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Google Reader Apocalypse Extremely Fucking Nigh jwz.org
261 points by chrismealy  6 hours ago   128 comments top 38
snogglethorpe 5 hours ago 11 replies      
I don't really share most of jwz's specific complaints, but I've been trying to use feedly, and boy .... it's really hard to believe so many people are recommending this as a general Google reader replacement.

Besides its somewhat quirky UI, the main problem I have with feedly is that it seems predicated on the assumption that you will more or less read through all articles, one by one, in order, and finish them.

That's not how I use reader at all. I leave thousands of things left unread, and yet google reader makes it quite easy to keep up to date with whatever I feel like reading at the moment, without getting bogged down by all the stuff I don't want to read. It lets me categorize stuff hierarchically, and then drill down to what I want to look at, and maintains unread counts for each level, easily visible all at once. It's easy to see what categories/subcategories have new stuff. It's easy to mark stuff as read/unread, one by one, or in bulk by category. Yadayada.

Feedly basically flattens and linearizes everything, and doesn't give any summary information, so I constantly feel unsure what's available without looking, and once I look, I quickly get lost in the undifferentiated flow of articles.

Of course Google reader also allows a more "feedly-style" one-big-stream mode of operation via its summary feeds. Except that it does a better job of it by allowing multiple different views, and provides summary information for all of them too.

And despite all that flexibility and power, Google reader's interface seems far simpler than feedly's... it's really just a tree-list-view thingy like we're all used to from a zillion apps, and everything just sort of works like you expect it.

It does all that, and because it's web-based, everything's always in sync no matter where you read. It doesn't have dedicated mobile apps, but it works pretty well on smartphone browsers (and even on dumbphone browsers, although it started to flake out during authentication a few months ago, presumably because Google wasn't keeping it updated).

So basically reader's about a zillion times better, with one glaring exception: it's going away... TT

[The closest free replacement I've found so far is "yoleoreader", which kinda gets the vibe right, although it's a bit rough in places...]

nikcub 1 hour ago 2 replies      
We learned a lesson that you can't rely on free services like Reader because they likely will eventually be shut down.

Reeder is now asking for $5 per month so that is can be sustainable, so isn't the solution just to pay the $5 per month rather than asking one of the free products to imitate what you get from a paid product?

You will just be at square one again anyway since even if Feedly does implement all of these changes, you still have a free product that at some point will need to compromise itself through advertising, become a paid product, or shutdown.

I really thought the punchline to this post would be 'and this is why its worth paying $5 per month for Reeder.

Ranting at Feedly to fix their free product seems to miss the point of why we are all in this situation with the Reader shutdown in the first place.

jacoblyles 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Feedly is an example of an app that is extremely over-designed in a counterintuitive way. It is a remarkable case of form over function.

"There's a list of articles, one per line, stacked vertically on the screen. After you've scanned your eyes to the bottom of the screen, how do you see more? You scroll it up, right? Ha ha ha. No. You swipe right. Madness."

Oh. THAT'S how you do it. I thought it was impossible to scroll down a list of articles. When you swipe down on an article list, feedly alternates between showing you a single article and a portion of the article list. I have no idea what the intended function is.

And do the different width bars on the homescreen mean anything?

I switched to newsblur which looks like it's from 2003 and has a terrible home page. But at least it doesn't surprise me.

veidr 1 hour ago 1 reply      

    > I have no interest in reading my feeds through     > a web site (no more than I would tolerate reading     > my email that way, like an *animal*).
I haven't laughed that hard at something I read in a blog post so far this year. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Who gives a shit about Google Reader the website? (Apparently, a whole lot of people... but not me.) I only care about the syncing.

Like Zawinski, I want a fast, awesome, native RSS reader on all my platforms that stays in sync across them. That's it.

I would love to get that for free, but aftern thinking on it a moment, I don't see why anybody would provide that to me for free. Thinking on it a moment more, I realized I would pay some reasonable fee for it.

However, non-free means 99% of people won't use it, and this in turn means that there is much less incentive for the makers of said fast, awesome, native newsreaders to support such a service in their app.

Except that an RSS newsreader that cannot sync is kind of like a dog turd in a bowtie.

An enterprising newsreader maker could bite the bullet and make sync a feature of their app -- but I don't think any of the good newsreader apps cover all the important platforms (for me, Mac, iOS, and Android, but for others Windows and Linux are probably in the mix, too).

So I don't know what the solution is.

sage_joch 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Google doesn't seem to realize that one of their most valuable assets is trust. And that trust has eroded a great deal in recent months.
FilterJoe 5 hours ago 1 reply      
While I share the author's frustration that Google Reader is going away, I don't get all the hostility toward Feedly. In just a few months' time, they've replicated by far the most important aspect of Google - serving as a backend for any front end reader that choose to use their API.

I too tried the Feedly iOS app and found it didn't suit my workflow and stylistic preferences. But I didn't need it. My favorite way of consuming news over the past couple years has been with Newsify, with Google Reader as back end. Now my favorite way continues to be Newsify, but with Feedly as back end. The transition was seamless.

My only 2 complaints are:

1) I was only able to import 1000 starred items into Feedly.

2) No search - but that's coming.

So - I wish I hadn't had to spend a dozen or two hours over the past few months evaluating alternatives to Google Reader. But I'm quite happy that Feedly stepped up to take Google Reader's place.

seldo 5 hours ago 5 replies      
I appreciate his position but I have trouble taking advice on UI from somebody whose blog is eye-burning neon green text on a black background and has been since 1995. We know you're l33t, Jamie, you are a living legend. Can I get a readable color scheme already?
ivank 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you want the cached feed data from Reader preserved, ArchiveTeam is still collecting OPMLs:



We've saved about 30M feeds (6TB gzip'ed text) so far, and ~44K unique feeds from a few hundred uploaded OPMLs that we didn't find in the billion of URLs we've crawled.

We're also looking for

(1) massive URL lists we can grep, in case you have access to one

(2) query lists of just about anything that we can use to search for feeds using Reader's Feed Directory.

(3) some assistance in writing a few crawlers to discover more URLs on specific sites

(I'll try this submit this to the homepage tomorrow as well.)

rachelbythebay 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Not many people seem that interested in my approach to solving the feed reading problem. I run my own backend and frontend and just let it fetch things for me. Then I periodically check in and flip through to see what's new. If I wind up on some new platform on which the web frontend doesn't make sense, I'll write a native one which speaks the same simple "POST in, AJAX out" language. No big thing.

I set up a Kickstarter to turn it into open source and release everything I've written and then some, but it seems the momentum just isn't there yet.

notatoad 6 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing the google reader apocalypse seems to have taught us is that everybody's sense of entitlement is way too damn high.

Feedly is documented. Type "feedly keyboard shortcuts" or "feedly tutorial" into google and you'll get all kinds of good (and concise) information. The fact that you didn't try to find any documentation doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

abalone 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Syncing feeds is a little bit harder of a problem than the author lets on. It's not just about storing a state file in dropbox. It's also about efficiently pushing the delta of what's new. A central service is vastly more efficient at that than millions of clients pulling their own feeds.

But I 100% agree that Reeder is (was) the awesomest client and all I need to be happy is a backend replacement that just Makes Reeder Work. I don't have to care about Feedly's UI if it's just a backend.

There was a press release at the beginning of the month about Feedy & Reeder collaborating.. what's the ETA? We're really down to the wire here. http://www.macstories.net/news/reeder-to-add-support-for-fee...

Oh, and F U Google. Thanks for the 4 months heads up, dick.

tonetheman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What is really missed is the larger picture.

People who used/use Reader digest information. A lot of information and quickly (at least if you are using it correctly).

They are often the hubs in social/meme networks. I find cool stories all the time and propagate those stories out. It is hard to value that, if there is value there at all.

When the demise of Reader had been announced, bluntly feedly sucked. It looked like Pintrest (is that bad?) It was missing the key feature in a reader... the reading part. Pictures are nice and layout is ok, but seriously I just want to read really quick.

Feedly has gotten better or maybe I just have figured out the correct way to use it? Hard to say.

What I have really learned from google closing reader is that you cannot trust someone you are not paying with your data. And maybe you cannot even trust someone you are paying... how depressing.

jackowayed 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I was considering various things, with a strong desire for something simple and likely to stay around for awhile. I thought about emacs gnus, Thunderbird, and some of the new entrants.

I realized that I would be as happy with something that just sent me a filterable email for every entry in all of my fields, since I already have good interfaces for reading and culling mail on all of my platforms.

So I found one. http://blogtrottr.com/ It seemed nice and had an easy import. If something happens to it, I'm sure I can find another.

For now I'm filtering it all into its own folder, though I try to keep my feeds pretty low-volume, so it wouldn't even be a huge deal if they all landed in my already-pretty-noisy inbox.

I just did that this weekend, but so far I'm quite happy

Yhippa 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I've tried just about all of them and as July 1 approaches I'm definitely getting anxious that I haven't found an RSS aggregator "home" just yet. I set up Tiny Tiny RSS on a Red Hat Openshift gear and it actually seems to work quite well. My main problem with it is that it doesn't seem to work in anything other than Safari.

The mobile options for Tiny Tiny RSS looks like it's going to take some legwork to set up so that will be interesting.

It's such a waste since Google already has a decent app that hooks into their API (on Android at least). All of this work by them that makes me very happy only to be ended. Such a shame. I'm really going to miss it.

lifeisstillgood 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
But he is right - the Internet was designed to be used in a certain way. One website to rule them all is not the natural state of the web and this is an example
cloudmaster 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Interestingly, the guy who wrote NetNewsWire says Dropbox and RSS readers can't work together: http://inessential.com/2011/10/25/why_just_store_the_app_dat...
hawkharris 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Many startups are trying to consolidate news and social media posts to become, basically, a one-stop shop for users.

I understand that this offers greater convenience, but it also overlooks something people enjoy about the Internet. People like having different websites and services to check, with notifications unique to each one.

It's kind of like spreading out your Christmas presents instead of tearing them open all at once.

anotherevan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't particularly like the way Feedly does things either, but I can maintain that opinion without a lot of vitriol.

While it's great that all these new projects have been springing up, I didn't want to entrust my feed reading so something that has been written at the eleventh hour, so have only been looking at options that have been around for a while. (Also, ruling out ones without an Android app, which may or may not be a consideration for others.)

Tried TinyRSS which was okay. If I had a better server to run it on it probably would have done the job for me (long story that is probably not germane.)

I ended up going with Newsblur. It has an interface similar in behaviour to Reader which is what I like, and although it does have some rough edges it's getting the job done and is established. I figured I'd spring the $24 for a year, and then see what the landscape looks like then.

chaz 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, the good news for jwz is that these all seem pretty fixable. It's come a long way since the version I first saw after the Reader announcement. It took me a long time to warm up to Google Reader, and for it to have enough features for me. I was a Bloglines user for quite some time. Change is hard.


mtgx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it me or has Feedly made it harder to switch the interface to titles only recently?

I change to that, but it seems to change back after a while. It's very annoying.

fpgeek 5 hours ago 0 replies      
jwz is just a bit behind because he's on iOS.

As of this writing, only one iOS app (Newsify) is ready while two Android apps (Press and gReader) and a widget (Pure News) are. See: http://blog.feedly.com/2013/06/19/feedly-cloud/

This will presumably be sorted out soon. Perhaps the combination of Feedly's late deployment and Apple's approval process have complicated things for some developers. I did notice that both Press and gReader had to bugfix their initial Feedly support. I can certainly imagine an iOS developer having a harder time dealing with a late-breaking issue like that.

whyenot 5 hours ago 0 replies      
After waiting and waiting for Reeder to update their Mac version, I decided to go back to an old friend, NetNewsWire. It does not sync between devices, but that's ok for me. In fact, I kind of feel good about the fact that now there is no online entity keeping track of what feeds I subscribe to and what articles I read. ... well, if not none, at least one less entity keeping track.
Digit-Al 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I first hear about the pending shutoff I first tried Bloglines / Netvibes. It seemed alright, but there was a weird bug that caused a big panel to take up the bottom third of the screen a lot of the time. I then tried Feedly, but (like some commenters below) just hated the interface. I think I tried another online reader as well, but can't remember what now.

I ended up going back to bloglines. I did find a way of getting rid of the massive menu bar that kept appearing at the bottom of the screen, but the problem seems to be fixed now.

Getting your feeds into Bloglines is not quite so easy as Feedly, but once you have everything set up it seems to work really well. Still not as good as Google, but the closest I have managed to find so far.

kylec 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a Reeder user myself, though 99% of my reading is done on the Mac version. So far, ReadKit ($4.99, MAS) is the closest thing I've found to a replacement. I'd still prefer Reeder, but I can comfortably live with ReadKit if need be.
zobzu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked reading that. More people need to voice their true opinion, unhidden being politically correct sentences.

Else we end up with various shitty software that we end up thinking are the gold standard.

lobster_johnson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm fine with Reeder switching to Feedbin, but why couldn't the author update the desktop all at the same time as the iOS client? This means there is a gap where Reeder on the desktop just won't work correctly.
woodylondon 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out https://www.inoreader.com/ - tried the usual suspects like Feedly, OldReader etc and did not like them. I have not found anything bad yet about inoreader and about as close to the Google reader as I could get.

No iOS app yet :-( but I hear they are coming.

NetNewsWire might have have a new version soon so keep an eye on that as well.

stevewillows 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was hoping someone would work with EasyRSS (the android app, not the torrent goodness) so it would use the NewsBlur api or something similar. It's sad that the dev is letting the project go with reader.
jsilence 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Please jwz, write a really nifty and usabe console or desktop RSS reader that syncs easily. (this post ist sans irony or zynism)
halcyondaze 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Who knows, the demise of Google Reader seems to be spawning a lot of cool projects and Show HN's. I don't think it's the end of the world...seems to be driving forward innovation.
jwr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
jwz is right. His criticism is remarkably close to my observations regarding both Reeder and Feedly. I am also worried that I won't be able to use Reeder anymore, and try as I might, I can't force myself to use Feedly for any extended period of time.
tomovo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It is not easy to take any criticism of the Feedly UI seriously from someone whose website is green-on-black.

On the other hand, it is true that they have gone a little crazy with "innovations". But as long as they have an API, who cares.

philthesong 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't understand the hate with the decision of Google shutting down the Reader. Apparently, the Reader users aren't worth that much.
ilolu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I need a Reader replacement that lets me export the feeds data later if I want to. I could not find that in Feedly. I don't want to get locked in a service for the same reason. Any suggestions ?
ababab 5 hours ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I started a vague attempt to round up the alternatives:


whytaka 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish Pocket would adopt Feedly's UED and discovery engine, or that Feedly would pick up on Pocket's browser extension and archiving ability. That would be almost perfect.
sauce71 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm still in denial.
rocky1138 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"All I want is a version of Reeder that stores my .newsrc on Dropbox."

Get coding. This sort of angst is the inspiration behind a ton of open source projects.

From zero to cooperative threads in 33 lines of Haskell code haskellforall.com
63 points by lelf  3 hours ago   7 comments top 3
dons 2 hours ago 0 replies      
See also Koen Claessen's "Poor Man's Concurrency Monad", http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=
boothead 30 minutes ago 2 replies      
There are some amazing things you can do with free monads, although I must confess to not having my head completely wrapped round them yet:

There are some great links in this SO answer:


Especially Tim William's talk here:


jokoon 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
33 lines of haskell is like 2000 lines of C
Learn Git Branching pcottle.github.io
40 points by Dekku  2 hours ago   8 comments top 5
zaius 37 minutes ago 2 replies      
Why is git so hard? Is it that it encapsulates concepts that are inherently difficult to grasp? Or is it just that I need to think about things in a different way? I still feel after 5 years of git use that I am useless with it.
AlexanderDhoore 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm shocked at how awesome this is... My git-fu is not very strong. This is great!

You can even make lessons to share with friends... That's amazing! Next step: make user contributed lessons archive!

rob22 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
It Really Awesome as well very usefull too....
jafaku 1 hour ago 1 reply      
So what do I do now?


Abandoned island in the middle of NYC backspac.es
517 points by zmitri  13 hours ago   93 comments top 33
powdahound 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the island where Typhoid Mary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_Mary), the first person in the US detected to carry typhoid without showing symptoms, was quarantined. There's a great Radiolab episode where they take a trip to the island; http://www.radiolab.org/2011/nov/14/, http://www.radiolab.org/2011/nov/14/typhoid-mary/
Samuel_Michon 12 hours ago 2 replies      
There are actually a couple of uninhabited islands in the East River: North Brother (the one in the article), South Brother, Mill Rock, and U Thant.

If you find this stuff interesting, you may want to check out Forgotten New York[1], a site run by movie location scout Kevin Walsh, who gets access to places few people get to see in the city. Another great blog is Abandoned NYC[2].

[1] http://forgotten-ny.com/

[2] http://abandonednyc.com/

CoffeeDregs 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Got one here in the Bay Area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drawbridge,_California

Fun, though dangerous [active train track; passenger trains pass at 100kph], place to visit. Just walk out the trails from Alviso in the south bay. I've done it about 3 times. Old dead buildings falling into the marsh. Walkways lead from the tracks to the water's edge (for maintenance?).

Note: it's illegal to visit (dangerous + nature sanctuary), so go at night..

rorrr2 12 hours ago 0 replies      

It's now a bird sanctuary, and it looks like it's illegal to be there.

subpixel 12 hours ago 1 reply      
If you ever do any exploring of old/abandoned buildings like this, you better use a respirator. Asbestos + neglect + vandalism is a nasty combo.
alan_cx 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If abandoned buildings is your thing, then this Russian site is a fantastic way to waste a lot of time.


Google translate will help with navigation.

emiliobumachar 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Given real state prices in NYC, if find it hard to believe it's still "too expensive to build everything" now, if it was so in the 60's. Perhaps there is more to the story? Does anyone know why this place doesn't get developed?
meerita 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I love these islands.

Hashima island is one of these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashima_Island in Japan. Or well the http://wikitravel.org/en/Shikoku is another place you can go and see the forgotten life.

Check this one too http://gakuran.com/gunkanjima-ruins-of-a-forbidden-island/

iguana 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like that in the last photograph, the bullet holes are clearly from someone shooting from the inside out. Who was trying to get inside, and where are the bodies?
zachgersh 12 hours ago 4 replies      
NYC loves to do all sorts of interesting things with its islands. Another island that most New Yorkers know nothing about is Roosevelt Island:


It has had a very long history including having a prison/small pox hospital/mental hospital.

seanconaty 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you like stuff like this, you should check out this photographer's flickr. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4019607

He takes photos of abandoned buildings. If you're in SF he's got some good ones of 140 Montgomery, the art deco building that is now being refurbished into new digs for Yelp and other companies. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug/sets/7215761380385022...

He's also done Neverland Ranch, and the Jackling House Mansion (home to Steve Jobs and one point) http://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug/sets/7215759415352040....

skyebook 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Another NYC gem is the abandoned Cobble Hill Tunnel on the border of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. It is also the oldest cut and cover construction in North America for the subterranean fans out there. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobble_Hill_Tunnel
ewams 10 hours ago 1 reply      
From the last picture, if the door was closed, the shots were fired from inside the building. Doubt the shots would have came from police at "nearby Riker's Island."
joeblau 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Im surprised billionaires haven't snatched these up and turned them into private islands.
bitwize 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Going through those photos, I was on the alert for Clickers...
corin_ 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Biggest thing that struck me in this piece wasn't really related to the topic, but was: "Art still remained from the heroin addicts who had lived in the rehab center" - reading that made me realise what a big disconnect I have in my head between the sort of people who would create "art" on their walls with the sort of people I think of as heroin addicts.

On a conscious level I know that anyone can be a heroin addict, I could become one, my brother/boss/friend might already be one... but I've only just realised what a predisposition I still hold onto.

haberman 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What is the legal status of a place like this? Is it trespassing to take a look around?
Alex3917 7 hours ago 1 reply      
There is another island in the middle of NYC that has a mass grave where the government has buried over 850,000 people. It's not open to the public though, and apparently they go to great lengths to keep the public and the media away.
photorized 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are into that sort of thing - some photos I took of the abandoned Harlem Valley Psych Hospital


D9u 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome photos, and I never would have imagined that anyplace in NYC could be so abandoned, but further reading shows that the island is occasionally patrolled by authorities.

More info & images:http://www.businessinsider.com/north-brother-island-2012-2?o...

sage_joch 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like something right out of the /r/nosleep subreddit.
breadbox 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The photo of a fire hydrant drowning under ivy is especially striking. For some reason it communicates "abandonment" to me more clearly than the ruined buildings.
nwh 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Why is half the available screen space of this website asking me to download their app? There's an app banner, another banner at the top, and a banner that floats with the text at the bottom.
blux 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Another interesting island nearby is Hart Island. See http://googlesightseeing.com/2006/08/island-of-the-dead/, http://goo.gl/maps/VplQF
eksith 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Behold: The future of all civilization once man has left Earth to nature.
alexkehayias 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Lived here for 8 years and still learning something new. Got to love NYC! Also throwing it out there that Backspaces has really good, off-beat (in a good way), artistic content like this all the time.
ges 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is for this kind of story that I love Backspaces. Makes the Internet a better place.
ganeumann 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I know someone from jersey who was approached about investing in the island back then. I thought it sounded pretty cool. He said "except that's where all the escapees from Rikers wash up."

I couldn't tell if he was joking.

apl002 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool pics but this is for reddit, not HN.
argumentum 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's vaguely beautiful ..
lostinnyc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's also the site of the worst NYC disaster prior to 9/11: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/north-brother-island
jfletch1925 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Nothing but flowers...
Protometheus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Rarely-asked questions paulgraham.com
29 points by vishal0123  3 hours ago   24 comments top 7
micheljansen 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
For those interested in a broad account of history that does not try to explain what happened, but why things happen, I highly recommend Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel"[1]. It resonates well with the hacker's desire to understand what makes the world tick :)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

stiff 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think the problem with philosophy is that language and words only go this far and we humans get tired fast when just thinking hard inside our heads without any interaction with the external world and no real-world problem to solve. I believe it was the book "The Three Pillars of Zen" that illustrated this effect by comparing the posture of Rodins Thinker [1] with the posture of a meditator [2]. So not only do we run circles around our own concepts that are most likely grounded in the unconscious, but we also get very tired, irritated and depressed from it, that's at least my experience.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thinker[2] http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/cob/img/buddha.jpg

Helpful_Bunny 56 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm not going to insult one of the patrons of these pages, however, I do note:

Paul is the author of On Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1993), ANSI Common Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1995), and Hackers & Painters (O'Reilly, 2004). He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

What I learned from trying to study philosophy is that the place to look is in other fields. If you understand math or history or aeronautical engineering very well, the most abstract of the things you know are what philosophy is supposed to be teaching.

It depends what type of Philosophy you're studying. Formal Logic: I can see the argument that with a strong Mathematical background & CS, you've already learned (most) of the tricks (although, this largely misses the point that most of the great Mathematicians of the 20th C also dabbled in the Philosophy of Logic - famously Gdel etc).

The other kind of Philosophy inhabits the same mental space as Art (ahhh, Florence!). This is a common issue with American Nationals, as American (and to some degree, British) philosophy is mired in Behaviorism, Philosophy of the Mind (which does make me cry a little inside when they don't keep up with neuroscience or even know anything about Complex Systems Theory) and other schools.

Ethics and Morality? Reaching those Creative spaces of the Sublime and so forth? Aesthetics? All fields I assumed the author would be interested in, given his Artistic leanings, and all fields that Philosophy is very useful to read on.

And, as a friendly note: I'm not sure aeronautical engineering can teach you much on that, barring of course: if you build it wrong, Death is certainly going to be the Horizon you hit.

brvs 2 hours ago 8 replies      
Oh my god are developers pompous.

So, the problem with Hegel is that he didn't study LISP and startups enough to understand his own thought. If only he were alive to ask for Paul Graham's help!

OK my turn! I'm going to post on a social sciences website that Paul Graham doesn't really understand LISP because he hasn't studied... uh, Slavoj Zizek enough.

jobigoud 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
One issue I've found with studying history piecewise like this (basically how history is taught in school) is that you don't get a good global picture of an era. What was happening in China at the time of the Roman Empire ?
anonymous 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Can you add macros to python

Yes https://github.com/lihaoyi/macropy

drinchev 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I like "RAQ" acronym. I've always hated "Nerd Stuff", "Technical Questions" and similar titles on pages that answer not so popular questions.
Before I Die I Want To beforeidieiwantto.org
18 points by thewarrior  2 hours ago   6 comments top 5
danso 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Powerful content. At the risk of being pedantic, I think the site would be a better service to its content by using a standard vertical scroll layout. I viewed many of the photos but found it too easy to stop because of the difficulty in side scrolling
danielrm26 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Before he dies he wants to run nginx and varnish caching so that his site will survive the front page of HN.
ohwp 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
If you like this also check http://beforeidie.cc/
philliphaydon 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can't even read half of these, peoples handwriting is so terrible. One there says "Before I die I want to raise a child" but it took be a full minute to not read it as "I want to ride a child"
lepunk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A similar idea was implemented at the 2011 Hungarian "Sziget" festival. They installed a huge wall where visitors were able to write their "Before I die" messages.


Snowden 'has not entered Russia' bbc.co.uk
7 points by rb2e  31 minutes ago   discuss
Malibu homeowners foiled by $30K Kickstarter campaign garrytan.com
527 points by kirillzubovsky  18 hours ago   192 comments top 33
waterside81 17 hours ago 6 replies      
Just for a little context for those unfamiliar with Malibu. Some beaches are public, some are private and open only to those who live in particular neighbourhoods. The residents here are remarkably wealthy, we're talking Speilberg, Streisand, Geffen, and at times have hired their own private security to check people's ID to ensure they belong there. Broad Beach (I think) is public, but there's gates that block access to it requiring a key. So this app informs people which gates are legit and which ones are erected under false premise.

Malibu problems.

wilfra 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm in Santa Monica (just down the road from Malibu) right now and decided to go checkout the public access path next to David Geffen's house[1] after reading this today.

I was able to park across the street with no problem (plenty of spaces) and walk alongside his house onto the beach. I walked really far and passed many people who I assume were homeowners based on how they were dressed (no shoes/bags/purses or beach toys) and acting (walking close to the houses etc). All offered polite smiles and several let their dogs run up to me and seemed to expect me to pet/play with them. Not a single person gave me an odd or disapproving look - though one couple (really old white guy with a 20-something black girl) went pretty far out of their way to avoid the path I was walking on. I figured at least one of them was famous or something, as the reason.

When I was leaving though, I went back past Geffen's house (only way out) and what I assume was his private security guard (plainclothes but looked like a Marine) came walking straight at me staring at me and then got in a car in the driveway. I look across the street to my car and I see a cop car parked in the turning late in the middle of the road with two cops in it. I decided to take an extra long time wiping the sand off of my feet to soak it all in. The security guy eventually pulled the car out of the driveway and alongside the cops, I assume they were talking through open windows but with traffic and distance couldn't hear. Then the guy pulls his car in front of the cops in the turning lane, does a U-Turn and parks right in front of my car on the opposite side of the street.

There was no cross-walk and I didn't want to give the cops a reason to legally harass me, so I walked on the sidewalk right in front of David Geffen's house and gestured to the cops asking if I could cross the street illegally. They both just sorta shrugged and looked back at traffic and nodded - meaning if you want to risk getting hit by a car, go for it.

So after a couple of minutes with these cops staring right at me, I find an opening and dart over to my car. The whole time the security dude is still sitting there parked in front of my car. I put my stuff inside and pull away, on the left two cops are staring at me driving off and on the right the security dude is also staring at me. I waved to all three of them and drove away.

So I can confirm the beach is public and the homeowners seem like really nice people who don't mind that at all - other than David Geffen, who seems to try to use his private security and the police to intimidate people into not using the path.

I'm taking a date back there tomorrow.


mturmon 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This app was led in part by an LA journalist and lover of Malibu beaches, Jenny Price. She had been reporting on these public beaches in a series that ran on laobserved.com, a popular LA blog.

Here's the first such piece, which I notice ran in 2006:


Here's a link to the announcement of the kickstarter campaign:


which contains pointers to some of her other articles.

It was a genius idea on someone's part to get her to build an app around this knowledge. She's a journalist, not a computer nerd.

johnbender 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Given that the project goal is to permit as many people as possible to find these beach entrances isn't it a bit odd to target a total of two platforms for the application? I'm surprised they aren't doing something this simple with the web.

Put another way, isn't accessibility a prime concern for a beach accessibility application?

Arjuna 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Regarding Broad Beach... here is a PDF [1] with some good detail on beach access. There are 2 access points that are open to the public from Broad Beach Road. The PDF also has photos of all of the properties, and detail on what part of the beach is available to the public.

[1] http://www.coastal.ca.gov/access/BroadBeachCoastalAccess.pdf

earbitscom 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Can they make this app also tell you when valet parking companies are falsely putting cones and signs in front of parking meters, etc? This happens in every area of Santa Monica, Venice, LA, etc. They make it look like several parking spots are legally blocked from 6pm to 2am for their valet service, when in fact they are not. It's a way bigger problem than this beach thing, but seems like it would rely on similar technology.
tmarthal 16 hours ago 3 replies      
It seems to me that if they really wanted to disrupt the Malibu beach scene and provide more access for the public to the beaches, that they would just release the data as an annotated geojson file, rather than raise 30k(!) to create an app that will no longer be updated in a year.

Props to them for doing a civil service, but it seems to me that it is also very-much motivated by money.

robomartin 17 hours ago 3 replies      
The first thought I had was: Why doesn't someone organize an "Occupy Malibu"? Hundreds or thousands of people peacefully (and cleanly) making use of the public beaches in these "exclusive" areas for the entire summer. Keep it clean, civilized, respectable, don't leave trash behind and be considerate. In other words, give absolutely no reason to label you negatively in any way.
ambiate 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Finally, someone started taking my advice! This is very interesting. I never considered that homeowners might put up fake signs to detour the public.

"Special logo thanks! ---> We'll put your logo / icon (280 x 280 px) PLUS a link to your website on a special thank you page in the app! Plus, an advance copy of the app.Estimated delivery: Jun 2013 "


gkop 17 hours ago 0 replies      
brownbat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
99% Invisible had a story on secret staircases in California, left over from the WPA, and a time when public infrastructure projects for pedestrians was a thing.

Thing about the WPA, it had a lot of really talented artists and sculptors contributed to public works, so you get some magnificently beautiful constructions, if you can find them.

Apparently a lot of landowners try to fence off or discourage access to the public walkways though, and there's an underground movement to keep access open to these public city spaces.


fatjokes 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Tell me that the homeowners who put up the misleading signs get fined, preferably heavily, knowing how wealthy those homeowners likely are.
michaelwww 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I read this as Malibu homeowners scammed by $30K Kickstarter campaign.
whyenot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
In the comments to the Sean Parker / Big Sur Wedding story that was posted recently, at least one person described the California Coastal Commission as a bunch of thugs. It's largely thanks to the CCC enforcing easement requirements on beach front homeowners, including some very powerful people, that there is any public access at all in places like Malibu.
ljoshua 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the real story here is the use of Kickstarter to remove the risk from further developments on the Android app. If you want to go ahead and create something, but are worried about it panning out, this starts to open up new options.

It's not the first time it's been done, but it's encouraging to see creators being able to deliver to those who want their products with less question marks in the process.

jmspring 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the challenges Half Moon Bay is having with Vihnod Kholsa and beach access. At least, when they sue, the Malibu residents own up to it -- see Streisand vs Adelman. Vihnod is hiding behind things. sad.


thereallurch 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like some of these homeowners would pay $30k to not have this program, or for some control over the final product. I could imagine some rich guy paying $15k to keep his section of beach off the program.
tlrobinson 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah yes. I remember in 2005 some friends and I hung out at Carbon Beach in front of David Geffen's house soon after he lost a court battle... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Geffen#Court_battles

edit: photo http://i.imgur.com/zCQEfZY.jpg

dot 16 hours ago 0 replies      
bonchibuji 4 hours ago 1 reply      
'Right to roam' in Nordic countries comes to mind.


peter303 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This happens too with public land trails in the Rockies (near Boulder). The nearby landoweners remove signs, plant over trails, etc.
buza 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Malibu homeowners intentionally obscure public beach access areas with fake signs and hidden access. This is not only ridiculously selfish, it is illegal."

Better or worse than just flat out preventing access whatsoever?


unclebucknasty 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking if you pay me $30K to port a relatively simple IOS UI to Android, then that is the business. No need to sell anything (else).
nakovet 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Those same things happen in Brazil too, wealthy people put gates, make the entrance hard to find and even do lobby to have people enforcing paid parking to restrain access to public beaches, there is no such a thing as private beach, but somehow they manage to fake the "ownership".
robotcookies 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad that Californians have this option. Beaches should be public on the East coast as well.
victorology 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, they could use this for Hawaii. We deal with a lot of the same stuff here.
taude 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does this need to be an app? Seems like building out a website to distribute the information would be better.
patrickserrano 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This a great project. Living on the east end of Long Island, we tend to have similar (although seemingly less extreme) situations with public beaches and waterways. I'd love to see something like this here too, so when I'm getting yelled at I can point out that I am in fact on a public beach.
gorrillamcd 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I've never been to Malibu, but I can definitely see this as a useful app if I ever do decide to go. If the locals have trouble finding the public beaches, I can't imagine I'd be able to do it without some help.
towski 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Why would you drive all the way up to Malibu when LA has an uninterrupted stretch of beach that is 50 miles long?
sixQuarks 16 hours ago 8 replies      
why does this app cost $30,000? They should be able to get a high quality app like this developed for 1/10th the cost.
kristopolous 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This has been thoroughly covered in the NYT, on BBC, and NPR weeks ago. Is this news to anyone still?
joshuaheard 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Beaches in California are public only by historical accident. There are plenty of public beaches with facilities for visitors like lots of beach space, parking, restrooms, and restaurants. Santa Monica, for instance is about 15 minutes from Malibu and has all that. Why is the homeowner the bad guy for wanting a little privacy without hordes of people partying all night in his back yard, blocking his parking, leaving fast food trash everywhere, and pissing in his bushes?
AWS: Well go to court to fight govt requests for data itworld.com
33 points by breadtk  4 hours ago   15 comments top 7
girvo 25 minutes ago 0 replies      

  > If a U.S. entity is serving us with a legally binding  > subpoena, we contact our customer and work with that  > customer to fight the subpoena. We will do that proactively  > and help the customer in any way to comply with the  > subpoena or fight it.
How does that work, with gag-ordered FISA requests?

cperciva 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
One interesting tidbit from the AWS re:invent conference in November: According to Stephen Schmidt, Amazon does regular "drills" where they pretend that a warrant has been received for a user's data, and they need to identify and isolate and copy all of it.

This tells me two things: First, that Amazon gets these requests often enough to have a well-tested procedure for handling them; and second, that it's still very much a manual process -- and that government agencies can't just reach in and grab data on their own.

justinsb 3 hours ago 3 replies      
"If Amazon faced a subpoena that required it to keep the order secret, such encryption would be useful to customers. If the data is encrypted, all wed be handing over would be the cypher text, he said."

That strikes me as a little misleading. I'm sure the subpoena would request a snapshot of all running VMs's memory & CPU state, from which (I believe) it's relatively easy to extract encryption keys. If the first subpoena didn't, the second one sure would!

danso 1 hour ago 0 replies      
FWIW, Google has been doing this for some time, well before the current controversy. A few months ago, it was reported that Google was challenging the courts on the highly secret national security letters, which mandated that recipients not disclose their existence and which were issued without needing court approval:


NSL's are a serious issue and as much a threat to our liberty as what was disclosed by Snowden's leak. The outrage sparked by Snowden's effort is hopefully something that leads to good reform and protection of our liberties, but the fodder for outrage has existed for a long time now.

hornytoad 2 hours ago 0 replies      
AWS will just lock you (or wikileaks) out on gov't request, although they'll claim that to be "inaccurate": http://aws.amazon.com/message/65348/
nacho2sweet 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the whole fight subpoenas and contact the customers thing. Isn't a big part of the PRISM system them NOT having direct access and just trying to collect all the data from certain systems and rebuilding it, or pulling stuff from it? Like basically just tapping the line?
thejosh 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or is Amazon talking in "from now on" (future tense) instead of past tense?
Learn Lua in 15 Minutes tylerneylon.com
258 points by tylerneylon  13 hours ago   69 comments top 24
karpathy 13 hours ago 5 replies      
This is awesome. I will take [a single huge list of self-explanatory example snippets (with a few short comments here and there) for 95% of use cases] over [detailed walls-of-text docs pages spread across a hierarchy of topics] any day.
dave1010uk 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Along the same lines is http://hyperpolyglot.org/ which has been posted here a few times). This is useful both for learning a new language and for a quick reference for languages you're not so hot on. It's also very interesting to compare similarities and how languages have influenced each other.

It seems (from the comments here and my own experience) that many people really like this style of learning. It would be great to see it applied in more areas.

silentbicycle 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a good start, but there's also some deeper ideas in Lua. It has a good implementation of coroutines, for example; if you're familiar with continuations from Scheme, they fit most of the same uses. (They're like generators from Python or fibers from Ruby, but with less edge cases.)

The C interop is also a Big Deal. Lua seems like a cute little language, like a cleaner Javascript, but it's a LOT more useful if you're also proficient in C. Also, Lua will run anywhere you have an ANSI C compiler and a modest amount of space.

sharkbot 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm going to be "that guy":

  -- These are the same:  -- ...snip...  local function g(x) return math.sin(x) end  local g = function (x) return math.sin(x) end
According to the Lua Reference Manual [1], this example isn't correct. Rather, this is the correct translation:

  local function g(x) return math.sin(x) end  local g; g = function (x) return math.sin(x) end
From the manual: "This only makes a difference when the body of the function contains references to f."

[1] http://www.lua.org/manual/5.2/manual.html#3.4.10

johnchristopher 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Bonus point for Cloud Atlas reference :
outworlder 12 hours ago 4 replies      
This is awesome.

On that note, I don't understand all the javascript craze. Lua has been around for quite some time, and it's small, with well-defined semantics, a nice set of features, the interpreter is small and very fast, you can get even faster with LuaJIT, etc. Browsers should have adopted that ages ago.

daenz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Lua can be great. I've worked with it extensively on a personal project, where I've embedded it in a C++ app. However, there are some things that you will hate:

  * Trying to correctly do "inheritance"  * Having to write all of your batteries for common ops  * Array indices begin at 1!  * Poor debugging support
Aside from those thing, Lua is great. It's crazy fast and easy to embed.

programminggeek 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I would like to say that the easiest way for me to learn lua really fast was to build games with Corona using lua.

Having a great tool that gives great feedback right away makes learning a language more fun IMO.

noonespecial 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned to love lua when writing basic sysadmin scripts for OpenWRT based systems. I had previously used perl for sysadmin stuff, but perl (even microperl) took too much space on OpenWRT boxes with 4MB flash drives. Lua to the rescue. Now I chafe when I have to go pack to perl.

I do wish someone had handed me this on the first day I realized I needed lua.

Dylan16807 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a neat little reference but I can't waste the opportunity.

I've seen people say they've never seen complaints about fonts being too big? Well here I am, complaining that the fonts are so big this page is hard for me to read without zooming out.

alecdbrooks 10 hours ago 1 reply      
A logical next step might be to do do the Lua Missions (read: koans): https://github.com/kikito/lua_missions.

(Disclaimer: The missions look good, but I haven't personally tried them.)

piqufoh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this - if every language could have something like this written up it would be amazing. It just about fits into my attention span!
dakimov 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Great sheet.

  -- Variables are global by default.  thisIsGlobal = 5  -- Camel case is common.
-- Undefined variables return nil.-- This is not an error:foo = anUnknownVariable -- Now foo = nil.

-- Only nil and false are falsy; 0 and '' are true!

Didn't read further. Bad language design. Must die.

spacecowboy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
That was a pretty cool crash course on Lua Tyler! Thanks for putting that together and sharing it. After having had worked with numerous languages over the years such as Fortran, Pascal, Ada, C, Java, C++, C#, Python and Objective-C, I must say that working with Lua is my favorite. I'm thankful to a buddy of mine for introducing it to me. My own personal experience has shown me that working with Lua really allows you to focus on solving the problem versus getting wrapped around the axle at the programming language level. Thanks again
digitalsushi 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks! Lua is used all over the place in wireshark user scripts. This is super useful.
thyrsus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
First, that was very useful; bookmarked.

That took me 30 minutes to read. I think I might feel like I've learned the language after spending 8 hours working the examples a la "Learn Python the Hard Way". Luckily, I'm not competing with the folks here that learned it within 15 minutes ;-).

landhar 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very cool, the only way I can see this could be improved upon is by adding unit tests somehow (so that you can catch behavior changes when upgrading to a newer version of lua).
lukefreiler 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I love this. I'd like/pay to have a consistent library of exactly this for other languages.
mneary 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone else catch the Gauss reference[1] in the for loop section?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Friedrich_Gauss#Anecdotes

jeltz 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Having a font size of 25.33pt makes the website impossible to read without zooming out 3 steps. I would be happy if people stopped using tiny and huge default font sizes.
ufo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This would look much better with syntax highlighting.
nathas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
That was lovely. I always had a hard time wrapping my head around the exact behavior of metatables when I messed with Lua a few years back. Thanks!
hanjos 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice work!

One nitpick: local function declarations, like

    local function g(x) return g(x) end
are actually the same as writing

    local g;    g = function (x) return g(x) end
. Without that first local g; statement, local functions wouldn't be able to call themselves recursively.

nbouscal 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Obligatory:Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years http://norvig.com/21-days.html
PivotTable.js: a JavaScript Pivot Table implementation github.com
82 points by nicolaskruchten  7 hours ago   17 comments top 10
aheilbut 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks interesting... If doing everything in javascript is not sufficient, another nice open source project with a slick interface on top of a real OLAP server (Mondrian) is Saiku - http://analytical-labs.com/
jsmeaton 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent work! There are no great libraries to handle this type of work anywhere, that I've found, without requiring an entire stack change.

My next project was to build something very similar to this. I've done the same before in PHP many years ago for the company I used to work for so I was confident that I could do it. Having this to leap frog my development is going to be extremely useful. And by that, I mean any extras I'd develop I'd contribute back.

Now to start playing.

elchief 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks nice and light weight.

Also check out Saiku:


Talks to OLAP server over XMLA (like Mondrian)

skeletonjelly 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Would like to see a demo of this with a large data set.
feniv 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm working on a analytics-related project and this looks like something I can use! The input format is a little restrictive, but understandably so (since this is meant to be used for tabular data) The data I'm working with is a little more nested and looks like : [ { color: {r: 0, g: 0, b: 255}, shape: {name: "circle", description: "A round shape"}}, {color: {r: 255, g: 0, b: 0}, shape: {name: "triangle", description: "Has 3 sides"}}]

than the example that was provided.

shtylman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is not a JS library!! This is coffeescript. Stop calling coffeescript stuff .js it is really misleading for people that actually develop in JS.
kachhalimbu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool and fast. For Java people check out ZK Pivottable http://www.zkoss.org/product/zkpivottable
fibo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I just used this other one for a project at local.italiaonline.it and it is really good (all sums are ok :)


jasoncrawford 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice! PivotTables are underrated.
joshuaellinger 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Yummy. Couple that with a column-orient database and I don't need OLAP any more.
PlayStation 4 runs modified FreeBSD 9.0 vgleaks.com
186 points by jorgecastillo  12 hours ago   56 comments top 10
josephg 10 hours ago 2 replies      
As someone who works on BSD-licensed opensource software, this is fantastic news. Regardless of your opinion of Sony as a company, this is exactly why I love licenses like BSD & MIT - you enable engineers everywhere to build better products.
sigil 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey Sony, you should consider:


I guess they could be the big anonymous donor, although I always assumed that was Apple.

kryptiskt 11 hours ago 2 replies      
The PS3 also has FreeBSD onboard (they call their version CellOS or something), so this is not hugely surprising.
huxley 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It reminded me that 3 years ago Sony started working with GNUStep to add touch support and build their SNAP platform, they put the project on hold/cancelled it not long after it became public, but you can still see the code at: https://github.com/deliciousrobots/gnustep-gui-sony/

Some of the background:http://blog.deliciousrobots.com/2010/11/27/sonys-changes-to-...

elwin 10 hours ago 3 replies      
> We arent sure if this will bring again the Other OS functions to Playstation 4

It will at least have to be possible to install other systems. The screenshots show GRUB 2, which is under the GPLv3, so it should be unlockable.

jjcm 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Any idea if this means there's a potential to play PS4 games on a standard linux box?
m_gloeckl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind that the final software for the console can differ from the OS that the development kit is running.The Playstation 2 development kit was running Red Hat Linux and shipped with a custom system software once it was released.The Playstation 3 development kit was also running Red Hat Linux, but it shipped with CellOS, an operating system that has supposedly been branched off of FreeBSD during development.
bifrost 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Doubtful, it was built well after that OS was released.
sciurus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The original source (as far as I can tell) is http://www.vgleaks.com/some-details-about-playstation-4-os-d...
phryk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
<Generic opinionated argument on BSD vs. GPL>
Wizards of the Coast, Equity Distributions: Part 1 peteradkison.com
48 points by rb2e  6 hours ago   12 comments top 3
patio11 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is one of the reasons why I like HN, because nothing in my lower-to-middle-class upbringing prepared me for the notion of stock as anything other than shares of IBM which you held at the brokerage until you needed to retire. Pretty much everything I learned about the mechanics of tech investing I learned as a direct consequence of this site, in many cases to material effect.

One would hope that investors, on dealing with unsophisticated entrepreneurs, would tell them "Hey, it seems like you don't know the ropes of this yet, let me explain it to you" but the overwhelming number of anecdotes where I hear that have that sentence followed by advice so bad it shocks the conscience.

cperciva 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain to me how this is even possible? I mean, when a corporation is created, before it takes any investment, someone has to own it, right? How is it possible for the founders to not start out owning 100%?
jacalata 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The story of all the small investors surprised me, because i thought there were more rules about who could invest in a company. Are these rules new, or do i misunderstand something?
[Stack Overflow]Design a function f, such that f(f(n)) == -n stackoverflow.com
32 points by konjac  4 hours ago   26 comments top 12
uvdiv 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If you want to quickly understand the answers, the key insight is here:


Paraphrased: defining such a function over a symmetric subset of the reals X is equivalent to partitioning the positive (>0) elements of X into disjoint pairs (a,b). This uniquely describes a satisfying function f, under whose action:

    f:  0 -> 0    f:  a -> (-b) -> (-a) -> b -> a
And conversely, any such function is uniquely described by such a partition. That's all there is to it!

There is no such partition on the set of int32_t's, because the # of nonzero int32_t's is odd.

For the set of all integers Z, the "obvious" partition is {(1,2), (3,4), (5,6)...}. This is what many of the answers are getting at with even/odd tests.

This also works for some subsets of the integers, such as {-2,1,0,1,2}. These are the symmetric ones with an even number of positive elements. These have 4n or 4n+1 elements total, depending on whether they include zero. [-2^31, 2^31] works (this has one more element than int32_t). As does [-2^31 + 2, 2^31 - 2] -- the largest such subset of int32_t.

This has a natural extension to the rationals, the reals, etc. Namely: (a,b) is a member of the partition iff (floor(a), floor(b)) is a member of the partition for integers, and their fractional parts are equal.

There is no such function on the reals that is (analytically) continuous. Any such f must be bijective (a != b implies f(a) != f(b)). If f : R -> R is both continuous and bijective, it is monotonic, and therefore so is (f . f), which is incompatible with the requirement that (f . f)(x) = -x.

yashg 2 hours ago 4 replies      
OK am I the only one who thinks this question is on the same lines as hose brainteasers from Google and Microsoft like why are manholes covers round, or how many crows are there in Manhattan?

Honestly, can anyone tell me exactly in what kind of a programming scenario do you have to write a function where f(f(n)) comes out to -n? This is more a math question than a programming one and unless you are expected to do a lot of complex math in your job I don't think such a question is appropriate for a programmer's interview.

ushi 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Here is a working go implementation...


pfortuny 2 hours ago 2 replies      

Where i=sqrt(-1), either would do.

Without proper constraints, the problem is trivial. The fact that the variable is called 'n' means nothing.

OTOH, if f is integer-valued and of an integer variable,

    f(0)=0    f(2n)=-(2n-1)    f(2n-1)=2n    f(-(2n-1))=-2n    f(-2n)=2n-1
Unless I am pretty confused (which may be).

The difficult one is f(f(n))=n^2.

ricardobeat 4 hours ago 0 replies      

    function f(n) { return -Math.abs(n) }
EDIT: something that works for negative numbers:

    function f(n) { return -n[0] || [n] }

homeomorphic 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This has probably been said in the SO thread already, but what is the negation operator supposed to mean for the one int32_t (typically the number -2^31) whose additive inverse (the number 2^31) is not a member of int32_t?
Raticide 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can I abuse dynamic typing? Javascript:

    function f(n) {        if (typeof n == 'object')            return -1 * n.val;        else            return {val: n};    }
The unit test passes, so much be good, right?

richardkiss 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
You can actually use complex numbers to solve this, but using a representation that fits in the regular integers.


thewarrior 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Should I be worried that I couldnt come up with a proper solution for this. How do you get better at solving such questions ?
qbrass 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a shady looking Common Lisp macro.

(defmacro f (n)

  (cond ((numberp n) n)              ((not (listp n)) (error "not a number"))              ((equal (car n) 'f) `(* -1 ,n))              (t n)))

raviparikh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure this isn't what they were looking for but it technically works: http://jsfiddle.net/8c7BE/1/
Anon84 1 hour ago 0 replies      
f(n) = i*n ?
The new php.net php.net
88 points by jbyers  5 hours ago   85 comments top 28
girvo 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
New redesign is great :)

Screw anyone who rags on PHP. Since 5.3, it's been one of the nicer languages I've ever used, and I'm exceedingly productive in it.

The best part? I can work in Brisbane, and get paid well for it. Not too many Ruby jobs around, or anything other than .Net and a little bit of Java.

DigitalSea 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is definitely a welcome change. Doesn't really stray too far from the previous design really, it feels cleaner and a lot more modern. I think PHP's lack of nicely designed site doesn't do them any favours in the language wars though considering PHP is viewed as an old and inferior language to others.
martin-adams 3 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who uses the PHP documentation all the time, I do wonder if the increased line spacing in the code examples and user comments are going to be a little off putting.

But great to see an improvement on the whole.

astrodust 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Less ugly, and yet not less ugly enough.

jQuery might've over-done it a bit with their most recent refresh, but that's a better example of what could be done.

The search feature, for instance, is complete garbage. If I'm typing in a method name, give me that method, not this: http://ca2.php.net/results.php?q=mysql_query&l=en&p=all

Is it so hard to do something like auto-complete? Wikipedia and many other API references do this.

Nux 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Right, so move from a site that can use the whole width of my frickin wide monitor (nevermind efficiency) to one that doesn't - but it's shiny!
pavs 3 hours ago 4 replies      
I just started learning php (my first programming language). I am reading Oreilly's Programming PHP 3rd Edition.

Can anyone give me any tips?

(please don't suggest other programming language, I have wasted countless hours trying to decide. I will eventually try to learn other languages but decided to start with php for now. My main interest is webapps, so it would seem that php is the most popular - and easy - choice.)

EGreg 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
Some of this is good, but in a way, PHP is going the way of C++ ... adding lambdas and the kitchen sink.
ineedtosleep 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. Definitely not a fan.

I don't know if it's because it's "new", but the readability on documentation pages got worse. It's like I'm better off using (e)links to handle php.net searches.

bbayer 3 hours ago 1 reply      
There are still couple of UX problems. For instance once you click an item on upper menu, the section which initially has download and tutorial links is disappeared. There is no way to bring it back to original state. Also again in top menu selected color and hover color is same and confuses user.

Also in some inner pages like this one http://www.php.net/manual/en/index.php left block is empty and page looks like misaligned. It might be better to borrow some ideas from Sphinx generated documentation style.

ing33k 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Definitely a welcome news , design looks modern yet the old look and feel is preserved.keep aside the language wars, people who just want to get things done still use php while others keep on bashing how it sucks .
csomar 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The menu is not usable for me. It seems like my screen is too small and yet I'm on a 1920px width screen.

The documentation pages are broken too. I guess the flat and typographical design is meant to improve the reading experience and not just for the sake of flatness.


chaffneue 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I like the concept. White layout with bigger, more readable blocks and less wasted space above the fold, but some of the fun they had with the footer and javascript on the page should probably be dropped to make the page load a bit smoother and yeah mobile has definitely not been considered or tested against. I also wonder if these pages are completely dynamic as they seem to load very slowly even in a logged out state.

Side by side speed comparison:



Iphone rendering:



alekseyk 4 hours ago 2 replies      
They are trying WAY too hard to be like other sites and copied a lot of elements but under no vision or creative guidance new design looks horrible.

Old one was at least professional and to the point, this one is pure garbage and looks like a web site for a grape drink.

C1D 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks very nice but isn't that responsive.It looks a little messed up on my iPad.
kleiba 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The landing page looks pretty good I think. When I first looked at the site I had JavaScript turned off, and I think it looked even better that way.
skyebook 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else think that the best way to promote PHP would be to have a home page that doesn't take 240ms of processing before it starts to download?
quchen 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Changing the font size dismembers the design. It's like it's 2005 again, where everyone had the same screen resolution, and pixel-based layouts were thought to be good webdesign.
grandpoobah 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The 'Begin Tutorial' button looks like something out of Windows 3.1.
TimGremalm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I checked archive.org, the previous design is from 2001.


lartza 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder what http://www.php.net/?setbeta=0&beta=1 and http://www.php.net/?setbeta=1&beta=0 does?

Oh it breaks the site so that you can't enable the beta at all anymore without resetting cookies.

edit: It's just that all mirrors aren't up to date

philliphaydon 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Would be nice if I could see it. They have this banner at the top:

Step into the future! Click here to switch to the beta php.net site.

Page just refreshes. Tried deleting all my cookies, didn't help.

Edit: Tried in IE10, Firefox, Chrome. I've never visited php.net on this computer before. IMO site is fail since they can't even get their beta site access feature working.

brvs 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This new, rejuvenated website, along with PHP's sexy new language features really seal the deal for me. I have to say, PHP is officially cool again. -sp
dewiz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
the new php.net...

...has not been tested on Safari (ipad2 here)

jayfolny 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I love PHP, I really do. It's a blinding mess of built-in functions as well as horror due to the incredible shoestorm one needs to create with it to make decent things work. I don't however like the "new" php.net. It's been a year in the making or so, if I'm not mistaking - not only that, it's 5 years in the past, which I guess is better than the previous design, but the "future" comment is just plain wrong.
sas1ni69 4 hours ago 0 replies      
At least they know the previous one was fugly.
shire 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Breath of fresh air.
kyriakos 5 hours ago 0 replies      
a welcome refresh
danbruc 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Did they use PHP to build it? ^^
Your API Consumers Arent Who You Think They Are bryanhelmig.com
81 points by mikeknoop  8 hours ago   11 comments top 5
nadiac 7 hours ago 2 replies      
When you design your APIs, you put a paradigm into depending who will be your user.I know for example a Hotel booking API which for the same resources expose 3 differents API depending on their final users.

They have one design for airplane tickets services (which requires sector-specific naming standards), one other for other Hotel booking sites and a last one for long tail developers.It is the same ressources but 3 differents APIs for exposing it, because they know their user needs.

I just think that when you design your API before knowing your user/customers, your users will be as you said in the article "not who you think they are"

A famous chinese proverb: "if you don't know where you are going, you will always arrive in a wrong place"

Edit : that resumes the issue I'm talkinghttp://apijoy.tumblr.com/post/51977839347/when-you-didnt-exp...

daurnimator 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I infact constantly find the opposite.

APIs documentation and forums help the lay-coder, but don't help me at all with trying to pin down a wire-format, or clear up an ambiguity in the docs.

kevinburke 4 hours ago 1 reply      
We've seen this a lot in user testing at Twilio, and I tried to boil down a lot of the info we saw into this talk, along the same lines as the post.


SatyajitSarangi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent post.

I created JustMigrate so I had to work with APIs of Tumblr and Posterous. Having had experience in building APIs and working with APIs of almost all the premium/famous/infamous services around, I was shocked when I came across Posterous API documentation.

Shocked in a beautiful way, as I couldn't believe how easy it was to understand. The API had realtime implementations right there, where you can enter values and check the response that you are getting.

Most API developers except users to use some scripting language or Poster to deal with the APIs to understand the response. Sometimes they give away code snippets, some of the times they will list down all the libraries that people built on top of the API, thus ensuring that the documentation bulk was the responsibility of the library developers. I was glad to see Posterous didnt' stick to that norm.

contingencies 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems like a reasonable place to remind people of the importance of multilingual APIs/API documentation, too.
I Knew Snowden. And Hes Not The Story medium.com
167 points by mncolinlee  6 hours ago   79 comments top 16
nostromo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not particularly interested in the Snowden play-by-play and backstory, but I think it's probably good for his cause.

The story would already be dead if he was extradited or simply disappeared quickly after the leak. Instead the US is getting daily "Where's Waldo" stories in the New York Times along with stories about the relationships between the US, China, and Russia. Having all of these angles from which to write about the story is giving it legs; and the longer it stays in the public's mind, the better.

drawkbox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Everything in this sums up my feelings on the matter.

It is impossible to get freedoms back, too easy to give them up. And if all seems well now, you have to understand that decades from now and many leaders later there is too much trust not to be abused.

If there is question of unconstitutional natures for systems like this, the authority and agencies need to prove themselves beyond a reasonable doubt in the open not in secrecy well over anyone calling it into question. You don't side with authority when freedoms are at risk, those don't come back.

Individuals are innocent until proven guilty, authority has to be guilty until proven innocent due to the sensitive nature of freedoms going away. It seems people have this flipped.

People think that the law or the Constitution will always provide a failsafe, but that is only a piece of paper if the people have no backbone and don't push back. It can happen here and is well on the way if we don't watch out. There are lots of patriots and good people in the CIA/NSA/FBI but it is not their job to contain overreach, it is the people.

mpyne 5 hours ago 5 replies      
I was really digging the article until right near the end.

If you think all the NSA could do with extra information is add more "hay" you're not thinking creatively enough.

For example, if you had a system that could scour through essentially infinite amounts of hay and be able to spit out each brown needle that passed through (think keyword filters), then definitely you'd want all the hay you could find, and then even more hay. Of course, keyword filters are fairly easy to avoid if you know they're there, so perhaps we'd call that a wash or even negative overall, as all the false positives make it impossible to be selective to the actual needles.

But there's another use for hay, quite brilliantly demonstrated in Iraq (or maybe it was Afghanistan, or even both, I forget). The idea was that some roads were more likely to have IEDs emplaced than others. So what the Army eventually did was to blanket the area with drones and record along those roads, trails leading to the roads from the nearby cities, etc.

When an IED inevitably exploded, they would go back to the tapes, rewind them until they found the bomber. Keep rewinding (tracking on different feeds if necessary) all the way back to the staging point. Rewind further, all the way back to the cell's meeting site, and the bomber's home.

Repeat this for enough IEDs and you have a picture of where the cell assembles, where they stage out of, who they visit for support, etc.

And then you send teams in all at once to detain that cell, get more intel to piece together what they can of the rest of the network.

The sad reality is that you cannot prevent all terrorism from ever happening, but if you can "play back" a person's interaction with foreign agents you can use that to bootstrap intelligence seeding on that foreign agents other contacts within the U.S. to root out that terror network before they strike again.

Doing all of this requires a lot of hay. Obviously there is a very large risk to civil liberties in the wrong hands if that system is simply left as-is, but it is at least possible to put procedural, legal, and technical safeguards if the people decide that kind of system is worthwhile.

The other part of the article I was disappointed about was the mention of how the NSA (of all agencies) failed to prevent the Boston marathon bombing. Responsibility for domestic antiterrorism would properly fall with the FBI. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a permanent resident, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a naturalized citizen. All indications that I've heard were that Tamerlan essentially self-radicalized (possibly while abroad). Unless one thinks that the NSA is able to read minds of people in Chechnya I'm not sure what the author thinks could have been done.

Russia did warn the FBI (again, not the NSA), that much is true. But in our land of the rule of law, we don't arrest people just because Putin said that they are unreliables. It is unclear exactly how many people Russia have 'warned' the FBI about anyways, or what their criteria are for making those warnings.

But either way, blaming the NSA for missing an attack by domestic terrorists is almost completely missing the point of why we have the NSA, CIA, and FBI all as different agencies. As far as I'm aware no one from any of those agencies has ever claimed that systems as strong as PRISM or even 641A-type arrangements would 100% prevent terrorism, just like our police don't claim to be able to 100% prevent crime.

That doesn't mean that we should simply never try to prevent terrorist attacks from occurring, just as it doesn't mean it's a good idea to fire all the police. You have to evaluate the risk/reward and ROI of each program, keeping in mind that some things are hard to measure in dollars.

For instance, keeping terrorism from becoming so prevalent that the people act for the police state we all want to prevent is a pretty big motivator by itself.

marshray 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So far Snowden hasn't revealed much that wasn't already said by NSA whistleblowers Drake, Binney, et al. Yet most folks had never heard of them or much about the issues they were trying to raise.

Yet Snowden is an international superstar and the substance of his disclosures are, in fact, front page news on a regular basis. If it takes paying some attention to the fact that his girlfriend was a pole dancer, I guess that's OK with me.

gosu 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Snowden is a story too. As someone who considers him a hero, and one of the rare few who I can relate to, I'd like to know more about him views so that I can learn from him. That's not irrational, unless you think biographies are a waste.

In this regard, I wonder if any potential underhanded focus on character rather than message in the media might have the ironic effect of empowering more young people. "You can do good and be brave even if you play WoW".

gasull 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A hierarchical organization that centralizes so much unchecked power as the NSA will attract a good share of sociopaths. Sociopaths seek power over others. Then it's a matter of time until a sociopath manages to climb to the top, and then you have a full-blown tyranny.


zenocon 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It is so disheartening to see the media bicker all day about Snowden and Greenwald. What can be done to steer the story back to the travesty at hand?
skwirl 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"The technology that the NSA now wields far exceeds Senator Churchs most excessive dreams of a surveillance state."

The author apparently thinks Senator Church didn't have much of an imagination or had never heard of the Soviet Union or China.

joshuaellinger 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally, I think he's playing his side of the story pretty well. It's hard to demonize the nice geek kid, a least with the tech community.

The espionage charges reveal how awful Obama, really all of Washington, is on the Bill of Rights. I think this whole thing is going to backfire on them.

runn1ng 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am sorry, I know that it's not that important, but I just find Where Is Snowden Adventures so exciting to watch. It's like reading an adventure novel, only in real time, real life and with larger-than-life characters like Assange and that NSA general.
jmtame 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I personally won't be happy until I see all fiber splitters installed by the NSA completely removed (such as the one at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco). Move it back to San Luis Obispo.

I liked the reference to The Spy Factory (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyoeOM22WCc) in this article, and I find it interesting that the NSA had been surveilling Al Qaeda for 3 years leading up to 9/11, and had more than enough data gathered on them. They were taking photographers and following two key hijackers--that's like the upper limit of surveillance, and they hit it. The mistake was not that they needed more, it was that they intentionally did not communicate any of those details to the FBI or CIA once two key hijackers were in the U.S. Fix the communication, not the collection.

ttflee 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I recalled the dialogue from the film The Watchmen.

> The Comedian: What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it!

icpmacdo 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"I have learned that people decide what they think based upon narratives. A good story always has better results than merely listing out facts. Every good narrative has both characters and a plot."

I was listening to a podcast the other day where one of the people said that if people were solely interested in facts the phone book would be the most interesting book in the world.

brvs 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This reads like an essay from a freshman poli-sci class. The only unique thing about this post is the lame humblebrag or whatever about the author playing videogames with Snowden. But of course it's besides the point. It's so irrelevant that it has to go in the headline and link title.

A software dev speaking outside of his area of expertise to amplify the echo chamber while getting hits for his blog isn't enriching the debate.

joepub 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree Snowden or Greenwald or whoever has the classified stuff needs to tell a compelling story, with a chronology.

Mr. Lee is absolutely spot on when he reminds us that the media and the White House are stealing the narrative. We're now totally focused on a random sysadmin trying to guess what makes him tick. Who cares? What about the criminal activity by the US government he's laid bare for all to see?

I kept hearing all this talk of "free speech" and the 1st Amendment today (thanks Carney), as it is supposed to exist in other countries, even when they lack anything like a US Constitution... good luck with that, and that Snowden's choice of destination is somehow symbolic of his motives. Maybe he's just trying to stay out of jail. Is that so hard to understand?

So I guess we're forgetting all about the 4th Amendment, which is the whole reason he's putting his life on the line in the first place. We need more details from those classified docs, we need a narrative and we need to bring the focus back to mass scale pen registers and warrantless searches. Snowden's case is boring. He's guilty. He committed a felony by disseminating redacted classified material to expose illegality on a much larger scale. Most Americans would be too frightened to do this. He's not the usual. Get over it.

On the other hand, the case of the US government, their conduct and whether it breaks US laws or the spirit of US law, is far more interesting.

Stop worrying about the rights of people in other countries and start worrying about the rights of Americans, who are extremely lucky to have an amazing Constitution, which used to be a model and the envy of the world.

unknownian 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Somewhat irrelevant but anyone else think Medium's URLs are really ugly? Why can't you just get a plain pretty subdomain? I'd use it if it were that.
Only the Lonely stephenfry.com
346 points by jlangenauer  18 hours ago   107 comments top 12
flatline 17 hours ago 9 replies      
> I dont want to be alone, but I want to be left alone.

I have always suffered from this as well. Perhaps it is just a touch of introversion? I have a happy marriage and family but I often need time all to myself or I just get overwhelmed by the constant stimulus of...other people. I don't even necessarily do anything different than I would with my family, though I generally try to work on my own projects or study something interesting.

javajosh 17 hours ago 14 replies      
Personally, I think it's great that Fry has been so forthcoming with his travails. It helps others tremendously to know that they are not alone.

I want to speak to an important question, though: why DO we continue? This is a discussion of the rational justification, independent of brain-chemistry. Hamlet is right for the wrong reasons. These are my beliefs:

The only real reason to continue is because you think that you can contribute, in at least a small way, to the long-term well-being of humanity. You, an individual, are a cell in a vast organism of humanity, and your duty is to find something useful to do. There are many ways to do this, as a (spiritual, physical) healer, as a (artistic, technical) creator, or as a player of (business, political) games (who, by the way, use the output of the first two types in the game).

The "long-term well-being of humanity" itself has many possible expressions. On the largest scale, it means making sure that humanity itself can survive any calamity. That means not only taking care of this planet, making sure that it can sustain life, but it also means reaching and colonizing other places in the solar system and galaxy. Given the incredible work required to build a self-sustaining colony orbiting the Earth (which is the only viable option given our level of technology) maintaining intellectual freedom is paramount. Constructing social/political/economic systems that reward power to those with self-restraint, and engender trust in those who could harm us is also important. On a smaller scale, raising children is crucially important, because the organism of humanity needs new cells to replace the cells that die.

Comedians like Stephen Fry are our philosophers. They perform a remarkable feat of alchemy, taking the banal horrors of political and social life and transmuting them in to something funny, something insightful, something that makes you think. Humor is an effective coping mechanism when we face our own prejudices, our own contradictions and, importantly, the same mistakes we see in others. Too often our leaders, and indeed we ourselves, don't laugh enough at the tragedies of our age - for laughter is more powerful than hate, because it criticizes injustice but mercifully leaves behind the terrible burning that anger creates.

Please, Stephen, continue.

ctdonath 15 hours ago 0 replies      
its the thought behind the most famous speech in all history. To be, or not to be.

In high school I started memorizing that for no particular reason. Upon completing a test, I idly doodled it in the margin waiting for the class to end, and handed in the paper. The next morning, the teacher cornered me in the hall and delicately asked if everything was OK. Bewildered by the time & tone of the question, I suddenly realized what Hamlet's soliloquy was about.

kposehn 17 hours ago 5 replies      
I've always thought that if you know someone is suicidal, don't always make it apparent that it is on your mind.

Sometimes they just need to have a person who lets things be normal - someone who knows what is there, but doesn't let it change the tone of every interaction.

That seems one of the most helpful things you can do, in my opinion.

hjay 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"The strange thing is, if you see me in the street and engage in contemplation I will probably freeze into polite fear and smile inanely until I can get away to be on my lonely ownsome."

This is me. I feel lonely all the time, yet when people approach me for conversation, I smile and respond with the least amount of words possible, and long for the moment I can be on my own again.

gadders 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I can't help feeling a bit cynical about Stephen Fry's suicide "revelation". After gaining all the news coverage, the very next day he announced some new TV project of his. Coincidence?
baby 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how nihilist people (as I am) who are suicidal (as I am not) are still alive. As long as I can recall I've never had even one thought about killing myself, but if I did I can easily imagine that I would have killed myself.
joebeetee 12 hours ago 0 replies      
..."what the fuck right do I have to be lonely, unhappy or forlorn? I dont have the right. But there again I dont have the right not to have those feelings. Feelings are not something to which one does or does not have rights."

This is a great quote. Having been exposed to significant poverty and hardship growing up, I am often unnecessarily and overly harsh on celebrities and privileged people - this quote stopped me in my tracks.

Then I begin to think about the life/health that I have and start to feel like the jammy one.

Sorry Sir Stephen, wish I could help in some way.

paganel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe lots of people already know about it, but I'll just copy-paste this in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs

It's not an anti-dote (to loneliness and everything), it just genuinely helped me from time to time and I hope it will also help others.

estacado 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Suicidal thoughts as a disease may not only be solely genetic, but may have something to do with lifestyle/environment, like other diseases. I wonder how many starving Africans actually have this disease.
NovemberWest 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't deal well with being alone, but I am also an extrovert. Loneliness and being alone are very much different things. I was much, much, much lonelier in a marriage where love had died than since my divorce, though I was romantically "alone" a long time (however, my sons still live with me so I have rarely been literally alone).
Luc 14 hours ago 4 replies      
If you research Stephen Fry a bit, you'll find a great many people who believe he's a somewhat of a national treasure, and the world is better for having him in it. It goes much beyond his acting. He's a cultural icon.

To find that someone so beloved wanted to kill himself, it's... jarring.

Lorem Gibson - Website filler text based on the works of William Gibson loremgibson.com
40 points by Dekku  5 hours ago   10 comments top 4
networked 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Great idea! Where are the verbs, though? Right now I can see from the JS source it doesn't use Markov chains [1], which could improve the result greatly. Good placeholder text in a language the user can understand (as opposed to simple Greeking [2]) is non-distracting precisely because it balances on the verge of meaning. From my experience I'd assume fake Latin and nonsense prose would both be less distracting than a soup of fascinating SF words.

Edit: Here's what a markov.js remix of William Gibson's Burning Chrome looks like:

>Los Angeles was a dream, responsive to Deke's slightest thought. For weeks he systematically visited every boozy watering hole in the Fifties. Sometimes they'd run old eroded newsreels as filler on the museum's exhibits, a NASA Hasselblad recovered from the inside. It probably took all of Jackman's silent and vast and perfectly immobile bulk wedged into a gray plastic tiara. Tally Isham smiling up from the huge speakers. He sought her almost blindly on the edge of the tall drinks and paid. A big woman in green, and in- clined her head. She was everyone's giggling sister, in a way to trust in whatever context it encountered. Congratulations, I heard the woman said. That's the trouble with designer drugs; they're too clever. That stuff you're doing has some hard data, Toby; she's a hologram stuck behind my left ear, where they'd gone in to tell it to. Nobody at all. And I know you were looking for us, or for the road, admire the city walls, the high point of the hydrogen atom. Tsiolkovsky's radio telescope was tracking, relaying the signal to geosynchronous comsats that bounced it down to Plesetsk, where bulldozers were already excavating for a year later, when two leading firms had the exact change, unless he wanted and couldn't have, everything he'd had to jump with it, and it was relentlessly tacky: ephemeral stuff extruded by the open doors and watch the crowd pull me along, walking blind, willing myself to relax.

[1] For Markov chains in Javascript see, e.g., http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~cz1/prog/markov/markov.html.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greeking

gemlog 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is silly.

I've run a printing press in my mis-spent youth. And repaired photo-copiers.

One technique that is often taught is to turn the page upside-down -- in order that you not be distracted by the content.

You are, at that point, and your job, is to be only interested in the copy/print quality. Registration, blur etc. Not the content. That's the editor's job. Not yours.

The same may be said in this instance for the layout. That's your focus, or should be. That's the beauty of Lorem Ipsum: most people don't know Latin. If you want a change, make it Klingon, but retain the original use. That is, to check the page. Don't make it distracting by being readable or in any way comprehensible.

_delirium 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm holding out for Lorem Ibsen.
saraid216 3 hours ago 1 reply      
These are fun, but I really don't understand why people refuse to release the source code for them.
Foundations of Computer Science stanford.edu
383 points by sonabinu  20 hours ago   80 comments top 26
jontas 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I downloaded and merged the individual PDFs into one file, you can grab it here:


Edit: I did this using commands mentioned in some other comments and some Googling (this only works on OSX):

curl -O http://i.stanford.edu/~ullman/focs/ch[01-14].pdf && /System/Library/Automator/Combine\ PDF\ Pages.action/Contents/Resources/join.py -o ./merged.pdf ./*.pdf

vbtemp 18 hours ago 2 replies      
From the first paragraph of the first chapter:

> But fundamentally, computer science is a science of abstraction creating the right model for thinking about a problem and devising the appropriate mechanizable techniques to solve it.

Too often in computer science education these days, this essential fact is lost.

mathattack 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I like that they share the lecture notes too. http://i.stanford.edu/~ullman/fcsc-notes.html
dylanrw 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are all of the PDFs compiled into a single one with correct page numbers, including the preface etc. http://static.dyli.sh/Foundations%20of%20Computer%20Science%...
FraaJad 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Many people have posted the combined PDF on this thread. However, there is no way to economically print this PDF for self use. Lulu puts the limit at 740 pages and this book weighs in at 790+ pages.

Does anyone know of a cheap online printer that can print at around 2cents/page?

SatyajitSarangi 16 hours ago 1 reply      
ACM members once had a poll to resurrect a few classic CS books. That poll slowly became a "favourite CS books" list.This is the list: http://t.co/LOli1BKFuL

Some splendid suggestions there.

loupeabody 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Many many many thanks for this link. That's another resource in the bucket along with SICP[0] and MIT 6.00[1]. I'm gonna have a beastly year for learning.


nsomaru 9 hours ago 1 reply      
From the preface (prerequisites):

> Students taking courses based on this book have ranged from first-year undergraduates to graduate students. We assume only that students have had a solid course in programming. They should be familiar with the programming language ANSI C to use this edition. In particular, we expect students to be comfortable with C constructs such as recursive functions, structures, pointers, and operators involving pointers and structures such as dot, ->, and &.\

Could someone recommend a resource for someone who is fairly proficient in Python?

super_mario 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a version with all chapters merged into single file and Bookmarks/Outline links working correctly:


peter303 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I was in the Stanford bookstore a few days ago and noticed their summer softback text for their summer Comp Sci 101 course was $132. It was about Java and basic computer principles together. It resembled a standard softback beginning Java reference book but with some exercises added to each chapter. Aho and Jeff have done a fine service offering their more meaty textook online gratis. (You dont even want to know what hardback texts cost- over $200.)
cobookman 19 hours ago 1 reply      
We used the book for ECE 3020 - Mathematical foundations of computer Engineering at Gatech.

Lecture notes have been taken down, but here are our homework solutions: http://users.ece.gatech.edu/~dblough/3020/solutions/hw_solut...

darrellsilver 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome book. I think we used this book in my CS days, but would have to check my notes.

Well timed post as well: We're adding more on programming fundamentals to our course at http://www.thinkful.com/

rgbrgb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Interestingly this was not the book we used in Al Aho's CS Theory course in 2011.
dschiptsov 18 hours ago 1 reply      
1992 - a world without Java...

And, you know, the book about foundations is... SICP.)OK, this is C Edition.

tux1968 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Many of the same questions when discussed here previously. Still no epub which is a shame..


rbanffy 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't find any license. I wonder if the authors would allow someone to convert the book to epub or mobi.
vishal0123 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Why so many books these days are available to download for free one chapter at a time. It just makes reading worse.
thisisdallas 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Would this be a good resource for someone who doesn't have a CS degree and who doesn't necessarily know the foundation of CS?
peter303 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Computer Science has come of age when textbooks from 20 years ago are about as relevant as they are today. That means there are now timeless principles in the discipline. Most of the computer languages used in mY MIT classes 40 years ago are not around today.
themstheones 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there an epub available?
paulasmith 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Great book. It's amazing that after all these years the content is still relevant.
statik_42 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like a great book just from skimming a few chapters, I'll make sure I spend more time with this later. Thanks for posting.
jryan49 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Also used this book during university. We all had to print it out on a printer.
badhairday 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I remember this book. My university uses it for a sophomore level CS course.
sgtnotorious 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Very awesome book!
lexisnexis86 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing!
NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Not on Cuba Flight But 'In a Safe Place' go.com
11 points by adrian_pop  2 hours ago   3 comments top 3
danbruc 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Some of the U.S. officials [...] told ABC News that the Hong Kong government was playing a double-game [...], which has raised fears that Chinese intelligence operatives had more time and opportunity to copy Snowden's four laptop hard drives a feat that wouldn't be too difficult for the Russian intelligence service to do as well.


"It's fairly easy to do with right equipment," the official explained. "They get you when you leave it in your hotel room or even at the airport when they get you in an interrogation room at immigration."

Did they just imply they are not using full disc encryption on NSA laptops?

kken 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
What a horrible piece of biased "journalism".

"High school drop-out" = Trying to disregard his intelligence

"Abandonend his Country" , "Leaked gouvernment secrets" ... sure, that is a totally neutral way of describing what he did.

And where did they get this Emily Brandwin. That surely must be a joke?

And what is it ith the narrow-eyed TV announcer in the beginning? Is he supposed to look non-threatening to people of lesser intelligence?

j4pe 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. I had a difficult time understanding why my family and friends back in the States have such a problem with Snowden until I saw the tone of this article. Every topic in the story digs the knife a little deeper: did Hong Kong screw us with red tape? Have the Russians and the Chinese copied his hard drives (with their 'pilfered files') already? Did he set out to conduct espionage from the get-go? Find out at 11, viewers, and don't touch that dial.
Perfect Forward Secrecy can block the NSA, but almost no one uses it computerworld.com
290 points by LoganCale  17 hours ago   116 comments top 19
paulsutter 15 hours ago 7 replies      
Chrome should change the lock icon to something weaker for sessions that don't use ephemeral keys.

This may be the most important article on HN related to the NSA leaks. Fact is, most of us haven't paid enough attention to the details of https.

EDIT: "something weaker" - didn't mention color. People dont need to understand "forward secrecy", the browser just needs to raise the bar for what's considered secure. The goal is to change server-side behavior, not consumer behavior.

jgrahamc 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I really hate the name "Perfect Forward Secrecy". There's no guarantee in ECDHE that the connections cannot be decrypted at some future time. All that's being implied is that the key changes per connection.

Sure, it's 'better' than RSA with a long lived private key, but there could be advances that would breach ECDH and make none of this 'perfect'. Such as: http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securityma... If the NIST supplied curves used by the TLS standard had a backdoor none of this would be perfect.

gojomo 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Two notes:

(1) While Google uses forward-security on their HTTPS connections, I've not yet seen evidence either way as to whether the SMTP-TLS connections (relaying email to other domains) use forward-security. (The report at checktls.com mentions only the cipher "RC4-SHA", not the key-exchange mechanism.)

(2) If one side of the connection chooses to retain its session keys, or chooses session keys in a poor/predictable manner, or leaks information about session keys via a side-channel (either by mistake or intent), then the forward-security could be destroyed, and in a very subtle/undetectable way.

(This could be a cheap and sly way to grant visibility to a third-party: adopt forward-security outwardly, but ensure your session keys only look random to people who don't know the bug/secret-seed-shared-with-the-third-party.)

Strilanc 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I agree with the article. Perfect forward secrecy (given master private key, still can't figure out derived session keys) is a wonderful property.

However, it's a bit over-reaching to say it can "block the NSA". It won't stop them from backdoor-ing your hardware/software (keyloggers, compromised random numbers, etc). It won't stop them from storing the encrypted communication until (for example) quantum computers make it possible to decrypt it (assuming RSA).

tlb 15 hours ago 2 replies      
FWIW, news.ycombinator.com provides perfect forward secrecy with ECDHE_RSA. Thanks, Nick!
casca 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's odd that there seems to be no definitive instructions for nginx or apache for enabling PFS. Given that it's clearly not obvious how to set this up, how many here are inadvertently running non-PFS without knowing it?
lucian1900 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't see how this really helps, though. The NSA can still force a CA to generate certs for any domain they wish to intercept and MITM everyone they care about. They are likely to have the resources for that.
rocky1138 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It would have been a fantastic effect and win for computerworld.com if their site supported what this article talked about.
IvyMike 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had a question about PFS for a while now: How 'expensive' is it to implement?

First up, let me state for the record that I don't have personal experience with running SSL on a server. But back in the day, generating a public/private key pair for PGP was a semi-expensive operation. Definitely not the kind of thing I could imagine running on a per session basis.

Since PFS requires per-session public/private key pairs, how "costly" is it?

(I understand that the goog uses ECDHE, so I guess I'm asking for a general feel for how quickly and efficient this compares to RSA key generation.)

diminoten 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The line has always been, "You can't stop a determined hacker with any single solution."

The NSA may be a group of determined hackers.

One technology isn't going to suddenly cure the whole problem. It takes a solid security policy set at and followed by the top levels of a company, and constant vigilance to respond to threats. You're not going to stop anyone from getting in, but you can stop them from getting anything of value, and you can kick them out quickly and quietly.

lazyjones 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This article seems to start out with wrong assumptions and therefore ends up presenting dangerously wrong conclusions:

"Suppose, for example, the NSA was recording all HTTPS encrypted traffic to/from joeswebsite.com in January. Then, in February, they learned the private key for joeswebsite.com. Almost always, that lets them decrypt everything from January, February, March and beyond."

We should instead suppose that the NSA has had the private keys all the time (since it started recording encrypted communication), so every piece of communication that has been recorded can be decrypted even with Perfect Forward Secrecy. I.e. let's assume they got Google's private key immediately when it was last changed, then all communication with Google's servers is decryptable (correct me if I'm wrong).

The NSA doesn't have to brute-force private keys, they just use legal/strong-arm techniques to obtain them, so it doesn't take a lot of computing power and time.

mtgx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If Google is offering perfect forward secrecy for e-mails, why don't they have the same for Hangouts (OTR with perfect forward secrecy)?
codereflection 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Gmail uses Perfect Forward Secrecy, so what? If the NSA really does have direct access to Google's servers, then PFS will not provide you any extra protection from them. Sure, PFS will make it harder for others to snoop. But the current context for the general population is PRISM and the NSA.

I'm not saying that PFS (ugh, what a name, perfect, really?) isn't valuable, I'm just pointing out that no one should think this is going to make it any harder for the NSA to read/access your gmail account.

lucasjans 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It appears this very site is using Perfect Forward Security. http://cloud.lucasjans.com/image/081m1V3c3O1z
Nursie 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it need to be DHE or will DH do just as well? What exactly is the difference here?

It still uses a key per connection at the least, and it's still not on the NIST/FIPS 140-2 standards because you can't decode it after the fact so it breaks auditing (all AFAICT, and I have looked at this stuff a lot).

That said, we're best using AES_GCM, 2048-bit RSA and ECDHE as a matter of course, because at the very least it requires a valid, active MITM to break and can't just be logged and scanned later.

Sprint 14 hours ago 1 reply      
How important is the difference between ECDHE_RSA and DHE_RSA security-wise?

edit: I asked because Opera showed a site's free StartCom certificate as "TLS v1.0 256 bit AES (1024 bit DHE_RSA/SHA)". I checked with Chromium and there it is shown as ECDHE_RSA though. This is confusing...

flatfilefan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Suppose the data captured is not a dump of a database but rather a https log. Doesn't it imply that NSA has to essentially rebuild the server functionality to make sense of the data?
joepub 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What about more use of one-time or ephemeral email addresses? The info we have so far seems to suggest NSA likes to track email addresses. Compare tracking an email address that was only used to send or receive one or a few messages with one that has a long history of use.
LoganCale 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Note that despite this headline, the article does correctly state that Google now uses Perfect Forward Secrecy.
How Silicon Valley Perfected Ice Cream wired.com
14 points by navpan  3 hours ago   8 comments top 7
timr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Freezing speed is correlated with freezing temperature. So if you can freeze it really, really cold, you can get smaller ice crystals. And if you can freeze really cold, you can freeze really fast. The benefit of that is if you make small enough batches you can freeze to order. Therefore you dont need any of those extra ingredients that make ice cream far from natural."

You know what else works for that? Fat. It's why iced custard is smoother than philadelphia ice cream. It's also much easier and more manageable than using liquid nitrogen, but, you know...you can't sell regular ice cream to hipsters at a massive markup.

That's it...I'm opening an easy-bake oven bakery in Hayes Valley. After all, cooking with lightbulbs is slower, and therefore, more love goes into each cookie.

johnyzee 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The Discovery series about food chemistry had a segment about using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. I think they concluded that it is the perfect way to make ice cream.

The show had many other very interesting segments (like how to make mashed potato that doesn't turn into glue) with all the chemical backgrounds for great foods. It is fascinating stuff.

marban 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I assume the OP has never been to europe.
fourstar 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
nakedrobot2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Graeter's perfected ice cream decades ago. It's not techy or Silicon Valley or in Wired but it is definitely the best. There is no need to look further. Anyone else claiming ice cream perfection is a charlatan.
jejones3141 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Might want to take a look at http://www.blueskycreamery.com/ where they've been freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen in large quantities (rather than the tiny spheres of Dippin' Dots) for a long time; the two founders came up with the process when they were Iowa State students back in 1999.
dpdawson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Dinner (dinnerbyheston.com) has a similar machine. I know it was custom built. I wonder if there is some connection.
Salt: Like Puppet, Except It Doesnt Suck smartbear.com
308 points by Baustin  20 hours ago   230 comments top 39
SandB0x 18 hours ago 10 replies      
I'm not a web developer but I have a side-project that runs on a cobbled together EC2 instance. The server state is in theory documented in a set of of shell scripts and virtualenv requirements files.

I know that I should be doing this in a more robust way but whenever I try and read up on configuration management tools like Puppet and Chef, they're all described in comparative terms - Puppet does X better than Vagrant which does Y better than Chef, etc. I quickly lose patience and get back to digging myself into a deeper technical hole.

Is there a non-recursive explanation of what these tools are able to do and where someone like me should start?

Edit: Thanks for the helpful responses!

tptacek 19 hours ago 7 replies      
I've used Fabric, Chef, Puppet, and Ansible, and have settled on Ansible; it's a sort of middle ground between Fabric and Chef that does more than just run commands on servers but doesn't require me to buy into a whole elaborate universe of configuration management servers and whatnots. Ansible is great.

The ZeroMQ stuff makes sense if you're pushing configurations inside a data center, but it's a dealbreaker for us having things hosted externally.

contingencies 17 hours ago 10 replies      
Salt/Puppet/whatever. I ignore them all. Why? I have put a lot of thought in to this area.

IMHO, the overwhelming problem with salt/cfengine/puppet style solutions (which I will refer to as 'post-facto configuration tinkerers', or PFCT's) is that they potentially accrue vast amounts of undocumented/invisible state, therefore creating what I refer to as configuration drift.

IMHO, a cleaner solution is to deploy configuration changes from scratch, by deploying clean-slate instances with those changes made. In addition, versioning one's environment in this way creates an identifiable point against which to execute automated tests. (This class of solution I refer to as 'Clean-slate, Identifiable Environments' or CSIES.) Examples are Amazon AMI's, and any other kind of versioned/identified VMs.

PFCT's deployment paradigm tends to be relative slow and error prone. CSIE's tend to be fast and atomic. PFCTs are headed for the dustbin of history. They are temporary hacks that clearly grew from old-school sysadmins' will to script. CSIEs embrace modern day devops, as more holistic entities that embrace virtualization and recognize the integrity of the environment as critical to preventing ridiculous numbers of environment-induced, service-level issues that are an expensive tangent to service development, testing and deployment. Thus, I would argue that what we are looking at with PFCT's is a failed paradigm, and with CSIEs, the now real and current opportunity for something far more elegant.

(Disclaimer: Haven't tried ansible or vagrant first hand, but they do seem to be PFCT's to me.)

susi22 19 hours ago 10 replies      
IMO, ansible is even better:


It doesn't require any deamon and does all its work over the good old unix fashion way: SSH. And it's python too.

memset 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I think salt is neato, but I also find it very frustrating to use! (Possibly through no fault of salt itself - I feel like I must be missing something.)

I am generally able to SSH into a box and get things configured the way I need. However, I have huge amounts of trouble translating that into salt scripts.

Consider logrotate. Here is the only documentation I can find on the topic [1]. From this, I have no idea what to put in init.sls to make sure a given log file is being rotated correctly. It seems this would work on the cmdline, but not necessarily in a salt script.

And that's just for logrotate! My uswgi + nginx configuration - translating that into salt - I don't know where to begin.

How do I make sure things get installed in a certain order? (Answer seems to be having 10 directives, for 10 packages, each depending on another, to enforce order.)

Is there anything that more closely mirrors what I actually do when configuring the box? SSH in, set certain values, etc? I guess I could write a shell script (or use fabric) but then I seem to have lost the point of configuration management.

[1] http://docs.saltstack.com/ref/modules/all/salt.modules.logro...

jtreminio 20 hours ago 4 replies      
I was frustrated with Puppet when I first started. All I wanted was a VM to install a few things so I could do some development and not have to worry about managing my VM.

It turned out to be a rabbit hole. As soon as I thought I learned just enough to get it running, something else popped up that stopped me.

That's why I created PuPHPet [1]. So far the reception has been fairly positive.

At one point in my learning, I got fed up and tried Salt. I couldn't get the Salt hello-world running. I followed the directions to a T. If your tutorial is incorrect, or hard to follow just to get the most basic version up and running, it will turn people away.

Also, this was all on top of Vagrant.

[1] PuPHPet - https://puphpet.com

uggedal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I used Puppet for a few years (and created a few modules for it https://github.com/puppetmodules). I switched to Salt a year ago. My main motivation were its simplicity (YAML+jinja), lower memory consumption, easier source code both to read and contribute to, and its support for both push and pull based architectures.

If you want to get a feel for how salt looks like when managing some servers and laptops you can take a look at my states: https://github.com/uggedal/states

Goladus 19 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm still looking for a configuration management system that doesn't assume that the first step towards managing servers is to add a new "master" server. From the thread, ansible looks promising. In the meantime I'll keep using chef-solo until opscode kills it.
AaronBBrown 14 hours ago 2 replies      
This article makes a claim (...Puppet...Suck(s)), but does not take even attempt to explain what it is that sucks.

What, specifically, "sucks" about Puppet and Chef and what is so much "simpler" about Salt or Ansible? As an Ops guy who has been running Puppet since 2008 (and Chef most recently) against hundred of servers, I don't see the simplicity reflected in the documentation, nor do I find Puppet or Chef particularly complicated.

(Ok, Chef's attributes system is a bit confusing at first, but it is hugely powerful.)

wunki 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I just released a open-source package which enables you to create a Django centric stack on Vagrant with the help of Salt. It was indeed very easy to write. You can check it out here:


spudlyo 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Chef works atop ssh, which while the gold standard for cryptographically secure systems management is computationally expensive to the point where most master servers fall over under the weight of 700-1500 clients.

It doesn't have to be this way. The situation where one host repeatedly needs to talk to hundreds via SSH is precisely where the SSH ControlMaster socket shines. This saves you a ton of overhead by not having to start up and tear down the session every time you want to issue a command via SSH.

I often use this trick on busy Nagios servers that execute many active checks via SSH -- it works well.

mncolinlee 16 hours ago 0 replies      
We're actually a Windows-centric shop and have been actively evaluating configuration management solutions for Windows-based virtual machines. Initially, we were only looking at Puppet, Chef, and a commercial product called uProvision along with Vagrant. I was surprised to find that Salt had a real community behind it.

Our greatest challenge has been coming up with a tool which can manage images for both VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V. This article introduced a web integration between Salt and libvirt called Salt-virt. Has anyone tried this interface for managing images? Does it work better than the young integration between Vagrant and libvirt?

justincormack 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I much prefer the immutable server model [1] to the puppet model. Build a new tested server with the new config and roll that out.

[1] http://martinfowler.com/bliki/ImmutableServer.html

boothead 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is timely! I've just started writing a set of salt states to capture the set up of my new dell xps 13 (sputnik) so I never have to go through the pain of setting up xmonad, emacs and various other development environment stuff again.

What I really like about salt is that everything is in one place and all goes towards building the same data structure that everything runs off.

kapilvt 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing that bugs me about salt is the almost complete lack of testing/coverage. They had tons of egg-face releases for crypto bugs, upgrade issues, things a basic test suite would have solved. I'd rather not trust my production environments to something that's a roll of the dice of whether its working, secure, or upgradable on a given release.
frio 12 hours ago 0 replies      
From skimming the top level of comments, it seems most people don't like these tools. Fair enough.

That said, on-topic, I just wanted to say that having tried Puppet, Chef and Salt, I've found Salt the easiest to use. Straightforward installation (no messing with Ruby versions/rvm/etc.), really simple setup (systemctl start salt-master; systemctl start salt-minion; salt-keys -L; salt-keys -A yourbox; done), and the YAML-based configuration syntax has been a breeze to work with.

Really quite pleased with it; it's made getting a few of my hairer boxes under control much easier than I expected (and much easier than I found with Chef or Puppet).

crb 18 hours ago 2 replies      
> MCollective (which Puppet Labs acquired several years ago) was (and remains!) fiendishly complex to set up.

I didn't find MCollective hard at all - you just install some debs, a message queue server (Stomp was easiest at the time - it's now deprecated, but surely is not much different to RabbitMQ?) and it Just Worked for me. And there was a great screencast.

Did it get far more complicated since I used it last?

gaadd33 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Is communication to/from ZeroMQ encrypted? If not it seems like this wouldn't be a very secure way to configure or distribute files over anything other than a VPN or LAN?
abtinf 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Yet another un-googlable project name. Pretty much kills it for me.
hi2usir 19 hours ago 1 reply      
"Salts approach was far simpler."

Funny, that's how I feel about Ansible compared to everything else including Salt.

cultureulterior 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Personally, I don't think puppet sucks
otterley 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When used with Chef Server 11 (or Hosted Chef), Chef scales reasonably well. You install a client on each node, and the client speaks to the server via HTTPS + REST.

The unqualified assertion that Chef uses ssh is inaccurate. You can run chef-solo via ssh if you like, but you'll run into the same scalability ceiling as with any other ssh-based solution.

UtahDave 18 hours ago 1 reply      
SaltStack also won at Gigaom Structure last week!


(I'm a SaltStack employee)

knowshan 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Both Salt and Ansible look interesting. It's much easier to define system state using Ansible or Salt than Puppet.

However, I am not sure how would one use Ansible where VMs get launched dynamically (private cloud/virtualization fabric where devs can instantiate systems) and then receive their configuration without any manual steps.

For example, one can create kickstart/VM-images which get a hostname based on certain regex pattern, register with a Puppet master, the Puppet master auto-signs certs matching this specific hostname pattern and then client nodes receive their catalog. This is really useful pattern wherein systems pull their configuration state almost immediately after boot. It requires manual setup only while writing kickstart/VM-iamge profile and Puppet master configuration.

Ansible's SSH keys setup requires manual intervention, however, I think it can be automated using pre-defined keys in kickstart/VM-images. Haven't tried it yet though...

misiti3780 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I use fabric for everything just because I dont have time to learn another one of these technologies. This salt article seems great - but at the end of the day (and I may be way off base here) all I want to do is install a given version of a piece of software on my server. I dont want to create a receipt (chef), or learn another configuration format (sounds like I would need to do this with Salt stack), etc. My fabric file really seems to do only three things: use pip to install shit that is python (I use Django), use apt-get to install anything that is ubuntu specific, and make wget calls to various pieces of software, pull them down, and build them from source. Until there is an easy way for me to do this without needing to learn yet another technology, I will continue to use fabric (or, until the job of doing this gets so big I can hire a dev ops guy that actually already knows, but I am not there yet :) ). Sorry for the rant, it's just every time I see these articles I wish I had time to learn the technology but then I realize I don't.

So - is it just me or is there seem to be a big/huge learning curve for all of these dev ops technologies?

dysinger 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Puppet is mature and has tons of cookbooks & community. You may not like it but saying it "sucks" is not right. It works and is used tons.

Chef doesn't run over SSH in any environment I've used that wasn't a toy (vagrant w/ chef-solo). Please fact check.

Fanboy article.

WickyNilliams 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Is there a comparable tool for Windows?

Powershell works great for executing commands on arbitrary servers (which sounds like the basis of Salt), but it'd be great to declaratively say "I want the server in this state" like the config management side of salt. I assume there is a tool built atop of Powershell like this somewhere?

cowmix 19 hours ago 1 reply      
For years I have been trying to spread the gosspel of bcfg2 because, while not perfect, I thought was a more complete system over Puppet or Chef. Bcfg2, however has some big warts of its own AND it never really caught on.

In the past few months I've been slowing converting to SaltStack and it really is everything I ever dreamed of for a CM system. Fast, easy, real-time. Lovin' it.

3am 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If someone can't get over the Ansible startup costs, then they have no business managing a system... I can't speak for Salt (last time I tried to use it was in 2010, and it was atrocious then and I haven't gone back).
dmourati 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems most people miss the fact that any sufficiently large system is going to require both a pull-based and a push-based solution.

So, take ansible.Primary use: push. But has ansible-pull.

Look at puppet.

Primary use: pull. But has mcollective.

IMO, and I am not there yet but soon to be. The gold standard is to combine two strong players that specialize one each in push/pull. For me, it is looking like ansible/puppet.

knowshan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to see tools that work as a system configuration framework and also allow command execution.

[ControlTier](http://www.controltier.org/) had (don't think it's actively developed now) options to execute general system commands, configure systems and application deployment. But it was fairly complex and required [ant](http://ant.apache.org/) skills.

1gor 18 hours ago 1 reply      
https://github.com/seattlerb/rake-remote_task is all you need if you use ruby.

  require 'rake/remote_task'  set :domain, 'abc.example.com'  remote_task :foo do    run "ls"  end

ishbits 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've recently been thinking I need to learn Chef or Puppet. This thread has convinced me to pick up and try Ansible first.
tetsusoh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
emm, Private chef also use zeromq to implement the pub job feature.

Puppet has MCollective (with ActiveMQ) to implement the similar feature.

v0land 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I use SaltStack for managing a render farm consisting of 73 Ubuntu nodes. My requirements are rather simple, really: most states just install some packages, put configuration files into place (sometimes using a template) and enable/start services. However, I can't recall a single problem when setting everything up. SaltStack is clean, simple, and just works.
tegansnyder 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I use Salt to run commands across our EC2 environment to do things like restart Varnish, clear logs, and run updates. Paired with Unison for file synchronization it works well when your auto-scaling kicks in and you need your new AMI to be synched from staging.
dmohjoryder 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What I prefer about ansible above all others, besides its simplicity, is that its use case scales up and out. By that I mean ansible can be used for platform/app stack provisioning while OS/infra sys admins maybe another tool. To often an agent based approach causes a conflict with OS sys admins and platform/app team regarding ownership/sharing. I want to offer self service as much as possible.Further, most cfg mgmt tools are monolithic in that they want to manage all servers as tho a single team/overload manages them all, rather than various independent sys admin teams. With various independent teams its just too much hassle trying to share roles appropriately or setup separate master/agents. Ansible does not have these issues.
moe 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Dead-end. Use ansible.
gunmetal 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Salt is missing templates, the ability to use higher level programming language and all the environment/roles that I find the most powerful part of Chef.
Advice for ambitious 19 year olds samaltman.com
152 points by kirillzubovsky  15 hours ago   140 comments top 30
pg 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Sam was just telling me how much he regretted looking at this thread.

"Oh, you should never read Hacker News comments about anything you write," I told him.

Whereupon it immediately struck me how strange and sad it was to be saying this, as the person who started HN.

Seriously, some of the comments on this thread are HN at its very worst: bitter, willful misinterpretations of what Sam is saying.

kayoone 15 hours ago 10 replies      
"Incidentally, dont let salary be a factor. I just watched someone turn down one of these breakout companies because Microsoft offered him $30k per year more in salarythat was a terrible decision. He will not build interesting things and may not work with smart people."

That quote drips so much of elitism its disgusting. MS still has many brilliant engineers and is building alot of really complex stuff, probably more than your average startup ever will. This is the kind of talk i find really off putting about the whole startup-scene...

jmduke 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah yes, eschew Microsoft, the company that has literally thousands of employees devoted purely to research (a number of whom have won Turing awards) to work for a startup which is more likely than not to be in the business of producing a Rails CRUD app. After all, you need to be surrounded by (people who call themselves) hackers.

My advice for ambitious 19 year olds: ask your parents for advice, because they likely know you better than anyone on the internet. (I say this as someone two years your senior)

jonnathanson 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's often dismissed as cheesy, but it's the most important career advice there is: find your passion. Ninety nine people out of 100 never have a great answer to the question, "Where do you want to be in 10 years?" Instead, they treat their careers in ad hoc fashion, hopping opportunistically from job to job.

The best way to succeed is to have a very clear answer to that cheesy question. Such a clear answer that you're almost burned by its intensity. Such a clear answer that it guides your every move. This clarity of vision will allow you to weather temporary failures and setbacks, and it'll provide you a roadmap for the climb up the mountain.

This is what separates the brilliant-and-hard-working from the brilliant-and-hard-working-and-uber-successful. The world is full of brilliant, hard working people who never get a "lucky break." The secret is that the "lucky break" is often the result of many years of directed effort. So keep that in mind as you go along. If you want to achieve tremendous success in any field, there's a buildup period of at least 5 years, and often more than a decade. It really pays to pick your path early, and to stick to it.

Obviously, some folks have taken more circuitous paths to success, and that's totally cool. But ask most of the majorly successful people in any profession what got them there, and they will tell you they focused relentlessly on it. Ambition isn't enough; ambition needs direction.

Find the ladder you want to climb, and start climbing it -- because most ladders are pretty damned tall, and hopping between them gets tougher the older you get.

I say this having learned it the hard way. I traded what I want to do for what I "should" do for many years, and now I'm trying to catch back up to my vision. I still have time, but I wish I'd been honest with myself at 19.

avolcano 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm 19, and just started as a software engineer at a startup in NYC. It's been absolutely incredible - I never thought I'd be here a year ago.

I'll admit that my situation isn't universal - luckily, I could get my foot in the door with many startups by being in the last batch of Hacker School - but if you, like me, hate academia and want to get to work, don't let your age stop you. Sure, there's companies that care about your schooling - the Googles, Twitters, Facebooks, and Palantirs of the world - but there are so many more that just want great hackers with awesome GitHub profiles and real-world chops.

(and, of course, make sure to never stop learning on your own time! You will, inevitably, have gaps in your knowledge you missed from school, but between Coursera, the availability of free textbooks and lectures, and other resources, it's not hard to remedy that on your own)

sama 10 hours ago 2 replies      
ok, last comment on this.

this was meant to be more about how to have the biggest impact with your life than how to make a little more money. and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone--hence the title. many people will me much happier not following it.

on the money side, there is nothing wrong with taking a job that pays you $30k more. most people ramp up their spending and don't save that ~$20k (post-tax) extra, but if you do, more power to you. that $30k will never in your lifetime compound to $100MM, but if that's not what you're shooting for, that's obviously fine. it's certainly a much less risky path.

codegeek 14 hours ago 0 replies      
My suggestion to 19 year olds. Be careful with this blog post.

"working at an already-massively-successful company means you will learn much less, and probably work with less impressive people."

Seriously? Yes big companies have lots of bureaucratic crap and things take longer blah blah. However, you do not want to be giving this advice to an "ambitious" 19 year old. Big companies have a lot of smart and impressive people. Lots. They also can teach you a thing or 2 about the "real world".

"Incidentally, dont let salary be a factor. I just watched someone turn down one of these breakout companies because Microsoft offered him $30k per year more in salarythat was a terrible decision."

Let me provide the other side of this. You are giving up $30K in salary today as a 19 year old. Now, lets imagine that you need to get a job soon again since that "awesome breakout" company actually failed, what do you think is going to happen ? Yes, you will not be able to negotiate as high a salary as you could have if you had that extra $30K. It is not just about $30K. It is about having the power to negotiate next time if you move which you probably will as a 19 year old.

cperciva 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Im an ambitious 19 year old, what should I do?

This is an interesting question, in my experience: The sets of "most ambitious people I know" and "people who describe themselves as ambitious" seem to be entirely disjoint. The most ambitious people I know just go out and do things, rather than sitting around thinking (and talking) about how ambitious they are.

This may be a cultural thing -- self-describing as "ambitious" is the sort of thing which I find tends to happen thanks to high school career preparation programs (along with "organized", "reliable", and "good with people"), and it's entirely possible that those school programs are subtly different in the US than in Canada. However, I can't shake the feeling that there's a kernel of truth here.

susi22 14 hours ago 3 replies      
This is awful advice. I'm sorry but when you're 19 you should go out into the _world_ (not the US) and discover it. Go book a cheap flight to South America and go backpacking for a few months. Live on $300 a month, meet interesting people. Techies, nerds and entrepreneurs aren't _that_ interesting.

But sure, if all that you care about is success and you happen to define success like most other Americans (i.e. by making the most money) then go ahead and work as hard as you can and make that million. But please don't complain about your burnout when you're 30-40.

There is way more than money and work in this live. Don't work too hard especially when you're young. If you waste a year or two, nothing will run away and your opportunities will still be there when you're 25.

gregpilling 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was once an ambitious 20 year old (1990). I found that I had an overpowering urge to do something, and the only part that held me back was that the old people didn't wan't me to. So I wore them out until I could. I certainly didn't ask for advice - all the unsolicited advice I was given told me I was on the wrong path.

So I got a franchise at 20, then ran it as best I could, made a some money and won some awards. If I was 20 today I would probably make some sort of SaaS product. I certainly wouldn't be asking Im an ambitious 19 year old, what should I do?

Of course, some people don't have an overpowering urge to do anything. So maybe these are the people who ask that question. I once employed a mechanical engineer like that - at 30 he had no ambitions, no dreams. He didn't last long at my company because he also lacked skill and was slow.

I am 43 now, and the urge is subdued but still there. I think if you have a drive in you to make something, then you should go make it. Don't ask for permission and certainly don't wait for permission. Just go do it. When you fail, if you fail, pick yourself up and try again. You only really fail when you stop trying.

My advice for ambitious 19 year olds? Just go do what drives you. If nothing drives you, find someone who is driven and help them.

dotBen 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are not a US Citizen and think your career might take you here/want to come here to the US, then you should do college.

Not having even a crappy and unnecessary degree from a crappy university made my ability to work in the US very very difficult, and all future immigration reform for high-skilled workers still orientates around STEM qualifications.

minimaxir 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Incidentally, dont let salary be a factor. I just watched someone turn down one of these breakout companies because Microsoft offered him $30k per year more in salarythat was a terrible decision. He will not build interesting things and may not work with smart people.

This article is making the implication that big corporations and job security are bad; go risk your life for an endeavor with a less-than-5% of success!

peter_l_downs 15 hours ago 1 reply      

    > No matter what you choose, build stuff and be around smart people.
I'm 19, and this rings true for me. I put off my admission to MIT to take a "gap year" and work at a tech startup in SF. The most interesting and enjoyable moments have come from building with and learning from my co-workers, all of whom are brilliant. Other young people reading this: I've found taking a gap year to be a good hedge between "I want to start my own company", "I want to go to university", and "I want to work in the real world and see what that's like."

jenius 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think easily identifying companies that will "almost certainly be successful" is within the capabilities of any normal human being. Even the absolute best people at identifying successful companies get more wrong than they get right (the right ones just pay well enough to cover the wrongs).

Even if it was only that statement I took issue with, that would be enough to make me say that this is not actually good advice for a 19-year-old. Be realistic when giving advice...

eshvk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I see two types of assumptions (in the comments):

1. MSR does cool research projects, any one joins has a chance of working on those. A large percentage of the people who work there are research PhDs. Similarly working at Google doesn't necessarily mean you get closer to flying balloons or whatever.

2. Money is bad, learning/glory is good. Simplistic. Spouted by people who can't pay you well. My response: I am curious, I will learn anywhere. Fuck You, Pay Me.

throwaway10001 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I just watched someone turn down one of these breakout companies because Microsoft offered him $30k per year more in salarythat was a terrible decision. He will not build interesting things and may not work with smart people.

Interesting things....like making people click on ads? Microsoft products are used by billions of people worldwide and by virtually every Fortune () company. And then we have Microsoft Research, love or hate Microsoft as company all you want but Microsoft Research is top notch. Quite a few smart people there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Research. Maybe not as smart as Sam Altman (the OP) but smart nonetheless.

cosmc 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of this feels like bad advice. Like playing penny stocks rather than index funds. I am 18, and saying that my most productive years are from 20-25 seems shortsighted and arrogant. The startup community, although cool and interesting, seems like a gold rush situation to me.

That's why I plan to get my CS degree, and get a stable job, such as one at MS (which the author seems to look down upon). I could see joining/starting a startup, if the opportunity popped up, but seeking a risky situation irks me.Maybe I am just risk adverse?

tekacs 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Heads-up in counterpoint to the second footnote:

I was most definitely considering academia at 19 (I was near dead-set on it).

Then I got to university and got a good look at academics, doctoral students and the environment for myself - I'm no longer so sure that it's something I want to do, at least for now. :)

beat 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I just hired a talented, ambitious 18 year old graphic designer as my first employee. I've known her for several years as a close friend of my daughter (me, I'm old enough to have 19 year old children), and I thought of her because I felt she has what it takes to be not just a good graphic designer, but a good startup employee. And with her freshly out of school and in no financial position to go to college, she sees the opportunity.

Even if the startup fails, she can probably eke a couple of years of professional experience and a reference out of the deal - enough to get her on the path to a nice career. And if the startup succeeds, she has the career and could make enough in options to pay for art school.

Because she's smart and ambitious, she sees the logic of the situation. I have no doubt I'll get great work from her.

arizzitano 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"working at an already-massively-successful company means you will learn much less, and probably work with less impressive people."

Not true. I learned more in my first month at a "big company" than in the two years I spent in the startup world. I started out working for startups, and while it was fun at first, it was a big mistake. My development skills ended up stunted and patchy from churning out MVP after MVP. I never learned how to maintain or scale an application, since most of the time I was just pounding code as fast as I could, hoping to score more funding. Since most of my coworkers were also young and inexperienced, I learned little of value and picked up a lot of bad habits. Maybe I just wasn't enough of a "smart young person" to pick ideal companies, but really, who is?

That's just my personal experience, but my point is that startups don't necessarily equal prime education. If you really want to learn and grow, find a team of disciplined people who understand and enjoy their work. Maybe it's a startup, maybe it's MSFT -- the size of a company doesn't necessarily dictate its viability as a learning experience.

aphelion 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The thing about risk-seeking ambitious 19 year olds is that they have absolutely no real idea what risk is, or what their real ambitions for their life will be.
sbuccini 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I faced this dilemna last year. I chose college, and it was t he best decision of my life. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, I could learn how to code by sheer willpower and practice. But the people I've met and the things I have learned, not just academic lessons but lessons about life as well, have already made the experience worth it.

My advice to people in my situation is to really, really think about your decision. It's sexy to drop out these days, but it's not always the right thing to do

6d0debc071 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> Starting a company that youre in love with is the right kind of risk.

Questionable. I know someone who started a company around half a decade ago, is now out of business with nothing really to fall back on and can't collect contribution related unemployment benefits because they weren't paying N1 national insurance contributions.

Yay companies! May be a big thing, but some people really should not be starting companies.

> If you fail at an idea that you really loved and could have been great, youre unlikely to regret it, and people will not hold it against you.

Depends on local culture a lot. Notably in Europe, IME, it's much more likely to be held against you.


I do agree with the general tone of the piece though: That if you want to do something great you'll have to take on some measure of risk. IMO the time to take these risks is when you have a strong fall back position. What you don't want to do is get to 30, have got things wrong repeatedly, and not have a steady income or a home or anything really to your name. You've got to know what you're going to do if things go south.

PencilAndPaper 15 hours ago 0 replies      
>>However, getting nothing done for four of your most productive years is actually pretty risky.

This is how I feel about my post secondary education. I regret being herded into it and wasting all of those years parroting and memorizing so that I could learn "critical thinking"

jmgrosen 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone have any particular advice for an ambitious 14 year old with three years left of high school?
lettergram 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My intent is a mixture of both, I'm taking the safer route. Go to college, work on projects (in school and out), then i'm going to (hopefully) get paid at a corporation, get some experience. Then when I have a life settled when i'm 25-26 start a company, with a bit of financial backing, no student loans, it makes more sense than going out with no support and no experience (in my view).
QuantumGuy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I am 19 and I think this is terrible advice.I would love to work at Microsoft not just because of the pay but because of the people I would work with. Some of the greatest minds in the world call Microsoft their place of work. Mind you I am doing my own thing and not looking to get hired but still if presented the chance I would take it.
adriancooney 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I have this exact dilemma of whether to stay in college and build projects on the side or leave college and get a job at a start up or create my own. I'd love to be able to choose the latter but the one thing that's holding me back is that I'm in Ireland and it's not exactly Silicon Valley when it comes to the start-up scene. It's extremely frustrating because I have the talent and skills but companies feel it's too high of a risk to relocate and house an 19 year old undergraduate but it's understandable.
bliker 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I expected advice.

Now I am more indecisive than before.

michaelochurch 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Becoming employee number 50 at a company that still has a good chance of failure is the wrong kind of risk.

I agree. Actually, those VC darlings aren't likely to fail in the classic, pink-slips-for-all, sense because the VCs have already worked out an emergency acq-hire and a backup emergency acq-hire. They are, however, likely to fail you, which is worse. Now you have to explain a bad separation from a company that still exists and has pump-and-dump VCs and tech press (still in the "pump" phase, obviously) propping up its reputation.

If you join a company, my general advice is to join a company on a breakout trajectory. There are a usually a handful of these at a time, and they are usually identifiable to a smart young person.

Citation needed. I'm no longer very young (I'm 30) but I'm quite smart and still 0 for 2 when it comes to picking startups. Incidentally, I don't doubt that I'm better at judging companies than most engineers and VCs; I'm probably above 95th percentile in judgment of talent (judgment of character I could work on) but it's just really hard to forecast startups. Most people who think they can do it, can't. Most people who think they can't do it are right.

Also, most of us don't pick from the full space of companies, either. We pick opportunities that make sense in the context of our career stories (career coherency). For example, I'm reaching an age where non-senior/lead roles (except at top AI labs or hedge funds) don't really make sense anymore. If I'm not a strong match (enough to qualify for a senior role) it doesn't make sense for me to apply even if the company looks like a "rocket ship", because a junior role is not acceptable at my stage unless the people are known, world-class entities.

Pivot.js rjackson.github.io
11 points by fibo  3 hours ago   1 comment top
macmac 3 hours ago 0 replies      
PivotTable.js https://github.com/nicolaskruchten/pivottable looks cool too.
If you only hire in the Valley, you dont have the best talent pandodaily.com
97 points by rdl  12 hours ago   54 comments top 14
nostrademons 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I think most companies in the Valley would acknowledge this.

The thing is - most companies are not looking for the best talent, they're looking to build the best teams. And one of the things that helps a team to gel is having all the members co-located together. It would be wonderful if the physical presence barrier was broken and you could setup virtual presences that were as efficient as physical ones, but something intangible seems to be lost when you only interact over e-mail.

It works for GitHub because it makes the company a very incentivized user of their own product - they're developing for precisely the sort of organization that is their market, and so they understand their market better than if they acted like a normal start-up. But if they were playing in a fast-moving consumer market or trying to capitalize on a recent platform or innovation, they'd get eaten alive.

cliftonmckinney 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Wrote a relevant blog post about this issue not too long ago. The article states the obvious of course. Talent isn't evenly distributed, but it is distributed. What's most compelling for perhaps Valley and New York companies only, is the wide disparity with regard to compensation:

Two Silicon Valley startups raise $1M and they each have need for a great team. Team One is on site. They spend a lot of otherwise productive time attempting to hire great engineering talent away from other equally impressive startups in the area. They pay $150k per person (let's call it $200k fully loaded) for talented, but not phenomenal people. Team Two is fully distributed. They decide to hire the best, no matter where they are, and at $150k per person everyone outside of Silicon Valley gives them a look with much less effort on their part. They save time, they save on office space in SV, and, best of all, they build a team of truly phenomenal folks who are happy to be making $150k, because it's likely $50k higher than they were making at whatever job they had before they got recruited.

Assuming you can build a better team in the Valley is only relevant if you have a reasonable expectation that you'll find similarly talented folks at the same price no matter where you are. That is simply not the case.

More on the blog: http://blog.workforpie.com/2013/06/04/the-case-for-remote-wo...

enduser 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I am the sort of experienced full-stack hacker many Valley companies would love to have on their team. However, I like smaller cities, commuting exclusively by bicycle, having an enormous garden, eating locally grown food, easy access to amazing outdoor adventures, and mild winters. You'll probably never find me in the Valley or in the Boston or New York area. The bay area is too populous and northeast winters are terrible.

No amount of money can change those things. Quality of life is worth more to me than high salaries.

I do, however, like interesting work and brilliant coworkers. I mostly work with local businesses that are doing interesting non-high-tech stuff, like mass-custom lean manufacturing, but it would be great to have more options for working with people who know programming at least as well as I do.

Working locally with people does seem to beat the isolation of remote work, however. It probably makes sense for a company focused on collaboration tools to have a team that relies on collaboration tools to function.

apinstein 8 hours ago 1 reply      
GitHub is a pretty amazing company and story. Their culture, the tools, etc are all very inspiring, and the whole community definitely benefits from their experiments. This meme always gets me thinking about how to attract the best talent for our company.

That said, holding them up as a model of how to build a tech team never quite feels like a good idea.

GitHub is a developer product, built for developers by developers. That essentially makes all of their employees domain experts in the product as well. They can also robustly dog-food their product. Both of those factors in my opinion make it much easier to have a successful distributed team. They can trust everyone to make good decisions absent a strong product team.

I've worked at 5-6 different startups with varying levels of distributed teams and never felt that distributed communication of product, architecture, etc was ever as productive as with the co-located teams. Trying to involve the remote people always felt like "extra work" and it wasn't a smooth process.

I would be very curious to hear from non-developer product companies about their successes (or failures) with remote teams. Are new tools like Google hangouts, shared whiteboards, and github really enough to allow you to have a productive product/engineering team?

SeoxyS 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is somewhat off topic; but I have to say I am quite disappointed by the way in which PandoDaily puts out its events.

I was quite looking forward to seeing Tom talk; so I got my first PandoMonthly tickets. The event started at 6, with the talk scheduled to start at 7. I only really cared about Tom, not so much networking, so I showed up at 7. Made it there by 7:01, only to be greeted by a bouncer that told us that they had just closed the doors. They were instructed by PandoDaily not to let anybody in after 7. When we mentioned that we had paid for tickets; we were told "too bad."

PandoMonthly, from this experience alone, is already the worst event I have ever seen put on. Way to tell your customers "fuck you."

drawkbox 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Love this. Talent is all over the world. This is also why companies of the old style, non virtual offices, have multiple offices in some aspects.

New, distributed companies, such as github, 37 signals, small game companies etc, they will always have the best employees and even if an employee moves they are still actively on the team. For some industries like games, it might be the only way to gather all the people and skills needed as especially with games it is hard to find people in the same area with required skills.

Virtual teams lead to much less disruptive change to a team which leads to stronger teams. But like it is stated, all important communications need to be virtual and through that channel first, it will fail otherwise and some can't do it. The world is big, cities are big, why destroy competitive success because it is to hard to coordinate? Traffic, moving, costs (living/goods/travel) are all better suited for easy access and ultimately company survival with virtual teams.

The absolute best thing about virtual teams is it is all about delivery and getting things done. Minimizing BS, time wasted and shipping product.

Virtual teams can come together for integrations, planning, celebrations and be as strong or stronger as physical logistical teams. It doesn't work for all industries but in technology/creative it can truly free up people to focus on work. How many offices have you worked at that after a while actual productive work hours go down to 3-4 due to all the excess stuff, then you have to work at night or after hours just to keep up with all the wasted time at the office and travel and general life that pops up. Virtual team are delivery first and that is the right way to be productive.

chaz 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like developer-heavy organizations would be more successful at this. A major factor is the tools facilitate a lot of the communication (commit messages, bug tracking, build notifications, documentation, etc.). They're also comfortable using tools and generally adapt quickly to new platforms. And in my own personal experience, it worked with their personalities.

I'd like to hear more examples of this working successfully at scale in highly-cross functional teams, with distributed marketing, sales, design, support, and product groups. Communication always seems to be a complaint at companies, and I'd like to hear more about how this was addressed.

michaelochurch 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Devil's Advocate here.

Most Silicon Valley startups don't need top talent. They're marketing experiments with a small bit of technology and a lot of painful support work (due to massive, accumulating technical debt) that can only be done out of VC-istan dues-paying as young people take on pager duty for the job they think will get them investor connections in 6 months so they can do their own gigs (ha!)

They need some flashy talent (young, clueless Ivy/Stanford grads) so they can tell investors that they bought a bunch of Ivy stock on the cheap. They don't need top talent.

On the other hand, hungry talent (in a world where most people will never buy a house) and prestige-seeking talent and clueless/young talent are useful to them, especially if it congeals in one metropolitan area (such as Silicon Valley).

The Valley's more than good enough for most of these firms. They complain about the "talent shortage". There isn't one. They're just complaining about paying more for talent than they think it should cost, and "what they think it should cost" is Dickensian.

Of course, there are companies out there (if few) that demand extremely high levels of talent, but at that rarefied level, you're either (a) going to be small enough that you can do it within one location, or (b) going to ignore location outright, as OP suggests.

ilaksh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that the chat room seems obvious but it is not to a lot of older managers and it is very important.

I have worked with some (generally older) developers who just didn't have online communications skills and even refused to use a shared chat room. They might be seemingly able to exchange a few emails or IMs, but then the next week they would be busy, stop using emails/IMs, but the day you go into the office or call them suddenly the communication increases 10-fold. Or they did it but didn't know how to use it. I.E. they would spread the chat out into many many rooms and fill them with irrelevant design speculation and idle chat.

dotBen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Post ends with "While talent may be distributed everywhere, that kind of serendipity is the most concentrated in Silicon Valley."


oxtopus 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the title of this is a bit misleading. The message is much less about "the valley" and more about building a culture around geographically distributed collaboration.
bdcravens 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Irony is that this is coming from a San Francisco based, VC-backed media site, of which most of their writers (kinda assuming this based on their staff list) are located in SV.
kasey_junk 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Not that I disagree with the sentiment or to rag on GitHub or their management (I think they have a nice product). But this article is simply quoting the CEO of a small company that has been around for very little time. Is the Valley so insular that they think this is truly a management success or is this just a terrible article?
zura 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The goal is to get shit done, not necessary with the best talent.
My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89 thetrichordist.com
233 points by uladzislau  14 hours ago   218 comments top 54
cletus 13 hours ago 16 replies      
Man I'm sick of hearing this particular complaint.

Let's look at the numbers. 1M plays for ~$42. Sounds like not much right? Wrong.

Yes AM/RM Radio paid ~$1500 but for 20,000 plays. Now ask yourself this question: how many people heard those 20,000 plays? If the rate of pay was the same ($42/1M) it would have to be 35.7M listens. Well, at 20,000 radio plays that averages 1800 people per listen. Is the likely audience higher or lower than this number? It's bound to be higher. So streaming services are in fact paying more (per listen per listener).

See http://davidtouve.com/2011/12/13/uk-radio-versus-spotify-a-c...

paulsutter 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Pandora and Spotify can do a lot more for bands by helping them plan tours, sell tickets to shows, and connect with fans. They could also help venues book and promote acts with known local followings.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who heard that song, like that type of music, and would consider attending a show and spending real money to get in. They might buy a tshirt too. Pandora could notify listeners when the shows come up, and help bands plan their tours to towns with more fans.

It could be real revenue for the bands, and for Pandora.

EDIT: Doesn't even mean a UI change, could be done with ad retargeting, or any performance marketing mechanism.

dvt 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't mean to sound contentious.. but, uh, why is OP surprised? Music access quickly becoming a commodity. Pandora/Spotify do for music what Netflix did for movies. I mean, even Southpark did a show on this (viz. Blockbuster).

I'd say that the fact that the FM station paid OP 100x more than Pandora shows how hugely the FM/AM business models have failed and how for granted so many artists took being massively rich. Guess what, there are tons of talented people out there. Software is free, and everyone can compete. I'd say that's healthy. We're no longer stuck in the dark ages of information discovery (back when if something wasn't on the radio or on TV, no one had heard of it).

Also, ngoel36 said: "If your song stream convinced nobody to buy your song on iTunes or buy a ticket to your concerts, then you have bigger problems than Pandora."

This times a million. So your music is apparently awesome but you can't sell t-shirts or concert tickets (concerts are, after all, where the the real money is made).

"Why doesnt Pandora get off the couch and get an actual business model instead of asking for a handout from congress and artists?"

I mean, this is just laughable, given how heavily the media industry is subsidized. Case in point: http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2013/05/07/the-government-is-no...

soupboy 13 hours ago 4 replies      
For this to be a fair comparison shouldn't they compare the 1 million Pandora streams to (18797 radio plays * number of listeners each time)?
ChuckMcM 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, that is so sad. One million plays is pretty crappy. Consider that there are 70M active subscribers [1] that means 1 in 7 of them may have listened to your song exactly once. And for the low price of $16.49 a million people have heard your song, where as before nobody had heard it.

Now go look at your iTunes sales, how many copies of that song have you sold? 10? 100? 1000? How many of those sales occurred because people heard your song on Pandora, who won't play specific songs on command, and so they wanted to hear it again on their time?

Back in the bad old payola days you would have paid much more than that just to have your song even on the freakin' radio. Because that was the cost of letting other people hear your music and come to the conclusion they wanted to buy it.

[1] http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/05/pandora-reports-70m-a...

abtinf 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Lets assume each AM/FM broadcast went out to 10,000 people. If we do the math, we find that it is equal to the rate of $7 per million plays:

$1373.78 / (18797 * 10000) * 1000000 = $7.31

Now lets do the math for Pandora:

$ 16.89 / 1159000 * 1 000 000 = $14.57

So this writer is ACTUALLY COMPLAINING that Pandora merely pays DOUBLE the royalty rate of terrestrial radio.

roc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> "Heres an idea! Play two minutes of commercials and double your revenue!"

If they could actually sell two minutes of commercials, I'm pretty sure they would.

Expecting them to match the rates paid by massive existing media companies is essentially wishing the startups who finally got traction in this niche, back out of the picture and the entire market back to the business models and rate of technological progress that those massive existing players deem sufficiently non-threatening to their broadcast businesses.

I have sympathy for the author. I really do. But the problem ought not be simplified down to "Pandora should pay what Sirius pays".

(Though it makes me wonder what rates the larger tech companies are paying, now that they're making similar offerings.)

dylangs1030 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't mean to be heartless, but this makes sense to me.

By design, people aren't supposed to ean real revenue from their music on Pandora. It's more about exposure, isn't it?

I mean, the supply and demand of it doesn't work out in the artists' favor, only in Pandora's. No one can find your song or you specifically, so why would you have an opportunity to earn a lot of money? There's no demand for you or your work, just work in a certain genre that you might fulfill for a few minutes.

Again, I don't mean to be harsh, but it seems like it makes sense in Pandora's case. I think it would be more reasonable to expect some benefits to exposure and fame than expect revenue. Users aren't exactly incentivized to click that (admittedly tiny) buy button under the song.

sitharus 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always viewed Pandora, Spotify and services like that as discovery services. They let me hear the music before parting with a more money. If I find an artist that I really like I'll buy their album or some merchandise.

Given the breadth of music I get from Pandora there's no way I'd be able to afford every album of every artist I listen to on the off chance I might like them.

Also you need to remember that a lot of people won't have the disposable income to buy albums, tshirts or subscribe to satellite radio, so that money from Pandora isn't going to be replaced.

Yes it's not much, but there's more to it than that number alone.

ngoel36 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If your song stream convinced nobody to buy your song on iTunes or buy a ticket to your concerts, then you have bigger problems than Pandora.
toomuchtodo 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Music doesn't have the value it once did. End of story. Why are we dwelling on this? There isn't going to be a magic way to increase the value of music.
msg 13 hours ago 2 replies      
FYI people, the author is David Lowery, lead singer/songwriter of Cracker. The song is "Low".

I like the song and you probably did too, if you ever heard it. It was used in The Perks of Being a Wallflower last year.

It does strike me that many people may be under 20 and this song might actually be older than they are. So I will assume the ignorance is genuine rather than flippant.


jonknee 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It's almost like he doesn't realize Pandora is paying him much much per listener than radio is. So much so that Pandora loses money anytime someone listens to a song. That's not enough though, run even more ads, pay even more than the already higher fees.
yardie 13 hours ago 2 replies      
And yet I'm the idiot amongst my peers because I actually buy albums. God forbid I do something as stupid as support my artists.
aqme28 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Shameless plug:

I've been working on http://busker.fm. It aims to be the fair way to stream music. We not only give artists 100% of album-sales, we encourage album-sales by incorporating discovery, streaming, and the purchase itself.

greenyoda 12 hours ago 2 replies      
"For you civilians webcasting rates are compulsory rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not opt out of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesnt pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courtsa single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a compulsory but may as well be)."

This bothers me. Why should the government regulate payments for music? Why shouldn't a musician have the option of licensing his music to radio stations but not to Pandora? We in the U.S. claim to have a system based on free enterprise, but this is very far away from that.

weisser 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem here isn't the low payout, it's the inability for bands like Cracker to "opt out" of having their music on the service.
ryangripp 13 hours ago 0 replies      
+SiriusXM plays "commercials" on channels where clearchannel has an interest (KISS, etc.) Clear channel was an early investor in XM to insulate them from the threat of satellite radio vs FM networks (which they own a large share of)

+Streaming networks like Pandora and Spotify actually pay more per stream then SiriusXM does because satellite radio pays the Terrestrial (FM/AM) radio rates.

+The Math on this is confusing because a Terrestrial (FM/AM) station might pay $50 royalty to play a song but 200,000 people listened to it when it was broadcast.

drcube 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I have loved Cracker since I was a kid, and recently became a big fan of Camper Van Beethoven. So I say this with utmost respect:

Why should David Lowery get paid now for work he did 20-30 years ago? Most of us are lucky to get paid for work we did in the past month, and after that we'll never get paid for that particular bit of work ever again. Imagine if I still got paid, even just a few bucks a month, for all those burgers I flipped back in the 90s? Regular people have to keep working for their paychecks.

In that light it sounds a lot different to complain that work we did 20 years ago doesn't provide the steady income we once thought it would. Times change, and if you want to get paid don't rest on your laurels, keep making stuff people want.

abalone 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not apples-to-apples. The Sirius XM and radio play counts are per broadcast. Pandoras are per listener.

Let's look at Sirius. Sirius has ~20M subscribers. He got paid $181.94 for 179 broadcasts, or $1.02 each. Well, he's only making more per listen if it reaches less than 0.3% of those subscribers (60K). Otherwise the Pandora model actually pays him more.

Pandora: $16.89 / 1M listens = 0.0017 cents

Sirius XM: $1.02 per broadcast / 60K listens = 0.0017 cents

If you get more listeners on Sirius, that per-listen payout goes down. With the Pandora model it scales proportionately.

He just has to keep in mind that Pandora is much smaller than radio right now and that's why the absolute payout is small. It's confusing for musicians when they see big numbers like One Million I guess. ;-)

lifeformed 13 hours ago 1 reply      
These numbers are weird, I had a completely different experience. I have 440,000 plays on Spotify of songs from my album, and I've made $2420 off of that.
free652 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So let's say XM radio have 3,000,000 listeners (24 mil total subscribers) So 179 x 3 millions = 537 millions and that's $181.94

Now Pandora played the song 1,159,000 and that's 16.89.

Wow... So Pandora actually PAYS A LOT MORE. It would have paid you 3 cents if you use xm radio rates.

edit: well my numbers are off, since there are many channels on xm. XM pays about the same as Pandora. I can't really get numbers how many listeners per a XM channel.

But even if I take I reduce the listeners 100 times (30,000 listeners per channel), still Pandora pays 5x times more.

aphelion 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Dean Baker proposed "Artistic Freedom Vouchers" as a way to supplant copyright. The basic idea is that every taxpayer would get a refundable tax credit of 75-100 dollars which could be "spent" by buying creative works from anyone who registered to be a recipient. It would be a very low bar to clear, just enough to weed out the obvious scams. Anyone who received AFV money would be barred from placing their works under copyright for the next five years.

It the context of our current IP law paradigm, I will admit it seems radical. Given how wasteful and repressive our current IP laws are, that seems like it would be a good thing.

fredsanford 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Let me start off by saying... I play the guitar and have played in bands that did bars, parties and other affairs for money. I have not written any songs anyone would be willing to pay for, but, I have worked with folks that still get royalties from things they did in the '60s and '70s.

One gentleman, who had what I'm now hearing is a garage rock hit was getting ~$1500 a month royalties in the '80s from a song I'd bet most of you never heard.

What repulses me about Pandora and the like is that you cannot opt out. If something is my work product, I should be able to price it as I see fit and let the market decide if I'm an idiot or not.

Here's a youtube of my friends band from ~1965. Miss you Johnny...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPr4tmJBIVM

How many of you would be sick of this subject if it were basically robbing you of the ability to make a living?

kreek 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no problem with Pandora's payout they are radio without direct access to tunes. I have couple of tracks on Spotify, and although I wish they did pay me more, I don't think they're too far off either. Spotify pay me about $0.004/play.

I also have a premium Spotify account @ $9.99/month. Now I probably listen to more music than most people, as I assume other premium subscribers do. Doing a back of the napkin calculation I listen to an average of 30 songs per day, so maybe 900 plays a month so you could say Spotify charge me $0.01/play. 40% payout isn't bad, maybe it should be 50% or 75%, who knows what Spotify's infrastructure costs them. Either way in the old days (> ten years ago) artists were getting no where near 40%.

I've only bought two albums this year, Boards of Canada and Flying Lotus, they were both not immediately on Spotify. This is probably the best course. Release on MP3, CD, Vinyl, for the first couple of months for the hardcore fans then release to the streamers.

The OP probably has his record label still taking a huge chunk of his payout. Cut out the middle man, self publish. Streaming is only going to grow, streaming profit will eventually go up.

Self-plug! @spotify http://open.spotify.com/album/2ASb9HnDamAwrsJQ9gKtqp@soundcloudhttps://soundcloud.com/kreek

psgibbs 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What this is missing is the amount of listeners each play counts for. On Pandora/Spotify/Youtube, a 'play' is typically one listener. For these, it's mainly worth noting that Spotify is about an order of magnitude more profitable per play ($1e-4 vs $1e-5).

Sirius is at ~$1/play, commercial radio is $0.07/play.

For Sirius XM, the breakeven number of listeners/play for the pricing structure to be comparable to Pandora is 70K. For Commercial Radio, the breakeven number of listeners/play is 5,000.

*edit: added the price/play numbers

dllthomas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You want the government to butt out? Sure, let's get the government to butt out: http://questioncopyright.org
brownbat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The returns to your chosen profession will have some relationship with how many other people want to offer that service. Some people break their backs picking up smelly trash on hot summer days, don't have high school diplomas, but manage to get by. Some people bust their ass learning arcane branches of engineering or medicine and can do pretty well.

You chose to spend a life making music. I love music so much I'd almost do that for gas money and staying on people's couches. Almost. I know a lot of guys who would and do.

So I'm sorry you're not rich. But not that sorry.

jared314 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is that the amount paid by Pandora, or the amount paid to the artist? I thought there was a lot of middle men taking percentage cuts in between Pandora and the artist.


marze 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Say you buy a song on a CD or online. Spend $1 or so. Listen 5 times, that is $0.20 per. Listen 50 times, it is $0.02 per play.

Pandora pay $0.000017 per play, and is lobbying to pay less. Given how much less the current fee is compared to buying a track, if anything, I'd be in favor of an increase. Why shouldn't musicians make a bit more money for their effort, something more in line with purchased music?

zachgersh 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Pandora / Spotify are never going to be platforms that make musicians a living (I am happy this article is representing that fact to the rest of the public).

Performing Live / Selling Merchandise and doing other physical appearances is the only way you will ever make any money and even great artists who tour still can't make enough money to keep producing their art (their following just isn't big enough).

logn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
No one forced the OP to submit his music to Pandora. You have to specifically sign up to a label or pay someone like TuneCore.

And software developers face the similar difficulties to musicians making money on their own, hence why we work for the Silicon Valley giants he's bashing.

Also, the OP is 'Cracker'. They're signed to a subsidiary of EMI. I wonder how much money his label took.

nitrogen 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to wonder if Pandora ever manipulates play counts. Mumford and Sons was one of Pandora's top paid artists. Though I like their music, could it be that they were being pushed into stations that were completely unrelated? Like my Dubstep station playing Little Lion Man repeatedly, even though it's not even close to the same genre?
badclient 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Does played mean someone listened to it in entirety? Otherwise it doesn't say much about the quality of your song. That is similar to claiming you have a million users without talking about engagement.
wheaties 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Quick question, how much did your label take as a cut?
robotcookies 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Pandora apparently pays 12 cents per 100 plays. At that rate, they are paying out $1200 for a song with a million plays. If the artist only gets about $16 (under 2%) out of that, where is the rest of that money going to?
emn13 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If you do the math, this just doesn't sounds that crazy. A streamed song on a radio just isn't worth that much, and there are many, many fingers in the pie here. Especially since he gets just 40% of the rights involved, and that's not the rights for the song ownership: this is just the cut for the songwriter - not the for the performers or the song owners.

I'm assuming he's getting the normal SoundExchange deal, but it's not 100% clear.

Sure, it's not very much, but what exactly was he expecting?

clarky07 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you don't like how much money Pandora pays you, stop letting them play your songs. As noted elsewhere in this thread, their rates per listen are very similar to traditional radio. When played on the radio, thousands hear it. When played on Pandora, 1 person hears it.
mdm_ 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The most shocking revelation to me in this article is that Sirius XM plays 13 minutes of commercials per hour! I could have sworn one of their big selling points was that they're commerical-free.
autarch 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm outraged that people get paid at all for this sort of thing. Why should an artist be paid repeatedly for doing one piece of work? That's madness. Artists should be paid to create art. Once it's done, why you should get paid over and over?
toddh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
An interesting comparison is if Google makes 35 cents a click (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2220372/How-Google-Rake...) then they would make $350K from the same million "impressions."
lucisferre 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the SouthPark "Internet Money" episode.
gesman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
We all can set the record straight: download the album and donate directly to the artist to support great talent.Say "no" to middleman.
IzzyMurad 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't get it. Many of you are saying "Pandora pays a ton more than a radio station".

The song was played 1 millon times and he got $16.89.

How many times the song should be played to make a significant amount then? A billion times?

tehwebguy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Comparing it to radio is interesting, but it seems like YouTube would be the best option. Even a super low $1.00 CPM 1m plays would make you $1,000.00
imchillyb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Music, cinema, and television, used to be considered performance arts. One performance, one payment.

If I build a piece of furniture, or any other physical item, what right to royalties do I have? None.

The greed of the music, movie, and television industries knows no bounds. I for one am sick unto death of their greed mongering.

codeulike 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Too must music. Supply and demand. Musicians need to get together and sort out some quotas so that they stop flooding the market with music.

not actually sure if I'm joking or not, need to think about this more

robbiemitchell 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If you make something and rely on others to sell it, then they do a bad job, you _also_ lack a business model.
loceng 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a way to know how that increased sales of the song, assuming there was an easy and immediate way for listeners to do so?
wnevets 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If your song was worth more (aka you were paid more per listen) you probably wouldn't of never made it to a million listens
confusedsquirel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have seen posts like this from time to time. My question is this; Is this what the record company pays you or the service?

My guess is that this is the cut after the record company gets theirs.

kirillzubovsky 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The real question is, would anyone care to listen to your songs at all, if it wasn't for Pandora?
jccalhoun 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So he's complaining about still getting paid for a song he released 20 years ago? Damn. Wish I had problems like that...
ctdonath 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Um...music (information) wants to be free?

Why sign up for a system which provides almost no return?

ETA: Sorry, the first line was a "couldn't resist", presented (badly) as just raising another popular meme and invoking discussion of the conflict thereof.

The second line refers to the fact that somewhere he signed a release whereby (however obtuse, obfuscated, and nigh unto unavoidable) such financial abuse was consented to. In comparison, consider how schools are offering near-free degrees (real ones, like MIT) in retaliation to exorbitant student debt, and doctors & patients are opting out of the hideous costs of government-run healthcare by returning to cash & subscriptions (I don't mean to provoke arguments over those, just as points of comparison). Somewhere, somehow, alternatives exist where real payment is demanded and he actually would get paid (and no I don't mean "make money performing", as some music just isn't per se).

How I Under-promised, Over-delivered and Screwed Myself nathanconyngham.com
68 points by boyter  11 hours ago   53 comments top 20
jmduke 9 hours ago 3 replies      
A better title:

"How I didn't know how to under-promise."

I did freelance web design in high school (nothing fancy, HTML/CSS with stuff that clients thought was fancy in 2006, like Lightbox and RSS) and after my second client, where a five-page photography portfolio turned into a Frankenstein's monster of a PHP web-app held together by duct tape and invalid code, I realized two things:

1. There is never such a thing as being too specific.

2. Bill hourly.

otoburb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I love that the OP put this out there as a learning experience. Regardless of the fact that he has an MBA and a technical background, he cheerfully admits he was wrong and tries to do a better job managing expectations in the future. I'll provide a blow-by-blow analysis.

>>We need to under promise and over deliver.

Great! But, why? There has to be a concrete, preferably measurable, reason(s) to have this mindset. As other commentators noted, what he did wasn't really under-promising, but simply adhering to the original schedule, which implies that the customer was on-board with the agreed timeline.

>>The project moved along and thanks to some long days we actually managed to deliver functionality ahead of schedule.

What did he expect to get out of this? What did he tell the team to justify this?

>>We continued our iterations, tuning functionality and consistently over delivering when the team started to become disgruntled and exhausted.

Even with the right motivation, burnout is a constant issue for services staff in any industry, especially when the engagement lead doesn't monitor both sides (customer and internal). He would have monitored this more closely, or would not even have gone down that path if his internal team were billing him on an hourly basis, as it would have forced him to more concretely justify to himself and his partners what he expected to get out the self-imposed accelerated schedule.

>>To continue to over deliver, the team had been working very long hours, weekends and some had missed important family appointments.

Live and learn. Seems like you are somewhat charismatic, or have a hold on your employees that made them put in the long hours and miss family time without pushing back on you.

>>The next day we presented to the client, they were surprised at what wed achieve in such a short time and were happy that we were ahead of schedule.

As engagement manager, you should have ensured that this wasn't a surprise to the customer! It would have allowed you to more quickly gauge whether (a) it's worth continuing on the death march and (b) how the customer will react.

>>The discussion turned to the next set of deliverables, the effort and the expected delivery dates. This is where it all started to fall apart.

No -- we need to be very clear here. Things started to fall apart well before this due to: (i) lack of identifying value exchange for the death march on the first deliverable; (ii) lack of continual communication with the customer.

>>Why cant you do it? Were not asking for anything more, its actually less than what you delivered before.

The standard answer here is:

(i) We can't do it because the first deliverable was a one-off to help you reduce time-to-market / internal target date, but this second deliverable will require additional staff that I don't have. From a resourcing perspective, I'm not going to charge you for the additional hours that my staff spent on the accelerated schedule for the first deliverable because I made that decision unilaterally. We must stick to the same duration for the second deliverable.

(ii) I know you're not asking for anything more; that's why we're able to commit to our originally agreed upon deliverable duration (e.g. 2 weeks), and nothing shorter.

(iii) If you want us to work weekends, as per the Statement Of Work ("SOW") that you signed, you'll need to pay for the additional weekend and holiday staff shifts for the second deliverable [context: sounded like the OP did in fact have a contract in play, and hopefully had language in the SOW that covered increase in base rates for weekend & holidays]. We'll swallow the increase in costs for the first deliverable because we did it of our own volition.

(iv) I'm glad that we confirm our original agreement regarding the nature, specificity and scope of the second deliverable (i.e. that it is "less than what you delivered before"). This further emphasizes that our originally agreed upon duration for the second deliverable is firm and we can deliver with the agreed upon duration.

>>Over the next few meetings, with significant effort, the discussions started to turn around. I had been reborn and now realised:

There's hope for you yet! In most situations, this is where the customer escalates, goes over your head and tries to get you off the project, or where the firm partner/general manager tries puts a PIP on your record because your customer relationship management skills (the number one reason you're typically chosen to become an engagement manager) was so severely lacking. Seriously, that was a great turnaround if the OP did that himself.

>>Its not about the effort, its about the outcome. The client did not care how much effort wed put in.

In general, this is true. However, as part of your job you are supposed to tie in the effort with the outcome, whether via narrative, task-based estimate or simply pure dollar terms. Do this, and your job becomes easier explaining timelines and pricing deliverables.

>>We needed to become a partner

Yep. However, as part of your job, you must be cognizant when a psychopathic or aggressive customer has no interest in becoming a partner and only extracting as much value as possible out of the current deal. Customers can flip, and engagement managers must always be taking the customer's temperature to protect the deal, the team, and the deal margin.

>>The expectations had to be reset

As others noted in this thread, they weren't managed properly. OP was fine up until the kick-off when the baseline timeline was established and agreed upon, but then went off plan for no compelling reason(s).

>>As painful as this was, it did teach me a lot. Get on top of this before it blows out.


>>Under promising and over delivering is for suckers.

This last sentence is wrong. Forget about under promising. Just focus on the over-delivering part. Only over-deliver if you have the appropriate risk appetite, enough deal margin you're willing to sacrifice, and compelling exchange of value. Examples of exchanges of value are:

(i) "If we make a great impression that is sustainable in the long run, we can leverage this influential customer for references in the future!" --> Make sure your sales team has the balls to follow-through on this. Surprisingly, many organizations and field teams have a hard time asking for references for future deals.

(ii) "When we were talking, the customer kept referring to feature X that's gating the next phase of their program and holding up future deals. If we deliver a proof of concept showing that we can deliver this functionality, it might clear the obstacle for future services deals." --> Make sure your product/engineering group can deliver, and that your support group will actually support the new 'feature' that you deliver.

(iii) "The customer is asking us to bring in the schedule. We've got no other deals on the table and all of our guys would be on the bench (i.e. idle) otherwise. Let's swallow the cost for a short period of time." --> Engagement manager needs to go into 'expectation management' overdrive and find a narrative that works for both parties.

gnarbarian 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I did this on my first real consulting gig on a state contract. We were on a roll kicking ass working 10-12 hour days and we blew through the requirements in the first deliverable a month early. When you're going like that you don't want to stop.

Rather than taking it in and showing them. The lead decided that we should just start in on the second deliverable.

We busted out most of the work there before the meeting began regarding the first deliverable.

When we went in to the meeting we were shocked to see that everyone who had written up the requirements had quit and moved on to other jobs. The task had fallen to other employees who wanted to completely change the direction of the application. While the first deliverable did not change. All the work we had done on the second was worthless.

After that I never again worked 12 hour days while on schedule and I never again did anything ahead of schedule that wasn't a 100% sure thing.

Aqueous 8 hours ago 0 replies      
To sum up: just promise what you can deliver, deliver what you can deliver, and stop playing games.

Honestly, I've found that the value of even simple web applications in modern business is so enormous that once you have your foot in the door in a place the contracts just dont stop coming. Especially when you were intelligent enough early on to be selling them an ecosystem, a complete automated solution to their problems, instead of a single, one-off application. The price of going out and developing a good relationship another contractor who is capable enough to understand your existing code becomes prohibitively high, especially when they already have a good working relationship with you.

Is this cynical? No. I'm not suggesting that you slack off or deliver substandard products. I am making an accurate statement about the value of IT in the marketplace. It just reflects the business reality of the moment: people who can make applications are still rare, these applications are immensely valuable to businesses, and if you can do them, there will be someone to pay you to do so.

When competition becomes steeper you can start to play games with expectations. Until then, never let the company intimidate you into thinking they're doing you a favor by giving you a longer deadline. You're doing them a favor, assuming the product works like it should. Deliver and promise exactly that.

georgemcbay 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This sort of expectation management is also why it is a terrible idea to show a client a slick UI mockup that kinda works (but is missing the underlying app logic).

As far as they are concerned, you're pretty much almost done because all the stuff they will ever see is there and looks good. No matter how much you try to rationally explain to them that it is just a superficial shell of an app and is a long way from done, a lot of them just aren't capable of internalizing this concept meaningfully.

nrivadeneira 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I think Nathan's got the meaning of the phrase mixed up. The idea isn't to promise your standard output and then run yourself into the ground trying to exceed that. The "under-promise" part means that you promise less than what you know you can deliver. Having done that, you deliver your standard output and thus have "over-delivered". In this manner, it's sustainable.
Tloewald 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Expectations management is probably the most underrated skill in the world. (Cough Obama Cough.) The problem isn't the idea of underpromise and overdeliver, it's not realizing this is about expectations management (it's also about only thinking of the idea in terms of customers -- your team needs to be treated well too).

First of all, pad estimates realistically, add contingency estimates, trade off deliverables against shortened schedules, and then you're in a position to underpromise and overdeliver and not screw yourself. Oh yeah, and don't deliver early, ever. Wrong axis to exceed expectations on. Deliver more features than originally promised, or more polish. Never create expectations of faster delivery, you shoot yourself in the credibility.

mzarate06 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Why can't you do it? We're not asking for anything more, it's actually less than what you delivered before.

Don't let a client, or anyone for that matter, corner you w/statements like that.

Regardless of whether they were right or wrong, in terms of the amount of work they're asking for being less than the previous, have something to show in regard to why it's not as simple as they perceive.

For example, consider adopting a thorough estimating strategy, broken down into small iterations of work. An estimate showing the amount of hours or calendar days the next iteration would take, accompanied by more realistic dev-hours-per-week (burn rate), would have been the right way to counter the client's statement. It's much harder to argue with with supported numbers.

My grand plan to under promise and over deliver had led to a disaster!

Any plan where you take on more work than you can handle in a given time frame will lead to disaster. Under promising and over delivering had little, if anything, to do here. This was entirely a management problem (dev schedule, client expectations, etc.).

el_fuser 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you had to put in ridiculous hours to hit the under deliver timeline, you in fact over promised.
adammil 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Having hired many software development firms for projects, I expect the project manager to ensure the consulting team is not working inhumane hours and to push back if I ask for too much, too soon. Healthy push back should normally come in the form of "What you want will take an extra developer, an extra month, an extra $20k, etc." and let me decide if I still want to do it. If the firm fails, then I fail, so I never intentionally do things to undermine the consultant, but I am also not perfect and depend on honest communication from them. Also, a project done ahead of schedule is not as helpful as it seems. Even if the consultant is done early, it doesn't always mean that I can start my next milestone early.
soemarko 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> It started with an internal meeting that focused on the expectations set and how we were going to now deliver. Thats when it happened. I blurted those horrible words out. We need to under promise and over deliver.

Dude, those are the words to live by. Not marketing spiel. By saying it to the client you did the exact opposite. You over promised.

stfu 9 hours ago 1 reply      
One think I learned from these type of situations is that it is important with some clients to stretch how difficult the project is and keep a constant flow of signals that show the hard work we put into the projects. In my perspective everything is super difficult. Unless the client knows that it is super difficult then it must look really easy. But it is a very nuanced approach, not that black and white as I describe it.

The client must take away the feeling of "they moved heaven and earth for me and I really can't expect them to pull such inhumane hours for me next time" and not "well, they clearly can do a lot more if I just challenge them a bit more". It depends a lot on the client relationship and the related communication.

entangld 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There are lots of different types of clients. Some use your response to their first request as a measure of your standard output. Once that is known, a difficult client might continue to demand more.

I've found this happens often with clients who are the least knowledgable in your area of expertise. Sometimes their insecurity compels them to avoid getting screwed, by making sure they're getting everything they can out of you.

Other clients, with lower expectations, might be overjoyed by the the same efforts. All clients are not equal.

nknighthb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, that's not how you do it.

1. Under-promise for a sustainable output pace.

2. If/when you finish early, everybody gets an appropriate amount of time off.

3. Repeat.

Your client is happy, and your team is happy, healthier, and ultimately more productive.

jrockway 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Because if you let a software deadline slip, you'll be the first person to ever do so...

(I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.)

ojbyrne 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Over-deliver doesn't mean "deliver early." It means deliver better quality.
sakura_k 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you had to pressure your team to over-deliver against the first under-promise milestone, you completely failed Project Management 101. The point of "under promise, over deliver" is to give your customer a risk-realistic timeline that you can likely exceed, but which won't disappoint them if your project runs into speed bumps.
dossy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: OP failed to under-promise correctly.
damontal 7 hours ago 1 reply      
"Do I care how long it takes a mechanic to fix my car? No, I just care that its fixed."


Flakes000 9 hours ago 0 replies      
he is very right, you can't make yourself work so hard and show nothing for it except everyone being too tired to continue working. And you giving someone a false image about yourself can come back to bite you when they expect you to always be like that and perform the way you showed them or better..
One of the worst patents ever just got upheld in court washingtonpost.com
177 points by alsothings  18 hours ago   106 comments top 14
btilly 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Ah, this decision is from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Totally expected, and we need to get rid of that court.

For those unfamiliar with the history, that is the court that all patent cases go to. They've been co-opted by patent lawyers, and decide very much in favor of patent holders. Every so often the Supreme Court takes the time to review one of their decisions, and inevitably overrules them. So in their next ruling they find a way to pay lip service to the Supreme Court while ignoring what that court said.

So the rhythm goes like this. You go to your local court, and win or lose based on the jury. Then if the patent holder does not like the decision, you go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. And pretty much inevitably will win. If the challenger is very, very lucky, the Supreme Court will have time to hear the case. And you'll get a balanced decision for the challenger. (I mean that literally. The Supreme Court does not have time to hear many of these, so they just pick the most egregious, and issue a balanced decision. But since they picked egregious cases, the patent holder always loses.)

If we could just replace the one court in the middle with one that actually listened to the Supreme Court, then patent trolling would be dealt a fatal blow. I shudder to think of how much its existence costs legitimate business in this country every single year.

austenallred 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The first few lines of the article speak to the closest snake to kill for patent legislation: You don't have to patent an invention, just an idea. This goes above and beyond the typical patent trolling of, "Well we bought the patent for x from whomever built it first, even though that technology is ubiquitous..." to "Let's see what general concepts are so obvious that no one has bothered to patent them."

My brother was starting a real estate app company and was sued for breaching the patent that allowed one to "find an address using a mobile device." The patent was filed in 1989, with no technology behind it whatsoever, just someone saying, "You know, I bet in the future someone will..."

You could patent "a car that flies in the air without touching the ground" today without having any idea how to build it (except I'm sure that's been patented). That should be step one for legislators to kill.

TheMagicHorsey 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This problem won't be solved until software engineers organize, go to Washington DC, and demand reform. If we don't do that, our competitiveness over the next decade is going to take a hit. Its not like everyone in the world is loaded down with the same kinds of legal costs that we suffer here in the states. Chinese, Indian, Australian, New Zealand, Latvian, Estonian, and Brazilian startups are not a huge threat to us now ... in the future they will eat our lunch if our country fucks us in the ass like this moving forward. Why is an investor going to give me money in Silicon Valley, knowing I'm going to get taxed by a dozen or more trolls. He's going to take his money and shop for a foreign team first ... not now ... but in the future when economic incentives bring those teams into existence abroad. Little things like this start the snowballs rolling down the mountain that turn into an avalanche. We think we are the center of the world right now. We sleep on our success, tomorrow someone else will eat our lunch.

Right now these patent laws are being used to tax engineers in order to pay lawyers. The lawyers produce nothing. The laws are set up so we can't do business without shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars to them monthly. This makes it so its harder for us to bootstrap. When we try to get to MVP our attention is divided from the things that matter to all this other bullshit that the lawyers have cooked up. If you are lucky to get a good lawyer, maybe you don't have much of a headache.

But even with the best lawyer, if you see some modest success, the leeches come out of the swamp to suck at your blood ... I mean the patent trolls, and various other lawsuits. The laws make you a criminal no matter how honestly you do your work. You could sit in a clean room and make something all on your own. When you emerge, the leeches will still be granted a right to suck at your revenues. That's how this blasted patent system works today.

Are we going to organize ever and reverse this trend? Probably not. We are all too busy trying to run businesses. You know who isn't busy? You know who has every incentive to spend every waking hour in Washington DC to make sure nothing changes? The patent trolls and the patent lawyers.

As we say after playing a game of Starcraft: GG.

roc 17 hours ago 1 reply      
That the court doesn't find these claims any more broad or abstract than any other is more a condemnation of the status quo for these kinds of patents.

Because, truly, this one isn't egregiously bad in its phrasing. It's at least as well-defined as any number of such patents that have held up under re-examination.

And therein lies the larger problem.

skwirl 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds like this court is saying:

A. Abstract and not patentable: "Instead of charging your audience for your service, allow others to advertise to them via your service and charge the advertisers."

B. Patentable and not abstract: "Instead of charging website users for the use of your website, allow others to display advertisements on your website and charge the advertisers."

There is something about patents that seems to melt the brains of certain judges.

graycat 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Okay, here's my argument against computer software patent trolls.Since IANAL, attacks from knowledgeable readers are requested althoughI can't promise a good responsebecause I know next to nothingabout patent law althougham learning and if my start upworks may have to learn.

Dear Patent Court Judge:

Don't worry, I'm not going to throwrotten tomatoes at you now.And, no, I didn't slash the tireson your BMW 7 Series.

But here's what's wrong with likely most software patents(or patents on devices consisting of routine computerhardware but with some new software).

We start with three parts:(1) Real problem to be solved.(2) Some "abstract" ideas for how to solvethe problem.(3) Using the abstract ideas,some software to solve the problem.The users/customers use the software.

Okay, now we understand thatsolving real problems (1) is important but thatwe can't patent abstract ideas(2).

For more clarity an abstractidea might be just how to manipulate some data ina way a clerk could be taught to do.We can't patent the clerk or theirwork, right?

Well, for more, the abstract ideamight be some applied math orsome of the math of physics orengineering. Since that's abstract stuff, we can't patent it,right? Moreover, before computers,mathematicians and scientistscommonly did such mathematicalmanipulations by hand arithmetic,that is, with paper and pencil.No opportunity for patents there,right?

So, on to the software (3):Assume, as is usually the case,the software is just something routine(for software) to have a computer do thedata manipulations specifiedby the abstract idea,what we could teach a clerk,what's in the math, orwhat the person with the abstract idea100 years agolikely did with paper and pencil.That is, the person with theabstract idea 100 years agocould tell a clerk how to dothe data manipulations and notget a patent but now can tella computer how to do thesame data manipulations butget a patent? Something's fundamentally wrong here.

In particular, assume that without the abstract idea, theclerk would have no ideaat all how to do the data manipulations and thecomputer programmer would haveno idea at all how towrite the software. So,all that's crucial or originalis just the abstract idea and notthe routine software. That is, between (2) the abstractidea and (3) the computer software,only (2) is crucial or originaland (3) is routine.

So, with this scenario, why theheck grant a patent on thecomputer software (3) whenwe can't get a patent on theabstract idea (2)?

But not all software is likethat. Instead, some softwareis tricky stuff. E.g., how theheck to backup a relationaldatabase while it is beingused and changed? One mightargue that just how to do thatcould be, and really should be,written up as an abstract ideaand maybe even some form ofmath and, thus, not be patentable,but sometimes all there isis the computer software.So, maybe, maybe, I'm not fully sure,such software, or a computer with it, could deserve a patent.

Generally, then, I conclude thatmost software patents have to bebased on bad thinking when wecan't patent the crucial,logically prior abstract idea.

Finally, let me be helpful:When you get a case of a softwarepatent, just rule right awaythat the patent is invalidand take a nice long vacationwith the time you would havespent listening to nonsenseabout that case! Take alongsome good hiking shoes or agood book!

DanBC 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Wait? I thought patents required a working prototype. If that's not the case I'm going to patent everything, but with quantum computers. And then everything, but with nanotechnology.
dllthomas 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So, let me preface this by saying I'm well aware this isn't the most important issue here, by miles.

Having said that, is anyone else bothered by the (to my ear) misuse of "let alone"? The phrase "Not X, let alone Y" is supposed to have Y be more extreme than X, right? Implying "certainly not Y, because not even X, so we can let Y alone and not even talk about it."

DigitalSea 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the equivalent of a bicycle with no wheels or chain: completely useless and I think we need to get rid of it. For those who are familiar with the Court of Appeals in this instance, this decision will hardly surprise you. Comedic incompetence at its finest here, folks.
danbruc 16 hours ago 0 replies      
What about this? Why not only grant a patent if you can prove that you invested a considerable amount of time and/or money to come up with the invention? This protects the often cited expensive research done by pharma companies and puts a stop to all the patents on problems with trivial solutions once you have to deal with the problem. And you still have the first-on-market advantage if you are the first to come up with a trivial idea although you have no patent for it.

Can you think of good examples where this will not work, where we really should grant the patent but coming up with the invention was neither time consuming nor expensive? Of course, proving how much the invention cost you and that it could not have been done with considerably less effort is a non-trivial problem on its own.

atarian 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Suppose I wanted to create a startup and not have to worry about infringing software patents. What would be a sensible way of going about it? Or would I have to move to a different country?
vonskippy 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Normally I'd be upset that another patent troll was winning in court - but come on, this is about a slimy patent troll that will be suing even more slimy advertising scum. I have to say I'm on the fence on this one.
drawkbox 17 hours ago 0 replies      
When newspapers + magazines used to fund content by showing ads before TV existed, imagine showing TV ads as a patented innovation and how that would have destroyed lots of content. It was an obvious progression to fund content online supported by ads. This decision is absolutely wrong. Greed over real innovations.
zk2 18 hours ago 3 replies      
how long until building a site is patented?
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