-fraud:

"The fraudster businesses ordered hundreds of products from the victims website to be delivered on a daily basis. Meanwhile, if customers came into their store asking for an out-of-stock product, they were told it would be in stock later that day. Then the fraudsters paid the delivery person in cash for the small fraction of products they had pre-sold to customers, while returning the vast majority of unsold products without paying for them at the cost of the e-commerce company, thus completing the delivery fraud cycle."

codecamper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazon could set up some honey pots.. whereby they themselves send out the product. They know its good.

If a customer tries to scam that one... then Amazon has found their scammer.

Also... I'm surprised that Amazon just hands out these sorts of refunds on big ticket items. If I were them I'd require some sort of biometric data for the refund.

laksjd 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm going to guess this only works with sellers that aren't fulfilled by Amazon? It's an annoyingly effective scam: How can sellers protect themselves?
profeta 2 days ago 1 reply      
given the amount of garbage amazon sells nowadays, if it didn't favoured the buyer they would be gone by now.

Almost everything i buy that is not books i have to return once or twice until i receive the item from a seller that is not trying to fence a couterfeit version. This happens with $100 pro SD cards down to $15 arduinos clones (which i think amazon still do not carry the original, but all ads show the original in the picture)

tempestn 2 days ago 2 replies      
I doubt it would ever work in practice, but in theory this kind of thing could be solved by having both parties deposit an additional say 20% of purchase price to an escrow account. So buyer deposits 120% and seller deposits 20%. Once buyer confirms receipt, 120% is sent to seller and 20% back to buyer.

If there is a problem, buyer can send the item back to the seller, and once seller confirms (re-)receipt, they each get back their original contributions. However, if buyer claims the item wasn't received and seller claims to have sent it, the money remains in escrow. So the side that's lying doesn't benefit. They actually lose 20%. And therefore there's no rational reason to attempt this scam.

However, in the real world there are several problems. The person being "scammed" would be out 120% of the value (whether they're the buyer or the seller), which wouldn't fly with most people, even if the scam is theoretically unlikely. It would also require significantly greater trust of Amazon. Something like this might work with hyper-rational actors using something like a bitcoin multi-sig address, but not for Amazon.

Which means I'm back to not seeing any perfect solution to this kind of problem.

Animats 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why is Amazon even selling new iPhones from sources other than Apple? That's eBay's job.

Looking on Amazon, I'm not seeing any iPhone 6 sellers other than Apple.

swanson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Question: how should a seller document and defend that they indeed shipped an iPhone (not clay)?
pyrophane 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sort of thing is why I pretty much only sell things like this locally, in-person, and transact in cash. Buyer gets the chance to check out the item, verify the serial number, and so on. I get the guarantee that if they walk out happy it is a done deal.

No one has been able to improve upon this online. Sure, it can be more convenient to sell online, and for people who sell at volume the cost of fraud may be worth it, but for individuals who occasionally sell desirable items that are likely targets of fraud, selling online is too fraught with risk.

jseliger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, too, I noticed in 2013 that Amazon's general marketplace is rife for abuse: https://jakeseliger.com/2013/02/16/is-amazon-coms-marketplac.... I assume that Amazon tracks the number of returns a particular account engages, but still, I wouldn't sell anything of real value on the site.
Paul-ish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do these buyers use the same shipping address multiple times? That seems like a good way to track them. Alternatively, if they use something like a PO box, you could disallow new accounts from shipping their first few things to a PO box.
nabaraz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I remember this being big on ebay days. How can retailers like Amazon/Ebay verify neither sellers nor buyers are not getting scammed? I cant think of any solution except intercept all packages and make sure the actual product is there.
banku_brougham 2 days ago 0 replies      
somebody is going to get a ? in email soon
capote 2 days ago 0 replies      
Partially related: Is anyone else bothered by the volume of negative reviews on Amazon that simply target an individual seller rather than the product? All instances of any product are covered by the same set of reviews, regardless who the seller was, so reviews like this are totally unfair in dragging the product's rating down.

Why doesn't Amazon have a policy against this?

jedberg 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I worked at eBay, we constantly debated whether the policies should be pro seller or pro buyer. You can't be both in a two sided market.

Throughout my time there, we switched back and forth, but ultimately decided happy sellers brought in more revenue that happy buyers (but maybe that changed again).

Apparently Amazon has decided to be pro buyer right now, which fits with their general model of making happy customers.

Scirra_Tom 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if the postal services could create an additional service which calculates a heat map of the weight distribution for the package. You could then very accurately I imagine determine if there is actually an iPhone in there, and if someone shows a photo of clay it will be obvious they are scamming if the weight distribution passed as an iPhone distribution during transit.
rietta 2 days ago 2 replies      
Gosh. It's almost worth it to never resell anything. Just throw old electronics away even though that's bad for the environment and squanders value both for the owner of no longer needed gear and the potential new user of it. The world would be so much nicer if everyone were honest dealing.
ortusdux 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if using Amazon's fulfillment service would help prevent against this. It is possible to get merchandise directly delivered to a fulfillment center from the vendor? It would be pretty easy for a seller to battle a fraud claim if they can show that they never got within 500 miles of the product.
brador 2 days ago 2 replies      
The only solution is a verifying third party. Postal service could offer this for a fee to make some easy money.
silveira 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is also possible that the buyer is a seller of iPhones and is trying to get rid of competition.
hackerweb 2 days ago 1 reply      
But a lot of the negative reviews for the linked seller seem to be about a locked or blacklisted phone, or one with the wrong amount of storage. Those customers would presumably have to send back their phones, so what's the buyer-side fraud there?
vblord 2 days ago 2 replies      
I can't believe that this works at all. I imagine that between an established seller and a brand new buyer, Amazon would be on the side of the seller. In the cases where the buyer wins, who pays the cost of the device (the seller or Amazon)?
WalterBright 2 days ago 0 replies      
You'd think with all the datamining Amazon does, this would be a worthwhile problem to solve with it. After all, it is good for Amazon if people can trust their transactions there.
sharms 2 days ago 2 replies      
This isn't an Amazon only problem, same with Ebay etc. I would love to hear how people can sell items online safely (for the time being I only use Craigslist for this exact reason)
w8rbt 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are too many counterfeits and schemes like this on Amazon. Finding a reliable seller that has a legitimate product and a good reputation has become almost impossible.
lordnacho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm being naive, but won't there be a record of the address the item was delivered to? And credit card details? How do you avoid that?
n-gauge 2 days ago 0 replies      
So is the clay endorsed with the fingerprints of the scammer?
balls187 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at the reviews, many have only left a single review.
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