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France outlaws hashed passwords... slashdot.org
101 points by Tharkun 2 hours ago   72 comments top 21
10 points by ErrantX 1 hour ago 0 replies      
French politics simply does not understand the internet. And they are uninterested in privacy or security. They "lost it" in my eyes with their LOPPSI internet filtering laws (which they heavily promoted with nonsense about child sex offenders) [1]

This is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_by_country#...

7 points by perlgeek 1 hour ago 2 replies      
If this ridiculous law goes into effect, and I were to operate a service in France, I'd still keep the hashed passwords in the database.

Then log the plaintext passwords to a different file, encrypted with a public key. The corresponding private key would live on a separate machine (without internet access), and would only be used in cases where it's inevitable.

3 points by alexandros 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
So that would mean that using ready-made software that uses proper hashing (Simple Machines Forum comes to mind) would become illegal in France.. Interesting times.
3 points by dexen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The basic question is, does the law require giving authorities the password verbatim, or rather, giving them access to account's data (perhaps including fake authentication as the user, but without use of user's password)? There may well be mis-understanding in the early reporting.

If password verbatim is required, well, game over, the law will be shot down in record time. If, on the other hand, merely access to the account is required, that's just a small feature to be implemented -- ``allow accounts of authorities authenticating as any plain user without users' passwords'' (which is still terribly bad, open to abuse etc.).

In any case, the law (as reported in the article) sounds like a failure of democracy to me -- not something one wants his representative to vote for.

6 points by yannickmahe 1 hour ago 5 replies      
One of the benefits of being in the EU is that there is a higher authority than the government who can overturn stuff like that. I'm not a legal expert, but seeing as how the latest constitutionnal questions in France went, I'm pretty sure this decree will not stand.
5 points by michael_dorfman 1 hour ago 6 replies      
That's a pretty bad misreading of the situation. There's nothing in the law, as far as I know, outlawing hashed passwords-- just that the passwords need to be able to be handed over to the proper authorities upon request. A hashed password should work just fine, as long as law enforcement can use that to gain access to the system.

In short: there's plenty of reasons to be against this law without constructing new outrages.

6 points by dabeeeenster 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I assumed they had outlawed simple hashed passwords as too insecure, but it goes the other way!


9 points by wladimir 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Crazy, stupid law. Reading this, I kind of feel ashamed to be in Europe with them.
10 points by piaskal 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Everyone seems to be overlooking the privacy issues here.
The main problem for me would be that even after I delete my account on some website they will still keep all of my data for one year.
6 points by gokhan 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What if the site is hosted outside France?
1 point by praptak 1 hour ago 1 reply      
User's actual password is of very limited use to enforcement officials. Just provide the short "login history" to the user at each login and they'll have a chance to notice strange accesses of their account.
2 points by eru 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
What do you do, if your users don't have a password? (E.g. public key login of ssh?)
1 point by tlrobinson 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
We just need a couple very large web services to block France until they realize how stupid this is.

Google, can you take one for the team? Thanks.

1 point by geuis 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Please link to the original story. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12983734
1 point by shabda 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Doesnt this law in essence ban Wordpress, Django, Drupal and any CMS/Framework with a sane password mechanism?
1 point by skalpelis 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Does it really say you cannot at all store hashed passwords, or does it mean just that you have to give the authorities the password for a user account if they ask you to? After all, if they want a password that can access a user's account, they could get that but that doesn't mean that it has to be the exact same password that the user uses, does it?
1 point by ricotijsen 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
it's a misunderstanding, they meant 'haché'
1 point by colinhowe 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
I guess the intent behind this law is to make it easy to get to the other accounts on different services that a user might have due to people using the same password for lots of things.

So, upon receiving a request for this you could generate a random password and give that to them (as well as set the user account to this password). They have no way of proving that this isn't their password :)

2 points by ichilton 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
The irony is that you could seriously argue that it should be illegal to host a site which DOESN'T hash the passwords!
2 points by evanlong 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think Jeff Atwood is pounding his head against a wall about now: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/09/youre-probably-stor...
1 point by contactdick 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wander if companies like google will soon start offering services where you can choose what countries they store your data in.
Chinese Infinite Magical Hard-Drive jitbit.com
30 points by jitbit 37 minutes ago   3 comments top 2
1 point by pmjordan 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
A couple of years ago, some USB sticks with a similar "flaw" made it onto the European market. The capacity difference wasn't quite as drastic as this example, which almost makes matters worse: you have to fill it with e.g. 1GB of data and read it back before you notice anything.

My friend said they're still trying to figure out how did the Chinese do that. Because the drive reports "correct" file sizes and disk-capacity. And the "overwriting" doe not touch the other files present on the drive.

I suspect they treat the first N megabytes correctly to preserve file system data structures. For anything above that (the remaining "capacity"), they just let it loop by cutting off the top bits of the offset.

1 point by makeramen 16 minutes ago 1 reply      
Anyone have experience writing or know the source of the software (firmware) that does this? If not just for the hax, it would make an epic April fools joke.
Before I Die... candychang.com
244 points by Dysiode 8 hours ago   38 comments top 18
19 points by corin_ 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Photo #5 shows a man writing "tried for pi" and I badly wanted to know what the ending was. Hilarious that it was "tried for piracey" (as shown in #9), given he is genuinely dressed as a pirate.

Awesome overall idea, too.

11 points by iamwil 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It's not inspiring unless it moves people to action. I hope those that wrote on there are on their way to figuring out some way to make their dreams and goals come true.
8 points by staunch 7 hours ago 1 reply      
...begin receiving life extension therapy? ;-)
3 points by mgkimsal 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Found this - not quite as good, but lots of pics: http://www.beforeidieiwantto.org/usa_other.html
2 points by jrockway 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone has hopes and aspirations. What's troubling is realizing that you have an aspiration that you will never be able to fulfil.

I want to fly a fully-loaded 777. I want to sleep with every member of my favorite all-female band. These things are never going to happen. Does that mean my life is a failure?

8 points by Kilimanjaro 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm, great idea for a web project that can go viral real quick.
4 points by sagarun 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Another interesting social project from the same person http://candychang.com/post-it-notes-for-neighbors-2/
1 point by InfinityX0 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The less I sit and ponder about the meaning of life and what I'm doing and what to do in the future, the happier I am.

Before I die, I don't want to contemplate what I want to do before I die. Not to say I'm not achievement-oriented, because I am, I just associate "before I die" type statements with similar "what if?" personalities - although obviously "what if?" is a concrete statement while "before I die" still leaves room for change, which can inspire hope - although it most often won't inspire action.

7 points by s00pcan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the least scary way you could write "Die" on a wall 81 times.
5 points by zarprey 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What a great use of a neglected space. Really inspiring project. It'd be great to do a timelapse of people writing on the wall. The variety of people would be interesting to see.
2 points by nhangen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic project, and it's also a fascinating social experiment. Many people talk of changing bad situations, but this is a case of using art and engineering to make a solid attempt.
2 points by wicknicks 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Totally liked the "Before I Die... Make a difference" message.
3 points by spencerfry 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This is genius. Need this in every city.
1 point by rokhayakebe 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I found this project a few weeks back and loved it. Almost posted it here. I would love to see a web version of it or at least aggregating tweets with a hashtag like #b4id
2 points by gcr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exactly the kind of thing my art professor would love. Interesting!
2 points by mrleinad 4 hours ago 2 replies      
How long 'til someone creates a cool site with this idea? I bet less than a week..
1 point by hammock 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I did come across this a few days ago and thought it was cool. Would not have expected something like this to make the front page of HN.
1 point by testingisageek 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Wish we had this in our city pluse I like the idea the othe guy said about having a time lapse that would be really neat great work.
WebGL + Node.js + WebSockets = A Web Technology Perfect Storm travisglines.com
62 points by travisglines 4 hours ago   42 comments top 12
22 points by jessedhillon 3 hours ago 4 replies      
One of these is not like the others: node.js is a nice, progressive step forward, not a leap that is discontinuous with what preceded it like WebGL and WebSockets. And certainly, node.js did not enable this chat example to happen -- not in the same way that WebGL or WebSockets did.

<rant>I am getting a little tired with the node.js cheerleading on HN. I've tried it and I don't see it as a huge leap forward from what can be done with Twisted + Python, or Go, or many other solutions. The major drawback is that you're writing in Javascript -- and maybe I have been doing something wrong, but any sufficiently complex JS app tends towards callback spaghetti, in my experience. (And I do like writing JS)</rant>

2 points by kaib 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
WebSockets are really cool but we found the browser implementations unstable enough that we switched back to XHR for Tinkercad. Especially since the secure implementations were super shaky and we run all our traffic over SSL.

We also use Go and not Node.js for the backend so the only thing qualifying us for this perfect storm is WebGL.. :-)

4 points by nkassis 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah I tend to agree that the in the last year and half web technologies have exploded in capabilities. And looking at what was traditionally only possible on the desktop, that category is slowly starting to dwindle.

Part of my job has been to remake visualization software (for brain imaging research) on the web and aside from some really heavy stuff, WebGL has served me well. Javascript engines are getting so fast, I haven't had problem computation heavy tasks that much. Most of the time it's my code that's shitty.

Now my most limiting factor is the damn slow upload speeds I get in canada. If only I could get 2-3 Mbps up, I could do some great stuff.

4 points by dshankar 4 hours ago 0 replies      

Very cool demo built by Travis, 3D WebGL chat

2 points by drivebyacct2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That was far too amusing. I found it interesting that we grouped on one spot on the monolith. I ventured out away from everyone twice, once apparently with the same person.
2 points by mcantelon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the demo. Reminds me of Swarmation... people dropped into a new world there they have to figure out the rules and how to interact.
2 points by bensummers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a secure version of WebSockets yet?


2 points by wh-uws 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Great demo but you should have a warning because of that one color shifting block in the middle


or make it not do that

3 points by bad_user 3 hours ago 5 replies      
On the latest version of Chrome / Ubuntu Linux, doesn't work for me.
3 points by rachelbythebay 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This turns my laptop into a space heater. Nice, but not the sort of thing I'd want to run for extended periods of time.
2 points by daveelkan 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the demo for it's thought provoking stab in the brain. I love three.js and can't wait to tie it into my own app.

re: WebGL games. The clients will all be "open source" (as they're javascript). What effect do you all think that'll have on the future web-based gaming industry?

3 points by lux 3 hours ago 2 replies      
That demo is good fun!
A web startup, circa 2004 skrenta.com
15 points by whalesalad 1 hour ago   discuss
Is gravity not actually a force? Forcing theory to meet experiments arstechnica.com
51 points by lotusleaf1987 5 hours ago   24 comments top 6
3 points by haberman 1 hour ago 3 replies      
I really don't understand the question "is gravity a force?" It reminds me of the Feynman story:

    > "Say, Pop, I noticed something. When I pull the wagon,
> the ball rolls to the back of the wagon. And when I'm
> pulling it along and I suddenly stop, the ball rolls
> to the front of the wagon. Why is that?
> "That, nobody knows," he said. "The general principle is
> that things which are moving tend to keep on moving, and
> things which are standing still tend to stand still, unless
> you push them hard. This tendency is called 'inertia,' but
> nobody knows why it's true." Now, that's a deep
> understanding. He didn't just give me the name.

I don't get why this is "a deep understanding." Why should someone have to have some deep reason for believing that something at rest won't spontaneously begin moving? Should you also need a profound explanation for why things don't spontaneously change their mass or sprout kangaroo legs and start singing "La Bamba?"

And what does it mean to ask if "gravity" is not actually a "force?" The idea of a "force" is just an abstraction we use to describe our observations. How is it a deep question to ask whether we give gravity the label of "force" or not?

6 points by fleitz 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought Einstein said that over 100 years ago. From my understanding gravity is not a force but a curvature of space time, did I misread something?

The really interesting bit about black holes and universes encoding information on the surface is this: The Chandrasekhar limit radius for a mass equal to the weight of the universe, once you figure that out, look up the best known estimate for the radius of the universe.

4 points by SeanLuke 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> it has not gone through peer review

I think this is really all we need to know.

2 points by mrcodydaniel 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Redefining the laws of physics in terms of information theory is not new, but so far as I know hasn't been tried and expressed well with gravity.

Certainly all of QM can be done in terms of information, and I think Seth Lloyd is working on this right now. Cool to see a new take on gravity though.

Also, it's neat to think that black holes are deterministic from their surface, though it's sort of required if you force thermo on it. After all, if the information's beyond the event horizon, it's not really in our universe, and thus violates thermo assumptions about closed systems. Sort of a case of mashing theory against the universe.


-4 points by zeynel1 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Gravity is not a force; gravity is a hoax. I am glad that physics establishment finally is realizing this: http://science1.wordpress.com/2008/12/25/dear-physicist/
-2 points by d_r 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This won't help me learn a new technology, build my startup quicker, or even introduce me to others who are trying.

But it is pseudo-science babble that I might find in an e-mail forward.

Not Hacker News.

(Hit my 365 days yesterday so I am officially "allowed" to complain.)

C Craft: C is the desert island language. stanford.edu
147 points by nkurz 9 hours ago   63 comments top 12
40 points by angusgr 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm deeply conflicted about this article because I agree with many of its premises. For instance: that C is superior to full-blown C++, that object-oriented programming is no panacea, that simplicity is good.

I have serious concerns, however, especially with the first page and the first few chapters.

- They support the biases of the myopic programmer who believes that now he or she knows C, they know everything one must know about programming. I know that isn't the entire point, but you can get that from the article and I have met such programmers. You don't want to work with them, even on projects written in C.

- The "C Craft" section largely describes hacks to work around shortcomings in the syntax or semantics of C.

- The languages used for "vs" comparison are: FORTRAN, C++, Java. Fish in a barrel, anyone? Haskell, APL & J are presented as curios. Python is only mentioned in passing, as an inferior choice to Haskell for rapid prototyping of mathematically-oriented code.

- Go is presented as the "better C", which is encouraging but I'd feel more encouraged if the author showed they were properly familiar with some additional modern programming languages and the cases in which one might use them.

- The assertion that "you can write object-oriented code in C" is accurate, although I think a better point to stress is "you can write mostly-well-modularised code in C, and that's what you want a lot of the time."

- The author also ignores the reality that object-oriented C really only scales up to a certain amount of object-orientatedness, and then it becomes very unwieldly if you are not very careful. Unwieldy at a scale where using a small subset of C++ (ie "C with classes") would remove the overhead, improve the code's signal-to-noise ratio, and still not bring in most of the "bad C++" that the author is talking about.

- The author seems to have chosen to define certain terms as they see fit. For instance, simplicity is defined in terms of brevity & terseness but the example used to prove the point is that Eiffel requires "character" and "integer" whereas C only requires "char" and "int".

For an alternative point of view on what constitutes "brevity" and "simplicity", see the common C idioms for filtering or mapping any variable sized data structure. The only time it becomes less brief is if you rewrite it in C++ w/ STL or Boost. ;)

- It's also telling that in Chapter 2 the Fibonacci counterpoint to Java is in Haskell, not C. That's because a full C program would look pretty similar to the Java program quoted, albeit without the sore-thumb of wrapping it all in a class .

Anyhow, I should quit ranting but IMHO (a) you should know C, (b) you should respect C but (c) you should know some other languages and use C only when you actually need to.

(c) may not apply if you're a super-whizz genius C programmer, some of those people seem like they can carry off ridiculous use cases without making horrible messes. Most of us are not those people. ;)

1 point by cafard 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Desert island language, as in "like trying to build a hut, and manage your hunting and gathering with the Swiss Army knife that happened to be in your pocket"?

I agree that for Torvalds work it is the only sane choice. But I'm not writing kernels.

1 point by nadam 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
It says:

"In my Eiffel days, I was encouraged to write "integer", not "int", "character", not "char", and so on. I believe Java encourages this practice too."

1. No Java uses char, int, and so on.

2. No, C is absolutely not concise even compared to Java. At least how I write Java code.

Look at this Java method:

String strangeConcat(String str1, String str2) {
return str1.substring(0, str1.length() - 1) + str2.substring(1, str2.length());

Is it really more concise in C? How do you tell the caller to free the memory of the returned string?

And if you compare C to Ruby, Python, Scala, Clojure etc... then it is no question that C is not a concise language for most tasks.

7 points by Groxx 9 hours ago 4 replies      
>In my Eiffel days, I was encouraged to write "integer", not "int", "character", not "char", and so on. I believe Java encourages this practice too. Supposedly clarity is maximized. But how can this be if we do the opposite when we speak? Do you say “taxi cab”, or “taximeter cabriolet”? Redundant utterances are tiresome and worse still, obscure the idea being expressed.

I see this argument a lot, and they strike me as people complaining because they don't use tools their language provides.

Typedefs are the answer to excessive name length, and they're nearly everywhere. Just create a couple typedef files, and import them as needed - future programmers get the full names easily, while you can program in your pseudo-K version of C for maximum keyboard efficiency. I have a handful of such files, they're endlessly useful - why write `Pop_froM_lIsT_WhIch_COntaiNs_speCiFik_type_X`, doing battle with naming-scheme-X that only employee-Y uses (and their associated spelling errors) when you can do so once, and write `pop` from then on, unambiguously?

The upside of typedefs for this comparison is that they're precisely what we do with spoken language - nobody knew what a "taxi cab" was until someone told them it the shorter version of "taximeter cabriolet", or until the full phrase was well enough known that it could be inferred accurately by the average person.

12 points by enneff 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's nice to see that the things he describes as C's greatest virtues are the same things we carried over into the design of Go. (http://golang.org/)
9 points by gcv 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I love the link to OTCC (the Obfuscated Tiny C Compiler, http://bellard.org/otcc/). It frankly blows my mind.
5 points by onan_barbarian 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There are some reasonable things here, but:

"Lumping together function pointers that operate on the same data structure is essentially object-oriented programming" is unbelievably contentious regardless of which of the various definitions of OOP you follow.

4 points by d_r 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Another excellent resource (a Git tutorial) by the same author: http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~blynn/gitmagic/
2 points by tptacek 8 hours ago 1 reply      
You can easily beat "static const volatile signed long long int bar" with a function pointer (and without the unrealistic redundant indirection of "int const ... const foo"). Start with static const volatile signed long long int (*foo)(static const volatile signed long long int bar). :)
1 point by dasil003 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Just the notion of a single desert island language is a bit humorous, but if I had to choose I'd pick something meatier like Haskell; and not out of lack of fondness for C.
1 point by granite_scones 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The "Power" section made me think of Blub. http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html
0 points by Ruudjah 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> Not only is C easy for humans to understand,

Is he being funny or serious?

IKEA's delayed gratification results in 60% impulse buying wsj.com
38 points by mceachen 4 hours ago   12 comments top 4
8 points by ugh 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Aren't IKEAs linear? I never had any problems navigating an IKEA since there are only two directions to walk to. There are shortcuts (paths which obviously don't look like the main path) but I always ignore those (except for one " I think every IKEA has a shortcut right at the very beginning that takes you to the end) and just walk on the main path.

I guess my tip for everyone lost in IKEA would be to always stay on the main path and to never use the shortcuts.

I actually prefer this linear design to the completely non-linear designs of many other furniture stores I have been to. I certainly want to look at everything when I'm at IKEA.

3 points by henrikschroder 1 hour ago 0 replies      
One benefit of living in the holy mother land of IKEA is that we have stores that are from before their discovery of the one true store layout, and they are much easier to navigate because you have more freedom to go between sections.

That said, watch the video in the article, it shows how "brilliant" the standard layout is, and how it forces you into a state of mind that makes you shop more.

1 point by Maro 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I hate the IKEA layout, so I shop at the competition (here in Europe it's KIKA).
1 point by zheng 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The first thing that I thought of was "hasn't this guy and his wife heard of cell phones?"
The One-second War (What Time Will You Die?) acm.org
44 points by yarapavan 5 hours ago   11 comments top 7
8 points by ars 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think unixtime should run with no discontinuities, and leap seconds should be handled just like timzezones are: Have a table with leap seconds, and consult it as necessary. Don't change the internal clock - only change the display.

i.e. instead of storing UTC in the clock, store TAI, and calculate UTC (or local time) from it.

That would also work well with his proposal of scheduling leap seconds 20 years in the future, and without messing with the length of a day in calculations, or having discontinuities.

5 points by daniel02216 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's bad enough that the ACM charges $25 for papers that can be legally found by Googling the name of the paper, but they also can't keep their website alive during a Hacker Newsing at 3AM.

Is there a cached copy somewhere else? Google doesn't have one.

9 points by ambiguity 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Java fail.

Here is a link to the PDF version:

1 point by edoloughlin 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
The “programmers should fix their past
mistakes for free” argument is amusing when you consider that the leap second concept is nothing more than an hack.
2 points by zheng 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Very informative article. I've only ever run up against this issue when dealing with age, funny enough. It does seem like a hard problem, but I think I fall with him on the "start doing it right" side. Time stuff has to change by 2038 anyways...
1 point by mooism2 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What is this "interval time" he refers to, and how does it differ from wallclock time?
1 point by udoprog 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Date and time representation has always provoked an incredibly uncomfortable itch in me. But I've accepted the fact that represented time will never be exact.

However, by just using relative system times and language specific time/date procedures, there is a good chance of future proofing, no matter the outcome of this.

Reduce ajax requests to one-line with jquery-ahm jqueryahm.com
19 points by jimsteinhart 3 hours ago   4 comments top 3
10 points by vmind 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This just looks like a great way to make your back-end depend on your front-end. AJAX calls are usually best served in an API like manner (here's some data, do what you like). This lets you iterate on the client without messing with the server, which this would destroy. If you have an application style client, you're also probably making the same data requests for different purposes.

Granted it's quite neat, but it seems like a bad idea. I think too many libraries recently are focusing on length of code to the detriment of good principles and clarity.

3 points by BasDirks 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'd like to keep my callbacks where they belong.
1 point by denysonique 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Ahm! Looking forward to a Rails Gem hack of this plugin.
Goodbye Outlook - Gmail now lets you paste images directly from clipboard beerpla.net
46 points by archon810 5 hours ago   29 comments top 9
1 point by ahrjay 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Here's some interesting observations, this will work on any document that is in designMode or any element that has contenteditable attribute.

Firefox doesn't have the clipboardData interface like IE, Chrome and Safari have so it must be built into Firefox. From a quick look it seems like it doesn't expose the stream data to JavaScript which is unfortunate, I would love for this to be available.

5 points by zavulon 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Half a year ago, I would've pumped my fist and screamed "Hell yes". That was the biggest feature I've missed in Outlook.

However, Gmail has been so excruciatingly slow that a month ago, I've switched back to Outlook (Outlook for Mac 2011), and haven't looked back since. It feels really good to use an email client again that responds to what I do instantenously. Web email clients still have a way to go.

6 points by blub 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Native e-mail clients still have the advantage of working with any e-mail server, including those that don't serve ads based on analyzing my e-mails.

The whole local e-mail folder can be backed up to your favourite online backup if you feel that it's not safe to keep just a local copy.

2 points by tapp 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone here confirm this is actually working for them? (Paste an image from the clipboard, send the email, check that the inline image was actually attached)

It appears to me that FF4 is merely displaying the clipboard image in the rteditor in draft mode, but it is not actually attached to the email when sent.

1 point by lini 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you sure this is a Gmail feature and not a Firefox feature? I have been able to paste images into RTEs (rich text editors) since Firefox 3. If the image comes from the clipboard, Firefox will add the image data inline. It works in all RTEs I use - e.g. http://ckeditor.com/demo , http://demos.telerik.com/aspnet-ajax/editor/examples/default...

Since the src of the image is inline, you can save/send it as part of the HTML output of the editor - no attachments or separate upload is needed.

2 points by aymeric 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Finally! Now my screenshot workflow is down to two steps:

Win+S (OneNote screenshot feature)

1 point by rdamico 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a big step forward for Gmail. Now if they could just add some simple mail merge functionality, that would be another super-useful feature.
0 points by ronnier 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Is not working for me. I also use Google for my domain, if that matters.
0 points by mitali 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This has been a Gmail Labs for a long while... I have it enabled for all 3 of my gmail accounts for a while now.
How a Hacker News post turned into $1.8 million funding for PHP Fog (audio) techzinglive.com
20 points by jv22222 3 hours ago   8 comments top 3
4 points by davidw 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Anyone care to sum up what they have to say?
6 points by adib 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice entreporn!
1 point by Phr34Ck 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm weeping. I had this idea around an year ago and I didn't do anything about it even though I kept thinking about it for around 2 months.

You have done what I couldn't do, congratulations :). I have signed up and hopefully I get to test the platform soon.

Best of luck.

Jason Fried: Why I Run a Flat Company inc.com
400 points by duck 19 hours ago   166 comments top 37
12 points by jwr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started companies that grew from 1 to 50 people. I find that business advice from 37signals is often quite naïve and I hope people treat it as a data point, not as a set of guidelines.

Managing a company below 25 people is relatively easy. You can still talk to most people every day, you can gather them all in one room, information flow is unrestricted. But staying under 25 people means for most companies that you are stifling growth.

Once you get above the magical 25 people threshold, you'll find that it is simply impossible to manage the company effectively using a completely flat structure. Also, you'll discover a lot of new problems you never suspected existed before: you'll need internal PR, for instance, as people in one part of the company won't know what people in other parts are doing. There will be myths to dispel, growing animosities, lack of direction. And there is simply no way you can keep your pretty flat structure with 45 people.

I know that 37signals' advice resonates with people. They are the cool kids. But keep in mind they are an exceptional company, in every sense of the word.

26 points by tptacek 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This really resonated for me because we have almost exactly the same company dynamics at play (we're of roughly the same size).

I'm not sure we have similar answers, but one response to the problem of not being able to afford people who don't do real work is to make sure everyone is doing real work. We're primarily a services firm, and everybody in that org, including Dave, our President, is billable. It's something I tell people in interviews, and that I'm sort of proud to be able to say; everyone's grounded in the actual work that our actual people are actually doing for actual clients.

In that spirit, one way to address this problem might be to have team leads instead of managers.

I feel like Joel wrote about this a few years ago too, and while I'm probably wrong about this, off the top of my head it feels like their answer to this is that when they have too many senior people, they think about new products. Isn't the highest level on their comp ladder (not a fan of that thing) reserved for people who can run products?

Would love to hear more about what people in the 20-40 employee bracket are doing here.

53 points by mhp 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Fog Creek and 37Signals are probably more alike than either of us would care to admit (ha!) and I could see Joel writing a very similar article a few years ago when we had 20some people at the company. But what works there, or at FC, is not a one size fits all answer.

Having managers when there are 10 people are at your company makes no sense. The hierarchy starts out flat, you add a few more people and you're at 20, and the idea of making someone a manager seems like a waste and something a 'BigCo' would do. "We need people who get stuff done, not people who sit around doing nothing but managing", you think. Then you get to 50 people and everything breaks down. You wonder why people are frustrated they can't get things done, while other people are doing things that embarrass your company or compete with other things you are doing. And you realize your company isn't a special little gem that is wholly unlike every other company in existence. You need management.

Just make sure you give the devs a professional ladder and compensation structure that doesn't involve moving to management, because managing isn't something everyone is good at or even wants to do. And make sure that management knows their job is a support role to the people at the company who are making things happen, not the other way around.

8 points by ChuckMcM 14 hours ago 6 replies      
"Even as we've grown, we've remained a lean organization. We do not have room for people who don't do the actual work."

That is a priceless comment. It exposes Jason's huge blind spot. Worse, it is on this undefended flank that great future pain may be inflicted. I look forward to the post-learning article.

The underlying premise/assumption is that a 'manager' is not only not doing 'the' work, but they aren't really doing 'any' work. Its a very common meme in engineers, "The company makes money on the code I write, it makes no money at all on this guy telling me what do, it just costs them money."

Let's reason about this using a fairly simple analogy. We will start by positing that we are all rats in a maze. Our maze is, unfortunately, filled with rat dung. We further stipulate that walking on dung would kill us so the only way we can move through the maze is by shoveling the dung in front of us, to the pile behind us and then moving into the space we opened up. All the shoveling burns up calories, if we don't eat we will eventually starve to death. Finally, we add that there is a cheese somewhere in the maze, and once any rat makes its way to the cheese, everyone gets to eat of the cheese. That resets the rat's hunger level, after the the cheese is located the maze resets around all the rats and process begins again.

Now in our analogy our engineers are the rats. And writing code is shoveling rat dung. And the cheese is a monetizable opportunity. Eating the cheese is collecting money from the opportunity.

In a small company, having everyone shovel as fast as they can, is a great strategy for finding the cheese(s). Some mazes have more than one cheese in them, sadly some mazes have no cheese in them. A manager, whether its the founder/CEO, or someone in that role, is given the opportunity to stand above the maze and see if there is a cheese nearby or in the distance, by seeing both the maze and where the cheese is relative to where in the maze rats are, they can direct rats that have the best chance of getting to the cheese quickly in the direction they should turn, otherwise each rat would be following his/her internal idea of the best way to find a cheese in a maze like ‘always follow the left wall' or ‘alternate left and right turns' or ‘leave marks in the dung piles of parts of the maze you have already passed through so that you can pick new passages the next time.'

So the leadership role of management in any technology company, is measured by their ability to get teams to the cheese while shoveling the least amount of rat dung. Good leadership will understand that there are many cheeses (and flavors of cheese, some more nourishing than others) and be able to evaluate the choice of going further for a very nourishing cheese vs going out of the way to munch a nearby, but less satisfying, cheese.

So back to the comment tail … “who don't do the actual work.” briefly.

It is pretty easy for an engineer to recognize a problem in one of their colleagues, even though their colleague is ‘doing' a “lot” of work, that work is inefficient and thus ‘poor'. Someone checking in version after version of a subroutine, trying to get it correct, when that subroutine is doing something that is provided by the underlying operating system. Lots of ‘work', lots of ‘check ins', but someone who had a bit more breadth might have done in a couple of hours what this loser is taking a week to do. As an engineer, one can easily appreciate that this person is taking up an employee spot that could be put to more efficient use by a better quality engineer.

And yet it may be hard for that same engineer to understand that a manager is helping him, and his colleagues, be more efficient by working excellently on a component that will get them to a good cheese, versus working excellently on a component or a technology that does not proportionally have the business value they need to pay their own salaries.

A real world example was a shopping cart company that had, at one time, all of its engineers working on a universal language independent component for presenting product descriptions in over 100 languages and nobody on the team was working on making the shopping cart code play nice with various payment services. Which is the more nourishing cheese? English only and you accept any kind of payment, or any language but you have to have one type to payment card from one vendor ? The engineers were all writing excellent code, using all the latest best practices and the language support module they came up with was best in class, but product was a shopping cart and the “high order bit” for a shopping cart implementation is “can it take money from customers and put it in the bank?”

So when an engineer makes a comment like Jason's about valuing ‘doing' over ‘directing', it can sound like the oarsmen in a galley complaining that he should be accorded higher status than the navigator since without him the boat wouldn't go anywhere. But the reality is that without the navigator the boat wouldn't arrive anywhere. Considered in the larger context, the navigator's role is both more stressful and more important to the overall success of the trip than the oarsmen.

What Jason's comment misses, and it sounds like a blind spot, is the understanding that you cannot successfully navigate and row at the same time.

31 points by michaelchisari 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I really appreciate the idea of having a career path that doesn't involve moving "up" to management. I'm a developer because I love development, and my own personal hell is managing a team and never getting to code.
6 points by hapless 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"The fairest rules are those to which everyone would agree if they did not know how much power they would have."

This quote really, deeply bothered me. One of the major differences between alpha males and the rest of the population is that they will always assume they'll end up in the top spot. Your prototypical alpha male won't even consider the odds of being on the bottom in that lottery.

To push it further, those same aggressive types will have the passion and voice to draw support for their views, no matter the substance. A "flat" structure overvalues the opinions of the loud and aggressive, with little room for more pensive contributors, especially women.

In other words, if you leave the authorship of the social contract to the loudest people, you may end up with a rather oppressive outcome. This is a universal rule, often overlooked by the alpha males who spend their time talking to Inc. Magazine.

13 points by tom_b 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Love the idea of rotating "managerial" or "lead" person in a small group.

I'm on a small team within a larger organization that we support (in dev and tool usage). A challenge for us is that people in the larger org are used to having a manager to route their requests to.

I may give a rotational approach a whirl. But right now, one of my primary roles is as s&!t umbrella and I don't want to overly burden my real producers.

8 points by dansingerman 19 hours ago 2 replies      
While I totally buy what this espouses, I think it is probably incredibly hard to scale. They are doing well if they keep things flat(ish) for 26 employees. I can't really see it working at all for > 50.

And while they may not have anyone with the job title CTO, I'd be very surprised if DHH was anything other than the de facto CTO.

3 points by vacri 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Skimming the comments, it seems a lot of people are missing a significant point - the employee is in customer service. Customer service is a dead-end job. It doesn't take long to get on top of your game, and there's really nowhere to go.

Managers and marketers get new products and changing business conditions to keep them interested, developers get new tech to explore and tech debt to resolve.

Customer service... is easy to master and once done there's no new fields to conquer. It's ultimately boring. Fine if you want a job to show up to and just do, but if you want to be interested in developing/advancing skills, it's not going to happen in customer service.

I actually find it a little insulting that the tone of the article is a little "well, the developers can handle 'not advancing', why can't the customer support person?".

The professional development tree for customer support looks like a stump.

9 points by ibejoeb 16 hours ago 6 replies      
It's unrealistic to not promote people. If you run a "flat" organization, you're telling your employees "I don't care that your resume indicates no progression." That's a real career limiter, and it can be perceived as an underhanded way to retain talent.

Also, more pragmatically, how realistic is it to have 30 direct reports?

6 points by tomlin 18 hours ago 3 replies      
What Jason Fried is expressing is something I've been pondering for a while. And I think we'll (hopefully) see more of it (sorry, manager-types).

In my experience, managers in most departments have essentially taken the role of sheep-herders. So, I started to ask myself: why do I need a manager when I work well on my own, making smart, educated decisions that are based upon the ideals and successes of other smart, educated and passionate people?

After all, I'm being hired for my prowess, no? If I am, do I need a manager? And shouldn't you always hire people who have these sensibilities?

I think the message I find within this rubble of contemporary and progressive ideologies is: Hire smart. If you have a good team who understand their roles and how it pertains to the goals of the company, you don't need managers - not for a small or mid-sized company, anyway. Basecamp has been the best PM I've ever worked with - alive or binary. Software has already begun to facilitate the role perfectly for me.

6 points by ssharp 17 hours ago 0 replies      
37signals can do this because of their hiring practices. They need to be extremely picky with the type of employee they hire. Their hires need to be able to function within their unconventional structure.

This type of information doesn't translate well to most other companies. I hope 37signals' audience gets that. For software startups, many of their ideas are exceptional and it's fantastic to see real-world examples. For already-established companies and companies that can't be as picky as 37s, testing this type of structure seems unnecessarily risky. I believe 37s has addressed this in the past, and Jason has in his Inc. writings. I just hope people are paying attention.

17 points by antidaily 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like Sarah has started her own thing: http://cosupport.us/
7 points by sreitshamer 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I like that he mentioned in 2 places how he/they supported people in the best way for those people even when it was clear they weren't going to work for 37signals anymore. (In one case they helped someone find another job, in another they helped someone start her own thing.)

It's important to set other people up for success, whether it's success at your firm or at someone else's. They're not "human resources", they're people!

6 points by rosenjon 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing I've always liked about Jason's writing and approach to business is that he isn't afraid to say that they might not have the exact right answer. At the same time, they refuse to accept the "conventional wisdom" as being the correct answer; I think too often we believe that because most companies do things a certain way, that all companies should be run that way.

The takeaway for me is that you should be constantly questioning whether there is a different way to run things that enhances the performance of your organization as a whole. I have personally been privy to how the people with the most impressive titles frequently have the least connection to what's going on in the business. Some of the methods taken at 37Signals seem to be aimed at fixing this problem, which I think is commendable.

At the same time, it seems a shame to have to let go of a good employee because they want to take on more responsibility. If their view on more responsibility is simply a bigger title, then perhaps they weren't the right fit for 37Signals. However, in my opinion, ambition and competence should be rewarded, so it seems like there may have been a better way to handle the situation than choosing between staying in the same role and leaving the organization.

7 points by abbasmehdi 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I would like to commend Jason Fried on establishing a source of free and recurring advertising in a massively distributed publication that has had his target audience cornered for years. Not only is this free advertising, but it is the highest quality of advertising congratulating small and medium size business on being flat (which they usually are because in a small army, even the Generals are on the front lines) and reassuring them about the benefits of being so (imagine you're a 6-person company where everyone does everything and you have just read this article: now decide between buying MS Project and 37 Signals' Basecamp for your PM needs - cloud over your head says "Jason gets me, man!"). Jason, if you're reading this I know you're smiling - you have my vote for strategy!

There is a PR lesson in this for all of us!

3 points by sili 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I like the idea of keeping people closer to what they are good at. However I'm afraid this strategy will backfire on your employees if they are forced to leave to another company for whatever reason. In an environment where every company does not have this flat hierarchy it is strange to see a person who has spent 10 years in one place and has not advanced to some managerial position. New employer will think that he is unfit in some way (even though the opposite is the case) and will probably not even give the person a chance to explain themselves.
3 points by stevenj 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a saying in team sports along the lines of, "Players play the game; Coaches coach."

Employees play the game (ie do the work), but I think a good manager/leader can make a big difference.

Sure, Michael Jordan was a great basketball player who had good teammates, but Phil Jackson must be doing something right in order to extract the talent out of his players in just the right way to win year in and year out. And that is hard.

Perhaps there's just not very many good coaches or managers, which is why there's such distaste for "management."

But every good team, organization, or company has a great "manager" or "managers".

In the case of 37signals, it seems that person is Jason Fried (he is the CEO).

7 points by grimlck 19 hours ago 1 reply      
What about creating a career path that doesn't involve moving people into management? One that involves more prestigious titles (e.g.: sun had a 'sun fellow' title), and significant salary growth (20% here and there isn't significant, imho)

As the organization grows, i can't see a totally flat structure working - you're going to end up with people who have been there 5 years, wake up one day and realize they have the same role and similar salary to what they had where they started, realize they have no career path with their current employer, and will move on.

2 points by Murkin 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Appears there are two types of people,

The 37Signal employees:
* Like their field and want to be 'hands-on'
* Don't mind staying in the same company for 10X years.

The supposed norm:
* Prefer to advance to other positions vertically
* Like moving between companies (for challenge/change).

Makes me wonder what is the difference between the two types of personalities and how those affect the organization.

For example, is there more or less innovation in 37Signals ? Are people more ready to step up and fix/report problems outside their immediate responsibilities ?

5 points by abuzzooz 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Jason seems to imply that managers are useless when he says "We do not have room for people who don't do the actual work".

I think this is very naive of him, and a little selfish. He's enjoying the title of "President" which, to me, is a purely managerial position. I doubt if he considers himself useless, but he's happy to label other managers useless. I might be wrong, but it seems that he's either too selfish to see other people take away some of his control or he's afraid to tackle the problem of a growing company. Both of these will have negative consequences in the future.

Just for the record, over my 14+ years in a technical field, I have been a manager for 5+, and have given up that title twice before to focus on more technical work.

2 points by adaml_623 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's a good thing that a potential employee of Jason's can read his blog and be warned or at least aware of what kind of company he's running and potential future careers there. Personally as a developer I'm looking forward to gaining more managerial experience as I can see how you can make bigger more exciting things as you have more people contributing.
Incidentally I work for a company twice as big as 37 signals although growing quite fast in comparison and I can see that the people in the nontechnical roles quite enjoy the possibilities (and realities) of progressing to different and managerial roles. It makes me happy that they can stick around and don't have to leave when they might otherwise stagnate.
2 points by terryjsmith 18 hours ago 1 reply      
There seems to be a rift here between what people are good at/what they want to do now and what they want to do later. I consider myself a good programmer, but it's not where I want to be forever. I have always wanted to branch out and learn multiple facets (management, service, sales, etc.) and this seems like it would be limiting in that regard. I guess I just wouldn't be the target of 37signals?

Without wanting to sound snide, do you look for people who want to stay in the same role forever? It surprises me that people's ambitions to branch out and take on more responsibility haven't caused this to come up before. A salary bump, more benefits, and more vacation time wouldn't help me placate my desire to learn about other skill sets.

1 point by nikcub 18 hours ago 2 replies      
"Besides being small, 37signals has always been a flat organization."


"We've experimented with promoting a few people to manager-level roles."

So they are flat, with no chief anything, but they have 'manager-level roles'? Am I missing something or is there a contradiction in his description?

Edit: Got it, 'experimented' meaning that they tried, didn't work, and they went back to flat. Thanks for the responses.

Besides that I find that even with no job titles or formal roles, people within a company tend to self-organize and take on de facto roles. The only difference is that it isn't formalized, and people who end up managing aren't being paid manager salaries or getting manager options.

6 points by mmcconnell1618 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I believe some sociologists found that personal relationships begin to break down at about 150. Beyond that it is very difficult to maintain meaningful interaction in person. Online relationship numbers are much higher so maybe a distributed team like 37Signals can get away with this for a while longer.
3 points by imbriaco 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I was one of those experiments, as the Operations Manager, and I like to think it went pretty well. As many people here have rightly pointed out, though, being hands-on is the key. I continued to do a lot of the day-to-day technical work.

The main difference between what I did, and what the rest of my team did, was that I had the added responsibility for dealing with partners and vendors, negotiating contracts, scheduling hardware installations, and the like. The rest of the team was able to remain completely focused on the system administration issues that we cared about while I split my time.

For our team, it made good sense. For the other development/design teams, the way they're run makes sense. It all depends on context.

1 point by slee029 12 hours ago 0 replies      
While I completely agree that flat vs a vertical hierarchy should be assessed from organization to organization, I tend to prefer flat structures mainly because they allow for the culture to mold perception of progression over an existing structure itself. What I mean by this is that if you have a structured way for internal progression (usually vertical) people mold their perceptions around that ladder no matter how much you try convincing them otherwise.

You can clearly see this being played out within the big 4 accounting firms (I recruited for them and from them). Within the firms its extremely vertical in that progression is dictated largely by how long you stayed until you hit partnership where its strictly vacancy. Thus, you're basically looking at steady yearly promotions until you reach being a senior manager after 6-8 years within the firm.

This is where I was able to take the most senior people usually in a seasonal manner pretty easily. This is because after being a senior manager you really have only two trajectories within the firm, associate partner or partner. The AP is basically a position they created to please senior managers who sounded too old and weren't good enough to be partners. So what you generally see is 3-4 hotshot senior managers all vying for the 1 partnership position that will be available that season/year. Inevitably I'll have 3/4 partner potential senior managers leaving because they know they're better off leaving the firm and going to an industry position or worse a competitive firm. They already know the stigma of being an AP.

Thus, you don't simply see attrition at the top level, but the attrition of the very best at the top level and the rest being APs. What's worse is those guys who are the best usually have a loyal following within the firm. Well guess who gives me a call after placing that senior manager as a hiring manager where they're building a team? Now you see an attrition of even better people who you were probably underpaying at junior positions leaving the firm for better pay and better hours. The only guiding light there is you're hoping that senior manager becomes their client in the future.

Thus, you see a system where the highly vertical nature of the structure led to a culture where attrition was the norm. While it might be naive to think so, I think being a flat structure might give a better chance for the culture to shape that perception of the promotion and have them "feel" it rather than perceive it.

2 points by rishi 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"And because we don't have a marketing department, we don't have a chief marketing officer."

37 signals is amazing at marketing. Their blogs. Their books. Video Lectures. Mission statements. Guest posts.

1 point by orev 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a lot of BS, spoken by a Founder with no understanding of employee needs. Employees do not have their eyes set on always staying where they are. They are not reaping the monetary rewards the way a Founder is. To an employee, EVERY job is a stepping stone to the next one, eventually. This Founder is completely self-absorbed.

Job titles are free and it helps the employee along on their career. No, they shouldn't be inflated, but they shouldn't be held back either. Eventually the employee needs to put that job on their resume and if it looks like they were an entry level person because the Founder was a jerk about titles, it's better if the employees leave now instead of later.

1 point by raheemm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
That idea about rotating leadership within the customer service team is brilliant! I wonder if changing it every week is too frequent though - what about doing it biweekly?
1 point by skrebbel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Why don't you just split into two little 37signalses when the time comes?

In all the proposals / solutions mentioned here for dealing with growth while maintaining a flat culture, this is one approach I haven't seen yet. It worked well for a Dutch consultancy firm called BSO, which reached over 6000 people in the 90's, all organised into near-independent little companies of 50-ish people each, all targeting a different market, but each with the same culture and values. The firm itself was a flat company of these little companies (called "cells"), so effectively there were just 2 to 3 layers of management.

(http://www.extent.nl/articles/entry/origins-original/ if you care about the details)

1 point by MrMan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The only way to solve management issues with a high degreee of confidence is to stay small enough to avoid management. The NASA analogies are problematic, however, because large organizations do indeed manage to manage themselves while completing critical projects. Which is more interesting? Large-scale management, or head-in-the-sand? I could personally never work in a large-scale organization, but how can we all avoid these issues and still create a highly functioning economy, which produces both critical and lifestyle goods and services?
2 points by mcdowall 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I find it outstanding that they have 5m users and only 5 support staff!. I would love to know how they manage that.
1 point by shn21 17 hours ago 0 replies      
In many companies the managerial titles are invented incentives, not necessarily they "manage" people. They exist as part of the incentive package, and certain companies attract certain personalities who would be happy with titles. Management position gives one probably a different satisfaction, "doing better than the other guy", and assumed better pay above the managed is all that is needed. It's a kind of a distraction. It is not bad unless it kills nurturing leadership environment. The best case is that laders become chosen managers by their peers. The worst case is that those who can not manage become assigned leaders (managers) by "the management".
1 point by fletchowns 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Four day work week in the summer? Holy cow that sounds awesome.
0 points by ck2 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Way to reward the one critical person who actually has to do the hard work of interacting with your customers AFTER they've been sold and paid you money.

That's the hard part because it's only dealing with problems and never "great to have to call you".

I guess customer service these days is disposable and easily replaceable.

1 point by hpux 14 hours ago 0 replies      
But what if a young startup company want to use this approach. consider a programming team which its developers are not in the same level of expertise and ability. Is it possible for this team that the manager rotate among team members? Doesn't it lower the performance of the members and the self-management of total team?
Html5 Fractal dropbox.com
69 points by DanielRibeiro 8 hours ago   14 comments top 9
3 points by redthrowaway 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Very cool, but I'm always frustrated by the resolution limit of digital Mandelbrot sets. I'd love to see one that would support (effectively) infinite zooming. Also, I'm aware that it's an artifact introduced by the use of HTML5, but sites that break my back button annoy me.
1 point by quickpost 5 hours ago 0 replies      
My friend Doug built something similar:


Also some very nicely constructed HTML5 games:



3 points by IChrisI 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually really like how this is pixelated until it recalculates, it gives me a sense of how the calculations work.
7 points by jschrf 6 hours ago 1 reply      
A rendering of the Mandelbrot set should be the Hello World of anything that's not a console app.
2 points by antichaos 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A more feature-rich implementation:
1 point by wlievens 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a similar implementation using OpenLayers: http://gis.ibbeck.de/apps/Mandelbrot/htdocs/wms_mandelbrot_f...
1 point by jonah 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't it be titled "Canvas Fractal"? What's inherently HTML5 about this aside from canvas?
2 points by BuddhaSource 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Got an error on IE9
"Browser does not support canvas"

IE9 supports HTML5 canvas. Would have been great to compare the performance & rendering.

1 point by loganlinn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Really impressive! Skype (5) crashed when I loaded the page. Granted, I was in a screen-sharing call.
The Montessori Mafia wsj.com
227 points by danielvnzla 15 hours ago   134 comments top 23
50 points by ladon86 14 hours ago replies      
I went to a Waldorf/Steiner school, which shares some of these traits such as the lack of a focus on assessment and grading and the emphasis on creativity.

We weren't taught the alphabet until the age of about 6-7 and basic arithmetic at 7-8. We did begin learning foreign languages at age 6, however. In practice my older brother taught me to read and count well before the Steiner curriculum did, but I still think that the education was very valuable.

I think that creativity in adults is often stifled because they don't want to "get it wrong". People are afraid of trying their hand at a new skill or taking a risk on a new idea because they are "realistic" about their chances of success. Children just do it anyway. I think that Steiner schools encourage this attitude, and no doubt Montessori schools do the same.

There's a reason the really big hitters are often first-time entrepreneurs - they are naive enough to try. Creativity works the same way.

43 points by timr 14 hours ago 4 replies      
"When Barbara Walters, who interviewed Google founders Messrs. Page and Brin in 2004, asked if having parents who were college professors was a major factor behind their success, they instead credited their early Montessori education"

Ahem. I spy a latent variable in this correlation. Can you find it?

Hint: Montessori education may or may not have advantages. But unless you control for educational background and income of the family, your analysis has a problem.

14 points by brlewis 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I have children aged 13, 10 and 5. The oldest spent 1 year in a traditional preschool, but they've gone exclusively to Montessori school since that time.

What strikes me about this article is its characterization of Montessori schooling as largely unstructured and free. I think it must be comparing it to a much over-structured methodology, perhaps like the public schooling I got growing up.

Styles vary somewhat among Montessori schools, but what I've seen is that in the early years, the age Montessori is most known for, there are specific materials children work with and specific ways they're expected to work with them. A child may not get out a work he/she hasn't been shown how to use. He must return the work to its proper place before selecting another one. The materials aren't tools for self-discovery. They're tools for letting self collide with reality until such time as the applicable real concepts are understood.

However, the one simple freedom of being able to choose a work does make it a sharp contrast from the lock-step style of education I grew up with. I hear public schools aren't always this way, according to relatives who sent kids to public school in Lexington, MA.

In higher grades the emphasis on materials fades, but the basic idea of letting children work within a structure remains. For example, in upper elementary (grades 4-6) the students develop their own classroom code of conduct. They're given some structure about how to do it, though. I see Montessori as a balanced methodology on the freedom/structure dimension, not an extreme.

24 points by ziadbc 14 hours ago 5 replies      
I really like the idea of Montessori, and if I have the cash I'd like to send my future kids there someday.

That being said, I see correlation here, not causation.

To be a little bit tongue and cheek, I could write the headline:

"99% of successful people do not attend Montessori schools"

13 points by bediger 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Why does this result surprise anyone? Traditional US schools exist not to cultivate individuality, and make people more expressive and creative, but rather for different reasons.

Grade school is designed to teach people enough to read The Bible, and enough writing and arithmetic to not get cheated by the fancy, downtown shop keepers.

High school is designed to teach the bulk of the citizenry to work according to a fixed schedule, probably in a factory, along with a faceless mass of similary trained people.

It sounds inflammatory, but it's true.

2 points by bryanwb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I am pretty skeptical of the Montessori approach.

Take kids from wealthy, well-educated families and put them in small groups with educators that also happen to be very well-educated and very passionate and you will get great results whatever the pedagogy.

Contrast this w/ poor kids whose parents had low educational attainments, stuck in giant classes with poorly-paid teachers.

If you put 6 well-off kids with 1 passionate, well-educated teacher, you will get good results almost every time.

Montessori approach may have its merits but I find it very hard to separate them from the demographics of its students and teachers. The study in Milwaukee does not seem sufficient to establish a link. Those passionate about teaching are probably more likely to be attracted to the Montessori school than the regular public schools because it has a distinctive approach and probably more liberal management.

I would love to love to know if the Montessori schools in teh Milwaukee school had the same teacher/student ratio as the other schools in the study. I am betting they didn't.

15 points by realitygrill 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This is just confirmation bias. Page credits "part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self-motivated, questioning what's going on in the world, doing things a little bit differently." As a Montessori kid myself, I could see myself having differing opinions depending on how the future turned out.

Successful: go back and credit Montessori for making me a rebellious, curious nonconformist.

Unsuccessful: go back and partially blame Montessori for those same values, that make navigating this world of rules and structures difficult.

PG's writings would make me think that he leans more towards the Montessori side of things, and probably a lot of HNers are the same. I'm glad jsavimbi spoke about his need for strong discipline.

10 points by damla 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Maria Montessori lived in Italy a 100 years ago, and no doubt she was a reformist. She was the first woman doctor, she worked with children with mental disabilities when children was not considered humans, and she noticed that, her approach is applicable to all children. She invented very useful methods and tools for teaching preschoolers. She made wonderful toys which are now called "Montessori Materials". Her method is spread to US, and "adapted".

Montessori teachers are certified largely by two centers in the world, in Italy (http://www.montessori-ami.org/), and in US (http://www.amshq.org/). As far as I know AMI sees itself as the "original" Montessori, rejects others, and more strict in many ways, like they don't allow any toys in classrooms, they don't have any books (just lapbooks produced by teachers or children).

I have real problems with strict, spiritual Montessori. Why would we be against to toys? Maria Montessori crafted wonderful toys for her students, and now they are called "Montessori Materials". What's wrong with Lego's? I think if Maria Montessori had Lego, she would use them.

Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, all have different methods to inspire for raising kids and even for start-ups (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=10...). But, none is magic.

6 points by Terretta 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Only if your education differed from the so-called basket of techniques lumped together as "the Montessori method".

It's been my experience that a home environment with parents who read and care about expanding horizons will tend to offer the children guided "self-directed" learning, observation and indirect teaching, and productive routines of "focused" activities versus idle play, and these children will tend to outperform peers without that same desire to constantly learn instilled in them -- regardless of the formal education they acquire.

7 points by phren0logy 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this even correlation? Is there any evidence to suggest that Montessori students are over-represented among the successful? Or are they simply proportionate?
3 points by speleding 11 hours ago 1 reply      
My kids (4 & 7) just moved from a traditional school to a Montessori school last summer because we moved house. I wasn't completely sold on the philosophy yet but my kids LIKE going to school a lot more now and it seems to work really well. Happy kids, learning a lot.

But it is very counterintuitive for the engineer in me who wants to measure progress by how much of the alphabet they know. It takes a lot of trust in the somewhat nebulous and touchy feely Montessori philosophy, if you read the wikipedia page about it you'll see that even the educators can't agree on what it is exactly. (Montessori did use scientific methods to arrive at her recommendations, but interpretations differ). There's things the type of educators in such schools do that makes us rational people cringe (kids are not allowed artificial flavoring in their lunch food...). But, well, it works (for my kids at least).

Since I am too rational to give up on measuring I conclude we are probably not measuring progress the right way by testing how much letters in the alphabet they know.

5 points by slay2k 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I've been thinking about how I'd educate my own kids, and currently it's a tossup between the Harkness approach a la Phillips Exeter, the entirely home-schooled approach, and something like this which seems like a hybrid.

If anyone has experience with any of the above, I'd love to hear about it.

3 points by jsavimbi 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for the higher end of Montessori as I only attended when I was just starting out my career in education, but I found it to be rewarding for someone with a wandering mind, more so than the strict rote-based Catholic-influenced education I was subjected to further on. I also experienced British private school, and that was definitely better than public but without the scientific approach that I saw at Montessori.

It depends on the kid, I guess. I have an independent, creative side to me that also needs strong discipline to get anything done, so I'm grateful to have experienced both worlds. As far as current prices go, my divorced and randomly employed mother was sending both my sister and I there until we opted for the local public school as it fit better with our social lives, and I know there were some kids there in the same boat as us, but overall it was a good mix back then with the benefit of being in the hippy Cambridge of the '70s.

My advice would be to buy the best education for your kids that your money can buy, and unless your local school system is the pits, I wouldn't home-school them. There's a lot to be said for socializing at an early age and teaching the kids subjects in addition to the regular curriculum isn't against the law either. If the kids are smart, they'll put the regular coursework behind them and need the extra teaching anyways.

If the child is a dullard, don't waste too much money on them as you'll need it for later on for when they really fuck up.

2 points by billmcneale 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no problem with the Montessori method but if you're going to throw the names of a few very successful people as examples, you also need to show the full picture, i.e. for all these Montessori kids that became so successful, how many other successful people did not got to Montessori?

If anything, the fact that they only list 4-5 names tells me that at best, the kind of education you receive at that age is not that important after all (I think your parents and your environment are probably bigger factors) and at worst, the Montessori school doesn't really work that well after all.

3 points by kloncks 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Fascinating insight. But isn't this a classic case of of correlation, not causation?
2 points by VladRussian 13 hours ago 2 replies      
what type of people would be developed by combined approach of Montessori and Tiger Mom? :)
2 points by jsulak 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting article, but what about Steve Jobs? Warren Buffet? Bill Gates? It's easy to pick a few examples of anything, but it doesn't make it a real trend.
1 point by softbuilder 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Questions are the new answers" -- Socrates, 429 B.C.
2 points by ILIKECAKE 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I went too Montessori and I am sitting behind a damn desk administering systems...looks like I missed the awewsomness bus
1 point by jtraffic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a hunch (definitely not an assertion) that even if there are effects from Montessori school early on, they wash out over time, and the major factors afterward are socioeconomic status and habits of parents, and subsequent education (K-12). I guess I'm paraphrasing Freakonomics.
1 point by karolisd 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Are all of the examples male? Do Montessori schools help females too?
0 points by mmcconnell1618 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps creative minded people fit in better in Montessori schools and therefore credit the school with love of learning. Where's the proof that the Montessori method created the effect?
-2 points by jhuckestein 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"What is 10 plus 1?"


"I'm sorry M'a'm, your son is an idiot"

GNOME 3 Released gnome3.org
156 points by sciurus 13 hours ago   80 comments top 21
10 points by naner 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Ryan Paul's review on Ars might be more useful:


11 points by iamcalledrob 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Gnome really needs help with their typography (and design in general).

Gradients, docks and shiny icons do not make a well designed product.

It's clear to see it suffers from the curse of open source software " design by committee, and the featuritis that results from that. There's often "flashy" chrome in OSS, but no solid interactions behind to back it up.

It's equally important what you choose to leave out from your product, as what you include. It seems Gnome has included the kitchen sink.

8 points by MatthewPhillips 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Love it! Can't wait to use it. I wonder what the impact is going to be now that Ubuntu is doing it's own UI thing. That's the vast majority of Linux users; so who becomes the premiere Gnome 3 distribution? I was hoping to get a System76 as my next desktop but now I'm not sure; depends if Gnome3 is included in Ubuntu's repos going forward.
6 points by ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else find putting these two features next to each other unfortunate:

* Messaging built-in

Communication is an important part of the modern desktop, but it's a hassle when you have to switch windows to reply to a message.

* GNOME 3 is designed to reduce distraction and interruption and to put you in control.

Our new notifications system subtly presents messages and will save them until you are ready for them,...

9 points by riffraff 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like gnome3, but I'ts kind of sad to realize the main video on the frontpage (for a wonderful new desktop experience) shows only two desktop applications: gedit editing an html file, and firefox with firebug to fix that same code. And a fake IM session with a loremipsum in it.

I understand the gnome desktop may not have many shiny artisty apps as OSX, but this feels a tad too nerdy.

15 points by lallysingh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
They really should concatenate some of those videos together. Each one individually is a little underwhelming.
5 points by demetris 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The webfont used (Cantarell) does not look good in Windows. The texts are almost unreadable: http://op111.net/u/misc/20110407-win7-fx4-gnome.org.png " (It looks fine on Linux.)

Cantarell, by the way, is also the UI font of Gnome Shell. Not a bad UI font, I think, but it has a narrow glyph range (about 400) and only includes Latin.

Moving to the larger picture, my impression from the Gnome Shell desktop up to now is that it is an interesting experiment, trying to rethink as it does a lot of stuff that we have grown to take for granted in desktop environments. But it is not necessarily a good desktop experience. Up to now (I have used it for about 40 hours in total) I find it tiring and distracting, rather than distraction-free. Switching between app windows, e.g., is not a pleasant experience for me, with all the action I see on the screen and that I have to take myself each time I want to switch. (Alt-tabbing avoids all that, but I don't always switch windows with Alt+Tab.) Another thing that does not help me, and that I find strange as an design decision, is the position of the clock right in the middle of the topbar. It causes me stress; I feel like time is hunting me.

In general, Gnome Shell seems to me to offer an experience more tuned to small rather than large screens. In a 2560*1600 screen, say, and if you prefer using the mouse rather than the keyboard, the distances you have to travel are ridiculous.

I expect the whole thing to improve in the next couple of years or so, but I am curious to see how much it can improve given its basic design principles.

2 points by rwmj 10 hours ago 4 replies      
It seems no one here has actually tried using GNOME 3 for any period of time. I gave it a couple of days and switched over to XFCE. I found it incredibly annoying as a developer desktop (perhaps a minority user these days?). It's very hard to switch between applications, virtual desktops are basically broken, you can't have shortcuts for launching apps/programs, no focus-follows-mouse, and the GNOME developers don't give a damn.
2 points by mishmash 12 hours ago 0 replies      
gnome3.org is down for me, but http://www.gnome.org/gnome-3/ works.

edit: and the torrent to the openSUSE with "optional" GNOME3 is: http://software.opensuse.org/114/en

1 point by hendi_ 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I couldn't find an obvious link on the gnome(3).org sites, but there are detailed release notes:


2 points by deadcyclo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't use GNOME because I find it way to heavy and bloated (I run X and the stumpwm manually). It would however be very interesting to know how early adapters find GNOME 3 compared to previous GNOME versions in terms of bloat and speed.

I also understand that GNOME 3 can be used very keyboard driven. AAAnybodywo swears to the keyboard like me have any opinions?

1 point by augustl 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like gettimg started is easy too, at least on Arch Linux.


1 point by alanh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks quite heavily OS X inspired, with Windows 7's window arrangement feature.

In theory, that should make for a great desktop environment.

3 points by _frog 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find the tagline "Made of Easy" to be a bit silly and poorly thought out?
5 points by Kudos 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Their new site is gorgeous
1 point by indrora 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Gnome 3 looks worse than Gnome 2 did. I say that with love and kindness in my heart though, as I'm a hardcore openbox user. openbox+tint2+nitrogen.

(edit: Okay, Gnome3 and E17 are "Almost" looking alike: They're shiney and don't do much more than that.)

1 point by dermatthias 12 hours ago 1 reply      
gnome3.org seems to be unaccessible right now. Any news on a official (as in official from the GNOME people, not Canonical) repo / .deb for Ubuntu 10.10?

I'm using Awesome WM since a about a year and I'm really happy with it, but it looks kinda good and I want to give it a shot.

1 point by sciurus 13 hours ago 1 reply      
1 point by TuxPirate 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have instructions on how to build this beast?
-4 points by RandyHelzerman 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Who cares about gnome? I mean really. To first, second, and third order approximations, nobody will ever use it. The ipad2 sold over 2 million units the first month out. The next billion users of the internet will interact with it over their cell phone. Might as well publish an article about somebody who is making a nice set of switches for the front panel of a pdp-11 using mahogany wood or something.
Sinatra gone async with em-fiber_pool and em_mysql2. rubyflow.com
23 points by zquestz 4 hours ago   discuss
Change OSX Terminal theme on the fly when you SSH tempe.st
6 points by intinig 1 hour ago   discuss
OCamlPro and the future of OCaml janestreet.com
37 points by budu 6 hours ago   11 comments top 4
2 points by noelwelsh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A decade ago it looked like O'Caml was going to be the language that brought FP to the masses. It had good runtime performance, good tools, and a decent library. Then the development team basically did no work on the language for some eight or so years, and other languages, notably Scala, F#, and Haskell, have gained ground.

It is hard to cross from academia to commerce. The changes that were (and are) needed to O'Caml are not things that will result in publications, and thus don't fit the academic funding model. At the same time they are a precursor to attracting wider interest in the language. It seems that a benefactor like Jane Street is needed for this to occur. Certainly it seems that Jane Street is eager to spend money to fix this problem.

The story of O'Caml is a good reminder that in language adoption, as in business, execution, along with a bit of luck, what matters. The world is full of could-have-beens. And on that note, I've got code to write...

7 points by ajshankar 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The number one problem with commercial OCaml is the lack of comprehensive library support. Until that's addressed, it's not going to take off. Brilliant language, not very practical. F# is a step in the right direction here.
1 point by rsaarelm 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if there's any hope of ever getting type classes in OCaml. Then you'd be able to have stuff like a single "print" function you can give any type of value that can be turned into a string representation.
1 point by mobileman 4 hours ago 2 replies      
It would be interesting to know what they plan to do. It's easy to speculate l. It would be much more interesting to see ocaml on the jvm
Google to Finance $100 Million Worth of Original Programs for YouTube mashable.com
20 points by acconrad 4 hours ago   6 comments top 4
2 points by macrael 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Netflix, too, is getting into the production business. http://blog.netflix.com/2011/03/house-of-cards.html I guess it is inevitable, but it makes me sad. What makes either of these developments any different from Comcast trying to buy NBC, something that most observers seemed to think was a bad idea? I think this is bad for a couple of reasons.

First, production seems way outside their area of expertise. These companies are primarily good at distributing video, secondarily perhaps at negotiating for rights with production houses. Producing video is a completely new endeavor.

Second, it changes the rules of competition between today's video services. Instead of competing on prices and business models (monthly subscription vs. ad supported vs. owning videos outright) they may now be competing more on what actual videos are available. If a number of different distribution channels all end up with some hit exclusives, we'll want to pony up for several mostly redundant channels. Seems pretty similar to the setup we have right now with cable.

Meet the new boss.

4 points by tzs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> It was unclear when Google would begin spending the money to create the new programs, but the source said that Google has visited top Hollywood talent agencies in search of ideas, and will probably end up making deals with production companies and directors to produce the content.

Buy rights to Firefly and make new episodes.

2 points by jonburs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that Google plans on throwing money at the established players in the industry, while Amazon attempts to change how projects are selected and funded: http://studios.amazon.com/
2 points by dave1619 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, is this the beginning of the end of cable companies?
Elderly lady cuts off Internet in Armenia engadget.com
4 points by tunaslut 51 minutes ago   1 comment top
1 point by Peroni 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Not just Armenia: In addition, areas of Georgia and Azerbaijan were also taken offline.
Net giants challenge French data law bbc.co.uk
7 points by DarrenLyman 1 hour ago   discuss
ASP.NET Deployment Needs To Be Fixed wekeroad.com
34 points by robconery 6 hours ago   28 comments top 10
8 points by MartinCron 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I am doing some very straightforward asp.net deployment using git, TeamCity, nunit, and powershell.

If the gauntlet of (unit-integration-acceptance) tests (in the master branch, naturally) all pass, the code is deployed to a staging server. Then there are some tests which run against staging. If those tests all pass, then the artifacts for the new version of the site are copied into a new directory (side by side) on the server. finally, a powershell script tells IIS to serve from the new directory.

End result? Deployments are zero-downtime non-events tha happen multiple times daily. Rollbacks are trivial (and rare). Any not-yet-ready for prime time code can be checked into any other git branches.

Database changes? I have a tiny bit of code, called from Application_OnStart that checks to see if it needs to do any CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE statements.

Sure, I had to create all of this stuff myself, but it's all crazy simple, reliable, and does just what the project needs.

Maybe someone could make some product to handle all of this, but the flexibility of linking together the best tools for the job wins for now.

Also, it's just easy.

1 point by macca321 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I pretty much agree with MartinCron that it is easy to chain together the tools you need for your particular situation, although I run LINQPad scripts instead of powershell or ruby or xml so I get c# intellisense goodness everywhere (great for Ms.Web.Adminstration and SMO).

I do wonder if some kind of multi-tenant app that holds application versions in assemblies and can roll up or down between them at will is the future though.

2 points by fleitz 4 hours ago 2 replies      
You need MSIs and PSExec. It's the best deployment system I've used. The MSI configures your server, alerts you to missing dependencies, ngen's your DLLs and loads them into the GAC. If you tag your MSIs with the build number you've also got easy rollback.

There are a couple gotchas that generally require writing an MSI helper DLL but it's no biggie. The only PITA is that if you precompile during the build stage you have to know the path of the application in advance.

Then you just use a little VBScript to let PSExec work it's magic. Maybe I should put together an MSI that installs all the stuff you need to make it work.

Email me if you want some help setting up an MSI / PSExec based deploy system.

2 points by kprobst 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used NAnt to build/deploy happily for years. I suppose it depends on each project or application's particular context.

I will say this: If there's some kind of requirement where Dev1 will overwrite Dev2's changes on the target server, especially if we're talking about production, then you're probably doing it wrong. We never deploy from a developer's box or ad-hoc copying of files. Anything that needs to be deployed needs to be in source control, and needs to be deployed from the build box. I don't care if someone forgot an ASCX template and it takes a half hour to redo the whole thing.

1 point by mwdev 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
git push appharbor master?

Maybe appharbor should open source their deployment routine because I sure don't have any issues with deploying my apps there and rolling back when I need to.

1 point by mariusmg 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
aspnet_compiler and push it over ftp. Some guys are just overreacting drama queens.
1 point by drivebyacct2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If anyone can tell me how to have a proper Debug/Release App.Config for an Azure Worker Role? I've tried all sorts of voodoo magic and hand editting ccproj files. It's a joke.
1 point by minhajuddin 3 hours ago 1 reply      
ASP.NET deployment is broken, but any good dev should be able to come up with his own recipe very easily. I had psexec/rake/albacore/fluentmigrator deployment setup for my asp.net mvc servers and it worked out fine for me. I even did a blog post on it:
2 points by aaronrc 5 hours ago 5 replies      
Didn't really understand what's wrong with msdeploy?

Deploying can't get much easier than clicking a single button in VS.Net... Rolling back IS an issue but it can be mitigated by versioning one's source code and testing the site locally before deploying.

1 point by plasma 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We deploy our releases by switching to a subversion branch on the web server/s - at the same time if necessary.

Rollbacks are easy because we just switch back to a previous 'release' snapshot branch.

Works well enough for us so far.

LLVM 2.9 Released llvm.org
3 points by DrJokepu 31 minutes ago   discuss
Show HN: NationBuilder, my startup just launched nationbuilder.com
96 points by jgilliam 11 hours ago   90 comments top 28
14 points by gokhan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My feedback:

- Landing page does not tell me what the site is about. Who is it for? Something like the one suggested by @spking needed.

- Carousel is too fast for me. It should also pause on hover to let me check.

- Heroku and AWS is most probably unknown to your target userbase. You should drop it from the carousel, IMO.

- Not urgent, but you should work on the YSlow score. Lots of the scripts are unnecessary for the landing page.

- Make the hover animations on the "features" pages discoverable. No one will notice them.

- Can't you make a shorter version of the screencast and put it on the landing page?

Overall, there are lots of features inside, but screenshots are too crowded and copy is not helping much in the landing page.

For example, there's a lot going on in this screenshot and there are many screenshots like this one in the landing page carousel (http://nationbuilder.s3.amazonaws.com/3dna/pages/36/features...). You have many features, but select something simple and stick to it for the landing page.

59 points by spking 11 hours ago 6 replies      
Feedback: It wasn't immediately clear to me who this is for. A big headline telling me "Online Campaign Management for Civic Leaders and Candidates" would be helpful.
14 points by neilk 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow. Compared to what a lot of people are calling startups these days, this is practically General Electric.

Looks great to me, although I have not tried it (since it's 100% integration work, devil is in the details). Seems that you've done this before and built the app you would have wanted.

1 point by lordlarm 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
When I'm using Flashblock the flash at the bottom of your site is huge: http://nationbuilder.com/start

When I accept the flashanimation it works, but you may want to look into it sometime.

And btw: the "start your trial button" looks (in my opinion) more like web 1.0 than 2.0, with all those gradients and strong colors.

Keep it up, looks good!

6 points by asnyder 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A potential client came to us several years ago with a similar idea, apparently there's lots of money to made since every local election needs a site + social media. Thus white-labeling the process, as NationBuilder is doing allows for your local sheriff or judge to harness the necessary tools they need to get their campaign going without a cost prohibitive price tag.

I thought it was a good idea then, and an even better idea now. I think NationBuilder did a great job. Needless to say the potential client got cold feet, and never executed their idea.

6 points by mahmud 10 hours ago 3 replies      
This has a lot of potential.

Only problem I see is the pricing. You should be doing 4x what you currently have.

1 point by dangravell 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Really interesting.

When I arrived at the site I had no idea what it was for. After reading the first and second pages I _still_ had no idea what it was for... but for some reason I didn't care. I began to form this idea in my head that 'nations' referred to 'eco systems' and that this site was a fully integrated Internet presence for a startup. E.g. an easy way to have a Web site, forums, integrate social networking into everything and have it all beautiful at the same time.

It was only once I read the HN comments that I realised it was for a more political market. It just amused me that looking down that sidebar I made pretty much everything in my head apply to startups... "co-ordinate volunteers? are they talking about open source projects?" ;-)

Anyway, those are just my initial thoughts. A very interesting vertical you've _actually_ aimed for.

3 points by fourspace 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work!

Looks like there's an errant "Edit this page" link under the sidebar here:

3 points by Nate75Sanders 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully General Zod will use this for 2012. I might have voted for him, but his page in the last election, http://www.zod2008.com/ , didn't have enough social network engagement and I thought he was a bit behind the times.
2 points by Tiktaalik 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this would really help political candidates in countries such as Canada without fixed election dates, where elections can begin with little notice. Our election just started a week or so ago and parties were nominating new candidates for some ridings at the last minute. My riding still doesn't have a candidate for the Liberal party.

Certainly these new candidates are starting the campaign flat footed with regards to their web presence and social media strategy and this favours the long established incumbents. This service could fix that and get new candidates that haven't had time to prepare up and running as soon as possible.

4 points by specialist 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You asked for feedback, so here it is.

Have you worked on any political campaigns? Candidates, issues, activism, anything? I have. Your NationBuilder is not yet a full product.

Pitch your product to local campaign managers. That's the fastest way for you to get your course correction.

Campaigns do need better tools. So I encourage you to keep at it.

(If you're wondering why I just don't tell you what you need, I'm working on a business plan for something very similar. Also, I'd rather you earned the domain knowledge firsthand.)

1 point by Maciek416 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is an interesting spin on a lot of previously-disconnected ideas. I really like the branding and name. The intro screencast was well done.

I'm looking forward to hearing how well this takes off, especially with the pricing plans currently in place. I have an idea for a political action campaign, but I'm kinda on the fence with your lowest tier price.

1 point by PStamatiou 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds a bit like what Flowtown is doing with their new product: http://v3.flowtown.com/#/flowtown

  Connect your Facebook account to become an official Ambassador for Flowtown.
Be the first to know, connect with other Ambassadors, and participate in
exclusives opportunities.

3 points by emiranda 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else think people would be more likely to sign up and try it if a credit card wasn't required for the 14 day trial? I was going to sign up to to see what it was like, but then decided not to when I found out that a credit card is required.
1 point by mryall 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea. How much manual legwork do you have to do when a new customer registers? Is there manual effort involved in setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts, mailing lists, etc.? I imagine many of the online services you use would prevent automatic creation of accounts somehow, like with a CAPTCHA or something.
2 points by impendia 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"ammount of people", down low in the FAQ (check the spelling)
1 point by pitdesi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My initial feedback is that there are too many pricing layers and that is confusing. Maybe have a few and then do some sort of step function.

I like the idea, I think it makes a lot of sense and this market probably really needs this sort of thing... that being said, I don't know the market AT ALL.

Give me a shout if you want to talk payments, we can probably help you figure out the best way to manage that.

1 point by bdclimber14 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think you'll find the size of the market, measured by number of customers, to be much smaller than you think. I say this because your pricing seems very low. This is obviously a very comprehensive solution and complex software. The individual components from 3rd parties would be much more expensive if they were used separately, (e.g. MailChimp, CRM, etc.) so I think you should price based on what the cost of all the items would be.

Another commenter said 4x, I'd say 10x plus an upfront fee.

However, I could be wrong, please correct me if you've done trials and found this to be the best price :)

2 points by epnk 10 hours ago 2 replies      
As far as the idea goes, I think it's great, and very polished. Nice work!

I had a bit of a bad initial reaction when I heard the name, however, as it feels very imperialist and negative to me. Might just be me though, so just take it as a single datapoint. But my suggestion would be to look into names that are a little more positive.

2 points by jacques_chester 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this built on CiviCRM or is a custom platform?
2 points by m0dE 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is Corporate Pricing suppose to be all 499/mo regardless of # of people? Why?
1 point by nethsix 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My first impression was, this was a useful convenient internet mass-media platform, not only targeted at political people, but anybody who wanted to appeal to a group of people. It had a twist of painting the user as a leader/creator with 'nation'. I guess you're on the right track if every one read it like I did =).
1 point by petervandijck 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is awesome and have been trying to convince a political party to use something like this.
1 point by jdp23 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work, Jim!
1 point by ssebro 10 hours ago 0 replies      
BTW, I'm working on a webapp that needs subscription billing. Who'd you go with, and why?
1 point by ssebro 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. How long did it take to spec + build? What's the background story?
1 point by epaulson 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you talk more about your VAN integration?
-4 points by ddkrone 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This looks like a joke. Is this real?
Ninua Launches Social News Reader on Android louisgray.com
3 points by srikar 38 minutes ago   discuss
Fixing the little things in Gmail gmailblog.blogspot.com
48 points by abraham 9 hours ago   27 comments top 11
32 points by paul 8 hours ago 1 reply      
They should fix the speed.
4 points by jacobian 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to see there's some forward motion on Gmail; it's seemed like development stalled out a year or so ago. However, it's a bit depressing. If it takes this long to get around to fixing the small things, how long is it going to take the fix the big things?

Gmail's still the best web-based email client I've seen, but at this rate not for long. There's a big honking opportunity here for someone to move in and eat Google's lunch.

9 points by davej 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I preferred when the refresh button was a link. It made sense because all of the buttons are actions to be performed (POST) whereas the refresh link simply checks for new emails (GET).
4 points by btilly 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just suggested to them that if I send an email and it bounces, that I be asked if I want to remove that email address from my contacts.

I have a lot of non-working email addresses in my contacts, and it is a PITA to clean them up.

2 points by jedbrown 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Need a better way do inline quoting. Gmail insists on top-posting even when I select the part I want to reply to, it's several extra steps to cite and trim properly, especially if you want to reply to more than one part of a message.
5 points by raquo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Strange that the "refresh" button does not provide any visual feedback if there are no new messages. Not good. Even refreshing inbox by clicking on "Inbox" on the left briefly shows a "loading" message.
2 points by zavulon 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The most useful thing for me out of that list is "Shift + ?" shortcut. For too long I had to open another tab, open Google, and type in 'Gmail shortcuts'...
6 points by rberdeen 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Sad to see they didn't fix my "one thing": nothing should take more than ten seconds.
1 point by Niten 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I really happy to see the option to disable auto-saving contacts. Now what about fixed-width fonts in plaintext messages? :-)
3 points by elbelcho 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd really like to see them improve search speed.

It's the one advantage, in my opinion, that desktop outlook has over gmail.

1 point by cma 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Did I really just waste time reading this?
Optimizations (Part I): Operation Screaming Pixels glitch.com
13 points by domino 4 hours ago   4 comments top
3 points by willvarfar 3 hours ago 3 replies      
A very nice article, but also a stark warning that they don't have a clue about graphics!

Doubtless the serverside sounds really interesting - Java + presumably rhino or a parallel node.js world. Definitely nice to see its all about content!

On the client-side, they are using Flash - presumably they've got RTMP going (writing RTMP servers is fun and quite doable without using any Adobe $tack), which is neat. Although they might be messing around with "websockets". That might fit better with their plays to move beyond Flash later.

From looking at their videos and dovetailing that with that post, they are doing this as a massive Flash game as 2D sprites. Flash has supported decent 3D graphics for a long time and you could get that same look from a noddy 3D engine and it'd be hardware accelerated and much much faster and smaller, directly addressing the issues of the post. The artwork really ought to measure in megabytes not the hundreds of MB they mention in the post. Are we given to believe that to play the game they will have a few GB of unpacked textures? Madness.

       cached 7 April 2011 10:02:02 GMT