hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    23 Aug 2012 News
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Selling $2,000+ Worth Of My Unfinished Book planscope.io
46 points by bdunn  2 hours ago   32 comments top 9
thibaut_barrere 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Money â€" cold, hard cash â€" on the other hand. That's the ultimate form of validation."

This is priceless especially considering how much effort goes into writing a book or creating a SaaS product.

danso 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Great post...it also introduced me to this book, Exceptional Ruby: http://exceptionalruby.com/ Buying it right now.
Sodaware 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The lesson here: The best way to sell stuff is by selling stuff.

Look at what's involved:

* Guest posts / articles to become known as an expert

* Emailing a list of interested parties

* AdWords, preferably in a campaign that can scale

* Twitter and other social media

Learning to write good copy, or finding someone to do it for you, will have an impact on your business. I still get a trickle of traffic (that converts well) from an article I wrote over 6 years ago. I'd much rather spend time adding "one more feature", but a few hours spent writing quality content will have a much larger impact on the bottom line.

lutusp 21 minutes ago 2 replies      
I hate to sound old-fashioned, but this puts the cart before the horse. Authors should have a book available for sale before accepting delivery payments. Ask any publisher how this sort of thing usually works out.
brackin 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Impressive stuff, although the book promotion page looks slightly off. Reminds me of those 'free make money' ebook pop-up's I got in 2005.
K2h 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
That looks interesting enough that I sent a link to a friend. Sometimes making to HN front page does pay.

update: She bought it last week.

kayoone 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This post is great marketing for mentioned unfinished book. The HN frontpage is probably the perfect target audience, well put!
manmal 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I am one of those 57 buyers.. I stumbled across the book after having seen the link in another article that was on HN. HN is the right audience for this book indeed :)
alanmackenzie 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I would quite happily preorder a copy of your book but there's not enough information to feel comfortable about parting with $39.

Is this an ebook or in dead tree format?
Do you ship internationally?

VMware launches Fusion 5 appleinsider.com
23 points by brolewis  1 hour ago   26 comments top 5
nilsbunger 1 hour ago 9 replies      
I'm a bit annoyed, I just paid $50 to upgrade to the Lion version last year, plus $50 for Fusion 3 upgrade the year before that, and now I have to pay again?

My single Fusion license has cost me $150 over the last 3 years! Thanks a lot VMware!

mgkimsal 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
just bought 4 last month (used virtualbox for a lot of stuff, but had some proprietary vmware machines that were a real pain to try to run in vbox). $49 for purchase of vmware fusion 4. Fine. But now... I can upgrade to fusion 5 for $49... or just buy fusion 5 for... $49. Annoying. Yes, it's all in my head, but an upgrade price the same as a 'regular' price leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
fredleblanc 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
Have they added the ability to prevent that darn menu helper thing from loading in the menu bar? That's all I really want in an upgrade.
mootothemax 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks like Workstation's been bumped up a version number as well, now standing at version 9:


eli 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The VMWare store still shows version 4...

But if I'm reading this correctly, they added back in an upgrade discount, which I think was missing with the 4 release.

Edit: here's the proper link http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/overview.html

What HN Users Use (45% Mac, 63% Chrome) dangrossman.info
45 points by johnx123-up  2 hours ago   17 comments top 11
aw3c2 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
More accurately it would be "analysis of user-strings of people's browsers whose referrer was hacker news when visiting my website"
dazzawazza 1 hour ago 0 replies      
To be clear it's what HN Users that are interested in a web technology use.... and surprise surprise there are a lot of Macs in that sector.

If you posted something interesting to games developers I'd wager a lot more Windows PCs and a lot few Macs.

duck 1 hour ago 1 reply      
From my Hacker Newsletter project (http://hackernewsletter.com) I can say that about 70% of HN users use Gmail.
logn 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised Windows users outnumber Linux users. I'd like to see a breakdown as to how this changes by time of day. I'd suspect Windows users are in second place because of the workplace. At night I bet linux gets a boost.
qbproger 35 minutes ago 1 reply      
I was surprised to see that iOS is beating firefox. While this is just one website, I hadn't realized firefox had dropped so much in the ranks. It's still my browser of choice.
brink 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Internet Explorer didn't even make the list for browsers. I'm not really surprised, but as a web developer it's always nice to be reassured that it's dying/dead.
Kilimanjaro 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Less than 1% IE users is great news!
BCM43 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Will this still collect the data if someone is running no-script?
tankbot 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting disparity between OS X users and Safari users.
ghost91 51 minutes ago 1 reply      
And people without javascript or blocking w3counter are also not shown
filipemonte 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
hope to see all the web like this!
Paralympic athletes who harm themselves to perform better bbc.co.uk
21 points by darrhiggs  2 hours ago   10 comments top 5
chimeracoder 17 minutes ago 1 reply      
Part of what makes watching people with disabilities compete in events so heartwarming to watch is being able to share in their victory.

But what kind of victory is it?

I used to wrestle competitively, and I still believe that it's the most underrated sport, partly for the following reason:

Wrestling is undeniably a team sport - matches are scored for the entire team, and the support and camaraderie between teammates is not an empty gesture; I can't imagine a successful team that lacks this. But on the other hand, when you and your opponent are on the mat for your six minutes, you're the only one fighting for your team - all the pressure is on you and you alone.

Most importantly, this makes victories personal. You can win your match even if the team loses, and vice versa. You can lose your match and still help the team win (by keeping the margin of victory low, which impacts the score). You can have a personal triumph, and your teammates will share in that, regardless of the outcome of the team's score.

I know less about the Paralympics than the Special Olympics (and yes, I know they're different), but to me, both always stood out to me as wonderful reminders of the true importance of sportsmanship - not athleticism, but sportsmanship. Part of that is about treating your opponent with respect, which is how we usually hear the word, but part of it is about treating yourself with respect. A dishonorable victory may help your team/country, but for you personally, it's a defeat. On the other hand, being able to overcome a personal struggle, even if you don't "win" the match, qualifies as a victory in my book, and as a spectator, I like being able to celebrate that with the athlete.

Knowing that somebody is artificially harming their body in order to boost some artificial metric (like their race time), or even to gain an edge over their opponent - that's not a good way to treat yourself as an athlete. But that robs me of my vicarious joy as well. And that's a horrible way to treat your teammate.

freehunter 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
The entire paralympic games baffles me. Injuries which cause handicaps are incredibly diverse. The winner will be the one with the injuries that cause the least amount of disruption to their physical capabilities. I applaud the athletes who refuse to let tragic circumstances get in the way of the enjoyment of their sport, but having a level playing field in the Olympics is about who has the most performance out of a set of extraordinary but roughly equal human beings. It seems hard to get that same level of equality in the paralympics.

Does anyone have any insight into how they match competitors to ensure a level playing field? Would someone with a normal heart rate increase ever be matched against someone with a spinal injury preventing normal heart rate increase, which would basically require this kind of pain training?

jilebedev 45 minutes ago 1 reply      
> When able-bodied competitors engage in hard physical activities like running or swimming, blood pressure and heart rate increase automatically. Athletes with spinal injuries do not get that response.

Can anyone explain why a spinal cord injury would render a human unable to raise their blood pressure through strenuous physical exercise?
It doesn't seem to make sense.

mhb 21 minutes ago 1 reply      
How can a quadriplegic be a climber?
solox3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is sad. This is not how you win, and your victory is not worth the glory.
Our favorite "forgotten tech" arstechnica.com
26 points by sp332  2 hours ago   36 comments top 9
DavidAdams 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
My favorite forgotten tech is the Garmin iQue, which is a PalmOS-based handheld GPS unit. Because of its color screen, its battery life wasn't great, so it wasn't suitable for backcountry use, but as a dash-mounted GPS is was great. While other GPS units at the time required you to navigate through confusing menus to enter an address or find a point of interest, the iQue allowed me to use Grafitti handwriting recognition, which was a lot faster.


fusiongyro 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Oh man. I went through like four MiniDisc portables and had that awful Sharp MD component that could dupe a CD to MD at 4x. I can't tell you how many hours I spent spinning a dial to choose alphabetic characters so all the tracks would be properly titled. My dream for years was to get an in-dash MD receiver. I wonder how much longer I would have used them if I had actually managed to do that. They were just so cool. A terrible waste of space and technology, but really damn cool. I actually thought about getting another one last year, just for nostalgia, but wound up not--even though they can be had for like $20-40 on eBay.

Around the same time I was trying to run BeOS as my desktop. I would have liked to have developed for it, but at the time I was just barely grasping Python and C++ with threading really wasn't within reach for me. I'm happy Haiku has been getting press and may try to run it in a VM (haven't had much luck with that in the past) but there was something really liberating about running an OS on the metal that booted in ten seconds. Everything was so snappy. Of course, you couldn't do much with it, but what you could do, you could do really well. :)

peterwwillis 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
Floppy disks, of the 3.5" variety, were way more useful than Zip disks to me. You could get huge packs of them for cheap and distribute your files with zip or rar, and every computer had the drive. With Zip you'd have to lug around your dad's lone drive with parallel port cable to use it on general computers and wait a year to copy your files. Sure I could carry around Zipslack in my pocket, but where could you boot it?!

Developing on floppy disks also taught me about embedded applications and operating systems. I built some weird stuff. Floppy routers, floppy X11 net terminals, memory-resident openMosix clusters, voice-activated car entertainment and navigation systems, rescue disks, minimal network packet filters, system management daemons, even CGI applications in C (which turns out to be a horrible idea).

tmh88j 1 hour ago 6 replies      
How is the TI-83 forgotten technology? Go to any college or high school classroom and you'll find plenty of them, albeit the 84 and 89 are becoming more common.
smacktoward 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
The Vadem Clio was brilliant! Glad to see it getting some love here.
jonhohle 1 hour ago 3 replies      
This reads like my life 10 years ago. Running BeOS with a zip drive sneaker net. Apple had the hot swappable bays much earlier than 2000, I remember using them as early as '98; compaq had the feature as well (floppy drive or LS120).

The one thing in that list that I'm sad to have missed was minidisc. It still sets off my nastolgia meter.

What about dial-up modems, IRQ settings, and serial ports?

kstenerud 1 hour ago 0 replies      
MO disks caught on and remained popular in Japan for decades. Their popularity has only started to wane recently.
aw3c2 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Full title is 'Our favorite "forgotten tech"â€"from BeOS to Zip Drives', much more descriptive than what sp332 submitted.
awayand 1 hour ago 0 replies      
lets not forget the palm. combined with intellisync it was truly the best thing on earth.
The innovations of Internet Explorer nczonline.net
82 points by kalyanganjam  6 hours ago   44 comments top 9
wrath 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Say what you want about Microsoft and IE (I'm expecting Microsoft to be bashed as usual in this thread), but for those of us who were developing for the web in the early 2000s IE was way richer in features that any other browser. The event model and the styling capabilities were better and best of all MSDN actually had documentation. There's a reason why IE6 was adopted so much. It "was" good.

Others with better ideas came along and made the web development experience better, but I agree that IE started it all. I have no idea if the web would be better or worst without IE. I would expect that someone else (Netscape??) would have played the role of IE if it didn't exist and we would be stuck in a similar situation. Remember that in the early 2000s developers that called themselves web developers had ZERO experience.

There weren't any standards back then and since many of us had to start writing intranets and websites, and since you could do more with IE6 we used it.

pavs 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Almost every major browsers had some kind of contributions that we take today for granted.

Also: http://www.slashgeek.net/2012/06/08/5-features-opera-browser...

kakuri 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
While praising IE, let us not forget that MS only innovated enough to displace other web browsers, leveraging its Windows near-monopoly to saturate the market with IE. Dominance achieved, competitors obliterated, MS was content to let the world live with IE6 for eternity, and only with the rise of Firefox and Webkit-based browsers did MS finally deign to do something (althought not much) for the web with IE9.
erez 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I remember asking the web-devs at the company I used to work for several years ago why do they support IE only, and their reaction was that they will not be able to pull off all the neat tricks they can pull off in IE in any other browser. Their reaction to any suggestion of standards was "I don't care about standards, if that means I can't do whatever IE enables me to do".

Is that innovation? Some would say yes. I think that most of these only became innovative once they began to be available to larger audiences, which coincides with the rise of Firefox and later on Chrome.
Also, most of the conception of IE as non-innovative and stagnant came from the 5 years gap between IE6 and IE7 (and the added 3 years between IE7 and the real "new IE", IE8), during which Opera and Firefox carried the innovation torch. Most of IE's innovations came when it was fighting the browser wars, pre IE5.

esbwhat 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the reason why I'm scared of google pushing chrome so hard
coopaq 2 hours ago 2 replies      
MS stopped others (Netscape) from innovating. IE only ran on Windows* IE 5 on Mac was crap and maybe antitrust avoiding effort. IE was created at all costs to stop the web browser from becoming an application platform that competed with Windows. MS did everything to keep users from using competing browsers. MS tried to make it impossible to uninstall from Windows. MS tried to keep developers from creating rich applications in the web browser and kept IE6 in stagnant mode for almost a decade until competition arrived. Microsoft won. This stuff should be fact entered in Wikipedia.
christopherscot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a coworker who, although generally horrible at his job, despised by his colleagues, and only really concerned about his next pay raise would - on occasion - remind us that HE was the one who wrote a small piece of critical software we still used to this day.
Toshio 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm particularly offended by this statement: "we wouldn't have the web as we know it today if not for its contributions".

In a parallel universe where microsoft never existed, the people who came up with XMLHttpRequest did their innovative work at Netscape and the web today is light years ahead.

emilis_info 3 hours ago 4 replies      
And Hitler built the Autobahns, shouldn't we say thanks to him for that?

Also the rebels where never able to build something as marvelous as the Death Star :-)

Success, efficiency and morality are three different things. Though many people mix them up all the time. If someone (or something) is efficient and successful that doesn't mean we should overlook the harm (or good) it is doing.

One-molecule-thick material has big advantages mit.edu
13 points by maxko87  1 hour ago   7 comments top 3
chime 50 minutes ago 2 replies      
This may be a stupid question but can you even see something that is just one molecule thick? Is it mostly transparent?
Spytap 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the likelihood is of this being a solution for Augmented Reality contact lenses. The article mentions the possibility of it being used to build displays for eyeglasses, but that depends on a number of factors like pixel density that I can never tell whether reporters take into account.
Eduardo3rd 18 minutes ago 2 replies      
I'm starting to grow a little bit numb toward all the revolutionary materials science papers that I've seen since starting grad school. I don't mean to malign the work done here, but if I had a dollar for every paper I've read that claimed to be the foundation for a new class of devices I'd be rich enough to start my own seed fund.

When will we see some actual commercialization of this nano tech? The nano future has been five years away for the last 20 years. Let's make some devices already.

An IP lawyer on patents, trolls, and entrepreneurship inc.com
16 points by VanL  2 hours ago   8 comments top 2
davidpayne11 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sad, that no one is talking about Apple when referencing to abuse of patents, especially.
finkin1 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great info. Thanks!
Using RubyMotion to Build JavaScript Based iOS Apps willprater.me
21 points by jballanc  2 hours ago   6 comments top 3
jcromartie 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sorry, Ruby fans. There is absolutely nothing special about this. It's a basic iOS app that just bootstraps Cordova.

There are no Ruby idioms in use that save code over the Objective-C implementation. There are no blocks, map, inject, hash or array literals, etc.. Sure, you don't have to write a .h file.

The Ruby code here could be translated line-for-line into Objective-C and built with the standard toolchain, without another $200 toolchain. And guess what? You still need to know the Objective-C API to write the app delegate and view controllers.

RubyMotion makes no sense here.

programminggeek 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I like PhoneGap, but I am not really sure why you would do this with RubyMotion when for most PhoneGap apps, you really don't need to go much outside of what there are already plugins for. In my experience, getting a plugin working in Obj-C is not terrible.
ndonnellan 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I haven't seen many articles mention Titanium (appcelerator) as an alternative to RubyMotion; you could skip the ruby step and just start in Javascript. Also, their documentation and tutorial videos are substantial and well done.
How YC S12 Companies Make Money imranghory.org
40 points by ig1  5 hours ago   11 comments top 6
dkrich 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
So one out of four have no business model? Interesting.
petenixey 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Great info, thanks for compiling this.

It would be fascinating to see a trendline across batches - do you feel you'd have the data to do that?

Swizec 4 hours ago 2 replies      
From a casual look at the data it seems like B2B and B2c are almost inversed. None is the most popular with B2C and Subscription with B2B.

What makes subscriptions attractive to businesses, but apparently not to consumers?

smoyer 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to correlate your data with whether the company receives funding and,if so, in what amount.
brador 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone have a similar analysis for previous year intakes?

Would be interesting to see which business models are most likely to survive.

magnusgraviti 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to compare YC startups considering also their income so we can see not only chosen business models but also how much they earn.

But I wonder if we can get such information.

WebEngage is serving over 100 million widget requests per month webengage.com
4 points by sooperman  8 minutes ago   2 comments top
ceejayoz 4 minutes ago 1 reply      

    Cache-Control: private, max-age=600

With an explicit version number in the URL, there's little reason to have a 10 minute expiration period for a .js file. Why not save bandwidth and money (and improve performance to boot) with a more reasonable expires setting?

Black Widow dcurt.is
192 points by bradgessler  13 hours ago   44 comments top 13
kyro 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Can someone name me an instance where a site as popular as Twitter eventually flopped because it didn't play nicely with third-party developers? I can't think of one, although I most certainly could be wrong.

There seems to be this idea that angry developers -> no apps -> crappier service -> users leaving, and I just don't see it. Apple has long been screwing developers with their App Store and yet how many thousands are out there coding away at their iPhone games, playing by every rule, however arbitrary, that Apple implements?

Developers aren't going to kill Twitter, but a better service more attractive to users will. I'm of the belief that at this point, Twitter's developed such a huge brand that the lack of app choices alone is nowhere near enough to decrease user engagement. Twitter is constantly on CNN, a myriad of other news channels, and almost every major celebrity tweet I've seen has been made from either the Twitter web interface or their Mac/iOS app.

Users have a much, much larger threshold of "abuse" than many people here seem to believe. Facebook ads, Twitter ads, no third-party Twitter apps, etc, are all very minor annoyances, if you can even call them that, to the majority of users. So while Twitter's new move is certainly frustrating for the developers that helped give them a boost initially, they've certainly got the momentum, brand-recognition, and celebrity engagement to keep them going for a while.

hooande 12 hours ago 2 replies      
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. To Twitter, one Kardashian is worth thousands of developers. Apps don't matter to twitter. Developers don't matter to twitter. Celebrities matter to twitter.

As DCurt points out so eloquently, twitter is largely a one way medium. Celebrities -> everyone else. If you need proof, look at anyone's twitter stream (including your own) and note the ratio of famous people to actual friends. The average person clearly doesn't care about apps or developers or even social networking. They just want to feel a little bit closer to someone who is better known than they are.

The real twitter killing app is whatever attracts celebrities. Anything else might have a long road.

jusben1369 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Devs are like artists moving into rundown neighborhoods.

"No one was here when we moved in. Windows were broken, it was dangerous after dark. But the rents were cheap and the architecture awesome so we all moved in."
"Soon good coffee shops and restaurants opened. Some buildings were fixed up. It was great!"
"Then the hipsters/wannabes/yuppies started moving in. They drove up rents and the price of a latte. Now we can't afford to live around here anymore. This SUCKS"

As someone below mentions Twitter is 6 years old. It's outgrown the early wave. Neighborhoods don't usually suddenly collapse back again. But new neighborhoods soon flourish in old rundown neighborhoods. Better to focus on the next neighborhood than lament the march of time.

chrishenn 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"Twitter has an enormous advantage over Facebook in one key area: while people on Facebook tend to friend their friends, people on Twitter tend to follow their interests. The following graph from Twitter is worth far more on a per-account basis because it is directly monetizable in a way that Facebook's generally isn't â€" you can show prophylactic advertisements to Twitter users based solely on the people they follow, and probably get a much higher rate of interest. Compared to other social display ads, Twitter ads, it is rumored, work extremely well."

Facebook users friend their friends AND follow celebrities/brands/products. Facebook also encourages you to share a lot of information about interests and locations. You might also share the same on Twitter, but its not neatly saved as part of your profile.

I'm not sure Facebook will be able to make more money off advertising then Twitter, but if they don't, it wont be because of lack of information about your interests.

Terry_B 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think Twitter understands that there is a much lower barrier to leaving their service for a competitor, compared to the other social services.

What data do you have in Twitter that you wouldn't be prepared to leave behind?

Shank 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Now would be a fantastic time for Google+ or App.net to sweep in and get developers on their respective sides. Past social networks have gone in phases, and I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't begin to push people away from the platform.

No, it won't kill Twitter, but it will lead to the rising up of something else, akin to how Twitter started to gain traction when they debuted their API.

gammarator 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Twitter's advantages are 1) asymmetric follow and 2) a head start. Neither provides an insurmountable barrier.
ceol 10 hours ago 2 replies      

    >The problem with this solution is that Twitter was built
>on the backs of the very developers it is now blocking.

Was it really? I've never seen any specific stats, but what are the number of users solely relying on a third party app to use Twitter versus the number of users who just use the site? I bet there are a lot more who just go to mobile.twitter.com or use the official client instead of paying for a third party app.

lsc 9 hours ago 1 reply      
twitter has apps?

I mean, I'm kidding, mostly, but really, what are twitter apps for? slightly easier input from a phone? I thought that most of the value of twitter was that it was 'like a rss aggrigator but easier'

prawks 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The thing most of these types of criticisms of Twitter forget is that users don't make apps, developers do.
Jerpo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So the reason twitter closing its API as as an attempt to maintain their 'walled garden'? Rather than building a sustainable competitive advantage they are freezing out developers and hoping for the best?

Perhaps it is part of a larger scheme, that leads to monetization?

keppy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Although I sometimes am left feeling shallow--after reading one of the shorter blog posts like this one from the front page of HN--I am usually thankful more words were not used on the same topic.
y4m4 6 hours ago 0 replies      
140 characters is equally smart and equally shameful for Internet from where i see it. Twitter will do what fits its revenue model relentlessly and ruthlessly, since its logical and rational. Point is since you can't fight it "Kill It" and build a new one.
John Carmack discusses the art and science of software engineering uw.edu
3 points by gb  9 minutes ago   discuss
Should developers be sued for security holes? techrepublic.com
5 points by fwdbureau  35 minutes ago   4 comments top 2
rasur 12 minutes ago 2 replies      
<devils advocate>Yes - it will encourage them to be more diligent in their work.</devils advocate>
givan 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Should architects be sued for burglars that get into your house?
California state legislature approves Location Privacy Act arstechnica.com
18 points by iProject  3 hours ago   1 comment top
woah 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. Usually too busy to keep up on state politics, but I'm going to call Jerry Brown's office later and ask him to please not veto this.

Having the police force be able to track your every move for any purpose on a whim is by anyone's definition a panopticon. Many people voluntarily allow this type of access to their friends, but it's a different game when you have no choice but to inform the state of your location 24/7. What are you going to do- throw away your phone?

I really hope that Jerry Brown doesn't kill this.

Introducing Tent - the decentralized social web tent.io
408 points by Titanous  21 hours ago   204 comments top 45
enobrev 18 hours ago 6 replies      
A few years back, I started getting interested in a similar idea. I'm definitely intrigued in seeing how well it goes. Good luck to you.

Of course, as ideas go, I allowed myself to think further into the possibilities, and found some interesting avenues.

For instance, why allow the facebooks, twitters, etc to own domain over our content? Let people store their own data, and offer API endpoints giving facebook, twitter, etc access. They essentially become frontends and search engines to our shared content. We get control of our own data (and privacy therein), they get to provide an interface to that data in a way that fits what they're trying to offer their "customers".

And then if you take that even further, why allow anyone control over your data? Why not store all my purchase data and credit info on my own servers, and allow authorized companies access as needed? Census time? Popup shows up on my phone asking if i'd like to allow the government access to some of my data for census - I pick what data is allowed, and it's done.

Electric company's system automatically logs in to get my electric usage. Phone provider does the same. Publishing a book literally allows access by readers to your own servers. Releasing an album - same deal. We still have "stores", but those stores are merely search engines offering a service to both the content creators and consumers.

It went further, and weirder (in interesting ways). I'm not sure such a system would truly be beneficial, but I love the idea of allowing people to Truly Own their own data.

Apologies for the tangent. Good luck to you. I'm a fan of the idea as it's presented and I hope you're successful.

smacktoward 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Random thought: it might be helpful to give Tent-the-protocol a different name than Tent-the-server-implementation. In other words, "Tent" means either the protocol you're specifying, or the server software you're planning on releasing, but not both.

An analogue would be the naming distinction between HTTP, the protocol, and httpd, the first Web server (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN_httpd). That naming split made it easier for people to understand what part of the system others were talking about, and helped make it clear that the two pieces were not tightly coupled to each other.

Maybe you're already planning on doing this when you release the server, it's not clear from the web site. If that's the case, feel free to ignore...

gjulianm 20 hours ago 5 replies      
My first thought was "Well, Diaspora with another name". But after reading and understanding it (it's not very well explained there) seems like a much more abstract thing. They want to build an abstraction layer to the social web, not a social network.

The idea seems pretty good. It's just the basics: you follow people and receive their content (text, images, whatever), and people follow you and you share content with them. The most amazing thing is that, just using these simple concepts the possibilities are infinite. As they said, every social network out there can be implemented in this way. ÂżTwitter? It's trivial, just make the format description and you're ready. ÂżFacebook? The only thing you should specify is that the relationships are symmetric (you can follow me only if I decide to follow you too, that is, we are mutual friends).

To me, the idea seems absolutely great. The problem will be execution: what apps are created using this protocol. I have also the doubt if apps will be interoperable. Example: I build a twitter-like app named Foo and another guy builds another twitter-like app named Bar. Both use similar formats, so, can an user using Foo see the contents posted with Bar? I imagine that this will be possible as long as they share the same post format, but I'm not sure.

Anyways, good work. I would really like to see Tent to expand and grow.

mbreese 20 hours ago  replies      
Why is it that every new protocol seems to want to piggy back on HTTP? It seems to me that maintaining state would be a useful feature for a social protocol.

Another issue is that this assumes that the web will be the client of choice in the future... with mobile apps being as big as they are in the social space, this seems a bit shortsighted.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea behind having a "social server", but I don't necessarily think that starting with HTTP is the way to go.

I don't have any particular argument with using JSON for data transfer though... I think that is probably a good choice. Also using SSL for all connections is probably a good call too.

ivan_ah 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This would be the "killer protocol" for the freedombox, if combined with some smart dyndns management.

Here is a use case scenario I am imagining. I define two servers for myself: home.me.com and cloud.me.com. Where home.me.com is a dyndns to the freedombox. Dyndyns being unreliable, if a tent msg cannot get to my home server, then the messages are sent to cloud.me.com and then pushed to
home.me.com when it comes back online (think POP mail).

The facebook killer then, is a hosted service like cloud.me.com for non-tech people, but a seamless transition to the hosted at home service as soon as you buy a freedombox. This way you have the best of both worlds. Your face in the cloud, and long term storage at home.

Other app wishlist: tent to smtp and smtp to tent adapters for gmail killing

SCdF 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm damn excited about this. I've been mulling this concept over in the last couple of years, because I really we need something post-blogs that isn't the walled garden facebook / twitter / G+ / et al model.

For the me the ultimate social network would be just blogs, RSS and a feed reader, with people either managing the blog themselves or using a third party to do it for them-- the point is it doesn't matter.

The problem is that blogging is complicated, anything with multiple options is complicated, and discovery is complicated. I know where to look to find a friend on facebook, I don't know where to look to find his blog.

I don't have time right now (work) to look into Tent in more detail, but it sounds like it's a definite step in the right direction.

kennywinker 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the Twitter replacement gotham needs.

Repo starred, eagerly awaiting runnable stuff.

arscan 19 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks great guys. I'll definitely put up a server and hook up the content I traditionally expose through my personal website.

Question: what features that are taken for granted on today's popular social networks are difficult/impossible in this kind of distributed system? for example, i suspect something like "friend suggestions" might be difficult, since you only have access to a part of the network. Auto-friend tagging in pictures would be tough too. I'm seeing a lot of upsides listed, but there must be some things you just can't do. A candid discussion of the drawbacks would be helpful.

yk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder about the rationale to use HTTPS for everything, especially about the SSL part. It seems that by the choice of SSL over a web of thrust (WOT [1]) approach one imports the problems of certificates and CAs into the protocol. Especially it would be possible for a server with a root CA to impersonate other people. On the other hand, a social network is about social relations, which could also directly serve to sign and validate public keys in a WOT. This could then serve as a authentication against the same social network that is stored. For example a chat software could show Alice that the person she is chatting with is indeed Charly, the friend of Bob ( Bob signed Charlies key).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust

Torgo 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I am not convinced that this needs a new protocol as they claim. Facebook-style functionality be done on top of activity streams, pubsubhub, salmon, webfinger et al. They indicate they have investigated existing systems and found them lacking. I would rather have something like this built on protocols that a bunch of people have discussed out in the open first. That said, I am interested to see more details as they arise, as this type of thing is needed.
jasonkolb 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome. I've wanted this forever, glad someone is finally picking up the ball and running with it. I'll be happy to beta test!
mike-cardwell 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Sounds almost too good to be true. Looking forward to being able to download some software.
mgualt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I would be interested to read a 'big-picture' description of what Tent is. Forgetting for the moment how it compares with competitors, what is the idea? I read the introduction but I feel that I don't understand it.

From what I can tell, the idea is to create a standard set of objects and rules for interacting with these objects. Of course that is how protocols tend to look.

What are some of the new objects/concepts proposed by Tent? For example, is there a distinction between "home" and "users" akin to server/client? Are there several types of messages, compared to email? Is there a standard cookie-like object? What is the conceptual model for sharing? Any insight would be appreciated.

pacala 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks guys. Not a moment too soon. Humbly quoting the motivation:

> What is wrong with other social services?
Centralized Social Service Providers limit what you can share and who you can share with. They only allow users to interact with other users on the same network. Because their products are centralized and maintained by a company, users are left in the cold when the company changes its products or shuts down. There's nothing wrong with a company offering users social services. But users shouldn't be limited by those companies. Imagine if you could only email other customers of your Internet Service Provider. Unfortunately Centralized Social Service Providers have done just that. You can only communicate directly with other users of their closed network.

> If you don't like a bank you can withdraw your money and deposit it somewhere else, including your own home. You could even start a new bank where you and your friends felt safe. You can still pay your bills and maintain your financial relationships, just tell them about your new account. We aren't talking about money. Your data is far more valuableâ€" your family and friends' photos, locations, and private communications. You should be able to store them somewhere you trust, move them when you want, control who can and can't see them.

pwf 20 hours ago 4 replies      
It seems like this will use up a crapton of bandwidth with its 'push' style notifications. If someone with a million Facebook followers makes a new post, one entry is made in the database and then users pull it down as they visit their own pages.

If a million people decide to 'camp in my tent' (?), my server is suddenly pushing out gigs of data every time I make a post.

maked00 2 hours ago 0 replies      
To a normal person, this article is just a collection of fuzzy well meaning ideas wrapped around a bunch of technical network jaron. The fact that there is no working demo is rather damming.
mratzloff 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What took you so long? I've been waiting for someone to finally get around to building this for a long time.
EGreg 20 hours ago 1 reply      
We're building something like this for a while at Qbix.

It's not an easy problem to solve when it comes to privacy and security: http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20120110469#b

Eventually to arrive at this: http://myownstream.com

sidcool 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"Tent servers can also be run as Tor hidden services to create a social darknet for at-risk organizers and activists."
eps 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Who's behind Tent, does anyone know?

I can swear I saw a section with names on the site, but can't seem to find it now. It looks like it was taken out.

tagawa 16 hours ago 0 replies      
But how does this differ to StatusNet/OStatus? If we have several similar solutions to a problem it makes it more difficult for one to gain traction. Seems like reinventing the wheel, or am I missing something?
liotier 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> OStatus [..] stopped short of actual decentralization.

How so ? It looks quite decentralized to me.

teeeler 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"His server sends a notification to every server following him or mentioned in the post with permission to see the post."

The protocol seems to have some fundamental limitations.

For my money I'd rather go with FETHR (see http://dsandler.org/brdfdr/ and this paper: http://dsandler.org/brdfdr/doc/iptps-fethr/) and its implementation - which has code available right now (https://bitbucket.org/dsandler/brdfdr/).

lucaspiller 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking to get involved I have (unoffically) started a project to write a testsuite against the protocol. Contributions would be appreciated.


EternalFury 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Friendica does that already. No one cares. Potato chips are potato chips. No one cares about the brand, but everyone loves them, even though they are not free.
hammock 16 hours ago 2 replies      
> Tent is specifically designed to be usable by high-risk activists and people in countries that block other social networks.

I can't help but read that and think, "terrorists." Then again, there will always be that tradeoff and you are probably on the right side.

khet 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"How is Tent licensed?
Tent will be completely free and open and treated as a standard. To prevent fragmentation before launch, the original authors currently retain copyright. This is a temporary situation which will be remedied immediately after a governance model is chosen. We decided it would be best to share what we could as soon as possible, releasing early and often. We are entirely committed to free and open software and protocols with open governance models leading to a ratified standard. Tent will be released under an open license in the immediate future."

I am curious as to how retaining copyright will help them prevent fragmentation?
Can they not elect themselves as project leaders of the opensource project and prevent fragmentation?

biomechanica 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I like how they support Tor hidden services. Though I wish they would go a step further and support I2P.

It's really nice to see people are working on ways to sort of "replace" the current centralized services out there.

Let us hope they are attractive enough to developers and users.

chanux 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Where's the donate button when I really need it?
kindalu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking about every smart phone as a tent server.

P2P camping site will establish when you are waiting the bus, taking the boring meeting, or camping at the river bank. I tried to use wifi-direct/bluetooth, but I found iPhone and Android system set device default to non-discoverable for security issue. But I do found a lot of Nokia/LG phone in discoverable mode on subway.

I hope the tent will be successful.
Be an application to make strangers knowing each other and people to go outdoor.

dj2stein9 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope this crew is looking at WebRTC. The true killer app for a distributed social network is going to be a global decentalized video chat network. Imagine Google hangouts without Google. Even just to implement a voice-only chat without a centralized system would be pretty phenomenal.

Also, I really think they're making a mistake by not using secure Websockets for their protocol. Plain HTTP has too much overhead for what needs to be an efficient messaging protocol and the potential need for persistent connections.

darkhorn 17 hours ago 1 reply      
PHP support is vital.
victorNicollet 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe this is a great idea, but I disagree with some points of your implementation. I actually started writing a lengthy comment about this, and after about two hours of writing I decided it might look better as a blog post, so there you go:


rshm 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Instead of sub domain, email address would have been a better choice.


Where provider.tld provides specification/api.. like robot.txt/tent.json that would specify actual api endpoints for given user.

Meldryn 20 hours ago 2 replies      
How does this compare with Diaspora?
ojr 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"Not Invented Here" syndrome is manifested as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture - Wikipedia

The culture of decentralized web doesn't bode well, not enough capitalism, which might in turn effect the quality of the product.

adrianbg 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks really neat. How are you going to get people to start using it? Anything more active than hoping that an app/user ecosystem develops?
ricardobeat 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Who is building this? Who designed the protocol, and will publish/veto the standard?
mparlane 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Please make more social networks.
zoowar 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What happens when my server is down when you try to post a notification?
alistairbayley 16 hours ago 0 replies      
How does this compare to Mr Social? : http://mobisocial.stanford.edu/papers/mrprivacy.pdf
mxuribe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm digging this!
nikunjk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Website is down?
webwanderings 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"Every user decide which other users can follow them and what information will be shared with each of their followers."

This effectively makes each person an island in h/herself and hence the model of social-web breaks down. It wouldn't work and people know it.

In order to liberate the data, you're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Fred Wilson says venture capital funds have gotten too big technologyreview.com
30 points by kevinpacheco  5 hours ago   19 comments top 4
lifeisstillgood 4 hours ago 2 replies      
VCs are not too big, they are (apparently) investing in the
wrong companies.

If humanity overall wins out, the next 20-30 years will see
industries we can barely imagine grow to maturity. From
electric driver-less cars, to new forms of power generation
(even fusion), new building methods, new education, and
vast mega-cities will spring out of nowhere.

In the West, in the rest of the world, we will see vast
demand for things that are barely off the drawing board.
And they will need support industries, innovating widgets
and helpful doo-hickies.

All of which will take specialised knowledge, innovation
and investment. Just what VCs are supposed to do.

(PS I strongly suspect Fred Wilson already knows this, is
intelligent enough to be hiring clever VCs in India, China
Sudan, and doing presumably cleverer things than I suggest.

But it annoys me that the article seems mostly - oh no!
cloud is cheap, so there are no companies anymore anywhere
in the world that need high risk investment. Gaaahh!)

Here is one that is a perfect example: http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_...

Edit: added link, minor fixes

brackin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"Lately VCs haven't come close to generating the returns on their investments that made them stars in the 1990s."

That's because it was in the height of the internet bubble. Companies have to work harder and show real revenue. People may not believe it but the recent IPO's have shown this. Tech companies have to show revenue and progress other than traffic .

Companies are springing up that do more than social networking. In the 90's there were many of these crazy ideas but there were no consumers to use them so the valuations were out of whack. I think we're going to see some more ambitious companies coming out. Simple, Square and Uber are the first step.

stitchy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious why Fred Wilson would proclaim to the world that investing in his VC firm isn't going to give you the return that you're looking for these days. Is there a short term gain for him that I'm not seeing? Or is Wilson genuinely trying to change an industries path with a few words of wisdom? I'm not suggesting that his advice is bad. It seems to make sense to me.
jpkeisala 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Can one start a tech company anymore without Venture Capital?
Twitter cuts off “find friends” access to Tumblr marco.org
171 points by rsobers  14 hours ago   67 comments top 18
ChuckMcM 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Not completely unexpected. Twitter needs cash, and they need a sustainable business model. I would not be surprised if Tumblr and Twitter talked and there was a value disagreement about who brought what to the party. Another one of those things my grandfather would say that this reminds me of is this, "The thing about a Mexican standoff is that sometimes they shoot."

I used to do Battlebots, Comedy Central had the television rights, at contract renewal time Battlebots and CC disagreed over who brought the most value to the table, they agreed to disagree and both walked away.

Clearly this will kill neither Twitter nor Tumblr but what it does do is put an obvious to fill gap in Tumblr's toolchest. Presumably they could add Identi.ca there where Twitter was, sure you wouldn't find any friends their yet but if Tumblr can convince their users to get an Identi.ca id when they create their Tumblr and then offer a chance to find people with it, it helps more than it hurts.

graue 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Direct link to source: http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2012/08/22/tumblr-becomes-next...

I wonder if they tried to negotiate behind the scenes, to get Tumblr to pay $$$ for that access, and couldn't come to an agreement. Or if this is part of a negotiating strategy. Charging for third-party access seems logical given that they referred to their follow graph's "great value" when they shut off Instagram. Simply shutting off access at any price, on the other hand, doesn't make sense.

rdl 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Twitter will become like MySpace -- a mass market/middle school/music/urban ghetto, with everyone smart enough to move to another service doing so (which was Facebook at the time).

If the tech/vc/science community moved to app.net, the only thing left for me on twitter would be businesses abusing it as a form of RSS, which is by far the easiest content for them to publish to both Twitter and App.net in parallel. So really there are about 5k and maybe up to 50k people who need to move to app.net for me to no longer care about Twitter, and presumably at least 2500 of them have already signed up.

spinchange 5 hours ago 0 replies      
These companies are competitors. There was a time when it was worth the user/developer goodwill to let other networks build their graph off of Twitter's. At this stage (and it's been this way for a while), Tumblr almost feels like a migration path away from Twitter since it allows for longer content. If users can replace platforms but not graphs, what is stopping them? Twitter recognizes this and wants to stem that. It might not be what we expect from a web or (former) API company, but I don't think it's personal. They're just transitioning away from being an API company.

It seems like to get popular you have to be open and then to make money you have to be closed.

mmahemoff 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is getting to be ridiculous (if the story is true). This use case of finding friends wasn't part of the Forbidden Twitter Quadrant, the one containing clients and apps like Favstar. In fact, they encouraged this kind of use at their developer event I attended last year, and of course they would, it strengthens the value of their network. I have been planning this kind of integration myself, but it's beginning to feel like Twitter wants to become a completely isolated silo.

I can only hope a mistake was made here as it sounds so absurd.

opminion 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Without consensus about (1) which metrics are important to Twitter, and (2) how to maximise them, these comments about them being dicks are just emotional responses.

Nothing wrong with that: getting burned by Twitter as a developer or user is worth other people's attention, as we all try to understand what to make of it.

bluetidepro 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, this is yet another (dumb) bold move by Twitter. I'm very curious to see how this unfolds. I could see this triggering a lot of negative exposure to Twitter in the coming days/weeks, if this is how they are going to start silently cutting major developers off.
lhartwich 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is all fine and all, but I wonder if the average user cares?
dakrisht 6 hours ago 0 replies      
They did the same thing with Instagram, I think Twitter are doing this because these competing websites are generating a lot of new users for those websites while leaving Twitter in the dark on growth, revenue, etc. Twitter sees this as significant competition, although I don't really see how blocking these "competitors" from using the Twitter API helps Twitter?
nateabele 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
joshryandavis 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Twitter is being a bit of a dick.
mehdim 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Twitter seems not respecting API neutrality (same paradigm as Internet neutrality), the fact that all API 3rd-party users may have the same rights, access and limits to your API, if they satisfy same primary conditions (free or paying users)

Instagram, Linkedin, Tumblr...who's next?

They have gone crazy since they want to have their "consistent user experience"...

sambabu9 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Twitter bought Posterous which is a direct competitor to tumblr, so this does not surprise me.
andrewhillman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have said it before and I will say it again... for some reason, twitter is taking themselves way too seriously with all of these recent developments. Anyone who competes indirectly is clearly not wanted. What a shame.
angryasian 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I imagine this is going to occur a lot more with twitter competing in complementary spaces with both branch and medium.
mehdim 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Following recent rumors that Apple would buy a chunk of Twitter, maybe Twitter begins to close itself to fit with Apple vision of closed but mainstream and consistent user experience.
brunolazzaro 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Way to go, Twitter. It's really a shame that they're doing these kind of shitty things. Makes you wonder what are they planning to do...
nell 13 hours ago 2 replies      
It is going to be painful when any free service starts wanting to make money.
What the heck does "pythonic" mean? halitalptekin.tumblr.com
22 points by digitall  5 hours ago   12 comments top 8
unwind 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My interpretation of "Pythonic" is "idiomatic in Python". It's just a simple mashup of the two words, with the added bonus of being quite easy to say, and perhaps sounding cool/interesting/appealing.

It's a bit harder for us poor C programmers to come up with a matching term. "C-nic" (rhymes with "scenic") just looks weird, but of course the double meaning would be amusing: "this code doesn't look very C-nic"!

vitno 3 hours ago 2 replies      
pythonic is easily summed up whenever you type 'import this'!

for those without a python interpreter handy:

>>> import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly.

Explicit is better than implicit.

Simple is better than complex.

Complex is better than complicated.

Flat is better than nested.

Sparse is better than dense.

Readability counts.

Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.

Although practicality beats purity.

Errors should never pass silently.

Unless explicitly silenced.

In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.

There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.

Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.

Now is better than never.

Although never is often better than right now.

If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.

If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.

vetler 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised PEP-8 wasn't mentioned. When I used to do Python development, this was the main reference for "pythonic" code conventions.


hack_edu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Off-topic, but why do so many sites still use static layouts that break when zoomed in with a mobile browser. The choice of font on this post is too small to read without zooming in, but his little static box forces itself on top and of the actual text content. Perhaps this isn't a problem in other mobile browsers? Using Chrome on Android...
bitwize 2 hours ago 1 reply      
To me "Pythonic" means "according to the values of the Python community". More than idiomatic, there is a set of normative values involving design, interfaces, etc. inherent in the term "pythonic" and the judgement it implies.
andreasvc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Better submit the original link from 2005. I couldn't use the arrow key on this one which is always annoying.
will_work4tears 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I hear the term, I think in Greek terms:

Of or resembling an oracle; prophetic.

jackolas 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"New codebase... Twisted." Is this satire?
Show HN: Fowndr.com Launched - A community of startup founders stugreen.com
24 points by stulogy  5 hours ago   11 comments top 8
callmevlad 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Trying to access on my iPhone, and instead of a site I get a request to download a "fowndr.com.gz" file.
FreshCode 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Whenever I see a new service launched with such a gross misspelling as "fowndr" to "founder", I cringe and place it in my mental "doomed" bin. Wouldn't this service be better off with a longer name or different TLD, e.g. "startupfounders.com" or "founded.co"? Is there any evidence for startup success based on a misspelled name?
I don't want to knock the community, but I can't stomach the spelling barrier each and every time I would like to tell a fellow founder about his community. "Just go to founder dot com! What? Oh yeah, that's oh, en, double-u, um. Yeah, and drop the e. Not loading? Nevermind, I'll email you the link tomorrow, or never."
jasonkester 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool. Just signed up.

What's the tech stack for the site? Seems to be loading discussions quite slowly, which is worrying since it doesn't seem particularly busy at the moment. Might want to work on that, since it's a bit distracting (and distracting is the last thing you want when you're trying to get off the ground.)

I hope this takes off. It'd be nice to have a second place to go when the Apple news and Vim/Emacs debates take over the homepage here.

wiradikusuma 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
How is it compared to StartupGuild (http://startupguild.net/)?

EDIT: Just opened it, have another question: How is it compared to Ask/Show HN?

tommizzle 3 hours ago 1 reply      
What problem does this solve that Quora doesn't? Seems like you might have a hard time competing.
brackin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure why AngelList/Venture Hacks doesn't have this feature. Still very cool stuff.
prawn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Not too keen on the logo font, but the design of the rest of it is great. Hopefully you can get the comment counts up and take off.
wolfbecvar 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Great to see that Fowndr.com is being opened to public. Keep up the good work Stu!
Typing Practice for Programmers typing.io
269 points by mofeeta  20 hours ago   201 comments top 76
edanm 18 hours ago 3 replies      
This. Is. AWESOME. Let me tell you what this is useful for by telling you my story:

I'm a pretty fast typist (80-100WPM on TypeRacer, usually) and I really never put much thought into my typing, since it was good enough. But I recently started paying attention to the kinds of mistake I make on Typeracer, and realized that I have certain combinations of keys which I don't make using the "home row" of the keyboard, but rather, move my hands to make. Every time I hit one of these, I have a 50/50 chance of not getting back to the home row correctly, meaning I have a 50/50 chance of throwing off my typing.

And I am a heavy VIM user, by the way, which means I am very used to doing everything from the home row, including every navigation you can think of. I even have AutoHotKey scripts to give me vim-style navigation everywhere in windows, so I never have to move my hands.

Now with this program, I finished running an example and noticed 2 shocking things:

1. There are a lot of keys which I'm not used to typing from the homerow, which happen to show up a lot in regular Python code. For example, periods (.). And underscores. I was used to shifting my hand to type these characters. I don't notice this during every day work, since I'm actually programming, but I did notice this while playing a program specifically designed for typing.

2. At the end of the program, it gives you statistics, and I found out that I was only about 48% effective, meaning 52% of the keystrokes I made were accidents that had to be backspaced out. This is a lot. Part of it is "first time with this program" bias, but it still means I have a long way to go.

Anyway, I recommend running through this program, it will probably teach you a lot.

P.S. Just one bit of constructive criticism: the way the program presents mis-types is a little annoying, and hard to follow. I recommend doing the same as TypeRacer, that is, have the "mistaken" keystrokes be visible somewhere, so the typist is very clear on how many keys he needs to backspace out. This is much closer to how people type in the real world.

gruseom 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This is really well done. Surprisingly well done. Way better done than average.

I'll tell you how I'd like to use it. This may seem odd, but I'd like to be able to upload code that I'm interested in learning, and then type over it just like in these lessons - but not to speed up my typing, but rather for learning.

Writing is a unique channel for learning new things. (Reading is too, of course, but everyone knows that.) Even if you're merely reproducing keystroke-for-keystroke what someone else wrote, following in someone's footsteps helps the brain absorb new patterns and is particularly good for something one's a beginner at. If what you're copying is the work of a master, then you're absorbing really good patterns. I would totally use a tool like this for that purpose. It's a way of learning with one's hands.

But pure typing efficiency? That's hardly a way to become a better programmer, only a more prolific one, and more code is not what we need in this business.

So basically I wish I could subvert the purpose of your tool and send it off in a new direction. :)

JoshTriplett 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Very impressive.

Things I particularly liked: not making me type the indentation (because any sane editor will do that for me), allowing backspace, providing examples in numerous languages.

Things that bugged me (and which only become an issue because the example otherwise proves sufficiently realistic that any remaining differences feel awkward, like an uncanny valley for typing code): showing faded-out code I'm not expected to type and skipping it, not allowing any navigation other than backspace (I frequently "correct" errors by ignoring them until I finish typing what I wanted to type and then going back and correcting them, which means the "collaterally typed before backspacing" characters are not wasted keystrokes), not allowing copy-paste (particularly important for lines like #include or import), not showing incorrect characters I've typed.

Things you probably can't do anything about: typing a file in a more natural order than top-to-bottom (the Haskell exercise starts with a giant export list, and the Python exercise starts with an import list). Normally, you'll extend those as you go, rather than typing them all at once.

samd 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I don't understand programmer's obsession with typing efficiency. We're not typists. Typing is a tiny fraction of the time I spend programming. Most of the time I'm thinking, or talking to another developer about a problem. I could have the fastest typing skills and most efficient editor and not even be marginally more productive.
ismarc 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm one of those folks who is on the top-end of crazy-stupid-fast typing, but hadn't ever seen a typing test that actually had typing code, so this is absolutely awesome for seeing the difference in speed between prose and code. However, the fading in and out cursor makes it extremely difficult to track where I am, particularly when going back to correct a mistake I made (I know I hit the wrong key, and depending on where in the typing I hit it, I'll need to see how far back to go). It's also exceedingly annoying when it blurs across multiple characters.

I personally would prefer a side-by-side text entry, rather than typing on top of existing code, so it's easy to see progress and mistakes (even if you don't highlight mistakes in the text).

EDIT: It looks like about 50 words per minute, maybe 55, is the max speed you can type and have the cursor actually be visible enough to be a guide of where you are in the text.

psykotic 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea. But as a fast typist of both prose and code I found the interface nearly unusable. Please make it behave more like a normal edit box. I never had any idea of the location of my cursor. The lack of alt-backspace made it unbearably slow to correct errors. Auto-skipping whitespace makes it tougher to rely on my habits where the key strokes for indentation and line breaks are a natural part of the flow. And if you're not going to make me type the comments, just delete them from the text entirely so I can more easily scan ahead.

Here's a straight-up bug: I had to turn off a Chrome extension (Type Ahead Find) that I use for incremental search. It was intercepting key strokes that were supposed to go to typing.io. That hasn't happened with Ace and other canvas-based text editors. My friend also mentioned that it didn't work with his Danish keyboard.

Beyond these annoyances with the implementation, typing the C code from Redis reinforced how difficult (and frankly infuriating) it is to spontaneously conform to an unfamiliar coding convention. E.g. no spaces in "while(1)" throws me off completely because my brain is thinking "while 1" and my fingers translate that into my customary "while (1)". If you want this web app to be relevant to real-world programming, you need to let people upload their own code samples.

For even punctuation heavy, syntactically gnarly prose, I can average 140+ WPM without much effort. Typing.io put me at around 100 WPM for the first few sections of the C Redis lesson. I'd say I'm good for at least another 15-20 WPM if the environment wasn't so utterly alien.

tobiasu 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Well done on the NoScript front. It's rare to see a site on HN that requires JS and falls back to a nice explanation of why it needs JS (Instead of just stating the fact, or worse, displaying a white page).
dkersten 18 hours ago 10 replies      
It doesn't appear to respect my keyboard layout - I'm using colemak (which works fine) but with UK symbols instead of US (which works everywhere else, including the HN comment box, but not in Typing.io where it wants me to type US symblos: eg " and @ are swapped).
awolf 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great. You should charge money.

Regarding indentation: I think you made a reasonable choice in excluding it across the board. Definitely better than requiring it to be typed everywhere. That said, ideally you would require the user to make the keystrokes to un-indent whenever an IDE wouldn't automatically.

Also: Something in Objective-C please. Those square brackets took me a lot of practice to get used to.

felideon 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
Any plans on adding Common Lisp? Do you just need someone to point you to some decent code?
tfb 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Man I think I might be kind of a slow typer. I was only getting like 45 wpm in the javascript test. I think it's because of all the abnormal characters, although I do code in js daily. -_-

But keeping my fingers on the home keys to type has always felt really awkward to me. I tend to position my hands differently depending on the word I'm about to type - in a way that let's me "roll" my fingers along in just the right sequence so it tends to be a series of short bursts where it would seem as if I'm actually just smashing a bunch of keys at once over and over again.

Edit: I just tried type racer and was getting 80+ wpm. /me wonders how people get 140+. :O

kevinpet 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The message google gives when trying to log in is really poor: "A third party service is requesting permission to access your Google Account.Please select an account that you would like to use."

What do you mean "access"? Do you mean "authenticate as"? Do you mean "go screw with my email"? I seem to remember that I sometimes see specific access requested, but this one is vague. Possibly this is the result of requesting sign in with no permissions at all.

Xion 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's absolutely brilliant.

And besides improving your code-typing speed, it's also a nice way to get a hang of all different languages you might want to delve into. Alternatively, you can also polish your muscle memory on all the thousands of function, classes and method names you can find in your typical language/framework of choice.

cgag 17 hours ago 0 replies      
We attempted to make something very similar at a hackathon. It's cool to see a more polished, complete version. Ours was more of an attempt to make a version of typeracer (http://play.typeracer.com/) using code samples from rosetta code. All we really got done though was handling typing the code (hilighting errors, letting you use tab for whitespace, etc), we didn't get around to recording stats.

This is all bringing back horrible memories of our disastrous demo actually, but very nice otherwise.

sebastianhoitz 7 hours ago 3 replies      
This doesn't seem to work with keyboard layouts that are different than US keyboards.

My german keyboard didn't work :(

stuntgoat 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very great!

I was considering doing something like this in the terminal, possibly using an adaptation of gtypist. However, I the more I thought about it, I realized that I would be better off writing a module for my everyday text editor, since I would have access to completion, copy/paste, indention, macros, etc.

I don't want to 'talk down' all the work you did with this. I'm really glad you made it and I am going to use it, for sure.

Keep up the great work!

almost 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome!

For some reason I can't type the ( symbol. I do have my ( and [ keys swapped but I tried both and neither has the desired effect.

DannoHung 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Things that bother me in the extreme: Not showing letters as they are typed in the advanced lessons. That immediate feedback is how I know that I'm typing a word correctly and how I know if I make an error that I have corrected it.

Penalization for adding additional whitespace between identifiers in some situations: "[one,two,three]", for example, I personally like adding a space after the comma and do it automatically.

gersh 18 hours ago 3 replies      
It seems like <,:, and certain other characters don't work. Also, why do you skip over white-space?

It is interesting. I wonder if I can learn to make fewer typos.

sukuriant 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a very neat idea; but, I do have one issue with it. When I'm programming, I don't start with the import statements (except for maybe some common ones that I have to deal with). I usually start with the most important part of the API and then spiral outward. I noticed this issue in the Java sample I tried. It began with the drudgery of import blah.blah.SomethingSpecific 10 times. I wasn't able to get into the meat of the code, and by the time I did, I was bored to tears. Imports usually come organically, if I'm having to deal with them at all (IDE's usually take care of them).

I think a great place for this to go would be if the code bounced around a bit more. Perhaps, start with what seems like the most commonly used function and write that function header and whole function; then, start writing all of the different subordinate methods you called in this primary method, and so on until the whole class is created. The way it's written write now, in particular for Java, isn't a way that I code and I imagine it's not the way that many people code.

Just my two cents. Otherwise, it's an interesting system so far.

pacaro 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This definitely shows me how much of the coding style I use is in muscle memory, I'm continually trying to add spaces and newlines where they aren't!

It would be interesting to be able to pick specific coding styles for C

I'm spending too long on this, back to work...

julianz 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Haskell, Scala and Clojure but no C# or Objective C. Typing practice for hipster programmers or something?
tobr 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Fun idea, but doesn't seem to recognize non-US keyboard layouts.
ericmoritz 18 hours ago 2 replies      
It would be awesome if they're keeping stats on each language so that we can find out which language is the easiest to type.
nicholassmith 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I honestly didn't mean to break it! It does seem however under Safari OS X it doesn't like alt + 3 for hash, which for the C++ ones is a big thing.
Tichy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't accept an = on a German Apple keyboard.

Is it only typing an existing piece of source code? Wouldn't simply coding stuff then be better practice?

Nordvind 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Perfect tool for code monkeys :)

You even can't put more line breaks than it is - just type, character by character. If it checked the code in general (e.g. package names typed correctly - but not line breaks and stuff) - I'd totally use it. Not now, though.

RegEx 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This serves as a great reminder that a good portion of your speed comes from accuracy. I find if I slow myself down ~10% of what feels "fast", I'm much more accurate and my WPM increase significantly over typing faster but backspacing more.
ojr 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Learn Code The Hard Way... The guy that runs it states the only way to learn is by typing the code in, bit by bit and not to go too long because you might burn yourself out...This is a nice free tool, Cheers moonboots!
utopkara 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice app, I would like to point out one thing, hope you find it useful enough to address.

I am pretty sure many people do this too: whenever I type braces/brackets/parentheses/[/%$..] I type both open and close, then continue filling in the statement inside the completed pair of open/close. It is a very useful practice especially for languages with a love of open/close symbol pairs. When you try this in your app, the close gets marked as an error, and I couldn't find an easy way out.

grecy 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Why do you want me to sign in with Google?
CodeCube 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastically great! I'm a huge fan of typing games (typing of the dead, typeracer, etc.) and always lamented the fact that there were none that focused on programming syntax. Love it!

edit: the more I use this, the more I find myself really hoping that you're storing all of these stats somewhere. I think that some aggregate analytics of typing accuracy across programming languages would be fascinating.

state 17 hours ago 0 replies      
With all of the emphasis on learning how to code I think this is really useful. The insight I really like is that simply learning to type in this weird way is a big part of being an efficient programmer.

Maybe when codeacademy students get frustrated they could spend a few minutes doing this.

Nice work!

swah 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Kinda OT, but I noticed you're using Google Fonts, and they load instantaneously. When I use Google Fonts, they take a little bit, usually loading after the whole site is already displayed. Did you optimized anything regarding this?
newtonapple 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I made something similar except you can practice using any Gist you want. http://newtonapple.github.com/Gistype/#1 It still needs some work on the current cursor movement for longer Gists, but the basic functionality is there. No login required, just type. :) Note that if you have Vimium installed, you'll have to put the URL on your "excluded URLs" list.
irunbackwards 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Why can't I share my test results on social networks? This is like one of the only types of social activites / games I would want to share with my friends!

Other than that, this is freaking rad!

I found it funny that I'm normally a 120-150 WPM typist, but when typing special characters for regex, etc, I hit a patch of molasses.

musashibaka 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be an added bonus if there were an illustration of a hand highlighting which fingers should be used with which keys at the bottom. Similar to http://www.typingweb.com/. I get allot of practice typing my own source, but what I am currently working on is making sure I am using the right fingers for numbers, symbols, and punctuation.
Gazler 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The hash (#) character isn't working for me (UK layout keyboard, Firefox 10 on Ubuntu).
agscala 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish this had a timer on it. I don't know which metric it would result in, but it would be fun to race against other people nonetheless
mark_integerdsv 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why I need to sign in to try this out. Glad you're getting rave reviews in this thread but I'm passing on the basis that I believ this sign in is unnecessary and creates yet more data exhaust.
rapind 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using the opensource Keyzen to polish up those awkward coder keys.


That being said, this also looks great. Love the idea.

progrock 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Typing the Php sample code - mainly the namespace stuff was a horrible experience.

Please find some code that isn't laden heavy with use statements. I'd expect my editor to autocomplete these...

amirmansour 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Finished the 1st Scala lesson and I really liked the end of the lesson summary. I got to make some improvements :)
rince 19 hours ago 1 reply      
If anything, this site shows the importance of autocomplete
haukur 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I couldn't type various characters, such as <>={ and probably others that I didn't get to try out. I have an Icelandic keyboard layout, if that matters. I should probably switch to the American layout anyway.
Ubuntu 12.04, Chrome version 21.0.1180.79.

This is still excellent. If these keys worked I would definitely use it.

sp332 19 hours ago 2 replies      
FF 16/Win7, I don't seem to be able to type underscores '_' at all.

ETA: looks fine in Chrome though, and I really like this idea :)

the_cat_kittles 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This made me aware that i typed ":" with my RING FINGER. wow. What have I been doing...
munaf 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool? Still haven't decided if it's useful.

Anyway, the cursor occasionally obscures the character and slows you down. Might be worth testing out a fish-eye effect as the cursor scrolls so you clearly know what you need to type.

nicholassmith 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah this is awesome, we've had a few similar stuff appear recently but this is exactly what I was after.
tennis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll chime in as one of those, who made something similar. It's not very official, but should work in Firefox and Chrome for all keyboard layouts, though you have to bring your own text.


zapt02 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work at all with nordic (swedish) keyboard - it doesn't recognize the less than (<) sign.
DutchCitizen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I really liked this idea, reminded me of this talk I saw a while ago:
sirmarksalot 15 hours ago 1 reply      
For the most part I like it, but there's a performance issue that actually affects usability. The first time you start a lesson, the editor is really snappy, but with each successive lesson, the scroll speed gets slightly slower, and a few lessons in, the entered text is just a blur, and you can't even see a cursor. This means that when you make a mistake, it's hard to tell how far you've backspaced, and I ended up bogged down in error correction loops.

I don't have anything more specific to add than that it seems to get worse over time.

Otherwise, awesome idea!

cgray4 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't interact very well with the firemacs Firefox extension. I love the idea, though.
pg_bot 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cool but it doesn't play well with Caps lock.
kanchax 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Really nice.
It felt like shadow-boxing the creation of a language. What I mean is that the ability to type what giants typed before me in such an easy and accessible way made it worthwhile. I'll do it again.
theGimp 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I love it!

One tiny piece of criticism though: when calculating the percentage of unproductive keystrokes, divide by the number of ALL keystrokes, not just the correct ones.

jacobsimeon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely love the design and the idea! Just one small issue: I'm using a MBP but, for reasons that that I won't take the time to explain, I spend 90% of my time in bootcamp (windows 7). I can't seem to get past any single quote(') characters.


cormacrelf 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Safari 6 on OS X 10.8, most (not all) of the time, I have to type ':' twice to make it progress. Catches me every time, not pleasant.
f4stjack 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Does not support other keyboard layouts than US I think. Good idea though.
sdh 18 hours ago 1 reply      
cool, but what's this -really- for? ;)

recruiting coders?

optimizing keyboard layouts?

optimizing character usage for new language or framework development?

advertising open source projects?

sahat 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the best project I've encountered at Hacker News so far. Thank you.
ibotty 18 hours ago 1 reply      
i really like it, but one thing disturbed me. why do you skip the comments?
JoeAcchino 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice.

One minor thing: practice sessions are called "lessons" but nothing is actually taught.

epsylon 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The quotes don't work on US-international layout.
jesyspa 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The hash character and numbers don't work on Arch Linux, dvorak programmer layout.
repoman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not fair. The captial letter requires you to use shift + letter key. It took me more time to do that..... can we fix that bug?
DaviNunes 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, but whats supposed to happen when I mis-type? It is not allowing me to keep typing or re-type again, it just freezes.
billsix 12 hours ago 1 reply      
A "Kinesis Advantage " keyboard and "apt-get install dvorak7min" is all a programmer needs.
MarkJHagan 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! This is incredibly cool.

Bug: Caps Lock key is ignored.
Feature Request: c#

thoughtpalette 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned I really need to type correctly.
ChronoGawd 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Where do people get these .io names? Are they really $50+ a year?
rwl4 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great! I'd love to see some SQL examples too!
tuananh 11 hours ago 0 replies      
i don't really care how fast i type as programmer as i found typing doesn't account much of time in total time of shipping a product. and second, why the hell we got code completion for!?
armenarmen 16 hours ago 0 replies      
evilpenguin_ 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Microsoft Unveils a New Look technet.com
6 points by robin_reala  1 hour ago   1 comment top
s_henry_paulson 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
IKEA's New Catalogs: Less Pine, More Pixels wsj.com
106 points by petethomas  13 hours ago   41 comments top 11
confluence 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I honestly think everything is going to go information.

Also, I think that games, the little industry that could, is going to totally disrupt and destroy creative media production and consumption (movies/music/tv). Get ready to see an entire industry absolutely crush it.

Human needs - outside of survival - are largely experiences.

Having that great car, going on that ski trip, watching a movie, having a good family, spending time with people we like etc. I'm talking first world here (the vast majority of consumption). The rest of the world will catch up (I'm fully aware of their situation).

Experiences are information and information is cheap, scalable, plentiful and most importantly - limitless. Want a great house? Jack into your own personal VR and have whatever you like. Want to drive a lambo through Monte Carlo in the summer? GTA 15 has got that covered. Want to go out with a French supermodel? Done and done.

If all humans want are experiences then photoreal VR has, or will have, everything you could possibly need (outside of survival). You can create music. You can create movies. You can do that which you cannot do because of scarce resources (I'm ignoring the second law of thermodynamics).

Games are going to lead the charge, and you can already see the beginnings of it with the rise of the Machinima movement and, most importantly, with the recent release of photoreal game engines that support full scale movie production and development (Valve with Source Filmaker and Crytek's Real Time Cinema tech).

The price of making films is going to zero. The price of making novels is going to zero. Music - zero. Flying a jet - zero. Whatever it is that you want - VR can and will do it - and it will begin within this decade. Indeed - with the advent of fusion - energy is going to zero.

What could you achieve if everything was free? What happens when you can divide by zero?

We may very well see the death of physical consumption within this century (outside of fusion supplied energy).

Tell me I'm crazy.


Crytek CryEngine 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqNHJ-ekMR4

Source FilmMaker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zri1c_If6Ic

DICE FrostBite 2 for Battlefield 3 - "Is it real?": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtMaJf45mQ8

[E3 2012] Watch Dogs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU7WGAJPRRw

[E3 2012] The Last of Us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbLOokeC3VU

Red vs. Blue epic fight scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke9wtbzGjCI

GTA4 "Like a G6" music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5tuUU5dKb8

ef4 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
To me this is another interesting example of Marc Andreesson's "Software is Eating the World" meme: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190348090457651...
jswanson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of IKEA criticism here, but what they are doing is actually pretty neat.

All of their products are probably designed in some sort of CAD software, which means they already have the models necessary to do these sort of mockups.

It still must have taken them foresight and money to get from "having models" to "easily arranging and realistically rendering", but now that they are there they can save money, update their catalogs faster, and generate less waste.

Fairly obvious, yet still a cool practice. Wonder how many other companies are doing something similar.

mongol 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I just checked the fifth image from the top (the kitchen)
in the real catalog. I would never have guessed it was not real when browsing through it. If I knew there were some it could have been a candidate because there are no people in it. But otherwise, it looks like a very regular photograph.

EDIT: Mistake! I did not look at the correct image, mine was similar but different. Disregard the above.

EDIT 2: So this means I am looking at a picture in the catalog that I don't know whether it is real or rendered. But knowing that they new render some images, that the image has no people in it (which is not uncommon in the catalog), and that especially the cupboard doors have some artificial feeling to them, my guess is that "my" image is rendered too. But also, there is a bottle of olive oil on the counter, and its brand is a brand that is common in Sweden, and contains details on the label that seems authentic. So they put much effort into small details in that case.

sbierwagen 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Bah, yet another "can you spot the CGI" test. I've never seen one that wasn't badly imbalanced in favor of CGI, by using tiny (400x300) images.
ZoFreX 6 hours ago 5 replies      
"In all, IKEA plans to publish 208 million catalogs this year, more than double the amount of Bibles expected to be produced."

What a silly comparison. I'm not sure if that's supposed to sound impressive or not, but I would assume the number of bibles being produced isn't that high - everyone that wants one already has one, and it's not like they update it each year!

nathan_long 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The quote that caught my eye was:

>> "We don't have to throw away kitchens in the Dumpster after the photo shoot."

That does not speak well for the quality of the furniture.

BklynJay 11 hours ago 10 replies      
I've had a consistently bad experience with Ikea furniture.

Bedroom dressers - the bottoms fall out of the drawers and should ideally be glued in place (the instructions don't suggest this). Even with glue, they sag after a year or so.

Kitchenware - their handles on their pots and pans are very heat conductive so make sure you're wearing an oven mitt. Their kitchen block furniture with the thick wood top is well made, though it should be stained and varnished to avoid stains.

Chairs - maybe half the chairs I've gotten from Ikea had poorly drilled screw holes such that the chair couldn't be assembled correctly. Fortunately, the benches are made of such soft pine (read: scratchable) that you can drill your own hole easily.

Sometimes Ikea will eliminate a part (eg: a supporting brace for a dresser) but not redesign the assembly instructions. You might think you're missing that part, when in fact it was omitted deliberately.

They save money where they can by selling you disposable furniture.

tricolon 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I just wish they'd stop using Verdana.
znarfdwarf02 6 hours ago 0 replies      
12% 3D-Renderings per catalog seems a nice optimisation effort, but rather deadline-wise than cost-wise. While it makes it easier for them to meet the catalog deadline, the cost savings are neglible (at least compared to the total cost of the "demo furniture" in their 350 shops worldwide)
kaiyi 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I like Ikea's selections, and its designs are appealing to younger home owners. But from my experience, Ikea really needs to improve customer service. I called Ikea regarding some problems with delivered furniture, and they put me on hold for about an hour.
Ask HN: How do aquihires work?
33 points by brazzy  3 hours ago   21 comments top 14
far33d 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Teams have value greater than the sum of their parts. It is highly unlikely that $BIGCORP would be able to poach 100% of the team, or even 100% of the key players outside of an acquisition offer, and to do so could be much more expensive.

In successful acquihires, the acquired teams stay together and work on a new but related project with the additional resources and weight of the big company behind them. When it works, it is much better than just putting random people together since building effective teams is hard and takes time.

Also, keep in mind that acquihires often give the majority of value to the employees in new, unvested stock options vs. cash or vested stock.

webwright 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Poaching doesn't work when the people you're trying to hire fall out of bed and land in 10 job offers. These people aren't job hunting.

Acqui-hires generally have a tension where the founders/investors want money for stock, but the acquirer doesn't really value the stock very highly. If it were up to them, they'd want to dissolve the company and hire the team with big signing bonuses and retention packages.

Practically speaking, what generally happens is that the team gets a "back-loaded" deal where they get a combination of signing bonuses, stock payout, and annual retention packages that start small but get larger every year. So if you quit in the first year, you pretty much get nothing other than a few stock dollars.

zbruhnke 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Speaking from an Entrepreneurial perspective an "Acquihire" is what our investors like to call a "Soft Landing" AKA we ran out or are running out of money with little to no traction.

Typically an Acquihire is not much more than a way to give your investors back something so you will not give yourself a black eye in the investment community and you'll have the opportunity to raise money again in the future.

In many cases Acquihires are set up by current investors who know you're struggling and looking for a way out. As investors in you they would much rather see something like this than "we're shutting down our product and parting ways" that does no good for anyone.

So while its not always a good investment some acquihires really are, even though the CEO or CTO may leave fairly quickly from a high profile acquihire chances are some members of the team (key members) will stick around for their earn out, enjoy the froyo and build some kickass new products for the company which has given them new found stability.

From an investor perspective Acquihires are just the polite thing to do, One could call it Failing gracefully

koopajah 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"After all, the employees could leave the acquirer ASAP"

I'm guessing that most acquihires deal have a clause preventing you from leaving the company ASAP. Or at least an incentive to make you stay with the company (shares, yearly bonus, etc.). I don't think google will buy a company XM$ and see them leave right after.

Another point is that the acquiring is not "hostile". This is a deal between the startup/team being acquired and the large company so they weighed their options and chose to accept the offer - i.e. they want to work for the big company or are interested in the project they are being offered.

There is a lot of threads here on HN describing that talent is hard to find in technology and it's understandable to acquire a team that already work well together and produced something concrete.

One last thing was a comment by pg here : http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4366621 saying that
"The article doesn't mention one of the most important reasons companies do HR acquisitions: competition forces them to. If company A offers to acquire a startup and company B merely offers to hire the founders, all other things being equal the founders will take company A's offer."

EwanToo 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Judging by the results of most aquihires that I've heard about, they simply don't work.

It's almost certainly a nice tax result for the acquirer, making the acquisition cheaper than hiring the individuals with large cash signing on bonuses.

Can anyone actually point to some successful acquihires?

ironchef 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The advantage for those employees being acquired is (typically) a liquidity event for their current shares. Say Acme, Inc. buys Little Guys N Me for 10 mil....and you are an employee of Little Guys N Me to the tune of 1% (or such). Depending on wording of your shares, this could mean a quick 100k..or there could be another cliffing / vesting situation. Also there will often be golden handcuffs put on (that are nicer than coming to the company independently)...so more shares of Acme, Inc. than one would get independently.
anovikov 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The people who are being acquired are usually tied to the acquirer via 'golden handcuffs', so they can't leave. Why just not lure these employees by giving them better offers? Probably because everyone knows that the acquihires are common so it's stupid to leave the startup 'for free' instead of waiting it to be acquired, and get some cash. If the new employer will give a signing bonus big enough to each of them it won't be much cheaper than acquihire, but he will get individual guys, not some company with established leadership, structure and culture.
sunkencity 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's because most startup founders are not very interested in getting hired. Hard to poach people who doesn't want to let down their team, and maybe the team is what you want anyway. Also easier to have a lock-in for a couple of years if it's tied to purchase of a company rather than just hiring somebody.

In straight consultant companies this happens a lot. Only way to grow is to hire more consultants, and it's easier to get more people by aquiring whole companies and lock in the consultants for a couple of years. Good deal for everybody if you don't work yourself to death before cashing out.

davidw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> so what am I missing

A bit of bubbly froth?

It doesn't seem like a great deal to me either, but I suppose it's difficult to tell either way without a concrete way to measure and judge.

1qwqw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
An "acquihire" says a lot about the founders of the company being acquired. It usually means they're burnt out, or aren't convinced that what they've built is a viable company. It's a "let's cut our losses" move.

That's not to say it isn't a good deal for the founders, but it's certainly not a good deal for many other people. The mindset isn't "let's create 1,000 jobs where there weren't any before," it's "let's make enough money to feel comfortable again."

That said, they can't just leave their acquirer immediately. Typically there's a time _and_ performance-based earn out applied to the terms, so they need to stay (and perform well) at the acquiring company for a set amount of time. Usually two to four years.

buntar 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Why so strict with the definition of the term 'aquihire'?

What I see in tech startups:
Little companies acting as labs for the big companies. In big companies, it's often difficult to develop something breaking new. There is so much infrastructure, culture and history around, that it gets increasingly difficult to think outside the box and to keep up with the latest trends. This were startups step in. With the startup, they often acquire a very specialized piece of technology and know-how. Then comes step two: Looking for ways to integrate the new toys into the productline.

scott_meade 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Is there anything to the strategy in aquihires of terminating a competitor? If you hire employees away, the competing company might still exist. By doing an aquihire get the option to remove a competitor from the landscape as well. See: Sparrow?
rcamera 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Acquihires doesn't have necessarily the sole purpose of hiring new employees. Take a look at Facebook buying Face.com, Face did create a technology that was interesting for Facebook, it wasn't just the employees in which Facebook had an interest on. The tech now belongs to them, and they can use it to improve their own, or even replace it. Better than that, the original Face team can now work with the Facebook's team that was working on face recognition software, cooking up new and better ways of doing that. Of course there are risks here of the teams not meshing together well, but this is all analyzed and decided upon before the acquihire.

Other than that, acquihired employees aren't necessarily interested in being hired the other way. When inside a company, you have to climb the hierarchy ladder, you won't be hired after college to just be the leader of a big team, or the CEO of the company. For the people not interested in climbing the ladder, building a startup and being acquihired is a very good way of hacking the ladder and landing right on top, or close to it. I recommend pg's essay on this ( http://www.paulgraham.com/hiring.html ) This, together with the fact you have already mentioned that these acquihired employees have proven the ability to create something, reduce the employer's risk on selecting the wrong person to do the job, making acquihiring a good investment opportunity.

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