hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    11 Nov 2011 News
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EMI music is sold to Universal. We're down to three major labels. bbc.co.uk
56 points by AndrewDucker  1 hour ago   20 comments top 9
mwsherman 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
The traditional idea of a “label” is going away. The existence of that particular line of business is an accident of history. Not a bad thing, but dependent of a set of circumstances (including medium and distribution) that existed for, say, 50 years.

There will still be a role for managing and promoting talent, but it will look more like marketing and less like distribution. It will have less dependence on intellectual property in the form of recordings (which are easy to reproduce) and more in the form of brands (which are hard to reproduce).

In startup parlance, the “moat” will be the artist's brand, not the recording.

tptacek 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Apologies in advance for glibness, but, who cares? Record labels are irrelevant.

The capital costs of producing and (more importantly) distributing popular music have fallen through the floor. The heavily-promoted music products people think of when they think of EMI or Warner are in large part contrivances that exist primarily to perpetuate EMI and Warner.

The future barely even belongs to independent labels like Matador. Eventually, the Internet and commerce are going to figure out how to let any artist effectively be their own "label", outsourcing every function served by a label today to some Internet startup.

This is one reason why "buying the whole music industry" would be a stupid decision by Apple. We're always staring so intently at the next 12 months, but if you move your gaze upwards just a few fractions of an inch you can see that none of this stuff is going to matter. Labels are a bad investment.

jfoutz 52 minutes ago 1 reply      
2 billion doesn't sound like a lot of money to me.

Apple could use, say, a third of its cash and own the entire music industry outright? not that the labels would ever sell, but still. amazing how tiny that industry is given how much noise it makes.

billpatrianakos 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Micro-labels are cool and online services like Rdio and Spotify are great but is there anyone out there doing anything in this space besides these players?

It seems like this industry is prime for disruption and I'm not talking about the kind of disruption the current startups are doing. I see a ton of startups focusing on getting music to the consumer but what about startups that focus on grooming new talent for the big time?

We've got YouTube, SoundCloud and the like that make getting heard easy but the onus is on the music maker to spread the word. No one will listen to your song on these sites unless they're being promoted. It would be cool to have a new kind of "major" label that gets you exposure in a way the majors do but without totally screwing over the artists. Most musical acts make burger-flipper salaries and do tons of exhausting work because the deals they sign are heavily favored toward the label.

Or maybe like a universal label like BankSimple (now Simple) but for music labels.

On second read, I think this sounds vague and kind of naive. Oh well. Is anyone doing anything like this that I don't know of or has it been thought of and found to be a bad idea?

tejaswiy 39 minutes ago 2 replies      
Does this mean we finally get Pink Floyd and the Beatles on Spotify?
AndrewDucker 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The question is, is this recession-based consolidation, or is it part of an inevitable decline of the music industry as the idea of "major labels" goes away?
seltzered_ 40 minutes ago 2 replies      
In my world, concert festivals & blogs have replace the need for major labels marketing role, and itunes / amazon / cdbaby have replaced their manufacturing / distribution role.

That said, I've seen friends of friends at iTunes start micro-labels that seem to focus more on online & concert only efforts.

I'd be more concerned about consolidation if it was the 90's again.

Update: Yes, you guys are right. I'm spoiled - I live in Austin "live music capital of the world" and have mostly non-pop taste in music.

buddylw 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
We will be at zero soon enough.
Achshar 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like how title makes it look like it is a relief to have one less label to deal with.
Linux Mint: The new Ubuntu? extremetech.com
36 points by mrsebastian  45 minutes ago   16 comments top 8
w1ntermute 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
For those who don't want to shift to a new distro, Xubuntu is a great option. It's lightweight without losing any of the features you've come to expect from a fully-featured DE.

And best of all, it's not going to pull the UI rug out from under you at a moment's notice.

Alterlife 11 minutes ago 2 replies      
Linux Mint has put Google custom search into the distribution in order to raise revenue. It's in firefox both from the address bar, the search box, and in the quick search from the 'start' menu. It's very annoying, and it isn't just a matter of opting out. Mint doesn't support an easy way to remove it from all three locations without getting technical.

I used mint for a couple of months, the custom search engine came back every time I updated a browser, and it was very annoying to reset settings. It was a deal breaker for me.

nicwest 1 minute ago 0 replies      
As a fairly recent main machine ubuntu convert (6 months or so), I'm actually a fan of unity. Like everyone I hated it at first, but now that I have got used to it I prefer it to regular gnome stuff.

I agree however that 11.10 has been a nightmare however as many useful (but not hardcore) features have been removed from the UI of many packages for reasons such as "casual users are unlikely to need this".

kokey 9 minutes ago 2 replies      
It reminds me of the die-hard KDE users and Kubuntu. I think Canonical did well with the creation of Ubuntu, which made it possible to throw a Linux desktop at a newbie user for the first time. From the sounds of it, Unity hasn't lost that angle. Since it's actively looking at tablets, I think they are here to stay. With tablet hardware getting more powerful, it could be surviving contender to iOS and Android.
SlipperySlope 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Linux Mint looks good for Linux developers who want a high-productivity environment based on Gnome & debian. Canonical is re-purposing Ubuntu for the casual, ease-of-use, mobile and tablet markets.

Its easy to understand why ... those markets are growing quickly. And Microsoft is going in the same direction with their Metro look-and-feel.

mbq 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
It seems that nothing made more for the spread of minor linux distros than the introduction of Gnome 3...
vdoma 13 minutes ago 1 reply      
What's wrong with sticking to an older version of Ubuntu - 11.04 or earlier where you're not forced to use Unity? That's what I do. And I get a lot more work done without having to worry with the latest shiny new toys in town.
"I would dial the 300 baud dial-up number, and scream the carrier tone." msdn.com
36 points by pavel_lishin  1 hour ago   15 comments top 6
ddlatham 31 minutes ago 1 reply      
I have a very low voice and enjoy singing or humming along with the bass line in music some times. While I was singing along with a song, all of a sudden my monitor started to go a bit nuts and wave. When I stopped singing (or changed notes) it stopped.

I turned to my roommate, "Can you see that?"


It turned out that if I sang a note at the same frequency as my monitor's refresh rate, the image on the screen would start to modulate up and down in a wavy sort of way. But to my eyes alone. Must have been something with the motion of my eyes or my head matching the refreshing of the screen.

jgrahamc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I used to pulse dial a phone using the hook switch to get free calls. There was a phone in the bar in my college that only accepted incoming calls. It did this by having no dial. Of course, that didn't stop you from tapping out the phone number if you could get the beat right.

The other stupid phone that I hacked around was a pay phone in a flat that I rented where you'd pick up the handset and get a dial tone but the keypad was inoperative unless you put in money. Hello DTMF pocket dialer.

It's not unreasonable to think that someone could emulate the carrier tone with their voice. After all the modem had to work inside the frequency range used for voice communications.

mmaunder 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
I spent hours as a young phone phreak trying to sieze an international (phone) trunk by whistling 2600hz like cap'n crunch did to sieze 800 trunks in the US and get free phone calls. It never worked because to sieze an international CCITT5 trunk you'd use a combo of 2400/2600hz. But I did it anyway when I was bored and tried to modulate a bit of 2400hz in there - figured one day I'd get lucky.
ctdonath 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
A friend would call with his computer out of the blue. I'd hear the tone, and whistle the matching tone back to keep it happy until I could get my own computer up and running to link up.
marshray 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Yep. I did that too.

I was younger and my voice hadn't changed so it wasn't so much of a scream, more of a loud "Eeeeeeeeee...". Though I doubt it was any less annoying to the adults around.

lowglow 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
Back in my phreaking days, I was grounded so often that out of sheer boredom I learned to whistle DTMF tones. I could dial a number simply by whistling it.
10x XSS on apple.com nilsjuenemann.de
96 points by nilsjuenemann  2 hours ago   28 comments top 5
absconditus 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Compared to other companies Apple has a lot of deprecated (?) legacy applications running. It looks like a mingle-mangle of different programming languages, application servers, domains or hostnames and independently running services - with a lot of bugs."

Nearly every large corporation is similar in this regard.

lwhi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"2011-09-08 storechat.apple.com

A cross-site scripting issue was addressed. We would like to acknowledge "some stupid nerd" for reporting this issue."

Made me smile.

abailin 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Apple's credit page for people who have reported potential security vulnerabilities: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1318
bobbles 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone explain what I'm actually supposed to see here? Screenshots of some directory names dont really mean anything unless you already understand what they mean
brlewis 2 hours ago 3 replies      
A page that lets you run arbitrary JavaScript in your own browser is not automatically vulnerable . For it to be a vulnerability you must be able to run arbitrary JavaScript in someone else's browser. If these pages protect against CSRF, most of them aren't vulnerable, expresslane being one case where I think you could get the JS to someone else without CSRF.
Online services our startup subscribes to ye.gg
40 points by epi0Bauqu  1 hour ago   9 comments top 4
edash 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Here are some things we use at http://realhq.com " those also mentioned in the article are in italics:


Rails Hosting: EngineYard

LAMP Hosting: HostGator

File Hosting: AWS

Video Hosting: Wistia

Code Hosting: GitHub


Email/Calendar/Docs: Google Apps

Project Management: Basecamp

Group Chat: Campfire

Wiki: Backpack


Email Deliverability: SendGrid

Phone Magic: Twilio

Phone System: OpenVBX


Error Monitoring: Airbrake

App Monitoring: New Relic

Server Monitoring: Pingdom


Receipts: Shoeboxed

Income: Freshbooks

Accounting: Outright


Web Fonts: fonts.com

Web Fonts: Typekit

eSignatures: DocuSign

Forms: Wufoo

Advertising: Google AdWords

Our favorite products are probably Outright (dead simple), Twilio (enables tons of phone system magic), and AdWords (flexible, powerful, profitable). The two products we're actively working to replace are Backpack (with Workflowy or something similar) and Shoeboxed (we have yet to find an alternative). And we've outgrown Wufoo, but owe them much more than we've ever paid them in monthly charges.

robjohnson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting the list - more startups should do this.
dignan 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I was curious about ServerDensity. Does anyone have experience with them? How easy is it to automate for deployment? Does it compare favorably with Munin and/or nagios?
tedroden 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Do you guys use a project management package? Basecamp, asana, pivotal etc?

(We don't use them either (yet), just wondering what you do instead?)

In defense of the Google chef rondam.blogspot.com
615 points by lisper  11 hours ago   108 comments top 33
mmaunder 10 hours ago 6 replies      
My sister's a french trained chef and I've been writing software most of my life. She works probably 3X harder than any geek I know including me. It's brutal. She arrives 8am to prep and leaves 11pm after service, 6 days a week when she was working for someone else. 7 now that she's opening her own place. She's on her feet all day. The job is both time critical and requires constant teamwork. If you or anyone else drops the ball the angry customer is right there, including the angry wait staff and angry team mates. It's very high pressure.

She's now busy opening her own restaurant and it's a far cry from writing software once and kicking back while each incremental copy sold costs you zero effort or money. Every incremental product a chef sells is hand-made and has to have its raw ingredients bought without any certainty it'll actually get sold. What's worse is many ingredients have a shelf life of mere days.

Every product is hand made to a customer's specifications and delivered in real-time with immediate feedback. If a product is rejected, it's expected to be replaced immediately without interrupting the flow of products heading out to new customers. And of course the tools of the trade are not a keyboard, but sharp knives and open flames.

So yeah, the "google chef scenario" comment bugged me too.

goodside 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It's ludicrous that it's even necessary to paint the archetypical "Google chef" as someone who daringly sacrifices for their scrappy company for them to be worthy of windfall profits. If you compensate employees with options, they deserve whatever they end up being worth. Period. That's the whole point of options. If there were an asterisk attached that said, "...but only if people agree in retrospect that you deserve the money," nobody would accept them as payment.
kamaal 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Its not about chef or a Janitor or whatever. Why are these people acting as though only a few have the right to be rich?

Why can't a Janitor be rich? Why can't a chef be rich? What really is so wrong with it? This attitude is so despicable! So anybody who doesn't go to a big Ivy league, or some one who doesn't have an MBA next to his name or hasn't worked at a investment bank can't be rich?

Which in case, what this really turns out to be is alternate form of slavery where a selected few have to resign themselves to a lesser standard of life to serve the remaining self chosen elite and act in every way such that the elite are benefiting.

If you want some job to be done and you are ready to pay for it, money/stock or whatever. And you promise and the contract so. You just need to pay up. That's it, it ends there.

You don't get the work done, squeeze the juice out of the employees. Then one fine day realize that what you promised is now worth a lot of money. So you suddenly dump them, loot all the money yourself and say that they don't deserve it.

You had promised that it was worth paying something for some one from some work. So now when it is time to pay up. Just pay.

wisty 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"Charlie didn't make $20M for cooking, he made $20M for taking the risk that the company he was joining would fail"

Maybe. Or how about this:

Charlie didn't make $20M for cooking. He effectively made a normal chef's salary, some of which he effectively invested into Google shares.

What's the issue? That a chef (unlike a banker or programmer) helps fund a company, and gets shares for it?

andywood 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Begrudging the 'Google chef' is taking the effects of market forces that influence the relative pay of chefs and software developers, and trying to apply them by sheer assertion to the stock option lottery. The mechanics that influence pay are completely separate from the mechanics that make early employees rich. If a CEO honestly believed that certain workers should not have any chance of getting rich, the consistent thing would be not to offer them options in the first place.

This issue also reeks of the Just-World Fallacy. Individual early employees of wildly successful companies don't get rich because it's fair, even if it sort of works out that way on average. They get rich because someone gave them options, and then the stock skyrocketed. Efforts to explain it in terms of justice are mostly post-hoc rationalization.

gwern 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Feeding a few hundred people in a professional setting is not just taking the process of preparing a home-cooked meal and multiplying. If a software engineer screws up, the site goes down. But if a chef screws up, people get sick. In extreme cases, they die.

Wow, hyperbole much? A chef only gets people sick or kills if he epically screws up.

A thought experiment: figure how many restaurants and fast-food chains there are in the US; multiply by how many people they serve a day; multiply by 365.25; divide by number of annual deaths. Ponder this upper bound on risk. Ponder whether the base-rate risk is greater or lesser than the risk of walking across the street or driving to work. Finally, ponder on whether this base-rate ought to be adjusted upwards or downwards for a trained corporate chef working in a controlled environment with good facilities (as opposed to a newbie teen or immigrant working for minimum wage in a kitchen somewhere).

kls 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not usually a get out the E-Pitchfork type guy, but this subject has really gotten under my skin. I got stiffed on an exit so you can take my view as biased if you would like. It most likely is given my irritation at the subject, I generally don't get worked up over stuff so it has certainly hit a nerve.

But the part that really gets me is it has absolutely nothing to do with the role these people played and every bit to do with the longer hours, reduced compensation risk and how long a person takes that risk for. If they came in on the ground floor then have been riding the roller-coaster and getting paid dirt for longer then they deserve those early and current options, I just cannot understand the attitude that is being displayed where the CEO feels that later employees that are "now" more strategic to the company (read executives) are more deserving of that equity given their worth to the current goals of the company. That is such a warped perspective, it has nothing to do with the future and everything to do with how much risk and how long those early employes took that risk for.

jfruh 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The thing that most bugs me about this is that the Google chef somehow needs to have his rights defended. He was made a promise when he was hired and Google cheerfully fulfilled its obligation to follow through with that. Ditto on whoever is being screwed at Zynga. "Unvested" does not mean "maybe you will get this at a later date, who can say."
tlrobinson 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Also, if I were Mark Pincus or another Zynga executive I'd probably avoid the Zynga cafeteria for awhile...
alexwolfe 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Who determines who is actually worthy 20 million or a billion? In every case there is a tremendous amount of good fortune, luck, and incredible timing.

Anyone who thinks they deserve that much more money than someone else because they are just a better human being needs to get a reality check. Its really about being fortunate. The Chef certainly has just as much right to his 20 mil as all the other guys that cashed out. Again, its not about just talent or brains, its about luck.

webwright 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with earbitscom (commented a few times here), but I upvoted him because I think he's boiled it down to the important point. But for the people downvoting his "options are future compensation" argument, here's an interesting thought exercise:

Say you joined a young/really hot startup that was heading straight up. You negotiate a good options package, but it's lean-- they aren't super eager to part with these (obviously valuable) shares.

Then, the world explodes. The company gets sued, the market crashes, the users revolt. But the company manages to emerge from the carnage beaten-but-alive. It's no longer a sure thing. In fact, it looks risky as hell. But you believe in the vision and the management, so you want to stick it out.

You're 1.5 years in. New hires are getting packages that reflect the (newfound) risk in the stock. Your stock package looks small in comparison. Given the new information, would it be wrong to negotiate for more stock?

dasil003 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's laughable to think Pincus is worried about a "Google Chef" scenario. There will be no Google-anything scenario at Zynga.
ck2 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't have a problem with a startup janitor taking home $20M in a stock payout.

A rising tide should lift all boats, not the boats they specifically select with hindsight.

danbmil99 10 hours ago 1 reply      
All I can say is Ayer's restaurant serves really amazing food at an affordable price. So he's giving something back to the community. He's hiring people and building a business. Is he less of a contributor to Google's success than the worst programmer who made $20M on their IPO?

What I don't get is the zero-sum thinking here. They're worried that someone in their organization might get rich, and maybe they didn't deserve to get so rich. So what? They should worry about their company, not be squabbling over percentages.

Reminds me of the end of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." The prospect of real money seems to drive some people insane.

suprgeek 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What really stinks about "not creating a Google chef" scenario is the implicit belief that the chef should not become rich and should not be able to participate in the success of your company. Why the arrogance? If an employee (Chef, Janitor, Developer or CEO) played a part in the success, exactly why is it that they should not participate in the payoff
dylangs1030 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Just the fact that Ayers was stylized as a "Google chef" and not by his name is demoralizing. It just gets worse when they speak of his success as something a company should avoid if at all possible. It's manipulative to hire someone, offer them stock options, then decide they're not worth it later on. Just don't offer them in the first place!
andrewfelix 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Charlie didn't make $20M for cooking, he made $20M for taking the risk that the company he was joining would fail" This succinct sentence sums it up for me perfectly. His ability and contribution aside, a gamble was made and it paid off.
OoTheNigerian 8 hours ago 0 replies      
How about just keeping agreements?

Does it matter if the money allotted to the barber down the road becomes worth $100m?

If he kept his part of the deal, you should.

doki_pen 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
To argue that he deserved it is to cede the point. It was what he signed up for and google was right to respect that agreement.
OoTheNigerian 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This Zynga position is the reason why most Nigerian politicians have second wives.

A poor young man finds a woman wo will marry him a starter in life, poor with fair education.

20 years down the line after the woman has bore him kids, supported his career, this man becomes a Governor. Then aha! He realizes his mid aged wife is not really educated, not fit for the position of a first lady.

He does not want the situation of a high school educated first lady.

oacgnol 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Zynga and Groupon just seem to have shot themselves in the foot right before their IPOs for stupid reasons. It's a shame how greed and stupidity in leadership have negatively impacted the payout for the people who toiled to make the dream possible.
jackgavigan 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If these people were underperforming, then why didn't Pincus address the issue before now? Why do it now, when Zynga appears to be preparing to IPO?

This strikes me as pure greed. Pincus offered people shares as part of a package to persuade them to come work at his risky startup. He made a deal and now he wants to go back on it.

Say what you like about Bill Gates but he was perfectly comfortable with early Microsoft employees like Andrea Lewis growing rich from their share options.

PS: Lots of people talk about the greed on Wall Street but it strikes me that the prospect of riches is causing greed to rear its ugly head in the startup scene too. What's more, people seem to turn a blind eye to it if the perpetrator has been successful. It's disappointing and I think it bodes ill for the entire sector.

kaze 8 hours ago 0 replies      

There was a chef of similar capabilities at my first company. Ten years later, me and my ex-colleagues still rave about his food and the inspiration it gave us.

EVERY employee counts.

fauldsh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there no laws in the US protecting employees from this kind of scenario? Something like Unfair Dismissal in the UK.

As others have said, the first employees took the risk of working for a startup, any-one who joined later can't possibly deserve more because they "contributed more" because the company wouldn't exist without the original employees.

MaysonL 9 hours ago 1 reply      
At this point the only question worth asking about this situation is whether anybody on Zynga's board has the balls and integrity to tell Pincus to go fuck himself.
kschua 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone who joins a startup be it a chef or masseuse (Bonnie Brown) who take a risk by joining a startup deserves to be compensated accordingly if the startup succeeds. Just because they are not developers doesn't mean they didn't contribute to Google's success.

Glad that I am not alone in thinking that the "Google Chef" deserves what he gets.

Tichy 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Also the food comes up pretty high on the list of incentives for working at Google. Who knows how many talented people now work at Google because of their chefs.

Also consider opportunity cost. The chef could have opened a restaurant instead and perhaps also earn a lot of money that way.

rhizome 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ooh, I think thinking twice about the Google chef is to accept Zynga's "pray I don't alter your option plan any further," take on things, i.e. the argument's already lost.
JulianMiller520 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Couldn't agree more. I'd expect a comment/attitude like this from people on wall street but not in the world of tech. It's sad that they could even pervert the phrase "Google Chef" into something negative or something that should be avoided.
DodgyEggplant 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Conduit famously gave options to the cleaning ladies
smackfu 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the chef was hired at typical chef wages, or at "startup" chef wages?
petegrif 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If the Zynga story is as reported it is beyond despicable.
grandalf 9 hours ago 7 replies      
This is essentially a Trolley problem that people are getting quite indignant about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Here's an oversimplified example that mirrors the classic Trolley problem:

Suppose the company consists of three people: The founder, the engineer and the chef. The founder can't raise more money from investors and she realizes that if she fires the chef it'll free up 200K ISOs which can be used to recruit a sysadmin. Without a sysadmin the startup will fail. If the founder gives up her own shares, she loses control of the company to one of the investors, who she knows will sell the company to cash out immediately. If she stays in control, the founder aspires to grow the business to 20x its current size. Should the founder fire the chef?

What small detail would have to change in order to quell the ire of all of the people claiming that Pincus is acting unethically?

Scaling Erlang to run on machines with hundreds of thousands of cores erlang-solutions.com
34 points by adg001  1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
wmf 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
The description is a little confusing; they're talking about clusters, not really machines.
karterk 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Developer: “Losing Control of Our Destiny to Apple” macobserver.com
39 points by digiwizard  2 hours ago   8 comments top 4
raganwald 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Scenario A: “I want to buy VisiCalc/Aldus PageMaker/Microsoft Exchange/Photoshop. What's the best computer to buy for that?”

Scenario B: “I want to buy a Mac/PC. What's the best spreadsheet/word processor/email program to use on that?”

Prior to the rise of monetizable web applications, only Scenario A reflected a developer in control of their destiny. Scenario B represented a situation where the platform vendor was gradually "commoditizing their complements,” to borrow a phrase from Joel Spolsky.

The Web has created Scenario C, “I want to browse the web and use web applications.” The web business developer may be in control of their destiny. Then again, we may be looking at Scenario D: “I want to type ___ into Google on my cheap mobile device with its free operating system.”

idspispopd 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
It seems that developers are positive about the store, but feel that Apple could be doing more to help them suit their business model. I feel it's also a question of what developers expect the store to do to their business, at the moment it lets ordinary unsavvy consumers develop a trust relationship with a developer who they may have never had any interaction with. (Thus a great opportunity for the developer to market their other wares to the consumer.) Apple is passing on their seal of approval to all items available in the store. It's a Disney approach, but it's a significant barrier to many developers.

I feel that some of the perceived negatives are the result of counter intuitive thinking. For example, a general lower pricing is the result of competition amongst commodity applications. While unique apps can demand a higher price. This is good for consumers, but bad for developers who may have been relying on the status quo. This allows new developers to challenge the incumbent, and potentially unseat them.

There is the issue of the upcoming sandboxing, which while everyone understands why it's necessary, it still has many developers worried. I feel this is mostly for 2 reasons: Information from apple doesn't seem to be 100% defined leaving a question mark over some developers apps, and knowing that change is coming without the full details makes planning difficult. I suspect apple are mum on details because they're looking for more feedback from developers, I imagine that they too aren't interested in neutering the apps that are available on the store.

Many of the other concerns relate to backwards compatibility, something apple is known to be brutal with (often no more than 5 years of backwards compatibility) - this is the most realistic concern, although it's not unique to the app store. Mac os is constantly being revised sometimes introducing bugs or in the case of PPC apps, having support dropped entirely. This requires developers to stay on top of beta releases and conduct appropriate testing.

Overall, the app store leads developers to do a bit more work on maintaining their app. Of course this is in exchange for continual revenue from sales of that app. Which I feel is more tailored to career developers and not casual devs. For consumers this isn't entirely a bad thing, it promotes better apps, app refinement and makes the store not worthwhile for developers who are unwilling to deliver - leaving this ripe market available for those that want to deliver a good experience.

adabsurdo 39 minutes ago 2 replies      
personnally i find it quite amazing, and incredibly short-sighted, how developpers are willing to give up the freedom of the web in favor of the golden chains of the apple platform. because, make no mistake, this is where its going: in a few years nobody will want to try your stuff unless its an app, and the web will be a ghetto for porn and 4chan.

haven't we seen this movie before when microsoft controlled basically all of personal computing? at least on windows the user could install anything he wanted. now, not only developpers are at the mercy of apple's policies, but apple has decided to prevent any theoritical disruption from within by forbidding apps that host code (other than its own browser).

rumblestrut 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's a shame about this typo a little more than halfway through the article:

"TMO: That's right. The pubic face is, oh, yeah, there's no problem."

Our Pointless Pursuit Of Semantic Value smashingmagazine.com
45 points by deepakjois  2 hours ago   13 comments top 9
bretthopper 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Semantic markup is more than just accessibility for me. Even if it doesn't add semantic value to browsers, search engines, or screen readers, it's beneficial to me while developing.

It makes it more readable because you can quickly see the differences in elements instead of just seeing <div> everywhere. It also simplifies and cleans up CSS a bit as you can define more base element styles and then extend them with classes and IDs.

andybak 1 hour ago 1 reply      
God, yes. So much of what's repeated about the benefits of semantic markup are pie-in-the-sky.

The link to the IRC logs in that piece was fascinating. To see Mark Pilgrim - who was always at the pragmatic end of things when it came to the accessibility debate - recanting many of the positions he takes in 'Dive into Accessibility' tells you how little of the things that we've been promised for years have actually amounted to anything.

Don't believe anyone who tells you anything about markup best practice until they can point you to a shipping user-agent that will make use of it and introduce you to a living human being who will experience some tangible benefit.

nickand 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Semantic language has it's limits and rightfully so. The point of communication (sometimes) is to add something new. New things by definition have no pre-defined category. Therefore some content can only be described by inventing something. It's a moving target. I guess some attempt is a good thing like having a <title> tag, but it will never be perfect and if some day it is perfect then we are a dead species. I sincerely hope that most data continues to defy description.
icebraining 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
XML, RDFA, Dublin Core and other structured specifications have very solid use cases, but those use cases do not account for the majority of interactions on the Web.

Frankly, this couldn't be more wrong. Every website in that list has plenty of semantic structure that is lost in the HTML.

- Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Wordpress (not to mention HN) has plenty of structure that could be surfaced by SIOC[1].

- Wikipedia is the king - see DBpedia[2].

- Amazon (and to a lesser extent, eBay) are a perfect fit for Good Relations[3], which is already used by Very Big websites to provide value to customers.

The problem with this post is that reduces the Semantic Structure movement to HTML5. Yes, HTML5 semantic tags may not be worth it, but there's much more to the semantic web technologies than that.

[1]: http://sioc-project.org/
[2]: http://dbpedia.org/
[3]: http://www.heppnetz.de/projects/goodrelations/

damoncali 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Slanted and biased. I mean, just look at the author's name :)

Actually, I quite agree. The days of being able to make sense of web pages via markup are gone. It was a good goal once, but the effort has failed. Time to move on and find a better accessibility solution.

danso 1 hour ago 0 replies      
HTML5 is new enough that this has yet to be fully realized, but I'm hoping that the semantic labels help in getting content creators to think more non-linearly. For developers (and perhaps, print layout people), it's an accepted fact that the web is not just a sequential ordering of text with the occasional image. I suspect it's been harder for others to break away from that when all they see is divs.
AmazingBytecode 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
The fact that our current systems for giving semantic classifications to web content are insufficient does not mean that giving web content semantic meaning is a pointless idea.

It's like going back to the early 1980s and blogging about how computer graphics suck so you shouldn't be wasting your time looking into them.

xdissent 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anyone else think it's kinda funny the author's name is Divya?
mark_l_watson 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I have had RDF market on some of my sites for about 10 years, but was not happy with available notations until RDFa which I like.

I used to promote the idea of having parallel .rdf files, for example, index.rdf with the same base URL as index.html, etc. but with RDFa life is good enough. I still like my old idea however, but without this being a standard or at least a common practice it is not of much value.

Sonnet for Dennis Ritchie edmundjorgensen.com
50 points by tomheon  3 hours ago   6 comments top 6
diiq 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I clicked the link with my spine pre-cringed, ready for cheesy hacker poetry. Instead I found a lovingly crafted epitaph in stylish, uninterrupted verse. I immediately looked to see the other poetry. I was shocked that there were only two others posted --- I refuse to believe that someone who wrote this and The Little Bank of San Pietro dei Fiumi (also beautiful) has only written three poems. Post more, Mister Jorgensen!
p4bl0 1 hour ago 0 replies      
TIL that an english sonnet is not at all the same thing as a french one (I was confused at first, because in french a sonnet is a very strict form of poetry, which is not respected at all here). So thanks for that, and beautiful text, by the way :-).
danso 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wasn't sure if "Steve Jacks" was an admirer or some clueless middle manager at a newspaper meeting not wanting to talk about "C" because everyone is running "PCs" these days.

But here's his original letter:

michaelty 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Exists, what can it be but information?

Your ghost performs the world's computation."


brudgers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Spoken like a hacker, not a hack.
jszmajda 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very touching! Thanks for sharing.
Technologies often called part of HTML5 that aren't mozilla.org
67 points by asto  4 hours ago   21 comments top 8
mikeryan 21 minutes ago 1 reply      
We do a lot of rich internet apps which are heavy HTML/JS and get asked a lot "Are you using HTML5" and I'd go down this whole spiel about "well really we like the CSS3 features" and "a lot of what we do isn't HTML5 its just HTML4 and Javascript" or "Maybe we try to use local storage but have to fall back to standard cookies, and backend persistence for legacy browsers".

Eventually gave up and now when people ask if an app is "HTML5" I just say "yes".

melling 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
The rest of the world likes to keep things simple so we have this term HTML5 which means next generation web technology to most people, which is all they really have time for. They're running the world after all.

Geeks being who they are like to be pendantic and discuss the details ad nauseam. Gotta quit running into the weeds on the little things.

The terminology we're going to use is HTML5, and we understand it's a catch-all term. End of story. Next problem.

scdc 2 hours ago 3 replies      
So what if HTML5 doesn't technically include CSS3 and JavaScript. It's helpful to have a simple term for "the collection of web technologies that allow rich UI applications in browsers released ~2010." HTML5 fits the bill. Look at what the term "AJAX" did for AJAX, even if you weren't using XML.
cnxsoft 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If WebSockets are not part of HTML5 why are they under HTML5 at W3C http://dev.w3.org/html5/websockets/.

I've also attended Google DevFest recently, and they mentioned WebSockets as part of HTML5.

samarudge 3 hours ago 2 replies      
HTML5 seems to have become the term used for referring to the newer features in browsers. Is there a term that should be used to encompass HTML5, CSS3, Javascript (Websockets, history API etc.)?

Still I guess HTML5 is better than "Web 3.0" =/

johnnytee 3 hours ago 1 reply      
On this website http://www.w3.org/html/logo/ under technology and badge builder they seem to imply that some of these are part of it.
d0vs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
So is it any JS API that isn't manipulating an HTML(5) element?
Too 3 hours ago 1 reply      
They forgot SVG
How To Log Bash History to Syslog jablonskis.org
22 points by clyfe  2 hours ago   4 comments top
atesti 1 hour ago 2 replies      
What does history -a do?
Seems to write the history to disc and not produce something to pipe into logger.
How does this work?
Entrepreneur's Hierarchy of Needs appicurious.com
16 points by hristiank  1 hour ago   1 comment top
billpatrianakos 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
This made me feel special as an entrepreneur and it's an interesting, entertaining read, but ai must call bunk on this one.

Entrepreneurs are a special breed but we don't defy all the rules. We still need to go in order. We do sacrifice our health and living conditions at times but by choice. If you have the option to make a conscious decision to live on Ramen for a year then you've already gotten up the pyramid some ways. Those who are barely meeting this level of needs without choosing to are not entrepreneurs. They have a long way to go.

We don't sacrifice Safety without already achieving it too. First we secure employment and everything that comes with safety, then we become dissatisfied with the situation and, again, make a conscious decision to throw ourselves into the great unknown. We cannot make this choice without having achieved this level first.

These last 3 are tricky but the rules still apply to us. No one is an island and so if our personal relationships suffer during the course of starting our businesses that doesn't mean that this level comes at a different time for us, has a different importance or isn't necessary. First off, we have to have relationships first before they suffer. Secondly, we gain and absolutely need relationships with customers, prospects, vendors, partners, employees etc. this is a case where the hierarchy isn't flipped on its head but just takes on different terms.

Then self-esteem and self-actualization go in order as we need the rest in order to get there.

Sorry to be so long-winded but I just disagree with the premise that the hierarchy applies differently to entrepreneurs. It just doesn't. Nothing against the author, I could definitely understand his reasoning and think this is something young (young as in just beginning, not age) entrepreneurs could read and be inspired by and feel special.

I guess I'm just in one of those cynical moods today or something.

4th State of Water discovery.com
14 points by kingsidharth  1 hour ago   9 comments top 6
hugh3 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Just to clarify, this isn't a fourth state, this just seems to be a different liquid phase. Water has a hugely complicated phase diagram -- there's fifteen phases of water ice known experimentally and a few more predicted in theory.

I haven't been able to find the original paper (damn you discovery.com) so let me know if you find it.

listrophy 23 minutes ago 1 reply      
Is this just an addition to the already-known 15 types of ice? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice#Phases
gyom 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
From the looks of the article, it seems like it's meant for people who are interested in popular science, but then the author uses degrees Fahrenheit everywhere.
bediger 24 minutes ago 2 replies      
Looks like people have known about many phases of water for ages: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/phase.html

Oddly, it appears that Ice XIII and Ice X exist, but not Ice IX.

ajray 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
As someone who did computational modeling of water, this strikes me as kind of odd. The "hello world" of computational molecular dynamics is simulating water in different phases, phase changes, etc. (including the different ices). I'm interested to hear more, but incredulous.
jastanton 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
4th state of water is a slushi... good observation scientists. good observation.
Zynga to employees: Give back our stock or you'll be fired cnet.com
858 points by rbanffy  23 hours ago   350 comments top 77
mmaunder 23 hours ago  replies      
Sometimes you just have to sue to enforce a contract and your rights. Many employees either don't realize this or they don't have the stomach for it. If you find yourself in this position, my advice is to play the game and see it through.

1. Don't resign, don't capitulate and hire a good lawyer immediately. If you don't have the cashflow, but are defending a huge pile of stock about to IPO you'll probably find a lawyer that will defer payment.

2. Start documenting everything including making timestamped notes of what was said to you verbally.

Then play it out. Read all documentation the company has given you and fully understand it. They usually have to fire you for cause for you to lose your options, so figure out what the angle is they're using and make sure they don't have cause. Be 100% professional and non-confrontational, but ask the hard questions when you need to. DO NOT treat the company's staff (including your boss) or their legal team as your own legal counsel. They will try to give you "good advice" or intimidate you. They will claim things are "standard". Get your own info and use your own lawyer.

Often simply retaining counsel lets the opposing team know you're serious and professional, and worst case it will up any settlement.

PS: I'm an exec, not an employee, so technically I'm the guy on the other side of the org chart that Micah (see below) is describing. But assuming the report is accurate, this is unacceptable behavior and I'd like to see more employees who take a risk on startups getting what they deserve and enforcing their rights.

danilocampos 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Wait a minute.

What just a damn minute, here.

Are you telling me that a company that cheerfully built itself on shady shit like un-removable browser toolbars might continue screwing anyone it wants in the furtherance of its leaders' avarice?

I am shocked.

Look, it's endearing when people have scrappy stories about their origins. We all act out of desperate vigor when we're up against the wall and far from our goals. But there's a difference between being scrappy and being a swindler. Scrappiness transmutes into strength and informs your company's values. Swindling, on the other hand, is almost always forever, and informs values in a much more negative way.

A swindler will knife you at the first lucrative opportunity. Avoid them. Do not work with them or for them. They are Aesop's scorpion. Deal with honest men and women instead. Perhaps their purses are marginally smaller " but that's because they won't go rummaging through yours when your back is turned.

jacquesm 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Regret has never been a good enough reason in the eyes of a judge to annul a contract.

If Zynga agreed to the terms as described they haven't got a leg to stand on. The time to negotiate a contract is before it is signed, not retroactively. If they use the threat of termination then they will lose even more, not only will they not get their stock back, they will also have to pay excessive severance pay due to wrongful termination and they lose their best employees (those that have options).

Prior to an IPO you make sure you don't 'rock the boat' and you make sure that your management team is seen as competent and playing by the rules.

This is neither and I really wonder who is advising them to take these steps. They are hurting themselves in just about every way that I can think of, they look incompetent and sleazy, neither of which is the kind of company that you'd want to invest in.

The IPO cake should be large enough for everybody to share, there is absolutely no need for stupid tactics like these.

MicahWedemeyer 23 hours ago 1 reply      
In order to determine which employees would be asked to give stock back, Pincus and his executives tried to pinpoint workers whose contributions to Zynga--in the execs' eyes--didn't necessarily justify the potential cash windfall they could receive when the company went public

I'm going to take a wild stab here and guess that none of their own names were on the list they came up with.

Whenever crap like this happens, pull out an org chart. You'll pretty much be able to draw a straight line that divides who shits and who eats shit.

redthrowaway 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Never work for unethical people. If they lack ethics in their dealings with customers, they will inevitably lack ethics in their dealings with employees.

Zynga's product does not provide a worthwhile service, nor does it improve people's lives. It creates no value. Rather, it (cleverly and cynically) capitalizes on weaknesses of the human psyche to relieve people of their money, one dollar at a time. This is an inherently unethical position for a company to be in. As such, regardless of the compensation offered, any prospective employee of the company should ask themselves whether the ethical foundation such a company displays in relation to its customers will extend to employees.

A CEO who is comfortable fleecing customers will feel similarly comfortable fleecing employees. I learned this lesson the hard way in the trades, working for people who would jack up prices and sell material and services that the customer did not need. They would shirk responsibility for deficiencies, and usually try to do jobs for cash so as to avoid paying taxes. Invariably, this lack of professional ethics extended to myself and my coworkers. Cheques would be short, overtime would not be paid, and promises would not be kept.

The best indicator that an employer will rip you off is their willingness to rip off customers. When you see it, start lining up interviews immediately.

cheald 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really, really sleazy.

The bottom line here is "You don't get to be a part of the IPO windfall." Given that the employees that are getting stung like this have accepted the risk of working at a startup, and likely have accepted lower salaries in exchange for the promise of stock options, this is morally equivalent to theft of services.

Stock as a compensation structure only works when people use it in good faith. Scummy moves like this are only going to make it harder for startups to attract talent unless they can pay full market rate right out of the gate.

wavephorm 23 hours ago 3 replies      

  With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could 
attract more top talent with the promise of stock.

Not anymore they won't.

mtkd 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Stories like this reduce the value of stock for all companies who issue it - most with good intentions - and leave our community morally poorer.

So what if a chef in an early stage team made out with $20M later - an army marches on it's stomach - he probably contributed more to delivery than some of the management team at the time.

wpietri 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I am entirely in favor of this. Mainly because I'm four blocks away and am trying to hire engineers.

Seriously, it's bullshit. It makes me mad not just for the people getting screwed, but for the whole industry. The whole point of giving somebody early equity is that it's a gamble. Sometimes it's worth nothing; sometimes tons. If companies start doing it in a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose fashion, then that really reduces the value of the equity as an incentive.

Zynga isn't just hurting their employees; they're hurting every early-stage startup that comes after them.

saalweachter 23 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if any early Google employees begrudge Charlie (he's the "early Google chef", right?) his millions.

An army travels on its stomach. Google's chefs helped make Google the company it is today. Why is it so wrong that they be rewarded?

justin_vanw 19 hours ago 2 replies      
What if Pincus he had just fired them, with the reason being that they were not earning their compensation? It seems reasonable to fire someone if they are not pulling their weight? Giving them a choice seems unfair, but how is it worse than just being fired?

I think this is just Pincus being a nerd and over rationalizing the situation, instead of just decisively 'pulling the trigger'.

On the other hand, these people were given an offer of X% of the company in exchange for taking lots of risk early on. They took the risk, and now that the value of the company is greater, Pincus is taking the incentive back. So Pincus offloaded personal risk (paying lower salaries + stock instead of just paying market salaries) and then when the risk was gone he is canceling his agreement. I would never trust this man.

johngalt 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Zynga is aiming squarely at their feet and firing a cannon.

Would you invest in a company where management is obviously looking for a short term cashout at the expense of the future success of the company? The future success is precisely what the investor is buying. It's like buying a car while the seller is actively pulling parts out of it.

The results of this will be reduced share values combined with lawsuits eating up any potential gains.

api 23 hours ago 0 replies      
What a bunch of assholes. Seriously.
funkah 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Working for a startup (or hell, founding one) seems like an enterprise in which a person can get screwed 8 million different ways, and I only understand about four of them.
a5seo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I love that if a company implodes, the employees who took options over cash can't go back and say, "hey, I worked way harder and gave up way more than I should have, so I need to take some cash out of the founder's pocket," yet Pincus thinks it's perfectly OK to do the inverse... "Woa eh, you've made way more money than we thought, so we need to take some of your equity back."

I hope Pincus, and anything he touches, is dead to anyone with the slightest amount of common sense going forward.

It's like this guy can't help but be evil.

bitops 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I was given some advice recently by someone more senior than me: "in the Valley, equity nowadays is worthless. Show me the money!".

That's played itself out as true so many times it's basically become a rule. Equity means absolutely zero for most people - salary, vacation time, health benefits - these are now the selling points for companies in my eyes.

Stuff like this just proves that equity is way too unreliable unless you're a founder or exec. And Zynga runs a slave ship to boot.

tzs 23 hours ago 0 replies      
So a company whose business model is based on the notion of ripping off actual game companies is also unethical with its own employees? What a completely unshocking development.
lukejduncan 23 hours ago 1 reply      
"Although Zynga's decision might be met with some criticism, the firm's executives reportedly justified their strategy by saying it was best for the company. With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock."
typicalrunt 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Company stock is basically ownership, and there's a dollar value attached to it.

So is does Zynga's request run into the practice of extortion? It's another way of saying, give us your money or else something bad will happen.

cageface 23 hours ago  replies      
Is it just me or is tech particularly sleazy right now?
run4yourlives 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting to note that in Canada, this would fall under "constructive dismissal" and would mean that Zynga would be liable to pay the same severance as they would if they just decided to lay people off. Legally - 1 week's pay for every year of service, plus whatever the court thinks is fair.

Altering an existing contract and threatening to terminate said contract if the new terms aren't agreed to is a really assholish thing to do, to be honest.

If Zynga employees were smart, they'd band together and threaten to quit - immediately, with no notice - en masse. You need to negotiate from whatever positions of strength you can obtain.

Either way though the company has now been poisoned beyond repair... good luck attracting any top talent from this point forward.

exit 22 hours ago 2 replies      
developers should blacklist companies like this. sort of an informal union.

with the right personalities behind it we could do serious damage to the sleazy conniving wheeler-dealers who pull this shit.

benmathes 21 hours ago 0 replies      
ethically: equity compensation for a lower-than-market-rate salary is effectively an investment by the employee. They give up potential funds for equity. This includes unvested equity in the investment since, in the beginning, it's _all_ unvested.

If you take back some of that equity with no commensurate repayment, then fuck you.

gm 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Old news, see here for comments: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3218774
ojbyrne 22 hours ago 1 reply      
So I'm curious why they didn't follow the standard Valley way of dealing with this - issue enough new shares and grant them to everyone but the people on the "hit list."
timdellinger 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I know that no one ever gets credit for "I told you so", but last year I pegged the 4-year vesting schedule as risky, and wondered why we didn't see a lot more people being fired just to recapture their stock options: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1733107

To me the riskiest part is that you never know how a business is going to pivot, who might end up owning it, etc., so the idea that you'll still be working there in four years is in many ways kind of silly. It always seemed worthwhile to me to negotiate other incentive. Hopefully stories like this will help change the culture a bit so that other forms of incentive become the norm.

netcan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Zynga executives were especially concerned with not creating a "Google chef" scenario.

That reference relates to Google's 2004 IPO when one of the company's chefs, who was hired in the firm's early days, walked away with $20 million worth of stock after the shares went public.

This is something to take note of. You might be able to see the reality of a chance to make $X being worth a small fraction of X, but don't expect everyone else to see it after the fact. If you are relying on executives, judges or anyone else to see that you were compensated with a lottery ticket worth $1000 and lucked into $20m rather then that you were just somehow compensated $20m especially if they have an interest in seeing it the latter way, you need to take into account that they might not.

tzury 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This story brought up to memory the scam-ville post by arrington from 2 years ago http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/06/zynga-scamville-mark-pinkus...
unreal37 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one thing that is being overlooked is that the assumption is that these employees are "underperforming". And many ask, why not just fire them if they are.

I bet they are not underperforming in the "fire them" sense. I think the better word is "undeserving". The story quotes the Google Chef examples. I bet those early Googlers did not think the Chef was "underperforming", but clearly Pinkus thinks the chef is undeserving of $20 million from the Google IPO.

So some IT worker, who started early with the company, whose main job is to install new desktops, and fix the printers, and keep the network secure is "undeserving" of $20 million from the Zynga IPO, compared to the lead game designer who designed Cafe World, who Pinkus thinks IS deserving of the same amount.

It's more about thinking certain people (janitor, secretary, HR, finance, etc.) are not as valuable to the company as the lead developer or creative director or someone whose work is public facing.

And it is despicable.

muzz 21 hours ago 1 reply      
How did several employees have equity of more than 1% of the company??

Even in a heavily equity-based compensation package in an early stage startup, anything over 1% is usually reserved for VP-level if not C-level executives, as the entire employee pool is usually only 20-25%

Per WSJ: '"Some of these people were sitting on over $200 million and close to 1% of the company" when fully vested, said one person familiar with the list that was compiled.'


netcan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The outcome here may become a clarification of what vested shares means. If I'm not mistaken, vested shares evolved out of the practice of just giving shares to employees at the start in order to guarantee that they wouldn't just take the shares and run.

If this is deemed legal it will probably eventually become standard and vested shares will become negotiable. If this happens, what are vested shares anyway? What would be the difference between vested shares and just issuing shares (or options) periodically?

kamaal 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is probably one the hidden chess moves any start up can make once they've used you up like tissues(to use and throw). Of course once they have sufficient money and sales oriented CEO and senior executive staff, in the name of that's better for the company they can do anything they want.

This is one of the things that scares me about working at a start up. Remember the early employee is spending his time and compromising on his salary for that stock. And pretty obviously he works his heart out to make the company successful. Dumping them just like that, once you've squeezed the juice out of them seems a very unethical thing to me. And this is one of the things that actually prevents some good folks from working at a start up.

The worry that you will used like a work horse during the tough days of the company and then later dumped when the CEO sees a he can add another million to his account by dumping you is a major worry for any good person to work at a start up.

One thing that needs to be realized that not every body in the start up area is in for passion for software or changing the world thing. You have to be careful before deciding to work at some place. Doing a little back ground check on the founders will help.

Angostura 3 hours ago 0 replies      
From the article: "the firm's executives reportedly justified their strategy by saying it was best for the company. With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock."

The answer is simple then - the executive who originally miscalculated how much stock to give away should be the person who is penalised by having their options reduced to make up the shortfall.

You know ... for the good of the company.

tjcrowley 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I worked for Pincus at tribe.net when he was letting it circle the drain, The users petitioned me to create a subscription system to save the site and the first month it raised $30,000. Of course, that all disappeared and a short while later Zynga put out their first game. What do you think happened there? It's continually flabbergasted me that anyone would invest in his company when he has a long long history of ripping people off. Nowadays he's got multiple mansions, multiple private aircraft, and multiple high priced lawyers. Our only hope is that some of these Russian investors are actually mobsters that will kneecap him when the IPO flops.
ggchappell 22 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the paragraphs in this article is mysterious:

> The Journal cited two employees--one who has left Zynga and another that still works with the company--who hired attorneys to reach a settlement that saw them give up some, but not all, of the unvested shares.

Why would a former employee give up shares? Current employees were threatened with firing. But I don't see what hold Zynga has over this person. Why not just keep all the shares?

maeon3 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Get people to work like hell having given them stock options... Then take it away from all but the top 20% or face termination?

the manager who came up with that idea is no doubt getting a huge bonus.

fragsworth 23 hours ago 0 replies      
News like this damages the startup community, especially in game development. Lots of potential employees already have a sense that stock is "worthless paper" and this Zynga stunt just exacerbates the problem.

This could end up like what happened with Activision and the CoD guys.

Nelson69 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't there be other ways to pull this scam off? Perhaps less outwardly visible ways?

Assuming the board is on board with the plan, why not do some sort of stock dilution and re-issue preferred shares or something like that? Conventional wisdom would dictate that the last thing you want going in to an IPO or M and A is some goofy accounting on the books but the last few years make me think Goldman and company are really really good at deciphering that and more than accepting of the practices.

With all the things I've heard about game companies in general and then Zynga itself, it's a wonder that the game industry keeps moving forward. There is always fresh meat though.

To the Zynga folks... I don't know that you'll be able to lawyer up and fix it, I just don't think the laws will be on your side and there are too many loopholes. However, possibly building a coalition and contacting Communication Workers of America or something similar might make a larger impact, assuming you can build a coalition... Distasteful as I think it is, I think it might be your best option.

pavel_lishin 23 hours ago 0 replies      
> With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock.

What sort of top talent will have not read this story and decided that surely, THIS TIME, Zynga won't screw their employees?

prostoalex 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Important to note this applies only to unvested stock.

I'm not defending the move, but in reality the company could terminate the employees (at-will employment in California), which would terminate their further vesting anyways.

This is not the clawback scenario that Silver Lake executed with Skype.

thesz 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is so stupid it jusst hilarious.

So Zynga takes away shares from some people they considered top talent. It lets situation to became public. Then after all that moves it hopes to attract more top talent.

I cannot help myself laughing.

This really made my day. ;)

Timothee 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I know that employment is at-will in California, but you can still sue for wrongful termination in some cases.

Could this be happening in this case?

I read the beginning of this page (http://www.ca-employment-lawyers.com/Wrongful-Termination.ht...) and it seems to depend highly on the contracts and employee handbook that Zynga have.

In any case, you would think that this should make hiring talents more difficult…

byrneseyeview 19 hours ago 0 replies      

This is a very relevant alternative view. Money quote:

At Zynga, however, Mark Pincus apparently likes to do things a bit differently. Rather than simply firing under-performing employees and handing unvested options over to the replacement, Pincus often likes to find another position within Zynga where the employee might still be able to contribute. But because that new position was often lower down the corporate totem poll, Pincus basically wanted to cut the person's compensation by reducing his or her number of unvested options (vested options were not touched).

kls 22 hours ago 0 replies      
the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock

Not now, I would not take it, it would be an all cash deal for me after those shenanigans. Even if they don't go throw with it, they have shown their hand.

apu 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How much power/influence do a company's VCs have to prevent this sort of behavior? It seems like this reflects badly on all of Zynga's investors as well, most prominently Union Square Ventures, and I can't imagine that they would condone this kind of behavior.
noncents 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The thing that is not clear to me is why nobody has seen fit to call Fred Wilson out on this. For all of the "scruples beyond reproach" of what I think I know about Fred (and what I still hope to be true, despite this evidence), this one flies in the face of reasonable behavior. I doubt that something like this could (or should) be done so close to IPO that the board didn't know about it. I'm certain that Fred can't say anything today, due to the sensitivity of the timing, but that should not prevent people from asking the question - "where was the board in all this?".

Good God Fred, is this what a reasonably responsible company would do?

sdh 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe the employees of Zynga who weren't offered this deal should sue Zynga for too little compensation for the value they've created. The hammer should swing both ways.
NHQ 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Boss: Give me money or be fired.

Employee: Peace out sucka!


Bosses: How do we attract and keep top talent?

Karunamon 23 hours ago 0 replies      
How is this not extortion?
alexwolfe 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Bad experiences with stock options happen a lot in the tech world. I believe it's one reason that working for a startup doesn't have the allure it once had. Many are busting there butts and just collecting a paycheck because their shares have been diluted or rescinded. Starting early with a company now doesn't mean nearly as much.
drivingmenuts 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I just say: fuck everything about that?
sabat 22 hours ago 0 replies      
With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock.

Not if the new hires find out about this previous action, and realize that the company may very well demand the stock back.

quattrofan 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Seriosly do these execs realise what a bunch of utter douchebags they look like? I guess they don't care. Personally though I would think twice about going to work for them, whatever they offer apparently is worthless because they can change their mind and take it back off you again later.
apechai 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's give them a taste of their own medicine. They grew off exploiting the Facebook feed and twitter.

I started #boycottZynga on twitter. Please retweet. If we get the message out and convince people to stop playing before IPO, we can hurt their valuation.

Then they'll realize they can't just bully normal people.

VladRussian 16 hours ago 0 replies      
opening the next card the casino dealer sees that a person's bet is going to win a lot, so right before placing the card on the table the dealer asks security to remove the person until the person agrees to share the winning amount.
shareme 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Its called Mafia Wars for a reason..now we know the reason..capice
nodata 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Give back our stock? Interesting phrasing. It's their stock. Give back our stock. Phrased like the employees took something that wasn't rightfully theirs.
tghw 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"I have altered the deal, pray I don't alter it any further."


shad0wfax 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Pathetic. Very disappointed to see this. This is the cancer that sets the stage for other startups as well.

How is one supposed to decide which startup to work for and at what stage in the startup to join? I liked the 37Signals principles when and IF they ever go IPO/cash out. I think the VC community needs to push for such a clean and transparent model (Wishful thinking).

thegorgon 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is par for the course for Zynga who have made a successful company by stealing the lunches of creative companies and developers.

Don't be surprised when an evil company acts evil. Just don't work for evil companies.

benjaminRRR 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It is incredibly sad, and often repeated. Greed makes people do really short-sighted, horrible things. You can't take all that cash with you when you die, but you can leave a legacy. Do you really want to be known as the guy who wasn't happy with his lazy $1.8B and needed to squeeze the little guy to find a couple million dollars. People take a risk on startups, and we should be celebrating the "google chef" phenomenon. If the chef is walking away with 8 figures then things are going very well indeed.
utefan001 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Any lawyers care to explain the legal possibility of keeping the stock after being fired?
celticjames 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect that none of those employees were planning to stick around after the IPO anyway.It's sounds like a terrible place to work.
akeck 15 hours ago 1 reply      
We have two option clawback stories in six months or so. These actions erode the trust relationship between entrepreneurs and the technical talent on which they depend. The expectation that startups will honor the options they give to the talent they hire is part of the social contract of the community. Reneging on that expectation will make talent wary of taking on the immense risk of working for or founding startups.
Tichy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
"With the unvested shares, the executives believed they could attract more top talent with the promise of stock"

I suppose that would be "top programming talent" but not so much "top economics and common sense talent".

neckbeard 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Zynga's latest release is called Mafia Wars: Shakedown. Seems somewhat apt.
joe24pack 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Is Zynga's company motto "B.O.H.I.C.A." ? There is some potential rhyming there. Surely this could be turned into a lively limerick or a biting haiku.
sdizdar 19 hours ago 1 reply      
They can just fire non-performers with stock options? Correct?

Meaning you hire somebody and gave him/her a bunch of stock options, latter on you figure out he/she is not so good, so you fire. Simple.

Why this shenanigan?

Powells 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I heard a similar thing over at airbnb
adrianscott 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Somebody forgot to water their crops... For those of you asking about pre-purchasing your stock, you can exercise options prior to full vesting, but the stock is still subject to vesting, so you can lose them through termination etc., afaik...
JGailor 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a little surprised I haven't seen this on TechCrunch yet.
mzuvella 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Come work for ngmoco, we don't do that shit.
HiroshiSan 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like they've been reading into Steve Jobs' biography a little too much.
zerostar07 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone takes Mafia Wars too seriously in there...
dustineichler 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't there a way to buy your stock pre-vesting? I'm pretty sure there is.
samikc 23 hours ago 0 replies      
it shows how greedy people can be. i cannot think of anything like this can be done by a tech company. bunch of douche bag. how the hell are going to decide what contribution is important or which one is not? This is pure greed man... I am posting this in FB let Zynga games go to hell..
nickpinkston 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Scumbag Zynga?

Make money pressuring users to pay for virtual goods. Pressure employees to give stock for virtual jobs...

British Researchers Set Out to Build Charles Babbage's Steam Computer pcmag.com
11 points by adeelarshad82  1 hour ago   1 comment top
jgrahamc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That isn't the best article on the topic. John Markoff who actually interviewed me did two pieces. The first is a detailed article:


The second a wonderful annotated plan:


For people interested there's the official web site: http://plan28.org/ and I did a reddit IAmA on the project last year: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/dr6yk/im_the_guy_behin...

And if that's not enough. Listen to today's "World Update" from the BBC World Service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00lf05y I'm talking at about 38 minutes in.

How Steve Jobs acquired the mouse and GUI (video) extremetech.com
16 points by ukdm  2 hours ago   2 comments top
melling 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Wonder why the story for decades was that Apple stole it from Xerox then Microsoft stole it from Apple while developing for the Mac? For most of my life, that's the story people would say to me.
All Programming is Web Programming codinghorror.com
5 points by DanielRibeiro  10 minutes ago   discuss
BicaVM: A JVM in JavaScript github.com
44 points by arturventura  5 hours ago   13 comments top 5
robterrell 4 hours ago 2 replies      
A few years ago I found the Orto javascript runtime impressive. Seems more complete than BicaVM.


Edit: Seems to be missing from the web. I'm pushing my local copy to github:


struppi 5 hours ago 1 reply      
_delirium 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if JVM bytecode would be a viable alternative intermediate language for compilation-to-javascript, as compared to the LLVM IR that projects like Emscripten use.
king_magic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It's technically impressive, but I cannot see any real world application. A native Java runtime is heavily, heavily optimized for performance. Why would you run Java code through an interpreted/JITed JavaScript environment?

However - I can appreciate the technical challenge :)

yatsyk 5 hours ago 0 replies      
applets 2.0 :)
Results of a Controlled Trial of Resveratrol in Humans corante.com
17 points by mhb  3 hours ago   5 comments top
Udo 2 hours ago 1 reply      
While this study shows that resveratrol does indeed have a measurable impact in decreasing metabolic rate (= thereby slowing some degenerative processes), I find it even more interesting to read about the other effects.

First, and rather obviously, a decreased metabolic rate and less lipolysis of adipose tissue means that this should not be taken by people who are obese (like me) because it makes weight loss even more difficult. While the other effects on the body may paper over the horrid consequences of obesity, the underlying cause will get even worse if you take this stuff.

Second, it's impressive that we now seem to have actual evidence of resveratrol decreasing blood sugar levels, inflammation markers, and blood pressure. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

The Jasmine Standalone Test Runner: A Free Screencast watchmecode.net
18 points by derickbailey  3 hours ago   2 comments top
jcapote 45 minutes ago 1 reply      
Stay away from Jasmine, just invest the time and go with qunit instead, you'll be much happier.
Open64 Compiler Version 5.0 released open64.net
7 points by rbanffy  1 hour ago   4 comments top 3
codedivine 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
To those new to Open64, it is a high-quality compiler, with some good internal design and good optimization phases. SGI's former compiler team was highly respected within the compiler community.

It is unfortunate that it is not more well-known. However, it is used by a lot of compiler research groups to prototype new ideas.

jason_slack 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Indeed, does it do more than C?

C++? Objective-C? Inline Assembler?

Does it work with XCode instead of GCC or LLVM?

Can I compile an OS X app from the command-line and avoid XCode all together. use GDB to debug.

I dont know the answer to any of these and When I visit Intel, they answer all of these which makes me interested in spending money for them when maybe Open64 is a better project that I can contribute to and donate to versus big corporate Intel...

Confusion 43 minutes ago 1 reply      
Strange: neither http://www.open64.net/ nor the main page of wiki.open64.net mentions anywhere that it's a C compiler (at least, that's what I infer; it's not mentioned explicitly as far as I see)
Steam loses user database icrontic.com
352 points by taylorbuley  18 hours ago   160 comments top 28
danilocampos 17 hours ago  replies      
I admire the absolute hell out of Valve and have for a long time. Gabe Newell is, for my money, the biggest mensch in tech. Let's take a moment and look at how this was handled:

The message communicates exactly what happened in clear terms that don't try to cover anyone's ass. They explain which data was compromised and the potential implications. No double-talk. This could be an email you got from a friend or colleague.

The message conveys Valve's hope that the credit cards are secure but makes clear that users should be nonetheless vigilant about watching for suspicious activity. Just in case.

The message is signed by the head honcho of the company. Not some communications or PR weasel. It's in your inbox, not on some obscure blog.

Finally, it closes with:

"I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience."

Accepting responsibility, acknowledging that it's a fuckup, and showing some empathy for the fact that this completely sucks for their customers.

Sony, Adobe and their ilk could learn a lot from this company.

callmevlad 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The title seems to be very misleading. There is a big difference between losing a user database (all user info gone, no backups, can't log in, etc) and database information being compromised (information leaked, fraudulent activity, etc).
theDoug 18 hours ago 11 replies      
I'm a Steam user, Steam forums user, and Valve customer and have received no email or notification. This story may not be as all-encompassing as it appears.
tuacker 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that as far as I know Steam Guard is active for any user who didn't disable it. Meaning, if someone tries to log in to your Steam account on a device that isn't yours (both via the client and on the website) he'll get a prompt to enter a 4 char long code which is sent to your authorized email address.

So your Steam account is save. Your email address probably isn't a secret anyway. The password is changed in a second.

Which leaves your payment (encrypted) and billing info. Personally I use Click&Buy which requires a separate authorization from me and I'm actually not sure if I have any billing address associated with Steam. So for me this whole thing is just a minor annoyance in changing my password.

Obviously I might treat the obtained user data different from other people.

cheald 17 hours ago 2 replies      
> "While there is no evidence that passwords and credit card information have been compromised, with the state of encryption cracking, it should only be a matter of time (and horsepower)."

Um. What? Assuming that a PCI-compliant level of encryption was used, "matter of time" is "heat death of the universe" if you don't have the encryption keys.

onosendai 17 hours ago 4 replies      
For the last 7 years or so of making payments online I've had an iron clad rule which I have yet to break: only use one time credit card numbers with a low spending limit which are provided on demand by my bank. It's a service tailored specifically for working around the problem of having your CC details stored indefinitely on poorly secured databases of every two-bit company out there.

And with each major (and minor) data breach I'm more happy I use it.

jamesgeck0 1 hour ago 0 replies      
One nice thing about the Steam client software (and store website) is that it uses two factor authentication. The first time you log in on an unfamiliar machine, you have to input a code which is emailed to you.

Even if your Steam client and forum passwords were the same, your client account still secure as long as your email password is different.

tjoff 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I get the impression that credit card information is stored in the same database as login information etc.


My first thought is that it should be stored on, and never leave, a completely separate system where you have a very limited number of interactions available (reducing the attack vector and making it much easier to spot suspicious activity).

I.e. Charge customer x with y for game z. Refund customer for purchase i (only valid within the refund-period). Add(overwrite)/delete customer data. Where all interactions must be signed.

And nothing more.

Anything less than that and I'm skeptical as to whether you could be considered careful of you customers data. Storing credit card information in the same database as all other user data for a service like steam should be a crime and if it's closely coupled with the forum it's even worse (not that I know if that's the case).

Disclaimer: I don't know any details about this incident more than that Valve seems to be open about it taking place (great!).

Margh 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks that "Steam loses user database" isn't quite the same as "Steam database of salted data compromised"?

For a moment there I thought all my Steam purchases were, you know, lost.

starnix17 18 hours ago 0 replies      
At least they're honest about it, compare this to the PS3 compromise.
dvdhsu 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I've spent the last half hour trying to find my billing information on the Steam site. I just can't find it.

It's great that Steam is letting me know that their database has been hacked. It's not so great when I can't even see if my billing information or credit card number (I obviously only want the last four digits) that Steam currently has on file for me. If I knew which credit card I had used with Steam, I could probably watch out for fraudulent charges. As it stands, there is no way for me to figure out what information I've given to Steam in the past.


defen 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Just yesterday I received a notification from Facebook that my account had been accessed from a suspicious location and was locked as a security precaution. I had no idea how this could have happened, but I did have the same email address + password for Steam and Facebook. Hardly proof, but certainly a plausible theory.
jcapote 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Confirmed by Gabe here: http://au.pc.ign.com/articles/121/1212201p1.html

All passwords are salted and hashed (hope they are using bcrypt), and all CC's are encrypted.

EDIT: updated comment to clarify what I meant with the bcrypt

Hrundi 16 hours ago 3 replies      
How could they get to the [salted|hashed|whatever] payment data from hacking the forum? Why is the payment data even remotely linked to the forum software?

Ok, the forum may need data from the account for validation, display name or else. You can still implement it securely.
This is a big human oversight over what seems to be an insecure implementation. I just can't believe this.

I would have guessed they learned the lesson from when Gabe was hacked through an Outlook vulnerability (with the HL2 code leak afterwards). It should have made a paranoid out of him.

I think having chosen Paypal as a payment method was perhaps helpful for me.

PS: I do own a lot of games and I very much like the platform. I definitely don't have anything against them. They presented a good notice, their high level of responsibility over this incident is irrefutable.
Also, props for them for having an encryption for their preloaded games that wasn't broken so far.

edit: formatting

estel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd find it reassuring in times like this if company's could post details of how securely they hash and salt user passwords. It'd be good to know...
brunnsbe 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It wluld be interesting to find out how they noticed that someone had stole the data. I guess there must be lot of aggacks that don't get caught.
elliottcarlson 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login."

I am assuming here that this means certain passwords were cracked at that point - does this mean that the nonce/salt in their password storage was discovered? And how long until they have a cracked user/password file?

jccodez 13 hours ago 0 replies      
You are loosely using the term lose. I lose things when I can no longer find them.
giulivo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It wouldn't have been a big issue, but they should have never ever save the credit card informations on a db. I don't know what makes people so confident they can save others credit card on a db.

I would rather prefer to repost the needed details for every purchase.

orblivion 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Wait, why would I change my Gmail password?
shocks 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a Steam user, I did not receive an email.

If you are a Steam user I would recommend using the two-step verification process they have. It uses a password sent to your email to verify you when logging in using a new computer. Hopefully you're Steam and associated email passwords are not the same.

This is, of course, no replacement to changing your password - you should definitely do that - but allows us to relax a bit in case something similar happens again.

machinespit 17 hours ago 0 replies      
no email, but the forum page shows the message: http://forums.steampowered.com
ktusznio 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I am finding it pretty difficult to change my Steam password. Where the hell do you do it?
dabit 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Wait, how do you change your Steam password?
Aqwis 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I have not received a mail.
primesuspect 18 hours ago 1 reply      
And suddenly it's a bad day at Valve :(
xyzzyz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I am gay.
Karunamon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
:( Very sad.. but I suppose it was just a matter of time. At least the CC and passwords were protected correctly.
Researchers show how to break quantum cryptography arstechnica.com
20 points by llambda  3 hours ago   11 comments top 4
beloch 2 hours ago 2 replies      
That's a completely misleading article. They haven't "broken quantum cryptography", nor have they claimed to. Yet again, journalists have mislead the public by claiming overly dramatic things that aren't true in order to sell copy.

Quantum cryptography is completely and fundamentally secure in theory. However, real world devices don't behave quite like their theoretical counterparts, and this can create flaws in real world systems. The idiot journalist did get at least that much right.

A big part of research in quantum crypto these days is finding holes in real-world implementations so that we can build future systems without those holes. Kurtsiefer's group had done just that. He hasn't broken quantum cryptography, he's helped make the real-world implementations of tomorrow more secure. This evolutionary improvement of a technology in its infancy has happened again and again, and idiot journalists insist on reporting that "QUANTUM CRYPTO HAS BEEN BROKEN" every bloody time.

Now, for those of you wondering what good QC is if we can't trust real world implementations, here's the gist of why, even though we'll probably never finish making them better, they're still worth using.

If you send a message via conventional factoring based crypto, like RSA, that message must be viewed as being made public with an undefined delay. Even without quantum computing on the horizon, decryption algorithms are improving at a steady pace and making it possible to crack messages encoded in this way.

For example, look at crypto algorithms like DES that, ten years ago, people thought would take thousands of years to crack given Moore's law growing computational resources. Wide freakin' open now, thanks to improved cracking algorithms. Any message sent via classical channels can be copied without your knowledge, so any message you sent via DES ten years ago could be decrypted and in anyone's hands without your knowledge. The same thing is true of anything you send via public key encryption today. Fortunately for most of us, the information we usually send is only sensitive for a limited period of time. Who cares if your credit card number is decoded in ten years? You'll have a new one.

Anyone with long-term sensitive transmissions to make has to look at other methods of encryption. That's why quantum crypto has early adopters. Now, say a hole is found in one of these early adopters systems. Are they screwed? Is the cat out of the bag? No. Thanks to how quantum cryptography works, there is no possible copy of the transmission that could be cracked with technology developed later in time, as is the case with public key encryption. Attacks on quantum systems have to work at the time the message is sent. If a flaw in the system was not known and an eavesdropper not present and taking advantage of it at the time a message was sent, it will be secure for all time. That's the difference. Public key encryption is secure for a while. Quantum encryption is secure for all time.

Egregore 2 hours ago 2 replies      
When I developed a RSA based application I was worried about quantum computers breaking it (which proved false, I should had worried more about marketing). Now it seems that there is a flaw in quantum cryptography itself, which actually is not a cryptography in classical meaning, but rather a way of securely transmitting data.
asharp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, i'd like to see what physics hacks they end up using to patch this.
X4 2 hours ago 1 reply      
You can say it even louder, but I fear people won't hear.
I heard it almost a half year ago, but the real news that Quantum Cryptography "can" be broken is a lot older.

Adding more randomness doesn't add more security, but just another shadow layer.

We know SSL and TLS are broken as well as the Certificate Authorities have been invaded long time ago, even if most people don't accept the truth yet.

Could happen in your Startup too:

a: Let's use SSL!

b: Why?

a: Because people trust us more then.

b: Isn't that a lie? I mean SSL isn't secure.

a: But it works! People believe it, when we believe it.

"c: Live in your Dreamworld, until it collapses! :( Sad."

RSA/DSA/MD5 and other hashing and encryption algorithms are broken or unreliable. We know that increasing the time needed to crack something doesn't make it more secure, but obscures security and reliance on that technology.

You still see large scale websites getting hacked, just because of stupid code injections or exploits. The experience is even worse in the crypto side, you'd cry, if you knew how bad the situation actually is.

One thought. Develop your own, if you can. But that puts you into the radar of Curious Goverments.

Shapecatcher - draw the unicode character you want shapecatcher.com
172 points by ChrisArchitect  15 hours ago   59 comments top 28
cypherpunks01 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Similar visual search for LaTeX characters: http://detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html
nhebb 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought it said "unicorn". I was dismayed to find that my beautiful, refrigerator-worthy rendering of a unicorn was interpreted as a few Arabic characters, some arrows, and a domino tile.
potatolicious 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who tried "ಠ" and couldn't get it to work no matter what?
atldev 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Great concept, but 1 for 5 in recognition. Matched dollar sign. No euro, no pound, no ampersand, no pi? Maybe I'm a horrible artist, but 49 suggestions (some that look like pi) and no pi?
llimllib 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried really to get the thumbs up character, but no luck: http://i.imgur.com/YoWFh.jpg

Handy tool anyway :)

erikpukinskis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was recently searching for a unicode Thumbs Up, and came up empty handed (there is none). So I drew one in this thing, and got some useful approximations at least:

ຢ ථ

I also came across this one, describe as "weary cat face":


Seriously, Unicode? You've got "weary cat face", but no thumbs up? I am disappoint.

snorkel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Would be useful to see a section of neighboring glyphs in the area of a selected glyph (I want to find the spade suit and see some other suit glyphs too)
ghc 14 hours ago 6 replies      
Apparently it can't do chinese or Japanese characters.
ilamparithi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great. Tried some Tamil characters. It was able to recognize most of them.
hsmyers 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed that the second attempt had more accuracy than the first since I was able to see a similar character (white rook) and then modify my crude drawing to eliminate extra information that was adding white noise to the search. Nice work!
prototypef 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I can't, for the life of me, draw and get it to recognize "ñ"
VMG 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It is astonishing how many types of vertical dashes there are.
yumraj 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Great stuff, unfortunately it doesn't catch my Devnagri letters.
msmith 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Did not recognize my unicode snowman, but it got pretty close: Ṏ " "
hernan7 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Couldn't get it to recognize the "look of disapproval" character :-(
mixmastamyk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Just used it tonight... encountered a letter psi " in a recaptcha form and it helped me find it. ;)
dbbo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I tried some astronomical symbols, like ♃, but they don't seem to be supported yet.
josscrowcroft 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cool! I'd love to look into using the recognising algo in a rewrite of motion captcha. Similar concept.

Great site.

chromedude 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is top notch. Any chance you would make this so that you could embed it in another website - maybe for a cost/month? because I can think of some sites right now that could really use this.
xenophanes 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I tried drawing a lowercase 'a' twice, and it couldn't find it.
codezero 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm drawing some seriously inappropriate things, and this site does not disappoint.
ricardobeat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Touch support would be nice to have.
NanoWar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
⚛ Jimmy Neutron! ⚛
Archio 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a genius name. Sounds catchy, but still nails what the product actually does.
DavidTO1 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked! Wow, quite an amazing product. How long did it take you to develop?
airlocksoftware 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice! It caught my terrible rendition of the interrobang.
lubujackson 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing.
Is Moore's Party Over? acm.org
34 points by gmodena  6 hours ago   13 comments top 3
jonnathanson 3 hours ago 3 replies      
If we look at Moore's Law as it was originally stated, i.e., w/r/t transistor density on chips, then yes, it is up against a serious obstacle in the near future. That obstacle is quantum physics. Below a certain nanometer count, you're working at truly atomic scale, and Heisenberg effects start to kick in.

Quantum computing may solve this issue, but realistically, probably not at a pace quick enough to keep Moore's Law operating on track the way it has been historically. More likely, we'll hit a plateau for awhile and eventually shatter it. When that happens, computers will be very different machines from what they are now. The shift from transistor-based computers to quantum computers will be akin to the shift from vacuum tubes to transistors.

In the meantime, we're probably just going to load up and more and more parallel processors.

marcf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It is a constant theme to say that Moore's party is over. But there are massive $$ incentives to maintain it and it is likely to continue in some form or another -- either in terms of power consumption, multiple cores, specialized instructions, etc.

I figure that chips will become much more 3D, almost like cubes, instead of flat rectangles, with just enough freespace to allow for cooling of one sort or another.

Graphene and other substrates that allow for faster chips at cooler temperatures is also a good bet for future chip improvements.

Egregore 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think we can just add the energy consumption to the Moor law and it will continue to be true for some time.
IFling: UCSD's Latest Ball-Flinging Robot Is 100% More Flingy ieee.org
7 points by eguizzo  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
timmaah 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
The ball pickup is ingenious, but I'm not sure about 100% more flingy. The one shot they showed of it actually tossing the ping pong ball went straight into the ground a foot in front of the bot.
leeoniya 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
2011-11-12 - Apple issues cease and desist notice to UCSD
The Real Pirates Of Silicon Valley? techcrunch.com
64 points by nickfrost  10 hours ago   23 comments top 7
Swizec 7 hours ago 4 replies      
As a foreigner wanting to come to Silicon Valley some day I feel this ship doesn't solve any of my problems.

There is no need for physical proximity, at least not in the slave kind as is offered here, the only reason I want to physically move to the US is the ability to get off my computer at any time and meet cool people for coffee or whatever.

Being stuck on a ship solves that problem no better than being on a different continent.

rmc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The sea platform was its own country called Sealand, with its own passports, currency, etc

That's a bit of a stretch. Sealand never really was any sort of internationally recognised country that seriously printed its own money or anything that serious.

kokey 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As a foreigner outside of the US, I like this idea. There are many of us who are already strong earners but don't have anywhere near the million dollars required for an entrepreneur visa. In other words we probably can afford to sustain a nice ship. Getting a visa to visit the US is pretty easy, and staying on the US mainland and attending meetings, conferences, etc. are practical. We're just not allowed to work there.
EponymousCoward 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Charles Symoni (sp, I know) used to float the Intentional Programming team around on his yacht for weeks at a time. I think it was mainly to increase productivity though.
buro9 7 hours ago 3 replies      
If a person has trouble getting a US work visa, wouldn't that person also have trouble freely travelling in and out of the USA?

In which case, how do they get to the seastead? It seems that they would need a ferry, but does that ferry port have passport facilities and act as an international port? And if you're on the seastead for a long period of time and US access required a visa, how do you now renew that visa seeing that you couldn't land in the US without it and there is no US Embassy on the seastead?

Or more plainly... what problem is this solving for whom? It doesn't seem to solve the problem for anyone who is unable to get into the USA without a visa.

pellias 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Will this work ? As mentioned, its in international waters outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Any gangster or real pirates can just board their ship and wreak havoc ?

They'll need security staff to protect the ship then ?

sskates 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this can also act as a signal to the federal government about how costly the lack of immigration reform is. I certainly hope we see a real solution sooner rather than later.
Vertical vs. grid product listings - a surprising AB test westiseast.co.uk
118 points by westiseast  14 hours ago   53 comments top 21
guynamedloren 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The author made one glaring mistake: basing "performance" on click through rates. What really matters on an ecommerce site is revenue.

So which format resulted in a higher revenue? You'd be silly to make the assumption that greater click through = greater revenue.

peng 8 hours ago 4 replies      
If you're going to A/B test something, you need to reduce the variables down to one. For all you know, the supposedly 'pretty' framing and box-shadow you added to the grid layout may actually be what's causing customers to prefer the flat list.

Testing multiple variables in a given trial makes it impossible to discover which change (or combination thereof) actually improved the conversion rate.

dfischer 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I assumed list would do better.

There's basic underlying usability rules that permeate through everything.

The human eye scans like an F.

It's almost the golden rule of design. Always build your layouts in an F structure for the most important items.

A list design goes hand in hand with complimenting the F average.

dagw 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd imagine this depends a lot on what you are displaying. In this case there is no significant visual difference between the products, and you have to read the text to find out what it actually is. Then I can see having the text in a list would be more natural.

In cases where there is enough visual difference between the products so that they can be distinguished between without any text, then I think a grid is probably a better layout since you can compare more products at a time. So while the results are certainly interesting, I don't think I would try to generalize them too far.

ot 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The ranking may have also a role in this: ranking on a grid is usually presented left-to-right top-to-bottom, but that's not the order the eye scans (while in a vertical layout the top-to-bottom order is natural).

This paper from Yahoo Research contains an interesting analysis of the problem:

Optimizing Two-Dimensional Search Results Presentation


stickfigure 13 hours ago 1 reply      
one of these listing styles performed 15% better than the other in generating clicks on actual products. One of them results in 40% click through, while the other one generates only a quarter

That isn't 15% better. That's a 60% increase in click-through rate. That's massive.

We had already planned to remove a grid display from our app and replace it with a linear flow, but this seals the deal. Thanks!

thomasgerbe 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it depends.

I'm used to looking at very visual samples in a grid format because it allows for more large images to be shown in a row. Things like furniture, clothing, templates... For things that require some text descriptions (such as tech specs), I think a list view is superior.

TimH 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a bit hard to assess the significance of this. Sample size isn't even given. 40 people went through this test, or 4 million?
andrewfelix 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Can someone let the guys over at The Verge(http://www.theverge.com/) know? That layout is driving me nuts. Which is a shame because they have some talented writers.
teye 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Not surprising at all. Conventional layout wisdom says give the eye a clear path in a direction it knows.

A multi-dimensional grid takes you in a Z shape, whereas a vertical lineup's images and text are all aligned and easier to distinguish.

stoodder 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Have you A/B tested the retention rate of those users? I'd be interested in seeing if you kept more users with the prettier layout.
cycojesus 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Color me unsurprised. The grid calls for bi-dimensional navigation while the list is mono-dimensional, less brain cycles burnt to go through it.
epo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Testimonial here, bought teas from Chris earlier this year, the products and the service are both very good indeed.

If your experience of Chinese tea is getting a pot of Jasmine in a restaurant, try these, it will be a revelation.

scrrr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, Amazon uses the list-view in their search results. Never noticed this but now I assume that if they do it then it's been tested and deemed better.
robryan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting, I was considering moving to a grid. I think with the test conducted here, the images in the vertical listing are a bit bigger than those in the grid. Would be interesting to test the grid vs a more compact product listing.

All a function of how many products you have really, ideally your sending people to pages that are focused enough that they don't need to trawl through many products.

Detrus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The test doesn't control for all the variables to make the conclusion that verticals are better than grids. The grid elements having borders and shadows may hurt it. Hard to tell but pics in the grid look smaller than in vertical. The spacing between elements in grid is tighter than between elements in vertical.

I'd still expect vertical to do better even if the grid was equally well executed, but reality beats expectations.

latchkey 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great, I've been having a debate with a friend about this for a while now. This settles it (in my favor).
deepkut 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Are there any other studies on this?
mattking 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This also has to do with the audience. Just because an A/B test measured results on a listing of tea products doesn't mean much. Consider how Amazon displays their product: http://i.mking.me/3t3e2E3z2G1Y1X0T2633 I can imagine Amazon has ton a bit of A/B testing...
seddona 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice insight Chris, hope things are going well in China!
JustinLeung 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is part of the reason why people use Tumblr over Pintrest.
       cached 11 November 2011 17:02:01 GMT