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Beta Late Than Never (Steam Linux Beta) valvesoftware.com
164 points by phenylene  4 hours ago   53 comments top 12
DigitalSea 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It's about time a major player got behind Linux, I'm glad it's Valve as they are arguably one of my favourite game developers not just because they make great games, but because of their overall attitude and work culture. Hopefully this gives Linux a little needed spotlight boost and perhaps gains Ubuntu a few new users.
zissou 58 minutes ago 2 replies      
I don't even play video games anymore, but I played a hell of a lot of CS back in the day. Many years have passed, and I jumped on the Linux bandwagon about 3 years ago, and am now supposedly a productive member of society. But dammit, all I can think about now is plowing over AK-47 slinging bastards running through the top tunnel on de_dust with my pump shotty, or mowing people down with the UMP or headshots with the scout. I don't know, I loved the obscure weapons.

I would increase my consumption of video games from a non-zero amount if I could play CS on Linux.

Make it happen Valve. You got me, I'm now nostalgic.

trotsky 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Such a small set of testers especially considering how many of them will go to friends/industry probably means they are expecting to get buried under a shit storm of bugs.
shmerl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Would be better if they'd drop using DRM.

Let's hope GOG will follow with shipping native Linux games. With their DRM free stance - they'll be very well received by Linux users.

If you are interested, you can vote to show them that there is a demand for it:


rogerbinns 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm hoping they will provide access to the Humble Bundles as they do on Windows. It is a pain keeping up to date with them manually.
syaz1 3 hours ago 5 replies      
Is the 3 at the end of the URL a subtle jab?
mrschwabe 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't wait! Here's hoping Steam Linux - in combination with the Microsoft's terrible decisions on Windows 8 - can be the catalyst for a mass exodus of gamers from Windows to Ubuntu/Linux and end an era of Windows PC gaming dominance that has long been overdue.
batgaijin 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Hopefully they add basic RPM bundling as well; as much as I like Ubuntu I think if you are distributing binaries we should be able to expect support for the latest Fedora as well.
kript 3 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a great thing, next year will be the year of linux... definitely...
ekianjo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The ''one game'' in the private beta is left 4dead 2, or is there any indication it might be something else?
jebblue 2 hours ago 1 reply      
>> We will be using a sign up page for the external beta. Information about the sign up will be announced in a future post.

Now I need to bookmark that blog. :-)

grkovalev 1 hour ago 0 replies      
oh, steam on linux? really? it's will possible if Valve will do create the distribution of Linux and will support and further developed its.
“iCloud Backup” marco.org
114 points by jordw  4 hours ago   47 comments top 17
kylec 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Last friday a co-worker managed to snag one of the new iPhone 5s from an AT&T store and wanted to transfer everything from his old iPhone 3GS to it. He had not been syncing his 3GS to any computer, so I thought it would be a simple matter to set it up to sync with iTunes on his work computer, have it make a backup, then restore that backup onto the iPhone 5.

Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it should be. The sync appeared to go fine, but there were no apps or anything when restored to his iPhone 5. Going into the sync settings in iTunes offers an option to turn on app syncing, music syncing, etc, but alarmingly doing so would have completely removed the existing apps, music, etc on his 3GS.

Turns out that the only way to get iTunes to download the apps and other content from the 3GS was to right-click on the device in the sidebar and click "transfer purchases". I actually had to look up how to do this because that function is completely non-obvious.

Why is this the case? Why can't Apple be smarter and have iTunes download all information from the iPhone upon connection? My Palm m100 I had a decade ago managed this just fine - I could HotSync to a computer that I had never used before and it would dutifully sync contacts, calendar, etc, and make a full backup of the device. Also, shame on Apple for making it so easy to wipe the apps, music, etc off the phone during the process of trying to back them up. I hate to think that he might have lost everything, or been completely unsuccessful moving to his new iPhone just because of these stupid sync restrictions.

primigenus 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is why I'm so infatuated with the concept of the Chromebook.

A lot of the "techie" stuff like backups and restoring that Marco describes here is solved with a Chromebook. And it uses familiar user interface paradigms that people recognise from their experience using Windows (especially now that they added the windows management system that looks a lot like Windows 7), whereas the iPad has completely new paradigms that people transitioning from a computer will find strange and foreign.

Many people I've introduced to iPads and Android devices have ended up not really using them because they're much more familiar with the point and click windows-based desktop system of Windows than "apps".

Not that the Chromebook fixes everything. But Google has done a great job identifying some important problems with the way our technology works today and is trying to get rid of those problems or make them irrelevant by providing you with a device where you really don't have to worry about hooking it up to your PC to "sync", update the system OS version, figure out the settings for something techie and confusing, or use iTunes (my God, iTunes) to do anything.

Can you imagine what a Chromebook-iPad hybrid device could be like, with the automatic updating of Chrome, syncing system of Chrome, familiarity of Chrome, but the polished user experience and app ecosystem of an iPad?

ChuckMcM 2 hours ago 2 replies      
People with no technical experience using modern technology, sometimes I explain this to folks as the "Chutes and Ladders" problem.

You set the problem up like this, person comes to you and wants to buy lunch. You put down a "Chutes and Ladders" game (minimum age 3) and you say sure as soon as your piece wins. Now wait and watch them. If they do anything that isn't in the rules you play a loud buzzing sound and scold them.

The thing is that "Chutes and Ladders" is like the simplest game ever, but when you combine "I'm trying to do X" with "Your trying to force me to learn Y". A number of people's brain just freezes up. I don't know if that is like some deep psychological principle but the fact that doing "Y" is totally unrelated to trying to get "X" done its like your brain refuses to allocate any cycles at all to learning Y. What is worse people get emotional and angry because dammit they want X and before you blocked them they knew how to get it.

We forget that as children when things were 'new' we expected to not know how to do them. But when we are set in our ways that level of change is much less tolerable. In a lot of ways all sorts of technology is like that.

One strategy I've had some success with is to take people who aren't trying to do anything with the new technology yet and just explore it with them. That goal of exploring allows them to ingest new concepts, and then when they try to do something with the technology some of those 'learn the game' concepts will already be in their brain.

swang 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I recently left a job that initially gave me a iPhone 3G ~3 years ago. When I upgraded to a 4S I just transferred the settings over.

When I left I decided to delete my email account because why would I need it anymore. So I remove the account from the iPhone and went to eat a bagel.

Imagine my surprise when I come back to my phone to call my sister except iPhone tells me I only know about 8 people.

Apparently the iPhone tied all my contacts with the company account so when I deleted that, there went all my contacts with it.

No problem right, I'll just retrieve my backup from my computer from the last time I synced and I'll get my contacts back and then I'll figure out how to transfer over the contacts.

Except apparently when I got this phone with iCloud it turned off backups when I synced with my computer. Okay no problem, iCloud should have it right?

Except iCloud has been telling me that it doesn't have enough space to backup my stuff for weeks. I just assumed that meant my apps weren't getting backed up, which is fine. But apparently they don't update anything else, even if you've already backed it up (this is definitely not all Apple's fault, but iCloud is pretty confusing about its backup rules). Not sure why I couldn't retrieve my contacts from right before when I deleted them but they were no where to be found.

So finally I just bit the bullet and synced with an old backup and lost about 3-4 months worth of text messages. Yay.

eli 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to assume the genius was off script. The shop I worked at had people sign a document before authorizing anything destructive. We usually imaged the disk anyway.

Definitely agree with the larger point though. PCs (phones, tablets, etc) are ridiculously hard to use and unreliable even if you kinda sorta know what you're doing.

Steko 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"I figured that a “Genius” would quickly figure out whether it still had iOS 4, and if so, would just update it to iOS 5 or 6 and then set up iCloud backup."

Wait but "Updating to iOS 5 will delete all of the apps and media... To preserve your content, apply this update on the computer where you sync apps, music, videos, and photos." [1]

[1] http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2011/...

lostlogin 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Macro comments that his grandparents don't want/shouldn't have to spend time dicking around with apple IDs. No one should have to. It's awful. Email, music sharing, itunes match, App Store, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud, notes, and likely others. Getting an iOS device or mac to have fully functioning services usually takes me weeks to achieve (oh, that email account isn't arriving for some reason) as random things that worked just seem to stop working when peculiarities of personal account functionality are encountered. Why on earth the initial setup can't have an initial chance to enter apple I'd one, then a list of services to turn on.
And if for some reason a password reset has to happen it's just terrible trying to get all the devices in the house working again (don't lose Apple TV remote...) is hours of work, and is so bad the password changes are a killer. Please Apple, save us, I'm more than 50 years younger and I don't want this either.
ripperdoc 15 minutes ago 1 reply      
One of the most user friendly additions to software, ever, is the undo button. (if you want to feel how it is to use software without, try Linux in terminal for a while ;) ). And one of the best attempts to do this on a OS scale, is Time Machine. It should be as easy as bringing up a prompt and step or scroll backwards in time. You are really just stepping between data states. If you restore a state, it will merge with current state and step forward (which of course can be undone). You can decide to restore only one app, and thereby limit impact.

Update, restore, "are you sure you want to do this?", "pick the right destination", etc are user unfriendly concepts, and will make people nervous. Auto-update apps, but let people undo. Make restores undoable. Change "are you really sure?" to "don't worry, you can always undo".

Of course, you could argue, this will waste storage space. Well, with a good diff algorithm to rely on, not really that much. And even if so, you can always merge older states together (e.g. the detail of change is mostly relevant to very recent events - a few weeks back, I only care about major things like when I deleted all my contacts and didn't realize until now).

chj 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Honestly I never trust Apple with iCloud. Still need to do backup with iTunes regularly. I wish iOS has better integration with Dropbox because I trust it. But again, if Apple takes over DB, then I would lose my trust. This guy isn't for web service except for music/app downloading.
jpxxx 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The lesson is as clear now as it ever was: users must not be responsible for managing user state.
pooriaazimi 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently had a problem with corrupt file system (that's what I initially thought, but right now I think the disk is dying). Anyway, what I did was re-partition my 750 HDD and installed Mountain Lion in another volume. Then, I copied "~/Music/iTunes" AND "~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync" folders from the (supposedly) corrupt ML to the new ML, and the next time I attached my iDevices to the Mac, they synced back without a problem and I didn't lose a single item. Of course, I also had iCloud sync set up before hand (and now I learned that I can use both the iCloud and manual backup to my computer, which is extremely convenient).

It was a little off-topic, but I just thought sharing that little story with others might be beneficial. I searched a lot before doing that but couldn't reliably verify I can move my Synced data between multiple installations, so maybe others in the same situation find it useful.

sgdesign 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty good with technology compared to the average person (or at least, those whose job description does not consist of spending their whole lives in front of a computer), and even I managed to wipe out a lot of my iOS data when simply switching to a new computer (thankfully I had done an iCloud backup in anticipation of things going wrong and was able to restore. Still lost one app's data in the process, for some reason).

We definitely have a long way to go, although I think a lot of the stuff we put up with is also due to accommodating external forces like backwards compatibility, pressure from the music and movie industries, etc.

norrishung 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Its possible that oversight here was on Marco's part and not the Apple Store's. If his grandfather had told an Apple Genius that "he wanted to make sure he could transfer his stuff onto a new iPad in case this one ever broke", chances are that the Genius would have known what he was talking about. Instead, Marco doesn't trust his grandfather to explain that coherently and has him write down the cryptic words "ICLOUD BACKUP". To be fair, those words don't mean much by themselves and I could see why the Genius thought he was doing the right thing.
guelo 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The whole iDevice ecosystem is complicated. I've seen even tech savvy people suffer data loss or prolonged inconvenience. A lot of it is caused by bad design and buggy software, but a lot of it is also caused by Apple arrogantly throwing up intentional roadblocks.
DividesByZero 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think as time goes on, the digital divide won't be focused on inter-generational (gramps can't use the internet) issues as it is now. Instead, the focus will shift to first VS third world, and rich VS poor.

Generational issues will decay over time as the population becomes made up of a greater proportion of 'digital natives', but the gap between rich and poor will still exist. We should take the lessons we learn here and try to apply them there when the time comes.

jarjoura 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The iPhone since its first version will only ever pair with one iTunes database on one computer. Although, yes, you can still backup your phone to any computer with iTunes, just on restore you won't be able to reinstall apps and music until you sync with the original computer. This is a political policy put in place and not any kind of limitation of iTunes Sync. I and several people have filed Radars on it over the years explaining why this was a bad policy but it always went into the black hole that is iTunes Radars saying "By Design".

The issue is moot now that you can back your phone up to iCloud completely avoiding the iTunes step. It's slow and could be costly if you have a lot to backup, but at least it moves things in the right direction overall.

AngryParsley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
So you've set something like that up for your grandparents and they have no problems using it? Otherwise, this is just Monday-morning quarterbacking.

There are many ways music could have gotten on the iPad. You can purchase music from the iPad. Or you can enable manual music management so that any computer with iTunes can copy music to the iPad. Or it could simply be that Marco synced a bunch of music to the iPad and his grandpa never changed the songs.

Bret Victor: Learnable Programming worrydream.com
674 points by siavosh  12 hours ago   130 comments top 10
bretthopper 11 hours ago 8 replies      
There's already two comments here about being "harsh" or "ungracious" towards Khan Academy which is ridiculous.

The usual HN article that contains criticisms is usually limited to that. Some rant that took 10 minutes to write and contains nothing constructive.

Bret Victor put an insane amount of time into this (I can only assume) and is truly advancing mindsets about programming tools and learning. We should all be thankful that he put this much effort into a "criticism" piece.

scott_s 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Programmers, by contrast, have traditionally worked in their heads, first imagining the details of a program, then laboriously coding them.

I don't think this describes most real work done by programmers. Rather, what he says we should do,

To enable the programmer to achieve increasingly complex feats of creativity, the environment must get the programmer out of her head, by providing an external imagination where the programmer can always be reacting to a work-in-progress.

Is exactly what most programmers already do. We usually don't have a nice, interactive environment to do so; it's usually a combination of coding, inspecting results, thinking some more about new issues, coding, inspecting results, on up until the problem is solved.

In other words, I think that programmers do tend to solve problems by "pushing paint around." I rarely start with a full appreciation of the problem. But in order to gain that understanding, I have to start trying to solve it, which means starting to write some code, and usually looking at results. As I go through this process, the domain of the problem comes into focus, and I understand better how to solve it.

We already do what Bret is talking about, but not at the granularity he is talking about it. For beginners, I can understand why this difference is important. But I certainly solve problems by pushing paint around.

In general, I think this is a fantastic piece for teaching programming, but I don't think (so far) that all of it carries over to experienced programmers. The examples of having an autocomplete interface that immediately shows icons of the pictures they can draw is great for people just learning. But that's too fine-grained for experienced programmers. Chess masters don't need to be shown the legal moves on a board for a bishop; their understanding of the problem is so innate at that point that they no longer play the game in such elementary terms. Similarly, experienced programmers develop an intuition for what is possible in their programming environment, and will solve problems at a higher level than "I need to draw something." That is the reason we put up with existing programming environments.

gfodor 11 hours ago 2 replies      
There is nothing new here. Before you downvote, this is actually a huge complement to Bret. As he's said before he is inventing on principle not inventing for you to download and install his latest hack. His principles have been consistent (and, imho, right), and this is another view into them. But, if this opened up some huge new insight for you then you haven't been paying close enough attention.

He's always been right and I hope he continues to have patience while he continues his conversation with the world as the world misunderstands his ideas. Unfortunately many people are going to latch on to the examples in his demo movies, and the important parts of the essay will fly over their heads. (The most important part of this essay being, of course, to read Mindstorms.)

All of his creative output points to the same core message: programming today is broken because it is not designed. His various essays, talks, and so on are just alternative "projections" of this thesis. This is a sign of clear thinking.

He's given us all the tools we need to solve this problem. These tools are the mental framework he lays out, not the specific concrete flavor he demoed in his latest talk or essay.

The hard part is not building IDEs or visualizations, it's having the guts to throw everything out and start over again, knowing it's going to be a mess for a long time and it will take years before things start to make sense again. It's convincing yourself that most of what you know is useless and that many of your assumptions are wrong.

Why do that when you can just download the latest whiz bang framework and start hacking shit together taking advantage of the life-long skill you've acquired at firing bullets with a blindfold on?

It's scary to be a newborn again, especially when you're in a place where few have been before (and those that have, are largely not around anymore.)

greggman 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Wow! What an awesome critique. I'm in awe.

First off, rather than just saying Khan Academy missed the point, Mr. Victor goes over in extreme detail with full examples with ideas on how to do it better.

Second, he really went into some detail about how to think about things. Not just the solutions but ideas and ways of thinking to come up with better solutions.

Third, he's set the bar for critiques higher than I've ever seen. Next time I want to critique something I'm going to feel at least some responsibility to give good and clear examples of both what I think is wrong and what I think would be better with reasons.

Fourth, even if I never write software to help learning programming or help programming advance in general I'll certainly be influenced in my API and system designs by this post.

Thank you Mr. Victor

NickPollard 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this article raises some brilliant points, and is very well written, but I also feel that it falls short of the mark Bret was aiming for.

As he himself alludes to, most of what he is teach is not programming - it is individual actions. Just as being taught the meaning of individual words does not teach you to write, being taught what certain functions or statements do does not teach you to program.

What is important is not spelling, but grammar - the shape of a program. His parts on Loops and Functions are better on this - the timeline showing loop instruction order is pretty awesome. However, it's still not perfect. At no point is the user instructed what a 'function' is, and how to use it. How do they know that they should be using it? I agree with other commentators who have suggested that it looks too much like he knows what he is aiming for, and the tool is designed to aid that.

In fact, my strongest criticism is in regards to his rebuttal to Alan Perlis:

> Alan Perlis wrote, "To understand a program, you must become both the machine and the program." This view is a mistake, and it is this widespread and virulent mistake that keeps programming a difficult and obscure art. A person is not a machine, and should not be forced to think like one.

I'm sorry Bret, but Alan is right. You do need to be able to think like a machine. Not necessarily an x86 machine, but an abstract turing machine, or a state machine, or a lambda calculus machine. If you cannot think like the machine, you cannot outwit the machine. This is incredible important if you are relying on the machine to give you feedback on what the system is doing.

In all his examples, very simple things happen, and never go wrong more than drawing in the wrong place. What happens if he starts causing an infinite loop? Or creates cycles in a linked list (and remember, sometimes he may in fact want cycles).

In "Godel, Escher, Bach", Douglas Hofstadter suggests that one of the key ingredients for intelligence is being able to go 'up' a level of abstraction. Bret's comment about a circle being made up of small steps, and hence integrating over a differential function, is part of it. A human can recognise that sequential steps with a consistently changing angle can be viewed as a circle. A human can realise that certain relationships are iterative, recursive, self-referential, in a way that (currently) a computer cannot. This is what needs to be taught, and I fear that what Bret has shown here would not help in that element.

However, it's still going to be a better intro than anything we have currently, so I think that in regards to getting people to dip in and try, it will be a vast help. I just hope that Bret keeps thinking about bridging the chasm between setting down series' of instructions, and programming.

nrbafna 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. I can only wonder in awe if something like this was implemented in online courses provided by say Udacity or Coursera. That would be a revolution in online education.
dkarl 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Alan Perlis wrote, "To understand a program, you must become both the machine and the program." This view is a mistake, and it is this widespread and virulent mistake that keeps programming a difficult and obscure art. A person is not a machine, and should not be forced to think like one.

This is nothing but prejudice, and, ironically, it is contrary to how we work as human beings. In any field, we celebrate sympathy between an expert and the matter of his or her expertise. If we say that a pianist "becomes" the piano; we do not regret the dehumanization of the pianist. If we say that a rider has learned to "think like" a horse, we do not believe the rider has become less intelligent thereby. If we say a fireman thinks like a fire, it's a compliment, not a statement that his mind can be modeled by simple physical laws. Sympathy is an expansion of one's understanding, not a reduction. For example, the wonderfully named "Mechanical Sympathy" is a blog that will improve your grasp of the connection between performance and hardware architecture without dehumanizing you one bit. Heck, here's a guy who says he has to "think like a maggot," and he doesn't seem ashamed or degraded in the least: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17700116

Is it reasonable to ask a programmer to think like a machine? Of course. We find it natural and admirable for people working with pianos, horses, fires, or maggots to identify themselves with the subject of their expertise, and there's no reason why we should make an exception for computers. It's true that when it comes to usability, for a long time we've known we have to take very strong negative emotions into account. It isn't an overstatement to say that some people loath and fear computers. However, as a general principle, it seems to me that any educational philosophy grounded in the assumption that the learners find the subject uniquely distasteful or unworthy is unlikely to be effective. If someone learning programming finds computers so inherently distasteful that they are put off by the idea of achieving a more intimate sympathy with them, then the long-term plan should be to overcome their aversion, not to try to teach them to understand and control something they are fundamentally alienated from. Human beings just don't work that way. Alienation and understanding don't mix.

gojomo 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Beautiful and inspirational, and yet...

Sometimes becoming able to hold the 'invisible state' in memory is the skill to learn.

Consider the 'dual N-back' drilling which seems to improve working memory, and then also (by some studies) other testable fluid intelligence. The whole point is holding more and more hidden state in your mind. (To 'show the state' would defeat the purpose of the game.)

Similarly, sometimes struggling with the material is the best way to internalize it.

Consider some studies that show noisy, hard-to-read text (as on a poorly-printed copy) is better remembered by readers than clean typography. Apparently, the effort of making out messy printing also strengthens the recall.

So I'd be interested in seeing comparative testing of the vivid 'Victor' style, and other styles that are more flawed in his analysis, to see which results in the most competence at various followup dates.

We might see that the best approach is some mix: sometimes super-vivid interactivity, for initial explanation or helping students over certain humps, but other times intentionally-obscurantist presentations, to test/emphasize recall and the ability to intuit/impute patterns from minimal (rather than maximal) clues.

gfunk911 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Couple random thoughts:

1. Is Bret Victor now the Linus of cutting-edge programming environments?

2. I don't have enough experience with Light Table or the Khan Academy environment to know whether Khan is just a first step on the way to something like Bret's vision, or more of a diversion. I was fairly impressed with the Khan env in my limited time with it.

3. I HATE telling people they shouldn't speak their mind and/or say what they think is the truth, and I don't think Bret shouldn't have written anything. But it's difficult not to seem ungracious. Josh Resig clearly knows what he's doing, at least in the general sense, and he was gushing with praise for Bret, while this reply basically says John did everything wrong.

If Bret feels that way, I truly believe he should say it, but that doesn't make it fun. This is the essay equivalent of cringe humor I guess. Hilarious/Informative while making you feel bad.

andolanra 10 hours ago  replies      
As far as learning is concerned, I think this is a wonderful idea. I say this in part because I myself learned on Logo before I taught people everything from Java to Scheme, and even the simplest visualization tools could help immeasurably. For example, we had a tool called the Replacement Modeller that would visualize evaluation and substitution in pure-functional Scheme snippets, which was great for stepping through complex code and showing a student what was happening, and it was rocks-and-sticks next to the things Victor is proposing here.

I'm interested, though, in what the ramifications are for advanced, complex programming. I am personally a Haskeller, and advanced Haskell regularly deals with incredibly abstract, difficult-to-visualize structures. Monads are infamous in this regard, and monads are embarrassingly trivial next to, say, comonads or iteratees. I have difficulty imagining this sort of model expanded beyond elementary visualization techniques, and certainly cannot imagine how one might represent and interact with these code structures.

Victor seems to believe that visual, interactive systems such as these should become standard for all programmers, c.f. the section 'These Are Not Training Wheels.' The idea seems powerful, but: how?

A Conversation With Randall Munroe, the Creator of XKCD theatlantic.com
153 points by iamwil  7 hours ago   14 comments top 5
haberman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"I got email from a bunch of physicists at MIT saying, "Hey, I saw your relativist baseball scenario, and I simulated it out on our machine, and I've got some corrections for you." And I thought that was just the coolest thing. It showed there were some effects that I hadn't even thought about. I'm probably going to do a follow-up at some point using all the material they sent me."

God, that is just gold. Randall really has a gift -- he speaks to our imaginations so much that he can count on geeks around the world to participate in conversation with whatever he dreams up. Here's to hoping that we will get to see many more years of his creativity.

dkokelley 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to me the awareness Munroe has about creativity, inspiration, and working environment. He sees that some things are purely distractions (E.G. Reddit, cleaning the bathroom floor) while no distraction (E.G. a room with blank walls) is detrimental to his creative process.
epidemian 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> "I'm not a huge fan of some of the infinite scrolling things that are happening now. I think it's really annoying to want to read partway through, and then you navigate away, and can't get back."

Yep; could not agree more. One solution to this problem could be adding some pagination information to the window.location while you scroll, like the list item you're currently looking, but that creates a new problem: if you go Back that'll just bring you to the previous list item, instead of the previous webpage; not very predictable IMO.

adambratt 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Really interesting article. Thanks for posting it!

Lately it seems almost everyone of his articles has been really well thought out and insightful.

Does anyone know if this is what he does fulltime? I assume so seeing as how he said he spent a solid month and a half on the money chart.

tisme 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Randall is a great guy with lots of really nice stuff. That said there is an absolute glut of xkcd stuff on HN compared to other sites that get mentioned here. xkcd links handily outnumber even wikipedia. One of the HN originated memes is the obligatory xkcd link.
How a random bug in Deep Blue may ultimately have led to Kasparov's defeat washingtonpost.com
9 points by prajjwal  31 minutes ago   discuss
Dietary supplements: Scary substances manufactured under scary conditions scienceblogs.com
15 points by derleth  1 hour ago   9 comments top 4
Lazare 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Interesting article...mostly because it is written, throughout, with the assumption that it would be wonderful if the FDA could prevent people from selling harmless food items. This is masked, but consider these quotes:

"the FDA can't do anything about a harmful supplement until after it has been on the market and caused harm" and "...legislators [...] pounce, doing their best to kill or water down any legislation that strengthens the FDA's hand in removing potentially dangerous supplements."

In other words, the FDA needs to do something about dangerous supplements before it has caused any harm. But not just actually dangerous supplements, but potentially dangerous supplements too. Well, anything new is potentially dangerous. How would you prove something isn't actually dangerous? A clinic trial, one supposes, at a cost of hundreds millions of dollars? This would effectively outlaw the sale dietary supplements, none of which are profitable enough to make such a trial worthwhile.

So, the author wants to shift dietary supplements from "food" to "drugs", thereby destroying the industry. But why? What's so bad about the status quo, anyhow? The author gives a few examples, but almost without exception they are issues which are already solved. That scary story about the NJ factory? Yeah, that's actually ALREADY ILLEGAL. The owners WENT TO JAIL. After being discovered by FDA inspectors, who ALREADY have the power to inspect factories.

So, uh...we have an example of something admittedly bad, which is already a crime, and which is already being monitored by the relevant government department, and the owners already went to jail over it, and this is a reason why we need a law change...why?

Next example, same deal. An incorrectly made product poisoned hundreds of people. If that's a reason to effectively destroy the industry, then god only knows what we should do poultry farmers after the various salmonella outbreaks over the years. Shoot them, I guess?

And finally, to cap the entire piece...the author complains about the FDA not doing a good job of enforcing existing regulations. Which is...an argument for giving them more regulations to enforce. Uh....what?

It's like a politician running for election with the slogan "hey, our team may have completely screwed up the economy, but that just means we know more about to fix it!" Where I come from, serious failure on someone's part is not a good argument for increasing their role and responsibilities.

Empact 33 minutes ago 2 replies      
There's a misleading conflation of at least 2 issues here:

If manufacturers are releasing product with substantially different contents than the label, then they are guilty of defrauding their customers. This is a crime which should be expensive for the guilty company.

But giving the FDA control over what supplements are allowed in the market is a travesty waiting to happen. The FDA works dramatically slower than decentralized market action, and works under incentives favoring control over free choice. Sites like http://examine.com/ are working to bring science and facts to the supplement market, and I expect a lot more progress in this area over the next few years.

derleth 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Quotes from the article, this batch from FDA inspections of supplement factories:

> Some firms don't even have recipes, known as master manufacturing records, for their products.

> Others make their supplements in unsanitary factories. New Jersey-based Quality Formulation Laboratories produced protein powder mixes and other supplements in a facility infested with rodents, rodent feces and urine, according to government records. FDA inspectors found a rodent apparently cut in half next to a scoop, according to a 2008 inspection report.

And this shoddiness has a grave impact on real people:

> In 2008 more than 200 people " including a 4-year-old " were poisoned by selenium after taking liquid multivitamin dietary supplements that were sold in health stores and by chiropractors, according to a medical paper published on the mass poisoning. The products, called Total Body Formula and Total Body Mega Formula, contained an average of 40,800 micrograms of selenium per serving instead of 200, according to the paper.

Evbn 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
There was a fantastic Reddit comment last year where someone did some basic controlled chemical analysis of a very popular cheap protein supplement, and found it had no protein in it.
The iPhone 5 Display: Thoroughly Analyzed anandtech.com
15 points by 001sky  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
tomkinstinch 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if there is a way in iOS to apply a color profile to the display? Even if the displays are well-calibrated for accuracy out of the box, there are other reasons to mess with the color rendering (colorblind users, etc.).
paulerdos 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like how detailed AnandTech analysis are. Good to see that they persist.
Microsoft: Hey, Apple Maps haters, Use Bing for iPhone instead venturebeat.com
71 points by bmillipede  6 hours ago   30 comments top 15
kennywinker 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Strangely, Microsoft hasn't put the Bing app in the Canadian app store. The app's been out for ages now, and is still US only (as far as I know?). I can't for the life of me figure out a good reason for this. Bing.com has local search results for Canada, so it's not that.

Not that it's putting me out. I can search bing from Safari. Just a strange move on their part. It's like the intern who's job it was to ready the international version got fired and nobody checked his pending workload.

nivla 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The title of the article is just silly, sounds like a 13 year old came up with it. However, having used Bing maps, it seems like a great alternative to Google Maps. Both have Streetview, Transit maps and can also detect nearby businesses. The Bing map's layout and typography looks much cleaner and fresher than Google, but that's just my personal opinion.


ftwinnovations 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Like most others with iOS6 maps I've had my share of troubles and was excited to try this out when I saw the post. My wife gave birth a few days ago and so the first thing that came to my mind was the name of the hospital - a major hospital in LA. Unfortunately, bing failed utterly. "No results found. Pan to a different area and try again". At this point I'm zoomed to all of LA. I tried again, no dice. Apple maps not only found it without a problem, but I only needed to type the first word of hospital name and the rest was suggested as I typed.

Yeah, I only tested one search but it was hardly some tiny dive restaurant or other obscure landmark. App deleted.

sajidnizami 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Always find maps.nokia.com better on my iPhone. Best part is it works even in places others fail. e.g. UAE.
vaultboy21 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Bing Maps have been rapidly improving over the past year and no one seems to have picked-up on it. via their deal with Nokia, Microsoft is slowly updating the backend data, incorporating Navteq's over 20+ years of mapping tech. its not quite up to parity with Nokia Maps (or Google) internationally yet, but it's come a long way and (i'm guessing) easily beats-out Apple's quickly-built homegrown implementation.

for those who don't know, Nokia owns Navteq (purchased a few years ago) which powers over 85%+ of automotive navigation systems (as well as Garmin, Mapquest, and many other popular mapping services)..

jser 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Bing Maps was the one of the first alternative maps I downloaded after the install of iOS 6. Unfortunately, the application is not ready for prime time -- the tiles are not retina, the UI is a mashup of formerly-known-as-Metro elements, and swoosh/zoom animations are overused, like a bad PowerPoint deck.

If Bing released it with retina tiles and a native iOS UI, I think they could win significant market share. It could create a halo product that might make me more inclined to use and think positively of other Bing services.

eshvk 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
Has any one used Bing Maps in San Francisco? If so, can you comment on how good it is with public transport?
jobu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Maybe it depends on your area, but I really think the bad press on the new iOS Maps App is overblown. I took a 700 mile road trip last weekend and Maps worked flawlessly. The turn-by-turn directions were neat, and the ETA and remaining miles were useful.
truebecomefalse 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly the bing app won't when I click 'Directions' in the Yelp App. I wish apple were not such control freaks and we could have the intent system in iOS... even if it was an advanced feature hidden in some obscure menu.
joe_the_user 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm using Bing for the Palm Pre and it is garbage (can't figure out to search at my location at all). Maybe it's better for the iPhone.
stretchwithme 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Dunno, I installed it, popped in an address and it just sits and spins forever. iOS 5.1 maps comes back immediately.
songgao 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I really love the satellite view in Bing maps. Clearly shows details, and the color is just right. But it seems outside US it lacks road information. If you look at China, even for a provincial capital city with over 10 M population, there doesn't seem to be many roads on the map:


adib 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Bing app not available in Singapore store.
Raticide 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't find the app on the app store.
kevingibbon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would rather be lost via Apple Maps than have to use the Bing iPhone app. awful
Why I think Rust is the "language of the future" for systems programming winningraceconditions.blogspot.com
186 points by pcwalton  12 hours ago   119 comments top 3
haberman 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm a die-hard C guy. My motto for years has been "you can pry pointers and address spaces from my cold, dead hands."

Of the new languages I've seen lately, Rust is my favorite. I love how it gives me better ways to express things I actually want to say without imposing GC on me.

But even so, I can't see myself actually using it for much, because writing in a language other than C means buying in to that language's runtime. Buying into one language's runtime means that your code won't play nice with other languages' runtimes.

If I write a library in Rust, how can I expose my types and algorithms to Ruby, Python, Lua, etc? How will Rust Tasks play with Python threads? What if I use a Rust Pipe to send a Python value between tasks? How do I keep Rust from doing a GC pass while I'm holding the Python GIL? etc. etc.

Programming Languages by their nature want to be at the center of your world. If you buy into their abstractions, everything works nicely. But if you try to mash two of them together in a single process, you start to suffer from the fact that their abstractions overlap and don't interoperate at all.

If you're only writing an application (ie. not a library) and never want to embed other languages into your application, then this might be ok. But I'm more interested in writing shared functionality that is useful across languages. Why should the whole stack of parsers, crypto, compression, etc. have to be written separately in each language? Life is too short to do some great work that is only usable by one language community -- computing is so big and changes so much that one-language-only functionality is at best limiting your market and at worst dooming your code to obsolescence when the next big language comes around.

So as much as I instinctively like Rust, I think I'll be sticking with C.

kibwen 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Out of mild concern over the title (not that it ought to be changed, TFA doesn't really have a meaningful title), I'd like to preemptively defuse any potential flame war.

Go and Rust are not really competing. There may be some overlap in domain, but they occupy different niches and will likely appeal to different crowds. Go will appeal more to people who prefer its focus on conceptual simplicity and its "opinionated" nature (very much like Python). Rust will appeal more to people who prefer "functional" trimmings (algebraic datatypes, pattern matching, liberal use of higher-order functions, Scheme-style macros) as well as folks fed up with C++ who aren't willing to give up complete control over memory and performance characteristics. The fact that both languages are built around a similar concurrency model is just convergent evolution.

It's tempting to cast Go vs. Rust as Google vs. Mozilla and/or Chrome vs. Firefox, but there's no practical reason that both languages cannot peacefully coexist and thrive.

megaman821 11 hours ago  replies      
Rust is what I had hoped Go would be.

Google employs some of the brightest computer science minds in the world and turns out stuff like Go and Dart, which seem to be more aimed at enterprise Java programmers rather than computer scientists or programming enthusiasts.

Light Table - Embracing Abstraction chris-granger.com
131 points by bpierre  11 hours ago   62 comments top 8
agentultra 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I think Mr. Granger should refrain from using inaccurate remarks about the history of programming. Light Table is neat but it is not the first attempt at an interactive development environment. His ideas were quite common 30+ years ago (20 years ago would have been right about the time when this style of programming started falling out of vogue). Alan Kay does a far better job than I can in explaining some of this history:


Update I wasn't being terribly fair. Granger might simply not have been aware. In that case I hope he sees my comment and watches the above video. :)

veb 10 hours ago  replies      
I'd really really like to watch this video, and countless of other awesome tech videos -- but I can't, there's no captions. As someone who is hard of hearing, I have to wonder how many things I end up missing out on when I can't watch things like this.


makmanalp 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was skeptical of buying into the light table idea until now. Now I see it for what it is: A programmable debugger with a dashboard for your software, as well as an editor, the latter part being less important. It's like if gdb had a baby with some visualization app.

The debugger already is omniscient in terms of what is going on within the program, but it's inept at showing it to you. It's too low-level in that it doesn't know what specific entities are important in your program. It knows addresses, variables, maybe objects. But you have a mental model and instead of trying to get your mental model into low level terms you can program it to have some notion of what to display.

davidp 10 hours ago 3 replies      
> we are not the recipe writers we were 20 years ago - that instead we are "abstractioners"

> we have to know far more than just the basic consturcts [sic] of the language and things like IO

Did anyone else find these annoying? I recall building a great deal of abstraction into my systems 20 years ago, and we certainly used frameworks at various layers of the system. We had to know far more than basic language constructs and IO.

Today's systems and frameworks are more available (open-source) and differently targeted (e.g. cloud-scale problems), but they're still just building abstractions on what came before, just like us old fogies were doing 20 years ago. The problems and solutions are not qualitatively different -- they just have different scale and connectivity.

All that said, Light Table seems pretty cool. But it's not evidence of deeper insight than what came before.

sergiotapia 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Cool demo I guess, but I have no idea how this could fit into current workflows or even be applied to traditional applications or websites.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

mempko 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It is clear they have no idea what an abstraction is. Abstractions deliberately throw away information. He is instead making widgets which reveal more information.

What he calls abstractions are nothing of the sort.

tisme 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really neat. I see a lot of connections to Borlands visual C builder. Create a canvas, drag elements onto the resulting form and change their properties and code up actions. Of course this example here uses 'clojure' but there are a lot of similarities.

Something like that could make writing web applications much easier than it is right now. Interactive web application development could be a real game changer.

pnachbaur 11 hours ago  replies      
This is exceedingly cool. I'd love to see this in action for something that isn't a game (preferably my own project haha). Looking forward to the release!
Budget Cuts to Archives Put History Out of Reach nytimes.com
9 points by boundlessdreamz  1 hour ago   discuss
Deploy mobile apps from Dropbox harp.io
32 points by ujeezy  5 hours ago   12 comments top 9
D9u 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
A mobile accessible interface is a big deal for many.
A simple SSH / SFTP / etc connection for file management will suffice, rather than having some proprietary client model restricted to a couple of operating systems.

Just my $0.02

smarx 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This looks very similar to my startup's product, Site44: www.site44.com.

I'm not sure I follow the connection to "mobile," though. Some of the examples (like a static blog or landing page) don't sound at all specific to mobile. Can someone explain? Is this general-purpose static hosting, like Site44, or is it something different?

charliesome 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I was about to have a conniption, but then I saw this:

> Learn to Program

> We created the absolute best Platform for learning web development. Harp removes all the complexity, and gives you the environment you are already comfortable with.

This is a really awesome idea for getting beginners into mobile app development. PHP did a lot to reduce the barrier to entry for traditional web application development and I think this could have the potential to do the same for mobile.

Looking forward to seeing how this pans out.

mvanveen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've wanted to tackle this idea forever, it's always seemed like low-hanging fruit. I'm super excited to see someone take it on full-time. Best of luck!
D9u 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
The site crashes Dolphin on Android 2.2.x
sintaxi 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey everyone, I'm one of the creators of the Harp Platform. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to address them.
twog 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome. Any way I can get early access? Im working on a project I would love to try this on
j95tin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This looks like an interesting project ;) I'll definitely check it out.
bytefactory 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome, can't wait to try this out!
Survey: iOS 6 Leads To Decrease In Device Satisfaction Among iPhone Users techcrunch.com
33 points by mtgx  5 hours ago   21 comments top 8
jad 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The concluding paragraph:

"It's also worth noting that despite a slight decrease in satisfaction vs. iOS 5, generally, satisfaction is still very high overall, and Apple still seems to have a significant lead on Android devices, according to a recent study by J.D. Power. In other words, while iOS 6 may have some disappointing features, judging by these results it looks unlikely to have a material effect on iOS device sales going forward."

pooriaazimi 2 hours ago 1 reply      
77.5% satisfaction -> 76.5% satisfaction

It's easily within the error margin for a survey of 1600 customers... A better title would be: "Users are as happy with iOS 6 as they were with iOS 5, but not happier", which is surely a fail, as new iOSes ought to be better. But it's TechCrunch...

fpgeek 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the margin of error on this survey? My guess is the one tenth of a point drop in satisfaction is inside it.

A more accurate title (for the original article) would be something like: "iOS 6 Does Not Show the Same Increase in Customer Satisfaction as Previous Releases". And even there, there could be multiple causes which might not have anything to do with how users see iOS 6 (bias in the users sampled, compression of responses as users get closer to the maximum satisfaction, etc.).

oldstrangers 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how much of this has to do with the ever increasing appeal of Android, especially with Jelly Bean? I went from ICS to Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus and was really impressed by all the subtle and not so subtle improvements.

Jelly Bean was a huge step forward, iOS 6 looks like another placeholder.

kylec 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That graph is extremely misleading. If the range of responses is 1-10, those should be the bounds of the graph.
tedunangst 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the results of this experiment would be: wait a week, then downgrade those users back to iOS 5. Are they happier, or even more dissatisfied? (Are they taking little things for granted?)

Hell, just tell them you fixed their phone but don't do anything at all. People told the iPhone 4 was really the 5 thought it was better. Trick probably works in reverse now that everybody knows they're not supposed to like iOS 6.

Rickasaurus 3 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm holding out with iOS 5. Why would anyone want to update to something that's worse?
headShrinker 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"On a scale of 1 to 10"

This isn't very scientific approach to serveying.

As We May Think (1945) theatlantic.com
87 points by JumpCrisscross  10 hours ago   22 comments top 8
jgrahamc 9 hours ago 3 replies      
The most interesting thing about this article, to me, is that part 7 is often skimmed and not understood. Bush describes the user building his own 'trail' of linked item (books, articles, etc.) and being able to store that trail. He was not envisaging the web as we have it (consisting of links chosen by authors), but of the ability to form your own web of connections.

It's in section 8 that he describes the something similar to the web. I've always felt that better tools could be built for part 7.

How many times have I lost the thread of thought while surfing the web and been forced to re-search to find my way back?

caf 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The Office of Scientific Research and Development was essentially the civilian side of the Manhattan Project. Interestingly this article was published in the same month as Trinity, at which Vannevar Bush was present. The Manhattan Project itself was still a tightly held secret at this point.

A contemporary picture of Bush: http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=3dcd2f9a3fce36...

dm8 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It is the classic essay written about the future in 1945. We got fundamentals (of computing age) for topics like hyperlinks, information retrieval etc. in this article.

I guess I've read somewhere that people like Doug Englebart (father of computer mouse) were inspired by this essay and made that vision into reality.

Evbn 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Vennaver Bush invented the blogosphere :-)

> The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.

jrkelly 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Vannevar Bush is an absolutely incredible guy. If you want to understand the origins of the modern academic research complex and Bush's role in building it definitely check out 'The Making of the Atomic Bomb' by Richard Rhodes.
patfla 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Vannevar Bush's idea for the PC (and web) as an aid to memory is coming true big time. For better or worse, it's often those who already well educated who benefit the most.
jasongullickson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This pops up in front of me every couple years and I always get something new out of it each time.
mceoin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Old School! Nice to see Bush sprouting up on Hacker News!

@Turing_Machine - stay tuned. 2-way public hyperlinks might just be on their way : )

MMO in loving tribute to xkcd-1110 n01se.net
179 points by wooby  15 hours ago   55 comments top 23
manuscreationis 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I found a bug

In the Chasm of Fate, after you defeat B'Joril the TimeMaster, you're supposed to get 1 piece of Titan class armor, and a random roll for 1-3 Peacock Plumes, but every time my group only gets the armor, and never any Peacock Plumes.

The devs really rushed this one out. I can't believe they expect people to pay 12 dollars a month for this.

tibbon 13 hours ago 1 reply      
So serious question- right now its not accepting connections to the (websocket? haven't looked at the code) server as its out of connections.

Any theory as to what the most likely bottleneck for something like this is? I've been tempted a few times to put something like this together, and never been sure where its most likely to fall apart.

Timothee 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Note: it's xkcd, not xckd. (in the page title)
thechut 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great. I much prefer this experience for viewing than the zooming ones that people posted right after it came out. This seems much more immersive. Great work!!
user24 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The server's overloaded. I'm refreshing the page madly but it's only getting worse!


caycep 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think its a beautiful cartoon - I'm just worried that it sounds so wistful, did something happen in the author's personal life to make it so contemplative?
forthewyn 12 hours ago 0 replies      
FWIW I set my own instance of this up for anyone who's getting locked out of the main server.


jrockway 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I got tangled in the radio tower.
ned_batchelder 15 hours ago 1 reply      
To label your guy, type "I am Joe", and it will have Joe underneath instead of a number.
re_todd 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Holy crap this is cool! Thanks for ruining my productivity for the rest of the day.
pacomerh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me so much of pitfall II http://youtu.be/TSUk_bmJQRQ?t=23s
president 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't call this "massively" multiplayer. More like a MUD (multi-user dungeon).
chrishouser 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If the server hits its user limit, you can console yourself with a demo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvLxOVYeo5w
jwpeddle 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Probably the 1000th person to name themselves "import antigravity", but I'm still giggling about it.
Avitas 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Goll-lee! That's an awfully large antenna tower in North Dakota.
brodney 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Some issues with bounding boxes and collisions it would seem. http://imgur.com/MMM3o
mcu 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very beautiful.
dtjohnnymonkey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for making this. This is exactly what I imagined when I first saw that XKCD.
wreckimnaked 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I'd be happier moving around using WASD keys.
jonaldomo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is neat. To delete all text, hit enter and type something else.
xsaero00 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like world to be darker.
blue_spice 14 hours ago 5 replies      
Server issues. Let me guess: node.js?
emeraldd 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Subtle Patterns subtlepatterns.com
375 points by benologist  1 day ago   48 comments top 31
krogsgard 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Subtle Patterns has been around for a pretty long while now. It's a great site. My designer colleagues use it quite a bit.

The only thing I wish it did was show the pattern size by default in the description. Some of them show it, but not all. And in my experience they vary a good bit.

Also, on the Github page, there is a .pat zip of all the patterns which makes it even better https://github.com/subtlepatterns/SubtlePatterns

aw3c2 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What license are the images? There is a license mention on the bottom of the website but to me that seems to cover the website only, not the downloaded images. It would be great if each zip would include a proper license.
JonnieCache 22 hours ago 1 reply      
For something less subtle see http://www.patterncooler.com/

Don't miss their ultraswanky svg editor thingy! http://www.patterncooler.com/editor/

mrchess 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice to see they got their domain back.
ipince 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow... they're so subtle I completely missed them.

I thought the page was broken for mobile. And then it took me a second pass to realize it was in fact not broken on desktop too!

yenoham 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I had thought he'd given up on the site the other day, and just started using the git repo instead. Glad it was just a blip instead.

Hopefully he'll blog about what happened.

lurker14 2 hours ago 0 replies      
These all make me think my monitor is dirty. Why is this a feature?

Also, why are they called "patterns" and not "textures"?

mcormier 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of website that makes me want to go redesign a website for no reason than to fiddle with these patterns.
madrona 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I need a monitor with better color fidelity. Half of these look like whiteness.
bobbles 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this your site?

The first texture looks like it's broken because there is no border. I thought it wasn't loading at all, but it was just the exact same as the background on the site.

Edit: nevermind.. I must have clicked directly on the preview button when i changed focus or something.

olalonde 23 hours ago 0 replies      
vindicated 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a real gem, especially for someone who isn't as aesthetically astute, like me. I used it on a couple of websites I've been working on recently. [1][2]

[1] http://tweetfad.com/

[2] http://db.uwaterloo.ca/dmc2013/

barrkel 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm strongly reminded of the old Windows 3.1 tiled patterns.
Gravityloss 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of these are quite strong and contrasty and very repetitive in a small scale and thus slightly migraine inducing.

With the horizontal repetition they also mess with the angle of your eyes / distance perception (as there are multiple transpositions where they correlate perfectly).

I like subtle, very random and smooth patterns a lot.

zem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
i don't know if it's my monitor or colour settings or what, but some of them don't seem to do anything when i click the preview button (e.g. "straws" and "swirl" from the current front page)
ojilles 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Related, if you wanted to make your own patterns (and then perhaps upload to subtlepatterns.com :-)) check out this iphone app: http://patternshooter.com/
wingerlang 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I found a chrome plugin that tries the patterns on any website quickly. Pretty handy while choosing something I guess.


gere 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry to go a little off topic, but I'm wondering if someone remember a background pattern/texture generator posted here on HN a few months a go. I lost the bookmark. I only remember it has a dark background. Thanks.
debacle 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like all of these. They just feel good.
nachteilig 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's really awesome that they thought to include retina versions. I really hope this becomes the norm, esp. with bootstrap etc.
Lerc 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Great, now I have to clean my monitor.
salimmadjd 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using a it for a while. Downloading their PSD patterns make your design life a lot easier.
srik 22 hours ago 0 replies      
They also include a "@2x" version for retina displays. Pretty nifty.
jpadilla_ 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be cool to read about what did they have to do after it was hijacked.
jmharvey 23 hours ago 0 replies      
"Back Pattern" flickers horribly when I scroll. Which makes me wonder whether the other patterns will have a similar flicker on other displays.
dutchbrit 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome to see it back again!
thejosh 23 hours ago 0 replies      
dot_clean would come in handy before uploading files from a mac.
abrichr 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Beautiful, thanks.
mylittlepony 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic, thanks!
iamjason89 15 hours ago 0 replies      
these are a great set. thanks
iamjason89 15 hours ago 0 replies      
these are great. thanks
Google Docs Ditching Old Microsoft Export Formats(.doc, .xls, .ppt) on October 1 thenextweb.com
66 points by cooldeal  10 hours ago   35 comments top 11
EvanAnderson 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Given that there's no further development happening at Microsoft on the DOC, XLS, and PPT formats it's unclear to me why there's any advantage to Google, from a code maintenance standpoint, to removing these formats. If Google was having to invest labor in maintaining the export functionality I suppose I could understand, but I would think the export code is long-since debugged and working. What makes the cost of maintaining this old feature so high as to warrant its removal?
azim 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Before we get out the pitchforks, Google is still supporting the current Microsoft formats (.docx, .xlxs, .pptx). If you're still running Office 2003 or older, you can install a compatibility pack from Microsoft to support the current file formats. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924074)
recoiledsnake 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Did they announce this previously or are they giving just a 5 day notice(only 3 working days given the weekend)?

A lot of users are going to get irritated at having to change their workflow to have a copy of Office to re-save documents before uploading them. If you need to have a copy of Office around to save them in the new format, then some of the savings by using Google Apps is diminished.

niggler 9 hours ago 3 replies      
We need a real competitor to google docs, especially the spreadsheets.
fluxon 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a wrong move. Recentism trashes bidirectional accessibility. Stable standards are not de facto useless.
n-gauge 8 hours ago 2 replies      
nooooo..... I still use word 97 on my windows 7 laptop as it does everything I need (even in 2012!). Office is just to fancy nowadays and takes up to much space - I got my word 97 install to 10 megs.

Oh well - rtf it is then.

guilloche 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, It is time to retire these outdated formats that bothered the world for so many years. Horay for google.
sowhata 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Life would be soooooo much easier without Microsoft's closed formats. As nice as they are, they are a royal PITA when you are not using Windows. Sometimes you just need the text and images/other embedded media, not the fonts and other window dressing. Those can be added at view time if they are truly needed.
duncans 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Odd, I thought one of the main reasons they bought Quickoffice was the deep knowlege these guys must've had of .DOC, .XLS etc
sowhata 9 hours ago 0 replies      
.csv can be imported into Excel to make .xls.

.txt can be imported into Word to make .doc.

.html can be imported into either Excel or Word.

.ppt? No comment.

.csv, .txt and .html are much easier to work with across different operating systems.

hackerchic 8 hours ago 0 replies      
That makes sense. Not a lot of people still use the older microsoft office formats 97-2003. Do current Mac's and PC's still support those older formats?
Coinbase (YC S12), First Crowd Funded Bitcoin Company, Raises Over $600K privateinternetaccess.com
59 points by rasengan  9 hours ago   24 comments top 4
jboggan 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I think the first and most expensive hire should be a top-notch security expert. There have been too many screw-ups in the Bitcoin space and a hack at this level of prominence would be disastrous for the community.
andrewljohnson 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I just bought 20 bit coins yesterday, in a wallet at CoinBase.

I saw YC funding for CoinBase as a fairly strong signal, and I feel buy and hold might be a good investment. The more liquid bitcoins become, the more they will be worth, and they aren't even remotely liquid yet.

alexbosworth 4 hours ago 0 replies      
They should use that money to buy blockchain.info - i've used both and blockchain.info really knows their stuff
dreamdu5t 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem to solve isn't a nice UI for managing bitcoins... it's how to buy bitcoin with my VISA without it being treated as a trade on an exchange.
Airbnb Is Raising A Big Third Round, Aiming For A Valuation North Of $2B techcrunch.com
26 points by ssclafani  6 hours ago   39 comments top 7
pault 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought Airbnb sounded silly when I first heard about it, but I've spent the last month in the caribbean staying exclusively at apartments booked there. The UX is awesome, there's a huge discovery value to people with vacation rentals, and it's way cheaper than staying at hotels. Not to mention the money that I save because I have a kitchen to cook in. You can usually find a monthly price only a few hundred dollars more than what you would pay for an unfurnished rental with a lease. I've also been shocked at the explosive growth outside the US. When I checked the listings about six months ago I didn't see much in southern Brazil, but now there are ~500 listings. I don't know about $2B, but I've been very impressed with everything they've done so far.
confluence 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Airbnb is the ebay of housing, creating liquid markets for unused or unwanted goods without taking on any inventory, risk or capital. This is a service that literally prints money - and so long as they don't get Meg Whitman as their CEO - they won't fuck up.

I wouldn't be surprised if they surpassed eBay within the decade in terms of net profit. Next up on the liquid market list should be cars.

Any other markets out there that need liquidity? Goods that aren't used or assets that lay dormant? I'm all ears.

sfard 5 hours ago 5 replies      
Just to put this in perspect. Starwood has a valuation of about $10 billion.

Starwood employs 150,000 people, has 1000 hotels worldwide, and has revenues of ~$6 billion

I'm not saying AirBNB can't be huge one day, but a $2B valuation... wow.

asithinketh 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
One way to look at AirBnB is as a craiglist plus escrow service. The idea is they spammed people advertising rental properties on craiglist to get them to visit the AirBnB site and it has worked so far. Eventually, though, all the people advertising on sites like craigslist will have migrated over to AirBnB and then the growth ends.

The escrow service seems a little dodgey since they are not licensed (see Greenspan's critique - he was roommates with one of the founders of AirBnB). Few major incidents so far, but how long will that last as they scale? The attraction of AirBnB over craiglist may be that the hosts perceive some added degree of safety by using AirBnB. But really, how much liability is AirBnB taking on? Can you sue AirBnB if your property is destroyed? Good luck with that.

What if another site that has an even faster interface pops up and uses a growth hacker to lure away hosts listing their properties on AirBnB? Then what? Acquire them out of fear!

The web is a medium. People use it to advertise things. It's hard to believe that any one company can monopolize a medium like the web for some class(es) of goods or services. But it sure looks like they can, doesn't it?

From For Sale ads in Usenet groups to a mailing list that grows to a website (craigslist) to AirBnB acting as an informal escrow agent to _______?

The interesting thing is that Usenet was originally free. As long as you had an internet connection, you could advertise for free. I'm not sure I understand why advertising still shouldn't be free. And we should be able to reduce the signal to noise ratio, and make doing business via internet more personable and trustworthy, without having to pay a spammer who acts as a dubious escrow agent and takes a percentage.

Evbn 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it normal to have 10% of a company's valuation be invested/debt cash?
paulhauggis 4 hours ago 0 replies      
But what is their actual profit?
joering2 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Congratulation to PG! Seems like working with top scammer from the FBI list that you and I had to pay in our taxes for their damages, is finally paying off!

Pop, there goes a bottle of Dom Pérignon!

Twilio's Biggest Partnership: AT&T Will Resell Its Cloud Telecom Apps And API techcrunch.com
113 points by playhard  14 hours ago   27 comments top 9
dangrossman 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Twilio's got to be one of my favorite companies in the world.

Their product was truly awe-some in the original sense when I first found it -- making real phone calls from code without a modem! For pennies! Their API was one of the best documented and versioned, with almost no learning curveand great code samples. They showed up everywhere my favorite companies showed up, from AppSumo startup bundles a few years ago, to StartupSchwag t-shirts and stickers, to the developer contests I entered where they gave away awesome prizes.

And they grew up, added features at a blistering pace for a company at the intersection of old industry and new, without (as far as I can tell) ever forgetting about the little developer. Their outreach and support is still excellent.

So, congratulations on the partnership, I don't know anyone at the company personally yet I'm personally happy for you all, because I know you deserve the success.

chrisacky 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Good partnership for Twilio, but don't forget that most developers are passionate about Twilio because of the perceived distance that it had from AT&T and other carriers.

If you jump into bed with AT&T eventually some of their stink will rub off. But, you have to hope that this works in the flip side too, and Twilio has a positive impact on how AT&T operates.

This is only a reseller partnership anyway, so you have to imagine that the partnership is going to be beneficial for both entities... On the one side Twilio opens up it's services to thousands++ of AT&T businesses and developers, and AT&T have the hopes of getting a piece of the "cloud", which they clearly have lost touch with by charging 10 cent transactions on SMS..

pasbesoin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Just don't let AT&T support and/or reputation ruin you.

There are few companies I hate to the degree I hate AT&T. This is based upon repeated, personal experience as well as the way they have ripped off the citizens of my state, amongst others, and fought by hook and by crook to stifle broadband Internet competition and thereby adequate and improving Internet availability and performance.

I'll add that if you are acquired by them, you will want to plan your exits, as remaining under AT&T senior management will, in my estimation, lead to thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

Yes, strong words. Did I mention that I hate them, and that in my opinion they have given very good cause for this?

P.S. I should mention that this is the AT&T of today, which is essentially the rebranded SBC. To distinguish it from the AT&T of yore.

P.P.S. I'm just one "schmuck" out here relating my own sentiment, I realize. And I don't want to rain on your parade. But I guess I won't delete my comment; I have some serious concern about the influence a close association with AT&T may end up having on Twilio. (As well, I guess, I don't think AT&T really deserves you -- not that that's a very practical business position.)

blrgeek 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Excellent news - congrats to the Twilio team!

New Telecom meet Oldest Telecom. Only one can survive :)

Twilio is in a space where few HN engineers dare to tread. More such companies will show why 'Software is eating the world'

latortuga 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Maybe I'm overreacting to this but this seems like a real disappointment for Twilio customers. We, the developers that use Twilio, are the people who have made Twilio a success, by building businesses that do things like "...survey tools, ad-hoc workgroup messaging and calling, appointment reminder services..."

How is this good for me as a customer of Twilio if they've decided to now compete with me? Why should I scale up my business with Twilio if they're just going to partner with a huge company to offer their own version?

I have loved you for a long time, Twilio, and this really sours me.

sachingulaya 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations. It's been a pleasure developing on top of twilio.
sunsu 12 hours ago 2 replies      
What do they mean by "resell its cloud telecom apps"? I run a Twilio driven product (BetterVoicemail.com) that we've been selling to enterprise customers. Is my product an example of one of these "apps" that AT&T will resell?
Josh2600hz 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Congrats to Twilio. Seems like VoiceAPIs are heating up and quick.
telecuda 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hopefully a side-effect of this is speeding up the release of an MMS API, which will unleash a whole new flurry of photo-sharing startups that we appear to love so much.
Appeals Court Caves to TSA Over Nude Body Scanners wired.com
80 points by vectorbunny  12 hours ago   39 comments top 5
scythe 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the TSA's argument as described at the end of the article was patently absurd ("ever-evolving threats"). Did they actually get away with saying that? If there is any decency in the world, that wouldn't stand with SCOTUS.
gsibble 11 hours ago 3 replies      
It's sad to see the executive branch forcing the judiciary into an awkward position.

What exactly is the judge going to do? Fine DHS/TSA? Where will that money go? Right back into the treasury where it came from.

Ugh. TSA makes me sick.

alttag 9 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the interesting (to me) items in the article is that it framed the use of body scanners as clearly an agency (administrative) decision, rather than a legal (that is, codified) one.

For rule-making authority to have the force of law, the 90-day comment period is mandated ... does that mean the decision to apply these scanners isn't enforceable (and thus, litigable)? TSA has seemingly worked around this, as there is no aggrieved party (and thus, no standing), due to their opt-out provisions. That seems doubly wrong, and disrespectful of the legal process.

cpeterso 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I always opt-out of the scanners when I fly, but my estimate is that less than 0.5% of other people opt-out. 1 in 200! Most people are too impatient or uninformed to care about privacy or potential health risks.
mtgx 11 hours ago 3 replies      
US should have a different agency that takes comments and complaints about the TSA and then sends a periodical report to Congress about it. From my understanding, right now the complaints are sent to TSA themselves? That's pretty much pointless then.
Formlabs: High Resolution 3D Printer formlabs.com
175 points by samwillis  18 hours ago   104 comments top 11
jws 17 hours ago 7 replies      
The call to action link says: "Pre-Order on Kickstarter"

They must have not gotten the "Kickstarter is not a store" memo. They appear to be ready to pull the trigger on their manufacturing partners, so this is sort of a "how big should we make the first run?" type of kickstarter rather than a "let's create something awesome".


• Stereolithography printer (laser, not extruder)

• Much nicer than extruder style printers

• $2300-2700 for the machine depending on your precedence

• $140/liter for liquid resin

samwillis 17 hours ago 4 replies      
It will be interesting to watch 3D Systems share price today. JP Morgan issued a statement yesterday that they thought Formlabs might pose a significant risk to them.


Down 2% already in just 5 min!

mcantelon 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Sad prediction: the future of 3D printing will be cheap printers [that require/are subsidized by] proprietary resins.
mcantelon 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Inspiration? http://3dhomemade.blogspot.ca/

Open hardware kit for similar:


tisme 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be really nice if they laid out how far they are on the road to making this 3D printer into an actual product.

When you pre-order something the money that you spend should go to manufacturing, the bill of materials, shipping, handling, warranty and so on. It should definitely not go into product development and process development. The reason for that is that those are very long phases with plenty of opportunity for trouble which may cause delays, price increases, large changes to the product and even aborted runs.

Pre-ordering a device from a company without a history of shipping product is a risky business.

zafka 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I found this about 2 months ago: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Laser-3D-Printer-Ste...

It looks to be the same technology without the refinements.

I got pretty excited and bought several of the components, but have yet to assemble them.

podperson 16 hours ago 1 reply      
About what I paid for my first inkjet printer (because I couldn't afford a LaserWriter). Or another way of thinking about it -- rather than upgrading to an FX digital camera this generation, I can skip a generation, live with my insanely-good-but-not-that-insanely-good DX camera and get one of these.

Obviously, the whole "giving $3000 to someone and trusting them to deliver" thing is a bit of an issue, but presumably this means something like this is viable at something like the price of a good printer in 1992.


chromejs10 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know about you but I'm extremely excited about this printer. I currently have a RepRap Prusa but it really is hard to match the quality of these kinds of printers. The only problem I see is that it sounds like they are also selling the resin for it and somehow figured out a way to make it cheaper than most. I'd worry about how long they'd be able to keep up with selling enough resin for everyone.
tocomment 16 hours ago 2 replies      
It looks like it fills up a tray to do the print. Does it reuse what it doesn't solidify for future prints? (It would seem like a waste otherwise)
tocomment 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how a photopolymer works chemically/molecularly? What is it about the UV light that makes it solidify?
tocomment 16 hours ago  replies      
Any chance the resin/polymer will come down in price if this catches on?
Mathematics at Google research.google.com
172 points by PierreMage  18 hours ago   47 comments top 7
btilly 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Seeing PageRank discussed reminds me of a piece of fun trivia. The idea for PageRank came out of the success of the Science Citation Index, which ranks papers according to how often they have been cited. The idea of trying to study the structure of citations in academia came out of people who were inspired by a 1948 essay, As We May Think.

But that essay's main topic was an imagined technology called memex, to be implemented with an automated indexing system and microfilm. This technology is the first description of hypertext, which inspired multiple technologies. The second successful consumer application that I'm aware of that used hypertext was the web. (The first was HyperCard from Apple.)

Thus Google started as the application of one set of techniques inspired by As We May Think to a technology that was also inspired by As We May Think.

See http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-ma... for the essay itself. Do keep in mind that it was written one year after the transistor was invented, but the author already had 2 decades of experience with computing.

dxbydt 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The article has a section on the math used in Google Maps, which points to


which says - there are 24 million places in the USA, connected by 29 million roads. You need 4 hours 15 minutes to pre-process this information. From then on, it only takes 7 milliseconds to find the shortest path from one place to another by running the Multilevel Query Algorithm, which is a souped up version of Dijkstra and runs 2000 times faster than Dijkstra's Shortest Path algorithm.

Is that right ? 24 million choose 2 is 288 trillion, so do an all paths search, then have a lookup table with 288 trillion entries, store that in HDFS, slap an LRU caching layer atop that, and you wouldn't have to run any graph query algorithm at all, so should be able to do much better than 7 ms ... just thinking out loud.

j2kun 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Look at the slide entitled Gmail (5), and compare the picture with the first graph on my blog post http://jeremykun.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/the-perceptron-and...

It just goes to show, Google steals content without attribution just like everyone else.

danso 15 hours ago 2 replies      
My day-to-day programming consists so much of process and simple boolean logic that I hardly ever use math more challenging than 1 + 1 and 1 != 0. It's great to review how math can greatly influence the potential of your code.
tantalor 13 hours ago 1 reply      
My mathematician friend pointed out that all that "research at google" requires "experience with large data sets and quantitative analysis". They want statisticians, not mathematicians.
cjdrake 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a fantastic publication! I do some part-time mathematics tutoring, and kids are always wondering where math is used in "real life". Since kids are all familiar with Google, this should resonate with them.
pav3l 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Do they still heavily rely on PageRank? With the amount of traffic data Google has, I would expect more statistical approaches based on what users click (rather than graph algorithms based on how the web is linked) to be the backbone for ranking their results.
Why Bloom filters work the way they do michaelnielsen.org
42 points by michael_nielsen  8 hours ago   4 comments top 3
Rickasaurus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A great post. I wish we saw more like it on Hacker News.
alecdibble 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks! I enjoyed the way you approached the explanation by exploring the problem instead of the solution.
Dylan16807 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, I read the introduction and could only think of three steps myself. Apparently you and I think of hashes in a different way. I went directly from 'list of urls' to 'hash table of urls' (with a very minor note of 'we only need to store yes/no so make the bucket size one bit'). This skips a large part of your train of logic entirely. From there it's the same 'use a couple hashes to avoid collisions', 'use overlapping storage because it's more efficient'.
Myspace's iLike Rises From The Dead To Block An Apple Trademark Request techcrunch.com
29 points by answerly  7 hours ago   9 comments top 3
csmeder 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Cases like this set a bad precedent. This means Apple needs to be even more on the offensive than it has been: to not let this issue arise in the future.

This encourages companies to register every single trademark they might ever need - right now. This is sad news. It means they will register tons of trademarks they may never use. And this will stop you and I from being able to use these unused trademarks.

Strict trademark rulings hurt everyone in our community...

chrischen 4 hours ago 0 replies      
How are these services too similar? One gives me my music, the other is an "Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to ilike.com."
fourstar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Even though I didn't read the article (I rarely read TC articles), I will have to say I think this is more of a publicity stunt than anything to prep for their "reboot".
       cached 27 September 2012 07:02:01 GMT