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Why Does Windows Have Terrible Battery Life? codinghorror.com
232 points by chrisdinn  4 hours ago   189 comments top 26
programminggeek 54 minutes ago 2 replies      
When you aren't creating the hardware, it is harder to care about power management in the software because that is seen as "someone else's problem". It is easy to blame things on terrible drivers or whatever, but no matter how you look at it, the product is worse as a result.

This is why Microsoft needs to keep building their own hardware like the Surface. As time goes on, if Microsoft does it right, Surface is going to be the best Windows experience. At least, I would hope so.

blinkingled 3 hours ago 6 replies      
Windows and Linux are general purpose OSes. The same kernel runs on high throughput servers and low power tablets. The apps are written with little focus on battery life. The drivers too. Microsoft doesn't write their own drivers and then there's firmware too. It's the one area where Apple has really taken advantage of the vertical integration - they do everything from firmware to most apps people use.

But both Windows and Linux are more than capable to get this all sorted. Like Google showed with the Nexus 7 - focus is all that's needed. It's just harder for Microsoft considering everything they need to juggle.

Edit: Fun fact: Apple's own Boot Camp drivers disable USB selective suspend on the 2013 Air! Check our powercfg /energy for more fun :)

Edit 2: Surface is Tegra 4 SoC isn't it? Microsoft still is limited by Tegra's power characteristics as far as what I can tell from Anand's review. So the integration story is better but still no match to Apple.

shubb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Surely a lot of this comes down to the screen?

Battery life varies greatly between e.g. Google Chromebook systems, running the same software (and between windows systems for that matter).

Some of this is to do with the power usage of the CPU, and whether video decoding is done in low power hardware, or which wireless chipset is used. But just looking at the power usage manager on your Android phone will tell you that the screen uses most of the power.

Windows hardware varies from high priced ultra books (where all is sacrificed for shininess and performance), to bargain bin systems where using an old backlighting technology saves a few bucks.

Question to Apple users - comparing windows laptops to your mac, which shipped with the more aggressive power saving settings in terms of turning the screen off when not in use?

mjg59 3 hours ago 4 replies      
Because Apple have custom ACPI methods for cutting power to unused components and Windows doesn't know how to call them.
optymizer 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Well, how about this: because MS doesn't care. It's too late, the code is too large and too old, the developers are too new, no one knows what's going on and this whole thing is a giant rolling monster with parts flying out every second, killing innocent batteries.
eknkc 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if Maverics will widen the gap further. It has that app suspension thing when some window goes invisible.

Also there are some decent performance improvements that would mean less cpu usage (or bursts of them, which is more power efficient).

Are there any benchmarks? Or is it still behind NDA?

sz4kerto 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Windows does not have a terrible battery life. That's so simple. The difference between OSX and Windows are related to drivers.

The charts are quite ridiculous in the article - comparing an Ivy Bridge, actively cooled laptop-tablet to a Nexus 7? Why?

BTW, the biggest difference is maybe CPU core hotplugging, this exists in Android and iOS but does not in Windows RT.

da_n 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Anecdotal, but on an older 11" MacBook Air I have a dual-boot with elementary OS (Ubuntu derivative) and I get around 20-30% better battery life with Linux than OS X (using laptop-mode-tools etc). I think this is probably due to all the iCloud crap going on with OS X these days, but I have no proof of that.
ohwp 3 hours ago 2 replies      
In the Windows prompt (admin mode) you can use the following command to monitor (it will generate a HTML file) energy usage (for 60 seconds):

  powercfg ENERGY
I can see some problems on my own system. For example "USB Suspend:USB Device not Entering Suspend"

Maybe misconfigurations like these are also causing more power consumption than needed.

JosephRedfern 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Surely this doesn't just affect mobile devices. If the OS causes a higher power drain, then it must be more expensive to run a Windows server than an OS X/Linux server.
16s 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Microsoft turned Windows 95 into a full-fledged multi-user operating system. Segmented user space? Unix had done that for years. All users where admin and it was horrible, but lot's of apps ran on it, so people bought it and used it. Then they merged Win95 into WinNT and gave us Windows 2000.

Now they are turning a full-fledged multi-user OS into a tablet OS. Let's make this tank into a bicycle. History tells us there will be a few painful years.

nathan_long 1 hour ago 0 replies      
To what degree does "worse battery life" mean "worse performance?" I suppose two possible wastes of energy are 1) powering components that should be sleeping 2) inefficient code.

Any of #2 would impact both.

hcho 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The short answer is polling. There's nothing better at draining a battery than infinite loops waiting for something to happen. I bet Windows have too many of those, remnant from the days where power consumption didn't matter because your PC is plugged into a socket at all times.
artagnon 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm curious to know how the latest Linux fares on a Macbook Air.
wolfgke 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the Windows Timer Resolution

> http://randomascii.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/windows-timer-re...

could explain this problem?

bni 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember from years ago writing Win32 programs, that it mostly consisted of an eventloop and you have a giant switch reacting to WM_* messages. On a deep level, does OSX apps work the same way?
frogpelt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why did he only highlight Surface Pro?

Windows RT on the Surface 2 appears to have better battery life than the Samsung Galaxy Tab (according to his chart).

Major_Grooves 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I bought a new HP laptop reecntly, with Windows 8 and touchscreen, to replace my dead Packard-Bell laptop. My old PB usually gave me about 4h battery life, and sometimes up to 6 hours. I was told my new laptop would give me 5-7h battery life, which seemed pretty good to me.

In reality I get 2.5 hours maximum. It's so bad that I actually returned the first one I got as I though something was wrong with it. Nope, 2.5 hours is it. Not even enough for a half-day working in a cafe.

So I guess 5-7h only applies if the screen is turned off, no programmes running and no wifi. Useful. :/

chatman 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Wondering how GNU/Linux distros (e.g. Fedora) stacks up against Windows 8 and OS X in terms of battery life.
devx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
When Windows 7 launched, I had a netbook with XP on it, on which I got about 5 hours on Wi-Fi with just browsing. I put Windows 7 on it, the battery life dropped to 3.5 hours, which is a huge 30 percent decrease. So it's incredible that Windows 8 has become even worse at battery life since then, instead of becoming better.
ZanyProgrammer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A Surface Pro is still fundamentally (well, it is, no ifs ands or buts about it) a tablet. There is no x86 tablet on the Mac side to compare it to, and I don't think you can compare one to the other. Sure, they may be the closest in function, but not in form. You'd really need a Surface ultrabook to compare the two.
fonnesbeck 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I didn't know Windows had a battery.
DZittersteyn 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Might it be that the Win7/Vista drivers for the MBA are worse that the OSX drivers?

We see the comparisons:Surface <-> iPad, OSX MBA <-> Win7/Vista MBA

Surface has different architecture than the iPad, so the battery difference is easily explained, and maybe driver support is just less than stellar, meaning HW isn't as efficient and/or doesn't scale back quickly enough?

I had an Asus laptop some years ago that would last 3 hours under Vista, and would be dead in the water in 1 hour under Ubuntu. I think it was either GPU or CPU scaling or both that wasn't supported in the linux drivers I was using

mathattack 4 hours ago 3 replies      
The issue has to be engineering. Is it a case of too much distance between the HW and SW people?
_wmd 3 hours ago 2 replies      
While the core subject seems fair enough, I'd expect Atwood not to be so utterly stupid by trying to swap out Apple OS X running on one of a highly restricted variety of Apple Mac hardware with a generic Windows install and expect the result to be competitive. That's boxes-with-arrows mentality at its worst right there.

In any 5 year period, Apple has a tiny list of exact hardware configurations OS X is designed to run on. It's so small, they even use the OS X software update mechanism to push BIOS updates! They have so much room to do better than Microsoft here it's barely even funny. This isn't an excuse for Microsoft's poor performance, but if you try to gloss over the fact as Atwood does here, then you're omitting the full truth.

sch1zo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess one problem is comparing apples with oranges. Meaning we can't compare Windows to OSX on the exact same hardware. The closest we get is running Windows via Bootcamp on a Macbook which seems to have its own issues (I don't have a Macbook but have read that multiple times.)
Post-mortem of a Dead-on-Arrival SaaS Product petekeen.net
69 points by zrail  2 hours ago   38 comments top 10
heliodor 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think the right pricing model for this one is freemium. People start using it, get addicted, then you charge them for extra storage once they go over a limit, like Dropbox and Workflowy.
bluedevil2k 1 hour ago 6 replies      
This was the biggest take-away from this article, one I've learned after wasting much time building my own SaaS "products". Launching without an audience means nobody shows up. It's a very true statement. One of my favorite sayings now, from Jason Cohen, is to get 30 people to fully commit to pay for your product before you even start coding it.
nonchalance 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
I apologize in advance if I sound snarky, but I (and I suspect many others here) hadn't heard of Marginalia until today. How much did you spend on ads and where did you advertise?
jh3 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Reasons why I would not pay for this (I'm a developer):

- I already keep notes in markdown using nValt. It's fast. And it's free.

- I sync these notes, which are just .markdown files in a directory on my machine, with Dropbox. Now I can edit these notes on my iDevices.

- Your service costs me money to do what I do for free.

- If I need more bells and whistles, I use Evernote. Evernote is also free for me.

- Emailing myself notes with tags in the subject in is also free.

Why should I spent $5/mo to use a digital journaling service, and then more time to make this service work with the rest of my workflow, when I already have things in place that take care of my note taking problem?

I would need a great incentive to switch how I take notes. I'm thinking a bunch of other developers thought the same thing.

Finally, at least you shipped something. Nice retrospective. Keep at it.

Edit: It's interesting seeing this post and "Ask HN: How do you store and organize your startup ideas?"[1] on the front page at the same time :)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6585375

bradhe 1 hour ago 3 replies      
You put it on HN and when it didn't move you gave up? What else did you try?
yohann305 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Thanks for posting the "behind the scenes" story.

You say you built a landing page with mailchimp signups for your new product. Did you get many signups? And I suppose these were just signups, no money involved, right? Did a good chunck turn into paying customers?

I would love to know more.

Thank You!

andyidsinga 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
its sort of silly, but one thing in the post that stood out for me was the $29/month for SSL and database.

It was a significant amount of money for this dev - but it could have been done even cheaper with the aws free tier and getting an ssl cert from somewhere like positivessl / commodo.

AznHisoka 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What was the initial reactions of people when they tried your product? Did they say they loved it and would want to use it everyday?
thebiglebrewski 34 minutes ago 1 reply      
Great post Pete, I'm really enjoying your Stripe + Rails book. Keep it up!
alkagupta0309 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
The Idea is nice but I wouldn't pay for it mainly because of the reasons stated by Pete Keen and another reason:When I have free tools to be doing the exact same things, why would I want to pay?If I had to launch a SaaS product, I would definitely create a buzz about it amongst my peers and give free subscription for a limited period enough to get the user used to the new idea.
NYTimes's Pogue going to Yahoo pogueman.tumblr.com
28 points by nirvanatikku  48 minutes ago   8 comments top 4
ChikkaChiChi 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
Another shining example of ethics in journalism.

If you start small, write glowing reviews of products and company directives so that you get invited to pressers and tours, and maybe someday you too can get invited to go work inside the very companies the public trusted you to cover in an unbiased fashion! Be careful though, anything under 4.5 out of 5 stars and you might get a phone call from the PR department expressing their disappointment while they take you off of their most exclusive lists.

Congresspeople who take jobs as lobbyists after their terms in office are synonymous with journalists who join companies they covered "in the public's interest" during their professional careers.

(Disclaimer: I'm not saying that this was Pogue's position re: Yahoo. This is a rampant problem in new and old media in general.)

cake 1 minute ago 0 replies      
This is big news, Pogue was/is one of the most important tech writer in my own opinion. He has a good approach of dumbing down tech products for the average joe despite beeing very knowledgeable.

I guess it is showing a shift from Yahoo to be a quality content producer.

Samuel_Michon 22 minutes ago 3 replies      
Yahoo has regained its position as the #1 most visited Web site on earth.

Is that true? Is it really visited more often than Facebook, Google, Twitter, or YouTube? Alexa doesnt agree[1].

According to a recent article[2], Yahoo is the most popular website in 2 regions: Japan and Hong Kong.

[1] http://www.alexa.com/topsites

[2] http://www.fastcocreate.com/3019595/creativity-by-the-number...

outside1234 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
"... plus they gave me a ton of money."
France summons U.S. ambassador over spying report reuters.com
112 points by stfu  3 hours ago   45 comments top 9
hbbio 2 hours ago 2 replies      
It's pretty hilarious situation after France denied fly-zone to the Bolivian Presidential aircraft this summer when they "feared" that Snowden might be inside...

Voltaire said something like:"God, please protect me from my friends. I take care of my enemies."

jusben1369 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The whole thing's just awkward. All of these agencies understand and know that this is going on. But when concrete evidence is given to the public they have to call in ambassador's and do this whole "this is terrible!" song and dance. Then it's back to normal.
rtpg 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly off topic, but what frustrates me about all this is that there is absolutely no outrage in France about the DGSE's absolutely heinous practices in this domain. Complete domestic surveillance without ANY legal framework whatsoever, not even some stage court like FISA court.
oelmekki 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> Le Monde's revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec 10, 2012 and Jan 8, 2013

Fun fact about that : this number is actually bigger than french population (~ 66M).

p4bl0 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It would be quite ironic (but sadly, not impossible) if the technologies (like 0days, massive traffic analysis tools, DPI tools, etc.) used by the NSA to spy on France were some of the numerous that are sold to them by French companies like Vupen, Amesys, Qosmos
jbogp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We should have stuck to our beloved Minitel


walshemj 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
French foreign minster "I'm shocked, shocked to find that spying is going on in here!"

NSA spook in black shades hands a usb stick to the Minister "your info on Angles strategy for the next eu summit"

French foreign minster (sote voce) "Oh, thank you very much."

ajays 1 hour ago 1 reply      
To paraphrase a famous line: I'm shocked, shocked that there's spying going on!

Snark aside: what may have riled French feathers is the fact that NSA spied on politicians too. I bet they have lots of blackmail stuff.

gelnior 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Frenches don't really worry about that, they are already building the next generation of personal cloud ;) http://cozy.io
CryptoSeal (YC S11) Shutting Down Private VPN cryptoseal.com
74 points by Udo  3 hours ago   52 comments top 9
Udo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I was just trying to sign in to my account, as I was greeted with this:

"CryptoSeal Privacy Consumer VPN service terminated with immediate effect

With immediate effect as of this notice, CryptoSeal Privacy, our consumer VPN service, is terminated. All cryptographic keys used in the operation of the service have been zerofilled, and while no logs were produced (by design) during operation of the service, all records created incidental to the operation of the service have been deleted to the best of our ability.

Essentially, the service was created and operated under a certain understanding of current US law, and that understanding may not currently be valid. As we are a US company and comply fully with US law, but wish to protect the privacy of our users, it is impossible for us to continue offering the CryptoSeal Privacy consumer VPN product.

Specifically, the Lavabit case, with filings released by Kevin Poulsen of Wired.com (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/801182-redacted-plea...) reveals a Government theory that if a pen register order is made on a provider, and the provider's systems do not readily facilitate full monitoring of pen register information and delivery to the Government in realtime, the Government can compel production of cryptographic keys via a warrant to support a government-provided pen trap device. Our system does not support recording any of the information commonly requested in a pen register order, and it would be technically infeasible for us to add this in a prompt manner. The consequence, being forced to turn over cryptographic keys to our entire system on the strength of a pen register order, is unreasonable in our opinion, and likely unconstitutional, but until this matter is settled, we are unable to proceed with our service.

We encourage anyone interested in this issue to support Ladar Levison and Lavabit in their ongoing legal battle. Donations can be made at https://rally.org/lavabit We believe Lavabit is an excellent test case for this issue.

We are actively investigating alternative technical ways to provide a consumer privacy VPN service in the future, in compliance with the law (even the Government's current interpretation of pen register orders and compelled key disclosure) without compromising user privacy, but do not have an estimated release date at this time.

To our affected users: we are sincerely sorry for any inconvenience. For any users with positive account balances at the time of this action, we will provide 1 year subscriptions to a non-US VPN service of mutual selection, as well as a refund of your service balance, and free service for 1 year if/when we relaunch aconsumer privacy VPN service. Thank you for your support, and we hope this will ease the inconvenience of our service terminating.

For anyone operating a VPN, mail, or other communications provider in the US, we believe it would be prudent to evaluate whether a pen register order could be used to compel you to divulge SSL keys protecting message contents, and if so, to take appropriate action."

amirmc 1 hour ago 3 replies      
To the founders of CryptoSeal. When you first set up, did you consider not being a US headquartered company? If so, what were the overriding factors that made you stay US-based?

I ask because in a recent blog post from Silent Circle (a secure comms company), they explicitly state "we are not a U.S firm" [1]. I'm beginning to think any company that wants to offer security products like this has to place their Global HQ outside the US's legal jurisdiction. I doubt it solves all the problems but it probably helps to some extent.

[1] http://silentcircle.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/one-heck-of-a-y...

mike-cardwell 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're gonna publish something with a PGP signature. At least make sure it's valid:

  mike@glue:~$ wget -q -O - https://privacy.cryptoseal.com/ | gpg --verify  gpg: Signature made Mon 07 Oct 2013 12:38:07 BST using DSA key ID D2E0301F  gpg: BAD signature from "Ryan Lackey <rdl@icloud.com>"  mike@glue:~$

gonzo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
We're currently sitting a a version of pfSense 2.1 that can run on EC2. (Ob disclosure, I own over half of ESF, the company behind pfSense.)

Amazon said they didn't want anything powered by FreeBSD in AWS. There are currently negotiations about running on a larger instance that supports the HVM, and avoids the 'Windows tax', but there are significant usage fees for that tier (today thats the cluster compute and M3 instances) as well.

We could release a variant of the AMI as a "public" AMI. It wouldn't be in AWS then, but it would be available. If your account is new enough, it would allow a completely free VPN service on Amazon's "free tier".

It would also allow people to setup their own VPN service (OpenVPN and IPSEC are both fully supported.) Hosting on top of EC2 isn't perfect (there are possible key recovery attacks from others hosted on the same infrastructure), but, correctly configured, Law Enforcement would need more than a pen register order to obtain anything beyond the enclosing IP packet data. Since, in theory, you would be your own provider, the FBI (or an equivalent in other EC2 zones) would have a higher burden to install even a pen register.

My question is: should we bother? Anyone with sufficient clue could setup a linux instance to do the same thing.

Beltiras 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Come to Iceland. Law is on your side here and the infrastructure is coming along.
beaker52 2 hours ago 2 replies      
With every shut down in a similar vein, I weep and fear for the future.
dingaling 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Perhaps I'm being daft, but I'm struggling to see the connection between SSL certs ( per the Lavabit scenario ) and a VPN service.

Didn't they have an IPSec cert for each individual subscriber?

If not.. I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere near them if they were using one keypair for all traffic.

Public-facing websites are usually dependent on a single server cert because they can't easily provide a separate client cert for everyone who visits. A private, subscription-based service should not be using that model and thus should not have encountered the 'Lavabit Paradox'.

Neither should Lavabit, but I digress.

rnts08 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
Https://simple-vpn.com, why deal with us companies for security services?
Udo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You literally signed up five minutes ago just to post these wild allegations.
Show HN: Visualise the structure of a spreadsheet slateforexcel.com
23 points by crrashby  1 hour ago   12 comments top 2
shorbaji 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting. As I understand it, you use a spreadsheet as input and then create the data flow diagram. I certainly see how seeing the data flow diagram means better clarity and error-finding. So here is a question for you? What if we take it a step further and have users actually entered their complex spreadsheets in a tidy graphical data flow diagram which mapped back?
crrashby 42 minutes ago 3 replies      
I've been working on this myself and would really love to get some feedback.Would this be useful for the problems you have with Excel?
The End of Stanford? newyorker.com
58 points by mjfern  2 hours ago   30 comments top 15
ryguytilidie 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Since every comment seems to want to point to Stanford's rich history, diverse degrees and entrepreneurial excitement (I'm not doubting that Stanford has all of these things) Let me try to make something clear: The author isn't taking issue with any of those things. The author is taking issue with 20 year olds who have spent 50-100k on their education being asked to drop out for a .1% stake in a company so they can make their professor million. It is a very obvious conflict of interest, great school or not.
teuobk 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Sensationalist hogwash. Stanford continues to be strong as a research university, and not just in engineering. Consider that two of this year's Nobel laureates were Stanford professors: one in medicine, one in chemistry. Think about the very strong history program, or the fine arts, or the (surprising) presence of the conservative Hoover Institution. In the years I spent as a student, I saw plenty of entrepreneurial excitement, but I also experienced excellence in areas far removed from the worlds of business, venture capital, and software.

Stanford is a diverse place. Just because a small number of students are dropping out to start companies doesn't mean that the end of the university is nigh.

kylec 1 hour ago 3 replies      

    Shouldn't it be a place to drift, to think, to read, to meet new people,    and to work at whatever inspires you?
This article does bring up a valid point, but it seems that the author is also blinded by his romantic notion of what a university should be.

hemancuso 1 hour ago 1 reply      
A dozen out of 17k and students and academic staff. Great story.

This interaction between industry and academia has long been one of Stanford's greatest strengths. There is no Silicon Valley without Stanford, and that didn't happen overnight or even lately.

Sure, CS is once again an absurdly popular major as it has been in the past. But with Stanford you don't have to choose between Harvard & MIT, you get both ['04 CS, color me biased].

RyanMcGreal 1 hour ago 1 reply      
bbrunner 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
As someone who graduated from Stanford pretty recently (2012), I can tell you that this is utterly ridiculous. Anecdotally, I would say there is a strong split between people who are insanely motivated to pursue a startup and people who think starting a company is a dumb trend motivated by naivet.

Is Stanford a strong STEM school? Definitely. But if you take two seconds to actually look at the degrees that students end up earning (http://ucomm.stanford.edu/cds/2011.html#degrees), you get a picture of a much more well-balanced environment.

noelwelsh 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Stanford are doing more than most to kill the traditional university (see Coursera and Udacity). It's only natural that Stanford-the-institution should be trying to change the model so it can survive. It isn't clear to me that giving students learning opportunities likes running a real company with real investors is a bad use of a university.
michaelochurch 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it not obvious to anyone else that Clinkle was secretly funded and supported by Stanford haters specifically to humiliate that university? There is no other explanation.

Clinkle's not worth taking seriously in any context, and its existence does not establish anything, much less "the end of Stanford".

calinet6 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As a Berkeley grad, never was I happier to see a headline.

Up with the Blue and Gold, down with the red!

tghw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
While I agree this is a somewhat troubling trend, it is also ignoring the vast majority of students who go there and get an education as expected. It does seem that some conflict of interest rules should be put in place, but the hyperbole of the article weakens its case.
tomasien 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I rather enjoyed this post, but what a ridiculous premise. "There's a few great startups to come out of here over the last 100 years, the other thousands of students must feel the pressure to drop out!" I mean, what?
leoh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Stanford can be a very empowering place, no matter what you study.
cafard 1 hour ago 1 reply      
For how many students is this picture of Stanford recognizable? (I have never been nearer Stanford than the SF airport, so the question isn't entirely rhetorical.)
kmfrk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The article's from April.
NN88 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
Holy Hyperbole!
Dear Startups: stop asking me math puzzles to figure out if I can code countaleph.wordpress.com
471 points by brryant  10 hours ago   206 comments top 50
tokenadult 3 hours ago 4 replies      
There are many discussions here on HN about company hiring procedures. Company hiring procedures and their effectiveness is a heavily researched topic, but most hiring managers and most job applicants haven't looked up much of the research. After reading the blog post kindly submitted here and some of its comments, and then reading most of the comments here on HN that came in while I was asleep in my time zone, it looks like it's time to recycle some electrons from a FAQ I'm building about company hiring procedures.

The review article by Frank L. Schmidt and John E. Hunter, "The Validity and Utility of Selection Models in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings,"[1] Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 124, No. 2, 262-274 sums up, current to 1998, a meta-analysis of much of the huge peer-reviewed professional literature on the industrial and organizational psychology devoted to business hiring procedures. There are many kinds of hiring criteria, such as in-person interviews, telephone interviews, resume reviews for job experience, checks for academic credentials, personality tests, and so on. There is much published study research on how job applicants perform after they are hired in a wide variety of occupations.[2]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: If you are hiring for any kind of job in the United States, with its legal rules about hiring, prefer a work-sample test as your hiring procedure. If you are hiring in most other parts of the world, use a work-sample test in combination with a general mental ability test.

The overall summary of the industrial psychology research in reliable secondary sources is that two kinds of job screening procedures work reasonably well. One is a general mental ability (GMA) test (an IQ-like test, such as the Wonderlic personnel screening test). Another is a work-sample test, where the applicant does an actual task or group of tasks like what the applicant will do on the job if hired. (But the calculated validity of each of the two best kinds of procedures, standing alone, is only 0.54 for work sample tests and 0.51 for general mental ability tests.) Each of these kinds of tests has about the same validity in screening applicants for jobs, with the general mental ability test better predicting success for applicants who will be trained into a new job. Neither is perfect (both miss some good performers on the job, and select some bad performers on the job), but both are better than any other single-factor hiring procedure that has been tested in rigorous research, across a wide variety of occupations. So if you are hiring for your company, it's a good idea to think about how to build a work-sample test into all of your hiring processes.

Because of a Supreme Court decision in the United States (the decision does not apply in other countries, which have different statutes about employment), it is legally risky to give job applicants general mental ability tests such as a straight-up IQ test (as was commonplace in my parents' generation) as a routine part of hiring procedures. The Griggs v. Duke Power, 401 U.S. 424 (1971) case[3] interpreted a federal statute about employment discrimination and held that a general intelligence test used in hiring that could have a "disparate impact" on applicants of some protected classes must "bear a demonstrable relationship to successful performance of the jobs for which it was used." In other words, a company that wants to use a test like the Wonderlic, or like the SAT, or like the current WAIS or Stanford-Binet IQ tests, in a hiring procedure had best conduct a specific validation study of the test related to performance on the job in question. Some companies do the validation study, and use IQ-like tests in hiring. Other companies use IQ-like tests in hiring and hope that no one sues (which is not what I would advise any company). Note that a brain-teaser-type test used in a hiring procedure could be challenged as illegal if it can be shown to have disparate impact on some job applicants. A company defending a brain-teaser test for hiring would have to defend it by showing it is supported by a validation study demonstrating that the test is related to successful performance on the job. Such validation studies can be quite expensive. (Companies outside the United States are regulated by different laws. One other big difference between the United States and other countries is the relative ease with which workers may be fired in the United States, allowing companies to correct hiring mistakes by terminating the employment of the workers they hired mistakenly. The more legal protections a worker has from being fired, the more reluctant companies will be about hiring in the first place.)

The social background to the legal environment in the United States is explained in various books about hiring procedures,[4] and some of the social background appears to be changing in the most recent few decades, with the prospect for further changes.[5]

Previous discussion on HN pointed out that the Schmidt & Hunter (1998) article showed that multi-factor procedures work better than single-factor procedures, a summary of that article we can find in the current professional literature, for example "Reasons for being selective when choosing personnel selection procedures"[6] (2010) by Cornelius J. Knig, Ute-Christine Klehe, Matthias Berchtold, and Martin Kleinmann:

"Choosing personnel selection procedures could be so simple: Grab your copy of Schmidt and Hunter (1998) and read their Table 1 (again). This should remind you to use a general mental ability (GMA) test in combination with an integrity test, a structured interview, a work sample test, and/or a conscientiousness measure."

But the 2010 article notes, looking at actual practice of companies around the world, "However, this idea does not seem to capture what is actually happening in organizations, as practitioners worldwide often use procedures with low predictive validity and regularly ignore procedures that are more valid (e.g., Di Milia, 2004; Lievens & De Paepe, 2004; Ryan, McFarland, Baron, & Page, 1999; Scholarios & Lockyer, 1999; Schuler, Hell, Trapmann, Schaar, & Boramir, 2007; Taylor, Keelty, & McDonnell, 2002). For example, the highly valid work sample tests are hardly used in the US, and the potentially rather useless procedure of graphology (Dean, 1992; Neter & Ben-Shakhar, 1989) is applied somewhere between occasionally and often in France (Ryan et al., 1999). In Germany, the use of GMA tests is reported to be low and to be decreasing (i.e., only 30% of the companies surveyed by Schuler et al., 2007, now use them)."














tommorris 5 hours ago 11 replies      
Here's the test I've used in the past:

Before the interview, I ask them to write some code to access an HTTP endpoint that contains exchange rate data (USD, EUR, GBP, JPY etc.) in XML and to parse and load said data into a relational database. Then to build a very simple HTML form based front-end that lets you input a currency and convert it into another currency.

I ask them to send me either a link to a repository (Git, SVN etc.) or a zipball/tarball. If the job specifies a particular language, then I obviously expect it to be in that language. If not, so long as it isn't in something crazy like Brainfuck, they have free range.

If the code works and is basically sane, that goes a long way to get them shortlisted.

During the interview, I'll pull the code they sent up on a projector and ask them to self-review it. If they can figure out things that need improving in their code, that weighs heavily in their favour. Usually this is things like comments/documentation, tests, improving the structure or reusability. If it's really good, I'll throw a hypothetical idea for refactoring at them and see how they think.

The reason this works is that, despite Hacker News/Paul Graham dogma to the contrary, "smartness" isn't the only thing that matters in programmers. It's actually fairly low down the list. When hiring programmers, I want people who are actually able to do the daily practical job of writing code, modest and self-critical enough to spot their own mistakes, and socially capable to actually communicate their decisions and mistakes to the people they work with.

I interviewed a guy who was intellectually very smart and understood a lot about CS theory. I asked him why the PHP code he sent me didn't have any comments. "I don't believe in comments because they slow the PHP interpreter down." Sorry, he can be smarter than Einstein but I ain't letting him near production code.

mcphilip 8 hours ago 1 reply      
After much experimentation giving interviews for server side positions, I've come to favor questions that involve routine real world problems that can be handled in increasingly sophisticated ways.

One example I use is getting the candidate to write crud, list, and search controller actions for a simple category data structure. Given a basic category data model (e.g. Name, Parent), the candidate starts with the crud actions.

Crud actions aren't meant to be difficult to solve and serve as a basic screener to verify the candidate has working knowledge of the basics. The only edge case I look for the candidate to ask about is if orphaning child nodes is allowed (I.e updating parent node, deleting a node with children)

List action(s) start getting more interesting since recursion comes into play. A basic implementation of an action that can load the tree given an arbitrary category as a starting point is expected. If the candidate has some prior experience, a discussion of what performance concerns they may have with loading the category tree is a follow up question. The tree loading algorithm is then expected to be revised to handle an optional max depth parameter. An edge case I look to be considered is how to signify in the action response that a category has one or more child nodes that weren't loaded due to a depth restriction.

The search action implementation has a degree of difficulty scaled to the candidates experience level. All candidates have to write an action that returns a collection of categories matching a search string. Those with previous experience are asked about a paging solution. Senior level candidates are asked to return matching categories in a format that indicates all ancestors ( for instance: "Category 1 -> Category 1.1 -> Category 1.1.1" result for search string "1.1.1")

For an added degree of difficulty, candidates can be asked to recommend data model tweaks and algorithms supporting tree versioning requirements necessary to allow for loading the category tree's state at a given point in time.

The candidate's performance to this exercise seems to give some insight into their level of experience and ability to implement algorithms from a common real world example without having to ask much trivia or logic problems.

rdtsc 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Two possible reasons:

1) I think a lot of start-ups want to hire "smart" people. Because they expect the new person to eventually wear many hats. Objective-C, Java, Android, CSS, server side concurrency, monitoring. An we've all seen Hunter and Schmidt reference that tokenadult usually posts when talk about interviewing comes around and it does seem that a general mental ability test (like an IQ test) combined with a work samples seem to predict future performance of that employee. Well except that one can't just straight up give IQ test to job applicants (there is a court case about that). So we are left with a job sample (which many forget to give, as is the point of the author). But instead many focus on the GMA and create proxies for it -- cute little puzzles about blenders, round manhole covers, and other such silly things.

2) Those interviewing don't know the technical stuff and are afraid you'd out-bullshit them. "How does an Ajax request work" well if the interviewer themselves doesn't quite know the details the might not be able to evaluate it properly. They could have it written down but well, some technical questions have many different levels of depth that a candidate might descent to. So a quick written answer to the question might seem wrong but it is really because the candidate is more advanced. So puzzles seems to be a generic and "easier" to handle.

ek 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> Spoiler alert: to solve this problem, you need to know how to enumerate the rationals.

This problem was addressed nicely in this functional pearl by Jeremy Gibbons, et al.: http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/jeremy.gibbons/publications/rationals... . As interesting as the result is, however, it's a pretty well-made point that research-level ideas from the programming languages community are not really software engineering interview material in the vast majority of cases.

This is yet another example of "rockstar developer"-itis, wherein startups are given to believe that they need the best of the best when in fact they do not. This particular example is entirely egregious because they asked her about something that requires enumerating the rationals when what they really wanted was an iOS code monkey. Then they fired her, based on their own shoddy interview.

Xylakant 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I actually like asking math questions on interviews. It shows how people approach a problem. Asking code questions in an arbitrary interview setting shows just about nothing - no access to a reference doc, somebody peering over your shoulder. Heck, I couldn't code my way out of a wet paperback in that setting.

Certainly, asking only math questions is stupid as well, people should know at least a little about the stuff they're supposed to work with, but teaching an actual language to a smart person eager to learn is a breeze compared to teaching problem solving to someone who memorized the reference manual.

dpiers 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Hiring engineers is hard, and companies haven't really figured it out yet. Even the best companies rely on puzzles and gimmicks that often have little to do with day-to-day programming.

At one company I interviewed with, I was asked to implement a queue using two stacks. At that time in my programming career, I had worked with C, C++, Obj-C, Lua, Python, JavaScript, SQL, and a handful of DSLs developing games, game development tools, and web applications. Want to know what I had never done? Written a queue using two stacks. My immediate response to the question was, "Why would you want to do that?"

If you really want to know if someone has the capacity to pull their weight as an engineer, ask them about what they've built. Even if they are fresh out of college, the best engineers will have projects they can talk about and explain. Ask how they approached/solved specific problems. Ask what they're most proud of building. Ask what was most frustrating.

Those are the kind of questions that will provide insight into a person's problem solving capabilities and offer a decent picture of what they're capable of doing.

jroseattle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm dealing with this now, having been interviewing for different engineering roles over the past two months. It hasn't been as bad as straight-up conceptual math problems, but there have been plenty of questions that I have questioned for validity.

Interviewer: "How can we optimize the character replacement in a string such that we use no extra memory?" Me: "We do this and that and this. But, should we consider what situations we would need this optimization?" Interviewer: "What? Why?"

I can now use this as a filter as I interview organizations. Optimizing algorithms by creating your own core data structure classes (instead of using the built-in ones) is great in certain circumstances, but an absolute waste of time in many others. And if you're not going to ask me about those times when making those improvements is important, then you're not asking questions for a programmer -- you're asking them for a theoretician who can recall syntax.

It's poor practice, and I've seen it everywhere.

x0054 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Here is an interesting idea that I had reading this. As a startup, what if you were to create a simple computer language that looked different from most other computer languages, at least somewhat different. Alternatively, just use one of the many really obscure programming languages out there, just make sure the applicant does not know it ahead of time. Give the applicant a 10-20 page reference manual for the language and ask them to make a simple program of some sort. Have them read the manual and write the program, hopefully while not looking over their shoulder, so they can relax. In the manual you give them omit one critical function or API reference, but make sure that info is available online (make it available if you made up the language). Then see what happens.

This would test programmers ability to learn a new language.

DigitalSea 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I failed mathematics in school, for the life of me I can't grasp them beyond the basics, but give me laptop and a copy of Sublime and I'll code anything you want. I can code, but I would fail any mathematical test given to me. This kind of approach has always bothered me, there are a lot of good developers out there bad at maths but posses strong problem-solving and highly analytical skills.

Being a developer is 80% Google and 20% actual coding knowledge. We are hackers at the end of the day, not miniature Einstein's with encyclopaedias for brains.

morgante 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It is rather unfortunate how little correlation most tech interviews have with their respective jobs. It's largely a lose-lose situation for everyone. Developers who could easily build great systems but aren't experts in graph theory get passed over while brilliant mathematicians who can't necessarily code get hired. Result? Companies simultaneously having to fire employees while facing a supposed talent crunch. Given that this hurts everyone, how did we even get into this situation?

Probably because the only person who doesn't lose from this is the interviewer: they get to have fun. Honestly, when you spend all day buried in code, it's fun to play with puzzles for a change.

Perhaps it's time we started optimizing interviews for hiring success rather than interviewer happiness.

jph 9 hours ago 4 replies      
> Breadth-first search from both ends.

I believe this is deeply valuable. For some roles, I would much prefer to hire someone who can quickly see the value of breadth-first search from both ends.

If he/she doesn't happen to know the syntax of Ruby, or Java, etc. it's less important to me.

lotsofcows 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree. But for a different reason: I'm shit at maths puzzles.

I just don't have the experience or tools or interest for them.

And yet, somehow, in 20 years of business geekery I've never come across a problem I can't solve.

Maybe when writing Tetris for J2ME I would have saved myself 10 minutes googling if I'd had the experience to realise that right angle based matrix translations don't require fp maths and maybe when writing financial indicators, I'd have saved myself half a day if I hadn't had to look up integrals but this sort of stuff is definitely in the minority as far as my experience goes.

Beltiras 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny. Just made a hire and this story made me think of it.

The position I was filling is a part-time position for a CS major, sort of like an internship. I devote time to develop his/her skills, s/he would get real-world experience, and a little money to help with cost of living. If everything works out, a position could open up for full employment.

I had a pretty good idea what I was looking for. Someone that had good grasp on theory but had no experience coding. Preferably enrolled in Uni. I had 5 applicants but the only candidate I interviewed is enrolled in Math-CS.

I basically tried to gauge if he had deep interests and asked him to code a bit, solve a simple control (find me the article with the highest hitcount from the day a week ago, gave him 10 minutes).

He failed the coding test but I made the hire regardless. Reason why was 2 things out of the 4 hours we spent together: When I asked him who he considered the father of CS he rattled off von Neuman, Djikstra and Knuth. Yeah, you can make that argument I suppose, but he knew who the influential people were. The other thing was: even if he failed the coding test he failed it by not reading the code examples quite right, he was using my code to try to help himself solve the problem. I'm sure he'll work out.

We as a field should employ internships a lot more than we do, get the college kids and undergrads working on real-world problems a lot more than we do.

biot 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Math puzzles are great if the problem is easily understood, the solution achievable without a math degree, and you ask them to solve it by writing code.

For example: "This database contains 100,000 problems with standardized parameters. The problem definition is defined in the file spec.txt which you can grab from our code repository. Write the code to solve these problems efficiently, passing each solution to a remote service via POSTing to a REST API, the documentation for which you can find here. Bonus points for parallel execution. Feel free to use any editor/IDE and reference online documentation, Stack Overflow, etc. that you want. If anything's not clear or you need a hand with something, just ask as you would if you were an employee already. Ready to get started?"

The great thing is that once you've identified a candidate, you can do remote screen sharing and have them write code before they even have to come into the office. I've interviewed a fair number of remote people this way and it's excellent for weeding out the people who can talk the talk but can't program worth a damn. And it limits bias because you don't care about much beyond their communication ability plus their technical ability.

mrcactu5 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks like Emma's math prowess is working against her. It's ironic the app developers - who need her help the most - are pushing her away.

OK, so there is a difference between computer science and programming. that's why there are two different stack-exchanges:

  cs.stackexchange.com  stackoverflow.com
And we can make even finer distinctions if we wanted to.

it's actually really fucking INCREDIBLE that

* you can know tons of CS without being able to build a decent app* you can a decent facebook clone without having any idea how it works

I feel really bad for Emma. I was a math major, but app developers won't even look at me b/c I'm not a full-stack whatever. So now I'm a Data Scientist at an advertising firm in Puerto Rico.

logicallee 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
The thing is, these questions are a filter against everyone who is qualified to code, who has a major in CS. The assumption is pretty much everyone can code: but who can really think? (logically etc).

Among people who can code, don't you think that those who understand math can do something deeper (e.g. prove to themselves that code does what they think) than those who can't?

I suppose that it would be fair to exclude math majors without CS background as false positives, and make them prove they can code as well. But OP's CS degree ("So I became a math and CS double-major") should have more than taught them how to code.

If you have a major in CS then you should know how to code. It sounds like the real thing that let OP down is receiving the title of CS major without the skills and understanding to back it up. How did this happen?

How did the OP become any less qualified than any other CS major? Was it by taking math classes instead of database classes to fulfill the requirements?

It sounds like OP was a bit let down by the school's granting of a major in CS (as opposed to a minor) and employers using it as a false signal to not even check for code: of course if someone is a CS major you will not make them actually code anything up. You just want to know if they can think or not.

Does this describe a CS major to you:


Some more relevant things they couldve asked me, but didnt:

How comfortable are you with Unix?

I can change directories, list things, and run Python programs. Oh! And rename files. Probably.

Describe how Ajax calls work.

Umm, isnt that what Gmail uses? Its like, refreshing the page without refreshing the whole page?

What version control systems are you familiar with?

Oh, we used SVN for our senior thesis project. I accidentally triggered a conflict one time. Someone fixed it for me.

How would you implement a [deck of cards, public garage, hotel reservation system] using object-oriented design?

Variables. Variables everywhere. With counts. And maybe some strings.

Absolutely anything at all about databases.



It sounds like her school seriously should consider their requirements for a double-major!

rexreed 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're running a startup, the most important thing to hire for is fit. Do they fit in your culture? Do they fit a need that will help you achieve your milestones? Do they fit in the overall growth trajectory of your company? Do they have competency in the specific area you are hiring for and/or where your startup is building overall competency? Can they manage themselves and their time well?

The likelihood of failure of a startup approaches 100%, so you should optimize for likelihood of survival, not for IQ.

If you're not a startup, then the top ranked comment applies. But it doesn't really otherwise.

lucasnemeth 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe there is some kind of inferiority complex, we don't believe software engineering is actually worth it. Probably, it is the result of an academic mindset that is taught at colleges, where the applied fields are seen as less important than the "pure" ones. But good software engineering, that is, writing complex systems, with a lot of requirements, maintainable, scalable, nice APIs, etc. it's very, very hard. And we know it!If we applied our hiring methods to writers, we would be asking them to improvise a rap rhyme, when we wanted to hire a novelist.
keithgabryelski 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My observation is that a lot of interviews come down to "stump the chump" questions; a question that is meant to show a single issue the interviewee has under their belt and is used to gauge the entirety of the interviewer's ability. Math puzzles/logic puzzles are in the same category: they require domain knowledge that probably doesn't translate to any job I've ever worked on.

That aside, one must have a way to measure the abilities of a candidate -- and asking the same set of questions to many people allows you to compare the answers as apples to apples.

I generally don't restrict my people from asking any particular question, but I will ask them to consider what a failed answer really means for the specific job (questions are generally adjusted then).

As an aside, some questions of mine that aren't specifically about coding:

* do you code outside of work (a love of coding translates to good coders)

* send me a link to some code you've written that you are proud of (let see what you got)

* tell me about a problem you had where your solution wasn't correct (how have you dealt with failure).

rehack 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is a great post. And also from the other side of the fence. As typically we see, these kind of posts, from people who did not like Math puzzles, and as a result suffered in the interview rounds.

But this one talks about getting inadvertent benefit of being good in Maths to get selected for programming, and suffering the consequences later on.

Also, it highlights the importance of what is mostly taken for granted and thought of as mundane stuff, of programming - the idiosyncrasies, jargon, and best practices of various languages and OS environs.

10098 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear god, what kind of startup hires a person with only basic Java and Python knowledge, then hands them K&R and expects them to churn out production-quality code?! That's unfair.
michaelpinto 9 hours ago 8 replies      
After reading this I have a dumb question: The person behind the post is a CS major but only played a little bit with the C programming language in college is this pretty common these days?
Tyrannosaurs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
On one hand I completely agree, on the other my experience of most CS graduates is that you can't code, at least not in the way that anyone codes in the real world so it's not a great thing to spend too much time on. That's not the fault of most graduates, it's what and how they're taught. Most people coming out of university know a little bit about a lot of languages and theories. That's good for giving them an overview but not great when it comes to having actual usable skills on day one.

Because of this I've pretty much given up on hiring graduates based on their technical skills so instead I'm looking for someone smart, who gets that they've got a lot to learn, who is interested in technology and can get on with the other people in the team.

I don't think asking people math questions per se is a great idea, but if you've studied a maths degree it's a good way of working out if you're smart and if you were paying any attention at all during university.

(Incidentally this may be different in other countries (I'm in the UK) or in a company where you're able to attract the very best who have picked up really solid skills, but for most organisations that's not the case as most graduates spent more of their own time in the bar than coding.)

mindwork 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I am stopping to talk with people who ask for such a bs.

Check out the last technical interview task that I got```Objective:Write a program that prints out a multiplication table of the first 10 prime numbers.The program must run from the command line and print to screen one table.

Notes: - DO NOT use a library method for Prime (write your own)- Use Tests. TDD/BDD- IMPRESS US.```

I mean I can impress you but how will this correlate with production code?

gregjor 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is sadly common in a community keen on logic, evidence, and avoiding fallacies in thinking. Worse than puzzles are pointless faux psychological screening questions like "Tell me about something painful that has happened to you and how you dealt with it."

I would (and have) asked if the interviewer or organization has any evidence to show that interview puzzle performance (or shit like Myers-Brigg) predicts job performance. No? Not surprising. Google did look into it and found no relationship. (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-google-hires-2013-6)

Programmer interviews are so crazy and sometimes sadistic that I catalogued some of the more common interview patterns:


cicatriz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a writeup about a recent study that showed interviewers couldn't predict GPA any better when the interviewees answers were accurate versus random: http://www.danielwillingham.com/1/post/2013/10/why-job-inter...

Anyone who supports math puzzles (or whatever else) in an interview would have to argue that their perception of the candidates performance offers a clear enough data point that it doesn't dilute other information available to them. Given Google's study finding data otherwise, they certainly have the burden of proof.

eksith 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This may be another reason people are eager to start their own company in lieu of working for someone else. If the questions are rubbish and completely unrelated to the actual job, then there's a huge disconnect between the interviewer (or HR company, as a lot of places outsource that) and where the actual work is to take place. I blame both.

The irony is that, in an effort to hire the "smartest" people, they leave out the wisest. Which is arguably more useful.

VLM 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Something I've always wanted to ask, are contractors hired the same way? I've never contracted although my father did in his retirement years. I'm curious if modern contractors have to put up with this kind of behavior at interviews, or if its a more professional atmosphere oriented around the actual job requirements.
joeblau 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would say that you should keep at it. There are strong parallels between math and programming, but interviewers should definitely be asking you to write pseudo-code on a whiteboard and do a paired programming session. That would probably be a good way to relieve the awkwardness later when they realize that your programming skills aren't as strong as you'd like them to be. Definitely keep at it, soon you'll be able to think of a Markov chain as a for loop multiplying two arrays and not only as a matrix multiplication.
tbassetto 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Our current hiring process at my startup:

- After a first non-technical call, we ask the candidate to create a very small project based on our SDK. We send him the documentation and a very small sample. He can almost use every tools he wants to create that small project and, of course, we do not set any deadlines. It allows us to see how the candidate architecture his applications and it gives us a project to discuss during the following call.- If all goes well, we invite the candidate on site to present our code/project and eventually brainstorm together. So that both parties can see if they can work together and the candidate has an insight about how we work, how our code looks like.

Clearly, it's far from perfect and we are often considering changing it. Imagine if every company where you are applying would ask you to create an app from scratch with their SDK? We may lose some candidates, but at least we hire only people that fit the company's culture.

deluxaran 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My opinion on this is that most of the interview processes is pretty old(over 20-30 years) and back then a good programmer was also a pretty good mathematician, and now most of the people that do interviews just use the same old patterns because, maybe, some of them don't know any better or because that is what they found in some books they have read.

I tend to hate the interviews that ask me to solve math and logic brainteasers because I don't see the value in them regarding my knowledge of programming.

meshko 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't get it. He got hired? He learned how to do his stuff? If we require people to know how to work right out of college, no fresh grad would ever got a job.
sudomal 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I am willing to bet that tests give an advantage to applicants with no commercial experience, as well as those that have no life outside of technology. If that's what you want in employees then sure, it's a good way to find them, otherwise just look at their code samples and give them a trial.

Programming isn't difficult and you don't need to know complex maths or be able to solve mind bending puzzles to be a great developer.

taude 5 hours ago 0 replies      
While we're at it, can we stop treating and thinking of web development (which seems to be a lot of dev positions these days) like it's rocket science?
conductr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I can relate on the opposite. I am not great at those complex math problems. But, I have been coding for 15 years at >20 hours a week average. Mostly web stuff. I've built dozens of full products, that we're complex, and I generally feel like I could build anything I wanted. Every time I use a new site I can visualize how I would have built it, usually not a question of if I could; time permitting.

Yet, I have never had the balls to pursue it professionally. I build stuff and usually never launch it. I have learned several times over that marketing is not my strong suit.

That said, I'd actually like to work for a startup. Hit me up if anyone wants to talk.

mariozivic 8 hours ago 0 replies      
IMHO, the post is more about the interviewers not understanding what is important for success in the job they are interviewing for than about anything else. If you need a person that will have to switch technologies, languages and paradigms, you have to test for that, make sure a candidate has done it before or is capable of doing it in expected time with expected depth.

If one is good and quick in problem solving or has high GMA, that does indicate that he has the capacity to handle new and difficult things in general, but says nothing about the speed with which he can handle a particular new thing. Author's example with JavaScript is very good illustration how difficult can it be to learn a new paradigm for the first/second time.

CmonDev 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Start-ups can afford asking candidates puzzles? I thought everyone was struggling to find developers.
fayyazkl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally some one pointed out the importance of the ability to actually code and produce something that works. Algorithmic problem solving ability is far less utilized in actual every day job compared to being able to code. Just imagine how much of your math skills did you actually need going well through all those bad experiences? Would you still be considered slow learner and fired if you knew how to code pretty well but just wasnt so good at figuring out shortest path in a graph. Isnt it possible to know the CS basics well i.e. familiar with complexity, big Os, basic data structures and sorting and being able to learn any advanced standard algo when needed by looking it up? Just wondering.
Jugurtha 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The "Kevin Bacon" stuff was about degrees of separation (Does the expression "Six degrees of separation" ring a bell ?).

Not long ago, Facebook made that 4.74 degrees of separation on its networks. Meaning a maximum of only 4.74 persons are necessary to connect any two random persons on the network.


You can also find an article on Wikipedia about the "Kevin Bacon" reference.

codecrusade 7 hours ago 0 replies      
1. Most IQ tests are Bullshit2. We all know what happened to the company famous for " Who moved mount fuji"3. Math Puzzles are good if they are of the IMO level- but these things need a lot of concentration and joy to solve- Not under stress interview conditions.4. Expecting someone to show brilliance by solving a math puzzle in under ten twenty minutes is a lot like a public willy wagging competition5.Even more disgusting is the semi dumb questions at Mckinsey inerviews like - "Estimate the number of mineral water bottles in London"6.7.In 'Jobs', Walter Issacson says Steve was never into much of these puzzles- I can understand the reason.8. ' I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity'-(great quote from an inspirational friend-http://www.flickr.com/photos/elizabethbw/8373942339/)9. People who ask these kind of puzzles end up creating a lot of CPU without any GPU. Very Little beauty. Very Little love.Disclosure- Im a member of Mensa Inernational. No Offense meant.
anuraj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It is a good strategy, if the company is interviewing freshers as programming is teachable and the assumption is that new inductee will take few months to become productive. If you can't wait, the best strategy is to give a live coding problem and test the person's proficiency in the required language/technology. I invariably do the latter as my requirements are always very specific. Most start ups I suppose, are themselves undecided on product/market/technology choice and thus the former strategy.
theanirudh 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Even after reading Jeff Atwood's post[1], it still amazes me how many programmers fail the fizz buzz test. We dont even get the chance to ask tough programming qustions. Simple questions like fizz buzz, loops and recursion were good enough to filter out a lot of applicants.

[1] http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/02/why-cant-programmer...

trendspotter 5 hours ago 0 replies      

Stop asking this fine young lady math puzzles to determine her programming abilities. She is good at solving your seemingly pointless math puzzle, because she was practicing problem-solving since she was ten. But she is not anywhere near as good at programming, yet - which caused her problems at the actual jobs she had to do after she was hired.

eaxitect 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Totally agree, asking math puzzles (sometimes really hard ones) to develop a copycat iphone app? Interviewing like this is really off the rails.

I really understand that a startup with scarce resource would like to do its best shot. However as discussed long ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2385424), it is really frustrating that asking math puzzles are assumed as the best way to hire the best for the job.

yeukhon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just saw this on HN...http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/october12013/index.html

This is like solving your submarine problem. Jeese.

enterx 4 hours ago 1 reply      
You speak wise, my friend.

Isn't XY years of records in the same field of interest working for a successful companies a good sign that I can code?!

Ask me theory - pay me to code.

shurcooL 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not just look at the person's recent commits?
shindevijaykr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
really true
progx 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Because they don't know you, you don't have a well known name, they don't know what you can and if it is true.

E.g. if somebody hire John Carmack (ID Software), nobody will let him do some math test or ask him trivial programming questions.

But you are not John Carmack ;-)

It is like in every other job: if you are not a rockstar you are nobody.

Is Your Country Despotic? A 1940s Guide to Freedom theatlantic.com
34 points by rmah  2 hours ago   11 comments top 6
RyanMcGreal 1 hour ago 2 replies      
In the short clip of Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they said, "...one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." When this program was made, the line "under God" had not yet been inserted into the Pledge. Wikipedia tells me it wasn't added until 1954.
tokenadult 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting archival find. I looked in the film archive[1] that stores videos of this Encyclopedia Britannica film and found that this film[2] was apparently produced in 1946.

One of the comments at the direct link to the film in the archive[2] is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry. On the whole, viewing this film is a good discussion-starter for thinking about current issues.

I have lived in another country (Taiwan) when it was a dictatorship[3] so I appreciate genuine democracy. In the community I live in now in the United States, there is a high degree of general respect. And I have substantial practical power to resolve social wrongs and improve the well being of my family and myself. I'm glad to report that Taiwan, the former dictatorship I lived in, has since become a genuine democracy, and also rates well as to respect and power to all the people.

[1] http://archive.org/details/prelinger

[2] http://archive.org/details/Despotis1946

[3] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5985720

JonSkeptic 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
The respect scale portion is interesting. It mentions class, race, and religion as reasons why people may not show respect to others. I think if we add political views to that, our country has bottomed out on the 'respect scale'.

EDIT: Also, it's kind of scary how topical this video is.

shmerl 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Cenk 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I get a 404, but the video is also available here: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/280695/how-to-know-if...
mutant 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For me, the most important part of this video is when they are reciting the pledge, and say "one nation, indivisible".
Healthcare.gov crashed bc the backend was doomed in the requirements stage forbes.com
19 points by blurpin  1 hour ago   6 comments top 4
gry 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thoughtback [https://thoughtback.com/] sent me a pertinent reminder this morning. No affiliation, just a great tool.

    Organizational metrics, which are not related to the code, can predict software    failure-proneness with a precision and recall of 85 percent. This is a significantly    higher precision than traditional metrics such as churn, complexity, or coverage     that have been used until now to predict failure-proneness. [1]
[1] The Influence of Organizational Structure On Software Quality: An Empirical Case Study



edit: formatting

mrharrison 26 minutes ago 2 replies      
I know the people who worked on this. This is not what happened. Just yet another propaganda piece by Forbes.
wheaties 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to see what the report of it didn't work actually says. It's quite possible that one of the services that the website hit couldn't handle the traffic which in turn caused a bottleneck in other systems.
gesman 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Could anyone share which platform / framework they used?
NYTimes Chief Regrets Not Hiring More Engineers niemanlab.org
16 points by a5seo  1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
normloman 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fat chance. If the NYTimes had hired more engineers, those engineers would have told management they needed to innovate to survive, just like everyone else was telling them. And management still wouldn't listen.
Dirlewanger 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
What a surprise: a media dinosaur dismissing new technologies before it was too late.

Also, how about appropriately titling the link instead of paraphrasing the opening line?

The Melancholy of Subcultures gwern.net
20 points by gwern  1 hour ago   1 comment top
abolibibelot 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
The main article, though nice formally doesn't say anything new about subcultures and the alleged end of big C Culture - my main gripe with it being it generalizes from cultural microcosms. The Appendix (which takes the lion's share of the whole article), about Japan and Internet/FLOSS is where the interesting stuff lies.
Windows 8.1: Not Using Secure Boot? Don't Worry We'll Let You Know tom-pryor.co.uk
58 points by Tomdarkness  3 hours ago   33 comments top 9
AaronFriel 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The problem isn't that it's displaying an important security setting in a way that forces users to notice it. Kudos to Microsoft for finally having the courage to do so. Rather, the problem is that they haven't surfaced a method for expert users to disable the warning.

I think I found that method.

Run `gpedit.msc`. Navigate to:

    Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Bitlocker Drive Encryption > Operating System Drives
Set the following two policies to Disabled:

    Allow Secure Boot for integrity validation    Use enhanced Boot Configuration Data validation profile
Should disappear the watermark.

perlgeek 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've recently got a laptop with secure boot enabled by default (an Asus Zenbook), and man that was a pain. I wanted to install Linux on a second partition, and it wouldn't let me boot anything from a removable medium until I turned off secure boot.

But of course the option to disable secure boot was grayed out, and it took me some searching on the Internet to find a solution: first you have to go to the key management window, and delete all the keys there. Then you're allowed to turn off secure boot.

If they wanted it to be usable, they'd just offer me an option 'boot once without secure boot' (and ask for the BIOS/EFI administrator password if set).

After this experience, my hypothesis is that the main purpose of "secure boot" is to discourage the user from installing anything non-default (aka Linux).

wrl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a reminder that Microsoft is cool with dual-booting, but only if it's to increase their own marketshare.

In particular, the bit about wanting to dual-boot WP8 on Android phones: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6497126

Toshio 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This kind of what's-a-good-word-for-it behavior is what makes me wish upon a star that microsoft would slide into irrelevance already and leave the software industry alone.

Oh. I know what a good word for it is: douchey.

wmf 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
"the same method of displaying a watermark is also done if you are not running a genuine copy of Windows"

Maybe that's because a prominent reason to disable secure boot is to use Windows Loader to pirate Windows. Of course, there may be an updated version soon that tricks Windows into thinking it booted securely.

m_mueller 2 hours ago 1 reply      
There'd be a more appropriate place for this: The action center. Recommended actions can still be disabled can't they?
ksk 2 hours ago 3 replies      
>I cant see any reason why this message should be displayed so prominently.

Because an important security feature (in their eyes, DUH) is disabled.

> If a message is needed, at all, then why not display it on the System View Basic Information about your computer control panel item.


api 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Microsoft's products have long had broken security models close to their core, mostly owing to the fact that they pre-date the net and were originally not multi-user.

Instead of fixing this -- and to maintain backward compatibility -- they've always applied security models further up the tree, closer to the apps and the user. As a result MS has more and more complex security controls but is less secure. This complexity and security bloat results from trying to patch a boat that's full of holes in its fundamental design.

Secure boot is needed for the same reason lots of other controls are needed-- to make it harder to permanently screw the system once you've gotten malware onto it. This is so important because it is historically so easy to get malware onto Windows.

icecreampain 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The author seems busy trying to put out small fires, instead of focusing on what's really burning: Windows. There is, for most people, very little reason to stay on Windows.

In todays world of wonderfully powerful machine, a WindowsXP or Windows7 installation in a seamless Virtualbox machine will solve most Windows-related problems: proprietary apps at work, a photobook creation Windows app or maybe an old game or so. For everything else there's at least one Linux distribution that works.

I install Mint 15 Mate for my retirees and with it they can surf, bank, write e-mail and word process. After installing it I never hear about viruses, trojans or weird popups telling them that something is out of date.

Now if only younger people would have the courage to try something other than Windows for once. Unfortunately you're going to be playin the latest Call of Duty or Madden 2047, but them's the breaks.

Kids Were Terrified of Getting MRIs. Then One Man Figured Out a Better Way. slate.com
56 points by rfreytag  3 hours ago   31 comments top 11
ck2 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If the kid was young enough, they could give them the story of their lives by telling them it was a transporter and change the room from one color to another or something (via lighting) and move furniture while they were in there.

Then when they came out they might really believe it and be thrilled. This would help for the next visit. Though it might be disappointing to figure out years later.

16s 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Any sane person would be afraid of them.

Lay in this tunnel. You're immobilized and can't move. Oh and no one can hear you call for help because of the loud jack-hammer like sounds. Wear these head-phones and we'll blast music into them so you'll feel better. Squeeze this little thing if you panic and we may come and help you.

kaoD 9 minutes ago 1 reply      
I never got why MRIs are scary for anyone.

I've had two MRIs when I was a child. For some reason the "thunks" are relaxing to me and I fell asleep during both procedures. I even pressed the "panic button" by mistake when I had a sleep spasm! MRIs are nap time for me :)

stusmith1977 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's not just kids who are reassured by cosmetic changes. MRIs used to be called NMRs. People freaked out because of the word 'nuclear'.
chiph 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There's more to this than just painting the machine -- one of the primary concerns of hospitals (and thus medical device makers) is whether the equipment is easy to clean. So just slapping some paint on there isn't enough -- the design has to be embedded into the plastic (which commonly has silver ions in it to help kill germs), or as a single plastic decal that has similar properties.

To reduce the noise, I wonder why they haven't investigated active noise cancelling like the engine mounts used by some auto makers. The computer introduces waveforms that are the inverse of the frequencies they want to reduce. Or at least added mass to panels that conduct noise, using material like Dynamat eXtreme (common in car audio).

ck2 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't think it is how they look.

MRI machines are incredibly loud and "thunk" repeatedly.

recuter 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I actually had the same idea while laying in an MRI machine as a child. Problem is, nobody would take me seriously. And I still don't work for GE, so nobody would take me seriously suggesting this now -- hospitals are frustrating places.
JonSkeptic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic: This title made me think of a scene from Futurama.


On topic: His solution was pretty smart. One of those elegant solutions that seem obvious in retrospect. Hopefully it helps make the process a lot less stressful for some kids.

sparktherapy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Glad they were able to frame a scary experience as a voluntary adventure. Gamification has great potential for solving motivational problems.

I see opportunities for gamification quite often. If we took any tedious or daunting task and broke it down into a fun, easy, and simple problem for everyone, society in general would benefit from a harvesting a lot of wasted productivity.

Instead of seeing dozens of people on the subway playing Candy Crush, if they enjoyed answering questions on StackOverflow just as equally, how much faster could we advance our knowledge and solve unique problems?

mekishizufu 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
If you're afraid of MRI, you can always try JRuby or Rubinius! :)
ape4 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I am afraid of pirates.
Learn Haskell Fast and Hard yannesposito.com
155 points by psibi  7 hours ago   64 comments top 16
ludicast 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a tremendous resource, but may I suggest you rather point here: https://www.fpcomplete.com/school/haskell-fast-hard.

It's the same course/series, but with interactivity, so Haskell can coded/evaluated from the browser. In fact, one "dir" up, you will find a bunch of similar tutorials here : https://www.fpcomplete.com/school.

ufo 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Minor nitpick: Using pattern matching instead of `if xs == []` is not just to make code prettier and cleaner.

First of all, you should be using the `null` function instead of `== xs` because the `==` operator only works if your list contents are Eq.

But the most important thing is that pattern matching is more type safe. If you use `head` and `tail` you, as a programmer, need to make sure that you only call them on a non-empty lists or else you get an error. On the other hand, if you use pattern matching the compiler helps you make sure that you always covered all the possible cases (empty vs non-empty) and you never need to worry about calling the unsafe head and tail functions.

boothead 4 hours ago 3 replies      
How much interest would there be in a 0 to full Haskell development environment set of ansible scripts (and or Vagrantfile)? I'm working on a start up using Haskell at the moment and I've been capturing all of my set up in this way. If folks are interested I can make some of this stuff available.
dllthomas 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Instead of being in your way like in C, C++ or Java, the type system is here to help you."

I'd still say the type system is there to help you in C, C++, and Java, it just doesn't do nearly as good a job of it, and winds up in your way more often because it's less expressive.

XorNot 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Ok so here's the problem I'm having with trying to get into Haskell, and it's a problem Carmack identified: there's way too many "toy examples" out there.

I've always learned languages because I need them for something. C/C++ because I wanted to write a game. Python because it's the complex scripting language of choice in Ubuntu. JavaScript for obvious reasons.

What I really really need is something which walks me through doing something significant with Haskell - like, a GUI app on Linux or something (my current focus: I've never really done it, but if I'm learning something new I'd like there to be a practical product at the end).

A bunch of language constructs, while technically interesting, don't help me to grok the language at all.

6ren 4 hours ago 2 replies      
ASIDE: I've been using learn you a haskell for great good! http://learnyouahaskell.com/, and found it helpful, insightful and the examples nicely paced so you can treat them as exercises as you go.... up until the module chapter, which is more like a reference, very long, detailed, tedious. I got up to herehttp://learnyouahaskell.com/modules#data-char check out how small the scroll bar slider is on the right - this is a big chapter).

Did this stop you or how did get past it?

How does Learn Haskell Fast and Hard compare?

alkonaut 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Learning a functional language is a great idea especially if you never intend to use one after you've learned it. It's like speaking a second language. Has a great effect on the understanding of your own language.

At university the first thing everyone had to (in programming) do was a Haskell course. Felt weird at the time, but in hindsight it was fantastic. It meant everyone had to throw their preconceptions about programming out the window.

It didn't occur to me until recently (10-15 years later), that functional concepts are actually a good thing to apply in any language; that it makes code parallelizable, modular, maintainable, testable, and so on. I just thought functional was functional (i.e. elegant but hard) whereas imperative was imperative (inelegant but easy). Much like the difference between algebra and arithmetic.

So go learn a second language, or even a third. Even if you intend to speak english and Java for the rest of your life. I'd choose Haskell and Spanish.

virtualwhys 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Pretty awesome, I've steered clear of Haskell preferring Scala instead (easier syntax for me to grok), but this tutorial makes Haskell far more accessible.

Off topic but does anyone know of a Rails/Play + Linq to SQL/ScalaQuery equivalent in Haskell?

Beyond that just being able to generate PDF invoices, send out emails and have access to a decent date/time library (like JodaTime) would cover the essentials for web development.

anuragramdasan 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I have been wanting to look into Haskell for a long time now. Never really got the time. Also the syntax was a bit off putting.

Just skimmed through. I see that there is a bit of Javascript and C in the code too as reference matertial. Most people dont like such a way of teaching but it looks like the tutorial isnt really trying to teach Haskell in terms of Javascript or C. Really makes me want to look into this. Thanks for putting the efforts.

616c 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I have been perusing Learn You a Haskell but I like this more. Fast and hard indeed. Will read this over tonight.
JonCox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to learn Haskell slow and easy, this is brilliant: http://learnyouahaskell.com/chapters
AnthonBerg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
PERFECT. Relaxed but intense. Perfect! ... for me. This is exactly the kind of tutorial that works best for me. (I'm sure many people will find it unusuable. But that's OK - we have as many ways to learn as we have learners.)

The selection of artwork is pretty nice too.

Very very good. Thank you author and poster.

asgard1024 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like the art images in the tutorial. Nice touch.

Although I am not sure about the premise - I doubt Haskell, as a language close to mathematics, can be learned fast. This tutorial seems quite shallow on some things, like monads.

RyanZAG 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I haven't seen this Haskell syntax before:

  [1,3..10]  [1,3,5,7,9]
Imagine running into this one on a production system... Someone needs to make a 'Haskell: the good parts' or at least a lint.

Hearty 2 hours ago 0 replies      
With such a large font learning Haskell must be easy!
batgaijin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
a monad is like a taco salad.
Show HN: PkgHub.io - Simple Ubuntu Package Hosting pkghub.io
24 points by lloydpick  2 hours ago   15 comments top 6
mapleoin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, the best package building and hosting site that no one has ever heard of: http://openbuildservice.org/ https://build.opensuse.org/

supports all major distros: openSUSE, Fedora, Debian-based, even Arch.

film42 1 hour ago 1 reply      
One killer feature would be to have a direct download link to each package. Installing outside the package manager isn't something you should do, but I've had to a few times (making netcat happy, etc).
trumbitta2 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You should add a pricing page ASAP :D because this "seems" way simpler than good old launchpad
lloydpick 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This system was built by @supersheep and @lloydpick (me) in 48 hours as part of the http://railsrumble.com competition, so if you encounter a bug please just let us know.
tlongren 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This could be waaay better than Launchpad. And much nicer looking, too.
Facebook users confirm services down globally thinkdigit.com
35 points by jaimebuelta  2 hours ago   11 comments top 8
denzil_correa 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Productivity may have surged, worldwide.
samdunne 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The Facebook login feature isn't working with the API. Getting massive headache emails now. Luckily we have lots of alternative login methods.

I hope people will see the importance of not putting all of your eggs in one authentication basket.

patatino 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Never thought my very first status update would be "test". Damn it!
th0br0 58 minutes ago 2 replies      
Haven't had any issues with FB the whole day (from Germany
cdvonstinkpot 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I couldn't post a status, share a post, or comment on a post on both my PC & mobile, & was wondering what it was. Glad I didn't log out.
kvprashant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
People. Faces. Twitter. [things that happen when Facebook doesn't work]
jaimebuelta 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I haven't been able to login in the last few hours.
agumonkey 1 hour ago 0 replies      
up locally, no lag, likes works... weird
Solving 2 Classic Startup Problems With Email: The Square Cash Case mailjet.com
7 points by elie_CH  35 minutes ago   discuss
Apple Patent on Touch Typing, Multitouch Upheld; Allows Ban on Most Androids dailytech.com
65 points by anielsen  3 hours ago   47 comments top 13
throwawaykf 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Ugh, no. Yes the patent was upheld. Yes, all the claims survived intact. No, the claims are not on "touch typing, multitouch"; they cover a very specific use of a heuristic to differentiate between scrolling and panning. No, it's very unlikely that it will allow "ban on most Android" devices. I think Samsung (and probably most Android vendors) have already worked around the claims.

As with all tech media discussion about patents these days, this article talks about what the patent "covers" without so much as an idea of what claims are.

acjohnson55 1 hour ago 3 replies      
As I type on my MacBook Pro, I also wonder at what point we as a community are going to start voting with our wallets against Apple and the extent to which they are abusing the broken US patent system. Of course it's only rational to expect that they will use any means at their disposal to get a competitive advantage, but that doesn't mean that we must reserve moral judgment.

For me, Apple has already moved into "prefer competitors' products" territory, but they keep pushing me closer to all-out boycott.

Prefinem 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This just shows how bad the state of the US Patent Industry is, were instead of making a better product, it's easier to hamstring a competing company.

If the patent is upheld, and Apple, having the hate it does for Android tries and bans Android Phones, then in the end, all it does is hurt the users who want a decent alternative to Apple Products. People expect multi-touch on their phones, and non-physical keyboards. I can just see my mom asking me why her new android phone doesn't swipe to scroll because her last phone did.

Such a shame.

ChikkaChiChi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Everybody knew that went the patent standoff went nuclear things like this would happen. Patents were meant to leverage innovation, not to use it to litigate yourself into monopolistic control of a vertical market.
JulianMorrison 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Patents shouldn't exist.
baldfat 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The idea that a keyboard used with a finger is even Patentable???? How is this even close to being something that needs to be protected? So the visualization of anything is a patent worthy idea? There has to be prior art in the hundreds of touch typing?

It is so frustrating knowing the Prior work of Microsoft Surface before the iPhone with multi-touch and pinch to zoom.

I would love all Android phones to just stop being sold in protest immediately. Though this would never happen. The very idea that this was something invalid in September and now passed through smells of some outside pressure.

ernesth 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Does this article really claim that apple's 2006 patent prevents android from using swype which was patented in 2003? http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=H...
dicroce 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So, if Android products are banned in the US, that doesn't change the fact that they would continue to be sold elsewhere in the world, right? And if so, wouldn't it be likely that you could pay to have an Android imported (perhaps illegally)?
andmarios 2 hours ago 0 replies      
So in essence, Apple patented the "straight line" because I doubt in nature you'll find many straight lines as they are described in this patent. What you will find though, is the kind of lines that Apple patented. Great.
jbogp 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I swear every time I read one of those articles I die a little bit. I can't begin to apprehend the emptiness inside [insert patent trolling company] lawyers' souls after a day at work.
threeseed 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't see Apple wasting its time with "most Androids".

The only two companies that this would apply to are Samsung and Google/Motorola.

Oletros 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> Allows Ban on Most Androids

Procog too much?

chatman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Lets hear Eben Moglen now!?
How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand? ieet.org
145 points by broodbucket  8 hours ago   42 comments top 12
cromwellian 7 hours ago 3 replies      
In the 80s, I got my first access to the internet after reading Steven Levy's book "Hackers". In the chapter on RMS, he mentioned that RMS didn't use passwords and didn't believe in security.

I found the dialup number to the MIT media lab, and tried logging in as 'RMS' and viola, no password, and I had my first shell account on an internet-connected Unix machine, although I was only a teenager, and didn't attend MIT.

RMS's act of charity benefited me greatly, I was relatively poor growing up in inner city Baltimore, and his account was a life line to a new world of the internet and away from the crackhouse infested streets.

I find it interesting that he has changed his standpoint from one of radical transparency to techno-privacy.

Remember, RMS is the guy who hacked LCS's computer lab password file, decrypted all the passwords, and emailed everyone suggesting they change their password to empty string. Now, I get that what he really wanted was to allow anyone to have access to LCS resources, and that would have been better served by just allowing anyone to create an account. But some early GNU accounts nevertheless did not have passwords, and I could read their email, shell histories, etc.

I think there is an interesting question is to the extremes of privacy and transparency in a democracy. If for example, it was not possible to discriminate against people, and if the government could not abuse any information gained on someone, then it might be the case that society would better off if there was very little privacy, because private distributed abuse amongst non-state actors would then be the biggest danger. If on the other hand, the state is far more abusive, then the fraud and violence perpetrated by small actors uncaught by surveillance is dwarfed by the damage done by the state having this information.

The question is, is it black and white, or is there some level of justifiable dragnet surveillance? Can democracy also tolerate Cryptoanarchy?

pjc50 5 hours ago 2 replies      
We're used to thinking of places either as "free country", like the idealised America that appears in films, or "police state" where vast numbers of people are rounded up into gulags and dissent is impossible.

The current situation is neither of those. It's a large expensive system of state oppression .. that acts on remarkably few people(+). There is a gulag archipelago, Guantanamo, but it contains only 46 prisoners now. Outside it, hundreds of millions of people live pretty free lives in the western world. So there's little public appetite for doing anything about it. If you're not reading about it in the news you can ignore it entirely.

Perhaps the main output of the surveillance program is the targeting information for drone strikes. This results in thousands dead .. but they are a long way away, in a part of the world that has its own problems with violence.

Your actual chances of being victimised by the surveillance state for engaging in nonviolent leftwing politics are very small. But perhaps its worth noting that radical leftwing groups seem more likely to be investigated by law enforcement than radical rightwing groups that advocate all kinds of crazy things, including actual violence against the government (second amendment supporters).

(+) (note that I'm talking about just surveillance here, as distinct from the War on Drugs, the horrifyingly high American prison population, racism in the police, or heavy-handed public order policing)

(note 2: I'm from the UK, which has its own problems with official support for surveillance, occasional brutal policing, and particularly the state's role in violence in Northern Ireland has not been properly dealt with nor atoned for).

rarw 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Articles like this pop up all the time. The problem is that they never address (1) the legitimate need for surveillance; (2) dangers of an internet (or other communications networks) which law enforcement or government cannot access at all; (3) the problems with arguing that government (or anyone for that matter) should be banned from collecting and reading data sent across the web.

I understand the concern. As someone who has advocated for stronger electronic privacy regulation, no one likes someone having the ability to look through their stuff. However, the answer is more likely a balance than a denunciation of all surveillance in any form. Surveillance with restriction is fine and probably a good thing. It helps prevent crime and can help catch criminals once crimes happen. Just as it's easy to argue that a government with information will misuse it, bad people with a closed communication network will use it to commit crime. Sure not everyone is going to plan a terrorist strike, or organize a gang online but some will. Is it worth enabling that kind of behavior?

Also what should and should not be private also has to do with where/when the information is collected. If the government were hacking into all of our computers and keeping back ups of our hard drives that's very different from collecting things that are sent on the internet. Legally there is currently a big debate about how to treat something that is taken from a stored medium - like a hard drive - vs one that is captured in transmission - like an email being sent. As it currently stands the government would have a hard time justifying accessing your computer remotely without a warrant but an easy time reading emails once they left your computer. Why? Because the sent email is akin to yelling something in a public place. Once it leaves your computer, it's not private while its being transmitted. If this sounds like a stupid distinction, that's because it is.

ohwp 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"Surveillance data will always be used for other purposes, even if this is prohibited."

This stood out for me in the article. And I think this applies to all forms of data.

JanezStupar 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone remember the old days when Stallman was an over the top tin foil hat crackpot?
alan_cx 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Oh, way more that I wanted to type and a bit ranty. You're warned!!!!

Very sadly, he is completely wrong.

This is the beginning:

"How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand?

The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use."

Not true. Not even slightly true. Its so tragic.

In principle, I could not agree with him more, but that does not appear to be a reality the vast majority can be bothered with.

Why? The vast majority simply do not care. Worse still a huge chunk of society, on a daily basis, give up more personal information than any government can possibly hope to ask for. We in the UK groan when the census comes up, every 10 years. But the average facebook profile contains more personal information than any census has ever asked for. And many many people up date FB daily. Imagine a government asked us to document our lives daily? I could go on, but that's the general thrust.

So, how much surveillance can society withstand? Loads more.

Is it incompatible with human rights? Well, humans don't seem over bothered, in fact they offer up more information that the government could ever ask for. Hence the NSA/GCHQ slurping.

Because the government will only ever use the data in a small targeted way, it will never ever negatively effect the vast majority of people. So they will never be inconvenienced by it. Only "those" people will be effected, and "they" are guilty evil doers. So, there will never be an uprising or revolt, because most people are unaffected.

See, even people most out raged by this agree that its good if they can round up terrorists, pedophiles or who ever the current bogyman is. Well, while we accept that, we accept the method, and there for that "evil" must exist. When it exists, it can be easily and silently abused. The expectations are the gaps through which evil seeps. This is why we are or try to be absolute about torture, chemical or biological weapons, racism, and so on. We know if we allow it in any way, mission creep will happen.

Of course, the real hypocrisy of people is that when something bad happens, we blame government for not having enough control over circumstances. We immediately say, "why didn't they do this that or the other. They failed." What if all this slurping of data could have prevented 9/11?

But in the end, from what I have seen, society can easily with stand a hell of a lot more surveillance. We allow it, government moderates it's use such that most never see the down side, government loves control, and we expect government to have that control.

Truth is, really, people want more surveillance so that they can live nice risk free lives. Frankly, I'm not sure people really want real freedom at all. They want a freedom, or their freedom, one that suits their daily lives. But are only too happy to deny freedom to others as long as their freedoms are preserved.

If this slurping is really that evil and unacceptable, incompatibly with human rights, why haven't millions of people descended on Washington and London, rioting in the streets, bringing down our respective governments?

Or are all these out raged people trusting democracy and the ballot box will sort it out?

Or, is it that really they don't care?

coldcode 3 hours ago 0 replies      
About as we currently know about. But it depends on whether the surveillance is acted on. Having everything I do and say in a database is not the same as my vanishing one night into a police van never to be seen again.
lucb1e 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> You have exceeded the allowed page load frequency.

Like, I just loaded the page. Is it down for other people, or does this trigger just for me?

Edit: Oh nevermind, this website thinks x-forwarded-for is my real IP-address. I set it to '"\ which occasionally triggers database errors on php or asp.net websites, highly amusing :P

Edit2: Also interesting is when hackernews crashes just after I re-enabled my header modifier and try to save the previous edit.

chatman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Brilliant piece from Stallman! Written with a paranoid, skeptic mindset with firm dose of realism and full of practical advice.
camus2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Define Democracy first , this is not a state , this is an ideal to acheive, no country is fully democratic , but some are more than others. That's why one cannot call a country a democracy, but compared to North Korea , most countries are "democratic". Compared to Switzerland most are not.
miguelrochefort 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Democracy is silly and won't withstand transparency.

That said, society can withstand 100% surveillance, total transparency. But that surveillance has to be done by the people and be publicly shared.

nvk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Not this much.
Introducing WhiteHat Aviator A Safer Web Browser whitehatsec.com
7 points by raybeorn  33 minutes ago   1 comment top
TruthSHIFT 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
If youre not paying for something, youre not the customer; youre the product being sold.

I was hoping that this was something I could pay for. It's still a free web browser.

Notes for the New York Times coverage of healthcare.gov software 7fff.com
11 points by tuke  1 hour ago   discuss
Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service krebsonsecurity.com
240 points by cylo  12 hours ago   53 comments top 8
afreak 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This Dilbert comic is 100% apt today:http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-10-14/
cptskippy 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I did a double take when I saw this because I've been in contact with Equifax recently because I started receiving SPAM form a non-existent email address that I shared with them.

I have a Catch-all address setup on my Domain so that I can give every site I interact with their own custom email address. In this case it was equifax.com@mydomain.com. Since the email address doesn't exist, and they're the only company I've shared it with, they're the only ones with a record of it's existence.

When I emailed them asking if they'd had a security breach or if they were selling email addresses they responded saying they would opt me out of marking emails. When I responded with the context and header info of the emails I received and asked if this was in fact from them things turned. About an hour later I got a response, the tone had changed significantly and they indicated that the incident had been escalated to their security department and that they would be in contact with me as their investigation progressed.

I can say this has been the best response to the dozens of emails I've sent to companies about the same issue. The worst was Best Buy whose response was something along the lines of "Eat Dk, we do what we want."

mindslight 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Except there's actually no such thing as "identity theft" - it's a mere figment of the credit industry's (tracking industry's) fantasy in which they're omniscient, and an attempt to slowly push the responsibility for bank fraud onto uninvolved third parties. In reality, some would-be bank fraudsters got ahold of some non-secret information.
3327 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, is it fair to say that the credit system in the US is fued up? Oligopoly of 3 agencies have pretty much entire control of your fate. Yes Fate. Purchasing power means cash and since credit = cash these companies control the cash that you have at disposal. Which means your FATE. Its insanely difficult to pierce oligopolistic structures and Cartels because of obvious reasons. But some day some startup needs to tackle this. The system works for most but doesn't work for many.
bediger4000 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Do "underground" credit rating agencies exist? I don't mean credit rating agencies for carders and scammers, I mean agencies that track things they're not supposed to track. Agencies that keep the data on file for longer than they're supposed, keep track of how many times a particular ID asks for refunds, or to get their security deposit back, material like that.

It would have to be out of the Caribbean or some place with lax data privacy laws, and strict confidentiality laws.

icu 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks cylo for the post. Sadly we can't seem to trust the credit agencies or Government agencies with data protection. We need a politician who will champion some sort of legal offence (Federal?) for digital data protection breaches whatever the industry/company (above anything that already exists) that will scare companies enough that they start taking digital identity seriously. Maybe that's a pipe dream but I get the sense after reading this article that regulators just don't carry a big enough stick or have too light a touch when punishing serious infractions.
tonyfelice 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Sort of insinuates that ID theft is not meant to be a core focus of Experian.
f902370 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The world should calm down. Take a few years to review what we've done in last 50 years.
Googles iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary arstechnica.com
314 points by coloneltcb  14 hours ago   170 comments top 39
cromwellian 13 hours ago 6 replies      
Most of the examples of Google closed apps that are not part of the AOSP release are in fact apps that are based off of Google data-center services. Would it really help Samsung if the source to the Gmail app was open? Since Google controls the server side, and the client-server protocol, it limits the amount of innovation they can do.

The web equivalent would be like claiming that Chrome OS isn't open because the source to Gmail isn't available.

Google is stuck behind a rock and a hard place. If they don't try to create incentives for a unified experience, they get bashed for encouraging fragmentation, if they do assert a level of control, they get bashed for not being completely open.

parennoob 13 hours ago 6 replies      
When someone like Github does this (make some parts of their code open-source, but others closed-source), journalists don't write critical pieces about them, do they? I mean, Google leaves a bad taste in my mouth since they started shuttering services like it was Christmas at the Google Service Chopping Block, but I don't see them being actively evil here.

It's all according to the previously openly aired plan. Google keeps all of the existing code open source. Anyone who wants to build a fork can do so. Now if they want a hardware platform to run on, go find one outside the Open Handset Alliance ecosystem. It's fair game -- if a hardware partner thinks that one of Google's competitors can provide a better Android fork, they are free to leave the Alliance and go partner with that competitor. They will still get an enormous amount of code for free in AOSP. They just won't get all of the services that Google is building specifically for its own version of Android. How is any of this maintaining an "iron grip" in any way? Just contrast this with Apple where it is the sole owner of everything to do with the OS and app marketplace.

millstone 12 hours ago 3 replies      
> Google was terrified that Apple would end up ruling the mobile space. So, to help in the fight against the iPhone at a time when Google had no mobile foothold whatsoever, it was decided that Google would buy Android. And Android would be open source.

This is blatantly false. Google bought Android in 2005, two years before the iPhone was announced.

MichaelGG 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The only real thing that seems "evil" is the requirement for OEMs to not manufacture _any_ devices compatible with non-Google forks. The rest of it seems pretty necessary in order to keep carriers and OEMs in line. A lesson Microsoft learned, and why Windows Phone started off by allowing the user to remove any pre-installed crap.

If Google didn't do any of this, and was totally altruistic, Samsung and others would already have completely screwed things up.

While it's certainly very much to Google's benefit, it also benefits most users because overall, Google has done a far better job than any OEM regarding user experience.

Mikeb85 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think alot of people misunderstand what open source means. It's nothing more than allowing people to see the source code, and use it (including forking).

Open source doesn't require you to cooperate with anyone, it doesn't require you to give away access to APIs, it doesn't require you to do anything beyond whatever is explicitly stated in the license.

Google, Canonical, Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, SUSE, etc... aren't required to be good team players or corporate citizens. They're just required to abide by the terms of the licenses on code they use...

yarianluis 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As an Android developer, I love that Google is doing this!

Android has come a very long way in the last few years in terms of usability and design. A large part of this has been due to an increasingly uniform design language and feel. That, and the new distribution model for what are basically Android updates (Google Play Services) has made Android feel more polished and actually allowed it to stand on its own against iOS. It also means that developers like me don't have to spend nearly as much time worrying about fragmentation in the traditional sense. Each day the percentage of people using sub-ICS phones falls, and we all get one step closer to the day we can support ICS+ only.

However, companies like Amazon would force me to rewrite the maps integration, the sign-in portion, the wallet, etc... Amazon did a great job of replicating Google Maps API V1 but they have yet to mirror V2 and don't mirror the other components I mentioned.

Aside from fragmentation and developer sanity, the article mentions another key point here:

"[M]any of Google's solutions offer best-in-class usability, functionality, and ease-of-implementation."

Exactly! Google APIs are not perfect, and there's bugs (like when Google Maps broke map markers on high resolution phones like the HTC One). But generally speaking, I'm really happy with the quality of the APIs and services. In an ideal world, Amazon and Google would work together to provide great and uniform single-sign-in APIs, great maps, etc... As it currently stands though, I don't believe either party is interested in doing so. Prisoner's dilemma?

Zigurd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Part of my business is about creating Android-based embedded systems. So far, none of what Google has done impinges on using Android as a basis for an operating system for appliance-like devices. The main problem is that current development of Android is not done in the open. But, so far, the advantages of using Android's UI stack and other APIs in "appliance OS" applications outweigh the annoyance of sporadic updates to the AOSP code-base.

If you want to compete with Google, using Android poses a choice: If you make Google-branded Android devices that use Google's proprietary apps, you will have to give that up in order to use Android with other ecosystems.

Thirdly, if you want to use the Google ecosystem in a product, you have to use all of it. You can't substitute someone else's location services, for an example that was litigated.

Google could develop Android in the open and retain the same level of control over OEMs, and I think they should.

Google appears to be inconsistent in enforcing restrictions on OEMs. OPhone OEMs also make Android handsets, despite the fact that OPhone is an Android derived product. Maybe that arrangement pre-dates Google's current policies.

cloudwalking 14 hours ago 2 replies      
> Android has arguably won the smartphone wars, but "Android winning" and "Google winning" are not necessarily the same thing.

This is false. Google wins when more people use the Internet. Android is fulfilling its initial goal incredibly well: offer a free and open-source mobile OS to encourage mobile device proliferation.

Android is doing exactly what it was designed to do.

davyjones 14 hours ago 3 replies      
> Google does everything in-house. The company gets Maps and all of its cloud services basically for free.

This statement is utterly false. In-house does not mean free.

mdellabitta 14 hours ago 1 reply      
While I can see the point of this article, it's being cast in a much more dramatic light than necessary. Phrases like "While Google is out to devalue the open source codebase as much as possible" seem hyperbolic to me.
rattray 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Linus Torvalds famous for his iron grip of Linux? In a very different way, to be sure, but it's my understanding that just because you make something open source doesn't mean you have to (or even should) relinquish control.

I think it's also pretty standard to open-source the core and keep the baubles proprietary. GitHub, for example, made their git interaction library open-source but their git hosting service itself is closed, as far as I know.

heliodor 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nothing good can come out of Amazon or Samsung influencing or controlling Android. If those companies were in control, we'd still be in the tech ice ages where the phone companies control our devices.
lnanek2 13 hours ago 1 reply      
What's really annoying is when the Google apps start becoming worse to make Google more money. I never open the app store without wanting an app, but it constantly tries to sell me books and movies and stuff like that. They even have separate Google apps for reading and movies, so shoving it in the app store is just a money grab making my usage more difficult to shove some ads in my face. Were these apps open source people could just fork, but we're stuck going along with Google until they mess up so bad it makes sense to switch over entirely to Amazon App store, Samsung Apps Seller, etc. and the equivalent for everything else.
tashoecraft 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Google is creating a walled garden just like any other company does. The article points to how they are making their shift towards an operating system that is similar to ios (in terms of lock in). Android may be an open-source platform but, on the majority of devices that compete at the top level, it becomes far from open source.

It's understandable why Google would lock people out of seeing the back end of their closed apps. But you have to look at what the long-term implications of them slowly removing support for ASOP apps are. As Google continually pushes out fantastic products that tie in so well to the mobile experience, why would anyone/developer want to have/develop [for] anything else. As this power grows, Google can strong-arm phone manufactures to develop hardware/features/etc to work with what they are developing. They have to sign contractual agreements to get the top version of Android and are then locked in to keep up the good terms. Google is outsourcing the hardware manufacturing to other companies and ensuring that if a user wants a good phone, they will be using their services.

Many people here are claiming any company can leave Google's garden like Amazon did. While some companies may be able to do that, I'm struggling to think of a one with the technological background, money to invest, and callousness for risk who are willing to try. Amazon has a huge assortment of media that it can toss at its users who use their hardware. Other companies don't have a differentiating factor or the software development to be able to make a truly competitive product to drive people away from Google supported Android. Just look at how much Microsoft, a software giant, is struggling to gain any shred of market share.

No executive in any reasonable company is going to propose to invest billions in order to squeeze into the highly competitive mobile OS market. Its a huge risk that only a startup could swallow, and yet few startups could even raise the money required to topple the Google supported android market.

What the future is starting to look like is the one Google was initially afraid of, that users were faced a Draconian future, a future whereone company, one device, one carrier would be [the] only choice. As Google gains more power, the open source part that Android users love is going to slowly disappear. This may or may not happen, there are many variables that could prevent it, but it is a future that would bring Google the highest return and that is the goal of all market traded companies.

Brakenshire 13 hours ago 2 replies      
> While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to AndroidGoogle's Androidand members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That's right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.


> This makes life extremely difficult for the only company brazen enough to sell an Android fork in the west: Amazon. Since the Kindle OS counts as an incompatible version of Android, no major OEM is allowed to produce the Kindle Fire for Amazon. So when Amazon goes shopping for a manufacturer for its next tablet, it has to immediately cross Acer, Asus, Dell, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and ZTE off the list. Currently, Amazon contracts Kindle manufacturing out to Quanta Computer, a company primarily known for making laptops. Amazon probably doesn't have many other choices.

That is fairly incredible, I'm surprised it is not an anti-trust/competition issue.

Tyrannosaurs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What's interesting is how having a mobile OS is now only one part of the offering needed to be successful, and is arguably the easiest part.

To be successful on mobile you also need a fairly extensive layer of services. Some of those (web, mail and so on) are easy to bolt together but others such as maps and app stores are far harder and are about data and commercial deals as much as they are about software. While it would be wrong to say that these services can't be opened up, in many cases doing so isn't as straight forward as sharing source code.

It doesn't feel as if Google has changed so much as what it means be a mobile OS has.

stefanve 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the point of this article especially the bit about being an evil genius by ways of making excellent best in business cross OS api's. Really? being competitive is being an evil genius? If amazon is willing it can open there api's to none FireOS apps they have the infrastructure and money to support it, but they don't.

As a user I'm happy that Google is making sure that I can hop device manufactures without loosing my apps or functionality, if everybody would roll out there own app store and removed Google's you would be locked in with the OEM. Now you can safely change to a different phone, also they don't mind you downloading the Google apps when using an alternative ROM.

Android is open source but does that mean that you are not aloud to make money of it by providing closed source apps and service, many open source companies do that. The work that went in to Android if freely available for competitors. Lots of kernel enchantments went back in to Linux and now you have Ubuntu touch and Firefox OS both based on the Android kernel which in turn is based on Linux, how cool is that.

dave1010uk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Small correction: "Chrome is still open source" is incorrect. Chromium is open source. Chrome is closed source.
x0054 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I once read an article in 2010 that criticized people for saying that Apple and iOS of the 2000s is like the Microsoft and Windows of the 90s. The article pointed out that Apple IS the Apple of the 90s and Google with its Android platform will become the Windows of the 90s. I think it's happening. In a few years Android is going to be as closed sourced as Windows, probably as ubiquitous, and most likely, just as prone to security issues.

It's already kind of like windows, no? It runs on hundreds if different devices. It's often bloated by OEM software that people hate. It's prone to security wholes. It's slow and clunky unless you run it on the latest hardware. It bends over backwards for compatibility sake. It's more and more closed sourced...

Android is Mobile windows of the 90s. I hope Ubuntu Mobile will be successful.

ksk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Google's malicious intent is being over-exaggerated. It could simply be that they don't have enough resources to maintain old code. As to them creating closed-source apps, well, Google knows which side their bread is buttered on :) Anything that makes money for them is closed source.
arikrak 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes businesses take measures to increase profits at the expense of their users. However, preventing fragmentation of Android seems to be both in both Google's interests and the users. Only certain competitors could mind. Also, why should Google do all the work of creating an operating system and not get anything in return?
tonyfelice 14 hours ago 3 replies      
"In an ocean with great waves, whales fly into the air unnoticed, but in a calm pond, even the tiniest minnow makes a ripple." -confucius

When the iPhone debuted, no doubt Google sensed the impact, and Apple's ability to create an effective closed ecosystem had already been proven with iTunes. I believe that Google wanted to undermine the market long enough to understand it. True enough, "android winning" was not the same as "Google winning," but it did mean everyone else "losing." I believe that for Google, Android started as a strategy in search of a goal. It was a smokescreen to prevent Apple from taking a dominant position by default. As the data poured in, they began to understand how to leverage it, and the Nexus line became an expression of such understanding, working to establish more control, and hopefully emerge from the smokescreen they had created.

georgestephanis 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, this is really arguable. The "Iron Grip" is the modules that happen to be dependent on authenticated API calls to the servers that Google owns and maintains.

I'd fully support their modules that connect to the cloud servers being open source / GPL / etc, but to expect them to open them up to unauthenticated requests is untenable and leaves them way open to abuse / lack of rate limiting / making the service a bad time for all involved.

alexandros 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So I guess the sign to look out for is Samsung licensing the Amazon APIs?
sriramyadavalli 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Nothing wrong with what Google is doing. Google is essentially a consumer (and enterprise) cloud services company that is looking to commoditize (read open source/sell at cost) all other parts of the stack. That includes open-sourcing Chrome/Android, selling Chromecast/Google Fiber at cost.
yeet 14 hours ago 1 reply      
google had a very good reason to move services outside AOSP, to update them without relying on carriers.they could release billing API v3 w/ 90% compatibility in day 1. this is how they could workaround fragmentation.as an android dev, i love being able to read framework source code for better design, performance and less bugs. that is all really matters imho.
Apocryphon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that there's no mention of Tizen, Samsung and Intel's project and supposedly the former's Plan B to ditch Android altogether. With the same TouchWiz skin both Samsung's Android and Tizen, and with both OS's able to run Android apps, the plan would be to swap out the underlying OS without the users noticing.
pazimzadeh 13 hours ago 1 reply      
So, every Samsung phone effectively comes with three versions of the main apps - the AOSP version, the Google Play version, and Samsung's bloatware?

This seems like a terrible situation for users. Can someone with a Samsung smartphone confirm this?

If this is the case, how are the apps organized when you first buy the phone - are they all in one big apps list?

bsaul 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious to know if there are any internal google project of porting all the Google play API on iOS (either on Objective-C , or using a cross-platform language such as mono develop, which would make more sense).
EGreg 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If AOSP is open source and Google updates let's say the location services, why can't anyone start a similar project for AOSP and have it funded (like by Apache or Mozilla)?

It seems that the main problem is the gatekeepers who manufacture phones.

fblp 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent piece of tech journalism and thank you for the journalist for examining each aspect of Google's strategy so thoroughly.
enimodas 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I've heard that HN is often pro google, but this thread makes it blatantly clear.
peterashford 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Claiming that Google is "controlling open source" by working in-house on it's own Android applications is just really bizarre.
goggles99 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Should read more like "Google has an Iron grip on Google Apps (Gapps)" - Not Android. Android is the OS, not the Google service based apps.
MarkMc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a Google shareholder, this article warms the cockles of my heart. Why should Amazon be able to get all the Android improvements that Google creates?
devx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I know this is potentially dangerous in the future (I worry more about NSA having direct access to all the phones in the world through Google), but in terms of user experience, I welcome this. In order to have an ecosystem that is "as unified and standardized as possible" you need to have one company controlling it, and the vision behind it. Too many companies pulling in too many directions is not that good.

Here's a different perspective:


Tichy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
By any means necessary? So they'd murder to control the source?
wavesum 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see how making closed source apps is "Controlling open source"
cremnob 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Open always wins, until it conflicts with your business interests. "Open" used to be the oft-repeated advantage over iOS in the early days, I wonder if that will slip away from the narrative like "SD card slots", "removable batteries", and "real keyboard" did.
How to make your code imply responsibilities (in Ruby) saturnflyer.com
23 points by saturnflyer  3 hours ago   4 comments top 2
adriancuadros 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great read and use of blocks.

I see how this code would be appropriate in larger apps but when things are just getting started. I would rather see an if else than having to go into three different structures to find out when a certain block of code is to be rendered.

thecolorblue 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a great article. I'm brainstorming how to do this in javascript.
Show HN: SeeMeSpeak, a crowd-sourced dictionary for sign languages kaeff.net
4 points by kaeff  16 minutes ago   1 comment top
Argorak 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am one of the authors: Ask me anything!
Challenges in Distributed Systems (Andy Gross, Basho) infoq.com
31 points by nyuhuhuu  4 hours ago   8 comments top 3
cs702 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I agree with the speaker -- Andy Gross, Principal Architect at Basho, makers of Riak. As he explains in this talk, we're building ever more applications in and for distributed computing environments, but we lack well-documented, standardized, reliable, OS-level tools for:

* managing consensus among many nodes (as he says, "where is my libPaxos?");

* testing distributed code (for example, to see how the system behaves under unusual/unexpected loads or scheduling scenarios); and

* devops (for example, monitoring and managing throughput across all nodes to avoid 'TCP incast'-type problems).

pron 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's what I call "Hacker News Driven Development": When faced with a distributed systems problem, the temptation is to pile more immature code on top of it.
qznc 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Text version? Or at least the slides?

Infoq wants me to login to access the slides. :(

Nimrod: The Return of Pascal steved-imaginaryreal.blogspot.sg
61 points by rohshall  7 hours ago   9 comments top 5
vidarh 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"Pascal" in this context seems to be "static typing with bounds checking" along with a handful of superficial syntactic similarities (but far more differences). You could substitute "Pascal" with a substantial subset of Algol-like languages and the comparison would make just as much (or little) sense.
RobAley 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Lazarus and Free Pascal have been around for an age, likewise Delphi for even longer. And they're all still here. Pascal adoption may have slowed, but it has always been here and no "return" is necessary.

Nice project though.

networked 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion of this post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6316536.

A longer thread about Nimrod: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6272600.

michaelfeathers 2 hours ago 1 reply      
In a world with maps and folds do new languages really need for-loops? They seem like putting goto into a language as a fallback for uncommon performance cases and people who don't have the hang of higher order functions.

In particular, I don't like the fact the for-loops are often used in first examples. I had that issue when I looked at tutorials for D and Go for the first time. My initial reaction was "Seriously?"

roadster72 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure if this will really help improve the adoption rates for Pascal.
       cached 21 October 2013 16:02:01 GMT