hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    31 Aug 2013 News
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No-fly list ruling in Portland comes close to declaring it unconstitutional oregonlive.com
136 points by rubyrescue  4 hours ago   48 comments top 7
jlgreco 4 hours ago 5 replies      
"Although there are perhaps viable alternatives to flying for domestic travel within the continental United States, such as traveling by car or train, the court disagrees with (the government's) contention that international air travel is a mere convenience in light of the realities of our modern world," Brown wrote.

Yeah, no kidding. That somebody could sincerely espouse such a position is mind-boggling to me. It ranks up there with "Gay people can already get married too (to the opposite sex)."

tghw 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Somewhere along the way, we decided that the threat of terrorism outweighed our constitutional rights. In the heat of the moment after 9/11, it may have seemed right (to some), but the further we get from the event, the more people are starting to see that there is a problem.

These right should not be abridged for any reason. That, or they are not rights.

jrockway 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never thought about the issue of international air travel, but yes, I agree with the court. When there's no alternative, you need due process. (Even when there is, due process is always nice to have when you declare yourself "the" democracy for others to emulate.)

As I write the reply, I am becoming even more angry that the government can restrict one's activities without any judicial oversight. It's such a simple "check and balance" to add and it's one that makes people really happy. How dumb could you be to try and take away people's rights without even implementing the simplest possible administrative hearing?

Steko 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A related ruling earlier this year by Judge Alsup (of Oracle v Google fame) involving a Stanford graduate student:


vkou 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I simply do not understand what kind of threat a person can pose, that makes it impossible for them to safely board an aircraft - after an 'enhanced' search. What harm could they possibly cause on a plane, that they couldn't on a train, a bus, or a movie theater?

The existence of this Kafka-esque list is mind-boggling.

D9u 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thank you Judge Brown!

You are my newest hero!

This is the USA, not some tin-hat dictatorship, and it's about time someone within the federal government acknowledges these facts.

zenocon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
...or, read The Trial by Franz Kafka for a more apt summary
Syrias largest city just dropped off the Internet washingtonpost.com
64 points by hawkharris  4 hours ago   35 comments top 6
level09 3 hours ago 4 replies      
Its not only the internet, All communication (mobile networks, landlines) are cut off as well (I lost contact with many friends in that city)

fortunately, the US will soon be bombing Syria to bring back peace and democracy to the country.

adamnemecek 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Did they try holding the router reset button for 30 seconds?
dil8 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Communication needs to be decentralised...
jlgaddis 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Renesys' usually tracks and reports on events like this on their blog and, indeed, they posted an article yesterday about this:


A few examples from previous events of a similar nature:




ZirconCode 3 hours ago 2 replies      
So what can we do? I honestly ask.

I'm sick of hearing such news, and as a community of "hackers", at least we should be able to have a minuscule influence. Yet I can't think of something better than running a TOR node.

Raphmedia 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You know, that's one of the scariest thing I have read in a long while. I can't imagine how it would be to have all communication cut.

It's crazy. We live in a crazy world these days.

Founders' Accents paulgraham.com
391 points by shrikant  12 hours ago   299 comments top 70
tokenadult 11 hours ago 7 replies      
Learning foreign languages to high levels of communication proficiency was the first adult learning challenge I took on. I majored in Chinese at university and worked for quite a few years as a Chinese-English interpreter and translator. I'll back up what pg said with a data point from academic research. The online article "How to Become a Good Theoretical Physicist,"


by a Nobel laureate in physics who is a native speaker of Dutch, makes clear what the key learning task is to be a good physicist: "English is a prerequisite. If you haven't mastered it yet, learn it. You must be able to read, write, speak and understand English." On his list of things to learn for physics, that even comes before mathematics.

I like to share advice on language learning, because this topic comes up on Hacker News frequently. I hope the FAQ information below helps hackers achieve their dreams. As I learned Mandarin Chinese up to the level that I was able to support my family for several years as a Chinese-English translator and interpreter, I had to tackle several problems for which there is not yet a one-stop-shopping software solution. For ANY pair of languages, even closely cognate pairs of West Germanic languages like English and Dutch, or Wu Chinese dialects like those of Shanghai and Suzhou, the two languages differ in sound system, so that what is a phoneme in one language is not a phoneme in the other language.


But a speaker of one language who is past the age of puberty will simply not perceive many of the phonemic distinctions in sounds in the target language (the language to be learned) without very careful training, as disregard of those distinctions below the level of conscious attention is part of having the sound system of the speaker's native language fully in mind. Attention to target language phonemes has to be developed through pains-taking practice.


It is brutally hard for most people (after the age of puberty, and perhaps especially for males) to learn to attend to sound distinctions that don't exist in the learner's native language. That is especially hard when the sound distinction signifies a grammatical distinction that also doesn't exist in the learner's native language. For example, the distinction between "I speak" and "he speaks" in English involves a consonant cluster at the end of a syllable, and no such consonant clusters exist in the Mandarin sound system at all. Worse than that, no such grammatical distinction as "first person singular" and "third person singular" for inflecting verbs exists in Mandarin, so it is remarkably difficult for Mandarin-speaking learners of English to learn to distinguish "speaks" from "speak" and to say "he speaks Chinese" rather than * "he speak Chinese" (not a grammatical phrase in spoken English).

Most software materials for learning foreign languages could be much improved simply by including a complete chart of the sound system of the target language (in the dialect form being taught in the software materials) with explicit description of sounds in the terminology of articulatory phonetics


with full use of notation from the International Phonetic Alphabet.


Good language-learning materials always include a lot of focused drills on sound distinctions (contrasting minimal pairs in the language) in the target language, and no software program for language learning should be without those. It is still an art of software writing to try to automate listening to a learner's pronunciation for appropriate feedback on accuracy of pronunciation. That is not an easy problem.

After phonology, another huge task for any language learner is acquiring vocabulary, and this is the task on which most language-learning materials are most focused. But often the focus on vocabulary is not very thoughtful.

The classic software approach to helping vocabulary acquisition is essentially to automate flipping flash cards. But flash cards have ALWAYS been overrated for vocabulary acquisition. Words don't match one-to-one between languages, not even between closely cognate languages. The map is not the territory, and every language on earth divides the world of lived experience into a different set of words, with different boundaries between words of similar meaning.

The royal road to learning vocabulary in a target language is massive exposure to actual texts (dialogs, stories, songs, personal letters, articles, etc.) written or spoken by native speakers of the language. I'll quote a master language teacher here, the late John DeFrancis. A few years ago, I reread the section "Suggestions for Study" in the front matter of John DeFrancis's book Beginning Chinese Reader, Part I, which I first used to learn Chinese back in 1975. In that section of that book, I found this passage, "Fluency in reading can only be achieved by extensive practice on all the interrelated aspects of the reading process. To accomplish this we must READ, READ, READ" (capitalization as in original). In other words, vocabulary can only be well acquired in context (an argument he develops in detail with regard to Chinese in the writing I have just cited) and the context must be a genuine context produced by native speakers of the language.

I have been giving free advice on language learning since the 1990s on my personal website,


and the one advice I can give every language learner reading this thread is to take advantage of radio broadcasting in your target language. Spoken-word broadcasting (here I'm especially focusing on radio rather than on TV) gives you an opportunity to listen and to hear words used in context. In the 1970s, I used to have to use an expensive short-wave radio to pick up Chinese-language radio programs in North America. Now we who have Internet access can gain endless listening opportunities from Internet radio stations in dozens of unlikely languages. Listen early and listen often while learning a language. That will help with phonology (as above) and it will help crucially with vocabulary.

The third big task of a language learner is learning grammar and syntax, which is often woefully neglected in software language-learning materials. Every language has hundreds of tacit grammar rules, many of which are not known explicitly even to native speakers, but which reveal a language-learner as a foreigner when the rules are broken. The foreign language-learner needs to understand grammar not just to produce speech or writing that is less jarring and foreign to native speakers, but also to better understand what native speakers are speaking or writing. Any widely spoken modern language has thick books reporting the grammatical rules of the language,





and it is well worth your while to study books like that both about your native language(s) and about any language you are studying.

jasonkester 12 hours ago 11 replies      
Never explain yourself to people who misunderstand you on the internet. They'll just use it as an excuse to misunderstand you again, which is worse because not only are you a terrible monster who said those terrible things, but now you've had the unmitigated gall to defend those terrible things.

It's a universal truth of saying things in public. No matter how clearly you say things, somebody will take it the wrong way. The only approach that doesn't make things worse is to simply ignore those people.

credo 8 hours ago 2 replies      
For all his discussion about "strong foreign accents" being a big weakness, it is interesting that pg doesn't seem capable of recognizing his own huge weaknesses (and almost all of the 200+ comments - particularly the top-ranked ones - seem to miss that too)

1. At best, pg badly miscommunicated what he was trying to say. He could have just said something like 'founders who cannot communicate well' or 'founders who can't be understood' etc. - but he chose specifically to refer to "strong foreign accents".

Arguably, some Americans might find it easier to understand some foreign accents (strong British accents, some Indian accents etc) than some American accents (e.g. some rural southern accents). More to the point, some folks with foreign accents can speak much better English and articulate their ideas (and make themselves understood) much better than many people speaking in a mainstream American accent. However, pg chose to use the "strong foreign accent" criterion instead of the more correct "communicate well" criterion.

2. imo a stubborn refusal to acknowledge mistakes/errors is a big weakness and pg is demonstrating that weakness with passive-aggressive pushbacks like the one on Twitter "Don't say things people want to misunderstand."

Sorry, I think pg's statement was either blatantly wrong or badly expressed/communicated, but that doesn't amount to me being a part of the alleged "looking-for-reasons-to-be-offended patrol" that one of the commenters below talks about. pg (and his defenders on hn) will be better served by trying to understand the criticism instead of making up false motives for the critics of his statement.

<edit> Ten minutes after I posted the comment, it was at 3 points. Thirty minutes later, it was at ZERO points, one hour later at -1 :) In addition to showing the net-points for each comment, I wish HN also showed the total number of upvotes and downvotes each comment receives.

kyro 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I can offer a viewpoint that'll really drive this message home.

I work at a hospital full of the most brilliant foreign doctors, but many of them have accents too, too thick to accurately relay and discuss very complex and critical medical information. That is not in any way a reflection of their intelligence or work ethic in the least. They are smart, and they've proven that with numerous tests and years of training. But when effective communication is hindered, there is damage to confidence, mutual understanding, and progress. Confusion amongst doctors and nurses hurt patient management. Families who don't understand what they're being told feel less confident in the physician caring for their loved one because no clear direction or assessment is articulated.

And PG here is saying no different. Communication is just as essential in running a startup as it is in managing a patient. Your investors rely on your communication abilities to accurately assess the state of your company. Cofounders need to understand you for decisions to be made. Employees need to feel confident in their leader and the direction they're moving in.

This isn't xenophobic at all. Foreign accents, here in America, probably make up the majority of communication issues. I'm sure PG would've mentioned stammering and stuttering if it were significant in his data, but it likely wasn't. How many people do you know with thick foreign accents and how many with other communication hindrances?

ignostic 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't worry about it, PG, you just had a run-in with the looking-for-reasons-to-be-offended patrol. I actually thought this would happen when I read the post, but I also understood what you mean. It's a fairly benign point if we're honest and give you the benefit of the doubt: communication is important for a startup. Heavy accents are a barrier to effective communication.

I speak a foreign language that I learned later in life, so I speak it with an ugly American accent. People sometimes have trouble understanding me when I speak, and even though I know all the words native speakers use, I know I'm missing the subtleties and undercurrents in language. We take these things for granted in our native language, but understanding the associations with common phrases and subtle connotations of words takes many years to learn. Many native speakers miss these subtleties from time to time.

I would never (at my current skill level) try to start a company where I'd have to rely on my foreign language skill. I'm fluent in the language, but nowhere close to native skill. I wouldn't trust myself to explain a product - especially a technical product - in a clear and convincing manner.

"Offending people is a necessary and healthy act. Every time you say something that's offensive to another person, you just caused a discussion. You just forced them to have to think." Louis C.K.

tpatke 12 hours ago 6 replies      
So the message is, 'It helps if people can understand you'.

Um. Ok. ...and I appreciate that PG wanted to make this clear as the press loves to make a story where there isn't one. But do we really need to vote this up like crazy to guarentee it is the top story for the next 48 hours? Are there really that many people here who will benefit from this lesson?

bonaldi 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I think the problem really arose because he said foreign accent. So if it was someone American with an incredibly thick and hard-to-understand accent that would be fine? It wouldn't, if what he really cares about is comprehension.

> I'd thought of just letting this controversy blow over.

A common PG tactic, this (see also the "HN mods wilfully ruin submission titles" storm). But probably not a great one to emulate: time and again here we've seen startups badly burnt by the "fuck up in public and don't say or post anything hoping it will blow over" stance.

Even if it does blow over, you've damaged your image. People might treat you the same, but they'll long remember that time you ran away and hid when people expected better of you.

bambax 11 hours ago 8 replies      
Here's a startup idea: help people speak English well. I live in France, my kids don't speak English at all. I send them to the "American School of Paris" on weekends for a so-called "immersion program" where most kids are French. Results are a little disappointing, and the thing is quite expensive. Yet the waiting list to get in is immense, people are willing to fight to get in.

I'd pay a very high price for an app or a program that young kids would love / do willingly, that would result in them becoming fluent in English.

codegeek 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I am not a native english speaker (indian) even though I moved to the US at the age of 16. I am 32 now. I have a fairly "neutralized" accent according to my native speaker friends. How did I get there ? Over 16 years of practice by listening to music, watching movies and most importantly, how my co-workers/colleagues communicate and express themselves. I still do that today when I can. Just a habit.

I am not interested in commenting whether PG should have said what he said or not but I do think that if you have a thick accent, you need to work on it and not just assume that people understand what you are saying even if your grammar is great.

My advice as a non native speaker.

-Talk slow. Lot of foreign languages are spoken fastly and hence when they switch to english, they go at the same pace. Don't do that. Try and space out the words.

- Ensure that the each word is spoken clearly and not mixed together. Instead of saying "how'r you", start with "How are you" ? Once you get a hang of it, you can switch to the faster version.

- Just working on specific letters can make a lot of difference. For example, the letter 'T'. In Indian languages, people hit that letter really hard. So when they pronounce something like "want", it sounds like "wantttt". The tongue rolling should be minimal here.

- Watch english shows, movies, listen to music, radio whatever. Dont just stick to your own language. Socialize with people who don't speak your native language. Observe them and learn.

- Most importantly, understand that just being able to speak english with perfect grammar is not enough. You need to do more. Nothing wrong with admitting this fact and working on it. Just my 2 cents.

noonespecial 12 hours ago 3 replies      
There are "things you can't say".[1] You can be right, and your message can be harmless but the way you communicate it comes so close to a cultural taboo button that it requires too much extra effort not to be misunderstood. You just probably shouldn't go there. It will cause misunderstanding. Its kind of like having a thick "cultural accent".

For example, I used to, but do not now, ever use the word "niggle". Its just too much work.


FD3SA 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is one of the few cases where this is worth repeating: correlation is not causation.

PG is definitely one of the foremost researchers in the realm of entrepreneurial success factors, but it is important to step back for a moment when analyzing such things as verbal accents and "Zuckerberg likeness" correlating with failure and success, respectively.

Just as Noam Chomsky criticized Peter Norvig because of his focus on statistical methods versus fundamental models, I would suggest that inferring success based on statistical observation without an underlying model can become a confusing and unrewarding process.

Statistics is a tool to test fundamental models, not a model to explain phenomena all in itself. As such, I would guess that founder success is more likely based upon mundane traits such as intrinsic motivation, intellect, experience, access to capital and key personnel, and most importantly, luck. We see this time and time again in superstars such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, John Carmack, Bill Gates, etc.

Extremely smart people are more prone to analyzing every tiny variable, which sometimes causes them to give additional weight to trivial factors in a complex equation.

nadam 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My fellow Hungarian Paul Erdos had so strong accent that his speeches are subtitled on Youtube:


And he was successful in the USA. (Edward Teller was similar they say.)

But it is different than it is for most people:1. They were so good that they could not ignore them.2. Science is different than business.

So for the rest of us it is extremely important to learn English well. I am sometimes almost fustrated that I cannot express myself in a sophisticated way in english.:( And I know that it never will be perfect. A Hungarian writer Sandor Marai only wrote in Hungarian despite speaking fluently in several languages (English, German, French and who knows in what other languages), and living as an emigrant in at least half of his life. (He emigrated from communism at the half of his life) He said he cannot 'write' (as a writer) in other languages (by his extremely high standards).

sriramk 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I think some of the folks here are casting aspersions on the folks arguing with PG - there are some reasonable arguments in there.

PG's stance (my interpretation) is - (1) Founders need to sell to be effective and (2) Having a strong accent makes it hard to communicate effectively and in turn, sell.

I get that (I have an accent myself).

People are objecting to the underlying assumption that this causation is something we deem acceptable. Here's a counter example. (1) Founders need to sell (2) Part of selling is to make the audience identify with you, so founders who look/act like their audience do better. This suddenly becomes a slippery slope, even if that's a perfectly logical argument.

tldr: (Correlation or causation) != acceptable.

tokenizer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see how this is a discussion. His point is completely valid, and holds true for many things.

If you were to become a public speaker/motivational speaker in Canada, then not being able to be understood in either English or French would affect your career.

It seems to me like everybody is caught up in the semantics of whether pointing this out is politically correct or not. I personally think it doesn't matter, and if you're truly committed on creating a startup in the US, you'll have to just persevere regardless of the opinions, as this is just a remark on data.

protothomas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the reason people got slightly sniffy about it was the use of the word 'foreign' in a negative context, which, whether or not it is intended, will be interpreted by some as xenophobic. Had it been stated as '...having unintelligible accents...' it would probably have passed without note.
jusben1369 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Oddly enough this is a re-hash of the same types of arguments used for why engineers could never be CEO's and run startups. They didn't speak the language of business, weren't good communicators. "Go hire a 6'3" white sales guy CEO if you are really serious about this startup and raising money from VC's"

Is this the proper definition of irony?

zavulon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
ValleyWag and the whole of Gawker Media are just fucking WORST. They have a long record of doing scummy things just to generate views. I've lost all respect for them when their editor published the Brett Favre dick picks story, which was told to him by Jenn Sterger in a private, friendly, off-the-record conversation, after she specifically asked him not to publish it. Unsurprisingly, that resulted in her career being completely destroyed after that.
EdwardCoffin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of this quotation: "Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood" - Lionel Trilling


What if this misunderstanding regarding accents is just a standard attempt at stirring up controversy?

ilamont 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Stephen Hawking and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston (aka "Mumbles") are examples of people who have experienced difficulty making themselves understood (either through medical conditions or strong accents), yet are leaders in their respective domains. In entrepreneurship, one example that springs to mind is Charles Pfizer, who started a successful chemical company a year after arriving in the United States from Germany in the 1840s. I assume he spoke with a heavy accent which may have been difficult for some employees and customers to understand, yet his company flourished.

Let's not equate "poor English" with "likely to fail at X". There are other factors, ranging from domain knowledge to soft skills, that come into play as well.

unimpressive 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Pronunciation is absolutely a part of spoken language. You could probably make a decent argument that somebody who can't pronounce the spoken word in such a way that other people understand them doesn't completely know the language.
ovoxo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Look, I respect PG as much as the next person so this is not a slight against him since I feel HN far too often comes to his defence as if protecting their newborn. Having said that ...

I don't understand how a man of his stature and someone in his position can allow himself to make those statements about accents (or anything that sounds remotely xenophobic). I say that because even his blog post says the following:

"A startup founder is always selling. Not just literally to customers, but to current and potential employees, partners, investors, and the press as well ... there is little room for misunderstanding."

That statement doesn't just hold for startups but for anyone in business. His initial statements left plenty of room for misunderstanding. Furthermore, I would also find it very difficult to believe that his inclination towards avoiding "excessive" accents does not also subconsciously lead him to have a slight bias against founders with a "slight" accent. That's how biases work - the threshold for when your brain decides to evoke that bias is not black-and-white.

loceng 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Why not just narrow it down to communication barriers? It has really nothing specifically to do with accents. Two people with the same heavy accents may perfectly understand the other - or maybe not at all. That still comes down to issue with communication. How about making the statement that 3 year olds are terrible CEOs - they're terrible at conveying a story, and I'm not even sure they're speaking English when they make sounds!
glesica 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if general tests of written and verbal communication skills would show the same correlation. I often notice poor word choices, confusing sentence structure, and pretty obvious typos in many of the blog posts that show up on HN. Some of these people are founders. I wonder if their companies suffer due to these sorts of errors (or perhaps they just proofread business communications better).
clamprecht 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Back around 1997 when I was fighting my Internet ban on First Amendment grounds[1], one honest journalist told me the deal. He told me that journalists are not my PR agent. They have their own agenda, and their own angle. Their goal is to get readers, not to spread the message you want them to spread.

tl;dr - Remember, journalists are not your PR agent.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Lamprecht

georgemcbay 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I still have nightmares about the accent of the TA running the linear algebra class I took in college 20ish years ago. He was a Vietnamese man speaking "perfect" English, but not in a way that could be understood by virtually anyone, and I'm usually pretty good with understanding strong accents.

I have nothing against people with accents, I'm friends with and co-worker with quite a few people who have significant accents but are still understandable. However, there are certainly cases where accents are so strong that the person is arguably not really speaking the language even if their grammer is impeccable. And I say that fully understanding that the same applies if I find myself for any reason butchering the French language or Mandarin Chinese verbally.

_greim_ 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The crazy thing is I used to have a boss who was native to India until late childhood, and (so the story went) had taught himself English, largely by watching American TV. The guy now has zero accent. So I was somewhat skeptical. But maybe some people as part of their personality just pick up on pronunciation faster than others?
dlitwak 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Totally agree. I've been at demo days and I just tune out the foreigners who I can't understand. It's hard enough having to listen to 40+ startups in a day, and try to understand what someone is doing, why they are doing it, and how it can make money, throw in a thick accent and you are likely to give your brain a rest and just tune out. I notice that these founders are the ones with no one visiting their demo table, etc.
nraynaud 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm French and I speak english everyday since 5 years (foreign girlfriends) I just can't pronounce this language correctly, the mouth positions required are simply to far from my native tongue. And in the morning it's even worse.I think there is an elocution max level for each of us that's very hard to pass (I suppose that would involve some kind of specific elocution training), whereas the vocabulary always grow.I've met people living in the same foreign country for 20 years and still have a very strong native accent.
subsystem 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm alone in this, but for me the controversial bit wasn't about accents and communication, but correlating a strong accents to intelligence.

"Or, it could be that anyone with half a brain would realize you're going to be more successful if you speak idiomatic English, so they must just be clueless if they haven't gotten rid of their strong accent."

It's very similar to what you would hear about geeks ten years ago.

dllthomas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I recall working in a lab with a lot of foreign grad students from different backgrounds (under a professor with a bit of an accent). There were definitely times the accents interacted in interesting ways, where some would understand completely and others would have no clue what was said (even after several repetitions) until someone else said it.
torrenegra 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As a founder with a very strong Latino accent, I would like to share my success with other entrepreneurs who speak English as a second language: If you want a professionally recorded voice over for your demo video, pitch, or whatever, can get one for FREE from VoiceBunny here: http://blog.voicebunny.com/2013/08/30/no-startup-left-behind...
danso 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Much respect to Paul here. I've been impressed with his willingness to engage the press in rebuttals and elaborations (and in a polite, clear way). I've made it a personal rule not to be quoted in anything controversial just because, even if the reporter is well-meaning, the editor may not be. I suspect Paul is even more aware of this and so his willingness to communicate is a sign of how important he believes his message is.
pitchups 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It is ironic that a statement about the importance of being understood clearly by others , was itself not understood clearly by others, although the conversation was presumably between native speakers with no accents. My point is that foreign accents are just one manifestation of the larger problem of communication that occurs far more frequently than any of us supposes. My favorite quote about this problem is from George Bernard Shaw : "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
nobodysfool 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the NYT reporter Nathaniel Rich hit on something when he commented that PG made an 'evil Soviet henchman' voice. I don't think he was intending to sound evil, but only to imitate a Russian accent. The 'evilness' comes from the NYT reporter's mind. And I think the failure of start-ups with foreigners with bad English language skills is also likely due to their recruitment efforts - you'd tend to hire only people who speak your native language if you can't speak English very well, thus your hiring pool is quite small.
websirnik 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm Russian and was running an ed tech company for the last 2 years. Even thought I rate my English skills reasonably high and I've finished one of the top universities in London with the top grade, once we were at the stage when we need to sell our product, I was completely lost. While talking to native people I was kept noticing how bad my accent was and I think because I've been critical to myself, I felt over time even worse about my accent and ability to fluently communicate what I was doing.It's definitely affected our sales numbers and ability to raise capital. Our company was losing credibility in front of the customers eyes, because of inability to keep up with the conversation pace. After hiring native sales and bizdev people our numbers have grown up. I would advice non-native speakers to keep improving there accent and ability to fluently communicate by getting English tutor or personal-dev trainer or by any other means that I would be happy to hear.
eksith 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who feels that it's ridiculous PG even had to make this post? I mean the original story was such a bag of hot air and insinuation.

It's objectively better for entrepreneurs to communicate as clearly as possible. That's the whole point of the message.

Good grief, people there's real bigotry out there that needs defeating. If anyone has spare energy for baseless accusations, we could sure use a few extra hands over on more productive ground.

Lucadg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Having learned English, French, German, Polish, Spanish and Portoguese I am ready to share my secret to the world: read comics.They are the only written form of the colloquial language, the one you'll need mostly.Literally 100% of what you learn in a comic will be useful in your daily life.Read a novel and this drops to probably 50%, read a newspaper and it's even worse.Nobody speaks like a book or a newspaper. We speak like comics.

P.S.I learned those while living in those countries, so I was exposed to the spoken language too. Plus, comics worked for me, they won't work for everybody.At the end the real trick is to try several methods and find the one which suits you best.

bthomas 10 hours ago 0 replies      
One theory for the "why" - I find it takes a higher cognitive load to understand someone with a strong accent. As a result, I don't digest the message as well and I'm subconsciously biased against complex conversations. I wonder if there is any cognitive psych literature on this?

Advice to those with a strong accent: find a way to communicate your message so it takes minimal effort for a receiver to understand. That could be improved English, but there might be easier ways for you to hack this - concise language, use concrete metaphors, keep printed slides in your briefcase, etc.

hollerith 11 hours ago 1 reply      
People underestimate the level of skill required to speak a language well enough so that it is not a chore for a native speaker to listen.

The chairman of the English Department of my local community college (College of Marin in California) told me that it takes an immigrant an average of 7 years to get good enough at speaking English for native speakers to actually want to listen to them talk.

lifeisstillgood 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I cannot find it now, but I listened to a podcast (possibly four thought) with a discussion on disappearing languages. The professor had been approached by a woman asking how she could help her children, who were losing the native language as it died out. He replied if she really wanted to help her children she should encourage them to learn English and not the native language - they will benefiot more from communicating with nearly 2 bn people than with a few thousand in the locale.

(I seem to remember that Papua New Guinea has a language every mile along its northern coast - mainly it seemed to piss off the neighbouring tribes)

photorized 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There's another problem.

When you have a thick accent, poor grammar, and generally have trouble expressing your thoughts in English, people will perceive you as less smart - no matter how eloquent you sound in your native language.

gojomo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you have a team with many different accents, a CEO who speaks with excellent "transatlantic English" (international/mixed-British-American English) will also likely be easiest for all the other team members to understand. It's about being a more central node in mutual communication/intelligibility networks, rather than a leaf node.
unono 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's funny, the communication difficulty applies to PG as well. PG could be much more prominent if he had a better speaking ability. His speeches are really bad, he reads of the paper and 'ums' all the way through. I've never managed to sit one through. If it wasn't for that he could've gotten the press coverage of a major tech CEO.
peterjs 11 hours ago 0 replies      
And that's the reason I am packing my stuff and heading to London. At this very moment. I was just about to remove the legs from the table I am writing these lines on (well, I am writing them on a computer, but thats not the point). And surprise, surprise, I am moving from Central Europe. And yes, I can speak with a thick Slovak, Czech, and Hungarian (Andy Grove style) accent. If anyone had a job available for a fresh CS graduate, please let me know (email is in my profile)!
CurtMonash 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just pitching in English. It's both listening and pitching, in both English and techspeak.


beachstartup 12 hours ago 3 replies      
at university i had an EE professor with such a strong russian accent i dropped the class. couldn't understand a damn thing he was saying.

my parents are foreigners - it's not that i'm not used to it.

sorry folks, but it's true.

cllns 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I found a typo:

>A startup founder is alway selling.

(edit: has been fixed)

ErikAugust 11 hours ago 0 replies      
People go to Pitch Nights just to work on the quality of their communication.

The reason is, if you have ever waded through a large round of pitches - you understand that it only takes a couple hard to understand sentences before you lose interest.

This doesn't just apply to foreign accents, it applies to volume, pace, etc.

ojbyrne 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes me curious about non-foreign (or english as a first language) accents, I've met at least one person in Boston who was nearly unintelligible. I guess there wouldn't be enough data.
karapu2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Having lived abroad for 17 years as an American, I have found a very strong correlation between those who can not understand a thick accent, and those who can not communicate well with non-native English speakers.No idea if this is the case with Paul, but if you have actually spent the time communicating with a wide range of non-native speakers, you are much better at understanding and making yourself understood. I think all you non-native English speakers know exactly what I mean.

Communication - a two-way street. That is why Paul's comments strike many as tone deaf!

arbuge 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Such is life. This is a requirement not just for startups, but for success in pretty much any field which isn't solitary by nature. That encompasses most businesses, including climbing the corporate ladder if that's your thing.
hnriot 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was hoping for some statistics. Rather than trying to convince people, it would be a far more compelling rebuttal if there was some data to backup the comment. Without data, it's just opinion, and that reflects on the one with the opinion. With data, it's stops being personal, and in the domain of science.
31reasons 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you have thick accent don't get discouraged, all you have to do is speak numbers. No one can ignore numbers if they are really good.
igorsyl 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a case where the founder has an American accent yet people did not understand what he tried to convey correctly. I think PG should have referred to founders' elocution, diction, communication skills, etc. instead of only their accents. As we've seen here one can have no foreign accent at all and you may still be misunderstood.
GigabyteCoin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't we all technically speak with an accent?

I'm from Canada, and I have been to areas of the USA where I could not understand almost anything being said by the local population.

doubledub 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's unfortunate such an explanation is necessary. People with difficulty speaking have a harder time successfully communicating ideas. Not sure how that is misunderstood.

Anyone claiming racism or xenophobia is, ironically, only confirming their potential shortcomings.

CurtMonash 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just pitching; it's also listening.

Some of the most obstinate, unimpressed-by-reality founders I've known have had thick accents.

tsax 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Look, it's the online click-generating, culture-destroying media firms' business model to generate politically correct controversies especially on the words of famous or successful people. ValleyWag is the latest monster to grow out of the repulsive Gawker empire. They will do what they have to do. The joke is on everyone else who even cares what is published there.
gdilla 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You can certainly be incomprehensible in your native language. See Sarah Palin. It wasn't the accent that made her hard to understand.
13hours 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There are many reasons for a speaker to not communicate in an understandable way : heavy accent, speech impediment, lack of articulation, inability to articulate thoughts, etc. Why focus on the cultural accent to make your point, rather than stating the root cause : lack of sufficient verbal communication skills? The fact that you seemed to put a heavy foreign accent as the main cause of bad communication does seem a little xenophobic.
dazzla 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Everybody has an accent! There is not a single person in the world that has "no accent"!

This may seam like nit picking but it is in fact very important. When someone in the US says they think someone speaks English "with an accent" it's actually the fact that they are not speaking English with an American accent. Who's to say that speaking English with an American accent is the correct way?

The English language is used in many parts of the world and has diverged immensely. Pronunciation has changed, spelling has changed, words have been added, etc.

So bear that in mind when you say someone speaks bad English or wonder why don't they make the effort to speak it "correctly".

Also remember communication is 2 way. If you can't understand someone due to their accent most likely they cannot understand you due to your accent.

Fuzzwah 12 hours ago 2 replies      
It is difficult to have empirical evidence for a subjective thing like the understandability of someone's accent.
indubitably 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Well. This is consistent with pg's policy on ascii-only in Arc.
rvivek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Added similar thoughts yesterday (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6297740)
newsign 11 hours ago 0 replies      
i guess there are 2 things here :

1. having accent is ok as far as you can make others understand your point in english ...2. bad english (i mean really bad) will be turn-off anyway with or without accent .... so it is not accent but its all about english as a language i guess ...

I've seen people with english and no bad accent but still having trouble in making other people understand :) and they are either Dumb OR they're P.hd holders (not generalizing though)...

bra-ket 10 hours ago 1 reply      
just make something people would pay for, accent be damned, on internet nobody knows you're a dog
bigdipper 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a study to show

A) How many founders of YC's funded companies were native English speakers vs the rest of the population?B) Does the size of the round correlate to whether they are native English speakers or not?

My theory to test - the more you look like the people judging you, the likelier you are to succeed. It's statistically possible to show this pretty easily.

If there is astringent correlation, get a tall blonde, who can speak well to present to YC next time!

meangeme 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As soon as I read that Inc article I saw this coming.
johnnuy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Damage control time.
Founder with an accent? Free offer from SayAfter.me sayafter.me
79 points by znt  4 hours ago   48 comments top 18
gojomo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Coming this fall to the Mountain View Community Playhouse, a classic musical updated for today's Valley:

My Fair Founder

Can master symbolicist Henry Higgins (played by Paul Graham in his first musical-theater role) win a bet by coaching ambitious but crude-speaking Eliza Doolittle to be the toast of Sand Hill Road in three short months?

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sing along to tunes such as:

The Gain in this Domain stays Mainly with the Brain


I've Grown Accustomed to Her Viral Growth Pace

rattray 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find your pricing anywhere... I'm a native English speaker, so this product isn't relevant to me, but I wouldn't want be comfortable recommending it to anyone without knowing how much it'd cost after those first 3 months. Really critical to have in an easy-to-find place on the website IMO.
reustle 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I watched your intro video and have 2 points to comment on

* "Can I have a spaghetti" isn't the right way to say it. Drop the "a"

* Have a native english speaker read it out, not a computer generated voice (if that isn't already the plan)

rdl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm a native American English speaker who is also into startups (and has lived in a lot of places, communicating with non-native speakers in English, as well as my really horrible Kurdish, Pashto, Dari, French, Arabic, etc. phrases...). Observations:

1) You should fully Americanize all the spellings. It is American English people want.

2) This would be far too boring for me to stick with if it is things like "I went to the cinema yesterday". A coherent story, or even better, a domain-specific lesson, would be a much more engaging way to teach a language. I was able to learn when it was "talk to my driver about the security situation and drive plan", but never cared enough for casual conversation. I am usually happy to talk to people who speak horrible English about things I care about, which presumably for the hn audience is tech, startups, etc., but not about sports (cricket!?). If you could do a vertical-specific sayafter.me it would be awesome.

billybob255 3 hours ago 1 reply      
You might add something on the landing page saying what exactly you do. I read through everything and it doesn't specify how it'll improve English; is it just drills? A therapist to coach people? Pronunciation checking software?
pge 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Carnegie Speech is another good product in this area, that as the name suggests came out of Carnegie Mellon a number of years ago (I have no affiliation with the company).
nitrogen 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I would love something like this that can help me learn other accents of my own language (English), or other languages (French, perhaps), and evaluate my performance.
rabino 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"Repetition makes the master". I'd suggest you tweak the UX so I need to repeat each word / phrase a couple of times before passing to the next level.

Speaking of which... you could gamify this in like 200 different ways.

shibby 3 hours ago 2 replies      
What is 'British' English?

No such thing exists really, at least not in the spoken word form.

You'll also find that regional accents are considered more favourable/likeable than 'the Queens English' so the premise of this may not be 100% correct...

(Brummie is not included in the favourable dialects because it's not considered nice by anyone in the UK except those in that area.)

dcraw 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks interesting. Just a heads up that the video on the home page doesn't want to load for me. I'm getting a javascript error about the youtube frame trying to access the sayafter.me frame.
sdas7 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any evidence this actually works? You're motivating your product by saying it helps you keep your job if you have a thick accent. Does your product work? How does it compare to competitors? Adding this information would improve credibility.
dombili 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Kind of you to do this, as well as good marketing :)

I'll definitely check this out, as I've always been uncomfortable with my pronunciations.

Update: It requires Chrome, which is a bummer. Any plans to support Firefox?

armenarmen 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool idea! Down the line, it might be in everyone's best interest to have an American English option as well.
rvivek 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Great timing. Haven't tried out the product but on top of this a faster way to improve could be to just engage in conversations daily with a lot of native english speakers.
conanbatt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice timing :)

Will definitely check this one out.

gdonelli 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Good marketing, perfect timing!
schappim 2 hours ago 0 replies      
@znt, just have to say this is a brilliant idea!
drnex 3 hours ago 0 replies      
nice relevant post. congrats
Make $377,000 trading Apple in one day? cnn.com
29 points by elleferrer  1 hour ago   30 comments top 10
jellicle 34 minutes ago 3 replies      
Intervals of a few milliseconds? You could peg prices every few seconds, minutes, or hours. A trading interval of one trading session per hour would be fine. Put in all your offers to buy or sell, trading closes at 10:00:00 and then all the received trades are matched up and executed. Once per hour, once per minute, any interval works fine for the USEFUL purpose of the stock market (allocate capital). It just happens to kill off the non-useful purpose, gambling.

While you're at it, tax all stock purchases.

All HFT is front-running the market and should be banned.

dkhenry 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
I would like to point out this was a theoretical operation done by this professor. It looks to me there are a few errors in his conclusions ( specifically about the risk associated with what he was pretending to do, and the nature of market making ). Also he didn't actually make an algorithm to do the trading and back test it, he just assumed that "with a good algorithm" you could do this.

Also the fact that this is represented as a broad threat to the market is just false. This only effects day traders and other HFT's. Yes the long term investor might also be hit by this to the tune of 0.01% per transaction, but the liquidity provided by HFT's almost makes up for that.

Make the system better, but do it so that the market functions more efficiently not so that people who aren't you will make less money.

kolbe 32 minutes ago 1 reply      
I hear a lot of complaining about the HFT business, and there is plenty to complain about, but I think every so often we need to take a step back and remember what the alternative is: Insular, inefficient, corrupt, pit-based trading.

We now complain about a few pennies being scraped off of each order, which stings a little, but read Reminiscences of a Stock Operator to get some context about the dollars that used to be scraped off of each order by pit traders. Today, if you're trading a low dollar stock like Bank of America or Zynga, the vast majority of the money you're giving up to make a trade goes to brokerage, rather than to market makers like Getco.

Where computers are involved in trading, there will always be an edge to be gained from writing better, faster programs. We can take some steps to de-emphasize making programs that have a speed advantage (e.g. assign random latencies to all entered orders, or to bring all orders in each stock to trade on a single, specially-designated exchange), but I'll take computers over pit traders any day.

lifeformed 20 minutes ago 1 reply      
How much is he starting with to make that $377k? If I had ten million dollars to play around with, I could easily make that in a day. That figure it meaningless if it's not relative to something. What % return is it?
npad 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've been wondering - couldn't you just impose a small delay, say one or two seconds, on each order - forcing everyone to wait a moment to get their order on the order book.

Seems like that should eliminate high-frequency trading altogether?

Betting exchanges use this idea to prevent people doing time-based arbitrage on live sporting events. For example, to prevent one guy who's watching a match live in the stadium gaining an advantage against someone else watching on TV, where the pictures are delayed a few seconds.

ISL 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
The economist's preferred trade stoppages don't eliminate the advantage of trading fast, they only reduce it somewhat. If the stoppages are a little out of phase globally, they may actually increase it.

When buying and selling stocks on timescales of weeks to years, HFT doesn't effect my strategies nor outcomes in any meaningful way (except to provide exact pricing at the moment I send in a trade).

AndrewBissell 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
"Hendershott walked away with almost $377,000 in theoretical profits by picking off quotes on various exchanges that were fractions of a second out of date."

LOL, classic. If I just _pretend_ I get filled on every order, I make a hojillion dollars, see?

nraynaud 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why don't the pension funds use HTF too if it works better?
biturd 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
It costs me x dollars to place a trade, how are they getting around a trading fee? Or do not all people have to pay trading fees?
GoldfishCRM 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Darn. I thought I was going to make 377 000 dollars a day. That would have been around $94M trading stock. Now I have to work for a living... Instead I got this article about fair game. Whats up with that=)
Reversing Sinclair's amazing 1974 calculator hack - half the ROM of the HP-35 righto.com
215 points by kens  12 hours ago   71 comments top 13
ck2 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I am not sure what is more amazing, the original creation or the cleverness of the person who figured out everything they did.

I guess the original creation but wow, now that is a dedicated hobbyist.

The Visual 6502 group enjoys dissolving old chips in acid, photographing the die, and reverse-engineering them.


sirsar 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great.

Scientific calculators usually provide constants such as e and but there was no space in the ROM for these constants. The Sinclair Scientific used the brilliant solution of printing the constants on the calculator's case

6ren 9 hours ago 8 replies      

  Unfortunately, as calculator prices collapsed, so did Sinclair Radionics' profits,  and the company was broken up in 1979 after heavy losses.
He fought Moore's law, and the law won.

But this whole thing reminds me of Woz's work in the first Apples. Why wasn't his genius work similarly wiped out? Soon after the Apple, there were dozens - hundreds - of new personal computer manufacturers.

I think it's software. The value of a platform is what you can do with it. Software increases what you can do, therefore increases the value of the platform. There's increasing returns, so once it gets started, it gets harder and harder to stop.

Branding is also important (Jobs), which is why the Apple eventually fell to the "PC" - because the strongest computer brand in the world for decades was IBM.

ajross 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The bit that is probably most striking to modern eyes is the data representation. With 320 instructions there's simply no room for the "obvious" code to translate to and from a display representation. So everything was stored in BCD and operated on one (decimal!) digit at a time using a 4-bit ALU.
ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Nicely done, especially compared to the fits that HP went through trying to figure out how they could prove or disprove that all 11 digits of their calculation were correct.
ableal 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"You might be surprised to learn that the calculator chip cannot perform multiplication natively. There's no floating point unit to multiply two numbers."

Quite true. The sexy multiplier chips from TRW (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRW_Inc. ) were still a few years off, and not intended for mere calculators. Same forthe Intel x87 floating point co-processors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8087).

Nowadays the silicon real-estate cost for floating point math is trivial, and chip area is filled out with RAM cache for lack of anything better to do ...

jordanthoms 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I really wish someone would make a modern scientific calculator - Imagine what would be possible on a modern ARM processor. Even the new HP calculators use old ~70mhz ARM processors emulating the even older saturn HP48 code...

You could build it on top of Android, and have the software be open-source while making money from selling the hardware (so you could run it on a touchscreen, but if you wanted a keyboard you'd buy the calculator).

znmeb 2 hours ago 0 replies      
While clever and inexpensive, the low speed and low accuracy of this device made it unusable. It was billed as "3-figure accuracy", but in fact it only got that on some cases. A bright undergrad or grad student could quickly uncover useful problems that it flat out couldn't solve.

In short, it was a toy. Anyone basing one's academic grade on this thing was a fool. You really did have to spend the money for an HP-35, or the later Texas Instruments SR-5x calculators that were less expensive.

Zenst 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If you need to explain this too less geeky friends thentelling them that this amount of storage is less than a single letter on a modern display. Which on a 32bit display at 12x12 you would be on 576 bytes (8 bits) and this is compared to a 320 11 bit word (320x11/8=440) 440 bytes.

This makes chess on a 1k zx81 including display seem like bloat-ware now :).

Nowadays we have more storage on the keyboard controller chips, heck the older ones during the 90's had 4 KB storage, so almost 10x more ROM alone to work with - for a keyboard.

rootbear 10 hours ago 1 reply      
So is 'reversing' a common lazy shorthand for 'reverse engineering'? The title confused me until I realized what it was about. Feeling like an old fart...
AsymetricCom 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What's more interesting than how the calculator works is how Sinclair was able to write the code for such a chip, which the article doesn't attempt to guess at. I wonder if he used some kind of boostrap on paper, looking at the algorithms.
rarw 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Reverse Polish Notation - sounds like the punch line to a really bad math joke
ivanbrussik 7 hours ago 0 replies      

thats my calculator hack

Show HN: 30-second Slideshows for Hackers jdan.github.io
23 points by prezjordan  3 hours ago   8 comments top 2
prezjordan 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey HN,

I recently started an Open Source club at my school, and one of the key aspects of the club is that I (along with a few others) give quick tech talks. I found that it took far too long to whip up a short slideshow, so I wrote this. Its entire purpose is to allow you to get something presentable and interactive out quickly.

It's sort of a two-birds type deal because we'll be actively working on this project through the club :)

I'd love to hear your feedback!

nilliams 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Exactly. I've been looking out for (and possibly missed) a tool to make a Reveal.js-ish slideshow [1] from just markdown rather than 'HTML with optional markdown in each slide'. This is that.

With Reveal.js you can do:

  <section data-markdown><script type="text/template">    #markdown slide here  </script></section>
But that's a bit of a hard-sell when I'm trying to open non-softie eyes to the benefits of markdown-everywhere (as they have to encounter HTML too). So yeah, I realise that a regex that replaces `---` with the above and hoicks it into a Reveal.js template is (almost) all that is needed to achieve what this project does, but I'm thankful for it all the same.

Worth noting that I've also used the `slideshow` gem [2] back in the day. This does basically the same thing as this project, and with the Google HTML5 Rocks [3] theme it isn't bad as a 'just markdown to slideshow' tool, but it was a bit fiddly to get started and 1) that homepage is a big undersell with all the old crappy themes/defaults on it and 2) I think their version of the Google deck is now pretty outdated (was buggy when I used it). Still, worth looking into for Rubyists I think.

[1] http://lab.hakim.se/reveal-js

[2] http://slideshow.rubyforge.org/

[3] http://slideshow.rubyforge.org/tutorial.html5.html#slide1

Dissent: accountable anonymous group communication yale.edu
28 points by turing  4 hours ago   discuss
IsTumblrDown hit with a Cease & Desist istumblrdown.com
103 points by zachinglis  3 hours ago   56 comments top 15
jfarmer 2 hours ago 4 replies      
IANAL, only an entrepreneur, but this should surprise no one even passingly familiar with trademark law. Failure to enforce your trademark's registration can expose you to claims that your mark is no longer "in use." Sure, this guy might be 100% innocent, but it won't matter when someone less innocent comes along and uses the fact Tumblr didn't enforce their trademark against this other guy to be annoying.

It's easier to just shoot an email to your attorneys and have send a C&D than it is to enter into a more protracted, ad hoc conversation. It costs virtually nothing to do this. Some associate at the firm types it up using one of a bajillion templates, sends it out with a partner's name attached, and bills the client for <30 minutes worth of time.

You, too, can hire an attorney and pay them a few hundred dollars to reply! Or you can try replying yourself.

C&Ds are not legally binding, of course, and the recipient can choose to comply, respond, or ignore as they see fit. Because of how trademark law works I wouldn't recommend "ignoring" since the complaining party is pretty much obligated to escalate matters.

For example, a friend of mine created a parody website of a world-famous newspaper and predictably received a C&D. This was more than just the trademark: it repurposed content, used the same typefaces, mimicked the same layout, etc. They agreed to let him use it after he replied and agreed to include a prominent disclaimer up top stating that "<Newspaper> trademarks used with permission of <Newspaper Corporation>" and explaining that this was a parody.

I don't know if the OP tried to do this, but I will say turning to the "court of public opinion" as a first course of action makes this outcome somewhere between incredibly unlikely to impossible.

Tumblr isn't trying to be evil -- you're using their name, after all -- they're just trying to take care of it in the most time-efficient manner possible. The #1 most time-efficient manner is sending a C&D. For folks whose infringements are minor and inconsequential, it's likely that the #2 most time-efficient manner is to let them use the name in the domain with a prominent disclaimer and an explicit, albeit revokable, license.

etfb 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It's worth posting this to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse at http://www.chillingeffects.org/ go to http://www.chillingeffects.org/input.cgi to submit). They're run by the EFF, so they are indisputably The Good Guys.
CodeCube 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like this was a quick semi-joke website. If Tumblr didn't like what message it sent (which is understandable) ... they could have started with a simple email to the guy. Heck, they probably could have just asked him to change the messages so that it was slightly less snarky. If he didn't want to play ball, then sure ... C&D away. But what happened to plain old being nice?
tazzy531 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Now's my chance to start http://isIsTumblerDownDown.com
hawkharris 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I sympathize with the author and his concerns about Tumblr's disregard for its users.

Having said that, companies have a legal responsibility to take "all steps necessary" to protect their trademarks. Unfortunately, this responsibility sometimes requires them to engage in seemingly nit-picky litigation.

An excerpt from chillingeffects.org [1]: If a trademark owner fails to police his or her mark, the owner may be deemed to have abandoned the mark or acquiesced in its misuse. A trademark is only protected while it serves to identify the source of goods or services.

I'm not saying that IsTumblrDown had negative intentions or that it blatantly obscured Tumblr's brand; I never had a chance to use the site, so I didn't see how the name was incorporated into it. I'm just saying that firms like Tumblr are sometimes under external pressure to be aggressive in enforcing their trademarks.

[1] http://chillingeffects.org/trademark/faq.cgi#QID418

elliottcarlson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Missing E's warning is to indicate that using a third party plugin to alter the sites behavior - which is constantly being improved and worked on - could have negative effects. If something breaks due to Missing E not working with an update that gets pushed out, then disable Missing E. Check the first page of the Missing E blog, and almost every post is regarding an update due to Missing E breaking in some way due to incompatibility. Seems pretty straight forward to me?
NelsonMinar 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious what legal justification someone would think they have for preventing a site like IsTumbrDown from operating.
antiterra 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Could you link us to a copy of the C&D?
pbreit 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Failure to enforce your trademark's registration can expose you to claims that your mark is no longer "in use."

Is that actually true? Has such a thing ever really happened in a situation like this?

maxmcd 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The site was more opinionated than your typical "isup.me" style site, so while I can't justify the C&D I can at least understand the motivation a little bit more.
loceng 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this is a case of them requiring by law to defend their trademark, though then I wonder why they can't just license it for $1 per year for the exact use currently being used - so you can't then just go get a license and change everything to be different..
mdisraeli 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Having yet to see the C&D, the mostly likely reason for this would be utterly boring but entirely rational trademark enforcement/infringement. Odds are, a human only signed the letter without so much as reading it or asking anyone in management for a second opinion.
sarreph 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What a shame... What are they doing?
sluu99 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"its," not "it's"
SF Muni LED Sign at Home with Raspberry Pi coldattic.info
48 points by sutro  6 hours ago   9 comments top 7
awongh 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Re. the implementation of weather prediction: the api that powers the dark sky iphone app is free for >1000 requests a day: https://developer.forecast.io/ -in sf this kind of data is doubly useful too (weather that changes quickly
jasondenizac 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related, the recently launched Bay Area Bike Share system has a not-too-well-publicized API at http://bayareabikeshare.com/stations/json
faddotio 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That sign alone is pretty neat. I could put build health and statistics on it. Hmm..
samstave 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Cool! A sign guaranteed to be wrong 24/7!!


jrockway 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Does it announce the line letter twice when the train is four cars long?
Fuzzwah 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I was keen to do something similar, but there's no tracker on the Phoenix Light Rail.
shurcooL 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Go Ahead, Mess With Texas Instruments theatlantic.com
117 points by awwstn  8 hours ago   101 comments top 24
robterrell 5 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm accustomed to popular blog blowhards repeating the "you can't write code on an iPad" mantra, but I expect better here. We all know you can write code on an iPad, right? Off the top of my head, I can think of free/cheap apps in the app store for JavaScript, Python, Scheme, Perl.

Or Lua... my kids have my hand-me-down iPads. Each has Codea installed. Codea is a gorgeous Lua development environment with a great on-device editor and great libraries for sprites, sound, touch, accelerometer, and physics.

For some things, the Codea editor is better than what I use at work. For instance, if a function takes a color value as an argument, when the cursor is in that character position, a color picker pops up. Likewise, when using the sprite command, instead of typing in a name you can open a popover that displays a list of sprites on the device. It pulls assets from your photo library or links to your dropbox, so you can easily get assets in and out of the device.

My daughter decided to make a program to implement the sorting hat from Harry Potter. She googled for images of the sorting hat and other harry potter things, saved them to the device, and spent an hour obsessively re-writing her draw function so that things appeared where she wanted them to. She was stumped by randomness, so I helped her look in the built-in reference for math.random() and, with another assist on how to write an if-else block, she figured out how to use it. Keyboard input was rougher (Codea lacks the common UI widgets) but she got something working to her satisfaction.

So, after a few hours of playing around, she had a fun little sorting hat toy. She understands variables, incrementing variables every frame to create animation, what the word "random" really means (as opposed to her previous definition for the word, from some Disney channel show), and how to do some basic if-else flow control. Now when people ask her about her iPad, she says she knows Lua and shows them her sorting hat.

Codea can export directly to an Xcode project, so next weekend we're going to turn her sorting hat game into an app and install it on her iPad. I think that's when she'll be fully converted into a mobile app developing geek.

So, the article... there's a fun walk down memory lane (I, too, goofed off in school writing games for a programmable calculator) but it's unfortunate that he framed it with a TI-verus-iPad. Plus, his conclusion is just plain wrong.

jere 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I too wrote my first code on a TI-81. Though I had been making games for a while with various tools (e.g. TGF), it was nice to finally close the loop and write in a programming language, even if it was only BASIC. That pushed me to take a programming course in high school the following year. I was writing pong and asteroid clones and ray casting engines in class.

The author's points about the iPad seem pretty accurate. I can't even imagine how I would go from having an iPad as a high school student to stumbling into programming.

I haven't developed in iOS, but I did play around with Android and the thing that really frustrated me was that the sample games were several files and ~1,000 LOC. We're talking really simple games and the amount of boilerplate crap was mind boggling. To even get to that point, of course, you have to screw around with an IDE, plugins, an emulator, etc.

It's a far cry from PRINT "HELLO WORLD"

jacobolus 7 hours ago 12 replies      
Graphing calculators are entirely unnecessary for learning high school/college mathematics/physics/etc. (though they might be useful for engineering students working on-site where access to a full computer is impractical I don't have such experience with that, so cant comment).

There is no good pedagogical reason for assigning problems to students which use numbers that cant be worked out easily on paper or with a regular scientific calculator. Forcing students to expend effort on keeping track of many-digit numbers is in general an unnecessary mental load which distracts from the concepts being taught. Including "how to use your calculator" sections as part of mathematics instruction, and assigning "calculator problems" which include e.g. unreasonably complex symbolic integration problems or unreasonably precise numbers, for the sake of giving students practice with a graphing calculator interface is a waste of teacher and student effort.

Additionally, Because Texas Instruments has so effectively lobbied textbook authors and test writers and school administrations to get their calculators on the list of approved/official devices, many students are prompted to spend an unreasonable amount of money on calculators which they do not need. Its something like a tax on those students.

TI graphing calculators have awful, obtuse interfaces. Their programming and debugging tools are rudimentary and outdated. Their graphics capabilities are limited, and graphics made with them cant be used for any other purpose or easily shared. Students would be much better served by lessons/mentoring on the use of regular general-purpose computers and programming languages, whether for mathematics or whatever else. If they need symbolic integration or graphing capabilities for solving some concrete engineering problem, or for exploring, they would be much better served by a tool such as Mathematica or Maple [or heck, Python] than by a TI calculator. Full computers are much better for inputting and interacting with data and mathematical structures.

It's been 9 years since I was in high school. But on principle, I never bought a graphing calculator, and I never found it to be any disadvantage in any course I encountered in high school or college [except, briefly, on the AP Calculus test, where I had to familiarize myself with the TI83's awful UI on a borrowed calculator during the test; it didnt end up hurting my score]. However, I found programming in Maple, and later Python, to be invaluable in solving all sorts of problems.

danso 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Anyone ever play "Dope Hunter"? Actually I forgot what it was called exactly, but it was like a Legend of the Red Dragon type game, except you were a drug dealer, and it worked on TI-81s.

I agree with the OP that iPads currently restrict most users to being consumers, rather than programmers...but I'll admit, I didn't know many people who finagled around with creating or modifying TI programs...we mostly just distributed programs, downloaded from the Internet (or BBSes) among ourselves. However, the interface of a calculator was (understandably) pretty painful, so I think some of the more industrious of us did hack our own routines for common calculations. Even that kind of rudimentary programming/problem-solving isn't possible from the iPad or its more popular educational apps.

ChuckMcM 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I still have my TI-92+, it was the pinnacle of graphing calculators, basically running Mathematica on the equivalent of a Sun-1 workstation in your hand. And of course TI-Basic.

While the article suffers a bit from nostalgia, the central message that young people develop learning skills from 'constructable' activities (be it programming a calculator or building things in shop class) is something we have put at risk. In many ways "art" is the most important class you can take in High School since it can challenge your thinking in ways that no amount of rote memorization can.

The bottom line for me was that its great that some folks can see the benefit, but not a whole lot of ideas about keeping that spirit alive in the school system.

fnordfnordfnord 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Let me tell you why I hate TI's shitty calculators.

Mainly because they are marketed so aggressively to educators.

Back in 1990, I was given a TI scientific calculator, and some exercises to practice. I was to enter the UIL contest titled "Calculator Math" or something like that. It was a speed contest. My school (small rural public school), having the smartest and best-prepared students won at the first level of competition beating everyone. We punched our buttons furiously, we were punching buttons as fast as is possible without having registration errors. We figured nobody could beat us, since we made few errors. At the next level we competed, something went wrong. The test went as usual, we finished most of the exam in the allotted time, but did not score well enough to advance. The thing is, after about two-thirds of the allotted time had passed, students from other schools started getting up and leaving. During the exam, I smugly assumed they were giving up because I _knew_ that nobody was a significantly faster button-pusher than me, not by that large an amount. I was puzzled. Later I learned what an RPN calculator was, and began to understand what happened. I am a college instructor today, and I have yet to meet a student who knows what an RPN calculator is. Nearly every teacher's supply catalog that gets crammed into my mail sells TI exclusively.

tzs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> It wasn't until 1990, when Texas Instruments released the TI-81 graphing calculator, that the medium became a feasible platform for game design

Nonsense. People were writing calculator games long before graphing calculators were introduced. There were lunar lander games for HP and TI calculators in the late '70s and early '80s, for example. HP had a "Game Pac" for the HP-67 that included blackjack, craps, a slot machine game, a sub hunt game, an artillery firing game, a space war game, a game based on "Mastermind", Nim, and more.

The HP-41C, introduced in 1979, and (amusingly) discontinued in 1990 (the year the author says game design became feasible on calculators) had an alphanumeric display so it could do word-based games, and Hangman and an an Adventure-like game were available.

rickdale 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article. I used to ask girls for phone numbers and such by borrowing their calculators and writing a small program. For my biggest crush I wrote her a program that spit out nice quotes whenever she ran it, what a blast.

My response to the article though is that kids today have iPads and other tablets and they will delve into those they way we embraced the TI-83.

kabdib 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm going to have a hard time with this when the school district mandates that my son use a calculator that has an "Equals" key.

We've always been an HP family. RPN all the way. I literally am unable to use a TI calculator (well, they may well have Enter keys now -- I know the newer HP calcs have Equals keys of a sort, which you can ignore). My son will not be using a scientific calculator as broken as the TI ones.

You think I'm joking. I'm not. (I'll probably have to relent and let him use a TI, but I'm going to show him RPN first...)

josecastillo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
In high school my friends and I decided that once we understood the concept of, say, the Pythagorean Theorem, making us solve it over and over again was busywork. So we made programs to solve things, and then an application called AMATH to collect all those programs.

At one point the teachers caught wind of this app everyone was using, and made everyone start showing their work. So I reprogrammed my modules to show their work, line by line. I soon forgot about all of this and went into an unrelated area of study at university; I think I only ever took one college-level comp sci class. Today I make my living in mobile apps.

shurcooL 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I miss this.

I used to have a Palm device. It had a black and white 320x320 screen, slow CPU, low memory, and no Wi-Fi. But I could run PocketC on it and work on a hobby game project, either on a computer or the device itself.

A few years later I got an iPhone 3GS. It had a much faster CPU, better screen, wifi and 3G Internet with a browser that could display desktop websites. It was leaps and bounds more powerful and capable than the Palm device, except I couldn't actually develop any pet game project on the device itself (in a C-like language; I suppose JS dev is possible).

mightybyte 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with the author that the iPad could definitely be a more approachable platform. However, I think that the comparison to a TI-83 is also a little bit naive. The TI has a 64 x 96 pixel greyscale display. The iPad's resolution 2048 x 1536 in full color with a quad-core dedicated graphics processor. In order to work with that, we have huge APIs implementing complex abstractions. And all that extra complexity must be dealt with using an antiquated programming language with horrible syntax.

Yes, we could create some kind of simple emulator that makes it possible to write simple things as easily as they could be done in TI-BASIC. But what kid wants to write a nibbles or mario clone when they can with a few finger taps be playing a 3D shooter or racing game. The simple reality is that we are no longer in the frontier days of computing, and I would argue that our languages and abstractions haven't kept pace with other advancements. The easy things have all been done. And the interesting things that haven't been done are hard. That has a significant role in what the author is talking about.

There are also other forces at play--such as the very large economic interests that exist around programming iOS--that weren't a factor for TI back in the day. So while I'm all for the author's thesis that things should be more explorable, I think he's ignoring the fact that a significant amount of essential complexity has made that a much more difficult proposition than it used to be.

canadev 5 hours ago 0 replies      
IMO, this is a beautiful article.

The author has a grasp of education that probably wouldn't have occurred to me. I love the sentence "It may be tempting to see convention and subversion as incompatible, but education thrives in the healthy tension between the two."

I personally learned to program nearly 20 years ago, when I was 13. I was fortunate enough to have a computer around the house and was pretty familiar with MS-DOS and the various conventional memory incantations required to run Games, and I'd played around with GW-BASIC but my family was visiting some relatives' house where I found and picked up what I consider to be one of the most formative books of my life: C for Dummies. For some time, we'd had a copy of Borland C lying around the house, and a copy of K&R, but I could not get into it, though I'd made a few stalled attempts. But this book... it brought the computer alive for me.

Fast forward to today, I am technically self employed, though most of my work is a full-time contract with a single company, and I make a low six figure income. All because I learned to play and experiment with that beautiful thing called programming, because of C for Dummies. Dan Gookin (the author) changed my life, in much the same way that the article's author was changed by the discovery of the programming tools for the graphing calculator.

I am a high school dropout, and very nearly failed out of two universities before completing my bachelor's in Comp Sci after 8 years of attempts. I have historically had a tough time of conventional learning, though I believe I've matured enough for this to have changed over the last few years. Programming taught me discovery, experimentation, a whole, whole lot of getting shit wrong, how to figure out solutions to poorly defined problems (which usually first requires coming up with a proper definition of the problem), and so much more.

Programming is a beautiful thing. My friends just had a baby girl and at their baby shower they had a little 'time capsule' where people could leave notes for the baby to read in the coming years. Mine said that I would be happy to teach her how to program.

For me, programming is a big part of life!

Finally, I love the fact that a non-professional programmer embraces and sees the value in this.

xlayn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What if that liberty, that sense of discovering how to change it was not an intended side effect, and the more controlled ipad environment is?

agree that exposure to that "primitive" environment and the desire to create something great would force the user to make use of ingenuity.agreed that incredibly constrained tools and no very high level language is included, yet still reducing high level problems to low level instructions can allow to discover and see something that could have been hidden by better tools.

or can it be just nostalgia?

egb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
My kid just got a school-issued iPad in 5th grade. Awesome!

But he's also required to buy a lame-o TI calculator as well?! Why?! Oh, because the standardized testing companies are freaked out by iPads.

TI has a stranglehold because of a lack of wifi???

How can we get iPads accepted as legit devices to use while taking tests? I'm getting flashbacks to all the open vs closed book debates about testing that I went through in high school and college...

lunixbochs 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone nostalgic about TI-BASIC, I implemented the 83/84 variant a while back: https://github.com/lunixbochs/pitybas

It lacks advanced math tokens and graph screen IO, but it's incredibly easy to extend and emulates much of the language's quirky behavior.

(-> terminates the token stack, end quotes are optional, you can use "If; End", order of operations, matrices, lists, menus)

There's a VT100 terminal output module which allows you to play home screen games like Mofrog, but I haven't implemented a graph screen IO module yet.

You can run arbitrary .BAS files found on the internet.

Havoc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This must be an American thing.

All the exams I have ever written (grade 1 to post grad) specified graphing calculators are prohibited. Every last one. Graphing calculators tend to be programmable and/or can save text files & local educational institutions didn't want to go there.

xradionut 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Never really had a graphing calculator when I was in school. Bought 92 Plus years later just to have a ultraportable "computer" for field work. LCD screen is starting to decay after years of use, so I picked up another in "mint" condition for $40 at a used book store.

Would love to take the old one and replace the screen and processor with something more modern, keeping the keyboard.

ibrahima 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Holy crap, I played Desolate, that game was seriously amazing for a calculator. The graphics rivaled the original Game Boy (a decade later, but still). It was seriously smooth and well made.
wyager 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Perhaps the author's arguments about the benefits of graphing calculators are legitimate, but there is no reason that this is specific to TI. TI 8* calculators seem to me to be particularly overpriced and lacking in modern features.
davexunit 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that iPads are being pushed so heavily in the educational space. Apple products are built upon denying users access to learn about the hardware and software. Educators should be fighting against walled gardens.
bluetshirt 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is a graphing calculator really the most obvious way that a young and impressionable mind will find an inroads to programming in this day and age? I find that idea laughable. Tinkering on the web is the obvious modern-day equivalent that is completely neglected when talking about how hostile the modern environment is towards the young creative spirit.
kristoffer 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I bought the TI-85 dispite it being an older model because it had been hacked so I could program it in z80 assembler.
eplumlee 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Shows how much we've declined. Kids nowadays use graphing calculators in JHS algebra. We had no calculators, and calculus in my JHS by the 10th grade.
Dark Patterns - User Interfaces Designed to Trick People darkpatterns.org
204 points by kjhughes  15 hours ago   70 comments top 16
abalone 10 hours ago 5 replies      
The worst mainstream example of this I know of is PayPal.

Their entire business is predicated on steering you away from using your credit or debit card (better for you) to a direct bank withdrawal (better for them).

Bank withdrawals carry a risk of overdraft fees, have fewer consumer protections, and lack the rewards programs and other benefits of cards. But they cost less for PayPal. Merchants don't pay any less though -- it's how PayPal makes money.

Each and every time it defaults to bank withdrawals. You have to hit "Change" to select your card, every time. There's no way to change the default to your card. The only reason for this UI is to steer customers away from their best interests.

tsunamifury 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the most Pavlovian I've encountered is in InAppPurchases. A confirm button will be repeated in the same corner of a dialog box 9 out of 10 times, but the 10th time it will be replaced with a single-click purchase.

Basically the UI Is set up to purposefully hotswap to confuse the user into accidental purchases.

I've also seen purchase buttons placed extremely near edges in order to capture edge gestures and convert them into purchases.

Used on several of gamelofts latest free to play games.

harrybr 14 hours ago 12 replies      
Hi, I'm the guy who started darkpatterns.org. It's nice to see it popping up on HN every now and then. We're actually looking for contributors to help edit and update the content. If anyone is interested, drop us a line (contact details on the site). It's intended to be a community project and we'd love to see a lot more faces and names on the about page.
BonoboBoner 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Thanks to the author for including RyanAir's awful booking reservation website. This piece of garbage is filled with traps and puzzles in order to sneak additional costs onto you. God I hate this carrier a well as the world's "cheaper is better" attitude.
matho 12 hours ago 4 replies      
There's a dichotomy here on HN: Best marketing practice generally praises upselling and A/B testing conversions to increase sales and profits.

But, taking these to a natural conclusion typically results in exactly the Dark Patterns we see here: where users are tricked or misled into agreeing to things they might not if they were offered clear, open and full disclosure upfront.

We can identify dark patterns - but in many cases, these are here because they work. At least, large international businesses such as RyanAir believe that they have a positive outcome which overwhelms any damage to the brand.

I would like to know: how can we resolve these two ideas and run ethical but viable/competitive businesses?

aestra 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am not sure if it is a dark pattern, but I hate it. Hidden tax/shipping costs. I have to go through the entire check out process, which is usually multiple screens, and requires a credit card to continue to find out how much shipping will be at the final confirmation screen. Is this done on purpose so they think people are already invested in the checkout, so they won't abandon it due to high shipping? Or notice shipping? I don't understand why not just give me an estimate based on fuzzy location before I start the checkout process, so I don't waste my time if the total cost is too high.
jka 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Open question: as a startup grows and matures, even if it is originally entirely designed with honest user objectives in mind, where usability and simplicity are paramount, at some point there will be calls to increase revenues - either in response to declining growth, market saturation, or simply to maintain existing growth.

Is there any way to structure the incentives of a business to prevent this from happening as a business grows?

Intuitively there is an argument that maintaining simplicity will improve word-of-mouth and conversion rates, but in reality it (unfortunately, perhaps) absolutely is the case that revenue can be massively increased by introducing all kinds of additional advertising, up/cross-sells, and ultimately, dark patterns.

guhemama2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
There a nice book on "evil design patterns" called Evil by Design [1]. It's interesting knowing how we are manipulated (and how we can manipulate others, not necessarily for bad reasons) through design.

1- http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Design-Interaction-Lead-Temptatio...

dclowd9901 8 hours ago 0 replies      
And yet, AirBnb was tricking people into using their service by proxying machine generated emails through fake female personalities to bootstrap their service.

I think the real trick is to dark pattern in a way that isn't offensive/egregiously negative to the customer.

eevee 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Many of these could just as easily be the result of really bad UI design, especially when there are "technical constraints"the RyanAir example in particular reeks of an opt-out being jammed haphazardly into an existing form to avoid adding another control.

Hanlon's Razor, yadda yadda. These patterns aren't any better if they're accidents, of course, but there'd at least be a chance that the offending company would fix them.

bartkappenburg 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess we need to make an distinction between short and long term conversion optimization.

How does a new and unexperienced customer at Ryanair feel when he sees the final amount he has to pay? It's obviously a good first conversion, but does it pay off a the second and third etc conversion for ryanair? Does he recommend the service?

He has other choices and the one that tricked him doesn't feel that good anymore...

Ergo: ryanair is optimizing short term conversion.

throwaway2048 13 hours ago 2 replies      
A possible example of this is how the 'Clear Browsing Data' button in chrome for android has been moved to an inconspicious location away from the other settings, if you have an android device i invite you to see how easily you can find it without looking it up.
zsstor 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Cable providers have been the worst with this in my experience. No matter what you do it takes an ungodly amount of time to cancel service.

There was a great Behavioral Economics course on Coursera taught by Dan Ariely that touched on methods like these, as well as subtler ones. I think the slide on Organ Donation was from him. https://class.coursera.org/behavioralecon-001/class

reddit_clone 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Recently I find it annoying that the button I don't want to click is all bright, blue and defaulted and the button I eventually want to click looks gray as if it is actually disabled.

Even google does this.

gesman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
GoDaddy is the grandpa of auto-optins and upsells, should of been mentioned there.
ArtDev 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the redesign of darkpatterns.org.

I am looking forward to the form to submit a dark pattern.Keep up the great work!

James Burke predicted the future in 1973. Now he does it again audioboo.fm
46 points by timthorn  6 hours ago   38 comments top 17
droopyEyelids 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps the most frustrating thing I've heard all day was when Burke said it was OK to collect all the data because it'll be ignored when those who control it are not interested in it.

"They don't care about ME! They only take notice of people when they're connected to an group or event that is being monitored"

Well no shit. Thats like saying a tyrannical government only silences those who oppose them. They don't care about you today, but as soon as you stick your head up everything you've said and all your human connections are immediately tagged. I find that discomforting! And what a poor showing from the interviewer not to mention this.

mdisraeli 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Half-transcript, half-paraphrasing of the key quotes:

something is going to change within 40 years to change our lives as greatly as the changes since we came from the caves to modern day.

The problem is that, as we try to solve privacy, feeding the world, etc we spend months of time discussing these short term problems in board rooms and parliament whilst labs around the world are working on nanotech

Richard Fynman said that there is "no physical law against creating a personal nanofactory", like a 3d printer, to print anything from basically air, dirt and some Acetylene gas (for added carbon).

Everyone will be able to make anything they need for practically nothing, and this will destroy current economic systems and government.

When nanofactories appear, they will address the problem of scarcity. All our years have been spent constructing organisations and systems to share everything. There will be no need for any social institutions, as they all exist to share things, to address scarsisty.

Why would we still live in massive cities, when we have no more factories, no more need for economies of scale? People will be able to then live by themselves on a mountain using solar panels for power and no need for utilities.

Physical contact between people will happen, but be rarer and and 3d holography will be used to allow this over great distance, to allow you to talk to someone as if they are there, no screen, but if you try to touch them you'll just go through them.

We are going to live through extraordinary times over the next twenty-thirty years!

Edit - Further good bits I missed on the first pass:

In response to "You seem as optimistic as you were in 1970":

* laughs * Well you know what they say about pessimists: They jump out of the window and they're no longer involved.

npalli 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Fascinating views. The privacy angle is quite in line with what is already happening. With the recent Snowden affair there has been a huge brouhaha about privacy etc. but if you look at private information that financial and retail companies already possess you will find that people actually dont care. As long as you get a 0.5% less on your mortgage or credit cards and some 10% discount on purchases, people are more than happy to have companies record every transaction that you make.

Im not sure on the nanotechnology future that he has laid out though. Specifically, what is the source of energy to transform the air/water/dirt stuff into goods and what is the rational for saying that starting with water/dirt/O2 will be the cheapest route to getting whatever stuff we need. Not convinced on that front.

lifeisstillgood 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The original on BBC : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038zhb9 see from 44 mins on.

It is the simplest and clearest explanation of why nanotechnology matters and what's happening while we all play with Web 3.0

I can't agree it's all coming to pass as be says, nor in those timescales. But only a few technologies need to pay off and we will see an end to scarcity.

27182818284 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I grew up watching the Connections series on VHS from my local library.

More than a decade later Netflix recommended the DVD set to me based on my preferencesIt was like running into an old flame. Watching them as an adult, they are even more amazing than I originally remember.

raintrees 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes! I still own all three sets of Connections (I, II, and III) as well as the game.

He is _so_ good at taking ideas from many sources and presenting them, showing how they might fit together or did fit together to create whole new ideas....

6ren 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I would expect nano-printers to have the same effect as essentially free digital reproduction had on music, print and video. There'll be free stuff, and stuff you'll pay for. Why do people pay? Partly to be part of a community; partly because (hopefully) it's better if a whole lot of people worked on it to serve your demographic. I don't think it will change the structure of society, but will have pretty similar dynamics to present day internet.
raffi 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've watched his series Connections about three times over. It's excellent and well worth your time.
grannyg00se 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Some interesting bits:

Nanotechnology will bring real personal manufacturing at the molecular level giving people the ability to produce nearly anything for virtually nothing. This will result in the destruction of current socioeconomic systems and government as there will be no need for any type of scarcity monitoring or control or labour.

People will trend away from cities, and live in smaller more natural close knit communities. Realistic 3D holographic projections will further enable this.

He attributed the nanotechnology factory idea to the great Richard Feynman.

ballard 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Burke's naivete about the externalities of an out-of-control surveillance apparatus are appalling: ignoring the fact that innocent people do get swept up for happening to match criteria of a secret scoring algorithm is just burying one's head in the sand. Instead, he alludes to a simplistic perspective that the world is a happy-clappy paradise where innocent people have "nothing to hide," and by virtual of volume of communication, shouldn't worry.



6ren 3 hours ago 0 replies      
He may soon be incorrect about them not being interested in the content of your calls, only "who you speak to". Before long, always-used speech recognition will be plausible, if it isn't already. Yes, imperfect, but more information than just who you're speaking to.
ch0wn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a very relevant episode of Freakonomics Radio that discusses obsession with predictions and their actual value: http://www.wnyc.org/articles/freakonomics-podcast/2013/aug/2...
andyl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For a man who specializes in foresight, Burke misses the boat on eavesdropping.
drpgq 4 hours ago 1 reply      
We are already moving to a more and more service base economy though. People still pay in one way or another for movie or television content. Nanofactories won't change that.
loceng 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think he's naive with some basic human behaviours and economics of it all. What he says is 90% true though.
saejox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Replicator and holodeck?
How Poverty Taxes the Brain theatlanticcities.com
170 points by jonbaer  15 hours ago   120 comments top 27
ritchiea 13 hours ago 5 replies      
I can speak to this. For a while in 2010 I was completely broke after leaving my first job out of college, which I hated, and having some other employment opportunities fall through. Having that little money changes your decision making process about absolutely everything. Obviously every financial decision is effected, even the tiniest purchases weigh into bigger questions like "will I have enough money in my bank account to pay rent on the first?" It can reach a point where you can barely purchase a soda without any stress over spending money. And at least for me who is fortunate enough that this was not a chronic way of life, one thing that weighed on my mind was how I was spending my time and whether I was doing enough to make sure I wasn't so broke all the time. I could imagine that at some point that sort of thinking goes away and you believe poverty is a way of life. But I can think of a variety of other meta concerns stemming from poverty that could plague your thoughts.

Mentally poverty can be an all consuming condition. I've come to think of it as comparable to programming in a high level language versus programming in a low level language. If you're financially stable you are like someone programming in a high level language who has tedious tasks like memory management taken care of for you. Whereas if you live in poverty before you can get to some of the really productive work you have some hurdles to overcome.

Another way of thinking of the difference between being financially stable and being poor is that if you are poor it is constantly a necessity to think about short term outcomes first so your mind gets clogged up with them. It is very difficult to get to think about your long term good because failing to properly address your short term outcomes could end in complete disaster. This is why I cannot take seriously comments like this on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6301856 although thankfully the commenter does acknowledge he is being cynical and disrespectful.

venomsnake 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Being poor is a full time job. I have fasted for weeks without problems and yet on the one occasion in the last 20 years where I was unable to buy food for three days the hunger was severe and overwhelming - the experiences had nothing in common.

The cognitive load I have seen on friends struggling with poverty is immense - they are permanently mentally exhausted of all the hard decisions and complicated math needed to make the income last longer. When I was with a friend out buying groceries figuring out the correct amount of baby formula diapers and detergent to buy took half an hour (yeah I offered to helped with the bill, was rejected) and the amount saved compared to just throwing stuff from the shelf in the cart was less that 10% of the total.

Edit: Here is an idea for a product - easy to use program that balances the budget as good as possible while taking into account the unique challenges that struggling people are faced with.

Carltonian 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm witnessing this tax first hand right, but the tax is in a more literal sense. Some background: Right now my commute is about 35 minutes through Southern California (I live in Riverside and drive south to the Inland Empire). On Tuesday, my car was totaled. I was in the middle lane on a 3 lane highway when I saw someone coming up behind me a couple of miles before my exit, so I got over to the slow lane. Right as the car behind me was passing me in the middle lane, their tire exploded, spinning them into me, and spinning me across the freeway into the center divider.

This crash is an example of just how much money not having money costs. It wasn't an issue of the driver's unsafe driving, but of the driver's unsafe vehicle due to poor maintenance. Well, that driver doesn't even have insurance, let alone money to fix their balding tires. For now I'd agree with anyone that says it's their fault for driving it, because that's my insurance's stance and that's the stance that gets me reimbursed for my vehicle, but I can't help but see how if they wanted to fix the initial problem of poor maintenance and no insurance, then they'd need money, so they'd need to drive to work...

But it gets worse. My car handled the crash like a new car should. I was safe. I got a little whiplash but I felt fine and was back to work that day. Her car, much older than mine, flipped (exploding tires are about as bad as a car accident can get - keep up on your treads and watch the air pressure in the summer folks!) and she left the scene unconscious in an ambulance. Now I don't know what the statistics are, but my bet is if you don't have car insurance, you're note likely to have medical either. So this woman, who started too broke to replace her tires, now has whatever legal trouble one gets for not having insurance, has no drivable vehicle, huge medical bills, and whatever suit my insurance files against her.

Me, I'm fine, but I'm without a car (and I opted out of the rental car coverage, and she has no insurance to reimburse me for one), so in the name of frugality I start taking the bus. I go against traffic on my daily drive, so there aren't many routes, but there is one. It makes 93 stops between Downtown Riverside and my place of work. It takes about 2 hours 15 minutes with walking time. That's over an hour and a half longer than my commute driving. I'm on the bus with a few other people who make the same trip. Right now my life consists of waking up, walking to the bus, sitting on the bus, going to work, walking back to the bus, taking it home, walking home, eating a small meal, and going to bed to repeat the process tomorrow. Not to mention last night the bus was 2 hours late because of flash floods in Riverside. I got home after my bed time. Everyone this morning was taxed by pretty much all definitions of the word. Night class? Studying for that certificate to get a promotion? Reading a fucking novel? Ain't nobody got time for that.

astine 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a very interesting article, but the experiment, as described, doesn't seem to back up the thesis. They show that people who have less money are more taxed by financial questions, but that could just as easily be a cause not an effect of poverty. (ie, it could back the notion that it's trying to refute.) The article did mention a similar study in India where they tested people who were seasonally poor, but it didn't mention whether their scores changed after they received their harvests. That seems like the crucial point.
padobson 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Now that all of these perspectives have come together, the implications for how we think about poverty and design programs for people impacted by it are enormous.

So you mean it might be a bad idea to endlessly complicate the tax code and setup massive, complex bureaucracies all in the name of helping the poor? There's a chance they might not have the cognitive bandwidth to traverse these boondoggles designed to help them?

Simplicity will liberate as many or more people from poverty as generosity.

tankenmate 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really interesting when correlated with the arguments over WalMart wages vs Costco wages; your average WalMart shop floor employee already has a cognitive load issue "comparable to the cognitive difference thats been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults."

Makes you think twice about what you pay your employees. Also it guides thinking on how employee benefits, like food available on campus, can benefit your company; especially in the information worker realm.

morgante 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The experiment really doesn't match up with what they're saying. It's certainly well studied that making difficult decisions taxes you mentally, and it's not surprising that spending $1,500 is a more difficult decision for someone with a lower net worth.

Where it falls apart is with the assumption that only the poor have to make difficult decisions. If anything, wealthier people spend a lot more time making decisions at work and receive commiserate cognitive load. Not sure working at McDonalds requires you to make any decisions at all.

Even if we're going to pretend that financial decisions are the only decisions in life, I still think the poor might expend less cognitive energy. Frequently they are poor because they specifically avoid making financial decisions. (Hence that's not a cognitive load.) On the flip side, people with more significant assets have to make more significant/difficult allocation decisions, etc.

smtddr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes perfect sense. If you're all stressed out trying to figure out if you'll have next month's rent or how you're gonna eat this week, you won't have the mindset to read a good book, consider how to improve your life in the long term or just relax your mind with some smooth jazz.

A sorta near-topic question.

How often do people check their bank account balance? I've been told I'm odd for not checking at least once a week. Do people who have more money not bother checking it? I only check once a month, when I'm about to pay my mortgage. Sometimes not even then, which means I don't know what my balance is for 2 months.

victoriap 13 hours ago 3 replies      
>>low-income people who were primed to think about financial problems performed poorly on a series of cognition tests

Wouldn't highly busy people with a lot of stuff to worry about such as startup entrepreneurs, chief level executives also perform poorly on cognition tests? Doesn't that prove that when your mind is busy at any level of Maslow pyramid, cognition tests and other games become trivia to ignore?

So IMO, these results tell more on attitude towards cognition tests than cognitive power. Au contraire, it can be argued that, people in need focus more on what matters by ignoring noise including tests. So necessity is the mother of positive change and maybe of innovation?

nwhitehead 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good paper but I believe it is misinterpreting the results. There is strong evidence that people have a limited capacity for making tough decisions. This "willpower" or "bandwidth" gets used up as decisions are made. I think the right interpretation of the results of the experiments is that fixed price decisions are tougher decisions for poorer people than for richer people. This interpretation would differ from "poverty impedes cognition" in the decisions of richer people to bigger price tag scenarios. I would expect asking richer people about what they would do if their house were destroyed in a plausible way not covered by their insurance would induce a similar cognitive impairment.
unono 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Poverty is a great opportunity for startups. There's huge pent up demand for crowd sourcing of the Mechanical Turk variety. There's no real reason a person shouldn't be able to work anytime, using just a smartphone, and earn a middle class income. This is going to be huge next year, 2014 will be the year of the crowd-work.
jobu 13 hours ago 0 replies      
There was a recent article on LinkedIn that talked (anecdotally) about the same taxing on the brain for people that have limited time (http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130627224702-13...)
mabhatter 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
yeah, they just proved Maslow's hierarchy of needs from another angle.
jrn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think their experiment may be an example of prospect theory in action. And relative utilities/loss aversion.


heatherph 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't this essentially what Maslow's hierarchy states?
jes 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This article made me think about David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) system / methodology.

One of the ideas in GTD is that by getting organized and using a trusted reminder system, you free up some subconscious processing capacity.

I have found GTD to be helpful.

dsq 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Eric Blair (known to some as George Orwell) wrote two of the most biting descriptions of the grind of poverty:

Down and out in Paris and London


The Road to Wigan Pier


johnfuller 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I imagine this could also be applied to startups running out of cash. Not only do you have the stress of all the implications of running out of cash, but getting more cash becomes the number one priority, over things that you would otherwise be doing if you were flush. You might have to take on cash from sources you would otherwise decline. You might have to start thinking about doing client work. Fun stuff.
rsiqueira 12 hours ago 0 replies      
TL;DR: Poor people are 13 IQ points below non-poor because they spend "brain bandwidth" thinking about their poverty instead of doing other brain activities.
theorique 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What is correlation and what is causation?

Is it possible that less intelligent people are shunted (through education, etc) into lower-paying jobs? Thus, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

joshdance 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is related to the research that your willpower and energy is limited. When you have to make tough decisions over the course of the day you get run down, and start making worse decisions.
amerika_blog 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Actual article:


Posting this does not necessarily convey agreement.

BetaCygni 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't the fact that they scored the same on the first tests actually prove that being rich or poor doesn't matter in practice?

If you give someone a problem to solve and then another one of course he will still be busy with the first. For rich people it's a simpler problem so they solve it quicker.

Of course it's possible to end up in a negative spiral. It's up to society to provide for people on a sufficient level that they can lift themselves up if they are able to.

colmvp 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if being ugly taxes the brain too, as ugly people probably have sex less than average to beautiful people.
bobbinsIII 13 hours ago 1 reply      
it might be interesting once it is independently replicated several times.
crusso 13 hours ago 5 replies      
It's odd how HN upvotes both articles about learning how to think as well as articles that claim that people are doomed to their financial circumstances because of externalities.

It's a strange schizophrenia in a community pursuing entrepreneurialism.

schoper 13 hours ago 4 replies      
No it doesn't. I've been poor. There is no 1 standard deviation IQ penalty.

"The finding further undercuts the theory that poor people, through inherent weakness, are responsible for their own poverty..."

Again, no. The poorer members of our society have more limitations on average. This is usually IQ, but will often be something like physical disability (ie., blindness), ugliness, or poor socialization, inherent or learned. This does not mean that it is all right to construct a society without full employment or universal healthcare. But if people trying to help the poor continue to be taken in by the above belief, they are never going to get anywhere.

In emergency cases a passenger was selected and thrown out of the plane (2004) lwn.net
286 points by nkurz  18 hours ago   103 comments top 15
derefr 17 hours ago 5 replies      
I guess I'm one of the few people(?) who like the OOM killer. If all your deployed software is written to be crash-only[1], and every process is supervised by some other process which will restart it on failure, then OOM is basically the trigger for a rather harsh Garbage Collection pass, where software that was leaking memory has its clock wound back by being forcefully restarted.

Of course, this works better when you have many small processes rather than few monolithic ones. But now you're designing an Erlang system :)


[1] http://lwn.net/Articles/191059/

jballanc 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder why Linux hasn't adopted something like OS X's "Sudden Termination" mechanism: https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/Cocoa/...
cbsmith 16 hours ago 6 replies      
The real irony here is that airlines actually do something very much like overcommit & OOM killer when it comes to reservations, and for precisely the same reasons: they know that not all the reservations will be used at the same time, but sometimes they do end up double booked, so then someone has to be kicked off the flight.
IvyMike 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of my one and only question on Stackoverflow: "Throwing the fattest people off of an overloaded airplane." http://stackoverflow.com/q/7746648/67591
MattJ100 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Depending on its use, the first thing I generally do on a new server is disable the OOM killer.

At runtime: sysctl vm.overcommit_memory=2

To make it persist, just add vm.overcommit_memory=2 to /etc/sysctl.conf

mikegagnon 8 hours ago 1 reply      
That post is a great, poetic allegory. But ultimately, I think the analogy presents a bad idea. The allegory makes the point that we could entirely avoid OOM errors by engineering a system such that resources are never overcommitted. This is true; we could do that.

However it would be bad.

Under-committing resources (thus removing the need for an OOM killer) will NOT lead to a net gain compared to over-committing resources (and thus requiring an OOM killer of some sort).

If we are unwilling to overcommit resources then it would be woefully uneconomical to run algorithms that have bad worst-case performance (because to avoid over committing you would necessarily need to assume the worst case is encountered every time).

It's just not feasible to avoid algorithms that have bad worst-case performance. Rather, we need to develop better abstractions for dealing with components (e.g. computations, programs, processes, threads, actors, functions etc.) that go over budget. Here's my attempt at developing a better abstraction for web servers: mikegagnon.com/beergarden

Ultimately, we need to treat every system like a soft real-time system, because at the end of the day every program has timeliness requirements and has resource constraints. The current POSIX model does not provide such abstractions and I think that's why we have these debates about OOM killers.

antocv 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The few cases when Ive seen OOM invoked, it took couple of minutes to kill chromium after flash (of course) messed up, during that time the system was unresponsive and it killed few random smaller processes until it hit the correct one, flash or chromium in some weird interdependent bug. Either way, I wasnt too happy.

After a while I noticed when the bug triggered/the system started becoming unresponsive, and I had a terminal with killall -9 chromium & killall -9 flash-plugin ready to go, so I could myself preempt it and OOM wouldnt get involved. There has to be better mechanism than OOM.

zw123456 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Some years back I was flying a small commuter who used small prop type airplanes (I call them pterodactyl air). Part way through the flight, I noticed one prop seemed like it was not working, so I leaned forward to alert the co-pilot (the plane was that small). He told me that they would turn off one engine and "feather the prop" to save fuel. I told him that I would be happy to take a up a collection back in the cabin from the other passengers to pay for the extra fuel to power both engines. He chuckled, but I was serious. I never flew with them again.

Maybe there is a way to suspend a process (feather the prop) rather than completely kill processes.

ajdecon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It is, in fact, possible to make a process immune to the OOM killer:

echo -17 > /proc/$PID/oom_adj

where $PID is the process ID you want to protect.

oom_adj can be tuned with other values to make a process more or less likely to be killed.


Argorak 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to seperate your passengers in first and economy class, this is the relevant guide:


Usually, I recommend that database and queue servers run the database/queue with a priority that makes it unlikely for them to be killed.

I had a case where a colleague running a script on a server with high pressure killed the queue, which is unadvisable, even if is crash-safe. Before that, the queue was running for 1.5 years straight.

cmbaus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
My memory is a bit hazy in this area, but I think by default memory is over committed in Linux. What that means is malloc() can return an address that doesn't have physical memory assigned in the page table. Memory isn't committed until it is written to.

This isn't the case with the default MSVC implementation of malloc() in Windows. In Windows address space is reserved and committed with VirtualAlloc(), and typically that is done in one step.

I think memory is over committed because Linus wanted to keep the memory footprint lower than NT early on in the development of the kernel. The drawback is applications may segfault when writing to memory that was successfully returned by malloc().

kalleboo 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Here's a novel way to deal with an out of memory situation caused by slow memory leaks in a long-running server process: start swapping memory that hasn't been touched in literally days or weeks to /dev/null, and pray the process doesn't ever need it again.
fusiongyro 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Or, here's a crazy idea: how about we actually allocate the memory when you call malloc(), and if there isn't any, give you an error instead? Programs could check the return code and decide what to do when they run out of memory themselves. Crazy, I know.
Systemic33 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Has anyone forwarded this to Ryanair yet?
jameswilsterman 16 hours ago 1 reply      
At least offer parachutes?
Mac OS X Sudo Password Bypass packetstormsecurity.com
126 points by llambda  14 hours ago   46 comments top 16
benjamincburns 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm very surprised that the 'sudo' timeout feature wasn't implemented against the system's RTC using something like CLOCK_MONOTONIC. Or put differently, the idea that you'd use absolute time to implement a requirement that's defined in terms of relative time seems a bit absurd. Anyone have any clues as to why this wasn't implemented that way?

For reference, CLOCK_MONOTONIC is defined in time.h and is part of the POSIX standard.

From the 2004 version of 1003.1:

  CLOCK_MONOTONIC    The identifier for the system-wide monotonic clock, which is defined    as a clock whose value cannot be set via clock_settime() and which    cannot have backward clock jumps. The maximum possible clock jump    shall be implementation-defined.

Edit: This is also an excellent example of why "nullability" is a really, really important concept. If the choice was to delete the timestamp file rather than set it to a magic number which is also an allowed value, this issue could be avoided by simply treating "missing timestamp file" as a timestamp value of -inf.

Edit 2: Just doing a bit more reading on this... on many platforms CLOCK_MONOTONIC resets on reboot, so that's no bueno unless combined with a surefire reboot detection method (if you know of one, go answer my StackOverflow question here [1]). You'll also want to fail the check if the time value read is less than the one stored (indicates overflow or other tampering, and overflows should be far enough apart that this will never happen). It's also subject to NTP time slewing [2] which could be another attack vector. Some systems have support for a CLOCK_MONOTONIC_RAW which is not subject to slewing, however I don't believe this is part of the POSIX standard, and if you were to use this there's a decent chance it wouldn't be very accurate on systems with cheap/noisy/otherwise-inaccurate RTCs.

1: http://stackoverflow.com/q/18539724/203705

2: http://www.ntp.org/ntpfaq/NTP-s-algo.htm#Q-CLOCK-DISCIPLINE

hcarvalhoalves 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is quite a common way to bypass sudo (get access to a user who already logged in as sudo and reset clock), I remember seeing the same exploit (or variations) time and time again, for multiple systems.
Someone 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"If [...], it is possible to become the super user by running `sudo -k` and then resetting the system clock to 01-01-1970"

Can users reset the Mac OS X system clock without being an admin?

npongratz 6 hours ago 1 reply      
sudo offers updated binaries for OS X 10.5 and up so you don't have to wait for Apple: http://www.sudo.ws/sudo/download.html#binary

If you don't trust the binaries, I found it easy to update the vulnerable sudo v1.7.0 on my OS X 10.6 machine by building from source and overwriting the one supplied by Apple:

0) Backup /usr/bin/sudo (temporarily; you'll want to delete the old sudo after verifying the new one works), and backup /etc/sudoers just to be safe

1) Download the source for sudo v1.7.10p7 linked on sudo's homepage: http://www.sudo.ws

2) Untar, ungzip, go to resulting source directory

3) Run configure, telling it to overwrite the vulnerable sudo

    configure --prefix=/usr/bin
4) Compile

5) Install

    sudo make install
6) Delete the old sudo you backed up in (0)

See also the sudo installation notes here: http://www.sudo.ws/sudo/install.html

gnoe 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a workaround until Apple updates sudo, add the following to you /etc/sudoers file:

  Defaults timestamp_timeout=0

rcthompson 7 hours ago 2 replies      
How much sense would it make to annotate a variable as being representative of a "present time" and then have the compiler insert a check that the variable must be greater than the time at which the file was compiled (plus or minus some fuzz to account for daylight savings and time zones)?
Osiris 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain why resetting the clock will give sudo access without requesting a password?
wcchandler 13 hours ago 3 replies      
The user has to be an admin and have executed sudo previously for this to work. I hope that anybody who's smart enough to have access to this command (and admin membership) is equally qualified to parse scripts that may exploit this vulnerability...
aroch 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Appears to be fixed in 10.8.5, the MSF posted doesn't work under 10.8.4 for me either.
stcredzero 6 hours ago 1 reply      
No security that needs time should be based on an insecure clock. Is there any kind of network "verified time" facility using PKC?
vhost- 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how they fixed this in sudo? I would be interested in knowing how they do a TTL without using the system time for comparison.
crunchcaptain 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not add:

sudo -K

to .bash_logout

fjcaetano 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Well... this is dangerous...
ragsagar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Unable to access this url from UAE :-(
aioprisan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
doesn't work on 10.8.4 for me
hunkop 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This non-bug was discussed last year.
New Google Play policy requires opt-in dialog to show ads android.com
54 points by smartician  6 hours ago   20 comments top 8
bad_user 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A little offtopic, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

Right now there are 12 countries that are EU members and who's citizens cannot have Google merchant accounts and therefore cannot sell apps on Google Play. And this isn't even mentioning the countless others that aren't supported.

They promised they'll work on adding more countries, but it's has been years since the Marketplace opened and it hasn't happened.

Their policy also bans other payment processors, so the only way for us to monetize apps is to either serve ads or to start a company in another country, which is a huge PITA.

I do not have problems with either the iTunes Store, or with Amazon. Amazon in particular simply sends cheques by snail mail. What's so hard in doing that?

For a company with the ability to move mountains, all I can understand from this is that Google simply doesn't care about developers like myself.

joosters 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Their example policy has some very surprising terms. When you click on an advert, they'll send them your email address. Really? Apps do that kind of thing? That's truly scummy and shouldn't be allowed, EULA or not. No-one expects that kind of privacy invasion on a web browser ad, why should it be allowed in an app?
lutusp 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> New Google Play policy requires opt-in dialog to show ads

That is false, and anyone who wants to understand the actual policy will have to read the article -- the submitter's title is wrong.

Google suggests and recommends an opt-in / opt-out dialog, but it's optional.

sergiotapia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's a shame how god damn _ugly_ ads are in apps. Is it so hard to make them blend a bit better within the app aesthetic?

If your entire UI is a light color scheme, nice on the eyes, don't make the ad 300px high with a bright cyan 2px border.

mscottmcbee 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The wording makes it unclear. Early in the first paragraph it uses the word "must", then says:

"Further, you should ask for user consent and provide options for managing ads or opt-out. Here are some guidelines"

The words "should" and "guidelines" make me unsure, but I can't tell if their loose meaning it intended, or just word choice.

donnfelker 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need some code to implement this in an app, I wrote an example Simple EULA provider here: http://www.donnfelker.com/android-a-simple-eula-for-your-and...

Download, include it in your app. DONE. Move onto the next problem.

depoll 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't think that this page is actually the policy. The intro text points here: http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html

And the relevant text in the intro points out that these are guidelines to help you follow the policies: "The sections below highlight best practices and common examples to help you avoid the most common types of policy violations."

MiguelHudnandez 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The deleted comment above was along the lines of...

> [paraphrased] Anyone else having a problem with the link automatically being closed nearly instantaneously in a new tab? Clicking the link to open it in the same tab works fine.

This is weird, I'm having a similar problem on Chrome/OSX. Dragging the link to an empty spot next to other tabs works fine. I think that is a UI equivalent of copying the link and pasting it into a blank tab.

I suspect it's some JS on the page that examines the referrer.

Edit: AdBlockPlus was instantly closing the tab, presumably because the URL contained "ads.html"

Craig Zucker: What Happens When a Man Takes on the Feds wsj.com
49 points by fennecfoxen  3 hours ago   23 comments top 7
justanother 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I admit this? I used to admire this one aspect of the Federal government: The way they'd calmly and objectively state their case, without emotion, in indictments, in tax notices, in diplomatic letters. It was a model I strove to emulate in my correspondance in times of personal conflict.

No longer. They are increasingly vindictive and flighty.

Perhaps it was always this way, and we have the Internet to thank for giving us (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story. At any rate, the loss of the calm, emotionless appeal indicates a loss of pack-leader, Alpha behavior, and among apes and most other orders of mammals, will lead directly to a loss of respect.

ballard 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The product may well have been redesigned to been safer, that's beside the point.

The allegation of lack of process portrays the CPSC as unable to interact with manufacturers in a civil manner that addresses concerns constructively. If the US continues scaring off entrepreneurs, the US will be weaker, less competitive and more boring as a result of bad policies.

The larger concern is that US-based thought-leaders are leaving in droves (Woz, et al) as well as the thousand and change that queue up to relinquish their passports every year is swelling; this may be only the beginning of the flickering flame of American exceptionalism. [1]

PS: I also feel that fair reporting on this piece would give the CPSC the opportunity to comment and share its views, if even to say the token "no comment." (One side does not make a complete story.)

[1] How to relinquish citizenship http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_776.html 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5), obviously be certain to secure other citizenship arrangements first)

dangero 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is his side of the story. Some of it does seem shady on the side of CPSC, but my perspective is, Craig Zucker was making tons of money. Am I supposed to believe that the money he was making didn't override his better judgement at all?

Sounds like what happened at the end after his campaign failed was that instead of complying and executing the full recall, he terminated the company; taking all of the profits with him, and leaving the CPSC to clean up the mess while he laid on a beach somewhere. Now he's complaining that didn't pan out and he might have to give the money back.

x0x0 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't know the particulars of the claims, but I do know that:

1 - the wsj is barely distinguishable from anti-government propaganda, so they're worthless: any claims they make need to be verified with first party sources before belief;

2 - this happened:

   Pediatric gastroenterology specialists responding to the survey reported    more than 80 children with magnet ingestion. Most patients required    endoscopy to remove the magnets or surgery to repair damage to the bowels.    Twenty-six children had bowel perforation; three needed major surgery to    remove a section of damaged intestine. [1]
[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904100844.ht...

kanja 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Home of the brave, land of the free
shrnky 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
So what happens when they come for your Legos?

Bottom line:Nanny State = Risk averseEntrepreneur = Risk Taker

fennecfoxen 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Well, I tried to have something about buckyball magnets in there when I submitted it, but apparently this title is so much more informative. Who knew?
Inline CSS fonts glebm.com
12 points by glebm  3 hours ago   13 comments top 4
steveax 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I recently mulled this over on a project. If you have to support multiple font formats to support a variety of browsers, I think the http request latency is less of a factor than forcing all browsers to download all formats even if they won't/can't use them. I think most sites fall into that category.
nilliams 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Wonder how this ties in with the recent discussion over Data URI slowness on mobile [1] [2].

I have to admit I've not read all the articles in full so the question may have been answered. I see Pete did write in a comment to [1] "I haven't tried data URId fonts or SVGs but those are great ideas for follow on tests"

[1] http://www.mobify.com/blog/data-uris-are-slow-on-mobile/

[2] http://www.mobify.com/blog/base64-does-not-impact-data-uri-p...

w1ntermute 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't SPDY's multiplexing supposed to be a general solution for performance issues from subresource loading?
jeena 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the licenses allow doing this.
The SCUMM Diary: Stories behind one of the greatest game engines ever made gamasutra.com
8 points by gebe  2 hours ago   2 comments top 2
pygy_ 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
This has already been discussed today, the other entry is still on the HN home page right now.


Questhub - share your quests questhub.io
34 points by dirkk0  8 hours ago   21 comments top 6
RexM 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The rewards on these quests, suck. I'm going to skip them and just go power level through some dungeons.
mburns 7 hours ago 1 reply      
These don't seem to make use of http://openbadges.org/ unfortunately.
ktusznio 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Technical nitpick: your front-end code blocks on mixpanel, and terminates if mixpanel doesn't respond. Usin noscript and blocking mixpanel, I don't get to see any content on your page.
AznHisoka 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does Perl get its own category?
scep12 6 hours ago 1 reply      
> Basically, Questhub is your free public task tracker.

This copy really bothers me. Drop the "basically" - it's totally superfluous and a bit amateur.

talles 7 hours ago 1 reply      
lol @ the 'flying spaghetti monster' on Chaos realm
Show HN: Gingko, a tree-document editor gingkoapp.com
112 points by adriano_f  11 hours ago   109 comments top 38
Matti 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Far from identical, but along similar lines: http://treesheets.com/

"It's like a spreadsheet, immediately familiar, but much more suitable for complex data because it's hierarchical.It's like a mind mapper, but more organized and compact.It's like an outliner, but in more than one dimension.It's like a text editor, but with structure. "

You can nest spreadsheet-like cells within cells within cells within cells.. and zoom in and out between the various levels of nesting.

For Windows and Ubuntu, with a beta for Mac OS X available.

IanCal 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Hopefully this criticism is helpful.

I find this really hard to read, sorry.

I can't just scroll through or scan read, and I'm met with a variety of different things all at once. Everything's always visible, so I don't know what I'm looking at. I've scrolled down on the lowest level, and read a bit but have no understanding of the context. Clicking on it makes me realise where I am but I've skipped over a load of stuff in the middle so I'm scrolling back up that to find where I left off... I think this is a visual thing though rather than a major issue with the idea. Fiddling a bit I've only just found that not every node has children, but this this is only indicated by nothing happening (which is identical to something that should happen but doesn't)

This is really a different formatter for the same structure of text we've already been using, so the hyperbole is a bit of a turnoff for me.

    \section{some title}        Explanatory text        \subsection{subsection title}    Sub text


    <section>        <h1>heading</h1>        <p>Text</p>        <section>            <h2>heading 2
Why do we need something new? What's being added? What couldn't I do before that's now possible? These are the things I want to know when you tell me you've got a new hierarchical document. Can I already read these well with a screen-reader? The ordering in the source would (I think) read each column individually, which wouldn't make sense. Try loading your viewer without CSS. Imagine a screenreader hitting the massive block of JSON at the bottom of the page. Why is that in the body?

mgualt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm certainly drawn to the idea and am inclined positively towards it. I'm even willing to overlook the ridiculous hubris of "This new medium will be the way most text is read and written in the future."

However, there are many confusing things to me as a person who arrived at the site through HN. Since one of the developers is promoting the "app" here, it might be useful to hear from him on these points:

1. Is this an input format or is it a publication format, or is it a viewer? Does it rely on a time-tested plaintext markup format like LaTeX or markdown? Perhaps it is a HTML viewer for a LaTeX markup document with special structure, rather than an actual typset web publication format.

2. What is the conceptual structure of the document system? Giving me a screenshot does not show me anything about the way you are conceptualizing your document. Is there a separation of content and output, output and viewer?

3. Is any part of this open source? Are you incorporating any other major technologies which have already been developed?

I apologize if any of the above seems harsh, but this is an important topic and I have become slightly tired of seeing flashy presentations about poorly-thought out "revolutionary" new document formats/tools/whatnot.

GhotiFish 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Gingko is intimidating. It looks like a neat way to work

but when I see a big button called "try it now" (red flag), with testimonials (big red flag), no download (small red flag), and no mention of licensing, privacy, or cost (edit: it was just hidden), or... anything (big red flag). My experience tells me to avoid it, and to council everyone else to avoid it as well.

I don't want to be gouged, aggregated, or advertised to. I would love to use your tool. I just can't be sure you wont use that desire against me. I can't find anything on your site that will assure me that wont happen.

edit: AHA. I did find your pricing.


So at least you're mechanism of monetization is there.

3rd3 2 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, congratulation for pulling off a new and experimental user interface!

However, I believe, the idea that tree- or graph-like structuring of text is beneficial for reading and writing text in general, comes close to the graphical programming fallacy. Eventually, the spatial make-up fails because of the following three reasons:

(1) The manual difficulty of navigation and the count of subconscious visual cues necessary for retrieving a passage increase exponentionally as the content grows, (2) altough thoughts do seem to come in hierarchical structures, we usually dont think of text, code, stories, memories nor knowledge as visual graphs and (3) textual hints for emphasizing and linking text are more efficient and flexible than visual hints.

At first glance, Wikipedia seems like an affirmative example for graph-like structured text, but that structure is usually not used for primarily intended navigation. The articles are actually expected to be self-contained for readers with only a fair amount of prior knowledge.

WayneDB 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Web: Try It Now!

Me: Cool, a demo! [click]

Web: But first, you must Sign Up...[trollface]

Me: Nope nope nope...

Sprint 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Dear authors, my screen has hundreds of pixels vertically, I would like to be able to read more than 15 lines at once. The font size is insanely huge. It made me close the tab.
Noxchi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Scrivener has the same "mission" as this. To make text writing into chunks that you can rearrange.

It's more fully baked and I think has a better UI that Ginko (writing a book or long piece with 3 relatively small columns isn't ideal).

Unfortunately it is marketed poorly, so not a lot of people know about it, but I have found it very useful when doing writing for longer pieces.

Roritharr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this really need to be a web-app? Storing my Documents in the Cloud is not possible and not even desireable in most of my work environments. Even in my private life i like to be offline to work on the kind of tasks that Gingko would help me with. Just charge me a one-time fee for an Windows App (Win8 Guy here, Mac Apps would be reasonable aswell) and let me handle my data my way.

I've thought about building something like Gingko for a long time, so thanks for providing an alternative option!

ivan_ah 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the use case for reading movie scripts, it could help to keep all levels of the story in mind:


dscrd 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Ted Nelson's Zigzag, only he had N dimensions and a cell structure. http://xanadu.com/zigzag/
unnuun 1 hour ago 1 reply      
If anyone thinks serious academics will adopt something stupid and flashy like this in place of "old-fashioned, dry PDFs" when it isn't even free or publicly specified, they're seriously deluded.

Fuck start-ups and capitalism.

swift 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good concept but the execution needs some work. I'm confused that everything is visible all the time - if that's the case, why am I clicking on things? But clicking on things seems to be necessary to 'focus' on a given subject; otherwise, as you scroll, the columns get out of sync and seem to bear little relationship to each other.

I envisioned something very different from the screenshots. I expected you to be able to expand and collapse nodes, with the collapsed nodes existing only to provide a summary of the surrounding information. I can see the appeal of having everything visible so that you can just scroll through the document as you would now, but in that case the scroll positions of the columns need to be dynamically linked and there needs to be more feedback about which nodes serve as a summary or context for which other nodes.

In general, I think the process of reading a Gingko document is not clear to a first-time reader. Fixing this will require changes to both functionality and design.

susi22 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't want to have to think when I read a book. The author has to lead me through and follow a path. The auther has to make sure I get a decent introduction and he should make every sentence count.

This is nice to play. And maybe even has it's applications such as documentation where quick browsing helps. But if I had to read a thesis/book like this I'd be a very unhappy person.

andrewfong 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice. The inadvertent jump to another branch can be disorienting though.

Suppose my tree structure is as so:

  * a  ** b  *** c  * d  ** e  *** f  *** g  *** h
Gingko lays it out like this:

  a b c  d e f      g      h
If I'm in the far right column, let's say I've highlighted item g and go up to item f. However, I hold the arrow key down a little too long and overshoot to item c. This causes everything to the left to suddenly jump around and disorient me.

A related issue, the layout suggests that c-f-g-h is an intended list when it isn't. It can cause readers to become confused if they're reading normally in one column and don't fully realize they've jumped to a different branch in between c and f.

Serow225 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat. A couple thoughts:1) it took me some time to figure out that I could scroll a given column when the mouse is over it... Also when the mouse is over a non-column area (background on far right/left) it would be useful if scrolling did a global scroll of all columns at the same time.

2) It could be nice if the sections M+1/M-1 (above/below) the selected section in column N were given a subtle distinct color, and then the appropriate sections in column N+1 that are nested in M+1/M-1 were given the same color. Does that make any sense? It would give a visual indication of which sections in column N+1 lie within sections M+1 and M-1, and also help to emphasize the tree nature of the layout. A different color could be chosen for M+/-2, +/-3, etc.

Good job! :)

jstsch 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is quite a nice experiment in UI. However too small and simple to start charging for (but please proof me wrong!).

1) What I miss is the possibility to attach files. This would be essential in typical collaborative environments.2) I don't want to give you my data. So localstorage or export/import is essential.

heurist 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like this a lot!

The research manuscript example is exciting. It would be great if authors could link directly to the part of a paper that they are citing and be able to open that up if you want to dive deeper. Linking methods to results to discussion for specific experiments would make reading through dense papers a lot easier, and maybe have a notation/jargon definition section open at the same time. It's almost like a tiling window manager for reading.

I'm a little bit concerned about how it looks on smaller screens. It looks fine on my work monitor but I only have a netbook at home right now and a lot of websites have overlapping elements that keep me from reading articles. I haven't looked at this from that computer yet though. Maybe it would help to have collapsible columns if there are issues.

Good luck, I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes!

mbreese 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What happened to the app shown in the linked Science without borders talk? That looks more useful to me, if only because it fits with the typical science paper writing workflow. How did the document editor migrate to this 2D editor?
tommi 10 hours ago 1 reply      
k_bx 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me to (at last) master emacs org-mode.
damaru 10 hours ago 1 reply      
would love to see a self hosted ginko. It used to be that there was a lot of self hosted project, now everyone wants to keep you data... I wonder if the trend will change again.
gizmogwai 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry if I'm rude, but the more I think of if it, the less I see the point.

The initial described problem (organising ideas in a hierarchical way) has already been solved efficiently years ago with visual mind maps. They have been used successfully to not only create the hierarchy, but also to realise that sometimes, the tree is more like a graph.

As a reader, it's infuriating to have to click all the time (or use keyboard) and have this page scrolling all around. I just want to READ, not being distracted by some kind of useless parallax effect.

As a writer, moving ideas around to get them properly organised is really painful. There is no distraction-free interface neither.

If you really want to make tool for writers, I would strongly suggest you that you take a look at tools like Ulysses or Scrivener and try to understand the rationale behind the UI choice they made.

marcamillion 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks awesome, but the elephant in the room is how does the document look offline?

Can it be exported to PDF or be printed or something?

When you print it, how does it look?

tuananh 10 hours ago 4 replies      
I have always felt PDF is outdated for research papers. We need some kind of interactive paper format; yet universal, open specs, look the same and usable across platforms.
codezero 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is anyone else seeing "undefined is editing" and subsequently a bunch of text you didn't write appears?

I'm worried that what I am typing into this might show up in someone else's tree.

mrcharles 9 hours ago 0 replies      
All that text, and no mention of what platforms are supported (or will be supported in the future).
alextingle 10 hours ago 1 reply      
For what platforms is it available? (There's no way I'm going to the trouble of signing up, only to be told "uh oh, not on your platform".
bachback 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. This is actually close to the original idea of hypertext (Ted Nelson's vision: "documents - side by side"). I would really turn down the tone. Let the reader decide how important he thinks the idea is.
gojomo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Miller columns for text with a natural outline structure! I like.
Kiro 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like this. My nested lists in Evernote always get out of hand as soon as a node needs more than one line.

I've tried WorkFlowy but I didn't like the presentation. I prefer cards and in Gingko's case you get the added benefit of having a great overview.

fspeech 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Ontology/taxonomy/classification are seriously difficult things. If not semantic web would have ruled the world by now.

Structural hierarchies (chapter/section etc) may be easy to get for everyone but a navigation side panel would work too. If you build a semantic hierarchy, new users may not know how to find things; yet repeat users may be frustrated by having to go through the layers to access the items they are looking for.

dan-g 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Have you thought about allowing for the creation of arbitrarily deep trees? That's one of the features I like most about workflowy. This looks really cool, though!
zerni 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What a great tool! I will definitly use this to structure my lecture notes! (Topic > Sub-Topic > Definition/List)

Improvement: Allow to filter and color cards. So you can walk through all cards of a given type.

defilade 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea. Can you make it so that when I click in the card it automatically goes into edit mode? Having to click an "edit" button really slows things down.
derekchiang 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the tool, though it'd be great if the editing windows support full-screen mode. Writing in a small grid is a pain.
talhof8 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great. Very useful and well implemented. Goodluck!
colemanfoley 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like how it organizes information spatially, like WorkFlowy. I much prefer this visual organization to tags, for example. That said, I found it hard to understand what it was, even though I'm a long-time WorkFlowy user and am very interested in this kind of thing. I wrote a post where I talked about organizing information visually in more depth here: http://colemanfoley.quora.com/Mind-Mapping-with-WorkFlowy (Registration NOT required to read).
Ignored by big companies, Mexican village creates its own mobile service indiatimes.com
166 points by Suraj-Sun  20 hours ago   30 comments top 11
Aldipower 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Slightly off topic.

In germany there's a movement called Freifunk.The ambition is to build a community driven open Wifi-Mesh-Network by flashing low-cost routers with the Freifunk firmware. So these routers can auto discover their neighbours and then connects via the routing protocol called batman-adv to a mesh. If there's no neighbour router, batman-adv gets tunneled over the internet to connect to the Freifunk network.It's an IPv6 network with gateways to the IPv4 internet.

The problem in Germany is, that on the country-side, there are a lot of dark holes by providing broadband internet. Some villages has to connect with 64kbit/s. We have the year 2013..What the people in these villages do is, they hire one big fibre and share it over the community driven Freifunk mesh network to gain broadband access to all the people in the village.

dcaranda 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Note: America Movil, Carlos Slim's mobile network, controls 80% of the Mexican market. In that context, this is just a really awesome story of empowerment.
Aldo_MX 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have family in a similar village, these are exciting news, because we have been ignored by operators during years.
stan_rogers 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Marykirk (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) is doing the same thing after giving up on BT, etc.
selectodude 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's 1/13th the cost of the network in Mexico City because it provides less than 1/13th the usage.

>There is one catch: phone calls must be limited to a maximum of five minutes to avoid a saturation of lines.

bickfordb 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an exciting model. I believe network connectivity should be treated like a local utility that is priced based on cost, not as a premium service
devx 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I think he's the same guy who tried to raise money on IndieGoGo for it. He didn't achieve the goal, but he did it anyway:


meskio 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The web page of the project:http://rhizomatica.org/
gpvos 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The article seems a bit confused. They are in Mexico, but got licensed by the FCC?!
sasas 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Fair enough to assume this will only be a local network? You need to be a registered Operator in order to have roaming agreements for connectivity to other networks.

Additionally if they are using SIM cards issued by another operator that attaches to this network it will have to remain local as the global title routing would route back to the home network's HLR that the subscriber belongs to during the location update procedure.

Sagat 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Where's Carlos Slim when you need him?
It's a Dumbphone, But It's the Nicest Dumbphone You Can Buy wired.com
152 points by cpeterso  10 hours ago   169 comments top 37
pearjuice 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The OS is not 14-year-old but actually the newest reiteration of S40 which has no problems running Whatsapp, native Facebook apps, Exchange support et cetera. It is not a dumb phone but a feature phone. The OS still has its raw edges here and there[0], but it is anything but old or dated.

[0] I tried it for a week or so on a Nokia 301 and an example of a raw edge is that when using the music player and you accidentally remove the head phones, the music continues over the phone its speaker immediately. It should pause instead.

Eliezer 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Dear telecoms: Please give me a credit-card-sized e-ink-based phone which does nothing but send and receive texts and has a standby battery life of a week. Thank you.
Corrado 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The AARP should be sponsoring this, seriously. My parents would love to own this phone, or rather I would love for my parents to own this phone. They don't want or need a data plan. They don't want to play games or get stock reports. They just want an easy to use phone with big numbers and screen that they can see.

Currently, they are using cheap, plastic phones with tiny little screens and complex OSes. They aren't durable, have poor battery life and have an appalling UI. I wanted them to upgrade to an iPhone just because its easier to use than the no-name phone they are using now. However, the iPhone has way too much capability and would more than likely confuse them.

If this Nokia "dumbphone" can deliver a sturdy phone with a simple, streamlined UI I would get my parents one in a heartbeat. Pair it with a cheap phone only plan from T-Mobile or AT&T and my Christmas shopping is done this year. :)

heterogenic 9 hours ago 10 replies      
I'm sticking with my MOTOFONE F3 (The "Zombie Apocalypse" phone: e-ink display and a 2-week battery life.)

It feels like Nokia's missing the mark here though. Once you get below a certain threshold, you hit customers who are prioritizing price, simplicity, size or battery life. The Nokia 515 is pretty good on all of those, but not the leader on any. It's sort of the least dumb dumbphone, but not necessarily a great dumbphone.

I don't quite know who this is for... but I sure wish they'd applied the same energy to optimizing for size or battery life in a beautiful container. Something that can fit in my smaller pockets and has a great antenna would be amazing as a "going out" phone, even if it only did voice & SMS.

foxpc 9 hours ago 2 replies      
For such a "dumbphone", it seems to be kind of pricey, in my opinion. The camera sensor is probably the most expensive there :)

For a seriously dumb phone, I'd go for a Nokia 100 or 101 (2 sim slots). It's got absolutely nothing - not any kind of web/wap accessibility, no front/back camera or a memory card slot. A resolution of a handsome 128 x 160 and a battery life of ~35 days. All for a price of ~20-40 bucks.

YuriNiyazov 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I recently experienced a really good reason to have a dumbphone.

I was in the process of getting mugged. Someone was pointing a gun at me and telling me to give up my things. My hand was in my pocket, and I wanted to dial 911, but I couldn't, because all the smartphones nowadays have touch screen buttons.

tyw 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I still haven't joined the smartphone revolution and this appeals to me in some respects, but I wish they'd have opted for a full physical keyboard. I avoid sending texts whenever possible because T9 is such a pain in the ass compared to QWERTY.
davidu 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Since it has a BL-4U removable battery, this will be the phone to get for those of you who are privacy conscious. It's unfortunate it has Bluetooth, but at least no Wi-Fi.

I would have normally written "privacy paranoid" but it's clear that the spectrum has been lowered from paranoid to just conscious due to current realities.

ImprovedSilence 9 hours ago 2 replies      
HA! that looks awesome. Somewhat similar in looks to the LG Glance[1] that I had as my last "dumb-phone". Of which, I will say I loved the ergonomics, battery life, and durability of that phone. Honestly, the only real data function I require on my phone these days is maps... I would be very tempted to drop the data plan on go this direction. A bit pricey though, I would still probs go with a $25 phone over $150 anyway....

[1] image: http://i-cdn.phonearena.com/images/phones/16040-large/LG-Gla...

apendleton 9 hours ago 3 replies      
After the recent price drop, it ends up being only 25% cheaper than a Nexus 4, which is way more phone than this. It's not clear to me that there's anyone interested in the particular price/features intersection where this phone sits.
zokier 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Could someone explain what's the idea behind Nokias longstanding strategy of flooding the market constantly with new models with very minor differences? Nokia 301 is almost identical with this new 515, and was released only 6 months ago. They seem to be releasing ten dumb/feature phones per year. I honestly don't feel like that approach results good quality end products.

edit: Also what's with the aggressive market segmentation? Why aren't the models globally available?

chmike 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Excellent: 38 days autonomy. Some people favor that. Make it ip67, and this could be a hit. There is plenty of room there in the market.
begriffs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The best and dumbest phone


Just a dial pad with a paper(!) phonebook that fits inside. Yum, it tickles my inner hipster.

skrebbel 8 hours ago 1 reply      
That's roughly the same price point as Nokia's dumbest smartphone, the Lumia 520, which is significantly more fully featured. The point really must be simplicity, not price.
RBerenguel 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I carry around an Emporia Elegance, a phone designed for old people. Great battery life, no hassles. When this dies, I'll be getting this Nokia or some descendant
lygaret 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Are there any dumbphones that have 4G hotspot tethering as a feature? I'm not that interested in all the extra stuff that comes in the smart phone package, but being able to tether my laptop or tablet is really useful to me.
jlgreco 9 hours ago 1 reply      
With a camera on it, wouldn't it be more of a "feature phone"?

Looks very slick, whatever you call it.

jdcarter 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a GSM dumbphone that's $80 and runs on a AA battery: http://spareone.com/
radicalbyte 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If this can be used as a Bluetooth 3G modem for a phablet then it would be pretty useful. Big phablet for internet + emails combined with a small phone for voice. Plus the battery last more than 5 mins so it's useful for a festival :)
zokier 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nokia has been claiming month+ standby times for a long time. There has been plenty of disappointed people when in reality the battery life is <1 week.


mkr-hn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So it's like my current phone, but with a touch screen and a decent camera? Sounds good. I could leave my 16MP pocket camera in the car and only have one device in my pockets.

Smartphones never appealed to me. They're just bad enough at all the things I want to do with a mobile device to make it a poor value proposition. I'd rather have a nice tablet. Something like the Surface (non-RT) with a few more iterations.

Pxtl 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly, if I were getting a modern dumb-phone my top priority would be compactness and low-weight rather than battery life or build-quality. I'd want something absolutely invisible in my pocket, and any clever usage would go through a smart tablet tethered to it.
at-fates-hands 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to hear so many people still use these kinds of phones. Reminds of people who used to carry their palm pilots and their phones around with them.

Hell, I used to be one. the Handspring Treo 270? Oh man I loved that phone!!

shitlord 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I really wish more smartphones had some of the dumbphones' features: better battery life, better casing, etc. As much as I love my Nexus 4, the battery life isn't great and I'm always worried that I will drop it and the whole thing will shatter.
bradleysmith 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice! I love high end dumbphones. Bad title though; this[1] is a much 'nicer' dumbphone I can buy.

radicalbyte said what I was thinking exactly: this plus a Bluetooth modem (way to share data plan between devices) plus a big phablet/small tablet would be a badass professional setup. Battery life sells it for me, but not carrying my GPS-enabled google box everywhere with me would be pretty appealing too.

[1] - http://www.aesir-copenhagen.com/ae-plus-y/

primelens 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like this can't do email. Is there such a thing as an otherwise dumb phone that can just do email (specifically Gmail)? I can live without all the other smartphone features, but email would be nice to have.
philip1209 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A 38 day battery life and 2 sim ports? Sounds like a good company-provided phone for PagerDuty.
Shivetya 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Simple enough, even my parents wouldn't mind
joeblau 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks nice, but I think it' a bit thick. I feel like they could have made something half as thick as the Razr.
hit8run 8 hours ago 0 replies      
How should one read HN on it? :DI often thought that it would be cool to have a feature phone that has extremely long battery life and a very minimalistic and thin design. I like their approach but I think it might be too expensive considering the fact that you can get a nexus4 for 199 without contract here in germany.
AsymetricCom 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If it supports corporate Exchange and Tethering, I'm sold.
msoad 7 hours ago 0 replies      
For $50 more you can get a Nexus 4. Wow!
mingabunga 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My wife would love this, a stylish feature phone. She just wants text and calling, but all the phones out there like this are crappers. 38 days battery life is pretty awesome too.
deepuj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Was hoping for one without a camera. The camera ruined it. :(
lechevalierd3on 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Does not it look fat to you ?I would expect such a phone to be much slimmer than today's smartphone. I do get that the battery takes space, but still. Wasn't the RaZor much slimmer ?
karma_fountain 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Make it run spotify, have good sound quality, and wifi, and I'm sold.
xutopia 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How much is it?
How the Dropbox Datastore API Handles Conflicts Part Two dropbox.com
47 points by llambda  10 hours ago   12 comments top 4
jchrisa 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem with this approach is that it requires you to resolve conflicts when you first see them. So you can't do workflows that accumulate more than two versions of what happened. Nor can you resolve the conflict asynchronously.

For an approach that doesn't ever force you to throw away or merge data, see the data structures in my OSCON talk. https://speakerdeck.com/jchris/couchbase-lite-oscon

I owe the world a write-up explaining these slides. Or come see me talk at StrangeLoop in St. Louis or Couchbase SF in September. http://www.couchbase.com/couchbase-sf-2013

joejohnson 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I might not understand what the Datastore API is for, but if I wanted to make a simple app that could sync to Word Docs between to clients, would these .doc files get represented in this database structure (tables, records and values)? Is that data structure just for example purposes?

How would this algorithm handle changes to the same text file? Is the file a record, and each row considered a value in that record?

EDIT: Looks like this API is only for "structured data like contacts, to-do items, and game state." https://www.dropbox.com/developers/datastore

boomzilla 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome, this is one of the best explanations of version conflict resolution in distributed storage.

The best engineers not only needs to write great code, they need to write the best documentations too :)

joshuak 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does chrome prompt me for keychain access on this page?

I'm not logged in, and it doesn't log me in.

Numenta open-sourced their Cortical Learning Algorithm numenta.org
25 points by p1esk  6 hours ago   8 comments top 3
eli_gottlieb 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok, so what does this mean to those of us who don't do deep neuroscience-based machine learning that often?

Basically, what problem (problems?) does this algorithm actually solve?

tlarkworthy 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmmm, the white paper is not very encouraging:-

What is NOT in this document:

- Although most aspects of the algorithms have been implemented and tested in software, none of the test results are currently included.

-There is no description of how the algorithms can be applied to practical problems. Missing is a description of how you would convert data from a sensor or database into a distributed representation suitable for the algorithms.

So until someone has tried it on something, we don't know how it will perform :s

volokoumphetico 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If I use this, could I make something that is better than machine learning using neural networks?
How Two Newspaper Reporters Helped Free an Innocent Man theatlantic.com
49 points by danso  11 hours ago   29 comments top 5
kmfrk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Another classic is Errol Morris's The Thin Blue line, which pioneered the reconstruction technique seen in many documentaries and non-fiction crime shows that followed.
danso 10 hours ago 2 replies      
So the wrongly accused man was physically in jail at the reported time of the murder, and yet the system moved forward to imprison him for nearly two decades...because of this:

> There was a lot at stake for the detectives, who said all eight defendants had confessed. Because all of them had implicated Daniel in the murders, if Daniels confession were to fall apart, the rest of the case would be in jeopardy.

I think this is a sobering anecdote to remember when wondering why a bureaucratic decision has been made despite flying in the face of pure logic and science.

cobrausn 10 hours ago 2 replies      
So, when a prosecutor / detective blatantly ignores contradictory evidence and end up putting an innocent person in jail, why do we not treat that as a crime? There are a number of obvious cynical answers to this, but seriously, does anyone know of prosecutors / detectives that have been charged in cases like this?
jere 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I just listened to this last night: http://www.thestory.org/stories/2013-06/scott-hornoff

An innocent cop went to prison for 6 years until the murderer came forward with a confession. There was basically no evidence to put him away, but he was having an affair with the victim at the time, which made him suspect number one. The part that really upset me was that he was basically unemployable after he came out. He was awarded $600k in backpay when released, but $200k went to his lawyer and the rest to his ex-wife.

m_myers 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the classic James Stewart film Call Northside 777 [1], about two Chicago men falsely imprisoned for a murder during Prohibition. The real-life case it was based on ([2]) hinged on a witness identification that occurred a day after the same witness had not recognized the suspect just after arrest; the police then recorded the suspect has having been arrested the second day and omitted the failure from the record.

Both men stayed in prison until a newspaper reporter discovered the case, just as in this article; in fact, one of the men was not released until several years after the movie was made.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Northside_777

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

The SCUMM Diary: Stories behind one of the greatest game engines ever made gamasutra.com
114 points by pmarin  17 hours ago   13 comments top 7
stuartmemo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
An example of SCUMM script from http://www.pagetable.com/?p=614

  actor sandy face-right  actor sandy do-animation reach  walk-actor razor to-object microwave-oven  start-script watch-edna  stop-script  stop-script watch-edna  say-line dave "Don't be a tuna head."  say-line selected-kid "I don't want to use that right now."  if (melt-down) {    say-line selected-kid "I don't think this game is very fun."  }

aylons 16 hours ago 2 replies      
As a hardware and platform engineer, I can relate to the very satisfying feeling that is making a tool that enable several projects beyond what you could do by yourself.

This is why a part of me dies everytime I read "full stack engineer". Not only it is imprecise, it sounds a little sad. I like being in the bottom layers of the stack, enabling several people in the others.

Scaevolus 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The ScummVM wiki has more details on how the SCUMM bytecode works: http://wiki.scummvm.org/index.php/SCUMM/Technical_Reference

One interesting feature is cooperative threading for up to 25 threads.

taeric 14 hours ago 0 replies      

    The name wasn't really trademarked, but we wanted to name it after another bodily fluid.
I love everything about the culture as I understand it there.

TheCraiggers 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing that always amazed me about SCUMM was that they managed to make Moonbase Commander in it, which was a turn-based strategy game with online multiplayer built in.

Granted, it does some weird stuff with the engine (to the point that, to my knowledge, no SCUMM emulator can play the game) but it still amazes me that the engine was that flexible.

Non-Von Neumann Supercomputer in an FPGA chrisfenton.com
7 points by luu  3 hours ago   discuss
       cached 31 August 2013 04:02:01 GMT