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Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species [video] spacex.com
2109 points by tilt  4 days ago   1045 comments top 107
mikeash 4 days ago 36 replies      
Some of the comments here make me think of crabs in a pot pulling down the ones who try to climb out.

Nobody's making you participate in this venture. If you don't like it, then you're free to go do whatever it is you do like.

You might think Musk could better direct his efforts and resources elsewhere, but most other billionaires don't do anything all that interesting, they just invest their money in mundane stuff, outsource jobs, build hotels, run for President, etc. So why are you upset with this one and not all those others?

anexprogrammer 4 days ago 8 replies      
I'd really like to see us taking space seriously. While I'm still here.

One of my earliest strong memories was the last moon landing. This was followed by years of "Tomorrow's World" and "Horizon" telling us about the Moon bases, Mars bases and orbital platforms that would soon follow. We got Skylab and some very interesting probes. I'm a tiny bit disappointed in that. We were meant to be en route to Starfleet Command and global cooperation (which always seemed a big ask as we were at the height of the cold war).

However, I can't help thinking if we do become a multiplanetary species before resolving the issues of this one a few things are just a matter of time. That some politician claims we don't need to care about emissions as we now have a spare, so he's going to build loads of new coal. That Esso wants to know if there's oil. That we have an interplanetary falling out (OK that's probably a while away). That we start littering and buggering up the rest of the solar system.

MarcScott 4 days ago 3 replies      
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the Moon! ...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

dudus 4 days ago 28 replies      
Watching live the announcement and presentation by Elon on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YxNYiyALg

Where the hell did they get this audience from? Is this hosted on a frat house with some academic invites?

There's a dude jokingly saying that burning man felt like mars with a lot of shit and no water, there's a guy plugging his comic book, there's a guy making a joke on how we should send Michael Cera to Mars, a girl complaining about Space X not hiring people from other countries, a girl asking to go on stage and give him a kiss, a guy that identified himself as a local idiot that I'm pretty sure is completely drunk, ....

There are some good questions too, but I just can't understand it.

Elon just went on stage and delivered a plan so ambitious you couldn't even imagine. I have thousands of questions, and astonished these people couldn't think of anything else.

davidw 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is so pleasant to see after being bombarded with US presidential politics. Science, hope and progress!
beloch 4 days ago 4 replies      
This new launch vehicle has a realistic chance of getting people and materials to Mars in sufficient quantities to build an outpost. I'd like to hear more about how they plan to build a self-sustaining colony on Mars though. There are some pretty big challenges to overcome, such as the relative lack of Nitrogen. A colony is going to have to grow plants but, to do that on Mars, we're going to need a way of fixing Nitrogen for those plants from an Atmosphere where it's just not very plentiful.

Please note that this isn't an argument against going to Mars now. There's a lot we can learn by building an outpost on Mars that is supported heavily by Earth, including how to build a self-supporting Mars colony. I'm just asking what the current state-of-the-art opinion is on the challenges of building a self-supporting Mars colony.

robertocarlos 4 days ago 4 replies      
I created an account just to post this.

The Q&A was the worst Q&A I have ever seen. Truly awful. I usually am a pretty calm person but watching that made my blood boil. This venture could well be one of the most important things to happen to humanity, and those were the questions that people asked. The questions were awful at all levels. Featured self promotion, ignorance and plain stupidity.

I just needed to get this out there. Seriously, what the actual f.

Rezo 4 days ago 5 replies      
SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA
bsdetector 4 days ago 5 replies      
We won't really be an interplanetary species until we can get back from Mars.

Imagine being colonists on Mars without the ability to be totally self-sustaining without technology and supplies from Earth and nuclear war breaks out. It's going to be a long time before any Mars colony can survive on its own.

kumarski 4 days ago 3 replies      
I wrote a brief blog post on some of the major challenges to get this going. Musk's hesitancy to a deadline is great. :) It makes sense, hard to predict the future.


There's a ton of cool problems lurking around the corner. I hope humanity backs the public part of this public-private partnership.

1. Cargo CapacityScaling is Hard.

2. Proper MaintenanceAccessibility is Important

3. MTBF Expectations are too high.

4. Jet Fuel is Corrosive and Methalox engines are a tough design proposition.

5. Cosmic RadiationImpedes human interoperability.

6. Solar Panels Mars Dust Storms impede sunlight.

7. Living Module7 month duration for a living module.

8. Microbial RealitiesWe rely on microbes to live.

9. Parachute DesignSize vs. Thrust vs. Jettisoning Fuel

10. Electronic ProtectionShielding is Resource/Weight Intensive.

11. Eye SightYour ability to see diminishes in space and we dont quite know how this works fully. (This one is huge)

12. Muscle Loss- you lose muscle mass as you stay longer in space.

To give some context around how difficult it is to build mega engineering projects in the hey day of innovation, just think about Steel. There's over 3K different types of steel and 70%+ were invented in the last 20 years.

Timing, sequence, funding, and focus are going to be such a huge part of this.

5,8,11,12 are really tough. I think the other ones are solvable in some way right now, but will take some configuration/tinkering/experimentation for sure. Plenty of engineers are motivated to work on this kind of thing though, so that's a good signal.

tw04 4 days ago 1 reply      
This Q&A is painful... it's a combination of people shamelessly plugging their own products (Funny or Die you just lost a viewer with that stunt) and people who sound like they may be (literally) mentally unstable.

There are scattered in somewhat normal questions... but not by anyone I would consider qualified to even be asking questions.

jpm_sd 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'd like to see humans establish self-sustaining colonies in the Gobi Desert, the Laurentian Plateau, and the equatorial Pacific first. All much easier environments.
thght 4 days ago 0 replies      
I might be wrong, but I expect Elon Musk to become one of the most exceptional hero's of our times. No other billionaire is creating sustainable businesses like Tesla and Power Wall for the good of as many people as possible. He risks pretty much all he has for his ultimate dream to enable humans to start exploring the universe, and by doing so preventing the looming extinction of our species.

The amount of talent and power this guy has while being so humble is just very rare. As soon as I can afford a Tesla I will definitely buy one, not only because it's a great car, but even more to support these kind of people.

amgin3 4 days ago 1 reply      
They really need to screen people for the Q/A. Half these people are idiots just trying to promote their own BS and trying to tell stupid irrelevant stories.
mixermf 4 days ago 0 replies      
"The argument [for building a civilization on Mars] that I actually find most compelling is that it would be an incredible adventure. I think it would be the most inspiring thing that I can possibly imagine. And life needs to be more than just solving problems every day. You need to wakeup and be excited about the future, and be inspired, and want to live." -- Elon Musk

(1 hour 31 minutes)

artursapek 4 days ago 2 replies      
God, my lifetime would be so boring if it wasn't for people like Elon.
bluebeard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Paraphrasing: "I see two paths for the human species, extinction event or multi-planetary species." Then Elon shows the picture of the O2 tank: "and this is the size of the payload we could deliver to anywhere on Earth in 45 minutes, please fund us." Well played Musk, well played.
whothunkdit 4 days ago 3 replies      
Seems great for all the basic research it will require.

But I'm unsure about the morality of it. I think the drive to expand and discover new things is perhaps a direct cause of the deeper problems we have on Earth. Would humanity be better off just becoming a sustainable population of monks? Or are we morally equivalent to a virus, reduced to survival of the fittest and always seeking out the next host to reap?

dasmoth 4 days ago 1 reply      
While this remains a paper rocket for now, its engine (which looks to be a pretty big deal in its own right) was test-fired for the first time yesterday:


hinkley 4 days ago 0 replies      
A number of years ago, around or shortly after the time I read the Mars Trilogy, I remember seeing an article about how the three largest populations of high altitude humans (Peru, Nepal, Ethiopia) all use a different biological process to deal with the effects of hypoxia.

The lower the pressure, the safer the structure, so one imagines you could have a colony where many of the workers from these three population groups, nature taking its course and we end up with legitimate Martians. People who could live in cheap structures or deep canyons with no suits for generations before the rest of us.

sssparkkk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that Elon's presentation ends with requests to throw comics onto the stage and ask him to allow receiving a good luck kiss from a girl in the audience.

To be honest I think it's a really bad fit to have these kind of questions during such an event; but hey, because of them I'm pretty sure this is all really honest and not at all orchestrated... Which is good, I suppose.

TheShadowRunner 4 days ago 1 reply      
Someone more knowledgeable then me can probably answer this, but under ITAR, can SpaceX contract a Mars launch with another nation on friendly terms with the USA?
phodo 4 days ago 0 replies      
The quality of the Q&A seems grossly sub-par compared to the incredible quality of the vision / content / presentation.
edem 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested there is an article series on Wait but Why here: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/05/elon-musk-the-worlds-raddest-m... about Elon Musk and his goals with SpaceX (and much more).
partycoder 4 days ago 1 reply      
Due to a lower atmospheric pressure (0.087 psi compared to Earth's 14.69 psi), water in mars begins to boil at 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 Fahrenheit.

Gravity in Mars is 3.7 m/s, compared to 9.8 m/s. In a way, it's convenient since it would take less effort to reach Martian escape velocity.

Mars does not have a magnetosphere, and therefore little protection from radiation. The technology to induce a planetary magnetosphere does not exist. If Mars does form an atmosphere, it can be lost to space during increased solar activity.

What I think is that our best chance is to send robots to prepare an habitat for the first manned visits.

oli5679 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is the plan to start off with so many fragile, resource-greedy people before the planet is improved? Wouldn't it be better to send a robot factory capable of building more robot factories using materials available on Mars and minimal operating oversight (possibly combined with some plants and bacteria)? People could possibly move there much later after we've mastered the really complicated mining, geoengineering and farming problems needed to sustain people there.
jimjimjim 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hope! To be honest I don't think it matters if mars will be any better but at least it's progress.

and in a totalitarian sort of way, which would be better for the human race, getting off this rock or having the world upgrade from an iphone 11 to an iphone 12?

devy 4 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone with expertise to compare Musk's plan vs. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct plan proposed in the early 90s?
shurcooL 4 days ago 1 reply      
Did anyone else notice the title of the presentation PDF [0]? It is:

 NINA_5_ FINAL_draft_MarsTalkRevised_v4_17_nm_112716 copy 12
I just thought that was an interesting bit of meta information. Looks like they're not using VCS for it, hehe.


danilocesar 4 days ago 0 replies      
OMFG. I guess that mr Musk won't have any problems in finding manpower to execute his plans. HN is full of experienced deep space and terraforming specialists. =)
giarc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish someone would have screened these people asking questions for personal/commercial interests.
syntex 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what would be people's daily routine on mars. How colony with of thousands people will be organised? Would they have as much freedom as we have on earth, or the whole colony needs to be organized from bottom to top as the anthill colony.
zerooneinfinity 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wish there was local groups or meetups with people to talk about and maybe even potentially contribute to this effort. I kind of feel this way in general about science. I'd love to go somewhere after work and experiment in labs.
40acres 4 days ago 3 replies      
Elon mentioned that there is no physical frontier left to explore on Earth, what about deep water exploration?
ender7 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'm all for colonizing Mars, but is it possible to do large-scale terraforming of the surface without a magnetosphere to protect it?
giarc 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've never listened/watched the Q/A session from any of his talks, are the questions from the audience usually better?
mvrilo 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Waiting for everyone to reach their seats and get settled. Starting in 5 to 10."


nappy-doo 4 days ago 7 replies      
It looks from the videos that the boosters return to land using strictly thrust from the rocket. Can someone explain why it's done that way and a parachute isn't used for at least part of the descent? Seems like an awful waste of fuel.
mtrn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Impressive. I just wished some engineers could take at least a single day off to regenerate - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YxNYiyALg&feature=youtu.be... - especially when they are on a world changing mission.
EdSharkey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Musk must be a founding member of the Human Admiration Society. He's so positive on the achievements, adventures, survival of our species. And, he's on the watch too, warning us about possible looming threats like extinction events or AI run amok.

I want to join Musk's society! Let's keep humankind going!

banach 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finally, colonization without genocide. Maybe humanity is making progress after all?
gauto 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's really starting to feel like we "live in the future" more and more everyday. The stuff we used to dream about as kids is becoming reality. Amid all the doom and gloom that seems to pervade the news cycle, stories like this are so refreshing. Simply amazing.

It seems like in the longer term, it would be more efficient to take a shuttle to orbit, and then dock with at a space station to get on the interplanetary ship. Cruise ships and military ships use this method in places where docking is infeasible. It would be a much higher initial cost, however.

Six months on ship isn't so bad. Six months is the length of a WESTPAC, though you get to leave the ship periodically. I think the longest we went without docking was a month, and the guys in the submarines often go for even longer stretches.

JabavuAdams 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love the "questions, not essays" shut-down. It's not rude, but it quashes this tendency people have to try and impress rather than to ask a question.

Next time I'm giving a talk: one question per person (want to ask more, go to end of line), and ask your damn question.

banach 4 days ago 4 replies      
The SpaceXes of the age of colonization, such as the East India Company, used to sell shares to fund their voyages. I was a bit surprised not to hear Musk mention this as a funding option, since he just delivered the greatest Kickstarter pitch of all time...
sickbeard 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not convinced there's some urgent need to be multiplanetary in 6 years. There's so much we can do to make this planet better and it is by far the best planet in our solar system.
watermoose 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm incredibly excited about this.

I would actually like to hear more about what happens on Mars: the steps to generate oxygen, food, energy, water, and the fuel for the return trip. What are the various ways that Mars could be terraformed, and what are the ethical and practical considerations?

I know that this comes on the heels of an unfortunate accident, but I'm in the camp that accidents and mistakes can lead to better process with less risk, and sometimes simpler solutions.

And, I'd like to invest in SpaceX. Whether it's in stocks or bonds, I just want to help.

dba7dba 4 days ago 1 reply      
45:25Elon says he will leave detailed technical questions to QA after his presentation. Lol. His presentation was far more technical than any of the questions.

I think I would prefer more presentation from him than any QA.

jotato 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any reason why you couldn't put a tanker in geo-sync orbit connected to a very (very) long fuel pipe somewhere on earth? The idea being you can pump fuel up instead of launching it?

Kind of like a space elevator for fuel! :)

codeulike 4 days ago 2 replies      
The Mars colonial fleet would depart en-masse - about 1000 ships
MrZongle2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed Elon's presentation.

The Q&A, however, seemed to be straight from a second-rate Comic-Con panel.

Clearly, we've already identified some of the folks who should be left on Earth.

DiabloD3 4 days ago 1 reply      
After having read all several trillion comments in this, I can summarize: everyone shits on Elon because he's doing new shit, and they either misunderstand the gravity (ha ha) of the situation or are just salty as fuck, and almost everyone here in the HN community is essentially repeating this ad infinium.

In short, King Elon for World Emperor 2016.

simonh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd expect the first rocket, or several rockets to actually stay on Mars at least for a while.

1. It means you have somewhere to live and even if you set up habitats it acts as a fallback habitat.

2. You'll need a return to Earth option if things go potato shaped.

3. It can manufacture fuel in advance for future visiting ships so acts as a backup to their Sabatier reactor and other important systems.

4. Once you have several, you can afford to risk using one to travel to other parts of Mars and back to get science from other biome... er.. I mean prospect for resources.

I wonder if these will be capable of operating automatically. It would be nice to be able to prove out the system by sending an automated cargo only mission there and back, or maybe with a skeleton crew. It's fascinating that they're aiming to go directly to this without any less ambitious manned vehicles and missions first.

norea-armozel 4 days ago 3 replies      
My greatest fear is that space will become the playground for the rich and powerful where the rest of humankind is left to suffer on an overpopulated, polluted Earth. We as a society can't live on the kindness of individuals to achieve a better future and that goes double for leaning on SpaceX and Elon Musk. They are a for profit venture and that means unless you're rich enough to pay your way then you have to pay with labor which may or may not be pleasant. I know it seems silly to imagine the future like that but the way the rich and powerful have been running the world so far I can't see them giving a flip when they can have safe, sanitary habitats in space which separate them from the existential threats on Earth. At that point they could just say "fuck it" and cut the rest of humankind off from space easily with threats of asteroid bombardments or worse.
nixos 4 days ago 2 replies      
Did he talk about the future land ownership/governmentship of his colony?

Will it be a personal dictatorship of Elon?

Unlike Earth, once you're there, there's nowhere to go without his blessing.

You can't just "move next door".

And knowing how "locked down" his Tesla cars are, it'll be interesting to see how he'll deal with a rebellious colony.

jimmcslim 4 days ago 1 reply      
I thought the plans might include a Mars-Earth cycler [1] but possibly that's a science-fiction pipedream for the near future?

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

marvindanig 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't believe we're in that moment here.
stevebmark 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't mean to nitpick but is Elon always this bad of a presenter? He sounds sickly and hungover and unpracticed. A strange performance for probably one of the most important ventures in recent human history.
intrasight 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've considered the question before, and I considered it again while watching this - would I go? I've decided that I would, if given the opportunity. I'm an engineer. I'm in excellent physical health. I have a family, but they are at a point where they can get along without me. But then I consider that there are or will be hundreds of thousands of others who are in the same situation and also wish to join the queue.
opiuse 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what the music is during the first 20 minutes?
ben49 3 days ago 0 replies      
One Race the human Race,We all have the same origin ,last I checked it was 2016, I abhor those who play the race card and more so theSHEEPLE who feel that"I DOHAVE SOME PART AND SHAMEON ME.WE THE PEOPLE.
erikb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Since I've read more about Elon Musk I'm not sure any more that he really is the person who will bring humankind one step further. However, I really like that slogan "making humans a multiplanetary species". It really hits the spot for me. Something I also want to work towards.
cs702 4 days ago 1 reply      
To the US Federal Government:


Loan the money to SpaceX, or partner with private investors, or increase NASA's budget and have NASA pay for it. Just make it happen.

Even if this project fails, the benefits from having a lot of smart people trying to get to and establish a colony on Mars will pay dividends for a long time.

Please make it happen!

ommunist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, technically its a one-way ticket, right? And no FRS is going to check your spendings in outer space, right? I'd like to see whether this guy has some vested interest in VR. Just paranoid.
encoderer 4 days ago 2 replies      
I expect the "no children" rule to apply for roughly 9.25 months. What then I wonder?
MrBra 4 days ago 0 replies      
Witnessing the future, chill bumps!
icc97 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just a minor mention for the novel use of a ? in the URL, amused me at least.


tim333 3 days ago 0 replies      
While it would be good fun going to Mars you wonder if we want to concrete over a fair portion, ship 1000s of people over and change the climate a opposed to preserving it as it is.
jlebrech 4 days ago 0 replies      
Elon needs to build this first https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloudbase
z3t4 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are going to have a gigantic ship able to carry a hundred people there will be exponential costs. And 90% of the cost would be getting it into orbit. And then there will be maintenance costs.

I think it would be better to just launch many small and cheap ships, then just leave them in space or let them crash into mars after dropping cargo by parachute with some air cushions. They could be carried into low orbit by a jet airplane, then use "dumb" rockets like water under high pressure in cheap lightweight tanks. And heat it up to vapor temperature using then sun.

orky56 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm excited with Musk's grand vision. However I want to know why this can't happen even sooner. Here's a breakdown of what was discussed that may lead to a faster timeline:

1) Funding: Current SpaceX resources are tied up in creating the basic infrastructure that will lead to interplanetary travel. SpaceX is still private leading to Musk prioritizing these awesome ventures but still tied to revenue from contracts and limited funding. Going public will destroy the vision but give him the cash reserves to pull in the timeline.

2) Competition: NASA, other government space organization, and the private sector have or will have plans for interplanetary travel. Healthy competition often leads to more innovation and constant motivation. At the same time, it leads to competition for shared resources such as...

3) Talent: Musk mentioned in the Q&A that he can only hire green cards and up. The international talent pool is and will remain untapped unless something drastic changes. Assuming this talent goes to the competition and capitalizes into the positive effects, then it will be worth it. Unfortunately, we have yet to see another private sector company like SpaceX push the envelope as much so I'm not as hopeful that someone has the ability to utilize talent like Musk has. At the same time, SpaceX is known to drive employees into the ground. 7 days a week, tough hours, and impossible timelines is not sustainable for employees. The allure of SpaceX, similar to gaming, keeps talented individuals in line to get a shot at working for SpaceX. As mentioned due to the limited talent due to immigration issues, SpaceX may run into the talent shortage sooner than later.

4) Non-Transport Issues: Transportation is necessary but not sufficient for interplanetary travel & habitation. We don't have a SpaceX/Musk for the other non-transportation related issues. The political/cultural/international issues will be big and then there's terraforming and everything involved with that. Musk may get ahead of schedule but these other issues may push the timeline further and further out.

5) Public Interest: Space travel is not as sexy as it used to be for the public as compared to the Moon landing with the backdrop of the Cold War and arms race. Yes, this is not using direct public funding (if/until NASA decides to pitch in) but the public needs to make this objective be top of mind for it to become a reality. Musk and the science enthusiasts will not be enough. We need to develop a few "X Prize" equivalents for the non-science community to progress on the non-transport issues and show why it matters for the rest of the world.

XCSme 4 days ago 0 replies      
Musk for President! Make Mars great again! :D ... (sorry)
oli5679 4 days ago 0 replies      
randomsearch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can we start again here, please.

How has this announcement and Elon's dream in general excited or inspired you?

Any ideas for how the plan could be developed, improved, augmented?

wwarner 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm skeptical for two reasons. Living on Mars won't be like living in California at all. And two, building a colony there will be very, very, even catastrophically costly, so yes it will hurt everyone else who chooses not to participate. There are only so many platinum mines. Resources should be focused here. Think about it: how much water and air have left Earth to date? A miniscule amount, all due to space exploration. This project would change that, and for the worse.
beardicus 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is SpaceX trying to simulate the long, tedious trip to Mars with this scheduling delay and "endless space" intro graphic?
syntex 4 days ago 0 replies      
The sociological difficulty is as big as technical one. He hired one of the best engineers available to solve technical problems. Probably the same work should be done on the sociological part of the project. Otherwise, we may see bad events unfolding on mars. Would be interesting to see open source project taking sociological issues as target.
LeanderK 4 days ago 0 replies      
i was wondering if we want to permanently inhabit mars, can we create an magnetic field to reduce radiation? Can they be scaled down to a local one just spanning the habitat?
k__ 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cost of a medium sized house? I see Red Faction happening here.
damaru 4 days ago 1 reply      
Talk about going on Mars, Can't get proper light for the conference...
staticelf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Elon Musk is clearly the greatest man in my lifetime. What he does and has done for the world is insane. I really admire him for his work and sacrifices.

I really wish him to succeed and if he asked me to donate money I would.

tdaltonc 3 days ago 0 replies      
He can have Mars. I want Ceries.

Mars will be nothing more then a research station for 500 years. Ceries and the space stations at L1-5 will be economic powerhouses before 2100.

perilunar 3 days ago 1 reply      
1000 comments! Is that a record?
boznz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Better get the popcorn out for this thread...
mtgx 4 days ago 0 replies      
I missed most of the livestream. Why did they just close it? I thought it was possible to simply go back on it. Did they not want people to do that before editing it first?
Animats 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great video. Is the plan really a one-way trip?
ryanSrich 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hm. It either hasn't started yet or its not working for me. I just see the logo and hear music.
_audakel 4 days ago 0 replies      
cool part starts at about 31m:30s from the end of the clip
macawfish 4 days ago 0 replies      
elon musk debuts his foray into electronic music
DrNuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
Miserable sods are not an exception in the human history but, until now, doers have always had the last laugh. Steps may be faster without them but, you know, the higher the target, the more substantial the effort to get rid of miserable sods. It must be noted that it often happened that miserable sods' arguments helped improve the process overall, so I'm pretty sure SpaceX is taking note of the most intelligent arguments over here to improve their products.
davidw 4 days ago 6 replies      
Jeez, they should have done some vetting of the people asking questions. Some of these are horrible and a waste of time.
lucb1e 4 days ago 7 replies      
"Livestream starting soon". Does anyone know what time they're starting? (And please use a numeric timezone, I'm not a walking timezone database.)
40acres 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised Elon has not improved his public speaking abilities.
savagej 4 days ago 2 replies      
astazangasta 4 days ago 6 replies      
drcross 4 days ago 1 reply      
As much as I love everything about what Elon is doing I wish there was a way to remove all the "um"s and "eh"s from his diction.
astazangasta 4 days ago 5 replies      
btcboss 4 days ago 0 replies      
dom96 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for posting this. Have been excited about this all week!
Esau 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yup, time to move to other planets - the virus has almost killed its current host.
callmeatroll 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is either:

A) the most revolutionary venture of this century

B) the largest Ponzi scheme ever

novalis78 4 days ago 0 replies      
Expect a job application as soon as I receive my Greencard, Elon :-)
dsabanin 4 days ago 4 replies      
What are we going to do on Mars? Live in a plastic box? Send in a bunch of slaves to mine minerals in insufferable conditions? I don't get it.
daveheq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why are we thinking about going to other planets when we can't even take care of our own?

How many industry leaders see planets as merely resources to be exploited like they do people?

suyash 4 days ago 0 replies      
We should not be colonizing foreign lands instead making our own planet better in all sense. Elon Musk and company are well known for big promises, I'm still waiting for 35K Tesla that was supposed to come out last year.
Your_Creator 4 days ago 0 replies      
Forgive me but I love this stuff, thinking about how much quantum mechanics has taught us about the universe makes me absolutely giddy. I haven't even watched this yet and I can tell you this:

To achieve multi-planetary status, we need to make ourselves less fragile than we currently tend to be. What I mean by that is that if we devoted half as much time, money and resources as we do to wage endless wars and collectively shifted our focus to medical advancements such as the technology we need to keep ourselves alive in the hostile environments we'll encounter in space, our astronauts very likely could be traveling in self contained, iron man-like suits by now.

Aside from that, we may have to upgrade our own physiology so;

We NEED nanotech that can repair us, keep us healthy and help us adapt OURSELVES to new environments that have enough of the proper elements. Can you imagine being able to Evolve On Demand so that you can breathe a different atmosphere and derive whatever your body needed from it? I can.

If relativity holds then planets that are either bigger or moving faster might have a very different local space-time from what we're used to, so imagine if jet lag was so severe it hospitalized you.

We need artificial intelligence capable of both supervised and unsupervised learning to run and monitor our environments, our medical conditions - both physical and mental. The 'quantified self movement' actually has a very, very useful purpose here.

We need to be able to repair a ship while it's in space. We need to be able to repair an environmental suit while standing or perhaps trapped in a volcano that ejects molten Dihydrogen Monoxide on Titan.

We need real, functioning, scanning, recording, data-analyzing Tricorders. Yes, if if weren't obvious by now, I AM a total Star Trek nerd and if we want to explore space, we need those mobile forensic labs that will allow us to truly see the universe and ALL of its wonderful colors. I could go on, but then someones' R&D department is gonna have to pay me.

ravenstine 4 days ago 3 replies      
I have a better idea:

Let's focus all the money and effort we would spend on getting to Mars and living on its wasteland, and use it to understand the human mind and digitize it into a realm not individually constrained by physics? I actually think that may be a more realistic and practical goal, and our quality of lives could be much better. I mean, what do we really get from living somewhere like Mars? A storage compartment for excess humans? To what end? What will happen to it when we cure aging?

The idea of terraforming Mars cracks me up. Maybe when Musk completes his hyperloop will also be when I start taking him more seriously.

Show HN: Wave function collapse algorithm github.com
1187 points by ExUtumno  2 days ago   116 comments top 36
fitzwatermellow 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great work! The fact that it captures "long-range order" seemingly perfectly is something not many have been able to do before! And the "collapse" visualization is great fun to watch.

But is your algorithm really qualitatively all that different from previous search methods (e.g. Efros and Leung), if you are still (uniform random?) sampling over the input distribution of patches?

I notice also your input textures tend to have sharp boundaries (as is common in pixel art). It would be interesting to see the results when the input has a lot of "noise", such as high def images of rocks or clouds ;)

While I still prefer search methods because they are easy to implement (and give better results), "deep" methods are definitely gaining some ground:

Deep Textures


Combining Markov Random Fields and Convolutional Neural Networks for Image Synthesis


Balgair 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fantastic stuff. I love it! As with most meachine learning stuff and these very cool ideas (of which I am very hazy on, esp their categorizations) I immediately want to use it for our lab's brain work.

We have a LOT of 3-D images (per voxel is ~200nmx200nmx~600nm for a lot of 1028x1028 .tiff images all stitched together) and would love to feed these images BACKWARDS into this. IE we have the 'far field', and we want the 'elements' that make it up. Say we have a large amount of data on the Pituitary gland, and we want to compare the 'elements' of the Pituitary to the 'elements' of the hippocampus. We know a lot of these differences, but there may be 'something else' in there that we humans are not seeing. This may be of great use to use for disease pathology like Lewy Body Disease precursors.

etatoby 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great!

It would be interesting to apply this concept to wavelets (instead of pixels or voxels) in order to work on real-life pictures.

Also, 3 dimensions as in X, Y and time, to work on animated GIFs. Think about an infinite, never repeating Blue Ball Machine! http://m.imgur.com/5Flh68G

abecedarius 1 day ago 2 replies      
As I understand it: this treats image generation as constraint satisfaction. The constraints are that each NxN patch appears in the source image. The satisfaction method is arc consistency https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC-3_algorithm, except, when that settles down prematurely, pick the least-constrained patch and make a random valid choice, then continue. (If this leads to getting stuck, then give up instead of backtracking.)

Is that the idea? The description wasn't completely clear to me.

phodo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nicely done! Your 3d extensions could be further extended (performance notwithstanding) to create some pretty cool procedurally generated VR experiences. Thanks for sharing.
throwaway000002 1 day ago 1 reply      

Don't really understand the technique, but would like your thoughts on if it's possible to give a Penrose tile set as a seed and see if aperiodic order is generated.

Lovin' it!

twfarland 2 days ago 3 replies      
Mindblowing... could this technique also be applied to music?
xixixao 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing. Make sure to scroll through the whole README to see voxel models. Rendered using http://ephtracy.github.io/index.html which is in itself pretty cool too.
bduerst 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't have much to contribute to the conversation on this other than that it's incredibly cool.
matthewwiese 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent! I especially like the example third from the top (black/white "rooms"). This would be a great tool to generate maps for roguelikes in a more "organic" fashion. Not only that, but the bitmap source you use for input would provide wildly different results.

Given that and the simplicity of just providing a bitmap as input, this could be adapted well to provide customization to the player as well.

ianai 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm missing a lot here. How does this equate to wave function collapse?
amelius 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the quite powerful PatchMatch algorithm [1]. Is it related?

Also note how PatchMatch can work with constraints.

[1] http://vis.berkeley.edu/courses/cs294-69-fa11/wiki/images/1/...

phaedrus 2 days ago 0 replies      
This requires no more up front work than a Markov-based technique, but produces results on par with an L-grammar. It may be generally applicable to the problem domains of both!
valine 2 days ago 2 replies      
You should add some gifs with a lower frame rate. I had to download the one you had and walk through frame by frame. Absolutely beautiful.
Sharlin 1 day ago 1 reply      
This could be extra awesome if it could be made small and fast enough to be able to execute as a fragment shader.
wodencafe 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's incredible!

This could be great for generating maps in a sprite based strategy game!

michrassena 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't have much to contribute other than to say this is really amazing, and I want to throw all kinds of things at it and see what happens. Pardon my ignorance of how this works, does this algorithm have anything to do with symmetry breaking?
tgb 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. Someone should make a Minecraft plugin.
vinchuco 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can you feed it something other than bitmaps? Like its own source code?
mirekrusin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can this approach be used to generate "missing parts" in unfinished song? If composer has few good parts but is too lazy to finish the whole piece, for example? Or to "extend" Moonlight for example?
hood_syntax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool, might try do something like this in a game I've been thinking about writing.
alexmorenodev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Extremely nice to create procedural maps and other stuff.Really nice.
antirez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool algorithm, and impressive visual results. Thanks for sharing.
ejcx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love that one of the files is "Stuff.cs".

Super neat visuals and I can't wait to play with this, as someone who knows nothing about this kind of "stuff".

smilekzs 1 day ago 0 replies      
The circuit board example looks alarmingly convincing despite it's obvious we're not looking at an actual circuit...
WhitneyLand 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very impressive. I have no use for your work whatsoever yet would love to dive into it further.
artursapek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing. If this is fast enough, I imagine it could do wonders for games (terrain and background generation).
psyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is amazing, and could have very cool applications in procedural generation.
chrischen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Cool. I wonder what the results are on a high resolution image.
xer0x 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't quite get it, but damn it's awesome!
isoprophlex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this! Really exciting work!
CiPHPerCoder 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is pretty awesome, but there is no LICENSE file so I'm assuming no one is allowed to use it in their own projects.
Myrmornis 1 day ago 1 reply      
The README says it uses real-valued probability amplitudes, not complex-valued wavefunction. Could the simulation be done with complex numbers and if so how would the results differ?
partycoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
WOW, this is amazing. Really impressed seeing how it can adapt to multiple patterns.
natch 1 day ago 1 reply      
What language is this?

How can I compile / run it?

angelftbcn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook Ordered to Stop Collecting Data on WhatsApp Users in Germany nytimes.com
653 points by mh-cx  5 days ago   426 comments top 23
achou 4 days ago 10 replies      
A former colleague of mine who was a distinguished academic and successful tech executive grew up in East Germany. After the Berlin wall fell, he was able to enter the building where they kept the dossiers. He found his own file and was astounded by the information they had on him. His friends, his work, his habits. Photos of himself going about his business. His social circles. His friends were equally shocked by the collection of the most trivial details. They weren't fomenting revolution or doing anything remotely disruptive. They thought nobody would pay much attention to a bunch of harmless random students. They were wrong.

Memories like this still have force in Europe. I have to believe that their history makes many Europeans queasy about the collection of mass information. It is also easy to see how these laws could be exploited by large companies in Europe for their own commercial interest. Still, these laws have a moral force and US companies are stupid to try to circumvent, belittle, or ignore them. The desire for privacy has deep roots; it is not a nuisance to be swatted away on the path towards maximal profits.

bikamonki 5 days ago 7 replies      
You can go get an off-contract sim card, use it on a clean Android, create a fake gmail account in order to download and install Whatsapp. Now you make connections (you add family and friends to your contacts) and start communicating. By now both FB and Google know who you are simply b/c other people in your network, not concerned with privacy, have you saved on their contacts list, pressumably under your first and last name. Using analytics data that you inadvertedly share through your usage habits, both companies build a detailed online persona that will never be forgotten. B/c we are creatures of habit and social bonds, it is quite easy to determine who you are and what you do, by indirect information like your locations (gps), connections (contacts), online presence (IPs), browsing habits, etc.

THERE IS NO ESCAPE. Unless you do what they themselves say you should do if you do not agree with the terms: don't use their services.

0xmohit 5 days ago 7 replies      
Quoting from the link:

 Facebook said on Tuesday, after the order had been issued, that it had complied with Europes privacy rules and that it was willing to work with the German regulator to address its concerns.
Two Indian students challenged Facebook on WhatsApp privacy policy changes [0]. The following is what WhatsApp counsel told [1]:

 Using the messaging service is a voluntary decision, we have not forced anybody to use it. Users have an option of opting out of it.
Disclaimer: I don't have an account on either Facebook or WhatsApp.

[0] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-20/facebook-f...

[1] http://mashable.com/2016/09/23/india-delhi-high-court-whatsa...

smoyer 5 days ago 7 replies      
Now things are going to get interesting! I completely understand the desire for privacy but I think it's unrealistic to expect that Facebook won't consolidate its data by user across all their applications. Facebook (and Google, etc.) are now in the same business as the credit reporting agencies ... You are their only product.

My hope is that the increasing outrage will drive users to one of the secure messaging applications.

Disclaimer: I have neither a Facebook nor a WhatsApp account.

hiisukun 5 days ago 1 reply      
Regardless of how this ends up working or being decided, I'm very happy to see such discussion occurring. The large scale collection of data on users has benefits both nominally 'good' and 'evil' - from app UX to advertising profits. But equally interesting are the potential drawbacks involving privacy concerns, and lack of user awareness.

It is this last point that I find best remedied by articles like this appearing in widely available media publications. When a discussion is on HN I might learn a lot and reflect upon my choices. When the nytimes and German privacy commissioner start a conversation, I consider that even more valuable.

Hopefully a balanced outcome will occur, but I don't see that as important as the inevitable education that comes with such public debate.

kbart 5 days ago 3 replies      
It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook, Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg data protection commissioner, said in a statement. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened.

That's a fair point. I don't use WhatsApp, so did it asked to accept new privacy policy, terms & conditions or smth? Anyway, I'm happy to see that institutions in Europe take a stance against big corps to protect its users lately.

makecheck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its unfortunately a good example of how easy it is for products to change: in our current system, any nice thing is just one buyout away from becoming something entirely different.

Its a bit like when a restaurant starts out good or bad, and changes under new management: its the same restaurant and yet its really not the same anymore, and consumers may or may not have gotten the memo. And it almost doesnt matter if it goes through 3 managers, from good to bad and back to good, as the brand has already been tarnished and the damage is done.

I believe strongly that the hard work of hundreds of people shouldnt be easy to screw up just because the wrong people bought you out, and yet this happens frequently: good projects are killed, and excellent work may end up going nowhere. This is why open-source projects have so much value: they are very difficult to screw up because there is always the option to fork it from a good spot and keep all the good work alive.

nojvek 4 days ago 1 reply      
While Germany is protecting their citizens from facebook's shady privacy policies, The US leaders argue about who has more stamina.

I'm very happy paying 1$ a year for privacy and security.

Whatsapp just re-iterated that they will say anything to fool its users and break their promise.

Facebook should definitely get a fine in billions and should be made to apologize publicly for breaching privacy.

Tomte 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hamburg's data commissioner is influential because he is very active and outspoken (the previous one was even more so), but that also means that he's a bit fast and loose.

His opinions and rulings are not always held up by the courts, and the other states' data commissioners (there are fifteen more, plus a federal one) quite often don't agree with him.

brogrammernot 5 days ago 0 replies      
This could send shockwaves throughout the entire web.

If the premise of the complaint is that users connecting with a facebook account didn't explicitly give permission to use the data associated with it then I imagine a swooping change will have to happen with all services that use Facebook, google sign on as they'll have to explicitly gain user's consent to use the exact information they're mining.

You might go, oh well they already do, I doubt it honestly and they likely rely on implicit consent but I can see this having major shockwaves

AndrewKemendo 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an important discussion, but nobody seems to be asking the question - what is the end goal here for either side?

Lets take the extremes as a beginning..

1. Lets assume every action a person takes is logged. That means every keystroke, cough, heartbeat, meal, path taken etc... for everyone on the planet is tracked somewhere in some system.

2. On the flip side lets say that nothing is logged and we stop using systems that track our behavior altogether.

- What are the costs and benefits to either extreme and where would the people of the future prefer to lie on that extreme? Is there a realistic middle ground?

If the question is about informed consent then I am afraid it's a losing battle. Consumers do not understand even the basic externalities of different behaviors - and even if you printed them on the label it would mostly be noise. So to expect that people will understand all possible negative externalities with sharing data is a bridge too far.

I personally think that more accurate lifestyle data, provided by users to Machine systems, with the purpose of affecting behaviors, based on stated and revealed preferences of the users would be the best long term outcome. Offloading decision making to a machine is the best decision we will ever make as a species - and that requires a lot of training data and other data to optimize.

Otherwise we might as well just go back to everyone being a farmer.

arviewer 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I like the Germans so much. They just do this stuff.
shkr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yesterday, I opened whatsapp on my phone. During the last weeks I have been clicking on the `Not Now` option when whatsapp gave me the new terms and conditions. Yesterday, the not now option did not exist. This is not good.
throwawayReply 5 days ago 3 replies      
How does this work, if I travel to Germany and use WhatsApp is Facebook compelled to delete all the shared data they have on me?
FabHK 5 days ago 3 replies      
Can everyone just please install Wire [1]:

* free,

* end-to-end encrypted

* text and voice chat

* with pictures and group chat and what have you,

* using the Signal/OpenWhisper protocol,

* with desktop and web clients,

* open source (GPLv3, and on github [2]),

* signup with phone number or email,

* based in Switzerland,

* what else can you ask for?

Signal itself of course is pretty good, secure (recommended by Ed Snowden, famously), but not quite as fully featured it seems to me.

[1] https://wire.com

[2] https://github.com/wireapp

EDIT: added license, web client

bogomipz 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I were German I would feel pretty good that my government was willing to stand up for my privacy. In an era when both civil liberties and expectations of reasonable privacy seem to be falling by the wayside, even in countries that purport to espouse such principles I think this is pretty awesome.
thr0waway1239 4 days ago 0 replies      
Remember "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?". I look forward to more countries declaring themselves high-privacy zones to attract tourists.

Except for the privacy intrusion from all the other tourists, I suppose :-)

patrickaljord 5 days ago 9 replies      
Facebook asked WhatsApp users to give consent before collecting data, which some did. Why should the government intervine between consenting adults agreeing on a contract willfully? Isn't this the definition of tyranny and why we oppose things such as the war on drugs?
davidf18 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is such a thing as being a good citizen on the net and part of that should be that these privacy violating features be "opt in" so that people can use them if they want to.

Maybe NY State where I live will pass some privacy laws.

icantdrive55 5 days ago 5 replies      
I would like to see a federal Staute inacted regarding the collection of user data in the US. Enacted quickly!

Something on the lines of don't collect any data, besides name, password, email address. This information can never be sold.

I have weird feeling, in the near future, we will find that information/data has been abused. No just abused by marketing/big data, etc..

And I'm not even arguing about the obvious--personal privacy. Although personal privacy should be the number one reason for this hypothetical statute.

I have a feeling, it will be the next big financial insider trading scandal. It will involve people we talk about here-- Google/Bing/FB insiders(the ones who can see individual IP's, and their data.), took all that information, and traded stock upon it.

I have a hard time believing every email that Warren Buffet/George Sorrows/every sussessful trader makes isn't looked at by someone. And it's not just email; it collating search histories, in order to get a "feeling" of where the money to is to be made.

They are then using that info. to invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, etc..

And yes, they will claim we don't care about getting insider info. on investments--we make a killing selling the data to marketers. Why would we do such a thing? Because you can. I would have a hard time not looking at that information, and I don't have a penny to gamble.

I think it will be a huge story.

(Edit to a legitimate question about the poor websites that depend on advertising.)

Yes--I didn't bring up advertising. They could advertise like the old days, like newspapers did. They just couldn't target market their advertising--like they presently do at nausium.I still think they would make their nut. They would still be winners!And yes--I would pay for the right service, if they couldn't manage to compete by being hobbled with not targeted advertising. I paid for many websites before Google made advertising a science.

My post has nothing to do with advertising. I get advertising. Just leave my detailed, personal info. out of it.)

Kenji 5 days ago 6 replies      
I don't understand why the state has to become involved. Let the free market work and people decide for themselves.

I stopped using WhatsApp the moment I read that facebook bought it.

UnGoogled Chromium: Chromium with enhanced privacy, control and transparency github.com
687 points by kawera  6 days ago   418 comments top 32
nikcub 6 days ago 7 replies      
Removing Google's binary blobs is mitigating one issue, but replacing it with an entire binary blog from an anonymous github user might be introducing new ones.

On that note - can you tell us more about the project? ie. if you plan on keeping this updated long terms (i've watched a lot of promising chromium forks fade after an initial big splash), what your plans are, if you'll you accept contributions, how the binary distributions are built so we can verify the checksums, if you can tag the Chromium releases from Google so they can be verified, etc.

I've had the idea of a chromium fork with privacy enhancements in the back of my mind for a while now (turns out a lot of people have) specifically to replace Tor Browser and/or have a lighter browser (without canvas, webgl, webrtc etc.) with better defaults (ie. no hardware access, location, notifications, cookies, history, etc.) for opening links, private browsing etc[1].

This may be a good base to work on - assuming you want to go beyond just "de-googlify"

[1] I think there is a real need for an alternate browser that is lightweight[2] and has stricter privacy and security controls - with proper user segregation (ie. you really don't want to open random links from social media in the same browser session as where you're logging into your primary accounts).

[2] ie. do to Chrome/Firefox what Firefox originally did to Netscape - and Chrome would be the better foundation to work on

nathancahill 6 days ago 5 replies      
Great start. Although I think we need to reverse the trend of Chrome becoming the single browser web developers use. The amount of sites that unnecessarily[0] work only in Chrome is growing daily. And that's not even counting browser extensions. I think this, more than anything else, will determine if Chrome becomes the "Internet Explorer"[1] of this decade or not.

Skipping testing in IE is one thing. Skipping testing in Firefox is a sin.

[0] Unnecessarily, because cross-browser compatibility isn't hard, simply include CSS prefixes besides -webkit and use standardized JS APIs.

[1] Internet Explorer, a term for a closed-source browser that creates non-standard APIs that developers jump on, forcing either users to use that browser, or other browsers to implement the non-standard APIs too.

eloston 6 days ago 4 replies      
Hey guys, I'm the developer. I was really surprised to see the number of stars on GitHub suddenly skyrocket, and I think I found why. Thank you all for your interest in my project!

Feel free to make an issue (for questions, suggestions, or bug reports) or a pull request anytime. I might respond to a few more comments here before calling it a day.

echelon 6 days ago 8 replies      
Is there a decent alternative to Chrome on Android? I am absolutely, nauseatingly sick of ads on mobile. Almost every news website I visit fills the browser with full screen ads that are infuriatingly difficult to close, change the scrolling behavior and viewport in an entirely unusable way, or try to launch Google Play Store links in the background. It's so annoying, and definitely to the point of being one of my top ten frustrations in life.

The last time I used Firefox on mobile, it didn't integrate well with the phone UI. It felt clunky, the fonts were bad, and the viewport was wrong on many websites.

I feel like Mozilla would do the most good in the world by spending more effort on a mobile browser. Mobile Chrome is flat out disgusting and abhorrent, but I haven't found anything else that's remotely as performant. It just sucks that Google refuses to allow extensions to protect their ad revenue.

Are there any good alternative browsers that block shitty, intrusive, and entirely irrelevant mobile ads? Are they open source?

Retr0spectrum 6 days ago 2 replies      
"Googlification" has been my main reason for avoiding chrom{e,ium} until now. This could become my main browser.

IMHO Chrome has a better track record than Firefox when it comes to security issues, but Firefox has better privacy.

tomjakubowski 6 days ago 0 replies      
> Replace many web domains in the source code with non-existent alternatives ending in qjz9zk (known as domain substitution)

How does this play with the HSTS preload list? That'd be quite the baby to throw out with the bathwater.

edit: well, I don't see anything like "transport_security_state_static.json" in this list here, so maybe it's fine: https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium/blob/master/re...

edit2: The preload list seems to be excluded from domain substitution explicitly. Yay! https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium/blob/4bbfff447...

koolba 6 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a browser build or plugin extension that has a separate cookie jar for each tab that follows the tab?

My ideal browser has zero persistence and each tab maintains its own cookies. Links opened as new tabs would share the parent's cookie jar, but separate tabs loaded to the same page could both be logged in at the same time.

floatingatoll 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's unfortunate that valuable and useful privacy enhancements were combined with "wishlist"-level changes like "disable the tab close event in Javascript".

While many may not like the uses of that event, it taints what otherwise could have been a "purely about privacy" fork of Chromium with non-privacy opinions.

throw2016 6 days ago 0 replies      
I remember when Chrome launched. It was extremely zippy, felt fast and lean and had a clean interface. Adoption had yet to take off.

Those days it was all technical, google was perceived first as technically proficient and their agenda was to produce a fast and efficient browser. Many people could and did align with that.

Now there are too many question marks about Google's motives and agendas and Chrome does not feel like a technical achievement, it feels burdened by all these agendas.

Firefox is supposed to be the default go to when in doubt but why do you need such a large coporation to develop a fast and lean browser and here too there appears to be conflicting actions and agendas.

Now more than ever we need clean open source projects with no agendas but because of growing complexity its becoming increasingly impossible for small groups to do, and I think we have not evolved open source structures to deal with this yet.

xelxebar 6 days ago 0 replies      
Tangentially related, but I'm curious why non-Firefox and non-Chromium browsers don't get more love.

Started trying out alternative browsers a while ago--vimb, dwb, and luakit--and enjoyed their snappiness and customizability.

Recently, however, I discovered uzbl and fell in love. It feels like everthing a shell for the web should be.

I am unsure whether I should be worried about security pr something though. Would love to hear others' input!

laktak 6 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of "Iron"

> a freeware web browser, and an implementation of Chromium by SRWare of Germany. It primarily aims to eliminate usage tracking and other privacy-compromising functionality that the Google Chrome browser includes. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SRWare_Iron)

First released 8 years ago: https://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php

robbrown451 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome.

One of my biggest gripes with Chrome is the inability to stop a rogue site from playing audio (on top of the music I'm listening to in another tab). CNN is one of the worst, as soon as I find the freaking video on the page and try to pause/mute it, the video controls slide away. Why can't Chrome allow me to just turn off audio on that tab? I have assumed Google doesn't give us that because it will interfere with their advertising or something.

(maybe there is an extension that will help? I haven't found one)

lfx 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is this browser expecting me to use TOR? Welcome and extensions pages on new tab pages wants me to go to http://www.9oo91e.qjz9zk/ domain.

I'm not finding anything about that in repo readme page. This looks odd and suspicious. Because it's even blocks requests there -> http://imgur.com/a/UnMu8

doe88 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great, the released binaries also seem to be compiled with proprietary_codecs=true, that means H264 videos are working (by default Chromium is not compiled with this flag).
phantom_oracle 6 days ago 2 replies      
Just as a post about Googles next generic Whatsapp-clone (with x-size-larger emojis) will get some 500+ upvotes, so too will a post like this get upwards of 200 votes.

The HN community really is polarized ( or so it seems ) about these data-harvesting companies and issues like privacy/transparency.

My thought then, is which group is larger here (privacy-aware vs. GooAppFace )

aceperry 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool work. The Chromium source isn't easy to go through. I'm glad that it's open source though.
dingdingdang 6 days ago 0 replies      
On a purely utilitarian note: does this have auto-update functionality?
TomAnthony 6 days ago 1 reply      
The readme refers to "Google Host Detector" in the (original) Chromium source. Does anyone know the purpose of that?
mikro2nd 6 days ago 0 replies      
How is this different from Iridium browser?
Blackthorn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this remove Safe Browsing? Not a good idea.
rer 6 days ago 2 replies      
There's a huge discussion in this thread on tabs being slow, which made me wonder: is it necessary for browsers to have tabs?

Windows desktop apps work great without tabs. Could life be better without tabs?

zenincognito 6 days ago 3 replies      
On Linux Mint I get

Error:Dependency is not satisfiable:libavcodec-ffmpeg56(>=7.2.4)|libavcodec-ffmped-extra56(>=7:2.4)

Suggestion -

The repo does not provide install instructions.For a highly not tech privacy enthusiast, I find it difficult to install for linux.

s0me0ne 4 days ago 0 replies      
I dont use Chromium because I dont trust Google, but I use Vivaldi but not sure how much Googlization is in it for spying.
poshli 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how https://twitter.com/taviso feels about yet another Chromium fork
vog 6 days ago 1 reply      
My only issue is that GotoMeeting doesn't work with Chromium, only with Chrome. Otherwise I would already have removed Chrome a long time ago.
eatbitseveryday 5 days ago 1 reply      
Do extensions work with this build of the browser? I cannot seem to install Privacy Badger from the Chrome webstore.
tszming 6 days ago 1 reply      
For those who want to take up a challenge - fork a version of Chrome Android with extension (aka AdBlock) support.
corv 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is geolocation still using Google Location Service or has that been replaced with a different provider?
hartator 6 days ago 1 reply      
+1 Will be my new default when home. Does it support uBlock Origin?
NeutronBoy 6 days ago 20 replies      
While I applaud the effort that's gone into this, I urge people to consider (and use and contribute to!) Firefox. It's one of the last truly open-source browsers - both in terms of source code visibility (which Chrome(ium) has), and in terms of being able to contribute (which Chrome(ium) has not).
hartator 6 days ago 4 replies      
Firefox is not really a good company anymore, they care more about politics than doing something awesome. Cf. the firing of their CEO.
piedradura 6 days ago 0 replies      
I can't download the posts of forums like comp.lang.lisp, and I can't disable javascript in firefox with one click, so forget about any applaud from me. The browser I would like is nothing like this and I want a javascript free browsing experience in which content is important and display not so much, sorry css fans. Today web is about selling things and propagating noise and today browsers are a perfect tool to propagate more noise, linkbaits are the norm. The pityful technical enhacements of noise propagators is not what I am interested about. To be somewhat positive, anything Ungoogled sound to be a good thing, I am expecting the next interesting post to be about a very small company building the new web with a small browser whose code you can trust and check.
Sweden Wants to Fight Disposable Culture with Tax Breaks for Repairing Old Stuff fastcoexist.com
546 points by prawn  6 days ago   329 comments top 37
jernfrost 5 days ago 7 replies      
This is beginning in the wrong end IMHO. One of the big problems today is that products are:

1) Not made to be repaired.2) Not made to last3) Repair manuals are not easily and widely available4) Manufacturer have monopoly on replacement parts making them extremely expensive.

I would instead create tax incentives which encourage manufacturers to make repairable and durable items, and pass laws which makes it easier for the competition to make compatible replacement parts so they are cheaper.

How many products don't we have where one stupid little plastic thing breaks and it becomes useless. Getting the part is difficult, expensive or hard to install.

J-dawg 6 days ago 10 replies      
This idea seems so sensible it's a no-brainer. (I'm almost dreading the comments explaining why I'm wrong!) The human race is producing unprecedented quantities of non-recyclable "stuff".

It's pumped out of the ground as oil, converted into plastics, and after a short life, buried in the ground again. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad if much of it didn't also end up floating in the ocean, being eaten by animals and contaminating the human food chain.

The only potential counter-argument I can see with this sort of policy is that the goals of minimising CO2 and minimising waste sometimes seem to be in competition with each other. Anecdotally I've heard of examples where (e.g.) washing china plates has a greater carbon cost than using disposable ones.

gambiting 6 days ago 6 replies      
The only problem with repairing devices is labour cost, nothing else.

I've had a broken subwoofer that I took to a small electronics shop(in UK), and was quoted 60 pounds to even have it looked at. Not repaired - looked at. The subwoofer cost me 80 pounds on ebay. So predictably, it went straight to the bin.

Same with washing machines, dryers, etc - I bought a Hotpoint washing machine for 220 pounds, but a standard call out charge for an engineer to come and have a look is at least 100 pounds. Plus any parts + cost of labour billed per hour = it's cheaper to just buy a new washing machine and at least have a warranty on it.

Now, I feel like this is exclusive to western countries, because people value their time a lot(as they should!) - but where I'm from(Poland) it would be stupidly cheap to get anything repaired. I had an old LCD TV repaired locally, the guy spent half a day fixing it, and only charged 100 zlotys(20 pounds/30 USD) - that included parts.

Not sure how we can change that, unless we get the labour cost down.

Animats 5 days ago 1 reply      
There are downsides to repairability. It means more fasteners to come loose, and more connectors to give trouble. It means more bulky devices; you can't cram everything in as tightly if it has to come out later.

I restore old Teletype machines, which were designed to be 100% repairable. You can take them apart down to the individual parts and put them back together. Everything is attached with screws and lockwashers. Restoring an 80-year old machine is routine.

They are not low-maintenance. Each machine has over 600 lubrication points. There are hundreds of things to be adjusted. You need a sizable tool kit and two suitcases of parts for normal maintenance. And you have to study up on how to do all this. Few people want to bother with that level of detail any more.

jokoon 6 days ago 8 replies      
I fail to understand why Scandinavian politics always manage to make sense.

Is that cultural, historical, economical, or does the tough climate force people to think a little bit more about how they manage their society?

ersii 6 days ago 1 reply      
There seems to be plenty here that like the idea of lowering the Value Add Tax on repairs. Let me ask: Why stop at 12.5% VAT for repairs? If you'd go all the way down to 0% - the repairs could potentially be up to 25% cheaper than they are now.
semi-extrinsic 6 days ago 8 replies      
What we really need is financial penalties on companies that make stuff deliberately hard to repair. Set up a department of the Consumer Rights Bureau (or whatever it's called) where people can report devices the've been unable to fix due to deliberate obfuscation/etc., and that forces manufacturers to refund the consumer the entire purchase sum of that device no matter how old it is.

Anecdote: my washing machine recently broke the main bearing, and I was going to fix it. Even found a nice teardown/reassembly vid on Youtube of the exact same model (a bit older than mine). After 2 hours of work, I discover Bosch has gone from using screws on the outer drum to plastic welding it shut. So fixing it means replacing the entire assembly, costing 2/3 of a new machine and with a four week delivery time for the part. I learned this is only done to screw consumers over, and that all manufacturers do it now. The drum still has all the mounting tabs for being screwed together, so they're literally just saving $0.30 on screws.

acd 5 days ago 1 reply      
Globalisation vs the environment

Globalisation means consuming cheap stuff made in a low cost country that does usually not last that long and transported over long distances.

Built to consume in cellphones are integrated batteries and cheap components that by design fail after three years so we buy a new phone. Integrated storage of a limited size that you cannot expand. Making things that does not last is more profitable than making things that last long why is that?

How 16 container ships pollute more than all the cars in the world.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-1...

On one hand economists wants us to blindly consume as much stuff as possible since that is good for the economy. The other hand says we pollute the earth and use to much energy which means we need to consume more durable goods which lasts longer.

How do we integrate the environment in the economy?

Shivetya 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone can reuse old fully workable products in their every day life, it really is super easy and in many cases can be cheaper. While I do go occasionally go into thrift or antique stores, I also hit up garage sales, but my main source is ebay.

Besides the good feeling from putting something back into service that would other wise be junked there can be some serious nostalgia involved. Examples, I have a Toastmaster 1b16 fully automatic toaster like my grandparents had in the 50s, works perfect regardless how many slices pass through it. Old glass plates (morgantown, crinkle, etc) that we use every day for eating. Milk glass spice dispensers, salt & pepper, and old glass water containers in the fridge for ice tea. You can even buy old tupperware or ceramic and glass storage for the refrigerator. My favorite has to be a the vintage fans, a six bladed brass Emerson (blades look like ship propeller) is flawless in use and over a hundred years old.

About the only things I won't use are higher tech electronics, efficiency aside the older items may not even be usable because of software or serviceability

hlandau 6 days ago 9 replies      
This is a very nice move to see.

Other people have discussed washing machines below, but there's even more to say on them. Washing machines used to have long warranty periods. Nowadays they tend to be sold with a 2 year warranty, which I believe in the EU is the required minimum. And these manufacturers (Bosch, for example) even have the gall to claim that their products are high quality and that this warranty period somehow proves this, or is in any way a long period.

AFAIK washing machines used to have 10 year warranties, but they cost more along the lines of 800. Now we have 250 washing machines with 2 year warranties. One way of reducing costs is to reduce the number of parts. Sealed tanks, as mentioned below, are one such example. This directly impairs the repairability of the product.

I suspect also that models are released at greater frequency, possibly due to a need to take advantage of price fluctuations in wholesale parts markets (if you can make a washing machine using Part A or Part B, and one month A is more expensive than B, and then this inverts, this creates pressure to constantly design new models to minimise pricing). Though this is just a suspicion, it would make sense: I do know that the (monolithic) spare parts are stocked for a particular model for less time, which means that the prices of the spares which are available are very high.

Water efficiency regulations also appear to have forced modern washing machines to use inadequate water for rinsing. There are numerous stories of hypoallergenic people who find that their new washing machine leaves significant detergent in clothing. Some people have even tracked down old (and for that matter better made) washing machines just to get one which will rinse properly. At other times the actual temperature of the water on the '60 degree' setting has been tested and found to be rather on the low side. (Supposedly all of this efficiency regulation, rather pathetically, only tests the 60 degree programme in the first place, putting a certain degree of competitive pressure on energy efficiency for this setting.) This is particularly insane given that the environmental cost of these quasi-disposable 2-year-warranty washing machines must be much higher than the environmental cost of their resource consumption.

I think consumer goods legislation should recognise that different minimum warranty periods are appropriate for different kinds of product. A legally required minimum warranty period of 6 or 8 years for washing machines, for example, would instantly create pressure on manufacturers to increase the longevity and repairability of their machines.

ab5tract 6 days ago 7 replies      
Correct me if I am wrong, but under ISDS rules (a la TPP/TTIP), companies could now sue Sweden for potential lost profits as a result of this legislation, right? (Assuming Sweden is signed onto an ISDS treaty, which it probably is not).
flexie 6 days ago 0 replies      
The rationale behind is sound but the trick is to design the rules so that all gains aren't lost in the cost for administering the rules. Differentiated VAT and/or deductions are notoriously expensive and prone for cheating.

It is very difficult/expensive to check if a service provided was the repair of an existing item or a new item installed (or something else entirely).

hammock 5 days ago 0 replies      
So the opposite of Cash for Clunkers.[1] Would a Keynesian then expect these tax breaks to crash the economy?


berntb 6 days ago 1 reply      
This has probably more to do with Sweden having so high taxes on labour that repairs becomes impossible without a tax break.

An average Swede gets ~ a third of the money the company pays for his wages. (30% tax, 30% in social charges etc.)

If he is going to rent an hour from someone with the same salary as himself/herself, that will be three times the hourly salary. (I'll ignore the other costs here.)

So, in sum, because of the taxes etc, a Swede have to work [at least] a full day to buy an hour of work time.

(Reservation for the exact numbers. It was a while since I lived in Sweden. People might keep 40% or so now, but I also ignored a lot of extra costs.)

ap22213 6 days ago 0 replies      
What is it about Nordic countries that allows them to avoid corruption and political decay? As an outsider, it seems that they're always experimenting with new approaches and evolving the government and laws to keep up with the changing needs of the citizenry.

In the US, I felt like we were starting to get somewhere back in the 90s, but it's been a downward fall since then. Now, corruption permeates even at the local levels. Many of the people that I talk to blame the lack of time. I don't know - but there's major apathy and cynicism, and it seems to be getting worse.

PaulHoule 6 days ago 0 replies      
Odd that appliances are on the list because we're likely to see another wave of changes for refrigerants.

Back in the bad old days people used refrigerants such as HCFCs that were bad for the ozone layer. Now they use straight HFCs (no chlorine) but those are potent global warming gases. At some point there is going to a push to replace those with fluoroketones.

So repairing old air conditioners, refrigerators and such may not be such a great idea.

dvtv75 5 days ago 0 replies      
At this time, I am fighting with a Samsung Syncmaster 2333SW Plus. It started fading to white every time blue was displayed, then it would overflow back to a normal image and fade to white.

I'm told this is a fault in the t-con (timing controller) board - some people have noted it's just a bad solder connection, so I'm going to have a look before I replace the board.

I have a donor screen that I got apart (the 2333HD) in about four hours, but the 2333SW Plus... I've been trying for at least 12 hours to get that thing apart. (I've sanitized this post.) The sides of the casing are free, but the top and bottom edges just won't let go, and I can't afford to break the internal clips.

I honestly can't decide between RageGuy and Samir's rage at the printer not printing properly.

jwatte 5 days ago 0 replies      
One side effect of building for repairability is that objects will be bigger and clunkier, which will use more materials and cost more (and burn more fuel) to transport.

I'm all for repairability, and even better, building things that will last 25 years, not 25 months. But that will come at a different price than perhaps many expect, and in some cases, it actually won't make sense.

Money is how we measure and gate access to scarce resources. If it costs more to build repairable items, and then repair them, then it is likely the case that those repairs actually waste more resources! However, insofaras the resource being wasted is human work time, there is of course a trade-off to be made.

thght 6 days ago 0 replies      
Heaps of old stuff is broken because of planned obsolescence. Is it not a waste trying to repair that rubbish that was originally designed to break soon and hard and expensive to repair? Lowering tax for companies that produce sustainable products seems more efficient to me.
Pica_soO 5 days ago 0 replies      
If a company made a extremely enduring and time-resistant valuable product, wouldn't it make more sense for the company to lease the product out to the customers - and for the state to support this model by making it tax-free after a time?
maerF0x0 5 days ago 0 replies      
IMO the only reason we do not have a culture of repairing is because we subsidize the waste processing stream and thus we only see lower upfront costs.

If I had to pay an extra $25 disposal fee upfront on a microwave, maybe I'd be incentivized to buy a quality item or maybe repair it in the first place.

As well, repairing/reusing is a function of average cost of a worker. If a repair man has a fully loaded cost of $50 an hour, then you're not going to see many repairs happen. If its $5 an hour then you might see more. Expensive labor leads to all kinds of seemingly insane behavior.

bgammon 5 days ago 1 reply      
Impermanence could be considered a value in certain cultures. "Disposable Culture" vs. "Repairing Old Stuff" isn't a useful dichotomy. Everything has an expiration date, and often that date is carefully considered as part of a product's design. The goal shouldn't be fixing old stuff, but finding out how to increase efficiency either by making product's expiration dates further in the future, or compromising having an imminent expiration date by making the product easy to recycle.
grizzles 5 days ago 0 replies      
To truly fix the situation would probably require:1) Tracking every single saleable physical asset2) Paying manufacturer's a small fixed income type subsidy for every extra year their product lasts.3) Charging manufacturer's a small penalty tax when their product becomes waste.

#2 is essential because otherwise manufacturing obsolescence into the product will be more profitable for the company. The economic reward of long lasting product & enduring customer relationship needs to be better than sell one every few years.

kwhitefoot 4 days ago 0 replies      
Never mind repairing old stuff; just make it easier to pass on stuff. I suspect that Sweden is similar to Norway (where I live) and immense amounts of current electronic gear is thrown away. A lot of it is in usable condition (for some value of usable anyway) but I am not allowed to take it away from a recycling station.
barisser 6 days ago 0 replies      
Should the state really presume to sway cultural trends? It seems strikingly arrogant and likely to be counterproductive.
a-no-n 5 days ago 0 replies      
My MagSafe adapter has probably 5 packets of Sugru, both preventative (anti-drop and strain-relief) and repairs, on it and some two-part epoxy to fix some minor nicks in the small cable. The one of the cable winding "wings" just broke, but it still works. I might buy a second in 2018.
yig 5 days ago 1 reply      
Repairs are uneconomical because they have to compete with the assembly line. Assembly lines are an incredibly productive way to make identical things. Repairs are typically different. Like Tolstoy said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Gravityloss 5 days ago 0 replies      
Basic income + no minimum wage would make it much more attractive to do local repairs instead of manufacturing stuff far away where wages are lower or labor and environmental regulation much more lax.

In my country, youth unemployment is around 20%.

mhb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reducing a 25% tax on repairs is seen as an insightful and brilliant way to incentivize repairs? Well knock me over with a feather. Where is the previous article about how that level of tax is crazy to begin with?
rumcajz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative approach: Require people keep everything they buy for 10 years. They'll be quickly fed up with their houses full of old broken gadgets, cardboard boxes and used wrapping foil.
macandcheese 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Own few but good things" - love everything about this as it relates to living "modestly minimal" as I call it. Buy a small amount of high quality possessions, and take care of them.
iamgopal 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think ideal way is to charge people for dumping the waste, and use that money to properly recycle all the material therein. May not be ideal in terms of energy efficiency, but its highly workable solution.
titzer 6 days ago 2 replies      
Wouldn't a high sales tax promote exactly that?
Dowwie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I guess they'd need to explicitly de-classify commonly repaired items from this?
sjg007 5 days ago 0 replies      
Funny... I tried to fix an IKEA lamp and finding parts was impossible.
Pigo 6 days ago 2 replies      
Could a company hypothetically create an extremely solid phone with interchangeable parts when upgrades become available, and it's not done just because they profit more with the current model? Or is this just not feasible?
CPLX 6 days ago 4 replies      
I was happy to see that the author did pause to note the irony of this policy being implemented by the same country that brought the world IKEA.
Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft Create Partnership on AI techcrunch.com
571 points by monsieurpng  3 days ago   247 comments top 32
thr0waway1239 3 days ago 7 replies      
I was starting to get worried about the data collection already happening individually at these big companies. Now that they have announced a partnership which potentially combines all this data together, I feel so much better!

The funny thing is, the companies are ALWAYS going to put a positive spin on this. Not very different from the WhatsApp "we won't show ads, ever" messaging. Now I am in the camp which says "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". Almost none of these companies can be trusted at this point. [1] Their refusal to ask OpenAI to be at the table really does not reflect well on them [2]. And the less said about the tenured professors who are now becoming company mouthpieces saying things like "we create products which cannot make profit but which is meant purely for data collection" the better [3]. And lastly, if these companies had such a sincere desire to "improve AI for the sake of humanity", how about they start by letting OpenAI (or a similar company) do a data audit of all the information they share so that we can actually be certain it is not just a data brokerage masquerading as a public service?

I wanted to say that I wish the AI community will boycott this effort completely. I find it a bit worrying that this community now resides almost entirely within the walls of corporate America.

[1] Interestingly, the only company which is even making noises about user privacy is Apple. Is it possible they saw something in this partnership that they didn't like?

[2] https://twitter.com/OpenAI/status/781243032582578177

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12428883

gavman 3 days ago 10 replies      
>>"As of todays launch, companies like Apple, Twitter, Intel and Baidu are missing from the group. Though Apple is said to be enthusiastic about the project, their absence is still notable because the company has fallen behind in artificial intelligence when compared to its rivals many of which are part of this new group."

It seems Apple's lack of engagement in the community [1] is really starting to hurt it. Did anyone else take away from this that the other big players are not including them at the table/considering them real competition?

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-29/apple-s-se...

tmalsburg2 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's the purpose of this initiative? Sharing technology? Hardly. The goal is probably to shape the discourse on AI and its implications on society and the individual in a way that's favorable for these companies. In other words, they will try to preempt, counter, and suppress criticism of their business models, i.e. the AI exploitation of user data in the service of advertisers and others. It's pretty obvious why Apple is not on board. They have previously taken the position that user data should be left alone and therefore pose a threat to Google, Facebook et al. whose financial success is solely built on the extraction of information from users. This has nothing to do with Apple falling behind technologically.
apsec112 3 days ago 3 replies      
Are LeCun, Corrado, etc. actually running this? They're pretty busy, and the website doesn't sound like them:

"We believe that by taking a multi-party stakeholder approach to identifying and addressing challenges and opportunities in an open and inclusive manner, we can have the greatest benefit and positive impact for the users of AI technologies. While the Partnership on AI was founded by five major IT companies, the organization will be overseen and directed by a diverse board that balances members from the founding companies with leaders in academia, policy, law, and representatives from the non-profit sector. By bringing together these different groups, we will also seek to bring open dialogue internationally, bringing parties from around the world to discuss these topics."

This sounds like it was written by some PR person. Google and Facebook are "IT companies"?

ioeu 3 days ago 0 replies      
To quote Pedro Domingos in "The Master Algorithm" [1]:

> But everyone has only a sliver of it [information about you]. Google sees your searches, Amazon your online purchases, AT&T your phone calls, Apple your music downloads, Safeway your groceries, Capital One your credit-card transactions. Companies like Acxiom collate and sell infor- mation about you, but if you inspect it (which in Acxioms case you can, at aboutthedata.com), its not much, and some of it is wrong. No one has anything even approaching a complete picture of you. Thats both good and bad. Good because if someone did, theyd have far too much power. Bad because as long as thats the case there can be no 360-degree model of you. What you really want is a digital you that youre the sole owner of and that others can access only on your terms.

Does this mean that effectively all of Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft will have the whole picture? That makes me worried.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Master-Algorithm-Ultimate-Learning-Ma...

ladzoppelin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Who gives a sh!t that Apple was not at the meeting. I think the main takeaway is that 4-5 companies might control one of the most powerful technologies/ideas of the last 5 years. Its already hard enough competing with these companies how is this good for everybody else?
radicaldreamer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like it's oriented toward lobbying and keeping AI from being regulated.
asimuvPR 3 days ago 0 replies      
The organizational structure has been designed to allow non-corporate groups to have equal leadership side-by-side with large tech companies.

Anybody know more details? As non-corporate entity the opportunity is very interesting due to the potential of having access to their infrastructure. The cost of running AI projects on the cloud is currently prohibitive and am forced to run on performance limited machines.

throwaway6497 3 days ago 1 reply      
As usual Apple is missing. Pleasantly surprised to find Amazon on the list of collaborators. They usually take from open source/communities and rarely give back. This is a good change.
runesoerensen 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's more information on their website: http://www.partnershiponai.org/
meira 3 days ago 1 reply      
> We want to involve people impacted by AI as well, said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder and head of applied AI at DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet.

Who believes that this is to favor users, believes in everything.

jlas 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is OpenAI planning to be a part of this?
GrinningFool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Five companies that collectively have more data on US residents' online behaviours than all the world's governments, working in partnership on AI.

What could possibly go wrong ?

dmead 3 days ago 0 replies      
should read

"Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft Create Partnership on marketing"

antocv 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are working for any of these companies, you should really consider if it is worth it, and possibly stop or switch to more meaningful and less evil endevours.
batman_symbol 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember learning about oligopolies and cartels in high school economics. Pretty sure this is at its core, a form of collusion meant to undermine the competitive spirit of the market. Ethical implications of this strategy are quite dire at best. No one stood up to the robber barons then and likelt no can now.
pron 3 days ago 3 replies      
Calling simple statistical clustering algorithms that are tweaked by lots of trial-and-error heuristics "AI" feels like calling those slow two-wheeled electric self-balancing skateboards "hoverboards". Sometimes marketing can be too dramatic.
keeran 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sad to not see Baidu on there.
newscracker 3 days ago 1 reply      
The moment I saw the headline, I noticed Apple missing from the list, and it felt right! Facebook, Amazon, Google...Microsoft...IBM...all coming together to promote (sell) AI? This sounds like the coming together of the evil powers.

Apple, however successful it may continue to be financially, needs to focus on a wider penetration of its devices and services if there is to be any meaningful dent on the privacy front around the world. Being a market leader in one country (or a few) doesn't help much when billions of people around the world use Android phones where the default is "ask for any permission and it shall be given." For this to change, I believe Apple must go lower on the price front, even if that means lower margins. It also needs to push forward quicker on things that other companies don't consider, like differential privacy, and look for markedly different ways of doing things compared to the personal data hungry parasites like the ones in the title.

acronymftw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hope they do not use that as an acronym.
watchdogs23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that's really sad that they have refuesed to use the OpenAi operating syestem which shows exactly how much the really care about there jobs reflections
ghostbunnies 3 days ago 0 replies      
What could go wrong?
ionwake 3 days ago 1 reply      
Which is the best way to invest in the field of AI ? Can anyone recommend any specific companies / branches ? Thank you.
sidcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would be great if OpenAI joins them.
phodo 3 days ago 8 replies      
At the risk of ad hominem, this is typical techcrunch reporting:

>> "Though Apple is said to be enthusiastic about the project, their absence is still notable because the company has fallen behind in artificial intelligence when compared to its rivals many of whom are part of this new group."

How exactly is it that TC knows that Apple has indeed fallen behind? Are they privy to the Apple ML roadmap? Are they using lack of open source activity as a metric to make this claim? Is there an unidentified source who can objectively measure the ML progress across these organizations, and using this objective metric, conclude that Apple is behind?

It's a claim without much substance, and paints Apple in a negative light. You could say that this is a marketing failure on the part of Apple, and you might be correct. For example, see the article floating a few weeks ago on Medium (I think) on how Apple was embedding ML in everything.

In the days of price performance wars in CPUs (and GPUs), there were more or less objective (err, almost objective) benchmarks that people could point to. This is not the case with ML/DL. It would be great if we could say: "Across image classification, the precision / recall is X, vs. Facebook's Y. Clearly, Apple has more work todo in image classification. But in Machine Translation, Apple is ahead, with metrics A vs. B from Facebook..

What is happening with ML/DL/AI/whatever is that all companies are using the same bag of words to describe what they do, but the popular press is not discerning enough to make heads or tales out of what they report on, and they end up mis-educating the public.


rbc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does all this fuss about AI mean the Lisp machines will come back? ;)
Bud 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh, great. So all the companies that have recently had the most problems with ethics issues and user privacy issues are now collaborating in order to more effectively address those issues? Pardon me if my scoffing is audible.
icantdrive55 3 days ago 2 replies      
1. These companies have been collecting our information for years now. Some have acces to what we write in are emails, but of course, they never read them, they just scan them for marketing purposes?

2. Why do I feel certain people's information has been looked at, scrutinized, cross checked, collated, etc. by certain savvy insiders. Warren buffet, George Sorrows, any of the financial movers and shakers, information is sitting on a server somewhere, unless you're a Clinton. If I had access, I could help but look at it.

Before you made an investment, bought a stock, bought realeste, took over a company; wouldn't you be tempted to peak at some of that information?.

3. I feel certain individual information has been used as research for financial gain.

3. I belive it's basically insider trading without the other guy knowing he/she gave away any information.

4. I believe it will be exposed, and will be the next huge Financial scandal.

5. I believe this move might be a smoke screen. "We know some of us have already abused private information for personal/financial gain. Let's combine the data. It might put some reigns on what we all know some of our insiders have been doing. Let the people think we are doing this to better society.

6. I don't have any evidence, I just have a hard time believing no one is looking at juicy date pouring in from some high profile people.

7. I believe it will be on the front page of Forbes in less than a year.

bitJericho 3 days ago 1 reply      
Tc needs to be banned on hn
smoyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like an alienate means for Skynet to become sentient.
cheriot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple wants to be on the right side of the anti-trust lawsuit this time. /s
andrewclunn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, which AI are they talking about? The term can mean various things. I mean if this were merely heuristic neural networks, one would think that Tesla would be included.
Leaflet 1.0 A JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps leafletjs.com
626 points by freyfogle  5 days ago   99 comments top 32
chickenfries 5 days ago 4 replies      
Leaflet is a great library, I never would've guessed that they hadn't reached 1.0 given the completeness (for my use case anyway) of the library, quality of documentation and it's ubiquity.

It might not be build on the latest reactive, functional style but I think it's one of most useful javascript libraries I've used.

diegocerdan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Some years ago I created Mapturbate using the Leaflet and the Chaturbate webcam feed. Definitely NSFW.


alexbanks 4 days ago 4 replies      
Leaflet is great, but I would steer clear of any library that attempts to wrap it to work with a different API (aka Angular-Leaflet). Several weeks of my life were spent trying to get our Angular app to play nice with Angular-Leaflet, and we ultimately decided Angular-Leaflet was too much of a mess to keep around.
dopeboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just used Leaflet for a client project - works great. I'm using the Mapbox tiling layer and it is a lot lighter & less cluttered than Google maps.

For the React crowd, check out react-leaflet:


amyjess 5 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Leaflet for putting "an open-source JavaScript libraryfor mobile-friendly interactive maps" right there at the top of the page. So many projects that get release announcements here don't even mention what they do in the linked article, and you've got it right on top, and it's nice to see a project doing the right thing.
oever 4 days ago 0 replies      
A fascinating use of Leaflet is in LibreOffice Online. LOO uses Leaflet to load pixmaps of the document on demand.


Waterluvian 5 days ago 1 reply      
Leaflet is fantastic. Once my project got really big, I moved to OpenLayers and havent looked back. But I would start a smaller project using leaflet again. Very approachable library.
jflowers45 5 days ago 3 replies      
Is Mapbox moving away from Leaflet as they develop Mapbox GL?
nachtigall 5 days ago 3 replies      
Congrats. As a longterm and happy OpenLayers user (version 3), what are the main advantages of Leaflet over OpenLayers?
weka 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've used Leaflet in the past with superb results. [1] It truly is an amazing library. People have never had an issue with my map. I agree with chickenfries's comment. Leaflet has won that that niche silently with its A+ in every important facet they've tackled.

[1] http://rsmap.net

derwildemomo 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just recently I had to choose between Google's map offerings and Leaflet.

Performance wise, Leaflet is an order of magnitude faster when it comes to frequent bounds/location updates, speaking for itself. Great work!

vcarl 5 days ago 3 replies      
My only complaint with Leaflet is that they haven't done anything to support older versions. At an old workplace, we were stuck on an older version for a while due to incompatibilities, and having never used Leaflet before I needed to see how to use the specific version we were on.

I ended up having to clone the repo where the docs were, checkout the commit released for that version and build the docs myself. Maybe I'm spoiled by react-router's phenomenal handling of outdated docs, but it was a pretty terrible experience.

qwertyuiop924 4 days ago 0 replies      
Leaflet is fantastic. I was going to use it for a project, but then I didn't do the project, so I haven't had a need for it yet, but the system is incredibly approachable and friendly.

If you're wondering what the project was: I was trying to integrate a Pokemon Gen 2 (G/S/C)-style battle system into a Go style map. Why? because I really wish that Pokemon Go was less disapointing, and G/S/C was a nice middle ground between interesting and incredibly difficult to implement.

sccxy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great news!

But upgrading all my maps to Leaflet 1.0 will take more time, because lots of broken plugins need to be fixed or replaced.

One of my maps for local realtime weather observation for sailing/surfing: http://gis.ee/meri/

For that map Leaflet is perfect, because its lightweight, fast, mobile friendly.

Achorny 4 days ago 0 replies      
Haven't used leaflet in just over a year - is it still limited to north-up only? Because I find it difficult to describe any map library as "mobile-friendly" if you can't rotate it to match the direction you're facing.
ghull95 4 days ago 0 replies      
Leaflet is amazing. The documentation is very straightforward and Leaflet makes it easy to produce high-quality maps in a short period of time.

I was doing most of my mapping work in R, but needed something interactive to use for a website and am very pleased with Leaflet so far. If you're interested in mapping I'd definitely try it out (interesting datasets would be city crime data and humanitarian data from here: https://data.humdata.org/).

iandanforth 3 days ago 0 replies      
We recently decided to move away from leaflet for our indoor mapping component. There are some things that we discovered that leaflet is not good for:

1. Drawing annotations

There are plugin options but Leaflet editable is quite buggy and convoluted, and leaflet draw is still on 0.7 and we couldn't wait for their 1.0 upgrade.

2. Large image overlays

There is an awkward space between an image that the browser should be able to handle even if it's quite large, and one that requires tiling. We fell into that space and there are some seriously nasty bugs in Chrome when imgs are huge. Since leaflet just uses an <img> tag for overlays this was a killer.

3. Lack of map rotation

There is a fork that implements rotation, but we couldn't rely on that to stay up to date with mainline.

Overall I still really like leaflet and would use it in a heartbeat for any more normal mapping application.

Kiro 4 days ago 1 reply      
So can I use this for the map in my game or should I look at something else?

EDIT: Looks like I can: http://leafletjs.com/examples/crs-simple/crs-simple.html

Is Leaflet the best option for this though? I just want to show an interactive map on the web of a really big PNG I have (much bigger than the one in that example).

honkhonkpants 4 days ago 1 reply      
This makes interesting claims about performance but doesn't describe them. Are they all based on client-side javascript and graphics efficiency? I ask because it seems to me that the most important thing in map client performance is the ability of the tile server to quickly and consistently deliver tiles. Especially important is the tail latency. To experience this for yourself go to the Leaflet preview page[1] and change the base layer provider. It will be several seconds before all the tiles are drawn, even for several identical tiles in the middle of the ocean. Most of the tiles arrive in the first second but out of a hundred tiles on the screen there are the inevitable stragglers. And sometimes it just doesn't serve at all[2].

1: http://leaflet-extras.github.io/leaflet-providers/preview/2: http://pasteboard.co/8bnyEPXGC.png

jasongrout 4 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! Congratulations!

FYI, if you are trying to use this with Webpack and Webpack's css-loader, you'll probably run into the problem noted at https://github.com/Leaflet/Leaflet/issues/4849.

mck- 4 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome. The one thing that is missing in the open source mapping community is a good geocoder.

Once we have that, adoption will come in waves. At the moment, nothing beats Google Maps, and their terms require you to use their maps.

netcraft 5 days ago 1 reply      
somewhat tangental to the topic, but are there any examples of applications using a flat mapping like this or google maps or openstreetmap that allow an avatar to explore it like you would a game - not jumping around but linearly, with control of speed? I've got an idea but I can't come up with a good way to control the movement that seems intuitive and easy. Clicking with a mouse on your desired destination and progressively routing would work, but curious if someone else is already doing something similar.
Mchl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's my simple project utilizing leaflet (1.0-RC1 actually) to display a procedurally generated infinite heightmap.


There's a link to a demo, but the machine it's running on is not really powerful, so expect poor experience. You'll do a lot better downloading and running the code on your own.

voltagex_ 4 days ago 1 reply      
Glad to see Leaflet is still being developed. AFAICT, the main developer was MapBox, who's now using a WebGL based stack instead of Leaflet [1].

1: https://www.mapbox.com/gallery/

accraze 3 days ago 0 replies      
Leaflet is incredible, I've had to switch to using google maps for my last few gigs, but I still haven't found any other libraries that are as painless for mobile as Leaflet can be.
mgalka 4 days ago 1 reply      
- New L.Tooltip class for all your dynamic labeling needs.

- Flyover animations (zooming and panning in a curve with map.flyTo).

- Fractional zoom level support (map.setZoom(12.34)).

- Much better tile loading algorithm with less flickering.

Seems like a lot of features come straight from Mapbox GL

robot 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is one of the best things engineered I have seen for a long time.
XCSme 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yay, I'm mostly excited about this: "Much better tile loading algorithm with less flickering" as it means it's much more suitable for games now.
rburhum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't say enough great things about Leaflet. I have been using it for years as a lightweight replacement of OpenLayers.
dboreham 4 days ago 0 replies      
We used it on an analytic dashboard project: so far so good -- overall positive experience.
nodesocket 4 days ago 2 replies      
Can you really have @ in urls? This is the first time I've seen this.

Their JS file url:https://unpkg.com/leaflet@1.0.0-rc.3/dist/leaflet.js

jbhatab 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is mapbox going to work immediately with leaflet 1.0?
Bike manufacturer sees huge reduction in delivery damage by printing TV on box medium.com
568 points by Someone  7 days ago   229 comments top 32
charlieegan3 7 days ago 2 replies      
Related: https://www.atheistberlin.com/study - Shoe company finds relationship between lost packages and package branding.
GigabyteCoin 7 days ago 3 replies      
Popular Mechanics found different results when they did a similar study [0].

>"One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked "Fragile" or "This Side Up." The carriers flipped the package more, and it registered above-average acceleration spikes during trips for which we requested careful treatment."

[0] http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/reviews/a6284/whi...

analog31 7 days ago 4 replies      
I should paint a TV on myself for when I'm riding my bike in traffic.
aluhut 7 days ago 9 replies      
It seems like people who are responsible don't care anymore. Maybe it's the wages, the pressure or whatever. It looks like it's about time to replace even more humans from the equation.
delinka 7 days ago 2 replies      
For Science: Let's see if LG's willing to have some TV boxes printed with bicycles...
has2k1 7 days ago 1 reply      
This is analogous to Batesian mimicry [1].

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

WalterBright 7 days ago 3 replies      
Unfortunately, the boy who cried wolf will apply if this is more widely adopted, and then pity the poor folks who order TVs.
massysett 7 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the number of stolen boxes (either while in shipment or when left on porches) went up?
userbinator 7 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder what sort of damage these bikes are receiving, because they're designed to be ridden by a person... a TV is definitely far more fragile.
Darthy 7 days ago 3 replies      
I see a possible solution here using technology:

Senders should add a small $1 "black box" recording acceleration data, and shipping companies should be able to query for a certain package and a certain timestamp, which employee was accountable at that moment.

Then when you receive a broken package, the black box tells you the timestamp when it was thrown to the ground, you tell that to the shipping company, which then finds the employee at fault and gives him/her a warning/sacks him/her.

xir78 7 days ago 1 reply      
Boeing puts a picture of a Lamborghini on their first class seats while in the factory in Evert to covey the cost of them -- amazingly they do cost about as much as one too.
hanoz 7 days ago 2 replies      
Printing wolf on the box would see them some careful handling too, for a while...
satysin 7 days ago 1 reply      
Wonderful (part) solution. I love things like this that tap into the mind so subtly.
losteverything 7 days ago 0 replies      
The "never get damaged" parcels are the live chicks we deliver (and the return empty).

If someone told me they improved shipping damage by a simple outside change that much I would say the have poor parcel design and strength to begin with.

Daily I see idiotic mailers with improper packaging. Examples diapers normally on a grocery shelf with open space on the underside (Amazon is famous for this) that are exposed

Liquids that spill over other unprotected parcels and slugs.

LPs with soft cardboard.

Anything sent from an Etsy source. It's a serious joke.

The article claim is very questionable in my mind from my perspective. Even the worst package gets through unscathed. I deliver coconuts from Hawaii with only a stamp and Sharpie address.

The greatest factor in the proper safe arrival of a parcel is NOT the delivery BUT THE PACKING. Take that to the bank.

jaimebuelta 7 days ago 0 replies      
The details of shipping are quite interesting. Martin Guitars (a well know brand) removes absolutely every reference to their brand or the fact that they are guitars or musical instruments in the external packaging, while keeping an internal box with their logo, etc... a box within a box

They started doing so after having issues with "disappearing" guitars in transit (though probably at the moment with all the new tracking systems this is more complicated nowadays)

Their packaging is also quite protective, as you can imagine with a musical instrument...

0xmohit 7 days ago 0 replies      

Now I hope that some car manufacturers would introduce new models that look like a TV thereby resulting in fewer accidents and lost lives.

younghak 6 days ago 0 replies      
In Korea, the magic phrase is 'contains kimchi' and you are guaranteed of safe delivery. All hell break loose when kimchi leaks; boxes get wet and smelly, kimchi stains don't come off easy so delivery people take extra measures to prevent it.
kylehotchkiss 7 days ago 1 reply      
When I ordered my bike from UK (Evans cycles is awesome), it shipped via DHL. They're pretty high on the meh scale. The box had double corregated cardboard and the bike was packed for war. I'm sure it wasn't handled gently. That seems like the expectation with shipping. Super cool this hack is! Maybe one day they'll try a picture of a glass chandailer too.

This all said, 90% of the boxes I get from Amazon via UPS are in perfect condition - it's remarkable how well they handle small packages.

There's a national geographic show called "ultimate factories" that has an episode called "ups worldport". Super fascinating. I recommend it!

lttlrck 6 days ago 0 replies      
Bikes are not packed particular well. The top and bottom staples pull out quite easily and could pop out under reasonable twisting. They really should be strapped.

I bought a bike from Jet and it arrived damaged, the box popped open, parts had fallen out. Returned that (trouble free which was nice) and ordered another from Amazon instead.

Amazon have a checkbox to have large deliveries that would normally not be in an Amazon branded box placed in one at no extra cost. Checked that box knowing it would act as sacrificial outer layer.

backtoyoujim 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have a conspiracy theory that the entire delivery infrastructure in the US (all the u's, p's s's, and f's) have been infiltrated by Scientology/Chucky Cheeze.

I'm still fine tuning it.

Nanite 7 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty decent piece of stealth marketing! Catchy blog posting about a fragile goods shipping hack, raises brand awareness for a company, it's products and its mission.
williwu 7 days ago 0 replies      
Genius idea. Similar idea applies for iPhone's anonymous shipping packaging and plain envelope for credit cards -> reduce theft.
slovette 7 days ago 1 reply      
This does not surprise me. To inflict change, you don't need to control the person, you just need to control their perception of reality.
logicallee 7 days ago 2 replies      
True, but they could reduce damage even more by putting a picture of a stained glass window and giant letters "HIGHLY FRAGILE DELICATE STAINED GLASS WINDOW! HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE!!" on it. That would certainly reduce damages further.

The problem is that it isn't one (a TV). Why would someone feel mortified if they accidentally drop a packaged bicycle from 2-3 feet (typical carrying height) when a fully assembled bike can be dropped from 2-3 feet, and this is packaged, so it should be even safer. On the other hand no one would feel free to drop a packaged LCD TV from even half a foot because people know it includes a giant pane of essentially glass, and they know that there are limits to what packaging can do.

So, yeah, by failing to meet expectations when it comes to packaging a bicycle, they can reduce damages by writing on it that it's a TV instead. All right.

But isn't this still them not meeting expectations exactly? If they write on it that it's a delicate stained-glass window, that would still be not meeting expectations. If the handler is the one with unreasonable expectations or behavior (if 2-3 feet isn't a reasonable drop height and should be considered a failure), then maybe educate the handler with some writing or warnings on the packaging.

isn't the real issue here that handler's expectations of bike packaging does not meet bike packaging's characteristics? so, you could tackle it head-one by writing care instructions.

alternatively, the article says only 70-80% reduction in damages was achieved. Maybe by lying and saying it is delicate stained-glass, handle with extreme care, they could up that to 95% reducted. I guess I've just saved them 15% of their former damages (even higher percentage of their remaining damages) with this one neat trick.

kalefranz 7 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me smile inside. Hacking at it's best.
kardashian007 7 days ago 0 replies      
Handwritten address, "Do the right thing" and "family sentimental heirlooms" might also work.
gnipgnip 7 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this works when flying :P
santoshalper 7 days ago 0 replies      
What a great idea, but this really feels like the kind of thing they should have kept quiet about.
seesomesense 7 days ago 0 replies      
Time to replace the humans in the logistics chain with robots.
orblivion 7 days ago 3 replies      
Clever, but seems ethically questionable.

Why do the shippers care about breaking a TV? Presumably there are repercussions, such as an insurance plan. So why don't those repercussions just apply to bicycles? If they're fined for enough bikes being broken, they should probably learn that they need be more careful than they thought, right?

EDIT: Toning down my choice of words.

Theodores 7 days ago 1 reply      
Most things arrive fully assembled. With that TV you just plug it in and that is it. You don't have to adjust the HDMI sockets with a screwdriver or double check the earth lead is correctly bolted on. You don't have to get a spanner out to adjust that five degree tilt to one side in the base.

But with a bicycle, it is an entirely different story. The seat is not centered on the rails, nice and level. Much has to be assembled and that is understandable, however, the brakes and the gears rarely work as well as Shimano intended. The bike is part assembled and the consumer is left to do the rest. Rarely is the finished result as polished as the fit and finish that the TV arrives with.

If a bicycle manufacturer jost got that final assembly together so that only seat height adjustment was needed with nothing else needing a double check, then they might be able to sell to the end customer properly. As it is there is no quality in the final delivery, bikes sent to the customer will be far from expertly 'tuned'.

90 Cents of Every 'Pay-For-Performance' Dollar for CEOs Are Paid for Luck harvard.edu
500 points by ikeboy  2 days ago   281 comments top 30
woopwoop 1 day ago 11 replies      
I remember an interesting theory about golden parachutes in Steven Landsburg's "The Armchair Economist". In a typical publicly traded company, the CEO is actually much more heavily invested in the company than the shareholders. His salary, and probably the major part of his assets, are dependent on the performance of the company. On the other hand, the average share holder is well diversified. Therefore, a CEO will be incentivized to pursue a highly conservative strategy, while the shareholders may wish that he takes more risk. To offset this, the shareholders may make it known that a generous severance package, as well as generous benefits if the company does exceptionally well, are on the table, to simultaneously soften the blow if he takes a bad risk, and sweeten the deal if he takes a good risk.

In other words, the point of executive compensation may not be to produce better results on average, but rather to increase the variance of the results.

mpdehaan2 2 days ago 24 replies      
Excellent points in this article - another factor is they are often paid outrageous base salaries (plus options) for the success of a company, when the success of that company can often be in spite of the CEO, coming from within, and embodied equally by all of the collective employees.

Executive comp is a major racket, enforced by the standard that this is "what the market average is". Which is set by executives overpaying themselves.

Ask yourself if your CEO is really working 100x as hard as you, or 100x smarter than you. The answer is usually a definite no. I'd really like to see more fair pay in this area and a culture that treats contributions of all employees more equally.

ransom1538 1 day ago 6 replies      
From my years of startup experience: luck determines basically everything. What company you end up picking, what team you get placed on, how your interviews goes (remember merge sort)?, what problems you need to work on, who your boss is... even if your company survives. Your entire company can lose funding because of an argument on a golf course or Apple TOS change (sigh). At larger companies what team you are on is well.. everything. How were you picked for that team? Because the boss of the other department was on holiday that day.

I smile when I hear people actually think they can control their own luck. That is how religion started. Whatever makes you happy.

"I am going to pick my OWN boss, I am going to join the start up I want to join with MY purpose." No, you will pick the boss from a super small subset that has a position open and you are going to find a company that needs you 'currently'.

Who gets promoted? Generally, lucky loud people. Who makes sales quota? People given the best accounts (luck). Who goes IPO? People that bumped into an untapped market.

Do what you want. People's evaluation of you is just based on luck.

jbb555 2 days ago 3 replies      
Bonuses are not to be considered to be pay for performance.

They are to be considered as a part of pay that can be withdrawn if either the company does badly and can't afford it, or if the employee does visibly badly.

They are a good thing for the company because they can decide not to pay it, except in as much as they allow the company to pay more because they can withdraw it if necessary

AndrewKemendo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think it's possible to reliably link pay to performance for anything other than measurable immediate production - like manual labor. Forget reliably doing it for executives. The reason is, because long term price impacts of individual performance are not knowable, so they cannot be priced effectively.

The executive compensation system right now is built on social proof and positioning, not on auditable causal decision chains. Too many dependencies to make causal connections.

johnhess 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this very honest appraisal of how pay-for-performance incentives ought to work, and I wish more companies would step back and ask themselves if their "traditional" incentive structures have the motivational factor they're "traditionally" assumed to have.

While startup performance is less correlated to market performance than an established firm, the concept of setting the bar as outperforming the industry/market is brilliant, and I wonder if there's a good analog in the startup space, particularly for employees.

Bonuses and stock options are all well and good, but they incentivize the firm's survival and success. A single employee may be unable to change that, even if they perform exceptionally. Those incentives are great for "share the wealth" and "all for one, one for all" camaraderie, but they don't incentivize individual performance.

Tharre 1 day ago 0 replies      
As much as I'd like to believe that CEOs are basically payed for chance, this research is deeply flawed. As in, it's literally trying to measure the (practically) immeasurable.

More specifically, it's this assumption:

> We model the impact of a manager on her firms performance by assuming that a manager who exerts effort and manifests her talent increase the firms expected return by the magnitude of her talent.

that is simply not true. The performance of every CEO is amplified by the amount of people he's affecting. And that is made even worse by the fact that companies are competing against each other, meaning that usually it's not their total performance that matters, but the difference to the next best company. You end up with so much noise in your data that yes, the result looks random. But is it? We don't know.

The only accurate measure of performance (that we know of) is performance itself.

neximo64 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or you know, 'luck' is just what couldn't be mathematically described in the model, attributing it to randomness.
pitchups 1 day ago 0 replies      
A while back I came to the following conclusion : "We often attribute our success to our skills and talent and failure to luck - while quite often it is the other way around." :)
pierrebai 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I've met very few good plumbers, it takes a special person of talent to be a great plumber."

"I've met very few good truck drivers, it takes a special person of talent to be a great truck drivers."


There is a whole premise in many post about this story that it's somehow a very rare thing to be able to run a company well and that the person filling the role of the CEO is the main driving factor of success. (Instead of economic factors, outside forces, performance of other employees... oh! I know! The other employees performs solely because the great CEO makes them do so.) I think there's a lot of egotism being expressed in this thread...

(Especially by VCs who basically say they're impervious to misjudging someone's abilities and its true influence on success.)

hbt 1 day ago 2 replies      
On a related note, is there any successful pay for performance scheme for engineers?

Pay-per-performance is well established in sales and marketing. Even when the sales/marketing strategy requires a large team to implement, the spoils go to the top.

It seems the only time engineers get properly compensated for the value they create is when it is so obvious and the owners can't get away with stiffing them.

Startups are well known for stiffing engineers because the teams are small, there are no repercussions and the founders don't have much of reputation to begin with.It's harder in bigger companies since it sends the wrong message to others in the company and destroys your reputation.

Maybe there is no such thing as fair compensation. Just get leverage and negotiate or obtain a position of power (authority) within the company.

milesskorpen 1 day ago 0 replies      
They found a way of structuring bonuses that works nearly twice as well too bad it was a bit buried in the summary: "Indexing the option, and setting the strike price much higher than the granting-day price almost doubles the options motivational power"
calinet6 1 day ago 0 replies      
True at all levels; statistics are rarely taken into account in _any_ performance review or measurement process. It is always assumed that the individual is responsible for his or her own performance. However, the opposite is largely true: the system and environment the person is in accounts for a disproportionate level of the end result.

It's an uncomfortable truth because it mucks with our sense of free will and control, but it is a well known phenomenon (attribution bias) with countless examples. This CEO incentive pay version is simply the most extreme.

gravypod 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this video, by Louis Rossmann, is very important to this discussion.


I don't think you can ever accurately account for what is "luck" and that it is actually harmful to our own abilities to call something luck and write off whatever was actually done by the CEO. I think this is a good watch and I look forward to hearing what others think about the video.

smallnamespace 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's well worth it to remember than equity is just a call option on the value of the firm.

Therefore, it's often in the equity-holder's interest to do two things:

1. increase the volatility of the underlier (by making riskier investments, etc.)

2. Re-strike the option to be closer to at-the-money, by loading up with more debt or paying out cash as dividends

Both actions increase the odds that the firm goes bankrupt, but also increases the expected payout to equity holders.

When you increase equity compensation to executives, you basically encourage them to do riskier things.

lefstathiou 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think there is a simple and rationale explanation for this...

I believe founders that step away from the role of CEO seek to put in place someone who prioritizes the business as (close to) as much as they do (ie before family, friends, life etc). The problem is how do you find someone to love (yes love or at least pretend to) the business without them owning a meaningful piece of it (the equity that is)? When granting sixeable equity is not an option (most founders I know who built successful companies are highly protective of it) the solution is you buy it. Mark Zuckerberg owns 30% of Facebook. The professional CEO that one day replaces him will own 0.0000001% of it. That's not very motivating for entrepreneurial CEO types who are ideal for these roles. Mark isn't going to go to sleep easy at night unless he knows the person running the show eats sleeps and breathes Facebook the way he has for the last 30 years. That person is buying his dream, he's buying their loyalty and commitment (and great judgment, etc etc).

gnicholas 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article seems to assume that CEOs are believe that they have very little impact on a company's success, and that they calculate how much effort to exert accordingly.

My understanding is that CEOs tend toward hubris and that this assumption is false in most cases. If so, then it might be more efficient to up the strike price, but the current situation isn't as inefficient as it seems (thanks to hubris).

Relatedly, if CEOs were granted deeply-underwater options, wouldn't they demand much more in base pay, to compensate? I'm not saying they "deserve" higher base payjust that if a board wanted to institute this change, they'd get push back from the individual. Otherwise it would look like a disguised pay cut (imagine if your boss came to you and said that to incentivize employees to work harder, all options were going to be issued underwater).

jernfrost 1 day ago 0 replies      
Michael B. Dorff wrote a book about this called "Indispensable and Other Myths": http://blog.translusion.com/posts/CEO%20Salaries/

His conclusions were that CEOs don't really matter all that much. Exceptional ones like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs are quite rare.

mcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
People keep talking about "shareholders" in the comments here. Where, exactly, do shareholders come into the picture?

C*O compensation is set by the board of directors. The board is determined by the executives' recommendations. The only shareholder who matters is Carl Icahn; the only power most shareholders have is to sell shares. And I'd be willing to bet something that their willingness to do that is only related to short term performance.

chatmasta 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does overpaying the top executives of a company, regardless of performance, increase motivation of all the other employees of the company? After all, the underlines want to become the CEO one day. The higher the reward for the CEO, the more tantalizing the carrot dangled in front of his underlings.
musgrove 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure how one would control for "luck" in a (legitimate) academic study. The definition of it is broad, to say the least.
simon_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Analyses on this topic are always so bad. Some counterpoints:

(1) CEOs are intentionally aligned with shareholders, for good reason. Shareholders often make money due to luck, so eliminating luck from CEO compensation without breaking alignment is a very hard problem.

(2) Going in, a CEO (or a shareholder) needs to lock down a big future payday in the upside case, in order to compensate them for the risk of the downside case. Yes, the upside case usually involves some luck, but the "optionality" to get paid in a lucky outcome is a valuable part of the deal.

(3) CEOs are also paid to be trustworthy agents for shareholders/boards. Like... if I am a billionaire looking for you to oversee a big part of my capital, I may pay a lot just because I know you are a good/smart/reasonable person who will be autonomous but raise the right issues to me if needed, reliably. I might know all that just because we have been buddies for years, and even though there are lots of objectively more talented people out there who would do the job for less, paying you more would not be irrational for me.

JamesBarney 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this 90% a upper or lower bound?

I mean did they try to measure luck and found that it accounted for 90% of returns?(lower bound because their measure of luck was probably imperfect)

Or did they measure talent and were able to account for 10% of the returns(upper bound).

aisofteng 1 day ago 0 replies      
Replace the definition of T with "the number of unicorns helping" and nothing changes. The author's T does not represent anything tangible or measurable. These conclusions are meaningless in any practical sense.
tmpdude01 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a profound misunderstanding of corporate governance, and the fact that so many people here somehow agree with the assertion that CEOs are paid for luck is astounding.
lutusp 1 day ago 0 replies      
> ... Paid for Luck

I wish academics would have the sense to avoid the word "luck" when "chance" is the principle at work. These people should know better.

jwatte 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now consider that whether you end up born in an industrialized country into circumstances that will let you become a CEO in the first place requires a lot of luck...
draw_down 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a good racket.
whack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please update the headline to reflect the fact that this study is focused purely on CEOs, and stock-price-based-performance. The vast majority of people who are paid-for-performance are not CEOs, and are not graded based on stock-price movements.
hammock 2 days ago 5 replies      
CEOs are primarily paid to bear risk, so this makes perfect sense to me.
PostgreSQL 9.6 Released postgresql.org
549 points by sheff  3 days ago   121 comments top 11
fabian2k 3 days ago 14 replies      
Just from reading the documentation, the full text search features on Postgres already look pretty powerful. And it is encouraging that they are actively being worked on. I'm wondering how this compares to a dedicated search engine like Solr or Elasticsearch.

Are there huge differences in performance, features or search quality? At which scale does using Postgres for full text search still make sense?

snowwolf 3 days ago 2 replies      
Please can the Postgres team put some major focus on completing logical replication [1]. It's the missing piece to making upgrading across major versions painless and quick on large databases so that we can take advantage of all these nice new features. We're on a Heroku's hosted Postgres service so can't install the pglogical extension.

1. http://blog.2ndquadrant.com/why-logical-replication/

ignoramous 3 days ago 9 replies      
A tangential question:

Everyone speaks about InnoDB and how performant and reliable it is... and multiple firms even use it as a KV-store (Uber/Pinterest/AWS) bypassing MySQL entirely. I have never heard much about storage engines in Postgres, why could this be so?

Wikipedia has a (stub) article on InnoDB, but nothing on Postgres' storage engines... just wondering why that is.

malisper 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Index-only scans for partial indexes

This one is huge for my company. Almost every single query of ours could use an index-only scan, but the planner would never choose to perform one because of the weirdness around partial indexes. We expecting a several x speedup once we upgrade to 9.6. All the need to improve now is a way to keep the visibility map up to date without relying on vacuums.

jbkkd 3 days ago 5 replies      
Congratulations to the PostgreSQL Global Development Group on a much-anticipated release.

Curious about this:

> parallelism can speed up big data queries by as much as 32 times faster

Why would it be only 32 times faster? The sky's the limit if there aren't major bottlenecks on the way.

qaq 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on great release. With availability of E7-8800 v4 based servers (up to 192 cores in a single box) PG can cover a huge number of use cases without complicated setups.
mgberlin 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know when this will be available on AWS RDS?
Roboprog 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is it just selection bias from posted links on HN, or has the PostgreSQL team been doing many (feature) releases lately?

Sounds good!

gtrubetskoy 3 days ago 2 replies      
tmaly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am interested in the full text search as well as

Index-only scans for partial indexes

n4nagappan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does Postgres offer search based on tf-idf?
Open Sourcing a Deep Learning Solution for Detecting NSFW Images yahooeng.tumblr.com
437 points by pumpikano  1 day ago   142 comments top 36
brianwawok 1 day ago 9 replies      
So can it be reversed to become the ultimate porn-finding neural network?
bahro 1 day ago 2 replies      
I should update my sexy map finder: http://exclav.es/2016/05/20/sexy-maps/
inlined 1 day ago 3 replies      
Forgive my ignorance of ML but the last bit: "you'll need your own porn to train on" confused me. Does this mean that they're just exposing the rough topology of their neutral net (eg depth) and not the actual weights between nodes? I'm curious to learn from an ML expert how much this actually offers.
wildpeaks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Direct link to Github: https://github.com/yahoo/open_nsfw
zfedoran 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone tried taking the features that are learned at the various layers of a neural net and feeding them into something like this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12612246?

I imagine we would get some really interesting images back...

echelon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can you run deep dream on this? That would be quite fascinating.
NicoJuicy 1 day ago 2 replies      
We are not releasing the training images or other details due to the nature of the data, but instead we open source the output model which can be used for classification by a developer.

I'm guessing the one who had to input the data/images had a fun time at work :p

darklajid 1 day ago 1 reply      
They acknowledge that NSFW (or pornographic) is hard to define, a la 'I recognize it if I see it'.

But looking at the meager 3 sample images I'm confused about the scoring already. Why is the one in the middle scoring the highest?

The question is an honest one. The two rightmost images seem to be interchangeable to me and are ~boring~: People at the beach. Is this network therefor already trained to include the biases of the creators?

eggoa 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if anyone at Yahoo tried using this to "deconvolute" noise into Cronenberg nightmare porn?
TrueDuality 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sit back grab some popcorn. Lets see how long it takes people to start running data backwards to get new original porn.
c3534l 1 day ago 0 replies      
My first thought: would probably be very useful for sites to crack down on inappropriate content.

My second thought: I could probably use this to find porn in unexpected places via a webscraping Python program.

m-i-l 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good to see they've automated this (beyond the initial classification of training data). In the early days of the web, such filters were typically based on manually maintained lists of sites. I actually met someone at a party once whose full-time job was to surf for porn, to maintain the filter for a provider of IT services to schools (he worked for a company now called RM Education). He said it was his ideal job for the first few days, but soon grew tiresome (note that back in those days there wasn't really any extremely objectionable material on the web).
SloopJon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Anyone else see the irony in acknowledging that NFSW is subjective and contextual, but assuming that pornographic images are not?
joshmn 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not a deep learning person whatsoever, but I do have an interesting use case that I won't disclose publicly: Is there a way to build this, and output detections based on the, ugh, object it has detected?


penis 0.94

vagina 0.01

slowmovintarget 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think I'll pass on browsing the the deep dream visualizations for this.
prirun 1 day ago 1 reply      
Aren't there more important problems to work on than worrying about someone looking at naked people? This is just what we need: more effort spent on censoring and controlling people.
zuzun 1 day ago 0 replies      
With access to Flickr and Tumblr it must have been very easy to create a huge training set for such a task.
cvwright 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this post from hackerfactor where he describes his own porn filter based on pHash.


It'd be interesting to see a direct comparison of the two. Off the cuff, I'd expect the deep neural network to be more accurate and better at generalizing, but much more expensive to train.

Dim25 1 day ago 0 replies      
another work in this field: "Adult video content detection using Machine Learning Techniques" PDF: http://colorlab.no/content/download/37238/470343/file/Victor...
johnnyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll bet this would be a good tool for sysadmins or network administrators to run against their network and see what it finds.
patrickaljord 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder what would happen if we stopped firing people for watching NSFW images. I mean bosses look at NSFW images all the time and it sounds like a shallow reason to fire someone.
chadscira 1 day ago 0 replies      

I have been using nude.js to do this ( http://s.codepen.io/icodeforlove/debug/gMrEKV ), which is hit or miss.

askew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the photo of two women on the beach is given a higher NSFW rating than the photo of a man on the beach.
ganwar 1 day ago 1 reply      
To be precise they are only releasing the already trained model. The associated dataset is not being made public.

Thus, it is meant to be for off the shelf use rather than being able to tinker with the network to produce nuanced results.

lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
My first thought was from years ago, when I was pitching open source forensic services to London police (did not get far, bad Salesman that I am)

Cataloging, categorising pornography seized is a nasty job and one that cops across the planet might do better with good common OSS tools.

Hopefully this will help

Joof 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any other fairly basic image recognition problems that people want? I'd be happy to provide as long as a dataset is easy to collect.
CompanionCuube 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone run this NN on the censored Facebook image?
Happpy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could this work on mobile to detect 18+ content in images or video? Or would it be a trained library of 50mb+?
zwindl 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's it! That's what I'm looking for.
KennyCason 1 day ago 0 replies      
I literally just started working on this problem 2 hours ago >_<
matheweis 1 day ago 1 reply      
is this just the network or is it a fully trained model? The TechCrunch article suggests the former but the yahoo post the latter...
cft 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope this is ported to TensorFlow soon!
rasz_pl 1 day ago 0 replies      
oh silly Americans, its just tits
yk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would suggest, that the link should go to Yahoo's blog post


which contains some technical details. (And furthermore, I guess the HN crowd has enough Internet experience to come up with stupid jokes of their own design.)

BinaryIdiot 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Yahoo blog[1] post is far more interesting than this techcrunch "article". Suggest changing URL to the Yahoo Blog please.

[1] https://yahooeng.tumblr.com/post/151148689421/open-sourcing-...

Bud 1 day ago 0 replies      
So this is what Yahoo was up to for the last 10 years, instead of building any sort of security, keeping Yahoo Messenger working properly, or anything else of value? Heckuva job, Yahoo.
WoSign and StartCom: Mozillas proposed conclusion docs.google.com
608 points by aestetix  5 days ago   245 comments top 34
tux3 5 days ago 2 replies      
>We also hope the public can see that when there are allegations of CA wrongdoing, Mozilla is committed to a fair, transparent and thorough investigation of the facts of each case.

I'm very happy to see the way Mozilla handled this incident, both with the process and the conclusion. I have a moderate trust in the CA ecosystem as a whole, but I'm glad to see that overwhelming incompetence, if not outright maliciousness, does have consequences even to big CAs.

At first though the proposed one year timeout can seem a little short given the impressive list of reported issues, but the conditions given for re-acceptance are strict enough that passing could only indicate a radical change in methodology, at which point it would only make good sense to consider a re-inclusion.

In fact if every CA could take a full code security audit and provide complete certificate transparency in the manner proposed, I think we would have reason to feel marginally safer on the Internet.

no_protocol 5 days ago 1 reply      
A clear and detailed report. The conclusion seems both transparent and fair. It would be very difficult for many customers of StartCom/WoSign if they were immediately revoked. Hopefully this news spreads far enough that the reputation of StartCom/WoSign will generally include this information.

I am saving this as a reference in the event I ever need to write a technical report. This style is so much easier to read than a typical "official" report from police, the FBI, or similar organizations.

I don't have any StartCom or WoSign certificates right now, but I did in the past. It was nice to be able to get a certificate that browsers accepted, without needing to pay for it. I'm glad the landscape has changed.

koolba 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like this part at the end:

> In addition, Mozilla will:

> add all of the Macau certificates to OneCRL immediately;

> and no longer accept audits carried out by Ernst & Young (Hong Kong).

If you don't hold the auditors responsible, this will happen again. If you do hold the auditors responsible, you might prevent some of this.

tptacek 5 days ago 8 replies      
Mozilla and Chrome are killing StartCom. This is huge, isn't it? StartCom is one of the more popular CAs.


Additional fun fact: there's a decent-sized subthread on the mailing list in which it's strongly suggested that WoSign is itself quietly owned by Qihoo360, a much larger company --- somewhat like the Symantec of China.

More specifically:


pquerna 5 days ago 2 replies      
While most of the doc focused on StartCom/WoSign, I thought this bit at the end was interesting:

> no longer accept audits carried out by Ernst & Young (Hong Kong).

To reject audits from E&Y.... It makes me wonder about the transparency and trust we put in the auditors as being a key part of CA validation process.

ylere 5 days ago 2 replies      
Well shit. I always liked StarCom because of their approach to charge for verification (with increasing costs for each higher trust level) but not for issuing certs (while still manually checking every cert request, at least for any OV&EV cert in my case). This entire WoSign acquisition is incredibly shady. Shortly after that some of the customer reps had chinese names, service quality declined and we got offered to become an "Intermediate CA" (StartPKI) for 10k$/yr.

What is the best alternative CA that also offers wildcard certificates (preferably with a similar business model)?

Negitivefrags 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not going to defend WoSign/StartCom's shady tactics, but the way the deprecation of SHA1 was performed puts people in a pretty shitty position.

You can't support Windows XP users who use IE anymore with HTTPs.

In the western world, that number is very small. It's around 1% still using XP and most of those people are probably not using IE anymore.

In china though, that number is still >5%, and I got that number personally from the metrics of a game that we just deployed an alpha for in China. I would bet that given the way the alpha test keys were handed out that the amount of Windows XP users in the general population is probably much much higher.

So what is the response if you can't support a significant portion of your user base? Well for a bunch of chinese websites the result is don't use HTTPS at all. We have seen advice that "HTTPS cases problems for users in China so we think it's a bad idea to use it". It's not a good situation.

stonogo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Now that StartSSL is effectively deceased, is there a commercial CA that supports the ACME protocol? Or is the ACME protocol a vanity project unique to Let's Encrypt?

I manage several dozen certificates; I was very pleased when StartSSL offered an automated API to work with. Despite their flaws, they offered EV certs, wildcards, and automated one-shots, and it was very convenient.

I'd gladly pay for this functionality, preferably while supporting standards-based ACME functionality... but so far it seems Let's Encrypt is the only one playing that game, and their featureset is crap for anything but their very narrow use case.

Any advice, HN?

geofft 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is a very detailed investigation - the parts that appear to be new are the specific serial number patterns, the times/dates of manual issuance, and the case of the Tyro SHA-1 cert.

It's a little unfortunate that Mozilla's option here is to rely on WoSign and StartCom continuing to be honest about notBefore, or really, on Google detecting further abuse of notBefore via Certificate Transparency. Mozilla should really be participating in CT themselves so they have more options here. Is there anything the community can do to help (e.g., run more log servers)?

shawkinaw 5 days ago 2 replies      
Goddammit. I really liked StartCom for free S/MIME certificates and TLS certs that don't expire after a month.

So people, is there a comparable free product out there (don't say LetsEncrypt, they don't do S/MIME unless I'm mistaken)?

nandhp 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'd be interested to know what the plans are from other vendors (Microsoft, Google, Apple, ...); can we expect them to follow Mozilla's lead in taking action against WoSign?
driverdan 5 days ago 0 replies      

> Taking into account all the issues listed above, Mozillas CA team has lost confidence in the ability of WoSign/StartCom to faithfully and competently discharge the functions of a CA. Therefore we propose that, starting on a date to be determined in the near future, Mozilla products will no longer trust newly-issued certificates issued by either of these two CA brands.

I recommend reading the whole thing if you have time. They used some shady tactics.

hart_russell 5 days ago 7 replies      
A 1 year suspension and continued trust of previously signed certificates?

Sounds very generous to me.

gregmac 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is very well handled on the part of Mozilla, especially with respect to existing customers.

What's missing, which admittedly is not Mozilla's job, is to inform any existing customers that will have to renew during the time WoSign and StartCom are suspended. If they just get an invoice and pay it or are set-up with auto-renew, they'll unknowingly get certificates that aren't valid for the remainder of the suspension (or indefinitely, if WoSign/StartCom if violates Mozilla's requirements).

byuu 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, this would be devastating if they actually went through with revoking their root certificate.

StartCom is (well, was) the only competition to Let's Encrypt in the free certificate space. It is far and away the cheapest direct provider of wildcard certificates (which are impossible to get for free), unless you move into reseller territory. And even their free certificates last four times as long, and don't require the use of certbot.

Certainly, Let's Encrypt works great for a lot of peoples' needs. But for those it doesn't (and there's more of them than you might think), this is seriously bad news.

It's easy to get onboard wanting to punish WoSign/StartCom here, but keep in mind that this has the potential to screw over all of their innocent customers as well. (Future customers with the first action; all customers if the second action comes to pass and they revoke the root CA.) And screwing them could likely mean they abandon HTTPS completely instead.

Note that I am not advocating for Mozilla to give them a pass; far from it. If anything, this is just one more indictment on the long list of reasons why the entire CA system is completely broken.

I actually just recently purchased a certificate, and had my choices narrowed down to StartSSL or AlphaSSL. I am really glad I went with the latter right about now. I can't tell you how absolutely livid I would become if Mozilla ended up revoking my root CA after dropping over $100 on my certificate.

joseignaciorc 5 days ago 4 replies      
Just curiosity: since this report is a Google Doc, how can one know that it has been really written by Mozilla?

Shouldn't it be under the mozilla.org domain?

Angostura 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to make a donation to Mozilla for this. Top work of public value.
crazypyro 5 days ago 1 reply      
Completely and utterly fail your job, lie about it and use deceiving tactics?

And all they are getting is a 1 year suspension and none of the certificates are becoming untrusted. The auditors got a bigger punishment by being banned completely from Mozilla's trusted auditors.

Should just revoke them completely. Such incompetence and/or malice should not be allowed on such a crucial piece of infrastructure.

lionradio 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think Mozilla is falling for Symantecs / other CAs propaganda here. Yes, WoSign did bad things, but those are by far not the worst things we've seen in CA wrongdoings in the last years.We've seen certs issued for MITM attacks and security holes in the validation process of nearly every CA. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/14/trustwave_analysis/) < they confessed issuing a cert for MITM purpose and are still part of the game.The allegations mainly consist of:a) WoSign didn't make transparent that they have control over StartCom. Yes, this is a thing and it should be discussed. But the main focus of this is obviously to get StartCom into this story. Where - as I understood it - there is no allegation, that StartCom itself did something wrong. At least not in the league of "we should kill that company". Transparency is important and we should fight for it. Not only in China.b) They backdated SHA-1 certs. Obviously because not updated Windows XP machines are a thing in China. This is against code of conduct. This is bad, but I totally get the intention here. And the intention is not MITM attacks or worse (as we see a lot in CA business) the intention is not to break Chinese internet.

Bottom line:"Let's encrypt" is destroying the business of many shady CAs these days. Competition is getting harder. StartCom had an advance in this race as they adopted quickly to the new rules and the've build the best product in the market for special use cases. We - for example - rely on a lot of wildcard certs for many domains. StartCom had the product. We pay'd them $200 for all our certs and the next cheapest competitor wanted $150.000 / year for our certs. I totally get why they are getting attacked by the big players. I totally don't get why Mozilla is falling for this.

Kovah 5 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who's using StartCom for several years I'm really anxious now. I may use Let's Encrypt for a few sites but not for all and I also got my email certificates from StartCom.As far as I know there's no suitable alternative that does not cost $500+ per year, or does anyone have an advice for me?
bandrami 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nuke it from orbit. The whole idea of PKI is Broken and Wrong and confuses two different goals.

Here's a fun one I noticed: Wells Fargo and several other banks are CAs. This is idiotic. The "logic" behind PKI dictates that it's a third party identifying my bank to me. If banks themselves are CAs even that fig leaf doesn't mean much.

We have known bad actors in the pool of widely accepted CAs, right now. There's no sense bringing up obscure possibilities of MitMs that might happen absent a CA system: we have bogus certs, in the wild, today. Nuke it from orbit and teach people to pin certificates.

tarancato 5 days ago 3 replies      
So I don't like Let's Encrypt, if Mozilla "kills" WoSign/StartCom, what are my options if I want a cert for free?
zmmmmm 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame it sounds like there are no legal avenues for penalising the individuals behind this. Actions like this ought to be criminal. In the end, if the only penalties are directed at corporations involved it isn't much a of disincentive to state actors or others with sufficient resources who want to game the system.
Fej 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am both surprised and immeasurably pleased at the sight that "too big to fail" isn't (yet) reality for CAs.

When it comes to shady shit like this... I would reference the title of Metallica's first album.

ara24 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a governing body or regulatory authority which looks over the process followed by CAs ?

As a fan of firefox, I am happy that as a community, Mozilla has done the necessary ground work to reach this conclusion. However, as long as PKI remains a highly profitable business, more and more such events are going to happen.

I don't think all CAs should be trusted equally. Right now, AFAIK, my browsing experience is only as secure as the weakest CA. Hopefully, HPKP can put an end to this.

johnp_ 5 days ago 2 replies      
I remember that there was some talk about double voting (WoSign and StartCom not being separate entities, but voting with two votes) in the mailing list. Is there a reason as to why this event hasn't been included in the document?

edit: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/mozilla.dev.security...

> "In no case were these the deciding votes."

coverband 5 days ago 0 replies      
Shoot, I just renewed two of my domains with the free StartCom certs on Friday... Even though I'll likely have minimal-to-no impact, I'm still very disappointed with this.
xenophonf 5 days ago 1 reply      
Well, this is as good a week as any to migrate my certificates to Let's Encrypt. I just need to figure out how to do domain validation.
Ruud-v-A 5 days ago 0 replies      
Im glad that I have been distrusting Startcom on all my devices since early 2014. Time to do the same for Wosign.
tomjen3 5 days ago 0 replies      
How can I check if I am using one of their certificates?
brongondwana 5 days ago 2 replies      
While I agree that they did the wrong thing and WoSign/StartCom should be punished for lying, the whole sha-1 deprecation thing is very black and white. Others have successfully gained "exemptions" to do precisely this, and it's an interesting question whether it would have been easy for WoSign to get those same exemptions if they'd just asked. I bet the answer is "possible but not easy".




"Freestart collisions, like the one presented here, do not directly imply a collision for SHA-1"

"this work is an important milestone towards an actual SHA-1 collision"


"SHA-1 is no longer considered secure against well-funded opponents".

AKA, SHA-1 may not be secure against a nation state or attacker with a ton of money, but it's secure enough against for almost every site against almost every attacker. Given the reported 5%+ of Chinese browsers not supporting newer certs, I can see why customers might want a cert that gives them a lot more than nothing, though less than best-of-breed.

It's the one-size-fits-all where someone's personal blog needs to have the same level of security as the apple app store's payment system that leaves them filling a real market need. They didn't go seeking people wanting SHA1 certs, people wanting SHA1 certs that would still work went seeking someone who would provide them.

And they went seeking because the alternative is upgrading potentially millions of dollars worth of embedded kit which doesn't support newer certs, all to secure one link in a chain in which SHA1 is nowhere near the weakest link.

So yeah, the CAB chose to inflict a ton of pain and cause still-functioning hardware to be discarded in order to push a more secure ecosystem on everybody. Which is great from some perspectives, but it's environmental vandalism from another perspective, and if it pushes people back to non-HTTPS traffic for those older pieces of equipment it could cause a short term worsening of security.

(the deprecation of sha1 that is. The lying by WoSign/StartCom was a calculated risk in a business where everything is based on trust, and they lost)

sandGorgon 5 days ago 2 replies      
why is this google docs ? why is this not atleast a markdown file in github ?
guelo 5 days ago 2 replies      
If the CA market were efficient this would lead to bankruptcy of this company since there's no reason to chose them over the many competitors and many reasons to distrust them. Though of course the market is not efficient. I keep wondering when the Communist Party of China is going to make its heavy handed presence felt in the CA world.
appleflaxen 5 days ago 1 reply      
Corporate personhood is an American thing, but if the CA can't perform their most fundamental function (certifying accurate information), isn't that the best possible case for the corporate death penalty?

A 1-year time-out is insufficient to regain trust, IMO.

I would never let them return, absent some kind of additional (exculpatory) information)

They won't even admit to their behavior!

Bringing Pokmon GO to life on Google Cloud googleblog.com
477 points by bryanmau1  2 days ago   209 comments top 32
jcastro 2 days ago 8 replies      
A bunch of the comments are already pointing out the launch issues Pokemon Go had, and it's well known that a rep from AWS was also throwing jabs at them during launch for their issues.

It would be naive for everyone to assume that a high traffic launch is all about the cloud underneath and only that.

The article didn't mention any of the technical details of the Pokemon application itself, for all we know the infrastructure was humming nicely and the application itself didn't scale. Or the other way around, or a combination of both or one of the other of thousands of moving pieces it takes to launch something.

richardlblair 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Not everything was smooth sailing at launch! When issues emerged around the games stability, Niantic and Google engineers braved each problem in sequence, working quickly to create and deploy solutions. Google CRE worked hand-in-hand with Niantic to review every part of their architecture, tapping the expertise of core Google Cloud engineers and product managers all against a backdrop of millions of new players pouring into the game.

IMO This is the most valuable thing in this article. It essentially says what others are pointing out. You can't just press a button and have scale. It's not that easy. You have to tackle many layers. Considering they 50x'd their worst case scenario it would have only taken a few bad queries to fuck shit up.

mooman219 2 days ago 1 reply      
Currently on Cloud here at Google. I would like to elaborate "Google CRE seamlessly provisioned extra capacity on behalf of Niantic to stay well ahead of their record-setting growth."

Just because you have the resources does not make for a well scaling service. As outlined in the post, "Google CRE worked hand-in-hand with Niantic to review every part of their architecture, tapping the expertise of core Google Cloud engineers and product managers". Look past the chart, this wasn't just an estimate for Google, it was also for Niantic. You don't have unlimited development resources, not every aspect of an application may have had the time to flesh out a scale-able approach.

Netflix didn't scale out overnight. I'm sure we've seen their techblog about X extremely specialized framework/tool they've built out over the years. I'm impressed with how quickly Niantic achieved a playable experience.

kylecordes 2 days ago 6 replies      
From a user point of view it did not go nearly as smoothly as it is made to sound in this post. I would love to see a follow-up post about what went wrong along the way, and whether the hype surge might have continued longer and stronger if more people picking it up for the first time would've had a smooth experience (rather than lots and lots of errors talking to the servers).
AaronFriel 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is pure marketing that might convince decision makers and execs that didn't play Pokmon Go.

No doubt, the CRE program could prove valuable. But in this case, they are congratulating themselves on a rocky and widely panned launch of a product on their platform. One might wonder, "If this is what deploying a viral app on Google Cloud Platform looks like when you have help from Google engineers, what chance does anyone else have of getting something right on their platform?"

I think that's probably the wrong takeaway, but it's not difficult for me to imagine that being the only conclusion one has.

ShakataGaNai 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel really bad for this article. It is the Kobayashi Maru of sales pitches. Working in IT/DevOps/Servers/Software Dev/Etc all my life, I understand that even if you have the servers, scaling can be hard and time consuming. I also can't even imagine supporting the number of people they have. So they did an awesome job.

However, the Pokemon Go player in me says "Wow, even with all of Google's resources, they still couldn't manage to get this remotely stable for several weeks?".

I'm sure there was many amazing technical feats that occurred, and from a deeply technical level this is a good sales pitch. I'm sure a good sales person could spin it even better "50x your expected traffic? Google Cloud can do that!". But beyond that... most people will probably see this as a failure.

lnanek2 2 days ago 2 replies      
> paid off when the game launched without incident in Japan, where the number of new users signing up to play tripled the US launch two weeks earlier.

The "without incident" part is hilarious. The game was unusable for over a week when they added more countries. There were memes all over the place about Niantic execs ignoring the burning server and pushing to launch in more countries anyway. I wonder if any of them actually tried to play as a user on the public servers and spent hours trying to logon and it failing, or locking up soon after for a week.

Not to mention they never even got the original tracker functionality (1 footstep, 2 footstep, 3 footstep for anything nearby) working again after that, they had to replace it with a lower load knock off where you just see what is around a certain location that isn't very popular. So not only did they not even keep login working, they cut features too.

wnevets 2 days ago 1 reply      
On one hand handling such huge amount of traffic is crazy hard and an amazing accomplishment however the tone of the blog is off putting because of just how much a trainwreck it was from the users point of view.
daveloyall 2 days ago 1 reply      
To those that played and were not impressed with game/system stability: okay, okay. I wasn't there, I don't know.

...But, according to the nightly news, it was a tremendous success. The word 'ever' came up a lot.

PMG was the first successful overnight/viral planet-wide/client-side launch. People who had never heard of it saw it on the news and then visited their local app store in response.

And according to the googleblog, it took a tremendous expenditure of money, hardware, electricity, skills, and knowledge to pull it off.

Makes me wonder... Did some other game/app go almost global, but fall short for the want of those very resources described in the blog post?

Something for app devs to think about.

ihsw 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm more interested in how far popularity has crashed.

I was previously interested in the game but Niantic has shown zero interest in being responsive to the community's concerns.

neves 2 days ago 3 replies      
This was one of the most downloaded apps from all time. Went from zero to gazillions of requests in a single day. Nobody could have planned this. Com'on these guys are great.
Tepix 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice, but it's disappointing that they do not mention any hard numbers such as concurrent players, requests per second, traffic, etc.

That makes the article a lot less interesting and worthwhile.

KirinDave 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't be the only person who looked at that graph and burst out with a cackle that startled everyone around them. The deep and inescapable dread of that fire burning around you even as you make history must have been quite a feeling.

Or in the vernacular of youth: "This is fine. Everything is fine" as a scaling graph.

Perixoog 2 days ago 1 reply      
>... Google Cloud customer...

That's pretty misleading - I believe Google's parent company still own part of Niantic. So other customers shouldn't expect the (implied) same access to Google resources.

Declanomous 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really appreciate this blog post. It gives a great insight into what is going on behind the scenes. I was really surprised by how low their their worse case scenario was. Absolute worst case would be every single person capable of running the game playing. Obviously this wouldn't happen, but for a brand with as much recognition as Pokemon, I think "What if everyone in the world started using this" is a good place to start. Obviously this won't happen, but it's important to think about why it won't happen. "What if everyone who has played Pokemon or wanted to know more about Pokemon downloaded this game?" is still unlikely, but it's less unlikely. It's probably not far off from what actually happened.

I don't want to criticize their model too much, because it's obviously simplified for our benefit. However, it appears that their worst-case scenario was "What if we become the next bejeweled or [insert popular F2P game here]?" It's a ridiculous assumption, because Pokemon has a much broader appeal than any other casual game, cause the IP is so insanely popular, and the game still appeals to people who just want a casual game. I know it is a lot easier to get fired for spending too much money than it is for not spending enough, but it's a stretch to say their launch traffic was beyond imagination. Niantic should start looking for new analysts now if their current analysts honestly thought this traffic was outside the realm of possibility.

I don't consider the server issues to be much of a problem though. It's hard to ensure everything will work perfectly under that kind of load. You have to accurately predict who will be playing, how much they will be playing, how they will interact with the game, and so much more. However, I do think they need to figure out their communication with the fan base. I know that there will be a vocal portion of any constituency that hates everything. That isn't a good excuse for communicating poorly. Good communication will help almost every relationship.

daok 2 days ago 1 reply      
So their estimation was that nothing would increase? I am not sure I trust the two parallels lines in the graph. The estimation should have been a spike at the release date a small drop and some grow over time, no?
Thaxll 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's easy to blame on the cloud where the application server probably had a lot of issues.
acallahan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Related: a similar story of scaling the mobile app "Draw Something", where usage was doubling every day.


kriro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting read but a bit too positive overall. I think the biggest failure of the launch was not learning from the initial launch zones before launching the other zones.

The launch in Europe was a catastrophe imo (constant crashes and freezes). I don't know how much of this is to blame on the cloud infrastructure but I suspect it's not nothing. I feel they didn't provide nearly enough infrastructure given the data they should have had from Australia/USA.

All that being said I think they smoothed out everything and the system seems to be running very nicely now given the scale. It's certainly a positive engineering tale overall.

randomsofr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pokemon GO really disappointed me, i'm a big fan of Pokemon and this app really sucks. It is really buggy. I stopped playing two weeks ago because of the GPS instability. I hope they get it right some day. But i'm glad they fixed the server issues.
Cyph0n 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know what kind of backend Pokemon Go is running on? I'm guessing Java or Go?
ksec 2 days ago 0 replies      
Software Scalability issues aside. I am not sure if Pokemon Go would ever be possible if it not on the cloud. How could you get instances up this fast. It had explosion of players in very little time. There is no way you could have planned this resources ahead of time. And it die down fairly quickly, which means you would have lots of unused server if it were not for cloud.
AndrewKemendo 1 day ago 0 replies      
When issues emerged around the games stability

I'm most curious about how they identified issues. Obviously crash reports are a thing, maybe traffic to a login error page, twitter complaints etc...

I wonder how they managed prioritizing issues.

pingec 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would be really interesting to read up on some of the bottlenecks they had identified and how they optimized them away. I know at some point they had to turn off the "location where a pokemon was caught" map and the radar to keep the thing responsive :)
dozwang 2 days ago 0 replies      
the Pokemon Go Cloud story in Chinese.http://www.ithome.com.tw/news/108719
rokm 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article says containers were used, but the D word is not mentioned?
bkjsbkjdnf 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is just a worthless advertisement.
treve 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also interesting that it said "WAS the biggest Kubernetes deployment". This tells me that they've tanked hard enough for that to no longer be the case.
heh 2 days ago 3 replies      
This all doesn't really matter when you lock out anyone who has a rooted phone, with no warning. Sure, a few people were cheating with them, but anyone running cyanogenmod or any other custom firmware, or anyone who wants to get rid of a god-awful OEM skin, is now screwed out of the game. Ironically, this hasn't stopped the actual cheaters or people using AutoMagisk.
dom96 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really disappointed with Pokemon GO. Despite the issues with the launch I still had a lot of fun playing it initially. But the tracker breaking together with the lack of communication from Niantic killed it for me.

Interestingly, the one time they did decide to communicate was when they announced that they banned a bunch of third parties from accessing their server[1]. Of course, just like in this post, they show a graph with a missing y-axis which tells you very little about the traffic they actually received.

It's surprising that this wasn't mentioned in the Google blog, since according to Niantic it was thanks to this ban that they were able to launch in more regions.

1 - http://pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/en/post/update-080416/

revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's been 10+ years since WoW launched, and that scaled better than Pokemon Go. It didn't need no fancy cloud or autoscaling or the few moore iterations Google got, and it's a game that you know.. actually has a use for networking.

You could make an offline Pokemon Go version and not notice any difference.

lanestp 2 days ago 3 replies      
Seamless would not be the word I would use. I would instead argue that what Pokemon Go proved was that Google's Cloud is not of the same quality, at scale, that AWS is.
The terrorist inside my husband's brain neurology.org
529 points by technological  19 hours ago   129 comments top 23
snake117 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I attended this years annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Vancouver and Susan Schneider Williams talked briefly at one of the plenary sessions. Her speech was shorter than what was in this text and yet had a similar message.

It was pleasant overall as it gave the plenary session that day a more humane feel. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the biochemical underpinnings of diseases and all the hype of the clinical trials being presented. We were reminded briefly of how their is a person behind all those symptoms and how the condition can affect the family as well.

guelo 17 hours ago 9 replies      
A common failing I've noticed in complicated multi-symptom diagnoses like this disease is that doctors tend to treat each symptom individually instead of trying to connect the dots of all the symptoms. As a programmer used to debugging complicated systems it makes no sense, my first inclination when multiple things popup at the same time is to look for the underlying root cause.
HSO 16 hours ago 13 replies      
This is obviously painful for the family and the fans, and I hope my words are not taken in the wrong way.

But I really wish Americans (and yes, I think it's mostly Americans who have this tendency) would choose their words more carefully.

If I am not mistaken, we are talking about a disease. What makes the analogy to "terrorism" apt here?

For a while, everything seemed to be a "war" ("war on drugs", "war on crime", "war on bla"). Now, everything that inflicts pain and trauma, it seems, is "terrorism".

This may not be the right occasion to complain about this. But at the time of reading, it is top of the list at HN and this kind of conflation really bothers me. Words still have meaning, one would hope, the sad Zeitgeist of our time notwithstanding.

medion 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This piece was particularly haunting for me, having watched my father go through almost the exact same thing, including the PD diagnosis, lots of confusion about what was wrong with him, etc.

LBD is a horrific - the hallucinations are utterly terrifying to watch someone go through. My father did not commit suicide, however I have often thought that I wish he had, his decline has been so rapid and horrible - witnessing his fear has been torturous - today he cannot move or talk, and is barely conscious, it is simply a matter of time until something like pneumonia will take his life. His symptoms started at age 58.

Normal_gaussian 18 hours ago 3 replies      
> He never said he had hallucinations. [...] it became evident that most likely he did have hallucinations, but was keeping that to himself.

I do not know if I would tell people about hallucinations. It is bad enough to be out of control of your function, but to have no trust in your experience is terrifying. I wouldn't be surprised if I convinced myself I didn't have them in order to feel in control.

davidhariri 17 hours ago 1 reply      
When I heard Robin had passed I had assumed it was from depression, but what does that even mean? This essay has really challenged me to go deeper on what mental illness is- a disease just like cancer that has causes which can be mechanical.

It's heart-breaking to think of a person with no way out of rapid decline other than to check out early.

svag 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't know about the Lewy body disease, so here is a link to the Lewy body dementia association https://www.lbda.org/category/3437/what-is-lbd.htm
gilaniali 16 hours ago 1 reply      
It is astounding that someone with the resources to pay for the best medical care was unable to arrive at the correct diagnosis. As we move towards AI assisted diagnoses, hopefully such suffering can be mitigated.

Do neurologists follow checklists when diagnosing symptoms? Will this case change their procedures going forward?

narrator 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem with diseases like this is doctors having nothing to offer at all. A relative of mine had this condition and they had so much trust in their doctors. They'd go to the doctor regularly and every time the doctor tells them they're sick after giving them a few trivial tests, sends them home and sends them a bill. It's a real farce.

They could try some radical therapy, like stem cells, but they don't. Instead they keep going to the doctor who is happy to take their money and tell them there's nothing they can do.

I feel like the doctor should have a priest on staff to tell them to say their hale mary's and douse them with holy water. At least it would partially justify the cost of the visit.

j_koreth 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Can mods change this mobile website link to http://neurology.org/content/87/13/1308.full?
dredmorbius 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm seeing any number of themes in this piece that call out for discussion, only a few of which are being picked up here.

Mental health, stigma, betrayal, and volition

The whole nature of mental health and stimatisation runs deep in contemporary society and this article. Even with acknowledged issues, Williams likely hid the most troublesome symptom, hallucinations, from his wife and others.

Unlike physical disease or injury, which can be considered happening to us or our containers -- bodies -- disease of the mind fundamentally affects our very ideas of identity and perception. When a person's responses to the world change, when their recollection of events turns unreliable, when their response to the present becomes chaotic, when they themselves cannot trust the messages of their own sense, you're diving into some very deep, dark waters. Interacting with, caring for, and living with the mentally ill is exceptionally taxing. Norms of social behavior fail to exist, and the least interaction can become both a trial of comprehension and a battle of wills (though not necessarily this). And patterns which were once firmly established change, by the week, sometimes by the day or hour.

This is a reason that the role of primary caregiver is such a tremendously challenging one.

The response of others, including medical professionals, is also taxing. Normal expectations of volition and will simply do not apply. When there's an organic, chemical, or pathological underpinning to behavior, it's not simply a matter of "just try harder" or "you're smart and capable". To the point that comments suggesting this themselves become tremendously painful.

Celebrities and disease

For better or worse, a characteristic of fame and celebrity is that they focus attention. Susan Schneider Williams's essay on her celebrity husban, Robin Williams's encounter with a rare, difficult to diagnose, and profoundly

There's a tension at HN over whether or not authors or personalities matter, are relevant, or should be disclosed. I feel rather strongly that they do. HN management disagree. There's a recent discussion of that here:


The fact that this story concerns Robin Williams, famous and beloved comedian and actor, is salient if only because it means that he received care, diagnostic, and autopsy attention that few other patients would receive. If not for his fame and affluence, this would be just another tragic death, likely by suicide and depression. Instead, we've a deeper understanding of the real mechanisms at play.

The story has similarities to the Irvine "PTA mom" story -- a drugs bust turned into a story of framing and false accusations. But for particulars of place and social status, that story could have had a very different ending.


Disease as metaphor

The inability to rely on established norms, prior patterns, experiences, and personality are where I see the titular concept coming into play. The condition here violates both the patient's and the author's fundamental trust in the Universe. Robin Williams couldn't trust his own senses, and was, literally losing that which was most central to any of us: his mind. Susan was losing the friend, partner, and husband, to something she couldn't see, couldn't name, didn't understand, and couldn't combat. I cannot think of a better description of terror than that: to be threatened by an omnipresent, invisible, awesomely powerful, and hugely destructive enemy, with no sense of when or how it would strike next, and no effective means to defend against it.

Systems, understanding, and response

There's a thread here about the failure of modern medicine, and perhaps the US healthcare system specifically, to address sufficiently complex and systemic conditions. Again I'm disappointed in much of the HN follow-up, which incorrectly interprets the @guelo's comments as being specific to programming. They are not.

The problem is a general one: our perceptions -- both our "five senses"[1] and those extended through technically-mediated, extended, or created sensing capabilities -- only inform us of very topical conditions. It's up to the diagnostician to draw deeper inferences.

As I commented on the linked thread, perversely, the deeper and more complex our understanding and knowledge, the greater the tendency toward non-systemic thinking, or at least of creating a loose flying swarm of individual specialist none of whom have a large-picture view. The roots are numerous (taking a systemic view of non-systemic vision): education, specialisation, compensation, healthcare administration, research, drugs and therapy development, and more. The result is having to run rough herd over providers to ensure that the full patient is being considered, not just some interesting subsystem behavior.


Understanding vs. cure

There is, finally, the problem that understanding is a possible route to a cure, but is neither sufficient nor necessary. There are treatments which have worked without understanding (salycilic acid, from willow bark, against headache, and citrus, against scurvy, as two historical examples), and there are cases in which additional information remains stubbornly ineffective in promulgating effective treatment.

A good friend of mine died some 25 years ago from a condition which was then rare, poorly understood, difficult to diagnose, and stubbornly resistant to treatment. A quarter century of medical advance has rewritten that sentence only very slightly: the specific chromosomal nature of the condition is now understood, and a genetic test could identify the gene transposition triggering the condition (though not the triggers of that transposition, yet). So to that extent, the condition is better understood.

It remains only poorly treatable, with many cases having a prognosis of 50% to 90% mortality, and the specific therapies date to the 1970s, 1960, and 1950s, or before, with little if any change. One's views of medical advances can be somewhat coloured by such experiences, and what I've observed is that much of what's proclaimed to be improvements in medicine can be broken down two two general mechanisms:

1. Improvements in baseline medical care available to all.

2. Specific and frequently very highly targeted advances. These can be tremendously beneficial, within those narrow areas, but as with complex keys, the locks fitted are frequently few in number.

There are exceptions and potential exceptions. Broad-spectrum antibiotics and development of vaccinations both provided tools to address a wide range of threats. Gene sequencing and synthesis, and stem cell treatments, offer some promise of broad new areas of therapeutic mechanism. In large part though, genetic medicine has been more diagnostic than therapeutic.

What understanding of mechanism does allow though is twofold.

First, having a known enemy, one who can be faced and seen, removes a significant element of the dread of the unknown assailant, which can have some comfort.[2] Even if the result is no net curative medical therapy, the path becomes known, and perhaps mechanisms for symptomatic treatment or palliative care.

The hope, of course, is that knowing cause one may focus on cure, or at least, to borrow from the military metaphor, counterattack. That's not certain, but it is a possibility.

Another element, tying in with the notion of systemic approach, above, is the thought when faced with some set of phenomena, a complex of symptoms, of considering "what is the possible common underlying element here?" Again, treatment of independent symptoms by specialists tends to draw away from this, but a reasonable thought, not just in medical circumstances, is: supposing we did have a deeper understanding of this, or more complete diagnostics, what then could we do or could we hope to achieve?



1. There are actually significantly more than five, though the convention "five senses" of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, persists. A good general text on perceptual psychology makes fascinating reading.

2. There's a surprisingly relevant concept from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Looking up his use of the workd "invisible", I found two mentions. One the greatly misrepresented "invisible hand". The other though refers to the "invisible death" faced by combatants in modern (that is, gunpowder) warfare:

*the noise of firearms, the smoke, and the invisible death to which every man feels himself every moment exposed as soon as he comes within cannon-shot, and frequently a long time before the battle can be well said to be engaged, must render it very difficult to maintain any considerable degree of this regularity, order, and prompt obedience, even in the beginning of a modern battle. In an ancient battle there was no noise but what arose from the human voice; there was no smoke, there was no invisible cause of wounds or death. Every man, till some mortal weapon actually did approach him, saw clearly that no such weapon was near him.... In these circumstances...it must have been a good deal less difficult to preserve some degree regularity and order."

Which is to say, Smith here is addressing specifically the terror of facing an unseen, unpredictable, and deadly threat.


stamm49 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry but a medical disease has nothing to do with "terrorism". Is this just a way to grab headlines or clicks?
AustinG08 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Big fan of the song Robin Williams by CeeLo Green


jacquesm 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Taking into account his profession you have to wonder to what extent he was shielding his loved ones from how bad it really was. Poor man.
amingilani 8 hours ago 0 replies      
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise upfor you the flag is flungfor you the bugle trills

Seriously, 109 comments and no one said it?

gotts 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of a "My Beautiful Broken Brain" documentary.
ilaksh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a type of dementia, which is in fact an age-related disease. That is not to say that getting old is the main cause, but aging is simply related.

I am convinced that the only truly effective way to tackle most age-related disease (which includes most diseases that kill people) is by comprehensively acting against fundamental aging mechanisms.


pm24601 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember all the people ( looking at you Tony Robbins) who put RW's suicide as some failing of character.

this should make it painfully clear to all those with opinions about others on the internet to STFU

Kenji 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This is absolutely heartbreaking. Who is cutting onions here?

I think as time goes on, we will find more and more physiological sources for severe mental health problems, and that is a great step towards proper diagnosis and, hopefully, cure. Before reading this article, I thought he 'just' suffered from depression and thus a condition that cannot be diagnosed physically.

smoyer 18 hours ago 2 replies      
There's a second posting of this link on the second page (at the moment) that has the actual article's title - perhaps the discussion can be merged and the title normalized.


rayne58 16 hours ago 2 replies      
To make it a little more readableI drop this is on alot of websites just edit the CSS and drop it on the bottom

body { margin:1em auto; max-width:40em; padding:0 .62em; font:1.2em/1.62em sans-serif;}h1,h2,h3 { line-height:1.2em;}

dchuk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Haven't read the article, but the timing is interesting to me: I'm just finishing my honeymoon, and our last waiter in Costa Rica looked and acted in a way where I told my wife he seemed like a robin williams character...and then I got really bummed out realizing we won't get any more of his characters again.

Going to read this on the plane home.

What I Wish I Had Known Before Scaling Uber [video] youtube.com
495 points by kiyanwang  4 days ago   269 comments top 19
iamleppert 3 days ago 3 replies      
It amazes me they have 1,700 services. It would be hilarious satire to actually see the description of each. And the debugging scenarios he listed make it sound like they have very poor engineers working for them. Who on earth lets an application get to prod that iterates through a list of items and makes a request for each thing?

When did we loose our heads and think such an architecture is sane? The UNIX philosophy is do one thing and do it well, but that doesn't mean be foolish about the size of one said thing. Doing one thing means solving a problem, and limited the scope of said problem so as to have a cap on cognitive overhead, not having a notch in your "I have a service belt".

We don't see the LS command divided into 50 separate commands and git repo's.....

kowdermeister 4 days ago 6 replies      
"Uber is most reliable over the weekends when engineers don't change it" :)
paukiatwee 4 days ago 3 replies      
Just to confirm, 1000 microservices in this case is 1000 different apps (e.g.different docker images) running simultaneously? 1000 microservices in this case not 1000 microservice instances (e.g. docker instances)?

If it is 1000 microservices as in different apps, then they must have at least 2000 running apps (at least 2 instances per app for HA).

Maybe uber only have 200 "active" microservice app running at the same time where each microservices have N running instances.

I just cant imagine running 1000 different microservices (e.g different docker images, not docker instances) at the same time.

eternalban 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think these "alarming trends" are highlighting that operational complexity is an easier pill to take than conceptual complexity, for most workers in the field.

Microservices address that gap.

And in the process the field is transformed from one of software developers to software operators. This generation is witnessing the transfer of the IT crew from the "back office" to the "boiler room".

fitzwatermellow 4 days ago 1 reply      
Link to Slides here:


Any speculation as to why Uber doesn't just want to use something like Netflix Eureka / Hystrix instead?

Roritharr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a big green-IT guy, but always pushing your systems close to its load maxima and then backing off with the test traffic as real traffic comes in feels like an enormous waste of electricity.
dorianm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got told by an Uber engineer that's because of their hyper-hyper growth their tech is basically the biggest mess possible.

That's also why that makes it an interesting place to work at and helped them achieve this growth.

Personnaly I think this should be made into a global app with no geo-fencing (e.g. Available everywhere basically).

nichochar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly I don't think the problem is microservices. I mean everything he brings up is true, but it's more of a "how you do microservices" issue.

I used to work in startups, and overall was impressed with velocity. Then I joined a big valley tech company, and now I understand.

It's because they hire smart and ambitious people, but give them a tiny vertical to work on. On a personal level, you WANT to build something, so you force it.

I think you solve this by designing your stack and then hiring meticulously with rules (like templates for each micro service), instead of HIRE ALL THE ENGINEERS and then figure it out (which is quite obviously uber's problem)

StreamBright 3 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely amazing to watch. I think most of the big companies (Amazon, Google) already have solutions for these issues like: limited number of languages, SLAs between services, detailed performance metrics and the ability to trace microservices.
andrewvijay 4 days ago 1 reply      
Highly recommended video. Lots of stuff he spoke are very relatable. Like having many repos , storing configs as a separate repo, politics by people, having a tracking system
mstade 3 days ago 0 replies      
I quite enjoyed watching this. My takeaway isn't so much that this is a critique or endorsement of microservices, but rather just a series of observations. Not even lessons learned in many cases, just honest pragmatic observations. I like how he doesn't seem to judge very much he obviously has his own opinion of several of these topics, but seem to let that more or less slide in order to not get in the way of these observations.

Good talk, will likely watch again.

buzzdenver 4 days ago 1 reply      
Did I miss what WIWIK stands for ?
inthewoods 3 days ago 2 replies      
I found this video so super interesting and yet frustrating for completely personal reasons: the company I work for used to sell a tracing product that was specifically designed for the distributed tracing problem and handled all of the issues he highlighted - trace sampling, cross-language/framework support built in, etc. It was/is based on the same tech as Zipkin but is production ready. Sadly, he and his team must have spent a huge amount of time rolling their own rather than ever learning about our product. Now, it still might not have been a good match, but man, the problems he mentions were right in the sweet spot of what our product did really, really well.
agentultra 3 days ago 3 replies      
What I Wish Small Startups Had Known Before Implementing A Microservices Architecture:

Know your data. Are you serving ~1000 requests per second peak and have room to grow? You're not going to gain much efficiency by introducing engineering complexity, latency, and failure modes.

Best case scenario and your business performs better than expected... does that mean you have a theoretical upper bound in 100k rps? Still not going to gain much.

There are so many well-known strategies for coping with scale that I think the main take-away here for non-Uber companies is to start up-front with some performance characteristics to design for. Set the upper bound on your response times to X ms, over-fill data in order to keep the bound on API queries to 1-2 requests, etc.

Know your data and the program will reveal itself is the rule of thumb I use.

gb123 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, Matt Ranney, I used your node-pcap library to learn how to parse PCAP :) Did not know you worked for Uber, thanks!
admiralhack_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great video. I went in expecting it to cover mostly the technical side of things. Instead Matt gave a great overview of the team / engineering organization dynamics to watch out for when adopting microservices. (I particularly liked that he pointed out how developers may write new code / services instead of dealing with team politics.)
petetnt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really enjoyed this talk. Our services don't quite (yet :)) run at that scale, but many of the issues mentioned have already peaked at some point. It's also good to have (more) validation to some choices we have made in the past, are currently making or are thinking about making in short term future.
amelius 4 days ago 5 replies      
I didn't see the video. But given that a cab-service has a natural sharding point (i.e., per city), I don't get why scaling is such an issue.
gtrubetskoy 3 days ago 18 replies      
I think the world of service architecture is roughly divided in two camps: (1) people who still naively think that Rest/JSON is cool and schemas and databases should be flexible and "NoSQL" is nice and (2) people who (having gone through pains of (1)) realized that strong schemas, things like Thrift, Protobufs, Avro are a good thing, as is SQL and relational databases, because rigid is good. (Camp 1 is more likely to be using high level dynamic languages like Python and Ruby, and camp 2 will be more on the strongly typed side e.g. C/C++, Go, Java).
Restoring YC's Xerox Alto day 8: it boots righto.com
292 points by dwaxe  5 days ago   95 comments top 19
raldi 5 days ago 3 replies      
I love that the first boot screenshot at https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JB4VOj7FgnU/V-lCHIADrsI/A... says:

 Date and Time Unknown
Oh, you poor sweet computer, if we told you the answer, it would blow your little mind.

rhardih 5 days ago 5 replies      
This series is the best thing on HN in a long time. As a software engineer by trade, I feel like I've been missing out not learning more about electrical engineering. The level of knowledge and skill involved in this restoration is downright awe-inspiring.
ChuckMcM 5 days ago 0 replies      

All you need is the white lab coat and Gene Wilder's "It's alive!" in the background. Congrats on getting it to this point, as anyone who has brought up new systems for the first time knows, once you can get your central processor to load and run software of your choice, you can use it to tell you what it not working correctly and bring everything else up. It is always a total rush when the system boots for the first time. (or in this case, "boots again" :-))

I would be particularly keen to insure that the arrow keys work on the keyboard, as a lot of Altos were used to play mazewar and that was hard on the arrow keys.

tiles 5 days ago 4 replies      
This is an amazing milestone! I have to ask, why did we need a separate boot disk sent over instead of flashing the previous disk with the contents of a boot disk? I suppose swapping out parts is an expected part of restoration though.
DIVx0 5 days ago 0 replies      
As is said every time this blog updates: This is very interesting stuff and I enjoy reading about the progress.

I can't imagine the excitement these folks felt when the machine finally booted up. All of their skilled trouble shooting and hard work were spot on.

I can't wait to read more.

intrasight 5 days ago 0 replies      
This has been a fun series to track. I used an Alto when I was in college. As an EE, we had to wire-wrap a computer using bit-slice and TTL parts. Definitely the hardest lab component course I took (there were much harder theoretical courses).

So a new Broadwell-EP Xeon chip has like 7 billion transistors. I'm trying to imagine this kind of computer hardware archeology as it will be done thirty years from now.

thought_alarm 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really neat. I can't wait to see the video!

The pictures of screen look unusual, as if every second scan line is missing. Is the Alto outputting an interlaced video signal? That would be very interesting and unexpected.

CodeWriter23 5 days ago 1 reply      
The disk seek problem didn't mysteriously disappear. You need to bust out some some contact cleaner and clean those header strip connections, both sides.
kens 4 days ago 0 replies      
The video of the Alto booting is now available: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12590137
sama 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to everyone who made this happen. It's so cool!
tkinom 5 days ago 2 replies      
What were the CPU/ ISA used in the Alto?
0x0 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm trying to read the article on an iphone but every time I zoom out to see the full width article I get bounced over to an article about toothbrushes?!

For the better part of a minute I was wondering if they had monkey-patched the disk controller with an electronic toothbrush?!

fit2rule 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love it that its finally booting. I wonder if they've considered taking all the probes off, and booting without debugging hardware attached ..
dudouble 5 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool stuff. Makes me want to give another go at bringing up my C-64 (much simpler, of course).

If only I had proper tooling and knowledge...

bogomipz 5 days ago 1 reply      
This has really been a great series to read. Does anybody know where this will live when they are done restoring it?
mempko 5 days ago 0 replies      
The living computer museum is an amazing place. Highly recommend visiting if you ever come to Seattle.
julian_1 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is this the only Alto running today?
obaymardini 4 days ago 0 replies      
obaymardini 5 days ago 0 replies      
SVG has more potential madebymike.com.au
427 points by kp25  5 days ago   101 comments top 25
c-smile 5 days ago 4 replies      
SVG is too complex/heavy for simple tasks and actually is not that good for complex tasks - more or less complex image requires special editing WYSIWYG application to create it.

Let's imagine that you need to render simple icon using CSS that should change color on :hover:

 div.icon { background: url(simple.svg) no-repeat; background-size: 1em 1em; } div.icon:hover { ??? what to do here to change the color ??? }
Just to render this thing you will need: to download the file, parse SVG, build DOM tree and "play" that DOM tree on canvas. Each task is not trivial.

While ago I've proposed at w3c-styles simple and lightweight solution for vector images and shapes in CSS - so called path URLs:

 div.icon { background: url(path:c 50,0 50,100 100,100 c 50,0 50,-100 100,-100) no-repeat; background-size: 1em 1em; stroke: #000; /* vector stroke color */ } div.icon:hover { stroke: #F00; }
The path uses the same format as "d" attribute in SVG's <path> element:

 <path d="c 50,0 50,100 100,100 c 50,0 50,-100 100,-100" fill="#000" /> 
Parsing is trivial and rendering of such "images" is just a set of primitive drawing operations. No DOM or anything like that.

More on the subject (with illustrations in Sciter) : http://sciter.com/lightweight-inline-vector-images-in-sciter...

ptrincr 5 days ago 2 replies      
Look no further than D3.js as an example of the kind of visualisations which are possible with SVG.


At least this is what introduced me to working with SVG. As much as I like D3, mainly for charting, it's not the easiest thing to pick up.

igt0 5 days ago 2 replies      
SVG is amazing, my main concern about it. it is because it creates a huge burden to browser developers. The spec is huge [1]. And some parts are outdated[2].

[1] https://github.com/WebKit/webkit/tree/master/Source/WebCore/...[2] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/SVG/SVG_animati...

formula1 5 days ago 2 replies      
I am using svgs in a project now.

- The first issue was the designer Im working with didnt know how to export to svg.

- Second problem is my svgs ended up with very weird numbers and groups. Such as the main groups offset was -60, 190 then another group to dlightly compensate. Then the paths themselves compensated further.

- Another issue is "cutouts" are nonintuitive for designers and also complex to reverse when they are curves.

- Another issue is linking and styling to an external svg. Despite you can put them in an image tag, it cannot be styled this way. If you put it inside a use tag, styling externally requires targeting ids.

- anothwr issue is that they dont follow the normal rules of width/height. By default they are 300x150 and takes a bit of patience to ensure they exist as 100% width (which I assumed was default)

Other than that, I am quite pleased with the format and am expecting great things for it!

CiPHPerCoder 5 days ago 2 replies      
SVG also has more risk: stored XSS, which isn't something you'd expect from a file whose MIME type starts with "image/".


Pxtl 5 days ago 5 replies      
When I first heard about svg, I was excited. Finally everybody getting behind a vector graphics format... and since then the more I see the worse it looks. A boosted, text-oriented, JavaScript-enhanced resource monster. All the worst attributes of HTML, but in vector graphics.

Did anybody want this? I know I wanted a jpg of vector graphics - a resource-friendly small system for embedding vector graphics into things. Something where I don't have to worry about an image having an xss vulnerability. Something that degrades gracefully so it can still work in some form on an anemic piece of equipment.

But no. We throw bigger and heavier hardware at more trivial problems.

contingencies 5 days ago 0 replies      
Timing! I just pulled a 4AM night last night creating my first ever Lua library, svglover[0], to facilitate SVG display in LVE[1], for a roguelike. Motivation was primitive[2] posted[3] last week. It's actually pretty easy to work with, even for lazy coders who find regex parsing acceptable like me[4] :) I'm no oldschool demo coder, but the coordinate transformation system is basically just a simple layer on top of an OpenGL pipeline. You don't even need viewbox, just groups with <g></g>

[0] https://github.com/globalcitizen/svglover [1] http://love2d.org/ [2] https://github.com/fogleman/primitive [3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12539109 [4] Make it work first, then make it work fast.

niedzielski 5 days ago 0 replies      
Gordon Lee[0] has made a ton of sophisticated SVGs for Wikipedia and its projects and recently presented at Wikimania. The Burj Khalifa[1] is one of my favorites. Inspired, I wrote this short script for fun that chops up a Blender file into PNGs[2] which I used to generate an animated SVG.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Cmglee[1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Burj_Kha...[2] https://github.com/rndmem/ndice/blob/master/blend/d/render

Animats 5 days ago 1 reply      
SVG as a representation language for draw programs is pretty good. Most draw programs don't utilize it fully. While SVG can represent dimensions as inches or mm, most programs only support dimensions as pixels, which makes SVG useless for CAD drawings.

If you need drawings with lines and boxes, Inkscape is very helpful. Most drawings in Wikipedia are in SVG, and many were drawn with Inkscape. You can update drawings in Wikipedia by bringing them into Inkscape and editing them, then checking them back in as an update. It's not a read-only notation, like Postscript.

Manually tweaking SVG text, though? Painful. It's encapsulated like XML, so you can, but you probably shouldn't. After you've done that, most draw programs won't be able to handle the fancy stuff. And really, drawing by typing text is like pounding a screw with a hammer.

iamleppert 5 days ago 1 reply      
SVG works for the trivial graphics use cases that are presented. But it falls apart for anything that requires more complexity, or dealing with documents of arbitrary complexity.

There is little provision for incremental rendering, and poor control and visibility of the internals of the rendering process. Once you dump your SVG to the browser, that's basically it. There's no way to find out what is going on.

It's really nice to just set a break point in your imperative Canvas code, or WebGL code and see exactly what is happening, and use all the standard debugging and profiling techniques. I have yet to see the same for SVG.

edejong 5 days ago 2 replies      
Three years ago I was amazed by the versatility of SVG when I discovered it through D3 and it inspired our graphical designer to ask us designs never before seen in SaaS applications. Once you're willing to dive into the specifications, you'll find a treasure trove of possibilities.

There are some caveats beginning users should be aware of. First of all, better forget multi line text or sophisticated text layout within the SVG. I still think that's really missing in the current specification. As a commute project I once wrote the dynamic programming layout of Knuth (used in TeX) for SVG and JavaScript, but it was slow and didn't allow for multi line selections.

Another problem is rendering speed. SVG renderers can be fast, but you have to know what can be optimized by the gpu and what requires the CPU.

amelius 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm wondering if it would be possible to parameterize SVG files. Suppose I have an icon in the file "icon.svg", it would be awesome if I could say in the CSS:

 .icon:hover { background-image: url("./icon.svg") main-color=#ff0000; }
where "main-color" is a parameter of the SVG file. So the icon turns red upon hovering (just an example).

Is something like this possible?

shurcooL 5 days ago 1 reply      
I really like SVG and this was a great article that contained many things I didn't know.

That said, I _tried_ to use SVG for something as simple as displaying some multiline monospaced text with whitespace preserved, and found it's either really hard, or actually not possible (unless you position each glyph manually). Is that really the case?

mojuba 5 days ago 0 replies      
SVG has another interesting application: it can be used as a UI language for graphically rich and complex interfaces, almost game-like but not quite. You often see this kind of interfaces in audio, i.e. soft synths/effects. Though you will need to create your own extension to the markup and a subsystem that supports it in your OS, which in the end is not too complicated.

(Shameless self-plug as an example of an SVG-based GUI: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/magnetola-vintage-cassette/i...)

thom 5 days ago 2 replies      
Annoyances with SVG:

- Modularity is tough: you can nest <svg> or <g> elements with various transforms, but there's no first class layout concept.

- Pixel imperfections: browsers don't always render things 'nicely', and all sorts of horrid aliasing can happen.

- Styling options: all sorts of simple stuff like a double outline of a shape is really difficult (without extremely complex filters)

- Export: taking an SVG and exporting it as an image has lots of complications, especially with embedded fonts.

All that said, the output is mostly okay, and it's possibly the easiest graphical technology to integrate with React-style frameworks.

tofflos 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'd use it a bit more if I could style it with CSS without inlining the SVG source code within my HTML.
xnmvvv 5 days ago 0 replies      
The main problems I've experienced:

* SVG's performance degrades sharply after a few hundred objects, then you have to use canvas or WebGL, or prerender to images* browser differences

otherwise good

robszumski 5 days ago 0 replies      
As a designer using SVGs across the web, there are a few drawbacks that are easy to fix:

- platforms like Twitter and Google Slides not accepting SVGs. I assume this is due to security concerns.

- Using SVGs on a website doesn't render with included WebFonts like normal text would. This leads to outlining text, which is a huge maintainability burden.

- Graphics programs have tones of SVG bugs. Even "leading" software like Illustrator and Sketch have a lot of bumps in the road.

Overall really excited about SVGs and use them as much as possible.

Hyperized 5 days ago 0 replies      
We use SVG extensively at: https://fd.nl/krant
dahart 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm quite excited for SVG absolute positioning to become available in all browsers. It'll mean real responsive images, not just resizing, being able to move parts of the SVG instead of scaling proportionally, as the image is resized.
flatline 5 days ago 0 replies      
Generally I agree that SVG is awesome, but there are a variety of cross-platform issues with it and I worry it does not get enough serious use to see them addressed. The status quo is pretty good, but if you run into issues there is not always a work around.
wrong_variable 5 days ago 2 replies      
The issue that makes me not enjoy working with svg is the lack of negative scaling values. It makes it hard to do complex transformations on your vector widgets. Canvas is so much more better.
bradoyler 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is why d3-node is the way to go...https://www.npmjs.com/package/d3-node
aikah 5 days ago 1 reply      
The second example is supported neither in Edge nor in Firefox, that's the problem. Extremely poor SVG support accross browsers.
SFJulie 5 days ago 0 replies      
SVG? Wasn'it the new tech (10 Years after ARM) in 2000 that was supposed to be so wonderful it would be very easily adopted?

We are in 2016 ... ARM are still promising and SVG is still the new promising thing. Well, SVG has not taken a wrinkle, nor grown up a lot. It is still overpromising and complex.

Let me watch my backyard cristal balls for new innovations..

DCOM and RPC maybe? Oh, crumbs, it is called the cloud. All FW problems solved by using HTTP with cookies that are so safe.

I can't wait for the next new thing... GUI, Universal Display format (aka display postscript from NeXT), Xanadoo, XUL, sprites, linear framebuffers with blitters?

Park.io automating tasks to make $125k per month indiehackers.com
468 points by csallen  6 days ago   195 comments top 31
20years 6 days ago 4 replies      
I don't understand some of the negative comments here. This guy built a million dollar business in a year providing a service that people want to pay for. He did it all on his own with no other co-founders or employees. I say "Congrats!"
jondot 6 days ago 5 replies      
I might get downvoted for this, but here's a story.We just finished picking a brand name, after 2-3 months of intensive work.

Being fond of .io's I naivly googled my <brandname>.io, and found that park.io owns it - this happened last week. I immediately sent an email to inquire. We considered the price, and then when I came to buy it today, a week after, the price is tripled. This was a fixed price domain, NOT bid.

That's clever price manipulation. Detect when someone wants something, let it sit, and when they're ready - triple the price. Maybe that's a hint for how he made so much money? In any way we'll just do the get<brandname>.io or something like this, as a compromise. Thanks for being a douche, park.io!

And then, magically, this is now on HN :)

poorman 6 days ago 0 replies      
NIC.IO now has backordering. In order for park.io to continue being successful with landing and selling premium domains, he must be appraising the value of the domain and his chance of selling it in one of his auctions. Then weighing that against the NIC.io backorder price of 60EUR (67.35USD) + 60EUR registration fee and finally backordering it himself far enough in advance before someone else does (because only 1 backorder can be placed on NIC.IO).

Interview here: http://www.domainsherpa.com/mike-carson-parkio-interview/

throwawaysept 6 days ago 1 reply      
Mike Carson has put park.io up for sale. Asking price is $1.5M.


cjhanks 6 days ago 1 reply      
I find it shocking that you would post on HN; "Hey guys, I make $125k/mo making other peoples lives harder".

Given the way your current infrastructure is configured (vulnerabilities and all)... somebody could probably cost you ~$30-70k/mo in AWS resource utilization at a cost of ~$600/mo. The moment you park on the domain of someone who shares your internet ethics, that will be an interesting day for you.

simple10 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting S3 access denied errors.

Here's the cached version if you need it:https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:F0QdH3...

fixxer 6 days ago 0 replies      
This couldn't be more click baity if the title involved "this one weird trick".
obisw4n 6 days ago 1 reply      
Doh.. this guy recently came to me and swooped an up .io I owned. I gave it to him for what I paid for it thinking it was just an individual, should of asked for more lol.

/me facepalms

chatmasta 6 days ago 2 replies      
This thread is a great example of why not to publicize your revenue or internal systems.

At best, you'll get hate and resentment. At worst, you'll get hate, resentment, and a new competitor.

intrasight 6 days ago 1 reply      
He gives some good advice for indie developers if you manage to get over the "self-promotional" aspects of the article and read to the end.
dba7dba 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reading this article reminds me of a story that got me on the path of Linux, open source and away from Windows career path years ago.I was starting out my IT career as a Windows tech at a company. One guy that was obviously smart, Linux literate, and given a lot of responsibility at the company mentioned that he had scripted a tool to check constantly if a domain that he wanted became available or not. He wanted to make sure he grabbed it as soon as it became available.

It was the first example I saw of someone automating something with some scripting. Coming from Windows side, I was like what~~? Scripting can do that?

This was when Yahoo was the king. (I'm not THAT old).

The thing is this kind of scripting is NOT new. It was done before by others. But with proper execution, park.io is able to generate a million dollar a year. Good for him.

z3t4 6 days ago 0 replies      
this guy has found the secret recepy for making money: make a service for something where users direcly earn money or spend money. Then automate it in order to scale.
bambax 6 days ago 1 reply      
Slightlyy OT and probably nave: what is the attractiveness of the .io TLD? If the .com isn't available, why is .io more desirable than any other? Is there a hard reason or is .io just fashionable?
roflchoppa 6 days ago 1 reply      
lmao, man i liked when the term "hacker" was directed toward blackhats. This whole "im a hacker" gig is hilarious.
Tinyyy 6 days ago 4 replies      
I don't understand how this can survive in the long run - what's stopping someone else from setting up an identical service at lower prices? There is literally no lock in because users can sign up for multiple services and potentially pay a lower price (depends on which one snags the domain).

Or is the technology behind that unique?

white-flame 6 days ago 1 reply      
His main advice is to just "flow" on your own natural interests and success will come.

The problem is that many people's interests have zero business potential. As technical people, we tend to have pipe dreams about what computers could achieve. Lone wolf AI directions, weird functional programming styles, utilities based on incredibly niche processing, continuing retro computing interests, custom OSes, etc.

Sure, some people have interests that happen to align with a commercially exploitable audience, but "pursue your interest" is not a globally applicable direction to recommend starting a business venture. Flexibility within your interest will not help you swing a profit if your interest isn't widely shared.

imaginenore 6 days ago 0 replies      
mankash666 5 days ago 0 replies      
Remember when ticketmaster and their ilk bought, ahem bot, tickets within seconds of release, and then sold it to you at inflated prices. all while marketing it as a service to humanity?

Well, nothing different in this business plan either. Automating price gouging and domain squatting might be commercially viable and legal, but it isn't the right thing to do!

thinkMOAR 6 days ago 3 replies      
"so I wrote a script that checked the domain every second and sent me an email if it was available."

Whats the use of checking it _every second_ if you still need to manually act upon your email?

rrtwo 6 days ago 1 reply      
The interview mentions parked domains as the major lead generator... are those domain names owned by park.io or by its clients?
Quanttek 6 days ago 0 replies      
Just to clarify: Why does he call it "backordering"? I mean the domains didn't expire yet or does he park them?
econner 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why the .io domains for everything?
mbenson2147 6 days ago 0 replies      
For some reason the URL doesn't work unless I remove the '-1' at the end.
mef 6 days ago 1 reply      
His hn profile:


Other projects, including what appears to be an initiative to start a new religion? (http://consciousness.io/)


csallen 6 days ago 5 replies      
For those getting a 502, I'm working on the server, Elastic Beanstalk didn't scale fast enough >.<

Cached version here: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:F0QdH3...

Or if you refresh a few times, it should come up.

asdfologist 6 days ago 1 reply      
Jealousy and cognitive dissonance. This guy is more successful than them, so clearly he's done something bad.

Welcome to HN: home of the insecure narcissists who like to argue over programming languages, humblebrag about their gifted childhoods, and prove that they're superior to anyone more successful than them.

countryqt30 6 days ago 3 replies      
congratulations :)
asdfologist 6 days ago 2 replies      
FYI dang censored my comment about how HNers react to these stories with a jealous and insecure attitude:


hmans 6 days ago 2 replies      
Domain squatting as a service.
EGreg 6 days ago 1 reply      
So this guy is a domain squatter?

And all you need to do to become one is add a script? I always assumed there was special access to top tier domain snatchers or they had some sort of high-speed trading thing with a fast uplink.

paulpauper 6 days ago 5 replies      
You backorder the domain. If we get it and you are the only bidder, you pay $99 and the domain is yours.

lol then why bother paying $99. just pick it up from any registrar for $9 after it drops

Choose Firefox Now, or Later You Won't Get a Choice (2014) ocallahan.org
480 points by jonotime  6 days ago   294 comments top 56
moxie 6 days ago 8 replies      
What always strikes me about these pleas is how familiar they sound. They're reminiscent of all the things we "should" -- eat better, exercise more, lower our carbon footprint -- and I suspect they all see just about the same level of long term success.

Firefox did well when their only real competitor (MS) was actively trying to make their own browser bad in order to preserve the relevance of the desktop OS and their dominance in that area.

Now that they have a competitor (Google) which is actively trying to make their own browser good in order to increase the relevance of online services and their dominance in that area, Firefox hasn't fared so well.

I don't necessarily disagree with the author of this post, but it doesn't seem like moral high ground alone is going to make Firefox any more successful than the other things we "should."

What I wonder about is what larger systemic or structural shifts would have to occur for Firefox and the other "shoulds" of the world to have a chance.

apatters 6 days ago 2 replies      
This article convinced me personally to switch back to Firefox, but I'm disheartened by seeing a number of comments here which amount to "Firefox is fine," "Firefox is just as good," "The Foundation is fine," and so on.

That attitude is a recipe for shrinking market share. FF is competing against extremely well funded, extremely aggressive and competent competitors. You don't get to stop listening to the market in an environment like this. It will run you out.

indlebe 6 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who manages a 450-user IT department (academic), supporting roughly 50/50 BYOD/supplied computers, and staring at my stats, Firefox is the most reliable browser. We see %300 more problems with Chrome than Firefox.

Reading the comments my suspicion is that what shortcomings it does have affects the hacker news crowd a disproportionate amount more than usual, or affects the academic crowd disproportionately less

Perceptes 6 days ago 2 replies      
I generally agree with the sentiment here, but somewhat similar to using Linux over macOS, my experience has been that it's just a worse user experience in exchange for "doing the right thing." In the end, it's about how much you're willing to sacrifice convenience and user experience for an ethical ideal.

For me, the last time I attempted to switch from Chrome to Firefox, it drove me nuts after a few days because of one behavior: When you click a web link in another application, it opens it in your non-incognito (or whatever that's called in Firefox) window, even if the incognito window is the one on top. Instead, you have to copy the link from the other app, tab over to Firefox, and manually paste it into the incognito window. This is a flow I use many times a day, and having to do this workaround was really annoying. I found a thread about it on Firefox's issue tracker, but it was closed with a response that basically amounted to the developer telling the user that reported it, "this isn't a valid use case."

I may be able to switch back to Firefox when they implement that feature where each browser tab is essentially an isolated "incognito" context, which is really what I want. The distinction between "incognito" and "not incognito" windows has really just been a proving ground for the idea of concurrent browser sessions isolated from each other, which is a much overall solution to controlling your privacy on the web.

s9w 6 days ago 2 replies      
My neutral (?) view on firefox/chrome:

- Firefox uses way less RAM

- Chrome is usually faster/smoother, even if not by much. For very odd or intensive sites. And for things like dragging a tab into another window and how long it takes until inspect element loaded.

- Firefox has Tree Style Tab, Chrome doesn't and will never have. This alone makes FF the only usable browser for me

- I find the non-optional non-native and childish look of chrome silly

- Some google sites like the play store and youtube just work better on chrome

For me, I use FF because of the memory, the styling and Tree Style Tabs. And I hope they keep on fighting. I understand the chrome users though.

microcolonel 6 days ago 1 reply      
Chromium is actually a good browser. Until Servo picks up the technical slack, Mozilla will not have a browser I can afford to waste my time running. Firefox is completely unusable for me. The UI is slow, ugly, clunky, and complex. The rendering performance is abysmal. The extensions ecosystem has collapsed from a decade of API breakage, and now total deprecation. The organization is hostile and political because Mozilla lets people push their personal ideological agendas on foundation dollar.

Compared to Chromium, Firefox is a slow, confusing, incompatible security liability with no consistent wins. Even when they do uniquely good things (like the WebGL live shader editor) they are held back by the general inadequacy of the product.

No amount of pleading will change any of this.

anotheryou 6 days ago 1 reply      
I love the Firefox extensions! (I hope they will stay for a while, using tons of quite old extensions)

Extensions that have no even chrome extension:

- tree style tab: nested tabs on the side of the screen

- Imagus: elaborate image preview on mouse-over

- FF Rocker: click right+left for history back and the other way around for forward (there is a chrome extension, but it's no fun)

- grab and drag: I hold right click to scroll as if I was dragging the scroll bar handle (only works for single-core FF :/) (there is a chrome extension, but it's no fun)

- All-in-Sidebar: bookmarks, downloads etc in a sidebar

- tab grenade: store all open tabs in a link list and close them (might have a chrome equivalent)

- Link Alert: hover to see if you are going to an external page or pdf or image (might have a chrome equivalent)

- Vimperator/Pentadactyl: vim style shortcuts for everything, no more clicking. Currently both projects struggle to stay compatible with recent FF versions, can't recommend to switch to it now :/

viraptor 6 days ago 4 replies      
Unfortunately Chrome/ium has the best security story at the moment. Mainly due to good separation/sandbox. Firefox is only now catching up, slowly. So while I'd like to use FF, it's simply not a reasonable choice for me.
gbog 6 days ago 0 replies      
Keeping choices open for the future is one good reason to use Firefox. My main reason to use Firefox on all my devices is because it is much better than Chrome. It has more predictable behavior, it does not require to be connected to a major cloud, I can tweak it to my liking and I do, I can backup the configuration, and I can do advanced but necessary things such as "text reflow" on my phone.

I have switched back to Firefox one year ago, and never looked back.

anilgulecha 6 days ago 5 replies      
The only reason chromium is my primary browser is the developer tools (it's a pain to use Firefox for normal browsing, but Chromium for debugging.)

I can only hope for chrome's devtools to be ported to firefox. (firebug is close but slow).

nanis 6 days ago 1 reply      
You might want to point out this is from 2014.
raverbashing 6 days ago 1 reply      
Android is winning but the percentage that still use Apple is significant. Thank "the sheep" I guess...

The winners mentioned are the ones that require the most resources, so I guess they'll keep being that even with Bing, etc

I do use Firefox, sometimes it seems Chrome has more issues, sometimes it's FF, but I'd say they're pretty comparable (though FF has better dev tools builtin and it is easier to configure a proxy, because Chrome depends on a system config, which is not what I want to change usually)

the_duke 6 days ago 2 replies      
I never understood why Mozilla has allowed their main product and their only money maker to fall so far behind.

They have a lot of income.

I don't mind them going of on various edgy projects.

But FF has been inferior to Chrome for many years. They should really refocus their efforts to concentrate on delivering the best browser again, as it was before Chrome came along.

rvern 6 days ago 1 reply      
Chromium is free software too, but that does not justify any usage of Chrome. If you use Chrome, you can't justify it on Chromium being open source. As for Chromium itself, it is very obvious that it is not actually meant to be used by anyone: it has no stable releases, no binary downloads (except the nightlies published by the build system), and its website is hosted on nothing else than Google Sites.
free2rhyme214 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think the most effective way to get people to change browser habits, is through something compelling over a period of time. So far I don't find Firefox compelling enough nor this post. (Keep trying please, we really do need competition here)
fuzzy2 6 days ago 0 replies      
As much as I like Firefox, its not usable on my eco PC (Celeron N3150, 8 GB RAM). Chrome is.

Its really unfortunate that developers of many interesting products (or websites!) seem to be forgetting about CPU efficiency. The Atom editor is another example.

blubb-fish 6 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely believe that there is no way around the described future of Alphabet dominating the web sooner or later.

But I also believe that this is not going to be the end but instead will make it desirable again to create something new - there will be a new breed of hackers and power users creating new and alternative web based on P2P- and blockchain-technologies, meshed-networks ... I think it's going to be cool :)

(Though I'd be in favor of simply reducing Google's power - but that is simply not going to happen - no matter what browser I use and how many people I convince to use FireFox.)

robbrown451 6 days ago 0 replies      
I will switch back when it has what I need. Currently my biggest need that Firefox doesn't support is MIDI access (i.e. hook a digital "piano" to it and Javascript in a page can talk to it). It's been in development for who knows how long in Firefox, I'm not holding my breath.
cyberpunk 6 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I miss after switching Safari->FF (moved away from OSX) for regular browsing is that all 'incognito' tabs in safari are completely isolated from each other and share no cache, cookies, bla. This seems like a small thing and I barely noticed it at the time I switched TO safari for all non-devtools related tasks (battery and perf was better on my lappy) but now, I do miss it.

Otherwise, I've no probs with FF these days. 49 seems solid on BSD, at least.

anoplus 6 days ago 0 replies      
If money can help Firefox, I think the community needs to rethink crowdfunding. A crowdfunding system should be implemented and taken to a new level. I imagine a system where features/issues are organized and funded case by case in a way a simple person can "vote with the wallet" for the desired FireFox.

This is an idea for open source in generally. I know BountySource try to do it.

mrmondo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that this blog post is hosted on googles 'blogger' domain. Not that it means much, just that it's slightly ironic.
ccanassa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who doesn't seem to care about how much Google knows about my life? I am personally okay with the idea of giving away some information about my life in exchange for using some of their products (Search, Gmail, Chrome, etc) without paying anything.

Besides that, the more they know about me, the better their products get. I am personally thrilled when I open Google maps and it magically whos where I live, where I work, etc. It just makes my life easier.

I think this might be a cultural thing though, people from some third-world countries (like me) may not take privacy and freedom for granted.

j-pb 6 days ago 1 reply      
Firefox lost me when they conspired to kill WebSQL.They were the ones used the vast marked share they had to push the trendy thing of the day, namely nosql and IndexeDB, a technology which is bemoaned by web developers today.

I think the fact that there is another post about SQLite on the front page right now, attests that it would have been better to just standardise that. But then all those greenfield "spec hackers" wouldn't have had the fun of building cloud castles.

As a web developer and a browser user I'm tired of things not working. And if that means less options in terms of browsers I don't care as long as the browsers that are there give me a solid foundation to work with.

I'd rather have less options with more freedom of choice because all the different options are compatible and interchangeable, than many options but little choice, because their features sets are all disjoint and nothing is compatible.

warcode 6 days ago 2 replies      
Did Firefox fix their performance degradation over time yet?

Every time I try to switch back its fine for 2 weeks and then starts to get slower, like the internal database breaks or something. This is two weeks with 2-3 windows, with 5-20 tabs each, without restarts.

So far Vivaldi has been the best chrome replacement for me.

tbrock 6 days ago 2 replies      
I wish Mozilla would refocus efforts on making Firefox best in class again. It's been at least 5 years since Firefox was truly relevant.

Interest started to wane when Chrome's JavaScript execution blew it out of the water on release but continues to erode mindshare as the development tools languish.

BrendanEich 6 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised to see this on HN again.

BTW, Rob left in early March:


dman 6 days ago 1 reply      
This thread on reddit captures many of the reasons why I stopped using firefox - https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/3hugul/the_future_... . Extensions are what made firefox great for me, with the constantly evolving story for extensions over the years the community around building extensions appears to have dissipated.
fpoling 6 days ago 0 replies      
My primary browser is Brave with in-built ad-blocker because Mozilla does not want to ship ad-blocker with Firefox. As ads is the most likely vector of malware distribution channel, that means that safety of users stopped to be a priority for Mozilla unfortunately.
mikekchar 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm genuinely curious what the perceived threat is. I'm not happy about having a handful of browsers being dominant, but Chromium is legitimately free software. I'm very slightly worried that most people choose the Chrome branded version (which is not free-as-in-freedom), but there is so little between the two that I'm not sure it matters. V8 is forked into Node now so it would be pretty difficult to do horrible things even though Google controls the parent project.

The only thing that I can think of that seems like a risk is the amount of influence that Google has on things like whatever the replacement of CAs will be. But the situation is already so bad, it's hardly going to get worse.

oolongCat 6 days ago 0 replies      
I remember I used to be a huge fan of Firefox until a large sum of the plug-ins I had installed stopped working becuase the browser upgraded, this was several year ago and it was then I first decided to use chrome.

I used chrome for a long time, and I am now starting to slowly move back to firefox. One complain I now have about FF is it feels a bit sluggish compared to chrome when rendering web pages. The nightly build is however a lot better. (I am using ubuntu btw).


Another thing I wish ff works on is screen real-estate.


sebouh00 6 days ago 0 replies      
Chrome has a tab activated search feature for websites and custom search engines. This is super convenient and must for me. I honestly tried firefox for a month, but it wasn't as stable and I missed this feature.
blencdr 6 days ago 0 replies      
Even if I'm in web development I use Firefox on a day to day basis. When it comes to debug a large SPA Chrome has nicer features, but companies are not working for the commun benefit and Google is no exception.
starky 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was a long time user of Firefox, mostly because I despise how Chrome is so inflexible and has terrible interface design. Unfortunately, Firefox has continually gotten worse and worse over the last few years. I was tired of the browser slowing down over time, and extensions constantly breaking for no other reason but the fast release cycle.

I ended up switching to Vivaldi. Not only does it fix the majority of things I hate about Chrome, but it supports Chrome extensions which are good enough (but not as good as Firefox).

super_mario 6 days ago 2 replies      
Firefox was all about extensions and user control. But Mozilla has essentially decided to destroy their extensions eco system, and as a consequence lost me as their user and supporter.

I really loved and used Pentadactyl, but it's now gone and dead and so is Firefox as far as I'm concerned.

Steko 6 days ago 0 replies      
I keep Gmail and a couple other permanent logins open in Chrome and do 99% of my other browsing in Firefox.
justinlardinois 6 days ago 1 reply      
Question: In this future without Firefox, what becomes the default browser in Linux distributions? I won't claim that I know what every distro uses, but every one I've ever installed has had Firefox or some derivative of it included.
inian 6 days ago 0 replies      
The article is from 2014. Though I understand the sentiment, most of the facts are false now

IIRC, Chrome was using the FileSystem API which was supported only in Chrome - hence the partial support for offline functionality in Google docs..Only recently have the specs behind Persistent Storage API and Service workers have matured. I would love to see Google docs to make use of these APIs to make the functionality available across browsers.

Also, PNacl -> Web Assembly which Google has supported.

Of course Android OSes are going to ship with Chrome as a default browser - at least you have the choice of installing a different browser if you want to. Unlike Apple, where all browsers are forced to use the same JS engine provided by Apple.

Google has been pushing web standards for a long time now - instead of platform specific APIs and saying that the internet is going to be only accessible from Chrome is stretching it quite a bit..

barpet 6 days ago 0 replies      
I use Safari on Mac because it's good enough and I use Chrome anywhere else because I am used to it and it's also good enough.

I need simple,stable and fast. I do not really care about features or security at this point.

vamur 6 days ago 0 replies      
Gnome Web works great on Linux+Wayland now, apart from lack of 1080p on youtube. Meanwhile Firefox still does not work on Wayland and is generally slow on Linux and one has to enable multi-process flags to speed it up. And even then its speed barely compares to speed of Chromium or Gnome Web.

Given that this performance disadvantage is not new it is clearly caused by lack of focus and manpower. As a result Firefox usage continues to decline and they cannot compete with fast moving competitors like Chrome or Webkit. Mozilla should discontinue 32 bit, Windows XP+Vista, ESR releases, Flash/GTK2 support, other side projects like the HTML editor. That should free up enough focus/developer time for Mozilla to improve their core product.

yhylord 6 days ago 0 replies      
China will become the last shelter against Google's evil domination.
chiefalchemist 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'd use FF a lot more if it has multiple users as Chrome does. Without the ability to easily switch personas (read: projects) FF is a no go.
leksak 6 days ago 1 reply      
What does Chrome offer that FF cannot match currently? What kind of convenience improvements would you need to start using FF? Developer tools not withstanding.
Noughmad 6 days ago 1 reply      
After years of trying, it still looks very bad on KDE, and even worse with a custom color scheme. Fix that, and I'll switch immediately.
jplayer01 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's too bad Firefox becomes more terrible each year. Just today I was struggling with the god awful history sidebar.
b4xt3em4n 6 days ago 1 reply      
I stop use Firefox due to Brendan Eich story.
jay_kyburz 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody know if there is an Electron or NW.js for Firefox.

Also, when is Firefox going to let me style scrollbars?

rachkovsky 5 days ago 0 replies      
Firefox Reader View feature with audio narration is the best! And no other browser has it!
goalo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Most people I know that use iOS stay with Safari itself. They dont even install chrome.
known 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's an extreme pov; Since Chrome is Open source we need not worry :)
_Codemonkeyism 6 days ago 0 replies      
Switched to FF back some time ago (from Chrome).

Still a CPU and power hog on Windows 10.

But still love Tab Tree.

epse 6 days ago 0 replies      
But Firefox is soo slow on Linux...
cdelsolar 6 days ago 0 replies      
but i like Chrome
bilbobeer 6 days ago 2 replies      
andrewclunn 6 days ago 0 replies      
To all the Firefox apologists.

I'm a front end dev. I run linux. I also run chromium because it is a superior product to Firefox. The market agrees. Wake up. Want to win me back? Make Firefox better.

lightedman 6 days ago 0 replies      
We don't have a choice anyways - FireFox is now Chrome. Even if you don't have Chrome installed on your computer, the second you open FireFox, you'll see plenty of chrome processes spawning.
gremlinsinc 6 days ago 0 replies      
I can't take anyone serious who rants about google's marketplace dominion but can't seem to migrate from blogger to wordpress self-hosted. Sorry, it's just overly ironic, and it's also hard for me to take bloggers on blogger serious as there's a lot of crap blogs on there. Every dominant player eventually falls, Microsoft owned the browser, search, email, docs, and os back in 2000 -- now they're practically irrelevant.
Finance is Not the Economy unz.com
412 points by the-enemy  6 days ago   199 comments top 15
prostoalex 6 days ago 15 replies      
Mervyn King, formerly of the Bank of England, in "The End of Alchemy" has a great parable of an island populated by fishermen. It starts with a pretty basic need of financing the nets and boats to do the fishing, where the lender then gets slowly repaid with the fish caught.

At some point a finance person steps in and introduces a credit lending facility, which overall is a good thing for the health of the economy. Then, in decision to not take on too much risk, the said finance person offloads the loans in a securitized fashion to other wealthy islanders who then benefit from fishing booms and receive below average returns in years that are dry.

Then another finance person figures out the futures contracts, which act as insurance to fishermen and guarantee a reasonable price even at times of market over-supply.

At some point trading the loan securities and fishing future contracts starts paying more than humble fishing, which means that the best and brightest switch into finance, creating a stigma for fishing as less desirable occupation for under-achievers. Majority of island's GDP is now comprised of fishing-related loans and futures, with fishing itself occupying a relatively small niche.

This, of course, collapses at some point, but the problem is that it's hard to point out that one step that's completely irrational and bonkers - everything created by finance industry has found some demand among fishermen and simplified their lives.

ksar 6 days ago 4 replies      
"An economy based increasingly on rent extraction by the few and debt buildup by the many is, in essence, the feudal model applied in a sophisticated financial system."

The financial services sector adds value to society by providing mechanisms to diversify risk, price assets, and make capital available for productive uses.

These mechanisms are valuable, but are gamed to extract economic rents greater than their value to society. Extract too much, and you kill the underlying economy.

bawana 6 days ago 1 reply      
Money needs to be classified into two types- money derived from financial transactions and money derived from stuff - the exchange of goods/services. 'Financial' money should only be used for stuff. Only 'stuff' money should be used for finance. This would avoid the uncontrolled feedback loop that leads to financial money revving itself into a massive force that exceeds the real world on which it should be based.
YZF 6 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting read but I think it's just the same old "pushing on a rope" situation that people who have been following economic news are already familiar with.

The problem is that central banks are tasked with trying to solve something they are fundamentally incapable of solving on their own. They can QE or reduce rates until the end of time to try and stimulate growth but it has a limited effect on the real economy. Note that it does have some effect on the real economy so it's not completely useless but on its own it isn't good enough.

The players in the market, including both the finance system and individuals, take note of the low interest rates and just increase their leverage into bubbles. As the central banks keep pumping, so do those bubbles inflate. Why would anyone invest in productivity or infrastructure when the governments are signalling you will make a lot more money speculating on bubbles and we will keep backing you up in doing that. Cheap money is a double edged sword.

The real solution IMO is two-fold. First we must accept that at least right now we will not grow our economy as fast as we used to. Second is that rather than trying to stimulate the economy by QE and lower rates the governments should be investing in infrastructure and start normalizing rates (with respect to new realistic growth targets).

The crazy thing about all of this is that at a time governments should be borrowing like crazy (like everyone is doing) to finance their investments because it's so cheap to borrow they are trying to reduce their debt and expenses (with the extreme being "austerity"). Everyone else is acting fairly rationally except the governments.

EDIT: As some of you already know, there is a direct connection between interest rate expectations and asset pricing. So in a sense it is inevitable that the expectation of long term low interest rates will result in asset bubbles. If the long term rate expectation is zero then assets with any non-zero return should be valued at infinity, i.e. dividend stocks, houses etc. Central bankers are absolutely aware of this as they are aware that raising rates will cause asset prices to go down with all the implications. That's why they are stuck at the token 0.25% raise. If the US ever goes negative rates then you'll know we're in real trouble.

xapata 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's not surprising that interest income has been reclassified from rent to natural profit. One only needs to consider who is doing the classification to understand it.
jackgavigan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, when the central banks are so scared of the implications of letting companies fail that they start propping them up through QE, it's probably safe to say that Finance is the Economy.
musgrove 6 days ago 2 replies      
Most people don't even realize economics is a social science, not a business discipline. Business schools don't issue economic degrees, even. But whatever. This country thinks it's full of experts on everything if they have an internet connection.
ivan_ah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Related: a very interesting visualization that shows all the "money" in the world: http://money.visualcapitalist.com/all-of-the-worlds-money-an...
yuhong 6 days ago 1 reply      
Thinking about it, the 1930s Great Depression was after a US trade surplus. Today US have a trade deficit. If the banks actually failed in 2008-2009 and caused another depression, it would be probably harder to recover from.
stana 6 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't the finance industry in conflict between supporting stable growth of 'real' economy by providing capital vs. their ability to gain during volotile times. Or can someone enlighten me why they are so oblivious to asset bubbles, with no effort to restrain borrowing in a particular bubbly asset, unless volatility is seen as no issue - or even an opportunity.
heisenbit 6 days ago 1 reply      
We can't control what we don't measure. For better or worse it is a time honored tradition to optimize for that measurement. It generally leads to fast improvements until the system is gamed to a degree that measurement and reality decouple.
jokoon 6 days ago 1 reply      
I remember someone saying that finance is about the future, accounting is about the past.
macawfish 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'll push this one step further and say The Economy is not the ecology.
jnordwick 6 days ago 7 replies      

I tried to read this article, but sometimes it degrades into an incoherent string of words that barely make any sense.

Here is a random sentence where I stopped reading: "By viewing capital gains as transfers instead of as income, we define the long-term sustainability of capital gains and asset prices in terms of trends in disposable income plus debt growth."

It's half gibberish to me. People think because they can sprinkle citations it makes it well written.

neffy 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's really the operating system - and the network.
Let 'localhost' be localhost ietf.org
383 points by sohkamyung  4 days ago   114 comments top 23
inopinatus 4 days ago 7 replies      
Isn't there a problem here? This draft says:

IPv4 loopback addresses are defined in Section 2.1 of [RFC5735] as "".

That's not perfectly true. RFC5735 defines 127/8 as loopback addresses, but it leaves the door open for other addresses to be assigned to the loopback interface. And indeed doing so is a common pattern for network devices, and a less common (but very useful) pattern for services.

So let's say I've assigned to a device loopback interface, I'm announcing it in my IGP, and I've bound a particular service to listen on Should the local resolver library be allowed to return for servicename.localhost? Under this draft's (re)definition of loopback addresses, definitely not. So now we've lost that symbolic way to configure a service consumer to connect locally. You're left inventing workarounds such as your own namespace for loopbacks, or changing the service to also bind to, say,

I also find it curious that this draft allows only address queries (presumably A and AAAA) under .localhost. I'd like to know the rationale for that restriction. For example, there may well be applications that only use SRV records.

Unnecessary restrictions can have unexpected & unknowable consequences. "Tools not policy".

lambda 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have had a number of customers who have broken our applications, which have daemons listening on localhost, by editing their /etc/hosts files and removing the localhost entry. I guess various people edit /etc/hosts to prevent applications from talking to licensing servers, and in the process happen to accidentally blow away the localhost entry (since these customers don't know what they're doing). We had this happen enough that we eventually stopped using "localhost" and started using in our code.
byuu 4 days ago 3 replies      
Nice! I'm very much in favor of this change.

I develop my webserver locally, and it has many subdomains. So I have "www.localhost", "files.localhost", "doc.localhost", etc.

I have to add each subdomain to my /etc/hosts file before I can use it, as you can't have wildcards in that file. And even then, if I type a new one into Chromium, it will try and redirect me to a Google search result, unless I prefix the whole thing, eg "http://doc.localhost/"; once I do that and it connects, then the Omnibar will match the actual localhost entry easily going forward.

This should help anyone in a similar situation of testing their server with subdomains on localhost.

josegonzalez 4 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe someone should standardize internal TLD(s) for corporate and other use cases that would make developers less sad, as at least they have alternatives.
amingilani 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just so we're clear. All these domains would just go away?


im4w1l 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm overthinking this, but wouldn't a better solution be to say that server1.localhost doesn't have to be loopback, but that it must be resolved by asking the DNS server at localhost (or alternatively defined in the hosts file).

edit: I don't really have any expertise or experience with this at all, just a thought.

zrm 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like the problem with doing this is that there are multiple localhost IPs. If it was as simple as "every A query for [any].localhost is, every AAAA query is ::1" then it would be one thing, but the A query could also be etc.

So for example this would mean that if I put an entry for "server5.localhost" in my local DNS server then that entry can't be used, because the client's local resolver API will match *.localhost and it now "MUST NOT send queries for localhost names to their configured caching DNS server(s)" so it likely returns instead of

xg15 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think for non-DNS experts (like me) it's important to know that in DNS terminology, the notation "tld." is used to donate top-level domains. (Note the trailing period)

So ".localhost." means "every domain within the 'localhost' tld", not "every domain that contains the string 'localhost'".

andreareina 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is there an actual case to be made for pointing localhost to anything other than the loopback device?
bjackman 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not very networking-wise, got a question: is the "local machine" alwyas a well-defined thing? I'm thinking about stuff like where hosts are transparently distributed. Maybe there are systems out there that take advantage of resolving localhost to other than 127.* in order to make applications easy to transparently migrate when scaling servers out, or something?
Steeeve 4 days ago 1 reply      
On a related note, few things annoy me more than when my browser updates localhost to www.localhost.com.
0x0 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are several "localhost.<tld>" domains in the wild today. What happens to those?
yeezul 4 days ago 1 reply      
What if I develop something on localhost, and two months later I decide I want to test/implement a feature on Android/iOS.

Do I have to remap my whole localhost development in order to be able to access my localhost from a tablet?

noja 4 days ago 0 replies      
What happened to localdomain?
mobiuscog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't we just define 'loopback' instead ?
devnull42 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a bad idea. It seems to be solving for a problem that doesnt exist while introducing the potential for issues. If you want to prevent latency or lookups localhost should just live in the hosts file.
rburhum 3 days ago 0 replies      
The folks at Tucows are going to get pissed off ;) https://who.is/whois/localhost.com
bsimpson 3 days ago 1 reply      
How would this affect Chrome on Android, which allows you to redirect localhost requests from a phone to access localhost on the computer it's tethered to?
gant 4 days ago 2 replies      
I always thought it made sense to address local VMs with .localhost domains in my hostsfile. Apparently not?
conjectures 4 days ago 0 replies      
Has Theresa May got a role in the IETF as well? :)
Aeolun 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Implementation Considerations: This change would make developers sad [...]"

Sad panda.

But it makes total sense.

rgacote 4 days ago 2 replies      
And please make it and not ::1. I've found several instances where localhost resolved to ::1.
bcoates 4 days ago 1 reply      
-1 from me. 'localhost' is an artifact of a model of network computing that is no longer relevant; it's a special case of the general antipattern of network-topology sensitive design.

Back in the bad old days only a single user on a physical computer could log into a windows domain, because it was possible look up what user (singular) was on a host. Of course domain logins were also exquisitely sensitive to the nature of the network between client and server as well. It was a nightmare. Localhost is a product of that kind of thinking.

One-per-host resources that have to be shared across all users, security perimeters, vms, containers, etc. are an unwelcome headache. Of course, real systems don't actually share a localhost between all of these things, resulting in the even goofier concept of "which localhost do you mean?" That question was exactly why site-local addressing was deprecated from ipv6 https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3879

An actually portable standard for resolving well-known local entities would be great, but more special cases to try to fix the doomed localhost idea is a move in the wrong direction.

Pixels and voxels, the long answer medium.com
431 points by stevetrewick  4 days ago   102 comments top 13
danbruc 4 days ago 12 replies      
A Pixel Is Not A Little Square, A Pixel Is Not A Little Square, A Pixel Is Not A Little Square! (And a Voxel is Not a Little Cube) [1]

[1] http://alvyray.com/Memos/CG/Microsoft/6_pixel.pdf

artursapek 4 days ago 1 reply      
A couple years ago I went to a small demo of a hologram machine called the Voxiebox[1] at a bar in Brooklyn. One of the prototype demos[2] was a voxel game called Voxatron[3] in real 3D. I was in an audience of maybe 5-10 people and the prototype machine was a little crude, but it felt like I was getting an early glimpse into the future of computers and gaming. The applications for this kind of tech are exciting to think about.

Until that night I hadn't even imagined that holograms would ever become a reality, and I had also never heard of voxels. It really made an impression on me. I hope they succeed in making their machine viable for consumers because I could tell how passionate they are about it, and how hard they've been working.

[1] http://www.voxiebox.com

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs09W0FMQEo

[3] http://www.lexaloffle.com/voxatron.php

DocSavage 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, that is a very long answer to the original question of pixels vs voxels. A pixel is a picture element (2d) and a voxel is a volume element (3d).

Also, it's not necessary to take the displayed path, i.e., triangulate a voxel-based representation then use vector-oriented rendering methods to get the displayed image. There have been lots of work rendering a 2d display by ray tracing through voxel space or even directly splatting voxels into display space.

A lot of research has been directed into efficient representations for large collections of voxels. One really cool sparse volume system, OpenVDB, was open sourced by DreamWorks: http://www.openvdb.org/. Nvidia has papers on sparse voxel octrees that work very well on GPUs: https://research.nvidia.com/publication/efficient-sparse-vox...

bottled_poe 4 days ago 2 replies      
As a software engineer, voxel engine development has unique appeals to me over traditional 3D game engines. It's something about the power you have to define the entire game environment so simply but precisely I guess. Shameless plug - I released a game called Voxelvoid last year which uses a voxel engine (Voxatron was a significant inspiration). I've been developing the engine a lot since then, maybe I'll blog about it at some point. It's still a side project for now though.
projektir 4 days ago 5 replies      
I can't take my eyes off of that "3D low-poly" racetrack thingy. So pretty.

I wonder how far someone could get with that artstyle in general, I haven't seen it that often. There was that RTS game that used it, forgot the name..

pasta 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pixels and voxels are just coordinates in 2d and 3d space.

They can also contain meta information, like color and transparency.

To represent pixels or voxels on a screen you need to to render and interpolate them. Because, if you have an image of 4 pixels that you would like to show on a screen with 1080 leds, you need to interpolate the meta data between those pixels.

devindotcom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article and nicely selected illustrations, super glad I read this. Nice trip down memory lane (Delta Force!), and also looking forward to some of these upcoming games.
wrong_variable 4 days ago 3 replies      
In my younger days, I used to play around with software like maya.

The best thing about voxels is what you can do with fluid simulations.

In Maya you could create a cube made up of voxels, each voxel had a fuel, temperature etc variables.

You could start a fire from a single voxel, and watch is spread ! Changing the values could make the fire behave differently.

I wish front-end javascript was that cool :( fire simulation on a computer is so much more fun.

fryguy 4 days ago 2 replies      
I would say the only thing this slightly misses is the pseudo-3d models that Wolfenstein/Doom used. It got the terrain part, but not the somewhat clever thing where the characters were a series of 8 or so sprites that changed which one it displayed based on orientation.
erikb 4 days ago 2 replies      
So, would you say Minecraft is a Polygon based game or a Voxel based game?
mgalka 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great post! Clear, thorough explanation and fun read.
acz 4 days ago 0 replies      
They mentioned Vangers!
Joof 4 days ago 3 replies      
Why did I stop pursuing game dev?
Dropbox Hasn't Learned Their Lesson sethvargo.com
511 points by rcarmo  18 hours ago   174 comments top 38
aban 16 hours ago 10 replies      
For folks looking for a Dropbox alternative, I recommend Syncthing [0].

Syncthing is a free software (MPL-2.0) cross-platform [1] and decentralized peer-to-peer file synchronization utility with end-to-end encryption, and with support for relaying [2].

Check out their getting started guide [3].

[0]: https://syncthing.net[1]: https://docs.syncthing.net/users/contrib.html[2]: https://docs.syncthing.net/users/relaying.html[3]: https://docs.syncthing.net/intro/getting-started.html

newhouseb 16 hours ago 8 replies      
Hi folks, Ben from Dropbox on the desktop client team --

This is an experiment that is being tested with a fraction of users primarily on beta releases (which Seth is on, as evidenced by the version number in his screenshots). We havent shipped it to everyone so that we can continue to iterate and incorporate feedback. I checked with the team about the Finder Toolbar drop down and it looks like it requires a restart of the Dropbox client in order to take affect let us know if that doesnt work.

tdkl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
To sum the post up to avoid this in the future :

- OP needed to state he used the beta release, which are prone to be in an unfinished state,

- Dropbox needs to be more transparent about their releases, with including proper changelogs (they're only stating "bug fixes and optimisations" in the Dropbox forum). If you're adding/changing the UX in some way, document it. If you want a feature to be developed discretely, make a private beta, but still - document it.

It's an opportunity to learn something from this.

xxpor 17 hours ago 3 replies      
>If you were any other company, you would be liable for a lawsuit for hacking. Please stop using your position as a company to hack our systems.

This post is full of ridiculous hyperbole, and it really detracts from the actual message.

xenadu02 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Dropbox still refuses to answer why their client takes up a ton of CPU anytime there is IO on the system. It seems like they are monitoring ALL filesystem activity, not just the Dropbox folder. What they are doing with that data I have no idea.

They prompt continuously for access to Accessibility and the "control other applications" permission, no matter how many times you deny it.

As soon as I finish this project (where I need access to Dropbox) I'm uninstalling it.

peterbsmith 17 hours ago 5 replies      
Just putting this here so that the Dropbox employees who inevitably read this can be aware: I've used dropbox for 5+ years, and as a paid user at that. Today I deleted dropbox because of the recent shenanigans and bad press as well as because there is a lot of high quality competition in the synced file storage space that I can turn to.
ummjackson 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is just blatantly false... the setting to disable the feature works after you've restarted Dropbox, just as the UI tells you to. Proof: https://twitter.com/ummjackson/status/782387668713771008/pho...

I'm toolbar free and it was a very minor inconvenience - not worth a rant-filled blog post like this.

hendzen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Next up - Dropbox starts conditionally disabling features if it detects that the user is a developer (i.e. XCode is installed or Terminal.app is in the list of running processes).
new299 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I said this last time but it bares reiterating:

Dropbox circumventing security restrictions is particularly worrying because they have board members who support warrentless surveillance.

In my mind Dropbox became a company not worth supporting when Rice joined Dropbox's board (http://www.drop-dropbox.com/). Personally, with a board member who advocates warrentless surveillance it seems unlikely that we share similar views on the security of my data, and I wont be using their service.

IMcD23 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I see in the screenshot of the settings at the bottom "Finder Toolbar" set to On. Is that not how you disable this?
laurentdc 17 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure why people still use Dropbox besides inertia.

I mean, it's not even competitive on the pricing. 1 TB @ 9.99$/mo while Microsoft gives you the whole Office suite plus 1TB of OneDrive at less than that.

TeMPOraL 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Kill the messenger, eh?

If Dropbox really, to quote 'SilasX, "broke the entire permission model, where I can no longer trust the sandbox boundaries" - well, the cat's out of the bag, Apple's sandbox model sucks. You should bring it up with Apple so that they fix it (either allow proper extensions or just patch up the hole and brick Dropbox in the process).

apatters 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Another area where Dropbox seems to be slipping is customer support. DB stopped working on one of my machines after an unscheduled shutdown. Submitted a ticket along with a thorough description of the problem and error log, and after nearly a week the only response I've had was an automated reply that I should disable antivirus programs. This being an Ubuntu desktop, I don't have any AV installed.

This company gets $120/yr from me and they can't answer a support ticket? There have many competitors who charge less and I bet some of those competitors actually support their paying customers. You are looking at one soon-to-be-ex-customer unless DB pulls a rabbit out of their hat very soon.

daenney 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That little overlay on the site that tells you how many minutes of reading you still have left I find infuriating. It disappears the second I stop moving and gets right in the way when I start scrolling. Especially when you increase the font a bit b/c eyes and it's no longer confined to an empty column on the right of your screen.
MitchellCash 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If not Dropbox, what solution are others turning to?

I recently signed up for Sync.com, due to their prioritisation of security features and they seem like a good company. I have come across some minor bugs, but I sent these onto their customer support who were reasonably responsive. Even with these minor bugs I'm still happy with the trade-off to move off Dropbox.

I must admit the most difficult part was definitely the services I used that directly integrate with Dropbox, like 1Password syncing. So I also had to find solutions to not just Dropbox, but also third-party services that integrated. For 1Password, I signed up for their Account option where they handle the syncing for you at a cost of $2.99 per month. Again, another trade-off I was happy to make.

Zekio 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is just like stuff that adds itself to right click menu in windows without asking during install
brian-armstrong 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if you can remove the overlay somehow, you still can't remove Condoleezza Rice from Dropbox's board, which should be plenty of reason to avoid it entirely.
joshmanders 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Dang, I've always been a fan of Dropbox, but after upgrading from El Capitan to Sierra I opted to completely cut Dropbox out of my tools used, as I only ever used it hold an archive of documents I wanted to keep but don't interact with often (Such as license files for software and online receipts for things like tickets bought and stuff) and opted for using iCloud Desktop & Documents.
ethanbond 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's remarkable that they have such a stellar product design team but push out stuff like this.
peternicky 15 hours ago 1 reply      
After learning about their mac client backdoor, I removed all their software from my devices and stopped using the service. I'd suggest everyone do the same and use the web interface if you absolutely need to consume or share with other parties who still use them.
fixmycode 17 hours ago 1 reply      
We're still waiting on an answer of how does Dropbox do this without Accessibility. What happens when every other service wants to start putting toolbars on my finder?
HaoZeke 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I say people haven't learnt their lesson of they're still on macs.
immigrantsheep 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Listening to these comments one would think Dropbox is the worse company in the universe and we have a thousand alternatives. But then time goes by and people are still using dropbox and nobody talks about the alternatives.

Another point is, you're using someone else's drive somewhere in the cloud and storing there (more or less) sensitive files and you're talking about privacy and security? Gimme a break.

Third and last, if you're that unhappy with a piece of software that's for the most part free, go ahead and pick something else. Nobody's forcing you. Same goes for Windows, Office, Gmail and whatnot.

Grom_PE 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I removed Dropbox from my Windows computer as soon as they started to include a minifilter driver with new versions.


I don't believe a program needs to integrate so deeply into the system just to sync the files.

gcr 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Does the author not see the "Finder toolbar: On" option in their own screenshot? And they claim it can't be disabled?
bbarn 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I gave up on drop box long ago, but someone in my company uses a paid version of it for some reason still, and group policy means it's on my windows machine. I made the mistake of plugging my phone into my work PC to charge it recently and got a lovely little attempt to get me to back up my photos from my phone - so I don't lose my memories! which caused me to promptly circumvent corporate policy via my buddy working in helpdesk and uninstall it.

I don't understand why, once already installed, they are trying to get me to use it more. They won't make more money will they? Are they using this as a way to get me to get close to a limit and upgrade?

zwetan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I completely uninstalled dropbox desktop client and replaced it with expandrive [0] which I was already using for mounting drives trough SSH

[0]: http://www.expandrive.com

chtfn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm I wonder what the author means by: "Aside from the fact that this banner looks like something free software would install as a toolbar, [...]"

As alternives, depending on your requirements, I recommend SpiderOak, SyncThing, or a third-party offering / your self-hosted Nextcloud.

ryanmccullagh 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Question about Dropbox. Since their product uses open source software, that means they use non GPL licensed open source software, correct?
iamleppert 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I use sshfs (FUSE on mac) with a mount point on a small instance that has mounted my S3 bucket. Files get transferred to the server and eventually make it to s3.

If you have a little time, you don't need Dropbox at all. And you can't get much cheaper than raw S3.

qwertyuiop924 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't used Dropbox in forever. If you really need sync, SyncThing's your best bet, but all I really needed was access to all my files from anywhere.

SSH and Git work pretty well for that.

I'll take a trusted piece of open source sofware with strong security running on my own server (openSSH) over a magic pocket any day.

Exuma 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Did they literally just remove it as fast as they added it? I have 11.4.21 and it's not there, and it also has no 'finder toolbar' in settings.
mcarrano 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I have not had dropbox installed on any of my devices for a few years now. I still have files in dropbox but that is mostly files from when I was in college.
benologist 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Same company that endlessly lies about getting unlimited space for an extra $2.50/month.
lolahaha 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is more of a design problem than an engineering problem. Dear Dropbox Design Team, please get your shit together.
duncan_bayne 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm using SyncThing ( https://syncthing.net/) to synchronise files between my systems (Linux and Android) and it's great. No complaints so far.
bogomipz 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"The only way to disable this this is to completely quit Dropbox"

I went ahead and disabled it a few months ago.

B1FF_PSUVM 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Dropbox will never learn their lesson if it's not in their interest (cf. Upton Sinclair).

For instance, client side encryption? Mwahahaha. Studiously ignoring that for the better part of a decade, why change now?

Valuation is OK, ain't it? Doing fine, then.

Defending Against Hackers Took a Back Seat at Yahoo, Insiders Say nytimes.com
357 points by apetresc  4 days ago   317 comments top 40
luso_brazilian 4 days ago 19 replies      
From the article:

> The "Paranoids," the internal name for Yahoos security team, often clashed with other parts of the business over security costs. And their requests were often overridden because of concerns that the inconvenience of added protection would make people stop using the companys products.

That's the best summary of the problem for the industry as a whole, not only tech but any industry where failures are uncommon but with grave consequences.

A quote from Fight Club that illustrates that problem:

> Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall?

> Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X.

> If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

That's the current mindset of the technological world, estimating whether the cost of atoning for the problem is lower than the cost of securing the systems.

darklajid 4 days ago 7 replies      
Funny timing. My in-laws (both 70+) just had to change their passwords (both using @yahoo.de email addresses) and my mother in law probably botched it / managed to type the wrong thing twice or something.

Password reset requires 2 security questions (ugh - already ugly) and while she's 100% certain that she knows the answer to both the second one isn't accepted - probably another spelling issue (think St. Marlo vs. St Marlo vs. Saint Marlo vs. Sankt Marlo vs ..).

All of this is her fault, not yahoo's. But now she's stuck. There are no ways to contact support, at all, and by now her 'resolve this problem' links already contain a "In rare cases like these, we suggest creating a new account" line.

Anecdotal moral of the story: Yahoo has no customer support at all. Migrate your elder family members away while you still can. :)

apeace 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can relate to a company not putting value on security, or thinking the cost of securing systems may be higher than the cost of getting hacked.

I once worked for a company where I inherited a RESTful API. It stored the company's core data, including private customer information. It had no authentication, completely open for anyone on the internet to read or update any of our data.

I alerted my manager about this and that made its way to the highest levels of the company. The decision was to create a backlog item. It took about a year before we got to it.

The reason we ended up finally fixing it was because we were contacted by a security researcher one day. He said he had found a vulnerability in our system, but wouldn't tell us what it was until we disclosed our bug-bounty terms (basically promising to pay him if he had found a real vulnerability). If we wouldn't do this, he was going to write a blog post about it.

My manager used some delay tactics to buy us some time, while we spent the next 24 hours slapping a bandaid on the API. Once we had fixed it and agreed to pay the researcher, he disclosed his vulnerability and it had nothing to do with our API. It was a minor XSS that couldn't leak any sensitive information.

chollida1 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wrote a few days ago about how easy it is to compromise your ethics when trying to save a company. The problem is that once you compromise once, its very easy to do it again.


The problem is, it's way too easy to look past the action you are taking because you can talk yourself into believing its for the greater good.

And this is a huge ethical breach by Mayer, if she did this way back then, it's pretty reasonable to assume there are some more skeleton's hiding in the closet.

I don't really think I'd be wanting to give Verizon a reason to reconsider the takeover......

tptacek 4 days ago 2 replies      
I am not sure what end-to-end encryption would have done to defend Yahoo's users against the entity that broke in and hoovered up its databases. Similarly: the password reset situation is sad (understandable --- it would have cost them millions of users at a point where their declining user base was being carefully watched by the market --- but infuriating) but again, what difference would it have made with respect to the most recent breach?

There are just a few companies in the whole world who both run tens of thousands of servers and are equipped to go head to head with serious attackers. Yahoo isn't one of them. Has it ever been? No.

StavrosK 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can I just inject some perspective and say that the question would (should?) have gone something like this?:

"So we got 500 million passwords stolen. We're using bcrypt with an adequate number of rounds, so we only anticipate 1000 of those passwords ever being broken. Should we issue a mass reset?"

It's never black and white, you have to weigh things against each other.

jgrahamc 4 days ago 5 replies      
Referring to the infosec team as "paranoids" is a really bad idea. I have our infosec team report into me and they terrify me on a regular basis but they are not paranoid. They worry, the poke around, they find stuff and they fix it.
CaptainZapp 4 days ago 8 replies      

 At Yahoo, we have a deep understanding of the threats facing our users and continuously strive to stay ahead of these threats to keep our users and our platforms secure, 
Why do I always get the almost unresistable urge to yell at my flat screen whenever a corporate spokesdrone opens his or her mouth?

Is the ability to talk plattitude-gibberish a requirement for such a job?

blakesterz 4 days ago 3 replies      
>>"...said the company spent $10 million on encryption technology in early 2014..."

What does that mean, exactly? Is it really possible to spend $10 million on encryption or is that some kind of marketing spin on things? I'm genuinely curious about this.

at-fates-hands 4 days ago 1 reply      
Its the same issue since Grog tried to hide the first rock from Og:

The Paranoids, the internal name for Yahoos security team, often clashed with other parts of the business over security costs. And their requests were often overridden because of concerns that the inconvenience of added protection would make people stop using the companys products.

Infosec is never easy, and part of making things secure is that you give up conveniences for peace of mind. It's 2016 and I'm still a but surprised that people willingly open themselves and their data to hackers in lieu of stock holders and customer retention. It's unreal when you stop and think about it.

tlogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
If Yahoo end up being successful like, for example, Slack or Dropbox these security issues will not be at all discussed here.

I did not see any outrage when Slack security issues back in May 2105 [1]: majority of people were saying "but it is great software". Dropbox the same.

So Yahoo did a similar bet as all other companies (focus on features - we will fix security latter) but they lost that bet.

[1] http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/slack-hack-need-know-collaborat...

droopybuns 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perlroth is gawker themed Krebs wannabe. Everyone involved in this story should be ashamed for helping fuel an unsourced article that is purely CYA for the former security team. Shame.
__jal 4 days ago 0 replies      
The iron cliches:

- Security is a process, not a product.

- You always pay for security. Up front, after the compromise, or both, if you're unlucky or bad at your job.

robertelder 4 days ago 0 replies      
If Yahoo had indeed positively identified the breach to have originated from a 'state-sponsored actor', it is possible that their thinking was something along the lines of "Resetting the passwords wouldn't help us much anyway against someone with so many resources."

Of course, I'm just speculating based on what I see in news reports. Perhaps the 'state-sponsored' actor was just PR spin to save face? I really just don't know what to think.

rdiddly 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Mr. Bonforte said he resisted the request because it would have hurt Yahoos ability to index and search message data to provide new user services. 'Im not particularly thrilled with building an apartment building which has the biggest bars on every window,' he said."

How about an apartment building where everybody's shit keeps gets stolen then? Everybody tries like hell to move out, and the only tenants left are those with no place else to go. Which on the internet is nobody.

tracker1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped using Yahoo the first time I setup an account for a friend and they were already on Yahoo's spam email reseller list faster than I could disable the opt-out setting. There was spam waiting in the inbox on an email account less than 5 minutes old.

I appreciate some of what they've done for the larger community, but decisions like that which make users take such a distant backseat to the bottom line make me not want to be a yahoo user ever again.

natch 4 days ago 1 reply      
If this is true it taints Marissa and any business that hires her in the future, because it's hard to think of a more stark example of putting the interests of the user last.
amelius 3 days ago 0 replies      
See also: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12563798


> Whenever mega-hacks like the Yahoo! fiasco hit the news, inevitably the question gets asked as to why the IT security systems weren't good enough. The answer could be that it's not in a company's financial interest to be secure.

mathattack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google hired hundreds of security engineers with six-figure signing bonuses, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in security infrastructure and adopted a new internal motto, Never again, to signal that it would never again allow anyone be they spies or criminals to hack into Google customers accounts.

Wow! Security starts at the top!

erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reality check: Security (especially IT security) takes a back seat in 90% of businesses. The only exceptions are corps who gain significant power over govs and users by being secure (I think Google and Facebook here), and when regulations require a corp to do some kind of security fundamentals then these are applied as necessary to avoid fines.
topspin 3 days ago 0 replies      
That begs the question; what was in the front seat? Has Yahoo achieved anything of note since the 90's?
wiremine 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a big fan of regulation, but it feels like there is very little _internal_ motivation for a place like Yahoo to take security seriously.

Not sure what the solution is, but unless there is a financial reason to create, I don't think we'll see much change.

sidcool 4 days ago 2 replies      
Things are not going so well for Marissa. She's a technical person and should have known better.
bwb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind shit like this is what happens when people get fired and blame management, rumors & shit get started like this. We don't know the real story.
intrasight 3 days ago 0 replies      
Companies should have a Chief Risk Officer who have a big component of their bonus based upon the success of their risk management strategies.
dumbfounder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Newsflash: struggling company doesn't spend time and effort on things that don't directly make them money.
utefan001 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just returned from DerbyCon. An amazing security conference that covers both attack and defense. All talks are on youtube. Here is a good summary of the powershell talks. Really good stuff.


b1gtuna 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google hired hundreds of security experts with 6 figure bonus... Is this kind of bonus norm in the Valley?
crudbug 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting how internal politics works. Breach news coming right after aquisition. Blame the new owner.
chenster 4 days ago 2 replies      
How did they know it's the "Chinese military hackers" who's behind the attack?
tn13 3 days ago 0 replies      
The way Yahoo! has been running I think their front seat is completely empty.
arviewer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Marketing by deception... It's postponing the inevitable.
omouse 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cannot wait for the class-action suit, I wonder if everyone across the world can join if it's based in the U.S. or if they would need to create class-action suits in their home country.
gist 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Google hired hundreds of security engineers with six-figure signing bonuses

Who left jobs working at other places and in theory left them more vulnerable and drove up the costs for hiring as well.

CrankyBear 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never would have guessed!
informatimago 4 days ago 6 replies      
Can anybody cite a single one good decision Marissa Mayer took?Honestly?!
w1ntermute 4 days ago 4 replies      
aswanson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does Twitter seem to take security seriously?
jrochkind1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't even read the article, but based on headline I'd say "AND 99% of ALL companies EVERYWHERE." The headline makes it seem like this is an unusual thing.

Nothing is secure, anywhere. A few companies actually prioritize it. Very few.

And I truly think the economy could not bear the cost if everyone actually tried to prioritize security above all else.

drzaiusapelord 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is incredible. Hiding a breach like this is bad enough but to not even forcing password resets should be criminal. I think we're living in an age where information security is still in the cowboy stage of things. I think we're due for some tough regulations here. Clearly businesses do not have our interests in mind and in these cases our interest will conflict with theirs.
Appropriate Uses for SQLite sqlite.org
412 points by ftclausen  6 days ago   253 comments top 33
danso 6 days ago 4 replies      
I teach SQL to non-techie students. I used to give the the option of doing either MySQL or SQLite, but not only did I underestimate how different the syntaxes were, I also underestimated how not-trivial it is for students to successfully install and run both the MySQL server and client. These are students who can't even use a spreadsheet well, not that that makes a huge difference in understanding databases.

I've moved everything to SQLite and couldn't be happier. Not only is it easier to distribute assignments (e.g. a single SQLite file, instead of CSVs that need to be manually imported), it does everything I need it to do to teach the concepts of relational databases and join operations. This typically just needs read-only access, so our assignments can involve gigabytes of data without issue.

qwertyuiop924 6 days ago 4 replies      
SQLite is quite possibly one of the most useful pieces of software ever created. It's small, relatively fast, and unbelivably solid. It's up there with bash, curl, grep, emacs, and nano: tools that are just so good at their job that we don't even notice how amazing they are.

I mean, really. SQLite is remarkable, impressive, and used everywhere, and we never talk about it. Emacs is a remarkably impressive piece of engineering, bash is the world's default shell for a reason, Nano is the newbie's text edior, and, well, just imagine for a second what would happen if grep or curl stopped working.

AstroJetson 6 days ago 2 replies      
I've always loved this line:

 SQLite does not compete with client/server databases. SQLite competes with fopen().
I have some small apps that I've written in TCL that use SQLite that I've been very happy with. Not much more effort than using a file.

There are also some nice hooks to allow the use of SQLite from Lua scrips. It's pretty easy and it fits into the Lua world view of data.

xiaomai 6 days ago 2 replies      
I run the backend/website of my side business on sqlite. It is one of the best technology decisions I have made. It performs reasonably, is super straightforward (at my day job we have a team of postgres people to keep our dbs running smoothly, but for my little side business I don't have those resources); backups are dead simple. I love sqlite.
Lxr 6 days ago 10 replies      
SQLite works great as the database engine for most low to medium traffic websites (which is to say, most websites)...Generally speaking, any site that gets fewer than 100K hits/day should work fine with SQLite.

Do people agree with this? I was under the impression you should not use SQLite for production websites for some reason. Django has this to say, for instance [1]:

When starting your first real project, however, you may want to use a more robust database like PostgreSQL, to avoid database-switching headaches down the road.

[1] https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.10/intro/tutorial02/

red_admiral 6 days ago 0 replies      
I used SQLite for teaching last year because it was the only thing that I could get IT to install between when I took over the databases unit and the start of term.

While it was broadly a success, I consider the following major problems when teaching to beginners:

 * very loose syntax. CREATE TABLE PERSON ( ID BANANA BANANA BANANA ); is legal :) * no type-checking: you can insert strings into an INTEGER column and vice versa - while you're trying with a straight face to teach students that one of the advantages of a proper database is that it can enforce some consistency on your data. * in the same vein - foreign key constraints are NOT enforced by default. * misusing GROUP BY produces results, but not the ones you want. I'd much rather any use of aggregates that is forbidden by the standard also gave an error, to discourage students from thinking "it produces numbers, therefore it must be ok".
This year, I'll try with MariaDB. I consider SQLite an excellent product for many things and use it extensively myself, but as a teaching tool its liberal approach to typing is a drawback.

lucb1e 6 days ago 11 replies      
> People who understand SQL can employ the sqlite3 command-line shell to analyze large datasets.

And a bit further down:

> SQLite database is limited in size to 140 terabytes [...] if you are contemplating databases of this magnitude [use something else]

Yeah no. "Large datasets" here means a few megabytes. I figured that out the hard way:

I had a database of about 70 megabytes and ran a query with "COUNT(a)" and "GROUP BY b" on it. This makes it write multiple gigabytes to /tmp until it goes "out of disk space" (yeah /tmp on my ssd isn't large).

I heard nothing but awesome and success stories about SQLite until a few weeks ago when this fiasco happened. I still like SQLite for its simplicity and last week I used it again for another project, but analyzing "large" datasets? Maybe with a simple SELECT WHERE query, but don't try anything more fancy than that when you have 100k+ rows.

Esau 6 days ago 2 replies      
I am just an average, non-programming geek, and I love SQLIte. I use it to from the command line to track my blood pressure, my comic book collection, and my book collection.

It also gave me the chance to learn SQL for fun.

Sadly, it is not often looked upon as an end-user tool.

kartikkumar 6 days ago 0 replies      
I use SQLite to store all of my simulation data (~10s of GBs). It's remarkably versatile and the fact that there are good libraries for Python and C++ to interface with and query SQLite dbs makes it a synch to use for data analysis.

I've seen so many people struggle with custom binary formats; I imagine there are countless research hours lost in figuring out how to work with these obscure formats. I've advocated to all students I work with to make use of SQLite to store simulation data for their thesis projects and my experience is that they're quick to pick it up and figure out how to do some pretty complex querying.

It's one of those things that I don't understand about academia: there are so many standards and well-established tools in the tech/IT sector that we don't take advantage of. SQLite and JSON are the two that I constantly advocate to everyone I work with.

nbevans 6 days ago 0 replies      
We use SQLite as a data integration tool. We connect to a third-party system's esoteric database using an ODBC driver. Then export tables to a SQLite database. This process can sometimes take a few minutes but is generally quite quick. Then the SQLite database is compressed and uploaded to cloud blob storage. Effectively at this point it is a "snapshot" of the third party system's state. Our cloud system is then tailored with SQLite queries to know how to use and understand that foreign schema. By doing it this way we avoid needing to know several dozen SQL dialects for esoteric database engines that "never won the race in the 1990s" (think Progress, Ingres, Paradox, etc). It means we only need to know SQLite - a current, OSS and well supported variant of SQL. Epic cost and time savings are the net result.
Const-me 6 days ago 0 replies      
For Windows, Many concurrent writers? choose client/server heuristic isnt right.

On Windows, we have this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Storage_Engine ESENT plays very nice in high-concurrency scenarios.

Implementing client/server where you only need an embedded DB comes at price. It bloats and complicates the installer, increases attack surface, conflicts with other software for listening TCP port number, interferes with firewalls, consumes more resources, slows the startup, etc

JohnTHaller 6 days ago 0 replies      
When people say SQLite is everywhere, they mean it. Heck you're likely using it right now as you browse HN since Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc all use it.
deadlyllama 6 days ago 0 replies      
I used SQLite to analyze web server logs at my last job (devops at Xero). SQLite supports in memory databases which are very fast. I'd parse a bucket of logs into a table, then run some queries against them and write the results into Graphite. The results ended up on the ops wall, and generating another data point was one more SQL query in a config file away. Wonder if they're still using it.
zmmmmm 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love SQLite up until you need to modify the schema. That's when you find that upgrading an in place database is almost impossible. Rebuilding a whole table just to rename a column is just completely impractical and makes maintaining applications really cumbersome.
cyberferret 6 days ago 1 reply      
I use SQLite almost all the time now on my desktop apps especially, for logging and other data intensive tasks that require only a single read/write thread. It replaced text logging for me as searching and segregating log messages is now a breeze.

I've also used it as a main data store for single user Win32 apps.

In my early days of web app programming, I had an app that created a brand new SQLite data file for EACH customer that logged in and created an account on the web app. I thought it would be the most secure way to separate datasets and protect privacy for each user whilst negating the multiple write lock issues on the same SQLite database. Tip: Don't even bother to do this! The eventual data maintenance headache was far worse... :)

thom 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've used SQLite for single-user analytics in the past and it's fine up to a point. It's slightly more SQL-literate than MySQL - it supports CTEs but not window functions - and it has an okay GIS extension. I've also been pleasantly surprised by performance in some cases.

However, I was recently pointed at MonetDB:


Monet's an open source column store, and I think it's worth evaluating by anyone doing offline analytics or research-driven work.

kennell 6 days ago 0 replies      
I run a number of 1%-write, 99%-read web apps with decent traffic on SQLite. Works like a charm. It is low maintenance and creating a "backup" is simply copying the file.
trengrj 6 days ago 0 replies      
I recently made a tool for command line history to a sqlite database https://github.com/trengrj/recent.

I really enjoy using sqlite. Not everything needs a client server model, and having your entire database located in a single file makes a lot of things way easier.

mirekrusin 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Application file format" is the thing which intrigues me. I think people don't think about it as an option enough, it should be used more frequently. File format versions backed by migrations, trivial inspection of data, transactional for free, you can keep recent history of changes, hierarchy etc. It's pretty good.
chrismealy 6 days ago 2 replies      
Was there a time when using SQLite for websites would risk data corruption, or has it always had reliable locking?
tmaly 6 days ago 0 replies      
I use sqlite for an intermediate representation of a report that is rendered to multiple worksheets. I find having the data in sql lets me perform all types of transformations that are not easily handled outside of sql.
Vintila 6 days ago 1 reply      
Slightly off-topic but I love their sql docs[1], those diagrams are just beautiful.

[1] https://sqlite.org/lang_createtable.html

optforfon 6 days ago 5 replies      
I've never had the occasion to use an SQL database. But say I was writing a game using C++ - at what point would I go from managing a bunch of maps or vectors of entities to using a SQL database?

If I was writing a ray tracer and needed to store vertices, would it makes sense to use a SQL database? How about for a list of object? Or textures?

In general I often need to filter on objects, update object state, generate new objects, remove some others, etc. but I never know when I should stop thinking containers and start thinking "aha! time for SQL"

cheriot 6 days ago 0 replies      
> SQLite supports an unlimited number of simultaneous readers, but it will only allow one writer at any instant in time.

This is the one that usually gets me. For whatever reason, I tend to prefer side projects that are "take a dataset and make a tool out of it". It often ends up with simultaneous bulk writes when the dataset is updating.

I'm a big sqlite fan. Just throwing this out as a limitation for anyone deciding if it's appropriate for their project.

theseoafs 6 days ago 4 replies      
I'm looking at a project right now where I'm planning to use SQLite as a high-level solution to file locking (i.e. create a record in the DB to "lock" a file, delete it when you're done, and don't create a record if a record for that file is already in the DB). Sound like an appropriate use of SQLite? Is there a better, more direct solution? (I understand there are platform-specific utilities but I would want something portable.)
Nican 6 days ago 0 replies      
I always wondered if using SQLite for the back end for a distributed map/reduce jobs was efficient. Each machine holds part of the data in an SQLite file.

It would not solve the usual sort/group by problems that require cross-machine communication, but would take full advantage of SQLite's optimizations for other problems.

i_feel_great 6 days ago 0 replies      
A good resource on optimising write speed: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1711631/improve-insert-pe...
contingencies 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Anything without frequent concurrent writes" pretty much sums it up.
jeremy_wiebe 6 days ago 4 replies      
> Each dynamic page does roughly 200 SQL statements.

I haven't done web work in a while but am I the only one who thinks that's a ridiculously high number for a single page?

bnolsen 5 days ago 0 replies      
fossil scm is a dvcs built around sqlite. one executable, very few dependencies and atomic transactional safety. workflow wise its more like cvs or svn properly converted into a dvcs. great for small teams, integrated web server, wiki issue tracking. http://fossil-scm.org
mbrock 6 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed the other day that the AWS Lambda runtime environment has the sqlite3 binary already installed in $PATH.
ggregoire 6 days ago 1 reply      
What would be the arguments to not use MySQL for a business website, even a small one? Sure SQLlite does probably the job as well as MySQL, but I don't have any problems with MySQL and it's commonly the default option when choosing a RDBMS. Just curious.
SixSigma 6 days ago 0 replies      
I <3 Sqlite.
Announcing Rust 1.12 rust-lang.org
393 points by steveklabnik  2 days ago   76 comments top 9
kibwen 2 days ago 4 replies      
MIR is here! End-users probably aren't going to be too excited about this just yet, since MIR's focus in 1.12 is in ensuring there are no correctness regressions (always a risk when you rewrite an enormous portion of your middle-end) or noticeable runtime perf or compile-time perf regressions. I do recall pcwalton remarking that MIR improved Servo's compile times by about 20%, though this is probably not what one would expect across the board. In any case, the upcoming 1.13 release is where the rubber is really going to start meeting the road: middle-end optimizations that operate on the MIR (i.e. https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/pull/36388 ); outright removing old trans (which remains in 1.12 via a compiler flag) which allows us to actually start taking advantage of non-zeroing drop (a long-held dream!); an initial spike for incremental recompilation; plus big miscellaneous performance improvements such as https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/pull/36524 . As ever, no matter how exciting Rust's present is, it somehow seems that its future is even more so. :P

(Which isn't to overshadow Jonathan Turner's heroic compiler error message overhaul that has been long in the works, or the dozens and dozens of new volunteers who answered the call to help us transition: https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/issues/35233 . But I've had the new error messages enabled for months now, and it's easy to forget that not everyone has been enjoying them this whole time!)

computerphage 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's been really cool watching the design and development of the new error messages from the outside. There was significant inspiration drawn from the Elm language's fantastic error messages [1] and even a project that provided something similar (but not built into rustc) [2].

I've always thought that Rust's command line tooling is really top notch. The language may be complex, but the authors of rustc make it a point of pride to make it as easy as possible for users anyway. The new errors will make it that much easier to learn and be productive in Rust.

Also, the community involvement in this release is really spectacular. There were 83 participants working together on the new error messages [3] and 176 total involved directly with the rust compiler just for 1.12! (ok, well, including a few bots)

[1] https://internals.rust-lang.org/t/compiler-errors-for-humans...[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/rust/comments/3totkg/dybuk_the_elml...[3] https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/issues/35233

moosingin3space 2 days ago 2 replies      
Thank you, Rust standard library maintainers, for making it very easy for me to contribute `BinaryHeap::peek_mut` to the stdlib, which landed in stable today!
clarkmoody 2 days ago 2 replies      
Optional JSON output for the compiler error messages is a really cool feature. This could improve web-technology-based Rust development (browsers, Electron apps), giving nice feedback to the editor, which could implement the error message highlighting right there in your code.
Jtsummers 2 days ago 1 reply      

This will be nice. I couldn't possibly sell rust to my employers if we had to go to an outside source for packages like [EDIT: rust/crate currently does, with crates.io]. Being able to host our own mirrors (for CM purposes, if nothing else) is essential.

brainspider 2 days ago 5 replies      
I like the look of this language, and loaded it up to play around with for the first time yesterday. This was the first thing that struck me when I compiled the obligatory hello world..

 09/29/2016 04:51 PM 1,746,638 main.exe 09/29/2016 04:51 PM 43 main.rs
1.7Mb for the exe from 43 bytes of code on windows 10. :/

AllTheLibs? I'm hoping I can improve on that a bit.

Perceptes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the team and thank you!

As always, I've updated my Docker image for 1.12. Both the "1.12.0" and "latest" tags are now 1.12: https://hub.docker.com/r/jimmycuadra/rust/

pjmlp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations on all the good work to everyone!

Trying it out now.

timehastoldme 2 days ago 1 reply      
The awesome thing about Rust is that the behemoths don't know about it.
How Convolutional Neural Networks Work brohrer.github.io
397 points by eternalban  5 days ago   49 comments top 13
drewm1980 5 days ago 2 replies      
I am supportive of clear explanations of some of the building blocks, but I worry repeatedly describing things as being grade school math level gives the wrong impression about the actual learning curve for getting up to speed on working with CNN's. Yes, the building blocks are easy to understand, but actually understanding why a given network structure, or optimization technique isn't working, is a black art. And if you don't have a workstation with a $2k gpu or two, you're probably not going to have a good time.
spiderfarmer 5 days ago 4 replies      
Question: I have a database with 1.000.000 vehicle pictures, organized by make and model. What would be the easiest way to play with this data, so that I can train it to predict the make / model? I don't want to reinvent the wheel now so much tutorials are written and software is being released. What would be the easiest way to start?
nilved 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good post, but the author needs to read this article. I interpret the tone in some places to be condescending.


dicroce 5 days ago 0 replies      
This video is a great introduction to convolutions and pooling.

The other best resource, IMHO, is http://karpathy.github.io/neuralnets/.

j1vms 5 days ago 2 replies      
> CNNs can be used to categorize other types of data too. The trick is, whatever data type you start with, to transform it to make it look like an image.

This is an interesting point, and I assume that 'make it look look like an image' means the same thing as 'think of it as an image'. Can others here who works with CNNs regularly or professionally, comment on whether the author's intuition is essentially correct (give or take some details of course)?

partycoder 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the most intuitive example of a neural network in action is this: http://swaption.net

This is not convolutional though.

elcct 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant, so far one of the easiest to understand explanations.
jimkittridge 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great explanation. Thanks for sharing.
oh_sigh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Really great write up. Ive been trying to wrap my not too mathematically talented head around convolutional filters and this really helped in visualizing what is happening.
armandtamzarian 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great post. I like how he didn't go into too much detail on the math of backprop etc. I find the conceptual understanding of ML is more interesting as a lay person.
MrFeynmannsJoke 5 days ago 6 replies      
So ist works just like i thought it would. Why are CNN so hyped? Wasnt all this already known decades ago? Or is it just because we can afford the computing power?
5 days ago 5 days ago 1 reply      
nstj 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did someone say burritos?
YouTube Go: YouTube reimagined for the next generation of YouTube viewers googleblog.com
337 points by scommab  4 days ago   212 comments top 30
izacus 4 days ago 7 replies      
So now there's YouTube app (which doens't allow me to listen to a talk offline on an airplane or background or pay for YouTube Red), YouTube Music app (which I'm not allowed to use at all), YouTube Gaming (which has an UI and UX build by a madman). Then there's AndroidTV version of YouTube app which has severe feature limitations and probably some others as well. I don't really like to be negative, but it doesn't seem that Google has any idea what to do with YouTube or any interest of expanding it to EU and the rest of the world. Not to mention the rampant catastrophe that's ContentID police system that's benefiting only large corporate abusers with no recourse.

So I wonder, will I perhaps be able to watch talks and other videos on an airplane now using YouTube Go? Which subset of functionality will work on this soon-to-be-abandoned app? Does it even address any of the issues that content creators, Google and us users have with the platform?

JoshTriplett 4 days ago 4 replies      
Hopefully this will actually work in all countries; I'd love to save videos for offline viewing while I have a wifi connection and watch them later when I don't. But that would compete with "YouTube Red".

For that matter, since an offline video eliminates the buffering problem, I'd love to have the "playback speed" feature in the mobile app. The web version of YouTube supports changing the playback speed to 1.25x, 1.5x, or 2x, but the mobile version doesn't.

qwertyuiop924 4 days ago 3 replies      
Google still doesn't know what it's doing with YouTube. As a longtime consumer of YouTube videos, and somebody who is actually inside of the YouTube community, I understand that. The "Advertiser Friendly" policy was universally mocked for being absurd, and it is. Then there's the indication that it was behind the inexplicable monetization drops on major channels a few months back. The YouTube team has been seen to do some good stuff as well, like the Community tab, but if they want to keep the communities they've built, and the near monopoly on online video they have, they need to get out of their ivory tower, and actually understand that when they make decisions they have real effects on the monetary income of real people, and that when they change their algorithm or site design, people actually go out of business.

However, at least in this case, they're taking a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

ghostly_s 4 days ago 3 replies      
As much as this sounds like something I would personally be very interested in, I can't help but think it doesn't fit into Google's ideal of how customers use their products. Rather I get the impression they're pursuing this begrudgingly just as a way to get into the Indian market; the announcement is notably non-committal about it ever being rolled out in the US.
skynetv2 4 days ago 1 reply      
This should be made available every where. But then they can't charge us for offline and background play.

YT would get more views actually if they allowed offline now. It would also help with the puny data allowances wireless carriers are imposing these days. The offline will take the power away (in a small way), from the carriers.

They can provide the same experience as today, ads and all. People can watch YT on flights, while driving and what not. Amazon video allows offline usage today and been for a while.

bonjurkes 4 days ago 3 replies      
"While in Nagpur, I met a young man who loved using YouTube to watch WWE wrestling and wanted to show us his favorite video. But after he found it and tapped to play, the video just wouldnt load"

I believe this is really bad example, as WWE is a "premium content" so you have to pay extra to watch it. Therefore Youtube removes those videos (there is only 2 WWE videos which is from legal accounts).

So it's pretty awkward example just as "the young man in Nagpur wants to watch Game of Thrones with his HBO Go membership but he can't because of he is poor internet connection."

gtirloni 4 days ago 5 replies      
I don't understand why a new app if this could just be an additional feature in the current app. Doesn't this lead to fragmentation and confusion?
daveloyall 4 days ago 2 replies      
Grr... Is google seeking praise for slightly loosening the shackles?

This "YouTube Go" MIGHT be a media player. It MIGHT operate on files. It MIGHT be possible to share a video via some mechanism other than bluetooth.

The other day I was trying to convince to a user that she should want to own her content, rather than rent it... when I suddenly realized that he doesn't know what a file is. Moreover, he doesn't realize what it is good for...

Once you have a (DRM free) file, it's yours. You physically possess it. That means you can copy it, share it, back it up, print it, pipe the raw ones and zeros to your PC speaker, whatever. The next generation might not get that...

The fact of the matter is that until I was college-aged, nobody taught me more about computers than Microsoft did. I read every .txt file and .hlp file that existed on my C:\ drive. Not to mention the physical manuals... Then I went on to Linux, etc.

So I KNOW what a file is. You and I can have a conversation about mtimes. We can rattle off a list of traits that each file must possess to BE a file.

What the heck is Google teaching this next generation?

macspoofing 4 days ago 1 reply      
>But even as they discover the joys of YouTube, their experience is not great on slower connections and less powerful mobile phone ..

Or on fast connections but with data caps. So outside of wifi, Youtube is unusable. I'll watch two-three videos and I'll hit my monthly cap.

Almost every single issue India users experience is a problem everywhere else. Every solution they came up with would be useful for users everywhere else. It feels like Google engineers live in the SV bubble where unlimited always-on connectivity is a fact of life. So thanks Google.

jonthepirate 4 days ago 4 replies      
I would love the ability to leave a video playing on my phone when I turn the screen off. I often will listen to a song but as soon as the app minimizes or the phone goes to sleep mode, it stops.
jkot 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is great idea. Many users are watching youtube offline.
amelius 4 days ago 3 replies      
The next generation will want to download the video and store it, just in case it gets pulled because of content owner rights.
bitwize 4 days ago 0 replies      
Holy shit you guys, some people actually use our apps from devices lacking an always-on connection! This is the revolution that will give rise to Web 4.0 -- apps that can work without the internet! It'll be the biggest thing since the recent development of Web pages that automatically reconfigure to fit different screen sizes!
FussyZeus 4 days ago 0 replies      
> But even as they discover the joys of YouTube, their experience is not great on slower connections and less powerful mobile phones.

Why not just make this the norm? Websites do not need to be 6 MB per page (and that's with an adblocker). Google is one of the worst offenders when it comes to website bloat, including their once-famously incredibly simple search page which is now jam packed with tons of features, both requested and the majority not requested by anyone.

The notion that an HTML 5 web page requires so much extra fluff to accomplish something as simple as streaming video with recommended links and a comments section is maddening.

Just because some of us have bigger, faster phones with more bandwidth doesn't mean you need to make things more complicated.

dingo_bat 4 days ago 1 reply      
So can I finally delete the fortune app from my phone? I think this forced installation of tens of useless Google apps on android is horrible. I don't use their crappy services and I should be able to delete their apps from my phone. And I don't want to root because that invalidates knox in my phone, which I need for office stuff.

I'm excited to use this new app but the older one should be deletable.

self_awareness 4 days ago 0 replies      
On Android there is also Youtube Downloader that works quite nicely: https://dentex.github.io/apps/youtubedownloader/
hubert123 4 days ago 1 reply      
well it would be cool if i could tag a bunch of videos to be viewed offline in the app. I have a music list on youtube and sometimes i have for example a political debate that is an hour long, it would be cool if i could just tap on it in youtube to make it offline viewable instead of going through the massive hassle of downloading it somehow, transferring it to the phone etc and then maybe i dont want to watch it anyway..
stuaxo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Right, now do the same for Gmail - the offline search is terrible when you are not connected.
skeltoac 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want to know who or what will decide what to put in the preview. Will content creators have any control over this? If previews are strictly algorithmic, will there be recourse in case a certain preview misrepresents or spoils the content?
sridca 4 days ago 2 replies      
From http://www.youtubego.com/signup/

> Mazze udao, data nahin

What language is this?

5partan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ad "even wrestling": there was wrestling in India centuries before even Eric the Red discovered America.
Omnipresent 4 days ago 0 replies      
Features to combat low connectivity and the cricket gif in the images show that this change is made with Indian market in mind.
ty_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
In China, download video for offline viewing is a standard feature of all domestic video app, even on PC.
ausjke 4 days ago 0 replies      
since long time ago I could download youtube for offline watching already so what's new here, I tried two minutes to read this article and gave up, I wish it pinpoints what youtube-go really is and give me the answer in 144 words.
smpetrey 4 days ago 0 replies      
But there's no SD Card interface on iOS?
SixSigma 4 days ago 0 replies      
India : Bollywood & Cricket, yeah!
philfrasty 4 days ago 2 replies      
YouTube reimagined for the next generation of YouTube viewers = Snapchat
andrewvijay 4 days ago 2 replies      
Google's sudden push for India is kinda spooky.
Animats 4 days ago 4 replies      
From a user perspective, the purpose of YouTube is to play out videos. Time spent in YouTube's user interface is a means for getting to the videos. But from Google's perspective, the revenue comes from time in the user interface, where the ads are.

"Reimagined" probably means "more ad slots".

strgrd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great to see Google splintering off into single duty compartments instead of spreading itself so thin that nothing gets done with the same amount of focus. Alphabet was a true design decision, and a mature one at that. One thing that crossed my mind recently was the notion of Google and its long relationship with hardware: we have this thing called the Blockchain now, and it could do with some of Google's hardware to run on, instead of independent factions of people spending their pocket money on their own hardware. It kind of makes me jealous and annoyed that so much could be spent for what effectively is sometimes just a data center for storing people's holiday snaps on Google Plus, when it could be used to host micro democracies and change the direction of finance. I suspect all that hardware will eventually be re-purposed many times throughout the course of the Google experiment and probably will eventually be given away at some point to the blockchainers who need it. I can picture the scene: dreadlocked decentralists rejoicing at their new hardware gift from Google, 25+ years from now. The ultimate redemption from their years of slavishly handing their personal information over to Google in exchange for a decent search experience. A true revenge for consumers of Google. Meanwhile Google would have entirely switched to SSDs and are probably using post-quantum chips, but at least we can host multiple different blockchains now without spending our pocket money on them. The blockchainers can start to get rich and blockchain can really flourish. Also, Google needs to create services which are for a post Snowden world. Allo is cute, but entirely inferior to things like Signal which addresses the problem of encrypted private chat head on. Google needs to create things like its own VPN service, perhaps?
Not Just Any Old Geek oldgeekjobs.com
397 points by johnwheeler  4 days ago   289 comments top 56
daemonk 4 days ago 12 replies      
I am getting to old geek status myself. From a more cynical perspective, I am not sure if we can compete with early twenty-somethings who are unjaded and buy into the silicon valley mystique. They are willing to work 12 hour days and still do the faux-japanese salarymen afterwork socializing that supposedly builds "culture".

Older geeks don't buy into this ping-pong table propaganda. Tech companies probably won't be able to squeeze all the extra work out of us in the name of passion and culture. I guess the question is, can experience/skill/efficiency really out-produce a legion of young programmers who are willing to work 1.5-2X the hours? I have no idea.

mark_l_watson 4 days ago 4 replies      
As a programmer in my 60s, my (rather obvious) advice is to save and invest throughout your career so you have financial flexibility as you get older. I still very much enjoy working but when I have unbooked time I really enjoy that also.

It also helps to have great hobbies. I enjoy writing (I am finishing up a Haskell book, and I have a partially written book on cognitive science that will get finished some day), I take many online classes, read a lot, hang out with friends and family, hiking, kayaking, etc.

As we get older we do slow down. I don't charge very much money anymore as a consultant and I am careful to only take work appropriate to my skills. Now when I write, I do so at a slower pace.

There is a natural order in life and I accept that.

amcrouch 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is an AWESOME idea and I totally appreciate both Tim's original article on the subject and your efforts on this job site.

As a CTO I have long appreciated real world knowledge and experience over inexperienced, cheap, eagerness. Our employee's are all 30+, most have families and I believe that leads to well balanced and focused employee's. That is not to say I would not hire a younger employee but with age comes the kind of experience you need when building a new company quickly.

To be honest the "we work hard and play hard - we are a family" line would have put me off of a role even in my early 20's. Just because I want to work hard, it doesn't mean I want to always be hanging out with a team, I want a life as well.

I actually think that the ageism in tech is a result of it being a young industry. As more and more dev's go grey the problem will resolve itself.

One final note I have seen here and on other places - The why not become a CTO or Start your own company suggestion is fine for those that want to but there are a large number of developers who actually _love_ being a developer and have no interest in moving up into management. That's great and I hope that as the industry matures people realise that being a developer for your whole career is a choice and not a failure.

nlh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Every time I read a post on here about ageism and that sort of crap in SV, I feel obligated to gloat ever-so-slightly that not all VC-backed, small, fast-growing, interesting startups out here fall into that mold.

I've been extremely lucky to have joined what I see as the least ageist group of people I've ever worked with. Our CEO is in his late 40s. One of our engineers is in her 20s. One is in her 50s. I'm 38 and on the younger end of the curve, and that's totally, totally cool.

We have lives outside the office and go home at night. If we feel like working on the weekends, we do, and if we don't, we don't. We have the occasional happy hour after work (like, every few months), and nobody is ostracized if they have other plans.

Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I think it's important to remind everyone that the culture of 20s-or-bust has exceptions, the culture of work-or-die has exceptions, and the culture of your-life-is-your-startup most definitely has exceptions.

I wish more startups followed suit.

(ps - https://www.scalyr.com/company in case you don't believe me!)

AdeptusAquinas 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that, as others have suggested, this might be just a silicon valley bias, real or perceived.

At 32, my skills in both hard and soft outstrip anything a developer in their early twenties could match, no matter how passionate or innately skilled they are. There is a certain 'momentum' you pick up as you get older, especially if you have been constantly feeding it with new experiences, learnings and failures. Having confidence and the skill to back it up can only be obtained with a decade or two in the industry.

And if my contracting rates and employment prospects are anything to go by, employers recognise that.

superJimmy64 4 days ago 4 replies      
(Not that it really matters, but I'm 27...) A few things came to me after reading the post:

Firstly, how this situation shared by the OP and many others is pure insanity. That the very people who grew up with this technology during the baby years are now struggling to have a place now that it really has taken off.

Secondly, for those in their mid-30's and onward, to realize how immensely skilled they likely are at writing (if not already recognizing this fact). One of my favorite parts of staying up to date in this industry is getting to read every and any type of work/post/article from the older guys (still must admit that 37 doesn't feel old to me). Because your time was spent communicating primarily electronically, this skill has spilled over into creative writing and all other forms, which makes for incredibly well-written pieces which keep me going to this very day. So thank you for that.

Thirdly, how amazing it is that a person can now come up with an idea, build out the details and launch the website within 24 hours if truly determined. Loved the website, definitely think that as younger generations start to take advantage of the current tech and build their own on top of it, that there will be a need to differentiate between the various abilities/experience of devs.

Nice work.

epalmer 4 days ago 1 reply      
I will be 63 in a few days. If 37+ makes you an old geek I must be ancient. At least I am employed.
zackmorris 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pushing 40 and am starting to measure my productivity by how much code I remove in a day, not how much I write. Is anyone else feeling that way? That much of what we do is a waste of time, that perhaps software is evolving in wrong directions due to issues like income inequality (wealth and expertise being at opposite ends of the spectrum) or worse is better? Sometimes I stare at the ceiling realizing that the entirety of what I'm working on can be represented by a symlinking filesystem or Excel spreadsheet. I'm not.. tired, more like, I'm tired of witnessing everything I've ever worked on being obsoleted in 3 years because yet another framework reinvents the wheel or proprietary solution opens a new market due to vendor lock-in. How did the web of declarative interoperating data become walled gardens and SAAS? There is money to be made yes, but is this progress?

At some point, the problems fall away and it all starts to look more like the wheelings and dealings of Mad Men than computer science. Then the choice seems to be whether to make the most of things (find meaning in the unfulfilling) or take an early retirement.

I'm not worried about finding work after I'm over the hill.. I'm worried about the very real possibility of my legacy being a portfolio instead of a real contribution to the betterment of humankind - building an R2D2 or software that actually frees people from labor. Anything short of that real progress feels like a waste of time, and I understand why it might not be prudent to hire someone who doesn't have profit as a primary motive. What really keeps me up at night is the thought that the idealism Im feeling is nearly identical to what I felt as a youth, and I don't know if something has gone terribly wrong with the state of things or if the world just passed me by.

P.S. I love my job. Really! Im just running out of time for the future to arrive when I could be working on it now.

jmspring 4 days ago 1 reply      
I got invited to a YC event - meet companies, they pitched - a recruiting event. More than a few pulled the "we work hard, play hard, are a family" card.

If you have friends/family, avoid such.

Cultural fit is bull shit. It's about getting people to work more at a fixed rate. I've been there, done that, ran away to better things.

As someone expected to write code - make sure "operations" isn't a hidden requirement - devops - could meaning call duty. If you were not required to be operational when hired, and suddenly fall into the roll, start looking around. Operations takes planning, but some use "culture" as an excuse for lack of planning.

hanginghyena 4 days ago 1 reply      
Another old geezer here (43!); had a good run in my twenties and wound up in technical management a few years ago.

A couple of tips:

- The "hands on" technical skills that launched your career have capped (top salary) and declining value

- If you take time to learn / think about how the underlying technology works (vs. just cut / paste / edit code), you can master related new technologies faster than the average bear.

- It is also worth noting that technical challenges tend to repeat every couple of generations; the software developer community is operating within the same set of fundamental constraints (coder time, CPU speed, network, data, etc.), the main thing that changes is which constraint matters. And they repeat: at some point, CPU will be the constraint again and all ninja coder tricks of my twenties will matter again.

- Architecture, process design, and people herding skills only grow with time; 80% of my value as a manager consists of making unnecessary work go away (without drama). I am much better at using these skills at 42 than I was at 24.

- If you ever see an opportunity to build a side project that could turn into a business, take it. Even if you don't replace your income, this gives you additional control over the direction of your late career and skills you acquire. Note that I said side project and not startup; the intent to get more control over your direction without walking away from your day job and associated income / benefits.

coldtea 4 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that 40yo is considered "old" in this industry is why we have such shallow culture and so much cargo cult and rediscovery of stale (or even discarded) techniques as the latest BS fad.

Consider a law firm or hospital with no professionals over 40...

It fits with SV, because it just needs code monkeys to build what's basically simple apps in whatever language du jour. Things that are touted as big solutions in web-land for example, have been done, tried and are commonplace in all other parts of IT.

Places and firms that build important stuff, where Computer Science matters (embedded code, OSes, databases, critical systems, etc) do hire "older" people, and some even mostly older people.

pavlov 3 days ago 0 replies      
A particularly strange thing about SV ageism is that some of the same people who think a 40-year-old is useless also hope to live forever. (Singularity, longevity breakthroughs, whatever.)

What do they expect to be doing at 1000 years old?

The explanation that springs to mind is that young techies lured by longevity expect to be part of "the only generation". Anyone older is too out of touch, and younger generations basically won't happen as immortals can't have kids nilly-willy. So the world would be eternally ruled by a cabal of geriatric techies born around 1990. Now that's a dystopic thought!

Jean-Philipe 4 days ago 2 replies      
I didn't feel this kind of bias here in Berlin.

When founding FitAnalytics.com, we were three young students fresh from university, but all of us highly appreciated more senior programmers (40+) joining the team. Even if their language didn't fit our stack (C++ for a JS position), my experience was extremely positive, feeling that some programmers just get better with age, no matter the language du jour.

Regarding pay, I feel that it's actually rising with age. I'm now myself heading towards the mid-30s and I'm not concerned at all. Some of my older programmer friends make more money than me and have more fun as well.

devnonymous 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea whose time perhaps has come. As a 38 year old developer who frequents HN and sees age related posts every once in a while, I am worried about my prospects after turning 40... Although I have no other reason to believe that I've been discriminated against over my age so far. Maybe this is a more of a Valley syndrome, or a US syndrome. In anycase, the fact that our industry itself can be thought of being around 40-50 years old now, something like this is perhaps a good thing.
Normal_gaussian 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, is it possible to add the ability for other countries to post?

We are a young and small British company who are getting very frustrated at having too many inexperienced applicants!

buro9 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is neat, I would request that it could be international though.

Restricting jobs to just US states is limiting, especially as many of the companies listed do hire internationally too.

Just add "Not applicable / International" to the states drop down, and a Country picker.

headmelted 4 days ago 2 replies      
I actually love this.

I've never worked in the valley, and honestly I feel no pressing urge to based on what I hear with regards to the bias in favour of twenty-somethings who can work 15+ hour days and live off of ramen.

I'm pushing into my mid-thirties this year, I'm married with two young children, and I simply can't work the kind of hours that I could ten years ago.

The thing is, I didn't do it then either, even when I could. I've always had the mentality that if I'm going to commit to your project, you're going to compensate me in cash or equity. It may also be why I'm happier in my career now that I contract than I ever was before. A days (genuinely hard) work for a days pay.

I simply never understood why someone would give so much of themselves for free in the pursuit of someone else's goals without a substantial slice of the pie. I still don't. And I suspect this is in large part why older developers are looked over (although maybe there's more to it).

Good job on the site, it certainly looks like its getting a lot of traction!

BatFastard 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I had a few millions under my belt, I would start a company that only employs empty nesters. Kids are out of the house usually. So you have a lot more free time.

You have great experience, you know how to work with people, you know how to get things done, you have probably worked in 40 different techs.

If you are writing software at this age you do it for love, not for money. I love to create, and software leads to the least cuts, burns, and pulled muscles of any career or hobby I have pursued!

dejv 4 days ago 3 replies      
If you want long career in programming you should really do serious career planing during your 20s to make sure you check all important boxes: correct technologies, mix of different kind of companies, team sizes and roles. Otherwise you might get into complicated position down the road.

I am in the early 30s and on top of my ability, but I don't see my future too bright from here. 10 years ago I make decision to do freelancing and work strictly alone. It was blast, but once my stream dry out I don't think I will ever find actual job: guy in late 30s/early 40s with string of trivial or dead end projects for unknown companies, no experience working in team and such.

I am ok with it and I am having awesome time (and always had). Everybody just have to know on what career path they are and have plan B in their pocket.

hobaak 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am female, over 40 and an engineer with some management experience under the belt. When I go to event in SF (Valley is still better), I know that I am an outlier. One of the odds that deters conformity of the data model. I am happy to break the mold and willing to do it.
mrschwabe 4 days ago 3 replies      
If Jaromir Jagr, at 44 years of age, can play at the highest level of professional hockey in the world, leading his young team in points (and 2nd in goals) last season [1] just imagine what a programmer can do with the same level of focus and determination at that age and beyond.

[1] https://www.nhl.com/panthers/stats/regular-season/skaters/p

jkot 4 days ago 6 replies      
> Ive published a dozen articles ... build software with thousands of paying customers. ... work on open source Python. ... read almost 40 business books, and I live and breathe HackerNews.

Why not start your own business or become CTO? Why work for someone less experienced?

Futurebot 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad someone created this service and I hope it succeeds and sticks around. Since it won't/can't fix everything, here are my suggestions for dealing with ageism in technology:

1) Try to make your fortune early. Most wont, but try anyway. Better to have given it a shot in your twenties/thirties/maybe forties, than to sit around at 56 wondering what youre going to do with yourself.

2) Never stop learning. Everyone has to become lifelong learners in this new hyper-competitive economy. Even moreso for those with traditional disadvantages like being considered too old. Keep up with trends, keep reading those whitepapers, go back and review the basics every so often (this is a good idea anyway, IMO), learn at least the basics of the new whiz-bang thing that comes out (even if its just the hello world equivalent), and generally keep yourself interview ready.

3) Physical appearance matters. They may not be able to ask your age, but they can look at you, and theyll form an opinion either consciously or subconsciously; though many find this incredibly distasteful, it is the reality. That means consider carefully whether smoking/alcohol/other intoxicants that affect your physical appearance are worth it. It behooves you to keep a regular exercise schedule. Cosmetic surgery is also an option; there are many tells for age you can fix: eyelid and eyebrow droop, under-eye and various other facial lines, hanging chin. Hair dye and grafts are also worth considering, as a receded hairline and whites/grays are obvious tells.

4) It probably goes without saying to keep up your professional network.

5) Another distasteful one, but perhaps worth thinking about: if youre someone who is in the age bracket that is often considered very likely to have a family, but you dont (especially if you dont ever plan to), state it. Signaling that you dont have large, difficult-to-discharge obligations could give you the edge you need; you might get mentally re-bracketed. I havent tried this one, since Im not yet in the bracket nor do I appear to be, but I would probably do so if I were.

6) Companies that are truly hard up for good people (and not just the we cant hire (at the wage we wish to pay) companies) will just have to be more flexible. Maybe they already are.

Until we can fix the social / economic issues that underlie (some parts of) ageism, the above might help someone dealing with it on the ground.

mynameislegion 4 days ago 2 replies      
How is 35 considered old?
Macuyiko 4 days ago 3 replies      
Nice idea, but the site itself is clearly copied from https://weworkremotely.com/jobs/new -- even down to the segment headers. The only notable change is setting the font family to monospaced...
Tistel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh. This is so me. I turned 40 last year. Did CS, writing code is still the fun part of the job. Anyway, I used to maintain a fashionable amount of stubble. This year I noticed my beard was starting to go grey. Now I shave a lot more to hide it. This is the first time in my professional life I have started worrying about being judged on how I look. I also need to change the way I dress. I am too old to keep doing the tshirt, jeans and running shoes thing. I think I will go with: polo shirt, jean and leather shoes. Ha! Those damn whippersnappers won't spot me!

try searching for: "kids in the hall He's Hip. He's Cool. He's 45!"

If the story about Gosling is even 10% accurate, that is shocking.

jontas 4 days ago 0 replies      
At 33, with over a decade of experience as a professional software engineer, I have no interest working for a team that values long hours over steady productivity, elegant solutions, and thoughtful architecture.

I know that plenty of companies have been built "quick and dirty", but honestly I think any company, regardless of size or stage, can benefit from someone with experience gained from building real applications.

I live in NYC, not the valley, so maybe attitudes are a little different here, but I have no trouble finding work at companies that value my experience.

matthewowen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if this has already been observed... but that fateful hiring decision (the lack of cultural fit with the 20-something brogrammers) sounds like a great one: there evidently was poor cultural fit.

I know that you believe your experience is valuable and your perspectives correct. If you didn't, you wouldn't hold those perspectives. But likewise, the exact reason these people are starting their own company versus going and working under you at Xerox is probably because they disagree with your approach.

I don't profess to know what the right answer is here. But I am very skeptical of claims of age discrimination when the author also says that these young 20 somethings don't know what they're doing and don't appreciate the hard won lore an older developer can bring. This clearly undermines the age discrimination notion, because it indicates that there is an attitudinal difference, and that difference could well be a net negative and a thoroughly reasonable thing to hire based on.

Again, this isn't intended as a judgement on who has the right perspective. I think many (not all) younger engineers would have fuller perspectives if they had more hard won experience, but I also think many (not all) older engineers may have a bias toward BigCo approaches that are at a different place with regard to the trade of between quality and speed to first version. But a lot of people start companies because they want to do things their way. Complaining about the way they choose (outside of things that are actually illegal) seems futile.

raffandi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find it troubling to hear that a 37 year old calling themselves old. There is no place for ageism in this world. Everyone has their own merit and it's got nothing to do with their age.
bsder 3 days ago 0 replies      
My one comment would be: GET OUT OF THE VALLEY. People have far less resistance to hiring people of various ages outside of Silicon Valley.
okreallywtf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't work anywhere near silicon valley but I am in a very small (<10 people) dev shop on the east coast and my experience has actually been exactly opposite. Out of the 4 developers I am currently the youngest at 32 (we had a 23 y/o at one point though for a period of time). The IT/dev industry here seems to be older on average with lots of devs in the 40-50 range.

I have noticed some minor ageism towards younger developers but it tends to be more jovial teasing and joking about how lucky younger devs are to have the tech ecosystems that we do as opposed to 10-20 years ago. Most of the ageism I see is related to popular culture (music, movies, etc) which can still be somewhat toxic when any age group assumes that only the media from their generation was good and everything else is crap. I have noticed more bias against devs without formal education (which everyone else has with either bachelors or masters in CS) but if a well self-taught dev without a degree came in I don't think it would be an issue.

For the most part though the "older" (its hard to think of people in their early-mid 40's as old right now) devs have a wealth of experience from whom I parasitically absorb as much as I can. It doesn't hurt that they are as competent in new tech stacks as most younger devs (even if they are more conservative about when to adopt new tools, giving them time to mature). The culture here is that someone has to make a really good case for why we should pull a ton of overtime, more often than not someone made promises they shouldn't have and its not our job to deliver on timeframes we were not consulted on. What OT work I have done I have been compensated extra for but it is partly the influence of the older devs that makes me feel like I should expect compensation when I go above and beyond. Thats not to say I'm not willing to do it to help the company (which helps us all), but I think I was able to pass the naive stage a lot quicker and I could have been taken advantage of much more in a bigger company without our developer culture.

jaysonelliot 3 days ago 0 replies      
When a 37 year old has to say he's "old," there's something terribly wrong with our industry.

How is any industry supposed to build a repository of expertise and wisdom if we're telling people they're washed up before they're even old enough to have their student loans paid off?

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ageism is definitely a thing but its also an interesting strategic advantage. Historically the company with the best mix of experience and energy have been the ones that succeed in the long run. That said, for the first 2 - 5 years of their life a company is pretty much a random series of experiences teaching the employees what they don't know. They have to get to the point where they can actually see that there is a lot to learn and not enough time to learn it before they can value someone who has that experience.

Old engineers are like security enhancements, they seem to cost more than they are worth until you experience an event that would have killed your company if they hadn't been there.

awt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have achieved some consolation for pouring years of my life into technologies which I should have known would become obsolete by spending the last few years studying classical languages (mostly Attic Greek), the knowledge of which will never be obsolete. I believe there is also some value in studying the classics of Computer Science as well (Turing, Shannon, McCarthy, Graham, Dijkstra, etc.), and doing CS archeology (building retro computers from old parts, etc.).

This knowledge won't help me get a job as a coder at an SV startup, but it does help me to understand why I shouldn't try to get it, and to ease the discomfort of a fate of relative poverty.

losteverything 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any jobs? I know:

Format c: /s



And I have my own laplink (with cables!) and will let you borrow my Compaq portable laptop.

agentultra 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it takes all kinds to make a good team. Young, old, men, women, and everyone across the spectrum. As an older geek now it's easy to look back at how nave and energetic I was in my youth... but I did a lot of good work then too. I'm not much slower now but I'm much more calculating and tactical.

I work on a team with an unbalanced mix of age... but working with my younger colleagues is always a pleasure. We help each other back and forth with various aspects of the problem.

nathan_long 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Its not easy getting a job at a Silicon Valley startup of twenty-somethings when youre a 37 year old programmer like me.

 [CTO drives up in an Uber, lowers the window] CTO: "Old woman!" You: "Man!" CTO: "Man, sorry. Who here knows React?" You: "I'm 37, I'm not old!"

rcarmo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm _so_ going to use that walker image. With luck, I'll remember it if I ever need a real walker later on.
mathattack 4 days ago 1 reply      
My 2 cents...

1 - The key to avoiding age discrimination is looking for a boss your age or older. Nothing stops the applicant from pre-selecting companies this way. This is also true if you have kids.

2 - There's less age discrimination ("cultural fit") in the Peninsula than SF because execs are more likely to have families.

gwbas1c 4 days ago 0 replies      
My experience is that a lot of the companies in the valley that are run by young people are very immature. The good companies hire a wide spectrum of experience levels.

"Reading between the lines," I think the original poster needs to be a bit more selective about where he applies.

hellweaver666 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice site but it's very US-centric. Opportunities are available all around the world, why limit to only US states/cities (I have a whole bunch of jobs in Amsterdam that I could share if only it was possible!)
iandanforth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Blog - "Post your jobs free"

Actual website - "Post a job for $50"

DrNuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
A competent old geek is able to set up properly and very quickly but the day-to-day huffing & puffing implies a mix of stamina and boredom, that's why ping pong as a culture fit.
zem 3 days ago 1 reply      
37 (!)

ironically, 37 was the last age at which i felt "young", for some vague psychological reason 38 was the year that tipped me into "sliding towards middle age".

djb_hackernews 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea, and I see age discrimination at my tech company every day, but I think the name is pretty lame and I can see it probably exacerbating the issue.
sjclemmy 3 days ago 0 replies      
As long as you're interested in software development and that's why you get up in the morning, it doesn't matter how old you are.
ThomPete 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Slack and Pando are actively hiring more experienced developers. Think luckily we will see this trend continue.
ensiferum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, so this is an advertisement. It'd be nice if people could clearly label things for what they are.
gopi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Goodluck with your YC application
9NRtKyP4 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see this expanded to London, as someone who is fast approaching old geek status.
jensC 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wished something similar would exist in Germany too. Maybe I should start a oldgeekjobs.de!
kranner 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea but I'm not sure it's a good idea to post non-green jobs at all.
odonnellryan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would absolutely _love_ to have some more experienced people on my team.
emodendroket 4 days ago 0 replies      
How much do people figure this problem is specific to the Bay Area?
DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love it. Good luck!
inanutshellus 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was a 20-something I'd scratch my head at having hired guys that had never heard of version control, and didn't think in OO terms. I turned my nose up to procedural programming they wrote with ease.

I wrote them off at the time out of tech-bias-myopia that is intrinsically age-based. Question is, what will I be written off for that I can then blame on age? What if I disagree with the new trend?

"These young whipper-snappers with their javascripts on the servers! Fools, the whole lot!"

Two years spent spamming spammers back medium.com
454 points by beweinreich  7 days ago   125 comments top 41
kalleboo 7 days ago 4 replies      
This is a great idea. Waste the spammer's time and it's no longer worth it.

The phone version of this is Lenny[0], a set of audio files/Asterisk script which pretends to be a senile, doddering old man (who has a duck problem). There's a reddit user who runs a number you can forward your sales calls to, and he'll pick out the best ones and put on YouTube[1]. The record is keeping a caller on the phone for 56 minutes.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/itslenny/

[1] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLduL71_GKzHHk4hLga0nO... (edit: if you sort the user's videos by most popular, the top one is something quite amazing)

grecy 7 days ago 10 replies      
> Imagine if this type of thing happened in real-life. You walk out the door in the morning and youre immediately attacked by Parul, Kevin, and Amelie.

I laughed out loud at this, because it's exactly what I'm experiencing now in West Africa.

Street vendors are aggressive about selling whatever they have, and they seem to assume I want it - almost like I owe it to them to buy it - I'm not sure if it's because I'm White, or it's just their standard procedure for everyone that walks by.

On my 3 minute walk to the local store, I get a minimum of 10 people in my face, trying to sell me cell phone recharge cards, peanuts and limes. Every single day I say no thanks, every single day they try again, sometimes even on the walk back.

I've tried ignoring them or not responding at all, and that usually makes it worse - they'll yell louder and louder (assuming I have not heard), hiss, make a kissing noise, and eventually put themselves in my way so I'm forced to acknowledge them.

Amazingly, even when I do buy something, and I clearly have it in my hand (a bunch of carrots for example), every single street vendor selling carrots will still try with 100% effort to sell me carrots.

titomc 6 days ago 1 reply      
One spammer realised that he is talking to a bot and asks the bot about the three laws.


wanderr 6 days ago 0 replies      
Back in the olden days, when the ping of death causing a windows BSOD was a thing, if I was online when I got spam I would immediately look for the spammer's ip and send them a ping of death. I could tell it often worked because then I'd get the same spam again 10 minutes later, so I'd do it to them again, then I'd get spammed again and ping them again until eventually they gave up.

I assume their mass mailing program would just start at the top of an email list and send them one by one, without tracking progress, so when the computer crashed they would have to start over. After a few crashes in a row hopefully the spammer would blame the spam sending program for crashing the computer and give up, maybe even demand a refund from whoever sold it to them.

chrissnell 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a script I wrote about a decade ago to deal with phishing sites. My script generated first and last names, email addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers that actual passed checksum validation. It would submit these fake entries to a phishing form just as fast as the remote end would take them, polluting their database/inbox/whatever with thousands of bogus submissions. Besides wasting their time and resources, it also smokescreened any legitimate submissions that might have come through.
ortusdux 7 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the cities that setup robocallers to cut down on illegal signs.


Exuma 7 days ago 1 reply      
This is great, and would be even more brilliant if it could integrate some sort of markov chain, like https://www.reddit.com/r/subredditsimulator

I'd love to see it have random answers that are unique based on the question. Then you make it a global service that hundreds of thousands of people can forward messages to, and then you waste spammers time en masse.

brightball 7 days ago 1 reply      
These guys operate on an ROI basis. If you waste their time you decrease their ROI.

Great tool.

koytch 6 days ago 0 replies      
Effing hilarious. Some years ago I spent a few days writing to a 'Russian bride'. It became instantly clear all replies were scripted, there was no connection at all with what I said (The full text of 'I, Robot'? Oh, what interesting things you do). So I'd say many if not most of the spam scenarios are automated and the whole thing becomes too meta.
MaxLeiter 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you find this funny, I highly recommend this TED talk: "This is what happens when you reply to a spam email"


chrischen 7 days ago 4 replies      
It would be great if someone could implement this as a free public service, using neural algorithms to generate responses.
sztwiorok 7 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea!

I'm sure that GitHub community will help to make it even better


verroq 7 days ago 1 reply      
Should just connect two or more spammers together and let them offer their products to each other.
cxmcc 7 days ago 1 reply      
Love it! For physical spam mails with business reply envelope, I always fold everything back into the envelope and send it back.
wojcikstefan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Aren't most of these spam emails automated anyway? If it's just two bots talking, you're not really wasting anybody's time/resources.
mmwako 6 days ago 1 reply      
I was just wondering: if every person did this with the spam they get (or maybe automatized by Gmail), spammers would be overflowed with bot answers to their spam emails, and would not be able to differentiate between a potential victim's response, and all the bot replys. This has the potential to actually SOLVE the problem of spam. Think this could work?
eljimmy 6 days ago 0 replies      
I once made the mistake of sending a joke reply to a spammer from my legitimate email.

Turned out they pulled my phone number from the WHOIS info on my domain which I can only assume they sold to some marketing companies as I received about a dozen cold calls from various "web agencies" from the states. A lot of them were relentless, calling me repeatedly and leaving voicemails.

codingdave 6 days ago 3 replies      
Sure, great idea, funny and clever and all that.

But I disagree with the idea that inboxes are sacred, and disagree with the attitude of "how dare people send marketing to me!" Fraudulent spam is one thing. Plain old marketing or sales cold calls, though... you know people are going to do it. It is their job. And I'd much rather get emails than I can quickly delete and ignore vs. phone calls. And once in a while, someone actually hits on a service that is useful to me.

So I don't think the real-life scenario of people badgering you outside the door is accurate. The better metaphor would be one comparing your inbox to your actual mailbox. Sure, junk mail is annoying and most of it gets thrown out. But sometimes that restaurant down the street does send coupons.

maouida 7 days ago 0 replies      
Gmail and other popular mail providers should implement something like this.

It would be a big step forward in spam fighting.

the_duke 6 days ago 2 replies      
Hilarious idea.

But one of the first things I would have coded is preventing the same message to be sent again.

The examples are full of that.

gus_massa 7 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone forward an email to that address? :)

Do you have localized versions? [I'm from Argentina and Most of my spam is in Spanish. I guess no. :( ]

robrenaud 6 days ago 0 replies      
There is kind of a interesting Turing test scenario for AI here. Design an AI to maximize number of replies (or total text written) by the spammer. The internet is vast and full of spammers, you'll never run out of real humans providing responses to optimize your system.
abhianet 6 days ago 0 replies      
What happens if I send it a mail from an mlooper address? Can I get it to setup an infinite loop?
Animats 6 days ago 1 reply      
The one for phones has been on HN before. This one for spam is nice, but not yet smart enough. With more smarts and some understanding of the messages, it could keep spammers going forever. It doesn't need to be very intelligent; it just needs to get up to the Eliza level.

If it detects a spam related to search engine optimization, it should have a list of about a hundred plausible questions it can ask on that subject, for example. There aren't that many spammed subjects.

Most email spam, though, is promoting a link, and can't handle an email reply. You'd need something smart enough to go to a web site and sign up with fake credentials.

wdr1 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the guy who set up an automated voice script on his landline to thwart telemarketers:


TheOtherHobbes 7 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant! But... of course some of the spammers are bots themselves.
Lxr 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is hilarious, I love it. I would also love to see this made into a public service with some clever ML algorithms to keep the conversation going as long as possible.
Dagwoodie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Based on the sample of 24 messages back and forth, it looks like the spammer also had a reply bot because a lot of messages exactly the same canned response.
kensai 6 days ago 0 replies      
The dude deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for this. Literally pacifying the interwebs! :D
slinger 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm laughing out loud with these MLooper conversations. Made my day :D

PS: Nice project btw

aomix 6 days ago 0 replies      
I thought spamd passive aggressively insulting spammers and tarpitting their connections was a good effort at wasting their time. This is a big step up from that.
partycoder 6 days ago 1 reply      
Two related funny stories if you have the time:

- The 7 legged spider story.

- The guy that tricked Nigerian spammers into acting the dead parrot sketch from Monty Python

tamersalama 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea! This has the potential of reducing worldwide spam/scam if is implemented by email service providers.
ndesaulniers 6 days ago 0 replies      
Please adapt this for technical recruiters!
imaginenore 7 days ago 0 replies      
Would be cool to have this in GMail.
sztwiorok 7 days ago 1 reply      
Great tool

Please share this on github. we will be able to add our sugestions to the list of answers!

GirlsCanCode 7 days ago 1 reply      
Spam doesn't bother me anymore, but unsolicited phone calls do. The majority of phone calls that come in are not legitimate.
countryqt30 7 days ago 0 replies      
qgaultier 7 days ago 0 replies      
brillant !
mooveprince 7 days ago 0 replies      
Made my day :)
tomrod 7 days ago 0 replies      
To connect the conversation to David Brin, futurologist, philosopher, and author, this sounds an awful like the crystal spheres in Existence.
       cached 2 October 2016 15:11:01 GMT