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Here are Stanford's StartX nine demo day darlings venturebeat.com
16 points by taykahhong  1 hour ago   discuss
Enough Is Enough avc.com
868 points by ssclafani  21 hours ago   174 comments top 45
jasonkester 19 hours ago 6 replies      
Maybe somebody needs to move this issue to someplace more visible.

I'd like to introduce the concept of Movie Patents. I'd register a patent for the plot device of having the bad guy be the main character's best friend, with additional clauses for being his boss, advisor, or partner. I wouldn't ever make any movies. I'd just sit back and collect royalties from everybody who used my idea.

The reason behind this is that maybe then people who matter would actually notice how silly this concept is. It's so plainly obvious that it's a bad idea that regular people can finally understand what's going on. Eventually, people with the ability to make changes might actually find themselves forced to make changes.

Software, as big as it is, is just not that big. This issue can piss every single one of us off, and it won't make the NBC Nightly News. It can't piss off the people it needs to piss off in order to get it fixed, so chances are it will stay unfixed indefinitely.

DrJokepu 20 hours ago  replies      
I really don't think the problem is software patents, it seems to me the real problem is that most software patents seem to be ridiculously trivial.

Here's an example: my employer, a rather small company has invested an enormous amount of resources in developing a specific algorithm. It took years of research and development, lots of money and brainpower, it's very far from being trivial (in fact it's so complicated I have to admit I don't understand some parts of it) and it's light years ahead (in terms of usefulness and speed) of any other algorithm with similar applications.

Obviously the last thing we want now is simply handing it over to our competitors, after all this work. If the patent system didn't guarantee us monopoly on using the fruits of our own R&D, this algorithm probably would not have been developed for a very long time, if ever, by anyone. It would have been innovation that never happened.

My point is that the threshold of what can patentable should by way higher, but I think we need a (software) patent system none the less.

pkteison 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I spent a week vacation with 2 friends who work at the patent office, so w e had time to discuss over beers. They don't believe there is a problem. They rely so heavily on prior art, and have trouble with the very concept that something was too obvious for the first 20 programmers to want to patent it, so prior art is very incomplete. I show them 1 click, they tell me that if it was that obvious someone would have patented it before. They refuse to consider the "skilled in the art" obviousness test because they say it's too easy to believe something is obvious after it's been explained to me.
tedjdziuba 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Alright, Fred. We all agree with you here, the people you need to convince are the ones writing the laws. You're a wealthy and powerful person, who is good friends with other wealthy and powerful people, so why not leverage that? Hire a lobbying firm, get actively involved in the cause.

Whatever you do, don't count on Reddit and Hacker News to do it for you, that's just slacktivism.

statictype 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Mostly agree, except:

Second, Lodsys didn't even "invent" the idea. They purchased the patent and are now using it like a cluster bomb on the entire mobile app developer community.

The fact that Lodsys bought the patent and didn't invent the idea themselves seems entirely irrelevant to this dilemma. Unless you also think that if you acquire someone else's software, you don't have the right to sell it.

ChuckMcM 16 hours ago 2 replies      
"I believe that software patents should not exist. They are a tax on innovation. And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. Patenting software is like patenting music."

This is what I fear. I worry this idea will take hold and we'll get copyright protection for software 'design' instead of patent protection, and then that happens, the Lodsys crap will have a lifetime of 85 years not 20.

We need to be able to protect someone's innovation so that they aren't screwed over by some larger competitor taking their idea and running with it. That need is real and continues to exist, we need patents.

Let's argue for the real problem here, we also need a better system for dumping things that should not have been patented in the first place because they fail the 'novel' test. We need jurists that understand the technology they are being asked to evaluate, and we need to require at least three people 'skilled in the art' to sit in on juries in patent hearings. I might even go so far as to create special patent juries for these cases. We need a better way of reviewing a patent and validating it against the state of the art.

What we don't need is to convince policy makers that software is like 'music.' And we don't need people believing that we don't need any protection for people's work should they choose to take advantage of those protections.

tlrobinson 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In a previous discussion someone suggested forming a reverse patent troll organization that accepted donations of patents from open source developers and whoever, and used them to counter sue patents trolls. The obvious problems are it's expensive to file for patents and lawsuits, and it doesn't protect against "pure" trolls.

Another idea: a simple community that accepts and publishes every random software idea anyone ever comes up with in order to establish prior art.

Perhaps include mechanisms to discover patent applications linked to relevant keywords, etc.

What would it take to prove the date of submissibon to the system? Is there some type of digital notary that we could send a daily batch of documents?

zhyder 11 hours ago 1 reply      
We need a generic fix for the patent system, not something specific to software. I think the only way to do this is to change the process of suing for patent infringement. The patent holder must determine how much investment was made to develop the specific patent [1], and this number should be the upper bound on how much the patent holder can sue for [2].

This would effectively cover the pharmaceutical case where hundreds of millions are invested, as well as the worst software case where only a few thousand are invested.

[1] - This number would need to pass simple smell tests: the sum of these investment amounts across a patent portfolio can't exceed the total expenses in the company's books for R&D, etc.
[2] - If a patent holder sues multiple companies at once, each infringing company would owe only a fraction of the total.

radu_floricica 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Posting in this kind of threads is always bringing karma points and leaving me vaguely unsatisfied.

Lots of people speak about the "stupidity" of it all. I see no stupidity here. Just the normal, to-be-expected lean of a big government toward protecting the incumbents.

Also I think people should speak more often about drastically shortening copyright and patent terms. They are both very useful, even in controversial domains like software or biotech (patenting genes). The problem is that the situation is waay skewed one way. If you want to bring it closer to normal, start asking for 1 year patent terms and 3 year copyright.

laujen 18 hours ago 1 reply      
An idea I will throw out there: I always wondered why anyone should be able to hold onto an idea (patent it) if they don't use it. I can't help but wonder if the best way to fix the patent system isn't to overhaul it -- which would be nearly impossible to do due to entrenched interests -- but instead invalidate all patents if they aren't used within a certain time period by the rights holder. In other words, use it or lose it.
rbanffy 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately, by choosing to license instead of crushing them early, companies like Google, Apple, IBM, Cisco and Accenture and government bodies like the IRS provided funding for the troll to grow and thrive.

It's relatively easy to say "enough is enough". Actually fighting back is harder and, at this point, almost impossible.

iqster 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm just fed up with the stupidity of the status quo. As a number of posts have pointed out, the lawyers, Patent Office, etc. generally don't see this as a problem. People like us who actually want to create new things ... we're the ones who are the losers.

This is another instance where it would have been beneficial if all software professionals belonged to a Guild or union. If we were organized, at least there is some sliver of a chance that we'd be able to have an influence on the legislative process. If that fails, we would just not work to create software patents.

tomelders 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Can we trick a patent troll into patenting the Triforce and just let 4Chan deal with this?
lmarinho 20 hours ago 1 reply      
If you are at the end of a hard day's work, struggling with a tough problem and making no progress at all, even regressing at some points, take solace in this: you still did a lot more for the world than the guys at Lodsys
MatthewPhillips 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think there are 2 main problems here.

1) Patenting obvious stuff / stuff with prior art. "X, but on the internet"

2) Patenting stuff with no intention of releasing a product.

I see a lot of talk about the former and not enough about the latter. My question is this, could we put a time limit on releasing a product once a patent is awarded? Is it normal in other industries to patent something as soon as possible or do they wait until a product is ready to be released? What would be an acceptable time limit? In this case, the patent was issued in May 2007, 4 years ago. Is it reasonable for the inventor to not have a product using this on the market yet?

brudgers 19 hours ago 0 replies      
>"They [software patents] are a tax on innovation."

While I tend to agree in general, the Lodsys situation is not a particularly good example in support of the position from an intellectual standpoint, though it may be good for rallying the troops. This is because Apple's actions in regard to in app purchases (IAP's) have been explicitly anti-innovation, i.e. Apple has required a specific monetizable IAP protocol in lieu of allowing developers to innovate (one does not need to even get into questions regarding the innovation raised by Apple's patent portfolio regarding UX elements). Let us remember that developers are only vulnerable because they are complying with a technical mandate of their agreement with Apple and that this mandate is solely intended to produce uniformity within the IOS ecosystem. Given Apple's patent portfolio, they may have far more to gain in terms of IP protection by upholding Lodsys's position than by fighting it.

stcredzero 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The whole thing is nuts. I can't understand why our goverment [sic] allows this shit to go on

Because software and technology are like magic to a large part of the population, including a large segment of those involved in government and the judiciary.

Patents are just another specialized form of legalese. It's obvious we need better ways of challenging patents and filtering them in the first place.

LiveTheDream 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Would there be any value in a large collection of prior art software, designs, "look and feels", etc? The idea being that since we feel that many software patents are trivial, why not actually implement the ideas and thus provide a line of defense against silly, trivial patents.

Very novel, complex software that might be worth a patent would be very unlikely to turn up in such a collection because of the effort required. Ideally, this would help create an ecosystem where patent-worthy software is awarded a patent, and trivial software is not (because of prior art).

This is an idea I've thought about for a long time. One could argue that much of this idea might already be implemented by websites like sourceforge, github, etc. A focus on explicitly being prior art would probably help, however, justifying the need for a separate archive of ideas.

SoftwareMaven 13 hours ago 0 replies      
As much as a wonder if there is a point, it can't hurt to write your elected officials and tell them, in reasonable, cogent terms, why software patents cause problems and how they should be fixed.

You can find and write them here: http://capwiz.com/c-span/dbq/officials/

orijing 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> I can't understand why our goverment allows this shit to go on.

It's because Congress has been embroiled in a bitter fight of brinkmanship over who can stall longer over raising the debt limit over the past year. Not much actual progress has come out since they decided that they will keep up the debt limit talks, knowing completely that the partisanship will yield no progress.

While they have debated raising the debt limit, the debt has risen by over half a trillion dollars. They need to fix that and move onto other things. The point of Congress isn't to debate solely over how to balance the budget. They have other responsibilities too, and they need to get to it.

vilya 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The point of a patent is to ensure that ideas are made public, so that all can benefit from them. In exchange, the inventor gets their time-limited monopoly on the idea.

Unfortunately software patents are useless for this purpose: they don't fulfil the function of making ideas public. Who, in this day and age, refers to a patent for the details of an algorithm?

I would argue that open-source software, in many ways, succeeds where software patents fail.

hnsmurf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What we need is a trade association to address this issue. One specifically focused on software startups would be nice. It'd probably have to be funded more by investors and recently successful startups. Maybe Fred should give it a shot.
drcube 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, but I've got a patent for "outrage on the internet", so I'm going to need to see some royalties.
zarify 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not simply remove the ability to sell the patent to someone else?

Sunset the validity of the patent like the original scope of copyright, and limit the transferral to being able to license it for use so that the only financial benefit goes to the original R&D crowd. That way it still promotes research but limits the possibility of patent trolls since they'd have to actually do the research themselves.

MatthewPhillips 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the idea of losing patents if you don't have a product in the market within a year or so.
grimen 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Somethng like this scares the hell out of me:


Now I'm in Europe where this don't apply, but we actually had plans making our platform available in U.S. later on with something that has to do with tagging images - which itself is hardly any innovation (?!!)!. I mean, c'mon. We will now probably avoid that and look east instead. I'm still fascinated that they managed to get thorugh with this, almost like the 1-click-purchase that Amazon trying to paten. It's almost like a fairy tale - with no happy ending.

stusmith1977 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not a fan of sotware patents, but perhaps there's a halfway house towards getting rid of them:

Make software patents only holdable by a real person (i.e. not a corporation), and not transferable. Any money received from a patent infringement lawsuit would be paid to that named person.

That way, they can be used for their original purpose (to protect small inventors and allow them to build a larger business), but can't be collected by the trolls.

(It would also give companies an incentive to keep 'their' patent owners happy).

Just an idea... I'm sure there's a glaring hole in it somewhere.

seats 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I appreciate this thread and I think that the movie plot patent is a fantastic analogy so great topic starter submission.

I have to say though that I am disappointed by the blog post. Based on the title and the topic I kind of expected something, anything as a suggestion, instead of just a rant and a loose plan to spam every elected official you meet.

tttp 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope that avc, ycombinator, Andreessen Horowitz and a lot of known VC and business angels introduce a new simple rule on their agreement:

To get funded, a company must not try to obtain software patent, and if they do have software patent(s), they will publicly say they will not try to license them and will not sue for infringement of one of their patent.

Beside clearing up the landscape, it will send a clear message, hopefully that is going to be heard by politicians and media: software patent doesn't help innovation, quite the opposite, the guys that fund innovation refuse to give money to companies (ab)using software patent.

Moreover, as VCs seem to be able to work on templates for the paperwork to lower the cost of the creation and founding of a start-up, couldn't they work on standard responses to lower the cost of defending against a patent troll as well ?

huherto 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Other than patent trolls. Who is supporting software patents?

I understand that big software companies. (IBM, Oracle, Apple, etc) own a large portfolios of patents that they can use to defend themselves. But, do they really support software patents or they just use them to play the games they have to play?

drostan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it really promote innovation to advantage 2nd movers? Sure it is possible to add to the software and improve it, but often, the innovation is simply execution, buzz, sales and other non-trivial business things. How can there be a reward for the equally important talents of having the vision for new solutions and ability to create them if there is no patent or licensing protection?

Also, it scares me a bit when someone as influential as Fred takes this to his blog - read by so many startups. VCs make money from execution and have an (or another) incentive to suggest that patents are not an acceptable tool for startups.

I agree with the need for patent reform, actually, but a) I'm not sure eliminating software patents is the answer and b) would encourage each startup to make their own decision on how to use the current laws to give them every advantage they can get.

joeburke 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is much more about the evilness of patent trolls than about software patents.

My thoughts:

- Prevent the existence of trolls (for example by mandating that only patents that are central to your own business can be enforced).

- Raise the bar for the acceptability of software patents.

- Reduce the lifetime of software patents to something more in line with the software industry (a few years maybe).

But by all means, preserve software patents, they do have some value if used as they were designed for (protect companies that invest into R&D).

generators 15 hours ago 0 replies      
kleiba 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Patenting software is like patenting music.

Oh god, please don't give them ideas...

levifig 15 hours ago 0 replies      
And then there's iA Writer and their egotistic attempt to patent "Focus Mode"… Seriously: https://twitter.com/#!/iA/status/74588465953640448

Same problem: other apps used it because it's such a generic concept. They (always) say that it's for protection… Riiiight! :|

timedoctor 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The only real solution for these companies is to incorporate offshore (or to have no money). This could be a significant long term issue for US companies, and makes me more hesitant about incorporating in the US where I am vulnerable to patent trolls.
jcarreiro 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why someone who invents a better combustion engine should deserve a patent while someone who invents a better computer algorithm should not.

That doesn't imply that I think that every bit of programming deserves the protection of a patent. But if someone invents a new algorithm, then why doesn't that deserve a patent?

jtap 19 hours ago 0 replies      
So all of technology including manufacturing has gotten quicker, faster, overall better, but the patent system hasn't changed. Also the entire cycle of a company is speeding up. An easy example the time companies that are listed on the s&p 500 are getting shorter. Instead of getting rid of patents can we just shorten the time that they are valid. Say 5 years.
imtyler 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I think America's patent & copyright laws are in need of a serious rethinking in the digital age, but what are we the people doing about it? I would love to get involved (or donate) but I'm not aware of any credible groups or projects making strides to help bring about such a change. Any noteworthy efforts out there that I should know about?
iamben 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not diminish the value of a patent once it's sold? That way you prevent companies like Lodsys buying and trolling, and if you put the money / time / resources into the development of something, you can reap the reward.

Just a thought, not the answer. But the system is totally ridiculous as it stands.

mfn 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Just wondering, would these still apply if the app developer was in a country other than the US, but the apps were being downloaded from an app store by US citizens?
atirip 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not incorporate in Europe? Ireland, like Google? Software patent problem solved.
mrkva 20 hours ago 2 replies      
What does VC mean? Vinylchlorid?
meow 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The cave man who invented 'wheel' was knocking on my door today.. apparently he was granted a 4k year patent for cart wheels by Unbelievably Sloppy Patent Troll Office (USPTO)...
tomelders 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, Software® patents are here to stay, so long® as the patent trolls® and lobbyists®© can find enough people in the "corridors of power"® who'll shamelessly accept their cheques to maintain the status quo.

The problem is inherent in the fact that people®© are flawed. And by "flawed", I mean "cunts"®

Unless I'm wrong. In which case we can expect software patents to disappear next week.

Microsoft joins preemptive patent protection program arstechnica.com
29 points by grellas  3 hours ago   5 comments top 5
dodo53 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
That is such a cool scheme. I'm glad somebody is actively seeking to invalidate bogus patents. I'm not sure how they're getting money - is they idea that people that join up donate to the cash pool they use to reward people who find prior art on existing patents?

Also it doesn't go quite as far as I'd like - it reduces the incentive to lodge bogus patents (as hopefully they'll stand for less time), but I'd still like their to some level of penalty to the originator when bogus patents are overturned (but that's a law change - somebody pointed out on a previous thread apparently Texas now has a law penalizing people that bring frivolous suits - not quite the same as filing for frivolous patents, but I still like it).

Edit: ah, followed links to
Apparently they might make money by getting some kind of payment of accused infringers for invaliding the patent they are accused of infringing. Also - Article One Partners applied for a patent for their system of crowdsourcing patent invalidation :o)

bad_user 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
So it's OK for them to threaten others, but not OK when others come after them.
Vencent 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
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Vencent 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Brilliant article Derek! Very very apt for my life in the present moment!
Thanks for Sharing!
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Vencent 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks again for reminding us of this important, simple information. I like this and the blank canvas article as well. I have a website about Tennis Racquets, the adress is http://www.tennisshow.org
SlimGems, a drop-in replacement for RubyGems -- now available gnuu.org
73 points by bcardarella  6 hours ago   36 comments top 11
wheels 5 hours ago 2 replies      
RubyGems 1.8.5 actually breaks Rails 2.3.11. Just to be really clear there: the package manager breaks the 4 month old release of the most important framework for that language, on a branch that until rather recently was still the preferred production stack (and is still used by a bazillion websites).

I was flabbergasted. Really? Nobody thought to check to make sure the package manager release doesn't break Rails 2 completely? I'm glad to see Loren and crew step up.

sandal 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Before you make a decision for or against SlimGems, please be sure to check out my series on RubyGems, in particular note the following things that happened in the last week:

* RubyGems now promises to stay API compatible with whatever version of gems ships with the latest point release of Ruby 1.9. That means if RubyGems 1.8 ships with Ruby 1.9.3, the RubyGems 1.8 API will be preserved at a minimum until Ruby 1.9.4 comes out, which will be no sooner than 6-18 months from now.

* RubyGems has removed two deprecation warnings in 1.8.4 and 1.8.5 that account for virtually all deprecation warnings that were frustrating users.

* Bundler works out of the box on RubyGems 1.8, as does Rails 3. The next point release of Rails 2.3 will also support RubyGems 1.8. Evan Phoenix is a maintainer of both RubyGems and Bundler, and is taking the responsibility of cutting stable releases of RubyGems for the time being, which nearly guarantees there will be no further Bundler issues.

* Frequent point releases of RubyGems should hopefully be a thing of the past, because starting with RubyGems 1.9, there will be beta and release candidates running for a month long cycle before they get shipped as stable releases that get installed by gem update --system

You can find additional information here: http://blog.majesticseacreature.com/tag/rubygems

holman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm all for projects like SlimGems. You can be a cowboy in your app, you can be a cowboy in your framework, you can even be a cowboy in your language, to some extent. But package management should be as absolutely rock-solid and considerate as possible. RubyGems has been anything but. Patch versions introducing breaking changes, outwardly hostile deprecation warnings, and some fairly hostile developers. There needs to be more attention paid to Semantic Versioning (http://semver.org) and less breaking.
jrockway 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Packaging is one of those things like indentation style and text editors: nobody can ever agree.

I know this is mostly designed to be Internet Drama ("I've saved the Ruby community from the RubyGems Cowboys! Yay for me! I'm cooler than _why!!"), but the reality is, everyone wants their own package manager. Every Linux distribution has their own. Perl has three CPAN clients, two of which are in the core!

Anyway, I think this is supposed to be a Big Deal, but it's not.

tomdale 5 hours ago 1 reply      
We have been working on several JavaScript-related tools that build on top of RubyGems. The most recent versions of RubyGems issued what were, IMO, user hostile deprecation warnings, which confused and alarmed our end users. We were not aware of these changes ahead of time, and it didn't seem to be of much concern to the RubyGems maintainers.

For critical infrastructure like package management, these kind of changes can be difficult to deal with. We're switching all of our projects to SlimGems, and are going to be contributing code for improving its use as a library for other software to build on.

ghempton 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Having not felt the pain, based on the website I really don't know why to switch. Guess I'll either wait for the incompatibility issues or a compelling reason.
sgrock 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm really happy to see SlimGems released. In addition to the deprecation warnings and lack of backwards compatibility, there's been some major performance degradation in recent versions of rubygem (e.g. http://rubyforge.org/tracker/?func=detail&atid=575&a...). It's about time someone offered an alternative.
kennystone 4 hours ago 2 replies      
If this is the big complaint (from the slimgems site):

"Deprecations would not mean warning messages or method removal. We will work with the community to make sure library developers upgrade their code on a convenient time frame for everybody (years, not months), and that nothing breaks. No rush!"

Then it's the kind of lesson that can be learned from and fixed. No need for forks.

cultureulterior 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
What about debian package compability?
kindlyviking 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see slimgems also make it easier to install and manage gems programmatically (without the CLI). Using the internal rubygems classes yourself is... frustrating.
pspeter3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad I never upgraded to see these issues and that someone is taking care of them
Airbnb admits rogue sales team used Craigslist for stealthy property drive tnooz.com
88 points by thomasgerbe  6 hours ago   49 comments top 16
btilly 5 hours ago 2 replies      
There is one part of this explanation that seems weird to me.

If you read through http://davegooden.com/2011/05/how-airbnb-became-a-billion-do... and look at the links delivered, they don't have any sort of affiliate IDs. Which means that Airbnb had no way to tie this traffic to that advertising campaign, and had no tracking.

It is possible that they legitimately were willing to pay a third party contractor something based on all of their traffic, no questions asked (I've seen that kind of deal with SEO companies before), but it seems odd.

guelo 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The way the link between companies and spammers usually works is that the spammer is contracted at arms length as an 'affiliate' and is paid per lead. The company will try to be willfully ignorant of the tactics being used so they can claim that they just have an affiliate program and they don't know how the traffic is generated.

Edit: To clarify, I'm not saying that this is what Airbnb did. In fact the original post said the emails had clean urls without referral IDs. To me that suggests a sloppy internal campaign with no metrics.

rkon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
'Rogue' sales team or not, it looks like they could be facing some hefty fines under the CAN-SPAM Act: "Each separate email in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $16,000 ... both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that originated the message may be legally responsible."


Sites like Craigslist would probably be unusable if everyone spammed users the way Airbnb did, so maybe the penalties are warranted.

Joakal 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there an official response yet from PG regarding contracted use of Black Hat tactics as a starting YC company? I understand breaking the rules but black hat?

It seems like I could contract a spammer and discontinue the contractor services when getting a HN frontpage. The contractor would get a sizable exit sum. All because AirBnB is allowed to 'get away with it' after at least a year of doing it [0].

[0] http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/21/airbnb-brian-chesky/

jarin 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
Doesn't "black hat" usually imply some kind of hackery or gaming of a system?

Assuming it was people sending the emails and not automated, I would probably classify this as deceptive cold calling. It's not something you'd want your own people doing, but you might just look the other way if some PR company is doing it on your behalf.

Morally, it's probably the equivalent of making a fake viral video.

patrickgzill 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the excuse-making ... if it is OK for 1 company to spam you, then surely it is OK for 1000 companies to spam you... Craigslist should be considering legal action at this point.
chailatte 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I applaud PG for showing incredible constraint on this issue, on this board. It's like a father standing firm alongside his guilty son, while tomatoes are being thrown on them, while the cowardly son keeps mumbling lies 'It wasn't me, my friends did it. I just watched', while the father just stands there and takes it.
karzeem 6 hours ago 1 reply      
At the risk of revealing some intrinsic immorality or something, I don't really see what's wrong with this. It would be wrong of the sales team to claim to have used Airbnb for stays that never happened, or to invent false testimonials, but that's not the charge.

The allegation is that they emailed property owners and said, effectively, "Airbnb is great, you should use it" without saying how or why they came to hold that opinion. It's untruthful in the sense of not including the whole truth, but I'd put it decisively under naughty, not blackhat.

Lucadg 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is from 9 months ago

"OK, I've finally had it with this company. I post some properties on craigslist from time to time, and I get tons of spam and scammers, but one that really sticks in my craw is airbnb.com

I have emailed them more than a few times asking them to cut it out, and that soliciting clients  who post properties on craigslist is not the best way to do things.

Yet, here we go with the latest round of email solicitations from airbnb.com. I really hope someone from the company reads this. I know they are well funded by Y-combinator venture capital, so why outsource this type of work and spam?"

Interesting. Anybody know when this spamming actually stopped?

Zakuzaa 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They can't blame a sales team for this. It was their own responsibility to monitor sales team's activity.
nhangen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Better off saying nothing that trying to pretend that some rogue salespeople wanted to make money so badly that they spammed CL.
mrchess 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know why so many of you are looking for an official response from pg. Just because he invested in the company doesn't mean he can or will make statements on their behalf.

Honestly pg just probably invested, said good luck, and just went his own way checking up occasionally to chat. The guy has like 500 other things on his plate why would he micromanage airbnb?

It's their business, not pg's, so let them run it how they want to.

ChuckFrank 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain the 'on' in this statement?

Airbnb does not publish the number of properties featured on the service but has confirmed today that it currently has around 110,000 listed -- around half of those on rival rental service HomeAway.

Does that mean that half their rentals are not exclusive, and are listed on both,


Does that mean that they list half of their on HomeAway?

ChuckFrank 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here's my advice. --

Never have sales people at an arms length. Instead keep them close, carefully monitor their work and fire the rogue ones.

philgo20 5 hours ago 2 replies      
By the amount of emails sent and the similarity of emails, one could guess that they were indeed automated.

Honestly I don't really have a big problem with the tactic as both parties were winning, but I am not buying the 'rogue' sales team explanation.

Great product and business anyway.

arthurgibson 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure everyday rental companies (with real agents) in the Boston Area post fake apt listings on Craigslist to attract customers. Also I know for a fact that they harvest listings from Craigslist and rental sections of newspapers to call and email owners hounding them to list and show their apts. Whats the difference?
Google uncovers major account-hijacking campaign targeting senior US officials googleblog.blogspot.com
154 points by raldi  12 hours ago   74 comments top 11
MatthewB 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Does it bother anyone that China continues to hack us? It is very possible that this was a government-backed attack, which wouldn't be the first against Google by the Chinese government.

The biggest problem is that these don't seem to be sophisticated attacks. They didn't find a backdoor or install some malicious piece of code...they simply "hacked people" with phishing scams.

I think a great place for the US govt (and Google) to spend money would be to inform people about phishing and how to detect it. Being a savvy internet user, I sometimes forget that these scams that look ridiculous to me might very well look legitimate to someone else.

guelo 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It is great that Google is open with this stuff and the security tips were mostly good, but it was inappropriate to only recommend Chrome in a security message. All modern browsers have anti-phishing features. This came off as advertising.
jonknee 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a pretty good review of what these attacks looked like. Apparently this is part of how Google got tipped off... Spear phishing.


ck2 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Just imagine what China is doing with the official backdoor gmail is required to have for warrantless searches in the USA.

Unlike TSA gropes, officials cannot legislate themselves out of the backdoor, they might never know when their email is being read, and they did it to themselves.

qjz 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Bad actors take advantage of the fact that most people aren't that tech savvy"hijacking accounts by using malware and phishing scams that trick users into sharing their passwords, or by using passwords obtained by hacking other websites.

Passwords are obsolete. No improvement in storing or transmitting passwords securely will make them easier to remember or less likely to be shared. The approach is fundamentally flawed and cannot be used as a cradle-to-grave method of identity assurance. Unfortunately, nobody has developed an acceptable alternative.

radioactive21 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"Review the security features offered by the Chrome browser. If you don't already use Chrome, consider switching your browser to Chrome."

Nice subtle suggestion.

stcredzero 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it possible for the government to establish a separate secure network? A North American network for government communication and infrastructure control use which was entirely separated from the internet would be very useful.
krazybig 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Google should consider adding an option to lock your account access based on IP range or even a geo-located area based on IP address. There are some challenges to geo-locating IPs, and this wouldn't stop a determined hacker, but it could foil a significant number of attacks.

They also might want to provide some reporting for users to know when their account was accessed or attempted to be accessed and from where.

swaits 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Why are "Senior US Officials" using gmail?
geoffreyvanwyk 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Obvious sickening propaganda for closing down the Internet!
motters 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does this have anything to do with the backdoor API, or were the passwords just brute forced?
Making Sense of Our First Look at Windows 8 allthingsd.com
86 points by Flemlord  8 hours ago   51 comments top 10
sriramk 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Biggest part of announcement was the HTML+JS part. Let that sink in- HTML+JS is now the premier way to write Windows apps. Who would have thought this day would come?
kklimonda 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Ok, just to be sure I understand that correctly - Microsoft has invested quite a lot of money into developing Silverlight and WPF and then promoting those technologies among developers as the best thing since sliced bread (not to mention the only way to write applications for WP7) and now they are doing that? How is that for the coherent vision and a clear message to people who'd like to write for their platform?
jfoutz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
But how do you make things?

This is a fantastic way to present information. it's beautiful. I would love this on a tv, or a bunch of displays in my house. especially with an epaper non light generating kind of display.

But... but... how do you make stuff? how do you design a house? how do you write code? It seems so very very consumer.

maheshs 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a video on youtube for user interface of windows 8
JulianMorrison 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks to me like MS just declared the desktop to be dead.
Apocryphon 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Side question: we're going to see the debut of OS X Lion soon this summer, as well. How often does this happen, when we have a year when both MS and Apple reveal their upcoming operating system?
r00fus 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like a tablet OS rather than a desktop OS.

The elephant in the room is Office. How is Office going to make the transition to a Windows 8, touch-based UI and still be usable to the dozens of millions of current users?

The age-old desktop vs. touchscreen conundrum arises. Apple has two versions of it's OS: OSX for desktops, which is (currently) not a touch-based UI, and iOS for it's small and large tablet devices which is touch-based.

hmottestad 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like HP (Palm) WebOS, apps are built in html and javascript. Of course, WebOS isn't built on IE. Not that I know if Windows 8 will be, but just guessing.
petercooper 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like OS X and Linux have nothing to worry about here. It's the Microsoft Bob idea wheeled out again with a trendy minimalist feel instead of a dog.
Scala One Liners solog.co
41 points by DanielRibeiro  6 hours ago   13 comments top 6
jamesaguilar 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
This post neatly demonstrates some things I don't like about Scala. Background: I've spent thirty or forty hours programming toy projects in Scala. That's not a whole lot, but it's enough that some things should start making sense . . . and they haven't.

    (1 to 10) map { _ * 2 }
(1 to 1000).reduceLeft( _ + _ )
List(49, 58, 76, 82, 88, 90) partition ( _ > 60 )

I guess one common syntax for this pattern isn't sufficient. :( To be perfectly clear about my objection, these are the same basic operation: call a function on an iterable with an additional function argument. One is dotfree and uses braces. One uses a dot. And one is dotfree and uses parens. I feel like it would be a lot better if there were only one way to do this.

    (words.foldLeft(false)( _ || tweet.contains(_) ))

|| . . . in every other language that means "logical or". What non-intuitive connotation does it have here?

    val results = XML.load("http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?&q=scala)

Oh man, why can't it be XML.parse(URL.fetch(...)).

    (n: Int) => (2 to n) |> (r => 
r.foldLeft(r.toSet)((ps, x) => if (ps(x)) ps -- (x * x to n by x) else ps))

This language has a damn operator fetish. This is sort of ok . . . I suppose these operators mean something to someone, but why do they have to also break conventions by doing things like creating a binary --.

Despite these complaints, and many others, I'm still weirdly drawn to this language. I want a smaller version of this. Managed, non-crazy (I'm looking at you, Go), and providing functional features. But I want that in a package that doesn't give me ten million billion different ways to do the same thing.

aphyr 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Quick little transliteration to ruby:

  1. (1 to 10) map { _ * 2 }
1.upto(10).map { |x| x * 2 }

2. (1 to 1000).reduceLeft( _ + _ )
1.upto(1000).inject { |a, x| a + x }

3. val wordlist = List("scala", "akka", "play framework", "sbt", "typesafe")
wordlist = ["scala", "akka", "play framework", "sbt", "typesafe"]
val tweet = "This is an example tweet talking about scala and sbt."
tweet = "This is an example tweet talking about scala and sbt"
(words.foldLeft(false)( _ || tweet.contains(_) ))
wordlist.any? { |w| tweet[w] }

4. val FileText = io.Source.fromFile("data.txt").mkString
file_text = File.read 'data.txt'
val fileLines = io.Source.fromFile("data.txt").getLines.toList
file_lines = File.read('data.txt').lines
Or, more typically,
File.open('data.txt').each { |line| ... }

5. (1 to 4).map { i => "Happy Birthday " + (if (i == 3) "dear NAME" else "to You") }.foreach { println }
4.times { |i| puts "Happy Birthday #{i == 2 ? "dear NAME" : "to You"}" }

6. val (passed, failed) = List(49, 58, 76, 82, 88, 90) partition ( _ > 60 )
passed, failed = [49, 58, 76, 82, 88, 90].partition { |x| x > 60 }

7. val results = XML.load("http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?&q=scala")
results = Nokogiri::XML open 'http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?&q=scala'

8. List(14, 35, -7, 46, 98).reduceLeft ( _ min _ )
[14, 35, -7, 46, 98].min
[14, 35, -7, 46, 98].inject { |m, i| i > m ? i : m }

I'm impressed! Scala's lambda syntax is obviously bar none. The dual _ + _ was especially pleasing, and completely unexpected. The List() construct is also entirely warranted in place of array literals, given Scala's wide variety of collection types. On the other hand, what is this io.Source.fromFile mess? I don't understand the alternating capitalization, or the need for deep namespacing of an incredibly common type.

carsongross 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Gosu equivalents:

1) (1..10).map( \ i -> i * 2 )

2) (1..1000).sum()

3) words.hasMatch( \ word -> tweet.contains( word ) )

4) var fileText = new File("data.txt").read()

5) (1..4).map( \ i -> "Happy Birthday " + (i == 3 ? "dear Name" : "to You") ).each( \ l -> print( l ) )

6) var map = {49, 58, 76, 82, 88, 90}.partition( \ i -> i > 60 )

Note: partition() in Gosu is not limited to a true/false codomain.

7) var x = XmlElement.parse( new URL("http://www.yahoo.com/) )

8) {14, 35, -7, 46, 98}.min() or {14, 35, -7, 46, 98}.max()

9) No equivalent, there is no parallel stuff built into Gosu as of yet.

10) No equivalent, there is no operator overloading in Gosu.

I agree with the comment above pointing out that all of this is available (or easy to mimic) in most high level languages.

However, I think that the different flavor of Gosu and Scala is apparent from this list: Scala tends towards abstraction, reusing .reduceLeft() and the magic underscores to express things, whereas Gosu has distinct functions for common operations and requires named closure arguments. Our take is that this makes Gosu code easier to understand and maintain but, of course, that is subjective.

It's just that we're right.


kingkilr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I supposed to be impressed? Just about all of these are oneliners in most high level programming languages. The test of a languages expressiveness is much bigger programs.
MostAwesomeDude 2 hours ago 1 reply      
For Python:

1) Here we note that Python's range() is not RH-inclusive.

  [i * 2 for i in range(1, 11)]

2) Ugh, reduce().

  reduce(operator.add, range(1, 1001))

3) any() is awesome.

  wordlist= ["scala", "akka", "play framework", "sbt", "typesafe"]
tweet = "This is an example tweet talking about scala and sbt."
any(word in tweet for word in wordList)

4) These are not very idiomatic in Python, but that's alright.

  fileText = open("data.txt").read()
fileLines = open("data.txt").readlines()

5) Hm, interesting. To make it print correctly, I used a newline join.

  print "\n".join("Happy Birthday %s" % ("dear NAME" if i == 3 else "to You") for i in range(1, 5))

6) Ah, this is where it becomes apparent that Python is not a functional language. On the other hand, this version doesn't hide the actual expense of list allocation, so I guess it evens out. Can somebody come up with a better answer here?

  passed = []; failed = []; [passed.append(i) if i > 60 else failed.append(i) for i in [49, 58, 76, 82, 88, 90]]

7) Not gonna bother. Use lxml.

8) Oh, this is easy.

  min([14, 35, -7, 46, 98])
max([14, 35, -7, 46, 98])

9) Entire books have been written on this. Python does have multiprocessing.Pool.map(), though it takes a bit of setup.

10) Whew, this took me a second. You'll want to import some of these from itertools, and it needs to be redefined each time, since lambdas can't really define local stuff easily. On the plus side, it's shorter than the Scala flavor, and relies on standard stuff. :3

  g = lambda l=[2]: ifilter(lambda x: (all(x % i for i in l) and (l.append(x) or True)), count(3))

That was fun!

BasDirks 39 minutes ago 0 replies      

  map (*2) [1..10]


  sum [1..1000]

Haskell, will post all 10 after work unless someone beats me to it.

Tennessee passes Web entertainment theft bill latimes.com
7 points by jessedhillon  1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
ggchappell 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I do not think this is well explained. There is no point in going on about whether password sharing is a bad thing. That is is already very clear in the legal system. If it is a TOS violation, then a contract or license has been breached; that is officially "bad".

However, that kind of "bad" is normally a civil matter. This bill appears to be moving it into the criminal realm. Thus, the key paragraph in the article is this one:

> Under the measure, download services that believe they are getting ripped off can go to law enforcement authorities and press charges.

But I would change "they are getting ripped off" to the more factual "their terms of service are being violated" -- assuming that is what the bill actually says (which seems likely).

Thus, the real point here seems to be that -- as is becoming more common of late -- the police and the criminal courts are being pressed into service as an enforcement arm of the entertainment industry (and possibly other industries as well, depending on how broad the language of the bill is).

jessedhillon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
TL;DR -- first paragraph: "State lawmakers in the capital of country music have passed a groundbreaking measure that would make it a crime to use a friend's log-in " even with permission " to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody."
The New Windows 8 UI: Trying to be Too Many Things to Too Many Devices? siliconfilter.com
14 points by FredericLL  3 hours ago   7 comments top 2
Qz 2 hours ago 2 replies      
On a tablet, having to deal with these legacy tools like the Explorer, simply ruins the experience.

Sure they showed the regular Explorer interface, but there was also clearly a new UI for file browsing as well, so I don't think people will 'have to deal with legacy tools' at all.

On a side note: whenever I see 'Tweet@rama' my brain short circuits trying to say 'tweet-o-rama' and 'tweet-at-rama' simultaneously.

sosuke 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the interface will work great for the tablet form factor, why is being able to run non-touch specific applications seen as a problem? When did extra features become a minus?

Besides I think this will work great on all the touch screen desktops and laptops that I believe are coming. I get to go into business mode when I need to program or I can stay in the light touch interface when I am just consuming content.

JQuery WormHole rotify.com
33 points by redemade  5 hours ago   15 comments top 8
JoshTriplett 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting, but when I saw the two regions I immediately wanted to drag an object from one region directly to the other, rather than out the bottom of one into the top of the other. The wormhole seems interesting for cases similar to the stated use case (scheduling across day boundaries), but for the common case of moving items between different regions, some mechanism for dragging directly between the two regions would make the interaction more smooth.
Zakharov 5 hours ago 2 replies      
When I drag the red rectangle around in the left container, bits of it sometimes get "stuck" in the right container. I'm doing this in Chrome 11.0.696.71 on Ubuntu 10.04, if that helps.
r00fus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool. Would be nice to be able to specify the edges that "connect" between the two containers... would definitely be useful in either education apps or a more visual way to do multi selection+order lists (aka List Builder).
benatkin 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm mildly annoyed when I see parts of a portmanteau capitalized. It's wormhole, not worm hole, so the CamelCase would be Wormhole, not WormHole.

A really neat idea, though!

marcc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks cool, but it doesn't work at all on an iPad. Just something to keep in mind if you use this as an integral part of your UI.
chmike 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sad that I can't make it work with my iPad.
redemade 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no idea how I would use this but it is so cool
lrenn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> (c) Copyright John M. Hope 2011. Released under the Don't be a Dick (DD) license.
Oracle 'donates' OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation zdnet.co.uk
138 points by rb01usa  13 hours ago   24 comments top 10
codeup 12 hours ago 2 replies      
As expected Oracle didn't donate it to The Document Foundation. There will be more calls to merge the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects now. That is really what needs to be done, both office suites are still almost identical.

The Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation have to overcome their egos and do the right thing. Then we could credit TDF with 'liberating' OOO and ASF with closing the deal.

If they don't merge OOO and LO this 'donation' could create a new division in the Open Source community.

fingerprinter 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of those things that I can read as both good news and bad news.

I'm really hopeful that the LibreOffice and OOo communities could now get together and work together and even collapse the code base to one codebase again, but I'm doubtful that will happen. It would be a huge shame to see split efforts continue as it would hurt both projects and, frankly, they are both still lacking FAR behind any of the proprietary competitors.

Not to mention Calligra is rapidly gaining ground on both. If Calligra gets the same level of MS office compatibility, it would leapfrog both OOo and LibreOffice in my mind.

This is going to be a test of the two communities and their ability to see the big picture as well as navigate a political situation. I really am wondering how they will both will fare.

sciurus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
GNOME and LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks' summary:

"Apparently this is a somewhat divisive attempt by an exiting Oracle, along with IBM to sideline the existing developer community, their governance, their aspirations, membership, licensing choice (explicitly adapted to meet IBM's needs incidentally), bylaws, and so on. All of this despite a profound, frequently stated open-ness to including new (particularly large) corporate contributors inside TDF, and taking their advice seriously."


mbreese 12 hours ago 2 replies      
It sounds to me like Oracle realized that they didn't quite grok community driven open-source projects and are finally starting to donate them to good homes (Jenkins to Eclipse and OOo to Apache). All it took was for the projects to go through the hell of major forks before Oracle realized what was going on.

It's probably too late to engender any kind of good will out to this though. They put both of those communities through hell. And neither of these products fall under an Oracle core-competency.

But I wouldn't expect the same result with either Java or MySQL anytime soon. Those are both things that Oracle "gets" and knows how to extract profit from.

cschep 11 hours ago 2 replies      
LibreOffice is such a bad name, hopefully if they merge back to OpenOffice and drop the stupid .org from their name. Is it the name of the project or their website? nobody knows!
irrelative 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Why the quotes around "donates"? This doesn't seem like a white elephant, or a trojan horse. It's commendable that they gave it up rather than let it rot.
joeyh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Bradley Kuhn's take on this is that "relicensing part of the codebase out from under LibreOffice may actually be the most insidious attack Oracle and IBM could make on the project"


nextparadigms 12 hours ago 1 reply      
After they chased everyone away, now they just to just get rid of it and save themselves the hassle.They might as well donate all their Java patents to Google and save themselves another embarrassment.
jabo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
How about donating MySQL too!
jnw2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a good argument against Oracle releasing ZFS under the GPL (so that it could be integrated into the Linux kernel)?
This Guy Has My MacBook, Caught by Police theage.com.au
17 points by nreece  2 hours ago   8 comments top 5
ghshephard 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Reason #1 to always request a receipt when purchasing anything. It's entirely possible that the Cab Driver just thought he was getting a good deal off of craigslist, but, without a receipt, he's now in possession of stolen property.

Also a good reason for the purchaser to visit the seller's place of residence, instead of having them come to your home.

w1ntermute 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
For those who think this was an invasion of the thief's privacy, it's nothing compared to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4oB28ksiIo&t=3m12s
Luyt 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's actually quite sad you first have to instigate a media racket before the police will even look into your case.
Nishank 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
"A representative for the product's London-based developer, Flipcode, did not respond to emails on Wednesday."

This is why you regularly check your general inbox. Guaranteed PR opportunity that was missed by the app developer. A single response would have resulted in a quote and a more elaborate mention of the app.

whackedspinach 50 minutes ago 0 replies      

    The laptop's return was the culmination of a one-man crusade of online
sleuthing, social networking and moments of voyeuristic creepiness
aided by the software called Hidden.

This appears to be the software that got the job done: http://hiddenapp.com/

Nothing better than a viral success story to generate press for an app like this.

Autodidactism for the chronically lazy and hyperactive somebeautifulplace.tumblr.com
77 points by lhnz  9 hours ago   15 comments top 5
MJR 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Chronically lazy and hyperactive

If you have those two traits I suggest you also research ADHD/ADD/Adult ADD. There are tactics and strategies out there specifically designed to help those who struggle maintaining focus for extended periods of time. There are also medical options which can greatly improve your ability to focus, process thoughts, live a more manageable, productive existence and have better relationships with those around you. I share this because I know and have experienced this myself.

spacemanaki 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like pretty good advice for anyone who wants to do better at learning-on-your own, lazy and hyperactive or not. I especially like the idea of writing down non-obvious things, as I've found that helpful in the past but have never really gotten into the habit.
kiba 9 hours ago 1 reply      
These are nice advice and all....but do they work? Anybody done any studies on them?
lliiffee 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love to hear about specifically what habits you find useful.
dylanrw 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazing advice, building in teaching mechanisms into every day action is a really great one. I try and live by all of these...
Emacs Pinky wikipedia.org
24 points by rickdale  4 hours ago   20 comments top 8
noelwelsh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I maintain that if you're not remapping key you shouldn't be using Emacs -- not just to avoid RSI but also because the whole point of a customisable editor is to well... customise it to suit you better.

Pro tips:

- Don't press multiple keys with one hand. If you're pressing Ctrl-A, press the A with your left hand and control with your right hand.

- Remap common functions onto function keys. They're easy to press and will give your hands a break.

- Look into a Maltron/Kinesis keyboard. I have a Maltron and it pwns hard any other keyboard I've ever used.

sayemm 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Swapping caps-lock and control was one of the best decisions I made when starting on Emacs, first item on Steve Yegge's list - http://sites.google.com/site/steveyegge2/effective-emacs
nunb 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Emacs pinky is mostly a fault of keyboard designs. Emacs' reliance on ctrl-combos exacerbates this (vi has fewer issues, Esc and the colon).

Typematrix.com keyboards ameliorate this, as do the (not shipping yet) keyboards at trulyergonomic.com

Thumbs should be used for common keys, the Maltron, Kinesis and Typematrix keyboards make this possible.

So does the Alphagrips.com device, which I am eagerly awaiting.

johnm 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Get a Kinesis Advantage (Pro) keyboard. It's by far the best keyboard for coding. It moves all of the control/meta/etc. keys to the thumbs -- yes you can finally utilize both thumbs and it makes a huge difference.

The only downside is that it only comes in one size and so people who have large hands / long fingers might find it too cramped.

ipince 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I use my palm to press control, instead of my pinky. I know it sounds really weird, but maybe it helps others. Im also interested in seeing if Im the only weirdo :-)
dcolgan 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I have reduced a lot of unnecessary hand movement by moving the Control keys to either side of the space bar where the Alt keys normally are, and moving the Alt keys to the keys next to those where the Windows keys usually are. With this I can hit all of the modifier keys with my thumbs.

I also have CapsLock mapped to Backspace, and use the Dvorak keyboard layout. All of these combined minimize strain on my pinkies and the rest of my fingers, reduces the need for hand contortions, and lets stronger fingers do more work.

barendt 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone recommend a keyboard where key presses are very low impact?

I'm getting Emacs Pinky in most of my fingers and could use something to reduce stress on them. dcolgan's suggest key mappings are something I'm going to try, but a better keyboard can't hurt, either.

bsiemon 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Rock climbing is the best thing I have found to both prevent and relieve the various problems created by long hours spent coding.
We want software patents abolished askforit.com
131 points by ajennings  13 hours ago   17 comments top 6
JoachimSchipper 12 hours ago 1 reply      
A comment that is [dead], but worth seeing:

    ajennings 1 hour ago | link [dead]

AskForIt is my startup, by the way. :)

andrewvc 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe snopes had the final word on this


This change, sadly, needs to come from industry, with big $ behind it.

andrewcross 12 hours ago 2 replies      
In the case of software, a patent doesn't promote innovation, it hampers it. Allowing a company to sit on it's laurels for 20 years because they patented something as simple as swiping left to right to unlock a screen is absurd.

This isn't to say that companies shouldn't be able to protect their products. Trademarks are very valuable and help prevent cheap knockoffs, but patents aren't being used to protect their products against knock-offs. They are being used to force other companies to find complicated workarounds for a simple problem.

shareme 6 hours ago 1 reply      
a better way:

If we convince US congress that they are losing tax dollars for each software patent awarded the change in law may happen quicker.

d3x 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Its very easy to get upset at Lodsys for being scummy patent trolls but what about companies like Facebook

see: http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=3365

IMHO they are just as bad because if they filled for these patents then eventually they will decide to enforce them.

madflo 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess that going out of the patent business in the US will be a battle as big as the one that we are currently fighting in Europe in order to keep software patents out of the EU.
Blunt and necessary review of programming language books. drdobbs.com
168 points by thewonggei  17 hours ago   90 comments top 15
GeneralMaximus 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I'd been meaning to pick up a new language, and a few weeks ago I pared down my list of choices to two languages: Scala and Go. Then I went looking for "official" tutorials/references. For Scala I found Scala by Example, a 145 page PDF that comes with the Scala docs. For Go, I found the Go tutorial -- a very short tutorial with a bunch of examples.

I picked Go because, seriously, I don't have time to read 145 pages just to get started. I'd be fine if Scala By Example introduced me to the major features of the language in a single whirlwind tour so I could at least start solving simple algorithmic problems, but the Scala folks went for something more elaborate. If it works for them, cool.

Ever read the Python tutorial? Even though it omits a bunch of important stuff, like decorators, it gives you enough information to get started with the language. A more dedicated learner can just read the PEPs or the language reference to learn about advanced features as he needs.

This is what I do with Go these days: look up features I'm having trouble with in the reference.

A friend once said this: "I'm convinced that in reality the documentation is the product."

peterb 17 hours ago 6 replies      
I agree 100%. K&R is the standard all authors should strive for. The length of these books is also our fault. Bigger books sell better. I hope there is a backlash brewing. K&R, Little Schemer, Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns, were all great small books.
100k 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Part of this stems from a pre-internet mentality. "Of course I need a full function reference! Where else would I find it?" Now you just Google it. A thinner book can leave the reference to the search engines, but for some reason this older way has become entrenched.
Apocryphon 14 hours ago 0 replies      
His point about JavaScript is great. Based on Amazon reviews, I couldn't find a single concise tutorial book for beginners from any of the major publishers. I finally bit the bullet and bought the paperback version of Eloquent Javascript (http://eloquentjavascript.net/) which is not only updated compared to the site, but looks to be very promising in terms of brevity and emphasizing hands-on portions. If I wanted a reference guide I have my copy of JavaScript: The Good Parts.
Rickasaurus 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I've been begging publishers to let me have a go at a ~100 page F# tutorial book, but they've told me again and again that books without a wide enough profile on the shelf just won't sell.

It's sad really. I hope ePublishing fixes this.

drblast 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It might be better now than since I last looked, but the one language I haven't found a good tutorial for is Haskell.

All the ones I've seen either dumb things down way too much with cartoons and such until they're difficult to slog through and pick out the relevant info, or they assume the reader either already has a working knowledge of Haskell syntax or a working knowledge of group theory.

bartonfink 15 hours ago 0 replies      
A further point is that digital distribution does NOT relieve the author of the responsibility to pare down a book. An 1800 page PDF is just as bulky and opaque as an 1800 page book, even though I don't have to lug the PDF around with me.
Goladus 14 hours ago 0 replies      
In the long run (and often even in the beginning) I find well-written, well-organized reference material to be more useful than a tutorial guide.

I did not use Lutz to learn python, for example, I used David Beazley's Python Essential Reference. He includes a brief tutorial of the implementation and basic language features and moves to a large selection of the python standard library. My favorite C book is the reference by Harbison and Steele, which is a careful, thorough, and detailed reference of the language features and some of the standard library.

notsosmart 16 hours ago 18 replies      
So aside from K&R, what are some of the best small books?
zyfo 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Too bad authors get paid by publishers by the number of pages, and publishers push the books to education, where the attention economy takes care of the rest.

Good thing that programmers are more often self-learned, which makes the problem relatively benign compared to say, economics books.

tehjones 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Publishers that I have learnt to avoid (overly verbose, code snippets instead of working programs.

Addison Wesley


O'Reilly(cookbooks fare better)

revscat 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the Java book -- tome -- he talks about, and completely agree. I purchased it years ago when I was first learning the language, and after attempting to slough through it I wound up giving up.

It has been my experience that the books I get the most out of are the more concise ones. There appears to be a negative correlation between the size of a programming book and its actual usefulness.

johnzabroski 9 hours ago 0 replies      
EDIT: Duh! His email is at the bottom of the article. Oof.

How can I get in touch with Andrew Binstock? (The author of this wonderful article.)

qntm 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Programming Perl is definitely guilty of this.
timepilot 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Completely agree!!
New Hackermonthly issue (13, June) hackermonthly.com
4 points by hiperlink  1 hour ago   discuss
Google +1 button for websites googleblog.blogspot.com
108 points by abraham  14 hours ago   80 comments top 25
duopixel 13 hours ago 10 replies      
Google is trying to throw it's weight at something it's competitors already do better. Even if it does catch on, we all lose with the social sharing craze that is littering the web. More clutter, slower loading pages, and gimmicks to get to you upvote a site.

This has happened before, first it was the syndication format craze with icons for RSS, RSS 2.0, atom, xml, etc. Then it was the aggregator craze (Digg, Reddit, StumpleUpon, etc) and now it's the social craze (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

There's a clear need for sharing what you like, from the perspective of the user and the publisher. I've put these buttons into my design, but I'd rather see the browsers' favorites revamped into a searchable database that allows easy sharing and get rid of this madness.

bad_user 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Pff, doesn't work with Google Apps accounts, as these accounts can't have a Google Profile.

So here is Google offering me the best and most useful online service I ever used (Google Apps), and they can't integrate it with their services properly.

tristanperry 14 hours ago 4 replies      
It'll be good to test this feature; it sounds like it could be a useful addition to the other social-esque 'like this' type buttons.

One thing though, the 'add +1 to your website' page (http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/index.html) is broken for me.

I see the following in vanilla Firefox 4.0.1, Windows 7 64-bit:


Changing the settings doesn't fix the fact that the preview doesn't appear (and that its bounding box is overflowing)

Just an FYI.

anigbrowl 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish it came with a -1 as well, but I imagine that will develop by itself. Significantly, this is based on your contacts, rather than what everyone at Facebook/Digg/whoever likes. I think this is a winning characteristic.
braindead_in 13 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing that's going in it's favor is the SEO advantage you get. This data is eventually going to play some role in the SERP rankings, one way or other. I'm not sure if it's confirmed by Google, but it apparent enough. That's incentive enough for sites to add this button.
bauchidgw 14 hours ago 0 replies      
well, lets just hope they don't just deprecate it - due to the "economic burden" - the second after we all implemented it.
yahelc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Best feature here: built-in support for callback functions. Makes Google Analytics integration seamless!
pasbesoin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Given what my friends "Like" on FB (I'm friends with them for other reasons), a similar signal (aka "noise") in Google search results seems almost or actually to be a disincentive, for me personally, to forming "connections".

I think this may be an attempt to conflate two things that for some (many?) remain separate domains.

EDIT: OTOH, general initiatives to improve search results (i.e. Panda) have been quite useful, for me.

Now I'm sitting here, wondering why/how I end up repeatedly sounding negative about various Google "social" initiatives -- as actually incorporated. It's not that I'm against their trying. But... they do seem to keep missing the mark.

tmugavero 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Ugh, another button. The check-in buttons are coming next. Soon, there will be an aggregate button that lets you Like, Follow, +1, Check-in, Tweet, Post to FB, and save the page for later. There will be no more corporate or personal websites to house the aggregate button either. They will live on an aggregate page which has all the feeds from all the social networks in one place. This aggregate page will itself live on a social network which will have many clones that need to be aggregated. Goodbye signal, hello noise.
mtgentry 14 hours ago 4 replies      
It's unclear what the user gains by clicking on a +1 button. Clearly my friends won't see my recommendations because Google doesn't connect me to them.

They should just come out and say "listen, we know search is broken. We need your help to fix it! Click on this button when you see something you like on the web."

Position it as a passionate call to arms to all google users. Right now it feels like a boring press release.

paulnelligan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm feeling like this is another 'Buzz', another failed attempt to get social. The proposed idea of sharing stuff with my 'friends and contacts' rings very hollow, since the vast majority of my google contacts are people I've only emailed once, and never have met. For a company seemingly filled with very smart people, this is a pretty basic mistake.


rglover 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Out of all of Google's social efforts, this is the most promising yet. What's unique about this is that (if they're keeping a search oriented business model) it could allow for a more social ranking system. In other words, after a link gets so many recommendations, it moves up in search. I for one would love a search feature where I could click "recommended" and see if anyone I know has had experience with the topic. Baby steps are imperative with this one.
Sephr 12 hours ago 1 reply      
What's with everyone making up tag names and undefined namespaces nowadays? <g:plusone>? A simple <span> with a class or data attribute would suffice.
johnyzee 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Isn't "+1" kind of an insider reference to the Slashdot voting system? It may be instantly recognizable to us, but is it really intuitive what this does to the vast masses of everyday-Joe internet users? Seems to me like another hit from engineer driven Google product development.

Also: "But sometimes you want to +1 a page while you're on it. After all, how do you know you want to suggest that recipe for chocolate flan if you haven't tried it out yet?"

I may be having a case of the Mondays here or something, but I really hate this kind of forced chipperness in corporate communication, and I am seeing a lot of it from Google, most recently in the 'funny' "Let's put more cats on the internet!" marketing for the Chrome netbook. Again it seems like some high-brow Google engineers, based on statistical evidence that humans have feelings, decided to employ some grandmother type to filter all their marketing through.

olalonde 6 hours ago 0 replies      
In case anyone's wondering how to add the +1 button to their Posterous (which doesn't allow Javascript), feel free to use this iframe:

    <!-- default size: 110x30, tall: 50x60 -->
<iframe src="http://dev.syskall.com/plusone/?url={Permalink}&size=tall" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border:0;width:50px;height:60px;"></iframe>

I'll publish the PHP script on my github[1] shortly in case you want to host it yourself.

[1] https://github.com/olalonde/google-plusone-posterous

mikecane 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised WordPress.com wasn't on board with this at the start. It already has Like buttons (ugh) as well as Twitter, Facebook, etc. WordPress is otherwise great at getting its blog posts into Google results, so I figured this was a natural.
notYoursAtAll 11 hours ago 2 replies      
added to my Enterprise hosts file: (for workers) www.co2stats.com apis.google.com l.sharethis.com w.sharethis.com wd.sharethis.com plusone.google.com platform.twitter.com www.google-analytics.com seg.sharethis.com

any others I am missing? need to make sure this garbage is kept off of business workstations and the network

petervandijck 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Which friends though? Who are these friends that I am recommending it to??
kaerast 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This has the same problem as Facebook Likes - you can create a +1 for a url other than the one you are currently on. And spot the javascript callback which encourages a '+1 this page to reach the video' setup.
executive 13 hours ago 1 reply      
and yet there is no +1 button on that page..
zitterbewegung 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I sort of have an issue with the name. I can understand that the average user would understand Facebook's Like and Twitters follow but I see that +1 is sort of technical jargon...
hxf148 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Tried to integrate it on http://infostripe.com but ran into issues of it not rendering as expected or when expected, the counter balloon having some CSS background issues.

I'll try it again in a bit but I am disappointed so far with the implementation. Maybe it's getting crushed.. but it is Google..

AndyNemmity 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Well, the +1 button worked for a good 10 minutes, and then my site stops responding trying to pull the js from google. down for 2 minutes, now back up again.

Must be a frenzy.

EDIT: when it came back up, it also didn't have my saved +1. I had to redo it.

Seems pretty buggy right now.

EDIT 2: Okay, my site is down again. I'm removing the button for awhile.

prasunsen 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Funny, the "Get code" link in the email Google sent me goes to 404 page. Fail.
jarin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, I've added it to one of my clients' sites (NOT WORK SAFE http://www.dirtyhotproductions.com NOT WORK SAFE).

I'm not sure if anyone will use it on there (especially with the big warning about your +1s being publicly viewable), but here's hoping it boosts search engine rankings at least.

Show HN: Interviewing devs made easy codeinterview.me
57 points by AhtiK  10 hours ago   33 comments top 15
Tiomaidh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I started watching the first video, and it said "Check out the remake". "Okay," I say, "if it's better, why isn't it on the main site? If it's not better...why is it so prominent?" And then it turned out that both videos were, in a word, awful. You lost me after the first 100 seconds or so of each one. I don't know if they ever advertised your website--I didn't get that far. PS: The one on the main site has misspellings in the lyrics.

I also looked at the main description:

>Let your candidates code in their own IDE where they
>feel comfortable and check the results in Google Docs.

"Ah," I think, "he's about to pull some kind of voodoo so that I can show my interviewer what I can do with Vim and SLIME." Then I actually investigated, and found out that by "their own IDE" you mean a "common IDE", and by "common IDE" you actually were referring to only two IDEs, neither of which I have used or want to use.

The web version is actually cool, and I'll probably use it with my friends (I actually just finished typing some code into Facebook to help a friend out--it would've been great to use this website instead). But I had my hopes built up about my "own IDE", so using the web interface turned out to be disappointing.

So my humble suggestions:

1) Trash both videos.

2) Change some wording to make it clear that most people will use a web interface that niftily allows real-time editing by two people.

3) Since your product is so cool, mention that if the customer uses Eclipse or IDEA, there's a plugin so he can use his own IDE!

tomjen3 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Honestly I wouldn't be very happy doing live coding in a stressful situation in some random web interface (emacs not supported? heretic) - half of the time would be wasted on writing import statements, non essential functions, etc.

I understand why companies would want to see somebody code, but if they can critique some code that they have never seen before that is properly as good a signal and it is easier to give the same test to the candidates.

rohitnair 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Or just use a screen sharing tool like Skype. That's how I got interviewed by the company I'm working for right now, and no browser based tool can match it. I could use my favorite editor(Vim) and show off my command line skills too. It was one of the best interview experiences I had.
ssebro 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is this free? B/c you're not charging for your product, I'm skeptical that you'll be around long enough for it to make sense to learn how to use your product. Remember you're target is businesses, who are much less price sensitive, and are much more interested in stability. PLEASE CHARGE.
mmaunder 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Upvoted for the ...and so you code.. song. Nice one!
gacba 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Another alternative: http://i.seemikecode.com/

A little lower barrier to make an interview, although there's no IDE involved.

koenigdavidmj 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Any chance of having one of these that works two-way? I have found a need to type things back to the candidate.
iam 5 hours ago 0 replies      
How does this work exactly? I'm on Firefox 3.6 and I can't type anything into the box. Same goes for IE8.

I don't know who you're targeting, but I certainly don't expect interview candidates to be running the latest and greatest.

Finally, the URL is way too complicated to give out over the phone... oops?

zbowling 9 hours ago 1 reply      
or just use etherpad.
georgecalm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks great! It's very simple and useful.

One comment: on both (interviewee & interviewer) page I'd recommend having a box in the right rail with the following:

"Give this pin: * to the interview[er|ee].
If you already have a pin, enter it here:


webspiderus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
typo in Why Do You Need CodeInterview: "How do you know his is a ninja?". I'm assuming this wasn't as intentional as blag may have been ;)
ecaroth 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool idea! I have been going through the dev hiring process currently, and it is a huge pain in the ass to write up a test and email it to everybody, then review the answers and try to keep them straight. It would be great if the interviewers could create specific questions and keep track of individual candidates answers, as well as comment on specific parts of the answer and (maybe) even rate the answers or sort them by 'best' answer for internal use.
anonymoushn 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you select languages other than Java in the web interface?
ashishg 10 hours ago 5 replies      
Awesome. Are there any competitors?
kadabra9 10 hours ago 1 reply      
looks pretty cool, congrats.

btw the blog link in the nav says "blag'

Battleships: a ridiculous but awesome idea scottlocklin.wordpress.com
188 points by fogus  18 hours ago   139 comments top 26
lionhearted 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Actually a pretty good article, despite the inaccuracies noted here in other comments. The author uses some hyperbole and makes some errors, but still an interesting discussion regarding phalanx vs. maneuver warfare.

While we're picking on individual parts, though -

> For missile silos, just target the enemy's silos with lots of missiles and you can duke it out and win (just like the phalanx). If he puts his missiles on rail cars, you haven't got a chance of hitting them all.

Technically that's true, but I think the reason countries use missile silos and stationary bases is actually for ability to protect key installations and arms during domestic unrest and rioting, which is a statistically much more likely problem for a world power than getting hit with a first strike from another major world power without any warning or preparation time.

Still, even with some errors and exaggerations, it was quite an interesting read.

_djo_ 17 hours ago  replies      
This is not exactly convincing. Battleships, far from being a ridiculous idea, were a logical and necessary step for any navy wishing to project power at sea. They were so heavily armoured and gunned that for a long time, from the late 19th Century to just before WWII, the only realistic defence against a battleship was another battleship.

While the Battle of Jutland may seem silly, the alternative would have been a bunch of smaller ships duking it out (probably for a similar result) or only one side possessing battleships and annihilating the other side.

Manoeuvre warfare with a lighter fleet was not an option, as smaller vessels had smaller guns that frequently could not even penetrate a battleship's armour. So a battleship would've been able to pick off opponents at ease while they struggled to cause any damage. It's no good getting inside your opponent's OODA loop if you can't cause any damage.

And the technology that would have permitted another nation to bypass the idea of a battleship altogether and attack it from a different angle just did not exist at the time. It was only decades after Jutland that naval aircraft and aircraft carriers became fast and advanced enough to make the aerial bombing and torpedoing of enemy vessels a real possibility. These days missiles are the great equalisers.

Manoeuvre warfare is fantastically effective when the circumstances allow for it, but the available conditions, technology and personnel can sometimes make it ineffective. For instance, the German Blitzkrieg was extraordinarily effective against the static French defences in 1940, but the same forces and tactics came unstuck in 1941 when faced with a vicious winter and the Russian scorched earth style of defence.

With reference to the hacker context, the lesson is that simply moving quickly isn't enough. You also need to understand what a competitor's real weaknesses are as well as understand which parts of their strengths you're incapable of attacking. If your enemy has battleships and all you have are frigates, then maybe you shouldn't be fighting them at sea.

zeteo 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"in their heyday of displacement speed vessels, [battleships] were the fastest things on the high seas"

Cruisers and destroyers were always faster than battleships (they had to be), displacement hull and all. It gives no confidence when you start the article with a glaring factual error.

"The idea of battleships duking it out in the high seas is pretty ridiculous when you stop to think about it. It never really happened unless you count the Battle of Jutland."

If you write such an article, you should do a bit of research and be at least dimly aware of the battles of Tsushima, Heligoland Bight, Moon Sound etc. etc. etc. Battleships were indeed a bit slower, but when they showed up they instantly dominated the field with their range and firepower. Even in WW2, when the carrier greatly reduced their importance, battleships fought a few very important engagements, e.g. Denmark Strait and second battle of Guadalcanal.

It's easy to deride things you don't understand as "tumescent penii". But the historical fact is, for about half a century after 1890, battleships were indeed the most effective (and also expensive) naval weapons system in existence.

pragmatic 17 hours ago 2 replies      
The relevant part (to us hackers) is the use of maneuver warfare vs "phalanx" fighting.

Think of Msft, Oracle, IBM, Apple as the phalanx fighters. They lock shields and charge, spending millions (billions) of dollars (instead of soldiers).

The problem is their tactics are clumsy. Imagine all the Microsoft VP's circling the wagons around really bad _implementations_ (the ideas aren't bad) - I'm sure you can thing of some.

If you are lean agile Mongol (hacker) you can easily run around them and attack them from the back.

Your OODA loop is much tighter. You can maneuver and decide much better than a big hierarchical organization.


The Smartphone Wars: Tightening the OODA Loop

FlowerPower 17 hours ago 2 replies      
"Just as Western Civilization staggered and faded after the fall of Rome, Western Civilization has never really recovered from the shock of the Great War. Cultures which endured and developed over a thousand years were wiped out, never to return again. Western culture, abstract thought and artistic development: nothing important has developed since 1919; we're still reeling from the shock."

What a load of bollocks. The author hasnt heard of the situationism, dada-ism, Zerzan or Sartre but for sure the western civilization has.

Further on "The Mongols never had the societal organization the West did, so they could never take advantage of their successes, and their various empires only served to make the Russians and Chinese paranoid, and Eastern European women more exotic looking.".

This is also bollocks, the mongols successfully ruled a vast area from China to Europe, the silk road was again revived, you could travel from Poland to Peking and not get robbed. The mongols collected all the taxes from such a vast region, even after Djenghis Khan died, thats some hell of organization right there.

On manuvre warfare, Alexander The Graeat (or as persions like to call him Alexander the Gay) certanly knew about this.

crikli 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I've observed a principle that militaries build to win the last total war they fought. This is why guys like Billy Mitchell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Mitchell) were ignored about the importance of air power leading up to WWII. The status quo was to gear up for another WWI, complete with entrenched and barely mobile front lines.

But of course the German Blitzkreig, a brilliant archetype of maneuver warfare, overran these emplacements, the fixed system of defense built by the French being the best example (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line).

The US military has been developed for the last 60 years to re-win World War II; even the Cold War was really just the US and Russia building to re-win WWII until Russia ran out of cash.

As one can see given the issues that the US military has had in Iraq and Afghanistan the WWII methods of battle, which have devolved back to phalanx warfare, are struggling (again) to defeat maneuver warfare.

Jd 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I had an interesting conversation with Martin van Creveld not long ago about fighter jets. Since he is one of the more famous military historians out there, he often gets asked for advice by senior defense personnel. Lots of European governments asked him if they should purchase F22s, etc. from the US. His advice, get UAVs, fighters don't matter any more (He just wrote the definitive book on the history of Air Power, btw).

Anyways, no one actually takes his advice. Acquisitions are always busy buying supplies for the last war. Surprise, surprise.

werpon 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Big warships could accomodate bigger cannons. Bigger cannons could deliver bigger shells further, enabling your warships to hit the enemy while keeping out of their range.

These capital ships aren't being built today because missiles and fighter planes suddenly negated their advantage, not because they weren't a good idea to begin with.

IMHO it's an overwhelming act of condescension pretending to be smarter than thousands of admirals and military advisors, many of them with lots of real world experience fighting wars and stuff.

lefstathiou 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe the article misses the point that America, through it's complete dominance of the air and seas, has made naval warfare largely irrelevant for 99% of countries - hence their lack of will or desire to build them. The world saw centuries of naval proliferation up to WW2.
Jd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think anyone has pointed this out in a comment yet...

What is better with very expensive but obsolete machinery than to people use their machinery to duke it out. Will things explode and sink "at great cost" ? Well yes, that's sort of the point. It is even more costly to keep them afloat and maintained.

To those who think this is cruel, European powers periodically fought wars with each other for thousands of years before 1914, they just never were quite as catastrophic (enter chemical weapons and, later, nukes). Hell, the Catholic church tried to ban jousting many times since... you guessed it, people frequently died trying to poke each other with sticks for the sake of scarves from pretty ladies.


JabavuAdams 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> Western culture, abstract thought and artistic development: nothing important has developed since 1919; we're still reeling from the shock.

Information theory? Software? Modern quantum mechanics?

Yeah, I know there's been no important stuff except that important stuff.

nickpinkston 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like The Battle of Jutland actually had 78 torpedo boats on the German side - didn't they get the maneuver memo?


arethuza 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Having a large battleship collection does allow you to line them up nicely for review:


nl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Some guy called Napoleon seemed to know a little bit about maneuver warfare, and he was around before battleships. There was this little thing called the Battle of Austerlitz[1] that the author may be interested to read about.

Napoleon kind of knew what he was doing. His use of position and movement is actually mentioned in the Wikipeda's article on maneuver warfare [2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Austerlitz
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneuver_warfare#Napoleon.27s_u...

neutronicus 14 hours ago 0 replies      
In my admittedly ignorant opinion, he uses the terms "maneuver warfare" and "phalanx warfare" so broadly as to make them almost meaningless.
icarus_drowning 15 hours ago 0 replies      
He also misrepresents the view of Victor Davis Hanson-- I think he's referring to "Carnage and Culture", which has a much more nuanced (and thus far different) argument.
gonzo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
He seems to have forgotten about the Bismarck

true fact: my wife's great uncle, Tuck Smith, is the US pilot who spotted the Bismarck, back when the US (supposedly) wasn't involved in WWII.


(Interesting fact, he was flying over Wake island on 12/7/41)

StuffMaster 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The Mongols could defeat regular armies because they had many thousands of men who lived their lives on horseback, with bow in hand. It's not that they were smarter, it's that they had the option.
masklinn 17 hours ago 2 replies      
In the same category, half a century later: aircraft carriers.

Although I'm not sure this qualifies as "hacker", let alone "news".

cafard 11 hours ago 0 replies      
a ridiculous and not especially awesome post....
StuffMaster 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>nobody wanted to risk their big expensive battleships in such an engagement again

This is his only proof that they're useless? Sorry, I need a lot more than that. Anybody who's played Civilization will know that you keep your battleships safe due to their cost, but they're supremely powerful nonetheless.

rubergly 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a very hard time taking the article seriously after reading "penii". I hate when people try to sound smart by incorrectly pluralizing this word.
joeburke 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting article but the grammar and the typos... ouch. Especially when he's trying to use some uncommon words.
akdubya 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Any battle tech that's an order-of-magnitude cheaper to kill than to produce is destined for obsolescence. You can see this happening now with main battle tanks, which are easily knocked out by IEDs and increasingly sophisticated man-portable missiles. It will be interesting to see what happens to the manned air superiority fighter over the next couple of decades now that unmanned drones are being deployed on a wide scale.
dolvlo 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't find this article applicable to hacking at all. Maybe running a business, but I don't follow the necessary relationship between hacking and business.
bitwize 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If he puts his missiles on rail cars, you haven't got a chance of hitting them all. So it was, metaphorically, with the actual battlewagon; when it was at the peak of its capabilities, it was overcome by the manoeuvre warfare tactics of the aircraft carrier (which is itself probably made obsolete in real modern warfare by the cruise missile, the internet and the satellite).

Don't forget robots! Man, you think the guided missiles in the first Gulf War were cool? Now we can kill people entirely by electromechanical proxy, staying out of the line of fire and incurring little to no risk ourselves! Man, we're living in the future! What a bunch of pussies we are.

Like Bill Hicks said, why can't we use this technology to shoot food into the mouths of hungry people instead?

Hands Off Our Houses (follow up on the $300 house idea) nytimes.com
49 points by ph0rque  9 hours ago   17 comments top 7
felipe 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> "While businessmen and professors applaud the $300 house, the urban poor are silent, busy building a future for themselves."

That's for me the most telling sentence of the article. As someone familiar with the realities of developing countries, I am frankly tired of seeing those kind of "feel-good" type of projects that helps only the ego of those who are "giving".

What is fundamentally missing in those kinds of projects is the SACRIFICE aspect of it. The willingness to get out of your bubble, put your career (or life) on the line and go live the harsh reality of those who you (supposedly) want to help.

* Lack of understanding: Poverty is a deep, complex social, historic and economical problem, and very often the solution is not technical at all (example: OLPC, and the project mentioned in the article). Unfortunately people think they can learn remotely, or with a simple two-week slum tour (more like a vacation).

* Lack of commitment (again connected to sacrifice): "Good-heart" people come, work on the "world-changing" thing for 3 months, get some international awards and then leave. As a result, the community is left feeling manipulated and tired, and that ruins for any other serious projects in the future.

* Lack of respect: Often people approach these projects from a stance of privilege (like Dr. Cornel West likes to say). What I mean by that is that they may demonstrate humbleness with their choice of words, but the general attitude is actually very elitist. Something like: "oh, poor them, they don't know any better". Getting the community buy-in is VERY HARD, and it involves you first showing that you are 100% committed to them (i. e.: sacrifice).

Interestingly, the willingness to sacrifice is also true for start-ups.

russell 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The article mentions that land is scarce. It is often the case that the high cost item is not the obvious one, but the scarce one. California had very high housing costs, not so much because construction costs were high, but because land costs were. I would surmise that, in the case the article mentioned, a $300 house would not help much, because the cost of acquiring the land to put it on is so much higher.

My town is a bizarre case of scarcity pricing. Just before the crash, larger houses were going for well over a million and more modest houses were over $500K. Land was cheap. A lot could be had for $15K-$30K. The scarce item was water hookup. A Chevron station with leaking tanks had contaminated the water source and there has been a decade long moratorium on new hookups. To build a new house you needed a cheap lot and a $350,000 water meter. One man had actually accumulated 15 of them.

pewpewlasergun 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel like this article is an example of how a lot of charity and social businesses are half-baked at best.

First is the idea, mostly held by people at places like Dartmouth, that because these problems exist it must mean that nobody is trying to solve them. In reality, plenty of people are trying to solve them, its just difficult. This leads people to start their own charities that end up competing with each other for donations and thus it is difficult to develop the economies of scale that makes this stuff efficient.

The article mostly talks about the lack of market research. Its not difficult to ask someone 'What do you need' or 'Why don't you have running water' or 'Do you need your house to double as a workshop' and this would have helped guide the designs. A simple walk through and critical thinking would have shown designers that many people lived in apartments, and perhaps a 3000 dollar apartment building would get more use.

The article brings up putting local laborers out of business. I'm not sure I buy this argument against charity. The authors had spent previous paragraphs explaining the need for customization. The builders would not automatically be out of work if people bought prefab houses.

I guess in conclusion I think a lot of people who go into charity have the 'saving the world' attitude that makes them arrogant. This leads to people trying the same thing over and over again, and while competition is great in a market economy, when non-profits are competing for donations it leads to the non-profits viewing the donators as their customers and the most important people to please rather than the people they claim to help.

delackner 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a difficult and really deep problem with no clear answers. Sure the local population are doing their best "building a future for themselves", but they are also driven to build structures that are totally unsafe in a serious earthquake. This is the main difference between one country's 7.0 quake killing tens or hundreds, yet another country's 7.0 (or even 6.0) killing tens or hundreds of thousands.

The solution is definitely not just marching in and offering a new cheap design for a single family house. The solution has to include an answer to the question: how do you get the local government to see the real equation. (economic cost of reduced economic output from early death from early mortality) MUCH GREATER THAN (cost of making sure everyone has a safe and secure home).

GBond 8 hours ago 1 reply      
TL;DR - Shack designers who submitted for the competition failed at "customer development". They didn't ask how the customers use cheap dwellings now (store tools, build stuff, & upgrade).
yaix 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Good article about always the same problem in development politics.

Simple ground rule: If it does not create business for local companies, its usually not a good idea in the long run.

noelchurchill 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Often times customers use your product in a way you didn't intend. A $300 house may have value, just maybe not the way the builders envision it.
The thermodynamics of negative entropy: bounds on heat generated by computers nature.com
12 points by Read_the_Genes  3 hours ago   2 comments top
tzs 1 hour ago 1 reply      
OT, but this reminds me of something I've wondered about. Assume it is winter, and I live in a region where this requires me to run some kind of heating system to keep my house sufficiently warm.

Under those conditions, is my computer use essentially free? The idea is that when the computer is on, it generates heat, which presumably reduces the amount of heat that my home heating system is called upon to produce.

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