hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    22 Oct 2013 News
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USB Implementers Forum Says No to Open Source hackaday.com
60 points by p4bl0  57 minutes ago   11 comments top 4
jrockway 40 minutes ago 3 replies      
Why not just pick a VID and start using it? USB is so well understood at this point that there is no need for anyone to play ball with an "official" organization.

(Whoever gets "officially" issued that VID is going to whine when they notice it's already being used for hobbyist purposes anyway, which means that the technique of just picking one will guarantee uniqueness.)

Aardwolf 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure I fully understand the article. What does the following mean?

"Since other USB device vendors such as Microchip and FTDI give away USB PIDs for free"

Does that actually mean, they give them for free? If so, how can they do that? Why does VTM allow them to do it? And what is the actual problem at all if you can get them for free?

tlarkworthy 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't understand.

I use lots of hobby stuff with USB ports. I have to lookup the vendor ID to make it read write in linux by default.

Presumably getting a proper ID makes this pain point go away from consumers somehow?

What's the gain I don't understand it?

ck2 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Just do what all the $1 Chinese USB devices on ebay do - clone an existing VID
PhpStorm 7.0 final release is here jetbrains.com
26 points by rdemmer  50 minutes ago   2 comments top 2
thejosh 1 minute ago 0 replies      
How are the fonts with Ubuntu (Linux)? Last time I used it a year ago they were terrible.
maaaats 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sweet! I like that I can upgrade for free with my license bought a few months back. Looking forward to trying the Vagrant and SSH stuff.
Google announces uProxy engadget.com
85 points by Anon84  3 hours ago   67 comments top 21
draugadrotten 2 hours ago 5 replies      
> "If someone from a country with limited internet access installs uProxy, they can get a friend from the US to authorize them to surf the open web using their connection. "

In effect, they would also be sending all their sensitive, potentially illegal traffic to be read and copied by the american NSA agency. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%2...

People proxying illegal traffic through the USA would immediately be "on file" in the US registered as dissidents, criminals, and potential spies vulnerable to blackmail from US agencies.

I can see CIA looking at how their propaganda are affecting foreign nations by seeing who reads it from where. Foreign nations could even see proxying subversive traffic through the USA as being a worse crime than the subversive traffic itself.

Think twice about using this.

shazow 2 hours ago 1 reply      
While we're speculating about trust and such, the video mentions that it's a browser extension which connects to a trusted peer and uses the peer as a proxy. This leads me to believe that,

1. Since it's a normal browser extension, the source will be readable and verifiable.

2. It probably uses WebRTC.

It seems Google merely plays an incubator role here for the authors. Either way, I don't see much trust issues that other comments are complaining about.

Looking forward to trying this out when it's released.

jsilence 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why don't they simply run Tor end nodes in each of their server farms all over the world. That would actually help. But that would not make any mainstream news, would it?


nakedrobot2 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice! So I can use uProxy to access the Google Play store to buy a Nexus phone? ("Sorry, not available in your country")

Thanks Google :-)

StavrosK 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
From a cursory reading, 70% of the comments in here are people who came straight to this page to say "I don't trust Google/why wouldn't they do <something else>/Google will just shut this down".

Can we stop with the kneejerk reactions? This is a p2p browser extension, doesn't run through Google, wasn't developed by Google, the only involvement Google had was maybe fund it.

Are we going to be getting these comments any time Google is mentioned from now on?

r0h1n 43 minutes ago 1 reply      
Another "free" Google service that blinds lay people from objectively considering the cost vs. benefits of online privacy/anonymity (since "free" tends to make us act irrationally). Instead, consider paying the equivalent of a cup or two of coffee and buy yourself a real VPN subscription. Even if you must get yourself a free VPN, consider someone other than Google, a company that already has so much data on your digital lives.
gbrindisi 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Sorry Google, I can't really trust you anymore.
tombrossman 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Fast forward a year, HN headline: "Google shutting down uProxy".

It looks interesting and I'm sure some number of people will find it useful while it lasts.

runn1ng 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can I look at the source code ?

The source code will be released by the Universityof Washington under the Apache 2 license afterthe trusted tester phase is completed .

This is the important part.

xr09 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
So Google helps building a proxy for by passing their own censorship, Bravo Google, Bravo. (I'm being ironic of course)

This is what I get any time I try to download anything from Google Code or Android sdk or even read something hosted on GAE.


I'm in Cuba but the same should be for Iran and others "bad boys".

knob 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't trust Google with this.

Fuck no.

Why don't they help develop the Tor plugin?

Why don't the open up a whole bunch of Tor nodes?

Wait... scratch that last one.

This is just bad.

venomsnake 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have a better idea - bring the cost of project loon balloons really low (order of magnitude below the price of the rockets needed to shoot them) and just flood the censoring country sky with them.

The country will either have to bankrupt itself or open its internet.

lispm 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
So US government employees could install it to read Snowden's documents?

Then the NSA gets a list of those who do?

lotsofcows 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Good timing as nyud.net seems to have stopped working.
saljam 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This sounds good. But how is it better than just installing Tor?
iSnow 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Slackers rejoice! No way to block you from surfing porn at work anymore :)
mostafah 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It will be very interesting for us living in Iran. We have a lot of friends abroad.
guidopallemans 2 hours ago 2 replies      
why should I trust google for an application that would enhance my internet privacy?
wil421 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
So is this kinda of like Tor but without the anonymity and only one peer to connect to?
gohwell 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What about corporate firewalls?
Sales Are Colossal, Shares Are Soaring. All Amazon Is Missing Is a Profit nytimes.com
31 points by petethomas  1 hour ago   26 comments top 9
simonsarris 1 minute ago 0 replies      
The missing profit is a blessing for Amazon.

None of the other titans are challenging Amazon. They can't because Amazon's Earnings Per Share are...

-0.23. Negative 0.23.

Investors often lump AMZN with GOOG and the like but GOOG's EPS is 33.59. TGT? 4.26. Walmart is 5.07.No other company with a market cap (100+Bn) as large as AMZN is allowed to get away with negative EPS. The only one that comes close is Vodafone, with a tiny positive EPS (0.13).

It's important to note that if any other company spent until their EPS was negative, investors would flip.Amazon is playing with razor thin margins while trying to scale up a platform to end all platoforms that we might someday use for everything without thinking about it. If successful, on that day/year/eon dollar bills might as well be printed with Jeff Bezos' face on them.

Amazon won't be using UPS and Fedex trucks on that day. They'll be using Amazon trucks. You'll know that era when you see it, I think.

If you're Walmart or Target its hard to justify trying to do something similar at this point, the stock could take a major dive from such a risk. They're at the "Ask-questions" phase, and the questions are always "What's the profit?" because these are publicly traded companies. Amazon has been playing it risky since the get-go.Bezos is in for a very long gamble, and that frustrates the hell out of some investors, but its lofty enough to still attract investment dollars while in the "build-first" stage. Hopefully they can pull it off for a few more years before the stock market shifts to asking questions.

So Amazon gets to play the long game that other companies are literally disallowed from playing because investors that have seen profits want more. Amazon gets to do something bold that would cause the mother of all stock dives in any other 100+Bn company. They get a free pass because Bezos is convincing and for Amazon its sort-of-always-been-this-way. Walmart/Target/Etc do not have either of those luxuries - the incredible (or believable) visionary and being a company that's still in burn (build) mode.

toyg 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think this sort of analysis misses three important elements:

1. Control. Absolute control over a huge chunk of worldwide B2B and B2C transactions is extremely valuable per se, in political and commercial terms. It's power that can be leveraged in a number of ways which are not necessarily reflected in the balance sheet. Bezos just bought the most influential newspaper in US political circles; this guy knows a thing or two about setting the agenda.

2. There is corporate profit and personal profit. Amazon employees are themselves turning quite a bit of personal profit. Does that make Amazon a No-Profit ? That's debatable. As someone else mentioned, pure profit is easy to tax, while "operating expenses" and share dealing can be shuffled around.

3. Industrialism. Many XIX-century industrialists saw their companies as agents of change as well as sources of profits. Amazon is pushing the envelop in commercial infrastructure (fully-automated warehouses, software-enhanced packaging, customer-seller variable relationships, etc etc) as well as creating whole new markets (AWS). As long as they don't start bleeding money, they're running a self-sustained engine of change, which is an achievement in itself.

existencebox 40 minutes ago 1 reply      
I see two sides to this. First; the closing paragraph of the article, clearly intended to convince you amazon is out to get you once they've wiped out all the other competition. That's all fine and dandy, and isn't I don't think directly controverted by evidence; but in the same statement, I think it is far from affirmed.

The second side, then, is what I see this all as evidence of. Disclaimer, I know fuck all about the subtleties of running large businesses, but when you step back and look at the what they're doing at a high level, expanding facilities, exploring new markets, new products, during what is as the article stated an investment boom time and where maintaining a certain level of revenue might be a "somewhat safe bet", it makes sense to me that you would use this time to make more bets. Risk becomes more acceptable when you're not living dollar to dollar; the box of nails anecdote, simple as it is, spoke buckets to me. (maybe I'm overreading.) At the risk of showing extreme naivete, I would LOVE to for once believe that a company is simply using all of its financial resources to continually try to provide optimal and novel services. Shipping goes up in price; that's how the market works when you add more services without anyone funding em, the cash has to come from somewhere. I guess my hope is that the shipping is only raising due to their trying to provide new services, and that there will still be sufficient competition that amazon hasn't killed off to prevent this from going out of hand; and that it was just as I said above, a way to fund growth and try to balance for changing economic times, and not a sign of the impinging amazon monopolypse.

Oops, suddenly essay, and now I'm late for work...

onedev 27 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think Prime is amazing. It's driven me to purchase things that I otherwise normally wouldn't have; that says a lot because I'm not usually one to buy a lot of "stuff".

It's incredibly convenient, I often buy stuff from mobile and it'll be on my doorstep in two days. It's literally magic and I love it.

I can't even begin to comprehend the levels of logistical wizardry it takes to make all of that happen.

I'm inclined to think Amazon knows exactly what they're doing here.

bedhead 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
This story line is so incredibly hackneyed. It's boring. You either believe that Amazon is a giant non-profit, some kind of cosmic joke that Bezos is playing on the world, or you believe that Amazon is one of the most unique and brilliant companies ever and that maaaaaaybe their true profitability shouldn't be judged by our ever-increasing myopic standards.
smackfu 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's way easier to run a company if investors aren't expecting a profit. They don't complain about how you spend your cash, or that your operating margins have ticked up or down a percent this quarter, or that you missed your profit number in the latest results. Setting that profit expectation is the tricky bit, so why would Amazon give it up now?
IBM 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
The stock is tremendously overvalued, no value investor would ever buy AMZN. The assumptions needed to justify its current price are absurd. The bull case of "they'll put their competitors out of business and then raise prices" is one of the most shallow analyses of a company I've heard and just highlights that person's lack of business insight. The quote from Horace Dediu is correct, AMZN isn't going to be able to raise margins without it costing it revenue growth, they're stuck as a low-cost retailer or they risk their customers going elsewhere.
InclinedPlane 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Amazon's losses are less than 1% of their revenue. Their net income loss is about 0.06% of their revenues, and less than 1% of their cash on hand, in fact.

Amazon isn't losing money, it's operating at break-even to maximize growth. That should be obvious to anyone paying attention. They're growing AWS like crazy. They're expanding into new markets and services. And they're expanding into different countries. They're turning into a remarkably diversified company with both high-volume/low-margin and high-margin businesses.

If Amazon were a value stock distributing their profits in the form of dividends then their lack of profit would be a big deal, but it's a growth stock, and their tradeoff of profit in favor of growth is actually welcomed by the market, as evidenced by the stock price.

pinaceae 56 minutes ago 3 replies      
sales is kind of easy if you don't care about profit. also kills off competition, which in turn makes sales easier.

but what happens once profits are needed? or is amazon the largest NPO on earth?

The humble USB cable is part of an electrical revolution economist.com
22 points by JumpCrisscross  1 hour ago   9 comments top 4
tomp 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Personally, I find Apple's new cables much more useful - smaller plugs, and you don't need to worry which way is up or down. I wonder, however, if it could transmit the same amount of energy, but even if it could not, another standard could be made with bigger/thicker cables, but similarly useful plug.
leoedin 41 minutes ago 3 replies      
It's a pity that our history of low voltage DC connectors has been so poor. The 12V cigarette lighter connector is awful, and yet it became, slowly, the standard for 12V connections. The USB cable is not exactly brilliant either. The article touches on it, but the fact you basically don't know which way it goes in until you attempt to plug it in is awful.

Hopefully the manufacturers will have the sense to move towards a slightly more sane connector to use in everything. I think the fear that it has to be backwards compatible is less prevalent now than it used to be (micro USB has completely replaced mini USB in most situations). I'm looking forward to sane relatively high power DC connections everywhere.

Fuxy 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Seems like a good idea. A new house should have both AC and DC available.

Save us all the wasted power and effort converting AC to DC in most electronics.

I just hope we don't go overboard removing AC. Some thing are just simpler using AC.

eliben 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
The new Chromebook 11 already charges from USB: http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/hp-chromebook-1...
How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes pythonsweetness.tumblr.com
371 points by _wmd  10 hours ago   135 comments top 22
jpatokal 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Just another reminder of how systems that you'd think are rock solid often aren't.

In my previous life working with telcos, I once tried to teach a particularly huge customer how to use CVS how to manage configurations across a 10+ machine cluster of machines. They didn't see any value in it, so they stuck to their good old process of SSHing into each machine individually, "cp config.xml config.xml.20131022", and then editing the configs by hand. Didn't take too long until a typo in a chmod command took down the whole thing (= the node couldn't take down a network interface anymore, so failover stopped working), and they spent several weeks flying in people from all over the planet to debug it... and they still didn't learn their lesson!

adambratt 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The week after this we had a trader in our office who had a meeting at Knight on the morning it happened.

He said he saw the whole dev team just power off and go home at 11am, followed quickly by the rest of the employees. At that point, there was nothing they could do.

The craziest thing is that it went on for so long. No one caught it until their own traders so it come across Bloomberg and CNBC. They actually thought it was a rival HFT and tried to play against it.

The only people that came out of this ahead were aggressive algos on the other side and a few smart individual traders. A lot of retail guys had stop losses blown through that normally would never have been hit. After trading was halted they set the cap at 20% loss for rolling back trades. So if you lost 19% of your position in that short period of craziness, tough luck.

scrrr 4 hours ago 5 replies      
High Frequency Trading seems so abstract. There's no value created, it seems. It's like something in between imperfect systems, scraping off the margin created by that imperfection. It's fascinating, and interesting from an algorithmic point of view (like a computer game), but at the same time I don't feel sympathy for this company going out of business.
manishsharan 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Don't humans also make similar large scale mistakes? Merill Lynch's infamous London whale comes to mind. Also. I could be wrong but aren't most of derivatives a zero sum game: don't I have to lose money on my puts for you to make money on your calls ? Didn't so many people lose money on securities because they misunderstood their exposure ?

The Knight computer error was spectacular and catastrophic but us humans have a longer track record of making catastrophic financial decisions in the market.

sirsar 9 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm shocked they didn't have a killswitch or automated stop-loss of some kind. A script that says "We just lost $5M in a few minutes; maybe there's a problem." Or, a guy paid minimum wage to watch the balance, with a button on his desk. $172,222 is a lot of minimum-wage years.
malbs 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Just one of the risks of automation, and a good reminder why human monitoring is necessary.

Having said that, we deployed a system that was mostly automated, with the human operator to oversee investments and if any out-of-the-ordinary transactions (based on experience) were taking place, to shut it down. She happily sat there approving the recommendations even though the recommendations were absolutely outside of anything we'd ever generated in the past, and bled accounts dry in one evening, so sometimes even with a human observing you're still boned.

fiatmoney 9 hours ago 3 replies      
"The best part is the fine: $12m, despite the resulting audit also revealing that the system was systematically sending naked shorts."

Cool - all you have to do to get away with financial crimes is create a system with no protections against breaking the law.

vincie 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I would love to hear from an ex-Knight tech. Wouldn't be surprised if they wrote something along the lines of: "Management just wanted this thing in ASAP!", or perhaps "Tests weren't part of the kpi's". I may sound biased against non-techs, but I have seen this time and time again. Testing is a barrier to quick deployment, and "How much money are we losing while doing all that stoopid testing?".
mgav 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, though I was happy to see Knight Capital take the huge loss, since they were such complete scumbags who stole hundreds of millions of dollars by backing away from trades* during the dotcom boom and bust.

*Backing away is when a market maker makes a firm offer to buy or sell shares, receives an order to execute that transaction (which they are ethically and legally obligated to do) and instead cancels the trade so they can trade those shares at a more favorable price (capturing enormous unethical profits in fast-moving markets while regulators did virtually nothing to enforce the rules in a meaningful way)

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1ddUzWP

yogo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember when Knight was in the news regarding this but never the technical details about what took place. It's scary stuff especially given the money on the line, and it makes a good case study for devops. I understand the temptation to re-use a field but normally I'm for using new values in those fields.
zipfle 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
The original report is remarkably well-written. It's nice when you get someone with the domain knowledge to understand an issue and also the language skill to explain it clearly.
OSButler 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The title reminds me of hosting clients, who would complain about losing thousands of dollars per minute when their $10/month website was experiencing downtime.
mischanix 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Well, this makes me 1000x more scared of working in a DevOps role.
pallandt 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, this could have been prevented at so many 'checkpoints' that it reads like an almost cautionary, fake anecdote rather than a real story.
Narkov 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Out of interest, what would have been the outcome for Knight if their positions had caused them to be winners? $12m fine, keep the spoils and "carry on" ?
telephonetemp 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I assumed they had redundant servers with consensus algorithms in place in finance but apparently they don't. Would it be impractical?
dror 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Is there any benefit to the market as a whole to have these high speed transactions trying to game the system?

Seems like as a rule, they're likely to cause instability, and I have a hard time seeing any benefits in them.

tantalor 5 hours ago 2 replies      
That explains how the deprecated "Power Peg" model was activated, but why was that model so flawed?
Houshalter 6 hours ago 3 replies      
They fined them for losing money? What?
shtylman 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Hindsight is 20/20
drill_sarge 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I still find just the fact scary that at this moment automated systems are shoving billions of fake money back and forth around the world.
meepmorp 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Powder Keg is a distinctly un-reassuring name for finance related functionality.
A new HTML5 Admin Teamplate html5admin.com
64 points by ricricucit  2 hours ago   46 comments top 18
afandian 1 hour ago 4 replies      
My first reaction was ARGH MY EYES! Not in a pompous design way, but looking at that blurry image actually made my head hurt. Maybe it's just me but I find the blurred-image-in-the-background very difficult to work with.

I wasn't surprised when Microsoft did it (they never had much design sense), but it was a surprise to see it in iOS.

lignuist 1 hour ago 1 reply      
> A new HTML5 Admin Teamplate

And I thought this is a new way of collaborative ("Team") template creation. :)

dictum 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Like Bootstrap itself, this would greatly benefit from having the line-height in body set to 1.6 or 1.7.

Test it with Inspect Element: http://www.html5admin.com/demo/ and http://getbootstrap.com/css/

unwind 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought the typo in the title ("Teamplate") was another annoying neologism, almost made me glad to realize it's just a typo! :)
est 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've tried many beautiful admin templates, all of them are visually nice, quite suitable for integrating as dashboards and "read-only" panels. But very few of them actually tries to solve the "hard" problem: how to transform "rational" row based data into read-writable web forms.

Server-side & client side interactions, validations, cascading events, descriptive forms, etc. Given two or three slightly sophisticated m2m models you get stuck either to re-write from scratch or re-invent your own.

laveur 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like what I saw until I saw that it wasn't open source and based on Bootstrap. This saddens me.
philliphaydon 29 minutes ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who doesn't like this? IMO for an administration site its pretty bad.
locusm 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think the DesignModo guys set the standard for paid themes with their FlatUI pack which is also Bootstrap based.http://designmodo.com/flat/
eksith 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I like it. Nice and clean though, I'm not too big a fan of "flat", it gets the job done without too much fluff. For a developer strapped for time, something simple to slap on the back (no pun intended) definitely works.

Tinsey nitpick in UI http://www.html5admin.com/demo/ui.html , spacing between the input fields in "Inline form" could help, but that's definitely an easy fix.

paaaaaaaaaa 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's good but I think it needs a bit more work. I have found a couple issues.

Sliders do not work in firefox, they are missing the handles.

The switches or very difficult to understand whats active. However I guess that's a common issue with switches like these.

Some other things seem broken for me too. The html5 date picker "Works on every HTML5 device" doesn't work along with the colour picker.

I do like that ink filepicker though. Not seen that before, very useful.

Personally I would go for something on wrapbootstrap eg: https://wrapbootstrap.com/theme/ace-responsive-admin-templat...

AgLiAn 2 hours ago 5 replies      
davidw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What I'd like to see is someone fixing Active Admin to work with Bootstrap.
corobo 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Not sure what the licensing pricing is telling me here, it looks like all of the licenses are the same except the price?
zamalek 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I was thinking I would have to write something like this. With all the backend admin pages you would think there would be a nice template for it.

Good job!

ngcazz 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It's nice, but did that page really need 30 seconds for the text and images to render at all?
adem 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who thinks that those one-size-fits-all solutions (esp. Bootstrap) are really not the way to go? Sure, it drastically reduces the development time, but using templates for specific purposes are meant to fail, aren't they?
itsbits 2 hours ago 1 reply      
basically its just design using bootstrap...
thesimon 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Not one of the best designs, especially at that price.
What happened to Priceonomics? danieru.com
125 points by Danieru  7 hours ago   48 comments top 13
nostromo 6 hours ago 10 replies      
This is a difficult space.

I started a similar company, Shopobot. We launched, raised, got good press. Things looked great!

Shortly after we watched as Decide and Priceonomics launched.

After months of beating our head against the wall, we came to the conclusion that we weren't competing against Decide and Priceonomics. We were competing against Amazon.

Everyone we talked to loved the idea. But we found their praise didn't turn into clicks. We'd ask them why, and they'd always say, "oh, I just went to Amazon."

One day our lead dev was telling me about a recent purchase and I asked him if he used our site to find a good price. "No, I just used Amazon. I have Prime." That's when I knew we were fucked. Competing against Amazon without a really really strong value prop is not easy.

We've long since pivoted, Decide shut down, and now Priceonomics is perhaps pivoting. I think CamelCamelCamel is still at it! After all the VC money flushed out, the bootstrapper is still standing. :)

This reminds me, I have a long blog post to finish about how comparison shopping and price guides are difficult to pull off.

rohin 6 hours ago 9 replies      
Hi, I'm a co-founder of Priceonomics. Basically we started seeing more traction from two things (that weren't our consumer price guide).

First, the traffic from our blog was dwarfing the traffic (and engagement) on our price guide. We originally started our blog just to get links to drive SEO to our price guide. But, it turns out we love blogging so we really put our hearts into it.

Second, we started getting a lot more revenue from helping companies acquire and structure data than we were making from the price guide. All those blog posts we write were we crawl the web and do analysis based on the data? That was testing this out. We'll be writing more about that soon, so stay tuned.

The result is that we decided to focus on helping businesses get data and writing about data via our blog. About a month ago we started depreciating the consumer price guide.

Happy to answer any questions!

Danieru 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow my post hit the frontpage! This gives me a fine chance to see happens to an uncached wordpress blog behind Nginx and php5-fpm. So far no explosions.

Now I realize the guys behind priceonomics might read this I hope they take it well. I liked their early blog posts, those were interesting!

This homepage makes me concerned that the original business plan is not working out. It feels like they are resorting, or pivoting, to a classical product recommendation site. I hope this is not the case. Maybe I just hit a bad combination of randomized A/B tests.

AznHisoka 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Simple. They've built what search engines want vs what humans wanted: content that will rank in the search engines and get more shares/clicks. Thin product comparison pages no longer rank well and even worse a lot of them may give the signal that you're not a quality site.

Sometime this year or last, these guys probably looked at their traffic growth and realized this existing model was never going to cut it. Their sole strategy is search engine traffic and their pages were not ranking.

diziet 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope priceonomics is doing well and do not get acquired like Decide.com did by ebay: https://medium.com/on-startups/d74efec8b1a8

Unfortunately I know them mostly from their blog and not their product.

fusionflo 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Interestingly, my co-founder and I always still fell into the trap of purchasing something on the net and within a few days seeing the product for a whole bunch less. About a year ago, we set about building a tool that would "monitor/watch" the prices on our behalf and we wanted it to work on any shopping site.

A few month ago, we launched Pricify http://pricify.com and this is our first iteration. Basically, you can use a simple bookmarklet to add products to pricify from any online store, once the product drops in price the system sends you an email or facebook notification, if at any point the product hits it all time lowest price it sends you a separate email as well.

Last week we had a guy who bought a car as a result of the price drop he noticed and contact us to thank us. This has provided us further confidence of its use.

We've learnt so much already and are adding what our users are asking for. Ultimately, we want to build something that solved a problem for us in the hope that it solves the problem for others, so far we have been seeing promising results.

We want to get into the content, blogging from a SEO perspective, but we've had very limited bandwidth trying to focus on the main functionality itself being completely bootstrapped!

Early days, but would love any advice on whats already being learnt from the others out here.

ramykhuffash 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed this a while back. I'm guessing their blogging efforts were so successful, they decided to make it the focus and become a media business. I too would love to hear what's going on behind the scenes at Priceonomics.
dmazin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's telling that I was surprised by this because I always thought Priceonomics was a blog so interesting as to get YC funding.
poissonpie 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The trouble is, although OP believes Priceonomics should be solving his particular pain point, they clearly aren't in the business of "solving" it anymore. They are in the business of making money and if their site has downgraded your particular use case, it means, ceteris paribus, that it just wasn't making money for them.
mugenx86 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The business model of Pricenomics seems to be that of placing more power in the hands of the consumer, increasing buyer bargaining power. This is what many vendors, especially tech vendors such as Apple/Google try to avoid. Product release cycles are kept secret for good reason.
uts_ 7 hours ago 0 replies      
ankgyl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If you liked the original concept of priceonomics, you might like this: http://www.pricemachine.com/

(Disclosure: I work for the company behind this website)

ivanbrussik 6 hours ago 0 replies      
what the heck! this is preposterous. i wonder what "seo genius" decided that this was a good idea. hmmm lets totally get rid of the #1 reason why users hit our site and replace it with "seo friendly" articles.

edit: and im not saying that having a blog is bad, but to completely hide the main functionality of the site just doesnt make any sense.

Argue well by losing haacked.com
46 points by levosmetalo  4 hours ago   14 comments top 8
hooande 2 hours ago 2 replies      

  How to compose a successful critical commentary:  1. Attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly and fairly that   your target says: "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."  2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general  or widespread agreement).  3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
I wish that hackernews could be like this. It would be like laying down troll poison. Even the most hardcore jerks don't like when the only response they get is to be killed by kindness.

I read the book "Getting To Yes" by Roger Patton. It's highly recommend and considered to be the manual on negotiation. And the main point of advice from it was: Be Nice. Argument and negotiation aren't supposed to be about who is louder or more aggressive. Calmly laying out points that are backed up by facts works better every time.

Online arguments tend to be low stakes affairs. I can understand why so many hn discussions devolve into personal attacks and accusations. I can only hope that people behave differently in person. The best way to win an argument is to turn it into a niceness contest where everybody walks away feeling better for the experience.

acjohnson55 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thought-provoking article. I often battle friends on Facebook over issues of politics, economics, and stuff, and I definitely notice that people are generally more interested in winning than learning. In fact, that's the model cable news shows and presidential debates teach us. It's all about introducing some obscure fact or anecdote that your opponent can't possibly know off-hand to force them to have to research enough to rebut, acquiesce to your position, duck and counter with their own obscure fact, throw an exasperated ad hominem, or quietly slink away. But none of those tactics involve actually trying to learn some better picture of the truth or examining your own belief schema.

I think we've kind of moved to a post-fact society in this sense. Every position has it's own set of miscellaneous facts that seem to support it, and those facts are typically unverifiable, or at least certainly unverified. Factual debate seems to quickly descend into partisanship. I've come to believe that it's far more interesting and useful to debate principles instead.

thaumasiotes 2 hours ago 1 reply      
In the past I frequently tried to begin arguments / discussions by carefully going over what I thought of as background assumptions. (To me, this is at least closely related to the proposed step 1, restate your opponent's position clearly.)

My experience suggests that if you do that, the other party will never stop disagreeing with you no matter how far up the chain you go. Many, many, many arguments never happened in my mind, while having happened quite heatedly in the other person's, because of this.

There was another phenomenon which might be related: a person would start telling me about a problem of theirs (I used to think it was weird for people I barely knew to do this, but I've come to suspect that people just like venting about problems they're experiencing), I'd rephrase it to be sure I understood what they were saying, and they would say something along the lines of "thanks, that was really helpful" and go away happy.

jpswade 2 hours ago 2 replies      
You cant win an argument. You cant because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph. And A man convinced against his will Is of the same opinion still.

Carnegie, Dale (2010-09-30). How To Win Friends And Influence People (Kindle Locations 1972-1977). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

paddy_m 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I recently read Crucial Conversations. It is big on finding a shared purpose in a conversation, and maintaining a feeling of safety. I recommend it strongly.
011011100 2 hours ago 0 replies      
An important part of any argument is expressing any values or priorities you might have. So it's still possible to disagree with the conclusion, even if you agree on the facts. People should just be able to acknowledge diversity in priorities or "biases". A lot of times this just doesn't happen. People want to frame the disagreement in an objective sort of way.
TheSpiceIsLife 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Also check out Fred Kofman on youtube, his Verbal Aikido is great while very basic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6N9nvk8bvE also check out his other work.
erik14th 1 hour ago 0 replies      
that reminds me of Monty Python's arguing clinic sketch
How to Tango with Django: A Python Django Tutorial tangowithdjango.com
11 points by pajju  58 minutes ago   discuss
Ogg founder moves to Mozilla to work on new video codec gigaom.com
127 points by bsimpson  9 hours ago   24 comments top 8
jph 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is excellent news.

Monty Montgomery is among my hero developers for nearly two decades now, building Xiph, Ogg, Vorbis, Theora, and the like.

Mozilla and Monty sounds like a wonderful match for creating free open source codecs, and bringing them to everyone.

Congratulations to Mozilla and Monty!

vitno 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out his fantastic demo pages for a look at the work being done on Daala.http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/daala/demo1.shtml

This is great news!

aw3c2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Already__Taken 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Should I stop refreshing this page hoping for more?


jzzskijj 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Excellent news that H.265 has competition, but at the same time I am feeling a bit pessimistic. Consider Theora for example: Even if there is open source VHDL available for Theora, it was only implemented in Nios II and LEON processors and according to Wikipedia "there are currently no Theora decoder chips in production". Even a license free codec wasn't enough to attract interest from manufacturers.

Youtube delivers huge part of the "relevant" video material in Internet. And Google has their own video codec. Would they include Mozilla's codec into their browser (and smartphones) instead and start encoding videos in their own service with Mozilla's codec? Quite unlikely. At least the article doesn't mention anything about DRM, so would it be enough for Netflix?

mschuster91 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Oh no, please not ANOTHER codec in the mix. Hell, we don't have a single codec that works OOTB in all popular browsers without external software (I consider IE, FF, Chrome, Safari and their mobile counterparts). For now, it's WebM, Ogg and H264 which one has to transcode and store just for shipping a video to desktop and mobile.

And while we're talking about mobile, I'm sure that SoC decoding support will take not 2015 to arrive, rather than 2016 - give or take a couple more years because some patent troll will always dig up some dirt.

robinduckett 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Sorry to be the one to do this, but

Relevant XKCD: http://xkcd.com/927/

yeukhon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So that's him living in MA working remote. He did not show up at monday meeting!
How to get rid of old stuff, sell it for more, and use Amazon as cheap storage benguild.com
449 points by benguild  17 hours ago   122 comments top 25
8ig8 16 hours ago 19 replies      
I wish I could ship everything in my attic to Amazon and they would photograph, catalog and store the stuff privately.

Then for some kind of low annual fee I could ship things in and out as needed.

This service would include pre-scheduled shipments of holiday decoration.

The problem I have is that I forget what is in my attic. On a few occasions I've purchased something only to find out I already own one. It was just buried in the attic and I forgot about it. If I try to buy something on Amazon, this service would remind me that I already own it and ship it to me.

Besides the attic stuff, I also have small random, rarely-used things that I know I'll need in the future, but don't know where to store them so I'll find them in the future.

Someone once suggested that I just keep a running list of items near the attic door. I tried it, but didn't keep up with it.

It would be nice to set some kind of expiration of my stuff as well. If I don't request an item from Amazon Attic in 18 months, it can be sold. Maybe that's a way to offset my fees.

Another idea... This could have a social aspect (what doesn't these days!?). I could give select friends access to my personal Amazon Attic catalog and they can borrow something, again for a low shipping fee. Amazon will send them a friendly email to return it and then charge them eventually if they don't.

(YC, here I come.)

murtza 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting idea. I looked up Amazon's storage fees [1]: $0.45 per cubic foot per month from January to September; $0.60 per cubic foot per month from October to December.

If you are using this as a long-term storage solution you have to be careful because Amazon charges, "A semi-annual Long-Term Storage Fee of $22.50 per cubic foot will be applied to any Units that have been stored in an Amazon fulfillment center for one year or longer...Each seller may maintain a single Unit of each ASIN in its inventory, which will be exempted from the semi-annual Long-Term Storage Fee."

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=2...

simonw 16 hours ago 3 replies      
How do books work? Can you just bung a bunch of old textbooks in a box and ship it to them? Do you have to package them separately at all, or put stickers on them, or do you literally just stick them in a box?

Are there any mobile apps for scanning barcodes on books and automatically building your Amazon catalog?

vinhboy 16 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing that should be emphasized for anyone who has not use FBA before: The cost of shipping something to an amazon warehouse is REALLY cheap if you use their provided shipping service. I would say it's about 1/3 of the actual cost of shipping it yourself.
binarysolo 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Just remember guys: useful for small footprint, high value line items that are mass-produced. (Conversely, not so useful for old items with low resale like clothes, or craft one-off items, or big things like furniture.)

When your object of question hits a low-enough dollar value that your opportunity cost for making a buck off it exceeds your time value, why not donate it to a Goodwill instead. :)

tnuc 16 hours ago 1 reply      
An article that is short on details and has no fewer that 8(eight) affiliate links to Amazon.

I am lost for words.

edandersen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is the link to Amazon Fufillment without the referral tags:


kerpal 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I never actually tried their warehouse fulfillment service but I swear by Amazon for selling used gadgets. Amazon gets a lot of traffic from consumers making it a great way to sell something quickly. I remember listing an used Android phone that was maybe two year old technology at that point. I went to list it and within a few hours someone snagged it at like $90. The only other route I've ever tried is Craigslist, which has worked out pretty well too. Asking for the same price you can usually have someone pick up the item locally and get every cent you are asking for if you're reasonable. I always price things about 20% more than I think I will sell through CL.
kreek 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This article got one thing wrong; "eBay's fees can be kind of a rip off" should be "eBay's fees ARE a huge rip off". That combined with the removal of negative feedback for buyers is why you should try Amazon rather than sell as an individual on eBay.
stretchwithme 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Best thing is to not let things sit around after you stop using them. The chances that someone else can use them just keeps dropping.

And you can't use the space it takes up, which is probably the most expensive thing about old stuff. If you pay $2000 a month for 1000 square feet, every square foot costs you $24 bucks a year. An old PC taking up 3 square feet for 5 years costs you $360.

And, sure, it probably was going to be empty space. But we do need empty space, just as we need white space. All the clutter has a psychic cost.

CalRobert 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately Amazon flagged my account as fraudulent, I can only assume because a previous tenant in my apartment evidently ripped people off. We received their mail for some time and most if it seemed shady. It's been a year but I cannot sell. There is no appeal, and no recourse. I've had an account with Amazon for more than half my life (something like 12 years) but no dice.

Too bad, because this sounds handy. Kind of wish they had even a halfway decent competitor, though.

res0nat0r 16 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing mentioned about the cables: Do you have to create entries online under your FBA account for every item you ship, or can they figure that out for you? I have tons of cables and other things I'd like to sell that is in good condition, but me spending hours upon hours looking up every model of cable / cheap item I have isn't worth my time.
chavesn 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The OP suggested that it's a bad option for phones. But Amazon offers something else for higher-end items that worked great for me,"Amazon Trade-in" (http://www.amazon.com/Trade-In/).

You start by finding your product in the store, and they give you prices for different condition levels. You pick a level, checkout, ship your items for free, and await receipt and review. If accepted as the condition you picked, you get an Amazon gift card for the amount. They might even upgrade your items to a higher condition.

If not accepted, your items are returned, free of charge. The only risk is the waste of time.

A month ago, I traded in two nearly-3-year-old iPhone 4's. I listed them as "Good". Both were accepted and one was upgraded to "Like New" for $20 more. I got $380 total, which I was extremely happy with.

MWil 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is hilarious to me because I sold three things today on Amazon and thought on the drive back from UPS, this should be getting more press how easy this is.

I sold a laptop though which is the only item I'm worried about being returned. Luckily I listed it as not having a battery and not having a hdd so it's already listed as not in working condition.

nikolak 16 hours ago 2 replies      
So technically, I could buy items cheaply on ebay or similar sites, ship them to amazon warehouse and sell it there for profit and also have them handle pretty much everything from selling to customer support?

Or am I missing something and this wouldn't work?

hsitz 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks to benguild for the blog article. I had seen used books in Amazon price lists as shipped by Amazon and qualifying for free supersaver shipping, but I'd never gotten around to finding out how this "fulfillment by Amazon" worked.

I looked at the info on Amazon's website and I still have a couple questions.

(1) Amazon charges a fee of something like $0.42 per pound when shipping. Is this just for supersaver shipments? Or does it also apply when Amazon collects from the customer for standard or expedited shipping?

(2) I see Amazon charges fees for storage and shipping, but I don't see where they take any percentage of the sale. Am I missing something?

blueblob 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Do they have heated garages for my car? :-)
thekevan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The top comment is someone wishing this was a totally different service which ends up in people either mentioning other startups which do something like that but not quite the same, or what it is like to store things in SF.
csense 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. They do need to advertise this better because I had no idea this service existed.
Apocryphon 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the idea and sentiment. The pale font of the page's text, less so.
lchitnis 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Reposting on Facebook. This is great. I've always wanted to do this on Amazon but found I had this great inertia in finding out just how to go about doing it. It seemed like a big hassle, but it really isn't. This article simplified it.
argumentum 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon S3: Simple Stuff Storage
gesman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon needs to open new fullfillment facility to handle stuff in my basement + garage :)
locacorten 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Coding is dead.

When the top news on HN is how to make $5 selling used computer cables on Amazon, you know coding is dead.

Grug 9 hours ago 0 replies      
CurrencyFair: A P2P platform for currency exchange techworld.com.au
18 points by pioul  3 hours ago   15 comments top 6
shocks 6 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is a brilliant idea. I always resented changing money, it never crossed my mind that a P2P platform like this could solve the problem so nicely. A perfect example of a problem staring you in the face
danielhunt 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey there - I'm on the tech team in CurrencyFair.

We've been around for a few years now, but weren't expecting to see our name pop up on HN just yet. Of course, now that it's here, if anyone has any questions about what we do, feel free to ask and I'll get back to you asap.

If you're looking for a direct link, it's at the bottom of the OP, or: https://www.currencyfair.com

NatW 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've actually used Currency Fair to exchange between dollars and euros (and I'm completely un-associated with the company or anyone there). My experience was positive - it was actually fun, with a bit of drama to see if someone would take my offers. It took a bit of time to set up my transfers, etc, but it was significantly cheaper than I would have paid using a regular retail bank's foreign exchange offerings. Nice work!
rb2k_ 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've used this a few times to transfer money from Germany to the US. Worked fine. Only downside: US Banks seem to still recognise it as an international wire transfer and deduct the matching fees (10$ in my case).

But the exchange rate is better than what I'd usually get at my bank and the transfer from Germany to Ireland is free too.

munimkazia 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I was initially disappointed that India didn't feature in the list of countries/currencies, and then I realized that something like this would be shut down here by RBI/IT Dept in a heartbeat.
decob 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Intense debate privacy weakness - I know who you are apphb.com
5 points by fmavituna  43 minutes ago   1 comment top
kmfrk 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
I was wondering what the hell was meant by "intense debate", but I think it refers to this comments service: http://intensedebate.com/.
New dutch political party wants 1,000 basic income for everyone translate.google.com
3 points by namenotrequired  6 minutes ago   1 comment top
namenotrequired 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Haskell kernel for IPython github.com
6 points by lelf  1 hour ago   discuss
TypeScript 0.9 Whats Improved flippinawesome.org
4 points by remotesynth  40 minutes ago   discuss
Send Self Destructing E-mails fade.li
18 points by nmudgal  2 hours ago   30 comments top 15
pyalot2 1 hour ago 2 replies      
1) Open email in gmail (do not press display images)

2) Options on the right "Show Original"

3) Copy the URL that goes like: http://content.fade.li/selcouth/... to a new tab

4) Save image as

5) ...

6) Profit!

For added fun, somebody please go and register unfade.li, if you forward a mail there, it OCR scans the image and sends you back the text.

P.S. sending email as images is one of the most stupid ideas that seems to keep cropping up. It's not in any way making it impossible to get at the email, but it just makes it extremely inconvenient to reply inline, or for differently abled people to read your mail.

IanCal 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The tone suggests this is playful, which is fine, since this is in no way secure. The FAQ has a few misleading claims though

> Your email's content is encrypted using banking-grade algorithms (256 AES) and securely stored on our servers.

> No traces.

> We were also growing tired of news about privacy issues and claims of government reading our emails behind our backs it all seemed very Orwellian

It feels like you're kind of suggesting these things are actually secure.

dingaling 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Hmm, so the e-mails are routed through their infrastructure and then ( presumably ) some form of magic is injected and delivered to the recipient.

Upon opening, the content 'fades-out' and fade.li assure us that they delete the content from their systems.

/me tries with disposable account

Aha, it renders the mail content as images. A bunch of basic HTML with the GIFs inline, I used wget to pull them down but the metadata is corrupted. I'll poke at them...

Aha2: animated GIF. Frame-by-frame 'writing' of the e-mail, then blanking-out. Presumably they delete the GIF from their server when it has been served once.

Here's one ( safe for work! )


INTPenis 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The title itself is a paradox and any IT person should see that.

First rule of piracy people, if you can read, see or hear it then you can copy it.

h2s 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Finally, DRM for email!
andyhmltn 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
Everyone's pointing out that these can be saved and they address this in their FAQ. It seems the purpose is not to stop the other person viewing the message more than once on their end (snapchat-ish) but to stop emails being recorded by email providers/governments.

EDIT: Looking through their privacy statement:

"Hence messages are to be sent at the risk of the user. Information such as messages, time, date, name of the receiver and sender are also logged by us.We also collect and use aggregated or de-identified information."

IANAL but that looks to me that they are storing messages?

7952 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What apps like this do is create social pressure on people to not copy things. If you use SnapChat it is obvious that you want the communication to be treated with more "sensitivity" than a Facebook post.

The common complaint that it is impossible to self destruct data is obvious to most people. If it is technically impossible to make something un-shareable then the only thing you have left is social convention.

vbuterin 35 minutes ago 0 replies      

"Hey, could you resend that? I opened it and then had to switch to another tab for a few seconds, but when I got back the message was already 90% gone"

borplk 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I have a sudden urge to send an email to dowhile@fade.li.fade.li
sarreph 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Seems like an interesting concept. It's easy to complain about the ability to screenshot/save the .GIF file; any application that tries to do this, such as SnapChat, will suffer from the same problem as there is always a way to circumvent services like this. They appeal because of their fun factor, and not a supposed ability to be ethereally secure.
JanezStupar 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This kind of defeats email as a medium doesn't it?

Also I am supposed to trust (yet) another third party who hasn't got a neck in the game to keep my privacy?

Sorry I don't get it.

aaron695 34 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think most people so far are missing who the target audience is.
1angryhacker 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Cool idea, well executed. Has obvious flaws & security issues but it could be a bit of fun.

Anyone else find the landing page a little bit overwhelming for such a small app? All the pictures of people having a great time seem a little over the top?

jpmatz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Kinda "Snapmail". Kinda brilliant.
adrow 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Didn't work with an email to my Fastmail account.
Startup School 2013 Doodles startupnotes.org
318 points by simonebrunozzi  19 hours ago   74 comments top 32
gkoberger 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Thanks for posting! If anything is unclear (it's always hard to find quotes without trimming too much context), let me know.
thinker 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This is fantastic and beautiful!

I made a few sketches myself as part of a larger project I'm working on (a year without cameras): http://crafture.me/post/64711241777/startup-school-2013

ajiang 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Beautifully implemented. If it's not too much to ask, please consider making public the source code behind the display and design - really gorgeous way of showing a collection of notes.
ecesena 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Beautiful! Did you tweet it? Can you post the link? We are curating a list of the best content on theneeds [1] and I'd like to add this one (we only import feeds or tweets).

[1] http://www.theneeds.com/learn/top-content/startupschool

fenguin 17 hours ago 0 replies      
These are beautiful! You should sell these, maybe individually as mugs/posters - I'd definitely buy some key one-liners for our office.

For those of you who want a bit more context, here are two sets of notes from this weekend:


There is some overlap between the two but also some differences so I'd suggest reading both.

[Disclaimer: I produced the first set - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6578780]

nodesocket 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Much better than my hand-written notes.


asperous 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Dat affiliate link ;). Only joking, you deserve it, this is great work.
tannerc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great format, simple execution and presentation for us who were unable to attend, lots of valuable insights.

I think the theme that stands out for me personally from all of these notes is: Find something you can work on almost non-stop, expect to fail a lot (because you will), learn and adapt, keep trying.

phogster 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a video of these presentations?
brandonhsiao 19 hours ago 1 reply      
That is actually so slick. I wish more web services had designs like this.
passfree 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I took the courtesy to convert these into pdf slides (for easier reading on iDevices, etc) you can download them from here (http://blog.websecurify.com/uploads/aa_StartupSchool.pdf) for now but it will be great if Gregory puts them on his website next to the github link.

Thanks for the great work Greg!

mceoin 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Dude, sweet post!

Big fan of sketch notes myself so I'll definitely be forking that repo.


joshdance 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome. Love the sketches. Did you use Paper?
exo_duz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful!!.... Thanks for creating this. This will be good reading material whilst waiting for the videos.
ishake 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How'd you create the Doodles? Just sketched them by hand and scanned them? or Photoshop?
daljeetv 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great Job! All of the startup school notes being posted on the internet have helped me make up a little bit for not being able to attend startup school 2013!
jermaink 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Gregory, this is really brilliant! Very well done!
localuser 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work. I noticed on the Dan Siroker (optmizely) slide that he states them having 140 customers, is that number right? Their site says 6000.
floetic 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Excellent work! One thing you missed on Nathan Blecharczyk's talk... "VCs want the B's Baby! (not the M's)"
brackin 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I would buy this as a little hand book. That'd be awesome.
trey_swann 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Insanely great. I'm a huge fan. Thank you!
kcent 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great! Awesome summary, and your quote doodles kicked the pants off of mine for sure. :)
jplmelanson 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Can anybody elaborates on Mark Zuckerberg's note "That stupid movie..."? :)
mrwnmonm 15 hours ago 0 replies      
when we will have the videos?
zaguios 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks really nice, but there might be a problem for someone reading these notes who didn't actually watch startup school. For example in Watsi's section you write "Worst part about being a non-profit: Nobody says NO", that could be a sarcastic comment, or it could be a problem of too much funding, or it could be it's actually meaning that everybody actually says no, but just not to his face. Also, the starting quotes without ending quotes drive me a little crazy, but that's just a personal thing.
theblackswan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work.. and some good 1-liners.
mikeadeleke 14 hours ago 0 replies      
You are ridiculous!
StewartD 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Man this website is gorgeous. Great work. follows @gkoberger
hackybadger 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Simply. Excellent.
scotthtaylor 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work!
adeptus 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone is praising you on the look/feel of your website, which I agree is pretty cool; however, the content of what "people" learned from the conference seems all but completely useless (unless the conference sucked that much that all you got out of each speaker was a couple of 1 liner's??). Not sure if you were serious about the content or just messing around to demo your website.
crazed_climber 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Too bad your page flip animation violates Apple's patent.


Show HN: Unirest unirest.io
150 points by sinzone  13 hours ago   61 comments top 26
onion2k 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking at the examples for Node and PHP, those are essentially two different request libs with the same name. That lack of consistency is a problem - at the very least anyone thinking "porting this app to <language> will be easy because Unirest is available" will be in for a nasty surprise. At worst, it shows a lack of planning and a lack of communication within the Unirest team, and that's a very big problem for anyone relying on the code.

Moving forward, I'd recommend working very hard on unifying your featureset and API so it's consistent across all the versions.

aroman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
As cool (and pretty) as this is, I'm not sure I see the point to using this over each language's best native http client. As someone else said, Python's requests is fantastic, as is the mikeal/request library in node.

Point being, why would I choose this over a library which is hand-tailored to fit the idioms of the specific language its written for? What advantage does one get by forcing a relatively standard REST API across different languages?

ozh 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
I recommend documenting that in PHP it's just a curl wrapper, as opposed to a lib that can work with curl, streams, etc... (nothing condescending on '"just" a wrapper'). Also give some insights on requirements (PHP 5.3+ I'd say?)
zamalek 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You really need to make an effort to conform with established naming/casing conventions in each language [1]. For example, your example page should read [2] for .Net.

[1]: https://github.com/Mashape/unirest-net/blob/master/unirest-n...[2]: https://gist.github.com/jcdickinson/4dd0125d7c5af9d4878f

ImJasonH 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
The Java library's use of a static method makes it difficult to inject and mock out for tests, requiring a wrapper class to be written by hand to make such things possible.
tfinch 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks nice - but unfortunately as someone whose day-to-day language is python, I'll give up my requests library [1] when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.


Not mine mine, it should be obvious. I'm not Kenneth Reitz.

In all seriousness, would be interested to hear about differences/benefits...

joshguthrie 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this. I'm already using Unirest.php to build a client library for my API and Unirest.rb is my obvious choice when I come to build the Ruby client lib.

As aroman said, some languages have nice built-in capabilities but some...just don't (PHP, I'm looking at you!). I love having this unified API which is very intuitive (especially when coming back to PHP after...7 years).

Keep up the good work!

seivan 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I found code like ' int code = [response code];'Why 'int' and not 'NSInteger'?

That being said, I've been looking for a NotWorking replacement, and this might be it. Either this or I write my own once and for all.

Will give it a go!Also; https://github.com/Mashape/unirest-obj-c/pull/8

btown 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting - does the Node version work if packaged for the browser i.e. by Browserify? Of course, there would be caveats, but it would seem like that would be very much in the spirit of this unified API.
Killswitch 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The PHP version seems to be meh... Gotta do a lot to get us away from Guzzle. http://guzzlephp.org/
jamesmoss 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a shame the PHP lib has a completely static API. It makes it very hard to mock when doing unit testing.
zaidos 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Small tip: It could just be me, but the color of some of the text makes it difficult to read.
ultimatedelman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The sticky footer on the bottom of the homepage blocks the bottom options. I'd make it not sticky ;)
netghost 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Minor nit, the ruby examples show:

    Unirest::post "http://httpbin.org/post", ...
That syntax is deprecated, you should probably just use:

    Unirest.post "http://httpbin.org/post", ...
I like the site though ;)

tomphoolery 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Heh, platform-independence...I guess that's one way to get them to use your HTTP library, as opposed to the thousand other libs out there to do HTTP. ;)

But I like it! In all seriousness this is neat and I like the idea of ubiquitous library syntax, especially for new programmers (which there are a LOT of these days!). The API is reasonably simple and it's nice to have one less thing to look up when experimenting with a new language.

clienthunter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I love Ruby so much that I shuddered a little when I saw the multi-line, multi-hash method call in the example code that made it look like js. Otherwise thumbs up.
mediumdeviation 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This doesn't seem to be a good idea

    curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);

zampano 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually used unirest.rb as one of the tools to teach my students about HTTP requests. I loved the clear syntax and found the experience a lot more straight-forward than many of the other HTTP libraries I came across. Thanks for putting this together!
MojoJolo 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice one Augusto and Mashape. I checked Java and it is using Maven. I would like to contribute with Scala and SBT.
hayksaakian 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If you could implement this for Unity3d using C# I'd be so happy
sirsar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there more documentation than what's listed when a language is clicked?
Groxx 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This makes me realize what I've been missing in most Java request libraries. And gives me ideas for building my own. Thanks for sharing!
Jemaclus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this, mainly because it's almost identical to my custom PHP remote wrapper.
felipesabino 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It should really use cocoapods for the objc library, as it correctly uses major package manager for all other platforms
reznite 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe this the old unicorn library which was submitted here a few times in the past. http://getunicorn.io/ I believe
the1 9 hours ago 0 replies      
why not support proper http including caching
Dear Startups: stop asking me math puzzles to figure out if I can code countaleph.wordpress.com
782 points by brryant  1 day ago   322 comments top 59
tokenadult 1 day ago 8 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 1 day ago 15 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 1 day ago 2 replies      
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 1 day ago 5 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 1 day 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.

dpiers 1 day 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.

Xylakant 1 day ago 5 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.

jroseattle 22 hours 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 1 day 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.

jph 1 day 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.

morgante 1 day 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.

DigitalSea 23 hours ago 2 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.

lotsofcows 1 day 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.

dschiptsov 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So it boils down to "show me your code" and then "please write a few test examples". To staff up a cheap coding sweatshop this method is good-enough.

In most cases an applicant must be able to read English (to google some code to copy-paste and occasionally search through documentation) and able to install and run Eclipse.

The real problem with hiring is that a HR middleman is ignorant and can't tell a good code form a restaurant menu. So he must give a very few simple exercises from common text-books with known answers.

The even bigger problem is that almost no one needs coders, everyone wants programmers which is a complete different set of analytical and engineering skills.

Coding is just a process of translation of a ready-made by someone else, poorly understood (if at all) specifications into a spaghetti [Java] code by calling poorly understood methods of ready-made classes, coded by someone else.

Programming is a process of understanding and describing reality (in terms of design documents, protocol specifications, and then, least importantly, source code in a several languages).

The criteria of success for a coder, btw, is when it just compiles (unit-tests? what unit-tests?) by the industry-strength most advanced compiler of the most sophisticated industry standard static-typing language (static typing is a guarantee from stupid errors, everyone knows) which is even verified to run correctly on the most advanced VM which incorporates millions of man-hours of optimizations, unless.. Never mind.

Success of a programmer is when it, like nginx or Plan9 or OpenBSD, is good-enough.)

Beltiras 1 day 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 1 day 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 1 day ago 1 reply      
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.

michaelpinto 1 day 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?
10098 1 day 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.
mcgwiz 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear poster, don't imply all startups are equal.

If a startup asks you to solve math puzzles, it's possible that the work you will be doing heavily involves the creative use of math or information analysis. (This is more broadly valuable than many people recognize.)

Also, it's also possible that that particular startup doesn't know how to effectively interview.

It doesn't sensationalisticly mean all Startups (capitalization yours) don't know how to effectively interview.

Also, rather than focus on your ability to learn, I would humbly recommend you reconsider the basic nature of employment. An interview should be considered a two-way conversation. You're not selling yourself as a slave, you're entering into a mutually-beneficial, private, voluntary arrangement. Thus, even someone who goes into an interview willing to accept anything and everything they offer could be expected to ask simply, "And what exactly will I be doing?" But better yet, grill them about every nitty-gritty detail you can think of. Although some insecure interviewers may be taken aback (I'm guilty of asserting the interviewer was wrong on more than one occasion, both times still receiving an offer), I for one am impressed when a candidate demonstrates a sharp, critical and skeptical mind in this way.

jasey 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The interview is a 2 way street. While the company makes you jump through hoops to see if your good enough, you also have a opportunity to determine if you want to work for them.

I like to ask "what will I be working on in the next 6 months" that way you don't rock up and than the second day they through you in the deep end of building a iPhone app.

Granted, startups only have a vague idea of what they will be programming with short periods but it helps.

Also ask "what will be my performance indicators". If they don't include "being able to very quickly learn new technologies" its hardly your fault.

lucasnemeth 1 day 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.
czarpino 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While I agree that puzzles and mind games are silly ways to appraise coding skills, they do give an insight about a person's raw intelligence, or knowledge, or potential. As CS is an application of math and programming is an application of CS, being good in math does not necessarily mean proficiency in it's application; same goes for CS. IMO, a good programmer must, at least, have:

+ knowledge - generally mastery of math/CS concepts and can be thought of as the potential

+ application skills - modeling a real world problem into a theoretical, computable, and (ultimately) programmable form

+ execution skills - implementation (coding) of a solution including the ability to utilize requisite tools/technologies such programming languages, DBs, OS, and so on

That said, hiring process should cover each of these areas and programmers should work on all these as well.

Tyrannosaurs 1 day 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.)

rexreed 23 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.

eksith 1 day 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.

keithgabryelski 1 day 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).

tbassetto 1 day 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 1 day 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.

gregjor 1 day 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 1 day 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.

mariozivic 1 day 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.

conductr 1 day 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.

rehack 22 hours 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.

sudomal 1 day 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.

swelly127 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I have the exact same problem as OP. Getting tons of job offers because I've been doing competitive math and algorithms since grade school but really have hard time understand technology. I'm pretty ambitious and I want to join a small, high growth startup and have the excitement of being part of a founding team but I'm afraid of letting people down.

I could learn heroku/RoR/whatever other technology but news things are always coming out and some people keep up with it so easily. I'm not sure being a dev is right for me if I take so long to understand such basic stuff. But I love coding and algos! I write python scripts to do all my homework... and then run them in codecademy labs because doing it in unix makes me so confused.

If anyone has had the same problem please let me know how you got over this hurdle. Thanks.

background; sophomore, cs major, cornell

joeblau 1 day 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.
Killswitch 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm absolutely horrible at math... I think I graduated high school (my only schooling) with the equivalent of just above grade school in math... I can code no problem though. I'm very good at it. Anybody asks me math puzzles I say thanks for your time, but I am done with the interview.
eaxitect 1 day 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.

jpgvm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When I hire programmers I try to favour ingenuity, knowledge and as best as I can gauge it, work ethic. For instance I might ask them about a theoretical task, possibly something like a scheduler or packet filter etc and give them domain specific data about how it will be used and ask them if there are any optimization they could make if they had this data about the systems use case.

Or I might ask them to describe how an event loop works.. or what the I/O path between their program and the disk looks like in as much detail as they can.

Someone that loves the field is going to have a decent idea about these things even if they never had to build one before.

caveat: these examples are very system level but you can substitute them with appropriate web, financial etc domain specific knowledge.

taude 1 day 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?
VLM 1 day 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.
jsun 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of companies use brain teasers or math problems to test general mental aptitude, whether it works or not is under serious debate, but in my opinion that's the right thing to test for (if it's even possible).

The reason is smart people can figure out git, or databases, or objective-c, or whatever, in a fairly short amount of time.

For example, my co-founder learned objective C off free online video tutorials and built an iOS app (talking an app with serious firepower and back-end transaction logic) from start to end by himself in less than 3 weeks.

That's why we're not as concerned about what you know right now as what it's possible for you to learn in 3 more week.

CmonDev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Start-ups can afford asking candidates puzzles? I thought everyone was struggling to find developers.
Xyik 17 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience, only the really big companies focus heavily on algorithms and math puzzles. That's because they don't really need to hire anymore people, they just want to steal 'smart' people, and they don't need to iterate as quicky. Start-ups and smaller companies have in my experience, typically asked full-stack type of questions that dive into things like networking protocols, databases, scalability, and so on. And I believe thats the way it should be. Start-ups that focus heavily on math puzzles and algorithms are doing it wrong.
codecrusade 1 day 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.
fnbr 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I found that Facebook was really bad for this. I'm a math undergrad, and I applied for a bunch of data analysis positions with them.

I was asked, as part of my application, to take a programming quiz. The quiz consisted of a graph theory problem. I did pretty poorly on it, given that I have no real knowledge of graph theory.

Had they asked me a question about statistics (or something similarly related to data analysis), I think I would have actually been able to answer, or at least been at a point where my programming knowledge- not my math knowledge- was what was holding me back.

Jugurtha 1 day 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.

anuraj 1 day 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.
fayyazkl 1 day 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.
meshko 23 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.
mindwork 22 hours 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?

theanirudh 1 day 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...

yeukhon 1 day 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.

trendspotter 1 day 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.

enterx 1 day 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 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not just look at the person's recent commits?
shindevijaykr 1 day ago 0 replies      
really true
progx 1 day 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.

The First App Store makegameswith.us
170 points by jvrossb  16 hours ago   45 comments top 19
pron 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This was perhaps the Minitel's greatest failure as well - because it was state run... The free market wins again.

If the Minitel launched in the eighties, how could have this article been written in the fifties?

Seriously, are Americans still fighting commies? What is this sick obsession with "the gobment"? Today we know we need both the private market and the government to build an economy that is both prosperous and beneficial to the people. Could you cut this fifties crap already?

And this wasn't a case of the "free market" winning again. This was just America winning again. And given that the US median income is steadily dropping while in France it's steadily rising, I don't know if there's much to be proud of.

brey 15 hours ago 1 reply      

  History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
(misattributed to) Mark Twain

moystard 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This article does not mention that the Minitel was a rip-off. All services were extremely expensive (3617 being the most expensive, at around 1/minute). It was also investing on people's credulity at the time: for example, expensive Minitel services avdertised in video games magasines targeting teenagers.

And for information, Free is not the largest ISP in France, Orange is.


iluvuspartacus 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Really the most annoying conclusion possible in the article: "The free market wins again."

The free market gets to win after sufficient government handouts gets something up and running. Then private businesses can swoop in and take the networks (or in this case, the concept) and claim that they won.

If your mother gives you a lollipop, you didn't win an epic battle for the lollipop. Just saying...

tantalor 15 hours ago 2 replies      
In the early 1990s US West (previously Qwest now CenturyLink) launched a Minitel service in the Minneapolis and Omaha markets called "CommunityLink"... The service was fairly short-lived as competing offerings from providers like AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe provided more services targeted at American users for a lower price. Many of US West's Minitel offerings were charged la carte or hourly while competitors offered monthly all-inclusive pricing.


asselinpaul 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Makes me proud to be French.

Xavier Niel is launching a tuition-free developer school:


The FT also recently had lunch with him:


cocoflunchy 15 hours ago 0 replies      

  Online dating has just started going mainstream in America.  The Minitel might explain a cultural difference or two between  the French and the rest of the world...
Ironically, in my experience online dating carries much less stigma in the US than in France. I'm not sure I agree with the implications of the article on the impact of the Minitel in France as a whole either, but then I'm too young to have witnessed it firsthand (I always saw one sitting in a corner at my grand parents', but that's about it).

tluyben2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
We had Viditel in the Netherlands which was like this (modelled after it I guess). I used it very briefly in the early 80s; after that I discovered ways to use Pascal and assembler to write BBS software and opened my first BBS on my MSX computer. That gave so much freedom that I never considered Viditel again.
Tyrant505 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is amazing and thank you for sharing; As API said in another comment. I wish i was alive during those days and also alive today. I hope I'll be saying it about our future, but there is something about the nostalgia, I just fixed desperately needed box with ribbons and remembered how much I loved it when i was younger..(fixed it btw.)

[edit] There was zero credit to government persons, which I kinda feel lacking.. Someone was thinking here.

fit2rule 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As an owner of a collection of old Minitel-compatible 8-bit machines (my 'nicest': an Oric Telestrat), I yearn for a return of Minitel. I imagine actually that the "Internet 2.0" movement would do well to make it feasible for anyone to create a node, and participate in, a MiniTel-like local area transmission network, with cheap .. like ultra-cheap .. parts and technologies.

If I collect two months of electronic trash from the local garbage-collector, I'm fairly sure I could reconstruct a miniTel'ish network, or 10, in short order.

Perhaps I should stop thinking about it on HN and just go do it, but see .. this is just another reason why the French are great!

vezzy-fnord 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh yes, I remember reading about the Minitel many years ago. Thanks for bringing it back to attention.

The fall of these old technologies leave behind a somewhat somber mood in me. Kind of like the decline of UUCP.

yannk 12 hours ago 1 reply      
As a child, I spent hours on the minitel, (disconnected - I never got the permission to use it online as it was very expensive) just to type ascii art...
NKCSS 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool, shame I wasn't aware of this, even though I live near France (.nl) and visted there for years...
aragot 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It was hugely expensive for the consumer: 3615 was a phone number, and it was surtaxed at 0,34/min if I remember well, even as early as 1995. No wonder the market was a billion dollars, it was a rip off.

Internet killed the milking cow, and everyone wondered how Yellow Pages could survive when they couldn't charge per minute anymore...

jypepin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I grew up in France, and was completely surprised when I learned that Minitel was something only in France.This was really the first internet, and the Minitel was really present EVERYWHERE.My parents had one, my friends' parents had one, we had a few at my elementary school.

I still remember the billboards, 3615 ULLA, funny memories. We still use the "3615" number as jokes with friends.

api 15 hours ago 1 reply      
How did I not know about this?!?
TheZenPsycho 11 hours ago 2 replies      
The UK had a similar thing run by the BBC called Ceefaxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceefax
eric5544 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think "Bildschirmtext" was a similar service that launched around the same time in Germany and also foreshadowed a lot of what the internet is now. Online shopping, forums, real time messaging, online dating, etc.
app_lover 8 hours ago 0 replies      
great story, but now what do you think apple allow this all stuff?
Google Acquires Android Performance Startup FlexyCore For A Reported $23 Million techcrunch.com
3 points by sciwiz  33 minutes ago   discuss
Wikipedia editors, locked in battle with PR firm, delete 250 accounts arstechnica.com
216 points by Jtsummers  18 hours ago   83 comments top 15
raganwald 16 hours ago 13 replies      
This should be fixed the old-fashioned way: By cutting off teh flow of money at the source. When clients are caught directly or indirectly using sock-puppetry and astroturfing on Wikipedia, banners should be added to the affected pages naming and shaming the clients.

"This page has been locked by Wikipedia in response to deceptive practices paid for by Engulf and Devour to circumvent our community standards and mislead readers."

If you want this to stop, you have to give the clients a disincentive. That will drive the good clients out and these firms will be left with erectile dysfunction flim-flam as their market.

tokenadult 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope, as a Wikipedian since April 2010, that this is the beginning of a thorough change of culture on Wikipedia in the interest of making Wikipedia more of a genuine free online encyclopedia[1] and less of a publicity platform for everyone who doesn't want to pay honest cash money for a paid advertisement. There is currently a proposal discussed among Wikipedians for a tighter policy against paid editing,[2] and as long as the new policy, whatever it ends up being, makes for less promotional content on Wikipedia, I'm all for it.

People who want to help Wikipedia improve as unpaid volunteers have a number of channels for doing that. One thing that would help Wikipedia's goal of better content quality[3] is adding more reliable sources to articles. I try to help that process by compiling source lists in user space that any Wikipedian can use for updating articles.[4] It's a long slog to fight the rot on Wikipedia. Reading Wikipedia takes a sharp eye for propaganda and advertising in disguise.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Here_to_build_an_enc...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Paid_editing_po...

[3] https://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Plan/Movement_...


[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:WeijiBaikeBianji/Intellig...


parennoob 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Their list of services https://www.wiki-pr.com/services/ looks like a corporate shill's sick mockery of Wikipedia's community standards.

I hope every single one of their spurious sockpuppet accounts get deleted.

CJefferson 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I would be extremely surprised if (quoting from article) it is only "as many as several hundred" accounts are being used by people paid to edit Wikipedia. I know at least a dozen people who have a wikipedia account just to edit articles to make where they work look good (I suppose it is not their full time job, but it is the only reason they edit wikipedia).
jedanbik 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Couldn't help but laugh when I saw the Wiki-PR affiliates page: https://www.wiki-pr.com/affiliates/



Just leave us your name.

Nicholas_C 16 hours ago 2 replies      
>"I'm much more worried about what happens when an unethical outfit manages to start getting major clients and start controlling articles that our average reader assumes are not written by corporate flaks."

Or worse, if Wikipedia's trustworthiness is tarnished beyond repair. I remember when I was in high school 5 or 6 years back Wikipedia was kind of seen as a joke by my peers. Now it's taken as near fact. Although I think skepticism of anything read on the Internet or elsewhere is healthy, I would hate to see it revert to the first state because of greedy "PR" firms.

sbov 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Depending upon how far the PR firm goes to circumvent their block, couldn't they be brought up on hacking charges? Could the companies that hire them be found culpable too?
DanBC 16 hours ago 0 replies      
These paid editing services are obviously lousy and harmful to Wikipedia and it's great that they've gone.

How well did average wikipedians deal with the editors and their clients? Was anyone turned into a useful editor? Or were more people left frustrated and baffled by the WP process?

swalling 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Related post previously on the front page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6580333
guelo 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Why doesn't Wikipedia sue this company and their clients?
malandrew 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Since these companies (or at WikiPR) are refunding the money when things don't work out they should just hire these PR companies directly via friends and family and watch those accounts that are editing the pages they paid to edit. Once they catch the people, they ban the accounts, revert the changes and then demand their refund. It's a basic honeypot.
rrrene 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The main problem here seems to be: Why must every company on earth have its own Wikipedia page?

That said, I can see why e.g. Microsoft, the East India Trading Company and BMW should be recognized in an encyclopedia. And there are examples of products (lines) that could/should be mentioned in a vast online encyclopedia as well (e.g. Windows, BMW 3 series) because they influenced industries/trends/zeitgeist and/or lifes.

But why, for the love of god, should every consultancy, contractor, forrester and his second cousin have an entry on this site?

EDIT: typo

mung 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Thought off the top of my head so it's not developed or thought through, but wouldn't Wikipedia do well to find a way of somehow connecting itself in with academia? It might gain better resources to knowledge and people and more credibility as a result. And make it more difficult to "just get access" to editing a page.
logicallee 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always thought Wikipedia is like the true prophecy of Isaac Asimov (encyclopedia galactica) - but not even old Isaac could have predicted this!!
ChrisNorstrom 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Why are we passing this opportunity up?!?!?!

Oh Jesus Christ, common now we're a community of entrepreneurs & hackers, someone just create a new startup that's wikipedia for people.

PeoplePedia.com is taken but here, but I've got http://www.infopag.es so it's perfect for something like InfoPag.es/ChrisNorstrom.

If someone wants to join in reply to this comment. So basically I'm envisioning a wiki for people. However, there's 2 routes I can go down:

a) Anyone can create a page on a person and anyone can edit and add onto or delete content from that page. (lots of growth, but lots of potential for abuse)

b) People must register to create a page on themselves, anyone can edit that page and add onto or delete content but the registered owner must approve the edits.

Which sounds better?

In Firefox 24 and following, mark all versions of Java as unsafe mozilla.org
111 points by y0ghur7_xxx  5 hours ago   140 comments top 22
kevingadd 2 hours ago 3 replies      
A lot of the angry comments about this seem to be coming from uninformed people who haven't actually tried it - that or something about this change isn't actually rolled out. I just tried it in an up-to-date version of Firefox 24, along with Firefox Nightly.

In both, with my existing old build of Java, I got a placeholder image like this:


Clicking it took me to the update page. Exactly what you want. There was an option in the top-left corner to forcibly load it, which is fine - updating is the right move.

Once I updated and uninstalled the old JRE, in Firefox 24 the applet I was trying loaded silently without any confirmation. It was not blacklisted.

In Firefox Nightly, once Java is updated, I see this placeholder where the applet would have been:


Clicking the placeholder opens a prompt asking if I want to allow the plugin once or allow it always on this site. Very straightforward.

Other than the fact that modern Java 7 is not blocked by default in Firefox 24 for me (maybe they didn't roll that out yet?), everything works fine here, and I don't see any catastrophic UI mistakes, developer/enterprise-hostile design, or attempts at destroying the web.

kristofferR 3 hours ago 4 replies      
A lot of the commenters here seem to misunderstand this change.

You can still easily run Java applets in Firefox 24 and beyond, you just need to click the red lego block in the upper left corner and allow it. [1]

It's much less strict than in Chrome (on OS X), where Java doesn't run at all anymore.

[1] https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-to-enable-java-if-i...

marvin 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This will be more great publicity for Norwegian government-owned consultancy Evry, which has built the BankID Java Applet which is used for authentication of each and every online consumer money transaction performed in the country.

However, it is about time - I've heard online banking developers talk crap both about BankID and the underlying online banking infrastructure in the country, and security holes due to Java exploits are rampant. The banks have paid the bill for this until now, but it causes massive inconvenience for...every Norwegian who uses an online banking service. (Every adult Norwegian, more or less).

Stratoscope 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm using Firefox in Ubuntu with Java to connect to a Juniper Networks VPN. When I upgraded to Ubuntu 13.10 a couple of days ago, the VPN launcher stopped working. I think Firefox 24 came along with the upgrade (that's the version running now).

I upgraded to the latest Java r45 and it still didn't work. Then I noticed a blinking red thing in the address bar where the security lock icon goes. I clicked that and it gave me an option to enable Java for the VPN connection site permanently.

Seemed easy enough to fix. I only had to click that icon once, and it's been working smoothly since.

jtheory 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Does anyone want to write a user-friendly walk-through to help normal users get Java running? I may have the time to assist, though I'm doubtful I could do the whole thing.

ScreenLeap has a good start: http://www.screenleap.com/troubleshooting-java

The advice they give varies based on the detected browser and OS (as it must) but it's somewhat out of date, and isn't intended for a general audience.

The applets on my educational site are signed JARs (a wasted expense, it seems), and they are explicitly run within the sandbox, but every few months it gets harder and harder for students and their parents to get Java to run.

And now in Firefox my interactive components have just become scary-looking blocks of DO-NOT-ENTER signs and warnings that are totally unwarranted for my site. If you work up the courage to click through the browser's warnings, then of course you get round 2, the warnings that the plugin itself pops up.

I dearly wish to see some of the details on the evil that's being done with Java applets, and if all of these aggressive measures are actually doing anything to stop real risks, or if the main effect is to kill sites like mine.

These do not seem to be actions based on data anymore.

RyanZAG 4 hours ago 5 replies      
This will have a pretty bad effect on Firefox's market-share if it goes live.

That said, it's a solution for the current problem and should really be applied to all plugins - I'm not sure why java is singled out here, many of the other browser plugins are just as bad. Java has likely the most widely publicized security vulnerabilities, yet I can guarantee you that many many 0-days are traded daily for practically every single other browser plugin as well.

tmilard 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I have reported this big issue forme in the developper forum last week.All java version, even recent ones, ALL are considered, (not like flash...) as a "permanent unsecure virus" by Firefox.

- How can the Mozilla team can think they can get away with this ?This behavior is all but neutral from firefox!

- So I have to drop my software that I programmed in 7 years ?I went 4 days ago in the developper forum to discuss about this :

---------------------------------Me: "A red no entry sign" is too radical for recent java player I think.My users give me a phone call to tell me "No way I will accept to install your software with this red warning"... Even the people who know me, tell me they got so scared they have really hesitated to accept java. Now I do understand at a time when java had urgent security issue this scary red-message was necessary. But I really wish that Firefox checks the java version installed ... and give a less-scary-warning-sign or a "go !" if the user has a recent java version (like the latest on java 1.7 update 30).

Benjamin Smedberg (chef of this idiot change): "We fundamentally disagree about the risks of the Java plugin. We believe the Java plugin is unsafe, and we want to present that to our users".

-- Is there a boss at Mozilla ? someone who cares about developpers.And yea Benjamin, you know, java is open source by the way.Fuck you idiot !Thierry

Tharkun 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The sooner Java moves away from Oracle, the better for everyone. That being said, there is rarely a need to run Java from a browser, aside from the odd game.

But, given Flash's similar reputation (not to mention it being prone to crash), why not mark Flash as unsafe as well?

calibwam 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a major move from Mozilla, but really it is not. In Chrome, you have to enable Java per site basis, and as long as the UI for enabling Java is good, it shouldn't be an issue. Java on client side is dying, anyway. And good riddance.
edwintorok 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Did they also disable Flash? (well I don't have the plugin installed anyway, so I wouldn't know)
Gonzih 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Great news, I'm always paranoid about java plugin. Now I can relax a little bit.
byuu 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm all for this being blocked by default, and the same goes for all plugins. But it certainly bothers me when they make it impossible to override their security constraints. Put in an about:config setting to allow Java, and it's fine.

All the heavy-handedness is going to do is force Firefox out of corporate IT environments where many internal websites rely on Java.

chris_wot 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm trying to find a summary of why this was done. This is a pretty high impact change!!!
NKCSS 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice :) Maybe this will nudge Oracle a bit (we can always hope, but know it won't do anything...)
nikbackm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great, maybe then I can stop checking if the Java updates at work also sneakily re-enables the Firefox plug-in behind my back each time they're installed.
motif 3 hours ago 0 replies      
haha, reading through the bug comments is golden. All the Mozilla folks are super professional coordinating between teams then it's released to the testing channel and shit hits the fan :D
DZittersteyn 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, this is really irresponsible behavior, I would've expected something better from Mozilla.. Until now they've first offered an alternative (e.g. pdf.js) before trying to move away from a tech.

Marking a current version as unsafe, even when there are no known exploits is simply ridiculous. I'd love to see the reaction of Mozilla if Microsoft decided to mark all Firefox releases as unsafe, and give a big security warning whenever you installed FF.

Especially if the UI for unblocking it in FF is as obtuse as the discussion implies..

eonil 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If Java is whole source of vulnerabilities, how it's working well in servers?
eonil 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What about Flash?
pjmlp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Now can we mark JavaScript as unsafe as well?
_random_ 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Why stop on the Java? Mark all Java* languages as unsafe.
tmilard 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I reported this big issue forme in the developper forum.al java version, even recent ones, ALL are considered, (not like flash...) as a "permanent unsecure virus" by Firefox.

- How can the Mozilla team can think they can get away with this ?This behavior is all but neutral from firefox ?

- So I have to drop my software that I programmed in 7 years ?Benjamin Smedberg (the guy at mozilla who made this shit) is an extremist.I went 4 days ago in the developper forum to discuss about this :

---------------------------------Me: "A red no entry sign" is too radical for recent java player I think.My users give me a phone call to tell me "No way I will accept to install your software with this red warning"... Even the people who know me, tell me they got so scared they have really hesitated to accept java. Now I do understand at a time when java had urgent security issue this scary red-message was necessary. But I really wish that Firefox checks the java version installed ... and give a less-scary-warning-sign or a "go !" if the user has a recent java version (like the latest on java 1.7 update 30).

Benjamin Smedberg: "We fundamentally disagree about the risks of the Java plugin. We believe the Java plugin is unsafe, and we want to present that to our users".

-- Is there a boss at Mozilla ? someone who cares about developpers.And yea Benjamin, you know, java is open source by the way.Fuck you idiot !Thierry

ZeroVM: Smaller, Lighter, Faster rackspace.com
135 points by bretpiatt  14 hours ago   66 comments top 13
VanL 13 hours ago 7 replies      
Van Lindberg here from Rackspace. If you have any questions, I am around to answer.
eaurouge 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps a bit off-topic, but I would like to get to the point where I can make intelligent comparisons between technologies like CoreOS and ZeroVM, and in general better understanding of containerization, virtualization etc. Can someone suggest a list of books that can get me started on that path?
davidw 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So... how do I use this with my Rails app, and to what end?

It looks like interesting technology, but I need a more concrete example.

zobzu 13 hours ago 1 reply      
ZeroVM is LXC but with NaCl.
saryant 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Big congrats to Cam and the whole team! I work for one of the other companies from their TechStars class, they were a blast to have in San Antonio.
anttiok 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Based on "Why ZeroVM?" (http://zerovm.org/wiki/Why_ZeroVM), a large part of the motivation for ZeroVM is based on the premise that regular VMs require a full OS and are therefore unacceptably fat. However, there are multiple platforms for running unmodified applications directly on VMs without requiring a traditional OS, e.g. the work I've been involved with: https://github.com/anttikantee/rumpuser-xen/

Determinism, OTOH, sounds interesting at least on paper. Is there any experience from tests with real applications in real world scenarios?

yesimahuman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Huge congrats to the LiteStack team. I was in their TechStars class and those guys are super smart.
nine_k 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one here who finds this approach somehow similar to Plan 9?
codex 11 hours ago 1 reply      
How is does this solution compare to Google App Engine?
epynonymous 12 hours ago 3 replies      
why not just use docker.io? what are the differences between zerovm, docker, and warden?
passfree 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I cannot see what this has to do with security. At the end of the day, it is the data that attackers are after and the app needs to be able to access it whether it is virtualised or not.
nwmcsween 12 hours ago 1 reply      
why not a different libc, such as musl?
psycr 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I like this alternative to titling.

The original headline is preserved, and clarified by the editorial clarification in square brackets. It would be great for HN to adopt this as a solution to the modified headline problem, with the provisio that editorial comment must only be used for the purposes of clarification.

Dawn of Autonomous Corporations, Powered by Bitcoin btcgeek.com
174 points by sidko  12 hours ago   158 comments top 34
jandrewrogers 10 hours ago 8 replies      
An important property of corporations is that they are always resolvable to a natural person. This is true even in jurisdictions like Nevada where the corporate laws allow arbitrary levels of blinding and indirection. The "autonomy" would be illusory.

Basically, you can't do much that is interesting unless a computer system ultimately resolves, or is imputed by law to resolve, to a specific natural person.

(EDIT: People are missing the point. What you call it is immaterial. All the handwaving aside, these "autonomous systems" including the ones described by the author are legally not autonomous. It is not possible under the law to construct such a thing. You may claim that it is "autonomous" but no government will recognize that claim as suggesting legal independence from a natural person. True AI would make this weird but we do not have AI today and the underlying fact still remains.)

fchollet 11 hours ago 2 replies      
With AI and advanced automation, and possibly crowdsourcing, it becomes credible that any type of economic value could eventually be produced in a decentralized fashion. And one can imagine that such autonomous corporations would evolve to be so competitive (since they can afford to) that they would put all profit-driven concurrents out of business.

The economy would eventually transform into a landscape of owner-less providers of economic value, perfectly "efficient" in the capitalistic sense. That might even happen sooner than fully decentralized governments.

clienthunter 9 hours ago 7 replies      
If Bitcoin ever graduates to anything more than a toy currency (last count was a billion or two USD globally?) then it's going to have to deal with graduate level problems. The business cycle is a thing I'm afraid, and the management of a recession to prevent it's becoming a depression is as close to a fusion of science and art as you'll ever see. The necessity for this isn't going to change as long as the human brain continues to function as it does.

In good times people want more money - a discussion on what they should want is irrelevant, lets stick to the facts - and in bad times people want to protect what they have (aggressively so). Now consider that what makes times good vs bad is not determined by money - it's determined and prolonged by some other shock like an asset misvaluation, the destruction of a massive crop, or some combination of external factors underlying the real or nominal non-money thing.

Let's say it's a rice crop. Those dependent on rice freak out, and push all their money into safe assets, those dependent on those dependent on rice do the same. The chain reaction continues until all the economy's money is tied up in safe assets, not being spent, and everyone is sat at home waiting for it to blow over. If policymakers do not intervene correctly at this point, this situation will become a depression, and much misery will ensue.

So what do we do? We make safe assets more expensive to lower the risk/reward ratio for commercial activities: we make bank holdings very unrewarding (lower interest rates), we devalue the money in circulation and provide liquidity in one move (print money), and government invests in big infrastructure (liquidity, jobs, momentum, signalling etc). All of this is designed to keep things moving and ward off a depression. And it works - this is why we abandoned the gold standard.

So given that Bitcoin means nothing to rice, or most other external factors, and not to the rigidities that exacerbate recessions - how exactly do we deal with this in the described autonomous utopia?

I very much agree that the regulators of currency leave a tremendous amount to be desired, but unfortunately this appears to be one of very few economic problems where decentralisation is not the answer.

BoppreH 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Reminds me of Charles Stross "Accelerando", where autonomous corporations take over the world and humans are driven away from it because we can't understand Economics 2.0.
Cogito 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The author believes that Bitcoin is the first of many future 'autonomous corporations' that are defined by their nature; they run themselves.

Of Bitcoin in particular it says

    this corporation has revenues, expenditures and profits.    However... no one owns this entity, it owns itself    ...it provides a payment protocol and employs miners to maintain that protocol.     The employs are rewarded with stock that is split at most into 21 million units
I really like this concept, but I struggle to link it to the thesis that Bitcoin removes 'the major missing piece of the equation payments'.

I think Bitcoin is able to be distributed and autonomous by its nature, and that any future autonomous corporations will similarly need to be autonomous by nature. Thus, while allowing for the kinds of payments and receipts an autonomous corporation will require, I don't think Bitcoin is the only thing such a corporation will need, nor the most important.

Instead, it will be innovative solutions that by their nature require decentralisation and autonomy that eventuate in this 'next generation of corporations'. Bitcoin will be an important model going forward; I'm really looking forward to solutions to other problems that surely will be inspired by it in the coming years.

CrunchyJams 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This article is a scaled-down version of the original one in Bitcoin Magazine by Vitalik Buterin. You can find it here:


spiritplumber 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I think an autonomous corporation is more likely to happen thusly:

* Person comes up with a business model.* Person automates it as much as possible, eventually automating all of it.* Person ends up being in a car accident.

There's no reason why the AI he wrote shouldn't be able to keep "living" (aka paying its bills) for a while, if the idea was of the right sort.

olefoo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a bad idea, just as bad and pernicious as autonomous robots with authority to commit lethal violence on their own say so.

When they ask how the humans went extinct, the answer will be; gradually and then suddenly.

sans-serif 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I for one welcome our new autonomous corporation overlord, which would hire people via TaskRabbit to become its shareholders, and hire lawyers via emails to protect its interests. It would commission new servers on various cloud providers on the fly to avoid being shut down. It would generate revenue by running a SilkRoad that cannot be stopped. It would employ security guards and hitmen to stop people going after it. It would commission black hat hackers to help it infiltrate various intelligence networks, and rely on Mechanical Turk to translate human language into something that makes semantic sense for it to act upon.
kybernetikos 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice idea, I've been looking forward to the 'self-operating-business-in-a-shrinkwrap-box' for quite a while, and this discussion sounds a lot like the kinds of things Charles Stross likes to put in his sci-fi stories.

Still, keeping a private key safe for a distributed corporation will be a challenge. One attack I can think of - set up a fake hosting company that claims to offer cheap hosting, wait for the corporation to move some of its agents there, then bam, you've got the private key. That kind of thing might be difficult to pull off, but if any of these corporations controlled significant assets, then the amount of resources an attacker would be prepared to expend would be very high.

I suppose it suggests a mechanism where spending resources requires the cooperation of a number of agents that must be contracted with different hosting companies, and perhaps a period of warm up, where for the first x months, an agent might do useful things but would not be given power to control money.

atmosx 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The conviction some commentators have that somehow Bitcoin is more secure, ethical and predictable than FIAT (central-bank-controlled) currency is hilarious.

Given the fact that 98% of BTC belong to 2% of portfolios and there's a way stronger anonymity compared to fiat currency (you all know who Bernanke is and where his power comes from) and early adopters can drive easily the market up or down. Personally I believe that's the main reason BTC didn't fall after SR bust. Because, what most believe is not controlled is TOTALLY controlled (big players didn't opt out).

That said I can see how BTC is useful and has awesome qualities, especially for people who understand technicalities of a digital currency and how money works.

However, BTC is a hoarding system. Much like gold and nothing like fiat. BTC is not inflationary, by design. Inflation is the first quality a fiat currency must have, in order make people willing to spend.

pranjalv123 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You could use something like Shamir's Secret Sharing [0] to make sure that most of the funds would need multiple people to approve expenditures, and give small amounts of money to groups within the organization.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamir's_Secret_Sharing

olalonde 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There is an article on that topic in the Bitcoin wiki: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Agents.

I am deeply interested in the subject and would love to discuss the topic and brainstorm some possible implementations with like minded people on Freenode (#bitcoin-agent).

eriksank 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The existing, politically-controlled system of finance and corporations has numerous and powerful enemies, hellbent on bringing it down, in whatever way possible. Furthermore, even without enemies, it is patently clear that the fiat money system is happily busy destroying itself: raising debt ceilings, engaging in quantitative easing, and so on. The libertarian movement is probably one of their smallest enemies in terms of headcount but at the same time it really looks like the most powerful one. If you read the original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, you can see that the entire purpose of bitcoin is exactly to bring the current system to its knees. I hope that BTC succeeds in doing that and save its supporters from being dragged along in the quagmire, before the current fiat system finally destroys itself.
gonzo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
20 years ago at Fringeware, Paco Nathan (is pxn on HN?) had the idea to form a corporation with a board of directors, put an AI on the board, then have all the human directors resign.
_delirium 10 hours ago 1 reply      
For better or worse, the degree of autonomy that this "autonomous corporation" has is exceptionally weak...
wsetchell 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think autonomous 'corporations' are anything new. If you replace Bitcoin with the gold market , most of the statements in the article still apply.

"""Gold can be thought of as the first real autonomous corporation although you probably dont see it that way. Think about it it provides a payment protocol and employs traders to maintain that protocol.

The idea is the same this corporation has revenues, expenditures and profits. However, once again, no one owns this entity, it owns itself."""

mmanfrin 10 hours ago 2 replies      

  only way to deal with those corporations will be through   Bitcoin (thats right, they wont, or rather cant, accept   fiat like US Dollar)
Bitcoin is fiat.

drcode 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Yeah, only a few people have come to this realization:

   1. It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a corporation without money   2. So far it's been impossible to receive money online anonymously

   3. Corporations can't be anonymous
Bitcoin finally gets rid of this barrier and makes anonymous corporations possible (whether autonomous or human-operated)

skizm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Just like the decentralized nature of the internet kept large companies and the government from taking it over. Oh wait...
return0 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Any kind of libertarian community/market/state will need to shield itself from all other political states in the world just as well. An army would be required for that, yet it's not clear if libertarians would collectively defend themselves.
droneStrikes 10 hours ago 2 replies      
There's one major flaw in this spectre of the unstoppable killing machine known as the "autonomous corporation":

If the whole premise of its autonomy rests solely on it's ability to engage in metered economic exchanges by way of some kind of bitcoin-style protocol, then an "autonomous corporation" MUST, by definition, persist on a distributed global network of continously available computers. So, if this entity has that dependency, then who's providing the hosting?

He who opts in on hosting the protocol, carries a say in the fate of the entity, thus this is no more "autonomous" than any other body of distributed human decision making. Whether it be voting, the purchase of publicly traded shares, or the organization of a bond to fund a bridge to nowhere.

It comes down to this: In order to mine bitcoins, or rather, add value to the system, you have to be constantly connected tothe internet. You can't mine a bitcoin in isolation. You can't power up a stand-alone, air-gapped machine, and mine bitcoins and expect them to have value when you connect it to the internet.

If you can't mine your own bitcoins in a vacuum, then very obviously, this requires you to interact with the world at large, over public networks. Those other systems must be available and complicit in such activities. That certainly doesn't fit my definition of "autonomous" in the sense of some massive force-of-nature style artificial intelligence boogey man. These systems need to be switched on, activated and tended to by someone. Someone will eventually want to extract value from these economic crypto-currencies.

So, here we are, coming back to the drone/remote control debate. Is a drone really "autonomous" when there's a pilot manning a set of remote controls from a bunker? Similarly, is this truly an "autonomous" corporation, when there are people deploying agents onto client hosts and services onto servers, all with the goal of gaining wealth? However you want to encapsulate the skill sets involved, that still requires expertise, and human intervention in my book, and certainly doesn't sound autonomous at all, to me.

Autonomy is a relative term. Whose autonomy are we talking about, here? And autonomy from "what" precisely?

waterlesscloud 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Cstross has an interesting take on autonomous corporations in his novel Accelerando.
spullara 9 hours ago 1 reply      
We normally call these _viruses_.
dkuntz2 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The aside in the third sentence really bugged me. It seemed to imply that Bitcoin isn't a fiat currency, but considering it, like the US Dollar which it mentioned, doesn't have any intrinsic value, isn't it also a fiat currency?
lingben 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It is difficult to keep reading when 'fiat' is used as an expletive.
bthornbury 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is incredibly interesting. Corporations essentially crowdsourced the way bitcoin is. I disagree that these applications will reside in the cloud however, because those are essentially provided and administrated by a central entity.

It's more likely that such an autonomous corporation would provide a cloud service. The protocol could be designed like bitcoin to reject hosts that don't meet certain criteria (such as latency or security). With Homomorphic encryption techniques being advanced these types of clouds could even be somewhat secure.

adamb_ 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Fascinating concept. It would need a very specific kind of product for such a cooperation to be able to withstand human competition though. The OP mentions a storage service & autonomous cars, but I'm thinking that a good candidate would be a product with such thin margins, supporting human labor could not be feasible.
etherael 5 hours ago 0 replies      
a blockchain that finances its ops by access to aquaponic food dispensaries would be an interesting future innovation. Similar to current cryptocurrencies, but the "backing" is that the dispensaries will take the currency for purchasing produce, and the mining process itself is linked to the creation and maintenance of those AP microfarms.
oscargrouch 8 hours ago 0 replies      
change the same logic as mining of bitcoin, and transfer it to work:

i mean, mining in this case will be work.. and the amount of work would say how much payment that work diserve..

but how to calculate work in a generic manner without being too linear.. like hours/work.. i mean.. pay for creativity, ideas, less tangible things..

and about other investments. how they would be decided?this requires a good amount of algorithms..

chad_oliver 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As an aside: the title image depicts the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand.
AJ007 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It brings a new meaning to paying your monthly bills when failure to do so brings death.
slackson 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Bitcoin autonomous corporations could use prediction markets to choose code changes.
tdaltonc 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a understandable analogy, but an autonomous profit making systems wouldn't need to act like a corporation. Depending on what it's decision making system is like, it could have behavior for which we don't a prior from which to make an analogy.
GitHub Training github.com
3 points by dhruvbhatia  41 minutes ago   1 comment top
JimmaDaRustla 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Some teams of my company are abandoning our version control, and I couldn't be happier. An "open" course would be hundreds of times better than the in-person training we've received on other corporate tools.
Why you need STONITH advogato.org
13 points by morphics  4 hours ago   4 comments top 2
lucian1900 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, even simple concepts like STONITH are hard to get right. I believe it was GitHub that had an outage because both db nodes shot each other, but their network was extremely slow because of some fault (which caused the initial problem as well) and both nodes received the STONITH message from the other at similar times, long after they each timed out waiting for a response.

Distributed systems are hard.

derekp7 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For some reason, I always get a bit disappointed when I read an article about STONITH, and it doesn't begin with a pointer to the world's funniest joke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_funniest_joke). Now I know that misplaced humor in technical documentation can go wrong sometimes, but this is one case that I think it can help make the concept really stick to the reader.
The inside story of Bombardiers $4-billion gamble on a super quiet jet canadianbusiness.com
105 points by uladzislau  15 hours ago   49 comments top 10
yread 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Hm seems still quite a bit noisier than airbus 350 (why isn't it mentioned even once in the article?)



But it's cool we got to see so many first flights this year!

Here is some detail on why it is so quiet


rurounijones 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Gearboxes in the Engines... I cannot quite figure out how that works since they are not driving an axle or anything... are they?

Any aerospace engineers in the house?

On plus side, if they work, more power to them. On the downside, sounds like a maintenance / reliability nightmare in the making.

[EDIT] May be of use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geared_turbofan

jcromartie 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Does reduced noise necessarily mean increased efficiency? Short of using heavy sound deadening material, I'd imagine that reducing the noise in an aircraft means saving a lot of that previously noisy energy for useful work.
forgottenpaswrd 5 hours ago 0 replies      

LCD user interface!Fly by wire!Carbon composite wings!Geared turbofan!

We are talking about more than 20 years old technology here. We (in our company) programmed cockpit LCD like 12 years ago or so...

auctiontheory 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Large airliners are a big-money duopoly with a US incumbent. A single deal can make or break a project, or a company. I wonder how worried the Canadians are about industrial espionage by the NSA, as may have happened in Brazil and Germany.
memracom 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The former Soviet Union also has a lot of airports that are too close to the city centre to handle noisy passenger air traffic. So there is a huge market in countries like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, all of which are spread out over great distances. In fact the ability to use a shorter than normal runway would make it possible for many of Siberia's towns to build an airport that could handle the Bombardier jets. And next door to Siberia is China which also has some considerable distances to deal with.
PhasmaFelis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll be interested in this when (ha) I hear that airlines are using that boosted efficiency to make coach seats more comfortable on the same profit margin, rather than continuing sardine-packing and pocketing the difference. Until then, it's entirely academic.
fidotron 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Argh, Bombardier make me angry! They're probably the main contender for showing how Canada still fails to understand the benefit of free market economics. The main problem here is all this stuff is essentially funded by things pulled out of the ground on the other side of the country, but rather than allowing the market to function you have a class of bureaucrats scratching each others backs in order to pass subsidies off to whoever bought them the best lunch last week or gave them a season ticket to the Canadiens.

That isn't to say there isn't a market for this kind of thing, but if there was really a market Bombardier could have done it properly, even via the stock market. Too much Canadian business is built around exploiting whatever the government is chucking around that week rather than being sustainable.

Fundlab 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So much to be desired for design thinking; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJFUWCyOHIM
darylteo 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Shouldn't there always be a manual flying mechanism failsafe in the case of electrical failure? Fly-By-Wire doesn't seem very safe to me... in the same way I have doubts about Drive-By-Wire.
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