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DC Taxi Commission Proposes New Rules to Shut Down Uber uber.com
37 points by japhyr  1 hour ago   11 comments top 4
uvdiv 8 minutes ago 1 reply      
It's like a criminal racket, except it's the city doing it.
robomartin 3 minutes ago 1 reply      
As a Libertarian I find this downright revolting. Unions and government working together against progress and free market forces. It does nothing to improve quality of service or to allow competition to lower costs. It is simply repugnant. When will people realize that unions --and those in government who favor and feed them-- are helping destroy this country from the inside out?
sudonim 32 minutes ago 4 replies      
As a business strategy, this kind of brinkmanship wouldn't make me sleep well at night.

Basically Uber goes into a city, hires drivers, outfits them with equipment and starts operations. And for what it's worth, the service is awesome.

By the time the city & existing cab and livery drivers notice and want to do something about it, they've look like the bad guys, are anti-competetive and they've turned the public against them.

It's clever, but I can't help but think they'll end up with a situation soon that doesn't end up working out in their favor.

kmfrk 25 minutes ago 1 reply      
It's sad that in order to stay in business, start-ups might have to instate a position as CPO: Chief Political Officer.
Ubuntu Will Now Have Amazon Ads Pre-Installed slashdot.org
197 points by cooldeal  6 hours ago   137 comments top 43
avolcano 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Honestly, if Ubuntu dropped their ridiculous, underdeveloped, undersupported Ubuntu One services and partnered with Amazon to integrate theirs (Cloud Player/Cloud Drive/etc), that would be a MAJOR improvement for both them and the end-user. Excellent cross-platform cloud services and marketplaces integrated with the OS would be great for bringing less-technical users to the platform in the wake of the proposed "Windows 8 exodus" (if it actually happens).

Instead, they're using... basically affiliate links. Instead of a real monetization strategy involving a real partnership, they're using the "blogger who just realized he could make money off of this thing" strategy.

recoiledsnake 4 hours ago 4 replies      
From the actual link:


>For example, when you want to search for “dishwashers” on Amazon you can just enter “Dishwashers” in the Dash and a small line of “suggested items” from Amazon will appear.

>The same happens when you search for a local file or app from the Home Lens.

>So yes, you can expect to see self-help guides on compassion when trying to launch Empathy.

>‘More Suggestions' is a strange turn of phrase; most people don't tend to expect product suggestions when looking for their e-mail app. But I can cede that it's a far better name than that used in development: ‘treat yourself'

Showing ads when you search locally seems a tad much and a waste of system resources. Isn't this equivalent to showing shopping ads based on keyword searches in Spotlight and the Windows Start menu?

Edit: Just realized that I sometimes type keywords to find local files matching filenames and content that's personal in nature. Does this mean all those keywords are sent to Amazon and perhaps data mined to show personalized results?

onli 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just a sad development.

Canonical sure needs money. Before this, the deal was that Ubuntu is free in both ways and Canoncial tries to earn money with support-contracts for corporations. That wasn't succesful enough (which maybe isn't too surprising with established forces like Redhat already in the market), so Ubuntu One marked a new approach, to monetize the wide distribution of Ubuntu by offering paid services (but also a free offer). The try to participate on the in-app-purchases goes in the same direction.

So far, there was a balance. Unity in itself can be seen as a tipping point, where Canoncial tried to steer Ubuntu in one direction without even trying to align that with the community. That alone made Unity a hard sell for established ubuntu-users, its bad state in the beginning didn't help.

And now ads. Ads are seldom in the best interest of the user. Sometimes they are, when they offer exactly the product the customer searched for (i once got a cheaper dsl-connection because i arrived via a google-ad when i searched for dsl connections, for that i was thankful). In the Unity dash, the user is trying to start a program or to open a file of his, so it is almost guaranteed that the ad will never be what the user searches for.

So all this default does is enabling a probably very small revenue-stream to canonical, while cluttering the dash and irritating users by givem them the feeling that this ubuntu-desktop is doing strange things not in their control (even though they can disable it, a new user won't know how and even if he did, the system did something unexpected, which will bother him).

I hope there are better ways to monetize (maybe donations, paid features like the already existing ones, integrating google music, an ubuntu-tablet, facebook-integration paid for by facebook, certified hardware - but sure not simple ads -.-).

w1ntermute 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Just a note: all the ads will be removable with the command:

    sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping --purge

naner 3 hours ago 3 replies      
It is beyond time for Ubuntu to quit pussyfooting around and partner with ASUS or some other competent hardware manufacturer* and sell Ubuntu-branded laptops on the Ubuntu website. The Linux desktop (in various incarnations) has been in "testing" for over 15 years. Shuttleworth created Canonical and hired designers and developers to put together a 1st-class desktop system. Time to double down. Try and get some real customers who acutally pay for things.

*No, Dell's half-assed shitty Ubuntu machines don't count.

nikcub 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> Items appear in a ‘More Suggestions' strip underneath local search results.

So even if you are just searching for a local file or application, that search string is being sent to Amazon. Thus, an entire history of what you search for on your computer will be stored with Amazon.

This is no different to how adware functions. It opens up massive privacy implications that are not addressed or discussed in OP (or anywhere else that I have seen) but need to be before this feature is released in a stable version.

Edit: I have no problem with integrating Amazon for affiliate fees, just think it needs to be thought through a little more so that there are no surprises to users. Add to that the privacy implications needs to be disclosed to users frankly and upfront.

comice 5 hours ago 1 reply      
In fact, I just realised that I really like Ubuntu and would happily make a monthly donation to support it (and can afford to) but I've never seen anything that suggested I do so.

I can't find any hints on ubuntu.com on how to donate (though they have a shop, I don't want any "swag").

Shuttleworth has always said he wants to make it a viable business; perhaps he's worried people would donate instead of having their business buy support (or whatever). Hrm.

EDIT: I searched their site and found the donate page. It doesn't seem to be linked from anywhere; only discoverable by using search.


wpietri 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Might I instead suggest a 'supporter' icon somewhere obvious?

How I want it to work: I click on the icon and get taken to a page that shows whether I've donated. If I do, I say how long the donation is for. (E.g., I choose $10 and 6 months.) My icon goes green across all my machines and I feel smug. In 6 months, it looks sickly, so I click on it and donate again.

kintamanimatt 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Why don't they just ask for money from users? Have two versions: an ad supported one which people can easily remove the ads, and a paid version that doesn't come with the ad package by default, and maybe a few extra "premium" perks like wallpapers, themes, whatever that aren't in the FOSS repos together with extra backup space. They could charge on a par with OS X, say a total of $29 for the next two versions.
mmagin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it distasteful because it means that in searches which naive users may be accustomed to being local searches of their computer, those search queries are also being passed to some third-party (Amazon) API. If they're interested in this revenue stream, I suspect Ubuntu isn't going to make a big deal of this information leakage at installation time.
comice 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Whether you like the ad-supported model or not, this is just bad UI!

Who searches their programs and wants to see matching books and music? I could understand listing other software for sale, but this is daft.

I doubt they'll get anything but complaints about this and it'll go away.

waterlesscloud 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Still on 10.04, suppose I'll stay here a while.

ps- Aadvertising Aardvark? Commercial Coelacanth?

jlkenyon 5 hours ago 2 replies      

If this is because they were not getting enough donations from the users, then I am disappointed in us for not supporting them (I give $25 annually, maybe it is time to up that to $50).

If they are getting enough in donations, but they just got a taste for money, then I am disappointed in them for compromising the spirit of open source (even if it adheres to the doctrine).

If they are getting enough in donations but really want the capital to take Ubuntu to the next level, then I am disappointed in all of us (especially me) who just couldn't find the time and energy to join the project, write some damn code, and help make the project great.

But at least this last one is an interesting prospect...

rogerbinns 4 hours ago 1 reply      
What Canonical/Ubuntu should do is some text like this:

"When you use Ubuntu we receive affiliate revenue based on your usage. How would you would like the money distributed?"

Then have some sliders like the Humble Bundle to proportion it to the program authors, GNU/fdo etc, EFF and Canonical. Everybody wins that way - folks who don't like Canonical can set their share to zero percent. And just by using the system you cause the appropriate people and organizations to be rewarded.

rbanffy 39 minutes ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one here who thinks this is not disturbing at all?

If you don't like it, it's not very difficult to turn off. If you find it too difficult to turn off, maybe Ubuntu is not the right operating system for you.

mark_l_watson 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I must say, having forgot to make a donation to Canonical the last time I updated my laptop (my bad!) I don't mind this so much.

Depending on what language I am coding in I either have IntelliJ mostly full screen, or I have emacs and a few term windows open that cover most of the screen.

Question: does anyone know if they ads will be visible in these work modes?

fromhet 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this in any way different than having Google as default search engine, taking a share of music sold via the music library or taking a share of what software is sold via the in-os-app-store?

Nothing shitty, I bet many (not you guys who read HN, but non-power users) will like this feature. I don't think I'll disable it.

And that: it's possible to disable, that is nice.

moystard 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like the Mozilla / Google deal. It suits me fine as long as I can choose to remove them later on.
dpearson 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As long as this stays Unity-only, I wonder if the other Ubuntu-based distros (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, etc.) will see a surge in users. Even if the ads can be removed, this move still sours me on Ubuntu more than a little.
motters 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It all depends upon the details of implementation. If they're spamming the user with "and before you open this window our sponsor would like to bring you this message..." then that would be pretty bad, and I'd stop using Ubuntu as a result. On the other hand, if you can use the lens to do shopping and get reasonable search results from a range of companies configurable by location, etc, then I think that would be a useful feature. If you're just limited to shopping with one company then that would also be bad (anti-competitive).
brodney 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks more like a tax on the average user. Apparently they are trivial to remove:

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

Tichy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Following the link, it appears that the unity search will simply also return Amazon results. This could be cool or not - in any case it is easy to uninstall apparently.

I use the amazon search via DuckDuckGo all the time in Firefox. Granted, I still tell DDG explicitly to search Amazon (via !), but it is not a far step to simply returning it always.

Maybe adding something like the !-notation for special searches to unity would be the golden way.

smoyer 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I can live with this (or uninstall it) but will they fix my audio? It had been fine after about 8.04, but has been broken by every update that included Unity by default.
loboman 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, moving to Linux Mint next. Any other suggestions?
RexRollman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Ads in an operation system? No thank you.
jaimefjorge 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Would love to hear Linus opinion on this..
Monotoko 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see the problem here? I order a fair bit from Amazon, easily being able to search for it in my dash and give to canonical while doing it seems like a win/win for me?
runn1ng 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am OK with this when this will be easily uninstallable, at least they will get some money (and more money can lead to better system).
antidoh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't mind paying for .iso files.
realrocker 6 hours ago 1 reply      
O Cmn...just take some money instead. I can shell out a few dollars.
hyperbovine 4 hours ago 1 reply      
How dare they attempt make money in return for the tens of thousands of hours I have spent using their free product.
whitewhim 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Fedora is looking pretty tasty right now
alpeb 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Canonical once again surprises with how little they understand their customers.
armored_mammal 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm. I guess I was smart to start using Mint around when 12.04 came out.
bkerensa 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The Slashdot article is pretty much just FUD please see my response


andyl 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Unity has been an epic disaster. Sad.
taw9 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Gawd. Unity, and now this garbage. Should be interesting to see how Mint does...
denzil_correa 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It will be interesting to know why Amazon was the choice.
bashzor 6 hours ago 4 replies      
What the hell... I'll never use Ubuntu again. Or well, at least not for a while, even after it's removed. They call this "free software"?
chm 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess this means I will not be upgrading from the last LTS :/
nilved 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how easy it is to convert to Linux Mint.
roothacker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't see any problem, as I have adblock installed.
The man who singlehandedly carved a road through a mountain wikipedia.org
272 points by wr1472  9 hours ago   69 comments top 19
known 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." --George Bernard Shaw
_delirium 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me a bit of this tunnel, though it had a rather different motivation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burro_Schmidt_Tunnel
ck2 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow a real-life John Henry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_%28folklore%29

(though I suppose the legend is based on amazing real workers)

MattSayar 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So everybody agreed this was a good idea and that the road was necessary, yet nobody bothered to help this guy? He's a very self-driven guy.
qwertzlcoatl 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Here he is standing next to his road: http://s3.hubimg.com/u/3993454_f520.jpg

And a video about this original Minecraft player: http://gktalk.blogspot.de/2011/08/man-from-gahlour-dashrath-...

smugengineer69 5 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a famous Chinese four character idiom about exactly this scenario: 愚...移山 (Yu gong yi shan), or "the foolish old man moves the mountain". Here's a link to the (short) translation of this story: http://english.cri.cn/4426/2007/01/15/167@185195.htm . I particularly like the role of the "wise man " in this story, who is actually the naysayer here. The names of the people in the story illustrate the common perception of these two roles: the old man YuGong's name means "foolish old man", and "Zhi Sou" means "wise old man". Who's the foolish one after all?
mikemoka 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember this story when someone goes on and tells you that something can't be done.
dhughes 7 hours ago 1 reply      
That reminds me of my neighbour's wife who on a rainy evening dug a new driveway, with a shovel.

This was a bungalow and on one side was their driveway and on the other was the lawn. She dug back ten meters and down about three meters, by hand, with a shovel, in the rain.

Yes my neighbours are crazy.

jbp 6 hours ago 0 replies      
On a similar note, few months ago I posted https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3827675 Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants a 1,360 Acre Forest
aritraghosh007 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This question on Quora has a reference to many such other stories (including this one)
mileswu 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how much it would have cost to do this with mining/tunnelling/etc. modern equipment. And whether it would have been cheaper to pay him $10/hr for 22 years of work, or whether the 'modern' way would have cost more.
batgaijin 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I would have used dynamite, but to each his own.
neo_mhacker 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I admire his persistence and good will. But more importantly this shows how India sucks at having a procedure for its people to request basic needs!
instakill 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone's been reading the Quora newsletter.
unix-dude 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of that Chinese guy who built stairs up and down a mountain for his wife. Dedication, true dedication.
oulipo 3 hours ago 2 replies      
It would have been easier to just build an hospital in his town..
Revekius 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Is this even relevant to hacker news? I mean I could see that technically he is "hacking" through a mountain, but really?
mseepgood 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I did that once as well in Minecraft.
From 0 to cryptography rosedu.org
23 points by mariuz  1 hour ago   10 comments top 4
GFKjunior 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Those are pretty standard in cryptography, the equivalent would be "foo" and "bar".
tptacek 41 minutes ago 2 replies      
If you thought this link was useful, I'd be interested in knowing why.
de1978st 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great Link, thank you.
vinitool76 52 minutes ago 1 reply      
Site down?
Facial recognition will be turned off for Facebook users from Europe europe-v-facebook.org
41 points by conductor  5 hours ago   8 comments top 4
mibbitier 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Misleading title. It'll be off by default, but users will be able to turn it on if they want.
comice 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Privacy is dead. Except where it is still enshrined in law.
kyriakos 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's good European Union does something useful for a change
darkhorn 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm EU citizen but I live out of EU. Will it be turned off for me? What I have to do? To change my country to a EU state?
Stop Using noreply ryanhoover.me
27 points by rrhoover  4 hours ago   10 comments top 8
greenyoda 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"I replied and we shared a short conversation where I learned the meaning behind the name Quibb. Fun. :) And she does this for all new users. Bravo, Sandi! As Sandi has demonstrated, the Internet doesn't have to be faceless. We need to stop communicating with robots."

This idea doesn't scale very well. If you're a struggling little company that's trying to hold on to a handful of users (Quibb is currently "invite-only" [1]), it might be feasible. But a company that already has enough users to be successful can't afford to hire all the people it would take to personally interact with every user. Imagine how many people Facebook would need to hire to personally thank every new user for opening a Facebook account (in the hundreds of languages that Facebook users around the world speak).

[1] http://quibb.com/about

Skalman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The post talks about sending personal emails. While that may be possible for smaller companies it doesn't really scale. At some point a company will have to use more automated email.

However, I think that you should really consider whether email is an acceptable means of supporting customers/users. If it is, why not have Reply-To: support@example.com?

It has happened on several occasions that I have questions regarding an incoming email, but it's sent from noreply (with no Reply-To) so I can't respond directly. Instead I have to look for an email address or a form on their website, requiring a long detour.

nhangen 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
I agree. It doesn't require anything extra to use an email address that accepts replies. Even if they go into a dark hole and are never read, at least you aren't sending a message that you don't care what the receiver thinks.

When I receive a no reply, I assume that the company doesn't care about my opinion as it relates to their communication, and in that case, I share the sentiment. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The exception, I suppose, would be something like an Amazon email notifying me of related products.

dantiberian 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is useful in some situations but a large amount of transactional email doesn't and shouldn't have replies made to it. As with almost all advice that you find in blog posts, it works in one situation but is presented as an answer to every situation. Instead of arguing in the comments about whether or not this would work for your company for every email, try and suggest places where this would be useful.
sudonim 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I love that Sandi does this. However, it doesn't scale. I signed up on the 18th when her blog post about it hit HN. I didn't get a personal email from her but I had the expectation to after reading the post. :/

I'm trying to figure out how to make this type of thing scale beyond your first 100 customers, and I've come up with a few thoughts.

1. Don't create that expectation of a personal connection. This is the most common thing you see at large companies. I don't think this is a good way to do it.

2. Hire someone as the face of the company -- the community manager probably, and send a mix of automated and personal mail from them. But make them the face of the company. This is something I'm responsible for now. And it still has limits.

3. Randomly assign a contact person within the company for every signup. And automate the insertion of their signature in every email. This however has issues with turnover, and the voice of the emails.

So far, I think what works best is automated (but specific) emails from me, the CEO. And then introductions to the rest of the team for problem resolution.

I'd love to hear what others think works best.

peterjmag 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My initial response was, "What about companies that send email to hundreds of thousands of recipients? Surely they can't always handle such a flood of direct replies." But if you don't have the resources to handle so many replies, then you probably shouldn't be sending email blasts to that many people in the first place.
kosei 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think this message is geared toward startups. But it's not explicit. It's a good point for startups to try to increase the understanding of their customers. But obviously is not relevant for companies with much larger reach.
solox3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well, yes. If your email is sent such that you welcome replies, you don't use noreply@example.com.
Writing Rules: Advice From The Times on Writing Well learning.blogs.nytimes.com
59 points by 001sky  7 hours ago   17 comments top 6
tptacek 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings.


mattparcher 5 hours ago 0 replies      
On the subject of “writing rules”:

The submitted article is titled “Writing Rules! Advice From The Times on Writing Well”, but (as of this writing) the title appears here on HN as “Writing Rules Advice From The Times on Writing Well”.

Arguably, the modified title is readable, and largely conveys the meaning of the original article.

But certainly the run-on converted title is quite different than the source. I wonder if the HN parser would do well to, instead of simply stripping all exclamation marks as a matter of principle, at least convert mid-title exclamations to a hyphen, to indicate the separation within the original title?

E.g. “Writing Rules " Advice From The Times on Writing Well”

(Even then, “Rules” loses its original implication as an excited verb to instead become a noun, but this particular confusion may be unavoidable.)

ilamont 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If only my high school and college teachers had given advice like this. Instead, we were forced to follow the Edwardian rules of Strunk & White and teachers generally looked down upon any non-standard form of literature, including the science fiction I was reading at the time -- books by Wolfe, Delany, LeGuin and Gibson (this was in the late '80s).

As for the suggestion in the article to follow the voice in your head, I learned to do this by writing extensive travel journals in the 1990s and further developed it through blogging.

I also wonder how the introduction of email has impacted writing. I believe email helped develop my own voice and editing skills -- when I first started using it in the mid-90s, it probably increased my monthly written output as much as 10x (I had written letters in longhand before then). It also exposed me to the written "voices" of friends, colleagues and strangers.

Spearchucker 5 hours ago 3 replies      
It's a really good post that speaks to good style. What bleaks me out about an industry in which syntax permeates everything, is how much we tank at basic grammar, spelling and vocabulary. And then there're the hipster buzzwords that makes many cringe -

Friend me/text me. On premise. Ping me. Your very clever. That effects me.

Practical advise is out there.



6ren 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like extended metaphors. When done well, they tell you more about something, in terms of what you already know. They can also be affecting (a pedagogically oft-quoted example: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171781).

Another technique is reviving a dead metaphor, in which you extend a metaphor which has become a cliche, abstracted from its original concrete meaning. Like the word "dead".

Both these techniques can be used as cheesy special effects, but when used well, they affect you without they themselves being noticed.

elliptic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe the title should be: From the Times, Advice on Writing Well
How to stop hospitals from killing us wsj.com
24 points by bmahmood  5 hours ago   11 comments top 6
Alex3917 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
"If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America"just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer's."

This is wrong, it's at least the third leading cause of death. And realistically if you don't smoke and you exercise once in a while, medical 'oopsy daisies' are probably your #1 risk of death:

C.f. The IOM's report To Err is Human: http://wps.pearsoneducation.nl/wps/media/objects/13902/14236...

And then also read Lucian Leape's commentary in JAMA on why it is probably a huge underestimate: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192842

(Leape is one of the authors of the original IOM report, and the report cites a lot of his own research, including his study estimating that only 5% of medical errors are ever discovered.)

C.f. also Barbara Starfield's estimate in JAMA: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192908#RE...

Realistically, all of these estimates are at the low end. In fact most of them only count deaths in hospitals (and severely undercount them), when at least half of all medical errors are thought to happen at local doctors offices, plastic surgery clinics, nursing homes, etc.

C.f. also the CDC figures for Hospital Acquired Infections, which IIRC the IOM report doesn't count as being medical errors:


My personal rule of thumb is to avoid taking any drugs or getting any non-trivial medical procedure unless I've read at least three books about it. The problem is that all the papers published in medical journals are basically complete bullshit (except the occasional well-done NIH ones), which means if you want real information about a given drug then the only way to get it is to subpoena the FDA, or read a book written by someone who has.

The way drug approval works is that you need 2 tests demonstrating that the drug is better than a placebo, but you're allowed infinite tries to get there. So often a drug will be better than a placebo in only 2 out of 10 trials, but it will still get approved and only those two trials will get published in medical journals. And then those journal articles will have very little in common with the actual data from the FDA trials because the pharma companies completely spin it, which is why the vast majority of the most popularly prescribed drugs are not only no more effective than placebos, but in fact significantly worse when you look at the total quality/length of life.

greenyoda 1 hour ago 3 replies      
"A few years ago, Long Island's North Shore University Hospital had a dismal compliance rate with hand washing"under 10%. After installing cameras at hand-washing stations, compliance rose to over 90% and stayed there."

There's something seriously wrong with the medical profession if doctors only wash their hands 90% of the time, even if they know they're being watched. The words "reckless disregard for human life" spring to mind. How many deaths from infections per year could be prevented if hospitals just fired any doctors who didn't wash their hands? (Hospitals are a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens like MRSA.)

Another interesting article is Atul Gawande's "The Checklist" [1] (later expanded into a book), which describes how the use of simple checklists, similar to those that pilots use, can prevent medical errors like operating on the wrong body part.

[1] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/10/071210fa_fact_...

anigbrowl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The US is rated worst among developed nations for this sort of thing: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/News/News-Releases/2005/Nov/...

I was in hospital following an accident last year. When I was discharged from the ICU the following day, the nurse gave me the paperwork for the patient in the next room. I didn't notice, being still rather beaten up by the whole episode - it was my wife who spotted it. For a 12 hour stay I ended up paying over $15,000, and then I hard to fork over an extra $90 to get copies of the medical record. On paper.

I'll take socialized medicine any day of the week. the private sector does a terrible job of healthcare.

ivix 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
The NHS already provides this data:


The spreadsheet:


Sadly, you can pretty much guess the results. Poorer areas = higher death rates.

nancyhua 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I feel sorry for everyone involved in this complex industry, no arena of which is aligned with the goal of people's long term health.

The common sense suggestions in this article are a good step towards improving things by increasing transparency and accountability via documentation but may not address the root problems.

marshallp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The only real solution to healthcare is to reduce costs by eliminating hospitals/doctors altogether using big data/telerobotics/smartphones. Sadly, because of the AMA and FDA this innovation will have to occur offshore first.
Show HN: Web client for WhatsApp filshmedia.net
31 points by sgehlich  6 hours ago   21 comments top 8
bvdbijl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a python API that I made but didn't upload till now https://github.com/boukevanderbijl/python-whatsapi
smoyer 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Rightfully scary ... Why would you eschew the well defined protections of XMPP in the first place? You could still place your "proprietary control characters" inside the Jabber messages.

I'll stay well clear of WhatsApp until they get this fixed!

tluyben2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish Whatsapp would make their system more secure, remove that one-device at a time non-sense and then provide a nice official API and voice chat for it.
slig 4 hours ago 2 replies      
How does WhatsApp deal when you change your SIM card into a new phone? I mean, how does it know it's you on your new phone?
sidcool 4 hours ago 1 reply      
A great idea indeed! My only concern is privacy. I shudder at the thought of sharing my phone number/IMEA number online.
darkhorn 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't have a smart phone. How I can request a activation code?
janmonschke 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Would love to see Emoji support in there ;)
wmw 4 hours ago 3 replies      
are you willing to open source that api port?
Gittip: New, Interesting, Important justinlilly.com
25 points by justinlilly  5 hours ago   15 comments top 5
trotsky 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a pretty safe bet that the money is related to django as the last time i looked nearly all of the activity on gittip was django related.

And if you're going to define "open company" I think I'd shoot a little higher than open source project + authorized_keys

jnbiche 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I noticed this a few weeks ago and like the idea. I hope it catches on. I think Gittip could really benefit from Bitcoin integration, since it would lower the cost of micropayments to almost nothing.

EDIT: ANd yes, to be clear, Gittip is not down -- it's hosted by github if I'm not mistaken. The actual address is: http://www.gittip.com

1qaz2wsx3edc 3 hours ago 3 replies      
The problem with gittip is the size of tips developers are collecting. Most developers have high-end salaries, IMO. The top people on gittip are collecting around $150/week. For these people that's probably converts to an hour or two a week of paid equivalent work. Great, so these developers can handle a couple of merge requests a week, but it doesn't actually enable them to work on something. Gittip also lacks focus, it doesn't commit a developer to work on something, it's merely a thank you, a donation. Donation-ware conversions are super low, you can't expect it to supplement anything.

I think gittip is a neat idea, but I strongly feel that it is a doomed project unless something changes radically.

PythonDeveloper 5 hours ago 1 reply      
LOL... Gittip.org is down, the URL you have in your post should be "gittip.com".
juanbyrge 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Gittip is one of the most interesting charity concepts I've seen these past few weeks.
Ruby's magic underscore po-ru.com
73 points by Hates_  10 hours ago   19 comments top 6
majormajor 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post! I had no idea that Ruby supported _ for "don't care" in block declarations like that.

Ever since I first saw it in Prolog, I've loved the idea of having a special symbol for "don't care", and I find the examples using it in this article to be much more immediately clear than the ones with unused variables (once you know about the _, at least). While it doesn't provide the same level of functionality here as in Prolog, being just a nice little indicator of unuse here, using duplicate names for unused variables, feels much more sketchy to me -- a non-underscore variable name just doesn't stand out as immediately noticeable in the same way.

And allowing duplicate names as a general rule, not just for one special case, seems a much more likely thing to trip up inexperienced programmers in the future. Say someone was lazy and used "x" as their unused variable, and someone newer to the language came along and didn't notice the duplication and actually used the x variable for something?

dasil003 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a good example of the little inconsequential details that I love about Ruby. As much as I sometimes dislike the way things are done in the community, I always respect this attention to detail. It contrasts with the PHP approach of "what symbol is available to shoehorn in this new functionality", not to pick on PHP but that's where I spent half my professional life.
__alexs 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Why does _ need to be special cased like this? In Python this works with any variable name.


    >>> p = { "Alice": ["g", 1, "a@a"], "Bob": ["b", 2, "b@b"]}
>>> [(name, email) for name, (unused, unused, email) in p.iteritems()]
[('Bob', 'b@b'), ('Alice', 'a@a')]

sunkencity 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The ruby prompt Irb has _ as the value for the result of last expression as in Perl, it's pretty handy. Didn't know this that it could be used in destructuring like in Erlang.
alagu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I started using _ after reading github's style guide. Never new it treats it in a different way. Useful.
adiM 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't this copied from Haskell? Being a lazy language, Haskell has the advantage that the underscored variable is not even evaluated.
Show HN: Pipe, library to run ifttt-like alerts locally github.com
13 points by sathish316  3 hours ago   10 comments top 6
dfc 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat project. If I could make a recommendation, I would suggest dropping the capital I. Its not used consistently; git repo versus title of this post versus command name.
jordanmessina 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Any plans on making this a web service?
azar1 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Damn, I was talking to a friend about writing something like this just yesterday!

Good job!

tom_usher 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks nice - been thinking of something like this for a very lightweight ESB.
peteforde 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd use this! Kudos for implementing it. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
pizza 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks good but it shares its name with a popular pseudo-tool; may I suggest WTTT (when this then that)?
Still Too Pricey barrons.com
57 points by lmg643  9 hours ago   43 comments top 9
xpose2000 8 hours ago 5 replies      
I am tiring of these articles.

I like how some firms decide to throw in P/E comparisons to Apple and Google (Two seasoned juggernaut companies.) . Yet LinkedIn is also a social network, has an absurd P/E ratio over 100, but that's okay.

"Anyone who owns Facebook should be exceptionally troubled that they're still trying to 'figure out' mobile monetization and had to lay out $1 billion for Instagram because some start-up had figured out mobile pictures better than Facebook," says one institutional investor.

These are what the experts have to say? He hardly sounds like an expert to me. Tell me a company who excels at mobile monetization.

I wonder if Wallstreet fully grasps what Facebook is all about and how it fits into the grand scheme of things. Perhaps looking at traditional markers for evaluating a company like Facebook isn't working?

They fail to realize that Facebook is the most traffic'd website in the world. (According to Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/topsites).

Somehow $15 doesn't sound right.

ericdykstra 6 hours ago 6 replies      
Instead of writing an opinion piece that will likely influence a few people, why doesn't this guy use his exemplary knowledge of Facebook and the stock market for profit? Why not keep this information to himself and short $fb or sell the information to an institutional investor?

My guess is that his "knowledge" is worth more as an article that he got paid $25 for writing than it is in actual practice.

antr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
$15 / share is a fair valuation given Facebook's cash flow profile and top-line decelerating growth.

Said back on 19th May (the day after FB's IPO):

"asset managers [do is] look at Free Cash Flow to Equity, not Net Income. On a FCF to Equity valuation, FB IPOed at +220x.
Even at a generous P/E or FCF/E ratio of 25x, Facebook's Free Cash Flow needs to go from $450m to $4,000m in the next 24-36 months. Do you think that is possible? After looking at their infrastructure needs I think not."


antidoh 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook could expand or replace their customer base.

Currently their major (only?) customers are companies paying Facebook to place ads in front of people who don't want to see them and may in fact try hard not to see them.

Although ads has worked for radio and television, it seems shaky to me. It reminds me of the early days of television and radio, where shows on TV were largely plays adopted to TV, because that's what people did with the preceding medium, and news programming was an announcer reading the newspaper, because the newspaper was where news came from prior to radio and TV.

Ads worked for the preceding media, but that's no reason not to innovate monetization on the web.

Facebook could, instead or in addition, charge money to its users for access to Facebook. They could sell their mobile app. They could ... well, they're smarter than me, they can do their own innovation. :)

If your uses don't commit to use by spending money, then they're essentially transient, waiting for the next free thing. Make Facebook a service that people don't complain about at every changed policy and implementation, make it so good that people will pay to use it, and I'll be impressed. (Not to take away at all from the accomplishment so far.)

walru 8 hours ago 4 replies      
They don't even make a firm stance in saying that it's worth $15/share. With decelerating growth and the fact they can't figure out how to monetize mobile I have no idea where they figure FB is worth that much. A 47x multiple on these guys is a joke.

This recent rally is akin to a dead cat bounce. Nothing in the market goes straight up or straight down. We'll be seeing sub-$15 soon.. Consider it a x-mas present.

Actually while we're on the topic.. the Dow is getting close to 14,000 again; our high from 2008. Don't be surprised to see a double top on the markets and then a sharp retrace afterward.

lmg643 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Somehow this link got renamed (not by me). The cover of Barron's says "Facebook is Worth $15".

See for yourself:

SagelyGuru 6 hours ago 1 reply      
P/E ratio is never irrelevant. I said soon after the IPO that FB will go down to $10 and I have not seen anything yet to change my mind.
kosei 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It will also be incredibly difficult for Facebook to monetize its games, which still represent a sizable portion of their .com revenue. No game company will be willing to give them a cut of their mobile revenue when Apple is already taking a 30% take. That should be especially concerning to investors.
antidaily 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a stock I have no interest of owning.
'AOL squatter' takes wraps off new startup, Claco mercurynews.com
32 points by cpeterso  6 hours ago   9 comments top 4
smoyer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the better stories published when he was originally caught living at AOL - http://news.cnet.com/8301-32973_3-57440513-296/meet-the-tire...
comex 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Heh... the new name makes me think of the word "cloaca".
dkroy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Ever since that first story showed up on HN, I have loved reading about this guy. When a guy with ambition has a work ethic like this, it is great to see them do well.
joesheehan 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This kid is a thief, AOL should take him to court for equity in his company.
How Cubie got 3.5M users in 6 months by thinking 'market first, product second' quibb.com
12 points by sandimac  3 hours ago   discuss
To Stay Relevant in a Career, Workers Train Nonstop nytimes.com
37 points by digisth  8 hours ago   20 comments top 13
kiba 5 hours ago 3 replies      
There are two type of knowledge: timeless, and changing specifics.

API, libraries, and platform are specifics. It's something you learn and throw away (eventually).

Continuous deployment, unit testing, debugging, basic programming knowledge, are timeless.

One thing to keep in mind: Even timeless knowledge will be subjected to decay if you don't practice it.

adrianhoward 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My dad went from helping out at my grandfather's high street shop to designing satellite test rigs, and ending up specialising in conveyer systems of all things.

My partner's dad went from painting ships in Chatham dockyards to helping design and build nuclear submarines, power stations & containment facilities, and ended up working in nuclear medicine.

Neither of 'em went to university.

Continual on-the-job learning doesn't seem like a terribly new thing...

guylhem 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Some minor training might be needed to stay relevant - that's true in any job.

But if you find yourself in need of almost continuous training, like the guy described in the article, you have a problem

Leaving aside the medical problems (memory problems, attention issues):

1) Maybe you have badly invested your time, ie. in knowledge with a negative interest rate (ie a fad - the technology du-jour which will be outdated tomorrow) - then you need to keep pumping knowledge. Your problem is not in the learning, but in the choice of the topic - i.e. learn something else!

2) Maybe also you are not specializing enough, i.e. carving your niche in a domain where you knowledge would create a significant barrier of entry? But that'd be another way of saying your topic has a positive interest rate and that you are just compounding interest!

In both cases, it seems to me to be a problem of a wrong choice (leaving aside the fact that you shouldn't resent what you are doing, if you really love it)

So do something else, find your where your competitive advantage is or where your passions leads you.

bryanlarsen 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The article implies that this is a new phenomenon brought on by the advent of computers. Computers have certainly accelerated this trend but certain occupations have had this problem since before computers were ubiquitous. For example doctors have to regularly submit proof of continuous learning or they lose their license to practice.
mark_l_watson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The need for continuous education is accelerating for a lot of careers. I have taken 4 online classes this year, I have bought at least 12 technical books (probably read about half of the pages in them) and I am working on writing a new book (actually a revised edition of my old Java AI book).

I probably spend 1 hour on these self learning activities for every 2 hours I spend making money on my business (consulting). I am comfortable with this investment for two reasons. First, I feel like this provides me with a secure long term business. Second, the learning time is fun and relaxing - not as much as my hobbies hiking, cooking, and music, but still, I count studying time as a form of recreation.

justinph 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A less aggressive method is to attempt to achieve things that you're not sure how to do you. Learning is built in to every project, then.
Codhisattva 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an especially important point for coders. In my 23 year professional life I've had 4 very different careers, involving 7 major platform changes, at least a dozen different languages and more SDK documentation that I can remember.

It's not like technology or the rate of change will be slowing down in the future either.

So, learning how to learn efficiently is an important tech skill.

hkarthik 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As a developer, in addition to retraining yourself, you also may need to change jobs fairly often. Often it's the only way to utilize and develop newly acquired skills if you want to stay relevant and make the skill acquisition worth it.

However, I think it's easy to get caught into the rat race and overlook what it means to be "irrelevant". If I look back at my coworkers who stayed behind (in terms of training and advancement), most of them have very fulfilling lives with more work/life balance and stability. They just made certain compromises in terms of having jobs thrown at them all the time or in having higher salaries.

I'm still trying to find my own personal balance here, especially as I've grown older and had my family responsibilities increase.

henrik_w 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been coding for over 20 years, and I can't say I find it "exhausting" having to learn new languages, tools and techniques. On the contrary, learning new things keeps me from getting bored.

Also, constant learning is already a prerequisite for programmers, since coding to a large extent is a discovery process. You learn and discover more about the problem as you develop the solution.

ruswick 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This just seems obvious to me. Granted, I'm only 16 and have had but one foray into the world of corporate employment, but the notion that someone can learn a skill early in their life and practice it indefinitely without expanding or improving upon it literally makes me want to laugh. The world simply moves at too rapid a pace not to constantly be learning.

The need to improve yourself as an employee doesn't exactly count as news. Intellectual stasis is career death.

bennesvig 4 hours ago 0 replies      
As society speeds up, Eric Hoffers great quote becomes increasingly relevant:

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."

chm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Communist Manifesto, 1848.

Take some time to read it - even if you don't agree with the ideas - and indulge in that 19th century prescience.

panda_person 3 hours ago 1 reply      
But isn't this the way it is in tech? No one cares if you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals that rarely (if ever) change. Its all about knowing the trendy platform/language du jour. Which, I'd think, is a bad thing-it encourages people to hop onto fads to learn in order to get jobs, but I'm not sure if it really encourages people to learn fundamentals.
Silicon Valley is Stupid (which is why it works) gigaom.com
20 points by dweekly  6 hours ago   1 comment top
001sky 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The original (2010)[1]


[1] </irony>:// it is (was) a marketing campaign.

Finnish Startups Are Raising Large Rounds by Targeting the Largest Opportunity arcticstartup.com
26 points by dirtyaura  7 hours ago   3 comments top
naww 5 hours ago 2 replies      
> Supercell attacks the $ 7-10 billion mobile games market,

So does every other mobile game company. Why this one is better than others doesn't open to me by reading this blog post.

When Will This Low-Innovation Era End? wired.com
3 points by jnbiche  1 hour ago   discuss
On the diminishing marginal utility of Stuff antipope.org
59 points by cstross  10 hours ago   35 comments top 15
reasonattlm 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Expanding on the part about wanting to buy therapies but not being able to - a place where rich and poor are in a similar boat, but it isn't the same boat, as suitable wealth means you can start to do something about the environment of research, not just live in its shadow:


[Of] the world's high net worth individuals, most [do] very little in the way of funding research into aging or the conditions of aging. [Or any other medical technology for that matter]. It is their inaction that is opposed to their own self-interest: they are all aging to death at the same pace as the rest of us, after all. When it comes to access to medical technology the world is remarkably flat: the poor struggle in this as in everything else, but the wealthy have no more ability to buy a way out of aging (or heart disease, or cancer, or any of the other conditions that attend aging) right this instant than does anyone else. What they do have is a far greater ability to create a near future in which rejuvenation biotechnologies exist and are just as widely available as any present day clinical procedure.

It is in the self-interest of everyone who can significantly speed up the development of ways to reverse aging to set forth and do exactly that - but very few are making the effort. [Consider Ellison's medical foundation, or Thiel's funding of SENS as some of the few, lone examples]. At some point it will become evident to the public and the world at large that aging to death whilst surrounding by wealth is insanity in an age in which those resources could be used for the development of age-reversing medicine: ways to repair mitochondrial DNA, break down accumulated metabolic byproducts that clog up cells, clear out senescent cells, restore declining stem cell activity, and so forth. But as yet this is not obvious enough to those people who matter.


Expanding on the part about vision versus the drive to gain greater amounts of money: it's a challenge and a rare thing to be both a zealot and very wealthy. The roads to being these things are both long and quite different; either is a process more than a thing you are:


My suspicion is that it is not just longevity science that looks in vain for wealthy zealots, but that in general any grand cause that people can feel very strongly about also lacks wealthy zealots. It seems to me that there is in fact little overlap between the small population of zealots for a cause, people willing to devote their working life and significant resources to a grand project, and the small population of very wealthy people, those with a net worth of $100 million and up.

We can speculate as to why this might be. For example, I might try to argue that the sort of person who can successfully run the long and unlikely process of becoming very wealthy is the sort of person who doesn't think about what they can do with money. They are not doing what they do for money, and the process is their passion. Someone who was a zealot for a cause would have stepped off that process long before reaching the possibility of attaining a very high net worth. Having a mere seven figure net worth for most people enters the territory of being able to prioritize volunteering over working, or funding a small mission in their favored charity. The temptation to break off and work on doing good rather than continually doubling down and doubling down on the process is ever there.

Or to put it another way, the passion for the process that will make a person wealthy takes up the much the same mental space as the passion for a cause: there are only so many hours in the day, and only so much attention that a person can give to any one set of information. So you are unlikely to see a person who has (a) accomplished the necessary devotion to work and process for a shot at becoming very wealthy, but also (b) put in the necessary work and process to become a zealot.

Or to put it yet another way, neither becoming exceedingly wealthy nor becoming a zealot are things that just happen one day out of the blue. They are each a fair way down their own different paths of effort, realization, and specialization.

gojomo 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Steven Randy Waldman of the blog Interfluidity has a great post which makes the case that "Wealth is about insurance much more than it is about consumption."


It's a great insight, and the thought experiment to "[c]onsider a libertarian Titanic" is illustrative.

(Though, it's a unfair slur to label the scenario 'libertarian', as that word does not mean 'everything is reduced to dollar purchases' except in a caricature promoted by critics. Just calling the scenario a 'pay-to-play Titanic' would be descriptive without extra partisanship.)

wpietri 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you meet somebody who literally cannot get enough food, it's pretty easy to recognize that there's something wrong. If their desire to eat wrecks relationships, causes harm to their health, makes it so that all they can talk about is the next meal, you say: that's not right.

But when it's money, it's much harder to recognize that insatiability is a sign of pathology.

That's not to say that all hyper-rich people are pathological. For some it is indeed a favorite game (Buffet) or a tool for big plans (Musk) or the result of doing something they loved (Page and Brin).

But having worked in the financial industry, I have met people for whom the desire to amass incredible wealth is a sign of deep, deep problems.

lowboy 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> Another example: the late Steve Jobs. Doubtless he received the best medical care that money could buy"but it wasn't enough to save him because a cure for his pancreatic cancer didn't exist at any price.

I'm not a Jobsologist, but didn't he eschew traditional treatment in favour of alternative medicine for something like 9 months?

thenomad 8 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the irritating things about money is that its value, and the extent to which you can top out your use for it, very much varies according to your passions.

For example, both Charles Stross and I are creatives with a passion for telling stories - but the media we strongly prefer have pretty dramatic effects on the utility of money for both of us.

He mentions having already effectively topped out on the utility of cash for him - as a novelist, there's a limited extent to which more money helps him fulfil his passion.

By contrast, the utility of cash for me tops out around the $300m / yr mark, that being the cost of making and marketing a top-end feature film every year. Below that, there is definitely utility in every dollar as far as Doing What I Like goes - although of course diminishing returns still apply.

And for some people - like Elton Musk, whom he mentions - there is effectively no top end in sight. If your passion is to get to Mars, you really don't hit a point where more money wouldn't be helpful.

DanBC 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Some people don't actually have that money. It's all a money merry-go-round of debt and credit and weird financial instruments and shell companies in tax havens. It doesn't take much for it to all go wrong.


Or the money isn't liquid. It's in a huge private funpark, or IP rights that aren't making much at this moment.

Michael Jackson 'nearly bankrupt'

For a small (tiny?) number of people their estimated worth or their position on some 'rich list' is equivalent to HN karma, or reddit karma - meaningless but strangely compelling.

William Gibson[1] has a nice take on the super rich. Those weird families cloning each other and living in space colonies or engaging in high concept 'pranks' against their enemies.

[1] Bad form to mention the competition?

jseliger 3 hours ago 1 reply      
WRT this: "I have three answers." I would add a fourth answer: the stupendously rich have a lot of assets in stock and so on that's not really about the money, per se, but about control. It doesn't seem like Zuckerberg, or Gates before him, deeply cared about having 1x billion + z billion; they cared about having control over Facebook and Microsoft, which happens in the form of stock ownership.

However, I don't see this as the motivating factor for the person Stross mentions in his last paragraph, so, to the extent the post is mostly about that paragraph, I don't have a great answer.

sneak 8 hours ago 0 replies      
He seems to make the implicit assumption that you can only spend money on goods, and not services.

I have all the Stuff I could need or want (save maybe an rMBP instead of my Air, or a new camera or something), but if I had more money I would almost certainly spend it on things like airfare, hotels, seed-stage investments, and the like.

There's a lot more one can do with money than "buy stuff to fill up one's house" or "fund research".

kghose 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It starts off interesting, but ends a bit abruptly. If possible, I would like a little more at the end about your thinking about all this, some philosophy etc. (Unless it was all a political jab).

PS. Mitt wants what ALL politicians want. A roof over his head, food on the table, running water and unlimited power.

asparagui 9 hours ago 1 reply      
An well written little essay that buries the lede on the last paragraph. ;-)
MatthewPhillips 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting essay until it revealed itself only to be an elaborate pot-shot on a politician he apparently doesn't like.
anonymouz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The examples he give seem to be more about "money can't buy everything" instead of diminishing marginal returns.

Under diminishing marginal returns of Stuff, I would have expected something akin to "Gadget A generation n+1 is only an incremental improvement over Gadget A generation n, we should aim to build Gadget B instead".

RivieraKid 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of the major reason for mandatory wealth redistribution (= taxes etc.). It makes poor people significantly better at the expense of making rich people slightly worse off. The society as a whole benefits from this.
keiferski 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Money/stuff has a diminishing buying power, i.e. you can only purchase and consume so many things. But it doesn't have diminishing creative power.

For all the billionaires out there with too much money, look up the Medici family.

shalmanese 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Um, of course Mitt Romney wants to buy something unavailable at any price: The Presidency.
Facebook Wants You To Snitch On Friends Not Using Their Real Name paulbernal.wordpress.com
185 points by mindstab  21 hours ago   137 comments top 23
tokenadult 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I have been on online networks of one kind or another since 1992. I am 100 percent behind the idea that people using their real names (the rule of some networks I have been on) promotes better online community and people taking more responsibility for their personal behavior in the community. That said, I do have some friends who have long established pseudonyms that have most of the good effects of real names, because those friends still try to build up reputation for those pseudonyms. (You'll have to be the judge of how well I'm doing here building up the reputation of "tokenadult," a screen name I brought here from two other online communities where pseudonyms rather than real names are mandatory but changing names is difficult so that reputation still accumulates for each name.)

That said, I refuse to "out" my niece's dog, who has a Facebook profile. It's important to have amusing counterexamples out there so that people don't invest too much trust in Facebook. In the last week or so a Hacker News participant (I don't know his real name [smile]) suggested that Facebook could monetize by being an online payments platform. For consumer-to-business transactions, I don't trust Facebook as a payment platform because its engineers have the attitude "Don't be afraid to break things," which just doesn't appeal to me for a network that handles my financial data. For user-to-user transactions, I also don't trust Facebook because I don't trust the users unless I know them in person--my Facebook community is enjoyable because it really consists of people whose real identity I know, and who know me. If I want to do business with strangers, I occasionally do that through Amazon Marketplace, but that is because Amazon has built up its own reputation for standing behind transactions there.

AFTER EDIT: Several comments in this thread are along the lines of

It's not hard to imagine a near future, if not a present, in which a person's identity is entirely evaluated, shaped, and determined by a monolith such as facebook.

But most people in the world still are largely stuck with the reputations distorted for them, before they can develop their reputations for themselves, by their family or their classmates in some small community. Facebook is LESS of a "monolith," because it is made up of hundreds of millions of users, than any small town anywhere. A lot of people find it liberating to find online communities based on shared intellectual interests (Hacker News works for this too, of course) rather than just being stuck with their current group of in-person acquaintances.

FellowTraveler 9 hours ago 3 replies      
In Mexico, bloggers are disemboweled and strung up from bridges as a warning to others, by cartels.

In Syria, government snipers murdered bloggers to silence them.

In China, bloggers are imprisoned at hard labor.

In the United States, the Federalist Papers were released anonymously in order to protect the lives of their authors.

It is only the spoiled, rich and free countries who make such naive and irresponsible statements such as, "I am in support of people using their real names online."

A better question is, what actions are Google, Apple, and Facebook taking to protect our vital ability to remain anonymous online?

Smudge 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Enforcing real names has pros and cons. For Facebook as a business, the pros certainly outweigh the value lost when accounts can't be mapped directly to real people. Names are a key part of that mapping.

In general, I prefer an option for pseudonymity, because it is much more inclusive (allowing certain people at the fringes to feel more comfortable joining in -- victims of abuse, political dissidents, etc), and is much less messy than total anonymity (which wouldn't really work for something like Facebook, not that there isn't a place for it elsewhere on the web). That said, pseudonymity can still get messy, so I see why Facebook might want to keep it in check.

One can also make the argument that the level of discourse is much higher on services where people are more personally accountable for what they say, and where confusing or offensive usernames don't get in the way of conversations. But I would say that the actual level of discourse sometimes found on Facebook throws that argument into question.

clobber 17 hours ago 3 replies      
We're setting a really bad precedent for the future here and these sorts of things need to stop now. Unfortunately, people don't seem to want to fight this.

Now we have people getting turned down for jobs because they DON'T have a facebook account[1]. What's next?

1. http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/109ipi/no_faceboo...

jedbrown 21 hours ago 2 replies      
If the responses are actually anonymous (as they claim, but I don't believe it's actually anonymous in their database), it would be easy to generate enough false positives to spoil the system.
jrtashjian 20 hours ago 3 replies      
The only problem with forcing real names that I've recently encountered are family members who work in prisons. They use a modified name as to make it difficult for an inmate to gain knowledge of them and where they live. Personal and family protection in a way with the ability to still use Facebook to connect with distant friends and family members.

Anyone else run into this instance?

mkjones 18 hours ago 13 replies      
Hey folks - I work on the Site Integrity team at Facebook. We work to keep people safe from scams, spam, fake accounts, and having their account taken over.

We're always looking for ways to better understand how people represent themselves online and improve the design of our service. We look at the results of this kind of experiment in aggregate - the responses doesn't have any impact on the user account or that of their friends.

Karunamon 21 hours ago  replies      
FTA: Indeed, under the terms of the Snoopers Charter, it wouldn't just be Facebook who could access this kind of information: the authorities could potentially set up a filter to gather data on people who don't confirm the names of their friends

Yes, and I could potentially sprout wings from my ass and become a travel carrier. The rest of this article is nothing more than a ton of thinly veiled fallacies, slippery slope and appeal to emotion the least of the two.

Is the feature dodgy? Perhaps.

Did you agree to the rules of the party before joining? Yup. One of which is: "Use your real name".

Should you be surprised if you get called out on it? Nope.

You're more than welcome to protest unfair policies (whether saying you'll put truthful info on a form is "unfair" is left as an exercise to the reader), but much like civil disobedience, you have no right to complain once you are found to be breaking the law/policy and are punished for it.

This is a website. Let's try to keep perspective here.

Meist 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I work with Matt at Facebook and wanted to reaffirm his comment below. This survey was a small anonymous test designed to improve the systems we use to keep the site safe for everyone. And, we have already confirmed that the responses collected will have zero impact on people's accounts.

We believe a real name culture is core to our mission of making the world more connected and helps us to provide the best possible experience for our users.

PS One thing I did want to note is that we offer Pages where the individual admins are not listed and have been effectively used in the past by a wide variety of groups, movements, brands, and individuals.

w1ntermute 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This could be a good way to hasten the departure of users from Facebook. If you get the accounts of all your friends using fake names suspended, they might be more willing to move to Google Plus.
brackin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
They'd love a database full of confirmed names, which advertisers could buy into. With Facebook the '900m users' are all real people not just accounts created.
pasbesoin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Time to call it: Jumped the shark.

Is there anything more "anti-social" they could have done? Betrayal. Or... maybe they're just trying to make it more realistically social?

Seriously, it's another instance of not listening to your users. Strong-arming only works as long as you are strong...

ari_elle 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't really think the connection that he tries to make between Facebook's real name policy and the need for anonymity for whistleblowers/oppressed regimes is really fair.
Facebook wants to be a social portal were you feed your desire to be seen and make stupid updates about your life and contact your friends when you go out with them.
I don't really think that Facebooks policies are crucial for whistleblowers :D

What should be done?
Stop using Facebook. Everybody has e-mail, it's quick enough, it's fun and people tend to think before they send off an e-mail (something i miss with instant messaging).

The niveau on facebook has been hiding under the table since i don't know when and that is true for their policies and for how people use facebook, so instead of trying to force the niveau to come out, how about giving up already?

If Facebook is such an important part of one's life that even while being unhappy with their policies you can't give up on the service, then that's just sad....

tyrmored 21 hours ago 1 reply      
If nothing else this might help put the kibosh on the intensely annoying way Facebook users tend to use cutesy fake names so that you don't know who the hell they are when they comment on your posts.
mikiem 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh excellent. I can help those poor neutered friends stuck as half of user like "Susan N Steve Smith" because their significant other created that account.
propercoil 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is the X button? "leave me alone" ? i'm deleting my account right at this moment i had enough
denzil_correa 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a reason why people do not want to use their real names. Currently Facebook does not keep up with such promises. What has changed to make me have a leap of faith on Facebook?
ivany 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Every time fb does something scummy, and people act surprised, I am surprised. They've proven themselves to have the morals of a used car dealer. Why would you trust them, or be surprised when they act untrustworthy?

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." No?

idunno246 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I always wondered why google+ got all that bad press and facebook didn't for real names
VeejayRampay 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone has people they don't like and vice versa. People that know your real name. I suspect it wouldn't too hard to crowdsource "identification" to the audience of Facebook so that they can monetize their idiotic platform better.
fauigerzigerk 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's a kind of Milgram experiment.
at-fates-hands 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Wrot wrow, the gig might be up for myself. Hopefully none of my HS friends will out me. If so, I'm going to have to close my account.

Not that I use a lot anyways. . .

rsync 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I was going to say that I can't believe Salman Rushdie stooped so low as to mail a copy of his passport to some website.

But it's harder to believe that he had a facebook account in the first place.

Show HN: HTML5 Bird Flocks Simulation in CoffeeScript chrisp.gr
40 points by chris_p  9 hours ago   24 comments top 11
Malcx 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Smooth running, but the flocking behaviour just doesn't quite feel right. The boids overlap/collide and just don't feel to "flock" correctly.

Do they have awareness of the other boids around them?

iamwil 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Like others here, I had a run at this using lua love four years back.


In my experience tweaking the variables, to make it look 'realistic', the settings need to change as the number of boids increase. So what might work for n boid, won't work for m boids, where m >> n.

In addition, you need to limit the turn angle for the boids. They don't look like they're flocking as much as they're orbiting. Just as birds can't turn on a dime (actually, they can. I've seen a sparrow change direction in mid-flight just as I was going to hit it with my car going 40 mph, but for the purpose of flocking it looks better when they can't.), you don't want your boids to, so you get a swooping effect and feel.

hythloday 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very attractive. What's the "flock size" slider? Is it the number of neighbours it keeps track of or the neighbour distance?
andrewfhart 6 hours ago 1 reply      

Another great take on an HTML5 flocking implementation is Alex Cruikshank's "birds on a line" demo, in which the birds also "land" on wires. I really like how Alex handles 3-dimensionality by adjusting the darkness of the birds so that the further "back" they are, the lighter they appear.

demo: http://carbonfive.github.com/html5-playground/birds-on-a-lin...
source: https://github.com/acruikshank/html5-playground/blob/gh-page...

shuw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I also use flocking algorithm for a visualization of words on my homepage http://shuw.github.com/. I ported the algorithm to D3 here https://github.com/shuw/flock if anyone wants to reuse it
Lockyy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
My immediate reaction is that I really want this as a screensaver.

Absolutely beautiful. I will definitely take a crack at making the screensaver myself when I get around it it.

onehp 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a go at this too a little while ago.

It's not web based unfortunately so here's a short video of it running: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY4DHcsuv1Y&feature=youtu...

And sourcecode: https://github.com/OneHP/murmuration

Also because I'm not great with my vector maths you'll spot that the boids have some odd behaviour where they favour vertical movement. Strange little bug.

Edmond 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Love it...Please hack for education!

Here's my last appeal:


kushsolitary 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This is what I did a few months ago http://cssdeck.com/labs/ckosol2k/1

But yours feel much better.

MatthewPhillips 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Link the github page 404s.
amirrajan 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Any similarities to the bird flocking algorithm when compared to a force directed graph? Here's a link to a force directed graph I did in HTML5: http://amirrajan.net/Home/FdgHtml5
Get $50 for Publishing an Android App amazon.com
4 points by SirPalmerston  2 hours ago   1 comment top
gailees 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
This offer shipped in November 2011...
       cached 22 September 2012 22:02:01 GMT