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What the smartest people do on the weekend, everyone else will do in 10 years cdixon.org
34 points by mmahemoff  48 minutes ago   17 comments top 9
jgh 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Day in and day out there are articles on here talking about how the smartest people "optimize" their time as if just relaxing and doing stuff with your friends/family is something only the unwashed masses do. Frankly I like my weekends a lot better when I'm not subjecting myself to "time optimization" or hobbies that take over my life.
pdeuchler 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
I see where Chris is getting at, but he's not generalizing it well.

I think a better rule of thumb would be:
Look at what new and upcoming technologies people with large domain expertise are excited about. Those technologies will probably be included in business practices within that domain in the near future.

Edit: It's also a rather self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously industry leaders will pave the way for their pet interests to gain more mainstream acceptance, and at the same time those who look up to said leaders often outsource the mental overhead of investigating the newest technologies to leaders who's purpose is to guide the community. This cycle is rather exacerbated when a leader creates a new technology that he/she is now interested in distributing.

andrewljohnson 22 minutes ago 2 replies      
Which hobbyist invented the web? Blogs? It isn't at all obvious to me who he is citing, if these people are hobbyists.

Also, was "most" open source software a hobby, or a professional scratching an itch?

And the first pc? Is Chris trying to say that's woz, and he was a hobbyist?

The whole blog post is a little too pat.

BuddhaSource 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
I totally agree with this, we are working on our product called 3Crumbs, it has seen many iterations over months.

However a growth hack for 3Crumbs evolved into http://Justmigrate.com We treated it as a hackathon project, had full freedom to ideate & execute. We build this after hours for a month & it was a great success. Lot of users loved it & this bought tears in our eyes :).

Weekend hackathons are important, it lets you think out of the box.

_delirium 22 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think this is, on the whole, probably false. There are a lot of things the smartest people do on the weekend which will never catch on, because there is not much of a business case behind them. Not everything interesting is monetizable.

One example: a lot of the smartest computer scientists of the 1960s were really into algorithmic art as a side-project hobby. Was algorithmic art mainstream in the 1970s? No. Hell, it isn't even mainstream today.

B-Con 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Engineers vote with their time

This is a good description. We really do. It's pretty much our currency for getting what we really want.

iamwil 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I thought of it always as "What technologists, teenagers, and rap artists do, we'll all be doing in 5 years."

I never thought I'd see news anchors do an exploding fist bump.

shurcooL 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Business people vote with their dollars, and are mostly trying to create near term financial returns. Engineers vote with their time, and are mostly trying to invent interesting new things."

I really like that.

aroman 23 minutes ago 2 replies      
While I don't disagree with the principle of this logic, can it be backed up some how with past examples? Were "the smartest people" really hacking on serious phone apps before iPhone and Android came out? (as an example)
The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (2006) teslamotors.com
268 points by mactitan  8 hours ago   129 comments top 23
spullara 7 hours ago 7 replies      
When I ordered my Tesla S I also needed to get a 240V charger installed in my garage. Tesla sends you over to SolarCity for that and they can install it for you. This also gives them the perfect opportunity to offer you solar panels as well since they can show you, based on your electricity bill and the number of miles you are going to drive, how much it is going to save you.

Long story short, bought a Tesla S from Tesla, a outlet installation from SolarCity and now have also signed up for 8.8Kw solar panel system for my house.

The vertical integration of his investments is awesome. I just hope he somehow integrates in SpaceX ... maybe solar microwave power from orbit?

wamatt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Musk's plan in a way serves as a reminder for those of us that tend to overestimate the role luck plays in the personal journey towards entrepreneurial success.

While generally HN users are open minded, no small number have derided the notion that others (perhaps far less capable than Musk), are capable of having a meaningful vision.

Of course having a justified belief and plan is a different approach to the lean startup philosophy. Lean effectively aligns more with the randomness worldview and iteration with an impartiality (or even celebration in some cases) of failure. Whereas OTOH, the visionary approach usually has more confidence in a self-directed path.

Those with this visionary quality (in varying levels of ability), can arrogantly dismiss others too, with behavior that is equally cringe worthy. Moreover, it would be hard to objectively and meaningfully argue either approach is universally "better".

However, perhaps the most significant indiscretion, is not in picking a side that works for you, but rather failing to see that two sides exist at all.

ChuckMcM 8 hours ago 1 reply      
August 2, 2006

The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)

From 2006. Nice to know they are still sticking with it :-)

surrealize 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable

Tesla cars so far have definitely been luxury cars. If they keep going downmarket into the mainstream, I wonder if they'll want to create a separate brand for their mainstream stuff, a la acura/honda, toyota/lexus, and infiniti/nissan.

If they do, the low-end brand should be "Edison".

angstrom 6 hours ago 0 replies      
They've followed the plan well. I'd also like to point out a lesser known article from 7 years ago: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2...

The New Power Play

The Investor: Elon Musk, co-founder, PayPal

What he's backed: SpaceX, Tesla Motors

What he wants now: As Musk's two most recent investments - in a space rocket and an all-electric sports car - suggest, the 35-year-old entrepreneur likes to think big. So he's intrigued by the promise of a next-generation battery called an ultracapacitor, capable of powering everything from cars to tractors. Unlike chemical batteries, ultracapacitors store energy as an electrical field between a pair of conducting plates. Theoretically, they can be charged in less than a second rather than hours, be recharged repeatedly without sacrificing performance, and far outlast anything now on the market.

"I am convinced that the long-term solution to our energy needs lies with capacitors," Musk says. "You can't beat them for power, and they kick ass on any chemical battery."

Musk would know: He was doing Ph.D. work at Stanford on high-energy capacitors before he helped get PayPal off the ground. At least one startup, EEStor in Texas, and a larger company, Maxwell Technologies in California, are working on ultracapacitors. Yet Musk believes a university-based research group has an equal shot at a commercial breakthrough, since universities are where the most promising research is bubbling up. "The challenge is one of materials science, not money," Musk says.

The team to pull this off, he says, would need expertise in materials science, applied physics, and manufacturing. Musk wants to see a prototype that can power something small, like a boom box. "Make one and show me that it works," Musk says. "Then tell me what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed."

What he'll invest: $4 million over two years for a working prototype

Send your pitch to: mbb@spacex.com. -- M.V.C.

codex 7 hours ago 3 replies      
"Without giving away too much, I can say that the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster."

A Model S for $45K? Where do I sign? The average selling price of a Model S is probably more like $90K.

vignesh_vs_in 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Here is a video documentary by Nat Geo on Tesla, Model S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvPosSzUGVI

Elon explains the master plan himself.

jessriedel 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Can anyone point me toward Musk's reasoning about why solar will beat out wind power in the long term? I know he owns a solar company, but why did he choose that over wind?

(I'm aware of the basic pros and cons of both. I'm really just looking for Musk's thinking.)

jasonshen 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Nothing builds credibility like doing what you said you would. =)
NoPiece 8 hours ago 8 replies      
I am rooting for Tesla, but if they are counting on a "solar electric economy," that makes me worry. Let's target something practical, like a nuclear/natural gas/solar electric economy.
btipling 6 hours ago 0 replies      
(2006) on the title please.
chenster 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> However, let's assume for the moment that the electricity is generated from a hydrocarbon source like natural gas, the most popular fuel for new US power plants in recent years.

Above statement is mostly true in state of California where natural gas generates one third of its total power (source: http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.h...)

Not so true national wide. According to US Energy Administration, the energy sources and percent share of total for electricity generation in 2011. Note the the combined renewable energy sources is below 10% still in 2011.

• Coal 42%

• Natural Gas 25%

• Nuclear 19%

• Hydropower 8%

• Other Renewable 5%

• Biomass 1.38%

• Geothermal 0.41%

• Solar 0.04%

• Wind 2.92%

• Petroleum 1%

• Other Gases < 1%

(source: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3)

Coal is still the king.

zacharycohn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a huge fan of Elon and have a lot of faith in anything he's involve in.

I am interested, however, in how this reconciles with the Innovator's Dilemma. He's starting at the top of the market and working his way down.

My possible explanation (assuming he will be successful) is:

There isn't enough of an existing market to be disrupted for the Innovator's Dilemma to apply. What I would be worried about here is the other electric cars that ARE on the market are on the lower end (comparatively. The Leaf is $23,000 vs Tesla @ $52,000).

Nissan is working on using cheaper tech, and then will find ways to improve that cheaper tech versus Tesla using expensive tech and finding ways to make it cheaper.


mactitan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hybrid vs EV: .56 vs 1.14 km/mj.

Xprise 100 mpg winner seriously considered EV but won with
Gas engine. Where's the discrepancy?
At least Germany is a good case study in the feasibility
Of a solar electric infrastructure. I thought diesel/ hybrid is best bet but it's good musk is here pushing the envelope.

HyprMusic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it incredible how one many seems to be driving such a change in the future of our planet. Considering people have apparently been putting time and money in to this for decades, why are we not seeing more attempts like this? Is it because it's not considered lucrative enough for the capitalist market? Or is Elon just a very good at convincing us (me) he's breaking new ground?
DanBC 4 hours ago 1 reply      
How rare is lithium for lithium ion batteries? And how recyclable is it?

Should I be buying lithium now to sell it later?

uptown 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Not that he's presumably anywhere near the end of his life - but does Tesla or SpaceX have a contingency plan should something happen to Elon Musk? Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love everything they're doing. It just scares the crap out of me that such a grand movement opposing very powerful forces is led by a single individual. Please tell me there's more brilliant leaders with the same mindset involved in his mission, ready to take the reins should the need ever arise.
TechNewb 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Secret: One of the reasons I want to get a good job is so I can afford a Tesla... Don't tell anyone.
AlexeiSadeski 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Assuming all observed warming is anthropogenic, the amount of global warming caused by the cumulatie emissions of all of America's cars ever: 1/40th of 1 degree Centigrade.
chenster 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Richard A. Muller, Nobel Prize in Physics, posted an short article on energy efficiency and pollution in gasoline, hybrid, and pure battery powered cars. Gasoline vs best battery powered car is a factor of 40.The only car has zero pollution is the hydrogen powered.


zaidrahman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A CEO who sticks by the grand plan. This is refreshing.
slevcom 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Total man crush on Elon here. He's like a science fiction author except he makes the spaceships for reals instead of writing about them. Meanwhile a large chunk of the entrepreneurs continue to optimize ad delivery and photo sharing (myself included), just sayin.
mynameishere 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, right. He just wants pollution moved from rich areas, where traffic density is located, to poor areas, where power generating stations are located.
How not to send password reset notification email scriptogr.am
28 points by slaven  2 hours ago   5 comments top 3
LaGrange 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is more generic: if you do link tracking in your email, do it through your own domain, it's really not that hard, and urls that go through some other business are a huge red flag.

Personally, I probably cut people a bit of slack by going through whois to check if the domain belongs to some well-recognized mass mailer, but I wouldn't blame the MUA for just spamming anything that mentions a "login" along with a domain that isn't a descendant of the sender's domain.

Avestan 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
In their Security Notice they write "Never click on 'reset password' requests in emails " instead go directly to the service".
And after I changed my password I received confirmation email saying

"This email confirms your recent Evernote password change.

If your Evernote password was changed without your knowledge, then please click the link below to change it again:"
And big "Reset Password" button.

A bit funny as they just told me to never click on something like that.

cnu 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I didn't even get the email from evernote regarding the password reset.

Luckily, I had the evernote app sign me out and asking me to login again (which didn't work with my old password).
I had to login through the website and it prompted me to change my password (no link on why) and then it worked with the new password.

I searched through my email trying to see if any email got eaten by the spam folder, but none, "No emails".

Bradley Manning's Statement bradleymanning.org
179 points by ivancdg  9 hours ago   33 comments top 9
mpyne 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the thing I was most surprised about is that the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs were the very first thing Manning had uploaded to WikiLeaks, and this happened far before Manning had been given the order to determine what other anti-Maliki literature was being drummed up by the FP 15.

I had always had the impression that Manning had been generally dissatisfied by American geopolitics but that the FP 15 order had been the last straw for him and that he'd started divulging information to WikiLeaks all at once.

It wasn't like that at all. He released the Iraq/Afghanistan actions database way before any of that. Before he saw the "Collateral Murder" video. Before the FP 15. Even before he punched a soldier in the face (around 8 May 2010, which was his "altercation").

WTF. He was essentially a WikiLeaks mole working on the inside... even though he made clear that no one from WikiLeaks pressured him into divulging information he also freely admits that some of the information he went out of the way to find, was simply because it was a matter of discussion in the WikiLeaks IRC/Jabber chat.

He freely admits releasing documents that he felt could possibly harm the U.S. as well: "Of the documents release[d], the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain couldn't harm the United States."

And why did he release these cables if they were the only documents that were risky? "I believed exposing this information might make some within the Department of State and other government entities unhappy."

He also talked about reading quotes after WWI, about how "the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other." Certainly true! However he seemed to have missed the history lesson from WWII, where the U.K. and the U.S. both enjoyed significant military advantages thanks to their signals intelligence and codebreaking feats.

If Manning were as smart an intelligence analyst as he claims to be then he should know full well that information which is unclassified individually may still be a risk to national security (and therefore classified) if released as an aggregate.

The U.S. did this to the Japanese several before the Battle of Midway; for instance an increase in message traffic from the Japanese Naval base at Truk was a clue to the intelligence analysts at Station Hypo at Pearl Harbor that the Japanese fleet was prepping for a major operation, even though they couldn't break the code. (A good book to read regarding this is Ian Toll's "Pacific Crucible").

I suppose at least I can't say he was doing this to get back at the Army per se, since he'd done everything before they reduced him in rate. But conversely, much of what he leaked was not "war crimes" at all, but merely stuff to "start a debate".

I'm not really sure what to think about all of it. It seems to me that based on his very half-hearted attempts to go to the media that he was intending all along to go to WikiLeaks (whether consciously or not), and that the reasoning for it was not about specific things at all (at least the initial leaks).

I wish he would have talked about why he felt the need to brag to Lamo about it. Maybe that (talking to Lamo) was brought on by his stress from his punishment from the Army, it would almost be doubly ironic if the way he unmasked himself ultimately came about from his own fist hitting the face of another soldier.

ok_craig 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The third from last section, titled "Facts regarding the unauthorized disclosure of Other Government Documents" is very vague. While all other sections detail the information released, this one does not. Possibly, I suppose, because it never made it to the public. Does anyone have any idea what it could be referring to?
codemac 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Website is offline, here is the google cache:


breakall 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting that Manning tried to contact the Washington Post, but got blown off... Tried the NYTimes, and they didn't return his call. That may say something about the media, but I'm more curious if the reaction by the US government and other officials to the leaks would have been the same if those papers had published the material, instead of Wikileaks?
throwaway125 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A lot has been written and said about Bradley Manning but it always seemed such a distant thing. Reading this statement made me realize how he's a real person that I can identify with rather than just some guy in a news article.
grecy 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting there was no mention from him about how he was treated while incarcerated, or about being held for so long without charge/trial.
cake 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's funny to see how common the tools he uses are :

Dell laptops, WinRAR, wget...

You would think the army has some fancy tech, apparently not.

porsupah 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I am terribly, interminably indebted to Bradley Manning. I cannot possibly repay the debt of conscience he managed to summon up.
marze 5 hours ago 0 replies      
About time.
What Coke Contains medium.com
167 points by rchaudhary  10 hours ago   89 comments top 24
jscheel 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Ok, bit of a bragging moment here: my grandpa, with two other gentlemen, created the process for machining seamless cans that is described here. Before them, cans had a lead seam in them. They discovered that you could draw down the aluminum and stretch it to form cans in one piece. He also invented the process for creating the bottom of soda cans, and his friend invented the modern tab on the top of soda cans.
venus 3 hours ago 3 replies      
> The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero

While I understand what the author is trying to say, I don't think that is true at all. I'm pretty sure that if they had a good reason, any number of advanced economies could get it together enough to produce the cans themselves. Seems like the main hard part is the aluminium.

While I'm nit-picking, I believe natural cryolite has not been used in aluminium processing for decades.

Thought-provoking article, though; I typed this with a can of Diet Coke on my desk.

frozenport 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I am a lead pencil"the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.
triplesec 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
This sounds something like an astroturf for a brown chemical drink which sure as eggs is eggs will rot your teeth and kill you sooner than if you drink clean water (or moderate amounts of wine for that matter).
We can make the globalisation and connectedness point a lot more clearly and ideologically neutrally without promoting useless Lowest Common Denominator products that merely waste our resources and do not add to the total sum of human happiness.
likethateh 29 minutes ago 1 reply      
> on the Murray River in Western Australia called Pinjarra

always jarring to read something you know to be so obviously false so early in a piece. *waves to fellow Sandgropers

danem 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A more famous, and perhaps more interesting version of this observation can be found here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html
meaty 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This instantly reminded me of:


(The Industrial Cup Of Tea)

jechen 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Curious as to why there's no mention of the secret formula, since the author is wrong about kola nut being an ingredient of the syrup: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/pr2001447 from the Coca-Cola wiki page), which interestingly is a component in many purported recipes.

It's also interesting to see a picture of a glass bottle coke when the American product rarely exists in such form. I've sworn off the HFCS version after discovering the Mexican recipe with cane sugar - it tastes so much better and comes in a glass bottle. When I was in Tijuana for a Startup Weekend, that's all they served.

lostlogin 8 hours ago 6 replies      
>>The top of the can is then added. This is carefully engineered: it is made from aluminum, but it has to be thicker and stronger to withstand the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas.<<

Eh? The pressure is greater at the top of the can?

chimpinee 4 hours ago 1 reply      
An enormous and sophisticated 'tool chain'. Surely it could never be implemented in a one-day-to-be-invented universal fabricator? One is reminded of those 19th C ppl who thought recorded music was impossible since any player would have to contain miniature versions of all the orchestral instruments (or things that resembled them: "humanity's choir") together with a horrendously large paper roll punched full of holes
fernly 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Mr. Ashton is trying to illustrate Sagan's dictum, "If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." Except it's coke, and he doesn't go past bauxite.
bdc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
An interesting derivative of "I, Pencil":


largesse 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I read it and then thought "Why Coke?" That's the story of every manufactured product assembled from multi-sourced vendors. It's not news, and it's not unique to Coke. If you think it is you'll probably have an orgasm when you learn how pencils are made.
RexRollman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I didn't realize that they were adding caffeine; I was under the impression it was a natural by-product of the ingredients.
Tloewald 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a passage from Richard Powers's novel "Gain" where the process by which a disposable camera is manufactured, packaged, distributed, ad sold serves to explain everything that is at once miraculous and broken about our world.
erickhill 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's incredible to me that an essay as detailed as this one had not one single citation. Regardless, it was a fascinating read.
webwielder 6 hours ago 0 replies      
benmaraschino 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For those who might be interested, here's a fantastic Scientific American (back when it was still good) article about the aluminum can and how it's made: http://www.chymist.com/Aluminum%20can.pdf
mynameishere 5 hours ago 4 replies      
By contrast, you can make wine from a single ingredient. And it's an awful lot better than coke.
Mamady 6 hours ago 0 replies      
First it was an interesting article, but the last paragraph made it an amazing article.
s0rce 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe most of the cryolite used now is synthetic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hexafluoroaluminate).
pohl 5 hours ago 1 reply      
An obvious omission: salt.
k33 6 hours ago 8 replies      
eh, I just don't feel like the writer understands or cares to explain how that whole process is actually detrimental to the world despite the fact that it "unites" it. Coke is just addictive sugar water that does nothing for anyone. When has coke given you something other than diabetes?

Kevin Ashton fails at pointing out the impact of this collaboration. Couldn't all of these talented people that made such a sophisticated product put their energy towards something.. I dunno, useful?

gunt69 4 hours ago 1 reply      
a great example of capitalism. think about
that the next time you have a knee
jerk reaction towards business.
Postgres: The Bits You Haven't Found postgres-bits.herokuapp.com
162 points by craigkerstiens  11 hours ago   77 comments top 19
parfe 9 hours ago 8 replies      
The slides recommend UUIDs as a primary key ("just use UUIDs. seriously"). I took a look at the manual and there isn't too much of a Why (as well as 4 different versions of UUID to choose from). Anyone have a write up that explores UUIDs vs integer primary keys? I was only able to find people asking permission ("I have X with a UUID, can I use it as a pk?) rather than people talking about Why you would prefer UUID as the default.

Sidenote: Literally any button press you could reasonably expect to move to another slide works. PgDown, Right, Down, Space. Stop shitting up a decent submission to whine about it.

bjourne 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> caveat: WITH expressions are optimization boundaries

This is a pretty big caveat and one of the rare areas in which postgres does worse than other database systems. In SQL Server a non-recursive common table expression is treated by the optimizer similar to a macro - You can break up a complicated query with unions and group bys into easier to read cte:s and be confident that the optimizer will piece them all together into a query whose execution plan is equal to the original one.

But with postgres you can't because of the optimization boundaries. Its optimizer will attempt to make each cte as individually efficient as possible which can lead to a much worse execution plan overall. You can use views instead which, in contrast to cte:s, postgres optimizer can see through.

alexanderh 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Can you re-order columns yet?


18 years, and still, nobodys implemented this yet?

Its not a total deal breaker, but jeebus christopher columbus christ. It certainly would be nice.

stox 7 hours ago 0 replies      
One note, Postgres is well over 18 years old. Postgres using SQL is 18 years old. Postgres had its own query language which was replaced with SQL in Postgres95, which in turn became PostgreSQL.
pvh 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Navigate with arrow keys - these are slides from a talk I gave.
ozataman 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How were the slides generated? Looks pretty slick.
pdog 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The slides recommend using UUIDs (and not "numbers") as the primary key:

uuid uuid PRIMARY KEY
DEFAULT uuid_generate_v4(),
name text);

I understand that rows are stored physically in primary key order. Any idea if the "uuid-ossp" module, used to generate UUID primary keys, ensures that new rows are written sequentially on the disk after existing rows (which helps for both read- and write-locality)?

Ensorceled 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks like dozens, maybe hundreds, of people all had problem figuring out how to see the next slide.

Do the math, that's, cumulatively, probably an hour or two of life wasted perhaps more.

I expect webpages to have a mouse based interface, not a keyboard based interface and I'm not alone. It's not churlish of us to complain about our wasted time.

Interesting! And, as a postgresql lover, thanks for posting.

lysium 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting read! I assume, this is all not portable? Or is there similar functionality for other DB, say MySQL (not that I am aware of) or Oracle?
mcintyre1994 10 hours ago 2 replies      
How do I move through the slides? Zooming out suggests there are more slides, but there's nothing to advance through them.

Chrome console:

Failed to load resource: the server responded with a status of 500 (Internal Server Error) http://postgres-bits.herokuapp.com/js/sh_lang/sh_bash.min.js

Uncaught HTTP error: status 500 sh_main.min.js:4

michaelmior 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Fantastic! I'm mostly a MySQL user, but the more I read about Postgres, the more I like.
moron4hire 8 hours ago 1 reply      
how about we just stop using keys that have no semantic meaning to their data, period?
jnazario 10 hours ago 0 replies      
really really great stuff, thank you for posting. i had no idea about a lot of these. and you note that the source is still pretty clean after all these years.
thomseddon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Shame you can't view it on mobile (iPhone), saved for later.
thepumpkin1979 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In case someone is interested, I've created a ruby gem that uses hstore as backing store of multi-language text fields for Rails models. Contributions are welcome -> https://github.com/firebaseco/multilang-hstore
lysium 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hm, how is that site supposed to work? Looks like there should be slide, but I can only see the title page.
np422 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This was a really good presentation, I've worked with postgres and enterprisedb on and off for many years but I still managed to learn a few new things.
TommyDANGerous 10 hours ago 0 replies      
awesome read, learned a lot.
codgercoder 11 hours ago 2 replies      
yet another example of "responsive interface" meaning "designed for a phone or a tablet"
DTrace Toolkit brendangregg.com
9 points by DanielRibeiro  1 hour ago   3 comments top
shmerl 54 minutes ago 1 reply      
How is DTrace for Linux doing? The last time I checked it had way less options than Solaris one.
Want To Build A $1B Consumer Company? Long-Haul Founders, Don't Fear Incumbents techcrunch.com
19 points by paulsutter  3 hours ago   7 comments top 4
asanwal 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The article starts with some interesting data but instead of analyzing the data to identify tangible, shared characteristics of $1B exits, it devolves into a generalized, vacuous argument that boils down to (1) be in it for the long-haul, (2) work with visionary/tenacious teams (whatever that means) and (3) have founders with strong product sensibilities.

In short, this doesn't really provide useful guidance on how to build a $1B consumer tech company.

EGreg 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For what it's worth, I'd like to share my own ideas about what makes a company grow fast and become a billion-dollar company. I'm writing from the perspective of a founder -- and though I'm not an investor, I am choosing to invest many years of my life into building something, which I think requires in some ways a greater degree of commitment and confidence than putting in money alone.

Building blocks for a great consumer company. You will need:

1. An existing social network (e.g. colleges)

2. A channel not (yet) clogged with spam (such as facebook photo tags)

3. A business model that complies with current regulations

4. Founders who are experts in their field, and passionate about the problem to solve

5. A set of processes, developers and systems with a proven track record of producing good products (development stack, version control, etc.)

On top of these things, any idea that solves an actual problem for people AND compels them to invite others should, if done right, at the very minimum make your money back if it makes money at all. Once the founders get traction and optimize the metrics, exponential growth should cut customer acquisition cost to zero. All this is repeatable and that's why if I was an investor, I'd look for the above formula because I'd know how it can lead to success step by step, and how to fix things if they went wrong.

I want to note that this is not the only formula for success, that is to say not all the aspects are strictly necessary, but taken together they are a good predictor of success. Enterprise B2B companies for example can follow a different formula build a great living for many years, but will ultimately be disrupted by consumer tech, like people increasingly switching to MacBooks or Google Apps.

I actually wrote two articles dealing with this in the last few years:

danial 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting to note that only 3 out of the 8 $1B+ IPO-exit companies have current valuation that is greater than valuation at exit. Those three are LinkedIn, Kayak, and Yelp.

As for the rest:

FB -$35B

Groupon -$14B

Zynga -$5.8B

Pandora -$1.8B

HomeAway -$500M

callmeed 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Is LinkedIn really considered a consumer company?
Escape from Callback Hell github.com
51 points by ianbishop  6 hours ago   34 comments top 12
daleharvey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I dont find that promises really help callback hell that much, they are useful but in the case of doing a series of sequential async functions the result is pretty similiar (the promises version is usually longer)

I got to write some firefox only code recently and added a delay to a function by just adding

   ... some code 
setTimeout(continueFun, 5000)
... more code

it felt like magic, I dont like generators and would much prefer to see message passing and blocking calls like erlang, but failing that it will be nice to be able to use generators more regularly

Swizec 5 hours ago 4 replies      
I honestly find "callback hell" a lot easier to follow and understand than the vast majority of fixes everyone is coming up with.

They're just continuations, seriously, what's everyone's problem? You define a function, it gets access to the current scope, it defines the rest of the program flow.

If you feel like your code is nesting too deep, you define the function elsewhere and just reference it by name. Then you don't get access to the current scope.

Why is this so difficult to people?

digisth 5 hours ago 1 reply      
A great library for structuring your callbacks is "async":


I've only used it with node.js, but it's supposed to work in web browsers as well.

It allows you to think a little more procedurally ("waterfall" is especially handy here) while writing CPS code. Very good.

pkulak 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a real shame to have a language this high level, yet still have to go through this much crap just to get things done. Manual memory management is easier than this. But while including GC in the runtime has it's drawbacks, there is no reason that a language can't just handle task switching for you (like Go does, for example).
etrinh 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Good overview of jQuery Deferred and how to use promises (at least the jQuery flavor). Promises (or futures) are a simple concept: an object-level abstraction of a non-blocking call, but they're very powerful when you see them in action. For example, the $.when method:

Let's say you have 3 ajax calls going in parallel. With $.when, you can attach callbacks to arbitrary groupings of those ajax calls (callback1 runs when ajax1 and ajax2 are done, but callback2 runs when ajax1 and ajax3 are done).

I first learned about promises in Trevor Burnham's excellent book Async Javascript (http://pragprog.com/book/tbajs/async-javascript) and it is still the best explanation of promises I've ever read. If you like this article and are interested in reading further about promises or the asynchronous nature of Javascript in general (both for browser and node.js), I highly recommend you check out this book.

harshaw 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Deferreds are cool although they have their own set of issues. Mainly, that when you start chaining them there are situations where it can be a bit counterintuitive what is going on. My background is the Deferred from Twisted and Reimplemented in MochiKit.

You really need to read the Deferred implementation if you are going to use it. Otherwise you are asking for trouble long term. Of course, the other issue is that you may run into challenges explaining deferred's to your co-workers. :)

Twisted explored some cool ideas where you basically would write asynchronous code in an interative style using a blend of iterators and generators. Sadly until Javascript has those capabilities in every browser (and not just Firefox) I don't think it is possible.

iamwil 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I recently also tried my hand at promises using the node libs Q and when.

There's a gotcha with the progress handler. If you try to call the progress handler before the progress handler actually gets a chance to attach itself outside the function, it'll never actually fire. Some of the bugs with using promises are rather subtle.

estavaro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The main issue I have with "escaping from callback hell" is that it's a half-truth. Although I don't know much about how the Reactive Framework created by Microsoft works, I know they went well beyond the basics to try to make it all-encompassing coming closer to making it a full-truth.

Just transmitting data back and forth may play well to the strengths of your abstraction. But we have other uses with Timers that should also need such abstractions.

With Timers I have other needs like delaying the execution, resetting the delay countdown, stopping it before it executes it at all (like cancelling it), and finally with an Animation class I needed a way to finish executing a string of events in an instant in order to start a new animation. Also the Animation had other Animation versions at play that could need to be sped up before a new Animation started.

In .NET they seem to have a handy feature that waits the code to run before proceeding that comes into play with their .NET version of the Reactive Framework.

As far as I can tell, it's tough to really solve it. JavaScript doesn't have extra features like .NET does. We are more limited in what we can do. In Dart they have a version of this called Future that has been streamlined recently. As simple as it may seem to be, it comes with other related abstractions called Streams that altogether make it a bit daunting to escape from that hell only to land on the fire outright.

cwiz 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I find LiveScript's back-calls (<-) very elegant. In fact it makes concurrent code very easy to write and comprehend. Combined with async (https://github.com/caolan/async) it is a pure joy.

As for pure JavaScript, dealing with callbacks is definitely not fun.

tomlu 5 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems like this problem would be elegantly solved by starting a thread, green thread or coroutine (depending on language) for each task and calling the API functions synchronously from within that. I'm not sure what support JS has for these things.
jart 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My favorite solution to this problem is a thing the OKCupid developers made called IcedCoffeeScript http://maxtaco.github.com/coffee-script/
bestest 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, frankly, it looks like you're jumping from one sheep to another. Using deferreds does NOT make more sense, and is actually even more difficult to perceive as it's quite counter-intuitive. MVVM is the way to go for web apps. Actually, anything else would be better than this.

The methods and approaches jQuery provides should not be used as a mainframe to achieve your goal, they should only be used as helpers here and there if ever.

Why Do We Trust Amazon? nymag.com
8 points by jmduke  1 hour ago   8 comments top 4
jrockway 45 minutes ago 1 reply      
Amazon has very clever marketing which is evident in the sentiment reflected in the comments.

One comment mentions that Amazon is the "cheapest possible way" to get anything. False. Many other retailers are likely to have the item you want at a lower price, even including shipping.

Another comment mentions the customer service. Honestly, I don't think Amazon has very good customer service: every interaction is handled in the form of giving you your money back. "Hi Amazon, I really liked item X, when will it be back in stock?" "Sorry about your experience with item X. We're refunding your credit card." "What?" (My specific experience involves buying bike tires. I ordered a certain model of road bike tires, but got mountian bike tires instead. I emailed customer service, who wrote back apologizing and overnighting me two new tires. Same problem. Same email. Same result. Now I have 6 incorrect bike tires. Thanks, "great customer service". While I'm never out any money after dealing with Amazon, sometimes I'm annoyed because I know my concerns aren't being heard. And I'm never going to get that time back that I spent talking with them.)

Amazon's real assets are a huge inventory and a great order-fulfillment system. I never really wonder if my order is going to show up or not, modulo occasional randomness from the shipping companies.

notatoad 37 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think people still trust amazon because they are an easy to understand company: at it's core, amazon is a business that sells things for a profit. Everybody can understand how they make their money.
Turing_Machine 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
"It's also clear that Amazon doesn't care about what it sells; it just cares about the selling."

On the contrary. It's clear that Bezos cares very much about books. Yes, he sells lots of other stuff, and yes, he's in business to make a profit, but no one who's followed his career could seriously deny that books are very special to him.

paulhauggis 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As a seller, you shouldn't.

They don't have any support beyond automated email bots.

Unlike Ebay, they also sell the same items alongside your listings, which means they can and will use your sales data to find out which items are profitable (and put you out of business).

I sold on Amazon for 5 years and saw Amazon slowly cut me out of every market I was in..until they finally banned my account and would now allow me to explain anything.

Near 100% feedback with virtually no customer complaints wasn't enough.

Goodbye Microsoft, Hello Facebook (2010) worldofsu.com
45 points by BlackJack  6 hours ago   10 comments top 5
jechen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This was posted in 2010. A little long-winded for sure, but it's good to hear someone would have such positive things to say coming out of a 12-year tenure at Microsoft (I have a few friends headed there after graduation).

I remember reading this post of his titled "Ten Things I Hate About Working at Facebook" (http://worldofsu.com/philipsu/2012/08/ten-things-i-hate-abou...). It does sound like he's having a blast there- it'd be interesting to read a follow-up comparing the two companies.

randomfool 3 hours ago 0 replies      
One theory was that he was the original Mini Microsoft. No clue if true, but the quality of mini's posts dropped around the same time he left.
nspiegelberg 5 hours ago 1 reply      
FYI: If you fast-forward to 2013, Philip Su is now heading the Engineering office at Facebook London. He's a really nice guy and great culture fit for the company.

Source: I work at FB. Also, just use the Googles...

sharkweek 4 hours ago 2 replies      
His August 2012 post is a little less than positive -- http://worldofsu.com/philipsu/2012/08/

edit: I'm an idiot; brain fart on a Saturday at the office

trhaynes 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Timestamps are a helpful thing to put on blog posts.
Linux Performance Analysis and Tools and Methodologies joyent.com
75 points by deirdres  9 hours ago   10 comments top 4
talaketu 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Awesome presentation. Brendan Gregg shows a scary amount of expertise here.
Very motivating to start using more advanced tools.
helper 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't know much about perf (https://perf.wiki.kernel.org) before watching this talk. I had no idea that perf supported dynamic tracing in the kernel (around minute 40/slide 57). I'm definitely going to play around with it more this weekend.

I always enjoy Brenden's talks. He really knows his stuff.

eliasmacpherson 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Haven't listened to the presentation but the diagram doesn't list this project which I learned about from a Misko Hevery post on the googletesting blog. http://freecode.com/projects/fio

Look forward to watching it.

donebizkit 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great stuff. Thanks!
Evernote doesn't really care about security markpercival.us
66 points by mdp  8 hours ago   19 comments top 9
tptacek 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The RC2 thing from the disclosure is really, really weird. It makes Evernote the only app built in the last 10 years that I am aware of to build on RC2. I wonder whether it's a mistake, and they're actually using RC4 with truncated keys or something.
ChuckMcM 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Mark, it would be helpful if you would disclose if you are a paying customer or not, and if not if having additional security options would convert you into a paying customer.

The reasoning is pretty simple, people want security but they don't want to pay for it. And while we can debate the argument as to whether or not security is part of a MVP or not, I would not be offended if there were additional security capabilities to paid users but not free users.

paulgb 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> Give it a shot. Send someone a link to the non-SSL sign in and it won't flip them over to SSL. It will also accept your credentials via non-SSL POST. So fire up SSLStrip and head down to your local coffee shop.

If you are in a position to execute a MITM, it doesn't matter whether they flip people to HTTPS or not. If the site forced HTTPS you could still rewrite the redirect and proxy the HTTPS to HTTP (the secure connection being between your proxy server and Evernote's). Only strict transport security would solve this, if the browser supports it and the user has accessed evernote before.

rietta 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder how feasible it would be to add a plugin to the Evernote application to tie in with GnuPG through gpgme.
trekkin 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Most consumers want convenience first, security second. Evernote just targets the mass market.
lucb1e 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Only half the points are valid. SSL is a selling point, because it takes a lot of work to setup completely. Lots of websites (including high-profile ones like Outlook.com) have mixed content errors at one place or another, or appear to but don't fully support SSL. The fact that they "used to" use it as a selling point says enough too.

SSL signin should not be enforced. HTTP should give a big warning, but SSL is not fully supported in all clients.

DiabloD3 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought SSL was enabled on Evernote for all customers now? Maybe its time to consider not using Evernote.
alex_anglin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
While I love Evernote as much as anyone on hacker news, Mark does make very good points about the state of security within the application. It seems that with respect to today's security breach that the company has done quite well with their response. One can only hope that this focuses their development on addressing these topics (i.e. encryption of notes is a joke) as much as it has raised concerns about the security features they offer.
AdamGibbins 4 hours ago 0 replies      
What're the alternatives to Evernote? e.g. decent document tagging, excellent search and preferably OCR.
Open Source Events Get Burned By PayPal pydanny.com
77 points by pydanny  11 hours ago   41 comments top 10
InclinedPlane 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, I find it amazing that there is so much augery going on in this post. Ooo, maybe paypal hates python conferences! Maybe they just hate open source conferences!

And then they go on to describe how they refuse to kowtow to the obviously made up "needs of paypal's anti-fraud division".

There are lots of reasons to get mad at paypal but all too often the formula "We understood nothing about business, didn't even bother to familiarize ourselves with the law or financial regulations, and somehow problems resulted! We blame paypal!" is repeated all too often.

Let's look at this from the flip side. You decide you want to defraud a bunch of people, so you gin up a fake conference, it's easy to put up a fancy web page and sucker people in, then you take the money and run. You think this doesn't happen?

Paypal does have pretty crappy customer service, but if you expect to accrue a significant fraction of a million dollars in a paypal account and you don't think that somehow there might be some hoops to jump through then you are living in a fantasy world.

There's a reason why there is a lot of markup in event ticketing agencies (such as brown paper tickets, or event brite, or the hated ticket master), and it's not because it's such a fundamentally easy problem.

Edit: I'll say this again. It sucks when people who are working based on perfectly good intentions get hurt by the system but we live in a heavily regulated era. Expecting that you can operate a business without taking heed of the relevant regulations and business rules is massively naive. More so, it's a disservice to your customers. Imagine that you were running a 100% cash business. It would certainly make some parts easier, but don't you think people would start asking questions?

omfg 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How is this related to just conferences? PayPal doesn't have an anti-conference agenda.. There seems to be two things that set PayPal off.

1) Small volume to huge volume in a matter of days.
2) Taking payments for something happening in the future.

Story after story about both of these scenarios.

It seems obvious at this point that PayPal is not a good processor for things like pre-sales or events. It may be annoying but it's a liability for them and they do what they need to minimize it.

PayPal may be attractive because it's quick to setup but it seems easier for people to get in touch with a proper merchant account provider, discuss what you'll be selling ahead of time so they're prepared, and not get your funds frozen.


For anyone who is interested, here is PayPal's policy on pre-sales.


secalex 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Paypal is a long-time client of my consulting firm, and several of their trust and security people are good friends. They are not stupid or malicious. Unlike the author, they are cognizant of a basic truth about the Internet:

In any situation involving money, every loophole or mechanism for scamming people will eventually be discovered and then exploited to an extent you never believed possible. Just as the Internet has massively changed the basic economics of almost every industry, it has greatly reduced the risk and costs of widespread fraud to a level that would make Charles Ponzi cry with joy into his spaghetti.

There are teams of extremely intelligent and motivated people who spend their entire working careers figuring out ways to rip off Paypal (and Amazon, eBay, Google, Baidu, Bitcoin merchants, etc...) If a top tier company that deals with money on the Internet is problematic for a certain transaction, then you can be sure that is due to a real problem in the past that resembles that transaction.

Pydanny believes that Paypal's actions are without basis, so he has clearly identified a market inefficiency that is ripe for "disruption".

I think pydanny should take this opportunity to pitch his payments startup, PyPal, to pg and several other top-tier angels/VCs. Make sure to include a slide on fraud and loss prevention, and clearly outline the policy that will differentiate you from Paypal:

"The developer community is critical for the success of PyPal. In a situation where a PyPal account identified only by a Yahoo email address and with limited transaction history receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits for a service that will not be delivered for months, we will not freeze that account under any circumstances. Especially if they self-identify as a Python developer."

Let me know how the pitch meetings go.

lucb1e 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't help but mention Bitcoin here. For international things like open source events, it would work just perfectly. Especially given the tech audience that is attracted to these, Bitcoin might be the easiest way to pay for opensource conferences.
aardvark179 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I've seen this problem come up multiple times, and had to talk to my bank when I got hit by it myself, but I absolutely understand why it happens. In our case it was because we moved from taking registration fees to taking accommodation deposits as well, and suddenly a large amount of money appeared in our account, and it does look very odd.

What I'd be interested in seeing would be somebody like eventbrite handling accommodation deposits and so forth as well as registration, then I could funnel everything through that. It's important that any such service release the funds to the event early so they can actually be used for running the event.

jusben1369 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As a general rule of thumb. If you have a pretty predictable business then go with an all in one payment gateway and merchant accounts. By predictable I mean your growth is steady but not spectacular and not prone to any seasonal or suddenly dramatic spikes. Your price points don't move around dramatically. You're not something that will have a lot of chargebacks.

If your business DOES look like the above then engage a merchant account and explain to them what you are up to. It reduces the chances you'll get frozen.

If you can't qualify for a merchant account initially then use an all in one and build up a history that you can then take to a merchant account a little further down the road. (shameless plug for core.spreedly.com if you want the flexibility to shift and change easily)

hcho 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Maybe there's a business idea in payment processing for events.
joering2 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is nothing new, like article states. What interests me is that why would tech group that most likely knew PayPal shameful history still trust them with payment solution? Why is it that every one and each enterprenour or new startup has to go with paypal?? Do you really want to learn on your own skin?? This is not 2006 anymore! There is so many other alternatives, some less expensive, that you just need to let PayPal go. Also most of them are very trustworthy so that customers don't really care whether you use PayPal, Dwolla, Stripe or Authorize.net.
QuantumGood 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Before we expanded our events (from 10-15 to 50-80) we dropped PayPal for WePay. Works great, and I can sleep at night.
marze 10 hours ago 0 replies      
All PayPal would need to do is contact by email 50 of the people who already paid and ask if the are confident the event is legit.

Since they don't, it shows they are a criminal organization.

MOOC Completion Rates katyjordan.com
16 points by jnazario  4 hours ago   18 comments top 7
kkowalczyk 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess people see 10-20% completion rate and think: this is bad.

Let's do some math.

At my university (one of the biggest in Poland), there were 150 people majoring in CS per year.

According to the article, an average MOOC enrollment is 50.000. Let's assume 10% completion rate.

That's 5.000 people. It would take my university 33 years to graduate that many people (assuming 100% completion rate).

The cost per person? Several orders of magnitude smaller per student for MOOC.

Scalability? Almost effortless for MOOC, almost non-existant for the university (to double the number of students they would have to double the number of professors, double the number of buildings etc.).

What happens when you fail? At MOOC, try again. At university - you're out.

There are many reasons why completion rates are much better at university (you paid for it, you value it more; more external pressures (your peers, your parents), motivational support from your fellow students; the way you think about it (university: I have to do it or else it's really bad; mooc: no biggie, I can always do it again).

MOOC destroys traditional education at almost every other metric.

It's a classic Innvator's Dillema: a product that is not as good as what exists but so much better at some important things (cost, convenience) that it'll grow like weeds and will become better at things it's not good at (like retention) faster than incumbents becoming better at matching MOOC at price, convenience.

pohl 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Of the MOOCs I've participated in, the student surveys have never asked the most relevant question I can think of with respect to completion rates: "do you (or did you) intend to complete the course?"

Anybody here ever been asked that?

ecmendenhall 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is interesting, but I think completion rates (and enrollments, to a degree) are bogus statistics. All the incentives are aligned toward signing up for lots of courses, with or without any intention to finish. I'm "enrolled" in 13 Coursera classes at the moment, but only active in two (and something close to this has been my moving average for the last six months).

The only cost to me is a few too many automated emails. And since course quality still varies widely, trying out lots of courses and sticking with the best ones is a good strategy.

ics 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I sign up for just about every one that looks interesting, obviously without the time to finish them all. The reason is quite simply because I want to look at the materials on my time, occasionally take part in the discussions, and try out the assignments here and there that look particularly challenging. Last I checked, you had to be registered to view any of the materials on EdX and Coursera which is pretty much why I do it this way.
arikrak 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Its silly to criticize them for rates under 20% since many people sign up just to see what it's like without actually planning on finishing it. What would be more relevant is to see what percent of serious committed students finish a course. E.g. what percent of students who pay for a course end up finishing it?
ams6110 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting in what that might say about job candidates who have actually completed a number of MOOCs. That would put them in the top 10% or so by that measure, for whatever that's worth. It at least says something about their ability to start something and finish it.
guwhoa 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Could it also be that many people will sign up in order to get access to certain materials, but then not end up completing all of the assignments/exams?

I don't have any experience with MOOC's, so I'm curious as to how these peer graded systems work and why they result in lower completion rates.

The Fall of Academics at Harvard thecrimson.com
43 points by protomyth  7 hours ago   33 comments top 14
thinkcomp 3 hours ago 3 replies      
As a Harvard '04-'05 grad (two numbers meaning I left early) I think The Crimson, as per usual, misses the mark.

It is indeed partly the part of the faculty for not engaging with students (e.g. teaching) enough. But even if some of the faculty had engaged more with us as students when I was there, I might have run for my life even faster than I already did, because some of the faculty just weren't that great. In fact, some were awful. (I've written a not-very-popular book in which this is a major theme.)

Harry Lewis's attempt to protect the students from blame here is admirable, but similarly mistaken. Harvard's admissions office (which used to be run by his wife, I'm not sure if it still is) selects for the best and the brightest, but inevitable in such a selection process is a tendency to pick what William Deresiewicz calls "excellent sheep"--kids who do (or appear to do) what they're told extremely well. When you pair that with an Office of Career Services (OCS) that acts as a funnel to Wall Street--many people in my class ended up destroying the world at Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs--what do you expect to happen? You've got a huge population of smart kids whose end goal is a place in a culture where success at any cost is not just appropriate, it's encouraged.

A large portion of football team cheated on a midterm in Economics 1010a in 2003 (they took advantage of a scheduling conflict with Statistics 104 to get extra time on the exam), but no one ever got in trouble for it. My guess is that half of the people who knew about it wished that they had been so "smart."

The cheating scandal is major, but in a way, I think it's the least of Harvard's problems. They haven't even touched on the Adderall problem, or the kinds of faculty conflicts of interest highlighted in Inside Job, and they've only slightly addressed the draconian, opaque and backwards nature of the Ad Board. Even knowing about some of the important research that goes on there, in my opinion, Harvard's real problem is that its general role of late has been pretty far from a force for good, let alone truth. It's just been a rubber stamp for the broken society we read about in the headlines daily. Correcting that problem requires actual leadership which, since Larry Summers was President, has been sorely lacking.

P.S. If you think the Valley or even YC is disconnected from this dynamic, don't kid yourself. CS50 enrollment is way up because everyone thinks that they'll be the next billionaire like Mark. But CS50 is not why Bill Gates, Mark, Sheryl Sandberg (Summers's former assistant) or Nathan Blecharczyk sit atop billion-dollar companies (see http://www.aarongreenspan.com/writing/essay.html?id=70). And with Jim Breyer of Accel now elected to the Harvard Corporation... You get the picture. Cheating has its rewards.

simonsarris 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Of course this is the Harvard Crimson writing about Harvard, but the words in the article could be applicable to damn near any institution, at least in the U.S.

> The institution and the community condones, if not promotes, academic dishonesty, emphasizing prestige over intellectual growth. Academics are no longer the priority of the students or teachers at Harvard College.


> This prevalence of academic dishonesty is symptomatic of a pervading mentality on campus that neglects the classroom.

> Nicolaus Mills '60, a literature professor at Sarah Lawrence College, points to a weak emphasis on undergraduate teaching as an underlying factor that enabled the scandal to take place on Harvard's campus.

> ... As professors invest less time in the classroom"a product of pressures to establish themselves primarily as researchers"so too do teaching fellows and students.

The above attitude unfortunately has been (and will continue to be) copied by any institution hoping to place itself among prestigious names. My alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) made a huge shift in recent years (2006-) towards firing much of the "clinical faculty", which was the name reserved for faculty who did not engage in research, and instead merely taught.

Unfortunately for students, faculty who do engage in research often consider the teaching component of their careers as an afterthought (or worse, an annoyance).


The single most important thing I learned when I was a child tutor is this: Without enthusiasm you've got nothing - zero - to work with in a student. And if they don't have it coming in you've got a non-trivial problem. You can't teach enthusiasm, it's imparted only one way.

Enthusiasm is contagious. It's part of the draw of being in a school in the first place, around so many other bright people who are willing to be there and spend the time learning. Then you get to this:

> “The modal Harvard student takes their courses as seriously as they think the instructor is taking the course,”

And it's painfully understandable that the experience will be damning for the average student, regardless of institution.

jccalhoun 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm really surprised that the people teaching at Harvard don't seem to be putting forth any effort to make assignments that are at least somewhat difficult to cheat on. I'm only a grad student at a Big Ten school but I always try to make my assignments require something that they can't just copy down from someone else even if it is just randomized questions. Obviously this is easier in some disciplines than others but even when I was an undergrad back in the early 90s I took an intro-level Physics course where every student's test was randomly generated from a bank of questions (admittedly it wasn't very good. One test I remember getting the same question 3 times!).
hkmurakami 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Disclosure: I graduated from Princeton in 2007

This article (which I skimmed) seems to use Princeton as a counterpoint to Harvard's supposed cheating culture and lax attitude towards academics. I have no idea whether students actually treat academics with more respect than their Crimson counterparts "on average".

However, I can definitely say that the kind of collaboration/copying/cheating that is described for Harvard's Econ10 course happens throughout Princeton. Whomever is being quoted from Princeton, casting it as this supposed utopia of higher learning, is either bubbling PR nonsense or is just completely out of touch with what goes on in the field.

com2kid 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Homework is how one prepares for tests. Long form take home assignments should be designed with collaboration in mind.

Students explaining their understanding of a topic to each other is one of the most powerful ways for them to learn. I am fond of the saying that one doesn't truly understand a topic until one has explained it to another.

In class tests should be long, brutal, and test student's ability to come to their own conclusions based on concepts that were covered throughout the class.

jechen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's no different at Carnegie Mellon. I spoke to a former SCS dean who revealed that cheating rates in CS courses are as high as 70%, yet most professors turn a blind eye (which as the Crimson article points out, may be attributed to apathy or inability to enforce class policy at a large scale).

The fact that academic dishonesty is so prevalent these days makes me inclined to believe that cheating is symptomatic of the state of higher education (and maybe the way pedagogy is approached in the modern classroom), especially in light of rising tuition and unemployment rates. When a majority of students across institutions resort to compromising their integrity and learning for a letter grade, at which point do we start reassessing education at large?

scarmig 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Academia is broken as a mechanism for education and learning. And MOOCs, despite their advantages, really can't reclaim what has been lost.

Nowadays many--most, I'd suspect--universities aren't really distinguishing themselves as the places for the building of men and women into better people and citizens of the world. Instead, they serve at the lower end as a credentialing mechanism to corporate society that someone has acceptable impulse control and willingness to embrace the system, and at the higher end as a finishing school for the finance and government elite.

Certainly at both ends some people interested in intellectually appreciating the natural and social worlds come out, but that's despite, not because of, its actual current social function. I remember the second lecture in my quantum class the professor literally reading straight out, word-for-word, from the Griffiths textbook and ran out of the classroom as soon as it was scheduled to be over. Which is an extreme example, but certainly the majority of my major classes got their value from the problem sets and textbook they forced us to work through and the people I worked with on them, not through the value-add the professor or university provides.

Why shouldn't people cheat? Our society is fine with it outside the academy (maybe not explicitly, but you can tell by how it values and punishes who do cheat). If universities exist to serve it commercially, might as well inculcate its values while it's at it.

a_p 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought that the quality of writing in the article was very poor. As a side note, I also found it funny that many are worried that the "prestige" of Harvard is besmirched, because the original meaning (now obsolete) of prestige was

  An illusion; a conjuring trick; a deception, an imposture.

EDIT: Even the title of the article is unintentionally funny. Because academics may also be the plural of academic (better described as an academician), the title may be taken literally.

>As professors focus on their research, and students worry about securing career opportunities, both sides become increasingly disinterested in the classroom.

This sentence is atrocious, not only because of the use of "disinterested" for "uninterested" (Bryan Garner classifies this usage as Stage 4 on the language change index, meaning that it is ubiquitous but still not quite accepted [1]), but because the meaning is ambiguous. Are the views of the students about the idea of classroom learning changing, or do the students feel apathetic inside the classrooms of professors who ignore cheating?

Another poorly written sentence:

>The roughly 30-member committee was established in the fall of 2010 and includes about eight student members.

This sentence would be fine in informal speech. In formal writing, especially in a respected newspaper such as the Crimson, it is unacceptable.

Somewhere, John Simon is muttering under his breath.[2]

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Garners-Modern-American-Usage-Garner/d...
[2] http://www.amazon.com/Paradigms-Lost-Reflections-John-Simon/...

jvrossb 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it possible to craft a course that assumed that students would collaborate/copy from each other and the internet while completing any take home assignment (so homework and projects but not in-class tests), allow for it explicitly, and still teach as much as the existing courses would have if students didn't collaborate/copy?
rezendi 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Plus ça change. Communal work on weekly/monthly assignments was basically ubiquitous when I went to university mumblemumble years ago. (OK, fine; electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo, graduated 1996.)

It didn't really _feel_ like cheating to anyone, including me, who rarely-if-ever participated, fwiw. (Not due to any moral high ground, but because a) I was not particularly social at the time b) "100% of your grade is based on your final exam score" was usually an option, and (relative to other students) my exams were far better than my assignments.)

Was it? Mmm. Probably yes, in the end, but it seems to me that you could make a reasonable prescriptive/descriptive case that it wasn't.

Was it evidence of a serious moral flaw pervasive throughout that generation, or excessive pressure to excel (Waterloo is basically Canada's MIT), or anything like? Hell no. It was just a grotesque but essentially harmless cultural artifact. With twenty years of hindsight, I'd advise against reading too much into it.

crabasa 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm astonished that commenters are generalizing the issues in this article to U.S. in general. I never encountered anything remotely at this scale when I attended the College of William & Mary ('00). I'd guess that the culture of cheating written about in this article is simply a byproduct of amassing the kind of people who can get into Harvard in the first place: straight A, hyper competitive achievers.
leephillips 5 hours ago 2 replies      
From the article: "The institution and the community condones, if not promotes, academic dishonesty, emphasizing prestige over intellectual growth."

This institution has employed, as professors, various characters including Henry Kissinger and Dave Winer. This assessment is in line with the impression that gives me.

zallarak 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do we care about cheating undergrads at Harvard again? I'd care about an article on Harvard undergrads if they were actually doing something I care about! Post about that if you want to.
doctorpangloss 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The real story: How much better CS50 is than all of the other offerings.
Rap Genius (YC S11) responds to Heroku's call for ‘respect' venturebeat.com
151 points by jolie  9 hours ago   62 comments top 16
tvladeck 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't matter how efficient or inefficient RG was with their Rails app. It's almost certainly true that they could have done things better on their end, and their performance penalty wouldn't have been as severe -- but that really is not the point.

The point is that one company promised a level of service with their product that they did not deliver, and the difference was significant and persistent. The fact that the consumer could have used the product more efficiently is immaterial to that fact.

Other things that don't matter:

-that RG could/should move to another provider. That is of course their choice now, but it does not change the money they've spent and wasted with Heroku.

-that the routing problem is hard. If anything this makes it worse - it's a hard problem so people would pay a lot of money for a solution. What matters is that Heroku claimed to solve it and did not.

-that other consumers of the product managed to figure this out before RG. Heroku was still advertising through their documentation that they offered a routing solution, and they did not make clear to their customers that a significant feature of their product was now different.

Furthermore, Heroku appeared to obfuscate this fact and shift blame to the customer during the time RG was trying to diagnose their issues.

Now, by attacking RG's tone, Heroku have employed argument-level DH2 [1], which at least according to pg is not even worth considering. They have at least acknowledged their mistake, but to me that means that by extension they have sold something that they did not deliver on. The only honest way to move forward is for Heroku to offer some kind of compensation to the customers that were affected.

[1]: http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

brown9-2 7 hours ago 3 replies      
You have to feel comfortable that those people will generally give you good value for your money (since you can't literally observe everything they do) and that they will tell you when something's wrong as soon as they know, rather than covering it up.

I used to feel this way about Heroku, and I might again in the future, but I don't right now.

I have a hard time understanding why, for all the money Rap Genius pays Heroku, they don't simply set up their own instances on EC2 and run the app there themselves. It seems like for a few days work with Puppet or Chef you could automate getting your code onto dozens of EC2 instances and installing the necessary tools/server processes, plus you don't have to complain anymore about how you can't run Unicorn.

Yes I get that there is a certain amount of value in being able to pay someone else to do all these things for you and saving time - but if you aren't happy with the result and the value given the money you are paying (and RG is not), then at a certain point it's time to just bite the bullet and fix things yourselves instead of continuing to be hamstrung by problems that the hosting provider won't/can't fix. There comes a point where you get large enough, and you are paying enough to Heroku, that it would be worth it to do things yourself and eliminate the problems.

sologoub 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This entire thing against Heroku is so disingenuous... The fact that New Relic didn't expose these metrics is not great, but has very little to do with Rap Genius team not knowing about the metric.

Apparently, the fact that requests can be queued at Dyno level was common public knowledge back in 2011! Here's a quote from Stackoverflow answer:

"Your best indication if you need more dynos (aka processes on Cedar) is your heroku logs. Make sure you upgrade to expanded logging (it's free) so that you can tail your log.

You are looking for the heroku.router entries and the value you are most interested is the queue value - if this is constantly more than 0 then it's a good sign you need to add more dynos. Essentially this means than there are more requests coming in than your process can handle so they are being queued. If they are queued too long without returning any data they will be timed out."

Source: http://stackoverflow.com/a/8428998/276328

When you use a PaaS, it doesn't mean you don't need to be serious about it and completely forget about all technical aspects. Granted, it should have been included with New Relic from day one, but hardly justifies such a direct and persistent attack on Heroku.

benologist 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Reading things like 512mb isn't enough for more than one request at a time, and one request at a time, and the performance of that one request looking terrible even though it's obviously got an entire vm dedicated to it...

What are (edit:) Rails developers getting in exchange for these enormous penalties that makes it worth choosing?

thraxil 8 hours ago 3 replies      
"Yes, one solution is to run a concurrent web server like Unicorn, but this is very difficult on Heroku since concurrent servers use more memory and Heroku's dynos only have 512mb of ram, which is low for even processing one request simultaneously."

Is this really accurate? 512mb is barely adequate for serving a single request at a time? I'm not a Rails developer, but that sounds terrible. I'm all for trading off some performance for rapid development, but that seems a bit extreme.

I'm currently running twelve Django apps on one 512MB Rackspace VM. It's a bit tight, and I don't get a lot of traffic on them, but it's basically fine. And that's with Apache worker mpm + mod_wsgi (with an Nginx reverse proxy in front) which probably isn't even the lightest approach. And having been writing apps in Erlang and Go recently, I'm starting to feel like Python/Django are unforgivably bloated in comparison.

kmfrk 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Rap Genius gets a (YC) tag, but Heroku don't?

I've always wondered whether the cut-off is time- or success-based. Maybe pg should write a Boolean return function for that. :P

Big props to Rap Genius for explaining the problem so plainly in the article. Unfortunately, many people of prominence in tech aren't even capable of talking about what they do to laymen.

jonmc12 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why does Lehman say Heroku is "one of a kind in the world". Isn't Cloud Foundry equivalent? http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-differences-between-C...
aelaguiz 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The complaints of what amounts to essentially support contract extortion are something that I've personally experienced.

They were literally ignoring our repeated customer service tickets pleading for assistance or a phone call or something. We were paying them hundreds of dollars per month at the time.

When we finally got through the only people we could get ahold of were salesman. Essentially we were made to believe that only for $1000/mo support contract would we receive customer support.

FWIW Our issue was frequent network timeouts to other ec2 services which were. They did eventually resolve those after months and never did they assist us.

Heroku's platform is a significant accelerator of development for a startup. Using the platform has enabled us to do things faster and better than we'd otherwise be able to do them for the money and time we've invested.

That being said, I look forward to they day they have a true/viable competitor and are forced to compete on service. I'm extremely bitter towards them at the moment as a result of my customer support torture experience.

ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So what happens when Heroku says "Ok, fine, we can't give you the service you want, please download any data you want to keep and we'll re-allocate those resources to our other customers in 60 or 90 days." ?

This has taken on the patina of a really huge fight between operations and engineering with nobody to step in and say "Hey, we both want to make progress here, let see what we can do." there is no common point of contact here sadly.

What is the end goal? One of these companies being out of business? What? Its pretty clear that Heroku doesn't have any ideas on how to implement routing the way Rap Genius believed it worked, they even said as much. So what is the next step?

dkhenry 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is the tech world equivalent of tabloids. Please don't promote this mindless back and forth, If you have a problem with Heroku leave and go to one of the other providers. If you don't stay and push them to fix this problem. Either way stop pretending this is some huge event that we must mindlessly obsess over
plasma 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's obvious that Rap Genius would be happy with a "I see how its a problem, let us fix it" quote from Heroku - just acknowledging that there is an underlying problem and that there is a future on the platform.
dtweney 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's the other side of the story, from Heroku: http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/28/heroku-chief-opens-up-abou...
paul_f 5 hours ago 0 replies      
We were promised flying cars and got online Rap lyrics instead.
hashset 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Did they seriously sell a Gem 'New Relic' as a diagnostic tool that flat-out makes up queuing and response latency numbers on requests to their platform? If this is true then hell yes they need to refund all their customers!
woah 2 hours ago 0 replies      
oh snap! R to the G startin some beef! when's the freestyle rap battle going down?
Sujan 8 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm sorry, but Tom Lehman sounds like a real dick to me in this interview. Heroku fucked up royally, sure, but why does RapGenius have to keep bashing them even after they started fixing things?
Why Watching DVDs on Linux is Illegal in the USA howtogeek.com
193 points by vilgax  19 hours ago   118 comments top 18
JohnHaugeland 12 hours ago 6 replies      
This isn't even close to correct.

What the DMCA says is that you can't strip and redistribute the content, not that you can't strip and watch it. This is an old false stalking horse.

And even if this is correct, this wouldn't make you a criminal; since nobody knows, this does not rise to the level of intent.

Notice how if this was true, people would be making a fortune going after TiVo.


Notice that he's also saying that it's legal to jailbreak a phone (it isn't, anymore,) and that the reason it was legal was an exemption to the DMCA (which is completely incorrect.)

Notice that the thing he's claiming is illegal is a link to a thing that's actually about a completely different topic - space shifting, ie they claim, taking the DVD, decoding it, then transferring that decoded version to another device.

Oh, and that place he's citing is also wrong. This isn't what the problem is in the eyes of the copyright office. Space shifting is perfectly legal, and is done on large consumer devices all the time. iTunes can do it, your Archos can do it, the SlingBox can do it, the high end TiVo can do it, I think the Hopper might be able to, et cetera.

Quoting the source he claims said this was illegal:

> "And the RIAA and the MPAA agree with you. In
> 2005, their lawyer (now the Solicitor General of
> the United States) assured the Supreme Court that
> “The record companies, my clients, have said, for
> some time now, and it's been on their Website for
> some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a
> CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your
> computer, put it onto your iPod."
> Movie executives agree as well. Mitch Singer, the
> Chief Technology Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment
> explained to author Robert Levine that the idea for
> the movie industry's UltraViolet program evolved out
> of Singer's own frustration with transferring movies
> between PCs in his home.

And, of course, the Fair Use clause of the copyright act makes it perfectly clear that you're allowed to do this as long as you aren't transmitting it to other people. Have fun. Go nuts.

There was a point at which it was, briefly, illegal to decode DVDs under Linux, but it had nothing to do with any of this, and it's long since undone. What was actually going on was that the MP3 decoder is under patent by Fraunhofer AG, and back in the mid-1990s, before most people understood what Linux was, but when MP3 players were starting to become popular, Fraunhofer started to assert their patent to take money from device manufacturers.

A few MP3 makers protested that they were using the MP3 stuff built into Linux, and as such they weren't the ones using the tech, Linux was, and Fraunhofer ought to go after Linux. Fraunhofer fell for this, and in response, the community removed MP3 stuff to insulate itself from legal nonsense. A couple months later Fraunhofer figured out what Linux was, and issued a free use license like decent people, but the community was so long since neckbearded out over the topic that they never put any of it back in.

And then the legends of what was going on began.

This is why you don't take legal advice from random programmers on the internet.

This is a bunch of moral panic over a misunderstanding of the copyright system. There's absolutely no reason that it's illegal to watch a DVD in America. This just isn't true at all.

spindritf 17 hours ago 3 replies      
In Poland you can make a backup copy of a DVD circumventing "security" measures where necessary. More, you can share that copy with members of your family and people in your social circle. It's considered fair use.

Anyway, while this law seems completely and horribly broken, technology allowed us to escape it a bit. I don't even have optical drives in my computers any more.

Of course, this means that watching any movie or tv show on a computer requires downloading it from... a source because popular online players (some offer content for free, like TVN, a large private broadcaster; and not just a clip here and there " full episodes, even whole films) usually require Silverlight which doesn't really work on Ubuntu. Luckily, that " downloading copyrighted materials for personal use " is, again, legal†.

† some exceptions apply.

anoncow 16 hours ago 3 replies      
We continue trying to find ways to create new outlaws. 6 strikes came into effect and nobody is bothered. The govt does not represent the people. What is said is not meant. We live and are expected to live chasing things we don't want and as slaves to masters, hoping to be masters someday. It is extremely disturbing to be able to think about all this and live life. It is no wonder that some people choose to ignore all of the negativity and live whatever is left of their lives.
jzwinck 17 hours ago 7 replies      
Equally weird is that watching PBS content online is blocked if you're not physically sitting in America. For those who don't know, PBS is a US non-profit TV network, partially funded by the federal government and to varying degrees the states. Yet their website actively blocks would-be viewers outside the US, including US citizens (who are required to pay US taxes wherever they live).

Oh, and when I took my Korean-made but US-bought TV to the UK, guess what? Its Netflix feature stopped working completely.

Whether buying a DVD or streaming video online, I'm tired of not getting what I pay for.

bpatrianakos 13 hours ago 7 replies      
This is nothing to get in a tizzy about. DMCA is stupid, we know, but the reality is that laws are made all the time that have some asinine edge-case side effect that makes a totally innocent action a criminal offense. The important question here is, are you likely to be prosecuted for such a dumb thing. I think it's relatively safe to say you won't. Obviously we can't say the same for those of us who'd be inclined to build our own DVD playback software but to use it to view a DVD is, in reality, not going to get you in trouble.

I'm not saying I support this. I absolutely don't. My question is, what's the point here? To me, this comes off as another article meant to get all the anti-copyright, anti-DMCA people to all come together and pat each other on the back for how smart they are for being against such silly laws. This stuff is good to know and interesting but I'm still a little disappointed its on the front page of HN. It seems like exactly the kind of thing the guidelines say not to post. It's an easy up vote - who can't get behind the idea of DVD playback on Linux being illegal being, well, ludicrous.

caf 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I was a little taken aback to realise that a new generation of hackers that doesn't remember a world without the DMCA is now here. DVD Jon isn't a kid anymore... he'd be pushing 30 by now.
pfortuny 17 hours ago 4 replies      
I just realized the other day that public projection of a DVD in an oil rig is illegal (yes, they appear explicitly in the banner). Funny: hospitals, schools, ..., oil rigs!


craftman 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Guys, the best way to react to this is to create our own content (music, films, books, theater, whatever...) then share and appreciate with friends. We dont need those companies to invent our life.
ishansharma 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't love in USA but I have an impression that laws like this are made just to put more money in pockets of RIAA and other similar ass.es.

Most of the copyright laws are standing on the line of sanity and one small change can make them appear like creation of a kindergarten kid.

waterlesscloud 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The weirder thing on Linux is that you can watch Amazon's streaming videos in Firefox, but not in Chrome. Apparently the Flash plugin for Chrome on Linux removed drm for some reason, so Amazon killed it as a supported platform.
flexie 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Yet another marginalization of freedom serving the interests of a the few well-lobbbied rightsholders.
unreal37 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Who are these people who want to play DVDs on Linux? I have Windows and I have played a DVD on my computer exactly "never" times in the past 20 years.

If you want to play a DVD on Linux, boot Windows for that. Or use a DVD player. Or don't watch DVDs any more. Or crack it in the comfort of your own home for only your own use, and noone will ever prosecute you.

SeppoErviala 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not limited to Linux but affects all players that use libdvdcss. For example, Windows and OSX versions of VLC come bundled with the library.
sbouafif 7 hours ago 0 replies      
In France using VLC to watch a DVD is illegal too.


jdhuang 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Curious to hear whether these weird Linux-asymmetries apply to Blu-Ray or online digital media (e.g. Hulu/Netflix) too.

I would be willing to accept the fact that DVDs were invented so long ago that some of their restrictions are a little archaic.

zabuni 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Minor quibble with the article. Handbrake is not illegal. It does not break encryption, it merely transcodes. It, by design, does not come with a copy of libdvdcss, and you have to download it through other means. It will also, on a mac, go find VLC's copy and use it.

The people behind Handbrake are somewhat touchy about this, for good reason.

lysium 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It's also illegal to do so in Germany.
dimadima 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Whaaaaaat? This is the oldest news ever. I'm going back to sleep, and when I wake up, this site better not be a throwback to 2002, OK?
Linux Gamers Make Up ~2% Of Valve's Steam Users phoronix.com
111 points by velodrome  15 hours ago   80 comments top 16
kibwen 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Here are Steam's December Linux numbers that I recorded back in January:

  OS                         Share Delta
Ubuntu 12.10 64 bit 0.29% +0.29%
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 64 bit 0.26% +0.26%
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 0.13% +0.13%
Ubuntu 12.10 0.12% +0.12%
Other 0.71% +0.14%

Note that this was the first month that Linux use was recorded, which means that the delta for "Other" is almost certainly entirely Linux (for example, there was no "Linux Mint" option then).

Here's this month's numbers, for easy comparison:

  OS                          Share Delta
Ubuntu 12.10 64 bit 0.71% +0.28%
Ubuntu 12.10 0.38% +0.19%
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS 64 bit 0.31% +0.31%
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS 0.20% +0.20%
Linux Mint 14 Nadia 64 bit 0.17% +0.17%
Linux 64 bit 0.14% +0.14%
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 64 bit 0.11% -0.22%
Other 0.82% +0.06%

BTW, if you're a Steam user on Linux, don't neglect to fill out the hardware survey if you get selected. It really is an awesome resource for determining the capabilities of the average gaming computer. There's also a handful of strange results... is Firefox really six times more popular than Chrome on Windows? Are there really people still gaming on 640x480 monitors?

dthunt 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm actually really frustrated by Steam's linux port. If you're not running Ubuntu it's freakishly inconvenient to get running.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining that Steam doesn't have a gentoo package that is maintained by them. I'm pissed off that they call apt-get directly from the application, don't make it easy to discover steam's requirements to run, have a confusing maze of launch scripts, and a bunch of other major no-no's.

The ubuntu desktop is an easy access market, with some big upsides from Steam's perspective. But there's a long history out there of vendors successfully handling a broadly usable linux port without pulling this kind of nonsense (attempting to maintain dependencies system-wide without even asking if it's okay!), and a great number of linux users are happy to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH and rebuild libpng or whatever for any special application requirements if they're not running your 'officially supported' distribution.

That having been said, I'm playing Cave Story right now on linux.

nirvana 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Steam's support on OS X is the suck. I don't know what the experience is like on Linux, but given there is less competition from better stores on Linux I wouldn't be surprised to see Steam be a big hit on Linux.

As for me, after being a steam user for years, but given the fact that I haven't been able to play team fortress for 5 months now despite playing it for years, in the future, I'll use the Mac App Store.

bryanlarsen 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Rather than the silly "doubling" headline, there's another number that's much more interesting: that Linux users are 2% of steam users and OSX is 3%. Compare those numbers with total share: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_system.... OSX is at 7% and Linux at 1%.

It'll be really interesting to see where the Steam numbers end up when they stabilize.

norswap 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Relevant xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/605/
forrestthewoods 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Meh. The one and only question that matters is "how many Linux users would buy my game that would not have bought it on either OS X or Windows". That number is significantly smaller than 2%.

I'm very excited at the prospects of SteamBox and can't wait to learn more. I'm not sure Steam on desktop linux will ever be meaningful.

I do wonder what happens if Steambox comes out with some flavor of Linux included but installing Windows grants an automatic 20% performance increase due to drivers. Hell, I'd install Windows even if it were only a 5% increase.

dominicmauro 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Valve was giving away a promotional item in Team Fortress 2 for users who logged into the game from a Linux machine. The last time they did this, for users who logged in from a Mac, the promotional item became a kind of in-game de facto currency.

There were lots of users logging in once from an Ubuntu VM instance for the item; it'll be interesting to see if this growth continues now that the item giveaway is over.

For reference: http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Tux

speeder 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I expect this to increase.easier than OSX because OSX machines are inherently expensive.

Also I know many persons that don't used Linux only because there was no steam for it.

antonios 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Even better, I dare say that Steam's Linux market share has experienced infinite growth since February (where it was 0% exactly). Amazing, really.
YokoZar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There have been a few occasion's where I've managed to pry the number of Wine users out of Valve over the years -- the Linux usage numbers look fairly similar.

Unfortunately, there was a period of about a year or two where the hardware survey would crash under Wine, so the data is probably very biased against Wine users (even I learned not to opt in).

saosebastiao 11 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who has absolutely zero interest in gaming, this is the most exciting news I have read on HN for a good month or so.
frozenport 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What percentage of Linux gamers are also Windows gamers?

If P(Linux | Windows) = 1.0, we know steam grew operating complexity instead of business.

dman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope that steam breaks the myth that Linux users will not pay for software.
anoncow 11 hours ago 2 replies      
More games please. Many of the bundle games are also not available.
cabirum 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of these are VMs to get a new TF2 hat, anyway.
Nican 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I am curios to see what version of OpenGL people have.
Peugeot Bets on a Different Kind of Hybrid Car nytimes.com
9 points by vdondeti  4 hours ago   5 comments top
stcredzero 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Isn't compressed air somewhat like capacitors? So-so energy density, but great power density? It's supposed to be great for a burst of speed, but not for lots of range.
Time Team: the rise and fall of a television phenomenon archaeology.co.uk
15 points by nekojima  6 hours ago   4 comments top 3
timthorn 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Time Team is the only example I'm aware of where proper scholarly research was created as a by product of popular television on a regular basis.

As the article states, "It is to the Channel's credit that it did this [pump £4M into British archaeology]] despite much of that outlay being channelled into post-excavation work that never appeared onscreen."

nekojima 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The technical advances used in archaeology illustrated over the past twenty years of this program have been phenomenal. While a trowel is still mandatory, the use of geophysics technology has advanced and assisted in fieldwork in so many ways. Highlighted by Time Team, its a shame to see that this won't be as public anymore to such a wide audience.
pknight 2 hours ago 0 replies      
To me it feels like a case of a network sabotaging its own show. Step 1: be incredibly inconsistent with air times and play around with dates, step 2: dumb the program to capture a larger audience by making sweeping changes, introducing younger presenters and disturbing a well-oiled team that people have come to love, step 3: ax show when ratings fail to climb because bogus strategy didn't work.

A terrible loss for archeology, not just in the UK. Twenty seasons is a massive achievement though.

Establishing secure connection wellsfargo.com
433 points by eloisius  1 day ago   139 comments top 35
ben1040 1 day ago 6 replies      
This reminds me of something we had at my office about 15 years ago because people were complaining their workstations were slow. In reality, their workstations were just slow machines; standard issue box for most people was a 70MHz Sun SS-5.

So we wrote a perl script that printed out a bunch of platitudes like these, while printing out an ASCII "progress bar." It had some randomly determined sleep() calls in there to make it seem like it was doing something.

  Optimizing priority queues...
Recalculating scheduler lookup tables...
Terminating unused system processes...
Recovering memory leaks...
Flushing network buffers...

Then it'd randomly pick a number X and report to the user "System reports X% faster."

We called it "speed" and deployed it to the app server. Some folks started getting into the habit of running it every morning and swore by it.

MattRogish 1 day ago 11 replies      
This is one of those things that is done by people going "We need our customers to 'feel secure'". I get the rationale, but is there actually any data that suggests this gives that actual feeling? That users "feel" more secure? Or are more trusting of the site? Or is this just cargo-cult UX?

I've seen this on too many financial apps to think it's an isolated incident. It's clearly a "thing" in financial apps (TurboTax.com does it all the time; I see it on my Bank app, lots of mobile apps, etc.)

There's gotta be a reason, even if it's wrong.

seldo 1 day ago 2 replies      
This sort of fake-loader animated GIF is pretty common; it's just a slightly more advanced version of a spinner GIF. I don't think it's really that bad.

What would be bad is if this page would accept a parameter to redirect you to somewhere, but it appears it doesn't do that -- it just closes itself. Presumably this page appears in an overlay that then closes itself.

rgbrenner 1 day ago 1 reply      
this page doesn't actually do anything. It loads two animated gifs from Akamai (one for the text, and one for the bar), and then uses some javascript to close the window.

If I had to guess, there's a login page. When you submit your login, this page pops up and displays while the login is processed.


  <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">






<p align="center">

<img src="https://a248.e.akamai.net/6/248/3583/000/wellsoffice.wellsfargo.com/ceoportal/DocumentumRepository/content/images/signon/messaging.gif" width="300" height="30" border="0" alt="Loading Status" /><br />

<img src="https://a248.e.akamai.net/6/248/3583/000/wellsoffice.wellsfargo.com/ceoportal/DocumentumRepository/content/images/signon/statusbar.gif" width="300" height="30" border="0" alt="Loading Status Bar" />


<script type="text/javascript">

var selfClose = function() {



window.onload = function() {

setTimeout(selfClose, 10000);


window.onblur = function() {






tptacek 1 day ago 2 replies      
Exactly the security I'd expect from a "CEO Portal". :
jmandzik 1 day ago 2 replies      
Somewhere, deep within Wells Fargo HQ, there was a depressed developer in a windowless office that died a little inside when asked to make this.
aqme28 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you were going to inspect to see if it was actually doing anything, let me save you the trouble. It just plays these two gifs ontop of eachother.


mattdeboard 1 day ago 2 replies      
TurboTax has something that struck me today as similar (in spirit) to this, though TurboTax's is a skeuomorphic thing.

It's the "Save & Exit" button TurboTax has. I'm sure that they are saving all info as it is entered, but users of QuickBooks, Excel, etc., I'm sure are used to having to save their data manually then exit.

I think all the guffawing at this progress bar is a little overblown. If a question or concern comes up in user testing multiple times -- "How do I know my connection is secure?" -- then why not put something in there that makes the user feel safer? What's the problem with that? Sure maybe it's a little overblown graphically but, c'mon, when you're a bank you need your customers to feel secure, in addition to actually being secure.

joshwayne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of comments condemning this feature and saying it's ridiculous. However, you have to understand that people outside of the tech industry have a very different mental model of how computers work than the rest of us.

One example of this is shown in a usability study by the Baymard Institute on top ecommerce checkout processes [1]. The goal of the study was to determine best practices for checkout usability by testing the top 15 ecommerce sites. One of the more fascinating finds they made was that during the checkout process, users perceived certain fields as being more secure than others. Even though the fields were all part of the same form and on the same page, users still believed fields with a little lock icon were more secure than the rest of the fields! It didn't matter if the entire page was encrypted. Users would abandon the checkout process because the credit card fields didn't "feel secure" compared to the rest of the page.

To most of us, this looks like a frivolous feature suggested by a "UX monkey" (as one commenter put it) but don't underestimate the power of making users feel safe. For all we know, this stupid gif could have cut support calls 20%.

[1] http://baymard.com/checkout-usability

ripberge 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use this tool everyday and it has always made me laugh. The security of the CEO portal is actually legit though. In order to do anything you must login with: company name, username & password. Once inside in order to do anything important you must use your pin number + a random number from a security dongle like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_token

Then someone else from within your company must repeat a similar process to approve your action. So you always need at least two people within your company to perform any action.

Typically the CEO portal is used for wire transfers where security is pretty damn important--once the money is gone--its really, really gone.

unsignedint 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of a story I heard about those ATMs. What I heard is that there are technologies out there that can make a machine to count/validate cash almost instantaneous while not sacrificing accuracy. But apparently, that makes some customers worry that their money is not being processed right, and thus, every time you deposit money to those ATMs, they make that grinding noise, appears to be doing something useful.
jlarocco 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's kind of silly.

But as a Wells Fargo customer, I've never seen it while using their website, and I use the site to check my accounts and transfer money between accounts once or twice a week.

mikegirouard 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As a fan of UX patterns I'm curious: what would this one be called?
salman89 1 day ago 0 replies      
Likely is security theater, but in all fairness they might actually be doing all those things and wanted a UI element to let users know what is taking so long.
JadeNB 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The Mac OS X.4 PBE would display the estimated boot time on startup; I thought it was using sophisticated logic, but was later told that it just averaged the last, say, 10 boot times (which is probably at least as reliable). I seem to remember that you could even execute `/usr/bin/loginwindow` (or some such path) from the command line and watch it pretend to boot at any time. I forget when this 'feature' went"maybe as early as Leopard?"but it's not in Mountain Lion.
daigoba66 1 day ago 0 replies      
"reticulating splines"
hy3lxs 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Locksmith gets less tips and more price complaints for being faster"

(807 days ago)

eclipticplane 22 hours ago 0 replies      
We added progress bars and silly status messages to our 500 error pages in our web app. Things like a 15 second count down to "recalibrate" or "attempting automatic system correction". It, at minimum, stopped users from constantly clicking a button or link that was having server issues (and thus spamming our error queue). Instead, they'd wait the 15 seconds and then go try again.

If the issue was transient, like a dropped connection to the database or memcached or some obscure deadlock, the "automatic" fixes worked as expected from the user's perspective. We, of course, still got the full error report to diagnose the issue.

I even have a few gems in our user feedback system where the users outright praise the "automatic error fixer" and they wish every website/app had a tool like ours.

obilgic 1 day ago 1 reply      
It closes the tab when I click "inspect element". How does it detect that?
gesman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I envy consulting company that was tasked $100k to build such a "secure solution" :)
manaskarekar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this interesting reddit discussion:

And the corresponding HN discussion that followed:

(Apple's iOS is "deceptively fast") http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4047032

In this case, we have security instead of speed. That's not to say it isn't secure anyway.

dumyCredentials 1 day ago 1 reply      
You can see this in action by trying to login using dummy credentials here: https://wellsoffice.wellsfargo.com/ceoportal/


noblethrasher 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Don Norman discusses why you would want to do something like that here http://businessofsoftware.org/video_09_dnorman.aspx (50:30).
ante_annum 1 day ago 2 replies      
So, it's actually possible to update a dynamically served gif to provide real progress updates. If that's what they were doing, I'd wonder why they did that rather than use js hooks.

But this is just a silly static image. What if the server takes longer than the image to load?

maxhe 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed something similar on TurboTax: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tto/alias/dncanimation
phpnode 1 day ago 0 replies      
hfs - your account has been dead for > 200 days
arjn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow! I can't decide if this is hilarious or scandalous.
bmle 1 day ago 1 reply      
I used to work for a major online tax software provider. I won't name them but I'm sure you can guess. Not sure if it's still there but right after you log in, there are some redirects that take you to the app servers hosting the product and you get the same type of loading image though no secure connections were being established.
DrewHintz 1 day ago 1 reply      
> ceoportal

Sounds about right.

bbq123 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a customer of Wells Fargo CEO Portal I no longer feel safe using it.

Fun aside this portal uses two factor authentication with RSA tokens (that were promptly replaced after RSA token vulnerability was found).

bestest 1 day ago 0 replies      
This felt uncanny. Like I was violated in some strangely wonderful peculiar way.
gfalcao 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculous
jseip 1 day ago 1 reply      
We need a progress bar!
~Brilliant MBA
adev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been there done that. Software development is sometimes Social development as well.
borgchick 1 day ago 0 replies      
security theatre much? face palm
Fastest-turning legged robot uses tail to take corners newscientist.com
5 points by interconnector  2 hours ago   discuss
Watson goes to college: How world's smartest PC will revolutionize AI gigaom.com
13 points by iProject  6 hours ago   7 comments top 4
dave_sullivan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There are going to be some revolutions in AI in coming years, but I don't think they will come from IBM (or google or msft or any other similarly established company)

In the history of major technological advances, when has a big established player gotten it right? IBM invented the relational database, but Oracle (a tiny startup at the time) still ate their lunch for years. Why? Because IBM had already invested too much in non-relational databases and would have been cannibalizing their own business. Watch the exact same thing happen to Watson, the software powering Google's self driving cars, whatever Kurzweil is working on, etc. Not to mention, many of the current AI luminaries heading research at these companies are near retirement age--not to be ageist, but Einstein did not develop the theory of relativity near retirement, he did it when he was 26. Why would the biggest advances in AI be different?

The company that really gets AI right--the company that can call itself "the AI company" like google can call itself "the search company" and facebook can call itself "the social company"--you probably haven't heard of it yet.

slacka 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Watson is a great example of the graduation evolution of weak AI. It succeeds beautifully in its narrowly defined goals, but is still just a glorified statistical search engine. It will not revolutionize AI anymore than Deep Blue did with Chess or the speech recognition software of the 90s did.

To quote Jeff Halwkings "As Searle showed with the Chinese Room, behavioral equivalence is not enough. Since intelligence is an internal property of a brain, we have to look inside the brain to understand what intelligence is. As we'll soon see, there is an underlying elegance of great power, one that surpasses our best computers, waiting to be extracted from these neural circuits. ...
For half a century we've been bringing the full force of our species' considerable cleverness to trying to program intelligence into computers. In the process we've come up with word processors, databases, video games, the Internet, mobile phones, and convincing computer-animated dinosaurs. But intelligent machines still aren't anywhere in the picture. To succeed, we will need to crib heavily from nature's engine of intelligence, the neocortex. We have to extract intelligence from within the brain. No other road will get us there. "

I'd put my money on Deep Neural Networks or Hawkings' Hierarchical Temporal Memory approach to "revolutionize AI".

gojomo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Watson's strongest and most unique advantage may be IBM's PR department.
neop 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't know much about AI, but I highly doubt Watson will revolutionize anything. Significant advances in AI will most likely come from better software and algorithms and while IBM is great at doing hardware, they are not so good when it comes to software. The way I see it, Watson is just IBM doing PR work to get people to know their brand since they don't really offer any consumer products anymore.
       cached 3 March 2013 05:02:01 GMT