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Domain Knowledge or a Lack Thereof jacquesmattheij.com
45 points by ajhai  1 hour ago   15 comments top 6
gcv 48 minutes ago 4 replies      
Ah yes, the tragedy of studying computing to the exclusion of everything else. Graduates with computer science degrees have an in-depth understanding of... text editors. And maybe compilers, databases, and operating systems " all items of zero value until they are applied to solving some real problems in some other field. Problems which the computer science graduate knows nothing about.

Then these graduates go into the working world, and they typically can't help solve problems in economics, physics, applied mathematics, or medicine except by coding up some system to someone else's specs. The more dedicated ones make an effort to understand what they're doing. They exceedingly rare, gifted, and motivated ones might learn enough about an industry to make real contributions.

I hope that our field eventually evolves to the point that programming skill becomes an accessory. People will then learn to program just like they learn to write, and use the craft to help them solve their actual problems. The profession of programmers who only know how to program should disappear like the profession of scribes who only know how to write.

kevingadd 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The lack of this kind of domain knowledge - either from being unwilling to go find it, or not being given the time and the resources to do so - is a big problem for tools development in games. People doing the scheduling and planning tend to assume that if you put enough smart programmers in a room and give them detailed specifications, they'll be able to solve all the problems faced by some artists and writers in another room, even though they don't know anything about art or writing. Sometimes this results in the kind of obvious mistakes that you might otherwise assume only happen when you're writing software for the government.

In a sense it's kind of sad: In building traditional software, understanding the customer is one of the hardest steps because you can't simply walk over and observe them going about their daily work, or ask them questions on a regular basis to understand their issues - you're separated from them by a sales process and probably some automated support tickets and a PR guy who won't let you have open discussion in public. People building tools for game development can have their customers sitting a few desks away!

kenkam 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
This particularly resonates with me. I have been working in a bank as a graduate developer for the last year and a half, getting by without much care about how instruments are priced, traded, recorded, audited, etc. To me, I was moving a button around and colouring things using WPF. To me, the "Yield" column was just another column with numbers that were supposed to be 2 decimal places and turns red if negative. All the while I was dreaming I wished I worked at Google on 'technology'.

Which, in hindsight, was a little misguided. There is so much value in learning and understanding the domain in which we are working in because it makes us so much more effective. The realisation came when I became frustrated in meetings where we would discuss ideas on financial models and I could not add any value to the discussion.

I then imagined working at a company like Google, let's say, doing stuff I wouldn't normally be interested in. Would I bother learning the domain knowledge? I couldn't say yes with 100% conviction.

I love programming but I also want to be effective in what I do. To me now, understanding the problems we are solving is probably just as important as writing maintainable code.

Nursie 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Actually I think domain knowledge is overrated. A good hacker can pick up the domain knowledge needed to contribute to a project very quickly.

Now, if you're designing a product to solve a problem in a particular domain you need the knowledge ahead of time, sure. But if you're a shit-hot coder and a fast learner, brought in to make things work, who cares?

alemhnan 37 minutes ago 1 reply      
My take is that one of the main improvements in programming languages will be to reduce the gap between domain experts and programming experts.

Now we should face three cases:
1) the programmer needs to learn the domain;
2) the domain expert needs to know how to develop;
3) something in between.

Most of developing is done in 1). There are some brilliant cases of 2). I once talked with a biologist doing some multi sequence alignment that told me that some routine in C was quite slow and was far better rewrite that routine from scratch in assembly. I was quite speechless.

In order to create better programming languages we could:
1) express domains in a better way. Actually, just be able to express domains would be really cool (and not so easy).
2) provide higher levels of abstraction.

kayoone 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I am currently working on a web software project in the medical/health space. Of course its really good to know how the people that use the software work and what they expect and i am eager to learn those things, but i will not dive into a sector i am not really interested and absorb any and all information i can find, since i probably wont need it for the next project and it personally does not interest me a lot.

For technical domain knowledge i agree, but it also happens that this is often of personal interest to me anyway.

X86 MMU fault handling is turing complete github.com
326 points by mman  10 hours ago   35 comments top 10
tptacek 10 hours ago 3 replies      
This is more or less the greatest thing I've learned about in the last couple years.

What's happening here is that they're getting computation without executing any instructions, simply through the process of using the MMU hardware to "resolve addresses". The page directory system has been set up in such a way that address resolution effects a virtual machine that they can code to.

This works because when you attempt to resolve an invalid address, the CPU generates a trap (#PF), and the handling of that trap pushes information on the "stack". Each time you push data to the stack, you decrement the stack pointer. Eventually, the stack pointer underflows; when that happens, a different trap (#DF) fires. This mechanism put together gives you:

    if x < 4 { goto b } else { x = x - 4 ; goto a }

also known as "subtract and branch if less than or equal to zero", also known as "an instruction adequate to construct a one-instruction computer".

The virtual machine "runs" by generating an unending series of traps: in the "goto a" case, the result of translation is another address generating a trap. And so on.

The details of how this computer has "memory" and addresses instructions is even headachier. They're using the x86 TSS as "memory" and for technical reasons they get 16 slots (and thus instructions) to work with, but they have a compiler that builds arbitrary programs into 16-colored graphs to use those slots to express generic programs. Every emulator they could find crashes when they abuse the hardware task switching system this way.

Here's it running Conway's Life:


Here's their talk for a few months back:


The talk is great, but if you're not super interested in X86/X64 memory corruption countermeasures, you might want to skip the first 30 minutes.

jbangert 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Author here: While it is true that with the current implementation, memory access is extremely limited (essentially one DWORD per page, or about 0.1% of the available physical RAM) that limitation can certainly be avoided. For one, you could shift how the TSS is aligned (and align them differently for different instructions), multiplying your address space by a factor of 10 or so. Furthermore, you could also place another TSS somewhere in memory (only a few of the variables need to actually contain sane values) with an invalid EIP and use that as a 'load' instruction.

The easiest way however would be to use the TrapCC mechanism to transfer control between bits of normal assembler code (perhaps repurposed from other functions already in your kernel), doing something similar to ROP. Of course, for additional fun, feel free to throw in BX's Brainfuck interpreter in ELF and James Oakley's DWARF exception handler. We might drop a demo of this soon, i.e. implementing a self-decrypting binary via page faults.

networked 10 hours ago 0 replies      
>Move, Branch if Zero, Decrement

This is basically the canonical instruction for OISCs (one instruction set computers). Wikipedia describes it pretty well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_instruction_set_computer#S....

codex 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Another place for root kits to hide.
ars 5 hours ago 0 replies      
How fast (slow) is this relative to the host CPU?
traxtech 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That the hardware version of the brainfuck philosophy.
rocky1138 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really interesting. In a way, it's a form of computer self-replication. Could the virtual machine created by the computer be considered offspring?

Is there a way the virtual machine might spawn another virtual machine child of its own?

ithkuil 8 hours ago 0 replies      
if you like this kind of things there is also:


general_failure 9 hours ago 0 replies      
somebody checked in vim backup files :-)
Throwing and catching an inverted pendulum with quadrocopters robohub.org
456 points by eguizzo  13 hours ago   108 comments top 17
jawns 13 hours ago 12 replies      
I keep trying to think of practical implications for this technology, but every time I do, I just end up daydreaming about robot circuses.
ChuckMcM 13 hours ago 6 replies      
That is insanely cool. Quit your job and play with quadrocopters cool.

I'm surprised we've not seen larger versions of this platform for civilian use.

zacharydanger 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I couldn't figure out how the quadrocopters were coordinated. Turns out it's a high-speed motion capture. More here: http://www.flyingmachinearena.org/
tunesmith 10 hours ago 2 replies      
So, just get two larger quadrocopters and you could walk across a gorge. Each one would just catch each of your steps.
hemancuso 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Looking forward to when Amazon's warehouses are automated with quadrocopters.
Eliezer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Since this uses an explicit model of the world, Rodney-Brooks-style robotics is now officially dead.
tel 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Could anyone put together a rough curriculum for the control theory needed to understand something like this? It's absolutely fantastic.
borplk 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Imagine what kind of quadrocopters DARPA and similar agencies have these days.
jfoster 11 hours ago 0 replies      
TED talk that preceded this, featuring 3 quadcopters with a net and ball: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4IJXAVXgIo
IgorPartola 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Your comment made me giggle. I've never seen anything like what's in this video. Moreover, I haven't even thought of this as being an area of research. Your comment makes it sound like you've been sitting there waiting for the state of the art to advance to the point where you could have your own robotic jugglers. +1 to you for being a very specific visionary!
catilac 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel like a link has popped up on HN, but I can't find it.

Where can I buy a small quadrocopter which I can program, and build my own system with?

mikekij 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Holy crap, that's amazing. I'm excited when I can get MySQL started on my development machine.

Those are some smart dudes ( and / or ladies).

deadwait 2 hours ago 0 replies      
how did they get arnold for the commentary?
pointernil 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer", Neal Stephenson

just saying ;) ...

mauricio-OH 10 hours ago 0 replies      
0.65s of pure robotics awesomness...
davidradcliffe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
evo_9 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Congratulations - machines are one step closer to destroying the human race.
Song of github song-of-github.herokuapp.com
28 points by goddabuzz  2 hours ago   9 comments top 7
sdoering 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great idea, great thing to have fun with. And a great motivation, to contribute more in the future... ;-)
deanclatworthy 59 minutes ago 1 reply      
The song of bootstrap:

Very nice :)

deanclatworthy 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
I would suggest that for those people who don't contribute quite as often as big contributors, to change the pace inbetween large gaps so the song isn't just a note followed by 30s of nothing. But this is great!
seleucia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Just a musician can think that :)
basicallydan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely brilliant, well done.
varunrau 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I love it. So simple. So creative!
jQuery Learning Center jquery.com
18 points by franze  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
DigitalSea 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Finally. Where was this handy resource five years ago? Everything I learned about jQuery in the early days was from other developers, Resig's blog and through exploring the jQuery code itself and lots of trial and error. This is great, especially the articles I can see on the Widget factory which is something not a lot of jQuery users actually know exists and is extremely helpful for more complex plugins.
baby 19 minutes ago 1 reply      
Does it really need it? It feels to me that jQuery is simple enough.
Textmate and Sublime Text online theme editor tmtheme-editor.herokuapp.com
8 points by ohadron  51 minutes ago   1 comment top
adlpz 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nice! I can't wait to show it to my graphic designer coworker so he can make me a nice looking theme for Sublime. I just seem to suck at this :/
The Net Is a Waste of Time (1996) nytimes.com
199 points by mtrn  10 hours ago   53 comments top 14
jere 8 hours ago 3 replies      
The headline had me cringing in expectation for a brain dead article, but how stupid of me! It's fricking William Gibson. Almost everything he said in this article seems to be spot on, then and now.

In case you have any remaining worry that Gibson is some crotchety "get of my lawn" type, check him out on twitter. He is one the most prolific, bizarre, and interesting users I follow: https://twitter.com/GreatDismal Recent examples:

>Once saw fake Zippo lighters with Confederate flags with swastikas in Shinjuku. Mindless mashup getting it right anyway.

>I've had the tv-in-the-mirror in bathrooms of a few hotel rooms. Have never turned one on. Feels like bad sci-fi prop-design.

>Fellatio illegal in 11 states. Lawmakers afraid to risk being known ever after as "the blowjob senator", if they act to strike them down?

DavidAdams 9 hours ago 4 replies      
If you'll read to the last paragraph, you'll find Gibson's very profound conclusion: that the 1996 Web was the early "test pattern" for what he predicts will be a world-changing, but "less fun" medium. How right he was.
Tsagadai 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The winning quote: "[sic] surfing the Web is a procrastinator's dream. And people who see you doing it might even imagine you're working."

How many people are identifying with that premonition right this second?

wamatt 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That was a mostly prescient and enjoyable blast from the past. One thing though I was glad Gibson was wrong about:

>"It will probably evolve into something considerably less random, and less fun"

While his point was/is true of many systems and organizations, the internet is one example that has really outdone itself in terms of sustaining an unrelenting resistance towards a global monoculture.

Perhaps, like some older HN users here, when I go looking beyond the walled gardens of social networks, I feel just as fascinated by what I read today, as I did in the mid 90's.

Claudus 4 hours ago 1 reply      
William Gibson is a strange person. I remember him making a comment at a convention once where he said he was shocked at what computers looked like on the inside, he expected them to be weird crystalline contraptions.
jgh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
His book "Distrust That Particular Flavor" is full of his old articles, such as this one, and his thoughts on them after looking back at them in 2012. I really recommend it if you're into William Gibson at all.
phaus 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's actually pretty funny. I'm in the middle of writing a paper for my philosophy class, about Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture, and this is the first article I click on when I start slacking off.

The points Gibson makes about the importance of down time are almost the same as Josef Pieper's. I guess I'm still working on that paper after all.

mauricio-OH 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I love how things have changed so much but they remain exactly the same. We're still hooked - to our smartphones. We're still wondering what the experience will be in a few years. Just like he did. Awesome.
pshin45 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> The Web is new, and our response to it has not yet hardened. That is a large part of its appeal. It is something half-formed, growing. Larval. It is not what it was six months ago; in another six months it will be something else again. It was not planned; it simply happened, is happening. It is happening the way cities happened. It is a city.

I've always loved metaphors comparing the Internet to a growing city. The Web used to be a Wild West-style town that was ventured into only by the most daring of people and businesses, but it's now become a much more established and secure city, still full of possibilities, where everyone and their mother wants to move and try to make their fortune, but at the same time has lost a lot of its original "flavor" that made it so special.

And... I don't really know where I'm going with this...

mbubb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to reply with something like 'The NYTimes is a waste of time (2013)' - but that is a really good short piece.
coldtea 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Even more true in hindsight...
HunterV 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Wonder what headlines we'll make fun of in 17 years?
taproot 7 hours ago 1 reply      

Thats not something to be proud of..

alaskamiller 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's okay, kids these days are used to it. Just like how kids back then got used to radio, pulp, and television.
LaTeX Templates LaTeXTemplates.com
136 points by VelNZ  8 hours ago   41 comments top 10
alexholehouse 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I use LaTex for a lot of my note taking (for typesetting all equations certainly). When I first started using it, I remember the absolute horror of trying to get it to work with BibTex. The learning curve is relatively steep for non-programmers (I learnt it basically in parallel with learning to code) but it's certainly one of the most valuable tools I've learned and one I continually come back to for a huge range of projects. Certainly in an academic environment it continues to surprise me that everyone isn't taught LaTex in their first year of a PhD.
einhverfr 6 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the occasional arguments we've had in the LedgerSMB community is whether to ditch LaTeX. The arguments in favor have to do with UTF8 support and internationalization, and the fact that 'everybody knows alternatives!'

In the end we've opted to keep it because LaTeX is so good at doing what it does, and because our dependencies can be hacked to use XeTeX (for UTF-8 input) and so we are working to ensure that XeTeX support gets back upstream instead. Additionally for documentation LaTeX source is quite easy to read compared to the alternatives like DocBook, and LaTeX is also much more expressive.

Sooner or later I expect we will factor out our invoice logic into document classes and packages and try to get that on CTAN. Maybe then it will be worth putting many of our templates on a site like this one (this site even)

pseut 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a nitpick: I had to look at the source for "professional table" and was surprised to see the booktabs package used because, to quote their documentation

> You will not go far wrong if you remember two simple guidelines at all times:

> 1. Never, ever use vertical rules.

> 2. Never use double rules.

Violating half the 'nevers'!! But, more seriously, the documentation for some LaTeX packages is breathtakingly good (booktabs, amsmath, beamer, tikz, to name a few off the top of my head) and it would be really helpful if the site pointed newcomers to some of it. Especially in the case I mentioned, where the template is just a demonstration of one package.

primitur 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, the Tufte template is an excellent resource .. I am going to print it and put it right alongside the real Tufte's, its that good! :)

This collection is definitely going to make me use LaTeX one of these days. Of course, I've been saying that for decades now.

Tyr42 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I keep clicking the orange text below the share buttons, trying to get more info. I think it should be a link, to the same place as the title of the template links to.

I love it and I'm going to use the code template for my next assignment.

You have anything to draw DFAs?

joshuagross 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I found LaTeXTemplates just a little over a year ago when I was looking for (shockingly) LaTeX templates, and it was /the only/ resource with decent usable templates (in terms of source readability and having actually-pretty templates). I'm the CTO of SpanDeX.io and we jumped on site integration shortly after we launched, because LaTeXTemplates is badass. I see many of you have hit our site after checking out LaTeXTemplates, so I'm glad some of you find the gallery & the integrations useful! Cheers.
daemon13 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Is my understanding correct that LaTex can not handle UTF-8?
rbkillea 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I find writelatex.com to be immensely useful.
jlukecarlson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
love the site and 'What is LaTeX' and 'Why' are really informative for a beginner like myself
hahainternet 7 hours ago 1 reply      
If it was up an hour ago, it certainly isn't now.
184 year-old Indian library goes digital, including 444 yr-old book on Alexander nextbigwhat.com
101 points by jayadevan  7 hours ago   23 comments top 8
gulbrandr 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
You can easily download the books from here: http://statelibrary.kerala.gov.in/rarebooks/site_media/
hzay 6 hours ago 1 reply      
As a history amateur, it is painful to force myself never to probe into south indian history [of which I've heard so much, growing up there] simply because I've learned by experience that it only leads to frustration and disappointment at the lack of information and research. This work is incredible.
ChuckMcM 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The cynic in me wants to say, "Just wait until descendants of Alexander the Great sue you for copyright infringement."

I think this effort is great. I hope more and more history can be put on line and made accessible. I am a firm believer that knowing the past is the only way to know where you are going.

nodata 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what archival format the library is using?
rwbt 6 hours ago 3 replies      
While I commend them for digitizing, I'm somewhat disappointed that they are just scanned copies instead of selectable/searchable text. I wish they made them more accessible for reference by truly converting them to text.
bonchibuji 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hailing from Kerala, really happy to see this happening. This is indeed a great achievement, and hope there will be more initiatives of such kind which will help to bring together the vast amount of information scattered around in the sub continent.
tcbawo 5 hours ago 3 replies      

That's an odd way to represent a number.

ankit28595 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The city's name is Thiruvananthapuram not Trivandrum.
Unix system programming in OCaml ocamlcore.org
23 points by glazskunrukitis  3 hours ago   1 comment top
Piracy and Fraud Propelled the US Industrial Revolution bloomberg.com
29 points by nikcub  3 hours ago   5 comments top 5
codex 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think it has ever been disputed that piracy helps the pirates, as is confirmed by this article. I think most of the debate has centered around whether it helps society as a whole. In some ways the patent system discourages the industrial espionage described here by enforcing protection in return for disclosure, but could also be interpreted as the haves suppressing the have nots.
GHFigs 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
The history is interesting, but the author's attempt--in the first two sentences--to frame the whole thing as an instance of hypocrisy strikes me as flimsy. If you're trying to invalidate an argument, you can't rest your case on the observation that someone is saying "do as I say, not as I did". It doesn't work when you're a teenager arguing with your parents and it doesn't work when there's such a gleaming and contemporaneous counter-example sitting just a few degrees South of your present attention.


Surio 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This article seems like an excerpt/promo for the author's new book, which seems to be an interesting read,


and has garnered a few favourable reviews so far.

P.S: Is there a way to provide inline URL linking in HN threads that I am not aware of?

friendly_chap 3 hours ago 0 replies      
We already know the whole world is a creepy demagogue joke, do we? I find this article interesting, but extremely unsurprising.
Paul Graham and David Hornik on Bloomberg West [video] bloomberg.com
40 points by jcr  4 hours ago   2 comments top
rdl 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Bloomberg West is surprisingly good for a financial news program; the contrast with CNBC is striking. (although CNBC Asia was pretty good, as I recall, at least a few years ago)
After 14 years, GameSpy closes down gamespy.com
58 points by jacques_chester  6 hours ago   37 comments top 17
nikcub 2 hours ago 2 replies      
A bit of background. Ziff Davis (parent company J2 global, Nasdaq JCOM) purchased IGN[0] from News Corp. Of the major properties in the IGN group: IGN.com, AskMen, UGO.com, 1up.com etc. they are shutting down GameSpot, 1UP and UGO[1] and laying off a bunch of people in the remainder of the business.

In the media world most people associate 'online' with efficient, and this demonstrates that it isn't necessarily true. There is still a lot of competitive pressure if all you are doing is running a fat organization and replacing paper with a web server.

Ziff apparently only paid $100M for the business[2] (News paid $600M+ only years ago) and IGN has 53 million unique visitors (in a high yield demographic - young males) across their properties, yet they couldn't make the business model work. Demonstrates just how 'thin' the new media businesses have to become in order to survive and the challenge that old media companies are facing.

[0] http://investor.j2global.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=737...

[1] http://kotaku.com/5986027/ziff-davis-shuts-1up-gamespy-and-u...

[2] http://pandodaily.com/2013/02/01/sources-ziff-davis-is-close...

seanmcdirmid 3 hours ago 0 replies      
RIP GameSpy. I owe a lot of my interest in programming languages to an essay I read in 2000 on GameSpy back when they were much cooler and had a "dev week;" the author was some guest writer named Tim Sweeney, illustrated by some outfit called "penny arcade;" alas its not hosted by GameSpy anymore but, thank gosh for time machines:


jschuur 1 hour ago 0 replies      
FYI, there's 2 parts to the GameSpy brand. IGN sold the technology group, behind in-game online middleware used by over 1,000 games (including BF 1942 e.g.) to GLU Mobile last year:


What's being shut down here is the editorial GameSpy.com site.

ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would be more sympathetic if I hadn't had several magazines gutted in exactly this same way by Ziff Davis. Buy the competition, kill it off, more for your 'main' brand. I still miss Modern Electronics and Radio Electronics.

Same story to "Sure its making a profit, it just isn't profitable enough." Sigh.

Nursie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I still remember QSpy, and its text-mode linux version. I wasted so many happy days in QuakeWorld because of that little program.

Happy days.


andrewguenther 5 hours ago 1 reply      
My reaction: Thank god.

GameSpy has been a plague to the gaming experience since its inception.

belorn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I old icon of the industry, but it feels like they shoot themselves in the foot when they took down daily victim from their site years ago.
jacques_chester 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a bug with how their page is served. If you go through and see this:


Just refresh and you'll see the story.

jonny_eh 5 hours ago 2 replies      
So how am I going to find Quake servers to connect to now?
justjimmy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Happy Puppy -> GameSpy -> ???

Guess time to check out IGN unless anyone have other suggestions.

kkt262 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the games industry doing a lot worse? I read this article: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/02/22/ign-layoffs-and-sayin...

Although they don't say it outright, it strongly implies that the game industry is not as profitable as it once was.

I haven't been a gamer for years, so it's shocking that these sites/publications are shutting down.

Can someone enlighten me as far as what's going on in the gaming industry?

asaramis 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Captures the entire problem with the news industry right now: "Why is this closure happening, then? It's a business thing, and like most business things it's not easy to explain or understand unless you spend all day crunching numbers and paying bills. Which I don't."
ivzar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Awww. I grew up on GameSpy. Best of luck to the staff in their future endeavors.
luckyjohn7 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Really sad to see the gamespy brand come to an end, 12 years ago the GameSpy desktop application was revolutionary for connecting with friends on servers and finding the best gaming opportunities.


wittekm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this just GameSpy the gaming website (eugh) or GameSpy's server browser (also eugh, but it serves a purpose in life)?
BF1942 and Quake and a couple other older games used it.
girvo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
No! I remember using GameSpy to tee-up games with my friends. It was a great program. I also loved The All-Seeing Eye, was also brilliant but had less features. Such a shame.
zobzu 3 hours ago 0 replies      
or the short version "u no make enough money byebye" ;-)
The economics of the film industry are changing. economist.com
6 points by denzil_correa  1 hour ago   1 comment top
kevin_morrill 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
I changed how I think think about movies after talking with a marketing rep at a studio. Imagine you were launching a new software startup every single week, and all the brand equity you built up before resets to zero each time. All of a sudden you'd throw out any film purist sense about you and be looking for tricks to prevent this, namely sequels, marketing on stars or director reputation, etc.
Exploring the Abandoned Macy's Midwest Headquarters philipithomas.com
107 points by philip1209  10 hours ago   39 comments top 16
windexh8er 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Urban exploration should be defined as the draw to a romanticized past of the, generally, modern forgotten. A few months ago I fell down the rabbit hole of looking into this within the Minneapolis area and ran across: http://www.actionsquad.org/index.html

Warning: I got so caught up in exploring what's been explored I spent over 4 hours of a Friday night engulfed in the secrets hidden in plain sight of somewhere I've lived for 10 years.

While not maintained as of recent the archives are a blast and I made me long for a small, yet trustworthy group of people willing to put some time and effort into continuing the legacy. Then again, sometimes the dream is far more entertainment than the reality...

bane 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Most of the abandoned structures I've seen photos of are standalone, the fact that this is still part of a functioning building is very interesting.

It makes me wonder how many other interesting abandoned "structures" fill up floors of Manhattan skyscrapers for example.

enraged_camel 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Because there is a functioning Macy's mall on the first few floors, they still play mall music. However, they never disconnected the upper floors from the PA system, so music still plays through these floors 24 hours a day.

Wow. Eerie as hell.

The main thing on my mind as I was going through the pictures and their descriptions was, "this is what everything is going to look like after World War 3. Except with more dust, ash and perhaps dead bodies."

andyjohnson0 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Because there is a functioning Macy's mall on the first few floors, they still play mall music. However, they never disconnected the upper floors from the PA system, so music still plays through these floors 24 hours a day."

J G Ballard would have loved this place.

peterhajas 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Very cool.

I noticed (especially on the linked-in-another-comment detroiturbex) that there are tons of abandoned offices, buildings, libraries and schools in America. Who owns these? How difficult would it be to purchase one, and how expensive? It would be cool to live in one of these (with power and running water, of course) and have freight elevators, PA systems and escalators in your home.

agent86 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always found this stuff to be interesting on a variety of levels. What happens when maintenance stops? What state did they leave things? In the cases where you have before and after shots - or multiple visits spread out over a long time - it can be even more interesting to see how things turn out.

If anyone else wants to see more of this kind of thing, I've spent a lot of time looking at places on the Detroit Urbex site.


I'm sure there are some other good explorations out there, and I hope this thread turns up a couple other hidden gems that don't pop right up on a Google search.

dylanhassinger 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey St. Louis'ers - The T-REx is also home to our local startup meetup group. Once a month we have a kickass St. Louis entrepreneur come out and share their story. Usually we have 40-60 folks turn out, hope you can join us sometime!


justjimmy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested in exploration of this kind, recommend checking out http://www.uer.ca/

Nice big database of spots. There are certain guidelines and unwritten rules, so try not to spoil it for everyone else.

Personally, the 2 on the top of my need-to-checkout-list for UE is Pripyat and the catacombs beneath Paris.

I've never felt more alone (as if I'm the only person left) when exploring long abandoned locations at night.

rmason 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In Detroit we call it ruin porn and unfortunately it forms outsiders image of the entire city which is tragically wrong. You can spend entire weeks on the web exploring, there's even Europeans who have visited and created sites with thousands of images.

Here's a few:



If anyone is interested the DetroitTurbex group runs tours.

lanstein 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Of everything, this goes uninvestigated??

"A microphone for the PA system. Some of them still work, and we assume that they still play in the main (functioning) mall."

hyperberry 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow- Lemme say first I didn't think there were many St. Louisans on HN. Thanks for sharing a bit about our growing startup community.

I've been in that building plenty of times- most recently for startup events- and the lobby + 13th floors definitely have a languished feel to them (12th floor has been better refurbished and has a lot more activity). I had absolutely no idea, though, the rest of building was so empty.

Quite a bit different from my childhood: that was the flagship downtown Famous-Barr department store . . . where they decorated the window displays every Christmas . . . getting nostalgic here.

*Ever been in the WU tunnels (not just the big one between Duncker & January halls)? Pretty expansive system right under students feet that most have no idea about :)

Uchikoma 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Feels like Bioshock.
100k 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Minneapolis has a similar building, formerly a Sears warehouse and retail store, now known as the Midtown Exchange. It houses retail, a hospital, a DMV office, apartments and condos.


I believe it was the largest building by square footage in the state until the Mall of America opened.

gee_totes 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised they left the mannequins behind; those things are worth money.
smackfu 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What does "Macy's mall" mean here? Is it a mall or is it just a big Macy's?
nsoun 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Hello Amnesia.
Zendesk was hacked zendesk.com
83 points by tedivm  9 hours ago   43 comments top 13
cing 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's the email from Tumblr:

For the last 2.5 years, we've used a popular service called Zendesk to store, organize, and answer emails to Tumblr Support. We've learned that a security breach at Zendesk has affected Tumblr and two other companies. We are sending this notification to all email addresses that we believe may have been affected by this breach.

This has potentially exposed records of subject lines and, in some cases, email addresses of messages sent to Tumblr Support. While much of this information is innocuous, please take some time today to consider the following:

The subject lines of your emails to Tumblr Support may have included the address of your blog which could potentially allow your blog to be unwillingly associated with your email address.
Any other information included in the subject lines of emails you've sent to Tumblr Support may be exposed. We recommend you review any correspondence you've addressed to support@tumblr.com, abuse@tumblr.com, dmca@tumblr.com, legal@tumblr.com, enquiries@tumblr.com, or lawenforcement@tumblr.com.
Tumblr will never ask you for your password by email. Emails are easy to fake, and you should be suspicious of unexpected emails you receive.

Your safety is our highest priority. We're working with law enforcement and Zendesk to better understand this attack. Please monitor your email and Tumblr accounts for suspicious behavior, and notify us immediately if you have any concerns.

lawnchair_larry 7 hours ago 1 reply      
First, thanks for disclosing this.

Second - and any incident response team will tell you this - patching and removing the backdoor is not enough. You have to wipe that machine.

It's not uncommon for an attacker to leave multiple backdoors. Even if you don't think they got root, you have to wipe it completely.

jcoder 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"As soon as we learned of the attack, we patched the vulnerability and closed the access that the hacker had."

Ok, so striking out so far. The machine is still running? With the same software (patched) and user accounts? How do you know only 3 users were exposed?

DanBlake 7 hours ago 1 reply      
CPanel was also hacked which is a way bigger deal imo- Led to thousands(!) of other server compromises:


codenerdz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Given Zendesk is a Rails shop, Id love to hear if this hack was related to any of the recent Rails exploits
tomhallett 7 hours ago 3 replies      
If you have a mid-sized Rails app, with say 2-3 developers working on it, a full time security engineer would probably be overkill. Anyone have any recommendations of services/consultancies to be able to tell "oh, someone is hacking us right now" or "our page which has stripe.js on it has been compromised"?

I'm hoping for automated tools, services to install on our servers, or security auditors who have an out of the box package.

This is the only automated tool I know about: http://brakemanscanner.org/

TheOnly92 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Apparently the 3 customers are Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.


Argorak 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I cannot access the page from germany: it immediately redirects me to the (german) front page. (Firefox 19, german edition)
emptyage 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The three companies were Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/?p=54338
tstactplsignore 7 hours ago 2 replies      
From the perspective of a complete server administrator novice, are all of the mainstream "hacks" due to the complexity of these applications? For example, if I were to setup a basic, updated Ubuntu Server LAMP stack with a MySQL database, is this system vulnerable? I understand how to protect against XSS and SQL injection and how to hash and salt passwords properly, but where can I begin to learn about implementing basic, hard server security? Additionally, how can I hope to secure my web app if corporations with entire security departments are failing to secure theirs?
tomjen3 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody knows a good alternative?

Leaking my personal info is one thing, loosing customers personal info is simply far too boneheaded to begin with.

businessleads 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Wow, all three customers?
OGinparadise 5 hours ago 1 reply      
All kinds of sites, some supposedly super-secure, have been hacked.

Now a serious question: What does this say for storing everything, including tax filings, in the Cloud?

The Department of Homeland Security Stole My Boat Today uncrunched.com
226 points by shill  7 hours ago   164 comments top 36
javajosh 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Ah, procedure. I'm particularly fond of situations like this where the procedure is, for the normal person, a once-in-a-lifetime event. But the flunky on the other side of the desk does it every day. And they think you are yet another stupid person who doesn't understand the simple procedure, and they have nothing but contempt for those who don't understand the procedure as deeply as they do (especially which parts of the paperwork are important, and which really are not.)

Nestled deep within this fucked up situation is an asymmetry of information that gives the flunky incredible power over someone who is, in almost every other context, perceived to be better than they are (especially in this case involving a young rich kid with an expensive toy). Most human beings, when confronted with such an imbalance of power, are not going to be able to resist abusing their power.

In practical terms, there are only two solutions to this problem that I know of. You can learn the procedure better than they do, and beat them on details. This can be effective, but it's boring and the payoff isn't very good. The other solution is to be really, really nice. To be incredibly accommodating. To engender a spirit of goodwill, joviality and kindness such that the flunky wants to help you. CHP officers call this the "personality test" - and they administer it every time you get pulled over, BTW.

It sucks. It's a form of psychic bribery. It's like they are saying, "If you can at least pretend that I'm a good person, just doing my job, then you won't have to suffer. However, if you annoy me, disrespect me, I will make you suffer like you've never known. Remember: I can check a box that will consume months of your life and untold amounts of treasure."

God bless the USA.

edw519 6 hours ago 3 replies      
It'll end by me bending over at some point.

Karma for this: http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-asking-for-hel...

sivers 7 hours ago 6 replies      
A guy I know was in a similar situation when trying to enter Australia.

20+ years ago, when he was 18, he was arrested for the afternoon because of a student protest.

So now on the visa forms, when entering Australia on vacation, he was asked if he had ever been arrested.

He checked yes. The border control people in Australia denied him entry, and put him on the next plane back home.

When he told the border guy the full situation, the border guy said, "Next time, just check NO."

Then, this interesting quote: "You give us the papers we want. We give you the papers you want."

Meaning: make the papers (visa forms) look the way we want them to look, and we'll give you the papers (tourist visa) you want.

I remember that rule of thumb when crossing borders, or filling out paperwork to open a new bank account in a foreign country. Luckily, I've never had to lie, but it sure helps to make the forms look the way they want them to look, instead of treating them as an opportunity to express your individual quirks.

pg 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There seem to be so many stories of this type. E.g. yesterday


9/11 seems to have given a big swathe of people in the US the ability to do outrageous things more or less at will. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be one of its most damaging consequences.

robomartin 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Hiring a lawyer will get your boat back. It will not fix the problem.

The problem is too much government.

Perhaps you should consider this:


We don't need to eliminate government, of course. Someone still has to throw parties for foreign dignitaries and say stupid shit on TV. We do need to trim it down to the bone and get it out of our daily lives. You just had a run-in with the "Gestapo" society we are building-up to. Thugs with badges and guns. Great stuff. That's exactly what I want the future to be in for my kids. Right.

I mean, think about it for a moment. You are buying a boat from Canada. Why should government be involved in any way whatsoever? Are you really free? You can't even go fishing to feed your family without asking for permission from the government in the form of a fishing license. Think about THAT for a moment. Our ancestors were able to fish and hunt to feed themselves, their families and communities as needed. Today, if you are caught fishing without a license ANYWHERE, you can be arrested and fined. I've seen guys with guns board group fishing boats here in California to check for fishing licenses. Imagine that image in my kid's mind: Fishing with Dad and guys with uniforms and guns interrupt the experience to ask for papers. Pretty cool setup we have, ey?

Reminds me of a story from when I was a child. We were traveling in Argentina. My Dad got pulled over by a cop at this checkpoint between Ezeiza (International Airport) and Buenos Aires. The cop asked for papers and took his time checking them out. Another cop came out of the booth. He, menacingly, looked inside the car were my Mom, Sister and I were. The first cop asked my Dad to get out of the car. They walked around the car looking for problems. The car was perfect. Then he said something like "We need to go in the office for you to pay your fine". I'm sure my Dad though "WTF, over?". He, politely, asked: "What's the problem officer". Without blinking the copy replied: "You were driving with one hand".

They went inside and my Dad, effectively, had to bribe them. It was a first class shake-down.

Here's what's funny: This was a Fiat 128 with a manual transmission. And, it would be my guess that the vast majority of cars in Argentina at the time had manual transmissions. There was no law about having to have both hands on the wheel at the same time, but, even if that law existed, you'd have to violate it for a fraction of a second every time you shift the transmission.

Next time you vote, think about who you are voting for and what they really stand for. Think beyond you and do the generations to come a favor by reducing government to the most essential functions we need and nothing more.

homosaur 7 hours ago 3 replies      
DHS honestly makes me embarrassed to be an American. We could kill the whole thing tomorrow and it would make zero difference to public safety.
harrylove 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The boat in question[1] would appear to be a Coastal Craft 400 IPS[2]. Roughly, $1M CAD (roughly, $1M USD at today's rate). I don't have that kind of money lying around for anything, much less a boat, but I suppose I'd be a little pissed myself if all of it was in the hands of someone else due to red tape.

1. https://twitter.com/BrianKrantz/status/279015063661199360/ph...

2. http://coastalcraft.com/coastal-craft-400-ips/boat-specs-400...

jimrandomh 7 hours ago 2 replies      
If you refuse to sign a form because it has an error on it, it's your problem. If that form is what enables you to take custody of a boat, then you don't get to take custody of the boat. On the other hand, if the form that you signed has handwritten errata on it near the signature, and you weren't sneaky about it, then it's the bureacrats' problem instead of yours.
GiraffeNecktie 6 hours ago 3 replies      
No, DHS did not "steal" your boat. They confiscated it and you'll get it back by following some lengthy and convoluted appeal process.

But I seriously don't understand Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and why they have to be such utter dickheads on the Canadian border. Their Canadian counterparts (CBSA) are just as effective and efficient and somehow manage to be generally sane and rational.

oasisbob 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Something vaguely similar happened to me once while registering a new scooter. Because it was shipped to me directly, it had less than a mile on the odometer. (Less than half a km even, if memory serves.)

Under penalty of perjury, I had to declare the odometer to the nearest mile, but the system wouldn't accept zero for the mileage.

After 40 minutes of trying to sort it out with a supervisor, I muttered something about forgetting the km-to-miles conversion, amended the mileage to one, and was on my way.

pasbesoin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It appears that agent solicited, and advised, you (the story's author) to falsify information. I don't know what weight that would carry with respect to this form, but were you to have initiated such falsification, I imagine it might or would have been construed to be some level of criminal activity.

So... did this agent solicit, advise you to commit a crime? If so, will this agent face repercussions for her actions?

Perhaps it's "not serious". Except that you sought to correct the information, to make the situation fully compliant, and she appears to have used her position to punish you for this.

I would also question why she was so eager. Are their incentives for agents, and perhaps financial incentives for the agency(s) involved, to pursue such seizures?

I guess, were I in your shoes, I'd be hesitant to further buck the might and potential maliciousness of the U.S. government. However, from my perspective, I would very much like a public airing and answers to these questions.

einhverfr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that I have learned is that every encounter with law enforcement (and that includes customs) is governed by power relationships.

One simple example: If I am pulled over for speeding, I find I am far less likely to get a ticket if I put myself in control over the interaction. I make sure I greet the officer first and ask what I can do to help. This puts me in a position of being outwardly subservient but the officer is no longer in control over the conversation. Moreover, I am doing so in a way which is emphasizing that I am not a threat and so the officer has few options to escalate a power struggle.

Here, this is all about power. "Sign this form because I have the power to make your life miserable if you don't." We believe in honesty and rule of law, but when it comes down to it, at least the latter is nothing more than a convenient fiction and efforts to make it a reality end up making it less of one.

I am here in Indonesia at the moment and the big breakthrough for me was that as corrupt as everything is over here, it functions more or less the same way it does in the US, with just surface differences.

raintrees 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The form is being treated as a contract, and like all contracts I am requested to sign, I would line through and correct them as needed, then sign. If the other party will not allow the amendments, then we go to the next step, but in the mean time, the contract was made factually correct.

I did this with my girlfriend (now wife) on our first rental contract and was amused by her shock at my changing the "official" forms.

Likewise, forms with blanks that in no way allow for the information to be printed into the space given get writing that extends across whatever needed to supply the correct answers. Maybe the form will eventually be updated to be a little more accommodating, maybe not.

marknutter 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest, and in my opinion, terrifying problem with bureaucracies is the lack of humanity; when humans stop treating each other like humans and use common sense, yet I feel like both parties in this story lacked humanity. Yes, the DHS employee went ahead and followed procedure even though it was going to seriously inconvenience Arrington, and that sucks. But Arrington's pedantry also inconvenienced the employee since it no doubt would have let to a long string of seldom used contingencies, much like making a fast food employee make you a special request. There was a moment where both parties could have just looked at the system for what it was - imperfect and inhuman - and knowingly nodded in agreement at the path of least resistance; in this case, the path of least resistance was Arrington signing the damn form and getting on with his day.

Sure, technically he saw the error and his signing the form would mean he was somehow not acknowledging it. But what are the consequences really going to be? I mean, what are the chances some other bureaucrat up the chain o' command would notice the mistake and contact Arrington on trumped up charges of lying on a routine customs form. Slim to nil. But it's the "principle" Arrington is worried about in this case. Well, there's principled, and there's downright ridiculous. I doubt Arrington reads every TOS on every website he's ever signed up for, and I doubt very much he would truly lose sleep at night knowing he signed that form.

Arrington tried to out bureaucrat a bureaucrat and go burned. Lessoned learned, I suppose.

charlieok 5 hours ago 0 replies      
“What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her.”

I am inclined to believe this. Ugh. Makes me mad.

jacques_chester 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Some tactics that may or may not work depending on jurisdiction and circumstances:

1. Mark the correction on the form. Sign underneath the correction, or mark with your initials, in addition to the correct place to sign.

2. When signing, write "Under Duress" underneath.


antidaily 6 hours ago 3 replies      
They say you're better off taking the cash you'd pay for a boat and just throwing it into the ocean.
yukoncornelius 7 hours ago 8 replies      
If this story went down exactly as Mike suggests the agent will lose her job or at least her federal law enforcement qualification.

On the other hand, Mike is pleading his case in the court of public opinion, and his reputation is likely going to get him a lot of popular support either warranted or unwarranted.

justlearning 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"So now I have to hire a lawyer to try to figure all this out."

forgive my ignorance, but isn't Arrington a lawyer?. Question - Why does a lawyer need to hire another lawyer to represent him? Although, there are several branches of law specialization, Arrington could take it on himself to file the case against DHS? no?

"I live a fairly simple life and that didn't change much after I sold TechCrunch in 2010" - yeah we all know.

duck 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of a situation Richard Stallman was involved in while visiting a doctor's office:
damian2000 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of when I was on holiday once, riding a motorbike around Indonesia. The traffic police there are sometimes stationed at busy intersections and are known to pick on tourists for any minor infringement.

He told me I left without waiting for the green light. Nevermind that everyone else on the road including cars did the same thing. I had two choices - pay a "fine" (i.e. bribe), or have my motorbike seized on the spot.

It felt wrong but I paid the fine. After I paid the guy was apologetic and insisted on shaking my hand.

fjarlq 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Barry Schwartz laments the same kind of problem in his TED talk:


chmike 5 hours ago 2 replies      
They didn't stole the boat, they seized it. Not wanting to sign an erroneous legal document is respectable, calling the DHS stealers is clearly not. Don't be surprize if they won't cooperate to solve the matter ASAP.
philwelch 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Exactly which branch of DHS did this? I don't think the department itself has agents, it's just an umbrella for other agencies.
schiang 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when an employee KNOWS he/she can't be fired. The USA needs to seriously look at how they handle government employees. They get away with too much bs because it's hard for them to get fired.
Pinatubo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, somewhere else out there in the blogosphere, someone is telling a story about some arrogant rich jerk who pitched a fit when asked to sign a form to bring his fancy new boat across the border.
huhsamovar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So, the error wasn't amended and the form wasn't signed. Now you have to put up with the law. If the agent said they didn't care about the error, surely the correct course of action would be to correct it and sign it.

Am I missing something?

lubujackson 7 hours ago 3 replies      
WTF does this have to do with tech news, in any way?
tylerlh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like Mike had a pretty crappy day. Interested in seeing how this unfolds.
fcatalan 5 hours ago 1 reply      
They say a boat will make you happy just twice: The day you get it and the day you get rid of it. This boat truly seems a complete failure.
Rain_maker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Would Google Glass be able to solve this type of issues???
riggins 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why the founders wrote a constitution circumscribing the powers of government.

This is man bites dog. Person in power (cop, bouncer, immigration officer, DHS, whatever) abuses power. It's as typical as it gets.

dev360 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The revolution will not be televised.
mindcrime 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a pretty big difference between government seizure and stealing.

There is? Coulda fooled me. If an individual took your boat without your permission, it's stealing. How is it different just because a large group of individuals got together and did it? Just because they give themselves fancy names like "government" and "State" and "DHS" doesn't mean they actually have any authority to take your property.

I'm reminded of what Bastiat said in The Law[1]:

Every individual has the right to use force for lawful self-defense. It is for this reason that the collective force " which is only the organized combination of the individual forces " may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it cannot be used legitimately for any other purpose.

Personally I think he hit the nail right on the head.

[1]: http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html

Edit: OK, please don't upvote this. It doesn't deserve it, and it doesn't even really belong on HN at all. Neither does this article, really. I just realized that I let myself get drawn into a politics discussion by an inflammatory post, and I regret it. I mean, I stand by what I said, this just isn't really the place for it.

gdg92989 5 hours ago 0 replies      
2 + 2 = 5
Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year? bloomberg.com
115 points by lisper  11 hours ago   61 comments top 18
calhoun137 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I love that we get these political discussions on hacker news, but I sometimes wish we as a community would spend as much time thinking about politics as we do thinking about programming and science.

Big banks function very much as part of the government, in many ways the big banks determine government policy, certainly to a much greater extent than popular opinion does. There are many forms of this public-private merging of government. To take just one aspect, consider the revolving door whereby bank executives go between their banks and government jobs and back again: to just pick one example virtually at random, obamas chief of staff is a "former" citi group executive. I wonder, if a bank executive goes to washington for a little while, do they even notice that they changed jobs?

This article explains that the big banks wouldn't even be profitable without massive tax payer support, here is a choice quote from the article which really drives home how intense the stranglehold banks have over government policy:

"Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts."

Some people wonder what could be done about such a situation. The sad truth is that there are already an overwhelming number of ideas that are floating around that have already been demonstrated to work (see iceland). The problem is not coming up with a good idea, the problem is how to implement one of the many good ideas which have already been proven to work.

The crux of the matter is that only the power of a strong federal government can take on the even more powerful too big too fail banks. The only way political change happens is when people get organized, and the american political system gives us a lot of freedoms. If you live and a free country and abstain from participating in politics, then in my opinion you have abdicated your responsibility as a citizen.

rayiner 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting article, and it should be noted that while it's in the opinions section, it is an editorial by the editors. See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/bloomberg-view-to-b...

It's not some random HuffPo piece...

That said, the "profitability" of the big banks is somewhat irrelevant. JP Morgan, Goldman, etc, evolved out of partnerships, where all the profits went to the partners. To this day, the banks pay out most of their revenues as compensation. "Profits" are what's left after all that.

JamisonM 8 hours ago 5 replies      
This analysis is a bit disingenuous, from the article: "The larger they are.. the result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail."

As an implicit subsidy it is not as if there the 83 billion dollars that can be "taken away" from the banks and used for other purposes. The implicit government guarantee has value but if you can not find a way to recover that value in some other way when taking it away from the banks you would just be robbing the economy of that growth.

That being said it seems like the way to remedy this would be to use a tax mechanism that can measure this subsidy and extract it from the banks in a manner that is fair to bank investors and citizens.

digitalengineer 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think Elisabeth Warren said it best when she asked "The Most Obvious Question Ever And Stumps A Bunch Of Bank Regulators" She asks federal bank regulators why no banks were taken to trial in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
maceo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry -- with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy -- would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare."

That's a brilliant observation. Props to Bloomberg for this incredibly lucid op-ed.

ajtaylor 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel it's a little disingenuous to call it a "subsidy" since the taxpayers aren't actually writing the banks a check for $83 billion. But the key point is still spot on: without the implied backstop of a government bailout the banks would pay what everyone else must pay to borrow money, etc.

Too big to fail is simply a euphemism these days for "The government will take care of everything no matter now stupid and reckless we act." This attitude really must go. How should that be accomplished? I don't know. One thing is for certain: the banks will drag their heels kicking and screaming should someone try to change the status quo. And they'll probably get their way - but it should still be attempted.

DamnYuppie 10 hours ago 0 replies      
We will be better served as a nation with smaller banks, we need to get over the concept of to big to fail.
OGinparadise 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.

Great, so we all should go to borrow from huge banks, no doubt their lower rates are passed to the consumers, with the banks being caring and all.

gruseom 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The article says that without subsidies the big banks would about break even. Does that presuppose that toxic assets are recorded accurately in their books? I recall that there was controversy about this, and then the issue seemed to vanish. If toxic assets have not been accounted for accurately, how big is the discrepancy?
chubbard 7 hours ago 3 replies      
So I thought this article was pretty opaque. They didn't really discuss the subsidy enough. They just said there was a subsidy that allowed the banks to borrow money at a reduced rate. Who is giving them this preferential treatment? How do those particular banks get that subsidy? Why not charge all banks the same rate and let the size of these banks eat themselves. It's not a hard concept to swallow if you've had economics 101. Law of diminishing returns which happens to any business when it gets too large. But, I think it didn't really layout a case for why this subsidy exists.
b1daly 7 hours ago 1 reply      
In some sense the thesis of the article makes intuitive sense. How can the banking sector really have much of a margin since they are dealing with the ultimate commodity product, money!

Trading is a zero sum game, all the banks can't make a profit doing it.

Banks provide quasi governmental services to society, so one could make an argument that they should be subsided in some way, or that they have to be subsided! Their role in the economy is too fundamental to not have.

I've come across arguments that banks should just be turned in to utilities.


drucken 7 hours ago 2 replies      
... Because it is in the best (short and mid-term) interests of a debt-laden and debt-fuelled state to support those entities which can maximize further debt creation.

Banks do not exist in isolation. You could go as far as to say the problem is not so much Too Big to Fail, though that produces its own problems, as Too Interconnected to Fail. These issues have only become worse since 2008.

unabridged 3 hours ago 0 replies      
citizens should get the money directly. why should a private bank be able to borrow at x% and sell the money to me at x+4%? if you are going to have the fed system the government should loan out mortgages directly at the same rate plus a fixed fee for a government approved appraiser.
dschiptsov 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Because being successful cheater is better evolution strategy than being a drone.
redblacktree 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I think we need to drop the concept of "too big to fail." If another large bank requires a bailout, let's give it to them, but make a Ma Bell-style breakup part of the deal. i.e. You get the bailout, but you can no longer be too big to fail.
Zuider 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey! Who are you calling 'too big to fail'? I think they are failing just fine, epic even, thank you very much.
chrismealy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
We already let banks print money. What's another $83 billion?
coditor 9 hours ago 0 replies      
... and us nothing?
Notes On Doing Massive Amounts of Good Enjoyable Work sebastianmarshall.com
14 points by lionhearted  3 hours ago   1 comment top
barry-cotter 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is this post inspired or insipid? Neither, really but the message is worth noting; one can get a lot done by working full on, on one task, for hours, success feeds on itself and feels good, and the easiest way to get into this zone is a big opportunity combined with a hard deadline.
Do you smoke test? samsaffron.com
21 points by seanp2k2  4 hours ago   13 comments top 5
adrianhoward 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing missing from this setup for me is a ramp up of changes on release, and automated rollback based on service metrics/KPIs.

Don't release to the world. Release to 1%, then 5% then 20%... and so on. And if the load time starts going up, or the # errors start going up, or numerous other things - last release gets rolled back and alarms ring.

That way I don't break the world - I break a much smaller N% of the world that demonstrates the problem - which then promptly gets rolled back by the friendly neighbourhood release bots.

I write sucky code - so I write tests to help drive my design and catch errors.

But tests are code too - and I write sucky code - so I write release processes[1] they help save me when I write sucky test code.

If you do continual delivery you need that second layer of metric-driven tracking of release quality or writing sucky test code will catch you out at some point ;-)

[1] and yes - the release ramp up / roll back code is potentially sucky code also - but it's just one bit that does one thing so gets tested a lot more than all the new sucky code I write ;-)

prodigal_erik 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> You only get to see the "real" page after a pile of JavaScript work happens.

Fix that. If you can't test your config and your authoring by crawling server-rendered documents, others can't crawl them either, and they aren't really part of the World-Wide Web.

Osiris 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't that what QA is for? My team is lucky enough to have a dedicated tester that has to approve every build in test and staging before we're allowed to deploy to production. It can be a pain but it does catch a lot of sloppy code.
sebcat 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> This is my fault, its 100% my fault.

> Often when we hit these kind of issues, as developers, we love assigning blame. Blame points my way … don't do it again … move along nothing more to see.

I have never found this to be a constructive 'culture'. Instead of placing blame on others or feeling guilt myself, I try to see if there's a way of improving the process itself instead of relying on people not fucking up. Because that's going to happen to everyone. Bugs are still going to happen, but if the process (be it deployment, testing/QA, dev, w/e) eliminates potential points of failure, they will be less frequent and hopefully less severe.

ibudiallo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to know we will let you go this time. Next time you will be required to remove the Facebook login.
Meteor 0.5.7 released: major scaling update, new DDP version, EJSON meteor.com
64 points by debergalis  9 hours ago   22 comments top 9
jcampbell1 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I got my first taste of Meteor at a meetup in NYC on Tuesday night. I hacked something together with no experience in about 30 minutes that would be a pain to write in anything else, and completely trivial to write in Meteor. In fact I didn't bother to read the documentation. The app is a shared grocery list: http://www.teamgrocery.com/

The app never deletes anything, and I suppose a grocery list shared among all HN users should get overwhelmed really quickly :)

I can't remember the last time I have had so much fun playing with a new framework. Meteor is going to be my goto technology for hackathons/prototypes.

kiba 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a developer using meteor, most of the changelog is a bunch of technical "jumbo humbo" to me. However, the full release notes said something about "performance" for some day to day operation, and that's all I need to hear.

I must note that meteor does seems to excel at being absurdly trivial to get things done. It also isn't quite of a heavyweight to learn as compared to other frameworks.

(I am working on a time tracking app that's coming rather nicely)

themgt 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We just got Meteor compiling on Pogoapp (using a buildpack which uses meteor's git/master, so incorporates these updates[1]), and I booted up open source demo apps whipped up by a couple London developers after a chat in #meteor IRC:



here's live demos (you can use zoom in both):



Be sure to check go take a look at the code, or lack thereof - really impressive stuff. Since looking just a few months ago, the whole meteor ecosystem seems to have expanded and matured at a pretty incredible clip.

[1]: https://github.com/oortcloud/heroku-buildpack-meteorite

rayhano 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Interesting to read such polar views about Meteor.

At Wigwamm, we wanted to build a user experience that was simple. A real-time auction and an auction catalogue full of full screen photographs.

We discussed at length whether Meteor would allow us to do everything we needed. The conclusion was interesting: if it's not simple, if doing through Meteor is too hard, we probably don't want/need to do it.

For us, it's nice to work with technology that genuinely pushes boundaries.

Little plug: we're London UK based, so if you're local, love building products that help people and want to build in pure JavaScript/Meteor, please get in touch (@WigwammHQ on twitter)

siculars 7 hours ago 3 replies      
So can someone tell me what the monetization scheme is for Meteor and other frameworks like it? Is there one? Or is this purely for the joy of the code? Seriously...
RoboTeddy 7 hours ago 3 replies      
The Meteor guys are moving fast. This is awesome. I can't wait until all the current methods of creating web apps are obsolete.
iamclovin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For folks who'd like to try out Meteor in the browser without any local installs, we just wrote a blog post on how you can do so on Action.IO: http://blog.action.io/2013/02/21/build-meteor-apps-in-the-br...

(Disclosure: I'm one of the guys working on action.io - we're private beta now but sending out invites at a pretty fast clip)

xulescu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If Meteorite is the Package Manager for Meteor, why are the two not in sync? E.g. like npm for node?
throw_away_acc 5 hours ago 2 replies      
There's no place except on HN where Meteor gets regular attention, upvotes and always the same fan posts (i.e., "Meteor is going to be my goto technology", "The Meteor guys are moving fast").

Guys, this is all so obvious.

EDIT: downvoting won't help, people aren't that stupid, $11M funding and sponsored posts are no reason to use any framework

Letterpress " A minimal, Markdown based blogging system written in Python wangling.me
64 points by an00na  8 hours ago   53 comments top 17
jacques_chester 7 hours ago 9 replies      
It's worth remembering that 99.999% of ordinary users will never switch to a static generation blog system, no matter how carefully it is explained.

The problem really is that somebody has to pay the piper.

I'm going to create a new rule.

    Chester's First Law:

Essential complexity in the problem domain
is a conserved quantity.

Either your system absorbs and obscures it; or you push it back on the user somehow. Even within a system you can push it around to different places, but it never goes away.

Consider: the problem domain for a blogging system is take stuff from an author and produce HTML for readers.

Movable Type used to "build" a whole site at a time. Wordpress does it per-view unless you use caching. Wordpress won inter alia because the cost of the complexity was pushed from the authors to the readers -- and it's authors who pick the blogging engine.

Static site generators are like Movable Type, in that they take the essential complexity that used to be on the readers and push it back to the author.

A more complex system would strike a balance by proactively generating new cached output based on POSTs, not GETs. That would push both halves of the essential complexity into the system itself, away from both authors and readers.

At all times, the sum of essential complexity has been conserved.

nikcub 5 hours ago 2 replies      
There are dozens of such projects now, all of them 1 or 2% different from the others, little differences that would be more suitable as plugins or extensions to a defacto static generator (Jekyll).

Instead we get a mass duplication of effort into implementing essentially the same thing, a common problem with open source projects.

What is really required is a dead-simple static generator, the equivalent to what Wordpress and Movable Type did for the old style of blogging. A simple app that ordinary computer users can plug their FTP or S3 details into and then publish.

unavoidable 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the author knows that "Letterpress" is a rather popular iOS game.
zobzu 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Major issue in the static blog:

There no comments, and if you want comments, they're not owned by you.

I read there's some local comment servers being written (ie you cleanly separate the blog static content and the dynamic comments), but i've yet to see a "mainstream one that just works" (tm).

lucb1e 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Comments are also just ego feeders

I hate when I can't comment on a blog, like right now I can't remark that comments are useful. And I can't comment that RSS is useful, and that I used it a lot in Firefox (not anymore in Chrome now, Google Reader sucks).

meerita 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I blog since 2000. I used almost all blogging platforms. Now I'm switching to Jekyll from Wordpress. Most of the blogging tools, specially those with mySQL, have an unlimited growth of features. Instead becoming limited, and scalable with plugins they start to become slower as bigger in code to do simply blogging. These tools derivate to website making tools, wich is really odd.

I love Jekyll. I'm designer and I didn't had too much trouble to switch from wordpress to something local on my machine and deploy it to my own server.

Today is the first day I will be completely off from Wordpress.

homosaur 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Are static site generators the new "hello world?"
0x0 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So to use dropbox for publishing, the author recommends registering two accounts on dropbox.com. Would that carry a risk of account termination? Sounds like an easy way to game the free space for invites bonus.
polm23 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
So is "Those who do not remember blosxom are doomed to repeat it" a cliche yet?
sfard 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested in a not-self-hosted option, I built http://throwww.com

Growing user base, very simple, markdown-based (includes video markdown), includes RSS & Comments

<end self promotion>

rdl 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How would you add comments to something like this, if you wanted to have comments for some (probably idiotic and ill thought out, based on most blog comments) reason? Would you be able to embed disqus or something?
ricefield 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me a lot of scriptogr.am

Both use dropbox, markdown. The difference is that scriptogram doesn't run from your localhost and its not a static site. Still, there are a lot of similarities

hendry 7 hours ago 1 reply      
anthemcg 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like another similar system to Jekyll, et al. I don't think many heavily technical people understand how alienating this kind of approach is to the average user. Wordpress is popular because its understandable, installation is done in such a way that its fairly easy and its powerful enough.

Static generation blogs may seem simple to us but to most people who want to blog they seem ridiculously complicated.

imikay 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Remind me of Alexis Sellier's awesome micro blog engine toto(https://github.com/cloudhead/toto), created 3 years ago.
benrhughes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Funnily enough, I just wrote something similar in node[1] and one of my mates has just written one in Go too. Great minds, or something :-)

[1]: https://github.com/benrhughes/crashdown

revgeeky 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Built my own a few months back in node for publishing using git to Heroku. Markdown flavored micro blogging is hip!
Petition to make unlocking phones legal again passes 100,000 signatures thenextweb.com
311 points by Lightning  21 hours ago   158 comments top 17
jobu 17 hours ago 9 replies      
Fast forward to next week:

"The White House announces a new threshold of 500,000 signatures before it will respond to online petitions."

I was initially enthusiastic about these online petitions, but it doesn't seem like any of them have had an effect.

sinak 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey everyone, I started this petition. Very glad we made it to 100k, and excited to see how the White House responds.

I'm well aware that the WH may not take any real action though. Please sign up at http://fixthedmca.org if you care about this issue and want to continue helping the move to fix this issue permanently.

diminoten 18 hours ago 2 replies      
We need to stop calling these "Petition to <thing>". These are not petitions for things to happen. This is not a petition to make phone unlocking legal again, it's a petition for the Whitehouse to write a response.

Furthermore, these petitions aren't going to be seen by lawmakers, as someone in the below comment says. Strictly speaking, the President is part of the executive branch, not the legislative branch, so in any event, no "lawmaker" will be seeing these petitions at all.

aleyan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I am glad this thing is happening. Unlike most other petitions that require changing law through Congress, this rests on a single individual. DMCA exemption can be made, and in case of phone unlocking have been made, by the Librarian at Library of Congress. He is appointed by the President and works at the behest of the Congress. The decision to allow the exemption to DMCA is completely up to him, and could be potentially influenced by such a petition.
manaskarekar 20 hours ago 7 replies      
It's funny how you have to petition to have lawmakers pay attention to an issue, when by definition, those people are there to represent the interest of the majority in the first place.
speeder 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This is something that I like in Brazillian laws, in Brazil carriers are supposed to always provide "portability", this mean that you can keep your phone numbers when you change your carrier.

The "portability" laws, also say that the carriers themselves have to unlock your phones if you want to change carrier.

This ensures that a carrier cannot make you locked to them by using phone lock or number lock. It is highly interesting. Maybe facilitated by the fact that all carriers here use GSM (people think that CDMA is shit, and like the fact that GSM chips are harder to clone than CDMA phones).

gesman 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Would be great to have this: collect 1,000,000 votes for petition and it goes to Senate for mandatory voting.

Otherwise it's impossible to penetrate the wall between government and people via "your vote, we write response, maybe" - type of approach.

duaneb 20 hours ago 5 replies      
What exactly do these petitioners expect? A) there are far more important things to do, IMHO, then spending time wrestling telco companies over this, and B) the White House has to do zilch but respond.

I love petitions, but people getting angry over e.g. repeatedly not legalizing marijuana after 0.03% of americans signed something I find confusing and frustrating.

It's almost as if people are easier to ignore if they solely protest through these petitions....

codex 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This petition asks the President to interfere with the implementation of law, and to politicize the decisions of the Librarian of Congress, a non-partisan post.

While the President may use his office to champion new laws, he cannot make them himself, or overturn them.

smogzer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What about a petition to prevent lawmakers from creating legislation that turns regular people into criminals.
One simple legislation to rule them all. The GOML (Get off my lawn) law.
analyst74 19 hours ago 4 replies      
OK, something I don't understand. What's to stop someone from opening a store that sells unlocked phones?

Is it because of the lack of carrier discount? If that's the case, people have already voted with their money on what they value more.

StevenXC 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm interested in the White House's response, but anticipate the issue basically being blown off.
datalus 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What if I told you...

Obama doesn't give a shit?

Karunamon 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Welp, got halfway down the page before the pessimist, defeatist "It's just a petition, you're wasting your time" responses started.

Better than usual, I suppose.

dfrey 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I would rather see locking phones become illegal. Locked devices only serve to keep people stuck with a provider.
znowi 19 hours ago 1 reply      
A mere fact that there's a White House petition for something that in other countries is an indefeasible right - use your phone with any carrier you please - greatly saddens me. I find it astonishing how the Land of the Free can tolerate such treatment.
donniezazen 19 hours ago 2 replies      
When someone is not paying the full price of a phone, how can they expect to do anything with the phone? People don't actually own them.
We Should Expect To Pay For Small Open Source Projects itistrivial.com
68 points by rstep  6 hours ago   68 comments top 25
btilly 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This conversation has been up for over 2 hours, and nobody has noted that this fails the Open Source Definition at item 1? You can verify that at http://opensource.org/osd.

More generally, when you sign a contract, or release something under a license, you should understand what you are doing, why you're doing it. If the legal agreement doesn't accomplish what you want, then don't do it. That goes whether you're a hobbyist, a business, are releasing open source for free, or are selling incredibly expensive per CPU licenses. In general, releasing software for free is not the best way to get paid for the act of writing it. That's common sense, and if that is a problem for you, then you really shouldn't be releasing your software as open source. But you have no grounds to complain that other people choose to.

So why do people release software as open source?

- Fun. It can be nice to say, "Here, look what I did!" Why not give it away for free?

- Learning. Participating in open source software is a good way to get feedback from experienced developers you could never learn from otherwise.

- Marketing. At the worst, you wind up with software to show people that has your name on it. At its best, an individual will wind up with a network of connections who can get you jobs that you like. Then for companies you get into dual licensing business models, ease of attracting developers, etc.

- Gratitude. A lot of developers gained a tremendous amount from using and reading other people's open source software, and feel like they are paying that gift forward.

- License requirement. Some open source software is only available under licenses that say you cannot restrict redistribution of your changes. (The GPL is an example.) Thus you can find that you can get a lot of what you're looking for already done, and the cost is reciprocity. (Hey, if you don't like the license, don't use the software...)

- Maintenance costs. Many companies find that they need something "almost the same as" something out there. But maintaining a fork over time gets expensive as you have to track future improvements, security advisories, and so on. But if you contribute your changes back into the project, then you avoid this cost. (Supporters of the BSD license prefer motivating people this way.)

- Reducing the price of complements. Customers often want to buy a solution, and have a price they are willing to pay. That solution will include multiple pieces of software. If you make other pieces of software cost less, then your piece can cost more. As a concrete example, for many years Oracle pushed customers towards Linux, and then charged a higher price to run on Linux than to run on Solaris.

...and so on and so forth. There are many valid reasons to give away open source software for everyone from individual hobbyists to big companies. But the fact that there are lots of reasons that lots of other people want to do it doesn't mean that it makes sense for you. If it doesn't make sense for you, then don't do it. But don't try to tell everyone else that they shouldn't do what they want to do for their own reasons..

moxie 5 hours ago 2 replies      
In some cases, I can imagine that users paying for open source software would be a nightmare situation for the developers.

For instance, whenever I'm the sole developer of a "type 0" OSS project, supporting users is typically the most difficult part. This is because, many times, the software is something that I wanted for my own needs, and those needs have been met.

The one saving grace I often have in those situations is that, as demanding as some users might be, at least it's not the potential shitstorm of a user who has paid for something and isn't completely satisfied.

I even think carefully about offering a vector for donations these days. Because inevitably, it will eventually lead to a difficult to parse email from a user who wants help right now, because they just donated $2.

freshhawk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This article uses the wrong framework to think about successful open source projects. It's not like the mobile app store ecosystem.

Successful projects, in terms of numbers of users and contributors, seem to happen in places where many people need something complex and pool their resources to all share in a better solution than any individual one could have been.

Putting the whole thing under economic norms, and encouraging communities to think in those terms is probably extraordinarily counter productive. There isn't enough money available to pay open source developers what they are worth in dollars. If open source operated under economic norms it wouldn't work, since it operates under social norms it does [1]. There is a reason that everyone here doesn't get paid to work on whatever cool fun they feel like working on.

A "type 0" project is a hobby project and your github account isn't there to get you paid. Open sourcing it is socially acceptable public charitable giving crossed with academic publishing.

The next step isn't consulting monetization models or aquisition/IPO. The next step is more contributors so that a team of motivated people can solve a complex problem, for everyone, once and for all (that's the ideal version anyway, about as likely as an IPO or aquisition). That might bring some money, maybe for some core peole but more important is that now everyone else, and especially those that contributed and have expertise, can go on and build/do that thing that this complex problem was stopping them from doing.

Looking at this as an progression from github project to aquisition and defining the stage of a project by revenue misses nearly every lesson learned from watching this strange new market succeed so spectacularly entirely because it is based on different norms and therefore attacks different problems.

[1] http://youtu.be/OdjlOgGVRVA

h2s 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Software engineering is one of the more well-paid professions available. And yet occasionally on Hacker News there seems to be somebody who doesn't feel they have quite enough money yet. Usually they manifest this by trying to top up their bank account with some underhanded Amazon referral link couched within a blog post. Today it's another "open source software should cost money" plea.

Last time I saw it manifested in this particular form, it was Zed Shaw's "Premium Branch Manifesto" (http://premium-branch.org/) in which he breathlessly warned of impending doom:

    > If this balance of power is not corrected I
> fear FLOSS will actually die.

I think it's kind of sad that so many people apparently don't see one of the main things I find so amazing about free software. We're a community of people who give stuff away to others for free often for no other reason than the fact that building it is fun enough in itself. This is simply not a thing on this kind of scale in most other professions, and I feel a little defensive when somebody says we should put a stop to it.

ajross 5 hours ago 0 replies      
OK, devil's advocacy time here: why?

Is there some deep lack of new and exciting open source projects? I don't see it. Things are vibrant and exciting. New free stuff is appearing every week that is worth looking at. All the "big" projects, of course, are very well funded already, and projects continue to get funding (via diverse mechanisms) as they become "big".

We didn't need this for jquery or rails or pick-your-favorite-web-technology. We don't need it for the lower level stacks either.

I'm sure everyone would be happy to be paid for open source work. And some people want to work on open source but can't for financial reasons. But the only question here that matters is if enough people are willing to release their code without compensation. And clearly the answer is yes.

batgaijin 5 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm really surprised that nobody is doing a kickstarter thing for open source.

tiers 0 to n-1: creating product/features

tier n: release as open source (community votes for license) on day 1

I mean in all honesty if I saw a link to some awesome fucking shit and I saw that it was $500 away from being open source, I'd probably do it. It would probably happen yearly or less, but honestly there are a lot of developers making big bucks and we all know how much certain tools could make our lives so much easier.

dinkumthinkum 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure the author is well aware of the open source community. There is a large body of very large software projects that really only go in this "Type 0" but are nonetheless much bigger than little plugins. I seem to recall a project started by ... oh was it ... I believe it was someone from Finland ...

Anyway, I think this misses the spirit of the community. There's also this idea that I've heard Joel Spolsky talk about, such as once you introduce money, you change the situation drastically. Imagine an kernel module programmer building the module for the usual reasons, now say someone provided the programmer a method to pay some trivial amounts, like $5 or $10 ... Now, you introduce a very small amount of money and it can give the programmer a feeling of "this is a waste of time" because, say, someone working at MS doing a similar job is making much more money doing basically the same thing. This is not to say the programmer doesn't deserve or that making $20 is not better than $0 but it changes the dynamic in an odd way.

mseebach 2 hours ago 0 replies      
No. The number one quality of open source software is the extremely low friction. If I'm doing a project, I don't have to worry if I'm using three or 200 plugins/libraries/components, and I don't have to justify that I'm only using 1% of one of them, or that plugin Z is actually better than plugin Y, but uses library T that I've already paid for.

The main cost of commercial software licensing generally isn't the monetary cost, it's the friction leading to all these annoying tradeoff evaluations.

That said, I think "we", the collective group of people who makes money off the back of open source software projects, probably could be a lot better at throwing some money at developers of the software we use.

shazow 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I much rather get one or two corporations sponsoring my project than have each of my users pay $5, for the various reasons outlined in sibling threads. Or better yet, I wish there were government-level grants for this kind of work.

I've been thinking of seeking out sponsors for urllib3 (Python http library, core of Python Requests which recently broke 2 million downloads). After maintaining and enhancing the library since 2009 (with on/off contributors of varying quality), keeping the code quality high while not using the library myself[0] has been hard. Motivation to work on it has been hard to come by, but at the same time it's not as easy to give away to another maintainer as some of my other projects (workerpool and s3funnel have had very smooth transitions).

Getting some hours per month paid by a sponsor would definitely make some of these weekends easier to swallow, but I'm not sure which pricing model is best to pitch. Maybe offer to charge something like 1/2 of my normal hourly rate and let them dictate some feature/bug prioritization? Or maybe a tiered Kickstarter-like approach would be better?

Does anyone have experience with this?


[0] I love the library myself, but I haven't had any excuses to do http-related stuff lately.

jewel 5 hours ago 0 replies      
He misses out on another type of open source project: those supported by professionals as part of their day job, but that aren't directly related the core business of the company.

For example, at my current job we need plupload, or something like it. If it didn't exist, we would be forced to create and maintain something like it. There's no reason why we wouldn't release the code as open source and then continue maintaining it as necessary for our software. The company wins, and so does everyone else.

cwgem 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I read this over, as well as the original blog post about the grails plugins and am not sure I can really agree. Personally I've always looked at open source contributions as a hobby, and in the end I'm doing it in order to keep the source open and available for those who wish to learn off of it / utilize it somehow.

In fact I would presume that the reason people are not going to pay up front is that they assume the developer is doing it as a favor to the community, and that giving them money for it would break the philosophy of giving out of free will. The real issue though seems to be an overall lack of resources. A one man shop, even with the ability to work on their projects full time, still has a maximum output capacity. Without others to assist there is the chance they would get swarmed with bugs and feature requests leading to burn out.

I think that open source developers need to step back and consider the costs and benefits of their projects. Doing a large amount of projects by oneself without a good job to support on the side will lead to burnout, as we've seen here. It may feel like bestowing a great gift on the community, but if you burn out and halt all development where has that feeling of contribution gone?

Which begs the question of which is more valuable: financial contributions or code contributions?

shurcooL 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd prefer supporting its developers via Gittip or similar rather than having to deal with buying something to use it. That just puts a barrier on use. (If only they'd accept my money.)

Similarly, I'd rather share my open source project for free rather than spend my effort on selling it, and hope to get some support via other means.

I don't like barriers.

pytrin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
At my current startup[1], this is exactly what we're trying to address. We built a marketplace for open-source projects, trying to add a business layer around open-source development, so that developers could work on it full time, and provide the level of support that people require.

Proprietary software companies like to point out that while FOSS might be free in distribution, the lack of support means that you pay for it in other ways - and to some extent that's very true. Very few open-source projects get to the point where they can sustain themselves while still giving out their main product for free.

I think developers should be able to sustain themselves working on open-source projects, even with relatively small adoption and scope, by treating it like a business. If you don't want to support it - give it for free, if you want to take it to the next level, start charging for distribution. The important thing in my opinion is getting as much quality and useful code out in the open.

[1] http://www.binpress.com

wallunit 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I released several "Type 0" free and open source software in the past. And making people pay for using them, would be the worst I could have done. The software I release as FOSS, is basically stuff I would have coded anyway. But by releasing it for free and as open source, i got following in return:

* Feedback with ideas I wouldn't have come up with myself, that helped me to improve my software.

* Free testers, that reported bugs, I wouldn't have found myself.

* Free contributors, that sent me patches for features and bug fixes I would had to spend my own time on otherwise.

* A nice portfolio, future employers can look at, making it more likely that they hire me.

However making people pay for using my software, will reduce the number of people using my software, and so the number of people who will give feedback, report bugs, and contribute patches. Also people paying for something are less likely to contribute. They are more likely to expect that it is my job to make sure that the software behaves like they expect, since they are paying me for it. But 10-15$ per user, is much less money as I would save by releasing it for free, increasing the number of users/testers and their motivation to contribute.

boyter 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Gabriel Weinburg already tried to set this up (although more voluntarily) and you can read about it here http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2010/11/help-me-start-a-... and http://fosstithe.org/

The general idea was to tithe a certain portion of profits/revenue towards open source projects. Only a few accepted it though (myself included). Only two really seem to have made any contributions though (I would love to but not making any money yet).

zobzu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
open source yeah.. but the real reason open source works out is because of the free licenses. Free as in beer and freedom.

If its not free, not everyone will use, test, expand it.

That shouldn't stop anybody from donating of course. But donating is not a _required_ payment. I personally donate to projects I like from time to time, expecting it covers the infrastructure costs, but never expecting it pays somebody to code for it.

I think the author simply wants to express his frustration, because some projects he likes died, or because he expected to get money/investors in his open source projects.

Guess what. All the big open source projects which started the movement were given away with NO expectation. THAT is what made open source successful. The free sharing of knowledge.

OGinparadise 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"by paying some small amounts as a required step, not voluntarily."

Open source but not free.

I agree that developers need to taken care and that not enough people chip in voluntarily but Open Source is associated with free. If I pay $5 and then give the 'open source code' to John and Jane, who will go after me?

jeffdavis 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The author missed community open source projects like PostgreSQL and Linux. They aren't looking for a buyout.
twodayslate 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I am more than happy to pay but unless otherwise specified, I expect support for the product. I expect emails to be replied to and my problems addressed. Most of the open source projects I donate to, I have had a conversation with the developers beforehand and I know that if I ever had a problem, they would be more than happy to help. This ensures that I am paying for a piece of software that is going to be developed into the future and won't die one week out.
jasonlingx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What? Paying for open source? Isn't there a license for that already?
jpswade 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Somebody has to pay for it, but nobody is obligated to.
_kulte 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with this. It's not that someone has to pay the developers of what you refer to as Type 0 open source projects for the incentive to exist for them to maintain it; it's just that the developers have to have a reasonable expectation that some value will come to them as a result of of maintaining the project. Everyone values different things, but if money is the goal, I think developing popular software in the open is as good a way as any to attract a healthy financial offer from potential employers.
smnrchrds 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Having a culture who encourages financial support of open source projects is good for everyone. But forcing everyone to pay in order to use a project is not. I have about 20 of these projects in my requirements.txt and if I were living in a third-world country, I would have to pay an equivalent of one month of my salary if they all demanded payment.
Qantourisc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is only a problem as long as peaple are expected to pay for food, rent and utilities. If we can "give away" FOSS, why can't they ?

Are we so much more evolved beyond greet then the rest of the planet ?

puppetmaster3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What paying $1 gives you is 'Attribution Assurance'. Nothing worse than a github fork in a way that removes attribution!
Africa, where mobile matters most opensignal.com
3 points by cleis  40 minutes ago   1 comment top
JamesCRR 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
One thing I've found interesting that I'd love to see explored in depth, is the lack of interplay between the tech used in US/Western Europe (traditional tech hubs) and Africa. It seems the apps that are important to one market are not the same that matter in another - even in similar sectors (e.g. Square vs MPesa) perhaps this is because one set of apps targets smartphones and fast internet connections (not to mention processors) while another is targeted at feature phones. As smartphones reach higher levels of adoption I'd love to see African built apps taking on Western markets.
Blog posts pulled using DMCA restored (mostly) as fake “originals” vanish arstechnica.com
8 points by iProject  2 hours ago   discuss
Distributed Balance daeken.com
29 points by paulgerhardt  6 hours ago   3 comments top 2
jacquesm 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
That's pretty interesting. For one because there is a good person behind it, second because it deals with the 'single point of failure' of wikileaks in the form of a figurehead.

Are you going to be accepting donations to develop this?

daeken 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm glad to see this here, as I think that now -- while things are in the earliest stages of design -- is the time for us to make changes and adapt. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to voice them here or in #distributedbalance on Freenode; this project needs communities like this to work.
       cached 22 February 2013 11:02:01 GMT