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The Web We Lost dashes.com
391 points by kzasada  8 hours ago   114 comments top 24
cletus 5 hours ago 6 replies      
I think this is an example of seeing the past through rose-coloured glasses.

Yes there was Flickr but you could discover photos. Thing is, Flickr is still there and you can still use it. What's clear from this is that Flickr didn't (and doesn't) cover what is the use case for most people: sharing photos with a limited group of friends and family.

Technorati? Honestly, I think this is an example of living inside a very small bubble. I'd honestly never heard of Technorati until long after it had waned.

I don't agree that the monetization of the Web has degraded the value (to the user) of links on sites other than links on sites aren't the primary discovery mechanism like they used to be, which is actually a good thing (IMHO).

> In the early part of this century, if you made a service that let users create or share content, the expectation was that they could easily download a full-fidelity copy of their data, or import that data into other competitive services, with no restrictions

This is only true to a limited extent IMHO. The primary services for creating information 10+ years ago were email providers. Because Web-based mail was a latecomer, services like Yahoo Mail and Hotmail grew up in an era where many people used Outlook, Thunderbird and other desktop email clients so they had to support POP3 (and later IMAP) and you could use those services to export your mail.

But that isn't the same as designing your services for interoperability. That was an unintended consequence.

As the idea of "your mail, everywhere (you have an Internet connection)" became dominant, so did Webmail. POP3/IMAP became less important.

Again, I consider this a net positive change.

> In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites

This I disagree with. Having your own domain and Website 10+ years ago was pretty unusual. Administering your own site is not easy, particularly as malware became more prevalent. This has declined because no one wants to run their own Website (or email server for that matter) because it's a crazy amount of effort for very little real gain.

The only real problem I see with the present state of the Web is that Facebook wants to own all your data. It wants to be your identity. It wants to be your Internet. That's bad. It's bad for the Web and bad for consumers. But honestly, I don't see it coming to pass. Facebook is just as susceptible to disruption as so many behemoths that have come (and gone) before it.

10+ years ago Microsoft dominated your computing environment. Many couldn't envision a future that would break free of this grasp. In a few short years Microsoft has diminished their control of your computing experience in ways few could've predicted. I'll just leave this as an example of the danger of extrapolation:


smacktoward 8 hours ago 9 replies      
I agree with Anil 110% that the Web he's talking about was, in many, many ways, a Better Web than the one we have today.

The problem is that it's worse than the one we have today in the only way that most people care about: it's harder. To participate, it expected you to know how to do a bunch of things that seem trivial to tech folks but frighteningly complicated to everybody else. You had to buy a domain. You had to choose a Web host. You had to know how to connect the domain to the Web host. You had to choose the right software to do what you wanted to do. You had to install that software, and configure it properly.

The reason hosted services became popular is because they let you skip all that stuff. You fill out a form and you're up and running. Someone else worries about all that other stuff for you. This makes those services accessible in a way that the Web of 2000 was not.

Of course, to get that accessibility, the hosted services make you give up a lot of things. You lose access to your raw data. You lose your privacy. You lose the ability to change vendors if the one you're on turns evil.

But to non-technical people, those losses aren't obvious. They don't understand what they've lost until losing those things turns around and bites them. It's like DRM: people don't understand why DRM-encumbered music downloads are bad until their iPod dies and they want to move their iTunes-bought music to an Android phone. "What do you mean I can't do that?" is what you hear the moment the penny drops. But before then, they don't understand the risk.

This is what will need to be overcome to make tomorrow's Web like yesterday's was: it'll need to be as easy for people to use as today's is, or you'll need to educate the entire world about why they should put up with it not being that easy. Otherwise people will keep on blindly stumbling into the heavily-advertised walled gardens, not realizing that's what they're doing until the day they decide they want to leave, and can't.

10098 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Maybe I have changed, or maybe the Internet has changed, but I used to meet people on the internet. I used to make friends online, and some of these friendships gradually mutated into "offline" friendships. There used to be message boards, IRC and web chats where people would talk, form groups, become friends or enemies.

People used to have blogs on livejournal or other services, some were trying to create content, write interesting posts. I met a lot of new people through that medium too.

But now everybody is locked inside the narrow bubble of their own social network. People don't become friends on facebook - they usually "friend" their IRL friends. You can't fit a good meaningful post into a tweet. And you can't have a normal discussion without sane comment threads like on livejournal - and I haven't seen that on any of the popular social sites.

That's also a part of the web we lost.

agentultra 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's rather funny when people talk about the, "social web." Before the social graph, technorati, and flickr there were newsgroups, email lists, HTTP, IRC, etc. The Internet itself is a social tool. Perhaps the term refers to some epoch of which I am not aware but it seems to me from a big-picture perspective that we've only narrowly improved the experience since Eternal September.

The "walled garden" networks will always strive to find their value in lowering the barrier to entry for new participants on the web. Facebook makes it super easy to share your photos with your family and friends and passively update them on the minutiae of your life. Twitter does the same thing to large degree in a more public fashion. Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest... all of the same zeitgeist: user experience.

But the cognoscenti are certainly aware that the web is the sum of its parts and walled gardens are antithesis to participation within its ecosystem. However the problem is and has always been participation: there is no single sign-in, no simple user experience, no common parlance for the mainstream to absorb. We got about as far as blogs and stopped there once MySpace, Facebook, et al took over.

I'd prefer a return to the roots but I think we'll need software and services that provide a better user experience and product-based focus rather than the service-oriented approach that has become popular.

saurik 5 hours ago 1 reply      
There is an example in there of how creating a single sign-on service in 2005 being "described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act". That was years after this kind of thing was considered a problem, however, and it was somewhat rightfully so, and I believe the real story is that things actually got "better" as we came to understand these services more. I am not certain things actually got worse over the last ten years: in some ways they really got better.

Going back to 2002, Microsoft had been working on "Hailstorm", which was a very poorly chosen name for something that people rapidly became afraid of ;P. It was later renamed to "My Services", but it included Microsoft Passport (yes, this is mentioned in the article, but I don't think it is given enough weight), a single sign-on service provider that Microsoft was encouraging other websites to use. It would provide details about you, including your e-mail address, to the sites you connected with.

I had remembered a bunch of people being angry about it, so I did a Google search for "Microsoft Password mark of the beast", and came across an article written at the time in some random magazine called "Microsoft's Passport to Controversy -- Depending on whom you ask, Passport is either a useful consumer convenience or the mark of the beast".


However, it should be noted that one of the fears at the time was not "man, vague centralization is bad", it was "omg, Microsoft doesn't just want this service to take over the web... they want this service to take over the world". Now, of course, you read me saying that, and think "ugh, stop with the rhetoric: that's just an example of people freaking out about something we find common-place; that's what the article is about: did you read it? ;P".

But... it was actually for real. Microsoft was lobbying to make Microsoft Passport be the new US National ID system, and it wasn't just a pie-in-the-sky goal... they were lobbying to make it happen, had the ears of the right people, and were making serious progress on it. For reference, there was an article written about the situation in the Seattle Times with the title "Feds might use Microsoft product for online ID".

> Forget about a national ID card. Instead, the federal government might use Microsoft's Passport technology to verify the online identity of America's citizens, federal employees and businesses, according to the White House technology czar.

> On Sept. 30, the government plans to begin testing Web sites where businesses can pay taxes and citizens can learn about benefits and social services. It's also exploring how to verify the identity of users so the sites can share private information.


I thereby feel the need to note that, even as late as 2005, if you were going to start talking about building the world's next best "single sign-on" provider, this is what you were being mentally compared with: yes, the one service mentioned (TypeKey) ended up having "much more restrictive terms of service about sharing data", but it is looking at the past through rose-colored glasses to think that things have gone downhill.

Let's put it this way: can you seriously imagine Facebook or Twitter ever being considered as the official login system for the IRS? I can't in 2012, but that was the honest-to-goodness reality of "the web we lost" from 10 years ago. At some point, in the last 10 years, it became more, not less, clear to everyone that this kind of service needed limits. There was backlash in 2002; but I believe it was much more fringe-concern than it would be now in 2012.

> Yesterday, appearing at the conference, Gates reiterated the goal, saying he expects governments in many countries will find it difficult getting to "critical mass" with authentication systems they develop on their own. He said some governments may opt to use companies such as Microsoft or America Online as "the bank" that registers people for online usage.

untog 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Funny that he says all this then has a Facebook comments box at the bottom of the page.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that IMO- people are far more likely to have their real names on Facebook, and thus leave sensible comments rather than total drivel. But it makes a point that he doesn't include in the article- sometimes these centralised information stores can be useful.

joebadmo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
After all that, I can't comment on the piece with OpenID or any other service I actually use. Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL? Really?

The way out of this mess is for people with loud voices to support efforts like Tent.io, open, decentralized, standardized protocols that don't lock us into corporate silos: https://tent.io/

unimpressive 4 hours ago 1 reply      

I hate to add emoticons to this quite serious discussion, but I can't help but think that we've lost; over the course of 40 years, a lot more than the cooperation and interoperability described here.

We lost operating systems that expect the user to eventually learn a programming language.

We lost the expectation that a user will ever learn one.

We lost the early expectations of a peer to peer Internet.

We lost the hope of encryption protecting anybody beyond a few stubborn nerds and activists.

We lost the idea of client programs, forcing more and more of our data into computers we don't control.

Were losing the idea that the public can manage their own computers, as we have thus far seen a poor job of it.[0]

Were losing our memory that these things were possible, that they ever could have been or could be.

Were losing the chance to change these things for the future, should we wish to.

[0]: I remember reading over 50% of computers on the Internet are in a botnet, if anyone could indulge my laziness and source this; I would be grateful.

gfodor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Microsoft Passport. I haven't thought about that in years, and recalling how the tech world recoiled in horror then for things we have eagerly embraced now is illuminating.
benwerd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This. This is the web I care about. The principles that keep me doing what I do for a living. I love this web, and how it works.

But the thing is, I love the web we have now, too. I love the interconnectedness and the fact that you don't need to be technical to find, share and create amazing stuff. You just have to have imagination and humanity.

So, let's go back. Let's take the web we've got today, and let's consciously retrofit it with the plumbing we had back then. Let's take the services we all work on and stick in those APIs. Let's make it all work better together, so that the sum of all the web applications is far more than all the web applications separately.

Think about the back-end services we all value: Stripe. Twilio. AWS. What unites all of them is that they're incredibly simple to develop with, and to connect into other applications. That's why Twitter succeeded in the beginning, too: because its API was simple enough that people could build apps for the nascent mobile app ecosystem. This is good for all of our products, as well as for the web's health as a platform.

It's not hard. That's the beauty of it: all these APIs and standards are simple to build and simple to use. That's why they survived. All that has to happen is an understanding that being closed is not a better way to serve your users or run a tech business.

aes256 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like the author is wearing rose-tinted glasses to me.

While much of the observations may be true, the web is still a far richer and more valuable resource than it was five or ten years ago.

yo-mf 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Anil missed something in his allusion to AOL. There was an Internet before AOL that a few of us were actively using. There was a thing called “the web” that some folks were toying with while the masses toiled in Prodigy and AOL. Were those services bad or evil? No, but they accelerated the onramping of the next generation of Internet adopters that then quickly moved to the wild and free Web. With the development of the web came all sorts innovation and novel services that brought order to the often chaotic web.

We are on the same onramp now as we were in the late 90's. Facebook, Twitter, et. al. are just another stopping point to whatever comes next. We lost some things along the way, we abandoned some of our anonymity, and in some ways our freedom and experience suffered. But we have also gained tremendously in the decade since. We have smartphones with apps that guide us to cool places and discovery new experiences. We have apps that make our shopping experiences easier and cheaper. We have apps that let us express ourselves in sounds, pictures, videos, text, and to share those expressions of ourselves to the world in a few clicks. We can find any number of experts and sites that offer assistance without flipping open phonebooks or blindly Googling the world.

Yes, we lost something. I also agree that we have forgotten some of the earlier values that made the web such a joy. We got enticed by free apps and gaudy user experiences. However, there will be a backlash someday and the next generation of Internet users will jump outside of these walled gardens to take control of their own online identity.

kamjam 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Meh, I disagree with a lot of that. You speak as if the internet ONLY consists of social now. Your points are nostalgic and looking at the past through rose tinted glasses IMO.

Five years ago, most social photos were uploaded to Flickr

You can still do this. People choose not to. I don't want strangers viewing my social pictures, esp if I had kids. These are private moments to be shared with my friends.

Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site

You still can, it's your site. If you decide to monetize your site and display AdWords then that's your call. You don't have to be a sheep and follow what everyone else is doing.

In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company...

Don't use them and create an account. No one is forcing you to use them, but for some of us (me) it's just easier to link several sign-ins together with my Google account. These are generally sites I trust. If I don't trust them then I'll use a disposable email account anyway to register. If the "average man" on the street doesn't know better then that's his/her problem, it's the same basic principle as identity theft and people guard against that. It's time they did the same online.

In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites

Really? A few people maybe, but most non-tech people I know really couldn't give 2 hoots. Wordpress and all the blogging sites have made a lot more people I know open their "own" sites than would have been owning a domain name and all the other hosting and "headache" that goes with it.

Five years ago, if you wanted to show content from one site or app on your own site or app...

Yes, agree it is bad, but that's business. The same thing happens in the real world, just because it is online the principles of business do not disappear and unfortunately not everyone is that tech-savvy and some of those people who pumped millions into a business may not "get" the web like you.

I don't think we have "lost" any of these. People have just decided to move on as the technology has advanced. The internet is a lot more open and a lot more accessible to many more people than it has ever been. As a developer I may care about the above (I don't) but as a regular joe, I don't think I would waste 2 seconds, no matter how long I have been using the web.

ricardobeat 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I think people are missing the point. Yes, Flickr is still here and you could use it. But Flickr never really got to mobile (a major strategy failure). Do you know since when Flickr has similar functionality to Instagram? Today - they just released a new version with filters.

The point is, you can't build much on top of instagram, twitter, facebook, whatever. APIs are encumbered by pricy licenses, nobody wants to collaborate. Open standards for sharing data are dying. RSS is dead. Mash-ups are dead. Everything is behind private APIs and walled gardens, the web doesn't connect everything anymore.

krakensden 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't understand why he thinks the pendulum is swinging back. Is there any particular evidence of that?
quasistar 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Just a few reasons today's Web trumps anything from the 'Technorati' (seriously?) era: Open API's that reply in JSON, Cloud VPS's at $0.02 per hour, 10 Gb ethernet, 54 Mb fiber in my house, multicore computers in everyones pocket, GPS at everyones fingertips, web frameworks like Sinatra (yes, it took more than three lines of code and two bash commands to publish 'Hello World!' to the web back then), caching solutions like Redis, data crunching pipelines like hadoop, payment processing like Dwolla...need I go on? There will always be folks hankering for the glory days of alt.religion.kibology and compuserve. Ignore them. Create something game-changing instead.
fleitz 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The web we lost is still there, it's just that's it's just as accessible as it was 10 years. We post photos to Facebook not because of the technical superiority but because our friends and family can see them.

You can still put your photos on flickr where no one you know will ever see them.

endlessvoid94 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think most of the frameworks, libraries, and tools we use to build these new services can do an awful lot more to make this kind of thing easier. I actually suspect we'll enter a new age of programming soon, where a lot of the cruft and boilerplate of managing filesystems and metadata around your data (from databases) will be handled automatically, making this kind of thing much, much easier.

Who knows, though. I'm optimistic.

lifeguard 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent writeup. I think it misses an important trend in the Web's population: fewer nerds. It used to be a lot of work to get a PC with a broadband connection. Now every cell phone has cheap broadband and a suite of apps built in. The Web today is mostly populated by users who are not enthralled with the technological underpinnings that make it possible. And that is natural. The the lamentable effect is that now there is a market for accessible communication and media. And this is overwhelming the traditions of sharing and valuing anonymity on the Web.

I imagine the nerd population has grown, and accelerated over time. It is just that the non-nerds are getting on-line much faster.

mattmanser 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This guy has the most awesome title ever!

Director of Public Technology Incubator Expert Labs

Listen to him! That's like master of the universe. On steroids. Go Anil, go!

joey_muller 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I find myself disagreeing with my cofounder on things like giving the user more and more control. It adds too much complexity. Providing the basic, minimum requirements will be sufficient for 99% of our customers. I'd rather focus on them than the small sliver of folks who'd want that extra control.
aaron695 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry but I think this article is totally wrong.

Tags for instance are a classic example of something people raved about, thought would work than were a total failure.

It was found filenames actually gave more useful information to the user than tags.

(PS if it's not obvious hashtags are not tags)

vividmind 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook is web's McDonalds.
barce 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Facebook benefited lots from what could be called "Net Neutrality" in 2003.
Seattle to deploy Gigabit fiber network seattle.gov
139 points by aaronbrethorst  5 hours ago   101 comments top 15
DenisM 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
The initial 12 neighborhoods include: Area 1: the University of Washington's West Campus District, Area 2: South Lake Union, Area 3: First Hill/Capitol Hill/Central Area, Area 4: the University of Washington's Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle, Area 5: the University of Washington's Family Housing at Sand Point, Area 6: Northgate, Area 7: Volunteer Park Area, Area 8: Beacon Hill and SODO Light Rail Station and Areas 9-12: Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach.
egypturnash 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Oh hell yes. I live in the U District. I am basically first in line for this. Signed up for more info as it happens. Goodbye, Comcast.
marshray 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Hooray! Now I have one less thing to lose by leaving Kansas City!

RE: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4917132 from today)

erickhill 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
So proud of Seattle on a personal and professional level, across multiple recent advancements.
amckenna 5 hours ago 6 replies      
it is just getting better and better to live here in Seattle. Legalization of weed, same-sex marriage, and now high-speed internet
snitko 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Question: why would a private person (as opposed to a business) need a Gigabit internet access?
irollboozers 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I am seriously debating why I recently moved from Seattle to SF/Bay... I can't go a week without seeing or hearing something that just rubs it in.
lostoptimist 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome news. Comcast's monopoly on broadband in certain neighborhoods has produced nothing but sub-par internet access. This should greatly improve things.
reddiric 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As thrilled as I am that we're doing this, overdue and hopefully done right in the public interest, being about three blocks outside one of the initial service areas stings just a smidge.
kemiller 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What is a "fiber transmitter"?
HelloMcFly 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've got a job interview tomorrow for a position in Seattle. I'm now even more motivated.
phinnaeus 5 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm moving to Seattle in January and was already planning to sign up with CondoInternet. Seeing as my to-be neighborhood is one of those they say this will be offered in, I'm now wondering when this will be rolled out. Awesome news though.

Edit: "Gigabit Squared will be aggressively building, with eyes towards beginning services in the Fall of 2013."

hayksaakian 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hurrah! I was getting worried about something Google fiber esque taking painfully long to make it here.
xhrpost 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In all seriousness, what's the likelihood of bootstrapping something like this? Intuitively I'd say near zero, high upfront costs, low profit margins, slow ROI. For some reason though, my gut isn't convinced.
sidjoshi 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I live in SLU! Today is a happy day.
Backbone.js 0.9.9 Released backbonejs.org
106 points by jashkenas  5 hours ago   26 comments top 5
jashkenas 5 hours ago 10 replies      
This is an "almost-1.0" preview release -- so if you've got a Backbone app, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the time to upgrade, and report issues and concerns.

Some of the more significant updates are:

    * `listenTo` and `stopListening` for easier event unbinding.

* HTTP PATCH support, for partial updates.

* collection.update(models) for "smart" add/remove/merge in one method.

* Events.once, a-la jQuery. Also jQuery-style event map syntax.

* Lots of performance tuning for triggering millions of events per second
(should you find the need) in modern browsers.

lordlarm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
«The Backbone object now extends Events so that you can use it as a global event bus, if you like.»

This is great, up until now I've extended the app with Backbone.Event like:

   App = {
view = {},
model = {},
collection = {},
events = {},
_.extend(App.events, Backbone.events)

Congrats on the soon-to-be 1.0 release :)

keda 3 hours ago 1 reply      
In the doc:
- intead of other.on(event, callback), is that listenTo allows the object to keep track of the events, and they can be removed all at once later on.

typo "intead". ;)

Thanks for this great update. I like Backbone's Minimalist approach to structured JS programming.
Love CS even more.

btown 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know when/if the Parse SDK for JS plans to incorporate these features?
zachrose 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Hooray for the global event bus!
How The Speed of Light Was Measured in 1676 amnh.org
10 points by tmoretti  44 minutes ago   discuss
Web Discussions: Flat by Design codinghorror.com
39 points by stalled  3 hours ago   38 comments top 17
saurik 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I very often will find a post on HN where the conversation forked in numerous unrelated directions: one thread taking about the politics, one talking about the economics, one talking about the font used on the website, and another angry that the post got enough upvotes to be on the front page in the first place.

I consider it of immense value that I can skip most of the content I am not interested, and concentrate on the parts in which I am. Further, I will contend that it would be impossible to even have that many interesting discussions were every participant forced to struggle through all the other parts in a massive flat discussion.

Of course, you can then argue "let's have multiple flat discussions", at which point you start to see something more like a typical web forum: with categories, forums/topics (I will maintain "topic" going forward; to be clear, by "categories" I mean the section headings on the list of topics you often see), specific threads, and then linear posts within the thread.

But, if you think about how that maps to a site like HN, you find that the part with the flat posts isn't analogous to the comments on an article: the are more akin to individual thread trees, each one diverting off to talk about the politics, economics, etc. of the overall topic (the link). Now, the article does seem to realize this, as it explicitly is mentioned that capping the thread depth has value, but doesn't seem to understand that that's the world that most of the systems that he's operating in already have.

Take StackOverflow as an example: he says there is one level, but there are actually a bunch, from the site as a whole, to the individual interest areas, to the level of individual subjects (which are modelled as a DAG due to being structured with tags, but are of course used in the field as the next level in the tree, as that's how humans can conceptualize it) to questions to answers to individual comments on answers (where it stops).

That's a lot of levels of depth, and it lets the site help you weed out all of the stuff you care about from the stuff you don't. That depth was important: if you came to the site and you saw all of the questions at the same time, you'd be frustrated; if you came to the site and saw all of the comments, it would be worthless.

Now, go back to HN and attempt to remap that kind of depth: we have links, but there really are lots of sub areas that people like to talk about with regards to those links; as I mentioned: politics, morality, design, alternatives... and each of these is really a fairly high-level goal that tends to get rapidly paired down to "what you actually wanted to discuss".

It doesn't feel like these levels are occurring if you concentrate on the schema, but if you examine how the site is used they are clearly there; the exact boundaries, though, tend to get blurred depending on how many people are participating, what kind of article it is, etc.: there isn't a hard/fast set of rules like on StackOverflow, but the site serves a wider set of purposes.

Of course, when you get down in the trenches, things can get confusing. That's the only place this article has any meat: however, to turn this into a David v. Goliath "Discussions: Flat or Threaded?" kind of topic, claiming "Web Discussions: Flat by Design" misses the essential complexity of this field, throwing out all of the fascinating parts of discussion communities and bordering on linkbait :(.

Further, it then ignores the ways in which Hacker News attempts to do this (the reply delay limit that kicks in the deeper you get down in a discussion tree), and doesn't offer any enlightening solutions. That said, this is the same author (Jeff Atwood) who wrote a massive tirade about discussion systems in 2009 called "The Value of Downvoting, or, How Hacker News Gets It Wrong" without realizing that HN actually supported downvotes, so I'm not certain what I should expect here.

(Oh, and the idea that Twitter somehow makes it easy to follow conversations because it attempts to group replies back/forth is kind of ludicrous if you've attempted to dig back through a conversation on the site that involved more than four people after the fact: the mechanism often doesn't work, and it fails to deal with how Twitter is actually insanely NON-linear to the point where there is often a cacophony of discussion going in every direction at once by people who may or may not even be following other people who are involved in the same discussion... how that model--the least linear model in existence today--somehow proves that any linearity at all is valuable is confusing to me ;P.)

SCdF 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"precious few threaded discussion models survive on the web."

Citation needed. Seriously, you can't just casually throw out a phrase like that and not expect to back it up. HN seems to be going fine. Reddit seems to be going fine. Facebook has threads now I've noticed and it hasn't exploded in a ball of threading-related fire. I can't think of a website that has died because it uses threads, nor can I think of a website that is overly popular because it doesn't use threads.

Anyway. let's talk about his arguments a little:

1) It's a tree. His argument seems to be it's unnatural and confusing to read. This is sometimes true. What's even more confusing though, is when people wish to reply to one particular post, but since it's flat it all gets smushed together into some kind of massive confusing shouting match.

2) Where did that reply go?

- "How do you know if there are new replies?" Yep, that sucks, no question there.

- "reply at the wrong level" I'd argue that occasionally getting your reply wrong is better than constantly replying into a shouting match and never being heard.

- "responses buried somewhere in the middle" that kind of thing is lame totally, but it can be "fixed" (to a point obviously, imo, ymmv etc) with a upvote system

3) It pushes discussion off your screen. Aka "indentation is ugly". That is certainly true, but it can be mitigated (at least in terms of wasted vertical screen space) with expand / collapse buttons. In terms of horizontal space, I think that's an UI issue waiting for someone to solve it (I don't think it's a fundamental failure).

4) You're talking to everyone. Not sure what he's really talking about here, I don't think anyone thinks a reply to a comment is private-- you reply to an existing comment when you want to comment on the comment, not talk to the person who wrote the comment. Otherwise "polluting the tree with these massive narrow branches" seems to be #3 again.

5) I just want to scroll down. Basically, he finds it too hard to navigate in tree-space. The problem with this is that everyone else wants to reply in tree space, so even if your site has flat comments people still going to use @originalCommenter at the top of their comment, or if you're lucky quote the originalCommentor's post. And then originalCommentor will quote back, and so on and so on until, surprise!, you have threaded comments again, except this time it's adhock, ugly and with no collapse button.

I'm also confused as to why Jeff includes a couple of paragraphs implying that Stack Exchange is a good commenting system and then says "but remember: Stack Exchange is not a discussion system.". So then why bring it up? It not being a discussion system implies that perhaps the techniques used there may not actually translate into something that is a discussion system.

In the end, I understand that there are elements of threaded discussions that are frustrating, of course there are, nothing is perfect. But I would argue that flat discussions are, for certain types of conversations (specifically those had on HN and Reddit), far more detrimental. I'd go so far as to say that Reddit would not be even remotely as popular if it had a flat discussion system.

merlincorey 1 minute ago 0 replies      
I'd just like to note that vBulletin, used on on many of the largest web forums on the internet, historically, and presently, has for some time supported a dual flat and threaded view. Most sites will default to the flat, but there is a setting to set it per user to threaded. That's why every post has their own reply link/button - to maintain the threading.
Alex3917 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
If conversations aren't nested, how are you supposed to know what the replies are referencing? There's no effective way to talk to each other and have a real discussion.

All of the 'problems' of nested comments are trivial in comparison to that. There are certainly good use cases for flat comments, and I think Stack Overflow is a good example, but there is a reason why all of the biggest discussion sites use nested comments. There might be more sites with flat comments overall, but that's only because they're much easier to implement.

rcfox 1 hour ago 0 replies      
By the way, if you have trouble finding which comments are new, I highly recommend the HNCommentTracker[0] extension for Chrome. It will tell you which discussions have new comments on the front page, and will highlight new comments on the discussion pages. I couldn't imagine using Hacker News without it! (By the way, I did not create it. I can't give you support for it!)

[0] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hncommenttracker/i...

rcfox 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> Poems about trees are indeed lovely, as Joyce Kilmer promised us, but data of any kind represented as a tree … isn't.

If you don't see tree data structures as "lovely", then I have to wonder if you even understand them. Putting data into trees can make difficult problems easier to solve in an elegant way: searches, file systems, space partitioning, and so on.

> Rigid hierarchy is generally not how the human mind works...

That's why we keep creating ontologies to explain the world? Ask any 10-year-old, and they'll tell you that tigers are cats, which are mammals, which are animals, etc.

pseut 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Since HN is explicitly designed to deter casual visitors [1], it might not be the best example to cite for poor comment design. Threaded's not great, but completely flat comments scale really poorly -- I can't imagine scanning a page with ~100 unthreaded comments, but I do that all the time at HN. A lot of the points seem like they could be improved a lot with a little javascript (ie, nuking unproductive threads), but, as the quotation below indicates, those changes probably aren't going to be made here.

[1]: http://www.paulgraham.com/hackernews.html (4 paragraphs from the end, "But a site aiming at a particular subset of users has to attract just those"and just as importantly, repel everyone else. I've made a conscious effort to do this on HN. The graphic design is as plain as possible, and the site rules discourage dramatic link titles. The goal is that the only thing to interest someone arriving at HN for the first time should be the ideas expressed there."

zanny 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think the better solution is to just hide the "discussion" part from the content by default. If you are in a comment section, you are looking for one of two things - information on the topic (usually restricted to the top 2 levels of a comment thread) or discussion (the deep trees Jeff complains about).

Making that discussion flat doesn't make people want to read it, get involved in it, or understand the exchange. Comments / forum threads are trying to serve two distinct purposes.

My solution would be to have the comment tree hidden by default.(tangentially, I wonder if a system where comments move to the right relative to their time posted, not just in order, since that is why we are moving comments rightward anyway - that way a comment thread would map the post times out rightward. Since replies could only come to already posted content, the flow still moves right, but the active discussions still show themselves off) If people want to see the discussion on top level comments, it should be a very obvious and very apparent mechanism to reveal a discussion tree, but otherwise, let people browse the top level first (with a ranking system, not just by time) and find discussions they are interested in. That is my biggest problem with all the reddit-esque sites where discussions take up tons of my vertical space by default even if I don't actively seek to engage in them.

majormajor 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've mentioned this on here before, but the live-updating approach taken by SBNation sites (I'd guess The Verge, too, but I don't have an account there to know for sure) solves a lot of the issues, including the big ones of "where's the new content?" and "I just want to scroll down" (cause now you're using keyboard shortcuts to navigate to the new stuff).

Since I haven't seen the live-updating-with-keyboard-control threaded model on other sites, and haven't seen anyone else on HN comment on their model, I'm curious if there just isn't much overlap between HN and SBNation"though since the launch of The Verge, I would've expected more HNers to have seen it.

The complaints about stuff getting pinned to the far right are specious; a flat discussion thread is equally prone to getting hijacked over by two people having a fight. And when it happens on a flat discussion thread, it's not sequestered off to the side by itself, it's constantly being reinserted into the main flow where other people are talking too.

petercooper 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've always found unthreaded/single threaded conversations to be better when you want the discussion to remain civil and focused. For example, on MetaFilter or Edward Tufte's board.

I wish/hope someone puts some effort into studying the difference one day though because it might just be confirmation bias on my part.

ksherlock 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks twitter is terrible for conversations? "@somebody @somebody shortened url ..." That does not stand alone. And every flat comment system now includes people using @previous-poster to compensate for a lack of threading, but without the proper context.
spiffytech 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Jeff seems to have had a rather different experience with threaded commenting systems than I have.

  there's always this looming existential crisis of where the heck am I?

Threaded comments aren't some expansive, complex network I have to navigate like a city. I don't find my way to some place, then find my way back. Most of my time in comment systems is spend reading linearly, where the only thing that matters is what I'm reading now. "Where am I?" only matters if you care to answer it relative to the wider context, which I find unnecessary.

  You're talking to everyone

Of course! You're commenting on a public web site! Threaded comments aren't for any semblance of privacy, they're an organizational mechanism. That organization is a key enabler for in-depth discussions- discussing a complex subject in any depth becomes tricky in a flat environment- it's hard to keep up with what topics are even being discussed, and who's quoting whom, for any serious discussion in a flat comment system- much harder than keeping track of stuff in a threaded comment system.

However, threaded comment systems do have their faults, as Jeff points out: keeping abreast of all discussion as it evolves is difficult, and lack of a nesting level cap can make things look awkward (however, I don't see a whole lot of discussions progress to the point that the "far right" problem actually becomes a problem).

Jeff's idea of capping comments at a single reply level is a sensible compromise; it allows a rudimentary sense of organization without introducing most of the problems Jeff criticizes.

purplelobster 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I remember what it used to be like on random forums across the internet, and it wasn't pretty. The fact that discussions on reddit can still be easy enough to follow in spite of the tens of millions of visitors, and thousands of comments speaks more for how good the system actually is. Living before threaded comments like HN and reddit was like living in the stone age. Every system has it's flaws of course, as mentioned in the article.
dllthomas 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Having participated in in-depth discussion on both threaded and flat systems, I can't stress enough how much more comfortable I find threaded fora. It allows multiple digressions without them getting in the way of each other, which can be problematic in some narrow contexts where you need to keep everyone on the same page, but is such a tremendous win when you're exploring ideas where you need to collectively pin down all sorts of pieces of the problem.
akkartik 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Incidentally, here's an alternative UI for HN that lets each comment stand on its own: http://hackerstream.com. It's a hobby project I built with a friend.
Trezoid 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The only time I've ever seen flat comments work is when there is essentially no discussion (stack overflow) or where there is an obvious mechanism to indicate (and link too, ideally) the comment you're replying to.

Threaded comments allow for more in-depth discussion, while making it obvious where the current thread finishes, so that skimming through is possible.

Adding thread collapsing, or have threads auto-collapse at a certain point with a separate page for that thread solves the "super long tree" issue, since the really long comment threads are hidden away if you don't want them, but still there if you want to read them.

asfdfdasfafdsss 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I agree that I don't like trees, but in HN just go to your user in the upper-right, and click on comments. Problem solved! Still a tree, but no more clutter.

Looking at flat comments for an involved discussion is sometimes confusing because you have to scroll around even more to see who is replying to what.

Maybe PG would provide an option in user config to view comments in a list rather than a tree if we asked.

Google Maps becomes the App Store's most popular free app in 7 hours thenextweb.com
381 points by petrel  15 hours ago   275 comments top 33
tharris0101 12 hours ago 8 replies      
Sort of off-topic and I've harped on this before, but when I search "google maps" in the app store, it's the fifth search result!

As a developer in the App Store, I really hope they do something to fix the abysmal searches in it.

bstar77 13 hours ago 10 replies      
Edit: somehow I screwed up my response, should be a response to @kjackson2012.

Apple's main issues are with their location information from TomTom. If apple is able to partner with a company with better data, these types of problems should not be nearly as bad.

Here's where Apple's maps product is better... The maps are vector based so there is not such a huge dependence on a data connection. I live near the pine barrens in NJ and google maps is mostly worthless when I venture into that abyss. Apple maps has worked flawlessly for me there. Locations where data connections are poor, apple maps will probably be a better solution. Plus, Apple maps look nicer, but that is hardly a critical feature.

To say apple should just give up is silly. I've used google navigation since the first day the alpha was leaked. It has only been in the last year that nav has gotten so good (used to have maddening ui problems with the zoom going crazy). Apple's initial maps release is much better and more refined than what google initially release. Fortunately for apple, I think they'll get their data issues mostly fix in 2013 and have a very nice alternative to google maps.

IgorPartola 11 hours ago 5 replies      
How many startups just said "ah fuck it!" now that Google Maps is back on iOS? Back when Apple removed Google maps I thought there would be four stages to this fiasco:

1. Apple Maps are introduced and nobody likes them. Google Maps are nixed and some bullshit reason is given for not letting them back into the ecosystem for a while.

2. A bunch of people see an opportunity to create something that Apple will buy. They drop everything and get busy.

3. 3-6 months later Google Maps are allowed back into the ecosystem. 99% of the newly minted startups go bust.

4. A year later Apple actually makes Apple Maps usable in iOS 7. The rest of the startups go bust.

WayneDB 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope Google waits a few months and then rolls out a premium-purchase maps feature. Then, when Apple demands their 30% and Google refuses, Apple has to pull the app again and frustrate all their users again. Not saying that's what will happen, but I can dream.
kjackson2012 13 hours ago 9 replies      
Frankly, Tim Cook should shut down the entire Apple Maps division. Who in their right mind is going to use Apple Maps at this point?

Try searching "Pier 39 San Francisco". The query can't be any more specific, and it's the most iconic location for tourists, and Apple Maps will bring you to a pretty shady area of town, only a mile or two away from Hunter's Point, one of the more violent areas of SF.

drivebyacct2 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I guess I'm still stuck in the same mentality that I'm surprised at but I'm always surprised to see what gets iOS users excited these days or what problems it has: fundamental search issues the AppStore, the amazement of Google Maps being "fluid" (ironic given the tech powering it [based on koush's speculation]), lusting for the simplicity of the Google theme versus the plasticy-clear-bubbled iOS.

Then again I'm also blown away by the people here who want to:

1. Say that Apple had time left on their contract with Google. And simultaneously say that the solution for Apple Maps is soon and is easily solved with more data partnerships.

2. That Apple "won" here. I'm still at a lost as to how that is. Especially given the lack of an Intent system in iOS, Apple Maps is about to be relegated to a really poor position for Apple, especially given that users = more data = better maps.

These are the things that Android 2.x was criticized for. I put up with such incompleteness because I was getting something open source, powerful and customizable. It was a compromise. I don't think Android users are compromising anymore, despite the constant implication from users here that only poor people buy Android, or that Android is "full of ads", or that Google is losing interest in Android or just the constant implications that Android is still sub-par to iOS. I just don't get it when I read these threads.

seanp2k2 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anyone else notice how Apple copied the look of Google's OG Maps app, and so now Google uses a much different icon to avoid confusion?
hpagey 14 hours ago 12 replies      
Actually I think Apple won here. Google was refusing to release a turn by turn direction update to their apps. By developing an Apple Map App with turn by turn, they kind of forced GooG to provide it on iOS platform. Also, it is very difficult for google to ignore ios users.
walru 13 hours ago 2 replies      
App ranking is also a function of momentum.. while it's great Google Maps has risen so quickly, let's not make this more than what it is.
jgon 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Between this and the gmail release recently I think that some interesting times are ahead for apple. After I told my wife that Google Maps was available in the app store she sent me a text with a screenshot of her phone and the message "I'm pretty much using an Android phone!"

Her mail client is Gmail, she uses Google maps, and she browses with Chrome. If google went all out with a Google Calendar app I bet she'd use their client too.

What does it say for Apple when an iphone user has apps for all of their big use cases provided by a direct competitor?

twakefield 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Still no bike directions. Why is that?
kyriakos 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This simply shows how bad apple's decision was to switch to their own solution before it was ready.
diminish 14 hours ago 0 replies      
One more strong free app in the leaderboard of appstore means, a lot more newer apps will have a harder time to get traction.
gk1 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Just realized: The letter "g" and the placemarker form the word "go."
senthilnayagam 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Apple did not put beta on its app, and it eventually apologised and also fired a VP who was not willing to sign the apology .

google launches a map with beta warning and everybody going gaga on it, yeah their data set is better.

"Google Maps Navigation is in beta. Use caution.

Please keep your eyes on the road and obey applicable laws. Do not manipulate this application while in motion. Directions may be inaccurate, incomplete, dangerous, or prohibited.

Traffic data is not real-time, and location accuracy cannot be guaranteed"

I would love Apple to build self driving cars and display projecting to retina and bring it to market, instead of just announcing them like what google does

btucker 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much impact this will have on Embark.
crudolph 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
HN == Apple Bitch Fest; 98% pure negativity; Sigh.
takeda64 12 hours ago 3 replies      
How come Apple allowed this app? Isn't it duplicate functionality of the iPhone? I guess everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others...
netcan 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Could there have been a (pro android) business case for not releasing this app?

Edit: accidentally wrote 'pr android.'

BornInTheUSSR 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Apple Maps: Better Product Design
Google Maps: Better Data

I'm especially missing dropping pins to share location and search bar tucked up at the top in Google Maps, but Apple's lack of integrated transit directions and putting me in random locations is a no go for city life.


isabre 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Apple maps is great if you want to drive yourself into the ocean.
topbanana 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This comes as no surprise, least of all Apple, who have been perfectly forthcoming in their acknowledgement of the flaws in Apple Maps.
wahsd 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll admit it, I am one of the 4-star raters. I took it down a notch for not at least including a "zoom out" button. I can double-tap to zoom, but I sure as hell can't pinch to zoom out. I think that UI flaw is one of the most ignored in all that exist in iOS.
egypturnash 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh hell yeah, I just ditched my old Android for an iPhone and the lack of bus routes on its maps app was one of the major things I was missing. I was sort of getting along with HopStop but it was an awkward multi-step kind of thing. DOWNLOADING NOW.
mrilhan 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Only if there was a way to set Google Maps as the default map/address-finding app. Anyone know how to accomplish this?

Right now, touching any addresses you have saved under a contact will open up Apple's Maps app.

vinayan3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much data the iOS app uses for it's vector based tiles compared with the Google maps one? Google Maps does seem a lot quicker than before.
grantph 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Google releases maps and their evil behavior is quietly swept under the rug... brilliant timing!


trendnet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Now Apple has major map services from all mobile platforms with a full-featured Google solution. Plus they have an in-house solution that will become better over time. Removing an image-based Google Maps app developed by Apple from iOS was a great decision.
so898 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just another proving of products from FAMOUS COMPANY will hit the top of the App store with no reason.
Maybe it is the time for iOS Map Developers to quit the business.
So, what will be the next?
benlower 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Nokia Maps give one the ability to download maps locally to the phone. Do either Google Maps or iOS Maps have that feature?
vtbose 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This probably removes the last barrier to IOS 6 adoption, for many.
bmmayer1 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe Google should pivot and try this whole maps thing out.
GotAnyMegadeth 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> iPhone and iPod touch owners download Google's new Maps title to complement or even replace Apple's own

Google for the directions, Apple for the lulz

Moving Away From Noir raynes.me
55 points by oskarth  5 hours ago   12 comments top 8
dizzystar 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a bittersweet day for me. I have two sites running on Clojure + Noir. I just moved my development to Linux so I can get Leiningen 2 and ClojureScript running with zero fuss.

All the signs were there: The mumbling abound about Noir being "dead;" Grainger doing Light Table; no word about updates.

I agree that Clojure is not a good language for using frameworks, and the community, I think, has done an excellent job of standing behind this philosophy, as I am sure Hickey likes it. Noir, at least for me, was the perfect balance of getting something put together for a new person, as it didn't enforce anything seemingly unnatural or make any demands on what to use or how to use it. In simple terms, it gave me a lot of freedom to explore without hanging a noose around my head.

I never built a website before the two I wrote in Noir, but Noir, or rather, Lisp, let me see the possibilities of all the power that was available without ever having to search. I had an amazing experience, and probably one of the hurdles I'll always look back at and thing that was a step that made me a better programmer. I showed off this really cool thing I figured out and showed it off to people, and they said: "Yeah, programmic routing is really cool." I was like "routing?" Then I spent the rest of the night on the web reading about it.

I love Hiccup. Generating hundreds of lines of HTML from vapor is an amazing feeling. I love bcrypt. I don't know how to hash my data, but at least I know that Noir picked the best damn option. Every time I opened my code, I always felt that Clojure and Noir had the answer and it never let me down.

But here, the maintainers are saying that even Noir was too much framework for Clojure, and that Noir complected, and that to really get the full power of Clojure, it's time to let go. It's a scary thought, to leave Noir behind and venture off into my own without the feeding bottle with the idea that Noir was good enough, but oh how much have I learned, and how much more can I learn?

Thank you Chris and Raynes! I'm a better programmer because of you guys, and I am going to better yet thanks to both of you.

Does this mean Korma is heading off into oblivion as well?

minikomi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Raynes, I see this as a good move - the modular library style fits Clojure well. I hope it can be a drive to get some solid documentation behind tying the various pieces together.

I recently had a delve into Compojure / Ring and found the documentation for getting started wonderful.. but the "next step" guidance a little thin. There are a lot of blog posts out there from 2010 but not a lot of recent examples.

I realize the google groups is quite active, but it's quite time consuming (and daunting) to try and find the "right way" in a scattered collection of gists and example projects. There are a lot of repeated questions - eg. How do I get sessions working? - which could use a central resource which moves with the code base.

Rayne 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you looked at the post before 6:10PM CST, please look once more for a quote from Chris Granger and a link to the commits where I moved refheap to Compojure for reference when doing the same thing on your own.
nelsonweiss 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I could never get started with Noir. I know that a lot of people use it, but it was never a good fit for me and I ended up using Compojure + libraries.

That said, I have been using bits and pieces of code from Noir - like the jcrypt bits - for a good while longer than lib-noir has existed, and Noir provided a wonderful resource for learning how certain types of things could be done so I'm sad to see it go.

Finally, I think the Clojure ecosystem really does need something else web framework-wise. I know a lot of people talk about how Clojure is a language of libraries and micro-libraries, and not a language of frameworks, but I think frameworks would go a long way towards speeding up (and making more pleasant) repetitive projects like web design. Re-gluing libraries together for every project gets tiring, and I think frameworks would help with this.

There was a talk I watched a while back about selling Clojure to enterprise (Neal Ford, maybe?) and one of the points was that appealing to the people who are consumed with getting stuff done (ie Delphi and Rails types) is a good way to spread a language because those people tend to leave a trail of projects behind them.

I don't think that Clojure has any frameworks that would appeal to these types of people (others might disagree). I'm not saying that Clojure's libraries are bad (many are quite good), just that they're not designed to get a project up and running as soon as possible. "Up and running fast" is a good option to have.

MatthewPhillips 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a legacy app that I wrote using Noir. It was awesome at first, but after a while it felt like it was constraining me. Clojure isn't really a language for frameworks. Ring + Compojure (+ perhaps lib-noir, haven't tried it) is all you really need.
codewright 5 hours ago 1 reply      
For people like me who find enlive/hiccup/stencil (template libraries) inappropriate for web development that involves more than one person I would beseech them to take notice of:


That's all I have to say about Clojure web dev for now. It's good to know that people are shifting to a more modular approach now.

michaelsbradley 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I won't bother to repeat here the entire comment I left on the blog post, but I would be interested to know if others in the HN crowd have been working with the liberator[1] library (i.e. as a way to augment ring/compojure) and to hear about their experiences with it.

I've found liberator quite helpful, and have been hoping to see it get a bit more exposure and wider involvement from the Clojure community.

[1] https://github.com/clojure-liberator/liberator

alexakarpov 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thanks, this was actually very useful to know! I just started with Clojure, got excited and moved on to the web development with noir, literally last week. So I suppose it's a good thing it happened now, before I spend a lot of time on it... I guess I need to move on to Compojure and Ring, by the looks of it.
Flutter (YCW12) Gesture App featured as one of the Best Apps of 2012 by Apple ycombinator.posterous.com
20 points by vgulshan  2 hours ago   9 comments top 2
SeanA208 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I enjoy the idea of Flutter and the technology it demonstrates is quite impressive. I will say, however, it just doesn't seem like something that I could actually use on a day-to-day basis as it's faster and better on the battery to just press the play/pause or next/previous buttons on the keyboard (provided you have them). In fact, when I downloaded it, the only times I turned it on were to show my friends for novelty's sake.
jpb0104 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Webcam on all the time concerning to you too? Privacy info: https://flutterapp.com/privacy/
Escher.py - Key/value db with its data github.com
38 points by jorde  4 hours ago   2 comments top 2
loeg 1 hour ago 0 replies      

  "data = " + str(data),

should probably be

  "data = " + repr(data),

cardamomo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
US, UK and Canada refuse to sign UN's Internet treaty bbc.co.uk
11 points by yuxt  2 hours ago   1 comment top
jayfuerstenberg 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Lately Harper's Canada has been heading down the wrong road when it comes to progress and justice.

I am proud at least that it didn't participate in this ITU farce.

Gigabit Seattle gigabitseattle.com
39 points by aaronbrethorst  5 hours ago   2 comments top 2
ghshephard 4 hours ago 0 replies      
31reasons 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I can only dream of it in Los Angeles. Perhaps 2020.
New Homepage github.com
100 points by janerik  10 hours ago   65 comments top 19
marknutter 8 hours ago 5 replies      
There's a fine line you can cross with minimalist design where it suddenly feels cold, generic, and frail. And I believe Github has crossed this line with this new homepage. I also echo some other's lamentations that Octocat is gone. It's just not.. fun.
peterjmag 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I've been finding Proxima Nova[1] everywhere this year. I'm not complaining though"I think it's a beautiful, highly readable typeface.

[1] https://typekit.com/fonts/proxima-nova

46Bit 9 hours ago 3 replies      
GitHub is awesome, but why so many upvotes for a homepage redesign?

EDIT: Why so many upvotes for a comment about upvotes?

franze 9 hours ago 3 replies      
i think it's stupid ... putting the apple, windows, android logo on the frontpage, getting rid of their own playful brand element(octocat) completely. oh, and on top of that adding two meaningles illustrations that can only be seen as an insult to any thinking developer.

as a person who is kinda proud of having octocat as one of two stickers on my mac i have to say: it sucks and i cant identify with it.

tl;dr: get rid of the apple/mac/android logos, bring octocat back.

bretthellman 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I love GitHub but the new homepage makes GitHub feel like a small, seed funded startup & not a trusted company.
yuvadam 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool. Too bad I've seen the Github [1] homepage only once, and will never have see it again.

[1] - or any other authenticated service for that matter.

BasDirks 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It still has no (prominent) search box on the homepage. Do I need to explain how dumb this is?
subb 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I find the lack of octocat disturbing.
eddieroger 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I dig it. Looks nice and makes me want to use the service, but I can't get past the cost of the private repos. The unlimited, free, private repos are what keep me at BitBucket.
agentgt 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish they would make their stuff look better on mobile.

I guess I'm the only sick person who looks at code while in my bed on my iPhone. I really should read a book instead.

silverbax88 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My first reaction was that it looks like the old BitBucket page. A lot.
dysoco 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I really dislike the new design.
Also, it's just me or the fonts are horribly cluttered? I'm guessing it's my fault and I need some font installed or something, because it's really awful.
cgislason 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wanted to compare the old and new pages, but noticed that their robots.txt disallowed the wayback machine from caching it.

Also, the Octocat was not on the page that Google cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:SZgkdCZ...

heeton 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My favourite part? The class names on some of the elements.

".jumbotron .heading"

I should name things like that more :)

JeremyMorgan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this design, it's clean, minimal and yet still professional. It's a reflection of the way the web has been (thankfully) moving the last few years.
cmelbye 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, that old homepage was an abomination.
ippa 7 hours ago 0 replies      
When I needed to get my rails-update-fix I usually checked from my ipad where I haven't logged in to my github account.. then I used the railslink on top. Now it's gone :/ First world probblem :P.

I think the new one is too clean/generic.

joey_muller 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like a Google creation. Nothing wrong with that. I would expect Google to know a thing or two about funnels.

Best of all is the big button -- I know what to do!

devsatish 7 hours ago 0 replies      
the star wars themed octocat is still on their 404 page.
example: https://github.com/loginzzz
Show HN: roots - a toolkit for advanced front-end dev roots.cx
157 points by jenius  12 hours ago   99 comments top 24
jameswyse 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
This looks interesting, I've been doing a lot similar work as I'm currently building an open source CMS for nodejs. It's a lot more complex than Roots however the goal of the project is to make it easy for developers to build websites and applications. It'll come with a full featured and extendable admin control panel and built in support for all the common stuff like authentication, user Management, content management, blog posts, asset publishing, etc.

The nodejs side handles the API which automatically generates REST routes for your resources, and you have the ability to write custom API endpoints as well.

The website and admin panel are automatically built using Grunt and require.js and depend only on the API so you're free to host your website on S3 or another server entirely. The client-side website will call the API for content, authentication, etc. The admin panel is written in AngularJS (So far it's incredibly responsive and feels almost native!) and it's up to the user what to use for the main website.

One nice thing is during development it'll watch your files for changes, rebuild the site on the fly and update the client view using socket.io. No more constantly refreshing the page after every change! In production mode everything is bundled and minified using r.js.

If this sounds interesting to you guys then I should have something to show HN in the next few weeks :)

jenius 12 hours ago 6 replies      
Hey guys - project creator here. Would love to get any and all feedback - this project has been my passion for over a year and I'm super excited to finally release it!

Also, this website is open source in addition to the project. It's here on github: https://github.com/jenius/roots.cx

Jgrubb 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I very much appreciated the run-this-remote-file | sh installer method before I learned what I was actually opening myself up to. As handy as it is, this practice really should be discouraged, imho.
dreamdu5t 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As a developer, I don't quite get who this is for. I know these technologies and how to use them and install them. Installing node.js and stuff is also pretty much a couple of one liners.

I guess I don't see why others find much pain in installing node or rails... I already have Ruby/Node and other stuff installed and each new project I create differs in file structures and stuff like that based on the needs of the project. Different projects require different stacks.

mikegirouard 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks fun. Thanks for building a tool like this.

One suggestion: After I looked over the installer script, I tried running this on my Arch machine and it didn't recognize `open`.

Depending on the platform, you may want to check for `xdg-open` as well.

KaoruAoiShiho 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Make some simple HTML components, break out the compiled HTML and CSS for non-developers, and you've got yourself a bootstrap alternative. Please, make it happen.
bretthopper 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Not sure if you're aware, but there's a popular WordPress theme with the name Roots:

* https://github.com/retlehs/roots

* http://www.rootstheme.com/

thedjpetersen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool project - one of the major pain points with Yeoman was trying to get templating working. Cool to see a project which takes this approach from the beginning.
andreasklinger 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Quick feedback. There is no example code nowhere on the main website. Videos are great but i usually just scan for code.

Hope that helps.

jongold 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Are people using this/Brunch/Yeoman inside Rails apps? I can't work out the usecase - or do you use this in conjunction with a separate app generating your API?

Sidenote: the design is gorgeous.

jaredcwhite 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice job on the site design there. Feels clean, professional. I'm interested in learning more about the tools...will bookmark.
desireco42 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is my feedback. I really like what you did, as you can see from other comments, there are already a lot of alternatives.

I would prefer sass and haml honestly. Other then that, I love how you make those mixins that seem very useful and I can see myself using it.

Videos are very good and show what are main features.

adefa 4 hours ago 0 replies      
On your roots/css library page: http://roots.cx/css/

The scrollspy-esque navigation bar on the left never highlights the animation link, whether you click it or scroll all the way down.

I'm using: Chrome 23.0.1271.95 on OSX 10.8.2.

cmwelsh 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems comparable to Fire.app (http://fireapp.handlino.com/, F/LOSS, my favorite) or CodeKit. I noticed that you are specifically pimping out Stylus rather than Sass/Compass, but it doesn't seem to be a problem to get Compass working if you copy the library in yourself.
carlsednaoui 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome job! Loving the CSS Library section - http://roots.cx/css/
insraq 12 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the difference between this and Yeoman ? (http://yeoman.io/
sctechie 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks great! I've been using yeoman for a while now and this looks like a fantastic replacement / alternative. Are you looking for contributions or just releasing this for people to use?
dwerthen 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks very nice! Will try it out for sure. Quick question, is there a option to use plain js instead of CoffeeScript?
backwardm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Just watched your getting started video and am really excited to try it out. Seems super clean and easy to get things done with. Installing now.
slajax 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great job OP. Would love to see something that merges aspects from this and Yeoman. I feel like (haven't officially tried either TBH) they focus on slightly different aspects and would really cover full stack very very well.
Again, Great job!
niels_bom 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Typo in one of the first sentences: "pratices".

Looks pretty good for the rest btw.

pruett 12 hours ago 0 replies      
well done, nice work...this looks like an awesome tool for building static sites
combataircraft 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Why RequireJS, not OneJS?
mbarvian 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like it will definitely come in handy for prototypes, great job.

P.S. It seems the link to the SASS plugin on your site is broken.

Heyzap [YC09] adds achievements to its mobile gaming platform venturebeat.com
26 points by immad  4 hours ago   2 comments top
2pasc 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I have always been curious with how well Heyzap was atually doing. Their founders are really smart, they have great VCs and they tend to be super influential on Angel List, and yet the data I could find on Heyzap are not as amazing as I would have thought (10K DAU on Facebook, 200K downloads on iOS, etc...). Maybe they are actually strong on Android or I am not knowledgeable enough about mobile games to understand how well they are doing...
Windows 8 apps hackable and crackable, just like iOS and Android arstechnica.com
3 points by dsr12  15 minutes ago   4 comments top 2
DigitalSea 14 minutes ago 2 replies      
Nothing is uncrackable. Considering Microsoft's DRM for Windows has constantly been hacked since Windows XP before the final consumer public release, it's no surprise Windows 8 apps can be hacked as well. Why do companies even bother in the end anything can be bypassed, save yourself the cash and just give it up Microsoft and every other software company.
vultatio 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Oh my god, this is shocking news! Shocking I tell you!
UChicago receives package for Indiana Jones uchicagoadmissions.tumblr.com
182 points by CesareBorgia  12 hours ago   63 comments top 15
Jun8 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Two small details that makes this truly fantastic: That it was addressed to the actual building (Rosenwald Hall) that Indiana would have worked (a lesser fanboy would have addressed it to the Oriental Museum) and that it has no ZIP code, since those would not be in use at that time (adopted starting from 1963).


gecko 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, the author of this package was unaware that Dr. Jones was denied tenure, and is no longer on faculty.


lazerwalker 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like to think this is the start of a particularly awesome admissions application.
jmharvey 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I sometimes wonder how effective stunts like this are.

About 10 years ago, I had a job opening the mail in an MBA admissions office. Most of the application was required to be filed online; the only exceptions were a transcript and two letters of reference. My job was to open the mail, file the allowable papers, and throw out everything else.

Easily 80% of the mail that came through the door went into the trash. People submitted all kinds of things, from hard copies of their entire application to photographs to fancy art portfolios. The first day was heartbreaking as I felt like I was throwing away people's life's work, but when I asked my boss for advice, she said it was a conscious decision on the part of the admissions committee: they didn't want to unfairly disadvantage people who followed their instructions.

After a while, this system made sense. More people tried stunts to bypass the regular admissions process than there were slots in the admitted class. Submitting banned supplemental material was less an indicator that someone was a creative thinker than that they'd read a book that said admissions stunts work.

ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is fun, I wish the notebook had a hand drawn picture of a Stargate in it :-) (I know I know, don't cross your franchises, always thought it would be an interesting in an Aliens Vs Predators sort of way to squeeze out another movie).

That this has happened now though, at a time when my college age daughter is being deluged with colleges trying to get her attention, suggests to me an attempt at a viral campaign by the admissions department to raise UChicago on the radar of prospective students.

kqr2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic...however, the University of Chicago is also known for its quirky Scav Hunt (or Scavenger Hunt). So an Indiana Jones package is not altogether out of place.


  On what other campus could students be summoned to 
assemble (in various iterations) a live elephant, a
nuclear breeder reactor, a life-sized battleship, a bust
of Abraham Lincoln made out of pennies, a book printed in
the American colonies before 1776, and the official
exorcist of the Archdiocese of Chicago?


There was even a documentary on it:


a1k0n 10 hours ago 1 reply      
They went to all that trouble, and spelled Illinois wrong on the address label?
moskie 11 hours ago 1 reply      
My first instinct was that this is the start of a viral game for a new Indiana Jones movie.
arscan 10 hours ago 1 reply      
There are some websites out there that detail exactly how to make replica grail diaries. I think that answers the "How" question. Why they would do this though? I have no idea ;-)
swohns 12 hours ago 1 reply      
When people ask why I chose UofC, I tell them it's because Indiana Jones went there.
timdiggerm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It belongs in a museum!

I'm not kidding. Or at least, mostly. They should put it on display.

draq 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, nice calligraphy, I think its written using a soft nib pen. Also: Who is the "Guardian of the Ark"?
kaonashi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
They should have mailed it to the Marx brothers.

…I'll see myself out.

mathattack 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to find out if this was part of an application, or some other prank.
mintplant 8 hours ago 1 reply      
So, the beginnings of an Alternate Reality Game, perhaps?
Inside NASA's Mysterious Rubber Room scriptunasimages.wordpress.com
132 points by kghose  12 hours ago   39 comments top 11
seanp2k2 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
[ this was meant as a response to people calling out the image looking weird ]

EXIF of http://scriptunasimages.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/wscriptu... :

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JagMicker 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Very cool!

And, if you like this, you'd probably also enjoy learning about the Plutonium Pit storage areas at the Pantex plant:




shabble 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is the end part of the "Emergency Egress System" which included a slide-wire basket from the top of the vehicle support structure/gantry.

Some of the images at http://history.nasa.gov/ap10fj/as10-image-library.htm do look a lot like the arched solid concrete room entrances, and there are a few of the wire system as well.

I recall (on HN I think) a while back there was an article about the slide part of the system and the crazy specifications required to attain some level of plausible survivability.

Edit: some more images at http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum40/HTML/000164.html including the armoured personnel carrier as a last hope contingency.

Edit 2: Found it! http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/american_studies/how_t...

guyzero 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's still not clear to me at all why the first room is rubberized. There's an escape slide, a rubber room and the actual chamber that's blast-proof. Why does the middle room need to be rubberized?
scott_usa 10 hours ago 1 reply      
2min youtube film from Saturn V days -reporter takes the slide.


finnw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
> An exploding Saturn V was calculated to have the power of a small nuclear bomb

So all you need is a lead-lined refrigerator

shawn-butler 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much of this was designed not so much to ensure the safety of the astronauts and ground crew but rather to ease the mind of the people who had to make the decision to put them at risk that they at least tried to do something?

30 seconds down a chute seems like well, not a realistic survival scenario in the case of catastrophic explosion on the pad.

hymloth 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Some photos remind me of the MYST series..
mdanger 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Rubber Room", for me, at least, conjures up a whole different set of images:


Aardwolf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The pictures remind me of the Area 51 levels of Tombraider III.
jstanley 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm not sure if it's the camera or the lighting, but these images all look suspiciously raytraced to me.
Show HN: I send out a weekly CS topic overview and code interview question codingforinterviews.com
94 points by bcjordan  11 hours ago   34 comments top 22
robomartin 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I hate code-writing puzzles during interviews. I don't use them at all. Why? Precisely because of methods such as this one where someone might memorize or learn a bunch of patterns to common puzzles going around. They come in and ace the interview test. Does it really tell you anything about the person other than they can train themselves like an intelligent monkey to produce the correct output given an input?

My preference, by far, is to spend time discussing ideas and approaches to solving problems. I don't want to see code. I want to see into his/her brain. How do you think? How do you slice and dice a problem to try to get to core? How good are you at intuitively choosing a good data representation? Do you bring-up alternative approaches to optimize for size vs. raw speed or other parameters? What questions do you ask?

Anyhow, whether the person can actually write two lines of code or not can be ascertained by looking at prior work (if available). The most interesting aspects of a programmer --the real reasons you might not want to let him(her) get away-- have nothing whatsoever to do with how quickly they can write a bunch of loops or if they have memorized five sorting algorithms. Nah, the real value is in how they think. That's what you want to hire them for.

EDIT: Some of the best, most creative and versatile programmers I have known could not write code without a set of reference books next to them. Why? Because they don't have encyclopedic knowledge of the various languages they might use. They'd excel at dissecting data to reveal structure and representation and then choosing a good approach to solve the problem but more often than not had to have a library of various CS and language books around them to support their work. My point is that these people would have failed interview puzzles yet they contributed to and sometimes single-handedly drove projects that generated millions of dollars for the companies that employed them.

barrkel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You know something that's easy to unsubscribe from? RSS.
ppierald 8 hours ago 1 reply      
No Terms of Service or Privacy Policy. I can imagine having a list of email addresses with people interested in getting coding interviews could be interesting to the right people with enough money.
bcjordan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If the site or signup form fail, I will also merge signups from this Google form: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHhFNUV...
bcjordan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm also looking for guest posters with real interview questions from their company, or anyone who would like to guest post a CS topic overview. I can be reached at my username at gmail.
plaguuuuuu 3 hours ago 0 replies      
So.. you basically created a weekly blog consisting of interviewy programming puzzles and the only way I can read it is via email...
Permit 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I signed up and this seems pretty cool. FYI: "Mediocre programmer?" is too long for its container and defaults to "Mediocre programm...".

I'm not sure if it's my screen or fonts or something, but I thought you might like to know.

Zaheer 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I created something similar a few months ago to send out a interview question every other day. The time constraints of maintaining it got to me though (I'm a university student myself) and I recently stopped sending out question of the day. I have plans to revive it later but for right now its in 'hiatus' mode so to speak.

Check it out at: www.InterTechTion.com

Sean-Der 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome idea bcjordan! I signed up, I am really excited to get the first email. If this stays CS only, and avoids the pitfalls of 'the industry' this might quickly become my favorite thing of the week :D

Best of luck with it!

Also, any plans to monetize it? What are your long terms with the project, hopefully it will be something to keep you interested for a long time.

B-Con 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The confirmation e-mail doesn't have any link back to the website. Hopefully your weekly messages do, it's where most of us will look for a link if we want to share it with others.
zackzackzack 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The signup flow was really well done. A minor nitpick: put the social buttons at the bottom of the model after the (see sample -> signup -> congrats) process.

I'm excited to get these emails!

nirvanatikku 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Clevverrr..! Having gone through this whole process recently, I can appreciate how this would have come in handy.

FYI: I had used http://www.careercup.com/ extensively.

adolph 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Including the .vcf in the confirmation email is much smoother than those "add us to your contacts" messages. Very nice touch.
pendext 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I signed up after reading about this on Reddit. As someone who is looking for a first development job (graduating in May), this is a great resource.
mrbgty 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is that leaf icon on the sign up button some sort of standard icon now for sign ups? I'm not sure I understand it.
piqufoh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds great! Some thoughts:
Your email field doesn't support tags http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_address#Address_tags and
When entering an address with tags it fails with no error.
pfraze 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to find this -- not interviewing right now, but always keeping up on my skillset.
ktran 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Ahh, after I signed up for PyCoder (curtailed Python newsletter every Friday), I thought of doing something similar but tailoring to college students. You beat me to it! Awesome project bcjordan :)
josh_blum 8 hours ago 0 replies      
seems like a very cool idea! i'm exciting to use it and see where it goes.

You do have some bugs to work out though, the UI isn't very consistent throughout the site and somehow I got redirected to here: http://interviewpractice.herokuapp.com/ and now can't see anything. I also had trouble the signup process and had to reset my password to join.

brainstew 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the closed area already working? I tried resetting my password and logging in, and got "Invalid email or password."..
zallarak 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! Thanks for putting it together.
jmcgough 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I like it! The "see a sample" modal looks really cluttered, though.
Perfect Audience (YC S11) outperforms Adroll in Retargeting Test pearanalytics.com
43 points by brandnewlow  6 hours ago   8 comments top 4
jamiequint 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is so specious. I am actually shocked that something this bad would come out of a company that purports to understand internet marketing and analytics.

First, its comparing two completely different types of retargeting. It compares one campaign where Facebook retargeting makes up 3/4 of the impressions to one that is just general retargeting on the ad exchanges. These perform completely differently.

Second, the timeframes are different. This makes a big difference especially if they have been running the same ads over a long period of time as ads (especially retargeted ads) tend to get ignored after a while so the falloff in performance can be quite rapid.

Third, comparing post-click conversion across retargeting partners doesn't really make much sense. You're targeting the audience to begin with, you should probably care mostly what percentage of your audience they are reaching and what the CPM is more than the CPA. Unless these guys are doing fancy stuff (e.g. more aggressively retargeting people who have clicked but then did not convert) it actually does not make any sense that CPA would be any different at scale.

Fourth, if you're running two different retargeting platforms on the same audience its possible that you're bidding up your own retargeting cost as the two platforms are bidding against each other. e.g. this shows a CTR of around 0.13% which is actually pretty good for FB retargeting, but they're paying ~$1 CPC which is really bad for FB retargeting.

tpiddy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I work for AdRoll. I left a comment on this blog post but it hasn't been approved yet.

We'd really appreciate the opportunity to do a real comparison. In this post, they are comparing a campaign without Facebook Exchange (AdRoll) to a campaign with Facebook Exchange access and using two different definitions for conversions.

It's a little odd that FBX wasn't included with the AdRoll campaign since unlike PerfectAudience, AdRoll is actually is one of few PMDs that have a seat on FBX ( http://www.facebook-pmdcenter.com/fbx ) and has the most clients running FBX campaigns of any FBX PMD.

PerfectAudience's CPCs and CPMs are likely lower because Facebook retargeting is cheaper in this regard, and if they ran an AdRoll FBX would likely be comparable.

Also looking at your charts, they never setup conversion tracking in AdRoll. Without this they are comparing (PerfectAudience) view through conversion CPA to last touch Google analytics click through conversion CPA. To analytics and online marketing expert, it should be obvious this is not a fair comparison.

A lot of the UI callouts are valid and AdRoll is working on new features and launching a new dashboard very shortly. If anyone wants to setup a real test and do real analysis of performance, we'd be happy to help.


savories 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They got 18% conversion on their clicks from Perfect Audience? Seems dubious.

With such a small sample of data 109 sessions vs 68 sessions... I wouldn't call this a clear winner.

This could actually just be a case of misattribution of sales.

For example, if the customer clicks on a Perfect Audience ad, they could be tagging that customer as "theirs" for the next 30 days, or forever. So imagine someone clicks on this ad, browses the site again, and leaves. Then they come back 5 days later of their own accord and make a purchase. Perfect Audience may be (incorrectly) attributing that sale as their own.

I'd like to see the Ecommerce breakdown that GA is reporting. (this data: http://www.pearanalytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012...)

ryankelly 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Tom, Ryan from Pear here. AdRoll did not have the Facebook Exchange option when it was available, and we saw Perfect Audience had it first. Also, I do have the same conversion goals set up in AdRoll as I do in PA. (/checkout_thankyou.asp), and they are not firing properly, even though in Analytics I do see some conversions.

I'm happy to devise a better experiment with you and run our next customer on both platforms with the exact same criteria. Email me if you're interested ryan at pearanalytics dot com.

Mixpanel Launches A Site For Analytics Education techcrunch.com
43 points by notknifescience  7 hours ago   10 comments top 7
notknifescience 7 hours ago 0 replies      
By the way, the link to the site is a bit buried in the Techcrunch article, so here it is:


pkaler 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I get a blank page for https://mixpanel.com/education/ in latest Safari on latest Mountain Lion.

Hopefully, someone from Mixpanel is here and can fix that. (Working for me in Chrome.)

The Issues panel says, "Type Issue: 'undefined' is not an object (evaluating 'mp.office_hours.bootstrap')"

acgourley 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is excellent, gold star for whomever thought it up.
aviswanathan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Mixpanel in general seems like a really cool company not only to do business with but to work for. I haven't gone into the meat of the product, but from the descriptions on the site and a couple of demos I've seen, it seems pretty powerful and well-designed. However, I have been told that it is a bit pricy in general. Does anyone have any insights on how Mixpanel fares against some others in this space (KISSMetrics, etc.)?
powertower 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Video does not play in IE9 (Vista SP2).

And playback is kind of buggy at first in Chrome, though that could be a youtube issue.

omarchowdhury 4 hours ago 0 replies      
None of the videos are playing on Windows 7 Enterprise with Firefox, fresh install.
mylittlepony 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The video does not play in my Firefox.
Fab's Second Pivot betashop.com
38 points by taylorbuley  6 hours ago   30 comments top 10
untog 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Presumably their second pivot involved buying an e-mail list from someone, or reactivating deactivated accounts. I started receiving newsletters from them (Ashton Kutcher's favourite gifts? Well, if I wasn't already going to unsubscribe...) on the 11th, and again yesterday- the last e-mail I received from them before then was in September '11.

Unsubscribed again- hopefully this time it's permanent. It appears I am not alone, either:


ghc 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel like they don't know what pivoting means. The first pivot doesn't sound like a pivot; they built a new business with the same venture money. The second pivot isn't a pivot either. I think reasonable people would call that "growth and expansion."

Pivoting is supposed to mean that you changed strategic direction based on validated learning. Twitter and Instagram started as pivots. This sounds nothing like that.

gilrain 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They're going to reveal their pivot in 2013. No need for anyone else to waste time reading to the bottom to find that out, like I did.
citricsquid 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the difference between pivoting and evolving? Does it have to do with the goals of the company changing, or something else?
arbuge 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what they're doing about patent trolls and what their lawsuit/settlement stats are. I'm sure they're getting plenty of them nipping at their heels. Maybe they agreed to sign non-disclosures or something.

[I have patent trolls on the brain after reading various HN articles on the topic of late...]

ew 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey @betashop, would love to know some of the numbers on burn when you launched. Eg. how much marketing spend occurred to get that $10m in sales your first year? Also lines like 25% higher gross margins doesn't really indicate if that means it's making you money or not.

I'd be grateful if you could let us know some more info. Thanks!

whalesalad 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A ninety day pivot exercise followed by that kind of success and growth is extremely motivating. Glad to see this on the homepage!
betashop 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Hi. @betashop here, CEO of Fab. Happy to answer any/all questions.

With regards to the "was it a pivot" comments below.

Fab was first fabulis, for 13 months. We built a ton of product and a small but loyal following. We then shut it down to pursue our passion. That's a pivot.

Regarding Fab's 2nd pivot in 2012, we pivoted our business from a drop-ship model to an inventory model. That's quite a pivot.

therandomguy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We just call it introducing new product lines and/or expanding business.
proee 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Why did Fab succeed? Why would someone shop here instead of say Amazon?

I don't understand the reason for the huge growth and expansion.

What problem are they solving that is creating such huge growth?

Very Impressive, but I don't understand WHY they are successful.

Ads may come to Instagram slate.com
66 points by jalanco  9 hours ago   46 comments top 12
jemka 8 hours ago 3 replies      
1. Facebook is a for profit company.

2. Facebook probably wants to seek a direct monetary ROI on Instagram.

3. Facebook may or may not have figured out that strategy. Either way, not revealing those details is an indication of nothing beyond standard business practice.

4. Some users don't like ads, which is evident by the popularity of ad blocking tools.

5. Some users don't mind ads, some even click on them, which is evident by the revenue ads generate.

What part of this article brings anything new to the table that we haven't known for months/years?

juiceandjuice 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I like how they used twitter to complain about a social media application having ads.
kyllo 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Kind of a condescending article. Really, Instagram pulled an enormous bait-and-switch. Create a great application, give it away for free until you've built up a huge base of users, then sell the application and its user base to another company and let them figure out how to actually make money off it.

Understandably users are going to be upset because they're being asked to either pay for or see ads with something that they used to get for free and ad-free. People will always be upset when you take something away, even if you gave it to them for free.

quarterto 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Either: Facebook have no imagination.
Or: Slate (and the internet) has the wrong end of the stick.

Scenario the first.

So FB dropped a cool billion on a photo-sharing social network and app with a sizeable, vehemently dedicated and pretty damn vocal userbase. Now they want to make money out of it. Fine.

"So guys, Instagram monetization. Hit me."

I (and I'm sure a large majority of Instagram users) am pretty much instantly put off by ads. Especially in-app or in-feed apps. Any ad space sold on my screen is pretty much money wasted.

Scenario the second.

There have to be other ways to make money from Instagram that make one iota of sense given the community and demographic. Premium filters maybe? I'm just sayin'.

runT1ME 7 hours ago 0 replies      
They don't really need 'ads', just corporate accounts, right?

When someone creates an account they could immediately be following a Coca Cola, BMW and Apple instagram account.

They could even make it a requirement to follow a small number of brands.

I for one wouldn't be too pissed if an occasional cool picture of an apple store or BMW came up in my feed...

debacle 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Headline in a year: "Instagram Owners Appalled To Learn That Users Don't Like Ads"

The fact of the matter is that, as long as the VC treadmill keeps moving, there will be start-ups earlier in the cycle willing to take the place of start-ups like Instagram and Facebook (which are trying to find a way towards profitability).

zissou 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I expected to see (theonion.com) at the end of this title after reading it.
404error 8 hours ago 3 replies      
They should partner with http://printstagr.am/ and make money off their users.
larrydavid 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Articles that cherry pick comments from Twitter and then announce it as some sweeping generalization need to stop. The evidence for the headline is based on 4 screenshots of some random tweets.

It happened recently with the MS vs Android malware 'backlash' and also when Instagram was released for Android.

Just because you can cherry pick tweets from the vocal minority to form your attention grabbing headline doesn't mean it applies to the entire user base.

slykat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The title of this should be "Facebook is looking at ways to monetize its billion dollar investments, much like every other public company in world."

I'm not sure how this is even worthy of an article.

JeremyMorgan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
They've never confirmed they're doing ads.

But I would think something similar to in game items would work great. Aviary for instance has a great set of standard filters, and some "extras" you can buy. I have already purchased one.

Would I have clicked on an ad anytime in the next year? probably not

vlokshin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
lol @ "may"
Rails Environment Variables github.com
30 points by aviflombaum  6 hours ago   19 comments top 9
DanielKehoe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Taylor Mock and I are the authors of the article. Here's why we wrote the article. And why we suggest an alternative to using the Unix shell to set local environment variables.

The rails-stripe-membership-saas example application [1] from the RailsApps project has become very popular. I've been getting lots of requests for help stemming from problems setting local environment variables. Personally, I prefer to use the Unix shell to set local environment variables such as email account credentials and API keys. Always has worked for me. Apparently some people have trouble (perhaps complications with rvm or just plain ignorance). Anyway, telling newbies to school up is not a solution. So Taylor Mock came up with a trick to use Ruby to set local environment variables from a Rails application without involving the Unix shell.

It has some advantages. If the variables are set in the shell, the code just works. If the shell environment is a mess, the developer can use a local_env.yml file to set the environment variables.

There are several other valid and appropriate approaches (a .env file, a dotenv gem, etc). Also, there is a whole mini-industry of clever gems for setting constants and configuration variables in Rails. This is different. This is just intended for variables such as email account credentials and API keys that shouldn't be hardcoded.

I describe the motivations for the article in a RailsApps blog post [2].

[1] http://railsapps.github.com/rails-stripe-membership-saas
[2] http://blog.railsapps.org/

venus 5 hours ago 3 replies      
As far as I can see this article is rather misguided. The author seems totally unaware of the existence or purpose of these files:

""" config/environments/development.rb
""" config/environments/production.rb
"""" config/environments/test.rb

Put all this stuff in there.

edit: I see the source of this misunderstanding. The author states:

> Rails applications should be “turnkey”; that is, deployed anywhere without modifying code

This is an ideological statement with no basis in reality. If you have to jump through all these hoops in order to trick your app into running as expected without modifying code - you're probably Doing Things Wrong™.

A better approach might be to make a private fork of the project you wish to deploy, modify the code as needed, deploy from that, and periodically merge from upstream.

danso 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear god....this has always been a point of confusion for me, in that if you look up best practices, you'll find a multitude of contradictory advice. Well, I guess all solutions could be equally safe and sound...but it was still confusing and something almost never covered in beginner how-tos. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was always mildly confused.
petewarden 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've wrestled with this pattern (anti-pattern?) myself. One key advantage is that I can run plain Ruby unit tests outside of Rails, as long as I make sure the right environment variables are set in my shell.

I'm conflicted about it though; I hate being out of the mainstream on something as fundamental for maintenance as this and I have to jump through hoops to get Apache to set my environment variables.

habosa 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is extremely useful. A TON of people learn Rails from tutorials and never hear about issues like this. Then they go and push to GitHub and expose their login information for something secure. It took me too long to figure this out, thankfully nobody really looks at my Rails projects on GitHub (I hope).
dasil003 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting article as I haven't gone down this path.

I tend to favor YAML files for configuration, and symlink them in the case of security concerns like private keys.

To roll up a standard access pattern in our app which has dozens of configuration files, I wrote this which allows local developer overrides via xxx_local.yml:


I'll probably gemify it at some point.

mickeyben 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this hack. We're using it a lot at our company.


config.cache_store = :null_store
config.cache_store = :redis_store

itsbonczek 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been really liking the foreman approach with Heroku. It's super easy to create a .env file that contains environment variables that can then be git-ignored.
calgaryeng 6 hours ago 1 reply      
You can also check out the `figaro` gem which provides some pretty handy functionality.
Open Sauce: Free unlimited testing for open source projects sauceio.com
79 points by jlipps  11 hours ago   11 comments top 3
Cogito 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"In exchange, we just ask that you agree you will only use this account for your OSS project(s) and that all of your test results (videos, screenshots, and the Selenium log) will be publicly accessible"

This sounds great, but I couldn't find a listing of these resources anywhere, which would be great to have. The Open Sauce page [1] has a listing of some of the projects taking advantage of this service but no links to the actual test results etc. Does this exist, and if not can someone put it together?

[1] http://saucelabs.com/opensource

josh2600 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. We're very FOSS and I've let our design team know about this. Thanks folks!

Note: I'm the community manager for http://www.2600hz.com

peapicker 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Saw the title as was hoping for a salsa recipe site.
       cached 14 December 2012 05:02:01 GMT