hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    10 Dec 2012 News
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2
Google's App Verification Service Allows 85% of Malware Through ncsu.edu
51 points by natefriedman  1 hour ago   9 comments top 3
1
capo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
OP ought to restore the original title because it better represents the content of that study seeing as it's clearly about the mechanism for verifying side-loaded apps (introduced in 4.2) and not the Play store bouncer.
2
daeken 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Quite interesting and using hashes to identify malware is just not effective in the least. However...

> Last but not least, we notice that VirusTotal (owned by Google) has not been integrated yet into this app verification service.

This strikes me as a bit odd. While I do think Google is likely to use VirusTotal for this sort of thing in the future: 1) They just bought VirusTotal 2 months before 4.2 was released, so them not having integrated it yet is not at all surprising, and 2) The binary itself isn't uploaded to the app verification server, just some info about it, so running VirusTotal against the binary isn't viable, severely limiting the integration possibilities.

3
polshaw 18 minutes ago 1 reply      
Interesting the post about google's tax avoidance[0] is the same age, with twice as many points. [88/44 at time of posting]

Yet that has now slipped off the front page, and this is at the top of it!

0: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4899236

3
Haskell Snap Framework templating 3000x faster with new release snapframework.com
16 points by LukeHoersten  21 minutes ago   1 comment top
1
LukeHoersten 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Independent of Haskell, Heist is one of my favorite HTML/XML template engines so it's great to see such huge advancements.
5
Local police post mugshots on Pinterest, leading to a 57% boost in arrests thenextweb.com
54 points by 1337biz  3 hours ago   31 comments top 6
1
crikli 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Blog spam, inaccurate headline.

Original article on npr: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/12/07/166678...

The boost was in 57% of "warrant services" whatever that means, not arrests. No numbers given for the increase in arrests, just that they "actually got more people."

2
downandout 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Something tells me that this will not be accompanied by a 57% decrease in crime rates, but will absolutely be accompanied by a 57% increase in imprisonment and legal expenditures to detain and prosecute these people. An argument can be made that, except in the case of dangerous fugitives, using a more efficient means of finding wanted people may cause more harm than good.
3
manaskarekar 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"The tip line has been ringing off the hook. In fact, Drumheller says some people even called in to say they had seen their own mugshot online and have asked to turn themselves in to authorities."

What the fuck?

4
wazari972 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to upvote this post, if I do, does it mean I support the idea behind ? because I don't, I don't think that denunciation is right way to support justice ... but I'd like the post to go to the front page, the see HN comments about it!
5
engtech 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The craziest thing about looking through the warrants is the amount of charges that are either about property or drugs.

The media focuses so much on violence and sexual assault that I thought there would be more violent offenders in the mugshots.

6
benjamincburns 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The police department in my home town (Utica, NY) has been posting arrest photos on Facebook for a couple of years now. I wish there were data to determine whether or not it was having an impact, and what kinds of impacts it's having.

Most people I know are pretty disgusted by it. They feel that publicizing arrests is fueling an already ripe negative PR image against the city and that posting arrest photos in a very public place leads people to assume that the arrested are guilty before they are convicted.

At the same time however, think of the deterrent it is to "young punk" type criminals to have their mugshot posted in a public forum for all of their friends/family to see and for their neighbor's comments.

I wonder if those who made arrest records (not conviction) public record would have done so in light of these kinds of developments.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/City-of-Utica-NY-Police-Depar...

6
Presentation on using core.logic skillsmatter.com
20 points by conorwade  1 hour ago   discuss
8
2030: 3-D Printed Organs, Megacities and Brain Chips for Superhuman Abilities wired.com
34 points by cyphersanctus  3 hours ago   21 comments top 7
1
hcarvalhoalves 12 minutes ago 1 reply      
Everytime these predictions are made, the outcome seems to be the exact opposite. That said, in 2030 I predict:

- After toying with 3D printers for a while, they will go back to vat-grown organs

- With widespread Internet access, remote work being a reality and local energy generation, people will leave the big cities seeking better life quality in smaller, country-side cities

- There won't be brain chips

2
Petrushka 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I have the Washington Post from Jan 1, 2000. Below the fold is an article on what the future would hold tech-wise for a child born that day. By 2010, we were all supposed to be wearing wristbands with all of our medical information on it, so doctors would simply have to scan them to gain our history. We also wouldn't have cheap (meaning not thousands upon thousands of dollars) mobile computers with the ability to access the internet from anywhere until 2020.

I can't remember any of the others, but all of the predictions for around now (other then the smartphone one) are completely and totally off. All of these prediction things are bullshit, as most futurist ideas generally are. There's no accountability, because no one will remember the reports. It's ridiculous that the government pays people to write these things, and just as ridiculous that Wired publishes them.

I think SMBC put it best:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?db=comics&id=1968#comic

3
cbennett 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here is the actual report instead of just a summary, in case any one else was looking for it. To be honest i found the technical projections/forecasts to be quite spare on details (at least compared to the geopolitical ones; but I suppose that is to be expected)

http://www.acus.org/files/global-trends-2030-nic-lo.pdf

4
indiecore 2 hours ago 4 replies      
What did forecast 2010 look like from 1990?
5
samstave 1 hour ago 1 reply      
If you think project managers are useless then I'd never want to work on a project with you.

Poor project managers are useless, but so is a poor developer, technician or any other specialty.

Great project managers are gold. Just as is a great dev.

Don't be so myopic.

6
sdafdasdfasdf 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Every futurist claim I've ever heard has overestimated human capability and underestimated the impact of other things they possibly should have seen coming.
7
hwallace 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who is pessimistic about a superhuman-capability future?

Regardless of the accuracy of the predictions.

9
Codemirror v3 released codemirror.net
32 points by bilalhusain  3 hours ago   3 comments top 2
1
marijn 2 hours ago 1 reply      
2
daGrevis 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
How can I don't know about such great tools?!
10
The Pirate Bay Is The World's Most Efficient Public Library falkvinge.net
151 points by mtgx  8 hours ago   116 comments top 11
1
adrianonantua 4 hours ago 7 replies      
"If free and open access to all of human knowledge at the push of a button truly prevents our society's beloved artists, authors, thinkers, and other creative people from putting food on their tables, then maybe it's time to rethink how to put food on their tables."

This itself nails half of the core of the issue. The other half is getting rid of the middle men, who are now just struggling to justify their existence. Their time will come.

2
roryokane 6 hours ago 4 replies      
This article has a similar argument to “The Teleporter Library: A Copyright Thought Experiment”: http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/07/11/the-teleporter-libra.... The comments on that blog post contain useful discussion of the argument.

I especially agree with comment 18 on that blog post, http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/07/11/the-teleporter-libra.... It argues that the only reason we find public libraries morally okay in the first place was because we couldn't copy their work. So perhaps if hard drives were invented before physical books, public libraries would have radically different restrictions, or not exist at all.

3
Surio 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Since game of thrones got mentioned a couple of times, and quick and easy download/wait times and SD files with 720p resolution, etc...etc... in some of the comments

obligatory comic: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

4
shurane 7 hours ago 5 replies      
That's a fun comparison. That's discrimination right there, innit? Artists and authors aren't going after the library for copyright concerns the same way they go after torrent sites.

Does the library have some type of licensing agreement with the media it purchases? The article indicates that it isn't the case, but if there was, could that be the reason why libraries aren't attacked but torrent sites are? Though libraries have a lot less traffic and loss in potential sales compared to a torrent tracker.

This type of discrimination happens with website scraping too. Websites don't go after big search indexers like Google and Bing but will and can sue local scrapers who never entered some type of agreement with the website.

5
INTPenis 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Extreme hyperbole. The local library here in Malmö have a much better IT-infrastructure than TPB.

The TPB website is built like something I made at 15 years old in PHP. It's in fact a terrible product by todays standards. And that's with noscript+adblock. I wouldn't want to see it without.

6
georgeorwell 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you think TPB is good, you should see what private trackers have to offer.
7
alan_cx 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The comparison is bogus because a specific copy is passed around. With file sharing a new copy is made each time. What this means is that with a library only one person can use the media at one time. That person gives the copy back, no so in file sharing.

Shame 'cos it was a nice point for a while!!! Thing is, file sharing isnt sharing. If I "file share" I still have my copy to use. A second person wanting to borrow doesn't have to wait for my copy to be returned to me. They can make a new copy.

So.... can such an arrangement work in place of current "file sharing"? Can a file be borrowed and sent beck for re-borrowing after use? Since my local library in the UK does films and box-sets, can government or local government implement such a system?

8
b3tta 6 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't understand why everyone feels the need to portrait piracy as something good.

I do it because I can.

9
sgdesign 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe one difference is that libraries don't operate for profit, while pirate sites display ads and (as far as I know) don't redistribute any profits to the content creators?

Although I would gladly pay $X/month to TPB if it did give some of it back to the artists.

10
paul_f 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If libraries did not exist, and I created one, I'd be sued out of existence.
11
benologist 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Why stop the hyperbole at public libraries? TPB is the world's most efficient Walmart too because Walmart has per-item and per-person overhead that will never compete with "click this link".

It's the most efficient two way mission to Mars as well when you really think about it: no rockets, no loss of life, and all the latest movies!

11
Javascript Alternatives jster.net
15 points by davert  1 hour ago   16 comments top 6
1
jashkenas 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
For the big list of Compile-to-JS langs, folks keep a pretty good wiki page here: https://github.com/jashkenas/coffee-script/wiki/List-of-lang...
2
olavk 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
The list forgot Mascara (http://www.mascaraengine.com/) which adds features like classes, type inference, array comprehensions and so on, but is backwards compatible with JavaScript. (Disclosure: I made it. Hope it's OK to post here anyway?)

It is probably closest to TypeScript on the list, but is IMHO more mature and have more features (like generics).

3
bazzargh 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Would be as well pointing to http://altjs.org/ - the linked article is a much shorter list, and doesn't really offer much insight; the content for each language is a copy-and-paste of the opening paragraph from each of the 9 language's websites. e.g. if you're going to mention Roy, then why not compare and contrast it with http://fay-lang.org/?

altjs isn't much better on the content front, but lists dozens more of these languages, and points you to an irc channel where you can talk about them.

4
CJefferson 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Rather than a Javascript 'Alternative', out of interest what is the best way of using Current / Future Javascript?

Looking at wikipedia (and I may be getting misinformed here) the most recent version of 'Javascript Extensions' is 1.8.1, and EMCA is on edition 5. However support for both of these seems patchy.

I often see mentions of all kinds of polyfills, but is there a nice library and/or compiler, which gives me access to the "Javascript of the future", on browsers which do not yet support it? Is this even a sensible thing to ask for?

5
daigoba66 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't a JavaScript "alternative" not involve JavaScript? These are all just JavaScript abstractions (which in my personal opinion is just weird and probably unnecessary most of the time).
6
flyinRyan 32 minutes ago 3 replies      
But all of these just compile to Javascript in the end, right? I long for the day where we just have a "Browser VM" that we can all compile to instead of compiling to a high level language.
12
Music Industry Threatens to Sue UK Pirate Party over Pirate Bay Proxy torrentfreak.com
17 points by anons2011  2 hours ago   5 comments top 5
1
TomAnthony 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they will also go after Google which hosts everything that ThePirateBay does:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:eAYXcZa...

If you don't use torrents, then you must understand TPB don't use 'torrent files' any more. They use 'magnet links' which are just hyperlinks with the seed info embedded, so when Google caches their pages they cache this info too.

You can initiate torrent downloads from that page exactly as you can from ThePirateBay.

2
casca 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
This will make for an interesting legal argument. The ruling compelled ISPs of a certain size to block access to TPB and the Pirate Party is not an ISP. It would be good for this to go to court to be re-examined given the ineffectiveness of the remedy.

Don't forget to donate to the Open Rights Group (www.openrightsgroup.org) if you support an open internet.

3
polshaw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
(Much needed) publicity for PPUK, and the issues of a censored internet.
4
meaty 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they'll go after the smaller ISPs as well which do not block anything at all?
5
ibrow 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Pirate Party UK Donation page: http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/Help
13
Lovelace " The Origin sydneypadua.com
87 points by hamidr  6 hours ago   5 comments top 4
1
bazzargh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're on twitter, Sydney Padua's doing a draw to give away some of the original Lovelace & Babbage art today:
https://twitter.com/sydneypadua/status/278092306761015297

(by telling you this, I'm making my chances of winning worse, aren't I? aagh)

2
markokocic 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, didn't know she was a daughter of Lord Byron, the famous poet.
3
ck2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Actual paper by Ada Lovelace (translated) http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html
4
kriro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty nice. Love the use of "hitherto" :)
14
Elm: declarative language that compiles to HTML, CSS and JS elm-lang.org
13 points by 6ren  1 hour ago   5 comments top 3
1
dbaupp 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Previous submission (with discussion): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3322082

(Presumably that submission is why this one is forced to (incorrectly) have an extra /)

2
kv85s 25 minutes ago 2 replies      
visiting the link yields:

Parse error at (line 1, column 1):
unexpected end of input
expecting reserved word 'module', reserved word 'import' or at least one datatype or variable definition

3
mgaudin 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Epic fail.
15
Police concerned with Apple iOS 6 mapping system vicpolicenews.com.au
316 points by bmmayer1  14 hours ago   198 comments top 42
1
enneff 13 hours ago 5 replies      
(Disclosure: I work for Google, but not in anything to do with maps. These opinions are my own.)

I've been to this national park before. It's a beautiful place, but not one you want to get stuck in unprepared. The temperature estimates given by the police are accurate. It gets damn hot out there. The roads are gravel at best, and often just packed dirt or sand. You can very easily get bogged, if you don't know what you are doing. I got to a point where the road became unsuitable for my car, and I had to drive backwards for nearly 100 metres to get out as there was nowhere to turn. I would be concerned for inexperienced drivers with two-wheel-drive vehicles.

Map data is serious business, and this particular case is an egregious error.

2
jws 13 hours ago 5 replies      
GPS navigation systems have already killed: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/26/137646147/the-gps-a-fatally-mi...

Rangers are frustrated by having defunct roads or paths in GPS navigation systems as roads and having no way to get them removed.

I was traveling in Death Valley recently, and the span of "unpaved road" ran from "better than my driveway" to "I could try, but there is a 50-50 chance this rented jeep[1] isn't coming back."

EOM

[1] If you pass through, spend a day, rent a jeep. Don't do that to your own tires. The rental guy will tell you where to go to see the things you want to see.

3
prawn 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Recently drove a 4,500 km trip in Australia, including near Mildura. We relied on two iPhones, one with Google Maps and one with Apple's newer version. For the most part, we relied on Google's maps and they never failed. Occasionally, we switched to iOS 6 and had a few different problems including roads simply not existing. After a while, we'd watch the iOS 6 directions just for a laugh.

Some of the stretches further East of Mildura run 100-200km without petrol stations and supplies. A number of the national parks in those areas are unmanned and irregularly visited, and there can be long periods even on sealed roads where you might not sight another car in an hour of driving. For one stretch (in and out of Mungo National Park), we stocked up on a lot of extra water as a precaution and notified family of our plans. Having an infant with us, I was very conscious of how quickly the temperature can rise once the air-con is off.

Can easily see how people might blindly follow maps/GPS and end up caught out. Especially when you're relying on cached phone maps data if your connection drops, as it does frequently out there.

4
SyneRyder 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I think I can explain this one - if I'm right, Apple already has the correct data, but is using it incorrectly.

One of the Apple Maps data sources is GeoNames (geonames.org), a free data source available under a Creative Commons Attribution license and also used with the search on OpenStreetMap. If you search for Mildura at OpenStreetMap (openstreetmap.org) you'll get the correct location of the town, but if you scroll down the GeoNames list you'll also be offered "Mildura Shire" as a search option. Click on that, and the pointer moves to a location similar to the Apple Maps screenshot, about 70km away from the actual town. It seems that's the location that Apple's search has chosen to prioritize, over the actual town.

Mildura Shire is listed in GeoNames as a "second-order administrative division", so it's probably similar to the middle of a county or council area.

This isn't a problem with datasets or incorrect data, it's a problem with how Apple is searching & prioritizing the correct data they already have. Choosing the "town" instead of the "second-order administrative division" would be appropriate here.

For what it's worth, GeoNames already prioritizes the town of Mildura correctly in their search engine.

5
tripzilch 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I heard similar stories about Google Maps a few years ago, people getting stuck in US desert/parks because the GPS is incorrect (and also reception wasn't good back then, but that might have improved by now maybe).

At least this story is hitting the HN front page. Because the park rangers were hitting Google's traditionally deaf customer service ears (which must have been super-frustrating because people had already died and/or gotten into life-threatening situations).

I lost the link to that article, sorry. If I happen upon it, I'll post it here.

On the one hand I suppose it's people's own fault for venturing into dangerous terrain unprepared. But on the other hand, what's the use of having GPS Maps when you don't know when it's trustworthy or not? Great effort by OpenStreetMap (read below) of cross-checking their own maps for consistency with competitor maps, is at least a step in the right direction.

6
001sky 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Police concerned with Apple iOS 6 mapping system

-- You should never blindly follow consumer-level GPS. Full stop.

Especially in remote areas/national parks/widerness areas. Hate to say this is "common sense", but really it should be. It really has nothing to do with Apple, the iPhone, or iOS. Its quite the opposite, there are errors on all sorts of digitized maps. Most people are not aware or the vintage of the underlying mapping data (pre-digitization) and the variances of map-set data even amonst variant databases of "real maps".

7
jyap 13 hours ago 1 reply      
As a former Victorian now living in the US, I think it's apt to point out that 46 degrees Celsius is 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 kilometers is 43.495 miles.
8
robomartin 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Interestingly enough, today I was having a conversation about whether or not Maps had made any real improvements. You know, the kind that might compel one to finally upgrade to iOS6 or even consider upgrading to an iPhone 5. I asked a few people and nearly all of them expressed concern about being able to trust Maps. News like this doesn't make one feel better at all.

Frankly, I don't understand Apple's decision in the context of the idea of being customer-focused. In other words, if you, as an organization, make decisions for the benefit of your customers --or, at the very least not to their detriment-- how can you justify pushing out Maps and not keeping Google Maps on there?

OK, I get it. It would have cost more. A lot more. Fine. That's your problem. Pay Google for another five years exactly because you care about your customers. At the same time, put out your own Maps app and --funny enough-- compete on the merits of the app, not the hype.

If in five years you can't turn Maps into an app that people will choose over Google Maps, then, well, why are you in the mapping business in the first place?

9
ck2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So what was the death rate before iphone or any smartphone existed?

What if the iphone battery dies, even with super accurate maps?

I don't have a cellphone plan so I carry paper maps, I guess I am old and old fashioned.

10
readme 11 hours ago 2 replies      
So, no, it's not good that apple's map data is inaccurate. But the title might be misleading.

The bottom line is if you're driving into a wilderness area like a national park, you should not be depending on your cell phone for your own safety. One of the first things they tell you if you read the pamphlet outside of a hiking area is: do not depend on you cell phone.

So sure, the map data is inaccurate. The more dangerous thing about this is that your battery has a finite lifespan. Also your signal is not guaranteed.

You need to bring water, you need to bring supplies. You need to bring warm clothing.

Seriously.

11
jstclair 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I had to go to the main emergency room in Oslo last week. iOS6 couldn't find it, or even the correct street. Looking at the map in detail later, it didn't even have a building at the correct location. I was furious.
12
thisrod 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm intrigued that the police let this happen five times, and then put out a press release. After the second time in two weeks, I would have put up a sign: "This is not the road to Mildura. Go back and turn left at the highway."
13
djt 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It is quite common for tourists to get into trouble here in Australia due to the differences in climate etc too.

FYI, when you travel make sure to bring extra clothes, water and food. Australia is a massive land mass and it is hard to fathom for people form a lot of countries that it can be a very harsh place for the unprepared.

http://blog.australian-native.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009...

Never have a single point of failure. A paper map or extra GPS at the bare minimum.

14
MetalMASK 11 hours ago 3 replies      
The map failure is just another example of where apple's design principle cannot be blindly applied to every product. Apple's top-down approach on software design is expected to fail on Maps. Maps put hard requirement on data, bottom data, nothing to do with your leader's vision. Apple's way out of this is not to engage user input to add missing data or correct data errors --OSM tried that for years, the most accurate data still comes from semi-professional survey-er.

Look at other companies that does map, google map started out using Tele Atlas, NavTeq serves yahoo, bing and mapquest. Let's face it, spatial data cost money to collect and even more costly to update/maintain. Nevteq and Tele Atlas are gigantic companies for serving basic spatial data for a reason.

I guess apple didn't do sufficient data QA before saying, "hell yeah we are going with OSM where every big player is going with commercial data."

Without a solid baseline data, any fancy pants software development would just evaporate in air.

I have to say though, the GUI for apple map and functionality has very high usability. Apple just need to adapt a different mindset when dealing with data-dependent applications.

(disclaimer: I am a PhD student in Geography with CS background, did my share of processing spatial data for the last 8 years)

15
duncan_bayne 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I live in Australia, and while I am not a fan of Apple or their products,I have to say that I'm surprised anyone in their right mind would go bush with just one map. Electronic or paper, maps have errors. Don't bet your life otherwise.
16
jmspring 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Even before the iOS 6 maps debacle, relying on GPS for guidance in places like National Parks was pretty dumb. There are multiple stories of people getting stranded (and even dying) when relying on maps for places like Death Valley. Often times, even if one is in a suitable vehicle, knowledge of the environment, what to do in case of a problem, etc. are essential necessities in the case of anything going wrong.

A buddy and I travel the back country of Death Valley regularly and the stories we have heard, the vehicles we have seen trying to go places they shouldn't, etc. are just amazing. At a certain point, however, common sense and personal responsibility need to be considered.

17
WestCoastJustin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a horror story about a couple from my province that "became stuck in a remote area when their GPS system led them on to a back road" [1].

[1] http://www.usaprepares.com/survival/husband-died-just-six-mi...

18
nicholassmith 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Oddly enough Google Maps got me lost before, a couple of times. Lets stop assuming Google Maps was all that and a bag of chips, it did have issues at times.

I think it's because I've done long journeys powered by digital maps but I always made sure that there was an agreement level between two, or that it looked sane on a tried and tested road map. As good as they've gotten for the most part they're still prone to bugs, or to lose signal. Paper maps are a car essential still.

19
Argorak 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Out of couriosity, I navigated the Kalahari with both a map and a TomTom. I was quite surprised to find that the paths were quite accurate - but shifted by roughly 5 kms. So I could use the maps, but not the navigation capabilities of the system at all.
20
jasonlingx 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Please can we switch back to Google maps now?
21
Flenser 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You should always have a road atlas in your car. Batteries run out and network connections may not be reliable, you will always have access to a paper map if you have one. If you have an atlas you can always navigate yourself out of any problem (diversions, heavy traffic, accidents closing roads etc.) and they are a good sanity check of whatever your GPS or map app is telling you. Better yet, check your route in the atlas before you set out and you will know your route better, and be able to react quicker to any unforeseen problems.
22
bitsweet 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I love my iPhone, MBP, iPad, and how generally apple has raised the bar on software quality. But the maps app is truly intolerable - it's the most unusable thing apple released since ping, maybe even more so.
23
shimms 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Unrelated to the content of the post, but humorous that they get the capitalisation of "iOS" correct, but consistently spell iPhone "i-phone".
24
oohmeplums 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks like this issue was caused by Apple mistakenly marking the centre of Local Government Areas as 'cities', in Australia at least. See example at http://imgur.com/qlciM for an example from Perth; Cambridge and Vincent aren't suburbs, and the others are in the wrong spot (Joondalup CBD is on the wrong side of the freeway)
25
georgeorwell 12 hours ago 0 replies      
We can all agree that the police are doing a good job by warning people about the problem, right?
26
mattquiros 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't help noticing how those who've never had problems with Apple Maps are usually people from the US. The iPhone is sold in other parts of the world too, you know.
27
simonlang 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a recent story where some tourists tried to drive their rental car to an island (through the ocean) because their GPS told them to:

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/travel-news/taking-th...

28
dchichkov 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Was driving from SF to Big Sur some time back. Google totally tried to take me off road from HW 1 [turn right. turn right now], and then calmly stated "There is no route to your destination".
29
Pinatubo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
James Kim died just about 6 years ago. A lot of people blamed a GPS failure for his death, but apparently he and his family were using paper maps.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim

30
mtgx 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple's hatred towards Google is now putting people's lives at risk. Good job, Apple.
31
asc76 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They first to to get it to work properly.
32
lisperforlife 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I would pay money for a google maps app.
33
dhughes 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to admit that occasionally during whiteout snowstorms I glance at my GPS more as moral support that I am indeed on a road.

Telephone poles are also a good guide if I can see them.

34
guscost 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Anyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified. Like Google Maps."

Explication mine.

35
Mordor 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Steve Jobs was great at coming late to market with a product superior to everyone else. Time is telling of his replacement..
36
jmgrimes 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the big players can improve the quality of their maps by implementing wiki-style editing systems like OpenStreetMap.

Google seem to have already started down this path with the Map Maker functionality. http://www.google.com.au/mapmaker

37
hnruss 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever happened to reading road signs? They are actually pretty easy to use.
38
rymith 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious how this differs from an outdated paper map.
39
davemaya 2 hours ago 0 replies      
They misplaced the main hospital in Cambridge, UK.
40
bmmayer1 14 hours ago 1 reply      
*is stranding
41
assharif 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This never would have happened if Steve Jobs was alive
42
wilfra 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Change title from 'Police' to 'State Police in Victoria, Australia' please. Title is misleading/linkbaity.
16
China's mini Apple takes slice of smartphone pie reuters.com
27 points by nikcub  3 hours ago   11 comments top 6
1
aresant 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
I found the photo of the founder clad in blue jeans and a black polo shirt in front of a large, clean presentation to be arresting.

It instantly evoked the negatives that I read again and again about Chinese companies: brazen "pirating" of innovative products (in this case, Jobs himself!) with slight bastardizations (polo instead of turtleneck).

It took me a minute to recover and read the rest of the article and the comments, which suggest there is actual innovation happening, likely on the supply side, that lets Xiamoi sell at a disruptive price point.

2
happywolf 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have followed China's handphone scene quite closely and want to chip in: XiaoMi no doubt has garnered a respectful number of fans early this year with its first generation of phone, XiaoMi 1. However, XiaoMi (the company, as well as its phones) are not as glamourous as it used to be because of two reasons: First, its lack of supply of XiaoMi 1S, and now XiaoMi 2, coupled with various hardware/software issues, has caused a lot of bad publicity. On the other hand, companies like HuaWei are showing their manufacturing and logistics prowess. Huawei's Ascend P1 is well-received ever since it is in the market. Second reason is nowadays a lot of China companies jump into phone-making business. In fact, beside the traditional phone makers like Huawei and ZTE, the top China Internet companies: Baidu, Tencent, Shengda, and Ali all have shown interest some point to jump in. However all these phones are Android-based running on ARM (usually Qualcomm). This leaves very little room for the phone makers to differentiate themselves apart. The fact a lot of phones allow users to install third-party ROMs actually worsens the effort to lock-in users. What I foresee ahead is a cut-throat price war which happened to the ShanZai (Clone) phones these smart phones replaced. History does repeat itself =)
3
ricardobeat 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The article doesn't even show one of their phones. The mi-1 looked just like a Samsung phone, the mi-2 kind of resembles the iPhone 4. Looks like a standard knock-off business to me, what's special about them?
4
anovikov 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nice, these copycats now took the next step: instead of copying Steve's stuff, they copied Steve himself. Kinda cool.
5
so898 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
You know why this shit phone sold well? Because the advertisements of this shit are almost everywhere in China. Chinese now get one idea: if I want to buy a smart phone, there are only two choice, Xiaomi or iPhone. However, most people get another idea after they use Xiaomi for a time: Xiaomi is just a shit. This company, really spends all of their money on their advertisement. That really makes their phones become shit.
6
r3m6 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Xiaomi's phones run Android, so what sets them apart? Just the price?
17
A collector is selling every Super Nintendo game for $24,999 polygon.com
150 points by aaronbrethorst  9 hours ago   60 comments top 16
1
mwill 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Byuu is one of my hacker heroes. He's passionate, opinionated, and dedicated. The steps taken to map out the SNES, and make bsnes accurate makes it one of my favorite non-library open source projects. I highly recommend checking out his emulation articles on his site[1], and also his piece on ars [2].

[1] http://byuu.org/articles/
[2] http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/08/accuracy-takes-power-o...

2
georgeorwell 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This related article on accurate hardware emulation by byuu is great:

http://byuu.org/articles/emulation/snes-coprocessors

The process required an electron microscope!

3
daeken 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, that's incredible! Major props to byuu for doing this in the quest for better emulation. Wish I could justify the cash to pick this up, though it does make me think about picking up an SNES again.
4
andrewfelix 5 hours ago 5 replies      
At the risk of being down-voted into oblivion...Other than the fact that the guy selling the games is a programmer, so what? and why is this on HN?

There seems to be a rash viral digg/reddit style articles creeping onto the HN front page as of late.

5
rpm4321 8 hours ago 1 reply      
God, what a great system that was. I was 11 when that thing came out, and after seeing just how great the quality jump was from the NES to SNES (and my half-remembered, dust-covered Atari before that), it suddenly became clear to me just how good video games were going to get in the future.

It was a lesson in Moore's Law that even an 11 year old could understand.

6
sdqali 1 hour ago 0 replies      
byuu:

I am neither a gamer nor a game collector. However, the size of this collection and the effort you put in to amass it are incredible.

If the only reason you want to sell this collection off is to get more money that can be invested in improving emulation for European and Japanese sets of the games, would not a KickStarter/Indiegogo campaign be a better idea?

You would get to keep your prized collection, while the emulation efforts get funded by people who would benefit from it.

7
bpierre 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Another great article by byuu on Ars Technica: “Accuracy takes power: one man's 3GHz quest to build a perfect SNES emulator”

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/08/accuracy-takes-power-o...

8
bobsy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Put his on eBay! Ha!

What was that scam that lit up HN last week? Pay for item. Report item as "not as described." Get reversal. Keep item?

It looks like a cool collection. I didn't know games would be worth this much. Especially considering how practically all aren't in mint condition, many have missing manuals etc.

9
Irregardless 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> Professional firms that do this can charge upwards of $100,000 per processor for this kind of work.

> ... [Dr. Decapitator] was willing to do it just for the cost of the donor cartridges and supplies. This worked out to $250 per coprocessor.

Sounds like there's some room for improvement in that market. Either that or Dr. Decapitator is one extremely generous dude.

10
lostlogin 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Plugged in a N64 a year or so ago. Then spent a good 10mins fiddling with and cleaning the plugs while a friend commented on my progress. At that point it dawned on us that it wasn't broken. Golden Eye and Super Mario Cart really did have graphics that were that bad - and we loved it just as much.
11
DiJu519 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought i recognized the name.

This guy has his own emulator aswell.

http://byuu.org/

12
staunch 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember the day we got an SNES. One of my clearest childhood memories. My brother's and I collected 24 games and it was by far our most treasured possession. Too bad I've lost nearly all my patience for games that aren't fast-paced, competitive, and multiplayer!
13
paraboul 5 hours ago 1 reply      
He's not only a redditor. He's the creator of "bsnes" http://byuu.org/bsnes/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bsnes one the most powerful emulator.
14
kenneth_reitz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Want.
15
kriro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
That's pretty cool. I hope someone buys it because it's dev support in a sense. I own an NES,SNES,N64 and also stuff like the CDi (yeah I wanted to complete the Zelda collection...don't those games are horrible :D)

I always enjoy plugging them in. A good game doesn't need fancy graphics in my opinion.

16
thejad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Holy hell this is awesome!
18
Catfish hunt pigeons in France tgdaily.com
53 points by narad  2 hours ago   8 comments top 3
1
kyberias 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's the cat genes... ;)
2
ChuckMcM 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Interesting adaptation of a non-native species.
3
gonzo 2 hours ago 4 replies      
why is this on HN?
19
Hardware, the Ugly Stepchild of Venture Capital, Is Having a Glamour Moment wired.com
5 points by cpeterso  40 minutes ago   discuss
20
Personal Time Capsule github.com
14 points by swanson  2 hours ago   5 comments top 4
1
sc68cal 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've done the same - I have a Java program that I did for a university course in 2008. It's probably the ugliest thing ever, but it has sentimental value.

https://github.com/sc68cal/Java-Distributed-Hash-Cracker

2
chimeracoder 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A while back I created a script that reminds you about projects that you committed to some predefined period of time ago - a bit like Timehop[1], but for git commits. I've found it fun to see how my code (and my project interests!) have changed over time.

[1]http://timehop.com/

3
prezjordan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I love looking back at the crummy things I've made[0]. It's the best way to see just how much you've learned. Not only the overall quality of the product, but little things, like refactoring abilities, readability, and following convention.

Sidenote: Aperture science logo? EDIT: WOW, Portal came out 5 years ago?!

[0]: http://jscal.es/2012/10/12/you-oughta-be-ashamed/

4
carlob 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I came here looking for an open source version of Apple's TimeCapsule. I left felling old: when I started writing my own code github didn't even exist!
21
Startup ideas spreadsheet docs.google.com
84 points by igul222  8 hours ago   45 comments top 20
1
kintamanimatt 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Having skimmed through the summaries, the general trend is they're trying to solve a non-existent problem, or a problem that isn't painful enough that people would be willing to pay to solve. I mean, who wants to pay for their Facebook statuses to be backed up? They're about as valuable as old voicemails and the threat of loss isn't palpable.

There's a lesson to be learned in all of this: don't think about ways to make money, but think about painful problems that you can solve for someone, and figure out whether a viable business can be created with that idea.

2
realrocker 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
http://www.reddit.com/r/startupideas/. Nothing is on it though. We can use it.
3
wgx 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't face the copy/paste, but I should add my 'idea dump' posts: http://willgrant.org/category/idea-dump/
4
adv0r 1 hour ago 2 replies      
"We provide a lottery where you get just as much back as you put in (on average), as long as you're willing to wait a while. "

Target market : "Socialists, Communists, Poor people "

WTF

5
runako 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My favorite blindingly obvious business plan straight from HN discussions: (insert non-US country X here) clone of (insert successful US-only business that HNers constantly whine about not being in country X).

Examples: Stripe for Norway, Twilio for New Zealand, etc.

6
rbirnie 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
The "double index stock fund" - The stock market doesn't sleep it just closes. It opens the next day at a different value than what it closed based on any new information.

"Lock your savings into the housing market, so you don't get priced out!" - REIT

7
jaredsohn 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Original post from almost three years ago:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1190974

8
randomsearch 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Glancing at a selection of these ideas, many have already been done.

A big part of starting a business is ensuring that you do your market research right, know your competitors and identify what need you are fulfilling.

Some examples:

* "Share your wifi" - see http://www.btfon.com - this started years ago and is back by a huge telecommunications company.

* Checking browser and O/S versions - https://browserlab.adobe.com/en-us/index.html

* Anonymous email - http://www.sendanonymousemail.net etc.

* Online image editing... http://www.photoshop.com etc.

RS

9
netcan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks. Just the process of reading a list and thinking about the reasons why things will/won't work & how is very helpful for starting to think of ideas. Also what makes these unique.
10
chmike 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Where can we vote and comment ?

Make a website to list, vote and discuss business idea should be first on the document. :)

11
sterna 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Phosphorus recovery is an important problem indeed, but there already exists a solution:

http://www.grontmij.com/highlights/water-and-energy/Pages/pe...

The main problem at the moment is a lack of incentives to use it at waste water treatment plants, but I guess this will come with increasing Phosphorus prices. Still it would be beneficial to start recovering more Phosphorus already now but this is a political issue rather than an Engineering issue in my opinion.

12
evolve2k 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm thinking this would work better in a stack exchange thread, then we all don't have to read crappy ideas like the pyramid scheme lotto and people could easily upvote and comment on each idea (one idea per post style).
13
vijayr 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Viewing in simple list mode due to high traffic to this document." - HN traffic can stress even Google? :)
14
aviswanathan 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Good artists copy, great artists steal"
15
jcs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Fun to see this pop up again.

Original: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1190974 (almost 3 years ago)

16
huhtenberg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It wants me log in with a Google account that I don't have. Can remove this requirement?
17
swah 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Had one yesterday: provide/sell cheaper/"fixed price" dollars on the fly for foreigners buying stuff in USD, just-in-time.
18
hayksaakian 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Are all of these recent or was this posted a long time ago before?
19
manglav 8 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the source of this? Anyone know?
20
travismowens 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've never read so many horrible, poorly thought out ideas in one place in my life. Seriously guys, think for a moment?

1. a "Priceline for cars"?!?!?!? That's exactly what the site did, in fact it was the ONLY thing they did, read your history, it failed

2. "share your wifi in a city" learn to read your TOS

3. "apt-get for music", nerds, FUCKING NERDS!

I could go on forever

22
U.S. Forecast as No. 2 Economy but Energy Independent nytimes.com
11 points by bejar37  2 hours ago   10 comments top 2
1
bhousel 1 hour ago 5 replies      
"The study warns of the risk that terrorists could mount a computer-network attack in which the casualties would be measured not by the hundreds or thousands killed but by the millions severely affected by damaged infrastructure, like electrical grids' being taken down."

I wonder about this. It seems like every study about the dangers of terrorism mentions this kind of cyber-attack as a possibility, and I just don't see it as being feasible. Hurricane Sandy cut out my own power for a week, and several people I know were without power for 2 weeks, and we got through it. I just don't believe that a cyber attack could damage the electrical infrastructure so badly that it would kill thousands.

2
kriro 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
"In an interview, Mr. Burrows noted that the audiences in China were far more accepting of the American intelligence assessments " both those predicting China's economic ascendancy and those warning of political dangers if there was no reform of governance in Beijing " than were audiences in Russia."

Really, they project China as #1 and Russia on a major downwards trend. Astonishing that this would be the reaction.

The whole cyber-attack warning reminds me of all the Ma Bell projections of phone outages during the phreaking era :P

23
Internet in North Korea: A Glimpse bbc.co.uk
57 points by mih  7 hours ago   26 comments top 6
1
taligent 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I actually briefly saw someone using this when I was in Pyongyang recently.

They have mostly older PCs (with CRTs) and the forums are reminiscent of the internet back in the Netscape 4 days. But from what I saw it is very much an intranet that even had a dating forum. But really it is just a toy for the sons/daughters of the elite. See they very much know about the outside world and so this helps them feel like they aren't missing out on something.

Apparently though Indian workers who have been brought in to work on government construction projects e.g. the pyramid hotel can access the 'proper' internet. But I believe the governments sets up a custom WiFi network.

Also since there were no mobile phone towers around I suspect they may have an underground fibre optic network with lots of microcells around.

2
BasDirks 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love to get my hands on that Red Star OS.

edit: http://thepiratebay.se/torrent/5803379/

3
meaty 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting article.

I'm quite surprised that they appear to use a customised Linux distribution rather than build their own from scratch properly. If you look at the East Germany in the 1980s, the various "VEB" state industries were even chucking out 8086 and VAX clones with every component built in the Eastern Block and even cloned UNIX operating systems!

Couple of links to show the scale of their industry back then:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VEB_Robotron

http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rob...

4
pzaich 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I currently live in South Korea. It's interesting to note that I cannot visit any of the DPR government-sponsored North Korean sites. The only way to view content was using Google's cache. Periodic restrictions like this make me appreciate how truly 'open' the internet still is in the United States.

www.korea-dpr.com/

http://i47.tinypic.com/4zw11v.png

5
mokash 2 hours ago 2 replies      
"There's a curious quirk on every official North Korean website. A piece of programming that must be included in each page's code.

Its function is straightforward but important. Whenever leader Kim Jong-un is mentioned, his name is automatically displayed ever so slightly bigger than the text around it. Not by much, but just enough to make it stand out."

http://mgakashim.com/405/kim-jong-un

6
paullth 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if they have a module BigKimJongUn.js or just cnp that function about the place. And what browser do they have? So many questions...
24
Violent Video Games: More Playing Time Equals More Aggression osu.edu
7 points by Libertatea  1 hour ago   6 comments top 5
1
Cowen 20 minutes ago 1 reply      
I have a bias here. I love video games and I've never truly believed they have serious detrimental effects on mental health. I'm also not an expert of psychology, but I know of at least two psychologists that are studying this and coming to the conclusion that video games have positive results.

http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video...

http://psych.utoronto.ca/users/spence/Research_Games.html

Anyways, I tried to approach this study as objectively as I could. But I have some gripes with their methods and more importantly, their conclusions.

> Students in the study then participated in a competitive reaction time task, which is used to measure aggression. Each student was told that he or she would compete against an unseen opponent in a 25-trial computer game in which the object was to be the first to respond to a visual cue on the computer screen.

The loser of each trial would receive a blast of unpleasant noise through headphones, and the winner would decide how loud and long the blast would be. The noise blasts were a mixture of several sounds that most people find unpleasant (such as fingernails on a chalk board, dentist drills, and sirens). In actuality, there was no opponent and the participants were told they won about half the trials.)

So this study took people playing competitive, violent video games, and then measured their aggression by giving them another competitive, violent game? After three days, they say the students were choosing to deliver harsher and harsher sounds to their "opponents." But after three days, certainly these students had also been given their fair share of harsh sounds, and at that point it's not crazy to think that they were just "playing the game."

Another method they used to measure aggression:

> They were given the beginning of a story, and then asked to list 20 things that the main character will do or say as the story unfolds. For example, in one story another driver crashes into the back of the main character's car, causing significant damage. The researchers counted how many times the participants listed violent or aggressive actions and words that might occur.

So after they played a violent yet fake video game that they likely found to be fun, you give them a fake story and they pick violent outcomes? They were likely still in the mindset of playing the game that they found fun.

None of this conclusively shows anything about their long term aggression in the real world. It seems to be using fake scenarios (with poor timing) to try and make real-world conclusions.

2
GotAnyMegadeth 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
The should have used Mario Kart as one of the non-violent games, that would have ruined their hypothesis.
3
eitland 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting way to study.

- As long as they don't use this to make decisions on what games people should be allowed to play that is. I personally think there is a subset of people who would be a lot more productive if they raised their base aggression level a little. Example: Keeping a punching bag might help some people get their aggression out and other people to build enough aggression to plough through boring work :-)

4
B-Con 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm curious how much of these was simply being primed to be competitive. Where the test subjects competing against actual humans in the nonviolent video games? The violent video games add a form of personal feel to the game, regardless of whether you are playing against the computer or other people it certainly feels like you're fighting other beings. I wonder if that prompts a higher competitive drive.
5
john_i 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the setup for CoD was. Were they playing against each other whether it was public games. I'd say most people would get violent tendencies after playing CoD on public servers.
25
The importance of being unrealistic alyssaaldersley.com
42 points by andydev  6 hours ago   13 comments top 7
1
imgabe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Yes, in order to achieve unrealistic goals, you have to be willing to attempt them. But there is survivorship bias at work here. Of course the people who've succeeded in their unrealistic goals will tout the importance of never giving up. You won't ever hear from the people who failed.

I think you (the general you, not the author in particular) have to come to terms with the fact that unrealistic goals are unrealistic for a reason, and that failure is the most likely outcome. You have to find failing at what you want more desirable than succeeding at something you don't want.

2
sthatipamala 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a good post and I'm glad the author has an outlook on life that makes her happy.

But as a counterexample, I can point to Warren Buffet, who gained success through a lifetime of calculated and very realistic decisions. Instead of the Will Smith quote, I can devise a mantra with a similarly wise-sounding turn of phrase (e.g. "A head in the clouds cannot build empires on Earth").

With anecdotal evidence and well-phrased quotes, any reasonable point of view can sound correct. And ostensibly both views ARE right. Both Will Smith and Warren Buffet are among the best at what they do.

When it comes to Big Questions™ (perfectionism vs. just good enough, grand visions vs. spontaneity, etc), there is ample evidence on both sides. Pick one and move on because the real secret to success lies elsewhere.

3
guylhem 3 hours ago 1 reply      
So true. It is one of the defining features about late adolescence and early adulthood: we believe we can achieve everything through hard work. Nothing is impossible.

For some reason, this sparkle, this feeling vanishes in many people. They become happy cogs of a big working machine called society. It seem to me like a life full of despair - they are just waiting for death to do its part. No ambition, no nothing - barely staying alive, at the expense of others if required.

Some say it's the children effect. I've had friends with children explaining me seriously that they would do everything for their children - and when I tried to explore that (I really wondered about this "everything") they said up to killing innocent people for the sake of their own children.

Some quote philosophers saying that you either create children or you create yourself. There might be some truth in that, but I don't believe it is the whole thing.

This sparkle persist in some people, with or without children - not just founders, but from all the parts of society. That is what IMHO makes humanity move forward.

Regardless of one political opinions, this is something also very deep in Ayn Rand work - refusing mediocrity, living for the sake of it, to achieve big things, the things one loves and dreams about. I don't know many authors where this is so beautifully said.

"Real life" may be about renonciations, but if having children didn't do it, too many renonciation might kill up the sparkle for good.

Preserve it, cherish it - it's the most important thing in your life.

EDIT: downvoted already. I see HN is just as liberal as often, and saying "Ayn Rand" regardless of the context is worthy of a negative vote. Whatever.

4
tpatke 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of 'pep-talk' is great - and it can be very motivating. But let's be clear. Hard work is a necessary but insufficient condition for success. Having big unrealistic dreams is great, but you should probably deliver something that works in the next three months.
5
Kaivo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It's indeed very motivating to read/hear such things. Still, there is always this underlying fear of failure that stays present, and this fear is somehow difficult to overcome. After all, of all the dreams people have, of all the people working their way toward their dreams, how many are actually succeeding? We can't really deny that for some case, regardless of the effort put together, it can/will still fail.

From this fear, the rest kind of snowball; you are afraid to fail, therefore you do all you can to not fail, you stay realistic about the situation, you even expect failures [1]. I do find all this very inspirational, but also difficult to apply altogether when in a realistic or even negative state of mind. The first smallest failure will be a reason to give up, to lose motivation.

The points mentioned by Will Smith in the video the author linked could be applied one at the time to eventually reach a point where these fears can be put aside, almost forgotten, and all the rest could follow, slowly built by placing one brick at the time.

Maybe the thoughts are mixed up, or I don't understand it the way the author meant to explain it, but I see that those two HN threads are linked, but almost opposite. Will Smith states that having a Plan B distracts us from Plan A. Expecting failure ahead is preparing those Plan B.

[1]http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4897467

6
kalms 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Condensed version: Don't be afraid to dream big, as long as you're ready to work your ass off.
7
abdophoto 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I completely agree. I had a friend who used to always tells me "dude, you need to be realistic", and I would always refer to that video of Will Smith.

I'm not sure how many of you guys have seen this series, but "The Men Who Built America" on the History Chanel is one of the best series I've seen in entrepreneurship in a long time.

27
Show HN: Mince pie tracker zencodeworks.com
12 points by stuartk  2 hours ago   8 comments top 3
1
nmcfarl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is completely awesome.

It's going to be a very regional competition - I wouldn't even know where to find a mince pie in Seattle. Which I imagine is going to be a pretty common problem for much of the world.

As a side note - I was curious if those countries the Southern Hemisphere, (and thus a warm sunny XMas), would be as into Mince Pies, but a quick google of turned up Yes!

2
shardling 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's unfortunate that it apparently doesn't parse how many you eat -- you need a separate tweet for each consumption.
3
Peroni 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok, I'll bite (terrible pun intended), what's the point?
28
How would I get started? hackertourism.com
521 points by peteforde  1 day ago   133 comments top 41
1
waterlesscloud 22 hours ago 6 replies      
And of course this thread fills up with more of the same negativism trying to justify itself.

PG nailed it with the term "middlebrow dismissal". Which is a politer term than what I think when I come across it.

I never think to myself "Wow, what a realistic, practical, well-informed comment that generic negative feedback was. My respect for that commenter has certainly increased!" Particularly when it's the 500th example of the same thing in the same thread. Why do people do that? You can't possibly imagine you're adding any value in that case.

It's a growing problem here, and for me at least it's completely contrary to why I visit this site.

In the end, I don't care if the dude is capable of starting his own cable company or not. For one thing, I'm smart enough to know it's not my place to judge that. It's completely irrelevant what I think about that. I can wallow in my own mediocrity without feeling compelled to assign it to someone else.

But the value of the post to me, and to the site in general, is to consider the question. How would you go about starting a cable company? The question of whether any particular individual is capable doing such is COMPLETELY lacking in interest for me. I don't care about that answer, and I especially don't care about some random internet commenter's opinon on that topic. But the question itself is of interest to me, and I hope to others on this site.

If it's not, then maybe there's less value in this community than I'd hoped.

Sorry, a little riled up here. The continuing attempt at justifying the attitude is a bad, bad sign.

2
patio11 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Imagine, as a thought experiment, that HN declared a do-over and took another stab at answering the question. What, specifically, do you want in the new thread that was not present in the old thread, and what do you not want in the new thread that was present in the old thread?

Some potential options:

a) Keep all the facts. Remove conclusory statements which suggest that this is a bad idea.

b) Remove the discouraging facts. Add new facts which tend to not be discouraging, such as "Monthly cable rates are high relative to many B2C products and lifetime values can easily hit the thousands of dollars, allowing you to spend a lot on customer acquisition." Add conclusory statements suggesting that this makes founding a cable company a good idea.

c) Remove discouraging facts about the cable industry, replace with to-do action items which accurately describe the process of how one would set up a cable company (regulatory approvals you'll need, who to hire, how much to raise, etc etc), and very carefully attempt to phrase "Convince investors to stake you with $X0 million" in such a way that it does not sound discouraging.

d) Remove everything about starting a cable company. Treat the question as a springboard about "How to disrupt the cable industry?"

e) Something else?

3
nhebb 23 hours ago 7 replies      
I didn't take part in the previous thread, but I kind of took umbrage with the question. It's really hard to take a question like that seriously when it appears that the OP has put zero effort into researching the subject. How can you not be pessimistic about that? If you're not the kind of person that can do even the most basic research of how cable companies operate, then I don't have one iota of confidence that you would be successful building one. I'm not trying to be mean - just realistic.
4
crazygringo 20 hours ago 6 replies      
I love this idea. Not as something to realistically help you get started, but purely educational. There's so much knowledge tied up exclusively among people "in the industry", that would be great to get out into the public.

I would love to know all the things involved in starting an airline. How are planes actually bought? How are mechanics actually procured? What kind of safety regulations are followed? etc.

I once read the book "Starting & Running a Restaurant for Dummies" just to find out how it's done. It's fascinating!

But turning it into a Wiki, for anything, would be so much better. You can have summary sections, that link to fuller articles, you can cross-reference how to hire a chef (both for the restaurant, and for the airline catering), and so on.

5
polyfractal 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand your complaint...there were plenty of helpful posts in that thread:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4893858

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4893826

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4893857

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4894121

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4893841

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4894378

You asked for advice and received some great information. Just because the overwhelming advice is "This is not a great idea, you will need a lot of money to fight established, entrenched businesses" doesn't mean the advice was unhelpful.

Did you want everyone to sugar coat their opinions with "Yeah! Go get them tiger! We believe in you!", or did you want serious advice that can lead you to making an informed, rational decision?

If you were a CEO of a company, would you want your employees to tell you whatever you wanted to hear ("yes-men"), or would you want people who actually advised you and helped make an appropriate decision (even when it may be counter to your opinion)?

6
jasonkolb 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I upvoted this so hard.

I agree there is a very large snarky dick contingent on HN who pollute potentially productive conversations with "What a stupid idea" type of comments. (Unfortunately I think this is a symptom of the human race, not just HN.)

However, there are some exceptionally bright people who hang out here who I would love to just brainstorm with--throw ideas out and see what happens. This site has an above-average level of these people I think.

I would love to see or find a group of people who are just interested in getting together and banging heads together and see what comes out. Even if I have no interest in starting a new courier service or whatever, I find it quite enjoyable to take the lessons and skills that I've learned and apply them in a new problem space. I especially love hearing feedback on those ideas from people who've worked in those spaces.

The most promising ideas are the ones that might sound dumb to someone entrenched in tradition.

7
RyanZAG 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd say there is a big difference between 'asking for feedback' and 'fishing for ideas'.

"I want to launch a new courier service. How would I get started?"

This seems much more in the 'fishing for ideas' stage and hoping you can crowd source the process of creating your business while paying nothing for the privilege. Most people aren't going to help you.

"I've started planning my new courier service. It will be mostly in the healthcare industry as hospitals are over-paying on delivery costs of fragile medicine. I've worked out some ideas on how I can better fit and transport fragile medicine. However, I don't know how I would get contacts in the medical industry to test drive the technology. Who should I try and talk to and does anybody know of any existing studies into this? Anybody work in the field of transporting fragile goods and know what certifications are required?"

This is much more in the field of 'asking for feedback' and is very unlikely to be brushed aside.

8
SatvikBeri 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Many of my friends have a very interesting trait: pose any sort of problem in front of them, and they'll practically drop everything to work out a solution.

Trebuchets using only materials in the office. Conquering South Africa. Lesbian strip clubs. Realistic world domination. What the world would look like if D&D rules actually applied. AI for storytelling. Etc.

Regardless of how ridiculous the premise, they'll work on it until they have at least a plausible solution. Ignoring impossibilities and slim chances and jumping straight into brainstorming and crazy ideas is a lot of fun. I'd rather have more of those conversations.

9
nhangen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I didn't read any of the comments in the original thread, but I can imagine why many of them were negative. Here is the question:

' I want to build a cable company that centers around viewer types. Basically, it is my understanding that the majority of my cable costs centers around channels (like fox) that I just dont watch, if I wanted to build a system that let customers limit this, where would I get started?'

This, to me, reeks of laziness. The OP would have done better to say 'this is what I've done, research, and/or these are the ideas I have. Am I right, wrong, or close?'

So problem #1 is that, from the looks of it, the OP didn't do any research before asking the question.

Problem #2 is that the question is a lazy one.

I can guarantee you that Elon didn't ask these type of questions, but instead presented lists of assertions and hypothesis which he was prepared to test and/or validate.

10
huggah 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with this is that for questions like "how could I build a cable company?", answers don't help".

If you want to build a cable company, a payments system, a new government, or colonize mars there is no high level answer. There are hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of sub-questions that need to be answered. Eventually so many that you need to hire people to ask and answer them, and you won't even know what the question was.

The truth is that if you really want to go to space, no one will help you. Not because we don't want to help you, but because we can't. We can speculate, and dig up research or law or economics---but at the end of the day, all you're doing is inviting us to help design your bikeshed. If you can break down the problem, figure out which questions to ask, what information you don't have, and who does, that person might be able to help you. By the time you've gotten that far, you're already on the verge of sinking your life into this---and if you want to build a cable company, that's what it's going to take.

11
josephlord 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Criticizing what someone has made with middlebrow dismissiveness is one thing but pointing out that taking on a legally and commercially entrenched industry will be hard and here are some of the specific challenges is entirely valid.

I think the original question is worth picking apart if the answers are being criticized.

>Ask HN: I want to build a cable company. How would I get started?

> I want to build a cable company that centers around viewer types. Basically, it is my understanding that the majority of my cable costs centers around channels (like fox) that I just dont watch, if I wanted to build a system that let customers limit this, where would I get started?

The original question is worse (by a long way) than most of the answers. Most of the answers pointed out the major challenges or suggested better ways to achieve the vaguely stated aims although there were some useless dismissals.

The question indicates (possibly wrongly) a massive lack of understanding of the business "Basically, my understanding...[something basically right but oversimplified]". It is badly punctuated "fox" rather than "Fox", 'dont' rather than "don't". The question also fails to really be clear about what he wants to do. Does he really want to run a cable company maintaining wires in the ground and boxes in homes? Or is this mostly about securing more favorable and flexible content deals? Or is there an implicit assumption that he needs to own the cables to get the deals? What scale does he want to start on? A small town/city or national?

I didn't see the original question while it was active but if I did I would have pointed out how hard such a business is to break into especially if top grade content is required due to the maze of exclusivity contracts and the value of them which means massive amounts of money are needed to make the sellers choose non-exclusive options. Even companies like Microsoft and Sony with massive deployed platforms (Xbox and PS3 in particular) need prolonged negotiations to get any content and aren't anywhere near being able to offer full cable replacements and even with their own content Sony can offer only what is not exclusively licensed elsewhere.

However that doesn't mean that the video space can't be attacked as Netflix is showing but it will in my view need to be an indirect attack that builds audience until it can compete head to head for the major deals and content as a viable distribution platform and pricing model. Note that when the competition really starts costs may rise not fall as the platforms will compete for the most important content potentially driving up content prices for all the distribution platforms.

12
smoyer 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I missed that question and would be happy to help with the technical aspects of starting a cable company (though I'd like to see content delivery decoupled from the infrastructure). I have 25 years of experience in the industry if he gets that far.

The hard part of the process (and I believe the limiting factor in a new company's success), is arranging the contracts with the content syndicators. Find my e-mail in my profile if you're serious.

13
gizzlon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of Richard Branson (the Virgin guy) and a post by James Altucher. I think James' point is that to do something huge, like start a new airline, you always have to find the next step. Pretty basic really, break a big task into smaller pieces. But worth a read nonetheless, it really goes into OP's question.

"Q: How do you know when you're thinking too big or aiming too high (if that's even possible)?"

"A: In the mid-90s I had an idea that lasted about the amount of time it takes to drink two beers. I say this because I had the idea at a bar and it was quickly squashed by the two friends I was with

(...)

My real problem was: I didn't have confidence. And I didn't know what the next step was. In retrospect, I should've written down my idea, written down ten ideas for possible shows to launch with, and started pitching TV companies to get someone to partner with me on it. That would've been simple and not taken too much time before there was some payoff."

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/how-do-you-know-when-youre-thin...

14
ChuckMcM 17 hours ago 0 replies      
An interesting rant. I've observed that problem solvers also follow something like the inverse power law, which is to say it takes a certain kind of person to attack large problems and as the problems get larger the set of people willing to consider them seriously decreases logarithmically until it asymptotically approaches zero.

In an analagous fashion the "quality" (using karma as a metric of quality) of comments on HN are also quite high and drop off steeply approaching zero. This is reflected both in the comments, and in the karma distribution [1]. The trick is to keep the noise floor high enough for quality reading and low enough that you don't miss out on new people making great comments.

[1] http://www.mcmanis.com/karma-chart.html

15
raganwald 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a rule of thumb: If a new business isn't impossible, it isn't worth discussion on a web site with the word "hack" in its name.
16
xiaoma 17 hours ago 1 reply      
>"I'm really disappointed in the universally pessimistic and generally unhelpful answers this question received. Some people pitched some interesting ideas and helpful analysis, but most of the replies reinforced the notion that Hacker News readers are predominantly male know-it-alls and on the average, a bunch of snarky dicks."

This would have been both more convincing and shorter without the anti-male bit. I realize that western media is pretty insensitive to this variety of sexism, but a quick test is to try substituting "black", "female", or "Jewish" where you've written "male". If it sounds offensive, then it probably is.

17
chernevik 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Everybody already knows it would be great if we could get cable speed and reliability without actually laying cable. Building a business around that is easy. The hard part is actually achieving that.

Asking people for the miracle upon which you'd like to build a business, that anyone could build given that miracle, isn't a request for constructive feedback. At its absolute best it is a request for an IP handout.

18
lnanek2 23 hours ago 0 replies      
So if someone says they want to jump off a cliff naked, should we all applaud and encourage them? I think it's better to tell them it isn't going to work out well and why.

There was some interesting analysis and procedures in that thread about how to go about it, but the best post for the OP was really about how, as a company, he would be paying to license certain channels, and if users only subscribed to one or two instead of all of them, he wouldn't make enough money to keep in business.

As a user he can whine and complain all he wants about a la carte being rare, but as a business, he has to make enough money to keep running and he didn't understand that. Pointing out big problems in his plan is doing him a favor because he can then change the plan or address them.

19
spindritf 23 hours ago 1 reply      
> And yet Hacker News folk must be drawn at least somewhat by Paul Graham, who applauds frighteningly ambitious startup ideas.

It wasn't a frighteningly ambitious start-up. It was the same old idea, done hundreds of times across multiple countries, with a minor adjustment in its pricing structure.

20
spitx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
There is nothing "rude" about asking HN to chime in on your exploratory-stage ideas, especially when they are uncommonly ambitious and not your average badgeville startup ideas.
Face it, Foursquare is not going to fetch you a mercenary if you ever needed one.

Why can group-mulling of ideas, be a terrific endeavor?

1) It can stress-test your idea and expose the glaringly gaping holes you might have overlooked, in the very fashioning of the prospect itself.

2)Some ideas may not lend to "socialization" because of their inherent nature. Helps to have them flagged -- if not decimated -- before you even begin.
Eg: A startup seeking to disrupt the litigation law market isn't very readily socialize-able as one targeting the fitness trainer market.

3) The group-mulling process need not be just one-way beneficial. The "mullers" stand to benefit from having their horizons broadened too.
They might for once realize, that there are entire industries -- non-glamorous but nonetheless high gravity, real-impact ones -- waiting to be disrupted beyond the Mayorvilles and Filtergrams of the valley.

This kind of mulling happens on Quora all the time.

HN should encourage it.

Again you are just being asked to mull.

Not leak insights from the equity-research desk at Goldman Sachs.

Chill with the dressing-downs.

21
peripetylabs 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't participate in the discussion because the question was so vague. "I want to colonize Mars. How would I get started?" The same way NASA got to the Moon -- they didn't log onto ARPANET and ask around, they got to work.
22
neurotech1 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The answer to most of these questions, is find somebody knowledgeable in the field or industry, and ask them for advice. Most of the SpaceX senior staff have aerospace experience.
23
napoleond 23 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of those questions would get really good answers on Quora (and I agree, they should be welcomed here more openly).

A really good story related to all of this is the way Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic: http://ravithesun.wordpress.com/2006/12/25/birth-of-virgin-a... (couldn't find a better source, but I heard him tell the same story at an event)

24
miles_matthias 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've setup a Wikispace wiki for this to begin. If people contribute and think this is a good idea, then maybe its own domain and custom design will be in order.

I love this idea and I think we should run with it. Go to:

http://howdoistart.wikispaces.com/

and edit away!

25
Geee 23 hours ago 1 reply      
For most of those questions, the answer is capital.

Elon Musk started from very low hanging fruits for him, whose success enabled him to move on with more ambitious goals. This model is easily replicable, so if you have ambitious goals, first build capital with something easier. Which, I think, most of people here are doing.

26
robbiea 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I definitely agree with this article. We shouldn't be pessimistic about someone's grand vision. However, if you really wanted to start a cable company you probably wouldn't be asking hacker news on how to start a cable company. You would already have other resources that you can tap into and get started on it.
27
stevewilhelm 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The first thing one should do if you want to disrupt a market is learn as much as you can about the current state of that market.

This doesn't mean reading it's Wikipedia entry.

Ideally, it means spending several years working for the current market leader in that space.

Barring that, reading as much as you can about the history, economics, mechanics, and current players in that space.

If possible, become a customer of one or two of the market leaders. If that is not feasible, again get to know people who are customers (again they may become your first target customers).

Befriend several people who do work in that space (they could become your first hires).

The deeper your understanding and experience in a market, the more likely you will succeed in disrupting it.

28
madsushi 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> However, why does everyone assume that the inquiring mind is an idiot?

Because the inquiring mind did zero research and asked a question so broad and so vague that it was impossible for anyone to answer it without months of work and very specific knowledge.

To quote Carl Sagan: "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." I don't think anyone was wanting to sit and spend hours explaining to the author how to do something incredibly difficult and complex without the author putting anything forward. Why not just take that knowledge and do it myself?

29
tomasien 23 hours ago 0 replies      
HERE HERE!

But I do always find myself needing to point out: Hacker News is the most constructive and positive community on the internet. Yes there are lots of dicks and know-it-alls with "why didn't they just do this?" syndrome, but you won't find another anonymous discussion based community of this quality anywhere.

30
jelleprins 23 hours ago 0 replies      
While I do find it interesting to read about the work involved to start such a company - I believe most here would be even more interested to read what steps it would take to start a disruptive company in such a market.
A lot of these markets are either ready for disruption or have recently been disrupted. I would love to read an in depth-article about the work involved.
31
nicholas73 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the issue isn't about how feasible the start up idea is in general, but how feasible it is for YOU. The comments may have been directing you to another idea for this reason.

Using your example of Elon Musk, you can see even his start ups have a progression of ambition. That is, space travel and electric car companies are much less feasible than a payment system or news site.

What is the difference between Musk and you today? Simple. Investors trust him with large sums of money since he has led successful companies before.

There is a reason YC companies generally have low capital requirements. That is the lack of track record of the founders (and that business experience does matter).

For your cable idea, the path towards that goal may very well be starting other companies first. Or be an industry insider who has the experience and connections to convince the incumbents to invest in you (like Pandora).

32
tobyjsullivan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exactly the mentality we need to see more of. Dismissing good ideas is not just unproductive but actually destructive to the overall progression of thought - which is why we're here in the first place.
33
mvts 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great article, an enjoyable read. Thanks.
34
famo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't see the thread either, but I like this post. I think the best way to go about starting something large and ridiculous is to tell all your friends and family you're going to do it, to the point where it would become embarrassing if you didn't even try to make it a success. Friends and family are the best at calling you out on not living your dreams.

"Hey Gaius, weren't you going to build a Cylon detector? You talked about it for months"

"Yeah, but it was too hard and I didn't know how to start"

"You suck"

A more practical benefit of telling all the people you meet is that one of them might know or be associated with someone who is connected with the industry.

35
pla3rhat3r 12 hours ago 0 replies      
LOVE this! I'm new to programming and it's the toughest thing to answer. How or where do I get started? I have some great ideas but not much in the way of skills to get it done. I know we all have different levels of "figure it out" skills but it's always helpful if you find someone who can at least show you how to open the door.
36
zehnfischer 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Sure, the internet can be a cynical place, remote communication seems to wake the worth in a lot of people. At the same time it is full of wonders. Maybe I can invite you to join a discussion about how it could impact in political decision making?
Click along: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4891571
37
marcamillion 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I just submitted a propsal for a new thread format on HN that would potentially solve this. Any upvote love would be appreciated - http://news.ycombinator.com/newest

It's called "Proposal: HWIGS HN: How would I get started".

38
AnthonyJoseph 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest problem with forums like this, is the tendency for people to answer questions that the OP didn't ask.
39
funthree 23 hours ago 0 replies      
there is no shame in being pragmatic
40
Chirael 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Nicely written!
41
jkaljundi 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Amen.
29
Facebook, Google, Zynga Ask Courts To Reject Patents On Abstract Ideas techcrunch.com
196 points by Jagat  16 hours ago   41 comments top 11
1
grellas 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The issue is more nuanced than depicted by the title of this piece: the courts already reject patents based on abstract ideas and the real issue is how they should go about determining whether something is patent-eligible (and, hence, potentially patentable) or a mere abstract idea (and, hence, ineligible). The issue is one of trying to get the Federal Circuit to follow where these large software companies believe the recent Supreme Court precedent is trending.

A while back, I posted my analysis on why the CLS case is important (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4633950), which I repeat here for convenience:

"1. The CLS Bank v. Alice case, though raising an issue of vital importance, is not about 'whether software is patentable.'

2. Over the years, the Federal Circuit has notoriously broadened the scope of patent eligibility, most conspicuously in its 1998 State Street decision which essentially opened the floodgates to the modern rush of business method patents by holding that virtually any business method was patentable so long as 'it produces a useful, concrete and tangible result.' In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Bilski case, repudiated the State Street test for patent eligibility and, though upholding software and business method patents generally, directed courts to be much more vigilant to ensure that no one gain patent rights to what are mere 'abstract ideas,' however much they may incidentally be tied to some computer mechanism in their implementation. In a follow-on decision (Prometheus), the U.S. Supreme Court similarly cut back sharply on the permissible scope of patent eligibility for claimed inventions that constituted nothing more than laws of nature.

3. In this CLS Bank case, the claimed patent involves a method for eliminating certain types of risk associated with an escrow closing and used a technological process by which to mimic a phantom version of the closing as a security check before allowing the real transaction to close. In essence, the technological aspect of this 'invention' is routine and so the question is whether anything beyond that is simply another way of trying to patent nothing more than an abstract idea. If so, it should fail under Bilski; if not, it would potentially pass the test for patent eligibility.

4. The lower court in CLS Bank held as a matter of law that the 'invention' was nothing more than an abstract idea and held it invalid as being ineligible for patent protection. On appeal, a divided panel of the Federal Circuit reversed and reinstated the patent. It did so, however, by setting out a brand new procedural rule whose effect would be to gut much of Bilski and reopen the floodgates to huge numbers of business method patents under a very loose standard - to wit, by holding, that, if it 'is not manifestly evident [my emphasis] that a claim is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea,' then the court essentially treat the claim as eligible. What the Federal Circuit panel did, then, was to take the Supreme Court's directive for lower courts to be much stricter in evaluating dubious business method patents for patent eligibility and recast that directive in a form that said, if you as a court see that something is obviously nothing more than an abstract idea, then go ahead and reject it but you are otherwise to treat as being eligible for patent protection. In other words, the new strictness found in Bilski for evaluating such claims was once again to be transformed by the Federal Circuit into a loose standard that would let such claims coast by unimpeded.

5. Of course, this has set off alarm bells because, in effect, it represents yet one more revolt by the Federal Circuit against attempts by the Supreme Court to rein it in by bringing patent issues back to some semi-sane state. Following the panel decision (which was rendered over a sharp and stinging dissent), the losing party petitioned for a rehearing en banc (meaning by the full panoply of Federal Circuit judges as opposed to merely a 3-judge panel) and this was granted. Thus, we shall see whether the Federal Circuit is prepared once again to stick its thumb in the eye of the Supreme Court or whether it will temper its extreme pro-patent proclivities and follow the law as it has been directed.

So, this is a very important case affecting the trend of patent enforcement in a profound way but does nothing to challenge the idea of software or business methods being patentable in a general sense. For anything to change in that regard, Congress must act." [end of repost comments]

In filing this amicus brief, Google, et al. are waving the Prometheus decision up and down before the full en banc Federal Circuit and imploring it not to repeat the mistakes of the past. If they are successful, all U.S. courts will be in a much stronger position to strike down these sorts of "abstract idea" patents as invalid. The question, then, is a procedural one of how courts should go about making this determination but the results could go a long way toward tightening up standards if this is rightly decided. We shall see.

2
rayiner 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm sympathetic to the situation, but legally this is the wrong approach. The Supreme Court has clearly said that software patents don't fall under the exclusion for abstract ideas, and has also said that it's unwilling to entertain categorical exclusions on the subject matter of patentability.

You're not going to convince the lower courts to ignore Supreme Court guidance on this issue, and this is a particular argument that has already lost in a relatively recent case so the Supreme Court is unlikely to revisit it any time soon.

Companies like Facebook, Google, etc, are in a far better position asking for a reevaluation of the bar for novelty and non-obviousness. There is a multi-factor test for non-obviousness, and John Deere holds that secondary factors such as "commercial success, long felt but unsolved needs, failure of others..." can speak to an invention being non-obvious.

I think an argument that evidence of independent invention should create a presumption that an invention is obvious would be far better received as well as being more consistent with the statutory framework.

3
eykanal 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Somewhat interesting not to see Apple on there. Then again, Apple's IP portfolio is probably larger than all the cosigners combined, and they may not want to encourage legislation leading to that all being invalidated.
4
KerrickStaley 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I like how Dell, Red Hat, and Rackspace are also cosignatories, but the article's title mentions Zynga.
5
rohern 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This is extremely good news for the startup world. Maybe Zynga can do one good thing before it dies?
6
baddox 12 hours ago 2 replies      
All patents, and in fact all forms of intellectual property protection, by definition apply only to abstract ideas. Legal protection of non-abstract things already exists: that's what normal property rights are.

All intellectual property laws forbid me from placing my physical property into certain arrangements. I am free to own ink and sell my products in my boxes, but if I apply that ink to the box in the form of an Apple logo I have violated trademark laws. I am free to own a hard drive and all the tiny magnetic particles therein, but if I cause those particles to take on an arrangement that represents a Beatles' MP3, then I have violated copyright laws. I am free to own a large building and a bunch of machines, but if I arrange these machines into a certain type of assembly line, I may have violated a patent on a manufacturing process.

7
EGreg 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a question ... if many of these patents are that obvious, why doesn't Google or another company make a point (that will take 3-4 years to make) by patenting a lot of stuff it thinks will exist in 3-4 years, and then just suing everyone in sight on the internet just to prove a point? As long as their patent covers it, they will make lots of high profile cases.

Maybe the stuff isn't as obvious when it's being patented. I don't think the obviousness-at-the-time-of-patent is the problem here. The problem is that the industry moves quickly and it doesn't cost much to innovate in software as it does in, say, pharma. That's what Posner's point was.

8
ilaksh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It is becoming increasingly obvious (to some people such as myself) that the law, government, and other social institutions are obsolescent and actually restricting progress, which is always made through technology.

It won't be too many decades before all human activity is irrelevant. (I make the distinction between humans and the ultra-intelligent life forms that we will shortly invent because I think that they are fundamentally different things.)

9
hkhanna 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's interesting that their brief doesn't provide any citations for the proposition that Mayo identified these four discrete guideposts for determining whether a claim is directed to an unpatentable abstract idea.

In fact, I'm not sure Mayo can be read as doing much at all beyond breaking the walls between the three judicially created exceptions: abstract idea, law of nature, and natural principle. After Mayo, they're sort of just one big (unworkable) exception.

Boy, I hope I don't have this wrong since I have my Patent Law final exam tomorrow morning!

10
rjdagost 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If Google is serious they should start by discarding their patent rights to PageRank
11
fear91 15 hours ago 3 replies      
In other words:

FB, Google, Zynga Ask courts to invalidate patents they don't have

30
Show HN: TravisLight - The monitoring tool that spots failing projects on Travis github.com
10 points by couac  3 hours ago   3 comments top 2
1
philbo 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
I didn't really understand what this was until I scrolled down to the screenshot and realised its a buildwall. May be worth using that term in the summary on GitHub for clarity?

As for the project itself, nice work! I'm a huge fan of buildwalls and think all colocated teams should have one on display somewhere prominent where the whole team can see it most of the time. We literally just started a new team up a couple of weeks ago, are colocated and are using Travis for CI. So your project is about to go up on the wall here right now. Thanks! :)

2
raimondious 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Was the point of this to build it or because you needed it? I don't see the use of this other than as something to make. Travis already does what this does.

However, it does look like a fun weekend project, so I'm assuming that's what it is, seeing as the first commit was Saturday.

       cached 10 December 2012 17:02:01 GMT