hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    20 Mar 2011 News
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Show HN: We made a web-based cash register facecash.com
24 points by thinkcomp 1 hour ago   11 comments top 4
7 points by ccarpenterg 44 minutes ago 1 reply      
Very interesting. Do you have a demo?
2 points by bkaid 26 minutes ago 2 replies      
If this grows in popularity I imagine they would have to change the name due to Facebook's pending trademark on "Face*".
2 points by kevinburke 13 minutes ago 1 reply      
How do you accept credit cards?
1 point by lancewiggs 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm not seeing a cash register - I'm seeing a personal payments system. For an online cash register check out http://vendhq.com/
Apple's Safari Browser Gives Search Marketers Headaches mediapost.com
27 points by lotusleaf1987 1 hour ago   11 comments top 6
24 points by geuis 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I remember coming across the 3rd party cookie restrictions on Safari. I was setting a cookie inside of an iframe for its own domain since it was for internal state tracking for a check-in style button, not trying to set on the iframe's parent page or anything like that. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Safari even blocks 3rd party domains from setting cookies in iframes for their own domains.

For a moment at first, I was kind of frustrated. Then I thought about it and really, really was happy Safari was doing that. It might be causing me a little headache, but its also stopping lots of ad trackers right in their tracks.

This is something I wish all browsers would start doing.

36 points by benologist 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Title should be prefixed with "Good news everybody: ".
5 points by app 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This caused a bunch of headaches at Vimeo while working on our iframe embed code a couple months back. If I remember correctly Safari (and now I believe Chrome 10) will not send cookies in iframe POSTs unless a user specifically navigates in that iframe. So for example clicking the "like" button in a Vimeo video wouldn't work right away. There is a workaround: you programmatically fake a POST right away, and the second POST works because the user has interacted with it.

This might be a nice "headache" for marketers, but there are legit uses. As a developer I'd prefer if browsers were consistent in their default handling of cookies.

1 point by bkaid 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is one thing you will never ever see happen to Google Chrome or stock Android browsers as Google is essentially a search marketing company.
7 points by bioinformatics 1 hour ago 1 reply      
When tracking was a good thing anyway?
8 points by joebananas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Oh No!
M.C. Escher: More Mathematics Than Meets the Eye im-possible.info
21 points by nathanh 2 hours ago   3 comments top 3
1 point by hoag 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
As someone who grew up mesmerized as a little kid by a large framed work by Escher in our house, this is an awesome read. :)
2 points by slashcom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Obligatory reference to Gödel, Escher and Bach.

(For the record, I do understand this article explores a different mathematical aspect of Escher than Hofstadter)

1 point by jcitme 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have a larger version of the last picture?
Want to write some code? Get away from your computer rtwilson.com
77 points by robintw147 6 hours ago   42 comments top 19
20 points by psadauskas 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I find I solve the trickiest problems in one of three places: Walking my dog, taking a shower, and laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I find that stepping away from the keyboard, and my programming environment entirely, allows me to let go of all the basic assumptions I hadn't even realized I'd been making.
14 points by sliverstorm 4 hours ago 5 replies      
One of the best lessons I learnt from my first boss was: “when your code doesn't behave as expected, don't use the debugger, think.”

Can't entirely agree. I'm not a grizzled programmer, so sometimes when I'm coding for microcontrollers the debugger winds up teaching me about some new quirk in architecture. It's often something I was aware of (endianness, some of the finer details of addressing) but had not yet actually dealt with in person.

3 points by whimsymachine 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
There's a rich history of research into the nature and methods of problem solving (Polya et. al), the role of unconscious (e.g. walk away from the lab/tools) and so on. The more intractable the problem, the more it required being able to walk away from the tools (see anecdotal history about discovery of the structure of benzene for example).

The experience of "coding", with its quick feedback loop hypnotizes people into an unproductive leash. The nature of the problem, the language and tools either help or exacerbate.

My experience is that most hard problem solving needs at least three approaches - I paraphrase them as 1. Zoom Out, 2. Zoom In 3. Zoom away. Debuggers aside, I found that program construction in interpreted languages (my work was in Lisp) supported with a good toolset and modularity in design, allowed productive zoom-in, zoom-out whereas programming in "edit/compile/debug" languages even with the toolset and modularity required "zooming away" more often. Could be that the context switching cycle of edit/compile/debug is a cognitive tax that really hampers hard problem solving or when things are not working as expected.

5 points by ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In many ways the responsiveness of the machine can work against you. Back when the Amiga was a hot machine to work on there were two compilers Lattice C and Manx C, Lattice was the one sanctioned for development and it took a long time to compile and link, Manx on the other hand compiled really really fast. A number of developers discovered that the fast compiler had a weird effect of making it easy to try lots of things quickly, rather than contemplating what you needed to do next.

Then recently Randal Munroe published an XKCD cartoon on attention deficit management [1] which when I saw it, it really resonated with this same experience. Basically by slowing things down, quality improved. Clearly there is a fundamental principle here somewhere, something along that lines that there is an ideal pace for development (perhaps unique to each individual) where going faster or slower than that ideal negatively impacts quality.

[1] http://xkcd.com/862/

13 points by wslh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is good mostly for algorithms but for system software (drivers, a lot of different technologies involved) is impossible because issues are outside of your control, without debugging you'll lose 100x of time.
6 points by ZeroMinx 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hardly news for anyone who's been a developer for a long time. I generally solve my dev problems wandering around London. This has the added bonus of when I've sorted out the problem in my head, I'm at a location I've never been before and have the chance to find a new restaurant/pub. Win/win.
4 points by nikcub 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I was told years ago by an older developer that "90% of code is written away from your computer"

I adhere to this adage and find it to be true

2 points by drblast 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a personal project I've been working on for years, mostly in pen and paper.

Every once in a while I'll get motivated and start coding it up. I'll start to think "I didn't think I could do it that way when planning it on paper, but I can't remember the reason...I'll just see what happens."

A few hours later I get to the "oh yeah..." part.

Funny thing is, that works both ways. Sometimes no matter how much you plan, if you just start coding you get the positive "Oh yeah!" moments that wouldn't have happened on paper.

8 points by listrophy 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"Step Away From the Computer" or "Hammock-driven Development" by Rich Hickey (author of Clojure): http://clojure.blip.tv/file/4457042/
2 points by Tycho 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe someone could make paper based IDEs, like notebooks that have columns to trace variables, rows for declarations at the top... Edit: terrible idea, just look for a suitable jotter in the stationary sections.
2 points by spullara 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I find when going to sleep is the best time to code like this. No distractions.
1 point by jarin 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this article would be better titled "Want to write some code? Get away from Visual Studio".
2 points by ashleymoran 5 hours ago 2 replies      
While you can get the benefit of clarity by stepping away from the keyboard for a while, I've found the best return is from test-driven development. TDD forces you to think about what you're trying to achieve before you try to solve the it. The thing I took exception to in the post was:

> 5. Make small change to the code on the off-chance that it might solve the problem

Whether practising TDD or trying to formalise the problem on paper (or in your head), this is not the way to write code. Programming is not a random search problem.

These days, I tend to only step away from the keyboard when I'm losing my bearings for where I am in the big picture. Usually, that's when I'm "making small changes to the code on the off-chance that it might solve the problem"… this means I don't really know what the problem is.

1 point by dhruvbird 5 hours ago 1 reply      
+1. I've found that thinking hard and long about most problems before coding them results in less buggy (sometimes even no bugs!) code. I remember my friend telling me that his dad had to stand in line and wait literally days to execute code on a computer (using punch cards) and they had all the time in the world to write the code, but very little to execute it. One mistake during execution and they would have to wait a few days for their turn, delaying the results that they were seeking.

I try to emulate this environment (by not compiling/running code) and trying to tell myself that I really should get a large chunk of thought (followed by relatively bug-free code) down before I let the compiler/interpreter in. This discipline has helped me a lot imho.

1 point by mmb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Having a baby caused me to transition to this style for personal projects. I spend a lot less time in front of the computer now and when I do it's for shorter times.

I've found this approach does give a better result and eliminates false starts. When I'm at the computer now I have already thought through what I'm going to do completely and writing the code is just a minor detail.

2 points by d135-1r43 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a piano standing next to my PC. The most productive days are those on which I play/compose/improvise the most…
1 point by barkerja 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't begin to express how much more productive and clearer I think when not behind the computer.

I do most of my outlining away from the computer, with pen and paper. UML is your friend! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Modeling_Language

1 point by jayzalowitz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I love chalkboards, they are the best coding instrument since the abacus, true fact.
1 point by keeran 3 hours ago 0 replies      
100% agree, I write my best code in the shower, as I'm getting ready for work :)
Numbers everyone should know highscalability.com
72 points by chuhnk 6 hours ago   28 comments top 9
8 points by fleitz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
People should also know for writes that there are a variety of ways to mitigate this. The first way is to write sequentially (no seeking). The second way is to install battery backed write cache which will do this for you. If you're ok with losing a little bit of data you can also just have the OS write to memory before flushing to disk. BBWC controllers seem to handle write reorder optimization much better than the OS. So I'd recommend the BBWC over writing to memory.

This is a large reason I dislike cloud hosting, most of the hardware is crap and you could get much better performance from it with a little more expense. Also it's mostly pointless to bother making your writes sequential as the performance degrades to random IO because of all the other instances on the machine.

8 points by grammr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My databases professor at my university once brought up Jim Gray's data latency analogy to illustrate the costs of using different types of storage. Basically it goes something like this:

Using a register is like interacting with information in your own brain, using an L1 cache is like walking to a bookshelf in the room you're in, using an L2 cache is like walking across campus, using RAM is like going to Sacramento (we were in Berkeley), hitting the disk is like going to Pluto, and using tape drives is like going to Andromeda.

I never fully registered the consequences of hitting disk until then.

4 points by pfedor 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well if anyone wants to learn more from Jeff Dean than just twelve numbers, here's a talk he gave at Standford about Google's architecture and system building in general:


The slides for the talk: http://www.stanford.edu/class/ee380/Abstracts/101110-slides....

4 points by rythie 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Needs updating for SSDs, I'm not sure it's really worth the development time and increased time to market to optimise for rotating disks.
5 points by Getahobby 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I know noSQL is all the rage with the crazy kids these days and I know it has its place but why is half of the literature regarding noSQL about solving problems that are trivial in an RDBMS?
1 point by hammock 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Not trying to be mean, but sometimes I wonder how many programmers actually have friends outside the industry. This happens when I read titles like "Numbers everyone should know" and then find out that it's numbers like the time needed for an L2 cache reference or how to optimize for low write contention. Does anyone realize that this stuff is about as esoteric as it gets?
1 point by alecco 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Blogspam repost of a 2yo+ presentation. A very good one, but still...
0 points by velshin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent tidbits!
Finally found: best way to discover granted Facebook app permissions artchang.com
4 points by kineticac 16 minutes ago   2 comments top
1 point by kineticac 12 minutes ago 1 reply      
Feedback appreciated from Facebook API hackers!
Pratt Parsers: Expression Parsing Made Easy stuffwithstuff.com
49 points by jashkenas 6 hours ago   6 comments top 5
6 points by scott_s 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I slapped together a crude lexer that works and we'll just pretend that tokens are raining down from heaven or something.

This perfectly describes all parsing discussions and papers I've read. I love it.

2 points by cletus 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A post about... Programming? This isn't the HN I know!

Good post. I need to ruminate on this some more but it might well apply to something I'm working on.

2 points by statictype 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've also played around with combinatorial parsing using F#'s FParsec (a clone of Haskell's Parsec lib) and I found very pleasant and powerful to work with.
1 point by ssp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I believe this algorithm is also known as "precedence climbing", and it's the most common way to deal with operator precedence in a recursive-descent parser.
1 point by amadiver 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Excited to see how this is integrated with Magpie
Understanding and using Amazon EBS - Elastic Block Store perfcap.blogspot.com
21 points by mblakele 3 hours ago   1 comment top
1 point by a2tech 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Long, but well reasoned article on EBS. Basically comes down to-know your load, and be darned sure you have adequate metrics in place for tracking latency.
New venture of Slicehost founder devstructure.com
104 points by DanielRibeiro 10 hours ago   20 comments top 6
14 points by jrnkntl 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, this is really cool. Sometimes I just keep tweaking a server losing track of what I changed where (that's just me), would be so easy to just convert all the configurations I did automatically into a puppet script and deploy it on a bare-bones machine!
So, how would they go about monetizing this thing?
3 points by arkitaip 8 hours ago 1 reply      
We are actually going to migrate from one dedicated to another and documenting all the software, libraries, settings, and data has been a pain. Would love to try this but we don't run Ubuntu 10.04!

Side note: I am surprised that there is no floss migration tool that does this. I know that it would be a complex piece of software but I would actually pay/donate money for it.

3 points by fourspace 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Blueprint is also the name of a grid framework for HTML/CSS.


2 points by ceejayoz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks neat, I'll definitely be giving this a try.
2 points by nphase 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I am seriously excited about using this. I've been holding off on configuring new forward deployed servers before automation is in place, this lets me get work done now without worrying about shooting myself in the foot later.
2 points by robflynn 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you for reminding me of this. I gave it a try a while back and thought it looked promising.

I recall having a couple of very small gripes with it (they really were quite minor and were likely due to my own misunderstanding), but I honestly can't even remember what those gripes were anymore.

I'm going to give it another shot.

Tracking radiation levels in Japan rdtn.org
14 points by huslage 3 hours ago   6 comments top 4
1 point by w1ntermute 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anyone else find it ironic that all the people flying out of Tokyo are exposing themselves to more radiation than those who remain there?
3 points by rgrieselhuber 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea but it would be much more useful if the pins were color-coded to indicate danger levels.
8 points by munificence 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Radiation dose chart...


1 point by defrost 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The Marian Steinbach blog entry "Japan Radiation Open Data" referenced in the article has solid raw data links.
Show HN: Launching my Realtime Social Video Startup frozenhot.com
57 points by iman 8 hours ago   45 comments top 20
9 points by simplify 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I see potential in this. It's almost like walking into a room full of people all watching one TV. There's appeal to that; online video does have the watch-whatever-you-want feature, but a lot of times people just want to turn on a TV channel and watch whatever comes on.

If you really want to make this a startup, you should make it exactly that. Take control over the public rooms, feed them with quality content, and call them channels. Hire moderators to keep the content fresh. Show occasional commercial advertisements. I think the closer you make it to TV, the more willing people will be to sit through advertisements (random idea: sell to advertisers what people say during their advertisements). Voting is an ok feature, but you should limit that to private rooms.

I can see myself going to a "comedy central" channel and just watching whatever it has on, not needing worrying about what to watch next. Knowing that others are watching the same thing is pretty compelling.

12 points by iman 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Hey guys, I've been reading HN for a long time (since before it was called HN). I rarely comment or submit to HN, but I am really proud to finally submit my site here.

Would appreciate any feedback you have!


4 points by dpritchett 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't find a source now, but this reminds me of the story where Bill and Melinda gates would stay in touch when one of them was traveling by having an over-the-phone movie date night. Both of them rent a movie and start it at the same time, they call each other and chat throughout.

Edit: Here's a cite but it tells a slightly different story than I remembered. http://davis.foulger.info/papers/RelationshipEqualsSumMedia....

2 points by chaosmachine 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the concept. It's sort of like watching TV with a bunch of friends. Interactive voting on the next video is very cool.

But, here's your biggest challenge: This concept doesn't work without a bunch of users showing up at the same time.

Tomorrow, when this is off the front page of HN, how do you plan to get people to come back? If you can solve that, you've got something.

3 points by Jimega36 4 hours ago 3 replies      
A fantastic simple idea. Video interaction is brilliant through gaming add-on. 3 comments:

1) Find a way to MAINTAIN gaming during the video (e.g. live comments adds of people in the room to the images?). That's because right now its fun to vote every 1:30minutes but then kind of boring to watch.. Althrough I stayed 3X more than initially planned ;-) This would allow maintaing people on site too since many people left/stopped voting after 1st video.

2) POINTS need to be prominent & STATUS linked: it's not about the money for me but the challenge & game. Many sites followed this model. When I win, the reward of points would need to incenvize me somehow. Make it big/prominent? What about leveraging STATUS with points too: status changes with results from say commoner to king to rock-star...

3) Consider Consumer Goods ads for site monetization: FMCG would pay to have their ads displayed (what about an ad of 10'' every few where people vote too???). I know that's old model but still there is something in the voting that could be a way for consumer research or brand 'interraction' of sort

Overall will be big, well done and keep it up!

2 points by shawndrost 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Fun stuff! It's like being the robot on mst3k. The site has a real soul to it... I find the jankiness of the design endearing, I love that you assigned me the name "renny", and I like the random touch of having my name tag appear when I click to vote. It's fun to move around! I think frozenhot is memorable, it's fine.

Main thing: how are you going to bring people here?

A few minor suggestions: make the vote countdown shorter, allow me to click the x on the popover ad, add a "this video sucks, skip it" button, fix the damn lagging. Maybe add a way for people to ping the screen for additional lulz.

11 points by ski2mi 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Repeat after me: A website is not a startup.

It's bad enough that everyone with half a business idea calls it a startup, but now everyone with half a website prototype is joining in.

2 points by blantonl 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Couple questions after visting:

1) How does it work?
2) What does it do?
3) Why should I sign up for an account?

These are things that the front page should answer immediately. .

But most importantly, how do you expect to generate revenue from this project? Not having a clear answer to that question would probably eliminate this as being called a "startup."

Best of luck on your project!

1 point by chegra 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Love it. :D Especially being able to vote on what we view next. I'm just going to go ahead and say we have a winner here. I can't stop watching the Family Channel.
1 point by kmfrk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Some documentaries and university lectures could be interesting. I'd like to see those get selected.

Maybe Khan Academy, too?

1 point by ay 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Fun! Here's an idea for you to consider for getting money out of it:

display the two choices "coming up" and accept person betting either on one or the other. Don't show how many people placed a bet.

When the choice is done - the part that won takes the bets of those who lost.

If a draw - like "zero", the house takes all the bets and makes a random choice.

"Make money while watching TV" - could be an appealing tagline to some :-)

edit: creating custom rooms could be a killer feature. Think of how a VJ can be put into the mix above - maybe leave him the %% of micropayments or points from each winning vote, or something like that.

I think this could make it.

3 points by jiffylu 7 hours ago 1 reply      
2 points by daralthus 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great datail to add random names and not "guest012"!
1 point by hkr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great implementation. I had the same exact idea for a while, but I didn't really have a feeling for it.

Suggestion: Run commercials during the 20-30 seconds in between videos (while users are voting).

3 points by Swannie 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nicely done, not sure what video's I'd use if for though.
1 point by patheman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
kind of fun, you need to somehow generate interaction .. by a gaming/voting system so its like a game.

oh, yeah.. analyze the chatlogs.. just discussing the whole thing in-chat ;)

2 points by mef 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like it. A more fun way to spend your time if you're a person who watches videos on youtube all day.
1 point by leeHS 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Concept: Very interesting. Nothing more I can add that hasn't already been said by others.

Design: Very poor. Right now it looks unprofessional.

Looking forward to seeing where you go with this!

2 points by zengr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It has all the hot buzz words! "realtime", "social", "video"! Best of luck with it!
1 point by swlkr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
this reminds of an app that i saw a while back except it was really simple and only worked for two people.

this is pretty cool though

Superconductivity Near 20 Celsius superconductors.org
77 points by ph0rque 10 hours ago   27 comments top 8
35 points by ylem 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I'll believe it when I see it in a peer reviewed journal--published by more than one group. Until then, it's a USO (unidentified superconducting object). If it were real, then reports would be all over the March Meeting of the American Physical Society which is celebrating 100 years of superconductivity this year.
9 points by phreeza 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If this is for real, the implications are huge. Seems odd that news like this would be broken on a weird page like this, and not on arxiv, for example.

Not holding my breath.

11 points by turnersauce 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This has been posted before, and there was much interesting discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2041675
6 points by asdkl234890 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see that website linking to any kind of a scientific or academic publication about this. If this was real, I don't think it would be only on the web.
3 points by nickpinkston 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow - I liked this part:

"This discovery is being released into the public domain without patent protection in order to encourage additional research."

Let's hope this works!

1 point by eyeforgotmyname 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain this?
2 points by kordless 9 hours ago 1 reply      
That's the temperature of a nice day in San Jose.
2 points by mangirdas 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Just half year ago I thought that it can't happen any time soon. Now I think some day we will have a new kind of transport and many other technologies based on superconductivity.
Easy Rails OAuth integration testing with Omniauth and Capybara zerosum.org
17 points by zapnap 4 hours ago   6 comments top 2
1 point by ryanfitz 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I know this would slow down your integration tests and complicate them, but wouldn't you want to avoid mocking twitter this way to actually test that your site is integrating properly with the service? Mocking obviously has its place, but I'd avoid it if possible for end to end testing like this.
-1 point by idlewords 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's amusing that this post about some raft of dependencies that is supposed to make testing easy, painless and fun opens with a mini-rant about an earlier module that was supposed to make things super easy and fun, but ended up causing the author pain.

This seems like a common Rails tradeoff (trading quick development time for dependency chasing and complexity), except it's rarely presented as a tradeoff.

Design annoyances codefastdieyoung.com
60 points by sghael 9 hours ago   22 comments top 7
25 points by idlewords 5 hours ago 0 replies      
List mysteriously leaves out "gratuitous headshot of author"
10 points by beaumartinez 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Number three is interesting, especially if we consider what Canonical have done recently with Unity and moved scrollbars outside the window[1], freeing-up the screen real-estate that they permanently occupy.

[1] http://design.canonical.com/2011/03/introducing-overlay-scro...

5 points by powertower 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"body {min-height:101%;}" will work much better than "overflow-y: scroll".

Unlike the latter it's CSS2 (vs CSS3) and also works without bugs.

5 points by billswift 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Most of these have been pretty well known or obvious, which is why those that do them have little excuse. But I disagree strongly that #1 is a problem. Some things, like the header in his example, usually should be full width. While others, especially columns of text should be of a fixed maximum width to improve readability. Who cares about blank bars to the sides of the screen? Or at least, who cares as much as they do about struggling to read too wide columns of text?
7 points by stephenhuey 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm certainly more likely to feel like I'm signing up for something magical when I'm faced with big pretty happy-looking form elements! :)
4 points by Gorm-Casper 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm curious what others think about #3 (The vertical scrollbar). Traditionally it's considered messing with the defaults of the browser, and wasting precious screen space; but I hear from more and more (graphical) designers that they'd like me to stop the page from jumping by doing exactly this.
1 point by true_religion 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The reason for #1 is because fluid layouts can force text lines to stretch on wide screen monitors. As such, the line becomes harder to read.
Steve Yegge's foreword to Joy of Clojure manning.com
159 points by calibraxis 16 hours ago   54 comments top 11
18 points by d0m 13 hours ago 9 replies      
Just a word.. not that it is really relevant but I wanted to share this with fellow hackers. To encourage the Clojure community/language, I've pre-ordered the book Joy of Clojure on amazon. On the book's website, it is clearly stated that you also get a free pdf of the book before the release date. So, I was pretty enthusiastic about starting to read the book.

But then, I find out that you only get the pdf if you ordered from manning.. So, I email manning saying that had I know about the "order at manning instead of amazon", I really would have bought it there and that I'd be more then happy to blog about "Joy of Clojure" and give a link to manning's order web page.

So, then, I receive an email saying (summarized in my word): "Fu, it's your problem, next time buy it at manning, not amazon".

It really frustrated me.. I mean, isn't it the best way to demolish someone's best intention? I just feel like never ever buying anything from manning; never ever linking anything to their website, and spread the word about that story.

Am I over-reacting? What's your thought on that, fellow HN-users?

15 points by euroclydon 10 hours ago 3 replies      
It would be nice, when there is a thread on Clojure, if at least one person chimed in and gave an example of a problem where this lisp dialect on JVM helped them to solve a problem faster than using an existing language, like Python, C#, Java, or whatever.

"Drinking through a fire hose", "understanding corner cases", and such are just euphemisms. Where's the beef?

8 points by gtani 12 hours ago 2 replies      
4.2 on the Rant-o-meter. "fashion-driven to a degree that would embarrass..." more Yegge yadda-yadda.

Not sure if i prefer "class-five tropical storm" or a fire hydrant book shoved up. But those fire hydrant books, say,

- Wampler / Payne's Scala book, or

- Cesarini /Thompson's Erlang book

- Syme/Granicz/Cisternino for F#

- (dunno if real World Haskell is a fire hydrant; dunno which are scheme/common Lisp fire hydrants, and ocaml doesn't have one)

are very important, not to read in their entirety, but to figure out where to find stuff when you're hauling yourself out of intermediate developer-ness i.e. get you up to understanding production code, and cover the edge cases so you can figure out the corner cases and save you asking hundreds of questions on stackoverflow. Somewhere in amazon i wrote a book review that tutorial books cover 1 sigmas of the language, standard libs and dev environment, but books that cover 2 sigmas are rare.

And this is that book for clojure. And clojure does have that "perfect storm" feel

5 points by reinhardt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Clojure has only been out for three years, but it's gaining momentum at a rate that we haven't seen in a new language in decades"

[citation needed]

Unless the context is HN threads with "clojure" in the title.

6 points by JoachimSchipper 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Context: http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2007/02/next-big-language.ht... is/was reasonably well-known, and people have been speculating on which language he meant ever since [EDIT: see reply by dpritchett]. Steve Yegge doesn't quite come out and declare his preference, but...

Sadly, he's not written anything on his blog in a while.

8 points by melling 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Throwing down a challenge in the preface. That's a great way to sell a book to developers.
15 points by vidar 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Damn I miss that guy.
5 points by JSig 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Attn MEAPs: I was notified this morning of the following:

"We are pleased to announce that The Joy of Clojure is now complete! As a MEAP subscriber you can download your copy of the finished ebook right now! "

I was starting to wonder if I was going to ever get a final copy.

1 point by jackfoxy 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Why does he mention .NET? I have not heard of Clojure being available on the .NET stack.
1 point by myth_drannon 14 hours ago 2 replies      
English is not my first language but:
"So nobody could be more surprised than I that a Lisp dialect ..."
shouldn't it be "than ME"
1 point by swah 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I think shoving an "hydrant up in the *" won't appear on the preface...
Overview of Text Extraction Algorithms tomazkovacic.com
72 points by Anon84 11 hours ago   20 comments top 6
29 points by ajays 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This page is just a thin wrapper, with a link to the _actual_ overview: http://tomazkovacic.com/blog/14/extracting-article-text-from...

And here's his list of resources: http://tomazkovacic.com/blog/56/list-of-resources-article-te...

2 points by garply 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I studied a fair amount of NLP (a true passion of mine) at school and after I graduated I spent several months working on tech which did this (and other things). That was intended to be a startup, but sadly, at the time, my business sense sucked and I couldn't decide on a good product to fit the tech to (the fact that I was developing tech before I had a strong sense of my product is already telling).

I since have started a completely different (and profitable) company and the code has just been bit-rotting. I'm not sure what I should do with it. Keep it around in case I ever decide to do a business model like some of these companies (I probably don't have time for that)? Open source it (time-consuming to clean the code and what do I stand to gain from that)? I guess I could use the open-sourced stuff to help me find contracts for freelancing, but I just don't see a lot of NLP remote work being offered.

Still, I hate seeing the code rot...

2 points by rb2k_ 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I always wanted to generate a simple service that classifies websites. Something where you dump in the HTML/URL and it returns something like "agriculture"/"government"/"retail"/"education".

I already have a set of a few thousand classifications at hand. What would probably be a good algorithm to run it through? I assume I'd use something like webstemmer/boilerpipe/... to extract just the main text first.

What I am a bit uncertain is what I should do after that. My guess would be that I isolate the nouns/adjectives with the highest frequency and do a clustering with my already categorized dataset as training data.

Does that somewhat makes sense?
If yes: any recommendations or alternatives for libraries (preferably ruby) or just algorithms themselves (k-means, svm, neural network...)

3 points by hollerith 8 hours ago 0 replies      
When I started using the internet in 1992 Usenet (which BTW was almost always referred to as netnews or just plain "news" before Time magazine, etc, used their influence as explainers of the internet to the general public to change the name) was the social heart of the internet the way the web is now, and you did not need algorithms to extract the text from Usenet because the text was all dead-simple plain text files.
1 point by grayrest 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Readability has a LOT of hand tuned heuristics for figuring out the most likely content of the page, but the primary indicator on whether a tag with text in it is part of an article or not is the number of commas in the tag. It's my favorite thing about the algorithm because it's a dumb idea that works. The comma rule gets the extraction correct on about 70% of the web, the rest of the heuristics are mostly there to cover screwy ways people structure their articles.
1 point by PaulHoule 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Unless I'm missing something, all the methods he's talking about involve looking at web pages in isolation, or, alternatively across the set of all web pages.

To do "template drop out", it would seem productive to look longitudinally across pages on a single site, or in a subdirectory. For instance, almost all pages in Hacker News have the same chrome. Methods used for DNA clustering (such as Hidden Markov Models) could quickly find 'conserved' and 'unconserved' areas of documents.

This touches semantic technology because it links the ability to find nameless statistical patterns with meaningful semantic identifiers, such as domain names.

StackExchange allows discussion of techniques for removing DRM. superuser.com
41 points by Konerak 8 hours ago   11 comments top 4
20 points by fleitz 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The United States is founded on illegal behavior (sedition and treason). If the founders of the country have taught us anything it should be that great things come from those willing to break the law in furtherance of mankind.
10 points by makecheck 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, good...for those still affected by DRM.

I've managed to avoid DRM in an even simpler way: I consume far less content than I used to. And I have only the DRM-using companies to thank for that. When I finally took stock of my free time and realized what a waste it was to sit on my ass for 2 hours to passively absorb even one stupid movie, I basically stopped. Sure I watch things now and then, but nowhere near as much as before. I can pretty much guarantee that had there been no ridiculous roadblocks making it painful to consume content, I'd still be buying more than I do now. I wouldn't have seen a reason to change. So, thank you media companies; your intense desire to not be in business has helped me free up some time.

13 points by ZeroMinx 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a brave new world when thinking/discussing certain topics is illegal.
2 points by jonursenbach 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that Spolsky didn't just post that himself instead of giving a blurb to Attwood to post.
"Maybe it's time to move on from the Commodore 64 software" forkbombr.net
7 points by bkudria 2 hours ago   1 comment top
4 points by rbanffy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I didn't read the same as the author in the e-mail. It seemed like a humorous comment.

Anyway, porting Vice from X to OSX shouldn't be a big problem.

What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial? scribd.com
4 points by louhong 1 hour ago   1 comment top
1 point by catechu 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
In case you're wondering whose annotations those are, IIRC, the marginalia are from Vinod Khosla.
Why don't journalists link to primary sources? badscience.net
141 points by baha_man 17 hours ago   46 comments top 16
31 points by mixmax 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Because journalists don't read primary sources. More often than not they're not even aware of them.

Here's the problem: Almost all media outlets are in crisis mode so they're cutting down on their staff, meaning that a smaller number of journalists have to write the same amount of stories as before to fill the paper (or website). There simply isn't time for proper research if you have to write five articles a day.

So many journalists resort to "borrowing" from other news sources, which in turn often have borrowed their article from somewhere else. An article may start as a published paper in Nature,which is then reported in popular science, which is then reported by Reuters, which is then reported in The Times, which is then reported in The Daily Mail.

By the time it reaches The Daily Mail it's been through so many filters of busy journalists that the meaning has often become distorted. The journalist from the Daily Mail has no idea that there even is a primary source.

11 points by jrwoodruff 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Honestly I think this has as much to do with the process of news publishing and the systems and software they have in place to manage it.

I worked at a newspaper for 5 years, and their editorial system - this would be the software that reporters write their stories in, editors edit the stories in and proof readers and copy editors lay out pages in, not to mention ad placement, classified pagination and much more - was pushing 10 years old when I started. It wasn't integrated with the website content management system. It was slow, outdated and very annoying.

But it worked, everyone new how to use it, and we knew that we would be able to publish multiple publications every day, 365 days a year. The fact that the system wasn't fully integrated with the CMS meant it was difficult to add links to stories, usually requiring going into the CMS and hand-coding links, after waiting for the publishing scripts to grab the story and post it, a process which could take up to 30 minutes, depending. Typically an online editor or copy editor, far removed from the research and work the reporter had done, would manage this for the entire website, since it makes more sense for the reporter to be out on the street doing actual reporting.

So the 'simple' task of adding a link isn't as simple as it seems when placed in the context of a fast moving newsroom. Typically the battle isn't "why isn't there a link to that source document?" but rather "what do you mean you can't get anybody to speak on the record" or "we need a story for the 1A centerpiece now."

And then the next day the same battles start all over again, the process repeats and another newspaper is printed. It's difficult to change the process because the process is so critical to meeting print deadlines to be able to deliver papers on time.

To add to this, newsrooms are getting cut down at the same time they have to do more. My newsroom once had ~60 people at a time when all they did was print the paper. When I left, it was about half that size and we were posting regular online updates, tweeting, linking to stories from facebook, monitoring comments online, posting photo galleries, shooting video and creating interactive flash presentations on top of it all.

So, yea, if the reporter has time, he reads the report. If it's a story about calf length, it's more likely he'll skim it to be able to bang out a space-filling (or traffic driving) story. And since it's a light human interest story, and not something that's likely to get the paper sued, it gets a quick once-over proofread, then posted to the internet ASAP, then printed, and everyone is on to the next big story to feed daily monster that is daily publishing.

I still think some of these organizations will get there. The New York Times is leading the pack, but the slower publishers will take awhile to replace their antiquated systems and change the daily process that has been refined and perfected since the dawn of the printing press. Of the ones that don't, new organizations that can manage the digital realm will replace them.

11 points by ilamont 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If you asked most reporters whether they used primary sources, they would say yes, and point to the interviews that they conduct.

But if you were to point out that primary sources also includes published research, almost to a man or woman they would say A) they don't have the time to read it B) they don't have access to the journals or C) they are not aware the research exists. A few might concede D) even if they had access, they wouldn't be able to understand the research, which points to the fact that most journalists didn't major in science/technology in college and academic writing can be difficult to penetrate.

Of the above factors, I think C presents an opportunity for academics and startup publishers. On the academic side, it's pretty clear that the traditional method of reaching out to reporters via press releases and personal contacts is becoming less viable as newsrooms cut staff and the remaining writers have less time to network/talk with sources (travel budgets to attend conferences are very restricted these days) and write up stories based on those encounters.

Some researchers have seized upon blogging as a great way to not only reach their peers, but also a wider audience, and of course, other media (including journalists, specialist blogs, etc.). Group blogs written by researchers and experts are another great way to highlight new research and discuss ideas, too. Terra Nova ( http://terranova.blogs.com/ ) is one example focused on virtual worlds; I am sure the audience here knows of many others.

But the problem with individual and group blogs is they are still largely unknown outside of a relatively small group of people. In order to make a mass audience connection, there needs to be a way for these ideas to be presented in newspapers and television reports (which is how many people still learn about the world around them), or on media websites.

An arrangement to republish blog content or for the blog authors to prepare easy-to-understand summary reports for a mass media audience are possibilities, but the processes and incentives need to be worked out -- preferably in a way that takes the load off of editors, who don't have the time to find the right bloggers and deal with the freelance contracts and payment issues. One startup idea would be to create a "marketplace" to match publishers who are seeking an informed report about a specific scientific topic (for instance, how a boiled water reactor works). Another avenue for a startup would be to set up a "science wire service" which prepares timely, relevant coverage (including blogs, video, and features) about new research and developments every day. Media companies could subscribe to the service and editors could browse the service and use as much as they like, just as they do with Reuters, Bloomberg, AP, etc.

As for the specific issue of not including links, this partly relates to the awareness and access issues mentioned above, but also to the fact that content management systems used at many newspapers and magazines are optimized for print publishing, not online publishing. Inserting links typically has to be done after the article has been written, often by different editors or producers who know how to use Wordpress/Drupal/homegrown tools. I think there's a startup opportunity here as well, but unfortunately it also requires a rethinking of newsroom processes and control.

15 points by jashkenas 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This is changing. Many journalists would love to share and link to their primary source documents, but don't have an easy-enough way to do it.

At DocumentCloud, we're trying to change that. Here is a list of newsrooms that use DocumentCloud to share their sources -- you'll notice most of the usual suspects in there:


Here's a good example of a major 5-part story that cites its sources heavily. Take a look at the source documents page, and try reading one of the articles, and clicking on the links:


14 points by motters 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I think one of the main reasons may be that a lot of what appears to be journalism actually isn't - it's press releases from various companies and organisations, known as "churnalism". It's surprisingly easy to find churnalism, even in what appear to be fairly authoritative news sources (see churnalism.com). If journalists routinely cited their sources they would have to admit that often large sections have been copied verbatim from the public relations output of companies.
2 points by DanielBMarkham 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In theory, journalists have jobs that are about synthesis, not information. You read the story about the local town council meeting mainly because it is entertaining and engaging, not because it's a summary of the meeting notes.

That's a very difficult thing for technical people to grasp. Sometimes I think we view everything online as various versions of wikipedia, and it's not like that at all.

In practice, sure, they do a bad job many times. Sometimes they just copy and paste Press Releases. Many times they bungle a quote (Although most quotes are problematic to use verbatim. People don't talk in real life like they do in movies and books) But reporting is an art, not an algorithm. Reporters and editors are supposed to be very good at taking multiple sources, including the reporters own generated research, and mashing it together into something greater than the sum of the parts.

I don't have an opinion one way or the other about linking to primary sources. If I had to choose I guess I'd like for them always to be included. But the idea that somehow it's going to make a big difference doesn't add up for me. For researchers, sure. But not for the average reader.

5 points by rwmj 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Most likely the reason is simple: Journalists[1] are not digital natives. They don't understand or "get" the web. The tools they use don't understand very much beyond print and make linking cumbersome.

[1] and obviously here I'm using a very broad brush -- Ben Goldacre is a good example of a young doctor / writer who really gets the web and there are quite a few others.

8 points by rnadna 15 hours ago 2 replies      
In the sciences, most of the primary sources are closed, and so linking wouldn't be too helpful. The material also tends to be so technical that only experts in the field can read it.

As for that class of secondary sources (e.g. review articles and editorials) that is provided for free in a dumbed-down form, then, yes, journalists should provide links.

A custom of providing links would be very helpful in the "chat about science" writing industry, so much of which is based on opinion and political view.

2 points by RomanH 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There seems to be an unsatisfactory gray area between slack technology and misguided editorial practice (assuming better guidelines help create more substantial/enjoyable journalism).

With adequate tools for making the sourcing process as effortless as possible (see Jeremy Ashkenas' and Scott Klein's comments) it ought to remain an optional value-add for publishers: those who don't mind having their sourcing restricted to press releases, effort-obscuring generalizations or PR-driven 3rd party referencing won't encourage technologies that would enable their newsrooms leverage their in-house professionalism, regardless of its potential.

Linking/referencing is fundamental to good, original content, whatever the medium (see randlet's comment). If publishing software won't support easy source accreditation (particularly in a web-focused, hyper-linking context), journalists and editors are going to lose out - either by facing a 'keep my job vs. best practices' drama or by becoming disillusioned with the chance of success their organization has in maximizing the credibility of the staff input going into evolving their brand itself.

Taking their access to low cost, more modern publishing tools as a given, perhaps in more dynamic/educational reporting environments they should exploit software with prompts - asking authors to confirm that their content is 100% lacking of any derivative work, sources, or any mere cursory reference to any other material/commentary out there. This might even help less experienced journalists off-set some of the responsibility they have in bringing new ideas to the attention of their demanding readers ('this is my article, but here's some source curation for you, while I get my story straight'). Of course software that assumes any kind of pedagogical role is just as likely to become demonized by journalists who resent tools for their antiquated inefficiency. There's a fine line.

Services like DocumentCloud are vital in all this. As ilamont points out, there are also practical hurdles to overcome: even if you have the technology and inclination towards sourcing best practices, if you're running an online publication there's still the knee-jerk reaction to want to obscure your primary source, in case it out-performs your own content and thereby undermines your credibility. That's a question of quality and self awareness, though. The credibility loop will eventually hit your property, one way or the other.

12 points by yaix 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The article gives the answer: because quite often it would just be embarrasing for the "journalist". So many stories get blown up/made bigger then they actually are, to get more clicks/readers for the story.
2 points by asanwal 8 hours ago 0 replies      
We've been told by some news sources that have used our data/research that "they don't link out" as a policy. As a matter of our own policy, we are less willing to help them in the future and have indicated as such.

That said, we usually followup with journalists and ask for a link and most usually don't have an issue with providing it until their editor overseers ixnay the idea.

I think it's often less about malicious intent than being clueless about the "link economy".

1 point by beatpanda 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't a new observation, and as a few people have pointed out in this thread, some of the more digitally-aware news organizations are working on this problem actively.

The Knight News Challenge gave out grants this year for people to tackle the problem of verification and trust in online news, and I met someone from Mother Jones who was working on a system for documenting primary sources.

I also gave a talk last year proposing a standards-based solution for this at a journalism/tech conference in Philadelphia. My thoughts about it are here: http://beatpanda.co.cc/blog/2011/01/31/show-your-work-fillin...

More importantly though, I'm seeing a lot of potential customers for disruptive news startups right here in this thread.

Look at how many people don't trust the media. The challenge, if you want to make paying customers out of these doubters, is to not only deliver the news, but to give people a reason to trust what you're saying.

Journalists showing their work would be a good first step towards that.

2 points by Rhapso 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This. This is why I do not read newspapers or most non-academic journalism. I have taken journalism courses at grade school, high school, and college levels and they ALL cover the idea of finding and citing primary and secondary sources and that all other sources are dubious, yet somehow once you get a degree in journalism this entire idea goes out the window!
1 point by Semiapies 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Because most "science" reporting is tossed-off shit. It's of no value to those outlets to make it obvious how inaccurate (or alternately, copy-and-pastey) their work is.
2 points by danielhfrank 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Frank Rich (of the NYTimes, although he's moving to NY Mag) has always been great about linking to sources. Not always necessarily a primary source, but for an op-ed writer it makes a huge difference to show that you can back up your claims. Or at least that your sources think they can
5 points by barrym 12 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.badscience.net is Ben Goldacre's blog, and he publishes his Guardian articles there.
Building an Online Community: Just Add Water digital-web.com
26 points by krn 7 hours ago   8 comments top 2
3 points by brm 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is old and not updated anymore but some good thoughts and interviews with Scott Heiferman, Caterina Fake, and Gina Bianchi (Ning)... http://theglueproject.com/

Somewhere around online is a really good article with Heather Champ from flickr on how they manage their community as well(From SFGate maybe)

Anything from Heather's husband Derek Powazek on community is worth reading as well. Derek and Heather founded JPG Mag together.

Edit: Here is the article with Heather Champ, Nasty as They Wanna Be? Policing Flickr.com - http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-09-29/business/17120099_1_fl...

Another great read about how they built the community at flickr is this A List Apart Article from George Oates: From Little Things, Big Things Grow - http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fromlittlethings/

1 point by arkitaip 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I (also a metafilter member) have been researching how to manage and moderate online communities this week. Lots of interesting stuff to read but not much scientific research, I'm afraid.

Matt, Metafilter's founder, gave a talk on community moderation at this year's SXSWi http://lanyrd.com/2011/sxsw/scrdr/ . To sum it up: good moderation = moderators and powerful troubleshooting/profiling/stats tools.

Unfortunately I haven't found much about community growth and innovation, but I've just started my research. I've been thinking about setting up a blog/wiki on this topic. Anyone interested in this?

Chats.io, new HTML5 / Node.JS-powered social group chat, launches chats.io
63 points by cmatthieu 12 hours ago   44 comments top 15
13 points by chapel 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For a web based chat platform I think it falls short, but from what cmatthieu said about making it, Chats.io is really a weekend project. Not really something that 'launches' anyways.

As far as what he could do to improve it, here are some ideas:
1. IRC is a solid and robust chat platform that has been around for a long time, you should really look towards what makes it strong and how it is used. Take that and apply what works towards the web app.

2. After building the foundation on solid chat technology, add in things people expect from a web app. I wouldn't mind seeing actual profiles with publicly available logs and what channels they frequent. You could add friends and what not and know when they login and what channels they frequent as well.

3. Since Node.js is so versatile, look at making it compatible with IRC so that IRC clients can connect to it and function as you would expect. This would be an added feature, but could be huge. Not everyone likes using their browser to chat, I know I don't.

Good luck with it, glad to see someone making some fun stuff with Node.js and showing it off.

7 points by metabrew 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Seems like everyone trying out node.js for the first time wants to make chat-room apps. At least this one doesn't have an immediately obvious script injection vulnerability :)

Interestingly, none of the chat apps I've really used are built on node: convore is python, mibbit is java, irccloud is erlang. Too new I guess.

If anyone's interested in a tasteful, persistent, web-based IRC client (ie, bouncer-like) - albeit not using node.js - mention HN in the invite box on https://irccloud.com/

15 points by jacobbijani 11 hours ago 0 replies      
As opposed to an anti-social solitary chat? :)
11 points by simplify 11 hours ago 3 replies      
It's not loading for me =/ Anyone else have this problem?
7 points by codeslush 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Chris - this is awesome! Love that it's open source too:


1 point by markbao 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Error 324 (net::ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE): The server closed the connection without sending any data.

Edit: looks like it's back up!

2 points by bradmccarty 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks Chris. This is handy, for sure. I gave it some love on The Next Web, if you want to monitor the comments.
1 point by uberalex 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this very much, and I would love to see markdown or some other rich markup for chatting.
1 point by j2d2j2d2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Would love to see this ported to coffeescript.
1 point by cmatthieu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We have already received 4 pull requests and merged code with new features and a new UI today! The power of the crowd is amazing!
2 points by karolisd 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For some reason I'm reminded of AIM and I miss AIM. I'm going to start a start-up that remakes AIM that you can log in with Facebook.
2 points by cmatthieu 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's also running on http://nodester.com - the free and open source node.js hosting platform.
1 point by bezidejni 11 hours ago 4 replies      
On Chrome(Win), the windows doesn't autoscroll on joining/leaving announcements. It scrolls normally when a new message arrives.
1 point by u48998 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The site never comes up for me.
-1 point by shawndrost 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Please don't shove an alert in my face. It's rude.
Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth 'Crying In Rage' [in 1967] npr.org
292 points by J3L2404 1 day ago   57 comments top 16
62 points by adriand 1 day ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of an interview with former NASA astronaut (and current director of the Veteran Administration's National Center for Patient Safety) who related that most people don't realize that the astronauts who died in the Challenger accident didn't die in the explosion:

> There are still many people that don't understand that the crew of the Challenger didn't die until they hit the water. They were all strapped into their seats in a basically intact crew module; their hearts were still beating when they hit the water. People think they were blown to smithereens, but that's not what happened.


31 points by rriepe 1 day ago 5 replies      
This reminds me of my favorite conspiracy theory, The Lost Cosmonauts, which proposes that Yuri Gagarin was the first man to survive space travel.


24 points by thefool 1 day ago 2 replies      
The bit about the translation is misleading. I speak russian.

The audio is very fuzzy, but I think at the end he says something that roughly translates to "the former cosmonaut is dead"

Before that he says something about the people, I can't make out anything about heat or temperature. Apparently the people on the ground couldn't either, which is why you hear "mission control" asking him to repeat himself. I couldn't make out the word they asked him to repeat either.

23 points by saturnine 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This incident sounded familiar so I pulled my copy of James Bamford's Puzzle Palace[1] (1982) and managed to find it on page 215:

"Another high-priority target for the signal chasers at Karamursel [Turkey] is the Soviet space program. On April 23, 1967, a number of analysts were routinely copying the return of Soyuz I, bringing Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov back from twenty-six hours in space, when problems suddenly developed on re-entry. Recalled one of the intercept operators:

'They couldn't get the chute that slowed his craft down in re-entry to work. They knew what the problem was for about two hours...and were fighting to correct it. It was all in Russian, of course, but we taped it and listened to it a couple of times afterward. Kosygin called him personally. They had a video-phone conversation. Kosygin was crying. He told him he was a hero and that he had made the greatest achievement in Russian history, that they were proud, and that he'd be remembered. The guy's wife got on too. They talked for a while. He told her how to handle their affairs and what to do with the kids. It was pretty awful. Toward the last few minutes he began falling apart, saying, "I don't want to die, you've got to do something." Then there was just a scream as he died. I guess he was incinerated.'"

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Puzzle-Palace-National-Intelligence-Or...

4 points by thought_alarm 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This analysis [1] pours cold water on the CIA's interpretation of Komarov's transmissions. It's an interesting read, regardless.

[1] http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/histind/Soyuz1Land/Soyanaly.htm

11 points by corin_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
As posted at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2342058 four hours ago.
5 points by hoag 21 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a chilling story. But such is the plight of man setting out on new frontiers of exploration: from Francisco and Columbus setting out across the seas, to Earhart's one way flight, so too will man flounder in his trek through the stars.

Look: explorers of all elements -- land, air, sea -- undertake their endeavors to accomplish a singular goal: the discovery of the unknown. An uncertainty of one's destination brings with it, therefore, an uncertainty of one's success and therefore of one's survival. And this is a risk that all explorers knowingly and willingly undertake -- it is a condition precedent to being such a brave traveller.

Accordingly, I think to shed so dark and negative a light on the several tragedies during mankind's nascent years of exploration is to miss the point and indeed forsake the very thing for which those pioneers lived: the furthering of our race, the advancement of our species.

Rather than mourn the loss of our fellow adventurers in their quest into the unknown, we should instead celebrate them, not only for their accomplishments in life, but additionally and especially in death.

After all, but for their risks, but for their selfless ability to consciously put their lives on the line both for their countries -- and indeed for our species as a whole -- and, certainly, to satisfy their thirst for knowledge and discovery, we would still be travelling the European continent on horseback.

As indecent as it may sound, I am certain our great explorers would be disappointed to see us saddened by their loss, and that they would far rather their memories be praised with all the pomp and circumstance worthy of their triumphant accomplishments, failures and successes alike.

6 points by koski 1 day ago 3 replies      
There is something touching in these stories. Not sure if it's something that these guys "did that no one knew about" or the "brotherhood" or ... but .. Something I think was brave.

I'm sure some people disagree, but I would have left a vodka glass on this guy's grave. For sure! Spasibo!

8 points by myth_drannon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just one comment , the book is not new but from 1998 . This is just softcover release.
4 points by spacemanaki 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Be sure to click through to the Amazon page for this recording... for the cover art and "album title".


6 points by vl 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's the most link-batish title I've seen in weeks. Adding date would be appropriate.
2 points by jonah 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the article I read about a couple Italian kids listening in on the Soviet's [lost] space missions:


Not sure how much they sensationalized their efforts but quite interesting look into the history nonetheless.

2 points by karolist 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I know this is probably inappropriate, but I've googled his wife out of interest, to see if USSR took good care of her, this is what I've found http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/valentina-Komarov/131556909...
1 point by J3L2404 23 hours ago 0 replies      
and here's Ivanovich(middle name),
in his rocketship,
spinning helplessly up above the earth,
and though his heart is splintered,
all the girls of winter,
are buried in their coats anonymous....
2 points by vamsee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.
-1 point by varjag 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is on par with "Alien Autopsy" and 9/11 conspiracies. That said, it invokes the "crazy Russikies" stereotype, so it must be true.
The Idea about Ideas (2005) paultyma.blogspot.com
41 points by nfriedly 10 hours ago   5 comments top 5
1 point by zinxq 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is Paul.

Sorry, I don't blog much anymore.

And no, Dodgeit was not first. Roger and I emailed many many times, but he'll happily admit Mailinator preceded Dodgeit by about 6 months (even heard him say it on a podcast once). Not that it matters much.

1 point by dmoney 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you define "luminary" ideas as those that aren't based on any previous ideas, then it's almost a given that none exist. Even when an idea is the logical next step, it can still be game-changing for those clever or lucky enough to realize it.
1 point by sebkomianos 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Does Paul Tyma maintain any blog(s) now? I just spent the last two hours reading his personal and mailinator blogs..
1 point by willpower101 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Www.dodgeit.com was doing this long before mailinator. They eventually shut down for some reason, but still, mailinator wasn't original. Just well timed.
1 point by kentbuckle 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The conversation in the middle of the post doesn't sound too different from conversations I've had with friends. I hope I didn't miss out on a big opportunity...
Open Source Micro-Factory openfarmtech.org
60 points by ph0rque 12 hours ago   22 comments top 10
9 points by kragen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I think Marcin and his crew are doing fantastic work, and their simple, low-cost designs could make a real difference, especially in the case of places that are poorly served by current mass manufacturing.

One of my first kragen-tol posts http://lists.canonical.org/pipermail/kragen-tol/1998-Novembe... predicted mass adoption of this kind of thing within ten years. So far it's taking longer than I expected, although it's happened in a few niches: http://www.cleggind.com/specialstructures/mobilepartsmachine...

One thing that some may not appreciate is that a local micro-factory doesn't have to run cheaper than, say, GM's body panel stamping machines in order to be economically beneficial.

To be concrete, consider the case where you need a certain screw. The screw that holds the left wheel of your push lawnmower on, which fell out in the grass somewhere. It needs to be a countersunk head to fit, and it has a much narrower thread pitch than most screws that size. None of the hardware stores in your area carry any screws in the right diameter and thread pitch, let alone a countersunk head. What do you do?

Well, at the time, I lived in Dayton, Ohio, one of the machining centers of the world. So I went across town to a company that manufactured screws and spent about US$5 to buy a pound of the right kind of screw (I think it was about half an inch diameter and half an inch long, with a humongous countersunk head). Here in Buenos Aires, I imagine I'd just be screwed.

Now, I don't know what kind of process you use to manufacture a big machine screw like that. Do you cold-roll the threads, or do you cut them with a die from a cold-forged blank cut from bar stock, or what? I'm sure that, whatever it is, it isn't cutting it out on a lathe, or they'd be sold by the screw, not by the pound.

But you can cut one on a lathe, except for the slot in the head, of course. If my local hardware store had had a fully automatic CNC lathe and the appropriate software, they could have punched in the numbers and cut me the correct screw in about five minutes. Maybe it would cost me US$10, but it would have saved me hours of shopping and driving.

(I probably could also have mail-ordered it from McMaster-Carr, although that still leaves me without a lawnmower for a few days.)

Custom automated manufacturing isn't competing economically just with mass production, even for clearly mass-producible goods like machine screws. It's competing with mass production, plus the costs of its supply-chain management and its wholesale and retail channels, plus the delays implicit in the same.

7 points by nickpinkston 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There's an obsession to own your own factory - which certainly is sexy, but this plan is pretty naive to anyone in manufacturing. If you want to prototype something - there are hackerspaces* and even TechShop - the later investing $8M and they definitely couldn't make all the systems for a car.

You can't ignore poor process fit - I.e. have fun using a MIG machine to weld your car together from sheet metal cheaper than GM can stamp it out. And you can't ignore raw materials - have fun casting your engine block from metal cans without any alloying tools / testing.

In reality, local production of many things (cars) won't work with today's tools, and a real mix of general purpose local shops and standardized / accessible large ones is the real "Industry 2.0" path.

* http://hackerspaces.org

Disclosure: I run CloudFab, a cloud-based manufacturing company.

4 points by sbierwagen 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Microfactories, eh?

See also:

  Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (2004)


  Advanced Automation For Space Missions (1980)


As for the idea, ehhhh. Obviously, companies have powerful incentives to reduce the price of manufacturing facilities, and yet they still cost millions of dollars.

Poor nations are not poor because the tools aren't cheap enough, but because of official corruption, or uncontrolled nationalization, or because the state can't maintain a monopoly on violence.

If they actually pull it off, it would be great, and might have some actual commercial applications, (like how the OLPC project resulted in the creation of the netbook concept, despite the OLPC itself being quite useless) but the stated use case just doesn't exist.

3 points by api 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Side note but: I've always thought that this kind of technology rather than rockets/spacecraft is the limiting factor preventing us from being able to realistically colonize another planet.

When you got to Mars, the Moon, etc., you'd have to be able to unpack and set up a reliable self-sustaining industrial infrastructure.

1 point by ChuckMcM 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been playing around in robotics for 25 years, and one of the things that is just as true today as it was in 1985 is that for some mechanical parts, motors, gears, and other linkages, there isn't any 'there' there. And so the ability to manufacture small lots of things is appealing on a variety of scales. That being said, I suspect this particular effort, like those before it, won't come to fruition. The reason is that manufacturing, while easy to comprehend, is insanely complex at the nuts and bolts level.

That being said I would love to see this be successful, I've got a simple idea for a widget and if I could get some time in a factory to make a few thousand of the structural bits to keep the costs down, I think I'd have a nice little niche product. While I'm sure I could get it done in China, I'm not interested in spending the time to learn the way to correctly bribe the necessary people to get the product I want.

Another risk of this capability is weapons production. Making guns is actually pretty easy (the California prison population displays great creativity in this area). So if you create a capability to make small quantities of 'hard metal' products I would expect that you would be visited often by folks who would want to insure you're not tempted to become profitable the 'easy' way.

I hope it works though, it would be great to have a field of small factories bloom.

1 point by billswift 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Their claim, "described best by Jane Jacobs, who claims that the highest level of evolution (like Maslow's Pyramid) for cities - is for those cities to return to local production (import substitution)." is false. Jane Jacobs described import replacing as a stage from importing to exporting. It keeps capital in the city by not using as much of it for imports, while developing manufacturing skills suitable for producing exports. Also, as she points out, it just changes the makeup of imports, you import the raw materials instead of the finished items.

Microfactories are a neat idea for several reasons, there is no need to misrepresent their benefits. I have been playing around with the idea since the late 1980s, the technology still has a good ways to go before it is practical though.

1 point by johnohara 7 hours ago 0 replies      
While I think I understand the localization goals of this project, I find it interesting that the project makes use of contributors from all over the world.

Like it or not, we are a diverse global community and we all benefit from each others skills and abilities.

Food, energy, replacement parts, etc., are all good localization goals. Locomotives, aircraft, sea vessels, automobiles, farm and construction equipment, and such, are a different matter.

1 point by samatman 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the same project earlier known as RepLab:


"Open Source Micro-Factory" is perhaps more descriptive, which is good for the goal of a Kickstarter campaign.

disclosure: I am one of the moderators of the RepLab list.

1 point by ph0rque 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if YC would consider a startup application, and if anybody here would be interested in starting up something, based on this tech.
2 points by mangirdas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Very good ideas, but too early.
RIP Digg techcrunch.com
70 points by taphangum 11 hours ago   38 comments top 18
34 points by ojbyrne 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't know how anyone takes Sarah Lacy seriously. The bombast, the myth-making and self congratulation, but most especially the complete disregard for any annoying facts that get in her way.

" And Digg? Well we got Digg exactly right. We said it could sell for between $150 million and $200 million, and over the next few months and years there were several negotiations and at least one solid offer in that exact range. But Digg " unlike peers like Flickr and Delicious" said no, and its best days seemed ahead of it."

Presumably she is talking about the google talks, because that would be the only "solid offer" in that exact range. And guess what, it was google who walked away according to Techcrunch.


_Exactly Right_

23 points by zaidf 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The entrepreneurs were the exact opposite of the kids today seduced by the promises of Y Combinator, easy cash of super angels and lure of TechCrunch headlines.

Is she talking about the same Digg that had the founder on the BusinessWeek cover?

Edit: Fascinating, this very writer of the blog post put him on the "controversial" cover. And then she wants to talk about a time when kids weren't seduced by "easy cash." Defies logic, really.

46 points by phatbyte 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one hoping for a "RIP Techcrunch" any time soon ?

She just completely throw Digg's work into the trash like useless fastfood plastic bag.

This is what happens when you don't know how to create anything productive in your life, and you spend your days talking sh about other's people work. I don't care if Digg is losing visitors, it was a new concept back then, and it was successful, show some respect for the people who are/were still working for it.

I'm seriously hating TC everyday a little more.

8 points by ilamont 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be an analysis of Digg's current problems, but seven out of ten paragraphs are about Sarah Lacy's BusinessWeek career, her book, her current whereabouts, etc.

Much of what she does have to say about Digg and the history of Web startups is questionable (for example, "The entrepreneurs were the exact opposite of the kids today seduced by the promises of Y Combinator, easy cash of super angels and lure of TechCrunch headlines. They were doing something that still stank of broken dreams and evaporated billions. And they were doing it for one simple reason: they couldn't stop themselves.")

Sometimes TechCrunch does well (particularly when it gets a real scoop) but "R.I.P. Digg" is poor, in my opinion.

13 points by joebananas 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Digg died long ago when the spammers won.
1 point by Aaronontheweb 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
I stopped using Digg a long time ago, but the nonchalant way Sarah throws 6 years of work from hard-working people at Digg really pisses me off.
11 points by budu3 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a shame we live in a society the likes to kick people when they are down. These are the same people who were cheer leading when digg was on a roll.
2 points by reduxredacted 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Digg was awesome.

I remember when I created an account on the site. A friend kicked a link my way from Fox News of all places ... that mentioned the site alongside Slashdot. In my job at the time, crowdsourced sites focused on technology were very useful. I left the site about a year after they decided to open up to general news. My fear was that it would become what many of the emerging Web 2.0 news aggregation sites became: a political activist haven. Within several months (not overnight as I had feared), it had ceased being a useful resource. The breaking point was when there was no way to configure my profile to filter out crap-political-commentary. I wrote them to have my account removed (something that couldn't be done with a few clicks at the time).

I had taken it out of my daily "sites to check on" in 2007, but after reading some commentary about how "all of the Web 2.0 sites had become BIASED! (OMG!)" in early 2009, I visited the front page (now without an account with filters setup). The top stories of the day were dominated by nearly everything that a former female candidate for vice president had made.

I love Hacker News because despite its growing popularity, it has maintained civility and avoided (most of the time) entries focused entirely on politics.

2 points by dr_ 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe it's also time to separate what is an interesting resource or tool from what is an interesting business.

150-200 million is a lot for a company that seems to have earned very little if anything. It's one thing for a Groupon to walk away from a deal, but Digg should have cashed out.

I'm hardly ever on Digg anymore, but I am Hacker News a lot. I'm not sure if Hacker News was ever constructed to be a business - seems like it was just designed to be an interesting place for people in the community to get together and share information - and that's just fine. Not every great idea is necessarily a great business.

3 points by Qz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand what the boob autographing picture has to do with the article whatsoever.
6 points by tomrod 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Poor Digg staff.

I hear Reddit is hiring engineers...

1 point by nethsix 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I agree that she probably tried to sensationalize it. However, it is still an insightful read about lessons that can be learnt from Digg, if you can hold your attention long enough and look past the tabloid journalism elements.
3 points by hammock 7 hours ago 2 replies      
What is with the photo chosen for this article? Some random dude signing a girl's chest?
1 point by motters 8 hours ago 0 replies      

I used Digg for a while, and it became apparent over time that the quality both of the news and also the comments was tanking. Once I discovered HN I stopped using Digg altogether.

3 points by quinndupont 9 hours ago 2 replies      
What's the exit strategy for Digg? With Kevin Rose out, but a lot of investment already in it, can they just shutter it and write it off?
1 point by protomyth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't help but think that starting a new website with the RSS that they removed wouldn't be such a bad idea. Keep running digg, but take all the ideas and stuff the current digg community hates and build a new site (with different theme/terminology obviously).
1 point by iphoneedbot 6 hours ago 1 reply      
IS there room for digg-like-sites that cater to specific verticals? For a while, it was trendy to do digg clones and now they have all disappeared- is voting based news site like digg still a good idea for news and information.
2 points by jgh 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Poor Twitter is getting all the blame from TechCrunch these days.
Richard Feynman: Magnets and Why Questions [video] hus.posterous.com
54 points by husein10 12 hours ago   16 comments top 7
5 points by bugsy 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I've seen this interview with Feynman before, it is very good. I've also seen the Insane Clown Posse video that mentions that they don't know how magnets work, and observed the backlash against them, that their video celebrates ignorance and so forth. My take is that those criticizing ICP are the ignorant anti-science ones.

I don't know how many physics or calculus classes ICP has taken, but let's assume the lyricist has a PhD in Physics. It's not an unreasonable assumption, to presume knowledge rather than ignorance.

I understand Maxwell's equations. I know what a dipole is and what flux is. Just this modest knowledge by itself is well beyond the educational attainment level of most ICP critics. This becomes rapidly clear when one attempts to discuss physics with them. That is not surprising, but it is surprising how many will criticize another for being ignorant when it is themselves who are ignorant. Maxwell's equations describe some relationships, but they do not tell us what magnetic fields really are. What is a magnetic field? No one really knows. We can describe with these equations what effects they produce and how magnetic and electric forces are interlinked. But what is really causing this stuff? What is it made of?

As Feynman says in the video, in iron you can line up the atoms so electrons spin in the same direction and thus so many induced small magnetic forces are aligned in one direction and thus amplified to the point they are noticeable, but what are these magnetic fields made of?

Nothing apparently, since they can propagate through a vacuum. But matter itself is made of bundles of these same e-m fields. In wave packets, they pretend to be something we like to call particles, which can travel through a vacuum as well but which don't really exist since they are made of waves which are nothing but vibrations. In the end there is nothing traveling through nothingness and all is nothing and no one knows anything. To those who understand physics, ICP comes across as pretty wise and observant. As Feynman says, "It is a very good question."

10 points by davej 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the mind of a brilliant educator at work. It would have been very easy for Feynman to give a scientifically literate answer but he realizes that there is no way to give an accessible explanation that doesn't fluff the details.

The following 'meta-answer' that Feynman provides is fascinating.

1 point by iwwr 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think Feynman's point is that there are topics of irreducible complexity where simplistic explanation actually do more harm than good. i.e. you can 'explain' magnetic fields in terms of rubber bands, but then you can't explain rubber bands in terms of e-m interactions.

When you start the second explanation, you have to re-explain magnetic fields, this time in terms of maths. So then, you may as well start off with the maths.

A less than inquisitive mind may be satisfied with the rubber band analogy and stop there, but someone like Feynman is not satisfied with a plain, non-inquisitive mind.

5 points by hackermom 8 hours ago 0 replies      
An interesting insight not so much in the workings of magnetics, but more so in Feynman's labyrinthine mind. This video should be tagged "psychology" :)
2 points by rubashov 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't see why the initial rejection of the question was necessary, or that he really has a much a point to make about "why" being an invalid question. All he had to do was begin explaining magnetic forces and say that if you don't get it you need more background.
4 points by Cococabasa 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like the answers to the question "Why?" are laid out like a fractal. It just keeps going...
1 point by abhayv 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It is a beautiful answer by Feynman
How a simple comment on Hacker News made me quit my job and launch a startup freshdesk.com
455 points by girishm 1 day ago   86 comments top 30
54 points by wensing 1 day ago 5 replies      
One word of caution--do not, I repeat do NOT, focus on price ("we are cheaper") as the main reason for people to use you. People who are "priced out" of other solutions still need to buy in to whatever you are doing, beyond price, or else you risk losing those customers to your competitors should your competitors offer a cheaper/simple plan.

You're off to a great start (I just signed up for the beta), but make sure you do the hard work of selecting your target customer ("who will we NOT serve?") and don't preach price--preach superior experiences.

24 points by mindcrime 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is one awesome story, congrats! I was especially struck by some of the stuff you said about product/market fit. To me, this bit is pure gold:

We started engaging with our prospects on what they were currently using and what problems they were facing. In many cases people were telling us clearly what they really wanted to see in their customer support software.

Yeah, that's the key, right? Actually engaging with the customers and finding out what problem they're really trying to solve. This cuts to the core of sgblank's Customer Development stuff and the whole Lean Startup movement.

We were surprised to see that a lot of what customers wanted were their core problems solved and not some fancy features of supporting customers from their Facebook wall or converting tweets into customer support tickets. While we understand that these are definitely the way of the future, many many customers do not need this today.

Heh, perfect example of how us techies can get caught upin the fancy, glitzy, "cool" stuff and maybe not realize that customers are not so concerned about that, as they are getting work done. Really, really good reminder to focus on the customer's needs!

Another important learning for us was that customers did not want to be dealing with separate invoices for their helpdesk, their contact management software, for their customer feedback forums and customer satisfaction surveys. The SMB customer wants one invoice and as much functionality as possible in the customer relationship management solution.

That's gold too... It reminds me that sometimes the "problem" isn't so much a technical problem, as a structural problem with the existing business arrangements. Wanting one invoice instead of 3 or 4 is a wonderful example of a problem an entrepreneur can solve, and it doesn't have anything to do with product features or technology. Reading this is like having a glass of cold water thrown in your face (well, for some of us!)

We also identified underserved market segments (companies with multi-brand support requirements) and segments which were getting priced out because the current solutions were expensive.
So we reprioritized our feature set to what we thought is the ideal product/market fit for us. This means that things like Twitter and Facebook integration can wait. But things like multiple support emails or support for SLAs and Business hours are in.

Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing such details about your experience. I think a lot of people can learn something useful from your experience. You've certainly given me some thoughts to chew on.

23 points by chime 1 day ago 2 replies      
Zoho is most probably the best known tech startup from India that isn't in the typical call-center or medical transcription business. As key Zoho employees go on to build in their own companies, this could bring SV/YC culture in India where success does not mean finding a big check-writer from US but rather building products that users from around the world can use and buy. Keep up the good work FreshDesk.
6 points by credo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Congratulations on the launch (and welcome to HN, since I see that your account is just 3 hours old :)

That said, your post suggests that you acquired domain knowledge at Zendesk, then decided to use that knowledge to immediately and directly compete with Zendesk with price as your only differentiatior.

I suspect that the folks at Zendesk aren't going to sue you on any non-compete or trade-secret agreements, but I'm curious to know if you think that your competition raises any ethical concerns or not.

[edit] Thanks for the correction, Aditya and apologies Girish for reading the post too fast and confusing Zoho with Zendesk

17 points by guylhem 1 day ago 5 replies      
Beautiful story. The way you listed to the market, built the right product in the right moment - just perfect.

One think caught my eye: $160 for your office space?? From what I've seen on http://blog.freshdesk.com/freshdesk-gets-a-fresh-office it looks very decent. Your burn rate is also quite good.

How easy is it for a non indian to start a company in India?

10 points by luckystrike 1 day ago 1 reply      

  Now we have a team of six people - (3 developers, 1 UI/UX designer, 
1 QA / Customer support engineer and me as - the Product Manager / CEO)

It would be great if you could throw some light on how you went about building this team and your hiring process. In my experience, it ain't easy here in India to find quality talent willing to work in an early stage startup whose product is still not out in the market.

Did they come through the connections made during your Zoho stint?

All the best for this venture!

4 points by retube 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a great post. But I'm posting here to gripe: why oh why do so many blogs never have a direct link to their business front page? It's always to the blog front page. You see a blog article posted, interesting read, the next thing you want to do is visit the front page. grrrr.
4 points by vibhavs 1 day ago 1 reply      
The name is a little too close to ZenDesk, isn't it? Especially since the two companies are in the same market.
3 points by OmarIsmail 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have to say that your post on how to get a corporation in the US is fantastic. I'm sure there's a lot of information out there, and it's something many people have done before, but the fact that you laid it out extremely clearly and gave very relevant contact information is amazing. Really great stuff.
3 points by cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great focus on MVP and a lean team. Designing a usable service for outsourced "enterprisey" software is challenging because your customers (a company's HR dept, in this case?) are not your users (support desk employees and the company's own customers). These three sets of people will all have different feature requirements.
2 points by evancaine 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your design looks great. You mentioned that getmefast did it and I had a look at their portfolio which isn't as strong in my opinion as your design and UI. Did you UI designer have to change what they came up with?
1 point by roadnottaken 1 day ago 0 replies      
great story. FYI - the mouse-overs for the 'Premium' price plan are broken in both Chrome and Firefox for me (Win7). they get cut off at the edge of the white-border.
1 point by dedward 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good Luck..... I guess this sort of explains what's up with AdventNet and it's quirks too... all the good people left?
2 points by sushilchoudhari 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome story Girish, very inspiring and down to earth!Loved the simplicity and the way you approached product market fit! We as tecchies more often than not, deprioritize the part of finding out what the customer really wants. Thanks for sharing and Good Luck!
2 points by kirpekar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Congratulations and nice write-up!

Can I ask how the startup is doing financially?

1 point by mdolon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pretty inspiring, though I hope you add a live demo to your main site (maybe to handle support? :). I know as a potential customer, I'm hesitant to pay for anything I haven't seen and interacted with.
1 point by daimyoyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post. Reading HN is better motivation than any cheesy book on the market. I love HN. :)
1 point by stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad to hear it. A great example of how sharing information, once again, helps people to take bold action.
1 point by maheshs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some UI issue while mouse over SSL on Firefox 4
1 point by MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congratulations! Makes me want to do the same thing.
1 point by themonk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats Girish.

Unrelated question: as of now your post is number one on hacker news, would you like to share what does it mean in term of traffic on your blog?

2 points by eaxitect 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've found it very inspirational and informative...
2 points by psyren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Doing this right now, have just submitted for YCS2011 :-)
1 point by mtogo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Saw the word "cloud", scrolled down, yep-- business guy.
2 points by anand_21 1 day ago 0 replies      
thanks for putting a inspirational example for Indian startups
1 point by gopi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very inspiring...Goodluck Girish!
1 point by Straubiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
awesome story! Very inspiring
-2 points by victorantos 1 day ago 0 replies      
is it worth it?
-2 points by Candlemoat 1 day ago 0 replies      
You lost me when you said you liked the idea of 99designs.
-2 points by Nugem 1 day ago 1 reply      
The word STARTUP is starting to SUCK the life out of me. It is now as bad as "epic" and "fail" with the word being used in 1/8th of every headline on HN. THANKS!!!!!!
Don't Bet Big. Little Bets Are The Ones That Turn Into Billion-Dollar Ideas techcrunch.com
64 points by edw519 14 hours ago   19 comments top 9
13 points by Eliezer 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The title could not possibly be more wrong. I don't usually presume to speak for Peter Thiel, but pretty damned sure this is his viewpoint as well. Not just Silicon Valley but human civilization needs more people building real companies that generate large amounts of new economic value and push the borders of what we do with technology, because five-dollar iPhone apps and ad-supported blogs are not going to sustain human progress or the growth of the world economy.

There's something to be said for betting on many different people, but someone has to be willing to bet large amounts on the ones who get early traction; and if you want a billion dollars you should be making those bets on many people with big ideas, not little ones.

1 point by buckwild 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, as an avid poker player and sports better, I only bet big on sure things and bet small on the things I think won't pay out.
15 points by jbarciauskas 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Obviously this is a post begging for counter-examples, but I'll refer to Joel Spolsky's strategy letter "Ben and Jerry's versus Amazon" for a better articulation of how there are many roads to a billion dollars: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000056.html Some markets just lend themselves to land-grabs.
8 points by jdp23 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn't begin with an ingenious idea."

Oh please. They began with an ingnenious idea and then had more ingenious ideas.

4 points by csel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the article hit the nail on an important element - Vision.

Yes, Larry and Sergey created something simple. But they had a vision what they want to do with it and the potential of what they were working on.
Same thing with Zuckerberg. Yes, he created a simple networking site for Harvard and but he also had a vision. Most of them were recorded in his diary, i.e photo sharing etc.

If you create a small product without a vision, it will remain a small product and may not go anywhere.
But a small product with a great vision have the potential to take you to the next level.
Now a huge clunky product with an enormous vision? That is a recipe for disappointment.

2 points by wazoox 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This interesting blog post mentions this too (namely don't invest more than 2% of your wealth at once):


5 points by codeslush 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I was kind of surprised the Groupon story wasn't mentioned in this article.
2 points by ignifero 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't do this, don't do that, do this, do the other. I say have fun and cross your fingers.
1 point by fedd 9 hours ago 0 replies      
damn, when asked for a vision for my small project, being convinced by their websites claims that they search for a billion dollar opportunity, i describe the mass adoption and the world conquering. i'm doomed to stay unfunded :(
       cached 20 March 2011 04:02:01 GMT