hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    27 Nov 2010 News
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Gitbox 1.0 released: a version control app for Mac gitboxapp.com
52 points by oleganza 3 hours ago   24 comments top 11
3 points by SandB0x 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The tagline seems quite negative:

"Linus made Git for himself. Gitbox brings Git to everyone."

Without Linus' free creation this app wouldn't exist at all.

1 point by js4all 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Git comes with a GUI tool. Run gitk to see commits, comments, history and diffs. I use it a lot and never needed another GUI tool.

Anyway, great to see a new tool for devs who need more GUI support.

8 points by danieldk 2 hours ago 2 replies      
No Github integration, and does not seem to provide much over GitX. At the very least, GitX does have an inline diff viewer when you browse revisions. In Gitbox you have to click a modified file, and then it will launch FileMerge. Too uncomfortable.
3 points by joao 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There seems to be also another git client coming out this month: http://www.git-tower.com/ " Git Tower

The UI seems a little bit more confusing, not something simple.
I still use GitX.

3 points by nestlequ1k 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've been trying hard to use GitBox for the last 2 month (beta version), but the lack of a quick view for commits makes me always revert back to GitX.

With GitX, I can easily cycle through all the files and see a quick summary of what was changed. With GitBox, I have to double click on every single file to get the diff. Either that, or just blind commit files. Not good options.

GitBox has the best push/pull functionality of any git client so far. But its crappy commit panel is really holds it back.

2 points by JonnieCache 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Obviously the command line version is going to suit most people here better. That is completely missing the point.

This will be perfect for those of us who work in teams with less technical people who still need r/w access to repositories. This will save us from training the designer and manager types in our organisations to use the command line tools, and as such will pay for itself.

1 point by itsnotvalid 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Command line version suits me well. If I need xcode integration, I can use xcode 4 preview, which has merging tools and code comparison boiled in.

By the way the site talks about a discount until Dec 1, I guess I'd skip that discount no matter what, as others mentioned a tool called Git Tower which seems to have a pleaser UI.

Some sites also suggested another open sourced Git UI called Gity http://gngrwzrd.com/ other than GitX which to me is just another blend of git-gui.
In the OSS part Gitnub (https://github.com/Caged/gitnub) is a UI for Github and Git in general, but this one is not pure Cocoa (requires RubyCocoa.

1 point by timc3 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but that just looks confusing. Easy to stick with the shell tools.
1 point by makeramen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
holy crap. this might actually get me to finally make the jump from hg to git.
1 point by dabeeeenster 2 hours ago 3 replies      
65 MB? For a git browser? Really?
1 point by fuxx0r 1 hour ago 1 reply      
so, iam on ppc, will you provide 10.5 in the future?
HN Office Hours hnofficehours.com
258 points by sahillavingia 12 hours ago   60 comments top 31
42 points by ezl 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Oh poop. I'm the ezl from the github repo where that source lives. Was hoping we'd have more time to fix it before being embarassed.

HNOH was intended to be a quick weekend project (famous last words). We didn't quite make it in the weekend, so we just let it hang out in his half complete state.

rguzman, smalter, and I have been meaning to put some love into it, but we've been slammed working on what we think will be our real startup, http://www.leasely.com, so we've not really carved out the time.

Its broken and buggy, the calendar features don't work right, and there are issues with creating/canceling recurring office hours. We'd LOVE for this to be used in real life, but its not in a state we can really say we're super proud of yet. We want anyone who wants to be involved to get involved, so if you have hours to donate, please get in touch.

The heavy lifting was done by HN users: rguzman, deuterium, C Allen from NYC (github.com/bitemyapp/, http://bitemyapp.com), and a few others.

So we f-ed up, there are still bugs, and its been on the backburner since we're trying to work on leasely but now we've been embarassed into fixing the bugs so we will.

[edit: linked to C Allen's github and personal page]

8 points by petercooper 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's an interesting idea technically, though socially people, in the main, find it difficult to pick up the phone and talk to someone they know nothing about (beyond a few tags and a name).

Even showing a Gravatar and making it mandatory to provide a homepage URL or Twitter link would allow users to do a quick bit of "research" on someone they want to call in order to feel more comfortable and to build up a little virtual rapport ahead of time.

8 points by jjcm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
A "other methods of communication" field would be a nice thing to have as well. IRC handles/servers would be something I'd like to add, and I'm sure other people have their own unique forms of communication they'd like to make themselves available by.
3 points by chime 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome project and very cleanly executed. Minor bugs:

1) I shouldn't be able to add "web design" skill twice.

2) When entering skills, I get the ajax list but I can't click on it to select it (Chrome 9dev).

3) Timezones should be sorted by time, not location.

2 points by jackowayed 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It might also be interesting to setup something where you just post tagged questions and then people can look at the tags that they know about and answer them.

I guess that would basically be an HN Opzi. (http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/27/opzi-a-quora-for-the-enterp...)

4 points by ElliotH 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A link to the original discussion thread and/or an explanation of what this is actually for would be great! (The about page is no help).
2 points by tansey 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Great! Love it! Found one small bug: when you view a user's profile, your own profile name at the top becomes a link to the viewed user's profile rather than your own.
11 points by pero 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome; a web-based chat interface would be a killer feature however.
3 points by Tichy 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Great idea. Unfortunately it made me realize that I don't feel like I am much of an expert in anything atm. Time to learn some new skills.
6 points by rodion_89 11 hours ago 1 reply      

This throws an error.
Also, DEBUG = False

4 points by docgnome 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd suggest adding IRC handle to the ways of contact.
1 point by jlees 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be interesting to also add IRC handles as a contact method.
2 points by aridiculous 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a great idea. It's much more personal than the stack sites and feels more like a mentorship set-up (a la big brother, big sister). I also think that the 1-to-1 connection is encouraging for askers: I oftentimes don't post to stackoverflow because I don't know if the question will ever be answered. At least there is a better chance of some form of life responding from the other end.

Well done. I hope to see it take off.

1 point by trouble 6 hours ago 2 replies      
"myusername has not listed his skills."

should be:

"myusername has not listed her skills."

or, more neutrally:

"myusername has not listed their skills."

Edit: I wrote this comment because I'm a woman and it can be a bit jarring to see myusername referred to as 'he'. I wasn't commenting on grammar; just trying to express my thought that if a website is going to refer to someone by gender, then it should be done neutrally unless the option to select a gender is provided.

2 points by pyre 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does "Upcoming Office Hours" include "From Aug. 4, 2010, 2 a.m. to Aug. 19, 2010, 5 a.m."?
2 points by Groxx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Needs availability views based on tags. Really needs that.
2 points by swanson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by PedroCandeias 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Even though there are already sites like StackExchange, I think this project has (potentially) a character of its own. Sadly, it doesn't seem to want anything to do with me. I get the following error when trying to signup:

"The url does not appear to be in your hn profile. Please paste http://hnofficehours.com/profile/PedroCandeias/ into your hn profile. Note the trailing slash."

Even though I did include the url in my profile.

## Edit
It finally acknowledged my existence, but I had to add linebreaks before and after the url in my profile.

1 point by laxj11 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just used this and Dragon Silicon was incredibly helpful. This site just helps add to the fact that the internet is full of kind strangers. not to sound like a creep or anything. yeah.
1 point by lisper 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a reason that profiles don't have email as a contact mode?
1 point by olalonde 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I get "olalonde does not appear to be a registered HN username".
1 point by JoeCortopassi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else think it's weird to use your Hacker News username to login? I know you're supposed to use different passwords for different locations, but this seems like an easy opportunity to do some social engineering to come up with a username/password list.
1 point by jasonmcalacanis 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a very neat idea.
2 points by cool-RR 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting. But what reason is there to use this over one of the StackExchange websites?
1 point by initself 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I just tried to contact ezl on both AOL and Gtalk. Showing online on HN Office Hours, he was offline on both networks, at least by way of Meebo.
1 point by sayemm 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea, well done - this could be the start of something pretty interesting
2 points by brendoncrawford 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The "AIM" field needs to allow more characters. Keep in mind that AIM allows email addresses as usernames.
1 point by davidandgoliath 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea, nasty error here though:
1 point by JonathanBouman 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Great job! Found a small bug over here:
1 point by multiplegeorges 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Buggy as you say it is, I think this is a great idea and I intend to donate time and use it.

Great idea!

1 point by snow_mac 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So, we can go here and ask people for help basically?
Google and Microsoft Cheat on Slow-Start. Should You? benstrong.com
381 points by bstrong 21 hours ago   59 comments top 19
25 points by sh1mmer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't much of a secret. As it says in the article Google are lobbying to change the initial window size in the RFC. A lot of people here at Yahoo! want to see that too, and personally I think we should be more aggressive with our initial window, RFC be damned.

This topic was covered really well by Amazon's John Rauser at Velocity Conf: http://velocityconf.com/velocity2010/public/schedule/detail/...

To address the points in the conclusion:

1. Fast is good. Fast is also profit.

2. The net-neutrality argument here is totally bogus, anyone that knows how can up their slow-start window today if they choose to. There doesn't really have anything to do with traffic shaping.

3. Google have been using their usual data driven approach to support their proposal for IETF. We need a lot more of that. It's great. The only way we can really find out how the Internet in general will react to changes like this is to test them in some real world environment.

4. I agree, slow-start is a good algorithm with a very valid purpose. The real problem here is that the magic numbers powering it aren't being kept inline with changes to connectivity technology and increases in consumer/commercial bandwidth.

23 points by ig1 20 hours ago 0 replies      
There's all sorts of latency problems caused by the congestion window size (and how it gets reset), because of how the algorithm works unless you're sending a continuous stream of data (which allows the congestion window to grow) than the window gets reset to it's initial size which can mean waiting for an ack round-trip before you get the whole message.

While it's not that big a deal if your users are local to you, if they're on a different continent each extra roundtrip can easily add 100ms.

I used to do TCP/IP tuning for low latency trading applications (sometimes you need to use a third party data protocol so can't just use UDP), this sort of stuff used to bite us all the time.

If latency is important it is worth sitting down with tcpdump and seeing how your website loads (i.e how many packets, how many acks, etc.) as often there are ways of tweaking connection setting (either via socket options or kernel settings) that can result in higher performance.

(Try using tcp_slow_start_after_idle if you're using a recent linux kernel; this won't give you a bigger initial window, but it means once your window size has grown it won't get reset straight away if you have a gap between data sends)

19 points by Pahalial 19 hours ago 4 replies      
This is interesting, but the article and I differ greatly at this point: "Being non-standards-compliant in a way that privileges their flows relative to others seems more than a little hypocritical from a company that's making such a fuss about network neutrality."

No, no it's not. This has nothing to do with network neutrality; it's a purely server-side change/fix. Not only that, they're benefiting users without requiring anyone else to change while they wait for standards bodies to catch up. This is a similar scenario to HTML5 video, and distinctly more clear-cut than e.g. '802.11n draft' wireless routers in my opinion.

14 points by ajb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Google is proposing this should be allowed as a modification to rfc-3390. Their draft is http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-hkchu-tcpm-initcwnd-01. Active discussion of the issue may be found at http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/tcpm/current/maillist.h...
9 points by ergo98 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Very interesting. Is such a thing configurable in Apache or nginx? It seems to be a rather rude behavior, but I'm curious how accessible it is.
5 points by arturadib 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Really interesting research, but man, if you really, really have to worry about premature optimization for your web app, I'd start with the usual bottlenecks first - i.e. anything that involves disk IO and/or processor work, such as databases and mathematical calculations.

Unless you are serving static content only (in which case you are hardly creating an "app"), the milliseconds you might save with TCP-level optimizations are peanuts in comparison to the multiple seconds your database and computations will be requiring.

1 point by tlrobinson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"They actually managed to deliver the whole response in just 70ms, 30ms of which was spent generating the response"

Isn't part of that just the network latency? Based on the timestamps for the SYN and SYN-ACK it looks like a RTT of about 16ms.

EDIT: Nevermind.

Request was sent by the client at 00.017437

Request ACK was received by the client at 00.037139

RTT of about 20ms, so the request was received by the server around 00.027

First packet of the response was received by the client at 00.067151

67-27=40. Assuming a latency of 10ms it took 30ms to generate the request.

1 point by fleitz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
One should also note that when IE is talking to IIS, the request will be sent in the first packet and the initial response will be sent in the first ACK. You can actually complete a request and response (if small enough) in 3 packets. Also, when tearing down the connection, it's left half-open.


5 points by epi0Bauqu 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what you would do to easily tune this for FreeBSD?
2 points by matthiasl 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone else repeat his experiment?

I tried repeating the experiment. I'm in Sweden, so, annoyingly, a request to google.com redirects to google.se. If I send my request directly to google.se, I get 9k response in 130ms and the initial window looks like 4 to me, i.e. I can't see anything unexpected happening.

I then tried repeating on Amazon EC2. I can't see anything unexpected there either, but the RTT from EC2 to google is only about 3ms, which means I can't assume that the ACKS don't get there.

(The original article author looks at how long the initial 3-way handshake takes and then assumes that all packets take that long, or, probably, half as long, i.e. he assumes that ACKS sent up to one RTT before a packet from google can't have arrived at google in time to affect that packet)

Can anyone else reproduce the experiment?

Other ideas: repeat from Sweden, but send a cookie so that I really get google.com. Repeat from EC2, but make sure I never send any ACKs after the three-way handshake. I'm not curious enough to do the latter, it's a fair bit of work.

4 points by necro 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There was a large discussion earlier about the subject. I posted detailed comments in that thread so I won't repost but just link. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1143317
3 points by vinutheraj 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission" - Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
4 points by sdizdar 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems Linux does not have option to skip slow start and just use receiver's advertised window.
Does anybody know where in net/ipv4/tcp.c this should be set?
1 point by jhrobert 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe the current limit for slow-start are not adapted to the current Internet anymore.

According to my own observations, the first 30Ko of my pages seem to be transfered faster then the next 30ko. It is not until much more is sent that the average throughput eventually get up to what it was during the first 30ko.

This is definitely weird.

Note: I am using Ubuntu on EC2 hosted VMs.

As a result, for as much as I can, I try to keep the size of my content below 30ko, using multiple concurrent HTTP requests.

I believe this is related to "slow-start" being pessimistic.

Unfortunately, "slow-start" is not configurable on Linux and I don't feel confident enough to go with some kernel level patch...

Any clue?

1 point by bengtan 4 hours ago 0 replies      
On Ubuntu 8.04 (at least), you can set this per route via something like:

ip route change default via x.x.x.x dev eth0 initcwnd 6

but please test thoroughly if trying this.

2 points by bemmu 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Do app engine apps also serve like this?
-4 points by iepaul 20 hours ago 0 replies      
very interesting post.
-2 points by phillijw 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. But it really annoys me when people use "begs the question" incorrectly. Look it up!
-1 point by d0m 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting, but there are so much more important things to consider before worrying about the load time. (i.e. 0 user experiencing 30 ms is far worst..)
How Ultima Online rares were born raphkoster.com
63 points by Volscio 8 hours ago   15 comments top 6
17 points by alexophile 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In my youth, I had what could only really be called an obsession with Ultima Online, I played it on and off (including playing on and running independent servers,) for the better part of a decade and the economics of the world were always really intriguing to me. When I started playing, it was totally possible to make a living as a humble miner. At some point, we started stealing ore - I'm not proud of it, but early UO was a very Hobbesian place.

But things started to get really interesting once everyone was capable of reliably accumulating more gold than practically necessary (I preferred hunting liches on the fourth level of Deceit) the de facto currency became overt displays of wealth. The built in prices became meaningless. There was a market for housing that differed in interesting ways from shard to shard. There were whole malls that housed secondary markets for bulk purchases of reagents and crafting supplies.

I literally went furniture shopping for my house at the carpenter shop in the mall run by Dragon's Claw in a castle outside Britain... and while I was there, I probably picked up some regs.

As a player, I remember the early days of the pure black dye tub. IIRC I bought my first one for 25,000 gold [edit: for reference, a boat cost 15k, and a house deed, 40k] and instantly dyed everything I owned this anti-color. It was a very trying time, waking up not knowing if your valuables were still there. But it's really interesting to read the events from the perspective of a very reasonably upset artist. The way they ended up handling the black dye tub, however, became the sort of precedent for this type of incident.

The most compelling aspect of UO was the diverse ways in which people made use of the world and its resources - and OSI seemed to be, on the whole, fairly receptive to these things. One other good example was the practice of "Server Wars." Every Sunday morning, the server would save and go down for updates. When this happened, everyone would get a grey message after which no activity would be saved, but the server would stay up for a while. This became the worldwide cue to go to your local graveyard for a colossal melee which would be wiped away when the server came up.

I could go on at great length about other ways in which the world of UO was great, but I'm moving tomorrow and really need to sleep.

7 points by patio11 5 hours ago 3 replies      
It is interesting for me, in a lot of ways, that MMORPG developers scorned virtual items sales and claimed they would never work (and later, that they would never work in the US) for literally decades while simultaneously trying to stamp out thriving markets in their games... and then Zynga blindsided them "out of nowhere" with how much money could be extracted through sales of virtual goods. There was always a strong ideological component to the "no real money transactions in our games" -- and for a while it not only defeated the clear business benefits of swapping stuff for money, it successfully convinced the industry that that was an unviable model despite them being literally engaged in a losing holding action against that very model.
5 points by phaedrus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea of an item being rare due to emergent properties reminds me of something cool from Diablo 1. There was at least one unique item that shared a "kind" slot with another, lower level unique. Due to a bug, the game would always choose the lesser item. This might have made the other item not just rare but actually impossible to get, except for an interaction with another feature: if a unique dropped once in a game, the same unique would not drop again. This mechanism took the lower level unique out of the running, allowing the other one to drop - but only if this same kind of unique were chosen twice per game.

So the probability of finding the second unique was P(A|B). That is, the probability of finding it in any random game was probability of A given B. Out of the four billion 32-bit seed integers the random number generator for Diablo 1 might be initialized with, only a handful satisfied this requirement.

12 points by sabj 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah, one of so many reasons I loved UO!

@patio11, I think the scorn for virtual item sales was not always just one of condescension. Rather, the idea was born from a certain economic understanding. If the belief was that virtual item sales would be a fraction of subscriptions, but that virtual sales could upset gameplay and unbalance games, harming the play experience and undermining the community, they were to be eschewed. At least, that was an argument that I would see a lot.

4 points by makeramen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
this reminds me of the missingno glitch in pokemon blue/red from my elementary school days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MissingNo.)
1 point by spc476 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like they might have learned the lessons of Habitat (http://www.fudco.com/chip/lessons.html - long but worth it; if you want to skip to the relevant portion, scroll down to the "A Warning" section, or to the "Keeping 'Reality' Consistent" and keep in mind this was about 25 years ago).
Apple bans Android magazine app cnn.com
75 points by rooshdi 10 hours ago   52 comments top 8
23 points by semanticist 9 hours ago 2 replies      
He says that the question is 'where is this going?' - I think that's been pretty clear now for years.

The Apple App Store exists to provide additional value to owning an iPhone, which in turn directly makes Apple money, which is what Apple's in business to do.

Google don't care what you promote in their app store because they're not making money selling devices. Android only matters to them as a means of increasing take-up of the mobile web, and as a way of displaying more adverts. You can promote the iPhone in an Android app because Google don't lose out if you switch - they're displaying adverts on websites regardless of the mobile operating system.

Apple, on the other hand, do lose out and so don't want you to hear about the latest Android phones.

I can see the philosophical arguments against Apple's position and for openness, but I have a hard time seeing any business arguments against Apple's position. And ultimately, if Apple's control of their platform offends you then you should protest in the most effective way possible: by not buying their device in the first place.

25 points by Groxx 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Oh come on, like that's a surprise:

  3. Metadata (name, descriptions, ratings, rankings, etc)
3.1 Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected

This deserves a "duh". Honestly, what were they expecting?

This strikes me as flamebait-generation and little else.

4 points by thought_alarm 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The iTunes App Store is a very valuable and powerful marketing, publishing, sales, and distribution resource. It was created by Apple to attract 3rd party developers to the iPhone, with the ultimate goal of selling more devices to more users. They succeeded wildly.

Apple would not and cannot prevent you from reading an Android magazine on your iPhone, but they are under no obligation to publish, market, distribute, and sell anyone's content, especially one dedicated solely to a competing product.

If someone wants to sell an Android magazine to iPhone users they're going to have to publish, market, and distribute it themselves, over the web, just like they would have to if the App Store didn't exist. Why would anyone expect to use Apple's marketing resources to advertise a competing product? Well, they wouldn't. But it does make for a nice publicity stunt, apparently.

Placement in the App Store isn't a right, it's a privilege, just like any other store.

8 points by angrycoder 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I know hating on the apple is all the rage these days, but that is like walking into the Coke company store and bitching because they won't let you sell Pepsi tee shirts there.
1 point by siculars 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
What kind of restrictions will the app store for the next os x release, lion, have?

Yes, I realize it is in the ToS as Groxx pointed out but come on. This is just getting ridiculous.

7 points by billmcneale 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This gives us a good idea of what an Apple monopoly would look like. Suddenly, Microsoft's monopoly doesn't look that evil, does it?

Thanks Google and thanks Android for giving us an alternative.

7 points by Qz 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wait, there are Steve Jobs action figures?
0 points by siglesias 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think there's something rather juvenile about pointing out that every well-meaning rule or law based system has its hazy areas, gray zones, and ambiguities. The developer here is ostensibly exercising deliberate provocation.

I'd much rather wait until a well-meaning, well-intended app, one that is attempting to be useful to a regular person, is rejected for unreasonable reasons and get outraged about that. This meanwhile is clearly a bid for attention.

Somebody who is deliberately provoking Apple for reasons "uphill" from more insidious reasons is wasting our time. In my opinion most slippery slope arguments are just bad arguments used to make something look much worse than it is.

The unbearable lameness of web 2.0 koehntopp.de
4 points by kgarten 1 hour ago   1 comment top
1 point by brazzy 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Very valid points - but I suspect the main barrier to this kind of thing is that every single "social" site out there wants to be the aggregator and sees others only as potential input for its own service.

Smart aggregation would require some degree of collaboration and standards, and anyone supporting it risks making their own service a subordinate source.

Even though this kind of thing would be extremely useful to users, companies will only embrace it if the added value helps driving users to their own service more than to others.

Eliminate the Computer Science major bendmorris.com
28 points by bendmorris 5 hours ago   32 comments top 18
18 points by baddox 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm getting my CS degree because I want to know and understand computer science. This article is just wrong in so many ways.

The author may be surprised to know that just because most of us CS majors will become programmers doesn't mean that we all want to take a "Programming" degree that would probably boil down to vocational training. There's nothing wrong with having vocational programming courses, but I don't know if universities are where they belong.

Secondly, there is a false dichotomy here between "programming" and "theoretical computer science." Theoretical computer science is merely a part (albeit an important one) of the field of computer science. There's also things like operating systems, databases, networking, graphics, and probably more. All these fields have overlaps with actual programming and theoretical computer science, but aren't solely in one or the other.

As an aside, I think the term "theoretical computer science" is often applied too broadly, since I wouldn't consider things like algorithms/data structures, AI methods like image recognition and data mining, and multiprocessing to be all that theoretical, since they don't require mathematical rigor to understand or produce useful results.

My Algorithms and Data Structures class didn't have much math at all. Complexity theory edit: and algorithm analysis did require brushing up on some summations and limits from calculus, but it was taught from a very practical perspective. My Languages and Machines class, ostensibly the most "theoretical" of all, has been my favorite class, and other than some basic digital logic it had no math at all. That's not to say it wasn't formal or rigorous; it just wasn't what I would consider purely theoretical.

The author claims that CS students don't plan to be computer scientists, but rather programmers. I am and will always be a computer scientist, and I will probably work as a programmer for most of my life. I see no contradiction or foolishness there.

1 point by lyudmil 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think almost everyone would agree with the crust of the argument, but I don't think CS degrees need to be eliminated. I think there's room for reform.

As in any other engineering discipline there are two distinct aspects in Computer Science. One is the "more theoretical" part, which deals with topics such as complexity, AI, operations research, language construction, databases, etc. Then, there is the "more practical" part, which deals with the application of the above theories to produce real solutions (what we usually refer to as "programming").

I think clearly universities are well-equipped to cover the first part. It fits well with current teaching methods and there's no reason to believe the courses would be substantially different from courses in mathematics.

The second part, which is what most students arguably want to learn how to do, is where I think universities really struggle. Firstly, many academics in the field aren't really qualified to teach the stuff since they have very little, often outdated knowledge of the industry. Secondly, to effectively teach "programming" you have to take on board a lot of subjective criteria. What makes good design or good code is inherently ambiguous. To my mind, effective "programming" courses have to be a lot like writing courses, where teachers lack objective criteria and teach their students best practices based on their experience of reading and writing good code. This is something CS academics are reluctant to accept, but if they did we could finally have effective CS education.

2 points by philwelch 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The OP's complaint seems to be mediocre students, not the BSCS. Don't eliminate the BSCS, just have higher standards for students.

I'm just finishing up a BSCS, and frankly the CS stuff seems pretty helpful overall. Algorithm design and analysis builds up my problem solving chops, AI teaches me interesting techniques, and automata and languages gives me a good theoretical basis behind development folk wisdom like "you'll never have sufficient test coverage to get rid of ALL the bugs" and "you can't parse HTML with regular expressions". Compilers and operating systems give me great examples of how to design and structure a large system.

On the other hand, the "software engineering" courses I've taken seem to be teaching little more than 1990's era process and testing methodologies. My school has an apparent fondness for teaching RUP, a methodology invented by IBM[1] to sell CASE tools. The best explanation I've gotten from instructors about this is a combination of "defined process models give us something we can write exams for" and "students need to be familiarized with formal process models in case they run into them in industry". I won't say I've learned absolutely nothing from these classes--there's some good stuff in the testing class about how to design tests[2], and the first software engineering class assigned readings from The Mythical Man-Month (always worthwhile) and taught us through experience that going through the correct processes and writing up all the design documents IBM wants you to stretches out a 2 developer, 2 week project to an entire semester for 9 developers, plus you don't finish the project.

On balance, I'd say the people who know about computer science are university faculty, and the people who know about software development are developing software somewhere else, and I'd rather learn something useful about computer science from competent computer scientists rather than learning about software development from people who don't actually develop software.

[1] By "IBM", I mean "a company that IBM has later acquired".

[2] Especially if you're coding in Java, C++, or C#. The software engineering curriculum hasn't quite caught up to the idea that different kinds of languages are used to develop actual applications.

3 points by arethuza 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"Computer Science students, however, don't go to college to become computer scientists. They go to learn 'programming'."

When I finished my CS degree in 1988 I remember considering what it was that I had been educated to do (I think this is really only apparent at the end a course) - it was pretty obvious: we had been educated to a level where the "natural" thing to do was continue on to do postgraduate research. The vocational element of our course was (thankfully) very low, there was a distinct (and times alarming) theoretical component but you also had to do a lot of development work. But developing stuff was a means to an end of demonstrating an understanding of the course material, rather than an end in itself.

So I went to university to learn about the academic field called computer science - not to learn to program (which frankly, isn't that difficult).

20+ years on I'm rather pleased with the course I did and the subsequent six years I did in academic research - I've used a lot of maths in various jobs (industrial simulation, investment banking, even more industrial modeling), it was a good course, with a good class and excellent teachers in a great location. I even met the chap who became the first investor in our startup through the course - he had graduated from it about 20 years earlier.

So yes, don't do a CS course to help you become a "standard" developer - it is almost completely irrelevant and will probably frustrate and confuse.

3 points by nkassis 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This debate will never end. A lot of it has to do with unrealistic expectation. 4 Years is not enough to learn a field and become good enough to be proficient at it for most people. The good programmers I know started as teenagers. That means they had a head start before going to college. I believe this is representative but I don't know of any studies on this.

As others have pointed out there is now a lot of schools that have Software Engineering as a separate major. It's still debatable if it's a better way to go. I'm not yet convinced that people graduating with Software Engineering degree aren't as bad as Comp Sci major early in their career due to my first point.

Finally there are also those suggesting community colleges giving more vocational training as a way to go. I have one friend who has gone that route and he's a pretty good programmer. He did start very early also. We were hacking code together in middle school.

Finally it's really up to the companies hiring to understand this, I know that it's common practice for engineering firms who hire engineers out of school give them a year of training or have him paired with a mentor. This is important.

I'm hard pressed to find a single job a person with an undergrad in anything could do directly out of college without some training. Good professional jobs usually require graduate school. Even accounting usually require more than 4 years (internship) before being completed (same with engineering.)

Edit: many people here on HN will say that they didn't need school to become good programmers. That is true but how many years have these people been programming for?I bet it's at more than 5 years on average by the time they are 18.

4 points by abless 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It should be something in between.
I have done my undergrad at Cambridge and I am now at Stanford, and the curricula differ a lot. Cambridge is very theoretical, and teaches a lot about core computer science - they love functional programming, discrete mathematics, denotational semantics etc. Stanford, on the other hand, is much more hands-on. It's more project-based, where you have to actually implement something. At the same time, I feel that students here learn less about the theory.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I feel lucky to have the theoretical background as an undergrad and now be able to apply that knowledge as a grad at Stanford. I think there has to be something in between, and computer science as a major should not be on either ends of the extremes (theory/application).

I do not want to see a CS major who has no clue about programming any more than I want to see a CS guy who lacks the theoretical understanding of his subject.

3 points by JeanPierre 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Computer Scientist from NTNU (Norway) here. During the 3 first semesters we have 5 pure mathematical courses, which consist of ordinary and partial differential equations, Laplace, Fourier, statistics, numerical methods, complex numbers, discrete mathematics, linear algebra and probably lots of other things which I've forgot to add in. We also have digital design, basic electrical circuits and physics. To learn about algorithms and data structures, we have a course where "Introduction to Algoritms" by Cormen is the curriculum. So far, we've only had one course where we've learned Java, and that course mostly focused on object-oriented programming - not Java itself.

I'm not sure whether the computer science major is that bad over in the states, but if it is, maybe you should take a look at how we do it?

3 points by InclinedPlane 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is that the Computer Science college curriculum (specifically the Bachelor's of Science degree) has become the de facto requirement for software engineering careers. It's being pulled from different angles (toward a trade college degree in software engineering on the one hand and toward pure science on the other) and has failed utterly at satisfying either requirement. Ultimately the biggest improvement in the situation will come from separating out the software engineering training requirement off on its own (whatever form that takes).
1 point by strlen 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The article a false assumption that it's possible to be a good software developer without understanding the basics of Computer Science (whether through university or self- education).

It's not, not even in the bread and butter application development tasks: imagine writing an accounting system without knowing how to accurately handle decimal values[1] or what a B-Tree index is or what a race condition is. I won't even begin to mention systems/library/algorithm implementation work.

Degrees that cover programming without computer science do exist, but they intended for developers who want to transition to (people or project) management.

[1] E.g.,

  alex@jupiter:~$ python
>>> 1-.3

1 point by yason 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
I would like to move computer science back to being strictly part of mathematics and make a computer science major's curriculum contain ..." of programming and ..." of CS theory and mathematics.

Then we would need second-level/bachelor's CS degrees in polytechnic/vocational schools where it would be ..." of programming and ..." of CS theory and mathematics.

Both would take at least four years and be much more merciless in letting students continue to the next year, i.e. no dumbing down of the courses.

3 points by dangrossman 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Many schools around here already have a second major that focuses on the profession of programming instead of theory: Software Engineering.
1 point by Groxx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I could've used more theory in my CS major, but in fitting with the article, I've learned much more outside of class than inside. My profs have been very helpful, and have absolutely aided in this, but few classes have provided me with anything I didn't pick up in 1/10th of the time prior to the class. Though that's likely true for anyone who's very interested in their field.

In defense of the course, we have programming from the very beginning. I'd assume everyone who had gone through even a couple classes could solve FizzBuzz quickly - a fair number of the recent applicants where I work couldn't, despite nearly all of them carrying degrees (I graduate soon).

2 points by sutro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope that someday in the not-too-distant future programming will be considered the new literacy and will become a foundational requirement for every discipline and major, just as writing is today.
3 points by iopuy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
“Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” "Edsger W. Dijkstra
1 point by epo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
My CS degree was a sandwich course (UK), I did 2 years at college, a full year working for an employer (of my choice, the college had the power of veto) and a final year back at college, I did a postgrad after.

The industrial training year was the only thing of real value. It taught me professional discipline and the importance of delivering what the customer wanted, and of finding out what they wanted if that wasn't clear at the outset. Everything computer specific I learned on my course (compiler theory?) was either irrelevant, outdated at the time, or became so shortly after.

1 point by A1kmm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is, knowing how to program without understanding much computer science is useful only for the most basic of tasks, and I expect that the demand for some of those more basic tasks, or at least for people to know a generic programming language (as opposed to something more domain specific) is going to dry up as the underlying problems are solved in more generic ways, and higher level languages become increasingly more feasible for programmers with computer science backgrounds to use in production without the need for vocational-training-only programmers to churn out their boilerplate.
2 points by goalieca 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, is programming even degree worthy? If you wanted to learn just programming then make it a 2 year diploma.
-2 points by BornInTheUSSR 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Computer science is bullshit, it should really be taught as an art curriculum with code as the medium.
What the HTTP is CouchApp? couchapp.org
47 points by cosgroveb 9 hours ago   14 comments top 9
18 points by petervandijck 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Calling the standard stack "fragile custom code" doesn't do much for their credibility here. I mean, really. Fragile?
1 point by pepijndevos 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Your site can be faster than theirs, if you serve it from localhost."

Is there some arcane wisdom in here, or is this just stupidity? Sure, if I run Google on my own computer, and replicate it to my laptop, they will both be very fast... and need quantum HDs for storage.

4 points by va_coder 7 hours ago 2 replies      
map reduce for a blog - brilliant!

now in the real world:

   select data
from this_table and this_table and this_table and that_table
where there was no previously defined relationship
but users need this data with the new relationship
and have it done in a few minutes

1 point by JamesNK 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So have any real world applications successfully used this as a framework?

It looks interesting but I see any moderately complex web app, i.e. more than CRUD, hitting a wall of complexity when using CouchApp as a base. You eliminate so called "fragile custom code" up until the point where the framework doesn't support something and you need the custom code anyway, except now there is the overhead of getting custom code working together with everything else. At which point you wonder what was the point?

1 point by gaiusparx 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Where normally does a couchapp put its application/business logic? At client side javascript?
1 point by aneth 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure how I feel about exposing my database directly to a client. This means all security regarding reading and writing any data must be handled in CouchDB. Not knowing about CouchDB, the existence of CouchApp leads me to believe there must be some way to do this, but I can't see how this would be possible with MySQL or Postgres.

Cell level security in a database? Hmm.

4 points by vyrotek 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Apparently, Not Found
1 point by benblack 4 hours ago 0 replies      
CouchApp really is excellent marketing, folks, and I congratulate you. As I'm sure you know, any database with an HTTP interface will do exactly the same thing. Riak, for example. I leave you to your normal round of thoughtful, reasoned NoSQL vs RDBMS debate.
1 point by Pickhardt 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This project really challenges a lot of my assumptions. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

I'm going to sleep on it.

The Only OS X Shortcut You Need to Remember adamwalters.info
128 points by adamwalters 16 hours ago   48 comments top 13
10 points by onedognight 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Except in Firefox which redirects to the Mozilla website instead.
18 points by J3L2404 16 hours ago 10 replies      
Cmd + Space for Spotlight search box is very handy.
1 point by epo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Metadata searches are cool though I haven't found a comprehensive description, e.g. type name:foo to find all objects with foo in the name, kind:pdf wil find all PDFs. These may be combined, e.g. name:foo kind:pdf has the expected result.
1 point by siddhant 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Without a third party plugin, I can only think of Spotlight, which turns out to be good enough.
4 points by kaffeinecoma 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan of Cmd + , which opens the Preferences dialog.
2 points by te_chris 10 hours ago 0 replies      
one which i stumbled upon by accident is pressing option when you're in a menu. e.g the apple menu at the top of the screen: If you press option while you're looking at this menu certain menu items change - in this case about this mac becomes system profiler. Also if you press shift in this situation force quite becomes force quit active application.
2 points by stretchwithme 11 hours ago 0 replies      
And from there, the right arrow key takes you to all the system menu items.
3 points by mr_november 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Cmd + tab (cycling b/w open apps) and Cmd + ` (cycling b/w open windows of app with focus) are definitely my 2 most-used shortcuts.
2 points by mmphosis 14 hours ago 0 replies      
System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Application Shortcuts > All Applications > Show Help menu > Command Shift /


1 point by il 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Shift + CMD + /? Three button shortcut for help? What happened to F1 being the universal help key?
1 point by parenthesis 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Use ctrl+F2 and then the arrow keys and return to select menu items.
1 point by shabble 11 hours ago 0 replies      

   M-? is undefined

1 point by doublegee 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Shift + CMD + / doesn't work for Textmate, it says "Warning: On Leopard the menu item searching is prone to crashing, so we have disabled the key equivalent. Sorry about the inconvenience."
PyPy 1.4: Ouroboros in practice morepypy.blogspot.com
115 points by aaw 17 hours ago   13 comments top 5
8 points by orangecat 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting and promising. PyPy 1.4:

    >>>> t1 = time.time(); a=[x*x for x in xrange(1000000)]; time.time()-t1
>>>> t1 = time.time(); a=[x*x+math.sin(x/1000000.) for x in xrange(1000000)]; time.time()-t1

Python 2.7:

    >>> t1 = time.time(); a=[x*x for x in xrange(1000000)]; time.time()-t1
>>> t1 = time.time(); a=[x*x+math.sin(x/1000000.) for x in xrange(1000000)]; time.time()-t1

Both running in 64-bit on a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo. It looks like PyPy's JIT has some fixed overhead, but can heavily optimize operations once it gets going.

8 points by timtadh 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Currently testing a CPU intensive algorithm I need for my current research project. Hoping it will save me some time. When I am done I will post the results!


Pretty good so far!

hendersont@glycineportable src $ time pypy sleepytree/test_metricspace.py
Ran 7 tests in 39.621s


real 0m39.675s
user 0m39.150s
sys 0m0.170s
hendersont@glycineportable src $ time python sleepytree/test_metricspace.py
Ran 7 tests in 69.442s


real 1m9.483s
user 1m8.970s
sys 0m0.110s

4 points by RyanMcGreal 12 hours ago 3 replies      
>PyPy is a very compliant Python interpreter, almost a drop-in replacement for CPython.

What still works in CPython but not PyPy?

4 points by dochtman 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is the first PyPy release that's actually viable to use for me (because of x86-64). Very exciting!

(Hope they catch up with 2.6 - or 2.7 - soon, though.)

2 points by carlosedp 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope they add support for JIT with the Stackless features.
15-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics discovermagazine.com
71 points by darshan 14 hours ago   56 comments top 16
22 points by hugh3 13 hours ago 9 replies      
I remain really skeptical.

If you believe this, then doing a fifteen-minute writing exercise at the start of a fifteen week course in which you "write about your values" rather than a different fifteen-minute writing exercise where you "write about other peoples values" leads you to understand introductory physics significantly better at the end, if you're a woman, or understand introductory physics significantly worse, if you're a man.

I could start speculating on mechanisms for this, but I think it's better to wait until the same effect has been replicated in a different place and a different time (and let's hope that none of those future test subjects have read this article or else they'll know what's up).

On the other hand, if one were to repeat this experiment one would have to wonder whether it's ethical to force male students to do a writing exercise if you have reason to believe that it will hinder their ability to learn physics.

Update: My alternative hypothesis is that all the competent male students who showed up for a Physics class and were given a silly "write about your values" exercise got so offended by such a frou-frou exercise in what was supposed to be a physics class that they dropped out and enrolled in something else.

8 points by chesser 11 hours ago 2 replies      
"Aspiring female scientists and mathematicians still have to contend with the inaccurate stereotype that men are innately better at them in their chosen fields."

I wasn't aware that this had been definitively established as a myth.

Last I checked, there was a gender gap. There are a lot of interpretations that wish to ascribe this to a social difference rather than a physical one.

Further, this is an introductory course.

The overwhelming number of top scientists are male. IQ tests (FWIW) also place more males at both the top and bottom ends, with females clustered more around the middle. One interpretation there is that nature can afford to take more chances with males, so there are more extremes.

I can think of at least one factor that is physical, even though it doesn't have to do with mental capacity per se. A major impediment to learning tends to be psychological laziness; anything that gets us to push past this means we are using more of our capacity. Testosterone increases risk-taking behaviors and reduces complacency. This drive to constantly seek out the new and challenge the old might be sufficient by itself, even if there are no relevant neurological differences otherwise.

I also don't understand this push to try to equalize gender distribution. Even if the ONLY differences are social, it doesn't follow that it's better to socialize females in ANY given arbitrary manner just because they're female.

Clearly any field should be open to any individual who wishes to pursue it. Trying to equalize the numbers, given the current disparity, means pushing a lot of females into pursuing subjects they aren't interested in. Even if we posit that these fields have been traditionally male-biased, the majority of males are not interested in them.

This has to be open on an individual level, and whichever way it shakes out with regard to gender, it shakes out.

It's profoundly unfair to cite social differences and then blame colleges who only get people after 18 years of social indoctrination.

4 points by patio11 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I would be very interested to hear whether stereotype threat responds to the prompt: "Write something about fish. You have 15 minutes."
3 points by Groxx 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Odd results, with the male scores dropping, but I suspect that merely has to do with a small sample size (399 in the whole set).

This makes sense, especially as a number of people I know feel stupid because they have test anxiety. My wife included. "Non-"tests such as these seem like they could help quite a few, as they have the exact same physical location as real tests, but break the trend of habitual anxiety because little to nothing is on the line. Practice tests elsewhere don't share the classroom setting, and there's quite a bit of evidence that location influences memory / emotion, so it would seem they should be about as effective as they are at combating anxiety (ie: not much, and not for many (anecdotally)).

edit: <strikeout>Though, to be potentially inflammatory, this does seem to support the opposite stereotype of men having more control over (non-anger-based) emotions than women. Especially when you look at the original article (linked below by Locke1689: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1943596), and see almost no difference in score distribution for men but huge changes for women in the B and C categories (A had almost no change - surprise, surprise, the ones without testing problems showed no gain).</strikeout>

1 point by mhartl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Men dominate the physical sciences and mathematics, with the disparity growing as the subjects get more advanced. The notion that a 15-minute writing exercise can close this gap strains credulity.

For a hard-headed introduction to this subject, I recommend The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. Women and men have different cognitive strengths: on average, women are more verbally fluent and are better at inferring emotional states from facial expressions and body language, whereas men are better at spatial rotations and abstract reasoning. Women do better or worse on typically "male" tasks depending on the phase of their menstrual cycles and the corresponding levels of androgens ("male" hormones) in their bloodstreams. Patients undergoing male-to-female sex-change operations do progressively worse on "male" tasks and better on "female" ones as the estrogen therapy progresses, with the opposite effect in female-to-male patients. And so on. While the bell curves substantially overlap, the notion that men and women are cognitively identical is scientifically untenable.

Perhaps the continuing disparity in the abstract sciences points to discrimination against women in those subjects. And yet, women make up approximately 56% of college graduates, with men at 44%"a 12-point gap. I find it telling that virtually no one decries this disparity, nor infers from it a systemic anti-male bias in higher education.

The authors of these kinds of studies clearly want there to be no gender gap. (The results of this study could reasonably be described as "the 15-minute writing test that boosts female learning and suppresses male learning".) When the political biases of the researchers are so evident, it's difficult to trust the results.

13 points by rfugger 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested in seeing the results for a control group that wasn't given any writing exercise at all.
1 point by rudyfink 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The fact that they tinkered with the Y axis scaling on the graph makes me quite suspicious of their results. I admit it is knee jerk, but anytime I see charts asking me to compare things and the scales are different I just wonder what else someone felt the need to obscure.
5 points by mkramlich 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always been offended that there's a gender gap when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. Perhaps a writing exercise could be devised that would erase the horrible, oppressive and misogynistic stereotype that prevents men from becoming pregnant and giving birth. That is necessary if we are to ever achieve true equality.

(cheek <- tongue)

2 points by axiom 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone who has access post the original paper?
2 points by lutorm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A popular but fairly comprehensive summary about stereotype threat research is at http://reducingstereotypethreat.org/.
2 points by xiaoma 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't believe that the article didn't even mention once that the exercise decreased male performance. The text was also full of assertions that are clearly politically motivated.
1 point by dmoney 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Did values affirmation actually make men score lower? Or were they just ranked lower because women, on average, had higher absolute scores than the control?

Speaking of control, writing about values in a physics class could cause people otherwise interested in physics to lose interest in the class.

0 points by iopuy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was 12 years old we were forced to take Tae Kwon Do in school for some odd reason (yes an American school). At the end of the practice session we would all sit around in a circle in the brightly light gym/dancing room with the instructor in the center. He would tell us to close our eyes for 2 minutes and when we were told to reopen them the lights seemed brighter. We were told if we did this once a week every week in life we would succeed no matter what. Well I have in my opinion succeeded in life so it must be because of the eye drill.
1 point by baldercrash 11 hours ago 1 reply      
>Think about the things that are important to you. Perhaps you care about creativity, family relationships, your career, or having a sense of humour. Pick two or three of these values and write a few sentences about why they are important to you.

What has this got to do with physics and why are universities so interested in students' private lives?

0 points by wazoox 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting. It may need to be backed with some more data but it's promising.
-4 points by VladRussian 12 hours ago 1 reply      
confirms my everyday anecdotal observations - for women to get better men should get worse. Why women can't just reach men's level without need to lower the men' level? While taking a bit longer and more work, wouldn't that way it be more beneficial for human species?
Sony's Changes to GNUstep GUI Library: Adding Touch deliciousrobots.com
3 points by postfuturist 1 hour ago   discuss
23andMe for $99 23andme.com
106 points by michaelfairley 19 hours ago   60 comments top 18
23 points by sorbus 18 hours ago 2 replies      
"*Requires a recurring Personal Genome Service subscription at $5/month.
1 year contract required. Order for $499 with no subscription commitment."

So it's really $159, with another $60 paid every subsequent year as long as you want access to the data (and any new things which they might provide). If you're expecting to subscribe for longer than the next 80 months (six years and eight months), then it might be better to get the normal $499 version. Although, on the page about what the PGS subscription gives you, it mentions discounts on future things, like moving from genotyping to full sequencing, so perhaps it would be worth it. Not quite enough information to say, really.

That said, I'm all for lowering the barriers to people knowing about their DNA, and $5 a month is pretty small compared to many other things (phone contracts, for instance, or getting coffee every morning).

21 points by michaelfairley 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Note that there's a new $5/month subscription fee, with a 1 year minimum commitment.
9 points by bhickey 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm more than happy to have a conversation here about genetic testing (hey, Carbocation!) - but this is just an advertisement.
3 points by pavs 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Weird request. I really wanted to do this for the longest time, but waited hoping that the price will one day go down. This is exactly in my budget range, but I don't get paid (and have to deposit to my online usage only bank account) till the first week of December. Can any nice guy trust a fellow HN-er till the first week of December?

I am also on reddit with the same username. Let me know if anyone can help, my email is pavs.ma (@gmail).

6 points by alexwestholm 18 hours ago 1 reply      
For those concerned about privacy, it's buried on their How It Works page. I'd strongly suggest to the company that such info might be worth placing on the front page.

According to the site, the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act covers the data provided and ensures you can't be discriminated against in employment or health insurance matters. Though I don't know anything about the GINA beyond the information they provide, this seems to leave out issues of end of life care (IE, can a family member use legal discovery mechanisms to get at info about potential up-coming medical problems in later life as a means to halt usage of a ventilator should you become comatose?) and probably some other things.

4 points by dochtman 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Does 23andme allow users to get their data out? I.e., get them in some raw format that one could use to correlate with other studies you might find, or put them into some other service?
2 points by DevX101 16 hours ago 2 replies      
It's probably worth getting if you're a woman or have a known family history of a genetic disease. 10% of women end up getting breast cancer, and this is sometimes due to a BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation. You can take preventative steps if you know this.
4 points by sleight42 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The State of Maryland has blocked 23andme from providing services here. See http://www.genealogyreviewsonline.com/genealogy_reviews_onli...

I'm curious whether folks who have used this service found it valuable? This customer didn't seem to think so; she compared it to a horoscope reading: http://subtlenuances.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/getting-person...

3 points by jaysonelliot 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to do the test to learn about my genetic heritage, but I'm far too afraid of what it might say about disease risk.

Suppose it comes back with a genetic marker for something like Parkinson's. What do you do with that knowledge? You can't just cut down on cholesterol or exercise more - if it's coming, it's coming. All you'd do is spend the rest of your life with a terrible foreboding you can never escape.

1 point by sushrutbidwai 3 hours ago 0 replies      
There is another interesting startup in similar space from Australia.


Mygene offers reports for budding athletes to understand their gene structure better and provides guidance on tuning your training to fit with your genetic findings.

Disclaimer - my company did entire IT and lab automation work including implementing report creation algorithms.

1 point by bajsejohannes 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if 23andMe will be able to patent parts of my gene sequence? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_patent)

Edit: It's genotyping, not sequencing, so the answer is no. Leaving the question here in case someone else wondered.

2 points by toinbis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"You'll earn upgrades as we move from genotyping to full sequencing" -- so AFAIK, right now 23andme are comparing your DNA data to the one of the human genome project and providing you with the percentage of how many people from genome project, having similar DNA sequences, had one disease or another. I wonder, once the sequencing advances, will the info provided by 23andme be detailed enough so to take the full advantage of the new methodologies of sequencing? In other words - will the science of genetics improve only in the interpretation of the DNA data, or in collecting more detailed DNA data as well?
4 points by inrev 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Used to be $99 last year on the DNA day without the required subscription.
1 point by Aron 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Also note that they have recently approximately doubled the number of SNP's genotyped.
4 points by axod 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Isn't this just fortune telling or astrology for geeks?
2 points by sachitgupta 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Has anyone used this and found it useful? It seems awesome from a geeky point of view but I'm still having a hard time understanding the value of it.
1 point by organicgrant 17 hours ago 0 replies      

That being said, I ordered one last Wednesday.

0 points by cryschen 12 hours ago 1 reply      
@sorbus getting a coffee or getting bleeding edge information about my health based on my DNA...it's a no brainer.
U.S. Government Seizes BitTorrent Search Engine Domain and More torrentfreak.com
163 points by Uncle_Sam 1 day ago   69 comments top 16
29 points by ig1 22 hours ago 1 reply      
As I pointed on when people were complaining about a .ly domain being pulled for hosting adult content, .com has exactly the same issues.
15 points by rapind 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks kind of fake. Can anyone confirm that throwing up this image is real and not a publicity stunt?

They've got piwitracker and google analytics running on a page that just serves up one image.

7 points by swombat 23 hours ago 3 replies      
So, who's getting started on that alternative DNS system? Until a formal infrastructure emerges, it can probably be cobbled together with a combination of BIND servers and browser plugins, I'd imagine...
13 points by sudonim 17 hours ago 1 reply      
These seizure notices are not 508 compliant. Isn't the government obligated to make all websites under their control accessible to people with disabilities?

There isn't even an alt tag on the giant images with text.

Now Im just sayin' but if they're using stupid loopholes to seize these domains, couldn't they be sued under the americans with disabilities act?

9 points by jcromartie 22 hours ago 1 reply      
What do ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) and Homeland Security have anything to do with torrents?
5 points by dedward 21 hours ago 1 reply      
What I want to know - was the registrar involved in this, and acting on instructions from US authorities, or acting on instructions from ICANN, or was the domain record actually modified at a higher level than the registrar had control over (is that even possible?)
2 points by fab13n 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Time to apply for a YNews startup offering uncensored DNSes :)

If you're willing to do Evil to monetize it, you might even get to resell sex.com and a couple of expensive domains. Or just explain to investor that one day, when you'll be big enough, you'll be able to do it. Also, you'll be able to decide how fast you respond to requests according to whether the domain's owner subscribed to your "premium" service.

TL;DR: brace yourself for libertarian cyber-mayhem.

5 points by ez77 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Believe me, I don't want to sound anti-American at all but... what's up with that adored eagle? Thirty thousand nuclear warheads are enough to keep us scared.
3 points by 8ig8 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems a little fishy that the name server used by ICE was registered yesterday...



1 point by vaksel 23 hours ago 2 replies      

   Several other domains also appear to have been seized
including 2009jerseys.com, nfljerseysupply.com,
throwbackguy.com, cartoon77.com, lifetimereplicas.com,
handbag9.com, handbagcom.com and dvdprostore.com

i don't see why those domains would be seized

1 point by Volscio 10 hours ago 0 replies      
7 points by michaelelliot 23 hours ago 2 replies      
This sets a shocking precedent.
1 point by ryanhuff 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it typical for a government agency to use a commercial data center/hosting provider for this kind of activity?
2 points by michaelelliot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what process ICE go through to have a .com redelegated. Since Verisign operate the .com registry they would have to be involved at some point along the line.
2 points by fseek2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I posted some technical details here:


1 point by ffffruit 23 hours ago 2 replies      
While I do respect the fact that this sounds terrible, I cant help but point out the fact that torrentfreak's news reporting has always been extremely biased, in many cases rendering the information they provide in their posts as untrustworthy.
Screwed up incentives in higher education tophatmonocle.com
45 points by amackera 10 hours ago   48 comments top 11
7 points by timr 8 hours ago 3 replies      
"The system is broken in the sense that teaching is at best a low priority, and that universities have essentially become testing centres. Students spend 2 weeks a term cramming for exams (or writing term papers,) get their sticker at the end of 4 years, and the university cashes a fat cheque. That's about it from the student's perspectives on the academic side of it."

Spoken like a person who has never actually taught a college course. There's a tremendous amount of work involved, from both students and faculty. Most students go to class, and most professors give lectures that aren't directly taken from the book. So can we please stop elevating the cartoon, straw-man portrayals of the incompetent lecturer and the lazy student? Please?

If this blog post weren't written by the CEO of a company that's trying to sell enhancement software to universities, I'd dismiss it as anti-intellectual trolling. I'm also trying hard not to dismiss it as the griping of a guy who's finding resistance selling his product to a somewhat conservative clientele (university staff), and interpreting their reluctance as the behavior of dinosaurs (rather than a sensible reaction to the generations of educational snake-oil salesmen who have come before).

Instead, I'll give the benefit of the doubt: there are certainly lazy, incompetent professors. There are also lazy students that have no business being in college. But if your only contact with the university system comes from when you're trying to sell or beta-test your products in the classroom...well, you don't have a very representative sample from which to draw conclusions.

9 points by icegreentea 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Haha, oh top-hat. Going off topic here a bit (the points in the post itself are more or less sound).

Top-hat monocle is a web-based quiz/online tutorial system. You can put flash based demos, and random quizzes on it, and students can answer on their laptops, or text in the answers from their phones.

We got use to top-hat monocle for one of our courses last term. It was a joke (took forever for the demos to load... flash...). Beyond the usual 'a tool can only make a poor user screw up even with ever greater speed', we had to pay to get our license... to what was then beta software. They admitted to us that 'they weren't done testing' and that we were going to be the last group to 'get to try' the system before it went into wide release.

I won't argue about the effectiveness of the system (it is a tool, whose effectiveness depends on its user), but paying to be part of the final set of testers definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

7 points by nocipher 8 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who recently graduated with a bachelor's at a large state university, I find that this article exaggerates most of its points.

"Now, what do students get for their money? they[sic] get herded in like cattle into 500 person classrooms to have someone read the textbook to them with the help of a powerpoint slide deck."

This happened only in the entry level courses that everyone at the university was required to take. Above the sophomore level, all classes were, at an absolute maximum, 35 people. Even the large lecture classes were closer to half what the author states.

"Students spend 2 weeks a term cramming for exams (or writing term papers,) get their sticker at the end of 4 years, and the university cashes a fat cheque."

Anyone doing this has little reason to be in school. Admittedly, some classes are easy and sufficiently unrelated to your career goals that they can be safely ignored. Once you get past those courses, though, if you can still cram and come out with a respectable grade, you've made a terrible choice for you degree program and university. Cramming just doesn't cut it when you're in a senior level math course and supposed to derive the heat and wave equation on an exam by justifying the simplifications necessary to get a clean mathematical model. You won't even get that far if you crammed in your Calculus 3 course and have no idea how to deal with multivariable derivatives and integrals. Nor will you have any idea about how such an equation is supposed to work if you failed to learn anything in your differential equations course.

The picture of the university described in the article is flawed for all but the lowest performing students. If people want to actually learn something, they can. If they don't, that's unfortunate; they probably won't and can, instead, attempt to game the system (i.e. cram for tests) to maintain their GPA. Giving these people better teachers won't help them because they don't care about learning.

The real issue seems to be that too many people are going to college for the wrong reasons. If you have no aspirations of learning what a college attempts to teach, then don't go. There should be no expectation that merely attending college will cause you to learn something.

5 points by wyclif 9 hours ago 1 reply      
If higher education didn't exist in it's current form...

"Its" not "it's." If you want academics to read your writing, it had better not have grammar or punctuation errors. This is not rocket surgery.

2 points by stretchwithme 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This problem is caused by government funding of education. If students and/or parents were paying the tab or at least everything over the bare minimum , there'd be a laser focus on value. But with other people picking up everything over a certain amount, there's no need to scrimp on amenities or prestige instead of getting the most education for the money.

Perverse incentives? Absolutely. But thats what government does best. It perverts incentives. It hides the costs and makes a big show of benefits, even ones that don't truly matter.

3 points by wnoise 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The article suggested decoupling research and teaching. That might be worth doing, but it's already done. There are plenty of schools that don't do research, and don't have graduate programs. I think the more radical and effective thing to do would be to decouple teaching from certification.
1 point by blasdel 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> They get herded in like cattle into 500 person classrooms to have someone read the textbook to them with the help of a powerpoint slide deck.

How does leasing them tools to herd more efficiently do anything but amplify the screwed up incentives further?

You could aspire to be the Temple Grandin of higher ed reform, but that doesn't do anything to fix the underlying problem " it only makes it easier to ignore.

1 point by Derbasti 3 hours ago 1 reply      
There is one issue no one ever seems to talk about. The one thing that really really screws up incentives at universities is the money the students have to pay.
If students have to pay for individual courses, they will try to minimize the amount of courses they have to take. They will try to get in cheap courses. They will try to get in cheap universities. They will optimize their education for Bang For The Buck. They will optimize for bad teaching.

Look at European universities. For students, they are free. Or ridiculously cheap (like $500 per semester). Actually, last year, students in Germany were fed up with the bad quality if teaching. Guess what they did? They went on strike! They blocked rooms and prevented courses from happening. Without students, universities can't exist. So, professors and management had to act. And teaching improved.

I think you will agree that something like this is completely and utterly impossible in the US. If a student was going to strike, he would waste all the money he had put in that semester. Hence, there is no way to protest against bad teaching.
If students pay huge amounts of money for each course and semester, they will try to get cheap education at a big-name place. I guess in the choice between cheap, big-name and good, you can pick any two. Hence, there is little incentive to get good education.

Furthermore, if courses are free, students can freely choose which courses to take. Hence they try to get the best teaching they can get. If that means they take a few extra semesters, so be it. If that means that they actually change universities or even curriculums, no problem. You see, by not paying (much) for universities, students optimize for quality.

1 point by callmeed 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm 10 years out of state school (in Calif.) and only recall a handful of classes with over 100 students, with the max being around 300 (general psych I think).

Has there really been an increase in large classes as the author states?

2 points by goalieca 9 hours ago 3 replies      
So the article talks about undergrads getting screwed out of a good education. What about grad students. Whereas undergrads are coached to write tests we're coached to publish. Am I learning yet?
1 point by jules 9 hours ago 1 reply      
250 hours of education in 500 person classrooms? I get 1000+ hours of lectures in 10-20 person classrooms.
Crowdsourcing Jobs to a Worldwide Mobile Workforce technologyreview.com
37 points by cwan 12 hours ago   8 comments top 6
2 points by patio11 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Given that there doesn't seem to be any question of poor Africans doing useful work for Western multinationals, and this is basically structured as an aid giveaway... could it be an effective aid giveaway? One big problem with aid is that donor money gets siphoned off by corrupt governments and, ahem, aid organizations. If crediting someone with call time is as good as cash, which I have heard is increasingly the case in countries which have never had a stable currency, maybe we can just cut out the middlemen and deal with the intended beneficiaries directly. (That is a big "maybe", given that poor people's problems are a wee bit more extensive than "I have no money.")
7 points by dnsworks 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of Japanese intelligence gathering methods in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. This would be a hell of an intelligence gathering tool, the best part of it is that you could gather data in such a fractioned and distributed way that individual people wouldn't be able to guess what it is they're doing.
3 points by brianbreslin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
i see a flaw in this model though. if i'm a western company not doing business in kenya, what do i really want low-skill laborers to do? I don't want them filling out surveys as they are unlikely to be my target audience. I think things like recognizing an object might work, but then you would need graphics capable phones... maybe i'm missing something here.
2 points by ig1 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's essentially mturk using text messaging.
1 point by blake8086 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I had described nearly this exact idea to my wife while walking around downtown Seattle. The only difference was I was trying to figure out a way to give the phones away for free also.

It would be fantastic if doing tasks on a phone was a better use of time than begging on a street. I hope this works out.

0 points by mathgladiator 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've thought about building a kiosk for homeless people to spit out pennies and nickles...
Lisk " Lisp and Haskell chrisdone.com
92 points by ihodes 19 hours ago   24 comments top 8
7 points by partition 16 hours ago 3 replies      
While programming in Haskell I also struggled with Haskell's brand of whitespace indentation, even though I come from Python. The key difference in usability between Python's whitespace indentation system and Haskell's indentation system is that you cannot start the lines in a block on the same line as the block.

Python's is more restrictive: you must skip a line before starting a multi-line indented block; i.e., this is not legal:

    if a == b: print "asdf"
print "a"
print "a"

This lets you decide on a very simple rule for dealing with whitespace indentation: Each new block is started by inserting a carriage return and the proper number of tabs.

Not so in Haskell, because you are given the freedom to put the first line of a block in the same line as the block starter:

    let x = 1
y = 2

do x <- 1
y <- 2

Now you need to decide whether to be 3 or 4 spaces in depending on whether it is a let or do block. You cannot use the rule, because the appropriate number of spaces is no longer a multiple of your indentation unit.

That's just the simple case, because you are also allowed to put these block starters (let, do, case, etc) at arbitrary points in an expression:

    f = let x = 1 in let y = x + 2 in
y + 1

This is syntactically correct Haskell; but personally I like the idea of lexical scope being represented by indentation level, which is not reflected here.

It becomes very easy to get yourself into situations where you cannot use the Python rule. But you can also impose restrictions on yourself so you _can_ use that rule. Like always treating let, do, in, etc as "{"'s in C:

    f = let
x = 1
y = x + 2
y + 1

This may look a little verbose. But in real cases there would be a lot more statements there. In the middle of all this I want to maintain the idea "number of tabs corresponds to lexical scope". We can also push the analogy to "{"'s in C and adopt the "K&R" style, but on block-starting expressions:

    f = let
x = 1 in let
y = x + 2 in
y + 1

There's also the solution of editors that just figure out where to indent, in which case we can make it look pretty and still get the indentation right. I think it's best to develop a consistent style that will work across editors though.

4 points by kenjackson 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my obligatory dumb question of the day. What is the problem he is trying to solve with the macros? It seems super straightforward, so I suspect I'm missing something (being only conversational in Lisp and Haskell, although don't know macros even decently):

Here's the snippet of code that describes the problem (which I don't get):

do exists <- doesFileExist "lalala"
if exists
then ...
else ...

5 points by lsb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Not tackling pattern matching is a pretty big deficiency. Otherwise, it seems interesting, and I wonder if


would really be easier to type than


for most use cases.

4 points by omegazero 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't see how it's tackling the 'where' block--or it that would even be possible under this scheme. I find that my code is much more legible with the housekeeping and other less important helper-functions defined after the important bits. The clunky code that the author complains about can be much improved using where clauses to break it into chunks.

Taking the authors example and moving some of the processing to a where clause makes the flow much easier to follow:

    someFunction conn (Foo n) (K {x=zot}) plib = do
withTransaction conn $ \db ->
coconut <- sizzleQuery [Foob n]
potato <- sizzleQuery [Foob n]
let sizzle = (zotify coconut) ++ potato ++ gravy
record = fasterize $ makeRecord' sizzle
date = dateOrError sizzle
in catch handler $ insertIntoDB sizzle plib

where sizzleQuery = queryTheDB "select * from sausages where sizzle = ?"
zotify c = zot (plib $ zip [1..] c)
dateOrError d = error "Unable to parse date"
`fromMaybe` parseDate d "date"
handler e = do something `with` (k $ the exception)
makeRecord' s = (MakeRecord { recName = sizzle "name"
, recAge = sizzle "age"
, recDate = date
$ Plib </> (fromMaybe "" $ sausages >>= bacon)

Also one of my favorite features of Haskell is using the $ as an unmatched left parenthesis, saving you from that blob of closing parenthesis that every lisp expression accumulates.

One last thing, the author complains about the ambiguity of the indentation, but doesn't make any comment about the brace & semi-colon syntax. I personally don't like it, but it should be explained why it isn't an acceptable solution.

2 points by vorg 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone has their own syntactic preferences. And what, really, is the difference between a preference for certain colors in an IDE and a preference for a certain syntax? Why is one easily customizable and the other rigidly defined by a language? If programs in all languages were stored on file as lisp-style AST's, with comments attached to AST nodes, then programmers could view programs using their own preferred syntax, as well as formatting and colors.
1 point by kwantam 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How strange. I was just thinking about doing this as a toy project earlier today.

I honestly don't share the OP's hatred of Haskell syntax, nor do I find it categorically worse than lispish languages. It's entertaining that he's gone from capital letters to the sigils (":"). Both tend to be controversial and which is better is more a matter of personal taste than anything.

I agree with another commenter that the lack of pattern matching syntax is something of a deficiency, and I was also troubled over how I'd do this. A "plambda" operator is one possibility that I was considering, though it feels like it's a really hackey embedding of MLish in lispish:

     (plambda fname
((pattern-1a pattern-1b ...) (stuff))
((pattern-2a pattern-2b ...) (stuff)))

Also, rather than a preprocessor I was thinking of implementing the whole thing in Template Haskell---not because it's easier, but really because I expect the opposite: I figured it'd be a good way to really bite off a big chunk of TH and get good at it.

EDIT: It occurs to me that one could just use a variant on cond to implement pattern matching, e.g., "cond-argv":

     (define (fname a b) (cond-argv
((a1 b1) (stuff))
((a2 b2) (stuff))))

1 point by amouat 17 hours ago 2 replies      

def fib(n):

    if   n < 2: return 1

else : return fib(n - 1) + fib(n - 2)


    if   n < 2: return n



Or am I being stupid?

EDIT: changed x to n.

1 point by hakl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember something like this called Liskell, but I think it died.
BSD For Linux Users: Intro over-yonder.net
75 points by tzury 18 hours ago   35 comments top 13
7 points by ghshephard 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is an "ok" intro to the differences between Linux and BSD, but it stays at a pretty high level (and makes it clear that it wasn't intending to go into anything more detailed than "principles/design/philosophy"

The article is dated though - it predates GIT, and still refers to the odd/even devel/production numbering in linux, which went out of vogue a couple years ago (at least)

It is, of course, not entirely accurate when discussing BSD as consisting of a system that is designed with all its "core" components by the BSD system. Some of the "base" stuff in BSD is actually still from outside the tree. For example, rtadvd, the IPv6 Router-Ad daemon, originally came from the WIDE Hydrangea IPv6. The rtadvd.conf files, in Open BSD, aren't the elegant/simple OpenBSD standard, but instead use the termcap(5) format. OpenBSD's approach to situations like this is to use the software until someone is inspired to build an "OpenBSD from the ground up" version, rather than mess around too much with upstream contributions to make them look more "OpenBSDsh"

We use OpenBSD a lot where I work - its firewall, and routing configurations are rock solid. And configuring the systems is a dream. I far prefer the OpenBSD /etc/hostname.if approach to the various /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts approach that various RHEL releases have taken (and changed between releases).

For some reason, 95%+ of our deployed systems (around 500) and our target for application development, is Linux though. Probably because there is no equivalent of RHEL/SUSE in the OpenBSD world.

5 points by silentbicycle 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty informative. I've used OpenBSD for years, and what he says holds there as well. (OpenBSD fits me better, but FreeBSD is a great OS.)

He alludes to OpenBSD favoring reinstalling rather than upgrading in place. To some extent, this is probably because the OpenBSD installer is quite spartan. Once you know the process, a whole OpenBSD server can be running and configured in well under a half hour. Depending on the system, that can be simpler than merging / updating everything. I update my desktop (chasing snapshots) and laptop (each numbered release, which for OpenBSD happens every 6 months), and just reinstall my firewall/server when I feel like it.

Also, OpenBSD runs a monolithic kernel - all the drivers for the platform are included by default, so if your hardware is supported, it's autodetected on boot. No kernel rebuilding or modules necessary. (I don't think FreeBSD does this.) I've used an OpenBSD install disc to identify weird hardware that Linux didn't recognize.

There are a lot of benefits from a packaging system that primarily builds from source: It's much easier to build a package with various options (OpenBSD calls them "FLAVORS"); build this, no-x11, use postgres for its stats, add support for vorbis, etc. He mentions this, but seeing apt-get struggle with dependencies if you go away from the default configuration (or worse yet, build something from source that other packages use!) really makes it clear. You don't have to build everything from source, either - there are cached packages for most things on the mirrors. (Building all of KDE or GNOME from source would take quite a while!) If PKG_PATH is set to a mirror, "pkg_add pkgname" will attempt to fetch the binary package and its dependencies.

7 points by ghshephard 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Unix-the-code is owned by SCO"

Not according to a judge, A jury, and at least one judicial review. Unix, the code, is owned by Novell.



1 point by rasur 1 hour ago 0 replies      
At work, I develop on OS X (aka Darwin, derived in part from BSD) and deploy on Linux (mostly Debian). For personal endeavours, I have FreeBSD running.

In general, I've found FreeBSD to be more stable and to have more of an "engineered" feel to it (if you'll excuse the use of the term "feel"), while Linux.. well, as pointed out elsewhere is a little more chaotic in terms of it's development.

I can't speak for Net/OpenBSD, but FreeBSD certainly has a Linux compatibility layer that let's you run most, if not all, Linux code, so potentially it's "win/win" (or "Lose/Lose" depending on your POV).

But I can say that, over the years, comparing Linux and FreeBSD, FreeBSD is my choice as it has generally been less of a hassle to set up and administer, and the documentation - whilst not completely perfect - is pretty damn good.

My tuppenny opinion, YMMV etc..

3 points by lockem 14 hours ago 2 replies      
While this was an interesting read,
and pretty well written.
I - as a long time Linux user, wasn't really able to figure out the advantages BSD has over Linux.

I agree that the author put a nice disclaimer warning us he will not be telling us why BSD is better - but he definitely mentioned that it is .

It is rather obvious the author is biased towards BSD - For example - "Chaos VS Order" and "Right VS Wrong" as titles when comparing BSD and Linux from a philosophical POV.
Reading this reminded me of how I was as a young Linux user 15 years ago (Slackware 3.4...) and was proud of using a barely usable OS - blinded by my own pride arguing in favor of Linux without any true understanding of the internals - and unable to hold a single argument of what makes it any better.

If i wanted to sum everything i would basically be saying - Linux is different.
But thats why Linux has many different flavors - It depends on what you like - and your level of expertise. If you like compiling everything - you could use Gentoo.
If you want it to "Just work" - you could try out Ubuntu.
If you need something Robust and supported - use RHEL.
While it is true that Linux development might be more "chaotic" than BSD, there is order in the chaos. What seems to be unordered and unorganized in fact has its own way of making things play in harmony.

PS. I would really love if anyone has a more technical comparison of BSD VS Linux (FS, Scheduling Etc..)

4 points by ghotli 15 hours ago 0 replies      
2 points by earcar 14 hours ago 0 replies      
See another discussion on the subject on a previously posted FreeBSD Quickstart Guide for Linux: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1759761

This story was also posted in the comments.

2 points by sucuri2 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I think he meant FreeBSD for Linux users. Since most of the points in there are only relevant to FreeBSD.

I am an OpenBSD user, but the reason I don't use it as often is because most of the VPS/dedicated servers providers only offer Linux.

3 points by derrickj12 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I found his article to be very informative, well-written, and I'm glad he took the time to write it.

It's interesting to note the criticisms that he has gotten -- but not surprising. Most developers that I have met share the same trait; they take things personally. When you talk to someone who has spent years of his life learning Linux (or Windows, or C++, or whatever) and then you make a comparison against that, the developer will feel like you personally insulted him. He feels that you are invalidating all of the knowledge that he has painstakingly acquired. We should all, as a group, move beyond this behavior and seek to have healthier and more neutral debates on these things. I have the same bad habit so I'm not pointing fingers here -- just a commentary. We should all thank people like the OP for sharing their knowledge with us.

1 point by phamilton 16 hours ago 4 replies      
package management and administration is a great start to explaining the differwnces, but what I would really like to see is a low level explanation of the differences. To what extent does BSD follow the "everything is a file" philosophy that linux does. Where is information about devices and processes to be found?

coming from a Gentoo background, where portage is based on the bsdports system, package management is not all that foreign in BSD. But when it comes time to tweak things, I start missing my sysfs and procfs, mostly throug ignorance of how BSD does such things.

2 points by rbranson 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, yet again, BSD is better, but none of the reasons given here are good enough to be "the guy who wanted to put BSD on the servers."
1 point by nightlifelover 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if anybody still uses BSD.. AFAIK some companies (for example stackoverflow) use OpenBSD as firewall, but FreeBSD? Yahoo used it but then switched over to Linux.
0 points by nodata 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Printable/Saveable version please!
Life in Text Mode aperiodic.net
50 points by miles 15 hours ago   27 comments top 9
5 points by SageRaven 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Nice to see like-minded folks out there. Like him, I run X mostly for having multiple full-height rxvt+screen sessions (three per virtual desktop).

I only use three graphical apps: Firefox, pidgin (grudgingly), and the Qt interface for VirtualBox. The rest are text apps and custom shell scripts for accomplishing tasks in tandem with those apps (such a "find | random | mpg123" for shuffling music directories).

I highly recommend "evilwm" for managing such a setup. Its single-pixel window borders with no window decorations is desktop minimalism as its finest. It's also got the lightest memory footprint of all the minimal WMs out there. Windows can be moved, re-sized, and snapped to locations with keystrokes. For fine-tuned placement of regularly-used apps, a simple shell script can be crafted to launch them with the precise geometry you require (or ALT+MOUSE_LEFT to lift the window). I have hot-keys defined (using "xbindkeys") that will populate virtual desktops to exact specifications.

My only gripe with this setup is the competition for key chords amongst emacs, screen, and evilwm itself. That, and every once in a while, some web page will throw a Firefox window that I simply cannot close without the "x" screen decoration (at least not without closing Firefox itself -- grrr...).

2 points by thristian 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Last year my laptop got stolen, and while I shopped for a replacement at work, I had to use my (previously headless) server machine for other tasks at home. Beyond what the linked article discusses, I'll also mention:

elinks (http://elinks.or.cz/) is far more featureful than links, w3m or lynx, to the point where it even supports CSS and a little JS.

libcaca (http://caca.zoy.org/) comes with an image-viewing tool, "cacaview", which is handy when somebody sends you a picture and you don't have a graphical framebuffer handy.

3 points by crazydiamond 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone still use "mc" ?

I like vifm (vi-like file manager), although i can't say i fire it up too often.

microemacs (jasspa's) has a nice inbuilt file manager (F10).

8 points by wyclif 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've replaced screen with tmux.
3 points by wnoise 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Ugh. procmail is disgusting. Consider maildrop instead (part of the courier mail server suite: http://www.courier-mta.org/maildrop/ )
3 points by vog 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The title is ambiguous. I expected to see a text mode implementation of Conway's Game of Life. ;-)
5 points by brian6 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was just about to badmouth his tool choices when I noticed that the post is from 2006.
1 point by BoppreH 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Why would you do that?

I can understand using only the keyboard, because it's faster and easier to automate and whatnot, but giving up on a normal browser just to be "in text mode"? Why not Firefox + Vimperator, for example?

1 point by RoyG 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Good list, but where's ffmpeg?

Though I come from the design world, I realized how much speed and power advantage there is in the command line, and spent the time " over several years " learning how to use it. The speed advantage is so apparent in comparison to GUIs, and now Web Apps, but I guess that's the geek appeal;)

Rejection Therapy Suggestion Cards - Entrepreneur Edition thegamecrafter.com
19 points by edburgess 9 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by twelch 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a good list of suggestions: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1754790
1 point by Rubyred 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be interesting to see if playing the cards would actually increase business or not.
U.S. Gov Seizes BitTorrent search site (torrent-finder) " Technical details fseek.me
27 points by fseek2 10 hours ago   15 comments top 5
8 points by tumult 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Homeland Security? Intellectual property infringement of media corporations is now relevant to the safety of our nation?
8 points by jrockway 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This is why SSL is important; it lets you authenticate that the server you're connected to is the server that you think you're connected to.

Plus, it will be pretty interesting when the government starts ordering forged SSL keys.

4 points by aneth 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is now covered in the NYT, although with no mention of any confirmation from ICE (or lack thereof.)


4 points by aneth 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm still leaning toward the hoax theory. If I'm wrong, I'm really going to have to reconsider any support of the Obama administration. This is renegade government.
3 points by rbanffy 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Shouldn't Homeland Security be securing something?
Ask HN: What advice messed up your life?
112 points by amichail 13 hours ago   195 comments top 65
37 points by jdietrich 7 hours ago 7 replies      
Never, never, not in a million years, listen to a single word of advice uttered by someone who isn't happy with their life. They have absolutely nothing to teach you. This is strong stuff, granted, but I think it is tremendously important.

Every single piece of bad advice I have ever received was from someone who didn't like their life. If you're unhappy, you have two basic options. You can do something to make yourself happier, or you can rationalise a reason why happiness isn't possible. The former is generally a steady upward slog. The latter is like quicksand - the longer you're there, the more solidly you become stuck.

All the bad career advice I got was from people who didn't like their job. Some believed that jobs were just inherently unpleasant, so you might as well go for the unpleasantness that pays the most and gives the best pension. Some believed that good jobs were just inaccessible for 'the likes of us', so there's no point getting you hopes up. Some were so uncertain of their employability that they took the first job offered to them and never dared do anything to jeopardise it. I heard rationalisations dressed up as philosophy, as ethics, as macroeconomics, but they were rationalisations all the same.

Learning from the mistakes of others is useful and productive, but an unhappy person can never provide any insight into how to be happy. Either they don't know what would make them happy, or worse, they do know but won't do it. Never underestimate how hard someone will work to rationalise why they just can't go back to college or start their own business or visit Europe or leave their awful wife.

When seeking advice, ignore status, intelligence and experience. Seek out the happy people, they're the only people who can help you.

48 points by hasenj 12 hours ago replies      
Not from any specific person, but the idea that you have to step outside your comfort zone and do X and Y even though it doesn't come naturally to you.

Every time I did that things got messed up and I ended up worse than I was before.

If you're outside your comfort zone, you will act in non-authentic ways, and when you're not being authentic, you can't be the best possible you.

Examples of stepping outside comfort zone:

* Wear a suite and act professional for a job interview

* Say hi to random strangers so you can make friends (even though you're introverted and doing this makes you look like a fool)

* Go to social events where you don't know anyone there.

EDIT: thanks for the down votes. Now let me explain why this is bad advice:

- Act not like yourself for a job interview:

This is bad because instead of showing them your strong points, you'll be busy trying to hide your weak points and seem like a "good, obedient" employee. Eventually you fail at both: your bad points will still show, while your good points won't get a chance.

- Begging friendship from random strangers:

Makes you look like a fool, insecure person that nobody wants to be friends with.

EDIT2: I'm not talking about little steps. Venturing into new areas is fun. Throwing yourself into the middle of an extremely uncomfortable situation is completely different.

One of the reasons I found "step outside your comfort zone" to be bad advice is that they never tell you how far to go and when you should stop. It seems consequential that you never know when you have gone too far, because you're outside the zone where you can use your intuition sensibly. If you were able to tell that you've gone too far, then by definition you're still inside your comfort zone.

If something only makes you a little bit uncomfortable, it will feel like it's still inside your comfort zone, and if you're trying to follow the "step outside your comfort zone" advice, you'll be tempted to go even further.

13 points by kadavy 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"You should buy a house - it's the best investment you can make!" This was the advice I was given countless times when I lived in Nebraska in the early 00's, at my first job out of college. Thank God I didn't listen.

It just didn't make any sense: I was 23 years old, had plenty of talent, and could't wait to get out of Nebraska, but I was supposed to buy a house? I couldn't think of a worse way to spend my money, time, and freedom.

Instead of spending my evenings fixing up my "house," I was blogging and learning to code. Instead of spending my money on a mortgage and property taxes, I bought GOOG & AAPL.

After a few years, a startup in Silicon Valley found me, liked my blog, and moved me out to California. Once I was done working for other people, I had enough of a stock portfolio to fund starting my own business.

If I had followed that advice, I would still be in Nebraska, would owe more than my house would be worth, and would hate my job/life.

"The best investment you can make" is always in yourself.

34 points by Jach 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm not exactly sure how to word it, and I'm not aware of a single source who advised me on it, but it seems like there's a pervasive feeling in society that "If I want to learn something, I need a teacher." I outgrew this mental model around 14, and now in college I feel so much further ahead of many of my peers who are lucky to have taken a HS programming course once before choosing a programming degree. I wish I had outgrown it much earlier, I feel like there was a lot of lost potential in my earlier years that I wasted because I had no interest in teaching myself things. Who knows how devastating this "cultural advice(?)" is to people who still haven't outgrown it.
18 points by chegra 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"Quit your job and start a company" - Yep, that totally didn't work out as I had hoped. Stuff that are easy to do when there is no pressure suddenly become impossible. Thinking about it as walking on a board one foot wide on the ground, easy right. Now, put that board one thousand foot up in the air now try walking on it, not so easy now that your life depends on it. For some bootstrapping after your normal work hours is a better path to startup.

"Change the system from the inside" - If you are apart of a system that encourages physical and mental abuse of its members, don't try to change it, leave. Systems include: Fraternity, Brotherhoods, Cults, Gangs, Churches, Country, Jobs and the like. In general don't try to change systems, just move to a better one.

32 points by kabdib 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Close call: My dad (a college prof) saying to me (when I was 17) that computers were a dead end and that I should do something else.

I ignored his advice. I've had a fantastic career and shipped a bunch of different products.

30 years later, he apologized to me.

23 points by hackerdude 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In 1987 or 88, when I was a teenager, my parents, noting my emerging passion for coding, tried to sign me up for a Explorer Scout "post" whose focus was programming.

This should have been good, but I came back from the first meeting not wanting to go back. I just didn't click with the group, and the language/environment they were using (Fortran on an IBM System/3x0 variant, I think) were of no interest to me.

This upset my father, in particular, because he was convinced that the programming I was doing in my bedroom (C, on a Commodore Amiga) was of no value. Programming a personal computer was fine for a kid, but making a career in software meant doing "serious" work, which to my (very non-tech) parents, meant programming IBM mainframes.

In retrospect, their career advice was about as bad as it could have been. I was learning exactly what I should have been learning. I was completely right to ignore them and continue doing what I was doing.

Except I could never shake the idea of "serious" vs. "not serious" software development. So while I continued to learn C, then learned C++, when I finished college in the mid-90s I went into a "serious" industry . Despite living within walking distance of Netscape's old headquarters, I completely missed out on the dot-com era, justifying it by telling myself that I was doing "serious" work. And while I've never been unemployed, until this year, I can't say I ever did anything remotely notable, or fun, either.

And worse of all: it became obvious within the last 3-4 years that my industry was a career dead-end. If I stuck with it, I'd eventually be one of those stereotypical unemployed, and unemployable, 40-something developers.

But there is a silver lining: over the last couple of years I started playing around with some new technologies and ended up reinventing myself. Earlier this year, I quit my old job and am now working for a startup that's doing stuff that's nowhere near my Dad's old idea of "serious". But I've treated my new job seriously, working harder than at any time in my career. And I'm happier now than I've been in nearly a decade.

14 points by petercooper 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't go quite as far as "messed up" but between 2003-2007 I was frequently hassled by people to "buy a house" because it "never goes down (much) in value."

I argued that that was a nonsensical claim, although over the previous 30 years it was pretty much true (the UK dip in the early 1990s was quite short and localized). In mid 2007 I noticed prices continuing to go up and up and bit the bullet. Naturally, I exchanged contracts the very month before prices started to go down. Out of principle, I'm stuck with this house until it's worth more than I paid for it ;-)

24 points by iamwil 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"It'll just happen when you least expect it."

It's just something people say to console, not actually anything that's remotely useful or true. Magic never happens on its own. You have to go out there and make it happen.

26 points by geoffc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In the early 80's at Rice University my academic advisor steered me from computer science which I enjoyed (APL rocked!) to chemical engineering because "computers will be programming themselves in 20 years and comp sci isn't real engineering anyways". I hated chem eng but after a decade of detours final came back to coding. I didn't mind the detours but it was spectacularly bad advice and I was dumb enough to take it.
19 points by johnrob 12 hours ago 3 replies      
It didn't mess up my life, but when I was in high school the conventional wisdom was that being well rounded helped you get into good colleges. I spent a lot of time playing team sports and the saxophone; neither of those are hobbies of mine today. I wish I had spent some of that time doing something that would still be relevant to me today, like programming (there are a LOT of successful founders that started programming in their early teens; I didn't start until college).
76 points by Wilduck 12 hours ago 4 replies      
"You're smart." It took me five years of coasting on that presumption before I realized that being "smart" isn't nearly enough. I'm still working (after a few more years) to develop the habits that would have come from hearing "you're a hard worker."
10 points by rfrey 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Worst advice for me was "don't let any doors close", "keep your options open", and variations on that theme. Did a lot of damage because it sounds so reasonable, yet the net effect is to prevent or forestall commitment.
4 points by etherael 8 hours ago 1 reply      
That investing time and effort into the skills necessary to build things with technology is a waste because within a couple of years it will all be outsourced to third world countries and there will be no jobs left in this area for people in first world countries. I should develop my interpersonal skills, design and creative arts ability with a view to becoming a translator between large corporate insensibility and those that will have to actually get things done for them in the future in aforementioned third world countries.

This was not 100% terrible advice, because it did make me actually look outside the sphere of science and technology into areas I was before utterly uninterested in and considered to be faintly grimy. However in retrospect the premise is utterly flawed and there would have been much, much better ways to expand my interpersonal skills without feeling guilty about being passionate about technology and actually getting things done with it myself.

I got this advice in 2002. As long as I actually considered it useful, my life has been worse, as soon as I gave up on it, my life immediately got immensely better.

10 points by groaner 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned to resist peer pressure and defer gratification early on. Sound advice, except I followed it to an extreme. Now I dress like a slob and have no motivation in life, and I don't even care.
12 points by ora600 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"You should be a DBA, its a good career for a woman".

Even though DBAs have more flexible hours, I wouldn't recommend a job with a pager to my worse enemies.

10 years later and I'm still trying to come up with a good way to get rid of it.

1 point by mindcrime 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Pretty much everything I was ever told about love, dating, sex and romance, prior to discovering the "seduction community" a couple of years ago. Then again, it's not that a lot of the advice I got about women was bad, it just wasn't useful. Take the stock "be confident" tidbit for example... well, that's not bad advice (in that being confident is not harmful) but it's not actionable advice, because telling someone who isn't confident to "be confident" is useless. I also bought into the generic "there's somebody for everybody, don't look for a girl, you'll just stumble into somebody one day and it'll happen if it's mean to" crap. Uuuuggggghhh...

Outside of that, not much. But I tend to be pretty selective about the advice I take anyway... I'm the kind of person who tends to "keep my own council" more often than not (or, as my dad would say, I'm hard-headed). So I tend to ignore a lot of the well-meaning advice I've been given.. so I miss out by ignoring some good advice here and there, but I also avoid most of the bad advice.

For the most part, I'd look back and say that approach has worked out well for me.

19 points by Almaviva 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Variations of "you'll just meet someone" and "dating will get easier in your 30s" and "the important thing is you do well in school, and everything else will follow". Fuck that. Someone should have shaken the shit out of me when I was 18, forced me to go to a school with a normal gender ratio, and gotten me to strike while the iron was still hot while I still had some sexual attraction to women, and never take for granted any time a woman is vaguely interested.
15 points by tiffani 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Watch your mouth." and "Wait your turn." Perhaps, it's something girls are harassed about more than guys, but until I stopped following that "advice" (early college), things were quite mediocre for me.
6 points by starpilot 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Happiness comes from achieving goals"

I achieved plenty, but realized late in college that constantly studying was a defense mechanism for depression and loneliness. It's my biggest college regret. I even think that if I had studied less and spent more time getting to know housemates and classmates, I would have been happier and more relaxed, leading to higher grades. Sharing life with others is a reward in itself though, which took me a while to understand.

7 points by cookiecaper 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I've found most "conventional wisdom" to be bad advice. "Wait for marriage", "wait for kids" are both bad advice. "Go to college" is not necessarily bad advice, but the universal expectation that one will do so is bad, and it is bad advice for a lot of people. There's a lot of other bad advice out there.
3 points by arithmetic 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, this advice didn't mess me up but pushed me in the opposite direction.

When I was a kid, my parents told me that little girls like me should study in a local college, get good grades, find a comfortable job (preferably an accountant), settle down in the same city (as my parents) and get married by 21 (years).

My college was in a different city as compared to where I grew up. This really helped in teaching me how to live on my own. I took to computers, interned at a couple of companies and got hired by another software company, moved to the United States, and dated and married a fellow computer nerd a little over a month ago (let's just say I'm way over 21 now).

I think I did well.

15 points by mduvall 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Everybody in college pretends to be not working hard as they like to admit, thus the advice that comes from colleagues along the lines of "don't do the homework, it's really a waste of time" when everybody is actually doing it, could screw you over. It didn't mess up my life per se, but definitely had an impact on my grades when I was a naive freshman.
2 points by ohyes 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Bad advice can't mess up your life. Taking action on bad advice can mess up your life, but the advice itself can't do anything. I can't think of any examples of situations where I took particularly bad advice, but if I did, it is totally on me.

From that perspective; that I am in control and making the decisions in my life... I can't really say that any of the decisions that I have made have 'messed up' my life.

Whatever I've done, it clearly seemed like a good idea at the time. I probably couldn't have made the decision any differently.

(I find this kind of an interesting paradox, as my agency with regard to one thing, bad advice, implies my lack of agency with regard to my own bad decisions).

11 points by YuriNiyazov 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"You should buy a house in the ghettos of Philadelphia, property values are skyrocketing".
3 points by lisper 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"Honesty is the best policy." This is quite possibly the single biggest lie we tell our kids. There are times when dissembling or even outright lying is the right thing to do. It's important to learn to recognize when telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is not the right thing to do. It's not easy.
5 points by ryan-allen 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I wouldn't stay it stuffed up my life, but I wish I hadn't listened to it:

"Music is a hobby."

I'm catching up though.

1 point by thingie 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Anything coming from people significantly older than me, who are still talking about how they wanted to live their lives 20 or 30 (even 40) years ago, in a world completely different from the current one.
8 points by CWIZO 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"You must go to college" by everyone. What a waste of perfectly good 3 years (I finally dropped out then).
2 points by tommusic 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting: when I look back on my life so far, I don't feel like my path has been messed up significantly because of any particular piece of advice.

There were times in my life where acting on a particular bit of advice kept me from getting what I wanted. Those were frustrating times. But those times caused me to learn to deal with being frustrated; to stop and reflect on why I was reacting with such emotion.

There were times when the advice that I received was unclear, which made it easy for my motivation-to-follow to falter. I would waste time and not get homework done. Familiarity with a topic would grow more faint and my class performance would show it. And then I started to learn how to best use my time to learn the material. (In small groups, using multiple forms of engagement; reading/writing/speaking/listening)

The advice that, on-balance, seemed least helpful at the time:

* "such-and-such will happen when you least expect it"

* "don't ever give up"

* "don't run with scissors"

But in later reflection these lead me to different conclusions about these same items:

* The advisor understands that you're in pain, but really likes who you are when you're not moping. They're trying to help you get there, but they're not sure how.

* Admitting defeat is OK, and you can change focus (pivot) without stopping (giving up) entirely. This is a loophole. Use it.

* This has always been a good idea. Still is.

The advice I would offer would be to use advice wisely. Don't follow it blindly; reflect often, and be adaptable.

4 points by zaidf 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Its hard for me to find any piece of advice that 'messed' up my life per say. From the sounds of it, it seems like I'm blaming some advice when I should be accepting majority of the blame myself.
1 point by Goosey 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe I understand the intention of this entire thread: in order to flush out good advice try to first highlight 'bad advice'. However I hope that all those who read it and all those who posted in it remember something very important.

Regret is suffering. It is being attached to a different reality that you "should" be experiencing that is somehow better than the reality you are in. Everything that happened in your life, every single stupid thing, was required/essential/instrumental in your life being exactly as it is right now.

I hope we can make use of this thread as a means to help us guide future decisions without it functioning as a way to make us feel regret. Do not expend energy suffering over that which is not only out of your control, but an illusion. Your past is not reality: you are, right here, right now.

12 points by frankus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't have sex until you're older.
1 point by hugh3 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Y'know, I've racked my brain and I can't recall ever following any bad advice.

I can remember a lot of good advice that I didn't follow, though.

Conclusion: maybe I'm just not very good at following advice.

3 points by Aron 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Skipped a grade in elementary. The relative physical immaturity circa puberty made socialization tougher, and the virtues of the move are dubious. I think I'd rather have done the reverse.
3 points by wyclif 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"You should know what you want to do with your life by the time you start college." (Age 17 for me, US citizen.)
1 point by bromley 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Just do it, you've got nothing to lose."

In my experience, the people that make this statement rarely understand opportunity cost. It took me years to figure out that it's OK to let new opportunities pass you by if pursuing them would take your time away from the opportunities you're already committed to.

The more successful you get, the more opportunities come your way, so I think this is something successful people have to figure out eventually. If you make a success of one opportunity, it's always at the expense of another. It's good to be selective.

2 points by jraines 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"Houses always go up in value" -- paraphrase of David Allen's "Automatic Millionaire Homeowner" which convinced me to buy a place in Atlanta in 2005. Could've been a lot worse, but taking on a mortgage & furnishing a place at 23 was not the best idea.
9 points by stelfer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty much everyone who I looked up to who was an X and said: "You should be an X".
6 points by dedward 10 hours ago 0 replies      
None. I messed it up all by msyelf.
1 point by groaner 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"Good news should travel fast, bad news should travel even faster."

Sure, but not in an environment where "shoot the messenger" is the m.o. I learned to keep my head down pretty quickly, and now I'm looking for an exit strategy.

4 points by drpancake 11 hours ago 1 reply      
My parents: "Economics is where the money is; don't switch to Computer Science"

Glad I ignored that one. At universities in the UK, you choose a degree at the beginning then that's it.

2 points by bstar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Without a doubt, I would say all advice on my college education. The first bad advice I got was that I absolutely needed to go to a small school that would give me more personal time in the classroom. This ended up stressing me greatly in school... I wouldn't find out until long after I graduated that I excel greatly in environments that require me to investigate and learn on my own with some guidance.

The other poor advice was that county college is only for loosers. My advisors and teachers impressed this on me bigtime. In retrospect, county college would have been awesome to buy me a year or so until I was able to maturely handle a challenging curriculum. I needed some time to learn how to learn and gain some confidence in my ability to learn.

3 points by iopuy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Study Project Management instead of Computer Science, then you can manage teams of Computer Scientists!
2 points by dmoney 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think anything messed up my life, but if I had it to do over again, I might choose music as a career and programming as a hobby, instead of vice versa.
1 point by grandalf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Just do your best". This advice is intended to allow focused effort without harping on competitive aspects, but it has the effect of detaching the doer from any sense of responsibility for the outcome, and also leads to self-deception if you lie to yourself and claim that you did your best.

Sometimes it's OK to do less than your best, other times your best isn't good enough. Results are what matter, so figure out what result you want and accomplish it.

3 points by amichail 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The pressure to do well in school/university had a really negative impact on my life.

Better advice would have been to find a way to make money that I enjoy.

4 points by J3L2404 10 hours ago 0 replies      
No advice messed up my life, I did.
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Bad advice:
Don't be a programmer, programmers can't find work and is miserable work.

I had a major passion for it at the time (pre college) and had I taken this advice from everyone in my family, I would probably be working in McDonalds at this point.

1 point by ronnier 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I was never told this, but I know it is said, and said often that "you can be whatever you want". I don't believe that, nor do I think it's healthy for children to be told it because it's flat out not true.
1 point by Tycho 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Stuff they tell you in Sunday school which is impossible/undesirable in practical terms yet leaves a lingering sense of unworthiness about one's own character and a lack of healthy ambition:

- love thy neighbour

- don't be selfish

- don't care about money/possessions

- don't judge

Oh, and also: install OpenOffice.org

1 point by laxj11 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"don't try too hard"
I used to be a star student/great work ethic. then i figured that i was working too hard thanks to this advise and my work ethic became horrible and i am struggling to keep my grades. always work at full capacity. itll get you places in life
1 point by j_baker 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Go to college, get a degree, and get a good GPA."

It isn't that this is necessarily bad advice. It's just that it was bad advice for me.

1 point by a5seo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Advisor suggested I should go ahead and to start my next venture concurrent with my 3 yr earnout on the company I'd just sold. Long story short, my idea + my money + 25% of my time + nontechnical cofounder getting salary and 40% sweat equity = 9 mos of dev turned into 24, launching after several competitors, all seed money burned on dev, no money for marketing, slow sales ramp, running out of cash, selling my stake to another investor for 50% of what I paid. Company still exists, cash flow breakeven, but my equity is all but washed out. Had I focused 100% I would have 100% of a very nice micro ISV.
2 points by aelaguiz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
My best friend told me re: having to pee at night "you just gotta go man otherwise you will just lay there and suffer" since that day I've not had a full nights sleep. I'll never forgive him.
2 points by TotlolRon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Things along these lines:

As long as you've made something that a few users are ecstatic about, you're on the right track. ... It may take a while, but as long as you keep plugging away, you'll win in the end.

That's not realllllllly how it works in the valley.

6 points by jiganti 12 hours ago 2 replies      
You're special.
2 points by ible 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"Go with the flow" - it's ok for being friendly, but crap for making the life you want to live
"Run away from a fight" - A knife fight sure, but in grade school and in metaphor it's pretty bad advice.
"Smart is sufficient" - it's not even necessary
2 points by delinquentme 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Attractive females are scarce... turns out females actually out number males ...
1 point by ashleyreddy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Growing up I though engineer meant making cool shit. But going to engineering school meant learning things from first pricipals and not making cool shit. I should have gone in to arts and gotten laid more while making stuff on my free time.
0 points by buckwild 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"I want you to hit me as hard as you can." A whole downward spiral started from there. Until I hit bottom. :-D
1 point by codeglomeration 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nothing that messed up my life, but the pieces of bad advice I'm glad I dropped are "you should try to please everyone" and "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" which are a rough translation of two Romanian proverbs encouraging obedience and complacency.
As soon as I ignored those I started accomplishing meaningful things.
1 point by SRSimko 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Go to school, get a good education, go get a good job and live happily ever after. Guess what the world changes and that doesn't cut it anymore. Now I believe in making my own future.
1 point by hellrich 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Complete your degree - if you don't believe in it, it isn't worth the time!
1 point by neworbit 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"People are mostly good"
"OpenVizsla" Open Source USB Protocol Analyzer kickstarter.com
34 points by jamesbritt 13 hours ago   6 comments top 3
2 points by deutronium 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds a really interesting idea.

They say "Software-based analyzers are available, but only useful in certain limited applications.", could someone explain this in more detail?

Wouldn't examining the USB packets on a computer, give you the same information?


Slightly off-topic, but if you want to analyse signals like RS232, SPI etc.
this is really nice:


1 point by Pahalial 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Timing is everything.

Before the Kinect hack launched countless discussion threads into a breakdown of USB sniffing and the like, I'm sure this project would never even have hit its goal.

1 point by rbanffy 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I had a vizsla when I was a kid. Very good dog.
How Did The Beatles Sell 2 Million Songs On iTunes? Mostly Facebook (Not Search) searchengineland.com
32 points by n-named 12 hours ago   16 comments top 9
12 points by cletus 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yeah, sorry no sale, for two reasons:

1. Experian Hitwise samples data from reporting service providers. According to Wikipedia [1] that's 10 million users in the United States. We all know how problematic Internet sampling can be for browser market share and so on, even if it is a large sample; and

2. What does apple.com have to do with the Beatles on iTunes? Most people I would guess access iTunes through the iTunes application.

Now I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm just not convinced they're right. If Apple released their referrer stats, that'd be something else entirely.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitwise

6 points by dasil003 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Not surprising. How many people over the past 7 years have gone to the ITMS hoping to buy some Beatles music only to found out that it was surprisingly unavailable. A deeper inspection may have revealed the longstanding feud between Apple Computer and the Beatles' music label Apple Records.

So for a critical mass of people the Beatles on iTunes is big news, and naturally they posted it to Facebook, which naturally got a higher than normal click-through rate. This combination of timeliness and virality is optimally captured by social media, and something for which search gets at best a trickle-down effect. But over the coming months, it becomes old news, and then people start searching for it.

3 points by kmfrk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how big a role Ping played in all this. I still haven't figured out the point of it, but maybe Apple managed to leverage it in the sales success.
8 points by nhangen 12 hours ago 4 replies      
That's crazy...was I the only one that saw the Beatles coming to iTunes as a non-event? Granted, I'm a fan, but wow.
1 point by po 8 hours ago 0 replies      
We asked Hitwise to run similar data for the US market. The numbers show a marked increase in social media traffic to Apple.com and a drop in search traffic on November 16th, but not enough for the former to surpass the latter.

Looking at the chart, I don't see it. Looks like it's within the normal noise to me. The second chart shows facebook going from 0.04% to 0.08% traffic. Not exactly something to write home about.

So why does hitwise's data show such different numbers for US and UK data?

2 points by butterfi 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How did advertising factor into this research? I saw more then a few stories covering the Beatles release on iTunes.
1 point by Hates_ 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The cited Billboard article is fascinating as well:


3 points by poppysan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would think the commercials and news blitz helped a lot...
1 point by lukeschlather 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems it says a lot more about demographics than about the power of Facebook. The demographics that don't use Facebook as heavily are, I would guess, the same demographics that already own The Beatles' library, not only on Vinyl, but on CDs.

Even twenty-somethings like myself probably own a few Beatles albums. Or we have transferred our parents' shelves full of LPs into a more durable format (or that's what we will tell the RIAA should they show up at our doors.)

Danish researchers finally solve the obesity riddle physorg.com
43 points by chaostheory 14 hours ago   18 comments top 9
2 points by Mz 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have trouble taking such studies seriously. I have a life-threatening medical condition which typically causes people to be underweight and I was quite thin as a child but put on a lot of weight as an adult (probably in part due to being prescribed steroids for my health issues). After finally getting an appropriate diagnosis late in life, I did some research and changed my diet to address my health issues. I have lost several dress sizes, even though that was not my goal. I was getting plenty of positive male attention when I was a size 24-26 and my doctor was telling me to work on my health issues and not worry about my weight (because people like me are typically underweight, which is more immediately life-threatening than being overweight), so I had no goal of losing weight. I was just trying to get healthier because I was so sick, on a lot of medication and miserable.

My experience tends to fly in the face of the pronouncements such studies make, so I just have a really hard time taking it seriously that you can come up with a generic suggestion for diet that will work equally well for 6 billion people.

3 points by cmer 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Holy cow. It's a small world! One of the main guys behind this is actually a great friend of mine. I've known him since kindergarten and he's now amongst the top researchers in the world. I wish I had something to do with it! He recently moved back to Canada from Copenhagen.

He has no clue what Hacker News is, but I'll email him this thread, perhaps he'll chime in if any of you have questions.

1 point by moo 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've thought the argument in "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" is very insightful. Viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM. Pointing out that the Atkins diet (no carbs, fat okay) and the Japanese diet (mostly carbs, low fat intake) have in common that they eliminate sugar, the major cause of obesity.
2 points by chesser 9 hours ago 1 reply      
These studies are nutty. You can't separate diet from activity; you can't treat wide categories of food so indiscriminately; you can't use BMI or weight instead of body composition, and get definitive results.

Just for example, raw foodists tend to have low-protein diets that may be low OR high-glycemic index, and tend to be very thin.

Without a comprehensive listing of specific meals, I would guess that people in certain groups in this study would be much more likely to cheat on their diets. The selection of low-protein, low-GI foods for most people used to typical Western diets would lead to very disappointing meals and thus more cheating over a 6-month period.

Further, gaining a pound of fat over a period of 6 months works out to less than 20 extra calories per day. This is essentially noise. Cheating with 150 extra calories once per week (e.g. a single sugary treat) could account for this.

Keeping your blood sugar in check is a major factor in preventing binge eating and fat storage. There are various ways to do this, including low-GI foods, exercise, and eating small meals frequently. The recent standard for Hollywood stars and starlets is working with a personal trainer and eating every 2 hours. This helps keep blood sugar steady.

On the flip side, people engaged in sustained cardiovascular exercise must eat high-GI foods or their performance drops. Riders in the Tour de France chow down on every sugary snack and drink known to man (not just "performance formulas" of energy bars and drinks), and Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day while training.

You don't need that level of Herculean effort before this becomes important. Even if you are completely sedentary, if you are engaged in a mentally taxing task, your brain is burning through a lot of glucose. Eating sucrose means half glucose and half fructose, and only the glucose can be metabolized immediately. Fructose can be stored by the liver and converted, but if the liver reserves are full (e.g. late in the day, as opposed to waking up from fasting during sleep), fructose will end up as fat. Fructose has a low glycemic index, so guess which sugar is more likely to be included in a low-GI diet. (Glucose is of course used by diabetics in order to raise their blood sugar quickly. It is also called Dextrose.)

Finally, without body composition analysis, they haven't shown anything about fat loss. High protein diets require more water to process, and a difference of a pound or two on a human body can easily be down to differences in fluid retention. High protein diets can lead to slightly more dehydration.

2 points by sown 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Bodybuilders have been saying this for a while. There are always arguments about thermodynamics and what not, and there is good reason behind those, but everyone in a gym who builds up a lean body (sans steroids or not) follow a similar dietary pattern: lean meats, veggies, no flour/sugar/starchy veggies, etc for cutting and then eating more protein and some complex carbs (like from potatoes) to build lean mass.
1 point by nowarninglabel 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Calories in - Calories out = calories remaining
How is that a riddle?
3 points by hellrich 11 hours ago 3 replies      
"randomly assigned to one of five different low-fat diet types"
- so most combinations weren't tested at all?
-1 point by drdo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to these guys for finding out something people have known for decades.
-4 points by rubashov 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this site full of fatties? Why does every diet article shoot to the top?

Gotta be careful if that's the case. Wouldn't want to catch the fat virus here or anything.

Staying Sane in Academia regehr.org
32 points by gnosis 12 hours ago   6 comments top
5 points by jey 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting to contrast this with Richard Hamming's advice:

  Another trait, it took me a while to notice. I noticed the following facts about
people who work with the door open or the door closed. I notice that if you have
the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and
you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't know
quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort
of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of
interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and
what might be important. Now I cannot prove the cause and effect sequence
because you might say, ``The closed door is symbolic of a closed mind.'' I don't
know. But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work
with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although
people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work
on slightly the wrong thing - not much, but enough that they miss fame.

PG has posted the full essay at http://www.paulgraham.com/hamming.html

How Edmunds Got in The Fast Lane edmunds.com
24 points by ez77 11 hours ago   2 comments top
5 points by chime 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Reading this article and the recent DeviantArt post about page-load optimization (especially with respect to JS) makes me think there is a need for a standardized, scalable solution for page-assembling & loading. Something that would take into account things like ad networks, external JS, user-accounts, lots of small JS files used throughout the site, lots of small images, and backend services like memcached. Maybe the solution is not a standalone application or a new framework but rather a front-end JS library with a few backend modules in different languages (PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl).

Small sites spit out HTML from a couple of files/classes, large sites (e.g. your auto-insurance company) assemble a single HTML page using hundreds to even thousands of different files. Most large sites write their own HTML concatenator but as there is no standard or best-practice method, each one is organically grown and gets more and more complex over time. Now imagine being tasked with improving the pageload of a single webpage that calls 43 different backend services (mysql, vsam, ldap, memcache, soap etc.) across 600 different .php or .java files - you won't even know where to begin. MVC doesn't help much when you have 30 controllers calling 40 views and 20 models. The problem is there is no HTML pipeline.

Writing code to make a cube spin in 3D is easy using OpenGL. Making 100 cubes do the same isn't much more difficult either. This is because the graphics cards have a pipeline that you can fill using OpenGL commands in the right order. There is no right order for spitting out HTML, CSS, or JS and so everyone makes their own. Large sites already use some object-orientated say to echo "[div]blah[/div]" instead of hand-coding it. They just do it using their home-built solution. If there existed a standardized pipeline that different libraries, modules, and even web-servers could use, the optimizations described in the article would be nearly automatic.

If Facebook Threatens the Web, then WordPress Saved the Web marcgrabanski.com
37 points by grabanski 14 hours ago   10 comments top 3
11 points by grantheaslip 11 hours ago 3 replies      
We're never going to convince regular people to run their own Diaspora server. I mean, look at this:


Even Wordpress is increasingly becoming a huge liability for someone who isn't a sysadmin to run. Telling a non-geek friend to use a self-hosted Wordpress install to host their personal blog strikes me as incredibly irresponsible in the same way that jailbreaking/rooting a non-geek's smartphone would be doing them a huge disservice. Nobody should be self-hosting unless they know exactly what they're committing to. I'd much rather they use a hosted platform with a good export mechanism than use wordpress, see their site hacked using a zero-day export, and completely lose faith in "openness".

Data portability is something that average people can understand, something that sites can implement fairly easily, and something that's compatible with how regular people use computers. If geeks push self-hosting, they risk completely losing their credibility with regular people in the same way that the FSF has. Data portability might not be as sexy, but it's something that we have a chance of seeing through.

There's a reason why people used closed systems like Facebook, and it's not ignorance"it's convenience and quality. People aren't going to move away from these systems for the sake of "openness", but they might be convinced to push companies to implement true data portability if we can convince them why it's important.

3 points by VladRussian 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> Nobody should be self-hosting unless they know exactly what they're committing to.

it is just a FUD. Self-hosting can be done in a range of options - starting with your personal webserver on your own home or collocated computer (geek) to the pages personalized with your domain name on some common hosted and managed _open_ platform like wordpress, etc... (regular, non-geek person)

The issue isn't about technicalities of hosting or data portability. It is about content ownership. What FB does is "all you base are belong to us".

My related post on similar issue about giving away reviews to sites likes Yelp

Edit : this post is actually a reply to http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1943861

1 point by Tichy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Facebook/Twitter are basically just blogs with inbuilt blog readers, and a beefed up blog roll. Isn't that why Tumbler seems to be taking off suddenly?

Funny how much of a difference subtle details of implementation can make.

       cached 27 November 2010 11:59:01 GMT