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Geohot seeking donations for legal defense against Sony. geohot.com
204 points by elliottcarlson 9 hours ago   44 comments top 24
25 points by cookiecaper 7 hours ago 2 replies      
He mentions that the EFF isn't taking on the full load of the case, but maybe he'd get more donations if EFF acted as an intermediary and managed the donations for him. He mentions several times questions like "Why should I trust you?", and his answer, "I'm very ethical", is not that reliable in and of itself. If the EFF sets up a fund, we wouldn't have to worry about suspicions about the use of the money and Geohot wouldn't have to worry about whether certain things qualify as "legal expenses" or outright temptations to misuse the fund.

He may also be able to circumvent PayPal fees, ultimately giving him more money, and he won't have to worry about transferring the remainder to the EFF at the end of it all.

I think that if the EFF won't assume such an important case completely, they could at least help out with some payment processing.

32 points by elliottcarlson 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm donating - what Sony is doing is illegal. I understand that his work has lead to the option of piracy, and I fully support Sony's decision to ban consoles that have been modified from their online network - however the legal battle against geohot and team fail overflow is wrong.

Bottom line; this is a worthy fight to wager and my money will help support it.

18 points by cheald 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Donated, and I don't even have a PS3. However, I vehemently believe in the user's right to do whatever he wants to his own hardware.
7 points by d_r 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A side question. If we donate, what stops PayPal from randomly "freezing" his account and holding the money hostage, as they have on a number of other occasions for people having a "Donate" link?
5 points by archangel_one 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just donated. I wish there was someone better than Paypal for this; I can't see any good reason why it should take several tries for me to guess my own phone number. "Please enter a valid telephone number" is NOT a helpful error message!
9 points by steve19 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I just donated. I don't own a single Sony device but this fight is far bigger than just Sony PS3s.
11 points by kirubakaran 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Donated. I am saying so here because I donated seeing the comments of other people.
2 points by fleitz 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like anon is in on the action as well.

I've donated.

1 point by antirez 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Just donated, this is not just a matter related to gethot but also a matter of freedom. Soon or later we should try to win the battle and have an international law stating that once you get some hardware you can put any kind of software inside that hardware, exactly like you can cut everything you like when you purchase scissors.
4 points by eitland 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This can easily turn into the

    SCEA vs The Internet 


11 points by jefe78 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Is there a way we contribute without our wallets?
3 points by kamidev 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Just donated. I don't own a PS3 but consider this case important.

I stopped buying any kind of Sony hardware years ago, the first word that comes up in my mind when I hear Sony is "lock-in". Obviously, they don't care that their brand is already tainted in the eyes of many technical people. But losing this kind of lawsuit would be harder to ignore.

1 point by pluies 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Donating. I don't have a PS3 either, but jailbreak should be legal and I hope this can set a good precedent.
14 points by rymngh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
im also donating, this fight will determine the future of console systems
13 points by Klonoar 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Fuck it, donated; why not?
4 points by rfugger 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope he gets enough donations to countersue.
3 points by MattBearman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I donated, I don't own any Sony hardware anyway, but this is cause I really care about. If Sony were to win it could open a shit storm of similar activity from other manufacturers.
11 points by _prototype_ 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Just donated. Let the battle begin.
3 points by kirubakaran 6 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't need a Paypal account to donate. Click on the 'continue' link under 'Don't have a PayPal account?' section.
2 points by dark_c 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a poor college student with no PS3, yet I donated. It's up to the court to decide this war but the armies should be equal.
2 points by rheide 2 hours ago 0 replies      
While I'm morally completely against Sony's point of view, I'm not sure if there's much that can be done legally. Besides that, I'm a bit unsure about donating to a guy who does not seem to realize what kind of mess he's in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUvuaChDEg
12 points by drstrangevibes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm donating
3 points by lyime 4 hours ago 0 replies      
0 points by DisposaBoy 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So the only options if I want to donate are:

* Use Paypal

* Initiate communication (via email)

No thanks.

"t-" : A less-than-minimal task list "manager" penzba.co.uk
20 points by RiderOfGiraffes 3 hours ago   16 comments top 4
1 point by cturner 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Something I wrote recently: a repl that keeps track of things I'd like to spend five minutes a day on. sqlite3 behind it. When I type 'run' it lists the tasks in random order. For each, I can say yes or no, and if yes, leave a note. At some time in the future I'll be able to write a tool to see the log being kept in sqlite3.
4 points by RiderOfGiraffes 3 hours ago 1 reply      
To answer some of the comments made already, and to preempt others, I largely hacked "t-" together because I wanted to see if "t" would be worth bothering with. It seemed little better than just having a text file and so I didn't really see the point. But equally (I thought) I could be wrong.

But "t" didn't run on my very old, stick-it-in-the-corner-and-occasionally-play machine (which only has Python 2.2.1) so I spent a happy hour putting this together, more-or-less at random.

I'm finding it's helping, but maybe that will only be till the novelty wears off.

3 points by Groxx 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't see a difference between that and t, aside from -e and --delete-if-empty. Am I missing something? Or does t not have sort-friendly output? (if so, t- all the way, that's a big bonus)


-1 point by beoba 3 hours ago 1 reply      
At St. Paul 'wet house,' liquor can be their life - and death twincities.com
68 points by michaelfairley 6 hours ago   34 comments top 10
4 points by iamelgringo 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
My first job in a hospital (I'm an ER nurse ) in 1993 was as an ER tech at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

After welfare checks came out at the beginning of the months, we would have literally dozens of homeless alcoholics lining the hallways of the ER, sometimes stacked in gurneys along the wall, three deep.

The beginning of the month, people would drink hard liquor. Middle of the month, cheap grain alcohol and towards the end of the month, when Walgreens sold 1 liter bottles of Listerine for $2, "List" became the drink of choice.

At the time, it was illegal to be publicly intoxicated in Minneapolis, so the police would pick up the drunks and bring them to the ER for medical clearance, but never take them to jail when they were sober. So, the drunks would marinate all night in the ER until they could blow less than 0.1 on a breathalyser and then they could walk out.

ER overcrowding with drunks became such a huge problem, that the hospital opened up a "drunk tank" or a dedicated hospital unit to let these guys sleep and sober up. It was a 25 bed unit, and you weren't eligible to stay on that unit unless your alcohol level was over 0.3. I routinely saw people at 0.4 and occasionally 0.5. (Legally drunk in California is 0.08 these days.)

On top of that, the ER built a dedicated holding unit for the alcoholics who blew between 0.1 and 0.3 on the breathalyser. It was an 8 room locked holding unit. staffed by 2 nurses, 2 security guards and 2 ER techs. One night, I remember holding over 26 patients in there.

One night, two police officers (understandably) who were quite fed up with the situation brought in 3 patients soaked in urine and feces in to the ER in their patrol car. They could only fit 1 in the back seat of their car, so they brought the other two.... in the trunk of the cop car. Bad plan.

Someone called the press, the cops were suspended. The two alcoholics pressed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis, and were awarded $4 Million in damages.

Hennepin County Medical Center, the ER where the alcoholics were brought to knew these two men well. They had had over 200 ER visits and/or hospitalizations in the previous 2 years. So, Hennepin County immediately pursued payment for these two men's ER bills (over $2 Million each), and got a lien on the lawsuit money.

A month after the suit was settled and these men received the payment for the county, and paid off their hospital bill, they started frequenting the ER where I worked yet again--passed out, covered in feces and soaked in urine.

I'm not trying to make judgments. It's a terrible situation all around. Alcoholism is a terrible disease. And, when it's terminal... I think hospice might be the smarter choice.

At least via the hospice model, the alcoholics can die with a few shreds of dignity instead of passing out drunk in a snow bank when it's -20F in the Minnesota winters and having toes and then feet amputated because of frost bite. Also, in the hospice model, the health care system can take care of people who can best use their services.

Good article. It brought back a lot of interesting memories. :)

15 points by Groxx 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting. I can see how it would be appealing to long-time alcoholics (the "endless optimism" would get pretty sickening).

Not entirely sure what my stance is on it, though - it's essentially long-term non-profit euthanasia. It's what they want, but it's also what they want because they're addicted and it's re-wired their brain so drastically they'll do just about anything to keep feeding it.

On the flip side, rehabilitating someone who doesn't want to be rehabilitated to some degree is essentially throwing enormous sums of money down the drain, and drags that time of their life far lower than it was before. Instead, this offers them companionship and fewer insults (and keeps them in line) until they die, and that seems to be what many people want - what they have for shorter instead of something else which may or may not be better for longer.

If nothing else, it has jogged my thinker; I'll probably debate with myself for a while on this :)

2 points by teyc 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is the equivalent of heroin injection galleries that has been trialled in various parts of the world. The basic idea is that these people are at less risk of overdosing, or sharing needles. Basic medical care is readily available should these people need it.

I just haven't heard it being done for chronic alcoholics. But the hospice analogy is correct.

It is the equivalent of palliative care for cancer patients who have given up (or their doctors have given up) further treatment.

4 points by RevRal 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My step brother's uncle was an alcoholic for ~25 years (off and on for 25 years? I don't know how this works). He joined the native American church, where he presumably used peyote, and the alcoholism eventually went away and he is now happy.

I am by no means read on the subject, just some first hand experience seeing someone crawl out of a pit of despair. It's unfortunate that this avenue isn't researched or condoned much.

1 point by seertaak 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
It seems pretty logical that St. Anthony's -- in certain cases -- is preferrable to the AA model.

What bothers me is that my understanding is that a large percentage of long-time alcoholics and homeless have mental health issues. These issues would perhaps best be addressed by forcably interning them in mental health institutions (which, again according to my limited understanding, have gotten somewhat of an unfairly bad reputation in the last fifty years). Perhaps using the the correct pharmaceuticals and treatment would be better than the "drink yourself to death" approach. However, this would involve removing the freedom of the homeless person to decide for himself. It's a tough choice, but all in all I applaud rational systems that are subject to a-posteriori measurements of efficacy.

2 points by verysimple 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think I have a problem with it yet, because I'm rationalizing. It somehow makes sense. I'm not sure I would feel the same if someone I cared for decided this would be the solution to their problem though.

I suspect many people will feel similarly. If my suspicions are correct, I wonder if we're witnessing a paradigm shift about problems such as alcoholism, drugs and homelessness. Are we as a society beginning to accept that some people are beyond redemption and should just be considered a "loss"? How far can we take this?

1 point by Pahalial 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The MeFi thread on this a few days ago had some good content, including the abstract from a study on just how drastically housing the homeless and/or alcoholic reduces overall costs to society


I still don't know how I feel about it, though. Just sad rather than strongly for or against.

-1 point by originalgeek 3 hours ago 1 reply      
State sponsored homicide on the installment plan.
-4 points by reeses 4 hours ago 6 replies      
Why precisely is this Hacker News material?
-2 points by AndrewVos 56 minutes ago 1 reply      
"They have peed on their last couch"


Riseup riseup.net
44 points by zoowar 6 hours ago   11 comments top 3
23 points by gst 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Quoting from https://help.riseup.net/policy/social-contract/ :

"We ask that you do not use riseup.net services to advocate any of the following:
Support for capitalism [...]"

So why should I use such a provider that restricts my freedom of speech?

1 point by fungi 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
hehe i'm guessing none of the upvoters are leaving comments.

if anyone in aus/nz is looking for a similar group of social justice/eco orientated techs try axxs.org

5 points by tommi 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't that more insecure approach than distributing your communication? What if riseup gets hacked or taken down by government?
Why Nobody Can Match the iPad's Price wired.com
90 points by gsivil 10 hours ago   68 comments top 18
85 points by gabrielroth 9 hours ago 4 replies      
One factor that the author doesn't mention is Apple's success at lining up deals with component manufacturers. A couple years ago (before anyone had heard of the iPad) they locked in great prices on flash memory and LCD displays. They could do that because they were about to invent a huge market, and they knew it. Anyone trying to get into the tablet business in 2010 had to pay much, much more.

Steve Jobs and Johnny Ive are no slouches, but Tim Cook doesn't get enough credit for stuff like that.

31 points by netcan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"That's (Apple stores) advantageous, because if the iPad were primarily sold at third-party retail stores, a big chunk of profit would go to those retailers, Hiner reasons."

"Designing in-house means Apple doesn't have to pay licensing fees to third parties to use their intellectual property. For instance, the A4 chip"

This is silly. Software development, retail, chip design etc. all cost money. Apple isn't just taking Bets Buy's cut, it's taking its risk and its costs. Same for chips, software, etc. Actually it's more risky and costly in many ways. If the chip turned out to be good but not ideal for iPads they're not going to go find a different market for it. Apple stores aren't free to cash in on whatever popular high margin non-Apple widget people are buying this season.

Vertically integrating obviously works well for Apple, but saying that Apple is able to sell iPads @ $500 because of it is missing the point. You now just have to explain what makes apple good at retail, software, chip design, etc.

17 points by staunch 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> "Designing in-house means Apple doesn't have to pay licensing fees to third parties to use their intellectual property. For instance, the A4 chip"

Isn't the A4 an ARM + PowerVR and doesn't Apple pay design licenses on both those?

25 points by fuzzmeister 9 hours ago 2 replies      
"Apple is the most vertically integrated company in the world."

I struggle to see how that statement could be true for a company that outsources all of its manufacturing.

7 points by cosmicray 9 hours ago 0 replies      
> Apple has partnered with a few retail chains such as Best Buy and Walmart, but those stores always seem to get a small number of units in stock. Hiner rationalizes that the true purpose of these partnerships is probably to help spread the marketing message, not so much to sell iPads.

The display unit at WalMart is behind plexiglass. If you want to touch it, someone with a key has to open the cover. I'm glad to see current Apple products at WalMart, but the actual sales experience is significantly less than going to an Apple store, or to BB.

IMHO, the real secret behind the iPad's price is supply chain management and very astute inventory control. Idle inventory can really wreck your bottom line.

7 points by nazgulnarsil 5 hours ago 2 replies      
nook color is $250 (sold at a loss, but available nontheless)
xoom is $600
Archos 70 and 101 are $300
notion ink is $425

I call shenaningans

3 points by eik3_de 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Designing in-house means Apple doesn't have to pay licensing fees to third parties to use their intellectual property. For instance, the A4 chip inside the iPad is based on technology developed and owned by Apple (not Intel, AMD or Nvidia). The operating system is Apple's own, not something licensed from Microsoft or Google.

Apple doesn't/didn't pay licensing fees to ARM or PowerVR for the A4 components?

What exactly do you have to pay to Google to "license" Android?

It seems like the author doesn't quite know what he's talking about.

7 points by drhodes 9 hours ago 1 reply      
From the mouth of the CEO of motorola, the wifi-only Xoom to be priced at $600, he announced Wednesday.


3 points by antimatter15 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's also a problem with Android. When the iPad is sold for the low price, they're aiming for market share. This in turn, attracts developers which attract consumers where apple makes a nice 30%. But if Motorola competed for a low price, it wouldn't necessarily secure a future as it only furthers the Android platform, which any vendor can build on top of. Thus it doesn't make sense for any Android tablet vendors to play loss-leader, while it does for Apple to.
3 points by gnaffle 3 hours ago 0 replies      
When I read about the component shortages of 10" displays, I couldn't help but think about Steve Jobs rant last year about tablet sizes. He went on about how Apple had thought a lot about tablet screen sizes, and that you needed a 10" screen to get a decent experience. The companies deciding on a 7" screen had made the wrong choice.

It now seems like he was just mocking the competition about being unable to ship a similar price competitive tablet.

2 points by martythemaniak 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Somehow, having a crapload more hardware hasn't entered the author's analysis anywhere. Why would you expect 1GB of RAM to cost the same as 256mb?

I can't believe people are buying this tripe. I'm willing to put down $20 that by the holidays, you'll see cheaper android tablets (same specs, not this bullshit), any takers?

1 point by etaty 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
2 points by fxj 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
archos101 $300, 10 inch screen, 1024x600, android 2.2, usb host and client.
of course, not a us company ;-)
2 points by runinit 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The Notion Ink Adam is cheaper...

Notion Ink Adam with LCD & WiFi (no 3G) - $375 USD
Notion Ink Adam with LCD, WiFi & 3G - $425 USD

Notion Ink Adam with Pixel Qi display & WiFi (no 3G) - $499USD
Notion Ink Adam with Pixel Qi display, WiFi & 3G - $549 USD

1 point by markszcz 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel a lot of other companies are riding the tablet wave. Why would motorola underprice the Xoom when possibly they could make a killing on selling the next "iPad" killer.

If its true that Apple is sitting on a pretty price margin on the iPad, then the Xoom, I feel, wouldent be to far off. If they had to they could lower the price to gain momentum but so far this is Motorolas first good tablet release and I dont think they will want to miss an opportunity to make a pretty penny on this.

0 points by edtechdev 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This article didn't get the prices right (which is suprising since that was the sole point of the article), and it got the history exactly backward.

The main shock people had about the ipad was how expensive it was priced ($500-$750). They weren't 'surprised' at how low it was priced. And to Apple's credit, we now know that even at that price it would sell well, and also we know that this price is actually not so unreasonable or inflated as we thought, because other major manufacturers making comparable quality tablet products are also in that price range (except for the nook color, notion ink adam, archos 101 and 70, or several no-name tablets).

Also, the xoom is $600 compared to the old ipad's price of $500. If you want to compare the $800 xoom with 3g (and 4g), compare it with the $750 ipad with 3g. So the prices are not so different.

-4 points by elgy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
-4 points by yock 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Apple can sell the iPad for $500 because they have the iTunes store backing it. They know they don't need to make money on the sale of the device because the entire point of buying the device is to buy apps for it, and Apple as we all know gets a cut from every sale.

Other manufacturers don't have this working for them.

Rabbits v. Tigers lrb.co.uk
66 points by ph0rque 8 hours ago   8 comments top 5
10 points by verysimple 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Somehow I feel for the Chinese government (not really). They're caught between a rock and a really hard place.

On one hand they have to control the flow of info over 1.5 billion people and it's getting increasingly hard. With every piece they ban there's always a bit of Streisand effect. With people getting more and more knowledgeable about how to get around the system to get their sources (see Egypt 2011), that effect gains more and more amplitude.

On the other hand they just can't pretend to release their grip by ignoring that kind of material. It's 1.5 billion people. If they let go even just a little bit, they're bound to lose some control they'll never be able to regain.

A rock and a hard place. I really can't fathom what the future holds for China.

3 points by jasonmcalacanis 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Get ready for the riots in China...

oh wait

1 point by abecedarius 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of the norska in the Vlad Taltos novels: they look just like rabbits and they eat dragons. Too bad it wasn't the year of the dragon we were coming out of!

Also Monty Python's killer rabbits.

1 point by shadowpwner 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This video is pretty messed up.
Teaching Perl to Undergraduates onionstand.blogspot.com
12 points by Phra 3 hours ago   7 comments top 3
7 points by bigiain 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Perl is an amazing programming language. And, with its growing worldwide re-popularization"

Have I missed something? I'd kinda like this to be true, Perl is still my go-to language when I need to hack something together - not because I think it's necessarily "the best" language to do most jobs, but because I know it's "the best" language for _me_...

Has everybody _else_ figured that out too? ;-)

3 points by wyuenho 1 hour ago 3 replies      
"Perl is an amazing programming language. And, with its growing worldwide re-popularization"

Just because this guy says it is so, doesn't make it is so. Tell me 1 metric that tells me definitively Perl is coming back. If this guy told me Perl is never going away, I'd believe him, but when he told me Perl is coming back, with no data to back it up but his ass, and use that as an excuse to brain-wrap the next generation of programmers to think in an alien language that looks like comic characters cursing with $_@qw()<>$@{}*&lc()~>>>$.$/$<$:, I'd brand it as a trash.

0 points by jmah 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Btw slides aren't in English (and download is disabled, what's up with that?).
I finally understand why I'm not allowed to use Lisp google.com
97 points by gnosis 12 hours ago   80 comments top 15
25 points by j_baker 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I learned something a long time ago. It's far, far easier to dismiss others' code as "complex", "unmaintainable", or "clever" than it is to try and understand the code well enough to figure out whether that code was written that way for a valid reason. It's true whether you're new and approaching a codebase for the first time or whether you're reviewing someone else's code.

And no, I'm not saying that it's ok for code to be overly complex or unmaintainable. I'm saying that your first impression of code is probably wrong and you need to understand it before you dismiss it.

64 points by acangiano 12 hours ago replies      
> I work in C# (worst language EVER!)

You lose all credibility right there. C# is far from the worst language ever, and a pretty decent one among mainstream object oriented languages.

2 points by fleitz 1 hour ago 1 reply      
A better question is whose going to maintain all those for-loops that are buggy because human error means even a basic thing like a loop will get screwed up. Managers are always talking about code reuse but as soon as you pass a function, they are like "Woah thats crazy how can we maintain that"

Only managers would think that

  int accum;
for(int i = 0; i < arr.length; i++){
accum += arr[i];

is more readable and maintainable than...

  arr.sum(x => x)

Oh look and even though I've written a million for loops depending on the language there is a bug because i didn't intialize accum.

3 points by enjo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember running into this early on at Quickoffice. I was tasked with essentially re-writing the entire application stack as the existing code was in pretty rough shape.

C++ was mandated by the platform, but I spent a lot of time getting the STL and Boost up and running. The entire thing relied heavily on templates, including some of the more advanced meta-programming techniques. In each case the 'cleverness' was warranted as it greatly reduced the complexity and redundancy of the code.

My boss at the time raised concerns over how maintainable this all was. How we're junior programmers going to be able to work on it? Being all of 22 I naively responded "well, lets just hire people who can handle it."

Interestingly, that's exactly what we did. We were much more thorough in our hiring process precisely because we needed folks who could rise to the level of the code we had written.

It seems to me that people (and companies) tend to rise to the level of the expectations that you set. In this case, making the decision to use LISP means that you're consciously making the decision to hire the caliber of talent that can use lisp. That may be a good thing (it was in the case above for sure).

I suppose it really comes down to making sure that the complexity of the application warrants the use of the more advanced abstraction. A simple web-site for someone selling tractors might warrant a different ("easier") tool than something inherently more complex.

1 point by apl 59 minutes ago 0 replies      

  > They follow where We the Blessed Gurus lead them. But
> this time it is to the slaughterhouse, because the
> world needs only fifty Lisp programmers to write All
> the Code.

Oh comp.lang.lisp. Why did I even bother to read the replies?

8 points by rorrr 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Kudos to his manager for actually looking at the code and recognizing the problem. Maintainable code is extremely important. Just keep your code simple. Adding another layer of abstraction instead of writing a simple and readable loop (if the language doesn't have accumulators) is not a good solution.

I've seen this too many times. Smart developers write complex code, just because they can (and often it does make it shorter), but then mid- and junior-level developer struggle with it. So company has to spend more money on smarter developers.

Here's a relevant post by Linus:


7 points by gsivil 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I find nothing interesting in the original post to be honest. Just somebody that has a superficial impression about C# is complaining. Even the first 25 comments that I read are of no particular interest.

Meta: I wildly guess the HN post gets all the upvotes because initally people think that it will be about a google employee not allowed to use Lisp in google.

3 points by S_A_P 10 hours ago 1 reply      
OOOH I was so wanting to tell the OP

What is so hard about this???
//assume some sorta IEnumerable derivitive
IEnumerable<foo> bar = new IEnumerable<foo>() { obj1, obj2, obj3, obj4, ...};

var accumulator = bar.TakeWhile(x => x.property == someValue);

but then I saw the .NET 2.0 timeframe.

But even with .NET 2 you had generics which makes things pretty easy. But then again, he/she is ranting so I should just ignore him/her.

It doesn't matter what language you are using, if you cant write something that is legible to solve the problem, think about it more.

4 points by DougBTX 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to tell him off for missing Enumerable.Aggregate, but then I noticed that he posted 6 months before that was included in the standard libraries, so I'm going to have to let him off.
2 points by arnoooooo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of PG's essay on Java, in which he wrote "Java's designers were consciously designing a product for people not as smart as them.".

Ben says that smart people should also work with these languages because non-smart people might have to work with the code. I think that is actually what happens a lot in the industry. Smart people who know Lisp, Ruby, Python, etc. still end up coding in Java because that's the language everybody else knows.

What I don't like about this is that it's basically saying that people can't become good at programming. It's accepting that the majority of professional developpers can't learn to use languages like Lisp correctly or to understand a Lisp program that uses powerful abstractions.

Maybe the ones who really can't are not in the right business ?

0 points by dan00 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the problem of Lisp is, that it's very powerful and very dynamic. As long you're working alone, that's not that much of an issue, but with more developers you need to add more security nets, without the aid of a powerful type system.

Most people love dynamic typing, because they hate the static typing of languages like C++ or Java. Powerful languages also need a powerful type system, that the developer can fully express his intentions, with the aid of a compiler validating them. Mainstream languages should start looking at type systems of languages like Haskell.

3 points by mkramlich 11 hours ago 1 reply      
link redirects me to a login wall
4 points by robinduckett 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Asked me to sign in to Google Groups. Closed tab.
-1 point by drivingmenuts 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a case where the author put his needs over the needs of the organization.
-3 points by ddkrone 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The same can be said for any statically typed language. Any language that binds types as late as possible is infinitely more enjoyable to work with than one that fixes types at compile time. Short of developing missile guidance systems I don't think static types are warranted for anything.
Chicken Scheme looks mighty fine unl.edu
47 points by gnosis 8 hours ago   4 comments top 2
8 points by reynolds 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I love Chicken Scheme. The community is awesome and tightly knit. They're always looking to help out new users. I was new to the community awhile back and got a ton of solid feedback on some work I was doing in Chicken. I published epoll bindings for Chicken after figuring out how things were done in their community.

Moritz from the Chicken community recently published a Mongrel2 egg as well (http://wiki.call-cc.org/eggref/4/mongrel2)

12 points by klutometis 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been using Chicken for five years to fulfill contracts for military, biotech and publishing clients.

While I set out at first to disprove the axiom that "Scheme is not commercially viable;" Chicken is now my preferred method of writing performant, robust and literate code.

Bother Me, I'm Thinking wsj.com
132 points by jamesbritt 16 hours ago   40 comments top 23
16 points by robertk 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The study results were interesting, but I find them hard to apply in a directed effort towards achievement. I just finished reading The Power of Full Engagement, and I find Loehr and Schwartz provide a more practical, workable model.

Their idea, strongly supported by thousands of case studies, is that to maximize success (whether in academics, tennis, the corporate world, etc.) one must practice deliberate spurts of stress followed by periods of strategic relaxation. It is easier to apply this in practice than the interesting but hardly practical content in the article. For example, for the past few hours, I've been working hard on understanding some algebraic geometry from Hartshorne, but now I'm daydreaming about neuroscience and salsa.

Thus, a perfect creative effort is a fusion of focused dedication interspersed with lackadaisical goofing around.

13 points by dstorrs 15 hours ago 2 replies      
My concern is that "better at generating new ideas" != ("better at generating good/relevant ideas" || "better at accomplishing things")

I tend to be more creative when I'm letting myself drift, but I need to focus in order to execute. As with most things, balance is the key.

10 points by csavage 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article.

The author, Jonah Lehrer, has an amazing book on behavior economics that I considering a must read for anyone trying to sell anything. It's been incredibly valuable to us at Wistia. It's called "How We Decide".

Jonah always finds incredibly interesting ways to pull apart behavior from a neurological perspective.


2 points by chegra 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Creativity requires trust. How many employers are willing to trust their employees to get stuff done without concern with the way they get stuff done? It requires you to trust the process which often doesn't have intermediary stages that you can show progress, answers just arise.
2 points by jaysonelliot 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Time spent thinking without distractions, or playing with a ball, sure.

Time spent with "leisure Internet browsing," though?
Not so much.

Brainwaves slow down when watching TV compared to just sitting staring at the grass. Lolling around Gawker and Reddit isn't so different from watching TV for a lot of people.

4 points by kulpreet 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. I can seriously relate to this article. I'm notorious among my friends for "zoning-out", going into deep thought, being easily distracted and giving a delayed response when they ask me something. I thought I might have a problem, but this really gives a new perspective.

I think that perhaps by spending so many hours in front of the computer, my mind is always in this "virtual world" state, where I think A LOT, but only to myselfâ€"and this carries over to to the "physical world." I easily distractedâ€"but can focus really hard on one thing at a time, so I don't have issues learning (if I'm paying attention to the class). Don't know if this is a good or a bad thing.

4 points by sriram_sun 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Doesn't this go against the concept of flow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)?
3 points by chrischen 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it mainly has to do with hyperactive thoughts. More random thoughts = more possibilities considered = more creative output = less time on any single thought (focus). Distractibility is just a side effect of this predilection to racing thoughts.
3 points by Duff 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This jives with my personal observations of my work.

I'm a very busy guy, but I easily spend 40% of my day not focusing on work. Probably another 20% is walking around talking to the people. To me, "focusing" on random stuff (ie. Hacker News, the newspaper, work-related or personal research) and completing tasks with minimal time is the best way to get things done -- the pressure helps me cut to the essence of whatever I need to do.

1 point by juiceandjuice 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I wrote a college paper about ADHD and higher education, largely motivated by my own struggles and aspirations for grad school. The actual research I did for it ended up being pretty interesting, but the actual paper wasn't really that great (IMO, I did get an A for it however)

Anyways, there's a huge lack of ADHD research in adults, and how it affects students in higher education, and virtually no research on how it affects people in the workplace.

There is some interesting research regarding creativity and ADHD. Some of it ends up trying to strengthen/disprove the dopamine hypothesis.

1 point by davidwparker 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting article. As mentioned above, I'm not sure that just generating ideas is the same as generating good ideas. And when it all boils down to getting things done (GTD), I really have to pay attention. If I'm in a creative mood, and I don't have time schedules looming over my shoulder, then sure, it's okay to let the mind wander.

I'll also mention that I've recently gotten into Pomodoro, and that has really helped me to pay attention. I never would have thought so, but I'm actually able to code and be a lot more efficient in my Internet usage using the technique.

0 points by makmanalp 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> For instance, researchers have found a surprising link between daydreaming and creativityâ€"people who daydream more are also better at generating new ideas.

Repeat after me: Correlation does not imply causation. Correlation does not imply causation. Correlation does not imply causation.

> The scientists measured the success of 60 undergraduates in various fields, from the visual arts to science. They asked the students if they'd ever won a prize at a juried art show or been honored at a science fair.

Art shows and science fairs, obviously the best / only indicators of success.

Man, either the article is terrible or it's shocking that this passes as "research".

1 point by keyle 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In a way it is similar to the old idea of "get out, get some air, go for a walk and clear your mind" and then problem solving comes out at its best.

It also connects to the old saying "La nuit porte conseil" - aka "the night brings council" - or "best to sleep on it".

1 point by microarchitect 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes, I've had trouble convincing other people that thing X is distracting me so much that I can't work. So perhaps one other interpretation of the results is that folks who are creative are more likely to be distracted by a certain distraction, perhaps because more creative work requires a higher degree of concentration.
2 points by zeynel1 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the title is misleading.

"Distract me, i am working" reflects the idea of the article better.

Distraction may not be irritating but bothering someone is always irritating and annoying and leads to stress. But creativity comes from relaxed state (daydreaming etc).

1 point by flipside 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This article encapsulated one of my strengths, the difficulty of focusing exclusively on any one thing. As an individual that has always been somewhat easily distracted, I've learned to take advantage of this by always staying on the lookout for new opportunities each time my attention shifts. My startup idea was born from piecing together many different insights into one new idea.

Reading this article made me really happy that... ooooh, shiny!

1 point by Stratego 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This article confuses personal distraction with external distraction. Yet another example of journalists interpreting research creatively.
1 point by ifesdjeen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
That sounds a lot like House MD :D
He seems to solve all of his diagnostical problems when thinking of a different / abstract thing, and approaching problem from a completely different angle. Nice idea, worth experimenting with
1 point by KeepTalking 9 hours ago 0 replies      
For those who are interested, this months scientific American - mind 's cover is about the relationship between day dreaming, creativity and its understanding from a neurological perspective. It is a very good read, unfortunately behind a pay wall online or free at your local Barnes and nobles ;)
1 point by duvander 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I couldn't finish it.
2 points by Hawramani 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it is the other way round; creative people are distractable?
-3 points by leandroico 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved this reading. Can I translate it to my native language (brazilian portuguese) and publish on my blog (referencing to the original post)?
-4 points by smartWomen 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Well at least the guy isn't masturbating at work. A coworker of mine did that in front of me one afternoon & the next day I was fired.
I produced a movie about what everyone did with their time in that office. http://BudgetJustified.com
I'm guessing it will come to no surprise that it was the federal government.
Are Writers Powerless to Make a Living in the Digital Age? publishingperspectives.com
5 points by ekpyrotic 1 hour ago   1 comment top
3 points by grovulent 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
Lanier is one of those bewailing the end of the artistic class... yet this is a class that thrived essentially on the scarcity of knowledge - making their produce have value. Now that this scarcity is being removed through innovation - they claim that their 'special' insight is going to be lost.

Meanwhile - the artists continue to shack up ever closer with 'big content' and their IP lawyers... a group toward which all their romantic cliches espoused the most profound hatred.

in depth counterpoint:


Node.js 0.4.1 released, fixes bugs google.com
37 points by moeffju 9 hours ago   11 comments top 4
3 points by ronnier 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Perfect timing to see this on HN. I was thinking about playing with either Hadoop or Node.js tonight (both for the first time), I guess this post made up my mind. It's installing now. This is exciting to work with, and a lot different for me being a long time C# developer moving to the Linux world.
1 point by jerome_etienne 1 hour ago 0 replies      
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jerome-etienne/neoip && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nodejs <- to install node.js 0.4.1 on ubuntu
1 point by alexbosworth 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They are going very fast, just changed out for a module that is a fork of a fork of a module made for .2 line that keeps getting obsoleted with every point release
2 points by ecto 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. I just finished compiling v0.4.0
Why did Borders Tank and B&N not? quora.com
102 points by ThomPete 16 hours ago   62 comments top 19
22 points by coffeemug 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the common answers to this question are a good illustration of people inventing logical reasons post factum for something they don't understand, much like described in the Black Swan.

My experience is exactly the opposite to what most people are saying. I know of plenty of Borders locations, and almost no Barnes & Noble location. Borders stores are always excellent - well stocked, pleasant atmosphere, etc. The checkout lines are always full, people browse for hours and buy a ton of stuff.

I suspect the problems have much more to do with the economics of running their operations which you can't see with a naked eye. Their customer experience is top notch - they just couldn't do it in a scalable way long term.

BTW, what exactly is Barnes & Noble's eBook strategy? How many people do you know that bought a Nook?

9 points by mjfern 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think Barnes & Noble is out of the woods yet. While the company has certainly fared better than Borders, the company is going to face a difficult road going forward.

First, the company is still heavily dependent on its brick and mortar retail operations, but the demand for physical media (including books) is declining rapidly. Second, the company's future depends on its ability to transform itself into a digital distributor of content. In digital distribution, B&N must contend with Amazon, Apple, Google, and others (e.g., Sony). These competitors have significant advantages in the areas of economies scale and scope and technology.

Borders bankruptcy will give B&N some reprieve, allowing the company to direct cash flow from its bricks & mortar operations to its developing digital strategy (e.g., BN.com, Nook). Nevertheless, I think B&N will face a rocky future. Investors seem to agree, with B&N trading at close to a 5-year low.

15 points by bradly 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I really think the impact of having a Starbucks in every Barnes and Noble is huge.
6 points by chrisaycock 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I asked this same question to a tech analyst at an investment bank I used to work for. He said the Internet was a big one, of course, but he also pointed to the music sales and said that Borders went heavy into that market at the height, whereas BN had largely stayed out of it. He said the music commitment was the big resource drain that put Borders at a huge disadvantage.
6 points by ahi 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Their Ann Arbor store has been a dump for months at a time as they reorganized and relocated books. Seems like a third of the store is just paper goods--cards and wrapping paper crap. 5 miles from HQ and they still couldn't figure it out.
5 points by russell 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Chairs. B&N has comfy chairs where I can peruse a pile of books. Borders doesnt. But Amazon won for us. We live 40 miles from either so my GF gets everything from Amazon or other Internet sites. Even though I work not far from both, free 2 day delivery has won me over for anything other than the occasional mass market paperback.
3 points by ja27 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Poor real estate location. This killed them in my area. They built two Borders near me, each so close to an existing Barnes and Noble that I swear you could stand at a spot across the street and see both competing stores. Meanwhile, new malls and complexes of big box stores were built with no booksellers in the area at all.

The broader selection than Barnes and Noble was one of the things I loved about Borders - in 1995.

But the K-Mart acquisition and subsequent management team deserves a lot of the credit for this disaster.

1 point by msluyter 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious if there is any model at all under which bookstores will survive. Presumably, used bookstores can hang on for a while. Perhaps the future is some sort of mix of new and used books, along with a coffee shop and diversified inventory (games, for instance).
6 points by Vivtek 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Fumbled early Internet strategy. Amazon and B&N both had affiliate programs - Borders wanted to keep control.
2 points by jonhendry 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Borders was my first big bookstore. The Chestnut Street store in Philadelphia near Rittenhouse Square, when I went to college. It was practically a religious experience. Growing up in Connecticut I only ever had the crappy mall stores like B Dalton and Waldenbooks, and a rare visit to the Yale Co-Op. Borders was multiple stories, a huge computer section with lots of academic books, it was awesome.

There I saw Douglas Adams read from 'Last Chance To See', and saw Ally Sheedy read from her crap poetry book, which I bought and had autographed.

The Rittenhouse Square store closed at some point and moved, I think to a location on Broad Street.

5 points by davidmurphy 14 hours ago 2 replies      
It's hard to quantify, but personally, I never found Borders stores that pleasant, whereas B&N was overall much more appealing to go to.
3 points by mcargian 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Well this is timely. For anyone near San Jose, the Borders at Santana Row has "store closing" signs out today. Most things 20 to 40% off.
1 point by xiongchiamiov 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Borders dying makes me a bit sad. These four years I've been in university, I've watched our B&N's tech book section shrink and convert to "iPads for Dummies" books, and the manga section go down to a quarter of the previous size. Our Borders does tremendously better on both these sections.

Amazon's cheaper, sure, but I only tend to buy things there when I'm looking for them, while physical stores get me to browse (and allow me to read samples!). Since I got a Nook for Christmas, though, I'm starting to use its samples to browse books from the comfort of my home, which is certainly leading to more money going to B&N.

10 points by thematt 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This question is probably premature to ask. B&N hasn't tanked...yet. Their future existence is far from guaranteed.
2 points by teyc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In the long run they are all dead. Look at the financial ratios http://finapps.forbes.com/finapps/jsp/finance/compinfo/Ratio...

EBIT -0.2%.

2 points by starpilot 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I wish they pivoted into being a small purveyor of eclectic, non-bestseller books, almost like a Trader Joe's of bookstores. But no one seeks little-known books like they do with music or even food.
1 point by brianbreslin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There was an interesting post when news hit of borders woes stating their real estate was valued at something like 5 figures per store. Can't remember where it was though
1 point by NY_USA_Hacker 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazing content:

It's 'business news' and a 'business case study' and for business better information than on Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, etc.

So, generalize and formulate the implications for the future of media?

1 point by jcurbo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Was Borders as widespread as B&N? I've lived in Arkansas, Ohio and DC and I've only seen a Borders in DC, while I've seen and shopped at a lot of B&Ns.
"It'll never work": a collection of failed predictions lhup.edu
199 points by egor83 22 hours ago   78 comments top 27
67 points by wisty 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Space travel is utter bilge.
- Dr. Richard van der Reit Wooley, Astronomer Royal, space advisor to the British government, 1956. (Sputnik orbited the earth the following year.)

IIRC, this is a misquote. The original was something like "All this talk of space travel is utter bilge. It would cost as much as a major war to put a man on the Moon." Which was more or less correct.

29 points by j_baker 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Clarke's first law:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; when he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

19 points by stcredzero 20 hours ago 1 reply      
One "rock to look under" is the misapplication of scientific theory or a common misunderstanding of basic principles.

(See: http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html)

One famous example is Professor Joseph Le Conte's mistaken engineering analysis demonstrating the impossibility of flight. (See below.)

Another common example is the use of the Halting Problem to rule out the entire notion of tools for detecting bugs in software. (Yes, I've had professors tell me this flat-out.) The Halting Problem doesn't rule out such programs, it only demonstrates that they can't be perfect. To date, there are lots of tools that do an imperfect but still valuable job, to the point where people can even charge for them.


A major area where basic principles are misunderstood is in security. It's a truism that no security is perfect. However, it doesn't follow that no one is able to do online banking without instantly being hacked and robbed. Yet many who find the previous idea ridiculous also think that all "DRM doesn't work." That's simply not true. While it's true that all DRM can eventually be broken, it's not true that all of it instantly evaporates on contact with the internet. Breaking DRM involves a certain cost. If enough people are "willing to pay" the cost, then it will be broken. This is almost always true for big-budget hollywood movies. It's certainly not true for all digital content.

---- Professor Joseph Le Conte's mistaken engineering analysis

Put these three indisputable facts together:

One: There is a low limit of weight, certainly not much beyond 50 pounds, beyond which it is impossible for an animal to fly. Nature has reached this limit, and with her utmost effort has failed to pass it.

Two: The animal machine is far more effective than any we can hope to make.; therefore the limit of the weight of a successful flying machine can not be more than fifty pounds.

Three: The weight of any machine constructed for flying, including fuel and engineer, cannot be less than three or four hundred pounds.
Is it not demonstrated that a true flying machine, self-raising, self-sustaining, self-propelling, is physically impossible?

â€" Joseph Le Conte, Professor of Natural History at the University of California, Popular Science Monthly, November 1888

11 points by api 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This just shows how difficult prediction is. For every one of these, there is an equally wrong wildly positive prediction.

A few of those are included, like von Neumann's "nuclear power will make energy free!" prediction.

The future will surprise. It will surprise us by what is possible, and by what isn't.

16 points by brownleej 19 hours ago 1 reply      
My favorite quote like this is from Ed Colligan, who was at the time the CEO of Palm. When asked in late 2006 about the prospect of Apple entering the mobile phone market: "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in."
7 points by kingkawn 18 hours ago 2 replies      
"In my own time there have been inventions of this sort, transparent windows, tubes for diffusing warmth equally through all parts of a building, short-hand which has been carried to such a pitch of perfection that a writer can keep pace with the most rapid speaker. But the inventing of such things is drudgery for the lowest slaves; philosophy lies deeper...
- Roman poet Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C.E.-65 C.E.)"

This quote is in a way a direct refutation of the work done by many here in programming, and this perspective has its merits and flaws. But I don't see exactly how its a prediction of anything.

2 points by neilk 17 hours ago 1 reply      
A common theme of failed predictions is the "X are interesting toys, but not suitable for Y" statement. Let's unpack that statement.

A toy is something which fascinates the mind in some way. An "interesting toy" suggests something that has a scope of operation within some small realm. I'll posit that Legos are an "interesting toy" whereas a toy car is "just a toy".

Substituted, this is now "X are things which have great possibilities within a smaller realm of operation, but are not suitable for Y".

The problem should now be obvious. The next question is to ask what it would take to scale the X's realm up. If it's economically feasible, it will happen.

The use of "toy" is the rhetorical trick here, because it implies the thing in question has permanently limited scope, and it might not be. (There's also the implied put-down, that those who find them worthwhile are childish.)

So what things today are "interesting toys" but not suitable for "real work"? Mobile devices? Social networks?

6 points by cj 18 hours ago 1 reply      
These three arguments against the use of gas street lights in 1878 demonstrate why change is so difficult, even today:

1) Theological: It is an intervention in God's order, which makes nights dark...

2) Medical: It will be easier for people to be in the streets at night, afflicting them with colds...

3) Philosophical-moral: Morality deteriorates through street lighting. Artificial lighting drives out fear of the dark, which keeps the weak from sinning...

2 points by dkarl 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles. The earth does not have limbs and muscles; therefore it does not move.

I wonder if this sounded as dumb back then as it does now? What about things that do not move under their own power, yet move nonetheless, such as waves and wind? What about flowers that close every night and open in every morning? What about the fact that they knew almost nothing about the earth deeper than the tiniest scratch on its surface -- perhaps there are muscles of a sort under there?

What about the "fact," as they would have seen it, that God can make anything move however he wants, and that he might have a special mechanism that makes planets and stars move but does not apply the same way to things on Earth? And did he really believe that the moon and stars have limbs and muscles?

I think this illustrates how people can get away with any possible idiocy as long as they are on the right side of an issue. This is why scientists care about the timing of publication: they look a lot more competent if they publish their results at a time when everyone will tend to believe they are correct, instead of at a time when everyone will pick their paper apart looking for flaws (or simply assume the flaws are there.)

3 points by tlb 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The most interesting predictions at least got right what would be the hard parts of the problem. Simon Newcombe's full article points to landing as the most difficult part of flying, which turned out to be the case. Landing technique depends on ground effect and stall, which wasn't well understood.

I'm still amazed that people spend so much time staring at plywood boxes.

5 points by kingofspain 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Computers in the future may...perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons.

That's hardly a howler is it?! I see nothing suggesting that 1.5 tons is the endpoint or that we'll be using heavy computers in The Year 2000.

Will those people suggesting we'd one day have a supercomputer in our pockets be laughed at when we have microscopic omniputers floating around our then-useless brains?

2 points by zeteo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Many of these are not even predictions, and most are badly sourced and out of context. E.g. the guy who foresaw no further progress for engines of war in 84 CE was definitely right for the next few hundred years.

But one quotation that I'm really taking issue with is the one about Sir Walter Scott dismissing public gas lighting. Far from that, Scott was actually a dedicated promoter of gas lighting in its early years, as evidenced by his tenure as the First Chairman of the Edinburgh Gas Street Lighting Company:


But when was a little bit of historical research an obstacle in the way of feeling good at the expense of people who lived hundreds of years ago?

3 points by davidmathers 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but the sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, not the earth.

Whenever I see that quote I picture Martin Luther as the "Get A BRAIN! MORANS" guy.

4 points by Devilboy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
- Lord Kelvin

I wonder how he explained birds?

6 points by sorbus 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The first quotation, from Lucius Annaeus Seneca, contains no prediction.
14 points by hyko 22 hours ago 5 replies      
"Mathematics is inadequate to describe the universe"

The jury is still out on that one.

2 points by jayzee 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Sometimes you are glad that they were wrong and sometimes you are sad that they were not right.

Automobiles will start to decline almost as soon as the last shot is fired in World War II. The name of Igor Sikorsky will be as well known as Henry Ford's, for his helicopter will all but replace the horseless carriage as the new means of popular transportation. Instead of a car in every garage, there will be a helicopter.... These 'copters' will be so safe and will cost so little to produce that small models will be made for teenage youngsters. These tiny 'copters, when school lets out, will fill the sky as the bicycles of our youth filled the prewar roads.

6 points by aseemk 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I've lurked Hacker News for a long time, but never posted or commented until now. This is one of the most inspirational things I've ever read. Thank you for posting.
2 points by 6ren 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions. Wilbur Wright

Isn't the below an over-optimistic failed prediction?

a few decades hence, energy may be freeâ€"just like the unmetered air.... John von Neumann

2 points by olalonde 21 hours ago 0 replies      
(self-promotion) I wrote a somewhat related post a few days ago (Twitter predictions in the early days): http://syskall.com/twttr-and-the-benefit-of-hindsight
2 points by bonch 14 hours ago 0 replies      
My favorite has always been the one by Wilbur Wright:

"I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions."

2 points by noinput 18 hours ago 1 reply      
If I threw together a quick Android/iPhone app that allowed for user contributed geek/hacker/internets quotes that we could all contribute to, would anyone care? There are a couple out there but I'd prefer one community based which had entires that didn't suck. Free of course.
1 point by beagle3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Prediction is hard.
Even more so if it is about the future.
1 point by maxer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
a friend who is MD/owner of a cloud storage service for corporate told me that his career teacher at school told him not to do computers as a subject as they would never take over.. this was in the early 90s
1 point by philsalesses 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"When an experienced scientist says something is impossible, they are almost always wrong. When an experienced scientist says something is possible, they are almost always right" - my memory, but almost certainly somebody else first
1 point by Tyrant505 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Great collection! And the Lock Haven url made me smile.
1 point by cwbrandsma 19 hours ago 0 replies      
My problem isn't in people wanting things that are impossible (at first glance), the problem is they want them done in so short an amount of time that they are impossible.
My Lisp Experiences and the Development of GNU Emacs gnu.org
45 points by octopus 12 hours ago   5 comments top 2
14 points by CoreDumpling 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The interpreter we wrote in that actually wasn't written for Emacs, it was written for TECO. It was our text editor, and was an extremely ugly programming language, as ugly as could possibly be.

For proof, see the source code here: http://pdp-10.trailing-edge.com/mit_emacs_170_teco_1220/inde...

It is certainly heavily annotated for good reason.

1 point by IvarTJ 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Once I stopped punishing Symbolics, I had to figure out what to do next. I had to make a free operating system, that was clear â€" the only way that people could work together and share was with a free operating system.

At first, I thought of making a Lisp-based system, but I realized that wouldn't be a good idea technically. To have something like the Lisp machine system, you needed special purpose microcode. That's what made it possible to run programs as fast as other computers would run their programs and still get the benefit of typechecking. Without that, you would be reduced to something like the Lisp compilers for other machines. The programs would be faster, but unstable. Now that's okay if you're running one program on a timesharing system â€" if one program crashes, that's not a disaster, that's something your program occasionally does. But that didn't make it good for writing the operating system in, so I rejected the idea of making a system like the Lisp machine.

Is this something that is still relevant to modern attempts at making a Lisp operating system?

The Program - Start-Up Chile â€" Entrepreneurs Welcome startupchile.org
63 points by nyellin 14 hours ago   19 comments top 4
23 points by yuvadam 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine wrote up a very nice review of his experience with Startup Chile [1]. If you're looking for an objective review from the eyes of a founder, check it out.

[1] - http://www.shaharnechmad.com/2011/02/19/building-your-dreams...

8 points by fierarul 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I am surprised how little focus is put on the legal and financial aspect of running a business there.

I see on one of the pages that the business income tax is 17% and individual income tax is progressive (up to 40%), VAT is 19%. Then you have some weird "general tax on payments abroad" that's 35%, "license fees" 30% and "advisory services" 30%, "interest on loans" 4%-35%.

In the double taxation paragraph, dividends are taxed at 15% so I guess these aren't one of those amounts where the 35% "general tax on payments abroad" applies. That is assuming they allow you to send dividends abroad.

I guess this isn't seen as important since a startup is mostly burning cash (ie. the $40.000 grant and some?) but it just seems odd to me to just move 1 year in Chile without understanding all these rules and more.

6 points by nickpinkston 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't do the StartupChile program, but I did study in Santiago and Valparaiso on a dual business / engineering trip.

I can vouch that Chile is certainly a great country to live in. Very warm people who always helped us out when we needed it, and if you get time to travel around it's incredible how diverse the culture and landscape is.

As far as the business / regulatory climate is very progressive - I believe Transparency International gives them higher marks than the US on government corruption. I never had any run-ins with bribery or other shady practices. All the cops I met there were super-chill too - like they were actually supposed to help people...

Great country - I hope this program does them well.

4 points by mdink 13 hours ago 3 replies      
So question - I have seen this before and it is very intriguing. But the worry-wart in me says.. "Hmm what's the catch??" Does the local govt own a large piece of your startup? Can you leave anytime and take your company with you? I have seen other offers such as from Dubai, but they turned into horror stories. Now granted we are talking about 2 VERY different cities... help a skeptic out.. :)
Ask HN: Is TDD/BDD hampering your startup's agility?
124 points by bdclimber14 11 hours ago   91 comments top 37
65 points by DanielBMarkham 10 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm an agile coach and startup junkie.

TDD/BDD doesn't fit the mold of startups. Here's why:

TDD/BDD assumes you know the problem and are coding to create a solution. In startups, however, you do not know the problem. Sure, you can imagine some kind of customer that might want some kind of code to do something or another. But that's all pipe dreams. You have no idea if method X is useful or not. Sure, you might know if method X meets the requirements of your imagination, or your architecture dreamed up in your imagination to deal with your imaginary customers with their imaginary problems, but you really don't know.

So it's a waste of time. Startups are all about providing value -- not flexibility, not bug-free code, not code you can hang on a wall and take pictures of. Value. If you want to be the guy who can make business solutions happen, the guy that customers can come to with any problem and you can make it all happen, you need to bone up on this stuff. But in the business world, you've already got the money, your job is to make the solution happen. In the startup world, you don't have the money yet. Big difference. Big, big difference.

Look at it this way: 19 out of 20 startups fail. That means that odds are that you will never see this code again. You'd be a fool to spend any more time on it than absolutely necessary. But the math works out completely differently in the commercial world, where most things you write stay around forever.

What I found over and over again with Agile is teams and individuals buying into the marketing/herd mentality of agile and forgetting about the adaptive/iterative nature. Everybody wants to either use a recipe book or just repeat their last project that they thought was really cool. "True" agile means ditching whatever isn't working. Pronto. There are no sacred cows. Everything is on the table.

41 points by petercooper 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Considering how many hours I've saved not having to "debug" after drinking the TDD koolaid, my answer is no.

The problem I notice, though, is many people will either TDD the "right/official" way or not at all and that's a false dichotomy. If a particular type of testing is slowing you down or causing you to be less productive, don't do it! But stick with the tests and processes that do allow you to be quick but without abandoning testing in favor of the old "code and pray" approach.

For example, on a recent project I built it almost entirely in the models only (using TDD) before even hitting controllers or views. It only took a few days to tack those on at the end and I didn't bother doing any testing of them beyond some cursory "make sure the site generally works" integration tests. (I see the value in controller and view tests but.. well.. they'd have slowed me down and the models were far more important.) In a contrast to that, I have a 5+ year old project I retroactively added lots of integration tests to. The models are untested but at least I know if a change screws the app up in a big way because so many different use cases are tried in the integration tests.

TLDR: With TDD, stick with the stuff that works and tone down the stuff that doesn't. Don't feel you have to do things the official/"cool" way - come up with your own processes.

10 points by ekidd 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I've used BDD in a startup, and it increased my development speed. Here's what I did:

- I wrote the specs before I wrote the code. Essentially, I used Cucumber to define how users interacted with the site, and I used RSpec+Shoulda to define how low-level APIs worked. This rarely took longer than testing by hand: I just wrote something like "When I click on 'Sign in', Then I should see 'You are signed in.'", and that was it.

- I kept a watchful eye on the size of the tests. If the test-to-code ratio ever drifted far from 1:1, I figured out why and fixed it. A 3:1 or 5:1 ratio is a sign that your BDD/TDD process has gone way off the rails, at least in my experience. Common causes are (a) not using Shoulda to test models, and (b) relying on controller specs when you should be using Cucumber (or Steak).

- I used Cucumber for specifying user interactions, and RSpec for testing models. I only wrote controller specs for weird edge-case behavior that was a pain to test with Cucumber. Edit: And I virtually never wrote view specs.

- Refactoring was easy, because I could tear into the code and trust the specs to report any breakage.

I agree, however, about the speed of Ruby test suites. I hate hate hate waiting for specs to run. I get some mileage out of autotest and Spork, but not enough for my tastes.

17 points by kgo 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I always say, somewhat some tongue-in-cheek, and somewhat intentionally provocatively, that if you can use stuff like TDD and pair programming, then you're probably working on a boring problem.

And I think there's some truth to that. On a macro-level, how would you even begin to write tests for a search engine or some stock market bot or other notoriously hard problem?


best_stock_for(:percent_return, 200).should_return("cisco")


These problems an inherently non-deterministic. How do you even begin to write a test for that?

On a micro-level, sure, maybe you're working on a single component. And TDD would help you come up with the interface. But if you don't even know if the answer is a genetic algo, or simulated annealing, or using mechanical turk, or whatever, there's really no point in even trying to freeze the interface. Which is what TDD really does as much or even more than it verifies the resulting code. It defines the interface ahead of time. It's a way to trick developers into writing specifications without using that nasty imprecise context-sensitive language know as english.

But then again, right now we're rewriting a pretty critical piece of code. We've thought a lot about how it works. We had a few meetings about the new approach. Wrote up a quick email with a basic API. And doing pairing and TDD from there, well that's actually working out pretty well. And I'm confident we're getting better code quicker because of the approach.

Ultimately it gets back to the statement that real developers ship. In some cases, BDD and pairing will help you ship higher quality software quicker. In other cases it won't, and it'll end up wasting money and time. And real developers will then use their tools accordingly, and not dogmatically.

1 point by iuguy 16 minutes ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for speed and reliability but I can speak for budget vs security and in all honesty, unless it's going to kill people otherwise, screw security in your first iteration and get it out.

    If you don't ship you don't have a startup.

If TDD/BDD is getting in the way of shipping, then ditch it. Like security, you can always absorb the debt and introduce it later. To put it another way, if you spend all this time doing it right, ship (eventually) and it never gains traction then what have you gained? On the other hand if you ship a buggy (and presumably fairly insecure) product but it does gain traction then you should pay down the debt because it's working.

15 points by mcantor 9 hours ago 2 replies      

    Refactoring breaks a lot of test cases (mostly with renaming variables).

This is a red flag to me. Your tests should not know or care what variable names are used by your code.

It sounds in general like you might not be doing TDD correctly. Your test cases shouldn't be slow to run, either. Are you actually hooking up with the database in your tests, or are you isolating them properly?

6 points by jlouis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've never bitten the Apple of TDD/BDD but:

* To me, you should balance the amount of testing on several things. Not all code is created equal - some are plain old quick tests which are meant to be thrown away. Other code is something you expect to be running for a long time.

* The most important balance is this: If you leap quickly over testing of a piece of code, it may or may not cost you more time in the longer run. In other words, not testing increases the risk variance of the code having a bug further down the road. You have to evaluate if that is going to be a problem or not. The problem may also occur because your code is too slow. With a good test-harness it will be easier to optimize and sometimes the tests can be used as a start for benchmarking.

* On the contrary, if you feel the grass is greener on the other side of the road, you may test too much and thus never move fast enough to getting something done. It will cost further down the road, but it hinges on the premise that you will not discard both the code and the idea and rewrite (so tests needs to rewritten anyway).

* Personally, I rarely use a TDD approach. I rather like property-based testing: I "fuzz" out errors. I've just written a protcol encoder and decoder and there is an obvious test: (eq orig (decode (encode orig))). So I automatically generate 1000 "origs" and test that the above property holds. To me, this is much more valuable than TDD/BDD - but I've never been a fan as I said.

* Sometimes the idea of BDD is to shape your process and thinking pattern. In that case, it hardly looks as if it a waste of time: Had you not BDD'ed, well then you may have been in the unlucky case where you implement a lot of code only to realize that you implement the wrong idea because the API has to be different and serve you differently.

17 points by joshcrews 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm doing BDD as the lead (of 2) Rails developers at our startup, and _its the reason_ we can go so fast.

Some differences we're doing from your situation:

We use Cucumber to cover the whole web app(but not flash or video processing), and only have some small rspec model specs on important methods involving billing.

Cucumber coverage is also very powerful per line of test code. We have 1000 lines of cucumber covering 5000 lines of code.

We aren't covering everything by tests. For example, I would have given up on the Facebook login test coverage, and just written some tests that mock a facebook-logged in user but not covered the actual login funtionality itself.

If we were not doing BDD, my time estimates for each ticket would have to double because the hair-pulling debugging time would skyrocket and kill productivity.

I would also hate working on a team that didn't have test-coverage because developer B might build something I don't understand or know about but I inadvertently break it and we find out 4 days later.

Another benefit: we can ruthlessly refactor and tear out code because the tests immediately identify if something broke.

There's also more payoff for your tests over time. The longer your project lasts, the more those tests pay dividends. Even they seem painful now, they are an investment towards maintainable code in the future.

My advice: keep going with TDD/BDD and consider Cucumber for everything but your most important business-logic methods.

11 points by staunch 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I rarely use TDD for prototyping or even the first version of a project. I tend to only write tests on my second pass through a chunk of code (generally when I'm refactoring it).

Works for me perfectly well, and I don't give a damn what the TDD True Believers think.

15 points by mkramlich 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I do MDD. Market-Driven Development. It's the latest craze! But secretly I think the cool kids have been doing it for hundreds of years, we just forget about it from time to time.
13 points by jenrawson 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't believe I came across this post. I have been fascinated by a podcast interview with Kent Beck, the creator of TDD. I've been listening to it for two days. The interviewer asks Kent Beck: Is there a time in a start up's life where TDD is inappropriate? Kent Beck responds: Yes. There is a time when you are trying to generate a lot of ideas. You need to think of a lot of ideas so that you can find a good one. In order to do that, you have to work fast- many of the things you build, just won't work out. (Or rather, you lose interest in them) During this phase of a project TDD can slow you down. Those are his words, not mine. Although… keep listening. Kent has quite a bit more to say on the topic.

Find it here (scroll down to the link for "Show #74").

Or, subscribe to the show here: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-startup-success-podcast/...
Look for episode 74.

4 points by newobj 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Depending on the team, you might be able to write code that's 90-99% correct with little test coverage. Depending on the problem space, code that's 90-99% correct might be good enough. In others, it might sink your company.

You might lose 1% of "customers" due to bugs, but you could also easily lose 1% of customers due to bad copy or UX. Is that tested as rigorously as the code? Could the time you spent writing tests/specs have been used to implement and analyze A/B tests?


8 points by mkramlich 11 hours ago 0 replies      
TDD/BDD isn't hampering my startup(s) agility because I'm not letting it. We don't do them. I only write real code I actually need to do something real. This is pretty useful when you're pre-revenue and your feature set or implementation choices may need to change drastically and/or be abandoned entirely. Less ballast the better.
2 points by MartinCron 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my slider, which is working really well at my startup.

1. Speed trumps reliability Also, manual testing of stable features is wasteful.

For things at the business logic layer, I have a suite of (many) unit tests that verifies that all of the domain objects do the right thing. They are small, fast, don't break when I refactor the code (automated refactoring tools FTW) and easy to work with.

I have another set of integration tests which talk to some external services (twitter, fb, etc.) these are slow and aren't as core to the business logic.

I have yet another set of tests that test the real database (I use simple test doubles in the unit test layer).

Whenever we update code in our source control system, a TeamCity server builds, runs the unit tests, integration tests, data tests, and then does a zero-downtime deployment to our production server. Immediately after that, we run a handful of tests against the server to make sure that the server isn't totally broken.

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it makes us able to deliver so much more quickly than any alternatives. Continuous deployment means that no time is wasted on manually pushing code to servers. Also, it means that the changes made are the smallest and safest changes possible.

And, most importantly, it means that you don't have to spend a lot of time manually testing existing stable features just to get a baseline of reliability.

Do I strive for 100% code coverage of all classes? No. There's a continuous cost-benefit analysis going on. If something is tricky or would create brittle tests, I don't have automated tests for it. If something is really core (e.g. proper enforcement of game rules) I sure as hell am going to write tests for it. Right now, I'm at 72% test coverage.

Trust your common sense here. It's not all-or-nothing. You can get meaningful speed-and-stability-improving-value out of having some tests without having to test every single line of code.

4 points by grandalf 10 hours ago 1 reply      
A few things I've noticed:

Developers should not be paid to write tests, only code. If the tests are worthwhile, then they'll get written anyway.

I've seen some developers who write lots and lots of pointless tests... hmm does Model.find(:all) return all the items in the test db? Ok one passing test, does :first return one? Ok, another passing test. I'm not exaggerating.

If your test codebase is full of stupid tests that are actually testing your framework, and if your test suite takes 5 minutes to run, maybe that's why your team has so much time to read HN.

Good, useful tests will test the most critical 10% of the codebase at most. The "money" paths that are critical to your core business. Things like credit card processing, account signups, password resets.

Many of the critical 10% of tests may very well be integration tests, not unit tests. There is no reason to write unit tests if the big problems would be caught by an integration test before a deploy.

If your testing ideology makes all this sound like hogwash, then you probably work in a cubicle where it does make sense to do test your codebase more broadly.

3 points by bryanlarsen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
One symptom of the BDD kool-aid is Cucumber. Cucumber is very useful if you've got a customer in the loop who doesn't speak Ruby. However, if everybody who is viewing/writing the tests speaks Ruby, then maintaining the Gherkin translations is a waste of time, and a "leaky abstraction". Webrat by itself presents a very clean, concise, readable syntax, so just use it by itself for integration tests, or use one of the other alternatives, like Steak.


4 points by akronim 10 hours ago 0 replies      

    I sometimes have a difficult time writing and passing tests...

That sounds like a design issue - if you don't design the code to be testable you'll probably find it hard to test. Even programming in the small e.g. at the method level, you should be thinking "how will I be able to test this"?

4 points by billmcneale 7 hours ago 0 replies      
When you're a startup, getting to market should trump everything else, and TDD gets in the way of that.

Don't listen to agilists who tell you that untested code is unprofessional.

First of all, hundreds of thousands of untested lines of code go to production every day and they work fine.

Second, agilists usually go by the false fallacy of "Either you're using TDD or you're not testing". Which is obviously false: you could also be writing tests last. Which works just fine.

2 points by famousactress 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I've done TDD to a variety of degrees on different code bases, with a variety of success. I think when you achieve the right rhythm and approach for your particular code base and team, TDD can make you go faster. If it's not helping you build quality software quicker than you could without it, don't do it.

A number of these points aren't familiar to me (trouble finding testing for deleted code? harder to modify tests for changing requirements than start from scratch? Renaming variables is hard?). These comments make me wonder if you've been treating your tests the way you treat your code.

When TDD has worked best for me it's because I've spent a lot of time thoughtfully putting some organization into my tests, making sure they're ridiculously fast to write, and ridiculously fast to run. Your source code becomes slave to your tests, that's the whole point. The fact that your tests are in your way, suggests that you're doing it wrong. If you were doing it correctly, and TDD was failing you.. I think the symptom would be your operational code getting in the way instead.

3 points by samratjp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It just depends on what you want to test for. I find balance in testing for the most important security features such as authentication and stuff that'll most likely change very little.

You can speed up RSpec so much by offloading it to Spork, a test server of sorts that loads your environment.

2 points by pwim 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds like the issue is with how you are writing you tests. For instance, you state "refactoring breaks a lot of test cases". As the normal TDD cycle is test-code-refactor, refactoring shouldn't break your tests. Without seeing your actual code, it is hard to give you advice, but it sounds like your test cases are too coupled with the internal workings of your code, rather than testing the interface.
2 points by balakk 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I have a question to the functional gurus out there:

Do you use unit testing in a functional programming context?

The reason I ask is that programming with a REPL fundamentally changes how you typically write programs - the bottom-up mentality. You don't even write a test-first, you test first! The tested program is then assembled into a unit. I feel there's much less incentive to write a test, if you use a statically typed language and use a REPL as it is meant to. Am I wrong in my thinking?

1 point by frobozz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with your point that "most of the code are hypotheses to be tested by the market". Most "pieces of software" might be, but I contend that most of the code in most software is under-the-hood stuff that objectively either works or doesn't. If it works, it has nothing to do with the market's opinion. On the other hand, if it doesn't work, then regardless of what a good fit the idea of your software might be, it will colour the market's opinion against you.

Using the market to test a hypothesis, and using them to test whether your code works are two different things. The former is a great idea, the latter, not so great. Mixing the two is a bad idea.

2 points by stcredzero 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Refactoring breaks a lot of test cases (mostly with renaming variables).

Please tell me about this. My experience is that refactoring tools can often apply the same refactoring to the tests as to the code. For OO projects, the only variables visible to a test should be temporary variables to hold test objects. Renaming those shouldn't be a hard refactoring.

2 points by bradleyjoyce 7 hours ago 0 replies      
in my experience, yes, TDD/BDD slows me down (partially because I'm not 100% on it yet) BUT it's sooooo much more painful to me to add it back to legacy code than start with it fresh in a new project. I have two relatively large existing projects where I would kill to have solid test coverage, but to implement it just feels so daunting I haven't taken it on yet.
4 points by azm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I have realized that all kool-aid is quite useless for most situations and thus have reduced my tests to two simple things:
- write unit tests for units that actually are complex and do need it
- focus on getting as much coverage as possible on functional and system tests
2 points by candl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I am programming mostly for myself only (so far) and thus I haven't done anything big but some of the points you made remind me how I feel about TDD (from a different, but in ways a similar perspective).

I rarely start with a concrete goal: to clarify I make a general overview what I want, but not the pathing I should take to achieve it. When I am coding I am often exploring, I want to try new things, and then after a while I settle with code that I am pleased with. But before that happens I can go through several iterations of changes. Writing tests before writing code is one thing, but adjusting the tests afterwards to accomodate the changes (which may be big) is a hurdle and slows down progress. In addition in a case such as mine where I am doing all the work alone and thus I know every corner of the code written so far gives little benefits.

I can imagine of course that TDD is a great tool when there's an assignment for a client with specific tasks to accomplish, but in other cases 'get something working first' is better I guess.

2 points by edderly 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Refactoring breaks a lot of test cases (mostly with renaming variables)."

this seems to be the easiest thing a refactoring tool would handle. Why wouldn't you re-factor your tests at the same time as your code?

1 point by vlucas 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Like anything else, there's a balance. Don't let yourself go all-out to ensure you have 100% test coverage of every line of code.

There is always a cost-benefit argument that should be replaying in your head over and over. If it's a critical part of your application, then make sure it has test coverage. If it's a simple part that's basically just doing CRUD operations with almost no custom code, it's probably not worth worrying about in the short term. Just make sure you cover the primary flex points and custom algorithms or libraries, and you'll be fine.

1 point by reid 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you have slow tests that are hard to write, you're already in trouble.

For example: my recent Node.js projects use Vows. More complicated test details are encouraged to become small functions that are reused over and over. (Vows calls these macros.) For testing HTTP servers, I wrote a set of macros, called Pact, that make my tests very concise.

For other big important pieces, I isolate myself from upstream changes by creating an interface into the dependency, then testing the interface instead.

Instead of changing lots of tests, you change a macro.

The result: very fast feedback from tests that are easy to add and change, especially when refactoring or when your plans evolve. (Using a new dependency, going sync to async, etc.)

I'd love to see these benefits in more places.



3 points by momoro 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Skip unit tests. Only do acceptance / functional tests. W/o any tests, your stuff will break constantly. W/ unit tests, you will waste years of time. Acceptance tests (e.g. cucumber) fill the gap.
2 points by gnubardt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If RSpec is too slow to wait on you could use autotest, which automatically runs tests when a file is saved. There's also a plugin for it that uses growl/libnotify to display the results.
2 points by grumpycanuck 10 hours ago 1 reply      
In the presentation shown at http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/2008/09/customer-develo... specifically the last slide where he talks about the Five Why's system) it seems to me that the guru of Lean Startups is a advocate of automated test suites, and therefore a believer in TDD.
1 point by sandeepshetty 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is Kent Beck's take on the four phases of startups where he talks about how these different phases require different development practices, principles, and technologies:
1 point by IvanAcostaRubio 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Knowledgeable people in TDD code faster and better using the technique. Practice takes you there.

In the mean time, test the parts of the application that do not change. How much can the payment flow, sign in or sign up change? Make sure you have test for those in order to catch regressions.

Know where you are. Are you building to last? Are you building to test an idea? balance.

Build better abstractions.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

2 points by silent1mezzo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I only start writing tests once my startups profitable and stable (if that ever happens). TDD is just not as important as getting a product out the door.
1 point by avih 3 hours ago 0 replies      
TDD can be useful when complemented by an isolation framework, such as Typemock Isolator. It'll save precious time & most importantly for a lean startup - scarce financial resources.
Are founders really 1000x more valuable than their employees? venturehacks.com
117 points by abreckle 19 hours ago   109 comments top 36
55 points by gamble 16 hours ago 6 replies      
People are over-moralizing this. Why do CEOs get paid so much? Why are salesmen often better paid than engineers? Does a ditch-digger deserve less money than a lawyer? The market is basically amoral. People get what they can get, not what they 'deserve'. Founders get more money because they have ownership, and in a capitalistic system profits accrue to capital. There's no point in constructing an elaborate moral architecture to justify how a social structure developed to maximize financial gain also somehow optimizes for socially-desirable outcomes.
70 points by jasonmcalacanis 18 hours ago replies      
This isn't about who is more valuable, this about who took the risk.

Employees take little or no risk in 99% of cases. You are not taking a risk making 75% of your max pay at Google/Facebook/Zynga/Twitter by going to a startup. You are taking a 25% haircut to be part of something new/small/etc.

However, starting something from scratch, incorporating and putting your reputation on the line is a major risk. If you are the creator you carry the lifetime risk/reward of your startup.

The founder(s) of Friendster, PointCast and Webvan will always be remembered a certain way. As will the founders of Twitter, Groupon, Yahoo and Google.

The employees that come after them do not carry this personal risk/reward issue. They can always say "I joined Freindster and it was a great learning experience."

The founder of Friendster will have to explain for all time why they were first and failed so horribly. How they missed the opportunity to be MySpace, LinkedIn or Facebook.

That's the real difference in my mind: personal reputation risk.

12 points by DevX101 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Value that can be extracted will be. As a founder, you have a large, if not the final say on compensation. Founders therefore pay themselves as much as they can while keeping the business healthy.

I think this is a greater factor in the relatively high compensation than "value added" or "risk taken".

32 points by jshen 18 hours ago 3 replies      
When I was a kid my mom would complain about how the world was out to get her. She didn't frame it that way, but that's essentially what she was saying. One time she was complaining about lawyers because she was charged $300/hr or something like that. I asked her, "why don't you become a lawyer?"

It made sense to me as a 12 year old and still does.

16 points by charlesju 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is just a free market equilibrium.

If employees were unwilling to work for anything less than 10% of the company than employees would have more stock.

If founders were able to get away with keeping 100% of the company, then they deserve to have it.

There is no fairness here. It's just the free market. If employees want founder economics, then start a company. It's that simple. Welcome to America.

9 points by Skroob 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not a "founder" in the startup sense, but I did start my own indie development and consulting shop, and I think the startup founders can relate to my experience. For example, 16, 18, even 20 hour days are common. Keeping the business going becomes the major focus in your life. You think about it all day and dream about it if you manage to get some sleep at night. You hope and you dream and scratch and claw and fight and work your butt off every single day with no end in sight. It's your idea, your vision, your baby.

For an employee, it's a job. They do the work, they get paid. They may care, and they may care a lot, but they'll never have the kind of commitment you have as a founder. Someone recently asked me if when I hire my first employee, if I'll be able to double my productivity. I wish it were true, but I would never ask an employee to work the kind of hours I do.

So are founders always worth 1000x more than the employees? Maybe not always, but I can sure see the argument being made.

35 points by njharman 18 hours ago 2 replies      
no, but the founders founded something. The emploees just got a job. btw A job that didnt exist before the founders did their thing.
5 points by kalvin 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the real issue isn't whether or not founders are "worth" 10x or 100x or 1000x the 10th employee (arguable, no real answer) but whether the extreme variance that exists in early startup employee equity is fair.

I once surveyed several friends who joined tech startups (at similar funding rounds, # of employees) out of school as very similar software engineers. They received between 0.05% and 0.3% of those startups. That's a 6x range.

That certainly wasn't a result of a transparent and perfectly fair market; equity compensation numbers are opaque to many startup employees, plus the comparative data just isn't widely available. (Ackwire is the best I've seen, and it's new and rudimentary.)

And it's not really in the startup's interest to make them more aware-- who wants their employees to have the thought "my boss will make 100x more than me when we exit" in their head? (Not everyone is as hyperrational or founder-aspirational as the HN crowd...)

3 points by fleitz 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The reason founders get more is because they are less willing to accept a bad deal, and more able to turn a bad deal into a good one. An employee who brings strategic assets to a company will make a lot of money, neither Eric Schmidt or Tim Cook are founders of their respective companies but they do VERY well for themselves.

The best explanation is found on Ribbon Farm in The Gervais Principle.


And yes, Founders are 1000x more valuable to the market than their employees. They may not be more valuable according to any other logic but the market is the person who cuts the cheques.

2 points by chegra 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I see the 1000x as a reflection of the risk they undertake.

Employees, for 100% probability of receiving a specific amount of money exchange their time and effort while founders for a 10% probability of receiving a unspecified amount of money exchange their time and effort.

Essentially, for a lower chance of success they make it possible to receive unlimited rewards or go broke(losing years of work and to be despised by all and suitably fit for ridicule and to be made into a parable.).

Life is indeed fair, hence you can't have your cake and eat it. You can't have security and unbounded success, something has to give.

Fortune favors the bold - Virgil

6 points by protomyth 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, if the choice is nothing versus something, then there is a lot of value in the person who took nothing and turned it into something. Employees wouldn't have made anything from the venture without the founders.
4 points by johngalt 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Deserve has got nothing to do with it"

Stop seeing compensation as a judgement of value and instead see it as a measure of scarcity. Most people prefer to be employees rather than founders, compensation reflects this.

3 points by vannevar 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A better question might be, is a startup founder who achieves a lucrative exit 1000x more valuable than a founder who fails? Because the reality is that most founders don't get 1000x the compensation of their employees; in fact, such cases are exceedingly rare.

There is a lot of risk in starting a company if you're not independently wealthy. But I would question whether a 1000x payoff that is as rare as a lottery win is a more effective incentive than say a 10x payoff that happens more often. Maybe it would be healthier to invest smaller amounts in more companies, rather than investing enormous amounts in just a few as part of what Mark Cuban correctly identifies as a glorified Ponzi scheme (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2231082).

1 point by stretchwithme 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In a way, their employees have already decided the matter. They looked at the founder risk/effort/reward and decided being an employee is a better deal.

Of course, founders also looked at it and decided being a founder is a better deal.

So, everybody's happy and all's right with the world.

5 points by mdink 17 hours ago 0 replies      
For me it has been - who picks up the hat when something painful needs to get done? (getting tax info together, sales cold calling, doing a complex data migration, etc.) It is usually the founder, in order to shield employees from potentially morale destroying work. For this (and other reasons mentioned here) their value is more then that of their employees..

Obviously this is not the case all the time.. just my experience...

1 point by tsotha 4 hours ago 0 replies      
>Are founders really 1000x more valuable than their employees?

Yes. There's a big gap between working somewhere with the option to bail whenever you want and having your own financial resources at risk.

3 points by sreitshamer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What does ownership have to do with relative value of people?

If you go create something (a business) from nothing, it's yours. If you agree to do work for a business in return for cash, that's your decision.

3 points by icandoitbetter 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else find the assumption that wage is somehow linearly proportional to 'value' completely ridiculous?
5 points by sahillavingia 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Of course it's fair: it was determined by the market, no?
1 point by bradgessler 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This article completely glosses over the class of bootstrapped startups where the founders leave their day jobs, invests their time and money in the startup, and then start hiring people.

That's a lot of risk, so yes, for that class of startups founders should have higher ownership in the company and thus are worth more if the company is worth something.

On top of that, these boot strapped startups often pay their employees more than themselves, so on the income front, employees are worth more.

This article really underscores the weirdness of incentives that can crop up at venture backed companies. It almost makes no sense.

3 points by petervandijck 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The real reason is simple: employees are (by definition) replacable, when they get hired, founders (by definition) not, when they found the company.
2 points by brudgers 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"Valuable" isn't the right word - because the article is being used for current compensation and equity comparisons but the justification is past events. In the present, it is quite possible that a founder could be detrimental to a company (negative value) while an employee could be nearly irreplaceable (I've even read rumors of such situations here on HN).

The question is one of compensation - which is a fool's game, e.g. are founders really 2000x more valuable than 3rd grade teachers?

3 points by itsnotvalid 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Because they get to keep that money and the 0.001 less people are also okay with the agreement.

Life isn't fair.

1 point by joe_the_user 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Why employees are priceless - that's why we can't pay them very much. Founder are less important, so figure we can compensate with money.

Groucho: If I paid you wages, you'd be wage-slave, you wouldn't want to be a wage-slave, would you?

Bellhop: I quit

1 point by hammock 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like the premise of this argument is busted. How much stock you own is not the measure of how valuable you are to the company. That's ridiculous. Is Micky Arison, owner of the Heat, more valuable to the team than Lebron James or Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh? How does this kind of garbage logic make it to the front page of Hacker News?
1 point by FernandoEscher 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A founder is just twice as valuable than a employee, and this just at the beginning. If you measure value by the actual profit a founder or an employee generates at a project, enterprise or whatever, you'll surely find that in long term is the employee that generates most of your earnings. That's a plain truth, if you have employees is because your business is growing and you can't deal with it just by yourself, so you need someone to work by your side at this point. Every earning from then now should be almost equally split on you and your employees. And I say almost, because your employees do owe you something, a place to work with less risk.

And that last part is the why I think a founder is 2x more valuable than employees. I love to see enterprises where they left a percentage of their actions to split that amount of earnings over their employees.

2 points by stretchwithme 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In business, as in biology, those who discover and exploit niches get the rewards.
1 point by rwaliany 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a huge risk in opportunity cost to join a startup.

Some founders such as serial entrepreneurs who have proven their value, I could see 100-1000x. However, first-time and inexperienced founders should not get more than 10x their employees given that they providing a lower expectation.

Also priced into it should be the difficulty for you to do it yourself. If the company truly does amplify your value by 1000x, then by all means it is a fantastic deal.

1 point by sbov 18 hours ago 2 replies      
It may not be normal, but the startup I was involved in never had to raise money. Were we all founders? Is anyone they continue to hire a founder?
1 point by palewery 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't know the value of employee X until after he has agreed to compensation and joined the company. If he joins and never completes a single task he is assigned, then yes the founders were 1000x more valuable. If he joints and is able to find 10x more customers than you had before than no he is not 1000x less valuable.
2 points by hyko 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The article only deals with equity, which isn't the only way to compensate people. In equity terms, the founders are worth whatever they choose because they created the company: 100% of the equity is theirs to give away on the terms they decide.
2 points by luca-giovanni 17 hours ago 0 replies      
When you build a skyscraper, tell me what is the most important floor? The foundations. The founder is the foundation of the company. Above this foundation is often build billions of dollars of value.
1 point by tzm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This question is more about positioning, less about risk per se. Founders are usually in a position of strength to negotiate higher valuations than subsequent employees. Likewise, future needs (funding rounds, key hires, etc) may also devalue their position of strength. Although unlikely, it is possible that founders have little risk.
1 point by known 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Economic mobility != Social mobility http://goo.gl/K8Pg
1 point by rokhayakebe 17 hours ago 0 replies      
10 points by MarkPNeyer 18 hours ago 0 replies      
How exactly does someone who takes on very little risk being rewarded with 100k translate into them getting 'fucked?'
Don't waste your time by cd-ing in the terminal huyng.com
413 points by siim 1 day ago   117 comments top 33
31 points by alanh 1 day ago 3 replies      
I like this workflow better:

1. Go to the directory in question

2. Type "save nm" where "nm" is any short name for the directory, like "blog" or "blg"

3. From now on, type "cd nm" whenever you want to go there.

No session restart required, even.

I copied the code that enables this workflow from http://dotfiles.org/~jacqui/.bashrc
(or was it https://gist.github.com/117528)

The idea is discussed here: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2002071600512379...

57 points by mtrn 1 day ago 5 replies      
Don't waste your time bookmarking directories, jump right to them ;) https://github.com/rupa/z

`z` tracks your most used directories. After a short learning phase, it will take you to the directory, based on its usage frequency and a hint you give it on the command line. Say I am often cd'ing into /var/www - then after a while I can just type `z ww`.

14 points by julian37 1 day ago 2 replies      
Yet another time saver: if you need to execute only a single command in another directory, use:

  (cd /path; command)

This will cd to /path, run command, but return you to your original working directory. This works because the parens create a sub-process, and the cd command only affects that sub-process.

11 points by cldwalker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is a home-rolled cd script interesting when there are many more mature, feature-rich cd-tools out there?

* http://www.skamphausen.de/cgi-bin/ska/CDargs

* http://micans.org/apparix/

* http://github.com/joelthelion/autojump

* http://github.com/rupa/z

* http://github.com/flavio/jump

Also, the title is misleading. I thought it was actually a commandline tool that removed the need to cd most of the time, like lightning: http://tagaholic.me/2010/04/08/lightning-speed-for-your-shel...

36 points by huyegn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey Guys,

This is my blog.

FWIW, I've actually switched away from using the script mentioned in the link posted by OP and have moved towards using an improved version below.


This new version has 3 commands:

    - "s" for save current directory as a bookmark
- "g" for jump to bookmark's directory
- "l" for list all bookmarks.

10 points by bretthopper 1 day ago 4 replies      
No mention of ZSH directory stacks yet? http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/workshops/zsh/dir_stack.html

Some helpful aliases to manage them:

alias 1='cd -1'

alias 2='cd -2'

alias 3='cd -3'

alias 4='cd -4'

alias 5='cd -5'

alias 6='cd -6'

alias 7='cd -7'

alias d='dirs -v'

alias h='history'

alias j='jobs'

Just one of the many reasons to use ZSH.

17 points by substack 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's also the pushd and popd commands which are part of bash already.

And there's a wikipedia entry for this even: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushd_and_popd

12 points by philikon 1 day ago 4 replies      
I first was excited by title "Don't waste your time by cd-ing in the terminal", but then it just turned out to be a blog post about making cd'ing quicker. If you want to boost your productivity, my advice is to stop cd'ing altogether.

I see a lot of people -- particularly vi users -- cd'ing back and forth through a large directory tree. I usually tell them to get a terminal emulator that lets you easily manage many terminals open. Open one per directory you want to operate in, for instance. Learn how to switch back and forth between the different shells.

But most importantly, don't quit the program to switch back and forth between directories and files. Learn to use your editor of choice properly: how to view directory listings, how to switch back and forth, etc. Vim can do this just fine btw. The choice of tool here doesn't matter so much. Just pick one and learn it. This applies to your choice of terminal emulator, shell, editor, etc.

5 points by aheilbut 1 day ago 6 replies      
I've also wondered to myself why there isn't a terminal program with a directory tree by the side so you could just click on the directory that you want to be in, instead of ls -cd-tab-blah-^H-tab-^M. It would also a have a list of favorite and most-recently-used directories.

A weekend project, perhaps...

4 points by telemachos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another built-in worth knowing about is CDPATH.[1] I find that setting a sane CDPATH and bash-completion makes cd-ing anywhere I go regularly pretty trivial - just a few letters and a few TABs and I'm good to go.

[1] http://caliban.org/bash/#bashtips

11 points by kevinburke 1 day ago 4 replies      
7 points by xd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe not as quick .. but `ctrl+r cd` gets me there quick enough and I don't have to remember what numeric shortcut is assigned to which directory.

Will give it a shot however, good effort.

6 points by gnubardt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another time saver is to have a function that calls ls after cd'ing:

  c(){ cd "$@" && ls;}

This has probably saved me days over the years, as I almost always want to list a directory after I change into.

4 points by nevinera 1 day ago 0 replies      

    alias ba='vim ~/.bash_aliases; source ~/.bash_aliases'

Just make aliases for all the directories you go to a lot. I have twenty-something different aliases that start with 'cd'.

A bookmarking system seems like overkill to solve this problem.

3 points by noibl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was just at the point of making a bunch of aliases for some long paths, to save my tab key from daily abuse. This is way more elegant. Thanks.
2 points by Groxx 1 day ago 0 replies      
A nice idea... I may end up using it, though a lot of my folders are the same name and I do like deterministic behavior.

In the meantime, this kicks the pants off separate Finder + Terminal action: http://decimus.net/DTerm/

5 points by coenhyde 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use this function in my bash profile to navigate to my projects from anywhere on the file system.

  function to {
cd ~/Sites/$1/

eg. cd ~/Sites/coenhyde.com

$ to coenhyde.com

1 point by oemera 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you for this awesome little script.
However I found out that bashmarks doesn't work with folders which have whitespaces in the name.

For example:

  cd /Users/username/Library/Application\ Support
s app_support

works great but if you do this it won't work:

  g app_support

I opened an issue on GitHub and after that I tried to fix it on my own. I never wrote a bash script and I'm really proud to have fixed this problem on my own.

Here are changes I made:

  # save current directory to bookmarks
touch ~/.sdirs
function s {
cat ~/.sdirs | grep -v "export DIR_$1=" > ~/.sdirs1
mv ~/.sdirs1 ~/.sdirs

escaped_path=${PWD/ /\\ }
echo "export DIR_$1=$escaped_path" >> ~/.sdirs

# jump to bookmark
function g {
source ~/.sdirs
path=$(eval $(echo echo $(echo \$DIR_$1)))

# replace whitespaces with "\ " for escaping
escaped_path=${path/ /\\ }
cd_eval="cd $escaped_path"

eval $cd_eval

Hope this helps you guys like it helped me.
And if there is a way to do this in an more elegant way, please let me know. This would help me to improve my none existing bash skills :D

Edit: I opened up a fork and commited all my changes to this repo. I also opened a pull request and I hope my fix will get accepted.

GitHub fork:



1 point by rlpb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use "m1=`pwd`" and then "cd $m1" for example. No setup required, although admittedly slightly more typing and the need to quote directories with spaces in them (rare for Unix sysadmin tasks for which I'm using a shell in the first place).
2 points by wanderr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe it's just because I run a lot of the same commands and don't do a lot of development from the terminal, but I avoid cding at all usually and just type the full path. It svaes time over multiple sessions thanks to ctrl+r, and the commands in my history work no matter what dir I'm in.
1 point by sayemm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting reading this because this is exactly why I love emacs, especially when I came across this tip a while ago: "Emacs: TRAMP + bookmarks = awesome", http://marc-abramowitz.com/archives/2006/03/12/emacs-tramp-b...

I'm always plugged in to my server with tramp and I've got multiple projects all bookmarked. It makes hopping around real easy, makes it feel like a browser more than an editor.

1 point by bluishgreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Back in 2009 I described another version of this here: http://www.commandlinefu.com/commands/view/117/fast-access-t...
1 point by bherms 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use textexpander to keep from cd'ing everywhere... Just stick in a text expander snippet for directories I use a lot...

hwst - cd /usr/Brad/Desktop/Dropbox/Brad/howas.it/repos/howasit_alpha/

1 point by Jach 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by sever 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I use the following scripts, both by Petar Marinov, they've saved me an enormous amount of keystrokes. One replaces CTRL-R history search, the other makes a much friendlier replacement for pushd and popd.



highly recommended.

1 point by netghost 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're a programmer, you may find Qwandry useful: github.com/adamsanderson/qwandry

Instead of trying to remember where all your libraries are located, it will just open them up for you. Great for trying to debug misbehaving code.

1 point by philc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Additionally, try typing fewer characters when you cd in the general case:

I've been using this for a few years and it's been a joy.

1 point by clu3 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have usually a few dirs that i go back and forth frequently when coding, and I simply set them to my env. I add the following line to ~/.bashrc
export lib='/path/to/my/lib'
And 'cd $lib' will take me there. Very simple, and caters for most of my cd needs. Don't over-complicate things
2 points by charlieroot 1 day ago 2 replies      
1. How about we just learning to type fast(-er) and use file name completion

2. Use real shell like ksh, where history search actually works

3. cd $OLDPWD is occasionally helpful. Occasionally.


2 points by adsr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I manage with a combination of pushd/popd, cd - and terminal tabs most of the time.
1 point by pentarim 1 day ago 0 replies      
I cant remember my bookmarks so CTRL + R, then searching in history most of a time
1 point by jesstaa 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not just use symlinks for your bookmarks?
pushd and popd are also useful.
-1 point by bretthellman 1 day ago 0 replies      
i wont
A practical use for space-filling curves gatech.edu
170 points by RiderOfGiraffes 1 day ago   29 comments top 10
11 points by samlittlewood 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Another good example is using Morton Order for things like texture maps in graphics - it is easy to derive a memory address by interleaving the bits of the x,y coords:



From distant memory - switching to a variant of this from simple row major order textures gave > 20% increase in a scene rendering benchmark (software pipe, full scene, no game logic). Prior to that I had been doing daft things like having textures stored in column or row major order depending on their 'usual' orientation.

13 points by psykotic 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are lots of practical uses. One that immediately comes to mind is cache-friendly layout of power-of-two textures, usually called texture swizzling. Another application is designing clock trees on VLSI chips to minimize clock skew; that's actually a space-filling tree rather than a curve, but it's closely related.
10 points by pascal_cuoq 1 day ago 1 reply      
"here is the tradeoff: Use our heuristic and you get a reasonable route immediately. Alternatively, configure a network of 110 processors, then spend two months computing the shortest route to save a month of driving."

Or, of course, use one of the thousands of other heuristics, most of which will likely provide as good an answer in as short a time as this heuristic. I mean, why provide comparisons to comparable heuristics? That would be like doing science.

3 points by jpadvo 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another example is organizing color libraries / color swatches:


4 points by rcthompson 19 hours ago 0 replies      
You can also compactly visualize an extremely long vector by mapping it onto a space-filling curve: http://www.ebi.ac.uk/huber-srv/hilbert/

I'm using this right now to visualize sequence coverage depth across the human genome (an integer vector of length 3 billion).

2 points by kang 19 hours ago 1 reply      
>that are about 25% longer than optimum

Is this a property or mere probability? What are the random point sets for TSP testing? Given n points in a plane , the number of Hamiltonian paths can be drawn is (n-1)!. One of these is minimum, and our optimum solution to TSP. If we distribute the frequencies of the lengths of these graphs, (is there a particular name for this graph?) we will find the probability of a particular length-range occurring. This graph, should be different for different complete graphs. So an improvement might simply be that the 'high ridges' on such graph of input of random sets given , lay towards the left sides of 'peak'.

>A useful property of a spacefilling curve is that it tends to visit all the points in a region once it has entered that region. Thus points that are close together in the plane will tend to be close together in appearance along the curve.

Or very far! Like points around averaged areas (like middle lines, etc) and spacefilling curves do generate averaged areas. Eg yellow points around blue middle lines here http://i.imgur.com/Dl7Vo.gif

NB: I do not mean to criticize. asking questions.

1 point by robinhouston 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Space-filling curves can also be used for spatial indexing. Nick Johnson wrote a nice introduction to the technique on his blog: http://blog.notdot.net/2009/11/Damn-Cool-Algorithms-Spatial-...
5 points by alextingle 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's genius. So simple and elegant.
2 points by bayareaguy 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Space filling curves are also good for building multi-dimensional indexes for databases.


1 point by saalweachter 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems similar to the pyramid model of Graham, Joshi, Pizlo (2000).

Modeling how (they think) human vision works, they made a heuristic based on clustering and top-down refinement. The map is clustered into a small handful of groups, and these groups are placed in a shortest tour. Each cluster is then clustered in turn into another handful of sub-groups, and these sub-groups are inserted into the tour at the position of their parent.

The pyramid algorithm is highly parallel with, IIRC, the same time characteristics as the space-filling curve algorithm.

What made the connection in my mind was that the simplest implementation of the pyramid algorithm is to cluster by simply dividing the map into quadrants; when you do so, you end up with the same space-filling curve they use at the top of the page.

Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software gnu.org
107 points by octopus 20 hours ago   109 comments top 15
49 points by hasenj 19 hours ago replies      
Or, why Free Software misses the point of Open Source :)

Open Source is about the developers. Free Software is about the end users (or, it's supposed to be).

In reality, Free Software ends up being useful only for programmers, hackers, technical people, and well, institutions which require programmers, hackers and technical people to run and grow their infrastructure (such as Universities and Governments).

Free Software (as an ideology) offers nothing to the typical end user of, say, the iPhone. It offers a lot to Apple (the iPhone makers).

26 points by aniket_ray 19 hours ago replies      
I'm not a big fan on GPL anymore.

When I create some software I prefer the user of my software to have all freedoms including the freedom to embed it in closed source software.

12 points by moron4hire 15 hours ago 0 replies      
All I know is that the proponents of Free Software are constantly trying to tell me what to think and tell me what my ideals should be, whereas just-plain-Open-Sourcers are happy enough to see that I'm using their software, regardless of what I do with it.
8 points by btilly 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Free software offers the end user benefits that the end user only rarely understands or appreciates.

Open source offers developers benefits that lots of developers understand and appreciate.

Therefore open source is a much better marketing tactic. (Which is exactly what it was designed to be.)

5 points by w1ntermute 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it bother anyone else that people circumvent the dupe-prevention code on HN by adding a CGI question mark to the end of the URL?

This link was submitted quite a while ago[0] without the question mark, and it clearly didn't gain a lot of traction, so in this case it was a good idea to resubmit it. However, it seems wrong that the dupe-prevention code isn't more sophisticated.

0: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2000239

5 points by tzs 13 hours ago 1 reply      
My problem with Free Software as opposed to Open Source is that Free Software people have a greater tendency to end up doing things like this:


(The whole thread, not just the specific post linked to).

3 points by krschultz 15 hours ago 1 reply      
With a BSD or Apache license you are giving your project away for anyone to use how they see fit.

With GPL you are giving your project away only to those willing to work with you on improving it.

The arguments back and forth are so tiresome when they don't recognize that sometimes one license makes a lot of sense and sometimes the other license makes a lot of sense. There will never be one license to rule them all.

2 points by cookiecaper 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Stallman's insistence on unlimited and unrestricted redistribution at a price not exceeding cost is the critical flaw with the free software movement. While I agree that this is good and should be encouraged where possible, if there were a license or some support for persons that allowed access to and modification of the code and redistribution of the code only to persons who were appropriately licensed by the copyright owner, then I think we'd have a much better ecosystem here.

Everyone would weld the hoods of their cars shut if leaving it open meant they had to give the car away for free. Since it doesn't, most people are free to access the internals of their vehicles and do whatever they like. The same principle should apply to software -- if we make it reasonably easy for people to leave the hood open but still make some money, there'd be more freedom to go around for everyone.

2 points by motters 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I tend to use GPL for fairly pragmatic reasons. If I've written some software - typically voluntarily and without payment - and put it out there for others to use then I would rather that the code remain in the public domain where improvements can be made which benefit everyone, including the original author.
2 points by gte910h 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Free software people continually miss the value of just letting people use their stuff to do whatever.

Letting people put back patches if they want to, but otherwise do what the hell they feel like is powerful, useful and practical for many more applications than the GPL et al licenses.

Some of us like sharing, but also like selling software and not giving away the source.

1 point by jaekwon 7 hours ago 1 reply      
When Stallman says "free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users' freedom", is he saying that I don't have the freedom to create closed source software for my own benefit? Is he saying that I'm not respecting the end user's freedom by distributing closed source services?

With all due respect Mr Stallman, given those conditions I may not want to code at all.

4 points by schallis 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, "Open Source" is easier to market than "Free Software". The real benefits of true free software evidence themselves in the end and that's what counts, not what you call it.

Edit: It is however important to distinguish between free software and thinly veiled proprietary software marketed as Open Source.

2 points by dools 14 hours ago 1 reply      
if the term free is ambiguous, why not just call it Freedom Software? I suppose may have the unfortunate side effect of being co-opted by patriotic zealots :
2 points by wingo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I read these comments and think that this article wasn't directed at HN readers; it was directed at free software people.
1 point by EGreg 18 hours ago 2 replies      
If they only called it Liberating Software, they wouldn't have had this happen. After all, open source software is also free (as in, costs nothing). But liberating software sounds like it confers freedom on the person -- actually liberating them.

Remember, branding is important.

Learn Computer Graphics with Processing processing.org
37 points by octopus 12 hours ago   10 comments top 7
4 points by sipefree 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I had to do a Processing group project course as part of my CS degree.

While it's a nice toolkit for doing very basic visualizations of data, it's a pain in the hole to do anything more advanced than that.

They made us use it to develop a GUI application with text input, buttons, tables, and graphs, in order to visualize some IMDB-style movie ratings data.

Unfortunately it's absolute crap for doing things like that. I basically ended up implementing GTK in it, with widgets rendering to buffers and having a hand-rolled DOM-style event system. I implemented scroll views on my own, and used them to create text input boxes and scrollbars. While I'm personally proud of making it actually work, it was a horrifying experience to do using the really basic tools provided.

The IDE that's included with Processing is also really awful. It can't do indentation correctly, doesn't work at all in tiling window managers, and seems to make people write horrible code. Walking around the labs trying to help people, I found that the vast majority of people's bugs were missing curly braces and things indented wrong simply because of the awfulness of the text editor.

If you want to do anything useful in it, you need to import core.jar into Eclipse (or do it on the command line) and do it in Java. It seems that the processing compiler is really just a small preprocessor over Java that wraps the whole thing in 'public class Main implements PApplet {' and '}' and replaces #FFFFFF with 0xFFFFFF.

I also used processing to make a tetris game (https://github.com/sipefree/setris), which was much easier than doing a GUI application, but I really didn't get any decent drawing performance on non state-of-the-art hardware.

TL;DR it's nice but a pain in the hole.

5 points by arctangent 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Processing is excellent and I have used it extensively. I have also used Nodebox, which is something similar but in Python: http://nodebox.net

Most recently however I have switched to using Field. I'm not a huge fan of Java syntax, so being able to write Processing apps in Python/Jython via Field is a big win for me.


There are lots of features I haven't even touched in Field yet...

3 points by mrcharles 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Processing is pretty cool, I messed around with it a while back. Problem is, once you start making complex enough sketches, you hit a point where it would be really useful to have a debugger, and last I checked processing didn't provide that.

I expect you could probably debug it with java tools somehow, but given that I only learned java via processing on a lark, I didn't explore that path.

3 points by mcritz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Processing is amazing. It's the only “open” substitute for Flash as a cross-platform dynamic graphics generation tool.

Learning Processing gave me the confidence to pursue C and Objective-C.

6 points by schwabacher 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I found processing powerful and really easy to pick up. It is also very easy to port from processing to javascript (processingjs.org)!
1 point by winxordie 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I highly encourage playing with Processing.js: http://processingjs.org/
It's art on a web browser!
1 point by irfn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
processing is indeed my choice for graphics.
I tend to use ruby & clojure processing libraries.
Nearly All US Universities Lose Money on Sports go.com
58 points by ojbyrne 9 hours ago   58 comments top 16
29 points by burgerbrain 8 hours ago replies      
I will never understand what quality education and sports have in common.

In fact, with the rate of brain-damage suffered by american football players, I suspect sports are actually a detriment to education, not even counting the resources they suck from it.

EDIT: Another case against college sports, and sports scholarships: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/drexel-basketball-r...

16 points by ajays 8 hours ago 2 replies      
One of the big reasons Universities compete in sports is to attract alumni donors. If you just look at it at a micro level, the direct expense on sports is probably more than the revenue from sports. But if you factor in alumni donations, then I've heard that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

I was in a Division II school, and they made a big push to get into Division I. And the main reason they gave was to get alumni involvement in the school.

5 points by A1kmm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So why are student clubs being giving an effectively unlimited budget out of proportion with the number of members?

At all the universities in my country, student clubs (whether they are about sport, non-sport competitive activities, interests and hobbies, or even 'drinking clubs') get paid by the student association (which has a finite budget to provide services to students) based on the number of students in the club. Student sports clubs are unlikely to be able to afford any full-time staff - but that isn't really necessary when there are plenty of club members willing to volunteer.

I have to wonder how any university could not have at least some limits on how much university money clubs could spend per member.

10 points by ojbyrne 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a weekly football column, most of which is about the topic in question, when you get to the words "Brett Favre" you can stop reading. Do follow the links, though, the USA Today one is especially damning.
9 points by Alex3917 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Nearly all US universities lose money on education too. The average Ivy league school spends 3x more per student than it charges for tuition.
6 points by dustingetz 5 hours ago 1 reply      
look guys, when nearly every single player in a mature market is doing the same thing, its a good bet that what they're doing is good for business. instead of screaming about it, maybe we should try to understand.
6 points by jrbran 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As much as I love TMQB, and I do agree about the excesses in administration levels at both college and pro ranks (I believe his post superbowl column dealt with the extravagance of pro front offices, in terms of the labor talks). There are obvious biases to his work :

Some coaches' salaries are covered by booster funds, not by the school itself: but booster funds funnel money that otherwise might have been donated to a school's academic programs

This is simply untrue for most major sports universities. Boosters by and large donate to the school for sports, primarily, and then to education, secondarily.
Phil Knight's largesses to the University of Oregon help both athletic and scholarly activities, but when the rumor that he gets to call one play a game [1] indicate the real reason for his contributions. Robert Burton's several million dollar donation to UCONN was primarily focused on its athletics [2] and his lack of approval in their hiring of Paul Pasqualoni resulted in his desire to have his $3million donation refunded.

Rich people aren't bragging to their friends about the SAT scores of their schools, but are bragging when their team beats your team.



2 points by skilesare 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There clearly seems to be an agenda with this post (and certainly in some of the comments). My question is, why would you make THIS your agenda?

Clearly there is a benefit to Universities having athletics. As other commenters have stated, this mostly shows itself in alumni donations, alumni engagement, and alumni pride.

Other reason probably have to do with the fact that when recruiting 18 year old kids to pursue a 4 year course of study it may be helpful to select individuals that have show the ability to focus on something to a level of success. It takes a lot of effort to be a collegiate level athlete in anything. My guess is that this generally and consistently translates to the ability to succeed in academics and life in general. When your 18 you may not have had a whole lot of chances to apply your self to anything. Just something gets you halfway there.

At least 6 US presidents have played athletics for a university.(random tidbit)

I didn't play. I received an academic scholarship for making an awesome grade on a standardized test that I paid a bunch of money to prep for. Yeah me. At the time I thought they gave it to me because I did awesome on the test. 15 years later I look back realize that it was the fact that I did the focused work to succeed that they were more interested in.

Beyond the actual contribution of athletics to the University ecosystem, why do we have to live in a world that is so small that we have to make a decision one way or another? Who peed in your cheerios? Who is hurt by college athletics? Certainly there are some issues around Football Concussions at the moment, but that is addressable outside of 'Lets get rid of sports because you don't have to study'.

2 points by sb 3 hours ago 2 replies      
That's just appalling. In Europe, AFAIK there is usually no such thing as college/university sports--competition-wise, that is (aside of the known the Oxford/Cambridge rowing competition.)

I just recently discovered the following site, which just makes me sad: http://www.sacbee.com/statepay/?name=papadimitriou

Why are UC-Berkeley and UCLA head coaches earning more than 8 times as much as Christos Papadimitriou? Granted his salary is stellar by comparison, but there are a couple of other well-known UC professors who earn much less. (Richard Karp [of Rabin-Karp fame and Turing-Award winner] gets 166k [14 times less than the UC-Berkeley head-coach].) In addition, the professors from the med-schools seem to do a lot better; even though they are quite out of proportion, at least they're saving lives.

Previously, I supposed these were profitable investments, but when one head coach salaries buys you 14 Dick Karps or 8 Christos Papadimitrious, I really think it doesn't make any sense at all...

3 points by aspir 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Oklahoma pays it's own way. In fact, it gives nearly $1 MM to the general scholarship fund annually.

Of course, the only citation I can offer is being a former student athlete, and having my support staff, coaches, and university executives repeat the statistic on the record like, well, a broken record. I haven't seen the line items though myself -- I wasn't on the student liaison committee.

1 point by fleitz 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's advertising. I bet most University research programmes don't make money either. But they do move undergrad degrees, and endowments. Harvard does not have a rowing team for the benefit of the Winkelvoss twins, it has a rowing team because that is the kind of thing that their parents and other alumni expect.
3 points by 30thElement 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Theses statistics come up several times a year, and they are always misleading. It's Hard to measure how much money a University makes on sports teams. I go to a school that has a BCS football program that makes more money then it spends (objectively, spent ~18 million last year and made ~23 million). I don't know about the athletic program at large. But beyond that $23M in revenue directly from the football program, there are some other revenue sources that are hard to measure.

Schools like UT make a whole lot of their money off of alumni donating directly to the program. When UT lost their head coach, on of the alumni flew in several potential candidates for the position on his private jet. How do you measure that in revenue?

Further, I would not have gone to the school I chose if it weren't for the football program. Season tickets, even in the nosebleeds, for a team that has won its conference more often then not in the past 5 years, has way more value to me then the ~$300 that I pay. That definitely reflected in my decision to go here, and I probably would have gone somewhere else otherwise. So we can claim at least ~$30k per year to my school for their athletic program.

Also, depending on what they include in the athletic program, it can be even more involved. Would you have gone to a school with no intramural programs? What about if they had no gym? Maybe a lot of people would have, but the majority would not.

1 point by Prisen 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
I see no numbers for individual sports. Athletic departments losing money does not mean that the football team is losing money.
1 point by enjo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What about merchandise sales? I doubt those directly show up on the athletic department balance sheets, but every time a Alabama hoodie is sold, that is almost entirely because of athletics. I strongly doubt that in reality most of these departments are operating in anything resembling the red.
1 point by jdminhbg 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My college quiz bowl team did not make my university any money, and I am not more educated because I participated in it.

Maybe there are better places to re-fight high school nerds v jocks battles than HN?

-1 point by gChinkin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course this would be on HN.
Jilted in the U.S., a Site Finds Love in India nytimes.com
49 points by credo 15 hours ago   17 comments top 6
4 points by muhfuhkuh 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this kind of quirky growth mirror's orkut's strange path as Brazil's largest social network (though, some people say it's popularity there is simply because it's easier to pronounce for Portuguese speakers than either Facebook or Myspace).
8 points by arn 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm impressed with how they committed to it. I guess they couldn't ignore it, but still, opening an office in India and spending considerable amount of time there when they weren't familiar with the culture at all.
6 points by intended 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if insights on dating habits in Delhi would transfer across India. The marketing rule that I read is that India is not one market (monolithic India) but many hundreds (state, district, culture, region, language, etc.) I'd love to know how effectively dating insights from one region transfer to the others.
2 points by a5seo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Sweet, a typo in the NYT: "who is charge of Web development."
1 point by known 7 hours ago 2 replies      
99.9999% marriages in India happen based on your caste http://www.communitymatrimony.com/
-2 points by smallegan 11 hours ago 3 replies      
"Next month, Ignighter will open an office in India and hire a dozen local employees. The company has stopped developing its American site, though it remains online." I'd hope these employees aren't developers. If so I'm pretty sure I know how this ends...back in NYC with a team tasked with fixing the mess it has become.
LibreOffice / The Document Foundation needs €50,000. Please donate. documentfoundation.org
90 points by Garbage 21 hours ago   27 comments top 9
18 points by 00joe 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Foundations have quite a good tradition in Germany, and the benefits in terms of taxes, limited liability and international credibility are high. With the German-based model, activities are not limited to one country: the foundation can and will be active worldwide.

In addition, the German model provides a high security and stability, as the foundation's statutes cannot be changed and, therefore, cannot be abused. Setting up a corporation or an association, on the other hand, would expose us to the risk that, if a majority of all stakeholders so decided, the statutes could be changed, even as far as removing charitable purposes. In order to provide safety and stability, not only for our users, adopters, developers and enterprises, but for the whole community, a German-based foundation is ideal.

In addition, we have many active community members in Germany: the roots of the product originally lie here, we expect a lot of support from corporations and governmental bodies, and the adoption rate for free office productivity software is very high.


10 points by mkr-hn 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems too early for them to be asking for this kind of money. They've only shipped one marginal improvement over OpenOffice. It doesn't make sense to me for them to toss down so much money formalizing such a new organization.

This also has some unpleasant implications. Imagine if a large portion of credible forks popped up on HN asking for money before they had a few versions shipped. It would be a mess.

4 points by forgottenpaswrd 11 hours ago 1 reply      
That is the reason Free software products have so much problems becoming competitive wit proprietary solutions.

People will pay without doubt $600 for a commercial product like Office but have a lot of problems to contribute with someone making software for him for free.

We don't value what is cheap, like a woman that plays "hard to get", we value most what is expensive. When people pirate Photoshop they fell the value of their software is at least $1000 because it cost that much, while the effort deployed in GIMP, Inkscape or Blender seems worthless.

Those software products feel "almost there" but needs a lot of work for being useful for a professional. These projects need real money for having people working on them full time, not as hobbies like fontforge with his horrible UI because the author does not care, just a hobby.

Note to LibreOffice guys: When people read EUR 50,000 they think "Those greedy bastards want so much money from my pocket". Geeks or normal people seems to ignore a lot about business, that it takes MILLIONS of dollars to make a successful software product like Firefox, Android, Blender, Wikipedia, Photoshop, FinalCut or AutoCAD. It took BILLIONS to made Office, Windows or Linux.

So ask for small contributions and put a bar progress like wikipedia(people love them) and write down the reasons people or companies paying you $20 is good business for them. That you are more than 25 people working for them because if you don't tell people don't know it.

If you were a company that asked $100 per seat, you will need just 500 seats to get this money, MILLIONS of companies in the world need an Office suite so don't be shy, ask for millions of dollars-euros like firefox did(And you will get it because there is a need for it).

2 points by joe_the_user 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Both Open Source Desktop and web startups give a lot out for free. Web startups have massively succeeded at times. It don't see why an Open Source Desktop startup couldn't succeed if it started out with the aim to disrupt rather than to copy.

What I would like to see is someone formulate a plan for a series of small and/or more modular tools that could be used instead for office purpose instead of a massive office suite.

Open source seems doom to lose in a race to create Microsoft-style monster applications. And this isn't to deny the usefulness of MS Office or Open Office.

But an approach that could play to the strengths of Open Source would be needed if you want to win.

Creating a good browser is possible if not easy because the browser is modestly well-defined application.

Inkscape is the best open source GUI app I know of. Indeed it's app that isn't bad. As far as I can tell, a factor that let's it be good is that it's objective and domain are really well defined.

It would be nice to see people focus Open Development modular tools with a standard, well-defined domain. Those are the apps that the most enjoyable to program too.

4 points by endtime 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If I thought there was any chance of them creating a decent competitor to Office, I'd consider donating. Can anyone persuade me this is the case?

The "free as in beer" argument doesn't work when you're asking for money, and while I think "free as in freedom" is nice, if I'm going to donate money there are other causes that come first for me.

6 points by mcantelon 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Sorry, I'd rather donate to developers rather than, indirectly, to lawyers.
3 points by ldng 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Why an expensive Foundation ? Non profit organisation isn't enough ? Do they the plan to be imitating the MozFo / MozCo or Wikipedia system ? They do look like to money laundry system at times to me. I'm not a huge fan from a FOSS point of view.
3 points by rebelde 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Geez. They should incorporate (or form a non-profit) somewhere where it is closer to $500 instead of €50,000. My Delaware Registered Agent does all the paperwork for $329, and I think it can be even cheaper if you register on your own.
1 point by ajarmoniuk 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask HN: Does anyone actually code at a hackathon?
112 points by iqster 13 hours ago   68 comments top 34
18 points by jorgeortiz85 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey isqster,

I'm Jorge and I work as a software engineer at Foursquare. I'm sorry to hear that you're frustrated at our hackathon. Certainly some people are chatting and socializing, but that's only natural when you put a lot of people in the same room. From what I can tell though, the vast majority of people are actually building something today.

Some people have brought projects that they started before today, but I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. The hackathon wasn't meant as a sprint to see who can churn out the most code in a day, but rather a gathering of developers who are excited about the Foursquare API and what can be built on it. We want people to share ideas about what they're building and what's possible to build on top of our API, and yes, also to encourage people to build new stuff. (That said, not everyone has brought prior work to the hackathon! I know at least one team that has built several apps on top of our API in the past, and they've started a genuinely new project from scratch for the hackathon.)

If you feel the main room is too noisy, there's lots of side rooms at General Assembly which are a little quieter. You'll see teams in the side rooms making generous use of the white boards to design their app and plan out the necessary work for building it.

Again, I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated. If you have any suggestions on how we can make future hackathons more conducive to coding, feel free to ping me in meatspace. (I'm sitting against the big white wall by the water cooler. My name tag says "Jorge".)

24 points by dons 12 hours ago 3 replies      
The Haskell ones tend to produce a lot of code: but we plan ahead on what to work on, and turn up with small teams.

More info on how we do planning: http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/Hackathon

7 points by pamelafox 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been to many hackathons both in the SF Bay area and in the Sydney area, and I find the Sydney ones to involve much more hacking.

I think many people in the tech scene in the SF bay area are there because they want to get in on that scene, because it's the hot/$$ thing todo, but they don't actually have tech skills - so when they come to tech events, they either find a way to not hack, or they find someone to hold their hand through hacking.

We don't have that problem in Sydney. Basically everyone who is in the tech scene is in it because they truly like tech and have the skills. (Or they will try damn hard to develop the skills themself.)

Generally, I find we have a higher quality of developers at free tech events in Sydney than in San Francisco for that reason. I was pretty happy when I moved from SF to Sydney and realized that I no longer needed to figure out how to filter the pseudo-techs from the Google tech events that I organized.

8 points by donohoe 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I share your frustration. I think many of the trendier companies have a tendency for it to end up being networking and also about being seen at so-and-so's hackathon. It's a 'scene' for many ppl who wanna be 'hackers' but really are not.

My biggest pet-peeve at hackathons are those who turn up with full working hacks they did prior. Nothing wrong with that but please have the courtesy to not enter them into the competition against the poor smuck (like me) who only had the last 12 hours to pull their hack together.

7 points by nyellin 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I recently attended a NightOwls meetup in Tel Aviv and had the same reaction. I still plan on attending events like this, because:

1. I can program at home any night.

2. Hackathons allow collaborating in person with other hackers. This is much more valuable to me than pure programming.

3. Hackathons are perfect places to find co-founders and developers, because they mix of programming and networking. I can demo apps and informally meet the people behind them all at once.

Edit: In all fairness, NightOwls isn't meant to be a hackathon. I used it as an example because it emphasizes working and getting things done.


4 points by rdl 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I have a hard time actually hacking at such events, but I've seen great development work happen in a slightly different context --

I think the ideal format is a pair of events, separated by a week or two. At the first, you present some cool new technology (a new sensor, embedded platform, api, etc.). You show some examples of how it works. People get together and discuss, form teams, etc. Then, during the next week or couple of weeks, they get together in person at other locations, or collaborate online, to develop stuff. Then, there's another big public meeting, where successful projects can be demonstrated. Best of both worlds. Maybe at the second session people can beta test, give feedback, etc.

(I'm actually at SuperHappyDevHouse 42 in San Jose right now; learning more about Intel TXT in a corner with my laptop, while other people play board games and socialize...)

3 points by jrockway 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely. Eventually you sink into the code and forget about the chatter and your shitty laptop keyboard and you can get a lot done. A few hours later, you can come out of it, get some beers, and go back to sitting at your desk for 12 hours a day.

Some software I've written at hackathons:



4 points by zdw 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, they can be successful, if people are focused.

For example, see this account of a recent OpenBSD hackathon: http://undeadly.org/cgi?action=article&sid=2010111509113...

6 points by thehodge 13 hours ago 2 replies      
as someone who regularly competes in hack days and has won a few, there is nothing more annoying than having someone come in for a few hours, add a new feature to an already developed product then enter the whole thing in as a hack, a lot of the time the Judges don't know and it just promotes the tactic to other people...
6 points by frankdenbow 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I was wondering why they were being selective on the people who could come to this. I really wanted to come and learn more about their API but it seems as though they were picking people who already built on it. Isn't the point of these events to get new people into the ecosystem?

To answer the question, yes people really do code and come up with solid apps at these events. Check out the music hackday apps that were built last weekend at the same space: http://wiki.musichackday.org/index.php?title=NYC_2011_Hacks

4 points by JBerlinsky 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Were you at the NYTimes Open Hackday? My teammate and I flew in from Michigan (to be fair, I'm originally from the Tri-State area) to participate, and we damn well weren't just there for networking. That having been said, the networking is incredible. I participated in a Yahoo! Hack U event up here in the great white north, and landed a job this summer out of it (and an offer from Yahoo, which I wound up turning down); the offers that a little bit of networking at the NYTimes one turned up were incredible as well.

Honestly, it's all about balance. My teammate and I spent 99% of the time at these two events coding. We walked in with absolutely no code pre-written, and emerged from both events with a fully-functional application, the synthesis of which we plan to put into full production in the near future. However, the one or two hours of networking that we engaged in, be it during "hacking time" or not, were extremely valuable (and, arguably, helped shape part of our final applications).

Just my two cents.

3 points by usaar333 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always found my productivity (especially in regards to debugging) dropping massively when I'm stuck with just a small laptop screen. So with coding efficiency dropping so much, it only makes more sense to seize the moment and do what you can't at your home/office: bounce ideas around with others.
2 points by danw 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't say I've had this problem at any of the UK hackdays I frequently attend, only the US ones I've been to.

I think one of the differences is having an overnight. The networkers and loiterers bugger off after a few hours leaving just the developers and designers overnight who want to actually make interesting things.

3 points by matthewsimon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I was at the same FourSquare hackathon today, and you're right -- there was a lot of socializing going on, and there were people who seemed to be trying to figure out how to present their previously-existing project or startup.

On the other hand, the New York hacker scene is anemic enough that we can use any chance to socialize and network that we get -- and there were people there actually coding things from scratch today, myself included.

I had to leave before the presentations, and haven't see most of the apps people have been working on, so I can't comment on the "overly polished" aspect of this... But in an ideal world, I would hope that people would be able to enjoy whichever aspects of the event were relevant to them, and not get sidetracked by the people who were on a different track.

1 point by jlees 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been to several multi day and one-day hackathons, mostly in the Bay Area. I've shipped code at every single one, but I definitely share your frustrations at those who turn up and demo stuff they built elsewhere. I also have had trouble actually socialising at some hackathons, because everyone was so focused on their own project they didn't want to talk for 5 minutes about their problems (related to the app I was building to solve them). Oh well!

I think clearer rules around "look, guys, congratulations for doing a startup, but this is not the place to pitch your year-old app" would immensely help.

2 points by stretchwithme 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe competitive events get more people coding?

I went to the first SF startup weekend where 40 people tried to implement a single idea. A democratically selected idea which was the first choice of very few people.

They have since switched to competing self-selected teams and much better ideas and implementations resulted.

See? Distributed decision making works better for many things.

Anyway, my point, besides the blatantly political one, is attend events where the structure and rules are conducive to what you want to do. And if the rules aren't published in advance, call and find out. And don't be afraid to leave if you think you're time will be wasted.

3 points by mkramlich 12 hours ago 0 replies      
solution: start your own event. call it Actual Hackathon (TM)
2 points by christefano 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The code sprints and hackathons we have in the Drupal community in Los Angeles are highly focused on a specific task or event with an actual deadline, so everyone is expected to participate. There's always something for non-developers to do, from user testing and content editing to being in charge of food or music.
2 points by smallegan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you'll find that many gatherings are like this. Tech Conferences in particular seem to fall into this category where half of the people are there to network and the other half are there for the meat and potatoes content of the conference.
1 point by yesimahuman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The last one I was at my team built an interesting HTML 5 game with impactjs in under 24 hours (we sponsored the hackathon). There were a lot of cool projects built in the same time period. However, the biggest problem was non-workers who just wanted to chat with people who were actually working. It was very distracting and I bet many of the projects would have gotten further without the distractions.
1 point by andrewvc 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This complaint is kind of like complaining about people going to dance clubs to socialize and hook up rather than dance.

OP, I'd suggest you accept the current state of affairs, or start your own event focused on what you want to do. Why rain on other people's parade?

1 point by EGreg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I did. The only hackathon I ever did was a TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon last year. I stayed up all night, and made a real-time, semantic question-and-answer site where you could invite your friends via instant message.

It didn't win. Some robot that stabbed imaginary people in the air won.

It looked like most people there used existing software and just added something onto it. If I knew that, I would have come and added something to YouMixer.com ... I think I would have won :)

Update: I just went there and it looks like it somehow took off in spain!

1 point by d3x 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have done several hackathon's and I have always coded the entire project there. I usually do all of the planning and organization ahead of time but I always complete the code during the event. Thats part of the fun of it IMO.
1 point by wiseleo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I compete fairly by writing 100% of code at the event, but I also have a product that I wrote and implemented as an API. It is a powerful API similar in scope to what Tungle likely has (I don't have access to a competitor's API).

When I demo my hack, I de-emphasize the use of my API. In effect, I grab a couple of sponsor APIs, mix them with my own API, and create a product.

I talk with teams for a while and help them when I can. In the end I take 24 hours to simply code.

2 points by MatthewHolt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
We've now run 5 Health 2.0 Developer Challenge Code-a-thons (we have some Federal gov cooperation and they wont let us call then hackathons!). Sure at each one there is chatting and networking but at each one somewhere north of 100 people produce anywhere between 8-12 teams each of whom show what can be built in a short day (9-5). While they're not always fully completed apps, most are, and most have been terrific.

And while it's OK to bring in something that's been worked on before, most of the teams at the code-a-thons meet at the day and integrate medical professionals with coders.

So anyone who wants to come code at an event where what you build might really make a difference (not that we dont love Zunga & FourSquare, but....) check out www.health2challenge.org

1 point by code_duck 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've observed this sort of thing in a few coding contests recently - coding contests that were poorly designed. It is quite unfair to people who want to follow the intended spirit, you're right.
2 points by parad0x 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I notice this happening a lot in our area as well. When we host hackathons we try to have a topic to focus on as well as project ideas and open source projects ready to work on.

I think opening a public git hub repo with what you want to work on then having people pull that down can start some great coding sessions.

3 points by kevinburke 12 hours ago 1 reply      
They should probably just rename them something else.
1 point by txt 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, I actually took a train from long island to the city this morning expecting to take a tour of 'general assembly', (where this hackathon was hosted)..But I didnt get past the elevator because of the hackathon! I wish I had known because I would have love to have been there coding with u iqster! Anyway, I plan on becoming a communal member there next month after they review the thousands of applications they have recieved.. iqster, did you get a chance to talk to any of the founders of general assembly there or anyone that is a member?? I talked to Matt Brimer for 5 mins next to the elevator, he couldn't sit down and talk with me because of the hackathon! I was planning on taking a tour and joining today but BLEHH! Do you have aim or skype iqster?
1 point by hydrazine 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was at a Zynga Hackathon at Berkeley a year ago. I suppose it's true a good amount of networking goes on, but that didn't bother me too much. I was really there just to hack something together overnight, and my team actually moved to a separate location so we wouldn't be disturbed. So overall it was a pretty good experience despite what other teams were doing. Hope you also feel this way in the future!
1 point by andrewfurman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if a hackathon has been held where there were active measures/rules/restrictions in place to ensure that all development was done within the period of the hackathon?
1 point by shava 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I just got out of the Tor hack day in Cambridge MA (which I hear may become a monthly event, yay!). We divided into two rooms: soft ware (code) and soft skills (documentation, policy, how to run a server on your PC, fundraising,...)

I thought this worked pretty well, although I can't say either room was lacking conversation! But in our case this is also about community building for an open source project - slightly different agenda.

1 point by silent1mezzo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been to several hackathons in Ontario and there's always tonnes of coding getting done. We had 19 apps one time.
1 point by chewbranca 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, I just got home from a code for america datacamp hackathon at socrata in seattle, was a lot of fun and quite productive.
Wittgenstein for programmers hxa.name
34 points by bkudria 14 hours ago   5 comments top 3
9 points by siglesias 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's funny because aside from denouncing the Tractatus as containing fundamental errors, Wittgenstein in following up with Philosophical Investigations seems to capture language (and, in the extended sense, programming languages) more accurately as a tool. Rather than being a vehicle for making true-false propositions about reality (like a picture), different facets of language are useful in different ways, just like we have a hammer, nails, glue, measuring stick. Just like the world of programs.

Thus the Tractatus framework is somewhat forced and a bit misleading, both in terms of Wittgenstein's own thinking and goodness of fit of the metaphor.

5 points by defen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems to set up some interesting parallels to the Tractatus, but I don't think it does so in a way that improves our understanding of software engineering. I'm tempted to put it in the "not even wrong" category, but I'm worried that may be too harsh, and I may need to go back and think on it some more.

Incidentally, computer-types may be interested to know that Alan Turing sat in on some of Wittgenstein's lectures on the foundations of mathematics, and they didn't quite see eye-to-eye.


Edit: excerpt here: http://www.turing.org.uk/philosophy/ex4.html

6 points by cyrus_ 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The idea of "programs as propositions" espoused here is in apparent conflict with the more widely known Curry-Howard correspondence [1], which states that programs can be interpretted as proofs and _types_ are propositions.

[1] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Curry-Howard_...

Building Your Dreams In Chile shaharnechmad.com
23 points by chaosmachine 11 hours ago   5 comments top 3
2 points by guynamedloren 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The last two points are contradicting. One says that there is a lack of developers (especially compared to the Bay area) and the next says there is an abundance of developer talent, and that it would be much easier to find developers in Chile than in the US.

So which is it?

1 point by guynamedloren 5 hours ago 0 replies      
.. and what would that be?
1 point by andreash 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone with experience with the application process?
A rare look into North Korea's famed Propaganda School aljazeera.net
129 points by davidchua 1 day ago   57 comments top 8
62 points by espeed 1 day ago replies      
Be careful not to assume from this video that propaganda primarily only happens in far-off dictatorships like North Korea. Propaganda is more useful in a democratic society because as Chomsky says, "If you don't behave in a dictatorship, they'll just bludgeon you over the head." To control the population in democratic societies, governments and lobbyists use propaganda to control the masses through an "artificially created public sentiment" (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F07E5D8143FE...).

Modern propaganda originated during World War I under Woodrow Wilson. Americans were isolationists and didn't want any part of the war; however, the US government wanted to enter the war so it created the Creel Commission (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_on_Public_Information) to influence public opinion towards entering the war.

The Creel Commission was so effective that it was able to turn Americans from isolationists into German-hating warmongers in only 6 months. The Creel Commission operated for 2 years, and it is where the modern PR industry emerged from.

But this was almost 100 years ago, and the government, lobbyists, and PR agencies have been perfecting it ever since. We are the propaganda experts, not North Korea.

A few weeks ago, I formed an open-source project called "The Propaganda Project" (http://www.propagandaproject.org/) to build a Web service that will enable people to identify and catalog instances of propaganda techniques (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_techniques) used in mass media to effectively pull back the curtain so that it loses its persuasive effect.

For example, let's take the three 60-minute cable news programs competing at 5 PM -- Glenn Beck (Fox News), Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (CNN), and Hardball with Chris Matthews Hardball (MSNBC).

The Web service will make it easy for people to identify and catalog instances of propaganda techniques used during each episode. Someone might see and tag in online video that Glenn Beck used a "glittering generality" at 1 min and 12 seconds into the show and an "appeal to fear" at 1 min 33 seconds. Someone else might see that Chris Matthews used a "red herring" at 1 min 20 seconds and Wolf Blitzer used a "quote out of context" at 1 min 40 seconds.

My premise is that there is a finite number of shows and an abundance of politically-passionate people that love pointing out the other-side's propaganda. Over the course of an hour-long program, people might be able to identify 30 or more instances of propaganda techniques used in each program.

If the service becomes popular, and people use it to check to see if their favorite shows are using propaganda or if the other-side is, the networks won't want to be known as the networks with the most propagandist shows so they will force the shows' producers to reduce the ratio of propaganda per episode.

This is a brand new project that's just getting off the ground so please give me your feedback, and let me know if you want to help.

17 points by kulpreet 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Why are all these North Korea articles/videos always so interesting to us? Every time one of them is posted I find myself glued to the computer screen and then looking up more information on Wikipedia for hours. I must have seen like 10 documentaries on it by now, but it's interesting every time.
4 points by zephjc 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It's almost funny, I guess in a sad way, to watch this and realize that every person you see in the film is planted (including those in the backgrounds), the young actors carefully picked, every shot is framed to make NK not seem like the giant hole it actually is. It's no more real than a hollywood production.
1 point by radicaldreamer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This video's available in 720p on Al Jazeera's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmzPsJfkWjA
3 points by Entlin 1 day ago 3 replies      
24 million people, all brainwashed. There will be a long time before this country sees a popular uprising like Tunisia and Egypt have.
2 points by johnl87 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This video kind of makes you wonder if people are really saying these things cause they mean it or if they are just being watched and have to act a certain way to reap the benefits of being a firm party supporter. Benefits like living in Pyongyang and actually having food and shelter. I feel that it's probably the latter in like 99% of cases.

My father in communist Poland wasn't able to do the research he wanted at his university at Poland cause he wasn't in the party. He cursed out his professor and called him a communist and got kicked out and had to transfer schools. Calling someone out as a communist was a slur against them because those reaping in party benefits were seen as betraying their own country.

I feel like it's a similar case in NKorea. You have to act that way cause your neighbors will tell the authorities about any signs of disloyalty and the family will disappear (into a re-education camp.) I think that's why these people on the videos when they are interviewed really chose their words carefully and make anything they say an attempt to glorify the dear leader. Their eyes give them away though. I feel like everyone is aware of it -- the conditions in their country vs the west, but they live in fear of expressing their own opinions so they just shut up and go about their lives.

2 points by lallysingh 19 hours ago 1 reply      
On a fairly unrelated note, I really wish Al Jazeera was watchable in the states as a proper news channel. I'd prefer to watch it than streaming web video -- I might actually watch TV news again! But I think it'd bring some well-needed balance to what else we see on the news (even including BBC).
1 point by icegreentea 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The segment during the dance class was... weird. With the exception of the mention of the great leader, it's almost completely identical to something you'll see over here. Right down to "I need to go on a diet".
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