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Why I Won't Be Using BetaPunch for User Testing daniellemorrill.com
82 points by dmor  1 hour ago   39 comments top 15
jorde 25 minutes ago 4 replies      
Sadly Danielle's site is down so I can't read the original post. I also had the pleasure of interacting with BetaPunch's Twitter account a while back: they posted several tweets advertising that they were doing user testing for our service. I thought my co-founder had signed up for them but I still felt it was unethical to post details about clients publicly and asked them to tone down the tweets. The result was that they called me a "silicon valley douche"[1] which I can't help to find entertaining still today. Only afterwards I learned that nobody from our company had signed up for them and they were using our name just to give the impression that we were using them.

[1]: https://twitter.com/jorilallo/status/261977607757778944

eduardordm 14 minutes ago 2 replies      
I was like both of them. I was unable to solve a single problem without arguing. Emotions were the main motive behind every single exchange of arguments.

But I wasn't a CEO. I was just a teenager programmer unable to resolve disputes and prone to let ego guide my actions. I got better by maturing, studying and I even took a mediation course.

That said. Danielle, this is NOT how a CEO solve problems. Betapunch, what happened? I'm a client and never had a problem, I actually have been recommending your service to a lot of people.

Danielle and the betapunch employee who replied to her are unable to run serious businesses right now. God, I remember being called SOB by customers over the phone and replying 'Please, I'm sorry' even when the fault was not even close to ours.

You guys really could use a mediation course.

jacalata 54 minutes ago 1 reply      
Wow, 'ungrateful'? What do they expect exactly if I were to use their one free test today? A thank-you card, or just attribution somewhere if I were to release the product one day? Could they put that up front please, so I don't get surprised later on by a grudge held by their social media intern?
eterpstra 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
Does anyone see the irony here? The whole point of the BetaPunch service is to elicit critical feedback.

I kid you not, the quote below is taken directly from their site as instructions for site testers:

"Be as critical as possible when reviewing a website. It's ok to be positive but don't just talk about how great you think their site is. These websites sign up for BetaPunch because they know they have things that can be improved upon. They want you to be as honest as possible with them as to your feelings about their website. Figure out what makes sense to you and what doesn't. And be sure to VOICE your opinions as you navigate the site."

kt9 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
Rule number 1 of business: No matter what, regardless of who is right or wrong, never, ever antagonize or nurture a conflict with anyone. Especially not a potential customer.

If you can't get someone onboard as a customer, work on figuring out why and building a relationship so maybe you can get them onboard later.

Edit: Also wanted to add that if someone uses your beta product you should be thanking them for taking the time to try out your new product (and hopefully giving you feedback) rather than expecting them to thank you.

eranation 32 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think everyone agrees - never say anything nasty to any potential customer, but if you do this mistake, at least don't do that publicly on a social network or anything that can be recorded.

On the other hand, there is no such thing as bad publicity, maybe it's their weird way to get recognition, by treating their customers like they owe them something.

After all I'm sure most of the readers will go to their website, just to see what it is, and even try their service.

So in the end, the bad customer service led to a blog post by the customer that was being badly treated, which might give them more traffic than if they were just nice, ironic.

hahla 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
I found it interesting when an unrelated twitter user posted that they shouldn't insult a "influencer" as it would just hurt their reputation. For some reason this struck a wrong chord with me, while the BetaPunch guys handled this entirely the wrong way, if they were in the right and a "influencer" didn't like what they had to say I wonder what would happen.
josscrowcroft 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow... speechless. I was geared up for an unfair dismissal of a veryâ€"earlyâ€"stage product, but this made me cringe. Saved with a hint of irony in my Social Media Ideas folder
tolvak 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
BetaPunch needs to revoke the access of whoever is responsible for writing tweets and have a PR focused person handle tweeting. They were too emotionally invested, and it just made them look petty. Definitely not the sort of discussion you want potential customers to read when researching about you.
petroica 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow. BetaPunch really doesn't know when to quit and apologize:
mingpan 47 minutes ago 2 replies      
That was some serious WTF factor. However, I'm not so sure I agree that public shaming is the correct response.
coloneltcb 50 minutes ago 1 reply      
Don't blame you for shining a light on them. A top post on Hacker News is a tough way, but if they are to have any future success, this is a lesson they need to learn.
egfx 43 minutes ago 1 reply      
I have mixed feelings on this. One the free video test revealed a gaping bug that I was only made aware of through the video. And I'm thankful for that. But I didn't know these tests were promoted to the public! Not cool Betapunch. And anyways, checkout http://criticue.com for their free service. I'm getting 3-5 helpful reviews a nite. They only reqiuire you to test other sites for a one to one return.
vasco 49 minutes ago 3 replies      
Wonder how this is relevant for Hacker News. Is this soap-opera tuesday?
Pain of the New: The Hobbit at 48 fps kk.org
130 points by mbrubeck  3 hours ago   106 comments top 29
ginko 1 hour ago 5 replies      
>Knoll asked me, "You probably only noticed the odd lighting in the interior scenes, not in the outdoors scenes, right?" And once he asked it this way, I realize he was right. The scenes in the HFR version that seemed odd were all inside. The landscape scenes were stunning in a good way. "That's because they didn't have to light the outside; the real lighting is all that was needed, so nothing seemed amiss."

I would love to see cinematographers experiment with natural lighting for shots. Kubrick (in)famously did this in Barry Lyndon[1] 37 years ago. To do this he used f/0.7 Carl Zeiss lenses that were designed for NASA.

Nowadays we are far less limited due to the incredible light-sensitivity of modern image sensors. And if that doesn't work we can go for larger sensors, which would still be far cheaper than doing the same with film.

I have a feeling Kubrick would be having a field day with current tech and would have been one of the first supporters of 48Hz.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Lyndon#Cinematography

pud 2 hours ago 8 replies      
Humans like flaws.

When CDs first came out, people argued that they sounded "cold," even though they're near-perfect recreations of the music that was recorded. People like the hiss and compression of records and tapes.

This is also the same reason why people like Instagram filters. Normal iPhone pics are too good. Let's fuzz em up a bit.

Also, look at v1 of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other popular sites - they were far from pretty.

There's a lesson here. Somewhere.

chc 2 hours ago 5 replies      
I hear writers moan and wring their hands about the high-framerate version of The Hobbit, how it doesn't look "cinematic" or what have you â€" but anecdotally, nobody I know had the kind of complaints you hear from film insiders. Nobody I know complains about it looking like a PBS show; nobody feels like they can see the actors' makeup. Those who saw both versions unanimously liked the HFR version better (a common reason being that it's "prettier").

They did agree that the first 10 minutes were painful, but I think that's a combination of the fact that it's not what you were expecting and the fact that the first 10 minutes of the movie were awkwardly shot and acted ("DRAAAAAGOOOON!"), which the burring effect of the lower framerate helps to disguise.

Sure, I believe that some people probably didn't like it as much. Different strokes for different folks and all that. But I can't help but feel like there is something of an "old guard" effect at work here, where people fetishize the incidental details of something they're heavily involved in, and those people are responsible for a lot of the noise.

PaperclipTaken 1 hour ago 3 replies      
"48fps is just above the threshold that the human eye/brain can detect changes"

No, it's not. The actual threshold is unknown, but it's generally assumed to be around 100fps. Like the threshold for color, it's a complex question.

You don't see stuttering in a movie (usually) because each frame has an exposure time that is almost the full duration of how long the frame will appear on screen. The result is that anything moving will blur on the film (instead of getting a crisp shot), and so motion sequences are much more natural.

I'm not entirely sure why 48fps was chosen, but I know that too much more and many of the projectors that are currently showing the HFR film would be unable to. It's also worth noting that in 3D, each eye only gets a new frame at half of the rate (because each eye only sees half of the frames), so each eye is getting refreshed at the rate of a regular movie.

I know that there were lots of other technical obstacles when filming in 48fps, such as color muting by the camera. This could have also played a role in the choice of keeping it at just 48fps instead of something higher.

I'm not entirely sure why 48fps was chosen,

marquis 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw this last night so it's fresh in my mind: the first few minutes were strange and new, I had to adjust and also there was the general curiosity about how HFS was going to look. I spent quite a lot of time looking at Bilbo's face (young and old) and marvelling how I could tell that they were completely hairless and questioning if they had to wax their beards off to get that look. You could see every pore and the clean clean makeup. After I got used to it it was similar to what the article says: the indoor shots were like watching live theatre and the outdoor shots looked spectacular. I came out of it thinking, there is massive scope here for artistry given time and expertise.
aufreak3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I did this as well - watched both 48fps and 24fps, both in 3d and the former in imax. I didnt talk to Knoll, of course, but some notes follow -

1. The imax hfr 3d was on the whole awesome and I got a glimpse of where cinetech is heading. I was surprised by how good it was 'cos I expected it to be visually a lot more "soap opera"ish, iykwim. Peter Jackson has done some really good compromises so the film would look good in either format. It could've been a lot worse!

2. I was left with a craving to watch the 48fps again after I saw the 24fps. The craving was not for the outdoor scenes, but the indoor scenes which felt a lot more intimate in imax hfr 3d.

3. The outdoor scenes felt a bit bland compared to the 24fps! However, i think it was not the lighting that made it feel bland, but a feeling like i was moving through vacuum along with the camera. There is air out there in the scene and i was not breathing it or feeling the wind as the camera moves. These scenes worked in 24fps. Perhaps adding some sound indicating the air and wind might help during the sweeping outdoor shots.

4. Some cinematic techniques felt "old". The "zoom in on character and fly around" effect (on oakenshield) didnt work for me at all in hfr, but was spectacular in 24fps.

5. Slow motion needs to be reinvented. The slomo battle scenes between orcs and dwarves (iirc) had feeling to them in 24fps, but I thought "why are they moving so slowly? .... oh its slow motion!" during the hfr. It really needs something more to indicate that it is for emotional effect.

6. High resolution hfr 3d graphics totally rocks! The trolls were real and alive for me, as were the orcs and goblins. I think the digital team might've broken some new ground here rgd compositing scenes that's in some way different from what you see in games at 60fps. (Or maybe not!) At least, i cant wait to see Cars or WallE in imax hfr 3d!

7. Some 3d oddities (parallax) were disorienting in both. Ex as the camera pans to the young Bilbo letting off smoke rings, it looked like someone was pushing the bush behind him into place. But overall, 3d rocked in hfr for me compared to 24fps.

8. Traditional background score didnt work as well for me i hfr compared to 24fps. The scenes being more intimate and lively, i continuously had a feeling that the orchestra felt out of place. I'd much rather just have the sounds necessary for just the scene. Also the 3d placement of the sounds need to be more faithful to the geometry in the expansive shots. Some sounds just felt too loud for the distance.

Edit: minor bugfixes and clarifications plus new point on sound.

SeanLuke 1 hour ago 1 reply      
> The text-book reason filmmakers add makeup to actors and then light them brightly is that film is not as sensitive as the human eye, so these aids compensated for the film's deficiencies of being insensitive to low light and needing the extra contrast provided by makeup. These fakeries were added to "correct" film so it seemed more like we saw. But now that 48HFR and hi-definition video mimic our eyes better, it's like we are standing on the set, and we suddenly notice the artifice of the previously needed aids. When we view the video in "standard" format, the lighting correctly compensates, but when we see it in high frame rate, we see the artifice of the lighting as if we were standing there on the set.

This sounds entirely wrong to me, regardless of his appeal to experts.

There was no "film" versus "high definition". So far as I know, the Hobbit was not filmed in both 48 and 24, nor both in film and in digital: I think it was filmed on RED in 48fps HD digital and converted to 24 HD digital in post, by adding motion blur. Thus there was only one sensor type, aperture, shutter speed (likely 1/96), and ISO setting for both film versions. The blogger's description above seems to make assumptions which are simply not true.

If this guy saw some difference in lighting, this difference must be solely due to the 24fps motion blur conversion.

Florin_Andrei 2 hours ago 1 reply      
> Those high frame rates are great for reality television, and we accept them because we know these things are real. We're always going to associate high frame rates with something that's not acted, and our brains are always going to associate low frame rates with something that is not. If they're seeing something artificial and it starts to approach something looking real, they begin to inherently psychologically reject it.


I learned to do things in this particular way, and I cannot unlearn it.

jaredcwhite 2 hours ago 3 replies      

One reason however that some CDs really did sound cold and clinical in the early days was because the transfers to CD were using EQ curves that toned down bass and heightened treble frequencies for pressing vinyls. It made the vinyl records more even, but it made the CDs sound weak and harsh. My brother has been spending time in his home studio remastering some of his 80's CDs with normalization and EQ changes mainly, and they sound tons better.

Like the article says, HFR may require similar "mastering" to suit the newer format better, changing filmmaking techniques that no longer apply like they did in the 24fps era.

cwilson 2 hours ago 7 replies      
According to the article, the outdoor scenes were awesome in 48FPS. It was the indoor scenes that looked fake and weird, due to the fact that 48FPS made it very apparent there was lots of makeup being used, because they had unnatural light blasting on the actors (where as there was no extra light added to outdoor scenes, obviously).

Shouldn't he have just toned down the extra lighting indoors, knowing 48FPS was going to pick up more detail?

codex 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Presumably both the 24 and 48 fps versions were shot with the same cameras, with the 48 fps raw being mixed down to 24. Why would that affect sensitivity? Shouldn't both versions be equally sensitive? If not, couldn't this effect be compensated for in post?
mtgx 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why 48 FPS? Just because it's double the typical 24 FPS? Still it seems pretty arbitrarily chosen. They should just go with 60 FPS, which is what every screen has.
gambiting 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I am one of these people who were REALLY excited about this technology. I was fully, 100% prepared to walk out of the cinema, happily proclaiming that HFR video is the best thing ever and that every single film from now on should be shot and shown in this technology. More frames per second MUST mean that it will be better for the viewers,right?

And then I went to a cinema,and could not get used to this effect. Everything the characters did, seemed accelerated. I did not think that the video looked amateurish or home-made - no, absolutely not. But each scene in Biblo's House or generally all inside scenes looked like they were playing at 2x the normal speed - the characters moved too fast, it was unnatural. But I know that it couldn't have been really moving at 2x the speed - the sound was in sync,so there was nothing wrong with the cinema. I have no idea,how this could happen - I have seen plenty of videos shot in 60fps and never noticed anything so disturbing. Sorry,but Hobbit in 48fps was unwatchable for me.

anigbrowl 2 hours ago 5 replies      
A cogent argument, well explained and articulated. However, I don't agree with the conclusion - that what audiences want is ever more realism. Realism diminishes things; the 'film look' adds a dream like quality which is highly desirable for narrative work.
bryanh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a key take away is that film isn't supposed to be hyper realistic. When there are dragons on the screen, a slightly slower refreshed image for your eyes simply aids in the suspension of disbelief.

Of course, its easy to say "you ain't used to it so it's odd" but that seems dismissive. Film is manufactured fantasy, so imperfect reproduction is totally acceptable and perhaps preferred.

rdl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I just saw the movie (HFR 3d at Metreon), and while I mainly disliked that it seems to be a single solid 2.5-3h movie split into two badly edited 3h movies, the HFR was pretty good.

Not a fan of 3d, though; everything good about 3d seems to be handled just as well through depth of field, and once a lot of viewers will be on 2d, there is never non redundant 3d; it is either pointless in a scene, or backed up with depth of field, composition, color, or other ways of indicating depth and importance.

The HFR really sucked, IMO, in the early Shire scenes, which were boring indoor things. I've seen HFR before so I don't think it was adjustment. It worked well in battle or action scenes. A movie like Black Hawk Down or maybe sci-fi would do really well with HFR I think; not drama or fantasy.

What did seem to work in 3d were some of the 30 minutes of text and graphics beforehand. I am excited about 4k or 8k realtime rendered graphics for user interfaces.

dsl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This article does a good job of explaining that "different" thing you see.

The best way I could describe it to people was "remember the first time you saw porn shot in HD?"

hexagonc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't have much to add to the discussion except to say that I don't think the cd vs vinyl debate that we had in the 90s is a good comparison for the current controversy with 48FPS. Even if you accept that the first cds really did sound more accurate than their vinyl counterparts -- and some posters are contesting this -- the underlying points of contention are different for 48FPS vs 24FPS. Cds, in theory, brought you closer to the ideal situation which would be listening to the music in its purest form, unadulterated (perhaps, live?). But this is not what 48FPS does. Although 48FPS brings you closer to reality, it is the wrong reality. As pointed out in the article and by others, 48FPS makes you more aware of the artificial contrivances of the set -- the extra makeup, harsh lighting and the fake props. This is not what movies are supposed to do! The thing to strive for in movies is the fantasy realm that you're trying to depict. 48FPS puts a much greater burden on the filmmaker to live up to this fantasy expectation and when he or she falls short, as many are claiming PJ did, you have people complaining.
peterhajas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Because 48 frames per second is just above the threshold that a human eye/brain can detect changes

This is false. A human eye can detect changes at 60Hz, for sure.

issa 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
The frame rate was the least of The Hobbit's problem. If the movie had been good, I don't think anyone would be discussing this. When a movie's opening half hour is as utterly dull as the scene at Bilbo's house, what else can the audience do but take the time to closely examine every little detail of makeup and lighting.
salem 2 hours ago 0 replies      
From one extreme to the other.
It's actually interesting that the Hobbit has gone to 48HDR, considering that image mastering of Lord of the Rings was very poorly done for it's theatrical releases.
The digital master used for the final prints seemed to be bit-rate limited, causing very noticeable (for me anyway) compression artifacts when I saw the final installment.
eslaught 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd really like to know the technical reasons why the lighting appears different in 48 fps than 24 fps. His paraphrase from John Knoll was interesting, but didn't entirely satisfy my desire to know what really is going on here.
Tichy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I saw it in HFR 3D and it looked great. No idea what the fuss is about.
flxmglrb 1 hour ago 1 reply      
From now on, frame rate will be just like aspect ratio: another choice for the filmmaker. Some movies will still be in 24fps, some will be 48fps (or some other value), and eventually some will probably be variable from scene to scene.

As for the Hobbit, I think HFR could certainly have used a better "ambassador" film. Maybe James Cameron (who has also talked about 48fps from time to time) will do a better job of it in his next movie.

JungleGymSam 2 hours ago 4 replies      
A slight bit off topic from the article here but was the 3D version the only one shown in 48fps? I saw the 3D version a fews days ago and was actually disappointed that I wasn't able to experience the 48fps experience.

To me the 3D effect seemed to cause a lot of jitter and poor fps so I was a bit ticked the whole time. But now having read this article I'm even more ticked off that I didn't even realize I was watching 48fps.

...and that makes me wonder why I couldn't tell the difference.

niggler 1 hour ago 0 replies      
minor niggle: the word is Kodachrome, not kodakchrome
TommyDANGerous 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I thoroughly enjoyed the Hobbit at its frames per second.
mars 1 hour ago 1 reply      
after my eyes were actually adapting to the 48 frames/s i really liked the experience. what i found strange though was, that when displaying landscapes there was actually a depth-of-field in the movie - which did not make it a fully "real" visual experience. i guess this is rather a technical limit of the cameras the movie was shot with than intended. anyone got some details on this?
PHP needs a vision php.net
79 points by dave1010uk  3 hours ago   61 comments top 15
kjackson2012 17 minutes ago 3 replies      
I come from a C++ background, and early last year tried my hand at web development.

After hearing about all the stuff about how PHP was an "old", kludgey language, I tried to learn python, and go the webpy. It was doable, but I kept running into issues all the time.

I gave up and switched to PHP, and I have to say that it was a much easier experience. For the most part, everything just worked. Regardless of how kludgey its history is, how inconsistent the syntax is, etc, it really does work well. I'm now doing PHP development at my current job and it's been fine.

One thing I learned from a previous job was the saying "Your customers don't care about your technology. They care about you solving their problems." If you are solving their problems, they will pay you, regardless of whether or not your back-end is CGI, perl, PHP, or whatever.

h2s 2 hours ago 2 replies      
That closing appeal to deal with the abusiveness of the php.internals list fell a little flat given the opening statement of "shut up". I loved Rasmus' answer to this though.


    > The vision has been the same for years. A general purpose scripting
> language with a focus on web development. You are simply saying you want
> the vision to be more specific than that because everyone has a
> different view of what web development means. But even if we narrow the
> vision, it will still be open to a lot interpretation. We try to strike
> a balance between the different and changing views of web development
> the same way we strike a balance between appealing to weekend warriors
> and top-100 trafficed sites. No vision statement is going to answer the
> question of whether annotations should be in docblocks or in the core
> language. That's simply not what vision statements do.
> -Rasmus

Maintaining clarity of purpose in a project can be difficult sometimes. Kudos to Rasmus for managing to do so in the midst of what looks like it's gearing up to be another php.internals shitstorm.

blantonl 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think PHP (5.x/6x) is still applicable to any developer, new or old, experienced or not. Many of us cut our teeth on PHP's simple scripting concepts, and that shouldn't change. And from what I've seen from past history, it won't.

There is a tremendous amount of backwards compatibility in current versions of PHP that allows one to follow the same approach to Web development that those did back 10-15 years ago with PHP 4. No, it is not "Enterprise", and yes there are security considerations to account for. But the process of adoption is key, and PHP continues to be adopted by a lot of startups/projects. Those that choose to adopt the PHP language as their advanced vernacular moving forward still continue to have a number of more advanced programming language concepts to utilize in PHP with each new release, with barely any breakage with other approaches to using PHP.

venomsnake 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
You want a vision? Here is one - make the mess we have at the moment work.

I write in php for the better part of 4 years now and hate it every day. And I have written in c++ before that. Ask 20000 developers what are their main pain grievances sort them by "popularity" and just remove them one by one.

For me it is the hard debugging, the include mess and the "extremely" creative ways parsing and runtime errors are communicated to the developers.

saraid216 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Stas responded here: http://news.php.net/php.internals/64775

"PHP's vision is being simple and practical and focused on the web. PHP is what people use to get their first site off the ground. PHP is what a web designer learns when he/she wants to go into programming. PHP is what a random Joe uses when he needs to whip up a page and he's in "do it yourself" mind. PHP is what you expect everybody to be able to handle, and everything to be able to run. It is not to serve everybody, every use case and every possible need."

Frankly, I don't understand this vision at all. Is PHP supposed to be a beginner's language that a webdev eventually moves on from? I mean, don't get me wrong: I used PHP for exactly that when I graduated from high school. But is the directive really, "Real programmers don't use our language"?

programminggeek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
PHP is for webdev. That's it. Go outside the bounds of that and it loses its magic. On its own it's great for spitting out a webpage. It's a scripting and templating language in one, which is kind of cool.

That said, outside of that to make PHP work on bigger projects you end up with a lot of structure and ceremony that make PHP suck, not quite as much as Java, but it's not amazing.

Thiings like testing and testability aren't much fun in PHP. For a long time package management was a joke.

PHP is for webdev. That's it.

polemic 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
Worthwhile reading the email that preceded it:


The response hardly seems warranted. The vision is pretty stated there.

bunwich 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have $20. $10 to two PHP BDFL's kickstarters that are willing to take on the responsibilty of improving the language and removing the inconsistencies.

1) No one from Zend or Rasmus can apply.
2) facebook - would love if you guys forked it, but you don't need my money.

jfaucett 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more, and I'm a fan of PHP. It's a swiss army knife of a language, allowing you to program however you want. C programmers can code procedurally and java guys can jump in and basically go all out with the OOP constructs provided. I've watched PHP get better over the years, and it continually does so, but after having switched recently to Ruby, I have to say a solid "Benevolent Dictator" would probably not be such a bad thing for the language. Ruby has its paradigms, its own way of doing things, and you frankly can't develop software in many ways PHP allows you to, but for me Ruby is still a much more succint and beautiful lang, one I enjoy programming in more, I think partially because it has this, a set way of thinking about software design. I mean unit tests are in the stdlib for example, and you can't program long in the language without using utils, gems, etc, that all are chalk full of test suits that pass.

IMHO, a programming language should not just focus on itself or whether it has such and such feature, but on how it can be used in the entire software development cycle. This is something Go and Ruby are doing exceptionally well, and is why I like using them so much to build software, whether its web or otherwise. Probably because of its history as a template language embedded into HTML (way back when :), PHP has still got some growing pains in order to build up its software development paradigms, but I'm still hopefull, it has gone amazingly far and continues to improve.

cies 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Too late if you ask me, let me explain:

Programming languages are hard to change, very hard, because it will certainly break programs written in it in many places. So if you want a programming language with a vision you should start with it, or simply accept it has no vision and it merely goes with the whim of its maintainers. The latter is what I believe happened to PHP. No biggy, there are plenty of languages that do have strong visions and are very suitable for web-development; just move on.

If PHP was to implement a vision, it would soon not be PHP anymore, whether that is a good thing is up to the users of that language. In that case I foretell a hack of a lot of porting effort and a fork (facebook?)... :)

verelo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Some of the statements there such as this really disappoint me.

"PHP is what people use to get their first site
off the ground. PHP is what a web designer learns when he/she wants to
go into programming. PHP is what a random Joe uses when he needs to whip
up a page and he's in "do it yourself" mind."

PHP is a great language in that its very flexible and quick to get going with, the sad thing is people don't want it to grow up...after all, so many massive companies (FB?) use PHP for core components. Why can't those internally have a slightly larger vision...

olleicua 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think this may be too optimistic. It seems to me that PHP's lack of vision has already made it a horrifically bad language. The problem is not that it tries to do OO while also not really trying to do OO (don't get me wrong though, that is a problem). The problem is that it tries to do OO like Java. Get with the times and learn Ruby already.
fleitz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It has lots of vision, what it needs is a janitor.
TazeTSchnitzel 2 hours ago 0 replies      
php's internals mailing list is chaos. It's a pantomime of "YES-NO-YES-NO-YES-NO" ad nauseum. And that is why PHP is such a horrible, inconsistent language. It has never had any consistent direction. JS was bad at first, but its mistakes are slowly being corrected and it is become more consistent and coherent. PHP was bad at first, and they keep breaking things as well as improving it.
Tichy 2 hours ago 2 replies      
PHP needs to die


Create and delete branches github.com
73 points by nicolasd  3 hours ago   15 comments top 6
h2s 3 hours ago 1 reply      
My gut reaction to this was negative. As much as I like GitHub, I sympathise a lot with Linus Torvalds' concerns about the way it encourages low-quality pull requests [1].

However, thinking back through my own experiences with the kind of minor pull requests I've occasionally made to projects in the past, I can see this being quite useful. Have you ever actually cloned a big repo like the kernel's? Even the Node.js repo takes a fair old while. If you're just trying to submit a correction for a minor typo or omission in the project's README, then this feature lowers the barrier from minutes to seconds. Hopefully that will be a net positive for the community.

[1] https://github.com/torvalds/linux/pull/17#issuecomment-56599...

artursapek 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Suddenly I can clearly see what must be one of Github's long-term goals: to make git usable end-to-end in the browser, and in a way where that is preferable for certain situations.

We're going to continue spending more and more of our computer time in the browser. It's the universal platform.

elliottcarlson 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Slight self promotion; here is a CLI tool I made to help clear up local and remote branches easily - in case it is still useful to people:


greghinch 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Delete a branch in the UI, thank you!
jonahkagan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I can't believe it. I was looking for this functionality just yesterday and now here it is.
a1g 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You guys are awesome! Thank you so much :)
How should I deal with an employee who has slept with my wife? stackexchange.com
23 points by DigitalSea  1 hour ago   1 comment top
nvr219 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
The guy in the OP values his company over all other personal relationships it seems.
Your life's work 37signals.com
213 points by rjim86  7 hours ago   61 comments top 22
edw519 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I'd be happy if 37signals is the last place I work.

I've had this exact same attitude at every company (many!) I've ever worked at. Until someone or something completely outside my control fucked it up. Then I took my positive attitude and moved on to my next "last place to work".

Kinda makes a difference if it's your company, huh?

drats 5 hours ago 3 replies      
There isn't a 37 signals "voting ring" but pretty much we see about a blog per week from them of extremely low/general quality. Often they are of a lifestyle/why we didn't go big and why we are actually better than all the big IPOs changing the world nature. I mean this post boils down to "I love my company (that I own, not that I work for)". I think even if PG posted a blog so vapid, "I love Ycombinator, I can picture working here for years", even he would get a bit of fire. I certainly hope we aren't going to be seeing these vapid posts for a decade or more from 37S. You could randomly select a book from the self-help or business section of a bookstore, select a random page, and have a good chance of getting something more insightful than a standard weekly 37s post.

I seriously have nothing against them, I wish them more success even: just not success getting to the front page here because frankly they don't talk about interesting algorithms, technologies or business strategies. They are incredibly boring. No mobile, no Google glasses, no new computer game, no crafty actionable patio11 strategy, no raspberry pi hack, no programming language hack, no excellent presentation, no struggling story of success, no rejection and comeback, no scaling of servers, no clever command lines, no new SSH shell, no browser plugin, no investment philosophy, just "I love my business".

75% of their posts are simply not HN-worthy and there isn't a voting ring but there is probably a bunch of social contacts who are up voting this. Please just subscribe to their twitter or RSS because their weekly show here is frankly tragic and they should cut down to 1/4th as much and spend more time with their family.

Edit. Just to note I own a DHH book, so I will pay for the writing of this guy when it's actually worth it. I'm just saying this blog stuff isn't even worth free.

kevinalexbrown 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I see a lot of comments suggesting "it's his company, of course he wants it to be good for him!" (One commenter used the term "insipid").

There are worse things in the world than a founder looking to make a company a good place to work for the long term. Consider: If shit is broken, we'll fix it now, lest we be stuck with it for decades. Now think about people flipping companies, people playing hot potato with toxic assets, or looking for the next vote, or surge in page-views, and this attitude starts to look pretty nice.

ChuckMcM 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great insight, not just for work but for life in general.

When I moved to the Bay Area both my wife and I were scrimping and saving to come up with a down payment for a house. After living there six years we 'traded up' to a roomier house, and in the process of getting our existing house ready for sale, we did a lot of the stuff we had planned to do 'someday' but in this case to make the house more attractive. We redid the hall bathroom, fixed the lights in the den, simple stuff. It was a lot nicer house to live in just before we moved out. We decided our next house would be different, we would do the things that made the house more livable/nice when we thought of them, that way we could enjoy them ourselves.

The tricky bit is doing this even if you aren't "sure" you're going to be in the same place in 10 years. The fear is that if you suddenly are going to be doing something else, living somewhere else, well you could have used those resources better by not spending them on something you wouldn't use/enjoy.

My experience has been that it is always the right thing to invest for the long haul.

h2s 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought this was going to be something different based on the title. A few years ago I had a realisation: we are each of us every day working on our life's work. Your life's work doesn't begin on some nebulous future date after you land that dream job or get to start a clean project in a fresh new codebase. The bug you fixed yesterday, the optional parameter you added to that method today: that's your life's work.

This was a transformative realisation for me. It empowered me to take the pride in my work that I knew I wanted to, and drove me to push myself a little harder. It was also useful in helping me see my long term career goals more clearly. Once you've thought "this is what I'm going to spend my one and only lifetime doing" all the bullshit falls away.

jasonkester 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the main reason you don't see this sort of 40-year loyalty in the software industry is money.

The first software job I ever had was pretty much perfect in every respect. Great team, fun projects, respect & support all the way up to the owner, plenty of leeway to experiment with fun tech on the off chance that it might come in handy one day.

But they hired me at the market rate for a junior dev. And I got better fast. Like so fast that the things I built attracted attention elsewhere. And before the first year was out it was abundantly clear that I could make twice what I was making simply by responding to an email or two.

So I talked to management, and they did everything in their power to get me up to the market rate for a regular dev. Which was still way less than I ended up taking when I did eventually respond to one of those emails. (and a ton less than I was making a year after that).

Your value just goes up too fast in this business for a single company to keep up with. Nobody gives 100% raises every other year, but the market as a whole seems to be quite happy to do exactly that.

Unless that changes, I think we'll find that most people end up on a track like my own. We might find our dream job several times along the way. But unless we're pretty near the end of the track, it'll be hard to justify staying there forever.

logic 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect the 37signals employment contracts still say "at will" somewhere in them. In fact, Jason Fried talked about exactly that at one point: http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2239-employment-contracts-wha...

If you want me to treat a position like it's the last one I'll take, then show me the same: treat me like a member of the team that you'll fight to keep around. Offer equity, take that at-will clause out of the contract, treat me like a partner in your success.

Anything else is just blowing smoke, I'm afraid. At the end of the day, you can be let go without notice (and, to be fair, you can also walk away at any time); that's the agreement you sign during your first professional interaction with most US-based companies. And it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship: this is a transient arrangement, and can be discarded as situations change on either side.

sergiotapia 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As I was reading I was thinking to myself, "Damn! This guy must really love his job. I can't imagine being that loyal to a company for years and years and years. Unless I was a co-founder and it was partly mine."

Then reached the end and it's DHH. Of course he wouldn't mind working there, he owns that place. That punchline made the entire article insipid.

SatvikBeri 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've found that thinking of the next 5, 10, and 50 years is a useful mental trick. It puts me in a frame of mind that helps me make better decisions: will working myself to death on feature X help me 10 years from now? (Very rarely, the answer is yes.) Does it make sense to spend more time socializing, studying, or working? I don't want to exercise now, but how will going to the gym affect me in 5 years?

The funny thing is that I make better decisions even with extremely short term projects. If I'm working on a 1-month software project, I'll get it done better and faster if I have the perspective that I'll be using it for 10 years than if I have the perspective that I'll be using it for 6 months.

So it may be worth putting yourself in a long-term state of mind, even when it's not necessarily true.

swombat 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd be happy if 37signals is the last place I work. In an industry so focused on the booms and busts, I find myself a kindred spirit with the firms of old. Places where people happily reported to work for 40 years, picking up a snazzy gold watch at the end as a token of life-long loyalty.

I'm sure picking up the odd Lamborghini ( http://gilesbowkett.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/coyotes-pulitzer-... ) as a token of last month's worth of effort is also a good plus... :-)

Skywing 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have yet to have this feeling for a company that I work at, but I do remember having this feeling for an online gaming "clan", back in the day. On battle.net, for Diablo, people would make clans and just game together, and eventually war other clans, etc. It was normal to "clan hop" around and join basically every clan until you're in the best clan. I remember the day when a friend and I jokingly joined what we thought was going to be a lame no-name clan, and we had intentions of sneakily doing something as members of that random clan. Turns out that we really enjoyed that clan and stayed with it. I remember the strange change of perspective that I had on clans when I realized that the clan I had joined was so enjoyable that it was without a doubt going to be better than any other clan out there, in my opinion. Because of that enthusiasm for the clan, we all ended up sticking together and ended up being like one of the longest lasting and well known clans of that time period. We moved off of battle.net and onto our own IRC server which we've all been on, every day, since like 2001. It's awesome what that kind of realization can lead to, if given the chance.
callmeed 7 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a difference between being a long-term middle manager at someone else's company and being a long-term founder at your own company. I wouldn't choose the former and I doubt DHH would either (of course, I don't know him so maybe I'm wrong).
kremdela 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I attended a talk at SXSW a few years ago, mostly about the Millennial generation and their desire to work with you, not for you.

I'm no longer young, but I've bounced around to quite a few jobs because I've always run into a wall in terms of growth, personal growth within the organization, or professional growth - not expanding my skill set fast enough while limited to one employer.

As the founder of a company, you have a lot more control in pushing the envelope in lots of different ways, but I think the challenge is being able to create that for yourself vs. creating it for those that work for/ with you.

dhh can create 37racing, work from wherever he wants, push the envelope on technology as much as he desires, but I believe the challenge is giving the same to your employees, not just through profit sharing, but sharing the ways your company can grow.

projectileboy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote about this once, FWIW... the technical skills one should focus on that have lasting value: http://softwareboy.blogspot.com/2009/10/learning-things-of-l...
zaidf 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds a lot like Charlie Munger's philosophy that he likes to invest in few businesses that let him sit back and relax for a long time instead of constantly having to worry about getting out of a position at a profit.
johnward 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never once held a job that I thought I could do for another 5 years. I couldn't even imagine doing what I'm doing now for the rest of my life. I find that I usually get bored/tired of the BS after 2-3 years. Companies aren't loyal to their employees. I'm not loyal to them.
r0s 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That's it, I'm applying to Valve.
eldavido 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you find this attitude a lot more in Europe than the United States. I see it in ZenDesk a lot too, living here in SF and having visited their offices a fair number of times.
meerita 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Good rant if you have a sucessful product to sustain your experimentional and fun lifestyle. For the rest of the crowd: keep calm and do work.
vojant 5 hours ago 0 replies      
That's just not for me.
ixacto 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The USA will still have nukes. People will still drive cars. This aint changing...
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Customer Service

I'm teaching an introductory 12-week class on Haskell shuklan.com
67 points by BinRoo  4 hours ago   20 comments top 9
pohl 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Awesome! Thanks for posting about this. I just started Erik Meijer's 13-lecture video series on Channel 9, and look forward to bolster my learning with your course.

Every slide has a secret note

Any idea how to show that on something like an iPad? Once per day to see the alt text on xkcd is already too much to bear.

why-el 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Great work so far. I like the organization. Any plans to release video lectures?
akurilin 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Will you be sending out email reminders when every new lecture is posted? I'd love to follow along, but find it very hard to remember all of the classes I subscribed to.
lawn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Yet another attempt/excuse for learning Haskell!
btian 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Looks like it's going to be a great course! On an unrelated note, how did you generate the slides? They're very cool.
bmcfeeley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Was just hit with the desire to learn more about Haskell this weekend, after stumbling on some notes from a Language Paradigms class in school...can't wait to check this out!
nicholasjarnold 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Favorite pairs from the 'X as seen by Y' slide: {{Java, C}, {C, Java}, {PHP, Java}, {Ruby, Java}, {PHP, Ruby}}
misframer 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm taking this course next semester at UVa. Can't wait!
Jasdev 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Colleges lose pricing power wsj.com
13 points by anigbrowl  1 hour ago   6 comments top 3
tokenadult 43 minutes ago 3 replies      
From the article kindly submitted here:

"'We have a more informed class of college consumers,' said Bonnie Snyder, founder of Kerrigan College Planning in Lancaster, Pa. 'Everyone today knows someone who went to college and ended up with a career that didn't justify the cost. They see college as a more risky investment.'"

Yep. More and more of us know more and more examples of college graduates who live in their parents' basements because they can't support themselves with their college diploma. It's time to be more discerning consumers of higher education.

Colleges try to confuse the issue of their value with imaginary list prices subject to discounts ("scholarships") that mislead about what a college is actually worth. Here's an interesting link about how colleges are advised to set their prices by consulting firms, a link I learned about from a Harvard-trained economist and policy analyst:


ArchD 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
"18% of 165 private universities and 15% of 127 public universities project a decline in net tuition revenue"

What about the remaining 82% and 85%? What fraction of these project an increase? It's not mentioned, so perhaps there's also been a similar rise in the fraction that projected an increase, and all you can say then is that there's increased variance in projected revenue change, not that universities on average are facing projected revenue decrease.

jamesaguilar 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Seems a bit premature to conclude that a major shift is happening after one year.
Codecademy introduces API lessons with YouTube, SoundCloud, Parse, and more codecademy.com
141 points by theunquietone  7 hours ago   30 comments top 12
sergiotapia 6 hours ago 3 replies      
All of these examples further solidify my hapiness in switching from C# to Ruby as my primary language. It's so beautiful!

The project I'm working on wants to send SMS messages to clients, but we postponed that for v2. But after seeing the example for Twilio I'll heavily recommend we implement this feature now, as it seems very straightforward and will be a major upsell for our startup.

My brother is studying Comp Sci (well in Bolivia it's called Ingenieria de Sistemas - less b-tress more ASP.Net), and I really want him to learn Ruby and become happier with his work.

zbruhnke 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cool. Twilio is one of the first API's I fell in love with strictly because of their docs and how easy it was to learn everything, there are some other API's that took me longer to get used to working with (Google Maps comes to mind) but with something like this my progress would have come along so much faster.

I feel more and more like now is one of the best times to want to learn anything, programming included. But you guys really are making it so easy for the next generations of programmers to learn the right way.

Thanks for this. I hope it makes the kind of impact it is capable of.

jonathanjaeger 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Started Codecademy recently and really like the lessons. In terms of gamification, the badges do nothing for me, but the points and day streak are great. I had a 15 day streak and it really gave me the extra incentive to do just 10 minutes a day even when I was particularly busy. I forgot one day and now I have to start the clock over again, haha.

Will dig into API stuff once I actually finish the other basics.

FredFredrickson 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Codeacademy is a great site... it makes it fun to brush up on the basics or try out a new language. It helped me learn some Javascript recently, and I really enjoyed the course.

I'd love to see them do something on OAuth / Twitter. I find that stuff very confusing.

jnotarstefano 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a fairly fanatical Codecademy user, so this is not news to me: I've been testing these courses since at least two weeks :)

Unfortunately this means I'm having all sorts of data integrity issues: for example, I can't access the third lesson in the Parse track, which is showing 9/4 exercises done. I'm also having trouble finishing several exercises in these courses, due to puzzling errors and, possibly, flawed tests.

But, wrinkles aside, I think these lectures are a brilliant way to generate leads: I subscribed to pretty much every service that has course on its API (Parse, Twilio, NPR...).

physcab 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It took me a while to figure out what this was. At first I thought Codecademy was providing lessons VIA API. I thought, "wow, they've essentially built a framework for education...pretty cool". Then I went to the actual website and saw that it just teaches you how to program OTHER APIs. Maybe their title should more accurately be "Learn How to Program APIs" instead.
d0gsbody 5 hours ago 1 reply      

I also wish they would fix their current classes. A couple of bugs are keeping me from finishing their Jquery and web(original) tracks. I emailed them about it, but still doesn't work.

SanjayUttam 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is going to be super helpful for one of the projects I'm working on...researching APIs is always a bit time consuming due to the huge discrepancy in documentation quality/location/formatting/examples/etc.
maximem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems for beginners in code but really nice initiative!... UI . I've stumbled upon webshelll.io recently on HN http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4728671. Quite a good tool for learning fastly how to use and script apis. Seems to be made for developer bored with finding , learning and scripting API.
6thSigma 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This got me thinking - anyone know of an API or open source project that implements a browser-based IDE where you can make your own programming challenges or tutorials? Perhaps Codeacademy is working on something like that?
aorshan 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm curious as to why they wouldn't include lessons on the Facebook and Twitter APIs. I would think that would be a primary example of APIs to be familiar with.
nanook 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember really struggling with cross-domain AJAX requests. I wish they'd talked about that.

Also, its quite likely that one would be using jQuery (or some other lib.) to do all of this in practice.

Microsoft Research's IllumiRoom projects images into your living room thenextweb.com
23 points by ashwinuae  2 hours ago   5 comments top 3
ChuckMcM 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Now replace your entire wall with an OLED 8K display.

One of the things I've been playing around with have been the Phillip's "Hue" lights (see the Apple store) which you can control via the Zigbee light protocol. Taking the colors from the screen and doing accent lighting of similar shades. Its kind of amazing how that makes your screen seem bigger.

walls 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Am I wrong in thinking this is absolutely awesome? I've watched the video several times now, and all I can think is that I want it, now.

It's an incredibly 'simple' concept, and yet the perfect next step in immersive display.

Tmmrn 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
By the way: Two of the games shown are Red Eclipse and Supertuxkart, both open source and - of course - run on linux. While SuperTuxKart is not that exciting, Red Eclipse is quite fun.
Buffy vs. Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate rebelliouspixels.com
110 points by dmuino  6 hours ago   52 comments top 12
greenyoda 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The article links to an independently hosted HTML5 copy of the video, in case you want to see it first-hand. It's very cleverly done, quite amusing (at least if you're a Buffy fan), and definitely looks like fair-use:


bjustin 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Takedowns on YouTube are, for corporations such as the record labels and movie studios, largely done under their ContentID system, not under the DMCA notice system. Google has a reputedly poor process for disputes that can lead to DMCA notices [1], but here it appears that the takedown was still ContentID rather than DMCA.

This is the one-sided system that the free market got us, where Google facilitates the removal of legal material. If you are lucky, you can get to the point where you follow the DMCA's rules.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/youtube-finally-o...

jessaustin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think there is a real possibility that this maneuver could blow up in Liongate's face. Presumably there are some important decision-makers who take the argument for fair use seriously: that's why this dispute process exists in the first place. This video is an exemplar of what normal non-lawyer people would classify as fair use, if they're familiar with the concept at all. If Liongate's lawyers are willing to get in the mud over a few ad dollars (rather than the high-sounding crap we usually hear from the content industry), and they get their way, then clearly the system requires more protection for fair use. They might not have run this plan by all the suits at MPAA.
ghubbard 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is actually worth reading. It's actually written by somebody who knows what they are talking about.

  "Buffy vs Edward remix was mentioned by name in the official recommendations by the US Copyright Office (pdf) on exemptions to the DMCA as an example of a transformative noncommercial video work."

smsm42 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Basically it looks like YouTube is too scared of lawsuits to acknowledge any fair use rights exist at all. Either you agree with ads, or your content is getting removed, the whole appeals process may work only if the content is not actually copyrighted, but is completely useless for fair use grounds as claimant can just repeat their claim of copyright ownership (which is true) and have it deleted anyway.
cjensen 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Doesn't look like fair-use to me.

The rebelliouspixels version, with its extensive on-screen critique is fair-use since it appears to be a critique. But if the original YouTube version lacked that, then the video devolves into little more than a fanfic video by a Buffy-loving Twilight-hater.

Even the rebelliouspixels version appears to contain far more "quoting" of the original material than is needed for its critique.

ajanuary 5 hours ago 3 replies      
So they got advertisment money based off something that was 2/3 content owned by another big media company?
pervycreeper 1 hour ago 0 replies      
While I agree categorically with the necessity of allowing fair use, and the perniciousness of copyright cartels, I was nonetheless very tickled by this whine:

>But sure enough when I checked my channel, Lionsgate was monetizing my noncommercial fair use remix with ads for Nordstrom fall fashions which popped up over top of my gender critique of pop culture vampires.

discountgenius 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> This is what a broken copyright enforcement system looks like.

Alright, so how do we fix it? How can content producers protect themselves from legitimate copyright infringement on services such as YouTube that allow unverified uploads on a massive scale?

natmaster 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google needs a policy against doing evil.
sigzero 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Buffy? Pfftt....how about Blade!
zokier 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I think he could have waited the two weeks to get an answer for his counter-notification before raising torches and pitchforks.
Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give Real-time Analytics mcfunley.com
120 points by chrisdinn  7 hours ago   37 comments top 12
lmkg 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Full-time web analyst here. Total agreement.

Information is as useful as your ability to act on it--no more, no less. Real-time analytics is something that sounds sexy and gets a lot of headlines (and probably sales), but it's not particularly useful, especially compared to the cost to implement. Most organizations aren't capable of executing quick decisions of any significance. In fact, quite a few business models wouldn't have much to gain even if they were capable of it.

My experience is that there are three types of companies, with very little overlap:

1. Companies large enough to receive statistically significant amounts of data in under an hour.

2. Companies small enough to make decisions regarding significant site updates in under an hour.

3. Companies whose name is "Google."

Fact of the matter is, any change to your site more significant than changing a hex value will require time overhead to think up, spec out, test, and apply. Except in the most pathological cases of cowboy coding, it will take at least a day for minor changes. Changing, say, the page flow of your registration process will take a week to a month. You won't be re-allocating your multi-million-dollar media budget more often than once a quarter, and you have to plan it several months in advance anyways because you need to sign purchase orders.

In short, you can usually wait 'til tomorrow to get your data. Really, you can. Sure, you can probably stop an A/B test at the drop of a hat, but if it took you a week to build it, you ought to let it run longer than that.

I have had one client who really did benefit from real-time-ish (same-day) data. It was a large celebrity news site. They could use data from what stories were popular in the morning to decide which drivel to shovel out that afternoon. This exception nonetheless proves the rule: Of the 6 "requirements" listed in the article, only 1.5 were needed in this particular case: hard yes on accessibility, and timeliness was relaxed from 5 minutes to 30.

(Note that when I say analytics, I mean tools for making business decisions. Ops teams have use for real-time data collection, but the data they need is altogether different, and they are better served by specialized tools).

btilly 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Gah, yet another article that links to Evan Miller's article on how to not run an A/B test. I really need to finish writing my article that explains why it is wrong, and how you can do better without such artificial restrictions.

His math is right, but the logic misses a basic fact. In A/B testing nobody cares if you draw a conclusion when there is really no difference, because that is a bad decision that costs no money. What people properly should care about is drawing the wrong conclusion when there is a real difference. But if there is a significant difference, only for small samples sizes is there a realistic chance of drawing a wrong conclusion, and after that the only question is whether the bias has been strong enough to make the statistical conclusion right.

He also is using 95% confidence as a cut-off. Don't do that. You don't need much more data to massively increase the confidence level, and so if the cost of collecting it is not prohibitive you absolutely should go ahead and do that. Particularly if you're tracking multiple statistics. If you test regularly those 5% chances of error add up fast.

physcab 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this rant. Seldom do I see the need for a real-time system and sometimes I think engineers and program managers gravitate towards the concept to better answer questions of "why" a problem happens. But analytics problems most of the time can't be solved in real time. You have to put on your thinking cap, take a step back, do some background research, and be patient. And as an analyst it is bad for your credibility to jump to conclusions. Unlike engineering, it better to be slow and right on your first try than "move fast and break things".
sardonicbryan 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So I built and use a realtime analytics dashboard that tracks revenue, projected revenue, revenue by hour for a portfolio of social games. I find it incredibly useful, but I will give a couple tips that address some of the issues in the article:

1) You have to provide context for everything. Current real time revenue is presented right next to the 14 day average revenue up to that point in time, and also how many standard deviations the delta between the two is. Ie: Current revenue is $100 at 10am, vs. 14 day average of $90, which is 0.2 standard deviations of revenue at that time.

2) Hourly revenue is presented the same way, right next to the 14 day average revenue for that hour and the SD delta.

3) Look at it a lot. I've been looking at this sheet regularly for over a year now, and I have a really good feel/instinct for what a normal revenue swing is, and an even better feel for the impact of different features/content/events/promotions on our revenue.

4) This approach also works better when the impact of your releases is high. A big release typically spikes revenue 2-3 SD above baseline, and causes an immediate and highly visible effect. So while I'm not strictly testing for statistical significance, it's one of those things where it's pretty obvious.

5) It also works better if you use it in conjunction with other metrics. We validate insights/intuitions gained from looking at realtime data against weekly cohorted metrics for the last several months of cohorts.

ChuckMcM 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice post. Ops guys though, like to see the bushes rustling right away so that we can reboot that switch before all hell breaks loose :-)

The central theme is a good one though, tactics or strategies have an innate timeline associated with them, and deciding on tactics or strategies with data that doesn't have a similar timeline leads to poor decisions. The coin flip example in the article is a great one.

Ideally one could say "What is the shortest interval of coin flips I can measure to 'accurately' determine a fair coin?" And realize that accuracy asymptotically approaches 100%. One of the things that separate experienced people from inexperienced ones are having lived through a number of these 'collect-analyze-decide' cycles and getting a feel for how much data is enough.

creature 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I once interviewed for a lead webdev role at a small startup. They had 10-12 people, and a product that was doing OK. (I was thoroughly unconvinced by it, but that's another story). One of the things they talked about was their upcoming plan to build a real-time analytics system to track user behaviour. A big project! That I would get to spearhead! They'd budgeted 2-3 months and 6-8 people to implement it. We talked about their plans for a bit, before I asked (what I thought was) the obvious question:

"So, what's the real-time system going to help you decide that the current system won't?"

There is a long, uncomfortable pause as the two people look at each other, each hoping the other will answer.

"Well... it's not so much the real-time element, per se..." one managed. "But we want more granular data about how people are using our app."

"Okay. But you're currently doing analytics via HTTP callbacks, right? Why not just extend that to hit some new endpoints for your more granular data? You've already got infrastructure in place on the front and back end to support that."

No answer. We moved on. I don't know if I actually saved them 1-2 man-years of work or if they plowed ahead anyway.

josh2600 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a really interesting post.

While I agree with the basic premise that Real-time analytics are rarely helpful, here are a couple places where they could be very useful:

* Conferences - Being able to see live user analytics on a conference site, since it is ephemeral, would be great.

* Pop-up Sites - Again, the short nature of the site means seeing a blocking action or a broken link early is tremendously valuable.

Basically there are a couple circumstances where real-time analytics might make sense, but they're generally short duration engagements. Getting analytics info for a site which is no longer being hammered is useless unless it's a long term project.

lostnet 5 hours ago 1 reply      
And we shouldn't have calculators because we may forget the relationships between numbers?

I use analytics to do significant A/A testing on every configuration the sites users are actually using to determine what will work for my A/B testing later...
Should I maintain a separate realtime analytics or delay deployments by 24 hours when I would like a little more assurance? This is not a rhetorical question, whether I should keep maintaining separate tracking for the 20% of the time where google analytics is unfit is an open problem for me.

Similarly, I would like to know if there is a sudden plummet in some demographic the second I start a test. It usually isn't significant, but the client panic will be. It is better to cancel the test and do a post-mortem before restarting.. A B test doesn't have to get its day in court.

Giving delayed numbers for routine reports is perfectly valid, dressing up that pig is luddism.

AnthonyMouse 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with this in general, but there are exceptions. For example, it would be nice to know immediately if a new change has caused your conversion rate to drop precipitously for some reason, so that you can turn it back off and take a minute to see if you can figure out why before you lose a full day's worth of revenue.
cftm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting post though I feel the author is somewhat missing the forest for the trees; the issue isn't about "real-time" the issue is that many people conducting A/B tests don't understand what the statistics are telling them nor do they understand when an adequate "sample" has been pulled.

Real-time data isn't needed for A/B testing but this falls into the PEBKAC category.

car54whereareu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"You just need to understand cause and effect," said Apollo.

"He's right, mortal. This isn't what you would call rocket science," added Athena.

"Okay, and my business will succeed if I can understand cause and effect?"

"Yes," said Apollo.

"Of course! Why are you wasting time? Go write some software", said Athena.

So yeah, real-time A/B testing seems like a bad idea, but real-time analytics sounds fine. On the other hand, maybe the Gods gave you the idea of cause and effect to destroy you. I bet more than one story on hacker news today pretends to understand the causes for an effect.

phyalow 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Splunk? - I cant help but think that is piece of software would address most concerns this article raises.
The routing security battles intensify internetgovernance.org
15 points by hosay123  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
tptacek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't know. The security policy in BGP isn't all that agile and decentralized to begin with; it's mostly just a mess, isn't it? Different providers with different systems for truing up filters, many of which themselves rely on centralized databases? Can it get much worse than it already is?
rayiner 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"RPKI is being advocated by US government-funded contractors and US government agencies such as the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)."

Big, bad, NIST!

Also, nearly every company that knows anything about internet routing is a government contractor. Because, you know, they invented the internet under government contract.

Show HN: Visualizing the iOS App Store via D3.js appstorerankings.net
13 points by diziet  1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
minikomi 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fantastic visualization - the filters really make it interesting!

Could I suggest an extra column - Downloads * price

AustinGibbons 8 minutes ago 1 reply      
Sorry for coming down harsh but I don't understand how to interpret any of the individual curves, since it looks like they are five points on five different axis with a curve fit through them. What's the significance?
irollboozers 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It is surprisingly fun to play around with the filters and see correlations unfold. If you restrict only a narrow band for number of downloads and leave everything else open, you'll see ratings go up, down, and then up again.
diziet 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Funny tidbit: on firefox especially, forEach and Map functions have a big performance hit compared to doing a native for loop when you're handling a lot of data!
Go, the language for emulators cheney.net
26 points by geetarista  3 hours ago   11 comments top 2
shardling 1 hour ago 3 replies      
So, I don't see that the article mentions why the language is good for emulators.
cwzwarich 1 hour ago 5 replies      
If you're writing a good emulator, you're going to want it to generate machine code. Doesn't that interact poorly with Go?
Cognitive biases io9.com
20 points by gcheong  2 hours ago   10 comments top 7
tokenadult 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I can't upvote this as much as it deserves. The comments posted before this one point out the delicate issue in learning about biases in human thinking: it's a lot easier to notice the other guy's biases than my own. I'm glad that quite a few Hacker News participants like to share articles about systematic flaws in human thinking. Over time, with practice, that can help us disagree


more constructively in comment threads here, and avoid the "worst argument in the world"


as we argue with one another.

bane 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend this book for anybody interested in this


cristianpascu 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I must say I have mixed feelings about these biases.

One thing I've noticed is that they are used as counter-arguments. "OH, you're saying that because you're biased."
Could we say that some people are biased toward seeing biases everywhere?

Even if you've rationalized an opinion of yours in its entirety, as deep as it's humanely and currently possible, you can still be subject to, say, "wishful thinking".

Say you hold a belief about something that is not yet verified to be true of false. It's a belief. It's not knowledge because you can't justify its truth value yet. A skeptic philosopher might hold that you will never justify it entirely. But that's a different story.

However, some people will just trow a "bias" at you for the simple reason they think you wish it to be true, not that you believe and think it to be true.

bthomas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you like this stuff, I can't recommend Thinking Fast and Slow enough
B-Con 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I believe that knowledge of cognitive biases is useful for identifying flaws in one's own thinking, but I can't say I've seen it used very productively in argument. Especially for the type who is more of the "learn it and sling it" fact-thrower with more knowledge than understanding. It becomes harder to talk to those people because they're convinced they have your psyche all figured out, no matter what logic you employ.
frooxie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The best book on cognitive biases that I have read is Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland.
jakeonthemove 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't know, choosing the middle option seems like a good thing - get the best possible product for the least possible amount of money...
More Than Half a Million Raspberry Pis Sold raspberrypi.org
99 points by interconnector  10 hours ago   63 comments top 9
hosay123 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Pricing for similar hardware has literally crashed in the time it's taken Pi production levels to ramp up. There are now multiple ARM vendors with open source BSPs supporting hardware that's much more powerful and with comparable pricing. See for example http://www.cnx-software.com/tag/amlogic/ and http://www.cnx-software.com/tag/freescale/ .

Unlike the Pi these offerings usually come with Bluetooth, WiFi, larger flash and 1GB RAM in dual or quad core configurations, and pre-packaged in consumer friendly boxes ready for hooking to a display, although access to auxiliary IO buses may be more difficult. SATA (Mele A1000G), GigE (Wandboard) and mini PCI designs (i.mx6 Sabre Lite) are even available.

russell_h 9 hours ago 8 replies      
What is the best place to order one of these? I'd love to have one, but every time I go to order one I'm put off by the suppliers websites.
davidcollantes 9 hours ago 0 replies      
They could have sold many millions more, but finding them is difficult (if you do not want to pay premium).
numbsafari 9 hours ago 1 reply      
If you are in the US, be sure to check out www.newark.com. I tried ordering through Allied and it was a disaster. After 6 months of delays they eventually screwed up my shipment and said I'd have to resubmit an order and wait in the back of the line. I didn't realize newark.com (a subsidiary/partner of element14) sold them in the US.

Avoid shopping at Amazon (it's a ripoff by someone who is hoarding units).

It'd be great if RPi could find a way to expand production. At the very least, being more upfront about the delays in production and who will actually get units, would be a big help.

IgorPartola 6 hours ago 0 replies      
TriLUG is having a meeting tomorrow night about Raspberry Pi's and you can join via Google Hangout. This should give you a great overview of some of the neat things you could do with one of these. Details here: http://www.trilug.org/2013-01-10/Raspberry_Pi
IheartApplesDix 3 hours ago 0 replies      
For those looking for complete control of their hardware platform, the following link is a great place to start. Ever wonder how ARM Cortex chips work at a lower level? Afaik, this is the only available open source hypervisor.


More information on the "opensource-ness" of Raspberry Pi:


sushantsharma 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Sincere Question: Can someone please explain the significance?

Edit: Thanks for the responses. May be I should have explored the site more instead of just reading the article. http://www.raspberrypi.org/about

JabavuAdams 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't wait for the camera module...
jcmoscon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
What projects are you implementing with Raspberry Pis?
Your Minimum Viable Product is Processing Credit Cards garrickvanburen.com
136 points by garrickvanburen  12 hours ago   92 comments top 16
patio11 11 hours ago 4 replies      
You can even ask for money without having any way of receiving it. This is a good discipline to get into when doing customer development interviews.

"So we've established that this is going to save you four hours a month. OK -- it isn't ready for you yet, but it will be soon. It costs $50 a month. Can I get a $50 deposit from you to reserve your spot? We'll apply it against your first month's fee."

If you've identified a problem people actually have, they'll crawl over you to give you money. You don't even have to accept it, just watch whether they're actually willing to get out the checkbook or not.

(n.b. A lot of software is sold prior to existing at numbers substantially higher than $50. For example, you might hypothetically be building something enterprise-y and looking for your first anchor customer. If you are, the conversation goes something like "OK, will you soft-commit to being our first customer on this? We'll draw up a Letter of Intent which says that, six months from now, after we've got the technology in place, we start implementing a field trial for $YOUR_COMPANY, with successful implementation to be followed by an annual purchase in the six figure region. Does that sound good to you?")

jasonkester 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For what it's worth, my most profitable SaaS product launched without the capability of processing credit cards.

It launched with a price though. But also with a 30-day Free Trial.

The logic being that I could spend all pre-launch time building the actual thing. And then I had 30 days to get that payment processing stuff sorted out. Back then, you almost needed that much time. Today, you need a good hour to get Stripe up and running, so it seems even less of a priority.

So yeah, sure, you probably aught to have "makes money" baked in from day one. But if all you have is some Stripe sample code, I don't think I'd consider that a product.

jpdoctor 10 hours ago 0 replies      
> If you can't process credit cards right now â€" you don't have a product and you barely have a business.

Wow. Should I return a few million dollars to my customers?

ef4 10 hours ago 2 replies      
If you want to sell something for $50/year, yes you need to take credit cards.

But if you want to sell something for $15,000/year, it's not nearly as important.

joelg87 6 hours ago 1 reply      
For the MVP of Buffer, I implemented PayPal (no Stripe back then), but I avoided all the IPN hassles. The IPN is the part that would auto-upgrade people once they paid. The way I did it was to upgrade people manually as soon as I got the email from PayPal that they had paid for the Pro plan.

This turned out to be good for a number of reasons:

    1. I had no idea how long it'd be before the first person paid, so why optimize
that flow? Instead I worked on things which would help me get to the first
paying customer.
2. The IPN was the hardest part of PayPal implementation, so it saved me
a lot of time to avoid it. The rest of the implementation can even be done
with their button implementation and no coding experience.
3. Actually people having a slight delay, and my needing to personally email
them, was a great thing. That built a lot of loyalty through the personal contact
and those were some insightful conversations.

api 11 hours ago 4 replies      
A little Ask HN that is relevant to this thread: what are peoples' favorite avenues for processing cards these days? Especially for small increments (e.g. a few bucks a month)?
digitalengineer 11 hours ago 7 replies      
I almost never use credit cards. In the Netherlands they've got iDEAL http://ideal.nl/?s=&lang=eng-GB (online payment through your own bank). Why use Cedit Cards at all?

Then again, I hate living on credit as do most of my countrymen. I am amazed people would lend to buy a new car. If you can't afford it buy a cheaper model or one that's got more miles (or years) on it.

fredley 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Good article, but the last paragraph had me scratching my head. $250 for a YouTube channel subscription that notifies you with an email? If I'd paid $250 for that I'd be pissed off.
fallenhitokiri 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Processing money should be something you consider at some point, but what I am missing is a mention that this is coupled to your target market.

In Germany many businesses (assuming you are working on some SaaS / B2B / ...) would look at you like you just talked Klingon if you tell them you only accept credit cards. Sad truths is that most smaller companies do not even think about having credit cards. There is slowly some change, form what I have experienced, mostly due to older CEOs and business owners being replaced by a younger generation but overall credit cards are not as common here as in America.

On the other hand I currently looked at some providers for credit card processoring (currently working on a project where it could become necessary). Most of the services seem to require your company to be in America or England, most won't work in Germany. So maybe I skip credit cards for the beginning and chose to go with something else (just hypothetical) - does this mean I do not have a product? Because I only support 5 out of 6 possible payment options?

Then there is still the option of in app purchases. For most apps which are "just an app" I believe they will work way better. No need for another service, no separate website or member area, nothing to care about but integrate an existing system which is designed to move money from a customer as fast and easy as possible to you (and a middle man).

The author is right that you should think about payment processing while working on a product - but processing credit cards is not the holy grail.

tesmar2 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I hear people keep recommending Stripe, but almost everyone I talk to here in Raleigh, NC says that it is way too expensive. Any thoughts? What is the best alternative that happens to be cheaper?
jabo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A pretty popular venture-backed SaaS company didn't have automated payment processing until very recently. If you ask me, if you're dealing with other businesses and your product solves their business need, it really doesn't matter if you don't have a payment system as your MVP.
armandososa 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a problem I have. I always have ideas for this weekend projects that could bring some extra-money but I always get discouraged because, living in MĂ©xico, there's no easy way to process credit card payments. PayPal IPN is everything we have and it kinda sucks.
ctek 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I was working on my niche web app, http://www.pageblox.com for many months and was at times (when feeling overly optimistic) extremely delusional about how much I would make when I turned on payments. The truth is, you have _no idea_ what your conversion rates will be until you actually turn on payment processing. I thought it would be around 2% but in fact was less than .1%

Even though I only made $95 my first month (a lot less then what I had hoped) I now have a clear idea of where I stand and what needs to be improved and tweaked. It'll be a slow and at times painful process (SEO, A/B testing, blog posts, re-design, features) to make the profitability worth all the hours put in so far...

programminggeek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea here is right on. It's like if you build a free app on the app store and you don't have ads or in app purchase. That isn't a MVP, it's a hobby. Things change when you start charging money for what you're doing.

A business is likely not a business if they aren't charging someone for something. Instead it might just be an organization that builds things, but for better or worse a business is something that is created to make money. If you don't like that idea, you shouldn't be "in business".

dvncan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
that font is awful.
ltcoleman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry, but this post completely lost me. Are we complaining about credit card processing? Are we talking about when to ask for payment for creative work? What are we talking about?
Senator Wyden lays out “digital freedom” agenda at CES arstechnica.com
21 points by iProject  4 hours ago   3 comments top
tptacek 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The CISPA cybersecurity bill received strong support from both parties in the House, and Wyden said today that he was one of only a few Democrats in the Senate who opposed it.

CISPA is a "tell" that says "I oppose cybersecurity legislation without considering what it says". CISPA did not enable "government snoops" to access personal information. It enabled the government to share incident and attack data with private companies, and created a mechanism by which large service providers could share incident data with the government.

I like Wyden! I just wish he wouldn't make comments like this that make it seem like he's demagoguing. Any schmuck could figure out that there's a lot of very loud people on the Internet that will cheer on opposition to regulation of any sort. I'd like to think Wyden isn't just that!

FundersClub (YC S12) helps Soldsie recruit Chief Scientist techcrunch.com
33 points by mittal  6 hours ago   1 comment top
jeffwass 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nice one, FundersClub.

Good to see the benefits FC brings to their startup clients extending beyond just capital sourcing.

There's also a great quote from the TechCrunch author, affirming FC's investment model and clarifying doubts he had just 3 months ago : "I raised questions about whether FundersClub was operating illegally as an unregistered broker-dealer, but after speaking with its legal team, I'm convinced it's in the clear."

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