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Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work igda.org
53 points by kamaal  3 hours ago   34 comments top 13
btilly 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It should be noted that what is needed for assembly line productivity is different than what is needed for complex cognitive tasks. The more demanding the cognitive task, the more important sleep and relaxation are. That is why in Steve McConnell's classic Rapid Development he advocates a 35 hour week.

And the real limit for a lot of people may be less. For instance read http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/05/18/kalzumeus-podcast-ep-2-w... to find out that patio11 thinks that he can only be productive 2-4 hours per day. This is a man who started a business on the side while working the insane hours of a Japanese salaryman. It isn't that he can't put in the hours, it is what he can do and be productive.

Greatly complicating all of this is are two simple facts. The first is that we can push ourselves and be productive for a short period, so over a couple of weeks we really can work insane hours and be productive. The second is that we have coping mechanisms to hide our own inability from us - so as our ability to function disappears down the drain, it is very hard for us to judge how impaired we are.

To that end, there was an interesting piece of research that I read about many years ago. The military was conducting research on sleep deprivation. One of their findings was that soldiers can be trained to operate on 6 hours of sleep, and will self-report that that they are functioning well and getting more done than they could if they slept longer. However the wives of those soldiers disagreed. And when ability to perform was judged on standard ability tests, the wives were right.

If you, personally, work long hours and consistently get little sleep, there is some food for thought. Could you be getting more done if you took care of yourself and put in more reasonable hours?

pg 52 minutes ago 5 replies      
I wonder if one thing that distinguishes successful startup founders is that they are immune to some force that limits the amount of productive work that other people can do.

Of course everyone has a point where working another hour is not a good deal. But if that varies from person to person as much as other things do, it would be very convenient for a startup founder to be a couple standard deviations above the mean.

nostrademons 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The experiments cited in this paper are largely from the manufacturing age, where workers were doing largely mindless work on an assembly line. I'd imagine that for today's highly-trained, heavily knowledge-oriented creative class, the optimum workweek is roughly 25-30 hours. That seems to square with the amount of actual productive coding time I got when working on my startup, with the data RescueTime got on actual coding time for their YC class, and with conversations I've had with friends in Ph.D programs.

It's probably possible to squeeze another couple hours of mindless work in there (eg. checking e-mail, triaging bugs, meetings) to round out an 8-hour day. But if you're interested in getting the maximum coding output on hard, creative programming problems, 40 hours is way too much.

kamaal 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Productivity has various shades and maximizing productivity of a corporate slave is difficult.

What I have observed is people sprint only under to two situations- first when a lion is behind them or when they are chasing a gold treasure. Expecting people to sprint all the time doing work as normal without any gains or losses doesn't get winners in any situations.

In my experience my work day is generally divided into three sets of tasks. Periods which I spend firefighting, providing support to some urgent issue, providing information, routine chores, fixing bugs, adding features. The most productive periods of my work involve doing new stuff. The most unproductive and boring stuff involves manual testing, writing test cases and documentation.

So if you see it- money, fear of getting fired and interesting work form the biggest motivating factors in my daily productivity efforts. I never understood CEO/VP/Manager BS talk of expecting people to remain ridiculously productive regardless of rewards and quality of work. Especially when they themselves don't follow that advice. No manager/CEO/VP I've every met wants to work in a non growth area of work. They never want to touch anything that is not rewarding to their very own careers. Yet they expect their reports to the very thing they would never do.

Other wise personal productivity wise, my day breaks up into three parts 8:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00, 20:00-00:00. I skip the last part sometimes. Another thing that I've learned about productivity is to know how to tackle inevitable distraction. How not to get overwhelmed by tasks at hand, How to use GTD efficiently and learn to work from one session to another.

carsongross 2 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that, after all the productivity gains in the last century, we are still worried about maximizing output, all while putting two adults to work in each household.
BadassFractal 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's depressing that this still has to be discussed. Folks, if you're marketable, please don't reward companies with your employment if they continuously death march you.

Never seen a single hour of that extra time either paid back or returned to you? Time to go. However it will require everybody to do their part to defeat the system.

critium 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In my manager past, the times i've asked for crunch mode are few and far in between, and I always put a carrot at the end, depending on the severity of the crunch. Anywhere from a nice lunch at a fancy restaurant, to a few days off. I've even dangled a team building movie matinee. I've never found cash to be a real big motivator.

My 2 simple rules for crunch mode:

1. Manager better be there. Me personally, i would dive in and actually start doing code reviews. But even if I had absolutely nothing to add, I had to be there to show support. Even for window dressing. You call for crunch mode, you better be present. Even if its just to buy lunch or starbucks for the devs.

2. Coding is like breathing. Crunch mode inhale must be followed by re-tooling, decompressing exhale. You can only inhale so much.

drewinglis 1 hour ago 2 replies      
When you work more than 40 hours per week, you're borrowing time from your future self. However, the interest rates are very high, and so usually it doesn't make sense to borrow this time.
fchollet 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Before arbitrarily drawing conclusions about software development, it would be necessary to actually run proper studies in this industry. It is simply not rational, or scientific, to apply the results of manufacturing-related studies to software development, when the nature of the work and the cognitive bottlenecks are completely different.

Based on anecdotal evidence, I would postulate that the average optimal workweek length for intellectual (and part-creative) work is significantly shorter than 40 hours (30 hours?), and probably varies wildly among individuals (while the optimal manufacturing workweek length is very stable over different individuals).

electrograv 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For me the magic factor to maximize productivity is sleep.

I have worked consistent 70 hour weeks, where most of those hours are in sprint high-productivity coding mode, AND without getting burnt out or tired. The secret is simple: I was getting 9-10 hours of solid sleep every night.

Sadly it's far too easy to stay up late at night browsing the web, losing sleep for no good reason in particular.

eli_gottlieb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
And yet I see job ads for software developers listing 40-hour workweeks alongside the sweet perks like equity or company lunches.

Firms really just don't get that the productivity studies were all done decades ago, and mostly came to one conclusion: 8 hours/day, 5 days/week.

xianshou 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Useful output depends highly upon the nature of the work and how well-rested you are. I find myself capable of at most 4 hours of high-intensity programming per day, but easily capable of 10 hours of routine work. However, if I don't get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, I'm useless for most everything.

Commenting on the statistics themselves, though, I would very much like to see the data on working time disambiguated from the data on sleep. Perhaps the negative correlation between working hours and productivity stems from their mutual relation to sleep: it is not only possible, but probable that sleep declines about linearly with hours worked. I would argue that the difference in sleep is likely to make a far larger difference for the majority than the difference in the length of the workweek.

lottoro 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
More data! We need data about average working hours and success of teams / companies in the tech industry.
The Sparrow Problem appcubby.com
218 points by kirillzubovsky  8 hours ago   112 comments top 26
3pt14159 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been saying this for years. It is easier, way easier, to sell someone a 12 dollar a month subscription to a traditional SaaS app that stores their sales leads. Get your monthly churn rate down to 2% over time and you have a client with a life time value of $600.[1]

Now, you could spend the same time making an app that you sell for $0.99 but you would need to sell about a thousand of them just to break even (since Apple takes such a huge cut, plus it costs more money to service a thousand people than it does to serve one). Furthermore your cash flow is much more predictable under a SaaS model (hence, easier to raise on, exit with, hire on, or just plain sleep at night with) so it isn't even a 1:1000 ratio. More like 1:2000.

The psychology behind this is pretty simple. Most business owners know that saving time increases their billable hours. If you can do that, then great. They would be thrilled to hear that they will be paying you that 12 bucks for the next 4 years, because it would mean that they survived at least that long! Most of them think there is a good chance that they will be toast in their first 3 or 4 months, and what's $40 bucks compared to their other expenses?

Whereas a general app purchaser isn't costing in their saved time (for business or productivity apps), since they don't view their mobile device as a work tool, and consumers don't usually care that your game is good because their are plenty of alternatives to choose from when it comes to wasting time on the internet.

Where I would build an app:

For an existing product that exists in a browser, mostly as a sales gen tool. Possibly for functionality that people would like to be mobile but doesn't work in a traditional SaaS app (check-ins for a ticketing app, for example, could be done on an iPad).

Most other cases I just wouldn't bother.

[1] I'd say 1.5 to 2% is basically the floor because that is roughly what small businesses close at.

ChuckMcM 6 hours ago 3 replies      
"The age of selling software to users at a fixed, one-time price is coming to an end. It's just not sustainable at the absurdly low prices users have come to expect."

While it is fun to watch folks figure out that business school is more than just a big party until graduation, watching them draw the wrong conclusions from their experiences hurts.

There is an old joke about a scientist who teaches a frog to jump when you yell "Jump!" he then proceeds to cut off the frog's legs and notes that it no longer jumps when he yells "Jump!". From this he concludes that removing a frog's legs makes it go deaf.

The same is true about concluding that the age of selling fixed price software is over. It is not economically viable at these prices. So people will go out of business, and the people who remain will raise their prices to the point needed to support themselves. Now it may be that its not economically viable to live off the revenue from a 'simple' application, but its also true its generally not possible to live off the revenue of a single paperback book either.

That said, its easier to see how a 'subscription' is a better model for somethings, but people aren't too excited about those either.

stevenwei 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
There are some issues with the numbers in this post:

Thus, when Dominique revealed to Ellis Hamburger in August 2011 that Sparrow had made at least $350k in it's first 6 months in the Mac App Store, they had already been working at least a year on the app.

The article actually states they made over half a million in the first 6 months

    DL: In terms of numbers we've made more than half a million dollars in the past six months since Sparrow was introduced in February.

I don't currently have an app in the Mac App Store, so it's hard for me to estimate sales, but I'd bet the Mac version isn't generating much more revenue, even at the higher $9.99 price point.

I do. You really can't take iOS App Store sales trends and extrapolate them to the Mac App Store, the markets are quite different.

1. Sparrow is first and foremost a Mac app, and its target demographic is (or was) Mac users. The iOS version is supplementary. Without the ability to do push on iOS they wouldn't have been able to deliver as great of a user experience on iOS anyway. I would bet that the vast majority of their sales actually come from the Mac version.

2. Mac apps don't drop out of visibility nearly as quickly as they do on the iOS App Store. Part of this is because it takes a LOT more effort to produce a quality Mac app compared to an iOS app.

3. The Mac version of Sparrow has been pretty consistently in the Top 50 Grossing on the Mac App Store since launch[1]. I would be surprised if they weren't averaging at least $1000-1500/day on sales of the Mac app alone, with much higher spikes when they hit the Top 10 Grossing.

That said, I will agree that whatever they were making was probably not sustainable for a team of 5, especially compared to the $25M that Google was offering.

[1] http://www.appannie.com/app/mac/sparrow/ranking/history/#vie...

carsongross 8 hours ago 6 replies      
I've said it in two previous threads and gotten down-voted for it, but it's the truth: apps must have a recurring revenue model.

The upgrade-train model is over for a lot of software out there. Those of us who want good desktop software should be begging our favorites (I'm looking at you, JetBrains) to charge on a subscription basis.

jsz0 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Sparrow did everything right. They built an incredible email app

I would say they did everything right except choosing to build an e-mail client. The days of paying for e-mail clients is long gone. The days of even using a local mail client are over for most people. It's just a tough sell to make money selling a paid client to a free service. I use Sparrow and will continue to use it but I can understand why they were going to have difficulties making any real money off it. Way too small of a market.

astral303 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The value obtained from the application should mirror the value received by the developer.

For games, one-time app payment makes more sense: usually, you complete the game or there is finite set of game rules that is implemented.

For most apps one uses day to day, one-time-pay model works against the user by mis-incentivizing the developer, just like TFA said.

It's somewhat ironic that AppCubby itself is an illustration of the same problem: their GasCubby app, which I use several times a month, has been effectively abandoned. Now, I would gladly pay at least $4 a year for that app, if it were actively developed, as it continuously delivers value AND getting improvements is important to me. However, since I've paid for the app once and that's the end of story, the app's own development reflects the same.

Pay to get updates is really the way to go.

Now, I am afraid to go shopping on the App Store for the same kind of app, as I'm wary of another disappointment. If I were to develop a competing app that filled the same need, but was critically more usable on several subtle, but important fronts, I would have a very uphill battle against the established stalwarts, which have been reviewed and rated since the early days of the App Store.

Thus, we are stuck in a situation where, given a popular app category, existing/old school apps tend to dominate based on reputation, but stagnate due to the lack of incentive to update or innovate, and the new apps a tough time breaking through.

zbowling 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I can tell you, as a developer on Growl, being in the top 100 paid app list at $2.99 is not going to be like being in the top 100 paid apps on iOS by a extremely huge margin. Growl retails at $1.99. We are always around the top 20 paid apps and have been for a long time and even that rate, it's not really sustainable for multiple developers.
stcredzero 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My takeaways from this article:

If you can't make it with a team of 3 or fewer, you're not going to have a sustainable business.

The community needs an "App Escrow" organization which developers can sign copyrights to their software over to. In the event of a "acquhire," the app developers won't be able to kill their app. In essence, the app developers who sign up for this "escrow" have made a precommitment to not killing their app. (Perhaps the app the software can be licensed to a new development team for a fee commensurate with the app's earnings history. Perhaps it could also be open sourced.)


js2 7 hours ago 2 replies      
And yet Mailplane continues to pay the salary of a sole developer. Maybe Sparrow's aspirations were too big for an email client? The interesting thing about Mailplane is that it targets an arguably different user base (gmail power users?) at a higher price point ($24.95). Personally I'm a Mailplane user because I prefer gmail's web-interface and I have three accounts to juggle. I never saw the appeal of Sparrow over OS X's Mail.app. And I'm still waiting for something like Mailplane for the iPad.
LoganCale 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Apple seriously needs to implement support for paid upgrades on major version releases without having to add an entirely new, separate product. If that were easily done, this point is moot. No one seriously discussing this really expects free updates for life. I'm happy to pay for a major new release every year or so.
petercooper 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ahh, I hadn't realized Sparrow had taken funding. That explains a lot. Forget revenue, forget breaking even, forget being a well paid lifestyle business.. once you have that funding, you've gotta head for big profits or a big acquisition.
MediaSquirrel 7 hours ago 3 replies      
In March, I emailed the CEO of Sparrow begging him to offer premium SaaS features on a subscription basis that integrated the functionality of "was my email opened?" services like Toutapp.com and automated follow up services like followup.cc into the email client.


The market wants it. I still believe.

gojomo 7 hours ago 2 replies      
How long until some team, with an acqui-hire offer in hand from one of the big boys, opens a Kickstarter campaign to collect a 'community crowdsourced counteroffer'?
jconley 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Another thing this OP leaves out is Sparrow was also probably running advertising, and thus burning more capital, to try to get their app store organic coefficient up. The peaks and valleys in the ranking numbers lead me down that train of thought.
nl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I generally agree that the email client market is a hard, hard market to be in.

One thing I think could have worked to bring in substantially more revenue is price differentiation.

A number of people have claimed that a significant number of Sparrow users were on paid Gmail plans. If Sparrow had split their pricing in a similar way (eg, $3 if you are on the free plan, $20 if you pay to use Gmail) then they might have brought in significantly more revenue. Additionally, the people paying for Gmail are already known to be to be people who spend money on email services.

Joel Spolsky's essay is the best resource on this: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckie...

Of course, some kind of recurring revenue is the real "solution" here.

damian2000 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I see it as something like the historical gold rush - developers flocked to the app store because they sensed there was a lot of money to be made. This vastly increased the supply of apps, which in turn decreased the demand per app, and so decreased revenue per developer. I think there will inevitably be a fall in the rate of apps being added to the app store, and sucesses will continue to be focused on a handful of publishers.

PS: This is probably wrong in some fundamental way (I'm not an economist)!

chmike 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What if the Sparrow problem was a too high burn rate ?
Apparently they were planing to integrate ads in Sparrow, probably for a free version. This could have worked since the app was very popular.
tsunamifury 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My team makes around $2 to $2.5 million a year on app sales.

I'll tell you one thing -- both of these guys and almost everyone I've met in the Valley deeply misunderstand how to make sustained profits in an app store. I'd say, from what I can tell, Gameloft (not my company) is one of the few companies that gets it.

jlft 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The price of the desktop app seemed too cheap to me. Why only $10 for such great piece of software? So, it seems they made around $1,000k in two years. That's about $100k per employee per year. Google bought them for $25,000k which gives $5,000k per employee. That's 50 years of work at the rate they were.
Steko 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Couple important caveats with the provided graphs:

The graphs are rankings not revenue (understandably he doesn't want to share). But this introduces the problem that a week in the top 10 and a week at #500 does not equal to two weeks at #250. Not even close.

Further 250th place today =/= 250th place in 2009 or 250th place in 2016 or 2030.

Ron Nicholson [1] roughly fits the following formula for app store sales:

unitSales = totalPaidApps * ((1 + rank) ^ -1.0) - 1.5

This suggests that a week at #5-10 is worth about 23-42 weeks at #250.

[1] http://www.musingpaw.com/2011/04/estimating-iphone-app-store...

Xcelerate 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a bit hard to buy the "never going to be a millionaire" thing when my friend joined a relatively new start-up and became one overnight. Yeah, I realize a lot of people don't become one, but I still have a good deal of optimism.
tonetheman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Yup a 3 dollar app will not make enough money to sustain a company. It seems foolish to think it would. Now if you sell 10 of those apps you are getting closer.

The app store and the mentality behind it is a race to the bottom. So unless you are insanely lucky (angry birds), app store devs will be living with their moms just like drug dealers. :)

dave1619 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Sparrow had a subscription model... let's say you had to pay $2/month to use it across any platform. How many people would have signed up?

Sparrow seemed more complex than a typical 0.99c app, and it seems like they had their fans. I wonder if they followed the subscription model if their finances would have looked better and gave them the ground to stay independent.

bigfrakkinghero 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Eventual payout from Google aside, I wonder if the team ever regretted the fact that taking funding "changed the yardstick" for success. I'd guess that going back to work for a big company (even with a big payout) wasn't really the original goal.

But then again, maybe it was.

kposehn 7 hours ago 0 replies      

I may have to revise some of my opinions about Sparrow's sale. New data means new conclusions.

mikehoward 7 hours ago 0 replies      
nailed it. period
Young Gorillas Observed Dismantling Poacher Snares redorbit.com
85 points by evo_9  5 hours ago   14 comments top 4
patdennis 3 hours ago 3 replies      
In what can only be described as an impassioned effort to save their own kind from the hand of poachers

There are ways to describe it that don't attribute human motivations to gorillas. I don't really believe this is a reputable source.

This is a bit more reliable: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/07/120719-young...

gph 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can't help but read this with a pinch of salt. Yes, it's fascinating that these gorillas have learned this new behavior and are passing it down. And I think almost everyone wants to see endangered species protected. Yet I can't help but feel there is something quite pretentious about all this. We sit here cheering on the destruction of these traps, when in all likely-hood there are people who depend on them for sustenance. And really it's rather disingenuous to call the people setting these traps "poachers". Normally when you think of poachers you think of thuggish killers only in it for a profit. But even in this article, which to me appears quite biased, they admit that the traps are set by local bush-meat hunters. What they do might technically be illegal (though those laws likely only exist because of Western pressure), but to them it's just a way of life. I know Diane Fossey had trouble with the locals when she first showed up and started dismantling traps. I seem to remember from an Adam Curtis documentary that they even killed a couple gorillas just to spite her. But I don't think they have a complete disregard for the natural world that surrounds them. They just hold their own survival/advancement in higher regard. And who are we to really judge that, given that most Western affluence came at the expense of vast ecological destruction.

And imagine what it must be like for these people to see some foreigners come in and spend tons of money and energy on saving gorillas and basically treat you as the enemy. I'd probably be thinking, why the hell aren't they helping me instead, is my life worth less than a gorillas to them?

I don't have any great answers to all this. Like everything there is a lot of gray area to this story. But hopefully while we cheer on the survival of the gorillas, we should also spare a thought for the survival of the local humans as well. This article certainly didn't. In fact it pretty much cast them as the villains who were heroically thwarted by a couple brave young gorillas.

rickmode 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting the part about non-interference:

"But Vecellio said it would go against Karisoke center policies and ethos to actively instruct the apes. 'We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior.'"

It's the Prime Directive in the 21st century.

mparlane 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Just need to give them guns now.
Gittip stats gittip.com
221 points by whit537  11 hours ago   108 comments top 19
patio11 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Taking a cut of a transaction is a hard business to be in. Taking a cut of a microtransaction is an astronomically harder business to be in. Taking a cut of a microtransaction that has no reason to exist is even harder than that.

I sympathize that devs want ways to get paid for developing software, but they exist, and they start with charging money for developing software and not futzing about with sub-latte level payments. Since you cannot meaningfully improve a dev's life with sub-latte payments, you will not successfully create a business on top of them.

runako 9 hours ago 3 replies      
First: I really like the idea of Gittip.com. Congratulations on getting this far.

But I strongly object to the tip amounts. Without going into too much detail, $0.25/week is not something I'd really consider a tip for a barista making my coffee, my dry cleaner, or any of the other myriad service folks I interact with on a regular basis. $0.25 will get you about 10 minutes of on-street parking in many cities; it might take longer to get your coffee. I'd guess that my attorney, physician, or my lawn guy would not consider $0.25/week a genuine "thank you" gesture as much as "hey, I have this quarter in my pocket." Personally, I think programmers are worth a lot more than most programmers think they themselves are worth.

Every other day, there's a HN post about some clueless business guy looking for technical co-founders. The HN community rages about how business people always undervalue their technical contributions. And then here's a project where programmers will tell you that a good project is worth $0.25/week. It that's true, maybe the "clueless" business guys are right to devalue technical work.

So while I really like your idea, I really do wish you'd reconsider the worth of programmers who contribute to these projects. I'm trying to be as constructive as possible here, because I think good things can come from what you're doing if you don't advance the notion that good programming in any meaningful quantity is worth $0.25.

thaumaturgy 9 hours ago 3 replies      
This is going to sound pretty lame, but I've been suffering from a severe case of Signup Fatigue recently. My business has been doing pretty well so I'd be OK with committing to a weekly debit to my business card, but I don't have a GitHub account and Signup Fatigue is preventing me from setting one up just to give money to people.

Am I being excessively whiny? Are there any plans to not require a GitHub account to give people a little money?

Really neat effort, I hope it continues to take off.

reginaldo 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I know a guy working on a related idea. Instead of funding people, his system works by funding issues. The link is http://www.freedomsponsors.org

The workflow, as I understand it, goes something like that:

1) There's an issue on a project you use that's getting no love.

2) You go to freedomsponsors register that you'd like some issue solved, so much that you'd be willing to put your money where your mouth is. Also, you'll probably want to put a link to freedomsponsors on the project's issue tracker.

3) When one or more people solve the issue, the sponsor pays them (if more than one person has worked on the issue, the sponsor can distribute the money in anyways).

pbiggar 4 hours ago 1 reply      
All the people telling you to increase the price are right, and then some. So some advice:

- dont focus so much on the individual developers, focus more on getting money in the system. You want to know how best to help an individual developer? It's by having lots of users, and lots of money.

- first way you can help do this is by having a minimum monthly charge. I pay $150 a month on a database. I pay 4 digits worth of EC2 bills. I can afford a $10 minimum.

- 2nd way is to strongly focus on enterprise plans. For $1000 a month, you get a big giant banner add on gittip, that everyone else sees every time they add a tip or receive one, or play with their settings.

- dont make people spend the whole thing - distribute the excess to the developers that others have chosen, in proportion to how popular they are. Or use it to highlight projects you like, or projects for people who contribute money, or something like that.

Stop focussing on the low end - bump up that price, and who cares if it's too expensive for some people. Giving $0.25 isn't charity - its actually costing you money.

fromhet 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Excuse me, but I don't understand why anyone would use this instead of flattr? Sorry for sounding blatant, but havent they got this micro-donation thing going quite well?
citricsquid 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The stats page should have permalinks for each week so that if someone clicks on this HN submission in 1 month they can see the intended stats, not the latest.
ricardobeat 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Those 319 people (74%) are contributing only $79/month. If minimum contribution was raised to US$1 it would generate more donations even if >60% leave.
debacle 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is good to hear. I'm cautiously optimistic about this project and hope we see numbers grow a few orders of magnitude in the coming year.
kmfrk 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This is really cool. I look forwarding to support people in the Django community who make invaluable apps through this.

I would prefer if I could reward people for specific repos, though. Otherwise people, myself included, will probably be clueless why I am receiving money, and as a result it won't create an incentive to improve a particular product.

The text could read.

    Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my money,
So keep working on django-registration maybe.

veyron 10 hours ago 2 replies      
What exactly are the economics of sub-dollar charges? I'd imagine the CC charges exceed donation amount
whit537 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Gah! Title changing feels gross. :-(

Original: "After 7 weeks, 100+ people are funding open source devs $600/wk on Gittip.com"

Problem: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4102013

md224 11 hours ago 1 reply      
As the creator of FuckItJS, I have unfortunately fallen short of my "$1,000,000.00 per week" goal
guscost 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect I'm not alone in saying this: If someone paid me, I'd be able to contribute a lot more to open source projects. As it stands, I am inclined to worry that sharing my source code will undermine my ability to make money while writing it, and this might not be an ideal situation.
Killswitch 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome, I signed up, but how do I change my username? I don't want to use the one supplied to me by logging in via Github.
gbrindisi 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Do you support organizations?
wildmXranat 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Signed up for fun! I still don't see the tip buttons once I show a widget to a viewer.
ronnix 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this, and I just signed up! Do you think tipping is something that GitHub might want to add as a core feature of their web site?
suyash 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this tool, I prefer this over Paypal donation! (thanks for all the tips in advance :) https://www.gittip.com/suyashjoshi/
Sally Ride, first American woman in space, has died at 61 sallyridescience.com
166 points by splat  9 hours ago   30 comments top 6
RockyMcNuts 7 hours ago 3 replies      
First lesbian in space, apparently.


Unfortunate she felt she had to keep it to herself her whole life.

At the time she was applying, it might have disqualified her, security clearances weren't given since it was felt gays were exposed to blackmail. Plus Reagan era officials might not have viewed it as great PR.

[edit] Also a shame her partner of 27 years doesn't get the privileges of a spouse.

dredmorbius 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Ride on, Sally Ride.

As usual, an apropos xkcd reference, though this was a blog post, and concerned the surviving Apollo astronauts: http://blog.xkcd.com/2012/07/12/a-morbid-python-script/

melling 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Another one to pancreatic cancer...


swang720 8 hours ago 2 replies      
A tragedy, and I wonder if being in space had anything to do with the development of her cancer. Astronauts must be bombarded by levels of radiation that people on Earth are not exposed to on a daily basis.
runjake 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Blue skies, Miss Ride.
VMware Buys Nicira for $1.26B bhorowitz.com
146 points by daegloe  10 hours ago   46 comments top 6
simplekoala 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Vinod Khosla talks about entrepreneurs having a deep understanding of an area instead of surface knowledge to make a difference. I guess, Nicira is one such example where deep technical know-how of founders helped them disrupt the networking industry with ground-breaking innovation.

Congrats on many levels! Nicara=1.3 times Instagram but several magnitudes greater than Instagram, when it came to solving hard-technical problems. I know, it is a dubious comparison but I am biased towards entrepenuers/founders who solve hard-technical problems. I am pretty sure, someone will argue that Instagram was pushing the boundaries of sharing, and in some fuzzy/meta way improving the human condition and experience in non-tangible ways, and in the process will end-up solving hard-technical problems (scale, data-science blah-blah). Let us just say, I disagree. Expecting to be voted down to oblivion.

3am 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This should have interesting fallout with EMC and Cisco's relationship. Cisco has invested heavily in creating a Nicira competitor internally (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/cisco-announces-its...).

Also, Nicira was contributing a lot to Openstack networking, at least as of the Diablo release, in the Quantum plugin and I believe in nova-network in general. That will have repercussions for HP, Dell, Rackspace, or anyone else heavily invested in Openstack.

I had the pleasure of working on a small project in which Nicira was involved. I didn't work directly with them, but they seemed really sharp. Many congratulations to them on a great exit.

ChuckMcM 10 hours ago  replies      
Nicely done, nicely done. Got to love it when someone takes a real problem and nails the solution. When I first read about these guys (as an operations person myself) I thought, "Ya know, if they can make this work they will have a helluva solution."
joelthelion 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain what problem Ncira solves? I've been to their website, but I really don't understand what they're doing.
winter_blue 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it really possible to be independent (not bought out) while being successful and in business when your area of operation (virtualization in this case), closely overlaps with that of another much bigger, wealthier company (VMware in this case) ?

I like the Steve Jobs quote where he says he doesn't like companies whose sole goal is to eventually get bought out by a bigger player. I personally would like to build a company, cultivate culture within that company and stay independent, even if that means more competition and less cash-in-hand in the short run.

aurora72 8 hours ago 1 reply      
They say the only requirement from physical network is IP connectivity. Technically it's straightforward to build a virtual machine on top of IP.

The real matter is to see that IP virtualization is the future of networking. However, I'm suspicious on the efficiency of that kind of virtualization as it might consume more CPU energy and maybe cause some lags between networks.

HN's Daeken will expose security flaw in 4m hotel room keycard locks forbes.com
230 points by ssclafani  14 hours ago   130 comments top 16
daeken 14 hours ago  replies      
I'm planning on doing a Reddit AMA for reversing in general -- as well as this work -- in the next hour or two, but if anyone has any questions I'll do my best to answer here. All I ask is no protocol details (paper and full code will be out tomorrow immediately following my talk) and no legal questions. Go wild.

Edit: Since this thread has blown up a bit, we may as well just do it here for real. If you have any reversing questions or background questions or whatnot, feel free.

jgrahamc 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It won't be a surprise to learn that these types of locks are vulnerable, but I'll be fascinated to learn the details especially since it sounds like you can get access to an internal bus easily.

The assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Mahmoud_al-Mab...) allegedly by Mossad involved attacking an electronic hotel lock to get access to his room:

"A readout of activity that took place on the hotel room's electronic door lock indicated that an attempt was made to reprogram al-Mabhouh's electronic door lock at this time. The investigators believe that the electronic lock on al-Mabhouh's door may have been reprogrammed and that the killers gained entry to his room this way. The locks in question, VingCard Locklink brand (Dubai police video, 21:42), can be accessed and reprogrammed directly at the hotel room door."

screwt 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Could you explain a little more why you didn't go for responsible disclosure to Onity?

In the article you suggest that you don't think they could fix it. Maybe true but shouldn't you (a) give them the oppurtunity to try (just cos you can't spot the fix doesn't mean it's impossible), and (b) give them the chance to say "yep, it's broken - give us 3 months to ship out new locks to all our customers" (yes, highly unlikely I know!).

Given that you sat on this for a year before publishing, there was ample oppurtunity to inform Onity before you publish.

kristopolous 11 hours ago 2 replies      
duh? I'm sorry but low security systems like hotel rooms of course have wide vulnerabilities. The front desk will just give out keys based on trust since you don't have to register everyone staying in the room; they don't even have an audit trail if they wanted to use it.

Keyless entry cars are mostly crackable ... garage door systems are trivial, you can bump pin tumbler locks, many home security systems have no backup power. rfid skimmers are cheap and easy-to-use. almost every elock I've seen has the bus readily exposed on the outside (secured by a single screw at best).

There's at most 6 things I can think of that actually do not have trivial security issues.

If I knew I would become famous by informing the press that, for instance, a car model only has a handful of key patterns for millions of cars, I would have done it a long time ago, but I thought such things were just stupefyingly obvious.

ulope 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting, but it's not as if hotels in general have been high security installations.

Very easy experiment: Just go to the front desk an thell them that you sadly seem to have lost your room card. 90% of the time they will just ask for your room number without requiring any kind of proof that it's actually your room.

javajosh 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I was always curious about elock systems, particularly about how they are reprogrammed. Presumably they are reprogrammed by the front desk, centrally, but how does the signal reach the lock? Presumably there must be wires attached (at least for power). So why is there an external port on the lock at all? Also, what is the possibility that a lock exploit could affect the central reprogramming system?

Edit: just read below that these things are battery powered, which raises two questions, first, ok, how are they reprogrammed, and second, how does a hotel not go bankrupt replacing thousands of batteries all the time?

st3fan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think that making this public is not a very good example of responsible disclosure
and I hope there will be a lawsuit before the presentation to prevent the details from being exposed.

I am all about exposing vulnerabilities but I honestly think there needs to be a dialog with the vendor first. Specially for exploits like this where there is a lot at stake.

I find the excuse of 'there is nothing they can do anyway' very poor. I have no doubt that this technique is known to locksmiths and law enforcement and maybe a smaller group of criminals. But making this public and exposing it to the world will allow any criminal with a soldering iron and an Arduino to start exploiting this.

Daeken, you have done an awesome job making this known. Maybe that it enough to get the ball rolling. Or do you just want to do damage for fame and profit?

jcfrei 13 hours ago 1 reply      
let's do this AMA thing right here, because my questions might get lost in the reddit noise. You seem like the prototype hacker to me - what's your personal stack? like OS, text editor, the computer you use daily?

thanks for answering those 3 little questions.

webjprgm 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the obvious fix to make the programming port available only from the inside of the room? That's where the screws for physical bolt locks go.

And you can still have a DC power port on the outside in case of a powered-down door, just no programming access.

Why have they not done it that way???

kylebrown 11 hours ago 1 reply      
What tools do you use for reversing hardware? Did you have to open up the lock and tap into it with something like a logic analyzer? Or was it as simple as creating a DC port adapter so you could read the data from the portable programmer?
tmpaccount 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not certain, but in the picture from the Forbes article the lock looks exactly like the kind used on many doors in my university - the shape is exactly the same, and ours had the same type of electrical connector in the same place at the bottom of the lock. I remember because I considered attacking this interface before noticing the torx security screw next to the connector; removing this screw allows the panel covering the bottom part of the lock to be removed (the edge of this panel is visible in the Forbes photo), exposing the bolt mechanism of the lock. Turning this mechanism one way opened the lock, turning it the other double-locked it so it couldn't be opened with the proper keycard.

I wonder if any HN readers have access to an Onity lock to check whether this method works on them?

mark_g 10 hours ago 0 replies      
rdl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Any idea what locks Caesars and the Rio use?
thornofmight 11 hours ago 1 reply      
How did you practice this and discover it? I can't imagine just wondering around hotel rooms playing around with the doors...
wheelerwj 11 hours ago 1 reply      
so reverse engineering seems cool. What skills do you find most useful/versatile/neat/groovy or otherwise necessary for your reverse engineering projects?
stcredzero 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> HN's Daeken will expose

You have my attention...

> security flaw in 4m

sounding really interesting...

> hotel room keycard locks.

Oh. Well, still pretty cool.

EDIT: Actually, this kid of thing needs to get a lot more attention and awareness. I could suggest a certification of some kind, but there's often a reaction against that. But a certification that just indicated:

    - No passwords in plaintext
- Not vulnerable to replay attacks
- No "toy" encryption

Would be of great benefit in today's world.

Passing Pointers filepicker.io
98 points by brettcvz  10 hours ago   30 comments top 9
icebraining 8 hours ago 2 replies      
It's always refreshing when people building web services actually understand the web. (Note: not sarcasm, unfortunately this is rare).
fzzzy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes! I really hope more people catch on to why this is an excellent idea.

Urls as pointers are not needed in a world where Facebook controls everything and has access to everything by id in it's backend.

A world where services provide and consume urls is a world where it doesn't matter what server something is on, everyone can participate.

kstenerud 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This will only work so long as services copy the contents of the URL you give. This opens up a whole slew of security and permission issues. Otherwise the original link becomes the weak link in a potentially long chain of links.

A pointer is handy and convenient until the resource it points to disappears.

throwaway54-762 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Aw, and I expected a C/C++ article! Still, this is good stuff: "zero copy" for web content.
liyanchang 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"my data stores and yours are practically collocated".

Truth. Every time I ping from my server and get ridiculously low response times, I have to pause to think before thinking "Thank you AWS".

bjornsing 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So true. For example, I love gmail but can't believe how many times a day I download an attachment just to upload it as an attachment to another email. It's ridiculous.
stuffihavemade 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm running into this problem right now with S3. I have a bunch of files on a cdn that I want to store in my bucket but (as far I know), I have to download them all to my machine before storing them. I'd love for the api to accept a URL.
ukd1 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This is cool, but I wonder when it will actually be done by reference rather than reference then copy.

When will I be able to keep a "this is in use here" record for a file that is stored else where. Whilst way better than download-upload on broadband / cell; it still seems dumb to copy in the first place, even if it is on internet backbone.

Scene_Cast2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Yay, garbage collection and memory management! How do you know whether a URL has expired or not? I'm assuming temp URLs, which is quite reasonable in a lot of cases.
But You Did Not Persuade Me codinghorror.com
81 points by stalled  9 hours ago   8 comments top 3
j_baker 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a pitfall I see startup founders getting into frequently[1]. Some people think that as soon as they start their own startup that gives them a position of authority, they can tell others what to do and that's it. Unfortunately, even the CEO (perhaps even especially the CEO) still has to have skills of persuasion to get others to do as they ask.

[1] Really, it's a pitfall that anyone (myself included) can get into when they obtain a position of authority.

Mythbusters 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Don't disagree with the power of persuasion but the approach of expecting you to be persuaded is flawed I think. It makes the other person responsible for expressing his/her point effectively enough that you understand the importance of it. Tech industry particularly is rife with people who are extraordinary developers but very poor communicators. People like these are highly at disadvantage with the "persuade me" stance. I think if you are the decision maker, higher authority then it is your responsibility to have the insight to see the value of the point being made and not really hope to be nagged like a toddler into making a decision.
dinkumthinkum 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm never very easy on Atwood and I won't start to be now. However, I love this part of that movie. It's very nice. (have to balance comments some time :) )

I'll set aside what I think about including a comparison to "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" to the rest of the things discussed in the post.

No, you don't need a real-time data dashboard numeratechoir.com
57 points by sbashyal  8 hours ago   6 comments top 5
matwood 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's important to remember there are different types of analytics, both of which are important for any organization. Real-time analytics are what I would consider to be tactical. If your site is getting slammed you need to know about it - right now! And then you need to act. If you only focus on the RT analytics though it's easy to get stuck in local minimums, miss the forest through the trees, or simply not realize you're measuring the wrong things.

There are also strategic analytics. When looking at strategy, sufficient time periods are generally required. This type of analysis guides decisions in terms of months, quarters, and years. Strategic analytics are what drive the business long term. They provide the decions makers the data and visibility they need to solidify their vision.

Finally, I like to think of analytic data in 3 distinct iterative stages:

First is the data. This is the raw data spinning off the multitude of systems in any company. In any slightly complex system there are many datapoints that can be captured and counted. Companies often have entire systems just to capture the data, and this is before any analysis can occur.

Next is the information stage. In this stage all of that raw data is turned into some sort of reporting. It's still a lot of data, but is in a format that can start to be analyzed and acted upon (tactical reporting). In the past I've used various data warehousing solutions to execute on this step.

Finally, the organization turns the information into long term knowledge. This step occurs when the data has been analyzed and used to drive champion/challenger, A/B testing, etc... and those results are rolled back into the organization (vision and long term organizational changes). This knowledge also helps the organization discover what other datapoints need to be found and/or captured and the process starts again.

sardonicbryan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I totally agree with the sentiment in the blog post. As someone who has built and now compulsively checks a real time dashboard however, I'll enumerate one case where I've found real time really valuable.

I'm the product owner of a social game, and we are blessed with:

1) high traffic

2) tools that make it easy to test sales, promotions, contests in real time

3) a team that is capable of doing multiple meaningful releases a week reliably

The result of this is that we end up making meaningful changes to our product on a daily basis. With our high traffic, I can reliably tell you within one hour (on the outside) whether a promotion, contest or feature is having its intended impact, especially once I:

1) Benchmark against recent averages (and take into account the volatility in the metric I'm measuring... everything is framed as how many standard deviations above or below recent averages)

2) Compare against recent trends.

3) Compare against my expectations/hypothesis. After a couple years of looking at realtime KPIs move in response to changes, I've gotten pretty good at forecasting results.

Obviously, I also look at metrics at a daily level and track weekly cohorted metrics out for months to make sure strategically we're maximizing for a global maxima and not a local one. But there are a lot of pretty realtime businesses where tactics are extremely important that could really benefit from realtime dashboards.

edhallen 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post - if anything, I think this problem goes way beyond just real-time dashboards to extend to the vast majority of analysis done today (both by web and more traditional companies).

The statement that particularly resonated for me was [figure out] "if you're looking at stats now because you're curious and impatient, or because those stats will actually drive business decisions", but I'd take it one step further.

Analysis and stats are incredibly valuable when:

1) they are applied to a real business decision that is tied to actual value

2) you are willing to change what you are doing based on the result

3) you don't already know the answer

4) you have sufficient confidence in the result to act on it.

We need to get more used to stopping and thinking before we start analysis by laying out the decision we need help making, the different paths we're willing to take, and the amount of confidence we'll need to change our decisions. I could definitely be a lot more disciplined about it.

(I actually wrote a blog post last week on this same topic that lays out the above criteria in more detail and might be useful - though that was a reaction to the profusion of ads out there calling Big Data and Analytics "hot", that ignore how they actually drive real value. Blog post is here: http://www.klaviyo.com/blog/2012/07/16/the-curse-analytics-b...)

sbashyal 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There has been a lot of interesting discussions on growth hacking here on HN lately. This article raises the important point that long term growth has to be the goal as opposed to increase in sign-ups or page views. Feeding the Internet troll, for example, may not always lead to long term growth.
How to Evaluate a (paid) iPhone App Idea tonywright.com
29 points by jamesjyu  5 hours ago   13 comments top 4
cageface 3 hours ago 2 replies      
First off" let me say that the paid side of the App Store is not where the real money is being made.

This is why I think the whole app economy is a house built on sand. How long are people going to be entertained by this gimmick of junk IAP?

Sure there are a handful of apps where some kind of recurring IAP actually makes sense. But the vast majority of these apps are selling virtual Tchotchkes with absolutely zero real value. Sooner or later this seems bound to lose its novelty.

More and more it seems that the only smart way to make money writing code is selling SAAS B2B apps.

cageface 3 hours ago 0 replies      
So, yeah. The App Store is really mostly a game store. And a free game store at that.

And this is why I've lost a lot of my enthusiasm for mobile coding.

After a decade of writing web apps I've enjoyed getting close to the machine again and having the tools to write really powerful multimedia apps but the reality of the app store is that what sells are gimmicky doodads and the kind of games that you used to find on flash game sites.

BadassFractal 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Good thing that, as we all know from that post from a few days ago, freemium is dead.
zupreme 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I would think that a major part of such an analysis would be identifying other apps similar to your idea and evaluation of their success, lack thereof, and possible reasons for either.

Without a realistic understanding of your target market from a competitive analysis standpoint one could wind up spending cycles writing an amazing app which is doomed before it even launches.

Neurosurgeons barred from human research after experimental infections nature.com
31 points by 1337biz  6 hours ago   10 comments top 5
bugsbunnyak 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This has strong whiffs of grudge-grinding and ass-covering.

My take is that the IRB was miffed at the end-run using an ethics committee instead of the IRB. However, this is neither unprecedented nor illegal. Ethics committees are widely used to oversee investigational or quasi-elective procedures (ie "elective" off-label procedures for non-life-threatening but massively debilitating conditions).

It is quite telling that both surgeons still have privileges, and indeed one remains the department chair. The Sac Bee article and the FDA notification letter contain no mention of medical licensure investigations.

There is a massive gray area between clinical judgement and IRB or FDA purview. Drs. can and do use drugs and devices far, far off-label all the time - and there is essentially nothing the FDA can do to the Dr. (however they can come down hard on manufacturers for promoting unapproved uses)

The FDA and IRB do not regulate the practice of medicine and "medical judgement"; those are constrained by medical boards, tort, and in extreme cases prosecution for criminal negligence.

This was research misconduct only to the extent that they made the mistake of involving the IRB in the first place.

background: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21552172
study pro: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2039978/
study con: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19404146

Locke1689 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Reviewing the FDA report, it appears that the two physicians are guilty of grave misconduct if they knowingly violated the treatment requirements set forth by both the IBA and FDA.

That said, there's nothing a priori wrong with the treatment, had it been approved. Even if the result were the same. Experimental treatments are experimental for a reason. In fact, many of our treatments for cancer, including chemotherapy and radiation, are all poisons designed to kill the cancer before it kills you. Introducing a poison into a patient's body in the hope that, if you survive, you'll stop the cancer's progress is really the rule more than the exception in modern cancer treatment.

We really don't have anything better.

chimi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a better link to the original bypassing this blog spam:


sekm 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The first line of this article jolted me backwards.

At Universities in New Zealand, any type of experiment involving human participants (even just talking to them) requires passing through an exceptional amount of ethics-committee red tape.

I believe the ethics were derived after the experiments from WW2 on humans. Regardless of whether or not these patients agreed, it still sounds ridiculously unethical. Does anyone know of any animal research using the same techniques?

niels_olson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. As someone trying to get a protocol through IRB right now, this helped put my frustrations in perspective. I think.
Marissa Mayer Has a Secret Weapon wired.com
167 points by mikeleeorg  15 hours ago   77 comments top 20
swombat 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Halfway through the two-year program, Mayer herself would lead the group on a summer trip to visit international Google outposts. (I accompanied the trip in 2007; we went to Tokyo, Beijing, Bangalore, and Tel Aviv. This year, one of the cities included Jakarta.) It would be a bonding experience for each year's group of APMs " bonding with each other and to Mayer.

Why do I get the feeling that the author is referring to newly hatched Velociraptors rather than human beings?

It's not like this "bonding" will mean they recognise Mayer as their den mother for life or something.

geuis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There are so many people leaving comments that entirely miss the point here.

We will have to wait at least 6 months to really start seeing if Mayer is able to grapple with the listless behemoth that is Yahoo. Most of that time will be her getting up to speed and laying her own foundation on where the company should go. So don't expect to see much in the surface for at least that long.

Digging further into the content of the story, in many ways this can be considered a valuable resource she has been building for many years.

People will follow a good mentor if there are special opportunities on offer. There are many people at Google and other places that are not satisfied with their options. To these people, money is not as satisfying as control and advancement. If Mayer is able to offer key people better options, many will be inclined to at least explore the idea.

Don't hang on to this idea that Yahoo is the place to suicide your career and/or company via acquisition. That's the old and current Yahoo. If Mayer is able to overcome that old inertia, then Yahoo could easily become a very hot place to be again. A good analogy is to think of an old, massive forest. It's all old trees that are half dead and centuries of undergrowth. A fire finally comes along and sweeps through. All of the undergrowth and dead trees are burned away. Now many young and vibrant plants can grow again, animals come back in abundance, and the whole forest ecosystem is better than ever. And please, hold off on the fucking criticisms of my version of forest ecology. It's an analogy.

So the point here is that if Mayer can start changing things finally, then there will be all kinds of interesting new things that people close to her could benefit from over the next few years.

sbisker 13 hours ago 3 replies      
The APM program is a time limited (2 year) program that is fairly "up or out", in the model of McKinsey-esque programs.

If you're someone that Google has decided is an "up", I highly doubt Google is going to let these people go so easily. These people are already being aggressively retained with bonuses and the like.

If you're an "out", well, by definition Yahoo won't be that interested.

And the "ups" that "became outs", so to speak, are people who are of such strong personal conviction that they turned down gobs of money in 2007 from Google to, say, take a riskier position at Facebook or do their own thing. In those cases, it's unlike more gobs of money from Yahoo in 2012 will convince them to jump ship, unless Marissa can offer things to recruits that she couldn't offer to recruits at Google. (This seems unlikely - there was little Google couldn't offer the APMs it lost.)

m0th87 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was an APM intern last summer. It really was an amazing experience, and it taught me a lot - most especially that I have no idea what I'm doing.

APMers have a great deal of respect for Marissa, and she invests heavily in the program. There's no doubt Marissa knows how to recruit talent really well. That said, it's not as if current APMs will be clamoring for jobs at Yahoo. For better or worse, most seemed to be motivated by status and learning opportunities. If Marissa can offer both at Yahoo, then it could be enticing.

dctoedt 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how Googlers who weren't selected as APMs feel about having to compete with these pre-designated golden boy and -girl elites?

I also wonder whether many APMs display any sense of clubby entitlement? Probably not many of them do, but in any group like that there are usually a few here and there.

dsiroker 12 hours ago 0 replies      
As a former APM who went with the author and Marissa on the trip mentioned and now running a YC-backed startup (Optimizely) I can't speak highly enough of the APM program. Marissa did a tremendous job building a program that gave me the skills to be successful as an entrepreneur on my own.

APM Program : Big Companies :: YCombinator : Startups

maayank 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"The ideal applicants must have technical talent, but not be total programming geeks " APMs had to have social finesse and business sense."

I would just like to note I met some of said APMs in a gathering in Tel Aviv and they were all cordial, knowledgeable in their topics of work and helpful. After speaking in passing with one of them I was contacted in less than a week by the VP responsible for the topic in EMEA - I don't know if it's typical for a Google employee, but my casual impression was all that article said and more.

nostromo 12 hours ago 2 replies      
People work at Google because it's Google, not because they want to work for Marissa Mayer.

The idea that Google's best and brightest will now jump ship to work at Yahoo seems unlikely.

plinkplonk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
So what does this APM program actually consist of? How are people selected for it? What actually happens in those two years? How do people leave it? How is it different from similair programs at other BigCo s?Would any present/former members of this program like to comment?
codeonfire 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This article really lends credence to the idea that Mayer was hated inside Google. She set up her very own Waffen-SS of unskilled, inexperienced credit takers who were undoubtedly at odds with the rest of the company or at least the technical talent.

This article also has a good example of the blatant anti-intellectualism used in tech management:

"The ideal applicants must have technical talent, but not be total programming geeks " APMs had to have social finesse and business sense."

Obviously anybody 'too geeky' couldn't possibly have social finesse or business sense, but these APMs, with less than 18 months experience, were supposedly the uber-elite commandos at everything. The article goes further with the common theme of trying to confuse the source of technical talent. It claims that "Yahoo will be hiring great managers and product people" which will (of course) solve the problem that "the best techies have gone elsewhere."

Business schools espouse the same kind of inner-circle-ism: anoint the inexperienced, give them access, and tell them they are special and they will be under your control. B-Schools do it to get people to pay $100k+ for a degree program while Mayer seems to have done this for power. It's not a bad strategy political-wise, but it only works in the short term.

diego 13 hours ago 2 replies      
tldr: Marissa Mayer is strongly connected to lots of extremely smart people. Wired needs clicks, so they call this a "Secret Weapon." Hardly.
Steko 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Mayer's secret weapon is knowledge of Google internal product roadmap, esp gmail. Well I guess that's not much of a secret either.

Any turnaround at Yahoo is going to have to build on the backs of user sign up which mean yahoo mail will need to start killing it against gmail. I would be surprised if we didn't see a revamped and rebranded (cough ymail) email launched at a big press event in the next 5-6 months.

I wonder if the Sparrow acquisition was accelerated when she left because Google decided they needed to accelerate their gmail roadmap too.

warech 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Implementing a rotational leadership program in the mold of GE, Nielsen, Abbot Labs, et al was definitely a great accomplishment for Mayer. I would hesitate, however, to call this a "secret weapon." She would be wise to implement a similar program at Yahoo, but implying that significant APMs would follow her from Google out of 'den mother' loyalty is ridiculous.
Keyframe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Best luck to her and yahoo, but all their and hers assets are meaningless until she, with her team, finds first needed thing for yahoo - vision. Hopefully they succeed.
mikemoka 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A friend of my cousin saw the title of the link, then he said "What do they mean? Do they also talk about gossip in here?"


BlackNapoleon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What does Yahoo do now?
rokhayakebe 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yahoo should simply have an incubator. Pay 100 engineers full salaries for a 50% stack.
zeruch 13 hours ago 0 replies      
While that is a very interesting point, she'll have to leverage it soon and with some impressive finesse to make it have any practical effect. It's still going to be one hell of an uphill climb.
bazookaBen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
you take your best people wherever you go. Especially when they're your friends.
williamle8300 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If the secret weapon is a baby, I don't wanna hear about it!
Tiled Shadow Maps jasonnall.com
90 points by gfosco  12 hours ago   29 comments top 9
kevingadd 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting approach. I'd be shocked if an algorithm based on two polar transforms, plus resampling, was ever faster than more traditional raycasting based algorithms (see http://www.redblobgames.com/articles/visibility/ for one detailed example) - especially given that you can do the raycasting algorithm entirely in hardware now on pretty much any machine, including the resampling.

Maybe you could do the polar transforms in a pixel shader to make up the difference? The transform also seems to introduce a not-insignificant amount of error, which is unfortunate if you want to use visibility data for AI (in which case you want full precision at whatever your target resolution is).

blackhole 7 hours ago 1 reply      
My own approach to this problem would be to consider each tile as a square polygon, then simply project the vertices outward from the light source. Then you take the resulting triangles and rasterize them on to an image scaled such that each pixel represents a tile and use antialiasing (or simply rasterize them on to an image 8 times as large as you need it and scale down, which is essentially the same thing). This gives you roughly the same end result, but would allow you to hardware accelerate almost every single aspect and avoids all the artifacts of shadowmapping. Notably, by restricting each polygon to a square, the projection could be done entirely as a vertex shader, without requiring geometry shaders. This would likely be vastly more efficient due to taking advantage of hardware acceleration.
0x0 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Instead of converting to polar and back again, could you do something similar by "raytracing" a 2d line from each tile to the players position backwards; starting in the middle and stepping out toward the target tile in a bresenheim-type stepping, marking as shadows after touching an obstacle? If you start by stepping around the outer edges, you'd fill most of the tiles in one pass, and then you could probably interpolate or re-trace for any missing pixels?

(Edit: I guess you'll lose the nice shades-of-grey effect that the article's bitmap processing technique yields)

etcet 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This kind of Field of View algorithm is integral to any roguelike and there's a variety of methods for achieving the results [0]. I'd be interested in how this algorithm holds up against the usual raycasting or shadow casting. My intuition is that it'd be slower (especially with a 1024px shadow map resolution) due to it being based on pixels rather than grid values.

[0] http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php/Field_o...

w0utert 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting approach, but like some others I'm wondering if this is the fastest and easiest way to do this kind of thing, especially since you are working with a tile based grid.

Probably a combination of 2d portals and raycasting would do the same trick, but more efficiently. I also think it would be easier to implement, and more flexible if you want to have moving obstacles. Most of this stuff is standard fare in even the simplest of 3d engines and well documented, the 2d case would actually be a simplification of those algorithms.

Nonetheless I think your solution is pretty clever and interesting, so kudos for that.

darklajid 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're not averse to C#: Eric Lippert has a series about visibility in a rogue-like game (it's either/or, no shadows, but still a nice read) on his blog:


RBerenguel 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting way to solve the problem. Just as curiosity, have you ever checked the ascii roguelike "Brogue"? It has a kind of line-of-sight and color scales.
JTxt 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea. I have wondered about this problem too. Thanks for sharing.
ralphleon 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What are the games featured in the screenshots?
Machine learning for the impatient: algorithms tuning algorithms aelag.com
125 points by aelaguiz  14 hours ago   29 comments top 4
danger 12 hours ago 3 replies      
As another commenter pointed out, the accuracy really needs to be evaluated using a validation set, not the test set--the approach described in the post is training with the testing data. In the field, we call this "cheating".

The basic idea of automatically tuning hyperparameters (the things this post discusses tuning with genetic algorithms) is cool, though, and is becoming a popular subject in machine learning research. A couple recent research papers on the topic are pretty readable:

Algorithms for Hyper-Parameter Optimization:


Practical Bayesian Optimization of Machine Learning Algorithms:


scottfr 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Such aggressive usage of the test data set in determining the tuning parameters in effect makes your test data set part of your training data set.

The more times you go back to your test data set to evaluate the effectiveness of a model, the more optimistic your error predictions will be and the greater your chance of overfitting. Several iterations of his loop will probably improve the model, but if you keep repeating it eventually the true model performance will start to degrade.

bencpeters 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I had a few questions about the actual implementation of this stuff. I took the coursera ML course, so much of the terminology and techniques are familiar after that, but Professor Ng structured the exercises in the course around Matlab/Octave and suggested using one of these tools for a first-pass solution when implementing machine learning problems.

Have you used Matlab much in your work? How does the performance (and libraries available) compare with Python?

Also, does anyone know a good resource for finding good, high performance ML libraries for other languages (Ruby, C++, etc.)?

misiti3780 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is very interesting but I am really confused about the edit:

"A few people have pointed out that using the testing set for tuning demands that final measure of effectiveness be doing using a validation test set which is not part of either the training or testing datasets. This is due for the very real potential of over fitting. Also " apparently this technique is called “Hyper-Parameter Optimization.” A helpful commenter over at Hacker News supplied the following resources"

Does that mean there is definitely overfitting going on but it is acceptable for the purposes of the article. That 82.5% accuracy rate has overfitting written all over it.

Good stuff regardless!

Redis Sentinel beta released antirez.com
182 points by j4mie  18 hours ago   21 comments top 9
Uchikoma 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Redis has been working here on a high traffic site without any trouble for more than a year. Excellent software. The only software I might think that's bug free, due to the attitude of @antirez.
spenrose 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey Antirez, the link to hires in the announcement is broken. Replace "anirez" with "antirez".
swah 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone comment if this criticism is valid?

"In which monitoring agents rely upon correct, truthful, answers about cluster state from the system they're monitoring"

Original: https://twitter.com/cscotta/status/227515068030537728

jorangreef 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks Antirez, could you share more insight on TILT mode? Any other alternative approaches you considered? Why use a value of 30 seconds to leave TILT mode? If the time has shifted is it likely ever to be correct thereafter?
zerop 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this can also be used as monitoring & notification for other services as well in cluster & not just Redis instances !!
dvirsky 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've written a little experimental python client that connects to a sentinel and keeps an image of the state of the monitored cluster as it changes.
DRMacIver 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> a known bug in the hiredis library that can make Sentinel crash from time to time, but it's not a problem with Sentinel itself

Surely if a bug in a client can crash your server that's a bug in the server by definition even if the client is also buggy?

jwuphysics 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The boldface isn't showing up correctly for me. Viewing on Chromium.
arrowgunz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
That sounds sweet. Congrats. Redis has been of great use to me.
Destined To Fail stevenkovar.com
271 points by stevenkovar  23 hours ago   105 comments top 28
nirvana 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Of all the government created monopolies, the cable monopolies are some of the worst.

If cable companies had to compete to keep business, they'd offer better service and treat their employees better. Southwest airlines is a good example of a company that has to keep costs low, but does this in part by treating their employees very well.

Notice that they charge ever higher and higher fees, in part because the municipalities are on the take here and get a cut of the fees, but also because the demand is inelastic. If you live in Austin and you want cable, they have your business.

So, there's no reason to spend the money to have enough technicians to ensure they are able to do a good job and a timely one.

A big part of the reason this never improves is that everyone blames Time Warner. TWC is just maximally allocating resources, which is what they should do. Namely, out of areas where they have a monopoly protected by the violence the city of austin will do to any other cable company that tries to compete.... and into areas where they have to compete for customers.

But you don't hear this issue at election time. Why do people not hold their city council peeps accountable for imposing this overpriced monopoly on them?

My guess is that most don't realize it is a government created monopoly, and the ones who do, many think that there would be no cable if the city hadn't given those rights away as an incentive to install all the cable. (not the case... places where this doesn't happen, still get cable because it isn't that expensive to put in the cable.)

asmithmd1 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I am wondering how Time Warner is getting away with categorizing this guy as an independent contractor. He wears a company specified uniform, uses company supplied tools, and does jobs in the order specified by the company. This sounds like a clear-cut case of mis-catagorizing an employee as in independent contractor in order to avoid paying overtime.
praptak 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"He explains how Time Warner issues a specific screw driver which acts as a key to open cable boxes and how the previous owner stripped it trying to open the wrong kind of box; it's rendered useless. “You're telling me they knowingly sent you out with broken equipment?” All Bill can do is laugh to himself and give back a defeated, “Yep.”"

Separation of labor from ownership of (broken) means of production leads to hilarity. I bet Marx would have a chuckle over this.

lukev 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Wait. He first "hacks" the order form to make the "supply my own modem" checkbox available, and then complains that "Time Warner should have known, based on the options selected during my purchase, that I would supply my own modem and asked me personally to supply the MAC address and relevant information".

Can't have it both ways, man. Time Warner can be blamed for many things, but expecting them to seamlessly support an option they had disabled intentionally is a bit much. You're lucky they let you do it at all.

DanWaterworth 22 hours ago 2 replies      
PS: If you are in the Austin area and need a master carpenter, I know a guy who needs you just as much.

This line made me happy.

ebiester 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not destined to fail when they have a monopoly.

I can say, though, that Cox does a good job with the benefits of their actual workers. However, most of their workers are outsourced, and are treated the same way as in the article. This also means the actual employees have to fix up the subcontractors' mistakes, because of how badly their incentives are aligned.

Source: a family member who is a Cox employee. I've also known a Comcast employee who had decent benefits for a call center job, but whose authority was sorely limited which made doing his job difficult.

pasbesoin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope this doesn't backfire on Bill.

It puts me in mind of a story I heard this past weekend (for the second or third time -- hint, hint as to the experience's effect on the customer, to any cable co. "image" people happening to read this).

The person I spoke with ("the customer") told me how, transitioning from an outside antenna to cable TV, he had been very careful to tell the Comcast order taker that his installation should be classified as a "new" installation and not as a simple hook-up (the latter implying a pre-existing cable line to the property). The order taker seemed to have enough technical understanding to understand this and indicate they were recording the order for service installation as such.

When the technician arrived, he seemed quite competent, quickly assessed and understood the situation, and began executing a new installation including a new line from the pole.

However, he quickly started receiving calls from his supervisor, who was nasty and who started shouting at him so loudly -- including foul language -- that the customer could hear the supervisor's side of the conversation bleeding out of the technician's cell phone.

Apparently, despite this customer's care in placing the order and the order taker's reassurance that they understood what was needed, the order ended up in the order tracking system as a simple "hook-up".

There was nothing the technician could do about this, and he remained courteous with the customer and efficient in his work. But he was totally, abusively berated and dumped on by his supervisor.

The customer felt bad enough about this that he actually apologized, saying he was sorry the technician had to go through that.

In retrospect, he told me he wished he'd followed up with Comcast support until he hopefully might get through to a manager with sufficient authority to reprimand -- fire, preferably -- that supervisor. Someone who should not be managing anyone.

And yes, the technician was a contractor. Personally, I see so much of this, I think Congress should be made to pass a law forbidding these (Federally regulated, quasi-monopolies, after all) companies from using any contract workers. These companies have obviously abused their positions, including in their labor relations. Make all their employees full time, with benefits, and put the companies directly on the hook for such abuses.

When they need to make up the differences in expense, take it out of those companies' managements' hide. If you want an argument for that, what premium do -- or rather, don't -- they have to offer and pay to get management capable of managing a fucking monopoly (or the next thing to same)?

patja 15 hours ago 6 replies      
Isn't anyone else simply flabbergasted that the OP has never seen Blade Runner??

I'm not sure how being "too young" can be a valid excuse unless you are under 15 years old.

andyjohnson0 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm concerned that this article contains enough information for TimeWarner to identify Bill. I hope that he doesn't face any retribution.
tmccall1101 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Great story. Large businesses like TWC create systems in which they can uniformly control the process of their employees providing a bridge between their product and their customers. Unfortunately, rarely are these systems as fine-tuned as Apple has their "genius bar" set up, for example. They're usually more similar to the DMV, where the paperwork and step-by-step process provides an experience that attempts to create an equal experience for all customers (that also allows for business-specific necessities, such as keeping a huge group of constantly changing data organized to go along with the DMV example), but the experience ends up being more of an obstacle or burden than it providing things like efficiency and flexibility.

I guess what I'm saying is that TWC sees no advantage of providing a better system. It costs money to uproot the current system, and it also costs money to create and run a system as detail-oriented as companies like Apple. They still get people to buy their product (even intelligent, insightful ones like the author of the article), and the profit margin is probably so significant that they consider it unnecessary to make Bill's day easier. Something that probably sounds a lot like, "If Bill doesn't like his job, he can quit." Or, "If Steven (the author) doesn't like our product, he can find another place to give his business."

The real problem is that TWC understands full and well what they're doing. You think they don't get hundreds of phone calls every week from angry customers or disgruntled employees? The fact of the matter is that they have the upper hand in terms of what the author was pointing out.

I just feel bad for Bill, and the thousands of people like him. This sort of thing makes you feel lucky not to be forced to lead a life that includes a job that is just one huge up-hill battle (in all the wrong senses of the phrase).

Good luck to Bill. My favorite part was his notice at the end to anyone who needs a master carpenter. I hope somebody contacts him who read that.

Edit: after reading more posts, it's clear that a large part of "the problem" has to do with the industry itself and the players involved. I think we'd all love to see somebody uproot the whole industry and start from scratch.

haakon 19 hours ago 5 replies      
This is completely off-topic, but what is the deal with grey font colours on light backgrounds these days? It pointlessly makes it harder to read. I shouldn't have to open Firebug to change it to black before I start reading.
RexM 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I had an appointment scheduled with Time Warner in Austin, for Friday between the hours of 8AM and 9PM to fix my internet which has been randomly losing signal. I figured I could take a day off of work and try to get things done while the internet was up, which turned out to only be about 3 hours.

I got a call from the tech. at 7PM saying he was on his way. An hour later, after hearing nothing, I try to call him and get voice mail. I call Time Warner to see what happened and they said that I didn't answer the phone when he called... even though I spoke with him and told him I was home (and answered his questions about whether the internet was still out, three times.) I had to schedule for this Wednesday, where I'll have to take more time off of work to attempt to get this fixed.

I understand that the majority of the blame lies with Time Warner for allowing their field technicians to get overbooked and blamed for being late or missing jobs, but it's hard to not be upset at this particular field tech for saying he was on his way, and then not showing up and reporting it as a missed call.

njharman 21 hours ago 2 replies      
But he and time Warner didn't fail. He sucessfully installed your whatever and TW is getting your money.
allbombs 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, I sit in the same boat.. tethering on my 6 gig data plan, waiting for my internet technician, only 2 more sleeps to go

Bit off topic, but why aren't people crowdsourcing their internet connection in high rise buildings? I'm sure time warner and every other isp's would just love that

Hope Bill can find work through your post. Kudos.

johnchristopher 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> The only way I could remove the monthly modem rental fee in my order online was to view the code on Time Warner's site and edit a hidden part of the HTML for the appropriate checkbox to be visible. I've never had to ‘hack' an order form before.

I guess the "appropriate checkbox" was greyed out (no way I believe people are looking at the html in case there would be an hidden checkbox), then the author used firebug or something to make it visible and then submitted the form hoping the server on the other side is going to do something with the $post variable. Not that tricky but there is no way to confirm it's going to work as intended.
IANAL but I raise doubts about the legal validity of such tamperings with web forms.

RockyMcNuts 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Destined to be fired... now that the post about how horrible he thinks his employer is has gone viral.

Hope that carpentry thing works out.

Produce 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the wonderful world of corporations - where nothing makes sense, everything is late and the dumber you are, the higher you climb!
simplyinfinity 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I simply hate it when companies do that ! They don't take care of their employees and it all goes straight to hell ! * written while sitting in a uncomfortable chair , old keyboard and 5 year old pc ( i make websites ) // end of rant
rdl 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I've never met a technician (outside the government) who didn't have his own tools. This is probably why.
rickdale 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Time Warner seems like a company that suffers from being run by cooperate execs who dressage for fun. Besides totally ignoring the inconvenience that they place on each of their customers, they also clearly undervalue their employees. The biggest thing outside of this article that shows they are out of touch is their lack of ability to get a deal done with NFL for the NFL network and RedZone.

The NFL's RedZone network has changed the way Americans watch football (the biggest sport in America), yet 3 years into the network and Time Warner still has no deal. It's tiresome and another inconvenience for the customer.

nanijoe 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What does AppSumo do? It appears you first have to sign up to find out..
baddox 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Did I interpret this correctly? The technician saw the name Nebuchadnezzar and assumed it was a reference to a ship (perhaps from The Matrix) and not the infamous Chaldean emperor from the Tanakh?
PaulHoule 19 hours ago 1 reply      

I think of that stupid question, "Debit or Credit?"

The more I think about it, the more I see it as a hypnotic induction that prepares everybody for bad service. It's the perfect thing to get people used to the idea that they shouldn't experience customer delight, never.

niels_olson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Average return to work after inguinal hernia surgery:

worker's comp case: 6 weeks
self-employed: 2 days

lnanek2 18 hours ago 2 replies      
So they are overrun with customers, staff working their asses off already - and the author suggests putting work into supporting rare edge cases like customers bringing their own modem? Shouldn't they just remove that option entirely to streamline their flow, and ditch the ultra-rare customer who demands that? Sure, every customer wants a perfect experience super customized to their exact situation, but that's not how you run a business. Some of the biggest successes like Apple and McDonalds just pick some reasonable defaults, options, and cost per user levels and then that is that, no super advanced configuration, and the savings are huge. Just the lack of many different hardware configurations does wonders for Apple's software not running into problems and wonders for the hardware ordering cost savings (for the business).
recycleme 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This hits close to home. I tried getting internet service from TWC twice but they failed each time. The first time they couldn't find the cable output. Turned out it didn't exist. So I scheduled an appointment for a "wall drop" (creation of needed cable output), but the guy just showed up confused that I didn't have one asked me to schedule a wall drop.
lcargill99 7 hours ago 1 reply      
it didn't really fail. You were up after it was all over with. Fast, cheap or good - pick two.
piffey 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Two hours to hook up your cable connection? Oh the torture -- better blog about it.
Tesco Discount Barcodes, Cracked mtdevans.com
97 points by digitalclubb  14 hours ago   74 comments top 19
jgrahamc 13 hours ago 7 replies      
While it's cool to reverse engineer stuff like this and talk about the vulnerability, the final part of the blog post indicates that the person intends to 'test it'. This is just a 'modern' equivalent of the old scam of removing price labels (remember those) from cheap items and sticking them on expensive ones. That was commonplace enough that the labels themselves were made in multiple parts so that removing them was messy.

'Testing it' is a bad idea on two fronts: (a) it's fraud and (b) he's actually gone and told everyone he's going to do it.

If the supermarkets were losing a lot of money on this then I'd imagine they'd move to a more secure barcoding scheme.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the 'red' number was related to the weight of the item as this would be needed for the self-checkout tills.

sgk284 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So, he's swapping real bar codes with fake bar codes? I would not recommend publicly disclosing that you'll be defrauding a store. It's a lot more common than you'd think and there was even a Silicon Valley exec who recently got caught doing this: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/incredibly-wealt...
ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes, you can print your own barcodes and name your own price, yes its been done before [1] and you can and will get arrested. As this becomes more widespread the folks in shops will get better with their software.

[1] http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/VP-of-Palo-Altos-SAP-Ar...

highace 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Why bother paying at all? This is basically the same as just walking straight out the store with your goods. A guard won't accept a receipt that says your flat screen tv only cost 49p.
FuzzyDunlop 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to be a Tesco employee for a fair while, and it wasn't difficult to notice this pattern purely because those barcodes don't always scan (typically due to dodgy equipment).

It would often be the case that you couldn't see the whole code on the sticker, but could infer it by removing it and using the original barcode and a bit of guesswork.

I don't advocate the testing of this, and any observant member of staff will have no difficulty catching you out.

citricsquid 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Tesco frequently has attendants monitoring the self service checkouts; if someone sees that your items are going through for £0.01 (the prices are displayed on the monitoring screen that the attendant can see) you're probably going to have a bad time (banned from the store at the very least).

Not worth it...

omh 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The mention of an iPhone suggests a more elaborate version of the old "sticker" scam.

With a suitable smartphone app you could dynamically generate the appropriate barcode on screen, with a set discount (say, 50%). Then just hold your phone over the actual barcode as you scan each item.

This should be relatively hard to spot for any cashier watching, and the weights and stock etc. would all match up.

Of course the CCTV cameras are likely to see you and they're likely to spot what's going on soon enough to cross reference before the footage is wiped.

stordoff 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Testing this is rather a bad idea. It is quite likely that, if caught, the person would be convicted of theft (see R v Morris - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Morris;_Anderton_v_Burnside)
motoford 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like how the author feels the need to "dress up sophisticated" to steal merchandise. How very old school.

We need more of these gentlemen thieves here in the states.

markfenton 13 hours ago 0 replies      
If you really want to test it, surely raising the price by 1p is the best way? That way, you get an answer and you aren't stealing anything.
stephengillie 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar, simpler method is used by the deli, bakery, meat, seafood, and produce departments in most US grocery stores. Usually they use 2 sets of 6 digits for these bar codes, with the price as digits 8-11 in the bar code. The bar code doesn't work with items, such as holiday roasts, costing more than $100.

x x-xxxxx-x$$$$-x x

TazeTSchnitzel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For those unaware, Tesco is one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, if not the largest.

Edit: They also have international operations, but sometimes under different names. In the US they are "Fresh & Easy" according to Wikipedia.

splatzone 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This is cool but it's basically just theft, isn't it?
redact207 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Dear author,

you are an idiot.

You claimed to have "cracked" a barcode, but have merely interpreted some of the numbers. Of course this has been done theoretically as you haven't actually proved that it works.

And it won't work.

Why? Because it's unlikely that a complicated logistics chain such as Tesco that employs half a million employees worldwide and has banking and mobile subsidiaries would let the barcode dictate the price at the register, rather than call it up from their stock management database - the way all POS enabled stores run in the 21st century.

So in your giddy, sensationalist haste, I pray that you "discount" your TV to 1p and get stopped at the gates for sheer idiocy.


primatology 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Just in from Twitter (@mtdevans): "Chatting with a #Tesco insider, looks like they do store any discounts in a local db which is wiped every morning ~3am. #phew"
estel 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes, this does work, but it would be far easier to use the standard zero-weight "Grocery item" barcode that most supermarkets have (Sainsburys and Coop do) which prompts for a price with no checksum.

(* if you were just intending to scam your supermarket anyway...)

7952 11 hours ago 3 replies      
How do you know that it doesn't validate the discounted price against its database? Encrypting the barccode doesn't make it any more secure as you could simply swap with a completely different barcode. Encoding the price just makes it easier to develop handheld label printers.
progrock 8 hours ago 0 replies      
No mention here, of the obvious tie between your reciept and your debit card (assuming you can't use cash.) A nice audit trail. And you probably swiped your clubcard too.
nkohari 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Downvoted and flagged not for your opinion, but for your apparent lack of common decency. Go back to lurking and keep your casual discrimination to yourself.
Oracle lowers the flag on Fortress language project theregister.co.uk
52 points by protomyth  10 hours ago   20 comments top 4
Ralith 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting that the challenge they felt particularly worth calling out wasn't about solving hard algorithms or design problems, but rather making those solutions function on the limited JVM platform. Perhaps this will give pause to the next language developer tempted to target the JVM for no reason other than its popularity.
mindcrime 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Bummer, I was really interested in Fortress. There really seemed to be some interesting stuff going on there. Ah well, maybe some of the research will help with Java or something else down the road.

Or, perhaps some plucky startup will pick up the technology and next week we'll see a headline "Startup raises $4M to develop Fortress" or something of that ilk.

dkd 10 hours ago 3 replies      
AFAIK, Guy Steele is in this project. What'll happen to him?
caycep 10 hours ago 1 reply      
i thought for a moment Oracle was going after Dwarf Fortress...
Distribution of colors in movie posters between 1914 and 2012 vijayp.ca
227 points by fallenhitokiri  1 day ago   82 comments top 27
alister 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I am awe-struck with what people with a passion manage to get done "in a couple weeks" just for fun.

I can't imagine that I could have hired someone to do the same analysis, research, programming, scripting, graphics creation, and web site layout for anything less than tens of thousands of dollars. (Or is my intuition wrong about that?)

aw3c2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
While beautiful, only a seriously limited amount of movies was analysed for this and the selection seems weird. The year 2000 for example only has 48 movies in this. I am not sure you can interpret anything from it.
ColinWright 23 hours ago 3 replies      
In the associated blog post he says:

I downloaded ~ 35k thumbnailed-size images
(yay wget -- “The Social Network” inspired
me to not use curl)

Could some who's seen the film enlighten me on why wget is better than curl?


ZacharyPitts 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I immediately starting scanning the colors to see if this blog post from a couple of years ago was vindicated about all movies being teal and orange:


It is.

bane 18 hours ago 2 replies      
The eventual settling on teal and orange is interesting. I'm curious what the feedback loop was that told the marketing department "this is what will make more money". It seems such a subtle thing, and I would think red (as an alarming color) or green (as the color we see best) would end up figuring more prominently.
fallenhitokiri 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd be interested seeing someone (not fit enough in this topics to do it myself) applying color psychology and mapping it to the years / events / industry.

Could explain the shift from warmer colors to more technical ones (just speculating)

hammerbrostime 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting to watch the color gamut open up as color printing technologies improve over time. Blue/Cyan is the hardest pigment to work with, and you can see the blue-range grow over time as the technology to support it improves.
ekianjo 1 day ago 1 reply      
More red/yellow before, more blue/violet in recent history. Cool data set, but the question is "so what?".
ricardobeat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Ha, you can see the teal trend getting stronger in the 2000s. I wonder why the colorfulness of 1919-1921 was so quickly reverted?
jdavid 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to combine this information with boxofficemojo and adjust the distribution of colors based on box office revenue assuming that box office revenue correlates to mindshare, you would have a closer map to what people 'thought' a movie poster would look like in that year.
gulbrandr 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Related: http://moviebarcode.tumblr.com/

Shows an entire movie in a single image.

kator 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like Star Wars posters messed up 1977!?


yread 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting that there are no black columns ie no colors which consistently wouldn't be used. Green is represented very little though
NanoWar 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder what happened in 1921. It was out of control!
mbq 20 hours ago 0 replies      
But why a stacked barplot? This way you can easily see the dynamics in reds but the apparent amount of blue is quite deceiving. IMO a better idea is fixed hue grid and modulated saturation for the counts.
presidentender 16 hours ago 1 reply      
What happened in 1977?
vernon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Fascinating viewing. Wonder what changed us from being all sunshine and light to being all doom and gloom.
I blame the Dark Knight.
Aloha 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much this adjusts for natural fading in prints.
jeffool 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I find the near constant use of red interesting. Given all we've been told of red and marketing (think cereal boxes), I figured it would grown.
fritzvd 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wasn't this here before? It's still cool though :)
JacobIrwin 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm curious about the distribution of ink costs (by color) during the same timespan - just how close that correlation is.
squarecat 14 hours ago 0 replies      
OK, so who's going to do the correlation with en vogue colors from the same years (fashion, paint, cars, etc.)?
splicer 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see The Matrix. I wonder if it was left out because it's on outlier (too green/yellow).
Erifcit 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If they were scanned in recently, doesn't this just prove that print materials do indeed yellow over time?
haddr 21 hours ago 0 replies      
but hey, isn't there any color corruption during scanning/digitalisation of those posters?
squarecat 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, so they all fall on the visible spectrum?
five_star 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool! Color combinations form sinusoid throughout the history.
An Amazon Education bits.blogs.nytimes.com
15 points by iProject  3 hours ago   4 comments top 3
wyclif 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Unimpressive. $2,000/yr really isn't much, given the current cost of education. What they should do is offer full reimbursement for STEM training to employees who qualify. Now that would make me consider working for Amazon.

This only confirms my opinion of Amazon as a company that likes to be stingy with salaries and benefits.

primatology 1 hour ago 1 reply      
From the FAQ:

> What are the maximum benefits under the program?
> Amazon will pay up to 95% of the tuition, textbook and associated fees up to a maximum of $2,000 per year for four years.

Tuition for an associates degree is usually upwards of $5000. I was impressed at first; now I'm deeply disappointed and see this as little more than a PR stunt.

dinkumthinkum 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That's pretty bogus. Little more than a PR stunt. Honestly, I would have more respect for Amazon if they just didn't have such a program or made it basically secret rather than treating it as a call to action for other corps to "copy."
HTML5 Tutorials for Keeping Your Design Skills Tight noupe.com
22 points by followmylee  4 hours ago   discuss
Google Begins Practically Begging You to Use Your Real Name on YouTube betabeat.com
103 points by iProject  15 hours ago   84 comments top 24
morsch 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I got that prompt recently and I want to emphasize just how obnoxious it is. I'm still really angry about this.

I wanted to quickly fire off a comment, something I almost never do. Instead, and completely unexpectedly, I get a scary modal dialog "Start using your full name on YouTube". Really, that's bad enough as it is. I didn't interact in a way that'd make me expect any kind of dialog (e.g. logging in/out or a major account modification). And there is no easy way to dismiss the dialog without making a decision, no X in a corner, clicking the background does nothing. Also really, really bad. Opening another YouTube window doesn't help, either, you just get another copy of the dialog.

But the reaction to declining the request -- which is the non-default, non-highlighted option -- is just outrageous. Instead of simply going away silently, or maybe telling me where to activate the feature if I change my mind, it tells me it'll show my real name anyway, but just in a preview mode that's only visible to me, if I just click the default, highlighted button. That's not exactly the opposite of what I wanted it to do when I declined their unprovoked offer, but it's pretty damn close. And again, there is no easy way out, you have to chose a reason why you dare refuse them, with none of the options being "I decline to answer" or "Go to hell"; the closest thing being "I'm not sure, I'll decide later", which I chose and which I expect will just mean I'll be assaulted again in the near future.

This is the kind of hostile user experience I expect on cheap travel websites and other scummy parts of the net, but not on a Google property and certainly not on a website I visit a lot.

patio11 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This isn't about Youtube, this is simply use of a property with a massive userbase owned by Google to promote its strategic priority du jour, which is getting traction for Google+. This is hardly the first time Google has done this -- for example, they'll often bootstrap key products with "Oh yeah, we have a mortal lock on navigation on the Internet." That's why Google Video (and later Youtube) got such prominent billing in the search results, why Chrome has a front-page-of-the-Internet banner ad on the homepage of the company that doesn't do banner ads, etc.

+ Edit to add: A quick check of a few diverse searches show that Youtube is substantially less prominent than I remember it being.

stellar678 15 hours ago 7 replies      
Am I the only person who really enjoys YouTube comments? It's obviously not the place to go for high-brow discussion.

But the fact that it's a no-holds-barred space means that occasionally some genuinely hilarious and unexpected stuff pops up. I really wouldn't want that to change...

z92 14 hours ago 1 reply      
> UPDATE: A YouTube representative got back to us and said: YouTube users with existing Google+ profiles see this option when they comment or upload a video.

I am glad that I decided to delete my G+ account when news started to float that Google was forcing everyone to use real name in G+ and was closing accounts in cases of un-cooperation, which unintentionally affected someone's gmail account.

chmike 14 hours ago 3 replies      
What is the rationale of such demand ?

This reminds me Schneir's objection to biometric identification. What do we do if it's compromized ? There is no way we could change it.

One should obviously be able to publish a video that we made without disclosing our identity. Supose I film my cat in my living room showing also the nice HiFi installation behind it. If it is published under my name, it would be like publishing my address on the HiFi.

If as a teenager I film and publish a party where I wouldn't be at my advantage, I don't want that my name is associate to it forever.

I must be able to reset my Internet image and reputation. Especially for young people. Google is already very reluctant to remove references on demand.

At least this now gives something competitors can differentiate with.

We need a place where we can create a virtual identity we can throw away. An identity that we can use as signature for publishing comments, articles and videos.

aestetix 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does this keep coming up? Google seems to not learn.

1. There is no such thing as a real name. You might have a legal name, but they'd need to validate it somehow if contested. Up until now, Google has just been suspending names that didn't look "real" to them.

2. How do they validate this? Do they expect you to send a copy of an ID? What if you photoshop it? What is their data retention policy? Do they have procedures in place for handling sensitive data?

3. Most important, using a legal name does not somehow make the conversation more valid, or more useful. I have yet to see a strong argument that using a name on a government issued ID somehow makes your discourse better. There are countless arguments against this.

I've had to deal with this before. Here's an idea of what happens to you if you run afoul of this policy:

stfu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I gave up commenting on YouTube at that point where Google forced me to auto login with my Gmail account. It is already bad enough that they can trace my viewing behavior. But I can see their side of the story. YouTube is holding a massive marketshare in the online video segment and they might have no problem with a few percent less comments when at the same time the overall quality of the comments might rise.
runjake 15 hours ago 3 replies      
What's the point of forcing "real names", when they're not forcing REAL names? Google will throw a fit if I use Red Ghost, but not if I use John Smith. What value does that actually bring? A weak perception of legitimacy?
thehotelambush 14 hours ago 5 replies      
The real reason for this isn't to improve comment quality; it's so they can store information on you more effectively and then sell it to the government. Facebook has a leg up on this because of how it started, but Google wants to level the playing field more and more.
adrianwaj 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Since when does real name equate to a better quality comment? Perhaps it is more about Big Brother tracking people's points-of-view on controversial issues? Or is it for better targeted ads?

I am uninclined to comment with my real name generally because my opinion changes, and I change over time.

I recently left a FB blog comment simply as "I like it" and felt almost uncomfortable with that. Does it matter what my real name is or what I look like? HN shows that anonymity works with just modding and the option to reveal one's identity. Why doesn't YouTube tally user comments and comment scores if they want to improve quality.. that's why I think this is a Big Brother or ad push.

Comments that self-destruct after a set period are another answer to comment quality, or ones that revert to a pseudonym, either fixed or random after a period of time.

dacilselig 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the time where Blizzard wanted to do something similar for their forums as people would troll often. From what I remember, there was a huge backlash. They seem to be trying to take a safer approach by suggesting you do it versus forcing you. I wonder if they had that incident in the back of their mind when taking this approach.

For those interested:

stevewillows 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Without the real names -- or at least names that aren't 'basketballstar69' -- Google won't have the same perception of authenticity as facebook.

They should reward 'real names' (first, last) with more Drive space and an opt-out of the nickname option.

thinkbohemian 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The only thing stopping me from linking my channel to my G+ account is them changing my username to my real name. I've built an online brand around that username and changing it would mean i'm harder to find on Youtube. (funny enough that name is different from my HN name, since I can't change my HN username and don't want to lose my Karma.)
joe_the_user 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a youtube account in my "real name".

I use only to satisfy my particular taste in videos. I have stale old accounts for other Google stuff but I never use them and don't care about any of it except to browse videos. Google still keeps demanding my cell phone number. constantly. I use my real with the youtube account but I actually don't want anyone to see anything I do there.

Google's opinion that it should be my world is quite obnoxious.

munin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
comments on youtube are a cesspool?

why not remove the comments feature?

Jach 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I never got the prompt, just a broken reply button that took no action. Searching for others with the problem revealed it's due to wanting my real name. I went through my settings looking for an option to use my real name, since I don't care, but couldn't find one. On a screen that was supposed to contain that option for other people, it was not there for my account. Solution? Delete all G+ data and log out and back in to Youtube.
millzlane 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't feel they begged. They asked, I said no, they then asked why, and then I answered. Man that was simple.

I applaud Google. At least they don't do things without your permission. I'm looking at you Facebook.

petitmiam 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I use my real name online for professional work-related things.

I use a username for non-work related things like posting a videos of toy animals to youtube.

The way things are headed, I guess I need to invent a "real name" for my online personal persona, to replace my username.

lazyjones 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Youtube has had many issues lately that should affect its popularity, from legitimate content disappearing because of some (non-)copyright holders having tools to "delete first, ask later", to issues with Google harrassing users to do things of no benefit to them. I am also getting "this video is currently not available" messages frequently because I don't have a browser with H.264 (which Google was supposed to drop in favour of free alternatives? Go convert uploaded video then...). Youtube has reached a dangerous annoyance level, seems like a good time for competitors to grow.
ww520 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Youtube has problems lately. It has suddenly started to send me notification emails everyday non-stopped. The unsubscribe links had no effect. Even after I have unsubscribed a number of times, the spam kept coming. Finally I deleted my account but the spams kept coming in anyway. Of course marking the spamming emails as spam in GMail doesn't work. Worse there's no way to contact Youtube to report the problem.
leif 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Often the simplest solution is the best: don't comment on YouTube videos.
yuhong 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally I am not for a real name policy, but I do prefer that people post under their real name if possible.
johnbenwoo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
YouTube comments may be the lowest common denominator of the internet, but at least they're a common denominator.
Sally Ride, First American Woman In Space, Is Dead npr.org
48 points by cbsmith  9 hours ago   6 comments top 2
jgrahamc 9 hours ago 2 replies      
RIP Sally Ride. She was a personal inspiration as a child because I saw a woman going into space as an indication of the opening up of space to 'normal' people. She was also a scientist and not a military person.
kadjar 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Sally Ride comes out as a lesbian in her obituary: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/first-female-us-astrona...
Referly (YC S12) Launches API: Now Any Site Can Have A Referral Program techcrunch.com
66 points by casemorton  14 hours ago   21 comments top 10
shootthemoon 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd be overly cautious with this company. I've had over the minimum required to cash out for a month, and they will not let me cash out my account. The claim is that there are still in beta, so they won't pay you yet. Will they ever exit beta? Will I ever be able to cash out?
jkuria 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I am also not sure how "customer acquisition as a service" is different from the dozens of affiliate networks out there. NeverBlue, Azoogle, Ads4Dough, Epic etc.
"Businesses get to define how much they are willing to pay for a sign up"? This is old hat to experienced affiliate marketers.
kposehn 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. That API could be very useful, but they're going to have to watch out for BlackHatters - I bet they are already looking for ways to exploit their system.
strooltz 13 hours ago 1 reply      
when is referly planning on allowing referrers to claim rewards? re: http://cl.ly/image/1E1H381q0p1N
lionheart 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome.

I was just about to write a basic referral system for my site but this looks like it fits the bill.

I'm going to give it a try.

jhuckestein 8 hours ago 1 reply      
How far along is the ruby API? I'd throw this up on my business for a little just to test it out, see what happens
minouye 13 hours ago 1 reply      
What percentage does Referly take per payout?
mrschwabe 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Instead of the button, is there a way I can just give each customer a unique referral link?

I'd much prefer to simply give them a link they can pass along instead of requiring them to click on a button off my website.

mise 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the full concept. How does this compare with platforms that allow you to set up affiliates?
whymsicalburito 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a way to send users rewards that are not straight cash? We would like to reward users with coupon codes, or links to pages where they can select a free t-shirt and such. Is this ability on the roadmap?
"therefore, starting now, waffles are now $450.00 each" backalleywaffles.com
76 points by danso  3 hours ago   34 comments top 10
staunch 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't blame Groupon if my business was so fragile that a single Groupon campaign (that I setup!) could kill it. Little restaurants like this go out of business every single day. They probably turned to Groupon hoping it would save them and instead it hastened their demise. It feels better to blame someone than take personal responsibility for a failure.
spitx 1 hour ago 0 replies      
On Andrew Mason and Eric Lefkosky :

"Groupon's chairman, Eric Lefkofsky has a history of financial scandal.

One time he sold a startup called Starbelly to a bricks-and-mortar company that later went bankrupt.

In a lawsuit that followed, an email from Lefkofsky surfaced. In it he wrote: "Lets start having fun... lets get funky... let's announce everything... let's be WILDLY positive in our forecasts... lets take this thing to the extreme... if we get wacked [sic] on the ride down-who gives a shit... THE TIME TO GET RADICAL IS NOW... WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE..."

Years later, Lefkofsky hired a contract worker named Andrew Mason.

In Mason, he discovered a naive genius and gave him the money start what everyone thought would be a legitimate business.

But then Mason stumbled into a business with an explosively growing top-line (not bottom line or even middle line), and " so believe the conspiracy theorists " Lefkofsky saw another opportunity to be "wildly positive" for profit, even if it meant fudging accounting here and there.

So Groupon called itself profitable when it wasn't. It moved marketing expenses into capital costs. It confused net and gross revenues. And that's just what it got caught doing.

And when it was caught, Groupon's line was: oops, that was a dumb mistake. And while the rest of us rubes believed them, conspiracy theorists say Groupon's people are actually "dumb like a fox."
In this view, the reason Lefkofsky insists that Mason be CEO is that Mason is young, naive, and plausibly prone to innocent mistakes.

These people believe the reason Google exec Margo Georgiadis only spent a few months at the company is that she came in, looked around, freaked out, and got out.

These suspicious folks will say: Lefkofsky and company may have believed they were bending rules in order to get Groupon to a point where it could become a legitimate business with clean accounting, but that's still fraud."

Source: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-04-03/tech/31279229...

damian2000 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I agree that Groupon's practices here may be beneath contempt, but noone forced this business owner to sell his products via Groupon. A tiny bit of research on the net will tell you what to expect.

Many business owners view these voucher offers as solely a publicity exercise and fully expect to make a loss, with the hope of gaining new customers in the long term (whether it actually works out like that is debatable).

CamperBob2 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Update August 14, 2012: Turns out waffles are a Veblen good. Who knew? Also, it turns out that it takes way too long to order a new Ferrari.
dbecker 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
He hates groupon. We get it.

But his customers had no idea that Groupon is slow to reimburse him. I'm surprised he doesn't show a little contrition for screwing them (and himself) by signing up for Groupon.

cypherpunks01 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Does it actually take three months to get groupons fully reimbursed, or is this some kind of anomaly?
thechut 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I get that groupon is shitty. But I'm very confused about the mosaic part... Can anybody provide more context?
dangrover 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I thought this was a satire on the app store/Sparrow discussion when I read it, until I got to the bottom.
Dylan16807 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Oh well, more business for the free waffle stands.
rodglez 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Does it even matter that it takes three months? Most groupons are valid for more than three months. Even though I assume most are used within the first month, its still not all of them.
       cached 24 July 2012 07:02:01 GMT