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Troubled Startup Color Loses Cofounder Peter Pham techcrunch.com
80 points by tbgvi  2 hours ago   41 comments top 6
mindcrime 2 hours ago 5 replies      
I would love a chance to see the Color founders doing office hours with pg! Or even just pgbot. I can see it now:

  Color guy:  We're building an app that lets you share photos with   
your mobile phone, with people within 100 feet of you, but it uses
your social graph to make sure you see stuff you're interested in.

pgbot: WTF?

Color guy: I mean, it lets you share pictures that you just took, and
people within 100 feet of you will see that you just shared a picture.

pgbot: What problem does this solve? If they're 100 feet away,
wouldn't they have seen the same thing you saw, or even taken the
same picture anyway?

Color guy: You don't get it, it's mobile... pictures and mobile,
together. Like peanut butter and chocolate.

pgbot: Who wants this?

Color guy: Well, erm, I mean, erm, that is, aaahhh... um, you
know... like, um, aaaghh... well... uhhrrmmmm... college kids. And
hipsters. And hipster college kids.

pgbot: You mean the two classes of people least likely to either A. have
money, or b. spend money, unless it's on cheap beer, crappy clothes,
or Apple hardware?

Color guy: But, but...

pgbot: Who's going to pay for this?

Color guy: Aaaah, well, you see... aaah... umm....

pgbot: I worry, I worry...

robryan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The thing that worried me is that the founder said they didn't launch at SXSW because he wasn't a fan of conferences. It was on within a few days of launch and seems like the perfect proof of concept for it. When you have just been funded for so much who cares about your personal preference.

Either that or you need some kind of exclusivity in niches to build a critical mass of users like Facebook with colleges. Google Wave was a great case for the path color has gone down not working, people getting into the app, not seeing anyone else to interact with and forgetting about.

Even having a fake persona in it that you can delete, just to give people a feel for how the app works would be better than what they have now.

trotsky 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it just me or does Arrington sound like he got snubbed by color somehow? Did they not show the proper respect through the usual startup TC story begging or deny him an investment opportunity? I know a lot of the community is unimpressed with color and I'm certainly not some big fan, but to me he sounds as petty and bitter as when they run the "yet another yahoo fuck up" gloating stories.
daimyoyo 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Color will burn through it's funding and declare bankruptcy in 24 months or less. Anyone want the under?
joshuahays 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This was expected. I like the idea of a proximity-based social network but the problem is that they didn't do a good job presenting it that way and they were overshadowed by a very negative launch to the tune of 40+ million dollars. Set up to fail from the very beginning.
j_baker 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
From the box about Peter Pham at the bottom of the article:

Currently is the Co-Founder and President of Color.

I understand it can be difficult to keep these things up to date, but at least make sure it doesn't contradict the article it's posted on!

What to Do If You Receive a Lodsys Letter groklaw.net
81 points by grellas  3 hours ago   6 comments top 2
grellas 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an informed and level-headed discussion from a seasoned patent attorney. Well worth reading.
Steko 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Great advice yes but missed the most important thing you should do: call Apple's Legal Dept (or other platform owner should they start pursuing Android et. al.).
What's Up With All These Changes in Rails? yehudakatz.com
281 points by jcorcuera  9 hours ago   74 comments top 14
Jd 7 hours ago 4 replies      
There's a deeper problem that Yehuda isn't hitting and that is that there is an inverse correlation between being cool and cutting edge and being consumer friendly.

Rails is, and really has always been, a framework which changes very quickly. Although virtually all of these changes are for the better either in some abstract feels-better sense or in a tangible practical sense, each of these changes imposes a cost on other people.

This isn't really a problem with the decisions of the rails core team, it is the entire ethos accompanying rails. Authentication plugins I remember from 4 years ago are barely maintained today, and there are a whole bunch of new ones. I'm guessing my knowledge re: authentication has a half-life of approximately 1.5 years.

The implications are as follows:

(1) If you are a Rails developer you need to be a full-time Rails developer and not do too much else. You can't do Rails and a bunch of other things because Rails will take up a lot of your time.

(2) Think you can code, release, and forget about it? Think again. If you have projects, you (and the people who commissioned the projects) need to know that these projects need to have at least 5 hrs / week budgeted for the indefinite future (perhaps less, but the point is that they need a developer on staff -- they can't simply be released and forgotten about).

(3) Extra caution, since not all change is good change. You may end up to subject whatever is cool at the time. That's not to say that this really affects the core team, but there are a gazillion Rubyists out there attempting to change everything over to MongoDB that works just fine in whatever flavor of SQL they were running before. A lot of people have been burned here.

All of these take away from the promise and excitement of Rails for many people -- which was not simply "oh we can be on the cutting edge of technology," but "oh, we can have a sexy app with decent functionality up in a matter of a couple weeks with half the budget of what we thought." That second impression, which is what a lot of the Rails ecosystem is built off of, is largely false (esp. now that there are a bunch of other quickstart web frameworks).

ssmoot 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm not a fan of Rails myself, but I sympathize with Yehuda's position. The helpers are my #1 gripe with Rails. It really kills productivity to have to dig through all your views for what feels like pet changes.

The one point Yehuda's making I'd dispute is the impact of Arel.

I saw a very early version of Arel back when I was maintaining DataMapper. To be clear, Arel is beautiful code. It's ridiculously well done IMO from an OO stand-point. It's the code I wished I could write in DM.

I didn't use it (or something like it) in DM because I'd been there and seen the consequences. To give the point some context, you might expect NHibernate to impose a 10% overhead on c#. NHibernate is a very complex library, doing a lot more than most (any?) Ruby O/RM. In Ruby, once you get beyond the most trivial examples, you can easily see numbers like 50% overhead, and some queries that would be a cake-walk in .NET are impractical or even impossible in Ruby with constrained resources or service timeouts.

Ruby method dispatch and object instantiation is slow. Damn slow. Ridiculously slow.

The reason DM and now AR perform two-query-eager-loads to avoid JOINs has almost nothing to do with database performance. I doubt many Rubyists really understand or grok what that means. It has everything to do with the instantiation and even simple iteration of a cartesian product in Ruby being infeasibly slow.

Getting back to Arel: It's probably the very best of Rails OO. But that it's introduced some very serious performance regressions is no surprise at all. I said as much to NK and Yehuda when we discussed it during DataMapper 0.9 development.

With Ruby you have to make compromises. Especially in such a critical-loop portion of your stack.

On the other hand, if you're going to stay with AR, then it probably needed to happen sooner or later.

Best of all worlds would have been to drop AR altogether and promote a migration to Sequel for the official Rails O/RM. ;-)

stephth 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I feel like this discussion wouldn't be getting so much traction if it was easier to learn the differences between specific versions. Today there's enough resources out there to learn about rails and/or the differences between versions and/or 'the right way' of doing things, but it's scavenger hunt meets jigsaw puzzle. Currently, if you don't follow the Rails evolution regularly, going out there and catch up with it can be intimidating for some.

There's a need for a central Rails reference that makes this task trivial. Maybe a document with some sort of interactive diff functionality that allows to see specific version differences side by side in a friendly manner. Some system that doesn't force the writers to re-think a full document for every version, that can evolve without erasing older information, and that assists the reader by showing specific chunks of information that she should read in order to catch up to the specific version she is aiming for. Getting this started is a non-trivial task, but it seems like there's enough energy, innovation and attention to detail surrounding Rails to solve this problem.

dasil003 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe that Rails does sacrifice something in terms of stability compared to other projects, but that is also what allows Rails to be a industry-leading framework 7 years in. If you are a developer stuck supporting a lot of old Rails 1.x and 2.x projects with no budget, then absolutely you will feel the pain of upgrading and marginal legacy support that you wouldn't necessarily feel had you gone with a more venerable Java stack (for instance). That said, if you are actively building an application over several years then the forward development of Rails means greater productivity and functionality on an ongoing basis rather than being stuck with an outdated framework.

My current project is over 4 years old, started in the Rails 1.2 era, 100+ models, 30+ gems, 50k LOC, and I can vouch for the pain that the Rails 3 upgrade caused. That said, the upgrade gave us a lot of immediate benefits: the rails_xss upgrade forced us to close a number of small XSS holes that we probably never would have found otherwise, the Bundler upgrade solved several real-world deployment issues that led to downtime over the years, ActiveRecord 3 allowed us to clean up a ton of hairy querying code we had written with its fantastic composability and laziness, the modularity and instrumentation allowed massive logging and generator improvements to be inline with project standards, the ActionMailer API allowed us to significantly DRY up our extensive email notification suite.

In short, Rails development is still definitely heading in the right direction for my organization. There's no doubt that API stability is better in many other frameworks, but as Yehuda points out here, the changes made in Rails are done for good reason that can benefit a lot of people. If stability is more important than agility for your project (without disparagement), then Rails is probably the wrong choice (I tend to use PHP in those cases).

ry0ohki 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like a tough line, and I sympathize with both sides.

Either you can go the Microsoft route and be backwards compatible til the end of time (which is great for devs, but causes baggage) or you can embrace change while the community is still young(ish).

It seems like at a minimum, everything in a major version should be backwards compatible (ie a 3.0 project will work in 3.1 without changes) though.

trustfundbaby 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I appreciate the post and am a huge fan of Yehuda, he used my comments as teeing off points for your remarks but I feel that what I was trying to say has been lost in his response, probably because I was unclear.

Lets start with this ...

"The Rails core team does seem to treat the project as if it's a personal playground"

This was said more in frustration with the coffeescript/sass decision than any real belief that it really was the case.

I understand it may be hurtful and disparaging of the amazing effort that the Rails core team has dedicated to making Rails fantastic, and I apologize unreservedly.

With respect to outlining the changes (prototype to jquery etc), I'm not complaining about the changes per se (because I like most of them), what I'm complaining about is the pace of the changes.

Something as major as the asset pipelining feature (where you move assets out of the public folder and into the app folder), for example, seems big enough that it should be a 3.2 release not the next release after an already major change in 3.0.

See what I'm saying?

I haven't worked on the Rails core, so this can be taken with a pinch of salt, but I feel like it would be a good idea to adopt the Intel tick tock refresh style of cpu releases http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Tick-Tock, where major releases come out on the 'tock' and are refined on the 'tick'. That would work well for Rails releases, giving major releases enough time to settle into the Rails consciousness before the next set of changes comes down.

It was great to get a thorough explanation of the rationalization behind the decisions that have been made recently, it would be awesome to see that increase in frequency.

I just want to thank the Rails team for all the hard work and have them understand that while I may argue hard for what I believe, that I have nothing but the highest regard for them.

erikpukinskis 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I kind of wish they would go further. While I prefer Rspec, I understand and sympathize with those who feel Test::Unit is a better default.

But HAML feels like such a vast, unambiguous, never-going-back improvement over ERB that I am honestly baffled Rails hasn't adopted it. It's at least as big a win as Sass and CoffeeScript, if not bigger.

I agree with Katz here. If anything, Rails has shown remarkable restraint in the face of a smorgasbord of shiny, new, and often superior, competing technologies.

mmaunder 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Rails seems to be focused on it's own navel. It's written by developers to solve problems developers perceive they have. The platform rewards new layers of abstraction within the community - and those layers really exist to enforce a discipline which may not be needed and becomes restrictive if you don't want to do things the Rails way.

From my perspective as a serial startup founder, I won't touch the platform because startups must innovate or die and to enforce too much discipline on the way things are done within a platform is to risk killing innovation.

The best startups not only use platforms in unexpected ways, but are platform agnostic and use multiple platforms that probably didn't expect to have to talk to each other.

Startups choosing Rails need to remember that 37Signals have a group of mature apps that are maintaining and incrementally improving with (I'm guessing) growing team of devs. Their apps are also B2B and have relatively low traffic compared to many consumer focused startups. Their focus is code and team scaleability. They aren't rapidly prototyping or rapidly innovating. Also as the center of the Rails community, they don't need to care that Ruby devs are harder to come by than PHP or more mainstream languages.

Rails also strikes me as a rockstar dev culture that puts marketing, innovation and being perceived as a thought leader ahead of everything else, including the boring crap like productivity, simplicity and performance:


jmtame 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks Yehuda--you had quoted me on the asset pipeline and I have since upgraded to Cedar on Heroku. I suppose the slow loading of images in the asset pipeline was the biggest gripe on my part, but didn't realize images should still be served through /public. I would say that I am still hesitant to deploy apps using release candidates, but overall think the Rails team does a great job on the upgrades. Maybe more emphasis on documentation, but understandably it's a release candidate.

Also, DHH chimed in and offered some awesome advice that I didn't know about:

rake assets:precompile will automatically copy images from app/assets/images to public/assets.

kingkilr 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> Ruby core (“MRI”) itself has sunk an enormous amount of time into performance improvements in Ruby 1.9, going so far as to completely rewrite the core VM from scratch.

This isn't particularly accurate, my understanding is that what became the 1.9 VM was originally an external fork (or rewrite, I'm not clear on which) known as YARV, which was later integrated, but was not originally developed by the MRI team. As always feel free to tell me I'm a moron who has no idea what he's talking about.

sams99 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What surprises me is that lack of backlash for the shoddy upgrade process...

Moving from Rails 2 to Rails 3 is a nightmare, a documented nightmare in 3 parts http://goo.gl/2Xw7n

Sure you can get part of the way by porting to bundler and upgrading to ruby 1.9.2, but there is no plugin or way to have an app work with both Rails 2 and Rails 3 at the same time. And this is a year after it was released with 3.1 just around the corner.

For the upgrade you need to change boot.rb, application.rb your routes and all your other configuration. Potentially you may need to update a ton of views to allow for the xss protection.

By themselves none of the changes in Rails 3 are bad, its just that somehow they managed to make it very very hard to upgrade, so less people use it, and it gets less testing and stuff regresses.

I think if the team focused on a bridge / integrated upgrade path for rails 2 that allows you to switch to rails 3 seamlessly it would do wonders for adoption.

tjogin 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm so impressed with Yehuda's ability to be both persuasive and calm while completely destroying every aspect of the argument he is refuting.
kreek 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Coming from PHP Rails was a great way for me to learn best practices and get disciplined. Now that I have a good foundation I find myself using Sinatra plus whatever gems fit my small to medium projects. So it might not be that Rails is too heavy, it could be that some of these projects don't require the learning curve of Rails to be successful.
ryan-allen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
We have always been at war with Eurasia!
Tell HN: Our experience with Groupon
360 points by joeguilmette  6 hours ago   80 comments top 24
patio11 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you for writing this.

Edit to add value: "Same-day" special + email list of people with confirmed willingness to pay money and get pushed out of a perfectly good airplane = a win. Presumably your costs are pretty much fixed after making the decision to do a jump, so you could hit that mailing list with a special promotion multiple times per year. It's a Tuesday, congratulations, have 20% off if we push you out of an airplane, etc.

ssharp 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like you worked out a lot of the positives and negatives that Groupon brings and strategized around them. How much of this planning was done from inside your business and how much was done/consulting on by Groupon reps?

Was the 30% breakage specific to your business, or was that quoted by Groupon reps as an average? I'd have to think that a Groupon for something that requires specific scheduling and booking would have higher breakage than something like food coupon.

I haven't spent too much time thinking about how Groupon effects small business, but it seems like businesses like yours are in the best position to really benefit. Jumping out of a plane is an experience, and one you're probably not used to doing. Seeing that show up in your email may spark the idea of jumping out of a plane. Since it's somewhat novel, your customers are more likely to take advantage of upsales. It's also a thrilling experience, so the customers will be pumped up on adrenalin, and more likely to be sold apparel afterwards. Did Groupon customers fall in line with normal % of customers buying apparel or did they differ?

I can really see the value to both the customers and your business in running a Groupon. However, as a consumer, I'm not going to go skydiving once a day. I'm not going to go once a week. I'm probably not going to get into trying out these adventure activities with any substantial frequency. Groupon can't just load up on these things and still provide intriguing daily deals. It seems like they have to have a mix of businesses, and some of these businesses are either not capable of strategizing around a Groupon, doing the proper measuring and acting intelligently on it, or their business model simply doesn't mix with Groupon. It's these people that are going to be most vocal with their Groupon experience and drive the bad press. Without real data (which we'll never have) we can only speculate on anecdotal reports. Even so, I see much more value in your account than another person complaining about how Groupon screwed them, or someone just running with the assumption that Groupon is railroading every small business who will talk with them.

geekfactor 5 hours ago 2 replies      
That said, I feel that all of the Groupon horror stories floating around are from businesses that would be in trouble regardless.

I would love to find out that your experience is more typical for Groupon customers, but it strikes me that there is a bit of selection bias at play here. The fact that you are posting this on HN, with 3 years/700+ karma here, suggests you might take a more analytical approach to assessing the Groupon opportunity and building a business model to make it work for you. I doubt this is typical of the small B&M business owner that Groupon sells to.

Congratulations, though, on your success and thanks for the write-up.

andrewljohnson 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I am glad it worked out for you, but I find the practice of raising prices so you can claim a discount to be abhorrent - I hope businesses don't do it to me more than I think. This is the same scam that happens in every mall jewelry store.

I guess the big question is did you make the price increase "to all customers" permanent, or is that part of the Groupon song and dance? If you just do it during Groupons, then while it may work, it's deceptive. You're not helping any customer in any way by perpetrating your "discount." It might be good for the bottom line, but the tactic is all about fleecing the sheep.

This is another business tale that I'll chalk up as an argument against Groupon. At least it tells me I need to get dirty to use Groupon effectively. I think Rocky over at TechCrunch is spot on - Groupon isn't run by evil people, but it's set up to be gray and shady by nature. It's Conway's Law brought to life.

pitdesi 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for this... really interesting.

I just went skydiving for the first time last week and used a Groupon. It was fun but I wasn't immediately hooked and wanting to go again.

I paid $109 for a 15k jump that is normally $209. I bought it about a year ago (Used it because Groupon was about to expire). The facility was so packed that I had to reserve my time far in advance. (They sold 4,500 groupons the day I bought)

They tried some upselling, in the form of a video and a 2nd jump at a discounted price. The video was an additional $90, which I declined, and the 2nd jump was a "discounted" $125. This seemed kind of silly to me, as I'd only paid $109 the first time around. In the end, I wasn't upsold, so I'm presuming they lost some money on me. They also didn't collect my email address or anything. I think in the end the value you derive from a daily deal is very dependent on your ability to be smart about it (via upsells, social media, etc.).

Can you share a bit about the economics of a skydiving facility? I got the impression that the skydivers were paid per jump.

One other thought is that if I were to do it again - I've seen several Groupons for other skydiving facilities... I'd probably just buy another Groupon for another place... new view, etc. Maybe I'm in the minority but I think getting people to come back is tough when there is so much pressure from other deals.

hristov 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very interesting. I think you had a small benefit because in skydiving there is a lot of things to upsell. Skydiving is such a huge, scary and adrenaline filled event in most people's lives that even the cheapest coupon hunter will have a desire to buy something to commemorate it and show it to his friends.

BTW what is breakage? Is that when people get scared and refuse to jump?

sh1mmer 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This fall exactly into my thinking about Groupon Economics.

#1 this is not a commodity business like say food
#2 customers that purchase because it's a discount wouldn't be likely to purchase otherwise, and it's hard for them to find another supplier
#3 treating groupon as a way to bag 1st time customers and then treating them specifically as customers that _need_ upsell is the way to create repeat business

Since people are paying for entertainment, specifically something non-typical and hobby-like it works. Especially because this business took the effort to create conversion and up-sell opportunities.

TamDenholm 6 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems the direct result of groupon can cripple you, much like a the slashdot/digg/reddit/HN effect for a website, but if you know how to harness the instant surge and spread it around to cross sell other products and peripheral promotions, you can ride the wave successfully.
pbreit 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Amen to hear a voice of reason among all the complainers. Groupon is just another tool available to business owners and when properly used can contribute to the bottom line. No one ever said running a business was easy. No one ever said your vendors should do all your work for you. And it's completely insane that people are now complaining about too many customers? Holy cow what is this world coming to!

That said, I think the jury is still out on how much longevity the daily deals have. I suspect they will eventually take their place next to Sunday coupons as an important but not overwhelming tool for certain types of businesses.

pasbesoin 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious in the approximate breakdown of your expenses between other expenses and your own labor. Also, what portion of the former are fixed versus variable -- incurred "by the planeload", as it were.

I've wondered whether the businesses that can fare better with Groupon tend to be those where labor is a greater part of their expense, and where the business owners -- especially for a small business -- can effectively trade their own labor at lower compensation -- as a hourly rate or absolutely -- in return for the increased business that Groupon generates (which then provides, they must hope, a longer term marketing payoff).

Also, where expenses are variable and there is not a large fixed overhead that must be met, regardless.

Once you introduce staff labor and physical products with hard margins as larger components in the equation, it seems to me that there's less buffer with which to adapt for a mis-calculation of the effects that a Groupon or similar experience will create.

And fixed expenses have to be covered, regardless, leaving thin margins perhaps insufficient.

As you mention, you also have significant additional revenue from add-ons. And your experience, inherently, probably generates a tremendous emotional boost that in turn helps to move those.

I appreciate your detailed description and explanation of how it has worked for you. It provides some good food for thought.

neovive 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Very interesting. Most of the Groupon customer stories I have read thus far are from lower-margin merchants such as restaurants. Since Groupon customers likely skip the upsells (wine, appetizers and desserts), restaurants seem to be less positive about their experience in general. They need to focus more on converting Groupons into returning (full price) customers to generate positive returns.
arctangent 2 hours ago 0 replies      
From the way you have described your business it seems like you are one of the high-markup enterprises that will (always) benefit from getting large numbers of customers through the door, even at a much lower price than you normally charge.

(I'm not making a judgement on your pricing, just pointing out the obvious.)

jjcm 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, what percentage of people never redeemed their groupon purchase?
tatsuke95 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Thanks for writing this up. Not much positive coming from the Groupon front of late. That said:

> In advance of the Groupon we raised our 10k price to $169 so that the discount percentage was higher.

I think most people assumed this was happening, but to have it said in plain English is a bit disturbing. It's deliberately deceiving the customer, and is accepted as a strategy. Is that sustainable?

benatkin 6 hours ago 2 replies      
> That said, I feel that all of the Groupon horror stories floating around are from businesses that would be in trouble regardless.

First, you had it right in the sentence prior to this one. Your experience is enough of an outlier that it doesn't apply to most Groupon experiences. Second, isn't Groupon supposed to help businesses that are in trouble?

riams 5 hours ago 2 replies      
How high was cannibalization, i.e. existing customers using the Groupon deal instead of paying full price?
browser411 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome detailed write-up. Any chance I could ask you a question about this offline? My email is browser411 at yahoo. Thanks!
monagandhi 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your experience :)

In my view, ability to connect with your customers post-experience was a home run!

From what I have read most small businesses do not have the necessary infrastructure to do that. Curious to know what technologies did you use to capture that?

Also, did you have cases where customers tried to reuse their groupons?

panacea 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Your business is perfect for the Groupon firehose attention.

I maintain that it doesn't work for restaurants though.

RobIsIT 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Groupon (and their clones) have created a brand new style of sales. This new sales niche hasn't been properly researched, tested or evaluated. Groupon simply went full out, launched and is learning as they go.

I would be very interested in a category-by-category analysis of the effect that Groupons have.

With this data, we could figure out what types of businesses and specifically what types of deals work best for those businesses. Then, we could expand on this knowledge by creating new products, services and perhaps even entire businesses around this model.

Until we have this data and these conclusions, stories like this are anecdotal and even entertaining, but they don't represent an understanding of this new niche.

lefstathiou 4 hours ago 0 replies      
>>...so based on this standard we would get around $50-60 for each Groupon (the TOS precludes us from talking details, so I am not going to say what our margin was)....The cost: Groupon is expensive. If someone buys a Groupon and jumps without buying anything else, we lose about $20...

Well that settles what your margin is...

siganakis 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm clearly in the minority, but I'm not sure I would really be that attracted discounted sky-diving. If I ever try it, I want it to be with some delta force or SAS guy who is VERY well paid.
nbertram 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting to hear that you aren't the only DZ to experience this. hehe thanks for Groupon my final AFF jumps are harder to schedule at my local DZ (MB, Canada) due to all the Tandems generated from Groupon ;p
craigtheriac 5 hours ago 0 replies      
great write-up! are you tracking how many groupons repeat after that first jump? i'd be curious what the repeat business looks like from this group
Building the MySpace backend metafilter.com
47 points by stilist  4 hours ago   5 comments top 4
jbyers 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
The Data Relay project referenced in his comment: http://datarelay.codeplex.com/
wisty 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with MySpace wasn't technical.

The problem was, it was a better GeoCities. Vanity blogs for people with internet friends.

Facebook used real names, so it helped people connect with their real friends; even the ones they weren't confortable being "internet friends" with.

I'm not saying this was genius. It was probably just luck. Or the result of Facebook being optimized for a single college, which was a microcosm of the real world - getting everyone to sign-up was only possible using real names.

Of course, it helped that Facebook has stayed small, and stayed pretty close to its pragmatic hacker roots.

latch 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I thought it would be more technical. Instead it was mostly:

The scale was a new challenge to most people back then, we did the best we could - which most of the time was more than good enough - learnt a lot of good lessons and had a great team. In the end, we lost because we focused on advertisers and increasing the companies headcount for the sake of it.

speakbin 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ok, but wasn't MySpace in ColdFusion? I don't know if they had anything today that is scalable on their backend.

Was NoSQL around back then? They're right about the custom hacking that is required and that Facebook does (i.e. MySQL).

Good web technologies existed at the time. They may have not had Rails or Django but servlets were certainly an option.

Earth may be headed into a mini Ice Age within a decade theregister.co.uk
242 points by Jach  10 hours ago   144 comments top 29
hugh3 9 hours ago  replies      
This is exactly why I think the debate should be less about "how can we as humans stop affecting Earth's natual climate" and "how can we as humans gain control over Earth's natural climate".

Climate change happens with us or without us. If we're going to protect our huge investments in climate-dependent infrastructure (i.e. cities) then we're gonna want (say) giant space mirrors to compensate for any zany things that nature might throw at us.

The political problem of who gets to control the Earth's thermostat is, of course, a tricky one.

ChuckMcM 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My comment from the other link:
reference: http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/SunspotCycle.shtml

Some more sensational coverage in The Register [1]. The correlation between low sunspot activity and the 'mini ice-age' is well documented, its not proven that solar activity caused that ice age, but it looks like we are getting a chance to run the experiment again.

I'm continuing to follow are reports from the STEREO mission [2]. After reading this paper [3] on the correlation between geomagnetic activity on the sun and terrestrial temperatures.

BTW, the last chart in that paper is pretty amazing.

[1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/14/ice_age/

[2] http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

[3] http://sait.oat.ts.astro.it/MSAIt760405/PDF/2005MmSAI..76..9...

michaelpinto 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Betting on sunspots to reverse a century of adding carbon to the atmosphere via fossil fuels is a bit of a long shot bet. Right now we're still in high gear contributing to global warming, but predicting sun spot activity isn't a sure thing.

I'd like to think that as techies we see not just the humanitarian potential but the business potential of energy efficiency, new storage techniques and even new sources of the stuff. It wasn't long ago when we used substances like whale oil and trees to produce fuel -- if we limited ourselves as a society to those sources we wouldn't be where we are today. This is a time where those who embrace disruptive technologies are needed more than ever (and not just for energy but for water and food as well).

scarmig 9 hours ago 3 replies      
The Maunder minimum argument has been around awhile. A useful counterbalance from NASA 2008:



"Solar irradiance: The solar output remains low (Fig. 4), at the lowest level in the period since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s, and the time since the prior solar minimum is already 12 years, two years longer than the prior two cycles. This has led some people to speculate that we may be entering a "Maunder Minimum" situation, a period of reduced irradiance that could last for decades. Most solar physicists expect the irradiance to begin to pick up in the next several months " there are indications, from the polarity of the few recent sunspots, that the new cycle is beginning.

However, let's assume that the solar irradiance does not recover. In that case, the negative forcing, relative to the mean solar irradiance is equivalent to seven years of CO2 increase at current growth rates. So do not look for a new "Little Ice Age" in any case. Assuming that the solar irradiance begins to recover this year, as expected, there is still some effect on the likelihood of a near-term global temperature record due to the unusually prolonged solar minimum. Because of the large thermal inertia of the ocean, the surface temperature response to the 10-12 year solar cycle lags the irradiance variation by 1-2 years. Thus, relative to the mean, i.e, the hypothetical case in which the sun had a constant average irradiance, actual solar irradiance will continue to provide a negative anomaly for the next 2-3 years."


That said, if a Maunder minimum does somehow manage to give us a couple extra decades to get our house in order (before the subsequent recovery of solar activity), that's a godsend. Let's hope it pans out.

vannevar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is misleading. The part about an impending period of solar inactivity comes from the solar physicists; the part about a mini-Ice Age comes straight from the blogger based on a snippet from NASA's web site which he either deliberately or inadvertently misread. Had he continued the quote for only one more line, he would have included this important caveat:

The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

jeffreymcmanus 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This story is mostly bogus. There is no proven correlation between sunspots and terrestrial temperatures.


kenjackson 9 hours ago 1 reply      
If you thought the climate change debate was crazy before, well this will take crazy to a whole new level.
psadauskas 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Probably a better post, from the Bad Astronomer:


snorkel 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Ned was right, winter is coming.
mmaunder 9 hours ago 0 replies      
On behalf of Maunders around the world, I'd like to extend my apologies for the Minimum you're about to experience.
Hawramani 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Reading the comments on here and many other places about global warming, it makes me sad that nobody is open-minded enough to entertain the possibility that an increase in the Earth's temperature could be a positive-sum change.

We know very little about the Earth's natural cycles and the effects we have on them, so we are very far from knowing whether things are going in a good* or bad direction.

* Good for everyone involved, such as humans, animals, plants, etc.

pama 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The announcement made on 14 June (18:00 UK time) comes from scientists at the US National Solar Observatory (NSO) and US Air Force Research Laboratory.

Does anyone have the link to the original announcement?

saalweachter 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the confidence on this?

I recall a hub-bub a year or two back because a climate scientist made the scientifically reasonable statement that it was "inconclusive" whether the Earth had warmed in the last 15 years, because the statistical significance of 15 years of data was only at 90%, and scientists like having a 95% confidence before they say something. (With the extra year of data, it is now "conclusive", eg, >95%, that the Earth has warmed since 1995.)

I see 10 or 12 years of data on that graph; what's the confidence based on these measurements that we are entering a mini Ice Age?

zheng 9 hours ago 4 replies      
For those who don't have time to read the article, "mini Ice Age" literally means that winter will last longer, and be more prevalent at lower altitudes/latitudes. Mildly sensational, but an interesting read.
scorpion032 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Relevant: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_deutsch_on_our_place_in_the_c...

As David makes the point (at the near end of the video), the best available science in the 1970's predicted that the climate was cooling down. The best available science of today (not the least, with the help of best marketing) would predict Global Warming.

The same best scientific estimates of the day also predict that our best projections to bring down the emissions (which we will not achieve) themselves suffice only to move the disaster point a little further, but not prevent the inevitable.

genki 8 hours ago 1 reply      
"This could overturn decades of received wisdom on such things as CO2 emissions, and lead to radical shifts in government policy worldwide." - What exactly is the article implying? Are they somehow saying that CO2 emissions aren't a bad thing? Or that we should increase them so we can prevent the 'mini ice age' by increasing our negative effect on the climate?

Seems to be an extremely uninformed and misleading bit of 'reporting'...

scottkduncan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If true, the 70-year cold period could turn out to be a grace period that allows us to get carbon emissions under control by the time solar activity returns to normal. Of course, this could lessen the imperative and make the political task of reaching global consensus more difficult.
danbmil99 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Boy, that went well. I'm sure they'll believe us next time we say the sky is falling.
sabat 8 hours ago 0 replies      
far from facing a global warming problem

We don't have a "global warming" problem. We have a manmade climate change problem, which may be worsened by the Sun's own agenda. I haven't read the Bad Astronomer's take on this, but he's a lot more trustworthy than the OP.

singingfish 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Article written by Lewis Page - the Register's resident climate change denier. Not a trustworthy author on the topic I'm afraid.
Brewer 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Anyone have Al Gore's email address?
lupatus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
For more reading about the possibility of a new mini Ice Age, see http://www.iceagenow.com.
rahooligan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is the link to the announcement by the scientists that the author talks about? I'd be curious to read it and make up my own mind.
itswindy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
So we will either die of cold or heat. Maybe.
tobylane 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know whather to cry because it'll be cold, cry because skeptics will be wrongly smug dumbasses, enjoy the cold I prefer, or enjoy skeptics being dumb as always.
powerslave12r 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm going to save the world. Where's that Hummer showroom?
daimyoyo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I seriously doubt that after 175 years of industrial CO₂ that suddenly we're going to see this drastic change out of nowhere. It's much more likely to occur gradually over time. That said, I welcome the ice age. I'm in Vegas and it'd make the climate here perfect.
guelo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Yay! Lets grab every bit of remaining oil for the next 50 years and spew it into the air! We'll be mostly dead by then anyway, maybe the grandkids can figure it out. SUVs for everyone!
ck2 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I know climate change is not directly related to the current temperature but wow it's strange to read this when it's currently 100 degrees here (no exaggeration) and setting new temperature records for the past few decades.

Basically what's happened is our overly aggressive industrialization has ruined the temperature stability we used to enjoy. And sadly we aren't done yet as China rushes to catch up while we blow up mountains for more coal.

LulzSec Topples EVE Online, Minecraft, League of Legends and other Servers gamepro.com
77 points by ghurlman  5 hours ago   79 comments top 19
citricsquid 5 hours ago 1 reply      
When they're attacking Sony it's "righteous" and "good", when they're attacking companies we like they're "bad" and "immature". They've always stated their intention is to create "lulz" and just do whatever damage they can, apparently people overlooked this when they were attacking people everyone "hated". Luckily Minecraft wasn't down for too long, some of us are directly affected by this stuff, sigh.

The internet is a shitty place.

mindstab 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone want to go conspiracy theory with me and wonder if some government agency wants more power to go after groups like anonymous and wikileaks and so are doing this themselves to get both people and the rest of government on board to give them more broad and exciting new powers (at our expense) to go after the real groups?
corin_ 4 hours ago 2 replies      
How is it that so much coverage of LulzSec still hasn't understood their motives?

  The group's agenda isn't entirely clear right now

Yes, it is, they're doing it because they find it funny.

SoftwareMaven 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly (ex-Riot Games, League of Legends contractor) I wondered how well the infrastructure choices for their login server would hold up. There was a huge amount of complexity involved in it, which is REALLY hard to get right.

I just hope it wasn't code that I actually wrote that let them in. :) If I was betting, though, I would bet that it was a vulnerability in Adobe LiveCycle Data Services.

trotsky 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Acting like defacers wasn't low brow enough, now they're just borrowing a ddos botnet? What's next in this high tech crime spree, supergluing all the lock tumblers at the local mall?

Is the lulz from laughing with them or at them?

marcamillion 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is just getting tired and dumb now.

It's no longer funny.

It's like the joke you told at a party that everybody laughed at. Then you told it 5 more times before you left the party.

Unfortunately, I don't see them stopping any time soon. Soo....

Apocryphon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there's an ideological "faction" (not an actual group or organization) of Anon hackers, the ones behind the hacktivism (pro-Wikileaks, anti-dictators, anti-corruption in democracies), who feels like groups such as LulzSec are tarnishing the reforming image of Anonymous. Prior to this month, they were getting almost mainstream approval as supporters of liberation movements in the third world.
pspeter3 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Not that LulzSec has made sense up until now but why bother taking out online video games? I feel like that's alienating the population that would normally support or at least be indifferent about a group like LulzSec.
dmix 4 hours ago 0 replies      
For those wondering what the motivation was, earlier in the day there was a thread on escapist complaining about LulzSec hacking into Brink.

So LulzSec decided to take down that site and what I assume were a bunch of other easy gaming targets.

abcd_f 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a good expression for cases like this -

  To break is not to build

meaning it is much easier to break something than to build it in the first place. And it holds so very true for virtually any networked app or service.

Jach 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is this article suggesting people change their login details? Is this anything more than a ddos, have the servers actually been compromised? Or is it a warning to change before they get compromised?
shadowflit 4 hours ago 0 replies      
CCP statement: http://www.eveonline.com/news.asp?a=single&nid=4616&...

I admit, I was at work for the entire downtime so it didn't bother me, but I am pleased with their response to the situation. Hitting the big red button may be a drastic step in response to DDOS, but at least they were willing to take security seriously.

run4yourlives 5 hours ago 0 replies      
These idiots won't be happy until the internet is locked up into a corporate controlled gated community.

Being a p.i.t.a is not cool. Throw the book at them.

itswindy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
'Hackers' used to have a special status, but soon enough they'll be considered like pirates were in the 17th century. It's just isn't cute anymore. Or harmless.
PaintBucket 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I doubt Minecraft is too upset by this. The free publicity probably gained them many more customers.
sigzero 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Freaking idiots! Get off my lawn!
quizie 4 hours ago 2 replies      
They have an twitter account, thus a quick phonecall to twitter from US gov for an IP and mac address should put an end to all of this. Also they have a site up, so simply check their dns and domain provider for a whois (most likely private - so might require pushing). They are also on The Pirate Bay, so they might have some IP data too. meh
shareme 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Something does not add up....

Notice that certain targets are avoided? What I mean by targets is that everything is low hanging fruit only..a sql injection here and sql injection there...nothing really highly skilled. Also targets missing from the list is
heavy duty military and gov sites. For example, a low level FBI contractor was attacked not FBI itself, not CIA, non DoD,etc.

The conclusion I come up with is that LulzSec was infiltrated to get anonymous by government agents. After they get anonymous they might figure that they than have info on how to get wikileaks.

noonespecial 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I just hope that the league of american white old men doesn't meet and decide that the answer to Lulzsec is naturally the removal of more freedoms for the sake of security and much easier wiretapping by the FBI.
A possible flaw in open-source bcrypt implementations rondam.blogspot.com
99 points by lisper  7 hours ago   50 comments top 6
daeken 7 hours ago 4 replies      
So, he's right in that there seems to be a flaw with respect to the base64 encoding, but he's wrong about how much. It's one byte of hash that's lost when you add the padding back (it decodes to 184 bits), which is explained by the following code:

        encode_base64((u_int8_t *) encrypted + strlen(encrypted), ciphertext,

It does indeed look like it's cutting a byte off the ciphertext when it's encoded.

Edit: I think I know what's going on with the key length, too. It just so happens that len(base64.decodestring('x'72)) == 54 -- just below the key size limit. But I don't see where the key is getting base64 decoded in the code. Digging...

Edit #2: The b64d('x'72) == 4 behavior I saw was coincidental. What happens is that subkeys can be up to 72 bytes long but will not affect all bits of ciphertext. This is valid and by design:

    /* Schneier specifies a maximum key length of 56 bytes.
* This ensures that every key bit affects every cipher
* bit. However, the subkeys can hold up to 72 bytes.
* Warning: For normal blowfish encryption only 56 bytes
* of the key affect all cipherbits.

Edit #3: The hash truncation occurs in the reference implementation as well. This is in disagreement with the paper, and reduces the keyspace by ~4.16% -- that's ungood. Wonder why that was?

djmdjm 5 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm the py-bcrypt author. py-bcrypt is a thin wrapper around the original reference implementation of bcrypt from the authors of the paper describing it (Provos and Mazieres). The discrepancy in hash length is totally harmless (adding something like 2^-186 additional likelihood of collision) and was present in the reference implementation. I don't know exactly why the hash is slightly truncated, but I guess David or Niels thought that 60 character hashes were a more manageable length.

The author of this assinine blog post only contacted me a few days ago and obviously couldn't be bothered to wait for a response before proceeding to imply malicious intent for what is clearly a trivial difference between academic paper and practical implementation. I hope he retracts it.

Ixiaus 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting investigation, I would like to see what the response from the py-bcrypt author is (since py-bcrypt is what I use in my applications).
marshray 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect Solar Designer wrote the implementation for John the Ripper with the goal of cracking passwords, not validating them properly. For this purpose, slightly-truncated hashes should work just as well (maybe slightly better).

If Openwall and py-bcrypt are using JtR code for actually validating them, that's a questionable bit of software engineering. JtR may not be doing the same type of input validation that one would want in your authentication code. More evidence for this suspicion is that the input length disparity the blogger Rondam describes.

ars 6 hours ago 2 replies      
It'll be troublesome to fix this since any change will invalidate all existing passwords.
neuroelectronic 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Very suspicious indeed.
Pentium Appendix H fiasco agner.org
28 points by yuhong  3 hours ago   5 comments top 2
tedunangst 1 hour ago 1 reply      
If the intention was to link to that post, it's way the hell down the page.


chubs 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Its unfortunate that the x86 camp is splintering, with developers caught in the crossfire unable to find a compiler that works well on all x86 processors, while the world drifts towards ARM...
ResizeMyBrowser resizemybrowser.com
257 points by gulbrandr  15 hours ago   53 comments top 23
ck2 11 hours ago 2 replies      
On Firefox (and now Chrome apparently) web developer plugin.


  Tools -> Web Developer -> Resize

pitdesi 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Relevant: http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/

Simple visual tool to show what percentage of web users can see different areas of your website without needing to scroll.

nhebb 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Just an FYI - the Web Developer Toolbar extension for FF and Chrome has this built-in.
wccrawford 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice, but I can't help but think this would be better as a browser extension instead. That way you could use it on your own URL without going back and forth.
woodall 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is the javascriptlet:

I was able to crash FF 3.6.17 with javascript:window.resizeTo(999999999,999999999999).

Just something I found interesting.

thewisedude 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you go to this link in Chrome, you cannot resize the current browser window, so a new window is opened. However you cannot change the URL of this new window to see how your website does with the set resolution. So work needs to be done there.
malux85 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool utility - one minor change that I would use ... put in an INPUT box, so that I can paste a URL in there ... then when I click on each size, open the tab and point it to that URL, then I can quickly see my site in all of the different sizes.

Well done, quite sexy :)

drp 12 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.simures.com does a lot of the things being requested -- input boxes for resizing, url passed as part of the url for easy access, doesn't resize your actual browser, etc. http://www.simures.com/800x600/news.ycombinator.com is a good example.
powrtoch 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't seem to work in Opera, and the attempt to open a new window just opens a new tab (which of course, is the same size as the rest of the tabs).
timclark 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Can someone also create a "don't you dare resize my browser you darn pesky website" - although this deviant behaviour does seem to be a lot less prevalent than it once was.
daleharvey 14 hours ago 1 reply      
heh I miss this ever since web inspector and firebug pretty much replaced the web developers toolbar

good job, thanks

alphakappa 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Just want to nitpick that it's the iPhone 4, not 4G. It may be the fourth generation, but it's not a 4G phone.
jrockway 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work. My window manager manages my windows; they don't self-manage.
pkrumins 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Also try http://browserling.com. You can click the screen icon in the sidebar to change the resolutions.
PetrolMan 13 hours ago 1 reply      
My only complaint is that on a dual monitor setup the maximum link centers the window in the middle of the two screens.

Pretty slick either way.

yakto 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice try, Meizu marketer. :)

On a serious note, my MacBook Air 13 is 1440 x 900 - not 1280 x 800.

cfq 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Much nicer alternative: http://browsersize.com/
p_monk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've made myself bookmarketlets that do this for iPhone/iPad sizes. IMO, you ought to be able to drag the different screen sizes onto your bookmarks bar.
karl_nerd 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's cool!

One little thing, the iPhone 4 doesnt respond to neither css nor js resolution of 960*640, instead it has the same resolution as the 3GS but with -webkit-device-pixel-ratio: 2

talmand 14 hours ago 0 replies      

Although Sizer is more geared towards desktop monitor resolutions than mobile devices. Mobile devices tend to not have much chrome in place. You could use this for mobile but you would have to account for the chrome in settings the sizes.

pharno 15 hours ago 0 replies      
really helpfull for developement for mobiles. I used an iFrame until now. Thanks
hnsmurf 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Meizu m8? Seriously?
roundabout07 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea! That is a very simple yet useful tool! Thanks for sharing.
WTH is happening to Rails? I'll tell you. metautonomo.us
204 points by emiller829  14 hours ago   76 comments top 21
trustfundbaby 13 hours ago 6 replies      
I don't think the author really gets why people have a problem with what's going on with Rails, and the article strikes me as a "I like this why don't you?!" type deal vs making a reasoned argument for why the constant change in the Rails way of doing things is necessary.

> If you're learning a new language, a strong community consensus about a right and a wrong way to tackle problems aids learning


Right, but the problem is that there doesn't seem to be a 'right' way, That's the problem.

We were all prototype a few years ago, now it jquery ... we (well I) hadn't heard of coffeescript till a few months ago and now its a default option in rails, The way we were constructing ActiveRecord finders had been set all through Rails 2, now we've changed it, the way we dealt with gems was set all through rails 2 now its changed completely in Rails 3.

I like change, I like staying on the cutting edge of web technologies, but I don't want to learn something, only to discard it and re-do it completely to bring it up to date with a new way of doing things all the time.

> If, as coders, we aren't constantly striving to improve the status quo, what's the point?


The point is that you have to realize that Rails isn't just your personal plaything any more, people are invested in it just as much any one person or group of people.

I have 5 Rails 2 apps that I support at work and a couple more outside of that, they're all on rails 2 ... bringing them up to Rails 3 without disruption, isn't going to be trivial and I'd be nice if folks acted like they understood that and didn't dismiss similar concerns, or berate folks for having concerns.

To that end, my personal preference would be to see fewer but more substantial releases and a little bit more engagement with the community before making major decisions about the framework instead of the steady drumbeat of updates and (seemingly) unilateral decisions (that coffee script decision really irked me, can you tell?)

tptacek 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Hard to take too seriously any OO fundamentalism from someone who cites the Gang of Four patterns as if they were sacred scripture. Actually, they're techniques for working around the limitations of languages like C++, and when evoked explicitly in Ruby tend to be a "code smell".

This comment has been a service provided by the small bot running in my brain programmed to respond to mentions of the GoF book with a link to Norvig's presentation on them:


joshuacc 13 hours ago 3 replies      
The difference is that Steve Coast, the post's author, casts himself in the role of a crusader for the newbies.

I find this all a bit odd, since as a Rails newbie[1], I found Rails 3.0.x very easy to learn with a little help from Michael Hartl's tutorial and the Rails Guides. Perhaps this is an example of the "curse of knowledge?" In other words, that since Coast found Rails 2 easier, he assumed that newbies would as well?

[1] Front-end developer with little back-end experience.

jarin 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think most of the arguments people have any time Rails does a major change can really be re-interpreted as:

"I have a moderately complex Rails app that I want to upgrade, but I don't have much confidence in my tests, I maybe don't have proper separation of concerns, and I just know that one hacky thing I did a while back is going to bite me in the ass."

It's just something that happens over time in any moderately complex app. I see Rails point release candidates as a good reminder to bust out rcov and spend a few days plugging up the gaps in test coverage before the stable release comes out.

If you've been procrastinating upgrading your Rails 2.3.x app to 3.0.x, you're really gonna have fun going straight from 2.3.x to 3.1. Sometimes you just gotta rip off the band-aid.

mcantor 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I've lost count of how many times I have tried to do something in Rails which was trivial in every other framework I have ever worked with; struggled; gone to #rubyonrails or a mailing list and asked for advice; and had people tell me that I was "fighting the framework". I understand the benefit of not having to make every single decision from the ground up when you're getting started on a project, but sometimes I worry that working with rails is actually warping my thought patterns to fit its myopic vision of how web apps "should" work.

To phrase it differently: I feel comfortable with a framework or community forcing me to change how I achieve some higher-level goal. But when that convention prevents me from doing something, period, I start to worry.

perlgeek 11 hours ago 2 replies      
> In most cases " for mere humans, anyway " there really is a right way to do things. Ruby is an Object Oriented programming language. There are literally decades of prior research in the field of OO software design, and they've resulted in a lot of really well-documented and well-tested design patterns for building software.

... coming from the people who are known for relying heavily on monkey patching existing classes.

Or did that change recently?

runjake 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The rapid pace of Rails is a turn-off to me, and I do bounce between it and the more "sane" Django.

But I think that's more a reflection of myself (being an "old" guy who's "been there, done that" several times over and resistant to change and trends) and not the fault of Rails. So I try to keep up.

But Rails is good for the web. The web was pretty stagnant at one time, and it sucked, and didn't keep up with the needs of users and businesses.

And that's why I don't have a real problem with Rails' rapid pace. It keeps everyone on their toes, including their competitors.

bxr 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you for making "You just don't get it" point number 1. I like to know early on when I should bail out and stop reading something.
flocial 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the typical "rails" response. Rails will make you a better programmer by teaching you the right design patterns, etc. Of course, it does indeed give you a proper structure to building a web service and can be quite educational. However, it can make life difficult once you start straying from "their way" even if you know exactly what you're doing for even simple things like mapping to a legacy DB with schema intact (not gonna happen). Conventions over configuration is nice but it requires some stability.

Part of the problem is the leadership. They take the stance, "you bastards are doing it wrong" if you want to do things a little different.

The community almost split when they managed to swallow Merb and keep Rails. It's toned down quite a bit but that negativity definitely carried over from the early days and infects the community (swearing in presentations and porn references, etc.).

But these thinking aids aren't exactly radical paradigm shifts that will expand your mind and make you a significantly better programmer for the rest of your days. Rails is one of the most influential frameworks and did a lot to advance the field but now there are other frameworks that are much easier to learn and get a functional web service started.

So saying dissenters are slow to learn, stubborn or haven't been writing tests really doesn't do anyone a service and doesn't make anything clearer, sorry.

lisperforlife 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I maintain a couple of non-trivial Rails 2 apps, have just shipped a couple of Rails 3 apps and am preparing to write a Rails 3.1 app. I had always been using Sass and Haml for my views from the Rails 2 days. I moved over from shoulda to rspec 2 for Rails 3. All my solutions run partly on MRI/1.9.2 and have certain parts in JRuby (document parsing, search, etc). I had always been minifying and combining my Javascript. Sass with Compass/Blueprint took care of minifying and compressing my CSS. The only change that I am not comfortable with as yet is CoffeeScript. But after playing with it for a couple of hours I understand that this is an excellent choice. I have been a Python programmer before and significant whitespace in CoffeeScript or Sass does not bother me.

I am extremely thankful to the people in the community who are putting their time and effort to build such great software and essentially giving it away for free. I am personally both awed and humbled by the excellent work put in by all the individuals who directly or indirectly contributed to Ruby and Rails across all the versions. If not for them I would not have quit my day job. If not for Rails, I am pretty sure that I would not be enjoying my life, as much as I am enjoying it today.

The point is that Rails has grown up to the point where makes it simple to write complex applications. For small projects, these choices may seem to be an overkill. But trust me, when you put it into production and start getting traction you will thank Rails. I have built applications with Sinatra and Rack and assembled my own Rails environment using tons of middleware and a lot of glue. I know how hard it is to do it the right way and appreciate the fact that Rails makes it a cakewalk for us. I sure learnt a lot of Ruby but I would choose Rails any day as I know that there has been a lot of thought put in by the community to make it awesome.

betageek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with a lot of what the article says but I do think the newbie coming to rails at the moment has to do a hell of a lot more to start swimming compared to the "good old days" of Rails 2.

Ruby 1.8 or 1.9? Use RVM? How does this Bundler thing work? What the hell are all these deprecation warning? Rake's broken? etc. etc. 3.1 brings asset pipelines where it seems you need to install a Javascript runtime on the server to deploy?!?

Even when you get your app up and running the load times in 1.9.x at the minute mean you'll be hanging around waiting for rails to generate files and your going to have to get Spork running to make any kind of rapid TDD/BDD.

Rails used to be the easy way into all this modern development goodness, now that "blog in 20 minutes" simplicity has gone along with the famous screencast.

synnik 12 hours ago 0 replies      
When one person drives the platform strategy, and it is opinion-driven, then conflict like this is inevitable. You either agree or you don't, and if DHH changes his mind, you might changes yours, too.

I don't think it is a statement on the platform at all - just a repercussion of one of its tenets.

dochtman 13 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems actually kind of obvious that "opinionated" software would have a higher rate of change than other kinds of software: opinions change faster than the other stuff.
jasongullickson 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Right or wrong, I'm looking forward to whatever fills the spot that Rails left behind. It was a pleasure to work with a few years back and I miss that.

If you've seen something that fits the bill, please pass it on.

ryanisinallofus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"It's growing up" sounds like "it's turning into java"

Now I know it's not that bad but I can see a future where instead of just having the rails book, you have books for every new thing and option possible and the section looks like the Java section where Struts, Spring, and even Scala/Clojure all make the idea of switching to to rails seem far more daunting than it needs to be.

tluyben2 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think this is a good thing. I built a few rails apps and currently we are doing our startup in rails and java and depressingly enough Java is actually nicer for me. He's talking about well documented gems; which ones? I haven't seen much of those; it's usually 'go read the source code'. And all those 'great OO practices' where suddenly some class is behaving totally different because you installed a plugin is GREAT when it works. When it doesn't you are debugging yourself silly through all that meta programming crap. And having (as in, stuff stops working) to change your code through minor versions? That's not growing up, that's just crazy behavior.
MartinMond 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember a blog post from 2008:

Rails will be retrofitted to make it easy to start with a “core” version of Rails (like Merb's current core generator), that starts with all modules out, and makes it easy to select just the parts that are important for your app. Of course, Rails will still ship with the “stack” version as the default (just as Merb does since 1.0), but the goal is to make it easy to do with Rails what people do with Merb today.


joeburke 8 hours ago 0 replies      
All the frameworks "are growing up", this is nothing to be proud about. The real question is: is the framework becoming mature?

Because RoR has this tendency to reinvent itself every 18 months or so, the answer to the question is a resounding no. It's being used mostly to explore new ways to create web sites, but RoR is more and more becoming a framework you really want to avoid if you need to create a production site that you are planning to work on for years to come.

clu3 13 hours ago 2 replies      
At least you guys Rails have something new to look at, good or bad I don't judge. I've been using Zend framework for the last 3 years and it's latest version 1.10 has lived like "forever", until the day ZF 2.0 comes out, which has been "promised" a long time ago
radagaisus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What's with the PHP bashing? MVC and ActiveRecord were in PHP frameworks and code before rails was born.
gusi 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I dont think that rails should worry about complaints coming from php developer.....
What to Say To Someone Who is Sick nytimes.com
165 points by startupstella  12 hours ago   63 comments top 17
araneae 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I'd add "Everything happens for a reason" to the "nevers" list. My mother has leukemia, and her cousin said that to her.
ahoyhere 9 hours ago 1 reply      

I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome / chronic mono after a second mono flareup in late 2009. It's not cancer, but it's nasty and it doesn't go away, and I have good days where I seem and feel normal, and bad days where I don't even have the brainpower to watch stupid TV. It blows.

To this list, I'd add: Be willing to be the one doing all the work necessary to keep the relationship alive when the other person is too weak and tired.

So many of my "friends" here in Vienna just disappeared when I got sick, because they weren't willing to put in the effort when I couldn't. There's nothing quite like being too sick to leave the apartment, and ALSO having nobody who cares enough to visit you.

I'm sure if I told them this, they'd be absolutely aghast at their own behavior and try to make amends -- they are not bad people or even bad friends -- but now, knowing what I know, I wonder if it would be worth it for me to say something.

Yet another big reason I'm moving back to the US.

cstross 8 hours ago 2 replies      
In the past eight months my father's had bowel cancer (surgery worked: currently in remission) and my wife had uterine cancer (surgery worked: hopefully a complete cure). And the cat went blind.

Anyone saying "everything happens for a reason" to me would probably wind up with a black eye. (At the very least, they'd go on my personal do-not-call list.)

Which is to say: you shouldn't say things to immediate relatives that you shouldn't say to the patient, either.

nsfmc 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Back in april, The Awl published a list of don'ts[1] and then last week, some dos[2], many of which conveniently appeared in this nyt piece.

[1]: http://www.theawl.com/2011/04/some-awesome-things-to-say-to-...
[2]: http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/actually-awesome-things-to-say...

andrewvc 10 hours ago 1 reply      
While definitely not cancer, I had severe acne back in high school (way, way more than most people). There was a never-ending series of half-baked miracle cures chucked my way by strangers.

In this age of the internet, anyone who has an illness is probably more of an expert on it than most doctors are (save their specialists).

ja27 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My favorite thing to say to someone who is sick is anything unrelated to their illness. It's the same when a friend loses their parent or anyone close to them. Once I get past the obligatory "let me know if I can do anything" I want to be the friend they can talk about football, food, TV shows, whatever with. They have plenty of people to talk to about their illness or loss. They don't have many people that will let them leave that behind for an hour or two and think about something different.
Killah911 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry but the writer comes off as being bitter. I'm pretty sure he doesn't come off in the same complaining tone when he speaks to people (or he wouldn't have as many people who'd care to bug him).

If people say or do awkward things, appreciate the fact that they made the effort at all. If they're sending you "miracle cure" suggestions, it's probably because they care enough to do so. These times are times in which you see how your life affects others. If there are a lot of people calling, checking in or being a little annoying, take solace in knowing your life has had an effect on all these people, who care enough to be kind/awkward. I'd much rather have that than not have it.

These Do's and Don'ts aren't for everyone, it may be for the writer, but it's presumptuous to think this really applies to all people.

Simply put, "Do" show up. Knowing that you're there when you could be elsewhere says a lot. Be a friend in times of need.

dkarl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I personally feel the same way the author does, but I suspect the people who love handing out platitudes and ditzy suggestions might thrive on receiving them, too. Do they suddenly get "real" and "grounded" just because they have a serious illness, or do they remain the same sappy and naive person they were before they got sick?
protomyth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If your the trusted advisor-type of the family (brother / sister, best friend), make sure the business affairs are taken care of. Sometime the spouse is too far gone (male or female) or just not experienced enough to deal. It will help what comes next if the paperwork doesn't drift.
estacado 9 hours ago 1 reply      
If you have the time, offer the person taking care of the sick person to take over the taking care for a few hours or days.

I took care of my mother when she was sick and none of my 3 older brothers offered to take over the duty of caring for her. It was like my home was the hospital for 3 months and not even one of them offered to take care of her for one night. I developed this deep bitter feeling towards them during that time.

I understand if they have things to take care of but not even 1 night?! It still pisses me off thinking back. For all I care, all of her children have an equal responsibility to take care of her. It was like I had to put my life on hold so that they can continue living their lives like nothing's happening.

radioactive21 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone is different. Take the advice just as things to think about.

I know people who have been through hardship and they actually tell people to hang around, to just talk, say anything. They prefer people say something to not saying anything at all.

orofino 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Much - not all - of this boils down to the simple rule of being real with someone. Don't flood them with niceties, if you want to be nice and have something you want to say... say it. If you have to THINK too hard about what you want to say, then perhaps you shouldn't say anything.

Honestly, I wish this would be applied in everyday conversation more often, it would give people practice. I loathe small talk and would rather say nothing than talk about the weather.

dazonic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Some great points here but just because this applied to this guy doesn't mean every point is a catch-all for sick people.

2. I SHOULD BE GOING NOW. You'll never go wrong by uttering these five words while visiting someone who's sick.

I spent 11 months in hospital after a spinal cord injury and every time, I hated when my mates were about to leave. Having visitors can be the only form of escapism.

Also, "You look great". Maybe you do? I get this a lot. People say it behind my back too, i.e. "Hey I saw him the other day he's looking great", which feels awesome because in my mind I look like shit.

T_S_ 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The API for humans never changes but the spec is never complete. That's why this kind of item is helpful.
dwynings 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would definitely recommend people check out the author's memoir on his cancer diagnosis : http://www.amazon.com/Council-Dads-Daughters-Illness-ebook/d...
niels_olson 9 hours ago 0 replies      
In your mind, please change "someone who is sick" to "someone who is sick or struggling"
FiddlerClamp 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Please never ask, "Do you mind if I pray for you?" I can't tell you how offensive I find that, and how difficult I find to answer it without being offensive in return.

"I'll pray for you" is okay, I guess, but don't expect a thank-you.

It's All Software daringfireball.net
51 points by diogenescynic  5 hours ago   37 comments top 9
pavlov 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Gruber: ... Apple's vision for “access anywhere” is “iPhone everywhere”.

I'm reminded of how Jean-Louis Gassée, head of Apple's Macintosh development in the late 1980s, responded when asked how they plan to connect Macs to the network. He held up a piece of phone wire and said "this is our network". This was a reference to Apple's proprietary LocalTalk protocol which could be used over regular RJ11 connectors.

The gist of this story is that Apple completely ignored the need for interoperability with the Mac. The iCloud has a whiff of the same hubris.

joebadmo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is Gruber at his best. He correctly points out that the distinction people (including me) seem to be drawing is basically an arbitrary one.

I think the more abstract distinction comes from what each company wants you to do with their products, though. Apple wants you to use their hardware. What you use it for doesn't matter so much as you using it, and every decision they make, including leveraging the cloud, is informed by this.

Google, on the other hand, wants you to use the web, because the web is where they get paid. And the web is where we connect to each other.

Google's model makes that connection its fundamental primary motivation, while for Apple, the connection is incidental, just another feature.

ChrisLTD 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Apple makes their money from hardware sales, so their services will be locked or closely tied to their devices. While Gruber may be right with Apple bringing a web interface to some of iCloud, it won't be their focus. And that makes perfect business sense.

Google, on the other hand, just wants to serve you ads. That could be on HP, Dell, Apple, or Samsung hardware (although, I'm sure they'd prefer you bought Android or Chrome devices).

Personally, I prefer to buy Apple devices and use Google services. Apple makes the best hardware, but I don't want to be forced into buying them forever. With Google I can be assured access to my data from just about any future hardware vendor.

r00fus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm all for browser-clients everywhere if they could keep up with native clients in terms responsiveness, and hardware-software integration.

This has never been the case, and I don't think it will for some time to come, if ever.

Innovation on the web moves at standards-speed (de facto and open). If 80% of your users are stuck on IE6 or lower (circa 2007), you will be hard pressed to make anything web-based as usable as the iPhone and it's native apps that showed up around that time.

Apple's cloud isn't for serving everyone; just users of their products. Consequently they can move faster than standards with their native binaries, and be out in front of web standards (with graceful degradation for non-Safari browsers) for web clients.

statictype 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Apple solved this with the App Store, though " local native software with truly simple, obvious, easy installation and complete encapsulation of data.

The app store certainly makes it easy but its no where close to the easy installation and update of webapps - typing a name and hitting enter or clicking a link.

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that Apple's vision of the cloud is "data in the cloud. apps are local" whereas Google's vision of the cloud is "data and apps are in the cloud"?

All of Google's client-side software also comes down from the cloud the same way your data does.

6ren 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Apple's proprietary web.

It's true the distinction between networked native apps and networked browser apps is logically arbitrary; but the practical distinction is that the web is an open standard, cross platform, widely adopted, whereas Apple's native apps are tightly integrated with the device, giving them faster response and a better managed user experience. If iOS is everywhere, then you get the best of both worlds.

Can Apple topple the web? If they are better at providing what users want, yes.

ryanisinallofus 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't think there is a correlation between quality user experience and desktop software. He breaks down the difference between desktop and web-based software only to falsely associate one with user experience and one with mass-adoption.

I think choosing between the two depends on what type of app you plan on making, the type of users you target, business goals and a ton of other options.

I love how he's correctly reframed the native vs web discussion but am disappointed he decided to make it a war again. It's not a holy issue: choose what's best for your business.

Detrus 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not so sure Google's long term strategy is to bet it all on browser based clients and reach at the expense of user experience. They have NativeClient in ChromeOS, which may be a play to write a more traditional OS but better merged with the web.

The current state of the web is such a crappy experience for regular consumers that Apple's model could make some headway against it and Google wouldn't want to be moving at the pace of standards against them.

Hrothgar15 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Very astute. Gruber gets it.
Investors Pump $90 Million Into Airbnb Clone Wimdu techcrunch.com
22 points by ssclafani  4 hours ago   15 comments top 5
pitdesi 3 hours ago 4 replies      
What I don't understand about this is - What makes Wimdu a clone of AirBnB, but AirBnB not a clone of Homeaway/VRBO?

I'm not trying to be flippant, really wondering what is new about AirBnB (other than a much better interface)

tbrooks 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Every startup prides themselves on being the disruptor the industry until "me-too" clones come along and they get pissed because the disruption is short-lived.

Build a good product users want, treat those users well, and you'll be fine.

patrickgzill 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Can I just point out that Airbnb has a far superior name and domain name? I mean Wimdu sounds like a character from Star Wars, while Airbnb has the "bed and breakfast" abbreviation built right into the name.
pandakar 2 hours ago 0 replies      
At some point, shouldn't the readers of HN consider themselves the market makers? This constant hearsay about who is making money and who isn't...tiresome.
kinkora 3 hours ago 2 replies      
While i've nothing against Wimdu (or AirBnB), I am against putting insane amounts of money into something that not only is a "clone" of another business, it is also what I define as a business that does not exactly "push humanity forward".

I could give a myriad of better uses for that $90 million:

- Keep the SETI initiative going (and along with a few arrays)

- Any tpe of medical (cancer, genetics, etc) research

- Next generation wireless infrastructure networks

- Any viable cleantech startup

And the list goes on and on and on and on..

Richard Clarke: China's Cyberassault On America wsj.com
4 points by tptacek  58 minutes ago   discuss
Why All The Daily Deal Hate? techcrunch.com
43 points by rottencupcakes  7 hours ago   20 comments top 7
joeguilmette 7 hours ago 5 replies      
I ran a small business and ran a ton of Groupons. We are on track for another record breaking year thanks to Groupon. Like anything with small business, you can take the good with the bad and mitigate risk, or you can just crash and burn by making poor choices.

Groupon is amazing, and not very cheap marketing that WORKS, unlike a lot of other not very cheap marketing that does not work. And we sold a LOT of Groupons. Some days 80% of customers are Groupons. When you get 2x your normal business walking through the door it's kind of hard not to make money. Cross sales, up sales, post-experience contact, word of mouth... It's not as easy as just setting up a Groupon and watching money roll in, you have to think about it and work hard to turn it into a positive experience.

But then again, this is business, right? Who said it was going to be a safe, easy bet? Groupon is just another way to market your business.

And it happens to be very consistent and effective.

potatolicious 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's the flip side (i.e., not from the perspective of participating businesses) - I hate daily deals because, as a customer, they are almost never relevant.

It's like signing up for a crappy mailing list full of spam in the hopes that once in a blue moon something useful would show up. Except, the signal to noise ratio is so poor you only ever find out about the really good deals after the fact.

If I didn't want a spa Groupon yesterday, I sure as hell don't want one today. I don't want your stupid emails clogging up my Inbox - if they were smarter about it they'd get something in my news feeds - so I can just briefly glance at it and go on with my day, instead of deleting all of these emails.

If Groupon had actually a variety of deals of interest to me (or anyone I know, really), then it might be a compelling proposition to me as a consumer. But as it is it's just a bunch of crap that few people want (or a ludicrous overload of things people want).

edw 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This article eerily parallels a conversation I was having just last night about Groupon and Square: Groupon's a bunch of bottom-dwelling parasites whereas Square has already done so much to make it easier to accept credit cards, and their products are poised to add more and more value for small businesses.

I remember the first time I walked into an Apple Store after the iPhone had been released. Apple employees were using Win CE based handhelds with Symbol barcode scanners. It struck me as odd " and as something that was going to change. And when Apple figured out how to do it for themselves, with the iPhones or later the iPod Touch or iPad, then someone, maybe Apple, maybe someone else, would figure out how to make something that seemed like science fiction " employees able to check you out while you stood there, without going to a cash register " into something that anyone could do. It might only be 90% as good, but it probably only cost 10% of what those specialized Symbol devices cost.

Square has become that thing. I would have thought Intuit would've gotten there first. PayPal might have gotten their first. Or VeriPhone. All of them should have gotten there first, but I think there were probably huge Innovator's Dilemma style cannibalization and ego issues at work.

In the end Square was the company. I think these guys, as the author does, are the good guys. They're earning their keep. The people who work there are entitled to be proud of themselves, because they are very much poised to do very well by doing good.

9999 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"I'm tired of seeing small businesses get screwed."

I really don't understand this as a rationalization for the somewhat skewed portrayal of Groupon that this guy has been giving. I'm sure some small businesses have been screwed by choosing to do a poorly thought out Groupon. Groupon's business plan does not rely on them screwing over small businesses, in fact, they're heavily reliant on small businesses having a positive experience with the company. From all of the stories I've seen, it seems like there have been some nasty Groupon sales guys that may have took advantage of a small business owner, but it seems like Groupon is not encouraging that behavior in the long term. It's obviously not in their best business interests to do so, and Andrew Mason, being neither a fool nor a monster would not allow the business to lose sight of its longer term goals. Also, the fact that he took a very low payout tells me that he may be in it for the long haul.

dlitwak 4 hours ago 0 replies      
companies pay millions of dollars for a spot in the superbowl to reach customers and they aren't able to quantify them, and obviously million dollar spots on tv aren't for every business. But, like Groupon, that isn't to say they don't benefit businesses that use them right.
And it can be used as a way to build awareness. Maybe the restaurants and coffee shops that offered groupons didn't get anything out of it because their patrons didn't like the product enough to come back when there wasn't a discount. I don't think restaurants/coffee shops are inherently bad targets, you can be prompted to try someplace new and become a regular if the food is any good. Seems like bad decision making on the part of the business owner.
clobber 7 hours ago 0 replies      
His first sentence really sums it all up:

"I'm tired of seeing small businesses get screwed."

cachemoney 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It drives pageviews?
No, a 16-year-old Sun Sparcstation doesn't work like a new x86 box stevenrosenberg.net
19 points by bootload  3 hours ago   9 comments top 5
ben1040 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
This takes me back to the first summer internship I had, where I was plopped in front of an SS5 back in 1998. I was a 17 year old kid who had a 486 at home, so this machine with no removable disks whatsoever really perplexed me. Then I realized I could walk to any workstation in the lab, sign in, and my homedir and everything would be right there, while everything ran off the app server transparently. "The network is the computer" blew my mind.

Our group's web server at the time was on a quad-CPU 50 MHz SS20. I can't imagine what that thing had to have cost when it was new.

In 2001, when I was in college, some lab in my engineering school decided to dump some SS5's. My roommates and I rescued a handful of them from the dumpster, and then mixed and matched parts from them so we'd have three decent machines. We set them up on a table made from an old cable spool, and on any given weekday evening there'd be three or four people coding away on them.

killerswan 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
Recently, I've had reason to set up systems of various types from that era. Frankly, SunOS 4.1.3 is a dream compared to consumer stuff like Macs running System 7, or PCs with Windows 3.1. Sure, it isn't going to run modern software, but you can reliably do things in the shell, and quickly, that are tedious on those other systems. Great stuff!
michaelpinto 1 hour ago 2 replies      
You need to understand two things looking at that photo:
- The pizza box design for workstations and servers was really hot in the 90s (btw the ones from NeXT starting the ball moving as I recall)
- I realize that looks like a pile of junk today but back in the day each of those machines was a small fortune (I'm guessing over $10k each)
kylemaxwell 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Man, this takes me back. I still have a bunch of IPXs and SS5s in my garage someplace, and if they have an OS at all, they have OpenBSD. I finally turned them off because of the power draw relative to their functionality.
bane 45 minutes ago 2 replies      
Out of curiosity, I wonder how well we could emulate one of these today?
The Difference Between A Developer, A Programmer And A Computer Scientist skorks.com
56 points by sayemm  7 hours ago   19 comments top 14
shaggyfrog 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This reads like a load of pop-IT-psychology nonsense. Take a few terms and adapt them to whatever preconceived notions you have, and whammo, there's your thesis statement.

I've had the job titles "Software Engineer", "Software Developer" and "Computer Scientist" but I was basically doing the same job each time. A job title doesn't cause a fundamental change in behaviour or capabilities. If it does, then you have a whole other major problem.

FWIW, I always refer to myself as a "programmer" socially as it seems to be the simplest form for people to understand.

elbenshira 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Alan writes useful things, but this is pretty much meaningless. He says so himself: "Developer are programmers to a greater or lesser extent. Computer scientists are programmers to a greater or lesser extent."

Why put ourselves into different camps? Why can't I write poetical Rails code during the day and read the latest research papers on type theory at night? Placing ourselves in these artificial camps hinders us from exploring new places and ideas. This is why I'm tempted to call myself an artist or inventor (though to much ridicule) instead of a programmer or developer or computer scientist.

cubicle67 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd always classified a Programmer as someone who writes code to someone else's spec, and a Developer codes to their own spec

A Programmer is a specific role - write code to do exactly this. A Developer has a broader role - they're often also heavily involved with the BA side of things, overall architecture and DB design.

Developers tend to exist in smaller companies, and are replaced by more specific titles an the company grows. A startup may have a handful of Developers, whereas a larger company will have a team of BAs, a team of DBAs, another team of Architects and sometimes multiple teams of Programmers. In large companies like this, Programmer sits almost at the bottom of the IT food chain, just above Helpdesk

I don't think I've ever met a Computer Scientist

mquander 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That's easy. A "computer scientist" is a tenured professor^W^Wsomeone who does research in computer science. A "programmer" is someone who writes code for a living. A "developer" or "software engineer" is a programmer who likes business-y titles.
arctangent 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't think this article helps us much at all, although I am sure it was written with good intentions.

I personally don't think of a "computer scientist" as being the kind of person who writes very much code at all. Their main concern is with the mathematical properties of various (potentially theoretical) methods and algorithms of computation. This thinking trickles down over time into language design and (very) occasionally into some new whiz-bang algorithm for doing stuff really fast.

A "programmer" (to me) is someone who writes code for a living. They may not know too much about data structures and the like, but maybe they don't need too if they're using a modern language that makes that kind of thing easy. I don't really know what the difference between a "programmer" and a "developer" is, but my job title has "developer" in it and I spend all day programming so I'm probably allowed to be plenty confused about that :-)

Jach 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Computer Scientist: A computer scientist is as much a mathematician as they are a technologist

Programmer: A good breadth of algorithmic knowledge is imperative

Developer: They are consummate generalists without any truly deep specializations

Since those are bolded I assume the author means those as the defining characteristics of each group. Yet I see all of those in myself. Depending on the project, some aspects stand out more than others, and some styles (throwing together, designing, refactoring) stand out more than others as well.

I'll just nod my head to the other commenters who don't find this article very useful.

TY 7 hours ago 1 reply      
.. and then there are CPC - CopyPaste Coders, who glue snippets of code found on the web into an incoherent mess that gets some narrow job done.

Some of these graduate to Developers, the ones who don't and want to stay in the industry become BigCo Managers...

mikle 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I really love the distinction that a programmer programs, writing code and making executables, while a developer builds a product, and a software developer builds a product made out of code.

Programs and products are two different thing in this metaphor. A program is just something a machine can read while a product is something a human can use.

jc123 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is the "hacker" categorization missing?
crander 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it me or do the pictures portray a vastly different level of social prospects for each of these categories?
PaulHoule 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Computer scientists get ahead in their careers by writing papers, not by writing software; they often prove things mathematically, but they're not particularly good at writing software that actually works.

For instance, I once got a C program from one of the machine learning masterminds of our time which crashed in the static initializer on 32 bit machines because it allocated a 4GB array that it never used. If you get some software from an academic research group there's a high probability that it won't build or won't run.

"Programmers" and "Developers" both write software for a living and I don't think it's worthwhile making a distinction. Lately I've been using "Web Developer" as a title for myself that more like a "Real Estate Developer" than a "Software Developer" but I'm afraid this is a non standard usage.

Apocryphon 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the only way for this to not be meaningless is to have some sort of industry standard, along with accreditation programs and so on.
pilgrim689 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Some people prefer math over code.
Some people prefer code over math.
Some people are not specialized in either but are good at other stuff.

News at 11.

woodall 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Why can't I just like computers?
Don't Get Burned By Heatmaps gazehawk.com
70 points by bkrausz  10 hours ago   22 comments top 7
petercooper 2 hours ago 2 replies      
After reviewing the individual heatmaps, however, we get the impression that the site might have a bit too much going on

Normal A/B split tests have a similar issue. Let's say you have a sales page and you're testing colors. Red buy button, a blue button, a green button. And let's say blue wins overall with a high level of confidence.

Without drilling down (and most systems I've worked with are bad at this or can't do it at all) you can't tell if certain types of user actually preferred other scenarios. For example, visitors from east Asia might convert WAY better for the red button (red being a lucky color in China). And visitors coming from certain sites might always convert better on the green.

Problem is, your split test results show the overall results and so you optimize with the blue.. when your A/B tool could have analyzed the data and suggested segments for you. Does this tool exist (without getting users to guess segments up front)? If not, there's a ton of money being left on the table.

georgieporgie 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Using the example of GazeHawk, it looks like they claim to work using your system's built-in webcam. Being interested in eye tracking for non-advertising purposes, I did a few calculations, and I fail to see how this is possible at typical monitor distance and typical webcam resolutions.

Does anyone have any insight as to how this is done? Currently, I'm highly skeptical of that these heat maps are the least bit accurate.

lsb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Very cool stuff, Brian! It'd be interesting to try to cluster users based on what bits of the page they look at (women 65+ look at navigation breadcrumbs significantly more than average, say).
moultano 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like you need a heatmap for the variance as well as the mean.
rgbrgb 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Though I'm pretty optimistic about the possibility for algorithmic user interface design (or at least quantitative evaluation), I've yet to see any conclusive studies on the matter. Anybody got any hard info on this?
terzza 9 hours ago 1 reply      
During my final year project for my BSc, I tried to address the problem of losing the temporal data from eye tracking in heatmaps with an accelerated replay, heatmap animation. Here's an example:


This video shows a selection of sittings from radiologists reporting on chest xrays.

If I recall correctly it is sped up approximately 5 x realtime.

kjames 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Pardon my ignorance, but I find your efforts quite insignificant. If you were to ask me where most people looked on that example, I could accurately tell you what got the most looks first, second, third etc, without ever seeing your heatmap. Do I really need a third party to tell me people like boobs more than Ron Paul?

I'd like to add that the length of eye contact is irrelevant especially to a metric that is more valuable, interpretation. Let's say that we can determine (or even narrow down) users interpretation of content and heatmap the relevance to their visit. If we could take a pro-active stance we could predict future visits and adjust the content accordingly, not be reactionary and simply say (after the user is gone) that people looked at boobs more than Ron Paul.

Just my two cents, sorry if I was a dick.

My weekend project - AES encryption for Gmail or anything else encipher.it
128 points by eran  14 hours ago   59 comments top 21
jgrahamc 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Your key derivation function is pretty weak. Looking at your code you are doing SHA256(password entered by user). You should take a look at using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBKDF2 for the key derivation. SHA256 is really fast and given that you are getting entropy from some user entered password (which is likely to be badly chosen) you want something _slow_ to derive the key. Hence PBKDF2 with lots of iterations.
moe 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Wouldn't it make more sense to revive FireGPG[1] and, while you're at it, port it to all other major browsers?

I am still disappointed that PGP in the browser never gained traction. Not only would it help with e-mail security, it could also be used for passwordless website logins, portable web identities, all that jazz[2].

One proper, user-friendly browser plugin could put an end to all those nasty kludges called OAuth, OpenID, LastPass, etc...

[1] http://getfiregpg.org/s/home

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust

pixdamix 13 hours ago 3 replies      


You should consider moving to https. After all, what's the point in providing this kind of script if anyone can MITM it ?

Besides that, this is pretty cool. Could you provide a standalone bookmarlet which doesn't need to download any scripts ?

agentultra 12 hours ago 1 reply      
While I won't point out the technical reasons why encryption is hard, I will say that I think this project is cool.

I think encryption is something more people might use if it were accessible.

But it's hard enough as it is without making it so easy that Joe Sixpack could use it -- especially since implementations as we know it require Joe Sixpack to understand what he's doing or else the encryption fails.

However, tools like this at least give us prototypes for ideas that could one-day bridge the gap.

Good job, dude. Hope you stick with it and find a way to make it better.

Erwin 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Note that Gmail automatically saves your draft as you type it. So while this will offer some protection for the message while it's in transit from Google's server to your destination, your unencrypted message draft will still be sent to Google's servers (and given Google Apps' distributed architecture, I'm not sure you can determine where that unencrypted copy could end up or when it'd be erased).

Perhaps a way around that could be to enhance a text input field so that only the final encrypted message is written to it, so Google's app does not see the plain text.

Ixiaus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like this would be better as a browser extension instead of a bookmarklet... I get a bit queasy about the potential for MITM with this implementation. An extension that could bring GPG to the mix, would be VERY awesome (if that doesn't exist, I actually haven't tried searching for that...).

Cool project though :)

jrockway 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Who are you protecting the message from when you do this? Gmail? But they can just send the cleartext to the server before you click "encrypt it", and in fact they do (drafts).

Don't type stuff into a program you didn't write if you don't want the author to see it.

VMG 10 hours ago 0 replies      

Typing The Letters A-E-S Into Your Code? You're Doing It Wrong

woodall 13 hours ago 1 reply      
>Weekend project


Choose one.

drdaeman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Obligatory link to Nate Lawson's article on in-page crypto: http://rdist.root.org/2010/11/29/final-post-on-javascript-cr...
scrrr 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Very cool. Something like that for GPG encrypted emails would be great.
zitterbewegung 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Thats pretty neat since you have of the encryption done client side. Which mode of AES do you use?
megamark16 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great, I was just thinking the other day that it should be possible to encrypt gmail messages. Now you should make it possible to encrypt GChat messages automatically when I hit Send, and then decrypt them when they are received, that way they are encrypted end to end, instead of just between my browser and the server :-)
js4all 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, but s/mime is the proper way to encrypt and/or sign emails.

I am not sure though, if it is possible to create a multipart message using JavaScript in gmail.

antihero 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an awesome way of doing things. I'm going to be doing a slightly different implementation of this for my WIRE project on the advice of a bunch of people (more intense key differentiation, for a start), but it's good to know people are starting to do this :)
mtogo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, testing it out it constantly confuses weather it should be encrypting or decrypting. I've tried to enter a message and had it request a decryption password.

That combined with the poor crypto practices makes it rather unusable, but it's a fantastic concept! Just needs a bit of work.

e-dard 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is neat. Would it be possible to extend it such that you could drop a key file into the password box to do the encryption/decryption?
fduran 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This tool is interesting and the page has a nice design.

I also created recently a weekend project based on client-side encryption: https://whisperpassword.com , I need to learn about design though ;-)

jahmed 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice. I've been thinking of something like this for my project as well. The problem I face is how do you securely exchange the key.
jvehent 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Nicely done.
Roundcubemail has been struggling with email encryption for a while now. I would love to see you solution in a plugin: http://trac.roundcube.net/wiki/Plugin_Repository
eskimoYoYo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Gotta say, awesome work so far! Encryption aside, this is a great concept.
A Whole Bunch of Amazing Stuff Pseudo Elements Can Do css-tricks.com
107 points by joshuacc  13 hours ago   2 comments top
CoffeeDregs 11 hours ago 1 reply      
OT: I expected this to be about smart matter (or wellstone). http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmable_matter But html is cool, too. ;)
Announcing Discovr Apps " discover new iOS apps discovr.info
9 points by buggalug  1 hour ago   1 comment top
wdtunes 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
Not sure I want to pay for an app that helps me find more apps.
Google Search By Image techcrunch.com
69 points by tilt  10 hours ago   25 comments top 11
Pewpewarrows 10 hours ago 1 reply      
TinEye and Google Goggles applied to the entire Internet? Yes please. I can't wait to play around with this.

What will be even more interesting is if they release an API for it in the future. Sites like imgur and reddit could then suggest if you're uploading or submitting a similar image to one that already exists.

BoppreH 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I use TinEye a lot and I think this will be great. My typical uses of TinEye, that will probably be improved with the bigger stock:

- somebody put text over a nice image and I want the unmodified version

- searching for bigger, better quality versions of an image (e.g. wallpapers)

- finding other images from the same author/gallery (since it links to the sites that hosts the copies)

- finding the name of the movie, person or object pictured (because copies will be hosted with different, probably meaningful names and in pages with subtitles)

dmix 7 hours ago 0 replies      
From my understanding, TinEye makes money from corporate B2B deals. Their consumer product is mostly just a technology demo/marketing piece rather than a part of their core business.

So they probably don't have much to worry about.

cpeterso 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Retrievr is a prototype of a similar idea: search for Flickr photos by drawing (or uploaded image).


iansinke 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of apps like Shazam. While they definitely serve an amazing purpose (recognizing songs by finding a similar region of sound) what I would really like is an app that could recognize my humming a song--which probably sounds nothing like the actual song itself (different key, speed, entirely different voice, etc.)
derobert 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this is based on the search-by-image that Google Goggles (on Android) already does.
tilt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
From QAs: it won't perform face recognition
tilt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
From QAs: submitted images will be treated like any other query and they'll stay private
itswindy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Rightheaven clones jump from joy :)
antihero 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how it'll compare with TinEye.
damonpace 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Love this! But I really only see a mobile use for this, rather than a desktop use.
Build your business around an idea warpspire.com
33 points by kneath  7 hours ago   4 comments top 4
6ren 1 hour ago 0 replies      
When you focus on needs that don't change, you can change what products you create to meet it, and you will always be in demand.

When you focus on a need that can never be perfectly met, you will always be able to improve, and you will always be in demand.

dstein 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a better way to think about this is to separate your company from the products you build. Ask yourself what does your company do, and how your products accomplish that goal. In a lot of startups these days the product is the company which leaves you with absolutely no wiggle room.
pedalpete 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The ideas in this post are inline with Simon Sinek's 'start with why' book and ted talk.
politician 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Spend a few weeks hanging out in bars and cafes asking what people do and you'll hear some of the most idiotic business ideas in the world. A lot of journalists use this argument to call San Francisco an echo chamber whose sole purpose is burning money. And you know, they're right. This city does burn through money on terrible ideas. But that's a tradeoff for fostering a city of people who believe they can do anything."

There's something to be said for inadvertently confirming that tech is in a bubble. "Here, just buy this house on an adjustable rate mortgage, then flip it for bucks!"

Nevertheless, I thought the author made a good point about building the future.

Hackers & Founders Co-op, The Accidental Incubator hackersandfounders.posterous.com
60 points by iamelgringo  3 hours ago   8 comments top 6
scrollbar 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Those who have met Jonathan know that he has a heart of gold. This is a guy who just wants to help those that deserve it. I'll be supporting the Co-op as much as I can and watching closely as this first set of startups grow up.

Keep up the good work!

And see you all at the next H&F meetup...

daveambrose 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Just left this comment on the post itself, but extremely proud fo you Jonathan and Laura!

So excited to see this take shape guys. Kudos to all the great work to our friends and colleagues out West. You guys will always have a network to come into here in NYC!

asherbond 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Proud to see H&F building so much traction and keeping things innovative. - Asher Bond
iRoboticist 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is something that people like me really need. A genuine help is always welcomed!!

Wish I could attend the Thursday Meet-up...can I?

rchauhan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
this is an awesome initiative. keep you the good work
davidryal 1 hour ago 0 replies      
+1 to all good tidings.
Reeder for Mac's HTML5 Homepage reederapp.com
58 points by mrshoe  10 hours ago   25 comments top 10
bajsejohannes 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It beautiful, no doubt! But I must admit, it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out what this application does. The landing page doesn't tell me, the screenshot page doesn't tell me either (not by scanning, anyway) (also, every screenshot is two clicks away). In the end, I reluctantly clicked help, and found out.

Still; very esthetically pleasing.

frou_dh 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I like Reeder for iPhone/Pad, and tried the recent beta of this. As a Mac app, it seems to have an "overtly custom" UI, which although clearly skillfully put together, just doesn't appeal to me in look or feel. Though the keyboard shortcuts and add-on services were impressively configurable.
jsherer 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting. I had to open Safari for it to work, though. Chrome (canary) failed on the transitions.
ricardobeat 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Sorry, but no HTML5 in there, just some CSS3 candy.

(just noticed they use the History API, but that seems to be all)

It also doesn't even have a heading element, and uses document.write for styles... bummer.

mynameisraj 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Fun fact: holding the shift key will slow down the animations.
Zakuzaa 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How are they modifying address bar url? Is it a feature of HTML5?
gburt 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There is almost nothing HTML5 about this.
Hrothgar15 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Reeder is my main web browser, actually.

It's how I access 90% of online textual content. I do not want to be presented with inconsistent, poorly thought out, ad-ridden web site designs. Just the text and images for articles and blog posts. Reeder lets me get in, read, and get out.

foobarbazetc 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
lovskogen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I was more found of the CSS3 that the HTML5.
VC per capita, Europe: $7, U.S.: $72, Israel: $144. wsj.com
50 points by friism  10 hours ago   44 comments top 7
ig1 8 hours ago 4 replies      
What the article misses is that London with roughly 1% of Europe's population get's 30-40% of the VC financing in Europe.

So based on those figures London's VC per capita is in the region of $200-$300 (London has a similar population size to Israel).

ansy 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much of Israel's VC money is domestic and how much pours in from the US.
vetleen 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This doesn't quite capture the picture because Europe often have public subsidies as well. For instance the publicly owned "Innovation Norway" in Norway has a budget of NOK 1,5 billion, which translates to about US$60 per capita. Most of this is spent on subsidising entrepreneurial ventures.
ajju 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I want to see this number for just Silicon Valley.
imjustatechguy 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Annual US Aid to Israel is $382.97 per Israeli and going up.
leyfa 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I have no doubt that VC money is the lowest in Europe of those three. I wonder though how significant this metric really is, especially if the large developping countries of eastern Europe are included. Wouldn't a VC money per startup/founder be more interesting?
tomx 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is MS's European chairman genuinely concerned about the European economy and education system? In that case, he might have more success at these goals, by becoming a politician instead.

Or... are these economic observations somehow self serving? Perhaps the lower levels of VC investment in Europe (per capita) are inconvenient for him: Implying European investors should greatly increase their investment levels. Would he be happy if VC levels did increase 10x to US levels... But funds were largely directed at companies that MS did not have involvement with?

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